A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

Title: A Mighty Fortress

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: 1870s

Setting: Montana Territory, United States of America

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: received as a prize/gift

Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

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Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who’s hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom’s gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss’s right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what’s one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God’s strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town? Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running–the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?

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This was one of those books I just had to slog through. I was determined to finish it, but I really didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it. However, it wasn’t all bad, and it may be for some people more than me.

Note: the author has improved so much since writing of this book, and I really have enjoyed her more recent works.

Plot: 3/5

It started out pretty well, but towards the middle it dragged on and on. Also, when dealing with the dual story lines of Joshua/Ruth and Jed, it skipped all over the place. One moment we’d be a month ahead, the next we’d be two months behind, the next we’d be a year ago, and so on.

Characters: 3/5

There were quite a few characters towards the end, but I easily kept them separated in my head. I didn’t really like Ruth (I found her to be a bit of a Mary Sue) or Joshua (same). They both seemed judgmental to me.

I did like Jed, who was presumably the antagonist. I looked forward to seeing what happened next to him. He made me want to write a Western. I don’t know why, but I just find the outlaws and sheriffs and such of the old west to be fascinating. Probably too much John Wayne …

Setting: 3/5

The description was pretty good. I really do want to visit Montana someday. I didn’t really see anything missing in this aspect. The dialogue was sometimes a little too modern.

Writing: 2/5

This book probably needs a little more editing. The worst problem was probably the head-hopping. I never knew whose head we were in, which was confusing.

Theme: 3/5

I normally love reading Christian fiction … but in this book, I found the Christian content a little bit preachy. It was hard to get through the paragraphs of Bible that seemed put in at random. Almost everyone in this book was a Christian or became a Christian (usually remarkably easily), which I didn’t find very realistic.

However, the overall theme of redemption and forgiveness was a good one – despite my not liking the portrayal of it – and I did appreciate that.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: robbing, outlawing, and even several murders. Never detailed, always treated as (very) wrong.

Sexual: Jed supposedly raped a girl at one point. It all happened off-screen and was dealt with pretty tastefully.

Overall: 2/5

Not my favorite book. I didn’t really like it and wouldn’t recommend it. However, later works by the author were much better.

~Kellyn Roth

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A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Title: A Lasting Impression

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: Belmont Mansion, #1

Genre: Historical Romance

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult/adult)

Era: late 1860s (Reconstruction)

Setting: Nashville, Tennessee

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. No language. No violence, though there is a horse-riding accident. A couple kisses, the average falling in love/attraction stuff. Illegal activity (stealing, cheating people out of their money; happened in the past, no-details). Okay for teens of any age, probably without parental guidance unless your kids have problems with thievery. 😉

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

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After an unwanted past, Claire strives to create something that will last as an artist among Nashville’s elite society in the 1860s.

Claire Laurent’s greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she’s forced to flee her home, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe, who shows her kindness by not turning her in to authorities. But when he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she’s sorely misjudged him. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville society, Claire believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach–but only if her past remains hidden.

The Federal Army destroyed Sutton’s home, confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family’s honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined–as well as the woman he loves.

Set at Nashville’s historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves–and each other–for who they really are.

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AH THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I’d better calm down and write an orderly review of this fantastic book which I adore and want to read again and again and again and again …

So … yep.

First, Belmont … gorgeous. I want to live there. I need to live there!

Second, Adelicia Acklen. Amazing character. She was a real person who actually lived and some of the words she said in the book were written by her in a letter to someone! That’s so cool! She has a really sad past. Really, really incredible woman. Wow, wow, wow!

Claire is a fantastic character! I love how hard-working she is, how good she is at her job. Her job is one to die for … although I definitely couldn’t do it. Her creativity in the party and all other things is fantastic. Just … wow.

Sutton is also a great character. I feel like he wasn’t as focused on as Claire, but he was still great. I really liked him.

As I mentioned before, the setting was once-again amazing; Tamera Alexander is always great at putting you in a place you want to live and that you see in a very vivid way. The characters were all well-developed (I love most of them and hate the others, which is how it’s supposed to be). The plot was great. There was a little back-and-forth between Claire and Sutton that I didn’t care, but yeah, otherwise, is was a fantastic book.

And … I have no negatives.

I’m just going to publish this (once-again, pretty short) review as I’m not feeling particularly creative. It was fantastic, I’d recommend it to any lover of historical fiction, sweet romances, lush settings, or intriguing plots.

~Kellyn Roth

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

Title: To Win Her Favor

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: A Belle Meade Plantation Novel, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Age-Range: Upper Teens/Adults

Era: early 1870s

Setting: Kentucky, USA

Publisher: Zondervan

Source: library

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Content: 4/5. Not for anyone under 13 due to sexual content (well, more like innuendo, but …)

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

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A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who can help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing for good.

An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville’s racetrack––the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie’s father––aging, yet wily as ever––makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail––Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts––and the escalating violence from a “secret society” responsible for lynchings and midnight raids––may prove too much for even two determined souls.

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To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Title: To Whisper Her Name

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: A Belle Meade Plantation Novel, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Age-Range: young adults/adults

Era: late 1860s

Setting: Kentucky, USA

Publisher: Zondervan

Source: library

Rating: 3/5 stars. If I were just rating the characters, writing, and the main plot, I’d give it five stars, but there were a few things that took away those two stars.

Content: 2.5/5. A lot of attraction between Olivia and Ridley … which made me kind of uncomfortable. Will you please stop staring at each other??? Not much violence, no swearing. Overall, relatively clean.

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

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Set at Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America’s history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Harding’s head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.

Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.

As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.

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