The Matchmakers by Janette Oke

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

The MatchmakersThe Matchmakers by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Since the early passing of her husband, Cynthia has been grateful for her father’s help with her two young sons. Now Cynthia wants a bit more space to get on with her life, but she’s worried about her father being all alone. Her best friend Judith is rather sure that setting Cynthia’s father up with a nice, older widow would be just the ticket in The Matchmakers by author Janette Oke.

This author has been one of my all-time favorites for years, with her simple and touching stories, so I always knew I’d get around to reading this tale from the 90s eventually. What a light, cozy little story it is–and I mean that literally, with its fun and heartwarming plot and the lovely illustrations in the hardback I picked up. Not to sound corny, but this is a bona fide “curl up on the couch with a warm cup of coffee” kind of read.

Or a warm cup of cocoa. I personally don’t drink coffee.

I got a little annoyed at some of the unnamed characters, and even at Judith at one point, for the attitude they’d take about Cynthia’s situation. “I have a family,” Judith reminds Cynthia once, as if Cynthia doesn’t know that–and as if Cynthia doesn’t have a family herself. (No, she doesn’t have a husband anymore. But she does have a family.) And I’m not sure how well a “leave it all in God’s hands and don’t manipulate” frame of mind works in a matchmaking story. If you’re purposely finding ways to leave two people alone in each other’s company, you’re still manipulating the situation.

But, anyhow. I enjoyed this easy and delightful read–predictable, but then, not quite as predictable as I thought it would be.

Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Grace had begun losing hope of ever getting married. But when she’s handed the task of corresponding with the new, young, unmarried minister who’ll soon be coming to town, Grace’s hopes rise. Meanwhile, Theophil is running to escape the vengeance of his outlaw cousins, and he might find safety and acceptance in Grace’s town—if he can manage to con all the townsfolk in Grace and the Preacher, a novel by author Kim Vogel Sawyer.

Overall, Theo’s point of view was my favorite. His inward debates, rationalizations, and realizations make up some of the most interesting parts. And I particularly liked one older character’s message to Grace, about how one shouldn’t try to force the wrong plans to work just because one feels desperate.

Though I wouldn’t exactly say the story drags, it does essentially amble or “take the long way around” in places. I felt like some portions could have been clipped without ruining the story. I didn’t make much of an emotional connection with the characters, and the central romance fell pretty flat to me. While I do appreciate sweetness in romances, this one gave me something of an “adolescent crush” impression. The hero being tongue-tied, anxious, and childlike, he and the heroine peeking at each other, smiling, then ducking their heads.

Still, this novel is much of what I thought it would be when I picked it up: a warm, positive story with main characters who’ve all got some discoveries to make. Many fans of easy reads of love and faith should enjoy this tale.

Home at Last by Deborah Raney

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
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Four Silver Stars

Home at LastHome At Last by Deborah Raney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Link Whitman doesn’t exactly find an easy way into the good graces of Shayla Michaels after a near-tragic incident with Link’s truck on an icy road. But that’s only the tip of an iceberg of obstacles that may prevent a friendship–and something more–between this white man and mixed race woman in Home at Last, a novel by author Deborah Raney.

Yes, I jumped into this series with the final book, without having read the preceding ones. But despite my bit of trouble keeping all of the Whitman family names straight a couple times, this last Chicory Inn novel didn’t leave me feeling lost.

In fact, I was pulled right into the novel early, and overall, I remained quite engaged along the way. The story brings together its cast of very human characters to tackle real questions concerning love, friendship, family, race relations, prejudice, faith, and how we handle our fears and dreams.

I’ll admit that I was more than halfway through the book before I got a convincing feel for the romance. For much of the story, it seems the development of Link and Shayla’s relationship is strongly focused on the surrounding issues that can keep them apart without enough focus on building the chemistry between them, in real time. It’s almost as if the romance is mostly happening in the background, and then serious romantic feelings pop into the foreground.

Nevertheless, this is a hopeful and thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed and would highly recommend to fellow ChristFic readers–perhaps even ones who don’t normally read romance.

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Home at Last is Book Five in the Chicory Inn series.

Home to Chicory Lane (Chicory Inn #1) Two Roads Home (Chicory Inn, #2) Another Way Home (Chicory Inn #3) Close to Home (Chicory Inn #4)

Buying Love by Toni Shiloh

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit for an honest review.

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Four Silver Stars

Buying LoveBuying Love by Toni Shiloh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Nina wants a family, but with no prospects for a marriage and children in sight, she advertises in the newspaper for a husband, including a dowry in the deal. Dwight answers the ad in honest need of cash to save his family’s restaurant and his father’s legacy. But when Dwight begins falling for Nina, their financial tie-up may get in the way in Buying Love by author Toni Shiloh.

Well, gee. What an interesting fix Nina and Dwight get themselves into. There are good points of tension in the story–two people prayerfully heading into a risky venture even though they don’t have all the answers, and a man wrestling with how he can ever be a provider for a woman who has more money than he does.

The last burst of conflict for the climax felt a little contrived to me, not quite a natural fit for this particular hero and heroine. But the romance is out-and-out sweet without being too syrupy (yes, even considering all the maple around.) The book also concludes with a good amount of key, wonderful things and has left me in anticipation of the coming continuation of the series.

Many other fans of ChristFic romance should enjoy this story of love, friends, family, and belonging.