Shadow Among Sheaves – Celebrate Lit

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About the Book

Shadow amonght Sheaves

Book: Shadow Among Sheaves

Author: Naomi Stephens

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: April, 2019

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz

The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.

Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

I was strangely enthralled with this story as soon as I started. It is not a high action story, which is what usually keeps pages turning, but I was pulled into the story and I could not put it down. I ended up staying up waaayyyy too late just to finish.

When I first read the description I was intrigued with the idea and wondered how Naomi would frame the the story in 1850s England, and I think she picked the perfect setting; an Indian woman followed her mother-in-law, Nell to the land of fair skinned English.

Other similar period books I have read have shown Indian men and women in an exotic viewpoint, often as servants. Naomi doesn’t shy away from the realities of racism and how close to starvation the ladies became. But in all of that, she doesn’t allow the story to get bogged down to the point of tear preferring to lift it with Rena and Nell’s determination to survive and thrive despite their circumstances.

I admire both women for their dedication to each other when splitting up could have made their lives easier in some way, they stuck like glue, a thread of love woven between their hearts. Nell has a strong steady faith and is patient with Rena and her faith journey.

I am not sure how I feel about Barric. On one hand he is stern and distant, struggling with his own prejudices. On the other, his heart slowly turns, running quietly deep. He learns to stand up to others and their assumptions, how to follow his heart. Barruc will never wax poetic to the masses with the grand declaration, but I believe his love for Rena will only grow.

For this story, the end is just the beginning.

I received a copy of this story for the purpose of this tour. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Naomi Stephens

Naomi Stephens is a bookworm turned teacher turned writer. She received a M.A. in English from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and now lives in Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a rascal of a dog named Sherlock.

More from Naomi

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz

The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.

Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own. Which will he choose? Find out in Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens.

Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Shadow Among Sheaves:

She smiled, stepping closer and placing her hand on the horse’s wet snout. Samson was a pretty beast with wide, ponderous eyes and a few splotches of gray around his nose. The soft puff of air Samson snorted into her palm brought a delighted smile to her lips, and she gasped as he bowed his neck to nuzzle his nose against her stomach. She felt her smile leap into a grin. It was a delightful change, to feel joy so deep it finally showed.

Barric circled around Samson to stand beside her, his hands never leaving the reins. “He’s fond of you,” he remarked as Samson dropped his snout against her hip.

“Unsurprising, I suppose. Though he could also be searching you for a carrot.”

Surprised to hear Lord Barric speak so teasingly, and pleased by the gentle light she found in his otherwise tired eyes, Rena laughed her faint agreement. “That will teach me to come empty-handed, won’t it?”

Their smiles both dropped as a young, lanky stable hand came rushing out to take Samson, and Barric relinquished his hold on the reins, nodding his silent thanks.

As soon as the stable boy had disappeared with Samson, Bar¬ric glanced back at Rena. “Are you going home?” he asked, nodding toward the dusty road looping down the hill to William’s house.

She stepped back, realizing she had dawdled longer than she’d first intended. “Yes,” she answered. “I often come this way to avoid the other workers.”

“Might I walk with you?” He turned to hang his whip on a peg. “Just a short stretch of the road?”

Stunned by his request, and a bit suspicious of his motive, she nonetheless nodded. “Yes, of course.”

Barric drew up beside her, his even strides betraying no unease, though he was silent for some time as they made their way down the golden-colored hill.

“You have seemed tired these past few days,” he observed. Rena did not bother to deny it. She’d been working hard to keep up with the others, as Barric had told her she must, and felt wearier for it. She had tried to split her days in half, the mornings spent binding sheaves with the women and the afternoons spent picking for her own stores, but the work was backbreaking, and, as he had already pointed out once before, she was not used to hard labor. “I realize I haven’t really asked you how you are settling in,” he went on.

“Perhaps you’ve been too busy provoking me,” she answered before she could stop herself.

Barric’s eyebrow inched up as he slanted an approving smirk down at her. “Perhaps.”

Rena cursed her honest tongue. She must have been more tired than she thought, to speak so freely to a man of title. “I have been well,” she tried again, a bit more diplomatically. “The house suits us, if that is what you are asking.”

“The people here do not speak to you unkindly?”

