Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

A beautiful portrayal of lives altered by one corrupt and greedy woman.

When I finish a book, I like to let the story sit with me overnight before I review it. Before We Were Yours took more than one evening. There is so much depth to this story, so much pain and sorrow. The bright spots in the novel don’t allow the reader to get fully dragged under.

Based on true events surrounding Georgia Tann (who brokered children to the wealthy from the 1930s-1950s), Rill’s story is fictional but based on accounts of children who spent time in one of Tann’s homes.

Rill’s story is heartbreaking. A twelve-year-old girl who assumes responsibility to her four younger siblings but can’t keep them all together despite her best attempts. A girl who has only known life drifting on rivers in her family’s shanty boat with parents too young to call Mom and Dad. A girl who has everything she loves about her life stripped away only to be forced into a nightmare that grows worse as the days spent apart from her family stretch.

 

 

As Avery Stafford, a politician’s daughter whose life has been mapped out by her family, dives into the mystery present by a woman she meets at one of her father’s political appointments, she uncovers secrets long buried. Secrets that will make her take a hard look at her own life and future.

While reading, I felt Rill’s heartache, her shame and guilt over not keeping her family together, and her desire to return to the life she once had. And I felt Avery’s tug of war between keeping her family happy and living a life that makes her happy.

This story has a satisfying ending, though not exactly a happy one for everyone. It took me a bit to get into it but this is not unusual for me with Lisa Wingate’s stories. Probably because I tend to read more romances than anything, and while there was a hint of it in Before We Were Yours, the romance is not the heart and soul of this story. And just like every other book I’ve read written by this author, sticking with it was more than worth the payout.

My Rating:

Note: This book is written for the ABA market but is a clean read.

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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.

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shanty boat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

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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Review: The Memory of You by Catherine West

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

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Win One of the Quilts in My Mother’s Quilts by Ramona Richards

I’ve am not a crafty person, gave up on the idea long ago. I don’t have the patience or the talent to pull off some of the beautiful things that crafters are able to put together. My sister has this talent but in didn’t inherit that DNA I guess. To be honest, I haven’t thought of crafts (whether it be home décor, painting, or needlepoint) beyond home decorating or gift giving but a little gem of devotional book came across my lap over the past couple weeks and it made me realize there is a story behind many of these items.

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In My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith, Ramona Richard shares not only the beautiful quilts made by the women in her family (women of faith, strength, and prayer) but she shares a little history behind each of the quilts.

Each devotional beings with a Scripture verse and ends with a prayer starter but the real delight is in what falls in between. The stories. Stories of Richards’ grandmothers and mothers, of their love of family, God, and quilting. Stories of how when they were struggling they turned to their needlework and prayer or hymns and God’s Word. Stories of how life didn’t always turn out as expected (even for the author herself as she shares about some of the struggles of raising a daughter with severe cerebral palsy).

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There is a heritage of faith woven into the quilts that the author and her brother inherited from their mother and grandmothers, and Richards honors that heritage and preserves it even more in My Mother’s Quilts. This is a book that will have you thinking of your own family and the things you’ve learned from loved ones over the years.

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About the Author:
Ramona Richards is an award-winning editor, speaker, author of nine books, and a frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves Nashville, which she’s called home since she was ten. Sensing her mother was near the end of her life, Ramona documented her mother’s stories and lessons behind each family quilt. These stories form the devotions in My Mother’s Quilts. Find out more about Ramona and her books by visiting her online at ramonarichards.com.

Enter to Win!!!

thumbnail_Win This Friendship Quilt!

One lucky reader will win one of the quilts in this beautiful book. Not only will they become the owner of the friendship quilt, they now have a little of the history behind the colorful beauty. Other prizes are being given away as well. Enter to win. Contest ends June 30, 2016.

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

Beyond “I Do”

This September, when I was at the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference in Dallas, Texas, I noticed a certain name popped up a few times. At the first dinner, the keynote speaker happened to sit at my table (in the seat next to me). Bill Myers asked those of us around the table what we were working on, then we got on the topic of editors. His endorsement was for Deborah Raney. The next day, I sat in an all-day class led by authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. They mentioned a book by Deborah Raney. And, as it turns out, at the banquet and awards gala, Deborah Raney and her husband joined my table. At the time, I knew I had one of her books in my queue for review and after hearing her name so many times (as well as reading the previous book in this series), I looked forward to it.

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Danae Brooks longs for nothing more than to be a mother, but such a simple thing for her sisters is turning out to be a heartbreaking challenge for the middle Whitman daughter. Her husband Dallas seems to become less and less interested in the fertility treatments and doctor’s visits, and Danae feels alone and miserable.

When she decides she’s had enough for a while, that it’s time to take a break and focus on something other than herself, she ends up volunteering at a women’s shelter. While there, she realizes what blessings she has in her life. Her husband loves her and she doesn’t fear him like the residents of the shelter do their exes, her supportive family surrounds her and lifts her up in prayer, and even though she hasn’t yet been given the deepest desires of her heart, she has a beautiful home and Dallas’s job gives her the freedom to not have to work.

One of the women from the shelter asks Danae to keep her young son over the Thanksgiving holiday. After discussing it with Dallas, she agrees. What they don’t expect is to keep the boy for longer. As the couple struggles with what God wants them to do—falling in love with Austin will make giving him back that much more painful—they grow closer to each other, their families, and the Lord.

While my preferred reading (and writing) is romance, it’s wonderful to see authors writing about life after the engagement and wedding. Everything doesn’t fall into place after a couple says their vows. There are challenges and choices to be made that can tear apart families or draw them closer together. And bringing the reader inside those critical moments is where Deborah Raney excels.

***Abingdon Press 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.