Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Matter of Trust by Lis Wiehl

OverviewWhen life is murder, who can you trust?

One minute Mia Quinn is in her basement, chatting on the phone with a colleague at the prosecutor’s office.
The next minute she hears a gunshot over the line, and Mia listens in horror as her colleague and friend Colleen bleeds to death.

Mia’s a natural for heading up the murder investigation, but these days it’s all she can do to hold her life together. As a new widow with a pile of debts, a troubled teenaged son, and a four-year-old who wakes up screaming at night, she needs more time with her family, not less—and working Colleen’s case will be especially demanding. But Colleen was her friend, and she needs to keep her job. So Mia reluctantly teams up with detective Charlie Carlson to investigate. But the deeper they dig, the more complications unfold—even the unsettling possibility that someone may be coming after her.

Lis Wiehl’s signature plot twists and relatable characters shine in this absorbing series debut . . . with an intriguing cameo from her best-selling Triple Threat series.

ISBN-13: 9781595549068
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 12/31/2013
Series: Mia Quinn Series , #1
Pages: 320
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: It has been a long time since I've read a book that has crept into my dreams! Lis Wiehl wrote a captivating crime novel and I couldn't wait to read it each day. I would have finished it sooner if I didn't have so much going on in my life at the moment! The story was well written and laid out. I didn't solve the mystery until the characters did. It was not predicable to me, and I appreciated that.

The characters were very intriguing. I love that the author wrote Mia as a real, single mom, struggling to find her balance between work, family, and putting her life back together. Her character will be one that any woman, whether you have been in her situation or not, can relate to. I also love that this is going to be a series. I feel like Mia's character development will be much better when stretched out over a few books, rather than jam packed all into one.

The faith element was a little lacking for me, however, not in a bad way. Mia's character is just learning to trust again after the events in her life took that trust away. It would be improbable that she would just jump into a faith that relies on trust right away. In my opinion, the right amount of faith was put in the book with Mia's dad as the sole witness for her. This book does, however, deal with a lot of other issues. Single motherhood, death, and bullying are prominently featured in the book as real obstacles the characters have to overcome.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next book in the series!

About the AuthorLis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on FoxNews.com.

Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered. Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.

Wiehl earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland.

Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time.

She lives in New York.

Connect with Lis: Lis Wiehl Books | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Aug 22)

 
This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

What I've Read:
A Bouquet of Love (Weddings by Design #4)

Reviews Posted:
A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson
Wishing on Buttercups by Miralee Ferrell

What I'm Currently Reading:
A Matter of Trust (Mia Quinn, #1)

What I Hope to Read in August
A Deadly Business (Mia Quinn, #2)Appalachian Serenade (Appalachian Blessings, #.5)Miracle in a Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings, #1)Prelude for a Lordhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/netgalley-covers/cover46318-small.png

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wishing on Buttercups by Miralee Ferrell

OverviewCan Love Survive When Secrets Collide? 

She’d kept her secrets safely hidden—those from her past, and those in the present. Some things, Beth Roberts knows, a lady simply doesn’t share, even in the 1880’s West. The townspeople would never understand. No one ever has.

Jeffery Tucker, a handsome young writer, has kept his own secrets. He doesn’t have a right to pry into Beth’s affairs but finds himself strangely drawn to her and intrigued by the whiff of mystery surrounding her.

Beth knows that one day someone will unravel the threads of her past. And when two men from her past arrive, the truth might just hurt . . . Beth’s future and her heart.

As shadowy memories surface, Beth sketches the scenes she sees and is shocked by what—and who—her illustrations reveal. Dare she risk her heart again?

ISBN-13: 9780781408097
Publisher: Cook, David C.
Publication date: 2/1/2014
Pages: 416
Read my review of Blowing on Dandelions
Buy Wishing on ButtercupsB&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: What a wonderful story! Miralee Ferrell is an excellent author. I appreciate her way with words and her ability to keep a story from stalling. I was delighted to revisit some characters from the first book in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, Blowing on Dandelions, as well!