“The people do not speak to me at all.” She had meant to sound casual, unaffected, but heard the hurt in her own voice she hadn’t been able to weed out. As Barric’s expression tightened, she hastened to amend, “Except for you, my lord. Of course. And the Wilmots.”

“They are good people,” he agreed quietly. “And will you be coming with them to the festival this evening?”

She hesitated. According to Alice, harvest home was a yearly tra¬dition, a night of raucous drinking and dancing to celebrate the close of the harvest. All of Abbotsville would be there—landowners, stew-ards, even tenant farmers and common laborers. But Rena was none of those things, and she and Barric both knew it.

“Come,” Barric teased, “do not tell me you are afraid to go. I would never have thought it of you.”

“I am not afraid,” she insisted. “I just had not thought about it.”

At her defensive tone, he smiled—a true smile—one that pinched the corners of his eyes and pressed grooves along the outer edges of his mouth. “You ought to come,” he decided. “Everyone in Abbotsville is welcome, and many are the men who would feel lucky to dance with you.”

But, of course, Lord Barric knew this was not true. The men in his fields regarded her mostly with contempt and made no secret of it— they would not count themselves at all lucky to dance with her. Was Lord Barric trying to offer her words of comfort? Or was he trying to convey a message?

Did he want to dance with her?

This was hardly a safe question, and so she asked another. “Do you dance, Lord Barric?”

When he met her gaze, so direct, she was all the more glad she had not stammered in her reply. The man walked a dangerous line whenever he deigned to speak to her. Far too close, she’d think, and then stern enough to cool her blood with a word.

He surprised her with another smile, this one a faint twist at the corner of his lips. “Perhaps you would have to come to find out.”

Blog Stops

Godly Book Reviews, April 30

Mary Hake, April 30

Worthy2Read, April 30

Back Porch Reads, May 1

Inspirationally Ever After, May 1

Fiction Aficionado, May 2

Splashes of Joy, May 2

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, May 2

Bigreadersite, May 3

Inklings and notions , May 3

Blossoms and Blessings, May 3

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 4

janicesbookreviews, May 4

Just the Write Escape, May 5

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, May 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 6

For Him and My Family, May 6

Kat’s Corner Books, May 7

Pause for Tales, May 7

Aryn The Libraryan, May 8

Faery Tales Are Real, May 8

Hallie Reads, May 8

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 9

Through the Fire Blogs, May 10

The Becca Files, May 10

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 11

Older & Smarter?, May 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 11

Texas Book-aholic, May 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 12

A Reader’s Brain, May 13

For the Love of Literature, May 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Naomi is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a finished paperback copy of Shadow Among Sheaves!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/deb9/shadow-among-sheaves-celebration-tour-giveaway

Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations – Celebrate Lit – Giveaway

Weddings willows and revised expecatations

About the Book

Book: Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations

Author: V. Joy Palmer

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Release Date: February 14, 2019

Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations

Seventeen years after being orphaned, Apryl Burns and her twin sister Courtney have their own expectations for life. While Courtney continues to shine at everything, Apryl holds fast to the mantra that as long as her potato chip stash remains intact, then she’ll be fine.

But when their beloved grandmother ends up injured and unable to manage her struggling antique store, Courtney makes it their mission to revamp the business and save what’s left of their family’s legacy. Despite rampant doubts in her abilities, Apryl finds herself trapped under the weight of family loyalty as they transition to a wedding venue decorating service. Soon shes forced to ask (translation: blackmail) their grandmother’s renter/handyman, Chance McFarland, for help, an arrangement that is made even worse by the fact that Chance is her former (ahem, and current) crush.

Chance knows a few dozen things about family loyalty, which is why he begrudgingly agrees to Apryl’s insane plan. While Apryl claims they’re archenemies, the girl Chance only glimpsed in their teens starts to emerge, stealing what remains of his heart.

But expectations are a powerful thing. Amidst the glamorous weddings and swaying willows, can those old expectations be revised into something new?

Click here to purchase your copy,

My Thoughts

Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations is a delightful sweet read with just enough depth and character development to sink you teeth into. While at first I wasn’t sure how much I liked Apryl or her twin Courtney, I reminded myself of their youth which helped add perspective to their choices. Learning more of their past and how each sister reacted in opposites brought understanding and compassion as the sisters learned how to forgive, heal, and fall in love.

