Friday, August 14, 2015

My Review: Undercover Bride

Pinkerton detective Maggie Cartwright is tasked with going undercover as a mail order bride. Her "fiancĂ©" is widower Garrett Thomas, aka the suspected Whistle-Stop Bandit. No sooner does Maggie arrive in Arizona Territory when she’s confronted with an early wedding date—the clock is ticking on her detective work or she may end up a criminal’s wife! As the day of the wedding draws near, Maggie begins to panic. The problem is that the more she gets to know Garrett and his two adorable children, the harder it is to keep up the deception. Can a man as kind and gentle as Garrett really be the Whistle-Stop Bandit?

About the Author:
Bestselling author Margaret Brownley has published more than thirty-five books and has written for a daytime TV soap.The third book in her popular Undercover Ladies series, Calico Spy, will be published December 2015. She is currently working on a new series. A past Romance Writers of America RITA finalist she has won many literary awards including Readers Choice. Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California. Margaret can be reached through her website;

My Review: 3 stars

Undercover Bride is the second book in Margaret Brownley’s, Undercover Ladies series, though they each stand alone quite well. I’ve read a few of Margaret’s books, though I have to be honest and say that while I’ve enjoyed all of them, she isn’t on my must-read list. Her books are generally cute, engaging, and make me laugh. I can say the same of this one.

The historical details are well done and I had fun peeking into the life of a Pinkerton operative. Unfortunately, it took me almost half of the book to become really interested in the story. The pacing was so slow, that I kept checking to see how much I had left, hoping it would pick up soon. It did about half-way through and I didn’t want to put it down as I was quickly coming to the climax. I confess, I wondered for a while if this was a novella and I had become confused. Her writing style reminded me of one I had read. Days are passed over with little comment and the writing is very surface, if that makes sense. Just when it seemed something important was about to happen in Maggie and Garrett’s relationship, the scene would end. This frustrated me more than anything. I wanted to “see” something happen between them, rather than just having them think about it. I’m more of a show, than tell kind reader.

Characters are definitely her strong suit. I adore the quirky secondary characters she creates, as well as the main characters that are so realistic. This book is no different. I loved Maggie and was cheering for her the entire story. She is kind and sweet with the children, while also being strong and stubborn. Garrett was also a compelling character, though the story doesn’t come from his point of view that often. Which I actually found rather frustrating. I’m assuming she wrote it like that because he is suspect, but as everyone knows how it’s going to end, I really found leaving him out unnecessary.

The mystery was interesting and probably one of the main things that kept me reading. I enjoyed following Maggie and her fellow operative as they attempted to piece together the evidence and find the real criminal. It definitely upped my appreciation for modern technology and the pioneers in the field of law enforcement. I hadn’t considered how much more difficult it would have been, until reading this book.

Another part of the story I enjoyed was the spiritual aspect. This is a Christian novel and reflects those beliefs. I appreciated the emphasis on how important church is and Maggie’s desire to teach the children about God. I also appreciated that Maggie and Garrett’s individual struggles with faith were not glossed over. On the contrary, there is no swift conversion, but rather at the end, we’re still left with Maggie working toward forgiveness. That realism is sometimes rare to find, as most of us love all of the loose ends neatly tied up (I do).

I will end by saying that I did enjoy this book, though I doubt I will ever read it again and it will not receive a place on my keeper shelf. Sorry. I would recommend it to anyone who loves historical romance and is looking for a nice, easy read for a few hours.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Links are below, as always. :)


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Review: Through Waters Deep

I just love this cover!  It's so lovely!  Her red dress is a nice contrast to the darker background and I appreciate them including details from the story.  This is definitely my favorite of her covers and I'm excited to see what the artists come up with for the next book. :)
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.
About the Author:
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. Visit for more information.

My Review: 4 stars

Through Waters Deep is the first book in Sarah Sundin’s, Waves of Freedom series. I love WWII fiction and Ms. Sundin’s books are a particular favorite of mine. I’ve very much enjoyed all of them and obviously had high expectations for this one. I can happily say that it met them.

It’s always incredibly obvious the amount of research Ms. Sundin puts into her stories and I continually enjoy the historical details she includes. I love the descriptions, including the particular words in dialogue, that brings history to life. The story is set in 1941, which was definitely an immensely difficult time in history, with WWII looming on the horizon for the US, fear and tensions running rampant among everyone. I enjoyed how she brought this to life, filling the pages and my mind with the very real fear they faced along with the difficult decisions being made every day. Even though the trials they faced were many, I actually found this story a bit more light-hearted than her previous books. Perhaps because the characters aren’t constantly in the middle of the war, but are rather simply preparing to face the inevitable.

The story started out a bit slowly for me and it took me a few pages to get into it. Though once I did, I didn’t want to put it down. There is a mystery that continues throughout the story and I loved following Mary as she played the amateur sleuth, though with a bit more common sense than is often shown. I was left guessing until very close to the end who the culprit was and I loved the suspense of trying to keep up and figuring out who was guilty. It is actually pretty rare that I’m left wondering that long, so I definitely enjoyed that and must applaud Ms. Sundin for writing an excellent mystery.

Mary Stirling is the heroine of this book, and though I really liked her character, I didn’t connect with her quite as well as I would have hoped. She is quiet - though I wouldn’t call her timid - smart, lovely, and loyal. She is concerned with being prideful, to the point she avoids attention almost to the extreme. I loved watching her come out of her shell and realize that there is a difference between being prideful and conceited, and doing your best to shine for the Lord. And that is really what it came down to for her. She was so afraid of being prideful and making another horrible mistake, that she wasn’t using the talents she had been given. Honestly, I think the only thing I didn’t particularly care for about her, is that her reasoning for avoiding the spotlight seemed a bit childish. Once she got past that “excuse,” (for lack of a better word) I quickly fell in love with her. Seeing her finally step up and embrace her gifts was certainly a highlight of the story for me.
Jim Avery is also an excellent character. He quickly came to life for me and I found myself cheering him on. As a lot of this book is set around a naval yard and boats in general, I loved the analogy used for both him and Mary. They both had to learn to move past fear and be bold, to turn their sails to the win and follow God’s directions. Jim is seen as strong and kind, with an easygoing demeanor. As he often says, he “floats” through life. While that’s okay, on one hand, on the other, he had to learn to take control of his future, to be brave and stand up. I enjoyed watching him learn what it takes to be a leader and that it’s okay to “make waves” in life, sometimes it’s even necessary.

Since both are fairly easygoing and try to do what they see is best, there are several misunderstandings that come between them, as a couple. Though I understood it, nearing the end, I just wanted them to sit down and discuss it, instead of assuming. In spite of this, I did enjoy their romance. I found it toned back a bit from some of her other books, though the current of it is definitely there. They are simply friends through most of the book, which made the progression of their relationship completely believable. The ending made me smile, though it was also sad, with the harbinger of things that would come.

I always appreciate the spiritual side of all of Sarah’s books. It is a very important part of the story and I really enjoyed how she incorporated it. She never came across as “preachy,” nor did it overwhelm the story. It simply flows throughout, with reminders here and there, sometimes a discussion, sometimes a verse. I liked the illustrations she used with the water and sailing. Much of the focus is on following God’s leading and not letting fear keep you from chasing what He has placed before you. I loved that reminder and watching the characters learn to apply it to their lives.

Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys WWII fiction and mysteries!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I apologize for being so scarce around here lately.  I started a new job last month and have been occupied with it and everything that comes with learning a new position.  So, anyway.  I'll hopefully be back here more often, but I'm so scatterbrained right now, that I'm not sure when "soon" is going to be.
If you'd like to learn more about the book, or perhaps purchase a copy, links are below, as always. :)



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