Thursday, December 30, 2021

Five Star Books Of 2021

Last year I created my first post calling out all of the five star books I read that year. I thought I'd continue with this year because I tell you what, 2021 was an excellent year for books!! I know I should probably start off with the book I probably recommended the most, but I'm saving that for last. The rest are in order of when I read them this year. You'll find the cover, summary, and a link to my review.




Summary:

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie's past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton--the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman--boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they've both dreamed of. But it's not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.




Summary:

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.


Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti

Summary:

While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she's supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is eight time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone and needy kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun.

Then Liam's three-year absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara struggles to find her footing, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous, faith is fragile, and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.


A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Summary:

In 1886 Calcutta, Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon the skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger named Everett Scott appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett, friend to Ottilie's English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn't forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in a cold, foreign land.


No Unturned Stone by David James Warren

Summary:

"The One Rule Is, Don’t Mess With The Past”

But he did, and now ex-detective Rembrandt Stone is reaping the devastation of ignoring those words when he traveled back in time to solve the one case that had haunted his dreams.

Yes, he solved the crime. Yes, he saved lives. But Rembrandt returns to find the unthinkable has happened and his life has shattered.

There’s only one answer: break the rule again. Go back in time once more, fix what went wrong, save what went right, and yeah, in his spare time solve another brutal crime.

But it’s not so easy to change time, especially when time turns you into a target. And of course there’s the strong possibility if he goes again, he’ll never get back.

Get ready for your mind to be blown in Book 2 of the time-travel suspense series, The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone.

The continuing adventures of Rembrandt Stone from the creative minds of James L. Rubart, Susan May Warren and newcomer David Curtis Warren, writing as DAVID JAMES WARREN.


Let It Be Me by Becky Wade

Summary:

The one woman he wants is the one he cannot have.

Former foster kid Sebastian Grant has leveraged his intelligence and hard work to become a pediatric heart surgeon. But not even his career success can erase the void he's tried so hard to fill. Then he meets high school teacher Leah Montgomery and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop. He falls hard, only to make a devastating discovery--Leah is the woman his best friend set his heart on months before.

Leah's a math prodigy who's only ever had one big dream--to earn her PhD. Raising her little brother put that dream on hold. Now that her brother will soon be college bound, she's not going to let anything stand in her way. Especially romance . . . which is far less dependable than algebra.

When Leah receives surprising results from the DNA test she submitted to a genealogy site, she solicits Sebastian's help. Together, they comb through hospital records to uncover the secrets of her history. The more powerfully they're drawn to each other, the more strongly Sebastian must resist, and the more Leah must admit that some things in life--like love--can't be explained with numbers.


Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar

Summary:

Whispered secrets about her parents’ past take on new urgency for Chariline as she pays one last visit to the land of her forefathers, the ancient kingdom of Cush.

Raised as an orphan by her aunt, Chariline has only been told a few pieces of her parents’ tragic love story. Her beautiful dark skin is proof that her father was Cushite, but she knows nothing else. While visiting her grandfather before his retirement as the Roman official in the queen’s court, Chariline overhears that her father is still alive, and discovering his identity becomes her obsession. Both her grandfather and the queen have reasons for keeping this secret, however, and forbid her quest. So when her only clues lead to Rome, Chariline sneaks on the ship of a merchant trusted by friends.

Theo is shocked to discover a stowaway on board his vessel and determines to be rid of her as soon as possible. But drawn in by Chariline’s story, he feels honor-bound to see her safely to shore, especially when it appears someone may be willing to kill for the truth she seeks.

In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters—including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.


Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund

Summary:

The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That's exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father's quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He's left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he's crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian's rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to? 

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.



Summary:

Foxglove Manor would twist its way into your soul until one day it owned you, and it called to you, and it didn't cease haunting you until you came back.

In 1885, Adria Fontaine has been sent away from her home to recover goods her malevolent father pirated on the Great Lakes during the Civil War. Hoping to find freedom away from her father, Adria arrives at Foxglove Manor--a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior--but senses only wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life. 

Centuries later, Kailey Gibson takes on a position as a nurse's aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Abducted as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling threat from her kidnappers that they may return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. 

As the sinister mysteries of Foxglove Manor haunt two women separated by time, they will have to risk it all to banish the past's demons--including their own.


Summary:

This disaster may be just what she needed.

Darcy Malone's dreams of mission work are dashed on the eve of fulfilling them: The Guatemalan school she was going to teach at has closed, and she's already quit her job and given up her apartment. Stuck in her worst-case scenario, Darcy accepts an unexpected offer to move in with Bryson Katsaros's little sister, despite the years of distrust between her and Bryson, the lead singer in her best friend Cameron's band. But as she meets those close to Bryson, Darcy quickly discovers there is more to him than just his bad-boy persona.

Needing to find a purpose for all her sudden free time, Darcy jumps at the chance to care for and train a group of unruly dogs, with the aim of finding each a home before their bereaved owner returns them to animal control. But it's Darcy herself who will encounter a surprising rescue in the form of love, forgiveness, and learning to let go.


To Write a Wrong by Jen Turano

Summary:

Miss Daphne Beekman is a mystery writer by day, inquiry agent by night. Known for her ability to puzzle out plots, she prefers working behind the scenes for the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, staying well away from danger. However, Daphne soon finds herself in the thick of an attempted murder case she's determined to solve.

Mr. Herman Henderson is also a mystery writer, but unlike the dashing heroes he pens, he lives a quiet life, determined to avoid the fate of his adventurous parents, who perished on an expedition when he was a child. But when he experiences numerous attempts on his life, he seeks out the services of the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency to uncover the culprit. All too soon, Herman finds himself stepping out of the safe haven of his world and into an adventure he never imagined.

As the list of suspects grows and sinister plots are directed Daphne's way as well, Herman and Daphne must determine who they can trust and if they can risk the greatest adventure of all: love.


Set in Stone by David James Warren

Summary:

Trapped in time, he'll have to use the past to fix the present.

Thirty-eight women. Dead. All the in the past. All because Detective Rembrandt Stone played with fate, and somewhere in time unleashed a serial killer. He can't undo their deaths, not anymore, but the serial killer is still at large, twenty-four years later, and now it's personal. Especially when the evidence points to the last person on anyone's radar: Rembrandt himself.

Now he'll have to use the clues from his pasts to track down the killer in the present.

But the killer is onto him and puts the one person Rembrandt loves in his cross hairs. Now, Rembrandt must outwit time to save the people he loves.

Because time is playing for keeps.


Undercurrent of Secrets by Rachel Scott McDaniel

Summary:

Two women, a century apart, are bound by a haunting secret aboard a legendary steamboat.

As wedding coordinator for the 100-year-old steamboat The Belle of Louisville, Devyn Asbury takes pride in seeing others’ dreams come true, even though her engagement had sunk like a diamond ring to the bottom of the Ohio River. When the Belle becomes a finalist in the Timeless Wedding Venue contest, Devyn endeavors to secure the prestigious title with hopes to reclaim some of her professional dreams. What she hadn’t planned on was Chase Jones showing up with a mysterious photo from the 1920s.
 
A century earlier, Hattie Louis is as untamable as the rivers that raised her. As the adopted daughter of a steamboat captain, her duties range from the entertainment to cook. When strange incidents occur aboard the boat, Hattie’s determined to discover the truth. Even if that means getting under First Mate Jack Marshall’s handsome skin.


The Lines Between Us by Amy Lynn Green

Summary:

A WWII novel of courage and conviction, based on the true experience of the men who fought fires as conscientious objectors and the women who fought prejudice to serve in the Women's Army Corps.

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gordon Hooper and his buddy Jack Armitage have stuck to their values as conscientious objectors. Much to their families' and country's chagrin, they volunteer as smokejumpers rather than enlisting, parachuting into and extinguishing raging wildfires in Oregon. But the number of winter blazes they're called to seems suspiciously high, and when an accident leaves Jack badly injured, Gordon realizes the facts don't add up.  

A member of the Women's Army Corps, Dorie Armitage has long been ashamed of her brother's pacifism, but she's shocked by news of his accident. Determined to find out why he was harmed, she arrives at the national forest under the guise of conducting an army report . . . and finds herself forced to work with Gordon. He believes it's wrong to lie; she's willing to do whatever it takes for justice to be done. As they search for clues, Gordon and Dorie must wrestle with their convictions about war and peace and decide what to do with the troubling secrets they discover.


A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano

Summary:

The best moments in dance are the unscripted ones

At their core, all theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most--and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater. 

After a chance encounter with one of the ballet company's handsome dancers late one night, Ella is swept off her elegantly pointed toes. The dance they share and the promise he makes to her feel like a new beginning. Yet as she faces mounting challenges in the ever-shrinking ballet company, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the ghostly ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own disastrous end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the unyielding grip of the past?


Blood From a Stone by David James Warren

Summary:

He fled the future with blood on his hands. Now, he'll do anything to stop a killer.

Tragedy has yet again taken from Detective Rembrandt Stone everything he loves. Now, he has one last chance to get things right and stop a killer he's been hunting across four timelines. Instead, he gets tangled in a petty crime that just might cost him his once chance at justice.

With two murders to stop, and thirty-eight lives still in the balance, Rembrandt must play his hand against time just right if he wants to win his future. Play it wrong and his life will stay shattered beyond repair.

What sacrifices will he have to make to come home to his wife and daughter?

The stakes have never been higher in the heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat fifth story of the True Lies of Rembrandt Stone.



The Mobster's Daughter by Rachel Scott McDaniel


Summary:

The one man who could help her, must never know her name.

If Kate Chamberlin can't reveal her true identity to the world, she must settle for sharing only her talent. Hired as a musician for KDKA radio, Kate plays everything from sponsors’ jingles to complex sonatas. As long as the whispers around the broadcasting room refer to her as “Killjoy Kate” and not “Catarina the crime boss's daughter,” then her life is safe from danger.

Or so she thinks.

When anonymous, violent threats surface, Kate's wary of accepting protection from the handsome private investigator, Detective Jennings. His save-the-world attitude is as charming as his manners, but no one, especially him, can know the gruesome realities of her birth.

The 1924 Pittsburgh underworld is as complicated as it is elusive, and though the dealings of the Salvastanos have dwindled, Rhett Jennings is certain the man responsible for his father's death is still at large. But his personal hunt for justice must be set aside when his day job requires him to investigate threats directed at a young radio broadcaster with enamoring brown eyes and secretive behavior.

When danger surrounds them, will the truth of Kate's past become the key to their survival?


Lights Out by Natalie Walters

Summary:

CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing.

Jack Hudson has been working for the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency for almost nine years and takes the lead in hunting down the missing spy. But he isn't at all pleased to find out Brynn is involved. It's hard to trust a woman who's already betrayed you.

Every lead they follow draws them dangerously deeper into an international plot. Kidnapping, murder, explosions, poisoning--the terrorists will do anything to accomplish their goal of causing a digital blackout that will blind a strategic US military communications center and throw the world into chaos.

Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn't trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world--and their hearts--hangs in the balance.


You and Me by Becky Wade

Summary:

Easy-going, artistic Connor Bryant fell hard for his friend Shay Seaver when they were both in the seventh grade. Sixteen years later, he's returned to Misty River. She's finally between boyfriends. And his crush on her hasn't wavered. Now's his chance.

He tells Shay that he's found someone he wants to date and is in need of a makeover when it comes to his appearance and dating strategies. He asks if she'll serve as his consultant -- in hopes that he'll learn how he can become her ideal man. What he doesn't tell her? That she's the one he wants to date.

Sporty stationery shop owner Shay immediately agrees to Connor's request because he's one of the best guys she knows. However, she quickly realizes she's in over her head. She's pledged to help him win the affection of another woman -- even though she dearly wants to claim his heart.

It's Christmas in the mountain town of Misty River! This sweet contemporary romance novella, penned by Christy-winning author Becky Wade, can be read alone or paired with the other books in the series.


Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy

Summary:

Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family's constant disappointment. As the nation's most fearless--and reviled--columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape. 

Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel's sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she's long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her. 


Heart of Stone by David James Warren

Summary:

Rembrandt Stone has nothing left to lose…or does he?

Detective Rembrandt Stone doesn’t recognize himself in the mirror. Doesn’t recognize the world he’s returned to. Doesn’t even know his own name. But he knows one thing…living in this world is impossible.

Good thing he has an ally—an unexpected friend from the past. And together, they just might be able to unravel the entire mess. But first…Rembrandt will have to return to the past one final time and intercept himself before he makes a lethal mistake.

Time has outwitted him. It’s time for him to outwit time. Can he reconstruct a past he just destroyed or is there nothing left of his world to save?

The explosive ending to the True Lies of Rembrandt Stone!


Dead Fall by Nancy Mehl

Summary:

He has a deadly endgame in mind--and he's already chosen each victim . . . including her.

After putting to rest the most personal case of her career, Alex Donovan is ready to move on and focus on her future at the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit. When the BAU cofounder is discovered dead in his hotel room, the FBI is called in to work on the strangest case they've ever faced. How do you find a killer who murders his victims from a distance?

When it becomes clear that the killer is targeting agents in Alex's unit, they are ordered into lockdown, sheltered in the dorms at Quantico. Alex bunks with controversial agent Kaely Quinn, and as they work together, Alex discovers in Kaely the role model she's never had--despite being warned away. 

As Alex questions the type of agent she wants to become, things get personal when the brilliant killer strikes close to home. Now Alex will do anything to find the killer--even at the risk of her own life.


Proposing Mischief by Regina Jennings

Summary:

Only one person can give her the freedom she seeks--but is it worth the risk?

Maisie Kentworth is being forced to stay on her parents' ranch. After a short-lived relationship with the wrong man, she's worried about inflaming things further between her former beau and her protective family. Left to rue her mistakes, she keeps busy exploring the idle mine at the edge of their property, where she discovers a great treasure.

Boone Bragg is also stuck. With his parents on vacation, the management of Bragg Mining falls on him, and one of his advisors wants him as a son-in-law. One wrong move, and Boone will end up either offending an associate or marrying a woman he can't endure.

While closing up a spent mine, Boone gets two surprises. One is a spitfire farm girl who's trespassing with a pickax, and the other is the amazing crystal cavern that she's discovered. Suddenly Boone sees a way to overhaul the family business. With part of the cavern on Kentworth land, Boone makes Maisie a proposal that he hopes will solve all of their problems. Instead it throws Joplin into chaos, and it will take all of Maisie's gumption to set things right.

And the book I recommended the most in 2021...



Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

Summary:

How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?

In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she's handed a strange present at the latest wedding--a 1950s magazine article of "ways to get a husband"--she decides there's nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can't get any more single, can she?

Her brother's roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love--Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.

When Meri Me debuts, it's an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she's looking for . . .

With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for.

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.