Category Archives: Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid

Title: Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid
Amish Mercies Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Amish, Christian, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Faith faces an impossible situation: Should she do the right thing and bring heartache to nearly everyone she knows or deny her true self and always wonder . . . what if?

Sixteen-year-old Faith has worked full-time in her parents’ restaurant since she finished eighth grade. She loves her Amish community—and the romantic attentions of her longtime friend, Gideon.

When her sister seems to be getting too friendly with Englischers, and her parents are in a buggy accident, Faith wants to escape into her dream of joining the church and getting married.

But then a local newspaper runs a story about a child named Adriana who was kidnapped fifteen years earlier, and everything Faith has held true comes into question.

Suddenly the community Faith has known her whole life seems unreal. Can she even trust her own family? And how will she ever find home again if she no longer belongs in the world she knows best?

Review:

In Abiding Mercy, Ruth Reid combines elements of mystery, faith, romance and the tiniest hint of the supernatural into an engrossing novel. This first installment in the Amish Mercies series will leave readers eagerly awaiting future installments.

Unlike other Amish teenagers her age, Faith Pinkham has no interest in Rumspringa and she is already taking classes to prepare for her upcoming baptism. She enjoys working in her family’s restaurant but her already busy life becomes quite hectic due to her sister Olivia’s frequent absences and their parents recent buggy accident. Her good friend Gideon Rohrer quickly steps in to lend a hand both in the restaurant and on their farm. Faith’s feelings for Gideon run deeper than friendship but their relationship is complicated by his history with Olivia. With Olivia’s involvement the Englisch world deepening, dare Faith hope for a future with Gideon?

Faith is wonderful, giving person who is confident of her place in the world. Despite her frustrations with Olivia’s behavior, she never loses her temper or lashes out at her. She instead prays for her sister while at the same time remaining hopeful they will repair their strained relationship.  Faith is also quite conflicted by her growing closeness to Gideon due to her loyalty to Olivia.  But is Faith’s devotion to her sister misplaced?

Unbeknownst to Faith, her world is about to collide with someone from the Englisch world as the fifteen year anniversary of a kidnapped toddler draws near. Roslyn Colepepper has never given up hoping her daughter Adriana will be found and she convinces authorities to re-examine the unsolved case. Will an age enhanced picture and extensive media coverage aid Roslyn in her search for her missing daughter? And what, if any, connection is there between Faith, Roslyn and a mysterious red-haired stranger?

With a gentle undercurrent of faith, Abiding Mercyis a heartwarming story that fans of Amish fiction are sure to love. Ruth Reid deftly weaves the various story arcs into an emotionally compelling novel that is impossible to put down.  The Amish Mercies series is off to a wonderful beginning with this utterly captivating first installment.

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Filed under Abiding Mercy, Amish, Amish Mercies Series, Blog Tour, Christian, Contemporary, Rated B, Romance, Ruth Reid, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Title: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage–and okay, the botched divorce–was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife–still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone–including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

Review:

With a gentle undercurrent of faith, Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter is an emotional second chance at love romance.

Noah Mitchell is stunned, dismayed and angry to learn that his divorce from his wife, Josephine, was never finalized.  The discovery stirs up all of his unresolved feelings about the demise of his marriage. Readily accepting responsibility for both the divorce and the paperwork mix-up, Josephine wants to fix the mistake as soon as possible. When an unexpected situation forces Noah and Josephine to spend time together, will they take advantage of this opportunity to heal the wounds from their past?

When Noah and Josephine first meet, neither of them is looking for a relationship.  Noah is well-adjusted with a loving family and although Josephine is new to town, she has a bit of a reputation.  Noah does not give any credence to this gossip and over the next several months, the two enjoy several sweet dates. Although his family and friends try to convince him to wait, he and Josephine marry after a bit of whirlwind courtship and there is no reason to doubt their love for one another.  While Noah does not know much about his new wife’s past, they are very happy together which is why he is so shocked when Josephine betrays him.  Devastated, Noah refuses to discuss what happened and immediately files for divorce.

Fast forward eighteen months and Noah is living on an isolated ranch where he raises horses. Josephine is still living in town but the two have managed to stay out of each other’s way since they split up. Their unexpected reunion is fraught with tension, hurt and anger. Unbeknownst to Noah, Josephine has taken steps to understand how her painful and unresolved past was still influencing her actions after she moved to town and throughout their marriage. Noah remains deeply conflicted over why their marriage ended, but is he finally ready to discuss the events that precipitated their divorce? And if he can understand what motivated Josephine’s behavior, will he, at long last, find it within his heart to forgive her? Although they make considerable progress working through their unresolved issues, is it possible for Noah and Josephine to truly leave their past behind and heal their fractured relationship?

