Thursday, April 30, 2020

MOONDROP MIRACLE by Jennifer Lamont Leo, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Triumph over tragedy.
Chicago 1928

Connie and Winston start their marriage out as comfortably wealthy and socially well-off. Then the bottom drops out of the economy and Win cannot handle things. Connie and her Aunt Pearl build a company around a product MOONDROP MIRACLE, and hold off the wolf at the door. Connie’s faith grows and her ingenuity and pluck take her places.

I liked the way the story started out in 1988 and that the main focus was the Roaring Twenties—flashback style. Then we see at the end how it all fits into place.

Connie learns first hand how God is steadfast and the faith of the people around her encourages her. The one thing I wish could have been expanded upon was the faith journey of Lawyer, Adam Devere.

Not only was this a great Rags-to-Riches-to a different kind of Riches, but I got a surprise in the setting. I grew up in Illinois very near the place outside of Chicago that Aunt Pearl had her fictional farm. This author hails from my girlhood stomping grounds! I love reading stories where the setting is personally familiar.

Fascinating, well filled-out characters and a captivating story.
* I received an ebook copy of this book from the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*


BackCover Blurb:
Chicago, 1928. Pampered socialite Connie Shepherd lives the kind of glossy life other women read about in the society pages. Engaged to a handsome financier, she spends her days and nights in a dizzying social round. When eccentric Aunt Pearl, an amateur chemist, offers her an unusual wedding present—the formula for a home-brewed skin tonic—Connie laughs it off. But when the Great Depression flings her privileged world into chaos and rocks her marriage to the core, will Aunt Pearl's strange gift provide the key to survival for Connie and her baby?

By turns heartbreaking and hope-filled, Moondrop Miracle tells the story of an extraordinary and unforgettable woman whose determination to succeed changes her life forever.


Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy Moondrop Miracle at Amazon


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

STARFISH PIER by Irene Hannon, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt

“We're all different. We don't fit together as cleanly as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes there are gaps. Rough edges. Holes. The finished product when we come together isn't always perfect. But as we're reminded in Corinthians, a love that keeps no record of wrongs...that perseveres...never fails.”
Hannon never fails to teach life lessons and God's truths in her stories. She shows them in characters who are imperfect and broken both emotionally and sometimes spiritually. Steven Roark has had his share of battles. An ex-Delta force operator in the military, he served his country as a sniper snuffing out evil; in his personal life in much deeper ways. Holly Miller too has fought physical battles and recently moved to Hope Harbor for a peaceful new start. Her first grade kids give her new meaning to life and unconditional love she craves. These two are on opposite spectrums when it comes to viewing deeply seated moral issues that have an instant impact on developing any kind of relationship. It takes a community of diverse people to show them that in spite of their beliefs, they can see eye to eye and have a deeper understanding of what has made them who they are.

“If God is willing to give people a second chance, why should we do any less?”

“I'm learning everyone has many layers...and one or two don't define us.

Hannon also never fails to write a story that is deeply emotional and draws you into the lives of her characters. I loved Holly's neighbor Pete, a newcomer and recluse who just needs to be shown love....reluctantly at first, but soon her sunny nature breaks down those walls. Then there's Steven's brother Patrick who is also battling his own problems that could lead to disaster. All he needs is a second chance and people to give him opportunities to do right. See? It really does take a village to bring about peaceful harmony and small gestures to show compassion and love. Then there's old favorite characters that I met with her first book that also continue to play a vital role in making Hope Harbor what it is, Charley the sage advice giving taco slinger, Flyod and Glady's his two seagull companions, and glimpses of others who I've gotten to know throughout this series. I think the first quote I gave in my review really does sum up this book; God can make a perfect jigsaw puzzle out of imperfect people and fit them exactly together the way He intends. Nobody is beyond love's reach and God can use each one of us to show this in everyday life. And lastly, the hard-won romance that developed between Steven and Holly was sublime! I enjoyed watching their walls crumble and attraction turn into a love that will last.

