Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.
When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.
The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick–magistrate, widower, and former neighbor–who long ago broke her heart.
When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .
“For the first time in years, the rusty hinges of his shuttered heart gave an experimental creak.” Julie Lessman entices the reader into the world of the Jane Austen era with beautifully crafted sentences like this. Lessman’s latest offering, The Shadows of Swanford Abbey, is wonderfully stuffed with mystery, Regency-era (even a bit of Gothic) romance, and faith.
It is March of 1820 in Worcestershire, England. Rebecca Lane returns home to care for her foundering brother. His problems are deeper than Rebecca realized, and she must board at a nearby hotel, where a famous writer is in residence.
A former family friend who is also their landlord, Frederick Wilford, is staying at this hotel. Wilford’s manor renovations, started by his deceased wife, were never completed. Before his marriage, young Rebecca carried a torch for Frederick. Can she hide the embarrassment of that attraction now?
So many different characters to puzzle out, whether Rebecca’s brother, John, Miss Selina Newport or Lady Fitzhoward, to name a few of the supporting cast. What fun it is when there are several well-thought-out and presented mysteries to try to work through before all is revealed.
Rebecca is greatly loyal, but that lands her in a heap of trouble. “She just wanted her brother back as he had once been, but she feared that John was gone forever.” She wants to help John, but how far will she go in the name of brotherly love? What will that do to the attraction that is finally blossoming between her and her erstwhile unrequited love? One thing she does realize is this: “Family . . . once gone, there’s no replacing them.”
A ghost. Secrets of the former convent. Relationships are hidden, some for nefarious reasons, some discarded in the shadows of the past. What will come to light at the end?
Lovers of Regency Romance, who also want faith and mystery will devour this Lessman novel, as will historical buffs. Definitely discovering I have not read enough of Julie Klassen’s expertly crafted Regency tales! Hand me another, please!!
I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House via NetGalley. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent! Expertly Crafted Gothic Regency!! One of my faves for 2021!
About the Author
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.
On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.
After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.
As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.
Wow! Harmony on the Horizon, Kathleen Denly’s third book in her Chaparral Hearts series, is just amazing!! While Harmony is set in 1865 San Francisco and San Diego, the issues presented are just as relevant today as they were then. Prejudice in many forms, false rescuer mentality, gossip and mob pressure, self-importance, and the list goes on. I could not believe how many issues Denly covers, including salvation, while creating a very riveting and action-packed storyline.
Fletcher Johnson is one heroic, young man we meet, whose aim in life is to right wrongs, one person at a time. Fletcher believes the end justifies the means, as he defends the downtrodden. Sometimes I liked Fletcher, and other times I really wanted to set him straight.
Katie Mizedale, a hapless, daydreaming maid, shares my sentiments about Fletcher. Katie’s faith is astounding, especially given her background.
Enter center stage the main heroine of the novel, Margaret Foster. Bravely coming west from Boston to teach, the year she ends up with in no way resembles what she had been expecting.
Part of that is due to Everett Thompson, who is determined to build a great city out of San Diego. A floundering businessman, he finds that the school teacher he hires may be more than he bargained for.
A historical western romance not to be missed!!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required and allopinions are my own.
Several children rushed past her to pick up jellyfish and toss them into the water, but Rosa hung back, wringing her hands. “But they’re so dirty and gross.” Margaret bent low to meet the girl’s eyes. “Sometimes we have to get messy to show that we care.”
God’s changes don’t imprison us, they set us free. They help us to become better and give us strength and joy, even when the world would try to steal those things from us.
Why must doing right so often come at great cost?
How could these people hear God’s Word and yet be so hardened as to nurture hatred in their hearts? Did they not know they were in the presence of the One who offered unconditional love?
The story was at complete odds with Fletcher’s idea of God as an angry judge waiting to criticize and condemn everyone for failing to live up to His impossible standards…Had he misunderstood who God truly was?
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent!! Historical Western Romance Not to be Missed!!
About the Author
Kathleen Denly lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, and two
cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.
More from Kathleen
Who Invented Romance?
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but romance novels are sometimes viewed as the black sheep of the fiction industry. For various reasons, some people view romance stories with a disdainful eye. Knowing this, I still choose to write romance stories and some may wonder why.
First and foremost, I’ve had a passion for romance for as long as I can remember. I was absolutely one of those typical little girls who played dress-up in her mother’s clothes (or in my case, her lingerie. Eek! I had no idea. LOL) and planned my future wedding day. For reasons I can’t explain, the idea of a man and woman falling in love and pledging their life to one another has always enthralled me.
Or perhaps I can explain.
You see, I was raised in a Christian family and have always been exposed to the Bible. Have you ever looked at your Bible from a romantic perspective? When you stop to consider it, there is more than enough romance in God’s Word to justify placing it on the Romance Novel shelf in a bookstore. At least there would be if novels weren’t inherently fiction and the Bible wasn’t entirely true. (And aren’t we grateful that the Bible is completely true?)
So, in a way, one could say that God is the first romance author. After all, what is more romantic than a groom sacrificing his life for his bride? It even has the requisite happy ending, because He rose from the dead and will return for His bride.
The thing is, God isn’t just a romance author, He’s the inventor of romance. He was the first to demonstrate what love truly is. He is the one who defines it and describes its fruits so that we can recognize it when we see it. It’s His love that gives us life.
And the thing about romantic love is that it has a unique power to change people, to break down their emotional walls in ways that might not happen otherwise. There is a reason God designed man and woman to be together. Many reasons, in fact. But I am convinced that one of them is His ability to use that beautiful relationship to draw His children closer to His own heart.
So yes, some may look down on romance novels and those who read or write them, but I stand tall and proud, because I know that true romance–the kind God authors–is something to cherish and honor. I am blessed to be able to share God’s truths through the wondrous stories of two hearts joining together as one.
To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a Kindle Fire HD8 Plus, a custom Harmony on the Horizon Kindle case, a Harmony on the Horizon altered notebook, a Chaparral Hearts pen, a pair of earrings, a pin, and a scripture keychain!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
It is 1755, and the threat of war with France looms over colonial York, Virginia. Chocolatier Esmee Shaw is fighting her own battle of the heart. Having reached her twenty-eighth birthday, she is reconciled to life alone after a decade-old failed love affair from which she’s never quite recovered. But she longs to find something worthwhile to do with her life.
Captain Henri Lennox has returned to port after a lengthy absence, intent on completing the lighthouse in the dangerous Chesapeake Bay, a dream he once shared with Esmee. But when the colonial government asks him to lead a secret naval expedition against the French, his future is plunged into uncertainty.
Will a war and a cache of regrets keep them apart, or can their shared vision and dedication to the colonial cause heal the wounds of the past? Bestselling and award-winning author Laura Frantz whisks you away to a time fraught with peril–on the sea and in the heart–in this redemptive, romantic story.
After reading A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz, how can I be so disloyal to Esmée and Henri as to start another book? I read this novel as slowly as I could, savoring every poetic turn of phrase and lyrical word picture! A Heart Adrift has left my heart undone!! Replete with romance, intrigue, faith, and history, Laura Frantz has created another enduring masterpiece. The evils of slavery, both for those captured and those who fought it are presented. Trust in God and constant reliance on His Word and communion with Him permeate the lives of both Esmée and Henri, even through harrowing times. Set against the capriciousness of the sea and early colonial politics (1745-1755) mixed with the delicious smells of a chocolatier’s shop and difficult family dynamics, this is one historical romance that will bring the early colonial struggles to vivid life.
I received a copy of the book from the author and Revell through NetGalley. I also bought myself and a loved one a paperback copy to treasure. Notable Quotables: “He chose the sea—his captaincy and ship—over me.” “And I could not conscience being left behind onshore.”
“And then, much like a courtship, as wooing as a siren’s song, the sea had finally won him over.”
Her fervent prayers went the way of her hopes and became floating wreckage.
“How can you possibly provide all these items, Miss Shaw?” “I shan’t provide them,” Esmée said with a confident smile, pocketing the paper. “The Almighty shall.”
“…the island suddenly felt a tad hollow, as did his cottage. To say nothing of his heart.”
“ ‘Tis never amiss to hope . . . dream.”
“I don’t believe in accidents, nor coincidences, but rather divine instances,”… “Especially in matters of the heart.”
“As for myself, I am in the prime of senility.”
“The only certainty about life was its uncertainty. Only God stayed steadfast. Only the Almighty could walk her through life’s many changes. And when she felt overwhelmed, like now, she simply had to look back to see how faithful God had been, did she not? The heartaches and closed doors of the past had made the present more beloved.”
“Those for whom God has mercy in store He first brings into a wilderness.”
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent!! I just don’t want to leave these wonderful characters!! A sea privateer who has to decide who his real love will be, the steadfast heart of a woman lightkeeper, and the colonies as they prepare for war and struggle with the slavery issue. Please don’t make me leave!!
About the Author
Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net.
Laura has written so many great historical novels. I personally have my sister to thank for telling me about Laura Frantz. Now I am buying and sending Laura’s books to her!
A Journey Full of Hope… Escape into a riveting story based on the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
Author Shannon McNear portrays history with vivid authenticity.
In 1587, Elinor White Dare sailed from England heavy with her first child but full of hopes. Her father, a renowned artist and experienced traveler, has convinced her and her bricklayer husband Ananias to make the journey to the New World. Land, they are promised, more goodly and beautiful than they can ever imagine. But nothing goes as planned from landing at the wrong location, to facing starvation, to the endless wait for help to arrive. And, beyond her comprehension, Elinor finds herself utterly alone. . . . The colony at Roanoke disappeared into the shadows of history. But, what if one survived to leave a lasting legacy?
What really happened to the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke? Author Shannon McNear postulates an answer in an emotional, suspenseful tale that is sure to intrigue history buffs. John White is the “older” governor of the Roanoke colony, trying valiantly to lead his small, capricious group of settlers to peace and safety in the New World. When he returns to England to beg for monies and supplies from the queen, the colonists are left with one loyal Native American friend, but many Native American enemies, often because of the white man’s previous dealings. We follow the saga of Elinor Dare, John White’s daughter. Elinor is also Virginia Dare’s mother. Sometimes I almost forgot to breathe, the suspense is so great. Happiness, fear, anger, puzzlement, and hope are all emotions McNear’s characters experience throughout the novel, and McNear skillfully maneuvered my emotions along with them. Trust, anger, cultural differences, and hope amid heartache are all themes McNear explores in her meticulously researched book.
My favorite character is Sees Far. He is often unpredictable. He is drawn to Elinor, yet can’t decide how to treat her. His culture and his manhood in the tribe insist he act in ways not compatible with his early vision. I found the novel harder to read than usual, as McNear prefers to use language as close to the times portrayed as possible. While authentic, it slowed my understanding down. Research is near and dear to McNear’s heart. She has done her homework, many times over. In her exuberance, the author’s notes get a little drawn out for my taste. I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own. (I also purchased paperbacks for myself and a treasured friend.)
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent! Well-Researched, Suspenseful, Fictionalized Account of Roanoke
About the Author
Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.
More from Shannon
Why did I write this story? Well, God shoved the opportunity under my nose, and I didn’t want to be guilty of taking the easy way out, by saying no.
Really, while the concept was fascinating, the execution was daunting, and sometimes terrifying. The Elizabethan Era—before the King James Bible and even before Shakespeare was popular! As a student of the Revolutionary War and surrounding times, I felt very much out of my depth.
Though the research sucked me in, it was also daunting. Sifting through various interpretations of the primary accounts and their own speculations on why they felt things must have gone a certain way. Trying to “find” my story amongst all the theories and opinions. Above all, getting to know my characters and letting them come alive in my own imagination.
And come alive, they did—in full color, with a vividness I did not expect. I hope I was able to translate even a portion of what I envisioned to the page, so that you also can see them!
Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: November 2, 2021
There’s a deadly secret in them thar hills—and gold, or so they say.
Deeply in debt to a wealthy local, Charles Sinclair, Dorothy Hodges’ father finally promises she’ll pay and in gold, no less. If only Dorothy could take to take the promises he spins out of thin air and turn them into that gold, all would be well.
With the help of a strange, rumpled man, Dorothy does manage to bring payment to one of Sinclair’s sons only to discover it won’t pay off the debt. Will the next payment be enough? The next?
When Charles Sinclair ends up dead, Dorothy is the obvious prime suspect, but Sinclair’s son isn’t so certain. Together they work to clear her name and find the real murderer of the Superstitions, but will they find the answers buried in those hills?
Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. The Lost Dutchman’s Secret offers a retelling of “Rumplestilskin” that requires more digging than a miner searching for The Lost Dutchman Mine.
“Dorothy took a deep breath. ‘Why should I trust you? I don’t know you.’ The man grinned one more time. ‘Because you know that you can’t trust Charles Sinclair. I’m your only other choice.’“
As others mention, the book starts a little slowly and it took me a while to be enticed deeply into its caverns and canyons. Once intrigued, I was eager to discover who was behind all the evil goings-on in the desert.
It was hard to imagine someone successfully pulling off the life that Charles Sinclair, a wealthy loan shark, does. His children have no idea of what he really does for a living.
I felt so badly for Dorothy. Her father is so selfish and uncaring. He even sets her up for trouble, with no desire or effort on his part to help her. Dorothy herself trusts God, often praying for help. She does have to be reminded, though, that a Christian confesses a wrong and asks forgiveness. Once that is done, we have to accept the forgiveness and move on. “To continue to dwell over and over on what you should or should not have done will change nothing. To continue to wallow in guilt seems to suggest that Christ’s blood is not enough.”
Little Hazel is adorable! I just wanted to squeeze her, and wish her brother Theo would love her as she desired.
The conclusion of the Lost Dutchman’s Secret by Rebekah Jones left me well-satisfied. Many threads come together to make it a complex mystery. The mystery is thoroughly enjoyable by this point, and I was sorry to leave our new friends behind.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Great! Slow Start, but Intriguing Mystery!
About the Author
Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She started writing as a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her books and stories. Rebekah is an old soul in a young body (she’s not 12 —honest!) While her exact age is classified, her interests are not. Among them are reading a variety of books, singing, playing, and composing music, studying all manner of subjects, nannying an adventurous group of youngsters, and, of course, writing her books, poems, articles, and short stories. She writes a wide range of books from gentle children’s adventures to family sagas to murder mysteries.
More from Rebekah
“They say that no one had ever seen gold ore like it before, neither have they ever since. Except in the possession of Jacob Waltz. His mine had ore of higher value and higher potency than any other mine found in Arizona…”
What if the Miller’s daughter from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin didn’t have to spin gold, but pay it? And because of an enormous debt – that she had no way of knowing the value? And her father wasn’t a miller, but an old miner with a penchant for carving animals while living in the Arizona desert? And what if, for her pains, she found herself mixed up in a murder?
And what if, somehow intermixed with this poor young woman and her troubles, came the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine?
If you don’t know about the legend of that lost mine, you should. Or I think that you should. It’s a real legend as old as the 1860’s. Except, it wasn’t lost when Jacob Waltz went bragging about it. That came later.
The mountains that house the legend are magnificent. When a friend of mine came to visit me, she and I went to explore the area around the Superstition Mountains, as well as a part of the mountains themselves. Standing in a forest of cacti and brush, the jagged rocks and sharp peaks towered above my head, while a critter skittered unseen. Beautiful isn’t quite a strong enough word to describe it. As we hiked up the mountain, making our way through a myriad of desert plant life, rocks of so many shapes and sizes, and tiny critters, I could picture Dorothy, the miner’s daughter.
The modern structures and buildings in sight, faded in my mind’s eye, and I could imagine the young woman partway up the mountain in 1929, wearing her old, faded dress, and staring out across the valley. We plotted out where her father’s shack would have stood, and I made note of a perfect crevice of rock where she might have sat to think or read. I rather found myself wishing I could live out there myself, even if living in a shack in the heat of the Arizona summer doesn’t wholly appeal to me.
When I finally got in front of my manuscript again, I could see Dorothy’s world so clearly, I can only hope I managed to capture it in the book itself. I doubt if I could have captured the beauty of those mountains in words, the sight of them as they changed colors in the sunset, or the glowing starry sky above them after dark.
As for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine, I would be lying if I said I didn’t entertain fantasies about exploring the mountains to discover it, but we certainly did not go that far into the mountains. Besides, it was June in the Arizona desert. One does not blindly venture into the mountains on such an errand in such a time of year unless one has a death wish. It’s rather fun to imagine though. Perhaps one day, I can go on a search – though I confess, I doubt it.
As for the book, I won’t say whether that lost goldmine is discovered or not. I’ll leave that for a reader to discover for themselves.
Trent Raines’ opinion, happily ever after has four paws and doggy breath. He spends his days isolated at the shelter, taking care of animals. Especially now that romance seems to be spreading across the islands faster than fleas in summer.
She lives a safe life behind the camera lens.
Kara Parker’s job at the animal shelter keeps her too busy to worry about romance. Sure, the boss is cute and all, but her introverted nature is perfectly happy as a photographer and website designer, thank you very much.
Even a quick trip to the mainland to retrieve a truckful of animals won’t change their minds.
Or so they think.
As Trent comes to understand Kara, he discovers there’s more than meets the eye in his quiet employee. Together, they plan a Christmas adoption festival that’s certain to empty the animal shelter in record time. Until a blast from Trent’s past puts all the animals in danger.
Sure, Trent and Kara are fine on their own, but they’re even better together.
What will it take for these soulmates conquer their fears and rescue the animals before it’s too late?
Footprints on Her Heart continues the Hooper Island stories of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.
Once again we return to the Independence Islands for another standalone contemporary romance. This time, we are on Hopper Island, where the inhabitants are recovering from a hurricane. Trent Raines, a gentle man with a murky past, runs an overflowing animal shelter. When will Trent stop trying to do penance for the past and believe God gives freedom and a new life? Kara Parker is a talented photographer who works at the shelter. She is quiet and shy and doesn’t believe in her own abilities. Can she trust God to stretch her beyond herself? What will happen as these two scarred adults dance around each other’s feelings and actions? It is always fun to meet up with previous friends from the islands, and Bouldin gives us several other past characters that help with the continuity of the series. I especially resonated with Kara, who felt like no one listened to her ideas. Suddenly, she finds herself committed to a project that is out of her league. Will she learn the lessons God has for her?
I found myself wishing I knew Trent’s father. He sounds like a wonderful man to have in your corner and such a great picture of God as our loving Heavenly Father. I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own. Notable Quotables: “God’s got this…Let Him carry you. He’s the master of the waves, and only He can turn back the tide.”
“…he’d decided to learn something new, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and accepting that the future held more than a past mistake.”
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Great! God Can Conquer Pasts & Love Issues
About the Author
Tabitha Bouldin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has been writing since 2015. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, you’ll find her curled up with a book. Tabitha’s genre of choice is Contemporary Christian Romance which she describes as: Adventure with heart.
More from Tabitha
I love animals. Always have. I was the kid who always brought home the injured animals and tried to make them better. I am the adult who feels guilty for walking by a hungry cat without feeding it.
When I write, those animal-loving tendencies come out. My characters will rescue animals, care for them, and love them unconditionally. My contributions to the Independence Islands are no different. When it began, I knew I needed a pet groomer, and the animal shelter developed from Mel’s love of animals. That’s when Trent showed up.
Trent walked onto the page as Mel’s partner in founding the animal shelter, Forever Pals, but I didn’t know he wanted his story told until several months after I started writing the series. I tried putting him off, but Trent was having none of that. He’s a bit overzealous and ready to share his love story with you, even if he’d rather I didn’t tell you about his troubled past.
The more I dove into Trent’s story, the more I realized he’s the kind of guy you’d call in the middle of the night when a stray dog shows up in your backyard. He doesn’t care. He’d upend his entire life to care for the animals, and he loves each one instantly, no questions asked. People…not so much.
I had the best time writing this story. Footprints on Her Heart is one of those books that I fell in love with from the very beginning. The story put itself on the page, all I had to do was be the engine and let it come to life. Those are my favorite. I wish every book came as easily as Footprints. Even though that isn’t the case, I’ll always hold this one as a dear friend. Kara and Trent make such a cute couple that I think they need to make an appearance in every island book I write from here on out.
Amelia Balfour has one dream. . .to tour Egypt as a travel writer. But when her wish is finally within reach, her father dies, and her malformed brother Colin depends upon her to arrange for a revolutionary surgery. Amelia returns home, hoping he’ll recover before the ship sails for Cairo. Former Navy surgeon Graham Lambert is sick—of travelling, loneliness, and especially the injustice of the world. Leaving behind the military, he partners with a renowned surgeon, the man who promises new life to Amelia’s brother. But just as the operation begins, Graham suspects the surgeon is a fraud. After a botched procedure, Colin goes mad and escapes, terrorizing their neighbor, author Mary Godwin—planting the seed for her greatest creation, Frankenstein. Can Amelia and Graham stop Colin before he destroys everyone in his path and find the tender soul still trapped inside…or will they be too late?
“I have learned never to be quick to judge, for not all are as they appear at first meeting.”
Nobody writes Regency romance quite as eloquently as Michelle Griep. And now Michelle Griep adds Gothic to her expertly crafted subgenres as well. We start Lost in Darkness, #1 Of Monsters and Men, in 1815 London. There we discover Amelia Balfour, a travel journalist, hoping to leave for her dream trip to Egypt. Instead, she unexpectedly finds herself caring for her brother, Colin, whose physical deformities cause him to be a recluse from society. Few make the effort to see past the outer man to discover the gentle soul inside. Will the two doctors who claim they can help Colin, be able to do such an incredible surgery as to make Colin’s form and visage passable to society? Or will there be unexpected problems on this quest for healing?
Griep is an Anglophile with a great love for the historical literature of the period. Rather than retell Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Griep imagines a scenario that would inspire Shelley’s masterpiece. And what an intriguing and suspenseful novel Griep pens! I love all the philosophical questions Griep raises while keeping the reader enthralled with the romantic, gothic atmosphere. How far can a doctor experiment on humans before he has crossed an ethical line? When has one stopped trying to help, and started trying to gain power and prestige at a deep cost to others? “If one could mend the mind, one could bend the mind…” At what cost does one desire success? Many characters must wrestle with this issue.
I loved seeing Graham Lambert progressively develop a spine. Will he actually continue to exert the new muscle he has developed, or shrink back when push comes to shove?
I enjoyed the inclusion of a certain waif. I am a sucker for children in stories, and this one doesn’t fit the mold waifs are usually relegated to.
One more note: I love when slightly dark or suspenseful books have some comic relief. Griep includes this with notes of humor from the maid, off-setting the seriousness and tragedy being presented. Bravo!!
Hard to pick just a few Notable Quotables!
“If houses had souls, this one was clearly bound for Hades.”
“Do not live your lives looking over your shoulder, wondering what others think of your behaviour. It is God you will answer to one day, not society.”
“…the most holy band of society is friendship.”
“There was no cure for fear or despair, leastwise not in his bag of tools.”
“Trust must ultimately rest on God, not in folklore, which is flimsy at best and malignant at worst.”
“Yet I find it is not justice so much as mercy that makes all things right.”
“Family, no matter the size of it, is precious. Never leave a loved one behind.”
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent!! An Awesome Gothic Regency, Full of Truth Amid the Shadows
About the Author
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan.
More from Michelle
Are You a Monster Too?
“Look at that! The fattest girl in the class is the first one to get in line for a cupcake.”
Those words, spoken to me in junior high by a clueless boy, are forever seared into my memory. Just because I wasn’t a willowy stick-figure who didn’t match up to magazine covers, I was singled out. Made to feel ashamed. Made to feel like a monster.
Have you ever felt that way?
Chances are you have. We are all poked and prodded at some point in our lives…which brings up a few questions. How do you deal with the sometimes ugly perceptions with which others view you? How do you stop trying to prove your worth to others, when in their eyes you are somehow worthless? Why does God allow such hurtful things to happen anyway?
These are the questions I attempt to tackle in my new release, Lost in Darkness. And surprisingly enough, those are the very same issues contemplated in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Now hold on. Don’t go rolling your eyeballs quite yet—which is the usual response whenever Frankenstein is mentioned.
Most people’s conception of this great piece of literature has been forever ruined by Hollywood’s green creature. You know the one, the giant with bolts sticking out of his neck and a stiff-legged walk. So not true. The essence of Shelley’s “horror” story is instead about a creature who struggles with heartfelt needs that can only be met by his creator. In this story, Shelley respectfully handles the subject of what we owe our creator and what our creator’s responsibility is toward us as the created…the very same questions we all struggle with.
As does Colin Balfour, a man with a heart of gold and a face that causes children to scream. In Lost in Darkness, he hopes to undergo a life-changing surgery that will end his self-imposed isolation. But what really happens is a life change for his sister Amelia and the surgeon who tries to prevent it all from happening. For indeed, even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.
Genre: Christian Christmas Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: November 26, 2021
“Time to dance, sugarplum.”
A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s office, especially one in particular.
Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of secrets.
When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo Natale and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.
A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off, too.
This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.
Totally Terrific!! Chautona Havig can write any genre she undertakes. In The Nutcracker’s Suite, though, she outdoes herself in presenting a suspenseful mystery mashing together a retelling of the Nutcracker, a 1920s Prohibition mob mix-up, and a romance with faith interspersed. I was glued to my seat until I finished, at turns laughing out loud and terrified. I get the distinct impression the author is having a blast with the creation of this story! As a result, the reader has a rollicking good time. I’ve read several Havig novels, and The Nutcracker’s Suite just vaulted to the top and into my list of Top Ten CF Novels of 2021!! The mystery kept me guessing and I never did quite figure it out!! Well-done!! I must admit, I loved Havig’s use of sarcasm, especially as it relates to Clarice’s thoughts. I hope there will be a book for Lily in the future.
I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“His ability to think dashed out and into the street where he was certain, it would be run over by a police car.”
“The lies are piling up faster than finished nutcrackers.”
“Did she just lie with the truth?”
“Not married, but I’ll remember that if I ever find a nice girl.” He didn’t say, “like you,” but Milo heard it and wanted to tie the man’s throat in a knot for it.”
“Keep her safe. If you aren’t a man of faith, become one and then pray until you can’t think anymore, but keep her safe.” It was a fool’s promise, but Milo made it. “I will.”
“…feelings always demanded an audience, even at the expense of truth.”
“Topo. It means mouse. I’m the attic mouse.”
“Every word the man spoke sat on a paragraph of threats.”
“People dying have a way of interfering with one’s shopping.”
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnificent!! A Rollicking Good Time IF You Survive Suspense
About the Author
Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours, and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
Here Are Several Fun Facts & a Secret about The Nutcracker’s Suite
You’d think that while writing a book based on the fairy tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, I’d have heard “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in my head as I wrote. Well, I guess for a brief moment I did, because at some point, someone actually says that. “Dance, sugar plum!”
But Tchaikovsky isn’t who played in my head as I wrote. Over and over, word after word, my fingers did their bourres and glissades across my keyboard to one, rather unexpected song. “Ballerina” (I prefer the version sung by Buddy Clark. You can listen HERE.)
However, there are so many elements of the original ballet’s story in mine. I thought I’d share a few of them.
Let’s talk about the cast of characters.
Clarice Stahl is our “leading lady.” It’s kind of obvious where I got her name since the original character was Clara Stahlbaum.
Clarice works for Mr. Dieter Meyer, the owner of Meyer’s Toys. He gives her the job of painting nutcrackers. So, it’s not too difficult to see the connection to Uncle Drosselmeyer who gives Clara the nutcracker, no?
All of 1925 Rockland is in the clutches of mob king, Mario Topo. For those not fluent in Italian, can you guess what “topo” is in that language? Remember… he’s the mob “king.”
But I think my favorite name of all is Emiliano (I call him Milo) Natale (Christmas in Italian… just sayin’) who is known as “the nutcracker.” He’s an enforcer for Mr. Topo, and that means he squeezes people until they crack and do what Topo wants. Let’s hope he repents!
Yes, I had a boatload of fun coming up with this stuff! How’d you guess?
I have a secret to confess about this book. I’m writing this post when I’m only about a quarter of the way done. I went to get the synopsis for this tour and went, “oops!” You see, I forgot that I’d planned to make Milo going missing a big part of the plot.
Guess who has to flex? I’d better get back to it. They need to figure out who killed our victim… and why. And before Clarice is next!
Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series
Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn’t spent much time with her parents and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They’ve been living double lives as government spies–and they’re only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family’s legacy.
Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors–not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.
Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents’ last mission?
Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.
Wow! This is only the second book I’ve read by Erica Vetsch, but The Debutante’s Code just pushed Vetsch into my must-watch authors.
An adventurous and resourceful debutante, fresh from finishing school, Juliette’s biggest desire is to return home to get reacquainted with the parents she has missed for seven long years. Unfortunately, upon entering society, she finds herself in the care of a drunken uncle and an overbearing dowager duchess. When Lady Juliette makes a surprise discovery about her parents, can she reconcile the faith they taught her with what she now knows to be true?
Daniel Swann of Bow Street, a young police constable, has humble beginnings that his superior never tires of reminding him about. Yet, when he meets Juliette Thorndike following a robbery at a wealthy residence, he is intrigued.
I fell in love with both of these characters. Juliette is kind, intelligent, and so brave, and willing to learn all she can about her new calling. I felt her pain and confusion in my own soul over her parents’ absence. Daniel Swann… well, for starters, Swann is very close to the word Swoon. Perhaps there is a connection! Poor Daniel!! He has parental issues, too. Plus, his job is in jeopardy because of unfair bias. The closer Daniel gets to Juliette, the more he realizes she is not who she seems.
Unfortunately for the reader, this book ends without a solid conclusion. We must wait for book two to see what develops in many ways. I will be first in line!
The epilogue and author’s notes are essential parts of this book. There are links to more information on certain items of interest.
I received a copy of this book from the author through I Read with Audra via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all thoughts are solely my own.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnifcent! Vetsch Becoming a New Fave Author!!
About the Author
Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.
Vetsch is the author of many novellas and novels, including the popular Serendipity & Secrets Regency series and the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
Do you have a fiction lover on your holiday shopping list? Look no further for a gift suggestion! Just in time for the gift-giving season, award-winning author Erica Vetsch is kicking off her new Thorndike & Swann Regency mystery series with the release of The Debutante’s Code (Kregel Publications). This new series combining a historical setting, romance, and mystery has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes. With that combination, where can you go wrong?
Q: Introduce us to the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series which has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes.
This story has been a long time in the making! It has to be almost ten years ago that I first thought up the story idea, and originally, it was set in Gilded Age New York. But when I began writing stories set in Regency England, I realized the original tale could easily be adapted to the Regency Era.
Our heroine longs to be reunited with her parents and have her debut season in London, but her plans go awry when her parents do not meet her at the docks and are, in fact, missing. She discovers that she comes from a long line of spies for the Crown, and she has a choice, either to finish what her parents started, or turn her back on her heritage and become the socialite she assumed she would be all along. Her mind is made up when murder is afoot.
Our hero is a Bow Street Runner, one of London’s earliest policemen, and he’s on the hunt for a stolen painting…then other valuables from the same shipment of rare items disappear one by one, and an art dealer is found murdered in his gallery. Each clue leads our hero closer and closer to the thief and killer, but he’s disconcerted to find that his chief suspect has become the debutante he finds so attractive.
Q: Tell us more about your leading lady, Juliette Thorndike.
Juliette is fresh from finishing school in Switzerland, where she has been for several years. Because of Britain’s ongoing war with France, her parents determined a cloistered school in Switzerland was a safe place for her to remain, especially while they were doing daring deeds for the monarch. Juliette is an accomplished toxophilite, avid reader, puzzle solver, and good dancer.
Most of all, Juliette yearns for her family to be reunited. She was a child when she was sent to Switzerland, and she longs to know her parents as an adult. They have been in frequent communication via letters, but it isn’t the same as being together in person. When she discovers that her parents have kept such a dire secret from her all these years, she wonders if she’s ever known them at all.
Q: Juliette has a somewhat fantasized view of who her parents are, yet she really hasn’t spent that much time around them. What happens to make her realize she’s never really known them at all?
They’ve hidden so many things from her—from her heritage to their activities and hidden rooms in their house. She has created an image in her mind of what life will be like once they are reunited, but now she wonders if any of it is even possible, much less probable.
She’s always felt secure in her parents’ love, but if they can lie about something so big, what else have they lied about?
Q: Why does Juliette not only feel abandon by her parents, but abandoned by God?
We often form our views of a Heavenly Father from our experience with our earthly parents, for good or for ill. Juliette has not been ill-treated by her parents, or at least she didn’t think she had, but if they could abandon her on the eve of her coming out in society (in what should be the most important year of her life), can she trust anything about them?
Their priorities clearly don’t line up with hers. They put their work ahead of their daughter. Is that fair? Is that right?
They’ve taught her that God is with her, that He will never abandon her, but can she trust what they have taught her when they can lie so easily?
Q: How have Juliette’s parents been preparing her to be a part of the “family business” even though they haven’t been a physical presence in her life? A variety of ways, starting with protecting her from the truth when she was very small. They also took great care in the school they chose for her to attend. She’s conversant in French and some Italian as well as English, has been taught the skills required of a young lady in the British aristocracy, such as dancing, deportment, music, and art.
But she’s also learned a great deal of history, logic, and rhetoric in her curriculum, as well as archery. All skills that will aid her if she chooses to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a spy for the Crown.
And her father added another twist. He wrote to her often, but always in code. A different code each time, growing more complex as she grew and became more adept at deciphering his codes.
Juliette comes to realize that her parents have been preparing her for her future role, but she doesn’t realize how quickly her skills will be tested.
Q: A Regency novel is not a Regency novel without a swoon-worthy hero. Just who is Daniel Swann?
Ah, Daniel. He’s had very little say in his life up to now, being the illegitimate son of a household servant. He’s done every chore that can be found on a country estate, from being the boot boy in charge of cleaning and polishing all the shoes, to helping the groundskeepers and gardeners with the weeding and planting, to working in the stables and riding the master’s horses out to exercise. In his own way, he’s been training for his future, too.
Through more outside influence, he was removed from his mother’s care, sent to boarding school, and then to Oxford with the understanding that his guardianship would end at his 25th birthday, which is fast approaching. Then he will be in command of his life for the first time…but he wonders if he’s up to the task.
Q: Daniel has a bit of a mysterious past himself—one that even eludes him even though he’s a detective. How has his past directed his career choice?
Daniel has no idea who his mysterious patron is, and he is forbidden from searching out his identity. He’s given other rules he must follow, including cutting off all ties with his mother. He was a bewildered, homesick child, wrenched from his home and shipped off to boarding school, and he believes his mother was only too glad to be rid of him, otherwise why would she agree to such a terrible thing?
Daniel studied art and history at Oxford, unsure of what he would do for a career, but when a Bow Street officer shows up to investigate a murder in the Oxford Canal, Daniel is hooked on detective work. With the help of his hidden patron, he secures a job at Bow Street, against the wishes of his new superior officer, who is always looking for a reason to dismiss Daniel.
With his past so shrouded in mystery, his current situation tenuous, and his future racing toward him at his 25th birthday when his patronage will cease, Daniel focuses on being the best detective he can be and hopes things will all work out.
Q: What kind of research was required to write a mystery set in the early 1800s? What are some of the methods detectives of the day would have to depend on?
There was quite a bit of research involved in this one, from police procedures to art history. Much studying of maps and the hierarchy of society, the lives of British spies, and fitting it all into the current political and social situations of the times. I had fun deciding upon the various items that would go missing, from statues to jewelry to artwork, and deciding upon different ways each piece could be acquired.
