30 August 2016

Review: Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Not Eason's Best

I don’t know if this is a true story or not. But it’s good, and it illustrates a point:

A couple were in court asking for a divorce. The judge asked the husband why he wanted a divorce. “Because she’s always reading and won’t stop reading when I talk to her.” The judge asked the wife the same question. Her answer? “Because he always talks to me when I’m trying to read.”

I had a similar problem while reading Without Warning. My family kept wanting me to talk to them or do their laundry or cook their meals. And the result is that I’m not sure if I found it difficult to get into Without Warning because of the constant interruptions, or if it just wasn’t that gripping or engaging. And it’s romantic suspense. It’s supposed to be gripping and engaging.

When I finished Without Warning, I felt ‘meh’. I felt like finishing it was a chore, and I was relieved it was over.

A week later, I can’t remember a single thing about the book. Yet I still don’t know if that was the fault of my beloved family and their constant interruptions, or the fault of the book. It got 4½ stars from Romantic Times, which says their reviewer enjoyed it, so maybe it’s just me.

Here’s the Amazon description:

Taut Writing and Breakneck Pacing That Will Keep Readers Up All Night

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he's not convinced that a bodyguard--and a female one at that--is necessary. A new attack and his niece's urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who's behind the intimidation and threats--before a would-be killer strikes again.

Witty dialogue and a simmering attraction will have readers flying through this tension-laced thriller. Eason exercises complete control of her readers' emotions as they race through the pages to discover the truth.

Okay, that reminds me of a few things. Like there was too much sexual tension between Daniel and Kate considering he’s supposed to be her client. And the big reveal of the evildoer didn’t entirely make sense. It’s not that it’s a bad novel, more that I didn’t engage with the plot of the characters, and she has written better books.

And, no, I didn't find it kept me up at night. More the opposite.

Thanks to NetGalley and Revell for providing a free ebook for review.

29 August 2016

Clash of the Titles: August 2016

Clash of the Titles

Hot! Hot! Hot! Vote for your Fave!

Scroll through these FOUR new releases and cast your vote for the one you'd pick up first to read.
I know it's hard!

Fight for Liberty by Theresa Linden Prompted by the inner voice that has guided her for years, Liberty is compelled to bring the freedom she now possesses to others suppressed by the all-controlling government. While unsure of how to carry out this mission, she is willing to risk all to accomplish it.

An Elegant Facade by Krisit Ann Hunter Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season; with money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. As their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.

Defying Shadows by Ashley Townsend Sarah travels back to the twelfth century and discovers that a ghost from her past has returned to Serimone, intent on changing the future. Time is quickly running out to stop him, and her life is put on the line as she must decide between returning to the safety of her world, and entrusting her future with a hero of the past as they attempt to save history.

One Thursday Morning by T.K. Chapin
Running not only for her own life, but that of her unborn baby, Serenah moves across the country to a little town outside of Spokane Washington called Newport. It's here she'll begin to build a new life and go by a different name in the hopes of staying hidden from her abusive husband John. 
If you have trouble viewing the entire survey, August 2016 Clash Surveyclick here to load a dedicated page to the survey

26 August 2016

Book Recommendation: Evan and Darcy by Melanie Coles

Amazon Description

Jane Austen gets a little dusty in this outback retelling of a beloved story about a man who learns that first impressions can be wrong when you’re looking for Ms Right.

Wheat farmer Evan Bennet is happy being single until his brother falls for the new girl in town, wealthy hotel owner Claire Bingley. Suddenly finding a girl seems more appealing…unless you’re talking about Claire’s best friend, pretentious lawyer Darcy Fitzwilliam. Her cold manners have Evan seeing red, and when a cute girl with links to Darcy’s past catches his eye, he’s even more determined to dislike her.

When a startling revelation turns Evan’s world upside down and he unexpectedly crosses Darcy’s path again, he’s forced to reassess his opinion of her. But just as he starts to open his heart, a crisis engulfs his family, threatening to destroy any hope of a future with Darcy.
With a cloud hanging over his family, Evan knows his chance of winning Darcy’s heart is gone… until some surprising news and a generous gift leave him wondering if her heart might be his after all.

My Review

I read an early draft of Evan and Darcy, and could tell at once that it was a great concept that would grab readers: a modern Australian retelling of the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice, but with the added twist of a gender swap.

