Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Orphaned Hearts, Shawna K. Williams

Historical/Romance/ Christmas
Pastor David Langley understands six-year old Caleb Holsheyer -- what it feels like to be damaged and alone. His family killed in a fire, and his body severely burned, David grew up in an orphanage, ridiculed and shunned. He couldn’t let that be Caleb’s fate.

When adoption plans fall through, David is desperate to find Caleb a new home. But in the midst of the Great Depression, most families are barely getting by. No one seems willing to take on the responsibility of an extra mouth, especially one belonging to a crippled child.

Except for Sadie Miller, the town spinster. In Sadie, David sees the answer to Caleb's needs. But Child Welfare doesn't agree, and demands other arrangements be found, or the boy be returned to the orphanage.

David and Sadie team up, determined to find a home for an orphaned child, but while searching, might they find a family instead.

"How could they think Caleb's not normal? He's as normal as any other child." Sadie folded her arms in front of her. "Goodness gracious! You're telling me he can be adopted – just not by me -- but he can't be placed-out to anyone?"

"I'm afraid so."

"I've never heard anything more preposterous. I don't even know where to begin."

"I know, Sadie." David gently placed his hand on her arm. "It makes no sense to me either."

Sadie huffed and then looked down at his hand. Strong, warm... ringless. Caleb could be adopted, but only by a family with a mother and a father. A married couple.
She envisioned how a gold band would look circling the base of his finger and suddenly realized she'd unknowingly extended her own hand and was holding it outward, like she showcased her own imaginary matching ring.

Good heavens! Sadie curled her fingers into a fist and then extended them again, curled and extended. "Guess I spent too much time kneading dough today." She giggled like a silly girl and glanced at David to see if he believed the excuse.
His brow creased with a look of concern. "Does it hurt?" He took her hand and cradled it like a wounded puppy. His tenderness melted her to her core. Why couldn't she be young and beautiful, someone he'd want? How she'd love to share her home with him... her bed... her life. If he married her, they could be Caleb's parents. They could have more children. If she was able. If she wasn't too old.

Sadie watched his beautiful face as he tended to her hand, gently massaging her palm. He might marry her, for Cale--

What was she thinking!

"It's fine," Sadie said, pulling her hand from his. It was a farce. She wasn't hurt; she was just taking advantage of his kindness. Just like she'd be doing if she suggested he marry her for Caleb's sake. He might very well do it. It would be for Caleb's well-being, but her own selfish motivation would be hidden in there as well. David didn't feel that way about her, and she wouldn't use Caleb's misfortune to trap him. What sort of person would that make her?

She side-glanced to find that he stared at her, with something strange dancing in his eyes.

"Sadie, did you know that you're lovely?"

She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "You spend too much time in your office."

"But I haven't. I've been spending it with you."

She knit her brow, her heart pounding like thunder. What on earth was he saying?

"There is no one like you, Sadie Miller," he said. The depth in his hazel eyes held an unspoken draw, beckoning her to him. She felt herself leaning, and she tried to resist, but some invisible force seemed to be pulling her closer... and closer... Her eyes started to close.

"You'll make some man very happy someday," David blurted, averting his gaze as he stood. "I should go. I have to be on the road early." He tightened his necktie and straightened his collar, then nodded courteously without looking directly at her. "We will find Caleb a home."

Before she could respond he'd trotted down the steps of her front porch and off into the dark without even saying goodbye.

Sadie sat alone on the swing, heat radiating within her. Her hand went to her mouth. Had she almost kissed him?

Have Mercy! No wonder he'd suddenly run off. How would she face him tomorrow? She looked into the blackness where David had disappeared, the humiliating moment replaying in her mind.

Wait a minute. He was leaning too. Had he -- had he almost kissed her back?

5 stars
It is the season of giving. I received a most delightful gift in reading "Orphaned Hearts" by Shawna Williams.
This novella, only eighty-seven pages long, is full of gifts. There is the gift of the setting: the holiday season of the early 1930's, in the small town of Brady Hill.

The main characters, David and Sadie, are gifts as they show us the things that matter: love, faith, compassion and kindness. They will rise above their own issues to help others, especially the children of the orphanage in nearby Fort Smith.

There is the gift of Caleb, the orphan who will steal your heart the moment you meet him. Only six, he has experienced more tragedy than any child ever should. But the little boy, who loves to run and climb trees and play ball, is still inside and with the love of David, Sadie and the entire town of Brady Hill, Caleb becomes the six year old child he was meant to be.

Lessons learned or those we are reminded of is another gift of "Orphaned Hearts." This book shows us that no matter the issue, no matter the "damage," physical or emotional, all people are created equal and should be treated as such. It shows us that we need to reach out to others who need our help - we cannot ignore those who are in need. And it shows us that faith in God and obedience to Him will bring us through everything we face.

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, I rank "Orphaned Hearts" as a twenty. Buy this book and in the midst of the Christmas rush, take an afternoon, sit in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot tea or cocoa and enjoy this book. It will be the best Christmas gift you can give yourself
.--Edwina Cowgill

5 stars
I love Christmas novels and this one was a great one! Set during the Great Depression, it tells of the love story Pastor David Langley with the orphaned children he helps. An orphan himself, David understands that Caleb will have it harder than other orphans. He knows the odds are Caleb, with his disability, will not be adopted. Horribly disfigured in the fire that killed his family, David guards himself from further hurt by shutting others out. He doesn't let anyone see his scars because he is sure they will reject him. He is very familiar with rejection from his years in the orphanage. Sadie Miller is the wealthy town spinster and takes in Caleb temporarily. She loves Caleb and longs to be his mother. Unfortunately the authorities do not think hers is a good placement. David and Sadie must find another home for Caleb. AS they work together it seems like David, Sadie and Caleb form a little family. Will Caleb find a home? Will David and Sadie find what they are longing for? A great romance with a little mystery thrown in and a dramatic conclusion makes for an exciting Christmas story!-- K. Thorne

Why Shawna Wrote Orphane Hearts:
Orphaned Hearts is a story inspired by my granddad. He grew up in an orphanage during the Great Depression. My grandmother's father worked at the orphanage's dairy and this was how my grandmother and grandfather met. The empathy created through his own experiences led my grandparents to serve as foster parents for many years, affecting a great many lives.

The main message of this story is that true love conquers pain, but sometimes the biggest obstacle to accepting it is ourself.

Purchase Links.
Desert Breeze Bookstore

Author Bio:
Shawna K. Williams is an Inspirational Romance writer who loves telling a story through flawed characters – the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century.

When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She's also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger, and jewelry designer.

Read more about Shawna K. Williams at http://www.ShawnaKWilliams.com

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Where Love Once Lived, Sidney W. Frost

Where Love Once Lived by Sidney W. Frost follows a man at a crossroads as he seeks to regain the love of his former college sweetheart.

Forced to leave Karen by circumstances beyond his control, Brian returns to his hometown after 30 years to find Karen doesn't want to deal with the memories of his painful and unexplained departure. She has worked hard to put her love for Brian behind her and rebuffs his advances. Brian can see that winning her over again isn't going to be as easy as he had hoped, but he's willing to do whatever it takes.

"The story of Brian and Karen shows that, with God's help, it's never too late to find happiness," says Frost. "My hope is that their story makes readers laugh, cry and learn a little more about God's love."

Frost was inspired by his faith to create Where Love Once Lived. The importance of a relationship with God is a major theme in the book. In the novel, Karen's faith in God grew stronger after Brian left, leading to fulfilling work as a lay minister. As she becomes reacquainted with Brian, Karen begins to share with him the strength that can come from faith. Brian, who had turned away from God, eventually comes to realize that the void in his life was not just the loss of Karen but also the loss of God.

As she wondered about the mystery, Karen peered out the window at the florist’s delivery van in the school parking lot in time to see it leaving. As it disappeared behind the administration building, another vehicle came into view, one that looked like a bus with no windows. On its side in large letters was Austin Public Library Bookmobile.

She’d once loved a bookmobile driver. Memories of that time with him poured in so rapidly she caught her breath. It’d been long ago, but her heart remembered. At first she thought of the love she’d felt back then, but the good memories didn’t last long. She’d gone to the bookmobile as usual that last day, but nothing was to be the same again. She went to Brian with love and exciting news. She left alone. Not just without him, but alone in the world and apart from God.

This couldn’t be the same bookmobile. Nevertheless, she had to see it. She had to walk into it and face her fears. She grabbed her jacket to shield her from the damp November day and rounded up her class.
“Get your coats on, kids. We’re going to the library.”

