Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

together forever

 

Summary:

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children–firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

 

My Thoughts:

I am really loving the Orphan Train series by Jody Hedlund.  Together Forever is the second book in this series and follows Marianne Neumann as she begins a job as a placing agent for the Children’s Aid Society. This book offers a glimpse of what the Orphan Train journey and placement process was like for the orphans.  It was interesting and also a little heartbreaking to walk through the process from the  start of the orphan’s journey to their placement throughout this story.   The interactions between Marianne and her partner Drew Brady added humor and heart to this story and I enjoyed watching their friendship grow as the story progressed.  Marianne’s character went through a lot of growth during this story.  Both Marianne and Drew had flaws and hurts from their past that they were able to share with each other. Sharing those things brought them closer and added a lot of depth to their characters.  There is a definite twist in the story which added obstacles and conflict for the characters to overcome.  It definitely kept my interest until the final pages.  No spoilers here!  I was happy with the conclusion of this book. Jody Hedlund has written another captivating story filled with historical details, interesting characters and a plot that will keep the pages turning.

To purchase a copy of Together Forever  or learn more about Jody Hedlund visit the links below!

Amazon: Together Forever

jodyhedlund.com

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

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The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristen Billerbeck

theory of happily ever after

Summary:

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious science, as serious as Maggie takes herself. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies–for instance, why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

My Thoughts:

I was drawn to this book by the cute cover and it’s light and funny tone.  I have been trying to branch out and try more “new to me” authors and this is my first Kristen Billerbeck novel.  I love funny one liners, references to modern day pop culture, and the promise of romance in a book.  I thought this book was cute, but I had trouble connecting with the characters.  I thought the dialogue was funny and entertaining for the first half of the book.  However, I found Maggie to be very had to relate to.  Maggie came across as very negative, sometimes rude, and she seemed to be judging her self worth by her failed relationship.  Obviously these obstacles provide a lot of opportunity for character growth throughout a story, however Maggie was hard to like, and therefore hard to root for.  I thought the concept of the book was fun and I enjoyed the atmosphere that the cruise ship provided, it was a nice change of pace from the books I usually read.   Humor, fun in the sun and a bit of romance are the selling points of this book. Fans of rom-com novels will likely enjoy this latest release from Kristen Billerbeck.

To purchase a copy of The Theory of Happily Ever After or learn more about the author, visit the links below!

Amazon: The Theory of Happily Ever After

www.kristinbillerbeck.com

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Falling for You by Becky Wade

Summary:

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.


My Thoughts:

I have been anxiously awaiting this book ever since I finished the last sentence in True to You, the first book in the Bradford Sisters series! I just love the Bradford sisters! And Falling for You was fabulous, as expected! Willow and Corbin’s characters had such chemistry and they were both so real! Corbin’s charm and humor really made this book come to life in my opinion. His confidence, flirtatious nature, and constant desire to ruffle Willow’s feathers kept the pages turning quickly. I enjoyed that this story focused mainly on these characters but loved that the other Bradford sisters and a few friends from the previous story were sprinkled in occasionally. I was so anxious to find out why Willow and Corbin’s relationship ended in the past. It definitely kept me guessing and speculating until it was revealed. After learning about their past a lot of the missing pieces fell into place for me. Their past added depth to the story and revealed how much the characters had grown in the time that had passed since their relationship ended. Woven into this romance was a mystery and a lovable 12 year old girl named Charlotte. Charlotte was the catalyst for throwing this couple together to accomplish a seemingly impossible task of discovering what happened to a distant relative that simply vanished years prior. The mystery was intriguing and kept me guessing until the end. No spoilers here! All I can say is that I enjoyed this book from start to finish. It was the perfect compliment to the previous book and the end was just what I was hoping for! Another fantastic novel by Becky Wade, but I have come to expect nothing less! If you have not had a chance to pick up this series you must!

To purchase a copy of Falling for You or learn more about Becky Wade check out the links below!

Amazon: Falling for You

http://beckywade.com/home/

*I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Mother’s Day Tea by Martha Fouts

Summary:

Jonah Walters used to have the perfect life, but he ruined it with his self-centered ways. Brooklyn Lee once had big dreams, but an unexpected heartbreak made those dreams impossible. Now all Jonah and Brooklyn can do is lead lives of lowered expectations. After all, what’s the use of getting your hopes up when there’s no chance of your dreams coming true?

The nosy pastor’s wife, Maureen is determined that Family Chapel’s annual Mother’s Day Tea will be better than ever this year. She’s also determined that her nephew Jonah and little “Brookie” Lee will start to dream again.

With a bit of Maureen’s charm and meddling, she manages to convince both Brooklyn and Jonah to help her with the upcoming tea. Will Jonah forgive himself for his past mistakes? Will Brooklyn allow God to heal her heart from her terrible loss? Will Brooklyn and Jonah open their hearts to a new dream the Lord has for them?

My Thoughts:

This story was sweet, charming, and reminiscent of all that I love about Hallmark channel. I really enjoy reading a story with a friendship turned romance. Brooklyn and Jonah’s characters were genuine and flawed which made them relatable. Both Brooklyn and Jonah had things in their past that affected them greatly and shaped who they were and how they approached relationships. I thought that the author did a great job of navigating some really true to life hardships in these characters without making the story too heavy or making the characters bitter from their experiences. The conclusion of this book was everything you want in a romance novel, sweet and satisfying. If you are looking for a sweet romance with relatable characters that draw you into their story, then you will really enjoy The Mother’s Day Tea by Martha Fouts!

To purchase a copy of The Mother’s Day Tea or learn more about Martha Fouts visit the links below!

Amazon: The Mother’s Day Tea

About Martha Fouts

*I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli

Summary:

New York, 2016

Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776

Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

My Thoughts:

This is my second read by Heidi Chiavaroli and I am a fast fan. I am just loving split time novels. And, once again Heidi Chiavaroli has written two story lines that were equally as powerful and gripping. This story was deep, challenging, and amazingly good. I had a hard time putting this book down. That being said, this was not an easy read. The subject matter was difficult to immerse myself in, but I knew going into this book that it would be one that sticks with the reader long after the last words on the page were read. There are so many perspectives represented in this story through the characters, that it really forces you to think deeply. Both of the story lines reminded me that life is messy and hard and real life doesn’t come tied with a pretty ribbon. But, it showcases the sovereignty of God and the ability that He has to sustain His people through any situation. The characters in this book are so well written that you can really feel all the emotions they experience and I really connected to the story because the characters felt genuine.

I highly recommend this book. It is such a great book and it challenged me in many ways. It pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone, but those are the books that are memorable in my opinion. I admire the author for tackling hard things. Add this one to your “to be read” list. Heidi Chiavaroli is definitely going on my fave authors list after two exceptional books that I could not put down.

To purchase a copy of The Hidden Side or learn more about the author visit the links below!

Amazon: The Hidden Side

http://www.heidichiavaroli.com/

*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson

Summary:

On her way to San Francisco to find her brother, Caleb, who went missing three months ago, Camriann Coulter meets Judith and Kenzie, who both have their own mysteries to solve in the booming West Coast city. The women decide to help each other, including rooming together and working at Kenzie’s cousin’s chocolate factory.

Camri’s search for her brother, an attorney, leads her deep into the political corruption of the city–and into the acquaintance of Patrick Murdock, a handsome Irishman who was saved from a false murder charge by Caleb. Patrick challenges all of Camri’s privileged beliefs, but he knows more about what happened to her brother than anyone else. Together, they move closer to the truth behind Caleb’s disappearance. But as the stakes rise and threats loom, will Patrick be able to protect Camri from the dangers he knows lie in the hidden places of the city?

My Thoughts:

One of the reasons I chose to review this book is that I was excited about the setting of San Francisco in the early 1900’s. I also was intrigued by the mystery element of this book. A missing brother, political corruption and other characters with their own mysteries to solve. All that said I did struggle with this book. After diving in, I really did not connect with the main character, Camri. She came across as rude, condescending, and very self absorbed. Camri’s ideas about how women should value education over love or marriage were preachy and narrow minded. It was hard for me to get past a heroine that I just did not care for. Another issue I had with this book is that things were so convenient for all the characters in this story and it just made things seem unrealistic. Camri’s brother just happened to live in a nice, seemingly large house, in a nice neighborhood, with servants. Camri also just happened to have a key to his place because she had visited him once. The girls all managed to get jobs together. It was like any sort of hardship or issue was taken care of. I also had a hard time believing that anyone who was truly worried about a relative disappearing would go to plays, visit friends in their spare time, and really even find a job and basically set up a new life in a new city under someone else’s roof. I felt like Camri said she wanted to find her brother, but basically put no effort into doing so. By the time pieces started falling into place I had such a lack of interest in the actual mystery that I did not really care much about the conclusion. This book just wasn’t for me. Some books just don’t click with certain readers and this one just did not click for me.

To purchase a copy of this book or learn more about the author visit the links below.

Amazon: In Places Hidden

http://traciepetersonbooks.com/

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

Summary:

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

My Thoughts:

A Borrowed Dream is the second book in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. I did not realize before I started this book that it was the second in a series and had not read the previous book. I did feel a bit lost starting out. There seemed to be a little bit of back story from the previous book that I missed out on, but it was not impossible to fill in the gaps.

I enjoyed the interaction between the characters in this story. There was also enough of a mystery element to keep my interest. I think my main issue with this book is that I found the plot to be a little unrealistic for this time period. I don’t want to offer any spoilers, so I will just say that I found Austin’s previous background and job to be highly unbelievable for his station in life and the time period in which the book was set. I am positive that it was possible, it just seemed a little out of reach for who he was. There were some issues of grief to be worked through, also issues with trust and guilt. The pace of this book seemed to move fairly slowly until the last several chapters and then a few crazy things seemed to happen all at once. It seemed a little disjointed. All in all it definitely was not a plot that I had read before and everything was concluded nicely for the characters by the end of this book. There are also a few sample chapters of the next book in the series at the end of this book which is always fun to read!

To purchase a copy of this book or learn more about the author visit the links below.

Amazon: A Borrowed Dream

http://www.amandacabot.com/

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.