Welcome, one and all, to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday – a blog linkup hosted each week by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is about those books we’ve picked up on a whim. Not the books we’ve chosen based on someone else’s recommendations or maybe not even the books we’ve chosen to read/review for blog tours or author requests. But the books that somehow just struck our fancy or grabbed our attention all on their own and before we could say “novel” it was in our online cart or library tote or shopping bag.
A few years ago, I had wisdom tooth surgery that went painfully awry and the ensuing nerve damage left me unable to concentrate long enough to read for about SIX YEARS. (I know. It was as awful as it sounds.) About three years ago, thanks to the creative & compassionate genius of my awesome dentistry team, I got my bookish life back. But in my six-year hiatus, my primary genre – Christian fiction – had changed dramatically. Suddenly, I didn’t recognize any of the authors and I had absolutely NO IDEA where to start!! I left my local library with 10-12 books at a time and collected free kindle books like my nephew gobbles up blueberries. The following 12 titles are books that I discovered on a whim during this re-entry period (2013-2015) … not only did I fall in love with these particular novels at first sight but their authors are now each solidly on my auto-read list.
The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz (Revell) – In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father’s place as scrivener. Before long, it’s clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realizes the colonel has grave secrets of his own—some of which have to do with her father’s sudden death. Can she ever truly love him?
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan) – An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf s bailiff a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House) – From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled—by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack’s rugged behavior by tutoring him in the ways of refined society, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie’s efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt’s lady’s maid. But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs…and their hearts.
Submerged by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House) – Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case. Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House) – Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall? Observing both brothers as an “invisible” servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible.
Rekindled by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House) – Ten years ago Kathryn Jennings made a vow. For better or worse. And that promise still holds true, even though her marriage has not turned out as she expected. When her husband fails to return home one stormy winter night, she struggles to keep their ranch, but her efforts are blocked at every turn. After a shocking glimpse into her husband’s past, Kathryn uncovers a hidden truth. What she wouldn’t give to turn back time and be able to love her husband for the man that he was, not for the man she always wanted him to be. Larson Jennings has spent his entire life running from a broken past, unable to trust, reluctant to try again. One fateful night, his life takes an unexpected twist, and soon he is forced to make a choice. Whatever he chooses, his decision may cost him his life. At a different time, in a different place, under different circumstances… could two people fall in love once again?
Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray (Avon Inspire) – Perry Borntrager had been missing for months from the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky, when his body is discovered at the bottom of an abandoned well. The first death from mysterious circumstances in more than two decades brings the scrutiny of the outside world: A police detective arrives to help the local sheriff with the investigation. His questioning begins with Lydia Plank, Perry’s former girlfriend, and Perry’s best friend, the Englischer Walker Anderson. Lydia and Walker know they didn’t have anything to do with Perry’s death, but they both hold secrets about his final days. Do they dare open up about the kind of man Perry had become? In the oppressive shadow of these dark times, they discover strength in a most unlikely companionship: one that offers solace, understanding, and the promise of something more.
Katie’s Redemption by Patricia Davids (Love Inspired) – After two years away, Katie Lantz returns to her Amish community nine months pregnant–and unmarried. With nowhere else to turn, she nervously knocks on her family’s door, fearing she’ll be shunned. Yet the handsome stranger who now owns the farm welcomes her in–just in time for Katie to give birth. Carpenter Elam Sutter and his kindly mother care for Katie and her newborn in a loving way she never dreamed was possible. But in the face of a heartwrenching choice, Katie learns just what family, faith and acceptance truly mean.
Lonestar Sanctuary by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson) – In the quiet safety of the Bluebird Ranch, old promises resurface and unexpected love brings new hope. Though tragedy has wrecked her life, Allie Siders holds on to the hope that her five-year-old daughter, Betsy, will speak again. But with a stalker out for revenge, all Allie can think about now is their safety. She must sever all ties and abandon life as she knows it. She heads to the peaceful Bluebird Ranch, nestled deep in Texas hill country, and to the only person who can help them. The ranch is a sanctuary for abused horses, and also for troubled youths: the perfect place for Betsy to grow and recover. Ranch owner Elijah DeAngelo eagerly welcomes the duo. But Rick Bailey–the ranch foreman and DeAngelo’s right hand man–hasn’t decided to let his guard down . . . yet. Promises made long ago soon force Rick and Allie to work together to escape danger. Will they discover love along the way?
A Cowboy’s Touch by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson) – Abigail Jones intends to spend just one summer in middle-of-nowhere Montana with her Aunt Lucy. Time away from her job is just what Abigail needs to reassess her life. The slow pace has her breathing deeply for the first time in years. And the majestic scenery encourages her to get reacquainted with herself . . . and God. What she didn’t count on was the handsome widowed cowboy who owns the ranch where her aunt lives. When the rancher loses his daughter’s nanny, Abigail decides to lend a hand for the summer. Wade Ryan can’t help being attracted to Abigail. But he’s given up everything to protect his daughter, and he’s not about to risk it all on a pretty face. Under Abigail’s care, Wade’s home and daughter thrive. And with Wade’s touch, Abigail’s heart feels at home at last. But Abigail knows this elusive rancher is hiding something. Will her own secrets separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?
Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin (Bethany House) – The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised in a culture that believes slavery is God-ordained and biblically acceptable. But upon awakening to the cruelty and injustice it encompasses, Caroline’s eyes are opened for the first time to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. Her journey of maturity and faith will draw her into the abolitionist movement, where she is confronted with the risks and sacrifices her beliefs entail.
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House) – In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind a false identity. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself? A powerful retelling of the story of Esther set during WW2.
Man! Putting this list together makes me want to re-read all these fantastic books!!
What about you? What books have YOU picked up on a whim and loved? Let me know in the comments and link up to your TTT post if you participated this week 🙂