Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Texan's Honor

The second installment in the Heart of A Hero series by Shelley Gray is as promising as the first! A Texan's Honor revolves around several characters, but we'll introduce three here: Jamilyn (Jamie) Ellis, Scout Proffitt, and Will McMillan.

Jamilyn Ellis has been taking care of herself since her brother was killed during the war. Her parents retreated into themselves and pretty much forgot about her. Because of that, she hasn't seen or done much in her life. Since the death of her parents, nothing has gone right for her. At the beginning of the story, Jamie is a victim and a hostage of the notorious Walton Gang. Even though she is a victim, she shows some admirable qualities: fear, strength, determination, spunk.

After Will McMillan, former soldier and now U.S. Marshal working undercover, meets Jamilyn Ellis, he knows his life is going to change forever. He's never taken kindly to treating women disrespectfully, but the Walton gang seems fit to do just that. He is determined not to let that happen. Along with Scout Proffitt, notorious gunslinger, he decides to get Jamie off that train at all costs.

Scout Proffitt is well known as the most lethal man in the west. He's a hired gun, a killer. This story shows many different facets of Scout, even though he's not one of the main characters.  First, we see the hardened gunslinger let a captive, Jamie, get under his skin and ultimately sets her free against the Walton's wishes. Then, he meets Kitty. Kitty profoundly affects his life. I am not going to spoil it for you, but be prepared. Kitty will open his eyes and his heart like no one else can.

This book revolves around honor. The epitaph of Wyatt Earp's tombstone rightly starts this story off: "...That's nothing's so sacred as honor and nothing so loyal as love!" Honoring ourselves, honoring our Lord, and honoring each other is what we learn through these characters in the book.

I highly recommend this book, just like the first one!

A Texan's Promise

The first book in the Heart of a Hero series by Shelley Gray, A Texan's Promise is a strong start to a beautiful series. The story revolves around three main characters: Clayton Proffitt, Vanessa Grant, and Miles Grant.

Clayton Proffitt is the honorable, respected Foreman on the Circle Z Ranch. He is everything good and kind in a lot of people's eyes. He commands respect just by the way he looks and acts towards others. Even Price Venture, Vanessa and Miles' stepfather, knew he was no match for Clayton with the men of the Circle Z. Clayton is also scarred by the war, like many others of the time. He is working on the ranch to heal and come to terms with all that he's seen and done, which he feels makes him unworthy of anyone's love.

Vanessa Grant is a beautiful, sheltered, and extremely vulnerable woman. Ever since her father's death, she has clung to Clayton like he was her lifeline. If she had any problem, she would go talk it out with Clayton, who would listen attentively and give her the best advice he could.

Miles Grant is struggling to find his place in this life. No one, not even his father, has ever taken him seriously and he's allowed it. He prefers to hang back and fade into the background. He's almost content to do it until the night Vanessa is beaten and Clayton forces him to face the reality of it.

One night, Clayton finds Vanessa in the barn crying. After much cajoling on his part, he finds out that Price has beaten Vanessa. Remembering the PROMISE  he made to Vanessa's father on his death bed to keep her safe, he feels like a complete failure, but vows to never let it happen again. The adventure begins there...

Throughout the story we learn about promises and what it means to honor and keep those promises. We also learn about God's promises to us. Clayton and Vanessa are both broken and weary by what life has thrown their way. They are struggling to make it through this life the best they can, in the best way they think. Each one has to come to grips with what they've suffered and been dealt. They also have to come to the knowledge and understanding that "God was with them, always." As Clayton states in the latter part of the book: "He's been there with us, even when we didn't know what we wanted. Even when we didn't know how to achieve our dreams." God is faithful, God keeps his promise to never leave us or forsake us. That's the lesson in this story.

I loved this story, and I know you will to!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Over the past weekend (which was a long one for me, I might add) I have read three books. Yes, I realize that is crazy and I have no life :) The most notable, however, was this one. I thoroughly enjoyed other works from this author including The Girl in the Gatehouse, Lady of Milkweed Manor, and The Apothecary's Daughter.  So, I was so excited when Bethany House Publishers offered me a free copy of this book in return for my honest review. It did not disappoint!

Emma Smallwood is a tutor's daughter. Her father, John Smallwood, teaches and owns Smallwood Academy where Emma has frequently (more frequently than she cares) had to step in and teach since the death of her dear mother.  She is extremely intelligent, clever, and over zealously organized. Her motto: Everything has a place and put everything in it's place. She is independent and likes to be in control of everything in her life, because she feels everyone, including God hasn't done a good job of it for her.

Henry Weston and Phillip Weston were brothers that attended Emma's father's boarding school. With the financial difficulties mounted, Emma writes to Henry's father about the younger Weston brothers. The response she receives surprises her, and her father's answer surprises her even more. So off they head to the home of Henry and Phillip. Emma is filled with memories of their time at boarding school together and is not looking forward to seeing one of them.

This book is filled with real characters you can relate to, a plot that will engross you, and details about the time period it is written that will intrigue you. The development of Emma and Henry's characters are especially commendable. Both characters, Emma a lowly tutor's daughter, and Henry the son of a wealthy baronet, struggle with things throughout the book that make them seem more human and relateable. You see Henry's struggle to repair and rebuild his relationship with Emma and overcome his grief of losing his mother from long ago. You see Emma struggle to let go of control of her life, something a lot of us are loathe to do, and let God take over.

Overall, the book has romance, mystery (2 to be exact), and a loveable hero and heroine. You will not want to put it down!

Check it out here! You won't be disappointed.

Monday, January 14, 2013

To Whisper Her Name

To Whisper Her Name by Tamara Alexander

I was first introduced to this author in the book The Inheritence and I absolutely loved it. Her style, the story, the characters, everything. I have thoroloughly searched and read every book (I think) by this author since and was SO excited to read this book!

I was not disappointed! The book is a little on the long side (about 500+ pages) but it holds your interest the whole way through. I don't think there is any part in the story that can be left out because each chapter introduces new character traits or developes a trait further. You really get to know the main characters and feel a deep connection with them. You sympathize with them and laugh with them.

The plot was very interesting to me. Ridley Cooper is a war veteran from South Carolina. Olivia Aberdeen is wife to a Southern "traitor." Both come to live at Belle Meade Plantation to forget their past and move forward with their lives. They meet following a carraige accident and Ridley is instantly attracted to the prim and proper Olivia. But there's a catch! Ridley has a secret that could destroy the budding relationship and cost him his position at Belle Meade. The story progresses from there (I will NOT be a plot spoiler) and we can see the growth and developement of each character as their relationship grows.

The Christian message of the story is elegantly weaved in. It is not the in-your-face-Christian message, and that's what I liked about it. I believe there were two main points that each character had to learn: 1) Choices we make are not always simple. Sometimes God makes the choice for us, and it might not be what we would have chosen for ourselves; 2) Even when we make bad decisions, God never leaves us alone. He is always there, every step of the way. All we have to do is acknowledge His presence in our lives and He will help us get through.

Overall, the story, plot, characters, and themes are well developed and elequantly executed. This is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone!

Check it out here: