The Outlaw’s Redemption by Renee Ryan ~ My Review

About the book~
Who would guess the most formidable adversary former gunslinger Hunter Mitchell ever faced would be a fiery, violet-eyed female? Now that he’s served his time, Hunter intends to claim the daughter he’s only just discovered. While the law is on his side this time, his daughter’s devoted aunt certainly isn’t. 

Annabeth Silks can’t bear to let a onetime outlaw take little Sarah. As the daughter of an infamous madam, she knows the hardship of an unstable home. But every glimpse of Hunter’s reformed character dares Annabeth to look beyond his past…to the family and future she never thought to find.


My Thoughts~
Hunter Mitchell, a former gunslinger fresh out of a two year prison stint, returns to the brothel where he killed a man, intent on retrieving his daughter from Mattie Silks, the brothel’s owner. Reformed and longing for a chance to start fresh, he won’t allow Annabeth Silks to keep him from the sweet nine-year-old girl he just discovered was his. Annabeth can’t bear the thought of losing her niece, but even tougher for her to imagine, is leaving Charity House to live with Hunter as Sarah’s nanny, especially when her heart longs for more.

Initially, I passed on this book, non-committal about a reformed outlaw for a hero, but I’ve read other books by Renee Ryan and liked them, so I scooped it up. I’m glad I did.

What I liked…


I really appreciated the way Hunter treated Mattie, the brothel owner. By treating Mattie with respect and dignity, Hunter sealed the deal with Annabeth’s heart.


Relationships are complicated. I liked that the author didn’t sugarcoat Annabeth’s relationship with her mother. Ryan portrayed their unusual bond realistically, showing the embarrassment, the shame, the stigma. Annabeth loves her mother, but doesn’t appreciate being labeled a madam’s daughter or the risk of losing her reputation and home. Mattie also loves her daughter but isn’t willing to give up the finer things in life for her daughter’s sake.

I also admired how the author handled Hunter’s past. When he arrives on scene, he’s already reformed. Ryan shows us Hunter’s commitment to being a better man without being preachy.

What I didn’t like so much…

Hunter had actually been married twice, which I found a bit confusing in the beginning and unnecessary.

Overall…

I really enjoyed this story and getting to know Hunter, Annabeth, and Mattie, all strong characters. Great job, Ms. Ryan!

The Outlaw’s Redemption releases on 7/1/13 with Harlequin Love Inspired Historical, but you can preorder it here~ Preorder Link

Disclaimer: Sending a huge thanks to Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review e-copy. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Have you read The Outlaw’s Redemption

Do you agree with my review? What were your thoughts?

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Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer ~ Sharing My Review

About the book~
On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he’s forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he’s haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind—a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna’s outlaw father is dead-set against his daughter courting a preacher?

Sharing My Humble Opinion~
I first met the Archer clan when I read Short Straw Bride. (See my review here.) I loved Short Straw Bride and the author’s unique writing style, so I could hardly wait to get my hands on another one of her books.

Stealing the Preacher picks up with Crock on his way to interview for a preaching position. Certain that God’s will is for him to begin his career ministering to that particular congregation, he’s surprised when a band of outlaws drag him off the train. Not as surprised, or as horrified as Joanna Robbins is when…oops, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. With so many delightful goodies in this book, it’s hard to share a review without giving them away.  

Oh, how I identify with Crock in that sometimes I think I know His will. He’s given me the go-ahead with my plans, wrapped them up all neat and nice and tied with a perfect bow, and then surprises me with a different outcome altogether. This is that kind of story. Does God’s will for Crock entail preaching to the large congregation or ministering to one hurting soul? I enjoyed how this story played out from the first page to the last.  

What an emotionally-charged, fully-developed romance with just the right blend of fun and playful, yet packing a strong and powerful message without “sermonizing.” You never know quite what to expect. On one page I found myself chuckling, and the next, reaching for the tissues. It had everything I hope for when I pick up a book. Karen Witemeyer definitely made the top of my “must read” list with Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher releases on 6/1 with Bethany House Publishers, but you can preorder it here.

Disclaimer: Sending a huge thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

What about you? 
Have your God-inspired plans ever gone astray?
Did His plan unravel differently than you anticipated?
Care to share your story?

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CALLIE by Sharon Srock ~ My Review

The Blurb:

Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.

Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.

Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing. And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.

For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.

My Review:
Callie Stillman is the kinda gal I’d like for a friend. Fiftyish, married, active lifestyle, and a lady who doesn’t give up when God asks her to do something. And God puts a shy, withdrawn little girl in Callie’s path and her heart. Callie, along with her husband, Benton, and her prayer-warrior friends, refuse to let Iris and her sister go without helping. But Callie’s recent assistance for a little boy ended tragically, and fear wars with faith.

If you read my reviews, you know I don’t typically read mainline Christian fiction. I lean towards inspirational romance, but this story line drew me in. And you know what I found? A romance. A cute, sometimes playful-sometimes serious romance between Callie and her husband, Benton. And a romance between God and His children. God loves us, and along with an invitation for us to love Him in return, He offers healing for fractured relationships. Callie is not for readers who enjoy light reading or a few hours of entertainment. It delivers a weighty message of forgiveness and healing with a powerful wallop.

Disclosure: I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review.

Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s writing credits include numerous poems and short stories published in science fiction fanzines.