I found it hard to relate to Beth in the beginning of the story. To me, she seemed rude and selfish at times. However, as the story progressed, and I was able to glean more knowledge of her past, I could put her actions in better perspective. By the end of the story, I was fully involved in her life and rooting for her! After all, who can't relate to scars from the past (both seen and unseen)? Jeffrey, bless his heart, is a very patient man. While I wish his relationship with God would have been more developed, I understand it might have taken away from the main plot of the story. However, I still admired his love and dedication to Beth.

The theme of the story is hinted at right in the beginning of the book. The Bible verses the author included at the beginning of the story were very relevant throughout the book. Learning that God is always with you, even in the rivers and fires of our lives, is a hard lesson (Isaiah 43: 2).  Also, keeping God first and foremost in our minds when looking to the future, and handing Him the reigns is something everyone struggles with (well, I know I do!). 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and cannot wait for the next book in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, Dreaming on Daisies.

About the AuthorMiralee and her husband Allen have been married over 40 yrs. They live on 11 acres in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge in southern Washington State, where they love to garden, play with their dogs, take walks, and go sailing. Miralee also rides her horse on the wooded trails near their home with her grown daughter who lives nearby. She’s an avid reader and has a large collection of first edition Zane Grey books, which inspired her desire to write fiction set in the Old West. When she started writing fiction Miralee believed that she’d always stay with women’s contemporary, but has since branched out to historical romance. Her first two books were women’s contemporary with Kregel Publications, The Other Daughter, and Finding Jeena.

Miralee served as president of the Portland, Oregon, chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) for five years and currently serves on the board as an adviser, and she belongs to several other writing groups. She speaks at women’s groups, libraries, and churches about her writing journey, and has taught at both writers’ and library conferences.

Her fourth historical romance with Summerside Press in their Love Finds You series, Love Finds You in Sundance, Wyoming, released summer of 2011. It won the Will Rogers Medallion for Excellence in Western Fiction. Mission Pictures is considering this book as a made-for-TV family movie. Universal Studios was considering The Other Daughter as a family movie at one time as well.

Miralee is currently under contract with David C. Cook for a three-book series of historical romance novels, set in Oregon. The first, Blowing on Dandelions, released in June 2013, book two, Wishing on Buttercups, released February 1, 2014., a novella, Forget Me Not (published by the author), released April 1, 2014, and the final book in the series, Dreaming on Daisies, releases Oct 1, 2014.

Some of her books have a suspense thread as well as romance, and three have a higher degree of action with a decided Old West slant. Her current Love Blossoms in Oregon series will be somewhat of a women’s fiction/historical romance combination, with the emphasis on well-developed characters and plot.

Miralee is branching out into something new, a series of middle-grade girls’ horse novels titled Horses and Friends. The first book, A Horse for Kate, releases March 1, 2015, with each succeeding book releasing every four months after. These books will have an emphasis on friendship, horses, adventures, and will contain high moral values and lessons for kids woven into the story line. Watch for the titles–book two: Silver Spurs, book three: Mystery Rider, book four: Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/miralee
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MiraleeFerrell

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Water Your Faith Wednesday (Aug 20)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
 
I started a book yesterday called "Wishing On Buttercups" by Miralee Ferrell. As most Christian authors do, she included a couple verses at the beginning of the book, as kind of a segway into what the main theme of the book will be. The verse at the beginning of this book caught my attention:
 
"For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me, and go and Pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NKJV)

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/8444318024889663/
It's a wonderful feeling knowing that God has thoughts of peace towards us. Other versions say "plans" instead of thoughts. Either way, it's a great reminder of God's place in our life. Our reliance on him should bring us peace. When I read my devotional from Proverbs 31 this morning, I was reminded of this again. I would like to share that devotional with you today. 

Lynn Cowell
AUGUST 20, 2014
Our Best Plans are Not Always Best
LYNN COWELL
"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
I woke up from my dream feeling shaken and terrified. In it, my oldest daughter had gotten married and I had no part in it.
Not in the proposal. Not in the planning. No part whatsoever. In the dream, I sat in the back of the church watching. As her favorite music began to play, my mind began to swirl. My girl is getting married! Why am I just sitting here? Rushing to the bride's room, I found her. Her bridal outfit was a reflection of her unique style, completely different from anything I would have chosen.
She was fine, but I was not.
When I awoke, I knew the dream wasn't random. There was truth I needed to glean.
The hard reality is I can be one of those moms ... the ones with the built-in expectations. The ones with unspoken yet idealistic dreams of what "should be."
However, God wants me to recognize my ideals, my plans, my dreams are not always the best. But His are.
Today's key verse tells us God's thoughts and our thoughts aren't the same. His thoughts and His ways are always higher and better than our ways and thoughts.
Although I envision the perfect birthday, vacation or future wedding, God may have a different plan. A better plan. Maybe not "perfect" in the way I imagine, but perfect according to His plans and purposes.
This is especially hard as a mother. Wanting the very best for our children, we can get our hearts set on the best pre-school, middle school, high school or college. Knowing how hard it can be to make it in this world, we press in with our plans, suggesting or insisting our children pursue the degree, career or marriage choices we think are best.
The problem comes when we forget the most important part of the plans: God's thoughts and His ways.
Although there is value in our wisdom and experience, we must be intentional to give attention to God and His perfect wisdom for their future. Because without it, we can hinder the process of our children learning to hear from God for themselves.
While I can say I'm growing every day when it comes to expectations, I will always be on my knees asking God to help me. It is comforting to know, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, I can come to God daily and surrender my thoughts and plans to Him.
It's there I can lay down my thoughts and plans for my children as well.
Maybe like me, the idea of taking a step back from directing all of your children's ways scares you a bit. Here is where I find my comfort: my Father God is my children's Father and He loves them even more than I do.
Let's rest securely knowing when we encourage our children to follow God, His plan for them and their lives is much better than ours.
Lord, teach me to pray for Your best for myself, my family and those I love. Empower me to daily lay down my expectations. Then help me to leave expectations behind and trust You are always at work to bring Your best for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 40:5, "Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." (NIV)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Overview: She didn't expect to fall in love--but roses aren't the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family--especially her father--has other ideas. They've all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand--directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John's--and they want Cassia's full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston's premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family's faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi's good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop...

ISBN-13: 9780800721558
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 8/19/2014
Series: Weddings by Design Series , #4
Pages: 352
Buy ItB&NAmazon | CBD

My Review: Wow, this was a great read! I have not read any books by Janice Thompson, so I didn't know what to expect. I was not disappointed. As many bloggers and reviewers have already stated, this book brings to mind the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It is filled with the humorous adventures of two large families, competing with each other to be the best. It is also packed with biblical life lessons that the characters have to overcome and accept. The author does a great job of mixing faith with life, making the story believable without being over-the-top preachy.

I loved the characters! Cassia Pappas appeared a little wishy-washy to me at first, but as I got into the story, I understood. Cassia is struggling with her loyalty to the plan she believes God has laid out for her and her loyalty to her family. Her humor and passion for what she does really draws me to her as a character. Alex Rigas is a sweet, southern gentleman. I loved him from the beginning. While he's a more subtle male lead that I'm used to, he is no less important. His steadfastness and strength helps Cassia overcome her situation, and makes me admire him. The secondary characters, Babbas and Mama Pappas, as well as the Rossi family, makes the story interesting and fun.

