On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin from Revell Publishers

On Distant Shores

On-Distant-Shores-e1369253563736

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace–and a love that remains true.

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie’s cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they’ve made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.

“I love a great love story, all the more one that’s set during WWII. Sarah Sundin has given us both. You can’t help but care about her characters, and the romantic tension kept me turning the pages to the very end. It’s a fabulous addition to her Wings of the Nightingale series. I already can’t wait to read the next one.”–Dan Walsh, bestselling author of The DiscoveryThe Reunion, and The Dance


For more information visit http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/on-distant-shores/336130

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

On Distant Shores is one of those books that you don’t want to end. Georgie and Hutch both had a fiancé back home, but they decided they could be friends. And that friendship brings out the attraction between the two of them. I was definitely different reading a story where both main characters have someone they love back home. But Sarah Sundin pulls if off and writes a story that will stay with you for a long while!

I absolutely loved reading On Distant Shores. Anyone who loves World War II fiction would love this one as well! The historical information about the War era was amazing. Everything is so detailed, so vividly described that I have a clear insight about what the people in that era in history went through, and how they lived. And in a time of war, fighting and death, it was comforting to read about the romances that did happen during that time.  Sarah Sundin is truly the Queen of World War II historical romance fiction. If you enjoy historical fiction, and WWII stories, you will love this one too!

“Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from Revell to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

About The Author

Meet Sarah: Sarah Sundin is the author of “With Every Letter” and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A “Memory Between Us” was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

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Wounded Women of the Bible…Finding Hope When Life Hurts…By Dena Dyer and Tina Samples

Wounded Women of the Bible

Finding Hope When Life Hurts
By Dena Dyer and Tina Samples

9780825442148

About the book: 

Imploding relationships, incapacitating losses, injurious personal mistakes, or spiritual failures-whatever the issue, the wounds are the same.

Whether it’s a lapse in judgment by Bathsheba or the moral failure of the women’s ministry leader in your local church; the spiritual insensitivity of Martha or the compulsive obsessions of your church’s care circle chairwoman; the terror of an abandoned single mother like Hagar or the struggling single mother in your prayer group-the time and circumstances are different, but the wounds are equally deep and spiritually devastating.

Dena Dyer and Tina Samples get it. They have their own stories of pain before healing-along with similar experiences of their families and friends. Offering more than pat affirmations or vicarious shoulders to cry on, Dena and Tina delve deep into the shared emotions and injuries that women of all ages have in common-and move readers toward the recovery and healing that only God can provide.

No matter what hurts you’ve experienced, Wounded Women of the Bible proves that God understands and that healing is not only His intention but His delight!

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Reading this book clearly shows that women have always experienced hurt in some way. Authors Dena Dyer and Tina Samples’ Wounded Women of the Bible gives ladies an inside look at more than a dozen women throughout Bible time and the hurts and difficulties they faced. We read the stories  of Dinah, Ruth, Hagar, Ichabod’s Mother, Mary and Martha, and others, getting to know they ladies in a really interesting and unique way.

Finding Hope When Life Hurts is truly what we learned from this book through the lives of each of these ladies. Dena Dyer and Tina Samples leave nothing out as they study and explore what the Bible says. I also appreciate the authors opening their own lives and showing the hurts and struggles they have faced in their lives. To me, this makes the book even more special because we are not only getting truths from the Bible, we are getting truths from real people’s lives.

I received this book from the publisher Kregel to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

CFBA Presents Pattern for Romance by Carla Gade

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Pattern for Romance 

Abingdon Press (August 20, 2013) 

by 

Carla GadeABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carla Olson Gade has been imaging stories most of her life. Her love for writing and eras gone by turned her attention to writing Inspirational Historical Romance. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Writers, and the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary.

Her publishing credits also include a variety of newspaper articles, newsletters, and web content. She also enjoys developing discipleship materials for women. She has been a book judge for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest (RWA), and ACFW’s Genesis Contest.

In addition to writing, Carla is a freelance website designer and webhost and an advocate for adult literacy. An experienced event and program planner/promoter, Carla designs marketing materials for her writing group, women’s ministry, and other functions. Carla has also spoken at several women’s events and facilitated many workshops and classes through the years.

An autodidact, creative thinker, and avid reader, Carla also enjoys genealogy, web design, and photography. A native New Englander, she lives in beautiful rural Maine with her “hero” husband and two young adult sons, and a new grandson.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Honour Metcalf’s quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston Mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager’. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches thes niece intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own. When Honour is falsely accused of thievery and finds herself in a perilous position, merchant tailor Joshua Sutton comes to her aid. As he risks his relationships, reputation, and livelihood to prove her innocence, the two discover a grander plan—a design for love.

 

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pattern for Romance, go HERE.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Another book from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love Series, another very good and interesting read, I love the historical story, the characters, and the details throughout the story. Each of the stories in this series are centered around a quilt, and in this one, the quilt is an elaborate and beautiful white work bridal quilt for the dowager’. Grab a copy of this book and find out about this special quilt in CFBA Presents Pattern for Romance by Carla Gade.

I received this book from CFBA to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

First Wild Card Tours Presents…Rita L. Schulte and the book: Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Losses of Life

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Rita L. Schulte
and the book:
Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Losses of Life
Leafwood Publishers (September 10, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ryan Self for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This radio programs. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. She resides in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Shattered explores how unidentified or unresolved loss impacts every area of life, especially our relationship with God. The long-range impact of these losses is often obscured, buried beneath the conscious surface in an attempt to avoid pain. This book calls the reader to “notice” the losses of life, and fight the battle to reclaim and reinvest our hearts after loss through faith-based strategies.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.11

Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Leafwood Publishers (September 10, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0891123822

ISBN-13: 978-0891123828

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Necessity

of Brokenness
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

—Tina Turner
I have come to bind up the brokenhearted.

—Jesus
The Winds of Change
It was a rainy Virginia day, warm enough to sit outside with a cup of tea but  too dark and dreary to really enjoy it. Just the kind of day that surrounds  one in melancholy. And that morning I had a reason to be sad. My faithful  companion—my dog Spanky—had died the week before. Wait . . . Am I really going to open a book about grief and loss by talking about my dog? I am. In the pages that follow, I will share more of my story, about the seasons of heartbreaking loss that led me to write this book. But loss comes in many forms, and that morning on the porch, my sadness was about more than the loss of a pet. Spanky’s death represented the loss of an era, a snapshot of my life that I would never fully reclaim.
Sometimes we don’t notice how loss affects our hearts. It can happen slowly; yet before we realize it, the effects of our grief have become catastrophic and the death of our hearts inevitable. Loss throws us offbalance, sometimes causing us to lose our way. If too much time goes by before we repair the distance between what we know intellectually about our grief and what we feel deep within our souls, we’ll find that along the journey we will have sacrificed something precious in order to protect ourselves from pain. That something is our heart.
The closing of one chapter of life gives way to the birth of another, offering us hope and promise—but not without cost and certainly not without a glance backward and a twinge of sorrow. Which brings me back to Spanky.
We brought Spanky home as a puppy, a gift to our son on his seventh birthday to comfort him after the death of his grandmother. Michael is grown now, a young man beginning his own journey. Our home is quiet, void of the cacophony of children’s voices and the sense of security provided by my parents’ presence. Another twinge of sadness. There was a time not so long ago when my soul was in mortal agony over the very thought of losing them. Where did the years go, and how could the pages of my life turn so swiftly?
Telling the Story
Everyone loves a good story. Stories are full of adventure, passion, love, and mystery. But the stories of grief and suffering aren’t usually happy, and they are not always easy to tell. So we don’t. We bottle them up, push them down, and close up shop. And our pain sits, sometimes for decades. We don’t pull it out or look at it, and so we miss the opportunity to really understand the event or series of events that were responsible for breaking our hearts.
Yet we must tell the story to walk the healing path. That is why I wrote this book—to help you understand your own story where loss and grief have affected your journey and, more importantly, to show you where those losses will help you find and connect with the heart of God. The choices you make will be difficult ones, but if you stay the course, freedom is possible.
How do I know? Because I have walked a journey of loss myself that has spanned twenty years.
The first real tragedy in my life, the one event that broke my heart, started one morning when my children were still young. The day started as usual with my morning devotions. I opened my Bible randomly, as busy moms are prone to do, and I read John 11:25–26, where Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” For some reason, I kept thinking about it all day.
The phone rang late that night—always a bad sign. My dad said something was wrong with Mom; it seemed like she had had a heartattack. At the hospital, the doctors said it was a massive seizure brought on by a malignant brain tumor; she wouldn’t live through the night. My mother had been battling cancer for four years at that point. There was nothing else they could do. So we prayed.
My mom didn’t die that night in the hospital. God granted us two months with her, calling her home on my son’s birthday. Holding her in my arms as she lay dying felt like someone was pouring boiling acid over my soul. Tragic events do that. Try as we may to come up for air, we often find ourselves drowning in fear and overwhelming sorrow, questioning everything we believe.
That verse in John 11 haunted me, gnawing at my soul and pushing me to find answers. Did I really trust that “he who believes in me will never see death” (John 8:51)? I thought I knew the answer—but this loss brought me to a crisis of belief, hammering me to the core of my faith.
Over the next twelve years, the losses piled up. My children suffered a near-fatal parasail accident. Close friends and family died—eight in just one painful year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. And then my dad was diagnosed with bone cancer—and that was when the bottom dropped out.
My parents were a secure and comforting presence in my life. After my mom’s death, my dad became an idol. And God will have no idols in our lives. He would use my loss to begin a process that would ultimately shape and redirect my life, but not without even greater suffering.
Caring for my dad in our home for two years was difficult—not because he was difficult, but because so much happened to him. I couldn’t ever leave him alone. His illness consumed my life, and as I watched him stripped of what he once was, it broke my heart. My world became very narrow and isolated. So many dear friends and relatives I loved were dying, and in the process I was losing heart.
The Place of Brokenness
If we are honest, we know that suffering and sorrow are inevitable parts of life. Loved ones die. Dreams crumble. We lose things that were once important to us. The happily-ever-after life we dreamed of is often a far cry from the reality we live.
How we respond to loss and change determines what happens to our hearts. It also determines if we live—really live—the life that Christ has called us to. If I am honest, I will admit I let a lot of living go by trying to make life work, struggling to figure out, make sense of, and answer all the questions. Perhaps loss was a necessary part of my journey; it certainly caused me to see suffering as a necessary ingredient in my life, whether

