My Fave Reads of 2016: Historical Fiction

December 28, 2016 Best Books 2016, Christian, historical 56

It’s that time of year again!! When book bloggers from far and wide dust off their Goodreads shelves and look back fondly at the books they’ve read that year. And then we torture ourselves by trying to narrow those books down to a handful of favorites. LOL.

Nevertheless, every day this week will feature my favorite reads for 2016!

Monday – Contemporary
Tuesday – Fantasy/YA/Fairy Tales
TODAY – Historical
Thursday – Mystery/Suspense
Friday – Amish Fiction
Saturday – Nonfiction

Back in November, I had the privilege of being on The Writers Alley and I talked about what makes a great book. As a way of helping myself with this impossible task of picking favorites, I’m using those three factors as a guide:

  1. It hit me in the feels (I laughed. I cried. I swooned.)
  2. Characters that just march right into my heart and set up camp for the duration of the read and beyond.
  3. Somewhere in the story is a thread of redemption. (This doesn’t have to be just in Christian fiction either)

Picking my favorites among the plethora of excellent historical fiction offerings from this year was NOT easy, I must say. So many great books, but I had to narrow it down somehow (you’ll laugh when you see the length of this list but YES it IS narrowed down thankyouverymuch).

So without further ado, here are my favorite HISTORICAL FICTION reads from 2016!

Seven Brides for Seven Texans by Erica Vetsch, Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vicki McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, and Lorna Seilstad
PUBLISHER: Barbour
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2016
PAGES: 448

 

My Review

Seven Brides for Seven Texans is an excellent novella collection all the way around. From the characters to the cohesiveness to the setting and the theme, every element in every story is presented with excellence. You will laugh. You will cry. You will swoon. And then repeat seven or so times ? I highly recommend this one for anyone who loves historical Western romance.

So Rare a Gift by Amber Lynn Perry
PUBLISHER: Liberty Publishing
RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2016
PAGES: 329

 

My Review

In So Rare A Gift, Amber Lynn Perry takes a tumultuous period in history, a handful of heroes, a marriage of convenience, and a bad guy in need of some serious anger management and she weaves them beautifully into an exquisite story of hope and freedom and courage. Inspiring us all to live truth fearlessly, these characters will be with me for a while yet to come.

The Thorn Healer by Pepper Basham
PUBLISHER: Vinspire
RELEASE DATE: December 6, 2016
PAGES: 327

 

My Review

Pepper Basham’s gift of storytelling comes home to the Blue Ridge Mountains in her third Penned in Time book. Intriguing history shares the page with a swoonworthy romance and soul-deep touches of grace. In August Reinhold, you will find a hero of heroes and a tender picture of our Savior’s relentless pursuit of our hearts. I’ve read all three of the Penned in Time books, and I’ve loved them all, but this one is my absolute favorite! Framed in Basham’s exquisite prose, this is a novel that will put down roots in your heart and stay a while.

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: September 13, 2016
PAGES: 408

 

My Review

A Lady Unrivaled takes you from laughter to tears to holding your breath in suspense to fond smiles of kinship to fanning yourself over that doozy of a kiss. And always always – no matter your current emotional state – it keeps you totally immersed in the story and in these characters. Underlying the awesome characters and the witty humor and the delicious romance (that first kiss – WOW!) is a gentle theme of trust.

Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund
PUBLISHER: Waterbrook
RELEASE DATE: September 20, 2016
PAGES: 400

 

My Review

Rich with history and romance, even richer with grace, Newton & Polly is not to be missed! You will laugh and smile and swoon, to be sure, but you will also find your throat thick with tears more than once – sometimes at the tragedies that sin bestows, other times at the exquisite beauty of such amazing grace.

Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance
PUBLISHER: Lyrical Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: June 28, 2016
PAGES: 452

 

My Review

Since I reviewed this for RT Book Reviews, I cannot repost my review here (per my agreement with them) but you can read it at the “My Review” link above. I can also point you to other great reviews for this fabulous book! Check out Amanda’s review at Christian Shelf Esteem, Jamie’s review at Books and Beverages, Beth Erin’s at Faithfully Bookish, and Beckie’s at By the Book.

The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep
PUBLISHER: Shiloh Run Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2016
PAGES: 320

 

My Review

This is another book I reviewed for RT so I can’t post mine (but you can read it at the “My Review” link above). But check out Brittany’s review at Britt Reads Fiction, Carole’s at The Power of Words, Sydney’s at Singing Librarian Books, and Rachel’s at Bookworm Mama.

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2016
PAGES: 391

 

My Review

A book set over 100 years ago has important things to say to our world today, and A Heart Most Certain accomplishes its message through a delicious love story that will certainly head straight to every bookworm’s heart. Melissa Jagears is at the top of her game with this new series, with these characters, and with this story in particular.

