“This Treacherous Journey” by Misty M. Beller

“This Treacherous Journey” by Misty M. Beller was an interesting book to read.  This novel takes place in 1851 and after, in the Rocky Mountains, Montana Territory.  The beginning finds Simeon Grant and his wife Nora travelling through rain trying to find a dry place or help.  Nora is in labor and needs a midwife or doctor.  They come upon a cabin and find that the couple living there are kind and accommodating.  The wife helps Nora through the birth of twins, but cannot save her life.  Simeon, knowing that he cannot care for two tiny infants, having no home or shelter, decides to leave his children with the Scotts to raise as their own.

Five years later finds Simeon a virtual recluse on his land.  He hears someone coming and finds that Joseph and Emma Malcolm are on their way to Alberta, Canada.  Emma’s husband has been hanged for fraud and there is a price on her head also.  As she is innocent, the siblings are on their way to their aunt’s home in Canada trying to evade the authorities.  Emma is pregnant and wants to hurry on their way.  There is an accident and Joseph needs help.  They come upon Simeon’s cabin, a welcome refuge.  After a few weeks they decide to move on and beg Simeon to guide them through the Rockies.  He is adamant that a pregnant woman should not be travelling, especially with the cold weather and snow looming.  There are also, wild animals, Indians, the weather, the terrain, hazards that would plague them.  Seeing they are bound and determined to go, he decides to take up the task.  All of those things that could plague them do and the way is very difficult.  Emma is strong though and able to continue on.  What transpires among the three people is the rest of the story.

Although I enjoyed reading this book, I could not help but wonder at the advisability of a very pregnant woman travelling on horseback, with few provisions or comforts on narrow rocky trails on this long journey.  I also wasn’t comfortable with the brother’s knowledge of the mountains, nor his prowess.  The journey did not make sense at all.  However, Ms. Beller’s imagination in writing the story kept me reading.

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“Keturah” by Lisa T. Bergren

Although I have not been a fan of series set in the West Indies previously, I am a fan of Lisa T. Bergren’s novel “Keturah”, book one in the Sugar Baron’s Daughters series.  I found the description of life in the lush tropical islands to be probably true, but not at all what I envisioned living in the tropics would be.

Keturah is reeling after being released from an abusive marriage by the death of her husband.  She returns to the family manor to be with her sisters, Verity and Selah.  Upon word reaching them of their father’s death on a sugar plantation on Nevis in the West Indies, Keturah is determined to travel there to try salvaging the plantation that seems to be in trouble.  She might not go to that length if their manor home in England was safe.  But her father sold off land that could have been profitable for them in order to provide more funds for the plantation.  Not to be left out, Verity and Selah vow to travel with her.  A long-time friend, Gray, promises their uncle to keep a watch on the girls, which he will have to do quietly, as Keturah has vowed to bow to no man ever again.

Upon landing in the West Indies, the girls and Gray find that their respective plantations are direly in need of restoration.  Although abhorring the practice of keeping slaves, it is necessary for the economic welfare of the islands.  Also, the other plantation owners and their overseers do not cotton to a refined lady, or any lady or woman taking up the reins of a plantation and being kind and generous to the slaves (Keturah calls them “her people”).  She is thwarted at every turn and vows that she will succeed.

I found the living conditions described on Nevis were sharply divided among those who had money and status and those who did not.  Treatment of the slaves was abominable and usually left to the mercy of the overseers, who could be kind or not, mostly not.

Because I found that I truly learned something from this historical novel, I am bound to read the following novels as soon as they are published.  I was very impressed that Ms. Bergren really studied her history in regards to this series.  I am eagerly awaiting her new novels.

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“The Sea Before Us” by Sarah Sundin

Well, finally, the book I’ve been waiting for has been published!  A new series by Sarah Sundin, Sunrise at Normandy’s first book, “The Sea Before Us” is worth the wait.  Ms. Sundin’s meticulous research into all aspects of the time period she writes about gives her books that touch of reality even though they are written as historical fiction.  She also weaves historical facts and events in the stories as they happened, only changing names and certain locations.

“The Sea Before Us” tells the story of the events, planning, and multi-level participation by air, land, and naval personnel brings the enormity and comprehensive multi-pronged war plan to life.  The characters also show how different combat divisions worked together to accomplish what seemed the impossible.  The idea that the weather, the sea, the Allied forces, the German knowledge of “something big” happening all had to come together for this mission to be successful is mind-boggling.

I also love how Ms. Sundin keeps different story lines running through her novels.  We learn about history on one hand, try to solve mysteries on the other, and still have a romantic theme in these books.  I tried to read slowly, so as to savor this long-awaited novel, but I just had to keep turning pages.  Now I have to be patient, waiting for the next books in the series, “The Sky Above Us” and “The Land Beneath Us”.

“The Friar” by Samantha A. Cole

“The Friar” by Samantha A. Cole called me to read it because of the synopsis.  Adam is a just released prisoner who was incarcerated for involuntary homicide.  While a friar, he came upon another friar assaulting a young boy.  In saving the youngster, he pushed the offender, who struck his head and died.  To keep the young boy from testifying he pled guilty and took his punishment.

Leaving prison, he drifted for a while.  Coming upon a horse ranch, he asks for work in return for room and board.  The widowed mother of two decides to take a chance.  She desperately needs the help to keep her ranch afloat.  Working together, Adam is falling in love with Sage and her children.  He is trying to overcome his past and hopes that he can have a new life.  Sage and her children are in danger when strange things begin to happen.  Is it the next door property owner trying to drive her away or something more sinister?

Loved the book!

“Melody of the Soul” by Liz Tolsma

Liz Tolsma has written another wonderful book set during WWII.  “Melody of the Soul” is a compellingly thrilling novel.  Anna is a Christian Jew living with her family in Prague.  Her parents and sisters have gotten their deportation papers and must leave for a concentration camp.  Anna is left to care for her elderly grandmother in their tiny apartment, awaiting their turn to be deported.  The Nazi’s have removed a Jewish family from the apartment downstairs in order to move in a Nazi officer, Hauptmann Horst Engel.  Anna was a music student at the university until the Nazi’s forbade the Jews from attending.  She plays the violin and keeps playing despite an order that Jews are forbidden to play any instruments.  Hauptmann Engel hears her playing and loses himself in her music.  Horst is weary of the war and extremely troubled by what the Nazi’s are doing to the people and by what his role in the war has become.

When Anna and her grandmother receive their deportation papers, Horst hides them in his apartment.  He cannot in good conscience be a party to their demise.  When a fellow officer finds out about his obstruction, they must all run far and fast.  Horst and Anna become very close to each other despite their different backgrounds and the rules forbidding their comradeship.  Ms. Tolsma’s story of their escape and the atrocities that occur keep the reader from putting the book down.  I cannot wait for the next stanza in the Music of Hope series.

“The Alien Corn” by Clare Flynn

Following her book “The Chalky Sea” is Clare Flynn’s sequel “The Alien Corn”.  I guess this could be a stand-alone novel, but it helps I think to read the first one.

The book begins in Ontario, Canada, in September 1945.  Jim Armstrong has come home.  His brother did not make it back from the war and his widow lives on the farm with her daughter.  Joan and their son remain in England.  Jim is not the same man who left.  He has seen too much, heard too much, experienced too much.  He is lonely for his wife and persuades her to bring their son to Canada “for a while”, with the caveat that they would return to England.  Joan and Jimmy come to the farm and are lovingly welcomed by Jim.  Not so much by Jim’s mother and ex-fiancée.  Joan is left adrift, with no one to talk to, nothing to do, stuck in the country away from city life.

This story is as engrossing as the first book in the series and I was hard put to stop reading when I had to do something else.  I love Clare Flynn’s writing and will definitely find more of her books to read.

“The Chalky Sea” by Clare Flynn

Since I am a devoted fan of all things about World War II, I could not resist downloading “The Chalky Sea” by Clare Flynn.  A native of Liverpool, England, Ms. Flynn has written a wonderfully descriptive novel of the war as experienced on some of the towns and cities on the coast of England.

Gwen and Roger Collingwood has a less than romantic marriage.  Because of an incident in Gwen’s life as a child, she keeps her emotions to herself, not allowing herself to care.  Their home is in Eastbourne, near the cliffs of Dover.  Nazi bombing comes to their area with Gwen being a part of the Women’s Voluntary Service, she helps those who have lost everything.  Roger, her husband, is part of an intelligence agency and she has no idea where he is stationed.  Her goal is to carry on, with her prickly attitude influencing everything she does.

Jim Armstrong lived on his parents’ farm in Ontario, Canada.  As a farmer, he was not liable for conscription.  However, he did entertain thoughts that he should sign up to help defeat the enemy.  He was engaged to be married in a year to a childhood friend.  His life seemed predestined.  However, one small problem…his fiancée was in love with his brother.  When he found them together, he lost it.  He fled to Toronto, enlisted in the Canadian army.  He was sent to England and billeted with Mrs. Collingwood.  Both of them were broken souls and eventually helped each other mend.  Jim also met Joan and after being together, he found that Joan was pregnant, and married her before he shipped out.  What happens next is found in the next novel in the series, “The Alien Corn”.

I love the way this book is written.  Even though war is upon them, the characters in the story find that life goes on and that one must adapt to it or perish emotionally, spiritually, and physically.