Category: #ThrowbackThursday

#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:

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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!

 

#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:

Quote from No One's Bride: "I'm sorry. I don't know what happened." That was the traditional opening line after a feigned swoon, and she didn't see any need to change it now.

#Throwback Thursday | No One’s Bride by Nerys Leigh

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of No One’s Bride by Nerys Leigh, the first in the unique Escape to the West series. This review originally appeared at Australasian Christian Writers.

Orphan Amy Watts lies when she agrees to become a mail order bride.

She has no intention of marrying Adam Emerson, the bank and post office clerk from a tiny town in Northern California. She only knows she wants to go to San Francisco—as far away as possible from her rich, influential and lecherous New York employer.

Adam has prayed for God to bring him a wife, and he is overjoyed at his first sight of Amy—she is beautiful. He’s also pleased to find out she’s a likeable person—until she confesses that she doesn’t want to marry him. But she’s going to do the honourable thing and stay in town long enough to pay him back the money he spent in bringing her here.

While Amy was a great character and I fully understood her motive for her inappropriate behaviour, it was Adam who caught my attention. He’s the perfect gentleman, the perfect romance hero (if he has a fault, it is perhaps that he has no faults. Hey, it’s 1870 and the guy can cook and do laundry!).

I very much liked the Christian content.

Adam and Amy each had a strong Christian faith, and this showed consistently throughout the book. I thought the writing was strong, especially for a debut author, and I especially liked the humour sprinkled throughout.

Amy was one of five mail order brides delivered to the tiny town of Green Hill Creek, and I think the remaining novels in the Escape to the West series will be the stories of the other four women.

Overall, No One’s Bride is an excellent debut novel, and I’m now looking forward to the next book in the series—Sara’s story. And waiting for Jo’s story because of what wasn’t said …

Recommended for fans of Christian historical romance from authors such as Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox, Jen Turano and Lucy Thompson.

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

About Nerys Leigh

Nerys LeighNerys 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.

You can find Nerys Leigh online relaxing and generally enjoying the view at:

 Website | Facebook

About No One’s Bride

Small town romance meets the Wild West!

The last thing Amy wants is a husband, but her only hope of escape from a dangerous situation is to answer postmaster Adam Emerson’s advertisement for a mail order bride.

When her desperate plan to trick Adam into paying her way across the country goes awry, her guilty conscience compels her to stay in the small Californian town of Green Hill Creek to find a way to repay him the cost of the train fare before she moves on. The trouble is, she’s completely unprepared for the effect of his kindness, charm, wit, and ridiculously blue eyes.

As her dream of a new life in San Francisco falters and her past catches up with her, can Amy hold onto the one thing she never thought she’d want but now can’t bear to lose?

Five mail order brides, one small Californian town, a lot of romance! The Escape to the West series tells the stories of five young women in 1870 who travel across the country to find love. These uplifting Christian historical romances will transport you to a time of courageous women longing for a better life and the strong men dedicated to winning their hearts. Each novel can be read on its own or as part of the series.

You can find No One’s Bride online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to No One’s Bride below:

#ThrowbackThursday | Integrate by Adele Jones

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing by review of Integrate, the first book in a near-future YA science trilogy from Australian author Adele Jones. This review first appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads.

Fast-paced YA Suspense with a GMO twist

Blaine Colton isn’t the average seventeen-year-old boy. He spent the first fourteen years of his life in a wheelchair until Professor Ramer’s experimental gene therapy turned him into a normal Australian teen. But now he’s back at the Advance Research Institute, under the care of Dr Melissa Hartfield, and something’s not quite right …

Blaine isn’t sure what’s happening, but he knows he needs to escape the Institute, and keep out of the clutches of Dr Hartfield and her cronies. And he needs to get more pills, so he seeks help from his former next-door neighbour, Sophie Faraday. But Dr Hartfield has already contacted Sophie, who now doesn’t know who’s telling the truth: Blaine, or the doctor?

Integrate is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in Brisbane, Australia. The plot is excellent, with enough science to keep it interesting, but not so much that it dissolves into technobabble. I liked the way all the little bits tied up at the end, yet still leaves room for a sequel (I’d like to see more of Blaine, Sophie and Jett).

