CFBA Presents The Nurse’s Secret Suitor by Cheryl Wyatt

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Nurse’s Secret Suitor

Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)



Not even Cheryl Wyatt’s closest friends would dream that this sweet, shy intercessor plots mayhem during announcements at church. She is a Registered Nurse turned stay-at-home-mom, wife and writer who loves Jesus with all of her heart.

Joyful chaos rules her home, and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She is convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentines Day destined her to write Inspirational Military Romance.

Cheryl loves to laugh and to make others laugh, so she often plans comedic moments for her defenseless characters in spite of their grumbling. She says it’s payback for when they refuse to obey the plots she’s set out before them.

Prior to publication, six of Cheryl’s manuscripts placed in ten RWA Contests. Two of Cheryl’s stories also placed First in ACFW’s Noble Theme Contest 2005 (Contemporary Romance Category), as well as ACFW‘s Genesis Contest 2006 (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Category).

She currently writes for Love Inspired. Her Wings of Refuge Series, about a team of USAF Pararescue Jumpers and the ladies who capture their hearts, can be purchased anywhere books are sold.


A Strong-Willed Heart
Trauma nurse Kate Dalton can handle any challenge—except love. The combat veteran dreams of settling down, but heartbreak is one risk she won’t take. Then a chance encounter opens her heart to a masked stranger…who might not be a stranger after all! Caleb Landis, the army medic behind the disguise, has always admired Kate, even though she only saw him as her best friend’s brother. What will it take for Kate to discard her fears and discover the man she’s always hoped to unmask?
Eagle Point Emergency: Saving lives—and losing their hearts— in a small Illinois town

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Nurse’s Secret Suitor, go HERE.

My Thoughts On This Book

Caleb Landis was a real romantic, that is when he is posing as the bandit. This is a really sweet, heartwarming story about nurse Kate Dalton and her mystery bandit. It was fun reading about the secret gifts and letters Kate was getting from her bandit, and the joy it brought to her life. Caleb didn’t want to commit to Kate because he was only home from military for a few months. So, the bandit was the best way for Caleb to do nice things for Kate.

Caleb and Kate knew each other because Caleb’s sister was Kate’s best friend, so they did see each other, and spent good bit of time with each other.  So they actually had an attraction for each other, Kate not knowing Caleb was the bandit. The story was humorous at times, because of Caleb living a split life. I really enjoyed this story, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a really good, heartwarming romance. You will not be disappointed!

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.

Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

The path to true love lies somewhere between two feuding families

9781441244536 In the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburgh only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don’t seem to want her to stay. Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.

But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line. Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan–particularly the handsome Jack Turlock–she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future. Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?

Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love and loyalty. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

“Frantz’s in-depth historical research combines with her fascinating characters to create a gripping romance that kept me turning pages late into the night. I highly recommend Love’s Awakening. It is a rare find.”–Serena B. Miller, RITA Award-winning author of The Measure of Katie Calloway

For more information, please visit


Laura Frantz is one of the reasons I love historical fiction. I really liked Jack Turlock, even thought his was the not so perfect life and Ellie Ballantyne because she was just a typical young lady, and the two make a great couple. I enjoyed watching their characters develop throughout the story, and the tensions and twists and turns in their relationship with their parents is enough to keep your nose in the book reading till the very last page! The vivid details of the history in her books makes you want to come back for more by Laura France. I love how she makes each scene come to life on the pages before your eyes. It takes special talent to do that! I can’t wait for the next book in The Ballantyne Legacy Series to come out!

Love’s Awakening is a must if you enjoy historical fiction. You will find hours of entertainment reading this book!

“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.


Laura Frantz

Laura Frantz

Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman’s DaughterCourting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance presents……Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Made to Last 

Bethany House Publishers (September 15, 2013) 



A Word From The Author:

I’m a former reporter turned author who loves all things funny and romancey. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to my nonprofit day job, I’m also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists.

It all started when my dad, at the ripe old age of sixteen, picked up my mom up for their first date. She was thirteen. Thirteen!* Dad drove a cherry red car up the lane to my grandparents big ol’ green house and honked his horn…whereupon Mom jumped out of the apple tree she’d been waiting in and off they went…fishing. True story. (I’d give more details, but I’m saving it for a novella I plan to entitle Two Leaves. Mom, I really hope you read this.)

Four years of college, a few trips abroad and a stint as a reporter later, that dream is soon to be a reality. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, is now out from Bethany House. Book two, Here to Stay, comes out on May 1, 2014.

In between writing and staring out the window brainstorming, I also work as a grant-writer at one of Iowa’s largest private nonprofits and serve as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists founded by Susan May Warren.

And I love, love, love talking about finding our purpose and identity in Christ. (And well, okay, food, old movies, boots and scarves, my awesome nephew Ollie, and, fine, Tim Tebow, too.)


Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that’s how it looks when she’s starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she’ll do anything to boost ratings and save her show–even if it means pretending to be married to a man who’s definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda’s every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth–and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she’s built come crashing down just as she’s found a love to last?

If you’d like to read the first chapter of Made to Last, go HERE.




Wow what an awesome debut book! I love, love this one from Melissa Tagg. Ms. Tagg will sure be an author I will keep on my list from now on. Made to Last starts out with lies and deception from Miranda with her TV show, and just kept on going. The author does a wonderful job of keeping your attention, you will sure not want to put this book down for long! The characters are realistic, and the story is one that sounds like an everyday story of someone who may be in the TV business! Going after the big numbers with the high ratings! Thats what it is all about, or is it?

This is a book you will sure want at the top of your reading list! It is enjoyable and entertaining, and just a down right awesome book to read! I encourage you to pick up your copy today for a blast of reading fun!

I received this book from CFBA and Bethany House 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 Dora Hiers and When Truth Whispers

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:
Dora Hiers
and the book:
When Truth Whispers
Pelican Ventures Book Group-White Rose Publishing (March 14, 2013)
***Special thanks to Dora Hiers for sending me a review copy.***

After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son didn’t want her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing Heart Racing, God-Gracing romance. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers. Dora and her husband, her real life hero, make their home in North Carolina.

When Dora isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, family gatherings, and mountain cabin getaways. She despises traffic, bad coffee, technological meltdowns, and a sad ending to a book. Her books always end with a happily-ever-after!

Readers can connect with Dora:

Website –

Email – Dora(at)DoraHiers(dot)com

Blogs – &

Facebook –

Twitter –

Pinterest –


After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer’s block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver.

Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal’s heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is—a man of faith and devotion, a man who would cherish her for the rest of her days—or will she lump him into the same category as all the other men in her life, including her father?

Will Teal recognize when truth whispers her name?

Product Details:

List Price: $3.99

File Size: 276 KB

Print Length: 126 pages

Publisher: Pelican Ventures Book Group-White Rose Publishing (March 14, 2013)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English


Text-to-Speech: Enabled

X-Ray: Not Enabled

Lending: Enabled


I thoroughly enjoyed this book by author  Dora Hiers. Promise Lake was a small community and I really loved the homey feeling of the setting. Teal Benning seemed to like it back in her home town as well, as well as enjoying her childhood best friend Hunter. Hunter always wanted to be more than friends with Teal, but he just seemed to be the one to pick her back up from all of the broken relationships, due to bad choices of men. Would Teal ever see Hunter as more than a friend? This question will keep you reading the book until the very end, When I started reading When Truth Whispers, I didn’t put my Kindle down until I was finished! If you enjoy a good clean heartwarming romance, you will love this book. I encourage you to pick up a copy for your enjoyment today!

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.


“You can stop screaming now, Kibbles. We’re home.”Teal Benning downshifted and coasted into the gravel driveway, the wail of country music drowning the cicadas’ chatter coming through the sports car’s open windows. But the tunes did nothing to tame her cat’s occasional ear-piercing screech.

Home? Not technically, but close enough. She’d grown up in this tiny house tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains around Promise Lake.

For the last five years, home was in Atlanta, where she was Teal Benning, best-selling romance author and pro-basketball superstar Ian Hartsuk’s fiancée.

In Promise Lake, she was just Teal Benning.

Teal sighed and closed the windows. Jerking the keys from the ignition, the silence settled over her, and in the darkness, a glint sparkled from her finger, the remnant of her two-year-long relationship. Teal stared at the single diamond and clamped her lips together.

Correction. Ian Hartsuk’s ex-fiancée.

She tugged off the ring and smashed it deep into her laptop bag.

Why hadn’t she flung it at Ian’s head? She would have relished his expression as he watched several thousand dollars sink to the bottom of the hot tub. Wouldn’t that have been priceless? Nah. What was a few thousand to him? She’d figure out what to do with it later.

Teal stepped out on stiff legs, giving the short black dress a yank south and tugging her sweater tighter. She heaved the laptop bag over a shoulder and reached in for Kibbles’s carrier. Dried leaves crunched under high-heeled sandals as she wobbled around to the back of the car in the loose gravel.

The blackness settled around Teal’s throat like a noose. Her eyes burned, but she refused to give in to self-pity. What had she expected? Ian was no different from any other man she knew. Including her father. Cheating and lying, that was the name of their game.

Teal lifted her chin and pushed back her shoulders. All she needed was three months of disconnecting from the world and the constant paparazzi who hounded her in Atlanta. Without anyone traipsing around after her vying for the most obnoxious camera shot, and with Internet service more off than on, she’d forget all about Ian and the looming wedding date. The wedding that wouldn’t happen.

She had three months to pound out the words to the book that had already eluded her for eight weeks. Ninety days to create a heart-racing romance.

With a broken heart.

Teal clenched her jaw.

One look at the eye-popping price tag on the long white dress hanging in her closet in Atlanta would fix that.

Teal set the cat carrier and laptop bag on the ground and pressed her fingers against the tense muscles along the back of her neck, rolled her shoulders, and stretched. She reached into the trunk for her suitcase.

“Took you forever and a day to get home, Teal.”

Her head jerked up and banged against the trunk lid, breaking the expensive clip holding her hair in an elaborate twist. Hair fell over her eyes, and she lost her hold on the over-stuffed suitcase. It landed with a thud on the cat carrier, the contents spilling out onto the damp ground.

Kibbles screeched and clawed through the opening, then scampered away to cower in the bushes next to the house.

The voice in the darkness sounded deeper, richer, bolder, than she remembered. But comfortable.

And definitely amused.

“Make yourself useful, Hunter, and give a girl a hand.” She didn’t bother turning around, just knelt down and reached for the undies first. She scooped up the bras next and stuffed them in the suitcase pocket.

Yeah, she’d been angry and hurt. But was that an excuse to fling every stitch of clothing she owned into a suitcase for just a three-month stay? It wasn’t as if her mother didn’t own a washer and dryer. Sheesh!

“I’ll get this, Teal. You get that ferocious tiger of a cat.” Heavy footsteps ground into the gravel, and Hunter Miciver squatted next to her.

“Ha! That ferocious tiger weighs about seven pounds. All meow, no bite. Kibbles isn’t used to being outside. She’ll be lurking somewhere near the front door.” She snatched a stray bra off the ground and dangled it behind her back.

Hunter stuffed the rest of the clothes into the case and glanced at her, waiting, holding the lid open.

She rolled her eyes and crammed the bra into the case.

He closed the suitcase and unfolded to his full height, all six feet of him.

She stood, the top of her head reaching Hunter’s neck. Unlike Ian, where she’d barely reached his chest and always felt like such a minuscule person in the midst of his giant friends.

But then, they hadn’t turned out to be her friends, had they? Only Ian’s. Including her best friend, Kate.

Some best friend.

Not Hunter. He was a true friend, a lifelong ally. Had he known, Hunter would have warned her about Ian. Hunter couldn’t lie if his life depended on it.

Teal smiled. “Thanks, Hunter. It’s good to see you.”

A cool breeze caressed her face, along with Hunter’s scent. Different than what she remembered. Distinctly masculine with a hint of…she sniffed. Peppermint?

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re home. Crazy loud feline, and all.” Hunter closed the trunk lid and turned to face her. Even in the darkness, she made out the sympathy in his expression. Lacking his trademark smile and the crease lines around his eyes, both arms opened wide and reached out for her. “I’m sorry, Teal.”

She lifted her chin.

She. Would. Not. Cry.

Not over a jerk like Ian. And not even for two wasted years.

But, Kate? The first friend she’d made in Atlanta?

Teal couldn’t stop the single sob that crawled from the back of her throat. She took a step forward, and Hunter’s arms tightened around her.

She closed her eyes. A hug never felt so warm, so comforting, so…like coming home.

From Hunter Miciver?

Was that because she had known Hunter since elementary school? Hunter and his sister, Kelli, who lived across the street and were the only other kids in their neighborhood, played together after school every day. They spent the summers hanging out at the lake, and winter weekends skiing, tubing, or snowboarding.

Or was it because he acted like her big brother, too? He never complained about tagging along with her and Kelli on their first few dates. Crushing six teenagers into a car made for four didn’t even bug the guy.

Somewhere along their journey, Hunter had evolved into a friend with open arms, always willing to share a hug when her relationships soured and disintegrated.

Which they always did.

But a dear friend was all Hunter would ever be. Not quite marriage material. Or dating for that matter.

Not that she was looking. Because she was definitely not in the market.

She disengaged herself from his arms with a gentle step back. She didn’t want him to get the wrong idea.

A rush of cool air whispered by. She shivered and tugged her sweater tighter, rubbing her hands against the thin material covering her upper arms. “How did you know?”

