A Defense of Honor

Happy Tuesday, all! I don’t know about ya’ll, but it hasn’t gotten crazy hot here in Baltimore. Perfect reason to curl up with a read while sequestering myself in my bedroom- the only room in the house with air conditioning.

A defense of honor

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

My Review

Kristi approaches some hard topics in this story that I think are great that a Christian Fiction author is getting into. I also appreciate how none of the characters and black and white – not all good, not all bad. Kit struggles with the motivations and decisions she felt forced into to create a stable environment for the women and children she strove to help. Given the same situation, I don’t know what decision I would’ve made. It brings to the forefront the question of “do two wrongs make a right?” And if it doesn’t, how do you survive when there seems to be no other way? I relate to Kit’s internal battle as I’m also someone who just figures out a way to take care of everyone without stopping to trust God and let Him provide for me.

IMG_6629The women in this story make/have made mistakes and are trying to figure out how to move forward and do life in the culture of their time. Illegitimate children were a huge problem in the regency period with soaring numbers where women faced all the consequences, the the men mostly none. With the intensifying recent awareness of the #metoo movement, Kristi gives us a peak into the lives of women facing the same challenges in the early 1800’s. Add to it the Christian worldview without getting preachy or judgmental, framed in a genre that gets serious, but not overwhelming, I count it as a must read.

Kristi has mentioned some of the statistics in a live video and I emailed her for more info to share. She says, “Basically, prior to the extended Regency period (late 1700s to about 1830) the percentage of children born out of wedlock in the UK was around 3%. During the Regency period that number rose to somewhere between 7% and 9%. The church’s backlash against this – for better or for worse – is, I think, part of what drove into the strictness of the Victorian period. Laws around the care of illegitimate children were changed in 1834 to try to discourage it. ”

I am looking forward to diving into Daphne’s story and getting more into the questions of how do we move forward after we’ve made a mistake? How do we face God and forgive ourselves? I admire Daphne’s strength and joy that appears to come from within and her relationship with God.

I was provided a copy by the publisher. All opinions are honest and my own.

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About the Author

Kristi Ann Hunter is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

She also has a super fun FB group, so go join!

 

A Search for Refuge

The world is a happier place. Why? Because Kristi Ann Hunter’s newest series, Haven Manor, has launched! We are transported to Marlborough and a few years later than the Hawthorne House series. Kristi has promised us glimpses of the Hawthornes, which, if you’re like me, you have been spending a lot of brain power imagining what the siblings are up to.

A Search for Refuge  is a novella that opens the series and gives the background story of the founding of Haven Manor. The best part, it’s free! FREE!!!!! While it’s an ebook only, don’t despair if don’t have an ereader. Both Nook and Kindle have apps, and I know at least the Kindle app, you can even read online from a desktop app.

A Search for Refuge is a delightful opening to the new series, and the extended preview at the end verges on mean because I want to read the rest of it RIGHT NOW and I have to wait until June. Ugh! Kristi, can you please write way faster? We want to know what happens with all of those post-it notes on your board!

Also, this cover is gorgeous. I love the eye popping yellow cloak, which is saying something because I’m not a big fan of yellow and I can’t stop staring at it.

A Search for Refuge

Margaretta Fortescue desperately needs to disappear from London society, and her only hope is to follow the rumors of another young woman who recently made a life for herself away from the glare of society. Her search leads her to the market town of Marlborough where, in spite of her efforts to avoid attention, she can’t seem to elude local solicitor Nash Banfield. 

All Nash wants is a quiet, sedate life–no risks or surprises. When Margaretta, clearly on the run and unwilling to answer questions, interrupts his solitude, his curiosity and his principles won’t let him leave this determined woman without assistance.

But will discovering the truth about Margaretta make him think twice about finally taking a risk on love?

Kristi is on the top of my list for author/reader interactions. Follow her Instagram and join her Facebook group.

hunter_headshotKristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. In addition to several pre-published contests, Kristi is a Rita award winner and has also been a finalist in the INSPY, Christy, and GRW Maggie Award of Excellence. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

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Book Boyfriends 2017

I was going to do an all-time book boyfriends post…I do have my favorites, but 2017 was a great swoony hero year. Here are my favorites. Note: I READ all of these in 2017; most were also published last year, but not all. I did not even attempt to keep it at 10. (Learning from you, Carrie!)

1) Michael Carrington (All of You by Sarah Monzon)

We’re not supposed to objectify others, but….Michael is HOT. Sweltering. I’m not usually into bad boys, but this fine boy is attractive. He has other redeeming qualities as well, but they only make him hotter.

