Tag: 2018 Release

Quote from The Making of Mrs Hale by Carolyn Miller: Unforgiveness is a poison that shrivels the heart. It means a person cannot truly live in the present as they're always thinking about the past.

#ThrowbackThursday | The Making of Mrs Hale by Carolyn Miller

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of The Making of Mrs Hale, the final book in Carolyn Miller’s Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series (and my personal favourite in that series). Even better, the first book in her new series releases this week: A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh. I’m looking forward to reading it soon!
This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers.

We first met Julia Hale in Winning Miss Winthrop, when Julia ran away to Gretna Green to marry Thomas Hale in defiance of her family’s wishes.

But, as the old saying goes, “Marry in haste; repent at leisure.”

Julia is left destitute after her husband disappears. Six months later, she has sold everything she can and has no choice but to return to her friends and family in London and ask for help. They are pleased to welcome her home, believing she is either an abandoned wife or (possibly) a widow. They are less pleased when Thomas Hale returns home …

This means The Making of Mrs Hale follows one of the lesser-used romance tropes: a married couple falling in love. Or perhaps they are rediscovering their love, as Julia clearly still has feelings towards Thomas and vice versa. But Julia has to fight to keep what she has—a marriage to a man she loves.

There is also an exciting suspense thread. Thomas is concerned his ending up in a Spanish prison may not have been an accident. This threatens him, Julia, and their attempts to rebuild their relationship while surrounded by disapproving family members.

I have always been a big Regency romance fan, and Carolyn Miller has established herself as a leading author in the Christian Regency genre. Her research is spot on, yet never gets in the way of the story (I wish this was universal, but I find there are more authors who think they can write authentic Regency than actually can).

In contrast, Carolyn Miller consistently comes up with realistic yet detailed plots.

She fills her novels with realistic, complex characters facing issues that are true to the historic period, yet resonate with modern readers. Her novels are also definitely (and perhaps defiantly) Christian. They’re not just “clean”. Her characters are forced to evaluate themselves and their relationship with God, which is a refreshing contrast to a lot of the fiction being published by CBA publishers. Overall, I recommend Carolyn Miller and The Making of Miss Hale to anyone looking for genuine Christian Regency fiction.

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:

Website | Facebook | Google+

Goodreads| Pinterest | Twitter

About The Making of Mrs Hale

Marry in haste, repent in leisure—Mrs. Hale is about to find out how painful that repentance can truly be.

Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where—or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her. Especially now that she might be carrying a baby from her brief marriage.

Carolyn Miller’s clean and wholesome Regency romances continue with The Making of Mrs. Hale, following familiar characters as they learn how restoration can occur by finding hope and healing through a deep relationship with God. Full of rich historical details and witty banter, this series continues to draw in fans of Jane Austen, Sarah Ladd, and Julie Klassen.

You can find The Making of Mrs Hale online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Making of Mrs Hale below:

Click here to find The Making of Mrs Hale and other great books in my Amazon shop!

Quote from More than Gold: He couldn't be set in his ways yet. He was only thirty-four. He didn't plan on being set in his ways for at least another ten years.

Book Review | More Than Gold (Escape to the West #6) by Nerys Leigh

Gabriel Silversmith is the gold miner we first met in The Truth About Love, where his mail order bride left him for another man. Not that we blamed her—Gabriel is rough around the edges, to put it politely.

Now he’s married to Grace Myers, and married life isn’t exactly going as planned.

Grace has opinions of her own and isn’t afraid to express them. And she’s refined … perhaps too refined for a gold miner living in a one-room shack with no running water. Will Grace stay, or will this be another disaster?

Grace chose to become a mail order bride to get away from her jealous and selfish stepmother.

She’d thought anything would be better than marrying Felicia’s choice for her, the ancient Mr Howard who has hair growing out both ears. Gabriel is younger and probably more attractive … if she can get him to shave off that awful beard and stop chewing the tobacco that makes him smell like an outhouse.

I have to admit that while I wanted Gabriel to get his happy-ever-after after the way Jo treated him, I also see Grace’s point. She’s a lady, and Gabriel is certainly not a gentleman. Or an angel. And is he really a successful gold miner? If so, wouldn’t he live somewhere nicer that a one-room shack?
But Grace and Gabriel are both determined to make the marriage work, and that’s a great starting point for an enjoyable marriage of convenience story with a touch of suspense.

