Saturday, September 25, 2021

A MIDNIGHT DANCE by Joanna Davidson Politano, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas


Joanna Davidson Politano is a masterful storyteller, and one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Her newest novel, A Midnight Dance, is an intricately woven tapestry of history, romance, mystery, and inspiration set in London in 1833 and populated with colorful, interesting, multi-layered characters. It’s also a fascinating look at the theatre culture at that time. The heroine, Ella Blythe, is talented and focused, but plagued with feelings of not being good enough. I loved seeing her journey as she let herself be tutored by Jack Dorian.

“The only way you’ll go far is to leap big. You may fly or you may fall, but either way, everyone will be looking at you.”
Although Jack is known as the dance company flirt, his true character is revealed as the story progresses, and he’s definitely a fitting hero. Many twists, turns, and surprises swirl through this tale as it winds its way to the inspirational and emotional end. This is a beautiful story of personal and spiritual growth. 4.5 stars
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell. All opinions are my own. 
 

BackCover Blurb:
All theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most--and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater. Yet as she struggles to maintain her tenuous place in the ever-shrinking ballet company, win the attentions of principal dancer Philippe, and avoid company flirt Jack, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the dead ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own tragic end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the past?

Mystery and romance make the perfect dance partners in this evocative story from fan-favorite Joanna Davidson Politano.

Revell Publishing, September 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy A Midnight Dance at Amazon
Buy A Midnight Dance at Christianbook.com
Buy A Midnight Dance at Baker Book House
 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

UNDER THE BAYOU MOON by Valerie Fraser Luesse, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"I think I'd rather just find somebody I could be quiet with".

Adjusting to her new life in the tiny town of Bernadette, Louisiana, Ellie Field is full of anticipation; she's the new school teacher, and already the locals are filling her head with all sorts of reasons why their children have continually despised going to school. Primarily, the state superintendent has determined that the Cajun language and culture should be sacrificed to progression; Ellie begs to differ.

One of the first people Ellie meets is an enigmatic young fisherman, Raphe Broussard, whose kindness and selflessness has extended out into his community as well as inward towards his young orphaned nephew Remy, who lives with Raphe. As Ellie masters the challenges of teaching multiple grades, Raphe and Remy help her become more and more comfortable in her remote surroundings. But all is not as beautiful as the moonlight on the bayou; danger and greed lurk in the shadows of the tall swamp grasses, along with a well kept secret that hides beneath local lore . . .  the tales of a white alligator are not just a figment of a storyteller's imagination. 

Brimming with Louisiana culture and mystique, this story does have some minor hiccups. Scene changes and time lapses are bumpy and unpredictable, but fortunately the characters rise to every occasion, searing their sense of benevolent community spirit towards each and every family, regardless of race, religion or economic standing, into your conscience. Is there a difference between happiness and contentment? Perhaps, Raphe and Ellie have found the answer to that question.

"Ellie heard - for the first time in her life - the sound of pure contentment, flowing over her like creek water on smooth rocks. And she knew without a doubt that she could listen to it forever."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 3.5 stars

See Paula's Review!

BackCover Blurb:
Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's soon teaching just about everyone--and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.
 
Revell Publishing, August 3, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

THE RESTORING HERITAGE series by Tari Faris, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise


Book #1 in the Series: YOU BELONG WITH ME

This debut novel had so many great elements. I love when a main character wants to preserve history in a small town.

Hannah loves the historic buildings in her town and wants to save them from being torn down for a strip mall. She has great ideas and friends and family rally behind her. But can she pull off the requirements for a contest from a national magazine and win the prize money to begin to rehab her beloved Heritage, Michigan?

As a former foster child, Luke feels that he has never fit in but there are surprises in store that he could not have imagined.

There are two romances that run into obstacles but with introspection and learning to seek God for the answers, disappointments are averted.

“When we hold the broken pieces of our lives too close, they will cut us up inside.”

“When you’ve got nothing left, that’s when you see how real your faith is. Faithh with everything you want is easy. But faith when everything goes wrong? That’s when God alone has to be enough.”

The characters have a lot to learn but they see that God can take broken pieces and make something beautiful.

A feel good story in my favorite setting, a small historic town.
* I won this book in a Just Reads Tour contest in October, 2020. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a strong faith thread 
 
Book#2 in the Series: UNTIL I MET YOU

I loved going back to Heritage, reading about the next two couples to find romance and seeing where Otis the hippo lands this time.

This reminded me of the Prodigal Son. But we also see the Prodigal Brother. With multiple points of view, this is a story of reconciliation and love re-kindled.

