Excited about Reading: A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

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The Cover Story~

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

Sharing my takeaway~
Sitting down to read a Karen Witemeyer book is like settling back on the couch and chatting with a friend or loved one who I haven’t seen in awhile over a cup of coffee. Exciting, comfortable, and over way too soon!

What a great cast of characters! Charlotte, aka Miss Lottie, former headmistress who creates her own family of abandoned students. Lily, an orphan entrusted to her care by Lily’s mother, Lottie’s best friend. Stephen, left behind by parents who travel extensively in Europe, and John, an orphan with musical gifts. Stone calls himself a “retriever,” hired by Lily’s grandfather to bring her back. And the gnome gave me laughing fits!

The plot moves along at a fast clip. Romancing man-shy Charlotte takes a little longer, but the sigh-worthy hero vows not to give up. A gentle faith thread addresses topics like discerning God’s path for our lives and choosing joy over our circumstances, and music lovers will appreciate the musical theme. A Worthy Pursuit is definitely worthy of a few hours of your time. 🙂

Disclaimer: Sending my thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the privilege of reading and reviewing A Worthy Pursuit. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. I was in no way compensated for my review.

Excited about Reading: Now & Forever by Mary Connealy

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The Cover Story ~

Saddle up for romance and adventure with the Wilde sisters!

Shannon Wilde is the middle sister–and the one who loves animals. She’s established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine…until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!

Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon’s land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn’t count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad–and trying to hurt the woman he’s falling in love with sets off something even he never expected. 

Sharing my takeaway ~
I just love Connealy’s kick-em-in-the-teeth, explosive, laugh-out-loud openings scenes! They never fail to yank me right into the story. By the end of the first chapter, my palms are sweaty and hubby’s asking what is so funny. Now & Forever was no different.  

Circumstances led Shannon and Tucker to an abrupt wedding shortly into the book, but the romance didn’t stop there. No, it progressed until the very last page, sweet, funny and oh-so-tender. There was never any doubt about their love for each other. They had plenty of obstacles, though, to keep me turning pages.

Nightmares plague Shannon and at one point she questions where God was during the war. Tucker’s faith is steadfast and sure, and I like how he responded without judgment, by suggesting that she bring her doubts to God and not to hide them, that God’s big enough to handle our doubts.

I thought Tried & True, the first book in the Wild at Heart series featuring Kylie and Aaron, might’ve been my favorite Connealy book, but I was wrong. Now & Forever took its place, but that seems to happen with every one of her books. Both books can be read as stand alone, but trust me and just start with the first one. You won’t be sorry! Contemporary and historical romance readers alike will enjoy Now & Forever. Set aside a few hours to read it, though, because you won’t be able to put it down! 

Disclaimer: Sending a big thanks to NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group/Bethany House Publishers for the privilege of reviewing Now & Forever. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Excited about Reading: Married ’til Monday by Denise Hunter

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With a big anniversary party in the works for her parents, Ryan will pretend to be Abby’s husband for just one last weekend.

The Cover Story~ 
Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive 2-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.

Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.

Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Seabrook, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. Besides, he only wants to check in with his best friend from college—her cousin Beau, who just lost his dad. It’s just a one-week road-trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong?

My takeaway~
Yeah. What could go wrong? lol.

“There’s no if. I’ll be back next Monday, and everything will be exactly like it is now. You’ll see.”

I was soooo looking forward to Ryan’s story after reading all the other books in the Chapel Springs series. The poor guy has been pining for his ex-wife, Abby, and I couldn’t wait to hear their story. This restoration romance didn’t disappoint!

Full of angst, the remnants of a emotionally and physically abusive childhood:

It’s not true. Nothing he said is true. I’m not stupid. I’m not worthless. I’m not unlovable.

A faith thread that asks some tough questions:
 Thank You, God, he’d said. Where was God now? And how come He only got credit for the good stuff?

Sprinkled with light, playful moments like this:

She suddenly realized it had been quiet a moment. Her eyes shot up to find him watching her, gun lowered. She wiped the appreciation from her face. “Not bad,” she said, stepping up to take her turn.
He smirked. “My aim or…?”
“Your aim, smart aleck.” She reloaded the gun, her face heating.
“If I didn’t know any better, Abby McKinley, I’d think you were checking out my form.”

Married ’til Monday has all the components that a romance lover craves, including a hero that digs deeper than the exterior to reveal a soft, hurting woman underneath the tough, you-don’t-want-to-love-me, I’ve-got-too-much-baggage facade. Save a chunk of time because you won’t want to put this gem down!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thanks to NetGalley, Thomas Nelson Fiction and Denise Hunter for the privilege of reviewing Married ’til Monday. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.