The first five books in Nerys Leigh’s Escape to the West series can be read in any order, because they all take place simultaneously. More than Gold is the exception—it’s best to read The Truth About Love first, because that covers some of Gabriel’s history, and shows why Grace arrives alone, after the other brides.

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 More Than Gold

Does “second time lucky” apply to mail order brides?

Let’s just say that Gabriel’s first attempt at marriage didn’t go well. But his new bride, Grace, she has curves he can’t keep his eyes from, and he’s determined this time will be different. Until he ends up sleeping in the barn.

Why are women so difficult to figure out? All he wants is someone to cook, clean, and warm his bed. But Grace wants more. She wants respect and someone to care about her. She wants love.

So now Gabriel has to learn how to court his wife just so he can sleep in his own bed again. As for falling in love, though, he just isn’t the type.

But he’s been wrong before.

You can find More Than Gold online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to More Than Gold below:

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

#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:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

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!

Book Review | Enchanting Nicholette

Nicholette Everstone was widowed on her wedding day, two years ago. Now she’s back in Boston, and has been introduced to Mr Cal Hawthorne. They have something in common—Cal has also lost a spouse, and now he’s interested in Nicholette.

This was not my favourite of the Everstone Chronicles. I think that’s because neither Nicholette nor Cal are Everstones, and while I know Nicholette has been mentioned in earlier books (and Cal probably has as well), I don’t remember either of them.

It’s a perfectly nice romance. The writing is solid, the sense of time and place is excellent, and I’m always a fan of novels written in the third person. But I didn’t engage with Nicholette the way I’ve engaged with some of the other Everstone brides.

This could be because she didn’t seem to have any major obstacles to overcome. She is well out of mourning for her husband, and there is nothing stopping her developing relationship with Cal Hawthorne—especially as her parents are in favour of her marrying again, as long as it is for love.

Overall, fans of the Everstone Chronicles will enjoy Enchanting Nicholette. It is a standalone romance, but there are a lot of characters from the previous novels, and the relationships can easily become confusing. I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t read the earlier books start the series at the beginning, with The Hesitant Heiress.

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

Quote from Mind Games by Nancy Mehl: Those who know God should be the ones to confront the darkness, to chase evil. We have the weapons. Those who don't know Him have only themselves.

Mind Games (Kaely Quinn Profiler #1) by Nancy Mehl

Jessica Oliphant is the daughter of a convicted serial killer. Now thirty-four, she’s FBI profiler Kaely Quinn, dedicated to solving murder cases, especially serial killer cases. Her unorthodox methods have earned her supporters, opponents, and the attention of the wrong kind of people—like a persistent journalist. And a serial killer.

Kaely becomes part of the next investigation when the journalist receives an anonymous poem signalling a series of murders, and ending in Kaely’s apparent suicide. The first body is discovered soon after the note is delivered. Now the race is on to identify the killer before Kaely—or anyone close to her—dies.

Mind Games is an apt title for a great thriller.

We know from the get-go that the killer is playing games with Kaely. The challenge is to work out who … I identified several possible suspects (one of whom was later murdered, so I was 100% wrong on that one!).

Kaely is an intriguing heroine. She’s intelligent and likeable, and with a strong Christian faith. But she’s also a damaged woman who suffers nightmares and finds it impossible to allow anyone to get close to her. She’s estranged from her family, both respected and reviled at work as an object of curious fascination.

The other characters are also strong—they have to be, because Kaley is such a strong character. Noah and Kaley had some interesting conversations about faith. Yes, Mind Games is definitely Christian fiction, as there is a strong faith thread and some insightful lines about the nature of faith, and the nature of evil.

This is the first of the Kaely Quinn Profiler series.

I’ve read several of Nancy Mehl’s earlier novels, but this is her best yet. I’ll be looking forward to reading more about Kaely, Noah, and their colleagues. Recommended for fans of Christian thrillers from authors like Terri Blackstock and Carrie Stuart Parks.

Mind Games by @NancyMehl is an excellent Christian thriller. Recommended! #ChristianFiction #MustRead Click To Tweet

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

About Nancy Mehl

Author photo: Nancy MehlNancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

About Mind Games

Kaely Quinn’s talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she’s demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, the reporter’s ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem’s predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else–including Kaely herself–is killed.

You can find Mind Games online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Mind Games below:

And don’t forget to click here and check out Mind Games and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store!

Quote from Justice by Emily Conrad: Whatever kind of dream or vision you saw, it didn't result from some accounting error in the miracle department of heaven.

Book Review | Justice by Emily Conrad

I almost didn’t choose to read Justice. I loved the evocative mid-twentieth century feeling portrayed by the cover—the retro streetlight, the 1950s hairdo and plain black dress, but I didn’t want to have to deal with how 1950s small-town America would deal with an unplanned pregnancy as the result of a rape.

Imagine my surprise when I realised the story is set in the present day, complete with wifi and mobile phones. That’s not bad. I prefer contemporary romance, and I figured that would put a more understanding spin on Brooklyn as she “wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means”.

But we didn’t see Brooklyn wrestle about the hard things: how to recover from rape, what her pregnancy means, or how to keep following the God who allowed all this. The challenges of her personal journey were glossed over to the point of almost being ignored. Sure, they would have been hard scenes to read and even harder to write, but I think Justice missed an opportunity to speak to Christian survivors of sexual assault (including #ChurchToo).

I guess the old saying is true: don’t judge a book by the cover.

This isn’t a novel set in 1950’s small-town America, and the female on the cover isn’t the main character. Sure, her background and actions provide the motivation, but this is not Brooklyn’s story (although she is a great example of forgiveness, and the power of God to heal).

Instead, we focus on Jake and his search for justice.

But he’s not looking for justice for Brooklyn. He owns a coffee shop and has inadvertently started a war with the bookshop owner across the road. Now Jake wants justice for what the bookshop owner has done. Priorities, please?

This really annoyed me until Brooklyn called him out on it and I realised the novel wasn’t about her at all. It was about Jake. I’m not sure if I’d have read Justice if I’d had realised it was a contemporary romance about a man whose inappropriate quest for justice (aka revenge) leads him away from all he holds dear.

I wasn’t sure what to think about Justice.

It was definitely Jake’s story, and that made it hard. I found myself liking Jake less and less as the novel progressed. The Jake of the early chapters was a strong Christian, encouraging those around him with lines like:

Quote from Justice by Emily Conrad: You've got to believe redemption is possible for you, too. You've been redeemed. Even from this.

 

But Jake’s need for revenge for Brooklyn and for the unknown troublemakers attacking his business gave me the impression of a small god, a god who needed Jake’s help to make things go right. Of course, Jake learns God is God, a big God who doesn’t need Jake’s help. But the business subplot detracted from the novel I was expecting—a novel about God’s everlasting love, His healing hand in times of personal difficulty.

Justice fails as a romance novel.

Why? Because Jake and Brooklyn’s relationship wasn’t the central focus. Nor is it a great example of women’s fiction, because it glosses over Brooklyn’s issues to focus on Jake and his #FirstWorldProblems. Some readers will be thankful Brooklyn’s rape and recovery are glossed over, while others will be frustrated by the lost opportunity to minister to women who have been through similar troubles.

Justice also didn’t work as a suspense novel, at least not for me. I felt Jake jumped to conclusions regarding the identity of the evildoer, and it seemed a little too convenient when he ended up being right. My issue was that the evildoer’s motives seemed weak. They were later explained, but I wasn’t convinced.

Having said that, Justice did work on many levels.

The characterisation was convincing, as evidenced by my dislike of Jake. The Christian elements were particularly strong—Justice is definitely Christian fiction, a strong examination of some of the big dichotomies of faith: justice vs. mercy, and faith vs. works.

It’s a novel about Christians who mess up, but who are forgiven and redeemed. It’s also a novel of miracles—one of the few I’ve read where the miracles were believable (I’ve blogged about the use of miracles in Christian fiction: click here to check out that post and let me know what you think!)

Overall, Justice was a solid first novel which may appeal to readers looking for something a little outside the Christian romance/women’s fiction norm. Just don’t expect a romance.

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

About Emily Conrad

Author Photo - Emily Conrad

Emily Conrad writes Christian fiction. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two 60+ pound rescue dogs. Some of her favorite things (other than Jesus and writing, of course) are coffee, walks, and road trips to the mountains.

Find Emily Conrad online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About Justice

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. As Brooklyn wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake, she can’t bring herself to tell him the truth.

To make matters worse, if the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.

Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God’s love and in each other?

You can find Justice online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Justice below:

Quote from Bodyguard for Christmas: But would God really hear him, one man among millions? What if God was busy elsewhere, doing important things like preventing massive natural disasters?

Bodyguard for Christmas by Carol J Post

Despite the title, Bodyguard for Christmas isn’t really a Christmas story. I see Christmas stories as focusing around family and faith, not escaping from evildoers.

Bodyguard for Christmas is definitely the escaping from evildoers plot.

