Review: HOPE AT DAWN (Of Love and War, #1) by Stacy Henrie

With her brothers away fighting the Great War overseas, Livy Campbell desperately wants to help her family.  Her chance comes when she meets a handsome stranger who lands her a job as a teacher in a place far from her parents' farm.  But the war casts a long shadow over the German-American town that Livy now calls home--and the darkness will test everything she thought she knew about family and love...

More than anything, Friedrick Wagner wants to be part of his adopted country's struggle for peace.  But when the bitter animosity between Germans and Americans soon turns citizens against newcomers, friend against friend, he will do whatever it takes to protect Livy from the hysteria that grips their town.  As tragedy--and dark secrets from the past--threaten their future, Friedrick and Livy have one chance to stand up for what's right and...one chance to fight for their love.

Christian romance and Christian fiction usually aren't my thing, but I found myself becoming more interested in this book every time I saw it because of the cover (and the blurb).  I know---I judged a book by it's cover--a simply gorgeous one at that!  And yes, I was definitely intrigued by the story.

My maternal grandfather was born in the late 1890s and was of German descent, with a big ol' German surname.  We are from Cincinnati, a town with a very huge German population.  And a town that during the Great War (aka WWI), renamed streets with names that were "too German," with names that were decidedly less German sounding.  When I realized that Livy Campbell and my grandfather were the same age, I was taken aback.  I had, and have, honestly never given my German heritage much thought, of what it means to be German-American.  I'm proud of my German heritage--but I've never suffered for it, like Friedrick and his family did.  Reading about Friedrick and his family's struggle made me wonder what kind of struggles my ancestors, in particular, my grandfather, had faced during WWI.  Grandpa did not fight in WWI.  I always assumed it was because he was too young to fight.  I will never know what it was like for him during that time--he passed away when my mother was only 3 years old. 

Livy and Friedrick have an instant connection that is tested by ignorance and hatred on their parts, the townspeople, and the German settlers.  Ms. Henrie does a beautiful job of showing all sides, the townspeople and the Germans' ignorance and hatred of each other and Livy and Friedrick finding common ground and a deep and abiding love for one another.  She weaves the seeds of love and forgiveness through the story so beautifully, that it is easy for the reader to imagine that all in this story have learned to see beyond what divides us to see that what unites us is much stronger and much more plentiful.

I simply could not put this book down.   Livy is a strong, independent woman, who loves her family and ultimately, Friedrick and his family.  She's willing to do what is right, even if it costs her.  And she is shown to struggle with Friedrick's "German-ness" and what that will mean to her family if she brings home a man of German descent when her family has sacrificed so much in fighting the Germans in WWI.  Friedrick is such a strong and gentle man.  Any woman of any era would be blessed to have this man as her partner in life.  He willingly suffers the slings of others for not serving in the Army because someone has to take care of the family farm.  He is tested greatly and his deep devotion to God carries him through all of the trials he's faced with.

For readers who might be squeamish to pick this up because it's a Christian Romance, don't be afraid to pick this one up.  Yes, Livy and Friedrick are very obvious Christians and their faith and devotion to God is never hidden, but you will not be assaulted with bible thumping in the story.  HOPE BEFORE DAWN is a gentle story that is highly recommended. 


Rating:  4 stars out of 4 stars--Do yourself a favor and read this book!

HOPE AT DAWN (Of Love and War, Book 1) by Stacy Henrie
Forever/Grand Central Publishing, June 2014
ISBN:  978-1-4555-9880-9
Stacy Henrie's on Twitter:  @StacyHenrie  and Facebook

P.S.:  I cannot wait until the other books in the series come out in late 2014 and early 2015!  Here's a little peek at those titles:

HOPE RISING (December 2014):
In France at the height of World War I, American nurse Evelyn Gray is no stranger to suffering. She's helped save the life of many a soldier, but when she learns her betrothed has been killed, her own heart may be broken beyond repair. Summoning all her strength, Evelyn is determined to carry on-not just for herself and her country, but for her unborn child.
Corporal Joel Campbell dreams of the day the war is over and he can return home and start a family. When a brutal battle injury puts that hope in jeopardy, Joel is lost to despair . . . until he meets Evelyn. Beautiful, compassionate, and in need of help, she makes an unconventional proposal that could save their lives-or ruin them irrevocably. Now, amidst the terror and turmoil of the Western Front, these two lost souls will have to put their faith in love to find the miracle they've been looking for.

Nora Lewis just wants an escape after losing her fiance in the Great War. When she inherits property in England, she boldly packs up and leaves America for a fresh start. But, if not for her dashing new neighbor, Colin Ashby, she'd be lost. Even as their friendship deepens, Nora knows a British aristocrat would never be free to love an American orphan, no matter how much the war has changed the world ...
After his brother's death in the war and his own experiences as a pilot at the front, Colin returns home broken, only to discover his family's estate is also in ruin. The pressure is now on him to save his home and the Ashbys' place in society with a well-bred match to a wealthy heiress. Too bad he finds more of a kindred spirit in Nora, the beautiful American next door. She, too, has faced the rigors of war and survived. Now the ex-soldier will have one more battle to fight--this time for love.


