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24 October 2014

Veil of Secrets by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

Out of the Christian Rut

Publisher’s Description

Melanie and Will Connors are the perfect power couple. Will is the chief campaign strategist for a rising presidential candidate; Melanie is a prominent advocate for protecting children in an over-sexualized culture. Their devotion to one another is admired, even envied.

But their marriage isn’t what it appears to be.

Will maintains an apartment in Washington, DC, and over the years his visits home have grown fewer and farther between. The long-distance marriage has enabled Melanie to avoid intimacy—and has only increased her shame about her secretive past. But then Will issues an ultimatum: We work on the marriage . . . or we work on the divorce.

The Connors commit to marriage counseling in the most brutal of environments—snowy New Hampshire, a tiny state that is first in the nation for presidential primaries and a prize to be won at any cost . . . and the price of victory keeps rising.

As Melanie sifts through the debris of her past, she obsesses over the fear that she hasn’t done enough to protect her teenage daughter. When Melanie sees her facing some of the same temptations, she knows she must intervene . . . but how can a woman with so many veiled secrets guide a
daughter honestly?

While the country struggles with threats to its integrity and security, Melanie can no longer ignore the dangers looming in her own world. She can never undo the mistakes of her youth, but perhaps she can still save her marriage and family—if she can surrender her guilt and learn to open herself to her husband once again.

My Review

There is a sameness about a lot of Christian novels. The characters are “good” Christians, whose main faults are emotional, not physical. Veil of Secrets is different. To be blunt, it’s about sex (not that there are any sex scenes. It’s more about the consequences of bad decisions around sex). These are characters who live in the real world, where otherwise intelligent people still sometimes do stupid things, and then have to work out how to live with the consequences. I liked that. Not that the characters did dumb things, but that the authors showed a realness not often seen in novels from Christian publishers.

Veil of Secrets was a more complex book than most I read. There were a lot of characters, and it probably took longer than it should have for me to work out who was related to whom and how. This might have been a bit easier if I’d read the first book in the series (To Know You), but reading the first book isn’t necessary for the story—Veil of Secrets can be read as a standalone novel.

The other layer of complexity in Veil of Secrets was the plot. As well as the obvious political background of the beginning of a presidential campaign, there was the issues plots: the “good Christian” career woman who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand, and the broken marriage of a Christian couple. Shannon Ethridge has an extensive background in ministry around healthy sexuality and spirituality, and this comes through in the counselling scenes.

Recommended for mature audiences (meaning that a lot of Christian fiction appeals to a wide age group, from teens to grandparents. This won’t. The target reader is probably people like me: young professionals, married women, or parents of teens).

Thanks to BookLookBloggers and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Shannon Ethridge at her website, and more about Kathryn Mackel at her website.

23 October 2014

I'm reviewing Every Tear a Memory by Myra Johnson at ACW

Lovely Historical Romance

Every Tear a Memory is the third book in Myra Johnson’s Till We Meet Again series, and I hope it won’t be the last. It follows When the Clouds Roll By and Whisper Goodbye, and is also set in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We get the opportunity to catch up with the characters in the previous books, but Every Tear a Memory can easily be read as a standalone novel.

To read my full review, please visit Australasian Christian Writers.

You can find out more about Myra Johnson at her website, or visit Seekerville, where she is a contributing blogger.

21 October 2014

Review: Bound by Blood by Scott Springer

Book Description

Julia has accepted the Lord and is busy returning her life to order. She is not ready for love, especially when the new site foreman at work stirs up forgotten feelings. She knows a playboy when she sees one, but to Rick Mercado the attraction between them is surprisingly real. Other girls no longer interest him, and if she wants to play hard to get that's fine with him. Let the games begin!

What he doesn't realize is that her dangerous secret is not a game.

Julia's brother has returned from the street, strung out and in trouble with rival gangs. Loyalty to her brother draws Julia deeper into a world of drug deals and thugs. Rick doesn't understand why Julia won't simply go to the cops, especially once the bullets start flying. As Julia slips further into a world of violence, Rick realizes how easily his heart can be broken. His brain says to run, but his heart isn't listening. It may already be too late.

BOUND BY BLOOD. Love and suspense, heartfelt moments and guns a blazing.

What a killer combination!

My Review

I recently read an article on gender bias in fiction—whether men are more represented as published writers, as reviewed writers, and as characters. It got me thinking, because I predominantly read and review titles written by women. I suspect, after reading the article, it’s because I mostly read and review in two areas—romance and Christian fiction—which are dominated by women (the membership of writer’s organisations such as RWA, RUAus, RWNZ or ACFW are 80% women or more).

I’ll also make an admission: I’ve discovered I prefer novels written by women, because I like the internal conflict, the character development and relationship, and I think that on average, women write people better than men. My reading history shows men are more likely to write shoot-em-up novels with little or no character development (e.g. James Patterson, Dan Brown). Yes, they make good movies. Yes, there are exceptions.

So Bound by Blood is a novelty for me: a novel written by a man. A man who knows how to write good characters with strong internal conflict who change and grow by the end of the novel. Yes, there was a lot of action in the novel, but it was action driven by the plot, not action for the sake of filling a chapter or two.

Bound by Blood has a different setting than most Christian novels. I find most of the novels I read are set in a sanitised middle-class America, where even people whose lives go wrong have strong Christian support networks to help them get back on their feet, whether family or friends. If people have financial or health problems, it’s because it’s a plot point, not a reality of daily life.

Bound by Blood is different, in that it’s showing a side of American life that’s representative of how many people live, and it’s not pretty. It’s gritty and edgy, and offers a real insight into the difficulties new Christians can face in moving away from their old lives and on in the faith. Well done.

Release Date: September 23, 2014, from Anaiah Press.

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Author Bio:

Scott Springer spent his youth playing pretend and dreaming of being a writer. As an adult he worked as a carpenter before becoming a software developer. Having produced much, his two children remain his proudest accomplishment. His wife led him to the Lord, and he’s glad that she did. You can find him at his website, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.

Bound by Blood is available to buy at
Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.

20 October 2014

Trailer Reveal: Hunter by Renee Donne

Hunter trailer reveal banner

Anaiah Press is proud to present the trailer reveal for YA novel HUNTER by Renee Donne.

Hunter coverMoving across the country isn’t Hunter’s ideal start to her Junior year of high school. She has no friends to hang out with, no beaches to lounge on, and she’s living just a few miles from the secluded hiking trail where her father died when she was a baby.
Living in Wyoming isn’t all bad, though, thanks to Logan, the handsome veterinary assistant at the animal clinic where she lands an after school job. And he seems just as interested in her as she is in him.
As Hunter begins to settle into her new home, she learns more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s tragic death, and it may not have been the accident everyone believes. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, and Hunter might be the next victim.

Release Date: June 9, 2015
Add HUNTER to Goodreads!
And now for the trailer...

About the Author
Renee DonneRenee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she's a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she's a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.


Review: At Bluebonnet Lake by Amanda Cabot

Excellent Contemporary Christian Romance

When advertising executive Kate Sherwood and her grandmother, Sally Fuller, arrive at Rainbow’s End resort in the Texas Hill Country, it’s nothing like the beautiful Christian resort her grandmother had described. It’s not even like the brochure’s “faux-tography” (I like that word!). She meets Greg, who she thinks is the resort handyman, but soon finds out he’s another guest. So why is he repairing the cottages? Why is he even at Rainbow’s End?

We find out Greg’s secret background soon enough: he’s a Silicon Valley boy wonder who sold his majority share in an extremely successful software company for an obscene amount of money, and now he’s staying at Rainbow’s End while he works out what God wants him to do with his life. This initially caused me some concern, because the “Career Woman meets Secret Billionaire” concept had the potential to become a cheesy cliché.

It didn’t.

Yes, it seemed at first that Kate was the archetype of the driven career woman who resents the fact that she’s being made to spend a month at this run-down resort, at the expense possible of a much-desired promotion. And there was the potential for Greg to be little more than the software nerd he saw himself as, but Kate saw more in him. As a result, what could have been a cheesy romance turned into something more complex as Kate and Greg got to know each other, and subtly challenged each other to rethink their long-held beliefs about career (Kate) and family (Greg).

I’ve read a couple of Amanda Cabot’s historical romances, but At Bluebonnet Lake is her first contemporary novel. Not all authors can write both historical and contemporary fiction convincingly, but Amanda Cabot can, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading Firefly Valley, the sequel to At Bluebonnet Lake, when it releases next year.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Amanda Cabot at her website.