We serve a God of Miracles

A Thought for Today | We Serve a God of Miracles

A while back, I read a Facebook comment where the writer said she didn’t believe in miracles.

This stopped me scrolling through Facebook.

How could she not believe in miracles? The New Testament is full of them. She did have a reason. It wasn’t one I’d heard before, but that wasn’t what got me thinking.

What got me thinking was: do I believe miracles?

Yes, I do. Lots of miracles.

I believe in everyday miracles.

There is the miracle of birth, of a baby coming into the world. The miracle of germination, of putting a seed in the ground, and it turning into something I can eat. (I will clarify that. My husband put the seed in the ground, and I eat what comes up. I have a black thumb. In case you’re wondering, that’s the polar opposite of a green thumb).

There is the miracle of pollination. Of bees buzzing around collecting pollen from flowers to make their honey, and in that way allowing the flowers and vegetables to produce fruit. Which produces food. Without bees and pollination, humanity would be in big trouble. Isn’t it a miracle that our survival depends on something we often consider a pest?

And there is the miracle of salvation. Gods plan makes no sense to many people. We need a miracle to accept His word is true. Every person who accepts Jesus as saviour is the outward demonstration of an inward miracle.

I believe in small miracles.

There are small miracles, miracles of healing, of finance, of health. These might not always seem like much to the outside observer. Many people will try and explain them away through logic. But they are miracles to the recipients.

I’ll give you an example.

I used to work with an evangelist who had a healing ministry. Attending his meetings was eye-opening. He’d pray for hours in preparation, asking God to show him the people who would be at the meeting, and their health problems.

During one of the last meetings he held before Jesus called him home, he prayed for a woman who had a problem sitting without pain. She couldn’t. She was only in her forties, but she couldn’t sit down without it hurting. After he prayed, he asked her to sit on the hard stage.

She did. I could see her apprehension in her face … then the surprise when she sat and it didn’t hurt. She sat down several times, each time harder and harder, until she was practically bouncing up and down on the hard wooden stage. Look on her face was unforgettable. She emailed the following week, saying that was the first time she’d sat without pain in years.

That is, to me, was a miracle, and it was a miracle for that lady as well.

After the evangelist died, a thick book was compiled, of all the testimonies the evangelist had received over the years of the miracles God performed through him. It’s called Miracles in Aotearoa (New Zealand, for those of you who don’t speak Maori).

I believe in big miracles.

These might not be big miracles like Jesus performed. He didn’t turn water into wine. He didn’t raise anyone from the dead. But they were miracles all the same.

But I’ve heard stories of big miracles from people I trust, people who have no reason to lie to me. Their stories encourage me to believe in a God of miracles. As Christians, we believe in things seen and unseen. A God of miracles.

It struck me that if I didn’t believe in miracles, I would be placing limits on God. I would be saying God isn’t omnipotent. And I believe God is omnipotent. To believe anything else is believing in a lesser God.

Do I want to serve a God who can’t perform miracles? No. I want to serve a God who can. A God of miracles.

Do I demand that I see those miracles? No. I accept by faith the words of those who have seen them. And I give thanks for the everyday miracles, the small miracles, the big miracles. And for the God of miracles.

After all, we’re about to celebrate Christmas, the time when we remember the birth of Jesus our Saviour. If that’s not a miracle, what is?

Bookish Question: What questions should I ask in 2019?

Bookish Question #89 | What questions should I ask in 2019?

It’s the end of the year—well, almost.

Next Tuesday is Christmas Day, so this is my last Bookish Tuesday post for the year.

I’ve been writing a weekly Bookish Question post since April 2017. I’ve asked (and answered) 87 questions, and I’ve received hundreds of answers. Some people answer on the blog, but most answer on social media—Facebook, Twitter, and (especially) Instagram.

