I needed a break from books. Before you go all “shook faced” on me, hear me out. In looking at my reading habits from the last year, I read almost every single day from March 2020 to July 2021, with a three week break last August. One could say that the ‘rona certainly changed my reading habits (my thanks to my Kindle app for helping out with the reading insights).
The second reason I took a “book break” from August 2, 2021 to the first week of September: my reading choices became stagnant. The third reason: work. Work work work work work work work. Though it’s been a long time since my last Last Five Books post, I took my time with the stories this round. In no particular order, here are this post’s five reads.
5. TO THE FARTHEST SHORES by Elizabeth Camden
- Publication Date: April 4, 2017
- Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
- Genre: Historical Christian Romance, Christian Historical Fiction
The first of two Elizabeth Camden books in this post, this book reminded me how much I love Camden’s style and settings. BEYOND ALL DREAMS is another Camden tale I love.
What I appreciate about Camden’s stories is how she writes her settings and secondary characters. Even though this story truly is mostly about Jenny and Ryan, there are a few characters I wouldn’t mind having their stories.
Another element I liked is that the MCs are very well-rounded. Jenny doesn’t readily forgive; Ryan knows his faults. But what makes this tale is all the combined elements. I hope you’ll give TO THE FARTHEST SHORES a read.
4. CARVING FOR MISS COVENTRY by Deborah M. Hathaway
- Publication Date: July 17, 2021
- Publisher: Draft Horse Publishing
- Genre: Historical Christian Romance, British Historical Literature
More the length of a novella, CARVING FOR MISS COVENTRY is Book One in a collaborative series by Ms. Hathaway, Mindy Burbidge Strunk, Ashtyn Newbold, Kasey Stockton and Martha Keyes. I’ve read books by each of these authors in the past, and didn’t know about this collaboration. Each story can be read alone, so you can pick-and-choose you favorite author from the above group.
While I enjoyed the comradely between the leads and appreciate the character growth from both of them, I couldn’t relate at all to the younger Miss Coventry. A few of the scenarios seemed a bit too implausible, even for a story set in the early 1800s. Not only that, but it felt like, in a couple areas, there were a few tell-tale “information dumps,” and they took me out of the story a bit.
If you’re looking for something sweet and tame, then CARVING MISS COVENTRY might just be the quick read you need. Will I read any more from this series? Maybe?
3. THE INNKEEPER AND THE FUGITIVE by Martha Keyes
- Publication Date: September 3, 2021
- Publisher: Paradigm Press
- Genre: Historical Scottish Fiction
With a mild level of adventure and a sweet romance, THE INNKEEPER AND THE FUGITIVE can be read as a stand-alone novel if you haven’t read the first two. If you like Highlander tales, there’s also a book FOUR coming June 2022.
This book takes place ten years after the Scottish Jacobite Rebellion. The innkeeper, Hamish Campbell, is still dealing with the ramifications of his family’s involvement.
The female lead, Ava MacMorran, is touted as having “secrets of her own.” Doesn’t every character? This is the only part that might prove a titch confusing if you haven’t read the first two books, but Ava and Hamish are developed enough that they hold their own.
2. INTO THE WHIRLWIND by Elizabeth Camden
- Publication Date: August 1, 2013
- Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
- Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Y’all – this book is amazing, and it’s not often I say that. While the “come to Jesus” moments in many Christian romances are rather awkward, this one’s moment wasn’t awkward at all.
Elizabeth Camden’s books have always been either hits or misses with me, and this one is a complete hit. It has the adventure, the character development, and the HEA I was looking for.
Not only that, but it’s set against a unique backdrop within one of America’s greatest disasters – the Chicago Fire – and explores several stories of secondary characters as well.
If you’re unsure about reading this due to the Christian element, it’s – quite honestly – hardly there. And I read a lot of historical literature. Both Christian and non-Christian. I hope you’ll give Mollie’s and Zack’s story a try!
1. SCORNED AND CRAVED by Bree Wolf
- Publication Date: August 26, 2021
- Publisher: self-published
- Genre: Tudor Romance
Y’all – I was going to try and be ever so kind to this book, but I really just, well, can’t. Many scenes felt like they just went here, and then they went there. Now I have enjoyed several books by Bree Wolf; this was not one of them.
The story opened with backstory. And, while I appreciated the adventure aspect of it, the writing style just didn’t sit right with me. What also drove me nuts was the “let’s have everything bad happen to these two women characters just to drive the story” trope. Trigger warning: there is abuse in this story.
What disappoints me is how recent a publication this story is. I thought, perhaps, it was one of her earlier novels. It is, in fact, one of her newest ones. Everyone spoke or acted with a myriad of exclamations points! everywhere. If you’re looking for a quick read then, by all means, give this a try. But it is not one I can stand behind.