Saturday, September 30, 2023

THE GIRL FROM THE PAPERS by Jennifer L. Wright, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"It's only a matter of time. You have to be careful. 'Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm'. . . Proverbs 13:20"

Beatrice Carraway is living her life on the bottom rung of the ladder, or so it seems; money is tight, jobs are scarce, and sometimes a pretty face never makes it on to the stage. Enter Jack Turner. Handsome, reckless, passionate, and head-over-heels for Beatrice Carraway. It seems that Jack wants the same more-out-of-life as Bea, but Jack goes about getting what he wants in an entirely different way . . . Jack is brazen enough to take it.

In the beginning, the risks were calculated, thrilling, and exhilarating, but soon the stakes grew higher as were the chances of getting caught . . . and as their escapades make local and regional news, Bea begins to wonder if being "the girl from the papers" is all that she will ever be.

"You are more than what people call you. The names they give us, those things they say about us . . . they don't define us . . . They're not who we are. The only one who can ever truly define us is the One who made us."

An absolute stunner of a story! Brokenness, bitterness, helplessness all coincide to present a raw, stinging, and painful reminder that any and all attempts to grab happiness and fulfillment on our own only serve to conjure up a figment of our imagination that begs to be transformed into reality through the unconditional, forever love of a Savior. "I love you, Jack . . . but . . . Someone loves me more."
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 


 BackCover Blurb:
Inspired by one of America’s most notorious couples, Bonnie and Clyde, Jennifer L. Wright delivers a riveting tale set during the public enemy era of the Great Depression.

Beatrice Carraway has dreams. Although she’s aged out of the childhood pageant circuit, she’s intent on carrying her talents all the way to the big screen—if only she can escape the poverty of West Dallas first. But as the Great Depression drags the working class further and further under, Beatrice struggles just to keep herself, her mother, and her younger sister afloat. After a string of failed auditions, she feels defeated.

And then in walks Jack Turner. Though Beatrice is determined to pull herself up by her bootstraps, Jack has decided on a different path out of the gutters. It isn’t long before Beatrice is swept into an exciting and glamorous life of crime beside the man she loves. Keeping one step ahead of the law, she sees her dreams of fame come true when her name and picture are plastered in newspapers across the country. Yet as their infamy grows, the distance between them widens. While Jack begins seeking bigger payouts and publicity, Beatrice starts to long for a safe, quiet life and something deeper to fill the emptiness in her soul. But when the danger of Jack’s schemes ratchets up, Beatrice fears her dreams—and her future—will end up going down in a hail of bullets.

Tyndale House, August, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook

THE STARLET SPY by Rachel Scott McDaniel, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Once - just once - I'd love a role where the leading lady joined the fray, helping the hero in the climatic attack rather than standing aside as a horrified spectator . . . But that wasn't how the script went."

Amelie Blake has just been handed the opportunity of a lifetime . . . to re-write her script. Unfortunately it required remaining in her role as a "brainless blond" starlet while she served as a spy for the United States Office of Strategic Services. Slipping into her Swedish homeland under the guise of visiting her ill mother, Amelie was to mingle among the Swedish elite in order to gain information on, and possibly access to, highly sensitive documents that had gone missing during the hectic evacuation of Danes into Sweden. Her main target? . . . Swedish shipping magnate Finn Ristaffason, whose cool demeanor and deep pockets made him an enigma that Amelie was assigned to explore.

As you might expect, this story swirls with subterfuge, leaving Amelie struggling to maintain her role as a naive celebrity, when in fact her keen intelligence skills were difficult to ignore if one looked ever so closely . . . and there was one person in particular who was looking very closely . . . dare she want him to? "Trust no one."

Enjoyable, historical, witty, intriguing, romantic, inspiring . . . "Over the past decade, I'd had many roles, but God had called me to go off script. To be the leading lady in the story He'd written for me." 

BackCover Blurb:
Hollywood Star Turns Spy
In 1943, movie producer Henrik Zoltan approaches Amelie Blake under the guise of offering the Hollywood star a leading part in his upcoming film, but he has a more meaningful role in mind. Amelie’s homeland of Sweden declared neutrality in the war, but Stockholm has become the “Casablanca of the North.” When top-secret atomic research goes missing in Sweden, the Allied forces scramble to recover the files before they fall into Nazi hands.

The United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) needs someone who’s subtle enough to spy on the Swedish elite without triggering suspicion. Who better than the “all beauty, no brains” Scandinavian starlet? Fluent in three languages and possessing a brilliant memory, Amelie loathes being labeled witless but uses the misconception as her disguise. She’s tasked with searching for the crucial files, but Finn Ristaffason keeps getting in her way. Is the charming shipping magnate after the missing research? Or does he have other reasons for showing up at her every turn?

With the Gestapo on her heels, Amelie must rely on her smarts in addition to her acting skills to survive a world of deadly spies and counterspies.
Barbour Publishing, August 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy THE STARLET SPY at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House 

Don’t miss these other stories:
The Cryptographer’s Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander
Picture of Hope by Liz Tolsma
Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson
Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War by Mary Davis
A Rose for the Resistance by Angela K. Couch
Season of My Enemy by Naomi Musch
Escape from Amsterdam by Lauralee Bliss
On My Honor by Patty Hall
The Escape Game by Marilyn Turk
Beneath a Peaceful Moon by Debby Lee


Friday, September 29, 2023

SHADOW OF DECEIT by Susan Sleeman, Reviewed by Rebecca and Winnie

"The irony . . . She'd summoned all her courage to return to Shadow Lake and face the people who'd hurt her the most, only to die in a fire in her first hour in town."

