Review: Peace in the Valley by Ruth Logan Herne

In spite of their differences, Trey Walker Stafford knows he owes his life to cowboy and legendary rancher Sam Stafford–the uncle who rescued him after his parents’ death. Trey had left the Double S Ranch to pursue music against Sam’s wishes, but returns to central Washington when he learns he’s the best match for a procedure that could save Sam’s life. Although Trey’s found country music fame and success, he’s also endured the tragic loss of his wife. He croons about love, but struggles with a yawning emptiness he can’t explain.

Overwhelmed by a growing list of challenges, but mistrustful of Stafford men, single mother Lucy Carlton reluctantly accepts Trey’s help to revive her crumbling farm when Sam instructs him to repay the overdue debt to her family.

As the two grow closer, Trey slowly begins to open his heart to this beautiful woman and strives to let go of the grief he’s held for years. Lucy has a complicated history of her own. Can Trey accept her as she is, learn to forgive the past, and find the elusive peace he’s sought for so long?

 

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Home on the Range by Ruth Logan Herne

This week, Home on the Range, Ruth Logan Herne’s second book in her Double S Ranch Series is available to purchase. Here’s a fun fact. I got to meet Ruth Logan Herne (and a bunch of other Christian fiction authors) at the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat this summer. It was a blessing to get to learn more about several of my favorite authors—and there was lots of laughter throughout the day.

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But let’s get back to why you’re here. Readers met Nick Stafford and his daughters in Back in the Saddle but we get to know this little family more in Home on the Range. As Nick’s oldest daughter Cheyenne struggles with school, she’s on the verge of being held back. When the principal suggests a counselor, Nick is unsure. Surely he can help his daughter—both of his daughters. He doesn’t need any help.

Upon their first meeting, Elsa Andreas doesn’t seem interested in taking on the challenge of his daughters either. But it doesn’t take Nick long to realize that he does need help and seeing Elsa with his girls, he realizes she’s the best person to work with them. Soon he finds himself taking her advice with his relationships and he is drawn to this quiet, even-keeled woman. A woman who is so different from his ex-wife.

Both Elsa and Nick must come to terms with letting go of the hurts of their past, of realizing their perceptions of the past aren’t reality (the difference between a child’s perspective and an adult’s), but will those understandings come to late to build the future they both long for and dream of?

These two characters were a perfect fit for each other. Nick’s a gentleman at heart, caring for the little ladies (and the new woman) in his life. Elsa is patient and everything Nick needs in his hectic life.

The author depicts life on the farm (the good and the bad) in a beautiful way. And since some of my family lives in Washington State, I could picture the Stafford Ranch clearly in my head. Even if you’ve never been to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, you’ll experience it in Home on the Range.

***The publisher provided me a complimentary copy of this book via Bloggingforbooks. I was not required to write either a negative or positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Historical Romance with Twists that will Make You Smile

What’s better than reading an entertaining story? How about four stories? In With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry, four beloved authors of historical fiction come together and share stories of unusual, often humorous, circumstances leading couples to find love.

With This Ring

In “The Husband Manuever,” readers of Karen Witemeyer’s newest full-length release (A Worthy Pursuit) will recognize Daniel Barrett and Marietta Hawkins. Daniel is about to leave his position as foreman on Marietta’s father’s ranch, and Marietta is desperate. If he leaves, he’ll never ask her to marry him. So, she decides to take matters into her own hands. But will it destroy their friendship in the process?

When the bridge leading to her property washes out and leaves Katie Ellen Hawkins alone with the one man she is determined to avoid, she’s disheartened when a menacing stranger refuses to leave her home. And appalled when Josiah Huckabee suggests they pretend to be husband and wife. Can she spent time with him and keep a hold on her heart? “The Husband Maneuver” by Regina Jennings is a fun and wild ride.

Mary Connealy’s “The Runaway Bride” finds Carrie Halsey feeling from an arranged marriage she will not enter into. Her older sister has hired a Texas Ranger named Big John Conroy to see her and her younger brother to safety but they don’t get far before people are hunting her down. Is the only way to escape the man she doesn’t want to marry to attach herself to another one?

And my personal favorite of the four…”Engaging the Competition” by Melissa Jaegers. Tomboy Charlotte “Charlie” Andrews is forced to help Harrison Gray when his glasses break, leaving him almost blind until a new pair can be ordered and delivered. Harrison has managed to avoid Charlie for years as if he wants nothing to do with her. Besides that little fact, how is her fiancé going to react to her spending time with another man—a very handsome man at that.

Each one of these novellas is approximately 100 pages. Dive right into the story and see how awkward and uncomfortable situations lead these characters to their future happily ever afters.

***Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Counting on a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

counting on a cowboy cover

Abby Knightly is determined to move on from the place she’s been stuck for the past two year. After a column in answer tone of her letters, Maggie Hope (now Monahan) encourages her to do just that—move forward. So when Abby sells her house, packs up her belongings, and moves to Wishing Springs, Texas, her family and friends are concerned she has lost her mind. But Abby can’t stay in the place where she lost so much, more than she’s ever willing to lose again. On her way into Wishing Springs, Abby swerves to miss a cow and is immersed in the world of the Four of Hearts Ranch and Bo Monahan.

Bo is instantly attracted to this stranger but has she come to town because of Maggie’s article about the handsome, available cowboys? When he learns he has a year old son he’d never been told about, his world becomes chaotic. Bo has enough to do with caring for his ailing Pops and his custom stirrup business. He recruits Abby to help him care for the baby.

Most of the townsfolk from Betting on Hope make an appearance in the second installment of the Four of Hearts Romance series. The nosy women from the salon, Doobie and Dooney (the twins), Pebble, Rand, and of course, Tru and Hope, Jarrod, and Pops and Solomon. The chemistry between Abby and Bo is immediate. Both of them feel lit but can Abby let go of her fear of losing someone in order to risk her heart on love?

Available Aug. 11, 2015

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

Betting on Hope by Debra Clopton

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When advice columnist Maggie Hope is roped into interviewing Tru Monohan, a champion horse trainer, her nerves get the best of her. Tru tries to calm her, and she unwittingly places a bet that will put her in the public eye, and Tru’s presence, for the next two months. In order for her column to survive, Maggie must move to Wishing Springs and allow Tru to teach her how ride a cutting horse. Along the way, she finds a community and friends. But when her past comes calling, will Maggie’s hopes for her future come true?

Admittedly, I don’t often read many cowboy romances, but this one was engaging. Between the characters in the book and Maggie’s clumsy nature, there are a lot of laughs throughout the story. Maggie’s heart to help others in discouraging situations resonantes. The relationship between Tru and Maggie kept me in anticipation, and the addition of Jenna, a sixteen year old whose pregnancy brings her to Wishing Springs, adds depth to the story. I will most definitely be reading the next installment of the Four of Hearts series by Debra Clopton (available in stores and online Feb. 17, 2015)

***Thomas Nelson provided me with a copy of this book (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.