Pastor Nate has been redeemed but still holds on to his past. It takes a friend to remind him:”You aren’t called to have the answers. You were called to point to the One who has the answers.”

This is a tight knit community, where everyone knows just about everything, so reputations are on display. I liked how Ms. Faris portrayed the characters as having flaws but after some stubbornness, they learned to let God lead.”When I push God away, He doesn’t force Himself on me. And when I look for Him, He tends to find me.”
The romance is palpable and I loved the gestures by Austin to win Libby. He took her on a surprise date to see the local Carnegie Libraries. She was trying to collect selfies of them. The back and forth with the baggie of change was very funny. Olivia, trying for a newspaper job agrees to do an article on dating. That whole scenario was a hoot, as Nate tries not to be offended or left out.

Great series so far. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.
*I won this book from Just Reads tour in October 2020. All opinions are my own.*
5stars and a strong faith thread.

BOOK #3 in the series: SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE

Welcome back to Heritage, Michigan, one of my favorite fictional places. Small town flavor where some things are not private but where most everyone rallies to support you. Two more couples take center stage.

Leah and Jon are coming back to town, Jon to take over the family business and Leah to resurrect the legacy her grandfather left behind. They team up to open a unique store that sells items Made In Michigan, hoping to make Heritage proud.

Colby, famous for his Christian music, is in retreat mode after some career trouble. Madison, the redeemed bad girl, is making a fresh start and rehabbing her childhood home.

Ms. Faris brings her characters to life with messy choices and complicated situations. But they come through struggles with faith and realistic solutions. There is angst, humor and touching romance.

And as always, the mystery of wandering Otis, the huge metal hippo town mascot.

“Love is letting someone in and trusting them even though they have the potential to break your heart.

“Failure can be a good thing, but you have to learn from it and fail forward. Let the failure push you on to something greater.”

Not only is this a story about restoring a town, but it is a story of restoring lives and keeping the heritage of families alive.

If you love romance, struggles, spiritual growth and happy endings, you will love this series.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Reads program. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and a strong faith thread. 
Find the single books or series in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook...

Visit Tari's Amazon page for more information



 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

CROSSED LINES by Jennifer Delamere, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

I always enjoy Jennifer Delamere’s books, so I was excited to read Crossed Lines, the second book in her Love Along the Wires series. With a setting in London in 1881 and a cast of colorful, realistic, and endearing characters, this book brought to life the world of the telegraph office. I enjoyed learning more about this little slice of history while enjoying a charming romance.

“God has a way of know our needs and providing for them, even before we know what they are. You must trust in His timing.”

Emma Sutton is a cheerful, likeable telegraph operator who is longing for marriage and her own home. Mitchell is an engaging, hard-working, and enamored of Emma. When his friend Christopher falls for Emma, also, he agrees to help Christopher. I enjoyed seeing how this love triangle played out. The author has penned a delightful, well-written story, and I’m excited to see what she has in store for Rose in the next book of the series.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House. All opinions are my own.

See Paula's Review!

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, September 20, 2021

SARAH'S CHOICE by Pegg Thomas, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"If life was a choice . . . . . . ."

There were many days when Sarah Feight wondered why she had survived. Having experienced unspeakable horrors, she was haunted by the memory of losing her beloved husband and extended family in the dead of one night, crushing her idyllic life on Pennsylvania's wild frontier. Sarah's future could have been forever marred, but for the one who had rescued; a freighter named Leith McCully who arrived on the grisly scene, gently prying Sarah's hands away from her husband's lifeless body before carrying Sarah to the relative safety of Fort Pitt. If only that had been the whole of her story.

"If he was reading her right, she was choosing whether or not she wanted to live. What could he say to persuade her?"

Sarah Feight was exactly the kind of woman the frontier needed if she could overcome her debilitating sorrow. Leith McCully would be blind not to notice all of her outward attributes, but it was her strength of character that was even more attractive. Little by little it appeared that the young widow was beginning to trust him, but would it be enough? "The least he could do was to see after (her) welfare . . . he wasn't going to fail her".

This story embodies the essence of love and loss on the American frontier. Filled with real and imaginary characters. its pages boldly declare a tale of admirable tenacity in the face of a rapidly changing American landscape. Sarah faces many, many challenges and a myriad of choices; some of her decisions seem questionable but understandable. Others are nothing short of courageous. Enjoy this peek back in time, when nothing or no one but God himself stayed the same.

"She hadn't imagined anything good rising from the ashes of such a tragedy. How very wrong she'd been."
*3.5 stars. I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a review.

BackCover Blurb:
Sarah Feight has her life planned with a loving husband, a promising new settlement, and big dreams to shape the future of trade on Pennsylvania’s frontier. An Indian attack at dawn changes everything.

When he pulls his freight wagons into Fort Pitt, Leith McCully never dreams he’ll be conscripted into the militia and ordered to defend the fort. Worried about trader friends on his delivery route, he rides to their settlement and returns with Sarah, the only survivor.

Fort Pitt is crowded to twice its capacity with the settlers who have taken refuge there and surrounded by the rising smoke of burned-out settlements. Tempers flare, disease breaks out, and the constant fear of the next attack has everyone on edge.

Cully keeps an eye on Sarah because he feels responsible for her. And, though he doesn’t admit as much, she tugs at his heart. Sarah sees Cully as the last link to her past. A friend of her husband’s family. She’s going to need someone she can trust, and she trusts Cully. Her rescuer.

Are trust and admiration enough to help them survive the siege and its devastating consequences? Is there any hope for a future beyond?
 
 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

WHEN THE PILOT FALLS by April Hayman, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Book three in the Ever After Mysteries.

Travel back to the days of bi-wing planes and stunt shows in this intriguing tale of hidden pasts and thwarted love. Set during prohibition, this story has the glamour of Hollywood stunt flying and a criminal family feud.

The heroine, Willie, is a female stunt pilot with tenacity who will not let obstacles like crashing her plane get in her way. The hero, Hugh, is a man of conviction and stands by his word.

This was an engaging, exciting story and took us into the world of a mobster kingpin and his manipulative daughter. A nice, quick read with a solid faith thread and justice prevailing.
*I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
4 stars and. a solid faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
In 1923, there aren’t many pilots, but Willie Labeau didn’t let that stop… her.

A bear of a man, Hugh Taylor, needs a stunt plane pilot, and despite their rocky introduction, Willie sets off for golden California and a new life as his pilot. There’s just one little thing she has to do in addition to flying.

Leave his past alone. Period.

When the flame of her own curiosity becomes fanned by encouragement from Willie’s sister, the feisty pilot can’t help but do just a little investigating.

And Hugh vanishes.

Friends rally around her, and with all the information she can find in hand, Willie sets off to rescue Hugh and battle the evil family holding him hostage.

A fierce air race, a sincere act of humility—are they enough to free Hugh and give Willie a chance to be with him… forever?Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. When the Pilot Falls offers a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch hearts soar and daring dos. 

Celebrate Lit Publishing, September 2021




Saturday, September 18, 2021

UNDER THE TEXAS MISTLETOE: A Trio of Christmas Historical Romance Novellas by Karen Witemeyer, Reviewed by Trixi, Paula, and Winnie


TRIXI'S REVIEW:
I love novella story collections, and Witemeyer is one of many favorite authors. To have three stories in one book by her is like getting an early Christmas present! You'll also find some bonus material which includes a couple of her favorite recipes, fun facts about nineteenth-century Christmas celebrations and a hope-filled Christmas devotion. So without further ado, here's my review on each novella:

A Texas Christmas Carol
I loved this fun take on one of my favorite Christmas movies “A Christmas Carol”! Instead of Ebenezer, our hero is a Scrooge-like bachelor named Evan Beazer, and our heroine is Felicity Wiggins. She decides to take on the mission of enlisting Evan's monetary and physical help to distribute Christmas baskets and bring him Christmas cheer (in spite of his grumpiness). It's fun to watch her break down the walls he's built, and touch his hidden tender heart! Witemeyer references the biblical story of the persistent widow when it comes to the tenacity Felicity shows. It also has a deeper meaning to the story that I think readers will enjoy, the real reason behind Christmas. The epilogue was my favorite, and very heartwarming. I found this to be a tender love story and a fun take on a favorite Christmas tale.

An Archer Family Christmas
I've read every one of the Archer brother stories, so to see them all come together for a Christmas celebration was purely delightful! Watching the children's excitement along with the adults definitely got me in an early Christmas mood. There's a bit of danger to add a little spice to this story, but I love how Jim Archer plays the hero to save his wife. The ending was sweet and brought some tears to my eyes. If you've read the Archer Brothers stories, (if not, you should!), you'll love this extra addition!