A Forever Christmas

(c) 2014 Hachette Publishing

Did you know there are only 12 weeks until Christmas?  Yeah, I'm not ready for it either.  Forever Romance has some hot, new holiday-themed romances available beginning this week that should help anyone get in the mood for a little Christmas cheer.  

Their holiday line-up kicks off with the star studded anthology A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER.  

  • Dream a Little Dream by Jill Shalvis:  Melissa has kept every man at a safe distance-especially firefighter, Ian, a sexy friend with sexy benefits.  But Ian secretly longs for more.  Luckily, 'tis the season for giving love a chance...
  • Every Year by Kristen Ashley:  Holidays don't come easy for shy and his brother, Landon.  But with the magic of Christmas, along with a little help from Tabby and her family, the Cage brothers are about to get the gift of a lifetime...
  • Silent Night by Hope Ramsay:  Down on her luck and evicted from her apartment, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in Last Chance.  When the snow begins to fall, it looks like her baby might literally spend Christmas Eve in a manger.  And Maryanne might celebrate the holiday with a handsome stranger.
  • Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas by Molly Cannon:  Lincoln is a bachelor who's set in his ways-until a professional organizer dressed up as Mrs. Claus changes his life, one tip at a time...
  • A Family for Christmas by Marilyn Pappano:  War widow Ilena doesn't mind spending Christmas alone.  But when a new doctor blows into town with the winter wind, will she get her secret Christmas wish?
Enjoy an excerpt of Jill Shalvis' DREAM A LITTLE DREAM

“Melissa,” he said on a ragged groan as her arms wound around his neck. “What are you up to?”

“If you don’t know, I’m doing it wrong.”

His hands were still at her hips, his fingers digging in as if he was getting ready to push her away from him.

She held on and met his gaze. “I’m trying to show you something.”

“What is that, exactly?”

“That I want you,” she said.

“Wanting was never our problem,” he said, and nudged. He was hard.

This gave her a surge of anticipation that made her entire body tremble. She wanted to kiss him more than she wanted her next breath, but this wasn’t going to be their usual “friends with benefits” situation. This time, she wanted it all. “I want to give us a real shot, Ian.”

“Because of what happened the other night,” he said, not sounding impressed.

“Because of what almost happened the other night,” she corrected. “A near death experience makes people rethink things.” She paused. “Like mistakes they’ve made.”

Next up is Debbie Mason's third entry in her delightful Christmas, Colorado series, IT HAPPENED AT CHRISTMAS

Free-spirited activist Skylar Davis is out of money and out of options. After using up her trust fund trying to save the world, she hides out in Christmas, hoping the kindness of friends will help her forget the reckless actions of her past. All goes well . . . until she comes face-to-face with one of her mistakes: the town's gorgeous young mayor. Ethan O'Connor likes his life drama-free and predictable now that he's about to make the move from small-town politics to the Colorado State Senate. Then Skye blows back into town, as impulsive and passionate as he remembers. If word ever got out about their night together-the night he's never been able to forget-the scandal could cripple his career. Yet as he starts his campaign, Ethan finds that, like the town of Christmas itself, he can't get Skye out of his head . . . or his heart.

Debbie is also on Twitter, @authordebmason

Olivia Miles makes her Forever debut with the first book in her Briar Creek series, MISTLETOE ON MAIN STREET

Briar Creek's quaint shop windows, cozy homes nestled in snow, and neighborly residents are what Christmas dreams are made of--for everyone except Grace Madison. She left her hometown years ago to pursue a writing career. But when her father's death leaves his bookstore empty, Grace must return to face why she fled Vermont in the first place: Luke Hastings, who still heats her up like a shot of smoky whiskey on a cold winter's night. Grace is back, and Luke is worried. How much has she changed as a bestselling author in the big city? What memories will she stir up? And was the choice he made five years ago the biggest mistake of his life? Now, with their past, present, and future rocking around the Christmas tree, it's time for Grace and Luke to face the music...and the mistletoe.

Check Olivia Miles out on Facebook and Twitter, @msoliviamiles

Finally, Katie Lane delivers the next installment in her Hunk for the Holidays series, RING IN THE HOLIDAYS

Psychologist Ellie Simpson is about to get a healthy dose of sex therapy. Leaving her cheating boyfriend behind, she has everything she needs for a quick rebound: Vegas, plenty of champagne, and a proposition from the sexiest man she's ever seen. As her handsome stranger helps her ring in the New Year-over and over again-Ellie finds herself blissfully losing all of her inhibitions. Attorney Matthew McPherson is good at making women lose things, like their minds and underwear. With his athletic build and soulful eyes, he doesn't need to use his powers of persuasion or famous last name to get a woman into bed.  But when morning comes, Matthew finds Ellie is the only woman he can't bear to leave-ever.  It's enough to make him wonder if what happens in Vegas really has to stay there.

Katie can be found on Facebook and Twitter, @ktlane3

I'm certainly starting to feel the holiday cheer!  Remember to head out to your local brick and mortar book store or over to your favorite online bookstore to pick up these books and get a jump on the holidays!