September Reviews Wrap Up

And I thought August was my busiest review month yet, I did almost as many reviews during September with 15 reviews!

I'm really going to be cutting back on the Christian fiction titles, I have been disappointed by the storytelling in a lot of them, so I'm going to stick with authors I know, publishers I really like (Revell, you're awesome!), or recommendations from fellow bloggers with similar tastes (hi, Renee!). I'm also cutting back on Historical Fiction (not YA or historical romances though, never!) unless I know it won't be too harsh or graphic with the violence.

So hopefully, my blog will be getting back to it's main focus of Young Adult reviews and Historical Romance reviews-yay!! Honestly, I'd love to read more of both, but I'm just not offered that many of my favorite genres for review.

So here are my reviews from the past month, in case you missed any!

"Lady of the English" Review

"Lady of the English"
by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: Sep 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

Summary from  

Royal wives and royal widows, Queen Adeliza and her stepdaughter, Empress Matilda, are the only two women to be titled "Lady of the English," a title that does not come cheap. Adeliza, widowed queen and peacemaker, is married to a warrior who supports Stephen, grandson of the Conqueror. Matilda, daughter of the last king and a fierce fighter, is determined to win her inheritance against all odds and despite all men, including Stephen. Both are women who, in their different ways, will stand and fight for what they know is right. But for Matilda, pride comes before a fall. And for Adeliza, even the deepest love is no proof against fate.

My Review:

For some reason, perhaps because I've enjoyed Chadwick's other books, I feel the need to apologize for my review of this one. I loved "For the King's Favor", partially because it was 'historical fiction' that was also very romantic. Ida and Roger's love story was a huge part of the book and it was told with sensitivity. I also enjoyed "To Defy a King", so I thought Chadwick was one of the few historical fiction authors who didn't use disturbing, loveless sex scenes and abuse for shock value. 

In just the first 100 pages, there was graphic domestic abuse and three of these unsettling bedroom scenes. A book this harsh just isn't for me, I need a more romantic view of things.

I still hold a spot for "For the King's Favor on my keeper shelf, but it might be time for me to part ways with this author.

Bottom Line: A harsh view of medieval days in a grittier style than I had seen from this author before. 

Reader Question: Why are these scenes so prevalent in historical fiction? Do these scenes bother anyone else? I'm sticking with YA historicals and historical romances for awhile just to be safe. 

"Veiled Rose" Review

"Veiled Rose"
by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: July 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

My Review:

I've seen many great reviews of this series, but I have to be honest and say that I just didn't "get it." I think it hindered my reading that I didn't read the first book, but the story was just way too cryptic for my tastes. I felt like I wandered through the book in a fog that made no sense. I wanted at least one straight answer to my many questions.

I liked Leo's character and his growth. I especially liked that the author started to call him by his full name, "Lionheart", when he really became a man instead of a boy. However, I felt off-balance the whole time by his three love interests. The girl that was in the story the least, whom we knew the least about, was the girl that he was in love with. This really confused me and I didn't feel connected to her at all.

I actually liked how complex Daylily's character was, even if she wasn't always likable. At least the reader could understand her feelings and she had some redeeming moments where she did the right thing. I also loved Beana, the goat. She was a great mentor and gave a lot of guidance.

The lack of happily ever after and the confusion I felt even at the end contributed to why I didn't enjoy the book as much as I had hoped.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 2/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 3/5

Bottom Line: I'm glad this book has so many great reviews, but it wasn't for me. I grew tired of the mixed messages and trying to decipher even the smallest things about the story.

Waiting on Wednesday (87)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released!!

This week I chose:

by Cayla Kluver
Harlequin Teen
Release Date: Feb 28, 2012

The following description is from

Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....

I haven't read the first book in this series yet, but the sequel looks so amazing too! And the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

What are you waiting for this week???

"The Warrior Sheep Go West" Review

"The Warrior Sheep Go West" 
by Christine and Christopher Russell

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: Aug 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

When a strange monster called Red Tongue threatens rams, ewes, and lambs everywhere, the Warrior Sheep spring into action.
Now the five bravest sheep in the eweniverse must hoof it to Las Vegas to stop Red Tongue's rampage.
And so the Warrior Sheep Go West.
Can the warriors stop the mystery monster before it's too late?

My Review:

This book was so adorable! I really think kids are going to love this book. You can tell the authors have experience writing for tv because the story is so fast paced, just like a tv show.

All of the sheep have adorable personalities, but I have to say my favorite was Wills-the littlest and the smartest. He watched a lot of tv with his owner so knew about everything!

I liked that the sheep weren't so personified that they did things like drive a car. They hitched a ride or just snuck onto a bus. They only talked to each other, humans couldn't understand them. And the villain, Red Tongue, has a perfectly rational and funny explanation.

There was another villain besides Red Tongue, and sometimes her storyline got a little slow. But I never care much for the villain's point of view, so it might not bother others like it bothered me.

I think the book will appeal equally to boys and girls because there are great characters of both genders represented.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: n/a

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: I would recommend giving this fun-filled adventure to any elementary schoolers in your life, and I think you will overhear lots of laughter as they read it.

Teaser Tuesday (49)

Yay for "Teaser Tuesday" from MizB of Should be Reading!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser Tuesday pick:

" Lionheart gazed at a reflection he hardly recognized; he gazed into a man's face.  "

p 310 "Veiled Rose" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

"Lord and Lady Spy" Review

"Lord and Lady Spy"
by Shana Galen

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: Sept 1, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Lord Adrian and Lady Bridget Smythe have the picture perfect high society marriage. Little does the ton know that each is one of England's most preeminent spies- with their secret identities guarded even from each other. But what are secret agents to do when the spying game is over and they suddenly discover a whole new spark in each other?

My Review:

I have never seen the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", because I don't care for the actors, so I don't know how closely the book follows the movie. But I did get a kick out of the similarities in the book cover and movie poster, and the fact that their last name was Smythe. Lord and Lady Smythe would have been a cute title, too.

I really liked the characters and their background. I wouldn't have minded if they hadn't discovered each other's identity for a longer period of time. I think there could have been some fun story lines if they hadn't found out so quickly. I loved the way they hid their real personalities from the world and each other. Adrian was overly polite and predictable to the point of being slightly boring, and Bridget had adopted a mousy, drab persona and appearance. 

It made perfect sense for their marriage to be so distant because they had suffered through three miscarriages. It was written in a totally understandable way that this had destroyed their marriage and made them into strangers. I really liked their emotional growth as a couple but a lot of times I felt like it was cheapened by all of the physical growth. I was put off by how many cheesy 'love scenes' there were, and if not for over-doing this aspect, I think I would have loved the book.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5

Setting: 3/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: I would have liked for Lord and Lady Smythe's relationship to be more developed aside from the physical, but otherwise, this was a fun Regency spin on "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

"After Obsession" Review

"After Obsession"
by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: Sept 13, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Aimee and Alan have secrets. Both teens have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can't stop their secrets from spilling out. Strange things have been happening lately, and they both feel that something-or someone- is haunting them. They're wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it's neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. It's Alan's cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life-and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.

Filled with heart-pounding romance, paranormal activity, and rich teen characters to love-and introducing an exciting new YA voice, Steven Wedel-this novel is exactly what Carrie Jones fans have been waiting for. Meet your next obsession.

My Review:

This book was a scary mystery set in a small town high school. It read a lot like 'regular' contemporary YA fiction, yet there were a lot of scary and paranormal YA elements too.

Honestly, most people probably won't find this book as scary as I did, but I'm really not a fan of reading about possession or exorcisms. To others, the book will probably be 'just creepy.' I honestly hadn't read the blurb closely enough to realize it was about possession, or I would have passed on the book for that reason. But I assumed (shame on me) this was another vamp/witch/werewolf/zombie paranormal.

It wasn't just Courtney who felt the effects of the possession, the townspeople were slowly becoming more and more evil. Their bad sides were becoming more magnified everyday. This added another very scary element of the story-domestic abuse.

The story was told in alternating points of view, one chapter in Aimee's voice, the next in Alan's voice. I think this made the book read very quickly. Alan's character was Native American and I enjoyed reading abut the supernatural parts of his heritage.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 3/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line:A good choice for fans of YA paranaormals, but only if you're not bothered by demons and possessions.

Here's a look at the book trailer:

In My Mailbox (86)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

for review:

"There You'll Find Me" by Jenny B. Jones

 I've heard such great things about this book!

"A Lawman's Christmas" by Linda Lael Miller

"A Necessary Deception" by Laurie Alice Eakes

"A Passion Most Pure" by Julie Lessman

This one was a bit of a mix up, I'll be receiving the author's newest book also, but still, I've heard great things about this book too :)


"Stork" by Wendy Delsol
This has been on my to read list for so long!

What did you receive in your mailbox this week???

"Out of Control" Review

"Out of Control" 
by Mary Connealy

Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: Aug 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father's homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe--until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out.Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family's cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch--and Rafe's controlling ways--as soon as they were able. He's haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn't expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels--or to be forced to kiss her!
Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he's ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?

My Review:

A self-admitted control freak like Rafe isn't really my favorite type of hero. However, he was written in an honest, sympathetic way which made him interesting to read about. At least he knew he had a problem with controlling others and was sorry that he'd run off his brothers because of it. It was interesting to see his flaws written about so openly.

I was more of a fan of Rafe's brother, Ethan. Ethan was more happy-go-lucky and he grinned so much that it was irritating to the other characters. It was great to see his affection grow for Julia's stepmother, Audra. Seeing Audra's baby, Maggie, latch onto Ethan as a father was both sweet and funny.

The romance between Rafe and Julia was slightly lackluster to me. Also, there was too much story about the cave when I wanted to know more about the characters instead. Thank goodness for Audra, Ethan, and Seth. The secondary characters really brightened up this story for me.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 3/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: A western romance where the secondary characters really shine. 

"Never Been Bit" Review

"Never Been Bit"
by Lydia Dare

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: Sept 1, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Lydia Dare's paranormal historical romances feature the hottest theme in paranormal combined with the most popular time period in historical romance. This is the third in a trilogy of vampire Regency romances, where the glittering world of English high society is a playground for the rich, titled, and undead.
Vampire Alec McQuarrie's heart was broken long before it stopped beating. Now Alec's after-life is an endless search for pleasure. Young witch Sorcha Ferguson has come to London in search of a man, beast-or even a blood sucker-of her very own...

My Review:

"Never Been Bit" was my favorite book by this author yet. All of the characters, the leads and the secondary characters, were really developed here. I really believed Alec and Sorcha's love story.

I was already a fan of Alec and Sorcha from the previous books in the series. They are such a contrast in good and bad. Sorcha was almost annoyingly good, and Alec had become very bad since being turned into a vampire. I almost wanted the authors to address more about how "bad" Alec had become because his personality seemed to be much darker in the previous book.

The secondary characters are so much fun to read about in this installment. Most of the characters have had their own books in the series, and it seemed like everyone had returned for this book. The characters and authors poke fun at the supporting players, often pointing out their flaws for a friendly laugh.

I love the paranormal element in the book because it never gets too violent or crass. I like supernatural elements in stories, but most non-YA paranormal romance is too harsh for me. This is the perfect amount of paranormal for my tastes.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: A fun, romantic historical with a cast of funny and heartfelt characters. Lydia Dare's best book yet!

Waiting on Wednesday (86)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released!!

This week I chose:

"The Queen of Kentucky"
by Alecia Whitaker
Release Date: Jan 2, 2012

The following description is from

Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would preferred to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer's daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small town high school. She trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new "sophisticated" clothes and somehow manages to secure a tenuous spot at the cool kids table. She's on top of the world, even though her best friend and the boy next door Luke says he misses "plain old Ricki Jo."
Caught between being a country girl and wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn't care what people think and who wouldn't let a good-looking guy walk all over her. It takes a serious incident out on Luke's farm for Ricki Jo to realize that being a true friend is more important than being popular.

As soon as I saw this one on Juju's page last week, I knew I had to read it! It looks so cute!! Love the title and the cover, too:)

What are you waiting for this week???

"A Lady's Lesson in Scandal" Review

"A Lady's Lesson in Scandal"
by Meredith Duran

Publisher: Pocket Star
Release Date: June 28, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from  


When Nell Whitby breaks into an earl's house on a midnight quest for revenge, she finds her pistol pointed at the wrong man—one handsome as sin and naked as the day he was born. Pity he's a lunatic. He thinks her a missing heiress, but more to the point, he'll help her escape the slums and right a grave injustice. Not a bad bargain. All she has to do is marry him.


A rake of the first order, Simon St. Maur spent his restless youth burning every bridge he crossed. When he inherits an earldom without a single penny attached to it, he sees a chance to start over—provided he can find an heiress to fund his efforts. But his wicked reputation means courtship will be difficult—until fate sends him the most notorious missing heiress in history. All he needs now is to make her into a lady and keep himself from making the only mistake that could ruin everything: falling in love....

My Review:

At first this book seemed like it was just another rags to riches tale with very little romance. But once the hero and heroine started to fall in love, this story flew off the charts! The romance was so intense, and there were so many obstacles for this couple to overcome, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

I really liked Simon, he was more complex than some heroes are in historical romances. He wasn't a stereotype at all, and he didn't always make the most flawless decisions. All of this made his character much more believable.

Nell's gutter-snipe slang was a little over the top at first. And I felt like her "street urchin becomes heiress" tale was taking over the story instead of letting the romance have center stage. But towards the end, I had to cut her some slack because her future was in a really precarious position.

I love the almost melodramatic tone of the romance. Their all-consuming love is over the top but it works so well in Duran's writing style, I couldn't get enough.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: This is an intense, brooding story of true love winning out in spite of money or class differences.

Teaser Tuesday (48)

Yay for "Teaser Tuesday" from MizB of Should be Reading!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser Tuesday pick:

" He wasn't all that thrilled to be acquiring the skill of doing chores with a baby in tow, but he had to admit he was learning the way of it.  "

p 169 "Out of Control" by Mary Connealy

"A Lancaster County Christmas" Review

"A Lancaster County Christmas"
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell
Release Date: Sept 1, 2011 
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Jaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do--in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they've drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits. Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for--news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn't likely to become a reality.
Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home--and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?
With her trademark plot twists and attention to detail, Suzanne Woods Fisher offers readers a beautiful Christmas story of love, forgiveness, and what truly matters in life.

My Review:

"A Lancaster County Christmas" is such a heartwarming holiday story, I recommend to everyone as a warm fuzzy read during the Christmas season. The holidays are a time for heartwarming stories, and this book is nearly perfect for this time of year.

There are so many lovingly crafted characters in the story. you're sure to be able to identify with someone. My favorite character was Zach, Mattie's teenage cousin who struggled with wanting to stay with his family and his desire to see the world outside of their Amish community.

Jaime was almost too selfish for words, but even she grew on me. Her relationship with CJ was told honestly and with care. It was also interesting to see how she would handle Zach's crush on her.

Mattie and Sol's son, Danny, perfectly rounded out the story and the lovable characters.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: A wonderful, warm and funny holiday story with a memorable cast of characters.

"Pirate of My Heart" Mini Review

"Pirate of My Heart"
by Jamie Carie

Publisher: B&H Fiction
Release Date: Sept 1, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher and First Wild Card Tours

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.

My Mini Review:

I had high hopes for this book, the cover looks so exciting, and the title sounds like a great adventure as well. However, this book read more like an outline or very first draft of an exciting story. The plot and characters were pretty interesting, but they just weren't developed. Everything happened really abruptly, without a lot of explanation. Also, the book was written in an elementary fashion, there wasn't a lot happening below the surface.

The plot that held my attention the most had to do with Angelene (I've never seen the name spelled this way before), the other woman vying for Dorian's attentions. I liked seeing Kendra's jealousy come out, and right fully so, haha!  But it was never taken too far, you could always tell Dorian saw Angelene only as a hassle and never as any threat to his relationship with Kendra.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5

Setting: 3/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 3/5

Bottom Line: This book has the bare bones of a good story, but needs to be developed a lot more to make it great.

In My Mailbox (85)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.

contest wins:

"The Fox Inheritance" by Mary E. Pearson (audiobook)
won from The Minding Spot and publisher

"Q: A Novel" by Evan Mandery 

won from Reviews from the Heart and publisher
for review:
"Ella Finds Love Again" by Jerry S. Eicher

"The Warrior Sheep Go West" by Christine & Christopher Russell

What did you receive in your mailbox this week???

"Between" Review

by Jessica Warman

Publisher: Walker & Company
Release Date: Aug 2, 2011 
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from  

Elizabeth Valchar--pretty, popular, and rich--wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday on the yacht where she'd been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead.

She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death. She's also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.

In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn't abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she'd been running much more than normal, and that she'd all but stopped eating. Liz's mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried Liz was following in her mother's footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out. . . .

From critically acclaimed author Jessica Warman comes a shocking mystery, a heartbreaking character study, and ultimately a hopeful tale of redemption, love, and letting go.

My Review:

This book is definitely disturbing, but it's also one of the only mysteries that has held my attention up the very end. 

I wanted to read this story  way past my bedtime, it was such a page-turner. It really wasn't until there were only 100 pages left that realization started to hit and I was able to put most of the pieces together.

Sometimes the drug use got a little old. The book had a wishy-washy stance on whether drugs are bad or just something the cool kids do. It was was also hard to read about all of Liz's parents' marital problems. It's sad to see a teenager having to worry about such an adult drama.

I really don't want to go into a lot of detail in my review because I want anyone who reads it to be able to uncover all of the subtle hints gradually like i did.

I always think it's interesting to see that even the "popular" kids at school have many layers and facets to their personalities, with many reasons that they act the way they do. The author did a great job of showing all the layers of Liz's life. She might not have been so likable at first glance, until learning about her life throughout the book.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 3/5 (I feel like her face is going to pop up and be really scary!)
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: A dark, tragic look at what can lie beneath the surface.

Winner Announced: Romancing the Countess!

Winner Announced!!
The winner of Romancing the Countess by Ashley March is:


The winner will also receive another copy of the book for a friend or family member!

Winner was chosen via random number generator. Congrats to the winner!! I have emailed the winner for her mailing address. Winner has 3 days to respond :) Please allow 8 weeks for delivery. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who entered and huge thanks to Ashley March for sponsoring the contest!! Congrats!!

"Hailee" Review and First Wild Card Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (September 6, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Penny Zeller is an author, wife, mother of two, and inspirational speaker. She’s known for her down-to-earth prose and creativity in conveying spiritual truths with clarity and humor. On her blog “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author” ( she addresses a variety of concerns families experience day-to-day across America. Penny has loved to write since the second grade, but it was in 2000 that she dedicated her writing skills to God and made a commitment to use her talents to inspire others. She recently released the Montana Skies Series for Whitaker House: McKenzie, Kaydie, and the lastest, Hailee. Other titles include: Hollyhocks (Booklocker 2003); Wyoming Treasures (Medallion Books 2005); and 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference (2008 Beacon Hill). Penny leads a Bible study and women’s prayer group, co-organized “Sisters in Christ Community Girls Night Out,” and regularly volunteers at her daughters’ school. In her spare time she enjoys canoeing, gardening, and playing volleyball with family and friends.

Visit the author's website.


For years, orphan Hailee Annigan roamed the streets of Cincinnati, stealing food to keep her two younger brothers fed. She landed in a home for delinquents where, by the grace of God she received an education. Now 19, Hailee excitedly anticipates her new role as school teacher in a small Montana town, but she’s still plagued by her past and fears never seeing her brothers again. In Montana she meets and is instantly attracted to Rev. Maxwell Nathaniel Adams, Jr., pastor of the local church, who is likewise drawn to her. Rev. Adams is from a wealthy, well-connected Boston family whose plans for him did not include seminary, let alone moving to rugged Montana and falling in love with a former street urchin. Their former worlds collide as the unlikely pair attempt to forge a future together.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 6, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742182
ISBN-13: 978-1603742184


July 1893

Cincinnati, Ohio

Hailee Annigan removed the discolored sheet of paper from the community board in the train depot. Time and weather had faded the poster, so the message was barely readable, but she had memorized the words:

Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.

If you have any information, kindly respond to:

Hailee Annigan
c/o Dot Pangbourn’s Boardinghouse
West Eberlee Street, Cincinnati, Ohio

She crumpled the paper in her hand and stuffed it into her purse. In its place, she posted the notice she’d written that morning, then stepped back to make sure it would be conspicuous to people passing by or preparing to board a train.

Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.

If you have any information, kindly respond to:
Hailee Annigan
c/o Pine Haven School
Pine Haven, Montana

For the past several years, she had replaced the posting every month, two times in order to alter the address where she could be located if someone knew of her brothers’ whereabouts.

Hailee swallowed hard to hold back her tears. She didn’t want to leave Cincinnati and diminish her chances of ever finding her younger brothers. However, she knew that a change in location would do her heart good, and that she was following God’s prompting to fulfill the dream she’d had in her heart since she was a young girl.

Tomorrow, Hailee would begin her journey of nearly two thousand miles to a place she’d never been, where she had accepted a job as the schoolteacher. Yes, such a drastic change would help her to leave the past behind and start life anew.

She turned and trudged the short distance from the train depot to Austin Street. Her feet ached from all the walking she’d done in the past few hours, replacing each of the seven postings in varied locations around the city. Now, she had one more place to visit—one more person to see—before leaving Ohio.

Hailee sat on the wooden bench and waited for the horse-drawn hansom cab to round the corner during one of its many scheduled stops. Hoping she had read the schedule for the cab correctly, she counted the money in her coin purse. She’d ridden in a hansom only a handful of times due to the cost, but today was an exception. Today, she would travel to a distant part of the city to say a final good-bye to an important part of her life. She needed to put a period at the end of the sentence that had affected her more than anything else in her nineteen years.

Within minutes, Hailee spied the carriage. She rose to her feet as the hansom cab slowed to a stop.

A short, husky man with a mustache that was black, peppered with gray, and that curled up in swirly loops at the ends stepped down from the back of the carriage. He removed his top hat and greeted her with a bow. “Good afternoon, ma’am. Ambrose Peters at your service. Where may I take you today?”

“Hello, Mr. Peters. Would you please take me to The Sanctuary of Promise?” Hailee smiled at the driver.

“My! A ways away, is it not?” said Ambrose. “But, yes, I can take you there.” He extended a white-gloved hand and helped Hailee into the cab. “If you need anything, anything at all, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I can hear you through the open window in the roof.”

Hailee nodded and glanced up at the small window with a hinged cover that was open. As she settled into her seat, Ambrose prepared to close the door. “Are you comfortable?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you.”

“Very well, then. We shall be on our way.” He bowed again, placed his hat back on his head, and closed the door. Moments later, they lurched forward with the clatter of horses’ hooves.

“Are you from Cincinnati, miss?” Ambrose asked sometime later.

“Yes, I’ve lived here all my life,” Hailee replied. She appreciated the driver’s small talk. It took her mind off of the nervousness she felt.

“As have I,” said Ambrose. “Do you have family here?”

Hailee wasn’t sure how to answer that question. Were her brothers still in Cincinnati? Or, had they traveled far from this city, which held so many memories? “My parents have gone to be with the Lord, but I do have two brothers,” she finally answered.

“I’m sorry to hear about your parents, miss.” Ambrose paused. “It sure is a lovely time of year, isn’t it, with the flowers blooming and the trees with all their leaves? I have to admit, I enjoy every season, but winter gets a mite cold at times driving the cab.”

Hailee smiled and nodded. She could only imagine how a cold Cincinnati winter might affect cab drivers. She wondered about the winters in Montana. Were they similar to those she had experienced her entire life in Ohio? Would she still love summer the best of all the seasons once she was settled in her new home? She watched in silence as they passed by the tall buildings, some dating back to the turn of the century, and dozens of other buggies traversing the crowded avenue. Would Pine Haven match the hustle and bustle of Cincinnati? Would it have streets lined with storefronts offering a wide variety of goods? Somehow, she doubted it. From what she had heard, Montana was rugged and wild, Pine Haven nothing like a big city. A change will do you good, Hailee, she reminded herself. Even if that change is a drastic one.

“We’re almost there,” Ambrose announced. “It’s been a while since I’ve traveled out this way. I’d forgotten how beautiful this road looks, lined with trees as it is.”

“It is beautiful,” Hailee agreed. The buildings became fewer and farther apart, while the buckeye trees grew more numerous. They folded out their branches as if to welcome Hailee to the place she would never forget, a place where God had molded her into the type of woman He desired her to become.

In the circular driveway in front of The Sanctuary of Promise, the cab slowed to a stop. The door opened, and Ambrose peered in. “Here we are, miss.” He held out an arm to assist her out of the cab. “When shall I return for you?”

“In about an hour, if it’s convenient. Thank you, Ambrose.” Hailee climbed out, then handed him her hard-earned money for the fare.

“See you shortly, miss.”

“Yes, indeed!” She bid him farewell as he climbed back onto the cab and picked up the reins. Then, she turned around and surveyed the mammoth building before her. The brick structure had four stories and two wings, the third- and fourth-floor windows of which were covered with curtains, and a covered porch held up by four faded white pillars. The building was surrounded by a well-manicured lawn, and Hailee spied the familiar tiered birdbath under an oak tree. To the left of the tree was the fenced-in garden where she had learned much about farming.

Looking back at the building, Hailee could see the heads of students inside the first floor windows, and she recalled the many hours she’d spent in its classrooms. A little girl turned her head and peered out at her with a look of curiosity.

Hailee smiled at her and urged her feet to move toward the front door. Had there really been a time when she’d spent almost every waking moment in this looming fortress of a building? It felt as if she’d stepped back in time; while everything around her had changed in the past two years, and while dozens of children from entirely different backgrounds had lived within its walls and played on its grounds, The Sanctuary of Promise had undergone no observable alterations, at least on its exterior.

On the porch now, Hailee sucked in her breath and turned the doorknob. As she stepped inside the vast entryway, a mix of emotions stirred within her.

“I’ll be right with you,” a woman called from an adjacent room.

Hailee recognized the voice and smiled. “Ella?”

“Hailee Annigan, is that you?” Ella Fanshaw rushed through the door toward Hailee and wrapped her arms around the much younger woman. “It’s been the better of three months since we last saw each other. How have you been?”

“I’ve been well, thank you.”

“Please, come into the dining area,” Ella invited her.

Hailee followed her and sat down at the long, worn wooden table—quite possibly for the last time in her life, she realized—where she had once taken every meal. Gazing around the room, she recalled the first day she’d entered The Sanctuary of Promise, at fourteen years of age….


“I don’t belong here!” Hailee shouted at Officer Ulmer, who had taken her inside the large, frightening building.

“The judge ordered for you to come to The Sanctuary of Promise, so that is where you’ll stay,” Officer Ulmer said firmly. “Had you not done what you did, you wouldn’t have found yourself in this predicament.” He paused and shook his head. “Just about every child I remand to The Sanctuary of Promise makes the same claim about not belonging here. When will you street children come to learn that crime doesn’t pay? It never has and never will.”

“But I don’t belong here!” Hailee stamped her feet.

“If you don’t belong here, then why do you have a reputation for thievery among the storefront owners in East Cincinnati?”

“A reputation?”

“Yes, a reputation. There’s nary a storekeeper who hasn’t fallen victim to your thieving ways and lying tongue.”

Hailee ignored the officer’s insinuations. Yes, she had stolen; yes, she had lied; and, yes, she had deceived. What of it? It had been out of necessity that she had done such things. Had she not needed to provide for her younger brothers, she wouldn’t have dreamed of lying, stealing, and deceiving.

“You don’t understand. I need to be with my brothers!” Without forethought, Hailee pushed past the man, rushed out the door, and raced across the vast lawn. Spurred on by the rhythmic thumping of her heart within her chest, she ran with all her might, willing her eyes to adjust to the darkness of night so that she could make out her path.

“You come back here, young lady!”

Hailee stole a glance over her shoulder and saw Officer Ulmer running after her, but the thickset man was no match for her speed. “Stop that girl!” he yelled as the gap between them continued to widen. “Stop her!”

As Hailee rounded the corner of East Seventh Street and Holmes, a strong hand grabbed her arm and stopped her in mid-stride. “Not so fast,” the officer said sternly.

“Let me go!” Hailee wailed as she tried to wriggle out of the officer’s grasp.

“Not this time,” he said. “Another runaway?”

Hailee looked around. Officer Ulmer was stumbling toward them, gasping for breath.

“Yes,” he managed, still panting. “Ten years ago, I could have caught her”—he expelled a loud breath—“but my best years of chasing street urchins are behind me.”

The other officer chuckled. “That’s true of a lot of us, Quincy.”

“That’s why I requested this post, delivering wayward juveniles to The Sanctuary of Promise,” Officer Ulmer continued. “It’s supposed to be easier and less eventful. But then, spitfires like this Hailee Annigan come along and make my job almost impossible.” He breathed in and out, in and out. “Still, children like Hailee give me reason to pray even harder. Yes, I lift every lost child I meet to my Father’s throne, asking Him to take care of their needs, and—”

Out of desperation, Hailee leaned forward and bit the officer who held her on the arm. Yelling in pain, he immediately released his grip. Hailee stepped back and was ready to run, but Officer Ulmer grabbed her arms and held her fast. “She really doesn’t think she belongs in The Sanctuary of Promise, Officer Edwards,” he said.

“Humph. Do any of them?” Officer Edwards scowled and rubbed his arm where Hailee had bitten him.

She glanced around, hoping for another way to escape her captors. She would not give in and be taken to The Sanctuary of Promise. Sure, it was a big brick mansion, but it was just a fancy jail. Besides, she had her brothers to care for. Why couldn’t these officers see that?

“You don’t understand,” she whined. “My brother Philip, he has to walk with a crutch.” She pasted a sad look on her face in hopes of eliciting their pity. One thing she had learned on the streets was how to manipulate others through emotional appeals.

“Right. And I’m the president of the United States,” Officer Ulmer said with a chuckle. “Let’s get moving.” He started walking and pulled her along.

“I’m telling the truth,” Hailee insisted, trying to keep her voice low and her tone mournful.

“Are you aware of the alternative of going to The Sanctuary of Promise?” Officer Ulmer asked.

“What?” Hailee demanded.

“You would be put in jail.”

“The Sanctuary of Promise is a jail—just a fancy one,” she retorted. “Nothing good ever comes from being in a place like that.”

“I think you’ll find The Sanctuary of Promise quite different from the jail where you were held until the judge heard your case.”

“I don’t want to be in any jail. I want to be free!” Hailee gritted her teeth and tried to pull her arms out of Officer Ulmer’s grasp, but Officer Edwards held fast to her shoulder as he walked alongside. She was no match for two grown men.

“You know, most kids at The Sanctuary are released after about a year and a half,” mused Officer Ulmer. “With the little shenanigan you just pulled, you’re likely to spend more time there, though.”

“I won’t stay there,” Hailee insisted. “I’ll just escape. I have to. My brothers are depending on me. Who’ll make them dinner? Who’ll tell little Philip the story about baby Moses in the basket?”

“I’m sure someone will see to it that they’re taken care of,” Officer Edwards muttered. “If they even exist.”

“You don’t believe that I have brothers?” Hailee was shocked at what she was hearing. Why would she make that up?

“You couldn’t imagine the stories we hear,” Officer Ulmer chuckled. “Do you think you’re the first wayward juvenile to insist she has younger siblings to care for? And we’ve heard the brother-with-a-crutch story one too many times.”

“But it’s the truth! One of Philip’s feet is turned the wrong way. He was born like that. And it makes it hard for him to walk, so he has to use a crutch.”

“And just how old is this Philip?” Officer Ulmer asked as they entered The Sanctuary of Promise grounds.

“He’s only six.”

“What about your other brother? I’m sure he can care for him just fine,” Officer Edwards said dryly.

“Reuben?” Hailee was getting angry. “Reuben can’t care for him—not like I can. He’s only twelve. And, sometimes, Reuben is…well…grouchy.”

“And where do these brothers live?” asked Officer Ulmer.

“Over on Gardner St—wait, why?”

“Gardner Street?” asked Officer Ulmer.

“No, not Gardner Street,” Hailee said. “I meant to say Garrison Avenue.”

“Either way, we’ll find them,” said Officer Edwards. “Again, assuming they exist.”

“Why doesn’t anybody believe me?” Hailee demanded.

“With the crimes you’ve committed and the lies you’ve told, it is a bit difficult to believe you,” Officer Ulmer reasoned. He reached out with his free hand and opened the front door of The Sanctuary. “Good evening Miss Torenz,” he said as they stepped inside and were greeted by a young woman. “We’ve got one who insists on escaping.”

“Don’t worry, she won’t be escaping,” the woman assured him. “Please bring her upstairs to the Yellow Flower Room.”

Still fighting to be released, Hailee kicked and wriggled as the officers dragged her up the stairs. Miss Torenz opened a door, and the officers shoved Hailee inside and quickly shut the door.

“Let me out!” she shouted, beating on the door with her fists. She had to get out of here—her brothers’ lives depended on it! No doubt, little Philip was hungry right now. It was bad enough that she’d spent last night in jail and left Philip and Reuben all alone. But two nights in a row? Hailee cringed at the thought.

“It’ll do you no good to pound on the door,” said Miss Torenz through the door, her voice firm. “We’ll bring you some breakfast in the morning.”

“No, wait! You can’t leave me here!” Hailee resumed pounding on the door. After a while, her fists sore, she turned to assess her whereabouts. A tiny window on the far wall allowed a minute amount of moonlight into the room. With the exception of a bed with a faded quilt, the closet-sized room was empty. Hailee squinted. Was the wallpaper yellow with large sunflowers? It was difficult to tell in the dim light, but she supposed it was, which would account for the name of the room.

One last time, Hailee pounded on the door and screamed until her throat hurt. Finally, she gave up, turned, and leaned back against the door. She slid down into a seated position, buried her face in her hands, and began to sob. While she’d never been one to give up, no matter how harsh the circumstances life had dealt to her, this was the exception. She was trapped, and there was nothing she could do about it….


“Hailee?” Ella asked.

“I’m sorry, Ella. I was just remembering my first day here.”

“I wasn’t here that night, but I recall hearing that you put up the fight of the century,” Ella said, laughing.

“It seems so long ago now, almost a different lifetime.”

Ella sighed. “It was only five years ago, but you were so different then. I could tell when I first met you that you were frightened and feeling alone. And so thin and malnourished…. My heart broke for you.”

“I will forever be indebted to you for all you’ve done for me,” Hailee said.

Ella smiled. “I prayed that very morning for God to send me someone I could encourage. I didn’t realize that He would make good on my prayer right away by sending me someone the same day! And a challenge, too—that’s what you were, Hailee Annigan. A challenge.”

Hailee had thanked the Lord many times for Ella. In the years since she’d left The Sanctuary, she had maintained contact with her former teacher, although their visits had not been as frequent as she would have wished due to the busy lives of both of them. However, Hailee had treasured the times when Ella had met her at the boardinghouse where she lived. They would have tea and catch up on the happenings in their lives, and, many times, Dot Pangbourn, the boardinghouse proprietress, would join them.

Sitting across from Ella, Hailee realized how much the past five years had altered her friend. Her auburn hair was beginning to gray, her lovely face had gained a few more wrinkles, and, behind her thick glasses, her eyes looked more tired than ever. Hailee knew she was responsible for some of those wrinkles, and that she and others like her had been sources of the weariness her dear friend’s face showed. “I am deeply sorry about having been a challenge,” she said.

Ella smiled. “Oh, pooh. That’s in the past. What matters now is what you do with the second chance the Lord has given you.” She paused. “Would you care for a cup of tea?”

“I would love a cup of tea, thank you.”

Ella stood up and left the room, then returned a few moments later with two steaming teacups. She set one down at each of their places and then took her seat again. “So, tell me, Hailee, what is new in your life?”

“Well, I actually came here to tell you that I am moving…to Montana. I’ve been hired as the new schoolteacher in Pine Haven.”

“Pine Haven? That’s wonderful! From the moment you told me of your intent to apply, I had no doubt that you would get the position. I clearly remember the day you showed me the newspaper advertisement.” Ella took a sip of tea. “However, I must say…Montana? That’s pretty far west!”

“It is quite far from here,” Hailee conceded. “At first, I was hesitant because of my brothers. What if Philip or Reuben finally sees one of my postings? It will take weeks for me to receive word, and then there is the matter of the travel time. But you know my dream of becoming a teacher, and Pine Haven was the only place where the incoming teacher was not expected to have several years of experience.”

“If your brothers see one of your notices, they will contact you, wherever you are,” Ella assured her with a pat on her arm. “This will be an adventure, and you are smart to take advantage of it.”

“I have prayed about it so much, Ella. I prayed that God would open a door for me to be a teacher, and He did.”

“He’s had a plan for your life all along.”

“Even when I was causing so much trouble here?”

“Even then.” Ella smiled. “Now, besides the good news of your teaching position, what brings you to The Sanctuary?”

“To see you,” said Hailee. “I couldn’t very well go without saying good-bye, and I’m leaving tomorrow. I will arrive in Pine Haven on July twenty-seventh, with plenty of time to get settled before school starts.”

“My, things are happening fast.”

“They certainly are.” Hailee bit her lip. “I also felt that I needed to see this place one last time.”

“Not much has changed since you lived here, Hailee, although many lives have been changed—for the better, I might add.”

“God has used you in wonderful ways to touch the lives of so many children. I can only pray that He will use me in the same way with my students.”

“I know He will.” Ella paused, looking pensive. “Do you remember the first Bible verse I asked you to look up?”

“Of course!” Hailee had all but forgotten that there had been a time when she was not familiar with the Scriptures. Ella had opened God’s Word to her, and the first verse she’d learned had become one of her favorites. “Jeremiah twenty-nine, verse eleven,” Hailee began, and Ella’s voice joined with hers as the two women recited together: “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.’”

“Hailee, do you finally understand that God has always known the plans and thoughts He has toward you?” Ella said. “He hasn’t changed. The Lord has been laying the foundation for those thoughts and plans, and, now, they are coming to fruition.”

“Thank you.” Hailee squeezed the hand of the woman who had become a second mother to her. “I’m just a little nervous about going all the way to Montana.”

“I can see that. Just remember that there is no place you can go where the Lord is not there with you. Lift your eyes to Him, Hailee, and He’ll be your comforter.”

Hailee nodded. Ever since she’d come to know the Lord, He’d never turned His back on her.

“I’m sure Dot will be sorry to see you go.”

“I will miss her so. She’s been so kind to me, almost like a grandmother.” Hailee paused. “And, more than anyone, Ella, I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too, Hailee. But you have prayed about this decision, and I do believe it is the Lord’s calling for your life. Besides, I’m only a train ride away.”

“A long train ride.”

“Nonetheless, we will correspond regularly, which shall be a source of encouragement to both of us.”

“I promise to write if you will,” said Hailee.

“It’s a promise,” Ella agreed.

“Well, we’ve talked enough about me. Please, Ella, tell me how you have been.”

“Oh, I’ve been well.” Ella paused, her eyes suddenly glowing. “I do have a tidbit of information you might find amusing, if not exciting.”

“Do tell!”

“Do you remember Officer Ulmer?”

Hailee feigned a grimace. “How could I forget him?”

“Well, he has asked me to marry him.”

Hailee almost choked on her tea. “I beg your pardon?”

“It’s true. He has been courting me for the past several months, and it happened rather quickly—”

“Officer Ulmer, the man who brought me here?”

“The one and the same.”

“I don’t believe it!” Hailee immediately regretted her words, for Ella looked stricken. “Oh, do forgive me, Ella. Congratulations are in order!” She reached out and clasped her friend’s hand. “I am happy for you.”

“I know you saw only the authoritative side of him, Hailee, but Officer Ulmer—Quincy, rather—is a kind, gentle, and godly man. He’s loving, thoughtful, and….” Ella blushed. “Handsome.”

“You’re right, Ella. I knew him only as a policeman, and we didn’t meet under the best circumstances. He treats you well, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, he does. He’s exactly the type of husband I have been praying for all along. You see, I thought I was much too old to get married, but the Lord had other plans. He placed Quincy in front of me all these years, and we’ve been good friends for so long. It was just recently that we both began to see each other as something much more than a friend.” Ella giggled shyly. “It took us many years, but we finally realized our love for each other. I couldn’t be happier, Hailee.”

“And I am happy for you. Have you selected a wedding date?”

“Sometime this fall. And, although I don’t like to wish time away, autumn can’t come soon enough!”

“I only wish I could be here for the happy event.” For a moment, Hailee considered staying in Cincinnati, if only to see one of her dearest friends get married.

But Ella knew her so well that she read her thoughts. “Now, Hailee, you must go. I know how you have searched for a permanent teaching position for some time now. I also know how humbly you have asked God to use your gift of teaching. I believe He has answered that prayer. Had He wanted you to teach in Cincinnati, the opportunity would have arisen.”

“You’re right, Ella. Still, I shall miss you so.”

“And I shall miss you.”

“I suppose I should go,” Hailee said. She stood to her feet and gave Ella a warm hug.

“Take care, dear one. Write and let me know that you have arrived safely.”

“I will.”

“And don’t worry. You’ll do fine in Montana.”

“Good-bye, then.”

“No, never good-bye,” said Ella. “As my grandmother Fanshaw was fond of saying, ‘It’s never “Good-bye” but instead, “So long.”’”

“So long, then, Ella.”

Hailee hoped that Ella’s conviction about her doing fine in Montana would prove true. She took one last look around the room. With the adventure that lay before her, she might never get another chance to see the place that had housed so much of her past.

My Review:

3.5 Stars

This was a sweet story, but not really developed enough for me to love it. But I really liked the overall message of forgiving past mistakes in both others and yourself.

I loved Nate's character, he was almost too perfect! It was so great that he didn't hold Hailee's past against her and he was so supportive her always. Nate totally understood her search for her brothers as well.

I wasn't a fan of all the flashbacks (nearly once per chapter). It made the story seem choppy to me and I don't like reading entire pages in italics.

Overall, this is a nice story with likable characters, but it needed more depth for me to really enjoy it.