Endorsements for A Not So Convenient Marriage

by Sandra Merville Hart

I was thrilled to receive the following two wonderful endorsements for A Not So Convenient Marriage, Book 1 in my “Second Chances” series that released on November 8, 2022. It’s set three Ohio locations—Hamilton, Harrison, and Bradford Junction—in 1877, a dozen years after the Civil War’s end.

“Reading A Not So Convenient Marriage was for me a delightful journey into a simpler time, but a time as complex as ours when it comes to relationships, misunderstandings, and the desires of the heart. Author Sandra Merville Hart has crafted characters who will draw you into their story, capture your imagination, and leave you cheering them on as they face their own shortcomings and follow their dreams. A lovely first book in the Second Chances series, one that leaves me waiting for the next.”

~ Ann Tatlock, author, editor, writing mentor

“An emotional portrayal of grief and guilt blended skillfully with grace amid the heartbreak of unrequited love. The characters created by the author, Sandra Merville Hart, gripped me from the beginning and made me sorry to part ways at the end. Ms. Hart’s talented prose lured me into an era where digging an honest living out of the ground often collided with hardship, and marriages of convenience were contracted for reasons other than love or commitment. Samuel Walker enters into such an arrangement with Rose Hatfield after his beautiful wife, Ginny, dies unexpectedly, leaving him with two children and a farm to care for himself. Ginny’s specter haunts and crowds Samuel and Rose until feelings of unworthiness and doubt consume Rose, and their union becomes unbearable. Did she follow God’s will for her life? Or did she only listen to her heart? At long last, she does what wise women do: ‘She prayed until her legs went numb and her spirit emptied of words.’ A sweet novel deftly filled with sorrow, conflict, hope, and finally, love.”

~KD Holmberg, Award-winning author of The Egyptian Princess; A Story of Hagar

What reviewers are saying:

“This is a story that will tug at your heart. It is well written and easy to read and imagine.”

“The depth of emotion is off the charts!”

“I couldn’t put the book down and read it in one day!”

“It may seem cliche to say that this should be a Hallmark movie, but I do believe that it is worthy of the original Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations!”

“I loved, loved, loved the book and Rose will be one of my all-time favorite heroines forever!”

“Thank you so very much for writing this book. I can’t put into words how much I adored it!”

“One of my favorite heroines – Rose will be with me for a long time!”

“The depth of emotion in these main characters, Rose and Samuel, was evident throughout each interaction and felt raw, palpable and realistic.”


All Through the Night by Tara Johnson

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

It’s 1861 and the Civil War begins in the first chapter of this book.

Cadence Piper has been told for years that she’ll never amount to much because of her slow speech. Her father won’t even allow her to work in his toy store. Cadence fears he’s ashamed of her. She wants to help with nursing duties for the sick and wounded soldiers at the hospitals but even this is denied her. Yet everyone is enchanted by her singing.

Dr. Joshua Ivy believes Cadence is too young and lovely to be of any use in a hospital and he sets out to frighten her away, partly because he fears of losing his heart to her. As an abolitionist, he’s involved in dangerous activities that can turn deadly for those he loves.

Both have a heart for the sick and wounded soldiers but danger reaches out and threatens to envelope both of them.

The characters in this book drew me into their story quickly. I didn’t like Joshua at first because of his harshness. The author reveals the reason for his harsh words bit by bit. The only time Cadence never stammers is when she sings, which she often does to soothe sick and dying soldiers.

The further I got into the story, the harder it was to put it down. The author does a great job of tugging at readers’ emotions. Descriptions of scenes grounded me to the story. I learned quite a bit about a secret organization that infiltrated high levels of government with its evil deeds.

A story of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. Recommend for readers of inspirational historical romance.


The Element of Love by Mary Connealy

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Book 1 in The Lumber Baron’s Daughters series

Three beautiful sisters are running away from their stepfather’s plans to marry them off to his money-hungry friends whom they are all certain will mistreat them—possibly worse than their stepfather mistreats their mother. Their mother sends them off to find husbands and then return. She remains to face her husband’s wrath, but at least her strong, intelligent, beautiful daughters will be safe.

Laura, the youngest, meets a parson at the train station. Caleb heads a mission team heading to remote area of California. She convinces him to take her and her companions—she hides her relationship to her sisters to maintain secrecy. Then the real adventure begins.

Laura soon decides she must convince Caleb to marry her so that she can claim her third of her inheritance out of the clutches of her violent stepfather. But Caleb has secrets of his own…

This novel leaps from one dangerous adventure to the next so that I could barely put down the book. The characters are realistic and the relationship between the sisters is believable. Their mission—to choose their own husbands, take charge of their inheritance, and rescue their mother—drives the story.

Danger follows all four women, making this a page-turner.

One caution—the ending will leave you wanting to read Book 2!



Antique Dreams by Amber Stockton

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A young man’s dying wish grabbed my attention in reading this novel—especially as he was on a lifeboat. Aaron watched as his friend and business partner died while the Titanic sinks into frigid waters. To accomplish his friend’s request, he must visit the man’s family.

Lillian mourns the death of her brother on the Titanic and is slow to build her trust in Aaron, who was with him when he died, yet is drawn to him.

Aaron had recently been pushed out of the family business by an uncle who raised him after the death of his parents. He’s grateful that Lillian’s father gives him a job.

There are some mysteries in this story that initially grabbed my attention—not to mention the connection with the Titanic.

However, the story moved slowly. What initially snagged my interest ended up as a handful of scenes rather than the bigger part I imagined.

The characters are likeable, especially a couple of the secondary ones. It had a nice ending.


The Chamomile by Susan F. Craft

Review by Sandra Merville Hart

Book 1 in “Women of the American Revolutions” Series

Lilyan Cameron’s loyalties belong to the colonies during the Revolutionary War. Her brother Andrew fights for the militia, but when he is captured by the British and held prisoner in deplorable conditions on one of their ships, Lilyan doesn’t know where to turn for help.

Captain Nicholas Xanthakos also fights for the militia. He and others plan how they can save Andrew and those captured with him. He enlists Lilyan to help. She doesn’t need much persuasion—she’ll do anything to save her brother.

There’s a lot of action and adventure in this story. It also shows how the colonists lived and made their living. Some of the detail, while fascinating, tends to slow the action.

The story beautifully demonstrates the courage of many men and women, whether they fought for the militia or not.

Multiple twists and turns in the story made this a page-turner for me. Tragedy, heartache, and difficulties escalate as the story unfolds. I felt that the initial relationship between Lilyan and Nicholas moved quickly for the time period.

As a history buff, the book snagged my interest. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

LPC buy link

Maggie’s Strength by Pegg Thomas

Review by Sandra Merville Hart

This second book in the series snagged my attention from the first page!

At age eleven, Maggie Kerr is captured in an attack on Fort McCord by warriors of the Huron tribe while screaming for her family. Her mother promises that someone will rescue her. As the years pass, resentment builds that her father never comes for her. She learns to trust no one. Seven years later, her owner promises to give her in marriage to Tree Sleeper, a cruel warrior. She escapes and heads to Fort Detroit.   

Baptiste Geroux, a French farmer living near Fort Detroit, is friends with the Ottawa who leave him in peace because he gives them a portion of his crop. He knows there is trouble brewing between tribes under the leadership of Pontiac and the British, but figures he’ll be safe enough. He discovers the British woman dressed in Huron clothing on his land and takes her to the safety of the fort.

At least, both he and Maggie figure she will be safe at the fort. But Baptiste doesn’t understand the ruthlessness of Tree Sleeper.  

Believable characters touched my heart with their hardships. Maggie struggles with resentment that her father never rescued her and near hatred for harsh treatment from some of her captors. I loved so many of these characters by learning their struggles.  

Thomas has delivered another well-written, heart-wrenching story that is steeped in historical details. Action-packed and filled with twists, I couldn’t put it down!

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!


Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills

Marianne Phillips is mortified by her wealthy father’s plan to force out those who had lived first in the Texas valley where he built his ranch. Her fear grows as she learns he will use weapons and his Virginia friends to remove the Mexicans from La Flor because his cattle need their land to graze.

Then Marianne is kidnapped in exchange for La Flor by members of the rebel band led by Armando Garcia, angering him. They acted without his knowledge. He insists on guarding Marianne himself, who is soon captivated by the man’s bravery. Yet there could be no future for these feelings for her father’s enemy, especially after he arranges for her to marry a man older than himself.

Innocent characters on both sides of the book’s conflict quickly snagged my sympathy. There is action and adventure throughout the novel with a love story that tugged at my heart.

This book was a page turner for me. I learned much about the struggles in the early history of Texas before it became a state. Recommended for historical romance readers.

I’ll look for more novels by this author!

-Review by Sandra Merville Hart


Rescuing Her Heart by Cindy Ervin Huff

Sequel to Healing Hearts, Cindy Ervin Huff’s novella in “The Cowboys,” a Smitten Historical Romance Collection

Jed Holt recognizes the desperate fear in Delilah James’s eyes. His days as a chaplain during the recent War Between the States taught him to tread lightly when a desperate person held a gun.

Delilah’s house lay in charred ruins. Her husband lay dead among the ashes of the small building that had never been the safe haven. She couldn’t mourn the man who’d treated her so cruelly.

Never would she trust another man … no matter how kindly he treated her. Experience had taught her it didn’t last.

Even as Jed’s compassionate heart grows to love the widow who now works for his sister-in-law, he has ghosts from his own past—remnants of the war he can’t overcome.

This novel, set on an 1870 Kansas ranch, tells a story of abuse and the difficulty of trusting again that will resound with many readers.

Likeable characters tug at the heart in this emotional story filled with plenty of twists and turns. Huff has written a spell-binding tale of budding romance with road blocks at every turn.

I first met some of these courageous characters in Healing Hearts in “The Cowboys” Smitten Collection, and fell in love with them there.

This novel is even more compelling. I couldn’t put it down. A page turner from beginning to end for me!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Three Little Things by Patti Stockdale

Hatti Waltz comes to town to cheer for and say goodbye to local soldiers. It’s 1917, and Arno Kreger is one of the brave men heading for boot camp. She wishes she could forget him as easily as it seems he forgot her.

Arno wants to carry Hatti’s promise to write him. He wants to court her but her father doesn’t like him. He’s been warned away.

The war in Europe is against the Germans. Arno, an American with a German heritage, doesn’t have an easy time with fellow soldiers. His fists have landed him in trouble in the past, but that’s not the way to win Hatti’s heart.

This story highlights the conflict German-American soldiers faced on the home front and the power of letters to connect two hearts that long for one another.

The characters are believable with plenty of surprising twists that are true to the time. What intrigued me most was learning that the story is loosely set on the author’s grandparents.

A good book for lovers of American history and World War I.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

A Heart Set Free by Janet S. Grunst

In 1770, with no other way to reach the freedom of the Colonies, Heather Douglas indentures herself as a bondservant for seven years to pay for her passage from Scotland and a tract of land. She’s unprepared for the hunger, disease, and death on the ocean voyage. Ashore, she awaits her turn to see who will buy her indenture.

Matthew Stewart, a widower struggling to run his farm, despairs of bringing his two children back to their home until he sees Heather. He pays her indenture and marries her.

Heather, aware that marrying a fine Christian man is a better fate than could have befallen her, tries to be a good stepmother. Her stepdaughter resents her presence and defies her.

Falling in love with her husband wasn’t in her plans, though her feelings scarcely matter. She will never measure up to Matthew’s first wife.

The title exactly fits the story! My interest was snagged early in the story. The characters were believable and likeable, making this a page turner for me.

I’m already reading the second book in the series, A Heart for Freedom.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas