Just in time for Valentine’s Day, my February Fic Picks feature a nine book inspirational romance series plus a stand alone historical fiction novel and the first in a fantasy retelling trilogy.
The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series by Julie Lessman
Inspirational Fiction – 1913-1935 Boston, Massachusetts
In a nutshell: While listed as two separate series, these books actually contain one complete story line following Marcy and Patrick O’Connor from Boston Massachusetts and their six grown children as they deal with life and love from World War I through the Great Depression. Each book can stand on its own, however readers will be pleased to re-encounter past characters within the subsequent books. Therefore it is recommended that the series be read in the order of publication:
- Daughters of Boston series (Books 1-3) – Focus on sisters Faith, Charity, and Lizzie from 1913-1922
- Winds of Change Series (Books 1-3) – Focus on Katie and her brothers Sean and Stephen from the 1920’s through 1933
- A Whisper of Hope and The Best Gift of All (Christmas Novellas) – Focus on Charity and Lizzie in 1935
- A Light in the Window (Prequel) – Focus on Mary and Patrick before they married
My take: The cover for the third book in this series, A Passion Denied, reads “This isn’t your mother’s inspirational fiction.” And they weren’t kidding. It only took one book for me to fall in love with Julie Lessman’s writing style and the O’Connor family, then I blazed through the next six books and two novellas despite each novel being nearly 500 pages. Even if you’re not typically an inspirational fiction reader, these novels will change your mind. Truthfully, I didn’t realize it was inspirational fiction when I picked it up at random from the library shelf. I was simply in the mood for a good historical romance set in the same time period as my own work in progress. However these books contained everything I could want from my ideal inspirational fiction novel:
- Religious references that make me think about my own spiritual life rather than simply preaching at me. Disclaimer: Book One does have some large blocks of religious speak, but they taper off with each subsequent novel.
- Steamy romance crafted around swoon worthy couples while maintaining clean content. Note: The parents, Marcy and Patrick, completely stole the show for me, so finishing the series with their beginning was the perfect ending.
- Imperfect characters who deal with real world issues. No one is perfect and inspirational characters shouldn’t be either. This series dealt with some heavy issues, and every one was completely relatable.
- Dialogue heavy scenes, continuing characters between novels, and plotlines that keep me turning pages late into the night. Check to all three.
My individual reviews for these books can be found on Goodreads.
I also discovered this interesting post detailing the process for creating the covers for this series: https://theartistlibrarian.blogspot.com/2014/11/covering-boston-to-san-francisco-julie-lessman.html
For more information on Julie Lessman’s books, visit: http://www.julielessman.com
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Historical Fiction – 1939 Memphis, Tennessee and Present Day Aiken, South Carolina
In a nutshell: What if as a child you were stolen from your home, moved far away, and told that another couple were now your parents and your name was no longer your own? That’s what happens to twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four siblings in 1939. One night they’re kidnapped from their family’s Mississippi river boat and taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage, a place that is more a prison than a refuge. In a desperate attempt to return to her family, she quickly learns that being taken was only the smallest of their worries. Years later, wealthy lawyer Avery Stafford comes into contact with an elderly woman whose unusual words send her on a chase to uncover her own family’s history, leading to a truth she never could have imagined.
My take: First, after reading this novel, I was surprised that I had never heard of Lisa Wingate before. She has 25 novels under her belt by this point, and Before We Were Yours was named a Goodreads Choice 2017 Winner.
While this was a quick read and a wonderful read, it was often at times not an easy read. Lisa Wingate includes a wonderful author’s note at the end of the novel that describes what was true, and it was startling to learn how much actually happened. As a mother, I can imagine the utter terror of having my children taken from me, never knowing what happened to them. But the interesting idea that the novel addresses is: what about the other side? Which has more potential – the life we should have had or the one we end up living? What about the future that would have never been if we’d gone down a different path? This book asks the reader to think about the bigger picture and consider that sometimes it isn’t so black and white. While at times deeply sad, overall the story is one of family, love, and ultimately hope.
For more information visit: http://lisawingate.com
Rise of the Sea Witch by Stacey Rourke
In a Nutshell: Have you ever wondered how Ursula in The Little Mermaid became so evil? She claims she lived in Triton’s palace at some point, but gives no other details in the movie. What exactly happened to cause her fall from Triton’s good graces? Is she really as bad as we all think or is she just given a bad rap? What’s her deal? Well, Rise of the Sea Witch answers all our pre-Little Mermaid questions in splendid fashion. Things may not be so black and white anymore.
My Take: This is the fourth of Stacey Rourke’s novels I have read, after The Legends Saga and Adapted for Film, and I’m happy to say that Rise of the Sea Witch had everything I’ve come to love about Rourke’s writing. If you enjoy a healthy dose of sarcastic humor and amazing one liners bundled together with plenty of action, a bit of romance, and an origin story of a well-known villain then read this immediately. After viewing four different productions of The Little Mermaid stage musical last year, I was beyond excited to read an explanation of why Ursula is the way she is, and this book did not disappoint.
The second book in the series, Entombed in Glass, releases March 29, 2018. For more information visit: http://staceyrourke.com
Now it’s your turn!
Read a good book lately? Think others would enjoy it too? Submit your suggestions on the comment page and I just may highlight them in a future post. And don’t forget – when you like a book, post a review on your favorite site!