From Out of the Cages by Penny Jaye: When was the last time she touched the sunlight?

Book Review | Out of the Cages by Penny Jaye

Twelve-year-old Meena’s mother is dead, her father is a drunk, and there is no money for necessities like food, clothing, or a roof over the tin shack she calls home. So when a handsome boy on a motorbike tells her he can get her a job as a waitress in a hotel, she’s desperate enough to believe him … and to persuade her best friend to come as well.

The story is gold in two timelines: the present, which starts shortly before Meena is rescued from the brothel, and the past, which shows how she got there. The past story is especially difficult to read, as we know Meena’s future. I found myself hoping against hope that the book will turn into a choose-your-own-adventure so Meena and Putali could be saved from the hell awaiting them (it doesn’t, and they aren’t).

The present timeline shows just how difficult rehabilitation is.

It’s not that the girls want to go back to sex work. It’s more that any self-respect or self-belief they might once have had has been lost to years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. It’s not easy to read, and it must have been even more difficult to research and write.

I initially put off reading Out of the Cages because of the subject matter.

Sex trafficking in Nepal and India isn’t a light read. Men stealing uneducated young girls—often relatives—from their homes with promises of good work in India, then selling them to “hotels” where they have to work to pay off their “debt”.

I was concerned the content might be too explicit, especially as it’s a young adult read. I need not have worried. Penny Jaye has done a fabulous job in writing Out of the Cages, in that she hasn’t shied away from the horror of sex trafficking, but nor has she gone into unnecessary lengths in detailing the physical horrors facing these girls.

Instead, she’s focused on the emotional trauma.

No, Out of the Cages wasn’t an easy or fun read. Yes, it was challenging and occasionally harrowing. But it is one of those stories that will stay in your mind long after you’ve finished reading it. As Penny Jaye says at the end:

Recommended. Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free ebook for review.

About Penny Jaye

Author photo of Penny Jaye aka Penny ReevePenny Jaye writes books for children and older readers. From YA novels to picture books, her books strive to find beauty, hope, strength and love even in the toughest of settings.

Although ‘Out of the Cages’ is her first novel for young adults, Penny is an experienced and award winning author with more than 20 books published under her other author name, Penny Reeve.

She is currently living, and writing, in western Sydney, Australia.

Find Penny Jaye (aka Penny Reeve) online at:

Website | Facebook

About Out of the Cages

Fifteen-year-old Meena has given up all hope of ever escaping the brothel.

For three years she’s locked away her memories – of home, of her childhood friend, of what it means to hope. But when a botched police raid offers her a chance at freedom, Meena must face the truth about her past.

As she attempts to piece her life back together, the memories she has buried deep inside begin to resurface. Meena realises escaping the brothel is only the beginning of what it means to be free.

Can she face the truth in her memories? Can she return to Nepal if it means returning alone? Or will she face the red-light district one last time?

Find Out of the Cages online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Out of the Cages below:

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 80 | When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

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 When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin:

First Line from When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin: Shane Riley yanked his wet Levis out of a grimy washing machine, one of twenty or so in a Laundromat straight out of 1992.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About When He Found Me

Love Discovered . . . Hope Renewed

Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom battling the virus that causes cervical cancer.

MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete—no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell. Even more complicated, she discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister—a wounded woman who wants nothing to do with the perfect brother who scorned her.

You can find When He Found Me online at:

Amazon  US| Amazon AU | Goodreads

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!

Book Review | The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Francine Rivers is, in my opinion, the queen of Christian fiction. She’s written Biblical fiction (Sons of Encouragement), biblical retellings (Redeeming Love), historical fiction (The Mark of the Lion trilogy), contemporary fiction (Leota’s Garden, When the Shofar Blew). She’s even written a dual timeline story (The Scarlett Thread).

She’s written some of my favourite Christian fiction, and The Masterpiece is a worthy addition to that shelf.

Roman Velasco is a rich young artist who’s hiding secrets. His messed-up past. His dissatisfaction with his work. The fact he’s also a graffiti artist, decorating (or defacing) prominent Los Angeles buildings. It’s his way of dealing with his past. Roman is a character with issues stemming back decades.

Grace Moore is a divorced single mother who’s broke but needs a job so she can justify keeping the son she almost gave up for adoption. Working for Roman might be her way out. Or not …

The Masterpiece doesn’t shy away from the hard issues of modern life.

Drink. Drugs. Promiscuity. Temptation. Godlessness … but also godliness. I’m sure Grace’s name is no coincidence.

The writing is excellent, as I expected. The characters are layered and complex—just like with real people, it takes a long time to truly know them. I was especially impressed by the way the story switched between the present and past, taking us back to show us the events that turned Roman and Grace into the adults they’ve become. It could have been confusing, but it wasn’t.

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

About Francine Rivers

Francine RiversNew York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America’s coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Find Francine Rivers online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About The Masterpiece

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.

Find The Masterpiece online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Masterpiece below:

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

Do you read "clean reads"? How do you define clean reads?

Bookish Question #95 | Do you read “clean reads”?

Let’s reverse the questions.

I see clean reads as Christian fiction without the Christian world view. Both clean reads and Christian fiction avoid nudity, sexual content, and bad language. Most also avoid violence. But Christian fiction has a Christian thread of some kind: Christian characters or Christian themes. Clean reads doesn’t.

Do I read clean reads?

Yes. Some of it is marketed as clean reads (Amazon has a clean and wholesome category). Some of it is marketed as Christian fiction, but has little or no Christian content. I’m finding an increasing number of novels from the big-name Christian publishers fall into this category, and it’s a trend I have mixed feelings about.

On one hand, I feel slightly disappointed when I pick up a novel expecting it to be Christian fiction, but find it’s “Christian lite”. On the other hand, I believe Christian authors and publishers need to consider how we reach the unchurched rather than preaching to the choir. Non-Christians aren’t shopping in Christian bookstores. They don’t visit the faith or inspirational section of major book chains. So how are we going to reach them?

Here’s an example.

Last year I read a review of The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale, published by Thomas Nelson. The review criticised the novel for not being sufficiently “Christian”. But one of the commenters said that same “not Christian” novel led her to Christ.

Wow.

She said her (Christian) neighbour loaned her the book, but she’d never have read it if it had been obviously Christian fiction.

That example shows me the importance of Christians writing clean reads—novels that often reflect Christian values even if there is no mention of God or Jesus or the Christian faith.

Maybe I should be reading more “clean reads”. What about you? Do you read clean reads? Can you recommend some good authors?

The Songbird and the Spy by J'nell Ciesielski

Book Review | The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski

Claire Baudin is an American music student trapped in World War II France during the German occupation. Her family have disappeared, and she’s now working as a barmaid and pianist in a small town (very ‘Allo ‘Allo, for those of you who remember the 1980’s TV series). All she knows is she needs to hide the fact she’s American, and try and find her way to neutral territory so she can return to America.

Michael Reiner is a German/Irish RAF officer now working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), now serving undercover in occupied France, posing as the Nazi captain of a communications station. Michael knows there is something different about Claire, but doesn’t know what. And he has more important things to worry about, like Isla, the SS agent sent to inspect his station.

I read and enjoyed J’nel Ciesielski’s debut novel, Among the Poppies.

It was set in World War I England and France, and impressed me with the plot, the characters, the Christian themes, and the underlying research. The Songbird and the Spy has many of the same qualities.

However, there were also a couple of weaker areas.

I was never sure why Michael joined the Royal Air Force, given the Irish were neutral in World War II and he was born in Germany. My first thought was that he was from Northern Ireland, but we later find out he’s from Wicklow, in neutral Eire (and was there really an American Army Air Force Base there? That doesn’t sound right).

I also had questions Michael and Claire’s romantic relationship. I could understand why he fell for her, and he was an honourable man, an officer and a gentleman. But I didn’t see Claire developing feelings for Michael. It felt like she went from not liking him to loving him with no real journey. This is romance, and we read for the journey.

The result was a novel which never fully engaged me on an emotional level.

However, there were many strengths in the overall story, and the characters. The Songbird and the Spy is a solid World War II novel with some great research.

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

About J’nell Ciesielski

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days creating heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

You can find J’nell Ciesielski online at:

Website

About The Songbird and the Spy

As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy.

Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn’t who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his
attraction to the songbird, he’s determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives, hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael’s hand: complete the mission or save Claire.

As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?

You can find The Songbird and the Spy online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 79 | Returning Home by Toni Shiloh

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 Returning Home by Toni Shiloh:

First line from Returning Home by Toni Shiloh: Jo Ellen Baker slammed the tailgate of her pickup shut. Another successful job completed.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Returning Home

Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings.

Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker.

Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from?

You can find Returning Home online at

Amazon  US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

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!

Quote from The Saturday Night Supper Club

#ThrowbackThursday | The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano. The sequel, Brunch at the Bittersweet Cafe, releases this week, and I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

Wonderful!

If you ask readers what plot points or ideas they don’t like in novels, there is always one that comes up: the impossibly good-looking hero or heroine. Others dislike too-rich heroes. Or writers. Or all of the above. I confess: I’m one of them. I especially don’t like the impossibly handsome rich writer (except for Richard Castle, but we all know he’s a joke).

The Saturday Night Supper Club has all these things (except for Richard Castle.) Despite that, it’s a great read—almost perfect contemporary Christian romance. It’s also a lesson in the power of the media—especially social media—to work for good and for evil.

And the food … I wanted it all. Well, except the chard. And the fennel. It was a weed where I grew up, and we were all told not to eat it.

Anyway, about the book …

Rachel Bishop is the darling of the Denver casual fine dining scene until a misplaced comment to the wrong person goes viral. Writer Alex Kanin unintentionally started the whole media firestorm, but doesn’t realise the full extent of the repercussions until he tries to apologise to Rachel, and finds his article has cost Rachel her job.

Yes, he’s the impossibly handsome writer whose debut memoir jumped to the top of all the right bestseller lists. He’s also rich, thanks to a couple of timely investments, and grew up in a well-off immigrant family. In contrast, Rachel left home without graduating high school, and has risen to the top of her profession through hard work and determination.

The Saturday Night Supper Club is the story of how Alex and Rachel work together to try and resurrect her career.

It’s a romance, so you know how that goes. It also has a solid Christian thread, in that both Rachel and Alex are Christians, and each has lessons to learn about the nature of God. But it’s not preachy, which is great.

Overall, The Saturday Night Supper Club is a great contemporary Christian romance, with wonderful characters, and wonderful food. I do hope there are a couple of sequels in the works!

Thanks to Tyndale Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Carla Laureano

Carla LaureanoCarla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

You can find Carla Laureano online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About The Saturday Night Supper Club

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

You can find The Saturday Night Supper Club online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to The Saturday Night Supper Club Below:

Click here to check out The Saturday Night Supper Club and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

New Releases in Christian Ficiton via ACFW Fiction Finder

New Releases in Christian Fiction for February 2019

It’s February, and today I’m sharing the new releases from members of American Christian Fiction Writers.

If you’re a Christian fiction writer and haven’t joined ACFW … you should! Click here to find out more. And in case you were wondering, it’s not just Americans. There is a Beyond the Borders chapter for those of us who live outside the US.

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

Amish Romance

Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance

Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

I love the title and cover of this one!

Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

I’ll be reviewing One Think I Know at Australasian Christian Writers in a few weeks.

Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Romance

A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

A Love Most Worthy is a fun historical romance. Click here to read my review.

When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle GriepThe Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Mystery

The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)

Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)

The Sleuth’s Dilemma by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A high school English teacher’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the object of someone’s anger. (Romantic Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense

Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)

Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)

Speculative

The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction

A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Young Adult

You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Lots of great fiction here! What’s on your to-read pile for February?

Which author would you like to have coffee with?

Bookish Question #94 | Which author would you like to have coffee with?

All of them? Is that a legitimate answer?

I have met a few authors already. I went to Wellington to visit my parents not long after Close to You released, and Kara Isaac was kind enough to meet a groupie reviewer for coffee so I could get my book autographed.

Candace Calvert called into my home port on her New Zealand cruise two years ago. Ellie Whyte (from Christian fiction site Soul Inspirationz) and Angela Bycroft drove up, and we all had coffee and a chat with Candace after she came back from her tour to Hobbiton.

I’ve also been able to take Australian writers Josephine-Anne Griffiths and Raylene Purtill for coffee (but didn’t get photo evidence).

Who else would I like to have coffee with? The obvious answer is Francine Rivers, but I’d probably be too nervous to talk.

Which author would you like to have coffee with? Or is picking one just too hard? #BookishQuestion #BookChat Click To Tweet

What about you? Which author (or authors) would you like to have coffee with?

If you ever do a cruise around New Zealand and have a couple of hours to spare after your Hobbiton tour, let me know. I’d love to meet you for coffee.
Quote from A Love Most Worthy: You have value in God's sight, and He loves you beyond measure. You're His child. Never forget that.

Book Review | A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin

Hallie Russell has arrived in Nome, Alaska, in the middle of the 1900 gold rush, to replace her cousin as a mail order bride. She’s marrying Rance Preston, who needs a wife to take care of his two orphaned nephews while he manages the family store. Rance doesn’t want a wife, something Hallie finds difficult to accept … especially once she starts developing feelings for Rance.

Its an intriguing premise in a fascinating time and place.

Personally, I love the concept of Alaska but I don’t think I’d cope well with the endless cold, or the long weeks of winter darkness. So I have a lot of admiration for Hallie, who is prepared to give up life in Seattle to travel north to marry a man she’s never met and only knows through his letters to her cousin.

Rance is a honourable man, but he has trust issues. He’s determined this won’t be a proper marriage, and this is frustrating at first, until we (and Hallie) understand the reason behind his trust issues. Then it’s awkward, because we know a secret he doesn’t know …

A Love Most Worthy is a solid romance, recommended for those who enjoy mail order bride stories, and those looking for historical fiction in an Alaskan setting.

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

Quote from A Love Most Worthy: As they walked out of the church, he couldn't help but wonder if his new wife had hated lying to God as much as he had.

About Sandra Ardoin

Author Photo - Sandra Ardoin

As an author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

 

About A Love Most Worthy

She didn’t know which was colder, an Arctic winter or her new husband’s heart.

Hallie Russell believes life should be lived to the fullest. For that reason, she sails to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska to take her cousin’s place as the mail-order bride of a respected shopkeeper. But when her aloof husband’s wedding-night announcement rocks her plans for their marriage, Hallie sees her desire for a family to call her own vanish as quickly as the dreams of hopeful miners.

Tragedy led Rance Preston to regret his rowdy ways and open a general store for the miners in Nome. He’s content in his bachelorhood, but his two orphaned nephews deserve a proper and serious-minded mother. Duped once by a vivacious female, he’s determined to never again let his heart overrule his head…until the high spirits of his new bride threaten his resolve.

When a misunderstanding comes to light, will they allow the gale force winds of insecurity to destroy what they each need most?

Find A Love Most Worthy online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads