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Acceptable Risk

Lynette Eason. Revell, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8007-2935-6

Eason (Collateral Damage) continues the Danger Never Sleeps series with this excellent military thriller. When Army journalist Sarah Denning is kidnapped in Kabul with 13 other women, it appears their captors intend to make them Taliban wives. Sarah’s father, Lt. Gen. Lewis Denning, receives the SOS Sarah manages to get out on her satellite phone and deploys former Army Ranger (and Sarah’s one-time crush) Gavin Black and his black ops team to extract her. Sarah is freed but injured during the operation, and after having PTSD-related nightmares, her father has her medically discharged from the Army. Unbeknownst to Sarah, her father also employs Gavin to provide security for her. Then they get word Dustin, the youngest Denning sibling, has committed suicide. Gavin, Sarah, and her older brother, Caden, an FBI agent, begin to piece together connections between military personnel with PTSD attempting suicide at a much higher than usual rate, linking the deaths to a single VA hospital. Though faith elements are slim, Eason’s blend of intrigue, betrayal, greed, and power creates a fast-paced narrative that holds tight until the very end. This is Eason’s most entertaining, suspense-filled drama yet. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/19/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Heart of a Warrior

Angela K. Couch. Pelican, $16.99 trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-1-5223-9873-8

Set in 1859 along the Oregon Trail, this exciting tale from Couch (Scarlet Coat) centers on a stranded, pregnant settler who is rescued by a Native American. Christina Astle is lagging behind a wagon train headed to Oregon from Cincinnati when the caravan is attacked, leaving Christina alone and her husband dead. Towan, a Shoshone tribesman with a white father, follows Christina as she flees, only revealing himself just before she eats a potentially poisonous foraged berry. After Towan helps Christina deliver her baby in a cave, the two grow closer as Towan begins to read the Bible Christina shares with him and the two are cared for by Towan’s mother in his home village. When they come across two trappers, Christina decides to take their offer of transportation to Fort Bridger. But when they turn out to have ulterior motives, she is lucky Towan has been tracking them. Christina’s experience with the trappers leaves her convinced her husband was killed by settlers pretending to be natives and must decide if she wants to return to Ohio or stay with Towan. Readers of inspirational historicals will enjoy Couch’s exhilarating frontier tale. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/05/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Love and a Little White Lie

Tammy L. Gray. Bethany, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3589-4

In this touching inspirational from Gray (My Hope Next Door), a faithless woman gets more than she bargained for as she rebounds from a broken heart. After January Sanders’s boyfriend leaves her for another woman, she takes refuge in a rural Texas cabin and interviews for a job as an administrative assistant at her aunt’s church. Much to the surprise of January, who is an atheist, she gets the job and falls for Cameron, an attractive Christian musician who has dreams of making it big. Cameron’s friend Dillon does landscape maintenance for the property January is living on and is quick to challenge January on the fact that she is keeping her lack of faith a secret. Then, as a favor to a church member, January starts reading the Bible to Mrs. Cox, an older nearly blind woman. Despite everyone around her preaching the power of prayer, January refuses to believe until Mrs. Cox lands in the hospital because of a heart condition and January prays for her. When she is rebuffed after sharing her secret lack of faith with Cameron, she throws herself into her work and unexpected friendship with devout Dillon. Gray’s entertaining tale showcases the power of love and faith in unexpected places. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/05/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Blood Sisters

Jim O’Shea. Pelican, $5.99 e-book (274p) ISBN 978-1-5223-0269-8

A woman believes her mother’s visions might be the key to catching a serial killer in this entertaining inspirational thriller from O’Shea (The Linen God). Libby Meeker is grieving the recent death of her twin sister in a ship explosion as she approaches her 30th birthday. Her mother’s struggle with mental illness is also worsening as she obsessively paints the same disturbing image of a mysterious figure shrouded in black. After both of Libby’s parents die within months of each other, she begins to see visions of her sister. Jigsaw puzzle pieces begin appearing in random places, and as she puts them together Libby recognizes an image of her and her sister as babies in the hospital nursery ward. Meanwhile, Det. Troy Hunter investigates a series of murders that point to the Ginger Killer, whose targets are all red-haired young women. When Hunter believes Libby, a red head, could be the killer’s next target, they must unravel secrets from Libby’s past to distinguish reality from the increasingly disturbed visions Libby begins to have. Subtle biblical themes come across in the consequences to those who demonstrate unforgiveness and lack of faith, and all the visions of those said to be mentally ill prove instrumental to unraveling the mystery. Fans of Terri Blackstock will love this. (June)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Sea Glass Castle

T.I. Lowe. Tyndale, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-4964-4050-1

Lowe (Beach Haven) returns to Sunset Cove in the lovely third installment to her Carolina Coast series. Pediatrician Weston Sawyer struggles to heal from the loss of his pregnant wife in a car accident four years ago and hopes leaving Alabama to take over the pediatric medical practice in Sunset Cove will give him a fresh start. Sophia Prescott, part of a raucous group of friends dubbed the Sand Queens, moves back to South Carolina after escaping her abusive husband. Despite a rocky introduction, Wes agrees to hire Sophia as office manager as she finds herself in an increasingly desperate financial situation. He has a caveat: since neither is looking for romantic attention, he suggests they go on fake dates as a way to ward off the unwanted interest of others. The ruse does little to keep the doctor’s female admirers at bay, and their fake romance soon turns real as they learn about each other and their shared deep faith. However, the burgeoning relationship could be thwarted when Sophia’s ex-husband shows up determined to reconcile. Lowe’s endearing love story delivers an age-old lesson: hope for happiness depends on the ability to release the past and trust. Series fans will enjoy this affecting tale. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Under Scottish Stars

Carla Laureano. Tyndale, $14.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-4964-2629-1

Laureano’s final installment to her MacDonald Family trilogy (after London Tides) centers on newly widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart as she begins life anew with her two kids and a new job. After Serena is forced to withdraw her daughter from prep school in the middle of the spring semester for fighting, she accepts her brothers’ offer to work at the family hotel on the Isle of Skye and put her marketing skills to use. Hotel manager Malcolm Blake is not thrilled with Serena’s overshadowing presence and assumes that she will only get in the way. As Serena fights her instant attraction to him, Malcolm warms up to her and begins to welcome the possibility. Sparks fly as they spend more time together, and though Serena is reluctant to fall in love again, watching Malcolm with her kids and his own adopted teenager, Kylee, makes it easier for her to open up. But when Kylee is accepted into a college in Boston after Malcolm agreed to move with her if she got in, Malcolm and Serena must decide if their love is worth fighting for, and Serena embraces her faith to make a life-changing decision. This emotionally astute tale will appeal to fans of Tamera Alexander. (July)

Reviewed on 05/22/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Amish Generations: Four Stories

Kathleen Fuller. Zondervan, $15.99 trade paper (370p) ISBN 978-0-3103-5954-8

Fuller (Hearts of Middlefield) delights with four joyful Amish stories of love and faith. In “Young Love,” 20-something Fern has rheumatoid arthritis and worries her illness will one day make marriage and life as an Amish wife difficult. When her longtime crush, Dan, becomes single, Fern overcomes her doubts and starts a relationship with him, and they both learn to overcome pride and open their hearts to trusting others to make it work. “Long-Awaited Love” follows the marriage of Everett and Jemima as Everett reckons with some selfish decisions he made in his youth and repairs his relationship with his father. In so doing, he comes to recognize Jemima’s virtue of generosity; conversely, Jemima follows Everett’s example of setting boundaries with others and learns to honor her own needs. “Second-Chance Love” is a tale of discovering love after loss as Ben, a widower, and Lora Beth, a widow, bond through letters after meeting each other. Fuller particularly shines in “Never Too Late,” in which 63-year-old Elva, whose abusive husband of 45 years recently died, finds true love with a 70-year-old bachelor. Fuller cements her reputation a top practitioner of Amish fiction with this moving, perceptive collection. (June)

Reviewed on 05/22/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Jane Doe

Lillian Duncan. Harbourlight, $15.99 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-5223-0276-6

A woman wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what happened to her in this exhilarating inspirational from Duncan (Until Death Do Us Part). Suffering from broken legs and a head injury, Raven finds herself in a hospital, where she begins to heal with the support of Gracie, a chaplain. After recovering sufficiently to move into a home close to her sister, Raven’s memories begin to return, and she recalls being held captive but can’t manage to identify the man who kidnapped her. Raven resolves to face her fears in order to discover her abductor’s identity and uncover the reasons behind her kidnapping. She teams up with Hunter, a self-defense instructor and sheriff’s deputy she meets while in recovery, to decipher the clues. After Raven recalls presidential candidate Charles Whitman’s voice as that of her kidnapper and learns she was found unconscious near his hometown, no one is ready to believe her claims that Whitman might be responsible. Raven’s faith, meanwhile, is tested as she wrestles with feelings of shame and guilt over being abducted, and she discovers that, in order to truly heal, she must learn to stop keeping secrets and to trust God. Duncan’s thrilling tale of justice and salvation will be perfect for fans of Terri Blackstock. (July)

Reviewed on 05/22/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Until June

Barbara M. Britton. Pelican Book Group, $15.99 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-5223-0289-6

A WWI amputee recovers at a remote cabin with help from a runaway in this lighthearted historical romance from Britton (Tribes of Israel). In 1918 Juneau, Alaska, 17-year-old Josephine Nimetz works as a seamstress to support her family while her miner stepfather, Ivan, drinks and gambles away his earnings. When he pushes Josephine to the ground and seriously injures her for refusing to give him money, she runs off and is taken in by one of her wealthiest customers, Reynold James Chambers. One night she hears cries from down the hall, coming from the family’s eldest son, Geoff Chambers, who has returned from the war a double amputee and addicted to morphine. While convalescing, Josephine also learns that Ivan has been murdered, leaving her family with no source of income. Mr. Chambers asks Josephine to accompany Geoff to their lodge on Douglas Island in an effort to restore his health, and, in dire need of cash, she takes on the daunting task. The assignment is for nine months, and as Geoff and Jo work and pray through anger, anxiety, and Geoff’s addiction, their mutual dependency grows into mutual affection. While Britton leaves Ivan’s murder frustratingly unresolved, the story of Geoff’s healing is gratifying. Britton’s charming love story will appeal to readers of Tracie Peterson. (July)

Reviewed on 05/22/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Piece by Piece

Laura Bradford. Kensington, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2595-0

In this tender story, Bradford (A Killer Carol) examines the roles of faith and friendship in healing. Thirty-five-year-old Dani has three beautiful children, a loving and attentive husband, and a great relationship with her own mother. Then her entire family is killed in a car accident. In her grief, she flees to Amish country to reconnect with Lydia, a friend she met while visiting Lancaster County as a child. As Dani watches Lydia’s attentive parenting, she becomes overcome with guilt; but when Dani discovers she is pregnant, she grows in faith and begins to see her second chance at motherhood as part of God’s plan. She also gets to know Lydia better, and Lydia’s grace, understanding, and humor give Dani the support she needs. While some readers might find Dani’s unrelenting pain difficult, her rationalizations, guilt, and road to recovery are believable and elegantly rendered. Fans of Vannetta Chapman should check out this moving tale. Agent: Jessica Faust, Bookends Literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/22/2020 | Details & Permalink

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