#BookReview: A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin

Happy 2019! Wow, how did that happen?

Every year before Christmas, I have the best intentions to get all my shopping and wrapping done early so that I can kick back in front of the fireplace and finally make a dent in my To Be Read stack. And every year…

I fail.

Miserably.

Somehow, I get sucked into watching gobs of Hallmark movies. Was anybody else disappointed with this year’s offerings? I should have opted to read.

Maybe next year.

Anyway, I was super excited to get my hands on this gem right after Christmas.

book cover A Love Most Worthy lady with apron and red hair

Wowza, isn’t it gorgeous? And the story inside is just as appealing as the cover. Let’s get started!

Here’s the blurb:

She didn’t know which was colder, an Arctic winter or her new husband’s heart. (Whoa! Talk about a tease! Sandra could’ve left off the rest. I was hooked from the first sentence!)

Hallie Russell believes life should be lived to the fullest. For that reason, she sails to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska to take her cousin’s place as the mail-order bride of a respected shopkeeper. But when her aloof husband’s wedding-night announcement rocks her plans for their marriage, Hallie sees her desire for a family to call her own vanish as quickly as the dreams of hopeful miners.

Tragedy led Rance Preston to regret his rowdy ways and open a general store for the miners in Nome. He’s content in his bachelorhood, but his two orphaned nephews deserve a proper and serious-minded mother. Duped once by a vivacious female, he’s determined to never again let his heart overrule his head…until the high spirits of his new bride threaten his resolve.

When a misunderstanding comes to light, will they allow the gale force winds of insecurity to destroy what they each need most?

My thoughts…

The hero’s angst in the first few lines drew me into this story immediately! Now a committed guardian of his two young nephews, Rance Preston waits on the beach for the mail order bride who would care for the youngsters while he manages the store. Romance isn’t part of his marriage agenda (You can read the book to find out why!) unlike the heroine who craves a proper family. The author did a fabulous job of showing the hero’s mixture of dread and acceptance and the heroine’s determination and grit to love her husband and his nephews before she steps a foot on shore in Nome, Alaska. Rance’s doubt almost cost them everything but considering his past experience, f found his reactions understandable. Besides, how could I not admire and respect him? He gave up much to care for these two boys and only wanted what was best for them. If I had lived during that time period, I would’ve wanted Hallie for a best friend. The setting on the pages came alive, and I got a real sense of the mixture of excitement and desperation of the gold panners.

Normally, I lose interest in historicals because of the voluminous page count but A Love Most Worthy was short enough to hold my interest, yet long enough to satisfy. The plot, combined with a natural faith element that weaved organically through the story, kept me turning pages. Overall, I’m thrilled that this particular book kicked off my reading this year!

A Love Most Worthy releases on February 5, but don’t wait! Pre-order your copy for only $.99 by clicking here, and this sweet gem will be waiting in your kindle inbox that Tuesday morning. It’s that easy. Happy reading!

What were some of your favorite reads in 2018?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of A Love Most Worthy from the author without any mention or expectation of a review. Other than the free copy of this ebook, I was not compensated, and this review represents my fair and unbiased opinion.

Excited about Reading: A Reluctant Melody by Sandra Ardoin

Excited about Reading

Click Book Cover for Amazon Link

A Reluctant Melody has been on my TBR list since it released in January. But my reading has downshifted significantly lately, and I just found it on my kindle again. Yay! If you enjoy inspirational historical romances with a thread of intrigue, you’re in for a treat! But you might want to read The Yuletide Angel first. Not that it’s a requirement to enjoy A Reluctant Melody, but Angel gives you insight into Kit. And who doesn’t love a glimmer of Christmas in the middle of summer? Just sayin’. 🙂

Here’s a little about the book first.

The Cover Story~

Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.

A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.

Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?

Let’s Chat~

Joanna Stewart finds solace playing the piano. Kit Barnes used to find comfort in a bottle, but now his faith guides his life and work. Along with a pastor partner, Kit plans to buy and renovate a house to accommodate other recovering alcoholics. Joanna’s house is perfect for their mission, and Kit might have convinced Joanna to sell her property, except for this…

She would pay into eternity for her lapse in judgment, for loving a man who used her and tossed her aside. Hadn’t her father said as much before he cast her out of his house? If Papa were her this minute, he would remind her again of the sin she’d committed, and the mercy she would never find from the almighty and judgment-prone Creator.

Whoa! You can imagine Joanna’s reaction upon seeing Kit again and the conflict that oozed from the pages! With a benefactor holding a ticking clock, though, Kit had no choice but to convince Joanna to sell. Her continued refusals made him wonder if he hadn’t ran ahead of the Lord’s will. Often, I worry the same thing in my own life.

Favorite quote: God doesn’t demand perfection from us first, Jo. He perfects us through our faith in Christ.”

A sprinkling of historical tidbits, a trail of intrigue, and the abundance of spiritual nuggets pulled me in every chance I got to read. While I suspected some elements, a few twists surprised me. I appreciated the real battle Kit waged over his addiction, even after being saved, and how his struggle wasn’t easy or glossed over. I generally prefer more sizzle in my romance reads, but because of their disastrous past and the constraints of the time period, I understand the restraint. Overall, though, A Reluctant Melody is a book I will keep in my library, just  to reread and savor those spiritual goodies all over again.

TO PONDER: When someone I know struggles with consequences of poor choices, do I extend grace or judgment? Do I offer a listening ear or a cold heart? Am I a help or a hindrance? 

Disclaimer: I purchased my own copy of A Reluctant Melody. This review is my fair and unbiased opinion, and I was in no way compensated.

On My Kindle ~ The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin

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Sharing my review
What a fun premise! A Good Samaritan makes weekly deliveries during the weeks leading up to Christmas, delivering precious supplies to the needy in the community, and the next door neighbor who secretly loves her catches her in the act. 

Violet Madison considers herself plain and socially inept, but this small act of kindness emboldens her. Hugh Barnes sees beauty and a kind heart in Violet, and he determines to protect her during her clandestine missions. It was neat to see how Violet and Hugh grew over the course of the story, Violet morphing from shy and quiet to bold and empowered and Hugh dealing with past hurts inflicted by his brother.

“…what is it you want?”

Kit settled into the nearest chair, crossed his legs, and propped his hat on his knee. After a moment of silence, he said, “Forgiveness.”

We discussed this situation five years ago. You’re forgiven.” Even as he spoke, Hugh recognized the statement as a lie. Forgiving his brother meant a renewal of their relationship.

Haven’t we all experienced a toxic family member, someone who hurts us repeatedly with their vicious zingers whether with words or deeds? This hit home for me, so I was glad to see that Kit had truly changed. Even so, I appreciated that their relationship wasn’t restored immediately and that it took Hugh a little while to come to grips with his brother’s new behavior.

The Yuletide Angel was a quick read with a clever plot and spiritual depth that kept me turning pages. For my taste, I would have liked more romantic interludes (read kissing) between Hugh and Violet, but I understand that society in the late 1800’s didn’t permit much of that. 🙂 Overall, The Yuletide Angel was a pleasant way to spend a couple hours, and a great read for all seasons.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author for allowing me the privilege of reviewing The Yuletide Angel 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.