I read these books back-to-back and decided to do one big review, starting with the first book. The series is from the Harlequin's Love Inspired line, so here is my quick scale of faith-based fiction preachiness:
1 - vague mentions of faith
2 - general faith
3 - prayers written, Bible verses mentioned
4 - Bible verses written into story
5 - just go read the Bible already
The Wedding Journey by Cheryl St. John
The book was well executed typical Harlequin formula. Maeve Murphy is a decent character in and of herself and was a heroine that I rooted for. There was moments early on that went into Mary Sue turf, but the author made her more human as the book went on. The romance was realistic (no insta-love), if a bit rushed, as the couple weds before the ship docks into Boston harbor; considering the length of the trip, they knew each other all of two, maybe three weeks tops. Maeve and Flynn worked together, and their work was intense at times, mundane at others. For this being the first book in the series, I expected more info-dumping than what the book offered - definitely a positive. The book also sets up secondary characters with enough back story to make them interesting without taking away from the main characters. Flynn's angst is sincere and realistic. Preachiness scale: 3. Overall a solid and serviceable effort. 3.5/5 stars.
Mistaken Bride by Renee Ryan
Worst book out of the trilogy - straight out of the gate. Insta-love abounds--too bad I can't stand that trope--before Bridget Murphy even got off the boat! She (on a boat that just docked into harbor) feels a pull toward Will, the mystery man on the docks and his beautiful eyes--best damn pair of eyes does Bridget have to see that far! But the author, in another case of inconsistency, changes Will's eye color halfway through the book.
Also there was the insta-love, maternal-child style, between Bridget and Will's kids. Caleb and Olivia are cute and realistic, so they did not disrupt the story - and at many times throughout the book they were the best part of the story. Will's angst from his past was done really well; Bridget's angst was based on a stupid reason that I rolled my eyes at every time it was mentioned.
The story dragged, Bridget was a complete Mary Sue, and I just wanted to get through this book to ensure I didn't miss any storyline that begins in the book and continues into the last book. A sub-plot that was not much of a sub-plot from book one was finished in this book, but I really didn't care for it--the resolution was too easily wrapped up. I think the author put in this conclusion to the not needed sub plot to ensure she made the word count. The faith of Bridget and Will felt very tacked on, as though the author remembered to put something churchy in the story after she wrote it. Preachiness: 1. Overall, I would skip this book and just read book one and two - there wasn't much in here to read/know for the last book. 1.5/5 stars - because of the kids.
A Baby Between Them by Winnie Griggs
So book one was solid and book two was a skip it, yet I am so glad to start at the beginning of the series so that book three could shine. And hell yeah it shone -- like a diamond! First, consistency returned to the story. Second, the FEELS I got reading this story were amazing. I loved Nora and Cameron - I wish more historical romance writers would draw characters like these two. I rooted for these two since chapter one. There was a major sub-plot that was started in book one--well executed and so important for the romance to progress. I can't recommend this book enough - the payoff was so worth reading books one and two. Nora is my kind of heroine - real enough to avoid the Mary Sue affliction that caught the other two heroines, but good hearted and hard working with an independence streak that reminded me of ....me, lol. Nora saw her two younger sisters married off, but she didn't sulk about being the only maid left in the family - she decided to start her own business instead! Preachiness: 3. I will probably turn to this book for comfort reading, so 5/5 stars. So looking forward to reading more by this author!
Overall I give these trilogy 3.5 stars due to the weak second story. Page counts are based on the story and the questions for book club discussions, so the stories are really 190-200 pages in length.