He leaned against the car and crossed his arms. One brow lifted. “Your breakup is plastered all over the Internet, Teal.”  He made the quotation symbol with his fingers. “Best-selling romance author suffers heartbreak—”

Sheesh! Was it an unspoken rule that the girlfriend was always the last to know her boyfriend was cheating on her?

“OK, Hunter. I get the message.” Teal sucked in a deep, shaky breath, the crisp mountain air soothing her battered spirit a little. “When did you get in?”

“Just drove into the driveway myself. Followed you in. Didn’t you see me behind you?”

No, she hadn’t. She had been…distracted.

By the image of Ian’s teeth nibbling a trail along some brunette’s neck, his hands blazing a different path. And the click before a camera flashed, the exact moment when she realized who the brunette hair belonged to.

Defeat and weariness weighed heavy against Teal’s shoulders. She sighed, sliding a gaze over Hunter, from the baseball cap hanging low over his head, past the black leather jacket and the snug-fitting jeans down to the tennis shoes. “You look great, Hunter. I like the whiskers.”

And the longish, curly hair. Not like his teen, geeky years when he always wore it short. And he had bulked out. He wasn’t so scrawny anymore. Not that she would share that little tidbit with him.

One side of his lips curved at her appraisal, and he hoisted himself away from the car. “Come on. Let’s get your stuff and your screaming cat, inside. Maybe I can talk you into throwing on a pot of coffee. That was a long drive.” Hunter grabbed the handle of her suitcase and heaved the laptop bag over a shoulder.

“Coffee?” She scooped up the cat carrier. “It’s after midnight. It’ll have to be decaf, because I don’t plan on staying awake all night.”

He gave his head a little jerk, the smile crinkles around his eyes more obvious. “Decaf? What’s up with that, Teal? You’re not even in your thirties, and you’re drinking decaf?”

She shrugged and slid the key into the front door. He didn’t need to know that she hadn’t slept a full night since…it didn’t matter. “So, what’s it feel like, Hunter? The big three-oh?”

“Just another blessed day in the big scheme of things, Teally.”

Hunter, ever the eternal optimist.

She understood a little of that now. Thanks to the military chaplain she’d interviewed for her last book. But lately, questions ping-ponged in her brain, growing more agitated the moment her head hit the pillow at night.

She pushed the door open and flipped on the light switch to the great room. Fur rubbed against her ankles as Kibbles darted inside.

“Wow! Your mom made a few changes,” he whispered.

The previous furnishings of worn recliners and a flea market sofa had been replaced with a couple new leather couches. Dark. Rich. Expensive. Definitely not her mom’s usual decorating touch.

Teal stared, gulped. “Yeah. I guess so. That’s what I get for not making it home in a while.”

“Too long, Teal.”

The sadness in his voice made her look at him. Some unreadable emotion lingered around his eyes, compressed his lips.

“Maybe, but how would you know? How many times have you been home in the last year?”

His face cracked into a giant grin. “Probably about as many times as you. But Kelli keeps me up-to-date with any changes on the home front.”

Kelli, Hunter’s twenty-eight-year-old sister was Teal’s childhood best friend, although mostly online now, since about four hours of driving time separated them. “The rat. I should have known.”

With quiet steps he disappeared up the stairs, carrying her suitcase to the bedroom her mother still preserved for her. She set the carrier on the hardwood floor and wandered into the utility room, removing her sweater and hooking it on the rack. Teal retrieved Kibbles’s food and water dish and filled them up, then dumped fresh litter into the box her mother kept for her visits.

Teal slipped back into the kitchen, breathing a quiet sigh that her mother hadn’t redecorated in here.

She flipped the coffeemaker switch as sneakers slapped the wood floor behind her.

“At least your old bed is still in the bedroom.” That voice, so deep and intense, did funny things to her insides. Weird.

Or was she just comparing Hunter’s deep tone to Ian’s voice, which seemed rather whiny in comparison? She frowned. She so didn’t want to go there, to be the kind of person who constantly trashed the ex-fiancée.

Water gurgled through the coffeemaker, the precious aroma quickly filling the small kitchen. She grabbed a couple mugs from the cabinet and automatically added sweetener to hers. Hunter liked his coffee black.

“So what’s going on with you, Hunter? How long will you be home?”

“Until the first week of January.”

She glanced over a shoulder, the coffee decanter hovering just above the mugs.

Hunter had taken off his leather jacket and lounged against the counter, arms crossed, his muscled upper torso filling out that black long-sleeved shirt, oh-so-nicely.

What was wrong with her? She blinked and turned her attention back to the decanter, now dribbling coffee on the countertop. “You can take off work that long?”

“Nah, not really. I’ll get some work done from here, including online meetings. But everybody needs a little downtime, Teal.”

Maybe she should have been a graphic arts designer. Granted, she had the flexibility to work from wherever she chose, but deadlines waited for no writer. Didn’t she know it? She had three months. Until February 17th.

She finished pouring the coffee and handed him the mug. “Where is home now?”

He cleared his throat, adjusted the ball cap lower over his face and mumbled, “Mostly D.C.”

Teal waited for him to elaborate.

“Teal, you’re home. I wasn’t expecting you until next week sometime.” Teal’s mother breezed into the kitchen. She planted a kiss on Teal’s cheek and gave her a one-armed hug, being careful not to spill Teal’s coffee. She did the same with Hunter. “Good to see you, too, Hunter.”

“I’m sorry to wake you, Ramona.”

Teal didn’t flinch at Hunter’s use of her mother’s first name.

Ramona had reverted to her maiden name after her divorce and despised the title “Mrs.” Everybody called her Ramona. Including Teal, most of the time.

“That’s OK, Hunter. I heard talking, and I just wanted to make sure that it was Teal.” Ramona covered a yawn.

That was odd. Who else would be talking in the kitchen in the middle of the night?

Teal narrowed her eyes and stared at her mother.

A new, colorful robe was knotted around her waist. And Ramona’s long hair? Where was it? She wore it now cut short, and angled at the bottom.

Teal’s jaw dropped.

Hunter reached over and propped Teal’s chin up with his thumb, a gentle expression on his face. Pity? Why not? He knew about her breakup and that she never handled changes well.

What a long day. All she wanted was to slink upstairs, curl up in the bed, and bury her head under a pillow. Would she wake up to find this day had been a nightmare?

“Nice hair cut, Ramona.” Teal managed to choke out the words.

And it was. Truly. But why would Ramona cut her hair?

“Thanks, honey. It was time to let my long hair go.”

The furniture. A drastic haircut and a brand new, flashy red robe.

What was next? The kitchen? Teal’s bedroom?

“Want some coffee, Ramona? I just made a pot. Decaf.” Teal sank onto the bar stool in front of the island.

“No. I’m headed back to bed. Is everything OK, honey?”

Teal stiffened. She hadn’t had a chance to break the ugly news. But that conversation would not take place tonight. Teal forced her lips into a smile. “Sure. Why?”

Her mother studied Teal’s short, black party dress. “Well, for one reason, when we spoke on the phone last, you said you were coming home next week.”

Hunter’s brows arched.

Next week. Yes, well, that was before the hot tub incident with Ian and Kate tonight. She sucked in a deep breath and tugged her dress down. She felt naked, exposed, vulnerable.

Hunter stepped so close she caught that whiff of peppermint again. He looped an arm around her shoulder.

She glanced up, surprised at the tenderness shining from his warm eyes.

“Isn’t it wonderful that Teal could work out her schedule to come home early for the holidays? It’s been far too long since we’ve had a chance to hang out. Maybe we can find time to hit the slopes sometime next month.”

Her hero, stepping in to save the day.

Or rather, to shore up the emotional dam that threatened to break. She managed to send a smile of gratitude and caught his wink.

His stomach growled.

All three of them laughed.

Hunter dropped his arm to pat his belly. “Quiet down there.”

“Hunter, I think you’d better feed that hungry bear hiding inside you. I’m sure I have something in this kitchen that you and Teal can scrounge up.” Ramona looked from one to the other, something akin to suspicion mingling with her smile. “All right, then, I’m off to bed. See you in the morning, Teal. Good night, Hunter.”

Well, that conversation was postponed. Thanks to Hunter. Missing the warmth of Hunter’s arm, Teal shivered and rubbed her arms. Why hadn’t she changed into jeans for the trip here? “Sleep well, Mom. See you in a few hours.”

“Good night, Ramona,” Hunter added.

Her mother padded from the room.

Hunter leaned back against the counter, sipping coffee. He’d changed. Grown and filled out. But he was still the same childhood buddy. She smiled.


“Did I tell you it’s good to see you?”

“I missed you, too, Teal.”

“I didn’t say that.” She sputtered, swatting him on the upper arm. Her hand met firm, lean muscle. Stunned, she blinked. A couple times.

“It was implied.” Satisfaction gleamed from his roasted-coffee-colored eyes and curved one side of his lips.

“Would you like something to eat, Hunter? Ramona always has eggs and cereal in the house.”

Hunter pulled a cell phone from his jeans pocket and studied it. His eyes widened, and then his lips thinned. He scrubbed his beard. “I’m sorry, Teal, but I’ve got to run. Um…a client needs something. Will you be OK?”

A client? In the middle of the night?

“If one more person asks if I’ll be OK—”

“Hey. Don’t shoot me. Just checking. You just went through a rough experience, and I haven’t seen you in awhile.” He mashed the phone back in his pocket and drained his coffee, then pushed away from the counter. He rinsed out the cup, eyeing her over his shoulder. “You up for a run in the morning?”

Teal glanced at the kitchen clock. Two a.m. Now that she was away from the public eye, she might be able to catch a few hours of good sleep. “Hunter, I don’t know what world you live in, but it’s morning now.”

That familiar coaxing smile appeared, the one he always used to cajole her into cooperating with his plans. He slid an appreciative glance over her bare legs. “You may be just a tad out of shape, Teal, but you’re not too far gone from our track days. What? Are you afraid I’ll show you up?”

“Out of shape! Show me up?” She snorted and stood up. “Right. Like that’s going to happen.”

“OK, then. How about seven-thirty?”

She didn’t usually work until Saturday afternoons, anyway. And it was just a run, not an all-day event.

“Only if you promise to throw in breakfast, too.” She groaned. How had she let him talk her into this?

One dark brow arched, and he flashed a wicked grin. How did he do it? This cheeriness. At two in the morning.

She wanted to growl.

“It’s a deal, Teally. With at least a gallon of coffee, too. I’ll meet you here.”

“Awful smug, aren’t you? We’ll see if you’re singing the same tune after you’re eating my dust.” She mumbled as she flipped the coffeemaker off and followed Hunter to the front door, her gaze drawn to his bulky shoulders and wide, strong back. Hunter must be on some workout regimen.

“G’night, Hunter. Sweet dreams.”

He glanced over a shoulder, his eyes suddenly dark and unreadable. “Night, Teally. See you in a few hours.”

She closed the door behind him. She was glad Hunter was home. Maybe they could spend some time together, revisit their teen hangouts like the ski slope and the lake.

February 17th. Burn that date in your brain, Teal.

She had three months to finish this book.

She couldn’t afford to let Hunter be a distraction.


Hunter cocked his head, listening for the click of Teal’s deadbolt, and popped a peppermint in his mouth.

Sweet dreams?

Hunter didn’t have time for dreams. He needed to get to his computer. Fast.

And hit the bathroom even faster.

He couldn’t afford to let Teal be a distraction.

For now, anyway. Not when Shale needed him.

He probably shouldn’t have spared the precious minutes to come over to see Teal. But she had surprised him by turning onto their small road ahead of his car.

And here he was. Like a moth drawn irresistibly to the light of her smile.

After all, shouldn’t there be some perk to being in Promise Lake and not halfway across the world?

The real reason he’d returned to this side of the world growled again, disrupting the peaceful night. Pain shot through his gut. He pressed a hand against his stomach.

A distinct click rattled from the other side of the door.

He hustled to the end of the driveway, and then jogged across the street to his parents’ house.

What happened to the operation? He didn’t expect to hear from Shale until sometime tomorrow, er…today. Later today.

“What’s going on, Shale?” he huffed, under his breath.

Hunter stopped to grab his bags from the car then raced inside and up the stairs towards his old bedroom. He set the bags down and hit the bathroom.

When the overseas doctor suggested medical tests, he had said no. What would happen if the doctor found something that required surgery? How would he cope by himself? Here in the states his family could help if surgery was necessary.

Relieved for the moment, he sank into the desk chair, which squeaked, as loud and obnoxious as ever. He booted up the computer and tugged his favorite sports cap off, running a hand through his hair. “Come on. Come on.”

Finally. He tapped at the keys, and while he waited for the program to load, he pulled out his cell phone and texted Shale.

Hunter glanced at the bed next to the desk. He closed his eyes and rubbed them, and then circled his neck to work out some kinks.


Samson, his parents’ ten-year-old golden retriever, ambled into the room and gave him the “What are you doing interrupting my sleep?” dogface.

“Hey, old buddy. How’s it going?” Hunter scratched the dog’s head until Samson plopped down on the rug and huffed.

“I’m with you, buddy.”

With a couple hours of work ahead of him, he would be lucky to catch some sleep before he left to run with Teal.

What would it be like to have a normal job? One where he could be snuggling under that toasty comforter by now. Where operatives or assets situated all over the world weren’t texting him at odd hours of the night. Er, morning.

Or to be married? With a wife to warm his bed, to cozy up to him with a hug at the end of a long day. And a family to come home to, with plenty of kids to help him see that the world wasn’t all bad. To bring the smiles and the laughter back into his day.

