Tag Archives: Christian fiction

“By the Book” blog

Are you familiar with the By the Book blog? I had the chance to do an interview there last week — why not pop by and check out Beckie’s and my conversation? We talked about when I first started writing, early encouragers, why mystery/suspense, and what I hope readers will take away from my books. Here’s the link: Author, Author! — Janet Sketchley.

While you’re there, look around at the reviews, interviews, and more. If you’re on Facebook, you can not only follow By the Book there, you can participate in the By the Book FB Book club, reading a new book each month.

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Behind the Scenes of Bitter Truth


Mystery and suspense writers joke about law enforcement flagging our internet searches. For the murder in the opening pages of Bitter Truth, I spent hours looking up ways the killer could dispatch the victim from a distance or with a time delay. 

Truth told, it’s a little creepy looking at weapons sites on the internet. There are some disturbing subcultures. If you want to know what a “TEOTWAWKI kit” is, first try to guess. Then I’ll tell you at the end of this post.

On the upside, I discovered you can buy “Batman Batarang Throwing Knives.” I’m not a weapons person (although I love a good kitchen knife) but these are, well, if you’ll pardon the pun, they’re very “sharp looking”! 

Back to the research… So many options for a fictional murderer! I decided it would be dramatic to have the killer use a poisoned dart. So I studied various types of poisons. And blowguns, because he could fold it up and not look suspicious. How long would he need to practice with something like that? And how close would he have to be?

It could work. I wanted it to work. 

Then I thought about the character of the killer, his goals and his style. 

All he needed was a sniper rifle. 

There went all my fancy plans! But you never know, a poison dart may show up in a later book. Nothing’s ever wasted. 

And the answer to the mystery question is…
“TEOTWAWKI” = “The End Of The World As We Know It” 

Yikes! It’s good to be prepared for emergencies, as Green Dory Inn character Nigel Foley would attest.

Still, in these days following Easter I’d rather focus on the One who laid down His life on the Cross to save us and took it up again in triumph three days later. His purposes are best, His promises are true, and His love never fails. As the Bible says, our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15).

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What are readers saying about Bitter Truth?

“A nice assorted cast of possible suspects, and lots of twists in the plot that will keep you guessing.” ★★★★★
Jeffrey C. Reynolds, blogger and reviewer

“Recommended reading for all who love a good puzzley story.” ★★★★★
Violet Nesdoly, author, blogger, and reviewer

“I definitely recommend this book!” ★★★★★
Amy C. Blake, author and Goodreads reviewer

“Lots of twists and turns. A must read!” ★★★★★
Charlene, Goodreads reviewer

“A fun and thought-provoking read” ★★★★
Miranda S., Goodreads reviewer

“I did NOT see the ending!!” ★★★★
Trudy C., Goodreads reviewer

"Janet Sketchley’s tight writing is full of homey details—nicely appointed rooms in a seaside inn on the shores of beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada, cups of coffee, tea, and fragrant baking—disarming us for the plot’s next whiplash development." ★★★★★
Violet Nesdoly, author, blogger, and reviewer

If you like clean Christian mystery and suspense, read Bitter Truth today! This link has international options for major ebook retailers and Amazon for print: books2read.com/bitter-truth.

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (April 2022)

April 2022 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:

 

A Heart to Cherish by Judith McNees — Everyone leaves…including God. That’s how Julia Price feels after years of being passed over in foster homes. All she has ever wanted is a family, but when she finds herself pregnant and homeless, her dreams seem further away than ever. Strait-laced good guy Alex Morgan has waited his entire life for the woman God has prepared for him. When he makes it his mission to help Julia, he wonders whether she could be that woman. But why would God lead him to a pregnant non-believer? As Julia struggles with issues of self-worth and trust, can she open her heart to both God and Alex? And can Alex trust their relationship to the One who holds Julia in His hand? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Every Day Filled with Hope by Shelia W. Stovall — Nineteen years ago, a powerful and influential man assaulted former runway model Casey Bledsoe, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy. Casey’s biggest regret is allowing fear to influence her to give up her baby for adoption. (General Contemporary from Elk Lake Publishing)

If You Light My Way by Jerusha Agen — Can she light up his life when hers goes dark? Oriana Sanders shouldn’t be drawn to Nicanor Pessoa. The handsome, brooding tango dancer couldn’t ever be interested in an elementary school teacher. He reminds her of her inner-city students—troubled but full of potential, if only she can point him to the joy of the Lord. Nicanor has known many beautiful women, but none with the vibrant zest for life that emanates from Oriana. She attracts him like a moth to a flame, making him want to forget the secrets and guilt that have burdened him for years. But how can he forget, when the worst secret of all is the one Oriana won’t be able to forgive? Their growing feelings for each other seem unstoppable until they face a darkness that threatens to tear them apart. Can God help them forgive the unforgivable and bring them through the shadows into the light? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Heart of a Cowboy by Elsie Davis — Rusty’s career as a bronc rider is over. Figuring out his next steps in life is more challenging than riding a bull for eight seconds. Surely there were better people more deserving of the new heart he received, people who had more to give back to society than a washed-up rodeo cowboy. Courtney is already struggling with the death of her husband, and the “temporarily relieved of duty” decree from her assistant chef position is too much to handle on her own. The decision to move home is not an easy one, but she doesn’t have much choice. At least not until the insurance company quits balking at paying out on the life insurance policy. When her truck breaks down just outside of Crossroads Creek, it’s Rusty to the rescue. Fate has brought them together, but the truth may not be something either one can handle. Will they rely on faith and trust their own hearts for the answers, or will they run from the past and destroy any chance at a future of happiness together? (Contemporary Romance from Sweet Romance Publishing)

The Bookseller’s Promise by Beth Wiseman — Yvonne Wilson makes the trek from Texas to Indiana with just one goal in mind: to convince Amishman Jake Lantz to sell her client a rare book from his collection. But Jake is as strong-willed as Yvonne. On the eve of his grandfather’s death, Jake vowed never to sell the book, and he intends to keep that promise. But he can’t say more than that, having never read it and not knowing why it was so dear to his grossdaadi. (General Contemporary from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))

 


General Historical:

 

Claiming Her Legacy by Linda Goodnight — Frontier women don’t ride off alone to track an outlaw—not even women as capable as tomboy spinster Willa Malone. But Willa desperately needs the bounty money offered for her father’s killer if she’s to keep their homestead and take care of her sisters. That means she needs an expert tracker’s help. Gideon Hartley has the skill, but the handsome trail guide also has a troubling secret…Gideon has spent years trying to numb his pain with whiskey. Little by little, their quest—and Willa’s belief in him—is restoring the sense of purpose he thought he’d lost. Journeying into the heart of danger, they’ll have to face down the past together if they hope to protect their future… (Historical/Women’s Fiction from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

 


Historical Romance:

 

A Strike to the Heart by Danielle Grandinetti — Wisconsin, 1933―When a routine mission becomes an ambush that kills his team, Craft Agency sniper Miles Wright determines to find the persons responsible and protect the woman he rescued. But the fierce independence that led Lily Moore to leave her family’s dairy business for the solitary life of a dog trainer and the isolation of her farm don’t make that easy. Neither does his unwanted attraction to her. Meanwhile, escalating incidents confirm that she’s far from safe. Lily fears letting the surprisingly gentle retired marine into her life almost as much as she fears whoever is threatening her. As Wisconsin farmers edge toward another milk strike, one that will surely turn violent, it becomes clear that the plot against Lily may be part of a much larger conspiracy. When the search for her abductor leads close to home, she must decide whether to trust her family or the man who saved her life. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Marquis’s Pursuit by Lorri Dudley — She’s desperate to keep her secret hidden, but he’s a determined Marquis. As the son of a duke, Maxwell Oliver Weld, Marquis of Daventry, is allowed entry into the finest of London’s ballrooms, access to political figures, and advice from the best physicians. Yet, his wealth and contacts won’t heal his friend, Charlie, who’s dying from consumption. Hopeful for a miracle, Max persuades Charlie to sail across the Atlantic to stay in the Artesian Hotel on the island of Nevis and bathe in its famous healing springs. Max’s optimism is washed in doubt as the truth unravels about the hotel, its hot springs, and the beautiful caretaker. The blaze of Evelyn Mairi Sheraton’s fiery side has long since been snuffed out. Hunted by a vengeful man from her past, only fortitude and the island’s sanctuary have kept Evelyn alive. She will do whatever it takes to keep her precious secret safe, even work for the demeaning Artesian Hotel owner, Edward Rousseau. However, when a jaunty marquis and his ailing friend arrive, sparks ignite, but Evelyn fears the revealing of her secrets will burn her to ash. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

 


Mystery:

 

Persian Blue Puzzle by Susan Page Davis — Someone’s broken into Miss Louanne’s house. Campbell McBride and her father Bill have moved their home and detective business into an old Victorian house. Their new neighbors bring in unexpected cases for True Blue Investigations to unravel. While helping Miss Louanne look for her missing cat, Campbell learns of other suspicious activities in Murray. Another neighbor tells the detectives about a stranger in town who’s peddling an investment plan. They aren’t sure any crimes have been committed, but they’re intrigued enough for Campbell to visit a psychic along with police detective Keith Fuller’s mom and to start checking up on the financier. Things heat up when a customer threatens the psychic and then she vanishes. (Mystery from Scrivenings Press)

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright — To save the innocent, they must face an insidious evil. Wren Blythe has long enjoyed living in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, helping her father with ministry at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess who is believed to still roam the forest. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coonses’ cabin ruins and a sinister mystery she is determined to unearth. In 1930, Ava Coons has spent the last several years carrying the mantle of mystery since the day she emerged from the woods as a thirteen-year-old girl, spattered with blood, dragging a logger’s ax. She has accepted she will never remember what happened to her family, whose bodies were never found, and that the people of Tempter’s Creek will always blame her for their violent deaths. And after a member of the town is murdered, and another goes missing, rumors spread that Ava’s secret is perhaps more malicious than previously imagined. (Mystery from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

 


Speculative Fiction/Fantasy:

 

The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes by Dawn Ford — Eighteen-year-old servant girl Tambrynn is haunted by more than her unusual silver hair and the star-shaped pupils in her eyes. Her uncontrollable ability to call objects leads the wolves who savagely murdered her mother right to her door. When she’s fired and outcast during a snowstorm, her carriage wrecks and she’s forced to find refuge in an abandoned cottage. There, her life is upended when the magpie who’s stalked her for ten years transforms into a man, Lucas. He’s her Watcher and they’re from a different kingdom. His job is to keep her safe from her father, an evil mage, who wants to steal her abilities, turn her into one of his undead beasts, and become immortal himself. Can they make it to the magical passageway and get to their home kingdom in time for Tambrynn to thwart her father’s malicious plans? Or will Tambrynn’s unique magic doom them all? (Speculative Fiction/Fantasy from Scrivenings Press)

 


Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

 

Inheritance of Secrets by Robin Patchen — “I didn’t do right by your mother. Or by you. Find her and do what I never had the courage to do.” Spoken between wheezing breaths, the deathbed words of Aspen Kincaid’s father shook her to the core. He’d led her to believe that the mystery of her mother’s disappearance was unsolvable. Apparently, her father had known more than he’d ever let on. He’s been lying to her all her life. When Aspen inherits a house in New Hampshire—a house she hadn’t known Dad owned—she travels thousands of miles, desperate to do as her father asked—find her mother. But some of the residents of Coventry seem less than thrilled to learn Jane Kincaid’s daughter is back and digging into things that should remain buried forever. Garrett’s renovations of the secluded old house on the mountain should be the next step in his contracting career, but Aspen’s arrival in town stirs up old animosities he hadn’t known existed. All he wants is to complete the job, hoping it’ll open up new opportunities. But some people expect Garrett’s help to keep an eye on Aspen’s activities. How can he honor his beautiful, vulnerable client and remain loyal to the people who need his help? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, independently published)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

By the Sweet Gum by Ane Mulligan, She’s bound by duty. He’s tethered to a dream. (Historical Romance)
 
The Do-Over by Bethany Turner, Sometimes dreams come true. Other times, the best outcome begins with an epic fail. (Contemporary Romance)
 
Pilgrim by Brian Shotton, A door dividing life from death draws Scott into a deadly trap. Can he save his friends before fate forces him through? (Thriller/Suspense Supernatural)
 
Love’s Escape by Carrie Fancett Pagels, The son of a funeral home owner and his friend, a sea captain, transport the women they love, two enslaved women from Virginia plantations, North. (Historical Romance)
 
Home Run Hunter by Cindy M. Amos, Full of positive enthusiasm, Lena Hart works for the promo team at the ballpark and encourages trouble-shooting intern Gage Landers to find contentment in the day, not chase some far-off dream. (Contemporary Romance)
 
Wounded Soul by Sheridan Lee, Life often derails well-laid plans. Can she achieve her dreams after everything crumbles? (General Contemporary)
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It’s Release Day!

Happy “book birthday” to the newest Green Dory Inn Mystery, Bitter Truth! The paperback version sneaked onto the scene early, and now the ebooks are live too.

What readers are saying about Bitter Truth.
Click the image to reach the buy link or click here to for more about Bitter Truth.
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Review: False Pretense, by Heather Day Gilbert

False Pretense, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2022)

Missing persons, unexpected power flickers, and sightings of a creature from West Virginia folklore… except the huge grey Mothman is being seen by trustworthy witnesses. And the winged creature isn’t just a guy in a costume, because it flies. More troubling still, its appearance seems to coincide with the disappearance of two local women—women who look a lot like Tess Spencer.

Mysteries keep finding Tess. She’s solved three as an amateur sleuth, earning enough respect from the police in her small town that Detective Zeke Tucker has hired her as admin assistant. Sure, it’s a desk job, but Zeke values her insights on active cases.

As Tess begins to suspect this case may be personal, she’s also concerned about her mother-in-law’s health and the dirty politics being played by her husband’s rival. As readers of the series know, Tess isn’t one to allow anyone to mess with her family.

I’ve liked Tess from book one. She’s a smart, brave, loyal, self-reliant woman of faith. Since she lives in a state where it’s allowed to conceal-carry a weapon, she takes a handgun and sometimes a knife into danger.

Favourite line:

I’ve always felt the woods are my native environment, a place I can be protected from the pressures of life. Now something—maybe some age-old evil, if I let my imagination run wild—has invaded our area. [Kindle location 539]

The mystery in False Pretense offers enough clues for readers to feel like we’re part of the investigation. I came up with a few ideas, but they were definitely off-base. Fans of the series will be glad to spend time with Tess and her family again, and will be hoping to finally learn the truth about the mysterious Axel Becker. And while this finishes the series, it left me wanting to go back and read again from the beginning.

Readers of the author’s Barks ‘n Beans mystery series will recognize a few mentions of those characters. I enjoy seeing nods like this to other fictional friends. 

False Pretense is a satisfying finale to a mystery series filled with heart and truly likeable characters. If you’re new to the Murder in the Mountains series, you could start here without feeling lost. But I’d encourage you to start with book 1, Miranda Warning, and enjoy the development of characters and relationships through the full series.

Author Heather Day Gilbert writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. To quote her bio on the Goodreads site, “She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love.” For more about the author and her work, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.

[Review based on an advance reader copy provided by the publisher, because I couldn’t wait to read the copy I’ve preordered. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.]

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (March 2022)

March 2022 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:

 

Hearts and Goals by Carolyn Miller –He’s a goalie with a big heart, while she’s afraid to trust again. After a series of tragedies, Maggie Joly’s dreams have been confined to her work at Montreal’s botanic gardens and caring for her little boy. Besides, wishing for more would simply be selfish, especially when she’s already loved well. But when a surprising workplace encounter sees her in the arms of a handsome sweet-talking stranger, she’s soon forced to reassess whether romance might still be in her future after all. (Contemporary Romance, Independently published)

 


Historical Romance:

 

Peace in the Mountain Haven by Misty M. Beller — Watkuese is desperate to return across the Rocky Mountains before winter sets in. Time is running out for her to get her adopted daughter back to the familiar surroundings of the Shoshone village before the grief of her parents’ death causes irreparable damage. Hugh Charpentier has spent his life watching over his siblings, which meant also ensuring his brother’s widow and babe are settled well into their new life. Now he’s asked to help shepherd a woman and child he barely knows across the mountains. As hard as it is to keep up with a six-year-old in the treacherous Rockies, it’s not nearly as dangerous as risking his heart to a woman and child who may not ever be his. (Historical Romance, Independently published)

The Spark of Love by Amanda Cabot — When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra attempts to carve out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach. But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. When a series of apparent accidents threaten her life, Alexandra and Gabe will have to work together to discover the truth. And perhaps along the way they will discover that the sparks of attraction they’ve felt from the beginning are more than sparks – they’re love. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Counterfeit Love by Crystall Caudill — Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves–or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he’s been sent to track down? After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name–and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home–and the truth. (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)

Ellie’s Escape by Linda Shenton Matchett –Ellie Wagner is fine being a spinster school teacher. Then she witnesses a bank hold up and can identify the bandits. Fellow robbery victim Milly Crenshaw happens to run the Westward Home & Hearts Matrimonial Agency so she arranges for Ellie to head West as a mail-order bride. But her groom only wants a business arrangement. Can she survive a loveless marriage? Banker Julian Sheffield is more comfortable with numbers than with people, but he’s done well for himself. Then the bank president tells him that in order to advance further he must marry in six weeks’ time. The candid, unsophisticated woman sent by the agency is nothing like he expected, but time is running out. When her past comes calling, does he have what it takes to ensure their future? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Gracie’s Surrender by Blossom Turner –Helping the orphan children in Richmond just might overturn everything Gracie thought she knew, including the value of love. Gracie Williams has always had an adventurous streak, which led her from her home in the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond, Virginia, where she can devote her life to the orphan children. Though her beauty has brought on the advances of many men, she has no plans to marry, and finds suitors an unfortunate irritation she doesn’t have time for—much to her parents’ chagrin. When she befriends Matthew Weston, the mature and serious orphanage superintendent, she confides in him and believes he shares her goals. Neither are prepared for the sparks that fly. Tension grows as Matthew falls in love with her, yet realizes he is just another man in the long line of would-be suitors. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik — A Friendship From the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family. When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. There, she finds a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek museum curator Brad Osgood’s help to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it another forgery? Brad Osgood longs to provide his four-year-old niece, Brynn, the safe home she desperately deserves. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

 


Mystery:

 

Obedient Unto Death by Liisa Eyerly — Sinister forces are at work to destroy the fledgling Christian faith in Ephesus, and Sabina is in their way. A young scribe is murdered during a covert Christian worship service. Sabina, a member of this outlawed religion, can’t believe a member of this new faith could be the killer. But when her Roman magistrate father arrests the church bishop for murder, she reluctantly admits all is not brotherly love and harmony among the faithful. Racing to stop the bishop’s imminent execution, Sabina plunges into the private world of the dead scribe, searching for proof of the bishop’s innocence. Mystery, intrigue, and betrayal meet her at every turn. Will she discover the truth in time, or will she be thrown in prison herself for her faith in Christ? (Mystery from Crossriver Media Group)

Bitter Truth by Janet Sketchley — Who would want Ciara dead? And why? Against all odds, Landon Smith and her ordinary-hero neighbour Bobby Hawke survived a murderous plot six weeks ago. Now, she’s determined to leave solving mysteries to the experts—like handsome local police officer Dylan Tremblay. But when a friend is nearly killed in a daring daylight attack, Landon can’t sit this out. Not when she knows the anger of being a victim. Her faith tells her to leave room for God’s vengeance. Her heart says to retaliate. The fight to expose Ciara’s enemy will uncover secrets and betrayal that could cost Landon her life. (Mystery, Independently published)

 


Speculative Fiction:

 

Madness in Wonderland by Tabitha Bouldin — Wonderland is in trouble. Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive. Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship. Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds. Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm. He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate? (Speculative Fiction from Celebrate Lit Publishing)


Forbidden by Gina Detwiler — After thousands of years imprisoned in the Abyss, the fallen angels known as the Watchers are on the loose. Jared Lorn and Grace Fortune have also escaped from prison, but all they want to do is get home to their family. Dark forces conspire against them, and soon they find themselves on a perilous journey to the Other Side, the spiritual realm. They must battle the Watcher Samyaza and his cohorts to escape, not knowing that the leader of the Watchers, Azazel, has taken control of the real world and subjugated all nations to his will. Soon they must join the few that are left standing against this worldwide evil, those that have not given in, known as the Forbidden. (Speculative Fiction from VINSPIRE)

 


Thriller/Suspense:

 

Still Water by Betty Thomason Owens — Crime reporter, Jake Bradley, has stumbled onto a suspicious accident. The clues lead him to Lisa Oliver, the daughter of the victims. Something about her draws Jake Bradley, and he vows to help her at all costs. When the FBI warns him off the case, Jake is more determined than ever to find the truth and keep Lisa safe. After the sudden death of her parents, Lisa Oliver yearns for a place to call home. When she meets Jake, she wants to trust him, but her father’s mantras of self-sufficiency and independence create a stumbling block. As the wall between them crumbles, the past encroaches, and Lisa fears she will never be free. Is she forever doomed to her parents’ nomadic lifestyle, fleeing unseen enemies? (Thriller/Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

 


Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

 

Malicious Intent by Lynn H. Blackburn — Founder and CEO of Hedera, Inc., Dr. Ivy Collins has dedicated her life to developing technology to help amputees like her stepfather, and the results have been lauded by government, medical, and advocacy groups worldwide. Now that she is on the cusp of having her cutting-edge prosthetic technology become a reality, someone is trying to sabotage her success. When US Secret Service Special Agent Gil Dixon is assigned to investigate an issue involving his childhood best friend, Ivy Collins, he’s ecstatic that fate has brought them back together. Gil has always held a torch for her, and he doesn’t want to let her slip away again. When Ivy continues to be targeted for her technology, Gil will have to use everything he has to keep Ivy—and her life’s work—safe from harm. Can they figure out who the culprit is before innocent lives are caught in the crossfire? Or will dangerous circumstances demand that Ivy give it all up—to save someone else? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R. Patch — The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly’s blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister’s body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he’s back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona. Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that’s fueled Fiona’s career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Texas Cold Case Threat by Jessica R. Patch — After a murderer sends her taunting letters, FBI behavioral analyst Chelsey Banks retreats to a friend’s ranch—and interrupts the housekeeper being attacked. When evidence connects the break-in to a cold-case serial killer, Chelsey’s best friend, Texas Ranger Tack Holliday, needs her help. With Tack at her side, this could be Chelsey’s chance to catch two killers—unless one of them gets her first. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

 


Western:

 

The Element of Love by Mary Conneally — With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother’s unfortunate choice in husband, until they discover his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away–far and fast–to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father’s lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather. When Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California during their escape, she quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the local minister, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb’s past and in the land around them come to light, it’ll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay. (Western from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

 


Young Adult:

 

Collapse: The Death of Friendship by Angela D. Shelton — With little left of the world she grew up in, what more must one teenager give up to protect her family and their homestead? (Young Adult from Two Oaks Publishing, LLC)



Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 

 
An Odd Request by LuAnn K. Edwards, Will Becca leave the warmth and love of her small, close-knit community to marry Ben, a man she hasn’t seen in twelve years and someone who may never love her? (Contemporary Romance)
 
 
The Amadeus Variation by Kathy Webster, In 1791, betrayal, false accusation, ill health, and broken relationships drive two unlikely companions to escape Austria. (General Historical)
 
 
Paper Dolls by Kara R. Hunt, Paper can be torn and dolls can break. So can humans. (General Contemporary)
 
 
Undercover Dog Dad by Erin Stevenson, A detective on an undercover assignment meets his match and finds love. (Contemporary Romance)

 

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Less than 30 Days!

The clock is ticking down! With Bitter Truth releasing later this month, I had the chance to chat with blogger Jeffrey C. Reynolds about the novel, writing in general, and a few other things. And I may have let slip something about the print version that’s not yet been shared… come join the conversation!

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Review: Tears in the Desert, by Karen V. Robichaud

Tears in the Desert, by Karen V. Robichaud

Tears in the Desert, by Karen V. Robichaud (Word Alive Press, 2020)

From the aptly-named Desolation Creek in the Australian Outback to a lighthouse in Blackheart Bay, Nova Scotia, this novel’s descriptive details draw the reader in with a strong sense of place.

Told in present tense from the point of view of Raine Hunter, both as a child and as an adult, the voice is sure, strong, and taut.

The first part of the novel introduces the trauma in Raine’s childhood. The second two thirds of the book, part two, bring Raine back to her hometown to care for her widowed brother Quinn’s children after he goes missing. Rumours hint that he killed himself or skipped town, but Raine blames the hostile neighbouring family for abducting or harming him.

Raine’s tragic experience as a child shapes her into a bitter person with poor social skills. Because we see the event first, we can be patient with her brusque—rude?—behaviour and hope she’ll discover a positive change. We may even find some of her interactions funny. This woman has no clue how to interact with children. I had to be careful her crankiness didn’t jump-start my own. 😊

Raine is in that difficult place, spiritually, of not being able to fully walk away from God while not being able to press in with Him either.

After the story, I found myself thinking about some of the more extreme characters: the eccentric, the hostile, the bullying… and the unconditionally accepting. Some of the latter modelled Jesus’ love far better than most of us do.

Tears in the Desert is a winner in The 2021 Word Awards for work published in 2020. It’s Canadian author Karen V. Robichaud’s sixth novel. For more about the author and her work, visit kvrobi.wixsite.com/karen-v-robichaud.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (February 2022)

February 2022 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.

Amish Romance:

 

Strength in the Storm by Laurel M. Blount — After the murder of both her parents, Emma Hochstedler returns to the small community of Johns Mill, hoping to resume her quiet existence. Reclaiming her place proves harder than expected—especially now that a movie is being made about her family’s loss. But then, an old friend offers her a lifeline that gives her new purpose. Amish builder Samuel Christner is the biggest—and the strongest—man in town. In fact, the gentle giant has only one weakness—Emma. Even though she broke his heart, he won’t let his childhood sweetheart face her troubles alone. He hires Emma as a nurse for his elderly aunt…and finds himself falling for her all over again. (Amish Romance from Berkley Penguin Random House)

 


Biblical:

 

Defending David by Barbara M. Britton — When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors. Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman’s niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land. Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir’s betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son? (Biblical from Harbourlight Books (Pelican))

 


Contemporary Romance:

 

Checked Impressions by Carolyn Miller — parks fly when a hometown hockey hero meets a classy art-loving museum guide hiding a secret…Jai Mullins is used to being the fastest man on ice. Trouble is, his ability to find a genuine woman is tracking at glacial melt levels. He’s trusting God she’s out there, but he’s wary of getting trapped by a superfan, when all he wants is someone with whom he can be real. Allie Davis has two great loves: impressionist art and hockey. More specifically, a certain hockey player. But between her shyness and her family, she’s convinced she’ll never meet him, let alone connect with him in a non-embarrassing way.
Until she does. And they connect. And romance sparks. But she is hiding a big secret, and he’s about to find that first impressions sometimes need a reality check. Will they learn to trust and find a way forward, or will half-truths lead to further hurt on opposite sides of the country and lonely lives? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Her Tycoon Hero by Narelle Atkins — Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances. Cassie is set on proving she’s no longer a party girl, instead focusing on her career as an event planner. Ryan Mitchell, her dad’s top executive, proves to be a handsome distraction, especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to draw her back into the life she has worked hard to escape. Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But he is slow to trust, having been burned by a brother who ran in the same circles. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan wants to claim both Cassie and her faith as his own. Can they forgive past mistakes and navigate a future together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh — Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Oloro Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing. Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Oloro Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

Secrets of Their Past by Allie Pleiter — Facing the past could change his future. Veterinarian Neal Rodgers is in Wander Canyon seeking the truth about his past—not to rescue a litter of kittens under his next-door neighbor’s porch. But persistent single-mom Tessa Kennedy is impossible to ignore—especially when she uncovers a family secret of her own. Discovering the hidden facts of their histories could be the key to unlocking everything in this small town. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

The Valentine Proposal by Beth Pugh — Can Love Be 10 Years in the Making? Award-winning photographer Mason Montgomery is back in Pine Valley, Kentucky. Hopefully, for good, if his business proposal is accepted. On paper, he’s the perfect buyer for Forget-Me-Not Photography. Too bad the seller, Ol’ Man Rowe, doesn’t see it that way. He’s looking for a family man to take over, and Mason’s bachelor status doesn’t fit the bill.For shy Lily Anne Dawson, life has not turned out the way she’d hoped. Working at her mother’s bakery and editing for the local newspaper is a far cry from her journalistic dream. She’s a failure. A lonely failure worrying about infertility with no romantic prospects in sight. That all changes when a decade-old promise to marry on Valentine’s Day pushes the two together at their high school reunion. The impromptu proposal offers a solution to their problems. But marriage requires honesty―and both have secrets. Secrets that could make or break their budding love. (Contemporary Romance from Candlelight (an imprint of Iron Stream Media))

To Belong Together by Emily Conrad — Fame and money have a way of complicating love. Drummer John Kennedy can keep a beat, but he can’t hold a conversation, so he relies on actions to show he cares. Unfortunately, when he’s instantly intrigued by a spunky female mechanic, he can’t seem to convey the sincerity of his intentions. And the rejections don’t stop there. His own sister is pushing him away just when he could help her most. Erin Hirsh’s life would be easier if God hadn’t given her a love for cars. Only her father understood her, and she’s losing him to dementia. Her brief romances have always backfired worse than a mistuned engine, and she refuses to give John the chance to wreck her heart. A rock star with a supermodel ex can’t possibly see anything in her. At least that’s what she thinks until they find common ground in faith and their worsening family situations leave them each longing for a place to belong. Could God intend for this pair of opposites to belong together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 


Historical:

 

Avenue of Betrayal by Sandra Merville Hart — Betrayed by her brother and the man she loves…whom can she trust when tragedy strikes? Soldiers are pouring into Washington City every day and have begun drilling in preparation for a battle with the Confederacy. Annie Swanson worries for her brother, whom she’s just discovered is a Confederate officer in his new home state of North Carolina. Even as Annie battles feelings of betrayal toward the big brother she’s always adored, her wealthy banker father swears her and her sister to secrecy about their brother’s actions. How could he forsake their mother’s abolitionist teachings?Sergeant-Major John Finn camps within a mile of the Swansons’ mansion where his West Point pal once lived. Sweet Annie captured his heart at Will’s wedding last year and he looks forward to reestablishing their relationship—until he’s asked to spy on her father.To prove her father’s loyalty to the Union, John agrees to spy on the Swanson family, though Annie must never know. Then the war strikes a blow that threatens to destroy them all—including the love that’s grown between them against all odds. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Gold Rush Bride Tegan by Linda Shenton Matchett — Tegan Llewellyn has always been different than her adopted family, except Grandmother Hannah, a prospector during the 1829 Georgia gold rush. Now, seventy years later there are reports of gold in Nome, and the opportunity is too good to pass up. But Tegan doesn’t count on the dangers that strike from the moment she steps off the steamer, including the threat of losing her heart. Elijah Hunter has prospected for gold all over the US and Canada and likes being on the move. The last thing he expects to find on his latest search is a lady miner who proves to be nothing but trouble. Can he convince her that leaving is for her own good before it’s too late…for both of them? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Lumberjacks and Ladies by Jennifer Lamont Leo, et. al — Lumberjacks and Ladies Work Together to Build America…Struggling to remain independent in the 1800s, four women reluctantly open up to help from lumberjacks—and love. All That Glitters by Candice Sue Patterson, 1851—Maine. Winifred finds herself running the family lobstering business when her father and brothers join the California gold rush. Will she stubbornly reject help from a local lumberjack? Winter Roses by Pegg Thomas, 1865—Michigan. Elizabeth cooks for a logging crew, spurning the men’s advances, until reoccurring gifts capture her attention. Will she heed her mother’s warning about “shanty boys”? Not for Love by Naomi Musch, 1881—Wisconsin. Widowed, Maggie seeks a husband—in name only—from the logging camps, but the man who answers her letter is a surprise. Can she open her heart to love again? Undercover Logger by Jennifer Lamont Leo, 1890—Idaho. Carrie will not sell her timberland and allows the banker’s nephew to sign onto her logging crew to ferret out the reason she is losing money at an alarming rate. Will truth be revealed to her forlorn heart? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War by Mary Eileen Davis — A WASP Goes Above the Call of Duty to Free Captive American Soldiers. Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes–the heroines of WWII. Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her two daughters–until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men–even risk her own life? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin — As the Nazis march toward Paris in 1940, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. Lucie struggles to run Green Leaf Books due to oppressive German laws and harsh conditions, but she finds a way to aid the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books. Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. After they meet in the bookstore, Paul and Lucie are drawn to each other, but she rejects him when she discovers he sells to the Germans. And for Paul to win her trust would mean betraying his mission. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Wilderness Wife by Delores Topliff — Marguerite Wadin MacKay believes her 17-year marriage to explorer, Alex MacKay, is strong—until sudden fame makes him announce their frontier marriage is void in Montréal where he now goes to choose a society wife—not one with native blood. Taking their son, MacKay sends Marguerite and their three daughters to a trading post where she lived as a child. Deeply shamed, she arrives in time to assist young visiting Doctor John McLoughlin with a medical emergency. Marguerite now lives only for her girls. When Fort William on Lake Superior opens a school, Marguerite moves there for her daughters’ sake. Newly assigned there, Doctor McLoughlin’s friendship with Marguerite grows. When he declares his love, she dissuades him from a match harmful to his career. She’s mixed blood and nine years older. He will have no one else. After abandonment, can a woman love again and fulfill the key role in North American History that is her destiny? (General Historical from Scrivenings Press)

With a Trusting Heart by Dawn Kinzer — Will trust be the winning ticket to mending two wounded hearts? The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition is taking place in Seattle with participants from all over the world when Lizzie Clark accepts a position at an orphanage in the city. After suffering heartbreak and loss, she is determined to make a life for herself independently. Jack Butler’s mother abandoned their family when he was a young boy. Loyalty to his father cost him fulfilling his own aspirations, so Jack strives to take their family farm in a new direction. A newborn is left at the orphanage with a note asking Lizzie to take care of him. Why did the woman abandon her child? And why is Jack, a handsome local farmer so interested in helping Lizzie search for the infant’s mother?
When shocking revelations disrupt their plans, Lizzie and Jack are faced with life-changing decisions. Will they open their hearts to trusting again? (Historical Romance from Morningview Publishing)

 


Mystery: Cozy:

 

Cliffhanger by Susan Page Davis — The Novel Inn’s reopening goes smoothly until a guest vanishes. The new owners prepare for their first large group—a former squad of cheerleaders meeting for a reunion. Things go awry when the head cheerleader fails to show up. Sisters Kate and Jillian, the innkeepers, enlist the help of their brother Rick, a local police officer. They’re confident the missing woman will be found, but they soon learn to expect the unexpected, even during a walk on the beach. (Mystery: Cozy from Scrivenings Press)

 


Mystery: Romance:

 

The Prediction by Jean Rezab — Thea deals with the limits her father places on her when she has a vision of his death. He has never accepted her ability, and he also deals with his own depression regarding his past. (Mystery: Romance, Independently Published)

 


Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

 

Safe House Exposed by Darlene L. Turner — Witness protection should have kept them safe. Instead, it left them completely exposed…Canadian border patrol officer Emma James has only one concern after putting a crime boss behind bars: keeping her daughter safe. But witness protection has a leak, and Emma’s enemies know exactly where to find her. Now on the run with no safe haven, trusting her estranged former brother-in-law, police constable Mason James, to shield them is her only hope… (Thriller/Suspence/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

That Scott Woman by Carlene Havel — Maggie Scott returns home in 1966 after serving four years in prison. She has only one goal in mind, to create a secure and stable life for herself. Then Maggie meets Blake Hamilton, ex-rodeo cowboy turned preacher. The chemistry between this unlikely pair is undeniable, but there are problems. Blake is sure his calling is to serve God. Maggie is convinced she is beyond redemption.
Common sense tells Maggie her attraction to Blake will end in heartbreak. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Touch of Innocence by Robin Patchen — How can she protect the child if nobody believes her? Grace used to try to save people, but that was before she realized how powerless she is. Now, she avoids emotional ties, working from her secluded cabin, content with her aloneness. When eight-year-old Lily starts hanging around, Grace enjoys her company but carefully keeps her distance—until she discovers the girl is being exploited. Little though she wants to, she must get involved, even if it means risking her own safety to secure Lily’s. Andrew can’t help but be drawn to his new neighbor and her beautiful foster child. When he learns about Lily’s disturbing history, he offers to help Grace prove her suspicions about the girl’s father. But the more they learn, the more puzzling Lily’s history seems. They work together to unravel the mystery, determined to ensure Lily ends up with a family who loves her. But Lily’s father isn’t giving up his muse—or his obsession—that easily. He believes Lily is rightfully his, and he’ll do anything to get her back. (Thrilled/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Boundary Waters Search and Rescue: Beyond Imagination by Joy Harding, An old foe, unimaginable twists, and deep disappointments challenge both Jack’s and Liz’s faith and their young marriage. (Contemporary Romance)
 
Dear Beth by Alyssa Schwartz, Might it finally be time for her to risk her heart again? (Romance – Novella)
 
Recaptured from Oblivion by Cindy M. Amos, In the heat of pursuit, ordination slips toward a far-off horizon—or can Karch safeguard Lolo and recapture his dreams from oblivion? (Contemporary Romance)
 
Sleep Deprived by Therese Heckenkamp, An odd encounter in a cemetery. A baby in need. Every mom’s worst nightmare. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance) 
 
Still the One by Rachel D. Russel, It’s never too late to finish a love story… (Contemporary Romance)
 
The Winter Rose by Melanie Dobson, In this gripping WWII time-slip novel from the author whose books have been called “propulsive” and a “must-read” (Publishers Weekly), Grace Tonquin is an American Quaker who works tirelessly in Vichy France to rescue Jewish children from the Nazis. (Historical Romance) 
 
Though Darkness Descend by Janet Joanou Weiner, With persecution of the Huguenots intensifying in 17th century France, what will be the cost of her unbelief? (General Historical)
 
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