No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

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Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight–and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
Published June 7, 2016 by Bethany House
Format: Netgalley e-book; 384 pages
Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction
Also By This Author: Short-Straw BrideTo Win Her Heart
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

Once again, Karen Witemeyer has created wholesome and endearing characters that inspire readers. Emma Chandler is an 19th century female banker with a heart for broken women who need a second chance at life. When someone starts threatening the lives of the women in her care, Emma turns to one of her oldest friends, Malachi Shaw, a timid dynamite expert with a protective streak, to help protect her women’s colony.

One of my favorite parts about No Other Will Do is Malachi’s career in 19th century explosives. I know in the grand scheme of the novel, this character description is only slightly relevant to the plot line, but I still thought it was remarkably interesting. I also appreciated how Malachi’s career choice contrasted with his quieter and hesitantly expressive personality.

Emma, on the other hand, is inspiring in her own sense. She’s brave, strong-minded, and incredibly compassionate. When the odds are stacked against her, she still manages to overcome every challenge, even when she’s struggling with her own doubts and failures.

Although I’d categorize No Other Will Do as an inspirational novel, it also features some darker scenes and depictions. Harper’s Station is a refuge for battered and abused women, but Karen Witemeyer is able to blend the harsher depictions of domestic abuse with compassionate characters who impart healing and hope.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy historical fiction set in the American west.
…you’re looking for an uplifting novel to start the year off with.
…you appreciate themes of feminism and redemption.
…you’re interested in well-researched 19th century life (including insight into the life of a dynamite expert).

Final Musings

I can’t believe that Karen Witemeyer has been one of my favorite authors for four years now and I haven’t written a single review for her on my blog yet! I know I’ve recommended and gushed about her books plenty of times, but I’m happy I finally got around to putting together a formal review. If you think you’d be interested in Karen Witemeyer’s other novels, I’d strongly recommend Short-Straw Bride and To Win Her Heart.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

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It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish :) This week’s topic is about authors we’ve read the most books from. I have quite a varied list: some classic authors, a few YA authors, and even a children’s book author.

Top Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

Ann Brashares – I’ve read 5 of her books: the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series plus Sisterhood Everlasting.

Jane Austen – I’ve read all 6 of Austen’s completed novels: Sense and SensibilityPride and PrejudiceEmmaMansfield ParkNorthanger Abbey, and Persuasion.

Lee/Elle Strauss – I’ve read 6 of her books: ClockwisePerception, Sun & Moon, Flesh & BoneHeart & Soul, and East of the Sun.

J. K. Rowling – I’ve read (and re-read) all 7 books in the Harry Potter series.

Karen Witemeyer – I’ve read 7 of her novels: Short-Straw BrideA Tailor-Made BrideTo Win Her HeartHead in the CloudsStealing the Preacher, Full Steam Ahead, and A Cowboy Unmatched (which is really a novella).

L. M. Montgomery – I’ve read all 8 Anne of Green Gables books. I still want to read her other books as well!

Laura Ingalls Wilder – I’ve read her 9 Little House on the Prairie books.

Nicholas Sparks – Every now and then I go through a Nicholas Sparks phase ;) I’ve read 9 of his novels: Dear JohnThe Lucky OneSafe HavenThe RescueThe GuardianA Bend in the RoadThe Best of MeThe Choice, and The Longest Ride.

William Shakespeare – I’ve read 14 of his plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice, and Richard II (plus dozens of his sonnets).

Dr. Seuss – loved Dr. Seuss growing up (and I still do), and even though I couldn’t give you the exact number of books by him that I’ve read, I know it’s more than 14 :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Fellow Bookworms

toptentuesdayI didn’t get to do last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, so I’m doing it today in lieu of this week’s topic (favorite fairy-tales & fairy-tale retellings). This topic is all about book nerd characters.

As always, this meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Fellow Bookworms

Lizzie Bennet Jo March

Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jo March – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Hermione Anne Shirley

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Anne Shirley – Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery

Molly Gibson Catherine Morland

Molly Gibson – Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Catherine Morland – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

senseandsensibility meanttobe mara dyer To Win Her Heart

Marianne Dashwood – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Julia Lichtenstein Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Mara Dyer – Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin
Eden Spencer & Levi Grant To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Who are some of your favorite bookworm characters? 