There's nothing about a Hannon book that I don't like! She is my go-to Christian fiction writer for both contemporary romance and romantic suspense. If you love stories full of tight-knit small town communities with lots of heart and faith, then I think you'll enjoy Starfish Pier! Be sure to read every book in this series, I can guarantee you'll want to once you start!
* A complimentary copy was provided through NetGalley. No favorable review was required and all opinions are my own. *


BackCover Blurb:
A year ago, ex-Delta Force operator Steven Roark left the rigors of combat behind to run fishing charters in Hope Harbor, decompress, and talk some sense into his kid brother. Business is good--but making peace with his past is more challenging than he expected.

First-grade teacher Holly Miller leads a quiet, low-profile existence--until she's recruited to advocate for a cause that's dear to her heart. When she solicits Steven's assistance, sparks fly--especially after they find themselves on opposite sides of an issue that disrupts their placid seaside community.

As these two seemingly incompatible souls search for common ground, might they discover a deeper connection--and find that love can banish darkness and light the way to a future filled with promise?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites you back to Hope Harbor--where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.


Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Starfish Pier at Amazon
Buy Starfish Pier at Christianbook.com

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

THE JOY OF FALLING by Lindsay Harrel, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

“But when you’re worried about the future. . . trust that God has something wonderful planned, even if our definition of ‘wonderful’ might not be the same as his.”
With dual settings in New York and New Zealand, Lindsay Harrel has deftly woven an emotional, poignant, and ultimately uplifting story of overcoming and pressing on in the face of adversity and grief. Populated with realistic, emotionally layered characters, The Joy of Falling is a journey of hope, healing, and courage. Although I’ve never understood how running can be enjoyable, I did enjoy reading about Eva and Angela’s courage to tackle a grueling ultra-marathon in New Zealand in honor of their deceased husbands. The growth in their relationship and in their outlooks was inspiring to see. Added to the racing mix, Eva’s friend Marc and writer Simon King are there to add a few sparks to the story.

I enjoy Harrel’s writing style. Her stories are well-written and brimming with emotion and adventure with the added bonus of uplifting inspiration woven seamlessly into them. This book has definitely earned a place on my keeper shelf with her other books. 4.5 stars
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.


BackCover Blurb:
Eva and Angela must learn to live again. One step at a time.

It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.

But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband's choices.

Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?


Available in digital ebook, paperback and audiobook:
Buy The Joy of Falling at Amazon
Buy The Joy of Falling at Christianbook.com
 

Monday, April 27, 2020

#Interview with Author HEIDI CHIAVAROLI by Nicole Cook

Author Heidi Chiavaroli
Reviewer Nicole Cook
Nicole: I am so thrilled to have author Heidi Chiavaroli join us today at Inkwell Inspirations to discuss her latest historical time-slip (dual timeline) novel, The Tea Chest, which was chosen as the April book club selection for the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group. Heidi Chiavaroli recently led a live Facebook chat in the Avid Readers Group to discuss her book with the members of the group.

If you have not read The Tea Chest, I highly recommend it! Even though The Tea Chest didn’t release until February 2020, it was on my Top 10 List of Books for 2019 since I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of it.

Heidi, thank you so much for joining us today!

Heidi: Thank you so much for having me, Nicole! And I was so honored to join the Avid Readers this past Saturday. I had fun!

Nicole: In The Tea Chest, I love how you weave the past and present together through a mysterious chest found in a Boston antique store, as the fight for freedom reveals courage and strength through the grace of God. What message or inspiration do you hope that people will get from reading it?

Heidi: The message I hope readers will take away from a story is always the one I received myself, while writing it. In The Tea Chest, that message was definitely one about personal worth.

For so long, I felt my worth was in what I did and how well I did it. It’s a bit crazy, but when I thought of failure in certain areas—failure to get a good grade in a class, to keep my patience with two toddlers, to write a book that people would like—I would very much feel as if something inside me would die (yes, die!) if I didn’t succeed.


Bringing these struggles to my fictional characters wasn’t much of a stretch. Both Hayley and Emma are both women with hefty goals! But I also wanted them to find freedom from this mindset. For me, I found that freedom in Jesus—in resting in His finished work and not my own. Sure, I still get pulled back into that old way of thinking all too often, but I am no longer defined by it. Instead, I am defined by God. To me, that’s true freedom.

Nicole: Do you prefer the historical or the contemporary storyline in The Tea Chest, or is that like asking you to pick a favorite child?

