Friday, July 30, 2010

Meander Scar, Lisa Lickel

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its ardor unyielding at the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Songs 8:6-7

You can go home again. But facing the consequences may leave a forever scar.

Ann Ballard’s husband, Gene, has to be dead. After seven years of no word, no clues, she is more than ready to get her stagnant life flowing again in a positive direction. When former neighbor Mark Roth, now a respected attorney, shows up and wants to help with the legal aspects, she wonders if she can accept his attractive offer.

Mark has loved Ann forever. She was the only one who supported him when his own family was unavailable. Through gentle wooing, Mark convinces Ann that his dream of happiness for them can come true. Together they face disapproving family members and the legal maneuverings of Gene’s elite family. In a bizarre twist of fate, Ann learns what happened to her husband. How can she tell the truth when it may ruin more lives--hers included?

Just when Ann and Mark overcome the last hurdle, their lives hit the hardest rock of all. Now it's Mark's turn to be truthful to Ann, himself, and the faith he professes.

Ann turned forty years old in the spring, all alone.
Had she loved her former life? Or merely lived as an extension of Gene and the influential circle he drew around her? Since he’d been gone, she was nobody, nothing, just a placeholder who waited for Gene to come back. Definitely time to crawl from under her load of self-pity. After the get-together with Ritchie and Colleen, she’d schedule a time to meet with Mark and discuss strategy for another court date. Maybe for lunch. Then, maybe he could help her find a good roofer. And a new car. While she considered possible dates for him.

She shook her head and went to turn her computer on. Maeve had left a message for her.
“Anything happen while I’ve been gone? What’s nu with u?”
What’s new with me? Ann felt as if she rode an out of control Tilt-a-Whirl. What could she tell her impressionable twenty-year old niece, just starting her junior year at the university? Maeve had been the little girl she could borrow from her sister whenever she needed a daughter fix. She let Maeve shamelessly manipulate her into buying barrettes and makeup and pretty undies her mother refused to purchase. Ann could safely say “nothing much” to the “what’s new” and not expect a third degree like her sister Rachel would give her for being a boring old recluse. But this time … dare she?

“You know nothing new ever happens to me. Except for Mark Roth coming back to Mad Town. He’s a lawyer.”

Maeve had replied. “A lawyer? Who is that again? Is he hot?”

Ann typed back. “No flames I could see.”

“Don’t play coy. Is he cute, or what? I don’t remember him. Is he related to Trey Roth? Did I meet him?”

“Edward Roth’s son with his first wife. Trey’s half-brother.”

“So, how did you hook up?”

“We did not hook up.” Ann decided to change the subject. “What color is your hair this weekend?”

“Silver spikes.”

And so on for another few minutes until Maeve signed off to go
to bed.

Still not sleepy, Ann clicked open her computer diary and typed more of a poem she’d started a week ago. Fall people realign the year. In spring, the riot of life goes so out of control. In fall, the
achievements and mistakes of spring and summer burn in a blaze of glory like changing maple leaves. In winter, they curl and die before the tranquil dormancy of winter. Fall people can start new.

She added an entry to her diary: Mark Roth is back. He makes me remember what it’s like to be alive.

Love can heal even the deepest scars …

My take:

I read a lot of romance novels. Sometimes I can predict where the story is going before the first chapter is over. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy the trip ~ it just means it's not always very surprising where I go. This book is nothing like that.

It is a rare book that includes older characters. Then you have the whole issue of their age difference (11 years) and whether they will be able to overcome everything that comes with that themselves - and how their families, friends, churches, and co-workers will respond. Mark proves his love in large and small ways ~ all of which help make this one of the most romantic books I've read in a while. Most of what he does shows respect for her as a person; caring for her needs above his own wants and desires. That shows love more clearly than anything else I know.

There is also passion here. I like a romance that builds and shows how two people in this fallen world need to... fight their desire. Although the author doesn't spend lengthy passages on scenes, you know that these two are attracted and have chemistry. It isn't one-sided either - both of them feel the attraction.

The characters are wonderful. From her getting nervous and forgetting how many scoops of coffee she put in, being insecure and doubting if Mark's feelings will go away or are really more a substitute for a mother's love, plus her guilt and wonder if her husband is still alive, Ann is a complex character that never seems to feel quite comfortable in her own skin.

Mark shows up on her doorstep after years away and a failed engagement all because he couldn't forget his feelings for her that bloomed as a nineteen year old. Now he's a successful lawyer with a faith in God and he's determined to try for the one thing missing in his life ~ the woman he's loved since he was that young man.

This was a fantastic love story with a bit of mystery to it. I really enjoyed it and I think you all will as well
. --

Lisa Lickel’s Meander Scar challenges us to rethink our ideas of love–to venture past the superficial so that we can focus on the heart, regardless of its packaging. This novel has a little bit of everything: conspiracy, a glimpse of high-society, romance, hatred, passion, mercy–practically the entire gamut of human emotions all wrapped up in about two hundred and thirty pages.

When we first meet Ann Ballard, the heroine, we are instantly drawn to her shy, insecure, yet gentle heart. Tied to a man no one has seen or heard from in five years, the upkeep is unbearable. Being connected to the lucrative Ballard trust, through marriage, does her little good because her spiteful mother-in-law does everything in her power to keep Ann from the money that is rightfully hers. And any hopes Ann has of breaking free are quickly shattered. But when a handsome man from the past shows up on her doorstep, promising Ann the love she’s always longed for but never had, her desire to be free increases to the point of desperation. It isn’t long before she takes matters into her own hands, eliciting the help of her handsome new lawyer friend. But when the web of lies that have become her life unravel, will she, and her only remaining son, be able to bear the truth or will it tear what’s left of their lives to shreds?

Although it took about forty pages or so for me to really get into this book, once I understood all the dynamics, I was hooked. Lisa Lickel turns our ideas of “Romeo and Juliet Romances” on their ears in a story that will keep you turning the pages long into the night
. -- Jen Slattery,

Why Lisa Wrote this Book:
Meander was a story that eddied in my mind long before I started writing seriously. I suppose all those backward romances in the Hollywood scene started me wondering why on earth no one cares, or it’s a joke, when much younger women are involved with older men, but not vice versa. Some of the disparately-aged couples I followed were Mary Tyler Moore, Susan Sarandon (who broke up recently), Karen Grassle (Little House), and of course, Demi Moore. I wanted to touch on that angle in the story and show that there’s nothing wrong with the picture. And then, there are all those people who go missing every year. What happened to them? To those they left behind? The two ideas gelled.


Author Bio:
A graduate of the Christian Writer’s Guild’s Apprentice Course, Lisa Lickel was a top ten finisher in the first Operation: First Novel contest. She has written and produced for radio theater and performed live. Her works have been released on FreeQuincy.podcast. She freelances for local newspapers and writes magazine articles, appearing in her national church magazine, Writer’s Digest, and You Can Write for Children, as well as devotionals. She also edits for local historical societies, and holds a bachelors of science in history and RECES.

Lickel’s novels include The Gold Standard, Healing Grace, and Meander Scar.

She enjoys membership in local book clubs and writing groups, as well as American Christian Fiction Writers, and Wisconsin Regional Writers. She lives in a hundred and fifty-year old house and is active in local historical societies. Married to a high school biology teacher, she enjoys travel, books and collecting dragons.
Please leave a comment and be entered to win this ebook, Meander Scar by Lisa Lickel, and the other features during the week, First Impressions by Michelle Sutton and Woman of Honor by Nicole Zoltack. (I've read all three and they're all GOOD!)
Happy Reading!
God bless.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Impressions, Michelle Sutton

Sammie Carpenter understands how a uniform influences behavior. Wearing her Army fatigues puts her in the mindset of a soldier, and donning her Class-A Uniform always helps her shift into Captain Mode. So what harm could come from her dressing like a saloon girl and strutting through the streets of Tombstone? She didn't know how to flirt to save her life, and she wasn't getting any younger.

When she met the lonesome stud cowboy, Jimmy, she knew he was the one. So why was their communication always so awkward? Couldn't he see that she was interested in him? No matter how hard she tried to win him over, she couldn't seem to get him to see past his first impression of her. But Sammie didn't give up easily. Somehow she would make him see that they were meant to be together, but how can she do that when all of her plans keep falling apart?

As he stepped inside the room, she rose from the recliner and moved toward him. He lifted his finger. "Just a sec. I'll be right back."
He stepped around her and headed for the laundry room at the back of the house. He prayed she wouldn't follow him. Things were already awkward, but if she saw his dirty boxers he'd want to curl up like a potato bug from the humiliation.
He peered over his shoulder. She hadn't moved. Whew!
"Just looking for a clean pair of socks. It shouldn't take but a minute," he called from the other room.
Pretty sure his socks were still in the dryer; he reached inside and found them as anticipated. He emerged from the laundry room with a satisfied grin and held up his prized socks. But she wasn't on the recliner. Somehow she'd gotten out of the chair and slipped across the room to stand next to him.
His smile faltered and he cleared his throat. "I just need to get my um, my sneakers… and… my shirt and then I'll be ready to head… out."
Sliding his feet toward his bedroom door like a dance step in the Electric Slide, he angled his body sideways to get past her. She stood in front of the entry and leaned on the frame. Part of her body blocked his way. A very sexy part that he didn't dare brush up against. Oh man, that was tempting.
Her incredible brown eyes watched his every move. Her lower lip jutted out just a little. Those pouty lips would be the death of him yet. They seemed to dare him to do something about her standing in his way. She smiled up at him and he returned the same, trying to make light of the situation by wiggling his brows.
Which was difficult because his pulse was racing.
Again he tried to pass her to enter his bedroom, but she moved until she fully blocked his entrance. He examined the feisty grin on her face and tried to guess what she was thinking. Maybe she just wanted him to kiss her and acknowledge her presence, and then she would let him pass by. That was what he'd do.
With socks in one hand and his other free, he anticipated brushing her lips with his. He would just give her a quick peck and move past her and into the bedroom. They'd already had too many steamy encounters. One more could be cliffhanger dangerous.
He leaned down and she placed her palms on his bare chest. His kiss was intentionally brief.
She surprised him when she ran her hands lightly over his chest hair and regarded him with amusement as if to say, 'Is that all?'
His throat clogged. He couldn't speak. She'd drawn him in to that sticky web again with the sultry look in her eyes. He knew exciting, yet bad-for-a-Christian activities were ahead if they stayed in his house alone.
She offered a coy smile and pulled his head down until his mouth touched hers. He intended to pull away, but found himself resisting common sense. Then she kissed his neck, working her way up to his ear, and he forgot what he'd intended to do.
In fact, the pleasurable sensation was so powerful he failed to move at all. He made the mistake of lingering as she kissed him. When she pressed her body against him, he stopped resisting and dropped his socks.

I love Ms. Sutton's writing! Her stories dig deep into the inner soul of her characters and deal with issues and feelings and longings that are common to us all, but ones which the typical Christian novel does not deal with. Where other novels gloss over our inner urgings, Ms. Sutton faces them head on without fear. I would say this particular story deals with lust vs. love. What is the difference? What does God say about this? He created our attractions, after all. They are not inherently evil. But what do we do with them? How can we harness them in a world where no one seems to? Although there is alot of sexual innuendos in this book, there has to be in order to get the points Ms. Sutton wishes to get across. The characters are real and likeable and we really feel for them. Let's face it, all of us have been in similar situations. Some of us have fallen. Others have overcome.

Ms. Sutton's writing is crisp, simple, and clear and makes for an enjoyable, fast read. Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone, even as young as 12. My reason? They are going to face these issues in school and with their peer. Why not face them in a story where the characters make the right choices and God is glorified. Bravo to Ms. Sutton!
-- Marylu Tyndall

Ms Michelle Sutton has written a wonderful poignant book about the connection of two people who faced problems and struggled daily to overcome them. It is unusual to read an inspirational story with true-to-life conflicts the characters have to face. This one was realistic. It delved into how they had to deal with their sensuality. I found this book so believable and didn't want to put it down.

Sutton explored her characters as they both wrestled with their emotional conflicts. She presented more in-depth studies of this couple than is usual. I felt as if I was living through this with them. There were several supporting individuals in the manuscript that played pivotal, although small, roles.

I am excited that this is the first in a series. I cannot wait to read the others. This is another author I plan to put on my `must-read' list. I highly recommend this book to others. It has a fabulous storyline and Sutton's writing style is great. Kudos, Ms. Sutton!
– Brenda Talley. The Romance Studio

Why Michelle Wrote this Book:
This was the first novel I'd ever written and it went through a ton of revisions as I learned more about writing. I wanted to write a love story about two people who dressed up and playacted the parts of saloon girl and cowboy in modern day Tombstone, Arizona, for special events. I thought it would be fun to make them complete opposites and to have the hero be a solid Christian and her be just a regular career woman who happened to be enlisted with the Army. She's inexperienced with men and thinks playing a saloon girl will teach her how to flirt and be sexy. She's not good at flirting, though, and she's almost too sexy for her own good. The hero is so attracted to her he can't see straight and soon forgets that he loves Jesus more than anything else in this world. This story was written to show how hard it is to date a non-Christian and maintain a strong walk with Christ.
Other books in this series:
First Love (Oct. 2010)
First Response (June 2011)

Author Bio:
Michelle is an edgy Christian fiction author of over a dozen novels, a book reviewer, an avid blogger/alliance member, a mother of two teenagers, a wife, a social worker by trade, and follower of Jesus Christ.

Leave a comment for a chance to win this book, plus the other ebooks featured this week.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Woman of Honor, Nicole Zoltack

Romance/Medieval Fantasy
Aislinn of Bairdhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother's horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn's wish and she begins her long years of training.

Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparing classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love.

The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King's Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything... her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain it brings.

"Is there anyone else that you have feelings for, Aislinn? Is that why you don't want to be with Geoffrey?"

Aislinn blinked, thinking about his question. "I haven't thought about such things. I'm too focused on becoming a knight. That's all I'm worried about."

Caelan pushed back his chair and stood. With him on his feet, Aislinn had to tip back her chin to look him in the face, he had grown so much in the years since they'd first met. "There is no one else?"

She shook her head.

Caelan took a step closer to her, stepping so close he only had to whisper for her to hear him. "What if I told you that Geoffrey isn't the only one who favors your company?"

His closeness overwhelmed Aislinn and she tried to take a step back. Her shoulders bumped the bookshelf behind her and several books shifted, but none made enough noise to draw the attention of anyone else in the library. Caelan lay a hand against her cheek, his thumb beneath her chin, and with a gentle touched, forced her to look at him.

Her heart pounded hard in her chest like a caged bird and Aislinn caught her breath.

"Caelan," she whispered softly, but before she could say more, his lips covered hers.

Aislinn froze for a second as he held his mouth against hers, then heard herself sigh when he pressed closer and moved his lips. Aislinn's eyes fluttered closed and she raised her hands to lay them on his chest, feeling his heart pound as hard as her own. Then reality snapped at her and she shoved him away.

"Stop it!"

She pushed past the prince and rushed from the library, with several squires and younger pages turning at her escape. Aislinn ran to her room and slammed the door shut. She leaned against it and slid to the floor, her head in her hands.

How dare he kiss me!

But the worst realization was that she'd kissed him back. Even the memory now made her insides tremble and her hands shake.

Aislinn stared into the empty space of her chamber for several minutes, trying to push aside the memory that refused to leave before she finally stood. Completing her work would occupy her mind. She collapsed onto her bed and promptly fell asleep instead.

"Nicole Zoltack provides a well crafted story that focuses on emotion and anticipation. Not only a book that a young adult would enjoy, but a woman of any age who wants to enjoy romance and a strong heroine and how she gained her strength. In the future, we will see Nicole Zoltack ranking with many of the top authors we have come to love over the years. We will have a section of our bookcases or hard drives waiting for her newest release. I will certainly read the second installment in this series, Knight of Glory, due out in April 2010 because I enjoyed Ms. Zoltack’s writing and Woman of Honor that much." -- 5 stars, Em Epe - Dark Diva Reviews

With sword fights, passionate love, mythical creatures, and courtly games, Woman of Honor is my kind of book... Blending history with fiction, her writing is full of plot and adventure and her characters are strong and believable. Most of all, I grew to love all of them and cared about their hardships and successes...Ms. Zoltack has a few twists in store that will shock and startle as well as please...In conclusion, I thoroughly recommend this book for everyone that enjoys fantasy, romance and adventure! I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel, Knight of Glory. -- Book Reviews by Aubrie

Why Nicole Wrote the Book:
I'm obsessed with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The notions of chivalry and knighthood and honor call to me. One day while researching this time period, I decided to look up whether or not there really were female knights. And there were! In fact, there was an entire order of female knights - the Order of the Hatchet. When Aislinn petitions the king for her chance to train as a knight, she mentions these brave women who defended their town from Moor attack. Those female knights inspired this story.
Sequel - Night of Glory

Author Bio:
Nicole Zoltack loves to write and is willing to tackle many different genres - from fantasy to historical to romance to YA to horror to paranormal to combinations of those. Her first full length novel, Woman of Honor, tied for fourth in the Preditors and Editors 2009 Poll for Fantasy. To learn more about her and her writing, visit her website at:

Leave a comment and enter the drawing for all the ebooks featured this week.

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fire and Ash, Anne Patrick

Fire Investigator Sadie McGregor is called to her hometown of Emerald Point, Missouri to investigate a suspicious fire which claimed the life of a local college student. By appearance the fire looks accidental. What Sadie and the handsome new police chief discover will not only affect those close to them, but will rock the entire community and may cost one of them their life.

Half asleep, Sadie entered the kitchen and headed directly to the coffee maker. She took a cup from the cabinet, picked up the glass coffee pot and poured. Behind her she heard a roar of laughter. Looking down, she found the cup, as well as the pot, was empty. Aggravated, she glanced over her shoulder to the kitchen table where her family all sat watching her. "Who drank all the coffee and didn't start another pot?"

"That's what you get for sleeping in," Liz said with a grin.

Hannah got up and moved toward her. "Here, honey, sit down here and finish mine. I'll start another pot."

Sadie gave her a hug. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Now go on, sit down, and eat your breakfast."

She flopped down in the chair Hannah had vacated, traded the dirty place setting for the clean one next to it, then picked up her fork and stabbed the last pancake.

Joe handed her the plate with the last of the bacon. "Don't think that just because you were out all night that you're skipping out on church this morning."

Sadie glanced up at her uncle's comment just as Liz laughed. Sadie had hoped for a reprieve. It didn't appear as though she was getting one. "Fine, I'll go to church, but I'm not wearing a dress because I didn't bring one."

"You can borrow one of mine, I brought an extra one."

Sadie kicked her cousin under the table. "Mind your own business," she warned, a smile lingering just below the surface.

Liz seemed about to speak when Mary and Robbie ran into the room. Mary paused next to Sadie's chair. "It's about time you got up."

