Saturday, July 30, 2016

"missing" by lisa harris

I often wonder if it's wise to jump into a book series midway through. In Missing, book two of the Nikki Boyd Files, author Lisa Harris does a great job of getting new readers like me up to speed—I jumped right in with no problem and quickly found myself swept into the mystery.

Nikki Boyd isn't usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she's ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant--and another dead body--Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business--including Nikki.

Missing opens at full speed with Nikki Boyd and her partner Jack arriving at a murder scene, and the action doesn't let up until the final page.

Each chapter begins with a timestamp, allowing the reader to grasp just how quickly-paced the novel is. Everything takes place over a matter of a couple days, yet I didn't feel as if things moved too quickly to keep up.

Though I did not read the first book in the Nikki Boyd files, which I presume introduces Nikki's search for her missing sister, as well as her budding relationship with her friend Tyler, I never felt like I was missing any vital information. Author Lisa Harris filled in new readers like me without really slowing down the action. The only aspect of the recap that did seem a but clunky was the continual reminder that Nikki had fallen in love with Tyler. I assume that's something she realized in the first book, but it was repeated so many times throughout Missing that I wanted to exclaim, "OK, I get it already!"

The romance in Missing is very light, as most of it is one-sided as Nikki wrestles with her feelings for Tyler. For a novel that moves this quickly, that felt realistic. However, there's also enough progression in the romance to satisfy those who want their suspense to include a little romance.

The plot itself is an ever-twisting thrill ride that kept me guessing. Though Nikki was able to wrap up this particular case by the end of the novel, the overarching mystery of what happened to her sister remains, and I look forward to the progress she will make towards finding her sister's abductor in Pursued, which will release next spring. 4 stars.

Read an excerpt.
Buy the book.
Buy Vendetta, book one in the series. (It's on sale for a limited time.)
Read my review of Harris's Hidden Agenda (4 stars).

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She is the author of nearly thirty books, including the Southern Crimes series and Vendetta, winner of the Romantic Times Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2015. Harris and her family have spent twelve years living as missionaries in southern Africa. Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell through the Revell Reads program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"london tides" by carla laureano


Though London Tides is the second book in Carla Laureano's MacDonald Family Trilogy, I had no trouble jumping right into Ian and Grace's story without first having read book one.

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

As I began reading London Tides, I immediately found myself swept into Grace and Ian's story. Grace, a conflict photojournalist who can no longer work on the front lines due to PTSD, returns to London searching for the next step ... which may include her former fiance Ian. Ian is the COO of his celebrity chef brother's company, but he just goes through the motions. There's nothing in his life that he really loves ... until Grace suddenly reappears.

I was able to read the book in one afternoon—it's that engaging. I loved following both Grace and Ian as they searched for "home." Yet, somehow, I didn't really care about their romance. I liked each character individually, but I would have been totally okay if they hadn't ended up together.

One of the highlights of the book is the glimpse into Ian's family. Book one in this series, Five Days in Skye, is about Ian's brother Jamie, and the upcoming book is about Ian's sister Serena. I haven't read either of those books yet, but now I want to!

Overall, I really enjoyed London Tides, and had I been thinking of it as a straight fiction title, I think I would have loved it. However, because I went into the novel expecting a great romance, I found myself a little let down. So here's my recommendation: read London Tides because it is an engaging, beautifully written book. Just don't get too hung up on the romance. 4 stars.

Buy the book.

Carla Laureano is the RITA Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"from this moment" by elizabeth camden


I have enjoyed several of Elizabeth Camden's books in the past, but From this Moment is easily my favorite. I was captivated from start to finish!

Stella West's artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston. With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister's death. Upon meeting Romulus White, a publisher with connections into every important power circle in the city, she quickly realizes he could be a valuable ally in navigating Boston society.

Romulus has been pursuing Stella for years to create art for his magazine. Her luminous illustrations are the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry, and he will stop at nothing to get her on board. 

Sparks fly the instant they join forces, but Romulus is unsettled by the unwelcome attraction he feels toward Stella, fearing she might be the one woman who could disrupt his hard-won independence. He may have finally met his match in Stella, but is helping her solve the mystery of her sister's death worth the risk to his publishing empire?

From this Moment is a delightful mix of romance, mystery, and suspense. Romulus White runs a magazine with his cousin Evelyn. When he learns that Stella West, an artist he has been trying to hire for years, has moved to Boston, he sees his chance to get what he wants. What he doesn't count on is falling for Stella.

Stella is desperate to discover the truth behind her sister's death, so she goes undercover and takes a job at City Hall, where her sister worked prior to her death. She has no intention of working for Romulus until she realizes that he has the connections she needs to further her investigation. But danger follows them, as someone is desperate to keep Stella from uncovering the truth.

Fans of witty banter will love From this Moment, as sparks fly from the moment Romulus and Stella meet! Both are very strong, stubborn, driven people, and their banter back and forth was one of the highlights of the novel.

The mystery is also done very well—the plot contains many twists and turns that aren't too predictable and kept me guessing as to which characters Romulus and Stella should trust.

There's also a secondary plot surrounding Evelyn and her husband Clyde (the subjects of Camden's novella Summer of Dreams, which is currently free). The two are estranged when the novel begins (which kind of broke my heart, as I loved reading their love story in Summer of Dreams), and their journey throughout the book is both heartbreaking and affirming.

From this Moment's romance, characters, and plot make it a top-notch historical novel—and the cover is simply gorgeous. I highly recommend it! 5 stars.

Buy the book.
Buy the novella Summer of Dreams.
Read my review of Camden's Beyond All Dreams (5 stars) and Against the Tide (4-1/2 stars).


Elizabeth Camden is the author of eight historical novels and has been honored with a RITA Award, Christy Award, and Daphne du Maurier Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers through their book reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links are "affilliate links." This means if you click the link and buy the product, I will receive a commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"going up south" by janet w. ferguson

A world-famous actor's life is turned upside-down when he learns he fathered a son in Going Up South, the second installment in Janet Ferguson's Southern Hearts series.

No one told him he had a son.

Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator.

After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession.

Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner—the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.

I recently read Leaving Oxford, the first book in Janet Ferguson's Southern Hearts series, and I really enjoyed it. It felt realistic and featured memorable main and supporting characters, and when I finished it, I couldn't wait to continue the series with Going Up South. What I didn't anticipate was how much I would absolutely love Going Up South.

Going Up South is the story of Hollywood star Dylan Conner and recent divorcee Cassie Brooks. Both make appearances in Leaving Oxford—Dylan in a fairly sizeable role, and Cassie in a couple quick scenes. I do think it's pretty important to read Leaving Oxford prior to Going Up South, simply because it gives a good look into Dylan's past and sets up the battle for his son.

In Leaving Oxford, Dylan is a self-absorbed womanizer. He seems like a nice guy, but he clearly has problems. So I was surprised at just how much I grew to like him as Going Up South went on. I could understand his hurt and anger when he learned that Jill (best friend to Sarah Beth, Leaving Oxford's main character) had kept his son from him. I couldn't stand how poorly Sarah Beth's and Jill's husbands treated him. (Had these events taken place in Leaving Oxford, I totally would have been in the husbands' camp.) Basically, I went from seeing Dylan as an annoying bad boy in Leaving Oxford to really, really liking him—and much of that had to do with how he interacted with Cassie.

Cassie Brooks has to be one of my favorite fictional characters in recent memory. A strong woman who learned to fend for herself following her husband's betrayal, Cassie gets involved in Dylan and Jill's custody mediation because she wants to help save Jill from a custody battle that Dylan would have a good shot at winning, due to his fame and fortune. She's surprised when she finds herself falling for Dylan, and I greatly enjoyed watching their relationship develop. Cassie has a very strong faith, and it's largely due to her influence that Dylan finds his way back to the God of his childhood.

One thing I really appreciated about Going Up South was the focus on the book of James in the Bible. Reading so much about it in this book caused me to want to read it again, and I'm amazed at all the practical wisdom it contains—about taming the tongue, caring for the poor, and many other things. (I shouldn't be surprised; it is God's Word, after all. But I tend to get stuck in a rut of studying my certain favorite books and skipping others—so I'm glad that Ferguson's book prompted me to read James again!)

I loved practically everything about Going Up South! While I do wish that Cassie's ex had factored into it just a bit more so that I could have really understood the pain Cassie and her son went through, which was referenced a few times but not really explained, I can't complain too much. Going Up South is a great novel, featuring a solid plot and a sigh-inducing romance. I can't wait to continue the series with Tackling the Fields! 4-1/2 stars.

Follow the tour stops to see what others are saying:
July 7: A Reader’s Brain
July 7: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
July 8: Bigreadersite
July 8: inklings and notions
July 9: A Greater Yes
July 9: Reviewing Novels Online
July 10: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
July 11: Pause for Tales
July 12: Cindy’s Book Reviews
July 13: Daysong Reflections
July 14: Blogging With Carol
July 15: His Grace is Sufficient
July 16: Karen’s Krayons
July 17: Christian Chick’s Thoughts
July 17: Quiet Quilter
July 18: Cassandra M’s Place
July 18: A Bakers Perspective
July 19: Texas Book-aholic
July 20: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses



Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.


To celebrate her tour, Janet is giving away some fantastic prizes including a $50 Amazon gift card! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9e33
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"like a river from its course" by kelli stuart

Easily one of the best novels I've read this year, Like a River from Its Course gives a perspective of World War II that you probably haven't heard.

An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope 

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer's plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. 

Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption. 

As I sit here at my computer, having just finished reading Like a River from its Course, I'm at a bit of a loss at what to say.

I have all the emotions. Sorrow. Anger. Joy. Relief.

While I've read many, many novels set during World War II, never have I read one from the perspectives of Ukrainians or Nazis. Never have I considered the atrocities taking place in the Soviet Union during the war.

Like a River from Its Course has shifted my perspective on the war.

I knew it was a horrible war. I've been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I've heard stories told by American veterans. I've watched countless Hollywood films set during the war. I've read The Hiding Place. But somehow, this novel has opened my eyes even more to the atrocities of war and helped me realize that things across the world were so much worse than I'd ever imagined.

I think this is due, in large part, to Kelli Stuart's decision to write the story in first person from four different perspectives: three Ukrainians and a German Nazi. Each story felt true, and each character had a unique voice that transported me into his or her world. At the very beginning of the novel, I did struggle to get a grasp on who was who—I think simply because the Russian names were foreign to me. Quickly, however, I became swept into the individual—and sometimes surprisingly intertwining—stories.

At times, the novel is almost overwhelmingly depressing—when Maria is forced into a labor camp, when her father Ivan witnesses and nearly dies in the mass murder of the Jews at Babi Yar, when Luda is gang raped after being abandoned by her father, when Frederick becomes a mass murder himself. Yet there is nearly always hope. Hope for love, hope for family, hope for a better future.

Though he's not present in much of the story, one of the most impactful characters is Sergei, Maria's brother and Ivan's son. Idealistic and eager to fight for his country, Sergei joins the Soviet army as soon as he is old enough. The reader only gets glimpses of Sergei from that point on, through letters to his family, his family's interactions with one of his comrades, and a brief encounter with another character late in the novel. It is during this encounter that the character asks Sergei why he would put his life in danger by helping others escape the Soviet Union. His response jumped out at me: "I wanted to fight to protect my country from the enemy. I was naive when I joined. I didn't realize that the enemy could easily be dressed just like me." That statement is so important, as it illustrates the truth that there were good and evil men on both sides, just as there are in today's wars. In today's American conflicts. We should not automatically assume that the people on "our" side are good, and those on the other side are evil. Life is so much more complex than that!

Though the spiritual content in this book is understandably light throughout most of the novel, near the end, Ivan and his wife begin to seek out answers, and they befriend a priest. As Ivan questions how God could allow the atrocities committed by the Nazis, the priest clearly and concisely presents the gospel using the Nicene Creed. Ivan slowly comes to embrace Christ, and when Maria returns home, she notes what a difference faith has made in her parents' lives.

Though the story is heart wrenching, the novel ends nearly as positively as it possibly could. Not everyone gets a happy ending—that would be unrealistic. Honestly, one of the endings did stretch credulity for me a bit; however, I found I didn't care—I was just happy to see these characters who endured so much end up facing a brighter future.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this compelling novel. Though it is intense (as you would expect from a novel dealing with rape, murder, and other war-time atrocities), it never becomes gratuitously graphic, and it is well worth the read. 5 stars.

Buy the book.

Kelli Stuart is the coauthor of Dare 2B Wise and has written for several brands including Disney, American Girl, and Short Fiction Break. She has served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. In addition to her writing, Kelli has spent twenty years studying Ukrainian culture. Kelli lives in Florida and blogs at KelliStuart.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

"escaping reality" by rachel skatvold


A reality star whose engagement imploded in front of the world seeks anonymity in Montana ... but things don't turn out quite how she expected in Rachel Skatvold's Escapting Reality.

Fame gave her a reason to hide. Can anyone unlock her guarded heart?

Reality star Addison Lewis had the perfect life in LA. Or so she thought. After her fiancé betrays her she’s left with one option. Escape. But is anywhere safe from the relentless paparazzi?

Logan Hart is caught off guard when a mysterious young woman becomes stranded at his family’s ranch. Past heartbreak makes him reluctant to let anyone close, but the city girl’s amusing antics draw them together.

While two lonely hearts collide and secrets loom on the horizon, could God be orchestrating something miraculous behind the scenes?

Escaping Reality is a cute love story between a hiding reality star and a Montana doctor-turned-rancher. I really enjoyed watching the rich, pampered Addison try to adapt to life in Montana, and Hart Ranch is definitely a place I'd like to visit!

Logan's family was very interesting—from his bubbly sister Belle to his deaf nephew Dylan to his paralyzed mother to his granfather. I really enjoyed getting to know the Hart family, and I especially enjoyed Gramps' influence on Addison.

I have to admit being a bit disappointed in the romance, though. I didn't feel the chemistry between Addison and Logan, and I didn't really care if they ended up together. Sometimes, their dialog didn't seem natural, and the big roadblock to their happiness could have been cleared up with a simple conversation. However, I did think the most interesting section of the book came about because they didn't ever have that conversation, so even though I would have preferred the misunderstanding never happened, it did serve a purpose.

Escaping Reality is a book that I wanted to like but ultimately felt let down by, mainly because the romance didn't resonate with me. Still, as a clean book with strong spiritual content, I think it's a book that many readers who are looking for a sweet romance will enjoy. 2-1/2 stars.

Follow the tour stops to see what others are saying:
July 5: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
July 6: Blossoms and Blessings
July 7: The Editor’s Note
July 8: Bukwurmzzz
July 9: Texas Book-aholic
July 9: Cassandra M’s Place
July 10: 100 pages per hour
July 11: Reviewing Novels Online
July 12: Inklings and Notions
July 13: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
July 14: Christian Chick’s Thoughts
July 15: Daysong Reflections
July 16: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
July 17: Carpe Diem
July 18: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Buy the book.

Rachel Skatvold is an inspirational author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance, devotions, encouraging blogs. Rachel has just finished her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas and is now working on her first full length novel, Enduring the Flames. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons.




To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away an autographed copy of her book along with a $10 Amazon gift card. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9e0a.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"when calls the heart: the complete season one" dvd review

Are you a "Heartie"? I don't think I'd quite qualify as one—I'm not obsessed with When Calls the Heart, I haven't seen every episode, and I don't interact with other fans online—but I do enjoy catching it on the Hallmark Channel.

When FishFlix.com, home of family friendly and Christian movies, offered to send me When Calls the Heart DVDs for review, I couldn't pass up the opportunity!

When Calls the Heart tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges.

Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads.

Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a 19th century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

The series is inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West, and reunites Oke with Executive Producer and Director, Michael Landon, Jr.

Includes:
-When Calls The Heart (Hallmark Channel Original Movie)
-Lost And Found (Movie Version of Episodes 1 & 2)
-A Telling Silence (Movie Version of Episodes 3 & 4)
-The Dance (Movie Version of Episodes 5 & 6)
-Second Chances (Movie Version of Episodes 7 & 8)
-Change Of Heart (Movie Version of Episodes 9 & 10)
-Rules Of Engagement (Movie Version of Episodes 11 & 12)
-Getting to know Michael Landon Jr. and Jeanette Oke
-Episodes 1-12 as seen on the Hallmark Channel

First of all, let's clear up some confusion: When Calls the Heart, the novel by Janette Oke, is not the same as When Calls the Heart the Hallmark Channel show. However, When Calls the Heart the movie (which is included in this collection) is loosely based on the novel. And now Oke and her daughter Laurel Oke Logan are writing a new series that is being called a companion to the show: so far, there are three books, which I assume go along with the three seasons. I read the first book, When Courage Calls, and it bears a resemblance to the series, though it's clearly not a novelization of the first season.

Why does this matter? It might not, but if you're reading this blog, it's probably because you're interested in Christian fiction. If you've been reading Christian fiction for a while, chances are good you've read Oke's Canadian West series, and you would naturally assume that a series called When Calls the Heart would follow Elizabeth and Wynn, the couple at the heart of the series. Instead, When Calls the Heart follows Elizabeth's great-niece, also named Elizabeth Thatcher. (Further muddying the waters? In the companion series, Elizabeth is known as Beth, and her love interest Jack is known as Jarrick.)

Now, to the series itself: When Calls the Heart is one of the cleanest, most family-friendly shows geared toward adults currently on television. Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) is immediately endearing as she attempts to adjust from her pampered city life to living in Coal Valley. Her relationship with Mountie Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) builds slowly—too slowly, some may say—and sweetly. Lori Loughlin, who never seems to age a day, shines as Abigail Stanton, the leader of a group of women who recently lost their husbands in a mine explosion. Abigail becomes a mentor and friend to Elizabeth, and their relationship is one of my favorites in the series. This season is wholly enjoyable, and I highly recommend it! 5 stars.

The Complete Season One review: At first glance, this set seems a bit redundant. Unless you're a When Calls the Heart super fan, you probably don't need both the movie version and the Hallmark Channel version of each episode! However, two things make this edition a good choice if you'd like to own the season: 1. This set includes the When Calls the Heart movie, starring Maggie Grace (LOST) and Stephen Amell (Arrow) as Elizabeth Thatcher and Wynn Delaney. In addition to telling the beginning of Elizabeth and Wynn's love story, the film also marks the beginning of the younger Elizabeth's story and introduces Coal Valley; however, the only major cast member from the film who returns for the series is Lori Loughlin. I don't know why so many roles were recast, but I do think it was a good move. (One thing that drives me absolutely crazy about the film is that Elizabeth and Wynn's story is never finished. And they don't factor into the series at all.) 2. It's actually cheaper to purchase the complete season one than it is to purchase each movie (which is two episodes) individually. So if you think you'll want to own the whole season, this is a really good deal.

Buy the DVD set.
Read my review of Where Courage Calls (3 stars), the first When Calls the Heart companion novel.
Get a $5 coupon to FishFlix.com by joining the email list here or by texting 5-GIFT to 44222.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this DVD free for review from FishFlix.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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