Gift of the Heart
Since my favorite Biblical story is Ruth and Naomi, this held a special place in my heart. I really enjoyed the nod to scripture. Widow Ruth Fulbright and her daughter Naomi relocate to Hope Springs, Texas two years after her husband’s death. Taking the job as a cook at the Homespun Cafe, she hopes to start a better life for her and her daughter. In the meantime, she meets her landlord, Beauregard Azlin—or Bo for short. Thus begins their happily-ever-after story, and while this may sound too perfect, it has a few rocky places they both must navigate. Ruth is good for Bo in boosting his self-confidence and in return, Bo is good for Ruth in resurrecting feelings she thought buried with her husband. Naomi is the glue that binds them together! I love her spunky spirit, her childlike view of the world and her compassion for one stray cat lovingly nicknamed Teddy. Talking about the tabby, he contributes his own quirkiness and personality to the mix. A mish-mash family whose love story is hard earned and has a satisfying end. Witemeyer inserts her trademark humor that had me laughing out loud in quite a few spots and her characters are ones I would have enjoyed meeting. Too bad it's not real because I could make a life in Hope Springs myself! A delightful story with a Biblical twist.
* I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House on behalf of the author and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *

PAULA'S REVIEW:
Delightful trio of stories with great bonuses: a Baby Jesus devotional, a nice summary of traditions and two sweet recipes.

A Texas Christmas Carol:
Clever Texas Twist on an old favorite. Great play on names. Evan has a heart that has turned hard and cynical but Felicity is determined to thaw it. Watch as a beautiful transformation takes place, and for the true meaning of Christmas to shine through.

An Archer Family Christmas:
A family Christmas gathering turns into a fight for the life of a newborn and hope for Cass and Jim Archer. The author once again brings faith and family together and shows the Archer clan can pose a formidable united front.

Gift of the Heart:
Reminiscent of the story of Ruth and Boaz. Widow Ruth with her small daughter, Naomi, starts a new life in a resort town as a cook. The only thing of value she has is an heirloom brooch that she uses for collateral. Resort owner Bo keeps it for her in exchange for rent on a cottage. Ms. Witemeyer spins a beautiful Christmas time story of new beginnings with wit and romance.
*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.*
5 stars and a solid faith thread.

WINNIE'S REVIEW:

Under the Texas Mistletoe is a collection of novellas guaranteed to get you in the Christmas mood and delight your heart. Karen Witemeyer’s historical romance stories are always well-written and populated with colorful, endearing characters that the reader can relate to and grow to love. All three of the stories in this book are charming. While my favorite is Gift of the Heart, I also enjoyed the other two, A Texas Christmas Carol and An Archer Family Christmas. Sprinkled through the book are additional Christmas goodies—recipes, a devotion, and some fun Christmas facts.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy clean, wholesome, uplifting historical romances.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author and Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.


BackCover Blurb:
Three Charming and Festive Holiday Novellas Spiced with Humor, Frontier Action, and Sweet Romance

In this 3-in-1 novella collection, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer presents the new story "A Texas Christmas Carol," in which a town's wealthy, Scrooge-like bachelor finds his world invaded by a woman set on earning his donation for helping the local poor, and by the penetrating questions of three mysterious visitors.

It also includes, for the first time in print, "An Archer Family Christmas." When the Archer clan gathers for the Christmas holiday, an unexpected request for help leaves Cassandra Archer directly in the path of a dangerous outlaw. Desperate to protect the woman he loves, Jim Archer races to the rescue, only to find that Cassie's life is not the only one in peril. It will take a Christmas miracle--and the entire Archer clan--to keep a second Archer Christmas from ending in disaster.

In previously published "Gift of the Heart," a widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs for a fresh start. But with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love as the holidays draw near?

Sprinkled throughout the collection, you'll find a hope-filled Christmas devotion, Witemeyer holiday recipes, and fun facts about nineteenth-century Christmas celebrations!

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

Friday, September 17, 2021

TO WRITE A WRONG by Jen Turano, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

 

“I would hate to leave her swooning on the front vestibule before she’s had a chance to convince everyone she’s a sophisticated woman of the world.”

I’m loving Jen Turano’s Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency series. I just finished Daphne Beekman’s story in To Write a Wrong and what a treat it was! In true Turano fashion, this book is filled with colorful, engaging characters that charm their way into your heart. Daphne is a writer who is also a member of the Inquiry Agency, although in limited ways.

“I was once pressed into service because I was the only one that fit into a Cleopatra costume.

When she meets Herman Henderson who wants to hire the agency to find out who’s trying to kill him, sparks begin to fly and mayhem starts.

“I fear the lure of an honest-to-goodness murder investigation is too tempting to ignore.”

Turano is a pro at dreaming up ridiculous and fun settings and situations to place her characters in. I adored Daphne and Herman and enjoyed seeing their relationship change and grow. The stellar cast of supporting characters added to the delightful tale, and I loved seeing some of the people from the previous book in the series show up in this one.

“Tell me, though, why do you and your friends prefer talk of sentence structure over poison? Poison would be far more interesting.”

With plenty of action, suspense, a dash of romance, and lots of crazy antics, this book is a great addition to my keeper shelf. I’m looking forward to reading Eunice’s story in the next book of the series. 4.5 stars
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the Bethany House Publishing. All opinions are my own.
See Paula's Review!

BackCover Blurb:
Miss Daphne Beekman is a mystery writer by day, inquiry agent by night. Known for her ability to puzzle out plots, she prefers working behind the scenes for the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, staying well away from danger. However, Daphne soon finds herself in the thick of an attempted murder case she's determined to solve.

Mr. Herman Henderson is also a mystery writer, but unlike the dashing heroes he pens, he lives a quiet life, determined to avoid the fate of his adventurous parents, who perished on an expedition when he was a child. But when he experiences numerous attempts on his life, he seeks out the services of the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency to uncover the culprit. All too soon, Herman finds himself stepping out of the safe haven of his world and into an adventure he never imagined.

As the list of suspects grows and sinister plots are directed Daphne's way as well, Herman and Daphne must determine who they can trust and if they can risk the greatest adventure of all: love.
 
Bethany House Publishing, August 3, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

RUN AGROUND and DEAD RECKONING (Lantern Beach MayDay Series #1, and #2) by Christy Barritt, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

RUN AGROUND (Lantern Beach MayDay Series, Book #1)

"A man lay on the floor in front of her, blood covering the chest of his white uniform. . . . . . It was Captain Bridgemore."

What a way to begin a potential new career path, discovering the captain of a luxurious yacht, the "Almost Paradise", murdered on the deck. Former med student Kenzie Anderson had certainly not figured that into her plans, nor had she imagined meeting a man like Jimmie James Gamble who came to her rescue not once, but twice in twenty-four hours no less; a Lantern Beach resident with a lot of sea-faring experience, but in spite of his kind, heroic nature wielded a questionable past.

Surprisingly, after the local police cleared the crime scene, the boat's owner granted Jimmie James captainship of the cruise. Unfortunately, instead of clear sailing, Kenzie and Jimmie James find themselves "running aground".

What a good book! Great characters, who instantly connect in ways they never anticipated, and wily criminals whose identities remain hidden until the very end. It was wonderful to stretch Jimmy James' persona into a story of his own, for he has been a enigmatic minor character through-out the entire Lantern Beach series. Let the "mayday" continue!
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb:
A dead captain on a luxury yacht leads to a tumultuous seafaring journey . . .

Med student Kenzie Anderson, tired of letting others chart her future, accepts a job as second steward aboard Almost Paradise. But when she finds the captain dead before the charter even begins, her plans seem to capsize.

Jimmy James Gamble senses something vulnerable and slightly naive about Kenzie when he finds her on the docks. Realizing danger may still be lingering close, he uses his hidden skills to earn a place on the charter. But being there causes him to risk everything—especially as more suspicious incidents occur.

As they set out to sea, Kenzie and Jimmy James both wonder if they’re in over their heads. They must figure out how to stop a killer before anyone onboard is hurt . . . otherwise, both their futures might just run aground.

Lantern Beach Mayday is a three book series.

DEAD RECKONING (Lantern Beach MayDay Series, Book #2)

"Kenzie, do you know what a 'dead reckoning' is?"

Kenzie Anderson wasn't sure that she knew much of anything for sure . . . especially after reportedly seeing a woman strangled to death before being tossed over the side of a boat . . . especially when there was no woman in the water and no one on the boat.

But one person believed her, Jimmy James Gamble. Thank goodness for Jimmy James. Although their friendship had been strengthened through adversity, it looked like they were moving towards more . . until they weren't . . . and then they were . . . . . thrown together into the middle of yet another murderous conundrum aboard the luxury yacht, "Almost Paradise".

Kenzie and Jimmy James might have a few important details to figure out in their personal lives, but one thing was as certain as the ocean tides. . . nothing would be resolved if they didn't make it back to Lantern Beach.

A great cruise forward in this attention getting Lantern Beach Mayday series!
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb:
A yachtie fears for her life when she’s the only witness to a murder . . .

Kenzie Anderson knows what she saw at the harbor—a woman strangled and pushed overboard. But there’s no proof of a crime . . . only her word.

Jimmy James Gamble believes Kenzie, even if no one else does. As he senses the danger in the air, all he wants is to keep her away from any more trouble—especially after their last charter. Either Kenzie or the yacht they’re working on seem to be a magnet for murder and mayhem.

Someone is willing to kill to get what he wants—and will do so again if necessary. Can Jimmy James and Kenzie navigate these unfamiliar waters? Or will relying on dead reckoning lead them to their deaths?

BUY: The Lantern Beach MayDay Series is available as digital ebooks or paperbacks at Amazon:


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

TRACE OF DOUBT by DiAnn Mills, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #Tour #Giveaway #Review!

Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills

Synopsis:

Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.

Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

Praise for Trace of Doubt:

"Well-researched... with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy." – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart... Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – JLYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREATand ONE FINAL BREATH

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 7th 2021
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 1496451856 (ISBN13: 9781496451859)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Tyndale | Books-A-Million | Murder By The Book | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

SHELBY

Would I ever learn? I’d spent too many years looking out for someone else, and here I was doing the same thing again. Holly had disappeared after I sent her to the rear pantry for potatoes. She’d been gone long enough to plant and dig them up. I needed to get those potatoes boiling to feed hungry stomachs.

I left the kitchen to find her. The hallway to the pantry needed better lighting or maybe fewer corners. In any event, uneasiness swirled around me like a dust storm.

A plea to stop met my ears. I raced to the rear pantry fearing what I’d find.

Four women circled Holly. One held her arms behind her back, and the other three took turns punching her small body. My stomach tightened. I’d been in her shoes, and I’d do anything to stop the women from beating her.

“Please, stop,” Holly said through a raspy breath. For one who was eighteen years old, she looked fifteen.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I forced my voice to rise above my fear of them.

“Stay out of it, freak.”

I’d run into this woman before, and she had a mean streak. “What’s she done to you?” I eyed the woman.

“None of your business unless you want the same.”

“It’s okay, Shelby. I can handle this.” Holly’s courageous words would only earn her another fist to her battered face.

And it did.

“Enough!” I drew my fists and stepped nose to nose with the leader.

The four turned on me. I’d lived through their beatings before, and I would again. I fell and the kicks to my ribs told me a few would be broken.

A whistle blew, and prison guards stopped the gang from delivering any more blows to Holly or me. They clamped cuffs on the four and left Holly and me on the floor with reassurance help was on its way.

I’d been her age once and forced to grow up fast. No one had counseled me but hard knocks, securing an education, and letting Jesus pave the way. I’d vowed to keep my eyes and ears open for others less fortunate.

Holly’s lip dripped blood and a huge lump formed on the side of her head. I crawled to her. “Are you okay?”

“Not sure. Thank you for standing up for me. I thought they would kill me. Why do they do this? I’ve never done a thing to them.”

“Because they can. They want to exert power, control. Stick by me, and I’ll do my best to keep you safe.”

CHAPTER 1

I tightened my grip on the black trash bag slung over my shoulder containing my personal belongings—parole papers, a denim shoulder bag from high school, a ragged backpack, fifty dollars gate money, my driver’s license at age sixteen, and the clothes I’d worn to prison fifteen years ago.

The bus slowed to pick me up outside the prison gates, its windshield wipers keeping pace with the downpour. The rain splattered the flat ground in a steady cadence like a drum leading a prisoner to execution. I stepped back to avoid the splash of muddy water from the front tires dipping into a pothole. Air brakes breathed in and out, a massive beast taking respite from its life labors.

The door hissed open. At the top of the steps, a balding driver took my ticket, no doubt recognizing the prison’s release of a for- mer inmate. He must have been accustomed to weary souls who’d paid their debts to society. The coldness glaring from his graphite eyes told me he wagered I’d be locked up again within a year. Maybe less. I couldn’t blame him. The reoffend stats for female convicts like me soared high.

For too many years, I imagined the day I left prison would be bathed in sunlight. I’d be enveloped in welcoming arms and hear encouraging words from my family.

Reality hosted neither.

I moved to the rear of the bus, past a handful of people, and found a seat by myself. All around me were those engrossed in their devices. My life had been frozen in time, and now that I had permission to thaw, the world had changed. Was I ready for the fear digging its claws into my heart?

The cloudy view through the water-streaked window added to my doubts about the future. I’d memorized the prison rules, even prayed through them, and now I feared breaking one unknowingly.

The last time I’d breathed free air, riding the bus was a social gathering—in my case, a school bus. Kids chatted and laughter rose above the hum of tires. Now an eerie silence had descended.

