The Cautious Maiden & #Giveaways

I had planned to post my review for The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall on November 4th, but I decided to post early so y’all would have plenty of time to enter Ms. Crandall’s fun giveaways (links below)! Before I share my thoughts on The Cautious Maiden, let me take a minute and introduce you to the amazing author behind the book!

71xnmguh8yl-_ux250_Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden which released October 4th, 2016.
Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Now for more info on her latest book, The Cautious Maiden!

51rmy4yc8rlViolet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents’ New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks but when Violet’s own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance&, Vance Everstone.
As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU.
With danger stalking her and a new fiancé who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust, and who to leave behind.

My thoughts about the book:  The Cautious Maiden is a wonderful addition to Dawn Crandall’s Everstone Chronicles. You’ll find sweet romance, swoon worthy moments, intrigue, a little danger, redemption, hope, and more!

There’s more to Vance Everstone than meets the eye. While he’s still flawed (as we all are), he’s done some soul searching and changing as we get the pleasure of finding in this book. He continues to grow and change throughout the book. It was rewarding to see Vance finding redemption and finally being set free and changed from the past and looking forward to the future. Violet and Vance face a variety of obstacles in their relationship, sometimes from outside sources and sometimes from themselves and we get to go along for the ride through Ms. Crandall’s unique writing style. I would definitely recommend checking out this fourth book of the Everstone Chronicles. And I’m hoping there’s more coming in this series or at least a spin off of the series as there are some characters who haven’t yet gotten their happy ending. 🙂

Time for some giveaways!

For a chance to win a copy of The Cautious Maiden, check out this giveaway on Goodreads.

Click on the photo below to enter Ms. Crandall’s Rafflecopter giveaway!


**I received this book free of charge from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions in this review are my own.


The Everstone Chronicles and a Giveaway

I have had the privilege of getting to read and review The Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall and I’d like to share my thoughts with you about each of the books in the series today. While the books do connect, each of the books can easily be read as a stand alone.

The Hesitant Heiress is the first book in the series.

51txzn8mvwlAfter being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, disappearing before her very eyes. Now, the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: Marry within the year to inherit the immense fortune of her estranged grandmother. Amaryllis reluctantly moves in to her aunt’s Boston home and rubs shoulders with fashionable society. Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself quickly falling in love with the most unlikely of men–Nathan Everstone, the envy of every eligible female, whose father has haunted her dreams for the decade following her mother’s tragic death. However, Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems…and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

My Thoughts:
This book captured my attention from the very first page. Ms. Crandall did a wonderful job of immediately engaging me and even my emotions on behalf of the heroine, Amaryllis. She weaves an interesting, intriguing story that had me unwilling to put the book down until I found out some answers and saw some resolution.

I do have to admit I was a little confused toward the beginning, trying to figure out what was going on and what the truth was about the past, and I wanted things to unfold a little faster than they did.

While my attention was quickly captured by the situation the Amaryllis finds herself in at the beginning of the book, it wasn’t long before I began to get a little frustrated with her. As the book progressed, I realized that things were probably not as they appeared to her, but she was very stubborn in refusing to see events and people any differently than she had. Amaryllis was so insistent that every man is inconsistent and I think she viewed God that way as well. She thought she trusted Him, but she didn’t really.

While she had a tendency to be extremely honest with others about what she saw in them and their situations, she was not so with herself. She was blinded to the truth for so much of the book and that became more than a little frustrating after a while, especially when she had opportunity to find out more about the past, but would not, as if she were in denial, refusing to see the past in any way other than how she currently viewed it.

Even though Amaryllis’ stubborn refusal to see the truth became exasperating, Nathan’s sweetness and his obvious care for her made up a little for that exasperation. I loved Nathan and his character and I was a little disappointed that it took Amaryllis so long to let go of grudges from the past that were not even based on full truth so that she could finally see him for the godly, sweet man that he was. She wasted a lot of time running from her past and her problems instead of facing them. And while that was incredibly irritating, I can see how we often do the same thing in our own lives. Hopefully, we won’t be quite as long in coming to see the truth as it took Amaryllis. The more I read, the more thankful I became for Nathan and his willingness to love her in spite of how she treated him. Through that willingness and consistency, he eventually won her over. The resolution and ending finally came and helped make up for all the rough bumps in getting there.


The second book is The Bound Heart.



One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn–Meredyth can’t deny that what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves, and accept that God’s plan for her life includes redemption…and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book and getting to know better some of the characters I was introduced to in the first book. Watching Meredyth’s story, her past, and her thought process about what she must deserve because of it unfold was a little heartbreaking and more than a little realistic. How often do we view ourselves as she did, knowing we must deserve one thing for our actions when God just wants to offer us His precious grace and redemption? I loved getting to see God break through to Meredyth, showing her the healing and hope He has in store for her. So often, we try, as Meredyth did, to do things to earn right standing with God, to somehow right our wrongs when really the only way to do so is to admit them and let God heal them, let Him cover our sins with the pure blood of His perfect Son.

Lawry was a wonderful character and one of my favorite things about this book was seeing Meredyth’s eyes slowly open to him, his love for her, and her own love for him. His steadfast love for Meredyth was precious and swoon worthy.

Ms.Crandall did an excellent job of engaging me as the reader in Merdyth’s journey in discovering God’s forgiveness, truly being able to accept it, and finally being able to forgive herself so that she could be set free for the life God has for her. I love how Ms. Crandall tells her stories in first person. She so very accurately captures the way we, especially as women, often view ourselves and the people around us. She shows how our doubts, hurts, and insecurities can affect our thought processes and the way we view others all while still managing to convey to the reader things about other characters that the heroine may not see so accurately.


Next we have The Captive Imposter.

51wau6tcxslFor her own protection following the murder of her brother Will, hotel heiress Estella Everstone assumes the alias of Elle Stoneburner and takes a job as companion to an elderly widow. Never did she imagine that her position would lead her back to her beloved Everston, a picturesque resort property tucked away in the rugged mountains of Maine. Living below her station in a guise of anonymity has its struggles, but her spirits are buoyed by a newfound friendship with the hotel manager, Dexter Blakeley. And his distaste for the spoiled socialites who frequent his hotel causes her to take a close look at her own priorities and past lifestyle. When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer of employment she can’t refuse. As the two interact and open up to each other, Estella feels a growing attraction to Dexter; and increasing discomfort over concealing her identity. Yet, in spite of the false pretense she’s putting forth, she’s never felt freer to be herself than in his presence. But will he still love her when he learns the truth about who she is?

My Thoughts:
In this, the third book of the The Everstone Chronicles, we find yet more mystery as we encounter Dexter Blakely and his family. Discovering more about the Blakely family and their connections with the Everstone family is an intriguing part of this novel. Each of the books in Ms. Crandall’s series has allowed us a view into the lives of the Everstones, their history, their flaws, and their good sides. Getting to know more about them in each book is a great draw of the series.

Estella has spent a long time pining after someone, who, in my opinion, quite frankly doesn’t deserve her and hasn’t treated her well. Just like Estella, many of us have, at some point in our lives, tried to force something to be that was not meant to be—maybe a relationship or a job among other things. Finally, here in this novel, we get to see Estella truly let go of something not meant to be, something that God knows is not best for her and then watch as He orchestrates His beautiful best for her.

I believe that Estella and Dexter’s developing relationship is one of my favorites of the series. Again, we find a steadfast character in the hero who makes you fall in love with him right along with the heroine. In spite of the false name and position Estella has to use for protection, she’s actually able to more freely be herself than she would as Estella Everstone, enabling Dexter to get to know the real her without personal prejudice potentially getting in the way. Their sweet friendship that grows into love will melt your heart as you join them on their journey.


The Cautious Maiden, the fourth book in The Everstone Chronicles, just released at the beginning of October and is well worth the read! I will be sharing my thoughts on The Cautious Maiden as a part of Dawn Crandall’s blog tour on Friday, November 4! I hope you’ll come back and join us then for my full review of it as well as a giveaway.



**I received the books in this series free of charge from the publisher. All opinions in these reviews are my own.

If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, but you’d like to start, click  below for the chance to win a Kindle version the first book in the series, The Hesitant Heiress.


Where Was God When I Was Hurt?

Why do bad things happen? That’s a question that many of us desperately want an answer to, but we often don’t like the possible reasons that bad things happen so we don’t allow ourselves to think that there could actually be a reason. We’d rather believe there isn’t one. But the reality is, there are reasons.

One reason is that we live in a fallen world, one where sin entered through the first man and woman and has continued to run rampant. Not all things that happen to us are a direct result of our own sin. Yes, at times, the things we face are consequences of our own sin, but not everything hurtful thing we face is because of that. Sometimes it’s a result of someone else’s sin that, in one way or another, happens to affect us; and sometimes, it’s a result of the fact that sin entering the world changed the world, changed the dynamic of the way things work now. The world no longer functions in the perfect form God created it in. Evil has been allowed in, and through that evil, disease, destruction, and decay have followed. It’s something we have to deal with in this world we live in. It’s a consequence of allowing sin into this once perfect and whole world. But we don’t like to think that way, to admit that sin is the reason for our fallen and changed world. But the Bible is clear on that and we can’t ignore it and pretend it’s not true just because we don’t like it.

Not only do we not want to face the idea that we live in a broken world and that because of the sin that caused it, we now experience pain and heartache, we also don’t want to believe that God could allow the bad things in this world to happen. But the reality is, He has and He does. I can’t help but think of Job. If you read the first chapter of Job, you will quickly find that God did indeed allow bad things to happen to Job. In fact, God Himself is the one who brought Job and his upright standing with Him up to Satan. Did you get that? GOD asked Satan if he had noticed His upright servant Job! AND THEN, He put everything Job had (all the blessings and good things God had given him) in the hands and power of Satan, essentially giving Satan the power to do with it whatever he wanted (which happened to be taking it away). I also think of Simon Peter. In Luke 22, Jesus tells Simon Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat—and God allowed it.

It’s not easy for us to accept this idea—that God would allow sifting, that He would allow bad things to happen, that He has given His permission for them to happen. It doesn’t sit well with us, but it’s truth. It is a reality. And there is actually a hope that comes with it.

After Jesus tells Simon Peter about Satan’s desire to sift him as wheat, Jesus goes on to say, “But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” ~Luke 22:32, AMPC

You see, while God may allow these bad things to happen in our lives, He does not allow them to be without purpose. We have that promise from God—And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28, NASB

God can and does take those horrific events and situations in our lives and He redeems them by bringing purpose to them, by not letting them be for nothing. God does not waste a hurt. Instead, He uses it to our benefit.

Yes, I’ve been through some events and situations that I did not want to go through—things that were painful, situations I did not enjoy in any way, shape, or form. But I also know that I would not be the person I am today nor would I have the faith that I do today if I had not gone through those tough things, through those trials that God ultimately redeemed by using them to change me. There have definitely been times when I felt torn apart, times when I felt like the enemy just might get his way in destroying me and I didn’t see how good purpose of any kind could come from what I was going through. But God!—God had other plans for what the enemy meant for evil. He refashioned and repurposed those times, using them to draw me to Him, to help acquaint me more intimately with Him and His love and His power. He brought me out on the other side stronger and with more faith and more trust in Him. And with each event that happens, He only draws me closer and gains more of my trust. I am who I am today because of God’s work in my life, because of Him taking what the enemy meant for evil and giving it a purpose and using it to shape me and change me. And I am so thankful that He’s done that—that I am not the same person that I was, that I’ve grown and changed and am being made new.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulation, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. ~Romans 5:3-4, NASB

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4, NASB

(You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith my be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. ~1 Peter 1:6-7, AMPC

What an incredible God!—to know that He can take those painful things, those things that seem to us to happen without reason and repurpose them. Things the enemy meant for evil, God repurposes to use for our benefit to mold us and shape us to be more like Him, to let the Holy Spirit grow in our lives and have more control over us, to let us learn from those things. What the enemy intended to destroy us, to bring us down, God can actually use to strengthen us, to draw us closer to Him, to show us who He is, to bring glory to Himself, to exhibit the power of His redemption.

God has the power to redesign, to reshape, and to make the pain, the hurt, the bad, and the ugly in our lives worthwhile. He is sovereign. Nothing happens outside of His knowledge—He sometimes allows Satan to poke and prod us to bring us to a place where we can be refined. And He already knows how He’s planning to use the next storm you face to bring you closer to Him; to change, shape, and mold you into being more like Him; to give you a glimpse of who He is and who He wants to be to you. Can’t you just picture our mighty God looking at Satan and saying, “Do your best, but what you intend for evil I have the power to turn around for good, to make it work for My purpose, My will, and My glory.” How frustrating that’s got to be for the enemy! And what a blessing it is for us!

Not only do we have this promise of God using even evil for ultimate good, but we can also know that the Holy Spirit Himself is interceding on our behalf just as Jesus told Simon Peter that He had done for him. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~Romans 8:26-27, NASB

God does not promise us a life without conflict or pain or hurt. Those things will happen because we live in a sinful, fallen world. We may hurt someone else or someone else may cause us pain, but those things can be redeemed with purpose. Those afflictions we face, the trials, the struggles, the pain, the temptations can all be turned around for our benefit and for His ultimate glory.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. Fo the creation (nature) was subjected to the frailty (the futility, condemned to frustration), not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it—[yet] with hope. That nature (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption [and gain an entrance] into the glorious freedom of God’s children. ~Romans 8:18-21, AMPC