Month: August 2017

Law or Mercy

Law or Mercy?

It’s Throwback Thursday! Law or Mercy previously appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers on 13 July 2016.

I recently had the opportunity (if that’s the right word) to serve my local community as the member of a jury, one of twelve men and women charged with determining whether a local man was guilty of robbery (spoiler: we agreed he was).

I found the whole process fascinating, and not just as a long-time fan of legal thrillers (and I’m pleased my jury service was nothing like Demi Moore’s, in The Jury by John Grisham). Our defendant, predictably, pleaded not guilty.

By the end of the trial I was convinced of two things:

  1. He was guilty
  2. He genuinely believed he hadn’t done anything that warranted a court appearance, let alone a guilty verdict.

I see the same thing in society: non-Christians who genuinely believe it’s enough to be a “good person”. That when the day of judgement comes, they’ll be on the high side of the scales of justice.

I won’t go into why I and the rest of the jury decided our defendant was guilty: It’s a requirement of jury service that we don’t talk about the case except in general terms, and that we don’t discuss the debates conducted in the privacy of the jury room. But I will comment on my perception of the defendant’s beliefs, based on what he said.

Guilty or Not Guilty?

The defendant believed he was innocent because he didn’t know New Zealand law considers the person who aids or abets or influences to be an equal party to the crime as the person who actually commits the crime. It didn’t matter that the defendant wan’t the robber, because the law gives no mercy.

In the same way, God’s law applies whether you know the law or not. Break God’s law, and we’re guilty.

But with God, there is mercy.

The defendant believed he was innocent because he knew nothing about the crime actually committed. He thought they were going to do a big robbery, not a small one. But he knew a crime was going to be committed, and the law gives no mercy.

In the same way, God’s law doesn’t take the severity of the sin into account. Break God’s law, and we’re guilty.

But with God, there is mercy.

The defendant believed he was innocent because the intended victim was a rival criminal, as if robbing a criminal is somehow less of a crime than robbing an innocent member of society. But the defendant intended to commit a crime, and the law gives no mercy.

In the same way, God’s law applies whether the sin was intentional or unintentional. Break God’s law, and we’re guilty.

But with God, there is mercy.

The defendant believed he was innocent because he hadn’t participated of his own free will—he was coerced. But he did participate, and the law gives no mercy.

In the same way, God’s law applies whether we are forced into sin or we walk into sin with our eyes wide open. Break God’s law, and we’re guilty.

But with God, there is mercy.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, his standard. That if we fall in one area of the law, we are guilty of all. It’s guilty or not guilty. Black and white. Judgement is not a set of scales— being on the high side of the scales isn’t enough.

But the Bible also shows us a way out: Jesus. He has taken the punishment for our sin whether we know it or not, whether we believe it or not, whether we accept it or not.

All we have to do is acknowledge we have sinned and repent, believe Jesus paid the price for that sin, and accept His sacrifice in our place.

Hallelujah!

(As an aside, isn’t it an interesting contrast that in court, a defendant gives his testimony in an attempt to prove his innocence, but as Christians we give our testimony to our guilt and God’s forgiveness!)

Have you ever sat of a jury? What was your experience?

Author Interview - Dena N Netherton

Author Interview | Dena N Netherton

Today I’d like to welcome author Dena N Netherton, to share about her new release, High Country Dilemma.

Dena N NethertonDena Netherton is the author of both Christian Romance and Christian Suspense fiction. Born and raised in northern California, she was educated at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the University of Michigan, and the University of Northern Colorado.

Her many musical experiences as both a performer and teacher have provided her with delicious memories from which to draw when developing new characters and writing compelling stories.

Welcome, Dena! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What’s your favourite fruit?

Peaches. Definitely big, juicy peaches. Peach pie, peach preserves, peach ice cream. I could go on and on about peaches. Especially the ones you can get at a fruitstand near Palisades, Colorado.

Which is your favourite musical?

I’d have to say Fiddler on the Roof. The music is wonderful and the characters are richly drawn and authentic.

Where is your favourite place?

Bellingham, Washington. I’ve lived all over the country, and there are great things about each place. But the Pacific Northwest offers the San Juan Islands to the west, fun things to do in the city, and the Cascade Mountains less than an hour away. Seattle is only an hour south, and Canada is about fifteen minutes north. Love it here!

Sometimes there is no place like home. I love Oregon and Washington, because the hills and the trees remind me of my home, New Zealand.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

Gosh, there are so many. I think I’d have to choose this one: Colossians 1:13 “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in Whom we have redemption.” (NIV Bible) Kind of sums up the Gospel, don’t you think?

A fabulous choice!

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I was terribly shy as a kid. Whenever I had to give a report or speech in the classroom, I’d be sick for days beforehand. But becoming a musical performer, and later, a teacher, knocked that trait out of me. Now, my problem is closing my mouth!

Now, let’s talk about your book, High Country Dilemma. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Fallon Hart has landed her dream job–directing the annual melodrama, Miss May’s Dilemma. But when Fallon arrives in Pine Ridge, Colorado, she finds her new apartment in flames. To make matters worse, her manager wants her to sing an impossible solo. Her family wants her to give up the theater and join the family jewelry business. And her selfish, controlling ex-fiancé wants her back. The biggest dilemma of all, though, is trying to make everyone happy.

Handsome firefighter, Lucas O’Farrell, is searching for his soul-mate, a lady who’ll share his love of the mountains, small-town living, and kids. He knows exactly what he doesn’t want: a sophisticated city girl like Fallon. But when they are cast as sweethearts in the melodrama, the attraction is hard to deny. Before he realizes it, he’s falling for her—hard—and it’s possible she’s starting to love him, too. But is love worth the risk if the she’s planning to return to Denver at the end of the season?

I’ve heard melodrama used in connection to (bad) fiction, but not to theatre. What is melodrama? Does it have other names?

Yes, Melodrama (note, that the term is capitalized) as a literary and dramatic form has been around for centuries. Today, Melodrama typically refers to 19th century dramas with accompanying music in which the plot is sensational and designed to appeal to the emotions.

Characters are usually sterotyped as either heroic (the strong savior), innocent (usually a helpless maiden), or the big, bad guy. There is a strong moral lesson attached. We writers avoid using melodrama in our novels, but Melodramas are supposed to be melodramatic.

Fascinating! I don’t think I’ve ever come across this type of drama before.

You have an extensive background in music and performance. How did that impact on your decision to write a novel about musical theatre?

I have so many memories of performing and of working with other singers, directors, composers, and musicians. Most of them are wonderful memories. But I’ve worked with a few really difficult directors or temperamental actors.

And I’ve had my own difficulties. I once had to learn the violin in a few weeks so I could play it onstage in an opera. I hope to write some more stories involving the theater, drawing from some of those challenges, but in a light-hearted way.

That would be a challenge! I’m told the violin is a difficult instrument to play well.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I had so much fun writing Mike, Lucas’s sidekick. We all have a ‘Mike’ in our lives. You know, the funny, irrepressible, loyal, got-your-back type of friend who’ll still be around when you’re ninety years old. Mike’s conversations with Lucas made me laugh. He’s the best kind of friend to Lucas: truthful, yet encouraging.

The character of Mike was inspired by memories of my twin brother’s best friend, Danny, in high school. Danny was always at our house, swimming in our pool, hanging out with my brother, drinking up all our milk. He was like a brother.

What idea would you like readers to take away after reading High Country Dilemma?

The theme of High Country Dilemma is God’s faithfulness. Whether we’re in the theater or in some other kind of profession, we all deal with the kind of fear which can keep us from being the person God has called us to be. Lucas helps Fallon learn that God can be trusted to strengthen and guide her, especially when she feels the weakest.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The easiest part of writing is writing. Before I was published, all I had to do was think, research, create, and type. That’s all enjoyable and rewarding. But now that I’ve got some books traditionally published, my time is no longer my own. Juggling the amount of time spent writing, editing, communicating, doing social media, and posting my blogs takes skill and discipline.

It sounds like a challenge.

Is there an overt faith thread in High Country Dilemma? How does this impact the characters?

