Looking for the perfect inspirational fiction gift for a book lover this Christmas? Check out these two ideas!
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
What I Like About Inspirational Fiction
I love inspirational fiction because they keep the bedroom doors closed, characters don’t curse (and if they do, authors don’t use specifics), and protagonists struggle with the same things I struggle with. All inspirational fiction includes some element of faith or the divine, but each author handles it differently. Emma St. Claire, one of my favorite RomCom authors, has a lighter approach. Readers know her characters have faith, and that faith (or a relationship with God), dictates their decisions. Other authors like George McDonald lean more towards evangelizing through literature.
I would share both of these new inspirational fiction releases with non-Christian friends who love historical fiction. The sweet love stories and historical detail make them accessible to everyone. While characters struggle with their faith, it happens naturally as part of the story.
Engaging Deception (The Joplin Chronicles)
By Regina Jennings, Bethany House, December 13, 2022, 320 pages.
During her mother’s long illness, Olive Kentworth stayed at home, content to serve her family and explore her passion for architecture away from society’s censorious eye. Gently bred women should have no interest in math, let alone designing buildings. Only her immediate family knows her secret, and Olive means to keep it that way.
She’s gone to great lengths to ensure her talent stays secret. The town of Joplin boasts two of her designs, but she convinced her cousin Amos to pose as the architect and builder. A perfect solution. She hesitates when her family urges her to take on another project to help her work through her grief. After all, who could improve on a Maxfield Scott design?
When Olive’s cousin ropes her into babysitting a parishioner’s children—another family ploy to help her—Olive finds herself at Mr. Scott’s home. His children adore her (and she them). And Olive will do just about anything to spend time in Mr. Scott’s library—a treasure trove of architectural tomes.
Maxfield Scott can’t believe one of his former clients has hired an unknown builder to add to the custom home Maxfield built for him. Even worse, his current client keeps asking for changes—slowing down the project and frustrating both Maxfield and his client’s wife. Although his life seems firmly in control, Maxfield soon realizes he’s only built an elaborate house of cards. His children need to spend more time with him, his babysitter can’t replace his deceased wife, and his new competitor seems more like a buffoon than a builder.
His only bright moments come when he walks the new babysitter home. Can he hide his growing feelings?
How much longer can Olive hide her talents? And what would men like Maxfield think of an untrained architect as a rival?
What I Loved About This Book
Readers can enjoy Engaging Deception, the third installment in The Joplin Chronicles, as a standalone novel (but the first two books are worth reading). Jennings creates memorable characters and incorporates historical details that history buffs will love.
Most of all, I love how Jennings shows us the value of self-acceptance. Maxfield and Olive don’t stand a chance with each other until they take the time to accept themselves and their God-given talents. In a world full of FOMO, comparison, and social media, it’s a lesson I need to hear over and over.
Fans of Jen Turano and Grace Hitchcock will enjoy Engaging Deception.You'll love this new release from @ReginaJennings if you love #inspy and #historical fiction! @Bethany_House #amreading Click To Tweet
Holding the Line (Love along the Wires)
By Jennifer Delamere, Bethany House Publishers, December 6, 2022, 368 pages.
Mrs. Rose Finlay has worked hard over the past seven years to forget her deceased husband, find work she enjoys, and live a self-sufficient life. But London in the 1880s didn’t make this easy for any woman. As she rises through the ranks at the Piccadilly post office, Rose hopes to become the manager one day. If nothing goes wrong (and so much has gone wrong in her life), she hopes for a more secure future.
And then she overhears a conversation between a young woman and a man she suspects of being more lothario than earnest lover. The young woman piques her interest because she reminds Rose of her younger self. Back when Rose thought she had fallen in love and married a smooth-talking man.
Her desire to save a young woman from a similar scenario launches Rose into an uncomfortable situation full of gossipy, high-society matrons, dithering debutants, jealous widows, and untrustworthy men. She also forages an unlikely friendship with a man who seems honorable and dependable. But can she ever really trust a man again?
John Milburn has spent the past five years growing his deceased brother’s business, acting as guardian to his five nieces and nephews, and helping his sister and sister-in-law navigate their widowhood.
He doesn’t have time in his life for a wife and family of his own. And then, he sees a beautiful woman sitting alone in a tea shop and finds himself powerfully attracted to her. She even likes to read.
When he sees her again at the park, this time seeming to stalk his niece, Sophie, he introduces himself. He discovers she, too, has concerns about the man with Sophie. John and Rose band together to prevent Sophie from making a disastrous breach of etiquette at the start of her come out. The more time he spends with Rose, the more he admires her intelligence, calmness, and integrity.
Why I Loved this Book
I love how Delamere’s characters reflect the burgeoning middle class in England. Some want to climb socially, while others want to live with economic security. Readers will relate to the relationship woes Rose and John have with their extended family. Both must learn how to stand up for themselves and make choices based on their needs rather than on the perceived needs of others.
Spunky Rose and gentlemanly John prove love can happen anytime and when it’s least expected. And a solid base of friendship makes it even sweeter. Readers can enjoy Holding the Line as a standalone novel or read the companion books Line by Line and Crossed Lines.You can't go wrong with an inspirational fiction book from @jendelamere! Check out #HoldingtheLine from @Bethany_House Click To Tweet
i could use some light reading in the days ahead. thanks for these recommendations, Anita.