Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review of "The Wedding Dress" by Rachel Hauck

Rating: 4 Stars
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Summary from Thomas Nelson: Four brides. One Dress. A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love. 

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

Review: Enduring, finely detailed, beautiful, and inspiring.  Rachel Hauck's newest novel The Wedding Dress evokes the same qualities of the plot's common thread: a timeless wedding dress.  On the surface, the white wedding dress is just a dress; but as the story progresses, Hauck reveals a deeper symbolism. The perfect and ageless dress becomes an analogy for God's love.  It is also the link between four generations of women searching for the right husband.

Each of the four women in The Wedding Dress brings her own dynamic to the plot. Emily's willingness to break through injustices and social barriers is a powerful example of courage and faith.  I would have enjoyed more direct interaction between Emily and her future husband, but their feelings for each other are obvious even as Emily tries to overcome her emotions.  Mary Grace and her husband enter the novel as an elderly couple in their 90s. The strength of their love, faith, and dedication is sweet and heartwarming.  Hillary's story as a Vietnam War bride is heartbreaking and tragic.  As she discovers the history of her wedding dress with Charlotte, both women find the healing and strength they need.  While the love story of each past wearer of the wedding dress has been written, Charlotte's story is just beginning. She goes through a range of emotions over the course of the novel.  Her doubts about being a bride are understandable, and her love story is rocky at times while she works through her past, present, and future. When she finally lets go of her fears and puts on the wedding dress, her purpose becomes clear and her heart finds peace.

When I first read the summary of The Wedding Dress, I expected the plot to focus equally on each of the women who wore the dress.  Fortunately, the plot was not as predictable as I expected.  The journey of the dress from woman to woman is not a straight path; there are mysteries, twists and turns.  Along the way, Hauck introduces the past owners, each of whom faced different challenges and uncertainties when following their hearts and living faithfully. As present-day Charlotte discovers the story of the mysterious dress, she learns that following the right path can be easy or difficult and bring bliss or sorrow, but it ultimately leads to a perfect purpose.  With romance and mystery spanning four different eras, The Wedding Dress is a perfect fit for a wide range of readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review of "Bourne" by Lisa T. Bergren

Rating: 5 Stars
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Review: Lisa T. Bergren's novella, Bourne, is like a delicious mini dessert. It is a tantalizing continuation of Torrent, just the right size to satisfy your appetite but leaving you anxious for your next chance to indulge. Following the pattern of the first three novels, Bourne continues seamlessly where the last novel ended.  Although this is a novella, the action, romance, and details are not lacking.  As always, there is looming mortal danger for the characters and the acts committed by the enemies are more brutal. 

Bourne allows us to experience the story from the perspectives of both Gabi and Lia, which is a refreshing change. Gabi is in many ways the quintessential newlywed, focused on her husband, and Lia's perspective provides a welcome balance. Lia has been present throughout all three River of Time novels, showing bravery and strength, but the only knowledge we've had of her thoughts and emotions have been thorough Gabi.  Lia's friendship with Luca adds some light and humor to the tense situations that permeate the Betarrini sisters' medieval life.

Each addition to the River of Time series leaves me thirsty for more. Although each novel concludes, there is so much potential for more action and adventure.  I find myself wanting to hear more of Lia, Luca, and the complicated Lord Greco. 

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I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Lisa T. Bergren . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review of "Sixty Acres and a Bride" by Regina Jennings

Rating: 4 Stars
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Summary: She's Finally Found a Place to Call Home... How Far Will She Go to Save It?
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.
Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. They welcome her vivacious spirit and try to help her navigate puzzling American customs. She can't help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention. 
Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future. Read an excerpt:    

Review: Regina Jennings puts a fresh spin on the well-known and often retold story of Boaz and Ruth in her debut novel, Sixty Acres and a Bride.  While the overall plot is somewhat predictable, the Texas setting, Mexican protagonist, and finely crafted details, create unique intricacies. The novel began a bit slowly for me as I tried to connect with the characters.  Both Rosa and Weston have back stories that are gradually revealed over the course of the novel.  As a result, the reader grows to know the characters and connect with them by the end of the novel. 
Rosa is a unique heroine, who can be called a woman-child.  Her Mexican ways are not always welcome or understood in her Texas town.  She faces harsh judgement for actions which would be considered normal and acceptable in her Mexican village. Jennings captures the pain of discrimination through Rosa's character.  Rosa displays an admirable character and faith despite her many hardships; and her willingness to sacrifice her future for her mother-in-law is particularly poignant.  While her past and present struggles make Rosa a woman, she also possesses an endearing child-like innocence and spunk that lightens the tone of the novel. 
Weston is, in many ways, the classic hero: strong, confident, and possessing an admirable character.  As a pillar of the community, he could easily reject Rosa, believing that an association with her would mar his reputation.  Instead, he becomes her friend and protector.  As he struggles with his growing attraction to the young Mexican beauty, his scarred past is slowly uncovered, revealing a layer of self-doubt and pain. The love story between Rosa and Weston is not easy or painless, but there is a tenderness and perfection amid the rough patches. 
Jennings' description of the Texas landscape and the sheep ranch is a welcome departure to the more traditional settings of historical fiction.  The details of the daily chores involved in running a ranch and the struggles in covering expenses add realism to the plot.  So often ranch life is romanticized in novels, and I appreciated Jennings' less glamorized approach.  
Sixty Acres and a Bride is a strong introduction to the work of Regina Jennings.  I look forward to reading her future novels. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from LitFuse through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the Author: Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. Meet Regina here.

Learn more about Regina by visiting her website,

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"Sixty Acres and a Bride" Giveaway and Party

Win a Kindle Fire from @ReginaJennings in the Sixty Acres and a Bride Giveaway! RSVP for #Facebook Party on 3/27.

Celebrate with Regina by entering to win a Kindle Fire and coming to her Author Chat Party on 3/27!

One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/26/12. Winner will be announced at Regina's Author Chat Facebook Party on 3/27. Regina will be hosting an evening of chat, fun trivia and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and some beautiful silver jewerly!
So grab your copy of Sixty Acres and a Bride and join Regina and friends on the evening of March 27th for an evening of fun.

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!


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