Tag Archives: Christian fiction

New Releases in Christian Fiction (June 2018)

June 2018 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

The Sleuth’s Miscalculation by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Librarian Nancy Daley loves a good mystery and enjoys moonlighting as a consultant for the sheriff’s department. When license plates go missing in Tipton County, she’s on the case. But she’s been partnered with the new deputy, Carter Malone, and he’s not interested in her help. When the minor case they are working morphs into something more, things quickly go from harmless to scary. Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late, and more importantly, what will they do about their growing attraction? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe — Hiring Amanda “AJ” McAlester as his assistant at the Big Heart Ranch isn’t foreman Travis Maxwell’s first choice—but his sisters insist she’s perfect for the job. And AJ’s determined to prove she’s just as qualified as any man. But with money on the line, AJ and her innovative ideas could put him at risk of losing everything…including his heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Enduring Love by Toni Shiloh — Belle Peterson is hiding a secret. Seeking sanctuary in the small town of Maple Run, she’s intent on starting her life over—one she hopes honors Christ. The plan was going great until an undeniable attraction to Micah Campbell has her wondering if she’s changed at all. Can love really conquer all or will Belle’s past be too much for Micah to handle? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


General Contemporary:

A Firm Place to Stand by Lori Altebaumer — Out of options, Maribel takes a safe enough seeming job, but soon finds herself in the middle of a murder, a search for a missing girl, and a race to find a lost treasure. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Kuwaiti Seeker by Jim Carroll — A young Kuwaiti Muslim searches for truth in Islam, but God finds him anyway. (General Contemporary, Crosslink Publishing)


General Historical:

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett — Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region’s wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty. After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he’s faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling? As Clark opens Olivia’s eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park’s story as its vistas–a revelation that may bring her charade to an end. (General Historical from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])


Historical Romance:

Orphan Train Sweetheart by Mollie Campbell — Spring Hill is the orphan train’s last stop—a final chance for Simon McKay to find homes for his young charges. When his fellow placing agent quits, Simon enlists help from the frontier town’s pretty schoolteacher. Cecilia Holbrook is as intriguing as she is independent, yet Simon’s devotion to his mission will soon call him back to New York. Long overshadowed by her flirtatious sister, Cecilia is done with waiting for a man to choose her. She’s already fighting the school board to keep her position. Now she’s struggling not to lose her heart to Simon. Could their shared concern for the children show them how to follow a new dream, together? (Historical Romance Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn — She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of-until a promise from his past threatened their future. (Historical Romance from Pelican Book Group)

The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman — In 1792, Quinn O’Shea leaves Ireland for Natchez, Mississippi, ready to force his oldest brother to reclaim the role of family guardian so Quinn can be free to pursue his own adventures. While aboard ship, a run-in with tenacious yet kind Kiera Young and her two Irish sisters lands him in the role of reluctant savior. Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera realizes her intended groom never existed and a far more sinister deal has been negotiated for her and her sisters. Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter — When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. Graham, intent on finding his friend’s missing sister, is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling. After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different, but long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. As much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer — Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. She’s made a safe haven with Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers. Seeking justice against the gambler who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Instead, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Romantic Suspense:

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Vast and Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter — After losing his closest friends and now his girlfriend to the ravages of war, Caden Wallis arrives on the Outer Banks for one final mission–to thank the woman who sent him a quilt while he was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital. McKenna Dockery knows about loss. She juggles the family business, her ailing father, and an aging grandmother. Much to Caden’s surprise, she–not some elderly lady–is the quilter. The quilt was something she’d begun for her future husband but shipped to the military hospital after the tragic death of her fiancé. When a man is found snared in a net and murdered on McKenna’s property, she and Caden must work together to bring the killer to justice. (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)

Ransom of the Heart by Susan Page Davis — Police Captain Harvey Larson’s exhausting day takes a big detour when a teenaged girl approaches him at the diner, announcing that she is his daughter. When Harvey is on his way home from work a few hours later, his sister-in-law Abby calls him. She went to meet her husband for a dinner date and found a dead man on the floor at his place of business, and Peter has vanished. Harvey calls in his detectives and turns his car around. It’s going to be a long night, too. Once again, Harvey depends on his wits, his faith, and his squad, the Priority Unit, to solve a tough case and carry out Maine Justice. (Romantic Suspense from Tea Tin Press)


Speculative:

Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams — Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged. Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army—singers who can shake the earth and master the sea—and monsters rampage across the land. As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer. (Speculative High Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

Review: Always Watching, by Lynette Eason

Always Watching, by Lynette Eason. Elite Guardians book 1, romantic suspenseAlways Watching, by Lynette Eason (Revell, 2016)

Olivia Edwards is an expert bodyguard, but when she’s thrust into the key role in guarding psychologist Dr. Wade Savage from an obsessive stalker, the personal walls she’s built start to crumble.

Olivia must keep Wade and his daughter, Amy, safe and maintain a professional distance even as she and Wade discover a strong mutual attraction. But Wade and Amy’s faith may help her find her way back to God.

Always Watching is a fast-paced, enjoyable read, with a bit of a twist at the end. The characters are likeable, and it’s far too easy to keep reading “just one more chapter.”

Lynette Eason is a multi-published author of Christian romantic suspense. Always Watching is book 1 in her four-book Elite Guardians series. For more about the author and her books, visit lynetteeason.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Guilty Blood, by Rick Acker

Guilty Blood, by Rick AckerGuilty Blood, by Rick Acker (Waterfall Press, 2017)

The worst thing in Jessica Ames’s life was losing her husband in a construction accident. Until her son Brandon is arrested for a murder he insists he didn’t commit.

Afraid the public defender assigned to Brandon’s case won’t have the time or skill to prove his innocence, Jessica turns to Nate Daniels, a successful corporate lawyer who’s also a family friend. The feelings that develop between the two can only complicate matters.

Nate, Jessica, and the other lawyer, Sofia, scramble to find witnesses who can point to who really killed the victim, who had ties to an international group of human traffickers, while Brandon tries to survive life in jail.

Guilty Blood is an engaging, well-written legal thriller. It’s a clean read, including a few Christian characters whose faith comes out naturally in the story. Brandon’s doubts about God, and his anger at the injustice in his life, also comes out naturally.

One of the things I appreciated about the novel is that although it deals with horrific subjects like human trafficking and gang warfare, the content is neither sugar-coated nor traumatic. The author does a great job of presenting the realities while providing a “safe” read.

My favourite character is Kevin Fang, a 30-something computer genius on the Autism Spectrum, whose hacking is instrumental in finding many of the keys to the crime. Actually, I picked up this book after “meeting” Kevin in a novella by Rick Acker included in the Kill Zone box set.

The novel talks a lot about DNA and computer hacking, but never in a way that’s skim-worthy or that requires a PhD to understand. The possibilities are interesting—and disturbing.

As well as writing legal thrillers, Rick Acker is a Supervising Deputy Attorney General. For more about the author and his work, visit rickacker.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: The Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. Carr

The Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. CarrThe Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House, 2018)

This is one of those books I didn’t want to end. It felt so good to be back with these characters, even in their overwhelming struggle, and I found myself rationing the reading time to make it last.

Willet Dura, the hero, has been my favourite all along, and I became very fond of Mark early on in this book.

The Wounded Shadow is the third and final book in the Darkwater series, and it’s not one to pick up if you haven’t started at the beginning. The scope is vast, and enough has happened that a reader starting here would feel lost.

In this, book three, the hints and threads set out in previous instalments come together in satisfying and surprising ways. Even nearing the end, I couldn’t see how this conflict could find a satisfactory conclusion, but it did.

I confess I didn’t fully understand part of the ending, but that’s me, not the writer. I need to re-read it and to talk to others who’ve also finished the story. For now, my limited understanding doesn’t diminish my sense that this is a rich, immersive series that I look forward to re-reading in the future.

I highly recommend the series, and suggest readers begin with the free ebook-only novella (you can read it on your phone if need be) By Divine Right. The rest of the series is available in print and ebook versions, and it’s too good to miss even a bit. Great characters, epic story, lots to love… even some humour.

This is Christian fiction with an allegory feel, and definitely without pat answers or anything trite or simplistic. As with everything else in the series world, the faith is complex and nuanced.

As well as the Darkwater Saga, Patrick W. Carr has also written The Staff & The Sword series (also highly recommended). For more about the author and his books, visit patrickwcarr.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

New Releases in Christian Fiction (May 2018)

May 2018 New Releases from members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW):

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Children’s:

Feebs to the Rescue by Kathy J. Perry — Feebs the kitten is new to the farm. She’s a long way from the farmhouse and doesn’t know her way home in the dark. Her new friend, Ollie the dog, needs help. Can she find the courage to lead a night rescue? (Children’s from Chickadee Words, LLC)

Nibbler and Captain Make Peace by Kathy J. Perry — Nibbler the beaver works hard to keep his lodge and dam perfectly patched. A river otter knocks a hole in his great work. Now he’s so angry, he could almost spit nails. Can he learn how to handle his anger? (Children’s from Chickadee Words, LLC)

Rascal’s Trip by Kathy J. Perry — Rascal the raccoon is sorry he ignored the warning signs He’s surprised by a whirlwind and he’s taken for the ride of his life. Now it’s up to the Bandana Buddies to help him learn the importance of thinking ahead. Can he stay out of trouble long enough to get back home? (Children’s from Chickadee Words, LLC)


Contemporary Romance:

Solo Tu: Only You by Narelle Atkins — Can two high-school teachers, a girl from Tuscany and a boy from Australia, risk everything for love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck — According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious–serious science, that is. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies, like why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge. Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart. (Contemporary Romance, Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hometown Reunion by Lisa Carter — Widowed former Green Beret Jaxon Pruitt comes home to face his toughest battle: reconnecting with his toddler son. He also makes an unwitting enemy of childhood friend Darcy Parks when he takes over the kayak shop Darcy hoped to buy! For little Brody’s sake, she’ll stay until summer’s end. But could a growing connection turn their temporary truce into an unexpected forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Room on the Porch Swing by Amy Clipston — When her best friend Savilla dies, Laura steps in to help Allen raise his infant daughter. She soon finds herself coping with the jealousy of her boyfriend Rudy, and her own growing attraction to Allen. Have Laura and Allen been brought together to console and support one another…or is there an even deeper purpose they must fulfill? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Cowboys of Summer by Mary Connealy, Tina Radcliffe, Lorna Seilstad, Sherri Shackelford, Cheryl St. John, and Missy Tippens — Six of Christian fiction’s most beloved authors join forces to bring you a collection of humorous, romantic and heartfelt novellas set against the sultry heat of summer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Bella Notte by Heather Gray — As a photographer who works primarily with fashion, Piero Carter is used to having his pick of beautiful women who want to be seen by his side. Felicity von Wolff is a makeup artist whose job takes her around the world. That’s all the adventure she craves. She has little use for Piero the Playboy. But when Felicity peeks over the wall she’s built to protect herself, she discovers there’s more to the people around her than she ever realized. What will it take for Piero and Felicity to stop hiding from life and open their eyes to the rich beauty God has in store for them? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter — Regardless of what any blood test says, Brady Collins will go to any lengths to keep his son. Even pretend his friend Hope is his fiancée. Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has finally been offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams. As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Finding Love on Bainbridge Island Washington by Annette M. Irby — A “broken” therapist with PTSD finds a fresh start at her family’s beach cabin, but when her parents hire her ex-boyfriend to finalize repairs on the place, they’re forced back into close proximity. He’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

And Cowboy Makes Three by Deb Kastner — Coming home with a baby and no wedding ring was just what everyone in Cowboy Country expected from bad girl Angelica Carmichael. But she’ll brave their scorn to fulfill Granny Frances’s dying wishes, even if it means ranching with Rowdy Masterson…her jilted ex-groom. Rowdy’s still bitter but this new, softer Angelica—paired with a precious baby—might be too lovable to resist! (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Falling for You by Becky Wade — A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin — then suffered the consequences when their relationship fell apart. Now that a decades-old mystery has brought them together again, they’ll have to confront their past and the feelings they still harbor for one another. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

Long Way Home by Brenda S. Anderson — Stuck on a six-day road trip with the man who once bullied her, can Lauren Bauman learn that love keeps no record of wrongs? (General Contemporary, Independently Published {ACFW QIP Author})

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli — The Hidden Side is about a family that is torn apart by the unspeakable actions of one of its members and how a woman from the past helps them to heal. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt — It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—until her middle sister Jillian’s engagement pulls the family back together to plan the festivities. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House)

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West — Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.
But soon, Savannah is given a challenge that she can’t run away from. Forgiving the unforgiveable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all. (General Contemporary from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


General Historical:


Faithful by Carol Ashby — When a foolish choice lands one man in a fight for his life, unlikely friendships are born, love blossoms, and broken relationships are restored as his best friend’s faith and courage guide the quest to rescue him. (General Historical from Cerrillo Press)


