Tag Archives: Love Inspired Suspense

Review: Shades of Truth, by Sandra Orchard

Shades of TruthShades of Truth, by Sandra Orchard (Love Inspired, 2012)

Kim Corbett works with her brother Darryl at Hope Manor, the youth detention centre founded by their dying father. This is a Christian facility, and it’s recently lost the government funding required to keep in operation. Kim’s so desperate to get the funding back, she won’t say anything that could bring bad press—even if it means keeping quiet when a former resident nearly runs her down.

Ethan Reed was recruited from Toronto’s city police to go undercover at the centre as a new employee. One of the workers is setting the youth up as drug dealers when they get out. And at least one of the small town’s own officers is likely involved.

This is a rough assignment for Ethan, because he’s a former young offender himself. His past lets him bond with the kids, but it brings back a lot of pain he thought he’d already dealt with. Falling for Kim doesn’t make things any easier when he’s convinced himself he doesn’t deserve love and happiness.

Shades of Truth is the second novel in Sandra Orchard’s Undercover Cops series, set in the same town of Miller’s Bay, and readers of the first book will recognize Kim’s friend Ginny, the previous heroine.

It’s a fast-paced read, with believable characters. I like how we get to see the young offenders as real people and not just trouble-waiting-for-a-way-to-happen, and how we see Kim and Ethan each struggling with their own areas of growth.

Shades of Truth will be on-shelf in stores for early March 2012, so now’s the time to get your copy the easy way. If you miss it there, it’ll still be available online in print and ebook formats.

Canadian author Sandra Orchard’s next Love Inspired novel will be Critical Condition, releasing October 2012. You can visit her website, and be sure to check out the fun “extras” for readers of Deep Cover. Sandra blogs at Conversations About Characters, and there’s an interesting interview with Sandra at Fiction Finder and another at Canadian Christians Who Write.

[Review copy provided by the author.]

Review: The Last Target, by Christy Barritt

The Last Target, by Christy Barritt (Love Inspired Suspense, 2011)

After her SEAL husband’s death in Afghanistan, Rachel Reynolds began a non-profit ministry writing letters to soldiers overseas. Hardly the sort of activity to put her on a terrorists’ execution list.

But she’s the last living target, and protecting her and her four-year-old Aiden may be security expert Jack Sergeant’s hardest assignment yet. Somehow the terrorists always know where to find them.

The Last Target is a fast-paced romantic suspense with believable characters. The first shot is shot fired on page one, and the danger only increases from there. Christy Barritt has a knack for writing chapter endings that propel the reader onto the next page without time to blink.

Award-winning author Christy Barritt has three new novels releasing this year: Suburban Sleuth Mysteries #1 Death of the Couch Potato’s Wife (May 2012), and two romantic suspenses: Race Against Time (April 2012) and Ricochet (September 2012).

[Book from my personal library. Amazon link is an affiliate link from the author’s website, with no benefit to me.]

Friday Friends: Author Sandra Orchard

Sandra Orchard is a Canadian author whose debut novel, Deep Cover, releases in early September from Love Inspired Suspense.

Janet: Welcome, Sandra, and thanks for taking time to join us. Was it only last year you were a finalist in American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest for unpublished novels?

Sandra: That was actually in 2008. It led to a number of requests by editors, but no sale. 

Janet: It’s a pretty prestigious contest. Well done! And congratulations on your first novel! Tell us a bit about Deep Cover.

Sandra: Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick–he never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he’s back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny’s uncle. The man’s crimes led to Rick’s partner’s death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is in the middle of it. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment…and risking both their lives?

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Sandra: I wanted to explore the complexities of trying to make a relationship work while living a dual life, compounded by the dangers the undercover life poses to real relationships, as well as to explore the question: Is it possible to be a man of honour and live a life of lies? The Bible says, do not lie. Undercover cops play a vital role in bringing criminals to justice yet they’re faced with the need to lie day in and day out. How does a believer reconcile the two? The original title for the story was Shades of Gray, because Ginny is a black and white kind of person, while Rick lives in shades of gray. But if he’s going to win the girl, he has to realize that there’s no room for shades of gray in his heart.

Janet: The cover’s very attractive—looks like an ocean shoreline. What’s the setting?

Sandra: The series takes place in a fictional town called Miller’s Bay on the shores of Lake Erie in the heart of the Niagara Region of Ontario Canada. The view of the lake is used a number of times in the story to deepen the emotions of the characters. I love the mix of ominous looking clouds and rough waters, with rays of light reaching down. And if you look closely, you’ll see a dove. The dove is a recurring symbol in the book of God watching over them.

Janet: I see the dove now, and I’ll be watching for it when I read Deep Cover. The next title in your Undercover Cops series is Shades of Truth, due out in March 2012. Are you already hard at work on that?

Sandra: I handed in revisions on that manuscript June 1st and am now hard at work on revisions to the third book in the series. That one’s tentatively called Dose of Deception, and it will release later in 2012.

Janet: Good, more books to come…. The Novels page on your website gives sneak peeks at your upcoming Undercover Cops novels, but it also lists two unpublished manuscripts: Escape to Terror won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier (unpublished) award, and Murder by Marigolds which is looking for a publisher. They’re all intriguing, and I hope we’ll get the chance to read them some day.

I’m impressed by the endorsements you’ve received from respected writers in the Christian fiction field. What’s the path to publication been like for you?

Sandra: Writing is an emotional rollercoaster ride, from the thrills of editor requests and contest wins to the disappointment of rejections and criticisms from readers. But God always gave me just enough encouragement to persevere. I have met so many wonderful people, made dear friends, learned tons about writing, people, and life. While in the throes of wondering if I’d ever sell a manuscript, I longed for validation for the tremendous time and effort I was pouring into my novels. But I am so glad that God made me wait for that first coveted contract. I still have much to learn, but I am far better equipped to meet the challenges of writing to a deadline now than I would’ve been if I’d sold my first manuscript.

Janet: That encourages me as I continue waiting for a publisher. God’s timing is everything, and there’s definitely lots to learn. Back to Deep Cover, what do you want readers to take away when they’ve finished the book?

Sandra: Everyone is in a different place physically, emotionally and spiritually and what each of us get from any book we read will be as different as we each are. What drew me to inspirational fiction was the hope I felt in seeing characters grapple with a lot of the same kind of issues I was facing in my life and experience victory. Some stories cause me to rethink how I look at things, or give me hope that circumstances will improve, and some prompt me to make changes in my life, while some are simply a few hours of pleasant escape. I would be thrilled to know that in some small way my readers are touched by the experiences of Rick and Ginny.

Janet: Are you a writer who likes to immerse herself in details of the setting while incubating the story idea?

Sandra: Setting is one of the most difficult things for me to write so I probably don’t do this enough. But I did go sit by the lake to watch and listen and inhale the scents, while brainstorming metaphors that related the setting to the characters emotions. Restaurants are another great place where I find myself absorbing story ideas. People do a lot of quirky things in restaurants. <grin>

Janet: In your research, what’s the weirdest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?

Sandra: I’m not sure it qualifies as weird, but while doing research for my murder mysteries I discovered a lot of cool ways to kill people that are difficult to trace. Hee, hee, hee.

Janet: I’ll try to stay on your good side! Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Sandra: Hebrews 10:35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Janet: Definitely a good verse for perseverance! What do you like best about the writing life?

Sandra: I don’t have to drive to work.

Janet: What do you like least?

Sandra: The criticisms.

Janet: What do your family think of your writing?

Sandra: They are incredibly supportive. My youngest daughter (18) is a writer, too, already published in magazine articles and short stories. She’s a wonderful critiquer. My eldest daughter helps me with my website. And my son and hubby don’t complain about the dust bunnies or late dinners when I get caught up writing a scene. In fact, when my hubby is home during the day, he’ll always make me lunch, and when I’m really caught up in writing, he’ll offer to order a pizza for supper. <grin>

Janet: Writers are told to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?

Sandra: I got a Kindle last year for Christmas and I love to read books on it. At 44 my eyes aren’t reading the small print in books as well as they used to. Every week I download the latest “free” offerings that appeal to me so I’ve found myself reading a much wider variety of novels than I used to. I do love the fast pace of Love Inspired Suspense, and am thoroughly enjoying the historical line. Generally, I like to read novels that have a little more going on than just a straight romance.

Janet: What are you listening to?

Sandra: I can’t write with music playing in the background so I don’t listen to much. The one exception is a Robert Alexander CD I picked up called Happiness. It has easy-to-listen-to piano solos that I don’t associate with any lyrics so they don’t distract me. I find them very soothing.

Janet: What do you like to do to get away from it all?

Sandra: I love to go to the lake. There’s something about the smell of the air and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore that soothes the soul.

Janet: What’s the most surprising/ zany thing you’ve ever done?

Sandra: At university, my roommate and I snuck into the room of one of the men in the same dorm as my now-husband and magic-markered tops on a poster he had on the wall of women riding bikes topless. He was so not impressed!

Janet: Not “deep cover” but cover of a sort! Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Sandra. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.


I caught up with Sandra for a chat at Write! Canada this June. Thank you to Ray Wiseman for taking our photo. Stop by Sandra Orchard’s website to learn more about the author. You can also find Sandra at her blog, Conversations About Characters, or on Facebook.

Review: Storm Warning, by Linda Hall

Storm Warning, by Linda Hall (Steeple Hill, 2010)

Nori Edwards doesn’t feel at home anywhere since her husband’s tragic death. In search of a fresh start, she buys a tourist property on scenic Whisper Lake, Maine. She plans to fix up Trail’s End before her teen daughters return from their volunteer stints at summer camp. She and the girls will live in the main building, an old hunting lodge, and rent out the cabins.

Finding workers is only her first problem. Except for the attractive Steve, the local workforce wants nothing to do with Trail’s End. Rumour is, the place is haunted—by the ghost of its original owner, and perhaps by a crazy killer lurking in the woods.

Strange events multiply until Nori begins to think there really is a ghost. Or is it someone very much alive?

Steve Baylor hopes helping with Nori’s renovations will let him find traces of the two teens who vanished there two summers ago. The fact that the new owner is attractive is a nice plus, but Steve has secrets of his own and needs to keep his distance.

As always, Linda Hall’s characters are realistic and their struggles resonate with our own. Both Nori and Steve carry hurts that still need healing and that make it hard to trust and love again. Steve is learning to depend on God, and Nori needs to re-learn the same thing.

Nori is a muralist, another of the interesting careers Linda investigates for her heroines. We don’t learn a lot about it in this book, but it adds to the story’s appeal.

Award-winning Canadian author Linda Hall can be counted on to deliver a good read with strong characters. Storm Warning is her 16th novel, and I think I’ve only missed reading one. Her next novel in the Whisper Lake series, On Thin Ice, releases in April 2010. You can find Linda online at her website and at the Craftie Ladies of Suspense blog.

Review copy purchased by reviewer (from Chapters.ca).

Award-Winning Romantic Suspense


Congratulations to Canadian author Linda Hall whose romantic suspense novel, Shadows at the Window, won Romantic Times Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for 2008!

Cara Putman: author of historical romance and romantic suspense

Cara Putman is the author of three historical romances: Canteen Dreams, Sandhill Dreams and Captive Dreams (Barbour’s Heartsong Presents) and a romantic suspense, Deadly Exposure (Love Inspired Suspense).

She’s also an attorney, wife, mom, women’s ministry leader, and publicity officer for American Christian Fiction Writers and adviser to the Indiana chapter.

JS: Welcome, Cara, and thanks for taking time to join us. Along with all the other things you do, you’ve just had four books release in under a year. Wow! Do you have any advice for us on how to juggle priorities? Or do we simply have to give up sleep?

CP: Giving up sleep is part of it. LOL  But if writing is a dream and a passion, then you find ways to squeeze it in. And having deadlines makes it critical. I’m not writing just because I want to. I now have houses depending on me hitting deadlines. But I’ve cut 99% of TV watching, I’m very careful about commitments, and focusing on what I have to do. The rest slides to the side – at least for now.

JS: You started with historical fiction. Tell us a bit about your three Dreams books from Heartsong.

CP: Each of these historical romances tells a homefront story from World War Two. You could call these the stories of my heart, since I get to tell the world about the wonderful people of my home state, Nebraska. Canteen Dreams is a novelized telling of my grandparents’ story along with the North Platte Canteen. The canteen served more than 6 million servicemen and women during the war. An amazing story of sacrifice and service. Then Sandhill Dreams pulls out the story of war dogs trained at a Fort way up in northwestern Nebraska. That one was fun to research! And Captive Dreams uses the prisoner of war camps scattered across Nebraska as the historical backdrop. Those elements make the stories unique, then the romance and characters blossom from there.

JS: It sounds like setting is important to you. Are you a writer who likes to immerse herself in details of the setting while incubating the story idea?

CP: Absolutely. The series I’m starting right now is set in Ohio. I’ve driven through, but never been. So I took a research trip there and am changing the setting for the first book because I couldn’t get up to the town and was having a terrible time getting resources and people to call me. Rather than get it wrong, I’m moving it. The history is too important to get it wrong.

JS: What differences did you find in writing romantic suspense?

CP: For me, the biggest challenge was making sure there was enough romance. I loved the suspense thread. And because of the tight timing I had to really work to get the romance thread to work in a way that was believable to me. The research is in different areas, but still very important. And it’s all about getting the heroine in lots of trouble. Gotta love that.

JS: Did you have all three Dreams stories written before writing Deadly Exposure?

CP: Actually Deadly Exposure was the first book I started. I wrote Canteen Dreams in the middle because an editor wanted to see that book. I wrote Sandhill Dreams while I edited Deadly Exposure. Talk about challenging. Music became an important cue to remind my brain which story I was writing.

JS: Which songs did you choose to identify each story?

CP: “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” for the 1940s – though I have a CD of War era music that I’d listen to. And then for Deadly Exposure it would be contemporary praise and worship or Carrie Underwood 🙂

JS: Are you going to keep writing in both genres?

CP: I’m currently working on a three-book Ohio World War Two series. It will be a lot of fun! And a sequel to Deadly Exposure. I’m in one of those crazy places they always tell you not to go. I write historical romance and romantic suspense. I plan to move to legal thrillers, but right now, I’m straddling genres. I can’t wait to get back to Deadly Judgment, the sequel to Deadly Exposure. All kinds of chaos – and I love the ticking time bomb that suspense has. But I love writing books set in the early 40s, too. One day I’ll have to decide, but right now I get to write in two genres that I love.

JS: Working on so many different projects, do you ever find yourself thinking of one character only to remember that he or she is in a different book?

CP: Not often J But I use music and other cues to help me switch gears. And I keep photos of key characters in a file so I can pull them out when I get a tad lost.

JS: What do you like best about the writing life?

CP: I love creating a world and characters that are familiar, but bigger than my life at the same time. And I love the letters that let me know a truth that was sprinkled into the story resonated with a writer at the right time.

JS: What do you like least?

CP: The solitary nature. That’s why I’m so active in groups like American Christian Fiction Writers. I’m not an introvert, so I need to find time to be with others and sharing what I’m learning.

JS: What do your husband and kids think of your writing?

CP: They are literally my biggest cheerleaders. Abigail is quick to tell others about my books and booksignings. And Eric is always talking me up. I couldn’t do this if they weren’t excited and behind me.

JS: Writers are told to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?

CP: I read all the time! Love books. A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman was a great romance. And Sandra Byrd’s new book Bon Appetit was a delightful surprise. I LOVED Randy Singer’s latest By Reason of Insanity – move over, John Grisham, there is competition in town.

JS: Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Cara. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others-in every area of your life.

CP: Thank you so much for having me. I so appreciate it, Joanna!

You can visit Cara’s website, or catch her at her blog, The Law, Books and Life. Cara is also the Thursday blogger at Craftie Ladies of Suspense.


“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. Isaiah 43

In Sandhill Dreams, Lainie Gardner finds herself on a train to Crawford, NE, and Fort Robinson. It’s the last place she wants to be, but if she wants to be part of the war effort she has no other options. Tom Hamilton enlisted to work with the thousands of horses at Fort Robinson, and finds himself assigned to the War Dog Training Camp.

From the moment Lainie and Tom meet, sparks hot enough to light the prairie on fire fly between the two. Tom is assigned to train the dogs that have been sent to the army by a patriotic public. The only problem is he’s afraid of dogs after being bit by one as a child. Lainie travels to Fort Robinson to find a civilian job at the post after her plan to ship overseas with the Army Nurses Corp. is ended by illness. Join them in their adventure during the summer of 1943.

Sandhill Dreams released in May08 from Barbour’s Heartsong Presents. Right now it’s available from the publisher, and it should be in the online stores sometime this fall.

Cara graciously gave me a copy of Sandhill Dreams. I enjoyed it, and learned something too: I hadn’t known dogs were used in WWII–nor that patriotic Americans were encouraged to donate their family pets!