Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review of Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

I was completely captured by Jody Hedlund's latest novel!

Cover ArtMichigan Territory, 1814

A voyageur and a young woman swept up in a time of upheaval and danger
discover firsthand the high price of freedom.

The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders.

Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British--and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who's grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.

As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they'll risk for love.

Captured by Love was a deep and abiding love story that I suspect will stick with me for awhile. The characters left alive on the page with anxiety and passion that I couldn't help absorbing.The book was hard to put down. The action wasn't intense and edge of your seat, but the love story was. The obstacles that this couple faced were challenging and seem to mount higher with each turn of a page. It felt much like plucking the petals of a daisy - they will be together; they won't be together; they will ... they won't. It pulled me through the story with a fierceness many stories lack.

The conclusion of the book, and the love story, didn't come with a crash or boom, instead it gently led the characters to a very natural ending that didn't feel contrived, forced or unrealistic. I enjoyed this part of the story the most.

Another awesome aspect of the story was the obviously powerful attraction and passionate bond between the two main characters. It at times felt so powerful that it would lead the hero and heroine to fall into sin. However Hedlund portrayed their angst/desire for each other beautifully and yet within the bounds of Christian fiction. The spiritual journey each character had to travel revealed the often times, very real emotions of lust, passion and sexual desire. Yet, this was perfectly balanced with their love and commitment to follow God's will and plan for each of their lives. Sometimes faith can be arduous. Well done, Jody.

The setting was beautiful and devastating at the same time - a war-torn isolated island of such breathtaking beauty in contrast to a harshness of survival. I felt the setting played a key role in the plot, keeping the reader entrenched in the emotions of the story.

Jody Hedlund did a fantastic job with this story. The writing felt so natural and flowed with ease. I have only read a few of her books to date, but she is closely becoming one of my tops! Captured by Love is the third book in her Michigan Bride Collection and from the tiny bread crumbs dropped in the final chapters I will bet there is another one on the way. (?) I have not read book 1, Unending Devotion or book 2, A Noble Groom in the series yet. This did not affect the enjoyment of this story at all. Check out her book links page where you can click on any of the books and find fun facts, chapter excerpts and reading discussion guides. Enjoy!

A definite recommended read for those who love epic love stories and historical backgrounds. A beautiful bouquet!

Feel free to check out Jody's blog if you are interested in writing. She has won awards for how helpful and fun her blog is. She is also active on facebook and twitter. On her website is a media page where she shares links from her book blogging tour she made this July to celebrate the release of Capture by Love. Be sure to check out the fun!

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to review it positively.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review of Stuck Together by Mary Connealy

When a lawman who values order gets stuck with a feisty crusader who likes to stir things up, there's going to be trouble in Texas! 

Cover ArtStuck Together is the third book in Mary Connealy's Trouble in Texas series. Book one was Swept Away and book two was Fired Up. The trilogy follows the lives and troubles of a group of men who met in the war and have bonded closer than brothers. They now all live in the same small town in Texas called Broken Wheel.

Publisher's Blurb:
Now that she's settled in town, Tina Cahill is determined to get Broken Wheel's saloon closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is showing signs of dementia. And his surprise sister quickly falls for one of Vince's best friends. Vince suddenly has a lot of people depending on him, and Tina doesn't approve of how he's handling any of them.

With nearly every other man in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with strong-willed Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her crazy causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he's got one more surprise coming his way: Tina's picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.

What I liked: Stuck Together is another notch in Mary Connealy's belt in telling entertaining, romantic comedy. This story is a lighthearted read filled with fun and adventure.

The heroine, Tina Cahill was fun. Her natural penchant for trouble combined with her fragile self-esteem made for a character you could root for. Vince seemed like an appropriate match for her. He's smitten with her from the first moment he saw her, but restrains due to his own hurts and fears of every having a family. His restraint only feeds her inner turmoil that she is unlovable. The cat-chasing-his-tail conundrum created by these two makes the pages easy to turn to find their resolution.

The mystery side of the plot was engaging as I couldn't guess the trouble maker until the characters started to figure it out. Also the tension that Connealy added in page after page pushing "Invincible" Vince to the edge was enjoyable to read.

What I didn't like: Jonas' story. I was very disappointed with this part. If you've read along with the series so far you will understand what I'm talking about. If you are just joining with the Trouble in Texas Series now, you may not find anything out of joint at all.

Jonas is the last leg of The Regulators group to fall in love. Instead of giving him his own book like the others, he is given a few chapters throughout this one. It is a whirlwind romance ending in a proposal after a couple days. Then the rest of the book the two lovebirds sneak off constantly, returning with messed hair and disheveled clothing. He is the town Parson! I absolutely did not like this part of the book.

I also found the writing disjointed. It felt "narrated" most of the time. It made the reading choppy for me. This series has not been as good as her earlier one The Kincaid Brides.

I would recommend this book to others who are familiar with Mary Connealy and like romantic cowboy comedy. However this is not a good one to start out with if you've never read her before. She has a new book coming out in September titled Tried and True, book one in the Wild at Heart series.

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not expected to review it positively.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I dare to believe in incredible things!

A group from our youth are in Mexico on a missions trip to offer help to an orphanage and assist with running a summer VBS.

The day they left our little town and headed off into the somewhat "unknown" I heard a song on the radio. It was such a powerful message I had to check it out further. So at home I investigated (er, uh I mean "googled").

Here is the video (AWESOME VIDEO) I found.

On a blog our Youth Pastor is using to keep us in the loop, he talks about an experience that hopefully taught those young men and women about being a part of the impossible. I will recap his thoughts here but please feel free to visit and read for yourself. MCYGMissions

Before leaving on the missions trip the youth group studied the life and thoughts of George Mueller. The Youth learned