“The Paris Spy” by Susan Elia MacNeal

I love novels about spies and espionage during World War II.  I have a few favorite authors whose books I MUST have and must read.  Susan Elia MacNeal is one of those authors.  I have read all of her Maggie Hope Mysteries.  Her latest, “The Paris Spy” was another one that I could not put down until I’d read it all.  What a rollercoaster of danger, excitement, and historical imaginings!  Maggie is clandestinely in Paris under an assumed name to find a friend and her sister, Elise.  Something is wrong in the SOE (Special Operations Executive).  Agents are disappearing, communication seems to be compromised, but the head of SOE is complacent in dealing with this information.  He just assumes that all is well and that the agents are getting careless.  Maggie keeps a cool head through the dangers, but is caught in a trap.  Although she is returned to England, what happens there will keep me in suspense until Ms. MacNeal’s next Maggie Hope novel has been written.  I can’t wait to read it!!

“My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho” by Susanne Dietze

“My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho” by Susanne Dietze is a delightful novel about mail-order brides.  Think what would happen if you married the wrong man mistakenly.  After almost starving and with no place to live, Rebecca answers an ad in a magazine, receives a reply from Theodore, a mercantile owner in Ruby City.  As soon as she steps off the stage a man runs to her, claims her as his intended and they get married right away.  However when she said “I do” to “Tad”, she thought she was saying “I do” to Ted, Tad’s cousin and then the fun begins.  This scenario may seem a bit contrived to some, but the further escapades of Rebecca and the townspeople provide a fun and enjoyable story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

“Gladden the Heart” by Olivia Newport

In “Gladden the Heart”, Olivia Newport has taken historical events from the mid 1800’s in Pennsylvania and created a very poignant novel.  Susanna and her family are Amish.  Her best friend, Patsy, is the daughter of a Methodist minister.  During a Methodist tent revival Susanna is drawn to the preaching as is her cousin.  Noah begins to preach while under some sort of trance and never remembers what he does or says during these trances.  The Amish bishop and the Methodist minister are at odds with each other over this phenomenon which sets people against each other.  Fear is a potent motivator and folks are caught up in this, even to the point of moving to another state to get away.  Adam loves Susanna, but is fearful of being involved with her because she cares for her cousin and stands by him.  He is afraid that he will lose his vision of God and redemption.  I thought that the way Ms. Newport found the solution to these dilemmas in her novel was compassionate and understanding.  It was an enjoyable read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

“The Nearness of You” by Dorothy Garlock

I have been reading Dorothy Garlock’s books for years.  Her latest are usually set in the 30’s or 40’s, which is my favorite time to read about.  “The Nearness of You” will be published in July, 2017.  This novel is set in 1937 in Hooper’s Crossing, Hew York during their famous Harvest Festival.  Lily Denton is the overprotective mayor’s daughter and she really wants to get away from this little town.  She plans on running away with her friend, Jane, but at the last minute gets cold feet and backs out.  In the meantime, two small-time crooks are planning to rob the town bank after all the money from the festival ends up there.  Life magazine is sending a team of writer and photographer to do a spread on small town festivals.  Boone Tatum is a well-traveled photographer who is not happy at being saddled with this hick assignment.  As always, in Ms. Garlock’s stories, there is a hint of romance (maybe more than a hint) and a hint of mayhem involving the characters.  This book did not fail to provide the story I was expecting.  A light novel, but with characteristic twists and turns.  Check out her other books too.  You will be glad you did.

“The Amish Widower” by Virginia Smith

“The Amish Widower” by Virginia Smith is probably the best Amish story I’ve read that wasn’t a suspense novel or thriller.  Seth is the second son in an Amish family which means that he does not inherit the farm.  He lives with his parents, grandmother, brother’s family, and sister’s family.  It’s a little crowded.   Seth has tried to deal with the deaths of two wives, one in childbirth and one in a buggy accident.  He blames himself for both and has vowed never to marry again.  His family and the district’s bishop have decided that he has grieved enough and keep pushing him to find another wife.  Not only is he dealing with this, but he feels like a fifth wheel in the family.  He is not really needed to help with the farm, a job he hates anyway, and the house is getting too small for the number of people living there.

While he is visiting a pottery shop with the women in his family, he becomes very interested in being a potter.  He is taken as an apprentice by the Amish man who runs the shop.  For a while he travels to the shop from his family home using a driver, Robbie.  Robbie has a secret though and when Seth finds out, his anger overcomes him.  Even though this was not a page-turning thriller, I could not help reading more and more until the situation was resolved.

I think Ms. Smith did a wonderful job of portraying the grief, guilt, and anger that can take over the whole being of a person.  Giving Seth the power over it all is, I think, the gist of the story.  I enjoyed reading this book.

“A Love So True” by Melissa Jagears

In “A Love So True” by Melissa Jagears, Evelyn Wisely and her parents run the local orphanage in Teaville, Kansas.  They are employed by Nicholas and Lydia Lowe who had previously worked there.  Evelyn has a secret, but no one knows anything about it.  She has determined never to marry and is leery of men…all men.  Because of this, she is very active in the Teaville Moral Society and works to bring help, food, medicine and faith to the “soiled doves” of Teaville.  She plans on opening a shelter for these women who want to leave that “profession”, teach them a skill, and see that they get a job.  Of course, all of the members of the Society are not in favor of this.  She must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish this.

David Kingsman has been sent to Teaville by his father, a cold, unfeeling man, to try to revitalize his father’s business there.  He happens upon Evelyn as she is hosting a Saturday picnic for the children of the women she is trying to help.  She wants them to at least have one good meal.  Sometimes the mothers venture to this outing and Evelyn attempts to lead them away from the brothels.  David is captivated by Evelyn and her cause and decides to help.  Along the way, the two find each other, but with everything they have against them, their plans seem to go awry.

I found Ms. Jagears writing style to be very appealing.  Her characters jump from the page as realistic and true.  The story moves along at a steady rate which makes for a leisurely read.

“The Captain’s Daughter” by Jennifer Delamere

Jennifer Delamere wrote “The Captain’s Daughter” which takes place in London around 1873.  We find Rosalyn Bernay venturing out on her own from the orphanage that has been home for her and her two sisters since their parents dies.  Becoming a lady’s maid was a good job and provided an income and place to stay for Rosalyn until the lady married a no-good rake.  His dastardly designs on Rosalyn and his lies about her thievery cause her to run away.  Attempting to avoid detection by this rogue, she made her way to London.  There she was immediately taken in by a local Madame to a brothel.  She escaped, but lost her money and belongings along the way.  She stopped at a doorway and was taken for a new hire in the theater.  Unknown to her, the ex-soldier who attempted to help her at the train station also worked at this theater, where Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta H.M.S. Pinafore was playing.  Rosalyn became the dresser, all the while looking over her shoulder for the lady’s husband to find her and cause trouble.

I thought this was a really interesting story and I loved the references to the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas that were so popular at this time.  London seemed a dirty and dangerous place, especially for a young woman on her own.  The rewarding part of this novel is the generous help Rosalyn had along the way.  I know you will enjoy this story.  It is a little out of the norm, but I thought it was well written.