Tag: Iola Goulton

Quote from Fort Point: Lending moral support to a depressed genius was exhausting. He had a pessimistic answer to everything.

Book Review | Fort Point (Maine Justice #2) by Susan Page Davis

Fort Point is the second book in the Maine Justice series.

I described Priority Unit, the first book in the series, as an almost-perfect blend of Christian fiction, romance, and suspense. Fort Point has a different feel.

We’ve already seen Detective Harvey Larson and Jennifer Wainthrop fall in love and become Christians in Priority Unit. Fort Point (and, I assume, the later books in the series) are more suspense. The romance and the faith aspects are still there, but they definitely take second place to the suspense plot.

And the suspense is excellent.

Fort Point is a police procedural mystery that begins with the discovery of the body of Maine’s most famous novelist. (Personally, I’ve read enough novels about people who write novels. Perhaps Davis has as well, given her novelist is the victim.)

Detective Larson is part of Maine’s Priority Unit, a special force, so is tasked with investigating the murder. But it’s not easy. The victim wasn’t just a novelist. He was also an investigative journalist, and Larson wonders if one of his investigations may have attracted attention from the wrong people. Soon a second body is discovered, and evidence that suggests corruption in high places …

I didn’t think the writing was as strong in Fort Point (although that could just be that it’s been about a year since I read Priority Unit, and I was so impressed by the three strands of the plot that I didn’t pay much attention to the writing). It wasn’t that the writing is poor. It’s more that it felt a little unpolished in comparison with Davis’s other books.

Overall, Fort Point is a solid suspense novel.

But does have a different flavour than Priority Unit and Susan Page Davis’s earlier romantic suspense novels. If you’re looking for a lightweight romantic suspense novel, Fort Point isn’t what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a well-plotted police procedural suspense with plenty of twists and strong characters, Fort Point might be just what you are looking for.

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

About Susan Page Davis

Author Photo: Susan Page Davis

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

You can find Susan Page Davis online at:

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter

About Fort Point

An ill-fated class reunion at Fort Point. . .

Maine’s most famous author is murdered the night after the reunion. A classmate turns up dead a few days later, apparently drowned at Fort Point. What does a cold case burglary have to do with the deaths? And did a third classmate really commit suicide?

The Priority Unit solves its most challenging case, relying on wits, hard work, and faith. Meanwhile, Jennifer Wainthrop plans her wedding but manages to hand the detectives some important clues.

Detective Harvey Larson is offered a job he doesn’t want, until he learns the police chief has had a tragic accident. Captain Mike Browning is on vacation in Maine’s far north, and proves a difficult man to track down. Harvey and Jennifer continue their faith journey and romance while untangling the evidence.

Despite many obstacles, the Priority Unit is once again serving up Maine Justice.

You can find Fort Point online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Fort Point below:

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

#Throwback Thursday | Book Review | Lu by Beth Troy

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

About Lu

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

My Review

All the stories have been written, including mine.

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

Although our stories also have some common elements:

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

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

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

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

Lu isn’t typical Christian fiction.

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

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

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

You can find Beth Troy online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Find Lu online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UKGoodreads

Introducing RJ Conte

Author Interview | Introducing RJ Conte and My Fault

Today I’m interviewing author RJ Conte about her writing, and her new release: My Fault. It looks like a fun read!

Welcome, RJ!

About You

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

Hello!  I’m the oldest of four, formerly homeschooled, Christian wife and mother of three.  I’m an ESFJ from California who now lives in the Pacific Northwest.  😊

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

Yes!  Issue-driven is my very favorite, but there’s so few true Christian issue-driven.

My favorite authors growing up were Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Ted Dekker.  I’d now add Bethany A Jennings, Susan Vaught, Kimberly Rae, and Elyse Fitzpatrick to that list.  😊

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

Let’s see… I keep a file of every book I read all year.  I started that two years ago and it’s fun to look back and see what I read and what star rating I’d give it.  Each year I read over 50 books!  The last book I read was Windswept by Sarah Delana White.  It’s short and lovely – like candy.  I highly recommend it.  A sweet and unique little love story.  Sarah is an acquaintance of mine who I met through another friend, so it’s fun to read books from people you know in “real life.”

About My Fault

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I write about those hard-hitting teen and young adult issues, but from a very overtly Christian point of view.  Every once in a while, I’ll write a little science fantasy short story – and I have plans for more speculative Christian fiction, but most of my books are contemporary and have some romance.  😊

Tell us about your latest book. What’s it about? Who will enjoy it?

“My Fault” is my first comedy. Usually I write extremely serious, often sad stories, so writing a comedy with a super quirky character was a brand new venture for me.  I LOVED doing it.  If people laugh half as hard as I did writing it, I’ll be thrilled.

“My Fault” is about a very outgoing, socially awkward young woman who is obsessed with getting to know the young man she hit while driving drunk, and making things right.  The guy is a quiet, serious, mysterious young man who seems overwhelmed by her yet doesn’t know how to say no to her.  They become really oddball friends who might develop further feelings for each other…

Well, if everyone from my 21-year-old fellow author to my 61-year-old father had a great time reading it, then I hope it will appeal to anyone!  Realistically, I expect all adult women will be its target audience.  😊

What was your motivation for writing My Fault?

I had just spent half of a year writing a much more serious, long YA novel, and needed a break.  Coming up with something short, sweet, and comedic over Christmas break was just what I needed to refresh my soul.  I also wanted to explore different ways young people get themselves into ruts when they think about God and their relationship with Him.  Cleo, the main girl, represents the young person who is flippant and apathetic about God, not even sure He’s watching or cares.  Grayson, the injured guy character, represents those who think God’s out to get them are always trying so hard to be perfect that they feel like giving up.  <3

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

The story is an idea I’ve always wanted to write.  I love the idea of love stories springing from strange places and circumstances.  I’ve always wanted to write a book about someone falling in love with the person they hit in their car.  But these specific characters sprang from specific trials I’ve had with people in my life.

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

CLEO.  She says the things I sometimes only say in private to my husband.  She lets it all out, and it was a blast “being her” and in her voice and head.  😀

You said your main character is on the spectrum. Where did that idea come from?

Yes!  I never planned for Cleo to be an Aspy (have Asperger’s) but my mom, who worked with handicapped children and young adults as a school teacher, identified in that right away.  I embraced it and ran with it.  I’m not marketing her as official Asperger’s because that can be a sensitive topic to do correctly, and I wanted her to have the freedom to be herself, but between you and me and the blog readers, she’s definitely on the spectrum.  😊

What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?

Right now I’m preparing to pitch that serious YA novel from last year at the Realm Makers writing convention in July.  I’m also loosely beginning to plot a speculative YA Christian book.  😊

About your writing

What motivated you to start writing?  When did you seriously start writing? How long did it take before you published your first book?

I’ve been telling stories since I could speak, and wrote my first story in my diary on my 7th birthday.  I didn’t self-publish for the first time, however, until I was twenty-years-old.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t have to support a family or write to market in any way, which frees me up to make my writing a ministry – and that’s what it is.  I dislike the business side of things, although I’m always learning and improving that aspect of my work, and really embrace my writing being a God-led ministry to young adults.  <3

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

Christians clamp down on anything original, and put writers and artists in a box.  Publishers for Christian fiction tend to be close-minded and unapproachable.  It’s sad, frustrating, and unfortunate, so to get my unique and REAL brand of writing out to young adults who desperately need something other than fluffy unoriginal love triangles, and whatever else the Christian market mass produces, I have to self-publish.  Thank the Lord that Amazon has really made it easy to do so, and that my books are now hitting readers successfully!

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

Yes!  I wrote two novellas, both my only books published under Clean Reads, and two speculative short stories, all of which are still moral in nature, before deciding once and for all that I want to exclusively write Christian fiction as a ministry.

Is writing for the Christian market harder or easier than writing for the general market? Why?

Yes.  Christians publishers tend to be picky, cliquish, and not open-minded, unfortunately.  ☹

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

Get coaching, take classes, read books on craft, and be prepared to spend the money to put out a book of value.  Don’t do anything half-hearted, and humbly join groups that will correct where you’re doing less than you could.  Listen to advice and learn from it.  Be open to change!

Thank you so much for having me!

About My Fault

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

The devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

Find My Fault online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

About RJ Conte

Author Image - RJ ConteRJ Conte has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since.

She writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at http://blonderj.wordpress.com/

She also has recently begun a book review and rating website for parents to make informed decisions on what to allow their children to read: rjconte.com/books

RJ Conte writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.

Find RJ Conte online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

Book Quote: Medals are what people sitting at desks do back home. Trying not to die is what we did up front.

Book Review | Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

Send Down the Rain is an unusual story in many ways.

It starts decades ago with two brothers the day their father moves out, then jumps forward to the present. The first part shows three different characters, and it wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through that it became clear who the main character was.

Joseph is a 63-year-old Vietnam war veteran who has been running for more years than seems possible. We get to know him only gradually, as the story bounces back and forth between his past and his present, highlighting his failures (and sometimes his successes), his weaknesses and sometimes his strengths. He’s a strong narrator because he is weak: he’s humble and unpretentious and focuses more on what he’s done wrong than what he’s done right.

I got to about the 90% point in this book and thought it was good, but it hadn’t reached the heights of The Mountain Between Us (now a major movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba) or Long Way Gone (a modern retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son).

But by the time I finished Send Down the Rain I had changed my mind.

It’s at least as good as these, but the power builds up and up and only bites at the end. There isn’t an obvious Christian thread or an overt parallel with a Bible story (as there was in Long Way Gone). Send Down the Rain is more of an exploration of love, loyalty, and family, a story of sacrifice and second chances. And that pretty much sums up the gospel.

An outstanding novel of love and faithfulness, in Martin’s trademark understated yet compelling style. Recommended.

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

About Charles Martin

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

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

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

You can find Charles Martin online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Send Down the Rain

Allie is still recovering from the loss of her family’s beloved waterfront restaurant on Florida’s Gulf Coast when she loses her second husband to a terrifying highway accident. Devastated and losing hope, she shudders to contemplate the future—until a cherished person from her past returns.

Joseph has been adrift for many years, wounded in both body and spirit and unable to come to terms with the trauma of his Vietnam War experiences. Just as he resolves to abandon his search for peace and live alone at a remote cabin in the Carolina mountains, he discovers a mother and her two small children lost in the forest. A man of character and strength, he instinctively steps in to help them get back to their home in Florida. There he will return to his own hometown—and witness the accident that launches a bittersweet reunion with his childhood sweetheart, Allie.

When Joseph offers to help Allie rebuild her restaurant, it seems the flame may reignite—until a 45-year-old secret from the past begins to emerge, threatening to destroy all hope for their second chance at love.

In Send Down the Rain, Charles Martin proves himself to be a storyteller of great wisdom and compassion who bears witness to the dreams we cherish, the struggles we face, and the courage we must summon when life seems to threaten what we hold most dear.

You can find Send Down the Rain online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Quote: It's not something you ever get over, losing a child. But it is something you have to learn to live with. Years later, I still don't know how.

Book Review | Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Savannah’s husband of twenty years is leaving her for the other woman. Now the house is empty—their three children are at boarding school, college, and in a grave. Broken, Savannah goes to stay in her parent’s holiday home, where she meets the neighbours: an old woman, her nephew, and his daughter.

A daughter who is the spitting image of Savannah’s dead daughter.

Yes, Where Hope Begins has lots of angst. As the story progresses we find out more about how Shelby died, about how Savannah is convinced Shelby’s death was her fault, and convinced husband Kevin blames her, even though he says he doesn’t. We also see how this tragedy shaped their marriage, and paved the way for it’s destruction.

At the lake house, we see Savannah’s developing relationship with Brock, the bestselling author who is her new next-door neighbour. Her very attractive next-door neighbour. Why not? Her husband has left her for another woman and wants a divorce. That presents Savannah with a dilemma … and us as the reader. We’re convinced we don’t like Kevin, but does that justify Savannah’s growing relationship with Brock?

The intricacies of the relationships are compounded by Savannah’s Christian faith, a faith her husband supposedly shared. As Christians, we have clear views on adultery, but when is a marriage over? When is the wronged spouse allowed to move on?

Where Hope Begins is an intelligent, thought-provoking, and emotional read in a situation where there are lots of hard questions and no right answers.

The writing is excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Catherine West. The characters are well-developed, the plot complex but not convoluted, and the Christian elements threaded through but not overwhelming. Oh, and I cried. It’s been a long time since a novel made me cry.

Recommended for anyone looking for Christian fiction that addresses some of the hard issues of life.

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

About Catherine West

Author Photo: Catherine WestCatherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018.

You can find Catherine West online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Where Hope Begins

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

Find Where Hope Begins online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Have you read any novels by Catherine West? What did you think?

Quote: Do I believe miracles can happen? Sure. But we have to step aside and let them.

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

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | A Dangerous Legacy

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

About A Dangerous Legacy

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

Colin was a great hero.

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

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

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

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

 

About Elizabeth Camden

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

Find Elizabeth Camden online at:

Website | Facebook

Find A Dangerous Legacy online at:

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

Read the introduction to A Dangerous Legacy below:

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

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

About Long Way Gone

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

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

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

The story spans decades.

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

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

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

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

About Charles Martin

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

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

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

You can find Charles Martin online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Quote from Falling for You by Becky Wade: Just because God started you on one path didn't mean He intended to keep you on that path all your life.

Book Review | Falling for You by Becky Wade

True to You by Becky Wade was one of my favourite reads of 2017. It was a contemporary Christian romance about a librarian who dabbled in family history research, so how could I not love it? The heroine of True to You was Nora, one of the three Bradford sisters—a librarian, a pastry chef, and a famous model. It was pretty obvious the series was going to give us stories for each sister.

After reading True to You, I was keen to read the other two stories.

Falling for You is the second novel in the series, and it’s the story of the internationally famous model and the retired football star.

Injury has forced Corbin Stewart to retire from football. He’s bought a house in Shore Pine, Washington, to be near his only remaining family. What he didn’t know was that it also put him near ex-girlfriend Willow Bradford, now on a sabbatical from modelling, living in nearby Merryweather and managing her family B&B.

Charlotte Dixon, Corbin’s twelve-year-old niece, has discovered a family secret.

She’s convinced Willow Bradford will help her uncover the mystery behind the secret, and convinces Corbin to introduce her to Willow. Willow agrees to help, even though helping will bring her into too much contact with ex-boyfriend Corbin. Who is still devastatingly attractive, despite the way he broke up with her four years ago.

Falling for You follows the same pattern as True to You and the free prequel novella, Then Came You. It intersperses the present-day story with letters, emails, and text messages from the past and present. It’s a novel (!) way to tell a story, and it works as we see the past and present stories of Willow, Corbin, and others.

And it’s a strong story.

It’s the romance of two people who messed up years ago, and have to work out if there’s a way through that mess to find happiness. Part of that mess was because while Willow is and always has been a strong Christian, Corbin called himself a Christian but didn’t live the life (football star, remember?). He’s now become a Christian, but finding life hard.

Willow has her own problems with faith, and they are so deep-seated it actually takes her a while to realise they even exist. This, to me, was the depth in the book—Willow coming to terms with her past choices, and what that means for her faith. And there was a fascinating suspense plot around Charlotte’s secret.

I loved True to You because I related to Nora, the librarian. She’s bookish, and that meant I could relate to her in a way I can’t relate to an internationally famous model. But I could still relate to Willow as a woman who has made mistakes, who has to learn what forgiveness really means.

Falling for You is a touching tale of love lost and love found again, underpinned by an intriguing mystery, and the power of God to forgive.

Now I’m looking forward to the third book in the Bradford Sisters series, the story of the pastry chef who doesn’t realise her best friend of forever is in love with her (and has been forever). He knows it. I know it. Her sisters know it. But she doesn’t, and that’s a trope I love.

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

About Becky Wade

Author Photo Becky WadeBecky is the Carol and Christy award winning author of heartwarming, humorous, and swoon-worthy contemporary inspirational romances.

She loves to connect with readers via her web site, www.beckywade.com, and via her Facebook author page, www.Facebook.com/AuthorBeckyWade

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

These days, you’ll find Becky in Dallas, Texas failing to keep up with her housework, trying her best in yoga class, carting her three kids around town, watching TV with her Cavalier spaniel on her lap, hunched over her computer writing, or eating chocolate.

You can find Becky Wade online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Falling for You

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

You can find Falling for You online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

#Throwback Thursday | Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

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

About Sweetbriar Cottage

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Sweetbriar Cottage online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

Then things get worse …

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Denise Hunter

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

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

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

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

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

You can read the introduction to Sweetbriar Cottage below:

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: