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.

Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

 

About the book

 ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past—new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.

Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.

Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.

Can hope spring from crisis?

 

My thoughts

 If you’ve read the previous book in Candace Calvert’s Crisis Team series, you’ll remember Sloane as the antagonist to that book’s heroine. And chances are, you didn’t think much of her.

An author who takes an unlikeable character and creates a story where I not only sympathize with that same character but also root for her HEA is rare. Calvert manages to tell Sloane’s story in a way that resonated with me. Her poor decisions from the past aren’t justified or glossed over but they build depth to the person Sloan is striving to become.

And when she gets to know Micah Prescott, she beings to believe she is worthy. But Micah has his own past regrets and demons he’s holding on to.

Maybe It’s You kept me involved from chapter one, rooting for Sloane to accept those in her life who want more for her—friendship, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, and perhaps even love.

The Crisis Team series allows readers a small glimpse into the lives of family, friends, and witnesses after tragedy strikes. In a world filled with too many horrible news bites, learning about people who have a heart for those left behind to pick up the pieces is refreshing and encouraging. Calvert manages to bring those people some well-deserved recognition through her books.

 

 

 

About the author

 Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team series. Her medical dramas offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California. Please visit her website at www.candacecalvert.com.

 

Q&A with Candace Calvert

http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/downloads/press_kits/Maybe%20It’s%20You_AuthorQA_Final.pdf

 

Read the first chapter

 https://files.tyndale.com/thpdata/firstChapters/978-1-4143-9036-9.pdf

 

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.

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker

About The Returning by Rachelle Dekker

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”–one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned–a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

 

 

My thoughts

First, I loved that the third and final Seer novel begins with Carrington and Remko Brandt. Too often books just jump into new characters and I feel like I need a refresher from what happened in the last book that I read over a year ago. This wasn’t at all the case with The Returning. In fact, the first chapter is both a reminder of what happened in The Calling but also an introduction to the story that is about to play out.

Shame. Fear. Doubt. Emotions that draw us away from God, away from the light. In the finale of Rachelle Dekker’s Seer trilogy, readers are reminded of this fact over and over again. As each character in the books goes through their own journey, much as each of us does, they are reminded that the light has always been with them. That they are not alone. That the light within is greater than anything that comes against them.

A story that clearly draws the lines between good and evil, God’s love and Satan’s lies, the light and the dark, and the choice that each person must make. Fast paced with scenes built in to let the reader breathe, The Returning is the perfect conclusion to a trilogy that started with a young woman who was not chosen with a future of servitude in front of her and ends with more than she could have ever imagined. God not only changes lives, he changes futures and gives us identity and purpose.

 

 

About the Author

 

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her at www.rachelledekker.com

 

 

 

More about the book (in the words of Rachelle Dekker)

 

The Returning focuses on Carrington and Remko’s daughter Elise. Tell us more about Elise’s character and her growth throughout the book.

Elise starts the book in a pretty dark place. She grew up without parents, believing she was abandoned, only to discover there’s an entire world that has been kept from her. Her journey can be divided into two parts, in my opinion: first, learning who she really is; and second, learning how to live that out. It’s the same journey we all take, and I believe that makes her pretty relatable.

The theme of identity is explored in all three Seer books. How does forgiveness relate to identity?

For me, forgiveness is more about the one who feels wronged than the one who committed the wrong. What if, for a moment, you believed that nothing could harm you? That you, as a believer, are seated at the Father’s table and standing with him? Can anything harm the Father? If you believe no, then can anything harm you—the true you, the true spirited self? So then, forgiveness becomes more about letting go of false belief and stepping into the true identity that the Father gave to you. I know it’s radical, but belief like that could change the world, don’t you think?

How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers?

I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same.

 

 


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.

Favorite Reads of 2016

I’m often asked how I can read so many books (over 130 in 2016). The answer is a combination of two things: I live alone and I don’t watch TV. Reading is my entertainment. As this year draws to a close, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads from this year with you. And one lucky reader will win a paperback copy of a book of their choice. Just leave a comment at the end telling me what your favorite book of 2016 was.

To order any of these books, click on the title. I planned to do a top 10 list, but let’s face it, with the volume of books I read, it was too hard to narrow down to this number so you get a few extras in this list.

15. The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

The conclusion of Crandall’s “Everstone Chronicles” does not disappoint. The black sheep of the family, Vance Everstone, has a reputation he’s working hard to put behind him. After years of hard living and poor choices, he’s striving to become the man God wants him to be. When he and Violet Hawthorne are found in a compromising situation, he chooses to do the right thing. This is a beautiful story of Vance’s redemption.

14. Thrill Squeaker by Christy Barritt

While a more recent book has been released in this series (and I have not had the opportunity to get to yet), the ending of this one alone makes it stand out. Add in a haunted amusement park and more adventures with Gabby St. Clair’s friends, Barritt delivers another delightful read in her Squeaky Clean Mystery series.

13. A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

The third (and final) book in the Ladies of the Manor trilogy is a series conclusion done right. My favorite characters from the other books make an appearance and the mystery and drama revolving around the Tiger Eyes diamonds comes to a fitting conclusion. All of this while watching two engaging and unique characters fall in love while convinced they aren’t worthy of the other person.

12. Emergency Response/Silent Sabotage/Christmas Conspiracy (First Responders Series) by Susan Sleeman

Okay, so I couldn’t pick just one of the books in this series by Susan Sleeman. This team is knit together so well, each of the books added to the enjoyment of the series. A unique group of law enforcement agents that includes a sniper, a bomb tech, two negotiators, an EMT, and the group leader, the First Responders team not only works together but live together as a family.

11. Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

Set against the Chesapeake Bay area, the first in this new series of Pettrey’s is both an introduction to the area and to the characters—a group of friends who band together when the going gets tough. Combine an ex-SWAT team sniper and a forensic anthropologist to create a page-turning suspense that ended too soon for me. Can’t wait until the next one (Still Life) coming out at the end of January.

10. Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard

This story has so many unique features in it, things that are rare jewels in the book world, I couldn’t leave it out. Our slightly disabled heroine runs a Tiger Sanctuary, the hero is an agent with the US Fish and Wildlife services, and the constant barrage of threats against this couple kept me up late at night getting to that final page.

9. The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

A story that will take you into the places under the big top most people never get to experience, Cambron’s book is a beautiful portrayal of finding their true homes. Mabel Ringling’s and Rosamund Easling’s stories are separated by twenty-five years but they are both drawn into the family of the circus (both the supportive, caring members and the jealous, vindictive ones).

8. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Tagg has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. AS another author with a new book in her series out that I have not gotten to yet, I’m definitely putting this one on the list! The Walker Family and the town of Maple Valley, Iowa will draw you into their circle and make you feel at home. When Logan Walker returns home for a long-overdue break, he doesn’t expect to butt heads with reporter Amelia Bentley. But as they chase a long-held town mystery, sparks fly between them. And you can always count on Tagg for a few smiles along with a sigh-worthy happily-ever-after.

7. Missing by Lisa Harris

First of all, the Nikki Boyd files stand out on their own. This scrappy missing persons detective is resilient and smart even if her personal life seems a little messy, her career is right on track. Harris ups her game by setting this book in my hometown (Nashville). I could imagine several places like the fictional ones described in the books. But really, I don’t think anyone has had as bad a week as Nikki Boyd has in this one. The ending of this book does leave you wanting more (good thing Pursued is due out in April 2017!)

6. Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Ask any reader of Christian Fiction for a recommendation of a good book (and more particularly, a good romantic suspense), and you’re likely to get the recommendation of Henderson’s O’Malley series. In 2016, Henderson released the first book in a brand new series (and a novella that accompanies it in the Sins of the Past Collection which also includes novellas from Dani Pettrey and Lynette Eason). Evie Blackwell has been tapped to head up a task force solving cold cases. On her first assignment, Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois and meets town Sheriff Gabriel Thane. There are a few stories weaving into this one and many of the characters from Henderson’s previous books make appearances. Another one with a few strings left undone to lead readers to a new release in…you guessed it…2017.

5. If I Run by Terry Blackstock

When I first started reading Christian Fiction, Terri Blackstock was one of the first authors I discovered with her Newport 911 series. Years later, she’s still a favorite of mine. In If I run, Casey Cox flees the scene of her best friend’s murder. With her DNA all over the place, law enforcement is bent on finding her and hires Dylan Roberts, a war-weary Vet with PTSD, to locate her. What’s unique about this book is these two characters are separated for most of the story but as Dylan learns more about Casey, his interest increases. She doesn’t seem like a murderer. “If I’m found” will be release in February 2017. And hello, these book covers are amazing. Love how they fit together to create a larger picture (just like I hope the next book does).

4. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Reay is another one of my favorite authors. Her ability to combine bits of literature (whether it be Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, or Shakespeare) is a gift. In A Portrait of Emily Price she carries it a step further into the world of art. From Atlanta Georgia to the Tuscany country side, Emily Price is a character readers will grow to love as she discovers herself and uncovers a long-held secret that could tear a family apart.

3. The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

I discovered Griep’s books last year and thoroughly enjoyed her view into middle class English society. So it was with trepidation I read this book. I mean, how can you top England? But she not only met my expectations but exceeded them in The Captive Heart. When English governess Eleanor Morgan is forced to flee her home and make her way to America, her only choice of survival is to marry a man she’s never met. Trapper and Tracker Samuel Heath lives under the shadow of the death of his wife, but his daughter needs a mother and he’s willing to go to extreme measures to make that happen. As the two embark on a journey of trusting one another, the wilderness, the rumors, and a precocious child bring them together in more ways than either expects.

2. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

This book was so much fun (as was the second book in the Herringford & Watts Mysteries). Set in Toronto, Canada in 1910, readers are taken on a Sherlock-ian adventure via two female flatmates turned amateur detectives. While most women are bent on finding husbands, Merinda and Jem are intent on finding answers to crime. Merinda’s pushy demeanor and go-get-em attitude keeps the story light and enjoyable even though the girls get in plenty of trouble along the way. Good thing they’ve got a constable and a report looking after them in their escapades.

1. Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

As mentioned before, I have an affinity for books set in England (probably because of my love for all things Jane Austen). Isaac takes Oxford England, throws in references to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series and gives readers a feel-good book that will stick with them. Amelia Mason is trying to make amends for her past choices and decisions which has led her to a non-profit organization in England. As a lover of Lewis’s famous children’s stories, she cannot resist every opportunity to crawl into wardrobes and check the back for the entrance to the magical land of Narnia. As she does just this her first night in England, someone opens the wardrobe and she falls out. Little does she know how entwined her life is about to become with former Olympic rowing hopeful Peter Carlisle. I loved these two characters! Both are hurting in their own ways and Amelia really needs Jesus.

There you have it, my favorite reads of this year. Have you read any of them? What book (or books) did you enjoy most this year? Leave a comment with the title(s) and on Jan 15, I will choose a winner who can book a book of their choice from my list.

Thanks for stopping by! Here’s to more great reads in 2017!

For the Record by Regina Jennings

Fans of Regina Jennings may remember the inquisitive (aka nosy) young reporter from her previous book, At Love’s Bidding. In For the Record, Betsy Huckabee is all grown up and determined to make it on her own. Even if that means trading in hard-hitting news for ladies’ serials. At least she’ll still be in the paper.

for-the-record-cover

And when the new deputy comes to town to restore justice and put an end to the vigilante group that has taken the law into their own hands, she discovers her inspiration. Deputy Joel Puckett isn’t exactly the perfect hero, though, so some fictionalization is in order. As Betsy spends more time with the handsome deputy, she comes to appreciate the flaws in the man and begins to uncover what truly makes a hero. But what will her stories cost them now that she’s gotten to know him?

for-the-record-quote

Jennings once again delivers a fun romp through the hills of Missouri in For the Record. With lines like, “If only she’d get her hands free, she’d slap the handsome clean off his face,” readers will find some laughs amidst the more serious topics in the book. As Betsy looks to her future and Joel puts his past behind him, these two characters take readers through the highs and lows of learning to trust someone new.

****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.