As I said above, the author mixes life lessons and faith in this fun, fast-paced story. These characters have to learn to trust God to help them overcome jealousy, bitterness, and most of all: living what you preach. I loved this story and recommend it to anyone who wants to read a fun, fast-paced love story with great principles mixed in.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Revell Reads blogging program in exchange for my honest review.**


About the Author: Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over ninety books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. Janice formerly served as Vice-President of CAN (Christian Authors Network) and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), where she has finaled multiple times in the prestigious Carol Awards.  She was thrilled to be named the 2010 Barbour/Heartsong Author of the Year, with three books on the top ten list for that house. Janice is currently the vice-president of her local writing group, Writers on the Storm, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing. Her online writing courses have been helpful to many who want to earn a living with their writing. She also shares her love of writing in her monthly column at CFOM (Christian Fiction Online Magazine). Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all. You can find out more about Janice at www.janiceathompson.com or www.freelancewritingcourses.com.
 A DOZEN WACKY FACTS ABOUT AUTHOR JANICE HANNA THOMPSON


Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Aug 15)

 
This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!


What I read:
 

Reviews Posted
Second Chance Cafe by Brandy Bruce
All for a Sister by Allison Pittman

What I'm Currently Reading
A Bouquet of Love (Weddings by Design #4) 

What I Hope to Read in August
A Matter of Trust (Mia Quinn, #1)A Deadly Business (Mia Quinn, #2)Appalachian Serenade (Appalachian Blessings, #.5)Miracle in a Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings, #1)Prelude for a Lordhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/netgalley-covers/cover46318-small.png

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Left Behind - The Movie!

Left Behind
As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across a movie trailer that caught my attention. When I was younger, before I began to despise reading books (which I obviously outgrew since I blog about books all the time!), I read several books in the "Left Behind" kids series. Well, the movie trailer I came across was entitled: "Left Behind" The Movie! I remember the books and I remember being really interested in them, and while I haven't read the adult book (which I will before I see the movie), I watched the trailer. So, when I was approached to help promote the movie I decided to jump on the "Left Behind" train!
I'm interested in this movie for several reasons:
  1. I enjoyed the kids series, as it introduced me to the book of Revelations and the apocolypse when I was just beginning to learn and understand the God that I accepted as my Saviour.
  2. Being in the world, I admit to enjoying movies with certain actors/actresses in them, and this movie has a few very well-known actors/actresses in it.
  3. I'm interested to see how well the movie lines up with the book (which I fully intend to read before the movie releases).
  4. I'm also interested to see how strong the Biblical truths in the book will be portrayed in the movie.
LEFT BEHIND MOVIE -  COMING TO THEATERS OCTOBER 3RD, 2014
 Below is the trailer for the movie, which releases October 3. Let me know what you think!
 

 
Have any of you seen the trailer? Are you interested in seeing the movie? Why or why not? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Water Your Faith Wednesday (Aug 13)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
 
My sweet fiance finally hung up some "floating" shelves for me. Since moving from my apartment to my house, I've had a lot of my little knick-knack decorations still in boxes as we painted and arranged furniture just the way we wanted it. Now that we've got all of that stuff done, I've started to go through and empty those boxes. Have any of you ever heard of Willow Tree figurines? I absolutely love them, and as a result, I have a LOT of them. As I was placing some of my figurines and knick-knacks on my floating shelves, I realized that I had placed the Willow Tree figurine called  Hope next to a wooden cross I purchased while on my mission trip in Belize. It created a lovely picture and a beautiful reminder that in Jesus, we have our hope. 
 
Today's devotion, found on Short Daily Devotions, comes from Psalm 130:7, "Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption." (NKJV)

What do you place your hope in? It may be as simple as an upcoming vacation or a date next weekend, but chances are, you’re looking forward to something. But often, the things we place our hope in keep us in an endless cycle of disappointment. What we do is create little saviors to rescue us from whatever we think is wrong in our lives when our hope isn’t first and foremost in the Lord.

If we hate being overweight, the next diet is crafted into our mini-hero. It becomes the mechanism through which we hope to be rescued from our current state. Take it a step further, and consider the dollar. How many of us place our hope in little green pieces of paper and silver coins? Or worse yet, numbers on a screen?

When we place our hope in these little saviors, we doom ourselves to a life of disappointment and idolatry. We submit ourselves to an endless cycle of regret, an existence that constantly cries, “If only!” When our hope is placed in anything less than the perfect God of the universe, we will live in the darkness of dissatisfaction. Follow Jesus into the light of eternal hope.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All for a Sister by Allison Pittman

Overview: In Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, Celeste DuFrane has it all. Her father’s work with color movie film opens doors that lead to the stardom she’s always aspired to. But after losing her mother, she discovers that half the estate has been left to a woman accused of killing Celeste’s baby sister before Celeste was even born.

Dana Lundgren arrives on the steps of the DuFrane mansion having spent most of her life imprisoned for a crime that never happened. After accusing her of murder so many years ago, why did Marguerite DuFrane leave her a sizeable inheritance?

As Celeste and Dana learn each other’s stories, they come up with more questions than answers. Then a surprising discovery begins to fill in the missing pieces: Marguerite DuFrane’s written confession, penned shortly before her death. Uncovering the treachery and deceit that changed the course of countless lives—most of all, their own—the two women find more than they ever dreamed of.

ISBN-13: 9781414366821
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 6/20/2014
Series: All For Series , #3
Pages: 368
Read my reviews of All for a Song | All for a Story
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: I've never read a book quite like this. The story, though told from three different points of view, past and present, flows so smoothly. I give the author immense credit for being able to pull that off, as I don't think a lot of authors could have done it. 

The meat of the story was the characters.  Reading the confession of Marguerite DuFrane made me pity her and I disliked her for her choices up until almost the very end. Celeste DuFrane, while at times child-like and vain, has such a vivacious personality, it keeps her lovable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dana Lundgren's experience in the world that grew up without her, and I sympathized with her when reading about her experience in prison. These characters come to life on the pages of the book and I could almost, at the end of the book, picture their lives and determine their next moves. I loved connecting with each character!

The message of the book, besides Marguerite's experience in the presence of Sister Aimee and Celeste's prayers with Graciala, lies mostly in the story told from Dana's point of view. Dana has to overcome a lifetime of feeling bitter, abandoned, and alone. How she learns to do that, through the small acts of kindness with some of the people she encounters in jail, is truly a miracle of God. God works in her life to show her that she is not alone, nor was she abandoned, and that while we don't understand everything that goes on in our lives, God has a plan, better than we can imagine!

With a plot full of lies, deceit, and hidden motives, set in the Roaring Twenties, this story will keep you turning pages until the very end!

*I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the Author: Award-winning author Allison Pittman has penned more than twelve novels, including her series set in the Roaring Twenties—All for a Song, All For a Story, and All for a Sister. Allison resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Mike, their three sons, and the canine star of the family—Stella.

Connect with Allison: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Crossroads Blog

Monday, August 11, 2014

Second Chance Cafe by Brandy Bruce

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:


Love Inspired (July 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Brandy Bruce for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brandy Bruce holds a bachelor of arts degree from Liberty University. She's worked as a book editor for ten years. Brandy makes her home in Colorado with her husband and two children. When she's not editing manuscripts or writing, she's usually reading--anything from books about vampires to quiet Amish life. She also loves watching movies, talking on the phone with her sisters, blogging, or baking any kind of cheesecake.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Between her demanding work as a nurse and her father's poor health, Isabella has no time for distractions. So when a handsome firefighter practically falls at her feet, she keeps him at arm's length. But Ethan Carter is determined to win her over. Orphaned at a young age, Ethan longs for a family of his own—and he's sure Isabella is his match. But when he opens a cafĂ© near his firehouse, Isabella is less than thrilled. She knows firsthand the strain of being a restaurant owner, and she wants no part of that life. Can Ethan convince the busy nurse they can overcome any obstacle and have their happily ever after together?
Series: Heartsong Presents (Book 1104)
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373487193
ISBN-13: 978-0373487196

My Review: I really, really enjoyed this story. From the first page, I was hooked. Brandy Bruce made the story flow effortlessly and kept me turning pages to reach the end. I really liked that, even though this was a novella, the author didn't have the characters unrealistically falling in love in 2 days. The passage of time was evident and I appreciated that.

The characters were my favorite. I really connected to both Isabella and Ethan. Both characters struggled and grew throughout the story. Their romance was sweet and developed at a natural pace. I loved how Ethan kept pursuing Isabella even when she was pushed him back. It's the kind of romance every girl dreams of!

The opening verse says this, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) That's the message throughout the book. Each character struggles to come to terms with the fact that having an abundant life means having a life that pleases God, even though it won't always be easy. As Isabella's mother reminds us, "An abundant life isn't necessarily an easy life. But it's beautiful."

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet novella.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author as part of the FIRST WildCard Tour, in exchange for my honest review.*

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Chapter One


“Okay, people. We’ve got a firefighter with possible fractures and trauma to the spine. ETA is five minutes.”
Nurse Isabella Romano’s ears perked up and her pulse quickened. The mood in the emergency room shifted to one of controlled urgency. Isabella slipped on gloves and followed the attending physician, Dr. Nichols, to the Denver Health Medical Center’s ER entrance. Sirens rang out in the distance, and within minutes, the familiar sight of flashing lights sped toward them.
The back doors of the ambulance flew open and the paramedics jumped out. “Male, late twenties, fell from second-story landing to first floor and landed on his back. Multiple burns on his arms and a laceration on his right thigh. Hypotensive. Tachycardic. We administered one liter of saline through an 18 gauge IV in his left AC. Patient has maintained a pulse ox of 96 percent on 10L of oxygen via facemask.”
Isabella grabbed the left side of the stretcher, helping push the gurney to trauma room 1. At the sound of a low moan, she looked down at the firefighter strapped to the backboard. A neck collar kept him immobile and an oxygen mask covered his mouth.
“What’s his name?” Isabella called out to the EMT across from her.
“Ethan Carter. Company 51. Those guys will be filling up the waiting room as soon as they clear the scene.”
“Ethan, I’m Isabella. Can you hear me?”
His gaze met hers and Isabella could see his intense pain.
“Ethan, you’re going to be okay. We’re going to take good care of you.”
“Okay, everyone, on three,” Dr. Nichols ordered.
Everyone stopped what they were doing at Dr. Nichols’s instruction and lifted the backboard with Ethan on it, transferring him and the backboard to the hospital bed. He moaned. “We’re going to need 50 mcg of fentanyl,” Dr. Nichols called out. Maggie, one of Isabella’s colleagues, began cutting off Ethan’s burned clothing.
“Let’s get some X-rays, Isa,” Dr. Nichols stated. “I want a CT scan. His thigh obviously needs stitches.”
“I’m on it,” Maggie said as she inspected the burns on Ethan’s arms. Isabella moved to order the X-rays but Ethan reached out for her. She stepped back toward him, preparing to explain to him that she’d be back and he was going to be all right. But the look in his blue eyes stopped her. He tried to reach for his oxygen mask, but Isabella shook her head.
“No, don’t move,” she said; then pulled away his mask for a moment.
“Don’t leave me,” he said, his voice dry and raspy. Isabella was pretty sure that even covered in dust and blood, with a brace around his neck, he was the most attractive man she’d ever seen. Her heart tugged. In that moment, he just seemed so alone.
She replaced his oxygen. “I have to go for a minute, Ethan, but I’ll be coming right back. And we’ll get through this together. I know you’re scared and I know you’re hurting. But it’s going to be okay.”
He just stared at her, his eyes pleading for her to stay. Isabella couldn’t help it; she reached down and brushed his brown hair from his forehead.
“I promise I’ll be back,” she told him.

