Wednesday, January 31, 2024

FRAGILE DESIGNS by Colleen Coble, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"If I hadn't had hope when Eric was murdered, I don't know how I would have gone on. Hope that God had a plan for my future, hope for building a life with my son, hope for finding my way."

"Our lives are so fragile. Maybe it's by design so we look to God."

Carly Harris was living a life that no young woman would choose; raising an infant son as a single mother after the brutal unsolved, inexplicable murder of her husband. Moving into her grandmother's roomy, historic Beaufort, South Carolina home provides Carly a modicum of comfort and stability while also putting her in close proximity with the "boy next door", homicide detective Lucas Bennett, whose recollection of Carly isn't all that positive. As it turns out, she really needs him; an attic discovery just changed everything.

Two words . . . beautifully paced. In spite of the ever-changing details of the plot line, the flow between story and character reads like a stream rather than a swollen river, giving the reader plenty of time to absorb and process all the details . . .which are many . . . and complicated . . . and fascinating . . . leaving room for the biggest wonder of it all (at least for Carly and Lucas) . . . love!

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


BackCover Blurb:
There’s only one thing more dangerous than family secrets.

Since her police-officer husband Eric’s mysterious murder, Carly Harris has been struggling to support herself and their infant son. Her career as an antique dealer isn’t sustainable, nor is her dream of becoming a novelist. So when her grandmother proposes she and her two sisters restore the family’s large Beaufort home and turn it into a bed-and-breakfast, she immediately gets to work clearing out the house. In the process, she uncovers a family secret that Eric kept hidden. And an heirloom that the wrong person wouldn’t hesitate to kill for.

Homicide detective Lucas Bennett isn’t his neighbor’s biggest fan, not since she broke his brother’s heart years ago. But when Carly turns to Lucas for help, believing she’s found a lost Fabergé egg that would be worth millions and that could put her family’s lives in danger, he can’t help but get involved. Soon, they’re entangled in a mystery with threads that lead all the way to the Russian mafia. Lucas has gotten in deep, and while he trusts his ability to keep Carly and her family safe, he begins to realize he’s vulnerable to an unexpected kind of danger. And he’s helpless to stop the freefall. As they continue working closely together, Carly and Lucas realize they may have found something more precious than gold. Yet it’s only a matter of time before Carly—or, worse, someone she loves—gets hurt.

Contemporary romantic suspense
Stand-alone novel
Book length: approximately 90,000 words
Includes discussion questions for book clubs

Thomas Nelson Publishing, January, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:




Monday, January 29, 2024

PROTECTING HER HEART by Nancy Campbell Allen, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Set in London in the late 1880s, Protecting Her Heart is the third book in Nancy Campbell Allen’s Matchmaker series. Although I haven’t read the previous books in the series, I was able to follow the story well. With well-crafted, engaging, endearing characters and an intriguing and creative plot, this book kept me entertained and guessing.

The main characters include Charlotte Duvall who had recently graduated as a medical doctor in America, and John Ellis serving as the director of London’s police force. John is a capable, compassionate hero who has had romantic feelings for Charlotte for years. I loved his tender regard for Charlotte and seeing their relationship grow and change as they worked together to solve the mystery surrounding the death of Charlotte’s mother many years before. It was impressive to see Charlotte as a strong, independent, goal-oriented woman who pushed against the societal norms of the time to become a woman doctor. I loved that John supported and encouraged her in her goals.

With plenty of intrigue, danger, suspense, and a generous dose of romance, this book has something for everyone. I recommend this book to those who enjoy clean, wholesome historical romantic suspense.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.4.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
London, 1887

When newly graduated medical doctor Charlotte Duvall receives word that her father has died, she immediately leaves America and returns home to see to her family’s estate. Among her father’s possessions is a box of her late mother’s letters, which feels like a balm to Charlotte’s grief-stricken heart. But the letters contain some inconsistencies that suggest there was more to her mother’s death than Charlotte had been told. She turns to the one man she trusts more than anyone—her treasured friend and director of London’s police force, John Ellis.

John Ellis has harbored feelings for Charlotte ever since he first met her. Tucked into his heart are thoughts of her sharp mind, quick wit, and remarkable beauty. Though he has not yet found the courage to share his feelings with the young doctor, he is eager to help her in her hour of need.

Investigating the details of a death was not how Charlotte imagined she would find love, but as she and John work to unravel a dark web of secrets and lies, she finds herself relying on him more and more—and opening her heart to him in the process.

As the danger draws ever closer, John vows to do everything in his power to protect Charlotte from harm. But he fears protecting her heart might come at the cost of breaking his own.

Shadow Mountain Publishing, January 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:

Friday, January 26, 2024

HEROES IN THE CROSSFIRE Collection, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

Four Romantic Suspense Novellas
by Authors Lynn H. Blackburn, Lynette Eason, 
Elizabeth Goddard, and Lisa Harris

"It was Charles. She'd successfully avoided seeing him for weeks. Not because she didn't want to see him. Because she wanted to see him too much." - Out of Time, Lynn H. Blackburn

A nicely paced package of sweet romance and intense drama, merging the demands of trying to solve a murder, find missing children, and restoring a relationship. Hope and Charles are wonderful characters whom fans will love having all to themselves.
"'Stay out of this hospital', the voice whispered. 'Or die. This is your last warning.'" - Code Trauma, Lynette Eason

