Category: #ThrowbackThursday

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:

#ThrowbackThursday | A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

It’s Throwback Thursday, and today I’m sharing my review of A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti. She is known for her emotional and exceptional writing, and A Fragile Hope proves both points. Even though I didn’t like the hero.

One of my ‘rules’ for reading and reviewing is that I have to like the main character—it’s hard to like a book (especially a romance) if you can’t stand the hero.

A Fragile Hope is the exception to that rule.

Josiah Chamberlain is one of the most self-absorbed men you could ever hope to meet. He’s a Christian relationship counsellor who has given up counselling in favour of writing best-selling self-help books while his wife dabbles in some little hobby ‘business’, selling home-made greeting cards.

But he’s forced to re-evaluate his life when Karin is involved in a fatal car accident. She ends up in ICU, unconscious. And she’s apparently pregnant … after they’ve been told Josiah can’t have children. This is the slightly frustrating cause of the Big Misunderstanding, something that could have been sorted out early in the novel. But Josiah is the man who always has the right answer so it never occurs to him that he hasn’t.

I didn’t like Josiah, but I kept reading out of some kind of macabre fascination. Would Mr Intelligent get a clue? And when?

The other reason I kept reading was because of the writing. There were so much great writing, so many great lines. I appreciated the way the Christian themes were woven in, strong but not overwhelming or out of place.

Overall, recommended for the outstanding writing, thought-provoking Christian themes, and a great character-driven story. Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Cynthia Ruchti

Author photo: Cynthia RuchtiCynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-Hope through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and through speaking for women’s and writers’ events. Her books have been recognized by many top industry readers’, reviewers’, library, retailer, and other honors.
Cynthia is the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren.

You can find Cynthia online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

About A Fragile Hope

Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

You can find A Fragile Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Fragile Hope below:

#ThrowbackThursday | Pursued by Lisa Harris (Nikki Boyd #3)

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing a review I originally wrote for Suspense Sisters Reviews in May 2017, the third book in the Nikki Boyd series by Lisa Harris. Spoiler: if you like suspense novels, you should read the whole series, starting with Vendetta.

Pursued starts with a bang, literally, as Nikki Boyd’s plane crashes. No one notices the woman she was sitting beside disappear in the confusion following the crash, and when Nikki questions investigators, they seem to think she is traumatised and hallucinating, because the flight manifest says the seat next to her was empty.

That’s soon cleared up, and now Nikki has two days to find the missing Erika Hamilton. The race is on, and the pace never lets up. There are constant twists and turns as Nikki and her partner follow a trail of clues to find Nikki … and realise she’s not the only person they need to find. It’s a great plot, and a great read.

Pursued is the third book in The Nikki Boyd Files, and I hope it’s not the last! The series has an overall storyline of Nikki joining the police force to find her younger sister, who went missing ten years ago. There is also the romantic element, with her developing relationship with Tyler, the husband of Nikki’s dead best friend. I’d like to see these storylines resolved before I say goodbye to Nikki.

Pursued is a standalone novel and you don’t have to have read the earlier books in the series to understand it. But if you’re a suspense fan, you’ll want to read them all and it would be best to read them in order: Vendetta, then Missing, then Pursued. Recommended for all Christian suspense fans.

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

About Lisa Harris

Lisa HarrisI’m a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, world explorer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.

I currently live with my husband near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique where we work as church-planting missionaries. We’ve started the empty next stage with two children spread around the globe and a third—thankfully—still at home.

As a homeschooling mom, life is busy, but I see my writing as an extension of my ministry which also includes running a non-profit organization.

The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When I’m not working l love hanging out with my family at the beach, playing games, cooking different ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari.

Find Lisa Harris online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About Pursued

Nikki Boyd’s flight into Nashville was routine–up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing–and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can’t-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave readers stunned.

You can find Pursued online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Pursued below:

#ThrowbackThursday | A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing a review I originally wrote for Suspense Sisters Reviews in May 2017. Most of the romantic suspense novels I’ve read have been contemporary, but A Lady in Disguise is set in Victorian London, a great setting!

My Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect from A Lady in Disguise—the title didn’t seem to match the description (and the description ranges between somewhat misleading and coming uncomfortably close to revealing major plot points, in my view).

No matter. The review is of the novel, not the Amazon description.

And the novel was excellent. The balance was more on suspense than romance, partly because Gillian was never sure who she could trust—with good reason, because there were a lot of untoward events occurring and a few too many ‘coincidences’. The plot was complex, with many unpredictable yet satisfying twists.

The real strength of this novel was the research.

This struck the perfect balance between comprehensive and unobtrusive. The setting was perfect in terms of details about the social customs and social issues of the time. Some of the descriptions brought back fond memories of my own time in London—it’s a city steeped in history, and it’s easy to imaging Gillian walking through Victoria Station or along Drury Lane.

Every detail was spot on, and a testament to the level of care taken in the planning, writing, revising and editing of the novel, and the importance of good first readers: Byrd thanks two English readers who “edit the work to ensure the characters sound English and not American, Victorian and not twenty-first century”. The effort is noted and appreciated, and made the novel a pleasure to read. I wish more American authors would take this level of care when writing historical fiction set outside the USA. (Or am I the only one who gets distracted by details which are inconsistent with the supposed setting?)

I also found the writing strong.

I like the intimacy of first person point of view, although I know many readers don’t. The entire novel is from Gillian’s point of view, and she is a strong and intelligent character. I enjoyed the supporting characters as well, especially the irrepressible Ruby, who I feared for as much as Gillian did.

Overall, an excellent novel, and recommended for those who enjoy historical suspense.

Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Sandra Byrd

Author Photo: Sandra ByrdBestselling author Sandra Byrd has published more than fifty books over an editing and writing career spanning better than twenty-five years. Her traditionally published books include titles by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Tyndale House Publishers, WaterBrook Press, and Bethany House. She’s also an independent author; Redemption Press will soon publish many of her established indie titles.

Sandra’s series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick.

Sandra is passionate about helping writers develop their talents and their work through content coaching and line editing, and has been a working editor for more than two decades. She mentored hundreds of writers through the Christian Writers Guild and continues to guide developing authors toward success each year.

You can find Sandra Byrd online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Lady in Disguise

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

You can find A Lady in Disguise online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Lady in Disguise below:

#ThrowbackThursday | The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

An Outstanding Story of Christian Faith

The Long Highway Home is the story of Bobbie, an ex-missionary who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer at the age of 39. It’s the story of Tracie, Bobbie’s niece, who accompanies her to Europe, to visit the missionaries she used to serve with before tragedy sent her back to the US. It’s the story of Hamid, a devout Muslim who is forced to flee Iran after a well-meaning missionary gives his six-year-old daughter a New Testament.

But my favourite character is Rasa, the child with a faith that puts mine to shame.

The structure of The Long Highway Home is more like a thriller novel than the women’s fiction and romance I’m more used to reading. There are a lot of viewpoint characters spanning the US, Holland, France, Austria, and Iran. Unlike most thrillers, it’s always obvious who the characters are and how they are related, which kept me turning pages to find out how they’d eventually be brought together.

The author has drawn on her own missionary experiences in writing this excellent novel.

This shines through in both the story of Hamid and his family, and in the advice from some of the minor characters (e.g. Peggy, the elderly prayer warrior who supports Bobbie). These sound like real conversations Ms Musser has had in her years as a missionary—stories of the refugees who survived the refugee highway and made it to The Oasis in Austria.

It’s a story of human courage in the face of adversity, persecution, and possible death.

It’s a story of hope, of perfect love driving out fear. It challenges our views of refugees by introducing us to real refugees—we know Hamid and Rasheed and Rasa and Omid aren’t real people, but at the same time their stories have that ring of truth, of authenticity. They could be real stories. They may well be.

After all, significant elements of the story are real.

The Oasis is a real place, and welcomes volunteers and short-term missionaries (and long-term missionaries!) to support its outreach to refugees in Austria. Elizabeth Musser is a missionary with International Teams, an organisation dedicated to helping those who survive the refugee highway. World Wide Radio was inspired by the real-life work of Trans World Radio, which broadcasts in 230 languages to reach listeners in 160 countries.

It’s inspiring and humbling to read about people like this—missionaries who are risking their lives to bring the gospel to others. Refugees who are risking their lives to escape a government that wants them dead. Normal, everyday people who are doing extraordinary things every day.

Recommended.

Thanks to Elizabeth Musser for providing a free ebook for review.

About Elizabeth Musser

Author Photo Elizabeth MusserElizabeth Musser writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia Backroads, 2009). All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages.

