Tag Archives: historical romance

High-Wire Heartbreak Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: High-Wire Heartbreak

Author: Anna Schmidt

Genre: Christian/Romance/History

Release date: January 1, 2022

In 1936–A party at the Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, leads to a robbery–and possibly death.

A successful historical mystery writer, Chloe Whitfield comes to Ca’ d’Zan to research her next novel. Chloe’s fascination with the circus is rooted in family stories of her great-grandmother Lucinda Conroy, who reportedly was a trapeze artist of some renown. She’s heard hints of scandal—and perhaps larceny, but no details.

Chloe’s grandmother—rumored to be Lucinda’s only offspring—was raised in an orphanage and never knew her mother. Intrigued as she is, Chloe has no intent of writing about Lucinda until she sees a poster featuring Lucinda as the star performer for a 70th birthday gala for John Ringling in May of 1936. From there the trail goes cold.

Who was Lucinda and what happened to her?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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

More from Anna

It’s hard to split time living between Wisconsin and Sarasota Florida and NOT get caught up in the circus world! The Ringlings are icons in Sarasota where a LOT of things are named for them! But the five circus brothers got their start right here in Wisconsin. So, when the opportunity to create a story for DOORS TO THE PAST came my way, it was pretty much a no-brainer that I would go with John and Mable Ringling’s incredible home, Ca ‘d Zan as the setting. Then somehow, I stumbled on this picture:

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and I knew she was my character of Lucinda, the trapeze artist whose story would drive my novel. I hope you fall in love with her—and Chloe—as I did, and most of all I hope you’ll be in touch to let me know what you thought at http://booksbyanna.com.

HAPPY READING and all best wishes, Anna

My Review

For a writer, she was suddenly bereft of words to say how much she liked that idea—liked the whole idea of a rest-of-my-life kind of love.

There is a reason that I love a good series like Doors to the Past. Once I begin a series, I feel a need to read it in its entirety, even if the books are stand-alones, as is the case here. Otherwise, I would never have picked up High-Wire Heartbreak because if I’m being honest, nothing about the circus has ever interested me. Thus I was admittedly a bit dubious, especially given that Anna Schmidt is also an author whose work I haven’t previously read. However, I am impressed by this tale of romance, heartbreak, and the echoes of history.

Told in the alternating third-person viewpoints of Lucy in 1936 and Chloe in 2022, High-Wire Heartbreak by Anna Schmidt gives readers a fictional glimpse into the Ringling Circus and its star trapeze artist, Lucinda Conroy, contrasted with a present-day bestselling historical mystery author, Chloe Whitfield. The stories intersect at Ca’ d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, where Chloe is working on her next novel and exploring her grandmother’s connection to Lucinda. As the storylines dovetail, the scandal that overhangs the past becomes increasingly intriguing to Chloe. With the advent of genealogy sites and resources that have become available in recent years, ancestry, in my opinion, provides a fascinating basis not only for reference but also for connecting with relatives from around the world.

A novel with elements that will appeal to readers of various genres, High-Wire Heartbreak speaks to those who admire resiliency and the strength to trust God despite scandal, rejection, and self-doubt. Despite not caring for her character much at first, overall I found Tilda to be a surprise, a testament to what using one’s own God-given skills and talents can accomplish. This story highlights the need for us to encourage and care about others, whether they are our friends or not. Schmidt’s description of Chloe at one pivotal point in the plot demonstrates this: “Chloe’s heart went out to her, and she decided she would do her best to make sure Tilda was a success on her own terms for a change.” Sometimes that is all a person needs to shift their attitude or behavior, and even to even to solve a decades-old mystery!

For fans of split-time stories, Christian historical fiction, the circus and especially the trapeze, genealogy, and of course romance, High-Wire Heartbreak blends all of these elements beautifully. Schmidt brings together a surprising and unexpected plot resolution in which both the historical and the contemporary plotlines merge to form a lovely grand finale.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 25

Remembrancy, January 25

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 25 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 26

For the Love of Literature, January 26

Where Faith and Books Meet, January 26

Genesis 5020, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 27

Inklings and notions, January 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 28

Austen’s Angle: Jane Austen’s Influence in Modern America, January 29

For Him and My Family, January 29

Rebecca Tews, January 29

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 30

deb’s Book Review, January 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 31

Wishful Endings, January 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Bizwings Blog, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, February 1

Older & Smarter?, February 2

Connie’s History Classroom, February 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 3 (Spotlight)

Bigreadersite, February 3

Blogging with Carol, February 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 4

Life of Literature, February 4

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 5

Joannabair, February 5

Blossoms and Blessings, February 6

Pause for Tales, February 6

Labor Not in Vain, February 6

Splashes of Joy, February 7

Through the Fire Blogs, February 7

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Anna is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and paper copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/186c0/high-wire-heartbreak-celebration-tour-giveaway

Elinor Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Elinor

Author: Shannon McNear

Genre: Christian/Historical/Romance

Release date: December 1, 2021

A Journey Full of Hope…
Escape into a riveting story based on the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Author Shannon McNear portrays history with vivid authenticity.

In 1587, Elinor White Dare sailed from England heavy with her first child but full of hopes. Her father, a renowned artist and experienced traveler, has convinced her and her bricklayer husband Ananias to make the journey to the New World. Land, they are promised, more goodly and beautiful than they can ever imagine. But nothing goes as planned from landing at the wrong location, to facing starvation, to the endless wait for help to arrive. And, beyond her comprehension, Elinor finds herself utterly alone. . . .
The colony at Roanoke disappeared into the shadows of history. But, what if one survived to leave a lasting legacy?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.

More from Shannon

Why did I write this story? Well, God shoved the opportunity under my nose, and I didn’t want to be guilty of taking the easy way out, by saying no. 😊

Really, while the concept was fascinating, the execution was daunting, and sometimes terrifying. The Elizabethan Era—before the King James Bible and even before Shakespeare was popular! As a student of the Revolutionary War and surrounding times, I felt very much out of my depth.

Though the research sucked me in, it was also daunting. Sifting through various interpretations of the primary accounts and their own speculations on why they felt things must have gone a certain way. Trying to “find” my story amongst all the theories and opinions. Above all, getting to know my characters and letting them come alive in my own imagination.

And come alive, they did—in full color, with a vividness I did not expect. I hope I was able to translate even a portion of what I envisioned to the page, so that you also can see them!

My Review

Even though I went into this book with high expectations based on the author’s previous works, Shannon McNear still exceeded my highest hopes with Elinor. From the moment that I first saw the subtitle denoting this as “Daughters of the Lost Colony 1587,” I knew that I had to read it. Something about that seemingly ill-fated Roanoke Colony fascinates me and never fails to draw me in. How exciting to have a Christian author approach the subject!

First, I would like to give kudos to McNear for undertaking what is currently such a contentious topic in the U.S., that of early American history and race relations. I encourage readers to peruse the author’s historical note following the story’s conclusion, as she addresses several potential concerns relating to culture, fact vs. fiction, and the resources that she employed in writing Elinor.  This novel is incredibly timely, and it does not seek to merely gloss over the painful events of white colonization of the New World. Instead, through ultimately focusing on three primary characters, John White, Elinor Dare, and Sees Far, this story explores how their collective journeys dovetail, and the implications thereof. The experience between the Native tribes and the previous explorers, for instance, establishes a precedent that impacts the colonists. Because of the inhumane overreaction and breach of trust of a group of prior English explorers, not all of the Native people welcome the white settlers, and in the words of Sees Far, “It was his people’s way—war and vengeance and the taking of captives. They did their best to exact justice but then were duty bound to accept what Montóac handed them. Whatever that looked like.” While reading and thinking about the wrong actions of both the English and the Natives, the many verses of the Bible that refer to the folly of doing what is right in our own eyes came to mind.

Divided into parts, the first three deal with the colonists’ ad hoc arrival, settlement, and subsequent dilemma at Roanoke, resulting in John White’s return to England for aid, while the last two sections comprise the fate of the colonists, as interpreted by McNear. While clean, Elinor does not romanticize the hardscrabble life of the New World. After a harrowing ocean voyage, Elinor voices to her husband Ananias the desire of the colonists: “I simply wish a place to call home.” Minister Nicholas Johnson shares some of the most memorable lines in the book, notably as Manteo receives his baptism into the Christian faith, reminding the congregants that surrendering entirely to Jesus is their calling: “Our place here in the New World means nothing if we do not both believe and live out that lordship. Our community will be for naught if we are not, first and foremost, a community of God, under God, believing what He has told us in His Word.” As is indicated by history, the colony of Roanoke likely faced serious challenges to their faith as they struggled to survive in the midst of trials.

Two Native tribes feature prominently in Elinor, the friendly Croatoan and the vengeance-seeking Secotan. Elinor finds herself amongst the latter, particularly Sees Far, and this is the most telling segment of the novel. I love that Elinor’s memorization of Scripture and ability to recall it and draw upon it is shown to be vital to her survival. McNear avoids idealizing the hostility between the two people groups, instead demonstrating how faith in Christ provides a stronghold and a refuge during dire circumstances. It is this expression of faith that confounds those who are not Christians and serves as a witness to the unbelieving. Even so, it is the power of God working within us to accomplish this, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). Humility is essential, as Elinor realizes while contemplating Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and the fact that He can use any situation and any person to draw someone to Himself, “Because surely the people of this country were, indeed, as dear to God as any of the English. How arrogant they were to think they alone had obtained His favor.” The same is true today. Moreover, another section of Nicholas Johnson’s sermon resonates strongly today and seems a fitting summary of the key message of Elinor, and of how we should all approach one another, because truly there is only one race, the human race:

Her Majesty the Queen may have had her own purpose for placing us here, as much for the glory of England as the glory of Christ, but we have our private purpose, that we demonstrate faith and love through our own conversation, in truth and simplicity. Let us not become divided over things that have no eternal weight. We have the freedom here to choose what to eat, where to go, and how to live. Let us not abuse that, but let us also walk in love toward each other.

An apt fictional exploration of the famous lost colony of Roanoke, Shannon McNear’s Elinor is a well-researched novel abounding in faith, hope, and ultimately love. It would be a wonderful choice for a book club discussion! Conveniently placed after the end of the story, in addition to the aforementioned historical note, is a bibliography, cast of characters, list of regions and people groups, definition of historical terms, and a glossary of Carolina Algonquian words.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 4

The Christian Fiction Girl, January 4

Joanna Bair, January 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 5

Rebecca Tews, January 5

For the Love of Literature, January 6

Remembrancy, January 6

Texas Book-aholic, January 7

Betti Mace, January 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 8

Inklings and notions, January 8

For Him and My Family, January 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 9

deb’s Book Review, January 10

Labor Not in Vain, January 10

Blogging With Carol, January 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 11

Connect in Fiction, January 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 12

To Everything There Is A Season, January 12

Mary Hake, January 12

Bizwings Blog, January 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 13

Connie’s History Classroom, January 14

Splashes of Joy, January 14

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 15 (Spotlight)

Sodbuster Living, January 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 16

Through the Fire Blogs, January 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 17

Pause for Tales, January 17

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/15d5e/elinor-celebration-tour-giveaway

Lost in Darkness Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Lost in Darkness

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: FICTION/ Christian/Romance

Release date: November 1, 2021

England, 1815

Amelia Balfour has one dream. . .to tour Egypt as a travel writer. But when her wish is finally within reach, her father dies, and her malformed brother Colin depends upon her to arrange for a revolutionary surgery. Amelia returns home, hoping he’ll recover before the ship sails for Cairo.
Former Navy surgeon Graham Lambert is sick—of travelling, loneliness, and especially the injustice of the world. Leaving behind the military, he partners with a renowned surgeon, the man who promises new life to Amelia’s brother.
But just as the operation begins, Graham suspects the surgeon is a fraud. After a botched procedure, Colin goes mad and escapes, terrorizing their neighbor, author Mary Godwin—planting the seed for her greatest creation, Frankenstein.
Can Amelia and Graham stop Colin before he destroys everyone in his path and find the tender soul still trapped inside…or will they be too late?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan.

More from Michelle

Are You a Monster Too?

“Look at that! The fattest girl in the class is the first one to get in line for a cupcake.”

Those words, spoken to me in junior high by a clueless boy, are forever seared into my memory. Just because I wasn’t a willowy stick-figure who didn’t match up to magazine covers, I was singled out. Made to feel ashamed. Made to feel like a monster.

Have you ever felt that way?

Chances are you have. We are all poked and prodded at some point in our lives…which brings up a few questions. How do you deal with the sometimes ugly perceptions with which others view you? How do you stop trying to prove your worth to others, when in their eyes you are somehow worthless? Why does God allow such hurtful things to happen anyway?

These are the questions I attempt to tackle in my new release, Lost in Darkness. And surprisingly enough, those are the very same issues contemplated in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Now hold on. Don’t go rolling your eyeballs quite yet—which is the usual response whenever Frankenstein is mentioned.

Most people’s conception of this great piece of literature has been forever ruined by Hollywood’s green creature. You know the one, the giant with bolts sticking out of his neck and a stiff-legged walk. So not true. The essence of Shelley’s “horror” story is instead about a creature who struggles with heartfelt needs that can only be met by his creator. In this story, Shelley respectfully handles the subject of what we owe our creator and what our creator’s responsibility is toward us as the created…the very same questions we all struggle with.

As does Colin Balfour, a man with a heart of gold and a face that causes children to scream. In Lost in Darkness, he hopes to undergo a life-changing surgery that will end his self-imposed isolation. But what really happens is a life change for his sister Amelia and the surgeon who tries to prevent it all from happening. For indeed, even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

My Review

Review to come! In the meantime, anything Michelle Griep writes is always a must-read, so be sure to enter the giveaway and/or order a copy for yourself or a friend for Christmas!

My rating:

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, November 29

Genesis 5020, November 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 29

The Write Escape, November 30

Betti Mace, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Remembrancy, December 1

Inklings and notions, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 2

Daysong Reflections, December 2

For Him and My Family, December 2

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 3

Bigreadersite, December 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 4

For the Love of Literature, December 4

SodbusterLiving, December 4

deb’s Book Review, December 5

Splashes of Joy, December 5

Back Porch Reads, December 5

Connie’s History Classroom, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 6

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 7

Through the fire blogs, December 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 8

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 8

Pause for Tales, December 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 9

Labor Not in Vain, December 9

To Everything There Is A Season, December 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, December 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 10

Truth and Grace HomeschoolAcademy, December 11

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 11 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 11

Rachael’s Inkwell, December 12

Blogging With Carol, December 12

Connect in Fiction, December 12

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/13cfd/lost-in-darkness-celebration-tour-giveaway

Behind Love’s Wall Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Behind Love’s Wall

Author: Carrie Fancett Pagels

Genre: FICTION/ Christian/Romance

Release date: November 1, 2021

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.

More from Carrie

Why I Wrote This Novel

I got a chance to write another novel set on Mackinac Island!!!

I’m the author of over twenty published stories. I have many books, both novel and novella length, set at the Straits of Mackinac including Maggie Award winner and Romantic Times Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. In the summer, I go up to the area and I’m blessed to sign books at the Island Bookstore—sometimes hundreds of books which is such an amazing thing I can’t tell you! Now that MHBoMI is out of print, Barbour has been helping by doing limited print runs for while I am up there.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island was originally part of a full series that I pitched but it didn’t get picked up for all three stories. MHBoMI got picked up as part of the My Heart Belongs series that Barbour put out a few years ago. The second book in my original Brides of Mackinac series was heroine Sadie’s story, which was published as a novella “His Anchor” in First Love Forever collection. So I had two of my book babies delivered out into the world and Lily’s story sat there for a while.

In the Covid summer of 2020, I arrived in my home state of Michigan and over dinner with a close friend I learned that the folks at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were having legal trouble with their previous long-time designed Carlton Varney suing them. I’d been disappointed that the Mussers, who’d owned the Grand for generations, had sold the hotel but this new development really bugged me. While I was in the Upper Peninsula, I finished an Indy book, Dogwood Plantation, which only figures since I often write my Michigan stories while I am in Virginia and vice versa! I knew the only other book I wanted to work on was to complete my Brides of Mackinac trilogy (not exactly since they aren’t all in one series!) with Lily’s story. I also had a manuscript about 70% done that was my very first contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. When my agent encouraged me to submit a Mackinac Island story set at the Grand Hotel to Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, I knew immediately that the only story for historical I wanted to write was Lily’s. That meant that I needed, for this dual-timeline series, a contemporary story. That wasn’t just a chance sharing at dinner—I believe the info about the lawsuit was meant to be passed on to me one of those God-incidences. My modern-day heroine then became an established resort designer who had a trunkful of issues just like Lily did.

Was I ever glad that I had finally written my first contemporary Women’s Fiction (Butterfly Cottage) because that skill set came in very handy in writing the modern-day 2020 story of Willa in Behind Love’s Wall! This was the most difficult novel to write that I have done so far as I write in character and going back and forth between the 1895 and 2020 timelines could be draining. I tried to write each character and setting on separate days but that couldn’t always be managed.

I pray that this story will touch readers’ hearts. I pray that someone, like the young waitress I meant on Mackinac Island who had been spiritually moved by My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (she read her grandmother’s copy after her grandma passed away!), will read this book and feel that connection to our Maker. That’s what Christian Fiction is all about!

My Review

Review coming soon!

My rating:

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 19

Cats in the Cradle Blog, November 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 19

Inklings and notions, November 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 20

For Him and My Family, November 21

Mary Hake, November 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

For the Love of Literature, November 22

deb’s Book Review, November 23

Betti Mace, November 23

Genesis 5020, November 23

Older & Smarter?, November 24

Remembrancy, November 24

Blossoms and Blessings, November 25

Stephanie’s life of determination, November 25

Connect in Fiction, November 25

Rebecca Tews, November 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 26

Through the fire blogs, November 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 27

Pause for Tales, November 27

Bigreadersite, November 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 28

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 28

Connie’s History Classroom, November 29

Bizwings Blog, November 29

Labor Not in Vain, November 29

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 30

To Everything There Is A Season, November 30

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 1

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen, December 1

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 1

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/137e9/behind-love-s-wall-celebration-tour-giveaway

Honor in the Mountain Refuge Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Honor in the Mountain Refuge

Author: Misty Beller

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: November 9, 2021

This epic journey is his last chance to start a new life.

After being cast out of his Blackfoot village for his kindness to the Nez Perce captives, Chogan travels west in search of meaning for his life. Meaning that doesn’t require killing or torturing innocent people. Though the lovely face of Telípe, a Nez Perce woman, is imprinted on his heart, he avoids her village. She deserves a happy life with her husband and coming child.

