Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Heart of Mercy"
Sharlene MacLaren

My Review:
    I fell in love with Sharlene MacLaren's writing back when she wrote the Little Hickman Creek series. It was a wonderful trilogy and while I have enjoyed her other books, I think she may have found the mystery that made the Little Hickman Creek series so whimsical and fun. In book #1 of this series we meet Mercy as she goes through a horrible tragedy - losing her best friend and her friend's husband in a house fire and leaving behind two young boys. She is determined to step in and raise her friend's sons but the judge doesn't believe that a single woman is the right person to raise two young boys. So she has a month to get married so they can have two parents, or she will lose the right to raise them. Hilarity ensues as she tries to find the right man in the small town without many choices. But in her desperation to save the boys will she make the wrong decision?

   And what about the guardian angel that saved the boys from the fire in the first place? It's a Hatfield/McCoys scenario between Mercy's family and Samuel Conners' family. That would never work and they both know it, so Mercy keeps looking for love in all the wrong places.

     I am loving the start of the Tennessee Dreams series and can't wait to see where Sharlene MacLaren will take them from here!

"Dare To Love Again" by Julie Lessman Book Review

"Dare To Love Again"
Julie Lessman

Dare to Love Again, Heart of San Francisco Series #2

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.
Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he's a fraud just like all the rest of the men she's cared for. Does she dare love again?

My Review:
    I have read some series by authors and thought, "Wow, this is really good!" and then when their next series comes out, it just can't live up to the first series. I loved Julie Lessman's first series so much that I was just sure that she would never be able to create new characters that could be as strong and compelling as the O'Connor family. I was wrong. Plain and simple. Julie has outdone herself with this new series. I was encouraged by the first book but book #2 shows that it is not a fluke. Julie Lessman has struck gold again!

    In Book #1 we meet Cassidy McClare and her rich cousins in San Francisco and get to know them as Cassidy starts falling in love with Jamie McKenna and resists it every step of the way. Now in Book #2 we pick up with them but through the eyes of Cassidy's cousin Allison McClare. She is an independent young woman, or at least she wants to be...  much to the chagrin of the adults in her life. So Detective Nick is brought in to protect Allison from herself and her independent spirit. He is under threat of death is her hurts her romantically, so of course, they start having feelings for each other that neither one wants to admit. And then no great book would be complete without a host of issues... and poor Allison and Nick have more than their fair share! The mob, deaths, pregnant girlfriends, over protective family members and more...

    This book has proven to me that lightning can strike twice... and does for Julie!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Shadowed By Grace" by Cara Putman Book Review

"Shadowed By Grace" by Cara Putman Shadowed by Grace Shadowed by Grace is a dramatic story inspired by the Monuments Men of World War II by acclaimed author Cara C. Putman. Desperate to save her dying mother, Rachel accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy to capture images dangerously close to the front lines of WWII. Her real motive – to find the father she never knew -- an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive. It’s an unlikely situation for love and faith to flourish, but soon Rachel not only finds herself, but also her long-lost earthly father, and ultimately, the man her Heavenly father created to cherish and provide for her.


MY REVIEW: I love stories set in WWII, but I love it most when authors put a twist on a familiar setting by finding something I really didn't know about and bringing it to life for me through amazing characters. That is exactly what Cara has done in "Shadowed by Grace". First we have a female photojournalist, Rachel, who gets herself sent to the frontlines in Italy in an effort to not only try to capture the Pulitzer moment but even more importantly to find the father she has never met. She is partnered with Scott who is part of the Monuments Men that are there to locate, protect and preserve the rich art in Europe that is getting pilfered, destroyed and pillaged. The questions become... can Scott do his job effectively when someone seems to be sabotaging his efforts? Can Rachel find her father with the one lead she has brought with her when her mother won't tell her anything? Can Rachel and Scott find the ultimate reason God has brought them together in the middle of such evil and destruction?

Toward the beginning there was quite a bit of referencing to the unsureness that both Rachel and Scott had as far as romantic notions go... but once the book got going it seemed like that worked itself out and Rachel and Scott became a wonderful couple that I loved learning more about. 

 My favorite parts of the story were in seeing what the Monuments Men were really about - amazing pieces of history wrapped up in wonderful storylines, scenic countrysides of Italy and moving characters. Very enjoyable and I would love to see a follow up with these characters and more Monuments Men facts and scenarios!