Also, a two for one! What’s not in the description is Courtney’s romance. While it’s not the focus of the story, I enjoyed watching her learn to let go and love the man God sent her.

Chance and Apryl take awhile to find their way, but in the end I find myself wishing I had a willow tree of my own. I also spent in inordinate amount of time Goggling 20’s slang.

One aspect that I struggled with was not the story, but switching from first person narrative for Apryl to third person for Chance. It took me several shifts back and forth to settle into this unique way of storytelling. Once I got used to it, I liked that I could really get into Apryl’s personality while also seeing the story from Chance’s perspective (all first person narrative stories from one POV are difficult for me). In that, it offers the best of both POVs.

I received a copy of the story for the purpose of this tour. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

V. Joy Palmer

Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterationsand a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Connect with Joy on her websitepersonal blogdevotional blogFacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

More from Joy

I’ll confess something to you guys.

For about a year, I hated these characters. Like I vehemently hated them. For their refusal to bow to my will, I counted the ways I could take revenge against them for my own sadistic pleasure, and I seriously considered printing the manuscript just so I could burn it in an oil drum while I laughed like a Disney villain. I’m told my “Ursula laugh” is uncanny.

Some of you may be laughing. Some of you may be rolling your eyes. Some of you may be gasping in horror at the thought of an author killing her beloved characters. Or some of you may smirk and say, “I’ve been there, only I did kill my characters.”

I dove into the story with a wide-eyed innocence that came from thinking I was in charge of the story. My characters slapped that doe-eyed look off my face, letting me know I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, I knew the basics… They start off arguing, then fall in love… I had a couple great kiss scenes planned… Worth in God would be explored… Jokes would be made… But I could not get these stubborn characters to cooperate, and I was pulling my hair out by the roots trying to force them to get on board with my excellent program! I didn’t understand them, and their actions didn’t make any sense. Then my computer crashed…and died…taking over twelve thousand words with it. (A part of me thinks Apryl was behind it.) Suddenly, I was at square one, but I was actually a little relieved. Now I could start over.

Cue muffled sobs here.

After the untimely demise of my computer, I went to the 2016 American Christian Fiction Writers conference. At that conference, Ted Dekker said something in one of his keynote sessions that changed everything for me.

“Write to discover yourself.”

I still get chills when I think about this, and it has nothing to do with the below zero temperatures in my neck of the woods.

My writing changed after that. I made myself vulnerable, pouring my heart into Apryl and Chance’s journey like it was my personal journey. And as my literary world started to blossom, my literal world felt like it was being scorched by an exploding sun of heartache. And when that nasally (or does it only sound that way in my head?) voice whispered that I was worthless, God’s declaration of love was a big, bold font across the pages.

Through Apryl and Chance, I rediscovered my own worth to my Father.

And I hope you can, too.

I hope you laugh (the seagull scene is a favorite of mine). I hope you swoon (Apryl and Chance Forever!!). I would be especially pleased if you had to look up one or two pop culture references because I’ll just feel cool. But more than anything I hope you can rediscover your worth in our Father’s eyes, whether it’s for the first time or the seven hundred and eleventh time.

Our worth isn’t defined by our jobs, our mistakes, our families, or the plans we have. Our worth is in a loving God who calls each of His children by name. Our worth is in our Father.

Set to the tune of a romantic comedy, there are a lot of little truths sprinkled throughout Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations, but our worth in God is the glue that holds it all together – at least for me! This was the truth I wanted to convey in Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations all along. But until I started to understand this (I definitely haven’t mastered it!) in my own heart, how could I write about it?

I hope you guys enjoy Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations. I hope this truth touches your heart in some way.

And I hope you laugh. A lot.

Hugs,

Joy Palmer

Blog Stops

Simple Harvest Reads, April 27 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Pause for Tales, April 27

The Becca Files, April 28

Moments, April 28

Godly Book Reviews, April 29

Just Your Average reviews, April 29

Kat’s Corner Books, April 30

Creating Romance, April 30

Maureen’s Musings, May 1

Hallie Reads, May 1

For Him and My Family, May 2

Vicky Sluiter, May 2

Wishful Endings, May 3

Emily Yager, May 3

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 4

Inklings and notions, May 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 5

Through the Fire Blogs, May 6

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 7

A Baker’s Perspective, May 8

Cultivating us, May 8

Texas Book-aholic, May 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 9

A Reader’s Brain, May 10

janicesbookreviews, May 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Joy is giving away a grand prize package that includes a signed copy of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations,
a signed copy of Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations, a Hand-Carved Reading Willow Tree Figurine,  a Character-Inspired Locket,
a Custom Roaring Twenties Book Sleeve from The Cozy Life Etsy Shop, an Anne of Green Gables Mug Rug from Bookish Star Designs Etsy Shop, and a Chai Latte Soy Candle in a Vintage Mug from Joplin House Cafe!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/dfea/weddings-willows-and-revised-expectations-celebration-tour-giveaway

Governess of Penwythe Hall – Celebrate Lit – Giveawy

The Governess of Penwythe Hall FB Banner

About the Book

The Governess of Penwythe Hall

Book: The Governess of Penwythe Hall

Author: Sarah Ladd

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: April 16, 2019

In the first of a new series from beloved Regency romance author, Sarah Ladd, Delia, a governess to five recently orphaned children, would risk anything to protect them . . . even her heart.

Cornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

Sarah Ladd brings to life the moors of Cornwall in her latest mystery. We quickly learn that Delia has a mystery, but aren’t sure all of the facets. This aspect kept me turning pages wondering the details which Sarah doles out at a steady pace just when I was wishing for more. Delia slowly realizes that she has not properly grieved her losses and through Jac, the children, and her sister, she remembers that God can heal her heart and soul.

Jac is admirable for his impetuousness, but he sees it often as a flaw. But, it is that very characteristic that allows him to take on four children missing their father and love them though he’s hardly been in their lives while taking risks to improve the estate and his tenants’ lives. His persistence in the face of several naysayers makes me feel safe as a reader and root for his success. While processing his own grief, her reaches out to the children and Delia, allowing each the space and support needed to heal.

I enjoyed this mystery/drama from Sarah and hope you do as well.

I was provided a copy of this story for the purpose of this tour. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever. Visit her online at SarahLadd.com; Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor; Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor.

More About The Governess of Penwythe Hall

5 things to know about Cornwall, England:

  1. Throughout its early history, Cornwall’s inhabitants called the country Kernow.
  2. Early inhabitants largely spoke their own language known as “Cornish,” which became nearly extinct in the 1800s
  3. The country has a long and rugged coastline and there were frequent shipwrecks.
  4. Fishing was a major industry, with herring, mackerel, and sardines being common catches.
  5. In 1870, novelist and poet Thomas Hardy called Cornwall “the region of dream and mystery.”

Imagine yourself in The Governess of Penwythe Hall with these pictures of 19th Century life in Cornwall

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/gallery/2016/may/19/everyday-life-in-cornwall-captured-in-the-19th-century-in-pictures

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/cornish_nation_01.shtml

https://www.maritimeheritage.org/ports/Cornwall.html

http://www.cornwallgoodseafoodguide.org.uk/cornish-fishing/history-of-the-cornish-fishing-industry.php

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, April 11

LifeofLiterature, April 11

Moments, April 11

Genesis 5020, April 11

Maureen’s Musings, April 12

The Power of Words, April 12

Mary Hake, April 12

To Everything A Season, April 12

KarenSueHadley, April 13

EmpowerMoms, April 13

For the Love of Literature, April 13

Inklings and notions, April 13

The Avid Reader, April 14

Blogging With Carol, April 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 14

Rachel’s Back Talk, April 15

Wishful Endings, April 15

Simple Harvest Reads, April 15 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Kat’s Corner Books, April 16

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 16

Daysong Reflections, April 16

The Becca Files, April 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 17

Blossoms and Blessings, April 17

Remembrancy, April 17

Worthy2Read, April 18

By The Book, April 18

Texas Book-aholic, April 18

Just the Write Escape, April 19

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, April 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 19

Babbling Becky’s Book Impressions, April 20

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 20

For HIm and My Family, April 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 21

Inspiration Clothesline, April 21

Pause for Tales, April 21

Through the Fire Blogs, April 22

Bigreadersite, April 22

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 22

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, April 22

Inspired by fiction, April 23

A Reader’s Brain, April 23

Hallie Reads, April 23

Henry Happens, April 24

Connect in Fiction, April 24

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 24

janicesbookreviews, April 24

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away a grand prize of a finished paperback copy of The Governess of Penwythe  Hall!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/de80/the-governess-of-penwythe-hall-celebration-tour-giveaway

Comment discussion starter (optional): What ways have you seen God work in your life for healing?

Finally Accepted

On tour with Celebrate Lit!

There’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.

Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.

As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.

My Review

Chloe is caught between two worlds. She grew up identifying as black and when she finds out he father is Caucasian finds her identity in turmoil. I can’t imagine being in the place where what I believed about myself my whole life was called into question. Chloe wrestles with finding her identity in God rather than her skin color or genetics. She wrestles with loss, bullying, rejection, and doubt that God is a good Father.

Darryl struggles with accepting that he is good enough with God’s grace. I like how throughout the story he is continually compassionate and fights to overcome his past though he does not see it. So many of us do things that we think will make up for past wrongs and earn favor with God, not truly believing that His grace is offered freely and that nothing we can do will earn His mercy.

I enjoyed watching Chloe and Darryl’s relationship develop as they both sought God and what it meant to follow Him in the bad as well as the good, how they held each other accountable for dealing with their relationship with God and their families. I was reminded of Biblical truths about who I am in Christ and I know that He’ll reveal something to you as well in the reading.

I received a copy of this story for the purpose of this tour with Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Author

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

You can find her at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.

Ladies of Intrigue – Giveaway – Celebrate Lit

Ladies of Intrigue FB Banner

About the Book

Title: Ladies of Intrigue

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Christian Historical

Release Date: February 2019

Publisher: Barbour

3 Page-Turners Under One Cover from Reader Favorite Michelle Griep!
Can truth and love prevail when no one is as they appear?

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady
Cornish Coast, 1815
When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?

The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)
Dakota Territory, 1862
Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.

A House of Secrets
St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890
Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

Three stories in one; the first is longer followed by two novella length.

The first story starts in a gripping manner with your classic kidnapping, but it’s quickly apparent that things are not as they seem. Isaac is a loyal man who I liked for forging a way through tough times and working hard to provide for those dependent on him. Helen has no problem telling Isaac what she thinks of his actions and she gradually comes to understand Isaac’s heart, but also isn’t afraid to push him to be a better man. Each page kept me turning as I wanted to see their story unfold. The style is what I would term an easy suspense; provides mystery and action but does not get intense. I was surprised when it ended earlier than I thought it would, but it was a good spot to end the story. I would’ve happily continued reading about them.

The second story did not resonate with me as much. While I enjoyed the developing romance and the sexual tension written into the story line without even a kiss, I struggled to believe in their developing relationship as the story mostly revolved around their internal thoughts and the medical actions, not as much about them getting to know histories, likes, dislikes, etc. I think this was a function of the limited length.

The third story features an already engaged couple. It’s not often that we get a romance with a couple in this stage of the relationship which was refreshing. I liked Amanda and Joseph immediately. Joseph for his clear adoration of Amanda and good heart. Though I don’t agree with him hiding something from her, I do understand and his motives are so honorable, you can’t help but love him more. I admire the way Amanda is determined to break the mold from an overbearing father, but still clearly loves him while doing it.

Each story brings a unique perspective to being an intriguing lady and I encourage you to give it a read.

I received a complementary copy of this book for the purpose of this tour. All opinions are honestly my own.

About the Author

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit michellegriep.com.

Guest post from Michelle

3 Reasons to Read Historical Fiction

Guest post by Michelle Griep

Believe it or not, some readers snub historical fiction, preferring instead to stick to contemporary reads. Several have good reason to, simply preferring one genre over another. But others have never given historical fiction a try. If you fall into that camp, here are some reasons you should consider reading a tale from the past.

  • Historical fiction books are not as boring as your high school history class.

Does the thought of endless names and dates make you break out into hives? Good news! Historical fiction is a painless way to glean some historic facts without mindless memorization. You can experience a different era and culture vicariously through heroes and heroines that live on the pages of yesteryear.

  • Makes for great conversation.

In a world that prides itself on keeping up with the Kardashians, dare to add a little cultural zest to your next dinner conversation. Reading historical fiction arms you with interesting tidbits of things that’ve happened in years gone by.

  • Because truth is timeless.

Some people yearn to go back to a simpler time. The truth is, though, that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the historic side of the fence. People have had tough issues to deal with no matter the era. . .but therein lies a great reason to read historical fiction: truth is timeless. Be it ancient, biblical, medieval, Victorian, or anything in between, truth never changes.

In my new release, Ladies of Intrigue, you’ll experience all these things and more. Find out about the smuggling trade in Cornwall in The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady. Learn about the rough and dangerous life on a military fort during the 1860’s in The Doctor’s Woman. Find out why the gilded age wasn’t as glittery as we often think in A House of Secrets.

Don’t be doomed to repeat history. Grab a cup of tea and master it with a great read!

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, February 23

The Power of Words, February 23

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 23

Blogging With Carol, February 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 24

Mary Hake, February 24

Kathleen Denly, February 25

Genesis 5020, February 25

Splashes of Joy, February 25

For the Love of Literature, February 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 26

Faery Tales Are Real, February 26

Through the Fire Blogs, February 26

Blossoms and Blessings, February 26

Inspired by fiction, February 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 27

Back Porch Reads, February 27

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 27

A Baker’s Perspective, February 28

Andy Carmichael, February 28

Stories By Gina, February 28

Emily Yager, March 1

Multifarious, March 1

A Reader’s Brain , March 1

Baker kella, March 1

Bibliophile Reviews, March 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 2

Remembrancy, March 2

Just the Write Escape, March 3

Bigreadersite, March 3

Inspiration Clothesline, March 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 4

Vicky Sluiter, March 4

Ashley’s Bookshelf, March 4

Book by Book, March 4

Kat’s Corner Books, March 5

Inklings and notions, March 5

Living Life Free in Christ, March 5

The Morning Chapter, March 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 6

Pause for Tales, March 6

Simple Harvest Reads, March 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Daysong Reflections, March 6

Texas Book-aholic, March 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 7

Janices book reviews, March 7

A Humble Cup of Lukewarm Tea, March 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, March 8

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, March 8

Carpe Diem, March 8

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a free copy of Ladies of Intrigue!!

Be sure to comment on blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/da8c/ladies-of-intrigue-celebration-tour-giveaway

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe – Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe cover

Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

Author: Carla Laureano

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

My Review

I was pretty excited to start Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe. Somehow, I hadn’t yet read Saturday Night Supper Club and was in desperate need of a Carla book. I’m happy to report that you can read this novel as a stand alone, but fair warning, if you haven’t read the first in the series, you’ll want to start it as soon as you finish Bittersweet.

What first intrigued me was the idea of a bittersweet cafe. I wondered what was bittersweet about the cafe, knowing it was about a baker, but also knowing that Carla wouldn’t play off of something as obvious as bittersweet chocolate. Clearly, I’m not a writer. As the story unfolded I thought that it fit the title perfectly at times sweet, at times bitter, at times both.

I had a hard time putting this book down, wanting to turn the pages as I watched Melody and Justin grow as individuals while trying to figure out their relationship. Both are torn and struggle with who they want to be. They flounder, as humans do, but eventually find their way to each other in a satisfying ending that will leave you with a contented sigh.

I struggled a bit with Rachel’s role as best friend in this story and there were several times that I wasn’t sure I liked her. But, I also remembered how my bestie didn’t like my hubs very much at the beginning (and I hadn’t liked her beaus either), because she loved me and didn’t want to see me hurt. With that perspective I understood more where Rachel is coming from and in the end, she grows as well.

In the end, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe left me craving chocolate croissants and the next book in the series.

I received a copy of this story but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Carla Laureano

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Guest Post from Carla

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, February 12

Among the Reads, February 12

Lighthouse Academy, February 12

By The Book, February 12

The Power of Words, February 13

As He Leads is Joy, February 13

Cultivating Us, February 13

Blossoms and Blessings, February 13

Fiction Aficionado, February 14

The Lit Addict, February 14

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 14

This Chattanooga Mommy Saves, February 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15

Just the Write Escape, February 15

100 Pages per Hour, February 15

Splashes of Joy, February 15

Bibliophile Reviews, February 16

Texas Book-aholic, February 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 16

C Jane Read, February 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 17

Moments, February 17

Back Porch Reads, February 17

Cordially Barbara, February 18

Genesis 5020, February 18

Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18

Livin’ Lit, February 19

Kat’s Corner Books, February 19

Life with the Tribe, February 19

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19

Through the Fire Blogs, February 20

Remembrancy, February 20

Vicky Sluiter, February 20

Living Life Free in Christ, February 20

2014 and Beyond!, February 21

Daysong Reflections, February 21

Inklings and Notions, February 21

Pause for Tales, February 21

Cafinated Reads, February 22

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22

two points of interest, February 22

Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22

My Devotional Thoughts, February 23

Two Girls and a Book, February 23

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 23

For the love of books, February 23

God is Love, February 24

Book by Book, February 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 24

Janices book reviews, February 24

Lukewarm Tea, February 25

Carpe Diem, February 25

A Baker’s Perspective, February 25

Bigreadersite, February 25

Giveaway

brunch at bittersweet cafe giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway

Comfort & Joy – Celebrate Lit – Giveaway

About the Book

ComfortandJoy updated

Book: Comfort & Joy

Author: The Christmas Lights Collection: Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance, Cozy Mystery, Suspense, Christmas

Release Date: October 16, 2018

The third-annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present: Comfort & Joy–four Christmas Novellas. From contemporary romance to cozy mystery and suspense, this diverse collection celebrates the comforts and joys of Christmas.

My Review

I was pleasantly surprised by my 99 cent purchase.  I’m always a bit skeptical of the “cheap” collections and usually expect and entertaining time, but I had a hard time putting the collection down to adult. Like, seriously guys, couldn’t put it down. I stayed up waaaayyyyy too late reading.

Deck The Shelves – Toni Shiloh – Once I started to read I remembered that a while back Toni had polled her readers about bookstore names and what their ideal bookstore would look like. Toni put all of the ideas together into a perfect bookstore with great characters, including an adorable little bit. I fell right in love with this prospective family.

The Christmas Glory Quilt – Cathe Swanson – This is the first I’ve read from Cathe, but it sure won’t be the last. A sweet romance with just a little bit of mystery and an Aunt who likes to mix things up a bit. This story has some good secondary characters as well the main characters and I felt like I could relate to most everyone.

The Ghosts of New Cheltenham – Chautona Havig – I LOVED this story. I really liked how we get a third point of view from Lauren, our tweeny detective, in addition to the main characters. Chautona can sometimes be hit or miss for me, strictly because I’m such a romance sap (her writing is always solid), but this story had great romance in it with some sizzling build up tension. For those of you who love the build-up of a relationship, you’ll definitely enjoy this story. I think I might I might find some mistletoe that needs “testing.”

Alana Terry – Frost Heaves – I appreciated Alana broaching a tough topic that I’ve only seen in a few Christian fiction books; that of spiritual abuse and cult churches. I think Alana handles it well, balancing the lies of the cult, countered with Biblical truth and showing the inner thoughts of woman who has been set free, but also struggles with everything she was taught growing up.

While I enjoyed the story, it was a bit jarring to me after the rest of the collection. I think if you know it’s more of a suspense story going into it, then you can focus on the story line; it just surprised me after a couple sweet stories and a cozy mystery. I like both Ben and Jade as characters and wish I could’ve seen more of their story as the end jumped into their relationship a little farther then what I felt was developed in the body of the story. I’d like to see a full length novel of this story that goes into more depth on their relationship.

About the Authors

Alana

Alana Terry: Pastor’s wife Alana Terry is a homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second. You can find her at alanaterry.com

Toni

Toni Shiloh: Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. You can find her at tonishiloh.wordpress.com

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

Cathe

Cathe Swanson: Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years, and the long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again. You can find her at catheswanson.com

Chautona

Chautona Havig: Amazon bestselling author of the Aggie books and Past Forward, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave desert where she uses story to connect readers to the Master Storyteller.

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Why Do So Many Christians Love to Celebrate Christmas?

“We don’t celebrate Christmas because we were ordered to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We were never commanded to celebrate His birth.”

Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me, but I was honest enough with myself to admit that it might be because I happened to love Christmas, and the idea of not celebrating it didn’t sit well with my twelve-year-old mind.

