Book Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

High as the HeavensHigh as the Heavens

Author: Kate Breslin

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: June 6, 2017

About the Book

Page-Turning Intrigue and Romance from an Up-and-Coming Historical Romance Talent

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

Reading a book written by a beloved author and set during a favorite time period–a safe and pleasurable choice. Reading a book penned by a beloved author but set during a less familiar time period and written with skill comprised of plot twists and intricacies and talent with the written word–brave and dangerous rolled into one, for the reader is chancing to fall in love with everything that is both different and beautiful. As I finished High as the Heavens, I found myself firmly in the latter category because this novel is unlike anything I have read before (despite that I have read Breslin’s 2016 World War One novel Not by Sight). The differences between High as the Heavens and other works of Christian historical fiction and ABA (general market) fiction are precisely why I call this novel one of the best I have read; this book challenged me, taught me pieces of history I had not come across otherwise, and fully drew me into the horrors and beauty of wartime.

Breslin and Bethany House should be commended for High as the Heavens because this novel breaks the norm in three strong ways: the World War One time period, while becoming more popular in fiction, differentiates itself even further with a relatively untouched plot line; the Belgian setting takes readers out of the typical English location; and the hero and hero’s romance takes place primarily off the page due to wartime circumstances. I was immersed in High as the Heavens as Breslin brought me into a plot in which every time I thought I had figured out what was going to happen, I was wrong. I was drawn into High as the Heavens  as I yearned for Eve and Simon to overcome their personal challenges and find their way back to love. And I was captivated by High as the Heavens as I followed them both through the dangers of spies and secrets and bravery of wartime Belgium and France.

With her third novel, Breslin has confirmed her talent for writing deeply moving historical fiction that plunge the depths of human behavior. I cannot recommend High as the Heavens enough and am once again looking forward to reading more from this author.

RATING: 4.5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KATE BRESLINA Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives with her guitarist husband, John, and a spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. These days, when she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with her author friends, she’s reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following John’s musical career as his #1 fan. An avid  “tree-hugger” she often enjoys long walks in the forests or playing in the garden. Kate’s also a traveler–she and John have toured most of Washington state and many places in the U.S. And with her intrepid mom as traveling companion, Kate’s also been abroad–Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, even a day trip to Turkey. She’s always looking for the next story idea!

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Book Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

The Reluctant Duchess

The Reluctant Duchess  (Ladies of the Manor #2)     

Author: Roseanna M. White

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: April 2016

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A RIVETING EDWARDIAN SERIES SET AMONG BRITAIN’S HIGH SOCIETY

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough–not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when Rowena’s father tries to trap Brice into marrying his daughter, Brice makes a surprising decision.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to marry a notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW:

Anyone who walks into a Barnes and Noble or surfs Amazon for more than a minute could state that there is no shortage of books in Western civilization. Whether in print or e-format, numerous genres and authors abound with stories fantastical and beautiful enough to whisk you into whatever world you wish to visit. Having many choices, however, requires readers to open new books with open minds. After all, a loaded to-be-read list often means favorites; and favorites, reader friends, equals favoritism.

With that key word in mind, I opened The Reluctant Duchess knowing the second book in the Ladies of the Manor series had a tough predecessor to follow. You see, The Lost Heiress, book one of the Edwardian-set series, is my favorite book of all time (aside from Pride and Prejudice, of course). How could I possibly ensure that Roseanna White’s sophomore novel was given a fair chance as my new favorite book?

It turns out that I need not have worried myself about whether I could remain unbiased while reading The Reluctant Duchess. While The Lost Heiress still remains my favorite book, White’s first and sophomore novels in this series are so different that it’s impossible to compare them purely on the merits of enjoyment. I love both of these books and for vastly opposing reasons–and that, reader friends, is one of the many reasons this series is special.

The Ladies of the Manor series introduces readers to numerous characters and places throughout its novels. The idiosyncrasies and traits of both characters and settings offer unique perspectives on historical stories that open up the lives of people whose worlds are so different–but also so similar–to our own. The Reluctant Duchess is a story filled with the horror and pain of abuse; the steadfastness and protection of a relationship; and the faith and trust in something bigger than ourselves. Unlike the first book in the series, I found that White’s second novel moved slowly, much as the relationship between main characters Brice and Rowena evolved, letting me savor the processes both go through to become the Godly man and women each other deserve. (Take care to note that although I said the story moved slowly, that does mean the story read slowly–two very different things.)

With the steady pace of The Reluctant Duchess, I found I was better able to know Brice and Rowena. Whereas The Lost Heiress had me quickly turning pages to uncover the story, with The Reluctant Duchess I was much more invested in the unique outcomes for each character. This story was less driven by the plot of the Fire Eyes diamonds (although that plot still exists) and much more dependent upon what would happen with White’s hero and heroine.

I enjoyed The Reluctant Duchess very much and am so, so excited for White’s third book in the series. A Lady Unrivaled will be released this fall from Bethany House. September 13th can’t come soon enough!

Rating: 4.5 stars

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna WhiteRoseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham (Penned In Time #2, Vinspire Publishing, February 2016)

12141649_10207821471475424_6414826805133351175_nWith her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?

Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.

David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pumps fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

REVIEW: 

A classic is said to be a work judged over a period of time to be of the highest value and outstanding of its time; whose lessons will forevermore be applicable to those who engage with the art. If the definition to what we define as classic novels today–Austen, Bronte, Shakespeare, Emerson, Thoreau, and the like–can apply to future generations, then I firmly believe that readers should begin compiling their lists now because some standout authors are emerging in the Christian fiction publishing industry. One such author, Pepper D. Basham, has written a work of art in The Thorn Keeper, a story that brims with redemption, forgiveness, faithfulness, grace, and love; themes we encounter every day, but ones that envelop a classic in that they apply to each and every one of us, regardless of when or how we live.

The Thorn Keeperstarring lady Catherine Dougall and Dr. David Ross, begins shortly after we meet its heroine and heroine in the first book of the series, The Thorn Bearer. Catherine and David are two characters who, on the outset, seem as unlikely to be matched as a couple could be; however, after meeting them in a redemption scene brimming with grace and romance, I knew that if anyone could bring two characters together so beautifully, it would be Pepper Basham. The author does that and much, much more in The Thorn Keeper.   Through the gentlest of touches, the most longing of stares, the purest of loves, Basham shows how God’s gift of romantic love is so much more than physical. Readers who love love stories, this book is for you.

Basham’s technique of weaving spiritual truths with gorgeous prose elevates her stories from the traditional to the classic. I’ve read her contemporaries as well as her historicals, so I can assure you that whether she’s writing about the hospitals in World War One England or the mountains of contemporary North Carolina, this author has a talent for wordsmithing. In The Thorn Keeperthe history of World War One England will draw you into a time where only redemption, grace, and love can fight the social stigmas and class divisions of the Edwardian Era. Catherine Dougall is a heroine worthy of praise and admiration–and by far a favorite of mine. I found that Her heart for helping others, bravery in the face of losing all she’s ever known, and steadfast love for her family drive this story. David’s part of the story, likewise, was a catalyst for the romance: ever the stoic hero who learns to let his guard down for love, I cheered for him as he pursued the woman he loved, chased after his dreams, and stood by his king and country.

The Thorn Keeper is a book to add to your pre-order list, or if nothing else, to the top of your to-be-read pile. Or both! I highly recommend this novel for fans of historical fiction, romance, and inspirational stories.

Rating: 4.5 stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Pepper BashamPepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, and has already garnered its first award with Readers’ Favorites International Awards. Pepper’s second and third books in the series arrive in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in April. You can connect with Pepper on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com, Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham or Twitter at https://twitter.com/pepperbasham.

Novel Review: A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky (Edwardian Brides #3, WaterBrook Multnomah, October 2015)

The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from London to her family’s magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France.

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War One she travels to London to assist her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband Jon have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny’s dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of  chasing Zeppelins across the front line in France, he feels it’s unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can’t help admiring the pretty, warmhearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout form those experiences push Alex beyond Penny’s reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war? Will faith and forgiveness bring them together again?


REVIEW:

I love stories set during times of war; for the last thirteen years, any novel or movie set during World War Two immediately caught my attention. While the 1940’s remain my favorite time period for stories set in war time, in 2015 a second time period has gradually won my heart. Christian fiction authors have penned quite a few novels set during the Edwardian Era, and their talent for bringing this turbulent time to life captures the hardships, challenges, romance, and elegant changes of Great Britain in the early 1900s. A Refuge at Highland Hall, written by historical-fiction fan-favorite author Carrie Turansky, is a gem of a book filled with endearing characters; dual settings of gorgeous Edwardian England and wartime France; and faith-filled lessons of redemption, love, and hope. Readers of historical fiction, especially those who yearn for historical romance, will want to pick up this book because it’s a perfect blend of the challenges of war, romance fraught with the pangs and beauty of new love, and family drama.

The storylines in A Refuge at Highland Hall, book three in the Edwardian Brides series, pick up right where Turansky’s sophomore novel left readers last year—and oh, how I am happy she wrote her newest release in this manner. Much to its compared counterpart, the Edwardian Brides series is beloved for the same reasons Downton Abbey resonates with readers: family drama and romance mixed with the changes of Edwardian England. Turansky is a master at intermingling numerous storylines in a way that combines the history of this time period into the personal lives of her characters. I loved this aspect of A Refuge of Highland Hall because I came to care about all of the characters in this saga, all while learning about the nuances of class distinctions and wartime England in the Edwardian Era.

Turansky has created a world that instantly transports readers back into early 1900’s Great Britain in A Refuge at Highland Hall. The combination of superb historical research and endearing, realistic characters drew me deep into this story—so much so that I truly felt as if I walked through Highland Hall with the Ramseys and Fosters, and flew through the skies above France and Germany with hero Alex Goodwin. The theme of family plays a central role in A Refuge at Highland Hall, which was one of my favorite aspects of this novel. No one—not one single character—is left untouched in Turansky’s story, earning my devotion to this fictional family that I wish existed in real life. With her setting built upon the details of the time period, the themes of family and faith are able to be explored in a manner that clearly demonstrates how families in Edwardian England lived lives so differently, and yet with the same fears and joys we experience today.

A Refuge at Highland Hall is a wonderful book for many reasons all of its own, but Turansky’s skill at writing prose that is both beautiful and approachable language contributes to the book’s appeal. I will be surprised if numerous lines in the novel are not found floating their way in graphics on social media, or conversely, will not be surprised if many of Turansky’s fans have memorized her words. I myself have already done the latter—and even found myself squeezing my eyes shut during a certain heart-stopping scene involving the hero’s wartime battle. This novel has largely influenced my conversion from being ambivalent to the World War One setting to being excited about future novels being set during this time. Two months in advance I already know that A Refuge at Highland Hall will be on my 2015 favorite books list. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read historical fiction.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Purchase A Refuge at Highland Hall on the following sites: Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Lifeway, and Barnes & Noble.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carrie TuranskyBestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky has written more than a dozen historical and contemporary novels. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award; and been a finalist for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the ACFW Genesis Award. Visit her blog and sign up for her email newsletter on her website. Follow Carrie on Facebook and Amazon and check out her Pinterest Boards.