Category Archives: Fiction

Fiction Shelves: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

A Pleasant Historical Romance That Stumbles as a Mystery

The Illusionist’s ApprenticeIllusionist - posting size
by Kristy Cambron


Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 356pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718041502

Starred Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly

Related Links:

Kristy Cambron’s Website

Publisher’s Website


Buy the Book:

Amazon                  BN



Publisher Synopsis

Not all illusions happen on the stage.

Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.

But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind: Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world.

Set during one of the richest, most vibrant eras in American history, this Jazz Age novel of illusion, suspense, and forgotten pasts is perfect for fans of The Magician’s Lie, challenging all to find the underpinnings of faith on their own life’s stage.


My Review

WARNING:

At ReadLove we try hard not to include spoilers in our reviews. But in order to explain the low rating this book receives, spoilers are unfortunately a necessity. So if you haven’t read the book yet and wish to make up your own mind about it, then please do not read below the line!

——————–

There is no way to say it but bluntly: For all its good points, The Illusionist’s Apprentice begins and ends problematically, and abounds in inconsistencies throughout. It’s a shame, too, because Cambron writes clearly, has a talent for characterization and chronicling a budding romance, and is certainly skilled at bringing to life an historic era, in this case the Jazz Age. In fact, her easy-to-read prose kept me turning the pages long after my disappointment urged me to abandon the book. I won’t list every troublesome moment in the novel, but I will present a sample.

A quick summary before moving on: On New Year’s Eve in 1926, a resurrection is staged in a Massachusetts cemetery by a famed illusionist. The dead man is revived (supposedly), says a few halting words, then dies. The illusionist is arrested for murder and the FBI investigates.

The first problem is that the mystery should be in ruins by page 14. The corpse to be revived has been buried for twenty-three years. A doctor, not involved with the deception, is asked to attest that the corpse shows “no signs of life”. He solemnly states that it doesn’t. And yet, he does not find it significant that the body — before being recalled to life — is not the least bit putrefied or decomposed, a sure sign of either life or a very recent burial. Even the author comments that it should be “a decayed corpse” with “rotting flesh”.  (Additionally, the man’s clothing and his simple “wooden box” had apparently undergone no deterioration after a quarter of a century underground, which surprises no one, not even the inquisitive press.)

Skipping ahead to the end: The solution to the resurrection trick is given casually, with a vague reference to a tunnel and a “piping system” for air. The reader is left with gaping jaw when she considers the myriad difficulties such a feat of engineering would encounter in 1926. The logistics of digging a long tunnel, especially in secret, are staggering. How do you precisely locate the coffin you’re aiming for? How do you remove hundreds of cubic feet worth of dirt, and where do you put it? How long would the project take — days, weeks? And all this occurs while the ground, we are told, is so frozen that a hole can’t be dug to plant a tree!

As regards the “piping system”, it would be interesting to know what air recycling technology was installed that prevented an unconscious man confined for hours in a narrow box from suffocating on his own CO2. How did evidence of that system vanish when the box was exhumed? And, given that the weather above ground was “frigid”, how did a man whose heartbeat had been artificially slowed to the point where a pulse was undetectable not freeze to death lying all those hours in thin clothes six feet below the surface?

Occasionally, the reader runs into oddities such as these:

— Even after being shot, Wren, our heroine, adamantly refuses to help the FBI, saying, “I can’t continue with the investigation, not if it means giving up my privacy.” A few chapters later, when Amberley Dover does the same thing for the same reason, Wren expresses her disbelief that her one-time friend won’t help the agents: “When people were dying, matters of reluctance should be the first to fly out the window.”

— While discussing details of the case, agent Elliot remarks on how the name of the revived-then-dead man matches that of the original occupant of the grave: “Stapleton wants us to think they were one and the same, but it has to be two men going by the same name. It’s the only possible explanation…” Three pages later, Wren mentions that the man who died had no identification (and therefore, no verifiable name at all).

— On page 158, Elliot states that the original toxicology report “showed nothing of substance”. Later, on 261, he tells Wren that “the original report named the foxglove plant as the probable culprit…”

Elsewhere, while the Jazz Age generally comes across well, all its glitter can’t hide an anachronism or two. But as with Shakespeare’s mechanical clock, we can read over small lapses without a blink. Harder to ignore is the fact that the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for whom our hero works, did not operate under that name until 1935, years after the events in the book. Before then, it was known as the Bureau of Investigation, or the BOI. What an excellent opportunity was missed to add realism and color to the novel, and to educate the reader!

In her Acknowledgments, the author mentions that a circle of Suspense/Mystery writer friends laid out the early framework for her plot. Continued assistance from them would have been helpful. Rightly or wrongly, my impression is that while she excels at writing Romance and can maintain a suspenseful plot, Ms. Cambron has yet to master the intricacies involved in creating a seamless mystery.

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict

2 Hearts - Final

2 of 5 Hearts. A Pleasant Historical Romance That Stumbles as a Mystery.

It hurts my heart to have to say negative things about a writer who’s so obviously earnest about her craft and her faith. But the fact is, The Illusionist’s Apprentice lacks cohesion and believability. It has style, occasional wit, smooth prose, and a strong Christian element, but only the romantic storyline is fully worth the reader’s investment of time.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters: If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Top-Notch Christian Suspense That Teaches and Inspires


If I’m Found
by Terri Blackstock


Series: If I Run (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 384pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310332480

Related Links:
Terri Blackstock’s Website
Terri Blackstock’s YouTube Channel

b5ed2-facebookicon   36622-twittericon


Buy the Book

AmazonBN

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.


My Review

The adventures of Casey and Dylan continue to provide a high level of entertainment. If you haven’t read book one in the series, though, please do so before picking up If I’m Found. Both are outstanding Christian thrillers, and everything I wrote in my review of If I Run applies to its sequel. I won’t risk giving anything away by delving into the plot, but be assured that you’re in for another suspenseful outing as the mystery deepens and the danger mounts.

As in the first book, this story unfolds through the eyes of several narrators. What Terri Blackstock does as well as or better than any of her contemporaries is recognize where to end an arc of chapters devoted to the same speaker. Some authors — most in fact — who employ this device choose to cut off their narrator at cliff’s edge and proceed directly to another character’s viewpoint, thereby ensuring that the reader remains in suspense. Or so they hope. Too often, what actually happens is the reader’s interest level plunges as the next chapter begins, and that chapter becomes a stumbling block, interrupting our concern about a character’s fate. Blackstock sticks with her narrator until the current crisis finds, if not resolution, then a natural resting place. It’s as if she composes long chapters, and later divides them into shorter ones, keeping them unbroken by other narrators. This gives the reader the ability to dive wholeheartedly into a narrative arc knowing she won’t be jerked out of it prematurely.

Where If I’m Found outdoes its predecessor is in its religious discussions. If I Run did not hide its light by any means, but here, as the characters grow closer to God and begin to see His hand active in their lives, the meaning and power of Christian faith are expounded upon in greater detail. Such is the author’s ability that never does anything seem contrived about those moments; instead, they occur as part of the familiar and inborn path one travels when moving towards a fuller understanding and a deeper faith. At the conclusion of the book, there’s even a multi-page author’s note where Blackstock discusses her personal efforts at striving to see God in everything and giving thanks to Him. It’s an excellent wrap-up to the novel and reminds the reader that the three hundred plus pages she has just read contained more than a fictional story. (To emphasize: Last year, I placed my review of If I Run on ReadLove‘s “Fiction Shelves”; this time around, If I’m Found has landed squarely in our “Christian Chapters” category.)

I’ll end this review paraphrasing the sentence I used to conclude my review of the first novel: When the final page is turned, the reader feels perfectly satisfied with the present book, but is eagerly looking forward to the next!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


5 of 5 Hearts. Top-Notch Christian Suspense That Teaches and Inspires.

It’s another heart-pounding, page-turning Christian thriller from the pen of Terri Blackstock. But If I’m Found is more than its sub-genre. It’s the story of two people learning to trust God and each other while battling seemingly impossible odds, their wits their only weapon, their faith their only shield.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a physical copy of If I’m Found in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Netgalley and Zondervan for providing me with a digital copy of If I’m Found in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters: The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Thoroughly Historical and Wholly Enjoyable Amish Fiction

The Newcomer
by Suzanne Woods Fisher


Series: Amish Beginnings (Book 2)
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Revell
Length: 336pp
ISBN-13: 978- 0800727499

Related Links:
Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Website (Tons of info!)

Publisher’s Website

 

 


Buy the Book

AmazonBN







Publisher Synopsis

A fresh start in the New World will test Anna’s resolve . . . and her heart.

In 1737, Anna König staggers off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. It’s a time of new beginnings, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World, his enthusiasm evaporates. When a ship captain offers him a first mate position, he grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

As a newcomer joins the church, Anna is torn. This man is everything Bairn is not – bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And he is here. Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves the lives of Bairn, Anna, and the newcomer together. When the secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?


My Review

The Newcomer is the second book in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Amish Beginnings series. Let me assure you, since I’ve not yet read book one, Anna’s Crossing, you can pick up The Newcomer without any prior knowledge and completely enjoy it. In fact, Ms. Fisher originally wrote Anna’s Crossing as a stand alone novel. It was only after years of readers’ requests for a sequel that the tale developed into a series. And it’s only natural that readers wanted more since The Newcomer begins in late 1737, soon after a group of German Amish immigrants emigrate to the New World. Anna’s Crossing chronicles Anna’s group’s voyage to the New World, and The Newcomer tells us about their journey toward settlement.

Indeed, in many ways The Newcomer is about journeys – physical and spiritual, personal and communal. Other thematic elements include pain and loss, dealing with the past, forgiveness, freedom, family, community, leadership, faith, God’s providence, and perseverance.

A true historical novel, The Newcomer will teach you a thing or two! For instance, you might learn about ships, naturalization (there’s an interesting story about the Amish immigrants’ views on the Oath of Allegiance and the resultant changes that were made so they could take the oath in good conscience), Penn’s Woods, or about what led the Amish to leave their homeland. You might even learn a bit about Benjamin Franklin: Good ol’ Ben appears in the novel, working as a printer in Philadelphia. You’ll really enjoy his character and his wit, including the wise sayings of his alter ego Poor Richard — and their German counterparts (and possible origins). One of my favorite proverbs mentioned in The Newcomer is “Ken Rose ohne Dornen,” which translates to “there is no rose without a thorn.”

On top of Mr. Franklin’s humor, a young Amish boy named Felix supplies plenty of smiles and laughs. In addition to levity, Fisher uses short chapters with brief, alternating story lines to carry her plot along without delay. The result? You’ll be turning the pages so quickly you’ll forget you’re reading historical fiction!

I certainly enjoyed my stay in early 18th century Pennsylvania. Though it was definitely not a place for the faint of heart, it’s easy to see the promise that our then young country held for those who faced oppression and possibly even danger for simply practicing their faith, as well as understand why they were willing to endure hardship and combat fear to secure their religious freedom.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4.5 of 5 Hearts. Thoroughly Historical and Wholly Enjoyable Amish Fiction.

With her latest novel, The Newcomer, Suzanne Woods Fisher has successfully accomplished several ticklish feats. She has written an engrossing sequel that also reads perfectly well as a stand alone; her novel is thoroughly researched yet fast-paced and easily read; she’s crafted likeable and memorable characters (some of whom are even based on real people!); and she’s tied it all together in a beautiful bow that teaches her readers about faith and leaves them with an uplifting message: “There is always something to fear. There always will be. But God will be with us wherever we go.”

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Revell Reads for providing me with a copy of this title. 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.”

Fiction Shelves: The Candidate by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

Grab It, Read It, Savor the Thrills!


