Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake

Pre-order here

About the book~

Order dictates Tucker Carmichael’s life—his orders. On a cattle drive, a moment’s hesitation can mean death. The Chisholm Trail is dirty, dangerous, and no place for women. After years at school, Jessalyn Culpepper has come home and is determined to show everyone that a woman can manage everything from cooking to cattle—whether they like it or not! Tucker tries to manage his partner’s headstrong sister, horrified when she wants to join the cattle drive. But when they need a chuck wagon cook, Jessalyn seems the only solution. Will God stir up love along a trail filled with their Plots and Pans?

This book releases on April 1, 2014, but you can pre-order here.

Sharing my thoughts~

This was the first book I’ve read by Kelly Eileen Hake and published by Shiloh Run Press. I was curious about the new line after reading the Publisher’s Weekly article dated 1/7/14, “Shiloh Run Press will provide a new category umbrella for Barbour’s successful original full-length fiction line.”

Jessalyn (Jess) Culpepper grew up on the Bar None ranch, but her daddy sent her overseas to finishing school, hoping the headmistress could offer what the ranch could not: a female’s touch. Tucker Carmichael feels responsible for Jess after promising her daddy on his deathbed that he’d look out for her. Of course, he’d made that promise while she was safely ensconced at boarding school on the other side of the world. Now that she’s back on the ranch, keeping that promise isn’t so easy. Especially since Jess is headstrong and stubborn, and harbors a deep desire to belong. I could easily relate to Jess and Tucker, but I would have found their romance to be more believable with less sparring and definitely with more physical tension.

Some people maintained that prayer required knees on the ground and eyes screwed tight against distraction. But the way he saw it, God made man for company, and he could talk while riding. If anything, working in tandem with another of God’s creatures out in the open, breathing fresh air and drinking in the seemingly endless expanse of the sky strengthened his connection with the Creator.~Tucker

Gentle spiritual nuggets like this trickled throughout the story, seamless and natural, and deeper issues made me pause and reflect.

“…when you stop looking for what you have in common with other people, it’s the first step to not seeing them as people a’tal.” ~Aunt Desta, a former slave

The slang tended to weigh the story down a bit in places, but all in all, Plots and Pans is a solid read and a great taste of what’s to come with Shiloh Run Press. If you enjoy clean, historical romance with strong characters and a gentle spiritual thread, you’ll want to scoop this one up.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Shiloh Run Press/Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing this book. I received a free copy of Plots and Pans in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

With Autumn’s Return by Amanda Cabot~ My Review

With Autumn’s Return

About the book~

When Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne to open her medical practice, she is confident that the future is as bright as the warm Wyoming sun. Certain she’ll have a line of patients eager for her services, she soon discovers the town may not welcome a new physicianespecially a lady doctor. Even Jason Nordling, the handsome young attorney next door, seems to disapprove of her chosen profession.

When a web of deceit among Cheyenne’s wealthiest residents threatens to catch Elizabeth and Jason in its snare, they must risk working together to save one of Elizabeth’s patientseven if it means falling in love.

Sharing my review~
After her experience in medical school, Dr. Elizabeth Harding chose progressive Cheyenne to set up practice. Assured by her sister that the town would embrace a female doctor, Elizabeth is disappointed when nobody’s waiting outside her office door, even more disappointed when handsome attorney Jason Nordling expresses his scathing opinion of working women. Jason and Elizabeth suffer career setbacks, and when both defend the other, you know the romance is about to begin! 

“She might not have gained any patients, might instead have alienated several, but she had accomplished at least one thing. Not only had she and Jason forged a truce, but she was beginning to believe she’d been mistaken about him. In the time they’d been together, she had seen his arrogance disappear, falling away like a butterfly’s chrysalis, revealing a man with surprising vulnerabilities as well as fundamental strengths.” ~Elizabeth

Working together to solve a crime reshaped Jason’s opinion of marriage and the partnership role each would assume, and left Elizabeth wondering if it was possible to combine a career with a family. This conflict between Jason and Elizabeth unfolded, an organic and essential component of the plot.

With Autumn’s Return captured my attention from the first page, and the engaging plot kept me turning pages quickly, anxious to see how everything would turn out. Each character brimmed with depth, and (bonus!) I got TWO romances in one book! With Autumn’s Return is a “must read” and left this romance lover with a huge sigh of satisfaction and a smile on her face! I’ll definitely be looking for Cabot’s next book.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Amanda Cabot and Revell for providing me with a copy of With Autumn’s Return in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This review features only my opinion, and I received no compensation.

The Quaker and The Rebel by Mary Ellis~My Review

The Quaker and the Rebel
Purchase Link~Deeper Shopping
About the book~
Emily Harrison’s life has been turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempted to continue her parents’ work as conductors in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm was sold in foreclosure. Now alone, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Perhaps she can continue her rescue efforts from there.

Alexander Hunt is the doctor’s handsome nephew. While he does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee, he cannot take time to pursue Emily. Alex is not at all what he seems–rich, spoiled, and indolent. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a Quaker leader of Rebel partisans. A man of the shadows, he carries no firearm and wholeheartedly believes in Emily’s antislavery convictions.

The path before Alex and Emily is complicated and sometimes life threatening. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger to both of them. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they find faith in God amid the challenges they face and trust in the possibility for a bright future together? 

Sharing My Review~
The premise really drew me in for this book. I mean, really…a conductor in the Underground Railroad falling for a Rebel leader? How intriguing!

A devout Quaker, Emily took the job as governess intending to convince slaves to take the first step towards freedom and views the South as the enemy, especially after her parents were beaten and her fiance killed. Alexander Hunt is the son of a wealthy horse breeder, and as the elusive Gray Wraith, his non-violent band of rangers raids deliveries of medicine, food, and money, which he hands over to the Confederate army. 

“If I run into the Gray Wraith, I shall shoot him between the eyes and spare the Union Army the task.” ~ Emily

It took awhile for me to understand how Alexander could fall for haughty Emily. But it came to me in a light bulb moment. Emily stood out from the crowd of Southern belles clamoring for Alexander’s attention, so different, so willing to risk her life for her anti-slavery beliefs. As the Gray Wraith, they were kindred souls, just on opposite sides of the war.

But during her employment with the Bennington’s, Emily discovered that things weren’t as she initially believed. The Bennington’s and the Hunt’s treated their slaves with respect, and had allowed many to buy back their freedom. Alexander even championed their release. They welcomed her into their family, shattering her notion that all slave holders were privileged and shallow, and her opinions, and her attitude, changed over the course of the book. 

As an avid romance lover, The Quaker and The Rebel started off a bit slow for me, but I’m so glad I kept reading. What it lacked in actual romantic wooing and sweet words (after all, there was a war going on!), it made up for in depth and character growth. The Quaker and The Rebel transcends romance. It’s about the ugly stains of prejudice; it’s about how we allow past experiences or other people’s opinions to poison our attitudes and control our thoughts. It’s about a family and how they accepted Emily and her narrow-minded self into their midst, and then pardoned her sins and showered her with love and grace when she most needed it. Don’t pick up The Quaker and The Rebel expecting just a romance. No. Because you’ll get a whole lot more. 

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Mary Ellis and Harvest House Publisher for providing me with a copy of The Quaker and The Rebel for review. The opinions expressed here are my own, and I received no compensation.