Category: #ThrowbackThursday

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:

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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!

#Throwback Thursday | A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter, which first appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers. The Christmas Heirloom novella collection started with a Haven Manor story, and the second official book in the series releases next week.
The Honourable Katherine FitzGilbert (I’m sorry, but the title is British, so it should be Honourable not Honorable) is now known as Mama Kit. She shepherds a group of not-quite-orphans in a forgotten house in the country. Her anonymity and remote seclusion are her weapons, the way she protects those in her charge.
Graham, Viscount Wharton, is bored … at least, until he notices a beautiful lady in green at a ball, a lady he then rescues before she disappears. He has no idea how to find her again, as he doesn’t even know her name. So he’s more than a little surprised to come across her in an out-of-the-way almost-abandoned manor house near the small market town of Marlborough.

As first meetings go, Kit and Graham’s first meeting is definitely memorable. So is their second.

But it’s when they meet in Marlborough that things get interesting. Graham is trying to locate his best friend’s missing sister, and he realises Kit must know where she is. But Kit has spent the last twelve years protecting women and hiding their illegitimate children, and she’s not about to stop for some random Lord who finds her secret home. No matter how attractive he is.
And the end … I’m not going to give spoilers, but I am already looking forward to the next book in the series.

A Defense of Honor is the first full-length novel in Kristi Ann Hunter’s new Haven Manor series, but it’s not the first book. There is a prequel novella, A Search for Refuge, which is available as a free ebook. It’s not necessary to read A Search for Refuge first, although I did, and I can assure you it will provide needed backstory to A Defense of Honor. It’s also an excellent story on its own.

Recommended for all Regency romance fans, because it’s close to perfect. And Kristi Ann Hunter is a wonderful witty writer.

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

About Kristi Ann Hunter

Author photo: Kristi Ann Hunter

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

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

You can find Kristi Ann Hunter online at:

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About A Defense of Honor

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

You can find A Defense of Honor online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Defense of Honor below:

Click here to find A Defense of Honor and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

#ThrowbackThursday | Death at Thornburn Hall by Julianna Deering

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Death at Thornburn Hall, which originally appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers.

Drew and Madeline Fathering are back. They are visiting Drew’s distant relatives, Lord and Lady Rainsby of Thornburn Hall, and planning to watch the Open at Muirfield, Edinburgh. They are not the only guests—there is also a married couple, and a Russian artiste seeking his muse.

Death at Thornburn Hall is the sixth book in the Drew Fathering series. Each book is a standalone murder mystery, which means you don’t have to read the earlier books first (although there are some plot threads that trail though the series). It follows the pattern established in the first book, Rules of Murder.

  • Drew arrives somewhere (Thornburn Hall, in this instance).
  • There is a death (sometimes there is more than one).
  • Drew investigates.
  • The local police force don’t appreciate Drew’s efforts.
  • Drew solves the crime with help from Nick and Madeline.

It has almost has a Scooby-Doo feel, albeit in a different time and place, and without the inevitable, “and I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.” Yes, there is humour in here:

There is plenty of witty banter between Drew, a member of the British aristocracy,  Madeline, his American wife, and Nick Dennison, Drew’s best friend and the son of the Fathering Hall butler (a friendship that continues to raise eyebrows).

And Carrie is back: Madeline’s American best friend, who Nick would like to persuade to stay forever … However, Carrie is not stupid. She’s realised the same thing the rest of us have realised:

Drew Fathering attracts murder. Murder attracts risk and danger.

But that’s the fun! Well, that’s the fun for me, as a reader. Carrie doesn’t see it quite the same way …

The writing is excellent, as usual. There is a cast of characters ranging from mysterious to suspicious. Some things are not what they seem, and there are plenty of genuine clues scattered among the red herrings. The ending is satisfying on several levels (well, satisfying to the core characters. The murderer, as usual, is less than satisfied with being caught by Drew).

I love this series because it is so British. It reminds me of driving through the English countryside, of camping in Scotland under the shadow of Ben Nevis, of taking the train to Edinburgh and disembarking at Waverley Station.

The Drew Fathering mysteries are an echo of England in days gone by.

They remind me of childhood favourites such as The Famous Five, and Swallows and Amazons, and of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer, and other 1930’s murder mystery writers.

But it’s also an echo of the England I lived in … because I’ve visited many of the places Drew and Madeline visit—Winchester, Beaulieu, Edinburgh. The beauty of England is that it is old, and a modern visitor can see many of the same sights as Drew and Madeline see.

Death at Thornburn Hall by Julianna Deering is an enjoyable murder mystery that's a reminder of England in days gone by #ChristianFiction #MustRead Click To Tweet

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Julianna Deering at her website, and

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:

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About Death at Thornburn Hall

The Fartherings’ Scottish Holiday Takes a Dark Turn

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing holiday, but he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his host at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before Drew can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious riding accident.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each might have had a motive to put Raisnby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

Find Death at Thornburn Hall online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Death at Thornburn Hall below:

#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:

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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:

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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!