Archive | August 2014

The Wildflower Bride by Mary Connealy

Book three in the Montana Marriages series continues the story of Wade Sawyer and Glowing Sun, a white woman who was raised by a Flathead tribe after her biological family died. Wade helped rescue Glowing Sun from some white men who took her from her Flathead family in The Husband Tree. Tragedy strikes her village just before Wade learns his abusive father needs him back at the ranch. Glowing Sun reluctantly goes with Wade to make sure he honors his father. Her spunk and honesty challenge Wade to stand up to his father in this romantic comedy.

The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

The Husband Tree is the second book in the Montana Marriages trilogy, and in it, Mary Connealy takes us on a cattle drive with the Harden family and some hired hands. Over the mountains and through the woods to Helena we go.

Belle Harden has three beautiful, hard-working daughters and a baby girl that she carries with her as she rides. Having had three husbands, who did as little as possible around the ranch before they each died, has taught Belle to rely on her own strength and knowledge for running her ranch. She doesn’t take kindly to a hired hand trying to take the reins from her, and she definitely isn’t looking for another husband, but circumstances put her in an awkward position with a man to whom she is actually attracted.

This is another humorous love story from Mary Connealy.

Montana Rose by Mary Connealy (plus some thoughts on submission)

Montana Rose is the first book in the Montana Marriages trilogy, and it opens with a bang. Well, it actually opens with a funeral and wedding all in one, witnessed by some rough ranchers in an area where there are almost no single women. Cassie Griffin is pregnant and burying her dead husband when the men begin staking their claims on her. Red Dawson is a decent man and a Christian, who is also the only man not vying for Cassie’s hand in marriage. Cassie’s first husband spoiled her and squandered away their wealth in his arrogance and ignorance while keeping Cassie in the dark about everything. Now a humble rancher must step in to prevent harm from coming to the beautiful and naive “china doll.”

This book addresses Biblical submission in a loving and entertaining way. God does not ask wives to be doormats and let their husbands walk all over them. Husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves and as Christ loved the church–unconditionally and sacrificially–while wives are told to respect their husbands by submitting to their leadership (Ephesians 5:25, 33). As long as the husband is a Christian, Biblical submission should not have the negative connotation that is common today.

Several years ago in small group at church, my husband and I suffered through an uncomfortable lesson on this topic by a man who must have thought his wife was angry at him for discussing submission. If only he had focused on the greater requirement of husbands! I believe most wives want to respect their husbands and allow them to lead, but so many men struggle with leading their families and/or loving their wives as Jesus loved the church. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is an excellent book that discusses what men and women need most in a relationship. This book helped my own marriage, and we have since given it as a gift to other couples.

The song “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real sums up the desire of a wife to be led by her husband, children to be led by their father, and a man to be led by God the Father as he strives to lead his family. The link contains an interview with the lead singer and the lyrics.

What are your thoughts on submission in marriage? What resources have you found helpful?

Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy

The final book of the Lassoed in Texas trilogy is set in a small town that lies at the end of the “orphan train”, and a single man named Grant adopts all the “leftovers”–the kids who have a disability, appear angry, look troublesome, or are too young or old, and haven’t been chosen by any family at any of the stops along the way. Hannah Cartwright, the new school teacher, fears for the safety of the children entrusted to the care of a single man, since she had been adopted by the same evil man as Grace Calhoun (Calico Canyon). Grant does his best to convince the meddling schoolmarm of his good intentions, but circumstances continually paint him in a poor light. Shirt Lady also complicates Grant’s life and adds to the mystery. Gingham Mountain ties up a few loose ends from the previous book while introducing an interesting cast of new characters.

Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy

Calico Canyon is the second book in the Lassoed in Texas trilogy and focuses on the new school teacher, Grace Calhoun, who was introduced in Petticoat Ranch as a severely prim and proper young woman. We learn in Calico Canyon about the man who has tormented Grace since adopting her as a child and who has now tracked her down to kill her. What will she have to do in order to escape his clutches?

Daniel Reeves, a widower with five rambunctious boys, accidentally brings home a new “ma” for his boys, and complete mayhem ensues when the local pastor comes calling. The dynamics between Daniel and his boys and their new ma make for a fascinating–and funny–story with a heartfelt ending.

Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy

As a book reviewer for Bethany House Publishers, I receive emails when they have new books to review, and I usually recognize at least one author, but a few months ago, I knew none of the authors on the list. Since I share all of the books with my mom, I asked her if she had a preference, and she said to request “anything by Mary Connealy”. Stuck Together was her newest book, and it was very entertaining. My mom then brought me several of Connealy’s previous novels, which I voraciously read and thoroughly enjoyed over the next three weeks. I will be posting reviews of these nine books over the next couple weeks.

