Review: Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack

Another Proper Romance to sink your teeth into. I can’t get enough of these. This is the first in the Mayfield Family series. What a way to start. The moment I opened the book, I couldn’t put it down. I was instantly sucked in.

Elliot doesn’t like the direction his family is headed. So he comes up with the idea of a marriage campaign to bring them out of the scandals and to erase the many mistakes they are making. He remembers making the worst mistake of his life and he doesn’t want his nieces and nephews to suffer as he did. He wants them happy and respectable. He’s he’s going to start with his eldest nephew, Peter.

Peter is widower and a father of two young girls. He’s looking for a governess, not a wife. No matter what his uncle is hoping for, her is just happy being a father and a dog breeder. Yes, this book has puppies. YAY! When all his options are taken away, he is stuck with a young lady who, frankly, is too pretty to be a governess. But the crazy thing is, she’s perfect. Julia is really good with his daughters, and they love her and are learning from her. Plus she has the added bonus of being good with dogs, which definitely comes in handy on more than one occasion.

Now everything may look perfect, but when Julia’s mom, Amelia, discovers that her daughter is now a governess in the household of someone related to the man who broke her heart, she is determined to get her away. She doesn’t want what happened to her to happen to Julia.

Not that I condone Amelia’s actions, but I understand why she responded the way she did. She has lived a happy life, even after her husband died, but she’ll never forget the heartache Elliot caused. I feel as their story was a nice little bonus. Two stories for the price of one. It was sweet and sad, but I loved it.

But my favorite was watching Peter slowly come to the realization that he doesn’t need to be alone. He may have loved his wife very much, but that doesn’t mean her can’t find love again. Especially one that fits in his household. He was so adamant that he would be content alone, it was fun to see him fall in love.

Now, I don’t know when we’ll get more of the Mayfield Family, but I hope it’s soon. I love series based on big families. And since the marriage campaign is based on love, I know it’s gonna be sweet.

~Melpomene

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Review: Home on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

This book is part of the Matchmakers series (à la Plain grandparents who try to fix up their loved ones with the perfect matches) – yet it’s about a married couple. And I loved that. Even married couples need a little nudge together once in a while. Mary Anne and Jethro certainly did. After ignoring some big issues for long enough, Jethro spent most of his time fishing, and Mary Anne spent most of her time trying not to be a disappointment. When Mary Anne finally feels so low she relegates herself to camping out in the back field, Anna and Felty Helmuth do their thing.

I think this world needs more stories about struggling marriages — where the witnesses to the wedding step up and support strengthening the marriage. Though it was heartbreaking to see Mary Anne suffer, and disgusting how some of Jethro’s relatives treated her, I could see the hand of God every step of the way. When Jethro finally took a quiet moment to think things through, his love for Mary Anne shone brighter than anything else. Mary Anne had a few lessons to learn too – as did both extended families. Sometimes a little fresh air will do that!

-calliope

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Review: A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

Through loving grandmother Anna Helmuth, author Jennifer Beckstrand successfully uses her matchmaking skills yet again – but this time it’s a little more difficult than usual.

Elsie comes to stay with her grandparents after taking a local teaching job. I loved seeing Elsie in action -she’s a firm, authoritative, fun, and loving teacher who wants the best for her students. I have to say, Elsie’s unconventional ways of dealing with troublemakers had me chuckling. When Wally — the boy with a missing leg — misdirects his anger and bullies his classmates, Elsie knows just what to do. And there starts a love/hate relationship between Elsie and Wally’s older brother Sam.

Sam and Elsie are one of my favorite Beckstrand duos. They’re spitfire. They’re full of love. They’re loyal. They’re stubborn. And I appreciate Beckstrand’s ability to make them so likeable despite their flaws.

I had fun watching Elsie’s class’ escapades, and Sam’s family dinners. And even though I’ll read the next Huckleberry Hill book no matter what, I’d totally love to see a cameo appearance by these two characters!

-calliope

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Review: An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber

I like a hokey, predictable romance once in a while, but this one left a lot to be desired. I liked the Lesley-Chase meet cute. I didn’t like the pretense and forced feel of the romance that followed. I liked Chase – until he got just too smarmy for me. And I liked Lesley until I realized that I wasn’t going to see any depth later in the book, because character development stalled at 30-40%. What truly disappointed me was the chauvinism in this book. I have very traditional values, but that doesn’t mean I expect women to be viewed as objects, as I felt the women in this book were portrayed.

If you can overlook those things – and you’re in the mood for a clean, sweet romance, this might be for you.

-calliope

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Review: In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury

Here’s some Christian fiction that really made me think. Quinn is a public school principal, and he is questioned over and over when he decides to host a voluntary Bible study after school in order to provide some structure and direction to his students. His reputation is at stake, his relationships are threatened, and his job is on the line.

I liked the law aspect that made this book a kind of cross between John Grisham and women’s Christian fiction. I also liked the juxtaposition of the different types of dads and their relationships with their children. Kingsbury does a wonderful job writing families, though I wasn’t as impressed with the romance plot line. Quinn was a true protagonist, meeting with conflict throughout the story and accumulating secondary characters along the way who either helped or hindered his cause. Reading about Quinn’s struggles made me question my motivations, my willingness to take risks, and whether my walk in faith is even close to enough of a good example for others on this journey.

-calliope

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Review: Bless Her Heart by Sally Kilpatrick 

Some people might rate this book 4 or 5 stars for the authentic southern characters that Kilpatrick introduces with such aplomb you feel like you’ve known these people forever. Some readers might fall in love with “fun Posey” who uses the 7 deadly sins as a guide to make up for 10 sucky years married to a controlling, manipulative jerkhead.  And some readers might call this book a winner for its excellent writing – and easy dialogue among a hippie mom, sisters named after natural elements, and a best friend who literally saves more than one day. 

I’m giving Bless Her Heart a bunch of fat stars because it made me so sufficiently mad at Chad Love, so ticked off that he thought it was okay to treat any human being the way that he treated his wife, and so angered with a patriarchy that thinks “Wives, submit to your husbands” isn’t part of a speech that says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … Love your wives like your own bodies,” that now I am taking steps to help some people who are in situations like Posey’s. Sally Kilpatrick, any gratitude that comes my way from women who are tired of being controlled and interrogated and mentally beaten down – that gratitude is due to you. 

-calliope

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Review: The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller

Leanna is one of my favorite protagonists! She doesn’t apologize for being different (and that’s something, when you’re not a naturally domestic kind of gal, but you *are* Amish), and she doesn’t resent being different, either. Leanna uses her talents to work in a mechanical shop, and she loves it! But author Fuller doesn’t stop there; she fleshes out the full character of Leanna – a loving sibling, a fun caregiver, and a fiercely loyal friend. 

And then we meet Roman. He’s Amish too, sort of. And he is also a mechanic, sort of. He’s on a journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and reconciliation with his brother. 

Fuller does a great job illustrating modern Amish life, touching on family dynamics, spirituality, unconventional career choices, education, and romance. I appreciate that Fuller wrote a strong, feminine character that performed a “man’s” job,  without making Leanna into a stereotype or a mascot for feminist politics. And I am pleased that there was a happily ever after for more than one couple. 

-calliope 

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