Category Archives: Inspirational

Review: Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter

Title: Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter
A Riverbend Romance Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
Length: 335 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared imagine.

When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.

She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite their best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.

As they grow closer, Katie shares secrets from her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either could have imagined.

Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.


Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter is a wonderful inspirational romance with a delightfully unique storyline.

Katelyn Loveland is relocating after accepting a job working in her friend Dr. Avery Robinson’s medical clinic. She is also dating Avery’s brother, Gavin, who has recently gone through a divorce. Katie’s arrival in town gets off to a memorable beginning when she is involved in a frightening accident. Off-duty sheriff’s deputy Cooper Robinson comes to her rescue and there are definite sparks on both sides. However, when they realize she is dating his brother, both are determined to ignore their attraction. But emotions are tricky things to wrangle into submission and everything they both care about is eventually threatened.

Katelyn is longing for family so she is delighted to be welcomed with open arms by Gavin’s mom, Lisa and stepdad, Jeff. She is settling into small town life with ease soshe is a little reluctant to pursue the other reason she moved to town. Katie is also mourning a heartrending loss and she is a bit emotionally fragile at times. She is continually drawn to Cooper but she does not want to hurt Gavin nor does she want to lose the family of the heart she is building.

Cooper has a bit of a reputation with women since he has yet to find “the one”. He is very close to his family and everyone is grateful that Katie has helped bring Gavin out of his depression. Cooper attempts to quash his feelings for Katie and avoids her as much as possible. But it is inevitable they are thrown together and Cooper makes a decision that throws his future in doubt and causes strain between him and his family.

Riverbend Gap is a thought-provoking romance with a gentle undercurrent of faith.  Katelyn and Cooper are delightfully appealing characters whose lives are closely intertwined which makes it difficult to ignore their growing feelings. Unexpected conflict from outside sources serves to inadvertently bring them into contact despite their best efforts to maintain their distance from each other. With their future hanging in the balance, Denise Hunter brings this heartwarming romance to a sweet conclusion.

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Filed under A Riverbend Romance, Contemporary, Denise Hunter, Inspirational, Rated B+, Review, Riverbend Gap, Romance, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray

Title: Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray
State of Grace Series Book Two
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


This disaster may be just what she needed.

Darcy Malone’s dreams of mission work are dashed on the eve of fulfilling them: The Guatemalan school she was going to teach at has closed, and she’s already quit her job and given up her apartment. Stuck in her worst-case scenario, Darcy accepts an unexpected offer to move in with Bryson Katsaros’s little sister, despite the years of distrust between her and Bryson, the lead singer in her best friend Cameron’s band. But as she meets those close to Bryson, Darcy quickly discovers there is more to him than just his bad-boy persona.

Needing to find a purpose for all her sudden free time, Darcy jumps at the chance to care for and train a group of unruly dogs, with the aim of finding each a home before their bereaved owner returns them to animal control. But it’s Darcy herself who will encounter a surprising rescue in the form of love, forgiveness, and learning to let go.


Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray is a multi-layered inspirational romance. This second installment in the State of Grace series can be read as a standalone.

Darcy Malone’s disappointments have been piling up and this latest blow almost levels her. Instead of heading off on her long-awaited mission, she is instead packing up her apartment and looking for a temporary place to stay. Her best friend Cameron Lee offers to let her stay with him and his former bandmates. Although far from ideal, this solution is better than moving in with her mom. Darcy is still reeling from her parents’ unexpected divorce and she would rather not live with her mother. When Bryson Kataro learns of her dilemma, he arranges for Darcy to stay with his half-sister Zoe.

At loose ends, Darcy accompanies Bryson to his friend Charlie’s place in the country. Charlie is grieving the loss of his wife and with him ready to give up on his late wife’s shelter dogs, Darcy volunteers to train them for adoption. Thrown into Bryson’s company, Darcy  is finally seeing beneath his hardened surface layers. She surprises herself when she seeks out his company and he provides a much needed ear as she tries to come to terms with the changes in her life.  How will Darcy react when she discovers Bryson returns her attraction? And if they decide to act on it, what effect will dating Bryson have on her lifelong friendship with Cameron?

In her late twenties, Darcy has put so much effort into raising money for her mission that she is rudderless when her plans fall through. She is also still trying to come to terms with the effects of her parents’ shocking divorce. Darcy has also always had a strong faith and after this newest disappointment, she struggles with her inability to hear God speak to her. She ordinarily turns to Cameron but he is not happy she accepted Bryson’s help instead of his. When her path continues to cross with Bryson, she begins to realize there is much she does not know about him. Darcy begins to seek him out when she needs a sounding board and she suddenly begins to view him in a whole new light.