2) Karim  (The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon)

Karim is not your typical CF hero. He’s Muslim. But, oh my goodness, his dedication, quiet strength, patience, love for his people, and yes, his faith. He’s the best quiet but strong character I’ve read in a long time. He’s not brooding, he’s thoughtful.

3) Alex, Wes, and Reese (Pepper Basham’s Bunch)

If you’ve read any of Pepper’s books, or tuned into Carrie’s raves on her heroes, this won’t surprise you. All of her contemporary heroes will make your toes curl and make you jealous of the heroines. You can see my review for Charming the Troublemaker here.

 

4) Kristi Ann Hunter – Trent from An Uncommon Courtship and Griffith from An Inconvenient Beauty

Two more hereos here! Trent and Griffith’s novels were long anticipated by her readers taking sides for #mytrent and #teamgriffith which made their allure grow. I have been in love with Griffith from the very first time we meet him earlier in the Hawthorne House series and I’m so glad that everyone has finally caught on to the Duke of Hotness. We have similar personalities, so I relate a lot to Grif, and his love for his family, especially his momma. How can you not love a guy who loves his mamma?

5) Amos Bledsoe (Heart On The Line by Karen Witemeyer)

Amos is another non-typical hero. He rides bikes, wears glasses, and would probably enjoy playing Settlers of Catan if he lived today. He’s geeky and so not alpha male-ish. He reminds me a lot of my husband, so I can’t help but love him too.

6) Peter (A Name Unknown by Roseanna White)

I love Peter’s faith and how he goes about living it as a witness to Rosemary. No pushing, just example and patience. He writes her notes too! They’re probably not technically love letter, but I like to think of them that way.

7) Parker Mitchell (Still Life ) and Declan Grey (Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey)

These dudes are half of team hot and you love them more and more as you get to know them throughout the series. They’re protective, but not smothering; let their ladies think for themselves. They’re not perfect, but they’re trying to get there.

8) Ben Delaney (The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner)

I love Ben because he’s so real. I admire him for sticking to boundaries that are very hard to follow in our current culture, but he’s still real about it. He wants his lady, but respects her enough to hold himself back and isn’t mishish about bringing up the issue.

9) Tavin Knox (The Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze)

Tavin has a Scottish accent and is mysterious. Need I say more?

 

The QuietingGiveaway

Today’s giveaway will be a copy of The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher!  I will announce the winner next week on Tuesday. As always, please read my terms and conditions for giveaways and it’s open to US residents only. Click on the link here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Remember to enter the giveaways for the rest of the week!

Why I Read – With Carrie @ Reading Is My Superpower

Blogiversary Extravaganza! Things I wish I Knew When I Started a Blog

Throwback Thursday – Giveaway

First Line Fridays – Love In Three Quarter Time

An Inconvenient Beauty

The Hawthorne House series by Kristi Ann Hunter has come to a close. I have long anticipated Griffith’s story and am happy that all the rest of you are finally jumping on the Griffith is awesome bandwagon. Griffith and I share the perpetual desire for control, and I hope, like Griffith, that I can learn to “let go and let God.”

An Inconvienent BeautyGriffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes–as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.

As all Griffith’s and Isabella’s long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

My Review

My expectations for An Inconvenient Beauty were high and Kristi did not disappoint. It was extremely entertaining watching Griffith, master of control, lose control, particularly a scene where he couldn’t control his words and they all came tumbling out (not saying any more though, I don’t want to spoil it). Isabella is exactly the heroine he didn’t know he needed.

A theme of this book that was unique in Christian Fiction (especially without diving into A LOT of drama) is that life is not so black and white. We often face decisions about which direction we need to go without much time to consider our path, and sometimes when we feel, for whatever reason, that God is not there for us. That idea exists more in our heart/mind than it does in reality, but in our humanness and the seemingly bleak choice in front of us, it is easy to lose perspective about how God is working in our lives and what path we are to take. Both Griffith and Isabella figure out that the path they thought was theirs to take, was indeed not the one God was calling them too. They had to learn how to turn back to Him, how to work through the guilt of not listening in the first place, and how to trust in His plan, even when they have no idea how it’ll work out.

While Griffith is eternally swoony, Kristi weaves a deeper meaning into his gradual loss of control and growing trust in God’s plans over his, resulting in a story that is light while providing a depth of story. I really encourage you to pick this one up for your personal library. While it is a final in a series (and you should really get the others, as well) you can also read it as stand alone.

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Author

hunter_headshotKristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

Top 10 Summer Books

It’s technically fall, though the weather here disputes that fact. So, that means it’s time for the summer round up! This is for books read July-August-September. (There were so many in June, I just couldn’t include it, and I’m resisting a great book I just finished today, because it’s already October!) I surprised myself when I started narrowing down the options and saw how many contempories there are; I normally consume mostly historical fiction, but it appears to have been a summer of contemporaies!

Enjoy!

All This Timealways watchingAn Inconvienent BeautyBlind SpotJust Look Upaoy cover final(1)A Name UnknownMatter of TrustPeace in ValleyThen There Was you

CFRR Recap – Giveaway

CFRR 19

Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat. Those words peaked my interest last year as I started seeing some favorite bloggers begin to talk about the inaugural event. It sounded a bit like heaven hanging out with bookish friends and meeting authors. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t swing it last year. So, when they announced that this year’s event was going to be hosted in Cincinnati, my (now former) hometown, I jumped at the chance. Timing ended up working out perfectly so I could stay with my mom and then hang around a couple extra days to hang with my best friend an her new baby. Here’s a recap of the fun, and at the end, a giveaway!

The first thing that I was super excited to meet Carrie from Reading Is My Super Power. Carrie has answered so many blogger questions as I’ve gotten started and been super sweet about it all. I also got to meet Annie, organizer extraordinaire, from Just Commonly.

Carrie and I pre-CFRR and post CFRR.

The day was filled speakers and great panel discussions such as spirituality themes and how to/should they/to what extent be woven into Christian Fiction. We heard some great opinions from authors about “organic” faith where their authors live it, but don’t necessarily preach at others and how these themes impact readers. Cynthia Ruchti open with a great talk about why chose Christian Fiction. I wish I had recorded it so I could listen again.

I got to meet sooooo many awesome authors. Here are some I was able to snap photos with! Carrie and Annie kept a secret from us all. Friday night, after after a long day of packing bags, Carrie said she wanted me to meet someone. Lo, and behold, I walk around the corner and there’s JEN TURANO. And when I started to introduce myself, she knew who I was. FANGIRL MOMENT.  I tried valiantly to real it in and act normal, but not sure how successful I was. On Saturday, I was privileged to eat lunch with her, Shelly Shepard Gray, and a new to me author, Mollie Campbell. It was awesome to be able get to know these authors more along with a few other attendees.

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After end of the retreat Saturday, Kristi Ann Hunter grabbed some of her lead team and some others and we all went to LaRosa’s and then UDF for ice cream. I learned that Kristi was staying at a friend’s that was only about 15 minutes from where I grew up and she had lived in the area for awhile! It’s a small world. I also got to meet some other great bloggers and readers and author Deb Marvin!

There were also many giveaways and games. It was a seriously awesome day. I hope I can see you there next year!

One of the books in our swag bag is Ronnie Kendig’s newest A Crown of Souls. Even the title is intriguing. And….you could win a copy!  I will announce the winner next week on Tuesday. As always, please read my terms and conditions for giveaways and it’s open to US residents only. Click on the link here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

 

 

 I tried to get a nice photo of the book, but Onxy was not cooperating.

An Uncommon Courtship (Plus my first Author Interview!)

I read a lot of books in a year, varying from ones I barely make it through to those I devour in as few sittings as possible. An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter was the first new release I was looking forward to reading this year, and it did not disappoint in its debut spot. This is the third installment in the Hawthorne House series (plus a prequel novella) and features the affable younger brother, Trent.

I am so excited that Kristi has agreed to be my first author interview! She’s been amazingly kind through the process. See her answers below the book summary.

uncommoncourtshipcoverLife for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. Even with the pressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He’s free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn’t know, his dream of a marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent’s relationship survive the pressures of London society?


Kristi, thanks so much for joining us today! I have a few, hopefully interesting, questions for you.

  1. It’s the first day the kids are back in school after the summer. What are you doing?

Kristi: Sleeping. 🙂 Then writing. I love getting back into schedule after the kids go back to school.

  1. Are you a ninja or a pirate?

Kristi: Can I be both? Kick you in the head while saying arrrr instead of hiya? No? Sigh. I’ll be a ninja. They kick posterior. 😉

  1. Have you ever Googled yourself? If yes, were you surprised with what you found?

Kristi: Every few months so that I can make sure my website is still at the top. But when I first started writing I Googled myself and found that I was already a pretty prominent painter. Hence the addition of the Ann.

  1. Open your text message app. What are the first 10 words that come up automatically?

Kristi: “I think it would make more sense to be a weekend.” So, there you have it.

  1. I loved how Lady Blackstone really shined in this story and can see how she was strong enough to raise a Duke. Might we ever get to hear the story of how she fell in love with Lord Blackstone?

Kristi: I’ve had a lot of people asking about it so I might have to look into it. It’s not a very long story. They’ve always been more settled in my mind, but a lot of people want their story.

  1. You’ve mentioned previously that you scrapped an entire first draft for this story, which I’m sure was very difficult. How did you get through it and keep going (besides the obvious I have a deadline I had to keep)?

Kristi: Deadlines are powerful motivators, but it was more that I believed in the story and I knew I could do better.

  1. What in the world is a rasher? Are there any other words in the book that you use, but still aren’t quite sure what they mean?

Kristi: I haven’t a clue, but I know it’s a measurement of bacon. I vaguely remember looking it up when I was writing to make sure I didn’t give him like 20 pounds of bacon of something, but I don’t remember what it was…Here I go, off to Google to be able to answer your question. Apparently it’s a thin slice, not a measurement. So, yeah. But it sounds cool.

  1. You’ve mentioned before that your heros share character traits with your husband. What, if any, traits do Trent and your husband share?

Kristi: It’s a little harder to pin down with Trent than with some of my other heroes, but probably the most identifying one is that he adores Adelaide’s faults. I’m very blessed to have a man that thinks it’s cute when I forget to do the laundry. Again. 

  1. How did you come up pineapple? Did you think about using any other fruit? (like a Georgia peach, LOL)

Kristi: Okay, this one was one of those very fortunate research rabbits. I was looking up agriculture facts for the prologue and stumbled across the instructions for growing pineapples. They started growing them in England in the 1700s using the Dutch method of growing them in glass hothouses, using horse byproducts to keep the warmth tropical. It was so fascinating that I had to use it. Plus there’s something fun about the word pineapple.

  1. If there’s one lesson you’d like readers to walk away with after reading this story, what is it?

Kristi: You can choose love. It doesn’t have to be a feeling or even something the other person wants. You can choose to love because Biblical love is about what you do for and to the other person. Are you kind, patient, etc.? Choose love. Every day.

Those are some great answers. I really love the lesson of the book too. Relationships, especially marriages, have their hard seasons and choosing love is what gets you through.

Bonus: I love my silly cats who try to read all of my books by osmosis. I’m asking every author about their pets. If you have a pet, what’s their name and your favorite thing about them?  

I have no pets. My kids have pet rocks, though. They have adoption certificates and everything.

LOL, Kristi. You should get them a pet! At least you can’t accidentally kill a rock, though, right?


Review (with a [minor] spoiler!)

The first two pages are enough to give a girl heart palpitations. Trent is already married, plus he’s not finishing his bacon? What?! I forewarn you that as soon as you start reading an Unncommon Courtship that you will not be able to put it down. Will Adelaide and Trent be able to make a real marriage?

I know that so many of us readers have been on #teamtrent for awhile, even referring to him as #mytrent, and waiting, waiting, waiting, for his story to come about. To say I was surprised that his marriage came about as it did is an understatement, but for all the expectations we put on him and pressure Kristi felt in living up to those, she did not disappoint in the least. The book was so very Trent.

I did not expect Trent to struggle so much with figuring out what love is, but I did admire his desire to give their marriage the same foundation that typical couples would have experienced. I think that Trent wading his way through the great love question provides a faith filled insight into Biblical love and the basis that it’s more than a feeling; it’s a choice. And in the end, Trent first chooses to love and then falls in love. Calling in the “cavalry” (aka “the boys,” aka Griffith, Ryland, Colin, and Anthony) who proceed give Trent an education was brilliant, and I love how we get to view the more intimate side of the relationship between these five men.

Can I also just say that Kristi is the master of awkward conversations? There are a few chapters that happen after a delayed wedding night between two inexperienced people. While most authors avoid the, ahem, more physical side of marriage, Kristi plunges right in in a manner that is realistic while being tactful and hilarious at the same time. Of course, it’s probably only hilarious because it’s happening to Trent and not me. That said, I know some folks ask about appropriate ages for reading a novel, and while it’s handled superbly and leads to some great conversations about what love is and isn’t, I’d suggest that parents make sure they’ve addressed this topic with their kid before reading this book and then follow up afterwards as well. That said, there are fantastic lessons to be had from Trent and Adelaide’s story.

I received this copy as a courtesy from Bethany House in exchange for an honest opinion. All the opinions above are mine alone. But, seriously, the book is awesome, so go read it.

An Uncommon Courtship (Hawthorne House, #3)        Amazon       Christian Book

hunter_headshotKristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. In addition to several pre-published contests, Kristi is a Rita award winner and has also been a finalist in the INSPYs, Christys, and GRW Maggie Award of Excellence. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

You can connect with Kristi Ann Hunter at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.