Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sharon Gillenwater's The Callahan's of Texas series

I'm reviewing Megan's Hero, book three of Sharon Gillenwater's The Callahan's of Texas series over at Inkwell Inspirations today (Saturday, July 16th). Stop by and leave a comment before midnight tonight, because I'll be giving away a copy of the book to one lucky person. In the meantime, I thought I'd reprint my reviews of the first two books in this series. 

Jenna's Cowboy

Let’s get the important stuff over with right up front. . . .

This is one gorgeous book cover!

If you’re the type of person who buys a book based on the cover…then here you go. This particular cowboy, with those devastating blue eyes, should have this book flying off the shelves. But while it’s fun to dish about cute guys on the front of a book, how many of you would really buy a book for that reason alone? There’s so much more to this book than just the good looking guy. There’s a very believable cowboy suffering from an emotionally painful, very real and heart-wrenching disorder.

My favorite books to read, whether historical or contemporary, are always set in small towns. The cozy hometown feel has such an appeal to me. I love the fact that everyone knows each other, went to school together, and watches each others’ kids grow up. They band together to celebrate the wonderful things and they help each other through the tough times. Yes, you have your quirky characters, snooty characters, busy-bodies, and the occasional bad guy. But those are all the special extras that give a book its flavor.

Lucky for me, Jenna’s Cowboy is set in just such a town. Actually, the setting is based on author Sharon Gillenwater’s actual hometown, in West Texas. Maybe that’s why it curled all the way around my heart as I read it. Or maybe it’s the truly wonderful spirit Sharon creates in her characters. Not that they’re perfect. Like all satisfying books, her characters must experience the ups and downs of life and grow stronger in both in spirit and in faith. It’s because of those characters and the way Sharon shapes them that I always look forward to her books.

Nate Langley is a hometown hero. And he’s a true-blue Christian romance novel hero, the kind of hero that makes even the most cynical heart melt. Of course, he doesn’t want any special recognition for the sacrifices he made while serving his country. He did what any man who loves his country would do. But now it’s time to come home and help his father run the farm, time to be a cowboy, and though he might not know it yet, it’s time for Nate to heal. It might even be time to win the heart of one very special woman—the woman he’s been in love with since he was fifteen years old.

Jenna Callahan Colby is a woman who also has a lot of healing to do. She knows first hand the pain of betrayal. Could Nate possibly be the cowboy who can help her through it?

Right at the beginning of the book as Nate watches Jenna interact with some local teenagers, this book stole my heart. Actually, it gripped me even before that, when I read the very special dedication at the beginning of the book followed by the beautiful passage from Isaiah.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the pain of divorce and betrayal, trusting the Lord to get through it all... All are very serious, very real issues, and Sharon handles them with the tenderness and sensitivity they deserve. She gives readers a deeper understanding for the effect war has on our young men and women, all the while leading us down the path of a blossoming romance.

This book is filled with heart-warming scenes and heart-aching scenes. I found my eyes filling with tears more than once.

When Jenna and Nate meet for the first time in the book, I couldn’t help but smile. It takes a special writer to blend serious issues with heartwarming romance and a touch of humor, and Sharon Gillenwater is just such an author. If you’ve read her books before, you know you’re about to read something special. If you’ve never read one of her books, you truly won’t want to miss this one. Her book Love Song remains one of my all time favorites, but I think Jenna’s Cowboy may have just pushed that one into second place.

I hope you’ll grab a copy of Jenna’s Cowboy, settle into your favorite reading spot, and let the entire world fade away while you escape to Small-Town-USA…my favorite place to be.

Emily's Chance

People in Callahan Crossing have a lot of pieces to pick up after a fire destroys much of the town. Emily Rose Denny is there to work on the town’s historical museum. And though Chance Callahan doesn’t see how restoring the museum will help the town recover after the fire, he’s glad to help, and even more glad that Emily is here to stay for a while.

The romance between these two characters evolves naturally and delightfully, and the book is filled with touching moments between Chance, Emily, and his parents. She doesn’t have the best of relationships with her own parents, and yet she fits into Chance’s family so perfectly.

Emily tries to keep herself from falling in love, knowing she’s only in town for the duration of the job. When it’s over, she’ll pack her suitcase and head for the big city, where she’ll try to land an even bigger job. But will she find that God has led her to this town for a different purpose?

When she makes a shocking discovery while restoring the museum, it causes Chance to question everything he’s ever believed in. And as he helps with the project, he hopes to convince Emily to give up her dream of being a curator at a large museum in Dallas and stay in Callahan Crossing—with him.

I love the small-town feel of this book, as well as every book Sharon writes. The setting is so vivid, I feel like I’m right there. The characters are so real; I can picture them laughing, talking, and interacting with each other. Sharon never fails to bring a smile to my face and evoke at least one tear from my cynical eyes.

Like I did, you’ll fall in love with these characters, and the charm of Sharon’s natural storytelling voice.

Sharon Gillenwater grew up on Thompson's Ranch in the Rolling Plains of West Texas, near Colorado City. Her father was ranch foreman, and her parents lived there for over fifty years. The six thousand acre ranch provided pasture for Hereford cattle and an occasional Texas Longhorn, as well as fields of grain and grass to feed the stock and the primary crop, cotton. Love and marriage took Sharon across the country to state of Washington, but Texas is still dear to her heart

Her books are honest down home love stories with laughter, conflict and sometimes tragedy that carries the reader along. The power of God working in the lives of the main characters is always evident as is their relationship to Him.

She again brings you the wonderful people, small towns and West Texas region she loves Jenna's Cowboy, Emily's Chance and Megan's Hero in the Callahans of Texas series.

For Sharon, writing romance novels is a ministry. God has given her the talent to write, and she uses it to serve Him. She depends on Him to give her stories that will inspire, heal, entertain and bring her readers closer to Jesus.

Visit Sharon’s website:
Read the Romantic Times Author’s Spotlight on Sharon:
To read some fun facts about how Sharon created the town of Callahan Crossing:

photo credits:
cowboy boots courtesy of scotsxc at
wild horses courtesy of guitargoa at
barbed wire courtesy of DawnAllynn at