To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe is a Christian historical romance story set in Oklahoma in the late 1800’s.

Any of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that, although, I read a variety of genres, Christian historical romance is my favorite. I read this book in four days. It usually takes me two weeks to read a book, but Jodie Wolfe created characters that grabbed my attention and my heart right from the start. She also included some very interesting history — I didn’t know there were “runs” to claim land in Oklahoma in the 1800’s. Therefore, I enjoyed learning about these “runs” while reading the story, and, of course, because some humans make bad choices, there were many complications to getting your land claim in some cases. Such was the problem for Elsie and Benjamin.

Elsie is a young woman who is on her own and doesn’t really behave like a lady. She also has no intention of becoming involved in a relationship with any man. She’s tough and independent, or, at least she thinks she is.

Benjamin is a preacher who wants to build a home and a church, to preach to a community. He’s experienced some tragic losses that have left him determined to remain unattached.

The things that happen as Elsie’s and Benjamin’s paths cross are humorous, frustrating, dangerous, and more.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and fell in love with the characters, not only Elsie and Benjamin but many of the secondary characters as well. I highly recommend this book to any Christian historical romance readers or any reader who just enjoys a good historical romance story that doesn’t contain profanity and explicit sex.

I give To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe five stars and look forward to reading more of her books in the near future.

Close to You by Kara Isaac

Allison Shire, a former academic, is now a tour guide for all things Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. She has sworn off love. Then Jackson Gregory steps into her life. He’s on the three week tour with his great-uncle, though he knows next to nothing about Lord of the Rings. He, too, has no interest in love and romance.

So, what happens when the sparks ignite between these two? Lots of mishaps and misadventures.

I really enjoyed this quick, easy read. it’s a really sweet, cute romance story that made me laugh and brought a tear or two to my eye. It was tons of fun with all of the references to Lord of the Rings.

Kara Isaac does an excellent job of writing witty dialogue and original descriptions. I will remember Jackson and Allison for a long time, and I may have to give this another read when I need something light and fun to read.

If you enjoy sweet romance stories or are a Lord of the Rings fan, you may find yourself as drawn into the story as I was. One night, I just couldn’t put this book down and I read past my bedtime. I finished the book the very next night, completed in just one week (I only have time to read for about three hours six nights a week).

This is Kara Isaac’s debut novel and I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to read her newer novel, Can’t Help Falling, released just six months after this one. Can’t Help Falling includes references to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which are near and dear to my heart.

The Captain Takes a Wife by Doris Durbin

I received a free copy of The Captain Takes a Wife by Doris Durbin for my honest review for BookLook Blogger.

The war is over and Captain Harry Richardson is looking forward to starting a new life in a small town as a pastor. He also hopes to find a wife sometime soon. His journey to the little mountain town turns quite interesting when he meets Sarah Franklin and realizes she’s in some kind of trouble.

She begs him for his help, and he cannot refuse. After all, she’s quite an attractive woman. So, as he tries to help her during the journey, they seem to meet trouble around every corner.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was suspenseful and romantic. There were unexpected twists, and just when I thought I knew who the head bad guy was, I found out I didn’t.

The plot, character development and dialogue all worked well to move the story forward without slowing down to much or leaving me too breathless for too long. There were some sweet, tender moments to balance out the threats and suspense, yet the pace  didn’t waiver.

Descriptions were vivid and painted pictures in my mind. There was even some humor at places. The  only thing I question is the setting. The place was well described and explained, but the story is to be taking place in 1875, and yet, I felt like I was in present day more often than 1875. That didn’t hinder my interest or the fact that I liked the book, but it did cross my mind a few times.

I’ve been reading books published by West Bow Press for quite a while and often find them lacking in many areas, so it was refreshing and delightful to read a book published by West Bow Press that I felt was quality fiction. So kudos to Doris Durbin for writing a book of good quality that I can honestly say I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a romantic suspense story.

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in order to write an honest review of the story.

Emily Price is an art restorer. She restores art that has been damaged by fire, water or that has become worn with age while harboring dreams of becoming an original artist, herself, one day. She travels to Atlanta to restore a mural in a home damaged by fire. That’s where she meets Chef Benito Vassallo, who is visiting Atlanta to reconnect with his brother and breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s restaurant, Piccolo. Emily falls in love with Ben as she works with him to improve the appearance of Piccolo, and shocks everyone when she accepts his marriage proposal and follows him to Italy.

