Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review ~ Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley

Hello Friends!

I've got another fantastic historical romance/mystery for you today! It's Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley. (I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of this book) This is another book that I read about a month ago, and am just now getting to writing about, so I apologize for the delay. This book is the third in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series, and while you can read them in order, this is the only one I have read, and everything made sense. You meet a few side characters who were main characters in the previous books, but it doesn't take away from this story. I really enjoyed them actually, and now can't wait to go back and read the first two books.

Summary: Bank robberies, heiresses, secrets, Oh my! Miranda Hunt, aka Annie Beckman is one of the best detectives the Pinkerton Agency has to offer. After hearing about a group of bandits that have been getting away with bank robberies, train hold ups and general mayhem caused by the Phantom near Last Chance Ranch, Miranda decides to go undercover to the ranch as its newest heiress to try to draw out and capture the Phantom and his gang once and for all!   

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo detective, Jeremy Taggert is also undercover at the ranch for the same reasons. Originally suspecting each other, they soon realize there is more to this story than just a few bank robberies and hold ups. As they wade through the deception and danger, Jeremy and "Annie" find themselves falling in love. Who can they trust? Everyone is a suspect, even the people they think they can trust the most. 

What I liked: The mystery was great! It kept me guessing, and I really appreciated that. The characters are also really well written and I loved getting to know them! I really enjoy Ms. Brownley's style too. Her writing is engaging, suspenseful and humorous at all the appropriate times.

While I'm not a tea person, it was fun to learn about the different types of tea and what they can be used for. And yes, there really is a tea called gunpowder tea.  

What I didn't like: I can't recall anything I didn't like. :)

Take away: I loved how much history was in this book, and how much Ms. Brownley made me want to learn about the Pinkerton Agency. I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia reading about the family and the agency. For example - did you know that the Pinkerton agency still exists today? Or that they there the first organization to hire a female detective - and did so over thirty years before any other police force or organization did so? Pinkerton realized that at that time, women made the best intelligence agents because most men at the time did not consider them capable of understanding most issues, and therefore spoke freely in front of them. This allowed for many female spies to gather critical information (such as the plot to assassinate President Lincoln in Baltimore).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There is romance and intrigue, a historical western and a mystery. If you like any of these genres, you really should enjoy this book!

Happy Readings!

Sarah K.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review ~ A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

Hello Friends!

I'm so sorry it has been so long since I last updated! I've had crazy life stuff happening! My eyes have been acting up, I'm about 3 weeks away from finishing my M.Div and a lot of family stuff going on. However, I have finished several fantastic books over that time, and over the next few days, I plan on posting the reviews for them.

Today's book is a fantastic historical romance called A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears. (I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review) This is her debut novel, and the prequel can be downloaded in ebook format for free. (It's called Love by the Letter) and it too is super cute!

Summary: Everett Cline has had the worst luck EVER trying to find a mail order bride. His brides have arrived dead, already married, left him at the alter because he wasn't wealthy, and some just found a better looking man! He has sworn off brides for good...or so he thinks. Meanwhile, the wife of his best friend has secretly been writing to a girl back east, Julie, and convinced her to come to Kansas to be Everett's bride. Arriving under the impression that she is to be married, Julia is shocked when Everett knows nothing about her! As they get to know each other, they decide to marry for convenience. Though their baggage gets in the way at first, Ms. Jagears does a wonderful job showing how two people can work through their issues as husband and wife, and eventually fall in love.

What I loved: Ms. Jagears writing style is wonderful! She drew me in from the first word, and I felt like I was a part of the story. Her characters are well developed and I cared about them deeply. I was so sad to see the story end, and I cannot wait for more! I also loved her humor sprinkled throughout the book. The book is also very balanced between Everett and Julia's point of views, so you really get to connect with both characters and their inner struggles.

What I didn't like: This isn't so much of a not like as a wish for more - Julia's past was mentioned a lot, but not much was done with it. Part of me is glad, because it kept the story from getting too intense, but part of me wishes there was some closure there. Perhaps in a future book?

Take Aways: Ms. Jagears spends a lot of time dealing with issues that come with marriage, though not in a way that detracts from the story. Rather, it makes the story more real. While few Westerners have been in an arranged marriage, most of us can relate to the struggles that Everett and Julia dealt with: feeling loved, and showing love even when you don't, helping those around us even when we don't want to, putting the needs of our spouse ahead of our own. She also dealt with the issues of spousal abuse (in another couple), and how to help someone be safe from that, which was handled quite well.

The character's struggle with their faith, and God's plan for their lives was also very touching and convicting. Seeking out his will, and trying to better understand his love for them, so they could better love each other, was a good reminder to me as well.

Overall, this book is probably one of the best new books I've read this year. I really loved it! It was romantic, and funny, and made me re-examine my marriage and relationship with God. I fell in love with the characters and cannot wait to hear more from them - especially Helga, and her new adventures back east! If you love historical romance, you will really enjoy this book!

Happy Reading!