Tuesday, January 31, 2023

WHAT I WOULD TELL YOU by Liz Tolsma, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise


“Fear is more than an emotion. It is the captivity of your soul to the unknown.” Mathilda Nissim

What I Would Tell You is a story of discovery encompassing two time periods. In 2019, Tessa seeks to find her Jewish roots as she travels by herself to Thessaloniki, Greece, to uncover secrets no one has told her. Mathilda, in 1941, discovers how she can overcome the harsh occupation by the Germans by not giving up. She pens a diary to record her thoughts as she struggles daily and set down all the things she wants to tell her infant daughter. This diary is what Tessa reads in her quest for answers to her ancestry.

Tessa and Mathilda both hold on to the grace of God in their stressful circumstances. “We do not find our identity in the blood that flows through our veins but in Christ.” Both learn what it means for a mother to sacrifice for her daughter.

This is a moving story of faith and hope. Lately there have been several stories dealing with the treatment of Jews during WWII. I commend these authors for keeping this part of history from being forgotten or covered up.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Review Crew. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*4 stars and a Strong faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
Determined to resist the invading Nazis, a Greek Jewish woman's greatest dream has become her worst nightmare, and now she faces an impossible choice whose consequences echo across the generations.

1941—The pounding of Nazi boots on the streets of Salonika, Greece, reverberates in Mathilda Nissim’s ears, shaking her large community of Sephardic Jews to its core and altering her life forever. If only her people would rise up and resist their captors. At great risk to herself and those around her, she uses the small newspaper she publishes to call them to action, all to no avail. Her husband encourages her to trust God to watch over them, but God has once again deserted His people. Amid the chaos, Mathilda discovers she’s expecting a longed-for child. Still, nothing stops the occupiers’ noose from tightening around their necks, and she may have to resort to desperate measures to ensure her daughter’s survival.

2019—College student Tessa Payton and her cousin take a popular DNA heritage test only to discover they don’t share any common ancestors. In fact, the test reveals Tessa is a Greek Sephardic Jew. This revelation threatens her tenuous faith. Always the overlooked child in her family, she empties her savings account and jets off on a journey to Greece to discover where she belongs and which God demands her allegiance. The enchanting curator at the Jewish museum guides her as she navigates life in Thessaloniki, helps with her genealogical research, and loans her a fascinating journal written by a Jewish woman during WWII. Tessa’s search, however, may open old wounds and uncover long-hidden secrets that could fracture her family forever and leave her with more questions than when she started.

Based in part on true accounts of Jews in Salonika, Greece, What I Would Tell You traces two women’s journeys, delving into what faith looks like and where it leads us as they navigate difficult circumstances and impossible choices that have ripple effects across the years. 

Barbour Publishing, January, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook

Monday, January 30, 2023

DEPENDING ON THE COWBOY by Jill Kemerer, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

I can always count on a delightful and charming read when I pick up a book by Jill Kemerer. She is a master at writing clean and wholesome small-town stories with engaging, realistically-flawed, and relatable characters. Depending on the Cowboy stars Blaine Mayer and Sienna Powell in a touching and uplifting story of renewed friendship which grows into more. Blaine is a wonderful hero who is so compassionate and helpful to Sienna and her niece and nephew. I especially loved how he was a great role model to Connor. Although this is the fourth book in Kemerer’s Wyoming Ranchers series, it can easily be read alone. I would recommend this to those who enjoy sweet and clean books.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. 

BackCover Blurb:
The most reliable man

Could be the cowboy right in front of her.

Blaine Mayer’s life gets complicated when his high school crush, Sienna Powell—pregnant and recently divorced—comes to stay on his family’s ranch. He needs to focus on the cattle but can’t stop spending time with her. As Sienna’s visit nears its end, Blaine hates the thought of her walking out of his life for good. Can he prove to Sienna that he’s the man she needs?

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

A Wyoming Ranchers Novel
Book 1: The Prodigal's Holiday Hope
Book 2: A Cowboy to Rely On
Book 3: The Mistletoe Favor
Book 4: Depending on the Cowboy
Book 5: The Cowboy's Little Secret

Love Inspired, January, 2023
Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy DEPENDING ON THE COWBOY at Amazon, or Christianbook .com

Sunday, January 29, 2023

WITHIN THESE WALLS OF SORROW by Amanda Barratt, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

“There is evil and there is good and there is the space between. We are given free will to choose where we stand. Evil thrives when good men choose the space between.”

Talented author Amanda Barratt has penned a heart-wrenching and riveting tale of courage, endurance, and hope in her book Within These Walls of Sorrow. Based on actual happenings in Poland during World War II, this is not an easy book to read, and I’ll admit I had to break it into smaller segments so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the evidence of man’s inhumanity to others. Barratt’s superb writing brings to life the horrors of the Jewish plight during the war as she tells the story of two women whose lives intertwine in Krakow. Zosia is a young widow who finds work in a pharmacy within the Krakow ghetto, and Hania is a Jewish neighbor whose family is forced into the ghetto.

