Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

Free From Guilt-Pat Simmons

December 30, 2012

Free From Guilt
Pat Simmons
Lift Every Voice Books (LEVB)/Moody, Sep 20 2012, $14.99
ISBN: 9780802403896

Brilliant MIT graduate Cameron Jamieson completed ten generations of his family roots tracing his ancestry back to African royalty and to previously unknown Boston kin. However, his genius also leads him to question the simplistic embrace of God’s love and offer of salvation by his entire St. Louis family except for the septuagenarian matriarch Beatrice “Grandma BB” Beacon, the terror of the city. Cameron accepts her belief that life is meant to enjoy today and worry about redemption far into the tomorrows.

Unlike Cameron who can quote scriptures, Gabrielle Dupree believes God comes first above all else. She prays that one day the Lord delivers to her a man of equal faith to share a love of one another and Jesus. Gabrielle and Cameron are attracted to one another at first sight. However, the strength of their polar opposite religious convictions places a relationship between them in peril as each struggle with love.

The latest Jamieson Legacy urban Christian inspirational (see Still Guilty, Guilty of Love and Not Guilty of Love) is a terrific contemporary romance with a fascinating triangle consisting of Cameron, Gabrielle and Jesus; Gabriele especially feels the tug on her heart and soul. As in the cousins’ tales (see The Guilt Trip and Guilt by Association), genealogy plays a key supporting role enhancing the engaging storyline. Readers will appreciate this strong entry as temptation and God-fearing converge with Gabrielle knowing the right path is with Jesus but the damning alternate seems so good.

Harriet Klausner

Hannah’s Joy-Marta Perry

April 25, 2012

Hannah’s Joy

Marta Perry

Berkley, May 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425246948

 

Following the death of her husband Travis while on a military tour in Afghanistan Hannah Conroy and her twenty-month old son Jamie move to Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania to live with her Aunt Paula Schatz.  Hannah lived in Pleasant Valley as a child until her parents left their Mennonite faith.  She works in her aunt’s bakery while wondering if staying here is good for her and her son. 

 

When Hannah and woodworker William Brand meet, they share a sense of camaraderie as both feels like outsiders; she because of her years spent in the Englisher world and he due to a stutter.  Hannah wants to help him with his speech impediment though she never completed her speech therapy program.  William’s family opposes any relationship, even as a speech teacher, between them; while Travis’ father retired officer Robert threatens a custody suit if she fails to leave a community that does not support the military.

 

The latest Pleasant Valley (see Katie’s Way and Anna’s Return) is an enjoyable Mennonite romance starring two fascinating individuals.  Each feels they do not belong in the community as Marta Perry provides a strong case that one can feel alone even within a welcoming loving family.  Both are poster children of Maslow’s Hierarchy’s third step (each recognizes their physiological and safety needs are covered); as Hannah and William feel a lack of belonging.  Though setting the key cast members takes a bit longer than usual, fans will enjoy this warm tale of love and belonging.

 

Harriet Klausner

Shards of Ashley-Karen Wiesner

September 2, 2011

Shards of Ashley

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek, Oct 1 2011, $17.95

ISBN: 9781611600179

 

From the moment Jay Samuels met Ashley Savage when she moved to la Crosse when she was seventeen years old, he knew he loved her though she has childhood issues that would have anyone else fleeing for their sanity.  A military chaplain Pastor Jay is the only male under the age of a zillion who gets inside the skin of Ashley as he not only refuses to run from her he enjoys the battles they have.  Still he dreams of one day to have her as his wife raising a family of rug rats together with God’s blessing.

 

Though in denial, she knows obstinate Jay has come closest to penetrating her emotional fortress but besides distrusting people, she loathes his being a pastor.  She also believes she could rid herself of him by telling him her darkest secret from her ugly teenage years, but cannot bring herself to do so as his scorn would kill her.  Meanwhile he prays to God as Jay knows he can only pick up Shards of Ashley while the Lord can heal all of Ashley.

 

The fifth Family Heirlooms inspirational romance (see Glass Angels and Foolish Games) is an engaging tale but much darker than the previous entries due to the heroine’s past in a dysfunctional abusive home.  Jay is a patient person who prays that one day his beloved will find God, but he believes she must forgive herself first for a transgression he does not know what it is.  Although her second chance at salvation seems too simplistic with all her psychological baggage including her belief God punishes her for what she did fourteen years ago, readers will root for Ashley to trust the Lord.

 

Harriet Klausner

Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man’s Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed-Matt Mikalatos

August 23, 2011

Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man’s Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed

Matt Mikalatos

Tyndale, Oct 1 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 978141433880

 

Chief Officer of the Neighborhood Watch Matt Mikalatos is on patrol when he encounters mad scientist Doc Culbertson.  Doc tells Matt that he constructed a gizmo that gets into a werewolf’s head.  Matt ridicules the claim insisting there are no monsters until he observes a horde of zombies pursued by a werewolf.  Fearing the neighborhood will become unsafe,, Matt accompanied by Doc trace the Lycan to the home of Luther Martin whose wife left him a week ago when she noticed the changes.

 

Luther wants to rid himself of his inner beast so he can become a normal human.  He knows transformation to Christianity is the king of conversion, but he is not a Christian having turned away from his father’s rigid religious doctrine.  Matt and his new friends want to help Luther.  They visit a church filled with a flock of zombies, a vampire who like Luther wants to revert to pure human, and a psychiatrist who counsels them.  The despondent werewolf asks a pastor for answers.  The response is simple, but Luther wonders how he failed to grasp the Word before; as he and his friends comprehend a transformed life starts with faith.

 

In his follow-up to the Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos provides a thought-provoking parable insisting there are monsters amongst us disguised as Christians claiming to be faithful yet unable to control their inner beast.  Focusing on converting those beastly desires to become the type of person God wants of us takes different paths for different people at different times in their lives.  Readers will appreciate Mr. Mikalatos’ profound Christian morality tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Amish Nanny-Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

June 16, 2011

The Amish Nanny

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Harvest House, Jul 1 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736938617

 

Amish Ada Rupp must decide between joining the faithful and hopefully landing Widower Will Gundy as her mate or leaving.  Both are viable options since she met for the first time her sister Lexie Jaeger who helped her understand her illness and is marrying James Nolan in Aurora, Oregon (see The Amish Midwife).  However, a chance to travel to Switzerland as a companion to Will’s daughter Christy enables Ada to learn about her ancestors especially her birth mother who gave her to the Amish.

 

Ada obtains help from Daniel Hart the Mennonite scholar who she likes, but Will occupies her heart and soul.  However, it is grief stricken no longer caring about anything or anyone Christy who grabs her soul as The Amish nanny wants to help the tweener move on.

 

The second Women of Lancaster County tale (see The Amish Midwife) series focuses on suddenly confused Ada who knew her path until she met her sibling for the first time.  Now she has an alternative and a quest.  Readers will appreciate this engaging Amish romance as a second Mennonite romance of Ada’s traveling companion Morgan and insight to the life (past and present of the Plain people make for a fine at times amusing novel.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Mine Is The Night-Liz Curtiss Higgs

January 15, 2011

Mine Is The Night

Liz Curtiss Higgs

WaterBrook, Mar 15 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9781400070022

In 1746 those who supported Prince Charles’ claim to the throne during the failed Jacobite Rebellion are paying the price.  Widow Marjorie Kerr saw her two sons Donald and Andrew die at Falkirk and her family’s title stripped for supporting Charles.  She and one of her widowed daughter-in-laws Elisabeth head to Selkirk where her cousin Anne lives in meager conditions.

Marjory knows she is a charity case imposing on a poor relative she ignored for a decade.  Ann, who earns her living as a lace-maker, allows them shelter.  Elisabeth is unafraid of hard work as she is talented with a needle.  She obtains work sewing shirts for Widower single father Michael Dalgiesh’s haberdashery.  Marjory becomes the cook for her cousin and her daughter-in-law.  She also fears for the life of her butler Gibson who should have been here before then, but has failed to arrive.  Meanwhile wealthy hero Lord Jack Buchanan is expected shortly and his arrival could prove disastrous to widows of traitors.

This is an entertaining eighteenth century Christian romance starring three Kerr females struggling to survive in a world turned upside down by the late men in their lives.  Elisabeth and Marjory turn to the Lord for guidance when things look dire and gloomy.  Although the story line is straightforward with no surprises from start to finish, ending the way the audience expects, the strong surviving women and the solid support cast make for a fine historical (see Here Burns My Candle for the previous Kerr saga).

Harriet Klausner

Autumn’s Promise-Shelley Shepard Gray

July 31, 2010

Autumn’s Promise

Shelley Shepard Gray

Avon, Aug 3 2010, $12.99

ISBN: 9780061852374

Nineteen years old Lilly Allen remains grief stricken over her recent miscarriage.  She also feels guilty that her family relocated from their home in Cleveland so her out-of-wedlock pregnancy can be hidden from her friends.  Lilly knows she has moved by her negative reaction to the news that her forty something mom is carrying.

Twenty-four year old Amish widower carpenter Robert Miller grieves the death of his beloved wife Grace who died three years ago.  His caring family and friends want him to start courting Amish women, but he is not ready.  Instead he is attracted to the Englisher Lilly who he knows from stopping for breakfast at the Sugar Creek inn where she works.  As they begin to date to the consternation of their families, they fall in love, but an Amish and an Englisher has little in common.

The third Seasons of Sugarcreek (See Spring’s Renewal and Winter’s Awakening) is a terrific contemporary Amish romance starring two people who have lost loved ones relatively recently and know the barrier between them seemingly is impenetrable.  The support cast is super as his Amish friends and family and her family reject their relationship.  However, this excellent entry belongs to the lead couple who each strongly believes their love has healed their respective souls but will break their hearts.

Harriet Klausner

Unwilling Warrior-Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar

June 23, 2010

Unwilling Warrior

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar

Realms, Jun 2010, $10.99

www.strangbookgroup.com

ISBN: 9781599799858

Although the War Between the States makes it unsafe to travel, following the death of her mother, Valerie Fontaine leaves her Virginia boarding school to come home to New Orleans.  However, her father makes it clear she is unwelcome.

Her dad decides to marry Valerie off perhaps to neighbor James Ladden who she despises.  She prefers his guest combat photographer Benjamin McCabe who is in town searching for his missing brother Luke who vanished during the Battle of Bull Run.  He is nice to her and falls in love with her.  When her dad is arrested, he sends her to his home promising he will follow her once he finds Luke.  However, she finds his home unwelcoming while her beloved continues his search for his younger brother. 

The first Season of Redemption, Unwilling Warriors is a strong inspirational with a message that God is there for those who are there for the Lord even at the darkest loneliest moments.  The story line transports readers to the Civil War in which many people feel God abandoned them, but those who find their way back or who have never lost their way will find the Lord helping them with their grief, sorrow and remorse.  With a strong cast especially the heroine and a wonderful sense of time and place, Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar provides an insightful opening tale as Valerie logically knows how untrue her feelings are yet still feels abandoned by her father, her beloved and even God.

Harriet Klausner

Claim-Lisa T. Bergen

June 3, 2010

Claim

Lisa T. Bergen

David C. Cook, Jun 1 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434767066

Several years ago, his father left Dominc St. Clair to watch over his sisters as they traveled from Philadelphia to Colorado Springs while also setting up the family publishing business in the growing city.  His beautiful sister Moira was sent west to get her away from her myriad of suitors while his other sibling Odessa came to stay at a sanatorium for consumption victims.  Odessa married rancher Bryce (see Breathe) and Moira began a professional stage career (see Sing) so Nic left to see the world as he always dreamed of doing.

Though several years have passed and feeling guilty, Nic returns to Colorado to see how his sisters are doing.  Moira left Paris after suffering a burn to her neck, ear and scalp and being burned by the men in her life.  She never forgot Daniel whom she met in Colorado Springs before she left to sing to the world; now she knows who she wants to sing to for the rest of her life if he will take her back.  Nic arrives in nearby Gunnison where he meets Peter and the miner’s son.  They work a mine together that begins to help him heal with the world that broke his dreams.  However, he meets and falls in love with Sabine the schoolteacher who makes him feel life is worth living.

The third Homeward Bound tale is an excellent end to the super historical saga that blends romance history, and inspiration into a powerful trilogy.  Each of the three St. Clair sibling learn that life is filled with remorseful qualms yet lost opportunities must never prevent a person from living to the fullest; the fullest defined as sharing your soul with loves ones.  Lisa T. Bergren is three for three with one of the best historical trilogies in recent years.

Harriet Klausner

Healer-Linda Windsor

May 14, 2010

Healer

Linda Windsor

David C. Cook, Jun 28 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434764782

In the sixth century in Alba, Brenna’s mother the powerful healing witch Queen Joanna of Gowrys abruptly awakens from a frightening vision of the destruction of her subclan caused by Chieftain Tarlach O’Byrne.  The powerful Tarlach still rages at Joanna for her audacity to marry someone else when they were an obvious pairing due to ancestry.  He has never forgiven her for defying their destiny by her marrying her beloved Llas.  Tarlach leads the O’Byrne clan on a deadly vengeance, but before she dies Joanna curses him with the prediction that her offspring will divide his brood leading to peace for everyone.

Taking her death words gravely serious Tarlach hunts for Brenna who was taken to the woods by her cousin Ealga her nurse and raised there.  When her surrogate mom Ealga dies, Brenna has no other human to talk to and her only companion is Faol the wolf.  As they have done for two decades, the O’Byrne clan searches for Joanna’s daughter.  Tarlach’s heir Ronan leads the hunt, but he is hurt and dying.  Brenna, a healer on a par with her late mom, saves his life, but by doing so exposes herself to her enemy.

The first Brides of Alba Christian Arthurian fantasy is a strong opening act that follows up nicely with a fresh arc from the Fires of Gleannmara trilogy.  The story line is fast-paced for the most part especially when Ealga flees with her infant cousin to raise her safely in the woods and continues when the two clan heirs meet.  The tale slows down a bit after Ronal heals, but regains speed into the final turn.  Fans will relish the return to Linda Windsor’s strong Christian Arthurian mythos with the saga of the healer.

Harriet Klausner