The Regency Spies of London series / by Melanie Dickerson. 3.9.2018

A Viscount’s Proposal/ by Melanie Dickerson. (The Regency Spies of London, 2)

Waterfall Press ISBN 9781503938649

A Dangerous Engagement / by Melanie Dickerson. (The Regency Spies of London, 3)

Waterfall Press ISBN 9781503938656

Adult Rating: 4

Prolific author Melanie Dickerson pens additional novels in her Regency Spies trilogy.

In A Viscount’s Proposal, instead of settling for a loveless marriage like her parents, Leorah Langdon is determined to marry for love. When a carriage accident forces her to spend the night unchaperoned with Edward, Viscount Withinghall, she is determined to turn down his proposal, despite the damage to her reputation. Edward, on the other hand, has political ambitions and wants to avoid scandal at all costs. Can they work together to save her reputation and his career by uncovering the villain behind the “accident”?

In A Dangerous Engagement, Felicity Mayson receives an invitation to Lady Blackstone’s country manor, Doverton Hall. She is flattered by the proposal of wealthy Oliver Ratley. She doesn’t realize the political undercurrents among the guests until she meets Government agent Philip McDowell who is undercover. Lady Blackstone and Oliver are the leaders of a group of revolutionaries and Felicity is their pawn. Philip convinces Felicity to maintain his cover. Both are risking their lives to uncover the conspiracy before their government is overthrown.

The plot is typical of a Regency romance, but Dickerson weaves in plot twists and turns. The romance is wholesome, and the faith element is clear but not preachy, making this is a good choice for teen and adult readers. A Dangerous Engagement has a stronger suspense plot than A Viscount’s Proposal. A Viscount’s Proposal lacks the tension, mystery, and intrigue found in romantic suspense novels.

Recommended for young adults and adults who are young at heart. Fans of Georgette Heyer will enjoy this series.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJA Spy’s Devotion (Mar/Apr/May/June 2016).

Dangerous Illusions / by Irene Hannon. (Code of Honor series, 1) 3.6.2018

Revell ISBN 9780800727673

Adult Rating: 5

Award-winning author Irene Hannon pens a new contemporary suspense series featuring a group of childhood friends.

In Dangerous Illusions, art teacher Trish Bailey cares for her ailing mother after the car accident that claimed her father’s life two years earlier. Accountant Matt Parker befriends Trish after the accident by handling the finances of their family’s charitable foundation.

When her mother dies, the police start to suspect Trish might have played a role in her mother’s death. Matt supports her through the investigation, but he has been acting strangely since his own recent car accident. Detective Colin Flynn isn’t sure whether Trish made a mistake in administering her mother’s medication or if her mother’s tragic death was the result of a deliberate act. Together they try to uncover the puzzle pieces behind her mother’s death, only to find a deadly plot in play.

Hannon captures the reader’s attention from the first page and holds it until the final page. She pens believable characters, a well-written plot with plenty of twist and turns, just enough romance to make things interesting, and subtle faith elements in the story. Things are never what they appear to be on the surface.

Hannon weaves the intrigue throughout the fast-paced story, distributing clues a little at a time, making the reader wonder if they missed something earlier in the story. Hannon’s latest novel is a page-turner that will keep the reader up late at night, trying to finish the book and uncover the truth.

Highly recommended for all high school and public libraries. Fans of DiAnn Mills, Dani Pettrey, and Dee Henderson will enjoy this new series.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Hawthorne House series / by Kristi Ann Hunter. 3.5.2018

An Uncommon Courtship / by Kristi Ann Hunter. (Hawthorne House, 3)

Bethany House ISBN 9780764218262

An Inconvenient Beauty / by Kristi Ann Hunter. (Hawthorne House, 4)

Bethany House ISBN 9780764218279

Adult Rating: 5

Born a second son, Lord Trent Hawthorne enjoys a carefree life and the luxury of choice, not bearing the weighty responsibilities of inheriting a dukedom like his older brother. However, his days of ease and freedom end when a night trapped in ruins with Lady Adelaide Bell sends him to the altar in an effort to salvage both their reputations. His family has a tradition of marrying for love and his plans were to follow suit, but at his own leisurely pace. Now trapped in a marriage of convenience to a woman he hardly knows, what are the chances that Trent and Adelaide will find love in An Uncommon Courtship?

In An Inconvenient Beauty, Griffith Hawthorne, the Duke of Riverton, has finally decided to find a wife, something required of a man in his position and a responsibility he has put off long enough. Unlike the other members of his family, he is determined to apply rational logic to the task at hand, rather than the chaotic flutterings of the heart. He likes the perfect order of his life and he wants a wife that can join this order with little disturbance. Soon after he selects Miss Frederica St. Claire as his most logical choice of a bride, Griffith finds her cousin Miss Isabella Breckenridge to be an unfortunate obstacle to his perfectly devised plan. Will Griffith’s determined logic and Isabella’s lack of faith keep the two from finding a love that can conquer anything?

