26 June 2018

Audiobook Review: The Accidental Guardian By: Mary Connealy

The Accidental Guardian
By: Mary Connealy
Narrated by: Morgan Hallett
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 04-03-18
Publisher: Recorded Books

Five Stars All Around! *****
Five Stars for Performance & for Story *****

Stellar Listen!

I'll admit I got pretty mad at Mary Connealy when I started listening to this story. You see, I like to listen to my audiobooks while I am doing something. Since I'm getting ready to make my transition to up North, Mackinaw City, for the summer, I'm super busy. I started listening to Mary's new audiobook and it was SO AMAZINGLY GOOD that I did not want to miss a word! ACK! What's a girl to do?  So I had to maneuver my listening around so that I did truly mindless tasks, on autopilot, while I listened to this amazing audiobook. And I'll admit that I also laid down and listened to it at bedtime, too!

The hero, Trace, is one of the best heroes I've come across in a long time. He's top of the line! And Deborah is a perfect match for him, a strong but super lovable heroine. The tension and pacing in this story couldn't have been better.  The narrator was perfect for the story, too.

Highly recommend! Don't miss out on this story!!! I purchased my copy via and listened to it on my Audible app on my iPhone. 

Publisher's Summary

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes the hand behind the attack as the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he'd finally carved out a home and started a herd - while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail, driving off dangerous men. He'd hoped those days were over, but the latest attack shows he was wrong.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until she can safely continue. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture, and their arrival is unsettling - yet enticing. Working to survive the winter and finally bring justice to the trail, Trace and Deborah find themselves drawn together - yet every day approaches the moment she'll leave forever.

19 June 2018

Audiobook Review - A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden, Audiobook
A Daring Venture
By: Elizabeth Camden
Narrated by: Rachel Botchan
Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
Release date: 06-05-18
Publisher: Recorded Books

Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

I purchased my copy as a download from 

My Ratings: Five Stars Story, Five Stars Overall *****
Narration was okay but could have been better. I gave this Three Stars. It didn't affect my enjoyment of the story so much as annoyed me. The accents were very different than in the first book in this series, which I loved.  A Dangerous Legacy was narrated by Morgan Hallett, who did a stellar job. So my caveat to the listener is to add a pair of "New Jersey over-accented filters" on your ears while you listen! 

Story and characterization was solid and very enjoyable. Elizabeth Camden is an amazing writer. This is a wonderful series set just after the turn-of-the-century. Camden portrayed biochemist Rosalind beautifully, incorporating nuances of the scientific mind. Similarly her characterization of Nick, a former plumber with a heart of gold, takes into account his blue collar roots without overdoing it. I loved, loved, loved the start of this book where Camden gives us the poignant backstory for Dr. Rosalind Werner. Definitely shed some tears there and it totally sets you up to understand her motivation.

There's a lot of tension in this story, both romantic and in the story line. Camden is a master at pacing. A master of writing. Period.

You'll find yourself looking forward to every one of your listening sessions for A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden!

Publisher's Summary
Dr. Rosalind Werner is at the forefront of a groundbreaking new water technology - if only she can get support for her work. Nicholas, Commissioner of Water for New York, is skeptical - and surprised by his reaction to Rosalind. While they fight against their own attraction, they stand on opposite sides of a battle that will impact thousands of lives.

As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city - but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake, is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team's techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist. While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives.

As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.

This book is available in multiple formats. If you do a sample listen of the story on and you're not happy with the narrator, go buy an ebook or paperback copy!

Highly Recommend!!!
Question: Do you listen to more audiobooks in the summer?

14 June 2018

Giveaway: Andrea Stephens' review of "Shenandoah Hearts" by Carrie Fancett Pagels

"Shenandoah Hearts" by Carrie Fancett Pagels novella in The Backcountry Brides Collection (Barbour, May 2018)

Andrea Stephens' review of "Shenandoah Hearts"
First, I have to say I had the distinct pleasure of being a beta reader for this novella. I loved the story when I read it the first time. It was fun to see the subtle changes and final edits when I read this published version, making me love it even more. Carrie Fancett Pagels does not disappoint with this fictional telling of the beginnings of the French-Indian war.

The main story is about Magdalene and Jacob. They worked together in a shop in Philadelphia, each
having unspoken feelings for the other. Magda moved with her family to the Shenandoah Valley where three of her brothers have built a cabin for the entire family. Jacob is enticed by his brothers to join the same wagon train and move himself, ending up close to where Magda and her family have settled. I loved the back and forth flirting between Magda and Jacob. The family banter and teasing by both of their families. Magda's ailing mother even says to her “You and that Jacob are just alike in keeping your feelings too...too close...”

Magdalene was all to aware of their different stations in Philadelphia but “out here in the valley, by these blue mountains, those differences in status seemed to disappear.” No spoilers but just when I thought they would get together, the war begins and everyone from the surrounding settlements move within the walls of the fort. Despite the tension and all the hard work war brings, the romance develops and feelings grow. There are also some surprises for other family members as well.