Yes, Evan is now farmer Evan Bennet, the second of the five Bennet boys, and Darcy is now Ms Darcy Fitzwilliam, lawyer. The novel has all the other familiar P&P characters: the overbearing Mrs Bennet, the irritating younger Bennets (now brothers), the Bingleys, the de Burghs, Miss Collins, and Jemma Wickham. And none of them are any more likeable than Jane Austen's version.

This is probably the main failing of Evan and Darcy: too many characters are best described as cliche. But that's an unfair criticsm because it's also the strength of the novel: that the author has managed to capture the annoying essence of characters we know so well that they have become cliches, and recreate them in a modern setting.

The plot follows all the main high points of the original (including Darcy's cringeworthy proposal), but set in a farming community. Perfect Jamie Bennet is happy to remain on the family farm, but Evan's passion is wine—he'd love to own a vineyard and make wine (no, he's not a drunkard. He leaves that to his younger brothers). This works well.

Overall, this is a well-executed Pride and Prejudice variation, and I'll look forward to seeing what Melanie Coles can do with the rest of Jane Austen's novels.

Note: Evan and Darcy is a general market romance novel, and while it's true to the original and doesn't have any hot-and-heavy scenes, it does have occasional low-level language (what Aussie farmers would consider normal vocabulary, but which conservative Christians might not appreciate).

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. And a big thank you to Melanie Coles for her kind words in the acknowledgements!

You can read the introduction to Evan and Darcy here:

25 August 2016

Review: The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L Rubart


Jake Palmer is a management trainer who makes a living encouraging others to read what’s on their label rather than believing lies about themselves. But following a horrific incident, he finds himself on a journey to read his own label—to believe the truth about himself instead of the lies he’s been fed by the people he loved most, to the point he’s forgotten who he was.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer is excellent. Excellent writing, excellent characters, excellent plot, and an excellent message about learning and believing the truth about ourselves, not the lie. It’s a novel of spiritual and emotional healing, subtly making the excellent point that the physical healing so many people search for is secondary to spiritual healing.

The metaphor (and I truly can’t believe I’m writing that in a book review!) of forgetting who we are is apt: I read an article yesterday which said most five-year-olds have creativity at near-genius levels. But we lose that as we get older until we become merely average. It’s the same message as Rubart shares with Jake Palmer’s story: we forget who we are, and we need to rediscover ourselves.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Recommended—although at over $10 for the ebook, you might want to treat yourself to the paperback.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about James L Rubart at his website, and you can read the introduction to The Long Journey to Jake Palmer below:

23 August 2016

Review: The Struggle: Mom and the Summertime Blues by the Smith family

The Struggle is Real.

Or so my teenage daughter informs me. And as I inform her, she has first-world problems. Patrice Smith has four teen and pre-teen daughters who also suffer from first-world problems, and any modern parent will recognise the “issues”. They will also know how difficult it can be to keep children entertained during the long summer holidays without taking out a second mortgage to pay for entertainment.

The Struggle is one of Patrice Smith’s solutions to that problem. She got her four daughters to co-write a book as a summer project. While the four daughters in the story are supposedly fictional, I suspect a good part of each daughter comes out (especially in their comments about their sisters!) That’s one of the best parts of the book—the authentic and original voices of each daughter.

The other best part is the content, which I found hilarious (from my point of view as the mother of teens. I suspect teens might have quite a different view). The sisters share their frustration at being forced to participate in horrific summer activities as math homework, weeding the garden, and running! In the morning! Basically, not having a vacation as it is defined by Google.

Mom makes things even worse by requiring that they eat healthy food, not eat junk food, and use natural remedies (which I mostly agreed with, but I do have to side with the girls when it comes to homemade sunscreen). As if things couldn’t get worse, Mrs Smith insists on punctuating these horrors with teachable moments (I’d insert a winky emoticon here if I could. But I’m not a teen, so I can’t).

Okay, so the plot wasn’t as cohesive as most fiction I read and the English often had that high school flavour … but that’s appropriate and to be expected in a book written by students aged 10 to 14 and published by their parents.

Mrs Smith, keep up the good work.

Girls, listen to your mother. One day you will wake up and realise you sound just like her … and that’s something to be proud of.