In the final two books of the delightful “Hawthorne House” series, Kristi Ann Hunter tells the stories of the two male members of the Hawthorne siblings. It is not often that the latter books in a series prove to be as wonderful as the first, yet the charm of these two books competes with the first two in its series. Like the previous two, these books are full of endearing characters, lively discourse, mystery, and gentle romance. Hunter does an excellent job portraying the pomp and pretense of London society and drawing a sharp contrast to it with her leading lords and ladies who strive to honor God with their lives. The theme of the third book is learning that love is often a choice, while in the fourth book, it is learning to sometimes follow the heart and not just the mind. Overall, these two books will capture the heart of Regency romance lovers.

Justina McBride, CLJ

Vanishing Point / by Lisa Harris. (A Nikki Boyd Novel) 3.2.2018

Revell ISBN 9780800728489

Adult Rating: 5

Nikki Boyd’s sister, Sarah, was abducted and killed by the Angel Abductor, but he’s never been caught. Vanishing Point follows the team that takes on the Angel Abductor case as they desperately try to find him before he harms any other girls.

Garrett Addison is new to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation when he first gets the call about an abducted girl fitting the profile of the Angel Abductor’s preferred victims. It doesn’t take long to confirm that the Angel Abductor has indeed struck again. Six girls have become his victims. Immediately, the TBI calls in the FBI for help. When FBI agent Jordan Lambert gets the call to head to Nashville to assist with the case, she is grateful to also be able to squeeze in time with her family that lives nearby. The last thing she expects is to run into Garrett Addison at the crime scene. Can they put their history behind them and work together peacefully?

The Angel Abductor kidnaps blonde-haired teenage girls, takes a polaroid picture, and kills his victims. The police know how he operates, but they can’t seem to catch him. Too many times, they are just one step behind. Nikki joins the team to help solve the case, and things are personal for her. They all want to see justice for the girls’ families. When a mistake leads to deadly consequences, Agent Addison questions his decision to join the task force. Will the team hold together long enough to solve the case? How many girls will be killed before the abductor is finally caught?

Vanishing Point is Lisa Harris’ best thriller yet. The character development and the depth of the plot are enticing. Harris makes this a hard book to put down. The action is continuous and there’s just enough romance to lighten up the plot. This is an excellent Christian mystery.

Dani Seilhamer, CLJ

The Story Travelers Bible / by Tracey Madder; illustrated by Tim Crecelius. 2.2.2018

Tyndale Kids ISBN: 9781496409157

PRI K-Grade 4 Rating: 4

The Story Travelers Bible by Tracey Madder presents Bible stories in a narrative format as three students time travel to learn about God’s Word.

School friends Lana, Griffin, and Munch are transported aboard a mysterious bus to witness 85 events of the New and Old Testaments. The Story Travelers Bible takes the trio–and their readers–on an epic journey from Genesis through Revelation.

Each Bible story includes its scriptural reference as well as sidebars with related historical/geographic information and fun facts. Added features invite readers to “Build Your Faith!”, “Think About It!”, or “Park Here!” to read and memorize a verse (New Living Translation). Author Tracey Madder infuses every chapter with dialogue and vivid descriptions of the setting, action, and emotion. In parallel, the three modern-day travelers talk about and react to what they are seeing.

The Story Travelers Bible is a story-within-a-story that encourages children to know God by reading His Word. The framework of the time-traveling students is a quirky twist that may be entertaining to some readers but distracting to others.

Cartoon-style illustrations by Tim Crecelius fill the pages and enhance the presentation. This is a hefty (350+ pages!) book with a ton of content and reading but the storytelling voice and expressive drawings work well together. The many facets of the book should foster its appeal to both young and more mature readers.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Where Does Love Hide? / by Mary Manz Simon; illustrated by Hannah Wood. 2.1.2018

Tyndale Kids ISBN 9781496411686

PRI PS-K Rating: 5

Where Does Love Hide? is a lift-the-flap board book by Mary Manz Simon that demonstrates simple ways to share God’s love.

Six colorful scenes show that love is not really hiding at all, but instead is all around us if we just know where to look! Readers unfold the flaps to reveal everyday examples: sharing toys, helping with a chore, making a new friend. Each flap also contains a short verse from Scripture pertaining to loving, respecting, and serving one other.

The enduring messages are sweet and relevant, making Where Does Love Hide? a wonderful way to introduce very young children to God’s word. Hannah Wood’s cheerful illustrations are like comfort food, filled with the gentle familiarity of cookies, teddy bears, building blocks, and sandcastles.

This sturdy book should withstand many readings and its small size is perfect for taking along.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

The Lady and the Lionheart / by Joanne Bischof. 1.31.2018

Mason Jar Books ISBN 9780997513707

Adult Rating: *5

Twenty-year-old Ella Beckley is a nurse in training, running from a past she wishes she could forget. Charlie Lionheart is a lion tamer in a circus, working to repay a debt he is bound by contract to fulfill. Though from worlds as opposite as night from day, each has scars they bear—hers on the inside, his on the outside—and each has experienced society’s harsh and unforgiving treatment because of those scars.

From the moment their paths cross, they are drawn to each other, Charlie needing her services for his sick baby girl and Ella being pulled by, yet fearful of, the quickening of life the two stir in her shattered heart. Together, can two broken people find healing, true love, and the freedom that comes through forgiveness and trust?

In The Lady and the Lionheart, Joanne Bischof authentically brings to life the dazzling sights and sounds of the circus and the alluring pull of the gypsy life. The circus scene provides such a unique backdrop for an equally unique and skillfully woven plot that captures readers with its powerful message, element of mystery, unforgettable characters, and gentle romance. The writing flows effortlessly with the grace and fluidity of an aerialist: each word, each line building together in one harmonious symphony. It is a story full of emotional depth, moving readers to tears of sorrow and joy.

Charlie Lionheart is the hero of every heart, the man whose selfless love and sacrifice paint a picture of God’s love for His children and Christ’s redeeming work for His bride, the church. Ella is the perfect picture of so many who long for the healing that comes through forgiveness and unconditional love. This is a story for the outcasts, those that are different, those that have been looked down upon by society for reasons often beyond their control. Ultimately, this novel is a message to every broken heart best summed up in Charlie’s own words to Ella, “You are loved and you’ll not be forgotten” (p. 317).

Justina McBride, CLJ

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer / by James L. Rubart. 1.30.2018

Thomas Nelson ISBN 9781401686130

Adult Rating: 4

James Rubart, author of The Five Times I Met Myself, pens an inspirational contemporary fantasy for adults.

In The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, Jake Palmer is a successful corporate trainer who coaches others to see their potential. Broken and unsure of life after an accident and recent divorce, Jake agrees to a vacation at Willow Lake with friends. There he meets an old man who tells him about a corridor leading to a place where hurts are healed and dreams come true. Can he find that place and its promises?

Rubart weaves a story with twists and turns, one that draws the reader into Jake’s journey as he explores the ways he thinks others see him. Jake is a broken man on a journey to rediscover his self-worth.

Rubart shows we all are flawed, buying into the labels we think others put on us (or we put on ourselves based on what we think they think about us). The Long Journey to Jake Palmer shows us that we can be free of those labels, and reveals Jake’s self-reflection in such a way that the reader clearly sees the themes of emotional healing and forgiveness. It is not a typical fantasy, filled with talking animals or mythical beings, yet it touches one’s heart by asking, what if there really is a place where my dreams can come true?

Recommended for adult collections in public libraries and church libraries. The Long Journey to Jake Palmer is a winner in both the Visionary category in the 2017 Christy Awards and the Speculative category in the 2017 ACFW Carol Awards.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

The Promise of Jesse Woods / by Chris Fabry. 1.29.2018

Tyndale ISBN 9781414387772

Adult Rating: 5

Chris Fabry has created a compelling coming-of-age story, set both in 1972 and 1984.

When Matt Plumley hears of his childhood friend’s upcoming marriage, he is pulled back to his hometown of Dogwood, West Virginia, in an attempt to change her mind and thwart the wedding. Memories abound of his growing up there as a pastor’s kid and his two very unlikely friends, Jesse Woods and Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock. Although Matt has not seen Jesse in years, he feels he still loves her and that she is making a big mistake in marrying Earl Turley.

The author takes the reader back and forth between the two time periods, providing the back story to the relationship between these three: the things they did together, the places they hung out, and the secrets they kept.

Matt ends up learning more about himself during his time home in Dogwood than he actually changes the course of history for his friends.

The book includes discussion questions and, as always, Fabry’s writing is superb. Readers will be caught up in the story almost as if it were their own. Matt’s Christian faith is evident in the story and a Christian worldview is apparent.

Highly recommended.

Ceil Carey, CLJ

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus / by Beth Moore. 1.26.2018

Tyndale ISBN 9781496416476

Adult Rating: 5

Beth Moore, noted author of devotionals, has done a marvelous job on her attempt at writing fiction, even being nominated for the prestigious Christy Award.

Taking advantage of a free trip to New Orleans seems like a great idea to Jillian at the time of her estranged father’s death. She doesn’t really know why she agreed–they weren’t close, and in fact she didn’t even like him–but a change of scenery might be just what she needs. Adella Atwater explained all expenses would be paid and she could stay at her grandmother’s apartment house where Adella is the manager. Ha! Apartment house? Saint Silvanus is hardly a house at all and the disparate bunch of strangers who live there would give anyone pause.

But as is the case in life sometimes, Jillian finds herself drawn into the drama and lives of the residents (“the colorful collection of saints and sinners,” as the author calls them, again rather like life in general). Her father’s death is discovered to be a murder and Jillian becomes more entwined with the lives at Saint Sans as well as the police.

Many subjects, some considered taboo, arise in this book: abortion, tarot cards, drugs, use of God’s name in vain. The author has made it real for the reader and not pulled any punches while at the same time presenting Christianity.

The characters are intriguing, the story is compelling, and changes of heart allow one to see Christ at work in people and their relationships.

Ceil Carey, CLJ