Category: Book Review

#ThrowbackThursday | The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

For fans of Downton Abbey (isn’t that everyone?)

Illness has forced the Foster family to return to England from their missionary school and orphanage in India. Julia gains employment at Highland House, the home of Sir William Ramsay, as governess to his children, Andrew and Millicent, and to his teenage cousins and wards, Katharine and Penelope.

Sir William is looking for a governess who won’t mind staying in the country, because he has only recently inherited Highland Hall, and the death duties are placing a lot of financial pressure on him. Julia hasn’t told him she plans on returning to India with her family as soon as her father is well again, and as she spends more time at Highland Hall, getting to know Sir William and his family, she has to rethink her future plans.

The story and characters captured my attention from the start.

I like an intelligent heroine who isn’t afraid to have her own opinions, so I liked Julia. William was a man with many troubles, but made a fitting hero. I liked the romantic subplot featuring Sarah, William’s sister, and I liked the Christian aspect of the story—Julia, especially, has a strong Christian faith (she’s partly modelled on Amy Carmichael, a real-life missionary to India).

The novel combines elements of classic British fiction like Jane Eyre with the Edwardian era, made fashionable by the TV series Downton Abbey. I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey and fiction set in England, and it always bugs me when I’m pulled out of the story by silly factual errors, or by English characters using American vocabulary (like fall or pavement). Carrie Turansky contacted me to ask if I’d read her draft to find any such errors. I was pleased to help, and can only hope I found them all!

The Governess of Highland Hall is the first of a trilogy. Recommended.

About Carrie Turansky

Carrie TuranskyBestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky writes historical and contemporary novels and novellas set in England and the US. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the International Digital Award. Readers say her stories are: “Heartwarming and inspiring! I couldn’t put it down!” . . . “Touching love story. It captured me from the first page! Rich characters, beautifully written” . . . “My new favorite author!”

Find Carrie Turansky online at:

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About The Governess of Highland Hall

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Find The Governess of Highland Hall online at:

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Read the introduction to The Governess of Highland Hall below:

Click here to find The Governess of Highland Hall and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

Book Review | Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

Wow.

Hidden Among the Stars is a powerful dual timeline story—definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

The past story begins in Austria in 1938, just after Adolf Hitler has annexed the country.

Anyone who knows anything of twentieth century history suspects this isn’t going to end well. Max is the only son of a well-off Vienna banker. Luzi is the Jewish violinist he loves, and Annika is the daughter of a family servant … who loves Max.

The present story is that of Calisandra Anne Randall.

Callie is the half-owner of a children’s bookstore in small-town Ohio. The bookstore has been Callie’s refuge since she was a child. Now she’s making it a place where the next generation of children meet and come to love some of her favourite fictional characters.

Callie sells both new and secondhand books, and often finds things hidden in the books she sells. But Bambi is different. It’s not just the photograph hidden inside the book that captures her attention. It’s the German words written between the lines of the book. Callie’s attempts to find the story behind the book lead her to Austria and a mystery that’s almost eighty years old.

There were so many things that impressed me about Hidden in the Stars.

The way the two plot lines intertwined and intersected. The characters. The writing. The excellent historical research. The faith aspect. It all adds up to a lot more than the cover promised. And I was equally invested in the past and present stories, which is rare. (Yes, I’m one of those readers who usually wants to skip forward and read only half the story.)

Quote from Hidden Among the Stars: My story is the same as any other in that no one owns it except me. And it’s filled with threads of achievements and regrets.

The writing was excellent. My writer/editor self I was especially impressed by the way the author combined first person present tense for the contemporary story with third person past tense for the historical story. Mixing first and third person is not a technique for beginners. Mixing present and past tense is even more impressive. That Melanie Dobson managed to do both seamlessly is outstanding writing.

The historical research never overwhelmed the story. It was good to read a novel set in Austria rather than the more traditional Germany. And it was wonderful to read a story that didn’t have any obvious historical inaccuracies yet managed to share new information. (The author’s note at the end explained a couple of things I’d wondered about.)

I was also impressed by the way the Christian elements were woven into the plot.

The first half had very few religious references—Jewish or Christian. The second half brought out many truths about the nature of God, and the nature of good and evil. Unfortunately, World War II taught us a lot about evil … if we care to learn.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a hint of romance from authors like Kristy Cambron, Heidi Chiavaroli, and Cathy Gohlke.

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

About Melanie Dobson

Author photo - Melanie DobsonWriting fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of twenty novels, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical stories including Catching the Wind, Enchanted Isle, Beneath a Golden Veil, and the Legacy of Love novels.

Chateau of Secrets received a Carol Award for historical fiction, Catching the Wind’s audiobook won the 2018 Audie for Inspirational Novel, and The Black Cloister was ForeWord’s Book of the Year for Religious Fiction. Her next time-slip novel, Hidden Among the Stars, comes out in September.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon’s work, the Dobson family has finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, dancing, and reading stories with her girls.

Find Melanie Dobson online at:

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About Hidden Among the Stars

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life.

But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Find Hidden Among the Stars at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Hidden Among the Stars below:

Click here to check out Hidden Among the Stars and other great Christian fiction at  my Amazon shop.

Have you read any of Melanie Dobson’s novels? What did you think?

#ThrowbackThursday | After the Thaw by Therese Heckenkamp

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of After the Thaw by Therese Heckenkamp, which originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

After the Thaw is the sequel to Frozen Footprints—which I hadn’t read, and I certainly didn’t feel I was missing information. There were several flashbacks early in the story, which did make the start feel a little jerky in places. However, they did provide me with plenty of opportunity to catch up on what I’d missed without becoming an overwhelming rehash of what went before.

For those who did read Frozen Footprints, After the Thaw starts over three years later, after Clay has finished his prison sentence. Charlene is now a librarian, and almost engaged to firefighter Ben Jorgensen. She’s escaped from her grandfather’s influence and hasn’t seen Clay in years. But she still has a letter to deliver to him, from his dead mother.

The story starts with a bang (no, I’m not going to tell you what that is, even though it sets the scene and pace for the entire novel), and it doesn’t let up. She’s approached by a strange man with an uncomfortable reminder of her earlier kidnapping. Then she’s arrested for possessing drugs … which makes no sense. And events continue to get stranger and stranger until she doesn’t know where to turn. Although she knows where not to turn: her grandfather.

It’s an excellent story, full of twists and turns which kept me guessing right until the end (especially the Ben/Clay love triangle—I always enjoy a little romance in my suspense). The writing was excellent, and the characters well-developed and realistic.

One thing which is unusual about After the Thaw is that the characters are Roman Catholic. Most Christian fiction shies away from mentioning specific denominations, preferring merely to identify the characters as Christian. (The exception is Amish romance, which seems to dominate the shelves of Christian bookstores to a degree that is far out of proportion with their actual numbers or their influence on world history.) It was refreshing to see an actual denomination … especially one which more often appears to represent the antagonist or the fool.

Overall, I thought After the Thaw was excellent, and recommend it to all Christian suspense fans.

Thanks to Therese Heckenkamp for providing a free ebook for review.

About Therese Heckenkamp

Therese HeckenkampBorn in Australia but raised in the USA as a homeschooled student, Therese Heckenkamp has been writing stories since before she could spell. At age 18, she completed the first draft of her first published novel. Therese is now the author of three Christian suspense novels: Past Suspicion, Frozen Footprints, and After the Thaw.

Past Suspicion and Frozen Footprints have both reached #1 Bestseller in various Amazon Kindle categories, including Religious Drama, Religious Mystery, and Inspirational Religious Fiction.

A busy wife and mother of four, Therese fits in writing whenever she can manage (and sometimes when she can’t). A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she looks forward to writing many more novels in the future. Her newest release, After the Thaw (the long-awaited sequel to Frozen Footprints), is a 2016 Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner in Christian Fiction.

Find Therese Heckenkamp online at:

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About After the Thaw

Some wounds heal. Others leave scars.

Four years ago, Charlene Perigard survived a brutal kidnapping. Now at twenty-two, she’s put that trauma behind her for a promising future with handsome firefighter Ben Jorgensen. But when new trauma strikes, a new nightmare begins.

Sinister threats, a midnight attack, and a deathbed promise drive Charlene to the little town of Creekside, where she encounters a man from her past whom she has long struggled to forget: Clay Morrow–ex-convict and brother of her kidnapper. He’s also the man who once helped save her life.

Despite the odds, Charlene and Clay forge a tentative friendship, unaware of a brooding, mounting danger that seeks to destroy them both. Charlene’s wounded heart must choose between her fiancé and the man whose past is more scarred than her own. But in choosing, she may just lose everything.

Find After the Thaw online at:

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Read the introduction to After the Thaw below:

Have you read Frozen Footprints or After the Thaw? What did you think?

The Space Between Words 2

Throwback Thursday | The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix, an amazing dual timeline novel set in France in 1695 and 2015. Have you read it?

About The Space Between Words

“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?

Find The Space Between Words online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

The Space Between Words starts in Gatingy, France, with Adeline Baillard as the narrator.

It’s 1695, the time of the persecution of the Huguenots, those Protestants who refused the King’s orders to convert to Catholicism. The story then skips forward to 2015, to a first-person account from thirty-four year-old Jessica. Jessica is living in Paris with her friends Patrick and Vonda.

They are about to leave Paris to go touring around Southern France. First, they decide to celebrate with one last night of fun. Vonda suggests a concert at the Bataclan nightclub.

On 14 November 2015, the night of the real-life massacre.

I read The Space Between Words in June 2017, in the week after the London Bridge attack and the benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester attack. That brought home all the more the horror and confusion of the Bataclan bloodbath.

I don’t’ want to say any more about the plot because *spoilers*.

Instead I’ll say this is Jessica’s story. It’s about searching for what has been lost. About finding hope in the midst of  loss. It’s also a story of struggle and courage and faith, especially Adeline’s faith and that of her fellow Huguenots. It’s inspiring.

The story has a strong spiritual thread. This is mostly in the past words of Adeline Baillard, but also in the present conversations between Jessica and her companions. It’s not a “traditional” Christian novel in that the main characters aren’t Christians

But there is a definite faith journey.

 

It reminds me of The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck, The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser, and The Five Times I Met Myself by James L Rubart. The writing was strong, and the story unpredictable (in a good way).

I recommend The Space Between Words for those looking for a novel with depth.

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

About Michele Phoenix

Author Photo: Michele PhoenixBorn in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle is a consultant, writer and speaker with an international perspective. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own venture advocating for Third Culture Kids. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, French pastry, and paths to healing.

Find Michele Phoenix online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Read the introduction to The Space Between Words below:

Quote from Unknown Enemy by Janet Sketchley: Your gift is to see the best in people. What they can be, not necessarily what they are.

Book Review | Unknown Enemy (Green Dory Inn 1) by Janet Sketchley

Today I’m reviewing Unknown Enemy, the first book in Janet Sketchley’s new Green Dory Inn Mystery series, which is set in the town of Lunenburg in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. (For those who are interested, Janet recently took readers on a virtual tour of Lunenburg in a guest post at International Christian Fiction Writers. Click here to read that post.)

Landon Smith has returned to her hometown of Lunenburg for the first time in years, and she doesn’t want to be here now. But Anna, family friend, surrogate mother, mentor, and confidante, needs her. Strange things are afoot at the Green Dory Inn, and the neighbours aren’t sure if Anna’s reports are real or signs of a grief-induced breakdown.

But an intruder might not be Anna’s only problem. There is the challenge of keeping the inn running single-handed, and the rumours … It’s an excellent story, and the start of what promises to be an even better series. I especially liked the author’s note at the end which promised answers to some of the loose ends. Don’t worry—it wasn’t a cliffhanger ending (which I loathe), in that the main plot question was answered. But there were other unanswered questions, not least being thiswhat happened to Landon to drive her away from Lunenburg?

Unknown Enemy is a quick and easy read, and I finished it in under two hours. But it packs a lot of punch—strong characters with plenty of secrets, and enough humour to lighten the writing without destroying the building tension. Landon is an intriguing character—understated, yet with plenty of secrets hinting at hidden depths. The Green Dory Inn also has secrets, and I look forward to finding out more in future books in the series.

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

About Janet Sketchley

Janet Sketchley is an Atlantic Canadian writer who likes her fiction with a splash of mystery or adventure and a dash of Christianity. Why leave faith out of our stories if it’s part of our lives? Her Green Dory Inn series is set near the picturesque town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Janet’s other books include the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional collection, A Year of Tenacity.

Find Janet Sketchley online at:

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About Unknown Enemy

Landon Smith vowed never to return to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Despite her faith, the memories might undo her.

But a shadowy figure has been skulking around the Green Dory Inn—seen only by her friend Anna.

Loyalty demands she stand by this woman who’s been a second mother to her. No matter the cost.

With the police unable to find solid clues, and the incidents escalating, Landon must help Anna discover the truth about the prowler and stop him. Before he turns violent.

Find Unknown Enemy online at:

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Read the introduction to Unknown Enemy below:

#ThrowbackThursday | The Boy in the Hoodie by Catriona McKeown

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of The Boy in the Hoodie, the 2016 debut novel from Australian author Catriona McKeown. This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers.

The Boy in the Hoodie was the winner of the 2016 Omega Writers CALEB Prize for an unpublished manuscript. It was a well-deserved win, because it’s a great coming of age novel about making mistakes, paying the price, and becoming a better person through the experience.

I enjoyed everything about The Boy in the Hoodie. Aussie setting, strong characters, solid plot, and excellent writing with enough humour to offset the often-serious nature of the story. Like this line, where Kat is wishing she could leave her current high school and go to a private school:

Quote from The Boy in the Hoodie by Catriona McKeown

Well, I thought it was funny.

The set-up could have come across as contrived, but it didn’t. I think this was because the story was told in first person from Kat’s point of view, so we could see both why she lied for her friends, and what she thought about it. It was also interesting watching her get to know the boy in the hoodie and find out more about what the adults thought about her misdemeanor.

The boy was also an interesting character, and first person worked well in that I (as the reader) didn’t know any more about him than Kat did, and got to know him as she did—for better and for worse.

I almost read The Boy in the Hoodie in one sitting—yes, it was that good. The ‘almost’ is because the tension got too much towards the end, so I had to take a break. I definitely recommend The Boy in the Hoodie for young adult and not-so-young adult readers.

Any chance of a sequel? I see Paige had issues and I want to know more …

About Catriona McKeown

Catriona McKeown lives on the Fraser Coast in Queensland, Australia, with her husband of 20+ years and three daughters.

​She is passionate about issues of social justice and often writes with such ideals in mind. Her current studies are in Inclusive Education; she is passionate about education that allows every child to reach their full potential and has a particular heart for gifted children as well as those with autism.

​She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. Catriona has completed a writing course at The Writers’ Studio and continues to study the art of writing as time affords her.

Catriona hails from country Victoria, lived a short stint in Western Australia, and has now settled on Queensland as her home state.

Find Catriona McKeown online at:

Website | Facebook

About The Boy in the Hoodie

One girl. One boy. And a friendship that could save them both. Good-girl Kat knew drinking alcohol at school would have serious consequences. But to protect her friend from being expelled, Kat lands herself a term’s worth of detentions. Inside the detention room, she meets a strange boy who obsessively draws dark pictures and covers his head with a grey hoodie. Little does she know, the hoodie hides a dark past … An unlikely friendship forms between Kat and the boy in the hoodie. When she discovers a sinister truth he’s been hiding, she somehow feels compelled to help him—but at what cost? And how much is she willing to risk in order to keep him safe? The Boy in the Hoodie is a real, unforgettable story about past scars and how the ones we love can sometimes heal them.

Find The Boy in the Hoodie online at:

Amazon | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Boy in the Hoodie below:

Quote from Formula of Deception: He was the most strikingly handsome man she had ever seen. The only flaw on him was the wedding ring on his finger.

Book Review | Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

I thought Formula of Deception was another story in the Gwen Marcey series, so was initially surprised when I realised it’s a standalone novel with all new characters. This perception wasn’t helped by the pages of praise for the Gwen Marcey series at the beginning of the book. It also wasn’t a romance, despite my quote above!

Anyway, it took me a little longer to get in to Formula of Deception, because I kept waiting for Gwen to show up. Spoiler: she doesn’t, because the book isn’t about her.

Formula of Deception begins on April Fool’s Day on a small island of the coast of Alaska as an earthquake then tsunami hit. It then moves to the present day, where Murphy Andersen has got a job as a police artist on Kodiak Island, Alaska. She’s drawing a decades-old murder scene, based on the memories of a dying priest.

Murphy was a fascinating character.

There is obviously some unknown trauma in her history, and this unfolds gradually as the plot progresses, as her personal story collides with the story of the dead bodies … and there are soon more dead bodies. A murderer is on the loose … but is this related to the priest’s memories, Murphy’s own personal history, or something else?

Murphy is hiding details about her personal history from her police colleagues, and it’s not always easy to find the truth in her words, thoughts, and actions. This makes the book a challenge, but is also a strength, as it highlights the tension and the suspense. And there is plenty of suspense.

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

About Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Find Carrie Stuart Parks online at:

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About Formula of Deception

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Find Formula of Deception online:

AmazonChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Formula of Deception below:

Read my review of Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Read my review of When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

#ThrowbackThursday | Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone. This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews (which has now been retired).

Pointe and Shoot is a great title, and one that had me hooked from the opening line.

I knew something bad was going to happen. Sure enough, it did.

Everyone thinks Miss Melinda’s death is an unfortunate accident, but her boss, Jayne, isn’t so sure. But no one wants to listen when she says she believes Miss Melinda was lured onto the dark lakeside road. Not the police chief, not her policeman brothers, and not even Danny, her dead brother’s patrol partner.

This is where it got clever. Most of the novel is written in third person from Jayne’s point of view. But some chapters were written in first person, from the point of view of the unknown assailant.

So the reader knows it was murder. Kind of …

I thought the use of first person here was inspired, because it meant we knew nothing about the assailant, not even their gender. Clever!

Miss Natalie, the owner of the ballet school and Jayne’s mother, has Alzheimer’s. It’s a horrible affliction, and I was impressed with the sensitive way it was portrayed, and with Jayne’s unfailing patience with her mother—on her good days, and her not-so-good days. I did, however, have less charitable thoughts towards Jayne’s brothers for some of their attitudes …

There were a few annoying writing niggles—overuse of words like “noticed” (I always figure if I notice a word, it’s been used enough that I notice the word over the writing). And I would have liked a little more of the developing romance between Jayne and Danny—it did feel like this got left behind in the suspense plot. Hey, I like my romantic suspense to have plenty of romance as well as plenty of suspense!

But don’t let that put you off. Pointe and Shoot was an excellent suspense (with romantic overtones), set in a ballet school run by a non-ballerina who once wanted to be a police officer. And which ended with a tantalizing hint that this might be the first book in a series. If so, I’ll be back for more.

About Alison Stone

Author Photo: Alison StoneAlison Stone discovered her love of writing after leaving a corporate engineering job to raise four children.

Constantly battling the siren call of social media, Alison blocks the Internet and hides her smartphone in order to write fast-paced books filled with suspense and romance

Married for almost twenty-five years, Alison lives in Western New York, where the summers are gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a book—or writing one.

Find Alison Stone online at:

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About Pointe and Shoot

Jayne Murphy has always put family first. That’s why she abandoned her dream of joining the police force to run her ailing mother’s dance studio.

When one of the studio’s most talented instructors dies in a car crash, Jayne isn’t convinced it was just an accident. Relentlessly pursuing her hunch, she teams up with Officer Danny Nolan, the best friend and partner of her brother Patrick, who died in the line of duty. Haunted by Patrick’s death, Danny has begun to question whether he should still be a cop at all.

As Jayne digs deeper, suspects emerge, including the victim’s clingy ex-boyfriend and a jealous foe from the cutthroat dance world. Her evolving insights into the case rekindle Jayne’s passion for police work. Danny, too, feels a renewed sense of purpose…and a definite attraction to his unofficial partner, which seems to be mutual. Now, if Jayne can only keep herself out of harm’s way, she and Danny both might get a second chance—with their careers and each other.

Find Pointe and Shoot online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Pointe and Shoot below:

Quote from Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll: Just because someone doesn't believe something doesn't make it less real.

Book Review | Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll

Adelaide Fontaine is the General Manager of the Darkwater Inn in New Orleans, but she might not be for much longer. Not if her boss has his way. She is—unknowingly—being pursued by two men: Beau, a police officer and longtime family friend, and Dimitri, the son of the hotel’s owner, who wants to be a chef rather than follow the management path his father has laid out for him.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, life is about to get more complicated when a body is discovered in one of the hotel’s rooms … and the body has links to Adelaide’s hidden past.

Adelaide, Beau, and Dimitri are all great characters (and I usually loathe the love triangle plot).

There is plenty of action, plenty of secrets, and plenty of clues to consider as I wondered who-dun-it. What’s most interesting is that finding the culprit wasn’t the end of the story—it was almost as though the murder were the vehicle to explore some deeper personal issues …

There are elements of romance, suspense, mystery, plenty of secrets and even a little voodoo. Yes, voodoo in a Christian novel. As one of the characters says, the Bible wouldn’t need to warn us against demons and evil if they didn’t exist. All in all, an excellent novel, and I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.

Thanks to Gilead Publishing for providing a free ebook for review.

About Robin Caroll

Robin Caroll grew up in Louisiana with her nose in a book. She still has the complete Trixie Belden series, and her love for mysteries and suspense has only increased with her age. Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her published novels.

Best-selling author of thirty-plus novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in the South. Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW.

Find Robin Caroll online at:

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About Darkwater Secrets

A murder investigation uncovers sordid secrets and haunting mistakes

The Darkwater Inn stands tall and proud in the French Quarter, the hub of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is bustling, and General Manager Adelaide Fountaine has her hands full with a hotel at capacity. She, along with everyone else, is shocked when a body is found: a hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, is on the case. As Beau digs into the victim’s past, he unearths a shocking connection between Adelaide and the murdered guest. Beau is hurt that his friend—the woman he’s quietly loved for years—kept the truth from him. To make matters worse, the stress of the investigation has sent Adelaide right into the comforting arms of her coworker Dimitri. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . he’s keeping secrets of his own.

Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose?

Find Darkwater Secrets online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Darkwater Secrets below:

Papa doesn't need buildings and potlucks and crowds. He just needs us and our ability to love on him.

#Throwback Thursday | Broken Like Glass by EJ McCay

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Broken Like Glass by EJ McCay. This review was originally posted in May 2017.

There are not many novels that manage to grip me from the very first line, but this was one:

“Lillian. Lillian? Can you hear me, Lillian?” My therapist’s voice grates on my. I’d say like nails on a chalkboard, but that wouldn’t accurately describe just how much I hate her voice.

By the end of the first page, we know Lillian is in court-ordered therapy. By the end of the second page, we know why:

“Help me understand why you stabbed your dad with a knife in the middle of the grocery store, and then went home and smashed everything.”
“Some people deserve a little knifing every once in a while and his furniture was a hundred years past vintage. I’d say I did him a favor.”

So Lillian is stuck in her home town for six months until she can explain why … which isn’t so easy. As the novel progresses, we see more and more glimpses of Lillian’s broken past as she opens herself up to her teenage crush, to her therapist, and to Jesus—who she refers to as Papa. The title implies we’re going to see a broken person, and we do, but we also strength and character.

Lillian is a strong main character.

Some people won’t be able to related to the writing—first person present tense—but I thought it was the perfect choice. It gave us an insight into Lillian, and the present tense gave the story the necessary sense of immediacy.

Reading a first person story narrated by a character who has secrets and hides them from the reader can be frustrating. I always feel that if the character knows the truth about a matter, the reader should know that truth as well. And that’s why I think first person worked so well in Broken Like Glass, because Lillian didn’t know. Her secrets were so deep, she hid them from herself.

Broken Like Glass combined some of the freshest writing I’ve read in ages. The use of first person present tense was inspired. The plot was layered, complex, and never predictable (the couple of minor plot points I almost predicted were minor in comparison to the major twists I ever saw coming).

But the true triumph of Broken Like Glass is Lilly’s relationship with Papa, something her therapist, Chrissy, sees as Lilly’s strength:

“But this relationship you have. It’s so … tangible. I want that.”
“Then have it.”
Chrissy looks at me funny. “But how? How did you do it?”
“I clung to the only thing I could. He’s all I had. He’s all I ever had … my only friend was Papa.”

Lilly is the perfect embodiment of the Christian faith as a relationship with Jesus.

The scenes where Papa talks and Lilly listens remind me of God speaking in The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. The themes and writing reminded me of Christa Allen and Varina Denman and Amy Matayo, and other newer writers in Christian fiction. But the most important thing is that Broken Like Glass makes me want to know Papa in the way Lilly does. And shouldn’t that be the aim of Christian fiction?

Recommended.

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

About EJ McCay

EJ McCay grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and currently resides in Lubbock, Texas. She lives with her husband, two girls, and four cats.

Writing wasn’t always her dream. That came about when she was in her mid-twenties. Since then, it’s become more than a passion, it’s become part of what makes her tick. She writes in multiple genres from YA to Adult Romance.

When not writing, she’s a nerd-herding lover of Chuck, and enjoyer of good coffee. Some of her favorite books include Ender’s Game, The Percy Jackson Series, and the Alex Van Helsing trilogy–just to mention a few.

Find EJ McCay online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Broken Like Glass

How is Papa supposed to set me free when I don’t even know what I need to be freed from?

Lillian Louis James tried to live a good life but her father had a knack for bringing out the worst in her. When a quick weekend visit with him turned violent she found herself on the wrong end of the law. Stuck in the small town she would rather forget Lillian was forced to attend therapy and try to figure out where it all went wrong. Her high school crush showing up on the scene didn’t help either as unresolved feelings bubbled to the surface. Will Lillian let Jesus heal her broken past before her chance at love is gone?

Find Broken Like Glass online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Broken Like Glass below: