Book & Cover Review of "A Noble Groom" by Jody Hedlund

Front cover for 'A Noble Groom' 210471_99_bkc
Book Review
“A Noble Groom” is a new twist on the ‘mail order bride’ story type. Set in 1880 in Forestville, Michigan our heroine is a new widow who isn’t very eager to enter into what would be her second arranged marriage. Her first husband was abusive and a gambler. Annalisa is expecting their second child, and will likely lose her farm if she doesn’t get a new husband.
Annalisa’s farm is part of a  community consisting entirely of immigrants from Germany that are working together to make it through homesteading newly broken American ground together. As a community they decide to write to their families back in Germany to get her a husband. Annalisa is fearful that a new husband may be even worse than her last … but has long ago given up on her girlhood dreams of marrying for love.
While she waits for her prospective cousin/groom to arrive from the Old Country a young man named Carl arrives offering to help. He claims to have been a school teacher, and he knows very little about farming – but his charming and gentle ways give Annalisa new hope that all men aren’t like her former husband. But do her feelings lie deeper than that for this man? And is he really a former teacher? The story is worth the read to find out!
Cover Review
It’s obvious by the outfit Carl Richards arrives wearing that he is NOT a farmer. The community chooses to believe his lie that he is a schoolteacher, but … his clothes look a little more refined than even that profession. However, Carl has a letter from a well respected family member and they choose to take him into their community on faith. This cover design helps to accentuate just how much Carl doesn’t fit in when he arrives. This pampered son of a nobleman learns quickly what he must to survive (and hide) among this immigrant community.
The stormy sky in the background was a nice choice to reflect the tension and turmoil of this young man’s situation. The hint of barn and handmade plow next to the well-dressed and freshly shaven young man on this cover seem incongruent … because they ARE. Readers of historical romance will be drawn to the heroic stance and good looks of this prospective groom. Once again, the photo has taken center stage in this books design, but I believe it is successful and the title and author information are well-handled. I at first questioned the choice of bright green for the title text, but it has grown on me. It clashes a little with the other colors in the photo, but this helps it to stand out and get noticed.
*This book was provided by the publisher for review under no guarantee of a positive review.
Christian fiction, Christian historical, Christian romance, cover design, Historical, historical christian fiction

Book & Cover Review of "A Promise to Love" by Serena B. Miller

Back Cover image for "A Promise to Love" by Serena B. MillerBook ReviewFront Cover image for "A Promise to Love" by Serena B. Miller

 The over-arching storyline of a marriage of convenience between a recently arrived immigrant and a grieving widower with five children to care for is not so new … but, other elements of the story made it unique. The first of which being that our heroine is being severely mistreated by her employer when she first meets her husband-to-be. His unselfish and quick response to save her from further harm, and not merely his good looks, are what our heroine is immediately drawn to. She knows immediately that this is a man of character. When she finds that man to be on trial for the death of his wife and custody of his children she has no fear (except of rejection) when stepping forward to quickly marry him and help him to keep his children.

My favorite unique factor about this book was its obvious incorporation of personal accounts from a very famous Michigan forest fire. You simply couldn’t make up that amount of realism. Serena did her homework, and the result was a fascinating read that was hard to put down!

More women than men would be interested in this book, however, anyone with an interest in the Michigan fire, or early lumber camp history would also enjoy it.


Book Cover Review

This cover is very beautiful, but not outstandingly so. The cherry blossoms in the background are a nice touch, but they do not give a sense of place or time to the cover, nor do they highlight the true story. Somehow incorporating the five young children and an out of the way forest backdrop would have drawn the right reader more. Cherry trees on their own are not remarkable, but cherry trees planted in the wilderness, or with young children or a dirty and tired couple helping to water and keep them alive during a drought would have been. (Easier said than done I know.)

Also, the shirtwaist of the young model on the cover doesn’t give away a lot in the realm of place or time period either. You can tell it is a historical, but not a lot else. Still a pretty cover, but not as effective as it could have been.

* Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

 The below information was additionally provided by Revell:

A Promise to Love

By Serena B. Miller

Serena B. Miller takes her readers on a rich, historical journey that combines both romance and a touch of mystery. In this fascinating story of love and family commitment, Miller introduces us to characters that capture our hearts and imagination as they discover that love is more than just words.

Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own. Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family–but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.

Serena B. Miller is the author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman’s World, Guideposts, Reader’s Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.

Endorsements for Serena B. Miller and A Promise to Love:

A Promise to Love is historical fiction at its finest! Brimming with romance, history, and a touch of mystery, this story is a joyous portrayal of true love and God’s gift of family. Serena Miller writes with an irresistible freshness and honesty, crafting compelling characters that tug on your heartstrings and leave you changed. A Promise to Love met all my expectations and more. I eagerly anticipate her next novel!”—Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning

“In A Promise to Love, Serena Miller has done it again. With fascinating history and characters you can’t help but love, she’s written a story that pulls at your heartstrings and keeps you turning pages as fast as you can to see what happens next. And just when you think the story tension can’t get any higher, she turns up the excitement another notch. A story not to be missed!”—Ann H. Gabhart, author of Words Spoken True and The Gifted

“If you’re searching for novels with both heart and soul, you will love the thoughtful and richly satisfying works of Serena Miller. I do.”—Emilie Richards, author of Sunset Bridge and One Mountain Away

Christian fiction, Contemporary fiction

Book and Cover Review of "A Sweethaven Summer" by Courtney Walsh

Book Review

A Sweethaven Summer‘ by Courtney Walsh was a delightfully refreshing story, full of mystery … and eventually forgiveness. I have to admit that I was drawn to this story initially because one of the main characters is named Suzanne and it mentioned scrapbooking in the promo text. While reading the story I found out the character and I shared a love for art, scrapbooking, and middle names too! But that’s about where the direct similarities ended.

However, one of the overarching themes in the book is one I think most adults can relate to – the regret of not staying in touch with someone we were once close to. In the case of this story the main characters mother (Suzanne) has died suddenly and the three other young women pictured with her mother in numerous old scrapbook pages she finds in her mother’s house are her only hope to finding out who her father is. What she discovers along the way to discovering her father will change her life for the better – in more ways than one!

This debut novel was an enjoyable discovery. I look forward to seeing what this new author writes next.

Book Cover Review

The photos and colors chosen for this cover are perfect. The story is closely tied to a beach town and the connection between 4 teenage girls who scrapbook. So a beach photo and usage of a rich blue and sandy beige are very appropriate. However … I do wish that the cover artist had added a few more elements to the cover to simulate actual scrapbooking which is a major part of the story. It could easily have been done, and just seems like a lost opportunity to draw in scrapbooking fans to this story. As it is right now, the cover just appears to be a beach read about one summer captured in time on a single photo.

I do like the font choices though. They have a modern flair to them that helps to ground the cover as a contemporary novel, allowing it not to be mistaken by potential readers as a historical.

* This book was received by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for review. More information about the book and it’s author are below.

This week, the  Christian Fiction Blog Alliance  is introducing  A Sweethaven Summer  Guidepost Books (February 7, 2012)  by  Courtney Walsh   


Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooker, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She’s also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum. She works as the PR Manager for Webster’s Pages from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and three kids, who range in age from 4 to 10. Courtney drinks entirely too much coffee.  


Suzanne’s daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother’s history.Suzanne’s three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven’t spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne’s letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed,

and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Summer, go HERE.