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.

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.

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Once again, Melanie Dickerson has delivered and engaging and unique perspective on a classic fairy tale. This time around, Ariel from The Little Mermaid gets a remodel in Dickerson’s The Silent Songbird.

When Evangeline’s cousin, the King of England, informs her that she will marry his closest advisor (a man twice her age whom she believes is hiding an evil streak from everyone), she does the only thing she can. She runs.

Disguising herself as a mute peasant girl named Eva, she and her companion travel to the village of Glynval with a small group of servants. Their leader, Westley le Wise (anyone else notice the nod to The Princess Bride here?) is both handsome and kind, but Evangeline realizes the secret she carries will end any hope of attachment between them before it can ever begin.

Something sinister is occurring in Glynval which puts Westley’s life in danger. Will Eva reveal her secret to save a man she admires? And if she does, will her send her back when he learns of the lies?

There’s a lot happening in this book (as with most of the Hagenheim series) but it all culminates in a satisfying way. I laughed at some of the escapades as Eva learns to do the servant’s work, grew agitated at the way another person treated Eva, longed for her and Westley to see what is right in front of them, and my heart pounded along with Eva’s when Westley’s life is in danger.

Dickerson is a fan-favorite of these types of books and with the attention to detail and the riveting storylines, there’s no question why that is.

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.

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

If you’re read any of Katherine Reay’s previous books, you know about her unique way of weaving classic fiction throughout her stories. A Portrait of Emily Price takes it to the next level not only giving readers bits of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and James Joyce but it also takes readers on a journey through the world of art.

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Fascinated by how things work, Emily Price is the go-to fix-it girl for the insurance company she works for. While in Atlanta on a job, Emily runs into the Vassallo brothers and agrees to help the younger brother, Ben, with fixing up his aunt and uncle’s restaurant. As the two spend time together, Emily and Ben’s relationship blooms, and when Ben asks Emily to travel to Italy with him, she agrees without hesitation.

But once in Ben’s small village in Italy, Emily finds herself out of place. Ben’s mother does not like her, the house is always crowded and more often than not, she’s lost in the conversations going on around her, and Ben’s busy at his family’s restaurant. It doesn’t take long for Emily to learn that instead of fixing Ben’s family, she’s breaking it. When she uncovers a family secret, she’s not sure she belongs there at all.

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From Atlanta to the Italian countryside, from literature to art, Reay paints Emily’s life in beautiful words. What I love about her books is that each of her characters is unique, likable but flawed, and we get to take the journey of discovery with them. For Emily Price, the lesson that has to be learned is that she can’t fix everything.

***The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.