God, will Teal ever see me as the right man for her? Not just some jerk who will treat her bad, but the one who will show her what true romance is? With Your help, I would do my best to take care of her, love her, and cherish her for all of my days.

He would give up the job for her. In a second.

But one thing he wouldn’t do.

He refused to be someone she turned to for hugs and comfort when her boyfriends dumped her. Or the other way around.

And what’s the first thing he did tonight when he saw her?

Offered a hug.

Mush ball.

Hunter checked the screen. Time to get clicking.

CFBA presents Raw Edge by Sandra D. Bricker

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Raw Edge 

Abingdon Press (September 17, 2013) 


Sandra D. BrickerABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television’s hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie’s spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

“Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream,” says Bricker, “well, that’s the best of all worlds, as far as I’m concerned!”


Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raw Edge, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Music For Your Heart by Ace Collins……….from Abingdon Press

Music For Your Heart

by Ace Collins



Best-selling author takes you behind the scenes of your favorite songs.Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for days? Something abut its tune or lyrics impacts us and holds our attention. Why? How did the song come to be? Why was it written? And what does the song really mean? In Music for Your Heart, best-selling and award-winning author Ace Collins takes you behind the scenes of your favorite songs to show how the lyrics and music began. Through insider stories, artist bios, and inspiration from Scripture, Collins weaves stirring reflections on our adored and popular classics. Whether the featured song is a holiday carol, children’s worship tune, or love song, each short chapter will inspire curious music enthusiasts as well as those seeking a book for a devotional meditation. Digging deep into the words and history of the music, these uplifting and informative reflections will warm the heart—like the songs themselves.

Songs include: 

Jesus Loves Me
You Are My Sunshine
How Great Thou Art
White Christmas
Amazing Grace
Sweet, Sweet Spirit
Blue Moon
Jingle Bells
You Raise Me Up
Deep and Wide
I Will Always Love You
Moon River



I have always enjoyed knowing the story behind a song, or a fiction book that I read, so I was excited about review this book. And I love Ace Collins! Everything he writes is awesome, whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Music for your Heart is non-fiction, and I really enjoyed reading about all of the songs in this book, I know most of the songs in this book, but most I had never read the story behind so many of them, so it was a special treat to read about songs I have sang for years.  I have played the piano, keyboard and organ for many years, and have also played many of these songs many times, and what a joy it was to sit down and read awhile and sing awhile! This would make a wonderful gift for someone who loves music. I have a musical family, so I will be telling them about this wonderful book by Ace Collins.  There are like 87 songs in this book, so you will sure find a few you will enjoy reading about. Some are church songs, some are just good old time songs, some are newer, but all of them have a special meaning! Pick up your copy today for hours of entertainment and enjoyment! And you will learn a lot too!

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


Ace Collins is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than 60 titles, including The Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Darkness Before Dawn, and Lassie: A Dog’s Life. Ace frequently speaks across the country and on radio and has appeared on national television shows, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Fox and Friends, Entertainment Tonight, The Early Show and more. When not writing, he works as a magazine editor and graphic designer, as well as host for a charity organization radio and television broadcast. Ace and his wife, Kathy, are based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Litfuse presents…….Before the Dawn and Sweet September…by Kathleen…Bauer…WIN…WIN



Before the Dawn and Sweet September

by Kathleen Bauer 

About the books: When the world around you falls apart, could it be that God is giving you a second chance? This is just one of the questions on Charlotte Stevenson’s mind as she brings her three grandchildren to live on the family farm in Guidepost Books’ Home to Heather Creek series.

 Before the Dawn begins just one week after the funeral of Charlotte’s daughter, Denise. Denise’s three children barely have time to process the death of their mother before they must move to the Heather Creek Farm they have never visited with grandparents they barely know. At age 16, Sam is fiercely protective of his younger siblings. Emily is 14 and desperately misses her friends. Young Christopher is only 8 and just wants to fit in. While Charlotte tries to help her grandchildren adjust to their new life, she also wrestles with her own grief and the enormous task of bringing her family together. Bob believes the fastest path to adjustment is a firm routine, with structure and chores, the same way they raised their own kids. However, that route led to Denise running away from home as a teenager and an estranged relationship with her family. Charlotte is worried about making the same mistakes she made with Denise. Is this her chance to make things right?

It is spring when the children arrive, and as Charlotte looks around the farm, she hopes the new life around them will signify hope and healing. The miracle of new life, along with God’s healing touch, reminds all of them that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.

 Sweet September picks up at harvest time, as the children are settling into a new school year. While the harvest should be an exciting time, the children don’t seem to be getting into the spirit. Emily is struggling with farm life, Christopher spends most of his time alone, and Sam is failing school. Trying to learn from what did and didn’t work with her own kids, Charlotte is determined to get her grandchildren back on track.

As tenuous family bonds threaten to break apart, a mystery on the farm might be the one thing that can bond the family together. Charlotte sets out to uncover the truth, and as the kids unite to find answers, this cobbled-together family learns more about one another and the love that binds them together.

The lives of the Stevensons and their grandchildren unfold in this captivating story of the remarkable change that comes from the love of family, the kindness of others, sheer persistence and unshakable faith. As readers follow the Stevensons’ inspiring stories, it’s almost impossible not feel a part of this friendly, loving community, where God’s grace can be seen in every circumstance.

Purchase the books here:

Before The Dawn…..Charlotte and her husband had a huge task before them in raising their three grandchildren that they didn’t even know. I really enjoyed seeing this family grow closer to each other as time progressed. The sure had their struggles, and the three grandchildren had one thing in mind when they arrived at the farm, and that was to find a way to leave. As the kids continued to participate in the activities of the farm, it was heartwarming to see them getting more attached to farm life and their new family. The author does a great job of creating characters that are believable and realistic, as well as creating the strained relationship between the grandchildren and grandparents. This makes the book seem so real, because this is really what happens. And I had to smile at the grandmother as she kept coming face to face with the face that kids are different know.
This is a wonderful, heartwarming book to read. It’s a pretty light and fast read, but well worth the time to read it. You will fall in love with this farm family and their way of living.
Sweet September… This book continues the Stevenson’s story, with their grandchildren living with them after their mom’s death. The kids continue to struggle getting use to live on a farm, compared with life in the big city, with their new school, and just all of the surroundings. Charlotte struggles even more to try and reach out to her grandchildren. It finally took an interesting mystery to peak interest for the entire family, bringing them together in ways they didn’t expect. And again, it was so heartwarming to see the family come together in love and acceptance. And for grandma and grandaddy, it was heartwarming to see them recognize a part of their daughter in each of the children. Another wonderful installment into the Home to Heather Creek Series from Guidepost that you sure don’t want to miss.
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 Author: Kathleen Bauer is the pen name for a team of writers who have come together to create the Home to Heather Creek series.


Win the All-New Paperwhite Kindle from Guideposts Books in the Home to Heather Creek Giveaway!

Guideposts Books is thrilled to announce their brand new series, Home to Heather Creek, by Kathleen Bauer. The first two books, Before the Dawn and Sweet September, launch this month and Guideposts Books is celebrating with a Paperwhite Kindle Giveaway!


One winner will receive:

  • A Paperwhite Kindle
  • Before the Dawn and Sweet September by Kathleen Bauer

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 5th. All winners will be announced October 7th HERE.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 7th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to their blog [enter your email in the blog sidebar] and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

FIRST Wild Card Tours presents…..Beyond These Hills by Sandra Robbins

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:
Sandra Robbins
and the book:
Beyond These Hills
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

In the romantic conclusion to the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, Sandra Robbins tells a story of love and loss. The government is purchasing property to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Laurel Jackson fears she’ll have to say goodbye to the only home she’s ever known. Can she find the strength to leave?

Visit the author’s website.


In the romantic conclusion to the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, Sandra Robbins tells a story of love and loss. The government is purchasing property to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Laurel Jackson fears she’ll have to say goodbye to the only home she’s ever known. Can she find the strength to leave?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Series: Smoky Mountain Dreams (Book 3)

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736948880

ISBN-13: 978-0736948883


MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK>……will post in the next few days…


Cades Cove, TennesseeJune, 1935

The needle on the pickup truck’s speedometer eased to thirty miles an hour. Laurel Jackson bit back a smile and glanced at her father. With his right hand on the steering wheel and his left elbow hanging out the open window, he reminded her of a little boy absorbed in the wonder of a new toy.

The wind ruffled his dark, silver-streaked hair, and a smile pulled at the corner of his mouth as the truck bounced along. His eyes held a faraway look that told her he was enjoying every minute of the drive along the new road that twisted through Cades Cove.

If truth be told, though, the truck with its dented fenders wasn’t all that new. He’d bought it a few months ago from Warren Hubbard, who’d cleaned out a few ditches in Cades Cove trying to bring the little Ford to a stop. Rumor had it he kept yelling Whoa! instead of pressing the brake. The good-natured ribbing of his neighbors had finally convinced Mr. Hubbard that he had no business behind the wheel of a truck.

Laurel’s father didn’t have that problem. He took to driving like their old hound dog Buster took to trailing a raccoon. Neither gave up until they’d finished what they’d started. Mama often said she didn’t know which one’s stubborn ways vexed her more—Poppa’s or Buster’s. Of course her eyes always twinkled when she said it.

The truck was another matter entirely. Mama saw no earthly reason why they needed that contraption on their farm when they had a perfectly good wagon and buggy. To her, it was another reminder of how life in Cades Cove was changing. Laurel could imagine what her mother would say if she could see Poppa now as the speed-

ometer inched up to thirty-five. Land’s sakes, Matthew. If you don’t keep both hands on the wheel, you’re gonna end up killing us all.

But Mama wasn’t with them today to tell Poppa they weren’t in a race, and he was taking advantage of her absence to test the limits of the truck. At this rate they’d make it to Gatlinburg earlier than expected. When she was a little girl, the ride in their wagon over to the mountain village that had become a favorite of tourists had seemed to take forever. Now, it took them less than half the time to get there.

She glanced at her father again and arched an eyebrow. “You’d better be glad Mama stayed home.”

Her father chuckled. “Do you think she’d say I was driving too fast?”

Laurel tilted her head to one side and tried to narrow her eyes into a thoughtful pose. “I’m sure she wouldn’t hesitate to let you know exactly how she felt.”

A big smile creased her father’s face, and he nodded. “You’re right about that. Your mother may run a successful business from a valley in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, but she’d just as soon pass up all the modern conveniences the money she makes could provide her. Sometimes I think she’d be happier if we were still living in that one-room cabin we had when we first married.”

Laurel laughed and nodded. “I know. But I imagine she’ll be just as happy today to have us out of the way. She can unload her latest pottery from the kiln and get the lodge cleaned and ready for the tourists we have coming Monday.”

Her father’s right hand loosened on the steering wheel, and his left one pulled the brim of his hat lower on his forehead. “It looks like business is going to be good this year. We already have reservations for most of the summer, and our guests sure do like to take home some of her pieces from Mountain Laurel Pottery.”

Laurel frowned. There would be guests this summer, but what about next year and the year after that? A hot breeze blew through the open window, and she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket. She mopped at the perspiration on her forehead before she swiveled in her seat to face her father. “Having the lodge and the pottery business is kind of like a mixed blessing, isn’t it?”

He frowned but didn’t take his eyes off the road. “How do you mean?”

Laurel’s gaze swept over the mountains that ringed the valley where she’d lived all her life. Her love for the mist-covered hills in the distance swelled up in her, and she swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. “Well, I was just thinking that we get paid well by the folks who stay at our lodge while they fish and hike the mountain trails, and Mama makes a lot of money selling them her pottery. But is the money worth what we’ve lost?” She clasped her hands in her lap. “I miss the quiet life we had in the Cove when I was a little girl.”

Her father’s forehead wrinkled. “So do I, darling, but you’re all grown up now, and those days are long gone. Change has been happening for a long time, but our way of life officially ended twelve years ago with the plan for the Smokies to become a national park. Now most of the mountain land’s been bought up by the government, and there’s a park superintendent in place over at Gatlinburg. I guess we have to accept the fact that the park is a reality.”

A tremor ran through Laurel’s body. She clutched her fists tighter until her fingernails cut into her palms. “No matter what we’re doing or talking about, it always comes back to one question, doesn’t it?”

Her father glanced at her. “What’s that?”

“How long can we keep the government from taking our land?”

“Well, they don’t have it yet.” The lines in her father’s face deepened, and the muscle in his jaw twitched. “At the moment, all the land that borders our farm has been bought and is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There aren’t many of us holding on in the Cove, but we’re not giving up without a fight. I have a meeting with our lawyer in Gatlinburg today to see how our court case is going. You can get your mama’s pottery delivered to Mr. Bryan’s store, can’t you?”

“I didn’t know you had a meeting with the lawyer. Don’t worry about the pottery. Willie and I can take care of that.”

A smile cracked her father’s moments-ago stony features at the mention of her younger brother, who was riding in the truck’s bed. “You make sure that boy helps you. He has a habit of disappearing every time I have a job for him. I sure wish he’d grow up and start taking on some responsibility around the farm.”

Laurel laughed. “Willie’s only twelve, Poppa. When he’s as old as Charlie or me, he’ll settle down.”

Her father shook his head. “I don’t know about that. He’s always gonna be your mother’s baby.”

Before she could respond, the truck hit a bump in the road and a yell from behind pierced her ears. Laughing, she turned and looked through the back window. Willie’s face stared back at her. “Do it again, Pa,” he yelled. “That was fun.”

