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May 17, 2014
Rocky Mountain Oasis (The Shepherd's Heart #1)Rocky Mountain Oasis by Lynnette Bonner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sold by her uncle as a mail-order bride, Brooke holds no hope for a better future and carries the fear and guilt of an abused past. Sky hadn’t planned to marry anyone, let alone a complete stranger who is terrified of him.

Before they can start to know each other, a murder in town, a threat against Sky, and the arrival of Sky’s parents upend Brooke’s already shattered world. Sky is different from any man she’s ever known. Can she trust him? Does she want to?

Strong Christian theme throughout this story, it is suitable for older teens on up.
May 14, 2014
A Marriage in MiddleburyA Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlotte lived a comfortable life in small town Middlebury until the day her old flame strolled back into town. With a fiancée in tow. A fiancée who asked Charlotte to cater their wedding.

A charming story involving a family mystery, a cast of unique characters, and a whole lot of people falling in love. A story about second chances and grace.

Suitable for any age, this story may appeal more to those with a few years under their belts, those who have been around long enough to appreciate a second chance.

Anita Higman does a wonderful job of creating characters who are easy to relate to and fun to get to know.
May 7, 2014
The Icecutter's Daughter (Land of Shining Water, #1)The Icecutter's Daughter by Tracie Peterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There was so much to like about this story. The characters are engaging and realistic, very easy to like. The setting is unique and interesting. The writing is fresh and clear. And the romance is offset with just enough drama to keep it interesting. So why only four stars and not five? Two reasons.

First – I know it’s Christian fiction – but it’s pretty heavy-handed with the preachiness throughout. I’m a big fan of Christian fiction. I read more Christian than secular fiction because I like a faith element. I can relate to characters whose beliefs I share. But there comes a point where too much focus on the faith becomes a distraction to the story. I skimmed over a couple of sections like that in this book.

Second – one of my pettest of pet peeves is historical inaccuracy. This book has so many wonderfully accurate descriptions of the times, but then, at the end, there is a scene with a bunch of turn-of-the-20th-century German immigrants celebrating… with cider. Really? Okay, you don’t want alcohol in a Christian novel. I get that. Then leave out the drinking and the toasting altogether. But taking beer out of the hands of German immigrants for the sake of a Christian audience who wants to believe they all drank cider… is just wrong. Leave it out completely so as not to offend, but don’t offend the intelligence of history buffs everywhere, or those of us descended from those 20th century German immigrants.

So if those two nit-picky things don’t bother you, gentle reader, then you’re going to love this story. Aside from them, I enjoyed it very much.
May 4, 2014
The Preacher's New FamilyThe Preacher's New Family by Linda S. Glaz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

T.J. O'Brien is a circuit riding preacher, footloose and fancy free, in spite of the best efforts of the match-making mommas along his route. He's perfectly happy to fulfill his vow to serve God on his solitary path.

Sarah Rycroft is a widow with a young son and a farm to run. That difficult task is made even harder when the local banker makes it plain that he won't extend credit to a woman farmer. But she's determined to save the farm for her son's inheritance.

And then they meet...

A predictable and sweet romance suitable for any age. The conflicts are both internal - spiritual, and external - the black-hatted banker. You can't help but like the characters, which include a kitten and a horse.