The Making of Mrs. Hale – Review

halecoverby Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope (Book 3)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (November 27, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825445353
ISBN-13: 978-0825445354

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Marry in haste, repent in leisure–Mrs. Hale is about to find out how painful that repentance can truly be.

Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where–or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her. Especially now that she might be carrying a baby from her brief marriage.


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The Making of Mrs Hale is the third in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope Series. Julia appears in the first book, Winning Miss Winthrop. I suggest reading that and Miss Serena’s Secret before reading this book. There are a number of characters that have appeared in previous books. Some characters are even from Carolyn Miller’s other series Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace. I loved The Elusive Miss Ellison and really enjoyed seeing those characters again.

This book is more raw and serious than most books I tend to read. This is a story about forgiving others and forgiving yourself. And most importantly we need to seek forgiveness from God.

I often have a hard time sympathizing with heroes in the rake to redemption story-lines. Especially if they continue to struggle with their problems. While reading this story I was wishing that Julia’s brother Jon would have a talk with his friend Nicholas to get a better perspective. I understand Jon wanting to protect his sister, but he really needed to adjust his attitude to be more Christian like. This reminded me that I needed to work on my attitude on forgiving people as well.

I liked seeing the different stages of Christianity. Nicholas seemed to be very strong in his faith and able to help others. Julia and Thomas were still learning their way. Thomas’ father had a mindset that turned people away from God. He was a preacher yet he was always telling people what they did wrong in a very unloving way and telling them that they would never be good enough.

Sections of the book switched between the present and the past. There were a lot of unexpected elements and I liked that I didn’t know what was coming next. Though it did seem like everyone wanted to kick Thomas while he was down.

There are often stories that involve a character running off to get married at Gretna Green but we don’t often get to hear what happens after the marriage. While I enjoy reading a light-hearted funny story, I think it is also important to read stories like this. I feel that by reading about the person behind the sin it helps us to be more forgiving and understanding.

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love through the Generations – Review

heirloomcoverby Kristi Ann Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 2, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780764230783
ISBN-13: 978-0764230783

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In Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Fulbright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local businessman. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?


I love the idea behind this book of an heirloom because passed through the generations. And what better time than Christmas? 🙂

 
Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter

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Having read all of Kristi Ann Hunter’s published works, I had a feeling I would love this one as well. She writes such interesting, unique, imperfect characters. Not only are they more realistic, but you really want to root for them to get their happy endings.

Randall Everard is a third son.  I never really considered a third son’s life during this time period. He is neither the heir nor the spare, and he is just trying to find his place.  There is no set path for him, which has both positives and negatives.

Sarah Gooding is seen before in the Haven Manor series. I love when stories are interconnected, though this book can be read as a stand alone.

I loved how much Christmas was in this story and how it fit together so well. I also loved the message that you should be able to live your life no matter what age you are.

The scene with Sarah playing the piano was hilarious and one of my favorites.

Though I would love to spend more time with the characters, it has the feel of a full length novel and doesn’t feel rushed.

 
Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer

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Like Hunter, Witemeyer is another one of my favorite authors. As a member of her “Posse”, I love that she dedicated the story to us!

Karen Witemeyer also creates characters who are not perfect. She has the ability to make her characters strong while also being incredibly vulnerable.

I loved the Biblical connection to the Ruth and Boaz story.  Besides the names, there were so many little connections as well.

Beauregard “Bo” Azlin was one of those characters you feel an instant connection to.  The back story of Bo’s childhood where his mother considered him damaged goods is heart breaking.  Bo tried to be fair to everyone and not give special treatment but he also helped protect those in need. I liked the scene where Bo is holding the heirloom and vowing to keep it safe for Ruth. It was also sweet how he liked to keep the heirloom near his heart.

Witemeyer’s books always contain some funny moments.  When Bo calls the stray cat a miscreant, little Naomi mistakenly believes that the cat’s name is Miss Creant. Bo and Naomi have a number of sweet and funny conversations.

While this felt like a very complete story, I want it to continue. I’m not ready to leave these characters.

 
A Shot at Love by Sarah Loudin Thomas

It took me awhile to get into this story.  The beginning was inundated with hunting and gun talk. While I don’t have a problem with hunting for need, I don’t like the “sport” or bragging that was involved.  The second half of the book was a lot more enjoyable for me.

I liked that Fleeta was a different kind of character.  She wasn’t “girly” and she liked the same jobs and hobbies that were usually only thought of for men.

Jack the bird was a fun little character and I liked the cousins.

I have read a novella by this author that I enjoyed and I own a few other books that are on my TBR list that I look forward to reading.

 

 
Because of You by Becky Wade

I want to start out by saying that I read over 200 books a year and out of those 200, less than 5 are contemporary. And those contemporary ones are usually by favorite authors of mine.  I just tend to find issues with a lot of contemporary books.

In the first few pages, I began to be turned off by the usage of some “trendy” modern words but was still very open-minded. Then there was the character Maddie. Maddie has been pining for Leo for years, including the time he was married to her friend. She didn’t seem to find anything wrong with that.  Then after his wife dies and he is interested in Maddie, she suddenly feels like she is betraying her friend.

Maddie spends a lot of time taking pictures for her Instagram. That in and of itself didn’t bother me. It was the fact that she would be in the middle of a conversation involving charity and she would have to stand up and take 50 shots trying to get the perfect photo of her salad and chips. Seriously? And I know some people like to look at food pictures for some reason, but a salad and chips? Then when Leo doesn’t understand, she calls him “quaint”.

There are a few conversations with Maddie and her grandmother Fleeta. Comparing Fleeta from the previous story, who is a strong, independent woman, with Maddie makes Maddie’s personality even more surprising. Maddie’s mother, Laura, also seems flaky. And it was sad how a sentimental heirloom that has been passed down since the 1700s was treated.

There were some positives.  I liked Leo.  He was sweet and adorably awkward but was also loyal to his wife and a good father. I like that adoption was included in the book but the fact that the girls had been adopted wasn’t dwelled upon. And I loved that Charlie picked out a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Because of You wasn’t for me. As I mentioned though, contemporary fiction isn’t really my favorite genre.

The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection – Review

victorianbridesby C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstad, and Erica Vetsch

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1683227190
ISBN-13: 978-1683227199

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Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love?

Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley
1837 Framlingham, England
How can widow Ophelia Hanover give her son a perfect Christmas when his guardian, the Earl of Litton, arrives early to take permeant custody of the boy?

One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase
1855 Devonshire, England
Wounded soldier Tristram Nowell returns home to indulge his mother’s wish for a family Christmas—and encounters Marianna Granville. Can he forgive the former heiress who jilted him years before?

Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher
1857 Elmira, New York
SarahAnn Winnifred overcomes orphanhood apprenticing with pioneering doctors. Rufus Sedgwick, relocating his English estate, seeks help for his ailing Mum. Christmas reveals the secret wish of both hearts—for love.

The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew for help.

Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze
1875 County Durham, England
This Yuletide, Bennet Hett, Viscount Harwood, offers Lady Celeste Sidwell matrimony and the Star of Wonder diamond necklace, as their fathers arranged. When the diamond disappears, will they find a greater treasure?

Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad
Chicago, Christmas 1880
Widowed harpist Beatrix Kent believes love can only come once in a lifetime, but this Christmas, carpenter Hugo Sherman hopes to pull on the musician’s heartstrings and prove her wrong.

The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch
1880s London
Melisande Verity might be in over her head trying to create the perfect Christmas window display, but if she succeeds, will she finally attract the attention of her boss, Gray Garamond?

A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer
London, England, Christmas 1899
Lady Ashleigh Pendleton is hosting a houseful of guests for Christmas when railroad executive Christopher Campbell unexpectedly arrives from America with a mysterious agreement signed by their fathers before their birth.

The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach
1900. Small town along the Potomac near Washington DC
A glass ornament. Love letters tied in red Christmas ribbon. Lily Morningstar and British antiquities expert Andrew Stapleton are drawn into a family secret that binds their hearts together.


