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.

Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols

The story centers mainly around three individuals – Mary Bridget, Reverend Alasdair MacPherson and Samantha MacPherson. Mary is a lost soul. After the death of her mother she went a little wild – running off with a local boy the town said was peculiar. She soon becomes involved in the making and distribution of drugs, and finds herself on the wrong side of the law. Reverend MacPherson is pastor of John Knox Presbyterian Church. MacPherson has been pastor of the church since its founding. McPherson is a widow with three children to raise on his own. The church elders and the Presbytery president are not pleased with the reverend, because they feel he is too involved with other activities, not taking care of his congregation and are asking for his resignation. Samantha is the Reverend ‘s daughter. After the death of her mother she went from a loving daughter to a secretive teen, skipping school and getting into all kinds of trouble.

Determined to make a new start, Mary takes on her mother’s identity and escapes to Alexandria, Virginia where she becomes nanny to the Reverend’s children. The reverend must come to terms with what is best for his family and the church. Samantha must learn to take responsibility for her actions and stop blaming others. Mary, or Birdie as she is now known, must learn to listen when God speaks to her and do his bidding. She thinks she can help this family.

One must read the book to experience the doubts, frustrations, cruelty of one person, and how each character overcame their own challenges. Do they come to realize that God has been with them each step of the way and he always keeps his promises? If God sees each tiny sparrow that falls, surely he will do even more for his children, right?

Linda Nichols is an excellent author of Contemporary Fiction. Highly recommend this book for all christian readers.

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

Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate

Donetta Bradford and her two friends, Imagene and Lucy, are going on a cruise. They have never been on one before and have high expectations. They start the drive from Daily, Texas in high spirits to sail on the Liberation docked in Perdida. A hurricane named Glorietta is brewing out in the gulf, but they are unconcerned. After all, the hurricane is predicted to miss them altogether. The trio is having a high ole time with their movies, food and good conversation until they run into a traffic bottleneck. Seems all predictions of Hurricane Glorietta were wrong and the storm is fast approaching land. They join the row of cars trying to exodus to higher ground, and soon find themselves out of gas and stranded on the side of the highway. Things are not looking too good for the women and the storm is really bearing down.

Kai Miller lives in Perdida and works on the Liberation. She arrives at the dock on the departure date to find the ship has already sailed in the middle of the night due to the approaching storm. Not knowing exactly what to do, she returns home to pack a few belongings and to find higher ground. Her landlord is not to be found and she just can’t leave his two dogs to fend for themselves. She load up the dogs in her van, joins the line of departing vehicles and hopes she can outrun the storm.

Kai is soon caught up in the stop and go traffic with no where to go, but follow the car in front of her. She sees the stranded van and stops to help. She loads the women, all their belongings in her van, with the dogs, and continues on her mad exodus. Everything is going fine until she has a flat tire. She is forced to pull out in the first available spot which is the driveway of an electric company station. Now what where they going to do? Suddenly they hear singing. Were they going crazy – who would be out on night like this – maybe there was a house close by. Soon a man emerges out of the darkness. He and the Holy Ghost Church congregation are stranded as well and he was trying to find a way out. He takes the women and the dogs to an abandoned church in the woods where his people are staying.

This is where the story become interesting. You will find yourself laughing, crying and right in the middle of the hurricane. What happens to this bunch of unlikely strangers makes a very heart warming story. I just couldn’t put the book down until the final page.

One must read the book to appreciate Lisa Wingate’s unique style of writing. She is an excellent writer of contemporary fiction. I can’t recommend this book too highly. You will thoroughly enjoy her way with words. She has written two other books about life in Daily, Texas which I plan to read.

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

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

I downloaded this book to my laptop via Kindle for free. I thought it looked good and plus it was free, so why not?? Wow!! I think my kids missed a few meals while I was reading this one! Great book! Lilly Haswell has had some sadness in her life and she is trying to figure out where she fits in her world. She’s good at “assisting” her Dad, but as a woman she is not allowed to be an apothecary. She gets the chance to follow a different path, but life is not always easy and she must chose to leave dreams behind. The part I liked best about this book is the romance story line. In most Christian fiction books it is pretty easy to tell who the girl is going to marry, but in this book the author does a great job of changing the story line and keeping you intrigued. Through all of Lilly’s up and downs she continues to keep her faith and trust in God alive. I highly recommend this book and will be reading Julie Klassen’s other books soon.

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

A captivating book about a dogwalker in upscale Charleston who seems to have trouble following her or is she causing the trouble? Will the journalist she has taken a liking to help her and can she trust her heart with him? Gist and Bertland join forces to create a story line which will keep you interested in what happens next. I enjoyed this book from the first chapter to the last. I am a fan of Deeanne Gist and have read all of her books. This one is not like the others because of her collaboration with J. Mark Bertrand. You still get a great story line, the romance, and now there is the enjoyable suspense to go along. I just couldn’t put it down!

This book was a free copy from the publisher.

Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

Book one in the Glenbrooke Series, Secrets is the tale of Jessica Morgan a mid-twenties well educated woman looking to get away from her past with a clean break in a small town. The problem is that in a small town secrets are hard to keep – especially if you want a paycheck and the false identity she adopts to stay hidden doesn’t exist. To further complicate things, she finds herself on the receiving end of the affections of a stud fireman when she is trying to keep to herself.

Holding everyone at arms length, Jessica goes through her trials on her own, until she is drawn to a bright young high schooler, Dawn, who she has quite a bit in common with, but can’t express it. When Dawn talks Jessica into going on a mission trip to Mexico – with the fireman – her secrets and lies start to unravel.

This is a romantic fiction reprint from the mid-nineties – something that only becomes apparent in the clothing choices worn by the characters -white t-shirt and vest ladies? As is typical of the genre everyone is attractive, everyone is perfectly who they are – not conflicted – and the script doesn’t go off track for a second. You know what you are getting into as soon as you start reading. Strike that – you know as soon as you walk into the romance section of the Christian bookstore. For fans of the genre this is a good choice at this value price point as it starts the Glenbrooke Series. For readers who aren’t normally fans of romantic fiction, there isn’t much to entice you to pick this up. For me, the secret was the only reason to finish. Even then, as I said, I saw what was coming a long way off.

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

The Golden Cross by Angela Elwell Hunt

-Review by Scott Asher of AshertopiA.

The Golden Cross is the second of four novels in the Heirs of Cahira O’Conner. The matriarch of the Irish clan promised that her heirs would “restore right in the world.” The heirs all share one thing with each other, other than their genes, their vibrant red hair with a solitary streak of white just above one ear. This book tells the tale of Aidan O’Connor who grows up on a Dutch colony in Indonesia in 1642. Her father died on the trip over from England leaving her mother and Aidan without any money or source of income and stranded on the island. The only way they can live is to turn to a life far below anything they ever thought they would endure.

As Aidan grows up she recognizes that she enjoys art but doesn’t have any hope that anyone would train her or help her out of her poverty. Until, that is, a famous artist comes to the colony to draw charts on an upcoming voyage. When the artist sees the raw talent latent in Aidan he reaches his hands out to pull her up so that she can see the beauty that she has inside and create the beauty of God’s creation through her art.

Though this book was written more than a decade ago (this is a reprint, which is why it costs less than a normal new fiction title) it holds up well as an exciting look into the past and as a romantic historical fiction novel. Though I don’t usually enjoy romance I found myself looking forward to continuing the story. The author does a good job of weaving together the action and adventure of a sea-going vessel riding storms and fighting natives with the requisite romance. I recommend it to fans of the genre.

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

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

In her novel The Silent Governess, Julie Klassen weaves the tale of Olivia Keene and Edward Bradley.  One evening, while escaping her own demons, Olivia overhears some information that Edward would rather not be revealed.  In an effort to ensure that she not spread this damaging evidence, Edward insists that Olivia take a position in his house in the nursery. As time progresses, more intrigue and deception come to light.  The meaning of family is tried and tested, with the definition being changed at every turn.
Klassen, a lover of Jane Austen and writer of Regency-period set fiction, has woven a beautiful tale of mystery and romance.  The cast of characters display a range of personalities, each one surprising the reader with unexpected depth.  As the tale continues, twists and turns abound.
That would be one concern I can express with this novel.  Those twists and turns can become very difficult to follow, and I had to reread some passages to figure out who was who and what exactly was happening.  While it does keep the story interesting overall, too many of these trails can leave a reader lost in the woods. I personally would have also liked to see Klassen follow the personal journeys of faith of both Olivia and Edward.  She begins to do this at several points, but she does not ever follow them to any personal spiritual revelation.
Overall, Klassen’s novel was a quick, inspiring read.  As it is set in one of my favorite periods of history, I really did enjoy reading her tale of a family where not everything is as it seems. Klassen’s tale is well-written and riveting.  She tells the story eloquently, adhering to the time period with only a few liberties taken that do not rewrite the history of the period.   I certainly look forward to reading other work by Klassen in the future.
This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit www.bethanyhouse.com for more information on this book.

Sense and Sensiblity Insight Edition by Jane Austen

If given the opportunity to travel through history, one of my first stops would be the Regency Period of England and the world of Jane Austen.  I have been a fan of  Austen’s since I read the first page of Pride and Prejudice.  I currently own all of her published works, some having been replaced a couple of times due to wear.  Since my latest copy of Sense and Sensibility bit the dust a month or so ago, I was thrilled to get Bethany House’s copy in the mail this week.

In terms of the actual novel, no changes have been made to Austen’s original work.  The novel is printed in all its glory with my favorite characters and places still in tact.  What has been added by several of Bethany House’s writers are notes and annotations about the life and times of Austen.

The book comes complete with a key, which indicates the type of note/annotation being applied in each instance.  The notes fall into the following categories: “historical and cultural details […] from England in the early 1800’s,” “fact and tidbits from Austen’s life,” “references to S&S in today’s culture, particularly in film,” “unscientific ranking of the novel’s most frustrating characters,” “themes of faith drawn from the novel or Austen’s life,” “comments and asides on the book’s characters or plot,” and “the parts of the novel that just make us smile.”

I LOVE the additional comments, quips, and bits added to Austen’s work.  They serve to add the insight intended into a world of ladies and gentlemen.  The authors who have offered their take on Austen’s work compliment the novel by adding interesting references and inserting a little comedy into one of the best loved novels of all time.

On the minus side (if you can really call it that), the novel did take more time to read.  I found myself reading a page, seeing the notations, and reading the page again to see if the added information changed the image I create in my head of Austen’s world.  In most instances, it certainly did! It did make the reading more cumbersome at some points, but overall  I really enjoyed this take on one of the best loved works of literature.  I plan to order the Insight Edition of Pride and Prejudice and look forward to many more such editions.


Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.

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

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