Book Review: A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

a worthy pursuitA Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House, June 2015)

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her. Should Stone break his perfect record?

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.


A tumbleweed blows across dry land, a reddish-brown first swirling around a deserted town long-forgotten after two dueling cowboys fought outside the local tavern. Late 1800s Texas—a setting unlike any other, and one that is enjoyed by many readers of Christian fiction. Just not myself…at least until now.

I’ve never felt drawn to the 1800s Western genre like so many of my fellow readers are. This setting just did not appeal me; to be honest, imagining a story set in this time period still doesn’t make my heart beat in anticipation as it does when I find a new World War Two or Regency novel sitting on a shelf at Barnes and Noble. But before this month I had never read a Karen Witemeyer novel, and just as an unexpected dish can call us to new flavors or tastes, I have found that Witemeyer just might have made a Western fan of me yet after finishing A Worthy Pursuit. If the mark of a strong writer isn’t winning over fans to a new plot line or genre, I don’t know what else is.

A Worthy Pursuit contains elements of what I expected of a Western novel, such as gun-fights, ranchers, and dialect reminiscent of language spoken in John Wayne movies; however, there was much more to this novel than I expected of one set in 1800s Texas, such as a deep character growth, family drama, and a romance based on faith and trust. The elements of a Western-set novel that I imagined I would not care for—those gun-fights, cowboys, and dialect so far from own Mid-Atlantic lilt—bothered me very little because Witemeyer is a wordsmith who uses the deeper elements of point-of-view, metaphor, relationships, and character development to develop her stories. Instead of mentally correcting Stone Hammond every time he left off his “g’s”, I focused more on his motivations and character as he carried off his bounty-hunting duties. Witemeyer knows writing: dialect should be used few and far between, and only to enhance the scene. I did not drown in Texan language, and that alone immersed me into the story and impressed me with Witemeyer’s writing skills.

A Worthy Pursuit excelled in every level of what makes a great story: endearing and believable characters chase after dreams, battle insecurities and villains, and follow their faith through internal and external challenges. Charlotte and Stone—the heroine and hero, respectively—both grabbed my attention from the first few pages of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed Charlotte’s journey from nervous schoolmarm to a woman in love. Her mama-bear protectiveness of her three children drove the story, and Witemeyer’s choice of background for her heroine was unique, believable, and compelling. Much to my surprise, I also found myself rooting for Stone much sooner and deeper than I expected. This bounty hunter turned my head towards a profession I never thought I would cheer on—hero or otherwise. Witemeyer’s decision to make her hero and heroine older than what is usually found in fiction also struck me as exceptional. Not only did the ages enhance the believability of the story, the ages also serve to connect Witemeyer’s characters with readers who are not the typical blonde-haired, blue-eyed beautiful heroes and heroines usually found on the covers of fiction novels.

From endearing children with unique capabilities to wizened and loving secondary characters, the cast of A Worthy Pursuit alone makes this novel worthwhile to read. A strong second to that statement—and one of my favorite aspects of the book—is the characters’ use of faith internally and with each other. Characters in A Worthy Pursuit frequently turn to their faith during times of joy and hardship. In internal dialog to themselves as they pray for peace and understanding, to discussions of God’s goodness when making decisions, Stone and Charlotte in particular demonstrate the daily conversations and prayers all Christians should emphasize in their daily lives.

RATING: 4 stars


karen witemeyerChristy Award finalist and winner of both the ACFW Carol Award and HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

Find Karen online at the following sites:

website                   Amazon




Book Review: Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

Not by sight

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin (Bethany House, August 2015)

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she’ll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them–or the faith they’ll need to maintain hope.


