Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
When I first agreed to review Understory by Lisa J. Lickel I had the impression it would be a rather tame love story - about a girl born with a disability, who tried hard to overcome her feelings of self-loathing and the prejudice of what she looked like, who meets a man dealing with his own issues and they fall in love. However, when I received the book I realized it was more along the lines of a thriller/suspense, involving murder, deception and a sex-trafficking ring. Not quite what I was expecting, but Lisa is a good writer so I was drawn in from the first page.
The story is intriguing, and has lots of layers or Understory (the title is so appropriate!), but overall I must admit I was a bit disappointed and lost a time or too as I tried to follow all the setups. I think this is because it is not the type of book I typically read. The character of Lily was not quite as developed as I would have liked. It was clear she had some kind of deformity, but it was never clear (until the end) what the disease was and even after it was explained I had a hard time picturing it. The love-story that developed between Lily and Cam also did not seem real to me, but more of an "add-on" to a story that was already full of action.
Overall, I think the book will appeal to those who like action and suspense. I lean more toward historical romances, so I will admit I was probably not the best person to review this book. It is not an overtly Christian book so it could be enjoyed by anyone.
Reviewer: Beverly Wallin
Love, Lies and Consequences (Book II) - Through Thick and Thin tells us exactly that. The pregnant heroine, Raegan, doesn't listen to her fiance's proclamation of love for her, whether or not the baby is his. This book shows that Christians aren't perfect, which I find more interesting than those who have perfect characters.
When the second chapter switched to another couple entirely, I lost a little interest, however it soon became clear the women were friends. Afterwards, I was drawn in and had a hard time putting the book down.
Overall, this was a really good book. The author teaches us to be open, honest, and willing to make compromises, especially in intimate relationships. I would recommend it to couples of all ages and religions.
Reviewer: Janis Cox
Taking us back to the early 1900s, Kathleen brings us face to face with the social issues of the times. One problem that our heroine faces is shown clearly. Families wanted their daughters to marry well. Money and social status superseded happiness and God’s will.
Sophie and Caira arrive in Stone Creek, running away from that scenario.
Since I live in a small town I understood the small town rumours that made Sophie’s struggle all the harder. Hurts run deep in both the main characters, Sophie and Rev. McCormick. As in our lives the ability to learn to trust God and people and to forgive them takes time. Two steps forward and one back.
I enjoyed the story but I did find it slow sometimes. But as in life it takes time to work through our problems. I am a “fixer” so I wanted the characters to figure this out quicker. I kept reading and learned that the characters did indeed need time to truly heal.
Even though rumours can be part of a small town, true friendships are also made. Sophie learns to embrace her friendships as they help her to accept their love and caring.
The story felt true to the life and the times, and with strong characters the reader bonds with them. We feel their frustrations and doubts. This books makes a very good read.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review
Reviewer: Becky Hrivnak
Rumors and Promises, written by Kathleen Rouser, is the first book I've read by this author.
I liked the way that Rouser showed her flawed characters needed to find forgiveness and protection in a sinful world. This early 1900's story took us to a place in time where women who were taken advantage of had little to no protection and suffered the consequences whether they were responsible for the actions or not. The main female character, Sophie showed the vulnerability to the world she lived in and how she had to deal with the life in which she was handed. Thankfully, Sophie was introduced to a community in Stone Creek, Michigan that showed compassion...well, most of the community. Unfortunately, not all of the people of this small community were compassionate but rather chose to spread rumors trying to ruin Sophie's reputation before knowing all of the circumstances.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and how the author brought into the story how compassion and forgiveness are what churches should be found faithful in because that is how Christ looks at us. As sinful as we are, He has provided forgiveness because of His compassion for our sinful state.
My favorite character is Ian. He's a Pastor and finds himself caring for Sophie and Caira and then he finds about her past. He's not perfect even though he's a minister. He has his own burden of guilt that he carries. This story shows how giving those burdens to the Lord can help us deal with today and the things that come up.
I would recommend this book for historical romance Christian fiction lovers. I would suggest that it be a mature adult to read as it does cover (without too much detail) the subject of sexual abuse. It is tastefully covered, but would not recommend this book for teens.
Reviewer: A.J. White
A pleasant story full of drama, suspense, conflict, and forgiveness. I was surprised at my own curiosity about main character Sophie Biddle's mysterious past and read hopefully that her sorrow would turn into joy.
After the first chapters, I wanted to know what had happened that Sophie was hiding from, why was she so afraid that her and her child's true identity might be discovered, and how was she ever going to make it as a single mother in a small town in the 1900's? As the story unfolded, I became acutely aware of how little protection women had in those times as victims of any kind of abuse and that it was even more impossible for them to find justice. That theme was woven into the story very well.
I liked the examples of loving, kind-hearted people caring for Sophie and her child and who helped her and defended her. They were in stark contrast to those who wanted to act superior and judgmental. Here's where I wish modern readers would absorb the messages contained in the story especially that Love is the substance of the two greatest commandments.
Rumors and Promises showed that the church should be a "hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." Read this book to increase your hope that such a condition is possible given courage and grace
Reviewer: Jane Daly
I was immediately drawn into the story because Sophie had to introduce her daughter as her sister. As the story progresses hints were dropped to entice me to find out why.
I don't normally read historical romance, but I had a hard time putting it down.
The only thing that jarred me was the mention of peanut butter. I'm not sure that peanut butter was a thing at the turn of the century.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
Loneliness and regret create a heavy shroud, too heavy for a lovely single mother to bear. Determined to create a new life for herself and her young daughter, "Sophie Biddle" recreates herself in Stone Creek, Michigan, answering an advertisement for a housekeeping assistant, dreaming of owning her own sewing business one day. After meeting the town's kind, handsome minister and his widowed sister, Sophie's musical talents once again become a salve to her soul, but they also open a window to her past that she is terrified will eventually illuminate her secrets.
Reverend Ian MCormick is intrigued by his potential new parishioner and her young sister, offering them assistance in any way that he can. Her beautiful eyes speak of sadness, and her heart, he learns quite by accident, holds deep sorrow. Shielding her the best that he can from the town's malicious gossipers, Ian struggles to keep his feelings at bay, while at the time praying for a way to scale Sophie's defenses.
It's going to take a miracle for this story to have a happy ending, but Ian and Sophie love a God who can "make all things new".
I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Carol A. Brown
Rumors and Promises is a delightful turn of the century romantic fiction that ends with the classic “happy ever after” but at the same time deals with some very dark and hurtful current themes:
Although there is a thread of pain, there is also hope as some good people take a stand against the bully and protect the beleaguered heroine. I appreciated that.
Author K. Rouser did an excellent job in developing her characters. I was drawn to Sophia Bidhershem and quickly became her supporter. I applauded her courage and determination to protect and provide for her daughter. I supported her subterfuge to throw her persecutor off her trail. I loved Pastor Ian for being her champion and the good townsfolk who were willing to not ask so many questions, giving her shelter and another chance! But the “old bitty church lady”---oh, I was happy to dislike her and was glad when she was reined in!
I would recommend Rumors and Promises to any lover of historical romance. I would also advise readers that this is very much a Christian fiction, but the reader should bear in mind that the setting is around the church and one of the main characters is a pastor—so logically, there should be Christian content! Anyone offended by that should not bother picking the book up.
Rouser is a very good writer. The action just kept going! 5 stars!
“Soul H2O will help you start each day with hope and purpose.” Cheryl Weber: Co-host 100 Huntley Street
Reviewer: Edwina Cowgill
Soul H20 is a book written by a woman for women who are thirsty—spiritually thirsty—for the Word of God.
Sherry Stahl is the founder and author of the Soul H20 Blog and has taken forty devotions from her blog to create this book. For all of us busy women (and who isn’t busy?), the devotions are short-two pages long, followed by a prayer and “Drawing From the Well,” additional scriptures pertaining to the devotion for you to read as time permits.
As I read each devotion, I found myself increasingly spending more time on each devotion. With chapter titles such as, “Wrong Way,” “Unwavering Faith,” and “The Reset Button,” each chapter in the book is relative to our everyday life.
Sherry Stahl understands what it’s like to be spiritually thirsty. She has used her experiences and her understanding to write forty timeless devotions that will quench our thirst. Soul H20 is the devotional book that you will want to put on the top of the stack of books on your bedside table. And it’s the devotional book you will want to use time and again.
heroines devise a plan which they refer to as "The Kill Shot" as a means of accomplishing this dangerous task.
But first they must do battle with each other, with their own societal and personal differences and with Darcey's turmoil of wanting vengeance over justice, before ultimately acting out their plan and springing the trap on the outlaws.
Just who is saving who and from what, is a question that you will ponder frequently as the story unfolds.
Reviewer: Elsie Stoltzfus
First off, I will say that the book started off very well. The story was well put together, and interesting. I think I would have liked it, except for the characters! The only one who had any depth was Luv Lass. Darcey was repulsive. And I found it rather hard to believe that a "Lady" would throw plates at a sheriff! Not to mention screaming at him and abusing him so violently that her husband had to drag her away from him! And Luv Lass would swear, but Darcey? I'm sorry, but I just have a hard time taking it seriously.
The book could also use another batch of editing. The lack of punctuation was irritating, as was the occasional use of a lower case letter instead of a capital.
The writing style is not the best, but I think that it could be developed into something. Mostly I'd advise the author to work on his characters.
My rating: Two Star