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books!

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Whew! I took an unexpected week off from blogging and I think it did me a lot of good. I’m going through some personal things at the moment, some of which I’m hoping to post about tomorrow on my late February wrap-up.

But for now, let me ease back into blogging with my favorite meme, Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)! This week’s topic is about our favorite books. For a long time now I’ve had a very stable Top 5, so for today I had to decide on my top 6-10, which was hard! I almost cheated…

Top Ten Favorite Books

AoGG Pride and Prejudice janeeyre Persuasion Harry Potter

attachments IMG_2049 tokillamockingbird littlewomen Hamlet

Anne of Green Gables is my all-time favorite book, but Anne of the Island should be on this list, too! I only left it out to make room for some others. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Persuasion are so close I could easily switch them around. Yes, my favorite Harry Potter book is the last! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me feel all the feels, and I thought it was the perfect ending to a favorite series. The rest of the books on this list probably don’t belong in that order, but I haven’t given it much thought before now. Those would be my next favorites, though. Attachments is my favorite book from this decade, so far. Short Straw Bride is my favorite historical novel. What else can I say to justify To Kill a Mockingbird‘s place in my heart and on this list? Little Women is another book that makes me feel so deeply! And Hamlet has always been, and most likely always will be, my favorite Shakespearean play (and favorite play in general, for that matter), no matter how cliché it sounds :)

There you have it: my ten favorite books! Do you like any of my favorites? And what are your most beloved reads??

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reads

toptentuesdayEven though winter is still a good month away, I’m glad this is the topic for TTT this week! It gives me a chance to get excited for winter vacation and catching up on my reading!! I feel like since I started working full-time, it now takes me a week or more to read 1 book when it used to take 2-3 days. But no complaining! I’m so thrilled and thankful to be employed again, I just wish I could read all night instead of having to sleep ;)

So, here you go!

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List:

FullSteamAhead MatchMadeInTexas MontanaChristmas LifeIntended Legend

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer – For some reason I LOVE reading western historical romances during Christmastime. I think it’s the weirdest thing since most of them take place during the summer, but then again I think they’re the perfect reads since they instill that warm, family-time mood. Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors, and I actually just checked out Full Steam Ahead from the library yesterday! I may read it BEFORE winter starts ;)
A Match Made in Texas – To continue on with the western historical romances theme, this book is a compilation of novellas by four different authors: Karen Witemeyer (Full Steam Ahead, The Short Straw Bride, To Win Her Heart), Mary Connealy (Kincaid Brides series, Lassoed in Texas series), Regina Jennings (Ladies of Caldwell County series, A Most Inconvenient Marriage–which I’m reading during Thanksgiving break!), and Carol Cox (Truth Be Told, Trouble in Store). I’m particularly excited about reading Witemeyer’s novella since it is a spin-off of The Short Straw Bride, my favorite book of hers.
A Sweet Montana Christmas by Roxanne Snopek – I don’t know much about this book or the author, but I saw it on Netgalley as a Read Now and decided I needed to read it during Christmas :) Like I said, I’m a sucker for western romances this time of year.
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel – The Goodreads synopsis compares this book to P.S. I Love You only a bit darker. I requested this book to review and I’m excited to actually open it up!
Legend by Marie Lu – I just checked this out from the library yesterday as well! I’ve heard so many good things about it and picked it up on a whim.

LizzieBennet CantAlwaysGetWhatYouWant SoulPrint DressShopofDreams HusbandsSecret

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick – I was a HUGE fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (and it’s what got me into watching YouTube series). This diary came out earlier this year but I never saw it anywhere because I was in France. But yesterday at the library I saw it on the “New Fiction” shelf and grabbed it up in a heartbeat. Can’t wait to dive back into the sarcastic and theatrical mind of Lizzie Bennet!
Can’t Always Get What You Want by Chelsey Krause – I know, this book cover does not fit the typical winter read, but it’s on my shelf for review and I think I’m going to enjoy it. It’s all about letting go of your past and healing broken hearts.
Soulprint by Megan Miranda – The book summary describes Soulprint as part Minority Report and part Looper, both of which are movies I really enjoyed. So that means I should love this one! Plus, the cover is pretty :)
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praac –
This book sounds like a warm and fuzzy read, and those are the types of books I love reading in the winter! Maybe it’s to help overcome the cold ;)
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty –
Ok, my Secret Santa sent me this book last December, but I never got around to reading it :( But now that Liane Moriarty’s other novel has been out for a while and it also looks like an interesting read, I actually want to read The Husband Secret and find out if this is the type of author I’m going to enjoy.

What books are on your winter TBR list? Is there a specific genre you find yourself turning to whenever it’s cold outside?

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Inspire Me

toptentuesdayToday’s Top Ten Tuesday meme (hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and The Bookish) is pretty open! Basically, we pick ten characters who do something. So I thought all day about a characteristic that I’d really like to examine a bit more closely, and finally at 11pm my time, it came to me!

Top Ten Characters Who Inspire Me

  1. Emma Woodhouse (from Pemberley Digital’s Emma Approved– A far more likeable modern version of my least favorite Jane Austen heroine, this Emma is all about the self-empowerment! She’s constantly encouraging (and sometimes forcing) every woman she meets to be the best they can be, without being someone they’re not. The most inspiring thing about Emma is that she’s always persistent when it comes to achieving a goal; nothing is impossible with hard work and the right attitude.
  2. Anne Shirley (from the Anne of Green Gables series) – Of course I would have to include my favorite fictional character in this list. I adore Anne’s creativity, open-mindedness, and her wild imagination. One of my favorite things she did was create a short-story club with her friends, where they would get together to share and critique their stories with each other. Plus she headed up I don’t know how many clubs and improvement projects. Definitely an over-achiever and take-charge kind of woman!
  3. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë’s beloved heroine) – Although I in no way envy Jane Eyre’s life, I do admire and respect many of her wonderful qualities. The ones that inspire me the most are her unfailing talent to forgive those who hurt her the most, her unfaltering senses of morality and self-respect, and her revolutionary ability of knowing what she deserved out of life. For a mid-19th century lower class orphan, Jane Eyre never believed she didn’t deserve happiness, but she certainly wouldn’t sacrifice her self-respect to obtain it. She’s also extremely good-hearted and patient.
  4. Beatrice “Tris” Prior (from the Divergent series) – I’m late in joining the Divergent fan club, but I am happy to admit that I finally read the novels (just so I could see the movie–I’m one of those “I always read the book” first type of gals)! Although this isn’t my favorite series, as I felt there were many things missing from the novels, I did love all the strong female characters! I definitely respect this trend going on at the moment. I related a lot to Tris: I know without a doubt that I would be a Divergent just like her, and I also would choose the Dauntless faction. My current mantra is “be brave,” and I owe it all to Tris’s bravery for giving me the courage to conquer some of the difficult tasks I’ve had to face lately.
  5. Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) – Where to begin?! Atticus Finch is essentially the perfect parent. He’s intelligent, wise, patient, honorable, good, virtuous, AND he has a sense of humor. He leads by example and encourages his children to love and respect people, not the way the world would tell them to, but they way they deserve to be loved and respected. He doesn’t hide the ugliness of the world from his children, but he gradually opens their eyes to it in doses they can handle and come to terms with. Atticus Finch inspires me not only to be an inspiring parent one day, but he inspires me to be a good person each and every day.
  6. Scout Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) – I couldn’t pick just one member of the Finch clan. Scout is one of my all-time favorite narrators. I love her young and innocent perspective of the world because it is so inspiring. She sees through the hard and calloused exteriors of people to their real, vulnerable hearts. Scout lives during a time of extreme social and racial prejudices, issues that would generally anger and disgust me, but through the pure and unblemished eyes of Scout, I finished this novel completely awestruck and inspired to find people I could treat as nicely as Scout and her father and brother did.
  7. Joanna Robbins (from Karen Witemeyer’s Stealing the Preacher) – I enjoy reading Christian Historical Romances from time to time, but I’ll admit they’re usually pretty cheesy. Karen Witemeyer is my favorite author in that genre, though, and it’s because she creates plot lines that aren’t cheesy, and her characters are so strong and inspiring that I feel uplifted for quite some time after reading her books. A quality that I admired about one of her heroines, Joanna Robbins, was accepting our physical appearances as God-given and something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about. Joanna herself wasn’t too keen on her red hair. Now I have red hair but I’ve always loved it so I must be the odd carrot-top out ;) But there are plenty of other things about my appearance that I don’t like, and I felt inspired by what Joanna said when she found herself downcast about her unusual hair color; she reminds herself that it is a gift from God: “Don’t despise it because it is different. See the beauty in His gift.”
  8. Esther (from The Bible) – If you ask most Christian women who their favorite woman of the Bible is, most likely they will say Esther. But if you know her story you will understand why. Esther is bold, courageous, and full of faith, and in many ways she would be the perfect heroine in a YA dystopian novel. She risks her life to protect her family and to do the right thing, and in a dire situation she summons the bravery to speak one of the most inspirational lines in the Bible: “If I perish, I perish.” It just makes me want to run into battle to defend all the things I believe in!
  9. Anne Elliot (from Jane Austen’s Persuasion) – I seem to take a liking to literary heroines named Anne ;) This Anne is probably my favorite Austen heroine. I know most people would choose Elizabeth Bennet, and although I myself take after Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey, good-hearted and pure Ms. Elliot just inspires me so much! She has a subtle yet much appreciated talent of bringing out the best in others (kind of like Emma, whom I mentioned at the top of this list, but not so much in-your-face), and there’s not a mean or malicious bone in her body. She thinks the best of everyone and is constantly looking for ways to serve others. Plus, she’s the type of person you would want near you in a crisis; she’ll be completely calm and manage to get everything done while the rest of the world freaks out or faints.
  10. Ginny Weasley (from the Harry Potter series) – My favorite Weasley :) I always admired Ginny’s strong will and fearless attitude. We don’t see much of her early on in the series, but in the last few books she becomes quite popular among the Dumbledore’s Army crowd, mainly because “she’s a beast,” as my old Cross Country pals would have said. I’d be afraid to face her in a battle or Quidditch game, but I’d love teaming up with her because I know she’d help me to be brave and bold when I’d naturally want to back down. Also, and spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read Harry Potter, but I don’t care what J.K. Rowling said recently; Harry belongs with Ginny, just like she wrote it, and not with Hermione.

There you have it! Which characters inspire you the most? Does anyone from my list make yours as well? I kept this list to literary characters, but there are plenty of screen characters who inspire me as well!

Everyone loves a survey!

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I came across this fun little bookish survey over at Covered in Flour and it reminded me of my MySpace survey-posting days (Ahh, high school). I had some time to kill this evening so here you go!

Author you’ve read the most books from: Lucy M. Montgomery. I’ve read her beloved Anne of Green Gables series (8 books total) multiple times.

Best sequel ever: I adored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I remember staying up all night to read it, and even having to take pauses to deal with all the feels. That was probably my favorite novel in the series.

Currently reading: I read Jane Eyre last week (started and finished…I couldn’t put it down), so I am currently in between books. But I will be starting Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a few days.

Drink of choice while reading: Tea, in a nice mug, or water, if it’s hot outside. Sometimes very rarely I will drink coffee if it’s rather early in the morning or late at night and I need caffeine to help me stay awake.

E-reader of physical book?: I love the smell and feel of physical books, yet I love my Kindle as well. Most of the novels I read are on my Kindle, and I love not having to pick and choose what books stay in France and what books stay in the U.S. Every now and then I will buy a paperback, and of course I have hardback editions of my favorite series (except for Anne of Green Gables…I only have the paperback box set that I received as a Christmas present when I was 12. I love reading those copies the best, but I have the series on my Kindle as well).

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My husband, knowing my quirky love of smelling books as I read them, brought me home this edition of Jane Eyre earlier this week. Guess I have to reread it! ;)

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school: Ahh, I was always intrigued by the mysterious, yet charismatic guys the most in high school, but I don’t know if I would have actually dated one. Possibly, but I think I’d be more inclined to date a Captain Wentworth or Gilbert Blythe.

Glad you gave this book a chance: Jane Eyre, definitely. I was turned off by it for the longest time and fortunately I came across this read-along last month and now I will consider it one of my top 5 favorite novels.

Hidden gem book: I think I’ll go with The Giver by Lois Lowry. I love those types of dystopian novels.

Important moment in your reading life: Just the fact that I was so encouraged to read by my elementary school teachers. They made it fun, we had challenges, and we were always encouraged to read if we finished our lessons early. That stopped once I got to middle and high school, but it was too late by then because I had already become an incurable bookworm!

Just finished: Jane Eyre! I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Kinds of books you won’t read: Game of Thrones and 50 Shades of Grey type books. I read the first three A Song of Ice and Fire novels and I would be happy to never read another book like them again. I have a hard time getting past the violence, crudeness, and graphic imagery in those types of reads. And do I need to elaborate on my reasons for not reading 50 Shades of Grey type novels? I read the Twilight series in high school and that is already over my limit.

Longest book you’ve read: Moby Dick.

Major book hangover because of…: There are three answers that complete this sentence: Jane Eyre (I am still on that hangover…), Pride and Prejudice (finally got off that hangover after 3ish weeks), and the Anne of Green Gables series (was on this hangover earlier this summer). I only seem to have book hangovers after reading classics. I think it’s because I get all nostalgic and wish I could time travel back to somewhere between 1700 and 1900.

Number of bookcases you own: A lot of my books are e-reader format, but I would say I have at least 4 bookshelves of various heights.

One book you have read multiple times: I’ll pick one that I haven’t yet mentioned, and that will be Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. My guilty book pleasure (but I don’t really feel guilty about it) is reading historical Christian fiction, and this is my favorite, along with To Win Her Heart by the same author and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I love the period-era atmospheres, the entertaining characters, and the positive themes. It’s my pick-me-up genre.

Preferred place to read: right now I love reading on my living room couch with the back door wide open and fresh autumn air blowing through the curtains.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: one of the few favorite quotes I have that I can actually recite from memory is this one by John Keats from his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (my favorite poem): “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;” It’s become one of my life mottos.

Reading regret: Besides Game of Thrones, like I previously mentioned? Probably waiting so long to read Jane Eyre. It was never assigned to me in high school or college, but I had heard of it sometime after reading Wuthering Heights in 9th grade and just never desired to read it. Shame on me.

Series you started and need to finish: Percy Jackson. I own the first three installments, in French, and that is why I have not yet finished the first book *guilty and lazy*

Three of your all-time favorite books: I have already mentioned four of my top five favorite novels (Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), so I’ll give you the last one: Persuasion.

Unapologetic fangirl for: My first fictional crush, Gilbert Blythe (sorry Miss Shirley) and Peeta Mellark of Hunger Games fame. Yep, unapologetic.

Very excited for this release more than all the others: You know, I do not read a lot of modern novels. When I do, it’s only after it’s been out for a year or two. I remember waiting for Harry Potter sequels to come out while I was in high school, and the anticipation was excruciating! I would love any recommendations for books/sequels that are being published soon!

Worst bookish habit: probably looking up things about a book before I’ve finished reading it. And I don’t mean I go and look up the endings, I mean I just go to Pinterest and type the title of the book in, especially if it has a film adaptation, and then things get ruined…

X Marks the spot (start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book): Super Stitches Crochet. Yay for reference books!

Your latest book purchase: Most of the novels I read are free because–classics! But the last book I bought, which I have not yet read, is another by Karen Witemeyer: Stealing the Preacher (spin-off from Short Straw Bride).

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY too late): I consecutively spent multiple evenings last week reading Jane Eyre until 2 in the morning…