It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller—my favourite Christian Regency Romance author. Here’s the first line:
Unrequited love is one of my favourite romance tropes, so I’m looking forward to reading this.
What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?
About Underestimating Miss Cecilia
Shy, sweet Cecilia Hatherleigh has always been in love with Edward Amherst, the boy next door. Yet he’s never seen her as anything but the quiet girl in the background as he flirts with the other vivacious women of the ton.
When a near tragedy brings Edward’s attention to his family duties, this prodigal son decides he needs to settle down with a proper wife. Cecilia hopes to convince him to choose her—but God may want her to forget the wayward nobleman and put her future in His hands alone.
These two try to find their way toward happiness, but prejudice, political riots, and the changing face of England’s societal structures begin to block them at every turn. Can their struggles turn to triumph—or will their paths permanently diverge?
You can find Underestimating Miss Cecilia online at:
A Worthy Pursuit is larger than life in more ways than one.
Miss Charlotte Atherton is happy in her role as headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths in Austin, Texas—at least until Dr Sullivan announces the school is closing. The students will be returned to their families … including Lily Dorchester, an orphan for whom Charlotte is the legal guardian. So she does what any sensible 28-year-old woman would to in 1891: she kidnaps Lily and two other parentless students and takes them to a remote farm where she hopes they won’t be found.
Stone Hammond is the best retriever in Texas—he always gets his man. Or, in this case, his girl. He’s been hired to find little Lily Dorchester, who was kidnapped by her teacher. Only when he finds her, he finds the teacher claims she is Lily’s legal guardian, and she has the papers to prove it. Awkward. The two settle on an uneasy truce while Stone looks into Charlotte’s claim, and he finds the whole experience unexpected: the relationship Charlotte has with the children, the unique talents each child has, and his reaction to Charlotte. Especially his reaction to Charlotte.
I’ve enjoyed every single Karen Witemeyer book I’ve read, and this one is no exception.
The only problem with her books is that she doesn’t write them fast enough – it’s usually the best part of a year between releases. Her plots and characters are both excellent, and she manages to inject a lot of humour into her novels without ever going over-the-top or descending into cliché or cringe.
Despite the light humour, this was also a story of two wounded adults doing their best to follow God and protect the children in their charge from similar wounds. While the Christian aspects of the novel weren’t overpowering, they were powerful.
Overall, an excellent novel. Recommended for fans of historical fiction from authors such as Jen Turano and Carol Cox.
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
About Karen Witemeyer
For 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.
Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.
Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?
Today I’d like to welcome author Janet Bly, to share about her new release, Beneath a Camperdown Elm. Welcome, Janet! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.
What is your favourite fruit?
Cherries and grapes make an easy and healthy to eat snack when I’m reading or at the computer. And bananas provide potassium when my legs cramp. But I sure love fresh peaches or nectarines, when I can get them, in my morning cereal.
I love cherries. I just wish they were in season for longer.
Which is your favourite season?
The first days of Spring after the long, snowy winter, and the mud disappears. And any day in the Fall.
Where is your favourite place?
In my cozy bed, after a long day of difficult or satisfying work.
What is your favourite Bible verse?
The life verse I discovered from the early days of receiving Christ as my Lord & Savior is Ephesians 2:10 …
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
That nudged me many times over the years to constantly be looking for the works, big or small, that God created for me to accomplish.
What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?
My late husband, Stephen Bly, built a full-sized, false-front town with fire pit called Broken Arrow Crossing in our yard and I often entertain for family, friends, and church events there.
A full-size fake town? And Janet even sent photos:
Isn’t that cool?
Now, let’s talk about your book, Beneath a Camperdown Elm.
Reba’s scary stalker is locked up in jail. She finally snatches a rancher fiancé. Her runaway mother returns home. Reba has everything she ever wanted. But Grandma Pearl has disappeared! Is Reba about to lose it all?
In August 1991, at Road’s End, Idaho, three generations of women travel separate journeys of the heart.
Reba Mae Cahill brims with joy. Her life’s perfect. She’s finally bringing her prodigal mother, Hanna Jo, home to Road’s End from a Reno mental institute. With them is Jace McKane, her fiancé, who promises to help fight the unjust lawsuit that threatens the family ranch. He wants a new start, away from his unscrupulous father and all his drama.
Just as Reba’s getting Jace trained to become her rancher husband, she discovers Grandma Pearl betrayed her once again, in a way that also harms her mother. Reba believes she’s lost everything—her career, her identity, her lifelong pursuit, and her main reason for marrying Jace.
When Jace returns to California to bail out his father and pursue Quigley, a psychotic killer, who escaped from prison, she wonders if he’ll ever return to Road’s End?
Then Hanna Jo claims she sees alleged wild horses in the mountain valleys as she learns her son and ex-husband’s fishing boat sank in an Alaskan sea. Can Reba keep her from flipping out for good?
As Grandma Pearl struggles with guilt, health issues, and finding purpose for the rest of her life, will the new church building project provide an answer?
Meanwhile, twenty-one-year-old Scottish twin tourists, Archie and Wynda MacKenzie, mesmerize the town with their trick biking skills and charming accents. Reba’s not sure they’re all they claim to be. And someone harasses Reba with letters and phone calls. What are they really after? Will any of the answers be found in the mysteries of an old Scottish elm?
What inspired the plot of Beneath a Camperdown Elm?
My late husband and I were privileged to travel to Europe and especially loved Scotland. In Dundee, Scotland, I learned of the existence of a mutant, twisted Camperdown Elm, snaking low across the ground, first discovered at Camperdown House in the early 1800s. When we returned home, I found out that the nearby University of Idaho campus had a special planting by cuttings from the original of about twenty of the wild-headed trees. Their gnarliness and rarity fascinated me. I determined to write a story around a theme of the trees and their connection to and, perhaps, part of a curse on generations of an American family.
What a great inspiration!
Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?
I’m afraid I’ll have to admit that three different characters equally interest me—grandaughter, Reba Mae Cahill; mother, Hanna Jo Cahill; and grandmother Pearl Cahill. Living vicariously through each of their stories, I aspire to replicate their strong traits and recognize flaws of my own. They each represent in a shadowed, though not specific way, various seasons of my life.
Is there a particular theme or message in Beneath a Camperdown Elm?
No matter what choices the people in our families before us have made, and how that has affected our personal circumstances, we are free to start again, by our own thought through decisions. We can forge our own story. Also, all things can work together for good when God is in it.
Beneath a Camperdown Elm is the third book in a series. What are the other books? Do readers have to start with the first book?
Beneath a Camperdown Elm can be read alone. However, most readers tell me they want to know more of the backstory of The Trails of Reba Cahill and do read Books 1 & 2 afterward, or start with them, for all the other tales leading into the finale. Each of the books happen in the summer of 1991.
Wind in the Wires, Book 1
Twenty-five-year-old cowgirl Reba Cahill searches for love in a rancher husband and healing from the hurts of her runaway mother, who abandoned Reba as a child. Finding a love interest is quite a challenge, in the small town of Road’s End, Idaho, population 400, the setting of the Cahill Ranch, owned by Grandma Pearl.
Meanwhile, a ninety-year-old man in town decides to take a journey to the Nevada desert in his Model T car, to seek justice in solving two cold case murders. He talks Reba into going with him, after giving her a very expensive gold and turquoise squash blossom necklace, formerly owned by his niece who just died. During the trip, Reba and the old man uncover an eerie story of lies and betrayal. Will the truth be too hard for either of them to bear?
Down Squash Blossom Road, Book 2
Cowgirl Reba Cahill’s schedule is full. Save the family ranch. Free her mom from a mental institute. Take another road trip. Solve a murder and a kidnapping. Plus, she must evade a scary stalker. Can she also squeeze in romance?
What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?
The actual writing is the easiest part, even though it can take many months or even years to accomplish, with much strain on the brain at times. However, the most difficult challenge is all the necessity of marketing involved. It does no good to write something, if no one knows about it.
Somehow the writer must spark that elusive word-of-mouth dynamic that incites a satisfied reader to tell others. But most writers dread this part of the process, as he or she tends to be an introvert and enjoys most the solitary comfort zone of creating. Not always fun to put yourself ‘out there’ and do promotion.
What impact does your faith have on your writing?
Every writer has a world view of some sort. Mine comes from my Christian belief. And as I write, I try very hard not to be preachy, but to show the struggles of characters in coming to terms with God’s part in their lives. Some believe in Him. Others don’t. But He is definitely a Being to be reckoned with.
I think an increasing number of Christian readers want to read books with real-life struggles, so keep it up.
What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?
Mysteries of all kinds, historical and contemporary, cozy and thriller. Love the challenge of guessing who did what, digging through the intricate plotting, and the motive behind it all. In The Trails of Reba Cahill Series, I stay with the western genre of my late husband, Stephen Bly, but add mystery and a touch of romance. Actually, I have to admit that by Book 3, the story is more romance than mystery!
Well, I love a good romance!
What book (or books) are you currently reading?
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. This is a tedious read in many ways, but also charming at the same time. Set in 1327 about Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey suspected of heresy. Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate and his mission is overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Brother William turns detective. Never would have picked this novel on my own, but was recommended by members of an online fiction book club. Have enjoyed entering a world so unlike my own or any of our own genre stories.
Thank you, Janet! It’s been great to meet you and learn more about Beneath a Camperdown Elm.
If you’ve read my posts over the last two weeks, then this week’s answer probably won’t come as much of a surprise.
Two weeks ago, we talked about edgy Christian fiction, and how did I see edgy. My answer: fiction that reflects all of us, not just white middle class feel-good safe fiction.
Last week, we talked about what we’d like to see more of in Christian fiction. My answer: Jesus.
So what do you think I’d like to see less of in Christian fiction?
I’d like to see less cultural Christianity and more real faith. Less WASP and more diversity. Less America and more international. Less sanitised “safe” content, and more delving into real issues affecting real Christians (and non-Christians).
I live in New Zealand, which has been called a post-Christian culture for over twenty years. In New Zealand, people might go to church out of habit, but they don’t go just because all the neighbours go and going to church is the “done” thing. People go to church to meet with God and fellowship with other believers—which isn’t the impression I get from a lot of Christian fiction.
An Agent for Clara is Nerys Leigh’s second book in the multi-author Pinkerton Matchmaker series.
If you’ve read any of the others, you’ll know the series is about the “daring women who seek adventure and are of sound mind and body” who sign up to join the Pinkerton National Detective Agency only to find they are to be married to a male agent for their first assignment.
If you can buy into that somewhat unlikely premise, then you’ll enjoy the story.
Clara Lee joins the Pinkertons because she’s been fascinated with detecting ever since reading about the first female Pinkerton agent. She is assigned to learn from—and marry—Mr Tobias Campbell. Tobias has an interest in forensic investigation that makes him ahead of his time. (If you’ve read The Bug Man series by Tim Downs, then Tobias is the 1871 version).
Tobias agrees to marry Clara for the purpose of the case, but that’s all. He’s not interested in marriage. He’s not especially interested in training Clara, but he’s not given the option. The couple are sent to New York to locate a woman who went missing almost two years ago—hired by the man who possibly fathered a child with her, and now wants to help.
Tobias finds Clara hard to deal with at first. She’s his opposite in many ways, but they gradually get to know each other and come to value their differences as well as their similarities. Those who have read Nerys Leigh’s Escape to the West series will see some familiar references. I won’t say more, because #Spoilers 🙂
An Agent for Clara is a fun story and Christian romance fans with a fondness for 1900s Westerns will enjoy it.
Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.
About Nerys Leigh
Nerys Leigh writes thoroughly romantic Christian historical love stories. She loves heroes who are strong but sweet and heroines who are willing to fight for the life they want.
She’s from the UK, which you would think puts her in a unique position to not write about mail order brides in the American west, but the old adage of writing what you know has never appealed to her. She has an actual American read each book before publishing to make sure she hasn’t gone all English on it.
No One’s Bride is the first in the Escape to the West series which tells the stories of a group of women willing to travel across America to find happiness, and the men determined to win their hearts.
Falling in love could risk more than just their hearts.
Women aren’t supposed to fight crime, not in 1871. But solving mysteries is all Clara has ever wanted to do, so when the Pinkerton detective agency advertises for new female recruits, she jumps at the chance.
Not even having to marry her training agent for the duration of her first case fazes her, although Tobias Campbell is overly serious and a little unusual. Clara is exceptionally good with people. She’ll get him to him to loosen up before the case is over.
But when the search for a missing woman forces them into the dangerous underworld of New York’s notorious gangs, Clara and Tobias must learn to rely on each other.
Because it’s not only their hearts that are on the line. It’s their lives.
It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Fire Storm by Nancy Mehl. Here’s the first line:
What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?
About Fire Storm
When FBI profiler Kaely Quinn’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Kaely takes time off work to go to Dark Water, Nebraska, to help her brother care for their mother. Upon her arrival, she learns of a series of fires in the small town, attributed by the fire chief to misuse of space heaters in the frigid winter. But Kaely is skeptical, and a search for a pattern in the locations of the fires bolsters her suspicions.
After yet another blaze devastates a local family, Kaely is certain a serial arsonist is on the loose. Calling upon her partner from St. Louis, Noah Hunter, and her brother’s firefighter neighbor who backs Kaely’s suspicions, Kaely and her team begin an investigation that swiftly leads them down a twisted path. When the truth is finally revealed, Kaely finds herself confronting a madman who is determined his last heinous act will be her death.
It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of the excellent The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall, an excellent romance set in Gilded Age America.
Excellent end to trilogy!
After the murder of her brother, heiress Estella Everstone goes incognito as Elle Stoneburner, paid companion to an elderly widow. But she doesn’t anticipate the job taking her to Everston, her favourite of her family’s hotels, where she meets Mr Dexter Blakeley, the hotel manager … and Jay Crawford, her ex-fiance.
The story is told in first person, by Elle/Estella.
She’s an interesting character: people treat her differently as Elle Stoneburner, and she finds their attitudes quite different. It gives her the opportunity to find out who she really is, apart from the much-younger Everstone sister, the heiress. The first person gives it a gothic romance field, a little like Victoria Holt (for those old enough to remember her!).
This is especially the case with Mr Blakeley and his mother, both of whom seems to have a low opinion of society women. Elle/Estella is attracted to Mr Blakely, and he seems to be attracted to Elle, but will he have the same feelings for Estella, given she represents so much he appears to despise?
Each book covers the romance of one of the Everstone siblings. The Captive Imposter is a standalone novel, but features characters and situations from the earlier books—so if you plan on reading all the books, do start with The Hesitant Heiress.
I’ve read all three books, and they all have solid plots with excellent characters, feisty women with faith and attitude. The books are well-written, and I especially like the way they each include a strong Christian thread without being preachy. Having said that, I think The Captive Imposter is my favourite of the three books, because the plot is something a little different, and because the characters are so good–both well-imagined and well-portrayed.
Recommended for fans of historical romance.
Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.
About Dawn Crandall
Dawn earned a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University. She’s been balancing books and babies lately as her two sons were both born as the first four books of her Everstone Chronicles series were being released from Whitaker House from 2014 to 2016. Dawn lives with her husband and two young sons on a hobby farm in her hometown in northeast Indiana.
Dawn Crandall’s debut Gilded Age Victorian romance, “The Hesitant Heiress,” was a 2015 ACFW Carol award finalist in the debut category and received the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2015 Write Touch Reader’s Choice Award and the 2015 Romancing the Novel Reader’s Choice Award.
For her own protection following the murder of her brother Will, hotel heiress Estella Everstone assumes the alias of Elle Stoneburner and takes a job as companion to an elderly widow. Never did she imagine that her position would lead her back to her beloved Everston, a picturesque resort property tucked away in the rugged mountains of Maine.
Living below her station in a guise of anonymity has its struggles, but her spirits are buoyed by a newfound friendship with the hotel manager, Dexter Blakeley. And his distaste for the spoiled socialites who frequent his hotel causes her to take a close look at her own priorities and past lifestyle.
When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer of employment she can’t refuse. As the two interact and open up to each other, Estella feels a growing attraction to Dexter; and increasing discomfort over concealing her identity. Yet, in spite of the false pretense she’s putting forth, she’s never felt freer to be herself than in his presence. But will he still love her when he learns the truth about who she is?
You’d think that Jesus Christ would be a central feature of a genre called “Christian fiction”.
Yet he’s not. An increasing number of Christian fiction publishers are owned by multinational media corporations, so they have no moral or religious compunction to ensure that “Christian fiction” actually shares Jesus Christ. As a result, I’ve seen an increasing number of “Christ-lite” titles from the larger traditional Christian publishers.
Don’t get me wrong: there is a need for “Christ-lite” titles.
A non-Christian isn’t going to pick up Redeeming Love or This Present Darkness. They’re reading The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shades. There is a need for Christian authors to write books that appeal to the unsaved, but which thread Christian messages into their stories. There are many Christian authors writing in the general market, sharing messages of love and hope that reference Christianity lightly and will hopefully plant a seed or two.
But I expect more from Christian publishers.
I expect Christian fiction—novels with characters who are definitely (and sometimes defiantly) Christian. Characters who make mistakes and sin, but who experience God’s grace and change. Characters who look to God first, who show what it means to be a Christ follower in an increasingly secular world. Characters who teach us how to better live as Christians—either by what they do, or by what they don’t do.
Once upon a time, Christian fiction that included Jesus was normal. But at some point, it became abnormal, to the point where Christian fiction with an active spiritual thread is practically edgy.
Uncharted Destiny is the seventh book in Keely Brooke Keith’s Uncharted series.
It starts pretty much where the previous book left off. On that basis, you probably need to read Uncharted Journey before reading Uncharted Destiny (better still, read the whole series—start with The Land Uncharted, or Aboard Providence).
Bailey Colburn has arrived in the Land—the strange island in the South Atlantic Ocean, hidden from modern navigational devices (think of Wonder Woman’s home island of Themyscira, but with men and women and all using 1860s technology). She thought she was the only survivor from her vessel, but now she’s found that Professor Tim Van Buskirk, her mentor and father figure, also survived. But he’s trapped on the other side of the island.
Bailey wants to mount an immediate rescue mission, but it’s not so simple.
Tim’s radio description of his surroundings suggests he’s in the unmapped portion of the island, and it will take at least a week to get there. Fortunately, the Colburn family are willing to help, because it’s not a journey she can take alone.
While the other novels in this series have largely been romance novels in a unique setting, Uncharted Destiny has more of an adventure feel—think Indiana Jones without the archeology, and with natural enemies. It’s a dangerous journey, and the danger doesn’t end when they find Tim …
Uncharted Destiny is another excellent story in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment.
Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.
About Keely Brooke Keith
Keely Brooke Keith writes inspirational frontier-style fiction with a slight Sci-Fi twist, including The Land Uncharted (Shelf Unbound Notable Romance 2015) and Aboard Providence (2017 INSPY Awards Longlist). Keely also creates resources for writers such as The Writer’s Book Launch Guide and The Writer’s Character Journal.
Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely grew up in a family that frequently relocated. By graduation, she lived in 8 states and attended 14 schools. When she isn’t writing, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Keely, her husband, and their daughter live on a hilltop south of Nashville, Tennessee.
Bailey Colburn is safe in the Land, but her father figure, Professor Tim, never made it to Good Springs. When Bailey discovers Tim is lost in the Land’s dangerous mountain terrain and out of his life-saving medication, she sets out to rescue him. Even with the help of intriguing native Revel Roberts, Bailey faces an impossible journey to save Tim. The mountains are shrouded in dark folklore and full of deadly surprises.
Revel Roberts never stays in one place too long. No matter where he travels in the Land, he avoids the Inn at Falls Creek, his boyhood home and the business he will inherit. But when fearless newcomer Bailey Colburn needs Revel’s help to find her friend, he joins the mission and is forced to return to the place he’d rather forget.
Bailey and Revel’s friendship strengthens as they need each other in ways neither of them imagined. But nothing can prepare them for what awaits in the Land’s treacherous mountains.
Uncharted Destiny, the seventh installment in the beloved Uncharted series, weaves faith and adventure while delivering long-awaited answers in this inspirational story of life in a hidden land.
It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Sing a New Song by Candee Fick:
What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?
About Sing a New Song
The pampered diva is about to meet her match
Songbird Gloria Houghton has always wanted to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri…only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she?
Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes restaurant chefs, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more-than-content to stay in the background, thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated—and irritated—by the newest addition to the staff.
After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song.If you like strong families, country music, and redeemed villains, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series by Candee Fick.
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