Tag Archive | marriage

The Broken Road by Amanda Johnston

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.  

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Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

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. 

Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson

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.  

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure by Tony & Lauren Dungy

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The Uncommon Marriage Adventure: A Daily Journey to Draw You Closer to God and Each Other is an insightful devotional for couples. The book is designed to be read daily for 16 weeks with discussion between husband and wife. Tony and Lauren Dungy developed their “Core Principles for an Uncommon Marriage” in their book Uncommon Marriage. They expound upon those principles in this devotional book. There are eight core principles, and they spend two weeks on each one, offering advice, biblical perspective, specific practices, and “adventure applications”. Every seventh devotional offers the couple a chance to reflect more deeply on one of the previous day’s practices. More discussion questions and ideas for activities as well as focussed prayer prompts provide the couple with everything they need to grow closer to God and each other.

Each daily reading is just two to three pages, which makes this very practical for busy couples. The devotionals are all based on scripture and biblical advice. The Dungys do not hold up their marriage as the only example to follow. Instead, they point to scripture and true stories of other individuals and couples who lived out the practice being discussed.

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
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$10 Great Dates by Larson & Arp

$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.

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

The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

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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.

Little Book of Great Dates by Dr. Greg & Erin Smalley

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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.