Heidi: LOL! Each storyline of each of my dual timeline stories always holds a special place in my heart. Personally, I felt Hayley’s internal struggles more closely mirrored mine, but I think experiencing the intensity of Emma’s journey—and all the history that comes with it—probably tugged at my heart just a bit more. Despite all that went into getting the historical details right, her story came easier to me. When that happens, it’s almost like a holy experience—like I am really creating right alongside the Creator. Because I felt that with Emma, her story is probably my favorite (if I had to pick!).


Nicole: I love being a member of the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook group and participating in so many wonderful discussions within the group. As a reader, I get to share my love of Christian fiction with the other members in the group, and I have discovered so many new-to-me authors who have become must-read authors. From an author’s perspective, what do you like best about participating in the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group, and what has been your favorite part of having The Tea Chest as the book club selection this month?

Heidi: I absolutely love this group! My favorite part is getting to interact personally with readers of this genre. I love getting a glimpse into their favorite stories, I love seeing what draws and moves them, and why. I’m also touched by the sweet encouragement these readers offer authors.

My favorite part about having The Tea Chest as the book club selection is again, interacting directly with readers through the Live Chat. This is by far my favorite part of being an author! A story takes on new life when it’s lived and talked about with other people. On my own, I can only go so far. With readers, my characters take on an entirely new dimension. I love hearing their thoughts and what they’ve taken away from the story. I’m so grateful for them!


Nicole: Can you share any information about your future releases and/or your current work in progress?

Heidi: My next novel, titled The Orchard House, is set to release early next year with Tyndale. It is a time-slip novel set in Concord, MA and is based on some of the lesser known facts of Louisa May Alcott—including her time as a nurse during the Civil War. I’m excited to introduce it to readers!
 

Nicole: Your novels are all time-slip (dual timeline) with a focus on women’s fiction and important events in American history. Do you prefer to also read women’s fiction and historical novels or do you read in a variety of genres? Who are some of your favorite Christian fiction authors that you would like to recommend to our readers?

Heidi: I tend to gravitate toward women’s fiction, and do love a great historical but probably end up in the contemporary world more often when reading for pleasure. My favorite Christian fiction authors? Oh my, I have so many but those that first come to mind are Melanie Dobson, Cathy Gohlke, Jocelyn Green, Laura Frantz, Katie Ganshert, Cynthia Ruchti, Amy Sorrells, Francine Rivers, Tessa Afshar, Susie Finkbeiner, Susan Meissner, Amanda Dykes, Elizabeth Byler Younts, and…I’m sure I’m forgetting so many!
Nicole: Heidi, thank you again for joining us today! This has been a pleasure to chat with you!
 

Heidi: So great to be here! Thank you, Nicole!

SEE OUR INKWELL REVIEWS of The Tea Chest:
Nicole And Kim

Rebecca and Deb

About the Book:

Boston, 1773
Emma Malcolm’s father is staunchly loyal to the crown, but Emma’s heart belongs to Noah Winslow, a lowly printer’s assistant and Patriot. But her father has promised her hand to Samuel Clarke, a rapacious and sadistic man. As his fiancĂ©e, she would have to give up Noah and the friends who have become like family to her—as well as the beliefs she has come to embrace.

After Emma is drawn into the treasonous Boston Tea Party, Samuel blackmails her with evidence that condemns each participant, including Noah. Emma realizes she must do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, even if it means giving up the life she desires and becoming Samuel’s wife.

Present Day
Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is determined to be the first woman inducted into the elite Navy SEALs. But before her dream can be realized, she must return to Boston in order to put the abuse and neglect of her childhood behind her. When an unexpected encounter with the man she once loved leads to the discovery of a tea chest and the document hidden within, she wonders if perhaps true strength and freedom are buried deeper than she first realized.

Two women, separated by centuries, must find the strength to fight for love and freedom. . . and discover a heritage of courage and faith.


Author Bio:
Heidi Chiavaroli (pronounced shev-uh-roli...sort of like Chevrolet and ravioli mushed together!) wrote her first story in third grade, titled I'd Cross the Desert for Milk. It wasn't until years later that she revisited writing, using her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since!

