Saturday, May 28, 2011

Christmas Mail-Order Brides by Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Therese Stenzel, Carrie Turansky

This is part of a series called Romancing America. I discovered these books a few months ago at a local Christian Book store and picked up several. This was not one of those.. I actually saw it among the "New" books at my local library recently.

Each Romancing America book is comprised of several novellas often centering around a specific area or theme. In this case, the stories all happen around the Christmas Season and involve a mail-order bride.  I confess that I am intrigued by the thought of mail-order brides. I have read a number of books that center around that practice during the days when the American West was being settled.  I often wonder if the true stories are as fascinating as the fictional ones.

This collection has 4 stories each by a different author, but all connected by Mrs. Mayberry's Matrimonial Society for Christians of Moral Character.

We meet Annika, a Swedish immigrant who travels to Wyoming to discover her intended missing; Jolie is robbed while en route to her groom-to-be while on a stage coach; Elizabeth is ready to put her past behind her and make a new start; and Mrs. Mayberry is in search of closure, not love.  Each woman faces trials and ridicule courageously as she steps forward to take a chance on love and life.

Sweet stories... quick and entertaining to read.

Love Finds You in Last Chance California by Miralee Ferrell

As I have stated before, I have enjoyed every one of the "Love Finds You In..." books and look forward to reading many more.

Last Chance is a historical romance set in 1877.  Alexia Travers has lost her father, but she is determined not to loose her ranch or herself.  Wearing men's trousers and working along side her ranch hands, Alex ignores the looks and comments from the town folk and does what needs to be done to support herself and keep her ranch viable. Despite her best efforts, stock keeps disappearing and she looses an important government contract.  Wrangler Justin Phillips arrives looking for work around the time the trouble escalates. Is he the culprit or really as good as he seems?

A wonderful plot with vibrant characters and just enough twists and turns and secrets to keep you guessing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Drunkard's Path by Clare O'Donohue

Book 2 of the Someday Quilts Mysteries.  Another cozy mystery!  I read a couple of series that center around knitters and love them, even though I don't knit. This one revolves around a quilters.  I am a quilter, so I truly relate to these ladies!  If I ever wandered to their fictional town, I would head straight to Someday Quilts and join in with the latest group project!

Nell Fitzgerald is settling into life in the quiet little town of Archer's Rest and looking forward to her first date with Police Chef, Jesse Dewalt and then he stands her up. Nell, rebounding from a broken engagement, thinks romance is not for her.  Once she learns that Jesse has a valid reason (he was working a homicide), Nell decides to forgive him and offers to help with the investigation.  Jesse is not keen on the idea and encourages her to let the authorities handle the murder while she handles the quilt shop.

Nell does her best to comply, but then a second body shows up... in her yard... and she can no longer sit back and wonder. She begins her own sleuthing enlisting the help of her quilting circle and before long they have wound their way through all the evidence and suspects to find who the killer is.

Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota by Tracey Cross

I have only read 4 other books in the Love Finds You series (all are stand alone books and can be read in any order) and I have loved them all.. including this one. The books are not all written by the same authors.... some are contemporary, some historic... all deal with Romance and are Christian Fiction.  And again, all have been great reads.

I was excited to read Deadwood. I like historic romances set in the West. There is just something about Cowboys and the dust and dirt of the trail.  I was also excited to read a new-to-me author, Tracy Cross, until I read that she has also published books under the name, Tracy Bateman. I have read Tracy Bateman and enjoy her writing.

Jane Albright is a recently widowed young woman with one child and another on the way.  She is thankful for her land and home and sets in to make a life for her children when she learns that her husband mortgage the house and land and has fallen behind in payments.  At risk to loose everything, Jane sets out to do what needs to be done to protect her home and family.

Deadwood is definitely a Christian Romance, but it is also a book about perseverance and strength of character.

Moon Spinners by Sally Goldenbaum

I told you I love this series!  This is book 3 and the momentum holds. I adore the characters and this sweet sea side village. Much like other fictional towns, I want to go here... to sit on Nell and Ben's deck enjoying delicious fare and the warmth of friendship amongst cool salty breezes.

The Seaside Knitters and friends are reluctantly setting aside their Friday night ritual on Nell and Ben's deck to attend a local yacht club dinner.  Decked out in their finest, dancing and mingling and dining on gourmet treats, the night is magical.  Only just minutes away a group of night time divers watch in shock as a red Ferrari plunges into the depths of the sea.  The car is local and one known by all.  Sea Harbor awakens after a night of enchantment to learn that one of their own has perished and then as the grief settles in they learn it was murder.

Once again the Seaside Knitters cannot sit back and watch as the authorities dive into the details of the case and the lives of those connected.  Gossip and rumors run amuck and it becomes evident that this is not a random event as many hoped.  Will the Sea Side Knitters unravel the mystery once again and stop a killer in his or her tracks?

Patterns in the Sand by Sally Goldenbaum

Book 2 of the Seaside Knitters Mystery. This has quickly become one of my favorite "cozy murder" series. I confess I am not a big fan of real-to-life tense mysteries.  I use to read mysteries that were very realistic and chilling.  Then one day I read one about a young college couple who were murdered. It hit so close to home as a friend's son and girlfriend had been murdered while in college. The murder in the book was very similar and it just totally bothered me. That was the last of realistic mysteries for me. I later found out that the writer took her plot lines from actual cases and this book was based on the friend's son's murder. No wonder it seemed so real to me!

So I now stick with safe mysteries that grab the readers attention and provide mental exercise in whodunit, but don't bring on nightmares or deep fright.  Goldenbaum's Seaside Knitters series fits the bill!  Book 2 brings the introduction of a new character.... Willow Adams... and she is a character!  A wispy little elf of a girl, Willow is found in the front window of Izzy Chambers Seaside Knitting Studio asleep! Curled up among skeins of soft wool, silk and mohair yarns along with Izzy's cat, Purl.  Despite her strange introduction to Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, Willow is immediately accepted and loved.

As Art at Night, a summer event held in Sea Harbor's Canary Cove art colony, burst into full festive array, a local gallery owner and artist is found dead.  The Seaside Knitters are sure someone close at hand is to blame and discuss at great length who had motive and opportunity.  When the will is produced and the name of Peabody's sole heir revealed, the plot thickens (as they say!) and the Seaside Knitters are thrown for a complete loop as one of their own becomes the prime suspect.

Quick as a flash they start detecting and deducing and snooping to learn the truth and set all right again in their bit of paradise.