Monday, July 19, 2010

Two Reviews "Hometown Proposal" by Merrillee Whren and "A Gift of Grace" by Amy Clipston

Back cover: Before single father Seth Finley became a full-time dad - and a Christian- he wasn't exactly responsible. But now he can't seem to convince his former girlfriend that he's changed. Nothing is more important to Seth than family, faith and love. And since he's found Elise Keller again, he has another shot to show her what kind of man he truly is. A man who'll love, honor, and cherish her the way she always deserved. But will the once-burned, twice-shy Elise ever accept his hometown proposal?

Meet Merrillee Whren

I was born on my mother’s birthday, July 3rd. Of course, I’m sure you’re thinking I was the best birthday present she ever had. Sharing birthdays seems to run in my family. My two daughters were born a year apart on June 18th, the birthday of a great-great grandfather. The girls are now grown. The older one lives in Baltimore and the younger one in Tucson, AZ.

I arrived while my parents lived in Rapid City, South Dakota, but they soon moved to Montana. This would be the first of many moves in my life. I graduated from high school while we lived in Spokane, Washington. I went back to Huron, South Dakota, to attend Dakota Bible College. Then I went on for more schooling at Milligan College in Tennessee. After graduating, I got a teaching job near Cincinnati, Ohio, where I met my husband two years later. We were married on Valentine’s Day and had our wedding reception in Loveland, Ohio. No wonder I became a romance writer.

The moving I did as a child prepared me well for life with my husband. We started our married life in Greenfield, Ohio. I taught elementary school and my husband was a pharmacist at the local pharmacy. However, his work would eventually take us on a journey from small town Ohio where our girls were born to the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Chicago. When my husband decided to start his own company, we could live any place we wanted. So we picked one of the best places in the world, in my opinion, an island off the northeastern coast of Florida. We live in a vacation paradise with the beach, tennis and golf right out our back door or just down the street. When I’m not writing, I enjoy walking on the beach, playing tennis and bridge or doing a little yard work.

Living in so many different places gave me the opportunity to visit all fifty states. I traveled to my last state several years ago when my husband and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with an Alaskan cruise. My many moves have given me a lot of settings for my stories and the chance to meet many other writers through the chapters of Romance Writers of American located in each place we lived.

I wrote my first novel and shared it with my friends when I was in high school, but many years passed before I thought about writing anything with publication in mind. In 1984, after reading dozens of romances, I decided to write one of my own. How hard could that be? Twenty years worth of writing taught me how hard the publishing business can be. During those years of writing, rewriting, lots of rejections and unkind critiques, there were numerous times when I was ready to quit, but I didn't. Through that time, I believe God was teaching me a lesson in perseverance. He was also teaching me to give my writing over to His will. Because I kept writing even when the hope of selling seemed far away, in July of 2003, I won the Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of America for my inspirational romance manuscript, A Place To Call Home. I didn't sell that Golden Heart winner, but on February 20, 2004, I got "THE CALL" and sold a different manuscript. The Heart’s Homecoming was published by Steeple Hill for their Love Inspired line in August 2005.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little about me. I hope you’ll visit again soon.


My take: Seth Finley and Elise Keller have a past. After a break-up that destroyed Elise's faith in Seth she thought she would never see him again. That is until he shows up in her hometown as the new Recreational Director.

Her family takes Seth and his little girl under their wing, which makes it near impossible for Elise to avoid Seth - and her feelings she has for him. When Seth is seriously injured in a car accident she realizes how much she still cares for him. But this confuses her even more. While she helps care for his little girl while he recovers she begins to wonder if a relationship could work out. Has Seth really changed?

This little romantic book packs a big wallop. Seth is paying the price for past sins. He has made a lot of changes in his life, but he can't seem to convince Elise that he has seriously changed. Even though it is pretty obvious what the outcome will be in this story - the journey to get there is a sweet ride.

Rebecca Kauffman longs to fulfill her quiet Old Order Amish life by giving her husband, Daniel, a child, but for years she has been unable to conceive. When her older sister, Grace, who left the Amish community for the modern world, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca is left custody of her two teenage nieces, Jessica and Lindsay. Now Rebecca wonders how she is going to take on this daunting task of being an Amish woman raising two English teenagers.

Rebecca struggles to give the girls the guidance they need as she tries to fulfill her duties as an Amish wife. The strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as the girls search for their identity in this new home. Caught between her husband's disapproval and her niece's unhappiness, Rebecca begins to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God. Will she be able to reconcile differences in her home - or will the clash of cultures tear her world apart?

About Amy: Amy Clipston is a first-time author and member of American Christian Fiction Writers(ACFW). She holds a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time as a public informations specialist for the city of Charlotte, NC. Amy live in North Carolina with her husband and two sons.

My take: This is only the second Amish book I've read - I have to admit it is not my genre of choice. But since I've been reviewing/influencing books I've tried to keep a very open mind. I've been pleasantly surprised in doing so, as I was with this book. I couldn't tell if this was the girls story or if it was Aunt Rebecca's story. I suppose it could be both. It seemed that Rebecca's husband Daniel was being very hard on the girls as well as his wife, while they all tried to adjust to the lose of their mother and sister and their new surroundings. Rebecca got the children she had always wished for - she just didn't think they would come in the form of teenagers. I felt they were being especially hard on Jessie (the oldest girl and having the hardest time adjusting to Amish ways) and I had no idea how they were going to handle the situation that had unbearable for all of them. Rebecca's mother-in-law kept telling her to "listen", but she didn't understand what that meant - not until Jessie runs away and finds herself in an accident. I must admit I never saw the ending coming and I was pleased and surprised with how Rebecca decided to handle things. It was worth reading the book just to get to that part. There is a lesson to be learned - our desires may not be what is best for others around us.

Happy Reading!


  1. Thank you for reviewing my book! I hope you'll keep reading and check out book #2, A Promise of Hope.

    Amy Clipston

  2. Thank you for the reviews. I'm eager to learn more about Seth and the little girl as well as Rebecca and her nieces.

  3. I find I've broadened my genres since blogging, too. Thank you for the great reviews.