Tag: #Throwback Thursday

#ThrowbackThursday | Buried Memories by Carol J Post

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing a review that previously appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews (which is now defunct). It’s Buried Memories, a Love Inspired Suspense novel from one of my favourite LIS authors, Carol J Post.

About Buried Memories

After her broken engagement, Nicki Jackson hoped her move to Cedar Key would give her a fresh start—instead she quickly learns someone’s out to destroy her. Are the attacks tied to her mother’s recently reopened murder case…or to the nightmares Nicki’s beginning to suspect are actually hidden memories?

With the threats against her escalating, former soldier Tyler Brant vows to keep Nicki safe. He refuses to lose the woman who’s swiftly becoming more than a childhood crush. But when danger circles closer, is Nicki’s traumatic past better left forgotten…or are her memories the key to something far more sinister?

My Thoughts

So Nicki Jackson has settled in her new home of Cedar Key and thinks she’s got her life back on track: house, job, dog, hobby, nice neighbours … especially once she finds Tyler, her teenage best friend, is staying next door.
But this is a Love Inspired Suspense novel, so we know things aren’t going to stay on track for long … and they don’t. There’s plenty of suspense and several plot twists—one of which was kind of given away by the title, but the others certainly caught me unaware.
The characters were excellent. Nicki had a difficult early childhood before being adopted by a lovely couple, yet losing those parents as well. So she’s trying to make it on her own, but also wants to connect with the older sister she hasn’t seen in close to two decades. She’s a strong character who hasn’t had an easy life, but who has chosen to be purposeful and not fall into the same negative patterns her mother did.
We don’t find out as much about Tyler’s upbringing, but we get the impression it also had its low points. But his real issue is his PTSD, something which he’s still struggling to control, and something which gives him and Nicki even more in common … at the same time it could drive them apart (okay, so there was one point in reading Buried Memories where I start on my “men are stupid” rant. But he redeems himself.)
The plot and writing were excellent, and I resented each time I had to leave Nicki and Tyler and Cedar Key because life or children or work or food. Buried Memories is part of Carol Post’s Cedar Key series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. Overall, an excellent suspense read.

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

About Carol J Post

Carol J PostFrom medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

You can find Carol J Post online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

You can find Buried Memories online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Buried Memories below:

#Throwback Thursday | Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Five Days in Skye, the debut novel from Carla Laureano. It’s being republished this week, with a beautiful new cover (and I’m hoping this time around we’ll get all three books in the trilogy!).

Romance in Scotland: What more could you want?

Andrea Sullivan may have sabotaged her career with that last potential client. Now, as punishment, she has to convince TV chef James MacDonald, owner of three Michelin-starred London restaurants, that her company is perfect to help him renovate and market the family hotel he has inherited on the Isle of Skye. She has just a few days, and her job is on the line.

There is an immediate attraction when Andrea and James meet, but Andrea wants nothing to do with men, and especially wants nothing to do with a client. James has his own problematic romantic history, not to mention an even more problematic relationship with his brother, who owns one-third of the hotel.

I found all the characters to be intelligent and likeable, and I was especially impressed by the research. I’ve not been to Skye but I’ve lived in London and visited Scotland, and Five Days in Skye made me feel I was there. I had to laugh Andrea’s reaction to James calling her ‘love’. It’s a common term, particularly in the hospitality industry.

Right, love?

This is a Christian novel, but the Christian element is somewhat understated. Both Andrea and James come from rural backgrounds where the Christian faith was an integral part of the family. But both have abandoned that faith, yet realise on Skye that perhaps they need to pursue God once more.

Five Days in Skye has it all: an excellent opening, a funny first meeting between Andrea and James, intelligent lead characters who are both successes in their chosen careers, excellent attention to detail, and the Isle of Skye, a beautiful and unique setting. And the last line is a beautiful illustration of the eternal romance between us and God. Recommended for romance lovers.

Thanks to David C Cook and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Carla Laureano at her website, and you can

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:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About Five Days in Skye

Andrea Sullivan is so consumed by her hospitality-consultant job that she’s forgotten what brings her joy. She dreads her new assignment—a last chance to snag a high-profile client in Scotland. Yet the lush Isle of Skye transcends her preconceptions. As does the man she must impress, the rugged, blue-eyed Scotsman James MacDonald.

