ARC, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kindle, Love Inspired Suspense, New-to-Me Author

Hunted in the Wilderness by Kellie Van Horn Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Hunted in the Wilderness

Author: Kellie VanHorn

Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 28, 2022

Protecting the evidence
means facing down assassins and an unforgiving wilderness…

Framed for murder and corporate espionage, future aerotech company CEO Haley Whitcombe flees in her plane with a camera full of evidence that could clear her name—until she’s shot out of the sky. Now trapped in North Cascades National Park, her survival in the wilderness depends on park ranger Ezra Dalton. Yet escaping the wild will mean nothing if they can’t outrun their merciless hunters…

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Hunted in the Wilderness by Kellie VanHorn is a must-read for romantic suspense fans. From the first sentence that starts the tension to the last, you will be glued to your seat to find out what happens next. This story is a whirlwind of action set juxtaposing the corporate world vs. the beautiful, but unforgiving wilderness. Van Horn makes me want to visit the North Cascades National Park, with her compelling depiction of the beauty there. However, fleeing from one’s enemies as Hailey Whitcombe and Ezra Dalton find themselves doing, would be beyond terrifying!

I did guess one of the betrayers early on. It was just too obvious. But that didn’t make the novel any less interesting.

I did have a little difficulty figuring out who one character was. His full name is used twice on one page in passing, then he is referred to only by first name multiple times, even though he’s not yet a major player. Maybe I am the only one with this issue.

I had to laugh at the disagreements that Hailey and Ezra have. How true to life! Hailey hurts Ezra with a pointed barb. Couples often go for the jugular, and that sure felt like it. And Ezra’s comment? “I want you to stop pretending you’ve got it all together.” Vulnerability makes a person so much more appealing.

I felt like Hailey’s and Ezra’s struggles with trying to earn God’s favor, and an inability to trust God due to our past, are both very relatable. “Maybe she’d been thinking about it all wrong—maybe His grace wasn’t something she could earn, but something He freely bestowed, like this beautiful sunrise painted across the mountains.”

————————————————————

I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

————————————————————-

Notable Quotables:

You’ve brought a whole new level of chaos to my life.”

Maybe it was time for her to step aside and let Him be in charge. Had she ever even stopped to ask what His plan for her life was? Or had she always simply plowed ahead, following everyone else’s wishes and asking Him to bless her?

Strength and warmth wrapped around her heart. She wasn’t alone. God was with her, and no matter what happened, He wouldn’t abandon her. That was the solution to the equation, the answer to every one of life’s questions. Walking in relationship with Him.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great!! Non-stop action, gorgeous scenery!!

About the Author

Kellie VanHorn is an award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense. She has college degrees in biology and nautical archaeology, but she’s always found her sense of adventure most satisfied by a great story. When not writing, Kellie can be found teaching her four children, camping, baking, and gardening. She lives with her family in west Michigan.

More from Kellie

One of my favorite things about being a writer is living out wild adventures in my imagination. I get to enjoy all the action and feels without any of the unpleasant real-life problems I’d face if I were actually being chased by bad guys with guns. The more exciting and far-off the setting, the better! My family loves to travel and to camp, so we’ve spent a lot of time visiting national parks around the U.S. Our favorites include Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Devil’s Tower, and Badlands. We pile our four kids into the car, fill it to the brim with gear, and tent our way from park to park for weeks at a time in the summer.

For Hunted in the Wilderness, I wanted to explore a park we haven’t had the chance to visit yet—North Cascades National Park in Washington state. In fact, my first glimpse of the story came to me when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a picture of a lake in the Cascades. Inspiration struck, and I knew the heroine of my next book had just crash-landed her Cessna airplane in those mountains, and she needed a handsome, single park ranger to come help her escape the bad guys.

What makes this park such a perfect setting for a romantic suspense is not only the gorgeous scenery, but also the fact it’s very remote. The region is easy enough to access via road from Seattle, but most of the protected land can only be reached on foot, horseback, or float plane. Because I hadn’t been there myself, I relied on a topographic map and lots of research to help me craft the setting and make it an indispensable part of the plot.

Of course, now that I’ve studied the trail systems so extensively, I’d love to visit the Cascades in person one day. One of my teenaged sons who loves hiking has all sorts of plans for us to take a long backpacking trip out there, even though neither of us has ever backpacked before. I might have to work up my courage a bit before I’ll be ready to hit the trail without our minivan full of gear. 😉

One of my favorite things about being a writer is living out wild adventures in my imagination. I get to enjoy all the action and feels without any of the unpleasant real-life problems I’d face if I were actually being chased by bad guys with guns. The more exciting and far-off the setting, the better! My family loves to travel and to camp, so we’ve spent a lot of time visiting national parks around the U.S. Our favorites include Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Devil’s Tower, and Badlands. We pile our four kids into the car, fill it to the brim with gear, and tent our way from park to park for weeks at a time in the summer.

For Hunted in the Wilderness, I wanted to explore a park we haven’t had the chance to visit yet—North Cascades National Park in Washington state. In fact, my first glimpse of the story came to me when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a picture of a lake in the Cascades. Inspiration struck, and I knew the heroine of my next book had just crash-landed her Cessna airplane in those mountains, and she needed a handsome, single park ranger to come help her escape the bad guys.

What makes this park such a perfect setting for a romantic suspense is not only the gorgeous scenery, but also the fact it’s very remote. The region is easy enough to access via road from Seattle, but most of the protected land can only be reached on foot, horseback, or float plane. Because I hadn’t been there myself, I relied on a topographic map and lots of research to help me craft the setting and make it an indispensable part of the plot.

Of course, now that I’ve studied the trail systems so extensively, I’d love to visit the Cascades in person one day. One of my teenaged sons who loves hiking has all sorts of plans for us to take a long backpacking trip out there, even though neither of us has ever backpacked before. I might have to work up my courage a bit before I’ll be ready to hit the trail without our minivan full of gear. 😉

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 30

Genesis 5020, June 30

Texas Book-aholic, July 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 1

Inklings and notions, July 2

EmpowerMoms, July 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 3

Christina’s Corner, July 3

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 4

Book Looks by Lisa, July 4

Paula’s Persuasion, July 4

For Him and My Family, July 5

Blogging With Carol, July 5

deb’s Book Review, July 6

Simple Harvest Reads, July 6 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 7 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 7

Mary Hake, July 7

Betti Mace, July 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 8

Bigreadersite, July 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, July 9

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, July 10

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, July 10

Labor Not in Vain, July 11

Through the Fire Blogs, July 11

Bizwings Blog, July 12

Pause for Tales, July 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kellie is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

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/1f7ef/hunted-in-the-wilderness-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Kindle, Love Inspired Suspense

Fatal Forensic Investigation by Darlene L. Turner

About the Book

Title: Fatal Forensic Investigation

Series: #1 Crisis Rescue Team

Author: Darlene L Turner

Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense

Released: June 28, 2022

While interviewing the Coastline Strangler’s only surviving victim, forensic artist Scarlet Wells is attacked and left with amnesia. Now she’s his next mark and has no choice but to work with constable Jace Allen to unlock the criminal’s true identity trapped in her mind. Will they be able to recover the hidden memory and hunt down the killer before he strikes again?

From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09LSBFRYZ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3

My Impressions

“Did she want to remember? For some reason, the pencil seemed like home, but it also brought a paralyzing sense of sadness and pain.”

Darlene L Turner’s Fatal Forensic Investigation is a unique romantic suspense for me. Great action, constant danger and tension are present, as one would expect, but I loved the amnesia aspect, which I think is more unusual. It plagues forensic artist Scarlet Wells and renders her less than her usual capable self.

We get the backstory of Scarlet’s childhood tragedy in bits and pieces, which keeps the reader wondering. Sometimes, it takes bravery, to allow the mind to remember.

Another point that caused me much wondering, to my terrified delight, was that we begin to realize that SOMEBODY from the small community is, in fact, the Coastline Strangler (CLS). How fun as a reader to wade through each new person, examining each as a possible suspect, trying to figure out the villain before the CLS is finally exposed! Just like Jace Allen and Scarlet, we wonder if we’re trusting the wrong people.

There are extra romantic interests- hmmm… That always makes investigations sticky, awkward, and uncertain. And provides red herrings or paths to truth.

I liked how comforting Bible verses were brought to mind from memory, sometimes from childhood. God works that way, using His Holy Spirit to remind us of His Truth when we most need it.

A child in the center of the story is a sure way to grab my attention. Such innocence having to face such evil. Can Jace and Scarlet unravel who is ultimately behind this incredible string of murders? Or will their names be added to the victim list?

I received a copy of this book from the author. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

“God, how can I trust You when You keep allowing such heartache?”

“God knows what He’s doing, so we trust. Completely.” What a sense of calm that gives, if we truly believe!

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent. Will have you reading… FAST… till the last word!!

About the Author

Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning author and lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. You can connect with Darlene at http://www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders.

ARC, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Love Inspired Suspense, Purchase

Undercover Assignment by Dana Mentink Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Undercover Assignment

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Suspense

Release date: June 28, 2022

This K-9 will stop at nothing to keep a child safe.

When a little boy is threatened, Officer Daniella Vargas and K-9 partner, Zara, are assigned to pose as his nanny to uncover the culprit’s identity. Suspecting one of the guests in his inn, widower Sam Kavanaugh’s only option is to begrudgingly trust Daniella and Zara to help. But can they solve the case and its mysterious connection to Sam’s late wife before it’s too late?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Sam had done more than gotten under her skin. He seemed to have burrowed right into her heart.”

My nurturing heart loves this story! Mentink has a great understanding of toddlers, plus has done her police K-9 research well. Both act as great buttresses to the actual romance. Mentink so vividly describes the wonders of southwestern New Mexico and the Gila National Forest that the reader will put it on their bucket list to visit. IF they can disassociate the terror and suspense of Undercover Assignment from the park itself!

You can’t help but fall in love with three year-old Oliver, whose widowed father, Sam, runs a desert lodge. Sam and his FBI-assigned officer, Daniella Vargas, vie for control of protecting the inn and especially sweet Ollie. Each avoids letting others too close due to very different painful pasts. However, both Sam and Daniella share a strong faith and are learning to trust God even when they can’t understand why God works as He does. “He’d come to a place of acceptance that God had not saved his wife, but he certainly didn’t understand it. The definition of faith, he thought. To trust, even when you don’t understand.”

Book four of The Rocky Mountain K-9 Unit series, there is a thread presented that apparently ties all the books together. However, it is loose enough that you can enjoy Undercover Assignment as a stand-alone, which I did.

Sometimes Mentink just makes me smile, which is a great thing amidst romantic suspense.

“You’re a nanny of many talents.” She waved an airy hand. “Mary Poppins has nothing on me.”

and, “If there was a booklet on how to drive people away, she could probably be a coauthor.”

————————————————————————

I received an ARC of this book from the author through Celebrate Lit, plus I pre-ordered my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

————————————————————————

Notable Quotables:

“God loved all His children, dirty or clean, poor or comfortable, in the suffering and the sunshine.”

“People who were determined to do evil would find a way no matter what the circumstances.”

“If you don’t like the path you’re on,” she’d say, “you got two choices. Learn to like it more, or find the new one God’s got for you.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I always enjoy a Dana Mentink romantic suspense!

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a USA TODAY and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author. She’s written more than forty mystery and suspense novels for Love Inspired Suspense, Harvest House, and Poisoned Pen Press. She is honored to have received two ACFW Carol Awards, a Holt Medallion Award, and a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. Please visit her on the web at http://www.danamentink.com to sign up for her newsletter, or find her on Twitter, Facebook and Bookbub.

More from Dana

What a joy to participate in a series with seven other talented authors! A continuity series is a set of books, each written by a different author, and each with its own suspense plot along with an overarching series plot and characters. It’s a very complicated project to complete, but the fantastic part is chatting, collaborating, and sometimes commiserating with other writers. What a rare treat, since most of our work is done alone in dark rooms with computer screens and bottomless cups of coffee! This series was especially fun to write because of the whole wilderness lodge setting which is my favorite type of story. Picture it! Ancient cliff dwellings, a freak electrical storm, twenty-four hours with no power and a killer on the loose! That’s my kind of suspense novel. I hope you will enjoy this multi author series as much as we enjoyed creating it!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 15

Inklings and notions, June 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 16

EmpowerMoms, June 16

Vicky Sluiter, June 17

For Him and My Family, June 17

An Author’s Take, June 18

Blogging With Carol, June 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 19

Betti Mace, June 20

Texas Book-aholic, June 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 21

Blossoms and Blessings, June 21

She Lives To Read, June 22

Through the Fire Blogs, June 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 23

Labor Not in Vain, June 24

deb’s Book Review, June 25

Pause for Tales, June 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 26

For the Love of Literature, June 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 27

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, June 27

Genesis 5020, June 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 28

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $75 Amazon gift card and a signed book!!

(If the winner is outside the U.S., then he or she will receive an eBook.)

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/1eff2/undercover-assignment-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, Waterbrook-Multnomah

Potiphar’s Wife by Mesu Andrews

About the Book

Title: Potiphar’s Wife

Author: Mesu Andrews

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Released: May 24, 2022

One of the Bible’s most notorious women longs for a love she cannot have in this captivating novel from the award-winning author of Isaiah’s Legacy.

“Mesu Andrews yet again proves her mastery of weaving a rich and powerful biblical story!”—Roseanna M. White, author of A Portrait of Loyalty

Before she is Potiphar’s wife, Zuleika is the daughter of a king and the wife of a prince. She rules the isle of Crete alongside her mother in the absence of their seafaring husbands. But when tragedy nearly destroys Crete, Zuleika must sacrifice her future to save the Minoan people she loves.

Zuleika’s father believes his robust trade with Egypt will ensure Pharaoh’s obligation to marry his daughter, including a bride price hefty enough to save Crete. But Pharaoh refuses and gives her instead to Potiphar, the captain of his bodyguards: a crusty bachelor twice her age, who would rather have a new horse than a Minoan wife.

Abandoned by her father, rejected by Pharaoh, and humiliated by Potiphar’s indifference, Zuleika yearns for the homeland she adores. In the political hotbed of Egypt’s foreign dynasty, her obsession to return to Crete spirals into deception. When she betrays Joseph—her Hebrew servant with the face and body of the gods—she discovers only one love is worth risking everything.

My Impressions

How on earth can anyone make an even semi-palatable character out of one of the most infamous women of the Bible?! Potiphar’s Wife by Mesu Andrews will open your eyes to possible reasons why this much-maligned lady acts as she does. Your attitude may be more sympathetic as you consider this well-researched historical novelty that is careful to agree with any actual Biblical truth we are provided of her and her times. Well-done, Ms. Andrews!!

This novel is unique in that it employs first-person and third-person POV’s. Only a very skillful writer can successfully carry this off, and Andrews soars with this style.

What a wonderful chance to glimpse the inner workings of an Egyptian courtroom. I loved the intrigue and the fine line between friendships and servants. Also, the relationship between friends that changes when one of them becomes Pharaoh, a god, yet obviously with human foibles.

Cultural differences are such a huge part of this breathtaking story. I kept saying, “Why doesn’t this character do this or that?” But Andrews opens my eyes to how training and environment make a huge difference in the way a person views and responds to a situation.

And the multiple love relationships within this novel are compelling. Some friend for friend, some husband for wife, some familial, some lovers. Ah… so well-depicted, yet clean enough to not feel shame for reading.

Since I have a penchant for picking favorite supporting characters, I will give two. Pushpa, Potiphar’s surrogate mother, and Ahira, who is Zuleika’s personal maid. Both are so wise, gentle, and care so much for others.

Oh, one other thing I loved that I must mention. Thank you for showing Joseph to be human, not perfect as we sometimes are either taught or caught!

I loved that the maps, glossary, and character list were all at the front!! I was also pleased with such well-organized author’s notes at the end. These were the best or at least most useful reader’s helps in a book I’ve yet read!

————————————————————————

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of the book. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

————————————————————————

A slave doesn’t always wear chains, nor does a master possess all power.

“No one should know everything about anything.”

“I can’t tend the wounds inside you, dear one, but they will heal. I promise. They may leave scars—ugly ones. But you can choose how those scars affect your future. Will you use the ugliest memories as the focal point, weaving every future event tightly around it with its repetitive themes? Or will you weave your scars into a larger tapestry with more variegated experiences that can comfort or instruct others?”- Pushpa

Don’t assign the sins of men to a faithful God. Elohim will never betray you, and He can protect you in ways I never could. Trust Him, Ahira.”- Joseph

“What if I don’t like your god’s plan?” She squeezed my hand. “Then we trust Him together for a future we don’t understand and perhaps see His goodness when we recount our past.”-Ahira

but let mercy and forgiveness become the ruins on which a stronger house is built.”

Sometimes God’s favor is simply a spark that keeps hope alive in utter darkness.

Trust His presence in the dark, but never stop hoping for light.

“Honesty is telling the truth. Transparency is telling the whole truth. Some are honest but become deceitful in the things they choose to hide.”— Pharaoh Khyan

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

5 stars because 6 are not allowed. One of the most powerful Biblical fiction novels you’ll read in 2022!!

About the Author

Mesu Andrews

Mesu grew up with a variegated Christian heritage. With grandparents from the Pilgrim Holiness, Nazarene, and Wesleyan Churches, her dad was a Quaker and mom charismatic. As you might imagine, God was a central figure in most family discussions, but theology was a battlefield and Scripture the weapon. As a rebellious teenager, Mesu rejected God and His Word, but discovered Jesus as a life-transforming Savior through the changed life of an old friend.The desire for God’s Word exploded with her new commitment, but devotional time was scarce due to the demands of a young wife and mother. So Mesu scoured the only two theology books available–children’s Bible stories and her Bible. The stories she read to her daughters at night pointed her to the Bible passages she studied all day. She became an avid student of God’s Word, searching historical and cultural settings as well as ancient texts and original languages. Mesu and her husband Roy have raised those two daughters and now enjoy a tribe of grandkids, who get to hear those same Bible stories. Mesu’s love for God’s Word has never waned. She now writes biblical novels, rich with spiritual insight learned through fascinating discoveries in deep historical research.Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell)–the story of Job and the women who loved him–won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year in the Debut Author Category. Her subsequent novels have released with high praise, shedding light on some of the shadowy women of Scripture. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) tells the story of the beloved shepherdess in King Solomon’s Song of Solomon. Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) tells the story of Hosea and Gomer and is the final stand-alone novel in the Treasures of His Love Series. Her fourth novel, In the Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) tells the fascinating story of Queen Athaliah and the courageous Princess Jehosheba. The Treasures of the Nile series (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015-16) included The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam and spanned Moses’ life from birth to the Exodus. Her 2017 release, Isaiah’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah), begins the Prophets and Kings series and explores the life and ministry of the prophet Isaiah and the tumultuous days of Judah under kings Ahaz and Hezekiah. But its focus is on the woman Hephzibah–a fascinating character in Jewish legends. OF FIRE AND LIONS, Book #2 in Prophets and Kings (WaterBrook/Multnomah), released in 2019 and tells the familiar childhood stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the technicolor detail of grown-up research and awareness of Babylon’s splendor. 2020 holds #3 in the P&K series and the conclusion to Hephzibah’s story, ISAIAH’S LEGACY, when Andrews introduces King Manasseh to her readers and describes the most wicked king of Judah’s stunning prodigal story. In 2022, readers will meet POTIPHAR’S WIFE, who pursued and falsely accused Joseph, one of Scripture’s greatest heroes. Joseph will, however, save all of Egypt and realize God’s greater plan, IN FEAST OR FAMINE, that releases in 2023.Mesu and her husband live in the Appalachian Mountains. She loves Jesus, coffee, her dog, and time with her grandkids–not necessarily in that order.

Potiphar's Wife: A Novel (The Egyptian Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel Kindle Edition
Isaiah's Legacy: A Novel of Prophets and Kings Kindle Edition
Isaiah's Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings Kindle Edition
Love's Sacred Song (Treasures of His Love Book #2): A Novel Kindle Edition
Miriam: A Treasures of the Nile Novel Kindle Edition
The Pharaoh's Daughter: A Treasures of the Nile Novel Kindle Edition
Love Amid the Ashes (Treasures of His Love Book #1): A Novel Kindle Edition
Love in a Broken Vessel (Treasures of His Love Book #3): A Novel Kindle Edition
In the Shadow of Jezebel (Treasures of His Love Book #4): A Novel Kindle Edition
By the Waters of Babylon: A Captive’s Song – Psalm 137 (The Psalm Series Book 2) Kindle Edition
ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, Kregel, NetGalley, New Author, New-to-Me Author, Read with Audra

Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

Author: Janyre Tromp

Publisher: Kregel

Released: April 19, 2022

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

My Impressions

“Sometimes God uses broken things to save us … Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.”

Broken… that is what so many characters are, in Janyre Tromp’s debut novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. WWII is over, but as the surviving men return home, many face the kind of difficulties that own Sam Mattas and his family.

Wives and other family not going to war attempt to keep the family homestead going, waiting their men’s return. When Sam Mattas reappears, his wife and family are left to wonder how to navigate the much less-than-ideal situation God allows. Is God still to be trusted? Does God have a plan for this mess?

This psychological thriller is immersed in the Southern mountain culture, with the heart of truth only revealed after much emotional upheaval (including on the reader’s part!) First person narrative, alternating between Sam and Annie, made me want to choose sides, then switch repeatedly until my head was spinning. Characters are so multi-faceted and fluid that I found myself identifying with even some of the “villains.” I must admit this novel reminded me of some great classics- not easy to enter into for awhile, but once I did, I felt like I had discovered a treasure by the end!

My favorite character is Dovie May. Elderly, life has not been kind to her, yet she remains full of faith, optimism, and encouragement for others to keep pressing forward. Wisdom is certainly on her tongue.

I received a copy of this book from the I Read with Audra Tour via NetGalley. No positive review is required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotable:

So many, but I will give my fave:

“We think everything eventually goes back to what we want it be. That everything’ll be happy and familiar, the good winning. We never want to travel beyond the point where everybody’s happy. But life’s everything after, and the question is, what are you going to do with the truth life drops in your lap?”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Fabulous Psychological Thriller of WWII Era

About the Author

Janyre Tromp is a historical novelist whose loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

She’s also a book editor, published children’s book author, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her family, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. And if you ever meet in person, you pronounce that first name Jan-ear.

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her website,www.JanyreTromp.com (where you can grab a free copy of her novella Wide Open).

More Behind Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

An Interview with Janyre Tromp,

Author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

 

In Shadows in the Mind’s Eye (Kregel Publications),debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense as she takes readers back in time to 1940s Hot Springs, Arkansas.

 

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

 

When Sam claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

 

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

 

Q: The back of the book describes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye as, “A deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense.” In your own words, introduce us to your debut novel. 

 

Charlotte Anne Mattas wants to go back to the way things were before her husband, Sam, left their farm for the war in the Pacific. Sam used to be her protector, but when he arrives home in Spring of 1946, his battle fatigue has everyone questioning his sanity and her safety… especially after he nearly kills his brother, then claims to see men on the mountain where no else has seen them. Are there really dangerous men on the mountain or is his twisted mind conjuring things that aren’t there? 

 

In the tradition of Hitchcock with a hint of psychological thriller, In the Mind’s Eye explores the illness we now call PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and persistent love in a world determined to destroy it.

 

Q: Sam and Charlotte Anne both expected life to go back to normal when he returned from the war, but that doesn’t exactly happen. How was life post-war different from what they expected? How does each of them respond to those differences?

 

This story actually began while talking to my grandparents over a glass of lemonade. My U.S. History professor had given us an assignment to talk to family about the Depression and/or World War II. Until that point, I’d had no real concept of what the war was like, either for the soldiers or their families back home. I guess I’d thought that the greatest generation slid back into life and easily became the loving people I knew my grandparents were in their 70s. When I discovered that wasn’t the case, I wondered how they had survived the fear and drastic changes. 

 

Like my grandfather, Sam glorified the home front, anticipating a glorious homecoming, delicious food, a soft bed, and an easier life.Charlotte Anne expected Sam to quickly become part of the teamagain as they worked their peach orchard. Instead, Sam has nightmares and reacts to food he used to love (I even gave Sam a reaction to orange marmalade just like my grandfather). Sam tends to jump to conclusions because he doesn’t understand the context, struggles with the physicality of farm work, and is overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done since Charlotte Anne wasn’t able to do a lot of the upkeep. 

 

At first, neither Sam nor Annie knows quite what to do with one another, but they’re determined to understand each other.Eventually they each open up to Sam’s mom, Dovie May, and she becomes a healing balm for each of them. If I had to give Dovie a theme, it would be: “You’d think holding joy right up against sadness would shatter a body. But it don’t. Joy, it sneaks in all around, sticks everything together, and finds a way to make you whole. See, light sneaks through the broken places.”

 

Q: In our current day, we are very aware of what PTSD is, and that it is very prevalent among men and women who have been in the military and seen war. What was known about PTSD back in the 1940s after World War II?

 

Although the general population didn’t shame WWII soldiers with PTSD symptoms as much as they did their WWI counterparts, WWII era doctors knew little about how to treat trauma of any kind. Battle fatigue, as it was known then, was treated with electroshock therapy (something that was terrifying and had limited success), and many of the men who suffered from it were often divorced, angry, confused, and quietly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t want to leave Sam and Annie here, so I dug for treatment options and talked with a few modern therapists.

 

In my research, those who fared best were often those who lived a little off the grid, in places where they could be physically active, with people who loved them and gave them the space to remove themselves when necessary. Sam also stumbles on a bit of a modern treatment technique by accident. Most folks have heardthat going for a walk can help with mental stability. What isn’t as familiar is that the rhythm of walking combined with talking can actually replicate bits and pieces of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy which is one of the most successful battlefield PTSD treatments.

 

Q: What are some struggles Sam deals with upon returning home to Hot Springs? Is he able to hide what is going on from those closest to him or does it become apparent to everyone around him?

 

Sam’s reactions to “normal” stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control. He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger.

 

As the story progresses and circumstances continue to slide sideways, Sam faces his own mental instability. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it. 

 

Q: Sam claims to see and hear things going on around him that no one else does. How does Annie deal with what’s going on with her husband?

 

At first Annie is supportive of her husband and backs him up. She lists all the reasons she believes him: He’s a man she has always trusted. He’s amazing with his daughter. He’s gentle and kind and strong. Unfortunately, circumstances continue to prove that Sam is unstable, and she’s forced to question his sanity. She is rightfully terrified and confused.

 

To deal with her husband’s instability, she leans on her family—Sam’s mom and brother. They give Annie perspective and help with both the emotional and physical toll of working through unexpected circumstances. One of the things I’m most proud of in Annie is that she doesn’t allow Sam to abuse her even by accident. She holds the line and doesn’t budge from that. It’s something I hope all people do for themselves. That said, Sam is horrified by the fact that he hurt Annie in his sleep and refuses to put her in any further danger. But he also doesn’t give up.

 

Q: Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an unusual setting for a book. How did you choose the location and how does it play into the story?

 

Even though the book idea started with wondering how my grandparents’ marriage survived the pressure of war, the book isn’t biographical. So, I needed a setting other than my grandparents’ hometown. For the characters that I was building, I needed a small town. When one of my good friends told me she had an entire book of stories from her family in Arkansas, I jumped at the chance to read first-hand history. Amongst the Hughes family stories, I acquired the basis for Dovie May and Hot Springs, Arkansas—home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country.

 

Well, I don’t have to tell you that mobsters and illegal activity are an excellent backdrop for a story with a bit of suspense. The book The Bookmaker’s Daughter by Shirley Abbott confirmed that Hot Springs mobsters operated with full permission of the authorities. In Shirley’s stories, I also discovered the foundation for Charlotte Anne’s father. All of which gave me a location and a cast of characters that could stoke Sam’s fears and make everyone (including the reader) wonder whether or not he was crazy.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do on the effects of war during that time period? What sparked the inspiration for that part of the story?

 

As I mentioned, the initial interest came from my grandparents and their stories. But PTSD is also something I’ve struggled with for years. I had some childhood trauma that I worked through back in college. I started writing this book using the nightmares and struggles I had as a kid. Then my daughter became very, very illwhich sparked a new trauma all its own. 

 

That said, battlefield PTSD has different components than the trauma I suffered. To research that, I had several long conversations with a friend who treats battlefield PTSD. She’s the one who reminded me that EMDR is, in essence, any activity thatuses bilateral stimulation to trigger both sides of the brain—thus the positive effects of walking and wide-open spaces. I also read Soldiers from the War Returning by Thomas Childers to get an idea of the authentic story of the men returning from war; The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. for how PTSD affects the brain and body; and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr, PhD, ABPP to understand the battlefield specific emotional wounds, and how that affects a warrior’s family.

 

Q: An author often writes part of herself into the story, or at least something she knows about. How have you been affected by PTSD?

 

There have been long stretches of my life where I was all too familiar with debilitating fear. I still have occasional flashes from my childhood, the rush of adrenaline causing my pulse to pound and hands to shake. I was terrified to have kids, to be the one responsible for their physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. The last thing I wanted was for them to have the same problems I had. But, as Dovie May says, “The best place for miracles is where we don’t fully believe, where our believing has run out.” My husband, Chris, and his family, as well as my good friend, Sarah De Mey,and my mom (who worked hard to get help), have been amazing role models for me as I navigate what it looks like to raise emotionally healthy kids.

 

All that peace came crashing down when my daughter became ill. She was hospitalized seven times over a few months’ time and the doctors had no idea what caused her illness. After months of visiting doctors to find out why my thirteen-year-old daughter was experiencing increasing abdominal pain, she collapsed at school. What followed was a living nightmare. Doctors found her abdominal cavity full of a fungal infection that quickly went septic. That was the first time we almost lost her. Months later, she’d lost more than forty pounds, and both she and I were wracked with nightmares, an inability to drive anywhere near the hospital, or be in a room with needles. To this day, I can’t smell rubbing alcohol without my body responding with panic. 

 

On paper she should not have survived, and I can’t describe the immense fear that comes from the Pediatric ICU or a parade of doctors. My girl is doing great now, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I didn’t finish the book, and hadn’t found the path to hope until after my daughter had walked out of the hospital for the last time.

 

I’m enormously grateful for EMDR, my therapist, and the grace of God that much of my fear is gone.

 

Q: The novel includes a good deal of discussion about the nature of evil and the character of God. The characters acknowledge that God doesn’t stop bad things from happening. How do they reconcile the hurt and pain in their lives with their concept of a loving God?

 

The problem of pain is one that even the best and brightest theologians and thinkers don’t have a perfect answer for. There are pat answers—God uses hard things to make us better or God walks with us through our pain. But when I was in the hospital, totally overwhelmed and crying in the bathroom so my daughter wouldn’t hear me, the easy answers didn’t help. And so I (and my characters) often sit with C. S. Lewis saying, “I never knew grief felt so much like fear.” Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope, and that the Sam she marriedis lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it. 

 

And so what do we do?

 

In the story, Sam says, “If you pop in the middle of the story, you might just mistake the hero for a failure or worse, a monster. But it’s the scrabbling out of trouble and finding the truth deep inside him that transforms that character into a hero of light and goodness.” In essence, “Remember that it ain’t over until it’s over.” I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work. 

 

Annie and Sam find their way to gratitude—for simple joys of a birthday Karo nut pie, collard greens, the sunrise, and mostly the people in their lives. Their determination to be the good in each other’s lives is what slowly, over time, turns their attention away from the shadows and back on the life they have. As Dovie May says, “Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.” It isn’t immediate. And it isn’t easy. But the sunrise always follows the dark night.

 

Q: How does the imagery of light and darkness, especially in a spiritual sense, weave throughout the story?

 

Early in the story, Annie says, “A body can hide where the light was closed out, but the devils can hide there just as easy.” The temptation for both Annie and Sam (and all of us, really) is to either give up (wallow in the darkness) or to run away from it (which only keeps us in the darkness longer). While wallowing or running seem like easier choices, they’re also dangerous and far more painful in the long run. Both Sam and Annie try to fight the darkness alone, each not quite trusting anyone else.

 

Throughout the book, they both learn that the dark places are really where strength starts. Since Sam and Annie are farmers, they come to think of it in terms of seeds. “There ain’t no growth without darkness. You know that better’n most. If you throw a seed atop the soil, it’ll get snatched away by the wind or the birds. You gottabury it in the good, rich soil, and then it’s gotta split open afore it can grow. . .. We were all made to grow and stretch into the sunlight.”

 

Q: You’ve been on the publisher’s side of things for many years, both in marketing and as an editor working with authors. Have you always wanted to write as well? Has anything surprised you being on the author side?

 

I didn’t start writing or really even think about being a writer until a few years into my career as the marketing manager for a publisher. I actually started college as a chemistry major and ended up as an English major by default. There’s a whole story in hereabout me being a sassy know-it-all seventeen-year-old punk, and my mom being right. But suffice it to say, the major change was me heeding my mom’s advice to do what I loved (reading). 

 

Anyway, I was freelancing for our editorial department, and our managing editor asked me if I would consider writing a book. It sounded interesting. I wrote a short novel for the middle schoolers I mentored at my church, then I did a few picture books for my daughter, and then I took a long break to raise my kids. When I found time to write a book again, it was so life-giving, I don’t even have words to describe it. I was hooked.

 

But let me tell you that being an author has changed drastically in the last decade. There’s a much heavier load to lift for authors now—both in terms of tracking story trends and marketing. But it’s also easier than ever to be in contact with readers. I absolutely adore the opportunity to chat with folks about their lives on Facebook, see their pictures on Instagram, and just talk books with the world. It’s crazy to me that I can chat with friends in California and Australia and South Africa and Brazil just by typing (or speaking) into a little box on a screen. I will forever love technology for that.

 

The writing community also took me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a varied group as welcoming and helpful as this group. They’ve been a tremendous support as I’ve worked through edits and marketing and all the highs and lows that come with publishing. There’s so much love and joy there. Julie Cantrell, Rachel McDaniel, Janine Rosche, Susie Finkbeiner, J’nellCiesielski, and so many more have been absolutely amazing.

 

Learn more about Janyre Tromp on her website www.JaynreTromp.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), and Twitter (@JanyreTromp).

Book Giveaway

The prize pack includes:

– A copy of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye,

– A custom made silver peach tree necklace inspired by the book,

– A “Light speaks through the broken places” t-shirt also inspired by the book.

Click on the link below to enter the giveaway.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b3c91bb32/

ARC, BLOG, Kindle, NetGalley, Revell

Looking for Leroy by Melody Carlson

About the Book

Title: Looking for Leroy

Author: Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Released: March 2022

It’s official: Brynna Phillips is done with men. They only break your heart. But just when she makes this declaration, her friend Jan convinces Brynna to join her on a camping vacation in Sonoma Wine Country. As they wind their way toward their destination, spanking-new mini camper in tow, Brynna recalls her teenage camp romance with a boy named Leroy. How can it have been nearly 30 years ago? All she remembers is that Leroy was a genuinely good guy and that his family owned a vineyard–in Sonoma. She doesn’t even remember his last name. Jan insists they look for him, and the search begins.

Beyond the slim chance they’d ever be able to find him are questions that have haunted Brynna for decades, including What is the point of digging up the past? and Can Leroy ever forgive me for losing touch?

Bestselling author Melody Carlson invites you on a trip to rediscover the carefree days of youth and, just maybe, to get a second chance at love.

My Impressions

If you’re looking for an easy-flowing, contemporary romance novel with a middle-age pair, Looking for Leroy by Melody Carlson deserves a read. The tone of this story made me smile and laugh.

Brynna is a divorced, elementary school teacher whose vice-principal invites her along on a summer camping trip out west. It is a trip that has the potential to change her life.

Leroy Sorrentino is the widowed vintner of a small California vineyard. Preparing to celebrate the historical longevity of the vineyard, two of his three grown daughters attempt to market and make Sorrentino’s profitable.

I liked the premise of the storyline and the predictable but realistic conflicts Carlson presents for her characters to overcome.

“Had he settled? Both in life and in marriage? He sometimes wondered.” This is a very sad, possibly tragic, thought for a person to have to ponder after it seems to late to make changes.

I also wondered if LeRoy were my friend, what advice I would give him about his love life. Each of his daughters certainly has an opinion! Some characters didn’t grow as much or as fast as I wanted them to. Honestly, people in real life are like that, though. We people don’t always grow as quickly and steadily forward as we should.

Sophie is my favorite character. She seems warm, accepting, able to see the best in others, and willing to forgive. Plus, she’s a hard worker!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads and NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Training dogs was much easier than training daughters.”

“Wisdom, understanding, knowledge. More than ever, she longed for those elusive qualities—because she felt foolish, confused, and just plain stupid.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great! Sweet Romance with Middle-Age Couple

About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at

http://www.melodycarlson.com/

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, LPC, New-to-Me Author

A Strike to the Heart by Danielle Grandinetti

About the Book

Title: A Strike to the Heart

Series: Strike to the Heart

(Prequel Novella: To Stand in the Breach

Christmas Novella: As Silent as the Night)

Author: Danielle Grandinetti

Publisher: Iron Stream Media

Genre: Historical Christian Romantic Suspense, Mystery

Releases: April 12, 2022 (I reviewed an ARC copy.)

She’s fiercely independent. He’s determined to protect her.

Wisconsin, 1933—When a routine mission becomes an ambush that kills his team, Craft Agency sniper Miles Wright determines to find the persons responsible and protect the woman he rescued. But the fierce independence that led Lily Moore to leave her family’s dairy business for the solitary life of a dog trainer and the isolation of her farm don’t make that easy. Neither does his unwanted attraction to her. Meanwhile, escalating incidents confirm that she’s far from safe.

Lily fears letting the surprisingly gentle retired marine into her life almost as much as she fears whoever is threatening her. As Wisconsin farmers edge toward another milk strike, one that will surely turn violent, it becomes clear that the plot against Lily may be part of a much larger conspiracy. When the search for her abductor leads close to home, she must decide whether to trust her family or the man who saved her life.

Get your book at one of these links below!!

https://www.amazon.com/Strike-Heart-Danielle-Grandinetti/dp/1645263525

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-strike-to-the-heart-danielle-grandinetti/1139873924?ean=9781645263524

https://www.christianbook.com/a-strike-to-the-heart/9781645263524/pd/263521

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781645263524

https://shoplpc.com/a-strike-to-the-heart/

My Impressions

“He might be an ex-soldier, a sniper trained to kill, but he prayed daily that kindness would be the trait people would identify most when they interacted with him.”

I love how Danielle Grandinetti marries Miles’s sniper’s skills to that of a tender heart! Strong, shrewd, and swoon-worthy, Miles is willing to sacrifice everything for those he loves. A totally relatable romantic suspense hero. Then, Grandinetti’s heroine, Lily, is a similar juxtaposition of traits. Fiercely independent, Lily is a compassionate, dog trainer who needs protection. She can push the ones she cares about to great heights. Now Grandinetti really had my attention, and I was swiping pages as fast as I could to reach the conclusion of A Strike to the Heart. While this was my first Grandinetti novel, it won’t be my last.

Faith is a constant thread throughout this novel. Lily seeks God out daily. Miles isn’t quite as comfortable with God due to past events, but one hopes and prays he will find his way totally back to God. Perhaps… ”second chances were meant for redemption.”

Miles needs redemption in more ways than one. He fails his team, it seems. Will he fail to protect Lily, who is becoming very important to him? Will he fail his boss? Lily’s family, who doesn’t care much for him?

Which begs the next question. In this fast-paced action novel, who is trustworthy? Who is treacherous? Relationships are tested. The milk strikes of 1933 were dangerous, yet Lily’s family is embroiled in the midst of it all. What, if anything, does Lily’s kidnapping have to do with the strikes?

So many questions!! So many possibilities! I suspected some answers, but Grandinetti successfully includes a lot of twists and turns until more than Miles and Lily were unsure.

I love to highlight a notable secondary character. Gio is so awesome. He has Miles’s back, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The special way Gio prays for Lily is just amazing and it teaches Miles how to pray effectively for a loved one at the same time. Maybe Gio will get his own book soon.

So many Notable Quotables…

“Whom should he fear more … the men who would kill them or the woman who tested the fortifications of his heart?”

“…the simple change of clothes caused him to go from intense protector to confident friend.”

“She would have hope for both of them until there was no hope left to be had.”

I received this book from the author. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! These Two Characters Stole My Heart!!

About the Author

Danielle Grandinetti is a book blogger at DaniellesWritingSpot.com, focusing on Christian historical romance, romantic suspense, and sweet romance.

Her historical romantic suspense (published by Heritage Beacon Fiction) releases in April 2022.

A Chicagoland native, Danielle lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons. She loves quiet mornings served with the perfect cup of tea.

More from Danielle

Because I had a lot of questions for Danielle about her book, she was gracious enough to respond and give us readers a peek into what goes on in the mind of a writer…Thank you, Danielle!!

Q: What inspired you to write about the milk strikes of 1933 in Wisconsin?

A few years ago, Wisconsin farmers were in a position where they had to dump their cow’s milk because it was more expensive to transport than dump. That made me curious as to whether it had happened before. Not only had it, but in 1933, farmers organized three strikes in order to prompt a raise in milk prices. 

Q: I love that you made Miles a trained sniper who prays people see him as a loving, caring person. Probably one reason I love this book so much. What gave you the idea to make him have two very different sides to his personality?

Snipers seem to have this distant, cold persona, but as I dug into Miles’ past, I realized his skill and his personality were at odds, creating an internal conflict for him. I had him wrestle through holding life and death in his hands as he held the rifle and doing so because of his desire to protect those he cared about.

Q: I love that you made Lily a dog trainer. (My daughter and I have taken our puppies through basic obedience, and years ago our daughters took our dogs through rigorous 4-H training for the local fair. It’s a lot of hard work!! How did you research Lily’s professional dog training?

I’ve also always loved dog training and have studied it myself for years. What made the historical aspect even more fun to include was because of the history of dog obedience training. In October of 1933, two women in New York became the first individuals to organize Dog Obedience Trials. As a nod to them, I made Lily a dog trainer.

Q: Do you rely on a team of writing buddies to help you when you hit writer’s block?

I do have several writing friends who help me with all aspects of my writing career. Two names stand out: My critique partner, Ann Elizabeth Fryer, who also writes Historical Romance, sees my rough drafts before my editor does and she helps me through plot holes and brainstorming ideas. My writing friend Beth Pugh, who writes Contemporary Romance, signed with my publishing house at the same time as I did, so I’m grateful to have been through the process together.

Q: Do you include snippets of yourself in your characters?

I think every author does to some extent. As for the characters in A Strike to the Heart, Lily’s dog training and Gio’s Italian heritage are two aspects of myself I included.

Q: Can you tell us about your next book? Is there a story coming for Gio? You have made him so charismatic, I certainly hope so!!

Yes!! Gio gets a story! I love Gio, too, and was so excited to give him a story, at Christmas no less. As Silent as the Night releases in September.

He can procure anything, except his heart’s deepest wish. She might hold the key, if she’s not discovered first.

Chicago, 1933―Lucia Critelli will do anything for her ailing grandfather, including stand in a breadline to have enough food to make him a St. Nicholas Day meal. When she catches the eye of a goon who threatens her grandfather, she discovers the end of Prohibition doesn’t mean the end of the mafia’s criminal activity.

Retired Marine Scout Giosue “Gio” Vella can find anything, especially if it helps a fellow Italian immigrant, so he has no doubt he can locate his neighbor’s granddaughter, who has gone missing from a local church. Keeping her safe is another matter. Especially when he chooses to hide out with his Marine buddy in Eagle, Wisconsin, the site of a barely-held truce among striking dairy farmers.

Will Christmas bring the miracle they all need or will Gio discover there are some things even he can’t find, particularly when he stumbles upon the most elusive gift of all: love?

Q: Lastly, you are writing at least a three-book series. Is it necessary to read the books in order, or would we just feel more connected to the characters if we do?

Readers do not need to read the three books in order. A Strike to the Heart is the main book in the series and the only full-length novel. To get a little back story and a running start into the conflict, I recommend reading To Stand in the Breach, the prequel novella featuring Lily’s brother and her best friend. Gio’s Christmas novella, As Silent as the Night, serves as a Christmas wrap-up that will hopefully have everyone getting a happily ever after.

Wow, I for one am ready for Gio’s story—yesterday!! Thank you for your time with us, Danielle!!

ARC, Bethany House, BLOG, Kindle, NetGalley

Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green Review

About the Book

Title: Drawn by the Current

Series: #3, Saga of the Windy City

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: February 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

Lives depend on the truth she uncovers.
She can’t give up her search.

A birthday excursion turns deadly when the SS Eastlandcapsizes with Olive Pierce and her best friend on board. Hundreds perish during the accident, and it’s only when Olive herself barely escapes that she discovers her friend is among the victims.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Olive returns to her work at a Chicago insurance agency and is immersed in the countless investigations related to the accident. But with so many missing, there are few open-and-shut cases, and she tries to balance her grief with the hard work of finding the truth.

While someone sabotages her progress, Olive accepts the help of newspaper photographer Erik Magnussen. As they unravel secrets, the truths they discover impact those closest to Olive. How long will the disaster haunt her–and how can she help the others find the peace they deserve?

My Impressions

Your value comes from a much deeper place than who your employer is. You were made in the image of God, and who you are is bigger than what you do.”

Jocelyn Green is an amazing author who accurately relates historical events while conveying solid truth in an unforgettable novel. Drawn by the Current is the third and final book of The Windy City Saga which tells the story of one Chicago family from the Chicago fire through the sinking of the SS Eastland.

While Green gives enough background for Drawn by the Current to stand alone, the book is so much richer with the memories of the previous novels. I enjoyed seeing old friends Sylvie, Kristof, and Meg again. The personalities of those three have matured and wrap the reader in the comfort of older, wise, and loved confidantes.

Olive fights many of the battles of a modern woman, yet fits within her era. She is a nurturer at heart, finding meaning in life as she helps others. She works at a life insurance company, and wishes to advance, but her boss feels women cannot use their brains. Olive deals with domestic abuse, PTSD, and loyalty. She desperately searches for the truth while concealing secrets of her own. I wholly identified with Olive when she at last learns a great lesson about herself and how God sees her.

Erik is charming through and through. I loved how he takes so much time out of his life to help Olive with her searches. He is so brave to protect Olive. Yet, he doesn’t protect her heart.

A historical novel of great depth, plumbing what it means to survive physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For the keeper shelf.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Forgotten Tragedy Remembered, Great Truths Buried in Novel

About the Author

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage. The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more. Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville. Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, LibraryThing Early Readers, PB, Revell

The Lady of Galway Manor by Jennifer Deibel Review

About the Book

In 1920, Annabeth De Lacy’s father is appointed landlord of Galway Parish in Ireland. Bored without all the trappings of the British Court, Annabeth convinces her father to arrange an apprenticeship for her with the Jennings family–descendants of the creator of the famed Claddagh Ring.

Stephen Jennings longs to do anything other than run his family’s jewelry shop. Having had his heart broken, he no longer believes in love and is weary of peddling the ÒliesÓ the Claddagh Ring promises.

Meanwhile, as the war for Irish independence gains strength, many locals resent the De Lacys and decide to take things into their own hands to display their displeasure. As events take a dangerous turn for Annabeth and her family, she and Stephen begin to see that perhaps the “other side” isn’t quite as barbaric and uncultured as they’d been led to believe–and that the bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty are only made stronger when put through the refiner’s fire.

Travel to the Emerald Isle for another poignant and romantic story from the enchanted pen of Jennifer Deibel. 

My Impressions

Jennifer Deibel’s second novel has proven to be every bit as fantastic as her debut. I fully expect The Lady of Galway Manor to at least be nominated for an award, if not win big. Why?

First of all, Deibel takes us back to 1920s Ireland, where social justice is fought for, and oppression is used to control people. It is a time when Britain is fighting to retain her hold on the island, and the Irish want none of it. We see a lot of prejudices, each about the other nationality. Whether it be Stephen, who dislikes Lady Annabeth DeLacy for her family’s representation of rule by force, or the townspeople who refuse to look beyond Anna’s heritage to her heart, hate and bitterness sew tragic results. Even Anna is forced to admit to prejudices against the Irish, originally assuming them simple and uneducated. One can’t help but see similarities to what is happening in our own country, with great strife and discord resulting.

Secondly, Deibel fills her pages with great scenery, exciting action, and relatable characters. Reading The Lady of Galway Manor is like a mini-field trip to Ireland with a chance to learn about the famed Claddaugh ring design. With two opposing political forces, there is plenty of tension and action. And the characters! Oh, my!! All are drawn so well, I could understand even the ones I didn’t like.
But Seamus is my absolute fave! He is a gentle spirit, attempting to guide Stephen to see each person for themselves, not their country. I love his way of getting to the heart of the matter as Stephen’s attitudes. So loving, so direct, so challenging!
He is a constant champion of Anna. “Hate is fueled by ignorance, son. The first step toward peace is the genuine desire to understand your so-called enemy. Don’t punish her for the sins of her fathers. Let her learn. Teach her. Guide her. And maybe one day you’ll see what I do. In both of you.”

Thirdly, the romance was thwarted. It peaks out of the novel, starts to emerge, and then is repressed so many times. Is it possible for a romance between Stephen snd Anna to survive?

If you read one historical fiction book about this year, I highly suggest The Lady of Galway Manor!

I received a copy of the book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. No positive review was required, and all thoughts are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Timely Historical Fiction from Ireland, but so Appropriate for US today!

About the Author

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher and freelance writer. Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic Magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona.

Her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, released in February of 2021, was the recipient of the Kipp Award for Historical Romance.

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, PB, Purchase, Revell

A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz Review

About the Book

Title: A Heart Adrift

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Released: January 2022

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction

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.

My Impressions

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.”

My Rating

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!

Just some of the books not to miss:

A Moonbow Night

The Mistress of Tall Acres

The Courtship of Morrow Little

The Colonel’s Lady

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

An Uncommon Heart

Tidewater Bride

and The Lacemaker

Look up Laura online for a more complete list!