On My Kindle ~ Tried & True by Mary Connealy

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Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future? 

Sharing my thoughts~

Civil War veteran Kylie is tired of keeping up the charade of dressing as a man, part of her pa’s crazy scheme to honor her late brother’s memory. The youngest of three sisters, Kylie’s determined to fulfill the three remaining years left to homestead, then she plans to sell her place to her pa and move closer to civilization. But when land agent Aaron Masterson rescues her from a near fatal accident and discovers the woman underneath the britches, he refuses to keep her secret. 

Aaron Masterson left for the war thinking his family was safe at home. When he returned and found them all dead and hatred destroying what was left of his neighborhood, he heads west to start a new life in Aspen Ridge, leaving his idyllic childhood home behind, along with a best friend who’d served on the opposite side of the war and who blamed him for his family’s deaths.

Romance between Aaron and Kylie blossoms quickly, and I enjoyed the flirty banter.

“Aaron, we can’t be kissing like that.” Her eyes flickered to his lips.“There are a lot of ways to kiss. If you don’t think we should be kissing like that, we could keep trying until we find a way you like.”

Fast reading suspense is balanced with trademark humorous scenes, and Tried & True also tackles some tough topics like: What lengths will we go to please our parents? Loving and praying for our enemies

“There might be places in the Bible that men can debate,” Kylie said. “Places hard to understand, and folks differ on the meaning. But not when it comes to hate. It isn’t allowed. ‘Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.”  

Tried & True might be one of my favorite Connealy books! I’m not sure which sister’s story will be next, but I can’t wait to read it!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing Tried & True and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

The Quaker and The Rebel by Mary Ellis~My Review

The Quaker and the Rebel
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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. 

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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