Sweetbriar Cottage is a deeply moving story that deals with some very difficult subject matter. Denise Hunter deftly explores these complex topics with sensitivity and she never downplays the lasting effects of childhood abuse.  Noah and Josephine are multi-faceted characters whose flaws, weaknesses and insecurities are easy to relate to.  The storyline is richly developed with complicated and all too realistic issues that are addressed in a forthright and delicate manner. The resolution of Noah and Josephine’s problems is believable and readers will love the novel’s heartwarming conclusion.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Denise Hunter, Rated B+, Review, Sweetbriar Cottage, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Women's Fiction

Review: You’ll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

Title: You’ll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Her mother abandoned her, her father disowned her, and her husband left her. Can Brooklyn be convinced that it is possible to forgive the greatest of betrayals?

Brooklyn Myers escaped her broken home and her embittered, unloving father by eloping to Reno at the age of 17. But when she was pregnant with their first child, her husband abandoned her as well. Not welcome back home in Thunder Creek, Brooklyn stayed in Reno and raised her daughter Alycia on her own, doing her best to make sure Alycia never knew the heartache and rejection Brooklyn herself had known.

When her estranged husband Chad Hallston dies, he leaves the family home in Thunder Creek to his daughter. Believing it is the best way to give her daughter a stable home, Brooklyn does what she thought she would never do. She goes home to the orchard and wine country of Southwest Idaho. There, she encounters Chad’s best friend, Derek Johnson, a part time sheriff’s deputy who also owns an organic produce farm next door. Derek was never a fan of former bad girl Brooklyn Myers, but he made a promise to his dying friend that he would be the father to Alycia that Chad had never been.

Although Derek and Brooklyn get off to a bumpy start, he and Alycia quickly form a bond. And soon, Derek realizes that he wants Brooklyn to trust him too . . .  even knowing that her trust won’t come easily. And then he realizes he wants even more than her trust. He wants to win her love.

While Brooklyn may be tempted to give her heart to Derek, risking her daughter’s happiness is another story. Will Brooklyn hold onto her self-reliance for dear life, or will she come to understand that the greatest gift she can give her daughter is showing her how to love and trust others?

Review:

You’ll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher is a heartwarming journey of faith, new beginnings, trust and love.

Ten years ago, Brooklyn Myers escaped her father’s abuse by eloping to Reno, NV with her then boyfriend Chad Hallston. Unfortunately, Chad abandoned her as soon she discovered she was pregnant with her now ten year old daughter Alycia. After learning Chad has unexpectedly passed away and left his family home to Alycia, Brooklyn returns to Thunder Creek, ID.  Fighting the memories her small hometown resurrects, Brooklyn is surprised by how eagerly everyone welcomes them into their lives.

Unfortunately one of the few people who are not happy to see Brooklyn is her next door neighbor Derek Johnson. Derek was never her biggest fan when she was dating Chad and he has even more reason to dislike her now that she owns the land he was planning to buy. Trying to let go of his resentment over the end of his dream to expand his organic farming business, Derek is charmed by Alycia, but he remains deeply unhappy about Brooklyn’s reappearance in his life.

Leaving Thunder Creek was just the first step in healing some of the wounds from Brooklyn’s abusive and neglectful childhood.  Physically abandoned by her mother and emotionally abandoned by her father, Brooklyn has trust issues and she struggles with low self-esteem.  Although she has much more confidence now than when she was younger, returning to Thunder Creek brings up those unpleasant memories she has avoided for so many years. While she is emotionally and spiritually stronger, Brooklyn cannot help but be a little distrustful of Derek’s motives for spending time with her and Alycia once she discovers he was planning to purchase her property from Chad.

Derek is finding it very difficult to let go of his disappointment that his dream of expanding his business will not come to fruition. He is also struggling to overcome his lingering dislike of Brooklyn and he is in no mood to show her any compassion for the difficulties she has endured.  Despite his conflicted feelings towards Brooklyn, he is respectful of Chad’s final request to be there for Alycia and he is immediately drawn to the vivacious little girl. However, as he spends time with Alycia, he gains a better understanding of Brooklyn’s life both in the past and in the present.  With his attitude toward her softening, Derek is rather surprised to discover he has romantic feelings for her.  Since he has made no secret of wanting Brooklyn’s property, is there any way she can trust Derek’s interest in her is genuine?

You’ll Think of Me is a captivating Christian romance that touches on many topics that will resonate with readers.  Robin Lee Hatcher beautifully incorporates relevant Bible verses and passages that perfectly dovetail with the issues the characters are grappling to overcome and/or understand.  The romance between Derek and Brooklyn is incredibly sweet and grows naturally from their friendship. An exceptionally uplifting and deeply affecting novel that will linger in readers’ hearts and minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Rated B+, Review, Robin Lee Hatcher, Romance, Thomas Nelson Publishing, You'll Think of Me

Review: The Memory of You by Catherine West

Title: The Memory of You by Catherine West
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

Review:

The Memory of You by Catherine West is an engrossing novel of faith, forgiveness, healing and love.

Natalie Mitchell has spent very little time at Maoilios, her family’s Sonoma vineyard, since the tragic death of her sister, Nicole, thirteen years earlier.  At her father’s urging, she agrees to return to Maoilios in order to check on her Grandpa Hal, who recently suffered a heart attack.  She is also expected to begin the process of closing the vineyard since profits have fallen in the years since her grandmother’s death. Natalie is in no hurry to do her father’s bidding, but her former crush and current vintner Tanner Collins is skeptical of her reassurances she is looking for ways to make the vineyard profitable again.  However, the animosity between them begins to fade once Tanner realizes how emotionally fragile Natalie is as she tries to reconcile her grief and guilt over the accident that claimed Nicole’s life.  Will Natalie find the peace she desperately needs? Will she find the strength to go against her father’s wishes and save the vineyard? Can Natalie help Tanner heal the rift within his own family?

Natalie is suffering from depression, nightmares and PTSD but she is reluctant to let her parents knows how fragile she is. She is very reluctant to return to Maoilios, but her love for Grandpa Hal quickly overrides her reservations.  Natalie also thinks it might be time to face her past in order to lay her ghosts to rest.  She is uncertain whether or not she will be able to resist her father’s entreaties to close the business but she is hopeful her examination of the financial records will bolster her plans to keep the vineyard open.

Tanner is immediately suspicious of Natalie’s intentions for vineyard and he is rather prickly initially.  Unbeknownst to Natalie, his family is going through a very difficult time and he is struggling to make peace with a decision that will forever alter his family. Tanner is extremely stressed about dealing with his long estranged family members and a recent crisis in faith leaves him feeling unmoored.  It is easy for him to lash out at Natalie amid his growing concerns about the future of the vineyard.  However his compassion and tangled feelings for her overcome his hostility and Tanner is finally begins to work with Natalie as she tries to come up with a viable plan to save Maoilios.

The relationship between Tanner and Natalie grows naturally from their renewed friendship.  Tanner is an unexpected source of comfort for Natalie as she finally faces the ghosts of her past.  Once Tanner is willing to open up about his family’s troubles, Natalie offers useful advice that helps him sort through his confusing emotions.  Although neither of them are expecting to fall in love, they are both receptive to the growing feelings between them.  However, both Tanner and Natalie must fully deal with their issues before they can plan a future together.

With a gentle undercurrent of faith, The Memory of You is a wonderful journey of healing, redemption and love.  The cast of characters is multi-dimensional and although each of them is dealing with serious issues,  Catherine West deftly handles the difficult subject matter with a great deal of sensitivity.  An absolutely delightful novel that fans of contemporary Christian romances are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Catherine West, Christian, Contemporary, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Memory of You, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller

Title: Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller
Amish Letters Series Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian (Amish), Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

When a postal error creates pen pals of two young Amish people, can they put behind their past mistakes to see the bright future God has written for them?

Jalon Chupp has a past he isn’t proud to claim. He’s worked hard to overcome his youthful mistakes, and he has recommitted himself to his faith. When he receives a sweet note included in a piece of misdirected mail, he can’t help but write back. Soon, the letters he receives from Phoebe are the highlights of his days, and with a hopeful heart, he suggests they meet in person.

Phoebe, too, looks forward to every single one of Jalon’s letters. Living with her overbearing aunt, Phoebe doesn’t have too much to look forward to. But when Jalon suggests they meet, she panics—although she has shared some of the deepest longings of her heart with him, she hasn’t been entirely truthful about her past. But when Jalon shows up at her aunt’s doorstep, everything is revealed. And she can only pray he’ll forgive her for holding back the truth.

In order to reach beyond the errors of their pasts, both Phoebe and Jalon must put their faith in something—or Someone—bigger than either of them could pen.

Review:

The first installment in the Amish Letters series, Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller is a sweet inspirational novel of redemption, grace and love.

A misdirected letter sets the stage for a surprising friendship between Phoebe Bontrager and Jalon Chupp.  For Phoebe, letters from Jalon are one of the very few bright spots in her life. Living with her stern, judgmental great aunt, she must follow a strict set of rules and there is little joy to her days. Surprisingly, exchanging letters with Phoebe is a life-altering experience for Jalon and his future is looking very bright. Although Jalon and Phoebe feel as if they have gotten to know one another through their letters,  neither of them have revealed their deepest, darkest secrets.  Will their fledgling relationship survive when they finally meet face to face?

The oldest of eleven children, Phoebe went through a rebellious period and turned her back on her faith and her family.  Now in her early twenties, she has finally settled down and she has come to terms with her past.  With plenty of regrets over some of her decisions,  Phoebe does not have any choice except to live with her unyielding Aunt Bertha.  The situation is less than ideal which is why she eagerly awaits Jalon’s letters.  Things are already tense between them when her aunt forces Phoebe to end her correspondence with Jalon.

Jalon made some very poor decisions when he was younger, but he has worked hard to overcome put his mistakes behind him.  His faith is now strong and he has a good job that pays well.  Jalon and his sister Leanna decided to remain on the family farm after his parents decided to move. An unexpected opportunity comes his way just as he is realizing his feelings for Phoebe run deeper than friendship which leads him to make an impetuous decision about his future.  Jalon wonders if he made the right choice when Phoebe fails to reply to his last letter, but his concern for her well-being outweighs his doubts and he decides to pay her a visit.

Their first meeting immediately exposes Phoebe’s biggest secret and although things are rather awkward, Jalon has no qualms about rescuing her from the dreadful situation.  Phoebe is grateful for his assistance but Jalon remains distant from her. The easy rapport from their letters is long gone and neither of them is willing to bridge the gap between them.  Phoebe finally breaks the silence but Jalon’s unwillingness to confide in her when he is dealt a blow threatens to derail the progress they have been making.  Just when it appears their relationship is finally on solid ground, a family emergency threatens to destroy their chance at happiness.

Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller is not the typical Amish romance.  Jalon and Phoebe are flawed characters who have made serious missteps in their lives and both harbor many regrets for the pain their actions have caused to their families and their communities.  Redemption, grace and faith are strong components of this wonderful romance and readers will love joining  Jalon and Phoebe on their journey of healing.  An absolutely outstanding beginning to the Amish Letters series that will fans eagerly anticipating the next release.

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Filed under Amish Letters Series, Christian, Contemporary, Kathleen Fuller, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Written in Love

Review: Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix

Title: Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Review:

Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix is a poignant, heartrending exploration of the devastating effect missionary work can sometimes have on families.

Living in the midst of poverty-stricken Nepal, Lauren Coventry and her thirteen year old son, Ryan, are struggling to cope with the difficulties of day to day life.  Lauren is trying to be supportive of her husband Sam, who is off for weeks at a time fulfilling his dream (and self-proclaimed calling) to spread the word of God while trying to improve conditions in outlying communities.  Although Lauren has a strong faith of her own, the isolation and growing distance in their family leads her to question Sam’s zealous pursuit of his ministry and his lack of conern for its effect on their family.  When a childhood friend reaches out to her on social media, Lauren’s viewpoint of her family’s sacrifice for her husband’s dreams begins to change and she grows increasingly concerned over the disconnect between her and Ryan.  When tragedy strikes, will Lauren find the strength and courage to do what is best for her family?

Lauren fully admits she is partially to blame for her current situation but she cannot help but resent Sam’s intractable beliefs and decisions.  She wants to honor her marriage vows and support Sam’s dreams, but at what cost?  The changes in Ryan were immediate and despite Sam’s pleas to give him time to adjust, two years after their move, he is growing more distant and unwilling to communicate.  Lauren is fed up with Sam’s edicts and she is frustrated with living without any conveniences that would make their life more bearable.  Unable to reach her son as he grows more despondent, Lauren is sinking under the weight of living a life that is not of her choosing.  But how can she reconcile her desire to put the needs of herself and her son ahead of Sam’s calling to do God’s work?

Sam’s need to do missionary work is admirable but his zealotry blinds him to the effect his work is having on his family.  He does not take Lauren’s needs or objections into consideration as he blindly follows his path.  His complete and utter disregard for his son’s downward spiral is incredibly frustrating as he puts his efforts into bettering the lives of others while ignoring the pain his family is experiencing.  Sam’s devotion to his cause, his fervent belief in God’s will and his expectation that Lauren submit to his will makes it impossible for her to have productive discussions with him about their fraying family.  His reactions and edicts are counterproductive to Ryan’s increasing despair and Sam absolutely refuses to take Lauren’s concerns seriously.

Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix is an emotionally compelling and often times, heartbreaking, novel about the difficulties of balancing a family’s needs with missionary work.  This thought-provoking portrayal of family in crisis shows how easy it is to put service to God before family and the destruction such a decision can have when conviction blinds them to the needs of their immediate family.  An absolutely outstanding cautionary tale that is deeply affecting and will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Fiction, Michèle Phoenix, Of Stillness and Storm, Rated B+, Review, Thomas Nelson Publishing