Historical Romance:

All for Love by Mary Connealy, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Jen Turano — Three of Christian historical fiction’s beloved authors come together in this romantic and humorous collection of novellas featuring prequels to their latest series. Mary Connealy’s “The Boden Birthright” journeys to the Old West, where ranch hand Chance Boden’s determination to be his own boss is challenged by his employer’s pretty daughter. Kristi Ann Hunter’s “A Lady of Esteem” follows a Regency-era young lady whose chance at love and reputation in society are threatened by a nasty rumor. Jen Turano’s “At Your Request” tells of a young woman who is humbled at her newly lowered status in society when she is reunited with the very man whose proposal she rejected. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Perfect Bride by Debbie Lynne Costello — Avice Touchet has always dreamed of marrying for love and that love would be her best friend, Philip Greslet. She’s waited five years for him to see her as the woman she’s become but when a visiting lord arrives with secrets that could put her father in prison, Avice must consider a sacrificial marriage. Philip Greslet has worked his whole life for one thing—to be a castellan—and now it is finally in his grasp. But when Avice rebuffs his new lord’s attentions, Philip must convince his best friend to marry the lord against his heart’s inclination to have her as his own. (Historical Romance from Forget Me Not Romances)

Backcountry Brides Collection by Angela Couch, Debra E. Marvin, Shannon McNear, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Jennifer Hudson Taylor, and Pegg Thomas — Travel into Colonial America where eight women seek love, but they each know a future husband requires the necessary skills to survive in the backcountry. Living in areas exposed to nature’s ferocity, prone to Indian attack, and cut off from regular supplies, can hearts overcome the dangers to find lasting love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Rebecca’s Song by Dawn Kinzer — A small-town teacher who lost hope of having her own family, and a big-city railroad detective driven to capture his sister’s killer, must do what’s best for three young orphans who need them both. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Love’s Silver Lining by Julie Lessman — A soft-hearted suffragist incurs the wrath of a bull-headed bachelor when she reforms his favorite girl at the Ponderosa Saloon. (Historical Romance (Western), Independently Published)

Redeeming Light by Annette O’Hare — While Sarah weathers the deadly storm inside the lighthouse, her prayers are for Frederick, caught in the midst of the tempest. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe — Elmer Smith didn’t need a man when she competed in the Cherokee Strip Land Run and she sure as shootin’ doesn’t need one to keep her land either. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Romantic Suspense:

No Safe Place by H. L. Wegley — A young man returning from the far country trying to regain his honor, and a young woman with a heart broken by her parents’ rejection because of her newfound faith, each have what the other needs, but will the assassin who put them on his hit list allow them enough time to discover what they have in each other? (Romantic Suspense from Trinity Press International)


Speculative:

No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens — As far as David Galloway knows, he can’t die. He wonders where he fits in the world, in God’s plan for the past and the future. He believes himself to be the only person on earth who hasn’t aged in over a century. He’s wrong about that. (Speculative from Barbour Publishing)


Young Adult:

Porch Swing Girl by Taylor Bennett — Left at her grandma’s house in Hawaii after a family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to fly home to Boston and stop her father before he does anything drastic. (Young Adult from Mountain Brook Ink)

Review: Dark Star, by Creston Mapes

Dark Star, by Creston Mapes (Multnomah, 2005) Dark Star, by Creston Mapes

Rock idol Everett Lester has dragged himself and his band from sordid beginnings to the peak of fame—and into as many excesses and vices as he can find. Through it all, two women hold increasing influence in his life: Endora Crystal, his personal psychic, and Karen Bayliss, a young stranger whose letters say she’s praying for him.

The novel is written in two intertwining threads: Everett’s past leading up to his present, and his present, told in the form of an autobiography written from prison while he’s on trial for murder.

It’s a dark tale of redemption, with elements of spiritual warfare and the occult. Some readers may be uncomfortable with scenes of Endora’s tarot cards in use. She does have power, which Christian readers would recognize as not the power of the occult but the power of the devil working through her.

I found the book a good read, although some aspects of the ending didn’t work for me. What I enjoyed was watching Everett discover the Light and then learn how to live it out as his world fell apart.

I love what Karen says to Everett at one point:

What do you think, that God’s looking at you going ‘Oh my! This Lester is a bad one… I better stay away from him, or he’ll rub off on Me?’ You think you scare Him? You think He doesn’t know your problems or can’t overcome your sin? He’s God, for heaven’s sake. [page 172]

Good message for any of us.No one's too far gone for redemption. If you liked Dark Star, try Heaven's Prey.

Dark Star was Creston Mapes’ first novel, followed by book 2 in the Rock Star Chronicles series, Full Tilt, and a number of Christian suspense novels. For more about the author, visit crestonmapes.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson

By Darkness Hid, by Jill WilliamsonBy Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson (Enclave Publishing, 2009)

In a world where orphans are physically branded as “strays” and subject to suspicion and abuse, Achan Cham has reached his teen years and somehow maintained a compassionate heart and a dry wit. Coming of age brings an unexpected opportunity to leave his kitchen drudgery and train as a knight’s squire—which thrusts him into conflict with the prince soon to be crowned king.

Then he starts hearing voices in his head, and discovers the legends of “bloodvoicing” are true. Those with the gift (he’d call it a curse) can communicate mentally across great distance.

Vrell Sparrow is a young noblewoman hiding out as a boy stray so she won’t be forced to marry the prince. She, too, has the gift, and there are those who want her secrets—and her service.

Many citizens follow pagan idols, but Vrell serves the one true God, known in this world as Arman. Achan only knows of the local goddess, and she doesn’t seem to have paid him any attention throughout his harsh life.

The author’s website describes By Darkness Hid as an “epic medieval fantasy tale.” The characters are engaging, the settings are rich and interesting, and there’s trouble rising in this land which is already half in the shadow of Darkness.

The teen protagonists may make this a young adult novel, but I fully enjoyed it as an adult, and look forward to finishing the series.

By Darkness Hid is book 1 in the Blood of Kings series. It Christy Award for Visionary (2010), ACFW Carol Award Nominee for Speculative (2010). Jill Williamson has also written The Kinsman Chronicles and other speculative tales. For more about the author and her work, visit jillwilliamson.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Justice Buried, by Patricia Bradley

Justice Buried, by Patricia BradleyJustice Buried, by Patricia Bradley (Revell, 2017)

The novel opens with Kelsey Allen scaling the side of a building for a break-in. A security company has hired her to infiltrate their clients’ buildings to expose the weak spots.

She was not hired to be shot at. Why was the half-glimpsed shooter in the building at all? And did he see enough of her face to recognize her?

Kelsey’s next assignment is to go under cover at a famous Memphis museum, the Pink Palace, and stop whoever’s been stealing artifacts. What makes it hard for her is that her father disappeared years ago after thefts from the same museum.

When she’s thrust into the company of Brad Hollister, newly reassigned from Homicide to the Cold Case Unit, she asks him to look into her father’s disappearance. As crimes at the museum keep bringing them together, Brad finds himself in the role of protector—which is complicated by his ex-fiancée deciding she wants to try their relationship again.

Brad is the brother of Andi Hollister, the news reporter from the first Memphis Cold Case novel, Justice Delayed. Although Justice Buried would read well as a stand-alone, those who’ve read the first book will appreciate recognizing familiar characters crossing the occasional page.

Justice Buried has suspense, romance, faith, and characters who need to learn not to let their pasts define them if they’re to discover a better future—assuming, of course, they survive.

Patricia Bradley writes fast-paced romantic suspense. For more about the author and her books, visit ptbradley.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

New Releases in Christian Fiction (April 2018)

April 2018 New Releases from members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW):

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Pelican Point by Irene Hannon — After inheriting a crumbling lighthouse, ex-Army doctor Ben Garrison wants to sell it. But Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber is determined to save the town landmark. Can these two romance-wary souls finds a meeting of the minds…and hearts? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Beth Wiseman — From bestselling Amish authors come four novellas about the meaning and tradition found behind every family heirloom. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Historical Romance:

This Wilderness Journey by Misty Beller — He’s been sent to retrieve the new missionary… But she’s not at all who he expects to find. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy — Deborah and her sister and two little children survive a wagon train massacre. Trace finds them and takes them home. He finds himself their accidental guardian. He must protect them all and gain justice. When he does, all these friendly visitors–especially Deborah–will leave him forever. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

First Love Forever Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Marcia Gruver, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancette Pagels, Martha Rogers, Lorna Seilstad, Connie Stevens, Erica Vetsch, and Jennifer Uhlarik — Coming face to face with a lost love can be awkward when the heartstrings are still holding on to the “what ifs.” In settings from 1865 to 1910, nine couples are thrown back on the same path by life’s changes and challenges. Can love rekindle despite the separation of time and space? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

All Things Beautiful by Keely Brooke Keith — It’s 1868 in the settlement of Good Springs, and Hannah Vestal is passionate about writing fiction and keeping her stories to herself. When her father asks to read her work, she decides to have it printed secretly for his 50th birthday. Hannah tries to arrange the printing with the settlement’s pressman, but the witty and dapper Henry Roberts has better things to do with his ink. In order to secure settlement support for his printing press, the elder council says Henry must print an error-free copy of the New Testament before the settlement’s 8th anniversary celebration. He is determined to meet their challenge, but when the enigmatic Hannah proves to be a beguiling distraction, Henry longs for something more than a life at the letterpress. (Historical Romance from Edenbrooke Press)

Adoration by Olivia Rae — Sir Darrin de Longue is desperate to get his lands back from Lady Faith de Sainte-Marie, the woman who betrayed him and may have had a hand in his father’s murder. But King Richard discloses on his deathbed that Lady Faith is the king’s daughter and then issues an ultimatum Darrin must obey. In order to reclaim his lands, he must marry Lady Faith and get her with child in a year’s time. Lady Faith has loved the rowdy and bold Sir Darrin since childhood, but cannot be a true wife to the bitter, angry man whom she has wed. In order to gain his trust and love, she vows to find the truth about his father’s murder. But when she stumbles upon deadly secrets, will she be able to prove her innocence–and his–to erase the past and win Darrin’s heart? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer — Illinois prairie, 1855. Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again. Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo — The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


General Contemporary:

Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels — Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Secret Past by Sharee Stover — With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She’s been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Young Adult:

Chase by Glenn Haggerty — Tyler, a middle school newbie, shadows drug runners to rat out the methamphetamine dealer before his friend turns into a brain-dead druggie. (Young Adult, Independently Published)

Review: Stillwaters, by Yvonne Anderson

Stillwaters, by Yvonne AndersonStillwaters, by Yvonne Anderson (Gannah’s Gate Publishing, 2017)

A novel written like an autobiography… about someone who’s famous on another planet. How’s that for a premise?

At the opening of Stillwaters, Jem (the narrator) is a feral child of perhaps twelve. Her “death” is the end of everything she ever knew and the beginning of a new life in a new place. The bulk of the novel traces her second life.

Although Jem’s home planet is much different than ours, some of the interpersonal struggles are quite relatable. We see the distrust between country and city folk (here, there’s the one City: either a benefactor or an oppressor, depending on your point of view). There’s distrust between the uneducated poor and the educated rich.

It’s interesting to watch a character like Jem, with deeply-held opinions and prejudices, learn to see her world differently as she becomes like those she once despised. Watch how she views her new surroundings soon after being taken from her wild existence:

All the plant life was tamed, confined to pots or standing alone and afraid in a bare expanse of gravel. [Kindle location 611]

And, much later:

At a time when many were discovering what an ugly place the world could be, I saw its beauty for the first time, now viewing it through the narrow lens of love. [Kindle location 4583]

This is in some ways a difficult novel to read. Jem’s traumatic beginnings have made her a foul-mouthed, hard-edged person. (Her world has different cuss words than ours, but the sheer volume wearied me at times.) Her experiences, past and in the novel, include some moments that are hard to read but discreetly presented.

In other ways it’s a treat to read. Yvonne Anderson nails world-building. I always enjoy the setting details she creates, exotic and yet relatable. In the middle of a tense time, there’ll be a spot of humour. And there’s heart. It’s good to see Jem grow and make something of herself.

Faith… Jem’s world has a number of religions, much like the gods and goddesses of Earth’s past. Jem doesn’t have much use for any of them. In the novel we find casual mention of a minor religion called Sonmanism, where “one god had a son who became a man.” [Kindle location 2947]

From the progression of the story, I think we’ll see the development of a Christian thread as the series progresses. For now, it’s begun but this isn’t your grandmother’s Christian fiction. It is, however, a well-written and worthwhile read. I’m glad I toughed through the hard parts.

Yvonne Anderson has previously written the Christian science fiction series, Gateway to Gannah. She describes her writing as “telling ‘the old, old story.’ In surprising new ways.” Stillwaters is book 1 in the series The Four Lives of J.S. Freeman. For more about the author and her work, visit yswords.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]