Certain books speak to us even before we have ever read a novel by a new author. Kate Breslin’s Not By Sight was such a book for me; from it’s gorgeous cover depicting so many symbols and metaphors to come from the story, to the intriguing back-cover blurb hinting at what’s to come, I eagerly assigned myself this title to review. Not By Sight fulfilled my expectations plus many more—but then again, I knew this would happen because I met Breslin last year at the ACFW conference. From her charming personality to her kind smile—and the numerous awards she’s garnering for her first book—Not By Sight was bound to become a favorite of Christian fiction readers.

I make no secret that within historical fiction my preferred time period is World War Two. This interest could undoubtedly bias any other historical fiction I choose to read; however, with my love for Downton Abbey—and its captivating storyline during World War One—I am becoming more and more interested in stories set during 1914-1918. Breslin’s superior storytelling in Not By Sight has cemented my curiosity for this time period. I absolutely loved learning about the Great War, the suffragette movement in England, and, of course, the continued battle of England’s aristocracy to reign supreme in a time of change.

While I am a full-blown patriotic American, I also have a love for all-things British, which Not By Sight fully engages in throughout the entire story. Breslin shares glorious descriptions and details of the Kent countryside in which the main characters spend much of their time. It is unlikely I’ll visit Great Britain anytime soon, but in Not By Sight I felt as if I walked the vast estate and grounds right along with Grace and Lord Roxwood. I also thoroughly enjoyed learning British World War One history. The author many of the sentiments—both pro and against—the British people dealt with while watching and waiting for their sons to return from France. This time was so tumultuous for Great Britain, and Breslin skillfully weaves her pen to help her readers empathize with the British people.

Not By Sight is a character-driven novel with arcs that demonstrate Breslin’s skills as a writer intuitively aware of people’s emotions and motivations. Out of the two main characters, I preferred Jack Benningham (Lord Roxwood) to Grace Mabry. I found the hero a much deeper character that I could relate to—one who truly has physical and emotional pain to work through; however, by the end of the novel I can definitively say that Grace is the character who develops and matures in a most satisfying way. Jack is a man’s man through the entire novel. He is brave, wounded, strong, handsome and tough emotionally and physically. I easily envisioned him and sympathized with him because Breslin created his character in a way that was believable and realistic. With Grace, however, I had a harder time believing in her actions. A daughter of the aristocracy, Grace is passionate about her country, women’s rights, and in supporting the war effort so her twin brother may return home from France. I enjoyed Grace’s character because her passion for supporting others, including those in classes below her own, was admirable. Grace is a sweet character with a good heart; however, her naiveté in the blind patriotism and suffragette movement that motivates many of her actions did not completely convince me in the development of Not By Sight’s storyline.

This novel is one that is reminiscent of many classic pieces of literature, such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Scarlet Pimpernel, but the story that most often came to my mind while reading the story is Beauty and the Beast. For that reason alone—yes, I am staunch believer in any retelling of the Classics—I could easily recommend this novel. For all of the other reasons mentioned in this review—superb storytelling, captivating historical detail, and an imaginative plot—I not only recommend Not By Sight but wholly believe in re-reading Breslin’s sophomore novel.

Rating: 4.5 stars


KATE BRESLINFlorida-born author Kate Breslin lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family and a very spoiled cat named Coco. A former bookseller, Kate has also written for many years, including travel articles and award-winning poetry. Her debut novel, FOR SUCH A TIME, earned a starred review in The Library Journal and is both a Christy finalist and an RWA RITA award finalist. Her second book, NOT BY SIGHT, will release August 4, 2015. When she’s not writing, Kate loves to read or take long walks in Washington’s many beautiful forests. She also enjoys a bit of traveling—not only within the U. S. but to Rome, Greece, Turkey, and many parts of Western Europe. She’s always seeking new ideas for the next story! Please visit her website. She’d love to hear from you!

Find Kate at the following sites:


Book Review: Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

through waters deep

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin (Revell, August 2015)

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.



Fresh onto a new series set within her favored genre of World War Two historical romance, veteran author Sarah Sundin takes readers on a suspenseful and romantic ride in 1941 Boston. I have read each of Sundin’s novels, and I firmly believe at this point that she keeps writing stories better and better each time. With Through Waters Deep she has taken her trademark historical romance and blended in a thoroughly developed mystery with suspense and deeper themes than in her previous novels. If this novel is indicative of her future works, readers are in for a fantastic lineup of Sundin’s books to come.

I enjoy Sundin’s novels because she writes in my favorite time period—World War Two—with elements that make any story great: history, romance, faith, and friendship. Through Waters Deep contains all of these elements but stands out most highly because of the care Sundin took to research the time period and setting of the novel. I read blog posts on the author’s trips to Boston where she learned about the Navy Yard and various places around the city, but even without those posts I could glean from Through Waters Deep how much work Sundin took to bring the time period alive. From meticulous details about the ship the hero lived on, to the particularities of Boston in 1941, I could easily imagine every scene and setting in this novel.

These details blend into the other aspect of Through Waters Deep that signifies Sundin’s latest release’s superiority over her other novels: the mystery and suspense of the Boston Navy Yard saboteur. Never in my life would I wander into a bookstore specifically looking for a mystery novel; however, I just may have to reconsider that statement in the future when it applies to historical Christian fiction. Sundin researched the particularities of writing mysteries before taking on Through Waters Deep, and both the prose and story demonstrate how much studying the craft of writing can assist a writer in penning an excellent book. Each page of Through Waters Deep brims with suspense, and the red herrings continually keep readers guessing at whom the real saboteur could be. In addition, Sundin betters her story by giving each potential villain a side story that turns him into a person with whom the reader could sympathize. I sat on the edge of my seat throughout this entire book—and I loved Through Waters Deep for that.

Main characters Jim Avery and Mary Stirling became two of my favorite characters as I read Through Waters Deep. Jim is a dashing hero who charms his way into Mary’s and reader’s hearts; he carries just enough bravado to make him a man’s man, while simultaneously becoming a man of God’s own heart. Mary is a sweet and hardworking lady of faith, curious about the world around her and with a good and loyal heart. Between the two of them they prove that friendship always makes for a strong romance, and they grow in faith in love. Through Waters Deep could very well be Sundin’s strongest novel regarding faith. She makes the faith element of this story accessible, believable, and applicable for her readers.

I loved Through Waters Deep and plan to re-read this novel because I’m sure there are elements of the story—especially the mystery—that I missed the first time around for reading it too fast. I just simply couldn’t put the novel down! The next book in the series, Anchor in the Storm, releases in 2016 and is already on my pre-order list.


Sarah-Sundin-pink-5Sarah Sundin is the author of the upcoming Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep releases August 2015), the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every LetterOn Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time), and the Wings of Glory series (A Distant MelodyA Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow), all from Revell. In addition she has a novella in Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook, September 2014).

Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

Find Sarah online on the following sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest , Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.


Book Review: Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House, June 2015)

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s been given the post as lighthouse keeper, and the isolation where he can drown in drink and hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s none-too-pleased to be giving up her position. They both quickly realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but Ryan’s unwilling to let anyone close, ravaged by memories and guilt. Caroline’s drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?


Hearts made whole—an appropriate title for a novel that, by the end of reading it, made me feel as if I had a renewed relationship with Christ. From its gorgeous cover to its deep storylines of faith, love, hope, and family, every aspect about Hearts Made Whole drives readers towards a fulfilling spiritual and emotional connection with God. Jody Hedlund, known for her rich historical dramas within the CBA, has crafted a novel that I predict will go on to win many awards in 2016. Readers who enjoy deep emotional novels set in times gone by will want to read Hearts Made Whole as soon as possible.

I have long wanted to read Jody Hedlund’s novels because since I have been involved with the CBA industry I have heard all positive things about her writing. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing her first young adult novel—while I enjoyed An Uncertain Choice, I held such high expectations for her books that I felt a bit let down by this book. That response was purely a personal opinion of reading level and interest and of having too high expectations for a person whose is just that—a person, not perfect. Nevertheless, my interest in Hedlund’s adult novels remained high, and oh am I so glad I read Hearts Made Whole. This book is, in my opinion, just about perfect. In fact, it just might be my favorite book of the year (along with Pepper Basham’s The Thorn Bearer).

I loved each and every scene, character, and setting in Hearts Made Whole. From learning about lighthouses along the Michigan waters, which I found fascinating; to experiencing the political strife over women’s rights in post-Civil-War Michigan; to family drama between siblings; to the romance between the main characters, every page drew me deeply into Hedlund’s story. In fact, this rich storytelling, which is what I yearned for in her young adult book, is just what makes Hearts Made Whole and Basham’s The Thorn Bearer my favorite novels of 2015. Hedlund writes stories that make adult readers truly consider the world around them; she doesn’t shy away from challenging situations, and she uses her stories to draw her readers closer to God through characters and scenes that teach readers that people from times gone by experienced incredibly difficult situations and still made it through with their faith intact.

It should be a testament to how much I loved Hearts Made Whole that before I even finished the novel I ordered the rest of Hedlund’s novels. I’ve even pre-ordered her upcoming novel, Luther and Katharina, coming out in October of 2015. I cannot wait to read each of Hedlund’s novels—they’re beckoning me from upon my bookshelf, where I can see them in all their beautiful glory—but I plan to read the first book in her Beacons of Hope series, Love Unexpected, first, followed by her Carol Award winning novel, A Noble Groom. Another testament to my love of Hearts Made Whole is my new interest in lighthouses and Michigan history. My only wish now is that the third novel in Hedlund’s Beacons of Hope series, Undaunted Hope, could be published sooner than early 2016.


Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of nine novels, including Captured By LoveRebellious Heart, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award and INSPYs Award. She received a bachelor’s from Taylor University and a master’s from University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

Find Jody online at the following sites:

Amazon                    Facebook

Pintrest                     Twitter

Instagram               Goodreads

Book Review: In Good Company by Jen Turano



After spending her childhood in an orphanage, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her enthusiasm for her job tends to bring about situations that have employers looking askance at her methods. After her most recent dismissal, Millie is forced to return yet again to an employment agency.

Everett Mulberry has suddenly and quite unexpectedly found himself responsible for three children he barely knows. Attempting fatherhood while also pacifying the less-than-thrilled socialite he intends to marry is made even more complicated when the children scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.

At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance—with each other. Everett is wary of Millie’s penchant for disaster, and she’s not entirely keen on another snobby, grumpy employer, but they’re both out of options. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges and tries to stay one step ahead of them, Everett is more focused on achieving the coveted status of society’s upper echelons. As he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the children’s parents’ death, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?


Jen Turano, comedic authoress extraordinaire, continues the A Class of their Own series with a second romantic comedy that will brighten your days and add a smile to your face. In Good Company is a delightful novel that I highly recommend for all readers of Christian fiction—regardless of preference towards historical or contemporary—because it simply shines with laughter, wit, romance, and faith. Before reading In Good Company I had read only one other of Turano’s books; upon putting down her second novel of 2015, I know now for certain that this author is one whose books will always be on my to-read list.

In Good Company is a blend of the Mary Poppins story with A Sound of Music: full of hilarious shenanigans between precocious children and their unconventional-but-loving nanny, Turano’s story takes readers on a romp through the glitz and glamour of Gilded Age New York and Rhode Island. The beauty of In Good Company, as with all of Turano’s books (gleaned from the one other I’ve read and from what I’ve learned from other readers and reviewers) comes from her ability to create unique situations and characters within realistic scenarios. Many novels, for example, claim a nanny as the heroine of the story. Not many novels, however, have the nanny walk around with a dictionary in her pocket so she may learn to use big words. In Good Company made me laugh aloud numerous times with the unpredictable yet believable circumstances Millie, Everett, and the children found themselves in. Despite the…unusual…aspects Turano used in her novel, each scenario was uniquely funny enough to have happened in real life.

I enjoyed In Good Company quite a lot and am now eager to read the first book in this series, After a Fashion. With hilarious romps that showcase Turano’s ability to write original characters and plots, In Good Company is a perfect blend of humor, faith, and depth. The third book in the series, Playing the Part, will be published in March 2016.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


JenTuranoJen Turano is the critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House.  Her novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013.When Jen’s not writing, she spends her time hiking around Colorado, socializing with friends and family, and taking great pride in watching Dominic, who will soon be off to college, turn into a remarkable young man.  (For readers of A Change of Fortune – Dominic was the inspiration behind little Ben – which is why you won’t be surprised to learn Jen’s been slightly taken aback over the fact Dominic’s turned out so well.)

Visit Jen at her website.


Book Review: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade


A Love Like OursFormer Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?


Fresh off the success of the rest of the books about the Porter family, Becky Wade continues her series about the handsome and charming brothers in her third book of the Porter family series, A Love Like Ours. Starring the third youngest brother, Jake Porter, this novel centers on this wounded marine and his charismatic former-best-friend turned leading lady as they regain their lost friendship. A Love Like Ours is set amongst horse farming and racing—Jake as a trainer and Lyndie James as a rider. With the backdrop of training these beautiful creatures as a metaphor for the healing and redemption both Lyndie and Jake experience in this story, A Love Like Ours is an enjoyable contemporary romance sure to stir the hearts of readers familiar and new to Wade’s novels.

While A Love Like Ours is the third book in the Porter family series, Lyndie and Jake star in this story. I have not yet read the first two books in the series, but I did not have any trouble connecting with the characters or following the story continuations brought in from Wade’s earlier novels. Jake and Lyndie are precisely what readers—especially females—want from a romance: the typical “Tall, Dark, and Brooding” as Wade so aptly nicknames her leading male, and the charming, beautiful, and optimistic female. Both of Wade’s characters performed exactly as needed for A Love Like Ours to progress; however, while I loved Jake Porter’s character and saw depth and growth through his character arc, I did not enjoy Lyndie’s character.

As a former marine who saw battle, Jake struggles with PTSD and with trusting and healing following his return home. His challenges reflect his work on his horse farm and his relationships with others. Wade takes Jake on a personal reflective and redemptive journey through truly beautiful scenes both interpersonal and with other characters. I found Jake’s conversations, questions, and growth as believable and authentic. Jake’s journey made me want to go deeper into my own relationship with God, which is just what Christian fiction is supposed to do for readers.

With Lyndie, though, I found myself wanting to put A Love Like Ours down for long periods of time. This leading lady came across, to me, as spoiled, stubborn, and argumentative. In addition, her reasoning for some of her choices seemed unrealistic for a character of her age, and her living situation—while desirable for anyone in Lyndie’s position—came across as fantastical. I found it hard to relate to Lyndie, so even though I thoroughly enjoyed Jake’s character and the other elements of the story, such as the romance and familial relationships, I could not wholly devote myself to this novel.

Becky Wade is a stand-out author of contemporary Christian fiction, and I will most definitely read the other books in her Porter family series, as well as anything else she writes for genre.  I have high hopes for her first two books in the series, and I am looking forward to her upcoming–and final–Porter family book about the one-and-only girl of the siblings, Dru. A Love Like Ours is not my favorite of her books, but it is still a wonderful and enjoyable novel that I rate highly for its romance and faith elements.

Rating: 4 stars

P.S. For a review of my highly-rated favorite book of 2014, Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart read this review.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write  positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own.  I disclose this statement this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”


Becky Wade

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn HeartUndeniably YoursMeant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

Find Becky online at the following sites: