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Vying for the Viscount

Kristi Ann Hunter. Bethany, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-76423-637-2

Hunter (A Pursuit of Home) centers this delightful Regency romance on a woman’s search for a husband. Bianca Snowley never worried about finding a man, but when her father decides it is time to marry her off to the horse-abusing Theophilus Mead, she sets out to find a more compatible match. Lord Hudson Stildon is the new viscount in town. Raised in India, he has come to England to claim his title and the Hawksworth estate. While his faith in God is thin, Hudson wants to believe his prayers will help him in this new challenge. Bianca, who has long ridden the horses at Hawksworth, believes Hudson could be the answer to her prayers. After they become friends at the stables, Hudson recruits Bianca to help him understand English society and the rules of courtship, as he plans to woo Lady Rebecca, whose father’s prize horse he plans to breed with his mare. In exchange, Hudson offers to help Bianca find a husband of her own. But the dream match just might be staring them in the face. Hunter’s sweet tale nicely weds Regency society intrigue, struggles of faith, and a romance kindled through mutual love of horses. This is sure to entertain any inspirational reader. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/19/2020 | Details & Permalink

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A Dazzle of Diamonds

Liz Johnson. Revell, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-8007-2942-4

Johnson continues her Georgia Coast romance series with this humorous third installment (after Glitter of Gold), a friends-to-lovers tale about an event planner and an unlikely candidate for sheriff. Penelope Hunter is forced to confront her past and possibly lose a potential client, Emmaline Adams, when she finds out her ex-fiancé, Winston St. Cloud, is Emmaline’s future husband. Penelope also receives a phone call from socialite Anabelle Haywood, who threatens to move her annual fund-raising event because of Penelope’s friendship with Tucker Westbrook, Penelope’s childhood best friend and a current candidate for sheriff. Mrs. Haywood recently received a letter detailing the Westbrook family’s alleged history of thievery and connection to a century-old conspiracy about missing treasure. In an attempt to improve Tucker’s image as he runs for sheriff, and to convince Winston that Penelope has moved on, Penelope and Tucker decide to not correct Emmaline’s assumption that they’re dating. Things go comically awry as Penelope and Tucker try to resist their feelings for one another while attempting to disprove the allegations made against Tucker by finding the treasure. In the end, both turn to God for help, who may have different plans than they envisioned. Romance and intrigue combine wonderfully in this enjoyable inspirational. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/19/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Piecing It All Together

Leslie Gould. Bethany, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3522-1

In the charming but underdeveloped first installment to the Plain Patterns series, Gould (Courting Cate) pairs the story of Savannah Mast, the child of a farmer who left the Amish faith years ago, as she is reintroduced to Amish life with that of a pioneer woman. Savannah’s only exposure to the Plain way of life was summer visits to her grandmother in Nappanee, Ind., when she was younger. But when Savannah’s fiancé calls off their wedding, Savannah retreats to her grandmother’s home. Soon after she arrives, a young Amish girl disappears, and Savannah’s childhood friend, Tommy Miller, becomes the prime suspect. A sheriff with a vendetta and no clear evidence seems set on convicting Tommy, and Savannah quietly tries to help Tommy clear his name. While attending a quilting bee with her grandmother, Savannah strikes up a conversation with the store’s proprietor and learns the story of Emma, an early Amish pioneer. Gould flips back and forth between Savannah and Emma’s narratives, but the connection between them is thin. While Savannah and Tommy’s quest to solve the disappearance gets the most focus, Emma’s story is more engaging, revealing much of Indiana’s early years of Indian resettlement and Amish movement into the Midwest. While Gould’s uneven execution mars the intriguing set-up, this wholesome time-swap tale will appeal to readers of Beverly Lewis. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/19/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Minutes to Die

Susan Sleeman. Bethany, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3396-8

Sleeman’s enjoyable second installment to her Homeland Heroes series (after Seconds to Live) features another tense relationship between federal agents. When FBI Agent Kiley Dawson takes the lead in investigating the murder of her informant, she learns a terrorist—who is somehow connected to the case—plans to strike. As she races across the country to track down leads and identify players involved in the nefarious mission, she grudgingly joins forces with ICE Agent Evan Bowers, whose mistake in a previous operation caused the death of Kiley’s partner. Evan has discovered foreign operatives carrying bomb-making technology have recently entered the U.S., and as Evan and Kiley work to stop the pending attack, Evan challenges Kiley to deal with the blame she attributes to him. Through their partnership, Kiley rediscovers her faith and the forgiveness that comes after laying down one’s fear. While the action scenes and dialogue are sharp, the breakneck pace and large cast will leave some readers in the lurch. Inspirational fans who enjoy action should check out this blistering tale. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/19/2020 | Details & Permalink

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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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