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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ministry-Minded Fiction - May Backlist Promotion



by Jennifer AlLee

Some of my best friends are pastors and their wives. So maybe that’s why I wrote a book about a pastor’s wife. During my years of working as a church secretary, I certainly became privy to the inner workings of the church and the challenges pastors and their families often face. Bottom line, I have great respect for those who live their lives on the front lines of ministry. So for today’s backlist, we’re looking at fiction which features these folks. We’ve got pastors, their wives, chaplains, missionaries, female pastors, pastors’ wives who fight crime, even a church secretary and a rabbi who solve mysteries together… there’s something for everyone here!


Margaret BrownleyA Lady Like Sarah
She’s an outlaw: he’s a preacher. Both are in need of a miracle. Preacher Justin Wells leaves Boston in disgrace, heading out alone on the dusty trail to Texas. But when the once-respected clergyman encounters a feisty redhead in handcuffs with a dying U.S. Marshal at her side, his journey takes a dramatic turn. When he promises the injured lawman to take his prisoner to Texas, Justin has no idea the trouble that lies ahead. The slightly-built prisoner turns out to be Sarah Prescott—sister of the notorious Prescott brothers—and she’s determined to miss the hanging party.

Carol Cox - A Test of Faith
When everything falls apart, can faith hold them together? When a stolen car crashes through the front window of the Country Diner, Kate Hanlon vows to find the driver, who has vanished into the night. But when Kate's wallet is discovered in the front seat of the car, she has a whole new reason to find the culprit. How did it end up there? No one in town seems to believe that the pastor's wife isn't a car thief, and with their whole ministry on the line, Kate sets out in search of answers. Meanwhile, Paul breaks his ankle in a church basketball game and Kate finds herself caring for her ailing husband. And the diner's owner Loretta isn't talking about when--or if--the restaurant will reopen. Is this all simply a test of faith, or is this a sign that the Hanlons' time in Copper Mill is coming to a close?

Marianne Evans - Hearts Surrender
Kiara Jordan is a sophisticated modernista, but beneath an engaging personality and super-model looks, her heart hungers for deeper meaning in her life. Ken Lucerne is the charismatic young pastor of Woodland Church. He's adjusting to life as a widower and copes by keeping as busy as possible with his parish and missionary work. A home-building mission in Pennsylvania brings them together, and forces them to look hard and deep at the relationship they share—and where God means for it to go. Already bound by mutual respect and caring, love dawns—a love that takes them to a place neither expected. Can they trust God's hand enough to surrender their hearts to one another...forever?

Valerie Hansen - Her Brother's Keeper (Love Inspired Suspense)
A church secretary falls in love with a man who went to seminary but never fulfilled his true calling - until meeting her changes him and brings him back to the Lord.
A Treasure of the Heart (Love Inspired)
When Lillie Delaney's life in the big city didn't work out, she headed home to Gumption, Arkansas, longing for the peaceful predictability of the tiny town. Not to mention the proximity of the grandmother who'd raised her. Yet Lillie was in for a shock: her grandfather had taken off with a younger woman and her grandmother running around in a pink shower cap wasn't handling it very well. So Lillie turned to town pastor James Warner, only to find a very handsome motorcycle-riding rebel in a black leather jacket! But she was beginning to learn that the Lord did indeed work in very mysterious ways.

Jody Hedlund - The Preacher's Bride
In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher—whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child—and man—she’s come to love.

Sharon Hinck - Stepping Into Sunlight
A story for every woman who has wondered where God is when life hurts. Penny Sullivan is ready to face the challenge of a cross-country move and caring for her energetic seven-year-old son while her husband leaves on his first deployment as a Navy chaplain. But after she witnesses a shocking crime, her world tips sideways. Hiding in her closet isn't an option when her husband and son depend on her, so she fights to recover. But even simple tasks such as filling her car with gas, buying groceries, and returning phone calls are suddenly more than she can handle. Help comes in funny packages-a temperamental DVD, a man who hoards gum wrappers, a meddlesome neighbor, and a small yellow notebook in which Penny scribbles down her recovery plan: Do one kind thing for another person every day. The results are sometime beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking, and often lead to more than she ever could have imagines...

Sunni Jeffers - To Have And To Hold and
A Token of Truth
The historic Copper Mill Coin is stolen, and Kate sets out to prove her good friend isn't the culprit but is telling the truth. Digging up secrets can be dangerous. When Kate Hanlon discovers that the Copper Mill Coin, a valuable and cherished memento from the town's historic mining days has been stolen, she's alarmed to learn that her dear friend, Skip, is the prime suspect. Kate resolves to prove Skip's innocence, although his recent nervousness and strange disappearances are making it rather difficult to do. What is he up to? Could it be possible he's actually involved? Meanwhile, the disappearance of her husband Paul's personal coin collection raises even more questions. As Kate searches for answers, she is reminded that sometimes the truth is found where you least expect it.

