Tuesday, August 31, 2021

CARVED IN STONE by Elizabeth Camden, Reviewed by Nicole Cook and Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

Fans of Elizabeth Camden's will be thrilled for the start of her new historical fiction series, The Blackstone Legacy. Elizabeth Camden is one of my go-to authors for historical fiction, and she continues to impress me with her well-researched and fascinating glimpses into the past. This novel is loosely based on J.P. Morgan and the creation of the United States Steel Corporation.

Family secrets, a years old unsolved mystery, and an unlikely romance developing between an heiress and an Irish immigrant who became a lawyer make Carved in Stone a must read. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Carved in Stone is highly recommended for readers of historical fiction.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine. Faith content rating: light 
Ms. Camden once again takes us to the Gilded Age and a lesson in clashes between the classes where the characters learn just what traditions are carved in stone and what changes are in store.

Gwen comes from a wealthy family and hopes to make her mark in Botany at Blackstone College.

Patrick wanted to become a priest but turned to law, having been trained by the Church in both vocations.

Patrick and Gwen meet when they are on opposite sides of a dispute between her prominent family and a client Patrick is representing. They find they both have similar life aspirations: to help people in need. But differences loom to keep them apart.

Ms. Camden always fills her books with interesting characters. Liam is a great example of how a life can turn around. He is very rough around the edges but has a quality that makes him a leader.

Filled with opulence that was indicative of the times, we also see the contrast in the slums of the Five Points. But it is the changed lives and priorities that make this book special.

Well researched with colorful characters and a lesson in compromise between the classes, this book will interest readers of Historical Christian Fiction.
*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. * I give this 5 stars and a solid faith thread

Her gilded world holds a deeply hidden secret.

After years of tragedy, Gwen Kellerman now lives a quiet life as a botanist at an idyllic New York college. She largely ignores her status as heiress to the infamous Blackstone dynasty and hopes to keep her family's heartbreak and scandal behind her.

Patrick O'Neill survived a hardscrabble youth to become a lawyer for the downtrodden Irish immigrants in his community. He's proud of his work, even though he struggles to afford his ramshackle law office. All that changes when he accepts a case that is sure to emphasize the Blackstones' legacy of greed and corruption by resurrecting a thirty-year-old mystery.

Little does Patrick suspect that the Blackstones will launch their most sympathetic family member to derail him. Gwen is tasked with getting Patrick to drop the case, but the old mystery takes a shocking twist neither of them saw coming. Now, as they navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger, Patrick and Gwen will be forced to decide if the risk to the life they've always held dear is worth the reward.

Bethany House Publishing, August 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Elizabeth Camden (www.elizabethcamden.com)is best known for her historical novels set in Gilded Age America, featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Award and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.

CROSSED LINES by Jennifer Delamere, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

I usually am not in favor of love triangles but this was cute and showed the heart of the three characters. We see flawed humans and spiritual growth in the story.

Emma is a telegrapher at the Central Telegraph Office in 1881 London and we see how important her job is. She has a sunny disposition but at the same time she is looking for adventure and romance. Mitchell and childhood best friend Christopher also work at CTO and are both infatuated with Emma. Mitchell has a poetic soul, is hardworking and is trying to overcome a disability that he hopes no one will notice. He is a loyal friend to Christopher and agrees to help him win Emma, since he is often tongue tied in the presence of ladies. This has clear vibes of Cyrano De Bergerac but with a much happier ending.

Ms. Delamere depicts the CTO as a buzzing place and gives interesting historical information. She also includes a comet watching party.

Emma has a staunch friend in Rose and confides in her. She also befriends a gardener, Mr. Frye, who gives sound spiritual advice: “God has a way of knowing our needs and providing for them, even before we know what they are. You must trust in His timing,” She loves working in her garden: “I live in expectation. When the Bible tells us to live in hope, it is easy for me to see it in terms of my garden.”

This was an interesting, absorbing, sometimes funny read and gave us a hint that Rose’s story is 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.*4 stars and a solid Faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
When romance finally blossoms in her life, will it grow in the right direction?

