Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Patchwork Bride by Jillian Hart - Review of the second book in the Button & Bobbins series

Patchwork Bride
Second book in the Button & Bobbins series
by Jillian Hart

This is the story of Meredith Worthington from Angel Falls, Montana. She has just returned from an East Coast finishing school that her Mother insisted she attend. Meredith does not want to live the kind of life her Mother wants for her or her four sisters. She is about to graduate and plans on taking the teaching test so she can become a teacher, but her Mother is insistent that none of her daughters will work as a commoner, it would embarrass her to have her daughter as an employee and not a wife. Meredith takes the teaching test, passes and is presented with a contract for a teaching job. Now comes the hard part, convincing her Mother that it's the right thing for her to do and she wants to do it with her blessing, she tells her Mother that she is signing the contract with or without her approval.

Meredith is finally allowed to try to drive a wagon but gets stuck when she and Minnie, her youngest sister, are on their way home. Two cowboys come along and offer to help them. She isn't sure whether she should trust them or not, but one seems to be rather nice and she really doesn't have any choice, so with their help she is soon on the road again. The two men travel along beside her since they are going the same direction. She and Shane visit along the way and she's soon impressed and finds herself liking him. When she pulls into their driveway Shane's partner looks at the directions and discovers that they are headed to the same house. Shane and Braden are the new horse trainers and Meredith's Mother doesn't want her to be friendly, after all, he's their hired help. Her opinion will soon change, but by that time Meredith's will also change and she refuses to talk to him, much to her Mother's angst.

Just who is Shane really and does Meredith win her Mother over so she can become a teacher?

I would recommend this book, I enjoyed it as much as I did the first one, which I read some time ago. So, curl up and enjoy.
 A Home For Christmas
2 short stories (e-book)
A Christmas Angel by Robin Lee Hatcher
The Sweetest Gift by Mary Connealy

Mary tells the story of Adelaide agreeing to marry her best friends widowed husband, Graham, to take care of  their toddler. She's willing to do this for Greta even though she feels Graham killed Greta. Adelaide is twenty-eight, never married and no prospects in sight. She's a librarian and loves to play the piano. Adelaide has been saving her earnings and has acquired some very valuable, original, sheet music which she hides in her things when she leaves with Graham as his bride. Graham arrives on the train, they go to lunch with her parents, to the preachers house to get married and leave on the afternoon train to return to Graham's, her, home. 

Graham wants a wife in name only, as he believes he killed his first wife, Greta, and doesn't want to kill another wife. When they arrive back home, Adelaide gets to meet Bridget, Graham and Greta's daughter, Graham's two sisters and his brother. They are not friendly at all, they are businesslike, to the point and talk in short very clipped words. In other words they speak only what needs to be said and that's it.

You will have to read the book to see what happens from here. Mary did a good job of making this a short story as you feel there is a lot that could be added if she'd wanted to, but it is great as it is done.

Robin tells the story of Jennifer and Mick, who have known each other since Jennifer was a young girl and Mick worked in her Father's store. Mick married her step-sister in a hurry and left Chicago to live in Idaho on a farm. Jennifer's family was told that Christina had died then their daughter Annie had a accident and couldn't walk. When Mick ran out of money and options to care for Annie he wrote to Christina's family asking for help. Jennifer remembers the handsome Mick from when she was 13 and wonders what he's like now. Being a nurse, Jennifer offers to go care for Annie. Her Father and Step-Mother reluctantly agree to let her go as they consider trying to make Mick send Annie to them. The problem is, they don't know the whole truth about anything. Guess you'll have to read about everything that they don't know.

Robin really kept my interest and wanting more, it was hard to stop when I'd have to get out of the car or get called back to the doctor's office. 
I would highly recommend this book with the two short stories by two excellent authors.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Wounded Heart
by Adina Senft

Amelia Beiler is left to raise her two young sons, after her husband is killed in a buggy accident less than a year ago, along with taking over running her husband's business of building pallets. She has the help of her parents with the boys, has two close friends that she spends Tuesday afternoons with quilting, and life is moving along even though she continues to miss Enoch.

When Aaron King, one of her employees, suddenly leaves without telling her, she finds herself finishing up the order that is supposed to be shipped out that day. When the transport driver arrives he learns that Enoch was killed and Amelia is running the business. He is looking for something to do after he retires and makes her an offer to buy her business. After Amelia mentions this to her parents at supper that night, the rumor is soon all over the Amish community that she is selling out to an Englischer. 

Eli Fischer, a cousin of Aaron's, comes to town so he can represent his family at three weddings. After meeting Amelia, he feels a spark but tries to ignore it. Eli also hears that she is selling out and makes her an offer. Soon there are several Amish interested in her business, some just because they don't want her to sell to an Englischer. The Bishop even gets involved by letting Amelia know his feelings about who she should sell to.

During this time Amelia is experiencing strange physical symptoms which seem to be getting worse. She gets a diagnosis of MS, the first doctor recommends medication and she will never get better and the pills will cost over $1000 a month. She goes for a second opinion and is told again that she has MS but is told about a treatment in Mexico at a total cost, travel, room & board, treatment, etc., of about $120,000. At first the Bishop and the elders say they will approve of the medication treatment but would have to think about whether she can have the treatment in Mexico and all it involves, if that is what she chooses. Then she loses a filling and goes to the dentist, arriving at the office she experiences her leg giving out on her for the first time and falls on her way into the office. The dentist helps her in more ways than one. How you say? You'll have to read the book.

Does Amelia sell her business and if so, who does she sell to? Does Amelia have MS and if so which treatment does she seek? Where does this dentist fit into the story?

I would recommend this book as a must read, it shows a true friendship between 3 women, and how they will listen to each other sometimes before family even but still keep some things to theirselves.

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Amish Wedding
3 Amish Novellas
A Perfect Secret by Kelly Long
A Perfect Match by Kathleen Fuller
A Perfect Plan by Beth Wiseman

I really enjoyed this book and could hardly put it down. It amazes me how three authors can write stories that go together, does one write first, then the second, then the last one or do they get together and plot the characters and certain 'events' that take place? These stories are about three friends and take place during the same time span.

"A Perfect Secret" is a story about Rose and Luke, lifelong friends and neighbors who are engaged. This is very intriguing since they have both joined the church and Rose thinks she knows Luke better than anyone until she goes for a walk in the woods and sees an Englischer in the dark. At first she's frightened, but when she hears him talk she knows it's Luke, but why is he dressed like an Englischer and why did he steal her blueberry pies she had sitting on the porch railing to cool, she knows he stole them because he has blueberry stains on his shirt. Is he the Robin in the Hood that has been stealing from everyone and what is he up to? Luke knows Rose when he sees her but doesn't realize that she recognizes him. When he kisses her, Rose wishes Luke would kiss her that way. Will they make it to the alter or will this 'strangeness' come between them.

"A Perfect Match" is the story of Naomi, older than most single Amish women, they are both afraid of love. Naomi tries to play matchmaker for her friend Margaret, as she did for her sister Priscilla. This matchmaking effort doesn't work as well as it did for Priscilla and her now fiance Chester. Margaret gets all tongue tied and klutzy around men, so when Naomi plans a dinner for Margaret and Zeke, Zeke thinks he's invited to have dinner with Naomi so is really disappointed but tries to make the best of the situation. Margaret gets so flustered that she runs out on the dinner without telling Zeke good by. Does Margaret learn to feel comfortable around Zeke, does Zeke fall in love with Margaret and what about Naomi, what happens to the matchmaker?