“Even as I tell myself I would not stand by, one does not know until the moment comes. Courage is strong until it is tested.”
This compelling story makes the reader question if they would have the courage to help those who are oppressed at the peril of their own lives. The staff of the pharmacy, which actually existed, were so courageous amidst the extreme danger. The horrors of the Krakow ghetto, work camps, and concentration camps were not glossed over by the author. Her deep and careful research is evident as she describes what these people went through. I admire her courage in telling this story, as I’m sure it was hard to do the research required, as well as to build the story around it the atrocities that were committed.

“Strength is not to live without fear but to live in spite of it.”

“There is no darkness strong enough to snatch us from the hand of the One who created us.”

“Fear can be endured, but nothing is harder to bear than the loss of hope.”

This book is a book of heartache, grief, and loss, but the overall message is of courage, faith, and hope. It’s also a book of remembering the dark times of the past and working to assure history doesn’t repeat itself.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Kregel Publications on behalf of the author. All opinions are my own.


BackCover Blurb:

Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany's invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression.

Hania Silverman's carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto's population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania's natural resiliency is exhausted by reality.

Zodia and Hania's lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart.

Amanda Barratt's meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times. 

Kregel Publishing, January, 2023
Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy WITHIN THESE WALLS OF SORROW at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House



Saturday, January 28, 2023

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT by Christina Suzann Nelson, Reviewed by Paula and Kim

A child missing for 36 years. How could Faith not help discover what happened to her friend Heather. Someone must know something. “After all these years, there was no time to waste in finding them. A family needed answers. Faith needed answers.”

This was an exceptional story written from three points of view: Heather tells of her summer of 1987. Her mother, Dora, and her best friend, Faith, are looking back at that fateful summer.

Dora has not navigated the last 36 years well. Her other daughter, Brooke, asks for help from Faith who does a podcast called WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Finding herself at loose ends for the summer, she agrees to return to Deep Valley, Oregon to try and find those answers that were never resolved.

This book is more than a mystery. It is a look at types of grief and how grief is handled or mishandled. And a continuing look at how grief shapes our lives. It poses solutions for coping through steadfast faith.

I have enjoyed several books by Ms. Nelson and she always makes me rethink my priorities as well as spinning an intriguing and complex story.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House on behalf of the author. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a strong faith thread 5 stars and a strong faith thread

What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson is a deeply engrossing story that I literally did not want to put down. I was so invested in these characters and this story that I had to find out what happened that summer all those years ago.

Faith, Nate and Heather were best friends the summer they were 10. Thirty six years later, Faith comes back to Deep Valley, where Nate and Faith work together to try and solve the mystery of Heather's disappearance all those years ago. This story not only solves the mystery, but explores grief and how different people grieve differently. I normally don't like to read stories that are so heavy, but this author has such a wonderful writing style and ability to tell such engrossing stories that I knew I had to give it a try. I'm so glad I did.

What Happens Next is the third book I've read by Ms. Nelson. I have enjoyed all of them. I'll definitely be reading the rest of her backlist and whatever she writes next!

*I received a complimentary copy of this story. All opinions are my own. The faith thread is light. 

BackCover Blurb:
Popular podcaster and ex-reporter Faith Byrne has made a name for herself telling stories of greatness after tragedy--but her real life does not mirror the stories she tells. While her daughters spend the summer in Hawaii with her ex-husband and his new wife, she must manage life on her own. But all that changes when she's asked to spotlight her childhood best friend's missing person case on her podcast.

Dora Crane has never accepted that her younger daughter could be dead, keeping her home looking the same as when her daughter disappeared. But when her husband leaves her, and her older daughter intervenes, she agrees to counseling and to pack up her missing daughter's belongings under one condition: Faith Byrne comes to Deep Valley and sheds light on the cold case.

As the investigation moves forward, the two women uncover desperate secrets, and Faith and Dora must face the long-hidden truth before they can begin to move forward.

Award-winning author Christina Suzann Nelson masterfully leads readers on a journey of discovery, healing, and friendship in this suspenseful and poignant tale. 

Bethany House Publishing, January 17,2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, or audiobook:

Friday, January 27, 2023

ROAST DATE By Heather Gilbert, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

BARKS & BEANS CAFE Cozy Mystery #7

"I think she's dead."

A holiday book club meeting turns . . . deadly? (who would thought eggnog could be a weapon?) That's exactly what appears to have happened, and Macy Hatfield is determined that their hostess, her sweet next-door-neighbor Vera, had nothing whatsoever to do with the local mayor's demise. But it didn't look good, especially when curious circumstantial evidence links Vera to a second victim.
Join Macy and her brother Bo as they not only take care of each other, and their thriving Barks and Beans Cafe, but work hard to take care of their neighbors . . . even if one of them turns out to be a murderer.

These are absolutely the best cozies. Simply puzzling and brilliantly plotted . . . as always!!! (plus there's a nip of love in the air this Christmas!!!)
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars
Available in digital ebook and paperback at Amazon. Buy ROAST DATE or any other from this series.

HEARTS OF STEEL by Elizabeth Camden, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Talented author Elizabeth Camden has concluded her Blackstone Legacy series with yet another riveting novel featuring Liam Blackstone and Maggie Molinaro. Hearts of Steel is overflowing with rich historical history and captivating characters. Set in New York in 1902, this book has Liam and Maggie teaming together to fight corruption within the city. The main characters were colorful, engaging, and plucky, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship change and grow. It was fun seeing some of the people from the first two books showing up to help Liam and Maggie with their quest. Liam impressed me with his determination to learn and overcome his weaknesses and his early upbringing. Maggie’s hard work and resolve to succeed was also exemplary.