Heidi writes women's fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write split time stories. Her debut novel, Freedom's Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of seventeen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Heidi is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

Awards
~2019 ACFW Carol Award Finalist, Contemporary Novel

~2018 Christy Award Finalist, Debut Novel
~2018 ACFW Carol Award, Debut Novel of the Year
~2018 INSPY shortlist, Debut Novel
~2018 RT Reviewers' Choice Finalist, Inspirational Novel
~2017 Booklist Top Ten Debut Novel
~2014 ACFW Genesis Contest: Winner, Historical Category

Author links:
https://www.heidichiavaroli.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HeidiChiavaroli.Author/
https://www.instagram.com/heidichiavaroli/
https://twitter.com/heidichiavaroli
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heidi-chiavaroli
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16080793.Heidi_Chiavaroli

 
The Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group is a wonderful discussion group for book enthusiasts to talk about what Christian fiction books they are reading. Participation in the group is the perfect way to discover many new Christian fiction authors and books. The group is comprised of numerous Christian fiction authors and readers and is very well moderated. Any readers or authors interested in joining the group can click on the following link and answer a few questions to be added. The questions are easy and are meant to keep out spammers. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AvidChristFicReaders/

The Avid Readers Book Club selection for May is This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

HOMEFRONT HEROINES Novella Collection (Gerlach, Bliss, Alexander, Barratt) Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

This collection of novellas was a great glimpse into those left behind in the States during WWII.

MOONLIGHT SERENADE by Rita Gerlach: Kate St. Clare goes to Washington DC to do her part as a welder at the Navy Yard. On her way to her boardinghouse, she meets a boy who spent summers in her hometown near Gettysburg. Ronny Jordan is in the Navy and on furlough. They get reacquainted. This story brought back many memories of visiting my grandparents who lived not far from Gettysburg. The description of the boardinghouse and nearby store were so familiar. A sweet story of what people faced here at home during wartime.

ONLY FOREVER by Lauralee Bliss: Victory Gardens! A great cause is championed by a slightly naive Marilyn Pearl. Her long time friend Art stands beside her as they spur patriotic citizens to plant gardens in their small N.Y. town. When trouble comes calling, they find what truly matters. Ms. Bliss shows how faith can overcome obstacles and heal a town and relationships.

BLUE MOON by Johnnie Alexander: My favorite of this group probably because it contains intrigue and suspense. Find out how Kathleen and Roger end up together because of a Blue Moon encounter that has them working undercover for their country. Ms. Alexander spins a great story full of excitement and a warming relationship between two people who were an item in their teens. There is also a plus in the endearing German Shepherd companion.

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM by Amanda Barratt: What fun to peek into 1940’s Hollywood and meet a real hero of the war. It even has a cameo by Bob Hope. Ms. Barratt showcases Rosemary James an able nurse on the frontline of healthcare and the brave soldiers that are treated in a California rehabilitation hospital. Like Ms. Barratt, I watched The Black Sheep Squadron with my father and loved those WWII era movies. Touching story.

This collection of stories from the 1940’s was a great insight into what was going on in the USA during the war. The stories told that everyone came together to help win the war. *I won a copy of this book from one of the authors. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*





BackCover Blurb:

Patriotic Service Leads to Victories in Romance
Relive life on the American homefront as four women of the WWII era join the workforce and discover romance in surprising ways.

Moonlight Serenade
by Rita Gerlach
1941, Washington D.C.
When Kate St. Claire takes over a sailor’s job at the Naval Yard in Washington, DC, she is thrown into a romance she never expected.

Only Forever by Lauralee Bliss
1943, Springville, New York
Marilyn and Arthur learn the hard way that it’s not the outside that matters, but the inward working of the heart that is precious to God and each other.     
 
Blue Moon
by Johnnie Alexander
1943, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
After humiliating each other, a WOOPs officer and an Army Intelligence agent team up to protect a top-secret atomic bomb facility from sabotage.

Dream a Little Dream by Amanda Barratt
1945, Palm Springs, California
When an army nurse and a former film star are reunited at a wartime hospital, can they move beyond their past and into a future together?


Available in digital ebook, library binding and paperback:
Buy Homefront Heroines at Barbour
Buy Homefront Heroines at Christianbook.com

Saturday, April 25, 2020

HER HIDDEN HOPE by Jill Lynn, Reviewed by Kim

Her Hidden Hope is a perfect example of why Jill Lynn is the author that got me back into reading Love Inspired romance. This story is deep and layered and shows how much we all need to forgive and be forgiven.
Evan and Addie had a lot to work through in this story. At one point, I was totally on Evan’s side about how he felt when Addie dropped her bombshell, and I was wondering just how they were ever going to work things out. I just could not understand her logic. Then I was reminded of God’s grace and mercy and how we are supposed to show others that same forgiveness. I loved Sawyer and the humor he brought into this story and his relationship with Evan.

I’m so glad Ms. Lynn decided to write Evan’s story. It is a great ending to this wonderful series.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. 


BackCover Blurb:
Asking for forgiveness is the hardest part…

She once trusted him with her heart…

but will she ever trust him with the truth?

With only two weeks to renovate her family’s Colorado B and B, struggling single mom Addie Ricci can’t turn away help. Especially not when it’s her handsome high school sweetheart, Evan Hawke, who’s offering to pitch in. As they repair the B and B, Addie and Evan also begin rebuilding their relationship…until a secret from their past threatens to bring it all crashing down.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, mass market paperback:
Currently unavailable at Christianbook.com -we'll check back after shipping returns to normal.

Friday, April 24, 2020

THE SOCIALITE by J'Nell Ciesielski, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

After seeing the beautiful cover and reading the story description, I knew I had to read J’nell Ciesielski’s newest book, The Socialite. Set in France in 1941 with German troops occupying the country, I found this slice of history to be fascinating but poignant. Ciesielski’s obvious research and carefully crafted characters shine through and set the stage for a captivating story. 

Kat Whitford is sent to Paris to bring her sister Eleanor home, while Barrett Anderson is charged with bringing them both home safely. Of course, this doesn’t prove to be an easy task. I enjoyed the witty dialogue and the chemistry between Kat and Barrett. The characters come alive on the page, and the gripping plot is paced well to keep the action going.

With plenty of suspense, intrigue, history, and a dash of romance and inspiration, this story has a little of everything. The uplifting message of courage, hope, and optimism in the face of unfathomable danger makes this an unforgettable tale.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson Publishers through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:

Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.

As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them—but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?


Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding and audiobook:
Buy The Socialite at Amazon
Buy The Socialite at Christianbook.com
 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

DEAD HEAT by Susan Sleeman, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Susan Sleeman is one of my go-to authors when I’m in the mood for a romantic suspense story. Her books are always riveting and action-packed, and they keep me guessing to the end. Sleeman’s characters are always well-crafted, realistic, and engaging. Dead Heat is no exception and is a wonderful addition to the Truth Seekers series. Nick Thorn and Piper Nash are attracted to each other almost from the start, and it was amusing to see them navigate the case while trying to keep the attraction from showing. I especially enjoyed seeing Nick pulled out of his IT world by his association with Piper.
Sleeman always astounds me with her depth of knowledge about criminal investigation. Her research is detailed and thorough, and the characters have different jobs in the field, so it’s interesting to learn all about them. With lots of intrigue and suspense, twists and turns, a heaping serving of romance, and a dash of inspiration, this book should appeal to those who enjoy a great suspense novel. Although it’s part of a series, it can be read as a standalone. Many of the characters from previous books make an appearance in this one, so that adds an element of fun. 4.5 stars
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.


BackCover Blurb:
Tracing cyber criminals is what he lives for…

When hackers breach hospital security to steal patient records and begin blackmailing them, Veritas Center’s cybercrime expert, Nick Thorn is hired to locate security holes and patch the system. But he doesn’t stop there. He wants to bring down the hacker and make her pay. Problem is, he inadvertently inserts himself in FBI Agent Piper Nash's sting to catch the same hacker, and Piper has no choice but to arrest him and force him to stand down.

But the job is suddenly hitting too close to home.Nick finds himself attracted to Piper and wants to comply, but when his grandmother falls prey to a cyber-attack by the same hacker, he takes the assault very personally and will stop at nothing to find the hacker. Not even stop for Piper’s warnings to take care. They’re in a dead heat to the finish line, but what Nick doesn’t realize is the hacker has no intention of going to jail, and she’s reserved a bullet with Piper’s name on it. With time ticking down can Nick partner with Piper to find the killer before a point-blank shot takes her out?


Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy Dead Heat at Amazon

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

BEFORE I CALLED YOU MINE by Nicole Deese, Reviewed by Paula, Winnie and Trixi

WINNIE'S REVIEW:
From the striking cover to the intriguing premise and on to the realistic, endearing characters, Before I Called You Mine captivated me from the start and left me struggling to put my feelings into words. Nicole Deese has written a beautiful, poignant, and tender story that had me laughing, fighting tears, and feeling all the feels.

I had an instant connection with the two main characters, Lauren and Joshua. Their camaraderie and banter were charming and such fun. Lauren was easy to like, competent, and I enjoyed getting to know her. Joshua is a dream hero—compassionate, intelligent, and comfortable in his own skin. A great sense of humor and fun added to his charm.

Deese’s signature sense of humor shines through in her writing and makes this book a treat to read. Sentences like the following had me chuckling out loud.

“If a pause could be considered judgy, this one had pounded the gavel and called the courtroom to attention.”

Themes of faith in God’s timing, commitment, and the power of love are beautifully woven into the story and add depth and inspiration.

“Love isn’t about instant gratification, it’s about showing up for the journey and riding out all the twists and turns along the way . . . together.”

I had been anxiously awaiting this story for quite a while, and it was definitely worth the wait. It’s sure to be on my list of top books for the year and is bound for my keeper shelf. Do yourself a favor and read it!
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

PAULA'S REVIEW
BEFORE I CALLED YOU MINE is a beautiful story. First of all, the cover is exquisite and meaningful. The cherry blossoms and aqua tint give an Asian feel and the red thread with the Mama and baby sized hearts hint at an old Chinese proverb. PERFECT!

Sometimes God says NO, sometimes, YES, and sometimes WAIT!

It takes a special person to adopt a child. It also takes a special person to be able to put that experience into a beautiful story. Nicole Deese has done both.

I was teary eyed, not just at the dedication, but throughout this wonderful book. You can tell Ms. Deese speaks from intimate knowledge and she puts that experience down on paper quite poignantly.

Lauren Bailey , a single teacher, has a heart to adopt. She searches the will of God but is devastated at a setback. God is continually faithful and provides friends who encourage as true friends aught to do, most importantly, holding her up in prayer.

Joshua is a hero in the way all of us tenderhearted ladies want our heroes to be. I loved his nerdy quirkiness, his ability to relate to children and his great big, selfless heart. The banter between Lauren and Joshua was just the right touch and balance.

Little Aria is really preciously portrayed. I love that books were an integral part of the story and that Aria loved books. It showed that books are universal and capable of providing much more than entertainment; they can also help people connect.


The relationship between Lauren and Joshua was quite mature and selfless. Laura muses: “ When I reflected back on our month together, it was not the stolen kisses I missed the most...I was the absence of his friendship that pained me the most. Because more than anything, that is what he had been to me from the start—a loyal, selfless friend who would trade in his desires for the sake of mine.”

The story is not without humor. What is not funny about a substitute teacher mimicking a dinosaur for a bunch of first graders!

This was a winner in my book, one of my favorite this year.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*

TRIXI'S REVIEW:

“ There's an old Chinese proverb that those of us in the adoption community love to share with those new to the journey. “An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.””

This heartfelt, emotional story is about a long time dream of Lauren's to adopt a child from China, as a single parent. But it's much, much more too! It's about a love story, bonded friendships, struggles of a dysfunctional family, impossible decisions, and dreams stretched beyond human endurance but safely kept in God's hands. And also a book impossible to review because there's just SO much to it that will affect a reader. For me to ugly cry and laugh through the tears at the same time says a lot about how the author can pull such strong emotions out. Nicole Deese is a new-to-me author and she has me completely enamored with her lyrical way of writing. Her sense of humor in her characters endeared me to their personality and watching Lauren and Joshua fall in love was the highlight for me. There are also gut-wrenching parts that severed my heart all while Deese glued those pieces together in a way that was perfect.

“None of us are strong enough to handle the hard apart from God.”

I just have to say, Joshua was the kind of man any woman prays for and he's exactly what Lauren needs for this time in her life. He's patient, kind, supportive, never pushes his agenda, and is just there for her without her ever asking for his help. He brings out the best in Lauren, always putting her needs before himself. I knew a hard decision was coming for Lauren and it gutted me when it did come. Deese pulled out all the stops on this one, I HAD to keep reading to see how she was going to bring about resolution.

“There was effortlessness in conversing with Joshua, an undeniable ease that created a mixed-bag feeling of desire and denial.”

This was also such a spiritual journey for me as I read this. So many truths about God's nature and of who He is to me. Deese has a way to remind the reader that digs deep in your heart and resonates beyond that last page.

“God's way is rarely easy, but it's always better than mine.”

“It's really difficult to hear God's voice when my ears aren't tuned in. But I can tell you one thing, Lauren. God doesn't trick His children. He loves us, and everything He asks of us, or allows us to walk through, has a purpose.”

“God’s best for us rarely comes without the stretching, and it’s in that stretching season, those periods of complete and utter dependence on God’s faithfulness, that He holds our hearts and molds them into a shape that only He can fill.”

So many quotes that touched me and I pray touch you as a reader too. If there is but ONE book that you read, I highly recommend this one. As a fan of Bethany Turner, I'd put Nicole Deese right up there with her writing. “Before I Called You Mine” is one of my top reads for 2020!
*I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers and was under no obligation to leave a favorable review. All opinions are mine. * 


If three reviews don't convince you, see our #Release Day post with reviews from Kim and Nicole! 

Back Cover Blurb:
Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there's only one match she's committed to now--the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency's requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Though she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

With an impossible decision looming, Lauren might very well find herself choosing between the two deepest desires of her heart . . . even if saying yes to one means letting go of the other.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

Buy Before I Called You Mine at Amazon
Buy Before I Called You Mine at Christianbook.com

Monday, April 20, 2020

IF FOR ANY REASON by Courtney Walsh, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

" . . .sometimes you have to lose everything in order to figure out what's really important. Not an easy lesson to learn. Especially because I hadn't put any time into the things that mattered. . . . "

The things that mattered, the hard things, the real things. Emily Ackerman has returned to her grandparents' summer home feeling like she has managed to lose everything that she once dreamed about accomplishing; traveling, performing, staging, producing . . . all that remains is a lonely, dilapidated cottage on the island of Nantucket. A place which once held her best memories, and tragically; her worst. Tucking a book of letters written by her deceased mother back into her purse, Emily is determined to renovate and evacuate; never imagining that the boy next door would re-appear. Hollis McGuire, a retired baseball star; all grown up, and with a pre-teen daughter in tow. My, my, so he has secrets, too.

It's almost impossible to encapsulate the depth of this story; the author has created living, breathing characters who have an immediate, palpable connection; they share page space with family members who have made irrevocable mistakes . . . . but deserve grace, their pasts hiding secrets that deserve to see the light of day. It's all there, wrapped up beautifully within a young woman's dream of belonging, when in fact she already does.
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to review.
BackCover Blurb:

Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door–turned–baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.

As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.


Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy If For Any Reason at Amazon
Buy If For Any Reason at Christianbook.com

Sunday, April 19, 2020

DEAD END by Nancy Mehl, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise


Nancy Mehl takes us deeper into the life of FBI agent Kaely Quinn in this third book of her profiler series.

There is never a chance to get bored reading about this interesting character. Kaely has a strong faith but still struggles with unresolved issues concerning her father who is incarcerated. Ms. Mehl has done an admirable job of portraying her subjects as real, conflicted as they are. There are many layers to them that show us why they behave as they do.

Kaely is still reeling from her last case and surfs the Net for possible drug related cases. She comes across a breaking news article that brings back the awful memory she has of her father, a serial killer. She is afraid it could be happening again. To her surprise, she and her partner Noah Hunter are approached by the DeMoines Chief of Police and she is facing the possibility of confronting her father. Noah cares for Kaely but is scared as she regularly puts her life in danger. She is a Christian but is finding it hard to see the Will of God in the whole picture. They come to realize that they are fighting not only flesh and blood but evil forces behind evil people.

Exciting and complicated, this story leaves you guessing at times and comes to a fascinating conclusion, with the principal players stronger and more resilient.

Can’t wait to see what Nancy Mehl comes up with next!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*


Backcover Blurb:
When a body is discovered in a field in Iowa, the police uncover fourteen additional corpses ranging from 20 years old to recent. The remains point to a serial killer with an MO the authorities have seen before--Ed Oliphant, a man who has been in prison for over 20 years . . . and is Special Agent Kaely Quinn's father. After several failed interview attempts to discover if Ed has been training someone to be a copycat killer, the police turn to Kaely in St. Louis.

Kaely promised herself she would never step foot in her hometown or set eyes on her father again. She's always refused to confront her past, but if she wants to prevent any more deaths, she must come face-to-face with the man she's hated for years.
As more bodies are discovered, Kaely races against time and her own personal turmoil to uncover the killer. Will this most personal case yet cost Kaely her identity and perhaps even her life?


Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Dead End at Amazon
Buy Dead End at Christianbook.com
 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

ONE LITTLE LIE by Colleen Coble, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"She wasn't ready . . . . . Too many people could be hurt by the truth."
Jane Hardy's career in law enforcement took a giant leap forward following her appointment as Pelican Harbor's acting Chief of Police. Unfortunately, the crime rate in her normally docile shorefront town escalated in tandem with her new title. Curious, too. One . . . a very brutal murder; the other not particularly brutal but reminiscent of a so-called "vigilante". And what about the new journalist in town, the one who managed to convince the mayor to let him follow her around for a supposed documentary on small town police chiefs; Jane cannot quite figure out how Reid Dixon fits into her rapidly changing landscape.

As Jane follows the barely visible evidence trail behind one of her victims, coincidences begin to congregate. . . . first Reid, then her father. So much truth has been buried, and so many untruths are swirling to the surface, gnawing their way past her sub-conscious . . . . just like her past, continually hovering like a specter in the very back of Jane's mind..

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truth fully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body." Does Reid have the courage to speak the truth, once and for all?

Quite honestly, I really liked this book. The first few chapters exposed so many unanswered questions that it was difficult to determine whether or not the author was going to lose her readers' attention in all the mayhem, but slowly and intentionally, things began to make sense . . . and best of all, a glorious truth began to shed its layers; a truth with the power to either restore or destroy. A great series opener!
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to review. 

BackCover Blurb:
It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense. 

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there's no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she's facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.
After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane's career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid's calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy One Little Lie at Amazon
Buy One Little Lie at Christianbook.com

Friday, April 17, 2020

#GIVEAWAY and Review of THE LOST LIEUTENANT by Erica Vetsch, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt

DON'T MISS TRIXI'S GIVEAWAY BELOW!
TRIXI'S REVIEW:
Be still my Regency loving heart! Erica Vetsch brings to life everything I adore about reading books set in this time; dashing heroes, dainty ladies, the ton of London, elegant balls, impeccable manners, elegant speech, leisurely carriage rides and the like. I was wholly immersed in “The Lost Lieutenant” from page one.

I found Even Eldridge to not only be a fine soldier, but a very reluctant Earl of Whitelock; a title foisted upon him by the Prince Regent for saving his godson in battle, and nobody says no the Prince. Talk about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole! He's uncomfortable with his new title and really doesn't like the ton of society. Selfish and aristocrats the lot! He just wants to lead a quiet life and return to his duties, but once again his plans are thwarted when he takes a bride at the insistence of the Prince and in spite of her overbearing father. Diana Seaton—daughter of the Duke of Seaton—carries secrets of her own that could jeopardize both her life and that of her new husband. Thrust into a situation to which neither her nor Evan can control, she must make the best of things for the sake of those she's protecting. I really enjoyed watching things unfold for these two, it had me turning pages well into the night.

This story has it all for me; a dash of danger, intrigue, romance, a tense undercurrent of mystery, villainous characters we love to hate, and all of the above named reasons for loving Regency fiction. I had fallen in love with Vetsch's writing in the past and I really think she found the perfect niche with this adventurous new avenue. Her talent shines here and I can not wait to plunge into the next all encompassing historical in “A Gentleman Spy”!

I agree with other reviewers, Vetcsh is right up there with Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, Roseanna White and Kristi Anne Hunter when it comes to writing a fine Regency tale!
*I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publishers on behalf of the author. I was under no obligation to leave a favorable review and all opinions are mine alone. *


BackCover Blurb:
He's doing what he can to save the Prince Regent's life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero--he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn't think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn't have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there's something he can't quite remember. It's important, dangerous--and if he doesn't recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone's very life.


Available April 21 in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy The Lost Lieutenant at Amazon
Buy The Lost Lieutenant at Christianbook.com


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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

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