An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray

An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shephard Gray (available now)

 

About the book

 

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one-year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two-hundred-acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

 

 

My thoughts

 

Let me start with the most important information. I loved this book!! I’ve only read a couple books written by Shelley Shephard Gray but after reading An Uncommon Protector, I’m a fan.

 

The development of both Thomas Baker and Laurel Tracey in this book were spot on. The author manages to introduce the reader to a man who has lived a hard life and is currently in prison in such a way that they sympathize with him instead of disliking him. Thomas Baker has a past but he also is a man you can respect. While readers get a glimpse of Laurel’s bravery from the first chapter, as the story continues, the layers of her character are revealed.

 

The attraction between these two is evident from the first time they see each other and only builds throughout the book. But that’s not what the book is really about. Both Thomas and Laurel are struggling to stand on their own two feet, to find their places in life. But maybe standing beside each other is better than standing on their own.

 

 

 

Disclosure statement:

 

I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble

Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble

 

About the book

Amid the beauty of Charleston, not all is as it seems.

When her husband Liam is killed by a car bomb while their Celtic band is on tour in Charleston, singer and Irish beauty Alanna doesn’t quite know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but Alanna knows she can’t lose the only piece of Liam she has left.

Alanna’s manager offers her a marriage of convenience to obtain U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution until she arrives at the family home of her new husband—a decaying mansion with more questions than answers.

Strange things begin happening that threaten Alanna’s life and the life of her child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is something more sinister at work?

A mysterious painting, a haunting melody, and a love stronger than death leave Alanna questioning where darkness ends and light begins.

My thoughts

While the story was a quick read, I had some mixed emotions about a few things going on.

The mystery behind Jesse’s actions wasn’t so much a mystery for me. I had that one figured out almost from the beginning. But Barry, his family home, and his motivations were not as clear until the end of the book. And there were some great action/suspense scenes in this one too.

Set in the Charleston, SC area, the book takes on an almost gothic quality (ala Jane Eyre) once Barry and Alanna return from Ireland and set up their lives in Barry’s ancestral home. Alanna’s career, her upbringing, and her family are all integral to the story and give readers deeper insights into her character.

I didn’t love how quickly Alanna was to give in to Barry on several occasions. Yes, she’s grieving but her husband has only been gone a few weeks (if that—the timeline wasn’t extremely clear).

If you’re looking for a read with a hint of the supernatural (which is all explained away by the end), Because You’re Mine may fit the bill. Overall, an entertaining read with a few scenes I’m still not sure how I feel about, but the ending was worth my time.
Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

I’ve read a couple books by Jonathan Friesen in the past, but Unfolding (available everywhere from Blink and Zondervan January 31, 2017) just might be his best yet.

In Gullary, Oklahoma, Jonah wishes he were whole. His life is filled with pain from a debilitating physical condition and seizures steal moments from his life. What Jonah wants more than anything is his best friend and neighbor, Stormi. But he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of her. Besides, Stormi has her own secrets and a seeming ability to sense the future.

Yet when Stormi needs him, Jonah’s there. As the two are swept into an adventure that reveals secrets about their small town and reveals things about Stormi’s past, their relationship begins to change. Stormi begins to change, to disappear from herself.

Friesen’s story is both captivating and engaging. While slow in a few parts, the mystery and adventure quickly picked up and kept me engaged. Jonah’s condition is written in a beautiful way, giving readers a glimpse into Jonah’s pain and frustration at his limitations. A wonderfully written story for adults and teens alike that will sweep you away for a few hours.

Disclosure statement: Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of Unfolding and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble

Tell me if you can relate. Every once in a while, there’s a book on my TBR pile (and yes, sometimes they’re ones I’m supposed to review) that takes you forever to get to it? But then you finally, finally get some time to read it and you’re like, “Why didn’t I read that sooner?”

That’s exactly what happened with Colleen Coble’s Twilight at Blueberry Barrens. Once I started reading this story, I didn’t want to put it down.

But first, let’s take a minute to admire this beautiful cover. I love the colors on this one.

This is part of the Sunset Cove series that takes place in Maine but it can be read alone (in fact, I haven’t read the other two books but after this one, I’m going back to them).

When her family’s blueberry crop does not yield enough fruit to sustain her, Kate Mason needs to find another source of income and fast. When a potential renter is thrown into her lap with the additional income of a possible nanny position, Kate’s eager to help the man with his two little girls.

Drake Newham is determined to find out the truth behind his brother’s and sister-in-law’s deaths. If it means moving to the rugged coast of Maine for several weeks, he’ll do it. But digging into the truth will require leaving his nieces with someone.

As the attraction between Kate and Drake build, so does the suspense. Kate’s uncle has escaped from prison, someone keeps breaking into Kate’s house, and a local peeping Tom has the women in town looking over their shoulders. Can they, with the help of local law enforcement, solve the mysteries surrounding them before someone else pays the price?

There’s a lot happening in this book (which is why it was hard to put it down when I had other obligation—like work). And while I had an inkling of what was happening, the solution went deeper than I realized.

Coble creates loveable characters. As a reader, I rooted for Kate and Drake. Kate’s past is riddled with trials and unfair circumstances. Now that she’s found so much, I wanted her to have all of the good things she deserves in her life without having to earn them. Drake is skeptical at first but he grew on me quickly. And as a supporter of other Christian fiction authors, it was fun to read mentions of Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series and Carrie Stuart Parks’ Gwen Marcey series in this book.

Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

When I’m in the mood to read a feel-good romance that is guaranteed to make me smile by the end, Denise Hunter is always a good bet. And with the third and final installment of her Summer Harbor series, readers get to experience the youngest Callahan brother’s journey as he returns from war.

just a kiss cover

If you’ve followed this series, you know that Riley’s heart already belongs to his best friend, Paige Warren. But in all these years, Paige has never seen him as more than a friend. She even dated his older brother for a time. And now that he has returned home less one leg, he knows he can never be the man Paige deserves but being forced to live with her is testing his resolve.

The Callahan brothers are swoon-worthy, and Riley’s no exception. Hunter handles the darkness and depression of coming home after the trauma of war well—you sense Riley’s despair and struggle with who he once was versus how he sees himself now—less of a man because he can’t do all he once took for granted. In addition to the physical pain brought to life on the page, the mental struggles are even more evident. And as expected with Hunter’s books, there are some kissing scenes that may leave you fanning yourself.

An excellent story of healing (both on Riley’s and Paige’s sides of the story), enduring love, and family. Oh, and all of the beloved characters from the series are back—including Aunt Trudie and Sheriff Colton.

***Thomas Nelson and Booklook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.