To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe is an 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.

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books of X Genre” and I have decided to do the Romance genre. Now, this list includes books that aren’t “strictly” romance, but they all have romance in them. You can join Top Ten Tuesday too, just go to The Broke and the Bookish for all of the details.

My Top Ten Romance Books of All Time

Years ago, I read a lot of Harlequin Romance stories until I got tired of the predictability of them when I realized their plots were all basically the same. However, this book remains one very favorite Harlequin Romance book, and though I can’t really tell you much about it anymore, I do know that something about it made it stand out from all the rest to me. I hope to get a copy and re-read it soon.

2. 

If you’ve been following my TTT lists for long, you know that this book has popped up frequently. I LOVE this book!

3. Her Christmas Hero (Home to Dover Series Book 6) by [Beatty, Lorraine]

Apparently, this is Book 6 in a series called “Home to Dover”. I did not know that when I read it, and I have not read any of the other books in the series, as I have not read a lot of Love Inspired books, but earlier this year, I read three Love Inspired Romance stories and this one was fantastic! Lorraine Beatty did an excellent job creating characters that I cared about and routed for and came to love. I would love to read more about the characters in this story.

4. Love Unexpected (Beacons of Hope Book #1) by [Hedlund, Jody]

This is another book that has shown up on some of my other TTT lists. Again, I just love this book!

5. Kissed by a Cowboy (A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance) by [Clopton, Debra]

Again, this book is part of a series called the “Four of Hearts Ranch Romances”, and I have not read any of the other books in the series, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it has also appeared on previous TTT lists of mine.

6. The Promise: A Novel by [Steel, Danielle]

I used to collect and read all of Danielle Steel’s novels, but over the years, I fell behind on my collection and on reading them. However, The Promise remains one of my all time favorites.

7. Safe Harbour by [Steel, Danielle]

I really enjoyed this Danielle Steel novel as well.

8. Love Comes Softly (Love Comes Softly Book #1) by [Oke, Janette]

This is the first book in a fantastic series by Janette Oke. I have also shared this series in other TTT lists.

9. Message in a Bottle by [Sparks, Nicholas],  A Walk to Remember by [Sparks, Nicholas] and 

Okay, okay, I know I’m cheating, but it’s so hard to just pick 10. These three books by Nicholas Sparks are wonderful, and in my opinion like in most books that have had movies based on them, I believe all of these books are better than the movies, especially A Walk to Remember. I believe that the movies of Message in a Bottle and The Notebook held to the books’ story lines fairly well, but there were things that I felt were important in A Walk to Remember that the movie changed, left out, or compromised.

10. 

Yes, my last pick is also another cheat, but this series is so phenomenal, that there is no way to choose just one of these books as the favorite of the series. Dee Henderson did such a great job of creating incredibly realistic, believable characters that I came to love and feel that I really knew in these books that I was heartbroken to come to the end of the series. I would still love to see Dee Henderson write more about this wonderful characters. I look forward to re-reading this series in the not-too-distant future.

What genre did you choose for your TTT this week?

What Have I Been Reading Lately?

I suppose some of you may be missing my book reviews.  I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve done one because I have been reading books in the genre I am trying to write in hopes to help me with my scene setting.

Therefore, I have been reading a lot of Love Inspired Historical Fiction books and other Historical books about the old west.  Some of the titles I recently finished are:

The Love Inspireds:
Wagon Train Reunion by Linda Ford
The Runaway Bride by Moelle Marchand
Hill Country Cattleman by Laurie Kingery

Other Historical Fiction:
Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher

I enjoyed each of these stories and if you like romance stories of cowboys in the old west, you would enjoy them as well.

I’m not sure when I will get back to doing book reviews because my main focus is writing my novel, and now I have begun to read the Love Comes Softly and Prairie Legacy series by Janette Oke.  These are older books but are still great stories of the old west as well, and so I continue to read for help with my writing.

Do you like old west stories involving romance with cowboys?

Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday suggestion, as per The Broke and Bookish, is “Ten Reasons I Love X” and you can place whatever you like in the spot of “X”.  Therefore, I am going to do “Ten Reasons I Love Janette Oke”.

  1.  When I first gave my heart to the Lord and became a Christian, the first Christian fiction books I read were books written by Janette Oke.
  2. I love every book that I have ever read by Janette Oke, although, unfortunately, I have not read them all. Her characters capture my heart.
  3. I love that many of Janette’s stories are Christian historical romantic fiction.  Maybe that’s why I decided that clean historical romantic fiction is what I want to write.
  4. Although I have only read five of the twelve books in Janette’s “Women of the West” series, A Gown of Spanish Lace and Drums of Change are two of my favorite Janette Oke stories. Drums of Change is a special favorite because it is about an Indian girl, and I have always had a fondness and fascination for the Indians.  My great-great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian woman.  Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of meeting her.
  5. One of my favorite series of all time is one written by Janette Oke, and that is the Love Comes Softly series.  In that series, Janette created two characters that all of her readers fell in love with, Marty and Clark Davis.
  6. Janette Oke cares about her readers and their opinions.  She originally wrote Love Comes Softly as a single book, but many of her readers wanted more, and so with the encouragement of an editor at Bethany House publishing, she wrote a second book, and the series eventually turned into an eight novel series. When readers still wanted more, Janette wrote four more novels, The Prairie Legacy series, where the series of Clark and Marty Davis and their family finally ended because at the end of twelve novels, Clark and Marty had reached their final years together and Janette nor her readers wanted to mourn their deaths.  So finally, the readers were satisfied, and Janette had cared enough about her readers to change one novel into a series of twelve novels, and that remains, maybe, the best loved series Janette has written.
  7.  Some of Janette Oke’s stories have been made into movies.  The Love Comes Softly series was made into movies, and I LOVE them!  (Well, the ones I have seen) I have the complete book and movie series of Love Comes Softly, including the Prairie Legacy series, although I have not read the Prairie Legacy series.  I plan to read all of these twelve novels very soon, and then sit down and watch the movies!
  8. I recently found a book at a bargain book store that is a book about Janette Oke written by her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan, and I can’t wait to read it and learn more about one of my favorite authors!
  9. Janette Oke also wrote another of my favorite book series and that is her Seasons of the Heart series.  It is a four book series.
  10. The biggest reason I love Janette Oke is because not only does she care about her readers, she also cares about future writers and those who write letters to her.  I wrote a letter to her back in 1996, when I was hoping to soon become a published author.  I sent her a letter expressing my love for her writing and I sent her a short story of my own and asked for feedback and advice on becoming a published author.  Now, you and I both know that successful writers don’t usually answer their own fan mail.  They don’t have time, and they don’t read stories fans send them asking for writing advice.  Well, I want you to know that Janette Oke did just that.  She read my letter and the story I sent and she sent me a two page letter responding with answers to some of my questions about publishing at the time!  She offered me some tips on my writing and encouraged me to keep writing!  This busy, successful writer took the time to personally respond to my letter!  What a sweet, caring woman Janette Oke is!  I am so glad that I was bold in writing to her.  I still have the letter she sent me in the original envelope it was sent in, and it still means a lot to me today!I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Janette Oke in person or having any other contact or correspondence with her, but she will always remain special to me for taking the time to encourage me in my writing, even if it did take me considerably longer to really get serious about my writing.