Ethan Carter’s eyes fluttered open and then shut again quickly.
Who in the world turned on that blinding light?
He could hear a voice, someone saying his name. He turned his head to the side.
What happened?
He heard that voice again, saying his name. Then it came back to him, playing through his mind like a movie reel. The house fire. The roaring sound of the blaze. The sensation that he was falling. The impact of the ground floor. The rush into the ER.
“Ethan?”
He opened his eyes and blinked, trying to focus on the woman’s face in front of him.
“Hi there,” she said. “It’s nice to see you again.”
He blinked again. “Nurse . . .”
“Isabella. We met under rather tragic circumstances, I know.”
She was teasing. He could hear it in her voice. Now that he could focus on her clearly, he remembered seeing her in the ER.
“Isabella,” he repeated. Dressed in blue scrubs, she stood next to the bed, her brown hair tied back in a knot. She smiled down at him and Ethan felt better at the sight of her smile. She checked the monitors, her eyes darting toward the door of the hospital room.
“Did they get the family out of the house?” Ethan asked. Isabella nodded.
“Yes. One of the other firefighters—I think his name was Blake—told me to let you know that everyone made it out safely.”
“Except me, I guess,” Ethan said grimly. But Isabella’s smile didn’t fade.
“C’mon, tough guy. You’ve got this.”
Ethan studied her warm smile and playful tone. “You’re right,” he conceded. “God was watching over me in that burning house. He won’t abandon me now.”
She blinked in surprise at his statement. “I suppose He was,” she agreed.
“When can I go home?” Ethan asked.
“I’m not sure,” Isabella answered. “Dr. Nichols will be here any minute to talk to you,” she said.
“Can you stay?” Ethan asked immediately. Her face softened.
“Sure, if you want me to. Is there anyone you want me to call for you? The guys from the firehouse were here all night, off and on, in the waiting room. There are a few guys out there now. They can come in as soon as Dr. Nichols speaks to you.”
Ethan nodded. “Thanks. But there’s no one else for you to call.”
Isabella frowned. “Your family?”
Ethan just shook his head, turning his attention to the gauze covering his forearms. “There’s no one. Just the guys.” He hoped she’d drop the topic. He hated the pitiful looks he got whenever he explained to people that other than a few distant relatives out in California, he had no one. It was part of why he’d joined Company 51. A whole firehouse with the brothers he’d never had. He wondered if the chief was in the waiting room.
The door slid open and a doctor wearing black rimmed glasses and holding a clipboard walked in. He looked to be in his mid-forties.
“Good morning, Ethan. How are we feeling today?”
We? I have a feeling you’re doing a lot better than I am, doc.
“I’m hurting, but I’m guessing that medication is dulling the real pain.”
Dr. Nichols nodded. “You had a bad fall, Ethan. You know that. There were second degree burns on your arms, and a gash on your thigh that took about twenty stitches. You lost some blood, but we’ve given you IV fluids and you’re vitals have stabilized. You’re pretty banged up and bruised all over, but unfortunately, your back took the impact of the fall.”
Ethan’s chest constricted with fear.
“How bad is it?”
Isabella stepped closer to his bedside.
“It could have been worse. You have a lumbar—lower back—spinal fracture. The X-ray showed an L4 compression fracture. The positive aspect of this is that you still have good movement and feeling. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any neurological damage.”
“Do I need surgery?” Ethan asked.
“I don’t think so. The X-rays indicate a clean fracture. I’m going to recommend we move forward with outpatient treatment. But you’ve got a long, arduous healing journey ahead of you.”
“How long until I can be back on active duty?”
Dr. Nichol’s eyebrows furrowed. “The spine is a tricky thing, Ethan. And everyone heals at a different pace. You’re going to need rest, pain medication, lots of therapy, a back brace—”
“How long?” Ethan insisted.
“We’re talking months, Ethan. And that’s assuming that everything heals as it should. While in a few weeks you’ll be able to continue with most day-to-day activities, I don’t see you going back to active duty for probably six months. It could be less; it could be more. Perhaps they can transfer you to a desk job until you’re ready. After a few weeks of therapy we could reevaluate and consider light duty. But as of right now, your life is going to look different. You need to understand and accept that. Your priority needs to be healing properly.”
Months? Desk job? Light duty? Ethan tried to swallow the boulder in his throat.
“But, eventually, I’ll be back to normal. I’ll be able to be on active duty, right?” Ethan pressed. Dr. Nichols folded his arms across his clipboard.
“If all goes as it should, I think you’ll make a full recovery. But as I said, this is going to be a one-day-at-a-time healing process. We’ll start with rest. I want you on complete bed rest for the next few days. No strenuous activity. We’ll fit you for a back brace, which I want you to wear for six to eight weeks. We’ll do an X-ray after six weeks and see if the bone has healed. Then, once the bone has healed, you’ll need to begin physical therapy.”
Ethan took a deep breath. He felt a soft hand squeeze his arm and he looked up at Isabella.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” she said, her voice encouraging. “You’re here, you’re alive, you can walk—those are all good things.” He stared at her, trying to hold on to the sense of calm emanating from her.
She’s right, Father, he prayed. But what am I going to do for months if I’m not fighting fires? And what if ‘the healing process’ doesn’t go as it should and I can’t go back? Company 51 is all I have.
That last thought was too much. Ethan felt tears welling up in his eyes. He blinked fast to keep them at bay, mortified that he might cry in front of this nurse who not only was kind and smart and had a great sense of humor, but also looked stunning in blue scrubs.
I will never leave you.
The words were just a whisper in his heart, but they were enough. He clung to them. It had only been six months since one of his brothers at the firehouse, Caleb, had lead Ethan to Christ. Six months of a changed life. He still struggled to accept that God loved him like a father. That he could turn to God at any time. But it got easier. Accepting Christ as his Savior had filled Ethan with something he’d known was missing since childhood. Now he treasured that faith more than anything else.
Ethan closed his eyes.
I have You, Father. Whatever comes, I have you. Help me through this.

