Review: Pastors’ Wives by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

pastors wivesReviewed by Karin

It’s rare to find a book so well written, with so much to think about. I give it 5 star out of 5 star. The beginning was slow going only because I wasn’t sure where it was heading. Then I stayed up very, very late to finish it.

This is Cullen’s second book, but her first book of fiction. In 2007 she was a reporter for Time Magazine when she attended a convention of pastors’ wives. Her article was published in Time in 2007, but she kept thinking about the women. The result is this book, which is entertaining and thought provoking. I came close to tears. The women seem very real, and as one reviewer said, someone you would like to friend on Facebook.

Each woman’s story is told in alternating chapters. Their lives entertwine at Greenleaf, a mega church in Magnolia, a suburb of Atlanta.

The characters (in the order of their appearance):

Ruthie, raised a Catholic, follows her husband Jerry, a protestant, to Greenleaf when he is hired to do their financials. He ends up shadowing Aaron, the pastor, almost as if he were Aaron’s son, and doing the financials at night, that is, when he is in town. His faith becomes stronger and stronger, while she suffers a crisis of faith. She is hired to be the PR representative for the church. And immediately she becomes the liaison for a reporter who is doing an in depth article on the church. Part of her crisis of faith involves her mother’s death. There are some graphic parts.

Candace is Aaron’s wife, and a force in her own right. She is a complex character. She always tries to do the right thing, prays deeply, feels it is her job to protect Aaron, so for instance, she pays attention to names, so he doesn’t have to. She seems very business like, but loves her grandchildren with a passion, and would do anything for her family. She recognizes her sons have flaws. We see her in action every day, and she really comes through when all that she loves is in danger of falling apart. She hires a body guard and security to shadow her husband to keep him safe. There are also security pads to enter parts of the church, which has every amenity you could think of.

Ginger is married to Timothy, one of Candace and Aaron’s sons. He has seeded a new church, Newleaf, but it is in a sorry state, while he travels to the world’s hot spots, leaving his wife and two children behind. Ginger has a past — boy does she — but Timothy’s immediate love and acceptance has gone a long way to healing her. But neither of them have told his parents. When Candace becomes aware, everything changes.

The plot thickens: Divorce and separation seem like very real possibilities. There are close brushes with infidelity, for both a husband and a wife.

It seems as if someone has embezzled a lot of money from the church. But Candace keeps close watch and she’s never noticed anything amiss. The bank is able to tell her what went down — and she is able to figure out who.

And then Aaron is shot and the FBI enters.


My take: I loved this book. I enjoy reading about faith walks, even when they are fictional, but based on reality. The book is funny, touching, endearing, kind, perceptive. It shows you where the power of prayer could take you. Ultimately there is hope and love, friendship and family. I loved the characters. It’s a book I might enjoy reading again, which is saying a lot. It always helps me to know where it is going to end up.


Buy: Pastors’ Wives

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Review: Her Forgotten Betrayal by Anna DeStefano

Her Forgotten BetrayalReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Shaw Cassidy has been the victim of trauma due to awful events at her mansion where it is believed an assassination attempt made on her life has left her with amnesia. It doesn’t help that she is the heiress to Cassidy Global Research, as well as their CEO, as it has made her a target for every cash hungry nut around. As her life is in danger, she is being protected by an FBI agent, Cole Marinos, but he has other reasons for wanting to be around her.

Review: Two people are brought together in this story, but the real mystery is why Cole’s really there, and what had he done before, and what does he think she is guilty of. She is under doctor’s orders to look after herself, get well and get over the attack on her life but her bad nerves can’t be tossed aside as easy as she still has the nightmares from her ordeal.

Shaw has everything a woman could want, an important position at the top of a company, the respect of everyone around her, the huge mansion house and the ability to buy whatever she wants. She’s the poor little rich girl, but there is someone around who can ground her – Cole is an ordinary guy who doesn’t care that she’s filthy rich, even though he helps her with her problems, he still treats her as he would anyone else, using darlin’ a lot around her. If anyone can protect her, he will, and he cares for her more than she thinks. There is also the problem of the suspect shooter, and his or her motivation for doing it that still lurks in the back of Shaw’s mind.

Verdict: The story was shorter than it should have been, and felt rushed, but the two main characters are thrilling and exciting to read about.

[Rating:3.5 Stars]

Buy: Her Forgotten Betrayal

Review: Hunt Her Down by Roxanne St. Claire


Remember when I ran into Roxanne St. Claire at the bookstore? I asked her what her favorite books were that she wrote and Hunt Her Down was one of them. I was not disappointed in fact my socks were knocked off! I think I may just have to get back into reading lots and lots of romantic suspense because of this novel.

There’s this sexy shed scene where Dan masturbates that really did it. The scene is so hot you boil reading the pages. See, Dan has bad night vision and thought the heroine couldn’t see him. They were locked inside the shed (were they used to make love a lot when they knew each other years ago) by the bad guys and while they were waiting to be rescued they had a little trip down memory lane.

As Roxanne St. Claire said on twitter:

You know, every hero has to have a flaw. 😉

To which I said:

I’d take that flaw in a few more heroes haha

I so would! Whew!

Maggie Varcek believes in signs from the universe or at least her Baba (grandmother). When a fortune cookie fortune accurately acknowledges her pregnancy, Maggie is ecstatic and determined to go to the baby’s father to tell him the news. She knew he’d take care of her and they’d figure out what to do (e.g. how to get away and stay safe.) On that fateful night however, Maggie does not get the chance because Michael Scott dies when the FBI and DEA rush in to haul Ramon and Alonso Jimenez off to prison.

Flash forward a decade later. Ramon is released and back on the streets. Dan Gallagher, formerly Michael Scott, undercover Bullet Catcher, knows his ex-lover Maggie might be in danger if Ramon figured out she was the leak. His plans to protect her go awry when he finds out they had a kid. Now he’s racing to solve a case of missing millions, 100 million to be precise, and the mysteries of the heart, specifically his own.

Sizzling, suspenseful, and superb. As I said before, I think I may just have to get back into reading lots and lots of romantic suspense because of this novel. Can’t wait to read Make Her Pay!


Buy: Hunt Her Down (Bullet Catchers)

Review: The Marriage Game by Fern Michaels


By: Cara Lynn, guest reviewer

The Marriage Game by Fern Michaels is a light summer read.

I figured by the description it would have some humor, and it does.

Samantha Rainford returns from her honeymoon to find she has been served divorce papers. She is both shocked and heart broken. She is going to be paid off with a check for $5000. When she visits the attorney, she learns there are three other wives before her who have all been treated the same way. She determines that she will not get mad, she will get even. She enlists the aid of the other wives to extract their revenge.

Meantime, she and a girlfriend attend an FBI training school — seriously, how remotely possible is that! where they both flunk out. But they’ve learned a thing or two.

Then they are recruited for a secret ops camp deep in the mountains of NC. How Samantha gets the better of her recruiter is one of the funnier portions of the book. The only way the two of them will join is if the other wives come along too.

The cast of characters in the mountain includes the head trainer who is endangered by his past if he comes off the mountain (Pappy), and the cook (who turns out to be his father), a dog that is part wolf (Alpha), and the other teams that are being trained.

This section of the book is interesting as the characters are developed. The better part of a year is spent on the mountain. Samantha passes with flying colors, but Pappy doesn’t want her to have the life that he has had. He is in love with her, though she doesn’t know it. And he doesn’t know she was ever Mrs. Rainford.

How she and the other women — they find he has a number of other ex-wives that they find out about, and that might not be all, who are also included in this — exact their revenge is a cute part of the story. And how it interweaves with Pappy’s story is believable.

I give it a 3.

I’ve never read any of her books before, but judging from this, I will see if I enjoy the others as much.

With all that FBI and special agent secret op going on The Marriage Game sounds like a cross with Miss Congeniality. What do you think?

Buy: The Marriage Game

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