It’s time for another month of the Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge: Unlock an Adventure. I’m so excited to join you on an adventure this year with guest reviews from our reading challenge participants. If you want to submit a review for upcoming months, feel free to sign up for a month here and use the Google form to submit your review. As my time has become too limited to do a suggestions post each month, I encourage you to jump over to the Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge page and ask for suggestions from there or from any of a number of amazing reader groups like Avid Readers of Christian Fiction or check out the Inspirational Historical Fiction Index.
*The list of prizes available from my prize shelf can be found here.*
August’s Theme: Bounty Hunter
September’s Theme: Time Travel
A Worthy Pursuit
by Karen Witemeyer
Review by: Crystal Caudill
Out of a need to have an audiobook to read this month, I had to abandon my original read in order to finish the reading challenge on time. Karen Witemeyer has long been a personal favorite–especially after her sweetness in sending my dying grandma a signed copy of Stealing the Preacher–the book we started to read during my goodbye trip. I can’t read a Karen Witemeyer book without remembering that sweetness and being grateful to the kindness she bestowed on my grandma. I now have that copy book, as well as the one we read together, as treasured possessions on my shelf. All the sentimentality aside, I knew that I couldn’t go wrong by picking up a book of hers that has long been on my TBR pile.
Karen never fails to bring humor, faith, and complicated characters to a wonderful story. They are light and airy while still being full of substance and the danger I crave. Stone and Lottie were two characters I thoroughly enjoyed. They were each strong individuals who sought to protect those who were defenseless, even at great cost to themselves and their reputations. Listening to the story as I prepared for a conference and tried to set my house to rights made the tedious tasks more enjoyable. I loved the antics of the children, Stone’s persistent calling of Dobbson as “gnome,” and the special talents of each character. Oh! And I LOVED all the ties to dime novels. I won’t give anything away where that is concerned, but I thoroughly enjoyed the real heroes of the West and not just their fictionalized versions. Overall, I definitely recommend this story for those looking for an exciting story with romance, laughter, danger, and a swoony hero.
For Fans of: westerns, swoony heroes, children in peril, bounty hunters, sweet romances
Genre: Historical Romance, Western
A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?
Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.
Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.
When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?
Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.
Amazon | Baker Book House | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook
For your chance to win a print copy, comment with what book YOU read for this month and you will also be entered into the year-end Grand Prize Reader Basket. Use the Rafflecopter below for extra entries and to mark that you left a comment. Entries end on the 7th of each month at midnight EST, and the winner will be drawn sometime that week and notified by email. The winner will be announced don’t the Rafflecopter widget.
*Open to all residents of the contiguous USA, legally able to enter, and an e-book format or Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to those outside that range who are legally able to enter.
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Recommendations for September:
- When the Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer
- In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer
- Jody Hedlund’s Waters of Time series
- Lisa T Bergren’s River of Time series
- The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone series by David James Warren
- Stephanie H. McGee’s Back Inn Time series
What did you read for the challenge? What were your thoughts on it? Would you recommend it?
We’ve finished the last month of the Unlocking the Past 2022 Reading Challenge: Around the World. This month we traveled to any country, so long as it was Christmas, and my choice of story was actually the Christmas collection from Karen Witemeyer, Under the Texas Mistletoe Once you read my review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.
January 2023’s Theme: A Book with a Spy
*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Need a reminder of the details of the challenge? Go to the Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge page or sign up for my newsletter to have reminders at the beginning of the month in your inbox.*
Under the Texas Mistletoe
by Karen Witemeyer
Karen Witemeyer is a Christy Award winner for a reason. I listened to the first story in the collection called “A Texas Christmas Carol” last Christmas and loved all the creative connections to the beloved Christmas story. I definitely understand why it won the Christy. While I did not reread that particular novella this Christmas, I did get the chance to listen to the last two and an exclusive short story during the drives back and forth to my parents during my Nanny’s decline and ultimate passing.
“An Archer Family Christmas” ultimately was my favorite one. The Archers have long been my favorite, but it was the sweet story of Jim’s and Cassie’s married life and struggles that really touched me the most out of the entire collection. Cassie and Jim lost their only child and were told it would be impossible to have another a few years previous to the setting of this story. Watching them go through Christmas in such a family-oriented and child-heavy family was poignant and beautiful. Without giving away spoilers, the danger, love, and beautiful weaving of this story were one that will long stick with me. Far longer than any of the other stories.
“Gift of the Heart” was another beautiful story with unique characters–a strong widowed mother who will do anything to provide for her daughter, even confront a rich and reclusive resort owner. The romance and growth they brought to each other was one I also enjoyed. I especially like that the hero had an arm that had been crippled as a child, and that we got to see how he adapted to life and how it molded him into the man he was.
