Happy 4th of July!

To all my American readers: I hope you enjoy a wonderful day with your families! And as a Canadian, I want to thank your country for ushering in political freedom across the world. That has truly been a gift, and I am thankful for it.

Today I thought I’d do some quick updates, instead of a long blog post.

Great Beach Reads

Heading out to the beach soon? Here are some books that can keep you company!

When Love Calls

ImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=mTihydBK8OuMMU%2b%2balPA5qqk26YXPtvI%2bsomDRLV4eY%3d0&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftolovehonorandvacuum.com%2fwp content%2fuploads%2f2013%2f07%2fwhenlovecalls - Great Beach Books for the WeekendAt the turn of the century, Hannah Gregory is responsible for her two younger siblings, but she has no way to support them. After her parents died suddenly, this 20-year-old has to figure out a way to get by. So she drops out of law school–after being one of the only females to even try in the early 1900s–and tries to get a job as a “Hello Girl”, one of early telephone operators.

The rigidity of the rules grates at her, but she does her duty because she has to. And along the way lawyer Lincoln Cole, who is still feeling guilty about having to evict the girls from their parents farm, starts trying to woo Hannah. She’s unlike any girl he’s ever met. She’s headstrong, not given to stereotypes, and determined to make it on her own.

Certainly the book is full of Hannah’s dilemmas with Lincoln, as she has to decide whether or not to give her heart away. But the most poignant moments come as she tries to parent sisters who are so close in age to herself. When one falls for a completely inappropriate suitor, can Hannah convince her sister of her mistake?

It’s a fun read, and if you want a novel to reassure you that even in the hardest of circumstances God is looking out for us, When Love Calls definitely fits the bill.

I’ll use my traditional disclaimer with much of Christian romance fiction, though–I find books that end with a wedding difficult. My daughter sums it up well here, and I’ll let her explain why.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=mTihydBK8OuMMU%2b%2balPA5qqk26YXPtvI%2bsomDRLV4eY%3d0&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftolovehonorandvacuum.com%2fwp content%2fuploads%2f2013%2f07%2fquarrymansbride - Great Beach Books for the WeekendThe Quarryman’s Bride

Tracie Peterson has written another period romance that takes us inside the messy and dangerous world of rock quarries at the turn of the century. If you need an escape from the modern world, this can be it!

It’s one of those “do I follow my heart or follow my duty?” books, similar to the dilemma faced by Jane Austen’s character Anne in Persuasion. Anne decides not to marry someone at the advice of an older relative, and ends up alone. Emmalyne is told she cannot marry, because her duty is to care for her aging father. And so she breaks her own heart, and the heart of Tavis, the man who loves her.

Living in our world we likely find the plot a little implausible–why would someone throw aside love because their father is being unreasonable? But this was actually quite common until fairly recently. My grandfather, like Emmalyne, was the youngest in the family, and he was expected to care for his widowed mother, not to get married. And so he did, and he didn’t end up marrying until after his mother had died. I find it completely incomprehensible why parents would make such demands on children, but it was quite common.

And so Tavis and Emmalyne seem destined to be apart. Yet when their paths cross again, can they overcome their broken hearts and move forward? Or will the danger that Tavis faces at work separate them? Read The Quarryman’s Bride to find the answer.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ImageProxy.mvc?bicild=&canary=mTihydBK8OuMMU%2b%2balPA5qqk26YXPtvI%2bsomDRLV4eY%3d0&url=http%3a%2f%2fws na.amazon adsystem - Great Beach Books for the Weekend Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series

I downloaded Dee Henderson’s book The Negotiator last week because it was free on Amazon for a day (and I announced that on my Facebook Page! I periodically announce free Kindle downloads there, so if you don’t follow me on Facebook, join me now!).

I’m not a huge fan of just plain historical Christian romances, though I do read them because I get sent them free to review. And when I’ve mentioned this, a number of you have recommended Dee Henderson, since she writes more thriller/romances.

So I read The Negotiator, and then The Guardian, the next one in the series.

I did enjoy them better than romances, but here’s what’s strange. In both cases, the male romantic characters are: mid-thirties yet not married and with no substantial romantic baggage; very athletic; very good looking; 6’3 or something like that; funny; great cooks; interested in nutrition; very romantic (they buy flowers and chocolates frequently); good at riding horses; financially well off; interested in protecting women; love children; and very Christian. In other words, they are perfect. Absolutely perfect.

I have never met anyone who meets all of those criteria. And I have never met anyone who is as good a catch as that but is 35 and single, with no baggage. I’m not entirely sure they exist.

So while the plot was good, I’m not sure it’s that realistic. What I would still like: a book where the characters are not perfect, and where the relationship is thus more realistic. I haven’t found it yet. Perhaps I’ll have to write it.

Nevertheless, if you are looking for escapes, these ones are good choices.

I’ve really enjoyed some of the more secular books I’ve read lately–The Friday Night Knitting Club; some of Kate Morton‘s works; some of Jodi Picoult’s books. If I can find similar writing in Christian books, I’ll let you know!