Tuesday, November 4, 2014

STRANDED WITH A RANCHER. OKAY, TWIST MY ARM.

Title: Tina Radcliffe
Author: Stranded with the Rancher
Publisher: Love Inspired (August 19, 2014)
Pages: 224

My first read by TINA RADCLIFFE was The Rancher's Reunion. The beginning remains one of my all time favorites. Of course, that put me on the path to seeking other books by the author. Stories involving a cowboy are without a doubt my favorites. When I spotted STRANDED WITH THE RANCHER by MS RADCLIFFE, I knew I’d be purchasing and reading it.

Beth Rogers has a plan. A carefully thought-out plan. One she had no intentions of altering. However, it seems God has a different plan altogether.

Dan Gallagher finds himself helping a friends, relative. A rather pretty relative if he was so inclined to admit. What he thought would be a ride to the airport, turns into something so much more.

If you are searching for a book with high peaks, and lots of action, STRANDED WITH THE RANCHER is not the book for you. However, if you are looking for an amazing, unique, heartwarming story, mixed with some old fashion chivalry, STRANDED WITH THE RANCHER is the book for you.

I didn’t rush through this book. Oh no, I took my time. Time to absorb each and every word. STRANDED WITH THE RANCHER is not your typical, predictable Love Inspired romance. MS RADCLIFFE is a magnificent writer. I was blown away with her great lines. She had me smiling and in awe, so many times throughout the entire story. Both the main and secondary characters were memorable. I thought I knew how the ending would unfold, but I was wrong. MS RADCLIFFE took the expected and flipped it to the unexpected. I loved every ounce of it.


I can only hope that there is another in the works about a certain someone’s brother. Please, oh please, tell me my thoughts are correct.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

ACFW 2014 NOVEMBER RELEASES

November 2014 New Releases
 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder websit

Amish Romance:

Snow Globe (Amish of Jamesport) by Laura V. Hilton -- Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents' farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they've hired Esther Beachy to be a "mother's helper." Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor's grandmother's stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi's in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther's gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther's gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again? (Amish Romance from Whitaker House)

Biblical Fiction:

A Soft Breath of Wind by Roseanna M. White -- A gift that has branded her for life. Zipporah is thirteen when the Spirit descends upon her, opening her eyes to a world beyond the physical goings-on of the villa outside Rome she has always called home. Within hours, she learns what serving the Lord can cost. Forever scarred after a vicious attack, she knows her call is to use this discernment to protect the Way. She knows she must serve the rest of her life at Tutelos, where the growing Roman church has congregated. She knows her lot is set. Yet is it so wrong to wish that her master, the kind and handsome young Benjamin Visibullis, will eventually see her as something more than a sister in Christ? Samuel Asinius, adoptive son of a wealthy Roman, has always called Benjamin brother. When their travels take them to Jerusalem for Passover, the last thing he expects is to cross paths with the woman who sold him into slavery as a child, the mother he long ago purged from his heart. His sister, Dara, quickly catches Benjamin s eye, but Samuel suspects there is something dark at work. When Dara, a fortune-teller seeking the will of a shadowy master determined to undermine the Way, comes into the path of Zipporah, a whirlwind descends upon them all. Only the soft wind of the Spirit can heal their scars...with a love neither divination nor discernment could foresee. (Biblical Fiction from Whitefire Publishing)

A Little Lower Than the Angels by Caryl McAdoo -- Seduced by evil, Cain kills Abel then flees with his sister to the land of Nod. Bereaved of all their children in one day, Adam and Eve are heartbroken, but not until they both see a vision of Abel in Paradise with their childhood pets Lion and Lamb does Eve find the strength to wait upon the Lord for His blessing. Though dead, Abel's soul lives on in Paradise, resting, learning from the old Cherub who God sent to teach the murdered son of Adam. He listens to the war songs the legions of angels sing that battle for his brother and sister and even his mother's soul. But best of all, the angel elder tells him stories of Heaven and how one day, man and God will be reconciled. Again the first couple is tested, and must wait upon the Lord's blessing to begin again. Can they walk in obedience for seventy long years? And Cain's offering is finally accepted, but by whom? (Biblical Fiction from Independent Author)

Contemporary Romance:

Winter Brides: A Year of Weddings Novella Collection by Betsy St. Amant, Denise Hunter and Deborah Raney -- The honor of your presence is requested at three winter weddings . . . "A February Bride" by Betsy St. Amant: History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day-wearing a dress that has ushered generations of the family's brides into failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus, but fears repeating her family's mistakes. Months later, Allie and Marcus are thrown together for another wedding and discover their own story might be far from over. "A December Bride" by Denise Hunter: When Layla O'Reilly and Seth Murphy make their engagement public, it's only to impress her high-society client. But for Seth, who has secretly loved Layla for years, this is his chance to finally win her heart. "A January Bride" by Deborah Raney: Novelist Madeleine Houser arranges a peaceful writing getaway in a local bed and breakfast, but ends up falling in love via daily notes with the inn's owner--a man she's never met. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Her Tycoon Hero (Heartsong Presents) by Narelle Atkins -- Set on proving to everyone that she's no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad's top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie's wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she's worked hard to escape. Ryan is taken with his boss's beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie's newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith and Cassie as his own. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sweetened with Honey by Valerie Comer -- Gabriel Rubachuk returns to Galena Landing, Idaho, once the setting of a charmed life before an accident killed his pregnant wife. Will he embrace hope for a new life or escape once again? Beekeeper Sierra Riehl has spent three years helping to keep Gabe's health food store afloat while he worked with orphans in Romania. Now he's back, but it looks like he might bolt. Can she hold him still long enough to spark a romance? But Sierra's hope falters when she begins to suspect she can't give Gabe the life he deserves. Is new love sweet enough to overcome the pain of the past and the uncertainty of the future? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Hope for the Holidays-Contemporary Collection by Mary Connealy, Audra Harders, Ruth Logan Herne, Sandra Leesmith and Tina Radcliffe -- Six heart-warming romances remind us of the true spirit of Christmas: faith, hope--and love... Hope for Christmas by Mary Connealy: Kelsey is alone, lost, pregnant, stuck in a blizzard and surrounded by wolves. Tanner Harden finds her but with trouble coming and a baby at risk, can they stay alive long enough to fall in love? Her Christmas Cowboy by Audra Harders: Single mother Shayna Leon has disappointed her community once and hopes a successful Christmas pageant will restore their faith in her. Then disaster strikes - her accompanist is unable to play. The prospect of disappointment looms again until a reclusive cowboy steps up to save her day. Longing for a Miracle by Ruth Logan Herne: Christmas dimmed when an automobile accident claimed Tasha Sorkos's little girl... could saving Rafe Karralis's sick daughter bring the light of faith, hope and love back into her eyes? A Heart Full of Hope by Sandra Leesmith: Elena Delgado loves her father's new business partner, Stephen Edwards. As they work together to find funding for the project that will bring jobs and hope to their small community in time for Christmas, will Stephen notice her? Or is he still in love with the fiancée who left him? I'll be Home for Christmas by Tina Radcliffe: Dr. Matthew Christopher doesn't believe in happily ever after. Can wedding planner Patience McCord melt the heart of the last bachelor in time for Christmas? One Perfect Gift by Missy Tippens: In this sweet Cinderella story with a country music twist, a homeless single mother with a secret may get more than she expected for Christmas, including hope, love and home, sweet home. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love Without End (A King's Meadow Romance) by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Chet Leonard's life was forever changed when his seventeen year old son died and then, soon after, his wife walked out on their family. Over two years later, all he wants to do is hold onto his horse ranch and raise his remaining sons to be honorable men. Kimberly Welch, widowed mother of Tara, a rebellious fifteen-year-old, has reached the end of her finances and nearly the end of her rope. She and Tara come to King's Meadow to try to piece their lives back together again. Kimberly has no intention of opening her heart again. Then 84-year-old Anna McKenna returns to King's Meadow and to the Leonard ranch and brings healing to the two hurting families. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Swept Away: Quilts of Love Series by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven -- Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don't always go as planned. Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but his heart is as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane's grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between Drew and his new employer's granddaughter. Still, it doesn't take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn't what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts researching him online. What she discovers could change her life-and her heart-forever. (Contemporary Romance from Abingdon Press)

Yuletide Baby by Deb Kastner -- When Pastor Shawn O'Riley finds an abandoned baby at his church, his whole life goes into a tailspin that only foster mother Heather Lewis can calm. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Cajun Christmas Miracle: A Belle Camellia Novel by Marian P. Merritt -- Thirteen years ago, Mandy St. Pierre and Bridger Mathews were in high school and hopelessly in love. When his parents moved to Colorado in his senior year, Mandy was left behind with a broken heart and a secret. Then Mandy married and became mother to a child with special needs, only to have her husband abandon her. Bridger married, but lost his wife to cancer three years later. When mandy moves back to Belle Camellia, the River Road, Louisiana plantation home of her youth her Autistic son, she finds Bridger is working next door with a rescue horse his best friend has saved. Mandy's son bonds with Bridger and his horse, but Mandy wrangles with letting Bridger back into her life, letting him into her son's life, her unnatural fear of horses, and her wavering faith in God. Can both Mandy and Bridger open their hearts to trust one another in order to give Daniel an experience that may unlock his world and allow him to interact like never before? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy -- Whoever said opposites attract was right, of course...but no one ever said what they attract. Jilted by her father's latest choice of a son-in-law, Cisney Baldwin rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a sympathetic colleague and his family. Nick LeCrone is a man too much her opposite to interest her and too mild-mannered to make her overbearing father's "list," but is he trying to take advantage of her vulnerable emotions over the holiday? Nick only invited Cisney out of pity, now he's stuck with her and her sticky notes and her quirks. To make matters worse, his family thinks she's his perfect match. He'll do what he can to keep his distance, but there's just one problem-he's starting to believe Cisney's magnetism is stronger than he can resist. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican]) Historical Romance:

Hope for the Holidays-Historical Collection by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne , Myra Johnson and Julie Lessman -- Four old-fashioned Christmases featuring inspirational romance at its best. "Sophie's Other Daughter" by Mary Connealy: Laura McClellen is just answering a call for her big sister, Doctor Beth, at the Reeve's home when Ike Reeves, shows up exhausted, and filthy, for a surprise Christmas visit. Ike claims the right to escort Laura home and outlaws after Ike turn a simple ride into a fight for their lives. "A Town Called Christmas" by Ruth Logan Herne: When gruff English pioneer Edward Stillwell offers a former prostitute a job, he gets more than he bargained for: a wagon train more! With winter rollng in, can Sylvie's faith, hope and optimism be just what the guilt-laden Idaho rancher needs to love Christmas-and people-- again? "Designs on Love" by Myra Johnson: Ranch foreman Jacob Collins has had designs on Vera Mae Beasley since their schooldays. When the pretty seamstress returns home to settle her late family's affairs, Jacob hopes his Christmas surprise will win her heart and convince her to stay. "A Whisper of Hope" by Julie Lessman: With a husband dead-set against adoption, Charity O'Connor Dennehy has barely a whisper of hope for more children, but if hope doesn't disappoint ... could it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Rocky Mountain Dreams (Love Inspired Historical) by Danica Favorite -- The last thing Joseph Stone expects to discover upon arriving in Leadville, Colorado, is a newfound little sister. Hoping to find his late father's silver mine and hopefully keep his siblings back home out of an orphanage, Joseph needs an ally. The preacher's lovely daughter agrees to care for the little girl. She's just not as willing to trust the prospector.... Annabelle Lassiter has seen what men do in pursuit of riches. Yet for all the hardship he's known, Joseph still shows tenderness and warmth. Annabelle's plan has long been to leave Leadville far behind. But Joseph's quest for silver could cost them a more precious dream-one of family, love and new beginnings. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Love Never Fails (The Homeward Journey) by Martha Rogers -- At odds over their beliefs and separated by the war, Molly and Stefan must learn to depend of God. In book three of the Homeward Journey series, Daniel and Sally Delaney's daughter Molly finishes school and returns to her home to teach. When old friends of her parents come for a visit with their son, Stefan, Molly is attracted to the young man, but all he is interested in is talking about his position in the army. When he leaves to rejoin his regiment, Molly is both relieved and saddened. Can they overcome their differences and find love? (Historical Romance from Realms [Charisma Media])

 Romantic Suspense:

Hawk by Ronie Kendig -- Staff Sergeant Brian "Hawk" Bledsoe is a man of his word. But when he gives a promise to the green-eyed Afghan woman named Fekiria, the short-fused soldier never knew how much it could cost him. Fekiria Haidary is keeping secrets and telling lies. Going against her strict traditional upbringing and estranged from her family, she is a pilot with the Afghan Air Force. On a mission to track down the terrorist who has plagued Raptor and the U.S. military with corrupted intel and planted information, Brian and his brothers-in-arms are nearly killed when their location is bombed. Hunting the attacker, Brian stumbles upon Fekiria and her friend, who are protecting several young girls from the Taliban. Fleeing for their lives, Brian is embroiled in a daring escape into the mountainous Tera Pass. As frigid temperatures, crippling injuries, and friction between Brian and Fekiria strain their survival prospects, Brian uncovers a lethal threat against Raptor and is faced with an impossible decision: save Raptor or save Fekiria and the girls. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Identity Withheld by Sandra Orchard -- After exposing an illegal adoption ring, newly named "Kara Grant" is promised safety in Witness Protection. But someone has found her-and wants her dead. If only she could trust the handsome firefighter who catches her fleeing from a suspicious fire. Jake Steele seems to think she's guilty of burning her own home. But how can she tell him who she really is and what she's been through without bringing danger to the widowed single father's door? Yet with the criminals quickly closing in, taking such a risk might be her only chance at survival. Because the price she'll pay for her silence could be her life. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Secrets and Lies (Redemption's Edge #2) by Janet Sketchley -- 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. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Silent Night Standoff by Susan Sleeman -- When armed robbers strike her bank, hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan's life is on the line. Rescue comes from the last person she thought she could count on-the ex-boyfriend who chose his job over their relationship. FBI agent Logan Hunter knows how much is resting on this case. The promotion of his dreams...and the safety of the woman he's never been able to forget. But when an unexpected twist in the case pulls Logan in two separate directions, he'll have to make an impossible choice. Will he manage to have it all by Christmas-a career and love-or will he lose them both? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Speculative 

Fiction:


Vanquished by Katie Clark -- When Hana's mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life. Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help-except Hana's not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years. Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows? Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society? (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)

Deliverance by Katie Clark -- Hana is Greater. It's a future she never envisioned for herself, but she's not about to ignore the opportunity she's been given--the opportunity to find answers about her Mom, Jamie, and Fischer. This could be an opportunity to tell others the truth about God and uncover the secrets the Great Supreme has been keeping from their small, struggling nation. When Hana's search brings her to the mysterious prison she's only heard of in rumors, the desire to get inside drives her to dig deeper for answers, but what she uncovers may be bigger than them all. Can she save herself and the others before the Great Supreme realizes what she's doing, or will she give up everyone she loves in her quest for the truth? (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)

Redeemer by Katie Clark -- In this final chapter of the Enslaved series, Hana is faced not only with a new life, but an entirely new way of thinking. Unexpected friends give insight into who the Greaters truly are. Deciding what to do with this information sends Hana on what may be her very last journey. Ever. (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)

Techno-Thriller:

Triple Threat by H L Wegley -- Two brilliant PhD candidates' discovery of a cyber-terror plot sends them on a dangerous mission, an adventure that spans the Pacific Northwest from the shores of the Olympic Peninsula to the mountains of Whistler, BC, a conspiracy you might read in tomorrow's paper, but pray you never will. (Speculative Fiction from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A STORY YOU WILL NOT SOON FORGET


Title: The Best of Me
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (March 26, 2013)
Pages: 368

I was anxious to write a review about THE BEST OF ME by NICHOLAS SPARKS due to the rollercoaster ride it became. I am an aspiring fiction author. I have been writing for years, learning the craft through fellow writers, reading endless amounts of fiction, and books on the craft of writing. With that said, I am picky when it comes to “writing rules”.

I admit I have not read a lot of books by NICHOLAS SPARKS, and may not have read any if not for watching the movie A WALK TO REMEMBER. As a write, I was curious to read in written form the amazing story I watched on screen. Anyone who is an avid reader, is typically drawn to watch the movie of the book they loved so much. Equally, most are disappointed with the changes made. Even though, most of us still feel the need to go and see the story unfold on the big screen.

I made the mistake of going to see DEAR JOHN, only a day after reading the book. It was fresh in my mind, so fresh that every detail that was not the same as the book in the movie, stood out bluntly. For that reason, I recommend to let as much time pass between completing a book and seeing the movie.

Nevertheless, after seeing the trailer for THE BEST OF ME, knowing it is a NICHOLAS SPARKS story, I knew I would end up seeing it. I then had the urge to read the book first, knowing very well that it might be a mistake.

As I began to read THE BEST OF ME, I immediately had a problem with it. It was a ton of back-story, telling, and constant switching of pov’s (Character point-of-view). Not just unannounced switching. Not just in an unannounced paragraph, but within a paragraph – several time! Yikes. Really?

I am not one for giving “bad reviews”. Honesty without bad mouthing an author is what I strive for. And I am certainly not attempting to bad mouth here. NICHOLAS SPARKS is a number one bestselling author. However, that did not come with following writing rules. Equally so, I don’t believe it came from being a rule breaker, either.

What I’ve come to know about NICHOLAS SPARKS, is that he creates AMAZING stories. Is he the best writer? Not in my opinion. However, he creates such amazing material/plots/story lines, that you can forgive him for breaking the rules. Though I have to be honest, especially the constant unannounced shifts in pov, at times confused me as well as equally drives me nuts. I've come to realize that he breaks the rules better than most, in that it works better for him then other, perhaps due to his choice in words and content.

I have read a few books that didn’t follow the pov rules. Those books I HAD to stop reading. There just wasn't enough to give me reason to continue. With THE BEST OF ME – maybe in part knowing what the book was about from the trailer, and that I’d go see the movie, and that he produces amazing stories – I clawed my way through the first 120 or so pages. At about that point – though the pov shifts didn’t change – other things that were bothersome, did change.

The first 120 or so pages there is little dialogue – another craft rule broken. It was written in more of a narrative, back-story, informational dump kind of way – more rule breaking. But then the dialogue opens up, and the reader is taken into the here and now – no longer in the endless pages of back story.

THE BEST OF ME is to-date the first and only book that I’ve read that I nearly quit reading, and was very happy that I didn’t. WOW! I had not seen the ending coming. Not until near the end, and even that was played out in a way that left me guessing.

In reading the last pages, I could no longer contain the tears. I was moved, and in a huge way. The last chapters were several different scenes simultaneously happening, each building up in a way that will keep you on the edge of your seat. In the way that A WALK TO REMEMBER has resonated with me since the first time I saw the movie, THE BEST OF ME is sure to do the same. It is not a story one will forget. Days later, I found myself driving in the car, hit with emotions evoked by the characters of THE BEST OF ME, as if they were people I actually knew. That is a sign of an amazing storyteller whether or not they follow, or perhaps due to, breaking the rules of writing.

Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole’s story of past, present, and future is not one you will soon forget…if ever.

UPDATE AFTER SEEING THE MOVIE:

When I finished the book, I was left with so many emotions of such an amazing story. After seeing the movie, those feelings lessened with the confusion of the major changes. Why? Please tell me why anyone would do that. I can't say I will never read another of his books, or see another of his movies, but this is beginning to become a not so good pattern with his books vs movies. It's one thing to tweak what happened in a book for a movie, but to change MAJOR things. Things that made the book so amazing. Well, I am beyond words of how disappointed I am.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MORE BRENDA MINTON BOOKS, PLEASE


Title: His Montana Bride
Author: Brenda Minton
Publisher: Love Inspired (September 16, 2014)
Pages: 224

Love the cover. Love the title. Love the author. Was there was ever a doubt that I would purchase and read HIS MONTANA BRIDE by BRENDA MINTON? Nope! Not a chance.

I get excited when I spot a new book by BRENDA MINTON. Of course I typically find out months before it is released, which is so unfair. If she were a writing machine, I would most likely never get to experience other authors, for I couldn’t resist reading book, after book, by MS MINTON.

Katie Archer is in Jasper Gulch for one reason and one reason only. To be a bridesmaid to her sister. The same sister she has been in the shadows of all her life.

The last thing Cord Shaw is searching for is a relationship. No, he has had his fill of finance’s. So why does organizing The World’s Largest Old-Tyme Wedding with a pretty lady, have him rethinking his vow to stay away from the commitment of marriage?

When it comes to BRENDA MINTON books, I feel like a broken record. Amazing writing. Amazing story. Amazing characters. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

I already know what the next one due out is, A RANCER FOR CHRISTMAS.  Hurry up December so I can get my next BRENDA MINTON book.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

WORTH THE STRUGGLE


Title: My Utmost for His Highest
Author: Oswald Chambers
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.; Reissue edition (January 1, 1963)
Pages: 375

After hearing references to MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by OSWALD CHAMBERS on several occasions, I finally decided to purchase and read it. As I suspected, the meaning at times was hard to decipher. However, as I had also suspected, there were poignant words, which made for a mentally draining reading at time, and an emotionally inspirational one, other times.

Would I recommend MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by OSWALD CHAMBERS. You bet I would. What I was able to take away by far succeeded what I found to be challenging.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ACFW OCTOBER NEW RELEASES

October 2014 New Releases

 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

An Amish Second Christmas by Kathleen Fuller, Tricia Goyer, Ruth Reid and Beth Wiseman -- "When Christmas Comes Again" by Beth Wiseman: Katherine Zook and her four children are facing their first Christmas without a loved one, and the future seems dim. But when a mysterious Englisch man begins to show up in the most unlikely of places, Katherine can't help but be suspicious . . . and a bit curious. "Her Christmas Pen Pal" by Ruth Reid: When Joy Stolzfus's boyfriend tells her he wants to court other women, she's shocked. She pours her heart out in a letter, but it mistakenly reaches Noah Esh. The two begin writing letters back and forth, but a misunderstanding threatens to topple the relationship they're building. "A Gift for Anne Marie" by Kathleen Fuller: Anne Marie Smucker's life is pretty perfect. Until she discovers her widowed mother is getting married and they're all moving. On top of that, Anne Marie's relationship with her friend Nathaniel has changed, and she's more confused than ever about her feelings for him. "The Christmas Aprons" by Tricia Goyer: Esther Glick bakes a Christmas pie for a fundraiser, and she soon finds herself sitting across from bachelor Ammon Schwartz. Esther receives many orders for pies, but when she breaks her wrist, she discovers what community-and love-are all about. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Romance:

Cover ArtAt Bluebonnet Lake: A Novel (Texas Crossroads) by Amanda Cabot -- Marketing maven Kate Sherwood's world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is slow down to a crawl at Rainbow's End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. But she cannot deny her ailing grandmother's request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week (albeit fifty years ago). There Kate meets Greg Vange, the resort's handyman. But there's more to Greg than meets the eye--billions more, in fact, as he recently sold his successful software company and is at the resort in search of what's next for his life. Kate isn't looking for romance, but she can't deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. She even starts to see potential in the rundown resort. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate's long-sought promotion take her back to the big city? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey -- After Taryn McKenna's high school sweetheart, Justin Callahan, abandons her to join the army, Taryn vows to never love again. And she decides to keep a closely guarded secret from him-forever. Focused on being completely independent, Taryn pours herself into teaching high school in Hollings, North Carolina and helping her spunky Grandma Jemma. But when Jemma's health takes a turn for the worse, and Justin reappears, Taryn's emotions get more tangled than a knotted piece of thread. A hand-stitched Irish chain quilt holds the message of healing Taryn needs. But will she realize the depth of God's unconditional love for her? (Contemporary Romance from Abingdon Press)

His Small-Town Family by Lorraine Beatty -- Nicki Latimer never expected to be back in her tiny Mississippi hometown-much less running a store with a baby on her hip. But when her father falls ill, Nicki will do anything to save the family business...even put her dreams on hold. And she's found just the person to help her. Ethan Stone is strong and reliable, but also haunted by his past as a war photographer. He's convinced he could never be the man Nicki thinks he is. But with Ethan by her side, Nicki's dreams of love and family are closer than she thinks. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Holiday Proposal by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Holly Miller is steering clear of mistletoe. Just out of nursing school, Holly can't risk any distractions. She knows a slip-up could cost a life. Like the mistake she made years ago that still plagues her conscience. When she runs into old high school friend Matthew Cook, she hesitates to let romance into her life. Even if the handsome baker is as delectable as his fabulous pastries. She didn't notice him back in high school, but things have sure changed. Now that Matthew has Holly's attention, maybe the holiday season is the perfect time for him to show her that she deserves to have it all-work, family, friends and a love that lasts a lifetime. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Forever Christmas by Robert Tate Miller -- Up-and-coming literary agent Andrew Farmer is constantly on the road, wooing prospective clients and making a name for himself. Would he and his wife Beth have spent their last moments together arguing had they known that just before midnight on Christmas Eve, Beth would be hit by a taxi that would ultimately take her life? Andrew would do anything to go back and change that night. Then he meets Lionel, a straight-talking angel in disguise, who grants Andrew the gift of the last three days of Beth's life to relive, but there's a hitch: her fate cannot be changed. Only one gift will save her life, and Andrew has seventy-two hours to figure out what that gift is or he'll lose Beth forever. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

General/Contemporary:

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay -- Restaurant owner Elizabeth has lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down. When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvy celebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she's losing her dream. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister's side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy. As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her? (General/Contemporary from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Historical Romance:

Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin -- A shy spinster, Violet Madison secretly delivers food to the poor at Christmas and earns the title The Yuletide Angel. When bachelor Hugh Barnes discovers the truth, he vows to protect her. Neither realizes someone else waits in the shadows, threatening to ruin Violet's generosity and her reputation. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Farmer's Daughter Romance Collection by Mary Davis, Kelly Eileen Hake, Tracie Peterson, Jill Stengl and Susan May Warren-- Meet daughters of prairie farms from Montana south to Kansas who find love in the midst of turbulent life changes. Marty's nieces are kidnapped. Rosalind's town is overrun by a railroad company. Amy's jealousy comes between her and her twin. Beulah's answer is needed to a marriage proposal. Lilly's choice puts her at odd with her neighbors. Into each of their lives rides a man who may only make their situations worse. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Dreaming on Daisies (Love Blossoms in Oregon #3)
Dreaming on Daisies (Love Blossoms in Oregon Series) by Miralee Ferrell -- When her father's debts, brought on by heavy drinking, threaten Leah Carlson's family ranch, she fights to save it. When handsome banker Steven Harding must decline her loan request, he determines to do what he can to help. Just as he arrives to serve as a much-needed ranch hand, Leah's family secrets—and the pain of her past-come to a head. They could destroy everything she's fought for. And they could keep her from ever opening her heart again. (Historical Romance from David C. Cook)

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin-- A grandmother advises three siblings as they search for love and deeper faith during World War II. White Christmas by Cara C. Putman. A candy maker and a puzzle manufacturer have one thing in common: love is the last thing they're looking for and the very thing they need. I'll Be Home For Christmas by Sarah Sundin. A fighter pilot running on empty, a lonely widow, and a little girl searching for what she's lost-will an unusual Christmas gift fill their hearts again? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Tricia Goyer. As Christmas nears, a combat nurse offers care and cheer to injured soldiers on the front line, but when her patients and the Dutch villagers discover it's her birthday they work together to give her a great gift-a reason to believe in love again. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Suitor by DesignSuitor by Design (The Dressmaker's Daughters) by Christine Johnson-- Minnie Fox's goal is to find a beau who can help support her ailing father and his struggling dress shop. As a working man, her friend Peter Simmons simply doesn't fit the bill. Instead, Minnie's got eyes for Peter's childhood pal-a wealthy Chicagoan. So why can't she stop thinking about Peter? Peter wishes Minnie would see him as more than a friend. As a hardworking mechanic, Peter knows he'll never be able to dazzle Minnie with fancy suits and expensive cars. But maybe he can prove to her that what's in a man's heart is worth more than what's in his wallet. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Watercolor Dreams by Sherry Kyle-- It's 1910 and Anna Lewis wants to become a premier watercolor artist of the lush beaches of Carmel, California. When a man strides down the beach and stops to face the ocean, Anna sketches him into her painting. Was it a mistake? Anna thinks so when he approaches and tells her he doesn't have spare change to purchase her work. Spare change indeed! She'd better keep her day job as nursemaid to two rambunctious boys. The minute Charles Jordan walks away, he regrets criticizing the woman's painting but as he told the artist, he's just been jilted at the altar. His former bride-to-be is in love with his cousin. Will a secret from his past prevent Charles from ever loving again? And will Anna have the hope she needs when tragedy strikes and she must rely on the one man who crushed her spirit? (Historical Romance from HopeSprings Books) The 

Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky-- Debutante Katherine Ramsey's family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey. Her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut in the London social season and find a proper husband. When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London's East End. Here, a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of luxury surface again. She must decide whom she can trust and love-and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Holiday Defenders by Jodie Bailey, Debby Giusti and Susan Sleeman-- Christmas Rescue by Debby Giusti: On the run from a killer, Elizabeth Tate must accept U.S. Army captain Nick Fontaine's protection for the sake of her young niece and nephew. Now her life is in the hands of the very man who broke her heart years ago. Special Ops Christmas by Susan Sleeman: Researcher Claire Reed's top secret project is stolen, putting her at risk of being kidnapped to unlock it. Her undercover bodyguard-her former love, Green Beret Travis Chapman-is on his most dangerous mission yet. Homefront Holiday Hero by Jodie Bailey: When someone tries to kill the daughter of a military official, U.S. Army major Tyler Rainey must keep Kelly Walters from harm...while guarding his own heart against very unexpected feelings. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Lawman Returns (Wrangler's Corner) by Lynette Eason -- Deputy Clay Starke has come home to Wrangler's Corner for one reason only: to solve his brother's murder. Denied official resources, Clay is forced to rely on his wits-and on the assistance of beautiful social worker Sabrina Mayfield. But Sabrina's helping him draws her into danger. Now both Clay and Sabrina have targets on their backs, and Clay is at risk of losing not only his heart, but also his life. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Deceived by Irene Hannon -- When Kate Marshall spots a child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was killed in a boating accident. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious, but agrees to investigate. He discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Claire's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden-and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Speculative Fiction:
Thunder, Stone Braide Chronicles Series #1
Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles) by Bonnie S. Calhoun -- In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with. Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers--and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander's distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her--Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell. (Speculative Fiction from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes -- How would you live if you knew the day you'd die? Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government's crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out. (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publishing)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A MOST AMAZING ENDING


Title: Carly M Duncan
Author: Behind You
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 1, 2014)
Pages: 208

I have to begin by explaining a couple of things. One, I read and review books for authors. Why do I offer to do so? The number one reason would be I enjoy helping others. As an aspiring author, I know how tough it can be to get your work out there and what it means to the writer. I’m a Christian, and it is not my nature to be cruel. Therefore, I do my best to not trash someone’s work. At the same time, I will not say I like something that I did not.

Another reason I offer to read and review books for others is the opportunity to read an author I otherwise may not have. I typically stay in the genre I prefer, but every now and again I break that rule and offer to read something outside of what I like. That was the case with BEHIND YOU by CARLY M DUNCAN.

Heather’s family is anything but functional. So when tragedy strikes, her family is brought together, and repaired in ways they never imagined.

Not only have I never read one of MS DUNCAN’S books before, I had never heard of her. If I had not been asked if I wanted to read her book in exchange for an honest review, I doubt I would have ever purchased it. BEHIND YOU is not something I would typically read. Though decades ago, I use to read mysteries and thrillers, I now prefer to read Christian fiction, my favorite with a ranch or farm setting, where the hero typically wears a cowboy hat.

As I began to read BEHIND YOU, I did so with an open mind. I was surprised at how quickly I was drawn in. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, if an author has the elements it takes to make a good story, it matters little what the genre is.

MS DUNCAN is a remarkable writer. I didn’t want to stop reading BEHIND YOU. I loved the way she wrote in first person, starting each chapter with a different characters point-of-view. BEHIND YOU is a true page turner, a combination of MS DUNCAN’S amazing ability to write, and weave an astounding plot.

The entire book I kept guessing who might have done it. As I neared the end, I thought it wasn’t going to be revealed and I was preparing to be very upset. I can’t recall a story that had me guessing right down to the last line. Wow! I was not expecting that. I am a fan. What a great read.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

NOT JUST A PICTURE OF A DOG


 
I started to write to a man that is incarcerated about three years ago. Not having any one in his life, he cherishes the pictures I send him of our foster dogs through Collie Rescue of Greater, IL. He feels a deep connection to our latest foster, Cuddy’s, because of Cuddle’s life journey. He has pictures of all the dogs taped to his cell wall. He – a new artist – drew a picture of his beloved Mr Cuddles.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SO GLAD I WAS NOT TOO STUBBORN TO ORDER


Title: My Stubborn Heart  
Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2012)
Pages: 352
 
Before purchasing a book, I typically check the reviews on Amazon. Knowing they can be subjective, I don’t take too much stock in them. I read BECKY WADE’S book MEANT TO BE MINE, because of a friend’s suggestion, who knowing my love for cowboys, knew I would love it. Boy was she right. MS WADE suddenly became a favorite author of mine. So much so, I sought out other books by her, and ordered UNDENIABLY YOURS. With a large stack of books to read, I didn’t look into her other book. 
 
Not long after, I saw a post on facebook about MY STUBBORN HEART. I went to Amazon, and as I often do, looked at the one star review and then a five star one. Having read MEANT TO BE MINE, the one star review baffled me. Even though I couldn’t imagine I’d agree, and already having far too many books to read, I opted not to purchase it.
 
Sometime later, I spotted another post on facebook, and this time made up my mind to purchase it. After reading her amazing writing, I couldn’t imagine the one star review was accurate. At least not for my taste in writing and genre. 
 
I don’t recall ever being more happy about not letting my decision be swayed by a bad review. WOW! Even the best authors can have a “bad book”, and I feared it may be true with MY STUBBORN HEART because of the one star review, but I am happy to report that it is not the case. 
 
Kate Donovan’s life has been unsettled in a way that has her escaping from her ordinary life, to the solace of Redbud, Pennsylvania, with her grandmother.
 
Matt Jarreau is quiet and reserved, and with good reason, and no plans of changing. Working on restoring an old house, he never imagined it would lead to restoring his injured heart.
 
BECKY WADE’S writing is second to none. It is unique, witty, emotional, deep, moving, inspiring, and engaging. Her characters – every one of them, including the secondary characters – are three dimensional, tangible, distinctive, and memorable. Typically, if an author is good, a reader will enjoy one secondary character. But not so with MY STUBBORN HEART. I loved them all. I loved Kate’s sweet natured grandmother, but I was thrown into laughter many times with Velma’s distinctive personality, and outlandish comments.
 
MS WADE creates stories that are so realistic. So natural. She holds nothing back, yet maintains a clean, faith-based book. Not the kind of faith-based book that comes off preachy. No, it’s handled in a beautifully subtle way, with just the right amount of honest scenarios. She doesn’t write the expected, and each line is done with a natural flow. Her characters have flaws. Believable flaws. The characters journey through the book is done with seemingly effortless natural flow. I find myself laughing at her unique easygoing humor one minute, and tearing up with emotions in sympathy for a character, the next. 

I loved every chapter, every page, every word. I laughed, I cried. I read it easily, savoring every moment. Upon reading the last word, a sudden sadness came over me. Oh, how I will miss Matt and Kate.
 
I cannot wait to get started on the last MS WADE book I have to read, UNDENIABLY YOURS. I have no doubt I will be quickly emerged into a wonderful world of storytelling, and upon completion, will be waiting anxiously for the next to come out. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

BEYOND I DO by JENNIFER SLATTERY


Title: Beyond I Do
Author: Jennifer Slattery
Publisher: New Hope Publishers (August 4, 2014)
Pages: 320

BEYOND I DO by JENNIFER SLATTERY is packed full of scripter and Christian learning, with a message on matters of choosing a life partner. 

Ainsley Meadows is searching for more. More than just a “marriage”. More than what her past threatens she could become.

Focused on his career, with a controlling family, Richard Hollis is determined to make Ainsley his wife.

Chris Langley has a plan. A plan that include big changes in his life. One that may prove to be the biggest mistake of his life, or the greatest decision he's made.

BEYOND I DO delivers a message for those seeking a relationship or are engaged. Marriage is an important, often daunting decision. One that will be with you the rest of your life, and not to take lightly. MS SLATTERY has woven together a story that will open your eyes to the impact choosing a life partner can have on your life, if not chosen with great thought and intent.

*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE



Title: 10K a Day, The Secret of Quality Speed Writing
Author: C R Myers
Publisher:
Pages: 64

I happen to run across 10K A DAY, THE SECRET OF QUALITY SPEED WRITING by C R MYERS, and couldn’t resist. After years of plugging away at writing, I have come to a point of realization that something is missing. There are several components that make up a great story, and if one of those is absent, the reader is left lacking the full potential of a great story.

I didn’t purchase 10K A DAY, THE SECRET OF QUALITY SPEED WRITING to accomplish speed writing – though I do desire to write more words a day - but to incorporate the missing pieces to my stories.

As soon as I received my copy, I couldn’t resist the urge to read it. At just 64 pages, and desperately seeking the key to better my writing, I dug in, completing it in one sitting.

MS MYERS has constructed a quick and easy to read, understand, and implement book. She went from a SOTP (Seat of the pants.) writer, to an outline. Something I’ve been wrestling with for months.

Being a SOTP writer, I have struggled with whether to change my approach, and if so, how to go about it. With much research and advice, I’ve learned there is no right or wrong way to approach your writing, yet as much as I’ve been told being a SOTP or outliner is fine, I’ve come to discover my all out SOTP approach is not working. I need to incorporate plotting, greater character knowledge, and overall story familiarity before beginning to write to flush out the issues I have with my overall story.

What I’ve gained from MS MYERS book is fresh ideas to approach my story. A key moment was in reading “working with your brain, not against it.” It was eye opening to realize that, in not using the right approach, you are actually hindering your writing/making it more difficult and timely to accomplish your story.
Though I may not incorporate every idea MS MYERS has, to the extent that she does, I am left with a fresh look in how to approach my writing. At just 64 pages, I found 10K A DAY, THE SECRET OF QUALITY SPEED WRITING to be a wealth of information. Often, less is more, and that is certainly the case with this gem of a book.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

YOU WILL BE READING AT FULL STEAM AHEAD


Title: Full Steam Ahead
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 3, 2014)
Pages: 352

If you read my reviews for KAREN WITEMEYER, you might think perhaps I write all reviews with such excitement and praise, but that is not the case. However, that is the case with all the books I’ve read by MS WITEMEYER.

Where do I begin? FULL STEAM AHEAD by KAREN WITEMEYER is amazing! Each time MS WITEMEYER delivers not only a story well written, but an engaging, inspiring, intriguing, and compelling story.

Nicole Renard’s father requested that she find an heir for the family business. She is determined to not only carry out his wish, but to keep her family and their dowry safe. Something that proves to be life threatening and life altering.

Darius Thornton is focused - obsessed might be a better word. Obsessed with finding a solution to the horrific reality of boiler explosions. But that doesn’t mean he’s blind to the beautiful, intelligent, and determined Nicole Renard.

MS WITEMEYER always manages to create characters that are so tangible, you dread flipping to the last page where you will be forced to no longer be a part of their lives. Nicole and Darius are fascinating. I LOVED their quirks. I LOVED how they complimented one another, both in strengths and weaknesses. I especially LOVED how Darius has a flaw that didn’t just disappear by the end of the story. No, instead it was Nicole that helped to keep his weaknesses and flaws in check, without completely fixing them. I found that to be brilliant. Too often Christian fiction  doesn’t allow for specific flaws, and for the most part by the end of the story the flaws have been resolved. But that isn’t how life always plays out. Too often, we struggle with a weakness or flaw for the majority of our lives, never quite able to conquer them.

In FULL STEAM AHEAD, I was blown away with MS WITEMEYER’S ability to keep the reader, reading. She has mastered the art of ending a chapter - and beginning one – where the reader can simply not put it down. As an aspiring fiction writer, she inspires in me the desire to create such stories.

Every aspect of FULL STEAM AHEAD is brought full circle. MS WITEMEYER didn’t leave any unanswered questions, or pieces unresolved. To say the least, one is left completely satisfied.

Honestly, I can’t think of one book by MS WITEMEYER that I didn’t become fully engaged in, and wasn't left inspired and satisfied. Can’t wait for whatever she has in store for the future.

 

Monday, September 8, 2014

WILD WEST CHRISTMAS


A novella is not an easy task to undertake, but that is what all three authors did in WILD WEST CHRISTMAS: A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER/DANCE WITH A COWBOY/CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER (HARLEQUIN HISTORICAL)

A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER by JENNA KERNAN

A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER is the first book I’ve read by JENNA KERNAN. I loved the storyline MS KERNAN created. Right away, it grabbed my attention.  

Dillen Roach did just fine by himself. Well, fine might be stretching it...just a bit. When he sent off a message to two different parties, he is shocked when he discover he sent them to the wrong individuals.

Alice Truett is given a mission. A mission that seems to be a misunderstanding. One that just may lead to something she never expected.

DANCE WITH A COWBOY by KATHRYN ALBRIGHT

Truth be told, DANCE WITH A COWBOY by KATHRYN ALBRIGHT is why I wanted to read WILD WEST CHRISTMAS. I’ve previously read her books and loved them. THE ANGEL AND THE OUTLAW still holds a warm spot in my heart. MS ALBRIGHT is truly a gifted storyteller.

This is the first I have read of MS ALBRIGHT’S books that is not of Christian genre, and I have to be honest, I was a little surprised and worried. Especially when the first story in WILD WEST CHRISTMAS has cuss words on the first pages.

I soon realized my fears were unfounded. MS ALBRIGHT may have not woven in faith elements, but she also didn’t weave in anything that a Christian would find offense, or in question. For that, I applaud her. It is my belief that all authors could do the same.

Kathleen Sheridan is hesitant to see her in-laws. After all, the last time she saw them, they weren’t very welcoming.

Garrett Sheridan is on edge at that thought of seeing his brother’s wife. What was she up to, moving back to their little community? Even more perplexing, why hadn’t she come to visit his family?

CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER by LYNNA BANNING

This is the first time I’ve ever read anything by LYNNA BANNING, and I am terribly sadden to say that it will probably be the last. Not because is wasn’t good. No, just the opposite. It was amazing. What will keep me from purchasing her books in the future is the reason content.

I was shocked to see the word “Lord” and cuss words within the same pages. However, I do appreciate that she didn’t use foul language I loathe and that makes me cringe. The sexual content was far from the most explicit I’ve read, but I could have certainly done without it.

Gale McBurney is a private man. A man with secrets he keeps to himself. When he encounters the lovely Lilah Cornwell, all his plans to live alone is blow to the wind.  

Lilah Cornwell, shy around others, likes to keep to herself. She does fine with her writing, and the flowers she loves to grow. When a handsome cowboy arrives at her door, offering to fix and paint her picket fence, she can’t decided if she loathes or likes the man.

MS BANNING is an amazing writer. I was blown away with the unique – at least to me – format she chose to write in. I have read first person, but I don’t recall ever reading first person in what I like to call “Cowboy” stories. It isn’t just the fact that she wrote in first person that makes her writing original. It’s the way she went about it. I loved that she started a new chapter with each person/point of view. The way she wrote, it was as if you are reading a personal journal, which was quite fascinating.

LYNNA BANNING spun together a complete story. Something not many authors are capable of doing in so few words. Truly amazing. Any author wanting to know what it takes to create a great novella, I’d urge you to read and study what MS BANNING has done in CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER. She has captured what it takes to write a complete and satisfying short story. Too often, they will start out fine, but soon turn into a rush of drama, action, and words. Often leaving you questioning the believability and feeling unsatisfied.

Now if only MS BANNING would try her hand at Christina fiction, I’d have a new favorite author. At the very least, keep all the foul language and sexual content out, and I’d be sure to purchase each she wrote.  

*Please see my profile for more information on this review.