I hadn’t been alone then.

My mind drifted back to high school days, when the future rested on maintaining a 4.0 average and planning the next party. Maintaining my grades took a fraction of time, while my mind schemed forbidden fun. I’d dreamed of attending college and exploring the world on my terms.

Rebellion held bold colors, like a kaleidoscope shrouded in black light. The more I shocked others, the more I plotted something darker. My choices often seemed a means of expressing my creativity. While in my youth I viewed life as a cynic. By the time I was able to see a reflection of my brokenness and vowed to change, no one trusted me.

All that happened . . .

Before I took the blame for murdering my brother-in-law. Before I traded my high school diploma and a career in interior design for a locked cell.

Before I spent years searching for answers.

Before I found new meaning and purpose.

How easy it would be to give in to a dismal, gray future when I longed for blue skies. I had to prove the odds against me were wrong.

***

Excerpt from Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2021 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

 
PAULA'S REVIEW:

“This is beginnin’ to sound like a movie where I can’t predict the endin’”

A dark story of secrets and manipulation. Ms. Mills is a master of intricate storylines and crafts an evil and seriously dangerous mastermind.

“What kind of circumstances mold us into stronger people, the easy path or the challenges?”

After serving 15 years for murder, Shelby Pearce is trying to make a fresh start, when she receives several threats. A pall hangs over her and she is so grateful when she meets Christians who befriend her. It remains to be seen whether the hardened criminal is inside or outside of prison.

Shelby is a new creature in Christ and only wants to protect those she loves. “ ‘Oh Lord, you have established my heart and know everything about me!’ Trusting Him superseded everything else.”

I was excited to learn that Shelby crafted her own jewelry because I also make jewelry. And we order from the same place! I respected her resourcefulness in marketing her designs. It seemed the perfect therapy for her.

Denton, her neighbor, has a hidden past and it is about to collide with Shelby’s. He had a Christian upbringing but has let circumstances cloud his judgment. Fortunately, there is redemption and a stronger faith in store for both of them.
Intense and realistic with a fresh perspective, this book was an exciting glimpse into a devious mind.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Partners In Crime Tours. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and a strong faith thread

Check Out This Fab Trailer for Trace of Doubt:

 

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed:
DiAnnMills.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @DiAnnMills
Instagram - @DiAnnMillsAuthor
Twitter - @DiAnnMills
Facebook - @DiAnnMills

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

 

 

Join In:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners who will each receive one gift card. Winners may select either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 1 through October 3, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

THE HEART OF SPLENDID LAKE by Amy Clipston, Reviewed by Kim #ReleaseDay

The Heart of Splendid Lake is my first read by Amy Clipston. When I first started reading, I was immediately drawn into the story by the writing style, the small town feel, and the characters. When Scott and Brianna first met, I was sure this was going to be my kind of story.

Sadly, as I continued to read, I realized that this was not the fun and light story that I had hoped for. Without going into spoilers, right after Scott and Brianna meet, things turned heavy and sad. This continued pretty much throughout the story. I also really struggled with the love triangle, which, in my opinion, went on way too long.

While this story was not for me, I really did like the writing style and the many of the characters. I also think I will be in the minority with this review, but I just wanted something that was lighter.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. The faith thread is light. 

BackCover Blurb:
Bestselling author Amy Clipston transports readers to a picturesque lakeside town in this heartwarming contemporary romance.

Brianna is the youngest of the three Porter sisters and the only one who chose to stay in the small town of Splendid Lake, North Carolina. She followed in her father’s footsteps and became an expert boat mechanic, helping him run their small resort with cabin rentals, a convenience store, and a marina.

When Brianna’s father unexpectedly dies, Brianna is steeped in grief and guilt—then left alone to clean up the mess. To make matters worse, a constant stream of real estate brokers begins marching through her property, offering to buy the family land. In particular, she keeps running into handsome real estate mogul Scott Gibson.

As Brianna struggles to keep it all together, Scott finds his way into her heart. And as the two fight against their feelings, they just might find themselves forging a surprising and exciting new love at Splendid Lake.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, September, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy The Heart of Splendid Lake at Amazon
Buy The Heart of Splendid Lake at Christianbook.com
Buy The Heart of Splendid Lake at Baker Book House

Sunday, September 12, 2021

HOSTILE INTENT by Lynette Eason, Reviewed by Nicole, Rebecca, and Paula

NICOLE'S REVIEW:
Hostile Intent, the fourth installment in award winning author Lynette Eason’s Danger Never Sleeps series, is a satisfying conclusion and my personal favorite in the series.

Childhood friends, hints of romance, and a thrilling and realistic storyline that will have readers eagerly wanting to find out what happens next...the recipe for a wonderful romantic suspense novel. Although the romance is a bit lighter than I generally prefer, the brilliant and captivating storyline and thorough character development makes this book a must read for fans of romantic suspense.

Hostile Intent is highly recommended for readers of romantic suspense, especially those who enjoy books by authors such as Dani Pettrey, Lynn H. Blackburn, Rachel Dylan, and Irene Hannon.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine. Faith Content rating: light

REBECCA'S REVIEW:
"I need to talk to you about something . . . . A murder that you may be somehow mixed up in."

So many questions; so very few answers. Ava Jackson had simply been living her life as quietly as possible, having requested and received an early discharge from the Navy in order to oversee the care of her critically ill mother and to support her younger brother through medical school. Following the unexpected death of her father, and while still grieving, the last thing that Ava expected on her way through a dark parking lot on that fateful evening was an attempt on her life; thank goodness her friend, FBI Agent Caden Denning, had good timing.

Subsequently, Caden's questions about her possible connection to the recent murder of nearly an entire family leave Ava wondering if the time has finally come to delve deeper into her father's past. Can she trust Caden to handle family secrets, maybe even help her make sense of them all? Sure, Ava had crushed on him as a teenager, the hunky older brother of one of her best friends, but the kinds of feelings the man stirs up as an adult are totally different and if she would admit it, come rather close to being defined as attraction.

What a brilliant, tantalizing thriller! With a killer who exhibits no remorse, only unadulterated revenge and a body count that keeps rising, surprisingly it may be the characters in this book who are long remembered for the tender authenticity with which they respond to each other; keeping the reader emotionally engaged and providing pleasant breathing room between high speed scenarios. Ultimately it will come down to this, will Ava and Caden survive long enough to enjoy that elusive "third date"?
* I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a review.

PAULA'S REVIEW:
I have not read a Lynette Eason book that I have not loved. This fourth book in the series Danger Never Sleeps reminds me of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with its cast of characters from FBI, CIA and other agencies. It is another thrilling story with cameos of characters from previous books. I like that this group of friends is there for each other when one needs support, be it physical, spiritual or emotional.

This was a wild ride for Ava and Caden, childhood friends who are becoming closer as they track a killer. The story was fast-paced with lots of action and many questions to be answered, along with interesting information about puzzles, hacking, and what makes a criminal tick. Ava and Caden try their best to thwart the person who is after Ava and seek to outwit him before he succeeds in kidnapping her. But other emergencies get in the way and the killer will not let up!

Fantastic ending to a terrific series that cements Ms. Eason as an all time favorite author.
*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.*5 stars and a strong faith thread


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Secrets are about to be revealed . . . but will the guilty be brought to justice?

Ava Jackson entered the military shortly after high school, but her mother's illness has forced her to request an early discharge. She already lost her father while deployed, and there's no way she's going to let her mother die alone. But after a visit to the nursing facility where her mother lives, Ava is attacked walking back to her car. Fortunately, FBI Special Agent Caden Denning arrives in time to help fight off her attacker.

Caden reveals to Ava that she may hold the key to the murders of three families, and he needs her help before anyone else is harmed. The hits show a pattern, and clearly the killer has an agenda. But if Caden and Ava can't discover what it is, Ava may be next on the hit list.

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Danger Never Sleeps, Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.


 

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson, Reviewed by Winnie

Although I love Regency fiction, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque is a quite different type of story than I usually read. I decided to stretch myself a little and see what this author could do with a legal suspense book set during that time. This is the first book I’ve read by Todd M. Johnson, and, overall, I felt like it was good solid writing. While the beginning started out a little slow for me, I soon got invested in the story and was looking forward to finding out how barrister William Snopes was going to get Lady Madeleine Jameson and Captain Tuttle out of the mess they were in.

The story flowed well, was carefully crafted, and the author kept the suspense up and the twists and turns coming. I enjoyed learning more about the workings of the legal profession in Regency England. The characters were well-written and engaging. I especially liked getting to know William Snopes and Madeleine Jamison and seeing their relationship grow and change. I wouldn’t mind more tales about William Snopes.

With plenty of intrigue, suspense, historical detail, and dashes of romance and inspiration, this book has something for everyone and should especially appeal to those who enjoy historical mysteries.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.

see Paula's, Trixi's and Kim's Reviews
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:

 



Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

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.

Pinterest