Audiobook Review: Distortion by Terri Blackstock

Title: Distortion
Author: Terri Blackstock
Narrator: Nan Gurley
Published: March 2014 by Zondervan and Brilliance Audio
Genre: Suspense
Series: Moonlighters, Book 2
Duration: 8 hours, 48 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book (from Publisher, Zondervan):

A husband’s lies can have deadly consequences.

When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her sons. But a threatening voicemail escalates this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.

Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too—unless she meets the killers’ demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband’s dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?

My Thoughts on the Story:

It was a pleasure to re-immerse myself into the world of private investigative “moonlighters” Juliet, Cathy, and Holly in this second book in Terri Blackstock’s Moonlighters series. This book reveals more about each sister’s unique personality, while immersing the trio in yet another mystery, with potentially life-or-death stakes. The sisters and their PI friend Michael make a great team, and it’s neat to see how much we learn about them each through their interactions in this story.

The author did a great job drawing me into the characters’ world and making me feel for them. Juliet in particular is going through a lot in this book. Not only has she lost her husband and father of her children, she’s also being forced to face the possibility that his character and their relationship weren’t quite what she thought they were. Consequently, the book takes on something of a mournful tone to match her mood. It’s not really a light read, but it is an emotionally gripping one.

The mystery element is suspenseful and at times quite exciting. It kept me turning the pages. Okay, not literally, since I had the audio edition, but you get what I mean, right? Did not want to hit that pause button. :)

At one point, the villains’ reasoning for escalating the situation didn’t make logical sense to me. Either I missed something or the characters did. But that instance aside, I was impressed with the story’s development. Plot twists came unexpectedly, but on thinking back, the clues were there, hiding in plain sight. Nicely done. I also liked the way Juliet’s faith colored her reactions within the story, particularly at the end.

You don’t have to have read Book 1 in order to understand and enjoy Book 2, but I’d recommend starting with Book 1 anyway (see my review). Why? The books in this series feature many of the same characters, and if you enjoy one, you’ll probably want to read the others too. And since they do take place in a particular chronological sequence, it kinda makes more sense to read them that way. ;)

Speaking of which, I remain curious to see how certain threads from Books 1 and 2 will be resolved in Book 3. And what kind of mess this family of moonlighting PIs will find themselves facing in the next installment.

My Thoughts on the Audio Edition:

The narrator who read this audiobook (Nan Gurley) is not the same one who read the earlier book in this series (Gabrielle De Cuir). I’m happy to report that I did not find the change jarring or unpleasant. The narrator for this audiobook did a great job with the reading, and I think her style and vocal quality were similar enough to what I remember of the earlier narrator’s performance that the change did not feel out of place. She did a great job reflecting the characters’ emotions, which made the story feel very true to life and gave an added sense of urgency at times. Character voices were differentiated enough that I could easily keep track of who was talking when, within a scene. Overall, a great choice for listening.

Thank you to Brilliance Audio for providing a copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Goodreads | Author’s Site

Find the Audiobook: Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio

Three for the Books: Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, May 2015

Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, May 2015

The monthly “Three for the Books” post is where I feature new (Hot Off the Presses), best selling (Topping the Charts), and award winning (Cream of the Crop) Christian fiction books. I select one title to feature in each category, as well as providing links to where you can browse additional newly released, best selling, and award winning titles. Have you read any of these featured titles? Any others you’d like to give a shout-out? Comments are always welcome!

Hot Off the Presses

Fatal Trauma by Richard Mabry releases today (May 19, 2015) from Abingdon Press. It sounds like a great choice for fans of medical suspense. Happy release day! :)

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More New Releases

Topping the Charts

The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith is a fictionalized retelling of Rahab’s story from the Bible. It’s also first in the Daughters of the Promised Land series. It appears on the CBA’s May 2015 Best Sellers list for historical fiction.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Best Sellers

Cream of the Crop

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren won the 2014 Christy Award in the Contemporary Series category. It’s the first novel in the popular Christiansen Family romance series, which is currently four novels and two novellas strong with a fifth novel releasing in July.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Award Winners

Book Review: By Your Side by Candace Calvert

Title: By Your Side
Author: Candace Calvert
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: February 2015
Genre: Medical Romantic Suspense
Series: Crisis Team, Book 1

About the Book (from the Publisher’s Web site):

ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

My Thoughts:

Here’s a romantic suspense novel with lots to love – witty banter, sigh-worthy romantic moments, great descriptions, and a suspenseful storyline to draw you in and keep you engaged. This is the first book I’ve read by Candace Calvert, and I look forward to reading more.

We meet Macy and Fletcher in the midst of a dangerous situation, and get to know and like them more and more as the story goes on. They’re both caring professionals out to make a difference. They each have a heroic side, and yet they come across as real people with flaws, histories, and challenges.

My favorite part of the story was the development of the romance between them. Sweet romantic moments lightened the mood between more dramatic and suspenseful incidents, bringing a smile to my face. Likewise, numerous examples of witty banter between the characters made me laugh with delight. “I’m a cop. We have great flashlights,” from page 197 was among my favorite lines of dialogue (though you kind of have to read the scene to fully appreciate it).

The main characters have different but parallel faith and life journeys that tie into the book’s overarching theme – trust. I thought those journeys were believably and beautifully rendered. Regarding trust, there’s one line of dialogue from page 245 that I simply have to share because it asks such a great and challenging question:

“Now is the tough part. When you’re forced to ask yourself that hard question: Do you fully trust God, or do you simply trust him not to let something bad happen?”

Wow! What a question, right? Definitely one that bears thinking about.

Many secondary characters, including Taylor, Seth, Charly, and Andi, also felt well fleshed out with their own problems, perspectives, and growth over the course of the story. I enjoyed the glimpse into emergency services and crisis chaplaincy afforded by this story and its characters and I look forward to seeing more as the Crisis Team series progresses.

Occasional scenes from the villain’s viewpoint added tension and foreboding to an already intense story. I’ll admit, there was one point in the plot where coincidence played a bigger role than I was expecting, but that factor didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. In the end, I thought the epilogue did a really clever job of wrapping things up while calling to mind some delightful scenes from earlier in the book.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Web Site | Discussion Guide

Find this Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, May 2015

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the May 2015 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by. Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place!

This month’s post includes a featured book that I think is well suited to discussion, as well as links to upcoming online discussions. Then I’ll wrap up the post with a discussion question I’d like YOU to chime in on.

Featured Read

Title: Born of Persuasion
Author: Jessica Dotta
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: August 2013
Genre(s): Historical, Inspirational
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 1

This is the first in a series I just finished reading (actually listening to in audio format). With its complicated characters and surprising plot twists, it’s the kind of book that when you finish reading, you want to talk about it. That and read the rest of the series, which tells the rest of Julia’s tale. If your book group enjoys discussing historical fiction, this series could be just the thing.

Quick Links: About the Book | My Review | Goodreads | Author’s Web Site

Online Discussions

The ACFW Book Club‘s May selection is Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay, with discussion scheduled for May 25-30. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

For May, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Deceived by Irene Hannon AND Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group is reading The Cowboy Takes a Wife by Davalynn Spencer for its May discussion.

For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of May is If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Alister McGrath. Discussion is scheduled to begin on May 20.

The #HedlundChallenge2015 features discussion of one of author Jody Hedlund’s historical fiction novels each month. The discussion is hosted in alternating months by Jamie of Books and Beverages and Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows. For May, participants will be discussing Out of the Storm and Love Unexpected at Cassie’s blog beginning May 26 (discussion details here and here). I reviewed both these titles recently over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. Looking forward to discussing them!

Let’s Chat!

This is only marginally book related, but…. With springtime here, I’ve been spending a lot of time out in the garden lately, weeding, planting, etc., and thought it might be fun to talk about our hobbies other than reading. So… Have any of your favorite hobbies been featured in books that you’ve enjoyed reading?

Some of my favorite hobbies besides reading and writing include gardening and photography. For gardening, the book that comes to mind was one of my favorites as a young girl – Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Photography brings to mind a book I’ve read more recently - A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert.

What about you? Hobbies? Books featuring hobbies? Please feel free to share, even if you can’t think of a book to go with your favorite hobby. Who knows. Maybe someone else will think of one you’ll want to read! I know I’d love to hear if anyone knows of any other good books featuring my favorite hobbies.  :)

Audiobook Review: Spring Brides by Rachel Hauck, Lenora Worth, and Meg Moseley

Title: Spring Brides
Authors: Rachel Hauck, Lenora Worth, and Meg Moseley
Narrators: Julie Lyles Carr, Christy Ragland, and Amber Quick
Published: March 2015 by Zondervan (print) and Brilliance Audio (audio)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian fiction, Novella Collection
Series: A Year of Weddings
Duration: 8 hours, 41 minutes, unabridged

“Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three spring weddings….” (from the book’s description)

The Spring Brides collection features a re-release of three of the twelve novellas in Zondervan’s A Year of Weddings series – A March Bride, An April Bride, and A May Bride. Being a fan of contemporary Christian romance, I’m enjoying the opportunity that this series offers to sample shorter pieces by a variety of authors in the genre. I previously reviewed the audio edition of the Winter Brides collection, and am pleased to have the opportunity to review this one as well. Since each novella stands independently from others in this series, there’s no need to read them in any particular order. Nevertheless, it has been fun to read them during seasonally appropriate weather, so be sure to check this one out and be on the lookout for the Summer Brides collection, coming in May.

A March Bride by Rachel Hauck, narrated by Julie Lyles Carr

Susanna Truitt (Once Upon a Prince) is three weeks from royalty. She’ll soon marry King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. But when the government insists she renounce her American citizenship before the wedding, coupled with the lack of involvement by family and friends, Susanna’s heart begins to doubt whether this marriage is God’s plan for her.” (publisher’s description)

It was nice to reconnect with Susanna and Nathaniel from Rachel Hauck’s earlier book, Once Upon a Prince. The scope of this story felt well suited to its length, and it seemed a plausible extension to the earlier one. In fact, I rather liked the real-world feel to it where Susanna starts having second thoughts about her fairy tale. I also enjoyed the earthly analogy to a spiritual concept regarding citizenship. Bits of backstory from the earlier book are sprinkled here and there to refresh the reader’s memory or bring you up to speed if you haven’t read the earlier book, so this story can stand alone if necessary (though, if you ask me, there’s no reason not to read them both!)

The narration of A March Bride was clearly and precisely read in a pleasant voice. Unfortunately, it suffered a bit in comparison to the narration of Once Upon a Prince, which featured a distinctly southern accent for Susanna and a classy British accent for Nathaniel. I found myself missing those accents because the characters’ voices became a part of who they were, in my mind at least. Nevertheless, I did still enjoy listening to the novella.

An April Bride by Lenora Worth, narrated by Christy Ragland

Bride-to-be Stella Carson cannot wait another day to marry soldier Marshall Henderson. But when Marshall returns home to Louisiana, it becomes clear to them both that he is not the man he used to be. With only weeks until the wedding, Stella and Marshall must choose between a marriage built on the past and faith in long-ago love or a very different future than the one Stella imagined.” (publisher’s description)

I liked the concept behind this one and I found the ending pleasantly sweet and romantic, even if the timing was a little convenient for total plausibility. But the middle of the story turned out to be a little angsty for my taste. It felt like no matter what happened or what the characters were talking about, the characters’ thoughts and conversations kept circling back to the same dilemma with little forward (or backward) progress until nearly the end. There were some scenes I particularly liked – their carefree trip to the zoo comes to mind – but on the whole, this story wasn’t one of my favorites.

The narration got the job done in a clear and matter-of-fact style. Like the narration for the other novellas in this series, it’s a straight reading that doesn’t differentiate between characters’ voices.

A May Bride by Meg Moseley, narrated by Amber Quick

Ellie Martin, a country girl living in Atlanta, has dreamed of a traditional wedding all her life, but she’s missing a key ingredient to her plans for the future: a groom. Then Ellie meets Gray Whitby – at a wedding of all places. But when Ellie jeopardizes her own future for the sake of her sister, Gray feels like he’ll always be second to Ellie’s family. Can Ellie and Gray find their own way together amidst the demands and perceptions of others, or will their romance end before it has truly begun?” (publisher’s description)

Taking narration and storyline as a whole, I think this is my favorite of the three novellas in the spring collection…which is pretty cool, since I too am a May bride.  :)  I thought the characters and their relationship were well developed, and I loved the concept of a “guerilla wedding.” I also appreciated the growth of the characters over the course of the story, as well as the emphasis on grace.

The narrator did a great job reflecting the emotions of the characters and situations over the course of the reading, which made for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

Thank you to Brilliance Audio and Zondervan for providing me with a review copy of this audiobook.

Three for the Books: Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, April 2015

Three for the Books, April 2015

The monthly “Three for the Books” post is where I feature new (Hot Off the Presses), best selling (Topping the Charts), and award winning (Cream of the Crop) Christian fiction books. I select one title to feature in each category, as well as providing links to where you can browse additional newly released, best selling, and award winning titles. Have you read any of these featured titles? Any others you’d like to give a shout-out? Comments are always welcome!

Hot Off the Presses

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton releases April 2015 from WaterBrook Multnomah. It’s a historical romance, first in a new series, from an award-winning author.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More New Releases

Topping the Charts

Visible Threat by Janice Cantore appears on the April 2015 CBA Best Sellers list. This suspense is Book 2 in a series starting with Critical Pursuit.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Best Sellers

Cream of the Crop

Anomaly by Krista McGee won the 2014 INSPY Award in the Speculative Fiction category. It’s the first installment of a popular YA Dystopian series.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Award Winners

Book Review: Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black

Title: Rise of the Fallen
Author: Chuck Black
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Release Date: February 2015
Genre: Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Series: Wars of the Realm, Book 2

For months now, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this, the second book in Chuck Black’s Wars of the Realm series. I assumed it would continue Drew Carter’s story from where the first book, Cloak of the Light, left off. (You can find my review of that book on the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog, if you’re interested.) I was already thoroughly invested in those characters – Drew, Sydney, and Ben in particular – and in their plight, and wanted to know what came next.

And I still want to know. Because Book 2 doesn’t really address that. [Feel free to imagine Karen pulling her hair out right about now, in anticipation of a lengthy wait before Book 3. Just kidding...mostly.]

Honestly, this book was not what I was expecting. Let me hasten to clarify, I don’t mean that in a negative way, because I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story too, and I think that what comes next in the series will have even more impact, for having had the extra groundwork laid in this book. I just had to wrap my mind around the shift in perspective and scope of this book before really digging in to enjoy it. But enjoy it, I did.

This book interweaves two main storylines, both told from the perspective of Validus, an angel we first met in Book 1 through his interactions with Drew Carter. Throughout this book, there’s a “Present Day” storyline in which we see the same timeframe of Book 1 retold from Validus’s perspective, first as he serves as Primus Commander for the angelic forces in North America and later as he fights to protect Drew. Interwoven with this retelling are a series of chapters exploring spiritual warfare throughout Biblical history as experienced by Validus and his fellow angels.

I enjoyed getting to know Validus better and getting a “behind the scenes” glimpse into what might have been going on in the spiritual realm during important moments in Biblical history like Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel, and Jesus’ birth and crucifixion. The Reader’s Guide in the back was great for delineating which aspects of the story were drawn from Biblical accounts and which were more speculative.

With its emphasis on action, adventure, and heroics, this is a story I would expect to have great appeal for teen boys in particular, as well as anyone enjoying a fast-paced and exciting story. Battle scenes were described blow by blow to the point I could almost have been watching the story play out on the big screen (and yes, I would love to see this series made into a movie). There were quite a few scenes in this book that got my adrenaline going and gave me no choice but to keep turning pages!

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah and the Blogging for Books program for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Web Site | Video Clip About the Series
Find This Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, April 2015

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the April 2015 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by. Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place!

This month’s post includes a featured book that I think is well suited to discussion, as well as links to upcoming online discussions. Then I’ll wrap up the post with a discussion question I’d like YOU to chime in on.

Featured Read

Title: Cloak of the Light
Author: Chuck Black
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Publication Date: March 2014
Genre: Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Series: Wars of the Realm #1

The publisher’s description asks, “What if…there was a world beyond our vision, a world just fingertips beyond our reach? What if…our world wasn’t beyond their influence?” I reviewed this book over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog a while ago, and just finished reading book 2 in the series (Rise of the Fallen) this past week (review coming soon). For today, I just wanted to mention this series for the book groups because I think it raises some interesting questions about spiritual warfare that could make for an interesting discussion. There’s also a Reader’s Guide that addresses issues raised in the book from a Biblical viewpoint. While I haven’t found discussion questions specifically tailored for this book, I do think there’s plenty to talk about.

Quick Links: About the Book | My Review | Goodreads | Author’s Web Site

Online Discussions

The ACFW Book Club‘s April selection is Hawk (Quiet Professionals #2) by Ronie Kendig, with discussion scheduled to begin April 25th. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

For April, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing With Every Letter (Wings of the Nightingale #1) by Sarah Sundin AND With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group is reading The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron for its April discussion.

For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of April is The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien. Discussion is scheduled to begin on April 15.

The #HedlundChallenge2015 features discussion of one of author Jody Hedlund’s historical fiction novels each month. The discussion is hosted in alternating months by Jamie of Books and Beverages and Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows. For April, participants will be discussing Captured by Love (Michigan Brides #3) at Jamie’s blog beginning April 28th (discussion details here and here).

Let’s Chat!

One of my favorite aspects of participating in a book group is the incentive to try out a book I might never have read otherwise. It’s particularly nice when that book turns out to be a gem, and maybe introduces me to a new favorite author. But the beauty of trying new authors/genres/titles with a group is that even if I don’t care for the book, there’s still the discussion to look forward to and the opportunity to see what others saw in it!

Is there a book or an author you first read through participation in a book group that became a new favorite? Or expanded your reading horizons, perhaps by introducing you to a new genre or style of writing? Or maybe one that you didn’t like so well, but still enjoyed the discussion? Please tell us about it!  :)

Audiobook Review: Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Title: Mark of Distinction
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 12 hours, 47 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: May 2014
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 2

Thoughts on the Story

If you haven’t read the first title (Born of Persuasion) in this three-part series yet, go read that review (and that book or audiobook) before this one, because you HAVE to read this series in order. It’s all sequential like one extra-long story with intermissions between the acts. And once you do read that first one, trust me, you’ll know if this series is for you, and I really doubt there’s much I could say, pro or con, to change your mind about whether to continue with the second book.

That said, here are my thoughts on Book 2 (Mark of Distinction) anyway. Because you’re here. And because I want to share.

In short: Fascinating. Completely and utterly fascinating.

The longer version: Like the earlier book, this one features complex characters, vivid settings, hidden motivations, shifting political and social alliances, and surprising plot twists and turns, all against the backdrop of Victorian society.

I enjoyed seeing Julia’s faith journey continue to play out in this book, as questions and doubts war with personal experience, and she considers the implications faith would have on her future choices. I like the way this aspect of the story is integrated into the tale as a whole, arising naturally from the events taking place in her life.

If Book One had a love triangle, then this one must have a love quadrilateral (Is that even a thing?), making things that much more complicated for Julia and for the reader. Gotta say, the new guy, Lord Dalry is all-around amazing, though the handful of scenes with Edward are some of the best scenes in the book (in my humble opinion). And then we can’t forget the dangerous and alluring Mr. Macy with the potential to spoil everything.

The ending, while satisfying for now, feels like a stopover on the way to the real ending still to come. There are already hints of problems to be faced in Book 3 (Price of Privilege), and I’m intensely curious what else the author will do to shake up her characters’ lives in the final installment and where they’ll end up when it’s all played out. Must. Keep. Reading. :)

Thoughts on the Audio Edition

I have thoroughly enjoyed Amanda McKnight’s performances thus far in this series and I am pleased to see she’s the narrator for Book 3 as well. Her lovely voice and British accent complement the characters quite well, particularly Julia, our heroine and first person narrator. I’ve enjoyed the distinctions between the voices of various characters, as well as the way “stage directions” included in the text are followed in the reading. My favorite example from this book is when Forrester garbles his words around a mouthful of food. A very nice touch on an already excellent performance.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links:  About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on:  Goodreads | Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio

Audiobook Review: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Title: Tried & True
Author: Mary Connealy
Narrator: Barbara McCulloh
Series: Wild at Heart, Book 1
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: September 2014

About the Book (from the publisher’s web site):

Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Tried and True is a fun and lighthearted romp of a story.  If you enjoy inspirational romantic comedy, then you’re going to love this first book in the Wild at Heart series by Mary Connealy.  Our lovely heroine Kylie may have taken up arms to serve her country in the Civil War and then claimed her own homestead out West, all under the pretext of being a boy, but she’s counting down the days until she can leave all that behind for the life she really wants.  One that includes feminine attire, tea parties, and the comforts of “civilized” life back east.

Over the course of the book, Kylie and her “brothers” (read: sisters) wind up in one outrageous situation after another, each described in just the right manner to bring out the humor inherent in the situation.  The opening scene does a great job setting the tone for the book.  We meet Kylie as she attempts to patch a loose shingle on her roof, under threat of an approaching rainstorm, using an improvised “ladder” assembled from a hodgepodge of furniture including a rocking chair.

Throughout the book, there’s a touch of suspense, a healthy dose of sweet romantic moments, and some obstacles and lessons to be learned on the path toward happily ever after for the hero and heroine, but it’s definitely the humor that takes center stage in this book.  And I have to say, the humor is very well done.  I found myself chuckling time and again at something somebody did or said, or the droll way a situation was described.  (Which made for a lovely change of pace from a few much more serious books I read shortly before this one.)  Highly recommended for when you’re in the mood for something fun!

Specific to the Audiobook:

Barbara McCulloh was an excellent choice as narrator for Tried and True.  You can just tell she’s got a real sense of comedic timing that was perfectly in sync with the text of the book.  She paced her delivery wonderfully, speeding up or slowing down certain bits to give maximum impact to the witty asides sprinkled throughout the text, before returning to the casually comfortable reading pace of the majority of the narration.  Male, female, and female-pretending-to-be-male voices were rendered well, each character having his or her own distinct vocal qualities.  All-in-all, a stellar performance by a skilled narrator.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.