Due to events from his childhood, Bryson is guarded and does not allow very many people to get close to him. He has working hard to finally get a big break for his band. Although he and Darcy have known each other since they were children, they were never all that close. Bryson is stunned when he starts to open up to Darcy, but he still clings tightly to his secrets.  He is a little frustrated that she tends to view him in a negative light.  With a lot of disappointment and pain in his past, will Bryson be open to the possibility of a future with Darcy?

Love and the Silver Lining is a charming novel of self-discovery, forgiveness and love. Darcy is a bit naïve and sheltered and she does not weather adversity well. She can be annoying and amazingly clueless about what is going on around her. But Darcy is kind-hearted, compassionate and struggling to understand herself. Bryson is a bit of a bad boy but it is easy to see he is so much more than the image he portrays. He has not had an easy life and he is multi-faceted with hidden depths. A possible romance between Darcy and Bryson simmers on the back burner for much of the story. With conflict brewing and a decision looming, Tammy L. Gray brings this captivating novel to a heartfelt conclusion. Old and new readers are going to love this latest addition to the State of Grace series.

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Filed under Bethany House Publishers, Contemporary, Inspirational, Love and the Silver Lining, Rated B+, Review, Romance, State of Grace Series, Tammy L Gray

Review: Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter

Title: Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter
Bluebell Inn Romance Series Book Three
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom and A December Bride (now beloved Hallmark Original movies) comes the third and final novel in the Bluebell Inn series!

When a mysterious man turns up at Grace’s family-run inn, it’s instant attraction. But she’s already got a lot on her plate: running the Bluebell Inn, getting Blue Ridge Outfitters off the ground, and coping with a childhood event she’d thought was long past.

A gunshot wound has resurrected the past for secret service agent Wyatt Jennings, and a mandatory leave of absence lands him in Bluebell, North Carolina. There he must try and come to grips with the crisis that altered his life forever.

Grace needs experience for her new outfitters business, so when Wyatt needs a mountain guide, she’s more than happy to step up to the plate. As their journey progresses, Grace soon has an elusive Wyatt opening up, and Wyatt is unwittingly drawn to Grace’s fresh outlook and sense of humor.

There’s no doubt the two have formed a special bond, but will Wyatt’s secrets bring Grace’s world crashing down? Or will those secrets end up healing them both?


Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter is a heartwarming romance with a gentle undercurrent of faith. Although this newest release is the third book in the Bluebell Inn Romance series, it can be read as a standalone.

After four years of hard work, Grace Bennett and her siblings, Levi and Molly, are ready to put their successful B&B up for sale.  Following their tragic loss, they completed their parents’ goal of turning the family home into an inn. Levi, Molly and Grace are, at long last, ready to move on to the dreams each of them have willingly put on hold.

Now twenty-one, Grace has worked hard to get her business, Blue Ridge Outfitters, up and running. She has plans for the next step in her life but she is a little nervous about moving forward. Grace is confident and happy, but a couple of incidents bring up long ago memories that continue to haunt her.

Secret Service Agent Wyatt Jennings is unexpectedly coping with a long unresolved issue following an incident while on the job.  When his boss forces him to take time off, Wyatt decides it is time to find some closure.  Returning to Bluebell, NC, he impulsively decides to stay at the Bluebell Inn. Feeling much older than his years and a bit world weary, Wyatt is surprised by his interest in Grace.

Grace is supportive of Wyatt’s quest and she volunteers to aid him as he searches for the place where his life took a shocking turn. Wyatt is impressed by Grace’s maturity and how down to earth she is. They perfectly complement one another and prove to be incredibly helpful as each of them face their painful pasts. As Grace and Wyatt get to know one another, they both fight their unanticipated attraction to one another. Despite their deepening feelings, Grace and Wyatt cannot see any chance of a future together. Or is there?

Autumn Skies is a sweet romance with plenty of depth and substance. The storyline is well-developed with realistic issues for Grace and Wyatt to overcome.  Grace and Wyatt are three-dimensional characters who spring vibrantly to life. The Bluebell Inn and surrounding area provide a tranquil backdrop for the unfolding story. With a delightful plot twist,  Denise Hunter brings this final installment in the Bluebell Inn Romance series to an uplifting, heartfelt conclusion.  Old and new fans are sure to love this charming  faith-based romance.