Answers have varied from short and pithy (well Twitter only allowed 140 characters when I started), to long and far more detailed (usually here on the blog). It seems people like the idea. Australasian Christian Writers started a weekly Book Chat post at the beginning of 2018, and I’m one of the two hosts for that post, asking and answering the same question as here on my blog.

Now it’s time to consider what questions we should ask in 2019.

Here are some of the questions I’ve asked over the last two years:

Bookish Questions

So what else would you like to know, from me and from your fellow readers?

Do you want to answer the questions?

If you want to join in the fun by blogging your answer to the question each week, you can!

Email me via my Contact page here on the website, and I’ll forward you the list of questions for 2019 early in the New Year. You can then add your link to the ACW post each week, and share on social media. It’s a great way to get people talking!

Quote from Emergency Case: Jack, come here. There's a dead man in our driveway.

Book Review | Emergency Case by Richard L Mabry

You know your day is off to a bad start when you back over a body in your driveway.

The only thing that’s worse? When your wife backs over a body in your driveway … and you’re a lawyer who recognises the victim as a shady client. The kind who pays in cash, doesn’t want a receipt, and chats about the illegal gun deal he has going down.

So Jack Harbaugh day doesn’t start well, and it doesn’t get better. His handgun is missing, and it fires the same kind of bullets that killed the dead guy. He didn’t do it, so who is setting him up? How can he persuade the police he’s innocent? And what’s he going to tell his wife?

Emergency Case is a strong thriller that’s a mix of Richard L Mabry’s traditional medical thriller, and another personal favourite: the legal thriller. It also has a touch of marriage guidance—another of Mabry’s trademarks. He prefers to write about married couples rather than write romances. That’s good.

There are precious few Christian novels that feature married couples, whether happily married or otherwise. Mabry’s couples—including Leah and Jack—are what I call realistically married. There are good days and bad days (although I’m glad my bad days don’t include backing over a dead body in my driveway).

Emergency Case is a short novella, recommended for medical suspense fans.

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

About Richard Mabry

I’m a retired physician who, in addition to writing, is a husband and grandfather, plays (and enjoys) golf, and does the hundred-and-one other things that retired people do.

I got into non-medical writing after the death of my first wife with my book, THE TENDER SCAR: LIFE AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE. I’m gratified that it continues to help those who have lost a loved one.

Now I’m writing what I call “medical suspense with heart.” My novels have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times’ Best Inspirational Novel and their Reviewer’s Choice Award, have won the Selah award, and been named by Christian Retailing as the best in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. My latest novel is CARDIAC EVENT, which has been given a 4 1/2 star rating and a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times. I’ve also published three novellas, the latest one DOCTOR’S DILEMMA.

You can find Dr Richard Mabry online at:

Website Facebook Twitter

About Emergency Case

Killer or Target?

Dr. Kelly Irving knew her husband, attorney Jack Harbaugh, was acting strangely, but figured they’d get through it. When she backed out of her garage that morning, she thought her car hit a bump. Instead, its progress was stopped by the body of a man her husband recently represented. Not only that, the dead man had been shot by her husband’s gun. The police who investigated made it clear that Jack was a primary suspect.

Kelly couldn’t decide if Jack was a murderer or marked as the next victim. As things continued to escalate, they were forced to put their marital differences aside and concentrate on keeping Jack alive while discovering who was behind the whole thing.

Find Emergency Case online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Emergency Case below:

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 72 | Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson

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 Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson:

First Line from Gone too Soon by Melody Carlson: I know it's wrong to steal—even worse to steal your sister's diary. But I just can't seem to stop myself.
What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Gone Too Soon

An icy road. A car crash.
A family changed forever.

Hannah Josephson had always been the “perfect” daughter. Kiera couldn’t live up to her before, and she certainly can’t now that her older sister has died in a car accident. But the image she carried resentfully of Hannah is challenged when she finds her dead sister’s diary and begins to read. Apparently Hannah’s final year wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought.

