Book Review: Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Heart on the LineHeart on the Line (Ladies of Harper’s Station #2)

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: June 6, 2017

Witemeyer Returns with Her Trademark Blend of Adventure, Romance, and Humor

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


I absolutely loved Heart on the Line. I’ve enjoyed each of Witemeyer’s books I’ve read thus far, but this novel far exceeded my expectations so much so that I didn’t know what to do in regards to reading once I finished this story. My favorite novel of 2017, this book also has earned a spot on my “forever favorites” list. I felt an immediate connection with our heroine, Grace, and our hero, Amos–oh, how I wish more novels has heroes like this quirky, charming, academic, and brave man. Not only was the story filled with characters who are admirable, unique, funny, and original, Heart on the Line‘s plot is quirky and faith-filled just as is its hero. While historicals set in other genres tend to be my go-to books, novels like Heart on the Line continue to prove to me why reading outside our typical genres is one of the best things we can do. Witemeyer is the perfect example of how authors who are talented with their writing and creative with their stories open up new worlds for their readers.


karen-witemeyerChristy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, 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.

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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!

Book Review: Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell

Flirtation Walk

ABOUT THE BOOK:

West Point History Comes Alive in this Warmhearted Romance

Lucinda Pennyworth, the daughter of a con man, is trying her best to leave her father’s sordid past behind her. When he dies unexpectedly, she takes the opportunity to move to West Point to live with her aunt, ready to take on a new life and determined to marry a respectable man, a West Point cadet, to impress her relatives.
Seth Westcott, a cadet at the academy, is proud to be at the top of his senior class. But when his mother dies and his sister loses their inheritance to a swindler, Seth wants nothing more than to head west to track down the con man. But the army will only send the cadets at the bottom of the class to the frontier…which leaves Seth with some tough choices.
When a woman trying her best to be good meets a man determined to be anything but, can there be hope for love, or will two lonely hearts be condemned to casual flirtation?

AMAZON | GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE

MY REVIEW: 
Reading a book by an author you’re familiar with, or from a genre that you know you love, or set during your favorite time period lends itself to some certainty. That feeling of certain pleasure makes for some good reading when the price of a good book is a hefty fifteen-dollars and at least a few uninterrupted hours.
But when those factors are put aside–when you’re fairly certain you can expect something good out of a book–and something more happens…now that, reader friends, is when book magic comes alive.
 I’ve read a majority of Siri Mitchell’s books over the past seven years; in fact, she was one of the first authors of Christian historical fiction that I ever read. Unfortunately, Siri’s 2015 release did not make it on my favorites list, so for the rest of last year I was unsure of what to expect from this prolific author in 2016.
 I didn’t need much convincing to pick up Flirtation Walk as soon as it released. West Point history? A novel set during the 1800s? A military romance? Yes, please.
Within just a few pages of Flirtation Walk I knew that this book would make it onto my Favorites of 2016 list. I loved this book. From its droll humor, to its historical setting, to its characters that so genuinely want to fulfill their roles and find their dreams, Flirtation Walk just struck a chord with me.
Characters in Mitchell’s latest novel drive the story from the first page to the last. Lucinda is a charming character desperate to be and do good. Although at times I admit her inability to see the good in herself pushed my limits, this was less of a fault of Mitchell’s ability to write than my own frustration in knowing Lucinda was redeemed. I wanted so badly for her to know she was loved by God, her family, and her man, and that to me was a mark of Mitchell’s ability to bring her characters to life. Seth Wescott, hero of Flirtation Walk, is charming as Lucinda’s opposite. Highly regarded at West Point as the top student and leader, Seth’s life undergoes a complete transformation as he has to become someone he’s not in order save his family. Watching drama unfold as Seth valiantly attempts to complete this task was the perfect reason to continue reading Flirtation Walk. I just had to know what was going to happen to these two!
A cast of clever, charming cadets provided humor and hilarity against the background of the prestigious military academy. West Point was a character unto itself–I have always wanted to visit the academy, and while that may not happen for some time, I thank Mitchell for giving me the opportunity to see it in my mind.
By the time I finished this book I was sad the story was over. I genuinely enjoyed every page of Flirtation Walk and smiled at the close of Lucinda and Seth’s romance. This is a novel I will most definitely re-read.
Rating: 4 stars
Find out more about Siri Mitchell here.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. This review is protected by copyright law.

Book Review: The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry

The Methuselah Project

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry (Kregel Publications, October 2015)

Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed–until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success–but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America–just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015–and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller–crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle–offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?

Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.


REVIEW:

Anyone reading this book review likely knows that historical fiction set during World War Two is one of my favorite genres and time periods with which to read. I rarely pass a chance to read a novel set during the Second World War, so when an author friend of mine posted a link to Rick Barry’s upcoming World War Two book I instantly went to the publisher’s website to request a review copy. Although The Methuselah Project deviates the typical historical romances on my bookshelves, I am beyond excited for this novel to claim a spot amongst other fabulous World War Two fiction authors.

People are creatures of habit–including readers who tend to choose novels based on favorite genres of authors–but sometimes it is beneficial to break away from what we know best. In my case, although I am well versed in World War Two romance fiction, I am new to Barry’s twist on the subject via science and super-hero fiction. Keep in mind that The Methuselah Project is not another Captain America story, but for the purpose of comparison the base storyline of both the book and movie are good indicators of what one will find in Barry’s novel. If nothing anything (although it’s not the case here), I am glad that I read The Methuselah Project because this book brought me a vastly different outlook on World War Two, soldiers and veterans, and historical significance. I love that Barry approached this time period with a different outlook and dared to write a story that goes beyond the typical battle grounds, settings, themes, romance, and possible after effects of war.

The Methuselah Project is a blend of the historical, contemporary, and science fiction genres. Based on those categorizations alone I would not have chosen to read this book. Based on the recommendation of an author friend, I was willing to put aside the fact that I don’t like science fiction in order to read this book. Barry’s novel demonstrates how and why categorizing books by genre can be both helpful and detrimental to readers because I, for one, found myself captivated by The Methuselah Project despite the odd (to me) scientific aspects of the story. The author blends historical research with scientific facts throughout the book, never once leaning too far towards either science or history so that readers will not be alienated by a subject they do not care for.

Roger Greene and Katherine Mueller, the hero and heroine of The Methuselah Project, drive this story through their unique experiences and challenges of the times they live in. Barry’s hero flew off the page (what a pun to use for a pilot, right?) with his 1940’s lingo, daring feats of flying, and strong character. I enjoyed Roger’s character because he was a hero in every sense of the word–not necessarily a prince from a Disney movie, but a real-life hero and gentleman who fought in a war and subsequently fought to stay alive through the brutal circumstances. For Greene’s counterpart, Barry wrote southern-belle Katherine Mueller, who fills her day as a freelance editor and Kadet in a secret organization. The Methuselah Project‘s heroine was one of my least favorite aspects of this novel. I found Katherine harsh, naive, and obstinate; her prickly personality and judgmental attitude made it hard for me to warm up to her.

The Methuselah Project utilizes dual storylines to tell Roger and Katherine’s stories. The pacing of Barry’s book flows quickly, and for the first quarter of the book I found myself challenged to swap time periods–and all that goes with it, such as dialect, word choice, etc.–and remember that Katherine and Roger experienced vast differences between them. Additionally, the chapters that focused on Roger jumped decades of his captivity, which also jarred me as I mentally refocused on what Roger would have known as a prisoner of war. I realize that Barry could not literally give his readers a day-by-day account of Roger’s experiences in prison; however, the time hopping made empathizing with the character a challenge because I constantly had to focus on setting and time period rather than on Roger. Focusing solely on the characters became easier once Roger and Katherine’s are brought together. In the spirit of a timely and quick ending, Barry finishes Methuselah Project in an action-packed adventure, but the fast pace brings a sense of unbelievability to his novel. I would have preferred a longer novel focused on authentic situations to end this book.

I enjoyed The Methuselah Project for its stellar story filled with historical research. Despite the aspects of the story that I didn’t care for, I still would recommend this book to readers because the merits of this novel strongly outweigh any pacing or character issues. I would especially like to commend Barry for writing a Christian historical novel that I believe is well suited for boys and men. While women, such as myself, surely will enjoy the book, The Methuselah Project is a novel that I would hand out to men of any age in a heartbeat.

Rating: 3.5 stars


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

By God’s grace, I’m the author of the novels The Methuselah Project, Gunner’s RunKiriath’s Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a writer and World War II buff, my main role is Director of Church Planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry active in Eastern Europe. I hold a degree in foreign languages, speak Russian, and every summer I assist with children’s camps in Eastern Europe. I live near Indianapolis with my wonderful wife Pam. Visit me at facebook.com/AuthorRickBarry, or on Twitter (@WriterRickBarry).

 

 

 

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.

 

REVIEW:

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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: Maggie’s Mission by Rachel Muller

Maggie's MissionABOUT THE BOOK:

A buried vow and a broken past meet face to face on enemy territory… Lieutenant Maggie Johnson has had to overcome many obstacles in her life, including her parents’ disapproval of her enlistment in the Army Nurse Corps and the sudden death of her GI boyfriend, Danny Russo. A sudden blow that forced her to leave behind a promise once made. But Germany introduces more hurdles that hinder her life. Like Army nurse lieutenant, Peggy Blizzard—a woman as cold as her name. While trying to avoid a war breaking out within her own barracks, Maggie pushes through Germany’s harsh winter, and Peggy’s cold shoulder, and aims to do her job—saving lives. But when tragedy strikes the field hospital, it’s Maggie’s life that needs saving instead. Maggie’s harrowing rescue will haunt her for months to come when a ruggedly handsome soldier comes to her aid and resembles the face of a man she once loved . . . a man who is dead. Is war playing mind games with Maggie, or is she facing the ghosts of her past?

Find Maggie’s Mission on Amazon.


REVIEW:

Certain books and authors resonate deeply with readers so that when a new book is published by a certain author that reader does not even question the content of the novel. Maggie’s Mission was one such book for me because I whole-heartedly enjoy author Rachel Muller’s stories and company. Last summer Muller’s debut novel, Letters from Grace, was my favorite novel of 2014. By the time I finished this best-selling novel, Maggie’s Mission could not come soon enough for my avid reading tastes. While I found Letters from Grace to be the better of Muller’s two published novels, Maggie’s Mission is an enjoyable story that deftly draws readers into the European theater with rich historical detail, deep relationships between characters, and a background of faith that strongly exemplifies lessons readers can take into their own lives.

Maggie’s Mission is primarily set within the European theater, with the rich details of that time and place shining brightly as one of the strongest aspects of Muller’s novel. As a combat nurse, Maggie’s experiences in Germany in the field hospitals are breathtaking to experience. Muller imagines the smells, sights, sounds, and emotions these nurses go through with sensitivity and thorough care for the veterans who bravely fought for our country. I am not one who searches out any sort of entertainment that showcases medical distress, but I truly did enjoy Muller’s hospital scenes in spite of the horrific trauma that went on in those field hospitals. She describes with detail the tasks Army doctors and nurses performed in the theater without overt graphics. I appreciated reading these scenes because it gave me a chance to fully comprehend the stress, pain, and complications of wartime medicine.

Friendship and romance are at the core of Maggie’s Mission, and the relationships that comprise this novel form the backbone of Muller’s story. Throughout the story Maggie’s triumphs and struggles with her fellow Army nurses provide life lessons of friendships that readers can emulate and learn from in real ways. Muller has a knack for filling her novels with relationships that are thought-provoking and deep. In Maggie’s Mission we see the main character remain firmly rooted in her friendship with Grace, from Muller’s first novel, and cross boundaries with Peggy Blizzard, a surprisingly refreshing character who teaches Maggie about loving like Jesus. My favorite part of reading Maggie’s Mission was watching Maggie’s friendships deepen and unfold in the European theater. The drama and danger these women experienced while depending upon each other is rather remarkable to imagine.

Romance in Maggie’s Mission centers around the lost loves so many men and women experienced because of the horrors of war. Maggie grieves the loss of her boyfriend, Daniel Russo, through much of the novel while simultaneously attempting to move on with life with another man. I did not feel much of a connection to either man as a romantic lead, but nevertheless reading Maggie, Danny, and Walter’s romance brought me back to a time when life and love were tumultuous at best.

Maggie’s Mission is an addition to Muller’s Love and War series that I recommend for anyone who enjoys World War Two fiction. This is Christian fiction that will move readers deeply with its emphasis on the strengths of relationships and faith. I am definitely looking forward to Muller’s third novel in the series, Philip’s War, as this story will focus on the challenges of soldiers returning home from war. Muller’s love for War World Two history and the people who experienced all that went on during that time is evident in the tone she sets with her writing. I am certain that the pain, heartaches, and ultimately love that brought veterans and their wives and families through this time will drive Philip’s War in a beautiful way.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Muller_HeadshotObsessed with World War II since the tender age of 17, Rachel has been studying The Greatest Generation for 13 years and composing stories of love and war for three years. Her first project, Letters from Grace, claimed a spot in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest in 2012 and semi-finaled in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, 2014. Letters from Grace, book 1 in the Love & War series, released September, 2014. She resides in Central Maryland with her husband and four children. Readers can learn more about Rachel at her website or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Book Review of Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Through the Deep WatersIn late 1800s Kansas, redemption, compassion, love, and trust challenge characters in Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Through the Deep Waters to meet God in unprecedented ways as they discover who they are truly meant to be and how they are to live in their lives.

Veteran historical-fiction author Sawyer, a native of Kansas, brings readers to the Clifton Hotel in her latest novel. Through the Deep Waters begins in Chicago, as seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley struggles to break free of the bonds of being born-and-raised in the brothel that employed her mother for Dinah’s entire life. Shortly before her mother’s death, Dinah is forced to make a decision that ultimately impacts her future both positively and negatively. Believing that making a new life for herself as Harvey girl—a celebrated waitress for a wealthy businessman that operates hotels and restaurants along major train lines—she relocates to Kansas to build a new life. In her search to find the respectability she lacked growing up at the brothel, Dinah realizes over time that the acceptance and compassion she so longs for can only come through God’s loving grace and redemption.

Amos Ackerman’s life is forever changed with Dinah Hubley’s arrival in Florence Kansas. A hard-working chicken farmer dedicated to making a successful life for himself, Amos and Dinah form an unlikely friendship through a mutual understanding that compassion and kindness are often the only offerings needed to be given to make a connection with another person. Amos’ greatest desire—to support and grow a loving family—is heightened by Dinah’s arrival because he believes that God’s plan for him involves Amos’ taking Dinah for a wife. However, as his plans frustratingly become more and more sidetracked, Amos has to consider that his wants and desires may not be what God has in mind for him.

Through the Deep Waters is an excellent novel for many reasons, but Sawyer excels most in her inspirational teachings of compassion, redemption, mercy, and God’s plans for His children. From the blunt yet gentle reminder of prostitution’s harsh realities to God’s simple and unfailing love for each person who gives their lives to Him, Sawyer could not make it any plainer in Through the Deep Waters that people do not need to be good to deserve God’s love. Dinah and Amos experience devastating circumstances and do not come to peaceful lives easily. Yet through their painful situations and subsequent lessons learned, readers find gentle Scriptural teachings that show not just the verses that explain God’s love but how to go about asking and receiving His mercy and redemption. Minor characters who offer unlimited support of friendship and Christian teachings make the lessons and questions believable as they share God’s Word with Dinah and Amos. Sawyer’s two main characters are wholly real because they constantly question, become frustrated and angry and passionate, and question what is going on in their lives as they thought they had situations—and God—figured out.

Amos, Dinah, and minor character Ruthie—who, although minor, actually plays a rather significant role in the novel—are loveable and challenging characters whom readers will instantly connect with in Through the Deep Waters because all of them are flawed but good people. Readers will hurt with Dinah for her painful past but hope for her to overcome the negative emotions to succeed as a potential Harvey girl. Dinah’s emotions are valid, but her refusal to connect with others becomes grating at later points in the novel. At some point it becomes wearisome to wonder whether Dinah will always hold onto her past…but the questioning is worth it come the ending of the novel. Amos is the quintessential hero who does not know how valuable he is as a friend and potential beau. A prince among men, readers will cheer for Amos as he tirelessly works to build up his chicken farm in preparation to take a wife and support a family. His frustration with romantic adventures will make readers cringe in disappointment as Amos struggles to find his way between who God wants him to love and the girl is actually the one for him. Dinah’s roommate and friend, Ruthie, is the friend that everyone has in their lifetime: the one who comforts, who supports, and who shares their family unconditionally…but who also becomes jealous at times and becomes frustrated when it seems that the other friend has all the blessings. Dinah and Ruthie’s friendship is one that all readers are blessed to share with another and with the characters of the novel.

Through the Deep Waters is an inspirational story of love, mercy, and redemption whose lessons will stay with readers long after the novel is finished being read. Sawyer’s writing is flawless—full sentences are used through the book, which doesn’t always happen in Christian fiction and is much appreciated by readers who prefer well-written prose over simplicity. The Christian lessons and Scripture verses are incorporated seamlessly into the plot and are easy to both understand within the content of the story and within personal lives. Sawyer’s choice of a setting—the Harvey girls’ hotel stories—is commendable because the history is not well-known. If readers are not previously known to Sawyer’s stories, Through the Deep Waters will have them hooked and wanting to read the author’s other novels.

Stars: 4.5/5