New Releases in Christian Ficiton via ACFW Fiction Finder

New Releases in Christian Fiction | July 2018

We’re officially halfway though 2018. Is it just me, or have these last six months just disappeared? Anyway, a new month means more new releases in Christian fiction. In-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

What’s on your to-read pile for July?

Contemporary Romance

A Widow’s Hope by Vannetta Chapman — After tragedy claimed her husband’s life and her son’s ability to walk, Hannah King doesn’t want a new man. She has her family, a home and mounting debts. Scarred Amish bachelor Jacob Schrock offers Hannah the job she desperately needs. But while Hannah helps Jacob resolve his accounting issues, can she and her little boy also heal his wounded heart? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Firestorm by Laura V. Hilton — Bridget Behr can’t shake the guilt that it was her fault her family moved—and is too afraid to trust anyone, especially the flirtatious, overly-friendly Amish man who lives next door. Just as Bridget is finally settling into friendship, a new life, and maybe even love, a devastating forest fire ravages the county, destroying both land and the Behrs’ dreams. Now Bridget and her family must decide: will they leave behind the ashes and start anew in another Amish community? Or will they dare to fight for the future they’d hoped for in Mackinac County? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

General Contemporary

Ride to the Altar by Linda W. Yezak — Cattle are dying on the Circle Bar, putting the Texas ranch in financial jeopardy. Newly engaged Patricia Talbert and Talon Carlson must root out the cause before they can concentrate on wedding plans—which involves Patricia’s traveling to New York to patch things up with her domineering mother. While she is away, Talon discovers that the attacks on the ranch are connected to the murder of his first fiancée over eight years ago. Before they can move forward together, each have to resolve the past. Will they be able to start their new life with a clean slate? (General Contemporary from Canopy Books of Texas)

General Historical

My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Dodging bullets takes a simple missing person case to a new level as Jonah Cahill, a Pinkerton agent, and Madeline Latour, an investigative reporter, form a tentative truce in Galveston, Texas, 1880. Are they on to a much bigger story when their best witness is suddenly kidnapped? (General Historical from Barbour Publishing)

Historical Mystery

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright — Two women, separated by a hundred years, must uncover the secrets within the borders of their own town before it’s too late and they lose their future–or their very souls. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance

This Freedom Journey by Misty M. Beller — Adrien Lockman left France to finally live life on his own terms, but when he discovers a half-starved and half-frozen woman in the treacherous Canadian mountains, the truth soon becomes clear—the only way they’ll survive is together. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

I’ve recently read this, as part of the Timeless Love novella collection. It was one of my favourites.

The Widow’s Plight by Mary Davis — After moving to a new town and joining a quilting circle, a single mother steps out of the shadows of abuse and into the sunshine. But will a secret clouding her past cost her the man she loves? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart — Orphaned during an early 19th century cholera epidemic and helped by a slave to find a new home, Adria Starr must now stand up for his freedom—and maybe find her own in the process. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano — A young heiress is suddenly the poorest wealthy woman in all of England when her father dies without telling anyone where he put his money. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])


Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Ludwig — A mysterious key hidden in the depths of an ancient lighthouse unlocks family secrets hidden for generations. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Guarded Prognosis by Richard L. Mabry — At first Dr. Caden Taggart feared for his freedom, then for his ability to cope, and eventually he feared for his life. (Medical Mystery, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense

Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll — When Adelaide Fountaine, the general manager of a hotel in New Orleans, finds the body of a guest who was stabbed with a kitchen knife, her childhood friend Detective Beau Savoie is shocked to discover a connection between his friend–the woman he’s quietly loved for years—and the murdered guest. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . because he’s keeping secrets of his own. Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose? (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)

Camp Hope by Sara L. Foust — Facing dehydration, starvation, and a convoluted kidnapper, will Amy succeed in recovering her precious foster daughter or get lost in a vast wilderness forever? (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey — Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to join an elite team of terrorist hunters. Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he’s back, asking her help to stop America’s newest terrorist threat—an attack that would shake the country to its core. Together they must navigate secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster. Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next mark? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Young Adult

Launch by Jason C. Joyner — Teens with special abilities are invited to an exclusive conference where tech billionaire Simon Mazor is looking for those who can help him influence the world. (Young Adult from Little Lamb Books)

Do you visit book stores?

Bookish Question #65 | Do you visit book stores?

Do I visit book stores?

Sometimes and all the time.

This is 2018. There are two kinds of book store: physical, and online. I visit one kind of store all the time (can you guess which?). The other kind? Not so often. What about you?

Physical Book Stores

I rarely visit a physical book store unless I need to buy a physical book or product. The last time I visited one was to buy my niece a book voucher for her birthday. The time before that was to buy my husband and my mother each a book for Christmas. It’s now July. That tells you how often I visit physical book stores.

Online Book Stores

Online book stores are a different story … I don’t spent as much time browsing on Amazon as I used to, but I still visit the site at least a couple of times a week to download a sale book, to check the release date of a book I’m planning to review, or to access the links to add to a review. I also visit Amazon,, and on a semi-regular basis to post my reviews.

What about you? Do you visit book stores? What kind?

Book Review | A Love Restored by Kelly Gorshon

Ruth Ann Sutton is the slightly plump and more than slightly opinionated teacher at the Catoctin Creek Freedmens School … much to the disgust of her mother, her beau, and his family. Although she’s not sure she wants to be the beau and future wife of a man who insists she gives up the work, and who assumes she’s going to marry him without having asked.

Benjamin Coulter is a railway man, in Catoctin Creek to survey the next stage of the tracks. He meets Ruth Ann, and is immediately attracted to her (although not to her singing). But the course of true love never does run smooth, and he has to battle his own feelings of inadequacy, her family’s attitude to him as a working man from a dubious background, and the possible competition with another beau.

I liked Ruth Ann.

She had a strong Christian faith and believed in freedom and equality of men and women, black and white. But she has an opinionated mother who has her own ideas of what’s best for Ruth Ann.

Ruth Ann and Benjamin meet and quickly form an attachment. In a way this was too quick, as it left me wondering what was going to happen in the second half. The second half started with a bang, but then petered out when what felt like the climax hit too early.

This was partly about Ben.

He was the perfect gentleman and perfect beau in the first half of the book, once he’d become a Christian. But something happened early in the second half that I found it difficult to forgive him for, especially as he never seemed truly repentant. He seemed more sorry he’d been caught and sorry for what he’d lost than sorry for what he’d done.

Yes, I know Ben was a new Christian. I know that as Christians we are called to forgive those who have wronged us whether they are repentant or not. Ruth Ann knows this as well. She forgives him, but points out that forgiving him wasn’t the same as trusting him. I thought that was a strong lesson in forgiveness. We are called to forgive, but that doesn’t mean we put ourselves at risk again in future.

All is well by the end.

But it didn’t ring true for me—neither Ben’s actions, or Ruth Ann’s changed attitude. It all seemed convenient to the point of contrived. I wasn’t convinced this was a happy ever after ending … a problem for a romance novel. The overall result was that the last section of A Love Restored didn’t hold my interest as much as the first.

Despite its faults, A Love Restored had a good premise, solid writing, and a Christian message about the importance of forgiveness. I’ll be interested to see what Kelly J Goshorn produces next.

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

About Kelly J Gorshon

Author Photo - Kelly J GorshonKelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. Kelly earned a B.A. in Social Studies Education from Messiah College and an M.Ed. in History Education from The Pennsylvania State University. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, received recognition as the winner of the 2015 COTT Olympia Contest and as a semi-finalist in the 2015 ACFW Genesis contest.

Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

Find Kelly J Gorshon online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Love Restored

With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to Society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal. Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earns him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect he craves. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Find A Love Restored online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 48 | Five Days in Skye

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano, which releases next week. Actually, it re-releases next week, with a fabulous new cover. But I’m sharing the first line from the original 2015 edition, and hoping it hasn’t changed (because it’s a good one!).

First line from Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureno: At least they couldn't fire her.

Have you read Five Days in Skye or the sequel, London Tides? I loved them both, and now I’m waiting for the third book in the series. Unfortunately, I think I have to wait until 2020!

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

You can find Carla Laureano online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About Five Days in Skye

Andrea Sullivan is so consumed by her hospitality-consultant job that she’s forgotten what brings her joy. She dreads her new assignment—a last chance to snag a high-profile client in Scotland. Yet the lush Isle of Skye transcends her preconceptions. As does the man she must impress, the rugged, blue-eyed Scotsman James MacDonald.

He’s passionate about cooking, but after six restaurants, four cookbooks, and his own television show, he’s grown weary of the scrutiny that comes with living in the public eye.

Soon Andrea and James begin to sense these five days in Skye together may just be God’s wild invitation into deeper life . . . and truer love.

Find Five Days in Skye online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of 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!

#ThrowbackThursday | Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Beneath Copper Falls, another nailbiting romantic suspense novel from Colleen Coble. This review was first published at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

A woman is murdered—drowned—in the Prologue. Another woman is almost drowned in the first chapter. Is that creepy or what?

Dana, the almost-victim, escapes from her fiance and returns home to Rock Harbor.

She knows Garrett might track her home, but figures she’ll be surrounded by friends, and he’ll stick out in the small town. He’s determined to get her back—and she’s just as determined to stay away from him, to stay safe.

She has decided she doesn’t need a man to take care of her, but then she meets Boone Carter. That’s a first meeting that doesn’t go well! But they reconcile, and … but that would be telling. Suffice to say this is romantic suspense, and although the emphasis is largely on the suspense, there is still enough romance to keep romance lovers happy.

This was a great story, full of suspense and misdirection.

I thought I’d figured out the identity of the murderer, then something happened which meant I had to be wrong (and I was). We also saw more of the evildoer’s MO as the story progressed, and this just ramped up the tension as we saw him working to ensnare his next victim—another Rock Harbor woman.

At this point I hadn’t guessed the evildoer’s true identity, but that didn’t stop me yelling at the character to get away from the creep. I did eventually work out the real murderer (long before Dana, Bree and co worked it out), but that only added to the suspense. He’s behind you! Get out now!

This is the sixth novel in Colleen Coble’s Rock Harbor series. I think I’ve read one or two of the previous novels—Bree rang a bell, but that was all. It didn’t matter. Beneath Copper Falls can easily be read without having read the previous books. I’m sure fans of the series will be thrilled to read a new installment.

Recommended for thriller fans. Best read the day before your manicure appointment, not the day after.

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

About Colleen Coble

Colleen CobleBest-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.


Find Colleen Coble online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Beneath Copper Falls

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

Find Beneath Copper Falls online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Beneath Copper Falls below:

Introducing J’nell Ciesielski

Author Interview | Introducing J’nell Ciesielski


It’s Writer Wednesday! Today I’d like to introduce you to author J’nell Ciesielski. J’nell has recently released her first book, Among the Poppies, set in England and France during World War One. I reviewed it on Monday, and definitely recommend it!

1. First, please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m originally from Florida which is known as The Sunshine State in America. I spent some years in Texas, then after college joined the Air Force where I was stationed in Germany for three years. Some of my fondest memories were made traveling Europe and meeting my husband. After our contracts were up, we decided to leave the military and come back to the States where we now call Virginia home.

2. It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favorite genre?

Oh, that’s easy 🙂 Historical fiction, particularly if it has a swoon-worthy romance. I love disappearing into bygone eras where honor was worth dying for, love worth living for, and culture worth preserving at all costs. The men seem larger than life, and the women were a force to be reckoned with despite their social constraints. Certainly we have a habit of viewing the past through rose-colored glasses, but history is unencumbered by the trappings of modern convenience where we’ve developed a habit of taking things for granted.

3. What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s a story of Scott F. Fitzgerald’s wife and how she met the brilliant young writer and all their tumultuous years together. It’s sad, thrilling, heartwarming, enraging, and utterly unforgettable. You hear so much about Scott, but never about Zelda which is a shame because she is absolutely fascinating.

This book gives such an insight of the cultural revolution that stormed the world after WWI when all the movers and shakers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Stein, and Porter collided on the colorful streets of Paris to change history forever. Highly recommend!

4. Tell us about Among the Poppies. Who will enjoy it?

Among the Poppies is about a young woman eager to forge her own path as England surges into the Great War, but a duty bound army captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down. Anyone with a taste for adventure is in for quite a ride. Danger is around every corner while love blossoms in the most unlikely of places. Friendships are forged, loyalty tested, and duty to one’s heart is laid on the line. These elements are grounded in rich historical detail as the war to end all wars explodes all around.

5. Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

Like many people the world over, I got swept up in the whirlwind that was Downton Abbey. The elegance, the estates, the manners, and, of course, the clothes. Oh, to wear fancy hats again! Season two plunged the audience into WWI and there I saw it, Lady Sybil the nurse and her world-changing chauffeur love of a man, Branson.

I had to be a part of this world! Gwyn became a chauffeur’s daughter longing for adventure beyond the garage doors, and William is an army captain who, above all, desires order. But Gwyn is anything but orderly 🙂

I’d agree with that! Gwyn is a great character.

6. Who is your favorite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

That’s a toughie. I love Gwyn’s spunk and wish I had more of it, but at the end of the day it’s Roland who makes me smile. He’s charming, witty, and has a zest for life that balances out William’s seriousness. Even in the mud-bogged trenches that man finds something to laugh about, but just when you think he’s gone too far, he pulls out a depth of resilient understanding that takes your breath away. I wouldn’t say I have much in common with Roland, except our love for the finer things in life 🙂 I would be grateful to find my very own Roland friend.

7. Where do you get your character names from? I’m intrigued with this one because I have two William Crawfords in my family tree, and one was the right age to fight in WWI.

How fantastic to find William Crawfords in your tree! You’ll have to let me know if you find out that he did fight in WWI.

Character names are one of the, if not THE, most fun part of the writing process. I have no hard and fast rules to choosing the all important moniker, but I aim for something regional and somewhat era appropriate. Gwynevere Ruthers was so named because her mother loved to read and settled on the queen of Camelot. But Gwyn, being who she is, decided that Gwynevere was too stuffy and prefers to be called Gwyn. For heroes, I like a good strong, classic name. What could be more classic and English than William Crawford? Remember back when I mentioned that little show Downton Abbey? Crawford is my nod to the Crawley clan 🙂

I’m sure the Crawfords are honoured!

Sometimes a name just presents itself in a Hello! This is me! kinda way. When that doesn’t happen I peruse a list I’ve been making through the years. Some have been waiting a long time for an owner, but I know their day is coming. They just need the right character.

IMDB is also a great place to scroll through movie credits because they have thousands of unique names that I never would have thought to use.

8. A lot of research has gone into Among the Poppies. What the hardest part about researching a different time and a different culture?

Research is my absolute favorite part of writing. I love love love diving into all those details, most of which never make it into the story. History is fascinating. It makes us who we are, defines where we come from, and gives us passion to strive even further than we ever imagined possible. But it’s always a challenge understanding an unfamiliar world. The manner of speaking, dressing, thinking, laws, and societal roles are sometimes a minefield to navigate with our modern sensibilities.

9. What research tips can you share?

Read everything you can about the time period. Fiction written during the era so you can understand the inner workings of what concerned people, and fiction set during the era so you can put those bygone inner workings into a modern voice.

Diaries and first-hand accounts like Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain and The Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald were invaluable to me to learn precisely what these people were facing, their hopes and fears, and how the war transformed them. Old movies and of the era music are another touchstone for me. In fact, when Mary Crawley sang ‘If You Were the Only Boy in the World’ I knew I had to have that in my own story.

There is nothing like reading words written by the people affected.

10. What’s the most interesting factoid you found that didn’t make it into the book?

I never let a good factoid escape from my pages. There were a few that found themselves beneath my editor’s red pen, but I fought to keep them because as irrelevant as they may seem, these little elements add that bit of sparkle that take a story from good to remarkable. Burned soldiers suffered such horrendous pain that only Pekinese dog hair was soft enough to be made into blankets for their raw skin. It wouldn’t be the same, nor the truth, if I’d simply left it at a regular ol’ blanket.

11. Do your novels have an overt faith element?

No, though there is a thread of faith. All of my novels are told from a Christian world point of view with plenty of moral obstacles the characters have to face and overcome. I want Christians and non-Christians to pick up my book to find complexities and truth without a sermon.

12. What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t write for a Christian market, per se, but my stories are presented from a Christian’s world point of view with set morals and beliefs. Do the characters ever twist these to the fallacies of the world? Absolutely! But at the center there is a core of unalterable truth that can only come from God Himself. That is a part of me and I can’t imagine not being able to express it.

I think you’ve struck a great balance. As a Christian, I read Among the Poppies and clearly saw the Christian themes. But someone without faith could read it and not find the faith aspect overwhelming. It’s a great story.

13. What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

There is a hope we can cling to in Christian writing that isn’t found in secular writing. Too often secular stories rely on sex, crude language, and titillating situations to convey emotions which I don’t feel comfortable being a part of. I don’t believe morals are something we can play fast and loose with despite what the world may try to convince us of.

14. What kind of support does your publisher give you? What are you expected to do yourself?

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is not a large publisher, but what they lack in size they more than make up in enthusiasm. LPC and my wonderful editor took a chance on a no-name newbie, offering invaluable advice to push me further in my writing abilities while not suffocating me. They’ve helped ease me into the industry instead of chunking me straight into the deep end.

Because they are a small publisher, much of the marketing falls to me. Setting up a launch team, creating Facebook parties, tweeting, blog posting, interviews, etc. I do though LPC does step in with promotional opportunities that I can’t manage on my own. Such as submitting Among the Poppies to Publisher’s Weekly and earning a review slot 🙂 Something I never could have done on my own.

Publisher’s Weekly? How cool!

15. What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited, and published?

Finish writing it! Ha. That’s so easy to say, but sitting down day after day can be downright tough. Especially when the words don’t come and all you want to do is bang your head against the keyboard because you’re most likely the worst writer to ever live and no one will ever read the drivel you’re attempting to write. It’s not a task for the weak of heart. It requires a stubbornness that will carry you all the way through the valleys and straight up to the mountaintops.

The most important thing is not to give into discouragement. Push through those hard moments because at the end is a shining jewel that took years to polish.

16. What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Never give up! If this is truly a passion and you can’t imagine doing anything else, read, read, read. Reading expands your use of language and imagination. Learn everything you can about the craft and industry, enter contests, join writer’s groups, but most importantly, write. Write every day because that is how you become a writer instead of someone wishing they could write.

Thanks for visiting, J’nell! It’s great to hear more about you, and about the story behind Among the Poppies!

About J’nell Ciesielski

Author Photo: J'nell CiesielskiBelieving she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by.

Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies.

Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

You can find J’nell Ciesielski online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

About Among the Poppies

Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.

You can find Among the Poppies online at:


And don’t forget to click here and read my review!

Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Bookish Question #64 | Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Yes! That’s one of the best things about going to writer’s conferences—getting to meet writers.

I attended my first writing conference in October 2012. It was held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and I got to meet several Australian authors I admired, including Rose Dee, Andrea Grigg, Paula Vince, Meredith Resce, and Amanda Deed. I’ve attended five conferences since, and have had the opportunity to meet other wonderful Australian authors such as Narelle Atkins, Dorothy Adamek, Nicki Edwards, and Mary Hawkins—the author of Search for Tomorrow, an early Heartsong Presents title, and the first Christian novel I ever read that was set in Australia.

I’ve also attended several Romance Writers of New Zealand conferences. I’ve met James Scott Bell (who gave a wonderful day-long presentation despite suffering from the flu), and Kristen Lamb.

I’ve also met New Zealand’s own Kara Isaac. I was visiting family in Wellington, where Kara lives, so messaged her and asked if she’d like to meet for coffee so she could autograph my copy of Close to You. We’ve met again since (so she could autograph Can’t Help Fallling, and so she could pass on my Genesis Award, which she was kind enough to collect for me in Nashville.

The other author I’ve met in person was Candace Calvert. She was on holiday, cruising around New Zealand with her husband. I happen to live in a cruise port, so Ellie Whyte, Angela Bycroft and I met Candace after she’d finished the obligatory Hobbiton tour.

(By the way, if you ever do a New Zealand cruise, look me up. If I’m free, I’d love to meet you for coffee after you’ve been to Hobbiton or Rotorua, the city of boiling mud.)

What about you? Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Quote from Among the Poppies: Your nose is stuck in a book half the time, and the other times it's covered in axle grease.

Book Review | Among the Poppies by J’nell Ciesielski

J’nell Ciesielski approached me to ask if I’d be interested in interviewing her, or reviewing Among the Poppies. Well, both! (My interview will post on Wednesday.)

The cover is amazing, but what really caught my eye was the setting … and the hero’s name.

My great-grandmother was a Crawford, and her father and brother were both William (although they weren’t nearly as posh as the Crawfords in Among the Poppies). In fact, I think my William Crawford spent time working as a chauffeur. Or that might have been his son-in-law …

My Crawford family, with both Williams.

Gwynevere Ruthers is the daughter of a chauffeur who loves to drive and aspires to be a pilot (which is something, given Among the Poppies starts in 1915, only a decade since the Wright Brothers first flew). Her fellow nurse, Cecelia Hale, is the daughter of her father’s employer, but the two are friends despite their difference in status.

But Gwyn’s desire to fly must wait, because there is a war on.

She’s trained in first aid and knows motor vehicles inside out. Surely someone will want those skills …

Captain William Crawford believes women have no place on the battlefield. Especially not women like the lovely Cecilia Hale, and her friend Gwyn. But he has a job to do, and there aren’t enough men so it’s inevitable there will soon be female nurses on the battlefield, including both Miss Hale and Miss Ruthers.

Yes, there is going to be trouble. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles, as they usually mean an innocent person is going to lose through no fault of their own. Among the Poppies doesn’t make this mistake, but … no spoilers! You’ll have to read this for yourself.

I’ve read other romance novels set in this era, but none set on or near the actual battlefields.

Those scenes in Among the Poppies were detailed, compelling, and often horrific. I’ve read books, watched TV shows and movies, and visited museums with World War I exhibits. But Among the Poppies brought it all home to me in a new way, which is a testament to the author’s depth of research, and strong writing.

At one point, William says:

“Haven’t you been in the field long enough to see that bravery isn’t always there? Most of the time it’s stupidity and blind orders.”

My great-grandfather was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during his time in France in World War I. I once asked my grandfather what his father had done to earn that honour. He basically said what William Crawford said: he got it for following orders sent by people with no idea.

Yes, I thought Among the Poppies was excellent.

No, it’s not an easy read. But it’s worth the effort. Recommended for fans of Downton Abbey, Carrie Turansky, and World War I romance.

Thanks to Smitten Historical Romance for providing a free ebook for review.

About J’nell Ciesielski

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days creating heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

You can find J’nell Ciesielski online at:

Website | Facebook

About Among the Poppies

Can their love survive? Or will it become another casualty of war?

The ideal lady wears lace, speaks quietly, and never—under any circumstances—fixes an automobile. But Gwyn Ruthers has never cared two snaps about being the ideal lady. With the war to end all wars exploding across the English Channel, she leaves behind her restrictive life as a chauffer’s daughter to serve in an all-female ambulance unit in France. She’s not about to let her social status or gender prevent her from serving her country. Not even a handsome captain can distract her from her mission. Most of the time.

Captain William Crawford wouldn’t wish the ravages of war on any man, much less the captivating woman who insists on driving into battle instead of staying safely at home. He can’t deny that the troops need more medical help, but not when it puts innocent women in danger. How can he lead his men against the Jerries while worrying about Gwyn’s safety?

Bound together by circumstances, Gwyn and William can’t stop the love growing between them. Can their relationship survive, or will it become another casualty of war?

Amazon | Goodreads

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 47 | Through Waters Deep

It’s Friday! That means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line. Today I’m sharing from Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin:

Opening line from Through Waters Deep: On a platform by the bow of the USS Ettinger, Mary Stirling prepared supplies no one would notice unless they were missing.

This is the first Sarah Sundin book I’ve read, but it won’t be the last!

About Through Waters Deep:

You can find Through Waters Deep online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of 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!

Take God out of the equation, and there is no meaning to what had happened with you.

#Throwback Thursday | Book Review | Lu by Beth Troy

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Lu by Beth Troy. Lu is a great example of what I’d like to see more of in Christian fiction: great characters wrestling with the big issues of God and faith and love.

About Lu

“There’s great hope where the road meets the sky – maybe even an answer. But this road leads home. Just home. I thought I’d finished writing that story years ago, but then yesterday’s story happened – the one about the boy who cheats and the girl who leaves.”
Lu Sokolowski never planned to return to her small hometown of Dunlap’s Creek, but it’s the only place she can think of to go after her boyfriend cheats on her. Moving back in with her family lets her run away from her problems, but it also means suffering their attempts to reassemble her failed life, including arranging a job as the wedding beat writer at the local paper and setting her up with Jackson, the divorced pastor of her family’s church. Unexpected success and friendships restore Lu to the family and faith she’d left behind. But when the small-town life Lu never intended shakes up, will she run again?
Lu’s story is a journey of a woman back to her family, her faith, and herself. It’s about second chances and the unchosen circumstances that press the point of who we are and what we believe. Are we the sum of our successes and failures, or does our identity rest in a greater hope?

My Review

All the stories have been written, including mine.

It’s a great first line, because it’s a strong statement that sounds true, in the same way as the famous opening line to Pride and Prejudice sounds true … until you think about it. Because we’re all unique, so our stories are also unique.

Although our stories also have some common elements:

I thought I’d finished writing that story years ago, but then yesterday’s story happened—the one about the boy who cheats and the girl who leaves. You could dress it up and call it a journey. But there was nothing new in the story about the girl who went home because she had nowhere else to go.

I know not everyone enjoys novels written in first person, but I do—especially when the character has a strong and interesting voice, as Lu (short for Louisa) does.

So Lu is home, with a car that barely runs, a 1970’s crockpot, and no money. She finds a job at the local newspaper, where she is asked to write wedding features. And she befriends the young preacher, back in town after his divorce. Lu isn’t sure if she believes in God and she certainly isn’t following him, despite having been raised in church.

Jackson challenges Lu to come to church, and she does. He’s preaching a series on the Book of Ecclesiastes, which brought him through his own tough time when his wife left him. These sermons start Lu on her own faith journey, reading the Bible and trying to understand what Jackson sees in Jesus. At the same time, she’s developing feelings for Jackson … all the while knowing nothing can come of those feelings if they don’t share a faith, and Jackson isn’t going to change.

Lu isn’t typical Christian fiction.

The characters drink alcohol and swear. Lu has been living with her boyfriend, and Jackson is divorced. Yet there is a lot more Christian content than in most Christian novels I read, and it feels natural, not forced. I liked the way the novel showed Lu’s faith journey warts and all, and that the focus was on finding Jesus for herself.

My one complaint about Lu was that it ended too soon. There was a clear ending to the main plot—Lu’s faith journey—but not to the main subplot. This annoyed me at first, but in hindsight it was the right decision. I only hope that dangling thread means there is a sequel in the works.

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

You can find Beth Troy online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Find Lu online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UKGoodreads