Category Archives: Romance & Chick Lit

Fiction about character’s relationships, or engagements (a story about character development and interpersonal relationships rather than adventures). The majority of Romance feature the mutual attraction and love of a man and a woman as the main plot, and have a happy ending. Chick Lit can include romance but focuses on all relationships not just romantic ones.

Somewhere To Belong by Judith Miller

Johanna Ilg has lived in Main Amana Colonies, Iowa her entire life. New Amana is one of the settlements that the devout Christians of German descent settled after leaving New York. There is approximately 500 people living in the settlement. More than one family live in a house and all share several communal kitchens. The elders or the Bruderrat of the settlement has assigned Johanna to work in the Kuche (kitchen) under the direction of the Kuchebaas (boss) – Sister Thekla Muhlbach. Each village has the Bruderrat who appoint the foreman for their industries and such. They also have the Grossebruderrat who oversee all matters that affect the colonies.

Berta Schumacher is the spoiled daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Schumacher from Chicago. They have come to live in Amana where Dr, Schumacher will be the doctor in Main Amana. Berta is unaware that her family plans to remain in Amana and pitches a fit. She does not want to stay in Amana or live in the same house with the Ilgs. Berta has been assigned to work in the Kuche and it is Johanna’s job to train her.

Berta is an unruly seventeen year old child who flaunts authority and is always getting into trouble. She resents her family moving to Amana, defies Sister Muhlbach’s authority and pretty much does as she pleases. Johanna is a well mannered twenty-one year old woman who always obeys the rules and never gives anyone any trouble. She secretly dreams of visiting Chicago and seeing something of the outside world. Her brother Wilhelm left the colonies a number of years ago. He is now married to Larissa and have an elaborate home in Chicago.

On one of Wilhelm and Larissa’s visit to Amana, Johanna learns a troubling family secret that changes her life. She is devastated – has her whole life been a lie. Johanna is permitted by her parents to accompany Wilhelm back to Chicago for visit. Her mother is afraid she will not return and blames Larissa for Wilhelm living in Chicago. Will she return to Amana or stay in Chicago? Will she forgive the people who have keep this secret from her?

During Johanna’s absents Berta gets into deeper trouble and runs away. She goes to Chicago to find her father (who is attending a medical conference) and Johanna. What happens to Berta in Chicago?. Will she return to Amana. Will the people forgive her?

The people of Amana live a life similar to the Amish. The people in Amana are Germans where the Amish are Dutch. Both the Amish and the Amana people are devout Christians and wish to live a life secluded from the outside world.

I highly recommend the book. You will read how the people in Amana live their daily lives, the hard work they endure and their faith in God.

Judith Miller is an excellent author of historical fiction.

After The Fall by Kylie Ladd

by Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer

The book is about lust, love, friendship, adultery, trust and betrayal. Kate/Cary and Luke/Cressida are a foursome. They thought their friendship was secure and faultless. This all changed when Luke and Kate started a secret love affair. The book is written in first-person voices and lets the reader know their thoughts and misgivings – guilt, lust, anger, love and fears.

Cary is a quiet, adoring husband, loves Kate without reservations, trusts her completely, and wants to start a family. Kate is a flirt, a firecracker of a women. She loves Cary but yearns for Luke’s love and attention. Luke is also a flirt. He is genuinely fond of women and Cressida has no problems with this – she knows he really loves her. Cressida is a doctor and her unusual long hours at the hospital leaves Luke alone a great deal of the time.

After The Fall dwells into the souls of two young devoted couples that let lust destroy their friendship and marriages. It changes the lives of four people who thought that nothing would ever destroy the vows they exchanged on their respective wedding day.

After The Fall will intrigue you, make you thankful for the love and devotion of your spouse. It will also make you more fully appreciate that the grass is not greener on the other side.

Highly recommended – especially for those of you who harbor feelings for someone other than your spouse.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Marnie Wittier owns and operates a coffee house/book store known as Marnie’s Books & Brew in California. Her life is just as she wants it to be. She has a box filled with slips of regrets-sins-sorrows. These are things from her past that she wants to forget, but can’t really. Marnie has a secret that is keeping her from od’s special healing. Marnie’s world comes crashing down when she receives a letter from Taylor Cole. She has not seen or spoken to him for sixteen years. How had he found her? What does he want after all this time. Memories start to flood in. He is the man who helped her locate the mother that had abandoned her and her sister Rose. She had fallen in love with Taylor, but abandoned him due to the secret she carries. Taylor is Rose’s lawyer.

Marnie opens the letter – Rose is dead and she is the legal guardian of a 15 year old boy she never knew existed. When Emmit arrives she disc overs he has Down Syndrome. She is unprepared to care for him. What was Rose thinking? She really needed to find a home for him – someone who knew how to care for him. Why didn’t Taylor keep him? Emmit has a beautiful smile – he is gentle at times and very stubborn at others. Soon he has wormed his way into Marnie’s heart.

The author keeps you turning pages – a book hard to put down. Recommend you read this very interesting story about a trouble women and a boy with Down Syndrome. Does Marnie find her way back to God? Does she let go of the past? How does Taylor fit into her future?

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Clara is the beautiful daughter of a widowed doctor in the late 1800’s. Her aunt decides to have Clara debut a year earlier than she was expecting and Clara is quickly spending all of her time learning how to behave and fit it with high society. Her father and aunt expect her to win the proposal of the most wealthiest bachelor, so that she will be fully accepted into high society and have money.

She Walks in Beauty
by Siri Mitchell
Bethany House

Her two biggest problems are learning all she needs to know in a short amount of time and dealing with her best friend who is also debuting and is expected to get married to the same man. Clara struggles through out the season with her feels of marrying for love or doing what her father and aunt tell her must be done.

While struggling with these feelings she learns some upsetting things about her mother’s death and her father’s business choices.

This book was a wonderful book. I was drawn and captivated to it from first page to the last. I loved her descriptions of every scene and the interactions between the character’s seem so real. I would highly suggest this book and I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

Becky Freyenhagen is a wife and homeschooling mother of three. She also reviews at Booya! Books.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Sixteen women set out west on a train, under false pretenses, to make a new life for themselves. They all have a past which they are trying to run from or leave behind. What they don’t know is what or who is waiting for them once they get there.
This book was not a favorite of mine. It took me quite a while to get into the book and then it held my interest. I realized half way through the book that the name for this book was, in my opinion, not a good title. There are only sixteen women through the first five chapters of the book and then it narrows down to six women. And those first five chapters where confusing because of the so many female characters. Once the number of characters narrows down and you can start focusing on their stories and the townspeople’s stories, then you start settling in and enjoying the story line. The story is fairly predictable with a couple of shockers to keep your interest. I did love the determination of the six women to accomplish some independence. Overall, this book would be a good book to borrow from a friend for a weekend read.

This book was free from the publisher.

The Lovers by Vendela Vida

Yvonne is a recent widow and the mother of grown twins – Matthew and Aurelia. Her husband Peter was killed in a hit and run accident approximately two years ago. Matthew has always been the brainy one – excelling at everything he tries, Peter was always so very proud of him. Aurelia is a troubled young lady living in Matthew’s shadow. She has been in and out of rehab since the age of sixteen. Yvonne is sort of estranged from her children. She doesn’t understand them and sees them only occasionally. Aurelia always has some crisis going on in her life. She didn’t have a very good relationship with Peter before his death due mainly to Aurelia’s problems and Peter had simply quit talking about her.

Yvonne was becoming more depressed and didn’t know how she would continue to cope. She decides a trip to Turkey, particularly Datca, a small village where she and Peter spent their honeymoon several decades ago, she finds a rental house on the Internet, contacts the owner, packs her bags and sets off on a journey to immerse herself in memories and try to become again the person she was so long ago. Things become complicated and instead of being comforted by her memories they trouble her.

One day at the beach she meets Amhet, a young Turkish boy, who sells sea shells. She commissions him to find shells for her, but what she would do with them is any one’s guess. This is her way of making sure he would be at the beach each day. Yvonne becomes deeply attached to him and begins to compare him to Matthew when he was Amhet’s age. Unfortunately a terrible accident involving Amhet throws her life in turmoil. She get lost in a sandstorm and believes she is going to die all alone in Turkey.

The novel is really about a tormented women traveling along in a foreign country and being unable to speak the language. She is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after losing her husband much too soon and in such a terrible way. She wants to connect with her children, but don’t know how. Ms. Vida does an excellent job of keeping you turning the pages, you can sympathize with Yvonne, feel her loss, her frustration, and her desire to become whole again.

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller

I love Judith Miller and she doesn’t disappoint in this captivating book. This story is about two young women and their search for where God wants them to be. This is one of those life lessons we all go through and continue to learn even as we get older and wiser. The story takes place in a devout Christian community in Amana, Iowa. Johanna ( love the name, but only because it is my eldest daughter’s name) has grown up in Amana her whole life, but is fascinated by the outside world and wants to go discover what keeps her older brother from moving back to Amana. She is an exceptional daughter and member of her community. She believes strongly in what she has learned as a Christian growing up, but a family secret rattles her to the core. Will she be able to overcome what she has learned and find her path?
Berta is used to high society in Chicago, but her parents decided to move to Amana and she is greatly upset. She does not want to work hard or follow the rules given to her. Johanna is assigned to teach her how to behave and how to act. Can Johanna’s gently ways guide Berta or will a shocking discovery in her life send her down a path of destruction? Will Berta find some peace in her life?
This was a great book. I was highly interested in the life style of the villages in Amana and was caught up in the two girls and their stories. I spent a very relaxing Mother’s Day weekend reading this delightful story. This looks to be a series and I am looking to forward to the next book.
This book was a free book from the publisher.

Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

-Reviewed by Scott Asher of AshertopiA

When Susan walks into the Crossroads Crisis Center looking like a dead woman the mystery is on. And it doesn’t stop until the final pages!

Susan was abducted and beaten, but other than that she doesn’t remember anything from her past – not even her name. When she sees a portrait of Susan Brandt on the wall at Crossroads Crisis Center she can’t help but realize that she looks just like the dead woman. She even has a cross necklace that looks just like the one in the picture.

Benjamin Brandt, the owner of the crisis center, hasn’t entered the building since his wife & son’s death. But when the woman calling herself Susan, looking like her and wearing her necklace goes in he has to follow. Soon they find themselves at the center of a far larger plight than they could imagine.

Fans of Vicki Hinze’s romance and thriller novels will love her first foray into Christian fiction. What begins with mystery moves quickly into a thriller worthy of readers’ attention.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the non-Christian sensibilities that were brought to the Christian medium. Too often in Christian fiction thrills are muted, mystery is easily resolved and a G rating is firmly stamped from page one. I liked that characters died – and not just bad guys. I liked that characters were genuinely evil, that they thought like real people; they weren’t easy caricatures. I liked that drugs, alcohol, sex and more played a part in the story. In short, I liked the gritty realism brought to the genre by Ms. Hinze that is all too often missing from other so-called Christian thrillers. And all the while, real faith shines through.

Decidedly PG-13, I loved this book. Highly recommended for believers and non-believers.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Bridegrooms by Allison Pittman

-Reviewed by Lori Stilger of Heavenly Perspective Photography

Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family on a hot summer night in Ohio when a mother of four vanished. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grew up overnight and raised her three younger sisters while her father lost himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.

Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland’s fledgling amateur orchestra.

Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.

Suddenly, the subdued house is filled with visitors and Vada’s sisters are giddy at the bevy of possible suitors. Vada’s life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.

This book is an easy read; from the beginning, Pittman grabs your attention. If you’re female, that is – I don’t think this is a “guy” book by any stretch of the imagination.

I found myself comparing this story to Little Women frequently. There are four sisters, one present parent, a (rather bossy) housekeeper, and close to the same time period. There were enough differences in the storyline, however, that that comparison didn’t arise too often.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s got its moments of humor, and moments of sadness. There’s just enough detail to invite the reader into the grand picture of the book without bogging one down. The personalities of the four sisters, especially, are beautifully distinctive.

Ms.Pittman took, what was for me, a surprising view at the end of the book. I am still struggling with it, to be truthful – and that’s one of the signs of a good book for me.

I would recommend this book, especially if someone wants to discuss it with me!

This book was supplied by the publisher as a review copy.

The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw

Jed McClatchey is having an affair with Marcella Atkinson. Jed is visiting his sister for the summer, staying at their deceased parents’ home on the Cape. While looking for a tennis racket, he finds a swimming suit in a box in the bottom of his parents’ bedroom closet. He vaguely remembers Marcella wearing the suit when attending his parents’ summer parties. How is the world did it get in the closet and why in a wrapped box. On a hunch he decides to confront Marcella with the suit. They seem to hit it off and several visits later the affair begins.

The Swimming Pool
by Holly LeCraw
April 2010

Marcella is divorced from ex-husband Anthony and estranged from her daughter Toni. Toni just happens to be Nanny to Jed’s niece and nephew. Toni sort of has crush on Jed, but he only sees her as the children’s Nanny. He is too wrapped up in Marcella even though she is several years older than he is.

Callie, Jed’s sister, has never fully recovered from her mother being murdered and the crime had never been solved. Their father, Cecil. before his death had been an uncharged suspect. She has suicidal tendencies and sometimes goes off the deep end. Jed is really concerned about the children’s safety. Billy, the children’s father, works on the mainland and visits on weekends.

Did Marcella have an affair with Cecil? Did Anthony know or suspect she had been unfaithful? Does he know about Jed and Marcella? Who murdered Betsy and why? Recommend you read the book to learn the answers to these questions.

The Swimming Pool is a gripping, passionate, intriguing novel full of lies and family secrets. Betrayals of the past cannot be ignored. The story will keep you turning pages – it will complete captivate you. Ms. Lecraw is an excellent author. Highly recommended!

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.