I can’t remember the name of the short story as it was on audio, but it had to do with the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and a man’s determination to prove to a father that he was the right man for his daughter to marry. It was a super cute story with a fun twist on the song.
I definitely recommend this series to those who enjoy Christmas stories connected to other stories and Christmas songs, stories with depth, romance, and unique characters, and fans of Karen Witemeyer.
Genre: Historical Romance, Texas, Late 1800s
Three Charming and Festive Holiday Novellas Spiced with Humor, Frontier Action, and Sweet Romance
In this 3-in-1 novella collection, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer presents the new story “A Texas Christmas Carol,” in which a town’s wealthy, Scrooge-like bachelor finds his world invaded by a woman set on earning his donation for helping the local poor, and by the penetrating questions of three mysterious visitors.
It also includes, for the first time in print, “An Archer Family Christmas.” When the Archer clan gathers for the Christmas holiday, an unexpected request for help leaves Cassandra Archer directly in the path of a dangerous outlaw. Desperate to protect the woman he loves, Jim Archer races to the rescue, only to find that Cassie’s life is not the only one in peril. It will take a Christmas miracle–and the entire Archer clan–to keep a second Archer Christmas from ending in disaster.
In previously published “Gift of the Heart,” a widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs for a fresh start. But with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love as the holidays draw near?
Sprinkled throughout the collection, you’ll find a hope-filled Christmas devotion, Witemeyer holiday recipes, and fun facts about nineteenth-century Christmas celebrations!
Amazon Baker Bookhouse Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Book Depository Bookshop.org Christianbook.com Indiebound.org
For your chance to win a print copy, comment with what book YOU read for this month and you will also be entered into the year-end Grand Prize Reader Basket. Use the Rafflecopter below for extra entries and to mark that you left a comment. Entries end on January 7th at midnight EST, and the winner will be drawn sometime that week and notified by email. The winner will be announced don’t the Rafflecopter widget. *Open to all residents of the contiguous USA, legally able to enter, and an e-book format or Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to those outside that range who are legally able to enter.
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What did you read for December’s Challenge? Are you going to be joining the 2023 Reading challenge?
Welcome to the seventh month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the Progressive Era, and my choice of story was Heart onf the Line by Karent Witemeyer. Once you read my review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.
*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form.*
Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
I’ve long been a fan of Karen Witemeyer’s books. In fact, I think I own almost every book she’s written, even though I’ve far from read them all. It was a joy to pick up one of her books this month and read Heart on the Line. It was an adorable historical twist on “meeting online.” And Karen NEVER fails to deliver on the action and adventure. I didn’t pay attention to this being a book 2, but it stands alone without having read the first story. However, I am definitely going back and reading Emma and Malachi’s story now.
Heart on the Line is one of those reads that stick with you long after you finish reading. I’m still chuckling over the quirky characters and thinking through the spiritual lessons they grew through. Amos is one of those heroes who doesn’t quite fit the mold, yet has all the qualities you would want in a hero. I loved his own acknowledgment of not being the kind of man a woman takes a second glance at. While insecure, he managed to have an underlying confidence that made you root for him even in those moments of doubt. Grace was intelligent, brave, and wise while still having room to grow as a person.
I recommend this novel for fans of friends to more, somewhat awkward heroes, and stories laced with humor, danger, and spiritual truths that don’t Bible thump you.
Genre: Historical Romance, Texas 1894
Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.
Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.
What I loved: I absolutely adored the relationship between Amos and Grace, but even more so the relationship between Helen and Lee. Both had their own tugs and pulls, and both sets were willing to risk their lives not only for each other but for the community at large.
Favorite Character and Why: It’s a tie between Helen and Amos. Helen’s growth as a character was so fun to watch. My heart ached and cheered for her as she moved beyond the hurts of the past toward a stronger relationship with Christ and others. Amos was just an adorable hero who had such an underlying strength that he won my heart right off the bat.
Who would like this? I recommend this novel for fans of friends to more, somewhat awkward heroes, and stories laced with humor, danger, and spiritual truths that don’t Bible thump you.
Rating and Why: Five. The story while somewhat predictable was satisfying and lifted my spirits. I loved the action involved, and the romance was just the right amount to swoon without gagging. (Yes, this romance author can’t take too much romance without gagging. LOL)
Amazon Baker Bookhouse Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Book Depository Bookshop.org Christianbook.com
Reading Challenge Giveaway
Comment with what you read for this month’s challenge to be entered to win a print copy of Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer. This giveaway is open to U.S. and International Residents who are legally able to enter. If an international winner is picked and Book Depository cannot ship, they will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Comment or use Rafflecopter for extra entries by 11:59 pm (EST) on August 7th to be eligible to win. Happy reading!
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