Patti Lacy - The Rhythm of Secrets
Sheila Franklin has masqueraded as the precocious daughter of avant-garde parents in colorful 1940s New Orleans, a teen desperate for love and acceptance, and an unwed mother sent North with her shame. After marrying Edward, Sheila artfully masks her secrets, allowing Edward to gain prominence as a conservative pastor. When one phone call from a disillusioned Vietnam veteran destroys her cover, Sheila faces an impossible choice: save her son and his beloved…or imperil Edward’s ambitions. Inspired by a true story, The Rhythm of Secrets intermingles jazz, classical, and sacred music in a symphony trumpeting God’s grace.

Vanessa MillerLove For Tomorrow
When Christian talk show host Serenity Williams's fiancé calls off their wedding because he can't deal with her popularity, she determines that she will never fall in love with another pride-filled, ego-driven pastor. Then, Serenity's producer asks her to interview the charismatic Pastor Phillip McKnight, who has recently gone through a divorce. Serenity feels that this is her chance to expose the arrogance of ego-filled pastors to the world. But Pastor Phillip is broken and humbled from his experiences, and the surprising humility of this man causes Serenity to want to un-break his heart. However, Serenity will need the Lord to fix her heart and change her mind about male preachers before she and Phillip can become all they were meant to be to each other.
Yesterday's Promise
Melinda Johnson has always felt called to ministry. So, when her father, Bishop Langston Johnson, decides to step down after thirty years of leadership at Omega Christian Center, it seems only natural for her to take his place. But Bishop Johnson feels led by a God who has other things in mind, and to succeed him, he appoints Steven Marks-a man who is opposed to female pastors, not to mention the fact that he is Melinda's ex-fiancé. Feeling defeated, Melinda nevertheless maintains her position as the church's Missions and Community Outreach Director. Frequent interaction with the new bishop incites bitter sparring-and rekindles long-suppressed attraction, which grows only stronger when Melinda develops a relationship with Steven's precious daughter, Brianna, who's still struggling with the death of her mother. Can Steven and Melinda set aside past pains, forgive each other, and learn to love again? Or will their opposing positions regarding women preachers keep them forever at odds?

DiAnn MillsLightning and Lace
Bonnie Kahler, immersed in grief since losing her husband, attempts to rise from the ashes of mourning. Will love and faith give her the power to conquer the demons within and evils without? In an attempt to outrun his past, Preacher Travis Whitworth arrives in Kahlerville, incognito. When he stumbles across a dead body, suspicion falls on his shoulders. Is Travis in too deep to win Bonnie's love? As Bonnie finds herself drawn to Travis, her life and heart are threatened. When secrets unravel, will she be strong enough to face the twisted truth?

Beth PattilloHeavens to Betsy
Blessed Are the Fabulous. Life would be perfect for Reverend Betsy Blessing if it weren't for parishioners who keel over during her sermons, steal money from the collection box, and set her up with ex-cons. Not to mention the very inconvenient feelings she is suddenly having for her long-time friend, fellow seminarian, and verbal sparring partner, David Swenson. It isn’t until Betsy is thrust into the position of senior minister for her church, however, that she discovers the real cause of her discontent: her fear of failing has become stronger than her faith in herself. Is it really possible to keep a good woman down? Can Betsy reclaim her confidence while reconciling her clerical robe with high heels and the right shade of lipstick? A fun-loving look at a single girl’s life on the other side of the altar, Heavens to Betsy is also a hilarious and joyful celebration of strong, stylish, and faithful womanhood.

Lisa SamsonThe Church Ladies
Poppy Fraser, pastor’s wife second and person first, finds that the tedious roles of church bulletin typist, public relations artist, perfect mother, and devoted spouse are wearing seriously thin. The competition for church membership in her picturesque little vacation village is getting old, too. And then there’s the guilt that’s slowly strangling her… But when a tragic loss tests the faith of Poppy and the other women of Mountain Oak, Poppy realizes that her church – and her very life – is changing in ways she could never imagine.

Betsy Ann St. AmantA Valentine's Wish (Love Inspired)
Unless youth pastor Andy Stewart finds a suitable wife fast, he'll lose his job. Yet the woman of his dreams is his best friend. And Lori Perkins is still smarting over a failed engagement, so he can't just declare his love. His plan: he'll be her secret admirer and woo her anonymously with flowers and chocolates. And then, when romance is on her mind, Andy will confess his Valentine's wish--to spend his life with her. There's just one little problem. Lori seems to think her secret admirer is someone else!

Shannon Taylor VannatterWhite Roses (Heartsong Presents)
Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. Grayson knows he needs to move on, that the continuing depth of his grief is not healthy for him or his young son. Desperate, he convinces his church to hire Mark Welch as associate pastor to relieve him of some of his load. When Adrea Welch arrives at his church with her brother, Grayson cannot deny his attraction to her. For years, florist Adrea Welch has been artfully arranging white roses for Sara Sterling. Now those flowers are carried to the cemetery by a faithful, grieving husband. How can Adrea be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife? When secrets from Adrea’s past collide with their budding relationship, both she and Grayson must learn to lean on God’s abiding wisdom.

Debbie Viguie - The Lord Is My Shepherd - The Psalm 23 Mysteries #1
Cindy’s church is getting ready to celebrate Easter, and Jeremiah’s Temple is preparing for Passover when Cindy literally stumbles over the body of an unknown man lying dead in the sanctuary. The church was locked, and a bloody cross necklace on the floor seems to be the only clue. The killer is likely a member of the congregation, but there are hints that similar deaths have happened in the past. Are Cindy and Jeremiah dealing with a serial killer? They have to unravel the clues before Easter Sunday arrives and more people die.
I Shall Not Want - The Psalm 23 Mysteries #2
Charity work can be murder! It’s Thanksgiving and Joseph Tyler, one of the members of Cindy’s church, has organized a new charity that provides homeless people with rescue dogs to love and care for. But one by one, the homeless recipients are being murdered and their dogs stolen. Could an overly competitive millionaire with his prize-winning pooches and a grudge be behind the crimes? Or could it be someone much closer to Joseph who has something sinister to hide? Cindy and Jeremiah must rush to find a killer before he strikes again.

Deborah VogtsSeeds of Summer
When opposites attract, sparks fly--like an electrical malfunction. That's what happens when former rodeo queen Natalie Adams meets the new pastor in Diamond Falls. A heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope. Spanning the Seasons of the Tallgrass, each story in this series reveals the struggle of the people who live there and the dreams they have for the land until they come full-circle in a never-ending cycle, just as man comes full-circle in his understanding of God.

Alice J. WislerRain Song
His words have unlocked a special place in her heart, but he lives in the one place she vowed she'd never return... Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan. Something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone. Something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney. Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy website, Nicole meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart. Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does! Will Nicole face her fears in order to discover her past and take a chance on love?

Jennifer AlLeeThe Pastor's Wife
Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn’t please, and a God who took away everything she loved. Nick Shepherd had put the past behind him. At least he thought he had, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Wanting only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must face the mistakes he made and find a way to give and receive forgiveness. As God works in both their lives, Nick and Maura believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has something to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s what ultimately drove her to leave six years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve begun to rebuild.

And there you have it... all the books I could find with ministry themes and/or characters. But I know I didn't find all of them. In fact, I purposely left out one wildly popular (and pretty famous) series. Can you guess which one? Do you have a favorite that I left out? Share your picks with the rest of us!



JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her upcoming novel, The Mother Road, will be released by Abingdon Press in April 2012. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.

http://jenniferalleesite.blogspot.com/ - Jennifer's website
http://thepastorswifespeaks.blogspot.com/ - A safe haven for women living on the front lines of ministry.

9 comments:

  1. What an incredible list! I hope readers today also pop over to The Pastor's Wife blog. Oh-- it's not just for Pastor's wives either, ladies!

    Thanks Jen!

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  2. Oh, must check out the Lisa Samson book. Eventually I plan to read through all her older books.

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  3. Thanks, Jen. Nice list. I'm in there checking out all the mysteries.

    I've read some, but The Lord is My Shepherd just moved up a notch or two on my to-be-read list.

    Might the wildly popular one left out be the Mitford series?

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  4. There's a few new-to-me on this list. Looks great.

    I think your blog is such an inspiration (ahem, didn't mean to borrow the phrase) and I often wish I could forcefully hook up a number of women-in-ministry with it, Jen.

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  5. Deb, thanks for the positive feedback about the Pastor's Wife Speaks. The credit for it really goes to the ministry women who write the posts and share their hearts. It's hard enough to be a wife and mom, but to add the microscope of ministry to it... wow. Beyond what I could do, that's for sure!

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  6. Dina, the Lisa Samson book caught my eye, too. It's older (early 2000's) and one I hadn't known about.

    Barb, I read The Lord is My Shepherd and quite enjoyed it. By the way, Lie Down in Green Pastures, #3 in the series, is available free on Kindle right now.

    And yes, the Mitford books are the ones I left out :+}

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  7. Great list, Jen. I'm quite intrigued by Love For Tomorrow and Heaven's to Betsey. I read A Lady Like Sarah, and it was so good. I reviewed it here, if anyone wants to go back and read the review.

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  8. That sounded like shameless self-promotion, but I sure didn't mean it that way.

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  9. Incredible list, Jen. I see a few of my favorites on it, but also some titles that are new to me. Thanks! I can't wait to put these on my TBR pile!

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