"A Perfect Plan" ties it all together as it tells about everything that can go wrong and does go wrong while one couple is planning their wedding and their future together. Priscilla and Chester begin to second guess themselves about getting married because nothing is going along with the 'perfect plan' that Priscilla has. Chester has to deal with several mishaps to do with the house he's building for them, his brother breaks his wrist while working on the roof, Chester gets accused of stealing $200 from work, and loses his job. Priscilla starts getting hiccups frequently and soon connects them as a hint that something 'bad' is going to happen, all of Chester's troubles plus some of her own. Her little sister cuts up her wedding dress that she's just about finished stitching, she needed clothes, a hammock and blanket for her doll. Rose, one of her attendants is making beet jelly and forgets to use gloves so she has purple hands, she also comes in contact with poison ivy and she's highly allergic to it so she can't stop scratching. The biggest thing is that Chester can't find the marriage license two days before their wedding and is afraid to tell Priscella. Priscilla knows something is wrong but he refuses to tell her what so they start looking at everything that has happened and wonder, are they really supposed to get married. Lot's of things can happen in two days, guess you'll have to read it to find out if they make up, if they find the marriage license and if they get married.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Dream Unfolding by Karen Baney - Review of the first book in the Prescott Pioneers series

A Dream Unfolding
by Karen Baney
Hannah and Drew Anderson were upstanding citizens in Cincinnati, Ohio. Drew was a doctor and had all the patients he needed to make a good living for him and his wife and hopefully children the would have. Hannah loved being Drew's wife and could hardly wait to become a Mother. Until that time she kept busy helping her husband out in his practice whenever needed, even if it meant ruining meals and having to start over at the drop of a hat. They had many good friends and thought they would always be at home in Cincinnati. That is until Drew's brother caused problems, he and his brother had not spoken in a long time but when his brother and two other men robbed the bank in town and shot the banker things drastically changed. Drew takes care of the banker but when the town finds out that his brother was one of the robbers, they turn against Drew and Hannah. Their closest friends, who are supposed to join them for dinner after church, won't sit by them, they notice everyone in the congregation is sitting on the opposite side of the church, they are all alone.

Drew and Hannah each have their own thoughts about possibly moving since Drew no longer has any patients and knows he can't make a living staying there. The problem is they each have different ideas of where to go, but Drew goes ahead and starts making plans to go west to Arizona without talking about it until things are set in motion. Hannah is upset and grudgingly goes along with his plans, but with hard feelings, making for a long trip. Drew has never driven a wagon or shot a gun, both of which you need to know how to do to travel in a wagon train, Hannah has, but Drew won't let her help. Needless to say, things are pretty quiet between them on that trip west. During the long trip they can't seem to talk about their problems even though they still love each other

Will Coulter is happy with his life until his Father dies and his older brother basically kicks him off of their family property. The property is left to Reuben, they have to divide the cattle and horses along with some cash, and his sister Julia is left in Reuben's care. Reuben never cared about the ranch and Will knows he will just run it in the ground. Will worries about Julia because Reuben only cares about himself, not his wife, kids or Julia. He's afraid Reuben will 'sell' Julia into a marriage to a man not worthy of her, but there's nothing he can do. Will hires his dad's ranch foreman Ben, along with some ranch hands to travel to Arizona, but not nearly as many as he feels he needs. He picked Arizona after finding some papers in his Father's things after he died.

There are two storylines to follow and you wonder how they go together besides heading to the same state. They are headed for different towns and Karen did a good job of keeping you interested to where you don't want to put the 'Kindle' down. The wagon train and Will and his crew and stock all reach Arizona, but you will have to read the book to find out how it all 'pans' out. 

I definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading the other three in the series, A Heart Renewed and A Heart Restored are already out, and A Hope Revealed is coming soon.

The Seeker by Ann H Gabhart - Review

The Seeker
Shaker Series
by Ann H. Gabhart

Charlotte Vance had everything, she was a Southern Belle, her Father was Senator Charles Vance of Kentucky. She had lost her Mother at a young age but as she grew up she became the matriarch of Grayson, she would one day inherit Grayson, land owned by her Mother's family for many years, she was engaged to Edwin and preparing for her wedding, and loved by her Father and their slaves as she treated them kindly. Little did she know that her world would soon be falling apart. Edwin is thinking about going to live with the Shakers on Harmony Hill, a short distance from Grayson, instead of getting married in a couple of months as planned and joining the two family plantations, and her Father tells her to plan a grand gala for his return home. He not only wants guests from both North and South states when a war is about to break out over slavery, but when he comes home he introduces her to his WIFE, young enough to be her sister! She's taken aback by this as she realizes she'll no longer have the say about what goes on at Grayson. They also have in their company an artist, Adam, who was reluctantly talked into doing a protrait of the new Mrs. Vance, Selena. Adam is an artist that doesn't like doing portraits but was coerced by his sister to do this one, he does drawings for Harper's Weekly. Adam is attracted to Charlotte at first sight, but is a confirmed bachelor who soon gets in the habit is "surprising" her, he seems to appear when least expected.

The day after the party, Selena has Charlotte's Mother's portrait removed from the wall, Charlotte can tell how things are going to be with that one action. Things go quickly downhill for her, Edwin tells her he is going to spend a month at Harmony Hill with the Shakers and if things go as he thinks they will, he'll be signing over his family property to the Shakers, as Believers can't own anything personally. Selena talks about selling their slaves and getting younger ones, so Charlotte asks her Father to sign ownership of Mellie, her personal slave and best friend since childhood, so she can't be sold. Following through on her Mother's promise to her, he does so without consulting Selena. Adam is still working on the portrait of Selena, although he's having problems because he doesn't like her, and "sneaking" up on Charlotte, not on purpose it just seems that way.

Charlotte soon has to make some quick decisions as Selena is planning on sending her to Virginia to finishing school. Charlotte takes Mellie and they go to join the Shakers at Harmony Hill where Edwin is, she feels that way she's at least close to Grayson. When they get to Harmony Hill the Shakers accept them so Mellie's ownership papers are handed over and she is now a free person, no longer a slave, Shakers don't believe in slavery. This was Charlotte's plan anyway, to free Mellie since she is her childhood friend.

They have been at Harmony Hill a short time when Adam appears, not knowing they are there, he thinks Charlotte is in Virginia since Selena told him that. Selena also leads her father to believe she's in Virginia. Mellie leaves shortly after that to run North with, Nate, her fiance, he is not free yet so they have to go north. They are spotted and have to separate so he doesn't get caught. Adam sees Mellie and helps hide her, as most of the time they don't believe the former slaves when they have freedom papers. He takes her to a safe house where she meets Nate. Adam gives her money and a note to give to his sister in Boston. He figures she owes him something for doing Selena's portrait, so he tells her to give Nate and Mellie a job.

Charlotte stays on at Harmony Hill, she still has not joined as a believer when Adam appears again. The elders allow him to do drawings for his paper. When Charlotte sees him in the biting room, she acts sick so she can leave, but he sees her hand on her cap and he feels he knows the person, soon he finds out he's right. He tries writing to her at Harmony Hill, the elders read his letter and pass it on to her with permission for her to answer his letter. The elders have to approve any correspondence coming and going, they allow Adam and Charlotte to continue corresponding so they, the Shakers, can keep up on the war activities, he also includes drawings of the war.

Do Edwin and Charlotte sign papers to become Shakers, does Adam return again, did Nate and Mellie make it to Boston, does Charlotte's Father ever learn where his daughter really is and what happens to Selena? Questions you'll have to find out for yourself by reading this book.

I found that Ann let the Shakers be a little 'nicer' in this book, there was still one that was more strict than the others, but she wasn't as 'angry' it seemed. I just don't understand why they don't believe in marriage, they can't have conversations with the brothers and sisters, if a family joins they are all separated, parents are not even allowed to talk to their children or express any emotions. It is very confusing to me.

I really liked this book, the storyline was very interesting. I am looking forward to the next two in the series, The Blessed is already out and The Gifted comes out next year, 2012.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Believer by Ann H Gabhart - Review

The Believer
Shaker Series
by Ann H. Gabhart

Elizabeth's Mother has been dead a few years, her Father was very healthy, but after going to town feeling fine he comes home later that day and dies before daybreak. That leaves Elizabeth to care for her younger brother and sister. The family lived on Colton Linley's property for no charge, Colton lost his first wife and child during childbirth, his second wife took off shortly after marrying him and went back home. He gave her the chills whenever she saw him, she was very afraid of him. Colton confronts Elizabeth the morning after her Father dies, jumping in the grave as she is digging and tells her that her Father owed him money and she has to marry him to repay that debt. Colton gives her two days to grieve her Father, then he will claim her as his wife. 

Elizabeth has some quick decisions to make, after reading in her Father's Bible she finds some seeds he'd bought from the Shakers to plant in the spring. She remembered him telling her how peaceful and nice the people were when he'd seen them. She took the seeds as a sign, knowing they'd take the three of them in. Against her siblings wishes, they left in the middle of the night, trying to escape Colton so he couldn't find them. As they were leaving, Payton, her brother, said that he forgot something and ran back to the cabin, when he returned he smelled like smoke and Elizabeth and Hannah, her sister, looked back and saw their cabin on fire. He knew it was wrong but he didn't want Colton to have anything of theirs, they left with the clothes on their backs and everything else, what little it was, was in the cabin.

As they were going to the Shakers, they were found by two Shakers on their way to town, Brother Issachar and Brother Ethan. They gave them food and told them to wait and they'd pick them up on their return from town and take them to their community. This isn't the first time Brother Issachar has saved someone, he saved Brother Ethan when he was a young boy. Ethan was being raised by some people his Mother left him with until his real Dad came and kidnapped him. As they were floating down the river, Ethan waited for his Dad and two criminal buddies to fall asleep and slipped out of the rope he was tied up with and slid into the water. Brother Issachar found him and took him to the Shaker village. Brother Ethan had just recently turned 21 and signed the covenant to be a Believer, Shaker.

Hannah had the hardest time trying to be a Shaker, since Elizabeth was having a hard time she promised Hannah they would leave in the spring. That doesn't keep Elizabeth from developing feelings for Brother Ethan, which is forbidden, Hannah running away, fires being set in the village, etc. In other words, when the three Duncan's came to the village, lots of bad things started happening.

Some of the problems are because Colton does find them, he brings a group of men to kidnap Elizabeth but is stopped by the Brothers and Sisters. He continues to 'haunt' their community and even tries again to kidnap Elizabeth, but gets stopped. After Brother Issachar dies from a stab wound he got while on a trip to sell Shaker Goods, Elizabeth and Hannah decide to leave, Payton stays as he is settling in well even though he was the one most determined not to go there. Brother Ethan takes Brother Issachar's death very hard, then when Elizabeth leaves he has to decide whether to 'listen to his heart' as Brother Issachar told him, or to stay behind.

You'll have to read the book to find out what he does, if Elizabeth and Hannah find a safe place to hide from Colton, if Colton finds them and if he forces Elizabeth to marry him.

I would suggest to you to read this book. After reading this I almost feel like the Shakers are more of a cult, and they are supposed to be peaceful, but it appeared to me that there was a lot of anger in them. They separate the men from the women, they are not allowed to marry or have any kind of special feelings for anyone, not even their blood relatives whether it be parent, child, sibling spouse (which could only happen if they were married before they joined the Shakers). You can not show any emotion, such as tears. I found myself getting very upset with the older Brothers and Sisters, I just wanted to "smack them" as a good friend of mine used to say all the time.

The Outsider by Ann H Gabhart - Review

The Outsider
Shaker Series
by Ann H. Gabhart

I read this book a while back and it got me interested in reading more about the Shakers, I had heard of them but didn't know a lot about their "religion".  I found this way of life very strange.
Gabrielle was pretty much raised as a Believer, that is what they call themselves. Gabrielle always had visions which the community embraced, but she was afraid of, as they were not always happy visions. After one particular vision, they have to call in a 'worldly' doctor, he even has to stay in their community for a while. She finds herself attracted to him and he is attracted to her. Yes, eventually she has to decide weather to follow her heart or to stay in the world in which she was raised.

I would recommend this book, it is the first in the Shaker series. It will pull you to where you want to learn more about the Shakers.