Tag Archives: clean reads

Review: End Game, by Rachel Dylan

End Game, Book 1 in the Capital Intrigue series from Rachel Dylan

End Game, by Rachel Dylan (Bethany House, 2020)

With End Game, Rachel Dylan delivers a fast-paced, high-stakes thriller that still finds room for romance.

The book’s back cover sums it up better than I can:

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper whom Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

A novel like this could be gritty, violent, and scary. Instead, it’s gripping but non-traumatic to timid readers like me. What I most appreciated, though, was a secondary factor: Bailey and her two best friends, Viv and Layla, have a fantastic, strong friendship. They have one another’s backs professionally as well as emotionally, and it’s a fantastic example. Since End Game is book 1 in the Capital Intrigue series, I’m hoping we’ll see the other two women as main characters in books 2 and 3.

A surprising number of the key characters are Christians—perhaps more than one would find thrown together on a case like this in real life. Their struggles to process why bad things happen, past hurts, and fear of loss are one thread in the fabric of this story. Nothing’s preachy or glib, just honest wrestling such as many Christians do in real life.

Rachel Dylan is an award-winning, bestselling author of Christian suspense and legal thrillers. For more about the author and her work, visit racheldylan.com.

[I received a complimentary copy of this book via #NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.]

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (January 2020)

January 2020 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:

A Rancher to Trust by Laurel Blount — After learning his ex-wife isn’t so ex after all, rebel turned rancher Dan Whitlock is determined to prove he’s a changed man…but Bailey Quinn is just as set on finally ending their marriage. When tragedy makes Dan the guardian of little orphaned twins, he and Bailey are drawn back together. But can she forgive the past and open her heart to the family she’s always wanted? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Star Rising by Janet W. Ferguson — Star Youngblood tries to protect her employer, Mrs. Priscilla Kelly, from the woman’s neglectful son, an aspiring flight instructor who has issues with religion, but finds her own heart is at the greatest risk. (Contemporary Romanc, Independently Published)

A Promise to Keep by Melony Teague — Savannah, a widowed research librarian, goes to her twenty year class reunion and gets reacquainted with Michael, a former troublemaker who is now a professional technical rescuer. Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)


General Contemporary:

A Long Time Comin by Robin W. Pearson — To hear Beatrice Agnew tell it, she entered the world with her mouth tightly shut. Just because she finds out she’s dying doesn’t mean she can’t keep it that way. If any of her children have questions about their daddy and the choices she made after he abandoned them, they’d best take it up with Jesus. There’s no room in Granny B’s house for regrets or hand-holding. Or so she thinks. Her granddaughter, Evelyn Lester, shows up on Beatrice’s doorstep anyway, burdened with her own secret baggage. Determined to help her Granny B mend fences with her far-flung brood, Evelyn turns her grandmother’s heart and home inside out. Evelyn’s meddling uncovers a tucked-away box of old letters, forcing the two women to wrestle with their past and present pain as they confront the truth Beatrice has worked a lifetime to hide. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)


Historical Romance:

Freedom in the Mountain Wind by Misty M. Beller — A young woman faces overwhelming odds to make her father’s dream come true before he dies of lung cancer, but paddling upriver through fierce rapids and fighting hungry grizzlies to follow the Lewis and Clark trail isn’t what terrifies her the most. Beaver Tail endured more than he can stand from the women in his Blackfoot camp, but the last disaster gave him the final shove he needed to join this band of brothers searching for one of their group who’s gone missing. The last thing he expected was to find a white woman and her sick father stranded at the base of a massive waterfall. His plan is to help them carry their oversize canoe and supplies, then leave them to their strange mission. Yet, the more he learns about the pair, the more he realizes his life is about to be derailed—again. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Uncharted Promises by Keely Brooke Keith — Sybil Roberts uses the warmth of delicious meals to lift the spirits of road-weary travelers at The Inn at Falls Creek. Her life at the inn would be perfect if she could just get her brothers and mother to move back home. And if she could see Isaac Owens again. He visited the inn once when he interviewed for the farm manager job, and she’s dreamed of his return to Falls Creek ever since. Isaac Owens knows how to run a farm. His family might not have faith in him, but if he succeeds at Falls Creek, he’ll prove them wrong. He arrives at the inn thinking the job is his, but the inn’s senile owner offered the position to another man too. Isaac must spend the winter competing if he wants to win the job… and Sybil’s heart. It will take more than warm meals on cold nights for Sybil and Isaac to find love while working at the isolated inn. (Historical Romance from Edenbrooke Press)

