On Barb’s Bookshelf: A Works-of-Mercy Romance

You know a guy’s a keeper when you can call him in an emergency and in under an hour he’s at your door with two car seats, ready to take you and your two very young nephews to the hospital because you’re babysitting and you’ve just received word that the babies’ parents were in a fatal car accident.

Talk about works of mercy. Would you keep a guy in the friend zone after that?

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In Amanda Hamm’s newly-released novel, They See a Family,  Kay reaches out to her friend William for help when an accident kills Kay’s sister and brother-in-law, leaving their baby and toddler in her care. Kay and William had been friends for a couple of years, and both harbor unspoken crushes. As they navigate the pitfalls of caring for two young children and dealing with Kay’s grief, each tries to figure out how to reveal the feelings of growing love to the other — even as they cook up a plan to become a family out of necessity.

Some of the best characters in the book are the supporting cast. William’s sister Annie is a wonderfully pro-life young mother whose easy confidence belies the fact that she needs a friend just as much as Kay needs a friend, sister, and parenting mentor. And Father David is sensitive and insightful, but I can’t say more about him without a spoiler alert! Kay’s nephews and Annie’s young daughters have real personalities too, and remind me of the equally-well-drawn small children in Carolyn Astfalk‘s novels.

I highly recommend this clean romance; I’d give it to older teens as well as friends my age and anyone in between. Amanda Hamm tells a wonderful story that emphasizes works of mercy in many ways, and distinguishes between infatuation and real love. They See a Family is the first book I’ve read by Amanda Hamm, but it won’t be my last.
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Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.


On Barb’s Bookshelf: Cinder Allia

Karen Ullo’s brand new novel, Cinder Allia, is the perfect read for a rainy summer day. A Cinderella story like you’ve never heard it before, Cinder Allia fills in a grim backstory to the famous Grimm fairy tale. More Joan of Arc than typical fairy-tale heroine, Allia is a take-charge girl who knows that she’s the only one who can change her circumstances.

This novel answers the burning question every reader has about the fairy tale: why would Cinderella’s father allow her stepmother to treat her so badly? Ullo reveals Allia’s stepmother’s motives in keeping her in servitude and serves up a surprising twist in the form of a not-so-perfect Prince Charming.

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Who knew that a reader could manage to feel sympathy for the Evil Stepmother? It turns out that she’s trapped between a rock and a hard place too–though she’s still clearly a villain in this tale. And don’t go looking for fairy godmothers, pumpkin coaches or sweet little birds that put together ball gowns. Cinder Allia has none of those.

What it does have is a strong heroine with a keen survival instinct, struggling to overcome circumstances beyond her control in a world rife with treason and treachery. Move over, Katniss Everdeen: there’s a new leading lady in town.

Allia tightened her grip on the sword. Her scabbed palms burned with the wounds of hate while her heart drummed against the cross-shaped scar of love. No matter which she chose, it would leave her bleeding.

I highly recommend this book for teen and adult readers.

About the author: Karen Ullo is the author of the novels Jennifer the Damned (Wiseblood Books 2015) and Cinder Allia. She is managing editor of the Dappled Things journal and also writes recipes for Catholicmom.com. She holds an MFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. She is also a classically trained soprano who works as the music director at a church in Baton Rouge, LA, where she lives with her husband and two young sons. Visit her website: www.karenullo.com, Facebook page: www.facebook.com/karenulloauthor and blog: https://karenullo.wordpress.com/

(ARC received from author, who is a fellow member of the Catholic Writers Guild)

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.