Yes, there is a strong faith element. Fallon’s faith has been severely tested when God didn’t rescue her from a humiliating event on stage. She fears having to step on stage again. Lucas has a strong faith, and as he grows to love her, he yearns to help her see that God can be trusted and relied on. She must keep her eyes on the Lord, and not keep dwelling over a past mistake.

That’s a great lesson!

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I have loved writing since childhood, and I know the Lord put that ability in me for a reason. I also loved teaching, and I found tons of opportunities to write songs, and poems, and short plays for my elementary kids. Later, when my own children grew up, I clearly felt God’s call to begin seriously writing. He has led me to write devotionals, stories, articles, plays, and, eventually, full-length novels.

I love to write realistic characters who struggle with the same challenges us real-life folk do. I hope Fallon and Lucas and their friends remind readers that God is intimately acquainted with our fears and doubts, and He will help and strengthen us if we trust Him.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

It depends. Sometimes I only want to read sweet romances. Other times, I’m in the mood for a toe-zinging thriller. Last year, I read a number of non-fiction books, including biographies. I guess I’m an omni-reader!

I think that describes me as well!

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

I just finished reading a suspense novel by Michael Koryta entitled, Those Who Wish Me Dead. That book had be hooked from the first page.

Finally …

Where can we find High Country Dilemma online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Thank you, Dena! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about High Country Dilemma.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Dena? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to High Country Dilemma below:

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 5 | Where We Belong

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line.

Today I’m sharing from Where We Belong by Lynn Austin.

Rebecca Hawes lay awake in her tent, convinced that the howling wind was about to lift her entire camp into the air and hurl it to the far side of the desert.

About the Book

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm. 

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Yes, I know. This doesn’t release until October. But I have an advance review ebook and I have no self-control when it comes to books from my favourite authors …

By the way, I’m scheduling this in advance—my husband is taking me away for the weekend for my birthday, so I might not get to your comments for a couple of days 🙂

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

You can check out what some of these lovely FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

Bookworm Mama | Singing Librarian Books | Faithfully Bookish

Radiant Light | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names are Taken | Robin’s Nest

Fiction Aficionado | Bibliophile Reviews | Kathleen Denly

Lauraine’s Notes | With A Joyful Noise | A Baker’s Perspective

Joy of Reading | C Jane Read | Moments Dipped in Ink

Molly’s Cafinated Reads | Romances of the Cross | Christian Fiction Girl

Reviews by Van Daniker | Reading Is My SuperPower

If you would like to join FirstLineFriday, contact Carrie at at Reading Is My SuperPower.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

Book Recommendation | The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

It’s Throwback Thursday, which means it’s time to repost one of my older reviews.

This week it’s The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer, the second book in the Bannister Falls series, following The Dandelion Field. The Hearts We Mend is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, in the Romance category.

This review first appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads on 22 March 2016.

About the Book

Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie’s firefighterhusband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie’s heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edgesJack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie’s life is stream-lined, Jack’s approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe or predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn’t make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn’t felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

My Review

One of the challenges of writing a series must be around how much of the early books you include in later books in the series. I’ve read some truly awful examples, including one which shall not be named where the author spent the first half of the novel (yes, over 150 excruciatingly boring pages) rehashing the backstories of characters I already knew from the first 22 books in the series.

At the other end of the spectrum are novels where the author must assume readers will recall every minute detail of the earlier book/s, because nothing is explained. It’s equally excruciating, because it’s like finding yourself at a party where no one introduces you to anyone because everyone assumes you know everyone else, except you know no one.

The Hearts We Mend initially felt like the party.

Actually, it did begin at a party, but I didn’t know anyone although it was obvious I was supposed to. Too many characters too quickly, and I couldn’t work out who was who, and who was meant to be important. Yes, I had read—and enjoyed, and recommended—The Dandelion Field, the first of the Banister Falls series, but that was more than a year ago. I’ve read a lot of books since . . .

Yes, Chapter One of The Hearts We Mend was beyond awkward.