I always learn much about little slices of history from Camden’s books, and this one is no exception. The historical notes from the author in the back of the book stated that the main corrupt businessman in the story, Charles W. Morse, actually existed and used extortion, threats, and bribery to force competitors and others out of business.

With plenty of suspense, action, inspiration, and romance, this book kept me turning the pages. It’s a fantastic addition to the series. Messages of faith, hope, strength through adversity, and the importance of family combine to add depth to this enthralling tale.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.
4.5 stars 


BackCover Blurb:
His steel empire has catapulted him to the top of the world, but loving her could cost him everything.

Maggie Molinaro survived a hardscrabble childhood in the downtrodden streets of Manhattan to become a successful businesswoman. After a decade of sacrifice, she now owns a celebrated ice cream company. But when she offends a corrupt banker, she unwittingly sets off a series of calamities that threaten to destroy her life's work.

Liam Blackstone is a charismatic steel magnate committed to overhauling factory conditions for the steelworkers of America. Standing in his way is the same villain determined to ruin Maggie. What begins as a practical alliance to defeat a common enemy soon evolves into a romance between two wounded people determined to beat the odds.

A spiraling circle of treachery grows increasingly dangerous as Liam and Maggie risk their lives and fortunes for the good of the city. It will require all their wit and ingenuity to protect everything--and everyone--they hold dear.

Bethany House Publishing, January 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Thursday, January 26, 2023

IN LOVE'S TIME by Kate Breslin, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Do you think it possible two people can fall in love a second time?"

Clare Danner's future and the future of her beautiful two year old daughter depended on it. The one person who could testify on her behalf is incapacitated, leaving it up to Clare to prevent a vindictive earl from reclaiming his granddaughter and the inheritance that she represents; the man has put Clare on a tenuous timeline . . . one that she is terribly afraid that Captain Marcus Weatherford is not capable of meeting. How did her life become so complicated? . . . it started with a proposal in the garden that wasn't hers.

Watching the man she loved ask another woman to marry him had not only broken Clare's heart but wounded her spirit. Even Marcus' pleas to trust him no matter what appearances seemed to indicate, were not enough. And now? The man in question has returned home from a mysterious trip with two serious head wounds and no recollection of what transpired, or of Claire . . . while still clinging to the elegant woman claiming to be his fiancee. When asked to oversee Marcus' convalescence on his family's estate, Kate can only use her skills as a military hospital orderly and . . . pray . . . for it seems that Marcus' heart remembers something about her, even when his head can not. As the imposed deadline steadily approaches, will Clare be forced to make a decision that will destroy them both?

How glorious to be able to enjoy an entire story about the practically legendary Captain Marcus Weatherford. Honorable? Yes. Brave? Certainly. Dedicated? Absolutely. Fearful?  . . . Well you may be surprised to learn that he did have fears . . . in particular one . . . that nearly forced him out of rhythm with the cadence of his heart: Clare.

Fabulous romance!
*I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
4.5 stars


BackCover Blurb:

In the summer of 1918, Captain Marcus Weatherford arrives in Russia on a secret mission, with a beautiful ballerina posing as his fiancée. Marcus searches for the Romanov tsarina and her son--who both allegedly survived the murdering Bolsheviks--and the information behind an allied plot to assassinate Lenin. But Marcus's sense of duty battles his desire to return home to Clare--his actual love.

Hospital orderly Clare Danner still suffers from Marcus's betrayal and now fears losing her daughter to the heartless family who took Daisy away from Clare once before, but only Marcus can provide the critical proof needed to save her daughter.

Faced with danger and unexpected circumstances, can Clare trust Marcus, or will he shatter her world yet again? 

Bethany House Publishers, December, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:



Wednesday, January 25, 2023

COLD DEAD NIGHT and BURN THE DAWN by Lisa Phillips, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney


"All I've got is me and all I trust is me, so I investigate by myself and find the victim because no one else is looking hard enough or in the right places."

That about sums it up. Kenna Banbury's solitary life as a private investigator is lived according to her own rules. Tossed out of the F. B. I. after being kidnapped by a serial killer, (the public view being that she had abandoned her partner, whose life was lost while she lived to tell the story. Nothing could be further from the truth.) Kenna had found new purpose and was only back in Salt Lake City to wrap up a case when she receives word that a murder victim has her calling card, positioned on his dead body. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

Certain that she is being framed, Kenna walks a fine line of cooperation vs. investigation with local law enforcement officers and her former F. B. I. colleagues, plus one; Special Agent Jaxton. Friend or foe? Time would tell . . . because this killer is bent on striking again . . . and again . . . and again.