No, I didn’t go in for the Santa thing. I never had. As later my children were taught to say, Santa wasn’t “invited to our family celebration.” But still, the family, the joy, the music, the spirit of the thing moved me.

So, I did what I always did when I didn’t understand something. I asked Dad. “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”

If I recall correctly, Dad took a sip of coffee and watched me for several long seconds before he said, “What is Christmas?”

Ever the teacher, Dad had to put on his Socratic robe and make me work for it. I answered. “What we call the day Jesus was supposedly born. His birthday.”

“Okay. So, we celebrate Christ’s birthday on Christmas—on Christmas.”

“Yes.”

He gave me that slight smirk that always meant something good was coming. “And what did God do when His Son was born?”

Dad stumped me there. I blinked. “I don’t know.”

“He sent out the biggest birth announcement ever known to man—a star, angels, music.” Then Dad continued his leading questions. “He…”

I got it. “Celebrated the birth.”

“Yes.” Sometimes Dad was a man of few words.

But I couldn’t be satisfied—not yet.

“So, why do we give presents to each other if it’s Jesus’ birthday? Isn’t that backward?”

“Isn’t all of Christianity backward to the fallen mind?” When I didn’t answer, he smiled again. “What does Christ say about doing things for others?”

It wasn’t word-for-word Scripture—not even close. Just as he would have prompted again, I remembered Jesus’ story of the man who was fed, clothed, and given a drink. “When you do things for others, it’s like you’re doing them for Jesus.”

Dad shrugged then. “Maybe it’s just justification for continuing a beloved tradition, but it brings me joy to give you gifts. And Christ had something to say about how fathers love to give good gifts to their children.”

That brought me back to the original question.

“What about the fact that we’re told to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus? We aren’t told to celebrate the birth. Does that make it wrong?”

This time, Dad’s jaw hardened. I saw it twitch, and prepared for a blasting. After all, I had kind of argued with him. I hadn’t meant to, but I could see how it might be taken that way.

“Chautona,” he said, “don’t ever put rules on yourself that God hasn’t. We may not be commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth, but we aren’t forbidden, either. We have God’s example to emulate, and we have this truth.” His voice gentled when he saw he’d startled me. “We would never have been able to celebrate Christ’s death if He had not been born. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.”

What does all that have to do with Christmas novellas (or “noellas” like I prefer to call them)?

Well, people ask me all the time. “Why do you write so many Christmas books? Why do these Christmas collections? Why focus so much on the birth of Jesus and the trappings of cultural Christmas when it’s inferior to the “big thing”—the Resurrection?”

Dad’s answer is mine. Because it points to it. It draws attention to it. And because Christmas is one time of year—the only time of year in which you can walk into almost any building in America and still hear praises sung to God at some point. They slip in between love songs about giving away your heart at Christmas and rocking around Christmas trees to “Jingle Bell Rock.”

And even the more “secular” versions that aren’t an outright praise to God like “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” sometimes throw in Jesus anyway because they can’t quite leave out, “Merry Christmas” in some place or another.

So maybe our Christmas books are inferior to what “Easter” books could be. Maybe they are. But if Christmas trees, caroling, and “ghost stories” keep Jesus at the forefront of someone’s mind in October, November, or December, then I think that’s a pretty cool thing.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks for coming.

Blog Stops

A Diva’s Heart, November 29

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 29

A Baker’s Perspective, November 29

Multifarious, November 30

Blossoms and Blessings, November 30

Bibliophile Reviews, December 1

Britt Reads Fiction, December 1

Vicky Sluiter, December 2

Remembrancy, December 2

Among the Reads, December 3

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

KarenSueHadley, December 4

Inklings and notions, December 4

Quiet Quilter, December 5

Lots of Helpers, December 5

God’s Little Bookworm, December 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 7 (Mindy Houng)

Captive Dreams Window, December 7

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 9

Janices book reviews, December 9

Carpe Diem, December 10

Bigreadersite, December 10

Kat’s Corner Books, December 11

Texas Book-aholic, December 11

Aryn The Libraryan, December 12

Josephine’s Bookshelf, December 12

Giveaway

d4138312-fe63-40f4-a900-97a9fb525414

To celebrate their tour, the Christmas Light Collection is giving away a grand prize of a 6-month Kindle Unlimited subscription!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d62a/comfort