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: Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Anchor in the Storm
Review: Anchor in the Storm 

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series: Waves of Freedom

Publisher: Revell

Publication: May 2016

About the book:

One plucky female pharmacist + one high-society naval officer = romance-and danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy—even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

Purchase a copy:http://bit.ly/1YFAtJ9

Review:
Like a fine wine ages beautifully over time, author Sarah Sundin’s sweeping World War II novels just keep getting better. I knew when the first book in her Waves of Freedom series ended that I wanted to read its successor; however, I had no idea how much I would enjoy Achor in the Storm. This book has been the highlight of my “read” list for 2016, and I’m almost certain it will take the spot of my most coveted book the year. Without a doubt, with its grace-filled romance, captivating historical backdrop, and suspense element,  Anchor in the Storm could be Sundin’s best book yet.

Main characters Lillian Avery and Archer Vandenburg are perfect foils for each other as they navigate the choppy waters of what it means to be loved for who they really are. While I admit both of their struggles are foreign to me, Sundin creatively played with unique challenges for these characters. I enjoyed not only stepping into Arch and Lillian’s shoes, but in doing so through circumstances affected both by history and by social stratus.

While romance was intricately weaved into Anchor in the Storm, it was the history and suspense elements that kept me turning the pages of novel. Before reading this story I never would have called myself a reader interested in suspense, but if Sundin continues combinding suspense with her history, I will most definitely join the bandwagon on this genre. The author’s experience and insight into the pharmaceutical industry, combined with her passion for World War II history, created a riveting storyline that fascinated me. In addition to the drug-ring storyline, sub-plots involving PTSD and naval history satiated my World War II history craving.

I absolutely love this novel and am already planning ahead for when I can re-read all of  Sundin’s books. I recommend this book not only for readers of World War II history, but readers of all fiction. It is that good!

Rating: 5 stars
*Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book exchange for an honest review. I not required to give a positive review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for Litfuse Publicity and Revell for my copy of Anchor in the Storm.

Giveaway:

Come back to my blog starting at 8am on May 23rd for the link to a giveaway for Anchor in the Storm and other nautical gifts from Sara!


About the author:
 

 
Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California.

Book Review: A Twist of Faith by Pepper Basham

A Twist of FaithA Twist of Faith (Mitchell’s Crossroads #1)
Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction
Published: April 6th, 2016
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Love does not have an accent … 
Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.

 

For one, Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she’d tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.

But when Reese discovers that he’s a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?


REVIEW:

Crossing the genre lines between historical fiction and contemporary fiction can bring about heated discussion amongst readers. Sometimes people tend to lean towards one genre or the other; history fans love reading about times past while contemporary fans like the ease of familiarity that comes from reading stories set in the present. Other times,    although admittedly not as often, readers–myself included–fall into both camps. In history books I can be whisked away to the romance of the Regency era, the adventure and drama of World War Two, or the retellings of fairy tales. With contemporary books the possibilities of a different life encompassed by what I know bring both comfort and newness to my world. No matter history or contemporary, when I put down a book I know I will be living a totally different life. That’s a beautiful prospect.

Publishing houses tend to prefer authors choose one genre to write in because, as creatures of habit, people like to know what to expect when they purchase a product. Authors who write in multiple genres face the possibility that readers will not know what to expect from their stories because different romance, contemporary, historical, suspense, thriller, and other genres are comprised of different elements. It is rare, then, for authors to cross genres between historical and contemporary fiction. Pepper Basham, author of the Penned in Time historical fiction series, has broken that rule, though, with A Twist of Faith, the first book in the Mitchell’s Crossroads series. From early twentieth century England to modern day Appalachia, Basham has proven with her latest novel that some rules are meant to be broken.

Set in rural North Carolina, Basham’s Appalachian background provides solid support for a novel that sets out to prove that labels do not define who we are. Dee, the heroine of A Twist of Faith, is everything a modern woman should be: successful, driven, poised, and focused on her career. Reese, a hardworking farmer with a strong love of family, helps set the Southern stage with his Appalachian accent and love of the land. Over the course of the novel Dee comes to accept, through the often painful idea that she has to let go, that God’s dreams and plans for her are not what she has expected but are just as beautiful. While Dee comes to find her place in Appalachia, Reese learns how to give his past over to God, which includes giving and receiving a hefty dose of forgiveness. These two unlikely heroes bring us on a faith-filled journey comprised of new dreams, challenges enlivened by grace, and the sentiment that pre-conceived notions rarely show us who people really are.

RATING: 5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pepper BPepper Bashamasham 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 websiteFacebook or Twitter.

 

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.

Book Review: Surrendered by Kariss Lynch

SurrenderedSurrendered by Kariss Lynch (December 2015, FaithHappenings Publishers)

With a promise to love, will one final test break them apart?

With a wedding on the horizon, Nick Carmichael and Kaylan Richards prepare to commit themselves to one another and their future together. But for Kaylan, every step closer to the big day brings with it more disaster as she struggles to learn the sacrifice of joining the Navy SEALs. While she gains a new family, she will also gain all the secrets that come with it.

In the middle of wedding plans, Nick is called away on one last mission. And this time, he will be forced to cooperate with the woman he fears and hates above all others: known terrorist, Janus. Can Nick find a way to forgive the woman who threatened his family and fight with her to take down one of the world’s biggest arms dealers?

As the clock ticks closer to the wedding day, Kaylan and Nick fear Janus’s actions will cost them everything. Putting aside their uncertainty, they battle for their love, for family, and for the boldness to do what is necessary. Victory is possible, but as they come to find, it will only come with surrender.


 

REVIEW:

Our interests and passions can stir a thirst for knowledge in much more than just that one particular topic that originally peaked our curiosity in a certain subject. For me, that movie, Pearl Harbor (Jerry Bruckheimer, 2001), while the beginning of my interest in World War Two history, also initiated a passion to preserve and understand the lifestyle that members of the United States military, along with their families, live for every day. Writers such as Kariss Lynch, author of the Heart of a Warrior series, bring stories of the military life to readers and show the struggles and joys of those committed to defending the United States of America.

Surrendered, the third book in Lynch’s debut series, is a beautiful story of a Navy seal and his fiancee as they learn to give love and life to each other and their Savior in the midst of a military career and new relationship. I absolutely loved this book and cannot recommended both Surrendered and Lynch’s other two books in the series enough. Surrendered is filled with authentic characters, heart-wrenching emotion, nerve-wracking dilemmas, and lessons of faith, love, and hope in God and family. By the end of the first chapter I knew that Surrendered would be on my favorites of 2015 list–in fact, it is my favorite contemporary of the year–and I had to force myself to read slower because I did not want to finish the book.

Lynch writes with straightforward prose that embodies the authenticity of everyday life. Main characters Kaylan and Nick are so real that I felt as if I had known them my entire life. I cheered for these two as they fought to understand each other and give the other their desires and needs. Oftentimes when reading contemporary fiction I find bits of advice to follow from the characters, but with Surrendered the relationship between Kaylan and Nick demonstrated in its entirety that one based on Christian values is not necessarily easy but most definitely fulfilling . Lynch’s characters strove to better themselves as individuals in an understanding that the other could not fulfill the role of a perfect companion. This portrayal is both necessary and a beautiful because both general market and Christian fiction typically sugar-coats romance with unrealistic expectations. With the backdrop of an oftentimes challenging and frightening profession influencing every aspect of Kaylan and Nick’s relationship, Lynch shares with readers how her couple is able to rely on God and their faith when so much is out of their control.

The culture of the United States is one that thrives on independence, determination, community, and success. We rarely take “no” for an answer and believe we can do anything we set our minds to. Surrender is not an option to Americans. But Lynch shows readers in this final book in her Heart of a Warrior series that surrendering can be beautiful when we put our trust in God and others before ourselves. This story is one that will forever be on my bookshelf. I am so excited to see what other stories Lynch will bring to readers and believe God has big plans for this author.

P.S. If my review hasn’t shown my love for this series enough, consider this story. Despite that Christmas time is usually for giving gifts to others, on December 23rd I visited my local Family Christian store to buy two gifts for myself: Shaken and Shadowed, the first two books in the Heart of the Warrior series. Nope, I couldn’t wait for Christmas to see if these books would be under the tree. I had to have them now, Santa!

RATING: 4.5 stars


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kariss LynchKariss Lynch began her writing career in third grade when she created a story about a magical world for a class assignment. Chasing her dream into college, she received a degree in English at Texas Tech University and fell in love with writing faith-based fiction about characters with big dreams, adventurous spirits, and bold hearts. Kariss is a diehard Texan, born and bred in Dallas, where she now works as a writer for a local communications ministry.

 

Novel Review: The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

The Curiosity Keeper

The Curiosity Keeper (A Treasures of Surrey Novel) by Sarah E. Ladd (Thomas Nelson, July 2015)

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.


REVIEW:

As an good Austenite does, I am always on the lookout for new books set in the Regency time period. A Regency novel set within the framework of Christian fiction? Now that just sets my heart aflutter. And so, within my first few moments of picking up Sarah Ladd’s newest Regency novel, The Curiosity Keeper, I found not only a new-to-me author, but a renewed interest in Regency fiction because this woman’s writing far belies the tropes associated with this genre. The Curiosity Keeper is a wonderful novel that captivated me with its mystery, history, and romance spun into a hero and heroine’s tale of self-worth and love.

I have read a fair share of both Christian fiction and general market Regencies since first becoming acquainted with Jane Austen novels in college. The style and tropes of Regencies for me, therefore, were fairly well known until I came across The Curiosity Keeper, which implemented mystery into the storyline so well that I am anxious to read the rest of Ladd’s novels for more inclusion of that plot. Ladd’s writing style is a beautifully crafted blend of romance and mystery, and hooked me the entire time as I attempted (my mind is not wired to solve mysteries) to discover the culprit in The Curiosity Keeper. At times I became tired of the emphasis placed on the missing items, and I do admit that I would have liked to have read more romance and less mystery. But personal tastes aside, I found the mystery in this novel to be well done and expect to be further intrigued by mysteries in her stories.

Ladd’s straightforward style dropped me directly into the dark and dank streets of London as her heroine, Camille Inverness, worked in her father’s curiosity shop. A horrid place to live and work in 1800s England, London in The Curiosity Keeper utterly fascinated me as a character all its own. I yearned with Camille as she fought to make a safe life of her own in the beautiful English countryside rather than the soot-covered backstreets of London. And once Ladd dropped me into the second setting of The Curiosity Keeper, charming village of Fellsworth, I knew for certain that this author’s books would automatically stay on my bookshelves. Fellsworth’s charms were so beautifully conveyed that I could visualize the visual in Camille’s mind of what it would be like to run through green fields and have golden trees on fire in my backyard. If I never make it to England, at least The Curiosity Keeper brought me close to knowing in my heart what it would be like to visit that country.

The characters in Ladd’s fourth novel drive the storyline of The Curiosity Keeper. Camille is one of the strongest heroines I have come across in Christian fiction, and I truly hope to read more about her in the upcoming novels of this series. She stands on her own two feet, taking her life by charge and refusing to let others do what she knows she is capable of. Jonathan is a charming hero that took my heart quickly–his desire to protect others and do well by his family, but still find his own way, was probably my favorite aspect of this novel. The Curiosity Keeper includes secondary characters that bring this story to life, including a sister who I am hopeful will hold a starring role in another book in The Treasures of Surrey series. A poignant redemptive relationship between Jonathan and his father round out The Curiosity Keeper as a beautiful story revolving around family relationships.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Curiosity Keeper and am so excited for the future Treasure of Surrey novels and Ladd’s earlier series, The Whispers on the Moors. I recommend The Curiosity Keeper for readers who love Regency romances and are fans of Julie Klaassen novels.