The Candidate
by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart


Series: Newsmakers (Book 2)
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 334pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718037680

Related Links:
Lis Wiehl’s Website
Lis Wiehl Podcast on The Newsmakers

b5ed2-facebookicon     Instagram 68-64-     36622-twittericon


Buy the Book

AmazonBN

 

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

How far will a candidate go to become president? Erica Sparks—America’s top-rated cable-news host— is about to find out.

Mike Ortiz is a dynamic war hero favored to win the White House. Standing by his side is his glamorous and adoring wife, Celeste. But something about this seemingly perfect couple troubles Erica. Is Celeste really who she seems? And most importantly, what really happened in that squalid Al-Qaeda prison where Mike Ortiz spent nine months?

But more than the nation’s future is at stake. Erica’s relentless search for the truth puts the life of her preteen daughter Jenny in danger, even as Erica’s own dark past threatens to overtake her.


My Review

[Click the title to see my review of the first book in the series, The Newsmakers.]

Once again, Lis Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart have turned out a barn-burner of a thriller. Top flight journalist Erica Sparks has her hands full — overly full, I should say — combating a villain that no one else even suspects. And this villain is wickedly, viciously, coldly, frighteningly evil.

If you have not read the first book in the Newsmakers series, I suggest you do so before plunging into this one. Many of the same characters reappear, and it helps to know one of them in particular in order to understand Erica’s romantic plight. Also, Erica’s background is explored more thoroughly in book one, as is usual in a series, and there’s much in her history that will enable the reader to better grasp our heroine’s struggles at being a mother.

Those readers seeking an overtly Christian thriller will not find it here. There is little time for Erica to pause and reflect, other than about her worries. (Yes, she could have used some praying.) But despite the presence of a cruel and heartless antagonist, the book’s language never crosses a line that might offend. So this is a clean read, if that concerns you, though at times a heartbreaking one, as not everyone makes it out alive.

Of course, if you read and enjoyed The Newsmakers, then you know what to expect in The Candidate, and you will not be disappointed!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4 of 5 Hearts. Grab It, Read It, Savor the Thrills!

The Candidate is the second in Lis Wiehl’s latest series. In it, she takes her heroine to even darker places, physically and mentally, than in the first book, and the ride this time is bumpier and more painful. But as before, it is the keen wit, courage, and perseverance of Erica Sparks that provides the real entertainment.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Candidate in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters – An Amish Home: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, & Kathleen Fuller

An Outstanding and Uplifting Collection of Amish Novellas!

An Amish Home: Four Novellas
by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, & Kathleen Fuller


Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 406pp
ISBN-13: 978-0-5291-1869-1

Related Links:
Beth Wiseman’s Website
Amy Clipston’s Website
Ruth Reid’s Website
Kathleen Fuller’s Website
Publisher’s Website


Buy the Book

AmazonBN







Contents

A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller


My Review

Early last month, when Amy Clipston surprised those of us in her Bakery Bunch with a beautiful purple welcome package, it was Christmas all over again! She had put together the contents with so much love that it was like receiving a care package from your mom, and amid all the lovely surprises inside was An Amish Home.

I couldn’t have been more excited or felt more welcomed — more at home! I have grown to love these seasonal Amish Novella releases by Thomas Nelson. Typically, I buy each new offering as soon as it hits the bookstore shelves, so to have one early and gifted to me by one of the authors — well, that’s a rare and happy treat!

Why do I like them so much? These little beauties are the perfect introduction to Amish Fiction, or for those like me who may have started with Beverly Lewis, they are a great way to sample the work of other authors in the stable, so to speak. The novella format is also the perfect length to read in one sitting, and there’s always something satisfying about starting on page one and reading a story to its conclusion.

As the title makes plain, the four novellas share the common theme of home and hearth. Wiseman and Clipston each look at home through the eyes of young newlyweds. Wiseman’s Sarah returns from the hospital following a serious accident to find her house remodeled and her imagined future altered. While Clipston also shows us a young married couple, Chace and Mia are Englishers whose circumstances bring them and their young child to Bird-in-Hand to live in the daadihaus of Chace’s boss. Each couple struggles against circumstances to create the home and family life they desire. Meanwhile, Reid’s novella, the book’s longest, stands alone in its portrayal of an older couple. Rather than just having established their home and marriage, Thomas and Noreen lose their house to a fire and appear on the brink of losing their marriage. Finally, Kathleen Fuller brings us a young woman named Faith who has an unusual hobby for an Amish female: carpentry. When she’s asked to make cabinets for her cousin’s new house, she finds herself having to work through some painful memories from her past.

Did An Amish Home live up to my expectations? You better believe it! I like how each author gives us a different look at home. In A Cup Half Full, the characters demonstrate a lot of bravery and love, and Beth Wiseman shows us that physical challenges leave no community untouched — even the Amish have members living productive lives despite adversity. Though neither of Amy Clipston’s characters come from an ideal home situation, they find that with God’s help they can create their own home life in each other. I especially enjoyed how Ruth Reid developed Thomas and Noreen’s story through alternating looks at their present and past. And lastly, Kathleen Fuller illustrates how a home and marriage must be built on trust.

An Amish Home reminds us that there is no perfect or ideal home — each has a unique set of circumstances to celebrate or even to endure. But take heart: Home is not the sum of our accumulated things or the safety of the walls that surround us. These can be swept away in a heartbeat. That’s why the true measure of a home is not found in its size or its material contents, but in the strength and depth of the love found in the conjoined hearts residing within.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. An Outstanding and Uplifting Collection of Amish Novellas!

Once again, Thomas Nelson has published a quartet of novellas around a common theme, this time An Amish Home. In these four stories by top Amish Fiction writers, you’ll find many of the same things you have at home — good things like comfort, love, and faith, and difficult things like hardship, pain, and loss. Most importantly, though, you’ll finish your reading with a greater appreciation for what makes a house a home.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Amy Clipston and Thomas Nelson for providing me access to this title. 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.”

Christian Chapters: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

An Historical Narrative Demonstrating God’s Redemptive Grace

The Mark of the King
by Jocelyn Green


Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Length: 406pp
ISBN-13: 978-0764219061

Related Links:
Jocelyn Green’s Website (Tons of info!)

Publisher’s Website

 

 

 


Buy the Book

AmazonBN







Publisher Synopsis

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.


My Review

My first experience with the work of Joceyln Green was Yankee in Atlanta in which a woman named Caitlin McKae disguises herself as a soldier during the Civil War. With The Mark of the King, Green has once again brought forth a historical account surrounding the life of a strong and courageous woman.

This time, Green’s heroine is Julianne Chevalier, a respected French midwife whose life suddenly takes a marked turn when she is accused of causing the death of one of her clients. She is imprisoned in the Parisian stronghold of Salpêtrière, and branded with a fleur-de-lis, an indelible reminder of her crime and a sign that she is the property of Louis XV.

The Mark of The King is a meticulously researched glimpse into a piece of history with which I was unfamiliar. Though we all learn about the Louisiana Purchase in our early American History, I’m sure most of us know little to nothing of Louisiana’s colonial origins. In 1720, when Julianne debarks in Mobile en route to New Orleans, Louisiana was worlds away from being the fertile land of gold and silver that the prisoners and other colonists were told awaited them. In reality, it was a harsh, dirty, unrefined swampy wilderness. Beyond that, it was a political cesspool in which tensions between the British and French, being played out through the manipulation of the Chickasaw and Choctaw, were brewing.

It’s in this desolate landscape where Julianne endures hardship, famine, poverty, and natural disaster while encountering danger, disease, and death. Though the reading is sometimes slow going, Julianne is as likeable a heroine as she is determined, and readers’ heartstrings will be tugged as they watch her withstand judgment and loss, and abuse both mental and physical. Luckily, though, readers will be able to put the box of Kleenex aside, as Julianne also finds love and grace. Because, in addition to being about faith and forgiveness, The Mark of the King  is ultimately a tale of redemption.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4 of 5 Hearts. A Thoroughly Researched Historical Narrative Demonstrating the Boundless Power and Reach of God’s Redemptive Grace.

There’s a lot to love about Jocelyn Green’s The Mark of the King. Thoroughly researched, the book will teach you much about a part of history you’ve likely never encountered. You’ll have no trouble pulling for Green’s tenacious heroine while also being enlightened, or maybe just reminded, about God’s ability to redeem and restore.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Jocelyn Green and Bethany House Publishers for providing me access to this title. 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.”

Christian Chapters – A Beauty Refined: Review, Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Facebook Party

Well-Researched But Less Than Satisfying Historical Romance

A Beauty Refined
by Tracie Peterson


Series: Sapphire Brides (Book 2)
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Bethany House
Length: 315pp
ISBN-13: 978-0764213250

Related Links:
Tracie Peterson’s Website
Publisher’s Website

     


Buy the Book

  AmazonBN






About the Author

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

TPeterson


Publisher Synopsis

What does it take to reveal the true beauty of a hidden gem?

Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father’s intentions–both for her and the gemstones–are not what she thinks.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie–a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family’s deception begins to unravel.


My Review

A Beauty Refined, best-selling author Tracie Peterson’s latest release, is the second in her Sapphire Brides series. Although part of a series, the book can be read as a standalone without any trouble. The heroine, Phoebe Von Bergen, travels to the American West with her father, a German count. On a business trip to purchase sapphires, the count is quickly revealed to be not only unscrupulous and demanding, but abusive.

This is my second experience with Tracie Peterson’s work, the first being Treasures of the North. Award-winning Peterson has written over 100 books and has a large, faithful following. Still, I guess I’m either the odd-girl out, or I’ve had bad luck as far as selection goes, because each has left me unsatisfied. Of course, a novelist with such an abundance of works can’t hit a home run every time, and A Beauty Refined is not without merit.

First, let’s talk about where Peterson succeeds. Her research on the time period, the sapphire business in the American West and Ceylon, and the process of stone-cutting, shines through. Additionally, a Prussian character makes reference to the unification of Germany. Little details like that help make the setting come alive.

Quickly paced, the novel is an easy read that can become a page-turner. Peterson’s fast-moving plot gives her reader a desire to find out what happens next. Whether readers will be emotionally invested in those outcomes, however, is less certain. Peterson’s writing puts plot ahead of all else, at the expense of character development, dramatic and emotional tension, and plausibility. Ultimately, the underdevelopment of these elements works to undercut another of the novel’s desired intentions — Christian teachings.

While A Beauty Refined began with potential, for the reasons above, and other qualms which I can’t specifically disclose without heavy spoilers (I’ll just say I often didn’t agree with choices made by characters or the rationales behind them), I was less than thrilled with the end product. By the time I had turned the final page, I was more relieved than satisfied. It’s a shame, too, because under different circumstances, the novel’s lessons about faith, trust, honesty, and love might have had more impact and a broader reach.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

3 of 5 Hearts. Well-Researched But Less Than Satisfying Historical Romance.

The most interesting aspect of A Beauty Refined is the look the reader gets at the sapphire business in Montana in 1907. But characters who too often make unrealistic, illogical, or just plain dumb choices and a too easily resolved plot undercut the Christian message.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Litfuse Publicity Group for providing me with a copy of A Beauty Refined in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Facebook Party!!

Join author Tracie Peterson in celebrating the release of A Beauty Refined by entering to win her Precious Gems giveaway (details below) and by attending her author chat party on August 9!

beauty refined - 400

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/9. The winner will be announced at A Beauty Refined Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie and fellow fans of historical fiction, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

beauty refined - enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!

** For more information about the blog tour, and to read additional reviews about A Beauty Refined, please visit the Litfuse campaign page here. **

 

%d bloggers like this: