Monday, October 30, 2017

Shelley Shepard Gray: Love Held Captive

By Kelly Bridgewater

After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.
Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I am not a fan of Civil War stories, expect Tamera Alexander's writing. This is the second book in this series that I have read. From the beginning, I was confused on who the women were. There were two sets of women and men, and I had a hard time telling them apart until about a third of the way in. My mind thought they were the same people. Until my mind wrapped around that they were two sets, the story was a little confusing. As for the plot, it takes place in one week. In that one week, both Ethan Kelly and Devin Monroe decide they love these tarnished women and want to marry them. The whole story centers around learning the back story of all four characters and how they would work past their past. I wanted the final showdown to be something big, but it took until about 95 percent into the book to get there, and it was over in one shot. Disappointing. While I had issues with the plot, Gray does do a great job at her research. The story did fit the time period and felt like a Civil War era novel. I'm truly gratetful when an author does that for a book. Makes me admire them a little more. Overall, with a confusing beginning and a lackluster plot, I don't think I would have picked this book up on my own.

I received a complimentary copy of Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray from Zondervan Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 27, 2017

DADDY: 2 Years

By Kelly Bridgewater

In four days I will be celebrating two years since my Daddy died.

Two years.


There are days I still can't believe it has been two years already.

The one thing that bothers me is that the pain has lessen A LOT, which is a good thing. I don't think of my Daddy all the time. A certain song comes on or a movie that I enjoyed with my father will bring me to tears. Talking about my Daddy with my brother and sister will also do it.

But for the most part, I have learned to live without him.

Which I really HATE to say.

Here is a blog post that I wrote a year and a half ago that showed my hurt. Now, not so much. Father's Day was hard, but I have learned to accept that I will see my father again in heaven. I just have to wait until it's my turn to go.

A trusted and Godly friend suggested writing a letter to my father with all the pain I had and allowed myself to express my hurt to him. I wrote in my journal and have written a number more of them. Usually when I feel like I need to talk to my Daddy, I write him a letter in my journal. Whether or not, he actually sees them or knows I wrote them I don't know, but it brings me some type of peace as I record my thoughts and feelings to my Daddy. It is also the journal where I record a number of my prayers and Bible study notes and letters to my children that hopefully one day they will treasure.

I just wanted to spend today, treasuring and honoring the memory of my late Daddy and allowing you to see how much the ache and pain is and how far I have come.

If you have lost someone near and dear to you too, I'm sorry. If not, I hope you don't have to endure this pain for a long time.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Michelle Griep: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

By Kelly Bridgewater

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancĂ©, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I, personally, have never read anything by Michelle Griep. I do have a number of her books downloaded to my Kindle, but I haven't had the time to read them yet. The book 12 Days at Bleakly Manor was my first introduction to Griep's writing. With the setting being in London, I was interested in the plot right away. The story is a historical romance, so I was pretty sure the historical setting with the characters would be interesting.

Griep's writing is top notch. I had no problem picturing Bleakly Manor at all. Griep sprinkled in just enough description to capture my attention as Clara and Ben moved through the house. I could feel the cold outside and imagine that I was belonged in the house during the twelve days of Christmas. She did a great job at inviting me into the Manor just like she did her characters.

The characters were interesting too. I loved the strange cast of characters that she used to tell her story. All of them were different, but each one of them had their own vices that made them stand out. I loved seeing Clara and Ben interact after so much trials and misunderstanding which had affected their relationship. They were a nice couple to watch as they loved blossomed after their misunderstanding came to light.

As for the plot, it did remind me of the 1980's movie Clue, but with a British Christmas twist. I enjoy the mystery. The entire time I couldn't wait to meet who the master of the house was. Griep did a great job at intertwining the mystery into the Christmas story. When I started the novel, I was drawn in right away to the plot. I had a hard time believing it was a novella. Most novellas feel short and not fully developed, but I didn't feel this way with Griep's novel. It felt complete, and I really can't wait for the next addition. Next fall seems too far away.

Overall, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor captured my interest because of the mystery, London setting, and the Christmas time of the year. I highly recommend this book to fans of Charles Dickens and fans of  a good mystery. I can't wait to see what the next book entails.

I received a complimentary copy of 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep from Barbour Books, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tamera Alexander: Christmas at Carnton

By Kelly Bridgewater

Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas - and of sacrificial love.
Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women's Relief Society auction and applies for a position - only to discover it's been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity - and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?
Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women's Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of "crinolines" isn't his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies - one, in particular - is far more than he bargained for.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I'm not a big fan of Civil War stories. I have a hard time enjoying those type of stories, but . . . Tamera Alexander does such a great job at recreating this time period and bringing me into the story that I have a hard time not enjoying her writings. I have enjoyed her Belle Meade and her Belmont Mansion series, so I'm excited that she has decided to do another series in Tennessee around another popular plantation. With any historical novel, I want to be transported to that time period without feeling like I'm reading a history book and have characters that have something unique.

Alexander's writing is wonderful. Like I mentioned earlier, she does a wonderful job at bringing the home of Carnton come to life and the time period. She pays attention to the tiniest details like remembering what the women would be doing to raise money or knit items that could be used for the soldiers who are still in action during the Civil War. Alexander is sympathic toward the cause and shows the hurts and cares of the individual women who are left at home, trying to survive while worrying about their men who are off fighting.

The plot is unique because it shows the affect that the Civil War had on the women who were home still trying to hold it together. I enjoy how in each of the novels that I have read by Alexander she shows that the slaves were humans too with feelings and family. They were just as important as the whites and still were the backbone of our country alongside the whites. The story moves along at a rapid pace and kept my attention.

The romance was a little hasty in my taste. Aletta and Jake have only known each other for a month, and they fall in love so quickly. I know that this was a novella to wet the appetite of the reader. In her much longer novels, Alexander does take more time to develop her romances, so I let it slide for this novella.

Overall, I enjoyed the pre-novella for her Carnton series. I enjoyed the fast pace of the setting and the wonderful characters. I highly recommend this story, and eagerly await the series to begin next year.

I received a complimentary copy of Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Daddy

By Kelly Bridgewater

Tomorrow would have been my Daddy's 69th Birthday. Even though he is now celebrating his birthday and every other holiday for that matter in heaven with Jesus, I still want to remember him.

While this next week will be pretty hard on me, I still want to focus on my Daddy who inspired and invested in my life growing up.

Not a long post today. Just something to remember him by.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!

I miss you terribly and hope that heaven has carrot cake with cream cheese icing and butter pecan ice cream just to make your day more interesting.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Irene Hannon: Dangerous Illusions

By Kelly Bridgewater

Trish Bailey is on overload trying to deal with a demanding job, an ailing mother, and a healing heart. When a series of unsettling memory lapses leads to a tragic death--and puts Trish under police scrutiny--her world is once again thrown into turmoil.

Detective Colin Flynn isn't certain what to think of the facts he uncovers during his investigation. Did Trish simply make a terrible mistake or is there more to the case than meets the eye? As he searches for answers, disturbing information begins to emerge--and if the forces at work are as evil as he suspects, the situation isn't just dangerous . . . it's deadly.

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon captures readers with a mind-bending story that will have them doubling back to retrace their steps--and figure out what they missed!

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon is the introduction to her new Code of Honor series. In her last series, Men of Valor, I believed there was too much romance that outdid the suspense. But in this introduction, she has brought the suspense back to the forefront of her novels, which makes me really proud. With a romantic suspense, I know that I'm getting a little bit of romance, a lot of suspense, and reoccurring characters. With Dangerous Illusions, I received all that.

With her writing, Hannon does a great job at inviting me into the story. I never once had to guess where I was at or which character was doing the talking. I had that pretty figured out. She shows the internal struggle from Trish's perspective and the bad guy.

The romance was pretty laid back. I enjoyed watching Trish and Colin wiggle their way through the romance. Where they going to like each other or were they not? It wasn't too pushy, but Colin does protect Trish when she needs him the most.

The suspense. The number reason why I pick up Hannon's novels in the first place. It was gripping and kept my attention on what was happening in the story. It was different and predictable. I had a suspicion on what was going on, and I was a little off. The problem that I did have with the suspense element was that Hannon played her cards for the readers about half way into the novel. If you didn't know who the bad guy was by then, Hannon showed you. The rest of  the novel was watching Trish and Colin figure out their budding romance and figure out how to bring enough of a warrant to find evidence to arrest the person. I would have liked to have watch the bad guy's perspective for as long as possible, but then figure out near the end if I was right or wrong.

Overall, Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon is a thrill-ride of a suspense novel with a hint of romance during an unique plot idea carried by refreshing characters. Fans of Colleen Coble will devour this book and add it to their keeper shelves.

I received a complimentary copy of Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars