Book Review: Fire & Ice by Mary Connealy

Fire & Ice
by Mary Connealy
Rating: 4/5
Book 3 of the Wild at Heart Series
Bethany House – Fiction | Christian | Historical Romance

Bailey Wilde is the last of the Wilde sisters to stick around in the West. She is also one of the best (and smartest) ranchers in the area. Ever since she served in the Civil War, she’s disguised herself as a young man and worked hard to be the son her father wanted and loved. Her only real competition is Gage Coulter, who is trying to gain back access to his canyon of 5,000 acres of grass for his cattle. Ever since he found out that Mr. Bailey Wilde had set up a homestead at the entrance to his canyon, he’s been trying to find a way to buy the land or barter a deal to trespass through her land to give his cattle access. He’s determined and will get his way, despite any warning gunshots that Wilde shoots his way.

When Gage finally figures out the truth about Miss Bailey Wilde, he continues to try to barter a deal with her, but she refuses. When Gage shows her his plans to force another opening to the canyon, Bailey gives up. She will have to find another place for her herd to graze. She is disappointed but still determined to make this work.

After a long and lonely winter, Bailey is overjoyed to see Gage, despite the circumstances. She is shocked when he proposes marriage, in order to fool his mother, who is coming to visit him. In her loneliness, she decides to marry Gage in exchange for the rights to the canyon and her homestead. Can Bailey and Gage find a way to make this marriage work? Can they learn to trust and respect each other’s skills? Can they learn to let go of their pasts and see the promising future that’s before them?

Ending this novel was bittersweet. I didn’t want the series to end. I’ve enjoyed all three books in the Wild at Heart series and I can’t wait to see what else Mary Connealy comes up with next. She is incredibly talented at creating characters that are flawed and lovable and frustrating and endearing! I love all of the humor and faith she infuses into her stories. She pulls me right into the historical setting and I’m not content until I find out what exactly happens to the main characters.

Although you could read this book by itself, I would recommend reading the other two books first just to be more familiar with some of the other characters. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a great historical romance with comedy!

I received this book for free from the publisher and NetGalley but was not required to give a positive review.

Book Review: In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

In Firefly Valley
by Amanda Cabot
Rating: 4/5
Book 2 in the Texas Crossroads series
Revell – Fiction | Contemporary Fiction

After losing her job, Marisa St. George returns to her hometown of Dupree, Texas, where she has accepted a business manager position at the newly renovated Rainbow’s End resort. The resort is about to have its grand opening, but they already have one mysterious guest, Blake Kendall, a friend of the owner’s.

Blake is in need of some rest and relaxation, since he’s tried everything to get over his writer’s block. His trip to Dupree could be just what he needs to feel inspired again. As a successful author, he’s kept his identity a secret by using a pseudonym. He believes his stories are just entertaining and nothing more; however, Marisa unknowingly hates his books and how his main character glorifies smoking and especially drinking. The attraction between Marisa and Blake is practically electric, but will Blake’s secret drive them apart? Can Marisa learn to forgive and forget the past?

Amanda Cabot really knows how to create characters that I want to root for and get to know. In this second installment in the Texas Crossroads series, I got to reconnect with the characters from the previous book, At Bluebonnet Lake, and find out what’s been happening. I was immediately thrown into this small Texas town with its quirky but lovable characters and nuances. The characters have to deal with real life situations that make them so relatable. She expertly weaves faith throughout the story in a way that makes me want to read more!

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys light, fun, contemporary romances.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun

Thunder
by Bonnie S. Calhoun
Rating: 5/5
Book 1 of The Stone Braide Chronicles
Revell – Fiction/Suspense/Young Adult

Selah Rishon Chavez lives in a post-apocalyptic America where only remnants of civilization remain after the Time of Sorrows tainted the land with radiation. The day before her 18th Born Remembrance, she goes against her parents’ wishes and goes hunting for a Lander, an alien-like humanoid who is worth a bounty if their distinctive mark remains on their skin after they arrive on their land. As she tries to subdue one, her older brothers take over and steal her prize. The next morning when she wakes up, she finds the Lander mark on herself and confronts her mother. Her mother shares the truth with her and tells her to flee for fear that her father and brothers will kill her. Selah is not who she thought she was. Her father is not who she thought he was. As she tries to make plans to escape and disappear, she realizes that the only one who can help her is Bodhi Locke, the Lander her brothers have taken captive to sell. Can she trust Bodhi with her secret and her life? Will he be able to explain what she is? Will she ever feel like she belongs?

After reading the free pre-quell, Tremors, I was hooked. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything from this author, but I’m a sucker for all the YA post-apocalyptic reads. I could not put the book down. I was so caught up in the world that Calhoun created and had to know what happened next. I haven’t had that in a book in a while. It’s an easy read that’s clean and exciting and fun. I loved the characters and cannot wait to get to know them even more. I am now a huge fan and can’t believe I have to wait so long till the next book in the series comes out. I might just have to reread the story again; it’s that good.

Do yourself a favor and read this book if you want some reading that’s entertaining and just plain fun.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The pre-quel, Tremors, is free on Kindle now.

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Book Review: Tried & True by Mary Connealy

Tried & True
by Mary Connealy
Rating: 4/5
Book 1 of Wild at Heart Series
Bethany House – Fiction/Historical

Meet Kylie Wilde. She is done dressing like a boy. She served during the war and is ready to go back east to civilization after she fulfills her promise to homestead and sell her land to Pa. She doesn’t have a problem with other people helping to take care of her, unlike her two older sisters who still dress as men. However, when the local land agent, Aaron Masterson, arrives to make sure everything concerning the homestead is all legal, her secret comes out. Although she is attracted to the handsome Mr. Masterson, can she trust him to keep her secret? Will he even care? Aaron also served in the war and cannot imagine how a woman did the same, but she is still trying to defraud the government. How can he ignore both in good conscience? When problems arise concerning Kylie’s homestead claim, can Aaron convince her to stay? Can they discover who is stirring up trouble for Kylie and for Aaron?

This story is just too adorable in my opinion. I really enjoyed reading about the characters and I cannot wait to read more. The premise is so interesting from a female’s viewpoint of surviving the war. I admire the courage that these women went through to serve their country. The interactions between Kylie and Aaron and her sisters are quite hilarious and endearing. I look forward to reading more about the characters in the next books in the series. I’ve read some of Connealy’s books before and was not disappointed. I am definitely a fan. Her writing is fresh and light. Kylie’s character development was realistic and touching. Aaron’s character development was liberating and inspiring.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a thread of humor.

I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Book Review: A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

A Bouquet of Love
By Janice Thompson
Rating: 4/5
Book 4 of Weddings by Design series
Revell – Fiction / Contemporary Romance

After her large Greek family moved from Santa Cruz, California to Galveston, Texas, to open up another restaurant, Cassia Pappas lands her dream job in a flower shop owned by the Rossi family, her family restaurant’s competition. Being part of the family restaurant has always been a part of her life, but Cassia’s love for flowers and floral design has her excited to go to work. Meeting a Greek Adonis named Alex Rigas doesn’t hurt either. Since Alex’s family grows and supplies the flowers for the shop, he and Cassia are constantly thrown together, and they cannot deny the attraction to each other. Will her overbearing and controlling father find out about her friendships with the Rossis? Can she help her father see the truth about how similar they all are?

I’ve been a fan of Janice Thompson for a while and this story did not disappoint. I loved the floral design angle because I grew up wanting to work with flowers. I loved all the fun and quirky characters. The characters are endearing and hilarious. I loved getting to catch up other characters from her previous books too. She’s created such a fun world and even makes me want to go visit Texas – a place this California girl has never been. I also enjoyed the Judy Garland thread throughout the story – such a refreshing perspective. As I read the book, I thought the story read like a movie – after reading that Thompson is a screenwriter, my reaction made a lot of sense.

I definitely recommend this book to those who love romantic comedies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and love to smile/laugh their way through books.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Book Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
by Lori Benton
Rating: 4/5
WaterBrook Press – Religion/Fiction/Historical

Horrified after witnessing her mother’s murder, Tamsen Littlejohn flees the life she’s known and the controlling stepfather who is forcing her to marry a man she does not love. She pleads with a local frontiersman, Jesse Bird, to help guide her far away across the mountain wilderness to escape her sorrows. After growing up with the Shawnee and being adopted by Cade, Jesse Bird is a man who walks the line between the white man and the local Indians. He is well-equipped to guide Tamsen, but can he protect his own heart from falling for the beautiful girl who is out of his league?

Meanwhile, Tamsen’s stepfather and would-be fiance suspect that she has been kidnapped and will stop at nothing to find her. The search leads them all over the mountains and smack dab in the middle of a conflict between the State of Franklin and North Carolina. Will Tamsen survive the trek and the wilderness living she is unaccustomed to? What will happen when Tamsen’s stepfather and fiance catch up to her? Will the murderer of Tamsen’s mother come to justice? Can love survive so many lies and betrayal?

I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book by Lori Benton, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I was very impressed with the beautiful and well-described historical setting (especially during a time period I was unfamiliar with). The reader becomes fully immersed in the setting and different cultures. I also enjoyed the character development and the fun, interwoven paths that were only revealed at the end. The text is rich with history and made me remember why I enjoy historical fiction so much.

Definitely recommend this book to any lovers of Christian Historical Fiction.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books but was not required to give a positive review.