Once in Italy, Emily struggles to fit into Ben’s close-knit family and creates problems for some of Ben’s family members when she was only trying to help. She begins to wonder if she belongs in Italy and in Ben’s family.

The story was romantic and it was easy to be swept away on the wings of love with Emily when she spent time with Ben in Atlanta. However, when she follows Ben to Italy and struggles to fit into his tight-knit family I can relate to her feelings and I cheer for her to fight for her place in the family because she and Ben seem so right for one another. Besides, Ben’s father likes her and encourages her.

I love the relationship between Emily and Ben. It’s sweet and romantic and a little bit magical. I love the dialogues between these two.

Katherine Reay does an excellent job of showing the relationship problems in families; not just mixed cultural families. Yes, some of the issues Emily faces in Ben’s family in Italy has to do with their culture, but most of it has to do with the differences in personalities and in the things they choose to keep inside.

I also think Katherine did a lovely job of painting a picture of Italy for her readers. I loved the driving scenes.

The fact that this was a wonderfully realistic romantic story is what endears it to my heart. Ben and Emily have a deep love for one another but that does not exempt them from challenges in their relationship that could separate them.

To read the way that Katherine Reay chooses to deal with the issues that challenge Ben and Emily both startled me, bringing tears to my eyes, and gave me a warm heart and encouragement I can apply to my own relationships.

If you like romance stories, but prefer your romance more realistic and not of the “happily ever after” flavor, I encourage you to read A Portrait of Emily Price.

My Writing Life

Okay, so I am working on an historical romance story that takes place in the old west.  I have ideas for at least two more books, possibly three, to create a series.

I’m part of several writing groups that offer critiques or are strictly critique groups.  Also, a couple of weeks ago I attended a writers’ conference where I had two appointments for one-on-one conferences with published authors to get input on part of my story.  Of course, I have things I need to work on and am very grateful for the two writers who were kind enough to give me advice.

Being a visual learner, one of the writers, my friend, Mike Dellosso, gave me some great advice that he worded in a way that created a picture in my mind, which I know I will not forget and will be able to apply to my writing.  You see, I am struggling with setting the scenes because I’ve been told not to write too much description.  Therefore I had swung to the opposite extreme and wasn’t writing enough description.  Mike told me to put myself in my character’s shoes and use my five senses and describe what my character is seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. as he walks down the street in that old, dusty western town.  He also gave me some examples which made this advice come alive for me.

A few days after that, I shared a piece of this same story with the critique group I recently joined.  I was extremely nervous and afraid of what might happen in this group.  I was pleasantly surprised that there were many positive things said (One lady really likes my main character) and they also offered some great advice.

Therefore, on Thursday night when I met with my weekly writers’ group, I was feeling overwhelmed about how to go about sorting through all of the advice and applying the needed changes to my story.  I just didn’t know where to begin.  My friend, Laura, who just finished edits on her first novel had great words to help me.  She suggested that I get rid of any advice that I didn’t believe was helpful, which I had already done.  Then she said to go through the ones who offered the least amount of changes and work toward the one who offered the greatest amount of changes.  She said that by the time I get to the one with the greatest amount of changes, I probably will be surprised to find that I’ve already taken care of many of those changes from things the others suggested.  Ahh, thank you, Laura, you gave me a workable plan that I can handle.

I am so thankful to have met and made connections with writers who have gone before me who are willing to help me on my journey.  As writers, we spend a lot of time alone working on our craft, but we need each other.  We need the help and encouragement of others and then we need to pass that on to those who come behind us.

How about you?  Who’s been helping you on your writing journey?

 

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Dauntless is the first book in the “Valiant Hearts” series by Dina L. Sleiman.  It is an historical fiction novel that includes adventure, danger and romance.

Born a Baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father’s failed assassination attempt upon the king.  Merry will go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children in her care.  The group becomes known as “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest.”

Merry’s life becomes more challenging when an old friend finds her after thinking her dead for two years.

Ms. Sleiman did an excellent job creating characters that wind your care and your heart quickly.  Merry appears as a female Robin Hood, but her and her group are quite different.  As danger lurked around every corner, I found myself routing for Merry and her group.  Another situation arises that caused a dilemma for my heart and mind as I read and found it difficult to know who to route for in the romance department.

Ms. Sleiman did an excellent job of resolving the story line at the end without causing my heart to break for any one of my beloved characters.  I finished the book feeling happy for Merry and her group and satisfied that I had read a good book worthy of my time.

I recommend this story for anyone who loves to read about strong women, adventure, history and romance.  I look forward to digging into Book Two of the series, Chivalrous.