Tag: Iola Goulton

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:

From No Less Days by Amanda G Stevens: He could admit that a century of overreacting to fire was a strong indication he always would.

Book Review | No Less Days by Amanda Stevens

Yes, contemporary romance is my favourite genre.

No, No Less Days is not contemporary romance.

Although it does have a minor romance subplot (most novels could be improved with the addition of a minor romance subplot). While I enjoy reading romance, when it comes to watching, my favourite TV shows and movies tend to be science fiction of some form: Star Wars. Star Trek. Stargate. Fringe. Forever. (Chuck.)

I’d categorise No Less Days as Forever with a dash of Highlander. It’s part science fiction and part urban fantasy.

David Galloway is 167 years old, but looks thirty-five, thanks to a doctor who saved his life over 130 years ago. He’s survived five major wars, and now makes a living selling second-hand and antique books. He thinks he’s the only one of his kind until he sees a news story about a daredevil who falls to his death crossing the Grand Canyon, yet miraculously survives.

David is curious. There is no way this daredevil, Zachary Wilson, could have survived that fall. Is there someone else like David? He goes to Nevada to find out the truth, and finds something unexpected: he is not alone.

Like I said, No Less Days isn’t the usual book I review.

But if there were more Christian novels like this, I’d read and review them because No Less Days was excellent. A unique hook: the man who lives forever. Great characters: David, Zac, Tiana. A moral dilemma to work through. And lots of amusing insights from a man who has lived longer than he should.

From No Less Days by Amanda G Stevens: He wished people valued books—paper, ink, effort, art, knowledge—the way they used to.

The story of No Less Days is told entirely from David’s viewpoint, and that’s one of the strengths. Learning things about the Longevites as David learns them gives the sense of being in the story. The writing is excellent, and while this story comes to a complete and satisfying end, there is certainly scope to turn No Less Days into a series.

I recommend No Less Days for fans of TV shows like Fringe and forever who’d love to see more Christian fiction delve into these areas of the unknown.

Thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing a free book for review.

About Amanda G Stevens

Author Photo: Amanda G StevensAs a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She is the author of the Haven Seekers series, and her debut Seek and Hide was a 2015 INSPY Award finalist. She lives in Michigan and loves trade paperbacks, folk music, the Golden Era of Hollywood, and white cheddar popcorn.

You can find Amanda G Stevens online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About No Less Days

David Galloway can’t die.

How many lifetimes can God expect one man to live? Over a century old, David Galloway isolates himself from the mortal humans who die or desert him by making a quiet life as a used bookstore owner in Northern Michigan. But then he spots a news article about a man who, like him, should be dead.

Daredevil celebrity Zachary Wilson walked away unscathed from what should have been a deadly fall. David tracks the man down, needing answers. Soon David discovers a close-knit group of individuals as old as he is who offer the sort of kinship and community he hasn’t experienced for decades—but at what cost?

David finds himself keeping secrets other than his own. . .protecting more than himself alone. He’ll have to decide what’s worth the most to him—security or community. When crimes come to light that are older than any mortal, he fears the pressure is more than he can stand. What does God require of him, and is David strong enough to see it through?

You can find No Less Days online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to No Less Days below:

I stand by the idea that if something is important enough, you'll squeeze it in. In the margins.

Book Review | Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton

Hurricane Season is the story of two sisters, Betsy and Jenna. I will admit that I didn’t get this at first—I think of Betsy as an old-fashioned name, and I thought she was an old family friend … with an emphasis on the ‘old’. And my review copy didn’t make it clear in the subtitle the way Amazon does (the full title is Hurricane Season: A Southern Novel of Two Sisters and the Storms They Must Weather, which is a bit of a mouthful).

Betsy is a thirty-year-old farmer’s wife who is unable to conceive, so it’s poetic irony when Jenna calls and asks Betsy to babysit her two daughters so she can accept a scholarship to a photography retreat in Florida. Betsy agrees anyway, because that’s who she is, but Ty isn’t so happy about the arrangement.

Jenna has made a few bad decisions in her life, but loves her daughters and wants to be a good mom. That means she wants to do more with her life than make ends meet working in a cafe, so when she gets the opportunity to reconnect with her dream of being a professional photographer, she is both keen and scared.

Hurricane Season is an interesting and thought-provoking story that doesn’t run according to plan. Given the set-up, I had an idea of how it would finish, but I was around 80% wrong. That was both good and bad—my ending was the happy-ever-after emotionally fulfilling easy but unrealistic end. I guess Lauren K Denton doesn’t believe in easy. And that’s true to real life: things don’t come easy, and getting what we wish for doesn’t magically make everything perfect.

There are some good lines, inspiration for writers and other creatives, and the people who work with them:

There will always be people to criticize your work. I'm trying to help you, to make you better than you think you can be, better even that you're trying to be.

I’d like to think I take that approach when working with writers.

However, I wouldn’t call Hurricane Season Christian fiction—while Betsy and Ty go to church, the faith element isn’t central to the plot or the journey of either Betsy or Jenna.

If you’re looking for a feel-good Christian romance, Hurricane Season isn’t the book for you.

But if you want a novel that addresses hard questions of wants and priorities and doesn’t tie up the ending in easy answers, Hurricane Season might be the novel you’re looking for.

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

About Lauren K Denton

Author Photo Lauren K DentonBorn and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

Find her at LaurenKDenton.com or on Facebook (LaurenKDentonAuthor), Instagram (LaurenKDentonBooks), or Twitter (@laurenkdenton).

You can find Lauren K Denton online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Hurricane Season

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world—and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending an art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing—and the relationships that must be mended along the way.

You can find Hurricane Season online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels: I hate to think God would give me what I really deserved.

Book Review | Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

Shadows of Hope is not the feel-good romance novel I usually read and review.

Instead, it’s a thoroughly modern novel where messed-up characters have to wade the confusing waters of consequences, and there is no trite or easy answer with no convenient divorces or deaths (ironically, the plot twists in the two previous novels I read with similar moral quandaries).

Marissa is forty, infertile, and wants a baby—a want made worse by working in a pregnancy resource centre, and being married to a man she suspects of wandering. Kaitlyn is the barista at Marissa’s favourite coffee shop, a twenty-six year-old college student who is secretly dating one of her professors. Colin is a biology professor who breaks off his illicit relationship as he finds out he’s up for tenure. Now if only she’d stop trying to contact him …

Kaitlyn discovers she’s pregnant, but Colin has broken it off and she can’t tell him. She does tell Marissa, not realising she’s Colin’s wife. But we know, and that one small secret drives much of the tension. When will Marissa find out? What will she do when she does? How will she cope in the meantime?

Quote from Shadows of Hope: He wasn't an adulterous man, not really. Not in the ways that mattered.

The writing was excellent.

The author delves into the emotions of three people who’ve all made mistakes in their relationships, mistakes which mean there is no easy answer, no possible ending that will satisfy everyone. The story wasn’t predictable, and I liked that because it felt authentic in a way a feel-good romance ending would have felt contrived and false.

The spiritual aspects were also interesting: Marissa and Kaitlyn were both raised as Christians, but both fell away from the church. Marissa got more involved in church after she married, but Colin never did (which caused some friction). Interesting …

Recommended for those who enjoy contemporary Christian fiction that deals with the real-life issues that don’t have easy answers.

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

About Georgiana Daniels

Author Photo: Georgiana DanielsAs a Christian author and homeschooling mom, my life is random and often chaotic—but abundantly blessed! I’m the wife of a super-charged husband and the mother of three high-energy daughters, and as such I’ve become a master at spinning plates—until they crash and I remember how much I need God’s grace. The journey is filled with both good times and extraordinary challenges, and now I’d like to peel back the curtain and share some of it with you!