From an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, “Elizabeth Musser likes to say she has two part-time jobs. Not only is she an award-winning novelist, but she and her husband serve as missionaries at a small Protestant church in Lyon, France. In both lines of work, she avoids preaching and simplistic answers, choosing instead to portray a God who cares in the midst of life’s complexity…”

Elizabeth adds, “My desire is to offer the best literature I can write, drawing the reader into a story that is compelling, believable and sprinkled with historical detail. I seek to give a realistic picture of what faith lived out in this world looks like, and, as always, I hope that my stories can be appreciated by all audiences, not just those readers who hold my same religious beliefs. It is a delight to receive confirmation of this through reader letters.”

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America.

You can find Elizabeth online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

You can read her Friday Fifteen here.

About The Long Highway Home

When the doctor pronounces “incurable cancer” and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier. Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss.

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession back in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along the refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger. Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.

Find The Long Highway Home online at:

AmazonGoodreads

You can read the introduction to The Long Highway Home below:

#ThrowbackThursday | Enemy Action by Mike Hollow

It’s Throwback Thursday, where I reshare an older review, or share a review of an older book. I’ve just finished reading Firing Line, the next book in Mike Hollow’s The Blitz Detective series, so it seems like a good time to share my review of Enemy Action, the third book in the series. This review previously appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

It’s 1940, the middle of the London Blitz, and there is a body in the aftermath of the nightly bombing raids. But this body isn’t a victim of the bombs. No. This body was stabbed to death. Whodunit?

The investigation starts with Inspector Jago and his partner meeting all manner of people whose only relationship was that they knew or knew of the victim, none of whom appear to have any motive for killing him. As the story progresses, unexpected relationships emerge between the characters, which leave us with several having both motive and opportunity for the murder. Yes, there were plenty of red herrings, and the end managed to both surprise me and make perfect sense.

That’s always the sign of an excellent mystery.

I was impressed by the character voices, about the way I could ‘hear’ the different accents. I was also impressed with the overall setting and background—the subplot around contract mismanagement, the comments about gender equity, the history in general. It gave the novel a sense of time and place I rarely see in Christian fiction.

And this was Christian fiction, although it’s Christian fiction of a more understated variety (as is typical with British fiction). It’s clear Inspector Jago is on a spiritual journey, whether he knows it or not. I’ll watch that with interest in future books, along with his relationship with the pretty American journalist.

This is the third book in the Blitz Detective series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. I haven’t read the first two in the series, but will be ordering them soon. Recommended for historical fiction lovers, especially those who like police procedural mysteries.

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

About Mike Hollow

Mike Hollow
Photo: Stephen Crockford

I was born in 1953 in the Essex County Borough of West Ham – home of the Blitz Detective – on the eastern edge of London. I grew up mainly in Romford and went to the Royal Liberty School, then studied Russian and French at Cambridge University.

My first job was translating for the BBC, and I did various jobs there for sixteen years before moving to work in communications for development agency Tearfund, travelling widely in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2002 I went freelance as a writer, editor and creative project manager. Now I earn a living by translating and spend the rest of my time in the cellar of my house in Hampshire chronicling the adventures of the Blitz Detective.

Why write detective novels? Because I enjoy reading them and I love to create entertaining stories. Why set them in that place and time? Because overnight the Blitz turned everyday existence into a life-and-death struggle for ordinary people – and some of them were my family.

You can find Mike Hollow online at:

Website | Twitter

About Enemy Action

Fifty people squashed into a stinking public air-raid shelter all night – babies screaming, old ladies crying, no beds, not even a light to see by. When the all-clear siren sounds, people disperse to home and work. But one man remains. He’s Paul Ramsey, a young teacher, and he’s dead – stabbed through the heart.

DI Jago quickly establishes that the victim was a pacifist, desperate to avoid military service. Why, then, was he carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket? Did he have enemies? Was he intent on harming someone – or even himself?

Jago discovers that Paul isn’t the only pacifist whose convictions have been challenged. For some, anger and violence lie just below the surface. And despite Ramsey’s moral stance, it seems there were dark shadows in his life. In fact, more than one person might have had a motive for murder …

You can find Enemy Action online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Enemy Action below:

If God loved her, then it followed that He would have good things for her, things that wold bring her hope.

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m bringing you my review of The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, the final book in the Legacy of Grace trilogy by Carolyn Miller. I’m sharing it because it was my favourite of the series, and the first book in her new series is due out in March! I’m looking forward to reading it—The Winsome Miss Winthrop.

