Grace and Lavender – JustRead – Giveaway

Welcome to another addition of First Line Friday! Today I’m featuring a stop on the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Grace & Lavender by Heather Norman Smith, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

Join in with other on FLF, hosted by Hoarding Books and see all of today’s first line. Comment below to share your current read.

Without further ado, the first line from Grace & Lavender:


“Colleen Carter Hill sat at her kitchen table with a cup of black coffee in her hands and a boatload of ideas on her mind.”


ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Grace & Lavender
Author: Heather Norman Smith
Publisher: Ambassador International
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: March 1, 2019

Recently retired Colleen Hill is always busy, constantly on a quest to make life more interesting.

When the ladies’ group at her church partners with the local children’s home, Colleen jumps in as usual, volunteering to share her passion for cooking with a troubled teenager named Grace. But Colleen must balance the new project with her pursuit of becoming a contestant on a television game show, along with all the other ideas her brain continually spins out.

Colleen’s daughter Melody is quite different. She lives a calm, simple life and is content with who she is. That is, until an unexpected opportunity to work with Grace, too, pushes her to reevaluate life and dare to take on bigger dreams. The path starts with a newly-found interest in soap-making and leads her to responsibilities she didn’t even know she wanted, including helping Grace understand the meaning of her name.

Grace & Lavender is a book for all audiences—a heart-warming story that reminds us to seek God’s purpose for our lives.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Norman Smith aims to entertain and encourage, while illuminating the redemptive love of God through her writing. Along with Christian Fiction, she writes devotions and children’s books. She also enjoys writing songs and singing about Jesus.

Heather is proud to be a life-long North Carolinian and hopes to present the beauty of the Tar Heel State in her writing. Her home is just outside Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with one husband, two daughters, one son, two cats, and two dogs. Heather loves words and does not enjoy math, except when it comes to counting blessings.

CONNECT WITH HEATHER : website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

 

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will win a print copy of Grace & Lavender (US only)

(4) winners will receive an ebook copy of Grace & Lavender (open internationally)

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight March 4, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm March 11, 2019. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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

A Desperate Hope – Giveaway – Prism Book Tours

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

A Desperate Hope
(Empire State #3)
By Elizabeth Camden
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 352 Pages
February 5th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed. 

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookiBooksKobo

My Review

I’ve been looking forward to A Desperate Hope since I finished reading A Daring Venture. The premise of a town caught underneath the proposed drinking water reservoir and its fate intrigued me from the start. One of the things I love about Elizabeth’s books is her ability to take a historical even and weave a fictional story around it and A Desperate Hope fulfills all I’ve come to expect of her stories.

I read it in one sitting.

Each page made me want to read another. And another. And another. I liked all of the characters; the good, the bad, the questionable. While there were many to keep track of, it didn’t get overwhelming and kept me on my toes wondering how each would fit into the final moments of the plot. I had an inkling about how the ending might go, but I outright gasped at the plot twist.

I appreciate Alex’s devotion and his eternal optimism reminded me of hubs, so I could help but loving Alex as well. The way he drew Eloise out of her shell, made her believe in herself, and helped her grasp a far fetched dream was swoonworthy. He wasn’t all talk either- he rolled up his sleeves and worked hard to make it happen.

Eloise understandably struggled with her self worth and I could relate on many levels (but not the instant head math!). I admire her courage to step out in a strange new world after a tough isolated childhood and succeed in a men’s profession when many at that time would cheer for her failure. I understand her need for safety and predictable. I’m the same way.

As I’ve seen in my own life, these opposite personalities create moments of friction and frustration. Even more importantly they create moments of growth and compromise that, if weathered well, bring a couple closer together.

I encourage you to read A Desperate Hope not only for the mystery but to get to know an entire town you’re sure to love.

(I might be on tour, but I purchased a copy!)

Tour Schedule

February 18th:
Launch
The Power of Words
Kelly Goshorn @ Romancing History
February 19th:
Remembrancy
Labor Not in Vain
February 20th:
Hearts & Scribbles
Locks, Hooks and Books
Uplifting Reads
February 21st:
Books n Baubles
The Barefoot Reader
February 22nd:
Among the Reads
Faithfully Bookish
February 25th:
I’m Going on an Adventure
Beauty in the Binding
February 26th:
All-of-a-kind Mom
Wishful Endings
Kat’s Corner Books
February 27th:
Jorie Loves A Story
Loraine D Nunley, Author
February 28th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews
Hallie Reads
Splashes of Joy
March 1st:
Heidi Reads…
Flowers of Quiet Happiness

Bookstagram Tour

Check out the Bookstagram Tour:February 17th (launch): @prismbooktoursFebruary 18th: @heidireadsblogFebruary 19th: @suziewaltnerFebruary 20th: @girlandherbooksFebruary 21st: @singinglibrarianbooksFebruary 22nd: @betherin02February 23rd: @all.the.lovely.pagesFebruary 24th: @christenkrumm
Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Elizabeth Camden is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida.

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebook

Tour Giveaway

– One Grand Prize winner will receive print copies of all three books in the Empire State series: A Dangerous LegacyA Daring Venture, and A Desperate Hope

– Two additional winners will receive a print copy of A Desperate Hope– US only- Ends March 1, 2019

Enter here.

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

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Couples in Books with Two Word Titles

toptentuesday

Another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Today’s Top Ten is Favorite Couples in books, which, to me, seems an impossible task. In order to narrow it down, I picked out titles with only two words, that I own (i.e. no library books or borrowed from friends), and without repeating authors (because a few of these I’d pick the whole series, and that’s more than ten).

In no particular order:

  1. Finders Keepers – Sarah Monzon
  2. The Lace Maker – Laura Frantz
  3. Canteen dreams -Cara Putman
  4. Still life – Dani Pettrey
  5. The Proposal – Becky Wade
  6. Leaving Oxford – Janet Ferguson
  7. Mojave Rescue – Tanya Stowe
  8. Operation Mistletoe – Elizabeth Maddrey
  9. Enchanting Nicholette – Dawn Crandall
  10. Moving Target – Lynette Eason

What your your top ten? Don’t forget to join in on the fun on the other blogs.

Anticipated 2019 Reads

I want to know – who has ever cleaned out their TBR pile all the way to the bottom? Not me! And, it’s steadily growing larger as we kick off 2019. Goodreads has a running list of “Most Anticipated Inspirational Novels of 2019,” which currently has 82 entries. I encourage you to browse through the list and add some new titles to your pile.

Here are my most anticipated inspirational reads. I know that more will be added as some authors haven’t listed their to be published for this year. What are your most anticipated reads?

P.S. Reviewing my post it occurred to me that all but two of these (Ever After and Wooing Cadie) are by Bethany House. I’ve come to expect great stories from them, but there are other great publishing houses and indie authors too. I’d like to know what others you love.

Series Review – Family Blessings

The Dad Next Door

Lawman Joe Sheehan is desperate to bond with the daughter he’s just discovered he has. But as a virtual stranger to twelve-year-old Amelia, the task seems impossible. Until Claire Conley moves to town. A social worker renovating a mansion into a foster home, Claire is the first person to get through to Amelia. Falling for the single dad was not on Claire’s to-do list. But with Joe and Amelia around, the house finally starts to feel like home. Claire’s ready to fight to convince Joe that together they’ve done more than fix a house…they’ve built a family.

A Baby for the Doctor

After becoming a foster parent to a young boy, equine therapist Jordan Conley’s life gets turned upside down. Little Levi is in need of an exceptional pediatrician, which means seeking help from Dr. Ash Sheehan—a man that, despite her heart-pounding crush, isn’t her type. Her life is horses and hay, and she can’t imagine the suit-clad doctor in a pair of cowboy boots. As a confirmed bachelor, Ash has never been nervous around women, but there’s something about Jordan that flusters him, and working closely together doesn’t help. The last thing he’s looking for is long-term romance. But the more involved he gets, the more he wishes they could stay together…always.

Their Secret Baby Bond

He wanted roots. She chose career. Can a baby bring them back together? Wynn Sheehan planned to change the world—not return to Alabama alone and pregnant. Her life is in shambles, but at least she can help take care of Latham Grant’s ailing grandpa. Latham isn’t ready to trust the woman who eagerly left him and their small town behind. But can they ignore the spark rekindled by unexpected Family Blessings?

The Marriage Bargain

Family Blessings lead to new beginnings. Jules Sheehan will do anything to keep custody of the two orphaned girls in her care—including a marriage of convenience with their uncle. Cam Quinn crosses the globe as a travel writer, but he’s ready to settle down. Now tough, tender Jules is offering the home he’s secretly longed for. Can this marriage in name only become a family of the heart?

My Review

This series by Stephanie Dees focuses a family that has a big heart and passion for loving foster kids who need a home and a Savior.

The Dad Next Door: I read this book after reading book 2 in the series, so I had already connect with Joe, Claire, and Amelia, but I enjoyed reading about their start as a family. I admire Joe for the way he stepped right into fatherhood, even with some bumbling and learning, he was immediately steadfast and gave it his whole heart. At the end he paints a picture for their future that melted my heart. I promptly sighed and read it to hubs. A foster brood sounds about perfect to us too.

As a former foster mom, I admired the passion that Claire poured into renovating the house with the intention to foster a bunch of kids who needed love and God’s care, despite the hurdles that pop up. Having read the rest of the series, I know we get to see Claire more, and this aspect come out more and more.

A Baby for the Doctor: I LOVED THIS BOOK – by page 2. I connected with Jordan right away. As a former foster mom, I knew just what she was feeling throughout the book: the joy, the heartbreak, the face on the floor prayers. Ms. Dee did a fantastic job bringing the realities of foster parenting while also giving it the positive perspective that often lacks in fiction.

Ash was swoony and steadfast. His heart for kids will make you melt and smile. While I don’t live with diabetes, I do have a chronic illness, so I also connected with Ash, who was in a good place dealing with day in and out of life with a chronic disease while not letting it get the best of him. I appreciated that Ms. Dees also showed the side of him that got fed up, because we all have those days as well, but he didn’t let drag him down.

Their Secret Baby Bond: I already like Latham having read the first two books in the series and was hoping he’d get an HEA! I also knew something was up with Wynn when I met her in the 2nd book. I enjoyed this story about lost and returned loves, broken hearts and dreams, and God’s restoration. Ms. Dees approached a topic that isn’t often told from a faith perspective – that of an out of marriage pregnancy, but she uses the Sheehans and their community to show Wynn that God has not turned his back on her for her choices and that he can bring beautiful things out of them.

Latham shows us how we may have dreams, but when life happens it’s not an abandonment of those dreams, but a changing. He really made me think as I have dreams that haven’t gone as I imagined, but this story reminded me that God can still use those, just in an unexpected way.

The Marriage Bargain: Marriages of convenience are one of my favorite premises, but pulling them off in a contemporary setting can be difficult. I think Ms. Dees did a good job of a plausible story line giving the reasoning and feelings of both the hero and heroine and why they decided to dive in. While I may think it a bit far fetched having experience with the custody courts, if I was in the same position as Jules, I can’t say that I wouldn’t come up with a similar hare brained idea. I’ve also seen the courts make decisions opposite of what you think is best for the kids, but that’s where trusting God’s plan critical. Jules, like all of us do at some point, leaps forward to take the situation into her own hands.

What helped make this marriage of convenience more realistic for me is that there was an instant attraction. While relationships shouldn’t be based all on the physical, you can’t deny that love at first sight exists – it’s just a different type of love. A deeper long lasting love based on friendship has to grow with time and for Jules and Cam this love is show through a slow tantalizing burn.

We also get to visit with all the other characters from the series, which I loved, without feeling like you missed backstory. A satisfying ending to a series.

I received the series from the author but was not required to write a postive review.