I had all the answers or not.
As I mentioned, God will have no idols in my life. The place I tried to avoid—the place of suffering—was the very place he led me to so that he could evidence himself right in the midst of it all.
Brokenness must have its way in each of our lives in order to move us from death to life. Every spring, tree leaves come to life as tiny new shoots; they grow and flourish, showing us signs of life and hope, only to die each fall. Life gives way to death, but from death something wondrous occurs. The leaves produce a majestic display of bold and resplendent color. They become most vibrant as they are dying.
Jesus makes a similar analogy in the Gospel of John when he says, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24; italics mine). This is the power of rebirth through the process of death and dying. Jesus, the immortal seed of the Father, chose to take on mortality. His glory, hidden and buried beneath the earth, like the seed, breaks forth from the dust of death to display a bold and resplendent life.
Shall we expect the Master to work any differently in our own lives?
While most of us won’t be fighting for a place in the suffering line, I hope there is comfort in knowing we can move through this journey of brokenness to find healing and wholeness. We need only to change our perspective on loss and suffering. If we are willing to allow them to become our tutors, they can and will produce in us that same bold and resplendent life that Jesus is calling us to. If we have the eyes to see, we will come to know and understand that brokenness purifies our vision and chisels away all that keeps us from fully knowing the heart of God.
Brokenness is not only a necessary process in the life of the believer—it is a gift. I bet that’s not an easy line to swallow, as you read this book ravaged by the effects of loss. I certainly didn’t accept it easily. Early in my Christian walk, surrounded by pain, the idea that God was offering me gifts through my suffering made me angry. Maybe there was something wrong with me, I reasoned, because I didn’t have enough faith to want to walk through a towering inferno with a smile on my face and a song of praise in my heart.
But somewhere along the journey of loss, I began to consider that if God was good, he was not out to break me. Instead, he was out to break my confidence in all the ways I was trying to make my life work apart from him. Loss was simply the vehicle he used to get my attention.
It was then that I began to see suffering and pain in a new light. I could accept this process of brokenness as a gift from my heavenly Father, much like adults who grow to appreciate the discipline they received as children from their parents. Discipline is not pleasant at the time it’s received, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, but it is necessary in the molding and shaping of character, producing righteousness in all who are trained by it (Heb. 12:11).
If you and I want to recover from the losses of life, we must catch a vision for the greater role that we were designed to play and see a bigger purpose beyond ourselves and our losses. In other words, we must slowly begin to see with eternal eyes that which is so difficult to see when loss first assaults our hearts—the story isn’t finished yet. This is a journey, not a race.
How to Use This Book
In many ways, the chapters in this book have written themselves, as the pages of my own life and the stories of others around me have unfolded. To live again, really live, we all had to find the courage to reinvest our hearts into what stirs our passions. The heart of that passion flows from our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not a traditional book on grief. Our time together will focus on the heart and the phases it must traverse through this journey. We won’t explore the process of dying, nor will we formally address the traditional stages of grief. I won’t list tasks the griever must accomplish to achieve closure or provide a nice, neat formula for recovery. That’s all important information, but “stages” can suggest a sequential order to our movement through life and loss that for many is not experientially true.
The heart can’t always follow rules, so instead many find themselves revisiting these stages or experiencing them in a random order. My own journey with loss has shown me that still, many years later, I have not moved beyond the struggle with some of these feelings. In fact, there are some days I actually feel as if I am falling backward. I don’t understand the “whys” of some of the things that have happened, and some days
I still find it hard to accept them. But through the years, the stages of grief have helped guide me toward the path of acceptance. Anger has thankfully given way to forgiveness, and depression is now an infrequent guest. Sadness, however, still remains, forever standing guard at the doorway of my soul and reminding me that to love deeply always requires something of the heart.
But in order to experience healing, we must be willing to pass through these stages of grief. We must be careful that our work doesn’t become intellectual, mechanical, or task-driven. This is a very real possibility if we are not willing to examine what lies beneath—how loss affects our hearts.
Being sensible or practical about loss will not accomplish this. Attending to the matters of the heart is elusive and abstract, sometimes barely visible even to the griever. Therefore, somewhere along this journey we must develop an awareness of the heart by learning to notice it. We must shift our focus from being rational and intellectual about our losses to practices that will sustain long-term healing. For such healing to be accomplished, we must be willing to crack open the hard shell we have built around our hearts, explore our brokenness, and expose our wounds. Only after that difficult work is complete can we allow Christ to revive our hearts through his healing power. Just as the sculptor carefully chisels through layers and layers of stone to uncover a precious form, so the griever must lend careful time and attention to rediscover the music of the heart buried under the weight of grief.
Our work will not be without task or toil. In the following chapters, we will attempt to find strength and meaning in the midst of our pain.
Part One of the book will help you identify your losses, consider their affect on your heart, look at the defenses you’ve built to protect yourself from pain, and evaluate your concept of God. Part Two will help you fight the battle to reclaim your heart by exploring the healing tasks necessary to move forward: dealing with anger and unfinished business and learning how to surrender. Part Three will help you to rekindle the desires of your heart and reinvest them into the grander redemptive story God is telling.
You will find various exercises throughout the book to help you uncover and process your losses so that through thought, prayer, and meditation you can press into the heart of the Savior.
Be intentional and deliberate with your work, and set aside a time each day to be alone with God, for it will be in those intimate moments that the real healing work of grief will be accomplished.

First Wild Card Tours presents……Vanishing Act by Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon

and the book:
Vanishing Act
(Charm & Deceit series #2)
Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Veteran authors Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson have combined their considerable skills to create the action-packed historical romance series, Charm & Deceit, for Whitaker House.

Jennifer AlLee is the bestselling author of The Love of His Brother (2007) for Five Star Publishers, and for Abington Press: The Pastor’s Wife (2010), The Mother Road (April 2012), and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012). She’s also published a number of short stories, devotions and plays. Jennifer is a passionate participant in her church’s drama ministry. She lives with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit the author’s website.

Lisa Karon Richardson has led a life of adventure — from serving as a missionary in the Seychelles and Gabon to returning to the U.S. to raise a family—and she imparts her stories with similarly action-packed plot lines. She’s the author of Impressed by Love (2012) for Barbour Publishing’s Colonial Courtships anthology, The Magistrate’s Folly, and Midnight Clear, part of a 2013 holiday anthology, also from Barbour. Lisa lives with her husband and children in Ohio.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Pinkerton detective Carter Forbes returns in Book Two of the Charm & Deceit series. Set in Washington D. C. during the Civil War the action revolves around Juliet Button who does not believe in ghosts! She does believe in supporting her makeshift family of misfits. Having spent years as assistant to her illusionist uncle, Juliet possesses skills to make an audience believe the impossible and launches a career as “Miss Avila,” a medium. She wants nothing to do with agent Forbes who has the power to destroy the life she’s built. But when President Lincoln’s youngest son is kidnapped, and the first lady comes to her for help, she can’t refuse, even if it means facing Forbes, who knows far too much about her already.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Series: Charm & Deceit (Book 2)

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603749063

ISBN-13: 978-1603749060

My Thoughts on this Book

Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon are new authors for me, and I am really glad I have the opportunity to read this book. I just wish I had read Book One first because I think I would have understood what was going on better. First of all, I love the cover of Vanishing Act. The cover is usually why I read a book, especially if I don’t know the authors, and I would grab this one off the shelf! These two authors make a wonderful team, vividly describing the historical scenes that made me feel like I was there in the story! I love when an author can do this! The characters are well developed, and the excitement, humor and twists and turns kept my eyes on the pages!

Looking for a good clean, fun, interesting and entertaining book? Try Vanishing Act by Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon. You will not be disappointed!!  I received this book from FIRST WildCard Tours to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

May 6, 1862

Washington, D.C.

Juliet palmed the thin stack of note cards on the table and slid them up her sleeve. Her fingers trembled as they always did before a “show.” No matter. They’d be steady when it counted.

Grandmotherly Miss Clara smoothed Juliet’s pale skirts. “You’ve got a new sitter. A young fellow.”

“Do we know anything about him?”

“Artie’s checking now.”

Juliet pressed the heel of her hand against her stomach. The queasiness would pass, too.

“This is all I found. It was in the lining of his hat.” Miss Clara passed her a folded ticket stub for Ford’s Athenaeum and a battered-looking letter with countless creases.

Juliet accepted the offerings and opened the letter. No, not a letter. She raised an eyebrow and looked at Miss Clara. “This is a pass that allows the bearer to move through Union lines.”

Miss Clara glanced up from her examination of a tiny stain on Juliet’s hem and met her eyes.

“So, he’s doing war work?”

“Apparently important work. It’s signed by President Lincoln.”

Miss Clara took the paper from Juliet’s trembling fingers.

Why would anyone carry such a document in a place as obvious as a hatband? Though ostensibly he was in the heart of Union territory and it wouldn’t be required, the pass granted access anywhere. That meant he’d come from beyond Union lines, in rebel territory. But, in rebel territory, who would want such a pass on him? Juliet sat down at the kitchen table. Something about this man felt dangerous. The pass identified him as Carter Forbes. The name meant nothing to her, and yet something niggled at the back of her mind. She should know about him.

Artie clattered down the stairs, his brown hair disheveled as usual, and leaped over the last few steps, landing with a thump. “Nothing.”

“Did you try to cross-reference him?”

Artie tilted his head and scowled in response.

Juliet held up a hand. “I had to ask. It seems that I should know the name.” She rubbed the furrows from between her eyebrows. She hated blind readings; they were so tricky. “Did he say how he learned of my sittings?”

Artie shook his head. “I don’t think so. The Professor never said anything.”

The Professor entered at that moment. “They’re all ready for you.”

“Do you know anything about this Carter Forbes fellow?”

The question seemed to pain the old gentleman, and Juliet winced at her own callousness. The Professor used to draw enormous crowds through the power of his observations about people; but now, his eyesight was shrouded by milky white cataracts, which meant he noticed very little.

“He came to the front door and asked if he could attend today’s sitting. He spoke well, and when I took his hat, I noted it was of fine felt. I asked if he had been referred by one of your clients, and he said no. He didn’t seem to want to offer any further information.”

It wasn’t an unusual reaction. Many new clients were hesitant and wanted her to prove her skills by astonishing them with information about themselves.

Juliet inhaled and held the breath for a long moment before letting it out in a rush. She could do this. She had to do this. If she turned away clients, it wouldn’t be long before she and her makeshift family were turned out of their home. She just couldn’t go back to the vaudeville circuit. Not if she was to have any hope of keeping them all together. One day, she would find a better way to support them. But for now, well, she had no choice.

***

Carter covertly examined his companions around the smooth oak table: a half dozen well-dressed ladies, most of them older than he, all but one of whom were in mourning; and a tall, rickety man with a snowy beard that reached his waist. The individuals in the group appeared to have at least a nodding acquaintance with one another, and they sat in companionable silence as they waited for Miss Avila.

The peaceful hush proved to be too much for a twittery sort of elderly lady to Carter’s right. She wore a full dress of black bombazine that looked far too warm for the summer heat. Her hair was frizzled into the semblance of ringlets that wilted on either side of her cheeks. She leaned closer to him and smiled kindly. “I don’t think I’ve met you before. Is this your first visit to Miss Avila?”

One of the ladies sniffed at this breach of social etiquette, but the others looked interested and friendly, as if the mere fact of their gathering in this room conferred a special kind of privilege.

Squelching the desire to educate them on the certainty they were being duped, Carter pasted on a smile for the lady and nodded. “Yes, ma’am. Is she as impressive as they say?”

“More so, I think.” She beamed at him. “Miss Avila has such a way about her. She’s so mystical and otherworldly. I completely see why the spirits choose to seek her out.”

The bearded gentleman cleared his throat. “She’s not like some as you’ll find—them show-offs with their painted-up faces and tricks. She’s a good little gal, the kind my Emmeline would have taken under her wing. The kind I would have wanted for my boy.” His words choked off, and he blew his nose into a large handkerchief.

Carter wanted to pat him on the shoulder or offer some reassurance, but he couldn’t allow himself the liberty. The fellow was austere and proud in his grief. Any expression of pity would likely inflict further hurt. How could someone take advantage of these poor people?

The door opened, and a slip of a young woman entered. Her dark hair was pinned up in a neat chignon. She wore a simple cotton day dress with stripes of soft white and pale purple, unadorned except for a strip of lace edging the collar and running from the bodice to the belt line. The sleeves were certainly long, and roomy enough to hide all sorts of goodies. But he didn’t see any telltale bulges. He and the other gentleman stood at her entrance.

“I’m sorry to have kept you all waiting.” Her voice was well-modulated and cultured. There was a whiff of foreign climes beneath the excellent English, but Carter couldn’t quite place the accent.

She circled around the table to the only available seat. Carter had engineered matters so that she would be seated right beside him. Miss Avila lightly touched the elderly gentleman’s arm as she passed. “Mr. Greenfield, how are you today?”

If Carter didn’t know better, he would think she was genuinely concerned.

“Thank you for asking, my dear. I am much as usual.”

“You haven’t had bad news from the War Office about Ben, have you?”

Aha. She was fishing for information.

“No, I’ve had no word. Been at least four months since his last letter.” His voice cracked.

Miss Avila reached out and squeezed his hand. “We will pray for his safekeeping. But, in this case, no news is good news. Keep up your faith.”

She approached her seat but stopped in front of Carter. “You must be Mr. Forbes,” she said pleasantly.

“I am.”

“I am Miss Avila.” She smoothed her skirts as she lowered herself delicately into the chair. “Is there someone in particular you are hoping to reach today?”

“I thought you’d be able to tell me that, and all the mysteries of the world besides,” he shot back.

A sharp gasp came from the lady on Carter’s other side. The disapproval in the room radiated toward him in waves.

Miss Avila, however, maintained her calm. “I’m afraid I cannot read your mind. I suppose there are some who may be able to do so, but my gifts do not lie in that direction. If you wish to get the attention of those on the other side, it would be best for me to know whom to ask for.”

“My father, Jonathan Forbes,” Carter blurted out. Immediately, he regretted it. He didn’t want to sully Father’s memory with anything this woman might say about him. But another idea sprang to mind. “And my sister, Emily.” He smiled then, trying not to bare his teeth in the process. Just let her try to get out of this one.

Miss Avila had a knack for giving a person her full attention. When she turned her lovely dark eyes to her manservant and motioned for him to close the curtains, it was as though a lighthouse beacon had moved away from his soul.

As the room darkened, she leaned forward to light the single taper in the middle of the table. The manservant departed through a noticeably squeaky door. The candlelight flickered, casting grotesque shadows on the walls around them.

“We must now join hands.”

It took all of Carter’s self-control to keep from rolling his eyes. Of course, if they held hands, no one would be free to catch whoever might cavort about in the darkness beyond the edge of the candlelight to help the woman create her weird effects.

He took the hand she offered in his and held it tightly, to be certain she could not pull away. She made no attempt to do so. Her small, soft hand rested warmly in his, neither grasping nor trying to break free of his grip. Her eyes drifted closed.

Carter sat rigid, straining every sense to discover her means of trickery. Except for the occasional tiny pop from the candle, there was no sound in the room. The silence allowed the sounds outside to press inward—a city symphony of rumbling carriage wheels, clip-clopping hooves, and shouting street hawkers. Somewhere across the street, a piano played a popular ditty. The world was going on all around them, but, shut away in this dark and silent room, they were set apart.

At last, Miss Avila began to speak. She brought a message from the dead to each of the ladies in turn—words of enduring love, whether from a parent, husband, or child, that made them dab at their eyes with lace hankies. Finally, she asked for Catherine Greenfield.

The old fellow shifted, sitting taller. “Catherine? Catherine, are you there?”

“I’m here, Harlan.” Miss Avila now spoke with a slight Southern accent.

“My Catherine. I’ve longed to hear your voice again.”

“We talked before I left. You promised you wouldn’t grieve like this.”

“I know. But I’m just not sure how to get on without you. And now, Ben’s gone off, and…and I’m scared he won’t come back.”

“You must live on, Harlan. Ben’s children need a man about to help keep them in hand. Look to the living, my dear. Look to the living.”

Carter raised an eyebrow. That was not the message he’d expected.

Mr. Greenfield leaned toward the candle, his features taut with anxiety. “Are you telling me Ben is there with you?”

“No, dear.”

“You’re sure?”

“Harlan Greenfield, I think I’d know my own son.”

Tears glistened on the old fellow’s face. “Oh, thank God. Thank God.”

Miss Avila spoke again. “Catherine is gone. Is there an Emily Forbes there who will speak with me?”

Carter searched the woman’s face, but it gave away nothing. She waited patiently as the silence in the room again allowed the outside world to intrude.

At last, she shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mr. Forbes; the woman you seek is not on the other side.”

Carter clamped his lips together. She was cunning, he had to hand her that. He had counted on her revealing herself as a fraud by claiming to talk to Emily, who was very much alive and well.

He forced himself to continue the charade. “And my father?”

Once again, Miss Avila appeared to consult with an invisible host.

“He is there but unable to speak to me directly.”

Carter hid a sneer. “He suffered so much during his final illness. I want to make sure he is no longer in pain.”

“There is no illness or suffering in the other world. He says you should not worry about him.” Though she didn’t open her eyes, Miss Avila’s delicate brow furrowed emphatically. “Nor should you be concerned about your disagreement prior to his passing. It was a small matter, and you must not allow it to prey on your mind.”

Carter nearly let go of her hand. How could she possibly know about that?

Miss Avila’s frown deepened, and she shook her head a couple of times. Then her eyes popped open. “They are gone.”  She began to tremble from head to foot and slumped slightly, as if the contact with ghosts had sapped her strength.

She clapped her hands lightly, and the door opened again with another squeal. Carter was nearly convinced that was by design, for all the other appointments in the establishment were in perfect taste. Why would she abide a squeaky door, unless it was a deliberate flaw designed to reinforce the idea that the sitters were entirely alone—that no one else could have entered or exited?

Miss Avila bid her guests farewell, shaking their hands and giving each one a few personal words. She asked about family members and various ills. Took notice of a new bonnet and complimented a handsome necklace. The sitters seemed to brighten under her attention, as if she’d lit a lamp within them.

At last, Carter alone remained with her. He realized afresh how small she was; how her eyes, though dark, were bright and…kind. Once again, she surprised him, and he fumbled for words.

With practiced ease, she stepped in to save him from embarrassment. “Thank you for coming today, Mr. Forbes. I hope you found it enlightening.”

“To be honest, I had hoped for more.”

“Perhaps you are unaware that a sitter’s attitude can affect the ability of the spirits to communicate clearly. Tell me, did one of my clients refer you?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

She cocked her head prettily, waiting for an answer.

Carter decided it wouldn’t hurt to let her stew. He smiled back wolfishly but didn’t elaborate further.

Miss Avila stilled like a rabbit scenting a nearby predator.

***

Juliet didn’t dare move for fear she would give away her agitation. Mr. Forbes was even more than she’d bargained for. A tall man with neatly combed light brown hair and a well-groomed mustache of the same color, he was the sort who might be dismissed if one were fool enough not to notice the intelligence in his gray eyes and the muscular build beneath that stylish coat.

Juliet was no fool. She would not underestimate this man. He wasn’t the type to approach a medium. That meant he’d had a very definite purpose in seeking her out. If that purpose had anything to do with the work that had earned him a pass signed by President Lincoln, she could find her goose cooked.

On the other hand, it could very well have to do with his not-so-dearly-departed sister. As soon as he’d mentioned Emily, Juliet had made the connection. No wonder the name Carter Forbes was so familiar. But did he know of her acquaintance with his sister? At that moment, Juliet remembered something else Emily Forbes had mentioned about her older brother: He was a Pinkerton agent working for the government.

That certainly explained the pass. What it didn’t explain was what he wanted with her.

“I always like to get to know my new clients,” she finally said. “Would you care to join me for tea in the sitting room?”

His smile was thin-lipped. “I’d be delighted.”

Juliet led the way. “Please have a seat. I just need to speak to my housekeeper a moment.”

Once out of sight, she all but ran for the kitchen. Miss Clara and Professor Marvolo were seated at the table.

“All done, dear?” Miss Clara slid a tray of cookies toward her.

“Forbes is a Pinkerton and he wants something. I know it.”

Professor Marvolo turned his clouded gaze toward her. “Describe him.”

Juliet had spent years under the professor’s tutelage. As quickly as she could, she described everything the Pinkerton had said and done, in addition to his appearance. “I had a bad feeling about him from the beginning, so I kept the sitting very simple. No spirit writing. I didn’t want to do anything that he could seize upon.”

“Very wise.” The professor nodded over his fingertips, which he had pressed together as if in prayer. “He’s here on a personal matter.”

“Are you sure? How can you tell?”

“If this were an official investigation, he wouldn’t still be fooling around with tea and verbal sparring. Besides, the Pinkertons are all working for the war effort, in one way or another, and we don’t have a thing to do with that.”

“What should I do?”

“You have to go back in there and talk to him. Find out what he wants. This could be a good thing. Having a Pinkerton on our side might be beneficial.”

Miss Clara patted her arm. “I’ll bring in tea directly.”

Juliet clenched her hands into fists. She could do this. She had to do this. They were counting on her. And while she was not certain they would benefit from having a Pinkerton on their side, it would be a total disaster to have a Pinkerton as an enemy.

She returned to the sitting room. Once again, Mr. Forbes stood as she entered.

“I apologize for the delay. Tea will be brought directly.”

“That sounds good.” He sat as she did. “I’m curious, how long have you had this gift of being able to talk to spirits?”

She smiled. “Anyone can talk to spirits. They are the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that surround us. The real trick is being able to hear them talk back.” She decided to press her luck. “Mr. Forbes, now I must ask you a question.”

“Certainly.”

“Why did you try to make me believe your sister was dead?”

He slid back in his chair. “I think you know the answer.”

“It was a test, then?”

He nodded. “You passed that one with ease.”

Juliet watched him warily. “That one? Was there another test?”

“Oh, yes,” he said smugly. “My father didn’t die of a lingering illness. He was murdered.”

Now Juliet settled back in her seat. “Perhaps you should think over the conversation again. I merely said that there was no illness on the other side, and that he said not to worry about him.”

Artie entered, carrying a tray of tea things.

Alarmed, Juliet sat forward again. She didn’t want him anywhere near this man. “Artie?”

“Miss Clara asked me to bring this to you.” With his back to the agent, he gave her a broad wink.

Juliet refrained from making a face at him.

“And who is this strapping young lad?” Mr. Forbes asked in a too jovial voice.

“This is my son,” Juliet said evenly. “Artie, make your bows.”

Forbes looked from her to Artie and back again.

Juliet answered the unasked question. “He is adopted.”

“I see. It must be difficult, supporting such a large house, as well as a family.”

Juliet felt as if a hand had tightened around her windpipe. “Artie, go on back to the kitchen and help Miss Clara.”  Her eyes warned him not to argue.

When he was gone, Mr. Forbes stood. “Miss Avila, I grow tired of sparring with you. We both know you are a fraud. If I have to, I will send agents by the dozens until someone exposes you. Then I will smear your name in every salon and parlor in the capital. You will never have another client.”

Mouth dry as parchment, Juliet tilted her chin up a notch. “May I know what I have done to earn your enmity?”

“I have a young person I am responsible for, as well. My sister, Emily, whom you introduced to spiritualism.”

Juliet frowned. “Emily sat for me only once, and she was brought by a neighbor.”

“Once was far more than enough. She now believes that she can, in a way, resurrect our parents and keep them close at hand. She’s been taken in by a spurious English nobleman who claims to have powers remarkably similar to your own.”

Juliet knew immediately of whom he spoke. “Lord”  Shelston was gaining quite a following in the area, but he could be cruel and exceptionally greedy, as well, draining his clients of their resources and then discarding them.

“If your worry is with Shelston, why come after me?”

Carter shook his head. “I am not a complete idiot. If I attack her pet directly, Emily will simply consider me too protective. I must tackle this problem at the root.”

“And you believe I am the root of the problem?” She laughed roughly. “Mr. Forbes, my influence is nowhere near as great as you take it to be.”

“Not at all, Miss Avila. I realize your clientele is small, by most standards. But, by shutting down your operation, and those like yours, it lights a fire under Shelston’s feet. He’ll soon find Washington a very inhospitable place.”

Mind awhirl, Juliet sought a way out of this dilemma. “I know Shelston, and I agree with you as to his basic character. I don’t want to see your sister involved with him any more than you do. So, I have a proposal.”

Carter raised a questioning eyebrow, so Juliet rushed on.

“I’ll go with you and tell Emily all I know about him and how he achieves his illusions.”

“And what do you want in return?”

“Your word that you will leave my family and me in peace.”

She could imagine Forbes’s thought process: weighing the pros and cons; deliberating what his sister’s well-being was worth to him; contemplating whether he could live with himself if he let a small fish swim free in order to catch the larger fish he was after.

Finally he held out his hand. “You have a bargain, Miss Avila.”

She grabbed it before he could change his mind and pumped it forcefully. The deal had been struck.

First Wild Card Tours presents….Moon Dancing by Anna Zogg

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Anna Zogg
and the book:
Moon Dancing
Next Step Books (July 14, 2013)
***Special thanks to Virginia Smith and Keely Leake for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anna Zogg has always been fascinated by the west: ranch life, wild mustangs and the tough men and women who sought to tame it. Her fondest memories are of summers she spent riding her horse, Brandy, and the day she participated in a rodeo. Moon Dancing was born out of her lifelong love of the west and the discovery of her own Native American heritage. Author of numerous articles, Moon Dancing is Ms. Zogg’s debut novel. She and her husband, John, currently live in Utah.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A rogue black stallion. A sacred white buffalo. Mysterious night voices.

Megan Gillespie returns to Wyoming to fulfill a promise. Nothing more. Yet when the unexplainable happens she is drawn into the intrigues surrounding her uncle’s ranch…intrigues that escalate the longer she stays. How can prized mares simply vanished? Who is the Native American that appears only at night? Why is her uncle determined to keep her from leaving?

Torn between the desire to escape and the need to resolve these long-held secrets, Megan uncovers truths that threaten her life…and stir her to the depths of her soul.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.58

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Next Step Books (July 14, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1937671127

ISBN-13: 978-1937671129

MY THOUGHTS

This is an awesome book for those who love Christian fiction Fantasy! Especially you teenagers out there. This is a really good clean and fun book for you!

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A scream–long and agonizing–ripped the air. The hair on Megan Gillespie’s neck stood on end while the scent of spring rain filled her senses. She peered through the pickup’s windshield, seeing nothing beyond a mound of pinyon pine and withered grass. Shouts of men and the nervous snorting of horses battered her. What is happening? She flung open the door. As she sprinted up the dusty rise, she tripped on her long jeans skirt.The scene below riveted her.Like a pack of wolves, a group of men circled a black stallion. Head flailing, the horse fought uncountable ropes. He reared, hooves striking blindly. Foam flecked his neck, teeth bared and mouth opened in a silent shriek. The setting sun painted his soaked hide in blood-colored lather. Dust boiled upwards, the air choked with pinpricks of glittering gold.The horse fought in vain. His cry, one of rage and impotence, shuddered through Megan.

Pain! She doubled over, as though punched the stomach. Can’t breathe. Her eyes burned from the agony.

The stallion again reared, legs lashing out.

“Hold him. I said, hold him!” A tall man yanked a lariat from the hands of one of the men.

The next moment, the stallion lunged forward. Men scattered. Rope tore through the gloves of one cowhand, the sound like a zip-line at high speed. He howled.

The stallion’s getting away! Megan’s heart leaped with hope. He’s getting–

Joy crumpled into terror. The horse charged directly at her.

* * *

“Hey, ya hear me? I said, whatcha think of Silver Springs?”

The voice pierced the fog of her mind. Megan shook her head and blinked. A gentle breeze lifted a strand of hair and caressed her cheek. She turned to the speaker.

Miles, the driver of the van, scratched his ribcage as he grinned at her.

Where’s…?

A chill crawled through her. She could have sworn she’d just been standing….

“Cat got yer tongue?”

Miles spat a brown stream of unmentionable liquid into the dirt. She stepped back to avoid being splattered.

He smirked. “Better get used to it, Miz City Gal. Out here, don’t need my spittin’ cup.”

She vaguely recalled the chipped mug and its foaming contents in the truck’s console. Hadn’t she just spent three hours coming from Cheyenne? She remembered thinking how hot the ride had been without air conditioning.

A door slammed. The other passenger opened the back of the van and grabbed his luggage, muttering under his breath.

“Hey, I can get those.” Miles sprang forward to haul the man’s belongings into the building.

A battered sign hung from the eaves of the self-proclaimed hotel, half the words blistered off. Weatherworn rocking chairs squeaked on the porch, propelled by invisible patrons.

As she stared at her grimy feet, Megan remembered stepping out of the van. I distinctly recall worrying about my sandals. Pedicured toenails had morphed from mauve to mud-colored. Dust streaked her skirt. Miles had asked if she were “rump sprung” as she’d gazed down the empty streets of Silver Springs. But after that….

The late afternoon sun beat down, warring with her lingering out-of-sync feeling.

She again glanced down the main street. Twenty or so sad buildings spread out on both sides of a potholed road. Peeling paint, grime and neglect stamped the worn wooden siding. At a distance stood a lonely corral and dilapidated barn. If not for three pickup trucks, Megan could swear she’d stepped back a hundred years into the old west.

I had these thoughts before. The sense of déjà vu hit her again. What is going on?

She remained alone by the van, staring down the vacant street and asking herself why she would voluntarily travel to the wilds of Wyoming. Was she crazy? Obviously, in light of the weird stuff that had happened since the moment of her arrival.

Three months. That’s all I promised my uncle. Megan took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She could put up with almost anything for three months. Besides, she’d earned it. She’d worked multiple seventy-hour weeks to finish a major project so she could take the time off.

Down the street, a dust devil swirled hypnotically. The tan cyclone bobbed and gyrated, then lifted into the air, passing over her head as though parading out of town. For a moment, the sun blinded her with hazy orange. The cloud of dirt settled and split apart, spraying the horizon in gold and scarlet.

“Wow,” she murmured, entranced by the beauty.

A white calf stood at the edge of town. Is that a buffalo? Nothing had been there a minute ago. Feet splayed, the ghost-colored animal calmly returned her gaze, oblivious to the dust storm. Animals didn’t normally stare at people, but this one did. Wholly intent on her, the calf didn’t move. Megan shivered.

The miniature storm continued to blow at the edge of town, then suddenly shifted, spraying dirt her direction. Dazzling sand particles danced around, without touching her. The storm raged for minutes. Then it unexpectedly died as though someone flipped a switch. She blinked and looked back to the edge of town.

The calf had vanished.

She straightened. Where–?

“Miz Gillespie?” A deep male voice sounded nearby.

Megan ignored the speaker. The calf had been right there!

“Did you–did you just…?” Unable to explain the event, she clamped her mouth shut, still staring.

“Did I what?”

Finally, she gazed at the newcomer.

I’ve seen him before.

The tall cowboy looked like he’d stepped out of a western movie. Sandy hair, blue-gray eyes, and deep tan made her gulp. Not only was he lean and square-jawed, but the huge silver belt buckle, shaped like a horseshoe, large hat and well-worn boots completed the picture.

He grinned. “Don’t tell me you’re overcome by our picturesque town.”

“Heya, Jack.” The voice of Miles boomed as he exited the hotel. “Thought that was you.”

The cowboy turned to the driver. “Where’ve you been? Stop to take pictures or something?” Annoyance roughened the words of the man named Jack. “I’ve been waiting over an hour.”

“I’m sure you found someone to keep ya occupied. Heard the new barmaid has her eye on you.”

“You could’ve called.” Jack poked the brim of his hat back with a thumb.

“Forgot my phone. ’Sides, I was busy talking to the purdiest gal I’ve seen in a while.” Miles winked at her. “This here’s Daniel’s niece.”

The cowboy stuck out his hand. “Jack Crawford. Foreman of the Double O.”

“Megan Gillespie.” As she shook his hand she hissed in a breath from his firm grip.

“Figured. You got his red hair.”

“That ain’t all of his this city gal’s got.” Miles guffawed.

What’s that mean? She pulled her hand away from Crawford’s.

“Course, she don’t have as many freckles. And good thing she don’t weigh near–”

“This your gear?” The foreman stepped up to the back of the van.

Gear. She tucked away the interesting word as she shot him a grateful look. “Yes. Let me–”

“I got it.” He grabbed the three pieces of designer luggage, then stuffed one under his arm. “This all?”

“Let me get my purse and carryon.” She hurried to the front seat to retrieve them.

“That’s one thing about Jack.” Miles dug into a can of tobacco, apparently oblivious to the fact they ignored him. “Always knows how to treat the ladies right.”

“I’m parked down the street.” Crawford indicated the trucks with a tilt of his head.

“So you could be closer to the bar?” Miles stuffed a wad in his lip, then smirked.

The foreman glared. “We agreed to meet at the post office, remember? My pickup’s right out front.”

The driver spread his hands. “How’s I supposed to know we’d have an extra passenger? Jed Harper wanted me to drop him off at the hotel.”

Crawford straightened with a jerk. “Harper?”

“Harper Junior. Returning to the fold, so to speak.” Miles scratched his cheek without a break. “Staying in town overnight. Guess he wants to patch things up a’tween him and the old man.”

Megan raised her brows. The sullen man who’d shared her van ride didn’t seem the type who wanted to patch up anything.

“He tell you this?” Crawford’s mouth hardened. “Or you making it up?”

Miles looked taken aback. “Aw, you know me. Picked it up here and there.”

“And spreading it around.”

“Hey, ain’t still bad blood a’tween you and Harper, is there?”

The foreman’s jaw jutted as he glanced at Megan. “Let’s go.”

“You’re supposed t’forgive and forget, Jack.”

Without answering, Crawford stalked down the street.

She hurried to follow, wondering what Miles meant by bad blood. However, his parting shot distracted her. “Whatever you do, Miz Gillespie, don’t let Jack take the scenic route. He’d ruin your reputation, fo’sure.” His squawking laugh made her wince.

“Thanks again for stopping by.” An overly bleached blond popped out of a building and smiled brilliantly at Crawford. “Don’t forget you got that tab running.”

“You know I’m good for it.” He touched the brim of his hat.

Her smile faded as soon she noticed Megan.

When he reached a blue Chevy, he tossed her luggage into the bed then climbed into the full-sized cab, leaving her to fend for herself. He could at least open her door, couldn’t he? She tucked her carryon under an arm to free her hand. Crawford unexpectedly leaned over and opened the door from the inside.

“Thanks.” Though she was grateful they’d gotten away from Miles, the foreman could be a little more helpful. And not toss her suitcases around like cattle prepared for branding.

He started the truck before she shut the door and began to back out. Megan fumbled to find the seat belt.

“You don’t need ’em around here.”

She glared at him. “I happen to value my life.”

“Nobody uses ’em–trust me.”

She ignored his comment and dug between the middle of the seat. The shoulder strap was missing, leaving her only with the lap belt. After locating the other half, she jammed the gritty ends together, and then struggled to tighten it. Clogged by dirt and disuse, the mechanism wouldn’t budge. Crawford was already heading out of town, acknowledging the wave of another woman who walked along the street.

Megan hated to give up, but finally folded her hands to hide the fact that the belt lay slack. Without a word, Crawford reached over. With one hard tug, he tightened the strap.

“Ow! Enough.” The material dug into her pelvis. She spent the next couple minutes trying to loosen it. “You didn’t have to cut off circulation to my legs.”

He remained silent, staring ahead at the narrow road.

After settling, she studied the landscape. Bare dirt, pinyon pine and spindly grass, all either brown or faded. Nothing else could be seen for miles and miles. What creatures could possibly survive here? Already she missed the lush green of Florida. Forbidding gray mountains dominated the horizon. Though she’d spent the first nine years of her life in Wyoming, nothing seemed familiar. Or inviting.

Megan threw a glance at the foreman. “How far to the ranch?”

“’Bout an hour.”

“That far?” When he didn’t volunteer anything else, she tried again. “Is the road paved all the way?”

“Mostly.”

“Have you lived in this area long?”

“Some.”

“Like it?”

“Yep.”

She blew out a breath. “Definitely not big on conversation.”

Crawford acted as though he hadn’t heard. Fingers choking the steering wheel, he stared ahead. Maybe there was still bad blood between him and Jed Harper.

The subdued drone of tires on pavement began to grate on her nerves. Silence pressed on her, but instead of growing sleepy, she found herself tensing. She almost asked the foreman to turn on the radio. More than once, she unclenched her hands and forced her shoulders to relax. She sighed deeply several times, trying to get enough air.

The shrill ringing of a phone made her jump.

“Sup?” Crawford pressed the cell to his ear. After a pause, he said, “You’re kidding. When? Where? On my way.”

He stomped on the accelerator. When the pickup began to rock, Megan clutched at the door. She glanced at the speedometer. They were doing over seventy-five.

“What’s going on?” Her voice came out a little more sharply than she intended.

“Need to make a detour.”

“Where?” Miles’ warning about a scenic route flashed through her mind. “My uncle’s expecting me.”

“This won’t take long.” Gaze locked ahead, Crawford’s jaw stiffened.

The needle edged eighty. Eighty-five.

“Do you have to drive so fast?” She raised her voice over the whine of the engine. “I’m sure–”

“He doesn’t want me to miss this.” Crawford shot her a hard glance. “Believe me.”

She gulped, saying nothing more.

He slowed only slightly as they came to a dirt road and careened around the corner. The pickup skidded, spraying rocks into the air. They fishtailed. With casual expertise, he righted the vehicle, then sped up again. The truck bounced crazily over uneven ground. Megan banged her arm against the window then grabbed the seat back. Her carryon leaped up, then crashed to the floor several times.

In the distance, men and horses crowded around something. Dread built in her. As the truck hurtled down a hill, she lost sight of them. Her stomach vaulted into her throat. Crawford slammed on the brakes, causing the truck to skid sideways. After shoving the gearshift lever into park, he flipped off the keys.

“Stay here. You’ll be safe.” He jumped out.

For several minutes, she heard only her panting breath. Her arm felt bruised where it had hit the window. Fighting to slow her pounding heart, she rubbed her neck. Megan pushed away the premonition of having been there before.

The sun dipped lower in the sky, the heat growing inside the truck until it became suffocating. She turned the key so she could roll down both windows a few inches. Outside, the blowing wind snatched at the nearby pinyon pine, rustling the twigs, the sound reminiscent of shuffling paper. The breeze moaned its way through the windows.

Help me. Someone, standing outside the cab of the truck, rasped the barely audible words.

“What?” Megan jerked around to look out her window. Imagining she saw a dark form, she shrank back.

No one was there.

“This is creepy.” She rubbed her arms.

The barrenness of the countryside and the utter stillness clawed at her mind.

I’ve been here before. I know it.

She shuddered. Where had Crawford gone? What was he doing? The cries of men and animals gradually welled up into awareness, as though someone slowly turned up the volume on a radio.

The scream of a stallion pierced the air. A shiver slithered down her spine. What were they doing to the horse? Déjà vu hit so hard, she clenched the door handle and dashboard to brace herself. The scent of spring rain enveloped her.

This can’t be happening.

Megan peered through the dirty windshield, knowing she’d done that before. But when? How?

Her hand crept up her throat. The burn of something tightened around her neck. It pulled against her flesh, crushing her windpipe. The agony built and built until she could hardly breathe.

Out of the corner of her eye, a white blur streaked past the truck. Megan gasped in recognition as a buffalo calf ran up the knoll and disappeared.

The next moment, she bolted out of the cab and sprinted up the rise.

Litfuse Presents Memory’s Door by James L. Rubart

Book Info

About Memory’s Door: The prophecy brought them together—to fight for the hearts of others and set them free.

But the Wolf has risen, and now their greatest battle begins.

The four members of Warriors Riding have learned to wage war in the supernatural, to send their spirits inside people’s souls, to battle demonic forces, and to bring deep healing to those around them.

But their leader Reece is struggling with the loss of his sight. Brandon is being stalked at his concerts by a man in the shadows. Dana’s career is threatening to bury her. And Marcus questions his sanity as he seems to be slipping in and out of alternate realities.

And now the second part of the prophecy has come true. The Wolf is hunting them, and has set his trap. He circles, feeding on his supernatural hate of all they stand for. And he won’t stop until he brings utter destruction to their bodies . . . and their souls.

“. . .this is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and ‘builds wings on the way down.'”-Publishers Weekly review of Soul’s Gate

 

My Thoughts On This Book

 

I usually don’t read Christian Fantasy, but I read Soul’s Gate and was in awe, so I just had to read Memory’s Door because it is a sequel to Soul’s Gate. The four main characters in this story are people we would all love to be spiritually, because they are so in fellowship with the Lord that they follow the Him faithfully. But they are not without problems, difficulties, and struggles in the daily lives.

 

I don’t even have words to adequately describe James Rupart and his storytelling. I love how he dips into the lives of these four characters, and with all of the twists and turns of their lives, weaves them altogether to write a story that is so amazingly wonderful. And I love the deep spiritual look into each of the characters lives, showing readers what it is like to live so close to the Lord, even though the struggles of life. James Rupart has changed my attitude about Christian Fantast! Grab a copy of Memory’s Door and see for yourself. And don’t forget to check out Soul’s Gate as well!

 

 

I received this book from Litfuse to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

 

 

 

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/nYxEu

About the Author: James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of five novels, including the best-seller “Rooms” and award-winning “Soul’s Gate,” the book that precedes “Memory’s Door” in the Well Spring series. Rubart and his wife have two sons and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Find out more about James at:http://jameslrubart.com/books/ 

The Path to Piney Meadows…..by Gail Sattler…..from Abingdon

The Path to Piney Meadows

by Gail Sattler

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

Running from his frustrating life, Chad loses his way on Christmas Eve and soon stumbles on the remote town of Piney Meadows. Before long, he falls in love with the people of the Old Order Mennonite community, accepts a job, and settles into the area. He is touched by the good people and their strong faith, even though he still has a lingering dispute with God. Most of all, he is fond of Anna. The more he gets to know her, the more he falls in love with her. But Anna is not happy in Piney Meadows. The Mennonite community is changing, but it’s not changing fast enough for her. She longs to move to Minneapolis to get a job, make her way in the world, and find herself. Chad doesn’t want her to go, but Anna can only see the freedom she imagines she will get in the big city. When she’s ready to leave he contemplates leaving with her, but a personal crisis shakes Chad to his core. Feeling let down by everyone—including God—Chad wonders if Anna will now desert him too.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

This is the neatest story! For a man like Chad, who lived a pretty fast pace life and had money to buy the finer things in life, to land in an old order Mennonite community was not so easy. But as he meets the people, realizes the trust they have in each other, and the love throughout the community, Chad finds a life that he didn’t know existed. I loved reading this book! I enjoyed seeing the transformation in Chad’s life, as well as his attraction to Anna. I think it was mostly the attraction to Anna that kept me reading because I wanted to find out if anything would develop with their attraction.

I love Amish fiction, so I really enjoyed reading about the difference between Chad’s former life and the life he was now living. I loved his chickens, and especially the chicken hotel! But I’m not sure I would allow chickens in the house like he did. And I did find out something I never knew before, there is such a thing as chicken diapers!! And if you want to know more about chicken diapers, you have to read the book! This story is slow pace, just like the Amish and Mennonite lifestyle, but that’s what I love about it!

I received this book from the publisher Abingdon Press to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Gail Sattler.

To sum myself up, I am a wife, mother, writer, and musician, and the order of those things will depend on what day it is.

Friends tell me that I lead a busy life, and I suppose that’s probably true. But I enjoy everything I do, so I can’t stop any of it. Yet, for all the things I’m involved with, and even though I began my adventures of musicianship early at age eight, writing is my passion. I remember the first book I wrote, back in middle school – on a clackety old manual typewriter. It was uniquely based on a pre-teen girl named… Gail… and her 3 best friends, all of whom shared the same names as my own best friends. Despite dangers and unknown perils, we raced against time following cryptic clues to seek a precious treasure in a haunted mansion before the ghosts, police, and relatives of the deceased owner of the house caught and locked us in the damp, dreary cellar until we perished.

I can’t remember if we found the treasure, but I have to assume we did. After all, I’m here to tell about it.

My writing has changed a lot since then (PTL!) My current book is the rewritten saga of a modern day Cinderella, which continues with the tales of her (reformed) stepsisters. Then, instead of a fairy godmother, I introduced Farrah the godmother. Check it out here by clicking on the sidebar on Seattle Cinderella, or for more good stuff, check out www.seattlecinderella.com.

When I’m not writing I’m back to playing piano for my worship team at church, but I still play upright electric bass for the Golden Ears Jazz Band and acoustic double bass for a community orchestra, the A Little Night Music Orchestra. If I had more time, I’d love to learn the violin. So besides being a writer, I am also a band geek.

In our ourchestra’s last concert we played Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, First Movement, and I’ve embedded a link from YouTube if you want to check us out. If you are looking for me, there are 3 acoustic string bass players to the far right on the screen, that’s me in the middle.

check out her websites at GailSattler.com and MennoniteRomanceNovel.com.

Letters from Ruby….by Adam Thomas…..From Abingdon Press

Letters from Ruby

by Adam Thomas

From Abingdon Press

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About this Book

When the newly ordained Episcopal priest Rev. Calvin Harper arrives in Victory, West Virginia, to be the pastor at an ailing parish, he has no idea how much he still has to learn about being a priest. Thankfully, Ruby Redding takes the young man under her wing and teaches him everything she has learned throughout her long, storied life. Seminary never taught Calvin that the only true way to be a witness to God’s presence in this world is to remain in relationships with people no matter what life throws at them. His studies never taught him that detachment is the bane of ministry. He never learned that deep grief comes only from deep love. But in his first year in Victory, Calvin learns all this and more from Ruby, a woman so full of God’s light that it can’t help but spill onto the people around her.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Ruby Redding was truly a lady of encouragement, and she shows that in helping the new Episcopal priest Rev. Calvin Harper. Ruby teaches Calvin everything she has learned in her life, things that he could no way find out in seminary. Several years later, Calvin was called to a church in Boston, and Ruby continued encouraging and teaching Calvin through letters. Letters to Ruby gives readers those letters of encouragement to read and be encouraged as well.

I really like Ruby and the way she was willing to help Calvin when he was so new to the church. We need many like Ruby in our world today. I can only imagine how this young pastor cherished each of these letter from his mentor. I was truly encouraged myself, and I know you will be too when you read this book, Letters to Ruby.

I received this book from the publisher Abingdon Press to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Thomas was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 2008 at the age of 25, making him one of the first priests from the millennial generation. His unique voice in the faith community emanates from a combination of his youth, honesty, humor, and tech-savvy nature. A self-described nerd, Adam is the author of Digital Disciple. He also writes the blog WhereTheWind.com, belongs to the Christian Century Blogging Community and Day1.org, and knows everything about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Adam lives in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Litfuse Presents Whispers on the Dock by Evangeline Kelley, aka A Team of Four Authors

Book Info
About Whispers on the Dock:Three sisters. A charming inn. Hints of mystery and romance. And a gorgeous seaside setting. Escape to Misty Harbor Inn.

As Nantucket reaches the pinnacle of its summer glory, and the Marris sisters welcome guests at Misty Harbor Inn, youngest sister Sam Carter enters her mother’s cobbler recipe in the Summerfest baking contest. But she faces a formidable opponent, a past winner who is determined to keep her title even if it means stooping to dirty tactics. Can Sam’s newfound faith help her rise above the fray and reach out to this lonely woman? Meanwhile, an elderly guest arrives who knows the inn’s history, and the sisters are stunned to learn that their late mother lived there as a child. But she told them she’d never been to Nantucket until her honeymoon! Through the woman’s reminiscences and photos, the sisters make an intriguing discovery — not only about the mysterious Hannah Montague, the young woman who disappeared from the house in 1880, but also about their own family history.

Readers will delight in the inviting Nantucket setting and be enthralled by the adventures of these sisters who reunite to bring their mother’s Misty Harbor dreams to life.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/nXSVh

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

 

Whispers on the Dock returns to the Misty Harbor Inn, and the three sisters that are in the first two books in this series. This book focuses mostly on the younger sister Sam. Even though they are going about their daily lives, all three are still interested in finding answers about Hannah and her disappearance a century before. Join these sisters as they continue to uncover information and find their answers.

 

I absolutely love this book and the entire series. Even through the difficult situations these ladies faced, the story was nice and calm, with that laid back feeling that makes you want to live in a place like Misty Harbor Inn. I loved getting to know the characters of Sam, Doris and Caroline and how each had an important part in their family. And the mysterious Hannah kept my attention well, and I was right there with these ladies as they followed leads they had on finding out the truth! A very exciting story, yet you will be surprised at how relaxing and calm you will feel while reading this book. It is truly amazing how four talented and number one authors comes together with a series such as this. I encourage you to check out Whispers on the Dock, as well as the first two books in this series, Sunflower and Seaside and sit down for the most relaxing read you have ever had!

 

I received this book from Litfuse to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

 

 

About the authors: Evangeline Kelley is the pen name for the writing team of Patti Berg, Pam Hanson & Barbara Andrews, and Camy Tang, the four authors who collaborated to create Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn. Each of them has published novels individually, but this is their first series together.

All God’s Children…..by Anna Schmidt….From Barbour Books

All God’s Children

by Anna Schmidt

From Barbour Books

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MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Beth Bridgewater has been in Germany for about eight years taking care of her younger cousin, because her Aunt Isle had health issues that prohibited her from taking care of her daughter. As World War II erupts, Beth, a Quaker pacifist, and Josef Buch, a passionate German Patriot and the former student that Beth’s uncle opened his extra attic room to, join together in nonviolent resistance of the Nazis—and in love. Does their love stand a chance in the midst of such evil. . .if they even survive at all? I really like the catchy book blurb!

This book was different than other books I have read by Anna Schmidt, and haven’t read any Amish or Quaker stories taking place around the World War II era, so this was interesting.  For me, the book started off slow but after a few chapters, it turned into a true Anna Schmidt story with creative and realistic characters that tell their story so well. Beth’s Aunt Isle was puzzling at times, I just wasn’t sure what her sickly nature was about. Beth and Josef were so different, but they shared an attraction to each other, and they worked well together. And the suspense and mystery surrounding Josef was the driving force for me, because I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next.

As with all historical fiction, I really enjoyed the history part of the story, and the author did a phenomenal job of describing historical Germany in the early 1940’s and what it was like there after the war. Ms. Schmidt leaves you feeling like you are joining the characters in the story, and you will be truly entertained and blessed as you read All God’s Children. I was happy to read that there will be books two and three coming out later to continue where this story and these characters were left off. If you enjoy historical fiction, and WWII fiction, you will love this one!

I received this book from the publisher Barbour Books to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

ABOUT ANNA SCHMIDT

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Anna Schmidt

 

Anna Schmidt is the author of over twenty works of fiction. Among her many honors, Anna is the recipient ofRomantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the RITA award for romantic fiction. She enjoys gardening and collecting seashells at her winter home in Florida.

FIRST Wild Card Tours presents….Awakened Love by Laura V. Hilton

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Laura V. Hilton
and the book:
Awakened Love
(Amish of Webster County #3)
Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author and book lover. Her Amish fiction series books have sold thousands of copies and garnered praise from readers and critics for originality and authenticity. This is thanks, in part, to Laura’s Amish grandmother from whom she learned Amish ways, and her husband Steve’s family ties in Webster County, Missouri, who served as invaluable resources in her research. Laura’s previous Whitaker House books include The Amish of Seymour series: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another; and The Amish of Webster County: Healing Love and Surrendered Love.  Awakened Love is the final book in the series. Laura is also a homeschooling mother, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger who posts reviews at:  www.lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Katie Detweiler is excited when she’s hired to bake for a local bed-and-breakfast, especially because the shy young Amish woman will be able to work alone in the kitchen doing a job she loves.  Circumstances change, however, and the job requires she also wait on customers, including a private investigator who tells her she is adopted and has a biological sister in need of a bone marrow transplant. She also meets 22-year-old Abram Hilty, an Amish man who has fled the drama of his community in Shipshewana, Indiana, for Seymour, Missouri, where he’s staying with his cousin Micah Graber. Abram is immediately attracted to Katie, but pursuing a relationship with her would be complicated because he’s come to the Amish of Webster County to hide from a girl he no longer cares about—and also from a cold-blooded killer.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Series: Amish of Webster County (Book 3)

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603745084

ISBN-13: 978-1603745086

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

What happens when a bashful Amish baker and an Englisch man on the run meet? Well for one, they are attracted to each other, but that can’t be happening because Amish and Englisch can’t mix. Or can they? Laura Hilton is typical of intermixing situations that are totally inappropriate somehow finds a way for them to work. Can this mixed up couple find a way to be together, or will the demands of each of their lives cause them to go separate ways?

 

Laura Hilton has done it again in this third book of The Amish of Webster County. I love Katie Detweiler’s character and was glad she had the chance to come out of her shell a bit when she was forced to take over the bakery. Abram was a little harder to get to know, but he really grows on you, and I started really liking his character as the story develops.

And as usually with Laura Hilton’s books, there are secrets that need to be revealed and a lot of twists and turns that will keep you fully involved in this story till the end. This is one Amish fiction you do not want to miss!

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Today I met the bu I’m gonna marry….” Patsy Swartz’s singsongy voice was too chipper. Bracing herself for an afternoon with the bubbly girl, Katie Detweiler climbed out of her daed’s buggy and turned to lift the cooler from the back. Her not-exactly-a-friend bounced up beside her, still singing away.Katie’s heart ached with a stab of envy.Would she ever marry?Daed snorted, in apparent disbelief. “Bye, Katie-girl. Have fun at the frolic.” He clicked at the horse and then pulled the buggy around the circle drive.

“The new bu in town!” Patsy squealed, as if Katie had asked. “He is sooooo cute! I’m going to marry him. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Will you stand up with me? I’m asking Mandy, too.”

Marriage? The new bu in town? Why was she the last to know these things? Katie hadn’t even known that Patsy had a beau. Wait—she didn’t. Just yesterday, she was bemoaning the lack of interesting men in her life.

Katie shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “Stand up with you? On Valentine’s Day? Jah, I can do that. What new bu in town?”

Patsy huffed. “Where have you been, Katie? There is a world outside that bed-and-breakfast, ain’t so?”

“When did you two meet? You didn’t mention him yesterday.” She adjusted her grip on the cooler handles and started toward the haus.

“He’s visiting the Grabers…a cousin or something. He’s here, right over—ach, I see Mandy! I’ll tell you about him later.” She turned away and glanced over her shoulder. “You’re still standing up with me. Valentine’s Day. Write that down, Katie.”

Patsy ran across the driveway to where Mandy Hershberger stood by the open barn doors.

Valentine’s Day? Was Patsy serious? Most weddings happened between November and January—never February, when the fields need to be prepared for planting. And wouldn’t the bishop have some reservations about Patsy’s marrying a man she’d known for, what, half an hour?

Valentine’s Day was still a long ways off. It was only August. And Patsy probably would’ve moved on three times by then.

But he was here, this mystery man Patsy planned to wed? Katie turned around and scanned the buwe playing volleyball, looking for a face she didn’t recognize. She didn’t see anyone new. Or maybe he just didn’t stand out. Patsy? Getting married? If Katie knew her at all, she’d be promised to this new bu in a short time. What Patsy wanted, she usually got. Even if they ended up calling it quits several weeks into the relationship.

Katie sighed. It’d be nice if someone noticed her. And wanted her as a permanent part of his future.

She headed for the haus to deliver the food. A long row of tables was set up inside the kitchen, already piled full. Katie set the cooler down next to the door, opened the lid, and took out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She carried them to the table and set them down among the other desserts, then stepped back and surveyed the array of cookies and fried pies. Maybe she should’ve made something else besides cookies. But Daed wouldn’t mind if she brought the entire plateful back home again.

“Hi, Katie.” Micah Graber’s mamm, Lizzie, came into the room. “Glad you made it. Micah’s playing volleyball, if you want to join in. His cousin Abram is visiting from Indiana.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll want an introduction.”

Katie wasn’t so sure, except maybe to see what Patsy found so special about this mystery man. It was probably nothing more than that she hadn’t yet been courted by him, since she had gone with almost every other bu in the district.

Oops. That was unkind. Katie found a smile. “Danki. I’ll find Micah.” Later. Their paths would probably cross sometime that afternoon. He usually made a point to say hi to her.

Katie went to get the rest of the food out of her cooler when the door burst open. She gazed into knock-’em-dead blue eyes belonging to the most handsome someone she’d never seen. She stared at the stranger, her mouth open.

He raked his fingers through his brown hair, dislodging his straw hat, and backed up. “Micah sent me to get the coolers and the big picnic jugs.”

Lizzie Graber laughed. “Ach, you walked right past them. They’re out on the porch.”

His eyes met Katie’s again, and he nodded in greeting. Her heart pounded so loud, she worried he’d hear it. “Sorry, Aenti Lizzie. Don’t know what I was thinking.” He shook his head and backed out of the room, his gaze still locked on Katie, then turned and shut the door.

Lizzie laughed again. “Those buwe are all the same. They see a pretty girl and have to kum check her out.”

Pretty? Lizzie believed he’d kum inside because he thought she was pretty? But he hadn’t stayed long enough to say hi. Or to ask her name. Not that it mattered. She probably would’ve been tongue-tied, anyway. Katie straightened, willing her heart rate to return to normal. A gut-looking bu she didn’t know. Micah’s cousin. He must be Patsy’s…whatever she’d call him. Maybe “her intended,” since she’d said she wanted to marry him. So, why did it matter what he thought?

It didn’t.

Her insides deflated like a popped balloon.

Katie studied the dessert selection again. Disappointingly, other than the chips in her cookies, there wasn’t any chocolate in sight—unless some of the fried pies were filled with the delicious comfort.

***

Abram Hilty shut the door behind him and took a deep breath to calm his pulse. He hadn’t even talked to the girl in the kitchen, didn’t know the sound of her voice, but there was something about her that his heart had recognized.

“She’s pretty, jah?” Micah hoisted a cooler in his arms and started down the steps.

“Very.” Abram lifted one of the big yellow picnic jugs and fell into step beside him. “And you can’t get her to pay attention to you?”

Micah shook his head. “Nein. Not at all. But her best friend, Janna Kauffman, told me Katie’s really shy. Maybe I’ll offer to drive her home tonight. Her daed dropped her off.”

Abram chuckled. “You do that. I’ll ask her out, too, and tell her how wunderbaar you are. Between the two of us, we’ll get her talking.”  That would at least give him an opportunity to spend time with her.

Micah raised his eyebrows. “You’d do that for me?”

“That, and I’m currently between girls.” Abram winked. “I told Marianna I want a break.” Sort of. He did owe her some sort of explanation for his silence. After all, they’d been practically engaged—and he’d essentially stood her up.

Of course, he hadn’t revealed where he’d gone. Instead, he’d left a vague note: “Need some time off. Sorry.”

In hindsight, Ouch. But she’d been hounding him to make a commitment, dropping hints he couldn’t help but get. He could do worse, he’d supposed. And yet he’d fled. He needed to think. And that was impossible with her bringing him lunch every day, staying to eat with him, and getting into his buggy after every singing and frolic—without his even asking.

He shook his head. What else could he have done?

“What if she falls in love with you, not me?” Micah’s forehead creased as his eyebrows drew together. “I mean, talking me up is kind of cliché.” He snickered. “And it usually works in reverse.”

Abram shrugged. He wouldn’t complain if it did. “How could she not fall in love with you, with me singing your praises?” Of course, he’d try hard not to sing his own. Not that he had much to sing about. He frowned. How long before he was found out?

Micah set the cooler on the ground next to a table with some stacks of paper cups, then straightened. “I’ll go say hi to her, then, while you get the other picnic jug.”

“Works for me.” Abram set the picnic jug down on the table, then reached for a cup, held it under the spigot, and pressed the handle for a splash of iced tea.

“Hi, Abram,” cooed a feminine voice.

Abram cringed. Not another pushy female. He looked up at not one but two girls—a redhead he’d seen earlier that day, who beamed at him, and another with reddish-brown hair. He preferred Katie and her dark blonde hair.

“Welkum to Missouri!” said the redhead. “I’m Patsy Swartz, and this is Mandy Hershberger.”

He found a smile. “Nice to meet you. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get the other—”

Micah punched his arm. “I’ll get it, after I greet Katie. You stay here and talk.”

“Danki, cousin”—Abram hoped the girls wouldn’t pick up on his sarcastic tone—“but I’ll get the jug myself.”

***

“May I borrow a pair of tongs?” Katie asked Lizzie Graber. “I need to mix up the taco salad I brought.”

“Of course.” Lizzie slid a pan of brownies into the oven and then retrieved the utensil from a drawer.

“Danki.”

Lizzie opened the refrigerator, took out a can of 7-Up, and popped the top. “I need to go check on Emily. She isn’t feeling well.”  She poured the fizzy liquid into a glass.

“Sorry to hear that.” She liked Micah’s little sister.

“When the brownies are done, would you take them out, please?”

“Jah.”

“Danki.” Lizzie left the room.

Katie looked around. Maybe she could find some other way to assist. Helping would give her an excuse not to socialize. An alternative to standing beside the barn, ignored.

At this point of her life, she was part of the scenery, the part no one looked at. Patsy said it was because she was too quiet. Because she wouldn’t cross the room to talk to any of the buwe; she waited for them to kum talk to her. And they wouldn’t. They had enough girls willing to chase them that they didn’t need to pursue the quiet ones.

If that was the case, she’d be alone forever. A painful thought.

But her best friend, Janna, had said that if a bu really liked her, it would be obvious, because he’d be hanging around. Janna should know. Her beau, Troy Troyer, hung around her plenty, and he’d even started baptism classes, so he could join the church—for her.

Abram’s handsome face flashed in her mind. His heart-stopping grin. His easy confidence.

Nein. She wouldn’t think of this—of him. It meant nothing. He was in Patsy’s sights.

Katie opened her cooler and lifted out the salad bowl and a big bag of Fritos. She always waited to add the chips so that they wouldn’t get soggy before the salad was served.

Katie set the bowl down on the table and tugged on the top of the Frito bag to open it. A warm breath tickled her ear. Abram? Her heart jumped, and her hands jerked in opposite directions, ripping the bag and sending Fritos high in the air. A few of the chips landed where they were supposed to, in the taco salad, but most of them now decorated the floor and the savory dishes nearby, including the egg salad sandwiches Patsy always brought.

Katie’s face burned. She spun around, the almost-empty bag clasped in her hands.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Micah said. He stood too close. Why couldn’t it have been Abram breathing in her ear? Admittedly, the end result would’ve been the same.

A chatter of voices neared outside, and feet tromped on the porch. The latch clicked on the door, and the hinges squeaked. Katie resisted the urge to run from the room. It seemed everyone was coming inside to witness her humiliation. Abram entered, followed by Patsy and Mandy and a dozen or so others. Everyone looked at her.

“I was hoping you’d be here,” Micah continued.

There was someone who’d wanted to see her? Some member of the male species? Katie stared at him in shock.

Patsy came over to the table and started picking Fritos off of her sandwiches. The hard kick to the shin she gave Katie was all it took to find her voice.

“Ach, I scare easy. It’s okay, really.”

She had spoken to a bu. Using multisyllabic words. Would miracles never cease?

Patsy shook her head, evidently disappointed in her attempt at conversation. If only she would step in and speak on her behalf. But nein luck. With another shake of her head, Patsy dumped the Fritos in the trash and joined the group of females huddled around Abram. His harem.

Katie frowned. She didn’t want to compete with so many for the minute possibility of a relationship with a man. Maybe it’d be better to find someone steady who paid attention to her alone. She glanced at Micah. He stared at her as if she’d sprouted antlers. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted.

“Janna told me you’re shy. She told me not to give up on you. I’d like to get to know you better. Are you seeing someone?” He lowered his voice. “Maybe I could give you a ride home today. We could stop for a milkshake.”

A milkshake? Was he kidding? Katie glanced at the table, laden with the usual assortment of cookies and fried pies. Brownies still baked in the oven. With all these treats, who in his right mind would offer that incentive?

He hadn’t given her a chance to answer the courting question before asking her out. Maybe he figured that someone as tongue-tied as she couldn’t possibly have a beau.

Still, Katie didn’t know how to answer his questions. Would it be easier to talk just one-on-one? Daed would encourage her to accept a ride from him. If that meant downing a milkshake, too, then so be it. She swallowed. “A milkshake sounds gut.”

He grinned. “I’ll look for you afterward. Sorry about your chips. I hope I didn’t ruin your”—he glanced at the bowl—“salad.”  He turned away and started talking to Natalie Wagler. At least she could carry on her side of the conversation.

Katie frowned. Were there books available for this disorder? She needed to check at the library. See if they had a section called “Basic Communication with the Opposite Sex.”

A buggy ride with a man who wasn’t Daed…. Sighing, she glanced at Abram. His attention seemed to be focused on Patsy, whose hand rested on his upper arm. Katie swallowed and turned away. Micah wasn’t the Mr. Right of her imagination. But maybe he was the Mr. Right of her reality.

Her very first date. Excitement washed over her.

Maybe her life was about to change.

The Icing on the Cake by Janice Thompson from Revell

The Icing on the Cake

by Janice Thompson

Scarlet isn’t sure if she has just the right ingredients for true love–or utter disaster

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Scarlet Lindsey is busy making her dreams come true. She’s moved her bakery to a prime spot on Galveston’s most popular street, she’s planning an extravagant cake for her best friend’s wedding, and she has a great relationship with Bella Neeley, the island’s most popular wedding coordinator. Business is booming and Scarlet is enjoying the ride.

But when Bella’s dangerously handsome brother Armando breezes into her life, Scarlet is faced with a sticky situation. Should she stay with the safe, sweet guy who’s been a fixture in her life for years? Or will this brash Italian hunk melt her guarded heart?

Fan favorite Janice Thompson is back with more wit, more weddings, and more of what you love best–bridal-business drama laced with laughs.

“Not only does Janice Thompson know how to spin a delightful tale, she knows weddings and wedding cakes. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, take a big bite of this sweet, romantic story. It will leave you laughing and looking for the nearest confectionary!”–Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of Firefly Island and The Prayer Box

“Janice Thompson has done it again! From characters that will jump right off the page and into your heart to a story that had me laughing even as I cheered them on, The Icing on the Cake is a sweet treat. I urge you to indulge–you won’t be sorry!”–Kathleen Y’Barbo, bestselling author of The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series

For more information visit http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-icing-on-the-cake/339990

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

The Icing on the Cake by Janice Thompson was a really fun and entertaining book to read. The characters are just out of this world good, just as they were in the first book in this series. Scarlet was excited that she finally has her own bakery, but sometimes things do not run as smoothly as she wants, especially with her aunt, when puts some spice to the story. I also appreciated that Ms. Thompson has Scarlet face difficult personal issues that we all face at one time or another, because it makes the story seem so realistic. I have only read a few books by Janice Thompson, but I really enjoyed them all, and I always enjoy visiting characters from other books and series. The story just keeps going on and on, and these are characters that I would love to just keep reading about. I can’t want for Book Three in this series, I know it will by another winner my Ms. Thompson.

“Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from the publisher Revell to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

*******************

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect. She lives in Texas. Visit http://www.janiceathompson.com for more.


Endorsements

“Not only does Janice Thompson know how to spin a delightful tale, she knows weddings and wedding cakes. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, take a big bite of this sweet, romantic story. It will leave you laughing and looking for the nearest confectionary!”

Lisa Wingate, national bestselling author of Firefly Island and The Prayer Box

“Janice Thompson has done it again! From characters that will jump right off the page and into your heart to a story that had me laughing even as I cheered them on, The Icing on the Cake is a sweet treat. I urge you to indulge–you won’t be sorry!”

Kathleen Y’Barbo, bestselling author of The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series


THE AUTHOR

  1. Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the…

Continue reading about Janice Thompson

CFBA presents Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Into the Whirlwind

Baker Publishing Group (August 15, 2013)

by

Elizabeth CamdenABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After her father’s death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I love Elizabeth Camden books and Into the Whirlwind was another awesome historical story from this wonderful author! I really enjoy how she makes history come alive within the pages of her book, just as she did in Mollie and Zack’s story. Mollie lost everything in the great Chicago fire of 1871, and the descriptions of the fire, firefighters, and everything that was involved was amazing and so very interesting. I was so into the story I felt like I was living the story right along with the characters, and especially Molly. She is such an amazing young lady, and I hurt with her as she struggles with losing everything that reminded her of her father. And the tension and struggles between Mollie and Zack kept me reading faithfully until the very last word!

If you enjoy historical fiction, this is one you do not want to miss!  I received this book from the publisher Bethany House and CFBA to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Into the Whirlwind, go HERE.

Litfuse Presents…….On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin

Book Info
About On Distant Shores:Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace—and a love that remains true.Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie’s cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they’ve made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.

Purchase a Copy: http://ow.ly/nIVWC

 

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

On Distant Shores is one of those books that you don’t want to end. Georgie and Hutch both had a fiancé back home, but they decided they could be friends. And that friendship brings out the attraction between the two of them. I was definitely different reading a story where both main characters have someone they love back home. But Sarah Sundin pulls if off and writes a story that will stay with you for a long while!

 

I absolutely loved reading On Distant Shores. Anyone who loves World War II fiction would love this one as well! The historical information about the War era was amazing. Everything is so detailed, so vividly described that I have a clear insight about what the people in that era in history went through, and how they lived. And in a time of war, fighting and death, it was comforting to read about the romances that did happen during that time.  Sarah Sundin is truly the Queen of World War II historical romance fiction. If you enjoy historical fiction, and WWII stories, you will love this one too!

 

I received this book from Litfuse to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

 

 

Meet Sarah: Sarah Sundin is the author of “With Every Letter” and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A “Memory Between Us” was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers…..presented by Blogging for Books!

Redeeming Love

by Francine Rivers

RL 20th_1

ABOUT REDEEMING LOVE

Can God’s Love Save Anyone? 
California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.  A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love. Over 1 million copie sold!

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I am so very happy to be writing a review on the 20th Anniversary of this book.  Of all the books I’ve ever read, Redeeming Love is my all time favorite! And I have read hundreds upon hundreds of books! The first time I read it, it was in one setting, and then I started over and read it again, it is just that good. I love how Francine Rivers takes the story of Hosea and Gomer, places the characters in a historical setting, and tells a story that is so realistic. After reading the book of Hosea, reading Redeeming Love brings Hosea and Gomer’s story to live in a new a refreshing way.

I very highly recommend this book to everyone! And I sure hope you love and enjoy it as much as I did!

I received this book from the publisher Waterbrook through their Blogging For Books review program to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

ABOUT FRANCINE RIVERS

francine-treeFrancine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith.  First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction and continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles; it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published more than 20 novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe.  Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent.  In 1997, after winning her third RITA award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. In 2007, the feature-length film version of her novel The Last Sin Eater was released in theaters by Fox Faith. In March 2010, Francine officially became a New York Timesbestselling author, when Her Mother’s Hope debuted at #12 on the hardcover fiction bestsellers lists. The sequel, Her Daughter’s Dream, debuted at #12 on the same list just 6 months later, in September, 2010.  Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their five grandchildren.  She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

CFBA Presents…..The Lost Medallion…by Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Lost Medallion

B&H Kids; Mti edition (June 1, 2013)

by

Bill Muir and Alex KendrickABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Bill Muir is a popular speaker, an international award winning film maker and a sought-after consultant.

Having completed his new novels The Lost Medallion and A Hidden Treasure, Bill has turned his creativity to his new Children’s novel, Howdy Neighbors.

When Bill isn’t writing a novel, he’s busy directing and producing movies. He recently spent four months in Thailand filming, The Lost Medallion: the adventures of Billy Stone. The movie will be in theaters this fall. When he isn’t working on movies, he’s having fun with his family working their farm.

Alex Kendrick is associate pastor of movie outreach for Sherwood Baptist Church. He is also an actor, writer, and director whose film credits include Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. He and his wife, Christina, have six children.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Archaeologist Dr. Michael Stone looked for the lost medallion his entire life, and now his son Billy has taken up the search. Amazingly, the medallion ends up in Billy’s hands and a spontaneous wish in a precarious situation takes Billy and his best friend Allie, back 200 years to what they realize is a very different Aumakua Island.

When Billy and his friends are not jumping off waterfalls, avoiding animal traps, crossing the ocean, sneaking through caves or escaping a prison they’re facing their nemesis Cobra, who wants nothing more than for them all to disappear.

With no other way to get home, and the well being of the entire island resting on his shoulders, Billy must discover the key to reclaiming the medallion and its tremendous power. One way or another, this adventure will change Billy, and life on the island, forever.

Best-selling author and film director Alex Kendrick (The Love Dare, Courageous) and Youth for Christ veteran Bill Muir bring us this exciting novelization of The Lost Medallion movie.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lost Medallion, go HERE.

TALON BY RONIE KENDIG……. FROM BARBOUR BOOKS

TALON 

Combat Tracking Team (A Breed Apart)

BY RONIE KENDIG

FROM BARBOUR BOOKS

talon

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Aspen Courtland is out to find her missing brother. Only his combat tracking dog, Talon, knows where to look. Problem is, after a brutal attack that separated dog and handler, Talon’s afraid of his own shadow. The search is on, but when one mistake means disaster, can Talon muster the courage for one last mission?

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

After reading Trinity, I was anxious to read another book from Ronie Kendig. Aspen needed the help of combat tracking dog, Talon, but is he really up to the challenge? Ms. Kendig gives her readers another fast pace thriller with plenty of action that will keep you reading until the book is finished. I read Talon in a day, but the story stayed with me long after I finished reading. I really liked Aspen and her determination to find her brother made her even more likable. Along with Aspen’s search for her brother, there is a lot more issues weaved throughout the story that the author deals with so perfectly well with. But most of all, I loved Talon because his story is so amazing and entertaining I just wanted to keep reading more and more about him.

I love the way Ronie Kendig writes her dynamite action packed thrillers and adds the romantic tension that glues you to the pages. This is why I keep coming back for more of Roni’s fantastic fiction. If you’ve never read any of her books, you are missing a real treat! I encourage you to pick up a copy of Talon for hours of thrilling entertainment. And don’t forget to read Trinity while you are reading about these amazing dogs!

I received this book from the publisher Barbour Books to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

ABOUT RONI KENDIG

Ronie Kendig

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and two dogs in northern Virginia. Author and speaker, she loves engaging people through her Rapid-Fire Fiction. Ronie can be found atwww.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig), and GoodReads.

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong from Revell Publishing

Welcome to Last Chance 

by Cathleen Armstrong 

9780800722463

 

About

She’s learned you can’t count on anyone–but she didn’t count on landing in Last Chance.

The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life–especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

“With equal parts hope, charm, and tender faith, Cathleen Armstrong spins a tale as warm and welcoming as a roadside café on a dusty highway. Exit from the fast lane and visit Last Chance. It’s a place you won’t soon forget.”–Lisa Wingate, bestselling and award-winning author of Firefly Islandand Blue Moon Bay

“With an eclectic cast of characters and well-developed plot, Welcome to Last Chance pulls the reader in from the first blink of the warning light on the dashboard of Lainie’s car.”–Beth K. Vogt, author of Catch a Falling Star and Wish You Were Here

“An outstanding debut novel! Welcome to Last Chance gives us a warm but never sentimental view of small-town life, sprinkled with characters full of quirks and faults–all seen through the eyes of a tough but fragile heroine. Cathleen Armstrong has crafted a story to cherish.”–Sarah Sundin, award-winning author of With Every Letter

“A wonderful debut novel . . . . Readers will enjoy the simplicity of Welcome to Last Chance and the complexity of Lainie’s character.”–New York Journal of Books

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico, where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. Her debut novel, Welcome to Last Chance, has already won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction.

 

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MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Coming tomorrow

“Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

 I received this book from the publisher Revell to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

 

 

 


Endorsements

“With equal parts hope, charm, and tender faith, Cathleen Armstrong spins a tale as warm and welcoming as a roadside cafe on a dusty highway. Exit from the fast lane and visit Last Chance. It’s a place you won’t soon forget.”

Lisa Wingate, bestselling and award-winning author of Firefly Island and Blue Moon Bay

“Cathleen Armstrong packs a lot into her debut novel: the suspense of danger lurking on the edges of Lainie Davis’s life, a touch of can-this-really-go-anywhere romance, small-town friendships becoming like family, and the disappointment of family being less than ideal. With an eclectic cast of characters and well-developed plot, Welcome to Last Chance pulls the reader in from the first blink of the warning light on the dashboard of Lainie’s car to the happily-ever-after waiting at the end of her last chance to get her life right.”

Beth K. Vogt, author of Catch a Falling Star and Wish You Were Here

“An outstanding debut novel! Welcome to Last Chance gives us a warm but never sentimental view of small-town life, sprinkled with characters full of quirks and faults–all seen through the eyes of a tough but fragile heroine. Cathleen Armstrong has crafted a story to cherish.”