Her father frowned, grabbed the steering wheel with both hands, and leaned over to call out the window. “Be still, Willie, before you fall out and land on your head.”

Willie stood up, grabbed the side of the open window, and leaned around the truck door to peer into the cab. “Won’t this thing go any faster?”

Her father’s foot eased up, and he frowned. “We’re going fast enough. Sit down, Willie.”

The wind whipped Willie’s dark hair in his eyes. He was grinning. “Jacob’s pa has a truck that’ll go fifty on a smooth stretch,” he yelled. “See what ours will do.”

The veins in her father’s neck stood out, and the speedometer needle dropped to twenty. “If you don’t sit down and stay put, I’m gonna stop and make you sit up here between your sister and me.”

“I’m just saying you ought to open this thing up and see what she’ll do.”

The muscle in her father’s jaw twitched again, and Laurel put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. How many times had she seen her no-nonsense father and her fun-loving brother locked in a battle of wills? Her father took a deep breath and shook his head.

“Willie, for the last time…”

Willie leaned closer to the window, glanced at Laurel, and winked. “Okay. I’ll sit, but I still think we could go a little faster. Jacob’s gonna get to Gatlinburg way before we do.”

The truck slowed to a crawl. “Willie…”

A big grin covered Willie’s mouth. “Okay, okay. I’m just trying to help. I know Mr. Bryan is waitin’ for these crates of Mama’s pottery. I’d hate to get there after he’d closed the store.”

“He’s not going to close the store. Now for the last time, do as I say.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sittin’.”

Willie pushed away from the window and slid down into the bed of the truck. Her father straightened in the seat and shook his head. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with that boy. He’s gonna put me in my grave before I’m ready.”

Laurel laughed, leaned over, and kissed her father’s cheek. “How many times have I heard you say that? I think you love sparring with him. He reminds you of Mama.”

For the first time today, a deep laugh rumbled in her father’s throat. “That it does. That woman has kept me on my toes for twenty years now.” He glanced over his shoulder through the back glass toward Willie, who now sat hunkered down in the bed of the truck. “But I doubt if I’ll make it with that boy. He tests my patience every day.”

Laurel smiled as she reached up and retied the bow at the end of the long braid that hung over her shoulder and down the front of her dress. “I doubt that will happen. You have more patience than anybody I know. There aren’t many in our valley who’ve been able to stand up to the government and keep them from taking their land. Just you and Grandpa Martin and a few more. Everybody else has given up and sold out.”

There it was again. The ever-present shadow that hung over their lives. Cove residents were selling out and leaving. How long could they hang on?

“Seems like we’re losing all our friends, doesn’t it?” Her father shook his head and pointed straight ahead. “Like Pete and Laura Ferguson. We’re almost to their farm. I think I’ll stop for a minute. I promised Pete I’d keep an eye on the place after they moved, and I haven’t gotten over here in a few weeks.”

Ever since Laurel could remember there had been a bond between her father and the older Pete Ferguson. Each had always been there to lend a hand to the other, but now the Fergusons were gone. Their land sold to the United States government and their farm officially a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

She glanced at her father’s face, and she almost gasped aloud at the sorrow she saw. The court case he and Grandpa Martin had waged over the past year had taken its toll on him. He was only a few months away from turning fifty years old, and Grandpa would soon be sixty-five. They didn’t need the worry they’d lived under for the last twelve years. Why couldn’t the government just give up and allow them to remain on their farms in the mountain valley that had been their family’s home for generations? That was her prayer every night, but so far God hadn’t seen fit to answer.

Her father steered the truck onto the dirt path that ran to the Ferguson cabin. The wildflowers Mrs. Ferguson had always loved waved in the breeze beside the road as they rounded the corner and pulled to a stop in the yard.

Laurel’s eyes grew wide, and she stared, unbelieving, through the windshield to the spot where the Ferguson cabin had stood as long as she could remember. Her father groaned and climbed from the truck. For a moment he stood beside the vehicle’s open door, his hand resting on the handle. He shook his head as if he couldn’t believe what he saw. Then he closed the door and took a few steps forward.

Laurel reached for the leather bag that sat on the floorboard near her feet, unsnapped the top flap, and pulled out her Brownie box camera before jumping from the truck. She hurried to stand beside her father, who stood transfixed as he stared straight ahead. Willie, his face pale, climbed from the back of the truck and stopped next to their father. No one spoke for a moment.

Willie pulled his gaze away and stared up at their father. “Where’s the house, Pa?”

Their father took a deep breath. “I guess the park service tore it down, son.”

A sob caught in Laurel’s throat as they stared at the barren spot of land that had once been the site of a cabin, barn, and all the outbuildings needed to keep a farm productive. “But why would they do that, Poppa?”

Her father took a deep breath. “Because this land is now a part of the park, and they want it to return to its wild state.”

Willie inched closer to their father. “Are they gonna tear our house down too?”

Her father’s eyes darkened. “Not if I can help it.” He let his gaze wander over the place he had known so well before he took a deep breath and turned back to the truck. “Let’s get out of here. I shouldn’t have stopped today.”

Laurel raised the camera and stared down into the viewfinder. “Let me get a picture of this before we go.”

Her father gritted his teeth. “Take as many as you want. Somebody’s got to record the death of a community.”

None of them spoke as she snapped picture after picture of the empty spot that gave no hint a family had once been devoted to this piece of land. After she’d finished, the three of them returned to the truck and climbed in. When her father turned the truck and headed back to the road, Laurel glanced over her shoulder at the spot where the house had stood. She had always looked forward to visiting this home, but she didn’t know if she would be able to return. Too many of her friends were gone, scattered to the winds in different directions. The holdouts who still remained in the Cove lived each day with the threat that they too would soon be forced from the only homes they’d ever known. If her family had to leave, they would be like all the rest. They would go wherever they could find a home, and the ties forged by generations in the close society of their remote mountain valley would vanish forever.

Andrew Brady set his empty glass on the soda fountain counter and crossed his arms on its slick white surface. The young man who’d served him faced him behind the counter and smiled. “Can I get you somethin’ else, mister?”

Andrew shook his head. “No thanks. That cold drink helped to cool me down some. I didn’t expect it to be so hot in Gatlinburg. I thought it would be cooler here in the mountains.”

The young man grinned and reached up to scratch under the white hat he wore. “Most folks think that, but our days can be a bit warm in the summertime.” He glanced at several customers at the other end of the counter and, apparently satisfied they didn’t need any help at the moment, turned his attention back to Andrew. “Where you from?”

Andrew smiled. “Virginia. Up near Washington.”

The young man smiled and extended his hand. “Welcome to Gatlinburg. My name is Wayne Johnson. My uncle owns this drugstore, and I work for him.”

Andrew grasped his hand and shook it. “Andrew Brady.”

“How long you been here, Andrew?”

“I arrived Thursday.”

Wayne picked up a cloth and began to wipe the counter. He glanced up at Andrew. “You enjoying your vacation?”

Andrew shook his head. “I’m not in Gatlinburg on vacation. I’m here on business.”

Wayne shrugged. “I figured you for a tourist. Guess I was wrong. They come from all over now that the park’s opening up. I hear that we had about forty thousand people visit Gatlinburg last year. That’s a far cry from what it was like when I was a boy. We were just a wide spot in a dirt road back in those days. But I expect it’s only gonna get better.”

Andrew glanced around the drugstore with its well-stocked shelves and the soda fountain against the side wall. “It looks like this business is doing okay.” He shook his head and chuckled. “I don’t know what I expected, but I wouldn’t have thought there’d be so many shops here. Mountain crafts are for sale everywhere, and the whole town is lit up with electric lights. It looks like the park has put this town on the map.”

Wayne propped his hands on the counter and smiled. “I guess folks in the outside world thought we were just a bunch of ignorant hillbillies up here, but we been doing fine all these years. We’ve even had electricity since back in the twenties when Mr. Elijah Reagan harnessed the power on the Roaring Fork for his furniture factory. He supplied to everybody else too, but now they say we’re gonna have cheap electricity when TVA gets all their dams built.”

Andrew nodded. “I guess it’s a new day for the people in the mountains.”

“It sure is, and we’re enjoying every bit of it.” He picked up Andrew’s dirty glass and held it up. “You sure you don’t want a refill?”

Andrew shook his head. “No, I’d better be going. I have some things to do before I head out to Cades Cove tomorrow.”

Wayne cocked an eyebrow. “Only one reason I can think why you might be going out there. You must be joining up at the Civilian Conservation Corps.”

Andrew pulled some coins from his pocket to pay for his soda and laid them on the counter. “No, I’m not with the CCC. Just intend to visit with them a while.”

Wayne shrugged. “There’re a lot of CCC camps all over the mountains, and those boys are doing a good job. You can see part of it when you drive into the Cove. They built the new road there. It sure makes gettin’ in and out of there easier than it did in years past. I reckon Roosevelt did a good thing when he put that program in his New Deal.”

“Yeah, it’s giving a lot of young men a chance for employment.” Andrew smiled, picked up the hat that rested on the stool beside him, and set it on his head. “Thanks for the soda.”

Wayne studied Andrew for a moment. “You never did tell me exactly what your job is. What brought you to Gatlinburg from Washington?”

“I work with the Park Service. I’m here on a special assignment.”

Wayne’s eyes narrowed, and his gaze raked Andrew. “Special assignment, huh? Sounds important, and you look mighty young.”

Andrew’s face grew warm, and his pulse quickened. Even a soda jerk could figure out that a guy who looked like he’d barely been out of college for a year couldn’t have gotten this job on his own. But with his father being a United States congressman and a supporter of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, it hadn’t been hard for his father to arrange this appointment.

The worst part for him, though, had been his father’s command that Andrew had better not embarrass him on the job. He swallowed the nausea rising in his throat and tried to smile.

“I guess I’m just lucky they thought I was qualified.”

“Well, congratulations. Come in for another soda the next time you’re in town.”

“That I will.” Andrew turned and headed for the exit.

When he stepped outside the drugstore, he stopped and stared at the newly paved road that wound through the town. Before long that stretch of highway would wind and climb its way up the mountainsides all the way to Newfound Gap that divided the states of   Tennessee and North Carolina. He’d heard that spot mentioned several times as the ideal location for the dedication of the park, but the event was still some years away. His assignment here would be one of the factors that determined when it would take place.

Andrew took a deep breath of fresh mountain air and turned in the direction where he’d parked his car. Several tourists brushed past him, but it was the approach of a young man and woman who caught his attention. Obviously honeymooners, if the glow of happiness on their faces was any indication. Ignoring everybody they passed, they stared into each other’s eyes and smiled as if they had a secret no one else knew.

Andrew shook his head in sympathy as they walked past him and wondered how long it would take them to face up to the reality of what being married really meant. He’d seen how his friends had changed after marriage when they had to start worrying about taking care of a family. He’d decided a long time ago it wasn’t for him. He had too many things he wanted to do in life, and getting married ranked way below the bottom of his list. Convincing his father of the decision, though, was another matter. The congressman had already picked out the woman for his son’s wife. “The perfect choice,” his father often said, “to be by your side as you rise in politics.”

Andrew sighed and shook his head. Sometimes there was no reasoning with his father. He wished he could make him…

His gaze drifted across the street, and the frown on his face dissolved at the sight of a young woman standing at the back of a pickup truck. Her fisted hands rested on her hips, and she glared at the back of a young boy running down the street.

“Willie,” she yelled. “Come back here. We’re not through unloading yet.”

The boy scampered away without looking over his shoulder. She shook her head and stamped her foot. Irritation radiated from her stiff body, and his skin warmed as if she’d touched him.

As if some unknown force had suddenly inhabited his body, he eased off the sidewalk and moved across the street until he stood next to her. “Excuse me, ma’am. Is there anything I can do to help?”

She whirled toward him, and the long braid of black hair hanging over her right shoulder thumped against her chest. Sultry dark eyes shaded by long lashes stared up at him, and a small gasp escaped her lips. “Oh, you startled me.”

His chest constricted, and he inhaled to relieve the tightness. His gaze drifted to the long braid that reached nearly to her waist. He had a momentary desire to reach out and touch it. With a shake of his head, he curled his fingers into his palms and cleared his throat.

“I’m sorry. I heard you calling out to that boy, and I thought maybe I could help.”

Only then did her shoulders relax, and she smiled. Relief surged through his body, and his legs trembled. What was happening to him? A few minutes ago he was mentally reaffirming his commitment to bachelorhood, and now his mind wondered why he’d ever had such a ridiculous thought. All he could do was stare at the beautiful creature facing him.

She glanced in the direction the boy had disappeared and sighed. “That was my brother. He was supposed to help me move these crates into the store, but he ran off to find his friend.” She smiled again and held out her hand. “My name is Laurel.”

His hand engulfed hers, and a wobbly smile pulled at his lips. “I’m Andrew. I’d be glad to take these inside for you, Laurel.”

“Oh, no. If you could just get one end, I’ll hold the other.”

He studied the containers for a moment before he shook his head. “I think I can manage. If you’ll just open the door, I’ll have them inside in no time.”

She hesitated as if trying to decide, then nodded. “Okay. But be careful. These crates are filled with pottery. My mother will have a fit if one piece gets broken.”

He took a deep breath, leaned over the tailgate of the truck, and grabbed the largest crate with Mountain Laurel Pottery stamped on the top. Hoisting the container in his hands, he headed toward the store and the front door that she held open.

As they entered the building, a tall man with a pencil stuck behind his ear hurried from the back of the room. “Afternoon, Laurel. I wondered when you were going to get here.”

She smiled, and Andrew’s heart thumped harder. “We didn’t leave home as early as we’d planned.” Her smile changed to a scowl. “Willie was supposed to help me, but he ran off.” And just as quickly, her expression changed again to a dazzling smile. “Andrew was good enough to help me get the crates in.”

Mr. Bryan helped Andrew ease the crate to the floor and glanced up at him. “Any more in the truck?”

Andrew nodded. “One more, but it’s smaller. I don’t need any help getting it inside.”

“Then I’ll leave you two. I’m unboxing some supplies in the back.” Mr. Bryan turned to Laurel. “If anybody comes in, holler at me, Laurel.”

“I will.”

A need to distance himself from this woman who had his heart turning somersaults swept over Andrew, and he hurried out the door. Within minutes he was back with the second container, but he almost dropped it at the sight of Laurel kneeling on the floor beside the first one. She opened the top, reached inside, and pulled out one of the most beautiful clay pots he’d ever laid eyes on. Swirls of orange and black streaked the smoky surface of the piece. She held it up to the light, and her eyes sparkled as she turned it slowly in her hands and inspected it.

He set the second crate down and swallowed. “Did you make it?”

She laughed and shook her head. The braid swayed again, and he stood transfixed. “No, my mother is the potter. I help her sometimes, but I didn’t inherit her gift. This is one of her pit-fired pieces.”

She set the pot down and pulled another one out. She smiled and rubbed her hand over the surface. Her touch on the pottery sent a warm rush through his veins.

“Exquisite.” The word escaped his mouth before he realized it.

She cocked her head to one side and bit her lip. “Exquisite?” she murmured. She glanced up at him, and her long eyelashes fluttered. “I’ve searched for the right word for a long time to describe my mother’s work. I think you’ve just given it to me. They are exquisite.”

He swallowed and backed away. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

She shook her head. “No, thank you. You’ve been a great help.”

“I’m glad I could be of service.” He searched his mind for something else to say, something to prolong his time with her, but his mind was blank. He took a deep breath. “I need to go. It was nice meeting you, Laurel.”

She smiled. “You too, Andrew. Goodbye, and thanks again.”

“Goodbye.” He slowly backed toward the door.

Outside in the fresh air he took a deep breath and pulled his hat off. He raked his sleeve across his perspiring brow and shook his head. What had just happened? He’d felt like he was back in high school and trying to impress the most popular girl in his class.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and the image of her holding the pottery in her hands returned. He clamped his teeth down on his bottom lip and shook his head. She’d misunderstood. It wasn’t the pottery he was describing when the word had slipped from his mouth.

Exquisite? The word didn’t do her justice.

And she had a beautiful name too. Laurel. He straightened, and his eyes widened. He hadn’t even asked her last name.

He whirled to go back inside the store but stopped before he had taken two steps. His father’s face and the words he’d spoken when Andrew left home flashed in his mind. Remember who you are and why you’re there. Don’t do anything foolish. People in Washington are watching. He exhaled and rubbed his hand across his eyes.

For a moment inside the store he’d been distracted. He was the son of Congressman Richard Brady, and his father had big plans for his only living son.

He glanced once more at the pickup truck that still sat in front of the store and pictured how Laurel had looked standing there. When he’d grasped her hand, he’d had the strange feeling that he’d known her all his life. How could a mountain girl he’d just met have such a strange effect on him?

He pulled his hat on, whirled, and strode in the opposite direction. Halfway down the block he stopped, turned slowly, and wrinkled his brow as he stared back at the truck. The words painted on the containers flashed in his mind, and he smiled.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find out her last name. For now he would just call her Mountain Laurel. His skin warmed at the thought. A perfect name for a beautiful mountain girl.

He jammed his hands in his pockets and whistled a jaunty tune as he sauntered down the street.

The Invention of Sarah Cummings by Olivia Newport from Revell

The Invention of Sarah Cummings  

by Olivia Newport



In a world where everyone is putting on a show, there is a love that is genuine.

Sarah Cummings has one goal in life–to break into Chicago’s high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner to members of the wealthy Banning family and to start eating at society tables, Sarah spends her meager free time altering cast-off gowns to create the perfect wardrobe for her future life.

When opportunity knocks at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to her goal–and closer to Simon Tewell, director of St. Andrew’s Orphanage–Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of.

Can she piece together the perfect life from scraps? Or will it all come unraveled in the face of true love?

“Newport’s touching historical romance sweeps readers into another time and place, where elegance and wealth are abundant and where dreams really can come true. Highly recommended for fans of Tamera Alexander.”–Library Journal

 For more information visit



First of all, I love Olivia Newport’s books and I am really enjoying The Avenue of Dreams Series and the Banning family and their staff.  Sarah is such a feisty young lady and a bit quirky too, and I just love her! I was really impressed with her sewing skills. She so wants to be a high society lady, and surely never have anything to do with the St. Andrews Orphanage where she grew up. But when her sewing skills lands her volunteering at the orphanage teaching the young ladies there to sew, coming face to face with director SImon Tewell starts becoming un-nerving. Or could it be she has a slight attraction to him? Find out where you read Olivia Newport’s new book, The Invention of Sarah Cummings. You sure do not want to miss this awesome historical fiction with characters that will sneak their way into your heart and stay there for long after the story is over. Claim your copy today, and sit down for an enjoyable and very entertaining read. Ms. Newport will have you both laughing and crying as you read this heartwarming story.

“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.

About the Author

Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Her husband and two adult children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

For Olivia Newport’s website, facebook or twitter visit

CFBA Fired Up…by Mary Connealy

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Fired Up 

(Bethany House March 1, 



Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie’s Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she’s one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.


Rollicking Wild West Adventure and Romance from Bestselling Author Mary Connealy

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can’t let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he’s trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she’s determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she’s terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner–never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can’t help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There’s the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna’s diner into Dare’s back. Are Flint’s cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna’s son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fired Up, go HERE.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris from Revell

Dangerous Passage

by Lisa Harris


She’s dedicated her life to ending violence. But has she moved too deep into a treacherous world?

When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective and behavioral specialist Avery North discovers they share something in common–a magnolia tattoo on their shoulders. Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. As they venture deep into a sinister criminal world, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their abilities–and their hearts.

Dangerous Passage exposes a fully realized and frightening world where every layer peeled back reveals more challenges ahead. You’ll be hooked from the start.

“An intriguing tale of romance and mystery. Harris takes you on a trail that leads straight into the worst kind of evil–and the lives of those who are determined to stop it. Well-crafted characters and tight writing will keep readers flipping the pages.”–Lynette Eason, bestselling author of the Deadly Reunions series

 For more information visit


Avery North was determined to find the killer of two young ladies before anyone else got hurt. But that turned out to be not such an easy job.  This is my first book my Lisa Harris and I am impressed with this suspense murder thriller! The characters are well developed making this a really good, realistic and believable read. I enjoyed the attraction and romance between Avery and Jackson, Jackson seemed to be just what Avery needed since she had problems dealing with her personal life.

That said, it was difficult to read Dangerous Passage at times because of the issues that were unfolded as the story goes one. It is so sad and heartbreaking that modern day slavery goes on in our country today, and I appreciate Lisa Harris for dealing with these issues so well in her story. We all need to read stories like this as much as we can, to remind us to pray for these precious young people. I really loved this book, and I can’t wait for the second book in the Southern Crimes Series!

“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.

About this Author

Lisa Harris
Photo Credit: © Mariah Harris

Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris is an award-winning author with more than 400,000 copies of her works in print. She was a 2011 Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and lives in Mozambique together with her husband, Scott, and their three children. Visit her website at

For Lisa Harris’s website, facebook or twitter visit

CFBA Presents Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Born of Persuasion 

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2013) 



Born in the wrong century–except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines–Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area—where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.


The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Born of Persuasion, go HERE.

Remembering My Mom……Rachel Virginia Chattin Today



Today has been a bittersweet day for me. Three years ago today, Sept. 16, 2010 at around 4:20am my precious mama took her last breath here on earth and entered into the arms of her Lord. Even though she was 79 years old, her death took us by surprise because she was getting along so well. This is a picture of mama and her Sheltie, Alex. Mama loved him as much as she did any of us, because he was with her all of the time when we couldn’t be.

Today has been bitter because I miss my mom so much and I didn’t want to give her up. She was my mom, but she was my best friend too and I feel so lost without her. She was a special lady, and doing things for others is what made her happy. She truly had the heart of a servant, and everyone around her benefited from something she gave them. She was truly a Proverbs 31 Woman!

Today has been sweet because of the sweet and precious memories I have in my heart about mama. As I think about her last few hours with us, I remember how strong she was, not a flicker of doubt where she would be when she stopped breathing. When the Dr told her he was giving her something to relax her and she would go to sleep and not wake up, she said “That’s ok, when I wake up, I will wake up with my Lord.” What a blessing to have that memory. She talked to each of us, telling us what she wanted us to do in the future, telling us what to do with different things, and trying to make the night easier on everyone else. She knew her homegoing was gonna be difficult for her sister and our Aunt Edna,  so she tried to encourage her throughout the night as well. She was the one encouraging everyone that night, she was the most amazing person I have even seen that close to death.  We would tell her to tell Daddy Hi and give him a big hug for us, as well as our grandparents, several uncles and aunts, and many other family and loved ones that are already in Heaven. Our pastor said it sounded like we were sending her off on a big trip somewhere, and we were, more special than we even knew. It was a special night because we knew, and mama knew that she had nothing to fear. We could all now claim the verse that says, ‘to be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord’ and we knew that we would see her again someday, because this is another promise God gives us in His Word.

So as I write this through tears, I was to say THANK YOU! to our wonderful Lord for giving us the most special mom and dad that anyone could ever have. They loved each of their five children with an unconditional love, they knew what each of us liked and enjoyed, and did everything in their power to do those things for us. They didn’t have a lot of money to leave us, but they did leave us with enough love, and a legacy that will live on in the lives of each of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. But its not only family that will remember the legacy they left behind, they will be remembered in the lives of each person they can in contact with during their lives, because they touched each one in a special way.. I still met up with people that talk about mama and daddy and the impact they had on their lives. What a blessing they both were!

I love and miss you mama, what I would give to have one more chance to say that to you now. But I will see you again, and see daddy again, and I know he is thrilled to finally have you with him. We love and miss you both more than you will ever know. As I finish writing this, I think of yours and daddy’s favorite verse that you lived so well, Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

Litfuse Presents EVENTIDE by Shelley Shepard ……Plus giveaway from author


by Shelley Shepard Gray

EventideA young Amish woman harbors a difficult secret. Does she dare share the truth with the man she hopes to marry?

Elsie Keim doesn’t want to be left behind. Her twin sister, Viola, and her older brother, Roman, have both found love and are building lives of their own. But Elsie? She’s still stuck at home, being treated like a child. No one seems to consider her a capable woman—all they see are the thick lenses of her glasses, constant reminders that Elsie suffers from keratoconus and is slowly going blind.

Elsie knows there’s much more to her than her disease. That’s why when a new neighbor, Landon Troyer, shows some interest in her, she doesn’t want anything to scare him away . . . even if it means keeping her condition a secret.

Landon is ready to start a new life and feels like Elsie may just be the right woman to start it with. But when Roman steps in and shares the truth about Elsie’s illness, Landon is floored. His job is demanding and takes him away from home, sometimes for days at a time. How could he keep up with his responsibilities and take care of Elsie?

Purchase a copy here.

Learn more at Shelley’s website.


Wow, what an awesome finish to The Days of Redemption Series. The Keim family certainly had their share of troubles, and this is one thing I really appreciate about Ms Gray writing this series, because it is so realistic and the issues are things we all face in everyday life. The family has secrets that are revealed, the three Keim siblings didn’t date and marry in the usual way of the Amish, but all of these things made the family stronger in the end. Most of this book focuses on Elsie, the sibling that is going blind and their neighbor Landon’s attraction to each other. Ms. Gray does an awesome job of pulling this dysfunctional family together to come up with an ending that will warm you heart! I have read all of Shelly Shepard Gray’s books, and love them all! Eventide did not disappoint, I think this was my favorite of the three books, but you have to read them all to know the full story! I encourage you to pick up a copy today for your enjoyment and entertainment. But be sure to pick up the first two books in this series 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.


Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the “Sisters of the Heart”, “Seasons of Sugarcreek”, “Secrets of Crittenden County”, and Families of Honor series. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.


Shelley Shepard Gray is celebrating the release of the final book in The Days of Redemption series, Eventide, by giving away FIVE sets of the series. 


Five winners will receive:

  • Daybreak, Ray of Light and Eventide by Shelley Shepard Gray

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 21st. All winners will be announced September 23rd at Shelley’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Shelley’s blog on the 23rd to see if you won one of the book sets!

FIRST Wild Card Tours presents The Days of Noah by Virginia Smith

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:
Virginia Smith
and the book:
The Days of Noah
Next Step Books (August 13, 2013)
***Special thanks to Keely Leake for sending me a review copy.***

VIRGINIA SMITH, or Ginny to her friends, is an avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction. She writes stories in a variety of styles, from lighthearted romance to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists for ACFW’s Carol Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, the Maggie Awards, and the National Reader’s Choice Awards. Two of her novels have been honored with Holt Medallion Awards of Merit—A Daughter’s Legacy in 2011 and Dangerous Impostor in 2013.

When she isn’t writing, Ginny enjoys the extremes of nature—riding her motorcycle, snow skiing, and scuba diving. She and her husband, Ted, divide their times between their homes in Utah and Kentucky.

