BLOG, Favorite, New Author, New-to-Me Author, PB, Revell

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

About the Book

Title: A Dance in Donegal

Author: Jennifer Deibel

Publisher: Revell

Released: February, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance

To fulfill her mother’s dying wish, Moira Doherty moves from Boston to the rolling green hills of 1921 Ireland to teach in a village school. She doesn’t expect to fall in love–or to uncover a scandalous family reputation her mother left behind years ago.

My Impressions

Could it really be that this is Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel? A Dance in Donegal by Revell is so gloriously rich in Irish culture, lore, and the magic of the Emerald Isle itself, a reader who is even the slightest fan of historical romance and mystery will be swept away. I certainly was.
In 1921, Moira Doherty leaves Boston to teach school in her deceased mother’s hometown of Ballymann, in Donegal. What starts as an adventure becomes an arduous trial as Moira finds the Irish folk distrusting of her and her motives. With a very small handful of friends, Moira must decide who or Who she will please and learn to live well with the consequences.
Sean McFadden, the young, searching, roof thatcher, is such a quiet gem. Thoughtful, humorous, quick to learn from his mentor, Colm, Sean is a deep well as opposed to the babbling brook personality of a certain returned barrister.
I love the warmth of Brid, and the great depth and wisdom of both Peg and Colm. What it would be like to have them for friends!
I love how God’s quiet voice speaks His Word into Moira’s heart, calming her and giving her peace. Comforting Scripture is quite naturally sprinkled throughout.
“Once again, the words allowed a sense of peace to settle over Moira’s heart. She might not know what the future held, but she knew the One Who did, and she knew of His love for her.”
Forgiveness, obedience despite consequences, and grace vs. judgment are all themes Deibel presents well.
So many Notable Quotables. Here are a few:

“When ya seek to love the Laird wit’ all year heart, soul, an’ mind, and then seek ta love others selflessly, ye’re a man who will make a difference in this world one person at a time.”

“Smack in the middle of what God is askin’ us is the best place for any of us to be.”

“The Laird can change even the coldest man’s heart.”

“It doesna matter what the world says I am. It doesna even matter what I believe myself to be…if I believe in the Laird Jesus Christ and what He did fer me, I canna be condemned.”

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! I expect A Dance in Donegal to be in the running for CF Book of the Year!!

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.

Debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, releases February 2, 2021 from Revell. Follow Moira Doherty to the wilds of rural Ireland in 1921. Available for preorder wherever books are sold.

Connect with Jennifer on her blog at jenniferdeibel.com or on Twitter @thisgalsjourney.

BLOG, New-to-Me Author, Purchase

Decoy Valentine by Shannon Kent

About the Book

Title: Decoy Valentine

Author: Shannon Kent

Publisher: Kindle Edition

Released: January 2021

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense, Mystery

FROM FAKE RELATIONSHIP TO TRUE LOVE

A broken engagement drives Susanna Kelly back to her hometown of Sweetheart, Texas and the arms of its quirky, lovable citizens. But her peaceful return to her roots is shattered when heart-shaped notes with sinister messages start appearing. The support of Daniel Sheppard, Asian American bestselling author and her childhood friend, gives her a much needed ally amidst the turmoil. He offers to play the role of her boyfriend to discourage the stalker, but Susanna resists. Pretending to be a couple? And with Daniel of all people? Who would buy it?

The note writer’s mind games force her to reconsider. Susanna accepts Daniel’s crazy plan, but her heart acts up whenever she’s near her decoy valentine. Comfortable, uncomplicated Daniel has turned into a full-grown man who makes her senses spin. As she tries to sort out her feelings, the make-believe romance has the opposite effect intended. Harmless notes turn into life-threatening accidents, and Daniel and Susanna must find out who’s behind the chaos before they can decide if their temporary relationship is a heaven-sent gift meant to last forever. 

My Impressions

Susannah Kelly is having a bad day. Or a bad three weeks, at least. Plus an unwanted suitor who can’t take a hint. How should she protect herself from the all-too familiar paper heart notes sent by a stalker, plus the wannabe boyfriend? Daniel Sheppard, Susannah’s best friend who has become a best-selling author in his three years away from Sweetheart, Texas, thinks he has the solution. Just be his valentine.

“It will never work,” she said. “No one will believe it. They’ll know we’re faking.” “We’re not faking.” Daniel met her on the porch, stuck his hands in his jacket pockets, and leaned against the railing. “You didn’t want to lie. Remember? We’re an honest-to-goodness couple.”

Author Shannon Kent sets Decoy Valentine in a small Texas town, preparing for their annual Candy Hearts Festival. The trope of (best) friends to couple is combined with a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and humor. The little town seems chock-full of quirky characters that by turns are very fun to know or very irritating. I would enjoy seeing more of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, including Lannette and Elise. While this was not a chiller, there were certainly some scary vibes going on, and Kent does a great job portraying realistic, flawed, lovable and unlovable characters. Now that Daniel and Susannah have their act together, I hope we see another lovelorn couple from this town.

Fave Quotes:

The Bible says I have to forgive you, but I don’t have to hug you.

Daniel was determined to go through with this crazy charade. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed under her breath. “Please, God. Don’t strike us both with lightning.”

She was so tired of being the strong one. Why couldn’t someone else save the day for a change?

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. I was under no obligation to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

When Shannon Kent earned an M.A. in Journalism, she never imagined her first published work of fiction would be inspired by TV shows from a faraway land. She loves the wacky, romantic world of Korean dramas and likes to share her opinions with fellow fans under the pen name Dramarookie at the Dramas with a Side of Kimchi blog.