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Filed under Autumn Skies, Bluebell Inn Romance Series, Contemporary, Denise Hunter, Inspirational, Rated B, Rated B+, Review, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

Title: The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere
Christmas Hope Series Book Eleven
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (’70s), Inspirantional
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From Donna VanLiere, the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series comes another heartwarming, inspirational story for the holidays, The Christmas Table.

In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother’s recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.

In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she’s pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory’s Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.

The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she’s always longed for?


The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere is a heartwarming inspirational novel that is very uplifting. Although this newest release is the eleventh novel in the Christmas Hope series, it can be read as a standalone.

Lauren Mabrey and her husband Travis are surprised but happy to find they are having a baby.  But Lauren, who grew up in foster care, is a little nervous about becoming a mom. She is also fretting over the fact that she seems to be missing the home decorating gene. Luckily her close circle of friends are thrilled to help her decorate the house. 

While their house is mostly furnished, Lauren and Travis are lacking a kitchen table.  With her friends assistance, she locates and purchases a beautiful table that has been refurbished. Lauren and Travis are astonished when he finds a bunch of recipe cards in a drawer under the table. Lauren begins making some of the recipes but she strongly feels she needs to locate the previous owner of the table.  With very little information to go on, she and Travis set out to see if they can locate the family.

In 1972, Joan and John Creighton are happily married with two young children.  While John is making a kitchen table for his wife, Joan is finally using the recipe cards her mom gave to her. She includes the kids as she prepares delicious meals and makes scrumptious desserts.  But a stunning breast cancer diagnosis soon turns their world upside down. As Joan undergoes treatment for the devastating disease, John finds faith and comfort in his newly discovered faith.

The Christmas Table is a heartening novel of family, friendship and faith. The characters are likable but Joan and John are more fully developed. The storyline is engaging with the narrative shifting back and forth in time. Both story arcs are interesting, but John and Joan’s story is more compelling. Donna VanLiere brings this charming inspirational novel to lovely conclusion that readers are going to love. A lovely holiday read that old and new fans of the Christmas Hope series will enjoy.

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Filed under Christmas Hope Series, Contemporary, Donna VanLiere, Historical, Historical (70s), Inspirational, Rated B, Review, The Christmas Table

Review: The Protective One by Shelley Shepard Gray

Title: The Protective One by Shelley Shepard Gray
Walnut Creek Series Book Three
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
Length: 302 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From a “skilled storyteller who reminds the reader that faith can help us survive the ups and downs in life” (RT Book Reviews), Shelley Shepard Gray weaves a moving and unforgettable exploration of love and friendship.

The tragic and untimely death of an old friend has made Elizabeth Anne rethink not only her priorities but her courtship with David, her longtime neighbor and suitor. Though he’s Mennonite like herself and has her parents’ approval, she feels that a spark is missing. Desperate for a change, she breaks things off—wondering if, perhaps, she’s the one who’s missing a spark.

When her family becomes upset with her decision, E.A. turns to her friends for support. One of them is Will, a man with a good heart who has always been there for her. As the two bond over their shared struggle to navigate a future that everyone else seems to have figured out, they are surprised to realize that they have feelings for each other.

But E.A.’s world takes a sudden turn when she realizes that she’s not the only one struggling—Marta, one of her sewing students, is in desperate need of protection. With the aid of Will and several other friends, Elizabeth Anne begins a journey that is more difficult and rewarding than she could have ever imagined…one that ultimately enables her to find everything she’s been searching for.

In this latest installment in the Walnut Creek series that “both delights and surprises” (Leslie Gould, bestselling author), Shelley Shepard Gray pens a powerful and poignant tale of friendship, courage, and love.


The Protective One by Shelley Shepard Gray is an emotionally compelling Inspirational romance. While this third full-length addition to the Walnut Creek series can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend the previous installments as well.

When twenty-four year old Elizabeth Ann “E.A.” Schmidt decides to break up with her beau, David Brennan, her life undergoes unexpected but welcome changes.  Although a bit dissatisfied with her boss, she is greatly touched by her fledgling friendship with sewing student, Marta Miner.  She is uneasy about her suspicions about Marta’s home life, yet she freely offers her support. E.A. is also very happy that she and her circle of friends are making more of an effort to be there for one another. But the biggest change is  E.A.’s  new relationship with longtime friend, Will Kurtz.  As they spend time in one another’s company, a surprising romance begins to blossom.