Learn more about Ginny and her books at and on facebook at


The daughter of a pagan priestess believes Noah’s prophecy…especially when she discovers the horrifying secret behind her city’s primary export.

Belief in the One God is dangerous in Cainlan, a technologically advanced city founded on the worship of the god Cain. But when Eliana meets the son of a religious fanatic she is drawn to Shem’s caring manner and deep faith. She believes his assertion that the One God will wipe the earth clean of the corruption that fills it, especially when she discovers a terrifying secret known only to those high in the government’s ruling council.

Though destined to escape her destiny, Eliana’s life has been preordained. Not even Shem’s God can rescue her from the fate for which she was born – becoming the next high priestess to Cain.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.49

Paperback: 374 pages

Publisher: Next Step Books (August 13, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1937671119

ISBN-13: 978-1937671112


A Note from Virginia Smith
The book of Genesis doesn’t have much to say about the society in which Noah and his family lived. What a delight to an author with a vivid imagination, because the framework for stories set during that time period is wide open. All we are told is that in Noah’s day mankind had become evil and corrupt. Many have assumed the culture to be primitive–but what if that assumption is wrong? What if civilization had progressed to the point of cultivating technology? What if Noah’s society had developed some of the alarming elements of our own society?
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
(Matthew 24:37)
Part One
City of the God
Chapter 1
Behind a well-bloodied altar, the high priestess stood ramrod straight, a razor-sharp blade poised above her head. Eliana matched the rigid posture, her gaze riveted on the glistening knife gripped in her mother’s hands. A lamb lay bleating in terror on the altar, held in place by two blue-robed priestesses. Knots formed in Eliana’s stomach, and she averted her gaze from the struggling animal. Gathered in the courtyard before the open-air dais, the mesmerized crowd drew an audible breath, anticipating the moment of the knife’s descent.
From her position on the rear of the dais, deep beneath the shade of the golden canopy, Eliana watched her mother’s slender back, taut cords of muscle plainly visible beneath the filmy white gown. Her gaze shifted to the opposite side of the platform where another dark-haired priestess waited. The woman’s hand rested gently, almost lovingly, on the shoulder of a child. The last of the morning’s sacrifices stood motionless, watching the ritual through drug-laden eyes.
The crowd roared approval as the knife fell, and Eliana’s stomach lurched. By sheer force of will she remained outwardly passive, though her throat convulsed with the effort of keeping her breakfast in place. Why did the blood still disturb her so? Sacrifices had been part of her daily routine for years, since she ascended from the temple’s nursery to dwell in the upper halls. High Priestess Liadan made no secret of the fact that she despised this weakness in her daughter, and that Eliana must master her squeamishness. She had no choice. For in only a few years, Eliana would be called to take her mother’s place at the altar.
A movement among the masses caught her eye. A man dressed in farmer’s trousers and a loose-fitting shirt turned away to push through the crowd. Before the people closed in and hid him from view, he looked once more toward the dais where the high priestess stood. Even from the distance, his distaste at the spectacle showed clearly on his face. He shook his head sadly before disappearing into the crowd.
As the attendant priestesses removed the lamb’s carcass, Eliana’s gaze traveled once again to the opposite end of the dais. All hair had been shaved from the child’s head, making the gender impossible to determine. A white linen robe hung loosely from thin shoulders, and as Eliana watched, the priestess gently nudged the child toward the stairs leading to the altar. For one moment, dark, dull eyes locked onto Eliana’s in an unfocused stare.
With the speed of a lion attacking its prey, repugnance struck her like a physical assault. Burning acid surged into her throat, and her knees threatened to buckle. She shrank against the heavy gold curtain behind her. One urgent thought pummeled her brain: escape, before she vomited. If forced to watch one more sacrifice this morning, she would shame herself, her mother, and worst of all, the mighty god, Cain.
Though she would certainly be called to task later, Eliana slipped behind the curtain into the temple, and ran.
Breath burning in her lungs, Eliana catapulted through a side door that led from the temple into a secluded corner of the public gardens. Bright sunlight assaulted her eyes after the dim lighting of the temple corridors. She stopped on the cobbled walkway to recover her breath, inhaling deep draughts of rose-scented air to clear the stench of sacrificial blood from her nostrils. In the distance she heard the roar of a hundred exhilarated voices and knew the final sacrifice of the morning had been performed. An image rose unbidden in her mind: sightless eyes, dark and dull, stared skyward as the child’s life dripped into the high priestess’s chalice to appease the hungry god.
Huge gulps of cool morning air tasted sweet against the bitter bile that again threatened to choke her.
No! She pressed fists against her eyes. Think of something else.
“Alms, lady?”
Startled, she opened her eyes to see a filthy urchin before her. He must have been hiding behind the hedge that lined the cobbled path. Beggars were unusual in the secluded cluster of shops and taverns that surrounded the temple gardens. In the unlikely event one decided to try his luck inside the ornamental iron gates separating the private marketplace from the press of Cainlan’s city streets, dozens of uniformed guardsman were normally on hand to point out his error. This child had somehow escaped notice. The bones in his wrist protruded beneath thin, dirt-encrusted skin as he thrust his palm toward her, gazing up with liquid brown eyes.
Eyes that flickered with life.
Eliana reached for the bag that hung at her side when she shopped. Then she remembered. She hadn’t needed a bag for the morning sacrifice. It was back in her rooms in the temple’s resident hall.
“I’m sorry. I’ve nothing to give.”
Disbelief flashed across the child’s features. His gaze dropped to take in her silk gown, followed by a smirk of disgust. He spat, barely missing her embroidered slippers, and ran off. She watched as he ducked under the cover of a thick, flowering bush.
At least he was alive to run away.
When the urchin was out of sight, Eliana hesitated. Duty demanded that she return to the temple. Girta would be waiting in her rooms with something cool and calming to drink. But this morning the thick stone walls of the only home she’d ever known threatened to press the breath right out of her body.
With a guilty backward glance, Eliana turned away from the temple and hurried down the walkway, her silken gown whispering around her feet. The gardens lay inside the high hedge to her right. At the center a statue of Cain towered above the greenery, his back to the temple dedicated to his service. Sometimes that ever-watchful presence comforted her, but in recent days, with her official entry into the priesthood drawing nearer, the god’s regard presented a menacing force that haunted her dreams. She kept her head turned away.
At the far end of the stone and wood shops that comprised the market square rose the imposing building that housed the Cabinet of Energy. She avoided looking in that direction as well. The smooth, polished walls, so different from the rough hewn stone of the temple, stirred feelings of disquiet deep in her stomach. The sun’s rays reflected off glass panels, blinding her and hiding the actions of those who worked within doing … what? The workings of Cainlan’s government were largely a mystery, at least to a fledgling priestess. Each morning men and women filed inside clutching satchels and moving with quick, hurried steps that gave the impression of important activities awaiting them inside the shining walls. At the end of the day, those same men and women filed out carrying the same satchels. At night the energy-powered lights lining the roof cast a harsh glow into the sky and blotted out the twinkling stars. In daylight, the building stood as a gleaming symbol of progress, staring defiance across the gardens toward the ancient temple and the statue of the god the temple served.
When the building was erected ten years before, Liadan’s voice had snapped with irritation whenever it was mentioned. But in recent years the High Priestess’s attitude had undergone a change. Though Eliana still heard the occasional grumble about ‘that monstrosity’ blocking her view of the city that sprawled to the south, her mother had ceased grumbling about the government. The reason, Eliana suspected, had little to do with politics and everything to do with Captor, the handsome governor whose first official project after his appointment was to champion the building project.
 Eliana jumped when a loud blast from a horn signaled the end of the sacrifice ceremony. Within moments the walkway filled with people intent on their own errands. Shopkeepers threw open their shutters and attempted to coax customers through their doorways with promises of bargains and temple-blessed wares. Eliana allowed herself to be swept along toward the far end of the market square, where she turned into the relative peace of a narrow alleyway.
The scent of freshly baked bread carried from the corner bakery, so like the kitchen near the temple nursery. She missed those peaceful years, when she’d been too young to attract her mother’s attention beyond the obligatory monthly visits to the high priestess’s chambers.
A movement ahead caught her eye. The pet shop owner wrestled a heavy iron cage through the doorway of his store. Inside, a colorful bird squawked in protest at the rough handling. Another man emerged from the shop in the owner’s wake, his quiet voice easily heard in the narrow confines of the alley.
“I’m quite sure my father would be interested in a pair, if you could manage to find a female.”
At a glimpse of his profile, her breath caught in her throat. He was the man she had seen in the crowd, the farmer who had turned away before the end of the sacrificial ritual.
The shop owner placed the cage near the window and faced his customer, hands on his hips. “Your father has quite a collection by now, I’d say.”
A warm laugh rumbled toward her. “That he does, but none like this.”
Collection? Was the stranger’s father a bird handler, then? A pair of women entered the alley, chatting with one another as they headed toward the fabric shop at the far end. Curious, Eliana crept closer to the men, her eyes averted but her ears tuned to their conversation.
“My supplier can find a female, but they’re expensive. They come all the way from Enoch, and the roads are dangerous these days.” The shop owner shook his head. “I’ll need payment in advance.”
A shadow fell across Eliana, accompanied by the stench of rotten breath. She whirled and lifted her eyes to a face much closer than she liked. A man, tall and broad-shouldered, towered over her. His companion, whose clothes bore evidence of much wear and little washing, stepped behind her to successfully box her in. Narrowed eyes glinted down at her as cracked lips parted in a grin.
Alarm plunged into her belly.
“What do we have here? A lady in fancy clothes.”
He fingered the gold-embroidered silk of her gown where it draped across her collarbone, and Eliana drew breath to voice an outraged protest. His rough hand brushed against her breast. Her words died unspoken while icy fear froze the blood in her veins. She shrank away, but the man behind her formed an immovable barrier. Twisting sideways, she pressed her back against the stone wall. Why had she run off without a cloak to cover her gown? She might as well have strung gold coins from her ears and invited thieves to take them. Hadn’t Girta warned her over and over? She cast about frantically for a means of escape, but could not tear her gaze from the menacing grin blocking her view. Could she outrun them, make a dash for the alley entrance?
As though he heard her thought, the man raised a meaty arm and planted his hand against the stone beside her, entrapping her in a cage of sweaty flesh.
The second man lifted a fat finger to point at her face. “Hey, I know her. She was up by the altar.”
The first man’s grin deepened. “A priestess, eh?” He put his other hand on the wall beside her head and leaned closer. “I’ve heard some of them priestesses can be mighty friendly to a working man when they’re asked real nice.”
The man’s hand dropped to her shoulder and slid down her arm. A trail of fire seared her skin where his fingers touched, and a fierce trembling in her knees threatened to drop her to the cobbled ground. She had to get away, to run to the safety of the temple, and of Girta’s arms.
“I—” Her voice failed her. She gulped and tried again. “I must get back. I’m…I’m expected.”
The second man’s low chuckle resonated in her ears. “What’s the hurry? We’ve got a nice place out in the city where—”
“Pardon my intrusion.”
Eliana jerked her gaze to the man who suddenly appeared behind her captors. The farmer who’d been bargaining for the colorful bird. Anger erupted on the faces of the ruffians as they turned toward him, shoulder-to-shoulder. Their backs formed a wall of muscle and flesh in front of Eliana.
Courtesy and steel blended in the farmer’s soft voice. “I’m concluding my business here, and then I can accompany the lady back to the temple.”
The backs of her captors swelled until they seemed to double in size. “Mind your business. This lady don’t need no dirt digger to take her anywhere.”
The farmer’s soft voice did not change. “I think she does.”
As one, they took a menacing step toward him. With a quick sideways movement, Eliana slid out of their reach. Without a backward glance, she dashed blindly down the alley. Half a breath later she realized her mistake. She should have run the other way, toward the alley’s entrance and the safety of the wide-open gardens where the marketplace guards would see her. There was no place to go in this direction except into one of the shops in this tiny alley. She skidded to a halt behind the dubious protection of the metal birdcage, just as the animal keeper emerged from the open doorway of his shop. In one hand he carried a short but sturdy club, which he slapped rhythmically into the palm of the other as he stalked toward the place where the farmer stood his ground before the pair of brutes.
“Here now, we’ll have none of this. Be on your way.”
The larger of the thugs glanced toward Eliana, clearly considering whether or not she was worth pursuing. She huddled behind the cage, fear coursing down her spine. Though the farmer stood half a head taller, they both possessed arms nearly the width of Eliana’s waist, and were decades younger than the shopkeeper. If they decided to fight, could she scream loud enough to attract the attention of the temple guards? Were there any guards near enough to come to their aid?
The first ruffian turned his head and spat. “Let’s go.” Apparently he didn’t mind the odds of two men against one petite woman, but didn’t relish the idea of pairing off against other men.
His companion hesitated, and then joined him. Eliana’s rescuers did not move until the thugs had left the alley.
When her would-be attackers were out of sight, she sagged against the shop’s doorway, eyes closed, and willed her heartbeat to slow. Footsteps approached.
“Are you hurt, lady?”
She shook her head and looked up into the kind gray eyes of the farmer. “I’m fine, thanks to you.” She slid her gaze to include the shopkeeper. “Thanks to you both.”
The man slapped his club once more into his palm. “I’ll have a word with the guards, I will. We don’t need their kind in here. The temple marketplace should be safe for priestesses.”  He peered at her. “Seen you here before, I have. You won’t warn your friends not to come?”
Eliana’s smile trembled nearly as much as her knees. She saw no need to correct his assumption that she was a priestess. “I’ll tell everyone I know of your bravery and how you rescued me from…” She shuddered, unable to contemplate exactly what she’d been rescued from at the hands of those crude men. Something terrible, for certain.
He jerked a satisfied nod. “That’s alright, then.”
The farmer smiled, tiny lines deepening around his kind eyes. He was tall and trim with muscular arms evident beneath a loose-fitting shirt the color of mature wheat. A plain strip of leather at the base of his neck secured dark hair sprinkled lightly with silver.
She looked toward the alley’s entrance. “Thank you again. I should go.” The thought of leaving the safety these men provided set her pulse racing once again. Were the two ruffians out of sight, waiting for her to leave her rescuers’ company?
The man followed her gaze. “If you’re returning to the temple, I’ll go with you.”
Relief flooded her. She didn’t trust her voice, but accepted his offer with a nod.
He turned to the animal keeper and gestured toward the cage. “About that bird. I’ll need to check with my father concerning the expense.”
“My supplier leaves in six days. I don’t know when he’ll make another trip.”
The farmer dipped his forehead. “Then I will return in five.”
The shop owner waved a hand in dismissal, and with a final smile in her direction, disappeared into his shop. When he was out of sight, the handsome stranger watched the bird smooth the colorful feathers that covered its wing, an unreadable expression on his face. Wistful, maybe? Or merely secretive?
His expression cleared, and he gestured toward the market square’s main walkway. “Shall we?”
Eliana fell in step beside him. His arms swung at his sides with an easy grace as he walked. She had to hurry to keep up with his long-legged gait.
“I heard you mention that your father is a bird collector.” Her mouth snapped shut on the last word. She’d just given herself away as an eavesdropper.
He seemed not to notice. “Not really, though he is keenly interested in animals of all kinds, especially those from distant lands.”
“Is he a breeder, then?”
“Not exactly.” For one moment, his lips twitched with a secret. “My father is a simple farmer, as are I and my two brothers. He’s also something of a carpenter.” He pulled up short as they approached the end of the alley, and turned to face her. “I’ve not introduced myself. Forgive me. I am Shem de Noah, eldest son of Noah and Midian.”
He executed a formal half-bow and gave her an expectant look.
Eliana tore her gaze from his face. How should she identify herself, her parentage? Hadn’t Girta warned her more than once against telling anyone who she was? She avoided his eyes. The crowd on the marketplace walkways had dwindled to a handful of shoppers who hurried past. The two men she feared were not in sight. Maybe she should forgo the introduction and make a hasty exit.
One look into his warm gray eyes and her desire to part this man’s company dissolved. Her father’s name was a common one. Perhaps Shem wouldn’t make the connection to the famous man who was, after all, a complete stranger to her.
She mimicked Shem’s bow. “I am Eliana de Ashbel.” She left off the traditional identification of her maternal parent. There was, after all, only one Liadan. The name was recognized the world over.
His features did not change as he nodded. “I thought so. You’re the primogenitor, the heiress to the high priestess. I saw you on the dais this morning, behind your mother.”
A quick breath hissed as it entered her lungs. She hadn’t needed to identify her mother. Of course he would recognize the name of the former governor of Cainlan, and make the connection. She’d been foolish to think otherwise. Girta would be beyond furious that she had revealed her identity to a stranger after promising faithfully never to do so.
“I—I shouldn’t have stayed so long.” She edged sideways, toward the temple. “Thank you for helping me.”
“Why are you frightened?” Shem’s outstretched hand hovered in the air between them. “You have nothing to fear from me. I promised to see you safely home, and I will keep my word.”
The entreaty in his voice stopped her. Unlike the two who had frightened her in the alley, no hidden intentions lurked in Shem’s face. He would not harm her. She relented and allowed him to walk beside her.
In silence they traveled the wide path toward the temple. A pair of uniformed guardsmen appeared on the walkway in front of them, their faces lighting with recognition when they caught sight of her. One straightened, his shoulders back in an almost-salute, but the other merely dipped his head in a silent greeting as they passed. Eliana did not acknowledge them, but Shem returned the gesture with a pleasant nod of his own.
When the side entryway through which Eliana had escaped earlier came into view, Shem’s step slowed.
“Can you stay a moment and talk?” He gestured toward an empty bench near the tall hedge that bordered the temple gardens. “I’ve some time before I meet my friend.”
Eliana glanced at the position of the sun. She really should return to her rooms. Yet something about this man intrigued her. What harm was there in a moment or two’s delay?
“Girta won’t raise the alarm quite this soon.” She crossed the cobbled path and perched on the iron seat.
Shem joined her. “I never expected to see the primogenitor alone in the marketplace. With a flock of protective priestesses or temple guards in tow, perhaps, but not alone.”
“No one knows I’m here.” Their immediate surroundings were vacant, with no one to overhear her confession. “I slipped away just before the end of the morning ceremony.” She almost added, as you did.
“And is Girta a priestess, then?”
“Oh no, she’s my nursemaid. Or—” She fought a blush, embarrassed to have him think she still needed nursing. “—she was my nursemaid, from the day I was born. Now she’s my maid, but she still treats me like I crawled out of the cradle yesterday. She worries that someone will try to steal me away.”
The moment the words were spoken, an ugly realization struck her. Apparently Girta’s fears were not unfounded. That is exactly what nearly happened.
Shem nodded, his expression solemn. “The heir to the high priestess of Cain could command a high price in some quarters. That aside, the city is full of unscrupulous men who would take advantage of a beautiful young woman, no matter what her position may be. You should be more cautious.”
Eliana hid her delight in his compliment by brushing a piece of dried grass from the hem of her silky gown. Did he find her beautiful? When she’d regained her composure, she settled against the back of the bench. In the distance, from the direction of the temple stables, the clang of metal played a rhythmic accompaniment to the low murmur of barely audible shoppers’ voices. “Tell me of your father’s farm. Is it near the city?”
“No, we live to the west of here.”
The temple rested on the northern edge of Cainlan, with the city sprawling outward from its protected gates on three sides. The window of Eliana’s room looked westward upon the city’s narrow streets, crowded with dwellings and packed with people and animals. No farmland lay beyond the city’s edge in that direction, only a barren ribbon of land, and beyond that, a deep canopy of green. “Your farm is in the forest?”
“Just beyond, a half-day’s journey by wagon.”
“Wagon?” She gave a small laugh. “Not many people travel by wagon these days.”
Secrets appeared again in the smoky eyes. “No doubt we’re a little backward by modern standards. My father isn’t fond of landriders, or the energy that runs them.”
Eliana looked away, embarrassed. Perhaps Shem’s family was poor, and couldn’t afford a rider, or the energy cartridges to power it.
She searched for a topic to distract him from her ill-mannered comment. “Tell me of your home. I’ve never seen a real farm, only the lands that surround Cainlan. Girta tells me they’re not proper farms, like the ones where her people used to live in the south.”
Shem extended his long legs and folded his arms behind his head as he described his home. He spoke of working the fields and harvesting produce, of his love for animals, and his favorite exotic birds. He possessed a passion for feathered creatures that surpassed his father’s. Enthralled, she listened as he detailed the ways to care for captive birds, of their strict dietary requirements and the importance of providing an atmosphere free from stress.
Long before Eliana tired of listening, a piercing signal blasted from the Cabinet of Energy building to mark the hour.
He straightened abruptly. “I am late. I’ve delayed you much longer than I realized.”
Disappointment sank through her, but Girta must have noticed her absence by now, and begun to worry. Even worse, what if the high priestess had summoned her daughter to reprimand her for leaving the morning ceremony early, and no one knew where to find her?
That thought sent Eliana scrambling to her feet. “I’ve enjoyed meeting you, Shem de Noah. Perhaps we can talk again sometime.”
He shaded his eyes with a hand as he stood. “I hope so. Sometimes my wife comes to the city with me, and I think she would enjoy talking with you as well.”
His wife? She struggled to school her features against a wash of disappointment. The term told her much. Followers of the One God joined in marriage for life instead of forming normal marital alliances. For some reason, she found his admission that he practiced this old-fashioned custom oddly embarrassing. “Of course. I’d… like to meet her.”
The proper thing to say, though untrue.
He ducked his head in an invitation to force her to look up, into his face. Smiling gray eyes peered deeply into hers. “I hope we meet again, Eliana. I will add you to my daily prayers, and ask the One God to watch over you.”
Blood surged through her veins to roar in her ears. What daring, to mention the One God to the daughter of the high priestess of Cain. Was this man a fanatic, then?
With a final sideways grin, as though fully aware of the lapse he’d just committed, his fingers touched his forehead and he strode away.
Eliana cracked the door wide enough to slip through. Just before she pulled the heavy iron latch closed, she glanced at his retreating back. Amazing that she, the primogenitor, would meet a follower of the One God in the very shadow of the temple dedicated to the service of Cain.
Now she knew two who practiced that outdated religion.

Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore

Critical Pursuit



Officer Brinna Caruso has built a reputation at the precinct as the cop to call when a child goes missing. For Brinna, it’s personal because she was once one of them. Brinna and her K-9 search and rescue dog, Hero, will stop at nothing to find a missing child, no matter the stakes.

Detective Jack O’Reilly isn’t ready to return to his homicide duties, after losing his wife to a drunk driver. He’s on the downside of his career, and bent on revenge, when he’s assigned as Brinna’s partner. While on patrol, Jack struggles between his quest for personal justice and his responsibility to those around him, especially his partner.

Skeptical of Jack’s motives, Brinna isn’t sure she can rely on her new partner, whose reckless abandon endangers the safety of those around him. But when a man surfaces with an MO similar to the criminal who abducted Brinna twenty years earlier, Brinna and Jack must cast aside previous judgments and combine efforts to catch the kidnapper, and finally allow Brinna the peace stolen from her as a child.

I love this book, it is a really, really great read! Brinna has a love for her work and her K9 search dog, and she is driven to find any missing child, no matter what. When Jack O’Reilly is assigned as her partner, she’s just not sure how things will be because of the struggles he’s had in his personal life.
Janice Cantore takes readers on a journey with two different people who are struggling with their past. Jack lost his wife to a drunk driver and can’t seem to go on with his life, or his relationship with God. Brinna’s job is her entire life because she was once one of the missing children she is now searching for, and she can think of nothing else but what she can do to find them. Despite what Jack and Brinna think, working together might be just what they need to open their eyes to the rest of the world. Ms. Cantore does a great job of creating characters and developing them throughout the story, causing them to steal their way into the hearts of readers! I really like Brinna and Jack and I read this book in one day, because I had to find out what would happen with them! This is a must read for those who enjoy suspense and cop stories. You will not be disappointed!
I received this book from Tyndale House 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 Cantore

Janice Cantore

Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. Her Pacific Coast Justice series has met with critical acclaim. Critical Pursuit is the first book in her latest series.

Visit Janice’s website at and connect with her on Facebook.

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FIRST Wild Card Tours presents The Road Home by Patrick E. Craig

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:
Patrick E. Craig
and the book:
The Road Home
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in northern California and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.


Author Patrick Craig continues the story of Jenny Springer, the child rescued in A Quilt for Jenna. Now an adult, Jenny begins a search for her long-last parents. As she opens doors to her past, she finds the truly surprising answer to her deepest questions.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Series: Apple Creek Dreams Series

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736951075

ISBN-13: 978-0736951074


 “Du Schlecht’r!”“Jenny Springer! You should not say such bad words! You should be ashamed.”

Jenny’s face burned as she reached behind the quilting frame with her left hand and pushed the errant needle through the quilt to complete her stitch. The finger of her other hand, showing a tiny red drop where she had pricked herself, went into her mouth. She stared angrily at the quilt she was working on. The design was awkward, and the edges of the pattern pieces were puckered where she had attempted to sew them together.

“Oh, Mama, I will never, ever be a quilter like you. I just can’t do it.”

Her mother’s shocked expression softened somewhat, and she put her arm around the girl’s shoulder. “Quilting is a gift from God, and it’s true that you don’t yet seem to have the eye for it. But you’re gifted in so many other ways. Don’t be disheartened. Sometimes you’re a little eigensinnig und ungeduldig, and these qualities do not fit well with quilting. You must learn to still your heart and calm the stream of thoughts rushing through your head.”

Jenny reached behind her head and rubbed her neck. She took a deep breath and stuck the needle back into the pincushion with finality.

“I need to stop for a bit, Mama. This quilt is making me vereitelt!”

Even in her present state, Jenny was a lovely girl of nearly twenty. Her reddish gold hair framed a strong brow and deep violet eyes that could flash with annoyance in an instant or radiate the most loving kindness a moment later.

Jerusha Springer reached down and enfolded Jenny in her arms. “Sie sind meine geliebte dochter,” Jerusha whispered softly into the curls that refused to be controlled by the heavy hairpins and happily tumbled out from under the slightly askew black kappe on Jenny’s head. Jenny turned on her stool, and her arms crept around her mother’s waist. She held on as though she would never let go.

“Are you ever sorry that you got me instead of Jenna, Mama?” Jenny whispered.

Jerusha paused before replying. “I was given Jenna, and then I was given you, my dearest. Jenna was a wonderful little girl, and your papa and I were blessed beyond measure by having her. When she died, we didn’t know how we would ever go on with our lives. But God in His mercy sent us a wonderful child to fill the emptiness in our hearts. That child was you. Sorry? No, my darling, I will never be sorry that you came to us. There will always be a place in my heart for Jenna, but now I have you to love and hold. I couldn’t hope for a better dochter.”

Jenny clung even tighter to her mother. Her mother’s arms had always been a safe haven for her since the day Jerusha rescued her from the great snowstorm so many years ago. Jerusha had kept Jenny alive by holding the child next to her heart all through the long nights until Papa and Uncle Bobby had rescued them. That was the earliest memory Jenny had of her mother. The calm, steady beat of her mother’s heart comforted her, and it was always in this place of refuge and life that she felt the most secure. But today, even in her mother’s arms, she couldn’t still the turmoil in her heart. She pulled away from Jerusha and began to talk in a rush.

“Mama, don’t you ever wonder where I came from and who my birth mother was? Maybe I’m the daughter of criminals or murderers. Maybe there’s a bad seed in me that will come out someday. It makes me afraid sometimes.”

Jerusha stroked her daughter’s hair. “There are some things we can never know, and you must not worry or fret about them. ‘Be careful for nothing—’ ”

“I know, I know, Mama, but sometimes I do worry. I would never want to do anything that would bring shame on you or Papa. But sometimes I think that I’ll never find real peace until I know…and yet that’s impossible.”

Jenny released her grip on her mother and grabbed up a scrap of material. She wiped another drop of blood from her finger, crumpled the cloth, and threw it down.

Jerusha took a breath and then answered. “You are so standhaft in all your ways. Many times your papa and I have had to pick you up and dust you off when you went too far. But that same quality has helped you to overcome difficulties. The accomplishments in your life are proof of that.”

Jerusha reached over and softly stroked Jenny’s cheek. “You’re a gut student. No one in our community has such a grasp of the history of our people as you do. Someday you will be a teacher who can pass down to your children the things that keep the Amish separate and distinct from the world.”

Jenny looked away and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t think I will ever have children, Mama.”

Jerusha stiffened, and a fleeting frown passed over her face. “Why not, my darling?” she asked quietly.

“I don’t think any man could put up with me, for one thing, and for another, I think I’m just too independent. I’m not sure I could ever submit to a husband ruling over me.”

Jerusha’s mouth tightened slightly. “If I were true to our ordnung, I would tell you what my grandmother told me when I was a girl, and insist that you follow it,” Jerusha said. “She used to say that marriage is not built first on love but on the needs of our community and our faith.”

“But, Mama…” Jenny said.

“Let me finish, dochter,” Jerusha said quietly. “I loved your father very much before we were married, and someday that may happen for you. You’ll meet a man whom you will love so deeply that you will gladly surrender everything of yourself into his care and protection. I used to be so bound up in my quilting that I thought there was no room in my life for love or marriage. But the first time I looked into your father’s eyes, I was lost forever.” Jerusha’s face softened, and she smiled at a secret memory.

“Why, Mama! You’re blushing,” Jenny laughed. “I can understand why you lost your heart to Papa. He’s a handsome man.”

“Did I hear someone talking about me?” Reuben Springer came into the room. His face was stern, but there was a smile behind his eyes.

“Papa!” Jenny broke free from her mother and ran to her daed.

Reuben took the girl into his arms. “This is always the best part of my day, when I come home to my girls,” he said as he kissed his daughter on the forehead. “I used to have to bend down so far to reach you. Now you’re all grown up.”

Jerusha smiled at him, a tinge of pink in her cheeks.

“I can still make you blush, eh, Mrs. Springer?” he asked.

Jerusha turned away with a reluctant smile.

A frown passed over Jenny’s face like a small dark cloud, and her father noticed it.

“What is it, dochter?”

“Jenny was asking me about her birth parents,” Jerusha said. “Not knowing about her past troubles her.”

“Jenny, you mustn’t concern yourself with things that can’t be known,” Reuben said. “When your mother found you, there was no identification or any means to discover who you were. The police found a man’s body in Jepson’s pond the next spring, but he had been in the water far too long to make a clear identification. The car was stolen in New York, so there was no way to trace the man. You must be content with the wisdom of God. He sent you to us because He knew you needed us and we needed you. That’s all we need to know.”

“But, Papa, sometimes I feel like a stranger, as if I don’t really belong here.” Jenny saw the pain in her father’s eyes and stopped. “I’m sorry, Papa. I didn’t mean it exactly that way. I don’t know why it’s so important to me to find out these things, but it is. Sometimes I think I’ll never be who I’m supposed to be until I find out who I really am. It doesn’t help that I’m so stubborn.”

“Your Mama was just as stubborn when I first met her,” Reuben said. “Even twenty-four years later, I feel the sting on my face where she slapped me the first time I kissed her.”

“Husband!” Jerusha exclaimed as her cheeks once again turned rosy pink.

Reuben smiled at his wife and then looked at Jenny. His voice took a sterner tone. “Your mama has changed over the years, and you will change too. For the good of our family, you must put these things out of your mind.”

Jenny felt a small flash of anger at her father’s words. She wanted to speak but wisely stayed silent. Then she decided to take a different approach.

“Papa, maybe if I did know, I could be more peaceful inside and not be so much trouble for you and Mama. Maybe if you helped me to find my birth parents I could be a better dochter to you and—”

Jenny’s papa stiffened at her words. “Jenny, I love you very much, but I am still the head of our home, and until you’re married and under the care of your husband, I will decide what’s best for you. There’s much in the world that you’re too young to understand. God has entrusted me with your care and safety for a good reason. The man you were with may have been your father, or he may not, but judging by what the police found in the car, he was not a good man. There were drugs and alcohol—”

“But what if he wasn’t my father and he just kidnapped me or—”

“Dochter! That’s enough! I know what’s best for you. Asking questions that can’t be answered will only cause you heartache and sorrow. I want you to put these wild ideas behind you. We will not discuss this further!”

Jenny stared at her father, and he stared back at her. She started to speak, but her mother placed her hand on Jenny’s arm and squeezed a warning. “Your father is right, Jenny. You must listen to him and obey. Now, is anyone hungry, or should we go on working on this quilt?”

Jenny took a deep breath, looked at her masterpiece, and smiled ruefully. The star design she had labored over for so many hours was crooked and wrinkled, and the colors she had chosen clashed.

“I think we’d better have dinner, Mama. I don’t think there’s anything I can do to fix this mess.”

“Well, let’s go then,” Reuben said. “I need kindling for the stove, and Jenny can go out and close in the chickens.”

“All right, Papa,” Jenny said, still stinging from Reuben’s rebuke. “Do I need to bring in any milch, Mama?”

“Yes, dear,” Jerusha said, “there’s some fresh in the cooling house.”

When Jenny had banged out the back door, Jerusha turned to Reuben. “She’s so impetuous. I worry there’ll come a time when she crashes into a predicament we can’t get her out of. But you must not be so hard on her. She’s still young.”

“I know. But young or not, her curiosity worries me,” Reuben said. “She’s headed for disappointment if she keeps searching for answers that don’t exist. I want to keep her from that as long as I can.”

Jerusha nodded. “I want her to be happy, but in my heart I’m afraid that if she does somehow find her birth parents, she’ll want to be with them more than with us. And their way would be so different from ours. The world out there is filled with danger, and I don’t know if she would be able to understand it. I’m afraid for her, Reuben.”

“I’m afraid for her too, Jerusha,” he said quietly, taking his wife in his arms. “And that’s why I want her to forget about her past. I’m trying hard not to crush her spirit, but the girl doesn’t think things through. She thinks she’s all grown up, but she still has many kindisch ways about her. There may soon come a day when she goes her own way, and the thought of what she might choose…”

Jerusha felt a momentary chill grip her heart, and she pulled herself deeper into the circle of Reuben’s arms.

CFBA Presents Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivendara

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Shades of Mercy

River North; New Edition edition (September 1, 2013)


Anita Lustrea
Caryn Rivendara

Authentic. That’s the word heard over and over when women describe Anita Lustrea. She is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats, and an amazing communicator as co-host of the award winning Midday Connection radio broadcast. Her deep desire is to communicate freedom to women and help them nurture and care for their soul.

Anita is the co-author of “Come to Our Table: A Midday Connection Cookbook” and “Daily Seeds from Women Who Walk in Faith”, a Devotional for women. Her first solo venture as an author releases in November, 2010, “What Women Tell Me: finding freedom from the secrets we keep.”

Anita and her husband, Mike Murphy, a pastor, along with her teenage son John live in the Chicago suburbs. When she’s not traveling or speaking, you can find her reading and drinking a venti hot tea at her local Starbucks.


Caryn is a sought-after writer and speaker. She’s the author of four books—Shades of Mercy: A Maine Chronicle (River North, September 2013), Known & Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms (Revell, April 2013), Grumble Hallelujah (Tyndale House, September 2011), and Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. (WaterBrook Press, March 2009)–and a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.Meneutics as well as columnist for Re:Frame Media’s ThinkChristian blog. She has written dozens of magazine article. Her work has appeared in such publications as Christianity Today, Relevant, FamilyLife, and Engineering and Mining Journal (you read that right).

Caryn leads workshops and speaks at conferences and church groups across the country. She’s also a regular guest on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt and has been featured on such radio shows as The John and Kathy Show, Changing Worldviews/WOMANTalk with Sharon Hughes, I Thought She Said with Faith Daly, The Paul Edwards Program with Paul Edwards, and Talk from the Heart with Rich Buhler, among many others. Caryn also appeared on The Harvest Show.

Caryn earned a B.A. in English from Calvin College and attended the University of Chicago’s publishing program. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Rafael, her three kids, a rescued pit bull terrier, two hermit crabs, and several tank fulls of who-knows-what-kind-of fish. Caryn and her family are members of Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Illinois, where Caryn recently joined the worship staff.

It’s 1954 and the world-even the far Northwoods of Maine-is about to change. But that change can’t happen soon enough for fourteen-year-old Mercy Millar. Long tired of being the “son” her father never had, Mercy’s ready for the world to embrace her as the young woman she is-as well as embrace the forbidden love she feels.
When childhood playmates grow up and fall in love, the whole community celebrates. But in the case of Mercy and Mick, there would be no celebration. Instead their relationship must stay hidden. Good girls do not date young men from the Maliseet tribe. At least, not in Watsonville, Maine. When racial tensions escalate and Mick is thrown in jail under suspicion of murder, Mercy nearly loses all hope-in love, in her father, and in God himself.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shades of Mercy, go HERE.

KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible….Published by Zondervan

KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible….Published by Zondervan

KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible….

Published by Zondervan


Book Description

Homeschooling mothers will be encouraged by heartfelt, practical readings from the 365 devotions this KJV Bible offers.

This hardcover KJV Bible offers 365 encouraging devotions for moms who educate their children at home. Homeschooling mothers will be encouraged by heartfelt, practical readings that cover topics such as avoiding burnout, staying focused and committed, navigating the needs of toddlers, setting boundaries, and, most importantly, maintaining proper soul care while juggling educational and household responsibilities.

Features include:

  • 365 daily meditations with prayers written by Janet Tatman, a veteran homeschooling mother with more than 25 years of experience homeschooling
  • The full text of the classic King James Version (KJV) Bible
  • Foreword from Vickie Farris, author, homeschool mom, and wife of Michael Farris, founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association
  • Topical index


My Review………….This Bible with designed for mom’s that home school their children. This is the original King James Version of the Bible, and the devotions are written to encourage home school moms. I think this is really neat because there is a devotion for every day of the year, and they are all dated. Most devotional Bibles have many devotions, but not for every single day. The devotions are not long at all, just one page, and can be read in a few minutes. There are many topics covered here, and all are related to home schooling in some way. The cover is very appealing and eye-catching and the colors are beautiful.

I was really impressed with this new and different Bible. This is the first one I have seen just for those mom’s who home school their children. A lot of encouragement and support can be found in the devotions, which I think would help in reading through the Bible. So…if you are a home school mom, then I think this Bible is a must for you. You will be so pleased that you tried this one.

I received this book from the publisher Thomas
Nelson through their blogging program, BookSneeze, 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.


NIV Worship Together Bible from Booksneeze and Zondervan

NIV Worship Together Bible

Discover Scripture through Classic and Contemporary Musin, by Zondervan

  • NIV Worship Together Bible Discover Scripture through Classic and Contemporary Music

  • Published by Zondervan

Worshiping God is one of the believer’s highest callings. Music and song have been a timeless way to glorify God throughout history. Scripture itself is full of musical and poetic praises dedicated to the Lord. Using a unique combination of songs and reflections, the NIV Worship Together Bible blends modern-day worship and culture with the beloved Word of God. This Bible helps you embrace God as your loving Father and shows you how to exalt him through song and reflection. The musical inspiration in this Bible will remind you of the importance of constantly striving to be Christlike. As Pastor Jack Hayford, the author of the song “Majesty,” once put it: “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped.”


  • The complete text of the world’s most popular modern-English Bible, the NIV
  • Lyrics to the top 50 worship songs
  • Song notes and reflections from the songwriters
  • Simple chord charts for the Top 20 worship songs
  • Essay that explores the purpose and history of worship music
  • Foreword by Matt Maher
  • Index to organize songs by scriptural reference

Here is what I think!

I love this Bible, because I love Worship Songs and enjoy singing them as I worship. The idea of having the songs throughout this Bible is awesome for me, and I also enjoy the Behind the Songs page as well. The songs mean so much more when you know why they are written, and its all here together in this wonderful Bible. The Hardcover Bible is beautiful, with calming and pleasing colors, inviting you to always read Gods Word.

If you enjoy Worship Songs while you are reading the Bible, then you will really enjoy this one. I encourage you to pick up a copy and see for yourself. I received this book from the publisher Thomas Nelson through their blogging program, BookSneeze, 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.

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