With her husband dead and the birth of her babe imminent, Telípe’s reality looks nothing like she planned. She’s been forced to return to the village where she grew up and the chaos of her family’s lodge—with all her boisterous younger brothers. She desperately desires to start a new life for herself and the babe growing within her, but she can’t seem to climb above the mire of her past. When she stumbles into the brave who’d shown her kindness during her captivity, something ignites within her—a new hope.

Chogan’s determination to stay and help Telípe is thwarted by her people’s fear and hatred for his tribe—especially since he was among last winter’s kidnappers. It doesn’t matter that he did everything he could to keep her and her unborn child safe and comfortable during that awful event. But as a new predator threatens the safety of the village, Chogan determines to take down the massive wildcat that’s already injured several children—including one of Telípe’s younger brothers. When the danger escalates, Chogan is faced with an impossible choice. No matter which option he chooses, his life will never be the same—nor that of the woman he’s come to love.

From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

More from Misty

When minor characters get their own story!

One of the things I love about writing in series is the chance for minor characters to become major characters, with fascinating lives and personalities of their own! The heroine in Honor in the Mountain Refuge, Telipe, first appeared in Light in the Mountain Sky as Meksem’s little sister who was kidnapped by a band of Blackfoot warriors. Even when I’m the writer, characters often surprise me by doing things very differently than what I expected!

Telipe did exactly that in one of the final scenes of that previous book. When Meksem and her friends showed up to rescue Telipe and the other captives, Telipe actually braced herself in front of one of one of her Blackfoot captors, stopping anyone from injuring him. Why would she do that?

In that book, Telipe only says that the man had been kind to her when the other warriors were not. I knew there HAD to be more though.

I pray you enjoy learning Telipe’s story as much as I did, including how that Blackfoot brave she protected shows up again in the most unexpected of places!

My Review

In this sixth book of the Call of the Rockies series, Misty Beller pens another engaging adventure. As with the prior books, Honor in the Mountain Refuge can be read as a stand-alone but continues the story of former characters and is best appreciated chronologically. Set in the Clearwater River Valley in the future Idaho Territory in the summer of 1831, this narrative follows Telipe, the Nez Perce half-sister of Meksem who was kidnapped by the Blackfoot in book 3, Light in the Mountain Sky. She has returned, pregnant, to her home village after the death of her husband, yearning for “her own life again, free from the pressure to wed a man she couldn’t even bring herself to like.” She misses her former life and finds it difficult to deal with the commotion of her younger brothers, but she doesn’t know where her future lies.

Feeling similarly displaced, Chogan has been disowned by his father and the Blackfoot tribe whose bloodthirst he has never shared. As one of Telipe’s former captors, he ensured her wellbeing, and when they encounter each other in the woods, Chogan wonders if he was led here for a reason. Telipe feels understandably unsettled about him: “He was such a mystery, this man. Enemy, yet friend. Fierce warrior, yet gentle and kind. Undecided, yet determined.” I think that this unlikely pair is a large part of the reason that I found Honor in the Mountain Refuge so compelling. There were a few times during my reading that I questioned the odds of certain circumstances happening, but then again, that is part of the point; sometimes we encounter impossible situations in order for the Lord to step in to achieve what only He can, and sometimes things happen to reveal to us the divine intervention at work behind them.

Beller creates a unique model of harmonious collaboration within Telipe’s village, one that reminds me of the body of Christ. Besides the indigenous Nez Perce tribe, there are interracial couples, trappers, and native Blackfeet. Telipe amusedly remarks to herself, “Conversation flowed freely among the group, sometimes in Nimiiputimpt, sometimes in English. And she couldn’t be certain, but it seemed like every so often, a bit of the French tongue slipped in. There was such a mix of nationalities and languages represented in this group that it was a wonder anyone could follow along. Often, Elan or Beaver tail would lean forward and translate something said into a language the rest could understand.” The first thing that came to mind while reading this description was the “great multitude” spoken of in Revelation 7:9. It is a beautiful depiction of what the church should be like here on earth, too, and it dovetails well with the faith journey of the main characters. When people see the peace and joy that our faith produces in us and experience the Lord working through us, they will be more inclined to seek the Savior.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 9

Texas Book-aholic, November 10

Inklings and notions, November 11

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 11

Splashes of Joy, November 12

For Him and My Family, November 12

lakesidelivingsite, November 13

deb’s Book Review, November 14

Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 15

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 15

Vicarious Living, November 16

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 16

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 17

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Connie’s History Classroom, November 18

Betti Mace, November 19

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 20

Blossoms and Blessings, November 20

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 21

Through the Fire blogs, November 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22

Pause for Tales, November 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/12f8d/honor-in-the-mountain-refuge-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Picture of Hope Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: A Picture of Hope

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: October, 2021

A Photojournalist Risks Her Life to Save Children

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing pilots taking off and landing—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. She enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they come upon an orphanage where nuns shelter children with disabilities. Can they help save them before the Nazis come to liquidate it?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

More from Liz

Why Another WWII Novel Set in France

You may well read the back cover of my latest release, A Picture of Hope, and wonder why on earth we need another WWII novel set in France. After all, Kristy Cambron just had one. Melanie Dobson and Sarah Sundin will be coming out with theirs in 2022. So why did I feel the need to write my novel with the same setting?

First of all, I’m a Francophile. I love all things French. It started when I took French in high school. Everyone else was learning Spanish, but I wasn’t into being part of the crowd. There were only a few of us in the class, and it was great fun. We had a wonderful teacher. Being able to pull out some of that French, refine it a bit, and use it in the book was a blast. But I also love French food (who doesn’t?) and everything else.

Secondly, I hadn’t written about France before. When I wrote this proposal at least five or six years ago, I didn’t know France would be so hot. God did, and the book came about in His perfect timing. I’d explored the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Philippines. Such a shame that I was leaving out France, so I set about to write a novel located in that country.

Thirdly, there was so much good material to pull from. The French resistance, while small, did good work and sacrificed a great deal to get Jews out of the country and into Switzerland or Spain. The books that Kristy, Melanie, Sarah, and I write are all so different. Only the setting is the same. And when I found out that the famous mime Marcel Marceau was part of the resistance, I couldn’t help but giving him a cameo. Be on the lookout!

Along the way, I discovered some truly heartrending incidents that took place in France. They also compelled me to write this book. I long for the world to remember what happened so that we will never forget. And so that the atrocities committed there will never be repeated.

Fourthly, this was originally the third book in a series. Don’t worry – it’s a stand-alone. Maybe someday I’ll get to publish the other two. The women in the series are all American journalists in Europe. One is a reporter, the other is a broadcaster, and so I decided to make Nellie, the heroine in A Picture of Hope, a photojournalist. And where better to take pictures than on Omaha Beach soon after D-day. How she gets there is based on a very interesting true story, so be sure to read to the end for that one.

There are so many stories about WWII to be told and so many countries that participated in the conflict in one way or the other. The ground is so rich that we aren’t plowing the same parcel. You’ll find all of these books to be very different from each other, each with its own message, its own voice, and its own plot.

The focus in my book is on children with Down syndrome. I have a background in special education, and my husband and I adopted a child from the Philippines with an intellectual disability, so I’ve always had a heart for people with special needs. My daughter brings us so much joy that I wanted to share a glimpse into what these remarkable people are truly capable of.

So that is why I wrote a WWII novel set in France. Make yourself a cup of café au lait, butter up a croissant, and enjoy A Picture of Hope!

My Review

For too long, too many had been silent. She had a chance to give voice to those who were helpless. She couldn’t allow it to pass.

Ever since doing a unit on Anne Frank in eighth grade, I have read about and studied the Holocaust. It’s difficult to describe why this horrific time in history speaks to me so much, except to say that the resiliency of those who endured and, in some cases, survived the horrors inflicted upon them inspires me to learn more and to make sure that their legacies are never forgotten. What seems so egregious and dangerous, sadly, is that as the remaining members of that generation pass away, the world appears ready to forego the painful lessons learned from the Nazi regime and travel down the same destructive path. This is why stories will always be important, to keep history alive alongside contemporary society, not to inhibit but to inform. A Picture of Hope by Liz Tolsma may be a work of fiction, but it’s based on the actions of real people and true events that occurred during the latter part of WWII.

What do you get when you take a female photojournalist, a French maquisard, and a war and mix them together? A riveting, heartbreaking, inspirational story that manages to be unique in a heavily-occupied genre. A Picture of Hope is truly distinctive to me for its focus on another group that Hitler was intent on eliminating: the disabled. I do not recall ever previously reading any stories or accounts that concentrated on the intellectually disabled—in this case, children with Down Syndrome. As photojournalist Nellie Wilkerson notes of Claire, “Every inch of dirt on the planet was stained with blood. With evil. Was there any good left anywhere? Perhaps only in the brown eyes of a Mongoloid girl.” (A note to sensitive readers: The author explains her careful and respectful choice to use the historically-accurate term Mongoloid in place of Down Syndrome at the very beginning of the book.) Having been friends, until he passed away, with an intellectually-disabled boy who was born one day before me, I can attest that these special individuals possess remarkable compassion and joy. Again, Nellie captures the essence of Claire: “From a disposable child to one who would inspire the entire world to care.

Many wonderful characters inhabit these pages. Nellie is eager to do all that she can for the Allies, and her reckless impatience leads her straight into trouble on more than one occasion. It also brings her to Jean-Paul Breslau, a maquisard of one of the rural guerrilla bands of French resistance fighters battling to wrest control of the country from Germany back into French hands. Jean-Paul’s training did not include how to deal with a rebellious, independent female, but a seminal figure in this story, Sister Maria-Theresa, assures him that “No matter what comes into our lives, God uses it in the best way for us. His ways and His plan are perfect. You will learn that in the coming days, though the lesson will be difficult.” Likewise, Nellie slowly begins coming to terms with the darkness of her childhood in America while simultaneously dealing with the challenges of her present, coming at last to the realization that “Perhaps there were those who were good in this world. Not good in and of themselves, but good because they reflected the light of Christ in the midst of this choking darkness.” As each of the characters moves forward through obstacles both personal and shared, what emerges is not only A Picture of Hope, but a testament of faith and a legacy of love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, October 28

Life of Literature, October 28

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 28

Genesis 5020, October 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29

The Book Chic Blog, October 29

Blogging With Carol, October 29

Texas Book-aholic, October 30

Sodbuster Living, October 30

Spoken from the Heart, October 30

Elly Gilbert, October 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 31

Inklings and notions, October 31

Labor Not in Vain, October 31

CarpeDiem, October 31

Splashes of Joy, November 1

Reviewingbooksplusmore, November 1

Life, love, writing, November 1

For Him and My Family, November 1

deb’s Book Review, November 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 2

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, November 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 3

Betti Mace, November 3

Worthy2Read, November 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 3

Daysong Reflections, November 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 4

Vicky Sluiter, November 4

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 4

Older & Smarter?, November 5

By the Book, November 5

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 5

Connie’s History Classroom, November 6

For the Love of Literature, November 6

Bigreadersite, November 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 6

Rebecca Tews, November 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 7

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, November 7

She Lives To Read, November 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, November 8

Pause for Tales, November 9

Christian Bookaholic, November 9

Through the Fire Blogs, November 9

To Everything There Is A Season , November 9

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 10

Mary Hake, November 10

Giveaway

A_Picture_of_Hope_Giveaway[1]

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of A Picture of Hope!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/12b83/a-picture-of-hope-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Warrior’s Heart Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: A Warrior’s Heart

Author: Misty M. Beller

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: August 31, 2021

Brielle Durand still feels haunted by the massacre that killed her mother a dozen years before. Vowing to never let it happen again, she’s risen to be the key defender for her people’s peace-loving French settlement living in hidden caves in the Canadian Rockies. When a foreigner wanders too near to their secret homes, she has no choice but to disarm and capture him. But now, what to do with this man who looks at her in a strange way and insists he can be trusted?

Hoping to escape past regrets, Evan MacManus ventured into the unknown, assigned to discover if the northern mountains contain an explosive mineral that might help America win the War of 1812. Despite being taken prisoner, Evan is determined to complete his mission. But when that assignment becomes at odds with his growing appreciation of the villagers and Brielle, does he follow through on the promise he’s made to his government or take a risk on the path his heart is leading him down? Either choice will cause harm to someone.

Brielle and Evan must reconcile the warring in their hearts, if they’ve any hope to find the peace the seek.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

More from Misty

A secret village living in hidden caves for a century…

One of the fun things about being a writer is letting your imagine run away with itself at times. In general, I’ve never considered myself a creative person. Not like my grandmother, who’s an amazing artist and decorator. She can look at something plain and normal and, with a little paint, create something truly beautiful.

But little by little, I’ve finally learned that just because I don’t feel creative like she is, I still have an imagination that can come up with intriguing ideas.

For example, I was listening to a historical podcast a few years ago that talked about the Vikings and the female warriors who would sometimes gain fame among them. As the hosts talked about the first Viking raids to North America, I started thinking… “What if one of those groups went farther west than any of us thought? What if they found the Rocky Mountains and lived there in a hidden community for centuries?” The thought took hold, and little by little, the idea for the Brides of Laurent series came to life.

I eventually changed the village to be a French settlement named Laurent. The village’s primary warrior was a woman named Brielle Durand, who’d worked hard to win her place as Le Commandant, leader of the Guards and Hunters. I love Brielle’s strength and wit, but also how real her personal struggles became as I wrote her character.

Add in a mountain man spy working for the United States government, and you have the secret for a romance with sparks to light up the mountain sky!

I pray you love A Warrior’s Heart, the first book in this new series. And keep an eye on some of the other characters in the book who might get their own stories soon!

Blessings!

Misty

My Review

Misty Beller has quickly become one of my favorite historical romance authors. I would not have thought that an author could pen so many books with similar settings, genres, and themes without falling into a rut or monotonous pattern, but Beller accomplishes this feat with aplomb. Each story is unique and uplifting, a glimpse into the nineteenth century and how romance and faith sustained the characters through hardship and heartache. Her latest novel, A Warrior’s Heart, truly stands out to me as one of the most intriguing, and my favorite to date, and it heralds the beginning of the Brides of Laurent series.

Set in the Rocky Mountains in Canada during the War of 1812, A Warrior’s Heart presents a world that sounds idyllic until a stranger enters and starts a ripple effect in the lives of its inhabitants. Native Scotsman and American Evan McManus is a man on a mission, looking for a specific mineral that the government believes will help them win this second war against the British, when he unwittingly stumbles upon a clandestine community and into the path of its capable lady warrior, Brielle Durand. With that fascinating premise, readers embark on an adventure of discovery, one which shatters stereotypes while creating a world not so far removed from our own in certain ways.

If I’m being honest, Laurent sounds like both a bit of a dream come true and a nightmare. I appreciate the detachment from the world at large and find myself wishing for that kind of self-sufficiency and for the well-being to continue. As Evan realizes, “Staying within these walls meant safety. In this land that was more treacherous than any he’d seen, these people had survived, and even thrived, because of the walls.” The thought of living in a space, likely without windows, hewn from rock, is unbearable to me, although I am impressed by the detail and planning of the homes and meeting structure and how everything is interconnected. Brielle notes that “Her people were peace-loving. They only wanted to remain completely on their own, invisible to the world except for the natives they traded with.” More and more in this current age, I find myself in agreement with this!

A few other aspects of the Laurent people captured my attention and stoked my interest, as well. The most obvious is Brielle’s unusual position as Le Commandant, leader of the guards and hunters. Her demeanor is difficult to decipher, and after she begins to reveal her emotions, she feels overwhelmed by all that she must do. When she doubts herself, Evan reassures her: “You excelled where you were gifted. That’s what all people who achieve great things have done. You leaned into your strength and accomplished feats few people would attempt.” The Laurent people’s fluency in three languages also breaks stereotypes of the native people of any land being simple-minded or uneducated.

Most precious of all is the faith element, which shines forth from both Evan and Brielle in spite of their seeming opposite natures early on. While I would have expected one or the other to have a stunted or even nonexistent faith, both characters exhibit faithfulness and godly compassion in their own way, and this bears fruit in their lives as the story unfolds. Just how far this harvest can reach will become evident when readers turn the final page of this inspiring new novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 30

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 30

An Author’s Take, September 30

Remembrancy, October 1

Bigreadersite, October 1

lakesidelivingsite, October 2

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 2

Joanna Bair, October 2

Inklings and notions, October 3

To Everything There Is A Season, October 3

Reviewingbooksplusmore, October 3

Wishful Endings, October 4

For Him and My Family, October 4

Mary Hake, October 4

deb’s Book Review, October 5

Life of Literature, October 5

Betti Mace, October 6

Blossoms and Blessings, October 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 6

Blessed & Bookish, October 7

Connie’s History Classroom, October 7

For the Love of Literature, October 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 8

Connect in Fiction, October 8

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 9

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 10

Through the Fire Blogs, October 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 10

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 11

Simple Harvest Reads, October 11 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, October 12

Pause for Tales, October 12

Live. Love. Read., October 12

Giveaway

7JV__snk

To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11dc9/a-warrior-s-heart-celebration-tour-giveaway

Undercurrent of Secrets Review and GIVEAWAY!

Undercurrent-of-Secrets[1]

About the Book

9781643529943-4-672x1024[1]

Book: Undercurrent of Secrets

Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: September 2021

Two women, a century apart, are bound by a haunting secret aboard a legendary steamboat.

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

As wedding coordinator for the 100-year-old steamboat The Belle of Louisville, Devyn Asbury takes pride in seeing others’ dreams come true, even though her engagement had sunk like a diamond ring to the bottom of the Ohio River. When the Belle becomes a finalist in the Timeless Wedding Venue contest, Devyn endeavors to secure the prestigious title with hopes to reclaim some of her professional dreams. What she hadn’t planned on was Chase Jones showing up with a mysterious photo from the 1920s.

A century earlier, Hattie Louis is as untamable as the rivers that raised her. As the adopted daughter of a steamboat captain, her duties range from the entertainment to cook. When strange incidents occur aboard the boat, Hattie’s determined to discover the truth. Even if that means getting under First Mate Jack Marshall’s handsome skin.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms. Her work is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency. Rachel resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.

More from Rachel

A Century on the River

In 1914, America hadn’t joined WWI yet. Airplanes, or flying machines as they were called, were still a phenomenon. Radios weren’t a thing. Hawaii and Alaska weren’t part of the United States. The world as a whole looked different than the one we walk today. But one thing remains true as it had 100 years ago—The Belle of Louisville graced the waters. In fact, the century-old steamboat is like a floating time capsule.

zFirst named the Idlewild, this boat was built in Pittsburgh, PA and was launched in October 1914. It began its days as a packet boat, hauling freight and ferrying passengers. During the ‘Roaring 20s’ there wasn’t much documentation for her travels. But it’s believed the Idlewild spent the decade tramping—a steamboat term for going up and down the river, stopping at various towns and taking passengers for excursions. Which worked perfectly for Undercurrent of Secrets.

The boat was then sold to New Orleans where it continued to ferry passengers. In 1931, The Idlewild spent a season in Louisville running trips to Rose Island and Fontaine Ferry amusement parks. It then spent the next several years coursing the waterways from Canada to New Orleans, living upon the Mississippi and Ohio river systems until WWII. The second world war brought a lot of action to the Idlewild which was then outfitted with special equipment to push oil barges along the river. She also served as a floating USO nightclub for troops stationed at military bases along the Mississippi River.

In 1947, she was sold and renamed the Avalon. For the next two decades the legendary lady spent her days along the rivers, hosting excursions, bringing adventure to the hearts of many Americans. But all those years and miles eventually caught up to her and she fell in disrepair. In 1962, she was put up for auction in Cincinnati where she was purchased by Jefferson County Judge Executive Marlow Cook for $34,000. She then received her third name, The Belle of Louisville.

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The restoration of the boat was supervised by marine architect Alan L. Bates (later Captain Bates). Capt. Bates’ books, Str. Belle of Louisville, and Moonlight at 8:30, were a huge help to me while researching the history of the boat and the crews who worked on her. The reno crew worked tirelessly rebuilding the Belle and on April 30th, she tested the waters again by racing against the Delta Queen in the first Great Steamboat Race. The Belle has been wharfed in Louisville ever since. This century-old steamboat has stood the test of time, surviving decades, sinkings, storms, weathering all the trials with grit and grace. If you ever find yourself in Louisville, you could book a cruise on the Belle and experience history.

My Review

Barbour Publishing’s Doors to the Past series just keeps getting better and better! Each standalone, dual-timeline story is penned by a different author and features a combination of romance, mystery, and faith. Barbour stands out to me for its excellent series these last few years, including but certainly not limited to Brides of the Mayflower and True Colors. Something that I truly appreciate is when I read a book that I otherwise may not have and love it so much that I know it will be one of my favorites for the year. Undercurrent of Secrets fits the bill, and the literary finesse that Rachel Scott McDaniel demonstrated in her debut, Above the Fold, becomes even more prominent in this fourth Doors to the Past book.

As the two storylines in Undercurrent of Secrets emerge, a delightful cast of characters surfaces. In the present, Devyn Asbury serves as wedding coordinator for The Belle of Louisville, trying to blend into the background after a disastrous end to her engagement, while her 1926 counterpart, Hattie Louis, lives an unconventional life on the river as the adopted daughter of an elderly steamboat captain. Both young women find the course of their lives altered by unexpected revelations and unforeseen romance that has enduring reverberations. Mystery creeps into Devyn’s already-full schedule through the appearance of Chase Jones and an enigmatic photograph from a century ago, while new first mate Jack Marshall’s arrival interrupts the steady flow of Hattie’s routine. The turbulence is reflected in Jack’s words, “I’m just wondering if your voice is the sound of an angel guiding me along, or a siren drawing me in to my demise.

One aspect of split-time fiction that seems to characterize the genre, and one that speaks to me, is the theme of belonging to two different worlds, or feeling caught between two existences. A nostalgic identity crisis, of sorts. Whether this plays out as being drawn to the past in order to resolve something that happened there, or being either ahead of one’s time or old-fashioned, this premise lends itself to the heart of stories such as Undercurrent of Secrets. I love how McDaniel connects her characters, and how the contemporary characters unearth the mystery and intrigue surrounding those of the past, as a puzzle to solve rather than just having the answer handed to them, with faith leading the way. As Devyn proclaims, “Love is bold. It doesn’t cower, but expresses itself. Think of Jesus. What He did on the cross was bold. He gave His life without any guarantee that anyone would love Him back. It was daring and beautiful.” The intersection of the characters’ stories intertwines throughout the narrative, coalescing at the very end in a satisfying conclusion that brings together all of McDaniel’s skillfully dropped hints. Above all else, trusting God to guide us through every high and low, allowing Him to be the captain of our lives, is the most important message. For “God had a way of leading His children. It may not be the course Devyn had imagined, but as long as she stayed in the current of His love, she knew she could rely on Him in both the still and the troubled waters. He was faithful to steer her through it all.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 25

Rachael’s Inkwell, September 25

Texas Book-aholic, September 26

Christian Bookaholic, September 26

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 27

Inklings and notions, September 27

Genesis 5020, September 27

For Him and My Family, September 28

Life of Literature, September 28

deb’s Book Review, September 29

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 29

Remembrancy, September 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 30

She Lives to Read, October 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 1

Older & Smarter?, October 1

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 2

Mary Hake, October 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 3

Simple Harvest Reads, October 3 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bizwings Blog, October 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 4

For the Love of Literature, October 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 5

Through the fire blogs, October 5

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 6

Pause for Tales, October 6

Artistic Nobody, October 7 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Just Your Average reviews, October 7

Splashes of Joy, October 8

Labor Not in Vain, October 8

Giveaway

Undercurrent_of_Secrets_Giveaway[1]

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11b61/undercurrent-of-secrets-celebration-tour-giveaway

A Giant Murder Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Book: A Giant Murder

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: August 3, 2021

Would you like a shot of… death with that, sir?

Josephine Jacobs was just doing her job, serving at an exclusive party, so why is she now being accused of shooting TG Taggert?

At a party full of suspects in the murder of Taggert, Josie served the food giant everything but an eternally “parting shot.” Who really killed TG Taggert? His wife? His son, Jack? What about Harper Davis? Rumor has it, she was having an affair with him—motive for her or Taggert’s wife! The list of those who seemed to hate him keeps growing, including a chemist and a chef!

With her long-time friend, Office Porter O’Brien, Josie sets out to find out who really killed “the giant,” and clear her name.

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. A Giant Murder offers a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with enough clues and suspects to keep you looking over your shoulder. We’d recommend Kevlar… but it hasn’t been invented yet!

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. You can find her at her website: MarjiLaine.com

More from Marji

I so enjoyed researching the history of downtown Dallas as I crafted my story, A GIANT MURDER. The house that I chose for Josie and her mom is actually still there on Haskell Avenue. The photo with the wrought iron is about twenty years old, but the house was built circa 1914. The photo with the wooden fence is from last year, after a big remodel. This house was also the setting of another of my books. It and the field that used to be next to it was an after-school child care center in AIN’T MISBEHAVING.

Thinking about what life might have been like in this house in the twenties, I can’t
help but think about my grandparents. They were teenagers at the time of my story – 1926 – and while my grandfather grew up in, what was then, a little farming town called Paris, Texas, my grandmother grew up in Oak Cliff, just across the bridge over the Trinity River from this house in downtown Dallas.

Makes the research that I did on this era even that much more special. Having come through COVID, I realize that my great-grandparents had to nurture their preteens and teenagers through the Spanish Flu that devastated whole communities. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

All of this reminiscing sent me to an old recipe book that had been a wedding present for me from my mom almost thirty-five years ago. In the dessert section near the back, I found a precious recipe for Date Candy that had come by way of my great-grandmother, Carrie Ethel Leatherwood Morin. I never met her, but I do remember hearing from my mom that she was a woman of faith, and I have a poem she wrote late in life, about growing up in the country.

I would say this is a 1920s recipe, but who could tell? She was a middle-aged mom at that point, so it’s a good bet.

Date Candy

1 box – light brown sugar

4 T – corn syrup

½ pt – whipping cream

1 cup – dates

1 cup – pecans

1 t – vanilla

Mix sugar, syrup, and cream. Cook until almost a hard ball. Just before removing from pan, put in dates and stir until they melt. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Beat until almost hard – then add pecans. Wet a cup towel. Pour mixture onto cup towel and roll into a roll. Let it cool – firm – then slice.

Let me know if you decide to make my great-grandmother’s candy. I’d love to find out how it turned out!

My Review

Read my review in the September issue of #BecauseFiction magazine at https://www.becausefiction.com/posts/a-giant-murder-editorial-review-by-sarah-snider/.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

For the Love of Literature, September 18

Inklings and notions, September 19

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 19 (Author Interview)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 20

deb’s Book Review, September 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 22

A Reader’s Brain, September 23

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

Connie’s History Classroom, September 24

Simple Harvest Reads, September 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 25

Mary Hake, September 25

Rebecca Tews, September 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 27

Connect in Fiction, September 28

Bigreadersite, September 28

Through the fire blogs, September 29

Blogging With Carol, September 30

Back Porch Reads, September 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/119f5/a-giant-murder-celebration-tour-giveaway

Reflecting Gold Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Reflecting Gold

Author: Cynthia L. Simmons

Genre: Mystery

Release date: June 2021

Peter and Mary Beth Chandler kept their Confederate bank on the gold standard. However, a Confederate officer asked for a loan. He insisted he should be able to repay in Confederate bank notes not backed by gold. If they refuse, he will label them traitors. Should the Chandlers change their loan requirements and risk losing the bank? The entire town questioned their loyalty, especially when the officer turned up dead. Will the Chandlers be court martialed or lose the bank? While facing an impossible situation, they seek God’s guidance and learn to reflect his love.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Cynthia L Simmons is the mother of five grown children, imperfect and down-to-earth, she uses her experience to model grace for all and speaks from the heart of a spiritual mom. Fond of times past, she writes both fiction and nonfiction while combining history and scripture to minister to moms of all ages. However, she has a special place in her heart for young moms and homeschool moms. While she loves writing—books, articles, devotions, and notes—Cynthia also enjoys traveling around the nation speaking to homeschool events, bookstores, libraries, and churches. Plus, conducts writing workshops, and leads retreats. She’s a huge fan of sugar, tea, orchids, purple, re-enactments, friends, and ballroom dancing with her husband. https://clsimmons.com

More from Cynthia

The same year my first book came out, my husband came down with encephalitis. In simple terms, his brain was infected. He’d been sick for several days with a mild headache and temperature, and our doctor thought he had the flu. One morning I watched him slide into the floor as a grand mal seizure ravaged his body. I remember thinking this couldn’t be happening. I’m a nurse, and I was reviewing his medical history in my mind. Seizures didn’t fit with anything on either side of his family, and I wanted to deny what I saw. Needless to say, our life changed dramatically for several years as we walked through dark times. My husband spent 11 days in intermediate intensive care and came home on IV medications. For several weeks he had partial seizures the doctors couldn’t control. However, I learned so much during that time, and I’ve shared lessons from that time. In Reflecting Gold, I demonstrate how we can reflect the beauty of God even in the middle of heartbreak.

Author Interview

When/how did you decide to become a writer?

I have always loved words and hated numbers. At about ten or eleven, I tried to write a novel, but my brother laughed at me. Embarrassed, I stopped and planned never to write again. Years later, I homeschooled my five children and taught them to write. As I taught grammar, I explained how everything I taught was really a tool for writing. Once my kids started to leave home, I started writing and using those tools I’d been teaching.

Which author has most influenced your own writing?

I can’t brag on just one. Cec Murphy got me started with his classes and critique groups. Jennifer Slattery and I worked together for a year or so, and I learned a lot from her. Fay Lamb taught at a writing conference I hosted here in Atlanta, and she influenced me a lot. Sandra Byrd coached me as I wrote my first novel. She gave me confidence that I could write for publication. I still use her techniques.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both. I tend to structure the entire book before I start. However, once I get started, things happen I didn’t expect. Sometimes a new idea occurs to me, and I like it better than what I intended. On some occasions, I get bored with what I planned and go off in a different direction.

Is there a particular literary period that you’re drawn to (Regency, Victorian, Romantic, Modernism, etc.)? Why?

I love the Victorian period. I grow orchids, which men discovered in that era, and I adore the hooped skirts and fancy dresses. If you peeked into my closet, you’d see several dresses from that period that I wear to events. I often pose for photos with fans or their children.

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

I have used all three. Traditional books are wonderful. I enjoy holding a book in my hand and turning pages. However, your house can only hold so many. So, if I interview an author for my podcast, I usually ask for an ebook or pdf. I also enjoy listening to my kindle when I clean house.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, September 9 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 9

Texas Book-aholic, September 10

Inklings and notions, September 11

For Him and My Family, September 12

deb’s Book Review, September 13

For the Love of Literature, September 14 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 17

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 18

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 21 (Author Interview)

Vicarious Living, September 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cynthia is giving away the grand prize package of a $30 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11818/reflecting-gold-celebration-tour-giveaway