“In the Shadow of the River” ~ Ann H. Gabhart’s newest (a review)

#sponsor #partner

Hi friends! I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to read Ann H. Gabhart’s newest novel. Revell Reads sent me a copy of In the Shadow of the River, a story about a young woman living, of all places, on a steamboat. Here’s more about the book, plus my thoughts about it.

About In the Shadow of the River

Jacci Reed grew up on a steamboat from as early as she could remember. But one night, her mother grabs her out of bed, and tries to whisk her away…only to be met by someone who means them great harm. At great expense to herself, Jacci’s mother, Irena, escapes with her daughter onto another steamboat. On this one, Irena’s actor father takes them in. He’s the Duke, a leading actor on the boat’s performances.

Later, as a young woman, Jacci has joined her grandfather, and others, in the musical theater and vaudeville that the steamboat offers visitors. Every night, they dress up to sing, dance, and perform comedy and just a little drama. Jacci loves performing; perhaps more than that, she loves the gently rolling river that brings her to a new location each and every day. But a day is coming that may put her face to face with an enemy she doesn’t even know she has. And her very life may be in danger.

My thoughts about In the Shadow of the River

I’m always happy to run across an Ann H. Gabhart book. Several of her novels (Angel Sister, Scent of Lilacs, Along a Storied Trail) are books I’ll never forget, with characters I adored. I’ve always enjoyed the ways Gabhart takes unusual settings (Shaker communities in the 1800s, a southern town and its preacher’s family, Kentucky in the Depression years) and creates stories and people that are truly unforgettable. In her newest, In the Shadow of the River, she brings readers into the close-as-family ties of a troupe of steamboat performers, who’ve been together for years and years. (Except for the new performers hired here and there.)

We get to meet Jacci as a little girl of almost-six, in 1881. When an attempted kidnapping changes her home (and her mother’s) from a steamboat to a showboat (that’s also a steamboat), Jacci meets the grandfather she never knew she had. As her mother attempts to survive the attack, Jacci gains several new “aunts” in addition to her grandfather Duke. And she begins to settle into her new home, despite a deep sadness.

When we see Jacci again, she’s a young woman, grown and performing alongside her traveling showboat family. She is beautiful and doesn’t resemble her mother at all. She isn’t aware that that is really a dangerous thing, hiding a dangerous secret. Oh, and there’s Gabe; the son of the boat’s captain and Jacci’s “aunt” Marelda; who’s been reminding her since she was 5 that he was *not* her brother.

I loved this new world that Gabhart created. I’ve actually been on a steamboat (clearly, not in 1896), but never thought of the lives of the performers who’d have traveled on the showboats in their heyday. Jacci and her “family” are an incredible and fascinating group. There’s Jacci, who’s lovely but quite able to set good boundaries. Aunt Tildy, who’s an amazing cook and prayer warrier. Grandfather Duke, who’s never been much on parenting until his granddaughter entered his life. And mother Irena, who’s fierce in her protection of her daughter. And Gabe, Jacci’s “not-brother,” who’d do anything for her.

Once again, Ann H. Gabhart has created an unusual group of individuals living a *very* unusual life. And the secrets which are endangering Jacci’s life are believable and frightening. Here’s a wonderful book, with some sweet references to faith, for fans of historical fiction.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions shared here are my own.

“The Secret to Happiness” ~ a review

#sponsor #partner

Did you know that author Suzanne Woods Fisher has a lovely series entitled about a beautiful, homemade ice cream shop, the Cape Cod Creamery? I’ve just had the privilege, courtesy of Revell Reads, of reading Book 2 in the series. It has a charming title AND a charming cover! It’s The Secret to Happiness. Let me tell you more about the book, and my impressions of it!

About the book

When you open The Secret to Happiness, you get to meet the cast of characters first, as Suzanne Woods Fisher opens the book with her characters’ names, ages, and mini-bios. First on the list is Callie, who’s 28, and was recently fired from her job. (And for WHAT a reason!) Next, there’s Dawn, Callie’s cousin. Also 28, she’s the part owner of an ice cream shop in Cape Cod. Her mother Marnie (third on the list) co-owns the creamery with her.

Then, there are some very interesting guys! There are some love interests of the owners of the Main Street Creamery; a cool little 6-year-old named Leo the Cowboy; and a professor who’s teaching a community class and is also the author of a self-help book called The Secret to Happiness.

Each of the female protagonists gets some face time as the lead in the story, and readers get to know these women’s own points of view. While you’d think that there would be some natural friendships and relationships, there’s much more beneath the surface in each one. They come together at the Main Street Creamery in some unexpected ways, as each one is hoping to discover exactly what the secret to happiness is.

“You can’t make everyone happy. You are not ice cream.”

Unknown, The Secret to Happiness

My thoughts

I fell in love with so many things that were part of my own first impressions of The Secret to Happiness. First, that wonderful title! Then, the marvelous sunshine-y blue cover with those amazing frozen bars. And last but not least, in my first impressions: the cast of characters. I knew immediately upon reading the their names and bios that I wanted to know more about them!

And, the author did not disappoint. I loved Callie and Dawn (and Marnie) even as I sympathized with their relationships and the challenges therein. I don’t think I’ve thought before as I’ve read a book, how much of our own internal dialogues are never spoken; and so consequently

, those around us (or close to us) miss some of the key parts of our stories. The conflict in this book is fascinating. And some of the time, the other parties in the conflict don’t even know that there IS conflict going on. The Secret to Happiness is part of what will eventually be a trio of books in the Cape Cod Creamery series. But the stories for each of these characters in this book, #2, are fascinating, captivating, and oh-so-readable.

I can’t complete my review without mentioning three other parts of the book that I loved. First, the quotes! Each chapter begins with one, and they’re fantastic and set the tone of the chapters (and the book, overall) beautifully. Second, the descriptions of the food! There are so many just-scrumptious-sounding descriptions of ice cream, ice cream bars, and other delicious food. (Suzanne Woods Fisher could be a food writer if she got tired of being a book writer!) And third. Leo the Cowboy! He is the most delightful character. What a kid. I cared for many of the characters in this book, but Leo stole my heart.

This was a truly lovely read. There was conflict, yes; but it was interesting and so true-to-life. I loved the characters and their inner dialogue. These were honest and showed their vulnerabilities, but also invited us, the readers, to love them and root for them. The Secret to Happiness was a delicious and marvelous read. I’m planning to find a copy of book #1 of the Cape Cod Creamery books. And I’ve read the first chapter of book #3–and I’m keeping an eye out for it! And even though I read The Secret to Happiness out of order, it was an absolutely wonderful book anyway. I recommend it to you!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions shared here are my own honest ones.

“The Long March Home” ~ an unforgettable novel from authors Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton (a review)

#sponsor #partner

Absolutely breathtaking.

I’ve just had the privilege of completing The Long March Home: A World War II Novel of the Pacific. I began the book, fell in love with its characters, and felt my heart break at the experiences and cruelty of war. Revell Reads was kind enough to provide a hardback copy of this book for me. And now that I’ve completed it? I’m ready to sit down, open the book, and begin to read it again. It truly is that good. You’ll fall in love with its characters–and you’ll never forget them.

About The Long March Home

1930. Mobile, Alabama.

Jimmy, Billy, Hank. And Claire.

Three of these children grew up in each other’s shadows; Jimmy, his best friend Claire, and her younger-by-one-year-brother Billy. In early grade school, Hank joins the trio. Over time, the boys’ devoted friendship becomes a brotherhood; sometimes with Claire accompanying them on their jaunts, and sometimes just on their own.

Right before high school, though, Jimmy realizes that he’s utterly captivated by Claire. Suddenly, she’s not just Claire, his best friend; his playmate, his companion. She’s a stunning young woman, inside and out, that he’s completely lost his heart to.

However, war is looming. It’s on the edges of everyone’s consciousness; countries are falling to invading, powerful forces across Europe. (And also in the Far East, though that news isn’t quite as prevalent.) Jimmy’s father, who’s Mobile’s hard-line preacher, has planned his son’s life out to the nth degree; he wants to send Jimmy to seminary, so that Jimmy can avoid the draft, and so that the two of them can eventually preach together. (He also has very decided opinions about whom his son might date.) And this future is the very last thing Jimmy wants. He is desperate to get out of Mobile. But the girl he loves is bound by heart and family, to the very town he’s determined to leave.

Eventually, the three boys sneak off to Mississippi, where they can lie about their ages (and their lack of parental permission) at a recruiting office, and join the army. They are posted to Manila, in the Philippines. It’s lush. Full of gorgeous women, beautiful landscapes, and marvelous food. And their army pay goes a long way.

But the lyrical landscape isn’t going to stay that way much longer. Because the attack on Pearl Harbor is literally on the horizon. And the Imperial Army isn’t going to stop at Hawaii; they’ve got their sights set on the Philippines.

“…we’re gettin’ through this. The three of us—all home alive. That’s our only aim from here on out.”

The Long March Home

My thoughts

The Long March Home is the most exquisite story of friendship and love; of a brotherhood that’s born in childhood, woven more securely together over growing-up years, and forged into something immutable in wartime.

Inspired by true stories.

The Long March Home

Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton accomplish something incredible in this book. I actually forgot that I was reading the work of two authors writing together. In fact, until I finished the book, I absolutely forgot that I was reading fiction; the characters of The Long March Home are so compelling and so beautifully written that they really seem like actual humans. (In fact, this book is inspired by actual events and accounts.) And the coauthors create a voice, in Jimmy, that is so real and true.

But Jimmy’s story is not just that of a young man growing up in a small town. It’s the story of a human who is shaped by his friendships and his love…who’s then plunged into one of the most brutal war theaters imaginable; the hostile setting of World War II’s Bataan Death March. And the events which follow.

I can tell you that I felt many emotions, quite intensely, as I read The Long March Home. Some of those are obvious, like the deep affection I felt for Jimmy, his friends, his mama, and, of course, Claire. There is so much more I’d like to tell you, but I’ll only say this: don’t miss this masterpiece of a story. It is absolutely worth your time and attention. And I totally predict that, like me, you’re going to want to pick it right back up and read it again, when you’re finished.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Finally–Natalie Walters’ third SNAP book! “Blind Trust” (a review)

#sponsor #partner

I was thrilled to receive a copy of Natalie Walters’ third book in her Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) series–and it was as marvelous a read as all her others were! In Blind Trust, we get to see other beloved characters again (Brynn and Jack from Lights Out, and Elinor and Kekoa from Fatal Code), which is fantastic. (As I’m a gal who ALWAYS loves the epilogues of books.) But now, it’s time for Nicolás & Lyla–and a wild ride it is, as you’d expect if you’ve met these two in the earlier books!

About Blind Trust

The SNAP Agency is composed of a group of highly skilled individuals: a genius cryptologist and hacker; a spy detector; an explosives and munitions expert; and a woman who can go undercover almost anywhere without detection. (Not to mention the CIA agent who helps where she can, and the agency head who’s less visible and behind the scenes.) Together, this team networks with other government agencies to protect the United States and her citizens, and the daily lives they lead–without those citizens knowing they even exist.

Lyla is a wearer of fabulous footwear; a giver of lavish parties; and a woman who’s not only tough as nails but is fiercely committed to SNAP and her fellow agents. She will throw herself at any situation to protect them, and her own family, even if her impulsive and sometimes reckless nature makes her teammate Nicolás crazy.

When Blind Trust opens, Lyla is serving undercover in an operation designed to capture a physician who’s been pretending to provide medical care for veterans. Oh, he’s doing some work; but much of what he’s billing for has never actually happened. And the vets are suffering for it. When the operation threatens to derail, Lyla ignores Nicolás’s instructions on her earpiece, to protect the nurse and patients in the office.

And this is a pattern. One which Nicolás isn’t sure he can continue to handle. When a temporary opportunity arises that would allow him to employ his explosives know-how for six months away from SNAP, he seriously considers it. Because while he’s worried every time Lyla ignores orders to do what she thinks is best in a hostile situation, it’s more than just worry that he’s feeling. It’s his heart that’s engaged. And he isn’t certain he can really ensure her safety while his feelings are turning more…romantic.

My thoughts

Lyla isn’t *intentionally* being difficult. She’s doing what she honestly and truly believes is best for her team or her family, each and every time she disobeys orders. (She has a fascinating backstory which we learn in Blind Trust that exacerbates these situations.) But the fact that Nicolás is the one giving her orders–and the fact that she really hates getting told what to do by this exceptional, talented, gorgeous explosives expert–might have a lot to do with why she feels that she has to prove herself by doing the opposite of what he’s telling her to do.

Nicolás has a backstory as well. And it causes him to step carefully and watchfully (remember, explosives expert) even as he’s also being courageous and loyal. So the two of them test each other’s boundaries, leanings, and tendencies in almost every danger-filled situation.

And then…there’s also the intense attraction they feel toward one another; one that’s ever-so-obvious to their teammates, even though they think they’re keeping their feelings well-hidden (from everyone else AND each other). But talking about it is so difficult as neither knows if they’re actually on the same page.

Also! There’s the incarcerated prisoner who keeps sending Lyla threats. And that flash drive. And the danger that’s ahead of them, that neither can even imagine.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blind Trust. Natalie Walters is exceptionally talented at creating believable, captivating characters. I was fascinated to read the story behind Lyla’s and Nicolás’s tendencies and choices. The things that made them so different also make them incredibly well-suited for one another. You WANT them to get together. You want them to solve the crime and stop the terrorists and the traitors.

Of course, you also want them to survive the book!!

Blind Trust is a fantastic journey into the behind-the-scenes work that unseen operatives and agents do to keep American citizens safe. Nicolás and Lyla, and their story and clean romance, are enthralling. This is a wonderful end to the SNAP series–if indeed it is the end. (Personally, I’m hoping that it isn’t!) I highly recommend Blind Trust and the other SNAP books, and Natalie Walters as well.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. I’ve shared my own personal thoughts in this review.

“After the Shadows” – Amanda Cabot’s new series (a review)

#sponsor #partner

I couldn’t resist reading Amanda Cabot’s newest book, which is the first in her new Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing series. It’s called After the Shadows. Amanda weaves a compelling mystery along with fascinating characters to create a highly readable novel. Let me tell you more about the book, plus my own thoughts about it.

About After the Shadows

Emily Leland is heading home to Sweetwater Crossing, in the Hill Country of Texas, after her husband was suddenly killed. Although she’d only been married about a year, she hadn’t seen her family since then, due to the harsh dictates of her abusive husband. She’d missed her mother’s death, and her sister Joanna’s extended musical study in Europe. And on the morning she returns home, her beloved father, the town’s pastor, dies unexpectedly–and perhaps, impossibly? Only her sister Louisa is left, and Louisa is angry.

Craig Ferguson and his tiny son Noah arrive a bit early in Sweetwater Crossing, where Craig is to be the new schoolmaster. Due to unforeseen events, Craig and his child will be boarding at Emily’s huge (and nearly empty) family home, along with Mrs. Carmichael, Craig’s original landlady.

This unexpected group begins to form the bonds of friendship. But Emily cannot step away from the questions surrounding her father’s death. Things could not have gone the way they seemed to have. But how can she discover the real truth? Perhaps Craig can help her to solve the mysteries before them.

My thoughts

The cover of After the Shadows expresses so much.

The woman, faced away from the reader, is all alone. She’s heading for an enormous house which, though lovely, looks forbidding and empty. There are tiny violet-blue and white flowers on either side of the driveway. All of these illuminate something about Emily’s life when she is heading home.

Emily, now a widow, left with nothing by the terrible man she married. Returning to a formerly full and happy home, now on the desolate side. Mystery, sorrow, and loss. And the Texas town she grew up in, as the pastor’s daughter.

Both Emily and Craig have suffered such terrible things. But the friendship they develop (it doesn’t hurt that Emily loves and helps to care for little Noah) gives each of them a support they’d not have dreamed of, just a little earlier. Amanda Cabot’s protagonists are incredibly vivid and memorable, as are the rest of the characters who people the town of Sweetwater Crossing. They all seem so incredibly *real* and easy to imagine.

And Emily is an incredible woman. She’s been through such terrible abuse; yet her inner core of sweetness, kindness, and strength enable her to love and to stand with others for what is right and good. Craig, also, is a good man; and really right for Emily in ways she doesn’t know yet.

You will love both Craig and Emily. And if you’re like me, you won’t be able to wait for the remaining books in the Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing books (which I’m hoping will be about Emily’s sisters!). If you’re a fan of historical fiction, do pick up a copy of After the Shadows–you’ll be engrossed in just a few pages!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Lynn H. Blackburn’s new Defend and Protect series novel: “Under Fire” (a review)

#sponsor #partner

I am always ecstatic to get a new suspenseful thriller to read–especially when it’s by Lynn H. Blackburn. And this one definitely did not disappoint! Let me tell you more about Under Fire!

About Under Fire

Lynn H. Blackburn’s fantastic Defend and Protect series are the very best of special agent books. United States Secret Service agents and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation face an array of criminals who will stop at nothing to achieve their wicked and cruel aims. But the agents are just as determined to stop them. In the Defend and Protect books, there are crossover characters, as two of them (in each book) get the main storylines; but they all work together to serve the U.S. and those they’re protecting. Under Fire joins Blackburn’s other series titles of Unknown Threat, Malicious Intent, and Targeted. I’ve read them all—and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this newest addition!

In Under Fire, special agents Zane Thacker and Tessa Reed meet after a long time apart. When they’d gotten to know each other before, Tessa had faced some serious personal issues, and pursued healing before reclaiming her Secret Service position. Now she’s back in Raleigh while Zane works in the D.C. area. While each has feelings for the other, those feelings have remained unspoken while they text each other, frequently, as friends.

Now they’re both in Raleigh, as the president will be the guest of honor at a fundraiser held at the home of a friend. The Secret Service is tasked with ensuring that he’s safe while there…but threatening emails have begun to pour in, and the agents have to check out each one. That’s frightening enough, but totally within the agents’ purview. What’s making Tessa, Zane, and the others especially concerned is the fact that someone seems to be targeting Tessa. And that person seems to know a little bit too much about her…and a frightening incident from her past.

My thoughts

WHAT a satisfying book, and fantastic addition to the Defend and Protect series! I loved getting to see my favorites from previous books–Faith, Luke, Gil, Ivy, and of course Zane–and Tessa! Blackburn developed both the protagonists’ characters so beautifully. Tessa, who’s overcome a serious issue, but who’s still facing scars from that, but from the shame and embarrassment connected with events with Zane that happened earlier. She’s also very much a woman in a man’s world (my note: the U.S. Secret Service definitely recruits women. In my research, I found statistics that ranges from saying that 9% to 25% of current Secret Service agents are female.) And while most of Tessa’s colleagues respect her knowledge, abilities, and strength, there are always those who…well, you know.

So, despite her exceptional abilities to perform her job, Tessa still has some damaged parts of her soul. As does Zane. And as can so often happen, those damaged areas in each of them do conflict. Watching them try to see if they can work out their differences, and depending on their faith in God, was as fantastic to watch as their professional challenge of rooting out the actual threats potentially facing the president on his upcoming Raleigh visit.

I will personally never be an agent of any kind–but I adore reading wonderful fiction about them. Under Fire combines fascinating agents, great friends, and a mystery that no one is sure is solvable. Get yourself a copy of this wonderful book!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

Elizabeth Goddard’s great new thriller is here: “Cold Light of Day”

#sponsor #partner

Cold Light of Day is the first in Elizabeth Goddard’s new Missing in Alaska series. It is a fantastic read–and you know this from the very first chapter, which starts with a bang!

About Cold Light of Day

Autumn Long is the police chief of the small Alaskan town Shadow Gap. She’s also a certified diver, daughter of the former police chief (her dad), and absolutely committed to being the strong and competent leader her town needs.

Except, in a small town, there are politics. Which can make things more difficult, for sure–even if it’s just in the cruel words or complaints made to higher authorities. And suddenly, to complicate Autumn’s job even more, there has been a murder. And reports of shots fired. And worse…and more.

She can’t trust everyone around her but when a chance rescue throws her into Grier Brenner’s path, he seems to become a willing and quite able ally or assistant. But he has secrets he’s keeping as well. And he’s supposed to be staying as anonymous and unconnected as possible.

But the crimes keep occurring. And they are drawing Grier and Autumn together.

My thoughts about Cold Light of Day

I have spent a small (admittedly, *very* small) amount of time in Alaska. It’s stunning and breathtaking; the mountains, water, and forests are incredible.

But just imagine, if you will, trying to police an area that includes not only wild animals that could kill you, but terrain and weather that could as well. Now continue that imagining, and think of a police force with only a few officers who serve a town; a town that is situated along a fjord of frigid water, and beside a forest that stretches into hills. Add to that the freezing temperatures and snow of the winter (probably fall and spring to a degree).

Alaska is gorgeous. And it draws people, I think, that are hardy. (Or grows them that way.) But I think that the landscape itself must create a challenge for law enforcement before they even consider the crimes they must solve and perpetrators they’ve got to pursue and arrest in the course of justice.

Autumn is an incredibly strong woman, determined to protect and to serve. But she’s got enemies; on the city council, for sure, and perhaps within her own small force. As she’s battling to keep her job, crimes are being committed; against her community members and even against visitors. She finds that Grier is standing beside her to help, in various treacherous situations; but the secrets he’s keeping are also putting distance between them. But he can’t share those with her; even his presence is putting her in danger.

What a read! I haven’t met an Elizabeth Goddard book yet that I haven’t loved; and Cold Light of Day is another. It’s one that I’m very happy to recommend to you. Gorgeous landscape, fantastic protagonists, and the unfolding of shocking mysteries. Don’t miss this fabulous thriller!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions shared here are my own honest ones.

Laura Frantz’s fabulous newest: “The Rose and the Thistle” (a review)

#sponsor #partner

Lately, I’ve taken to reading historical fiction again. Years ago, I gorged (you get this, if you love reading) on tons of books about several particular eras–so much so that I got to where I couldn’t even think of reading any more about them. And I gave up the genre as a whole. But, there are some amazing writers who’ve drawn me back to centuries and historical events that I knew only a little about. And they’ve provided a banquet of images about these–with periods of time I’ll remember because they peopled their books with such memorable, wonderful characters.

And so! That’s what Laura Frantz has done for me with her lovely The Rose and the Thistle, and its main characters. Scottish laird (or lord) Everard Hume. Protestant. War hero. Eldest of many brothers. And English Lady Blythe Hedley. Catholic (or Jacobite), Brilliant. Learned. Multilingual. Beloved only daughter. These two (and their families) live on the edges of England and Scotland in 1715, when the British crown has changed hands yet again, with Catholics and Protestants regarding each other as abhorred enemies. Yet circumstances throw these two not only into each other’s path, but into the very same home. (Or castle, as it were.)

My thoughts

The Rose and the Thistle is just breathtaking.

This is a book that you must, must read. Exquisite character creation and development. Wonderful world-building. Descriptions of both the animate (be they people, animals, or birds) or the inanimate (like the gorgeous clothing you see on that fabulous book cover). And language! (Not coarse, mind you; but the enormous difference between the spoken British English and the Scots tongue.) Blythe and Everard are from different worlds; they speak different languages; and although they both profess the Christian faith, the ways they worship have placed them on two sides of a war.

And yet.

Frantz brings these two worlds together with great skill and flair. Her protagonists, and those dearest to them, are fascinating. And it seems as though there’s no way that the two of them could ever become friends, much less connect in any meaningful way.

This is a book that so richly brings to life the world of 1715, with (in England and Scotland, anyway) dangerous intrigue and the desire of two almost equally matched groups who wish to enthrone their own choice of ruler. Yet far away from the throne are individuals with their own private lives and wishes. And perhaps, love.

This is a marvelous book. I adored every single minute I spent reading, and I don’t think I’ll every forget Blythe and Everard, and their story. Highly recommend!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.

“Targeted” ~ a new 3-in-1 book review

#sponsored #partner

Recently, I had the opportunity to read 3 novellas by 3 of my favorite writers of romantic suspense–all in one book! The book is Targeted, by Lynette Eason, Lynn H. Blackburn, and Natalie Walters. I received a copy of this marvelous read from Revell. Let me tell you my impressions!

About Targeted

In this fantastic collection of romantic suspense thrillers, all in novella form, readers meet 3 strong women who are suddenly, and unexpected, the target of nefarious plots. And three fantastic men come alongside them to help…and get more than they bargained for!

  • In Lynette Eason’s On the Run, FBI agent Daria Nevsky comes home before a trip to find her front door opened…and a would-be kidnapper ready to take her against her will. Where, she doesn’t know; and a wound from a knife fight sends her to the hospital, where she meets Dr. Ryker Donahue. He’s willing to go the extra mile to help her (despite her clearly-qualified abilities and strength). But the two have more danger ahead of them, and to survive, will they need to go it alone?
  • Lynn H. Blackburn’s Deadly Objective introduces readers to physical therapist Emily Dixon. She has been working with the U.S. Vice President’s son, Mason, after an injury sidelined him from golf. The Secret Service agent, Liam Harper, who’s assigned to Mason is one of the few who can deal with the teen’s moods and disrespect. But when an attack begins against the Vice President’s residence, the agents whisk Mason, Emily, and the Vice President’s family and staff to a safe house. But they don’t know who masterminded the attack, or if there’s another one ahead.
  • Caught in the Crosshairs, by Natalie Walters, rounds out the trio with CIA officer Claudia Gallegos. Her efforts overseas in another operation connect her to a Saudi prince who reaches out to her for help. When she arrives, however, she’s too late. And former Army PSYOPS officer Ari Blackman (rumored to be the James Bond of the CIA) has the job of debriefing Claudia. (That doesn’t go well.) But Ari might just have the means to save her life, a little later.

