Monday, August 24, 2015

Through Waters Deep- Sarah Sundin

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description: It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

My Thoughts: Through Waters Deep was an amazing story. Maybe it was just my love for Jim and Mary as a couple or the honesty of the historical context, but I really enjoyed this book and stayed up late one night so I could finish it in two days.

Mary is a girl after my own heart. Loving adventure while hating the limelight, I felt like she was a person I would have liked to have known. Jim was nearly the opposite, enjoying adventure while feeling perfectly at home with any attention he might draw by being himself. They complimented each other well, creating a pair whose happily-ever-after I could believe in.

The historical context, closely predating WWII, was well portrayed as an event that occurred rather than a drama to be amused by. It showed the often forgotten opinions of those who lived through it and the conflicts that stirred at home. These tensions are what drove the plot along and played the backdrop for Sundin's mystery to unfold.

I would give the story a full five stars, however, there were moments when the Nancy Drew aspects of the story came about as rather cheesy. If not for this, I believe that I would have give this the full rating.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Among the Fair Magnolias- A Novella Collection

My Rating:  3.5 Stars

Description:Four Southern women are at a turning point in history . . . and in their own hearts.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander

The Civil War cost Savannah Darby everything—her family and her home. When Aidan Bedford, an attorney from Boston, buys the Darby estate, he hires Savannah to redecorate. Can she find a mysterious treasure before her job is finished?

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray

When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he’s determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother’s homestead, he discovers that she is very ill and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love

Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser

Emily has a secret: She's in love with one of the freedmen on her family's plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.

My Thoughts:

A Heart so True~ This novella is set in the same area as some of Dorothy's other novels, with main characters making an appearance as tertiary characters here. It is a short story about one woman's speed-bump to love. While the story was sweet, I did not see much in the way of a theme or message. I would have said that the theme was to marry only for love, yet Abigail states that she will marry whomever makes her mother happy. In the end, I believe she made the only decision which I could respect her from.

To Mend a Dream~ I have previously read To Win Her Favor, the novel precluding this in which Savannah was a secondary character. Thus I was well acquainted with her background and was interested in what Savannah would be able to discover in the box left by her father. While I'm not much of a fan of insta-love, the idea worked well for the length of this story and gave Savannah a perfect happy ending.

A Love Beyond Limits~ A Love Beyond Limits is less of a romance and more of a snapshot of history told through the eyes of fictional characters. The story was heartbreaking and bittersweet, if not really romantic in anyway. I think this is a story I would have enjoyed far more if it had been a full length novel, as there was so much more I would have liked to have seen with these characters.

An Outlaw's Heart~ This final novel felt the most complete, if a little rushed toward the end. It was an emotional read with broken characters who learn forgiveness. Like A Love Beyond Limits, I think it would have done more for me as a full length novel, yet it was still a good read.

Overall this is a cute collection of stories, showing off the authors' skills and abilities. I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped or as I have other novella collections. Unfortunately, the stories did not feel like they were meant to be told in such a short page length, and instead felt like writing samples rather than full stories. But if you get the chance, they are still worth the read.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

To Capture Her Heart- Rebecca DeMarino

My Rating:  2.5 Stars

Description: It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montauk tribe, is enjoying her wedding feast when her groom is killed and she is kidnapped by a rival tribe and held for ransom. Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is nonetheless left to die in a Connecticut forest--until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her long friendship with family friend Benjamin Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice--stay true to her friend or follow her heart.

My Thoughts: The writing of this book is well done and captures the historical voice well, with each characters nationality reflected in their syntax and word choice. Daily life is well described and obviously heavily researched. DeMarino is certainly gifted at creating her historical setting.

Unfortunately, I could find little about this book that held my attention. The description tells of Heather Flowers kidnapping and rescue as though it were an important part of the story. Yet her kidnapping is only ever glossed over in the book and the rescue (though I hesitate to even call it that) was only the first three pages. As well, one of the male romantic interests determined he loved her within the first two chapters of meeting her.

The conflicts promised in the description were not the conflicts present in the novel. Instead, there is more tension between Dirk and Benjamin than between Heather Flower and either of them. And even this falls to the way side as the island's issues quickly overshadow the three of theirs. While this made for fully fleshed out setting, it introduced far too many characters for me to keep track off.

To Capture Her Heart deals with an interesting bit of history that is well told. However, since the plot was propelled mostly through conversation rather than action, I found it difficult to remain engaged in the story which was told from multiple points of view.

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