This is a collection of 9 stories of romance that take place at Christmas time during the Victorian era. Overall it was a very enjoyable read that I would recommend.  My favorite story from the collection was Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley.

 

One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase

Marianna Granville is the companion to Tristram Nowell’s aunt. Tristram is not happy to see Marianna again because he believes that she turned down his proposal years ago because she wanted to please her father and marry for money.  After the financial ruin and death of her father, Marianna and Tristram’s positions have now reversed but does their love remain after all these years?

This story reminds us that we should know all the facts in a situation and we shouldn’t hold on to grudges.

I liked the use of switching between time periods. It helped keep the novella moving along at a great pace.

I found some scenes in this story that reminded me of Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

 
Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze

Lady Celeste Sidwell and Bennet Hett, Lord Harwood, are to have a marriage arranged by their fathers unless they are able to stop it. They both have work they want to continue before even considering marriage and they hardly know each other.  Will solving a mystery bring them closer together?

I liked the characters in this story.  There was some predictability in the plot but it was still an enjoyable read.

 
The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach

Lily Morningstar is an aspiring writer. Andrew Stapleton is an expert in antiquities. They have been anonymously writing to each other for a year. Now they want to work together to figure out who wrote some love letters that Lily found.

Lily seems more in love with having a Christmas wedding with holly, ivy, and candles, than with an actual marriage or husband. Their relationship also seems pretty superficial. Lily seems flaky and acts like a child.

I just couldn’t get into the story and didn’t feel invested in the characters.

 
Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher

“It isn’t my home.  It’s just where I live.”

SarahAnn Winnifred is training to be a doctor and Rufus Sedgwick’s mother is her patient. The Sedwicks had to leave England for Elmira, New York and Rufus is rebuilding their English home there for his mother.

Misunderstandings and communication are major issues in this story. SarahAnn and Rufus almost lost a chance to be together because they misunderstood and didn’t communicate. They also both misjudged each other when they first met. Rufus also almost missed a relationship with his father because of a misunderstanding.

SarahAnn grew up in an orphanage and didn’t have a family. Once a week she returns to care for the orphans.

Some of my favorite scenes were with the orphans, especially the three brothers.

I like the connection that we are never orphans though God’s adoption.

 
A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer

During the first Christmas without her mother, Lady Ashleigh Arrington must play the perfect host even though she feels she lacks elegance refinement and sophistication.

Her hosting abilities are tested when Christopher Campbell returns from her past. Christopher is an American whose family was friends with her mother.  Eleven years earlier he liked to play tricks on her and set a fire, almost burning down the house.

In their youth, their mothers agreed to an arranged marriage for their children and to get out of it they must be engaged or married by that Christmas Eve.

I liked the childhood stories and wish there were more of them. I also would have liked this novella to be longer, then their falling in love wouldn’t have been so fast.

 
The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Eugenie Mott is expected to marry Horace Ontevreden who is over 20 years her senior. Before a commitment is made, Eugenie’s father dies.

Percy Gladstone is a barrister whose family is unexpectedly visiting him for Christmas.

There were too many characters and too many things going on. It seemed like there were a ton of side characters briefly mentioned that may be from other side stories. (I confirmed this after reading the book)

I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters.

I did like that some of the story was based on real historical events.

 
Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley

Geoffrey Landson, Lord Litton, comes to collect his ward Joshua from his widow mother, Ophelia Hanover, right before Christmas

Before Ophelia married her husband, she shared a past with his cousin Geoffrey.  Geoffrey kissed Ophelia on a dare but she believed he never really loved her.  Now years later he is back to claim her son and his ward after her husband’s death.  Both must search their feelings from the past or lose a future together.

Geoffrey was always reckless and willing to be dared to do anything until his most recent dare almost costs him his life. Now he has vowed to turn that life around.

I found this story very interesting and I liked the characters.

I also thought how the paper stars were used at the end was cute.

 
Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad

Hugh Sherman’s daughter is taking music lessons from the widow Beatrix Kent. As Beatrix’s feelings for Hugh grow, she must decide if she is willing to lose what she loves for him.

This story is about characters who hold on to anger from the past and blame others. It also is about deciding if people are worth more to you than things.

I don’t like when people suddenly compare their late spouse to their current love interest, and they always seem so negative about the late spouse.

I thought it was funny that Hugh seemed so intimidated by picking out a doll for his daughter Clara.

Overall this was a cute story.

 
The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch

Melisande Verity is the department head for chocolates and confections. She is chosen to do the stores Christmas window display even though most believe a young woman can’t do it justice. As Melisande’s boss’s grandson, Gray Garamond oversees the work on the display.

Gray’s biggest concern is making a profit which he believes is more important than people.

There was a chasm between the two and Melisande felt she was putting on a false persona when she was in Gray’s world.

I had never heard the name Melisande and it wouldn’t roll off my tongue.  I would pause every time I got to her name until I changed her name to Melissa in my head.

I enjoyed this story but I wish they had a little more of a connection.

Miss Serena’s Secret (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope #2) – Review

serenacoverby Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope (Book 2)

Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (July 24, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825445345
ISBN-13: 978-0825445347

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With devastating scars in her past, Serena Winthrop is sure no man can be trusted–especially not a man like the too-smooth Viscount Carmichael. His reputation as a flirt and a gambler is everything she despises. And the young artist makes sure that this disreputable heir to an earldom knows of her deep disapproval whenever they encounter one another.

Henry, Lord Carmichael, is perfectly aware of his charms. He’s gambled with plenty of ladies’ hearts as easily as he has with their husbands’ money. But lately he’s wondered if there’s more to life–and if his actions might prove unworthy of an admirable wife such as his friends have found.

When Serena’s guardian asks his best friend to protect his young ward, Henry promises to be on his best behavior and not to woo her. But the more he learns of her, the more he realizes she might be his best reason for changing his character.

Then the lady’s painting leads her to London infamy. Now Henry must choose between the life mapped out for him as the earl apparent and the love of his life. And Serena’s secret may mean the end of his titled family line.


If only I could function without sleep…

It was four in the morning before I finally forced myself to put the book down and the next day I was quick to pick it up and finish it.

This book was filled with an entire range of emotional moments that were: funny, romantic, tense, joyous… There were raw emotions, whether it was a child born into the world or a beloved character called home. I held my breath though a scene which is so unlike me and during another scene I literally dropped my jaw.  I was so glad no one was watching me while reading this book!

Carolyn Miller always has such interesting, dynamic characters. I love how she describes the scenery, and I can vividly picture it. As a landscape photographer I can relate with Serena seeing God’s work in His glorious creation and trying to capture it.

The parts with the children were some of my favorites. Like when Serena was trying to paint the bouncy children and they were asking her questions about Uncle Henry. I also liked the way Henry interacted with the children. Those scenes were so precious.

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Miss Serena’s Secret is not a story where things go perfectly, and that is one of the reasons why I recommend it. While it’s nice to read a story that is happy and positive all the time, it’s not very realistic. This book’s realistic scenarios remind us of how we all should live. Love endures all things. Bad things will happen but we must continue to love God and love others and see the good He provides us with.

At the end of Miss Serena’s Secret it shows a preview of Carolyn’s next book in the series The Making of Mrs. Hale. I am very much looking forward to it even more after reading that preview.

Moon and Stars (Descendants #4) – Review

moonstarscover by Elizabeth Johns

File Size: 1223 KB
Print Length: 234 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: June 11, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B07DNMS1FW

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Lady Charlotte Stanton was officially on the shelf. Her first offer to be a chaperone had sealed her fate at the advanced age of eight-and-twenty. Yet, one magical evening a mysterious gentleman took pity on her and danced with her clandestinely under the stars. He refused to tell her who he was—other than unsuitable. It has ruined her peaceful existence as an aging spinster.