My thoughts about Targeted

I was thrilled to read Targeted–and actually couldn’t put it down once I began reading it! The three stories about three amazing, courageous women–women whom you’d love to be friends with in real life–mix perfectly together to provide readers with a novel-length read.

Although Daria, Emily, and Claudia don’t actually meet each other in the books, they’re all living and working around the same Washington circles: the Secret Service, the FBI, and the CIA. And, they’re quite different, but all appealing in their own ways. Daria (from On the Run) has a horrible family history that still affects choices she makes in the present. Emily (of Deadly Objective) is wary of a romance with any Secret Service agent, because she’s observed that these exceptional people are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect those they serve–and while she admires that fully she doesn’t want the personal risk of falling in love with one of them. And Claudia (Caught in the Crosshairs) has spent her life proving she doesn’t have to do what her mother wants her to do with her life. And she certainly doesn’t trust the so-called playboy who uses his charm and good looks to discover secret information. (Of course, that info saves lives–but Claudia is irritated by that skill and its effect on other women.)

Each of these women is so relatable (yes, even if you’re not an agent yourself, as I am not!). I loved each protagonist. And the men were equally as awesome, in all their different ways. And the suspense! Just fantastic, dangerous, unexpected events in each book target the duos. You will hope for the best, for each of them–both in relationship and in getting out of danger alive!

If you’re fans of each of these authors’ books, you’ll appreciate their characters from their previous works that get woven in here and there. Fun! This book, both in part and in total, is a wonderful read. Pick it up over your holidays if you’ve got some reading time ahead!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions expressed here are my own honest thoughts.

“Word of Honor” ~ a Revell Reads review

#sponsor #partner

I’ve discovered a wonderful author who’s new to me, courtesy of Revell Reads, who provided book 2 of Hallee Bridgeman’s Love & Honor series for me to read: Word of Honor. It’s a fantastic thriller set in both American states and international countries–and its suspense and comradery between its characters endeared the book to me. Let me tell you more about this book!

About Word of Honor

FBI Agent Lynda Culter is brilliant. Strong. Capable. But while she and her partner are out on a simple operation in Alaska, the two are taken captive by members of the very eco-terrorist organization they’ve come to arrest. The op crashes and burns, and worse; Jack is murdered while Lynda is immobilized. She is rescued, but Jack is gone.

However, the FBI, and its fellow intelligence organizations the Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency, aren’t willing to give up. Because Green War’s attacks on oil pipelines–and the humans who live around them–aren’t focused on only one geographical area. And things are starting to escalate.

The intelligence joint task force decides that the best way to find the terrorists and stop their plot is to insert Lynda, who’s seen the terrorists face-to-face, into an Army Special Forces unit, and send them to Istanbul, where they believe the group is currently operating. The only potential hitch in this plan? Lynda is to play the role of the wife of a tourist couple. And the man playing her husband is the man who dumped her cruelly in college.

My thoughts


Word of Honor starts with a bang. And the story continues to move along at a fascinating pace until a conclusion that no one would expect–but that readers won’t be able to put down until the turn of the final page. There’s world travel (albeit with destinations chosen by those in charge, not those traveling the routes). Betrayal. Capture. Interrogation.

The protagonists: Lynda: A bright and capable agent, who’s especially skilled at discerning plans within plans, and mapping out the attacks that those plans could likely lead to. A woman who loves her country and who’s honored to serve it; but also, a woman whose heart was broken terribly by Army weapons specialist Bill Sanders, ten years before, while they were both in college.

And Bill. Part of a team who works together like clockwork, who have each other’s backs and are all exceptionally trained in warfare. And yes, Bill did break Lynda’s heart all those years ago. He had his reasons. But that was all before God pursued Bill, drew him to Himself, and set him on the Army service road he’s traveled since then.

Hallee Bridgeman can tell a story and build a remarkable tale of suspense. Her characters are devoted to one another, and many of them, to God, and to faithfully serving not only their country but each other. *This* is what faithful friendship, loving service, and actual heroism can look like; and Lynda, Bill, and their comrades will capture your heart. You will cheer them on and hope for the best, and you’ll be very likely to stay up late reading to the end!

(And then, like me, you’ll be adding Hallee’s other books in the series to your TBR, or to-be-read, pile!)

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions expressed here are my own honest ones.