Isabella watched as Ethan closed his eyes. His lips moved silently, and she knew without a doubt that he was praying. She looked over at Dr. Nichols who stood waiting without a word. Prayers were common things in the hospital. Sometimes people cried out loudly for help. Sometimes it was a desperate whisper. And sometimes, like now, it was a silent request. She’d seen people blame God. She’d seen them beg for His comfort. She’d even seen them try to barter for what they wanted.
Isabella wondered which one Ethan was doing now.
She also considered the fact that without all the dust and blood, Ethan Carter was even more attractive than she’d found him to be in the ER.
He had no family to call. That’s odd. The firefighters have filled up the waiting room, of course. But no one else. No relatives. No girlfriend. No one.
Isabella stared at the handsome firefighter’s brown hair and dark brown eyebrows. His sturdy jaw and those lips. She watched him pray. She wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to think so or not—but the fact that he was praying made him even more attractive.
I was wrong. He’s not completely alone. He has faith.
Ethan drew a breath and opened his eyes. He looked at Isabella before turning his attention to Dr. Nichols.
“Okay, what’s my next step, doc?”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Aug 8)

 
This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

Wedding Countdown Ticker  
I cannot believe there is only 1 month left until my wedding!!!


What I've Read:


Reviews Posted:
All for a Song by Allison Pittman
All for a Story by Allison Pittman

What I'm Currently Reading:


What I hope to Read in August:
A Matter of Trust (Mia Quinn, #1)A Deadly Business (Mia Quinn, #2)A Bouquet of Love (Weddings by Design #4)Appalachian Serenade (Appalachian Blessings, #.5)Miracle in a Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings, #1)Prelude for a Lord