Rating: 3.5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sarah E. LaddSarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously.  Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Book Review: Catch of a Lifetime by Candee Fick

Catch of a LifetimeCatch of a Lifetime by Candee Fick (Bling! Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, November 2015)

Can she forget the fumbles of her past and open her heart to love?

He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport.

After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare.

Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game and the woman he loves.

REVIEW: 

My family enjoys sports; from Sunday afternoons watching football to games of wiffle ball in the background, competitive athletics have always been an important part of the Deshaieses lifestyle. Even though I am not one of athletically inclined members of my family, I have spent many years cheering on my brothers while they pitched for their teams or enthusiastically waiting for the Steelers to score touchdowns. I might not play sports…but I know my games.

Candee Fick, a Genesis Award winning author, provides a way for those of us who love sports to experience the thrill of the game and all that goes with it in Catch of a Lifetime. This football based novel, a contemporary fiction book released by Bling! Romance, pulled me into the world of college football unlike any other novel I have read. Catch of a Lifetime first caught my attention when I searched through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’s website a few months back. I like watching football, and historical fiction was overtaking my to-be-read list, so I thought this novel could give me a good dose of contemporary fiction. Fick’s novel was so much more than good contemporary fiction–Catch of a Lifetime is a wonderful story filled with themes of forgiveness, integrity, and acceptance, and sprinkled with faith, family, and authentic romance. This novel has everything I look for in contemporary fiction, and after reading Catch of a Lifetime I am truly excited to see what other contemporary stories Fick will follow her debut novel with.

Writers are told to “write what you know” because authenticity comes from true life experiences. Fick comes from a football family, so Catch of a Lifetime is therefore infused with not only facts about the game, but the emotions, thoughts, cares, and concerns of those who play and participate in this American sport. Through this authenticity of someone who is a wife to a coach and a mother to a player Fick’s characters are able to demonstrate the unique challenges and joys that come with football. While my family is more baseball-oriented than football-oriented, Fick’s writing is so genuine that I could immediately empathize with Reed and Cassie.

In being drawn into Reed and Cassie’s world, Fick brought me back to my undergraduate college days–just one of the many seasons of my life in which I spent time at baseball fields, but also many wonderful hours on campus in classrooms and with friends. I loved my time in college and often wish I could go back to those days where homework, friends, and a part time job filled my days. I am not so niave that I believe going back in time would be a good thing, but I did so enjoy Catch of a Lifetime for returning me to a college setting where I could imagine wandering the campus and filling my mind with all things related to college studies. The dialog, descriptions, and character interactions were realistic and believable–I could easily visualize the relationships, activities, and goals of the characters happening on any college campus today.

Fick is a talented author who wields words that read as authentically as the life we live in today’s modern world. Her gift at creating contemporary stories that mirror the challenges and joys we experience not only bring new worlds to life (for those of you who, for example, do not know football), but also share perspectives and lessons for those who have shared Fick’s experiences. Catch of a Lifetime brims with characters who share the Christian faith but remain honest in the struggles that we all face. Fick infuses her characters’ reactions to the challenges of the modern world with subtle Christian lessons that adults, both younger and older, can apply to their own lives. This quiet inclusion of Christian princples shares the viewpoint of a faith that teaches respect, love, and honesty; Fick’s characters are not perfect, but their determination to live with this Christian faith is a way for readers to take in these principles without alienating themselves from their peers.

Catch of a Lifetime has quickly become not only one of my favorite books of 2015, but of all time. I recommend this book for teenagers (ages 16+) and adults, both male and female, who enjoy contemporary sports fiction from the general and CBA markets. For a novel similar to Fick’s debut fiction story, look into Sally Bradley’s Kept.

Rating: 5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Candee FickAuthor of inspirational romance, non-fiction, and devotionals. Candee is married to a high school football coach and is the mother of three, including a child with special needs (thus providing inspiration for her first two non-fiction titles).

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Double Finalist/Winner in the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the short novel category. Her debut novel, Catch of a Lifetime,  released in November 2015 from Bling! Romance.

Connect with Candee on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.