Blaine is mature for his age, having come through the disabilities he faced in childhood with a strong sense of self, and no desire to return to the person he used to be. He’s fighting for his life in a different way, and has to persuade Sophie and others that he’s not violent or deranged—a difficult task when he’s only partway through his cure and his physical health is failing.

The other characters are good as well. They all feel like real people, with a mixture of good and bad points. They make mistakes, judge things incorrectly, and get frustrating. Annoying, but just like real people in real life. All in all, Integrate is a good read. Recommended.

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

About Adele Jones

Author Photo - Adele Jones

I’m an Australian author who writes young adult and historical novels, poetry and short fiction, and inspirational non-fiction works. My first YA techno-thriller novel ‘Integrate’ was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript.

My writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, spirituality, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, drawing on inspiration from my family, faith, friends, music and science.

Find Adele Jones online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Integrate

Blaine Colton had been handed a genetic death sentence until revolutionary gene therapy changed his life. Living a relatively normal existence, he is called to an unscheduled post-treatment appointment just weeks before his eighteenth birthday.

Informed that his life saving procedure was never approved, he is held against his will for his status as an apparent illegal GMO. Subjected to constant testing, refused contact with his parents and deprived of life sustaining medication, Blaine begins to suspect that something is wrong. Wanting answers, he escapes the Institute and ambitious Chief Scientist, Dr Melissa Hartfield.

Now a fugitive with a failing body, Blaine must find Professor Ramer, the developer of his therapy. But the Professor has vanished and time is running out. Fast.

You can find Integrate online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

I wasn't always a liar ...

#ThrowbackThursday | Perennials by Julie Cantrell

It’s #Throwback Thursday. Today I’m bringing you my review of Perennials, by award-winning author Julie Cantrell. This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers. Click here to check out the discussion.

Perennials: Inspirational Women’s Fiction for the Eat, Pray, Love Generation

PerennialsI don’t usually read reviews before reading a book I’ve asked to review, because I don’t want to be influenced (in contrast, I do read reviews before buying a book. Call me weird, but I find it easier to ignore a book’s faults if I know them before I start reading page one).

Anyway, if the review I read was accurate, this book had a lot of faults. The chief fault appeared to be that it was from a Christian publisher, yet was not Christian fiction.

Well, sold.

Okay, not sold. But I requested a review copy from NetGalley, because I wanted to find out for myself.

The writing was brilliant.

Julie Cantrell has a gift with words, with emotion. The plot was generally strong. I thought the plot device used to get Eva home to her family was contrived almost to the point of being unbelievable, but the writing was outstanding and the characterisation was solid enough that I was prepared to let a less-than-believable plot point pass.

Perennials is the story of a middle-aged professional woman who learns the hard way success isn’t defined by your salary or your job title (or your ability to life a Pinterest-worthy life), but by being true to yourself. She also learns that we can’t judge and resent others for their Pinterest-perfect lives, because we don’t know what they’re hiding.

These are powerful lessons.

Eva, the main character, wasn’t the most likeable person to begin with. She has a chip on her shoulder the size of a small planet, and even at forty-five years of age, it’s never occurred to her that her outlook on life and on her family (especially on her family) is anything but right. Being home again forces her to review and rethink some of her perceptions. The more I saw of her in her home town, the more I was able to sympathise and empathise with her situation.

Overall, I’d classify this as an inspirational women’s fiction version of Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh. Perennials definitely doesn’t fit in the narrow echo chamber of Christian fiction. If it was a romance, I’d say it was angling for a RITA nomination for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. It had plenty of spiritual elements—but most of them weren’t Christian:

Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you.
The ancestors have a lot to teach us.
Kachina Woman, Hera, Kuan Yin, Mary. Whoever she is, she is timeless and omnipotent, representing all things feminine and calming and wise.

Definitely not Christian—and that last quote is in direct contradiction to the Gospel of John, which makes clear that Jesus is the way. Not one of many. Yet there were also lines like this:

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

And:

Jesus experienced the worst. Betrayed by someone he trusted, destroyed by the people he loved. Public shame, humiliation … but despite it all, he chose to love.

No, Perennials doesn’t fit into the shiny bucket that is CBA fiction.

If you’re looking for a typical Christian fiction novel, then I wouldn’t recommend Perennials. But if you’re looking for something that doesn’t fit the Christian norm—perhaps as a gift for a non-Christian friend who appreciates good writing and enjoys books such as Eat, Pray, Love—then Perennials may be a good option.

Perhaps Perennials does present Jesus as an option to be considered rather than as the answer. But in doing that, it may attract readers who wouldn’t ever pick up a ‘Christian’ novel. And if those readers are true to themselves, they will consider Jesus. And I believe we need more books written by Christians for a general market audience, books that address real-world problems and present Jesus as an option.

As Perennials does.

What do you think?

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

About Julie Cantrell

Julie CantrellNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell is known for writing inspirational novels that explore the hard truths women typically keep secret. While she delves into emotional issues, she does so with a compassionate and open heart, always bringing readers through to a hopeful path for peace, empathy, and healing.

A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She also received the 2016 Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship at Rivendell Writer’s Colony, which is awarded to a writer who encourages spiritual growth, healing, and care through his or her work.

Julie and her two children now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they spent six years operating Valley House Farm, a sustainable organic farmstead, before moving into a new adventure.

You can find Julie Cantrell online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Perennials

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.
Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.
In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

You can find Perennials online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Dressed for Death: I’m not wise enough to see things as God sees them, and neither are you. But I don’t think we’re responsible for outcomes, just for doing what we’re called to do.

#ThrowbackThursday | Dressed for Death by Juliana Deering

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering, which originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

Another Excellent Drew Fathering Mystery!

Dressed for Death is the fourth book in Juliana Deering’s Drew Fathering Mysteries, following Rules of Murder, Death by the Book, and Murder at the Mikado. Yes, Drew is turning into a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot or Lord Peter Wimsey, with dead bodies turning up wherever he goes.

In Dressed for DeathDrew, his new wife Madeline, and best friend Nick attend a Regency-era house party at the home of his old school friend, Talbot Cummins. It sounds like a fun party: everyone has  to wear Regency-era fashions and enjoy Regency pursuits, including learning the country dances of the time. Everyone (well, almost everyone) is having a lovely time when someone turns up dead. And then another someone . . .

Dressed for Death is a murder mystery, so naturally (!) I was waiting for a dead body, a crime for Drew, Nick and Madeline to solve. This took rather longer than I’d expected, so as a result, I found the first quarter of the book rather slow. Sure, it did a good job of introducing us to all the characters—the possible victims as well as the possible evildoers—and while it seeded all the necessary information, I certainly didn’t work out whodunit and how until the big reveal  at the end.

The writing was excellent. I particularly liked lines such as:

Don’ t let anyone despise the gifts you’ve been given, and don’t you do so, either. They may not fit anyone else’s idea of a calling, but the world has all sorts of needs, and God has provided for each of them to be met, if we all do our part. It would be a shame if your part were undone.

Drew did well to get himself such a wise wife!

Deering has the right tone for a 1930’s murder mystery, and her writing is reminiscent of Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer (her mysteries, not her romances). However, it was less of a fun romp than some of her earlier books, perhaps because the body count made it a little sadder. Although poignant, the plot and characterization were excellent, and Dressed for Death is a definite must-read for mystery fans.

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

About Julianna Deering

Author Photo: Julianna Deering

Julianna Deering (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013).

Find Julianna Deering online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Dressed for Death (Drew Fathering #4)

This Traditional British Cozy Mystery Gets a Regency Twist

Drew and Madeline Farthering celebrate their six-month anniversary by attending a fancy Regency era costume party. Drew is glad to see Talbot Cummins, an Oxford classmate, and his fiancée, Alice Henley, though many present seem worried about the couple. Everyone’s concerns are realized when, at the concluding grand ball, Alice dies of an overdose of cocaine. Tal refuses to believe she took the stuff intentionally, and Drew is determined to find out if her death was an accident or murder.

