I have read this novel three times now and still have no idea how to express how much I enjoyed reading it. The first time I read The Broken Road in 2012, I was simply reading for pleasure and out of curiosity because I know the author. After I started writing book reviews, I decided to read it again and write a review, but the draft sat there for months, maybe even a year. I decided to read it again in June of this year and began another review as soon as I finished reading, but obviously I never finished that review either.
The Broken Road is Amanda Johnston’s debut novel, but she has been writing stories for many years, so this beautiful work of historical fiction reads like the work of a seasoned author. I am impressed with the amount of research she did to make sure she accurately portrayed life in Colorado in 1882. Johnston included the correct kitchen items, tools, etc., but she also captured the language and manners of the area and time period. Her fictional town and boarding school are the perfect backdrop for the story that unfolds.
The information from the back cover offers a good summary, so I won’t attempt to write my own.
In 1882 Colorado, Lydia Ghering has successfully kept her boarding school open during the year following her husband’s unexpected death. Self-reliant and determined, Lydia takes pride in her ability to carry on, but her resilience comes at a price. Ethan McKinley is journeying across the country to fulfill his life’s ambition of captaining a ship when he finds himself stranded in the Colorado foothills after a train wreck. His arrival at Lydia’s doorstep looking for temporary work kindles a friendship that causes him to question the destiny he has always pursued. As their friendship deepens, Lydia must confront secrets from her past, while Ethan must decide his future. Both must seek their answers from the one who offers all they need.
I don’t want to share any more of Lydia’s or Ethan’s stories because I want you to read it yourself. The Broken Road is a moving novel of love and loss, devastation and determination. While reading this inspirational romance, I was moved to tears, but I also laughed several times. The dialogue between the characters is fascinating and made me smile frequently. The characters are well-developed and relatable because their struggles are similar to ours today. I know I haven’t done justice to Johnston’s grand tale, but believe me when I say it’s a wonderful story that will move you beyond words.
I must warn you that The Broken Road ends in suspense. Johnston has written a sequel to her epic debut novel, but it has not been published yet. I am eagerly waiting to read more of Lydia’s and Ethan’s stories.
Have you ever not wanted to finish a book because you were enjoying it so much? I seriously put off reading the last 25 pages of this emotionally-charged, romantic comedy because I did not want the story to end. Fortunately, this novel is part of a series, so the characters will continue to make appearances in the remaining books.
Like Never Before is Melissa Tagg’s second installment in her Walker Family series, which is set in a small town in her native Iowa. Over two years ago, I read Tagg’s first Walker Family novel From the Start and the novella Three Little Words that serves as a prequel to the series. The only reason I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series is my local public library has none of Tagg’s books. (I read way too many books to buy them—75 already this year!) I brought this to the attention of a librarian and requested that they order some of Tagg’s books. The librarian wrote it down and offered to look into it, but she then suggested that I try an interlibrary loan, which I had never done before. (Interestingly enough, an interlibrary loan is mentioned in the book.) About a week later, I received an email that this book was ready for me to check out. I was in the middle of another book, but I started reading Like Never Before as soon as I finished Persuasion. I was somewhat disappointed with the ending of Jane Austen’s classic because I wanted more details, more emotions. After the long, drawn out narrative leading up to the climax, the ending seemed rushed. I felt Tagg provided just the right amount of details and emotional responses in closing Logan Walker’s story.
If you haven’t read any of Melissa Tagg’s novels, I highly recommend them. They are delightful, funny, and inspiring.
If you are a reader who judges books by their covers, you will be in for a surprise when you read Honor Redeemed, which is actually a historical romance set in the 1850’s despite the cover model’s modern appearance. This second book in Christine Johnson’s Keys of Promise series takes a unique look at the army, the medical profession, and honor with Key West as the beautiful locale.
Prosperity Jones seeks to reunite with her betrothed after her parents’ death, but unexpected and unexplainable circumstances leave her penniless and heartbroken. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of strangers, Prosperity is able to find employment and a temporary home.
Lieutenant David Latham finds himself in a difficult situation that he believes he deserves due to his regrettable actions. Once he realizes the truth, he acts as a true gentleman and refuses to disparage another even though his heart and his honor are at stake.
Honor Redeemed is one of those rare books that completely immerses you in another time and place, makes you understand the prevalent thinking of the era, and causes you to feel the angst of the characters as they struggle to make things right. I fell in love with these characters and understood their actions even as I felt frustration with them for being so honorable.
Christine Johnson’s latest novel takes you to an exotic island and gives you a glimpse into another time and another place. The story was as lovely as the setting.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts and opinions are my own.
About a year ago, I had the pleasure of reading the lovely novella Appalachian Serenadeby Sarah Loudin Thomas in anticipation of reading her first full-length novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, later that summer. I am pleased to announce that her next book has been released and is just as delightful as her first two stories. Until the Harvest jumps ahead a generation, but there are appearances from many of the characters of the previous book. I always enjoy reading about familiar characters and seeing how their story ends or continues. I was disappointed at the early demise of a main character from the previous book, but his death served as the catalyst for much of the conflict in Until the Harvest.
Henry Phillips is a college student who makes several foolish decisions following the death of his father. He gets tangled up in a couple of serious situations before seeking wise council.
Margaret enjoys working for Henry’s grandmother, but Margaret’s mother thinks the position is too menial for her daughter. Margaret finds a way to leave home and take her little sister with her, away from her selfish, inattentive parents.
Initially, Henry and Margaret dislike each other, but they have two common interests who continually draw them together: Margaret’s sister Mayfair and Henry’s grandmother Emily. Over time, Henry and Margaret find they have much more in common than family and friends.
This story is set in the mid-1970’s, but some aspects seem further back in history due to the slower pace in Appalachia. I enjoyed reading about life on the farm and women living independently. I learned a few things while enjoying a good read.
I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
$10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget by Peter and Heather Larson and David and Claudia Arp is a great resource for couples who would like to add a little fun to their marriage. The ideas range from at-home dates to adventure dates to romantic dates, and all are possible for $10 or less. The authors even include a section suggesting options for cheap child care to keep all excuses at bay.
Each date (chapter) includes a brief intro from one of the authors followed by the idea of the date, so within a minute you can determine if that idea will work for you and your spouse or not. Then the authors provide the details to tackle before the date and suggestions for carrying out the date. A few questions are included to get you and your spouse talking after the date to gauge how it went, learn about your spouse’s interests, and dream together. Each date (chapter) ends with a takeaway to tie everything together and help you remember what is important.
This book is fairly short–each date (chapter) takes about three pages–but it’s not meant to be read straight through like a novel. $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget is intended for browsing and choosing dates that will encourage and inspire you and your spouse to have fun together and grow closer through dates that keep your marriage strong.
This book would be a great anniversary gift for any couple because the date ideas are so versatile and can be individualized by each couple. The ideas would work for newlyweds, couples with young children, and empty nesters. Many of the dates would be appropriate for engaged couples who have a tight budget but want to have meaningful dates and learn more about each other.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts and opinions are my own.
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?
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).
This was my first time to read a book by Mary Connealy, but it won’t be my last. Stuck Together is actually the third volume in her Trouble in Texas series, so I’ll have to go back and read the first two books–Swept Away and Fired Up. I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review, so I didn’t take the time to read the previous two books, but they tell the stories of some of the central characters. I didn’t feel like I was missing out by not reading the other books first, but I would now like to get to know the other characters better.
Tina Cahill is a sassy, young woman in a small town in west Texas in the late 1860’s, who has learned to take care of herself because she feels unwanted and unloved. She makes the sidewalk in front of the saloon her mission field and attempts to dissuade men from entering, which sometimes causes more harm than good. She is also the only single woman in town.
Vince Yates is a lawyer and the unpaid sheriff of Broken Wheel. He shares a close friendship with three other men in town. The four of them fought for the union in the Civil War and were held as prisoners-of-war at Andersonville. Through a series of events, Tina and Vince end up “stuck together”, much to their chagrin, on more than one occasion.
Stuck Together is a great summer read–light, funny, and fairly short. The characters were interesting and genuine. The setting was what you’d expect from a western, and the author describes the area vividly. The gospel is woven through a few conversations but doesn’t come across as preachy.
I learned something new in reading this romantic comedy about cowboys. I had never heard of Andersonville before, nor did I know that the South imprisoned POWs during the Civil War. After finishing the book, I did a little research and found the author’s depiction to be quite accurate. I usually enjoy learning something about our nation’s history, but there was nothing enjoyable about Andersonville. Men were lucky if they survived, or maybe the ones who died quickly were the lucky ones. The photos online of emaciated men reminded me of the photos of men in concentration camps during WWII. The book doesn’t go into much detail on this, so you can enjoy the light-hearted romance.
This little book packs 52 ideas for meaningful, fun-filled, creative date nights, which should allow a couple to relax, have fun together, and connect. The goal is to develop greater intimacy within your marriage in all areas–emotional, spiritual, physical, aesthetic, social, sexual, affectional, and intellectual. Many marriages revolve around work and kids. When the couple is left when an empty nest and then retirement, they have nothing in common. These dates encourage couples to build a strong, committed relationship in which they are best friends. There are 52 date ideas, so you could use one each week, and many could be completed at home after the kids are in bed. There are questions provided for each date to provide meaningful and thought-provoking conversation.
I have read through the 52 dates and plan to try most of them with my husband. We have just recently begun having a regular date night while our older two children are at a church function and his parents watch our nearly-nine month old twins. If we can make regular date nights work with four children and a limited budget (due in part to the four children!), I’m sure any couple can find a way to have at least one date night a month.
I received this book free from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.