A bit on the dark side for my taste, but admittedly this book proves its worth as a fascinating thriller. Kenna's angst and determination for justice to prevail is palpable through-out a number of frenzied scenes; the twists and turns are dizzying, and for the most part confusing . . . someone between these pages knows something, if only they could stay alive long enough to share it. Remaining light on elements of inspiration and romance, it's comforting to know that in the end, Kenna muses (albeit from a hospital bed) , "Was this it? Life. Friendship. People she shouldn't push away. People who cared for her." That's progress! Let's see what happens next as the series continues . . . 
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:

The FBI betrayed her. Now they need her.

Private Investigator Kenna Banbury lost everything two years ago at the hands of a serial killer. From the ashes of that encounter, she’s built a life she believes in, searching for the lost and forgotten all over the western US.

Bringing her own brand of justice.

When a series of murders drags her into an FBI investigation, Kenna finds herself back in the place where it all went wrong. Struggling to make sense of the case, Kenna’s past and present collide in a deadly plot that risks another betrayal and threatens to shatter everything she’s built.

Kenna faces the darkest part of her past in this first book of a brand-new series from Lisa Phillips. 

"Once she found this missing young woman, things would feel a little more right. The world would seem a little more the way it should be rather than . . . The past had no bearing when a young woman's life hung in the balance."

Private investigator Kenna Banbury is trying very hard to put recent trauma behind her and use her well honed instincts to find a missing girl along the mountains trails that surround the small town of Bishopsville, California. After accomplishing that goal, the horrifying details of the young woman's detainment become exposed; Trudy is not the first local to go missing, nor will she be the last. Will Kenna decide to stick around long enough to help the very understaffed local law enforcement stop a dangerous string of abductions, or will she leave this town behind in her rear view mirror? It's already gotten a lot more complicated than she thought, for . . .

Kenna realizes that she has been in Bishopsville before, so when the local sheriff mentions a friendly connection with her deceased father, Kenna's radar goes up, for once again her past and present seemed coincidentally intertwined, until that connection is forever lost in the ashes.

Fast paced with a carefully constructed labyrinth of details, this clean thriller has only passing mentions of spiritual insights, but gives Kenna much to consider along those directions. 

BackCover Blurb:

A series of missing girls.

Weeks after she got shot, Kenna is back. She’s living free of a past that held her in the grip of fear, determined to move on—and keep fighting. This PI isn’t going to let anything keep her from finding the lost and broken.

A town in the grip of fear.

After a deadly setback, Kenna realizes the case is far more complicated than she first thought. With an elite organization in the shadows, Kenna has to solve the case while a powerful enemy dogs every step and the echoes of her past threaten to tear her apart.
Forced to hold it together long enough to find the latest victim, Kenna has to do the one thing she said she would never do again.

It’s the only way to bring her brand of justice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

YESTERDAY'S TIDES by Roseanna White, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

Ms. White has ventured into the dual timeline genre and has come up with a fresh way to tie the two World Wars together. You can tell she has done extensive research about the wars and the setting. Additionally, she has woven favorite characters from previous books into the fabric of the story. She meshed the two stories so well that the hinge was a complete surprise.

Historical fiction is a favorite genre and this novel was so interesting. I enjoyed learning about Ocracoke Island and its inhabitants as well as seeing what was going on in the Admiralty in England at the time.

Ms White always depicts fascinating characters with real life problems to overcome through faith. I connected with Evie and her jewelry making because I dabble in that too. She took sea glass and shells and used them as prayer tools to make something significant. “Holding on to something helped remind her that they were real things, those prayers- things with substance, just like faith.”

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip back in time on the East Coast of North Carolina. Highly recommended for fans of historical Christian Fiction.
* A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House on behalf of the author and through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and a strong faith thread.

BackCover Blurb:

In two world wars, intelligence and counterintelligence, prejudice, and self-sacrifice collide across two generations

In 1942, Evie Farrow is used to life on Ocracoke Island, where every day is the same--until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc. And when special agent Sterling Bertrand is washed ashore at Evie's inn, her life is turned upside down. While Sterling's injuries keep him inn-bound for weeks, making him even more anxious about the SS officer he's tracking, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Evie, who seems to be hiding secrets of her own.

Decades earlier, in 1914, Englishman Remington Culbreth arrives at the Ocracoke Inn for the summer, never expecting to fall in love with Louisa Adair, the innkeeper's daughter. But when war breaks out in Europe, their relationship is put in jeopardy and may not survive what lies ahead for them.

As the ripples from the Great War rock Evie and Sterling's lives in World War II, it seems yesterday's tides may sweep them all into danger again today.

Bethany House Publishing, January, 2023
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook:


FORCED TO HIDE by Terri Reed, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt #ReleaseDay

Terri Reed is one of those suspense writers who throws her audience (or readers) right smack in the middle of the action. That is exactly what she does in “Forced to Hide” and I love it! 

From the start, you can feel the tension as Judge Adele Weston prepares to enter her courtroom right up to the moment the first bomb goes off. Chaos ensues afterwards as you would expect! Enter our hero, Brian Forrester, who is assigned to protect Adele and stick by her side no matter what. She certainly doesn’t make it easy on him to do his job, but must cooperate so he can find the bomber and person behind subsequent attacks. Will they be successful or will time run out like the ticking of a bomb (pun intended)?

This one has all the elements of a suspense story that I love; tense action, edge-of-your-seat roller coaster ride feeling, and the fun of solving who the bad guy is. Reed kept me on my toes trying to figure it out! What I also love about Inspirational suspense is the faith thread and there was no lack of it here. Especially as Adele clung to her faith in God when things became downright dangerous!

She would have to trust that God would see her through this. Her faith in Jesus had never let her down. Sometimes her faith was the only way she managed to get through the day. ~page 62

It reminds me that I, too, can trust God in my deepest needs and my faith in Jesus will sustain me no matter what. I love when authors remind me of these truths!

Faith, hope and love are strong themes in “Forced to Hide” along with a story to keep your heart racing and turning pages!
*I received a complimentary copy from the author. I was not obligated to leave a favorable review & all opinions are mine.*

BackCover Blurb:

A bomber is on the loose.

Will they be his next victims?

When multiple bombs tear through a courtroom, deputy US marshal Brian Forrester must assume guard duty of Judge Adele Weston. Someone wants her dead. Is it the cartel leader whose case she’s presiding over or an unknown killer from her past? With danger trailing them through the Texas countryside, they’ll have to find a safe haven before the next explosion finishes them off.

Love Inspired, January, 2023

DARK OF NIGHT by Colleen Coble, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise hosting PARTNERS IN CRIME #Giveaway

Dark of Night

by Colleen Coble

January 9-February 3, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Dark of Night by Colleen Coble cover

The law is about justice—not grace. But perhaps ranger Annie Pederson can find a way to have both.

As if the last few months haven’t been hard enough—complete with threats on her life and the return of her first love, Jon—Annie has to figure out whether or not to believe a woman who claims to be her sister, Sarah, who was abducted twenty-four years ago at age five. Annie’s eight-year-old daughter, Kylie, has plenty of questions about what’s going on in her mother’s life—but there are some stones Annie doesn’t want uncovered.

As Annie grapples with how to heal the gulf between her and her would-be sister and make room in her daughter’s life for Jon, she’s professionally distracted by the case of yet another missing hiker in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A woman named Michelle Fraser has now been abducted, and though the woman’s estranged husband is at the top of their suspect list, Annie and her colleagues will need to dig deeper and determine whether these recent mysteries are truly as unrelated as they seem.

In this second novel of bestselling author Colleen Coble’s latest romantic-suspense series, Annie and Jon must fight for the future—and the family—that could once more be theirs.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: January 2023
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785253742 (ISBN13: 9780785253747)
Series: Annie Pederson #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Should she even be out here alone? Michigan’s U.P. was a whole lotta wilderness. Michelle Fraser’s shoulder blades gave a tingle and made her glance back to see if anyone was following her. No one there. But in spite of seeing no movement in the trees and bushes, she couldn’t discount her gut instinct. She’d been spooked ever since she left the safety of the women’s shelter.

Maybe it was just knowing she was out here with no backup that had her on edge.

The heavy scent of rain hung in the twilight air as she set the last of her wildlife cameras in the crook of a large sugar maple tree. A northern flying squirrel chattered a warning from its nest. The glaucomys sabrinus’s agitation made Michelle pull away in time to avoid being nipped.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a spooky mist blew through the forest. The sooner she was out of here, the better. Her last set of cameras hadn’t turned up the elusive mountain lions she’d been searching for, but a hunter in neighboring Ontonagon County had snapped a picture of a large male reclining on a rock. If she could acquire more data, it would aid her research for the magazine article proving mountain lions inhabited the area. And she had to have pictures.

She’d been obsessed with big cats for as long as she could remember. Even the various names held a fascinating mystique: catamount, puma, cougar, mountain lion, panther.

A mosquito landed on her arm, and she swatted it. Her hands came away with a drop of blood on her fingers. Yuck. She wiped the residue on her khaki shorts and turned to go back to her ATV. A sound erupted to her right, and it sounded like either a puma or a woman’s scream. The hair on her neck prickled, and she moved that way.

The scream pealed again, and she removed the lens cap on the camera slung around her neck. Her palms dampened, and her breath came fast. Walking toward danger might not be the smartest thing, but Michelle couldn’t help herself. She yearned to see a puma in the wild in all its power and beauty. Her knees shook as she pulled out a bullhorn from her backpack to frighten away the cat if it sensed her as prey.

Queen pumas would be protecting their litters in June, so she needed to be careful. Her lungs labored as she rushed in that direction. Her black belt in jujitsu wouldn’t do much against the speed and power of a puma. She seized a large branch to make herself seem bigger as she advanced through the forest. Evergreen needles clawed at her arms as she forced her way through a thick stand of white pine.

She paused on the other side and caught the glimmer of water. Lake Superior’s waves lapped at the rocky shore, and she spotted a yellow kayak riding the swells in the shallow surf. A discarded backpack bobbed beside it.

Her sense of unease grew as she observed the scene. Glancing around, she approached the water and snagged the backpack from the lake, then pulled the kayak onto the rocks. Her gut told her someone was in trouble.

Should she call out? If it was wildlife threatening the woman she thought she’d heard, Michelle could scare it off with a flare. But if the attacker was human, she didn’t want to give away her presence and put the woman in greater danger. She scanned the area for bear or cougar scat but found nothing.

The sound of oars slapping the water came from her left, and she ducked back into the shadow of the pines until she could tell the intent of the boaters. Two figures partially shrouded in mist paddled a large canoe around a rocky finger of the shore. The glimpse of broad shoulders through the fog indicated they were probably men. She strained to listen through the sound of the wind and water but couldn’t hear much.

She couldn’t put her finger on why she didn’t want them to see her. Maybe because they were men, and Brandon might have sent them after her.

“I know she ran this way. Trying to get to her kayak, eh.” The man’s heavy Yooper accent carried well over the water.

“Can’t see her through this mist,” the other man said. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into this. Your love life isn’t my business.”

“You owe me. Let’s try on down the shore. There’s a deer trail toward the road she might have tried to take.”

Their voices faded as their canoe moved past. She didn’t get a good look at their faces. Was a woman out there trying to escape an abusive ex? Michelle had seen plenty of that kind of trauma this past year and had experienced abuse personally.

Once they were out of sight, she stepped back into the clearing. “Hello,” she called softly. “Is anyone here? I can help you.”

She walked across the green mossy clearing, searching for a sign of an injured woman. The bushes to her left shivered and rustled, and she stepped closer. “Hello? Do you need help?”

The leaves parted as the mist swirled along the ground, and the pale oval of a woman’s face emerged. Long blonde hair hung in strings along her cheeks, and her eyelids fluttered as though she might faint. Michelle rushed forward and helped the young woman to her feet. She was in her early twenties with a slight build. Mud smeared her khaki shorts and red top, and she was barefoot.

She seemed familiar, and Michelle reached down to touch her forehead. She nearly recoiled at the heat radiating from the young woman. “Wait, aren’t you Grace Mitchell?”

They’d met when Grace first arrived at the shelter, but Michelle hadn’t immediately recognized her with the mud and dirt on her face and hair. The woman’s fever alarmed Michelle. “You’re burning up. We need to get you to a doctor.”

“I-I’ll be fine. Do you have some way out of here?”

“My ATV is this way.” Michelle put her right arm around the woman’s waist and helped her stumble toward the trail. “What are you doing out here?”

Grace paused and wiped the beads of perspiration from her forehead. “I spotted my ex driving past the shelter, and I knew he’d found me. That day we met, you mentioned a remote area you liked with a great camping spot, and I decided to try to find it. You know, hide out until I figured out where to go to get away from Roy. But I stopped by to get camping gear from my parents, and he must have followed me here. He’s out there somewhere. He and a buddy.” Her blue eyes flashed with fear. “I can’t let him find me.”

They reached the ATV, and Michelle got Grace situated, but it was a tight squeeze on the vehicle meant for one person. Michelle got water out of her backpack and helped Grace drink some. She grabbed her phone, too, and took a quick photo of the traumatized girl before she dropped it back into the pack.

Michelle started the machine and pulled out onto the trail back to the cabin where she’d been hiding out. She should have gotten out of here earlier since the weather had caused darkness to fall sooner than expected. It would be slow going on the rough trail with only the headlamps pushing the darkness back a short distance.

After only a few minutes, Michelle realized she’d gotten off the trail. She stopped the machine and looked around. Which way should she go? She consulted her compass and decided to push due west. They’d only gone a few feet when the ground gave out under the machine, and they went flying into the air. When Michelle hit the ground, something in her right leg snapped, and the excruciating pain was instantaneous.

She bit back a scream but couldn’t stop the moan as she pulled her knee to her chest. The swelling was already starting four inches above her ankle, but at least it didn’t appear to be a compound fracture. “I-I’ve broken my leg. Are you all right, Grace?”

When Grace didn’t answer, Michelle felt along the ground until she touched her thigh. “Grace?” She felt up the young woman’s body to her face.

Grace wasn’t breathing. “Oh no,” Michelle whispered. She checked her out in the dark as best as she could. No pulse.

Michelle dragged herself to the machine but it was on its side, and she couldn’t right it with her broken leg. No one would be searching for her out here, so she had to find shelter. But how?

The pain made it hard to think. She froze at the sound of movement in the vegetation. Something big was crashing toward her. A deer? A mountain lion or bear?

A man’s shoulders moved into sight, and his expression sent shivers up her spine. When he reached down to lift her up, the pain intensified in her leg, and her vision went black.


Law enforcement ranger Annie Pederson sat at a table by herself in the small interrogation room at the Rock Harbor jail and waited for Taylor Moore to be brought in for questioning. Maybe it was Annie’s imagination, but it seemed as if the beige paint on the walls reeked with the guilt and despair of countless years of interrogations. Even the clean scent of the disinfectant used in the area didn’t dissipate the unpleasantness. She didn’t like this space and wished she could have talked to Taylor at the coffee shop or somewhere more pleasant.

But this meeting might be the end of her lifelong search, so she would have faced even tigers in this place.

The door opened and Taylor entered. Several weeks ago Annie had hired her to help out around the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort and with Annie’s eight-year-old daughter, but the woman had been picked up for questioning about the necklace found belonging to a murdered girl. Her claim to be Annie’s sister, Sarah—kidnapped from Tremolo Island twenty-four years ago—had turned Annie’s every thought on its head. According to Taylor’s ID, she was twenty-nine, three years younger than Annie, so that detail matched Sarah.

Annie’s heart squeezed at Taylor’s ducked head and stringy locks. The bright-red hair dye was fading, and glints of her natural blonde color showed through. Her jeans and tee looked like she’d slept in them for days, and the scent of stale perspiration wafted from her.

Taylor glanced up, and Annie bit back a gasp at the defiance gleaming in those vivid blue eyes that matched Annie’s eye color instead of the muddy brown Annie was used to. Jon Dunstan had claimed Taylor was wearing contacts to change her eye color, and it seemed he was right.

Annie had prided herself on her ability to read people in her line of work. She’d always thought she could detect a liar with no problem. Taylor had completely snowed her. After Taylor’s impeccable references, Annie had trusted the woman with her child.

Sheriff Mason Kaleva ambled in behind Taylor. He gestured to the chair across the table from Annie. “Have a seat, Ms. Moore.”

In his forties, his husky form brought solace to Annie. He’d always been there for her and his town, and his kind brown eyes swept over her in a questioning gaze. She gave him a little nod to let him know she was okay.

Taylor’s eyes narrowed. “It’s Ms. Vitanen. Sarah Vitanen.”

A wave of dizziness washed over Annie, and she bit her lip and eyed Taylor closely. “You claim to be my sister, but do you have any proof?”

The chair screeched on the tile floor as Taylor pulled it out before she plopped onto it. “I should have expected you wouldn’t welcome me with open arms. After all, you did nothing to stop my abduction.”

Heat swept up Annie’s neck and lodged in her cheeks. “What could an eight-year-old do to stop an adult? If you’re really Sarah, what was the name of your favorite stuffed animal?”

“Cocoa,” Taylor said without hesitation. “It was a brown kitten. I couldn’t have a real one because Mom was allergic.”

Annie’s eyes widened. She caught her breath as she studied the other woman across the table. “Let me see your left knee.”

Rebellion flashed in Taylor’s blue eyes, and she leaned down to yank up her baggy jeans, then stood with her tanned knee exposed. A faded two-inch scar just below her kneecap matched the one in Annie’s memory. Sarah had gotten snagged on a large metal hook under the dock at the marina. It had taken fifteen stitches to close the wound, and Annie had helped her sister hobble around for several weeks.

But was that proof? Kids had scars from all sorts of things. She wanted to believe her sister was still alive, but was Taylor really Sarah?

Her breath eased from her lips, and Annie couldn’t speak for a long moment. “You really believe you’re Sarah? Did you research all that and make sure the details matched?”

Taylor just stared back at her with that same defiance. In Annie’s dreams, finding Sarah meant a tight embrace and happy tears, but Taylor’s stance with her arms folded across her chest and her jutting chin warned Annie off any displays of affection. Not that she was feeling any warmth toward the other woman in this moment.

When the other woman plopped back in her chair and didn’t answer, Annie licked her lips. “Why didn’t you tell me when you first showed up looking for work? Why the fake name? I’ve been searching for my sister for years.”

“Have you? Have you really?”

Annie glanced at Mason. “Ask him if you don’t believe me.”

Mason shifted his bulky form and nodded. “I’ve been helping Annie search. We’ve sent DNA samples numerous times over the past ten years. Her parents searched for Sarah, and even hired investigators, until their deaths.”

Annie hadn’t known that. Her parents’ business, the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort, operated on a shoestring, so they must have taken much needed money to try to find Sarah.

Annie shifted her gaze back to the woman across the table. Taylor twisted a strand of hair around her finger in a coil. Sarah used to do that too. If this was a scam, it was an elaborate one. With all her heart Annie wanted to believe it, but she couldn’t quite accept it. It was so sudden, and the circumstances were bizarre.

Mason cleared his throat. “We’ll need a little more proof. We can get the DNA back in a week or so.”

“I have nothing to hide,” the other woman said.

Annie had spent twenty-four years agonizing over her failure to save Sarah. The guilt had nearly swallowed her alive, though everyone told her she couldn’t have done anything. Until a few days ago, she hadn’t been able to recall much about that awful night. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to remember how she froze in fear when the kidnapper grabbed Sarah.

Annie fingered the scar on her neck where the attacker had wounded her with a knife. She’d been left for dead in the cold waters of Lake Superior, and while logically she knew she was no match for the gruff woman who’d snatched her sister, Annie had struggled to believe it.

“Were any of the things you told me about your life true? Those things you said about your m-mother?”

“I had a rotten life, if that’s what you’re asking. All those things I said about my mother were true. And it was all your fault.”

There was nothing Annie could say to counter that when her own conscience condemned her too. She was only too glad when her boss, Kade Matthews, texted her with a new case. Mason could continue the questioning about the necklace.


Excerpt from Dark of Night by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2022 by Colleen Coble. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.


Another great suspense from Colleen Coble.

“Love faces hard situations. It does not run away when circumstances get hard.”

I love stories set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because I lived near there and have visited. Ms. Coble does a great job of describing the landscape and atmosphere. The Rock Harbor series is a favorite one and I’m glad to go back to the area with a new protagonist, widow Annie Pederson and her daughter, Kylie.

The first book in the series was intriguing and this story picks up where Edge of Dusk left off. I recommend reading them in order.

We see the progression of the relationship of Annie, a law enforcement ranger and Dr. Jon Dunstan who reconnects with her after a long absence. There are reunions with characters from the original series including Bree Matthews and her SAR dog, Samson. The story has many mysteries surrounding missing hikers and hidden identities. The scenes with the missing hiker, Michelle, were intense and kept me wondering if help would come in time. I kept turning pages as the clues became clearer. I was glad to go back to Rock Harbor where everyone pulls together and even law enforcement people are not afraid to show their faith. I cannot wait for the next book to see how more of the threads turn out.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the Partners In Crime Tour. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and an underlying faith thread.

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean's Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
BookBub: @colleencoble
Instagram: @colleencoble
Twitter: @colleencoble
Facebook: colleencoblebooks


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Saturday, January 21, 2023

PRETTY LITTLE PIECES by Carmen Schober, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"The sad truth is that she's not Joanna Gaines, no matter how much anyone says otherwise. JoJo would know how to pull this mess together, but Georgina has no idea where to even begin."

Aspiring television home designer Georgina Havocs's already stressful life has just spiraled out of control. Now she's in panic mode, and barely hanging on to her professional credibility after a nasty what-should-have-been-private-for-normal-people break-up with her longtime boyfriend and co-star Lance Broussard, but the pain went much deeper than that . . . much, much deeper. They had been partners, now they had became competitors for a spot on the same network.

Georgina's search for the "next best home makeover" leads her to Tarragon, Tennessee along with her best friend and a makeshift crew; deciding to renovate a pair of cottages she can only hope that bringing their potential back to life will be a reflection of her own circumstances as well. Meeting Cassidy Stokes however, challenges everything she thought she knew about everything. It's possible that more pieces are about to shatter.

This story has a definite chick-flick vibe with its myriad of characters and circumstantial hiccups. The "meat on the bone" is slathered in some pretty spicy sauce before the true flavor manages to emerge . . . "there is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him." - C. S. Lewis
I couldn't help but like this book, but have to admit that the underlying structure is a bit wobbly at times.

*I purchased the book and was not obligated to provide a positive review.  

BackCover Blurb:
Ambitious influencer Georgina Havoc and her designer beau Lance Broussard have been dubbed the next Chip and Joanna Gaines, but their happily-ever-after falls apart when Lance blindsides her with a "pause." The show must go on, so Georgina takes on the task of renovating a forgotten cottage in the tiny, tight-knit town of Tarragon, Tennessee on her own.

Georgina has a plan to save her relationship--and her show--but a surprise drop-in from her troubled twin sister makes things extra messy. That, and the presence of rugged ex-sniper Cassidy Stokes, who throws a wrench in all her plans.

As she salvages her shattered life, will Georgina retreat to the familiar or embrace a new design? 

Bethany House Publishers, December 6, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Friday, January 20, 2023

ENGAGING DECEPTION (Joplin Chronicles #3) by Regina Jennings, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

 "I thought our objective tonight was to get Max to notice you, but it appears that he's been noticing you for some time."

Oh . . . how did she get herself in this situation to begin with? Life was much simpler and definitely much safer when Olive had stuck to her routine; keeping house for her father and grieving her mother; never stepping outside those boundaries no matter how fervently her dreams beckoned her. If only her infuriating cousins hadn't gotten involved . . . no, that didn't sound right, she loved her cousins, it was just . . . it was just . . . being around such a renowned architect as Maxfield Scott, imagining what life might be like if folks(besides those pesky cousins) really acknowledged her design skills, Olive had allowed her aspirations to sort of, kind of deceive Mr. Scott. (she really didn't mean to) He had naturally placed her in the "nanny" category, publicly spending nearly every evening with the loveliest lady in town while Olive spent time with his sweet children (and his architectural library).

Then, everything changed one evening behind the clothesline.

This story just kept getting better with the turn of every page. The worry, the anxiety, and the angst of the characters was tempered perfectly with the attraction, attention, and conversations between them, two grieving souls who had much more in common than they could have ever imagined. Add in the author's signature wit, and you have the recipe for a romance played in perfect harmony with Olive's determination to ignore it. ... But not Maxfield. it was impossible for him to ignore Olive, "His nanny was not who he thought she was. She was so much more". 
BackCover Blurb:
A lively competition draws her into her rival's blueprints--and maybe even his heart.

Olive Kentworth has spent her life hiding her interest in architecture, even though she pores over architectural books and sketches buildings. When she accepts a job on a home expansion, it's only because her cousin Amos agrees to pose as the builder. To further hide her involvement, Olive takes a position as a nanny--not knowing that she'll be working for her idol, Joplin's leading architect, widower Maxfield Scott.

Maxfield is intrigued by his new nanny--she makes his home and his life bearable again. His work, on the other hand, is a disaster. An untrained builder is remodeling a completed project of his. What's worse, Maxfield's current client wants changes to his plans because of that builder's work.

As the architectural one-upmanship heats up, Olive's involvement becomes harder to hide. Will the relationship between her and Maxfield survive, or will they both miss out on building something for their future?
Bethany House Publishers, December 13, 2022
Available in digital ebook, and paperback

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