Homeschooling parents—this could make a great project for the year.

Other parents—kids refusing to help out? I’m sure they’d rather clean their rooms/the bathroom/the entire house than be forced to write a book.

Thanks to Patrice Smith for providing a free ebook for review, and for providing me with some amusing inspiration through the words of your daughters.

22 August 2016

Writing Helps to Heal Author Justine Johnston Hemmestad


by Justine Johnston Hemmestad

In 1990 my car was broadsided by a speeding city bus as I turned out of a parking lot - I was in a coma and had sustained a severe brain injury. I was paralyzed when I woke up from my coma, though I worked hard to walk again within a few months, and to relearn how to perform the basic functions of life.

I began to write when I was carrying my first child Megan, less than two years after my accident, as tool or a way to cope with feeling so alone in my disability and misunderstood. Writing, throughout the darkest part of my recovery—when everyone looked down on me and I had no one to talk to or relate with me—helped me to get my thoughts in focus, to learn new things, and to remember what was important to me. I felt bullied, my thoughts and perception were skewed, and I felt emotionally alone, isolated by my personal lacking (my speech was slurred; my reactions were slow, etc.).

http://faithbygracepublishing.com/products/truth-be-toldBut writing was my Savior. When I was so afraid and so filled with guilt for being disabled, writing offered me a safe and comforting place to go, where I could cry and feel loved. Writing was my confidante and gave me hope when the world was crushing me. Writing even helped me find out who I was, since everything about "me" seemed to have melted away with my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Writing helped me find my words to speak again. Writing was my purpose, and writing was my healing.

My novella, Truth be Told, is essentially the story of my recovery wrapped up in fictional characters in a different time and place. Everything is symbolic in my novella because symbolism itself taught me how to travel deep inside my thoughts and search until I found the answers. Symbolism aided my memory by the weight of its meaning.

The old man in my novella is symbolic of God, prayer, love of my children, and the inner truth I found when I dug deep, the challenges that stretched my mind and that I knew I had to face when I wanted to give up on life completely.

The Lady is the aspect of my recovery in which I felt lost, even to myself—I didn’t know who I was—but in prayer and meditation I learned to focus my mind, calm my thoughts (which were drowning in the guilt I felt for being disabled) and listen to God’s answer…what defines me?

The knight is the aspect of my recovery that was assaulted by PTSD. Not only was I recovering, but I was recovering amidst a torrent of fear, pain, and false persecution. He represents the survivor’s guilt I had for living as brain-injured, and the part of myself that felt I deserved the lies that people told about me simply because it was easy to lie about me. I illuminated my purpose— the purpose that any recovering person needs to be able to climb out of the darkness—symbolically as Jesus. When people lied about me, writing defended me and made the truth immortal. My purpose, as writing, was the well within me; writing saved me and gave me direction in life (even when I no longer had any sense of direction due to my TBI). There were people who tried to point me in the wrong direction, but my prayer, and written prayer, was always brimming with truth.

My purpose in writing raised me out of the darkness and set me on a new path. As my characters in Truth be Told founded one of the first Universities in Europe, my purpose led me to enter into college, to study tirelessly, and to set goals and reach them. For a person with a TBI, these things stretched my mind to the breaking point. And yet my savior, writing, was always there, so much that my purpose and my goals became intertwined. Every class I’ve had brought me new challenges; every professor’s pushing has helped me more than they were ever aware.

My husband and I now have seven children and I'm still writing, for both have truly been essential to my recovery. I've also earned a BLS through The University of Iowa and am now working toward a Master's Degree in Literature through Northern Arizona University. I’m grateful to have written a book that I felt so strongly, all along, could be of help to survivors, for them to recognize themselves in the characters and to know that they're not alone. I would have recognized myself in this story and it would have given me hope. My mission now is to give other survivors hope.

18 August 2016

I'm Reviewing at Reality Calling

Today I'm reviewing A Lady in Defiance. I was especially impressed by the spiritual content of this novel, so I'm reviewing it at Reality Calling in recognition of the redemptive nature.

Click here to read my review.

16 August 2016

Review: Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink

Not as Good as Sit Stay Love

I really enjoyed Dana Mentink’s first dog-themed book, Sit Stay Love (you can read my review here), and was thrilled to get a copy of Fetching Sweetness to review.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think it measured up to the high standard set by Sit Stay Love.