I loved this story and was very satisfied with the epilogue. Honestly, a tear escaped my eye and fell onto the last page.

I highly recommend it to all.

You can read a clip of the collection by clicking here!

Blurb: Shenandoah Hearts by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1754 - Great Wagon Road, into the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia)
As the French-Indian War commences, Magda Sehler wonders if Jacob Owens lost his mind to have abandoned his Philadelphia business and moved to the Shenandoah Valley. Or has he lost his heart?

Check out the Christmas Anthology associated with Carrie's story on the Colonial Quills group blog (Click Here).



GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a copy of The Backcountry Brides Collection this week -- leave a comment on today's review and on Carrie's post on having branches trimmed for two entries.

10 June 2018

When God Severely "Trims" Your Branches by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Sometimes when we are "Overcoming With God" then He puts us through a season of severe trials. While those times are terrible, He never leaves us without a benefit. Are you running around a lot doing things but not feeling satisfaction? Maybe you need some spiritual trimming.

Because we only get so much TIME on this earth. And if part of our fleshly self, or an abundance of ourself, isn't in alignment with what God needs to do with us while we are here, then He has to deal with that. And we do want to be pleasing to God, don't we? And what He brings about can bless you and others.  Hard to imagine that being trimmed down to the core of what God wants us to do can feel "right" but it can.

Having been through a number of seasons of difficulty, including almost five years where I could barely walk, I can tell you that your life will be readjusted by God. He may prune out works of the flesh that are for getting praise or something out of doing the behavior. Works that were never motivated by pleasing God. Are you a people pleaser? Ouch! That may require some huge branches being cut from your life. But when God takes away those opportunities to be a people pleaser He's doing you a huge favor. Because then you grow closer to Him and realize that trying to please people is futile. You don't want to feel frustrated by that, do you?
Four Seasons from Wikipedia
Are you working a system when you're doing your good works because you want something out of them? If you do some favor you're always expecting the favor to be returned? God may take away your ability to even extend such favors. Do all to please God. A caveat here, though--be sure that it is God telling you to help and not simply sympathy for the person. Let the Holy Spirit direct your path.

When we're engaging in nonannointed works, it seems like there's something in the way. It's hard. We're frustrated. We're engaging in dead works. But don't we really want to do what God has planned for us? It may be a far narrower view than what we had of our lives being. But in working with the Holy Spirit there is an ease that comes. A satisfaction that what we're doing is "right".

Life passes quickly. When you look at the big picture of things, when you're engaging in activities that aren't done for God, you'll welcome that pruning. Sometimes we get so engaged in being "busy" with stuff that seems important we really do miss that point. And God may have to step in with a tree trimmer or even a chain saw if what you are doing isn't producing "good fruit"

The following is a great companion passage from the NIV version of the Bible. Thank you to Bible Gateway for the passage.
1 Corinthians 3: 10-15
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Takeaway: Giving God the glory. Taking the high road even when it hurts. Making our lives about what God wants us to do. All those things will make the sting of the trimming worth it all! 

Giveaway: In my novella "Shenandoah Hearts", in The Backcountry Brides Collection,  both the heroine and the hero go through some severe trimming.  I'm giving away a copy of of this collection this week. Comment on this post or on Andrea Stephens' review of my novella later in the week to get up to two entries.

05 June 2018

In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson, Audiobook Review

In Places Hidden (Recorded Books)
by Tracie Peterson
Narrated by Angela Lin
Golden Gate Secrets Series Book 1

Audiobook Review
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

What a great start to this new series by one of my favorite authors, Tracie Peterson! And I've listened to many of her audiobooks (she has over 100 books released!) but this is one of my favorites. The narrator did a wonderful job of bringing the story to life.

Camri is a fiesty young woman searching for her missing brother. The secrets and intrigue really move the story along. Patrick is a compassionate young man with a heart of gold. These two are from very different backgrounds but their common interest in finding her brother, Caleb, fosters a friendship.

Highly recommend In Places Hidden especially on audiobook! Set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, you'll love the setting, especially the chocolate factory.

Read about the other two novels in Tracie's Golden Gate Secrets Series (click here.)

Publisher's summary: On her way to San Francisco to find her brother, Caleb, who went missing three months ago, Camriann Coulter meets Judith and Kenzie, who both have their own mysteries to solve in the booming West Coast city. The women decide to help each other, including rooming together and working at Kenzie’s cousin’s chocolate factory. Camri’s search for her brother, an attorney, leads her deep into the political corruption of the city–and into the acquaintance of Patrick Murdock, a handsome Irishman who was saved from a false murder charge by Caleb. Patrick challenges all of Camri’s privileged beliefs, but he knows more about what happened to her brother than anyone else. Together, they move closer to the truth behind Caleb’s disappearance. But as the stakes rise and threats loom, will Patrick be able to protect Camri from the dangers he knows lie in the hidden places of the city?

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