Thursday, January 3, 2013

Against the Tide

Elizabeth Camden's latest novel, Against the Tide, was even better than her previous two books - and that's saying a lot because they're both excellent.

Against the Tide takes up the story of Alexander "Bane" Banebridge, who is a character from Camden's first novel The Lady of Bolton Hill. Bane is very passionate about bringing down the opium trade, but to do this he needs a translator. And Lydia Pallas is the only person in the Boston area fluent in the languages he needs. Lydia desperately needs the money Bane pays in order to have any hope in keeping her apartment. But of course, she doesn't know what she signed up for before it is too late to back out.

Camden weaves information about opium into the tale effortlessly, as well as the politics behind the trade. It is these seemingly simple accomplishments that make a story move from "good" to "great." But it is no simple task. Camden gives readers the information they need to grasp the enormity of the situation facing Bane and Lydia without beating her readers over the head with the facts. Keeping the balance is the challenge and Camden nailed it.

I can't wait to see what she comes up with in her fourth novel due out in August: Into the Whirlwind.

*I was given a free copy by Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Unending Devotion

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund was a riveting read. It addresses a topic so many Christian authors shy away from: prostitution. Particularly in the 1883 lumber camps.

Lily Young's only sister has disappeared into one of the numerous lumber camps of Michigan with the intention of making money. Lily is determined to rescue Daisey, even if it means walking into every brothel in the state. Connell McCormick has turned a blind eye to his workers frequenting the brothels, believing it to be the only way to keep them happy and that as long as he didn't partake he was still being a good Christian.

Lily takes Connell's blinders off as she fights for her sister. But will Lily's impulsive ways save the day or create more chaos? And will Connell be able to protect Lily from her enemies?

Hedlund approaches the topic of prostitution without beating a Bible over her readers' heads. If fact she doesn't really address it directly. She just shows through her characters that love is the only way to deal with any type of sin. Love and forgiveness.

Both Lily and Connell's struggles, internal and external, are expertly constructed. The whole story is humorous and serious, the perfect blend.

I look forward to what Hedlund comes up with next.

Take a look at the trailer.

*I was given a free copy by Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Over the Edge

Over the Edge, by Mary Connealy, is the third book in The Kincaid Brides series. It is a beautiful blend of action, humor, and romance. I have not read the earlier books in the series, but that will soon be remedied.

Seth Kincaid is a survivor, but a crazy one. After all, he doesn't remember marrying Callie. Callie won't let him off easy though and follows him out to Colorado after he disappears. When she finds her husband, she wants to shoot him. All Seth wants to do is make amends, but Callie doesn't trust him and won't let him out of her sight.

What a wonderful way to start out a marriage, huh?

Connealy did a wonderful job characterizing Callie. Her reactions to being abandoned by her husband are believable, it is no wonder she is so reluctant to trust the man she married.

Seth also has to deal with the terrors of his past.

These internal battles are always the hardest to maintain credibility at a writer and Connealy doesn't seem to bat an eyelash in the process.

Take a look at the book trailer.

*I was given a free copy by Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nothing to Hide

Nothing to Hide by J. Mark Bertrand was an excellent novel. I have not read the two previous books in the Roland March series, but Nothing to Hide stood on its own feet without their help. I'm sure the other books will further show me what I already know about Bertrand: that he weaves a phenomenal mystery and has great character development.

Detective Roland March is given a corpse to identify and find justice for through tracking down its killer. As twisted as murder is already, it only gets more tangled up when the FBI makes a point to talk to March. Who is March supposed to believe when politics is hampering his investigation?

One of the brilliant things about this novel is how Bertrand brings together different stages of March's life seamlessly. All the minor details that readers don't always notice are paramount to the grand scheme.

*I was given a free copy by Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Love in Disguise

Carol Cox's novel Love in Disguise blew me away. I have never read anything like it in Christian fiction before. This probably has to do with Christian authors being hesitant to address the issue of theater and acting. Cox, however, dives right into the issue.

Ellie Moore grew up in the theater community. It's all she knows. So when she loses her job as a wardrobe assistant, Ellie has few options left to her: starve with her dignity in tact or lose even that to put food in stomach. That is until she hears of an opening at Pinkerton Detective Agency. She is given the job eventually. It is a job which will truly test her acting abilities.

Throughout the novel, Ellie's perception of God is challenged - how can He be both wrathful and loving? - as well as her choices for the future.

Cox integrates all these questions naturally into the story without ever preaching. Her strong characters all but walk off the page.

*I was given a free copy by Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Submerged by debut novelist Dani Pettrey is an excellent read. I started it the day I received it in the mail and had finished it by the next day.

The baggage Bailey carries with her about her past is well portrayed and realistic. It may have gotten a little redundant at times, by repeatedly bringing up the same issue as Bailey faces her past, but if I were under the same circumstances, I know I would be dwelling on the same thought and be hard pressed to let it go as well. With this in mind, her confrontation with her past is done even more accurately than I had originally though. And the whole issue of facing the past is relevant to nearly everyone.

I had never read a Christian suspense novel before and I was thrilled with the way Pettrey keeps the readers in the dark till the very end while weaving the aspects of Christianity throughout the story and not getting too preachy.

I cannot wait until the next book in the series, Shattered, comes out in February 2013!

*I received a free copy of Submerged from Bethany House for an honest review

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prize of My Heart

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato is a refreshingly straightforward novel. It seems in want of some depth though. The characters' motives were solid, as was the overall plot, but I thought the end was obtained too easily - that it didn't have quite as many twists as I would have liked. One of the main things which kept me engaged in the story was that the plot described in the synopsis was resolved about halfway through the book and I was curious what else there was to write about. It is a good read if you're looking for something simple and lighthearted.

Lorena is a shipwright's daughter of whom Captain Talvis has commissioned a large vessel. They met under odd circumstances involving mistaken identity and a boy under Lorena's charge. This boy is the key to why Talvis chose Lorena's father to build his ship: the boy is Talvis' long lost son. In order to win the heart of his son, he must win the heart of Lorena, whether or not he is ready to give his heart again.

*I received a free copy of Prize of My Heart from Bethany House for an honest review