First, I found the beginning somewhat disjointed and hard to get in to. The heroine came across as scatty, and that’s never a good sign. Well, not for me. I also thought the early scenes felt contrived, as though their sole purpose was to get Stephanie and Rusty together. Yes, I know that’s exactly the purpose of opening scenes in any novel, especially a romance novel, but I should feel as though the events occurred naturally (at least, that’s how I usually feel). With Fetching Sweetness, it felt too much like the author had pulled a bunch of strings to get the characters where she needed them to be.

Once the story got going, it was excellent. It was a road trip with a difference as Stephanie and Rusty join forces to return the enormous and ungainly Sweetness to his owner, and battle some of their own personal issues along the way.

But then the end came, and that didn’t work for me either. I could explain why, but, well, spoilers. Suffice to say the ending was like the beginning, and neither were like the excellent middle. Yes, the end made sense—well, mostly—but it didn’t leave me with that ‘ahhh’ feeling I get from a great romance.

The characters were good, the writing was solid, and it was clearly a Christian novel with the spiritual growth from both main characters. But even the most brilliant writing and strongest Christian message isn’t enough to compensate for a shaky start and a meh end. Here’s hoping Paws for Love, the next in the series, will be back to the standard set by Sit Stay Love.

(As one final aside: the stories are standalones with no characters in common between the first and second book in the series. So you don’t miss anything by not reading one of them. Like this one).

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Dana Mentink at her website.

12 August 2016

Review: The Bluebonnet Bride by Pamela Tracy

Amazon Description

Amy has never had a home. Will she find one in the arms of a cowboy?

This is Daniel Starr's year. He's moving up the rankings on the bull-riding circuit and is determined to catch his twin brother. Nothing is going to stop him. Well, almost nothing. When his beloved grandmother falls and needs a caretaker, Daniel finds himself on the road back to Pecan, Texas, rather than making the next rodeo. Why did this happen now? And why, when he's jeopardizing his career to come home, does Miss Bossypants Amy Benjamin think he's not doing enough?

Amy knows all about the swashbuckling Starr Brothers, but anyone who turns his back on her beloved Pecan--and on his own grandmother--doesn't deserve admiration. If Amy had been lucky enough to have family like Grandma Starr, her life would have been so different! Well, she's going to make sure Daniel does his duty. But the longer he stays in Pecan, the harder it'll be to see him go…

My Review

This is a short romance novel, part of the Brides series, but it can easily be read as a standalone novel (or even out of order, as I mistakenly read The Butterfly Bride first).

I very much enjoyed the developing relationship between Amy and Daniel, partly because the writing was so good. Lines like this brought a smile to my face:
She'd been there, done that, and sold his belt buckle on eBay.
Funny. I like funny. And I liked The Bluebonnet Bride. The writing was excellent, the characters were fun, and there were a lot of quirky secondary characters which added depth without overwhelming the story. This can be a difficult path for authors of short novels, and Pamela Tracy trod the line well.

The two faults I found with The Bluebonnet Bride was the treatment of Christianity, and the length. My issue with the faith element was that people kept making a big deal of the fact Amy didn't go to church and everyone else did, including Daniel. I assumed this meant everyone except Amy was a Christian, so the romance couldn't get started until she'd also become a Christian (because that's normal in Christian fiction—unequally yoked and all that).

Yet I realised after finishing that none of the characters actually talked about God, only about going to church. And Amy certainly didn't have any revelation about God that would change her views on faith. It made the novel seem a little empty. On this basis, I'd categorise The Bluebonnet Bride as a 'clean read' rather than a Christian romance.

The length wasn't necessarily a problem: I knew it was going to be a short novel. It was more that the story finished abruptly at the 85% mark on my Kindle (right when I was expecting Amy's conversion scene), and the rest of the book is filled with excerpts from other books from the publisher—which was odd, because I don't recall this issue with The Butterfly Bride.

Thanks to Serenade Books for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Pamela Tracy at her website, and you can read the introduction to The Bluebonnet Bride below:

11 August 2016

Review: A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

Everything about A Heart Most Certain impressed me

Amazon Description

A Fresh Voice in Historical Romance!

While Lydia King's reasons for joining the Teaville Moral Society might be suspect to some members, her heart is in the right place. Because of her father's debts and her mother's persistent illness, her best chance at a secure future and curing her mother is to impress the politician courting her. Her first task--to ask the town's wealthiest man to donate--seems simple enough . . . until he refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas Lowe wants to help others, but prefers to keep his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, but Nicholas still intends to do things his own way. Neither predicts what they'll learn about true charity or foresee the complications their actions will bring to the town, forcing Lydia to decide where her beliefs and heart truly align.

My Review

Yes, A Heart Most Certain shows Melissa Jagears to be a fresh voice in historical romance (even if the title does sound more Siri Mitchell). Everything about A Heart Most Certain impressed me.

The writing was excellent, there was a clear and challenging Christian message, the plot was solid with plenty of twists and turns, and just enough predictability (hey, this is romance! There are some aspects we want to be predictable). And both lead characters were excellent—an intelligent heroine who wasn’t afraid to ask hard questions, and a truly heroic hero (okay, he might have been a bit too perfect. But that’s the closest I can get to a criticism about A Heart Most Certain).

Lydia and Nicholas are both excellent characters—complete opposites, so of course we know they are both going to have to change their views. The setting was portrayed well, both in terms of time and place—and reinforced why I’m glad I live now, not then. It’s also an example of how historical fiction can shine a light into some of our more modern social problems. We can be thankful for the truth of Nicolas’s words:

One day society will not condemn a man or woman for a past choice 
and instead discern and judge the heart.

We might not treat “sinners” in the same judgemental way as Mrs Light’s Teaville Ladies Moral Society does, but we still have to guard against turning our faith into a religion of rules. Melissa Jagears is to be commended for not shying away from difficult subjects like prostitution, but showing a proper Christian response to the problem.

Recommended for fans of Francine Rivers, Karen Witemeyer and Dawn Crandall.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free book for review. You can find out more about Melissa Jagears at her website: http://melissajagears.com/

9 August 2016

Review: Glasgow Grace by Marion Ueckermann

Enjoyable Scottish Romance

Amazon Description

Opera singer, Skye Hunter, returns to the land of her birth as leading lady in Phantom of the Opera. This is her first trip back to bonnie Scotland since her mother whisked her away to Australia after Skye’s father died sixteen years ago.When Skye decides to have dinner at McGuire’s, she’s not going there only for Mary McGuire’s shepherd’s pie. Her first and only love, Callum McGuire, still plays his guitar and sings at the family-owned tavern.

Callum has never stopped loving Skye. Desperate to know if she’s changed under her mother’s influence, he keeps his real profession hidden. Would she want him if he was still a singer in a pub? But when Skye’s worst nightmare comes true, Callum reveals his secret to save the woman he loves. Can Skye and Callum rekindle what they lost, or will her mother threaten their future together once again?

My Review

I’ve never quite understood the American fascination with Scotsmen, from Diana Gabaldon in the general market with Outlander (Crossstitch in the UK), Carla Laureano with Five Days in Skye in the Christian market, and Nick Hawkes with The Celtic Stone representing the Australian market. The Scotsmen I've met have all been very nice men, but nothing swoonworthy. Next you’re going to expect me to believe not all Navy SEALS are perfect Christian gentlemen, and not all cowboys are salt-of-the-earth types.

I also don't get how Callum and Skye two hadn’t reconnected online before now, if they really had that level of connection as teens. My teenage daughter Snapchats Every. Single. Day. with one of her friends from primary school in London, a boy she hasn’t seen for nine years. Yes, I get that Facebook and Snapchat didn’t exist sixteen years ago, but there was still email and internet chat rooms and FriendsReunited (mostly a UK site, but hey! this is set in Scotland which is still part of the UK. Although they might be rethinking that after Brexit). Robin Jones Gunn utilised internet chat rooms to in Echoes in 1995). Of course, it’s possible my teen isn’t normal …

So, leaving aside my lack of appreciation for the dark and cold northern land, and Skye and Callum’s lack of ability to utilise modern technology to stalk reconnect with old friends … Yes, this was a great romance novella.

I’m not always a fan of romance novellas where complete strangers meet and fall in love in a handful of pages. I prefer novellas like Glasgow Grace, where the characters have some kind of history to build on—it makes it seem more realistic to me. So I did enjoy that aspect of the story.

I also loved both Callum and Skye. Skye was perhaps a little naïve and innocent, but that’s not a bad thing. Callum was everything a hero should be—I might not see the fascination with Scotsmen, but I can certainly see the fascination with men who can sing. And play guitar. Especially at the same time. Swoon.

So the characters were great, the writing was good, and the plot was a perfect mix of predictable and unpredictable (hey, this is romance. There are certain things we expect as readers, and Glasgow Grace delivered with sleighbells. Okay, perhaps no sleighbells. But plenty of winter magic.)

Recommended for anyone who likes contemporary Christian romance in a non-US setting. Especially those who love Scotland and Scotsmen.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

You can find out more about Marion Ueckermann at her website (http://www.marionueckermann.net/), and you can read the introduction to Glasgow Grace below:

8 August 2016

Author Interview and Giveaway: Annette O'Hare Shares Her Inspiration

Authors get stories from so many different places and experiences. It's always interesting to discover where the inspiration comes from. Today, we'll hear from debut author, Annette O'Hare. Her historical romance, Northern Light has already garnered some terrific reviews!
From the first sentence to the book’s stunning conclusion, Annette O’Hare’s brilliant first novel Northern Light captured my heart. O’Hare’s storytelling is flawless and her grasp of Texas history is spot on. This tenth generation Texan heartily approves! Do yourself a favor and savor this meeting of North and South on the Bolivar peninsula. I promise it will be the best book you’ll read in a very long time! —Kathleen Y'Barbo, best-selling author of over 40 titles

My Inspiration For Writing Northern Light

By: Annette O’Hare

Annette O'Hare
There’s a wonderful phrase known to authors that says, write what you know. This simple idiom by Twain, or was it Faulkner, no…I think it might have been Thurber, no it was definitely Twain who said it. Whoever it was knew what they were talking about and that’s why I wrote Northern Light. The setting for my debut novel is the lighthouse on the Bolivar Peninsula on the Texas coast; a place near and dear to my heart. A place I know very well.

When I was a child growing up in Houston, Texas in the 1970’s, my family visited Bolivar every summer for fishing, swimming, and shell hunting. My father would drive our family of five to Galveston, and then onto a short ferry ride connecting Galveston Island with the Bolivar Peninsula.

The ferry ride was a favorite part of the vacation. We made playful bets concerning which ferry we would ride. Would it be the Cone Johnson, the E.H. Thornton Jr., the R.S. Sterling, or the Gibb Gilchrist? We knew each boat by name. My two older brothers and I would save back French fries and pinches of bread from our fast food meals. After the boat was loaded and the captain gave the safety speech, we would bolt for the back of the boat to feed the seagulls and dolphins.

http://annetteohare.com/images/misc/bolivarpoint-688.jpgI always knew the exact place the ferry would dock at the peninsula because Daddy told me to look for the landmark. It was hard to find at first, but the closer the ferry came to Bolivar, the bigger it became. By the time the boat landed, the Bolivar Point Lighthouse was as big as a skyscraper in this little girl’s eyes.

Once off the boat we drove past the iron lighthouse. Her light extinguished, she no longer lit the way for ships coming in or going out of Galveston Bay. Daddy always pointed out the two, abandoned keeper’s houses beside the lighthouse. He showed how one of the house’s nameplates read Boyt and the other, Maxwell. I didn’t understand the significance then, but later I realized the connection. Daddy’s aunt, my great aunt, was married to a Boyt, and she and her sister, my grandmother, were born with the surname Maxwell.

You’re probably wondering if my daddy’s family were the lighthouse keepers. No, the truth is that Mr. Boyt, my great-uncle, bought the lighthouse and property at an auction and it has been owned by that family ever since.

The original Bolivar Point Lighthouse dates back prior to the Civil War. In fact, it was during that war that the Confederates completely dismantled the lighthouse. Some accounts say it was so the Union wouldn’t use the light to their advantage. Others say the Confederate army used the iron for weapons and artillery. Nevertheless, the lighthouse was rebuilt shortly after the war. The great conical tower has seen over 150 years of United States history and it still stands tall on the Bolivar Peninsula to this day.


Visit Annette at AnnetteOHare.com

About Northern Light

Civil War has robbed Margaret Logan of all she holds dear, including her beloved New Orleans home and her fiancé. When her family moves to the desolate Bolivar Peninsula to manage a lighthouse that is no longer there, all her hopes for a normal future are dashed. Her world is rocked once again when a wounded Yankee soldier washes ashore needing her help. Despite her contempt for the North, Margaret falls in love with Thomas Murphy. As their love blooms, Margaret’s sister is overcome with neurosis, and her mind slowly slips away. Bitterness, psychosis and depression yield a decision fueled by contempt. Will one fatal choice cause Margaret to lose the man she loves and condemn Thomas to death?

Purchase Northern Light in e-book or paperback

Annette O'Hare has one free ebook to give away today. To be in to win, leave a comment and tell us why you'd like to read Northern Light!

(I'll draw the winner at 8am on Monday 15 August, New Zealand time).

5 August 2016

ARCBA tour - Ehvah After

1 - 5 August 2016

is introducing 

(August 25, 2015)

By Rose Dee

About the Book

Ehvah Rowe’s life is in freefall. Her teen queen status is long forgotten, and with a childhood of tragic loss, no family save a diabolical aunt, and no career prospects, her L.A. celebrity world holds no future.

It will take a murder, an escape to the Australian tropics, and the friendship of an Aussie bodyguard, for her to discover healing, faith, and a way forward.

David Blake knows how to be a soldier. His army training equipped him to fight and protect. But when it comes to helping a fear-filled celebrity navigate the same post-traumatic stress symptoms he has suffered, David discovers the challenge in forsaking his own strength for God’s plan.

Rose Dee weaves a story of mystery, drama and romance, in her trademark tropical North Queensland Australian style. 

About the Author

Rose Dee was born in Ingham, North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel. Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, decided to try her hand at writing. 

The result of that attempt is her first novel, Back to Resolution. Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. Rose's other releases include Beyond Resolution - the second book in the 'Resolution' series. And A New Resolution  the final book in the series. 

Rose has also co-written a novel in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian Authors: The Greenfield Legacy. Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband, young son, and mischievous pup, Noodle.

My Review

I worked with Rose on the editing for Ehvah After, and it's a great story in her trademark Aussie style. You can read my review at Suspense Sisters Reviews: Ehvah After.

4 August 2016

Review: Taste for Danger by Alexa Verde

Fast-paced Romantic Suspense

Amazon Description

Small-town librarian Soledad Sokolova has three days to find a hidden Russian treasure -- or she and her father will die. Out of options, she turns for help to a hunky stranger, private investigator James O'Hara. But she knows better than to let a ladies' man break her heart for the second time. Bound by his word to Soledad's father, James is ready to protect her at all costs. However, once betrayed, he's reluctant to fall in love again. Will James and Soledad escape danger and find treasures of faith, love, and hope?

Secrets of Rios Azules series: sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. Welcome to Rios Azules, a small Texas town where rivers and emotions run deep, and the secrets are deadly. Prequel River of Danger (Jacob and River), Book 1 Color of Danger (Luke and Mari), Book 2 Taste of Danger (James and Soledad), Book 3 Scent of Danger (Connor and Maya).

My Review

“Wholesome books about love, faith and murder”. 

Well, you’ve got to love Alexa Verde’s byline. And it’s accurate, because Taste of Danger had a strong Christian plotline, with Soledad as a strong Christian and James falling somewhere between lapsed Christian and complete unbeliever--at least at the beginning. I would have liked to have understood his spiritual journey a little better, but I suspect that would have gotten in the way of the fast-paced plot.

And Taste of Danger was fast-paced—it felt like I was on a non-stop roller coaster from the beginning to the end as James and Soledad try and solve the clues to find her father before the three-day deadline expires. The chase provided the couple with plenty of opportunities for deep discussions, where James challenges Soledad about her inferiority complex (a gift from an abusive ex), and they get to eat some delicious sounding meals (the meals were definitely the worst part of the book, because I’M TRYING TO DIET AND THIS ISN’T HELPING. Sorry. Perhaps I should have taken the title more literally).

Seriously, I wish I lived closer to south Texas and Rios Azules, because the restaurants sounded fantastic. In fact, the whole town sounded fantastic (well, if the town didn’t feature such a dangerous criminal element).

Taste of Danger is part of a series, and while it is a standalone novel, it’s probably best to read the series in order. I didn’t, and I did sometimes feel I was missing background information because of that. Oddly enough, I now find I have read the final book, Scent of Danger, as part of the Smoke and Mirrors box set, and I found that made a better standalone novel. Go figure.

Overall, the plot was perfect romantic suspense, with solid writing, excellent Christian themes, and two wounded but realistic characters. A quick and enjoyable read for Christian romantic suspense fans. Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

You can find out more about Alexa Verde at her website (http://alexaverde.com/), and you can read the introduction to Taste of Danger below:

1 August 2016

Author Spotlight: How Susan Page Davis Turned a Journal into a Popular Novel

This week, we're pleased to feature the winner of the July Clash of the Titles competition. Susan Page Davis is the author of more than sixty published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and also a winner of the Carol Award,  the Will Rogers Medallion, and was a finalist in the WILLA Awards and the More Than Magic Contest.

A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Her historical romance The Outlaw Takes a Bride is a finalist in the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Awards. 

Her latest accomplishment is having her brand new June release, River Rest, be chosen as the July Clash of the Titles victor.

We asked Susan to tell us a little about writing River Rest. Here's what she had to say.

CBA: What made you choose the setting for your story?

SPD: My great-aunt left a journal she wrote in the 1920s and ’30s. It gave such a vivid picture of life in rural Maine that I wanted to write a story in that setting. I decided to push it back to 1918, near the end of World War I, because of the added tension and also because my grandfather (Aunt Belle’s brother-in-law) served in WWI. He was drafted close to the end of the war, and I adapted some details of his story to fit in for my heroine, Judith’s brother. River Rest is purely fiction, but many of the events in it were inspired by things that really happened in my family.

CBA: Do your characters have anything in common with real people?

SPD: In real life, my grandmother (Aunt Belle’s sister) was a schoolteacher before she married my grandfather. Judith has a lot in common with both my Nana and Aunt Belle. She loves her bird feeder, she learns to make quilts, and she cooks many of the same things my Nana served. Her life on the farm is a lot like theirs was. I love Judith because she keeps on, even when she is tempted to fall into depression as her father did. She knows people are depending on her, so she perseveres.

CBA: You mention your story was inspired by your great-aunt's journal. What's the best thing you learned from reading what she wrote?

SPD: My Great-aunt Belle, who wrote the journal, died in 1939, long before I was born. She was 55, and she died from complications of appendicitis. I never got the chance to know her, and I would love to be able to sit down with her for a cup of tea. As a side note, I had acute appendicitis myself in 1985, and it was no fun then, with modern medicine to help me out. Aunt Belle noted so many cultural things in her diary—who she voted for, the famous boxers of the day, the way the neighboring farm boys were building tractors out of truck chassis, and all the community events and gossip. She never had children of her own, but she doted on her nieces and nephews. I think I would have loved her.

Thanks to Susan for her insights. You may visit her at her website at: www.susanpagedavis.com.

River Rest sounds like an interesting read. Here's more about the book:

Unable to depend on her father to heal the crumbling family, Judith is afraid to trust the mysterious neighbor, Ben, who lives with his own grief.

Maine, 1918

Judith Chadbourne gave up her teaching job after her mother’s death to help her father with her five siblings. But when her father sinks into deep depression and her brother Joel is drafted, the household chores and farm work may overwhelm her. Neighbor Ben Thayer offers to buy their farm, shocking Judith and angering her father. An outsider from New York, Ben seems rich and mysterious, but his heart aches from his own loss. Judith accidentally breaks the antique crystal Christmas ornament her mother loved. The splintering star echoes her family’s shattering. Ben’s efforts to help make Judith suspicious, but when Joel falls critically ill at the army camp, Ben’s aid brings the beginnings of trust. After the armistice, and the community and family start to recover from the strain of the war, but Judith learns independence is lonely. When Ben is injured, she is the only one who can help him. Can love take her beyond the frozen Maine winter?

If you're into period romances, be sure to check this one out! A plethora of people voted this into their TBR pile. You might want to join them!