The children grumbled at the notion, but when they saw what kind of library it was, they stepped livelier. Karen walked inside the bookmobile after making sure Miss Rush had control of the children. She inhaled the familiar odor of used books. She traveled back thirty years with a single whiff. The librarian just inside the front door welcomed her with a smile. A man sat at a desk near the back of the vehicle. Karen pulled a book off the shelf and held it next to her chest, not caring what the title was. With her eyes closed, she could feel Brian standing next to her, loving her, and it was so real, she felt her eyes moisten.

WOW! Where Love Once Loved is a winner
This is a Christian novel and more. Some of that more is a romance and more of the more is an unusual form of a coming of age story. Romance gone wrong due to incomplete communications and immature or irresponsible judgments lead to lives prematurely separated in young adulthood. Those separate lives are not all that bad but leave the principles feeling unfulfilled and incomplete in mid-life. Tensions in the novel stem from efforts and events that work toward reuniting the protagonists. But this is not easy and

requires sometimes painful change for the two main characters. This is not the adolescent discovery of self and sex coming of age. Instead here we have two seasoned and basically successful adults who must mature spiritually. A number of things contribute to that spiritual maturation including painful discoveries of what went so very wrong years ago, forgiveness for those and subsequent events, understanding of the consequences and new empathy that comes from prayer and God's grace.

The setting is a mid-sized Southern city in the mid to late 20th century (Austin, Texas) and exceptionally apt descriptions of real recognizable places and accurate references to the "times" lend authenticity to the novel.

Much of the action takes place on a bookmobile including librarian-patron interactions and a believable chase scene. I think we all make inappropriate use of the word unique at times. But in reviewing Frost's Where Love Once Lived, I can honestly say his use of the bookmobile is unique to the point where it might be considered a supporting character.

In addition to the bookmobile peripheral characters are well developed, interesting in their own right and serve as impediments or more often facilitators of the action. Secondary characters enrich the story and contribute to the growth of the main characters by modeling and interpreting Christian principals.

In support of the main story line there are several minor themes including an interesting view on changing race relations. A related minor and equally interesting minor theme explores how older adults react to the developing loves, marriages and career aspirations of their children. Not blatant at any one point in the novel but clearly one key to the developing relationships and to resolutions to conflicts is a core group composed of several no longer young men that formed in their college age years. Such a core group is rarely found in the real world or in novels either.

This book is a page turner and early on you will begin pulling (praying?) for those folks to work it out.

A great first novel!

I am proud to say I bought Sid's very first book and loved reading it. Rollo has covered the overview so well, but I want to comment on the theme and characters. I thought it was so very creative to use the bookmobile as a center of so much action and activity, and much to my surprise it kept popping up throughout the book. It was so well described I could picture myself being there. I "got into" the characters quite early in my reading, and my interest kept growing. I especially appreciated the comfortable but truthful way the Christian message was presented. I know lives will be touched when reading this book. A Great first novel! Excited to read your next one.

Why Sidney Wrote Where Love Once Lived:
The idea for writing a bookmobile story came to me while driving one back in the 1960's. I was a college student at the University of Texas assigned to drive for a feisty librarian who got us into trouble with the head librarian several times because of helping our patrons in ways unrelated to books. I wanted to write a humorous novel about her, but quickly learned I didn't know much about writing.

The nudge to write the bookmobile story came again in 2004, and this time I said no because I knew it would be too hard. The very next Sunday, my pastor, Dr. Jeanie Stanley, said this: "Trust the Lord God with your dreams and He will help you achieve them." This gave me the idea to turn the whole project over to God.

To remind myself I wasn't alone, I wrote a prayer which I printed and taped next to my computer.

Dear Lord, be my source of inspiration. Give me the words you want the world to hear. Help me create the story and the characters to convey your message in such a way as to be desirable to the business world of publishers. Guide my hands and stay in my mind and my heart while I write and while I edit. Amen

By then I was smart enough to know I needed practical help as well so I started taking online basic fiction writing classes. At the time I was in the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus and rehearsing three times a week for eight or nine months out of the year, and didn't want to take on a large writing project. But, God wouldn't let me use that as an excuse. I retired from the chorus, continued to study and started writing Where Love Once Lived.

I don't want this to come across sounding like I believe my book is the word of God. Far from it. All I'm trying to say is that I had a strong urge to write and publish Where Love Once Lived. I hope it makes the reader laugh and cry, and if just one person should happen to move closer to God because of it, then the effort was worthwhile.

Purchase Links

Amazon Kindle

Lulu.com for other eReader formats


Or, go to http://sidneywfrost.com/wlol_buy.htm to see all purchase options.

Author Bio:
Sidney W. Frost is an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. He's also a Stephen Leader, a Stephen Minister, and a member of his church choir. He is an Adjunct Professor at Austin Community College where he teaches computer courses. He has a Master of Science degree from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Long Beach.

He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Writers League of Texas, and the San Gabriel Writers' League.

Awards for Where Love Once Lived include First Place -- 2007 SouthWest Writers Contest in the Inspirational/Spiritual Category, First Place -- 2007 Writers' League of Texas Novel Manuscript Contest, Romance Category, Third Place -- Fourteenth Annual Lone Star Writing Competition, Northwest Houston Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, Inspirational Romance Category and Finalist -- 2006 Yosemite Writers Contest Novel Category.



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Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Love, Michelle Sutton

Josiah and Tara had enjoyed acting in their high school plays. They had also been each other's first lover... in fact; most of the time they'd spent together had been in Tara's bed. When Josiah became a Christian, he left Tara to go to college and didn't look back.

Four years later, Josiah is back in town when his father has a near-fatal heart attack. When they meet up again they realize how much their separation had hurt each of them. But now Tara is a Christian and is trying to live a life that is pleasing to God.

Josiah wants Tara back, but neither knows how to relate to each other without the physical intimacy they once shared. They are determined to do things right this time, but find it more challenging than they'd anticipated.

She hated to spell it out for him, but it seemed necessary to prevent him from getting the wrong idea. "You're here for a haircut. Don't expect more."

Raising his hands in mock surrender, Josiah chuckled, "Whoa, there. I didn't mean anything by it, I swear."

"Good." Grabbing the black cloth to drape over his shirt, she flipped it open and then pointed to the chair. He sat and she tied it around his neck, a stress headache creeping into her head. Irritation shredded her nerves. Rather than sitting, he peered at her with an incredulous look in his eyes.

"Come on," she winced and touched her forehead. "I don't have much time."

"Aren't you gonna..." Josiah pointed at his hair and nodded toward the sink.

"No." She snapped the cloth again. "Just sit."

"But, that's the best part." Ruffling his hair with both hands, he sighed. "All right, but my hair is sweaty and dusty. I think it'll be easier to cut if it's clean first. I'll even pay you extra."

Did he think he could buy her forgiveness?

But he did have a point. Taking in the faint cloud of dust forming beside his head as he ruffled his hair, Tara sighed. She rolled her eyes and pointed at the sink with her elbow. "All right, all right. Just hurry up. I need to get home."

Josiah crept in slow steps and glanced over his shoulder. Tempted to push him along, she refrained, deciding the less hands-on contact she had with him the better. Maybe that was what he wanted. To get her riled. Well, it was working.

The sooner she cut his hair and sent him on his way, the sooner she'd have time to think about what his return to town might mean. While tempted to quit the acting group to avoid seeing him, she refused to run away. Besides, playacting the part of a socialite at special events in town was the only fun hobby she allowed herself. She refused to give up her only link to acting.

No, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of quitting. She'd keep playing the part and enjoy every minute of it. No man would take the fun out of her life ever again. Not even someone as devastatingly handsome and as important to her as Josiah had once been.

5 stars
First Love, the second in the Tombstone Treasures series, is a wonderfully, edgy romance. I liked this one even better than the first one. If the trend continues, the third one should be a blockbuster! Michelle has written an edgy, Christian, romantic story that has a little bit of suspense thrown in.

Tara Hinkson has had a tough time since graduating from high school. Her mother was involved in a horrible car wreck that has left her with the mind of a 5 year old and severely disabled. Tara and her mother share a small house just down the street from the beauty shop where Tara works. Since her mother can not be left along, she has had to hire someone to be able to sit with her mom while she works. Can you imagine having to be the "parent" to your mom or dad? Wanting to be able to sit down and share your thoughts and feelings with them or even just to sit and hold each other and not being able to. That would be a very hard adjustment to make.

Josiah Reardon was Tara's long time boyfriend in high school. Things got very heated in their relationship and they spent most of their time in bed. He broke off the relationship when he was getting ready to go off to college. Tara had not heard from him since then, several years, when he walks into her hair salon for a haircut. To say she was shocked would be an understatement. She didn't really like the way she felt when she saw him. The old flame was still there, at least on her part. How did he feel?

The story takes us on Tara & Josiah's journey of trying to build on the past relationship to make a future. But can that be? Every time they get near each other the old feelings take over. The ones that led to the bedroom. Since high school both of them have become Christians. They both know what they are doing is not right in God's eyes but the flesh is weak and they don't seem to be trying too awfully hard to be strong.

I really loved this book! I loved the characters! Michelle did an awesome job of developing them so that the reader can feel their emotions and know what they are going through. I could picture every place that Josiah and Tara were. I felt so bad for Tara's mom and for Tara having to put her own life on hold all these years to take care of her mother. Michelle has written several good bible truths into her story without being "preachy". Way to go, Michelle! You've done it again!
-- J. Thompson "Janet's Treasures~~book reviews"

Michelle's books just keep getting better and better! While Never Without Hope and In Plain Sight are still my favorites (5+ stars) First Love gives them a good run. I give it a 4.75. I appreciate that Michelle writes about topics we often don't find in Christian Fiction, and I REALLY appreciate that while her characters are Christians, they don't always do the right thing. It's pleasant to read about what's ideal, but it's inspiring and hopeful to read about God's Grace. Without mistakes, there's no opportunity to write about it. Since I don't know anyone who hasn't made a mistake, Michelle's stories should have a very wide appeal.

First Love is an entertaining and honest story about the difficulties of abstaining from premarital sex when there has been a previous relationship. Michelle explores the issue far beyond just the physical aspect. She gives a heavy dose of emotional side-effects, including confusion, heartache and guilt. As a soon-to-be 40 year old, I enjoyed this book very much, but I strongly recommend it for teens and young adults. One should never underestimate the impact of passing on wisdom through words. Thanks, Michelle!
-- Shawna K. Williams - Grace-Inspired Fiction.

Why Michelle Wrote First Love:
The inspiration behind First Love came from a novella project I was working on with three other Barbour authors and I had to draft a first chapter and synopsis for it. Come to find out Barbour didn't think Tombstone would be very romantic so the project went nowhere even with best-selling authors also in on the project. So I just used what I had prepared. I wanted to show how hard it might be to date someone you used to sleep with on a daily basis and who broke your heart when they found God and left. So what happens if you are both Christians in the future and you find out you still have feelings for the other person and decide to give it another try? How do you keep from falling back into bed? How hard would that be? Of course, anyone who knows me knows that my characters usually mess up more than once before they get it together. That's the part I like best. I like writing emotional conflict when it clashes with spiritual values.

Also available at Amazon Kindle, B&N, Kobo, iBookstore, Sony, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks and coming soon to Christianbooks.com.

Author Bio:
Michelle is the author of over a dozen inspirational novels, a book reviewer, an avid blogger, the mother of two young college students, a wife of over two decades, and follower of Jesus Christ.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Conception, Jennifer Hartz

"I do not think it is a question of where, but when." were the words that Charis left my mother with thirty years ago when I disappeared from Meric…before I was born.

Shortly after being sent back I've been attacked by man-eating Vaipes. I've learned that my father was a power wielding Guardian. I've discovered that the silvery-blue eyes intriguing me my entire life belong to my Watcher, Shaw who is without a doubt the most handsome man I have ever seen. And somehow I need to stop a war mongering tyrant who can manipulate people's thoughts.

So my question isn't where or when. It is how? How can I help the people of Meric when I can't stop myself from falling in love?

Apparently he didn't need my help.

He pounced with alarming speed. The spin move he performed was so quick, so strong, so devastating that when he completed the one-hundred and eighty degree turn that took less than a matter of seconds he had killed seven of the Vaipes.

He faced me now and the fierce, deep concentration in his face astounded me. He attacked Vaipe after Vaipe, and the beasts continued to fall before him. I couldn't believe how swiftly and fluidly Shaw moved. He had pulled out his smaller sword now and assailed the creatures two at a time.

Shaw truly had to be the greatest warrior in all of Meric. None of the Vaipes even came close to him. He just spun, ducked, thrashed, lunged, turned and twisted so effortlessly that it barely appeared he exerted any energy at all.

When the last Vaipe lay dead, he walked toward me, wiping the blood and gore off his face. I stared, amazed by what he just accomplished.

He looked me over, drawing the back of his hand across his cheek. "Are you alright?"

It was a loaded question. Was I physically injured? Was I mentally scarred for life?

I replayed the last few minutes in my head. I witnessed a man being eaten and Shaw slaying more than twenty Vaipes. The stuff of nightmares.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Even though I wanted my statement to sound brave, I couldn't control the shakiness of my voice.

"You should go inside one of the houses," Shaw reiterated.

I was about remind him of my last answer to that suggestion when a Vaipe leapt at us from on top of the fence. I dropped my sword and tried to shove Shaw out of the way, but he was just out of my arms reach. My telekinetic powers kicked in again and I brushed Shaw off to the side with my left hand as easily as sweeping dust from a shelf. With my right hand, I held the Vaipe in midair. It looked at me with such hatred and rage that I couldn't help but scoff ever so slightly. Then I thrust my right arm as hard as I could, throwing the Vaipe into the fence knocking the wind out of it. Grabbing my sword again, I ran to the dazed monster. I hesitated for just one second, wondering if it was right to kill something that was knocked unconscious, when its eyes snapped open and it snarled at me, bracing for attack. The instinct to protect myself outweighed my moral debate, and I slashed it straight through heart.

I turned back to Shaw, breathing hard. He stared at me with raised eyebrows and a slightly open mouth.

I smiled. "How can I go inside a house when clearly you need my help."

Shaw snorted a laugh. "Clearly." He gathered up his bow and nodded for me to follow.

Five Stars!
Christina's ordinary life as a single thirty-year-old school teacher takes a twist when she is unexplainably transported from current day Pittsburgh to a mysterious place called Meric. There, she discovers great wonders; from the beauty of the land, to the secret of her birth and the magical powers she unknowingly possesses. She also learns why a pair of mesmerizing blue eyes has followed her throughout her life.

However, not all is glorious in the land of Meric. A dark evil threatens its people, an evil that thirty years earlier killed Christina's father and drove her into hiding before she was even born. Now that she has returned, Christina must fulfill her destiny or Meric will be doomed under evil's rule.

I can't believe this book was Jennifer Hartz's debut novel. It was pure adventure from start to finish. Jennifer masterfully weaves humor, mystery, action, and romance into a fantastic tale. The pacing is just perfect, dropping hints here and there as deep mysteries are unveiled. At the same time we get to know a host of delightful, well-rounded characters, who I grew to love. The tension builds and builds and I was literally holding my breath at the end.

This book is the first in a series, and I will definitely get the next on the first day it releases. If you enjoy fantasy with Inspirational elements (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Arnhem) then you'll love this.
-- Shawna K. williams, Grace-Inspired Fiction.

Why Jennifer Wrote Conception:
While having a conversation with one of my students, I said something that would make my already busy life a heck of lot busier! We were discussing The Twilight Saga. As you know, most teenage girls love Twilight, I really enjoyed the books too, but we were talking about how we were slightly disappointed with the forth book in the series. I eventually said, "I certainly can't judge Stephanie Myers because I haven't written a book let alone a bestselling mega smash series." This got me to thinking. I have always wanted to write a novel – it has been a lifelong dream – why not give it a shot. That day, while driving home from work, I started thinking about all of the books, movies, and TV shows I loved. I pulled out elements from all of these things that really captured my attention and slowly they morphed into my own fantasy realm.

For three months my daydreams continued as I drove back and forth from work. I have an hour and a half commute – three hours a day in the car – so my fantasy story really grew, and grew quickly. The story lines became more and more intricate and the personalities of my characters really started to take on lives of their own. Finally, summer rolled around and my fingers finally met the keys. Writing was the easy part since I had such a structured skeleton to work with. In the two and a half months of summer break I was able to write the entire 78,000 word novel that is now Future Savior Book One: Conception. I have the other four novels of the series completely mapped out in my head.

Also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Allromance Ebooks, Books on Board
, iPad iBookstore, and soon, Christianbooks.com

Author Bio:
Jennifer Hartz wrote and illustrated her first novel, an epic tale featuring winged fairies losing their magic wands to evil trolls, back when she was six years old. She has been a fan of fantasy and science fiction ever since. From the land of Mordor to a galaxy far, far away, Jennifer loves it all.

Born in Pittsburgh, but currently living in northeast North Carolina with her amazing husband and beautiful son, Jennifer spends her days teaching at a small private school in Norfolk, Virgina. Other than reading the Bible, Jennifer loves to read (and now write) Speculative Christian Ficion that has wonderful romantic storylines and exciting twists and turns.

The Future Savior series is Jennifer's first crack at a novel since the early days of fairy wand heists and she couldn't be more thrilled with its quick success.


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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Masquerade Marriage, Anne Greene

To protect his loved ones and escape the dark fate of his brothers, a noted warrior abandons his identity. Hiding from relentless soldiers who want him dead, Brody MacCaulay vows to protect the woman he loves more than life, more than freedom, more than Scotland. But his presence throws her into danger.

To escape an arranged marriage to an abusive noble, a Lowland Lady weds a stranger to save his life. But vows spoken do not make a marriage, especially when Megan MacMurry holds a different love inside her heart.

Outlawed, and with a price on his head, Brody condemns himself to a life of heartbreak without Megan. Wanting her desperately, knowing he can't have her, he heads alone to certain death..

Like a determined hero, the fugitive warrior strode through the door at the far end of the tiny stone kirk.

Megan’s eyes widened. Her clenched jaw relaxed. Some of her dread dissolved.

“Impressive.” Molly, Megan’s Irish maid, whispered from where they stood together in the vestibule.

He stopped in front of the hand-carved altar and half-turned toward her. Megan pulled in an uneven breath. This Highlander, wearing formal kilts, was no scrawny lad grown older, nor was he a big, hairy Scot with a bushy beard. The tall, strapping soldier stood with legs braced as if about to do battle.

Her heart skipped. Though she’d known Brody when she wore short skirts, this blond warrior was far more than she expected. Her pulse throbbed in her temples. Doubt niggled her brain. Brody was too tall, too obviously a Highlander. How could she hope to pass him off as a Lowland Laird? He appeared to have too big a chip on his shoulder to let her command him.

Brody’s thick sandy hair swept the collar of his linen shirt. Lace-trimmed cuffs matched the white jabot at his muscular throat. A silver broach clapsed his crimson and black tartan to his wide right shoulder. His Claymore, dirk, and thick sword belt startled her.

Megan suppressed a shudder. The English outlawed kilts. With his dress, Brody spat in the face of the English and further imperiled his life. Why?

His intense sapphire stare blazed a trail across the empty wooden pews toward her. His eyes made her feel dizzy as if she just danced a fast reel with a lively partner.

Molly grinned and handed Megan the bridal flowers.

What had she gotten herself into?

5 Cups
Megan, a lowland lady marries Brody a Highlander on the run from the English to save his life. Filled with rich Scottish language and descriptive passages, this book literally tosses you back in time to a land where men fought to be free from the tyranny of the English. (Honestly feel ashamed to be English having read this.)

I literally sat and read all day, pausing only to feed the kids, so compelling is the story. I laughed and even cried. The emotions run deep as Megan and Brody slowly see past the pretence of their marriage and fall for each other, only for fate to step in.

Definitely one to read, this will have you riveted to your comp/e-reader/book and one you’ll want to read again.
-- Clare, Coffee Times Romance

Why Anne Wrote Marriage Masquerade:
I was motivated to write this book after visiting Scotland. The final battle between the English and the Scottish Highlanders changed the Highlands forever. A way of life ended. The drama in this story appealed to me, and so I wrote Masquerade Marriage. I love this time in history and so enjoyed living it as I wrote the book. I hope the reader finds a new world to love as he reads my book.


Author Bio:
Anne Greene writes historical and suspense novels. She’s of Scotch ancestry of Clan Gunn. When she’s not deployed with her military husband, she makes her home in McKinney, Texas. She has four children. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one, and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. In 1989 Anne graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas Dallas. Anne loves to travel and has visited twenty-four countries. See her web site http://www.annegreeneauthor.com/ for pictures. At present Anne is in Seoul, South Korea, serving her country with her hero husband, Larry, an active-duty Colonel in the Army Special Forces. Her highest hope is that her stories transport you to a different world and touch your heart.

Please leave a comment for this wonderful book and enter the drawing to win this and other recent features. Don't forget your email address. It makes it much easier for me to get in touch. :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beyond Summer, Carie Lawson

Zane has a theory in life: Beautiful women are more trouble than they're worth. So when he's coerced into spending the summer with the very beautiful Carly as his nanny, he expects the worst. But she changes his opinion, one good deed at a time. Until he gets a little too close and finds out his beauty queen is nothing more than a liar and a thief. Theory proven.

But the pretty liar has two little girls who've stolen Zane's heart. He's going to have to wade in and untangle the mess Carly's made of her life for her daughters. Can Zane ignore the theory Carly's proven, forgive her, and accept that beauty is sometimes more than skin deep?

In order to make enough room for his shoulders, Zane put his arm on the pew behind her. "Thanks for, uh, smoothing things with Leah."

She appreciated his discomfort. "No problem. If you'd told me you'd planned a date with the Sunday School teacher, I'd have made excuses to Anna and Brie."

He shrugged. "It wasn't a date. We're just going to service together."

Carly leaned forward and eyed the end of the pew. Her eyebrows raised. "She's not going to fit, Zane."

The corner of his lip kicked up. There was a spark of the old Carly again inside of her. It was good.

"I'm meeting her for the next service." Zane explained.

Now she was confused. "Is it a different kind of... service?"

"No." He shook his head.

Enjoying his rueful grin, she said, "Two services, huh? You must've been bad this week."

The old man on her left smothered a chuckle behind his hand. Zane cut a look at her. "Who'd have guessed there was so much sass behind your spit and polish shine."

Carly studied her fingernails during what she imagined would be the final prayer.

Immediately following, the crowd started moving like a group of ants around the big room, lining up to get out the door. Zane stood and took a step back. If there hadn't been so many people swarming, she could've managed to get out without touching him. As it was there was no way, so she might as well give in to temptation.

Her hand touched his waist as she moved past him and she tossed her hair back. It had been a long time since she'd flirted, but he more than deserved it for making her stand there with the lovely and perfect Miss Leah while he explained away double booking them. She tilted her

chin and looked up into his face. "So, two lessons today on humility for the man who never makes a mistake. Maybe this really was heaven sent."

His hand went to her arm, not hard enough to hurt, but tight enough to capture her there longer than she'd planned to be. Someone bumped into her from behind and then she was trapped against him.

His eyes were hard as he looked into hers. "Don't kid yourself, Carly. I'm anything but perfect."

Carie Lawson has done another marvelous job with this edition of the Twisted Roots series. I LOVE the McCords! ... Trust me when I say you won't be disappointed with a Carie Lawson book!!! I would highly recommend Beyond Summer. It can be read as a stand alone but for a richer experience I would recommend you read Beyond Africa first. A thank you goes to the author for providing me with this complimentary review copy! Great Job Carie!!! Can't wait for Beyond Ever After!" -- Love 2 Read Novels Blog

"Okay, Carie Lawson has become a favorite author of mine. This is her second e-book in the Twisted Roots Book Series and I have loved both stories! I am afraid I didn't get much done, because I just wanted to sit and finish this story - I really liked it!.. This story was just all around good. I can't wait to read the next one in this series! You won't be disappointed when you read this book!" -- Judy Glidden - That's a Novel Idea Review Blog

"Carie has done a superb job of developing her characters and their situations. You are drawn into the book, and become a part of the families. This is one of those books that I didn’t want to put down! It was worth just a few hours of sleep to finish the book. I highly recommend this and also the first in the series, “Beyond Africa”. You won’t be disappointed." -- Janet's Treasures.blogspot.com

Why Carie Wrote Beyond Summer:
When I wrote Beyond Africa, the intention was always to have four books in the Twisted Roots. Zane appeared at the end of Beyond Africa to give his brother a helping hand. He was quiet and mysterious, and I knew that telling his story was going to be fun. Because he had such an attitude I wanted him to have this softer side, which really came out in his interactions with his own son and Carly's two girls. More than that, Beyond Summer is really a story of redemption. Left to our own devises, without God's help, we tend to make a mess of living. Only by obeying the Lord and searching out His will allow Him to start unravelling the messes we make in life.

Purchase from Amazon.

Purchase from Desert Breeze Publishing.

Other books in this series:

Author Bio:
Carie Lawson home schools her four kids, drives the soccer van --- complete with dirty socks and McDonalds bags scattered throughout --- and tries to sneak away to her computer whenever possible to write. She is an active member of a local writer's group, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and received third place in the North Texas Romance Writer's Great Expectations contest in the Inspirational Romance category.

For more about Carie Lawson please visit http://www.carielawsonbooks.com/.