Emma Sutton knows she should be satisfied with her life. She has a position at London's Central Telegraph Office, and behind her rented rooms is a small plot where she can indulge her passion for gardening. But ever since she was orphaned as a child, she has longed for a family of her own and the stability and consistency it provides. Her deepest wish appears realized when a handsome engineer is thrown into her orbit and sends her a thrilling love note.

Mitchell Harris's sharp wit and facility with a pen have enabled him to thrive despite serious obstacles. That the woman of his dreams works just two floors above his should make life perfect. But a childhood accident has left Mitchell convinced he'll never draw a woman's affection, especially from someone like Emma. When his best friend--who once saved his life--falls in love with Emma too and asks for help writing her love letters, Mitchell must choose between desire and loyalty. 

Bethany House Publishers, August, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Monday, August 30, 2021

THE NICE GUY NEXT DOOR by Haley Zaragoza, Reviewed by Kim

The Nice Guy Next Door by Haley Zaragoza was such a sweet and fun read. I loved the small town Texas setting, the humor, and the characters, especially Millie and Jameson, and the secondary characters, who all really added to the story.

Jameson and Millie were perfect for each other! I loved their first meet, I could see the whole thing playing out in my mind! Millie was such a fun character. I loved her personality. Jameson was so kind and patient and just an all around great guy! I also really liked that there was a touch or two of a more serious thread because sometimes, in my opinion, RomComs can get a little too silly. I’m glad to say this one was not.

I definitely recommend this story and I will for sure be looking out for more from Haley Zaragoza!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. This is a clean read.

BackCover Blurb:
Sometimes love comes knocking when you least expect it.

Millie Parker just moved to a new town with her teen sister in tow. The only romance on her agenda is what she's writing in her secret novel, but sometimes romance can't be avoided.

Especially when your new neighbor is the insanely handsome and all around nice guy, Jameson Lane. He's everything a woman could want in a man, but Millie doesn't want a man. Not now; not ever. Too bad her heart didn't get the memo.

Available in digital ebook and paperback from Amazon

Sunday, August 29, 2021

THE WEIGHT OF MEMORY by Shawn Smucker, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

I have been curious about what kind of book Shawn Smucker writes. This is the first of his books that I have read.

It was an interesting premise of an ailing grandfather and his precocious granddaughter taking a trip to Grampy’s home town, a remote place. It is told in first person as if the grandfather is telling a story to his granddaughter Pearl. “I realize memories are heavy things, heavier still when we don’t let them go.”

The descriptions are top notch and put me right there in the pages. It kept me reading to see what happened next. But in the end, it fell short for me. I was expecting a clear Christian message. Other than the scene where the characters go to a church and take communion without knowing what it means and one trying to explain the doxology, there was nothing concrete or clear.

I liked the varying lengths of the chapters, but did not like the way it jumped forward and backward without a clear indicator.

A good ghost story? Yes! Great writing? Yes! A Christian allegory. Sadly No!

Will I read more by this author? Probably but not soon.
*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*4 stars more a clean read, nominal faith thread.

BackCover Blurb:
When Paul Elias receives a terminal diagnosis, he leaves his physician's office in a fog. Only one thing is clear to him: if he is going to die, he must find someone to watch over his granddaughter, Pearl, who has been in his charge since her drug-addicted father disappeared. Paul decides to take her back to Nysa--both the place where he grew up and the place where he lost his beloved wife under strange circumstances forty years earlier.

But when he picks up Pearl from school, the little girl already seems to know of his plans, claiming a woman told her.

In Nysa, Paul reconnects with an old friend but is not prepared for the onslaught of memory. And when Pearl starts vanishing at night and returning with increasingly bizarre tales, Paul begins to question her sanity, his own views on death, and the nature of reality itself.

In this suspenseful and introspective story from award-winning author Shawn Smucker, the past and the present mingle like opposing breezes, teasing out the truth about life, death, and sacrifice.
Revell Publishing, July, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

Saturday, August 28, 2021

DESIRE OF MY HEART by Heidi Gray McGill, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

This is a new-to-me author and Desire of My Heart is her debut.

“Being a Christ follower isn’t easy, but it’s always rewarding. She would continue to trust God.”

This book reminded me of stories about my husband’s grandparents. His grandfather lost a parent who remarried and then died. So he was raised by someone who was not a blood relative. That story did not have such a happy ending. Times were tough in the 1800s. This book brings that across. What brought comfort was the way the author portrayed Rachel, Melvin, Clay and the Sullivans with a deep faith. God sustained them through the tough times. I liked the way they all came to aid Rachel as she worked through depression. I grew fond of five year old Thomas and the instant connection with Grammie. Although they were not blood relations, God brought them together. And isn’t that the best kind of family?

This is a great beginning to a series set in Missouri. I am anxious to read the next story about neighbor Pete and brother Charlie.

An accomplished debut by Heidi Gray McGill.
*I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* I give this 5 stars and a strong faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
All Rachel has ever wanted is a family. How could God grant her the desire of her heart, then do nothing to prevent it being taken away? Can she wait for God’s perfect timing, or will she take matters into her own hands…again? About to age out of a Missouri orphanage in 1858, shy Rachel listens with terror as the orphanage matron tells her she’s practically auctioning her off to the highest bidder for her hand in marriage. Rachel prays, asking God to help her and her younger brother Charlie escape, but how? 

When God provides what Rachel believes to be her liberator, the seed of an idea sets in motion an adventure that will bring happiness and heartbreak, and nearly cost Rachel her health. When trouble comes, it comes in a big way and those who care for Rachel wonder if she will ever recover. Rachel and Charlie face danger and sorrow, see new territory, and grow in their faith. They just might even find the desire of their hearts and realize God had bigger plans than they ever imagined.

Available in digital ebook and paperback at Amazon

Friday, August 27, 2021

STAND OUT by Rose Fresquez, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

"It didn't matter how a person felt or how they looked on the outside, what was more important was how their actions stood out."

Stand Out, the fourth installment in author Rose Fresquez’s Eron Romance series, is a beautiful tale of acceptance, faith, and finding love. This novel is one of my new favorites of hers. I always look forward to this author's new releases, and this book is no exception.

Rose Fresquez creates a realistic storyline with Brent and Keisha's path to romance. Readers will love the diversity of Rose Fresquez's characters and her sweet Christian romances. She is definitely an author I would recommend for readers of inspirational contemporary romance.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

He’s her boss. She’s off-limits. One road trip might change all the rules.

After a miraculous recovery from a tragic accident, Brent Wise is back to running the billion-dollar company. With the board criticizing his decisions, the last thing he needs is his assistant to get under his skin. When Keisha talks him out of a profitable deal and the angry board members demand answers, he’s left no choice but to invite her to an out-of-state meeting.

Keisha Freeman is forced to face her insecurities when asked to advocate for her friends’ homes that are about to be demolished and replaced by a fancy hotel. Her extremely handsome boss might be a hothead and intimidating, but unlike her family, Brent treats her like the adult she is. Her mission is to prove to him that she’s more than his enemy’s little sister. She starts by defining the conditions of the trip: No private jet—just a simple road trip with a stop at every homeless shelter along the way.

On the ride of their lives, sparks fly as their love-hate sizzle continues to heat into attraction for one another. When family intrudes on a perfect romance, will they hold back or fight for their love story?

Stand Out is a sweet Christian romance that will take you on a heartwarming journey with memorable characters and an inspiring story of trust, acceptance, and following your heart.

Other books in the series:
1. Complex- Trevor and Sofia
2. Choices- Zach and Chloe
3. Beyond Repair- Lorenzo and Jules
4. Stand out- Brent and Keisha
5. Crystal Clear

Rose Fresquez is a stay-at-home mom, with a husband and four kids. In her free time, she likes to spend time outdoors with the family, sing gospel music and plotting her next writing project.

Rose’s writing projects include both Christian non-fiction and Christian fiction.

STAND OUT is available in digital ebook and paperback at Amazon

Thursday, August 26, 2021

LET IT BE ME by Becky Wade, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Some things might have gone wrong on that day, but you weren't one of them."

Confused by the results of a DNA test, Leah Montgomery's world has become larger in some ways and smaller in others. Considered a math prodigy, Leah had put her PhD. aspirations on hold to raise her younger brother Dylan, choosing to teach high school math in the interim. Her hyper logical brain has routinely convinced her that she is not marriage material; falling in love doesn't even compute. . .  until Dr. Sebastian Grant wrecks all her tidy equations.

When pediatric heart surgeon Sebastian Grant is involved in a one car accident, his first recollection is that of an angel. Of course the "angel" in question is a beautiful young woman who remains on the scene until rescue vehicles arrive, leaving Sebastian to realize that he wasn't even coherent enough to ask her name. Months later, her name might as well be in the headlines of a local newspaper blaring OFF LIMITS. His best friend Ben has been raving about Leah Montgomery for months. . .  his best friend. . .  for months.
With a nearly flawless story flow, the author weaves her readers in and out of multiple scenarios showcasing Sebastian and Leah's futile attempts to ignore the magnetism between them; Sebastian out of loyalty and Leah out of utter confusion. Sebastian remains determined, but in spite of his success he is also broken, struggling mightily to believe that God has been beside him in the darkest of days, proving Himself sovereign as well as good. Along similar lines, Leah is learning to relinquish control over the things that God has already promised to do on her behalf.

And along the way, there arises the most beautiful of love stories. 

* 4.5 stars. I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
The one woman he wants is the one he cannot have.

Former foster kid Sebastian Grant has leveraged his intelligence and hard work to become a pediatric heart surgeon. But not even his career success can erase the void he's tried so hard to fill. Then he meets high school teacher Leah Montgomery and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop. He falls hard, only to make a devastating discovery--Leah is the woman his best friend set his heart on months before.

Leah's a math prodigy who's only ever had one big dream--to earn her PhD. Raising her little brother put that dream on hold. Now that her brother will soon be college bound, she's not going to let anything stand in her way. Especially romance . . . which is far less dependable than algebra.

When Leah receives surprising results from the DNA test she submitted to a genealogy site, she solicits Sebastian's help. Together, they comb through hospital records to uncover the secrets of her history. The more powerfully they're drawn to each other, the more strongly Sebastian must resist, and the more Leah must admit that some things in life--like love--can't be explained with numbers. 
Bethany House Publishing, May 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson, Reviewed by Paula, Trixi, and Kim!

This is the first historical book by this established author. He has described his protagonist, William Snopes as a bit Sherlock Holmes and a bit Rumpole of the Bailey. I think that is spot on. It even had me re-reading a few Sherlock stories and remembering how Rumpole and his creative ways of defense.

Told from a Christian World View, Mr. Johnson immersed me in Regency London. He spun an intriguing tale of manipulation in high places. The barrister, Snopes, is an honorable man although somewhat unorthodox when defending a client. He has a heart for the underdog and shuns his noble beginnings. He hesitates to take a case from Lady Madeleine Jamison but accepts and investigates what he perceives as a great injustice. The mystery takes us to all walks of life from seedy Whitechapel to the inner workings of Royal Government. Great historical information.

I liked the dynamic between Snopes and his Junior barrister, Edmund and his solicitor, Obadiah, lads he has mentored. The way his mind is always humming a classical piece adds to his character.

There is a hint of romance for good measure and also a possibility of more mystery stories in the future.

I enjoyed this tale immensely and cannot wait for more.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and BPH Open Book. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 
I give this 5 stars and a solid faith thread.   

What I liked:
William Snopes; a tenacious Barrister who's like a bulldog when it comes to digging up evidence to prove Captain Tuttle is innocent of piracy charges. He’s a staunch defender of the underdog and reminded me a bit of Robin Hood. Lady Jameson; cousin of Captain Tuttle, who also invested in a merchant brig, The Padget, where he was accused of committing the crime. Distressed, she seeks the help of Mr. Snopes to challenge the charge against her cousin. What follows is a story quite twisty, intriguing, and delves into the darker side of historic London. I loved the immersive atmosphere Johnson created throughout the pages that made me feel as if I were a part of it.

What I didn't like:
It seemed to drag on in the beginning and much more detailed than I care for in a book. I skimmed most of the first 50-60 percent or so to get to the meat of the story—the gathering of witnesses, the finding of evidence and finally the courtroom proceedings. Once I got past that hump, the story moved quite quickly and ended in a surprising way. This is no reflection on the author, for his writing is (as I had stated) immersive and atmospheric.

In conclusion:
If you like a good Sherlock Holmes mystery with some twists and turns, I think you would enjoy The Barrister and the Letter of Marque. I found the story concept interesting and watching Mr. Snopes in action both in and out of the courtroom. I especially loved the ending, surprising and stunning at the same time!
*I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions are mine. *

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is the first book I’ve read by Todd Johnson. This story takes place in Regency London. It has a Dickensian feel with an intriguing mystery.

This type of story is one I don’t normally read, but I really enjoyed it. I loved trying to figure out the mystery behind the Letter of Marque and the Padget and just how William was going to solve this case and free his client.

While I felt like it took a little too long to set up the story, once it got rolling, I was totally invested. I could see this becoming a series of books with William Snopes solving impossible cases.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. I would consider this more of a clean read even though it is published by Bethany House.

see Rebecca's Review

BackCover Blurb:
As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he's a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king's regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter--the sole proof his actions were legal--has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady's distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he'd imagined.
Bethany House Publishing, August 3, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

HUSBAND AUDITIONS by Angela Ruth Strong #Giveaway #BlogTour Hosted by Trixi Oberembt with reviews from Paula and Winnie!

Outlandishly funny, outrageously hilarious, what a riot!!! You're sure to be rolling down the aisle clenching your stomach in painful delight as laughter guffaws out of your lips. Quirky and unique, this love story will charm your socks off!

Just know Kai and Meri absolutely belong together, no matter how hard they try to convince each other that the opposite is true. Watching them dare to deny what's happening right in front of them is part of the charm of Husband Auditions. Read "The List" to find out what lengths they are willing to go to achieve a goal they set for themselves. Kai, to land his dream job and Meri, to snag a husband. Yep, this one is worth the sleepless nights because you can't put the book down and the bleary eyed mornings with extra cups of coffee to try to help pry your eyes open.

Probably one of the best Rom-Coms I've read to date, almost rivaling that of Bethany Turner. I'd hate to see these two in the same room together because I bet you'd not be able to catch your breath due to the lack of oxygen from laughing so hard.

Whatever you do, DON'T miss this book!
*I received a complimentary copy of this from Kregel publishers. I was not obligated to leave a favorable review, all opinions are mine. 

With loads of laughs, witty dialogue, and hilarious predicaments, Angela Ruth Strong’s newest book, Husband Auditions, kept me entertained and turning pages. Meri and Kai are realistic, colorful, and fun characters and the premise of the story is comedic genius. A list of 101 Ways to Find a Husband from the 1950s gets handed down to Meri as the last of her friends to be single. When Kai suggests she use the list to try to attract a husband while he films her for social media, hilarity ensues.

Strong’s unique sense of humor and skill with words combine for an enjoyable and thought-provoking tale. Sometimes you find romance where and when you least expect it. Although this is a romantic comedy, there is depth and wisdom and a strong takeaway of faith, hope, what to look for in a marriage partner, and how to become a good marriage partner. I recommend this book to those who enjoy romcoms with an underlying inspirational message.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Kregel Publications through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.

Zany, quirky fun.

Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Kai and Meri, this has snappy banter and a slow realization that what Meri is looking for is right in front of her.

Both Meri and Kai are works in progress. They try to honor God but even though they are both single and just over 30, they are a bit immature. Mom advice for Meri: Nobody can avoid pain in life. My job as your mom is to point you to your Heavenly Father who can heal your pain. His love is the only kind that never fails.”

Meri is the last of her besties to get married so she inherits an odd list of HOW TO CATCH A HUSBAND, from a magazine of the 50s. Kai convinces her it would be fun to turn the list into a YouTube show, while doubtful that it will really work. Meri goes along with it to hilarious results.

Kai observes Meri: “She narrows her eyes. I think she’s trying to look menacing, but with all those freckles, she’s as scary as a toddler in time-out.”

One item had me reaching into my memory: *#40 Never outshine your man in any athletic activity. Men have sensitive egos and usurping their sportsmanlike prowess will lead to the demise of your relationship.” This proved to successfully deter a boy when I beat him at bowling and I am terrible at bowling!

Do not miss this madcap story when everything seemingly goes wrong. A mix of silliness, romance and spiritual lessons.

Kai: “My eyebrows dance in confusion.Up. Down. Together. Apart. If I was a cartoon character, I’m sure they would have lifted all the way off my face.”