Drew is shocked and disillusioned when the police arrest Tal’s father and reveal that the man has been smuggling drugs into the country for the past twenty years. Reeling from the death of his fiancée and the revelation about his father, Tal begs Drew to find out what’s going on. Drew, now questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, does so reluctantly, not ready for the secrets he’s about to uncover–or the danger he’ll bring down on everyone he holds dear.

You can find Dressed for Death online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Dressed for Death below:

Quote from A Heart Most Certain: One day society will not condemn a man or woman for a past choice and instead discern and judge the heart.

#ThrowbackThursday | A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears, first in the Teaville Moral Society series. Melissa has just released the first book in her new series, Romancing the Bride, and I’ll be highlighting that tomorrow in my First Line Friday post.

A Heart Most Certain shows Melissa Jagears to be a fresh voice in historical romance (even if the title does sound more Siri Mitchell).

Everything about A Heart Most Certain impressed me.

The writing was excellent, there was a clear and challenging Christian message, the plot was solid with plenty of twists and turns, and just enough predictability (hey, this is romance! There are some aspects we want to be predictable).

And both lead characters were excellent—an intelligent heroine who wasn’t afraid to ask hard questions, and a truly heroic hero (okay, he might have been a bit too perfect. But that’s the closest I can get to a criticism about A Heart Most Certain).

Lydia and Nicholas are both excellent characters—complete opposites, so of course we know they are both going to have to change their views. The setting was portrayed well, both in terms of time and place—and reinforced why I’m glad I live now, not then. It’s also an example of how historical fiction can shine a light into some of our more modern social problems. We can be thankful for the truth of Nicolas’s words in the quote above.

We might not treat “sinners” in the same judgmental way as Mrs Light’s Teaville Ladies Moral Society does, but we still have to guard against turning our faith into a religion of rules. Melissa Jagears is to be commended for not shying away from difficult subjects like prostitution, but showing a proper Christian response to the problem.

Recommended for fans of Francine Rivers, Karen Witemeyer, and Dawn Crandall.

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

About Melissa Jagears

Author Photo: Melissa JagearsI stay home with my kids, and though that’s PLENTY to do, I added homeschooling and writing to my schedule too!

My husband and I have been married since 2001 and have a daughter and two sons. I’m a former high school ESL teacher and an avid book reader. If you don’t believe me, come peruse the 16 bookshelves in my house. The only reason I don’t have more is because my husband is convinced he can hear the house’s foundation groaning.

He only claims one of those bookshelves which is full of how-to manuals because he loves blacksmithing, knife smithing, traditional archery, hunting, etc. Generally whatever a mountain man does, he’s done or wants to do. He and his one lonely bookshelf often come in handy for research.

My daughter is also an avid reader who owns the book shelf chair, is a lover of famous art, and wants to be a fashion designer. My middle son builds and creates all day long, his creations are mostly knives and swords since he wants to be a knifesmith like his daddy. And my youngest is the quietest of the bunch. At the moment, he self-identifies as a cat. A black one. He answers in meows.

A pronunciation lesson for the curious: Jagears sounds like /Jag – ers/, like Mick Jagger with an S.

You can find Melissa Jagears online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Heart Most Certain

A Fresh Voice in Historical Romance!

Lydia King knows what it’s like to be in need, so when she joins the Teaville Moral Society, she genuinely hopes to help the town’s poor. But with her father’s debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poor house herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the moral society’s president is her suitor’s mother. Her first task as a moral society member–to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town–should be easy . . . except he flat-out refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresee the harrowing complications that will arise from working together. When town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs–and hearts–truly align.

You can find A Heart Most Certain online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Heart Most Certain below:

And click here to check out A Heart Most Certain and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

Quote from Miss Serena's Secret by Carolyn Miller

#Throwback Thursday | Book Review | Miss Serena’s Secret by Carolyn Miller

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Miss Serena’s Secret, the second book in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series by Carolyn Miller. The final book in the trilogy, The Making of Mrs Hale, is due out this month, and I definitely want to read it!

This review previously appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers.

The title is a little misleading.

Miss Serena actually has several secrets. These combine to persuade her that she will never marry. She will especially not marry a man like her father, a gambler who lost their fortune at the tables. So she is not impressed when she meets gambler and womaniser Lord Henry Carmichael.

This is a sweet and slow love story. It’s not the romance novel where we meet the hero and heroine and wham bam they’re together. Instead, both characters have plenty of time to get to know each other and to change—to mature into people who are able to fall in love and contemplate marriage.

Miss Serena is an artist, and her art plays a key part in the novel. I’m no painter, but I loved the painting references—the colours, the techniques, and the little upset at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

Regency romance has had a resurgence of popularity in recent years, but many of the general market novels have a lot of sex and not much Christian faith—which seems at odds with the period. So it’s good to see more Regency romance coming out of the Christian market, from authors such as Julie Klaassen, Kristi Ann Hunter, and now Carolyn Miller.

Miss Serena’s Secret is Carolyn Miller’s fifth novel, and the second in her Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. If you’ve read the others, you’ll enjoy catching up with some of the characters from the previous stories. If you haven’t, don’t worry: this is a standalone novel.

Recommended for Regency romance fans.

Thanks to Kregel Publications and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Carolyn Miller

Carolyn MillerCarolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. She is married, with four gorgeous children, who all love to read (and write!).

A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s novels have won a number of Romance Writers of American (RWA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. Her favourite authors are classics like Jane Austen (of course!), Georgette Heyer, and Agatha Christie, but she also enjoys contemporary authors like Susan May Warren and Becky Wade.

Her stories are fun and witty, yet also deal with real issues, such as dealing with forgiveness, the nature of really loving versus ‘true love’, and other challenges we all face at different times.

Find Carolyn Miller online at:

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About Miss Serena’s Secret

How can a wounded young woman ever trust a too-flirtatious earl with her heart?

With devastating scars in her past, Serena Winthrop is sure no man can be trusted—especially not a man like the too-smooth Viscount Carmichael. His reputation as a flirt and a gambler is everything she despises. And the young artist makes sure that this disreputable heir to an earldom knows of her deep disapproval whenever they encounter one another.

Henry, Lord Carmichael, is perfectly aware of his charms. He’s gambled with plenty of ladies’ hearts as easily as he has with their husbands’ money. But lately he’s wondered if there’s more to life—and if his actions might prove unworthy of an admirable wife such as his friends have found.

When Serena’s guardian asks his best friend to protect his young ward, Henry promises to be on his best behavior and not woo her. But the more he learns of her, the more he realizes she might be his best reason for changing his character.

Then the lady’s art leads her to London infamy. Now Henry must choose between the life mapped out for him as the earl apparent and the love of his life. And Serena’s secret may mean the end of his titled family line.

You can find Miss Serena’s Secret online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Miss Serena’s Secret below:

And you can click here to find Miss Serena’s Secret and other great Christian fiction recommendations in my Amazon store!

Just Look Up

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh. This was the first Courtney Walsh novel I read, but I think I’ve gone on to read all the rest! In fact, you can click here to read my review of Just Let Go.

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

My Review

I requested a review copy of Just Look Up because I’d heard so many good things about it. Surely it couldn’t possibly measure up?

It did.

Lane is an interior designer up for a big promotion at work when her mother calls to say her brother is on life support following a motorcycle accident. She returns home, but is immediately thrown into conflict with everyone in her family (except perhaps her father, who only gets about two lines in the whole novel). The reasons behind this conflict are gradually revealed as the novel progresses

Ryan was also in the motorcycle accident, but escaped with minor injuries. He’s from a bad background, but he’s made something of himself—with the help of the Kelley family, who were surrogate parents for him and his sister throughout his teenage years. He’s always had feelings for Lane, but never felt good enough for her. Now he meets the adult Lane, he realises she has issues, and he might be able to help.

Just Look Up was a great title that worked on many levels.

There was the obvious, that we have to look up to see the world around us, to live. Lane spent much of time looking down at her phone that she missed what was going on around her. And the more subtle, the way Lane consciously or subconsciously looked down on herself.

It seemed to me that looking down was a habit formed early in her teenage years, where she looked down because of her low self-esteem. I could relate to this—and I suspect many grown women can, especially those of us who were bookish teenagers who were never part of the ‘cool’ crowd.

To me, Just Look Up showed the lie that many of us believe in our teenage years.

The lie that we don’t fit in because aren’t good enough. Lane was different to the others in her family—lactose intolerant in a family that made and sold cheese for a living, unattractive and unpopular (or so she thought) in a family that were attractive and popular.

What especially hurt for Lane was that her family perpetuated the lie through their ‘harmless’ name calling (‘Pudge’ is not term of endearment. Ever). The result, I think, was a teenager and adult who never understood how precious she was to God, because she never felt she was precious to her family.

Overall, Just Look Up is a story about how achieving our dreams might not be everything we thought it might be, but the answer might have been in front of us all along.

Recommended.

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

 

About the Author

Courtney WalshCourtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Change of Heart is her fifth novel and is set in the same town as Paper Hearts. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two additional books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing and visual arts studio. They have three children.

Find Courtney Walsh online at …

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Click below to buy Just Look Up:

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You can read the introduction to Just Look Up below:

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#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Kept by Sally Bradley

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Kept, the debut novel from Sally Bradley.

I first saw Kept reviewed by Rel Mollet of Relz Reviews. Like me, Rel is tired of reading Christian novels which have the same feel as every other Christian novel. We’re looking for something real, something different, but something which still affirms our Christian faith. Rel raved about Kept, and while I bought it immediately, it’s taken me a while to get around to reading it. I kept (ha ha) hearing good things about it from people whose opinions I respected, and I started to wonder … could it really be that good? Or was I setting myself up for disappointment?

Well, it really is that good.

Kept isn’t perfect. There was one amusing typo (a segue is a change of topic in conversation; the two-wheeled ride-on has the same pronunciation, but it’s a Segway. Silly name, if you ask me). There was one scene from the point of view of a minor character that didn’t seem to add anything to the plot (and in hindsight, could have been eliminated), and there were a couple of minor plot points that didn’t make sense (maybe they’ll make more sense on the re-read). And there were times when I would have liked to better understand what was going on inside Dillan’s head. He plain didn’t make sense at times. Of course, he’s a man, so that could explain things.

Those details aside, Kept clocks up a number of achievements that rate highly with me.

Sally Bradley has managed something completely original—a story about a kept woman, a euphemism for a high-class prostitute—yet it’s unashamedly a Christian novel, a story of forgiveness and redemption that reminded me of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The writing is excellent, and manages to cover some gritty ground without ever spelling out the ugly details.

Sally Bradley has created a cast of likeable characters who feel true to live, even in their failings. Dillan, at “six foot thirteen”, is a complete klutz, which perhaps forces him to cultivate a friendship with Miska even when he’d rather avoid her. His brother, Garrett, is a loveable lawyer with a past he’s still trying to get over.

Miska is complex.

At first she comes across as the sweet girl-next-door—until we begin to get to know a bit more about her, and realise she’s caught up in the oldest profession, and telling herself the biggest lie: that he’ll leave his wife for her. One day. It’s never exactly explained how she became a kept woman, but we see enough of her background to realise it’s a logical progression, and that she feels no qualms for taking the men in her life for everything she can get. After all, that’s all men have ever done to her.

Miska’s scenes showed how good the writing was, because I was completely engaged in her character. She’s an intelligent woman who does dumb, DUMB, things when it comes to me, and there were times I wanted to give her a good shake. Dillan and Garrett were similar, and even at the end I was thinking that Dillan needs to get over himself, while Garrett just needs to get his head examined. They were frustrating, but in a good way—like a teenage daughter.

Their actions might be annoying, but you love them anyway.

Yes, that pretty much sums up Kept. Recommended for those who want something real in their Christian fiction.

About Sally Bradley

Author Photo Sally Bradley

Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope.

A Chicagoan since age five, Sally has been fascinated by all things Chicago (except for the crime, politics, and traffic) for almost as long. She now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they get back to Chicago from time to time for important things, like good pizza and a White Sox game.

A freelance fiction editor and former president of her local writing chapter, Sally has won a handful of awards for Kept and another work-in-progress.

You can find Sally Bradley online at:

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About Kept

Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.

Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.

When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.

You can find Kept online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Kept below:

Click here to find Kept and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!