A series of bizarre notes led flight nurse practitioner Holly Cooper to suspect that she had a stalker, but the threats were escalating to the point that she felt seriously threatened. Holly wished that the one person who made her feel safe was still close by, but he wasn't . . . Detective Andy McKittrick had asked for a "pause" in their relationship . . . whatever that meant, it was terrible timing.
"I don't know why I was in the cave. I don't know where home is. I don't know if my name is really Angie." - Dawn's Hidden Threat, Elizabeth Goddard

Surviving a fall off the side of an Alaskan slope, Angie Harris is left with a head injury and very little memory. The man who finds her is shocked to realize that he knows her, rather well actually, but she has no recollection of their prior relationship. As Angie slowly regains bits and pieces of herself, the reason for her being anywhere near Ridge Ledger becomes clear . . . DANGER AHEAD!!!
"How had this happened?" - Point Blank, Lisa Harris

During a routine training exercise, a member of Nikki Boyd's Tennessee Missing Person's Task Force team is actually killed. Unraveling the rather bizarre elements of the case not only consume a lot of Nikki's attention but their training leader, US Marshal Jonas Quinn, and the newest member of the team, Madison James spend some unexpected time together. A well-written thriller using only a small number of pages! 
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 
BackCover Blurb:
Four Romantic Suspense Novellas by award-winning, bestselling authors.

Out of Time by Lynn Blackburn

An attorney in Raleigh, NC, Hope Malone has never let her wheelchair stop her from reaching her goals. She’s established a successful business law practice and enjoys the occasional pro bono work. But when a long-lost friend reaches out for help, Hope finds herself dragged into a world of organized crime, kidnapping, and murder— and right back in the path of the one man she’s determined to avoid, FBI Special Agent Charles Romero.

Just days away from arresting the notorious crime boss, Charles never expects Hope— the woman who ghosted him seven weeks ago— to show up at a crime scene and nearly destroy his entire case. If he wants to convince her to give them another chance, he’ll first have to keep her from sacrificing her life to save two innocent ones.

Code Trauma by Lynette Eason

Flight Nurse Practitioner, Holly Cooper, has an enemy who wants her gone from the hospital one way or another. She and her fiancé, Detective Andy McKittrick are “taking a break”, and a patient has died under mysterious circumstances. Life is complicated at the moment so when she’s attacked, her friends—and “on hold” fiancé come to the rescue. Andy may have his issues, but he’s never stopped loving Holly. When he hears someone is out to get her, he races to her side. Can they find a killer before the killer succeeds in sending Holly six feet under?
Dawn's Hidden Threat by Elizabeth Goddard

An Unexpected Search and Rescue uncovers a hidden threat. When Ridge Ledger’s SAR and avalanche dog discovers an injured woman, Ridge is surprised that she’s the woman who broke his heart two months ago---in California. Not Alaska. He doesn’t know why she’s not still in the Lower 48, and he’s caught off guard when she attacks him as if fighting for her life. He’s shocked to learn the woman he loved has forgotten him. Angie Harris—is that even her name? —can’t recall who she is. She doesn’t know whom to trust, except for the man who rescued her from a cold dark cave and a grizzly bear. But she can’t forget the face of the man who tried to kill her. Remembering the reason that she came to Alaska is vital to her survival, and as it turns out, Ridge’s survival too.

Point Blank by Lisa Harris

From USA Today Best-selling author, Lisa Harris, comes a novella that brings together fan-favorite characters from two of her series—Nikki Boyd, her husband Tyler, and Jack Spencer from her best-selling Nikki Boyd Files Series, and Madison James and Jonas Quinn from her more recent US Marshal Series. When one of Nikki’s teammates is killed during a routine training exercise at a shoot house, deadly secrets are revealed as evidence of murder surfaces. Now, the remaining team is caught up in a highly personal case that pulls them into a tangled web of deception as they race to find a killer.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

SHADE GROWN by Heather Day Gilbert, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

Barks and Beans Cafe #8

"Mayor Boaz Hatfield would have his hands full in days to come."

And apparently, so would his sister Macy. A high profile Hollywood star lying dead among the hostas . . . in the middle of a commemorative shade garden, during a home and garden tour? That certainly wasn't an everyday occurrence in Lewisburg, West Virginia, now was it? Having happened upon the bizarre scene herself, Macy was determined to help the victim's sister dig down a little deeper, so to speak, to uncover who may have wanted Cody Franklin dead.

With striking ingenuity and an over abundance of curiosity, Macy narrows down her search for answers only to experience multiple dead-ends amidst a growing number of suspects, to the point of fearing for her own safety. In the end, it all comes down to the benefit of having nosy neighbors!

Easy to read, fun to read . . . and I am already looking forward to the next read in this delightful cozy mystery series! 
*I purchased the book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
BackCover Blurb:
BOOK EIGHT in the Award-winning
BARKS & BEANS CAFE cozy mystery series!!

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java...and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

During Lewisburg's popular summer home and garden tour, Macy and her brother Bo discover new aspects of their hometown's history. One of the last homes they visit features a lush commemorative shade garden marking where a Civil War soldier's bones were buried. As Macy pauses to admire a bed of blue hostas, she glimpses a shadowy shape lying beneath the dinner-plate leaves. It turns out to be the body of famed movie star Cody Franklin, who'd purchased the garden house as a quiet country retreat.

Back at the cafe, Macy speaks with Cody's distraught sister, who lets slip that she's afraid her brother's killer will target her next. Macy's heart goes out to the bereaved sibling, and she agrees to speak with Cody's local acquaintances in hopes she'll uncover some helpful backstory.

But someone powerful is lurking behind the scenes, and Macy has to zoom in on the killer before everything fades to black.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown...with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.

The Barks & Beans Cafe series in order:
Book 1: No Filter
Book 2: Iced Over
Book 3: Fair Trade
Book 4: Spilled Milk
Book 5: Trouble Brewing
Book 6: Cold Drip
Book 7: Roast Date
Book 8: Shade Grown
Standalone Novella: House Blend 

COLD THREAT by Nancy Mehl: Blog Tour, hosted by Paula Shreckhise with review for #Partners In Crime #Giveaway


Cold Threat

by Nancy Mehl

January 22 - February 2, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl

Twenty years ago, several people were murdered in Des Moines, and the only evidence left behind was a snowman ornament hanging ominously on a tree in the victims' front lawns. With a suspect behind bars, the killings have come to an end--or so everyone thought. But now crimes with a similar MO are happening in a small Iowa town, and a local detective believes the killer is back and ready to strike again.

With little time left on the clock before they have another murder on their hands, private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair must work alongside Tony's detective father to find evidence that will uncover an evil that has survived far too long. As the danger mounts and the suspect closes in, it will take all they have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 2024
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0764240461 (ISBN10: 0764240463)
Series: Ryland & St. Clair, 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Baker Book House

Read an excerpt:



I watched as fire devoured the house as if it were a living, breathing monster, ravenous for death and destruction. It took effort not to smile as I observed the fire department desperately trying to quench the ferocious flames, the firefighters slipping and sliding on the snow and ice. But winter is no match for me. They would lose this fight. The nightmare has just begun. Inside they will find my Christmas offering. Those whom I’d judged and executed. The beast was at my command and would destroy any evidence that could lead to me.

“It’s perfect,” she whispered. “I love it.”

I smiled at her. “It was a long time coming.”

“But you did it. I’m so proud of you.”

I had to blink away the sudden tears that filled my eyes.

“Shouldn’t we leave?”

I nodded. She was right. At some point, the police would arrive and would most certainly look through the people gathered across the street since many times those who set fires like to watch their creations dance and light up the night. They might even take pictures. This was the only time I felt comfortable hanging around for a few minutes—­before anyone had time to scan the crowd. This was important. The first. My debut performance.

I’d just turned to leave when a couple of police cars pulled up, lights flashing, their blue-and-red beams cutting through the night and the falling snow. I walked down the street, hidden behind a curtain of white. I stopped to watch as they exited their vehicles. The sight only added to my excitement. Two officers approached the fire department chief. As they talked, another officer stood on the sidewalk, staring at the structure that was being consumed. Suddenly, he shouted and pointed up toward the second floor. I had to walk back to see why. I stood behind a tree, trying not to look suspicious. That was when I saw it. A face peering through one of the windows.

“Oh no,” she said, her voice breaking. “How did you miss her?”

The officer who’d spotted the unthinkable began to run toward the front door, but two firefighters grabbed him and held him back while another one grabbed a ladder and put it up against the house. It was clearly a child staring at them, her eyes wide with fear. They tried to climb toward her, but it was impossible. The flames from the first floor blocked their way. I felt a wave of anger. She had defiled my righteous mission. I fought to push back my rage. I had no desire to hurt a child. She shouldn’t have hidden from me. I would have kept her safe. I sighed in frustration. This was her fault. Now all of us would have to watch as she died. There wasn’t anything I could do. I felt the urge to leave, but the police were concentrating on her. No one was focused on the crowd, so I risked staying a minute or two longer.

Suddenly I heard a shout and saw the police officer who’d tried to enter earlier suddenly run toward the compromised house and through the front door before anyone could stop him. What a fool. The monster I’d created was too strong. Now there would be two additional lives sacrificed. This wasn’t my mission. Only the guilty were supposed to die. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the blame was theirs. Not mine.

“Maybe he’ll get her out,” she said quietly.

I didn’t respond. I knew she was upset. I couldn’t find the words to tell her that it was too late for both of them.

Part of the house collapsed on the other side, away from the window where the child still stood. Everyone watched in horror. Two firefighters started to follow the officer into the house, but their chief called them back. It was clear they were frustrated, yet the chief obviously thought it was too dangerous for them to enter. He’d probably already written off the officer and the child.

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know,” I said.

I waited for the rest of the structure to fall, but as we all watched, the unbelievable happened. The police officer ran out of the house, something in his arms wrapped up in a blanket. A firefighter ran over to take the bundle from him as the rest of the building collapsed. The officer fell to the ground. I could see his burns from here. It looked as if the cloth from his shirt had melted to his skin and part of his dark hair had burned away. Now he would always remember this night. I felt no anger toward him. Truthfully, I was relieved that the child had a chance. I’d still accomplished my mission. This was a lesson learned. I had checked out the couple carefully, and I’d watched the house. Hadn’t seen any evidence of a child. Still, I’d missed something important. I would never make this mistake again.

She sighed with relief. “I’m so glad she’s okay.”

A thought suddenly struck me. I hadn’t seen the child, but had she seen me? Was she now a liability to my mission? As soon as the thought came, I dismissed it. She’d been hiding. Trying to make sure I couldn’t find her. She would have been too afraid to look at me knowing I might see her too. Besides, she was so young no one would take her seriously anyway. Even if she had caught a glimpse of me, soon I would look very different. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was safe.

The firefighters began treating the girl and the officer until an ambulance roared up. It was time to leave. I pulled my jacket tighter and let the darkness and the dancing flakes shroud me as I slipped away, but not before I glanced at the snowman ornament hanging on the tree planted near the sidewalk.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but sing softly, “Frosty the snowman . . .”



River Ryland stared at her phone, willing it to ring. Unfortunately, it seemed it didn’t respond well to mental telepathy. The pastor at the church she’d started attending with Tony had taught on faith yesterday. He’d brought up Mark 11:24 and Philippians 4:6. From what she could understand, faith was something you needed before your prayers were answered. As a child, she’d listened to her father preach, but he’d never mentioned anything like that. His sermons had been about sin and judgment. How to stay pure. Which was laughable since he ran off with the church’s secretary and left his daughter, son, and wife behind, humiliated and without any way to survive financially.

As she continued to eye her phone, she wondered if she should start believing that God would bring more clients to Watson Investigations. Was it okay to have faith for something like that? It was clear that faith was important to God, but she didn’t want to treat Him like some kind of genie in a lamp who would bring her whatever she asked for. What was His will, and what was selfishness? She sighed quietly. Life with God was proving to be interesting.

She glanced over at her partner, Tony St. Clair, and asked herself the question she’d posed so many times. What was he doing here? She’d had to leave the FBI. Severe PTSD had made it impossible for her to continue working as a behavioral analyst. Tony had been shot by the Salt River Strangler, the serial killer who’d tried to kill her, and was still dealing with some of the aftereffects. Even so, he could have gone back to work. Instead, he talked her into starting this detective agency. They’d only had two cases so far. The results had been positive. One case had to do with teachers at a local high school selling drugs—­something they stumbled across. The teachers were arrested, and the drug trade shut down. No paying client with that one. The other case had been pro bono. They’d solved that too. Thankfully, someone connected with the case—­not their client—­had given them a generous stipend. But how long would that last without some new cases? Was asking herself that question a lack of faith? She really didn’t know the answer.

Tony’s long legs were crossed, his feet up on his desk. He was leaning back in his chair, writing in a notebook. He reminded her of Benedict Cumberbatch. His curly dark hair was longer than most FBI agents had worn their hair. His long eyelashes sheltered eyes that sometimes looked blue and other times appeared to be gray. Tony was an enigma. A handsome man who never dated. He used to. Before the shooting. There were definitely some women at church who had him in their sights, but he clearly wasn’t interested. Of course, she wasn’t dating either. Didn’t want to. Right now, she just wanted to figure out who God wanted her to be. It was hard to believe He needed a private investigator. She didn’t see that among the gifts listed in the Bible.

“Okay, God,” River whispered. “I’m asking You to make this agency successful. I thank You for hearing me. And . . .” She gulped. “And I thank You for our new cases.” There. She shook her head. Weird, but Pastor Mason would be proud of her. She jumped when Tony’s phone rang.

River listened closely. If this was a case . . . Well, Pastor Mason also said something about patience. Surely answers to prayer didn’t happen this quickly. If so, she should have started praying this way a long time ago.

“Slow down, Dad,” Tony said. “I’m not sure I understand.”

River was almost relieved that it was Tony’s father. If it actually had been a new case . . . well, it would have freaked her out a little. She began to straighten her desk again, only slightly listening to Tony’s conversation. It seemed to be a little one-­sided.

Finally, Tony said, “I’ve got to call you back, Dad. Let me talk to River and see what she thinks. You know her mother is ill.” Pause. “All in all, doing pretty good. She has full-­time help now.” Another pause. “Okay. I’ll phone you in a bit.”

After he hung up, he pulled his feet off his desk and sat up straight in his chair. His blue sweater was the same color as his eyes . . . when they were blue. Why was she paying attention to his eyes? She gave herself a virtual kick in the pants and realized that Tony looked upset.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“No, not really.”

“Is your dad all right? Your mom?”

“No,” he said, cutting her off. “They’re fine. And before you ask, my sister’s good too.” He looked away and cleared his throat. Something he did when he was troubled or thinking. Finally, his eyes met hers. “I told you that when my dad was a rookie police officer, before he was promoted to detective, he was badly burned in a fire?”

She nodded. She remembered the story. It was hard to forget. “He saved a little girl’s life.”

“Yes. Well, they found two bodies in the house after the fire was put out. The little girl was the granddaughter of the couple. Thank God, Dad got her out in time.”

“Yeah. Your father’s a hero.”

Tony smiled. “Don’t say that to him. He won’t put up with it. I also told you that they never found the person responsible?”

She nodded again, then waited for him to finish. It was obvious what was coming next. She swallowed. Was this just coincidence? Of course, this was Tony’s dad. They couldn’t charge him anything for their services. River should have mentioned in her prayer that they needed a paying case. She didn’t realize God was so literal.

Trust Me.

Although she hadn’t heard an audible voice, it was so clear it made her jump.

Trust Me.

She swallowed hard. “Uh, he wants us to help him solve a twenty-­year-­old crime?” she said. Why was her voice squeaky? “Why now? I mean, I assume he tried to close this case himself. From what you told me, he’s an excellent detective.”

“He is, but he’s retiring.”

“And he wants this solved before he leaves?”

Tony nodded. “In a way. You see, there were two other similar murders with the same MOs in Des Moines not long after that one. The police arrested someone. Charged him with all three. Dad was never sure they got the right person.”

“You never told me that.”

“I never went into details because I thought it was a closed case.”

“So, your father wants to make certain the case is truly closed before he leaves? It’s still a really cold case. You know how tough they are to solve after so long.”

“Well, except he says it’s happened again.”

“In Des Moines?”

Tony shook his head. “No, up in Burlington, Iowa, where they are now. They moved there years ago because Dad felt it was a better place to live. He was convinced that Des Moines was getting too big. Too dangerous. He wanted a slower-­paced life. A safer place for Mom. Truthfully, I think he had a tough time working in Des Moines. He couldn’t get anyone he worked with to believe they’d arrested the wrong person for those murders.”

“Wait a minute. So, your dad thinks the killer followed him?”

He shrugged. “He doesn’t know, although I agree that it seems strange. Look, I know you have questions. I do too. Can you come to Burlington with me so we can write a profile? He wants to see if we can add something to what he has so far.”

River hesitated a moment.

“I know you’re thinking about your mom. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. I can go alone. I shouldn’t have put you on the spot.”

River shook her head. “You’re not. Now that we have Mrs. Weyland, I may be able to come with you.”

Hannah, the young woman who had come in to help River’s mother during the day, had quit after finding out she was pregnant. She’d recommended her aunt, who had recently lost her husband. Agatha Weyland was sixty-­three years old and had nursed her husband through Alzheimer’s. When Hannah told her she was pregnant and had to leave her job, Mrs. Weyland had begged her to set up an interview with River. At first, she wasn’t sure if it would work since Mrs. Weyland wanted to move in.

“I just can’t stay in my house anymore,” she’d told River when they talked. “Too many ghosts. Hannah and her husband love the house and they’ve offered to buy it. I was goin’ to move into an apartment, but if you have a spare room . . .” Her hazel eyes had filled with tears, and River had been touched by her. But would she change her mind and quit once she was stronger? She didn’t want Rose to get used to someone and then have her leave. River’s mother was still dealing with Hannah’s quitting. She had loved and trusted the young woman.

“I’m not lookin’ for anything temporary,” Mrs. Weyland had said as if reading River’s mind. “I intend to take care of your mother until . . . well, until she no longer needs me.”

This time it was River’s turn for tears.

“Oh, honey,” the older woman had said, taking River’s hand. “I know what Alzheimer’s is like. I know how to take care of your precious mama. My Harold was a happy man until the day he died. I learned how to go with him wherever he was . . . and how to be whoever he needed me to be. We were happy, and your mother will be happy too. You have my word.”

River had really wanted to hire Mrs. Weyland, but she was certain Rose wouldn’t give up another one of her rooms. She’d gotten upset when River and Tony had moved her original sewing space to another room even though they set it up exactly the same. They’d moved things around so River could be closer to her mother in case she needed help during the night. Now she’d have to give up her sewing room completely, even though she never used it. River was prepared for a meltdown. But after spending a couple of hours getting to know Mrs. Weyland, Rose had said, “Can’t we just move the things in the sewing room down to the basement, River? Either Agatha could move in there, or you could move into that room, and Agatha could be right next to me.”

Although she was more than surprised by her mother’s request, she quickly agreed. River moved into the old sewing room, and Mrs. Weyland set herself up next to Rose.

“Let me talk to Mrs. Weyland,” she told Tony. “She’s barely had time to get to know my mother. She might feel uncomfortable with me leaving town so soon. How long do you think we’ll be gone?”

“Why don’t we say the rest of the week?” he said. “I think that’s enough time to create a profile. My father’s already put together a murder book, although I’m not sure how much information he’s been able to get his hands on. Hopefully, we’ll at least have some pictures and reports.”

“Okay, but if Mrs. Weyland or my mother is uncomfortable . . .”

“I’ll go alone and bring everything back with me.” He frowned. “I’d really like you to talk to my dad. See if he can convince you the cases are related. I know that’s not what we do when we write a profile, so we’ll be using our ace deductive skills as well.”

River laughed. “I’ll call Mom now, but you might as well plan on going alone. My mother will probably have a conniption fit.”

“A conniption fit? Where do you get these expressions? I truly think an old lady lives somewhere down deep inside you.”

River picked up her phone, stuck her tongue out at Tony, and dialed Mrs. Weyland.


Excerpt from Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl. Copyright 2024 by Nancy Mehl. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.


“Seems when we realize what Christ went through to forgive us, we really don’t have any reason not to forgive others.”

A thrilling, suspense filled book that teaches lessons that we need to learn. 

As River and Tony try to start their private investigation agency, Tony’s father, Ray, asks for their help. River and Tony travel from St. Louis to Burlington, Iowa to look into a puzzling case Ray would like solved before he retires. But danger ramps up as they profile the UnSub. 

I am glad for the way the characters rely on their faith in God to define their lives and do their jobs. A big theme is forgiveness and how each one realizes that since Christ did so much for us, how could we not forgive others. This was played out in the family dynamics of both families. I am thankful for the clear Christian message contained in this entertaining, suspenseful novel. I was absolutely surprised at who the culprit was. And there is more to come because while one threat was dispelled, another is still present. Cannot wait for book three.

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House through PICT tours 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.

Author Bio:

Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than fifty books, a Parable and ECPA bestseller, and the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year Award, a Carol Award, and the Daphne du Maurier Award. She has also been a finalist for the Christy Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

Catch Up With Nancy Mehl:
BookBub - @NancyMehl
Twitter/X - @NancyMehl1
Facebook - @nancy.mehl



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Tuesday, January 23, 2024

HER CHANCE AT FAMILY by Angie Dicken, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas #ReleaseDay

(Heartland Sweethearts, #2)

It was such fun to return to Rapid Falls, Iowa for another of Angie Dicken’s sweet inspirational stories. I love small-town settings and their friendly, realistic, and charming characters, which this author creates so well. The main characters, Elisa Hartley and Sean Peters, are engaging and endearing, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow and change. When Elisa gains guardianship of her two adorable nieces, she brings them to the house she purchased and is remodeling in Rapid Falls. Landscape architect Sean is hoping to retain the job of doing the landscaping of the house. The two nieces, Lottie and Ava, are a delightful addition to the story.

This is a wonderful, clean and wholesome tale of healing, forgiveness, and hope. While it is somewhat predictable as to the ending, there are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and entertaining. I recommend this book to those who enjoy contemporary inspirational romance. I’m looking forward to more from this talented author.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:

She needs all the help she can get.

Will she accept it from him?

Getting left at the altar wasn’t in Elisa Hartley’s planner—but neither was gaining custody of her two orphaned nieces. Determined to be the best guardian possible, Elisa moves them into a newly renovated house. When landscape architect Sean Peters arrives to fix up her yard, he might just be able to heal her heart, too. Except Sean’s got a secret…and revealing it could throw a wrench in their happily-ever-after.

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope. January, 2024

Available in digital ebook and paperbacks. Buy HER CHANCE AT FAMILY at Amazon, Christianbook .com


FOXHOLE VICTORY TOUR by Amy Lynn Green, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

This story recounts the lives of performers in a USO troupe, why they signed up and how their lives changed in the Summer of 1943 in North Africa.

I remember my father telling of USO tours visiting when he was in the Army in Burma during WWII. It was interesting to see it from the perspective of non-celebrities giving their time and talents for the soldiers. The colorful characters included Maggie, daughter of a Salvation Army preacher, who plays the trumpet and tells jokes and socialite Catherine, a violinist, out to prove herself to her parents. To round out the group there is Howie, a WWI veteran and vaudeville entertainer, Gabriel, a magician and Julia, a singer.

The author researched historical situations to show what it was like to tour in wartime in a foreign place. The atmosphere and dangers felt real as did the relationships between the troupe members.

I enjoyed this look into the past at ordinary people and their experiences during WWII.
*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:
Based on true World War II stories of life in the USO variety shows, worlds collide when performers from around the United States come together to tour North Africa.

Vibrant and scrappy Maggie McCleod tried not to get fired from her wartime orchestra, but her sharp tongue landed her in trouble, so an overseas adventure with the USO's camp show promises a chance at a fresh start. Wealthy and elegant Catherine Duquette signs with the USO to leave behind her restrictive life of privilege and to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of the handsome pilot whose letters mysteriously stopped arriving.

The two women are joined by an eclectic group of performers--a scheming blues singer, a veteran tap dancer, and a brooding magician--but the harmony among their troupe is short-lived when their tour manager announces he will soon recommend one of them for a coveted job in the Hollywood spotlight. Each of the five members has a reason to want the contract, and they'll do whatever is necessary to claim it. As their troupe travels closer to the dangerous battlefront in Tunisia, personal crises and wartime dangers only intensify, putting not only their careers but also their lives on the line. 

Bethany House Publishing, January 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Monday, January 22, 2024

LOVE IN THE STORM by Mandi Blake, Reviewed by Kim

A Small Town Christian Romance (Love in Blackwater Book 1)

Love in the Storm by Mandi Blake is the first book of her new series Love in Blackwater. If Blackwater sounds familiar to you, it’s because she has another series set in the same town! I’m looking forward to reading this series and seeing places and characters that are familiar!

I loved the beginning of this story and how Asa and Lyric met due to the storm and their forced proximity. Asa is such a wonderful character. He’s dedicated to his job and family, has a forgiving heart, and completely stands by those he loves. There is a scene at the end of the story that totally showed who he is for those he loves! Lyric has had a rough life due to some bad choices she made in the past, but she has worked her way through them and is trying to get completely back on track. The storm, and therefore Asa, showed up just in time to help her. The romance was quick in this story. Maybe a little too quick for me, but I’m more of a second chance romance trope person, so I’m sure others will love it.
I’m looking forward to Dawson’s story next! We get to meet him in this story and have a good sense of his personality and the teaser has made me want to read it asap!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 4 stars. 

BackCover Blurb:

When she's snowed in with the handsome man who doesn't remember arresting her, she might get a second chance at a first impression.

Lyric Woods has been sober for years now, but nothing about picking herself up from rock bottom has been easy. She’s behind on bills and on the verge of getting evicted, still paying for the mistakes of her past. When she is stranded with the police officer who doesn't remember her, she's afraid to reveal her secret.

Asa Scott isn’t complaining about being stranded with the beautiful Lyric. The kind woman tending his wounds after a wreck in the storm is the first to make him think he could move on after his wife’s death. But when he finds out about her record, he can't reconcile the woman from the past with the woman who cared for him at the cabin.

When Lyric needs his help after they’re rescued, Asa hopes they'll both get a chance to mend the wounds of the past.

Despite his fears, Asa can’t fight the way he feels about the resilient woman who helped him. But when it looks like Lyric has fallen back into her old ways, will Asa trust the evidence or believe the woman he’s falling for and fight to clear her name?

If you loved the
Blackwater Ranch series and the Wolf Creek Ranch series, get ready to fall in love all over again in Blackwater, Wyoming. 

January, 2024

Sunday, January 21, 2024

INDIGO ISLE by T. I. Lowe, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"I had sort of given in and accepted that I was nothing but a weed. A nobody pretending to be somebody . . . I think I am ready to take the weeds I've been growing and see what beauty can come out of them. But that's not going to happen if . . . "

Up until now, Sonny Bates' extensive travels as a Hollywood location scout had never drawn her close to home. Coming back to South Carolina brought her dangerously close to the place where terrible decisions had been made . . . choices that were still producing painful spirals in and out of self-deprecating behavior. As Sonny heads out into the open waters along Charleston's scenic coastline searching for the perfect barrier island, she happens upon something, and someone, altogether unexpected; the area's mysterious "Monster of Indigo Isle". Would God allow Sonny Bates a "take two"?  . . .

Make no mistake; this story illustrates just how painfully the "lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" steals and destroys. Thankfully, an equally strong message emerges from what remains, "I will search for my lost ones who have strayed away, and I will bring them home again." (Ezekiel 34:16)
Be prepared to experience a powerful, creative journey towards wholeness, the kind I have come to expect from this author whose characters, settings, and life lessons become parables, ones that readers will treasure, respect, cradle closely, remember fondly. 
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb:
Sonny Bates left South Carolina fifteen years ago and never looked back. Now she’s a successful Hollywood location scout who travels the world, finding perfect places for movie shoots. Home is wherever she lands, and between her busy schedule and dealing with her boss’s demands, she has little time to think about the past . . . until her latest gig lands her a stone’s throw from everything she left behind.

Searching off the coast of Charleston for a secluded site to film a key scene, Sonny wanders onto a private barrier island and encounters its reclusive owner, known by locals as the Monster of Indigo Isle. What she finds is a man much more complex than the myth.

Once a successful New York attorney, Hudson Renfrow’s grief has exiled him to his island for several years. He spends his days alone, tending his fields of indigo, then making indigo dye—and he has no interest in serving the intrusive needs of a film company or yielding to Sonny’s determined curiosity. But when a hurricane makes landfall on the Carolina coast, stranding them together, an unlikely friendship forms between the two damaged souls. Soon the gruff exterior Hudson has long hidden behind crumbles—exposing the tender part of him that’s desperate for forgiveness and a second chance.

A story of hanging on and letting go, of redemption and reconciliation, and of a love that heals the deepest wounds, from the author of the breakout Southern fiction bestseller
Under the Magnolias.

Tyndale House Publishers, June 6, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:




Saturday, January 20, 2024

FRAGILE DESIGNS by Colleen Coble, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

A very interesting, layered mystery with complex family dynamics. The relationships surrounding Carly are fragile, from the one with her deceased husband to her parents, sisters and the cop next door. But Carly tries to hold it all together while caring for her infant son, Noah.

Great plotting with twists and turns aplenty. The characters show growth amid danger. And love emerges despite reservations. Lots of hidden things are uncovered in this absorbing tale. 

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are mine alone.* 4 stars and a subtle faith thread

BackCover Blurb:

There’s only one thing more dangerous than family secrets.

Since her police-officer husband Eric’s mysterious murder, Carly Harris has been struggling to support herself and their infant son. Her career as an antique dealer isn’t sustainable, nor is her dream of becoming a novelist. So when her grandmother proposes she and her two sisters restore the family’s large Beaufort home and turn it into a bed-and-breakfast, she immediately gets to work clearing out the house. In the process, she uncovers a family secret that Eric kept hidden. And an heirloom that the wrong person wouldn’t hesitate to kill for.

Homicide detective Lucas Bennett isn’t his neighbor’s biggest fan, not since she broke his brother’s heart years ago. But when Carly turns to Lucas for help, believing she’s found a lost Fabergé egg that would be worth millions and that could put her family’s lives in danger, he can’t help but get involved. Soon, they’re entangled in a mystery with threads that lead all the way to the Russian mafia. Lucas has gotten in deep, and while he trusts his ability to keep Carly and her family safe, he begins to realize he’s vulnerable to an unexpected kind of danger. And he’s helpless to stop the freefall. As they continue working closely together, Carly and Lucas realize they may have found something more precious than gold. Yet it’s only a matter of time before Carly—or, worse, someone she loves—gets hurt.

Contemporary romantic suspense
Stand-alone novel
Book length: approximately 90,000 words
Includes discussion questions for book clubs

Thomas Nelson Publishing, January, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:


Friday, January 19, 2024

CHAOS by Steffani Webb (Presented by Ronie Kendig), Reviewed by Kim

I literally cannot believe that Chaos is Steffani Webb’s debut novel! This story is so well written and reads like a seasoned author. Can I already add her to my list of auto buy authors?!

This story is fast paced and full of the action that I have come to love in this series. The characters are well written and while I was a bit worried I may not love Rio in the beginning, I warmed up to her pretty quickly. As for Cathal, no warming up needed! LOL. I love my alpha males and boy is he one! The banter in this story is top notch and the storyline kept my interest the entire time!

This story turned out to be everything I hoped for! I had high expectations because I love the A Breed Apart series by Ronie Kendig. I am so glad we get this Legacy series and can’t wait to read the others. 5 stars!
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

BackCover Blurb:
Buckle up for an edge-of-your-seat trek through the dangerous jungles of the Philippines in this enemies to more, forced proximity, alpha hero, sunshine versus grumpy romantic thriller!

When Rio Silva is told her aunt and uncle are missing in a Philippine rainforest, she knows there is only one way to find them: the retired military working dog her dad entrusted to her. Chaos, however, has a mind of her own. A lot like Rio. Worse, they'll have to trust arrogant, demanding former Army Ranger Cathal McGowan if she hopes to get them back.

The last thing Cathal McGowan wants as he heads into the darkness of the rainforest is to be shackled with a young, pretty teacher who has no tactical experience. But she has heart—he'll give her that. And he has the expertise necessary to rescue her family.

Putting everything on the line, Rio and Cathal struggle to navigate the terrain, as well as their emerging feelings for each other. But the closer they get to mission success, the more things aren't adding up, including who might be behind the disappearances. It's not long before they realize the rainforest holds greater perils than deadly vipers...and the biggest danger of all might be to their hearts.

Dive into another thrilling
A Breed Apart: Legacy adventure!

Book 1: Havoc
Book 2: Chaos
Book 3: Riot (coming soon)
Book 4: Fury (coming soon)
Book 5: Surge (coming soon) 

Sunrise Publishing, January 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:

Thursday, January 18, 2024

KNOCKOUT and COLLATERAL by Lisa Phillips, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney (Benson First Responders Series)


"Woman, you're about to get yourself killed."

Clare Juarez was inclined to agree, after all the man had a gun in his hand and it was pointed directly at her, "was today the day she could give her life for an innocent victim? Finally wipe the slate clean." The Vanguard CEO had arrived at the bank to consult with security about this exact kind of scenario, inadvertently walking into a bank robbery. And wouldn't you know . . . SWAT Lieutenant Gage Deluca's team had responded to the call. Clare's past was about to intersect with her present, if she lived long enough to feel the collision.

"We'll just have to figure out how to work together without actually working together." So that was how this was going to go down? Gage didn't have much time to rehash their shattered past at the moment, but he was impressed with the woman that Clare had become. Under normal circumstances, she was the kind of woman that he would love to know better, but presently they were having trouble finishing a conversation without an argument. Gage's newfound faith was teaching him how to have patience, but seeing Clare again . . . wow, what a test!

This fast paced, multi-layered plot is amazing in and of itself, however it's the overriding personal dynamics between Gage and Clare that I will remember with fondness. Witnessing Clare's spiritual journey towards wholeness while Gage continually demonstrates self-control coupled with compassion, makes this addition to the series stand out as pretty special.
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.


KNOCKOUT  - Book #5
"Sure, she might be outnumbered, but life constantly lay on a blade edge from death. The tipping point was what counted, and all she had to do was push it in her favor."

Why was she in his town? SWAT Sergeant Liam O'Connell is not thrilled to discover that Roxie Helton is now employed by Vanguard and working for the Cold Case Department . . . specifically, the cold case surrounding his father's death. Their relationship in the Marines had ended badly, but from the looks of the scar scarcely marring Roxie's pretty face, her next step had ended a lot worse. It doesn't take long for Liam to realize that Roxie's secrets run deep and unfortunately one of them has followed her to Benson.

As Liam tries to apprehend members of a dangerous crime family while at the same time trying to keep Roxie safe, the facts begin to indicate that their cases could criss-cross in the most dangerous way possible . . . life or death, leaving Roxie to wonder . . . was trusting God her best option?

"She had nothing else. No way out. No weapons. No back-up. No team. No gear. . . Now it was just God."

A thrilling episode in the author's "Benson First Responders" series.
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb for Collateral:

A crew of dangerous criminals.
Vanguard CEO Clare Juarez wants a Benson PD contract for her company. When the police commissioner hands her the case file for a rash of local armed robberies, she puts her people to work…and lands right in the middle of a hostage situation. She needs to take care of her fallen friend’s daughter, because safeguarding Selena is her chance to make amends for what happened during her time in the army. But solving this case might give her everything she wants, and repair her painful history.

A SWAT team that’s falling apart.
Lieutenant Gage Deluca has no family, just SWAT. But the brotherhood is coming apart at the seams and he’s got to hold it together. When they’re ordered to work with Vanguard, Gage has to contend with the woman who left him years ago—taking a secret with her. Those days of teenage romance might be behind the years they’ve lived since, and the lives they’ve built. But can they chance opening the wound long enough to trust God to heal everything?

Working together to identify this dangerous crew, Clare and Gage have to confront their past—and the love they never let go of. Love that might set them free.

Each Benson First Responders book is a stand-alone Christian Romantic Suspense.

BackCover Blurb for


A woman on the run.

Roxie Helton crawled away bleeding from the wreck of her life. Now she's finally found a new start, the ghost of that tragedy won't leave her alone. She tried Search and Rescue, now she's trying the Cold Case Department and Vanguard. When she's assigned the case that killed a cop years ago, she gets more than she bargained for and it almost seems like her ex isn't quite as dead as everyone thinks. Can she trust the man she thought she had to give up?

A cop fighting for family.

SWAT Sergeant Liam O'Connell came home from the Marines and followed his father's footsteps into the Benson PD. As much as he might want to ignore it, the case that killed his father has never been left to rest. But if what he was told is true, solving it will ruin his father's legacy. Then again it could also save lives, take down a dangerous Russian family, and give him back the woman he lost.

When their worlds collide, loved ones are caught up in the calamity. Everyone they care about is a target and Roxie and Liam must fight together to survive.

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