Category: #ThrowbackThursday

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

#ThrowbackThursday | Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Heart on the Line the second novel (and third book) in Karen Witemeyer’s Ladies of Harper’s Station series. This review first appeared at Australasian Christian Writers in June 2017.

Heart on the Line is a standalone story, but you’ll probably understand the women’s colony and their attitude to men better if you at least read No Other Will Do first (and perhaps Worth the Wait as well).

Like No Other Will Do, Heart on the Line is a departure from Karen Witemeyer’s witty historical romances. It’s more of a witty romantic suspense.

It starts with a Prologue, which I found rather confusing—we were introduced to a lot of off-stage characters in short order, perhaps too many. The point was introducing the central conflict of the novel: that Herschel Mallory has discovered Chaucer Haversham isn’t the rightful heir of his father’s fortune, a discovery Mallory pays for with his life, leaving his daughter an orphan on the run.

Chapter One opens a year later. Grace Mallory is hiding in the women’s colony of Harper’s Station, and working as the local telegraph operator. After hours, she chats online (on the telegraph line, not our online!) with Mr A., the telegraph operator in a neighbouring town. All is well, until she receives a late-night coded message that might mean her hiding place has been found.

When Amos Bledsoe hears Miss G might be in danger, he travels to Harper’s Station to protect her—and to see if the chemistry between them sparks in real life the way it does over the lines. Of course, there is the obvious issue of a man turning up in a women’s colony after they’ve all been warned to expect bad men … but that’s sorted out in a most original manner.

Heart on the Line is an excellent novel.

Grace and Amos are both great characters, and their shared occupation made for some great moments. The writing was excellent, a perfect mix of humour, romance and suspense, with just the right injection of the Christian faith. There was also a subplot with the man-shy Helen, and I loved that as much as the main Grace/Amos romance plot.

And there was plenty of suspense. The identity of the evildoer was kind of obvious to the reader, but was equally obvious to Grace (yay for intelligent heroines!). That added to the fun—how would she keep him from knowing she was onto him? And who would find the missing documents first!

Recommended for all romantic suspense fans.

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

About Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Find Heart on the Line online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

About Karen Witemeyer

Author Photo: Karen WitemeyerFor those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warm-hearted historical romances with a flair of humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website.

Find Karen Witemeyer online at:

Website | Facebook

#ThrowbackThursday | When Fall Fades by Amy Leigh Simpson

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of When Fall Fades by Amy Leigh Simpson. I first reviewed this for Suspense Sisters Reviews, and I’m resharing it because I just found out the latest book in the series just released … If Spring Comes, which is the third book in The Girl Next Door series. Which means I completely missed book 2 (From Winter’s Ashes). I’m guessing we can expect a summer book in a year or so.

When Fall Fades is an excellent debut novel. The writing is outstanding, and I found myself underlining a lot of lines because they were funny (Special Agent Smolder), clever, original, or all three. The plot was excellent, both the main romance and murder/suspense plots, and the more subtle hints about the character’s personal histories . . . and how these might play in to future novels in the series.

But the real strength was the characters. Archer Hayes is the perfect hero: handsome, intelligent, hard-working, dedicated. And hopelessly attracted to Sadie Carson, who is intelligent and caring and sassy, and more than prepared to stand up to the sometimes arrogant FBI agent. I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay between the two, and totally bought into their mutual attraction even before they were prepared to admit it to each other.

While When Fall Fades is published by a general market publisher, it has strong Christian themes, including one character reconsidering their relationship with God. Aspects of When Fall Fades are more edgy than general Christian fiction—there’s more kissing, for example, and it’s more hot-and-heavy than the kissing I see in most Christian fiction, but it never crosses the line into inappropriate (in my view), and definitely counts as clean fiction.

Recommended. I’ll definitely be watching for the sequel!

(Which you now know I totally missed!)

About When Fall Fades

Sadie Carson is an expert on unfinished business. Five years after the derailment of her dreams she’s just barely existing, using her job as a hospice nurse to give others the one thing she can’t seem to find-closure. So when her elderly neighbour Charlie, a brilliant conspiracy nut known for harassing the FBI, is murdered, Sadie suspects Charlie might’ve been onto something and intends to make sure someone solves the mystery of her friend’s death, even if it’s her.

The feisty little blonde may have found the victim’s body, but FBI Special Agent Archer Hayes has no intention of letting some nosy civilian interfere with his investigation. The guilt he feels is bad enough. The last thing Archer needs is another distraction to haunt him. Especially one as beautiful and beguiling as the girl next door. But throw in a mountain of hoarded evidence and suspiciously coded journals and the case takes a puzzling turn toward a decades old conspiracy cover-up from World War II-one only the victim’s closest confidant can help untangle.

Sadie and Archer reluctantly join forces to decode the riddle of secrets Charlie carried to his grave. Or did he? Someone is after a dangerous truth. But to uncover it or bury it is a question that leads the unlikely pair on a quest for redemption that lands Sadie in the crosshairs of a desperate killer. And when the dangers of the past and present collide Archer must fight to save the life of the woman he’s falling for . . . only to discover he might be the one in need of saving.

Find When Fall Fades online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

About Amy Leigh Simpson

Author Photo: Amy Leigh SimpsonAmy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not stealing moments at naptime to squeeze out a few more adventures in storyland, she’s chasing around two tow-headed miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with one sweet princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most swoon-worthy man alive.

Amy is a Midwestern-girl, a singer, blogger, runner, coffee-addict, and foodie. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo-boos, but whatever is left usually finds its way onto the page with fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.

Find Amy Leigh Simpson online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

The amount of female attention her brother garnered never failed to amaze Lucy.

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | A Dangerous Legacy

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden. The sequel, A Daring Venture, releases soon, and you’ll want to have read A Dangerous Legacy first!

About A Dangerous Legacy

Lucy Drake’s mastery of Morse code has made her a valuable asset to the American news agencies as a telegrapher. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Newly arrived from London, Colin is talented, handsome, and insufferably charming.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy realizes Colin’s connections could be just what her family needs to turn the tide of their long legal battle over the fortune they were swindled out of forty years ago. When she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, neither of them realizes how far the web of treachery they’re wading into will take them.

My Review

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Camden’s novels.

She has a unique ability to find lesser-known historical events or situations, and build a novel around them. A Dangerous Legacy includes the politcal background to the buiding of the first Panama Canal, PTSD, and the invention of the plumbing valve which enables us to have water pressure in multi-storey buildings. It also includes the slightly more familiar telegraph operators, and the necessity for British peers to marry American heiresses to shore up their crumbling estates.

Lucy Drake is a telegraph operator for upstart American news agency Associated Press. Sir Colin Beckwith is the manager of Reuters, AP’s rival. He’s one of those impoverished British gentlemen looking for a heiress, and Lucy is not a heiress. Her side of the Drake family lost control of their revolutionary water valve, and their legal battle is ongoing.

But Lucy and Colin keep getting thrown together, and they become allies of sorts after each finds out an awkward secret about the other. But neither of them realise how dangerous finding the truth will be, to their lives, their sanity, and their hearts.

Colin was a great hero.

He’s willing to do the right thing even at a personal cost to himself. He’s British through and through, almost the perfect gentleman. And Lucy was my favorite type of heroine—intelligent, independent, and hard-working. They made a great couple. I loved their conversations and banter, and wanted them to be together. It was r good to see their romance build bit by bit as they got to know each other.

A Dangerous Legacy had a lot more suspense than I was expecting, but I’m a romantic suspense fan so that worked for me! It certainly made the novel hard to put down.

Recommended for fans of Deeanne Gist, especially her later books which are solid historical romance but without an overt Christian element. A Dangerous Legacy had a few time-appropriate nods to Christianity, but the faith aspect wasn’t even a minor plot point.

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

 

About Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

Find Elizabeth Camden online at:

Website | Facebook

Find A Dangerous Legacy online at:

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

Read the introduction to A Dangerous Legacy below:

#ThrowbackThursday | The Priority Unit by Susan Page Davis

It’s Throwback Thursday, and today I’m sharing my review of The Priority Unit by Susan Page Davis. This review first appeared at the now-defunct Suspense Sisters Reviews, and I’m delighted to be able to share it again. I love Susan Page Davis’s romantic suspense novels. She was one of the first authors I read in the genre, and is one of the big reasons I’m such a fan.

My Review

Jennifer Wainthrop meets Detective Harvey Larson when he visits her workplace to investigate the disappearance of one of her colleagues, and he asks her out.

I’m not always a fan of romances where there is a big age gap between the hero and heroine.  I’ve always found Jane Austen’s Mr Knightley a little creepy, and even as a child I could see the potential for problems in the marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana. I think The Priority Unit dealt with the sixteen-year age gap well. This was helped by the fact Harvey Larson was a man of principle and honour, and I could see what Jennifer saw in him.

Equally, while Jennifer was young, she had a maturity and professionalism that belied her age. And she was an outstanding computer programmer (in a world full of too-stupid-to-live heroines, I’m always impressed by a heroine (or hero) with intelligence, competence, and professionalism.

The suspense thread was well balanced against the romance.

The novel was perhaps more focused on the relationship rather than the suspense. The suspense is there, but it’s somewhat low key—without a body it’s hard to know whether a crime has been committed, let alone solve it. Although the missing computer programmer isn’t Harvey’s only problem. Someone seems to have a target on his back…

What impressed me the most was the overt Christian aspect of the novel.

Neither Harvey nor Jennifer were Christians at the beginning, yet they both commit to making an honest search to see if God is real—a search they commence together. This brings them closer together at the same time as having the potential to drive them apart—what if only one chooses to believe?

Susan Page Davis is the author of Frasier Island, one of my all-time favourite romantic suspense novels. Okay, so there are elements of both novels which stretch the bounds of credibility if you think about them too much, but the characters and story are so strong it doesn’t matter.

Overall, The Priority Unit was a Christian Romantic Suspense novel which actually managed to give all three aspects equal weight—it was overtly Christian, with a building romance, and an ongoing suspense thread. An excellent novel which is especially praiseworthy for the overt Christian aspect. Even better, it’s the first in a series!

Recommended.

About Susan Page Davis

Author Photo: Susan Page Davis

Susan Page Davis writes romantic suspense, historical romance, and mystery. She is a Maine native now living in Kentucky, and a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and KenTen Writers. Her books have won several awards including the Carol Award for her novel The Prisoners Wife; the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for The Prisoner’s Wife and The Lumberjack’s Lady (Maine Brides series); and the Will Rogers Medallion Award for her novels Captive Trail (Texas Trails series, 2012) and The Outlaw Takes a Bride (2016).

You can find Susan Page Davis online at:

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter

About The Priority Unit

A missing man.

A mysterious computer program –

Even the people constructing it don’t know what it will do.

On the worst night of Harvey Larson’s life, his partner is killed and his wife, Carrie, walks out on him. Ten years later, the Portland, Maine police detective has learned to cope with his grief and depression. When he and the Priority Unit investigate the disappearance of software designer Nick Dunham, he meets a young woman who will change his life. Jennifer Wainthrop was the last person to admit seeing Dunham alive.

Harvey and his partner, Eddie Thibodeau, stay a step ahead of a bomber and put together the clues that tell the truth: Dunham’s kidnapping and the bombings are one case, and Jennifer is caught in the middle. News that Carrie has committed suicide may plunge Harvey back into despair. Harvey turns to God for help untangling his complicated life. He finds strength in his faith as he attempts to save Jennifer from the same grim fate that claimed Nick. But Jennifer must depend on her own wits and God alone when the killer gets too close.

You can find The Priority Unit online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to The Priority Unit below:

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

It’s Throwback Thursday, when I share a review of an older book (or reshare a review). Today I’m resharing my review of the brilliant Long Way Gone by Charles Martin. His newest book, Send Down the Rain, released on Wednesday, and I’ll be reviewing it later this month. This review first appeared at Australasian Christian Writers.

About Long Way Gone

No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone. You can always come home.

At the age of eighteen, musician and songwriter Cooper O’Connor took everything his father held dear and drove 1,200 miles from home to Nashville, his life riding on a six-string guitar and the bold wager that he had talent. But his wager soon proved foolish.

Five years after losing everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, an angelic voice in need of a song. But just as he realizes his love for Daley, Cooper faces a tragedy that threatens his life as well as his career. With nowhere else to go, he returns home to the remote Colorado mountains, searching for answers about his father and his faith.

When Daley shows up on his street corner twenty years later, he wonders if it’s too late to tell her the truth about his past—and if he is ready to face it himself.

A radical retelling of the prodigal son story, Long Way Gone takes us from tent revivals to the Ryman Auditorium to the tender relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped calling him home.

My Review

Well, that’s a great first line—I don’t know who is speaking, but by the end of the first page I know he’s a musician. Who else would describe the worn-out guitar as “an old Gibson J-45”? And then he goes on to say:

The residue of musical genius. That’s strong writing—writing I want to read more of. I’m not going to bore you with all the quotes I highlighted in Long Way Gone, but there were a lot. But I hope you’ll forgive me one more, because it’s a great example of how to get a lot of setting across in one short sentence:

But you’re here to read a book review, not a commentary on the writing.

Long Way Gone is a retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son, set in high-country Colorado and among the ups and downs of the Nashville music industry. It’s written in first person from the point of view of Cooper O’Connor, an evangelist’s son with a gift for music.

The writing is outstanding, the plot is excellent, the structure close to perfect.

I was fascinated by the musical information—the Ryman theatre, the Nashville Notation System, the whole music vibe. Anyone who watches Nashville or who has ever visited (or wants to visit) the home of country music will appreciate that side of it (and will be able to relate to the characters). I was impressed with the way so much research and setting was dropped in without it ever getting in the way of the central story.

The story spans decades.

So while we see Cooper’s mistakes through his eyes, we see them through the eyes of a man who has matured enough to realise they were mistakes—mistakes he’s repented from, even if he’s still not fully reconciled to the consequences of those mistakes.

It’s a story about a man (who loves a woman—yes, there is a romance element), and his love for music. It’s a story of a man who makes mistakes in his pursuit of happiness. And it’s a story about how sometimes those mistakes can be made right again, and sometimes they can’t.

Recommended for music fans, romance fans, or anyone who appreciates good writing.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Charles Martin at his website, and you can read the introduction to Long Way Gone below:

About Charles Martin

Author Photo: Charles MartinChristy and I married in 1993. If you include dating, I’ve known and loved her for more than half my life. She is and always will be the home for my heart. We have three boys. Charlie, John T. and Rives. Folks often ask me, which of my books do I like the best. You might as well line up my sons and ask me who I love the most.

My hobbies are bow hunting, working out (a blend of old school stuff and martial arts, called Fight Fit) and Tae Kwon Do. In October 2012 I earned my black belt but I’m still the least flexible person you’ve ever met. The guy that trains me, laughs everytime I start warming up. My boys are far better at Tae Kwon Do than I but I doubt they have as much fun – I get to do and watch. They just do.

I also like to write, but that’s another story.

You can find Charles Martin online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Her plan had completely backfired. And that was the key right there. It had been her plan.

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Blue Ridge Sunrise

It’s #Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter, first in the Blue Ridge Romance series. The sequel, Honeysuckle Dreams, was published this week.

About Blue Ridge Sunrise

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe—a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

You can find Blue Ridge Sunrise online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK
ChristianBook | GoodReads | Koorong

My Review

Zoe Collins is back in Copper Creek for her grandmother’s funeral, accompanied by her musician boyfriend and four-year-old daughter. She’s only planned to stay the day—she and Kyle have to get back to Nashville for a concert, and she has no desire to reconnect with her father. But her plans change when she finds out she’s inherited Granny’s peach orchard, the only place she’s felt at home since her mother died.

What no one has told her in the five years she’s been away is that the orchard manager is Cruz Huntley, her first love and Gracie’s father. Now the two are thrown together as Zoe tries to save her family orchard, against the advice of everyone else—especially Kyle, and her father. And it seems someone is prepared to do more than tell her running the orchard is a stupid idea.

Someone seems prepared to go to great lengths to ensure she gives up and goes back to Nashville.

Zoe and Cruz were both great characters, and I wanted them to get back together right from the start. It was good to see a romance where the couple isn’t apart for the whole novel. I think that’s why I like romantic suspense, because of the way the external suspense plot serves to both bring the characters together and keep them apart. Blue Ridge Sunrise did a great job in this regard.

There were lots of great lines. Unfortunately, I can’t share most of them because they might give something important away (although I did share the opening line last week as part of #FirstLineFriday). Let’s just say the writing is excellent, and there are many nuggets of truth hidden in Blue Ridge Sunrise. Like this line at the top of this post.

The other thing I liked …

While there is a happy-ever-after ending (this is a romance. There has to be a happy-ever-after ending), the ending isn’t all roses and pink unicorns. Relationships are messy, and can’t always be tidied up nicely to fit a 80,000 word novel (or however long this is).

Blue Ridge Sunrise is the beginning of a series, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing some of those relationships develop and improve in future novels. As an aside, while it’s the beginning of a series, it’s the same setting as Denise Hunter’s last book, Sweetbriar Cottage, and there are a couple of references.

Overall, recommended for those who enjoy Christian romance with a faith focus, and plenty of suspense.

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

About Honeysuckle Dreams

(Book Two in the Blue Ridge Romance series)

After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.

Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiance.

Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.

As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find.

Okay. That sounds like another must-read! Have you read Blue Ridge Sunrise or Honeysuckle Dreams? What did you think?

About Denise Hunter

Denise HunterDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 30 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband raised three boys and are currently enjoying an empty nest.

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

#ThrowbackThursday | Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

It’s Throwback Thursday, and today I’m sharing my review of Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl. This review first appeared at the now-defunct Suspense Sisters Reviews, and I’m delighted to be able to share it again.

About Fatal Frost

Mehl Ramps Up the Suspense in This Brand-New U.S. Marshals Series

Mercy Brennan followed in her father’s footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she’s assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis’s most powerful gang.

When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent–a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy’s ex-boyfriend–to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety.

Initially unaware of the danger she’s in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy’s frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn’t until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive–if help is even coming at all?

My Review

Well, the book description promised suspense, and Fatal Frost delivered in spades and shovels and snow.

Lots of snow.

This illustrates my one possible complaint with Fatal Frost: the title and cover underplay the suspense. The cover reflects my picture of a frost: a little frozen ground which means you have to walk carefully. But the novel features a full-on snow storm, with ice that drives their car off the road, and snow so deep they can’t even consider going for help. My nails survived, but only just.

But Fatal Frost is more than nail-biting suspense. It’s also got strong characters, interesting characters, characters with history. Mercy and Mark used to date … until he became a Christian. Now they’re being forced to work together again, and she’s not happy about it, not least because of Mark’s faith. Working with them is Tally, Mercy’s next-door neighbour and childhood best friend, who is also reconsidering questions of faith.

This, I think, is one of the strengths of Fatal Frost.

It’s not just suspense and romance. There is a strong Christian theme in that Mark is a Christian, and Tally is considering Christianity since his wife has started taking their children to church. Being forced into close confines—and danger—forces Mercy to consider God for herself … and reconsider Mark, and why she broke up with him.

I won’t say more—you need to read this for yourself. Recommended for Christian suspense fans, especially those looking for more than just romance and suspense in their Christian romantic suspense.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free e-book for review.

About Nancy Mehl

Author photo: Nancy MehlNancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

You can find Fatal Frost online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

#Throwback Thursday | Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

It’s Throwback Thursday, where I share a review of an older book, or reshare a review. Today I’m resharing my review of Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter, a wonderful Christian novel of the power of unconditional love. It’s a standalone novel, but it’s set in the same community as Hunter’s Blue Ridge Romance series. I’ve already reviewed Blue Ridge Sunrise, and Honeysuckle Dreams releases on 1 May 2018. I’ll post my review in a couple of weeks.

About Sweetbriar Cottage

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage–and okay, the botched divorce–was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife–still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone–including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

You can find Sweetbriar Cottage online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

Noah Mitchell is less than impressed when he finds his ex-wife is actually still his wife.

She forgot to file their divorce papers, so the divorce was never final. Oops. Now he has to get those papers filed to get the IRS off his back. But getting them filed means visiting Josephine Dupree Mitchell again—not something he’s looking forward to.

Josie knows how much Nate doesn’t want to spend time with her.

And why would he, after what she did? So she decides to be helpful and save Nate a trip into town by driving out to his ranch to deliver the signed papers. She can get his signature, file the papers with the judge, and the divorce will be done. At last.

Only things never work out as planned, because a snowstorm hits as Josie arrives at the ranch. She’s trapped with Nate, the ex-husband she still has feelings for.

Then things get worse …

Sweetbriar Cottage is a sweet (!) yet powerful exploration of the nature of unconditional love. It starts in the present, but has multiple flashbacks. Flashbacks to three and a half years ago, when Nate and Josie first met. And flashbacks to Josie’s childhood—the childhood she never discussed with Nate. The flashbacks gradually reveal what she did—and why.

It was always obvious Nate was the one who had instigated the divorce, and this got me wondering . How can you meet, marry, and divorce in just three years? (This seems unbelievably fast. I live in New Zealand, where it takes at least two years to get a divorce.) What had she done that he couldn’t forgive? And why did he marry a non-Christian in the first place?

It was also obvious that Josie was one emotionally messed up woman, and that whatever she’d done was the result of her messed up teenage years (triggers!) and her subsequent belief that there is no such thing as unconditional love.

Spoiler: there is. But that’s something Nate and Josie both need to learn.

I’d been a little apprehensive about reading Sweetwater Cottage, but it captured me from the beginning and never let up. A great second chance romance with some deep Christian themes.

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

About Denise Hunter

Denise HunterDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 30 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband raised three boys and are currently enjoying an empty nest.

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

You can read the introduction to Sweetbriar Cottage below:

#Throwback Thursday | A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

It’s Throwback Thursday, and today I’m sharing a review that originally appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads in September 2015. A Noble Masquerade was Kristi Ann Hunter’s debut novel, and it went on to win final in several awards, and won the 2016 Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Inspirational Romance. All were well deserved. I really must read this again!

A Noble Masquerade is Regency romance, my favourite historical period and one that is woefully underrepresented in Christian fiction. It’s also got a strong suspense plot, and it’s no secret romantic suspense is my favourite genre.

The book is off to a good start …

Lady Miranda Hawthorne might be titled and have been raised to be a lady, but she’s not a lady at heart. She has unladylike thoughts and sometimes does unladylike things, and she’s currently bemoaning her single state. For years, she’s been pouring her unladylike heart out to Marsh, her brother’s best friend since his school days. Not that she’s ever posted the letters. A single woman writing to a man is most unladylike.

But after one particularly stressful evening, in which Lady Miranda realises her shallow younger sister is going to eclipse her socially once she is “out”, Miranda finds herself in conversation with her brother’s new valet—his handsome new valet–and writing yet another letter to Marsh. Only the valet finds the letter and posts it, and a week later, Miranda gets a response from Marsh, the mysterious Duke of Marshington who no one has seen for nine long years. Oops.

Things soon get complicated.

Miranda finds herself fighting an attraction to Marlow, completely the wrong man, and getting to know Marsh through his letters … and finding herself attracted to him as well. Then the suspense plot takes hold, and I don’t want to say anything more because that would be a spoiler. You’ll just have to read it for yourself to find out what happens.

There were times when it didn’t seem like A Noble Masquerade was the first novel in the series at all.

It wasn’t as though I felt I was missing information, more that it felt like the characters had more history together than I was seeing on the page. When I checked Amazon, I found I was right: Kristi Ann Hunter also has a free prequel novella available, A Lady of Esteem. I obviously downloaded this immediately, and am planning to read it right after I finish this review …

A Noble Masquerade will appeal to fans of historical romance, especially Regency romance. The writing is excellent, with plenty of plot twists and turns, quirky characters and plenty of humour. But it’s definitely Christian fiction, and the faith elements are handled especially well. Recommended.

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

About Kristi Ann Hunter

Author photo: Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi is the RITA® award winning author of Regency romance novels from a Christian worldview. Her titles include A Noble Masquerade, An Elegant Façade, and An Uncommon Courtship. Beyond writing, she is also speaker, teaching classes in writing as well as Biblical and spiritual topics. She has spoken to writers’ groups, schools, and young women’s groups at churches.

When she is not writing or interacting with her readers, Kristi spends time with her family and her church. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a computer science degree, she can also be found fiddling with her computer in her free time. A born lover of stories she is also an avid reader. From very young she dreamed of sharing her own stories with others and praises God daily that she gets to live that dream today.

You can find Kristi Ann Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Noble Masquerade

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

You can find A Noble Masquerade online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to A Noble Masquerade below: