Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox


Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he's not about to let an obstinate woman with newfangled ideas ruin all he's worked for. In hope of turning her interest elsewhere, he determines to get Melanie married off, and luckily, there are many single men in town quite willing to take her off his hands.

The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn't want her to marry any of them. He's drawn to her more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store offer unexpectedly positive results.

But someone doesn't want the mercantile to succeed, and threatening words have escalated into destruction and danger. Will Melanie and Caleb's business--and budding romance--survive the trouble that's about to come their way?

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox was an enjoyable novel that was sweet and quick to read. The plot line was had instances of humor, sadness, suspense, danger, and of course, romance. Even though the novel was a quick read, I was still held in suspense until the very end on who was behind all the threats. The story was told mainly from the perspective of Melanie with quite a few chapters also told from Caleb's point of view. The characters of Trouble in Store were realistic and fairly well developed. I liked that both main characters showed faith and trust in God and grew in their relationships with God and each other as the novel progressed. Melanie and Caleb also had different character flaws that they had to pray and work through. Levi, Caleb's young son, was adorable and very mischievous. I enjoyed the romance that developed between Caleb and Melanie even in the midst of other characters' attentions and as danger and tensions surrounded them.

Overall, I found Trouble in Store to be an interesting novel that was easy and enjoyable to read. I would definitely recommend both of Carol Cox's novels (the first is Love in Disguise) to readers who are looking for suspenseful romances to enjoy.

I received this eBook from and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Judge by Randy Singer

Previously published as The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney.
When a brilliant billionaire is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, he realizes that all his considerable wealth cannot prepare him to meet his Maker. But he has an idea that might: he will stage the ultimate reality show. With his true agenda hidden, he auditions followers from all the world’s major religions, inviting them to the trial of their lives on a remote island, where they must defend their beliefs against spiritual challenges.

Oliver Finney, a feisty old judge with his own secrets, is chosen to defend Christianity. As the program takes a strange twist, he quickly realizes he is trapped in a game of deadly agendas that may cost him his life. With Internet access monitored, Finney sends coded messages to his law clerk, Nikki Moreno. Aided by a teen crypto-geek, Nikki soon discovers the key to understanding Finney’s clues in an apologetics book Finney wrote and must race against time to decipher the mysteries contained in the ancient words of Christ before her boss dies defending them.
The Judge by Randy Singer was an amazing book that displayed the truth of Christianity against other religions in a brilliant manner. The story line was astounding, filled with plot twists, suspense, mystery, near death experiences, and the power of the Gospel. The narration of the story switched between Oliver Finney, his law clerk, Nikki, and the unknown backer of the entire "game". This allowed the reader to have an idea of what was happening to Finney on the island and to experience Nikki's process in trying to figure out Finney's code and to understand Christianity. This narration style also gave the reader a glimpse into what the unknown opponent what was thinking and planning while also increasing the suspense since the reader still had no idea who this person was. The characters of this novel were excellently developed and very realistic. Finney and Nikki both experienced personal challenges, and it was interesting to see how each choose to deal with these. Nikki grew a lot during the novel as she begin to experience Christianity and to understand why Finney was defending the truth. This novel also clearly portrayed the importance of living according to and defending your belief in God as well as what happens when a person takes a 'death sentence' and instead of turning to God, chooses to finish their life with evil.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Judge,  and I would highly recommend this novel as well as the rest of Randy Singer's novels to anyone who enjoys well written and suspenseful legal thrillers. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.
In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.
To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.
Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.
Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.
But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter was a sweet and an enjoyable novel that explored how love and God can mend a heart that has been overwhelmed by loss. The novel was an easy read, but the plot line was interesting and contained a good mixture of humor, sadness, suspense, and interactions between characters. The story was told from the perspective of both Beckett and Madison, which allowed the reader to see what both characters were thinking. The major characters of Beckett and Madison were developed fairly well and were relatable in their characteristics, choices, and the situations they had to deal with. The other more minor characters helped the major characters connect with one another, added comic relief at times, and helped Beckett and Madison work through their struggles and differences. Overall, I found Barefoot Summer to be a light but enjoyable novel that would be a great read beside a pool or while at the beach.

I received this novel for free from Thomas Nelson and in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof

Read an excerpt here.

Gideon O’Riley has two wives—but he doesn’t know it.
Settling into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O’Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob—and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon’s rightful wife.

As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength  she has.

While Gideon’s guilt  and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?

Lonnie only wanted her husband’s love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?

Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof is the sequel to her first book, Be Still My Soul. It was an interesting story filled with suspense, romance, heartbreak, and forgiveness. The story is totally unexpected from the beautiful end of the first novel, and I found myself drawn into the sadness and despair of this book as it was displayed with heart-wrenching clarity. The themes of this book were clear and applicable as many people faces times in their lives where they feel abandoned and have had their lives torn apart. Joanne Bischof does a great job pointing people, through her characters, to the importance of trusting God and leaning on Him for support and love. The story is told from the perspective of Lonnie, Cassie, and Gideon in turn.

The characters of Lonnie, Gideon, Cassie, and another new face are realistic and developed well. New characteristics that Lonnie and Gideon have are discovered by the reader as both of them have to deal with Gideon's past returning to haunt him. Cassie starts out as a seemingly arrogant and selfish woman, but as she observes Gideon's unfailing love to Lonnie in the midst of separation and tragedy, her heart and attitude are softened. Gideon also experiences a softening in his heart as he realizes what he is called to do and the forgiveness he needs to give and receive because of his past mistakes.

Overall, I found Though My Heart is Torn to be an excellent, heart-wrenching novel that left me wanting the next book in the Cadence of Grace series to be out already so I could discover what happens next. I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a touching yet spiritually and emotionally realistic set of novels.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.