Caught in a pattern of blaming each other, the Josephson family is falling apart. Their father has left, their mother is mixing opiates and alcohol, little sister Maddie has been shipped off to spend the whole summer with their grandmother, and Kiera feels utterly alone with her grief and anger. A summer job helping at a park in a poor section of town provides a friend and a purpose.

But it’s Hannah’s diary that fills her thoughts. For the first time in years, she feels close to the sister she’s lost. But can the knowledge she gleans about her possibly help her patch back together the family that seems determined to implode?

Find Gone Too Soon online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AUGoodreads

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

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

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

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

And don’t forget to click here to check out my Amazon shop for my top picks in Christian fiction!

#Throwback Thursday | A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Light on the Hill, the first book in Connilyn Cossette’s new Cities of Refuge series, which first appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers.

I think some of the characters featured in her previous Out from Egypt series, Counted with the Stars, Shadow of the Storm, and Wings of the Wind. I haven’t read any of the Out of Egypt series, but didn’t feel I missed anything.

Old Testament Biblical fiction, by definition, isn’t Christian fiction.

It can’t be, because the setting predates Christ. But it is an insight into the life and culture of the times of the Old Testament—in this case, the years after the nation of Israel first arrived in the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. And it does point to Jesus. The cities of refuge represented a revolutionary idea. An accused criminal could seek and gain mercy, instead of being subject to the cultural retribution of an eye for an eye, a life for a life.

But the theme of A Light on the Hill is definitely Christian.

Justice, or mercy? Love, or hate? Forgiveness, or retribution? While Biblical fiction isn’t Christian fiction per se, good Biblical fiction reinforces the fact the Bible is one story, with the Old Testament foreshadowing the New Testament. This is additionally reinforced by the main characters, most of whom have chosen to follow Yahweh rather than being born Hebrew.

I don’t read a lot of Biblical fiction. It seemed to fall out of favour for a while, and my interest got pulled in other genre directions. But A Light on the Hill easily equals those early Biblical fiction stories I read from authors like Francine Rivers and Angela Hunt.

The story does take a while to get going—the first quarter is background, introducing the characters and setting up the situation that will force Moriyah to flee for her life. However, even this background is an interesting and necessary introduction to life in Shiloh in the early days of Israel.

The writing is strong.

It’s an unusual choice to write historical fiction in first person, but it works because it takes us deep into Moriyah’s mind, and that enables us to relate to her. After all, we all have hidden scars of one sort or another. The characters are well-drawn, and the plot is full of suspense as we journey with Moriyah, hoping she’ll reach her objective, yet worried she won’t.

A Light on the Hill a story of judgement as the people of Shiloh judge Moriyah based on her external appearance to the point she hides away from people and from life. It’s also the story of mercy, as Yahweh has already established the means for Morihay to be accepted and saved.

Recommended for fans of Biblical fiction, or for those who would like to better understand the times of the Bible.

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

About Connilyn Cossette

Connilyn Cossette is the Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There’s not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience.

Find Connilyn Cossette online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Light on the Hill

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

Find A Light on the Hill online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Light on the Hill below:

Click here to find A Light on the Hill and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

 

Bookish Question #88 | What are your Top Ten Reads for 2018?

What are your Top Ten Reads for 2018?
Every year I volunteer to write a Top Ten post … and every year I regret it. How can I possibly condense a year of reading into ten books? Last year I decided to cheat a little, and posted only my top ten contemporary Christian romance reads.
I’m cheating again this year. I’ve already posted my five favourite new-to-me authors, and my top five romance read. So today’s post (which is cross-posted at Australasian Christian Writers) is my top ten Christian reads, excluding romance.

Strategem by Robin Carroll

An excellent thriller with a unique hook: a woman dies playing an escape room-type game designed by her husband, which makes him the prime suspect. He didn’t do it, so who did?Click here to read my review.

Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

An infertile woman working in a pregnancy support clinic is counselling the woman pregnant to her unfaithful husband … only none of them know it. A gripping novel which explores those problem areas where there are no right answers.

Click here to read my review.

Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon

Grace in the Shadows is a poignant and thought-provoking novel from Australian author and missionary Christine Dillon, one that is designed to challenge our thinking at the same time as giving us a good story with great characters.

Click here to read a review by Fiction Aficionado.

Life After by Katie Ganshert

What would you do if you were the sole survivor of a train accident that killed twenty-two people … but you can’t remember it? That’s the premise of this gripping and emotional novel.

Click here to read my review.

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrell

The recipient of a heart transplant meets the donor family, and is challenged to get out and live the life she has been gifted … by ticking off the donor’s bucket list, the 24 things she didn’t get to do before she died.

Click here to read my review.

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

A powerful dual-timeline stories connecting a rare book, a second-hand bookstore, and pre-World War II Austria as Hitler comes to power and begins his persecution of the Jews. Plenty of twists and tragedy.

Click here to read my review.

 

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

Charles Martin novels always pack an emotional punch, and send down the rain is no exception. Yes, there’s a slow build, but the payoff is more than worth it in this exploration of love, loyalty, and family, a story of sacrifice and second chances.

Click here to read my review.

No Less Days by Amanda G Stevens

David Galloway can’t die. He’s tried, but he can’t. He’s always thought he was alone, but he’s watching TV one day and realises that he isn’t alone … Yes, No Less Days isn’t your typical Christian fiction. It’s more like Forever meets Highlander, part science fiction and part urban fantasy.

Click here to read my review.

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Savannah’s husband of twenty years has left her for another woman, the children are in boarding school and college and don’t need her, so she does what any sensible woman would do: she runs away. It’s a tough yet touching story about what women do when life disappears.

Click here to read my review.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

I seem not to have reviewed this (probably because I bought it, and I’d already filled my reviewing schedule with review copies).

It’s a dual timeline story, with the past timeline telling the story of a family that is broken when the five children are stolen, shipped off to an orphanage, and adopted out. It’s a compelling story, made all the more compelling and horrifying by the knowledge it’s based on the real-life scandal of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

Conclusion

As I was compiling this post, I realised what all these novels have in common: a great hook.

Yes, they all also have great characters, a strong plot, and excellent writing, but so did a lot of the novels that didn’t make the list. These are the novels that have lived in my memory long past reading them and writing the review … and that’s because of the hook.

Characters placed in unusual and often difficult situations, and being forced to work through issues and problems most of us will never face. Because that’s the attraction of fiction: the way story can teach us how to deal with things in the real world.

So what’s the hook for your work in progress? What challenges do you give your characters?

What about you? What are some of the best novels you’ve read this year? Do your choices have a theme, like mine did?

Quote from The Lieutenants Bargain: Jack knew that nothing happened in life that God didn't allow, but that didn't mean that everything had a purpose. Sometimes it was just dumb luck.

Book Review | The Lieutenant’s Bargain by Regina Jennings

Hattie Walker doesn’t want to get married.

She wants to be an artist, Her parents have given her two months to prove herself and get a painting in a reputable Denver exhibition, so she’s travelling to Colorado to try and make her mark in the art world. Otherwise, it’s go home to Van Buren, Arkansas, and plan for her future. A stagecoach shootout leaves Hattie as the only survivor … and therefore the only eyewitness to murder. But that’s nothing compared to being kidnapped by Indians for who knows what nefarious purpose.

Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has never been interested in marriage.

The only girl he was ever interested in never showed the slightest sign of liking him. But now he’s rescuing the survivor of a stagecoach robbery, and it turns out to be his childhood sweetheart. Anxious to impress, he asks the village Chief to arrange a ceremony … and ends up married.

Oops. Not quite the impression he wanted to make.

It’s a great set-up: a marriage that’s neither mail order bride nor marriage of convenience, but marriage all the same. And between two people who know and like each other, although that doesn’t mean they actually want to be married. It makes for a fun story, with a lot of great scenes as the two get to know each other and consider their options.

Parts of the novel show the hopefully well-meaning but almost certainly misguided colonialism, with the attempts to integrate the local Indian tribes into the white man’s world (and isn’t that phrase telling: the white man’s world. Not the white world. That’s still a distinction we’re all fighting for). Some Native American readers may say this history is sanitised and sugar-coated, and they’d probably be right.

However, this novel is intended as light entertainment, not a serious treatise on the faults of colonialism (of which there are many). On that level, it works.

The Lieutenant’s Bargain is the second book in the Fort Reno series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. Recommended for fans of Christian Western historical romance … especially those who like a little humour in their romance.

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

About Regina Jennings

Regina JenningsRegina Jennings is the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history, Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children when not traveling the world.

Find Regina Jennings online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About The Lieutenant’s Bargain

Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home–and plead his case once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart–but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril–and tests Jack’s resolve to remain single.

Find The Lieutenant’s Bargain online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Lieutenant’s Bargain below:

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 71 | Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

It’s First Line Friday! I’m currently putting together my Top Ten list for 2018. This means checking out the books I’ve read this year and trying to whittle them down to the ten best. It’s no easy task!

Anyway, Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson is one that might make the cut. Here’s the first line:

First line from Hidden Among the Stars: The blade of a shovel, cutting through frosted grass. That's what she remembered most from the spring of 1938.

This is one of those books where I read the first line, and couldn’t stop reading. Click here to read my review.

About Hidden Among the Stars

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life.

But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Find Hidden Among the Stars at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Hidden Among the Stars below:

Click here to check out Hidden Among the Stars and other great Christian fiction at  my Amazon shop.

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

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

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

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

#ThrowbackThursday | Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Thin Ice by Irene Hannon. This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

Thin Ice started with a bang and didn’t let up all the way right to the last page. Lance McGregor is a brand new FBI agent who finds himself with a mystery involving Christy Reed, an attractive ice skater who appears to be receiving letters from her sister, who supposedly died in a house fire two months earlier. Lance and Christy are both excellent characters, and their mutual attraction almost sizzles on the page.

Hannon adds to the tension by including scenes from the viewpoint of the kidnapper, and these were well done: too many novelists give their evildoers horrific childhoods, as though that is to blame for their adult actions. Hannon shows that while this antagonist did have a difficult upbringing, he was also a cruel boy who has grown up to be a cruel man who blames others for his less-than-perfect life.

It’s classic Irene Hannon

A strong hero with a military background (and the emotional baggage that brings), a beautiful yet self-sufficient heroine who understands people (especially the hero), a suspense-driven plot with plenty of unpredictable twists and turns, and a strong underlying romantic tension. Add in a good dose of Christian faith, and you’ve got a classic Irene Hannon novel. She’s one of my favourite romantic suspense authors, and she delivers another winner with On Thin Ice. Recommended for romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Irene Hannon

Author Photo: Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon is the best-selling author of more than 35 novels. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine and the Daphne du Maurier Award for mystery/suspense. Irene and her husband make their home in Missouri, USA.

Find Irene Hannon online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Thin Ice

After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.

You can find Thin Ice online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Thin Ice below:

New Releases in Christian Ficiton via ACFW Fiction Finder

December 2018 New Releases in Christian Fiction

It’s December. Already.

And while that means the end-of-year rush has started, it also means it’s time for the new releases in Christian fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers.

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance

The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller — It’s almost Valentine’s Day at Beechy’s Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)

Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman — When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig — On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig — Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig — When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte — Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Contemporary Romance

Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher — Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Historical

Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy — Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)

The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller — Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where—or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)

Child of Light by Annette O’Hare — While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret’s prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson — Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid–Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)

Historical Romance

The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse — Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women’s rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson — When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt — Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

What’s on your to-read pile this month?