Book Recommendation ~ Springtime of the Spirit by Maureen Lang

Book Description:

By the fall of 1918, the Great War has ended and the world is at peace, but there is little to celebrate in Germany. After four years of fighting for his homeland, Christophe Brecht returns to find there is little left of what he once called home. So when family friends ask him to travel to Munich to bring back their runaway daughter, Christophe agrees.

When he finally locates Annaliese Duray, he discovers she is far different from the girl he once knew. Headstrong, idealistic, and beautiful, she is on the front lines of the city’s political scene, fighting to give women and working-class citizens a voice in Germany’s new government.

As the political upheaval ignites in Munich, so does the attraction between Annaliese and Christophe. With an army from Berlin threatening to squash everything Annaliese has worked for, both she and Christophe are forced to choose between love and loyalty.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Springtime of the Spirit is the third book in Maureen Lang’s The Great War series. A spirited and poignant love story set in Germany in 1918 during the politically turbulent months following the end of the First World War.

Annaliese Duray is from a wealthy family who live in a small town outside Munich, and her capitalist father has benefited financially from the war by building weapons in his factory. After the death of her beloved sister and Germany’s crushing defeat by the Allies, Annaliese runs away from her family. She disappears in Munich, determined to help create a better future for Germany.

The socialist revolution, arising during a time of high unemployment and food shortages, brings Eisner to power and Annaliese joins the socialist party. Within weeks she becomes a political voice for the rights of women. Keeping her privileged background a secret, she speaks passionately in the streets to the working class crowds, espousing socialist values of equality and the evils of capitalism.

Christophe Brecht is a disillusioned Major from the German Army who returns from France to discover his homeland has been changed by the war. He finds his family’s home abandoned and a note from his sister. His brother died fighting in the war, his parent’s are now deceased and his sister has moved to America.

Annaliese’s older sister, Giselle, was Christophe’s first love. After learning of Giselle’s death, he visits her heartbroken parents. They enlist his help in finding Annaliese in Munich and bringing her home before they leave Germany and move to America.

A fascinating story unfolds as Christophe finds Annaliese and tries to convince her to return home with him and reconcile with her parents. Annaliese has rejected her childhood faith and, as the political upheaval and danger intensifies around them, she is challenged by Christophe’s beliefs that are in conflict with her new socialist ideology.

Springtime of the Spirit is an amazing story of love and hope during a politically unstable time in Germany’s history. The characters are passionate in their political beliefs that also shape their decisions in their personal lives. The exciting political backdrop adds an extra element of danger and intrigue to the story. The heartache and desperation of a nation economically crippled by war is captured in the story and the character’s motivations and desire for change is realistically depicted. I recommend Springtime of the Spirit for those interested in political ideologies and looking for an exciting historical romance set during a time of significant social change.

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Book Recommendation: Secrets of the Heart by Jillian Kent

Book Description:

Madeline Whittington, daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield, emerges from English society’s prescribed period of mourning in the winter of 1815. Madeline believes that she no longer belongs in a world of gossip and gowns; instead she wants to help the orphans living within the walls of Ashcroft Insane Asylum. Once there, she discovers a dark secret within the asylum walls.

Because of his elder brother’s unexpected death, Devlin Greyson becomes Earl of Ravensmoore and struggles between two worlds: one of affluence and privilege and one of poverty and disease. Torn between his desire to become a doctor and the numerous responsibilities of his title, he wrestles with God’s will for his future. Will he be able to honor this God-given gift and win the woman he falls in love with in a society that does not value gentlemen who work? And will Lady Madeline Whittington be able to honor her father’s memory when she is attracted to the one man who could destroy the promise she made to her father?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Secrets of the Heart is Jillian Kent’s debut Regency romance and Book One in The Ravensmoore Chronicles. A compelling romance set in 1817, with elements of intrigue and suspense that delves into the darker side of life in Regency England.

Devlin Greyson inherits the title of Earl of Ravensmoore after the unexpected death of his father and elder brother. He continues studying medicine at a hospital in York, despite strong disapproval from society and his peers.

Lady Madeline Whittington is grieving the loss of her beloved father and younger siblings, and she is distressed by her mother’s attraction to the mysterious Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be an old friend of her father’s, and Madeline distrusts Lord Vale’s intentions toward her mother.

Lord Ravensmoore aka Doctor Greyson provides medical assistance to Madeline after her horse stumbles during a hunt. She is drawn to Devlin but later recalls that he was the attending trainee doctor at the hospital when her father died, and Madeline holds Devlin responsible for her father’s death.

Devlin is smitten with Lady Madeline, but he is holding his own secrets that jeopardise a potential match between them.

Madeline shows kindness to a disturbed girl she comes across in the woods, and who she later learns is an escapee from the nearby Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum where Lord Vale is a benefactor.

Secrets generating from Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum threaten to destroy both Devlin and Madeline’s lives. Danger lurks and their faith is challenged as they fight for what is right in a world where polite society would prefer to ignore the plight of the mentally ill.

Secrets of the Heart provides an insightful and honest look into life in a nineteenth century lunatic asylum. Human rights take second place to the agendas and greed of those in authority. The powerful story has engaging characters and exciting plot twists that will keep you turning the page until the very end. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a thought provoking regency romance that addresses the tough issue of mental illness.

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Book Recommendation ~ Jewel of Persia by Roseanna M. White

Book Description:

How can she love the king of kings without forsaking her Lord of lords?

Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes’ wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.

Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows enemies surround her, but they’re not the Spartans or Athenians. The threat lies with those close to the king who hate her people. She determines to put her trust in Jehovah–even if it costs her her marriage.

Years of prayers are answered when Kasia’s childhood friend arrives at the palace after the war, but even as she determines to see Esther crowned in place of the bloodthirsty former queen, she knows the true battle is far from over. How far will her enemies go to see her undone?

Combining the biblical account of Esther with Herodotus’s Histories, Jewel of Persia is the story of a love that nearly destroys an empire . . . and the friendship that saves a nation.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Jewel of Persia is Roseanna M. White’s exciting Biblical fiction novel set in Persia around 480 BC during the reign of King Xerxes. Historical events from the Book of Esther are included in the story.

Kasia, a young Jewess, is bathing her feet in the icy river water in Susa when she has an unexpected encounter with King Xerxes. She doesn’t recognise the charming King, and she is more concerned about protecting her young charge, the future Queen Esther, than hiding her own identity.

King Xerxes is captivated by Kasia’s beauty and, much to Kasia’s father’s displeasure, decides he wants Kasia as his wife. Kasia is moved to the palace, and her friends and family assume her disappearance is caused by drowning in the river.

Twelve year old Esther is devastated by the loss of her best friend, only a few years after her parents passed away and her cousin Mordecai became her guardian.

Kasia falls in love with the King, and her life is in jeopardy because she is the King’s favorite wife. Palace life in the harem is a culture shock for the young Jewess, and her faith is tested and strengthened during the story. Drawing on historical events, the love story between Kasia and King Xerxes unfolds and provides a fascinating insight into the danger, jealousy and intrigue of life in the Persian Palace.

Jewel of Persia is a compelling story about royalty, fidelity and love, in the context of a society that expects their King to have numerous wives and concubines. The differences between Jewish and Persian society create conflict between Kasia and King Xerxes, who are from different worlds and hold diverse values and religious beliefs. I recommend Jewel of Persia for those looking for a powerful and challenging Biblical fiction story.

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Book Recommendation ~ Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang


Book Description:

In Brussels at the height of WWI, a small, underground newspaper is the only thing offering the occupied city hope—and real news of the war. The paper may be a small whisper amid the shouts of the German army, but Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print. Meanwhile, Isa Lassone, a Belgian-American socialite whose parents whisked her to safety at the start of the war, sneaks back into the country to rescue those dearest to her: Edward and his mother. But Edward refuses to go, and soon Isa is drawn into his secret life printing the newspaper . . . And into his heart.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Whisper on the Wind is the second book in Maureen Lang’s The Great War series. A powerful and gripping love story set in Belgium during the First World War.

Isa Lassone, daughter of a Belgium father and American mother, is a wealthy socialite who escapes with her family to America before the German occupation of Belgium in 1914. She leaves behind Edward Kirkland, the boy she has always loved, and his mother, who looked after Isa when her parents were too busy with their own lives to worry about their daughter. In 1916 Isa makes the perilous trek back across the border with the financial means to rescue Edward and his family.

Edward survives a German work camp, is assumed dead, and uses different aliases in his pursuit to liberate Belgium. He is involved in an extensive secret network that prints and distributes the underground newspaper La Libre Belgique.

Edward refuses to leave Belgium and Isa reclaims her stately family home in Brussels which is now occupied by an injured German Major. Isa and Edward’s mother move into a separate part of the house and are forced to co-exist with the Major. Isa insists on helping Edward, despite the massive personal risks if her involvement is discovered by the Germans.

An exciting tale unfolds as danger lurks in unexpected places and no one can be trusted. The German Imperial Army is determined to close down the paper and punish those involved. Edward’s weak faith is challenged and his growing relationship with Isa seems impossible since they are from different worlds and living under dire circumstances.

Whisper on the Wind is a heart wrenching and beautiful story of love and hope. The courageous characters undertake enormous personal risks in their pursuit of freedom. Loyalties are tested, and the faith of characters on both sides of the war are challenged as they deal with injustice and are torn apart by loyalty to their country and loved ones. The brutality of war isn’t glossed over in this realistic portrayal of characters dealing with the poverty, desperation and hardship of war. I recommend Whisper on the Wind for those looking for an exciting and thought provoking historical romance.

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Book Recommendation ~ Digitalis by Ronie Kendig


Book Description:

Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Digitalis is Book 2 in Ronie Kendig’s Discarded Heroes series. A fast paced romantic thriller set in the US and Israel that will keep you turning the page until the very end.

Colton “Cowboy” Neely is a former marine who joins the elite black ops Nightshade team. He is tormented by horrific flashbacks that have put loved ones in danger, and his parents look after his young daughter when he’s away on overseas missions.

Piper Blum is hiding out in the US, and living in fear that the assassins searching for her father will find her. She meets Colton whilst working as a sales assistant.

Colton is drawn to Piper, and for eight months he regularly purchases towels at Piper’s counter. When Piper finds his lost daughter in the store, he finally has an opportunity to get to know her better.

Both Piper and Colton have secrets they can’t risk exposing to each other. The stakes are raised when the men looking for Piper’s father close in on her and Colton’s team are called in to protect Piper.

There is strong emotional conflict in the story, and the secrets between Colton and Piper cause massive complications in their romantic relationship. The characters are engaging and the faith element is intrinsic to the plot as the characters struggle to trust God in a world where bad things keep happening and they don’t know who they can trust. I recommend Digitalis to those looking for an action packed and compelling romantic thriller.

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Book Recommendation ~ Scared by Tom Davis

Book Description:

Stuart Daniels has hit bottom. Once a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist, he is reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and crippling depression. The source of Stuart’s grief is his most famous photo, a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo. A haunting image that indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice.

Stuart is given a one last chance to redeem his career: A make-or-break assignment covering the AIDS crisis in a small African country. It is here that Stuart meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for survival in a community ravaged by tragedy and disease. But in the face of overwhelming odds, Adanna finds hope in a special dream, where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a precious gift.

Now, in a dark place that’s a world away from home, Stuart will once again confront the harsh reality of a suffering people in a forgotten land. And as a chance encounter becomes divine providence, two very different people will find their lives forever changed.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Scared is Tom Davis’ debut novel and the first book in his A Novel on the Edge of the World series. A powerful and intense story that will stay in your mind long after you read the last page.

Stuart Daniels is a washed up photojournalist who receives a prestigious award for a photograph he took on assignment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo nine years earlier. His experiences in the Congo still haunt him, he’s dissatisfied with his life in New York, and his marriage is in trouble. To save his career, he returns to Africa to cover the Aids epidemic in Swaziland.

Adanna is a twelve year old girl living in extreme poverty in Swaziland. She has a dream where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a special gift. She lives in a small tribal community who are scared by the disease ravaging their people, and her family is suffering from malnutrition and often have no food to eat.

The story follows the faith journeys of Stuart and Adanna, and the supernatural element is an organic part of the story. Stuart questions his beliefs and values as he is challenged by the harsh reality of life for the villagers. Adanna’s faith is tested as she endures unspeakable horrors, and life becomes more difficult for her as the story progresses.

If you’re looking for a nice story with a happy ending, then Scared is not the book for you. The story is based on real life experiences, and the desperation and heartache of the local people is not watered down. The ending is both satisfying and tragic. After reading Scared, you can’t help but feel emotional and wonder what you can do to help other children in the world like Adanna. I recommend Scared to those looking for a gritty and compelling story with a strong take away value.

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Book Recommendation ~ The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard

Book Description:

Linore Burkard’s fans devoured her first two Regency novels Before the Season Ends and The House in Grosvenor Square. Now, as her third novel opens, the year is 1818 and Miss Beatrice Forsythe is determined to marry well. After all, her sister, Ariana, married The Paragon, Mr. Phillip Mornay, five years earlier–which all but guarantees that she, Beatrice, can also make a famous match to a wealthy man.

But her sister and husband have disappeared from high society as they raise a family at their country estate. Can Beatrice persuade them to chaperone her in London?  And what about Beatrice’s business with the curate, Mr. O’Brien, whom she rashly promised to marry years earlier. At seventeen now, she has no wish to marry a mere clergyman—despite his agreeable countenance and gentle, understanding ways.

When Mr. Tristan Barton becomes the tenant of the Manor House, Beatrice’s hopes seem to have found their object. But when Ariana falls gravely ill, secrets come to light, motives are revealed, and the pretenses that are easy to keep up in the darkness begin to crumble. Hearts are bared, truths uncovered, and when all is said and done, a country house courtship like no other has occurred!

As always, Linore Burkard delivers “spirited romance for the Jane Austen soul.”

Narelle’s Thoughts:

The Country House Courtship is the third book in Linore Rose Burkard’s delightful Inspirational Regency Romance series. A spirited romance for the Jane Austen soul is an accurate description for this entertaining story.

Miss Beatrice Forsythe, younger sister of Ariana Mornay, is seventeen and wants to experience her first Season in London high society. Five years earlier her elder sister married Phillip Mornay, known as The Paragon and personal friend of The Regent. Beatrice desires a similar match and hopes she can convince her sister and brother-in-law to take her with their young family to their fashionable London home in Grosvenor Square.

Whilst enjoying her stay at Aspindon House, the Mornay country estate, Beatrice is stunned by the arrival of Mr. Peter O’Brien, recommended to Mr. Mornay for the vacant Curate position in his local parish of Glendover. At the tender age of twelve, young Beatrice impetuously promised to marry the handsome churchman, and she hopes he’s forgotten the whole incident now she’s determined to marry a wealthy man of higher station. Mr. Tristan Barton and his sister, Anne, lease the Manor House neighbouring Aspindon House. The Regent enlists a personal favour from Mr. Barton, in order to confirm a date for Mr. Mornay to take up The Regent’s offer of a viscountcy. Mr. Barton catches Beatrice’s eye, and she starts to believe he could make a suitable husband.

Illness strikes and secrets are revealed, along with the true nature of certain characters during times of trial. Beatrice experiences a roller coaster ride as she discovers where her heart truly lies.

The ensemble cast of characters from earlier books in the series, Before the Season Ends and The House in Grosvenor Square, add to the authentic Regency flavour of the story. The story sparkles with fascinating plot twists and the inspirational element is artfully woven into the story. The Country House Courtship provides an interesting insight into the theology and church life of Regency England. I would recommend this book for those looking for a light hearted and exciting story set in the Regency period.

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