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: August 20, 2015
PAGES: 416

 

My Review

Secrets She Kept is a book that – when I finished reading it – I sat for a while and just absorbed the things I’d read, the people I’d met, the lessons I’d learned. It’s a not an easy “feel good” read nor is it always comfortable. But it’s beautiful and poignant and full of life. Lieselotte’s story tells us of great courage, of great bravery, of great evil, of great loss, and of great love. Hannah’s story is marked by the same, as well as by redemption and hope. As the two stories thread together over the course of the novel, your heart will overflow with a multitude of emotions ranging from joy to heartbreak to everything in between. Like me, you may not be able to put adequate words to your experience when you’ve closed the book on the final chapter. But I have no doubt that, like me, you will be forever changed.

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2015
PAGES: 365

 

My Review

There are many types of masquerades going on simultaneously in Kristi Ann Hunter’s debut novel – some obvious, and others more subtle. But all of them swirl together in a gorgeously orchestrated waltz that will keep you grinning from cover to cover. Beneath it all, there lies a sweet reminder that “family” can be found in unexpected places even when – especially when – we feel the most alone. A Noble Masquerade is a thoroughly enjoyable Regency romance, full of vivid characters as well as fun and wit and even a good deal of intrigue and suspense.

Like a River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart
PUBLISHER: Kregel
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2016
PAGES: 365

 

My Review

Like a River From Its Course shows us the very worst of humanity as well as the very best. And for a large chunk of the novel, hope seems a very distant thing. But in the middle of the darkness, light breaks through. Quietly. Gently. Persistently. In the resiliency of a people. In the power of love. In the words of a babushka. In the faith of a priest. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure faith would factor much into this book at all. But oh my heart. When it arrived, it did so with triumph and in such a way that I may never be the same.

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristi Cambron
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2016
PAGES: 362

 

My Review

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron is a book to savor. It’s a book to curl up with and curl up into, letting each word settle in your heart as you allow the story to sweep you away. Adventure, thrills, romance, suspense, and friendship soar through this novel with the greatest of ease, thanks to Cambron’s exquisite talent, and the rich history that unfolds so creatively will both entertain and intrigue.

The Lady & The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof
PUBLISHER: Mason Jar Books
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2016
PAGES: 302

 

My Review

This is another book I reviewed for RT Book Reviews (see my rare 5 STAR GOLD review at the link above) but here are some other reviews for you to read – Rel’s at RelzReviewz, Gabrielle Meyer’s at her website, Courtney’s at The Green Mockingbird, and Kara’s at Flowers of Quiet Happiness.

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton
PUBLISHER: Waterbrook
RELEASE DATE: April 19, 2016
PAGES: 400

 

My Review

Mercy and grace and redemption are all over this book. Beautifully so. Reminders to “Trust what Creator is doing, though we cannot understand it or see the full path” share the pages with a profound exploration of what it really means to honor one’s father, even when they are not behaving honorably. And through it all, Lori Benton takes us on a deeply emotional journey through romance, friendship, and sacrificial love.

The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall
PUBLISHER: Whitaker House
RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2016
PAGES: 304

 

My Review

In The Cautious Maiden, author Dawn Crandall takes a reformed rogue with a redeemed heart and plants him solidly in the Heroes Hall of Fame. Passion and purity waltz together in perfect harmony; both swoon-worthy in their own right, the combination in Vance Everstone will leave you breathless. The power of Christ to transform a life… the power of love to transform a heart … the power of grace to transform a rogue into a hero.

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2016
PAGES: 407

 

My Review

Ok… another one that I reviewed for RT (you can see my review at the “My Review” link) but check out these other great reviews – Kristi’s at Two Girls and a Book Blog, Iola’s at Iola’s Christian Reads, Kav’s at Best Reads, and Jeremy’s at Christian Fiction Addiction.

Playing the Part by Jen Turano
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2016
PAGES: 352

 

My Review

With her trademark humor firmly in place, Jen Turano crafts a novel with shades of both the gothic and the hilarious as the fitting final act to her A Class of Their Own series. A misfit band of secondary characters elicit the majority of the laughs in Playing the Part, their easy-to-envision antics stealing several scenes. Familiarly beloved friends from the previous two books in the series also take the stage, and fans of matchmaking matron Abigail Hart will delight in uncovering more of her past, present, and future. Delicious, sweet romance – tempered with a grain of snark – and undertones of suspense round out the ensemble perfectly.

The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall
PUBLISHER: Whitaker House
RELEASE DATE: April 1, 2015 (paperback November 3)
PAGES: 288

 

My Review

Dawn Crandall masterfully crafts a story rich in vibrant setting, vivid characters, and sharp dialogue. Her scenes come alive, transplanting readers into Gilded Age New England and keeping them absorbed from the first word until the last. The characters she creates feel real and honest, and boy howdy can she write a kissing scene! My new favorite of the series, The Captive Imposter specifically is a beautifully engaging story of forgiveness, of overcoming prejudices, and of finding our worth in the One who died for us. And of kisses. It’s about kisses too 🙂

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2016
PAGES: 390

 

My Review

Yet another one I reviewed for RT lol (see my review at the above link) but here are some other great reviews! Check out Amanda’s at Christian Shelf Esteem, Beth’s at Straight Off The Page, Katie’s at Fiction Aficionado, and Kav’s at Best Reads.

A Worthy Heart by Susan Anne Mason
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016
PAGES: 384

 

My Review

The whispered Irish endearments. Be still my heart. Melted into a little puddle of mush, I did. But perhaps even more important than the romance (I can hear your gasps of shock from here!) is the message of restoration that Mason weaves through the story. It’s evident in several scenes that will have even the least emotional readers wiping away a few tears. Some are obvious. Others are more subtle. But each will touch anyone who has ever needed the reminder that God specializes in the beauty of second chances.

The Thorn Keeper by Pepper Basham
PUBLISHER: Vinspire
RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016
PAGES: 384

 

My Review

Make sure you have a fan handy. And a fainting couch. And you’ll find that you suddenly develop a craving for peppermint. Or maybe that last part was just me. At any rate, trust me when I say that the romance in The Thorn Keeper is delicious and toe-curling and oh-so-heart-clenching. Perhaps the thing I like best about The Thorn Keeper (after the romance, of course, because – who am I kidding – we all know that’s my favorite part of most books!) is the message of restoration. Pepper’s exquisite & poetic way with words combined with the poignancy of Catherine’s story will bring hope to anyone who feels that their past mistakes have nullified their present or future dreams.

Don’t count how many there are on this list. Just… please. You have no idea how much I pared and trimmed and wailed as I cut books from the list even as I was putting the post together, trying desperately to avoid it becoming a top 50 list 😉

But what about you? Which historical reads from this year are YOUR faves?

Carrie

56 Responses to “My Fave Reads of 2016: Historical Fiction”

  1. Toni Shiloh

    Of the ones I’ve read on yours…I concur. Pepper Basham, Dawn Crandall, Joanne Bischof all have fantastic heroes!! And Catherine is probably my favorite heroine. 🙂

  2. Melissa

    I received The Lady and the Lionheart for Christmas. Im looking forward to reading it. I’ve heard nothing but good about it!

  3. Tracey Hagwood

    The bad news is I’m behind on my historical reading. I’ve only read The Captive Heart and Land of Silence, but both made my top twenty.

    The goods news is I own another six of your picks and hope to get to all of them in Jan. A lot of the others are on my wishlist.

    Great list Carrie!

  4. Rebecca Maney

    I have read a lot of these and I totally agree with you! I am finishing “A Heart Most Certain” this afternoon . . . . wow, what a story! And I must read the three or four that you are recommending that I have not read.

  5. Kim

    Great list Carrie! The Lady and the Lionheart is my favorite book…maybe…ever! Loved it! Still thinking about it!

    So, you said your favorite book of the year might be on today’s list? I’m dyin here! Which one? BTW, I would have been totally okay with a list of 50. Seriously!

  6. Winnie Thomas

    Great list, Carrie! I’ve read 7 of these (all fantastic books), and I’ve got 6 more waiting to be read. Some of the others are on my wish list. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do.

  7. Janette

    I love your lists and am making notes of ‘must reads’. You are a foracious reader and truly do use your superpower for gooc! Thanks for sharing!

  8. DeAnna Dodson

    Ack! I have most or all of these (and it’s your fault, Meez Carrie!), but when will I have time to read?

    :::sinks dejectedly onto fainting couch:::

  9. carylkane

    So many wonderful books to gush over! I have several on my wish list and in my TBR. 🙂

  10. Andrea Stephens

    I love your list! Historical is my favorite genre 🙂
    A few of my absolute faves are A Heart Most Certain, Seven Brides for Seven Texans, With This Ring (collection) and No Other Will Do.
    I cannot imagine trying to pare down your list I just deleted seven from the few I listed here! I do own some on your list that I haven’t read yet the couple that I don’t have are going on my wishlist.

  11. Susan Mason

    Oh yay! I made the list!! How exciting! Thank you, Carrie for that wonderful review! It’s a fantastic list and I’m honoured to be included.

  12. Joanne Bischof

    Eep! So thrilled for Lionheart to be on your list, Carrie! I can’t believe I missed this but am so glad to have spotted it now. Such a glorious list – so many wonderful picks. I love how you arranged them all week long, too!

  13. Janet Ferguson

    Oh so many! I loved The Lady and the Lion Heart! I’ve bought The Ringmaster’s Wife. I definitely plan to read Pepper’s books! Dawn Crandall’s books have such pretty covers, I want to read those! I’ve heard a lot about The Captive Heart! And I just finished my first book by Roseanna White, so I for sure want to read more from her! Thanks for these great suggestions! Oh, they all look great!

  14. Amanda J.

    A historical I would add would be: The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert. I just started The Lady and the Lionheart. I’m anxious to see if it will top The Girl From the Train. ☺

  15. Kristi

    A Haven on Orchard Lane was such a good read. I missed those characters and Orchard Lane when I was finished with the book. From cover to cover it was a beautiful book. Thanks for the blog shout-out, too!

    • Carrie

      I did too – I wish she would do a series set there! And you’re most welcome 🙂

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