Uncommon Courtship Review

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Lori Wick’s books introduced me to Christian Fiction. I devoured them almost as soon as I got my hands on them. The novel I just had the privilege of reviewing An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter reminded me a lot of Wick’s storylines, but with a unique approach.  And yes, there was a lot of face-in-book time until the very last page. 🙂

Here’s a little about the story.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier he is not the duke in the family. Free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, he has grand plans of someday wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he barely knows, his dream of a loving marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier when she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. But even with her socially ambitious mother’s focus entirely on her, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience before she’s been introduced to society.

With nothing going as expected, can Trent and Adelaide’s marriage of obligation survive their own missteps and the pressures of London society to grow into a true meeting of hearts and minds?

Okay, so the whole “convenient marriage” plot is definitely not new, but the author had twists and swoon-worthy moments that encouraged each flip of the page.

Adelaide’s character immediately drew me in. She wasn’t the glamour girl of the regency era, but an overlooked, clumsy young girl who had a tender heart and disheveled appearance. I adored her. But what hooked me the most was the love story. Both Trent and Adelaide found themselves stuck in a situation that forced them into marriage. Though nothing indecent occurred, the speculation was reputation damaging. So now, they landed themselves married to each other as complete strangers. It was beautiful watching their relationship grow and love blossom. The tender things Trent invented to capture his bride’s heart poked at mine. Endearingly sweet, especially for a man who’d been known for his tough pugilist skills.

But what impacted my heart the most was spiritual theme of the story. Love is a choice. It goes beyond feelings and sentiments. It climbs higher than mere words. It’s a decision. Like how God chose to love us even while we were sinners.

So yes, two thumbs, five stars, and all that jazz! It’s worth your time and will leave your heart refreshed with a happy sigh.

Interested in what you’ve read? Here’s the link to purchase a copy. And here’s a bit of information about the author so you can check her other stories from this series.

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at http://www.kristiannhunter.com

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The McDaniel Gals & The Gift of Grace

 

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Okay, here goes. I tried really really hard to come up with a clever intro to this post. I scoured the internet jungle for some sort of fancy quote. I even tried to create a fiction-type beginning. Didn’t work. Then I realized sometimes you just got to be real and raw. So here it is.

Last Wednesday was awful.

Thank God it didn’t stop there. We journeyed through the ugly, tangled frustrations, and at the end of it…grace shone. Here’s what happened.

First off, I woke up with a headache. Never a good start to a day, but manageable, right? During breakfast my little miss seemed a bit edgy, but again nothing to pull our hair out over. But then came…school time.

(For those unaware I homeschool my daughter. She was diagnosed with autism when she was three, but she has been like a breathing miracle for all the obstacles she’d conquered through God’s grace.)

Here’s what went down. I spread out coins for her to count. We’ve done this more than a billion times. She knows how to count change. In fact, in first grade she was better than her big brother with counting money. But Wednesday, she struggled.

What was so simple to her before, at that moment was insurmountable. It was not that she didn’t want to do it, she couldn’t do it. Like some dark cloud muddled her ability to think. She couldn’t even identify which coin was which. Tears filled her eyes, because she knew that she knew this. She was fully aware that she had mastered this skill, and now she just…couldn’t. A meltdown then commenced.

Sure, we’ve had plenty of days like this before, but this time it hit me differently. Maybe it was the sadness filling her eyes as tears spilled down her cheeks. Or the sag in her tiny shoulders.

My heart broke.

Then the devil came and sat on my shoulder. See, you can’t teach her. This is too big of a task. You aren’t helping her at all. Never mind, I taught her to read. Forget the fact, that even though it’d been a long process she could add, subtract, and multiply, and much more. Right then failure flooded my mental processes, pushing condemnation to the forefront of the situation.

So with the circumstances, I did what anyone would. I shuffled the child into the car and we stuffed our mouths with McDonald’s. I didn’t force any more school. I prayed. I encouraged my daughter, enforcing that one bad day does not define her intelligence. Anytime the nagging voice called me out, saying I was a failure, I prayed some more.

Here’s the beauty of it. The next day, I spread the coins out on the table, and she got it all without even a hiccup. I made a more difficult combination, and she got that one too. Simple and spoken with clarity. And friends, all I did was pray. I didn’t turn on educational videos (though I have some that are great!) I didn’t break out the flashcards. I prayed.

Through this whole journey with my daughter, I have learned a lot about her, a lot about me, and a whole lot about God. We’ve trekked through some rough spots with this whole home-educating pursuit, but He’d been faithful every step of the way. Giving me ideas to help her understand. Supplying me with patience when I felt depleted. And showing me that He hears me when I pray.

 

My Word For 2017

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Confession. I’m terrible with resolutions. I can’t think of one I’d actually kept. And while I welcome the notion that January 1st is the perfect time to begin afresh, I don’t believe the clock striking midnight empowered me with life-tackling skills anymore than I believe the confetti dropped in Times Square was fairy dust. Dates on a calendar won’t give me strength to conquer things I couldn’t overcome the past 365 days. Only God does that. But yes, the start of the year has prompted to reflect and pray.

And while I don’t believe in resolutions, I do embrace the one-word focus. If you’re an avid blog reader/jumper, you’ll find many such posts about their one word for 2017. Several actually came to me. Hope. Kept. Faith. But one stirred my soul.

Brave.

Okay, growing up, I was a coward. No joke. There were times I was scared of my own grandma. Moments when I felt I was born without a backbone. I cringe at all the missed opportunities I had to share my faith but didn’t because I was too afraid. I spent a good portion of life just taking whatever came to me with no fight or resistance. It wasn’t until after my miscarriage that I actually started evaluating my life and my scarcity of courage. It was one of the first hardships I’ve (and my husband) ever encountered. I was hurt, scared, and felt so very small. But then I heard a song. God often ministers to me that way. It was Brave by Nichole Nordeman. Wanna hear it click  here .

The words to that song was the cry of my heart. And when fear tried to wrap its claws around me, I would play the song. And since then I’ve faced trials that my only way out was to trust His strength to uphold me.

Folks, I’ve seen the limitations of my courage. I’ve known the boundaries of my meager strength. Again and again. But, I was never called to be strong in my own strength. But in His. (Be strong in the LORD and in the power of HIS might) His. Not mine.

The Psalmist continually referred to God as his confidence. Able to face the surrounding enemies because the Lord was His security, sure foundation. I believe I’m able to not only survive this year, but to thrive, because God empowers me to. I want to see myself as He sees me. He sees me throwing mountains when I can barely lift a pebble. Not as the timid weak girl but as the child of God filled with His Spirit.

And I noticed that my word encompasses the others that floated in my heart. Through God’s strength, I can be brave to hope for the impossible. Be brave to trust that in His hands I’m kept. Brave to keep faith even when I don’t see the result of my prayer. He makes me brave.