Forever Hidden by Kimberley Woodhouse, Tracie Peterson — Sybil Roberts uses the warmth of delicious meals to lift the spirits of road-weary travelers at The Inn at Falls Creek. Her life at the inn would be perfect if she could just get her brothers and mother to move back home. And if she could see Isaac Owens again. He visited the inn once when he interviewed for the farm manager job, and she’s dreamed of his return to Falls Creek ever since. Isaac Owens knows how to run a farm. His family might not have faith in him, but if he succeeds at Falls Creek, he’ll prove them wrong. He arrives at the inn thinking the job is his, but the inn’s senile owner offered the position to another man too. Isaac must spend the winter competing if he wants to win the job… and Sybil’s heart. It will take more than warm meals on cold nights for Sybil and Isaac to find love while working at the isolated inn. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock — On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving. With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared? At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Secret Mountain Hideout by Terri Reed — Staying hidden has kept her alive… But now she’s been found. A remote Colorado mountain town and a fake identity have been Ashley Willis’s safe haven since fleeing after she witnessed a murder—but now the killer has found her trail. Desperate and terrified, she’s prepared to run again…but Deputy Sheriff Chase Fredrick won’t let her. With the lawman by her side, can she face danger head-on…and live long enough to bring a murderer to justice? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

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

50-50 by Roger Bruner, Contemporary
Shattered Treasure by Cindy Patterson, Romantic Suspense
The Contessa Is Missing by Linda Siebold, Romantic Suspense
The Forever Sky by Janalyn Voigt, Western Romance
Northern Hearts by Laurie Wood, Romantic Suspense

Review: Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock (Thomas Nelson, 2019)

In Smoke Screen, Terri Blackstock gives us a novel of second chances, romance, faith—and mystery. It’s not a high-suspense story, but the emotional tension will keep readers turning pages.

Nate’s father has spent 14 years in prison for the murder of Brenna’s father, all the while claiming he’s innocent. If he is, then there’s a killer in town. Nate himself, now a smoke jumping firefighter, is thought by many to be responsible for burning down the dead man’s church. Even his father thinks he did it—but he didn’t. So who did?

Brenna and Nate were childhood sweethearts until tragedy scarred both their families. Now Brenna’s in a losing battle for custody of her kids after her husband left her for a younger woman. Her children are her life. When they’re gone on the weekend, not even alcohol can numb the pain.

What I appreciated most about the story is the compassionate and honest portrayal of a Christian struggling with drinking. It happens, and as in Brenna’s case, the faith aspect can increase the shame and guilt. I hope her example can bring hope to others who fight this battle in real life.

For more about the book and about New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock, visit terriblackstock.com.

[I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.]

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (December 2019)

December 2019 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:


 

Stranded for the Holidays by Lisa Carter — Running away led her right where she belonged. A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for. Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson — After a knockout first date where Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley claim to not want kids, both come home to find three children dropped in their laps. . . each. While struggling to keep their heads above the parental waters, and without wanting to break up their relationship, they decide to do the mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Home for Christmas by Candee Fick — After an embarrassing failure, a prodigal retreats to a secluded cabin in backwoods Missouri where he encounters an intriguing young woman and an old guitar. When the message in the music touches his heart, will he make it home in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna by Barbara James — While interning as a hospital chaplain, a young military officer falls for an EMT who is an antiwar activist. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 


Children’s:

 

Battle In The Valley by Susanne Blumer — The church bell tower transports Chip, Caroline and Billy back thousands of years to an ancient battlefield. There they meet a young shepherd destined to be king and a giant warrior bent on his destruction. Will the children survive the upcoming fight and make it back to Palmetto Island in one piece? (Middle-grade from Sutton Avenue Press)

 


Historical:


 

Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby — When a former legionary and a gladiator are hired to escort a young woman on her quest to rescue her brother and sister from slavery, more chains are broken by forgiveness and love than any of them thought possible. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

 


Historical Romance:


 

The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings — In a western land run, an adventurous socialite stakes a claim on an orphaned outlaw’s chosen land, so he decides to stake a claim on her heart. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Sew In Love by Debby Lee, Jacquolyn McMurray, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse — When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love? In Hearts Sewn with Love, during the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t. In Woven Hearts, a shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help. In A Language of Love, a milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart. In Tailored Sweethearts, a parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear — During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

 


Romantic Suspense:


 

Silent Night Suspect by Sharee Stover — Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit… All she wants for Christmas is to remember. Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 


Speculative:

 

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig — After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

 


Thriller/Suspense:

 

Laynie Portland, Renegade Spy by Vikki Kestell — Laynie must fight to earn her place on the task force—even as unfolding events expose a looming danger. Wolfe’s task force has a leak . . . one that threatens them all. (Suspense, Independently Published)

 
 

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

Promise for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin, Historical Romance
Call to Love by Mary A. Felkins, Contemporary Romance
Joy’s Song by Ruth Kyser, Contemporary Romance
Hope Between Us by Christy LaShea, Contemporary Romance
The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Contemporary
Off the Ground by Catherine Richmond, Historical Romance
Crinoline Cowboys by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Historical Romance
A High-Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer, Historical Romance
The Christmas Gazebo by Marilyn Turk, Lenora Worth, Historical Romance

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Review: A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek, by Carol McClain

A New York Yankee on  Stinking Creek, by Carol McClain

A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek, by Carol McClain (Hummingbird Hill Press, 2019)

Mourning the sudden death of her fiancé, popular New York artist Kiara Rafferty flees to the property he had bought for her in the remote rural area of Stinking Creek, Tennessee. An outspoken atheist, Kiara is horrified by the condition of the property and even more so to discover that her nearest neighbours are a Christian pastor and his family.

Delia Mae, the pastor’s wife, is as outspoken as Kiara yet she offers help and support as Kiara struggles to find her way in this unexpectedly difficult place. The two women develop an unlikely friendship that helps them both. At one point, Delia Mae says, “We’re kindred spirits—from polar worlds.” [Chapter 19]

The collision of two cultures and belief systems, plus a Northerner encountering puzzling Southern dialects and cuisine, makes for interesting and often amusing reading. I appreciated the honest dialogue between the two women and the tentative romance between Kiara and Shann (Delia Mae’s brother-in-law).

As Kiara progresses toward faith, largely due to the consistent love demonstrated by Delia Mae, Shann, and his children, Delia Mae’s strained marriage begins to crack. While we see glimpses of her husband, Beau, as the man she fell in love with, mostly we see how rigid and demanding he’s become. We see her desiring to please God but somehow trapped in trying to please her husband and the church ladies.

This is a novel about friendship, family, love, marriage, and faith—about courage and second chances. I enjoyed the story, and it left me considering my own life for ways I might have allowed expectations, real or perceived, to rule me instead of living in God’s grace.

Carol McClain has also written Yesterday’s Poison: A Novel of Forgiveness. For more about the author and her work, visit carolmcclain.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Secrets and Lies: A Quiz Before the Sale Ends

Secrets and Lies, by Janet Sketchley #Christianfiction #romanticsuspense

Carol Daniels thinks she out-ran her enemies, until a detective arrives at her door with a warning from her convict brother. Minor incidents take on a sinister meaning. An anonymous phone call warns her not to hide again.

Now she must cooperate with a drug lord while the police work to trap him. Carol has always handled crisis alone, but this one might break her. Late-night deejay Joey Hill offers friendship and moral support. Can she trust him? One thing’s certain. She can’t risk prayer.

To celebrate 5 years in print and digital, the ebook versions of Secrets and Lies have been on sale at $0.99. The sale ends Nov. 17, 2019, and I’m pleased that lots of new readers have taken the opportunity to meet Carol, Paul, and the rest of the cast.

If you’ve read Secrets and Lies, you might want to try the short quiz on Goodreads. (I don’t think you need to have a membership there.)

If you haven’t read it and you like romantic suspense, check it out before the sale ends! Here’s the international buy link.

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (November 2019)

November 2019 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:

Royally Yours by Betsy St. Amant, Ashley Clark, Liz Johnson, and Melissa Tagg — Tinsel, Vermont is known for its no-paparazzi policy and Christmas decorations that are fit for a queen. This holiday season, join four royals on a stroll through town square as they each find their Christmas wishes for a happily-ever-after…tiaras optional. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Christmas by Julie Arduini — A young woman overcome by grief teams up with a special education teacher to bring joy to the community through a Christmas-themed tourist attraction. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Valerie’s Verdict by Hallee Bridgeman — Broken and battered, Valerie comes home and finds a lifetime of love waiting for her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Unexpected Family by June Foster — Grant Elliot leaves his father’s veterinarian dynasty and overambitious twin brother to practice in the small town of Homedale, California. When local baker Kate Klein brings her ailing dog into the office, Grants’s intrigued by the lab’s gorgeous owner. He wants to get to know her but can’t reveal his origins. What would she think if she knew his father’s clinics cater only to the wealthy who spoil and pamper their pets instead of practicing genuine medicine? Kate Kline inherits Aunt Ella’s Bake Shop when her aunt passes away and must make a success of the failing business or lose her father’s respect. Now California Plastics, her major account, has moved their plant to Sacramento. She’s faced with the possibility of closure and won’t accept Grant’s offer to bail her out. She doesn’t need a man’s help. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

All is Bright by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Kari Trumbo — Four of your favorite contemporary romance authors join festive forces to bring you the fourth-annual Christmas Lights Collection. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Simply Smitten by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Business brought them together but will betrayal pull them apart? Michael Pierce co-owns a start-up software development company. They are well on their way to success when Michael discovers something that changes everything. Can the beautiful economist he hired fix the mess, or are they doomed to bankruptcy? Hailey is under a lot of pressure at work. Not the least of which comes directly from her new boss. She’s dreamed of being a successful businesswoman, but now her heart wants more. Can she have love and a career, or will she have to choose? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

By All Appearances by Dawn Kinzer — An attractive special events planner from a wealthy family and a disfigured musician find their lives entangled when he is hired as a caretaker on her family’s estate. (Contemporary Romance from Mountainview Publishing)

Courting the Amish Nanny by Carrie Lighte — Embarrassed by an unrequited crush, Amish maedel Sadie Dienner needs a vacation from her life in Pennsylvania—and from romance. Until Christmas, she’s working in Maine as a nanny to Amish widower Levi Swarey’s twins. But Levi is frustratingly overprotective and they just can’t see eye to eye on anything. And the worst part? Sadie can’t seem to stop herself from losing her heart… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

Meant For Her by Joy Avery Melville — Kidnapped, raped, brutally beaten, and left for dead, Candi Reynolds becomes a prisoner of fear. Faced also with the impact of the unexpected break-up with her fiancé, and an unwanted pregnancy resulting from the attacks, she believes God has forsaken her. Choosing to move back to the Michigan horse farm owned by her older brother, Dr. Cam Reynolds, Candi goes into seclusion. Dr. Patrick (Mack) MacKevon, long-time friend of Cam’s, watches from the sidelines at the farm where his horses are stabled, while Candi struggles to regain a sense of normalcy. His own big-brother tendencies develop into a much deeper emotion over the months he prays for her. Is it possible for Candi to put all of the pain and trauma behind her and renew her former relationship with the Lord? Will she allow her heart to open enough to discover authentic love, while making decisions of victory on her personal journey to joy? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser — A bestselling author, her daughter, and the perpetrator of her assassination attempt are brought together in a story about complicated choices, mental illness, forgiveness and grace. Set against the flaming hills of North Carolina and the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean Sea, When I Close My Eyes tells the story of two families, struggling with dysfunction and finding that love is stronger than death. (Contemporary from Bethany House [Baker])

A Beautiful Mess by Brenda S. Anderson — A single mother becomes guardian of her ex-husband’s love child. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)


Historical:

Wounded Heart by Colleen Hall — Orphaned Della Hughes chafes at her strict Victorian upbringing and goes west with her uncle’s family in order to find adventure and freedom. (Historical from Anaiah Press)

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller — What happens when the hoydenish youngest daughter of the Viscount Aynsley is spirited off to Scotland and meets a kindhearted gardener of the mysterious Laird of Dungally? (Historical from Kregel Publications)

The Silk Merchant of Sychar by Cindy Williams — One woman, five husbands and a weary rabbi at the well who knows ‘everything she ever did.’ From the olive groves of Samaria to the bloodied sand of a Roman stadium to the exquisite silks brought from the East, The Silk Merchant of Sychar weaves color into the biblical account of the woman at the well. (Historical from Rhiza Press)


Historical Romance:

The Highlanders by J’nell Cieselski, Janet S. Grunst, Jennifer Lamont Leo, and Naomi Musch — Never underestimate the heart of a Highlander in these four romantic novellas set across two centuries from 1715 to 1915. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Marisol by Elva Cobb Martin — Alone and with child, Marisol Valentin flees Spain after murdering the nobleman who molested her. She is sold as an indentured servant at the Charles Town Harbor, but her ship is captured at sea by privateer Captain Ethan Becket, once a Charles Town minister, who is grieving his deceased wife. Ethan decides Marisol’s elegant manners make her a perfect governess for his young son. But when he sets out on a quest to find his captured sister, said to be in Cartagena, little does he expect his new Spanish governess to stow away on his ship with her six-month-old child. Her offer of help to free his sister, however, is too tempting to pass up. As is her beauty and strength of character—until he learns she is a wanted murderess. Once their paths intertwine on a journey filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome their pasts and ignite a new beginning. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

In Black and White by MaryAnn Diorio — When graduate student Tori Pendola and Jebuni Kalitsi, a Ghanaian exchange student and heir to his tribe’s chieftaincy, fall deeply in love, they must face not only their own inner demons of rejection and guilt but also the demons of societal hatred bent on destroying their relationship. Will their love survive the cruel and bitter attacks against them? (Historical Romance from TopNotch Press)

Serving Up Love by Regina Jennings, Tracie Peterson, Jen Turano, and Karen Witemeyer — On the Menu for These Ladies? Adventure, Independence, and a Big Serving of Romance! A storied part of American history, Harvey Houses offered women a unique chance to gain independence and see amazing parts of this great country. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

While the Rain Whispered by Kim Williams — Clara Williams has a good life, but she would walk away from it if she could. She longs for adventure greater than both the confines her rural Texas town and the people she loves have to offer. Clara is certain the stories she writes for children contain more adventure than her reality. She cannot reconcile the internal frustration with her faith. When opportunity presents itself at last, Clara is faced with a choice between the life she’s known and the life she longs to know, and the men who each belong in one but not the other. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Mystery/Thriller/Suspense:

Pocket Change by Debbie Archer — When Publisher’s Clearing House winner, Mary Clare Casteel, decides to help rejuvenate her dying town, she has no idea she’ll end up solving not one but two mysterious deaths. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Dead Wrong by Vannetta Chapman — When Agatha Lapp’s brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a buggy accident, Agatha relocates to the new Amish community in Hunt Texas, nestled in the Texas Hill Country. She’s there to make a success of her brother’s dream–an Amish B&B. Agatha is friendly, efficient, and capable. She’s also a fifty-five year old widow who has learned to be independent. When she discovers Russell Dixon’s lifeless body in Cabin 3, she runs next door where retired detective Tony Vargas lives. The police determine that her guest died of natural causes, but as Agatha and Tony put together the events of the previous two days they become convinced that the police are Dead Wrong. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff — John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God’s calling. He’s not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past. But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf–an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to do penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again. Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John’s secrets are laid bare. Can he keep his vow–even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he’s learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, John’s life may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer. . . (Thriller/Suspense from Kregel Publications)

The Sleuth’s Conundrum by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Danger lurks and suspicions abound when a librarian, her young assistant, and a local reporter try to solve the mysteries of both a dead woman and an abandoned child. (Cozy Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Deadly Harmony by Marissa Shrock — Georgia Rae Winston’s romance has broken up. But that’s the least of her problems. Georgia and Detective Cal Perkins are through. Fine. Maybe it’s an opportunity to give charmer Hamlet Miller a chance. But there’s no time for romance when Georgia hosts her stepsister and her roommate, Quincy, during a college chorale tour—and Quincy steals Georgia’s car and disappears. When her car turns up in a cemetery with a cryptic note lying on the front seat, Georgia decides to take action. As Georgia and her stepsister dig into the mystery, they uncover Quincy’s tumultuous past. A past that points to a frightening present. They dig deeper and discover a web of deception they’re determined to untangle, if they can stay alive long enough to bring the truth to light. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

One Day Gone by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas Grey, the chief investigator for Senator Davis Allen, enlists the help of a beautiful photographer when he returns to his hometown to investigate the disappearance of Lizzie Allen, the senator’s missing daughter. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Dangerous Christmas Memories by Sarah Hamaker — Hiding in witness protection is the only option for Priscilla Anderson after witnessing a murder. Then Lucas Langsdale shows up claiming to be her husband right when a hit man finds her. With partial amnesia, she has no memory of her marriage or the killer’s identity. Yet she will have to put her faith in Luc if they both want to live to see another day. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:

What If? by Roger E. Bruner — Three teens join forces with Holyland’s outgoing president to prevent the inevitable election of a man who’s determined to wipe out the remnant of New America’s few remaining Christians. (Speculative, Independently Published)

Anniversary Sale!

Secrets and Lies has a 5-year anniversary this month.

Cake with candle and caption: celebrate!
Photo credit: Janet Sketchley

To celebrate I’ve dropped the ebook price to 99 cents until Nov. 17. If you haven’t read this one, now’s the time. Or tell your friends. 

"If you like romantic suspense with a punch, you'll enjoy Secrets and Lies" ~review by Deborah M. Piccurelli
Secrets and Lies by Janet Sketchley sale price 99 cents until Nov. 17, 2019.
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Review: Love and Other Mistakes, by Jessica Kate

Book cover: Love and Other Mistakes, by Jessica Kate

Love and Other Mistakes, by Jessica Kate (Thomas Nelson, 2109)

I wanted to read this book because of the snappy quotes I’d seen on social media. I thought it was a romantic comedy. Instead of a fun-but-shallow read, I was delighted to discover characters I could care about, depth of plot, and spiritual insights.

Yes, the basic setup looks like it’ll be simple romantic comedy: Natalie ends up working as a nanny for her single-dad ex-fiancé who’s suddenly back in town, and the way they reconnect is definitely comedic. But then there are layers of family and relationship turmoil, both current and long-standing. There are health concerns. And forgiveness issues.

Australian author Jessica Kate’s debut novel delivers realistic, imperfect characters and situations, some fun cultural references, and some thoughts for readers to chew on after they’ve finished. The ending is satisfying without tying up all the messy threads into a pretty-but-fake bow.

For more about the author and her work, visit jessicakatewriting.com. Or check out her StoryNerds podcast with Hannah Davis storynerds.podbean.com.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Review: Unwrapping Hope, by Sandra Ardoin

Book cover: Unwrapping Hope, A  Widow's Might Novella, by Sandra Ardoin

Unwrapping Hope, by Sandra Ardoin (Corner Room Books, 2019)

In the fall of 1986, Phoebe Crain supports her mother and her 5-year-old daughter on her scant earnings as a small-town piano tutor. It’s a long way from the concert stage, but it lets her hide from a past that’s left her bitter.

Spence Newland the Third, owner of the local department store, represents everything she’s come to despise and distrust—or does he? Her daughter, Maura, discovers his kindness.

In this historical romance, Phoebe and Spence each have past hurts that threaten to keep them from discovering a future that would bring young Maura the father she’s been wishing for.

Unwrapping Hope is a prequel novella that leads into Sandra Ardoin’s Widow’s Might series. The Widow’s Might circle is a group of widows in the town who, whether rich or poor, meet for support and to knit scarves etc for the nearby orphanage.

The author does an excellent job of setting the scene and the atmosphere, and I found the historical details interesting. I don’t think of this specifically as a Christmas story, but it does run through fall and finish on Christmas Eve. So while it can be enjoyed any time of year there might be an extra resonance in the season leading up to Christmas.

Favourite lines:

At the same time, she would eat the crow she already smelled cooking. [Kindle location 257]

Years ago Phoebe had seen a similar look in the mirror. If she could go back in time, she would shatter the glass. [Kindle location 378]

Verbenia was the durable thread that kept the emotions of each member of the [Widow’s Might] circle from unraveling. [Kindle location 412] 

Enduring Dreams, the next book in the Widow’s Might series, releases in 2020. For more about historical romance author Sandra Ardoin and her books, visit sandraardoin.com.

[Review copy provided by the author. Opinions are my own.]

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