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Life Unexpected #1

Safe In His Arms

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She's determined to escape her past. He's looking to build a future . . . with her. Will she open her heart and let him help, or keep on running alone?

Anna Henderson is guilty of one thing: trusting the wrong man. Now she’s running for her life from an ex-boyfriend who will stop at nothing to find her. The little town of Quintin, Texas seems like the perfect place to lay low, and its quaint little diner may just give her the new start she’s looking for. The more she gets to know the diner’s handsome owner, the more of a connection she feels with him. But she can’t put her heart—or his safety—at risk.

Joel Ash knows all about second chances. After all, he pulled himself out of his rough past and became a successful restaurant owner. So, when a nervous woman walks into his diner looking for a job, he can’t say no—even though he’s convinced she’s hiding something. He soon finds himself falling for the beautiful stranger, and he thinks he may have a real chance at winning her heart. But when Anna’s past catches up with her, both their lives are thrown into turmoil. His only thought is to protect Anna, and their possible future together, at any cost.

An inspirational Christian novel about faith, new beginnings, and overcoming fear with love.

214 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 21, 2016

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About the author

Melanie D. Snitker

33 books182 followers
Melanie D. Snitker is a USA Today bestselling author who writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children. They share their home with three dogs and a variety of small animals. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, training her dog, playing computer games, and hanging out with family and friends.

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5 stars
726 (56%)
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362 (28%)
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160 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 143 reviews
Profile Image for June.
1,538 reviews17 followers
August 23, 2019
I LOVED this story. Girl runs from abusive ex-boyfriend who wants her dead, meets gorgeous guy who wants her safe, and has a big crazy dog!!! This was a page turner. One of my friends shared this book on Facebook and it's another of those awesome ways to find new authors. I'll be looking to read more from this author. Great story that I would recommend to anyone who loves good, clean entertainment. Had a great suspense theme to it too.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,741 reviews5,976 followers
July 23, 2017
This is a quick read that has a little depth to it. It's Christian romance but not preachy. I was working on a puzzle and wanted to listen to something but it needed to be a book I wouldn't worry about my kids hearing anything objectionable, this fit the bill.

Content: Clean
Profile Image for Coco.V.
50k reviews4 followers
Want to read
April 4, 2019
🎁 FREE on Amazon today (4/4/2019)! 🎁

When a beautiful woman walks into his diner asking for a job, Joel Ash can't bring himself to say no. The more he gets to know Anna, the more he's convinced she's hiding something. Intrigued and drawn to protect her, he prays he can ensure her safety and guard her heart. Even if it means risking his own in the process.

Anna Henderson is on the run. In a new town, she wants nothing more than to trust Joel and the family offering her a fresh beginning. She's secured vital evidence that could put her obsessive ex behind bars and out of her life. But without the ability to access it, she'll always be looking over her shoulder.

Worried her past will catch up with her, can Anna ever feel safe in Joel's arms?
Profile Image for Dee/ bookworm.
1,359 reviews4 followers
October 13, 2017
Good, but the relationship blossomed rather quickly. Inside of a week they were more than co workers and why do they have to be "dating an employee" when they specifically say they weren't going to do that. Why can't they meet in a different situation where they don't have to sacrifice their morals or standards?
Profile Image for Kirsty Pearce.
158 reviews7 followers
April 18, 2020
Second time proved to be the charm with this book; first time I started reading it, I had a bit of a hard time getting into it, but this second time I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading Chess & Brooke's story next!
Profile Image for Hannah.
168 reviews39 followers
July 17, 2017
This was an easy read that I got for free on my kindle. This is not the first girl in danger from an ex-boyfriend who finds a new love interest while on the run of some sort that I have read. Safe in His Arms had the potential to be pretty good.

For me this book just didn't quite get to where I wanted it to. The story developed too fast with out feeling like we really got to know the characters. I wanted more of being shown why the characters liked each other. And I definitely wanted more of the mystery of the encrypted files and pretty much everything with that part of the story. From start to finish the time line is pretty much two weeks. That is not enough time to develop this story.

I would recommend this only as a filler read if needed and only if you can get it free like me. I had hoped with the rating that it would be better but I have read too many similar stories that worked a lot better.
Profile Image for Christina.
705 reviews28 followers
July 17, 2017
Such an adorable book!!

I really liked this book and the combination of a sweet romance with a little action is always a favorite. Both protagonists come from difficult backgrounds and I loved seeing how each handled what was dealt to them. Their romance was so gentle and sweet and I also liked the Christian elements. A very cute book!
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,712 reviews708 followers
December 22, 2020
First in the Life Unexpected Christian cozy romance series and revolving around three people who have come together in Quintin, Texas. The couple focus is on the terrified Anna Henderson and the successful Joel Ash.

Go pick this up now while Safe in His Arms is still free!

My Take
It's all about survival and the family you make. I love that Joel, Chess, and Brooke are so close and so supportive of each other. Pulling together and living in their own home. Approaching a new stage of growth.

We learn this and more through Snitker's use of third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Anna's and Joel's perspectives.

Anna is so independent, even if she is almost too stubborn for her own good *grin*. I am loving how matter-of-fact she is about her car and saving up for an apartment. But she does make me crazy with her obstinance about telling Joel about Liam. I can sort of understand Anna not wanting Joel to know of the potential trouble coming her way, but I got the impression that she's more worried that he'll be judgmental towards her??

Anna is careful. She doesn't trust anyone, in either direction. And yet, she is pulled toward Joel. It's a pull that conflicts me. I do wish she'd get on with it, but I have to remember Anna's own past and her fears.

I do like Joel's attitude toward his employees: keep them happy and customers will be happy. It's a way of thinking that translates over to Anna, as he's quickly protective of her as well as his own people.

That Paul is such a jerk. Brooke is lucky that she has such supportive friends. Especially with that move she's contemplating.

It's a great blend of psychology and action with tension in both areas and characters about whom I want to know more. It does make me want to read Someone to Trust , 2.

Not overly religious, It's a soft and cozy read that will make you feel good.

The Story
Anna Henderson is guilty of one thing: trusting the wrong man. Now she's on the run, seeking a town where she can hide. Find a job. Save up for an apartment for herself and Epic. Build a new life. She hopes.

Lucky for Anna, no one knows more about second chances than Joel Ash. Battling his past, Joel has become a successful restaurateur, compassionate enough to want to help others.

But when Anna’s past catches up with her, both their lives are thrown into turmoil. His only thought is to protect Anna, and their possible future together, at any cost.

The Characters
Anastasia "Anna" Henderson is on the run from Utah with Epic, her Great Pyrenees dog. She was raised by her grandparents until her grandfather died when she was fifteen; her grandmother at seventeen. She's been on her own ever since.

Joel Ash, a victim of foster care, hates people screaming at each other. Brooke, a hairdresser, is one of Joel's housemates. Chess is another housemate, a software engineer who works in Dallas most days.

Quintin, Texas
The 50s-style J's Parkview Diner is owned by Joel. Sam quit last week. Courtney and Adam, one of the managers, are part of his crew.

Liam Graff is Anna's ex-boyfriend, starting up an advertising agency in Utah. Callie was a coworker at the agency. Rick is a private detective who owes Liam.

Paul has been dating Brooke. The Ziegler family was Joel's last placement and where he met Brooke. Dr Terrance is Anna's attending.

The Cover and Title
The cover is warm in its browns. Anna, with her shoulder-length, wavy and dark honey blonde hair, is in a cream cable sweater and Joel, with his short dark brown hair and dark button-down, are in profile with Anna's manicured hands cupping his face, noses side by side, smiles on their faces. At the very top is an info blurb in white with the author's name immediately below it (and above Anna's and Joel's heads). The title, in white, starts just below Anna's shoulder. The series information is at the very bottom in white.

The title is where Anna will be, Safe in His Arms.
Profile Image for Tracy Sylvester.
814 reviews7 followers
June 7, 2017
Anna's story has you on the edge of your seat the entire read. Strength, deep faith, and a desire to be truly loved..this story has it all. This story covers takes you through the difficult childhoods each has had to face. Their ability to overcome great odds, and an adorable pet named Epic. All things come together to make an incredible, intriguing story. You can't go wrong with Joel and Anna's story.
Profile Image for Megan.
1,591 reviews192 followers
August 1, 2019
This was a quick and easy read with a nicer story to go with it. Anastasia is fleeing Utah to escape her ex, who tried to hurt her and is just a terrible person. She arrived is Texas and applies at Joel's diner. The romance was a little instantaneous, but it was sweet too and I loved how he showed her how a good man treats a woman. The ending wrapped everything up well.
Profile Image for Pamela.
741 reviews
May 24, 2017
Loved it

What a wonderful story, I literally could not put it down. This is my first book by this author but it will not be my last.
Profile Image for Julie Jobe.
259 reviews
May 12, 2016
Safe In His Arms was an enjoyable read. It took me a little bit to get into the story and the characters, but once I did, I enjoyed the book. Anna has been through some rough events in her life and she struggles to trust others and to accept help from them. At first, she rejects Joel’s attempts to help her which was a little frustrating, but after learning more about her backstory, I understood better her difficulty in accepting help from others. Still, I was very glad to see her finally recognize the friends God was placing her life to be there for her. In spite of what has happened to her or maybe because of it, Anna is resourceful and determined which I think are two characteristics that draw Joel to her. Joel is a fixer. He wants desperately to fix problems for those he loves so everyone can be at peace and be happy. It’s hard for him when Anna steps back from his offers to help to begin with, but he doesn’t push. I admired Joel for his patience and consistency in reaching out to Anna, but not pushing her too far and calmly dealing with her overreactions to his desire to help. I also appreciated his desire to put her first. I am looking forward to the other books in this series—I’m hoping they will include Brooke’s and Chess’ stories.

**I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Crystal Walton.
Author 16 books221 followers
May 24, 2016
It was great to see Melanie spin together a fresh new set of characters in this opening to a new series. True to her style, she paints a family-centered atmosphere where the characters' camaraderie and support draw you into their circle as one of their own. SIHA also weaves in a hint of suspense that leaves you rooting for the characters from the first scene. Add a lovable and protective dog to the mix, and you've got a fun story of friendship, faith, and love. If you've enjoyed Melanie's Love's Compass Series, I think this new venture will be right up your alley.
Profile Image for Jennifer Lara.
723 reviews2 followers
August 9, 2021
Safe in His Arms by Melanie D. Snitker is the first book in the Life Unexpected series. Anna Henderson is running, running for her life. Her ex-boyfriend will stop at nothing to find her. She’s determined to leave her past behind her and put as much distance as she can between them. She comes to the little town of Quinton, Texas and she believes it is the perfect place to lay low as she figures out her next move. She walks into the local diner looking for a job. Joel Ash, the diner’s owner, is intrigued by Anna and hires her on the spot. He believes in second chances, having pulled himself out of a rough past and looks to help others do the same. Anna is determined to hide her past, Joel knows there’s more to her story and gently helps her see that she can trust him. As they get to know each other, the deeper their connection becomes, but the threat of her ex-boyfriend is always in the back of her mind. Will she open her heart to Joel and trust him? Or will she keep running?
Safe in His Arms is an inspirational Christian novel about faith, new beginnings, and overcoming fear. It is a sweet story with suspense. The message of faith and trust in God and each other is not overly preachy and adds to the romance and healing that Anna goes through. I enjoyed all the characters. Anna is a woman who has lost the only family she knew, trusted the wrong man and was stung. As she runs, she’s determined not to trust another soul again. Her only companion is her dog, Epic. But when she meets Joel and his makeshift family of Brooke and Chess, she can’t help but want to be a part of it. The ex-boyfriend is a creepy character that the reader knows will pop up eventually and the suspense builds as the reader knows what the characters do not. I enjoyed the budding relationship between Joel and Anna. It is a sweet romance with real heart and soul. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and visiting the small town of Quinton, Texas and these characters again. I highly recommend Safe in His Arms.

Safe in His Arms is available in paperback and eBook.
February 25, 2023
Anna is on the run from her dangerous ex when she ends up in Quintin, Texas. She is living out of her van with her dog, Epic, until she gets a job at a diner and forms new friendships while trying to get back on her feet. Her new boss, Joel, is concerned about Anna when he finds her living in her van. He wants to help her but she seems skittish and doesn't want to talk about her past. As time goes on, Anna begins to build a life for herself in Quintin and opens up to love again. The only problem is the past isn't far away and she has to decide whether to open up to those she has grown close to or to run away before trouble finds her.

This was a cute romantic suspense with Christian values. However, the suspense didn't really come into play until near the end of the story. Most of the book was about Anna starting over and learning to trust others. I liked Anna as a character but I wish she would have opened up to Joel sooner. I think it would have grown their relationship in a more natural way. I also think the book did a good job of introducing the side characters for future books in the series. All in all, this was a good read that I enjoyed but not one that necessarily stands out.
Profile Image for Sarah.
182 reviews14 followers
July 22, 2017
I loved everything about this book. From the characters, to the setting; more than once I wanted to pack up my things and move to Quintin.

Joel was sweet and protective, and I loved how he looked out for his chosen family to the best of his ability. Anastasia, I wanted to hug her so many times and tell her that she wasn't alone or that she didn't have to carry her secret to the grave like she'd planned, but I think she figured that out for herself in the end. Brooke and Chess were great secondary characters, and Epic is probably the most adorable dog that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I want my own Epic now, but a dog like that requires extra living space and a huge backyard, both of which I have neither.

I enjoyed the way the drama played out and the resolution it came to; it flowed very naturally, and didn't seem to try too hard.

I'm looking forward to Brooke's story in the next installment, as soon as I'm able to grab it.
666 reviews7 followers
February 18, 2021
What a good book this is! It’s so easy to relate to all the main characters. They never give up, even when the odds are against them. You feel the emotion and struggles from the first chapter and thus keep turning the pages.

Anna … strong yet weak, brave yet scared, fragile yet unbreakable

Joel … kind with a heart full of love

Chess … a heart of gold underneath the protective armor he wears

Brooke … couldn’t ask for a better friend

Liam … he was his own worst enemy, he who laughs first, laughs last.

There’s all kinds of abuse. Sometimes it’s physical, other times it’s mental and emotional. When does it end? Anna knows this all too well. She had to get away, escape but how, where?

It all looked bleak. But Anna found out that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Her grandmother taught her to have faith, to trust and believe. And that faith paid off. She might have lost everything, but she gained the world …. a family.
1,289 reviews26 followers
September 16, 2017
Safe in His Arms is a great romantic suspense story. Anastasia is running from a controlling and abusive ex-boyfriend (there are no details – this is not a violent story). Thinking she covered her tracks, she ends up in a small town looking for work in Joel’s diner. Joel is an orphan who lived in foster homes a good portion of his life.

The balance between romance and suspense was very well done. The pace of the story was steady and appropriate. And the characters were endearing, especially Epic, Anna’s Grand Pyrenees.

There are references to God and prayer in this story, so if you are offended by the least mention, this isn’t a story for you, but it is not preachy nor are the mentions prevalent.

This review was originally posted on Among the Reads
Profile Image for JaneReads.
705 reviews13 followers
February 27, 2022
I enjoyed this story more than I thought it would. I can't really explain why I went into thinking I wouldn't like it, but that's what I was thinking. The story opens with Anna on the run from an ex-boyfriend, arriving in a new town and trying to start over. She needs to find a job and a place to live. She is able to get a job and meets Joel. As these two get to know one another feelings begin to grow, but Anna is hesitant to open up due to past experiences. Joel does not push her but rather shows her he will be there for her no matter what has happened in the past because he likes her because of who she is. I love when a guy is protective but not pushy. Each time I put the book down I kept thinking about it and wondering what was going to happen with Anna. Will her ex find her or can she move forward in her new life? I was really drawn to both Anna and Joel, but also the two friends Brooke and Chess. I now need to get book so I can find out what the future holds for Brooke and Chess.
Profile Image for Alex L Criddle.
652 reviews5 followers
August 10, 2017
This was a sweet, clean Christian romance mixed with just the right amount of suspense. The characters were likable and the writing was engaging. Anna and Joel's attraction to one another was described well and their relationship progressed in a timely manner. It was a surprise and also interesting to read snippets from the antagonist's point of view; it definitely added to the suspense of the story. I was invested in finding out what would happen and found it difficult to put this novel down. I look forward to seeing more of Anna and Joel and finding out what happens between Brooke and Chess.
1 review
January 14, 2021
Awesome book, really love the way the characters rely on God through all. One of the amazing gifts of God in this novel was the dog, Epic. Judging by how Anastasia got to get acquainted with the dog and the fact that one one showed up to claim the dog, showed that it wasn't a coincidence. I believe God placed Epic in Anna's path for her well being in future.
This clearly shows that sometimes what seems like mere coincidences are chips of God's plan for your well-being and safety later in future.
Melanie really did a good job, more grace to the elbow.
Can't wait to read the next one in the series #Someone to Trust
Profile Image for RedEnigma94.
766 reviews15 followers
October 1, 2022
Beautiful Story!

I read another book by this author and was so impressed by the beautiful romance and Christian elements. This one is no different. Absolutely loved Anastasia's strength and faith, as well the strong bond and faith of all the characters, even through all they'd been through. There were a couple of times where I felt like Anastasia was being just a little too stubborn in refusing help from Joel, but it was understandable. Joel's faith and kindness and compassion is the epitome of a true hero. This book was absolutely amazing and the suspense elements were a wonderful bonus! Loved Brooke and Chess too, and can't wait to read the other books in this series.
Profile Image for Rebekah Morris.
Author 105 books224 followers
May 15, 2017
While I didn't like the physical side of this book (how someone smelled, how their skin felt when it brushed the other person's hand, etc) I did like the characters. I was pulled into the story of Anna and wanted her safe. And her dog was a fun "character." There was some prayer and mention of God, but there were a few places I wished it was stronger. I was glad that they characters weren't "stupid" about the bad guy and actually handled things the right way.
Overall, though I did enjoy the story, it wasn't my favorite by this author.
523 reviews2 followers
January 29, 2021
Best Christian romance ever!

I haven't read this great of a book in a very long time! The characters were a little young for ME, but not for most readers of romance, I'm sure. The plot, though, was ageless & very good! I couldn't figure out what Liam would do, yet I knew all would come right in the end. The trust in God was shown throughout the book, but not so much that the plot was lost. So nice to read a CLEAN (or sweet, as they're calling them) romance! Kudos, high 5, & thumbs up to this author.😁🙏😁
Profile Image for Cat Brown.
2 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2017
Safe In His Arms was my first book by Melanie D. Snitker and it was a wonderful read, I could not put it down once I started! She did an amazing job of making the story of Anna and Joel come to life. The story had in itself a great christian viewpoint/plot with a level of suspense, romance, and mystery. This will not be my last read by Melanie! I can't wait to find out what happens in the rest of the series and also with her other books! I definitely recommend this book !
Profile Image for Nancy.
2,141 reviews70 followers
August 2, 2017
Sweet Romance

Anna is a young woman running away from a criminal boyfriend. She has her large dog , Epic with her and is living in her van until she finds a town to settle down in. In Quintin, TX she finds a job and much more. Lovely story.
The Christian element is quite light. There is a nice simplicity in style here. Joel, Chess and Brooke (former foster kids who have built their own strong family) are the other main characters. Bad guy is Liam.
772 reviews5 followers
January 4, 2019
I'm enjoying this new (to me) author, and she did not disappoint with this book! A sweet clean romance with a twist of suspense about "family" made up of non-blood related friends who help and support each other unconditionally. Despite difficult pasts, self-doubt and other issues, our H and h meet, fall in love, and add to the "family". I also enjoyed the Great Pyrenes dog who's a sweetheart and saves the day! I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Melissa.
22 reviews3 followers
January 29, 2019
Engrossing story, Great characters.

This is my first book by this author, I really enjoyed it. Well paced, moving, relatable characters, intriguing story, sincere not over the top romance. The end feels like a bit of a cliffhanger but I have a feeling the characters will be followed into book #2. I adored Epic the dog as well, what a hero he was. I hope to read more about them all soon! I will be looking for it! Definitely recommend this book.
Profile Image for Dorothy Roller.
477 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2019
This is a great romance and suspense thriller that I was pulled right into. It’s also a story about kids in the foster care system that were friends and formed a family to watch over and help each other. Also a story of making mistakes and friendships with total understanding of each other and their own mistakes and family saving family. Great characters, great scenes, an awesome story I couldn’t put down as you get get sucked right into the pages and it only lets go at the last page.
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