But it improved with Chapter Two, because we got to meet our hero, Jack Vale, and he’s new in town so felt as lost as I did. And the book suddenly got a whole lot better. As time went on, I remembered Evie from the first novel: she’s the widowed mother of Cody, who is getting married to his pregnant girlfriend despite them both being a mere eighteen (as Cody tells Evie, the age she was when she married).

A lot of romance readers are looking for novels about “older” couples.

I’m not convinced Evie and Jack count as older—they’re both in their mid-thirties, scarcely older than the first-love couples in many novels (especially romantic suspense novels). But Evie is about to become a grandmother, which certainly places her ahead of me in terms of life experience category, if not years.

Anyway, Jack is new in town, here to look out for his deadbeat brother and his family. He’s got a temporary job at the church where Evie is director of women’s ministries, which brings the two of them together a lot. They’re opposites in many ways: he’s never married and never had children, she’s widowed and about to become a grandmother. He’s from a rough upbringing and his family have had more than a few brushes with the law. She’s not had an easy life, but none of it involved excess alcohol or drugs, and her relationship with the law is as friends, not foe.

But they find they have things in common.

They have their faith, their concern for Lily, Jack’s niece, and their attraction for each other. Evie’s faithful friends aren’t going to make it easy for Jack, and nor is he.

I thought The Hearts we Mend was excellent, a great sequel to the challenging and recommended The Dandelion Field. I loved all the characters, especially Lily, and Jack’s unorthodox neighbours. And Jack was the perfect hero, the way he brought Evie out of the shell no one even realised she was in. I especially liked the way the Christian themes were shown in the way Jack reached out to his neighbours. Recommended.

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

About the Author

Kathryn SpringerKathryn Springer, winner of the 2009 ACFW Carol Award (Family Treasures), grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child, she spent many hours sitting at her mother’s typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books – which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own.

After a number of busy years, when she married her college sweetheart and became a stay-at-home mom, Kathryn rediscovered her love for writing. An unexpected snow day from school became the inspiration for a short story, which she submitted to Brio magazine. She went on to publish over a dozen more short stories for Brio, but it wasn’t until her youngest child started school that she decided to pursue her dream to write a novel. In August 2004, her Love Inspired® debut novel, Tested by Fire, was published.

Encouraging women in their faith journey is the reason Kathryn loves to write inspirational fiction. She hosts a women’s Bible study in her home and volunteers in a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ministry. When she isn’t at the computer, you’ll find her curled up with a good book, spending time with family and friends or walking on the trails near her country home.

Website | Facebook 

Read the Introduction

Introducing Penelope Powell

Author Interview | Introducing Penelope Powell

Today I’d like to welcome author Penelope Powell to share about her new release, A Furrow So Deep. Penelope is a southern girl at heart, who loves green rolling hills, wind chimes that tinkle on warm summer nights, and her momma’s fried pies. She’s been luckier than most. She’s enjoyed a life surrounded by family, friends, and a faith that has taught her to discern her worth in a Righteous Saviour.
A Furrow So Deep Header
Having travelled and lived in many places, she has been fortunate enough to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, which has given her a broader perspective that occasionally splashes onto the pages of her novels.

Welcome, Penelope!

I have to ask: what is a fried pie? (I apologise if this is obvious to any southerners. My excuse is that I’m from New Zealand, and my experience of the South is limited to Florida.)

You’d start with something like an uncooked round pie crust 6-8” then add cooked fruit (similar to preserves) usually peaches or apricots. Fold in half- a half moon in shape then fry until golden brown.

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What’s your favourite fruit?

Mangoes and Muscadines (a grape variety)

Which is your favourite season?

Autumn—the cool crisp weather and colourful leaves.

And you call it autumn, like I do 🙂

You say you’ve travelled a lot. How many states have you visited? How many countries? Which is your favourite?

I’ve lived in Tennessee (the setting of this book), Florida, Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas, and visited more than twenty other states.

I’ve also lived in Mexico, Germany, and Belgium, and visited at least 17 other countries across Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. I had a short visit to Venice and would relish the opportunity to go back.

I thought I’d travelled a lot, but I’ve only lived in three counties! Yes, Venice is wonderful. Although not with small children.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

I have several that are meaningful; for encouragement, peace of mind, trials. But, if I had to pick it would be Acts 17:26-27 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I move the furniture in my living areas fairly often. My husband tells me he afraid to come home in the dark for fear of tripping over something.

Now, let’s talk about your book, A Furrow So Deep. Here’s the description off the back cover:

After thirteen long years, Karen Braden returns home to inherit her grandmother’s bed and breakfast, hoping it will provide the kind of future she wants for herself and her daughter. There’s only one problem—she’ll have to face the past and the one man she’s never stopped loving: Dean Anderson.

In the years following Karen’s hasty and unexplained departure, Dean built a portfolio of auto dealerships, yet he remains unfulfilled. When he sees Karen again, his hurt resurfaces, clashing with the love he’s always had for her. Determined to find out why she left him all those years ago, Dean discovers there’s more at stake than just getting answers.

As the truth begins to unravel, Dean and Karen must decide if they can forgive past transgressions and trust God to help them forge a future, better than either could ever anticipate.

A Furrow So Deep is contemporary Christian romance, my favourite genre and one of the most popular. What makes A Furrow So Deep unique?

Men who’ve read my work tell me they can easily identify with the male perspective I present. A Furrow So Deep poses questions about sex, responsibility, and the importance of fathers mostly from the male perspective. It also explores the struggle of forgiveness from both the Christian and non-Christian viewpoint.

What inspired the plot?

Initially a dream with some life experience added in.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

Emily—she’s the daughter of Karen, the female lead character. You don’t know her thoughts, but she is expressive enough you know what she’s feeling and you empathize.

I sometimes see publishers and authors describe their books as Southern fiction. For someone whose sole experience of the South is Disney World and the Kennedy Space Centre, what is Southern fiction? Does A Furrow So Deep fit this description?

LOL those places are in the South, but not Southern.

That’s what I’d thought!

Being Southern is more of a cultural mind-set. Hospitality is a way of life, polite manners are expected, patriotism is passionate, and the food is usually fried 🙂 Like those pies I mention.

Here in the South

What idea would you like readers to take away after reading A Furrow So Deep?

God is a God of second chances.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I don’t find any of it particularly easy. LOL Though maybe writing the first draft is the easiest and most enjoyable.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

Absolutely everything.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

Cozy Mysteries because they usually have romance, mystery and humor.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

One of the books I’m reading (because I read a few at the same time-moods and all that) is The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron.

Loved that book!

What, in your opinion, are five must-read books for fans of contemporary Christian romance fiction? (Not including A Furrow So Deep. We’ll take that as a given.)

Water from my Heart and The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter
The Camdyn Series by Christina Coryell
Worst Detective Ever books by Christy Barritt

I haven’t read Water From My Heart, but The Mountain Between Us was great. I’m looking forward to the movie!

Finally …

Where can we find A Furrow So Deep online?

Anaiah Press | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter 

Thank you, Penelope! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about A Furrow So Deep.
Thank you for the great interview!

About Anaiah Press: Anaiah Press is a Christian publishing house dedicated to presenting quality, faith-based fiction and nonfiction books to the public. Sign up for our Anaiah Press Reader Newsletter and/or Blogger Blog Tour Signup Newsletter to be entered into our summer giveaway.

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Readers, what question would you like to ask Penelope? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to A Furrow So Deep below:

Quote from My Unexpected Hope

Book Recommendation | My Unexpected Hope by Tammy L Gray

Tammy L Gray doesn’t write nice Christian fiction.

She writes fiction about broken characters who’ve done stupid things, who are now trying to pull themselves out of the hell they have created. My Unexpected Hope is no exception.

It’s the story of Leila and Chad, united by their common family histories of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, and separated by those same addictions. Laila eventually kicked Chad out, unwilling and unable to be with someone who showed every sign of turning into his father, or her mother.

Now he’s back. But can she trust him?

I didn’t enjoy An Unexpected Hope as much as I enjoyed My Hope Next Door. However, that might be like saying I didn’t enjoy Hitchcock’s Vertigo as much as I enjoyed Rear Window, given that My Hope Next Door has just won the 2017 RITA award from Romance Writers of America for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.

My main issue was Chad. I liked him, and wanted him to succeed in his quest for sobriety. But his characterisation wasn’t even, and while he was convinced he was Laila’s soul mate, I wasn’t. There was no reason for them to be together beyond their extensive shared history. My other reason could be that I’m not a fan of the Other Woman or Other Man trope, because it always means a perfectly nice character ends up hurt (as happened in this case).

My Unexpected Hope isn’t a comfortable read.

It’s full of conflict and angst as two messed-up people try and sort their lives out. But it’s an excellent story of redemption, and well worth reading. It can be read as a standalone novel, although those who have read My Hope Next Door will enjoy seeing Katie and Cooper again. Well, perhaps not Cooper.

Thanks to Waterfall Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Book

After a year of grieving her divorce and living a life permanently stuck on pause, Laila Richardson is finally ready to have her own happy ending. Then a listing for a quaint cottage in another town answers her prayers for a fresh beginning—one that will bring her closer to her new boyfriend, Ben. Unfortunately, in her small town of Fairfield, Georgia, letting go of the past is virtually impossible. No one wants to see her move on, including the man who destroyed her heart to begin with.

Chad Richardson has spent years in misery but finally has his life on somewhat stable ground. When he learns his ex-wife is dating, he knows it’s time to go back and fight for the life he abandoned. Bolstered by his newfound sobriety, Chad has every intention of winning back the woman he loves, even if that means facing old demons that are waiting for him to fail.

Passions run deep as two souls searching for a second chance find the courage to let go of old patterns. Can they recognize that their dreams are still possible, even when forged from a broken past?

About the Author

Author Photo Tammy L GrayTammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas, even the erratic weather patterns. She writes modern Christian romance with true-to-life characters and culturally-relevant plot lines. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.

Tammy is often lauded for her unique writing style within the inspirational genre, preferring to use analogies verses heavy-handed spiritual content. Her characters are real, relatable and deep, earning her a 2017 RITA award nomination in the Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements category.

When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry.

Tammy L. Gray has lots of projects going on.

You can find Tammy Gray online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

Click below to buy An Unexpected Hope:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

You can read the introduction to An Unexpected Hope:

Bookish Question 21

Bookish Question #21: Do you skip to the end?

This question came up in one of the Facebook groups I’m a member of.

Do you ever skip to the end of a book and read the final pages?

Some readers in the Facebook discussion were happy to admit they did. Others consider even the thought to be anathema.

I think I’m somewhere in the middle.

Many genres are designed for dipping and skipping. Non-fiction is one–many non-fiction books are designed to be dipped in to, depending on what topic you’re interested in. We often read poetry one poem at a time, and not necessarily in the order they appear in the book—even though that was (presumably) the in which order the poet intended us to read them.

And the Bible—even if we are using a sequential Bible reading plan, we probably dip in and out of other books as we look for guidance on specific subjects, or as we listen to Sunday’s preacher.

But novels are written to be read from beginning to end. It can feel like cheating to jump ahead.

But I have done it on occasion. Have you?

Sometimes I’ll skip to the end when I’m worried the story won’t end like I want it to. For instance, the hero and heroine have to end up together in a romance novel. We know that when we begin. We’re not reading for the ending, but for the journey. But there have been times when the author has got me worried and I want to be reassured the characters will get their happy ever after.

Other times I’ll check the ending when I’m not enjoying the novel. Then I’m skipping because I want to know the end, to decide if I’m going to make the effort to finish the book.

I do skip less often since getting my Kindle—perhaps because it makes a conscious effort to tell the machine to go to the last page. It’s not a simple flick the way it is with a paperback.

Do you ever skip to the end of a novel? Why? Or why not?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 4 | Since You’ve Been Gone

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line.

Today I’m sharing from Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan.

My Granny Ruth says we always have choices about falling in love. So maybe you and I should have just fallen in like.

This was one of my favourite novels from 2016—I liked it so much that I bought the paperback so I could share it with friends. And now I’ve opened it to share the first line, I want to keep reading …

About the Book

One moment, Olivia Kavanaugh is preparing to walk down the aisle and embrace her own happily ever after. The next, she learns that her fiancé, Wyatt Hammond, has been in a fatal car accident. Then comes a startling discovery: Wyatt’s car wasn’t heading toward the church. He was fifty miles away…with a baby gift in the backseat.

Her faith shaken, Olivia pores over the clues left behind, desperate to know where Wyatt was going that day and why. As she begins uncovering secrets, she also navigates a tense relationship with her judgmental mother and tries to ignore the attentions of a former boyfriend who’s moved back home. But when she starts receiving letters written by Wyatt before his death, she must confront a disturbing question: Can we ever know anyone fully, even someone we love?

When an unexpected path forward—though nothing like the life she once envisioned—offers the promise of a new beginning, will she be strong enough to let go of the past and move toward it?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can check out what some of these lovely FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

Bookworm Mama | Singing Librarian Books | Faithfully Bookish

Radiant Light | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names are Taken | Robin’s Nest

Fiction Aficionado | Bibliophile Reviews | Kathleen Denly

Lauraine’s Notes | With A Joyful Noise | A Baker’s Perspective

Joy of Reading | C Jane Read | Moments Dipped in Ink

Molly’s Cafinated Reads | Romances of the Cross | Christian Fiction Girl

Reviews by Van Daniker | Reading Is My SuperPower

If you would like to join FirstLineFriday, contact Carrie at at Reading Is My SuperPower. Or check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

Book Recommendation | Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Amazon Description


A brilliant transplant surgeon. A rogue organ broker. A ghost child.
And the legend that could destroy them all.

A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline.

From best-selling author Lisa Harris and award-winning author Lynne Gentry comes a chilling, hypnotic medical thriller that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.

My Review

Ghost Heart is medical thriller. I have a love-hate relationship with medical thrillers. I love it because I love the suspense aspects. I hate it because it highlights the inequalities in medical profession both within countries like America, and globally. A million dollars for a heart transplant? The mind boggles.Yes, there is some blood and gore (gore = anything that can’t be fixed with an Elastoplast. There are some good reasons why I didn’t go into a medical profession). The worst of it is actually in the Prologue, so if you read the sample and are afraid it’s going to get worse, don’t worry. It doesn’t.

Kelsey Taylor is five years old, and needs a heart transplant stop urgently. Her mother, Catherine, is prepared to do anything to save her daughter. Even going to Africa to for a heart transplant. The only way she save her daughter is to ask her father for help—which could destroy her relationship with her husband.

Mia Kendall is a heart surgeon in the public hospital in Tanzania. She finds her heart transplant patients are dying. But the transplant patients from the nearby private hospital not. She’s suspicious. What is happening? Is there a problem with her surgical methods? Her post-operative care? Or is there a problem with the transplant organs?

Jeme is a Tanzanian wife and mother. Her husband has recently had a heart transplant, but he’s sick again. And she’s trying to protect her daughter—an albino, at risk of being kidnapped and murdered by hunters for her white skin and blue eyes. Unfortunately, this part of the story is based on fact. Albinos are considered cursed, yet at that same time, their body parts are considered good luck charms.

Ghost Heart focuses on the people who are trying to save lives. Catherine and Jeme, trying to save the lives of their daughters from two very different threats. Mia, trying to save her patients, and to make up for one mistake long ago. Organ transplant pilot Race Daniels, trying to save lives to make up for the two he couldn’t save.

It also highlights the tragedy of our modern medical system, and the way it favours the haves over the have-nots. Those who have insurance or money or who live in a country with a good public health system vs. those who don’t. The tragedy of transplants—the fact one person has to die in order for another to receive a new heart. The tragedy of greed—that where money is involved, someone will find a way to get rich at the expense of others.

The novel is suspense from start to finish, with several unexpected twists. Don’t do what I did and start it when you should be going to bed! Recommended for all medical suspense lovers.

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

This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

Author Inteview - Cara Luecht

Author Interview | Cara Luecht and Soul’s Cry

Today I’d like to welcome author Cara Luecht, to share about her new release, Soul’s Cry.

Cara LuechtToday I’d like to welcome award-winning author Cara Luecht to the blog. Cara lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Welcome, Cara! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

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