Short-Straw Bride – Karen Witemeyer

Baking Publishing House through Bethany House

ISBN 9781441271150

Short-Straw BrideNo one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

I enjoy Karen Witemeyer stories, and this is another fantastic read.

Meredith Hayes is an independent young woman who lives with her Uncle and Aunt after the death of her own parents.  They are determined to see her marry in order to continue their business relationship with a prominent business man, but when Meredith learns of a plot to get some of her old neighbours off their land, she goes to warn them, but ends up in a predicament.  Her angry Uncle declares that she must marry one of the four Archer men.

Travis is moody, broody and very protective of his family after being charged by his dying father to care for them.  He has gone to the extreme though and has barred anyone from entering his property, so when Meredith Hayes turns up to tell him that someone is coming to burn down the barn, he isn’t sure whether to believe her or not.

When forced to marry, Travis takes the responsibility upon his own shoulders, but only after cheating in the straw draw.  All of the brothers want to marry the pretty young woman, but Travis wants her.  Unfortunately they seem unable to consummate the marriage, and Meredith wonders if she will ever find love.

This is a Christian romance, but a lovely gentle read, with plenty of action and a great story line.

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Choosing the Amusing – Marilyn Meberg

Choosing the Amusing by Marilyn Meberg

Published in 1999 by W Publishing Group

ISBN 0-8499-3744-2

When was the last time you laughed till your sides hurt?  Get ready because it’s about to happen again.

What difference does it make whether you laugh or don’t laugh?  In Marilyn Meberg’s view, laughter makes all the difference in the world.  Laughter lifts the spirit, cheers the heart, and clears the mind.  So important is laughter that she proposes a “Laughter Lifestyle,” and while she makes her case, you find yourself smiling at her unexpected ideas, chuckling over her madcap experiences, and finally roaring with laughter as you read and reread her outrageous personal stories.

I found this in the local op shop and it sounded like the light and easy read that I could do with right now.  It wasn’t until I got home that I also discovered it was Christian based (which doesn’t worry me in the least).

Laughter is the best medicine, and it has been scientifically proven to be so.  It releases “feel good” endorphins into the brain, which help you to feel better.  But Marilyn goes a step further and states that you need to constantly look for laughter, whether it be through funny situations, or just acting like a child (which she is fully supportive of, and acts from some of the stories in the book).

As adults, we tend to find life a bit too serious, and I know that I suffer from this.  But there is nothing like knowing that Funniest Home Videos is on everyday from 5pm until 5:30pm, and I can get a full belly laugh which sets me up for the rest of the night.

Humour lightens the load, you feel relaxed, calm and restored when you have a good laugh.  When we don’t laugh, we feel undervalues, we aren’t heard and we aren’t real.

This book has some very amusing anecdotes and stories as well as explaining why you need to find humour in your every day life.

Behind Closed Doors – A startling story of Exclusive Bethren Life by Ngaire Thomas

Published by Random House New Zealand  ISBN 1-86941-730-5

What is the real story behind the Exclusive Bethren Church in New Zealand? This gripping and revealing first hand account tells of one family’s experience in the Exclusive Bethren community in New Zealand. Ngaire Thomas grew up, married, raised her children within the church. In plain, non-judgemental style, Ngaire describes life inside this community, with its strict rules.

Behind Closed Doors tells of the struggles Ngaire and her family went through in order to remain within this close but challenging community. She and her husband Denis, a very devout man, had a strong and committed marriage, raised five children and attempted to live a good life within the church. However, they were eventually excommunicated. Here Ngaire describes the trauma of adjusting to life ‘on the outside’ and its devastating effects on her children at the time.

Having been brought up Open Brethren, I was curious about the break away group that was the Exclusives. Once upon a time, Open and Exclusives were part of what was called the Plymouth Brethren, they shared the same views and philosophies. So what made the Exclusives separate themselves from their Brethren and eventually withdraw from the world?

I liked Ngaire’s down to earth style of writing, and the fact that she is able to give such an unbiased view of the church. There was bitterness and anger, but she also tells you what it was like within the church for those who lived in it. And if you were following the rules and loved God, then you were rewarded. If you were a rebellious person, who bucked the system, you were punished. I think this story is more than just about the Exclusives.

It was also a love story. Ngaire and her husband married after 5 months of knowing each other, at a quiet registry office service. Denis loved her unconditionally, and it wasn’t until later that Ngaire discovered just the extent of his love for her. He was devoted to her and gave up his chance of returning to the church because he loved his wife. That says something for a man who was torn between his family and his church.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about life inside the Exclusive Brethren, or anyone interested in learning more about various religions in the world.

A Tailor Made Bride – Karen Witemeyer

Title: A Tailor Made Bride

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

ISBN: 13: 9780764207556)

When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho “J.T.” Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He’s all too familiar with her kind–shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty.

Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected. Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness.

Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man? When Hannah decides to help Jericho’s sister catch a beau–leading to consequences neither could have foreseen–will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

I loved this story. It ‘s a tale about a seamstress who inherited a shop in a small town. Unfortunately the first person she comes into contact with is also the one other person who wanted the shop.

What follows is a delightful tale of old fashioned love and courtship. It was a story full of humour, hardship, heartbreaking moments and above all a God given message of persistence, love and endurance.

Yes, this is a Christian book, but it didn’t force it into your face. It weaved itself nicely into the tale and is appropriate for the time of the story (think pioneers of the US).

I am a sucker for a well written good old fashioned romance, and this was one of the best I have read for a long time.

Four and a half out of five.

Love Me If You Must

Love Me If You Must (Patricia Amble Mystery Series #1)

Nicole Young

Revell ISBN: 0800731573

 A run-down Victorian to renovate, a past to leave behind–who has time for romance…or murder? Patricia Amble, Tish to her friends, has gotten her

 life together. She’s renovating an old, rambling Victorian house in a small town outside of Detroit, and the fixer-upper should net her a big profit when she resells. Romance is right next door, with two attractive neighbors vying for her affection. But even their persistent attentions can’t dispel the sense of unease Tish feels. Voices whisper out of nowhere . . . and something odd is going on in the basement. Soon, Tish begins to question her decision to buy the old house. When a dead body turns up her own dark secrets make her a prime suspect in the current chaos. And is either of her attractive neighbors really who he says he is? What is going on just under the surface of this sleepy small town?

This is Nicole Young’s first novel and for a first outing, it wasn’t too bad.

It is Christian literature, but it was suspenseful, and it was entertaining and certainly didn’t thrash the Christian message like some novels do.

I liked that the Tish kept having clashes with her policeman neighbour while falling intensely in love with another. Her clashes with all her neighbours, and her own history, made Tish an extremely likeable character, one that had a dark secret of her own, which is revealed within the story.  Little snippets of information made for a suspenseful story that was well brought together.

It was almost predictable, but not quite.  I changed my mind three times before I found out who did it.  And that is what I liked about the story.  You would get some information, form an opinion, only to have it dashed in the next chapter.

While many reviews over at Amazon said that they didn’t like the tale, I found it enjoyable and a light hearted tale, wonderfully worded and artfully crafted.

4 stars out of 5