Friday, October 27, 2017

Bookshelf Friday - An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

It's always bittersweet to read the last book in a series, and Kristi Ann Hunter recently released hers. An Inconvenient Beauty was a wonderful addition to her Hawthorne House series, and while it was the last, it can also function as a beautiful stand-alone title. So for those who've read the entire series and for those who are new to it, here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she'll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation.
Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after?

All right. Can we first simply talk about how gorgeous the covers to this series have been? Some of my favorites. And the writing on the inside matches the beauty on the outside perfectly! This series about four siblings has entertained me with each addition, and finally reaching Griffith's story was a delight.

Griffith has been a mainstay in all his sibling's books. The eldest and the protector, he often came across as the wisest one who also had it all together. Those elements are in this book too, yet we also gain a glimpse into his own internals which show us Griffith isn't quite as sure of things as we've been led to believe. Like what to do when his ordered ways fall prey to the unplanned desires of his heart.

I loved watching the storyline unfold in this book between Griffith and Isabella. It was a well-tuned story with two leads who are perfect for one another. The interaction between siblings and friends in this book bring heartfelt moments and ones full of laughter. The romance is sweet and endearing, one you'll definitely be cheering for. While I've loved all of Hunter's books, I must say of the two brothers, Griffith's story has been my favorite. The plot was a tad faster and more intricate than with Trent's book, which I prefer. 

All together, this is a strong ending to a wonderful historical romance series and I look forward to seeing more from Hunter in the future. You can purchase An Inconvenient Beauty here on Amazon or find a local store near you here.

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Who Are You Trying to Please?

I've been reading in Matthew lately, and I was stopped by Jesus repeating something. You see, when Jesus repeats something we need to take note. Not that we don't on everything he says, but you know what I'm getting at ;) So anyway, Matthew 6 has some wonderful points in it. Jesus is talking about giving, fasting, and praying. As he teaches about each of these he encourages us to do them in quiet.

Why? I mean, is Jesus telling us it's bad to receive acknowledgement from others? No. He's not. It's okay to receive approval from man. What's not okay is to only want approval from man. To believe that's where our identity and reward lie. To allow that approval to be our motivation in doing what God has called us to do. None of that is okay.

You see, God is a jealous God--but he's also a God who loves us lavishly. All he wants is for our motivations and desires to center on him. So he cautions us to do things quietly so that we don't fall into the trap of pleasing man rather than him. What amazed me in these verses is what Jesus said three times to people who have fallen into that trap:

"I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get..."

In other words, sure, they'll receive the accolades of man, but that is all they will ever receive. But to those who quietly go about what they're doing with only pleasing God in mind he says this:

"And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

Friends, if we have a choice between receiving the accolades of man verses the rewards of Christ, why would we ever choose man? God's rewards far outweigh man's. They are eternal. And they are SO much better than anything man can give, so why would we want to miss them? Because, take note, while Jesus isn't saying we will miss out on the rewards of man when we seek to please only God, he is saying we'll miss out on the rewards of God when all we seek is to please man.

So today when you embark on what God has called you to, fix your eyes on him and only him. Trust me, you don't want to miss what he has for you!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bending and Swaying

This summer I took a dune ride out through Saugatuck, Michigan. Such a fun place! Once we'd made it through the sandy hills we dipped into a forest behind them. Quiet and dark, it was amazing to think this enchanted area lay behind all that sand! But what grabbed my thoughts as the guide toured us through the birch, oaks, and maples were how many of the trees bent and turned at unique angles. I'd never seen anything like it! The guide called it phototropism, and though I had never heard that term before, I was immediately intrigued by its meaning.

You see, some of the trees had shot straight up and created a canopy over the forest floor making it hard for sunlight to reach below. And what is one thing a tree needs to grow? Light. So instead of staying in the dark, the new trees bent until they found the sunlight. Then when that sunlight was cut-off and the tree found itself in darkness again? Well it took another turn--sometimes in the completely opposite direction--so that it could find the light again. What an amazing phenomenon. After years of growth these trees didn't have a straight trunk, no, their trunks spoke of the story of how it bent, dipped, and swayed to remove itself from darkness and return to the light. That tree made seeking and remaining in the light at all costs its main goal, because it knew without that light, it wouldn't thrive.  Of course it made me think of our walk with God:)
I never took a picture that day! This is the closet
I could find online to a picture of phototropism:)

Friends, our walk with God is never a linear path. Life happens. Darkness presses in at times. And we have a choice; do we adjust to remain in God's light, or do we continue in the dark? God is always there. He's always beckoning us and ready to engulf us with his love and light, but there are times where we have to change the direction we wanted so that we can follow the path he's calling us to grow along.

Bend. Dip. Sway.


And never stop seeking him.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Bookshelf Friday: Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Politano

Friends, I am so excited about this book! You see, it's one I had the pleasure of reading in its infancy, and it's only grown better since! Joanna Davidson Politano's debut from Revell, Lady Jayne Disappears, is a wonderful addition to the historical fiction genre. Here's a short blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother's disappearance--and perhaps even her father's death.

From the first page to the last, this book captivates. I'm typically a romance reader (honestly, I think Jesus is our biggest romancer of all!) and when a book isn't strong in the romance thread, I can sometimes skim it. Yet Politano's writing and characters are so strong that even though romance isn't the central focus of this book, I couldn't stop turning the pages! Politano's ability to sink her reader into the setting and tug at their heart through her characters is a strength that makes her writing sing. The mystery rolling through this book keeps you asking questions. The plot moves at a perfect pace and through it all, hints of a humorous voice pop through that perfectly matches the time period this book is written in. And for the romance lover, it does makes its way on page with enough doses to keep a lovely smile on your face. Best of all, this book is full of hope and faith.

All together, Politano's debut is one that will leave the reader adding this author to their TBR lists for all her future books. I happily recommend Lady Jayne Disappears and you can purchase it here.

Happy reading, friends!