Author: Iola Goulton

Quote from Holding the Fort

Book Recommendation | Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings

Lovely Lola Bell was raised in a saloon, but her singing voice has meant she’s managed to keep from working upstairs. Except now she’s been fired, and no one in town is going to give a saloon girl a respectable job. Then she hears her brother—her only family—is in trouble. She has no choice but to become Miss Louisa Bell, find Bradley at Fort Reno, find a respectable job, and hope her past never catches up with her.

Major Daniel Adams is a widower with two daughters. When Miss Louisa Bell arrives at the Fort to teach his daughters, he’s so grateful he doesn’t bother to check her details. The girls like her, and anything to keep them out of trouble in a fort filled with soldiers and surrounded by potentally hostile Indians …

In some ways, Holding the Fort was a typical Western romance. Beautiful heroine meets handsome hero, fall in love, and so on.

But that would be missing the best parts: the comedy, and the Christian element.

Regina Jennings writes comedy. Well, this had a lot of comedy—awkwardly comedic situations, similar to Karen Witemeyer or Jen Turano. There can be a fine line between comedy and cringefest, but I definitely found Holding the Fort was comedy (especially a couple of the riding scenes).

It was also Christian. Lola aka Louisa was not a Christian. She’d been raised in a saloon, hardly the kind of place you’d find a preacher. She does a so-so job of pretending, but when it comes out that she’s not a Christian, Daniel has a dilemma. He’s attracted to her, but … Anyway, that ended up being one of the strengths for me.

Overall, I loved Holding the Fort. Recommended for fans of romantic comedy, especially historical Westerns.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Regina Jennings

Regina JenningsRegina Jennings is the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history, Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children when not traveling the world.

Find Regina Jennings online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About Holding the Fort

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she’s able to make ends meet, but lately he’s run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out.
Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.
When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he’s left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

Find Holding the Fort online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Holding the Fort below:

Do you enjoy reading Christmas stories?

Bookish Question #37 | Do you enjoy reading Christmas stories?

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas stories.

That’s mostly because I live in the Southern Hemisphere, which means our Christmas celebration marks the beginning of our summer holidays. Christmas is different Down Under.

I know a lot of people enjoy reading Christmas novels, perhaps because it gets them into the spirit of the Christmas season.

We don’t have snow. We have sand. At the beach.

We don’t have roaring log fires. Instead, we have the air con going full blast.

We don’t drink mulled wine (whether the alcoholic or non-alcoholic version). Who wants hot spiced wine in the middle of summer? Instead, we drink iced soft drinks—although it’s more likely to be Coca-cola or L&P than iced tea.

We might have the traditional Christmas dinner: roast turkey, ham, potatoes, kumera (the Maori name for sweet potatoes). And fresh asparagus—it’s in season. But we might also have a barbecue at home or on the beach. After all, it’s summer. Who wants to spend the day in a hot, steamy kitchen?

So I hope you can see why the traditional Christmas story doesn’t really appeal to me.

The one Christmas collection I did enjoy was the Aussie Summer Christmas novella collection. It’s no longer available as a collection, but the individual novellas are for sale on Kindle. They are:

Seaside Christmas by Narelle Atkins
A Christmas Resolution by Rose Dee
All is Bright by Andrea Grigg
Falling for Maddie Grace by Meredith Resce (I’m not a sports fan, but this was one of my favourites)
Melbourne Memories by Marion Ueckermann
Santa Next Door by Lacy Williams

What about you? Do you enjoy reading Christmas stories?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 19 | The House on Foster Hill

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line. Today I’m sharing from The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright:

Quote from The House on Foster Hill

Is that creepy or what? I have to say I started reading this novel late at night, and that was a bad idea. I think it’s more suited for reading on a bright sunny day … when there are no creeping shadows in the house. Just saying.

About The Book

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click on the link which will take you to the master page, which holds all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

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

Quote from Out of the Ordinary

Book Review | Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

A Slow Start and a Fast Finish

Out of the Ordinary felt as though it took a long time to get going. It wasn’t that nothing was happening—there was a lot happening. But it all took place in a very short period of time. It starts with Miss Gertrude Cadwalder attending a party on a yacht with her employer, Mrs Davenport. That evening takes almost half the novel, which may be why it felt as though it wasn’t moving forward. Nor could it, as Gertrude spends rather too long trapped in a chair by her bustle.

And that situation is typical Jen Turano, in the best way.

Out of the Ordinary was full of Jen Turano’s trademark witty writing, with plenty of nonsensical plot elements. We briefly met Gertrude and Mrs Davenport in an earlier novel, so we know she is a woman with aspirations to fashion. Aspirations and money she may have, but taste she does not. Gertrude is often the victim of Mrs Davenport’s fashion crimes, such as the offending bustle in Out of the Ordinary.

Quote from Out of the Ordinary

The second half was much better than the first, as it got moving (literally and figuratively), and we got to see more of Gertrude and Harrison, and find out more about the eccentric Mrs Davenport. The romance perhaps proceeded more quickly than I might prefer, but it worked because Gertrude and Harrison weren’t strangers—they’d met in previous books in the Wildflowers series. And I enjoyed the strong Christian undertones.

Yes, Out of the Ordinary is part of a series. The earlier books are At Your Request (a free prequel novella) and Behind the Scenes. Although Out of the Ordinary can be read as a standalone novel, it would be better to read the earlier stories first. Otherwise the sheer number of characters (and personalities) introduced at the beginning of Out of the Ordinary might be overwhelming.

A must-read for all Jen Turano fans, and those who like some wit and intelligence in their Gilded Age romance.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Jen Turano

Jen TuranoA USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jen Turano has written the critically acclaimed Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as JenTuranowell as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, released in the spring of 2016, and will be followed by a new four-book series, Apart from the Crowd. When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life.

Find Jen Turano online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Out of the Ordinary

Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.
When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail.

Find Out of the Ordinary online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Out of the Ordinary below:

New Releases in Christian Fiction | December 2017

As usual, more books than budget! (But read to the bottom of the post for some help with that dilemma). American Christian Fiction Writers have more in-depth descriptions of these books at the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary

Rebecca’s Redemption by Lee Carver — A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing.

Romance

The Christmas Baby by Lisa Carter — Mistletoe Mommy Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever?

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher — Nick’s love of thrills and danger and Samantha’s love of safety and security drove them apart two years ago. After her worst fears came true, can they build something new upon the ashes of the past?

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf — Conrad Hamilton thought his life would be easy. A great job running his own construction business, living in his hometown in Door County, Wisconsin, with Lila Clark by his side. He planned on marrying her as soon as she returned from her Chicago internship but it never happened.

Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor did she plan on spending the last decade in New York. But she did. Can the magic of Christmas turn two hearts back to one another again or is it too late to capture that special kind of perfect?

Under the Mistletoe: A Christian Christmas Anthology by Jenna Brandt, Lorana Hoopes, Carol E. Keen, Elle E. Kay, Mary C. Findley, Judith Robl, Evangeline Kelly, C.J. Samuels — Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you 8 wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Making Spirits Bright by Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, April Hayman — Christmas is a season for new beginnings and second chances. A time for hope and joy and laughter. A time for people of all ages to find love and come together in community. Making Spirits Bright is a collection of just such stories – four never-before-published inspirational Christmas novellas. From romance to cozy mystery, with a generous dash of humor, these contemporary stories are sure to warm your heart as well as brighten your season and lift your Christmas spirit.

Historical Romance

The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection by Mary Connealy — The Old West comes to life under the talented pen of bestselling author Mary Connealy. Enjoy a lighthearted ride alongside seven historical and one contemporary cowboys and the women who tame their hearts.



Would-Be Mistletoe Wife by Christine Johnson — Worried she might lose her teaching job if funding is cut for her boarding school, widow Louise Smythe must consider marriage. But the only prospective groom in town is lighthouse-keeper Jesse Hammond, and he wants children–something she may never be able to provide. While Jesse waits for the ideal woman to make his wife, though, Louise can’t help but long for something more than his friendship. If he wants to be promoted to head lighthouse keeper, Jesse needs to find a wife suited to his rustic lifestyle. But as he and Louise partner to give the town’s homeless orphans a joyous holiday, he’s drawn to the petite woman. Will the light of Christmas finally inspire them to trust in each other’s hearts?



Circle of Blessings by Deborah Raney — A young college student is determined to win the love of her English professor at the university in the Dakota Territory where she is studying to be an architect.

Historical

Return to Bella Terra by MaryAnn Diorio — When she receives word that her mother is terminally ill, Maria Landro Tonetta travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When, however, Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream.
But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul?

Brides of Minnesota by Lena Nelson Dooley — Follow a Swedish family’s journey as they settle in Minnesota where each brother seeks a living—and wife.

Mystery

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert — When the dead body of an overdosed teen turns up next to Tess Spencer’s mom’s trailer, it’ll take a miracle to keep Tess from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs.

Romantic Suspense

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman — The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?

Holiday Secrets by Susan Sleeman — When his ex is thrust into the crosshairs of a deadly syndicate, FBI agent Gavin McKade will do whatever it takes to protect her. Even work the case with his stubborn sheriff dad. As if protecting Lexie from professional killers isn’t difficult enough, the unlikely reunion has rekindled their complicated romantic connection. But if Gavin can’t untangle Lexie from this dangerous web, the blurring line between duty and love may not matter…because this Christmas could be their last.

Speculative

The Redemption of Jedidiah Pinkney by J.R. Pitts — A crippled and bullied young boy finds redemption and healing after an encounter with Jesus.

And for Suspense fans … free ebooks!

Fifteen Christian authors have combined to create a Christmas Suspense Stocking Stuffer, only available until 10 December. Click here to find out more!

Christian Suspense Stocking Stuffer

Words are my superpower. When I use them, things happen and events change.

Book Recommendation | Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

Emilie Wesley is a lawyer working in a women’s shelter. She’s in court, expecting to file a protective order on behalf of client Kaylene Adams, but Kaylene doesn’t show. Because she’s dead … and suspected of shooting her two daughters. Emilie suspects murder, and worries that Kaylene’s surviving daughter will be in danger.

No one believes her except Reid Billings, Kaylene’s brother, and even he takes some persuading. Now it’s up to Emilie and Reid to find out the truth before Kinley regains consciousness. Because that will mean she goes home, to live with her abusive father. But it’s not going to be easy. All the evidence points to Kaylene, Emilie’s boss wants her to focus on her living clients, the ones she can still help. And her stalker is back.

Imperfect Justice is an excellent mix of legal thriller and romantic suspense. There is plenty of suspense, lots of legal problems, and enough romance to make sure it doesn’t all get too heavy. And while it’s dealing with women in abusive situations, it’s hard-hitting without being explicit.

I didn’t really consider the implications of the title as I was reading, but they certainly hit me as I came to write this review. Our earthly justice is imperfect. Even if we’re able to identify and punish a criminal, the victims of crime still have to live with the aftereffects. We can’t turn back time as if the crime never happened. Equally, God’s justice is perfect … but we don’t get that now, either. We have to wait, which often means learning lessons like patience and forgiveness.

Imperfect Justice is the second book in Cara Putman’s Hidden Justice series, following Beyond Justice. The stories follow a group of female attorneys, so work as standalone stories. Recommended for fans of legal thrillers and romantic suspense from authors such as Rachel Dylan, Carrie Stuart Parks, Colleen Coble and Lynette Eason.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Cara Putman

Cara PutmanAs a preteen Cara Putman watched lawyers change legislative opinions at an important legislative hearing in Nebraska. At that time, she wondered if she became an attorney if people would give her words the same weight. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, George Mason University School of Law and Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, Cara has turned her passion for words into award-winning stories that capture readers. Her legal experience makes its way into her stories where strong women confront real challenges.

The award-winning author of more than 25 titles, Cara writes legal thrillers, WWII romances, and romantic suspense because she believes that no matter what happens hope is there, waiting for us to reach for it.

When she’s not writing, Cara is an over-educated attorney who lectures in law and communications at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University and homeschools her children. She and her family live in Indiana, the land of seasons.

You can find Cara Putman online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

About Imperfect Justice

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

Find Imperfect Justice online at:

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

Which Bible translation do you prefer?

Bookish Question #36 | Which Bible translation do you prefer?

Bibles.

Isn’t it ironic that something that’s so central to our faith can divide us?

The first Bible I ever read belonged to my great grandmother—a King James Version. I was about eight years old, and although I could read the words (and I was the best reader in my Sunday School class), I was never chosen to read the Bible story of the week out loud to the class. I soon worked out it was because while I could read all the words in the King James Bible, my classmates didn’t understand them.

I’ve had similar experiences as a Sunday School teacher in the years since, meeting children who could quote the King James chapter and verse, but didn’t actually know what the words meant. (One thought King James had written it himself.)

That, to me, isn’t enough. Sure, we need to able to read accurately. But we also need to be able to comprehend what we are reading. Otherwise, what is the point? We’re parroting, not learning.

That’s not to say we can’t learn anything from the King James Version. We’ve recently got a new pastor in church, and he preaches from the King James. We asked why. Simple: it’s the one he is most comfortable reading,because it’s the closest to his native language of Icelandic.

Our retired pastor reads from the Amplifed Version (I guess he likes the extra information). My Jewish Christian friend reads the Complete Jewish Bible. I prefer the New International Version (UK edition, because it uses “proper” spelling). I like the NIV because the vocabulary and meanings are contemporary—I don’t feel I have to translate them.

To see what I mean, read 1 Corinthians 13 in the King James and the NIV. I can see the link between love and charity. But charity in 2018 usually means a financial donation to a cause. The meaning of the word has changed.

But I do find there are passages which feel more lyrical in the King James (or New King James). Especially in the Psalms.

What about you? What Bible translation do you prefer? Why?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 18 | The Last Summer

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line. Today I’m sharing from The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce:

First line from The Last Summer

I never meant for any of it to happen. How often do we say that or feel it? Not many books make me cry, but this one did.

About the Book

For twenty-something Sara Witherspoon and her group of friends, a perfect Southern summer includes lake-house getaways, wedding planning, outdoor concerts, and a dash of romance. But for these seven friends who love each other like family, this year, summer rolls in with changes for everyone.
Sara’s longtime crush, Luke, has been her best friend for as long as she has been a part of the group. When Luke begins seriously dating another of their friends, Sara’s forced to deal with her hurt and jealousy, while outwardly try to support them both.
While Sara comes to terms with her own heart and her friends’ relationships, an unexpected handsome pilot from North Carolina and an old flame are thrown into the mix. Knowing her heart suddenly becomes much more complicated.
But as time unfolds and friendships begin to unravel, Sara and the others are presented with the reality of what a season of change does to old friendships and new love interests.
Does growing older mean growing apart?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click on the link which will take you to the master page, which holds all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

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

Book Review | The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman

Natchez, MS, 1791 …

Following the death of her brother and her father’s subsequent injuries, Isabella Bartholemew is left in control of her family plantation of Breeze Hill on the Natchez Trace. She needs labour. Her father is opposed to slavery. So she hires an indentured Irish carpenter to rebuild the estate—Connor O’Shea.

I liked Isabella. She was a strong woman who was prepared to do what needed to be done to protect her family and her home. And there were a lot of threats. Natchez in 1791 wasn’t a safe place for a woman almost alone. It was surrounded by slave traders, rouges on the road, and several suitors … some of whom are not what they appear.

That’s a lot of trouble to navigate, and Isabella does it well. She was more intelligent and more savvy than many historical romance heroines. I liked that.

I enjoyed watching Isabella and Connor get to know each other, and watching their relationship progress against the backdrop of the local troubles. Connor O’Shea is practically perfect. He is a handsome, hardworking man of faith and principles, who once made the mistake of falling for the wrong girl. He says he’s determined not to do the same again, but his actions (and feelings) don’t match his words or will. This makes for some fun in the romance. (Although there was also plenty of conflict.)

All in all, The Promise of Breeze Hill was an excellent historical romance. The ending was perhaps a little too neat, but that’s a small niggle in an enjoyable novel.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House for providing a free ebook for review.

About Pam Hillman

Pam HillmanCBA Bestselling author Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Find Pam Hillman online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads| PinterestTwitter

About The Promise of Breeze Hill

Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.

The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.

Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?

Find The Promise of Breeze Hill online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction of The Promise of Breeze Hill below: