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Book Review: High-Wire Heartbreak

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

In 1936–A party at the Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, leads to a robbery–and possibly death.

A successful historical mystery writer, Chloe Whitfield comes to Ca’ d’Zan to research her next novel. Chloe’s fascination with the circus is rooted in family stories of her great-grandmother Lucinda Conroy, who reportedly was a trapeze artist of some renown. She’s heard hints of scandal—and perhaps larceny, but no details.

Chloe’s grandmother—rumored to be Lucinda’s only offspring—was raised in an orphanage and never knew her mother. Intrigued as she is, Chloe has no intent of writing about Lucinda until she sees a poster featuring Lucinda as the star performer for a 70th birthday gala for John Ringling in May of 1936. From there the trail goes cold.

Who was Lucinda and what happened to her?

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 4 Stars/I really, really love it!

I love mysteries and I love books set with the circus as a main theme/topic, and Anna Schmidt’s High-Wire Heartbreak fits the bill! High-Wire Heartbreak is part of the Doors of the Past series curtesy of Barbour Publishing, which I also love. High-Wire Heartbreak is a spilt-time novel that takes place primarily in the 1930’s and present-day. The book opens in present-day with Best Selling Author Chloe Whitfield getting a chance to stay at the Cat d’Zan property, the home of John Ringling and his wife, Mable, owners of the Ringling Brothers Circus. Chloe’s purpose for staying at Cat d’Zan is two-fold: Chloe is researching for her latest mystery novel which takes place at Cat d’Zan and to do research into her family tree. Chloe’s great-grandmother, Lucinda, was a famous trapeze artist for the Ringling Brothers Circus and put Chloe’s grandmother up for adoption in the 1930s. The split-time story tells the story of what really happened to Chloe’s Grandmother and Great-Grandmother and helps bring closure to the her family.

Anna Schmidt did a great job with High-Wire Heartbreak! High-Wire Heartbreak is well written and well researched. I easily felt swept away into the backdrop of the 1930s circus world. The time-slip transitions flowed effortlessly throughout the book. I loved the mystery and how Chloe tried to figure out what happened in her great-grandmother Lucinda’s life and how she tied into the Ringling Brothers Circus. My heart broke for Lucinda’s side of the story. I found myself rooting for Lucinda to get the best out of her life and for Chloe to solve what really happened back then so that she could give her entire family closure. I also enjoyed the Author’s Note in the book and have been inspired to do further digging to look into the circus world during it’s heyday.

I highly recommend High-Wire Heartbreak for the way it transports and gives you an escape to another world. If you are a mystery lover or time-slip novels are your jam, then I believe you will enjoy this book. I am looking forward to reading more in the Doors of the Past series in the future!

Have you read High-Wire Heartbreak? What did you think? What other books have you read from the Doors of the Past series?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Anna Schmidt | Cat d’Zan | Doors of the Past series

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Book Review: Harmony on the Horizon

Image Curtesy of Kathleen Denly

Synopsis from Kathleen Denly

Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Publisher: Wild Heart Books

Source: Complementary copy from Kathleen Denly

Leslie’s Review: 3.5 Stars/I more than liked it!

Harmony on the Horizon by Kathleen Denly is a sweet, uplifting story about forgiveness and grace. Harmony on the Horizon is the third book in the Chaparral Hearts series. Harmony on the Horizon centers around Everett and Margaret as well as Fletcher and Katie. The story splits it’s time between San Francisco and San Diego in 1865.

Everett and Margaret’s story deals with a lot of misunderstanding, secrets, and standing up for one’s convictions. Everett is on the School Board in San Diego and has many business ventures in both San Diego and San Francisco that all seem to be having some kind of trouble at the same time. Margaret comes from the North, with the promise of a teaching position, to San Francisco, but the position falls through. After a God-ordained meeting, Everett offers Margaret a teaching job in San Diego without any references or recommendations. Margaret is thirty-seven and her teaching methods are unconventional to the townspeople, but effective. Margaret sees people for who they are and does not mind about the color of their skin, which a lot of the townspeople disagree with. Even though Everett shares the same convictions as Margaret, he fails to vocalize them like Margaret does. Regardless of his secrets, Everett and Margaret still fall for each other and Everett’s secrets almost cost him everything.