Sir David Douglas, known to many as Captain Deuce the infamous smuggler, regardless of having changed his ways and made his fortune away in the Indies. His past was destined to follow him forever. Despite helping bring down a high level smuggling ring, the King wants him to do more to earn his pardon. Reluctantly, he is forced back into the dark trade of smuggling once again.

As Sir David struggles to gain his freedom, Lady Charlotte tries to unravel his mystery and help him. But will she find her happily ever after or will she be caught up in the sins of his past?


I have to admit that I stayed up until 6am reading this book. I liked the characters, the plot and the adventure throughout the story.  I also loved seeing characters from some past books.

Sometimes I find it hard to like a character when they appeared negatively in a previous book.  However, David seemed to be truly repentant and trying his best to be a better person. He now believes he is not good enough due to his past. Due to her looks, Charlotte also believes that she is not good enough.

I do wish that Charlotte and David would have had a little more interaction together and got to know each other better.

The family is this book is hilarious. I love that they always seem to travel in a pack.

I rate Moon and Stars 5 stars and I highly recommend it.

A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor #1) – Review

honorcoverby Kristi Ann Hunter

Series: Haven Manor (Book 1)

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 5, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764230751
ISBN-13: 978-0764230752

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When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.


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A Defense of Honor is a standalone book and can be read as such. However, the prequel A Search for Refuge really helps set the stage and it is free on Amazon.

This book had a unique and interesting plot, especially for the time period.  I have read a lot of stories set during this era and have never read anything like this.

It had a mix of very serious topics along with some funny moments. I loved the ongoing joke of how Kit FitzGilbert and Lord Graham Wharton met and their love of dancing with plants.

While this book is largely about the aristocracy it stills has a raw realness to it with feelings and situations that are seen today.

One of the themes of this book was learning to follow God’s will.  Also, needing to realize how blessed you are and that to be a good person you must help those who are less fortunate.

“A good man sees what he’s been given and does the best he can to earn it.”

I really enjoyed that this book was not predictable, had an interesting storyline, and there were a number of characters I want to know even more about in future books.

More Than Meets the Eye (Patchwork Family #1) – Review

eyecover

by Karen Witemeyer

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 5, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764212834
ISBN-13: 978-0764212833

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Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?


As a fan of Karen Witemeyer, I knew right away that I wanted to read More Than Meets the Eye. She is a master of dialogue and descriptions and her characters are always interesting and unique.

This book wasn’t just about Logan and Evangeline. It was about an entire patched together family and I felt invested in each character.

The prologue immediately pulls you in and is so incredibly emotional. I had heard it was a “tear jerker” and I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t! It was that moving.

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This was one of my favorite quotes from the book and really pulled the characters and the entire story together.

Evangeline spent her entire life being judged for her different colored eyes. It was sad when she was a little four year old being bullied. It was even worse when “Christians” at her congregation judged her and were superstitious.

Logan is not only outwardly scarred, but he holds the scars of his past in his heart. He is intent on taking revenge on someone he feels wronged his family.

“Vengeance doesn’t heal pain, Logan. Love heals pain.”

Zach is a complex character who has a wide range of emotions. He is vulnerable and fiercely protective of his family, yet he puts on a hard exterior. I would love to see what his future holds after this book concludes.

Seth is asthmatic and Christie is deaf and was abused in her past. However, they find a kindred spirit in each other and have such a sweet relationship.

They are great characters on their own but even better when they are together as a family.

There was action and a mystery surrounding Christie that was interesting to follow throughout the book. There were also secrets between Evangeline and Logan. A lot of times secrets do not come out until the end of a book. I liked that they came out earlier and were addressed.

I also liked the lighthearted moments in the book. Evangeline had a unique pet named Hezekiah that made for some funny scenes. Logan also named his pet, Shamgar, a Biblical name.

More Than Meets the Eye had action, mystery, some comedic moments and a lot of heart. I highly recommend this book.

Some other favorite quotes:

“Go peddle your pessimism somewhere else, mister, I’m not buying.”

“I want honesty, even when the truth is less than palatable.”

“Love stayed. Even when things became messy and unpleasant, love stayed.”