As to the police methods of the day, the Bow Street detectives didn’t have our current levels of forensic science to help identify culprits. They relied upon eyewitness testimony, circumstantial evidence, catching someone red-handed, and by following the paperwork/money trail. Some things have not changed. The main motives for lawbreaking still fall into three categories: money, power, and sex. Who has it, who wants it, who wants to deny someone else from acquiring it? And in Regency times, the detectives were still looking for motive, means, and opportunity. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Debutante’s Code is my first true mystery, and it’s all wrapped into a heist story, so layering those different threads together was a new adventure for me.
Q: Fans fell in love with the characters from your Serendipity & Secrets series. Is there any chance we might see some familiar faces make a cameo in your new series?
I am delighted that the Thorndike & Swann mysteries take place in what I like to call the “Haverly Universe” first created in the Serendipity & Secrets series. In The Debutante’s Code, several characters from the S&S series reappear, including the Duke of Haverly, Marcus, his duchess, Charlotte, and the Dowager Duchess of Haverly, who is a personal favorite of mine.
Though there is a host of new characters in The Debutante’s Code, as the series unfolds, more of the S&S cast will come into the stories.
Q: Can you give us a tease of what to expect in the remainder of the Thorndike & Swann series?
The next book, Millstone of Doubt, begins with a bang! Literally! A grist mill on the Thames explodes, but when the rubble and dust are cleared, a man is found dead, not from the explosion, but from a gunshot! Was the mill blown up to cover the murder? Who would want the mill owner dead? Daniel and Juliette put their heads together to sort out the crime, while Juliette juggles her new career as a spy and a debutante, and Daniel uncovers many of the secrets he needs to piece together the puzzle of his past. Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor) and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).
Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?
Behind Love’s Wall, the latest addition to the Doors to the Past series by Barbour, is a great dual timeline novel. Penned by Carrie Fancett Pagels, herself originally a “Yooper,” this romantic mystery is set on the magical Mackinac Island. Having a passing familiarity with the area, I enjoyed Ms. Pagels’s description of the Island, its landmarks, and the Grand Hotel itself. I had a little trouble with the dual timeline at first. This is unusual for me, as I generally read many dual-timelines without feeling lost. Eventually, I closed the book with a well-satisfied feeling that all things worked out, and there were some great twists and surprises that truly made the novel delightful. Bravo for a stunning conclusion!! The author’s notes were of great interest to me. They elaborate so well on the author’s research and separate fact from fiction, which I love.
Be prepared for the unexpected! Many of the main characters surprised me, like Michael. I really empathized with him as he struggled. I especially connected with Lilly, the heroine of the early timeline. How many times do we humans worry about a malady running through bloodlines or obsess over some parental issue we are sure we will inherit? Faith is a gentle aspect, bringing in hope and release from self-made prisons. Recommended!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Great! Busy Dual Timeline, Mackinac Island Hides Family Secrets
About the Author
ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at http://www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.
More from Carrie
Why I Wrote This Novel
I got a chance to write another novel set on Mackinac Island!!!
I’m the author of over twenty published stories. I have many books, both novel and novella length, set at the Straits of Mackinac including Maggie Award winner and Romantic Times Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. In the summer, I go up to the area and I’m blessed to sign books at the Island Bookstore—sometimes hundreds of books which is such an amazing thing I can’t tell you! Now that MHBoMI is out of print, Barbour has been helping by doing limited print runs for while I am up there.
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island was originally part of a full series that I pitched but it didn’t get picked up for all three stories. MHBoMI got picked up as part of the My Heart Belongs series that Barbour put out a few years ago. The second book in my original Brides of Mackinac series was heroine Sadie’s story, which was published as a novella “His Anchor” in First Love Forever collection. So I had two of my book babies delivered out into the world and Lily’s story sat there for a while.
In the Covid summer of 2020, I arrived in my home state of Michigan and over dinner with a close friend I learned that the folks at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were having legal trouble with their previous long-time designed Carlton Varney suing them. I’d been disappointed that the Mussers, who’d owned the Grand for generations, had sold the hotel but this new development really bugged me. While I was in the Upper Peninsula, I finished an Indy book, Dogwood Plantation, which only figures since I often write my Michigan stories while I am in Virginia and vice versa! I knew the only other book I wanted to work on was to complete my Brides of Mackinac trilogy (not exactly since they aren’t all in one series!) with Lily’s story. I also had a manuscript about 70% done that was my very first contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. When my agent encouraged me to submit a Mackinac Island story set at the Grand Hotel to Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, I knew immediately that the only story for historical I wanted to write was Lily’s. That meant that I needed, for this dual-timeline series, a contemporary story. That wasn’t just a chance sharing at dinner—I believe the info about the lawsuit was meant to be passed on to me one of those God-incidences. My modern-day heroine then became an established resort designer who had a trunkful of issues just like Lily did.
Was I ever glad that I had finally written my first contemporary Women’s Fiction (Butterfly Cottage) because that skill set came in very handy in writing the modern-day 2020 story of Willa in Behind Love’s Wall! This was the most difficult novel to write that I have done so far as I write in character and going back and forth between the 1895 and 2020 timelines could be draining. I tried to write each character and setting on separate days but that couldn’t always be managed.
I pray that this story will touch readers’ hearts. I pray that someone, like the young waitress I meant on Mackinac Island who had been spiritually moved by My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (she read her grandmother’s copy after her grandma passed away!), will read this book and feel that connection to our Maker. That’s what Christian Fiction is all about!