He’s passionate about cooking, but after six restaurants, four cookbooks, and his own television show, he’s grown weary of the scrutiny that comes with living in the public eye.

Soon Andrea and James begin to sense these five days in Skye together may just be God’s wild invitation into deeper life . . . and truer love.

Find Five Days in Skye online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction here:

#ThrowbackThursday | Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Beneath Copper Falls, another nailbiting romantic suspense novel from Colleen Coble. This review was first published at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

A woman is murdered—drowned—in the Prologue. Another woman is almost drowned in the first chapter. Is that creepy or what?

Dana, the almost-victim, escapes from her fiance and returns home to Rock Harbor.

She knows Garrett might track her home, but figures she’ll be surrounded by friends, and he’ll stick out in the small town. He’s determined to get her back—and she’s just as determined to stay away from him, to stay safe.

She has decided she doesn’t need a man to take care of her, but then she meets Boone Carter. That’s a first meeting that doesn’t go well! But they reconcile, and … but that would be telling. Suffice to say this is romantic suspense, and although the emphasis is largely on the suspense, there is still enough romance to keep romance lovers happy.

This was a great story, full of suspense and misdirection.

I thought I’d figured out the identity of the murderer, then something happened which meant I had to be wrong (and I was). We also saw more of the evildoer’s MO as the story progressed, and this just ramped up the tension as we saw him working to ensnare his next victim—another Rock Harbor woman.

At this point I hadn’t guessed the evildoer’s true identity, but that didn’t stop me yelling at the character to get away from the creep. I did eventually work out the real murderer (long before Dana, Bree and co worked it out), but that only added to the suspense. He’s behind you! Get out now!

This is the sixth novel in Colleen Coble’s Rock Harbor series. I think I’ve read one or two of the previous novels—Bree rang a bell, but that was all. It didn’t matter. Beneath Copper Falls can easily be read without having read the previous books. I’m sure fans of the series will be thrilled to read a new installment.

Recommended for thriller fans. Best read the day before your manicure appointment, not the day after.

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

About Colleen Coble

Colleen CobleBest-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

 

Find Colleen Coble online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Beneath Copper Falls

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

Find Beneath Copper Falls online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Beneath Copper Falls below:

#ThrowbackThursday | Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart on the Line is an excellent novel.

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

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

Recommended for all romantic suspense fans.

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

About Heart on the Line

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

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

Find Heart on the Line online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

About Karen Witemeyer

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

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

Find Karen Witemeyer online at:

Website | Facebook

#ThrowbackThursday | When Fall Fades by Amy Leigh Simpson

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

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

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

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

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

(Which you now know I totally missed!)

About When Fall Fades

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

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

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

Find When Fall Fades online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

About Amy Leigh Simpson

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

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

Find Amy Leigh Simpson online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

#ThrowbackThursday | Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

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

About Fatal Frost

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

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

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

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

My Review

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

Lots of snow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Nancy Mehl

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

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

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

You can find Fatal Frost online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

#Throwback Thursday | Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

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

About Sweetbriar Cottage

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Sweetbriar Cottage online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

Then things get worse …

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Denise Hunter

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

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

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

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

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

You can read the introduction to Sweetbriar Cottage below:

#Throwback Thursday | A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

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

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

The book is off to a good start …

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

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

Things soon get complicated.

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

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

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

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

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

About Kristi Ann Hunter

Author photo: Kristi Ann Hunter

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

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

You can find Kristi Ann Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Noble Masquerade

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

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

You can find A Noble Masquerade online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to A Noble Masquerade below:

#ThrowbackThursday | A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd

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

My Review

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

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

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

The real strength of this novel was the research.

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

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

I also found the writing strong.

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

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

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

About Sandra Byrd

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

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

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

You can find Sandra Byrd online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Lady in Disguise

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

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

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

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

You can find A Lady in Disguise online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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

#ThrowbackThursday | The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

An Outstanding Story of Christian Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After all, significant elements of the story are real.

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

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

Recommended.

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

About Elizabeth Musser

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

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

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

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

You can find Elizabeth online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

You can read her Friday Fifteen here.

About The Long Highway Home

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

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

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

Find The Long Highway Home online at:

AmazonGoodreads

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