Whether you’re a reader who desires fiction where the characters’ lives are challenged in unimaginable ways, or you’re a writer who needs a little encouragement—I have a heart for you!

My hope is that you’ll be inspired and motivated. Motivated to love more and live bigger no matter what’s happening. Because I get it…I know that life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. But we can trust there’s a bigger plan at work!

Come along and join me for real life…real hope…real fiction.

You can find Georgiana Daniels online at:

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Shadows of Hope

A story of hope in the aftermath of inconceivable betrayal and broken dreams
What if. . .

. . .you struggled with infertility but unknowingly befriended your husband’s pregnant mistress?

What if. . .

. . .the woman you were seeing behind your wife’s back gets pregnant, threatening your job and marriage?

What if. . .

. . .your boyfriend never told you he was married and you discover you’re pregnant?

Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope.

You can find Shadows of Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 35 | Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

It’s First Line Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line. Today I’m sharing from Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels. Here’s the first line:

First line from Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels: Seven dollars was a small price to pay for a latte and a little conversation.

This is a brilliant book! I’m currently writing my review, which will post in a couple of weeks.

About Shadows of Hope

A story of hope in the aftermath of inconceivable betrayal and broken dreams
What if. . .

. . .you struggled with infertility but unknowingly befriended your husband’s pregnant mistress?

What if. . .

. . .the woman you were seeing behind your wife’s back gets pregnant, threatening your job and marriage?

What if. . .

. . .your boyfriend never told you he was married and you discover you’re pregnant?

Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope.

You can find Shadows of Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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

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

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

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

Quote from A Chance at Forever: The only tool she had was prayer, and if that was so, why didn't she use it more often?

Book Recommendation | A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears

A Chance at Forever is the third (and hopefully not last) novel in The Teaville Moral Society series.

It follows A Heart Most Certain and A Love So True. There have also been two novellas in the series, With This Ring (which I haven’t read), and Tied and True (which I have). But A Chance at Forever is a standalone novel, and you don’t need to have read the earlier books to enjoy this. (But you should read them anyway.)

It’s been six years since school bully George Firebrook left Teaville. Now he’s back in town as Aaron Firebrook, aspiring math teacher. But Mercy McClain is in the school board, the same Mercy McClain he teased mercilessly for having only one arm … and for always being happy in spite of her disability. That’s part of why he’s returned, to try and make up for the sins of his childhood. Now he has to convince people he has changed, and that’s going to start with Mercy.

Mercy McClain knows she’ll never marry and have children.

Her disability has seen to that. But she can still love the children in her care and make sure they aren’t bullied the way she was as a child. And she’s not convinced George Aaron Firebrook has changed from the bully she knew. She’s not pleased when he’s hired as the orphanage gardener. She’s gradually swayed by his work ethic and his obvious concern for the children, especially for Jimmy the troublemaker, and Owen.

Mercy is a great heroine. She’s got issues, but she’s also got a strong sense of self and she’s not willing to let anyone present the orphans with less than ideal role models. That places her in an awkward situation when she realises Aaron isn’t her biggest problem, and that speaking out might cost her.

Aaron is a strong hero. He was a bully as a schoolboy, but he’s a Christian now and trying to make amends. There are also reasons why he was a bully. This explains why he wants to make sure other Teaville children don’t face the same problems. So the job at the orphanage is perfect, even if Mercy would rather he wasn’t there. But the path of true love doesn’t run smooth, and first Aaron has to deal with bumps in the path like Owen and Jimmy.

I know I’m usually a contemporary Christian romance fan. But A Chance at Forever (and the other Teaville Moral Society stories) are the best kind of historical romance. I love the way the series uses historical settings to address some very modern issues. How do we, as Christians, deal with the less desireable members of society? The alcoholics, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the homeless? How do we deal with that? Jagears has some ideas:

Quote from A Chance at Forever: Being moral isn't doing what's easiest or what makes you comfortable, but rather, it's choosing to do right even when it hurts, when it costs, when it's difficult.

She also isn’t afraid to identify the problem:

Quote from A Chance at Forever: The whole problem was sinful hearts, plain and simple. From the men who took advantage of the pleasures of the district, to the disdain and apathy of those who never stepped in to minister to those ensnared within it.

This is the problem highlighted by the #MeToo movement. It’s just framed a little differently.

See what I mean about historical fiction being an excellent vehicle for highlighting present-day problems?

As you’ve probably guessed, I thought everything about A Chance at Forever was outstanding—the plot, the characters, the writing, and the Christian message. Recommended for all Christian fiction readers.

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

About Melissa Jagears

Author Photo: Melissa JagearsI stay home with my kids, and though that’s PLENTY to do, I added homeschooling and writing to my schedule too!

My husband and I have been married since 2001 and have a daughter and two sons. I’m a former high school ESL teacher and an avid book reader. If you don’t believe me, come peruse the 16 bookshelves in my house. The only reason I don’t have more is because my husband is convinced he can hear the house’s foundation groaning.

He only claims one of those bookshelves which is full of how-to manuals because he loves blacksmithing, knife smithing, traditional archery, hunting, etc. Generally whatever a mountain man does, he’s done or wants to do. He and his one lonely bookshelf often come in handy for research.

My daughter is also an avid reader who owns the book shelf chair, is a lover of famous art, and wants to be a fashion designer. My middle son builds and creates all day long, his creations are mostly knives and swords since he wants to be a knifesmith like his daddy. And my youngest is the quietest of the bunch. At the moment, he self-identifies as a cat. A black one. He answers in meows.

A pronunciation lesson for the curious: Jagears sounds like /Jag – ers/, like Mick Jagger with an S.

You can find Melissa Jagears online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Chance at Forever

In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job.

Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy’s mistrust, but he’s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn’t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.

Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for?

You can find A Chance at Forever online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Chance at Forever 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:

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You can read the introduction to The Long Highway Home 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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Quote from The Saturday Night Supper Club

Book Review | The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Wonderful!

If you ask readers what plot points or ideas they don’t like in novels, there is always one that comes up: the impossibly good-looking hero or heroine. Others dislike too-rich heroes. Or writers. Or all of the above. I confess: I’m one of them. I especially don’t like the impossibly handsome rich writer (except for Richard Castle, but we all know he’s a joke).

The Saturday Night Supper Club has all these things (except for Richard Castle.) Despite that, it’s a great read—almost perfect contemporary Christian romance. It’s also a lesson in the power of the media—especially social media—to work for good and for evil.

And the food … I wanted it all. Well, except the chard. And the fennel. It was a weed where I grew up, and we were all told not to eat it.

Anyway, about the book …

Rachel Bishop is the darling of the Denver casual fine dining scene until a misplaced comment to the wrong person goes viral. Writer Alex Kanin unintentionally started the whole media firestorm, but doesn’t realise the full extent of the repercussions until he tries to apologise to Rachel, and finds his article has cost Rachel her job.

Yes, he’s the impossibly handsome writer whose debut memoir jumped to the top of all the right bestseller lists. He’s also rich, thanks to a couple of timely investments, and grew up in a well-off immigrant family. In contrast, Rachel left home without graduating high school, and has risen to the top of her profession through hard work and determination.

The Saturday Night Supper Club is the story of how Alex and Rachel work together to try and resurrect her career.

It’s a romance, so you know how that goes. It also has a solid Christian thread, in that both Rachel and Alex are Christians, and each has lessons to learn about the nature of God. But it’s not preachy, which is great.

Overall, The Saturday Night Supper Club is a great contemporary Christian romance, with wonderful characters, and wonderful food. I do hope there are a couple of sequels in the works!

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

About Carla Laureano

Carla LaureanoCarla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

You can find Carla Laureano online at:

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About The Saturday Night Supper Club

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

You can find The Saturday Night Supper Club online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong