My Review of CLAIMING HIS HEART by Tanya Hanson

Claiming His Heart
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About the book: Caught between a noose and a gold mine cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything within his power to prove his outlaw brother’s innocence…even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. Tulsa needs every nugget and flake he can pull from beautiful Charmlee’s worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife! Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last disreputable outsider who passed through her peaceful California valley months ago. She has no desire and no choice but to wed the handsome stranger who arrives, bearing a mysterious letter that will change both their lives forever. Charmlee and Tull each have plans of their own. He’s set on raising quick money to save his brother’s life—a secret he isn’t going to share. She’s determined to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatment for her own brother. Marriage would put an end to the plans they’ve each worked so hard for, but is there a bigger dream for the future ahead that they can’t see? Trusting comes hard for them both, but Charmlee realizes it’s the only way to stake her claim on what’s really important— CLAIMING HIS HEART.

Sharing my thoughts:

“Something warm and soft touched Tull head to toe. Like somebody had dripped honey down his back. This picture of friends helping out when they had tasks and busy days of their own was no mirage at all. After tending Reno for who knew how long, Miz Trudy still remained to help Charmlee even as Zeal expected a large shipment. And Miz Maudie, herself a new bride, had a homestead and husband out at the Pine Tree mine.

Yet, here they were. True community…A fine little town of good folks, this Spiggleville, this out-of-the-way settlement long used up, but not used up at all.”

Claiming His Heart transports you back to the gold rush days in California, to a tight-knit mining community called Spiggleville. Neighborly folks all come together to help each other out when times get tough, and believe me, things get plenty rough in this story. You’ll be drawn in and won’t want to leave!

Tull’s pa named all his kids after places like Tulsa, Bronx, Reno and Charlotte. Yep. You read that correctly. A twist I didn’t see coming, and it’s not what you’re thinking. You’ll have to read the book to figure that one out. 🙂 

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, 
in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”
“Since then, Tull did fear. Never trusted. Never prayed.”
Both Tull and Charmlee reminisce on this verse as the tragedies keep piling up. Hanson does a great job keeping you furiously flipping pages, ramping up the conflict, leaving you wondering if Charm and Tull will ever cast aside their past hurts and finally open up and trust God and each other. Claiming His Heart kept me reading through all the busyness of the Christmas season. It’s the perfect book to curl up with in front of a crackling fire, a sweet romance with enough kindling to warm you more than the fire. But when summer rolls around, it should also be the first book you pack to take to the beach!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to the author, Tanya Hanson, and Prairie Rose Publications for providing me with a review copy of Claiming His Heart. The opinions expressed here are my own, and I received no compensation.

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Have you read WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY by Myra Johnson?

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About the book~
Annemarie Kendall is overjoyed when the armistice is signed and the Great War comes to an end. Her fiancé, Lieutenant Gilbert Ballard, is coming home, and though he is wounded, she is excited to start their life together. But when he arrives, her dreams are dashed when she learns Gilbert is suffering from headaches, depression, and an addiction to pain killers. This is not the man she had planned to marry. After serving in the trenches, Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary is barely holding onto his faith. Putting up a brave front as he ministers to the injured soldiers at the hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he befriends Gilbert and eventually falls for Annemarie. While Annemarie tries to sort out her confused feelings about the two men in her life, she witnesses firsthand the bitterness and hurt they both hold within. Who will she choose? Will she have the courage to follow her heart and become the woman God intended her to be? As the world emerges from the shadow of war, Annemarie clings to her faith as she wonders if her future holds the hope, happiness, and love for which she so desperately longs.

Sharing my thoughts~
Ceramist Annemarie Kendall couldn’t be happier when WWI comes to an end and her fiance is on his way home, but from his recent letters, she knows the war’s changed him. What she doesn’t know is if he’ll still love her and want to marry her. After an injury that leaves him feeling dependent and less masculine, Lieutenant Gilbert Ballard isn’t sure he want to return home to Hot Springs. Bitter and in constant pain, the last pill he wants to swallow is pity on his fiance’s face. 

Johnson sets up a robust conflict when Gilbert talks to Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary about his dilemma over Annemarie while on the ship headed home.

“He studied the girl in the portrait and realized with sudden certainty that if things were different–if he were coming home to a woman like Annemarie–he’d fight harder for her love than any doughboy ever fought on the Western Front.”

After hearing Gilbert’s intentions, how can Samuel help but fall a little in love with Annemarie before he ever sets eyes on her? And then when he meets her, she’s more lovely and sweet than he imagined. But Samuel’s suffering his own crisis, a result of the war. 

“If he could just be certain God still listened. If he dared to hope the doors of heaven hadn’t been barred against him for eternity.”

Gilbert tends to be a bit cranky at times, but in my book, he’s still a hero because of the pain he’s in and the suffering he endured. Samuel refuses to move in on Gilbert’s territory, and insists that Gilbert not make any foolish, rash decisions. I won’t tell you which man I was rooting for. You can make your own choice. But I will admit to being very satisfied with the ending. 🙂

While this story is fictional, the characterization was so life-like and the conflict so believable. I can imagine similar scenarios happening back then, even now. Men and women still return home from war, scarred emotionally and physically. 

While I’m not a huge history buff, I enjoyed how the author tucked in little nuggets of historical goodies, like how people conserved food during World War I. That, plus the tidbits about Hot Springs and the nice sub-plot that ran through the book made the story so rich and complex.

Although this book is a hefty 338 pages, I finished it in only a couple sittings. After being forced to put it down the first time (you know, sleep, work, life…), I wasn’t going to put it down again until I found out who won Annemarie’s heart. When the Clouds Roll By is a winner, and I’m excited that there’s another two books in the series!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thanks to Myra Johnson, Abingdon Press and NetGalley for sending me an advance review copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased opinion. This review is my opinion, and I received no compensation.
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LOTS to LOVE about AMBERLY by Mary Elizabeth Hall

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Amberly, The Crestmere Series, Book 1
In a world that might have been… 
Snatched by coldblooded enemies as a declaration of war, Eleanor Williamston finds herself caught in a deadly snare-miles from home and lost in the wilderness. Her heart is drawn to the handsome palace guardsman who rescues her, but is torn when he challenges her political ideals-and then reveals something he’s kept hidden that will make her choice even more difficult. Marsten longs for a God-fearing wife, but cannot marry the lady he desires. The sassy young schoolteacher he rescues catches his eye, but he fears she’ll turn out to be like the beautiful women who’ve broken his trust in the past. Journey with them through the spectacular but treacherous Aspian Mountains while they evade enemy pursuit and wrestle through the challenges of wilderness and budding love, only to run headlong into Ellie’s anti-royalist family-and a whole new onslaught of foes. 

Sharing my thoughts~

“I’m beginning to wonder if you were truly abducted,” he chided again, “or just given away.”

Fast-paced, flirty dialogue and wonderfully vivid descriptions will whirl you away into the world of Bretalia.

“Behind them, pale violet mountains marched toward the distant horizon, and crows cawed while they circled. Mist rose in swirling ribbons from the water. Wildflowers swayed in a gentle breeze which stirred along the rocky bank, sending forth a fresh, earthy scent.”

When Marsten rescues Eleanor Williamston from an evil Norlander’s clutches, Eleanor can’t help but fall in love with the handsome royal guardsman. But as the daughter of Amberly’s mayor, an anti-royalist and Freedom Falcon leader, she’d grown up believing Bretalia would be better off without the Crown’s rule. Marsten strives to convince her that God ordained monarchy for her beloved country. She debates revealing her identity, and Marsten is keeping a few secrets of his own.

“Honor God through adversity–He’ll bless you for it…Life is but a breath–preparation for the next.”

Simple spiritual sentiments weaved throughout the story, not overbearing or preachy, but with gentleness and love, even as Marsten and Eleanor debate politics.

Although I felt the declaration of love occurred a bit too soon, that didn’t mean the conflict ended or that the romance resolved. No, the author just ramped up the conflict, all the way to the last page!

Fast and furious, with a compelling plot to keep your turning pages, Amberly is a great read for anytime of the day or year!

Disclosure: I purchased this book. All opinions in this review are my own, and I received no compensation.

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