When her friend Della suspects that an elderly homecare client was murdered, local sleuth Macy Hatfield sees the perfect way to scout out the dead woman’s suspect-laden family: The daughter and her husband run a country inn that’s offering a Halloween weekend getaway.
Leaving her faithful Great Dane, Coal, in the care of her brother, Bo, Macy and Della book a mini getaway. They both need one, and it’ll be fun. What could possibly go wrong?
Among the family, motive abounds. Add a creepy ghost-tour walk, an apparition on the grounds, bats, and a dead body, and Macy and Della may be in too deep. Because there’s nothing ghostly about the very human killer.
It was the kind of sun-speckled October day that wrapped the autumn trees in a lazy golden cocoon. I’d been a child of the mountains since the day I was born, but this kind of weather forced everyone to sit up and acknowledge that West Virginia was called “almost heaven” for good reason. [chapter 1]
Don’t you just want to visit?
Trouble Brewing is book 5 in the Barks & Beans Café Mystery series, clean reads set in small-town West Virginia. Fans of the series will still have a chance to visit the café and enjoy the staff and the rescue dogs, but the bulk of the story takes place at Baxter Manor.
This is a series you can jump into anywhere, with each mystery self-contained. That said, there is a long-running plot thread from Bo’s former work in drug enforcement, and the characters are building relationships with one another and in the community.
Award-winning author Heather Day Gilbert’s books range from cozy mysteries to suspense to Viking historicals. For more about the author and her work, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.
[Advance reader copy provided by the author. My review is voluntary and is my own opinion.]
The Cowboy’s Amish Haven by Pamela Desmond Wright — Her home and her heart are on the line… On the same day Gail Schroder’s faced with losing her Amish family ranch, her old crush Levi Wyse shows up on her doorstep. He doesn’t know that when he left ten years ago he’d taken Gail’s heart with him. Now Levi’s her only hope of keeping a roof over her head. But can this cowboy teach Gail the ropes in time to save her home? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
An Amish Schoolroom by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Shelley Shepard Gray — From three bestselling authors of Amish fiction come three charming stories of new school years and new romance. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
To Bring You Back by Emily Conrad — He’s determined to confront the past she’s desperate to forget. When Adeline Green’s now-famous high school crush descends on her quiet life, a public spotlight threatens to expose her deepest regret. After eight years of trying to bury her mistakes under a life of service, she’s broke financially and spiritually. The last thing she can afford is feelings for the man who took center stage in her past—even if he does claim to know the secret to her redemption. But when Gannon’s fame and their mutual regrets jeopardize their relationship anew, will grace be enough to bring them back to God and each other? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Cornerstone by Nancy J. Farrier — She’s been hurt one time too many—can his patience and love may heal her empty places. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Beyond the Tides by Liz Johnson — When Meg Whitaker’s father decides to sell the family’s lobster-fishing business to her high school nemesis, she sets out to prove she should inherit it instead. Though she’s never had any interest in running the small fleet–or even getting on a boat due to her persistent seasickness–she can’t stand to see Oliver Ross take over. Not when he ruined her dreams for a science scholarship and an Ivy League education ten years ago. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
The Cottage on Seagull Lane by Patti Jo Moore — Mindi Kirkland hopes her move to the quaint town of Ocean Mist, Florida, will help her move forward in her life. The widowed introvert is happy to live closer to her grown daughter, and has no interest in romance after enduring a painful marriage to an alcoholic. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)
A Mother’s Strength by Allie Pleiter — Will finding her son a friend lead to forever love? Single mom Molly Kane will do anything to help her son overcome his anxieties—including enlisting former police officer Sawyer Bradshaw to give him golf lessons. Sawyer’s a loner, yet he quickly forms a bond with little Zack. And with Molly. But protecting Zack means Molly must keep her heart off-limits from Sawyer, even as her little boy draws them together… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
A Warrior’s Heart by Misty M. Beller — Brielle Durand is a key defender and hunter for her people’s peace-loving French settlement in the Canadian mountains. When a foreigner wanders too near to their secret homes, she has no choice but to disarm and capture him. She won’t allow another massacre like the one that killed her mother a dozen years before. But now, what to do with this man who looks at her in a strange way? (Historical Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
The Debutante’s Secret by Mary Davis — Will Geneviève open her heart to a love she never imagined? Geneviève Marseille, a French socialite, has only one purpose in coming to Kamola—stopping her brother from digging up the past. She has reluctantly journeyed alone to the quaint college town in central Washington State. Kamola is so different from her beloved Paris that she is tempted to abort her mission, but the kindness of a handsome deputy tempers her desire to flee. (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
Beyond These War-Torn Lands by Cynthia Roemer — The War brought them together ~ Would it also tear them apart? While en route to aid Confederate soldiers injured in battle near her home, Southerner Caroline Dunbar stumbles across a wounded Union sergeant. Unable to ignore his plea for help, she tends his injuries and hides him away, only to find her attachment to him deepen with each passing day. But when her secret is discovered, Caroline incurs her father’s wrath and, in turn, unlocks a dark secret from the past which she is determined to unravel. (Historical Romance from Scrivenings Press)
Rose Among Thornes by Terrie Todd — War might be raging overseas, but Rose Onishi is on track to fulfill her lifelong goal of becoming a concert pianist. When forced by her government to leave her beloved home in Vancouver and move to the Canadian prairie to work on the Thornes’ sugar beet farm, her dream fades to match the black dirt staining her callused hands. Though the Thorne family is kind, life is unbearably lonely. In hopes that it might win her the chance to play their piano, Rose agrees to write letters to their soldier son. Will Rusty survive the war only to encounter the Japanese on his own doorstep? Can Rose overcome betrayal and open her heart? Or will the truth destroy the fragile bond their letters created? (General Historical from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Into the Unknow by Daphne Self, Daniel Peyton, Lauren Smyth, Eric Landfried, Allen Steadham, P.S. Patton, and Jake Tyson — Humanity has spread and colonized regions of the galaxies. As their reach expanded, countries, colonies, and planets joined to form the Federated Nations, providing a centralized government among the stars. Along with the Science Conglomerate—who explores and researches the unknown regions—and the Judicial Clerical Court—purveyors of truth, history, and justice—humanity discovers new beings, wondrous worlds, old temptations, and strength in horrendous trials. (Speculative from Ambassador International)
One Hundred Proof Murder by Mary Ellis — Travel writer Jill Curtis is in Louisville, Kentucky, on the next stop of her bourbon tour assignment, and is keen to explore the local distilleries with her videographer, Michael Erickson – especially since her new beau, Lieutenant Nick Harris, lives in the city. But the night before Jill’s first tour at Parker’s Distillery, she is shocked to learn that the master distiller, William Scott, has died suddenly of a heart attack – and even more shocked when she discovers William’s daughter, Alexis, suspects foul play. Is there more to William’s death than meets the eye? Jill is soon drawn into a deadly blend of rivalry, jealously, and cold-blooded murder as she attempts to uncover the truth behind William’s unexpected demise. (Cozy Mystery from Severn House)
Exile by Brian Shotton — Gone for three years, Scott returns home to find Aurora in decay. A curse has descended on the small Kentucky town. Someone is convincing the young to take their own lives, and with each suicide the death-cycle grows stronger, entangling all it touches. Scott and Father Stan must find the source of the evil if they hope to heal and restore community. Meanwhile, Dee and Tim find their own trouble at the Order of the Third Sister. A demon has infiltrated the Sisters, hellbent on discovering the truth behind the prophecy of the Scion and secretly ushering in the destruction of the enclave. (Thriller/Suspense/Biblical, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
The Fire Within Us by Greg N. Ford, About to turn thirty, Tom Barton’s life as a fireman/farmer is turned upside down when he meets a beautiful, intriguing woman and someone starts attacking him. (Action/Adventure/Contemporary)
Justice at Dawn by Valerie Massey Goree, When a training exercise turns deadly, can Agent Callahan save the rookie, the abducted family, and himself? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)
Betrayal of Genius by Robin Patchen, Join Jacqui and Reid as they navigate this pulse-pounding, faith-filled adventure into the high-stakes world of medical research, innovation, and greed. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)
Mendicant by Brian Shotton, In the shadows of New Orleans, evil hunts children. And Dee, a one-time Voodoo princess, has discovered why. (Thriller/Suspense/Biblical)
Sweet Summer by Christina Sinisi, Can Shelby let her sisters, Tyler, and even more importantly, God, show her in one Sweet Summer, that love is worth taking the risk? (Contemporary Romance)
Rocky Mountain Restoration by Lisa J. Flickinger — Josephine Thorebourne doesn’t deserve happiness. Not after the mess she’s made. Mid-voyage, on the steamship Jameson, she learns of the tragic loss of her family’s money. Money she stole with the hopes of turning a profit. What should be a delightful voyage up the Canadian coast turns into a journey of regret. Josephine seeks the solace of the man she loves, only to find out he’s an imposter. Left with no other choice, she must return to her home town of Stony Creek and face the anger of those she’s betrayed. Owen Kelly was given the opportunity of a lifetime to steward on the SS Jameson. The work meant he could escape his difficult upbringing along the wharves of Chicago. When his heart falls for the woman in cabin eight, Owen must decide if he will continue his work on the ship or follow the love of his life to her Rocky Mountain home. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Rescuing Her Heart by Cindy Ervin Huff — On visitation rounds as a lay preacher, the last thing rancher Jed Holt expects is to be shot at from the barn next to a burned-down homestead. But the soot-covered woman hiding inside needs protecting, and Jed is the man to do it whether she likes it or not. Delilah James’s nightmares began when she came to Kansas as a mail-order bride. Her husband was nothing like his letters. Now that he is dead, she can’t shake his abuse from her heart. Trusting men tops her never-again list, and taking a job on the Holt ranch as a housekeeper is a means to save money and bring her parents west. But her attraction to the compassionate former chaplain both angers and confuses her. Jed has his own nightmares from a POW camp and understands Delilah better than she knows. Can two broken people form a forever bond? (Historical Romance from Iron Stream Media)
Gold Rush Bride Caroline by Linda Shenton Matchett — Scarred in a childhood accident, Caroline Vogel has yet to find a man willing to marry her, so she heads to the Pike’s Peak goldfields to pan enough ore to become a woman of means. When she and the handsome assistant trail boss hit it off, she begins to hope her future may not be spent alone. Then she catches wind of dark secrets from the man’s past, and she’s not sure what or who to believe. Orphaned as a teenager, Oliver Llewellyn stole to survive, then used his skills for the army during the war. Nowadays, he applies his knowledge to catch dangerous thieves for the Pinkerton Agency, so guarding a young woman during a wagon train journey should be easy. But he didn’t count on the fact she’d angered a man bent on revenge. He also didn’t count on losing his heart. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Hollywood is Not Home by Annmarie M. Roberts — Would you trade fame for privacy? Movie star Maggie Malone has a glamorous lifestyle with everything money can buy―except privacy. Hounded by the paparazzi and ridiculed for her faith, Maggie secretly struggles with severe anxiety and loneliness. All she desires is to be herself–southern girl by birth, ranch lover by heart. When an anonymous benefactor invites Maggie to participate in a secret project, will her hopelessness find a new direction? Or will she become another celebrity travesty? What if she discovers Hollywood is not Home? Her faith, family, love, and future hang in the balance . (General Romance from Ambassador International)
The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik — Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of an 19th Century serial killer whose silver-tongued ways almost trap a young woman into a nightmarish marriage. In 1876, Emma Draycott is charmed into a quick engagement with childhood friend Stephen Dee Richards after reconnecting with him at a church event in Mount Pleasant, Ohio. But within the week, Stephen leaves to “make his fame and fortune.” The heartbroken Emma gives him a special pen to write to her, and he does with tales of grand adventures. Secret Service agent Clay Timmons arrives in Mount Pleasant to track purchases made with fake currency. Every trail leads back to Stephen—and therefore, Emma. Can he convince the naïve woman she is engaged to a charlatan who is being linked a string of deaths in Nebraska? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
If it Rains by Jennifer L. Wright — It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey. Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband―and her new social class―expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading. (General Historical from Tyndale House)
Make You Feel My Love by Robin Lee Hatcher — In 1895, Cora Anderson jumps on a cross-country train to escape New York society and her domineering father. She leaves with only some spare clothing, jewelry that once belonged to her grandmother, her cherished violin, and hopes for an uncertain future. The tiny town of Chickadee Creek is idyllic and welcoming, but it’s only a matter of time before Cora’s new friends discover the secrets of her past. More than a hundred years later, Chelsea Spencer is fleeing a dangerous situation of her own when her great aunt’s antique shop in Chickadee Creek becomes the perfect haven. At the same time, up-and-coming Hollywood star Liam Chandler has returned to the town of his ancestors to grieve some painful family losses and ponder the direction of his career. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
A Future to Fight For by Mindy Obenhaus — Widow Paisley Wainwright’s so close to taking her Texas event-planning business to the next level by turning Renwick Castle into a wedding venue. Only one thing stands in the way: her longtime rival, Crockett Devereaux, who wants the building to become a museum. When the building’s owners insist they collaborate to implement both plans, can Paisley and Crockett put their differences aside…and fight for their dreams together? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Cowgirl’s Sacrifice by Tina Radcliffe — Needing time to heal after a rodeo injury, Kate Rainbolt heads to her family ranch to accept the foreman job her brothers offered her months ago. But the position’s already been filled by her ex-boyfriend, Jess McNally, and the only open job reports to him. With Jess as her temporary boss—and turning into something more—might he finally convince Kate to put down roots? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Yes Dare by Kathleen Y’Barbo — After spending most of her adult life as a football wife and mother to twin sons, fashionista Coco Sutton is learning how to be single and fabulous. Emphasis on Fabulous. The sports trophies, memorabilia, and heavy masculine wood furniture in the home she used to share with Ryan have been banished to the attic, and her home is now a cozy haven of plush candle-scented comfort. She’s got big plans that include owning a boutique or maybe an art gallery, but she never planned to take on the biggest challenge of her life: staying single. Then her best friend gives her a copy of a book called The Yes Dare, and all her plans are turned upside down. (Contemporary Romance from White Glove Publishing)
Her Sanctuary, His Heart by Michelle Dykman — Five years ago, Braelyn Kane’s daughter died. Her marriage imploded, and Forest Hill became Braelyn’s sanctuary. She’s praying for her new life to start, but she doesn’t know where to find it. (Romantic Suspense/Thriller from Ambassador International)
Lethal Cover-Up by Darlene L. Turner — Some secrets are dangerous…But uncovering the truth could be deadly. Border patrol officer Madison Steele knows her sister Leah’s fatal car crash was no accident. Someone’s willing to kill to cover up a pharmaceutical company’s deadly crime of distributing tainted drugs. Now they are after Madison to tie off loose ends. But with her high school sweetheart, Canadian police constable Tucker Reed, at her side, can Madison expose the company’s deadly plan before she becomes the next victim? (Romantic Suspense/Thriller from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Journey to ChiYah by Kimberly Russell — JADE PEPPERDINE HAS A PROBLEM: Her life is crumbling beneath the weight of the past, events of the present, and fears for her future. Things need to change, but she doesn’t know where to start. Answers come in the form of an unexpected opportunity when Jade finds herself stuck in a mythical land. She meets Mayor Dudley, who insinuates she is emotionally broken and in need of repair … a fact she’d just as soon ignore. He offers to help her get home if she is willing to face her issues through a process of restoration. Frightened and skeptical yet out of options, Jade grudgingly agrees. And soon figures out that change is a journey, not a destination. (Speculative Fiction/Fantasy, Independently Published)
A Man with a Past by Mary Connealy — Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix. Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. Ajs love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future. (Western from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
You, Me and the Stars by Michelle Dykman — He thinks she’s shallow, she thinks he’s a nerd. What happens when they are forced to work together? (Young Adult from Ambassador International)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
The Father He Deserves by Lisa Jordan, A determined dad. A wary mother. Making amends is never easy… Injured in a kayaking accident, champion Evan Holland returns home to train rescue dogs. But his unexpected partner is the woman he left behind, Natalie Bishop. And she has a secret: a son Evan never knew he had. Now Evan must prove he can be a real father. But earning Natalie’s trust back will take hope, forgiveness—and risking everything on forever… (Contemporary Romance)
It’s Mystery…Birds by Janetta Fudge Messmer, Follow the Early Birds, plus one, on an RV journey where snooping around leads them to more than clues. It may even include a little matchmaking amid criminal activity. (Mystery)
Trapped in a Hot Air Balloon by Mark Wainwright, When angry siblings find themselves trapped and terrified in a runaway hot air balloon, their situation spirals out of control, forcing them to confront their fears in order to survive the crash landing. (Young Adult)
Poison Bay, by Belinda Pollard (Small Blue Dog Publishing, 2014)
Ten years after their high school graduation—and the public suicide of one of their number—a group of friends reunite for a gruelling hike through the wilds of New Zealand. But at least one of them has an ulterior motive.
It may be that none of them will survive.
Magnificent setting, complex characters, plot twists: this is a book that’s hard to put down. The landscape is fantastic—and deadly.
While Callie and Jack try to figure out what’s really happening and to get their friends to safety, readers also see one of the parents and the local police chief as they try to mount a search and rescue campaign.
“Lightning sheeted overhead every few seconds, its flash freeze-framing the water in yet another brutal contortion.” [Kindle edition, page 36]
“The white-capped peak loomed far overhead on the right, a stream of snow flicking off its top like a flyaway fringe.” [Kindle edition, page 252]
This is Christian fiction with a very subtle faith thread. Jack is the only character with a personal faith, and he’s very honest about the struggle he has with wrong attitudes toward some of the others. [I want to leave that vague to avoid spoilers.]
Poison Bay is book 1 in the Wild Crimes series, to be followed by Venom Reef. For more about author-editor-speaker Belinda Pollard, visit belindapollard.com.
Christine Dillon’s Grace series began with Esther, a young Australian woman who received a cancer diagnosis that devastated her faith, her family, and her future. Through the course of that novel, Grace in Strange Disguise, Esther discovered a deeper faith that sustained her through her cancer journey.
Dr. Paul Webster was her cancer specialist, and despite her repeated challenges to consider faith he kept aloof. I had a secret hope that one day we’d be able to read his story, and now it’s available.
Meet the cancer surgeon who lost his wife and family in the climb to success, who never knew his father, and who allowed a patient named Esther to get under his guard and into his heart despite his strict rules to the contrary.
Watch him start a “sceptics club” to read the Gospel of Luke so he can say he’s honoured Esther’s request. Watch him try to navigate the world of parenting his teens. Enjoy a bit of breathtaking Australian scenery along the way, including the Snowy Mountains and Great Barrier Reef.
Fans of the Grace series know it’s not a spoiler to expect Paul to find his way to faith. That’s what these books are about for the main character. What I appreciated in this one was being able to follow him in his stumbling attempts to learn to pray. They encouraged my own prayers and suggested a few new approaches I may incorporate.
Grace Beneath the Frost is book 5 in the Grace series, but it takes place chronologically between books 2 and 3. From the ending of this book, I take hope that there may be a Grace 6 in the works.
If you’re new to the series you can easily start here with book 5, although it does have spoilers for books 1 and 2. Each novel is available independently, and there is also an ebook box set collection of books 1-3. Discussion guides for each book are available on the author’s website.
A Chance for the Newcomer by Lisa Carter — She’s stirring things up…A big-city chef. A small-town single dad. And matchmakers with marriage in mind… Chef Kara Lockwood didn’t think changing a small-town diner’s menu would cause a boycott, but the locals sure do love their apple pie—especially fire chief Will MacKenzie. Kara’s not sure she and the single father can ever learn to live peacefully as neighbors. But even as they clash over pastries, local matchmakers and Will’s little boy are determined to bring their stubborn hearts together. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
His Secret Daughter by Laurie Larsen — She had the perfect life all on her own …Alyssa Stark works hard to make her life’s dreams come true … all on her own. She built her reputation as New York City’s top advertising executive, client by client. And when her ill-advised marriage didn’t work out, she knew she had to make her dream of becoming a mother happen by untraditional means. Now, she and her eight-year-old daughter Caroline are living the dream life in the Big Apple. He’d lost everything that meant anything until he made a discovery …Grant Fontaine is the widowed president of his father-in-law’s electronics company. Since the tragic death of his pregnant wife a decade ago, he’s become a high achieving businessman, but a social hermit. Several years ago, his lonely life took on new meaning when he discovered that the donation he’d made to a reproductive clinic long ago had sired a child. Through the services of a discreet private eye unafraid to push legal limits, he identifies his “daughter,” Caroline, and her mother, Alyssa. Could it be time to reveal his secret? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Always a Wedding Planner by Davalynn Spencer, R.L. Ashely, LeeAnn Betts, Toni Shiloh — Love Is Only Business for 4 Wedding Planners Discover how keeping secrets from each other threatens four women’s friendships, wedding business, and their own ability to find love in Loveland, Colorado. Business partners Felicity Anderson, the cake baker; Kiki Bell, the seamstress; Cassie Blackthorn, the coordinator; and Chef Saffron Delarosa are best of friends in a town that is a romantic wedding destination for many couples—who work together at Weddings by Design to make every bride’s special day perfect. Could each falling into their own romance be the key to working out their differences and learning to trust each other—and God—with their futures? (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Matched Hearts by Cathe Swanson — She’s looking for a “Plus One” for her parents’ anniversary party. He’s looking for “Happily Ever After.” When a matchmaking agency pairs them up, is it a computer error or a match made in heaven? Eleanor Nielson always wanted to follow in her distinguished parents’ footsteps, becoming a teacher and living a life of selfless community service – until she tried it. Now, she’s run away to find herself and decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life, but she can’t skip her parents’ anniversary party, and she needs a date. Can a matchmaking agency find her a fake boyfriend who will impress her parents? Mechanical engineer David Reid has his life all planned out, and he’s ready for the next phase: a loving wife who will share his faith and work at his side when he becomes a pastor. But a good woman is hard to find, so like any good engineer, David turns the project over to experts: an online matchmaking agency. The pretty, blond teacher with denim blue eyes seems like a match made in heaven. Or is she too good to be true? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Plot Twist by Bethany Turner — February 4, 2003, is just another day for Olivia Ross—a greeting card writer whose passion project is a screenplay of her own. After she and a handsome, struggling actor have a near-magic encounter in a coffee shop, they make a spontaneous pact: in ten years, after they’ve found the success they’re just sure they’re going to achieve, they’ll return to the coffeehouse to partner up and make a film together. The only problem? Olivia neglected to get the stranger’s name. But she doesn’t forget the date. For the next ten years, every February 4, Olivia has an exceptional day, full of coincidences and ironies. As men come and go and return to her life, and as she continues to write her screenplay, she still wonders about the guy from the coffee shop—the nameless actor she’s almost certain was Hamish MacDougal, now a famous member of the Hollywood elite. But a lot can happen in ten years, and while waiting for the curtain to rise on her fate, the true story of Olivia’s life is being written—and if she’s not careful, she’ll completely miss the epic romance playing out right before her eyes. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
More Than Honor by Carol Ashby — Devotion to duty and dogged determination make Tribune Titianus the most feared investigator of the Urban Cohort. Honor drives him to hunt down anyone who breaks Roman law, but it becomes personal when Lenaeus, his old tutor, is murdered in his own classroom. Why kill a respected teacher of the noble sons of Rome, a man who has nothing worth stealing and no known enemies? Had he learned something too dangerous to let him live? Pompeia was only a girl when Titianus studied with Father before her family became Christians. She and her brother Kaeso can’t move their school from the house where their father was killed. But what if the one who killed Father comes to kill again? Kaeso’s friend Septimus insists they spend nights at his father’s well-guarded home. But danger lurks there as well. As Titianus hunts for the murderer, will he discover their secret faith and arrest them as enemies of the Empire? (Historical from Cerrillo Press)
The Dream Weaver’s Bride: Asenath’s Story by Janelle Hovde — As the daughter of the high priest of On, Asenath has a solid vision of her future. Her education with the royal scribe is a luxury not usually afforded to women, and even though she is betrothed to the pharaoh’s half-brother, she has dreams of something more. But everything changes when the pharaoh has troubling nightmares that only a prisoner named Joseph can interpret. Suddenly, Asenath finds herself married to this foreigner, who demands that no god but his own be worshipped in his house. Despite her fears, Asenath is touched by Joseph’s kindness and humility, even as he steps into his newfound power. Can Asenath trust the God of Joseph and forsake her old deities? Can she learn to love this stranger from another land, a stranger with scars from a painful past? As a famine sweeps across Egypt and the surrounding lands, Asenath and Joseph find themselves face-to-face with the men who caused Joseph’s suffering. Can Asenath embrace the power of El Shaddai and help her husband forgive? (Historical from Guideposts Publications)
Faith in the Mountain Valley by Misty M. Beller — After eleven years spent looking for the girl who stole his heart, Jean-Jacques Baptiste-better known as French to his friends-is tempted to give up. Until the day he spotted the flaxen-haired stranger traveling the wooded path with Blackfoot Indians. He never imagined he’d find his childhood friend masquerading as a man in this Rocky Mountain wilderness, hundreds of miles from the Canadian town where he last saw her. No matter her reasons, he can’t let her go this time. From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Captain’s Quest by Lorri Dudley — Pricilla Middleton only attended the Lemoore house party to keep her friend out of trouble. Now, her only chance to keep from becoming a gossip column headline is to sneak aboard her brother’s ship and pretend she’d been visiting him instead of taking part in the debacle. Before she can speak to her brother, the ship sets sail, and the man in charge is not at all who she expects. Captain Tobias Prescott, son of an infamous war hero, has been assigned on a critical mission to deploy warships in St. Kitts for battle in New Orleans. Unfortunately, his orders require him to assume command of a friend’s ship, and he must weigh anchor the instant the former captain is escorted down the gangplank. When they reach open waters, the last thing he expects is to find a woman hiding in the captain’s cabin, yet his mission is too urgent to return her to England. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Along a Storied Trail by Ann H. Gabhart — Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn’t mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in the books she loves. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it—or is the perfect man actually closer than she thinks? Perdita Sweet has called these mountains home for so long that she’s nearly as rocky as the soil around her small cabin. Long ago she thought she could love, but when the object of her affection up and married someone else, she stopped giving too much of herself away to others. As is so often the case, it’s easier to see what’s best for others than to see what’s best for oneself. Perdita knows who Tansy should choose, but why would anyone listen to the romantic advice of an old spinster? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
To Find Her Place by Susan Anne Mason — In the midst of WWII, Jane Linder, a childless divorcée, puts all her energy into her career at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. As acting directress, Jane hopes to be awarded the position permanently so she can continue making a difference in the lives of troubled children. Garrett Wilder has been hired to overhaul operations at the Children’s Aid Society. He hopes to impress the board members with his findings and earn the vacant director’s position. A war injury ended his dream of taking over his parents’ farm, but with the security of the director’s job, he’d be able to contribute financially and help save the family business. As Garrett works closely with Jane, he comes to admire her tenacity and her dedication to the children. Just as feelings begin to blossom between them, her ex-husband returns from overseas with an unexpected proposition that could fulfill Jane’s deepest desires. With the odds stacked against them, can Garrett and Jane navigate the obstacles to their relationship and find lasting love? (Historical Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
A Bride for Keegan by Linda Shenton Matchett — Fiona Quigley’s parents came to America for a better life, but illness and the Civil War took them from her. Now, she’s barely scraping by as a seamstress to Boston’s elite. A chance for a new start arises in the form of being a mail-order bride, but to her dismay she must marry the man by proxy. Once they’re wed, there will be no turning back. After being jailed one too many times for protesting against the Unionists in Ireland, Keegan O’Rourke heads for America—land of the free. He takes advantage of the Homestead Act to create a farm in his new country, but he has no one to share his success, so he advertises for a mail-order bride. They wed by proxy, but after she arrives, he discovers his Irish lass hails from the northern reaches of the Emerald Isle – the very area he fled. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
On Sugar Hill by Ane Mulligan — She traded Sugar Hill for Vaudeville. Now she’s back. The day Cora Fitzgerald turned sixteen, she fled Sugar Hill for the bright lights of Vaudeville, leaving behind her senator-father’s verbal abuse. But just as her career takes off, she’s summoned back home. And everything changes. The stock market crashes. The senator is dead. Her mother is delusional, and her mute Aunt Clara pens novels that have people talking. Then there’s Boone Robertson, who never knew she was alive back in high school, but now manages to be around whenever she needs help. Will the people of her past keep her from a brilliant future? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
No Journey Too Far by Carrie Turansky — In 1909, Grace McAlister set sail for Canada as one of the thousands of British Home Children taken from their families and their homeland. Though she is fortunate enough to be adopted by wealthy parents, the secrets of her past are kept hidden for ten years until someone from her long-buried childhood arrives on her doorstep. With this new connection to her birth family, will she be brave enough to leave her sheltered life in Toronto and uncover the truth? After enduring hardship as an indentured British Home Child, Garth McAlister left Canada to serve in World War I. His sweetheart, Emma Lafferty, promised to wait for his return, but after three long years apart, her letters suddenly stopped. When Garth arrives home from the war to unexpected news, he is determined to return to Canada once more on a daunting mission to find the two women he refuses to abandon—his long-lost sister and his mysteriously missing sweetheart. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah (Random House))
A Life Redeemed by Olivia Rae — Upon Queen Elizabeth’s order, Audrey Hayes travels to the borderlands of Scotland to learn where the fierce Laird Armstrong’s loyalties lie. Is he aligned with his mother’s English roots in support of the queen, or does he hold with the beliefs of his father, who wishes to see Mary of Scots on the English throne? The fate of Audrey’s family rests on her success in finding the answer. After losing his lands in a wager and being betrayed by his kin, Gavin Armstrong entered a loveless marriage to obtain the funds to buy back his family home, Warring Tower. Now a widower, struggling against countless border wars, he is on the verge of losing his home and lands again. With few resources, he reluctantly makes another risky wager, one he cannot hope to win without trusting the secretive Audrey Hayes, a woman he suspects is an English spy. (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)
The Chase by Bradley Caffee — in the Chase. Be the hero. Or die trying. The chaos and anarchy following the Great Collapse nearly brought the world to its knees until the unchanging Law brought order and peace. Generations later, the twelve alliances of the World Coalition come together once a year to allow their best and brightest young people to compete in the Chase. The prize? A chance to pass exactly one new law. The son of two former Chase runners, Willis Thomson is the top trainee in the Western Alliance. With the expectations of the world and his heritage driving him, he leads his elite Red Team as they prepare for his moment to become a coveted law-changer. Perryn Davis, the new leader of the Blue Team, struggles to survive as she competes as one of the designated losers. She knows that losing means genetic recoding, a process that cannot go on indefinitely, and longs to age out of the program before it kills her. When a mysterious new racer with knowledge of the outside shows up at their orbiting training center, the natural order of the Western Alliance trainees is upended. In a world where too much knowledge is dangerous, Willis and Perryn find themselves in a race to save their lives and uncover the hidden underbelly of the peaceful World Coalition. (Speculative/Science Fiction from Mountain Brook Fire)
Cold Case Trail by Sharee Stover — Following the clues could be the last thing they do… Temporarily working in the cold case division was supposed to mean less danger for state trooper Trey Jackson and his injured K-9 partner, Magnum—until they thwart an abduction. Now he must protect profiler Justine Stark, even as she blames him for her friend’s death ten years ago. Can he right past wrongs by finally solving the murder…and making sure Justine lives to find closure? (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Aslan: Running Joy by Kristin Kaldahl — For fourteen-year-old Krissy, her new life maxim is pretty sad: First choices out. Second choices in. It’s been that way since dialysis left her disabled. Her limitations went from none to a ton, and now they stand in the way of her dream―to compete in dog agility with her runty sheltie pup, Aslan. (Young Adult from CrossLink Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month
Love & Adventure by Elise Davis, What do baseball and true love have in common besides a diamond? Is that a trick question? (Contemporary)
Miracle in Milan by MaryAnn Diorio, When a young, female auditor discovers evidence that the man she loves is an embezzler, she must choose between ruining herself or ruining him. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)
Love Found in Cranberry Cover by June Foster, Can Blake and Gracie learn who’s behind the danger that threatens them? Will a small-town girl and big-city boy find a life together? (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)
A Night Divine by Dawn Kinzer, One chilly December night, a tragedy connects Camryn and Trace, and the devastating experience spurs her into volunteering with his team. But as Christmas Eve approaches and the two grow closer, secrets have the potential to break someone’s heart. (Contemporary Romance)
The Jam and Jelly Nook by Amy Clipston — In the final installment of Amy Clipston’s bestselling Amish Marketplace series, a young widow struggling to raise her son dreams of one more chance at love. Over time Emory and Leanna become closer friends, discovering how much they have in common. As single parents, they struggle with the limits of what they can provide for their children and feel somewhat responsible for what happened to their respective spouses. The two eventually realize they have feelings for each other-but when they try to date, their children resist. Will God pave a way for them to build a family together, or will hurdles block the path to a second chance at happiness? (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan)
Stealing the First Mate by Tabitha Bouldin — Sometimes, happily ever after is as elusive as a pirate’s treasure. Darcy Riggins dove headfirst into the online dating pool and sank. Every time. Her lifelong dream of becoming a wife and mother becomes more elusive every year. So, taking the lack of a Mr. Right in her life as a decided “No!” from God, Darcy gives up altogether. Being single and content turns out to be tougher than Darcy imagined, and when she begins doubting everything she’s ever known, Nigel decides it’s time to admit his mistakes, tell the truth, and trust God for the outcome. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)
Royally Confused by Jill Boyce — Will this doctor trade in her stethoscope for a tiara? Claire must decide by the night of the Royal Gala if she will accept her place on the throne as the Queen of Amorley–even if she might have to give up medicine or love to do so. Will she return to Boston and pursue her passion for surgery and turn her back on her newfound family, country, and the love of a lifetime? Will Claire trade in her stethoscope for a tiara? Does light overcome darkness? Can Claire learn that her worth does not reside in what she does, but who she is–the daughter of her heavenly Father and part of a royal priesthood. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)
Once Upon a Summer by Toni Shiloh — Embrace the enchantment of summer with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Let these five sweet contemporary Christian romances take you away this summer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Shelter in the Storm by Laurel M. Blount — In this moving Amish romance, two broken hearts find hope in each other after a terrible loss. Unspeakable tragedy strikes the Amish hamlet of Johns Mill when an unstable Englischer opens fire in the Hochstedler’s General Store. In the aftermath, and under the media’s spotlight, Joseph Hochstedler struggles to hold his shattered family together, drawing unexpected comfort from a faithful childhood friend. Born with a serious heart defect, optimist Naomi Schrock has always longed to live a life of service. She rolls up her sleeves, determined to help Joseph cope with this terrible crisis. But dare she hope that his friendship will finally deepen into love? (General Contemporary from Berkley Penguin Random House)
Impact by Audra Sanlyn — She sat in the midst of fear and desperation, facing the biggest decision of her life. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Finding Home (Within the Castle Gates #4) by Candee Fick — Two hearts longing for home. A memorable first encounter brought them together, but then Susannah Stanley and Nicholas Pennington were torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. From the Lake District in Northern England to a Moroccan port along the African coast and the Napoleonic Wars in between, they struggle to hold onto hope they will be reunited. After being supplanted by her stepmother’s schemes and the betrayal of a friend, they finally meet again in the most unlikely of places. Now the battle is on to reclaim their rightful inheritance. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Gold Rush Bride Hannah by Linda Shenton Matchett — Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels…relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone…dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life? Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Three Days Clueless by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas Grey is determined to find the person who shot a politician in broad daylight. There’s just one problem. The killer left no clues behind. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Mylas gets involved in an intriguing case of MURDER . . .When Mylas arrives in his hometown to spend time with Whitney, he agrees to help his father, a local private detective, examine the files of a politician who was murdered in cold blood. Mylas gets involved in an intriguing case of murder with NO CLUES . . .The wife of the slain politician believes her husband’s murder is connected to his duties as a state legislator, but the police find no clues to his murder and no evidence to support her claim. (Mystery/Crime, Independently Published)
Rising Danger by Jerusha Agen — t’s up to a K-9 handler and her canine partner to stop a bomber before it’s too late. Someone’s planting explosives on dams in the Twin Cities, and Bristol Bachmann and her bomb sniffing dog must move quickly to find them before everything ends up underwater. That means relying on the dams’ supervisor—an ex-boyfriend Bristol never thought she’d see again. Hopefully Remington Jones has grown up from the rakish charmer she knew in her academy days. Because lives now depend entirely on them… (Romantic Suspense/Thriller from Love Inspired (Harlequin)
Dark Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Reporter Trinity Lockhart pursues a story but then unwittingly becomes the story. Acting on a tip from an anonymous source, Trinity investigates an art trafficking ring at a high-end Seattle gallery. She turns to handsome FBI agent Kyle Richards for help after being spotted by the crooks. Kyle is drawn to the feisty reporter, but he can’t afford a beautiful distraction when lives are at stake. He must trust his friends at Protection Inc. to watch over Trinity while he investigates the gallery. (Romantic Suspense/Thriller, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Poppy’s Path to Love – Great Smoky Mountain Getaways by Elsie Davis, Escape to the Great Smoky Mountains with Poppy as she tries to hit the reset button on her life, only to discover there’s been a mistake and she has a limited window of time to prove herself and figure out where she belongs. (Contemporary/Women’s Fiction)
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.]