Daniel Riffkin has been sober for four years, carefully managing his life and limiting contact to his dog, a few close friends, and his AA meetings.
Now he finds himself sharing his home in Miramar Bay, California, with his teenage niece. And developing concern for Stella, a single mother who’s afraid she’s being framed for missing funds at her work. And hosting his best friends’ teen daughter to give them some breathing space.
Before he became a successful newscaster, Daniel trained in forensic accounting. He has the skills to help Stella. But as they begin to care for one another, can he risk failing her?
This is a feel-good, life-affirming, second-chance novel that speaks hope. As a Christian reader, I’d have loved to see it written to trace Daniel’s faith journey and how that impacts his changes and growth. However, the book is written for a general-market audience. Likely more readers will find it this way, and I hope it’s widely-read.
If you have an addict in your life (even yourself) or someone carrying deep regrets, Tranquility Falls offers a glimpse of hope that recovery and healing are possible. The author interviewed many people so he could portray Daniel’s struggles in a real and relatable way. In his closing acknowledgements, he writes, “This story is dedicated to everyone who taught me so much and granted me new reasons to hope.”
Addiction is only part of the story. There’s also identity, betrayal, grief, crime, Hollywood, legal drama, and beautiful scenery. And romance.
I really like Daniel. He’s honest in his struggles and he’s present in his conversations. Instead of serving easy answers, he knows he doesn’t have any. So he listens. Asks open-ended questions like he’s encountered in his years of counselling and recovery. Supports his friends with total attention.
Mornings like this, it was hard to believe the summer heat would ever arrive, as if the world told fables no one believed anymore… A San Francisco-style light drifted in gentle waves with the mist, a feather-like whisper of a world that remained just out of reach. [Chapter 10, page 2]
Readers familiar with the Miramar Bay series will recognize some characters from previous books, always a pleasant treat.
As well as crafting sweet, Hallmark-movie-like stories like these, internationally-bestselling author Davis Bunn also writes thrillers. And as Thomas Locke he writes science fiction and fantasy. For more about the author and his work, visit kensingtonbooks.com/pages/davis-bunn-books and tlocke.com.
Spilled Milk, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2021)
A feel-good cozy mystery!
The Barks & Beans Café—small-town Lewisville’s place to gather for fantastic coffee and the chance to mingle with (and perhaps adopt) lovable dogs from the nearby animal shelter.
In the middle of plans for the café’s one-year anniversary, Macy Hatfield’s brother and business partner, Bo, is called away for “one last duty” for his former drug enforcement boss.
Macy can handle this on her own, right? Her loyal staff members, and her friend Summer from the animal shelter, are on board to help.
Except her best barista is suddenly a murder suspect. And her ex-husband slithers into town. And Bo’s cat is a nightmare houseguest.
Readers familiar with the series know Macy has a helping heart. She has to support Kylie and clear her name despite the girl’s distant attitude. And despite the rebellious younger sister Kylie is supporting.
If you’re new to the series you can start here, but it’d be more fun to start at the beginning with No Filter. Each story is self-contained, although there’s a long-term plot thread as well as developing relationships.
I like the characters—human and animal—and the light-hearted vibe even though the body count is rising. This is a mystery I could read at bedtime, be fully engaged in the story, and not risk bad dreams. I don’t know if “feel-good mystery” is a genre, but the label fits for this one. I was smiling when I finished.
The Barks & Beans novels are clean, mainstream cozy mysteries set in small-town West Virginia. Spilled Milk is book four. Up next will be Trouble Brewing.
Author Heather Day Gilbert writes cozy mysteries, romantic suspense, and Viking historicals. Check out her website for more information: heatherdaygilbert.com.
[Review copy provided by the publisher. I was not required to write a review, and my opinions are my own.]
Dangerous Deceptions: A Christian Romantic Suspense Boxed Set Collection (Various Authors)
This box set was a limited-time opportunity, but I believe the authors have now individually released their books. I’ll give you a list of all the titles and authors, and then share about my top picks.
The eight novels in this collection are:
Lethal Outbreak: Lisa Harris & Lynne Gentry
Collision Course: Elizabeth Goddard
Glimmer in the Darkness: Robin Patchen
Expired Plot: Lisa Phillips
Ice: Lynnette Bonner
Never A Traitor: Jan Thompson
Ben in Love: Luana Ehrlich
Liar Like Her: D.L. Wood
My top picks, in order of appearance:
Lethal Outbreak, by Lisa Harris & Lynne Gentry. I’d like to read the rest of this series, and Ghost Heart is already on my tablet. Interesting timing, reading about a potential global pandemic during COVID-19. I enjoyed the fast-paced international action.
Collision Course: Elizabeth Goddard. Art thefts, organized crime, and family secrets. It was interesting to read a main character with a traumatic brain injury and I enjoyed the teamwork between strong protagonists who needed to work together.
Ice: Lynnette Bonner. Beautiful setting. I read more for the suspense than the romance, but this hero gets bonus points for cooking a cheeseburger and fries as comfort food for the heroine. Some elements of this story had me nervous that it would get too intense, but it didn’t. Glad I kept reading.
Liar Like Her: D.L. Wood. A new-to-me author, and I really liked her voice. Favourite line: “What’s true about your past doesn’t have to be the truth of your future.”
I appreciated how each story’s “note from the author” at the end includes a teaser for the next story.
The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron — From fashion to desperation and haute couture to the perils of humanity, The Paris Dressmaker weaves a story of two worlds colliding years apart—where satin and lace stand between life and death in the brutal underbelly of a war-torn world. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
A Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer — A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)
A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel — All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Vanessa’s Replacement Valentine by Linda Shenton Matchett — Engaged to be married as part of a plan to regain the wealth her family lost during the War Between the States, Vanessa Randolph finds her fiancé in the arms of another woman weeks before the wedding. Money holds no allure for her, so rather than allow her parents to set her up with another rich bachelor she decides to become a mail-order bride. Life in Green Bay, Wisconsin seems to hold all the pieces of a fresh start until she discovers her prospective groom was a Union spy and targeted her parents during one of his investigations. Is her heart safe with any man? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin — Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country—or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she’ll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli — Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong. (General Contemporary from Tyndall House)
Bridges by Deborah Raney — Facing an empty nest for the first time since the death of her husband, Dan, three years ago, Tess Everett immerses herself in volunteer work for the Winterset public parks, home of the famous covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. But when former resident J.W. McRae shows up at one of the bridges with paintbrushes and easel, sparks fly—because J.W. was once married to Tess’s late friend Char. Worse, J.W. was a deadbeat dad to Char’s son, Wynn—then a college student—who Tess and Dan took under their wings after his mom’s death. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)
Death and a Crocodile by Lisa E. Betz — Sensible women don’t investigate murders, but Livia Aemilia might not have a choice. Rome, 46 AD. When Livia’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, she sets out to find the killer before her innocent brother is convicted of murder. She may be an amateur when it comes to hunting dangerous criminals, but she’s determined, intelligent, and not afraid to break a convention or two in pursuit of the truth. (Historical Mystery from CrossLink Publishing)
Tides of Duplicity by Robin Patchen — Private investigator Fitz McCaffrey went to Belize on a case, bringing his teenage sister Shelby along with him. They have no good reason to leave the resort and hurry back to the harsh New England winter. They lost their parents, he lost his job as a cop, and they both need time to heal. Besides, when Fitz meets and spends time with the beautiful and charming Tabitha Eaton, he falls hard. But minutes after Tabby’s flight leaves, Fitz is summoned by a mobster who believes Tabby broke into the hotel safe the night before and made off with half a million dollars’ worth of jewels. The clock is ticking as Fitz scrambles to recover the jewels. If he succeeds, it’ll cost the woman he’s come to care for. If he fails, it’ll cost his sister’s life. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
Glimmer in the Darkness by Robin Patchen — Cassidy Leblanc worked hard to shake off her tragic childhood. As a foster child with a mother in prison for murder, she was an outcast in her small New Hampshire town until she met James. But she and James’s sister, whom she was babysitting, were kidnapped. She escaped, but Hallie didn’t survive, and everybody assumed Cassidy killed her. Like mother, like daughter, after all. With public opinion and the authorities united against her, young Cassidy fled. Now, a decade later, another little girl has been kidnapped, and Cassidy may be the only person who can find her. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
Obsession by Patricia Bradley — Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she’s forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Ben in Charge by Luana Ehrlich — Operation Concerned Citizen will be Ben’s first assignment as the primary officer in charge of a mission. When Titus learns it’s a simple mission with a clear objective but requires a complicated plan, he questions whether Ben will be able to handle it. When he discovers there are underlying circumstances, he questions whether he’ll be able to let Ben handle it. When the simple mission proves difficult, Titus discovers he’s not the man he thought he was, and he’s not the man he wants to be. He’s a man learning to live out his faith while living in the shadows, and sometimes those shadows aren’t shadows at all. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
The Heart Knows the Way Home by Christy Distler — Janna and Luke, a widower struggling to balance business and family responsibilities, reacquaint as Janna assists his grandmother and cares for his son. Her self-protective independence and his conservative principles put them at odds, but the difficulties they face draw them closer. When long-lost friendship rekindles into unexpected love, will either be willing to make changes so they can be together? (Romance: Amish from Avodah Books)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Writing Home by Amy R. Anguish, As they grow closer through their written words, the miles between them seem to grow wider. Can love cross the distance and bring them home? (Contemporary Romance)
The Rancher’s Legacy by Susan Page Davis, Matt Anderson’s father and their neighbor devise a plan: Have their children marry and merge the two ranches. The only problem is, Rachel Maxwell has stated emphatically that will never happen. (Historical Romance)
Daisy’s Decision by Hallee Bridgeman, She soon finds herself in a full-blown relationship with hearts on the line. She can’t keep her secret much longer. Daisy has a decision to make. (Contemporary Romance),
The Amish Baker’s Rival by Marie E. Bast, Amish baker Mary Brenneman is furious when handsome Englischer Noah Miller opens up a bakery right across from hers. Now she must win a local baking contest just to stay in business—and beat know—it—all Noah. But somewhere along the way, Noah and Mary’s kitchen wars are quickly warming into something more. (Contemporary Romance/Amish)
Rekindled from Ashes by Cindy M. Amos, Based on the true story of the Starbuck fire of 2017 that ravaged western Kansas–and area ranchers who demonstrated vulnerable resiliency in its aftermath. Strength for the day…with eyes on the Almighty. (Contemporary Romance)
For the Love of Joy by Janet W. Ferguson — When she’s suddenly injured with not a soul to help her or her son, Joy is forced to rely on the man who has the most reasons to hate her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
An Unlikely Proposal by Toni Shiloh — For these two best friends, marriage could be their greatest test yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
All Through the Night by Tara Johnson — When Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)
Books Afloat by Delores Topliff — Blaming herself for her childhood role in the Oklahoma farm truck accident that cost her grandfather’s life, Anne Mettles is determined to make her life count. Will she go it alone? Or will she team with the unlikely but (mostly) lovable characters? One is a saboteur, one an unlikely hero, and one, she discovers, is the man of her dreams. (Historical from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke — With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t. (Historical from Tyndale House)
One for the Road by Mary Ellis — Staying at an estranged relative’s B&B, Jill’s plan to uncover what makes the state’s bourbon tours so popular goes awry when she discovers a body at one of the distilleries and quickly becomes a suspect in a brutal murder. Can she navigate high-stakes bourbon rivalries, centuries-old family feuds and ill-fated romance to catch a killer? (Cozy Mystery from Severn House)
Texas Witness Threat by Cate Nolan — What do you do when you know you witnessed a crime and no one believes you, but the killers are still coming for you? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Every Good Plan by Urcelia Teixeira — Good fortune was always his best friend. Until it became his enemy! Adam Cross is back in another gripping Christian Suspense that will have you strapped to your favorite reading chair until you turn the very last page! (Thriller/Suspense, Independently published)
Heart of the Crown by Hannah Currie — The last place Lady Wenderley Davis ever expected to find herself after swearing off princes forever was living in a palace with two of them. Even if it is only temporary. And she did agree to it. Kind of. Against her better judgement. (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Penelope Pumpernickel: Precocious Problem-Solver by MaryAnn Diorio – In this first of the delightful Penelope Pumpernickel Series of chapters books for six-to-ten-year-old children, Penelope Pympernickel learns that no matter how big a problem you face, there is always a way to solve it with God’s help. (Children’s)
The Inn at Cranberry Cove by June Foster – Can two people allow the majestic northwest and fragrant coastal air heal their wounded hearts? Will they discover the secret of The Inn at Cranberry Cove? (Contemporary Romance)
The Rancher’s Family Secret by Myra Johnson – Despite their family feud, Spencer Navarro is determined to help his neighbor, Lindsey McClement, when she comes home to save her family ranch. And Lindsey returns the favor by allowing him to house his foster rescue horses in her empty barn stalls. But when the generations-long strife threatens their forbidden friendship, Spencer must choose between a new love and his family. (Contemporary Romance)
William’s Cry, An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia Anne Nash – When genealogist Enid Gilchrist is asked to unravel the family mystery surrounding a seventy-year-old baby blanket, she is intrigued. She expects the project to be a short one that will in no wise interfere with her long-awaited marriage to Chief of Police Patrick Mulhaney. When her short project unravels more threads than expected, both project and wedding plans run amuck as someone makes every effort to stop her investigation. (Cozy Mystery)
A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer – When Ashlyn arrives at White Falls Lodge armed with cosmetic bags and designer shoes, little is she prepared to be stranded by a snow storm, irritated by the handsome resort owner who seems determined to peel away her facade, and redirected by a God Ashlyn wants to forget, through Mamie Lou’s real gift … the secret story of her grandmother’s past. (Contemporary Romance)
During the turbulence of the Great War and the Russian Revolution, Eye of the Storm continues to follow the lives of the Hildebrandt family, Russian Mennonite landowners in an era of upheaval, and of Paul Gregorovich Tekanin, revolutionary and journalist.
Setting and circumstances unfold in sweeping historical saga style, giving readers a glimpse into the turmoil of Russia in 1917-1919. We see urban and pastoral, slum and estate, tragedy and hope… and the occasional flash of humour to keep the story from becoming too heavy.
Like the Amish in North America, the Mennonites’ faith teaches pacifism—a choice for which many have been persecuted or killed over the years. Here in this part of Russia where they’d been promised peaceful haven, some are now considering the desperate step of taking up arms to protect their families. Others press into the way of peace with the knowledge that it may cost their lives.
“Life is demanding. I believe when once one accepts the fact that it is so, one becomes much freer to make the best of it.” [Maria Hildebrandt’s grandmother, Chapter 2]
“No matter how insignificant or overwhelming our contributions may be, if we act in obedience to God and our conscience, we can make a difference.” [Johann Sudermann, Chapter 3]
The ideas were raw and unchewed, but Paul swallowed them whole, starved as he was for something to fill the enormous void in his life. [Chapter 14]
Reading this novel in the middle of the uncertainty of a global pandemic helped me draw courage from the Hildebrandts’ example. As they struggled to make sense in the darkness and to see their way forward, relying on their faith, I was reminded that for all that changes, much remains the same. Every generation faces difficulties, and somehow that perspective can give us hope.
Eye of the Storm is book 2 in Janice L. Dick’s Storm series, originally published by Herald Press and now re-releasing as part of The Mosaic Collection’s historical line. For more about the author, visit janicedick.com. For more about The Mosaic Collection, visit mosaiccollectionbooks.com.
A Prayer Quilt Christmas by Nancy J. Farrier — Meg’s ex-husband took her boys away for the holidays, and she’s lost her heart to celebrate, but Wade is determined to make this Christmas special for her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
His Holiday Prayer by Tina Radcliffe — After receiving an unexpected job offer in Texas, widower Tucker Rainbolt decides he and his twins need a fresh start. But moving on means leaving his best friend, Jena Harper, and their vet clinic behind. For the first time, Tucker sees Jena as more than a buddy. What if leaving isn’t the answer? Maybe what he’s been missing has been right beside him the whole time… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Christmas on Ocracoke by Christina Sinisi — Reeling from the upheaval of a failed marriage, Annie Hanahan is desperate for a new start—and when she inherits a cottage on Ocracoke Island, she may finally get it. Without a second thought, she packs up and leaves everything behind: her first name, her job, and her ex-husband. But when she arrives in the Outer Banks, she finds the island—and her promised refuge—ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. As a contractor who has given so much of his time to helping Ocracoke recover, it surprises no one when Trey Kingsley offers to help the beautiful newcomer, but something is holding her back. Life keeps throwing them together, though, or perhaps God’s hand is giving them a nudge. Will a little bit of divine intervention be enough for a Merry Christmas on Ocracoke? (Contemporary Romance, Anaiah Press)
A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer — Atlanta film makeup artist Ashlyn Jennings is willed a mysterious box containing a key from her grandmother’s estate. Mamie Lou, the former Hollywood B-lister who inspired Ashlyn’s path in life, always demonstrated a flair for the dramatic. But did Mamie Lou really expect her to put everything on hold to clean out a mountain cabin no one even knew about? And right at Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Season of Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Life is good for Ronnie Coborn. She’s newly married to a man who loves her and dotes on her daughter. A man handpicked by Ronnie’s father, a popular pastor at a megachurch who’s been married to her mother for forty years. Yes, life is good. Until a shocking revelation exposes the fact that everything in her idyllic life—her marriage, family, and faith—is based on a lie. (Contemporary, Independently Published)
Hope’s Reward by Carol Ashby — When a gladiator slave becomes a Christian and runs away from his life of killing to join other believers, his rescue of a Roman woman makes him her escort on a dangerous journey that opens unexpected futures for both of them. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)
The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson — A WWII Japanese naval officer. The teenage daughter of a legendary Christian samurai. Three centuries separate them, but a crucial question binds their destinies together. Which lives have value? (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)
For the Love of Emma by Starr Ayers — A rose-covered grave, seventy-nine letters, and a scribbled note unearth buried emotions and the timeless beauty of first love. Inspired by actual letters found in her mother’s trunk, Starr pens a poignant love story set in the throes of the Great Depression and portrays a young couple’s quest to keep their love alive, regardless of events that threaten to tear them apart. (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
Depending on You by Melissa Jagears — Can the joy and hope of Christmas restore their love before it’s too late? Leah Whitsett’s life was ideal until the disastrous day she nearly died because of her husband’s deceit. When he returns home weeks before Christmas, she knows the best gift she can give him is forgiveness, but how can she relinquish her hard-won independence knowing he plans to turn their family’s life upside down again? Bryant has always known his wife was a gift he’d never deserved, but how can he provide for her in a town that no longer wants anything to do with him? He longs to atone for the misery he’s put his loved ones through, but when he brings a family member home for the holidays, he and Leah may end up even further apart. With emotions high and their marriage at stake, will the season bring the hope they need…or are their rifts too large to mend? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Legacy of Love by Linda Shenton Matchett — Escaping Boston to avoid a marriage of convenience aimed at garnering society’s respect for her family name in the shadow of her father’s war profiteering, Meg Underwood settles in Spruce Hill, Oregon. Despite leaving behind the comforts of wealth, she’s happy. Then the handsome Pinkerton agent, Reuben Jessop, arrives with news that she’s inherited her aunt’s significant estate, and she must return home to claim the bequest. Meg refuses to make the trip. Unwilling to fail at his mission, Reuben gives her until Christmas to prove why she should remain in Spruce Hill and give up the opportunity to become a woman of means. When he seems to want more than friendship, she wonders if her new-found wealth is the basis of his attraction. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Deadly Amish Reunion by Dana R. Lynn — Jennie Beiler’s husband was supposed to be dead, so she’s shocked when he rescues her from an attacker. Although Luke has no memories of his Englisch wife, it’s up to him to protect her from someone who won’t stop until she’s dead. Can the peaceful Amish community he returned to after losing his memory shelter them and their son this Christmas when danger strikes again? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Christmas Protection Detail by Terri Reed — When a call from a friend in trouble leads Nick Delaney and Deputy Kaitlyn Lanz to a car crash that killed a single mother, they become the baby’s protectors. Now figuring out why someone is after the child is the only way to save her. But they must find answers soon…or this baby’s first Christmas might just be Nick’s and Kaitlyn’s last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Dawn of Vengeance by Ronie Kendig — Haunted by a prophecy that promises pain and war, bounty hunter Marco Dusan forges alliances to protect the primitive world against Symmachia’s devastating influence. But one truth becomes painfully clear: the biggest threat to their world may be much, much closer to home. (Speculative Fiction from Kregel Publications)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Ask Lolita by Roger E. Bruner – Not only does the Town Curmudgeon’s pet hen Lolita learn to use the computer and get her own newspaper column, she helps the lifelong bachelor survive the challenges of old age and find true love in the process. (Contemporary Fantasy)
The Mistletoe Contract by Jennifer Chastain – He needs a wife to inherit the family business, she needs money for her mother’s medical treatment, but is their convenient marriage a blessing or a disaster waiting to happen? (Contemporary Romance)
Giving Grace by Jennifer Pierce – Nothing is more embarrassing than Grace Dixon’s dog peeing on the new mailman. Except maybe when she thinks she’s hit the handsome man with her SUV. When he’s assigned to cover an injured co-worker’s route, Evan McDonald assumes it will be like any other mail route he’s done. But then he meets Grace Dixon, and he’s thrust into total Christmas chaos. (Contemporary Romance)
The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer – On the run from a heartless uncle, Arabella Taube hides in Nate Horne’s farm wagon just as a harsh winter storm sweeps into Colorado. Despite Ara’s mysterious background, Nate’s mother thinks she is the answer to a prayer and the hope for his future. (Historical Romance)
Snowbound in Winterberry Falls by Ann Brodeur — Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last minute vacation road trip to focus and to seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget. Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge. When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper, and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance, cost her everything she’s ever wanted? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)
The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson — All’s fair in love and prank wars. As a live theater actress, Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor. Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
The Calm I Seek by Christina Lourens — After the violent death of her husband, Rebecca Holmes is content leading a quiet life spending time with her sisters and niece. When her younger sister Hannah asks her to plan her wedding, Rebecca discovers her friends and family all think her life is empty. Determined to prove them wrong, Rebecca takes up salsa lessons where she meets the charismatic salsa teacher, Gabriel Rodriguez. Falling in love is the last thing Rebecca wanted to do, but she is inexplicably drawn to Gabriel. Just when she’s decided to give her heart to Gabriel, disaster strikes her family, and she is forced to confront her past actions. Can there be redemption for her and can she forgive those who betrayed her? (Contemporary Romance from Pheasant Hill Press)
His Christmas Wish by Allie Pleiter — All he wants for Christmas is a family… To make his little nephew happy, this bachelor will need help… After his nephew, Cole, is orphaned, Jake Sanders vows to give the little boy the best Christmas possible…except Jake doesn’t know the first thing about kids! So when Cole’s preschool teacher, Emma Mullins, offers to pitch in, Jake’s grateful for her guidance. But while Jake and Emma share an immediate connection, their blossoming love must first survive the secret she’s hiding… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Together for Good by Penelope Powell — Having lost her mother in a tragic accident, Laney Spence is no stranger to grief and loss. Despite this tragedy touching her life at such a young age, Laney has maintained her belief that God brings good out of even the most difficult circumstances. For her, that good came in the form of her older brother’s best friend, Matthew Jordan. Kind and compassionate, Matthew helped her grieve—and she’s been harboring a crush on him ever since. Years later, when tragedy shatters Matthew’s life, Laney is there for him the same way he’d been there for her all those years ago. But they’re not kids anymore. She’s a teacher with little life experience, and he’s a jaded divorce lawyer with a past he’d rather keep secret. Neither of them can ignore the attraction that blooms, though, leaving them both wondering—is attraction, history, and a shared faith in God enough to keep them together for good, or will circumstances beyond their control drive them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)
Rocky Mountain Revelation by Lisa J. Flickinger — Widowed at nineteen, Madeline Lamb seeks to find a new husband amongst the crew of the Rocky Mountain log drive. With a baby growing inside her, she has no choice. She signs on as cook’s helper, and it soon becomes apparent her options for a mate are limited. Madeline’s grieving heart wavers between the security an older man offers and the tender feelings a new crew member stirs. Will Matheson earned the chance to work the high-paying spring log drive. The boon ensures he can recoup the logging wages stolen by a pretty face with some fast fingers. Frustration builds when the boss pulls him from the river and assigns him the job of camp chore boy. If it wasn’t for the pretty cook’s helper, he’d take the first train home. When the dangers of the river journey prove more treacherous than anyone expects, the budding attraction between Will and Madeline is put to the test. If they survive the adventure, life as they know it will never be the same. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
A Bride for Seamus by Linda Shenton Matchett — When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him. After three mail order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Dangerous Deceptions by Evelyn M. Hill — Rachel Garrett has the ideal life in a small town, surrounded by people she trusts—until a stranger arrives and tells her that she is living a lie. Michael Sullivan’s claim that she’s been brainwashed can’t be right. Her life is perfect. But ever since he’s shown up, she’s had to deal with people attempting to manipulate, drug, or even kidnap her. Now Rachel must decide if she believes her closest friends…or the one man who makes her feel truly safe. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Forgiven Again by Gina Holder — Annie Staten, now known as Kathleen Phillips, has dreamed of pursuing a political career and following in her father’s footsteps. But Richard was a hated man during his tenure as governor and now his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent his daughter from winning the election. Ryan Whitestone has loved Annie since high school, but his heart is broken by the woman she has become. When the daughter she gave up for adoption comes back into her life, can he help Kathleen heal from her pain and remind her of who she used to be? Will Kathleen be able to forgive herself, put the past behind her, and find love again? The continuing story of No Greater Love. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
Grave Christmas Secrets by Sharee Stover — Discovering buried evidence makes her a target. At a prehistoric site, forensic anthropologist Taya McGill uncovers a recently buried body days before Christmas and finds herself in a killer’s sights. Now on the run with undercover ATF agent Keegan Stryker, she must rely on him to guard her as they figure out why someone would kill to keep this murder unsolved. But can they unearth the truth before someone silences them both for good? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Uncharted Freedom by Keely Brooke Keith — Naomi McIntosh is running from her family’s oppressive expectations and the loathsome man her father has demanded she marry. Renaming herself to live incognito, she takes a housekeeping job at the Inn at Falls Creek and promises God this false identity will be her last. When shepherd James Roberts goes home to the Inn at Falls Creek for his sister’s wedding, he doesn’t expect the woman who once broke his heart to be working there. No matter how much he wants to be with Naomi again, he can’t go along with her charade, especially since he is trying to persuade his father to make him the inn’s heir. Though Naomi yearns for a future with James, if she confesses her deception to everyone, her estranged fiancé will find her. And the longer James goes without telling his family the truth about Naomi—and their growing relationship—the further he jeopardizes the inheritance. But just when their relationship looks promising, the inn proves to be a poor hiding place from Naomi’s past. (Speculative Romance, Independently Published)
Termination Zone by Adam Blumer –In the Justice Club, you’re either all in, or you’re dead. Pianist Landon Jeffers has been hiding in Georgia’s woods to keep his loved ones safe from the Justice Club, the cybercrime network seeking to control him through his brain implant. But when his means of blocking their controlling signals is compromised and he receives word that a family member may be in danger, he is forced out of hiding. Now Landon covertly works with unexpected allies including the FBI to help shut the Justice Club down from the inside. But when he is prepped during his concert tour for a high-profile hit targeting the highest levels of the US government, the stakes have never been higher. Can he and his allies thwart the Justice Club’s mission of violence in time? Even if that means placing the woman he loves in danger? The deadline is coming. And death is certain if he fails. (Techno-Thriller Suspense, Independently Published)
Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig — Leif Metcalfe is done waiting for answers and seizes control, a move that comes with a high price and a deadly risk: teaming up with the enemy. He can only hope that what he uncovers will heal the wounds he’s inflicted on those he loves. Iskra Todorova believes Leif is on a collision course with death and knows firsthand the irrevocable cost of that path to the soul. While trying to protect her daughter and intervene with Leif, Iskra is forced to set her sights on the man behind the evil organization ArC–Ciro Veratti. Torn apart by injuries and opposing views on how to handle Leif’s act of treachery, team Reaper hunts one of their own. The only thing they agree on is not stopping but starting the final battle prophesied in the Book of the Wars. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])
Fortune’s Fall by Katherine Barger — While her classmates prepare for elite careers across America, Nyssa Ardelone trains for her secret job as the president’s dream interpreter. But when her mentor lies to the president about the prophecy in his latest dream, Nyssa must figure out why before the lie unravels. What she learns could destroy her own future. Fearful of a rumored rebellion, the president has launched a gas attack on Nyssa’s hometown, and her mentor lied about the dream to protect the survivors from more harm. When Nyssa learns her parents were injured in the attack, she flees with a stranger sent to steal the antidote—a stranger who claims to know her. Together, they race to deliver the cure as well as an interpretation of another prophetic dream only Nyssa can provide. But a devastating loss dulls her caution, and she learns too late that not everyone is trustworthy. To survive the president’s deadly pursuit, Nyssa must break every rule she’s ever followed, learning along the way that faith is the only thing that can save her. (Young Adult from Anaiah Press)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Methuselah Project S.O.S. by Rick Barry – In order to rescue a friend, Air Force Captain Roger Greene accepts temporary duty with the CIA–and lands in more danger than he ever imagined. (Romantic Suspense)
Mercy Will Follow by Sarah Hanks – Natassa is a devoted, and slightly devious, wife and mother. But when the unthinkable happens, she is forced to reexamine what she believes about life, truth, race, and the God she always thought she believed in. (Contemporary)
Lighter Than Air by Linda Hoover – Elena Bishop’s father has gambled away their home, but she feels God has shown her what to do to save it in spite of interference from Justin Ramsay, her neighbor, who has an agenda of his own that doesn’t allow both of them to succeed. (Historical Romance)
Bag of Bones by Jackie Layton – Andi Grace Scott puts her sleuthing skills to the test when the island’s Cat Lady is found dead. (Cozy Mystery)
Always and Forever by Cathe Swanson – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)
Ghost by Michael Jack Webb – The FBI’s youngest, most brilliant Profiler is tracking a serial killer with supernatural abilities, and the life-threatening case will challenge her beliefs about the world around her and her understanding of what is real, what is myth, and what is something in between. (Supernatural Suspense)
Resisting by H. L. Wegley – Civil war has begun and a band of patriots takes on the president in a battle for the soul of America. (Romantic Suspense)
Fair Trade, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2020)
This third instalment in The Barks & Beans Café Mystery Series sees brother and sister co-owners Bo and Macy Hatfield on location at the West Virginia state fair with a booth for iced coffee, snacks, and a few of the shelter dogs who make up the “barks” side of the name.
This time, Macy reconnects with an old school friend, now a country music star, who’s in town for a couple of concerts at the fair. Macy enjoys the chance to see behind the scenes in the band, but when there’s an attempt on her friend’s life the rest of the band suddenly look like suspects.
The fairground atmosphere took me back to fun childhood memories of rides, food, and exhibits. Favourite line:
It was a curious concoction of popcorn, hot dogs, and caramel, mingled with the very human scent of something I could only describe as undiluted excitement.
[Kindle location 719, Macy describing the scent of the fair]
I found the psychology especially interesting in this story, and of course Coal the Great Dane is a treat. I like how he’s always featured on the covers. Waffles the clueless shelter dog is back, as well of course as the likeable siblings and their staff and friends. And there’s a surprise cameo appearance by someone fans will recognize from another Heather Day Gilbert series.
Another thing I appreciate about this series is the overarching plot threads that link the books. Not that a reader couldn’t start here and be happy, but continuity-wise it’s better to start at the beginning and watch it all unfold. Each story is complete on its own, but as well as developing relationships there’s the shadowy background villain who keeps inserting himself into Macy’s life.
Fair Trade is a quick, clean cozy mystery that may have you wishing for a chance to take in your own local fair.
Award-winning author Heather Day Gilbert writes cozy mysteries, suspense and romantic suspense, and Viking historicals. For more about the author and her books, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.
[Advance review copy provided by the author. My opinions are my own.]
What a treat to find a new-to-me, established author with a book that could keep me reading past my bedtime.
This one engaged me to the point of trying to figure out the mystery myself when usually I just follow the characters along for the ride. Did I solve it? No, but I did guess the main villain before it was obvious to the characters!
Willow Anderson is a forensic genealogist who wants to honour her grandfather by taking the one last case he’d been investigating at his death. Even if that means working with her ex-boyfriend, Austin McKade.
The objective: solve an FBI cold case, a baby abducted from a hospital 20 years ago. Attempts on Willow’s life quickly make it clear that someone wants the case to stay unsolved.
The search takes them back to Austin’s hometown, unlocking the family secrets that had kept him from committing to Willow in the past.
I liked the writing, the characters, the faith elements, and the beautiful Wyoming scenery.
While death was no stranger to her, a courteous knock on the door to give warning this time would have been appreciated. [Kindle location 192]
Seeing her like this felt like a dull-bladed knife was cutting open his insides. [Kindle location 540]
Never Let Go is book 1 in the Uncommon Justice series, and I’ll definitely be reading the rest. Book 2, Always Look Twice, is Heath’s story (the second of the three McKade brothers). For more about Elizabeth Goddard and her work, visit elizabethgoddard.com.