Top 21 Books of 2021

This year has been filled with so many amazing books! Every single book on this list earns a 5 star rating and comes highly recommended. Some of them are now even some of my favorite reads of all time. Thank you so much to all these authors, and all the other authors out there, for everything that goes into their books; the worlds they create for us to escape into, the characters we come to care for, the research needed for all the rich history. There is so much that I am deeply appreciative of. Thanks for an incredible year of books!

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Proposing Mischief – Review

by Regina Jennings

Publisher : Bethany House Publishers (December 7, 2021)
Language : English
Paperback : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 0764235354
ISBN-13 : 978-0764235351

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Only one person can give her the freedom she seeks–but is it worth the risk?

Maisie Kentworth is being forced to stay on her parents’ ranch. After a short-lived relationship with the wrong man, she’s worried about inflaming things further between her former beau and her protective family. Left to rue her mistakes, she keeps busy exploring the idle mine at the edge of their property, where she discovers a great treasure.

Boone Bragg is also stuck. With his parents on vacation, the management of Bragg Mining falls on him, and one of his advisors wants him as a son-in-law. One wrong move, and Boone will end up either offending an associate or marrying a woman he can’t endure.

While closing up a spent mine, Boone gets two surprises. One is a spitfire farm girl who’s trespassing with a pickax, and the other is the amazing crystal cavern that she’s discovered. Suddenly Boone sees a way to overhaul the family business. With part of the cavern on Kentworth land, Boone makes Maisie a proposal that he hopes will solve all of their problems. Instead it throws Joplin into chaos, and it will take all of Maisie’s gumption to set things right.


Boone Bragg is incredibly business driven, and he has no time or patience for all the women who throw themselves at him. Maisie Kentworth has made mistakes with guys in the past and she doesn’t want her heart broken again. When Boone finds Maisie trespassing in his mine and she shows more interest in her surroundings than him, he believes a marriage of convenience will help both of them.

I loved Maisie’s personality. She’s so fun and real. She just has to be careful because it can get her into trouble. I have seen some authors write this personality as way over the top, and I was glad that Maisie wasn’t written that way.

Boone straight out annoyed me at times. The man could be so oblivious and tunnel-visioned on work that he ignored everything around him. I felt so bad for Maisie. However, I loved seeing how being around her charged him. They had some really great games together.

Besides the games, the scenes from the mines were some of my favorites. I loved the descriptions of the crystal cavern Maisie discovered. To find all this vast beauty that God has created so far below the surface is amazing. I would have loved to see it.

Regina Jennings’ books are different from any other books I read, and her characters are always so relatable, and the stories enjoyable. I look forward to more of The Joplin Chronicles.

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

major

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

morethanquote

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

alamodequote

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.