And don't for get to leave a comment for a chance to win this wonderful book!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hearts Surrender, Marianne Evans

Contemporary/Romance /Series
Kiara Jordan is a sophisticated modernista, but beneath an engaging personality and super-model looks, her heart hungers, and she longs for deeper meaning in her life.

Ken Lucerne is the charismatic young pastor of Woodland Church ; he's adjusting to life on his own following the death of his wife and copes by keeping as busy with parish life and mission work as he can.

A home-building mission in Pennsylvania brings them together, and forces them to look hard and deep at the relationship they share, and where God means for it to go. Already bound by mutual respect and caring, love dawns, a love that takes them to a life-point neither would have expected.

After all, can a chic, vivacious woman find fulfillment within the quiet, mission-centered life of a clergyman? Can they trust God's hand strongly enough to surrender their hearts to one another…forever?

“I’ve been the wallflower who bloomed. But I’ve never believed in myself enough to give up the fancy trappings. I've clung to vanity-centered ideals for too long, I suppose. I’ve worked hard to fit in, and finally I succeeded. Problem is, that kind of success is a double-edged sword. That pathway, once you start to follow it, is hard to leave.”

In an unexpected, graceful motion, Ken caught her swing by the chains. He held her in place, suspended backward, with nothing but a cushion of air between them. All at once Kiara went dizzy, tempted once more by that full, supple mouth, and the satiny-looking fall of his thick brown hair. He was close enough to touch. In this moment, she wanted nothing more than to do just that.

“Some time – at some point – I’d like to hear more about that, Kiara. I’d like know how you became the woman you are.”

“I’d bore you to tears. It’s nothing extraordinary.”

“All present evidence to the contrary.” He set her gliding once again and Kiara’s stomach performed a sparkling fall-away. She delighted in his words but forced herself to brush them aside before they could take root and sway her into believing he saw richness to her spirit. After all, it was part of Ken’s persona to be gracious and encouraging.

He continued, “You're moving forward in directions that are not only admirable, but eye-opening – not just for you, most likely, but to everyone who's part of your life. Don't hold to what other people see, or expect of you, Kiara. Be who you are. And while you're at it, create the best version of yourself you can imagine. After all, the only question, with the only relevance that matters, is this: Who are you now?"

When she sailed back his way, he caught the chains of her swing once again and whispered in her ear, "I believe in you."

With that, he released her on a push, sending Kiara on another dizzying spin of sensation. He walked away, retracing his steps up the path to the cabins and mess hall. She swung to a stop then sat in silence for long moments after he left, absorbing, shivering in a way that had nothing at all to do with the cool of the encroaching night.

Five Hearts – Five Heart Sweetheart Winner - The Romance Studio, Brenda Talley

Ms. Evans has once again delivered a book which I could not put down. I had looked forward to it since completing book one, Heart’s Crossing. I was definitely not disap-pointed. After setting such a high standard for herself in her first book, she just proved that she was fully capable of maintaining the level of expert writing we have seen prior to this. After reading this, I cannot wait for the rest of this series. If possible, it just got bet-ter than the first book. I anxiously await the sequels to this book. I commend Ms. Evans for her ability to write such a book and keep our interest high.

4.5 Books – Happily Ever After Reviews, Clare

A sequel to Heart's Crossing, Ms Evans has once again captured the spirit of true love in Hearts Surrender. It's not necessary to have read the first book, to be enchanted by this one, as it stands alone, second in a series of four. This tender love story, not only puts Ken and Kiara through the emotional wringer, captivates the reader's heart as well and more than once I could have done with one of Pastor Ken's hanky's!

Why Marianne Wrote Hearts Surrender:
Folks who are familiar with the Inspirational E-Books blog may recall my first visit here, when I talked about Hearts Crossing. When I finished Hearts Crossing, and waited to find out if it would even be published, the voices of Ken and Kiara, two of the secondary characters, began speaking to me. Actually, I take that back. They weren’t speaking, they were shouting at me for their story to be told. I wrote the sequel, Hearts Surrender, on faith alone – and by God’s grace these books have led to the creation of the Woodland Series. In this book I was very intrigued by the idea of taking a charismatic, energetic young pastor, and finding out what would happen when he fell in love with a vivacious, chic, stylish woman of modern influence. Not a ‘bad girl’ by any stretch, but a woman seeking more in her life than the latest in high style, and relationships that only run surface deep. Kiara is a woman on a faith journey, who struggles with self worth, and Ken is God’s answer to her hearts call.

Take Away:
Always dive beneath the surface of your most important relationships; find the deeper meaning, the God-given purpose of why people are, and remain, a part of your life.

Author Bio:
Marianne Evans has written numerous contemporary romances. Kensington Publishing purchased her first book, Friends & Lovers. Her second, Right Hand Man, followed shortly thereafter. Her third release from Kensington, Hannah’s Heart, won critical acclaim from The Oakland Press. Her fourth book is her inspirational romance debut with White Rose Publishing – a contest winning novella entitled Hearts Crossing.

The success of Hearts Crossing as led to the creation of The Woodland Series. Hearts Surrender, Hearts Communion and Hearts Key will tell the continuing story of characters first introduced in Hearts Crossing, all of which will revolve around Woodland Church. The series will be available in both print and e-book format. Hearts Surrender will be released in late 2010.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Marianne is an active member of Romance Writers of America. She’s a long-time member of Greater Detroit RWA where she served the chapter in a number of capacities, but most notably for two terms as Chapter President. She also belongs to the Faith Hope and Love chapter of RWA, American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

For more about Marrianne Evans, please visit http://www.marianneevans.com/

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win Marianne's book.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Moselle's Insurance, LoRee Peery

Creative artist Moselle Carson gives new life to old items, but she can't seem to renew her shattered ideal of love. When she returns to her hometown to help with a new family business, memories of a broken heart and small-town gossip chip away the tough exterior she's erected over the years. Now she's forced to decide whether she'll rebuild the wall or trust that true love never dies when it is ordained by God.

Generous insurance agent and vulnerable firefighter, Eric Todd, remembers too well how he mistreated Moselle and then set her aside.
Now he longs for true love and the second chance to become a husband and father. Can he learn to forgive himself and still keep the secret that may redeem him in her eyes?

“You haven’t grown an inch.” He lightly touched the top of her head, then simultaneously tapped her crown and squeezed her shoulder. “But I have.”

Eric gently moved her out of the way. “Check it out.”

Without thinking, Moselle grabbed his arm for balance while she inserted her feet back into her shoes. Even with heels, she had to stand on tiptoe to reach the woodwork behind his head.

Moselle swallowed.

Eric surrounded her.

Heat rose in her cheeks. Somehow, she managed to croak, “Two inches sound about right?”

He didn’t answer. She sensed his gaze searching her face. His breath moved the wispy hairs at her temple.

Would they be in their own laundry room if the past had been rewritten? She’d never let herself pursue that dream of marriage to Eric after their break-up.

“You’re lovely today, Moselle, as always. The colors you wear make you look Irish somehow.” He flicked the circles at her left ear and let his hand rest on her shoulder. “But this wolf suspended in silver is definitely not Irish.”

They grinned at one another.

“Having a hard time staying mad at me, Moze?”

“To be angry, a person has to care.”

“Oh, I think you care, sweets. You just don’t want to admit it to yourself.”

He moved a thumb. The rough touch felt feather-light over the pulse pounding at her throat. The sensation traveled all the way down to her knees. He lifted a finger and traced her bottom lip. She moaned a silent melt at the airy feeling in her head.

His voice came as a raspy whisper, “It’s easier not to care, isn’t it?”

This story show us that God loves us and wants only the best for us even if we don't know what the best is. This story is a true love story of God. I loved the characters and the setting of the town.
Reviewed by Wendy at Happily Ever After Reviews Rating:

This is my first experience with Ms. LoRee Peery but I hope it will not be my last. She has a distinct way of writing which absolutely gripped my attention. Her characters are dynamic, vibrant people who love God and, previously had loved each other. This book is a full-length novel which delved into the characters more deeply than shorter stories. She carried us through their deepest depths of despair and their ultimate times of joy.
Ms. Peery’s secondary characters are also clearly defined. It gives the impression that we, the readers, are there inside the novel with them. Her views on Christianity and serving God are presented in a concise, understandable way which an unbeliever could read and enjoy. She gets her point across without being overly preachy.
I highly recommend this book by Ms. Peery. It will certainly be a hit and is written so that anyone can read it. Look for this author to obtain high recognition.

Brenda Talley at The Romance Studio Rating:

Why Loree wrote the Moselle's Insurance:
I wrote this book because I couldn’t not write this book. I loved the idea of kooky Frivolities when it first came to me. I love the idea of crafty entrepreneur family women. Above all, I love reading about forgiveness and acceptance. God uses everyday people and everyday circumstances to touch the lives of others. His redeeming grace shows up in the lives of people all around us — be they biblical, fictional, or in our families today.

Purchase for Kindle
Purchase from White Rose Publishing

Author Bio:
I am blessed to live in the country with my husband, and have lived in Nebraska all my life. We built our home with our own hands, and even lived in the basement while finishing the rest of the house. After thirty-odd years, we are updating our Victorian so it doesn’t look so much like the 1970s. Comfy leather has replaced reproduction Victorian made-for-looks.

Thanks mostly to our farmer neighbor (and my hubby’s muscles), I have dug, drug, carried, rolled, and scrubbed countless rocks to create several rock gardens where flowers abound. I enjoy the outdoors at all times, but mostly in April and May; September and October. This is my favorite time of the year.

An avid reader all my life, I have books in every room and take a book or my ereader everywhere I go.

I have been blessed to be involved in a wonderful church where people are real and honestly care about the lives of others. My deepest desire in life is that all those I love come to know the saving grace of Jesus.

Best wishes to you, LoRee!

Don't for get about the weekly drawing! Just leave a comment. Have a great week and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Healing Grace, Lisa Lickel

Romance/Contemporary/Life Issues
A haunting story of love and sacrifice...

Grace Runyon could fix anything--until her husband got cancer. She couldn't help him. She couldn't save him. No one understands. No one would ever forgive her. She has to run. It takes another sick man and his little boy to help her fight her way out of self-pity into the light of redemption. But will her new friends stick with her when they discover her secret?

Ted Marshall wanted to be more than Grace’s landlord. But a dying man has no business asking a woman like to her love him back. Can he settle for a taste of her faith in whatever it is that makes her so special?

Just when Ted and Grace begin to hope for the future, Ted relapses. Grace faces the ultimate choice once again: Trusting God to work through her precious gift, or letting a terminally ill man die. What if the price is more than she can pay?

A recommended book club read

Group question guide included

Ted stumbled in at dark. Grace met him at the door where his expression caused her to take assessing one look before turning to distract Eddy with her computer. She quickly found a game place for children and set him down at it. Eddy looked wonderingly at her, for she had not let him play with the machine before.

“Let’s see if you can beat my score,” Grace gushed out. He complied for once without question.

Ted had made it through the living room and grabbed at the entrance to the kitchen with a shaky hand. “Hey… there, Eddy.” Ted lurched with the next step he took. “I think I need…”

Grace grabbed him before Eddy saw his near tumble and led him to her room, struggling mightily with his tall frame to direct him down the hallway and angle him across the bed. She deftly pulled the cover back before he landed, making the bedstead creak. She grabbed his shoulders to settle his head and neck on her pillow and let his equilibrium adjust to being prone. When she knew he wouldn’t be sick all over her bed, she gently untied his boots and lifted his emaciated legs, accidentally coming into contact with his skin above the socks. A familiar tingle began along the webbing between her thumb and forefinger and she pulled quickly away.

Ted moved restlessly, drawing in his breath. “I don’t know if your hands are warm or cold,” he rasped. Grace jumped back.

She didn’t smell alcohol. What had happened? “Ted? What’s wrong?”

“So tired. I forgot to eat lunch.”

“Rest, then. I’ll be back in a little bit with some food for you.”

He grabbed for her hand when she turned to leave. “Wait!” His voice barely rose above a whisper. “Wait. I want, I—thank you—I want you to know that—” his voice trailed off and his shoulders began to shake as he wept.

Grace sighed and grabbed a straight chair and pulled it close. She hadn’t cried in two years. Two years! What had caused him to lose control like this?

She gently dislodged her hand from Ted’s convulsive grasp. Her legs itched to run again; right now she’d like nothing better than to run from this little family with their strange problems. Everything had happened so fast. She just wanted to be left alone to build relationships for herself at her own pace. Excuses drizzled through her mind—all the reasons she should leave Michigan and go somewhere—anywhere else. Somewhere safe.

This house had been too good of a deal. She moved too quickly to purchase it. She hadn’t explored the neighborhood enough. The real estate agent misled her when she said the brothers next door wouldn’t bother her. How wrong she had been. Both of them bothered her. She wasn’t a mother any more, not a wife, not a professional anything. Why did they have to ask her and ask her and keep asking her to do things for them? Couldn’t he see that she was just as tired as he was?

Ted gasped and brought his knee up, face convulsing.

“Ted! What do you need? What can I get for you?”

“No-nothing. Just a—spas-m. It’ll—pass. Wait.”

Grace watched him gulp in air and sweat. She felt as helpless as she did watching a patient in labor. Not much she could do until it was time to push. Michigan? Why had God brought her to Michigan?

Grace had not counted on there being an Eddy, and a Ted. The Ted who now wriggled like a fish out of water on her own bed and whose tears wet her pillow.

She breathed out. Ted slowly relaxed and sighed. He turned over to look at her with eyes that gleamed in the dim lighting. “Jilly left me after the accident when the sickness started.”

He did not apologize for crying. Men never do.

“The first seizure, she freaked. By the third one, she was gone. Didn’t even take Eddy. He was only a year old. What was I supposed to do?” He swallowed, the noise exaggerated in the dimly lit room. “Eddy’s been through too much for a little kid. All he’ll remember when he grows up is that he never had a mom and his dad got sick and died.”

He was really laying it on thick, feeling sorry for himself. Grace blinked at her internal burst of sarcasm and squashed her emotions. Professionals did not get involved. Whatever his diagnosis, he had regained strength since she first met him. Until today, that is. Grace had been so raw upon arrival, the wound barely scabbed over from her own losses, that she could not reach out to anyone else. That God would need her, demand that she use her gifts so soon had been repulsive, a hurt beyond deep. Another betrayed that sent her reeling.

Grace had buried that caring piece of herself in Woodside. She had nothing left to give; no desire to, for that matter. But the gift, had she left it there, too? Was it time? She was not ready to follow that thought. What was wrong with her? “What are you talking about, Ted? You’re so much better. What happened?”

Silence. Sniff.

“Come, Ted. You must have just had a bad day. Rest, and I’ll get you something to eat.”

Ted closed his eyes. “It’s not right I tell you my problems,” he allowed. “I hardly know anything about you. And you’re right—there were only six months of seizures after the accident.”

He lay back and rubbed the prominent scar at his temple. “They stopped, but then I started losing control of my muscles. It’s a good thing Jilly wasn’t here for that.” He scrubbed at his cheeks, grasping again at her hand. “Stay just a little longer, please? Eddy will be okay. I never asked you before. Do you have any family?”

Grace snatched her hand away and jumped up. “I’ll let you rest now. You’ll feel better soon, I’m sure.”

Ted grabbed at her hip as she turned in the tight space and reached for her wrist to pull her close with a surprising surge of strength.

Grace resisted the urge to fight him. She held her breath, not wanting Eddy to hear anything. She had to strain to listen to Ted’s soft croon.

“You’ve been so good to me and to Eddy. Why?”

She let him stroke the hair of her temple. She closed her eyes. So long…so long it been since anyone had touched her like this. She felt his fingers move across her cheek to trace the corner of her mouth.

“Can I be your husband?”

For the first time since she put him to bed, Grace felt a reluctant tug at her lips. She pulled away, put her hands on her hips and looked down at him. “You wish.”

Great book!, July 20, 2009
By John Otte (South St. Paul, MN United States) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Healing Grace (Paperback)

I saw the ending coming. But that's only because I got to read this one before it was published. Insert big cheesy grin here.

No, seriously, it was my pleasure to read Lisa J. Lickel's book, Healing Grace. Lisa is one of my fantabulous critique partners and I got to read the end of this one when we first met. So for me, it was interesting to see how the book started.

It's the story of Grace Runyon. Grace is from a small town in Tennessee, a Christian community where gifts of the Spirit are alive and well. Grace has the gift of healing. Or at least, she did. But then tragedy up-ends her life in a major way and she runs as far as she can, all the way to the town of East Bay, Michigan. There she tries to recover from her loss.

Only to find herself on the verge of a new one. The house she buys belonged to a single father named Ted Marshall. Ted is battling serious health problems that will likely prove to be fatal. Even though Grace is still suffering from the traumatic scars of her previous life, she finds herself falling in love with Ted. That's a problem, because it seems as if God and her gift have abandoned her. What can she do when she's falling in love with a man that she could have healed but can't anymore?

Lisa's book was great. You really feel for Grace as she tries to cope with her loss and tries to construct a new life for herself. It isn't as easy as it sounds, especially since there are undercurrents in East Bay that threaten to take her down. Lisa especially weaves together some great mental images with her words, conjuring up the area around East Bay and making it live. And Eddy Marshall, Ted's son, has to be the most precocious fictional kid I've met in a long time.

So go and check this one out for yourself. You won't be disappointed!

"a modern-day tale of healing touch", November 2, 2009
By Julie A. Saffrin (Excelsior, MN United States) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Healing Grace (Paperback)

By just reading the book's title, you may think this book is about a woman named Grace who has the ability to heal people. And you would be right. But "Healing Grace" has a double meaning. It is a book about Grace, a woman who is grieving over a tremendous loss, even when she possesses the gift of healing.

No matter what spiritual gifts we have been given, the truth is, we are still human and do not have a full view of our lives, nor how or even if, our lives influence another person. We also cannot see the future of our loved ones. Thus is the case for our main character, Grace Runyon.

In this story, Lickel's characters don't have easy answers. In fact, sometimes they don't have answers at all. Lickel allows her characters to ask tough questions like why prayers go unanswered, why we suffer loss, and why, sometimes, a healing touch works while another time it may not.

As I read book, I thought of a couple of things: Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter," the Salem witch trials, and Anne Boleyn. Why? Because these women were judged without evidence of their wrongdoings.

Lickel does a nice job of keeping the reader turning pages. I liked her use of the Petoskey stone and that it is both a rock and a fossil. I felt a slight metaphor, that the stone only shows its fossils when it is wet. Who do we become, when under pressure? Do we stay true to who we are or change to fit into what the world tells us we should be? Another way I also looked at the Petoskey stone as a metaphor with regard to our lives is this: Dare we reveal who we really are? Can we risk doing so without fear of rejection?

My only complaint in this book was from a publishing standpoint. I counted more than 20 typos in this book. How can two ".." be missed at a sentence's end?

I give Lickel kudos for tackling a hard subject for today's reader and thank her for writing this compelling novel.

Why Lisa Wrote Healing Grace:
Dear Readers:
Healing Grace is a personal story that came from a time in my family's life that needed to know that God's healing touch was going to take care of my brother's mysterious health issues. It was the second book I tried to write, and I've learned a lot since then. I've been asked whether or not I believe in the spiritual gift of healing. I believe in miracles, I believe in a God whose perfect and good Will is bigger than any problems we experience here on earth. I have been surprised to find the issue of the practice of the Biblical spiritual gifts to be a divisive issue. I'm sad about that. People are desperate for answers to their troubles. They look in all kinds of places and often find answers that cause more pain. Healing Grace is a novel, it's a work of fiction that is my attempt to give readers a good story while offering food for thought about where true answers can be sought and found. I enjoy getting together with readers and would love to meet virtually with your book club. Please contact me through my websiste.

Author Bio:
Lisa Lickel is a midwestern author and graduate of the Christian Writers Guild. Her publishing credits include newspaper features, local history editing, magazine articles, devotionals, radio theater, and several novels. She is the editor of Creative Wisconsin, a magazine of Wisconsin Regional Writers, loves to mentor new authors and enjoys participation in several reading and writing clubs. She regularly reviews books for several publicity companies and occasionally freelance edits. Find her on Facebook, Shoutlife, Amazon and Goodreads. Visit her website at http://lisalickel.com, http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com/ and http://WisconsinAuthorReview.blogspot.com.

I love what Lisa wrote as her reason for writing this book. Lisa is an author who makes you think. If this book interests you, be sure to also check out her other book, Meander Scar. Don't forget to leave a comment!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mended Heart, Mary Manners

Shane Calkin is a former bad-boy-wannabe fighting to raise his spunky niece and a rambunctious puppy.

Jade McAllister nurses a wounded heart as she struggles to escape her mother’s rejection…and Shane’s.

Nine years have passed since they last saw each other, and a terrible secret looms. Will the secret destroy them, or have the years taught them how to trust…and to love?

“What are you doing here?”

Shane slid two English muffins into the toaster and pressed the lever to warm them. “Claire let me in an hour ago. She had to get to the hospital.”

Jade brushed fingers through long strands of wavy hair and tossed her head to work out the tangles. Her eyes glittered beneath sunlight that streamed through the window over the sink, and she pulled the edges of her powder-blue terrycloth robe tighter before cinching the belt. “I’m not a charity case. I don’t need a babysitter.”

He let the comment slide. “Nice slippers.”

She glanced down to see two fuzzy bunny heads staring back at her.

“Claire bought them for me--a gag gift last Christmas.” The pink of a blush crept up her neck. No matter she wasn’t wearing a lick of makeup and that her hair was matted and tangled--she still looked beautiful.”

“I made you breakfast.” He reached for the muffins as they popped from the toaster, nicely browned. He gave each a healthy slap of butter as Jade looked on. The aroma of eggs and crispy bacon filled the air.

“I’m not hungry.” Like a traitor, her stomach chose just that time to let loose a rumble that could have rivaled an earthquake.

“Your belly begs to differ. Did you eat anything at all last night?”

She crossed her arms over her stomach and ignored the question.

"Mended Heart is reminiscent of Karen Kingsbury's work...I couldn't put it down. Can't wait for the next book." -- Laura Maturo, Chicago, IL

"Mended Heart deals with real-life issues. You have a winner here." -- Sharon Kelly, Seymour, TN

Why Mary Wrote Mended Heart:
Mended Heart highlights the power of grace and forgiveness. No family is perfect...each has its own set of quirks, problems and hurts. I wanted to show that through God's love and grace. healing is possible and lovely.

Author Bio:
I live in the foothills of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains with my husband, Tim, our daughter Danni, and the cherished pets we’ve rescued from local animal shelters…dogs Molly and Abby and cats Lucky and Gus.

I’m active in my church, where I help cook Wednesday night meals and work with the trustees on church construction and beautification projects. I’m also active with the youth, and help raise funds for mission projects through our breakfast table.

I also teach 7th grade math and English at Seymour Middle School. I love working with teenagers, and have been blessed to know many wonderful children and parents during my 25 years of teaching.

I enjoy the outdoors and am looking forward to cooler autumn weather. I enjoy cultivating flowers, taking long walks with my wonderful husband, and reading romance books while lying in a hammock beneath our century-old shade trees.

Visit Mary Manners at http://www.marymannersromance.com

Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this book, along with No Other and Daniella, also featured this week. I've changed my drawing days to Fridays, with a one week lag between features and the drawing for them. So the drawing for this week's books will be next Friday. And today I'm drawing for last week's books.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Daniella, JoAnn Carter

When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing. As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?

Short excerpt:
Harrison took the folder from her extended hand. Her hand seemed so small, and he had the strangest desire to protect her from whatever inner battle she was fighting. “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been with our advertising firm for quite a while now, but until today, I’ve never met you.” He added with a smile, “Forgive me, I’m horrible with names. What’s yours again?”
Her eyes grew wide. With a nervous catch, she said, “Daniella Duncan.”
“I like that name. May I call you Daniella?”
She shrugged. “Everybody calls me Dani.”
“I think I prefer Daniella.” Still studying her face, Harrison added, “Somehow, Dani doesn’t seem to fit you.”
“Oh, Dani fits me all right. It sounds short and fat.” Her hand clamped over her mouth, and her eyes grew even wider. Harrison’s heart nearly broke when she asked, “Did I really say that out loud?”
It had been drilled into his head since he was a boy never to talk to women about two things: their age and their weight. Now, what should he do with this hanging hot potato? Ignore it. “I didn’t hear anything if you didn’t.” He tried to continue with the previous introductions. “Everyone calls my father Mr. Beckman, so I go by Harrison.”
“Okay. I’ll try to remember that.” Daniella seemed to have reached her limit; she looked like a cat being chased by a mouse, desperate for escape. “Um, I really need to get back now, so...”

Marianne Evans says, “Daniella is a tale of hope for every person who has ever doubted themselves - for any reason. "Daniella" affirms the truth that love sees beyond all things - and that God, and the man of her dreams, love her just as she is, and without condition.

There's suspense here as well - corporate intrigue and machinations that keep the pages turning, yet never lead the reader away from a wonderful romance. I love the fact taht the hero, Harrison, who is handsome and successful, is completely attuned to a God Daniella seeks - but not with a fullness of heart and belief. Further, she doubts Harrison would ever be able to see past her size to the heart beneath. But he does!

I strongly recommend this heart felt and heart warming romance from the skilled pen of JoAnn Carter.”
Carol Ann Erhardt says, I love books where I can associate with the heroine. Daniella captured me from the very first page. Remember how cruel classmates can be when you are young? Can you remember one time when something stuck in your head and began to undermine your self-confidence? I can. And so could Daniella.

Daniella has top notch secretarial skills and a caring heart. She works hard, loves her job, but is caught in her own insecurities. Cast her in a room full of executives, including the boss's son, Harrison, and she tries to disappear into the decor. Secretly, she has a crush on Harrison, who is smart, handsome, and grounded in his faith. When work circumstances join these two on a major project, Harrison is determined to learn more about his new assistant. She's very capable, smart, and pretty. Why is she so shy?

Enter Maxwell, who flirts openly with Dani, and lavishes her with sweet words. His persistence opens her lonely heart. Harrison is leery of Maxwell, but is his distrust based on jealousy?

Daniella has everything you'd want in a book. Romance, suspense, and a journey of faith. I loved it!!!”

Why JoAnn Wrote Daniella:
While in the middle of writing this story, I heard the song MIRROR MIRROR by Barlow Girl on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, it hit me how many women like Dani, (the heroine in DANIELLA) struggles with self-image.
As the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, "Do I believe that?" It’s easy for me to nod my head while I’m writing this, but it’s another story when I’m standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!
Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it’s my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well. (If you’d like to hear Mirror Mirror, click onto this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZgq8pA-ipY&feature=related )

Looking for discussion questions? Check out: http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=10:daniella-discussion-questions

You can also access a free two-week devotional to go along with the theme of this book by going to my web page: http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site/


Author Bio :
... about me
Some people seem to be born with a pen in their hands and have written for as long as they can remember. That’s not the case with me. In fact if my Jr. High teacher’s knew how much I enjoy writing now- well, lets just say I’m sure they would get a kick out of it.
... my family
In 1996 my husband (a Youth Pastor) and I discovered we were going to have our first child. I knew as I stopped working as an LPN and transitioned into motherhood, I’d be home alone many nights. It was then, without ever having tackled anything like it, I wrote my first manuscript with the desire to encourage others as I have been.
We now have four boys ages 9-14 and reside in beautiful Vermont.
... my work
I love to write when I can grab the time. I’ve learned so much and find that everyday I’ve more to learn. It’s my desire to be a blessing to others and that my readers faith would be strengthened by the characters and lessons learned through the stories I write. On the side, I read and write reviews for Christian Ministries, Inc. These reviews are aired on The Light and the Wave radio networks. I also enjoy speaking at schools and our local libraries. To learn more about my writing ministry, please go to http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site

I think this book sounds great! If you'd like the chance to win it, leave JoAnn a comment.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No Other, Shawna K. Williams

Romance/20th Century Historical/Life Issues
In the aftermath of WWII all Jakob Wilheimer wants is to get over his pain, get on with life, and if at all possible, forgive those who've wronged his family -- including himself. But it's hard to do when there are constant reminders. One of them being his former schoolmate, now teacher, Meri Parker -- Miss Port Delamar Pearl, Mayor's daughter, Belle of the town -- Meri Parker.

After enduring the stigma and isolation associated with the internment camp, the awkwardness of going back to school should've been a cake walk. But Jakob didn't expect to find himself inexplicably drawn to Meri. Or to discover that the pain and loneliness of her life surpassed his own. She needed to be rescued from the wretched people seeking to control her life. And more than anything, he needed to be the one to save her.

Jakob headed for the living room, holding the chandelier by its chain. "Hey Meri," he called to her over the rain. "Come in here."
Meri walked toward the living room, but paused at its entrance as a gust of wind hit her. "The window is broken," she said.
"I know. The wind is blowing south though and the porch is keeping most of the rain out."
Meri took slow steps toward him, crossing her arms and rubbing them as the chill from the storm hit her. Jakob stood in the center of the room with his hair blowing wildly.
"What are you doing?"
He closed his eyes and tilted his head back slightly. "It feels nice. Kinda like standing in the rain without getting wet."
He laid the chandelier on the floor and marched over to the wall. Meri watched as he used his foot to clear pine needles and dirt from an area of the floor. He stood over the spot, inspecting it, and then unbuttoned his plaid shirt and took it off, revealing the white tee shirt he wore underneath.
Her heart jumped into her throat.
Jakob laid the shirt on the ground, then turned and sat next to it with his back leaning against the wall. "Come on," he said. "I saved ya a seat."
She furrowed her brow. Her teeth clattered with a sudden chill but she did as he asked. "This is crazy," she said, taking a seat on his shirt.
"Nah." He stretched out his legs, leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
"Jakob, what are you doing?"
"Just takin' it all in." He let out a relaxed sigh. "You should give it a try."
Meri folded her arms. Then unfolded them. She hated feeling self-conscious. "I don't know how." He cracked one eye at her. "Be still."
"Copy me," he said. "Lean back, close your eyes."
She did as he said. "Now what?" This was nuts.
"Quiet your mind, and just listen and feel."
Meri took a deep breath and tried to relax. It wasn't working. She sneaked a glance at Jakob. His face seemed beautifully serene amidst the swirling bits of debris flying through the room. It was so... him. Somehow, realizing that made her want to give herself over to the experience. She took another deep breath and let it out slowly.
The first thing she noticed was the musty scent had been cleansed from the air. The smell of rain, clean and fresh, took its place. Droplets rhythmically pattered against the roof. And the
sound changed with the wind -- becoming soft, like a whisper -- then building into a crescendo with the howling gale. At its peak, rumbling thunder. It was music.
Her body relaxed fully and her shivers subsided. She surrendered to the moment, allowing the wild breeze and cool mist to touch her, tickle her. Tiny goose-bumps rose all over her skin. With her eyes closed it felt as if she were elsewhere -- suspended and floating. Free.
"It's beautiful," escaped her lips.
"Glad you could join me," Jakob whispered.
She felt the warmth of his hand slip around hers, his touch joining them in the experience. Their own private symphony.

This is a romance novel that won my heart, even though I normally do not read romance. Shawna's mastery of characterization infused the story with such believability, and I fell in love with Jakob and Meri. No sappy scenes, no corny lines--this book is about story. Yes, it's a love story, but it is so much more.

Set in post WWII Texas, Jakob's German family faces discrimination while they try to rebuild their household. His parents have returned from an internment camp, and his brother has returned as a war hero. Jakob must now step down from his patriarchal role and make his own return--to the high school he had left three years earlier in order to care for his younger siblings in his parents' and older brother's absence.

Matters become even more complicated when he steps into his classroom and discovers his old classmate, Meri Parker, sitting behind the teacher's desk. Their worlds couldn't be more different--she'd had all the advantages Jakob had not. Wealth, college, no one to care for but herself. But Jakob saw what no one else could--how trapped Meri was by her so-called advantages. With his own family restored, Jakob's natural instinct to rescue shifts its attention to Meri.

No Other is beautifully written. If you love romance, you will love No Other. And if you don't like romance...no matter. You'll still love it.
-- Kat Heckenbach, Kat's Musings.

There is "no other" story like it. Seriously.

This debut novel by author Shawna Williams took my breath away. It sounds cliche, but I don't know how else to describe the emotions that moved through me as I read this book. My heart was engaged and fully invested in the outcome.

I read most of this book in one sitting. It's a perfect historical romance in that the tension kept building and it made me want them to work things out and find a way to be together. I fell in love with the characters and empathized with their situations. I also felt firmly grounded in the time period.

The author's use of dialog was masterful. I could hear the characters speaking and their inner thoughts and dialog were consistent with that era. My favorite scene was toward the end when Jakob tries to do the right thing. The emotion was intense and so realistic I nearly cried myself. That's great writing because I felt something.

I loved how true to life this story seemed and it was edgy enough to make me want to cheer Shawna on. This story felt real to me because the characters were complex and three dimentional. There were a few shifts in plot that were delightful as well. I love it when the author does something you aren't expecting. Nice job! I can't wait for the next book. This is making my "favorites" list for fiction for this year - 2010.
-- Michelle Sutton, Edgy Inspirational Author.

Why Shawna Wrote No Other:
I wrote No Other because I wanted to tell an inspirational story about getting up after you fall. About how Christians don't just struggle, sometimes we blow it, but God doesn't abandon us. Even when our efforts to right things fail, He's still in control. Him, and No Other.
Amazon - Purchase
Desert Breeze Storefront - Purchase
Author Bio:
Shawna K. Williams is an Inspirational Romance writer who loves telling a story through flawed characters – the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century. However, being a fan of other genres, including Science Fiction and Suspense, she has a few surprises planned for future works.
When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She's also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger and jewelry designer.

Happy Labor Day and Happy Reading!
No Other is the Acfw Bookclub's choice for the Spetember discussion. Leave a comment for a chance to win. You'll have plenty of time to read it.