Reviews

A Castle for Christmas by Stephenia McGee

A crown meant for a princess. A medieval castle. And a one-way ticket to an unforgettable romance.

A life-changing diagnosis sends Avery Stuart on a last-chance Christmas road trip. The cheery bed-and-breakfast offers a festive way to spend the holidays alone. But when she finds her name listed on an ancient family tree next to an English baron, her trip suddenly takes a startling turn—no fairy godmother included. She might have gotten the Cinderella dress, but her prince is more beast than charming.

On the verge of seeing his people starve, Sir Robert de Northwood must seek a bride with a hefty dowry in order to salvage what war has wrought. The night he must choose his wife, a strange foreign princess arrives at Northwood Castle dressed in enough jewels to feed his barony for a year—and she’s entirely alone. Sir Robert is intrigued by the fascinating woman and offers his protection by way of a sensible marriage arrangement that will benefit them both. But when the mysterious Princess Avery of Gardenia claims to be from the future, how much will he risk losing in order to keep her close?

♥ The Back Inn Time series short novels are fun, faith-filled stories of what it might be like to suddenly experience life in a different time. These clean historical romances are packed with humor and adventure. Perfect for fans of dual timeline or time slip stories and Christian historical romance, these books answer the question every historical fiction fan wonders—what would it be like if I went back to that time? If you enjoy the wholesomeness of Amish, Western, or frontier fiction and adore romantic comedies, then a visit to a seaside Victorian inn where you can “step back inn time and leave your troubles behind!” is for you.

Author Stephenia McGee has become well known for her historical novels, and now is known for her time travel stories. Lest you get upset, she acknowledges that time travel isn’t possible. These books are simply “what if” fun. I really do recommend the entire series.

Imagine finding yourself thought to be a foreign princess that shows up at a castle. And you don’t know how you got there. How would you react? Or act? McGee shows us a great “what if” with historical details that flesh out the story well.

Is this beauty and the beast? You’ll enjoy the repertoire between Avery and Sir Robert. McGee always weaves faith throughout her stories in a very organic way; nothing is in your face. Add in a clean romance and A Castle for Christmas is a wonderful story for those who enjoy time travel or Christian historical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

Tomorrow’s Constant Hope by Naomi Rawlings

The last thing a woman on the run needs is to find herself married to the richest rancher in Texas…

Keely O’Brien has spent the past five months on the run, but no matter what she does, she can’t seem to evade the ring of dangerous criminals that killed her brother in Chicago. When she spots an ad for a wife from the owner of a small ranch on a remote stretch of Texan desert, she knows she’s found the perfect hiding spot. The Wolf Point Ring might be searching far and wide for her, but they wouldn’t think to look in tiny, sun-scorched town of Twin Rivers, Texas. Now if she can just keep her new husband from finding out why she really married him…

Agamemnon “Wes” Westin’s feet might be firmly planted in West Texas soil, but his heart is running… Running from the loss of his first wife and stillborn daughter, and running from the fear of suffering loss again. Unfortunately, he has little choice about needing to marry, but he does have a choice about who he marries. If he has to share his roof with someone, he wants a woman who works hard and doesn’t complain. That’s why he decides to run an ad for a bride, claiming that he owns a small ranch, rather than the sprawling cattle empire he inherited from his father. After all, what woman is going to be upset when she finds out her husband is one of the richest men in Texas?

When Wes discovers Keely is hiding from criminals who want her dead, he can’t help but protect her—even if she’s irate with him for lying about the size of his ranch. When danger arrives in Twin Rivers, both Wes and Keely find themselves facing their deepest fears. Will they let their pain and past losses ruin their dreams? Or will Wes and Keely find a way to forge a new life together?

From jagged mountains and green river valleys, to cattle ranches and vivid sunsets, Tomorrow’s Constant Hope offers a meaningful story about simpler times, sincere faith, and learning to love again after loss.

Author Naomi Rawlings has a great thing going with her Texas Promise series. Book three, Tomorrow’s Constant Hope, can be read as a standalone, but you will understand some of it better if you read the first two books in the series. Plus they’re really good and I recommend all of them.

A good western always has a damsel in distress and a cowboy hero. Wes and Keely are the best in these roles! Both are running from something and need each other in ways they don’t expect. With lots of twists and turns, this book keeps you guessing as to what is coming next.Wholesome and clean with a sweet romance, I highly recommend Tomorrow’s Constant Hope.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

A Mother’s Strength by Allie Plieter

Will finding her son a friend lead to forever love?

Single mom Molly Kane will do anything to help her son overcome his anxieties—including enlisting former police officer Sawyer Bradshaw to give him golf lessons. Sawyer’s a loner, yet he quickly forms a bond with little Zack. And with Molly. But protecting Zack means Molly must keep her heart off-limits from Sawyer, even as her little boy draws them together…

It was good to return to Wander Canyon. One of these days I’m going to visit there in person. At least  I’d sure love to because author Allie Plieter makes it sound like a wonderful place to visit.

A Mother’s Strength has well developed, true to life characters that you will grow to love. I wanted to hold little Zack close and make the hurts go away. Molly and Sawyer have issues, too, that need to be dealt with. I so appreciate Plieter’s way of writing honest characters that struggle just as we all do.

Heartwarming, heart tugging, and even a bit zany in the lengths that Molly will go to, I highly recommend A Mother’s Strength.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

Jesus Followers by Anne Graham Lotz

The daughter and granddaughter of Billy Graham share inspiring stories from their family life that offer compelling insights for leaving a legacy of faith.

Passing on our faith does not happen passively—it’s something we intentionally pursue with prayer and joy. Yet many of us struggle to know what it looks like to live out a contagious faith in today’s world. We long for spiritual wisdom on how to ignite faith in our children, grandchildren, and others we encounter. 

Jesus Followers offers practical ideas, biblical teaching, and inspiring true stories from Anne Graham Lotz and her daughter Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright for effectively running the race of faith and passing the Baton of Truth to the next generation.

Drawing on the fascinating genealogy of Genesis 5, Anne explores the unique impact of our witness, worship, work, and walk. Rachel-Ruth illustrates each of these critical elements with stories from the Graham and Lotz families, offering vivid descriptions of how God’s truth was passed on by word and example.

Jesus Followers not only offers a glimpse into the living rooms and prayer closets of a faith-filled family, but it also equips you with the wisdom, motivation, and practical ideas for consistently and joyfully sharing your faith.

I love the teaching that we have to actively share our faith to pass it on. We do that in many ways, as we see in this book. The way we live our lives is so important to the next generations. It’s stronger than any words we may speak. I love the theme of passing the baton because we truly are running a race.

Full of scriptural truths and heartwarming family stories, I highly recommend it to any Christian who wants to affect the generations to come.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

Claiming His Christmas Inheritance by C.J. Carroll

Some inheritances have strings attached.

This one requires him to get married…

In her last matchmaking attempt, Zed Evans’s late aunt stipulated he must find a wife—or lose his childhood home. Fortunately, the resolute bachelor needs to be married for only three months. Now he just has to convince Tasha Jenkins to be his holiday wife in exchange for funds to get her dream business started. It’s the perfect plan…until love makes an unexpected appearance.

Author C.J. Carroll is new to me, but this won’t be the last book I read by this debut author.

A marriage of convenience story in this day and age is surprisingly fun. Especially when caused by a meddling aunt who just wants her nephew to be happy. Zed is quite the dashing gentleman and I really enjoyed getting to know him, and what makes him tick. Tasha is alone in the world and wants to feel valued. Both characters were easy to love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story from the accidental meeting to the end. Toss in a beautiful heritage home and Christmas fluff, and you have a story to relax by the fireplace with. I highly recommend it!

Snowbound with the Amish Bachelor by Patricia Johns

Will she go home when the snow stops falling?

For social worker Grace Schweitzer, arriving at Ben Hochstetler’s farm to pick up an abandoned baby feels like stepping into her past—especially after a blizzard forces her to stay. Helping on the farm reminds Grace of her Amish upbringing…and the reason she left. She’s losing her heart to Ben and the faith she once held dear, but has she changed too much to return to this life?

Stories with Amish characters turned English are always intriguing. What makes that happen? Why do they leave the community? Author Patricia Johns does a really good job of explaining why Grace did. She put such heart into this story that you’ll have trouble putting it down.

Centered around an abandoned baby, we see a social worker who really cares. About both baby and mother. And we see an Amish farmer who is willing to help. Both baby and social worker. 

Heartwarming with laughter, exploration, and love, I recommend adding this book to your winter reading.

The Weather Girls; Windy by Jennifer Lynn Cary

She grew up without a mother……but her little one wouldn’t.

Can the cardinal help her find true love?

Her family thinks Windy is a flighty accident waiting to happen. But with more at stake than herself, she needs to put her creativity to the test and prove them wrong.

Is there such a thing as too much independence?

Kris is a private man of few words, but somehow Windy broke through his defenses. He’d like to be more than a friend, but that would mean revealing his secret.

Will he trust Windy with what he’s kept hidden?

And if he does, will she view him as someone worth building a life with?

Only the cardinal can say for sure.

Return to 1970 Indiana with Windy, the third book in The Weather Girls series for some peace, love, and Christian family values.

You will love Windy, the final book in The Weather Girls trilogy, because everyone knows the sweetest love is the one we wait for.

This has been a fun series, full of 1970s details. I’ve really enjoyed it!

Windy is sister #3 and she is definitely windy in personality. But I came to love her, even with her mistakes in life. Because we all make them, right? That’s where forgiveness comes in. God’s grace always surrounds us. Strong and independent, Windy is still looking for that forever love. Will she find it?

I sighed and laughed my way through this story. I do highly recommend reading the first two books in the trilogy so you understand all the family nuances. They were equally as good.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

God is Coming; An Advent Journey by Maggie Philpot

In a search for a book that presented the beauty and mystery of the advent season with elegance and simplicity meant to be enjoyed by the entire family, God Is Coming was born. This book traces the story of God’s relentless pursuit of His children and all of the anticipation of the holiday season in simple, rhyme and meter. Children and adults alike will be touched by the reminders of the profound truths of the gospel and families will return to these stories and these iconic images year after year. Each day is accompanied by timeless and beautiful illustrations by Michael Livesay-Wright. Stay tuned for future accompanying products around which the family will gather from generation to generation to prepare hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus.

Breaking down the month of December into the journey to Jesus’ birth, author Maggie Philpot’s advent journey is done in a sing-songy way that will attract especially younger children. Each day is one page, making ita simple yet profound way to tell the story of His birth to even the littles in your life.

Each day is illustrated and will help bring home the truth of the story. As well there is an appendix with each day’s scripture verse and questions to encourage conversation. All in all a well done book for the Christmas season.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

The Amish Outcast’s Holiday Return by Lacy Williams

Torn between family loyalty and her dreams for the future…

Grace Beiler’s shocked when Zach Miller arrives at her family’s farmhouse seeking forgiveness for his teenage mistake that cost her sister’s fiancé his life. But when her father gives Zach a job, Grace gets to know the man he’s become…and starts to want more than friendship. Can love bloom amid hidden secrets and family grief, and give them a fresh start at Christmas

Not your typical Christmas story, all snowflakes and warm fuzzies, but a story of second chances that will warm your heart.

In this prodigal returns story, characters Grace, Zach, and Sarah are well written in all their hurts and hopes. The strong sense of family shines through, but sometimes to the detriment of what should happen and doesn’t. I enjoyed the support each of the prodigals was given and the love that was evident throughout. The ending was a great, wonderful surprise. If I had one “complaint” it’s that the story came to the predictable conclusion in what appeared to be a rushed fashion. I felt it should have taken a few more months. But I still enjoyed the story and can recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

This debut novel by author Amanda Cox left me in awe. Not often does a new writer tell a story with such depth and so many feelings. I honestly couldn’t put it down.

I fell in love with Ivy and Harvey. Both hurting but both wanting to be accepted and loved, even if they wouldn’t admit it. We follow their lives through the story told as a dual timeline but in no way was it confusing. Instead we see the twists and turns that bring a unique family together.

Midway through I figured out what was happening but that only added to the richness of the story as I read the heartfelt struggles happening to not only Ivy and Harvey, but to the secondary characters as well. They were so real! Broken but beautiful, I highly recommend it.

Purchase here

Christmas Grace by Mindy Steele

Second chances and the Christmas spirit abound in Mindy Steele’s heartwarming novel, one of faith, love, and the power of community.

Grace Miller believed herself in love with the charming Englischer who eventually broke her heart. Now alone except for the secret life growing inside her, she arrives in the unfamiliar small village of Walnut Ridge, Kentucky, to hide and hopefully gain forgiveness.She is pleasantly surprised, however, to find a tight-knit, welcoming group who help her heart grow right alongside her belly. And with the holidays around the corner, there’s plenty of preparations to occupy her mind. Also occupying her mind? Her strong, protective neighbor, Cullen Graber, the town’s blacksmith, who seems intent on not allowing her to ever suffer alone.

Cullen Graber gave up on love after too many losses early in life. He planned to live out his days focusing on his smithy business, yet the beautiful and mysterious Grace refuses to leave his thoughts. But can they open their hearts to God’s grace and create a new family together before Grace must return home?

This beautiful story of second chances by author Mindy Steele is just right for the Christmas season. Please don’t start reading it thinking it’s full of Christmas fun and fluff because although that’s there, it isn’t the foundation of the story.

We meet Grace, who has been sent away by an incredibly harsh father intent on punishing her. We meet Cullen, who has suffered much loss and has a broken heart. And we meet other characters who live in Walnut Ridge, most with challenges in life, who I came to love. All of them will draw you in and keep you reading. As well as have you wishing you could visit Walnut Ridge as Ms Steele brings them to life.

Steele’s story moves along at a good, calm pace but has many “edge of the seat” moments that took my breath away, they were written so vividly. The ending..well the ending was incredible. Christmas Grace has all the feelings; laughter, joy, hurt, tears, and love.

I’ll admit I did find the proofreading needed a bit of help. There were several grammatical errors, and there was an overuse of  “smiles floated between them” but don’t let that stop you from reading Christmas Grace. I pushed them aside and enjoyed the wondrous story. If you enjoy Christmas stories, and especially Amish Christmas stories, then please read this one. You’ll be glad you did.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

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