E.A. is a wonderful young woman with a big heart and nurturing soul.  She is unsure exactly how to deal with David’s strange and slightly ominous behavior after she ends their relationship. Fortunately, Will turns out to be a surprising source of strength as she navigates this new chapter in her life.  A little disquieted with her uneasiness about Marta’s husband, E.A. is very happy with the changes she is beginning to see in her friend and student. But she is also growing more concerned about Marta’s safety.  E.A. is very much up to the challenges she is facing, but she is grateful for Will’s assistance with the more difficult problems she is dealing with.

Although very happy for his friends, Will is a little unsettled by the changes in his friendships due to their marriages and job promotions. He is a calm port in a storm and the first to cheer on his loved ones’ when they are graced with good fortune.  Will is a little dissatisfied with maintaining the status quo, so he is very eager to spend time with E.A.  However, Will proves to be up the challenges occurring in both his professional and personal lives.

The Protective One is a beautifully written Inspirational romance that realistically deals with domestic abuse. Will and E.A. are wonderfully drawn characters who are both compassionate and caring. Their romance is very sweet and it is incredibly joyful to watch their friendship evolve into love. Marta’s marriage is quickly becoming untenable yet she is finally strong enough to take back control of her life.  The characters grow throughout the story as they find hidden strengths within themselves as they are faced with difficult situations.  Shelley Shepard Gray brings this heartwarming romance to an uplifting conclusion that is sure to delight old and new fans of the Walnut Creek series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery Books, Inspirational, Rated B+, Romance, The Protective One, Walnut Creek Series

Review: The Camera Never Lies by David Rawlings

Title: The Camera Never Lies by David Rawlings
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Daniel, Kelly, and Milly appear to be the perfect family. But an old camera will expose secrets no one wants developed.

Daniel Whitely is a successful marriage counselor and bestselling author, yet his own marriage is in crisis and his daughter is drifting further away each day. To make matters worse, the deadline for his second book has come and gone, and he still hasn’t written a single word.

When Daniel inherits an old camera from his grandfather, he notices an inscription on the bottom: “No matter what you think you might see, the camera never lies.”

Daniel begins using the camera, but every time he develops his photos, they threaten to reveal secrets that could sabotage both his marriage and his career—exposing him as a fraud and destroying the life he has worked so hard to build.

He’s faced with a choice: keep his secrets and save his career or come clean and possibly save his family. Which will he choose? Which would you choose?


The Camera Never Lies by David Rawlings is a thought-provoking Inspirational novel.

Daniel Whitely’s inheritance from his beloved Gramps is a vintage camera and a photo album he has never seen. Daniel is touched by the accompanying letter but confused by the photos. Nevertheless, he is eager to try out the camera but he is very perplexed by the pictures he receives after they are developed.  The images capture his life as it really is, not how Daniel perceives it.  Growing more disturbed with each set of prints, Daniel clings to the secrets he has been keeping but at what cost?

Daniel is a successful marriage counselor and author of a bestselling book. But his marriage to wife Kelly is in serious trouble and their twelve year old daughter Milly is also struggling. Daniel is frustrated by Kelly’s continued conviction that he is having an affair in spite of his firm denials.  He and Milly have always been quite close but she refuses to discuss what is troubling her. Daniel is extremely overdue turning in his second book and he is under immense pressure from his publisher to turn in his manuscript. He is also very alarmed by what the pictures are revealing to him. But will Daniel be willing to do what is necessary to change what could be a bleak future?

Kelly is working as a pharmaceutical saleswoman for a wonder drug for children. Due to her increasing concerns about Milly and the drug she is selling, Kelly would love to quit her increasingly stressful job.  The delay in Daniel turning in the book means they are counting on her income to maintain their current lifestyle. Kelly’s dissatisfaction with her marriage is also weighing very heavily as her suspicions that Daniel is being unfaithful continue to grow. Daniel’s secrecy over his photographs leads her to take drastic steps to try to understand what is causing him such anxiety.

Milly is becoming more and more withdrawn from her family but she refuses to tell what is wrong. She grows even more apprehensive after a celebration with her parents and her father’s co-workers at their home.  As the situation continues to worsen, Milly is becoming more and more desperate. Will Daniel and Kelly be able help their daughter before it is too late?

The Camera Never Lies is a captivating novel  with a powerful message.  Daniel and Kelly are interesting characters who are well fleshed and grappling with life altering decisions. The storyline is quite unique and well executed.  David Rawlings brings this clever novel to an uplifting, satisfying conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this interesting novel.

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Filed under Contemporary, David Rawlings, Fiction, Inspirational, Rated B, Review, The Camera Never Lies, Thomas Nelson Publishing