Petticoat Ranch is the first book in the Lassoed in Texas trilogy and is set in the 1860’s. Sophie Edwards is a fiercely independent widow and mother of four young girls. She can hunt and provide for her girls and protect herself and them if need be. She’s smart, strong, and self-sufficient. One night, she and her oldest two girls bravely rescue a complete stranger, who looks oddly familiar.

Clay McClellan is searching for the murderers responsible for his brother’s death, but he discovers a family he didn’t know he had. He tries to do the honorable thing and take care of them, but he may have met his match.

God allows two men to hear Sophie’s silent prayers for help and sends them to West Texas, but will they reach her in time?

Petticoat Ranch had me laughing out loud and sharing short sections with my husband. Mary Connealy definitely wrote this series for women with its strong female characters, handsome cowboys, laughter, and tears. This is a very entertaining story, and my mom and I highly recommend it.

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review for Appalachian Serenade, a novella by Sarah Loudin Thomas, and I recently received the sequel, Miracle in a Dry Season, from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

This is the author’s debut novel, but it reads like the work of a seasoned author. The characters are well-developed, the plot is full of twists, and the setting is vividly described. The battle between good and evil, forgiveness and hatred is clearly portrayed. One of my favorite messages in the book is that no one is too sinful for God’s own son, so no one is too sinful for us to forgive.

Casewell Phillips is an elder in the church who has high standards for a would-be-wife and has never found a woman who could measure up to his criteria. Perla Long and her young daughter arrive in the small 1954 town of Wise, West Virginia, to visit her aunt and uncle, and rumors quickly spread about the young woman with no husband. The area suffers from a drought, and the people realize Perla has a unique gift and can help them all. However, they are blinded by self-righteousness and unforgiveness, which prevent them from accepting Perla and her gift.

God works miracles in this small town, and we are reminded that we should “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Unspoken by Dee Henderson

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Family series, Uncommon Heroes series, and individual titles. In other words, I have been a fan of hers for many years, and I loved her writing before her hiatus. I waited along with everyone else for her next book after a neck injury kept her from writing for a few years.

There are thousands of readers out there who have voiced their opinions about the direction Dee Henderson has taken in writing her last three books. Her current writing style is different, but I feel Dee Henderson’s writing has progressed, matured to a new level, where we see many layers unfolding as she tells a story. Gone are the high-action, explosive situations that throw two people together. While those are fun to read, how many of us have actually experienced a romance like that? And I enjoy reading about US Marshalls and FBI agents, but how many of us regularly come in contact with these people? I am married to a firefighter/paramedic, but our lives are pretty normal.

Dee Henderson’s last three books have been slower-paced romances (more realistic, I think) about people who were going about life, working, and happened to meet someone or make a new friend. Usually the female character has a unique flaw or gift that prevents her from seeing herself as lovable (most of us have felt that way at some point in our lives). The characters struggle with their faith, interact with their families, say things they regret, pray often, face their fears, and learn more about God’s grace, love, and forgiveness.

I received Dee Henderson’s latest book Undetected from Bethany House a few months ago and just recently realized that I had somehow missed Unspoken, which I should have read first. You can read my review for Undetected here. I read Unspoken last weekend and stayed up too late every night because I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t entirely suspenseful like her previous books tended to be, but there was a constant undercurrent of not knowing what would happen next that kept me turning the pages.

In Unspoken, Bryce Bishop is a collectible-coin dealer who made the mistake of telling God he was bored. Enter Charlotte Graham with a time-consuming and unique challenge with further surprises to come. As they do business together, Bryce begins to care about Charlotte, but she plans to remain single for life. Charlotte was kidnapped when she was 16 and has refused to speak about what happened to her during the four years she was held captive.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about the characters and their motivations. Bryce wants to help Charlotte heal and prays for help, but he still struggles to find the right words. Charlotte doesn’t want to believe in a God who would forgive evil men for their unspeakable crimes if they were to repent and ask for forgiveness. This is ultimately a story about God’s faithfulness through all situations and His redemption.


Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering

I have been debating how to write this review for nearly a month now. I’m finding it difficult to discuss this book without giving away how the previous book ended, and you really should read the first two books in the Drew Farthering series before you read this one. Besides being wonderful Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries, the first two books provide humorous history between the main characters. You can read my reviews for the two books by clicking on the links: Rules of Murder and Death by the Book.

The main character Drew Farthering has successfully solved murderous mayhem in the recent past and has developed a reputation for solving crimes that stump the authorities. In Murder at the Mikado, Drew resists getting involved for personal reasons but finds himself investigating anyway. The truth proves elusive as he questions actors and actresses who have a flair for the dramatic and make a living pretending to be someone they are not.

I don’t want to write any more for fear I will ruin the second book for you, but I did enjoy reading this novel and would highly recommend it.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts and opinions are my own.