Liz laughed again.

Robbie climbed onto the empty chair next to Sadie. "Where were you last night?" he asked. "You were supposed to color with me."

Having just taken a bite, Sadie swallowed quickly, before turning to the young boy. "I'm sorry, Robbie. We'll color today, I promise."

"Okay." He plopped one elbow on the table, rested his chin in the palm of his hand, and watched her eat. "Are you coming to church with us?"

"Of course she's coming to church with us," Joe answered for her.

Sadie forced a smile. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."

Hannah filled her coffee cup. "So are you going to tell us where you were all evening?"

"No." Sadie scooped up her breakfast dishes and moved past Hannah to the sink. She smiled to herself as she rinsed off the plates and placed them in the dishwasher. She and Quinn had stayed at the arcade until Julius insisted he had to close. She'd had a wonderful time, despite her earlier confrontation with Dustin Zweener.

"Well wherever she was, the police had to bring her home. I saw a police cruiser leaving the drive shortly before one," Liz said loud enough for Sadie to hear.

"Did Sadie get arrested last night?" Mary asked.

Oh, good grief! Sadie returned to the table, grabbed her cup of coffee, and met Mary's widened eyes. "I did not get arrested. I was working on a case."

"You were with Quinn all night?" Joe joined in the interrogation.

Sadie rolled her eyes. "I'm going to get dressed. Where's your stupid dress?"

"Hanging in my closet," Liz answered with a smile. "Be sure and do your hair, you'll want to let him know there is a feminine side to you."

She ignored her comment and headed toward the stairs. "Is there something going on here I should know about," she heard her uncle ask, followed by a round of laugher from her aunt and cousin.

Five Stars from Danielle Throne: “I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was the best of Anne Patrick's work that I've read yet. The characters are in-depth, the setting familiar and homey, the arson investigation interesting and the romance sweet. This is a great read for a car trip or long afternoon. I pretty much read it in one day. Great characters and storyline. Very entertaining.”

Five Stars From Shawna K. Williams: "Fire investigator, Sadie McGregor, meets Police Chief, Quinn Harrington, during the investigation of a suspicious fire that claimed the life of a local college student. When evidence suggests the son of a respected citizen may be involved, small town politics come into play. Neither Sadie nor Quinn realizes just how dangerous that can be.

This is a book that people will enjoy even if they don't typically read Inspirational fiction. The elements of suspense, romance and faith intertwine effortlessly. I was never pulled away from the story as the characters expressed their personal faith, nor did I feel like it was an afterthought. It just played beautifully into the development of the characters and story.

On that note, it's clear that Ms. Patrick took great care in her research of personality and profession for both Sadie and Quinn. Each character was unique, likable and believable. Together they complimented each other quite well. I very much appreciated that Sadie was a strong and independent heroine, and yet, still very much a girl; and that Quinn, was a sensitive, masculine guy's guy, who liked dogs and wasn't ashamed to drive his girlfriend's yellow VW bug. That's secure!

So once again, I find myself applauding Ms. Patrick on her ability to weave elements together in perfect balance, and with a twist as well. Fire and Ash was a completely refreshing story, that also made me crave lemonade. If you want to understand that last comment, then you'll have to read the book."

Why Anne Wrote the Book:
The idea for Fire and Ash was first planted while watching the movie Backdraft. I love Robert De Niro as the fire investigator and was intriqued by what all goes into finding the answers as to why and how a fire starts. Then, while doing my research, I was fortunate in finding fire investigator Keith Tarbox to help me out. He read my manuscript, offered his expertise and made some great suggestions on how to improve my characters. Book research is good, but finding a contact in the field you’re writing about is much better. Keith was a huge asset in getting inside Sadie’s head.

Fire and Ash isn’t just a romantic suspense, it’s about Sadie’s struggle with her faith in God and the guilt that eats away at her because, as a child, she was responsible for the fire that claimed the lives of her parents and baby brother.

Most of us have emotional baggage from the past that we carry around with us, and we often times struggle with the big WHY God allowed this or that to happen to me. Whether we realize it or not, God places people in our lives to help us through those dark valleys. Police Chief Quinn Harrington is just one of the people God has placed in Sadie’s life to try and guide her back into a relationship with the Lord.

Author Bio:
Anne Patrick, known for her ‘Sweet’ Edge of Your Seat Romantic Suspense, has penned more than a dozen novels that are either published or under contract. Her books continue to receive four and five star reviews from readers and reviewers, and her best-selling eBook, Journey to Redemption, placed in the top ten in P&E Readers Poll as Best Mystery in 2009. Anne has an alter ego by the name of Kinzie Monroe, who writes Inspirational Romance. Anne, you might say, is the dark side of Kinzie. Anne’s books may be darker in subject matter, but they all carry messages of hope and faith. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she now makes her home in Kansas.

Don't forget about the weekly drawing. This week's winner will receive copies of Marrying Mallory by Diane Craver, Searching for Eden by Keith Madsen, and Fire and Ash by Anne Patrick.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Searching for Eden, Keith Madsen

Romance/Contemporary/Life Issues
When all you have ever loved is lost, where do you go to find if life can be good again? For Evan Jordan, searching for that answer takes him through some of the most war-torn areas of the world…to Eden.

When Evan Jordan's 14-year old daughter dies of cancer, he goes on a quest to find a place where children don't die, and where life is still good. The search is inspired by an interest his dying daughter expressed in the Garden of Eden. Could it be that such a place still exists somewhere? Using a small inheritance, he goes searching for that garden, hoping thereby to rediscover the goodness and innocence he lost with the young girl's death. Evan's story intersects with those of s beautiful divorced archaeologist, a 14-year old Hispanic prostitute, and an Iranian woman who killed her rapist; all of whom join Evan in his quest. The journey brings together Christians and Jews, Muslims and skeptics, all looking to recover a sense of goodness at the heart of life and human relationship.

Evan and friends travel through Iran and Iraq, and even to the Island of Bahrain, looking for clues to the Garden's reality, and whether it might still be found. They dig in ancient cemeteries, climb ziggurats, race through war zones and examine bizarre art carved into human skulls; all the time seeking the secret to humanity's foundational story. In the process of searching they run afoul of the Iranian government for getting too close to nuclear sites, they battle militants, and they have to decide who to trust in a very dangerous part of the world. Will what they find make it worth the risk?

" I consider myself pretty traditional when it comes to reading books the old-fashioned way, but just having finished Searching for Eden by Keith Madsen in e-book format I may just have to leap into the new millennium… Madsen does a splendid job of weaving tension, politics, romance, theology and history into an excellent story, and if you are at all interested in any of these subjects, I recommend Searching for Eden highly!" --Kelly Davis,

"A classic hero's journey... The archaeological information as is well-researched as anything found in James Michener's The Source, and includes fascinating theories about where academics believe the historical Eden may have been, and why…Highly recommended." --Terence Ward, Allbooks Review

Why Keith Wrote this book:
The Bible tells us that God made this world good, indeed very good. But somewhere along the way we have developed a callousness which the Bible calls "sin," and in the process we have lost our way, lost touch with the goodness of life. I conceived Searching for Eden as a search for the way back. A man who loses his daughter to cancer seeks to reclaim lost relationship. A teenage prostitute searches to reclaim the lost innocence of a childhood left prematurely. And a young Iranian woman searches to reclaim a world where it is safe to be female. All search for a world that has the harmony and goodness of Eden. As I wrote this story, a song came to my mind again and again, a song from my young adult years which proclaimed, "We've got to get ourselves back to the Garden!"

Author Bio:
Keith Madsen is a writer and minister who has served churches in Kansas, Washington, Oregon and New Jersey. Presently he is the Associate Pastor of Wilson Memorial Union Church in Watchung, New Jersey ( In his pastoral capacity he has counseled many families who have lost children and teenagers, a central part of the story in his work of inspirational fiction, Searching for Eden. He has also had an intense personal interest not only in the biblical stories about human origins, but also in historical and archaeological research into that subject. He has long thought that had he not become a minister, he would have liked to have become an archaeologist.

Keith has had a love of writing all of his life. He has used his writing talents in a variety of ways, including writing fiction, composing material for religious education, and writing plays for use in church and community theater. He has also done some acting himself, having particularly enjoyed playing the roles of Jack (C.S.) Lewis in Shadowlands, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Porfiry in Crime and Punishment. This background in drama has helped him both with character development and his dramatic touch in writing novels. Keith finds that being part of characters come alive is one of his greatest life pleasures.

Keith lives in Laurence Harbor, New Jersey with his wife Cathy . Together they have a "yours, mine and ours" family of four daughters (Jennifer, Angela, Carina and Kayla), a son (Brandon), and nine grandchildren.

Don't forget to leave a comment for Keith, and also be entered into this week's drawing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Marrying Mallory, Diane Craver

Is Mallory Harrington jinxed because her name means luckless?

Things have gone wrong for Mallory since she was a small child. All she ever wanted was to have a complete family and live happily ever after. It appears she has it all when she marries Toby Harrington and they have a son. Unfortunately, their marriage ends when Toby has an affair with his law partner. After their divorce, Mallory doesn't think she should ever get married again.

Mallory decides to do something for herself, and get a surgical procedure that she's always wanted. What she doesn't expect is her instant attraction to her surgeon.

She learns that sometimes faith is about accepting what can’t be changed and grabbing what God offers. Life must go on.

He realized he'd made a mistake having coffee with Mallory. He liked her too much which wasn't appropriate for a patient-doctor relationship. Add to that, he thought she was beautiful. Her dark brown hair shone in the bright sunshine that streamed in through the window by their table. Her brilliant green eyes mesmerized him. Incredible eyes with such a sparkle to them that he loved staring at them. Her warm smiles got to him, too. He'd noticed in the office Mallory had a tiny scar that looked like a dimple when she smiled. He'd wondered then what had caused the scar but hadn't wanted to ask her.

Maybe he should tell her that she could skip the nose surgery. Mallory's face had so much character with her strong cheekbones, overwhelming smile, beautiful eyes and personality that an imperfect nose was of small importance.

"Thanks. This is nice to relax after a rough day with junior high students." She took a sip of coffee. "And I love the smell of coffee. When I was growing up, I always woke up to the aroma of coffee brewing. My mom had to have coffee first thing in the morning."

"How about you? Do you get up at the crack of dawn?" He bet she looked cute even in the early daylight hours.

"I usually don't have any trouble getting up."

Should he talk to her about not having the surgery? Sure, he should. It was his obligation. "Mallory, I know Sharon put your name on the calendar for your surgery, but I'm not so sure you need to have anything done. Look at Sarah Jessica Parker. She has a strong nose."

"But my nose is bigger than hers."

"You might think your nose is imperfect because of the size, but I do think it gives your face character."

"Well, I can do with a little less character on my face."

"Your nose is large but it's aristocratic… like Princess Diana."

"And look what happened to her. Prince Charles loved Camilla." She snapped her fingers. "Guess what? Camilla has a small nose."

"But Princess Diana was considered beautiful." Like you, he wanted to say but didn't.

"I bet you're afraid I won't be happy with my appearance because I still won't have the perfect small nose. I understand that you can only do so much, but it'll definitely be a big improvement over what I have to live with now."

"I'm happy to do your surgery but if you should change your mind, I'll understand."

She gave him a warm smile. "You're stuck with me. I'm not changing my mind on this. I loved seeing the imagining of what I'll look like after surgery."

Mallory was definitely serious about having rhinoplasty. Part of him was glad because he'd be seeing her again several times, for sure. But he wasn't sure he liked that it'd be as his patient. "Then I'll see you in June for your surgery."

She cleared her throat. "What made you decide to become a plastic surgeon?"

The abrupt question caught him off guard. He thought about that for a moment. "I was impressed how plastic surgery made a difference in my sister's appearance. When we were still young, a stray dog came in our backyard and attacked her. Amy had to endure many surgeries."

"I'm so sorry."

"I'm still not sure why the dog went after her instead of me. We were both playing outside."

Her cell phone rang. While she pulled it out of purse, his eyes shifted to her mouth. Mallory had full perfect lips. Ideal for kissing. Big oversight spending time with Mallory outside the office. Now he was noticing her lips.

"In his book, ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’, Donald Maas states, “God works in little ways as well as big ones, so look for small moments of magic as well as big ones.” He then asks, “Have you ever felt that something that happened to you was fated?”...Well in Diane Craver’s book, Marrying Mallory, that is the precept she has used...For those who assume an inspirational romance cannot handle conflict, drama and suspense, I recommend they read Diane Craver’s Marrying Mallory, for it is all there."

Fennel - Long and Short Reviews
Rating = 4.5 Books
Voted BOOK OF THE WEEK 3/15/10

Why Diane Wrote this Book:
After reading many romances, I decided it was important to have a character with a physical defect, such as a large nose. Of course, not all heroines in romances are flawless beauties, but usually the main female characters have smaller noses. I decided that Mallory would not have a perfect nose. After her marriage ended, she would then decide it was time to do something for herself.

Mallory is a realistic character because I used my personal feelings in writing what she desired. I got into her mind completely because I know what it's like not to have a cute, small nose.

My large nose hasn't kept me from enjoying life. I've been happily married for thirty-four years to the same great guy and we've been blessed with six children. But I'll admit if I had extra money to spend on my appearance, I'd love to have rhinoplasty.

Divorce is another issue I tackle in Marrying Mallory. Even though I can't imagine ever being divorced, my character Mallory is a divorced Christian. She wanted to be married to Toby Harrington forever and have a happy family life while serving the Lord. When she learned Toby had an affair with his law partner, she couldn't forgive him so she agreed to a divorce.

Mallory struggles with her feelings for her surgeon because she feels it wouldn't be right for her to get married again God's eyes.

Author Bio:
Diane graduated with a degree in English and Speech Education from The Ohio State University. Before writing her books, she was a schoolteacher and play director. She met her husband, the love of her life, while teaching at an orphanage.

She is the mother of six children and lives in southwestern Ohio. Her dream vacation is going to the beach. Her husband is supportive of her writing career as well as her awesome children. Diane writes contemporary and inspirational romance, chick-lit mystery, and women's fiction.

Leave a comment to enter the weekly drawing!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Love Turns the Tide, Gail Pallotta

In Love Turns the Tide Cammie O’Shea faces a traumatic split-up with her fiancĂ© and has to leave her family and friends to take a new job in Destin, Florida. Heartbroken and alone, she needs God more now than she ever has. But for some reason she can’t explain she feels more estranged from him. A feature writer, she dreads meeting her new boss, the editor of The Sun Dial newspaper. However, her real source of angst turns out to be Vic Deleona, the influential real estate tycoon she must write about to help get the paper off its feet. While she refuses to open herself to another painful relationship he attempts to court her. Trying to get over her heartache, she continues to read her Bible and say her prayers. One day she reads Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Afterward she ponders how living in Destin possibly could be good for her. Then, break-ins occur at her and her friend’s condos and make her doubt the wisdom of living in Destin even more. However, Vic comes to their rescue. He even launches his own investigation into the crimes. Just when Cammie sees a different side of him she gets an offer to return home to her old job. Will Vic solve the crimes and win Cammie’s heart or will she leave?

Cammie O’Shea, the heroine of Love Turns the Tide, has returned from a business dinner meeting with Vic Deleona, the wealthy entrepreneur she’s been interviewing for The Sun Dial newspaper in Destin, Florida. Still hurt from a previous relationship, she’s vowed to never date again. When he asks if he can take her somewhere else, she says she wants to feed the ducks in the lake near her apartment. The excerpt follows.

“Do you want to go in and get something to feed the ducks or do we need to get them treats from the Magic Market?”
“No, I’ll be right back.” While Vic waited beside his Lexus, Cammie went indoors, rushed into the kitchen, and grabbed a whole loaf of bread. When she returned she said, “The little ‘quackers’ will eat well tonight.”
Then they strolled toward the lake, making their way onto the weathered gray bridge underneath lanterns that spanned the entire structure beneath the soft light of the moon and stars.
Cammie opened up the food and called out, “Here ducky, ducky, ducky,” into the still, quiet night. She and Vic tore six slices of the ducks’ treats into small bites, throwing them over the rail without talking.
Immediately Cammie heard, “Quack, quack, honk, honk.”
“I believe there are Canadian geese out there,” Vic said.
“Oh yes, you know how those snow birds like to come south. I think they got here, loved Destin as much as I do, and didn’t want to go home.” She couldn’t believe her own words. Had she hidden her true feelings about Destin somewhere in her heart only to have them surface suddenly when she wasn’t expecting it?
Vic took hold of her shoulders with both of his strong hands, gently turned her toward him. “Do you really like it, Cammie?” His eyes looked wistful, his face bathed in the fountain’s pink, blue, and yellow colors.
“Yes, I’m enjoying living here much more than I thought I would.” Cammie pulled free, tore up several more slices of bread, and tossed them over the gray weathered rail. “I had to move to Destin on such short notice. I’d never even visited here and had no time to find out anything about the place before I arrived.” She almost told him she’d had to hurry down here to interview him, but she thought better of that. “Needless to say, I begrudged the change at first, but not now.”
“I hope I’m part of the reason you like it here.”
Cammie stumbled for the right words. “Uh yes, I’m sure you are.”
“What kind of statement is that? Am I, or am I not, part of the reason you like Destin?” Small angry furrows creased Vic’s handsome brow.
Cammie stopped tearing up the bread slice she held in her right hand. “Do you want an honest answer?”
“Sometimes you are, but other times you aren’t.”
“That’s not much better. Would you mind giving me a ‘yes’ or a ‘no?’”
“Yes, I mind. Listen to the quacking. The ducks are hungry.”
“They’re going to explode. You’ve fed them nearly a whole loaf of bread.”
“I know. It’s getting late so I need to go.”
Cammie threw the remainder of the bread into the lake without pulling off small pieces, and they walked back to Cammie’s unit in silence. Vic saw her in the door and stood there for a moment. “Would you like to sit down?”
He looked hurt. “No, but thank you for a wonderful dinner, I’ll see you Sunday morning.”
After he left Cammie wondered if she had wounded his pride. No, on second thought, that was impossible.

After relocating to a temporary job in another state, Cammie O’Shea starts her new job at The Sun Dial Newspaper. She is doing this as a favor for her boss at the Cedar Fork newspaper and she needs the different scenery to forget part of her past. When she meets her new boss for the first time, she is not sure of his reception, but needs to make a go of the business.

After being put off by Vic Deleona for an interview and then having to reschedule it, Cammie is very apprehensive on seeing anger he expressed at someone else when she was in his office the first time. Because of the deceit from her last relationship, Cammie isn’t eager to start anything with Vic, but he continues to find ways to spend time with her through the newspaper. She thinks he is too arrogant and demanding, and the only thing keeping her from ending their association is her concern over what her boss back home will do, if she quits.

When her new friend’s condo is broken into twice and vandalism done to her condo as well, she is confused about who would do such a thing. In strolls Vic to save Cammie from any further burglary being done to her. He even goes so far as to attend church with her, and that was a bonus with Cammie.

This is quite a surprisingly different type of story with a Christian aspect, and I want to express my appreciation to Gail Pallotta for creating such a fabulous book. Love Turns the Tide is a heartfelt story for me, and the bible verses added a nice spiritual connection. I loved the scriptures that were written, and it aroused my curiosity to find them for myself. The villain, although a bit confused, turns out to be a little misguided in his thinking, and he needed to feel more love from his family.

Although there is not a lot of history given on either of the main characters, I really rooted for them to be together and to me, it seems they both needed each other. I am looking forward to reading more from this author, and can only hope she doesn’t change her style of writing.
-- Literary Nymphs

Cammie O’Shea had everything going for her, a feature writer at The Loop newspaper, engaged to Jay a wonderful man she met at church that is until…... she sees the newscast A women beaten, Jay the perpetrator……Now she sees his true identity. Shattered by what has happened, she has been offered a different job in Destin Florida. Help a struggling newspaper The Sun Dial get on its feet. Accepting the job her first assignment getting an interview with the arrogant egotistical Vic Deleona, real estate tycoon. All she sees is a power hungry self controlling man and vowing not to get to close to any man again it seems like Vic is looking for a relationship. Once she gets this interview over she can end it here and now or can she.

This was an excellent story with three main characters that grow on you right from the beginning, Cammie, Angie and Vic. The secondary characters are very much a part of this story line and they fit right in perfectly, including the ducks, which we cannot leave out. There is just enough suspense to the story to keep the reader turning the pages when someone has made it a point to vandalize Angie and Cammie’s condo’s. Can the police find the intruder before he strikes again and who seems to leave no clues. Just when the reader thinks they know who it is their mind changes just a little. Will this cause Cammie to stay in Destin or return home to family friends. What does her future hold.

When I started reading this newest book of Gail Pollotta’s I didn’t stop till I had it finished. I feel the bible verses were written into the story line very well reflecting on her thoughts about judging, faith and her prayers, without making the book preachy . The cover of the book is beautiful, simple but relates to the story, the characters are well defined and I feel like this book has a wide appeal, and can be accepted by many types of readers. It was interesting and a real pleasure to read.
-- Miss Lynn's Books and More

Why Gail Wrote this Book:
Before I started Love Turns the Tide I wanted to write an entertaining story that offered readers an escape and added something to their lives. Over the years I’ve talked to lots of people about their problems. When I was growing up one of my friends thought I’d end up writing an advice column in a newspaper, but I just listened to those who needed someone to talk to. I learned that people often work through their own problems, when they talk to someone else about them. However, I did hear about some heartbreaking relationships. Even though some couples meet, fall in love, and walk down the aisle, others get hurt over and over before they find the right person. Cammie, the main character in Love Turns the Tide, is one of those people. But, God had a plan for her life just as he does for each of us, and I wanted to show that. My idea was to create a book of faith and hope that took the reader to a romantic place.

Author Bio:
Love Turns the Tide is Gail’s first romance, but she’s been writing for as long as she can remember. Her first work appeared in a grammar school newspaper. Much later, she worked as an editor and copywriter. Then while helping her husband with his business she published poems and articles. While some of her articles have been selected for anthologies two ended up in museums. In 2004, the year she published Now Is the Time, her first book, the American Christian Writers Association named her a regional writer of the year. She lives in Georgia with Rick, her husband of thirty-eight years. When she isn’t writing she enjoys swimming, reading, traveling and visiting with friends and relatives.
Don't forget to leave a comment and be entered to win all three of this week's features, including Love Turns the Tide, by Gail Pallotta.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hearts Crossing, Marianne Evans

“How do you feel about God, Collin?”
“I don’t.”

Collin Edwards, a former parishoner at Woodland Church, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.

Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God, and the community of Woodland. Lately she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.

A beautification project at Woodland seems the answer for them both. Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists, but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better. Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.

Can Daveny trust in Collin’s fledgling return to faith? And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?

The closer he got to Woodland Church, the more Collin's tension increased. He faced that fact without flinching, and without apologizing.
He couldn't help the sense of anger he felt whenever he considered matters of faith, so he didn't try to stem the tide. Helping his mom is what mattered, and the thought kept Collin centered as he turned off Jefferson Avenue and into the church parking lot.
The single word exclamation was Collin's instinctive reaction upon seeing the church. Grounds were torn up in large spots and contractors worked at the open sores. Collin slowed his truck to a stop next to a series of graders, haulers and a semi presently swarmed by what he assumed were church volunteers.
He hopped down from the cab and released the back latch, looking for a person who might be deemed the project leader.
The fact that he stopped to stare drew the attention of a by-passer, who called affably, “Need some help?”
“Delivery. Can you point me to the right person?”
“That’d be Daveny. She’ll get you taken care of. Follow me over.”
They crossed the lot and closed in on a cluster of folks who were in scrubby clothes, water bottles and gardening tools in hand. At the center stood a slender, petite woman wearing jeans and a lime green t-shirt. They stepped up and Collin realized she was in the process of assigning volunteers to designated sections of the church grounds.
During a pause, Collin's escort spoke up. “Daveny, this gentleman brought us some supplies.”
“Perfect. Thanks, Gabe.”
With that, she turned. Collin's world tilted when her gaze lifted to his in greeting. Something overwhelming and instantly captivating swept through him like wind song when she smiled.
“Hi, I'm Daveny Montgomery.”
Collin stumbled over his own name, stalling out while he stared at her. There was a purity he sensed – elusive and instantly haunting.
“Collin Edwards,” he finally managed, taking hold of her extended hand. Firm grip, he realized, soft as silk skin. Nice.
Suddenly, he didn't want to leave. Not quite yet anyway.

Five Hearts – The Romance Studio, Brenda Talley
Ms. Evans has presented her readers with a highly-emotional, poignant book that (I promise) will tug at your heartstrings. She presented a plot that was impressive and involved several different support characters. These people were also interesting and drawn into the story. I loved the way this book unfolded. It showed a realistic look at Christians without being preachy or over-the-top. I know anyone who reads this book will love it. In fact, I hope there is a sequel.

4.5 Books – Long & Short Reviews, Orange Blossom
Ms. Evans certainly knows how to set a scene. Her word descriptions put you right there in a scene until you can taste the scented breeze. She writes sensually sweet which allows the reader into the heart of the characters as they experience every emotion in this whirlwind tale. It’s a story which touches the heart and tickles the senses.

WHY Marianne Wrote the Book:
I wrote the book in response to a contest sponsored by White Rose Publishing, and my entry ended up winning! What a thrill! I liked the idea of exploring an issue that hits all Christians at one point or another: Why does a loving God allow evil? Why does a loving God allow bad things to happen?

I think the last line of my blurb says it all: Even when we turn our back on God, God never, ever turns his back on us. My prayer is that readers take hope from that truth!

Other Books in The Woodland series (coming soon):
Hearts Surrender
Hearts Communion
Hearts Key

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.

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter this week's drawing. Winner will receive today's featured ebook, Hearts Crossing by Marianne Evans, plus And The Beat Goes On by Tracy Krauss, and Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

And the Beat Goes On, Tracy Krauss

Canadian born archeologist Mark Graham unearths a remarkable discovery while at a dig in the mountains of Zimbabwe – pterodactyl remains and giant human bones buried together. Speculation leads to the possible existence of a mythical race known as ‘Nephilim’, a pre-flood people alleged to have descended from both gods and men.

But skepticism and sabotage delay Mark and his team as the dig site is compromised, putting their discovery – as well as his very life – in grave danger. Deceived and framed by trusted friends and colleagues, Mark struggles to safeguard his findings and protect his reputation in order to unearth the mystery behind the Nephilim.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…” Genesis 6:5 KJV

Tom-tom . . . tom-tom . . . Pulsing . . . throbbing . . . the earth reverberated. Dancers leapt to the ancient rhythm, their half naked bodies, glistening with sweat in the firelight, twisted and arched, as the primal beat called to the pulse within. Overhead, the display case of heaven sparkled, the diamonds large and brilliant against their black velvet nest. Accompanying this was a symphony of sound; a full choir of heavenly voices carried on the solar winds through the crystalline canopy of heaven to the sons of earth below.

The heavy scent of giant orchids which bloomed along the outer perimeter of the temple gardens mingled with the spices and perfumes that were thrown into the fire by the temple priestesses. It had all been set in place for his honor; soon to be absolute ruler and son of the gods himself.

High above the ornate alter, around which the dancers poured their carnal worship, a handsome, young, would-be king watched from his seat of honor. His heart beat quickened, for he knew what was coming next. He had once before witnessed the ancient ritual, as a child, when his own father had been crowned king; had become god.

Abruptly, the drum ceased. A hush swept through the crowd of onlookers who circled the stone platform. The dancers and priestesses scattered. From out of the shadows marched twelve beasts. They were human in appearance except for the gigantic wings, leathery like those of a bat, which were folded across their backs and whose tips nearly touched the ground. Each man was tall and well muscled - the finest and bravest in the kingdom. They were the king’s guard, especially chosen and groomed from boyhood; a privilege for only the strongest and bravest. They would accompany the king wherever he went – even to the grave. As descendants of the Nephilim - the race of giants born from the union of the gods and mortal women - they feared nothing; not even death.

The guards lined up on the large platform, facing the king, as the chief among them solemnly ascended the flight of stone steps that led from the platform and alter to the king’s throne. From here he would have a good view of every spectacle. The guard saluted, turned, and gave the signal to the others.

With precision, the guards stepped back to form a corridor. The here to fore silent crowd could not help but murmur. A wave of ‘oohs’ rippled through the masses as six burly slaves led the captive forward, shackled, hobbled, and muzzled. Even then, it was a struggle to get the huge beast prostrate upon the altar of sacrifice. Its beady eyes glistened as its leather wings twitched.

A priest came forward, gilded knife held high over the creature’s heart. A slave released the muzzle that had kept the creature silent and the knife plunged directly into the heart of the animal as a piercing scream echoed through the forest, seeming to rebound from the canopy of the brilliant sky.

Other skilled workers moved quickly into place, and with a few precise cuts, the huge leather wings were removed. Next the head was severed, the brains neatly extracted, leaving only the long pointed beak, majestic red crest, and beady eyes intact.

Blood dripped from the newly hewn crown as it was placed reverently in the hands of the chief guard. With dignified solemnity, he carried the grisly trophy up the long stairway to the king. The priest followed closely on his heels. The prized headpiece was placed on the king’s head, even as blood continued to drip from its depths onto his hair and beard. The priest, who had brought with him a goblet of the animal’s blood rendered from its jugular vein, presented it to the sovereign. He whispered the ancient words of the deity into the king’s bloody ear; an incantation meant only for the gods, not mortal ears. Slowly the new sovereign raised the goblet to his lips. Without wavering he took a swallow from the cup, letting the blood trickle from the corners of his mouth. Lowering the goblet, his handsome face was suddenly spoiled by a malicious grin.

The priest stepped back as four others came bearing the wings, still attached as one piece by the skin of the creatures back. They were strong men, but even they let out a grunt as the heavy cape was settled onto the shoulders of the monarch. He thought for a moment he would not be able to bear the weight of it. Once the wings were properly cleaned and tanned, they would weight much less and he would be expected to wear them for all public ceremonies. But for this night, he must bear the full weight of the mantle, blood and all.

The blood, which the priest had mixed with some special herbs, was giving him new strength, however. And the words...those secret words passed down from the outer world of his ancestors . . . words which no human could hear . . . these also gave him power. He was one of them, now. A god among men. He straightened majestically in his seat, as if the weight on his shoulders was nothing more than an ordinary cloak made of woven material. He smiled his bloody smile again, flashes of white peaking through the glistening red, and raised his hand in salute.

A cheer went up from the crowd. The heart beat of the tom-tom was revived. People rushed forward to clap and dance around the flaming torches that skirted the perimeter of the platform, as the dancers resumed their gyrations around the altar of incense. The tempo became frenzied as dancers and spectators alike became more agitated. Some began screaming and wailing; others tore at their clothing, leaving themselves exposed. Just when it seemed the festivities were about to turn into a full fledged orgy, a trumpeting signal brought the writhing crowd to a standstill.

The guards remained steadily at their posts, circling the outer edge of the platform. The tom-tom took up another beat, this time methodical and solemn, as a priestess, waving a fragrant branch of flowers before her, led a procession from the darkness of the forest into the light of the torches and then up into the centre of the platform. With her were twenty-four maidens, all beautiful in their delicately fluttering garments; all virgins, never even setting sight on a member of the male gender before. They had been raised for this purpose; innocent, yet knowing that their lives held great significance. Now was the time for the fulfillment of that purpose.

The air was heavy with perspiration and heat. The tension and anticipation of the coming spectacle were almost too much for the crowd to bear. The priestess finished her brief words of blessing. One word from the King now was all it would take.

With relish the newly crowned king surveyed the virgins. Beautiful, innocent and ripe, every one. His own lustful desires rose up and he grinned widely. He would also have his pick, but at a later time, in the privacy of his own chambers.

Suddenly, a flashing sheet of light swept across the sky to the east, followed by a deep rumbling much like the mighty cascading noise of a waterfall. The crowd gasped in fear. Perhaps it was a sign of approval from the gods, he thought. He hoped. Somewhere deep within he heard another voice. His father had told him once about a man - a lunatic - who had been building a boat from before his grandfather’s time. He was a self proclaimed prophet and said that the earth was to be destroyed by a flood. It seemed ridiculous then and even more so now. The crazy man had been giving his warning for hundreds of years and nothing had happened yet.

Besides, he was a god himself, now. He was absolute ruler, at least in this part of the world. His own ancestors had left the area where the lunatic lived long ago, partly in search of treasure; partly to get away from his teaching. They had settled far away in a prosperous and fertile land. And here they had been met by the gods.

As if in answer to his thoughts, another amazing spectacle lit the sky. This time it was a giant forked bolt of light, followed by an even louder crash. The people gasped again; someone even screamed. He must take control. With a lion like roar, the king lifted his arm, giving the signal. “The gods, my fathers, are pleased! Let the ceremony continue!”

The guards, who had previously been standing at attention around the perimeter of the platform, suddenly jumped into action. Without any delicacy or ceremony, they charged at the group of maidens, grabbing their chosen prey and proceeding to rape them with violence and brutality right before the gaping crowd of onlookers. The mob cheered on encouragement as the fetid orgy continued before their eyes on the platform. Potential escapees were thrown back into the arena for more, as each man exercised his rights to the full. Before long, many onlookers joined in the debauchery; some willingly, others not. It did not matter. This was one night when anything and everything was acceptable. The king looked on in sadistic pleasure, hungry lust burning within his own loins. But gods had control over their desires. He must remember that. His time would come later.

Another sheet of lightning crashed along the horizon, illuminating the spectacle below. This was followed by a forked bolt, spectacular in its intensity and brilliance. Some of the people started to scatter in fear; others seemed to be spurred on. The king ignored the uncertainty in his own heart. With another roar, he stood with outstretched arms and shouted his approval.

“And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6: 12-13 KJV

When archaeologist Mark Graham unearths the remains of a pterodactyl at
a dig site in the mountains of Zimbabwe, his discovery isn’t all that remarkable –
that is, until he sees the remains of gigantic human bones buried beside it.
Suddenly, speculation begins to mount about the true nature of the fossils, with
most opinions pointing to a mythical ancient race of half-god, half-men known as
the Nephilim. However, as he wends his way through the ensuing web of
deception, sabotage, and betrayal, Mark struggles to preserve not only his
momentous discovery – but also his very life..
Cleverly crafted by author Tracy Krauss, And The Beat Goes On is quite
the satisfying read. Ostensibly a mystery/suspense thriller, Krauss’ engaging
narrative is more a subtle commentary on the fundamental tenets of Creationism;
however, rather than coming off as preachy or pedantic, Krauss provides the
reader with solid facts and historical evidence that anyone will find it difficult to
ignore – regardless of your personal belief system. As such, Krauss successfully
engages the imagination while simultaneously provoking higher thought, a feat
difficult for even the most seasoned writers to achieve.
Enlightening and entertaining, And The Beat Goes On is sure to provoke
many a heated discussion throughout the faith community and beyond. An
enjoyable, recommended read.
-- Apex Review

Excellent Book! Very Well Written!

This book was a great read from start to finish. I really enjoyed reading it and had a hard time putting it down. The author really knows how to get and keep her audiences attention. The story centers on an archaeologist and while some books nowadays go WAY too in depth about the process of being an archaeologist (or a CSI or whatever) it can get boring very quickly. Krauss does a great job of giving us ENOUGH info about what Mark is doing but not TOO much that it leaves you skimming to the next page. This book proves that science fiction and religion can meld together and that they are not mutually exclusive. It also shows a real world perspective on things, not the typical rosey coloured fictionland that a lot of books portray. Overall this was an awesome book and I would really recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction. It was a great read!

Reviewer: Lydia QNSNK Hibbing

Why Tracy Wrote this Book:
Essentially, And The Beat Goes On is a commentary on the Creation vs. Evolution debate, while at the same time a redemptive story about one man’s inner struggles with faith. I became interested in the topic for the first time when I became a Christian and was faced with the huge discrepancy between what the Bible had to say about the origins of the universe and what mainstream scientific thought had to say on the subject. This led to much reading and research, which I later put into use when I decided to homeschool my own children. When I decided to write the book, I had already finished another novel called Play It Again – the story of an ex rock and roll junkie and a stuffy accountant whose one night stand has complicated outcomes and eventually leads them both to redemption in Christ. The protagonist’s son, Mark – a studious eleven year old who likes fossils and arrowheads – seemed like the perfect character for the this next novel. (Thus the tie in with the musical reference in the title) I am also a long time Sci-fi/fantasy buff, so I wanted to somehow include some references to the Nephilim – those mysteriously wicked people who lived before the flood.

My hope is that readers will first and foremost enjoy the book as a good story, for that is what fiction is supposed to be. I do not pretend to be an expert on the scientific aspects of Intelligent Design, but I have tried to include enough information to at least whet the appetites of those who are interested, without coming across as pedantic or bore readers with long scientific explanations. Many issues raised are left somewhat open ended, since it is my belief that intelligent people need to make up their own minds about what they believe, not just take someone else’s word for it. Also, I wanted to highlight the grace of God and point to Jesus as the answer to even life’s most difficult questions. The book is a mystery, a suspense story, and also a romance. In the end, I hope readers will be entertained, but also left pondering the bigger questions of the universe.

Author Bio:
Tracy Krauss grew up in small town Saskatchewan and has always enjoyed writing, along with many other creative pursuits. She received her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Saskatchewan with majors in Fine Art, and minors in History and English. She has lived in many interesting places in northern Canada with her husband, a pastor with the PAOC, and their four children. She currently teaches English, Art and Drama at the High School level and lives in Tumbler Ridge, BC.
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Destiny's Designs, Regina Andrews

Everything fits together neatly in Lisa Machon's well-ordered world until the dashing Neil Lamont sails in, creating an unsettling torrent of adventure and emotions which cause her to question everything about her life - even her faith. Lisa has carefully designed every detail of Innovations, her Newport, Rhode Island interior design firm, from the chintz window treatments down to the plush carpeting on the floor. Control has been the objective in her personal life, too. Until she meets the sailor Neil Lamont, a man who doesn't seem to have a care in the world. Little does she know that he is not as fancy-free as he appears. They are united only by their mutual affection for Countess Lamont, Neil's mother, and destined to go to great lengths to bring her happiness. Through faith, will they see that Lord is really in control of our lives? And will faith open their hearts to their love for each other?

But you have showered me with blessings, Lord, none of which I deserve. How am I to best serve you?

Silence. Once again, the answer she hoped to hear from God did not arrive.

She sighed, starting to print copies of her lecture notes for her students. She gasped and jumped up when Neil burst into her office.

He held the door wide open and knocked on the frame, shaking the clapboard shop. "Anybody home?"

Lisa shook her head. "You'll huff and you'll puff... but you can just come in. Good morning."

"You tell me what's good about it."

He closed the door behind him, then ran his hands through his tousled hair. Lisa noticed his broad his palms and strong fingers. His ringless finger...

Oh, Lord! I do not need a distraction named Neil Lamont!

Destiny's Designs is a delightful story that whisks readers from New Port Mansions to European resorts, as they follow the careful Lisa Machon and carefree Neil Lamont on their adventure to find a priceless treasure -- and find out who's trying to destroy the Lamont shipping dynasty. In all of their searching, will they find each other?

This is a quick, inspiring read that left a smile on my face. The underlying theme is about letting go of the course we plot for our lives, and allowing God to steer instead. I especially enjoyed the story's descriptive settings and eccentric characters. You will too. --
Shawna K. Williams

Why Regina Wrote this book:
"There have been times in my life when I wanted to be the one to let God know how things were going to work out. Go ahead and chuckle, because it is so funny and foolish - God is the only one who is ever in control! I wrote Destiny's Designs to explore the questions of faith, control and freedom in our lives, and to hold up a mirror to the faith in my heart. In doing so, I realized that true faith requires the courage to "Let go, let God," for only then will the joy of God's love fill us as He means it to. Also a key component to me was an examination of the themes of status, society and wealth; for at the end of the day, no matter how much we may have materially, it's our spiritual connections with each other and with God that illuminate us and bring meaning into our lives."

Author bio
A resident of Providence, Rhode Island, Regina graduated from Providence College . She attended the University of Delaware Graduate School, eventually earning her Master's Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. She is inspired by the seashore and the song of the birds... anything to do with nature. She and her husband enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod. As a volunteer for In-Sight, Regina assists her visually impaired neighbors in many ways, particularly through her radio broadcasts. Her hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing and Gardening. She and her husband just welcomed a new addition to their family, a calico super-cat named Tiana, whom they adopted from the Potter League Animal Shelter in Newport, RI.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In the Manor of the Ghost, Tina Pinson

Devlin is a lawyer, with a unique background. Although he has a gruff exterior, he also has a quiet accepting spirit lurking deep within. The Manor Devlin lives in, was once a place of joy and safety. It was a safe house during the Indian Raids a decade earlier. After losing his wife and daughter, Clayborne Manor has become a dark, sad place with too many haunting memories for Devlin. And the walls around Devlin's spirit seem to be almost as thick as the Manor's.

Kaitlin lost her husband and daughter in a fire, and went through years of Therapy for her burns. She hopes moving to Minnesota to live with her sister, Constance, will help heal her spirit.
Accepting a contract to marry Devlin, Kaitlin finds herself living in the Clayborne Manor. When she begins to uncover secrets and resurrect ghosts, she questions the wisdom of her choice to marry Devlin. Does she have the strength to break down the walls that confine those who reside in the Manor? Does she have the faith to lead them to the one who sets the captive free?

He needed to get home.

Spurred, he tried to rise, to walk, his leg clung heavily to the earth, a finger of pain ran the length of his body from ankle to head. Crawling, his teeth clamped on his lips, he dragged the screaming limb. He had barely covered a yard when the torches broke the trees.

Lying back with a disgruntled sigh, he prayed the mob wouldn't find him in the winter barren field. If only it were summer, if only the grasses were high. He hoped the mob would be blinded and the clouds would continue to hover like a shield between him and the moon.

Hope dwindled as the clouds pulled back. "I think I see him," someone yelled. And hope died.
He shrank back, unmoving, praying he'd melt into the field, praying wisps from the breath he desperately tried to hold, wouldn't betray him.

With a long slender finger, his betrayer pointed toward him from her place at the head of the pack.

Like a child, he closed his eyes, hoping to disappear, but knew the futility of his dream when he heard footsteps break the frozen ground to this left.

He opened his eyes in time to see the gun. Opened his mouth to scream, it was never heard over the report.


Shawna K. Williams

Kaitlin Franklin has her doubts about the mysterious Devlin Clayborne, but she agrees to marry him anyway for the sake of his son. The young boy cowers from his father and hasn't spoken since the night his mother and sister went missing. Kaitlin soon discovers that in a mansion full of shadows things aren't always as they seem, and she must uncover the truth before it comes back to haunt them.

In The Manor of the Ghost is a suspense filled story that kept me guessing until the end. Superstition, prejudice, hidden family secrets, all play into its intrigue, with plot twists throughout.

This book was a good-ole-fashion mystery which built into a clever crescendo with all the pieces falling into place at the very end. The conclusion was as satisfying as winning a game of Clue (which I love). The only hint I'll give is this: The____did it in the _____with a ____.

I highly recommend.

Kathleen Maher
Few books have had this effect on me: I finished in three days, and most of the time, I was reading past midnight to find out what would happen next. The story questions were beyond compelling; they were insistent. Who is the ghost? What are the mysteries lurking in the secret passageways of the manor, and why so much grief and guilt in the eyes of those who live In the Manor of the Ghost?

When Devlin Clayborne arranges to have Kaitlyn Dupree marry him, he has no intention of personal interaction with his beautiful, loving bride. Instead, he writes a business arrangement wherein she serves as "mother" to his child, and in turn, she becomes lady of the manor. Her reputation for kindness and her love for his son precedes her, and when she comes to stay, he does not account for the way her compassion and tenderness affect him. But will it be enough to dispell the shroud of gloom from the home, or from his soul?

Kaitlyn comes to the Manor with reluctance. The master of Clayborne Manor gives her the creeps. She has heard the ugly rumors about him, and she wants no part of him until her brother-in-law talks her into accepting the contract. She loves his son, but she also feels responsible for the womens shelter from which he threatens to withhold funding if she does not agree to wed. But she has something that Clayborne needs more than all of his wealth and land and titles. God's grace. Will it prove enough to go around?

Clever writing, a twisting plot, and many slowly unraveling mysteries await in this gothic-feeling romance. Secrets, rumors, and a sparking romance pulled me onward to see if a happily ever after ending would win out as two stubborn souls with painful pasts find solace in one anothers' arms. For a debut novel, Ms. Pinson has proven herself with a riveting tale and characters that will keep you guessing.

In the Manor of the Ghost has romance, a love story and a ghost. I'd like to think it's a pretty good read. But it's important to remember that some of the houses we reside in aren't always made of lumber or stones. They are fashioned from our fears and are as thick around us as a wall might be. Some of the Ghosts we face are those fears, real or perceived they haunt us.
While the main scene for In the Manor of the Ghost does take place in a manor, I wrote the story with a specific spiritual aspect in mind. It is my belief that as God is the author and creator of love and romance, some of the most beautiful love stories come out of two people growing together through good times and trials, facing their fears and turning them over to the Lord. My themes usually deal with forgiveness, grace and overcoming insurmountable odds for that reason.
I want to introduce my readers to a God who is bigger than any troubles, scars or sin my characters may have. He's a God of second chances and a God that carries us sometimes, and others, allows us to walk through valleys while guiding us. To help us grow. Having been a benefactor of that grace, I want people to know and understand the love God has for them.

Author Bio:
I was an Air Force brat and a navy widow. Meaning of course, my father was in the Air Force and my husband served in the Navy. I lived in Germany and Turkey and moved to several different states. Now I reside in Western Colorado--God's Country-- with my high school sweetheart, Danny. We've been together for 34+ years, (dated in high school) married to each other for over 30 years. I am mother to three grown sons. I have two lovely daughter-in-laws and four grandchildren, with another one due by the end of the year.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Never Without Hope, Michelle Sutton

Contemporary/Life Issues
Hope believes she is above sexual temptation; that she would never break that commandment like her husband's previous wives had done. After all, she is a good Christian and a loving mother. She has no reason to stray . . . until her husband starts neglecting her needs and things begin to look hopeless. Though she clearly communicates her pain to her husband, he refuses to get help. She starts to wonder…Will she never have sex with her husband again? She soon learns that she, too, is capable of such betrayal when she succumbs to the unthinkable.

But things that first seemed sweet and reasonable given her painful situation soon produce a bitter taste when combined with the overwhelming guilt. No substitute will ever replace her love and desire for her husband. If only he would touch her like he used to. If only they could make love again. She misses him so much and wants to tell him the truth hoping it will propel him to do something to fix their problem, but she fears his rejection. Yet, she can't continue living such a hypocritical life. She knows it's wrong even though she continues to crave physical intimacy. Steeped in the quagmire of adultery, Hope must find her way back to solid ground to save her marriage. But will she lose everyone she loves in the process?


Once we arrived home, I wondered if James had really understood what I’d done. What I’d tried to tell him. He acted like nothing had changed. I readied for bed, wearing my short pink silk gown with the low cut neckline, his favorite. My long brown hair caressed my shoulders like silk. I draped a section over the front of my gown so it covered part of my breast.

I knew he liked my hair this way, so I gave it all I had, including the bedroom eyes. He gazed at me with sadness, and yearning. I wish I could take everything back and start over again. But some things couldn’t be undone.

“Come here.” My husband reached for me.

My skin tingled at his command, and he hadn’t even touched me yet.

I threw myself into his arms. “Oh, James. I love you so much.”

He held me tight for several minutes, then drew back until he could look into my eyes. “You’re my best friend, you know that? I thank God for you every day.”

Closing my eyes, I turned my head away. When he looked at me with such emotion, it haunted me. How could I have hurt him like that? I hated myself.

“Look at me, Hope.” He touched my chin and guided my head. “I want you to look me in the eyes.”

I lifted my lids and peered at him, wondering what he’d say next. Trembling at his touch. Pouring my heart out to him, but without words. I ached for intimacy and held my breath as I waited for his declaration of love.

“I’m not the man I once was, Hope. I can’t satisfy you anymore. I’m sorry.” His eyes filled with tears, and I felt lower than dirt.

Resting my head on his shoulder I held him tight. What did that mean? Was he telling me we’d never have sex again? I didn’t get it. With my face burrowed into his shoulder, I inhaled the scent of his musky skin, then asked, “What are you saying, James?”

“You deserve a younger man, a man with some life still in him. I just don’t feel well anymore. My drive is gone. I don’t know what’s wrong.” He sighed and turned away.

Maybe he hadn’t heard me when I’d told him what I’d done.

Maybe I was too vague, or he really didn’t get it. Now another chance to tell him presented itself. I could make sure he understood this time. I opened my mouth, but the words wouldn’t come.

His gaze slowly covered me from head to toe and back again.

“You are so beautiful.”

Tears now cascaded down my cheeks. “Don’t give up, James. See the doctor and ask him to help you find out what’s wrong.”

“No!” he yelled, making me jump. He shoved his finger in my face. “I’m not telling anyone about this. And you better not, either.”

“But how will it get fixed if you don’t—”

His face darkened. “I said no. I’m not talking about this anymore.” He stomped toward our bed and pulled back the sheets, then slid under them.

I stood with my mouth gaping. “Does this mean that we won’t ever—”

“Hope, honey, it’s not that bad.” His voice softened. “We love each other. What more do we need?” He peered up at me with a distant look in his eyes, like he’d resigned himself to a sexless marriage.

I hadn’t thought I was being selfish, but was I?

“James, there are things we can still do. Your hands work just fine. Sometimes I just like to kiss, you know? Nothing expected, just a kiss.”

He grunted. “Yeah, right, Hope. Come on. You know what you want.”

Was that so wrong? To want my husband? I didn’t get it. “Of course I want that, but I’ll take anything you give me, honey. Anything.”

“No! Not if I can’t follow through.” Frowning, he rolled over until he faced the wall, just like that.

Anger welled up in me. He’d given up too easily. It wasn’t right.

My fists clenched. I’d make him respond to me. I just needed to try harder to get him aroused. So I slid under the sheets and pressed against his back. With our son staying at his friend’s house, we wouldn’t have to worry about him barging in on us. So I kissed James’s hair, his neck, and inhaled deeply. My hand rested on his abdomen. I slid it lower. “Baby, let’s make some noise.”

He wedged himself between my arm and his torso and flung my hand off him. “Stop it, Hope. Just let me sleep.”

Let him sleep? Was this what I had to look forward to from our marriage from now on?

I folded my hands over my chest, stormed into our guest room, and turned on the computer. I hadn’t checked my e-mail yet, so until I cooled down, at least that would distract me from wanting to use his back as a punching bag.

After deleting junk mail, I scanned my list. Tony had e-mailed me. Excited and terrified, I gave in to the urge to find out what he’d written. My blood pumped so hard it made my ears ring.

Clicking on the message, I held my breath…

I still can’t believe what happened. It was like a dream. You make me happy.


Well, at least I made someone happy. I swallowed hard as I decided what I’d say in return. After deleting several potential replies, I ended up with this…

You were great. I will never forget what happened either. I’ll dream about it tonight, for sure.


Within seconds, he responded.

We can meet again. My wife, she is gone for two days so I am home tomorrow until I must leave for work. Call me?


His wife would be gone? Wow. That meant I could see him one more time. So what if all he wanted from me was the same thing I wanted from him. It helped me cope with a miserable situation, and from what he’d already told me about his wife, Tony wasn’t getting any action at home, either.

Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow.


Yawning, I stretched and started when my husband suddenly appeared behind me.

“Who is that e-mail from, your boyfriend?”

My face heated and I shrank from him. “Would you care if it was?”

He flinched. “Come on, Hope. I was being sarcastic. I know you’d never do that to me. Now let’s go to bed.”

“But I don’t want to sleep yet.” I gave him my most pleading look and raised the skirt of my nightie. “Touch me, James.”

“Dang it, woman! I told you how I felt! I just want you to come to bed. To sleep.”

“Then I’ll stay up.” I turned away from him.

He stormed into the other room and I heard him crack open a beer. Well, he could have his beer. I decided to watch a chick flick, since that would be the only romance I’d probably get. Too bad it had to be a fantasy, a work of fiction. I wanted the real thing, and from the looks of things, sex with my husband would never happen again.

Suddenly I felt less guilty about wanting to see Tony. If my own husband didn’t want me, then what other option did I have?

Besides, I’d only see Tony one more time. Then we’d end it. I’m sure he’d agree it was simply too risky to keep meeting, because one of these days we could get caught in the act.

Joy Tasmin David

The word on the 'net is Christian fiction doesn't come any edgier than Michelle Sutton. In the last few weeks, I've been all over the World Wide Web professing my love for edgy inspirational romance, so I decided it was time to pony up and try the edgiest on the market.

Sutton's reputation is well earned.

But along with the edgy content- and I do mean edgy, is an equally powerful message about forgiveness and God's grace.

Hope's life is such a train wreck, I wanted to reach right into the book and pull her off the tracks. She's cheating on her husband, lying to her family, and sleeping around in cars (okay, technically just that once- but still). She's headed for disaster.

Sutton built a sense of urgency in the first half of the book which made it hard to put down. I just knew this situation would blow up in Hope's face, and couldn't stop reading until it did.

I would consider this a nontraditional romance because the heroine spends the first half of the story with a man who is not the hero. This leaves the reader with a sense of unease that I can't help but think was intentional on the author's part. We feel the despair and the weight of her sin right along with Hope.

That connection to the characters is where Sutton really shines. Their emotions were authentic and heartbreaking and sometimes scary. She showed just how easy it is to fall into temptation when we don't keep our guards up. But best of all, she showed that with repentance, forgiveness exists for everyone- adulterers included. When you let Him, the Lord can repair even the most broken of marriages. With that knowledge, we're never without hope.

(And bonus points to Sutton for a rockin' book cover!)

Jeannie Campbell (The Character Therapist)

Under normal circumstances, I don't buy books about a woman cheating on her husband. I've rejected well-known authors simply because I didn't want to "go there" in a book. But I'm glad I did.

I was sucked in immediately. I thought of all the people I have counseled and am currently counseling who have been led into adultery. How the other man/woman suddenly becomes a an addiction. The heady sensation of losing yourself to something you know is wrong, but which feels so good (at least in the moment).

Michelle went the extra mile and demonstrated how sex is an emotional connection to someone else. It would have been easy to leave that part out (and no doubt easier to get this puppy published), but I'm so glad she didn't. I've counseled so many women whose guilt overwhelms them....because even though they know what they did was wrong, they still have an emotional connection to the person they cheated on their spouse with. Yes, even love them.
I also appreciated Michelle showing how a man's problem with erectile dysfunction can lead to significant problems in marriage when pride is allowed to run rampant. I just sighed when I read the parts with Hope's husband because it was so true to real life. Men don't want to admit they "have a problem," and many are willing to let their wives' sexual needs go unmet rather than seek medical attention for such a taboo subject.

Really, this is an incredible book that I'd recommend to any woman (Christian or not) in my practice who has had an adulterous encounter or is considering one. I think Michelle's book lays it out in pretty stark terms what can happen to a marriage, even one with Christ in it. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series already.

Why Michelle Wrote this Book:
I wrote the book because I know a lot of women who would like to have sex more often with their spouses and I wanted to show what it might look like if the husband continued to pull away and the wife allowed temptation to corrupt her thinking. It's a what if...question. Lots of couple have issues at some point in their marriage where one is more interested than the other in sex. The question that arose for me was... What if a Christian couple starts having intimacy issues? What would that look like? How could God redeem even a huge mistake like straying to another person's bed if true repentance occurred? That's why I wrote the story.

Author Bio:
Michelle is an edgy Christian fiction author of over a dozen novels, a book reviewer, an avid blogger/alliance member, a mother of two teenagers, a wife, a social worker by trade, and follower of Jesus Christ.

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