Thoroughly entertaining.
* A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Kregel Publishers through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
5 stars and a solid faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?
In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she's handed a strange present at the latest wedding--a 1950s magazine article of "ways to get a husband"--she decides there's nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can't get any more single, can she?
Her brother's roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love--Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.
When Meri Me debuts, it's an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she's looking for . . .
With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for.
Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there's nothing else she'd rather write about.
She is the author of the Resort to Love series and the CafFUNated mysteries. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. Finding Love in Big Sky was recently filmed on location in Montana and will air soon. Her latest release is Husband Auditions.
Strong also writes non-fiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho and teaches as an expert online at Write That Book.

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Buy HUSBAND AUDITIONS at Amazon, Christianbook.com and Baker Book House

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

MATCHED AND MARRIED by Kathleen Fuller, Reviewed by Kim

Matched and Married by Kathleen Fuller is the second book of this series. It can easily be read as a standalone, though. I have not read the first story and I was not lost at all.

I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this story. Well, mostly, I had trouble connecting with Margaret. Basically, for the first half of the story, she’s all about how a person looks on the outside, not who they are on the inside. And as far as Owen was concerned, she was very negative. While I know that she changes, I felt like it was just a bit much and it made me dislike her. I did enjoy the second part of the story more when Margaret and Owen strike up their friendship and she begins to change.

This is a quick sweet read and I would say if you like Amish stories, give this one a try!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 

BackCover Blurb:
Neither Margaret nor Owen has any interest in getting married. But in the small Amish town of Birch Creek, where marriage is on everyone’s mind, their plans don’t stand a chance.

Margaret Yoder can’t seem to catch a break. Even though she’s dedicated to her Amish faith, her wild rumspringa won’t stay in the past, and her mother keeps pressuring her to get married. To placate her mother and get away from former “friends”, she decides to return to Birch Creek to visit family—and pretend to find a husband.

Like Margaret, Owen Bontrager isn’t looking for a spouse, something that’s hard to avoid in Birch Creek, where an ad for brides in the local paper has brought a swarm of single women to the thriving town. When he meets Margaret in an unexpected way, they discover they have more in common than they ever expected. In some ways, they are a perfect match.

Margaret struggles to keep her goal of avoiding romance in order to focus on being a faithful member of the Amish church, and it doesn’t help that she finds Owen intriguing. Knowing they don’t have a future together; she returns home and gives in to her mother’s insistence that she get married.

Can Margaret betray her feelings for Owen and become a dutiful daughter and wife to the man of her mother’s choosing? Or will Owen find a way to free Margaret of her past by giving her the future they both are surprised to find they desire?

Zondervan Publishing, September 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:

Monday, August 23, 2021

GLIMMER IN THE DARKNESS by Robin Patchen, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"If you ever cared about me . . . I need your help. I can't do this by myself."

A desperate plea from a voice from his past, James Sullivan can scarcely believe his eyes or ears. She looks different, older, more mature . . . but amazingly gorgeous. Is Cassidy LeBlanc a cold blooded child killer like everyone in the small town of Coventry seems to believe, or has she been terribly misunderstood and betrayed by the very justice system that should have protected her as the victim of an horrible crime? Right now, it's irrelevant what everyone else believes, James must decide for himself what to do with the terrified woman cowering in his backyard.

As James and Cassidy push their own tragic history into a locked compartment, they race to find a small child who has been kidnapped, presumably by the same person who snatched Cassidy, along with James' young sister, ten years earlier. Cassidy is certain that the child is being hidden in a remote cave, if only they can find it; her recollection of the incident is sketchy at best and filled with tortured memories, the worst being guilt.

What a great story! Extraordinary plot, wonderful characters, intense pace, palpable romance, impressive spiritual depth, and an ending that will satisfy each and every reader with the reminder that we are loved by. . .

"The God of hope . . . He was the God of comfort too, wasn't He? He could handle her hope and her heartbreak. He could handle it all." 

*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb:
From a USA Today bestselling author comes this edge-of-your-seat Christian suspense that will keep you reading all night long.

Nothing could get her home…but this.

Cassidy Leblanc worked hard to shake off her tragic childhood. As a foster child with a mother in prison for murder, she was an outcast in her small New Hampshire town until she met James. But she and James’s sister, whom she was babysitting, were kidnapped. She escaped, but Hallie didn’t survive, and everybody assumed Cassidy killed her. Like mother, like daughter, after all. With public opinion and the authorities united against her, young Cassidy fled. Now, a decade later, another little girl has been kidnapped, and Cassidy may be the only person who can find her.

He doesn’t know who to trust.

James Sullivan never believed that Cassidy killed his sister, no matter what the authorities said. When his best friend’s daughter goes missing a decade after Hallie's murder, James keeps his opinions on the matter to himself. But when he finds Cassidy sneaking around his property, his thoughts turn dark. If she’s not behind the recent kidnapping, what is she doing back in Coventry? Her answer—that she’s returned to find little Ella, and she needs his help—has him reeling. Can he trust Cassidy, despite what the police tell him? If there’s any chance he can save Ella, he has to try.

Danger lurks on the mountain.

Together, they search for the elusive cave where Cassidy and Hallie were taken, but somebody will stop at nothing to make sure they don’t find it or, if they do, that they don’t come out alive.

Pulse-pounding suspense, a second-chance romance, and a precious little girl who needs her daddy. You don't want to miss it. 

January 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:



Thursday, August 19, 2021

THE NATURE OF SMALL BIRDS by Susie Finkbeiner, Reviewed by Rebecca and Paula

"Turns out that small birds are going to fly whether we like it or not. It's no different for our kids."

It's all about letting go, whether through life or death, we all experience the challenge of loving and letting go. It was no different for Bruce and Linda, whose decision to bring a small young "bird" into their home changed their life forever. Mindy had been transported to the United States as part of an historic "baby-lift" out of war torn Saigon. Her fragile psyche was evident, totally opposite from her outgoing older sister Sonny, prompting her new family to rally around her as a protective shield. But sadly, not everyone was a fan. At least not at first, maybe never.

Through-out the pages of this inspiring story, the roles of mother, father, sisters, are beautifully inspected under the microscope of good intentions, and yet there's always the notion that at some point, the little bird will have to fly on her own. . . "We won't be afraid. We will trust in you" . . . the prayer every parent has reason to pray.

"It's the nature of small birds to sing their hearts out. And it's the nature of God to hear them."

In spite of the varying voices and timelines, this was quite a pleasant book to read.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I also purchased a copy. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 3.5 stars
“It’s the nature of small birds to sing their hearts out. And it’s the nature of God to hear them.”

A heartwarming story of a girl who was adopted from Vietnam during Babylift in 1975 and the effect it had on her adoptive family. It is told from three voices: Dad Bruce in 2013, Mom Linda in 1975 and Sister Sonny in 1988. I was amazed by the ability of the author to capture three different characters and time periods. Having been a teen in the late 60s, this story was very nostalgic. My husband and I lived on Guam for four years, leaving in 1975 just before the evacuation of Vietnam. So memories abound.

This is a story of unexpected love and solidity of family. The author has a knack for bringing in the flavor of the eras. She does a great job of getting in the heads of the characters and portraying their foibles and concerns. I most identify with the father, Bruce, maybe because I am around his age. Bruce: “I am a fortunate man who has witnessed God’s new mercies coming whether I deserve them or not... Mixed in with the good and bad is a whole lot of stuff that was just normal everyday living...Rain or sun, storms or calm; nature is good, full of glimmers of God’s glory.” He is shown as having wisdom and having grown in his faith. He is the backbone of the family.

The author delights us with word pictures: “The air is crisp, but not biting. The sun is bright but not blinding. And the busiest crowds in the woods are of the feathered variety.”

This is a stunning book to be savored and learned from, likening small birds to our children.

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*I give this 5 Stars and a solid faith thread.

BackCover Blurb:
In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy's desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he'll lose the daughter he's poured his heart into. Mindy's mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy's sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family--but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

Revell Publishing, July, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover:


Friday, August 13, 2021

CALCULATED By Nova McBee, Reviewed by Kim

I am so glad I took a chance on Calculated by Nova McBee! This YA story is clean, original, intriguing, and has some great characters! I’m so happy there is a sequel and it’s already out!

Jo is such a great character! She’s strong, smart, courageous and you can’t help but wish for her to prevail! Her story is heartbreaking, yet how she deals with adversity and how she grows is truly inspiring. I loved Kai from the moment he appeared on the page! He was so perfect for Jo and for this story! There were also so many secondary characters that I loved, or should I say loved to hate?

I highly recommend this story! I wish there were more clean YA stories out there that were this well written! I cannot wait to read Simulated!
*I purchased this story. It is a clean read. 

BackCover Blurb:
Set in Shanghai and Seattle, Calculated is a gritty, modern day blend of the Count of Monte Cristo and Mission Impossible.

She has many names – Octavia, Double 8, Phoenix, Josephine. She’s a math prodigy, a calculating genius and everyone wants her.

In seventeen-year-old Jo River’s complicated world of numbers, there’s no such thing as coincidence. When she is betrayed by someone she loves, kidnapped by the world’s most wanted smuggler, and forced to use her talent to shore up a criminal empire, Jo deems her gift a curse—until she meets Red.

Fellow captive and unlikely sage, Red teaches Jo to harness her true potential, so she can do more than just escape. Before he dies, Red reveals a secret about her enemies and makes her vow to right his wrongs. But Jo has a vow of her own.

With help from Chan, a bitter billionaire, and Kai, his off-limits son, Jo rises into a new role, ready to take down those who ruined her life. Until a mathematical error comes back to haunt her with a threat much more dangerous than the criminals on the loose.

To beat the odds, Jo must decide who she really is and if risking everything is worth it.

After all, history is not made—it’s calculated.With themes of revenge and forgiveness, loss and identity, brainpower versus brutality, and the triumph of right over might, it will resonate with readers everywhere.

“A high-stakes YA tale of betrayal, revenge, and numbers.” — Kirkus Reviews

WiseWolf Books, Feb. 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:


Thursday, August 12, 2021

WOMAN IN SHADOW by Carrie Stuart Parks, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"So . . . . It's really you who's been living in the shadows."

Sent to a remote area of Idaho to complete her personal restoration process, forensic linguist Darby Graham begins her covert investigation of suspicious incidents at the prestigious Mule Shoe Ranch by picking up two companions, of the canine variety. All the locals can tell her is that the dogs were abandoned by a resident hermit whom they had aptly dubbed the "Shadow Woman". Creatively saving the two pets from extermination by the local sheriff's deputy, Darby is immediately thankful for their companionable instincts, for her intel was correct; something is definitely "off" in Idaho.

Sheriff's Deputy Bram White is instantly intrigued; " . . . for the first time in a very long time, he wanted to get to know a woman. This woman." Could Darby think that he has anything to do with Roy Zaring's issues at the ranch , but then again, who does? The staff? The guests? The locals? There are way too many possibilities, leading Darby for one, to question whether or not she is mentally or physically capable of figuring it all out; after all, no one there knows her full story, nor does she want them to. Maybe teaming with Bram is not a bad idea. After all, he suggested it.

But there is Someone else more than capable of helping her, and He has made a promise that He fully intends to keep; "Be strong and courageous, Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go". Unfortunately, Darby is definitely going to need a hefty dose of divine intervention.

This story has a dizzying array of moving parts and multiple suspects, but don't despair. When your head swims and your heart is on the brink of breaking, remember that the truth will come out of the shadows and into the light, where it should have been all along. What a great story! 

*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 4.5 stars

SEE PAULA'S REVIEW for the book tour!

BackCover Blurb:
Award-winning author Carrie Stuart Parks combines her expertise as a forensic artist with her talent for crafting a gripping story in this page-turning web of light and shadow.

A woman off the grid.

Darby Graham thinks she’s on a much-needed vacation in remote Idaho to relax. But before she even arrives at the ranch, an earthquake strikes. Then a barn on the edge of town is engulfed in flames and strange problems at the ranch begin to escalate, and Darby finds herself immersed in a chilling mystery.

A town on fire.

More fires erupt around town, and a serial arsonist sends taunting letters to the press after each. As a forensic linguist, this is Darby’s area of expertise . . . but the scars her work has caused her are also the reason she’s trying to escape her life.

A growing darkness.

As the shadows continue moving in, pieces of the town around her come into sharper focus. To make it out alive, Darby must decide if she can trust the one man who sees her clearly.
Thomas Nelson, Publisher, July 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:

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