Sarah Sundin, award-winning author of With Every Letter


THE AUTHOR

  1. Cathleen Armstrong

    Cathleen Armstrong

    Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. After she and Ed…

    Continue reading about Cathleen Armstrong

FIRST WildCard Tours presents Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna M. White

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Roseanna M. White
and the book:
Whispers from the Shadows
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna M. White is the author of several novels, as well as the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, and the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When Gwyneth Fairchild flees London to save her life, she ends up under the care of Thaddeus Lane in Baltimore. Though their hearts turn to each other, Gwyn and Thad are on opposite sides of the War of 1812. What is God’s plan for them when the war is over?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Series: Culper Ring Series (Book 2)

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736951016

ISBN-13: 978-0736951012

MY THOUGHs ON THIS BOOK

Wow,. another wonderful and intriguing historical fiction from Roseanna White. I love the Chesapeake Bay area setting in the early 1800’s. Ms. White does a fantastic job of vividly describing the historical setting, events, and well….just everything historical about this book. I haven’t read a lot of spy stories, so this was different and very entertaining for me! I loved the mysteriousness and sneaking around of the spys, and was in awe of the sacrifice these people would go through for their country. Looking forward to the next installment in this Culper spy ring series.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

London, EnglandApril 1814The servants hefting her trunks onto the carriage might as well have been loading her coffin. Gwyneth Fairchild pulled her pelisse close and gazed across Hanover Square with a sick feeling in her stomach. Surely she would awaken from this nightmare and walk down to the breakfast room to find Papa smiling at her. He would speak and say something that actually made sense.

Not like yesterday.

She shut her eyes against the image of all that was familiar, all that she might never see again. What if the Scribe went down? Was attacked by a renegade French ship or those dreadful American pirates? What if, assuming she made it to Annapolis, they killed her the moment she stepped ashore?

Annapolis. Had Papa not looked so sorrowful, so determined when he said that word yesterday, she would have thought he had gone mad.

His hand settled on her shoulder now, warm and large. Those hands had steadied her all her life. Capable, that was what General Isaac Fairchild had always been. Capable and steady and so very noble. All that was worthy of love and respect. So surely she could trust him now when logic and reason said she couldn’t.

“I know it makes little sense to you, dear heart.” He touched her chin, a silent bid for her to look at him. She found his eyes gleaming with moisture he would never shed. Not when anyone could see him, though she had heard his heartrending sobs when Mama died last fall. “I wish there were another way, but there is not.”

Another way for what? He hadn’t said, wouldn’t say. Gwyneth drew in a tremulous breath and tried to stand tall and proud, the way Mama had taught her, the way Papa himself had instilled. To convey with her posture that she was the great-granddaughter of a duke, the granddaughter of two earls, the daughter of a general.

A daughter sent into exile for no apparent reason. Separated from all those she loved, the only people left in the world who mattered. “Papa—”

“I know.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I do. But I cannot entrust you to anyone but the Lanes.”

A light mist descended, heavier than fog but too tame to be called rain. At this moment, a thunderstorm would have better matched her confusion. “Please tell me what is happening. Why must you entrust me to anyone? And if you must, why not Aunt Poole or Aunt Gates?”

His jaw moved for a moment but no words came. Nay, he simply looked past her, his eyes searching for something unseen. Then he sighed. “The Lanes will welcome you and take care of you, Gwyn. I will follow as quickly as I can. A month at the outside. No more.”

Exactly what he said yesterday too. He would give no explanation as to why he was sending her to a nation with whom they were at war, across the Atlantic to a family she had met only once, when she was but a tot.

“Papa, your words hint at danger, but what could threaten me here more than the sea and its pirates? The French, the Americans?”

“The French ought to pose no threat now that we’ve subdued them.” He reached inside his coat of blazing red and pulled out an envelope. “In all likelihood your ship will reach harbor safely, but if by chance you do encounter American privateers, offer them this.”

She frowned as she took the envelope. It was too thin to contain anything but a single sheet of paper. “What—”

“Trust me. ’Twill suffice.” Chatter from the house grew louder, and Papa looked away again, to the nearing housekeeper and gardener. “There are the Wesleys. Time to go.”

A million arguments sprang to her tongue. She didn’t want to leave. Not her home, not him, not all she held dear. Not her first Season, the one that had been put off because of Mama’s illness last year. Not her friends.

And what about Sir Arthur? She hadn’t even spoken to him to tell him she was leaving, hadn’t dared send a note. “Papa, Sir Arthur…”

“It isn’t to be, Gwyn, not now. Perhaps when this has passed, when it is safe for you to return.”

Tears burned, begging to be set loose, but she clenched her teeth and blinked. How had it come to this? Promise had finally shone its light again. Shopping with Aunt Gates had made it feel as though Mama were with her still. Making the rounds with her friends had finally distracted her from the loss. Getting vouchers for Almack’s, and then Sir Arthur’s court—she had, at long last, looked forward to the future.

“Please don’t cry, dear heart.” Papa thumbed away a wily tear that escaped her blockade and kissed her forehead again. “Up with you, now. You must be at the docks soon.”

Instead, she surged forward and wrapped her arms around him. “I don’t want to leave you, Papa. I can’t. Don’t make me go. Or come with me.”

He held her close. “Would that I could. Would that I didn’t have to bid goodbye, yet again, to the one who matters most.” He gave her another squeeze, another kiss, and then he set her back. His eyes were rimmed with red. “I love you, Gwyneth. Go with God.”

He let her go and pivoted on his heel, all but charging back into the house. She almost wished she could resent him, but how could she, seeing his struggle? Whatever his reasons, they must be valid.

And whatever his reasons, they must be dire. A shiver coursed up her spine and made the mist seem colder. Isaac Fairchild was a respected general, a man loved by all. A man of considerable sway in London and beyond. If there were something frightening enough that he must send her away, was planning on leaving himself—

And for America, no less. Would he be going there to take command of troops? Possibly. Though why would he be secretive about it? But then, there was much about Papa’s work he could not discuss. Secrets, always secrets.

“All’s secure, Miss Fairchild,” the driver called down from the bench.

She slipped the envelope into her reticule and took a step toward the Wesleys. They, at least, would provide familiar faces for the journey. They would be an anchor on the foreign seas.

Quick hoofbeats snagged her attention. “Miss Fairchild!”

Her eyes went wide when she saw the dashing figure astride the horse. Sir Arthur reined to a halt beside the carriage and leaped down, fervor ablaze in his eyes.

“Miss Fairchild.” He gripped her hands as he searched her face with his gaze. He had the loveliest brown eyes, so warm and beckoning, the perfect fit to his straight nose and sculpted mouth. “Is it true, then? Broffield just told me that Miss Gregory said you were leaving Town.”

“I…” He was holding her hands. Sir Arthur Hart, Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick, presumed heir to a viscountcy, the most sought-after bachelor in England, grasped her fingers as if he never intended to let go. The mass of confusion inside twisted. “Yes, it is true. My father…”

He eased closer, his gaze so compelling she feared she might drown in it. “Something to do with military business, then? You will return soon?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think Papa knows.”

“Dear Miss Fairchild. Gwyneth.” His fingers tightened around hers, much like the band around her chest. Never before had he spoken her given name. Hearing it in his rich tenor, spoken with such affection, made her fear her tears would overcome her after all. “Why must you go with him? Can you not stay here with your aunt?”

Her attempt at swallowing got stuck in her throat. “I am all Papa has now since my mother passed away, and he is loath to be separated.” True, so true. Why, then, was he sending her an ocean away to a hostile land?

“But surely there is a way to convince him. What if…” He paused and then swallowed before using their joined hands to pull her closer. “What if you were betrothed?”

Her heart quickened inside her, beating a desperate tattoo against her ribs. Would that change anything? Could it? “I…don’t know.”

“Gwyneth.” Oh, he made her name into music. The breeze toyed with his honey-colored hair under the brim of his hat, making her itch to touch the curls. “My darling, I have such a love and admiration for you. If you would feel inclined toward accepting my hand, I will speak with your father this very moment.”

At first all she could think was He proposed! Then she drew in a quick breath and nodded with too much enthusiasm. “Of course I am inclined if he agrees. Only…” She drew away when he moved closer still, recalling Papa’s discomposure mere minutes before. “Let me speak with him first, as he was out of countenance.”

“Certainly. Yes. Anything.” He laughed and raised her hands to kiss her knuckles. As if surprised she had said yes. “I will take a turn through your garden to try to calm myself.”

“Perfect.” If only she could be sure Papa would agree. If only she could be sure that, if not, Sir Arthur would wait for her. She pulled away, but he snagged her hand again.

“Gwyneth. Darling.” He smiled, so bright and handsome it made her doubt trouble could exist. “I will make you very happy.”

A smile stole onto her lips. It melted away again in a moment, but he had turned toward the garden by then.

Mrs. Wesley snagged her attention with a shooing motion toward the door. “You had better hurry, love. If the general does not change his mind, we must hasten on our way.”

Gwyneth flew through the mist up the steps to the door and back into the house. For a moment she paused to breathe in home, but she hadn’t time to savor it. If her mission went well, she needn’t say goodbye to it at all.

Please, Lord. Please let him relent.

She sped down the hallway and around the corner toward Papa’s study. He always ended up there, either busy at work or staring at the picture of Mama she’d painted for him. A professional portrait hung in the drawing room, but he said she had done the better job. Praise which always made her heart expand.

The study door was before her by the time she realized voices spilled out. Two of them—though when had anyone else arrived? Surely no servant would dare speak over Papa like this.

“Isaac, listen to yourself!”

Gwyneth froze a step from the door. It was open a crack, letting her look in, though only the corner of the desk was visible, and just behind it, where Papa stood. But she recognized Uncle Gates’s voice.

“‘Isaac’ now, is it?” Papa’s laugh sounded dry. “Odd how you only remember our familial ties when we disagree. Otherwise it is always my rank to which you appeal.”

A loud bang made Gwyneth jump. Uncle’s fist connecting with wood, perhaps? “Blast it, Fairchild, it’s your rank you are abusing!”

“No! ’Tis my rank I honor. Someone, Gates, must do what is right. Someone must stand for justice rather than—”

“Hang all that noble rot.” A nasty curse spilled from Uncle Gates’s lips as glass shattered. Gwyneth recoiled, staring in horror at the sliver of room. What keepsake had he destroyed? The vase Mama had chosen two years ago? The small porcelain figure Gwyneth had given Papa for his birthday when she was fifteen? Something precious, for only the most special pieces gained a place of honor on Papa’s shelves.

And why? Why would Mama’s own brother do such a thing?

He sent something else toppling. “You are undermining years of careful work! The Home Office—”

“The Home Office, you say?” Papa leaned forward onto his desk, a look of deathly calm upon his face. “Nay. The Home Office has decent men in it yet. A few, at least, though you are not one of them. This evil must be stopped, Gates. You must be stopped.”

There came a shuffling sound, one Gwyneth couldn’t comprehend but which made Papa snap upright. Made him lift his hands, palms out, and make a placating motion. “Gates—”

“I am through reasoning with you, Fairchild. Tell me where they are. Now.”

One of Papa’s hands lowered toward his desk drawer, but another shuffle made him pause. “I am only—”

“You think me so great a fool? I already removed that, dear brother.” More curses exploded from Uncle Gates. Closer now, as though he were rounding the desk, just out of her view. “Tell me where they are!”

Papa’s sharp inhalation was clearly audible. “Gone.”

“Gone? Gone? What do you mean, gone?”

“Just that. Out of my hands and on their way to those who can put a stop to this before you destroy two nations in the name of avarice.”

A cry tore through the room, guttural and animalistic. Light flashed on something metallic as her uncle charged into view, the gleaming length held before him. Still, she had no idea what he wielded until she saw the silver stained red.

She pressed her hands to her mouth to hold back the scream, hold back the horror, but it didn’t help. Uncle still hissed words of hatred. Papa still staggered back, away from the blade. Then he crumpled and fell.

Gates followed him down, muttering, “You couldn’t have, not yet. You must have it.” His hands shoved into Papa’s jacket and searched.

Papa, fight back! But he didn’t. He gasped, seemed to struggle for a moment, and then went lax. No. No, no, no, no, no!

Did she bleed too? She must. She couldn’t move, couldn’t make a sound, couldn’t be. Not anymore.

When Papa’s head lolled to the side, he blinked and his gaze focused on her. There was life yet in those familiar depths, but it flickered. Sputtered. “Gwyneth.”

She didn’t hear it. She just saw the movement of his lips. But her uncle, tossing Papa’s case of calling cards into the wall, snarled. “Now you worry about your darling daughter? Oh, have no fear, Fairchild. Dear Uncle Gates will take care of our precious girl.”

Bile burned her throat.

Papa blinked again as he tried to pull in a breath that choked him. Again his gaze sharpened, caught hers. This time when his lips moved, he made no sound whatsoever. Run!

Then it was gone, all the light in his eyes. Extinguished like a flame left before an open window.

And she ran. She turned on silent slippers and fled back around the corner and down the hall. Out the doors and straight into the waiting carriage.

“Gwyneth? Miss Fairchild?”

All she noted of the voice was that it wasn’t Uncle Gates’s. Nothing

else mattered. Seeing that the Wesleys were already seated, their eyes now wide, Gwyneth pulled the door shut herself. “Go!”

An eternal second later, the driver’s “Yah!” reached her ears, and the carriage jolted forward.

When she closed her eyes, all she could see was darkness yawning before her.

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