Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Woman of Courage - Wanda E. Brunstetter

Amanda Pearson has essentially been left at the altar, as her fiance tells her just before their wedding that he's leaving her for her best friend.  Rather than remain in shame within their Quaker community, Amanda convinces her father that they should set out for the Oregon Territory to bring the Good News to the Nez Perce Indians.  Trials and hardships shadow Amanda as she travels, and she is forced to examine her faith and her decisions to pursue this path.

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I do enjoy the time period of the expansion west.  I can't even imagine the hardships of crossing the country on horseback, with very few comfort items and months on the trail.  Amanda doesn't immediately strike the reader as one of hardy stock, yet she perseveres through tragedy and difficult circumstances while keeping her faith intact and even attempting to share the Word with all she comes in contact with.  Her character comes across as naive, yet sincere, and it's believable that she would grow on the people who initially resist her "Bible thumping."  However, I did find it difficult to believe that that many tragedies could befall both her and every person she met.  Maybe not the tragedies themselves, but the catalyst they provided to turn the characters to God felt too neat and tidy.  Not all tragedies lead to conversions, and not all conversions are proceeded by tragedy, but you wouldn't know that from this book.

Overall, I give this book 3 stars.  It could have felt a little deeper, with more examination of the faith that Amanda was sharing, but the characters were tied together well; and as a reader, I cared about them enough to be happy when things turned out well for them.

Edited to add:
This book contains several references to, and scenes of abuse - both domestic and child.  I wouldn't want any readers to be unaware of this facet, whether it might affect them personally, or be something they'd want to be aware of before recommending it to others.

You can find Woman of Courage HERE.
You can find Wanda's website HERE.

Odd disclaimer: I was supposed to receive a copy of this book from Barbour Books, in exchange for my honest review.  However, there seems to be a mix-up, and I never received my copy.  But no big deal, I borrowed the e-book from my library so that I could still review it as I promised!

Heaven Sent Rain - Lauraine Snelling

Dinah Taylor has structured her life around being a biochemist and CEO of a nutritional supplement company that aims to help people live healthier lives.  Her career and her homelife have been orderly, clean, and fulfilling, and have also served to distance her from her past.  However, now, she finds herself investing in a child she knows little about, her company is under fire, and she comes into contact with a man who seems to hate her at first impression.  What is happening to her neatly compartmentalized life, and who can she turn to when nothing makes sense anymore?

There were several compelling components to this story: I was completely intrigued by Dinah's need for white everywhere, and I was drawn into Jonah's life and his interactions with Dinah.  I also though Garrett to be an unusual character - a veterinarian who's an amazing artist on the side?  Unfortunately, I felt like the story didn't fully realize its potential, and had some pacing troubles along the way.  There were so many aspects of Dinah's past that were hinted at several times throughout the book, and then there was one conversation where she dumped most of the personal details, yet others were never explained at all.  Jonah, also a character with lots of potential, a seemingly gifted second-grader, who's had a complicated life, yet managed to thrive anyway, his emotions and reactions were made to seem tangential to Dinah and he was never completely filled out on his own.

I really thought this plot line was an interesting, and I'm sad that it fell short of what I felt that it could be.  I would have liked a little less of Dinah's wallowing, and more character development with the rest of the people in her life, as well as a more thorough, natural unveiling of her past problems.  I give this book 3 stars - mostly for feeling different than so many of the other books that I've read lately.

You can find Heaven Sent Rain HERE.
You can find the author's site HERE.

I received a copy of this book for free, from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.

A Match of Wits - Jen Turano

Agatha Watson has been given a traveling assignment for her newspaper because there are people in New York City who want her dead.  Who does she happen upon in her travels, but Zayne Beckett, the man she has loved from afar who left to marry his fiance 2 years ago.  However, due to injury and disappointment, Zayne is not the man he was when he left.  Agatha, being Agatha, plots and plans to restore Zayne to his family and to the man and friend he was.  Meanwhile, those around Agatha, including Zayne are busy trying to keep her alive.

I have loved this Ladies of Distinction series by Jen Turano:
A Change of Fortune
A Most Peculiar Circumstance
A Talent for Trouble

I have loved the characters, and have enjoyed following them through all of the books and watching their friendships and relationships develop.  Even though I liked A Match of Wits, it didn't grab me quite as much as the rest of the series. I think that what was missing was the relationships between the women that made the first three books so entertaining.  Their interactions, their mischief, and their friendships were what gave the books humor and depth, but for most of this book Agatha was on her own.  Even her strong character was dulled a bit by not having others to involve in her hi-jinks.  Part of it was logical - her friends were married and having babies, and that's a natural progression in their timelines, but it made Agatha seem more lonely.

I still loved this series, and I enjoyed seeing more of Agatha's story.  I still highly recommend this series the whole way through, and I hope that Jen Turano continues to write - either more with these characters, or an entirely new set to love!
I give this book 3.5 stars, but the series as a whole gets 4 stars!

You can find A Match of Wits HERE.
You can find Jen Turano's website HERE.
Or you can interact with her on Facebook, HERE, where she's about to do some more giveaways!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.