Fletcher and Katie’s story also mingles with misunderstanding, secrets, and standing up for one’s convictions. Fletcher has a passion to right the wrongs in society, and sometimes doing things that some would deem Un-Christlike. Katie is a sweet, easily distracted young lady that tries her best to honor Christ. Both try to stand up for what they believe is right. Throughout the book as Fletcher and Katie’s friendship blossoms, so do their feelings for one another. But like with Everett, Fletcher’s as well as Katie’s secrets almost cost them everything.

I liked the complexities of all the characters and the lessons of Forgiveness and Grace they all learned. I also loved how also the characters stories were intertwined with one another. I loved and appreciated how the author did not shy away from realities of the day regarding race, jobs, and society as a whole. Not only did Ms. Denly not shy away from the injustices of the time, she has elegantly sprinkled God’s Truth throughout the book.

This is the first book I read by Ms. Denly and it won’t be my last. The book is very detailed, well-researched, and well-written. While this is the third book in the Chaparral Hearts series and the first book I have read from the author, there were times while I was reading that I felt that I was missing something because I have not read the previous books yet. To me, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. If anything, it spurs me on and makes me want to read the rest of series to find out what has happened previously–which I cannot wait to do! If you are looking for a sweet escape with Truth to get swept into, I highly recommend this book.

Have you read Harmony on the Horizon? What did you think of the book? What did you learn from the characters?

I would personally like to thank Ms. Denly for the opportunity to read this book and for giving a blogger a chance in the book review world to get started. All thoughts, opinions, and views are my own.

Learn More About:

Kathleen Denly

Photo Curtesy of Kathleen Denly

Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.

Kathleen lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Newsletter| BookBub

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Book Review: The Wish Book Christmas

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2021

Lynn Austin’s The Wish Book Christmas is one of the best Christmas reads I have ever read. What drew me to the book was the historical setting and the Sears Christmas Wish Book itself. The book takes place in the 1950s and is a follow-up to Ms. Austin’s book, If I Were You. (If I Were You is still on my TBR list, but I did not feel entirely lost while reading The Wish Book Christmas.) The Wish Book Christmas center’s around Bobby and Harry, the young sons of Audrey and Eve.

Bobby and Harry are obsessed with the Sears Christmas Wish Book and want everything that’s in the Wish Book (for boys that is). I remember when I was a young girl myself, writing down everything in the girls section and giving the list to my family in the late 80s-early 90s. It was nice to be swept up in the nostalgia and memories of Christmas past while reading the book.

Besides the nostalgia and the time period, what I loved most about the book is the Message woven throughout. Audrey and Eve do not want their sons to become greedy and expect to get everything they have asked for. Inspired by the Christmas Story from the Bible and the boys’ role in the Christmas Play as Wise Men as reference, Audrey and Eve come up with plans of ways for them to give back to their community.

At first, it’s a rough go, but once the boys get the hang of it, they don’t want to stop giving! Bobby and Harry then understand what the True Meaning of Christmas is: Jesus. Audrey and Eve also learn lessons of God’s Forgiveness and Grace and His Giving Nature. The grownups in their circle of friends and family are blessed by Bobby and Harry’s giving and are impressed to give themselves.

The Wish Book Christmas is a sweet Christmas read that helps to remind us what the True Meaning of Christmas actually is and what Jesus gave us. I highly recommend The Wish Book Christmas. The Wish Book Christmas has definitely become one of my favorite reads that I wouldn’t mind reading again (which is rare for me) and is one of my favorites of 2021.

Have you read The Wish Book Christmas? How did you like the book? Do you have a special Sears Christmas Wish Book memory?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Lynn Austin