Mia Blackburn guessed this was where the note reading, "Evergreen Resort will never be yours. Leave town now or you will pay" came in to play . . . she just didn't expect to be locked inside a burning barn with a young child . . . or to be rescued by . . . none other than Ryan Maddox in full turn-out gear. She couldn't leave; as stipulated in Uncle Wally's will, the beautiful property would be hers within a year's time if she stayed. In the interim, who had a motive to harm her, thereby gaining access to Evergreen, it made no sense.

Full of terse family dynamics, regrets, and suspicions, this story is primarily about rebuilding relationships, learning to walk by faith, enjoying a second opportunity to love . . . and of course, solving more than a few crimes.

"'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding'. . . Letting God be in charge . . . makes the living so much easier."
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

I can always count on Susan Sleeman for clean romantic suspense books. Shadow of Deceit is the first book in her new Shadow Lake Survival series. Mia Blackburn and Ryan Maddox get a second chance at love as they work together to find out who is threatening Mia and warning her away from the resort property she inherited from her uncle. It’s always interesting to learn more about law enforcement and criminology from Sleeman’s books, as she is knowledgeable about them and includes a lot of intriguing tidbits in her stories.

It took me a little while to connect with the main characters, and there were a couple of spots in the story that were a bit confusing to me, but I still felt that it’s a solid start to the series. Lots of action, suspense, inspiration, and a little romance combined to keep it interesting and me guessing.

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

BackCover Blurb:

When returning to her past threatens her life and a murder occurs…
When Mia Blackburn returns to Shadow Lake to inherit her uncle’s property, she doesn’t expect a threatening warning before she even reaches the rustic resort. And when a fire traps her in the burning barn that very day, she fears she won’t get out alive. Just in time, Ryan Maddox, her ex-boyfriend and Shadow Lake Survival owner, rescues her from the deadly blaze. She’s thankful for his rescue, but after their tumultuous breakup, he’s the last person she wants to see.

Will she be the next victim?
Despite the threatening warning and her residual feelings for Ryan, Mia won’t let anyone scare her from the rustic resort before she fulfills the terms of her uncle’s will and inherits the property. Ryan insists on keeping a close eye on her, and soon Mia feels safer and closer to Ryan than ever before. Yet the threats haven’t stopped, and soon Mia’s inheritance includes a murder, and she could be the next victim.

Edge of Your Seat Books, August 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

THE LEGACY OF LONGDALE MANOR by Carrie Turansky, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

“When we choose to forgive others, we are not excusing what they did or saying it was right. We are releasing them into God’s hands and allowing Him to deal out justice as He sees fit.”

A journal connects two women across the years. Ms. Turansky skillfully navigates the dual time genre with her compelling story set in the Lake District of England. In 1912, Charlotte keeps a devastating secret about her deceased father and tries to mend the reduced circumstances he has left her family in. In present day, Gwen evaluates antique pieces for auction sale as a representative of her grandfather’s business. She comes across a journal that has great significance to the owners of Longdale Manor as well as a neighboring farm. I loved both settings, especially the modern one because of the connection to antiques. I appreciate that people value old things and the history they represent.

A large theme in this book is turning to God in prayer and seeking forgiveness in order to move on to healing. The complexity of the story showed the growth of Charlotte and Gwen and I liked that the author gave them each a wise person to give them advice.

The characters were realistic in their struggles and showed the ability to rely on God. The romances were enjoyable to watch unfold.

A stunning story that taught timeless truths.
*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 

BackCover Blurb:

Two women--a century apart--embark on a journey to healing, faith, forgiveness, and romance.

In 2012, art historian Gwen Morris travels to England's Lake District to appraise the paintings and antiques of an old family friend, hoping to prove herself to her prestigious grandfather. While at Longdale Manor, she meets David Bradford--the owner's handsome grandson--who is desperate to save the crumbling estate by turning it into a luxury hotel. When Gwen stumbles upon a one-hundred-year-old journal and an intricately carved shepherd's staff similar to one in a photo of her parents, she's left searching for answers.

In 1912, after her father's death, Charlotte Harper uncovers a painful family secret she can only confess to her journal. She and her family travel to the Lake District to stay on a sheep farm, hoping eventually to find a home with Charlotte's grandfather at Longdale Manor, but old wounds and bitter regrets make it a difficult challenge. As Charlotte grows closer to shepherd Ian Storey and rebuilds her shattered faith, she must decide whether she will ever trust in love again.

Bethany House Publishers, September, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook


ON MOONBERRY LAKE by Holly Varni, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise, #ReleaseDay

“People change when they come to Moonberry Lake. They shed their old skin and emerge into something new.”

This debut book was such fun to read. It had so many quirky, yet believable inhabitants of this small town and an underlying faith thread that caused me to think about the need for friends and family.

Cora inherits the lodge that her grandparents once owned and it has so many fond memories. She is now alone in the world after her mother’s death. She is required to live in the lodge for a year and she starts to restore the old building. She befriends elderly Kitty, a caretaker of the cemetery across the road. Kitty is a wealth of sage advice: “God gives everyone a special talent, and sometimes it is simply to make life sweeter for the rest of us.” She meets her neighbors, including the local dentist, Ben, in an unusual way.

A stand out character is Marry-em and Bury-em Widgy who learned her handy woman skills from her five husbands. She is hilarious. It took Cora some time to break through her crusty shell. Another quaint person is the deli clerk who keeps a Reader’s Digest handy so she can practice the vocabulary she is gleaning from its pages.

This reminded me of The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kipp by Sara Brunsvold but with many more unusual characters to love in this book.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Library Thing. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and an underlying faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
Cora Matthews's life is a mess. A broken engagement and the unexpected death of her mother have left her wondering if things will ever return to normal. Whatever "normal" is.

It certainly isn't what she finds at Moonberry Lake. After she receives her family's dilapidated lakefront lodge as an inheritance--with a surprising condition attached--Cora finds her life overrun by a parade of eccentric neighbors who all have something to say and something to teach her.

As Cora works to put her life back together, she must decide if she is willing to let go of the past, open her heart to love, and embrace the craziest version of family and home she could ever have imagined.

Revell Publishing, September, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover
Buy ON MOONBERRY LAKE at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House

THE WIND BLOWS IN SLEEPING GRASS by Katie Powner, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

A delightful blend of serious and whimsical. This gifted storyteller weaves a story of important issues and everyday life along with characters of steadfast faith and those searching for spiritual answers. Ms. Powner shows that the wind blows on all no matter what their station or circumstances.

I went through many emotions from laughing at the antics of Pearl the pet pig to tears for the wrongs done to Lily, Wilma and Dani. I am glad that the story did not tie everything up in a big red bow. That is not how life is in reality. Yet people found resolution and peace. Some found their faith strengthened and some took one step closer to God.

My favorite character was Windy Ray, an old Indian man with a three legged dog. His voice in my head as I read was of Chief Dan George, an actor who was in Little Big Man and The Outlaw Josie Wales. He spoke of the Creator as if he knew Him and His Son personally. “Windy Ray told Pete that the only thing a person can find that will make them stop searching is peace with the Creator. When you have that, it is enough. But without it, nothing is ever enough.”

The book dealt with facing shortcomings, overcoming problems, making and relying on friends and forgiving others. It truly is a gem.
* A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a solid faith thread 

BackCover Blurb:
For the first time in his life, Pete has everything to lose.

After years of drifting, fifty-year-old Pete Ryman has settled down with his potbellied pig, Pearl, in the small Montana town of Sleeping Grass--a place he never expected to see again. It's not the life he dreamed of, but there aren't many prospects for a high-school dropout like him.

Elderly widow Wilma Jacobsen carries a burden of guilt over her part in events that led to Pete leaving Sleeping Grass decades ago. Now that he's back, she's been praying for the chance to make things right, but she never expected God's answer to leave her flat on her face--literally--and up to her ears in meddling.

When the younger sister Pete was separated from as a child shows up in Sleeping Grass with her eleven-year-old son, Pete is forced to face a past he buried long ago, and Wilma discovers her long-awaited chance at redemption may come at a higher cost than she's willing to pay. 

Bethany House Publishers, September 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Monday, September 25, 2023

THE SECRETS BENEATH by Kim Woodhouse, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

What a wonderful start to a new series. I always wanted to be an archeologist and now I get to live it vicariously through this book. It was informative but so much more than an old pile of bones. The suspenseful tension was woven throughout the whole book.

After a flash flood in 1878 Wyoming, fossils are discovered on a neighboring property by Anna Lakeman and her father, Peter. Anna wants credit for being a paleontologist and an artist chronicling the bones. When a health incident keeps her father bedridden, she becomes the supervisor at the dig.

Joshua Ziegler returns from Chicago where he is in training to be a doctor. Helping out on the dig site, Joshua re-connects with Anna after a painful parting three years ago.

The story was mystifying at times and problems surfaced making it interesting and exciting. Anna and Joshua were both Christians and sought to please God but had some maturing to do. A clear Gospel message was presented naturally and realistically. Forgiveness and showing kindness were themes.

I was kept on my toes wondering which protagonist posed the greatest threat.

Ms. Woodhouse has set the stage for what promises to be a delightful series.
*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 solid faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
Some secrets can only stay buried for so long. . . .

Anna Lakeman has spent her life working alongside her paleontologist father, drawing intricate sketches at every dig. When they find dinosaur bones near their home in Wyoming Territory, they're given the opportunity of a lifetime and are swiftly caught up in the competitive era of the Bone Wars. But after her father becomes sick and Joshua Ziegler, an old beau, returns for the summer, Anna's world is upended, and the practical, orderly life she has made for herself shatters.

Medical student Joshua Ziegler left his hometown to forget Anna, the one woman he truly loved and deeply hurt. But when he returns, time hasn't erased the feelings they've always had for each other. After Joshua's nephew goes missing--just like his sister did years ago--and Anna's job is threatened, tensions mount and dangerous secrets are unearthed. 

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

WE THREE KINGS Anthology by Crystal Caudill, Cara Putman, and Angela Ruth Strong. Reviewed by Trixi and Rebecca #ReleaseDay


When I review anthologies, I like to touch on a few details in each story that stood out to me. Here's my take:

Unfortunately I could not get into Star of Wonder by Crystal Caudill, so I mostly skimmed through. I did like the historical details and how Aldrich and Celestia's romance played out. Their reliance on God to guide them in love and life was refreshing.

Beauty Bright by Cara Putman was very interesting to me! I've watched the movie Monuments Men that came out in 2014, and loved the film. To learn about those who risked their lives to find and protect priceless artwork stolen by the Nazis just after WW2 was a piece of history I didn't know about. I don't read many war stories, but this one definitely kept my interest! And again watching the romance grow between Charles and Lillian as they worked together and how their faith ground them was a delight. Cara Putman's inclusion of historical details was well researched!

Perfect Light was probably my favorite of the bunch! I loved Angela Strong's novel Husband Auditions so I was definitely looking forward to her story. It's a modern day contemporary romance that hooked me from the beginning. I think what I liked the most was that both Brendon and Lacey weren't flawless perfect characters that had it all together, but rather two imperfect people dealing with some past hurts. The character growth in each one was realistic and had me rooting for them until the end! There were quite a few funny moments to temper the hard stuff along with a faith thread to help them get through. Brendon was my idea of what a hero should be, and through his gentle ways, finally won Lacey's heart. A sigh-worthy romance!

These are three unique stories connected by a single family name chock full of adventure, love and a solid faith theme sure to delight readers this holiday season (or any time of the year really)!
*I received a complimentary copy via the authors and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions expressed here are my own. *

"Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder trivialized the effect separation had on two people"

Setting the stage for the remainder of the book, "Star of Wonder" finds astronomy club members Celestia Isaacs and Aldrich Weise's relationship at a crossroads; what better way to spend time together again than on one of the Weise family's luxury steamer ships . . . unless the man in question has suddenly decided that the turn his life is taking needs to be a solitary one. Could God direct their paths as He had done so many years ago for the magi when He placed a "star of wonder" in the sky? - Star of Wonder, Crystal Caudill

As a Monument Man following World War II, Lieutenant Charles Weise has personal hopes of finding a treasured piece of art, "The Adoration of the Magi", which his grandfather had owned before fleeing Germany. Assisted by the lovely Captain Lillian Thorsen, their efforts are thwarted by the sheer magnitude of their assignment. Could "beauty bright" penetrate the darkness of this war-torn country, perhaps providing a Christmas miracle before it was too late? -Beauty Bright, Cara Putman

Essential oils magnate Brendon Wise has come to a very logical decision, he is prepared to invite his Christmas festival event planner Lacey Foster out to dinner. They've spent countless virtual hours together, so taking matters from a business relationship to a much more personal one feels right to him . . .. but Lacey? Lacey has complications, and they are not the kind that can be swept under the proverbial rug. Can Brendon persuade her to accept the fact that love is a gift . . . "there is joy in giving but also in receiving". - Perfect Light, Angela Ruth Strong

Reviewing collections is always a little tricky, but rest assured, each one of these stories is a poignant reminder that faith requires following the Light, just as the magi did so many years ago.
*I purchased a copy and had no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars
 BackCover Blurb:

In this Christmas collection, Weise men still seek Jesus--and love

Best-selling romance authors Caudill, Putman, and Strong follow three generations of the Weise family in this third collection of Christmas novellas from Kregel that will prove just as popular as the previous award-winning volumes.

"Star of Wonder" by Crystal Caudill

The Christmas-themed maiden voyage of his family's grand steamer ship was supposed to be Aldrich Weise's chance both to instill investor confidence and to romance Celestia Isaacs. Instead, he must foil a criminal and leave his lady love behind forever.

"Beauty Bright" by Cara Putman

Lieutenant Charles Weise served as a Monuments Man after World War II and now works to restore stolen art to rightful owners. Captain Lillian Thorsen pairs up with him not only to return treasures but also to fix the war-torn lives around them.

"Perfect Light" by Angela Ruth Strong

Essential oils mogul Brendon Wise is drawn to Lacey Foster, the event planner for his huge Christmas lights festival. But when he inadvertently makes a spectacle of her on television, Lacey wants nothing to do with him. Will a chance to give gifts to those in need at Christmas be the key to discovering common ground--and maybe love? 

Kregel Publications, September, 2023
Available in digital ebook and paperback


Sunday, September 17, 2023

FOREVER AFTER ALL by Mandi Blake, Reviewed by Kim #ReleaseDay

Ever since I read the teaser about Jess and Linc’s story that was at the end of The Other Side, the previous story in this series, I have been looking forward to reading Forever After All by Mandi Blake. Mandi always writes great characters that are easy to like and easy to root for. There is always a sweet romance, a good faith thread, and a bit of suspense that will keep you turning the pages.

I knew during the opening scene of this story that I was gonna like Jess! Her bold honesty is just so refreshing and at times hilarious. I liked the pops of humor, especially when it came from the characters thought processes. Linc’s past was unexpected and had me totally interested. I couldn’t wait to find out what his back story was! His comments and thoughts had me laughing out loud more than a few times. I also really enjoyed catching up with all of the previous characters through the bonus epilogue. Such a great addition to this series!

Forever After All is book 6 of the Wolf Creek Ranch series by Mandi Blake. I think each story can be read as a standalone, but after reading all of them, I would say it adds so much more to the reading experience to read them all in order! I’m looking forward to whatever Mandi Blake writes next!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 4 stars. The faith thread was light.

BackCover Blurb:
He's stranded with his best friend. Is it a chance for love, or will a threat from his past steal their happy ending?

Jess Patton is blunt, but there’s one person who never bats an eye when she speaks her mind. When that same man rescues her from a bad blind date, her rapidly beating heart is impossible to ignore. Suddenly, she's second-guessing everything she knows about him.

After everything he’s seen and done, Lincoln North knows he doesn’t deserve a woman like Jess. Not only is she gorgeous, but she doesn’t play games, and being around her is as easy as breathing. She’s also the only woman who has ever made him wish he were a better man, so watching her try to find love with anyone but him might just be the death of him.

In a twist of fate Linc never saw coming, they wind up stranded together in a mountain cabin. As Jess starts to see Linc in a whole new light, he’s tempted to believe he might have a shot at happiness with her.

But Linc’s past is as dark as midnight, and it's waiting for him back at the ranch. Linc and Jess have more than a storm standing between them and their happily ever after. Will they weather it together, or will he be forced to push her away to keep her safe?

Forever After All is a sweet friends to more redemption romance and the sixth book in the Wolf Creek Ranch series. 

September 2023 Available in digital ebook and paperback at Amazon

Thursday, September 14, 2023

FACING THE ENEMY by DiAnn Mills, Reviewed and hosted by Paula Shreckhise #PartnersInCrimeTour #giveaway

Facing The Enemy by DiAnn Mills Banner

Facing The Enemy

by DiAnn Mills

September 4 - 29, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Facing The Enemy by DiAnn Mills

For the past five years, FBI Special Agent Risa Jacobs has worked in the violent crimes against children division of the Houston FBI. She’s never had reason to believe there’s a target on her back . . . until now.

When the long-awaited reunion between Risa and her brother, Trenton, ends in tragedy, Risa is riddled with guilt, unable to cope with the responsibility she feels over his death. On leave from the FBI, Risa returns to her former career as an English teacher at a local college, only to see her past and present collide when one of her students, Carson Mercury, turns in an assignment that reads like an eyewitness account of her brother’s murder, with details never revealed publicly.

Alarmed by Carson’s inside knowledge of Trenton’s death, Risa reaches out to her former partner at the FBI. Special Agent Gage Patterson has been working a string of baby kidnappings, but he agrees to help look into Carson’s background. Risa and Gage soon discover their cases might be connected as a string of high-value thefts have occurred at properties where security systems were installed by Carson’s stepfather and children have gone missing. There’s a far more sinister plot at play than they ever imagined, and innocent lives are in danger.

DiAnn Mills delivers romantic suspense fans a heart-pounding thriller about loss, betrayal, and finding the strength to trust again!

Praise for Facing The Enemy:

"Riveting! In her signature style, Diann Mills expertly weaves a gripping tale of ever-increasing danger. Captivating, authentic characters along with surprising twists and turns drew me deeper into this engrossing thriller and kept me on the edge of my seat until the last page. I still can’t stop thinking about it!"
~ Elizabeth Goddard, bestselling author of COLD LIGHT OF DAY

"I’m a longtime reader of suspense thrillers, but DiAnn Mills’ latest, FACING THE ENEMY, made me gasp with surprise. The issues involved in the story—adoption and the families who long to love children—are close to my heart, and that emotional connection held me by the heartstrings. Not to be missed! "
~ Angela Hunt, author of WHAT A WAVE MUST BE

Facing The Enemy Trailer:

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 2023
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781496451941 (ISBN10: 1496451945)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | ChristianBook

This thrilling and absorbing novel will keep you on your toes with its intricate plot. Ms. Mills surely knows how to pique my interest with her stories of FBI agents trying to solve crimes of current relevance. This time it is a baby buying racket targeting unwed mothers. She crafts her villains with all the traits that have you cringing and rooting all the more for the good guys.

Agent partners, Risa and Gage face danger and puzzling circumstances while they try to get to the bottom-or the top- of the baby ring. I was shocked more than a few times at the turns in the story. A welcome aspect was the growing faith of Risa as she navigates her grief. “Honesty brings us one step closer to healing and giving the tragedy to God.”

I liked the scenes with the Christian therapist and how she helped Risa work through her apprehensions.

The romance that Risa and Gage finally acknowledged was realistic and showed struggles that were plausible.

This was an excellent, suspenseful story that focused on a significant and disturbing crime.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale through Partners in Crime Tours (PICT). I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a solid faith thread

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Houston, Texas
July 29

Twelve years ago, my younger brother fell into an abyss of drugs and alcohol. He chose his addictions over Mom and Dad—and me. Prayers for healing fell flat, but none of us gave up, proving our belief in unconditional love. Then yesterday he called, and my hopes skyrocketed. Trenton said he missed me and wanted to make amends with his family, beginning with his older sis. We chose to meet at a popular restaurant for a late dinner within walking distance of my apartment.

A knock on my cubicle jolted me back to reality. Gage, my work partner, towered in the entryway and grinned. “Hey, what’s going on?”

The sound of his voice caused me to tingle to my toes. “Thinking.”

“Obviously, you were a million miles away.” His blue-gray eyes bore into mine, the intensity nearly distracting me.

I leaned back in my comfy, ergonomic chair. “My brother called.”

“Trenton? The guy you haven’t seen in years?”

“The same.”


“He wants to meet tonight for dinner, to talk about making amends.”

Gage shook his head. “Risa, he has a record a mile long. He’s planning on manipulating you, squeezing every penny he can get.”

I picked up an old photo of Trenton and me as kids. Dad had snapped it while we were in our tree house. I swiped at a piece of dust, then replaced it beside my photo of Mom and Dad. “I must give him a chance. He’s my brother.”

“What if he’s gotten himself in over his head and needs his FBI agent sis to bail him out?”

I bit into my lower lip. Gage’s words had a level of truth, even if I didn’t want to admit it. “I want to hear him out.”

Gage stepped closer. “I don’t want to see you hurt. Remember three years ago when he called you from a bar demanding money, cursed you until you hung up?” The soft gentleness in his whispered tone said more than friend to friend. “Think about canceling the dinner or let me go with you.”

Emotion rose thick in my throat. “You mean well, and I—” Catching myself, I nearly said love. “I appreciate your concern. But I’ll be fine. Want me to call you afterward?”

He nodded. “I can run by if you need to talk.”

I peered into the face of the man I adored. “I will. Promise.”


I arrived early at the restaurant to meet Trenton, anticipating his contagious smile perfected by an overpaid orthodontist. The phone attempted to keep my attention, but my mind swirled with how I wanted tonight to move forward against the reality of what had happened in the past.

The host approached me. Trenton walked behind him, towering several inches above the short man. I held my breath and stood, not feeling my legs, only my pulse speeding at the sight of my brother.

Trenton chuckled low, the familiar, dazzling, heart-crunching expression that had always touched me with sibling love. Clear brown eyes captured mine. Gone were the dilated pupils and bone-thin body. My brother held out his buff arms, and I rushed into them.

“Risa, you look amazing,” he whispered. “Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.”

“Nothing could have kept me away.” I stepped back, noting the miracle before me. Telling Mom and Dad wasn’t a part of tonight’s plan, but I wished they were here. We’d all be blubbering. I swiped at a tear and feared a humiliating sob would replace my already-fragile composure. “I want to remember this moment forever.” Please stay strong this time.

“Me too, Sis.” He gestured to the booth. “Sit, and let’s talk and eat.”

I slid in and he took the opposite side of the table. A server presented us with menus and asked for our drink order.

“We’ll have two Dr Peppers,” Trenton said.

He remembered my favorite drink. No mention of alcohol. I breathed in deeply to steady myself. I wanted our reunion to be special, not me a weeping mess. “I’ve missed you.”

Trenton cocked his head, and the mischievous brother from days gone by appeared. “I’ve been clean for four months. Working steady and enrolled in night school for the next college term.” He took my hands, and his features grew serious. “But before I say another word, I’m sorry. I promise you, I’ll never hurt you, Mom, or Dad again. Please forgive me for the mess I made of my life and dragging my family through the stench of it.”

I’d heard this before, from his teen years into his twenties. Dare I believe our prayers had been answered? “I forgave you years ago. All we ever wanted for you is a healthy body and mind.”

“Thanks, Sis. I know you’ve heard this ‘I’m sorry’ junk before, but I’m well on my way.”

His words warmed me like a quilt on a chilly night. “I can see it, feel it. Why tell me first instead of Mom and Dad?”

“Great times with you growing up that never left me.”

Memories rushed over me . . . The time we went camping by ourselves and it snowed. Birthdays. Christmases. All the treasured times I believed had vanished into the chasm of addiction.

The server returned with our drinks, and Trenton released my hands.

“Have you decided on your order?” the server said.

Neither of us had picked up our menus, but I often frequented the restaurant and ordered a vegan dish. Trenton opted for their pork chop and fixings.

“And I’ll take the bill.” He pointed at me. “No arguments.”

“My treat when we have dinner again.”

“Got it.”

“You were about to tell me something about us.”

He rubbed his palms on the thighs of his jeans. “Two things stand out. The first one happened when I was four, so that made you ten. You were watching me trying to climb an oak tree in the back yard. I was crying because my short legs couldn’t swing high enough. Then I felt your hand on my shoulder. You boosted me up onto the branch. Climbed up with me. No long after that, Dad built us a tree house.”

“I loved that tree house. You had your space and I had mine.”

“What I’ll always remember is what you said to me. ‘Trenton, I’m your big sis. I’ll always help you. I promise.’”

I blinked back the ocean of hopeful tears. “Thanks. I remember our times in the tree house, our private little world.”

“One more reason I contacted you. I was six and you were twelve. For three summers, Mom and Dad put me in swimming lessons, but I couldn’t put my head underwater. Not sure why. You convinced Mom and Dad that you could teach me how to swim. So every day we went to the neighborhood pool, and at the end of two weeks, I was swimming. I trusted you.”

I took a deep breath. Be aware of manipulation, Risa. “Thanks.” I raised a finger. “I remember being a high school junior and this jerk of a guy followed me home. Wouldn’t leave me alone. You punched him in the nose.”

Trenton laughed. “My voice hadn’t changed yet, but I wasn’t going to let him bother you.”

“That’s love, Brother.” Oh, Trenton, let this be for keeps. I’m afraid to believe the nightmare is over.

“And we’ll make many more crazy times together. Do you have plans for Saturday morning? I volunteer at a community center for kids at risk. We have a mixed basketball team, and I could use some help with the girls.”

I shivered. What a blessing to have my brother back. “All I need is a time and place.”

“You never fail me, Sis.” He took a long drink of his Dr Pepper. “Are you writing?”

I grinned. “Dabbling here and there.”

“I never understood why you left a safe job as a college prof and writer to the dangers of the FBI?” He shrugged. “Other than your wild side that you kept more in check than I did.”

“Teaching and writing short stories with a few successful publications failed to fill my adventure deficit. Every time I read about a crime, I wanted to be the one working the case. Dad said I couldn’t create a crime and solve it—I had to be actively involved.”

“Your personality better fits law enforcement. Still married to the FBI?”

I wiggled my shoulders. “Of course. Five years ago, I moved to the Violent Crime Division, specifically Crimes Against Children. It’s stressful and emotional, but protecting children suits me.”

He frowned. “Because of me?”

I blinked. “A little. My main reason is what happened to the little girl who lived across the street from us.”

“Right.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry her death still bothers you. Isn’t there a special team for finding missing kids?”

“Child Abduction Rapid Deployment or CARD. They’re an elite, specialized team, and that’s all they do. That’s not my role, but we often work together.”

“What do you investigate?” Trenton seemed interested in my job, another first.

“My partner and I investigate kidnappings, pedophiles, pornography, online predators, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, parental kidnapping, and any other situation that fell into the ‘violent crimes against children’ bucket.”

“I remember you were the neighborhood babysitter.” He gave me his unforgettable impish grin. “And I also remember how much fun you had learning how to handle a car at high speeds.”

I couldn’t conceal my laughter. “Guess I’m part daredevil. Blame Dad for that. I remember loving to watch him race cars.”

“He’d still be at it if Mom hadn’t insisted his speed-loving days were over.”

“When he taught me to drive, I learned a lot of tricks,” I said.

“He already knew I was danger on wheels and asked Mom to teach me.” He laughed. “Any potential brothers-in-law?”

I waved off his remark. My thoughts swept to Gage. Maybe I had found him, but that was a future conversation. “Nope. My job scares them off. I had more dates during my stint as a dull college professor.”

“You dull? Never. You just haven’t found the right guy. Pray about it, and if there’s a guy good enough for my sis, he’ll appear.”

I startled. “Did you say pray?”

“Think about it. Who but God could have turned me around? Helped me walk away from drugs, alcohol, and so-called friends?”

Even in his good days, Trenton had steered away from mentions of faith. Maybe he had changed. “I don’t know what to say.”

“That’s a first.” He chuckled. “You always had more words in one day than I had in a week. But honestly, no more jail. No more being tossed out of an apartment because I couldn’t pay the rent. No more waking up and not remembering the night before.”

Wow. A true miracle. I swiped at happy tears. “I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad.”

He leaned over the table as though to tell me a secret. “I’ll do the honors very soon.”

When our food arrived, he asked to say grace. I was so glad our eyes were closed, or he’d have seen a leaky faucet. We chatted through dinner. Laughed about some of the goofy things we’d done as kids. Time seemingly stopped, and my half-full cup of blessings spilled over with joy.

“Will you tell me about your healing journey?” I said.

“You can hear for yourself when I talk to Mom and Dad.” He moistened his lips. “Do you trust me enough to walk you back to your apartment and call them from there? I mean, does your building have a lobby area with a little privacy?”

“It does, but you can call from my apartment. Trenton, they will be incredibly happy.”

“I hope so.”

I was so focused on our conversation that I didn’t think I tasted my favorite dish. We finished and he paid the bill. Outside the restaurant, a few people mingled, and the night sky hosted a half-moon, alerting me to how long Trenton and I had talked. I breathed in thankfulness and expectations for a positive tomorrow. At the crosswalk, we waited for the pedestrian sign to signal our turn.

“How long have you lived in this fancy high-rise?” he said as we ambled across the street.

“Two years. I like the busyness and excitement.”

“It must be in your DNA. One day, I want a small place in the country where it’s quiet.”

“Never for me. I’ll visit you though.” The humid heat mixed with exhaust fumes spiraled around us. “What are you taking in college?”

“Psychology. See if I can’t help a few kids understand life and avoid pitfalls.”

“Incredible. I’m so pro—”

Trenton grabbed my shoulders and thrust me several feet ahead next to the curb. I landed on my side and rolled over. What—?

A horrible thud.

A woman screamed.

Tires squealed.

Horns blew.

Stinging pain radiated up my leg, side, arm, and head. In agony, I managed to roll over and glance at the street.

My brother’s body lay in the intersection, a twisted mass of flesh and blood.


Excerpt from FACING THE ENEMY by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2023 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. 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 member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Jerry Jennings Writers Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches 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:
BookBub - @DiAnnMills
Instagram - @diannmillsauthor
X - @diannmills
Facebook - @diannmills
YouTube - @diannmills



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Sunday, September 10, 2023

HE SHOULD HAVE TOLD THE BEES by Amanda Cox, Reviewed by Kim

Amanda Cox is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me. He Should Have Told the Bees is a beautifully written story of grief, healing, forgiveness, and growth, but somehow, it does not feel so heavy that it weighs you down.

Both Callie and Beckett’s stories are full of depth and growth for each character. After Beckett’s dad passes, they are unexpectedly thrown together and both are trying to figure out why. I loved how their relationship built as the story progressed. I also enjoyed the budding romances in this story. Luke was such a great support for Callie. Isaac, and his niece Fern, otherwise known as “Katya Amadeus Cimmaron From the planet Zirthwyth of the Vesper Galaxy” really brought Beckett out of her shell. Speaking of Fern, she is the bright light in this story! I loved her!

This story and its characters is one that will stick with me for a long time as has every story I’ve read by Amanda Cox!
*I received a complimentary copy of this story. All opinions are my own. The faith thread is light. 4.5 stars.

SEE REVIEWS by Rebecca and Paula

BackCover Blurb:
Uncovering long-held family secrets may sting at first--but the result can be sweeter than honey

Beekeeper Beckett Walsh is living her dream, working alongside her father in their apiary, until his untimely death sends her world into a tailspin. She suddenly finds she must deal with a new part owner of the family business--one who is looking to sell the property. Beck cannot fathom why her father would put her into the position to lose everything they built together.

When Callie Peterson is named in the trust of a man she's never heard of, she's not sure what to do. Her fledgling business has just taken wing and her mother has reentered her life asking for help getting into rehab for her lifelong substance abuse issues, making Callie's financial situation rather . . . precarious. She's sure she has no right to someone else's farm, but the money from the sale could solve her problems and give her the stability she's always craved.

As these two women navigate their present conundrum, they will discover a complex and entangled past full of secrets--and the potential for a brighter future for both of them.

Revell Publishing, August 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.
Buy HE SHOULD HAVE TOLD THE BEES at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House



Saturday, September 9, 2023

A ROYAL CHRISTMAS by Melody Carlson, Reviewed by Kim

The gorgeous cover of this story is really what made me want to read it. When I started A Royal Christmas by Melody Carlson, I was expecting a Hallmark type, sweet romance full of Christmas feels set in a charming town. While there was a sweet romance, a charming village, and a lot of Christmas feels, this novella is also packed full of unexpected surprises!

I really liked Adelaide. She was sweet, but she didn’t let people push her around. She made her own decisions and stuck with them. I really enjoyed the developing relationship between her and Anton, although I would’ve liked a bit more romance, or maybe an epilogue would have sufficed. Adelaide and her father formed a nice, believable bond. There was some intrigue and a few other surprises I did not expect but thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the faith message which was basically this quote from the story, “God’s plan in God’s time.”

I really enjoyed this novella and recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet Christmas read with an added touch of intrigue!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. The faith thread is light. 4 stars. 


 BackCover Blurb:
Adelaide Smith is too busy for fairy tales. She's been working hard to put herself through law school and now that the end is in sight, she's determined to stay focused on her goals. Then she receives a letter notifying her that she has been found through a DNA registry to be a direct descendant of King Maximillian V, the ruler of a small Eastern European principality called Montovia. She's understandably skeptical. This is the stuff of cheesy made-for-TV movies, not real life.

Although the pieces of this surprising family puzzle seem too good to be true, curiosity gets the best of her. At the king's invitation, Adelaide embarks on a Christmas break trip that is chock-full of surprises, including a charming village, an opulent palace, family mysteries, royal jealousies, a handsome young member of Parliament--and the chance at a real fairy tale romance with a happily-ever-after ending.

Spend this Christmas with bestselling author Melody Carlson as she whisks you away to a royal holiday you'll never forget!

This is a satisfying quick-read story for fans of Melody Carlson and heartwarming family Christmas tales with an underlying romance brewing! 

Revell Publishing, Sept. 5, 2023
Available in digital ebook or hardcover *novella at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House



UNSEEN DANGER (Guardians Unleashed #3) by Jerusha Agen, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"She launched herself the remaining four feet, jacket outstretched, and tackled him to the ground."

Saving a man's life gave Nevaeh Williams some well deserved, and possibly unwanted attention; after all, it was what she was trained to do as a member of the Phoenix K-9 Security and Detection Agency. Following the incident, the celebrity rapper whose band member could have burned to death following the suspicious pyrotechnic explosion adds Nevaeh and her canine to his protection detail, bringing the duo into close contact with bodyguard Branson Aaberg, whose size and strength trigger nightmares from her past. Nevaeh could not allow post traumatic stress to interfere with her job, she just couldn't.

Branson Aaberg needed to keep his celebrity client safe at all costs, his family was depending on the income that he was providing to fund much-needed medical treatments for his father. If adding K-9 patrols at night was necessary, who was he to argue with the boss? Of course it had nothing to do with one of the gorgeous handlers, whose behavior around him was odd, maybe even borderline bizarre . . . if he didn't know better, Branson might think that Nevaeh was afraid of him . . . wait a minute, was she afraid of him?
Rife with unexplained accidents and incidents, this story nudges its readers straight into the center of a complicated criminal case while also bravely exploring the nature of fear, querying whether or not fear is a positive or negative emotion; and even more perplexing, can it be overcome? Nevaeh is heading into a struggle that neither her training nor the man who cares deeply can protect her from . . . only, "Our God is mighty to save . . . ". 

*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
This woman and her K-9 protect others. Now who will protect them?

After a brutal attack, it took Nevaeh Williams six years to rebuild her life. Now a security specialist at the Phoenix K-9 Security and Detection Agency, she faces danger nearly every day. But when an old friend is targeted, her fragile stability begins to crumble.

Celebrity bodyguard Branson Aaberg could lose more than his career if he fails to end the mysterious threat against his client. Soon he’s more concerned with rescuing the tough but vulnerable woman who joins his security team.

Nevaeh is there to protect her friend, but what if she needs protection? What if the feeling she’s being watched isn’t the result of her traumatized imagination? If the danger is real, Nevaeh's only hope for survival may be the God powerful enough to defeat her worst enemy—the one she doesn't see before it's too late.

July, 2023 Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover. Buy UNSEEN DANGER at Amazon 

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