Tag: #ThrowbackThursday

#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:

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

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

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

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Blue Ridge Sunrise

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

About Blue Ridge Sunrise

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

You can find Blue Ridge Sunrise online at:

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

The other thing I liked …

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

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

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

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

About Honeysuckle Dreams

(Book Two in the Blue Ridge Romance series)

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

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

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

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

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

About Denise Hunter

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

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

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

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

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

#ThrowbackThursday | Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

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

About Fatal Frost

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

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

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

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

My Review

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

Lots of snow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Nancy Mehl

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

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

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

You can find Fatal Frost online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

#Throwback Thursday | Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

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

About Sweetbriar Cottage

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Sweetbriar Cottage online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

Then things get worse …

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Denise Hunter

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

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

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

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

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

You can read the introduction to Sweetbriar Cottage below:

#Throwback Thursday | A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

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

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

The book is off to a good start …

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

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

Things soon get complicated.

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

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

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

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

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

About Kristi Ann Hunter

Author photo: Kristi Ann Hunter

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

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

You can find Kristi Ann Hunter online at:

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About A Noble Masquerade

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

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

You can find A Noble Masquerade online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to A Noble Masquerade below:

#ThrowbackThursday | A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

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

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

A Fragile Hope is the exception to that rule.

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

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

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

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

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

About Cynthia Ruchti

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

You can find Cynthia online at:

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About A Fragile Hope

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

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

You can find A Fragile Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Fragile Hope below:

#ThrowbackThursday | 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:

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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: