Top 20 Books of 2020

Losing yourself in a good book was even more important this year than in previous years. I am so thankful for these amazing writers that share their work with us. Here are the Top 20 Books in 2020.

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Courting Misfortune – Review

by Regina Jennings

Publisher : Bethany House Publishers (December 1, 2020)
Language: English
Paperback : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 0764235346
ISBN-13 : 978-0764235344

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Calista York needs one more successful case as a Pinkerton operative to secure her job. When she’s assigned to find the kidnapped daughter of a mob boss, she’s sent to the rowdy mining town of Joplin, Missouri, despite having extended family in the area. Will their meddling expose her mission and keep Lila Seaton from being recovered?

When Matthew Cook decided to be a missionary, he never expected to be sent only a short train ride away. While fighting against corruption of all sorts, Matthew hears of a baby raffle being held to raise funds for a children’s home. He’ll do what he can to stop it, but he also wants to stop the reckless Miss York, whose bad judgment consistently seems to be putting her in harm’s way.

Calista doesn’t need the handsome pastor interfering with her investigation, and she can’t let her disguise slip. Her job and the life of a young lady depend on keeping Matthew in the dark.  


Calista York feels a calling to become a Pinkerton agent and help save people. While undercover on a case, she finds herself in a seedy part of town. Matthew Cook is in Joplin trying to save the lost sheep. When he runs into Calista, he gets tangled up in quite a mess.

I loved how unique this story was and that I didn’t know what would happen next. There were a number of things I didn’t see coming.

This book is connected to Graham and Willow’s story in Intrigue a la Mode (Harvey House Brides), but it can be read as a standalone. Intrigue a la Mode is an excellent story, so I suggest reading it. 🙂

Calista has a large family and at the beginning it got a little confusing with all the characters, but they were all different. I enjoyed learning about each family member.

This book was a good lesson in not judging people. You never know what someone else is going through, and you often don’t have the full story.

I enjoyed reading the author’s note at the end and learning about the history and research that went into the writing of this book.

This was a great start to a new and interesting series.

“You’re my heart, and anything that threatens you threatens my future.”

The Kissing Tree – Review

by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, Nicole Deese

Paperback : 400 pages
ISBN-10 : 0764236121
ISBN-13 : 978-0764236129
Publisher : Bethany House Publishers (October 13, 2020)

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Regina Jennings – “Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts”
When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is put on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer – “Inn for a Surprise”
Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise. 

Amanda Dykes – “From Roots to Sky”
WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they’ve shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese – “Heartwood”Abby Brookshire’s world is turned upside down when the historic tree she’s strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she’s been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?


All of the stories in this collection take place in the same town which is centered around the kissing tree. I love how they can be read on their own, but they are all interconnected. The stories take place during different time periods, so we get to see future generations and how the town changes.

Broken Limbs, Mended Fences by Regina Jennings
Adam always pined for Bella, but she just saw him as the man who destroyed everything.

The intro to this story is perfection! I love the opening scene with the two main characters Adam and Bella, and the last scene in the story is so sweet. I love how everything came full circle. This was a cute story. I liked the storyline and the characters. The title is also cute.

Inn for a Surprise by Karen Witemeyer

Phoebe is a strong independent woman who dreams of running her own inn helping couples find and rekindle love using the town’s legendary kissing tree. Barnabas is tasked with helping his boss’s daughter Phoebe make the inn a success.

I love how this story is interconnected, and there is even an appearance of a character from the first story.

This was such a sweet story, and I loved it. Barnabas and Phoebe may be opposites, but they truly complete each other.

From Roots to Sky by Amanda Dykes
I know many years have gone by since the last story, but hearing about what happened to the future of the inn at the beginning of the story was sad.

I loved the idea of a home built from all the drawings and things Luke had seen that war tore apart. Hannah and Luke made an interesting couple, and I like how a lot of time went by in this story so they had a chance to really get to know each other. The epilogue was sweet.

Heartwood by Nicole Deese
Even though it is a shorter story, I liked that Abby and Griffin were able to grow. I love the little memorial gardens that Abby creates.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I will try to be vague. The scene with the teenagers at the tree drove me nuts, especially comments about “rights” being taken away when it isn’t their right. People like to complain about things, but they don’t do anything to realistically help the cause and find a solution for a problem.

I also didn’t like the ending. If this had been a standalone book, that would be one thing. However, we just read all these sweet stories about things that happened, and then something in this story happens to ruin it all.

The Major’s Daughter – Review

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by Regina Jennings

Series: The Fort Reno Series (Book 3)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 3, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764218956
ISBN-13: 978-0764218958

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She Staked a Claim on His Land,
So He Decided to Stake a Claim on Her Heart

Caroline Adams returns to Indian Territory after tiring of confining society life. She wants adventure, and when she and her friend Amber come across swaggering outlaw Frisco Smith, his dreams for the new territory are very persuasive. With the much-anticipated land run about to happen, she may just join the rush.

Growing up an orphan, all Frisco Smith wanted was a place to call his own. It’s no wonder he fought to open the Unassigned Lands to people with the same longing. After years of sneaking across the border, he’s even managed to build a dugout house on a hidden piece of property he’s poised to claim.

But when the gun sounds, everyone’s best plans are thrown out the window in the chaos of the run. Caroline and Frisco find themselves battling over a claim–and both dig in their heels. Settling the rightful ownership will bring these two closer than they ever expected and change their ideas of what a true home looks like.


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Frisco Smith is intelligent and seems tough on the outside. On the inside, however, he is still the scared little abandoned boy. Not only is he still grieving, but he believes that people don’t ever stick around. He wants to build his own town so that he is surrounded by people that won’t leave.

Caroline Adams wants to make a mark of her own as more than just the major’s daughter. She thinks a boarding house on her own 160 acres will do that.

When Caroline claims Frisco’s land, he is torn between wanting her to go and hoping she never leaves.

“Of course you’ve changed. That girl I admired, I don’t know her anymore. Instead of a beautiful wild vine, all I see now is another potted plant, trimmed and pruned to look like every other one out there. One that will only survive when handled delicately.”

There is so much meaning in the traveling case that Frisco carries around. He has never unpacked it because he only wants to unpack it when he has found his home. A place to belong. This really stuck with me throughout the story.

“He came back and found his traveling case. He paused after he opened the latches. The bag hadn’t been completely emptied since he was a child, and then someone else had packed it for him. He’d learned to keep his things ready for the unexpected, ready for heartache, and ready to be uprooted, but no longer.”

Frisco’s relationship with the other foundlings was special. It was heartbreaking how they tried to make their own little family but were torn apart from each other. Yet each one was trying to make their own way.

This book can easily be read as a standalone. However characters from previous books are in it. I love that this is also the continuation of Bradley and Amber’s story. I adored Bound and Determined but wanted to hear more of their adventures.

“He fell in love with you in August. In Oklahoma Territory, any two people who can tolerate each other in August are in love. Otherwise the heat would make them too cranky to bear.”

Jennings’ characters, story lines, and knowledge of history are all exceptional in this series. These books are both funny and tender. Even in the first chapter alone I had laughed multiple times, and Bucky the goat was a cute little sidekick.

This part of history has always interested me. I’ve read a lot about the homesteading on the 160 acres but the setting up of a town was fairly new to me. Reading the author’s note, it was amazing to find out how many things in this book actually happened.

The Major’s Daughter is exactly why I like the historical fiction genre. Not only does it have the interesting history, it also has romance, laughter, and extremely touching moments.

“He wanted a home, a family to belong to. She understood and was willing to join him, but he had to believe it would last. She couldn’t stake her future on someone who wasn’t sure he had one.”

Serving Up Love: A Harvey House Brides Collection – Review

serving

by Tracie Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (November 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 076423269X
ISBN-13: 978-0764232695

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Bestselling novelist Tracie Peterson joins Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano in this collection of four novellas, each featuring a Harvey Girl heroine. From Kansas to Texas, the Grand Canyon to New Mexico, the stories cross the country with tales of sweet romance and entertaining history.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “More Than a Pretty Face,” a young woman works her hardest to escape poor choices from her youth. Tracie Peterson offers “A Flood of Love,” where reuniting with an old flame after more than a decade offers unexpected results. Regina Jennings’s “Intrigue a la Mode” delights with a tale of a young woman determined to help support her family, despite warnings of danger nearby. And Jen Turano’s “Grand Encounters” heads to the Grand Canyon with a tale of a society belle intent on finding a new life for herself.


Serving Up Love is a collection of tales of adventure and love as the Harvey Girls are able to explore the country as well as discover more about themselves.

A Flood of Love by Tracie Peterson

A Flood of Love was packed with historical details. I love that this was based on true stories and events.

Timing seems to be everything for Gretchen and Dirk. They have only ever loved each other but have been pulled apart. If only communication in those days had been easier.

Katiann is adorable. She seemed to know everything about everyone and is so curious about the world around her. I’m surprised her nannies had such a hard time handling her. I loved that when someone compliments her she says, “I know” instead of “thank you”.

Tracie Peterson is the only author I haven’t read, though I have a number of her books on my TBR list. Now I know why she was so often recommended to me.

More Than A Pretty Face by Karen Witemeyer

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I’m glad that Rosalind from More Than Words Can Say gets her own story. The title of this novella was perfect for her.

She made a bad choice in her past, and she is trying to hide from it. Unfortunately she is transferred back to her home state of Texas and is right back where she started. No matter where she goes now, she cannot hide from her past mistakes. Even after someone repents, our sins can still follow us from the past and have consequences.

After none of his charms had been working, Caleb tried to spark Rosalind’s interest by using a Pigpen cipher. As someone who solves cipher puzzles for fun, I can’t say how much I loved that Caleb and Rosalind wrote to each other in secret code.

“How on earth was she supposed to resist a man who left her a note penned in secret code.”

While Caleb knew of Rosalind for awhile, I think he fell in love with her before he knew her personally. I wish there had been a little more personal conversations before the declarations of love.

“You snuck up on me. Luring my heart little by little with your ciphers and outings, your kindness to old ladies and adolescent dishwashers, until it became fully yours.” “My heart belongs to you for as long as you desire it.”

This story seems a little more serious than a lot of Witemeyer’s other books, but with some of the topics it has to be.

Intrigue a la Mode by Regina Jennings

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I immediately liked Graham and Willow and found their story very engaging. I also liked the historical details and descriptions about the Harvey Girls.

The pace was perfect and the story seemed well developed for a novella. Though it felt complete, I would love to know more about Calista’s adventures and their legendary family tree.

Graham’s secret way in to the depot was funny. He also had some other funny lines.

Grand Encounters by Jen Turano

It seemed like Jack was so smitten with Myrtle before he had even had one conversation with her. Then after months of being awkward with her and only offering one random word, it’s like the floodgates were opened. I did find many of the characters shallow and physically assaulting someone is not a form of humor.

When they did finally have conversations with each other, I liked them as a couple. I also liked Jack and Myrtle’s hobbies of hiking and reading.

Turano has written a number of books about New York Heiresses during this time, and it was interesting to see what would happen if one of them left their high class society to become a Harvey Girl.

The Lieutenant’s Bargain – Review

bargaincover by Regina Jennings

Series: The Fort Reno Series (Book 2)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 4, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764218948
ISBN-13: 978-0764218941

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Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home–and plead his case once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart–but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril–and tests Jack’s resolve to remain single.


My favorite genre is Historical Fiction and this book is a prime example of the reason why. Not only am I getting wonderful characters and a very unique plot concept from Regina Jennings, but due to her research I am also learning things from this time period that I never knew. With her excellent descriptions, I can even picture being at Fort Reno and the nearby reservations.

The characters are realistic and endearing. I always love when characters know each other as children, and the descriptions of Jack’s gawky childhood and cluelessness around women are perfect. He feels more comfortable in his house with books crowded all around him and believes that others should feel the same. Though he has a wonderful sense of humor.

I have always been amazed at people who could paint and Hattie makes use of her gift of painting in a wonderful way.

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I have read the previous books (Holding the Fort and Bound and Determined) in the Fort Reno series, and this book continues with the previous story-lines and characters. Willis even makes a subtle comment about camels which anyone who has read Bound and Determined will understand.

There is so much historical information packed in this book. I loved learning more about the Arapaho school and Fort Reno.

Some of my favorite scenes included Jack trying to impress Hattie at the reservation, many of the scenes at the Arapaho school, and the continuation of Daniel and Louisa’s story.

Jack’s book clutter reminds me of how much I love my kindle. With reading over 200 books a year, the books would take over if so many weren’t digital. I completely recommend adding this book to your collection, though I recommend getting this book in paperback. Every side of it is so pretty!