Assistant district attorney Colton Gale has a quiet life in comparison to his twin brother Cade, an antiques dealer and Indiana Jones wannabe. But Colton’s life turns all-too-exciting when he returns home to find someone attempting to kidnap his three-year-old son. Liam hasn’t spoken since his mother died, six months ago, and this new trauma won’t help. Colton decides he needs to hire a bodyguard to protect his son, and the bodyguard turns out to be his attractive neighbour, Jasmine NcNeal. They travel to Murphy, North Carolina, the location of two of Carol Post’s earlier novels (which means we get a few fun cameos from their now-married couples). Despite their move, trouble is never far away, which makes for a page-turning suspense novel.

Bodyguard for Christmas has plenty of twists and turns, and a slow-building romance.

Jasmine is clever and competent, which I think are two necessary qualities in any heroine and especially in a romantic suspense heroine. Colton is caring and protective, and quickly gets over his macho problem with a diminutive female bodyguard—a perfect hero. Bodyguard for Christmas is an enjoyable quick read, just right for the busy Christmas season. And no matter what happens to your Christmas dinner, I guarantee it will be better than Colton’s. Recommended for romantic suspense fans. Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About Bodyguard for Christmas

Someone’s after his little boy. She has one chance to save them both.

When his young son is nearly kidnapped, assistant district attorney Colton Gale needs a Christmas refuge – and a live-in bodyguard. Though former military police officer Jasmine McNeal fights to shield them 24/7, she refuses to get attached. But growing close to the little boy and his father might be her only shot at keeping them alive – and becoming a family beyond the holidays.

Find Bodyguard for Christmas online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

About Carol J Post

Carol J PostFrom medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award. Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

You can find Carol J Post online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Read the introduction to Bodyguard for Christmas below:

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 73 | Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Mind Games by Nancy Mehl:

First line from Mind Games by Nancy Mehl: He stood in the middle of his secret room, staring at walls covered with newspaper clippings.

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

About Mind Games

Kaely Quinn’s talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she’s demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, the reporter’s ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem’s predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else–including Kaely herself–is killed.

You can find Mind Games online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Mind Games below:

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

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

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

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

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

Quote from Gone Too Soon: It's disturbing to realize that I'm not as smart as I thought I was. I wonder what else I don't understand.

Book Review | Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson

Kiera is fourteen, the independent and sassy middle child of three girls. But her older sister, perfect Hannah, died six months ago and it was Kiera’s fault. But Kiera reconsiders when she finds Hannah’s diary, and realizes Hannah wasn’t the paragon of perfection. Hannah had secrets …

On the outside, Kiera’s family look like the typical middle-class family, even if they are still grieving for a dead daughter and sister. But we see inside Kiera’s family, and it’s a long way from perfect.

Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The story is told in first person from Kiera’s point of view, and in third person from her mother’s point of view. Kiera is a sympathetic character. She’s a somewhat rebellious and sassy teen (somewhat = the kind who gets herself a summer job and doesn’t secretly drink or do drugs). Like many teens, she feels isolated, as though no one understands her. Especially not her mother.

It’s hard to like Moira.

I’m the mother of teens, but still found myself siding with Kiera and wanting to give Moira a good talking to. Yes, she was grieving. But she was still the parent, and that means she has responsibilities. Like acting like a parent, not a stroppy teen.

The writing is occasionally shaky—I found the first person passages easier to read and more compelling than the third person passages. I’m not sure if that’s because the writing was stronger, or because I didn’t like Moira. I did wonder what Moira’s story was. Did we need to see her point of view, or was Kiera’s enough? Will teen readers care about Moira’s point of view, or will they find her even more annoying than I did?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter. Gone Too Soon is a strong YA story of blame and grief and recovery, and about how our bad decisions can make life so much worse … but also a story about how allowing God into our lives can bring us peace. No matter what.

Recommended for YA readers.

Thanks to Whitefire Publishing for providing a free ebook for review.

About Melody Carlson

Author Photo: Melody CarlsonMelody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year.

She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

Find Melody Carlson online at:

Website

About Gone Too Soon

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

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

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

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

Find Gone Too Soon online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AUGoodreads

Click here to find Gone Too Soon and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

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

Book Review | Emergency Case by Richard L Mabry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Richard Mabry

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

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

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

You can find Dr Richard Mabry online at:

Website Facebook Twitter

About Emergency Case

Killer or Target?

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

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

Find Emergency Case online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Emergency Case below: