Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review of "No Safe Harbor" by Elizabeth Ludwig

Rating: 4 Stars
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Summary: She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she’s found is a web of danger.
Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend–Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother’s warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.

She’s then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother–but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.
With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke… a man she’s grown to love?

Link to buy the book:  

Review: Elizabeth Ludwig begins the “Edge of Freedom Series” with a suspenseful adventure in the pages  of “No Safe Harbor.”  An intricate web of revenge and lies captures and holds the reader until the end. 

Ludwig introduces a wide range of characters, many with hidden agendas. In the beginning, part of the mystery is discovering which characters pose a threat to Cara and in whom she can place her trust. The story is told through the perspective of several different characters, so the reader gradually gains insight into the motives of the primary and secondary characters. Danger lurks through the pages as Cara ventures into New York City in search of her brother. Initially, I was concerned the political intrigue element of the novel would be too heavy, but the pace of “No Safe Harbor” steadily propels the reader through the pages. The political unrest is the underlying cause of the threatening environment that Cara finds herself forced into.  Ludwig delves into the political undercurrents without bogging down the plot. Action is interspersed throughout the novel, but really picks up near the end.

The love story between Cara and Rourke is somewhat unconventional. It is clear at the start of the novel that both main characters have divergent goals. Both Rourke and Cara withhold information from each other, but Rourke is motivated by revenge. As Ludwig reveals more of Rourke’s motives, he becomes a likable character.  I found myself hoping that Cara and Rourke could find a future together, but one question lingered through each scene: how can a relationship based upon Rourke’s false pretenses ever succeed?  Ludwig finds a satisfying resolution. The plot is complete enough to be read as a stand-alone novel, but hints at possibilities for future books in the series.  

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.

Read an Excerpt:
No Safe Harbor

Meet Elizabeth: Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and an accomplished speaker and teacher. Her historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned four stars from Romantic Times. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog The Borrowed Book. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in Orange, Texas. Learn more at

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review of "Against the Tide" by Elizabeth Camden

Rating: 4 Stars
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Summary: After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy. 
Lydia's talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.
When Bane's enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane's mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.
When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive? - Bethany House

Review: Rich in historical detail, "Against the Tide" transports readers to New England through the Navy Yards of Boston and to the wilderness of Vermont.  Elizabeth Camden reintroduces readers to Alexander Banebridge and Professor Van Bracken, who were both introduced in "The Lady of Bolton Hill."  “Against the Tide” is definitely a stand-alone novel, despite the connection.  I remembered very little about Bane and the Professor, but that did not leave any gaps in the book.

The plot of “Against the Tide” has moments of excitement and suspense throughout.  The tension between Bane and Lydia drives the first half of the novel.  They profess their feelings for each other early in the plot, and their strong feelings develop too fast for my personal taste. Circumstances ultimately keep Lydia and Bane apart, which adds more interest.  The second half of “Against the Tide” is propelled by tension as Professor Van Braken enters the scene. I didn't feel a complete connection to the main characters, but I did enjoy their strength and dedication to fighting injustice. 

I learned some heartbreaking details about opium and the past prevalence of the drug in children’s tonics. The scenes of opium withdrawal that Camden incorporates into the plot are somewhat intense, but they form a vivid picture of the effects of drug dependency. Camden’s talent for incorporating historical facts stands out in this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Bethany House.  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, November 17, 2012

Review of "Courting Cate" by Leslie Gould

Rating: 4 Stars
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Summary: When This Couple Gets to Courting, Sparks Will Fly!

In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Her sweet and flirty sister, Betsy, on the other hand, seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!
But the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard-and-fast rule: older Cate must marry first, before younger Betsy can even start courting. Unfortunately, untamable Cate has driven away every suitor--until Pete Treger comes to town, that is.
Prodded by the men of the area, Pete turns his attention to winning Cate's hand. But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play? - Bethany House
Review: Leslie Gould offers a fresh spin on Amish fiction with "Courting Cate," the debut novel of "The Courtships of Lancaster County" series.  The intrigue of Amish life and beauty of pastoral back roads is present in the novel, but the premise makes "Courting Cate" stand out from the other Amish fiction novels that I have read.  
It seems that the Amish are usually portrayed in the media as old-fashioned and quaint, strict, or rebellious. Gould avoids the cliches and creates believable characters, who, despite their lifestyle, are not much different from average Englishers.  It is refreshing to see the Amish engaged in normal activities like hiking and kayacking. 

Cate Miller is a devoted Amish who does not fit into the stereotypical Amish mold, with her penchant for business, love for books, and sharp tongue. Cate's abrasiveness could be a turn-off, but her first person perspective allows readers to understand her emotions.  She grows and softens over the course of the novel as she battles insecurity and anger.  Like Cate, I questioned Pete's motives during their courtship. My speculation about the outcome of their relationship kept me interested until the end.  The resolution felt a bit rushed, leaving me wanting another chapter.  Hopefully, Cate and Pete will make appearances in the upcoming novels in the series. 

Leslie Gould kept me interested and entertained and broke the preconceptions that I have about most Amish fiction.  "Courting Cate" is a quick and entertaining read that I definitely recommend, and I look forward to the upcoming books in the series. 

I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel from NetGalley, courtesy of Bethany House.  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.”

"No Safe Harbor" Kindle Fire Giveaway

Elizabeth Ludwig is celebrating her new book with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at a Facebook Author Chat party on 12/6.

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 5th. Winner will be announced at the "No Safe Harbor" Author Chat Facebook Party on 12/6. Connect with Elizabeth, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Edge of Freedom series, try your hand at the trivia contest, and win some great prizes—gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of No Safe Harbor and join Elizabeth on the evening of the December 6th for a chance to connect with her and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review of "At Every Turn" by Anne Mateer

Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Summary:  Caught up in a whirlwind of religious enthusiasm, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. Now she just has to find a way to get the money.

Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles, and she's spent many an afternoon driving around the rustic track in the field behind her home. When she discovers that her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events--races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money--she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to train and compete.

But when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she realizes she may have trusted the wrong person with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her hasty promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?  - Bethany House

Review: A book about early auto racing usually wouldn't appeal to me since I am definitely not a fan of racing.  When I first picked up "At Every Turn," I wondered how much emphasis would be placed on the racing aspect of the plot.  In the past, novels that focus too much on sports have not ranked among my favorites, but Anne Mateer's latest novel is an exception.  A very pleasing exception. 

Mateer paints a unique vignette of the early 1900s.  There are parts of the plot that are predictable; but as a whole, it is fresh and exciting, mainly because of the auto racing.  What I originally perceived as a possible turn off, became one of the most intriguing aspects of the novel.  The racing sequences provided rushes of unpredictable action that kept me constantly engaged. Meanwhile, some of the garage scenes between Alyce and Webster reminded me of the interactions between Sybil and Branson in "Downton Abbey."   

Alyce and Webster's relationship is understated, yet satisfying. Mateer proves that building a romance between two characters does not need to rely heavily on physical affection.  Their interactions are restrained, but it is obvious that they each harbor deeper feelings under the surface. Adding to the interest, the novel is told solely from Alyce's perspective. Webster's past is cloaked in secrecy, and his true character is revealed only as the novel progresses.  

Alyce Benson is a feisty and charming heroine. Her impetuousness propels her into tense, and sometimes humorous situations.  Mateer adds depth to Alyce's adventurous and unconventional personality throughout the novel.  Alyce makes a number of mistakes and poor decisions, but they ultimately help her to grow spiritually and personally. Viewing the story through Alyce's eyes provides meaningful insights into her faith, her giving heart, and her motives.  Those qualities take her beyond the boundaries of spunkiness to a more multi-dimensional character. 

"At Every Turn" is definitely a book that will remain on my bookshelf.  It has the ideal combination of light-hearted moments and periods of  introspection. 

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Bethany House.  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.”

Read an Excerpt:


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