Chasing Shadows

Chasing ShadowsChasing Shadows by Lynn Austin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With everything going on in Ukraine, reading this account set during WWII in the Netherlands was just eerily similar to what we’re watching on the nightly news. A country overrun by the Nazis, towns overrun, bombs dropped, no food or water… it was hard to read.

But it’s a wonderful story!

Set during those horribly incredible years, it was a story of family and friends and faith. You’ll pull for the people caught up in such a terrible time, both Christian and Jewish. The setting is so well done, you feel like you’re there with the families. Austin did a fabulous job of keeping a large cast of characters all very individual, both in their backgrounds and personalities, as well as in their struggles with the situation.

I’m not a big WWI/WWII book reader, but this one is definitely worth reading.

Because Fiction Podcast

I had the pleasure of talking to Chautona Havig on her podcast, Because Fiction, a couple of weeks ago. That podcast is now live! Here’s a link to her blog: but you can find her podcast all over the place in podcastland. And definitely subscribe to it. I discovered Because Fiction at the beginning of this year and have loved each episode. She is a bubbly and enthusiastic interviewer who knows how to draw out the author … even me!

Moondrop Miracle

Moondrop Miracle (Windy City Hearts #1)Moondrop Miracle by Jennifer Lamont Leo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I bought a long time ago, always meant to read, and somehow didn’t get around to. Whyever did I wait so long?! It’s a wonderful story set in Chicago at the start of the Great Depression. Jennifer Lamont Leo reconstructs a country in turmoil when the money disappeared and families broke apart and people many times had to relearn how to survive.

Connie has it all, a wealthy husband she loves, a beautiful home, and the support of loving parents and a rather eccentric aunt. And then the unthinkable happens. We walk with her through the process of losing the things she most valued, only to find that sometimes the most valuable things of all are those you can’t purchase with coins.

The story is a study in courage, integrity, and a willingness to change and grow rather than give in to despair.

Avenue of Betrayal

Avenue of Betrayal (Spies of the Civil War, #1)Avenue of Betrayal by Sandra Merville Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sandy Merville Hart’s Avenue of Betrayal is a look into Washington City—now known as Washington D.C.—during the early days of the American Civil War. It was a city divided, with people who were staunchly pro-Union living side-by-side with those who were fiercely pro-Confederacy. People didn’t know who to trust, sometimes even within their own families. Hart does a wonderful job of bringing that level of uncertainty and angst to the reader along with a gentle romance that must survive the secrecy and divided loyalties.

Angelina’s Resolve

Angelina’s Resolve (Village of Women #1)Angelina’s Resolve by Cindy Ervin Huff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this “what if” story. Author Huff explains that the idea came about from “what if” Horace Greeley’s “Go west, young man!” had been answered by a group of women. And while it could have been a typical “I’m as good as any man” type of drivel, it’s not. It’s a refreshingly honest look at what women could – and couldn’t – hope to accomplish on their own in the post-Civil War years. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Lumberjacks & Ladies

Lumberjacks & Ladies: 4 Historical Stories of Romance Among the PinesLumberjacks & Ladies: 4 Historical Stories of Romance Among the Pines by Jennifer Lamont Leo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a really fun collection to be a part of. First, I got to write with some of my favorite authors! Second, I got to set my novella in the collection right in my own backyard. Third, I got to write a lighter, more upbeat story after digging into deep issues and harsh history in the Fort of Refuge novels.

Follow the stories of lumberjacks and their ladies as trees fell across the country from 1851 Maine to 1865 Michigan to 1881 Wisconsin to 1890 Idaho.

A Heart Adrift

A Heart AdriftA Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another lovely Colonial America story set at the beginning of the French and Indian War. There is nothing of the war itself in the book, but that geopolitical event is a large part of the tension for the characters. A second chance at love story, the hero and heroine meet again after a tumultuous breakup and a 10-year separation. He’s a sea captain who loves to sail, she’s a sea captain’s daughter who resents her father’s absence in her growing up years. The setting is beautifully portrayed on the barrier islands off of York, Virginia. There are some real historical characters included. This one is well worth reading.

Lost in Darkness

Lost in DarknessLost in Darkness by Michelle Griep
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read quite a few of Michelle Griep’s books, and I have to say, this is my 2nd favorite. It’s very different, and I think that’s part of why I liked it so much. It’s not the same-old/same-old that historical romance can sometimes fall into. It’s a little dark, as the cover indicates, but I wouldn’t call it gothic. It just … different and intriguing. How? Maybe how she handles the character of the heroine’s brother? Maybe how the story comes together with elements you don’t see coming? Maybe the diversity of characters? I don’t know! You have to read it and find out for yourself.

To Rescue the Republic

To Rescue the Republic: Ulysses S. Grant, the Fragile Union, and the Crisis of 1876To Rescue the Republic: Ulysses S. Grant, the Fragile Union, and the Crisis of 1876 by Bret Baier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War since Jr. High. I’ve read widely on the subject, and so it’s always fun when I stumble across a new book that adds something I haven’t read before. I was able to attend Bret Baier’s talk at the Reagan Library in late October, so I had a good idea what was in the book, but I still found a few nuggets that intrigued me.

The first half of the book is about Grant and brings us up through the end of the war. There was on new – and startling – fact I found in there. I won’t put a spoiler in here though. Then the end of the book was about Reconstruction and the election of 1876. I didn’t know nearly as much about Reconstruction as I did about the war, so I learned quite a bit.

Probably the most intriguing part of the whole book is the horse-trading that went one during the 1876 election. The claims of massive fraud (some of which proved to be true – some of it couldn’t be proven) and the possibility of a second war erupting kept me turning the pages.

This wasn’t dry, dusty history. Baier does a good job of telling the story and keeping the reader engaged. I haven’t read his other books, which are more recent history, but I may have to pick them up after reading this one.

At Love’s Command

At Love's Command (Hanger's Horsemen, #1)At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book to read after seeing the social media flap about it. I couldn’t imagine half of the vitriol I was reading was true. It wasn’t. Other than the book starts with the massacre at Wounded Knee, nothing about the story meshed with that vitriol.

A historical romance with a very strong-willed heroine and a very self-assured hero that takes place in Texas. Having lived through the horrendous event at Wounded Knee, the hero has turned his life around and along with three close friends, they are trying to right wrongs where they can. Having studied to become a medical doctor, the heroine finds the hero and his attitude very taxing and annoyingly appealing, until she needs his special brand of assistance.

I have to stand with the 13 juried literary judges for the Romance Writers of America who saw nothing untoward about this story. It addressed a great wrong in American history without sugar-coating or romanticizing or glorifying it. It was portrayed as what it was, a massacre.