Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review: Fire and Ice

Ok, after cautiously starting my first Mary Connealy novel two summers ago (which, coincidentally, was my first time reading a book for the purpose of writing a review), and now eagerly finishing my third Mary Connealy novel last night, I've officially decided I really like her as an author. This time I read the third of her Wild at Heart series. Earlier this year I had read, loved, and reviewed the second in the series (Now & Forever), but I think I might like Fire & Ice better!
I can't stand the cover art.
Unlike the previous one, the romance in Fire & Ice didn't culminate in the middle--there was still relationship conflict through the whole thing. Who knew relationship conflict could be a good thing, right? Well, it is when you're building a relationship worth reading. Similar to her other two books, the action...! This is what sets Mary Connealy apart from other romance writers I've read. She pours on the action. Not simply interpersonal drama, but ACTION. Though, all three books I've read of hers have been set in the Wild West, so . . . yeah, makes sense. I love this combination of out-of-the-home conflict and growing love (because, like the second Wild at Heart book, this third one in the series also has a marriage of convenience...which I still find romantic).

As for a quick summary, the story is about the third of the Wilde sisters, all of whom have masqueraded as boys since their pa forced them to join the Civil War. Bailey Wilde is the last one--her sisters have shed masculine wear, grown out their hair, and married good men--but Bailey is determined to cling to her disguise and her small but thriving ranch in the opening of a canyon owned by the hard-nosed Gage Coulter.

(And, since this is a romance, you can now make your own guesses about who the players in the marriage of convenience are.)

It is also about Gage Coulter, who finds himself on the receiving end of life-threatening traps and must figure out who would want to kill him. Could it be Bailey? Could it be someone else? And can he help Bailey trust God and embrace her femininity after the horrors of war?

If you like an action-filled romance (and it does have romance, fyi), give Mary Connealy a try!

I received a complimentary copy of Fire & Ice from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

160: the closing of a chapter, the re-opening of an old one

I'm 30 now.

I'm teaching two grades again. The first month of school I only taught 3rd until I got two new students, both 2nd graders, several weeks in. Last week I lost my favorite student to another school (not that teachers are allowed to have favorite students, but as we spent all of last year as the only girls in the class, we have a special bond). Her first day gone I  felt like my heart was bruised because of her absence. Now I have a total of 4 wonderful students, but we still miss our other girl.

my new co-worker brought me this to comfort
me the day after my break up--hasn't God blessed
me with good friends? :)
Two weeks ago my boyfriend of 6 months and I broke up, mutually agreeing it wasn't going to work out to be more than friends and hoping to go back to being just friends. Afterwards, we kept in touch via text, and it surprised me what a blessing it was to know he was doing okay. I didn't realize how much the pain of a breakup is intensified by my worry about how much I hurt the other person. But because I haven't had to deal with that (much), I've been more sad over not having a place for my heart to settle. I was so sure this was it, despite our differences, and both of us worked so hard to make it work (I think we'll both be able to use that practice in our potential future marriages). I didn't want to have to start all over again with a new person. There are still other hard things--like passing restaurants where we've eaten, or going home instead of running up north to visit, or not having anyone who will care what I choose to wear today.

Then this weekend I flew out to Oregon for a west coast Homeschool Alumni reunion. It was the first time I saw him since our breakup.

It was a miracle. We had all the camaraderie of knowing each other well without any of the awkwardness of wondering if we liked each other or any of the pressure of trying to make this work in a long-term romantic relationship. We both were (just) friends! Which was good, since we drove all the way back from Oregon together in his rented red bug!

driving along 101 in this sporty car!
So now that chapter is definitely closed.

The last six months I've heard the same message over and over, presumably from the Lord. Walk by faith. Hope against hope. Believe He is the God of the impossible and rewards those who seek Him.

After the break-up, I wondered what I was supposed to do with all that now that I had seemingly closed the door on God doing the impossible in our relationship.

Then I started to realize that all those things God seemed to be telling me are still true. My faith and hope and trust are in a Person, not in an outcome. Or, as I see it in my imagination, He is the stable straight line and underneath my life looks like an up and down wiggly line.

So I still believe He is the God of the impossible. I recognize the smoothness of this break up is a miracle! And it's also a miracle that I wasn't an emotional wreck from the lack of sleep I had this weekend! (I stayed up til 4:30 Sunday night/morning playing games and chatting. It was a blast!). These are His blessings, His miraculous, against reason, blessings.

I'm 30 and single again, but I have good friends, a fulfilling job, and hope in a God who can do great things, whether that means marriage or not.

His fortune on top, mine on the bottom--oh the irony! May it be so!