About The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey

Will a damaged reputation and desire for society’s approval thwart the legacy of grace?
Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quieter Brighton countryside, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. She’s lost the man she loved to another and, in a culture that has no patience for self-pity, is struggling with depression. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara’s society mama is appalled at the new company she’s keeping.
Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won’t let him ignore the penniless viscount’s daughter–not when she so obviously needs assistance to keep moving forward from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?
When they’re pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent’s Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together–without finances, family support, or royal favor?

My Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all romance novels since Jane Austen are mere copies.

Well, not really. As we know, we are all unique, so our journeys to love are also unique. But many romance novels do offer a conscious or subconscious nod to Austen’s work, and The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey is no exception.

At five-and-twenty, Miss DeLancey is close to being on the shelf. Her marital prospects are not helped by a mama who combines Mrs Bennett’s silliness with Lady Catherine’s snobbery, a brother who has gambled away her dowry, and a father who reminded me of Mr Bennett: intelligent and personable, but influenced by his wife. There are also echoes of Persuasion in the decorated sea captain who was rejected in love when a lowly lieutenant.

Carolyn Miller takes these well-known tropes and gives them new life in The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, the final book in her Legacy of Grace series—and the best (well, in my view).

Miss DeLancey had the misfortune to fall for someone who didn’t return her regard, and was then humiliated for it. It didn’t help that her brother gambled away her dowry, making it difficult for her to find another suitor. (Yes, there were several times when I thought Richard DeLancey needed to take a long walk off a short pier.)

Ben Kemsley has his own problems. He’s spent most of his prize money caring for the families of the men he captained, especially those who didn’t make it back to England. The Prince Regent has promised him a reward, but Prinny is famously self-centred and how exactly does one ask the Prince of Wales for a promised fortune?

My favourite aspect of Clara DeLancey’s story was the focus on her spiritual journey.

In fact, that was the major focus of the first half of the novel. Clara’s turning point comes when she realises there is more to Christianity than church. She sees the need to change from the dissatisfied person she had been. And she saw the need to put that change in God’s hands. Fortunately, she has her new friends to guide her … new friends with a handsome brother.

I also enjoyed the references to the marine chronometer. I read Longtitude by Dava Sobel many years ago. She explained that we’ve long been able to calculate latitude through the position of the stars and sun. But we can’t calculate longtitude accurately without a clock that can remain accurate throughout a long ocean voyage.

I love this kind of mix of fact and fiction, because it was the lack of such a clock caused the shipwreck that made Captain Ben Kemsley a minor Regency celebrity. There were also several scenes set in and around the famed Brighton Pavillion, redecorated by the Prince Regent at great expense and with dubious taste, and I enjoyed this as well.

Overall, an excellent Christian Regency romance with element of suspense. Recommended!

Thanks to Kregel Publications for sending me a free paperback to review.

About Carolyn Miller

Carolyn MillerCarolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. She is married, with four gorgeous children, who all love to read (and write!).

A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s novels have won a number of Romance Writers of American (RWA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. Her favourite authors are classics like Jane Austen (of course!), Georgette Heyer, and Agatha Christie, but she also enjoys contemporary authors like Susan May Warren and Becky Wade.

Her stories are fun and witty, yet also deal with real issues, such as dealing with forgiveness, the nature of really loving versus ‘true love’, and other challenges we all face at different times.

Find Carolyn Miller online at:

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Find The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey online at:

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#Throwback Thursday | Out of the Shadows by Emma Carrie

It’s Throwback Thursday, so I’m resharing my review of Out of the Shadows, the first in The Tacket Secret series by Emma Carrie. It’s a fast-paced YA series that will appeal to thriller fans.

Teenager Emily Brelin’s adoptive mother has just died, and now Child Protective Services needs to find her a place to live. At least, that’s what they think. Emily needs to stay off the grid, to make sure her past doesn’t find her. That means staying out of the system.

Detective Victoria Tacket didn’t even know her friend Dr Jennifer Brelin was ill, let alone that she’d adopted a teenager. And why has Jen nominated her as guardian? She’s not fit to be a parent—which she tells CPS. But then Emily disappears, and Vick knows she has to find the missing teen.

Emily is a fascinating character, with more skills that people would expect for her age—including the ability to lip-read. She takes the lead in this game of hide and seek, and her willingness to run away and disappear introduce a lot of questions. Who is Emily? Why is it so important she stays out of the system? Who is looking for her … and what will happen if they find her?

This is the first book in a series—thank goodness, because I want to know what happens next! It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but the end definitely leaves some unanswered questions for future books. (Cliffhanger endings too often give me the impression the author didn’t know how to finish the book, which breaks the illusion that it’s real).

Out of the Shadows is a fast-paced read with plenty of suspense. The plot and writing are solid, and the characters are excellent. If there was a failing, it was that it was too quick to read (I read it in a single sitting, because I couldn’t put it down). Not a novel to start late in the evening …

Recommended for those looking for Young Adult suspense.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review (although it’s now permanently free on Kindle).

About Out of the Shadows

Abducted as a child. Groomed to be a teen spy. Expected to become a female assassin.

Emily won’t be a test specimen too.

After years of prolonged mental and physical abuse during combat training, Emily Brelin’s genetic structure changed. New abilities emerged, which she hid from her captor, a rogue general.

Fearing she’d be experimented on, Emily escaped and fled across the globe to New York’s largest metropolitan area, Golden City. There, she met a sympathetic professor who offered her a new home, a new identity, and a new start.

The professor protected Emily’s secrets, until cancer intervened. On her deathbed, she made Emily promise to meet her best friend, a female detective who could keep the teen safe.

Now, despite reservations, Emily is racing to complete her vow. But the general wants his prized teen weapon back. He’s hunting Emily–and her cover is unraveling.

Detective Vick Tacket is shocked when she learns her best friend has died. She’s more stunned to learn the professor had a hidden dependent and named Vick–a single woman with no maternal interest–as the teen’s guardian.

But when mysterious girl disappears, Vick scours the streets of Golden City searching for the missing teen.

What she discovers could get them both killed.

About Emma Carrie

Author Photo Emma CarrieEmma Carrie writes clean YA books with strong female characters. Her debut YA action adventure series, The Tacket Secret, features a teen spy assassin and a homicide detective who are thrown into an awkward adoption that puts both in danger. Each chapter alternates between teen and adult POVs. This 7-book series is packed with suspense and a touch of science fiction fantasy.

When not writing, Emma enjoys her own adventures. She’s explored an active coal mine, fired a Gatling gun from a Humvee, and examined chromosomes with a scanning electron microscope. She’s also hitched a ride in a corporate jet and wiped out on stage while modeling. Unique moments like those fuel her stories.

Emma loves strong female characters who are driven by unconquerable determination–the encouragement she hopes readers take from her stories.

You can find Emma online at:

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

#ThrowbackThursday | If I Live by Terri Blackstock

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my reivew of If I Run by Terri Blackstock, because the final book in the trilogy (If I Live) releases soon, and you’ll want to read all three.

When Casey Cox finds her best friend’s bloody body, she knows she’s going to be the main suspect in his murder, because the investigation will be conducted by the same police officers who ignored the evidence in her father’s death and called it a suicide. Thanks to a healthy ‘rainy day’ stash of cash, tricks learned from her cop father, and prolific reading of suspense novels, Casey is able to keep several steps ahead of the local police.

The victim’s family hire Dylan Roberts, ex-army Criminal Investigations Division, to find the missing Casey Cox. But Dylan finds the police are reluctant to allow him access to all the information relating to the crime, and to the earlier Cox suicide, and this—along with some of his findings—means he questions Casey’s guilt.

If I Run is suspense at its finest.

Casey is intelligent—very intelligent—and suspicious of the local police force. We (and Dylan) find out more and more of her personal history as the story progresses, which confirms Casey’s innocence but doesn’t necessarily tell us who is guilty—or why. She’s also kind and shows concern for others—a thoroughly likeable character. Dylan was equally intelligent and likeable, especially with his curiosity and empathy.

The story was well-plotted with a significant subplot that rose naturally out of what seemed like a coincidental meeting, but which ended up playing a major part in the Dylan-chases-Casey story. There was also a strong underlying Christian thread with Casey’s views on faith, but this was subtle and never got in the way of the story.

And the ending was excellent, setting Casey and Dylan up for a sequel . . . which I now want to read as soon as possible! Recommended for all suspense fans.

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

About Terri Blackstock

Terri BlackstockTerri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

In 1994 Terri was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. As she was praying about her transition, she went on a cruise and noticed that almost everyone on the boat (including her) had a John Grisham novel. It occurred to her that some of Grisham’s readers were Christians, and that if she wrote a fast-paced thriller with an added faith element, she might just find her niche. As God would have it, Christian publishers were showing interest in the suspense genre, so she quickly sold a four-book series to Zondervan. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, most of them suspense novels.

You can find Terri Blackstock online at:

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About If I Run

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

You can find If I Run online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to If I Run below: