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The Premonition at Withers Farm by Jaime Jo Wright

About the Book

Title: The Premonition of Withers Farm

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Dual Timeline

Released: October 2022

The voices of the past cannot stay silent forever.

In 1910 Michigan, Perliett Van Hilton is a self-proclaimed rural healer, leaving the local doctor convinced she practices quackery. It doesn’t help that her mother is a spiritualist who regularly offers her services to connect the living with their dearly departed. But when Perliett is targeted by a superstitious killer, she must rely on both the local doctor and an intriguing newcomer for assistance.

In the present day, Molly Wasziak’s life has not gone the way she dreamed. Facing depression after several miscarriages, Molly is adapting to her husband’s purchase of a peculiar old farm. A search for a family tree pulls Molly deep into a century-old murder case and a web of deception, all made more mysterious by the disturbing shadows and sounds inside the farmhouse.

Perliett fights for her life, and Molly seeks renewed purpose for hers as she uncovers the records of the dead. Will their voices be heard, or will time forever silence their truths?

My Impressions

“The mind of a killer is a journey into chaos.”

What makes a Jaime Jo Wright novel, esp The Premonition at Withers Farm, such a great read? For those who like “spooky,””eerie,” and a murder mystery, there is plenty of that vibe going on in both parts of this split-time novel. For any that have dealt with depression caused by life’s circumstances, Wright deals compassionately with this as we see Molly in the present day, struggling to survive another day. For those who like to see the power of a good friendship, I loved the support that Sidney provides to Molly.

Some will say that séances and evil have no place in a Christian novel. My answer would be, see how Jaime Jo Wright deals with them from a Christian perspective. She doesn’t wham the reader with absolutes early on, but slowly, non judgmentally leads to her Biblical conclusions. A very satisfying tale from all threads involved!

Highly recommended!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher and NetGalley. I also bought my own copy for my keeper shelf. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“There will always be agony in the living. But it is in the agony that we discover our roots, and so often what we thought we needed wasn’t really what we need at all. It’s who we needed.”

“faith wasn’t something you achieved, it was something you fostered.”

“Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.” She dropped her hand, wiping a cobweb onto her shorts. “It means living with their memory until God reunites us. It means finding a resolution to their death so you can keep on living.”

“Funny how when a person took a step back from all the expectations they had on themselves, that grace stepped forward and picked up the pieces that made no sense.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Eerie, Chilling, Hopeful Dual Timeline with Surprising Connections!

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

PS. Jaime Jo Wright has just been nominated for and, as of this writing, is a finalist for another Christy award for her novel, On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor!

ARC, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, PB, Purchase, Revell

Anything but Plain by Suzanne Woods Fisher Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Anything But Plain

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Amish fiction

Release date: October 4, 2022

It’s not easy being the bishop’s daughter, especially for Lydie Stoltzfus. She’s not like other Amish girls, as much as she wishes she were. The only thing she does well is disappoint others. Leaving her family and church seems unbearable, but staying might be worse.

Knowing Lydie is “between” jobs, the local doctor asks her to fill in at the front desk for a few months. To Lydie, this is a boon. It gives her time to figure out how she’s going to say goodbye to her neighbor, Nathan Yoder–the main reason she needs to leave Stoney Ridge. Nathan claims he’s in love with her, but she knows she’s not good enough for him. If in doubt, Nathan’s father reminds her frequently.

As Dok spends time with Lydie, she recognizes symptoms of an uncommon disorder among the Amish. She offers treatment for Lydie. But will it be enough to make her stay? Or has help come too late?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Stoney Ridge and especially Bishop David Stoltzfus’s home is my favorite setting that Suzanne Woods Fisher has penned. While Anything but Plain could be read as a stand-alone, it is sweeter if you have read the preceding books.

Everyone loves Lydie, but having the Bishop’s youngest daughter work for them is another matter. As Edith says, ”Everyone says you’re an accident waiting to happen.” (How can some people be so cruel to others?)

Mammi, David’s widowed mother, comes for a visit. Before long, she informs Lydie, “‘You’re the reason I’m here.’ Mammi smiled. ‘You’re going to be my special project. We are going to fix you.’” Oh, the angst in that household , and not just for Lydie, as Mammi settles in! I love how Fisher weaves that one event into so many subplots.

I was slightly dismayed to find in this book that David himself is not perfect. He has always been such a humble, wise, and godly bishop. To find he has faults was indeed sad. May it be a reminder to all of us that we cannot put church leaders on pedestals. The only one we worship and adore is God. He alone is perfect.

I loved Nathan. He is humble, kind, knowledgeable about his organic farming, and eloquent as well. He is very forgiving, more than most.

One plot twist did throw me for a loop. I did not feel the reader had been properly prepared or armed with enough understanding to receive that twist as plausible.

Still, this is probably my fave Fisher novel so far for the unusual subject matter, (ADHD among the Amish) and the way Fisher deals with it.

I received a copy of the book through Celebrate Lit, and also NetGalley, plus I bought a copy to give away. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Act first and think later. Lydie’s life in a nutshell.”

“He needed to seek things to be grateful for, something Birdy was always reminding him of. Search for them like a lost coin, she would say, because his mind didn’t naturally go to gratitude.”

“The Lord God did not make a mistake when he made you. Everything about you was ordained from the beginning. You have to start believing that.”

“She had a knack for solving problems, for seeing things he couldn’t see.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Fisher’s Best Yet!!

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a Christy finalist, a Carol Award winner, a two-time ECPA Book of the Year finalist, and the Publishers Weekly, ECPA, CBA, bestselling author of more than thirty books. Her genres include contemporary and historical romances, Amish romance, and women’s fiction. She and her husband live in a small town in California, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and why. Most folks act a little nervous around Suzanne because they usually wind up in one of her novels. She has four grown children and enough grandchildren to keep her young. Visit Suzanne at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

More from Suzanne

Easily Distracted? 8 Strategies to Help Stay Focused 

Anything but Plain is a story about a young Amish woman with undiagnosed ADHD. Lydie Stoltzfus feels like a square peg in a round hole. She just doesn’t fit in and, to make matters worse, she’s the bishop’s daughter. At this point, the only path forward she can see is to leave Stoney Ridge. Leave her church, her friends, her family, her neighbor Nathan Yoder. It’s better to leave, Lydie decides, than to keep disappointing everyone she cares about. I won’t say anymore so that I don’t spoil the story for you.

ADHD is not a common diagnosis among the Amish and many might assume it’s not a real thing. Of course, they’re mistaken. ADHD is a real thing. While I don’t have ADHD, I do have many friends and family members who have been diagnosed. It’s challenging! And something we should all take seriously. Here’s why:

Evidence is mounting that a growing dependence on digital devices could be giving all of us some ADHD-like symptoms. Have you wondered if distractibility is becoming a problem for you? Or has a spouse or child or friend remarked on how often you pick up your phone to check a text message or scroll Instagram? You might remain physically present but your mind has wandered away. For me, the answer is, regrettably, yes.

There’s a recurring phrase in Anything but Plain that comes from an old-fashioned farming term: Walking the beans. Literally, it means weeding by hand. Figuratively, it means paying attention to our priorities. To pull the weeds before they take root.

One of the takeaway lessons of this book is to “walk the beans” of technology’s role in my life. So…I’ve been working on a few strategies. When I practice, I see a difference. Life is calmer. More manageable.

So…I wanted to pass these tips along to you. (If you have little children, these might not work for you. Not when your little ones are awake, anyway.) Hopefully, you’ll find them to be useful, and maybe spark some strategies of your own.

  • Make a plan. I start the day with an index card and write down the day’s priorities. And I check off tasks as I finish them!
  • Go off-line. Create an environment that helps you stay focused. Turn your cell phone to silent. If working on the computer, close your email app. Put yourself in distraction-free mode until you’re accomplished what you need to do
  • Finish one task before moving on to the next. Even little tasks.
  • Distractibility is at its peak during transitions. Build in margin. For example, arrive a few minutes early instead of rushing in a few minutes late.
  • When distractions are high, make tasks smaller and break down your large projects into smaller tasks to help you concentrate and give you a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • When I’m facing a big task, I’ll break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Set a deadline for a task. Beat the clock! Use a timer.
  • Rewards! When I beat the clock, I’ll take a break from computer work and pop up to the garden, text a friend, walk the dog. Something that feels good.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, October 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 7

She Lives To Read, October 8

The Write Escape, October 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 9

Vicky Sluiter, October 9

lakesidelivingsite, October 10

Texas Book-aholic, October 10

Lighthouse-Academy, October 11

Simple Harvest Reads, October 11 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 11

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 12

Inklings and notions, October 12

Southern Gal Loves to Read, October 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 14

Blogging With Carol, October 14

Elly Gilbert, October 14

deb’s Book Review, October 15

For Him and My Family, October 15

Holly’s Book Corner, October 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 16

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 16

Splashes of Joy, October 16

Empowermoms, October 17

SusanLovesBooks, October 17

Mary Hake, October 17

Bigreadersite, October 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 18

Blossoms and Blessings, October 18

Cats in the Cradle Blog, October 19

Pause for Tales, October 19

Spoken from the Heart, October 19

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, October 20

Cover Lover Book Review, October 20

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a 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/21e05/anything-but-plain-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, PB, Purchase

As Silent as the Night by Danielle Grandinetti Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: As Silent as the Night

Author: Danielle Grandinetti

Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

Release date: September 13, 2022

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.

As Silent as the Night is the Christmas novella to To Stand in the Breach and A Strike to the Heart.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions


“I find things, Mamma.” But can Gio find what’s really in his heart and reveal it before the opportunity has passed?

Danielle Grandinetti starts out her third novella, As Silent as the Night, in The Strike to the Heart series, with a bang. She wastes no time in setting the stage for the romantic interest and the suspense. Without gore, we are introduced to the post-prohibition world of some of the kingpins of Chicago mobs and their machinations. And, as usual, Grandinetti creates characters you absolutely love because of their big hearts.

Enter Gio, whose story I have been eagerly awaiting. An Italian immigrant, he learns to compromise successfully with both sides of mob gangs in Chicago, so he can feed and care for his fellow immigrants. Gio has a heart of gold, plus he is street-wise, but he has one problem. He can’t allow himself to get close to the one person, Lucia, he is really coming to care for.

Lucia finds herself in danger from the mob. While Gio offers to keep her safe, he can’t protect her heart. Gio’s inability to share his heart and past lead to trust and safety issues for Lucia.

Grandinetti brings in some issues that are as true today as they were then. “…being an American-born Italian left her feeling as if she belonged in neither world, Italian nor American.” This is still true today for anyone who is recognized as part one heritage, and part another. Even in these “tolerant days”, both groups refuse to admit acceptance of someone less than their ideal of perfection. How terribly sad and isolating!!

With the sprinkling of Italian words, culture, close, warm family ties, humor at some pretty tense points, and old friends from the first two books, you will be mesmerized by this Christmas romantic suspense.

While this can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the books in order:
1) To Stand in the Breach
2)A Strike to the Heart
3)As Silent as the Night

I am a launch team member for this book. I received a copy from the author and Celebrate Lit, and bought my own ebook plus paperback. All opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Danielle Grandinetti has quickly become my fave historical romantic suspense author! Realistic, Flawed heroes and heroines who love God, want to follow him, and are the kind I would want to introduce my own kids to.

About the Author

Danielle Grandinetti is author of A Strike to the Heart and To Stand in the Breach. She is also a book blogger at DaniellesWritingSpot.com. Her short stories have appeared in several publications and her writing has won the University of Northwestern Distinguished Faith in Writing Award. Originally from the Chicagoland area, she now lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons. Danielle especially loves quiet mornings served with the perfect cup of tea.

More from Danielle

I have this memory, from when I was a little girl, of Christmas at my grandma’s house. The table was expanded to hold a dozen people. The little Christmas tree stood on a table before the window, the Nativity beneath it. A gingerbread house sat on the radio cabinet, which played my grandpa’s old Christmas records.

In the kitchen, my Italian grandma, now a widow, had on a ruffled apron as she cooked the Christmas meal. She had short, graying black hair, perfectly curled, and large, round glasses. And, was still taller than me, though she was under 5 foot in height.

Through the haze of childhood memory, I can’t recall everything she cooked that Christmas, I just know it filled the table to overflowing. I can guess who celebrated with us, but I know the large table was completely surrounded by people I loved. And, I’m sure I received gifts, but that’s not what I remember from that day.

What fills my memory is the feeling of family and the love my grandma showed us, through food. My full belly. My contentment. The wonder of the holidays. All through the eyes of my young self.

In As Silent as the Night, I attempt to capture some of this nostalgia, lace it with suspense, and wrap it in romance. I show about some of the traditional holidays celebrated by my characters, from St. Nicholas Day to Christmas Eve. And, while Gio can find anything, love eludes him. However, Lucia may hold the key, but he must first save her.

Silent as the Night concludes my Strike to the Heart series, which began with prequel novella To Stand in the Breach. As sad as it is to say goodbye to the farmers of Eagle, Wisconsin, I have loved sharing the stories of Katy and Joey, Lily and Miles, and Gio and Lucia with you. I hope you’ll enjoy this last installment and I look forward to sharing more stories from other places with you.

Buon Natale.

Merry Christmas.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 13

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 14 (Author Interview)

The Sacred Line, September 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 15

Inklings and notions, September 16

For Him and My Family, September 17

deb’s Book Review, September 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 19

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 20

Inkwell Inspirations, September 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 21

Connie’s History Classroom, September 22

Betti Mace, September 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 24

Holly’s Book Corner, September 24

Labor Not in Vain, September 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 26

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Danielle is giving away the grand prize package of a Bag of Books Bundle, which includes a signed copy of each book: To Stand in the Breach, A Strike to the Heart, and As Silent as the Night, plus a Donkey Tote to carry the books!! (https://www.etsy.com/listing/1130961309/donkey-canvas-tote-bag-heavy-duty)

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/2159f/as-silent-as-the-night-celebration-tour-giveaway

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, PB, Purchase

The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I am so in awe of The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham that I doubt my review can do it justice. While The Heart of the Mountains is actually a sequel to Laurel’s Dream, it could easily be a companion book to Catherine Marshall’s Christy. Basham has so well transported the reader into the same world that Marshall originally created, albeit with different characters.

The style, language, and premise is similar to Christy. An outsider enters the mountains, is rejected by many, yet forges ahead with a mentor. As Cora Taylor falls in love with the mountain’s unique culture and people, I was in rapture as I read one the best Christy-like books out there(and there have been several lately, but all pale in comparison to Basham’s offering.

You will physically ache for the mountain people as well as the outsiders who wish to help them.

So many heroes in this book. But besides the Cora and Jeb(a couple who will live in my mind forever), Caroline McAdams is a wonder. Her trust in God is rock-solid, even in horrible times, and she exhibits unconditional love. She looks beyond actions and sees the heart desires.

“God did love His children. Anyway and always. No matter how broken or lost.” The characters in the novel grapple with (among other themes) social justice, racial equality, and fighting against unimaginable odds. Would Cora be trampled underfoot by all the obstacles in her new world? “People dealt with grief in so many different ways. Some wore their wounds better than others. Some sank beneath the pain, others soared.”

I love finding nuggets of truth for today, my “Notable Quotables,” and Pepper Basham provided so many. What a glorious book!

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit, plus I bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I am in awe of this Appalachian- life novel! Ranks right up there with Christy!!

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountainsstarted in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountainsis about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback 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/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, LibraryThing Early Readers, PB, Purchase, Revell

Where the Road Bends by Rachel Fordham Review

About the Book

Title: Where the Road Bends

Author: Rachel Fordham

Publisher: Revell

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Released: June 2022

The strongest love is formed in the crucible of hardship

As Norah King surveys her family land in Iowa in 1880, she is acutely aware that it is all she has left, and she will do everything in her power to save it–even if that means marrying a man she hardly knows. Days before her wedding, Norah discovers an injured man on her property. Her sense of duty compels her to take him in and nurse him back to health. Little does she realize just how much this act of kindness will complicate her life and threaten the future she’s planned.

Norah’s care does more than aid Quincy Barnes’s recovery–it awakens his heart to possibilities. Penniless and homeless, he knows the most honorable thing he can do is head on down the road and leave Norah to marry her intended. But walking away from the first person to believe in him proves much harder than he imagined.

My Impressions

“The farmland went on forever, and it smelled like happiness.”

One thing I can count on when I read a Rachel Fordham book. I know I’m going to love it, and Where the Road Bends is no exception.

Fordham writes with a sweet, historical romance, prairie-style. I love Norah King and her innocent, one-chance-left-self. She is stronger than she knows, and has a truly compassionate heart for others. How I wish she had had someone she trusted besides Jake Granger and Quincy Barnes to advise her!

Quincy is quite the dashing hero. I loved his willingness to share his faith and his compassionate heart as it prompts him to act, as well. He shares much of himself with Norah, trying to encourage her.

“But I don’t have an author weaving words together, ensuring a happy ending.”~ Norah

…“You do have an author,” he whispered. “He’s there, working for your good.” ~ Quincy

I think I identified most with the housekeeper, Mrs. Dover. She has seen enough of life to give some very sage advice to both Quincy and Norah.

Highly recommended, especially for readers of Kim Vogel Sawyer.

I found the story wonderfully unpredictable. So many heart-wrenching moments, where I wanted to grab up a character and hug them, or yell at them to make a different choice. (It didn’t work.)

I received a copy of the book from Revell through LibraryThing Early Reviewers, plus I purchased my own ebook. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“The dark is easier to cure than other fears.”

“…if you add light, the dark dies.”

“I’m afraid of coming close to happiness, only to lose it again.

“Trust is a finicky thing.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! A Heart-wrenching, Unpredictable Prairie Romance

About the Author

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Learn more about Rachel’s current projects at rachelfordham.com

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Midnight’s Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller Review and Giveaway

Part of the I Read with Audra Tour

About the Book

Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue?

Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend’s rakish brother.

When James Langley returns to his family’s estate, he can’t be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father’s stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love.

Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn’t until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed?

When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and his plans. Will they be destroyed . . . or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?

Click here to read an excerpt.

About the Series

While most stories set in Regency England focus on the rich, the young, and the beautiful, award-winning author Carolyn Miller decided she wanted to give readers something different for a change. Her new Regency Wallflowers series follows the commoners, away from the hustle and bustle of 1810s London, out in the Lake District of England. She tells the stories of women who are slightly older and have few prospects for marriage, women who might be considered “wallflowers.”

Midnight’s Budding Morrow is the second book in the Regency Wallflowers series. The first book in the series is Dusk’s Darkest Shores.

My Impressions

“God is a Redeemer, One who turns the weak into the brave, who can use the broken ones to save.”

I cannot love Midnight’s Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller enough. A Regency Romance, Midnight’s Budding Morrow explores themes of drunkenness; depression; plus, searching for acceptance and deep, forever love. Miller also presents the flip side. Redemption and forgiveness are centerpieces of this amazing novel I couldn’t read fast enough.

Unfortunately, the inferiority that plagues Sarah Drayton may be far too easy for many readers to identify with. James Langley’s behavior is also easy to imagine. Miller has done a great job of producing realistic, imperfect, and relatable characters, whose growth will depend upon whether their faith can rise to meet the challenges.

I loved the way that we see the maturation of both characters, as they grow into the roles they have been called to fulfill. Yet, both are imperfect, which drives the novel, along with the machinations of shrewd and conniving tertiary characters.

I could not read this book fast enough, yet I wanted to savor every word, every scene. And I ugly-cried. Books rarely make me cry. These people of Miller’s-for they are no longer merely characters on a page- will live on with me for some time. This novel hit every sweet spot in my requirements for memorable, top-of-its-category Regency Romance. Problems are impossibly deep, God’s Grace is deeper.

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I received a copy of the book from the I Read with Audra tour. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

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Notable Quotables:

“Nothing mattered. No one would remark on her absence. She was nothing. Nobody. Of no value. Of no importance. She was a failure. A failure as a wife. A failure as a mother. She had failed to be accepted.”

“God didn’t see her. He didn’t care. He hadn’t cared before, so why would He pay attention now?”

“Broken, but being healed by God.”

“It is most wonderful to see how God can restore the brokenhearted, and free those who have been bound to their pasts.”

“When we’re in the depths of midnight’s pain and darkness, we cannot see that God is still working goodness for tomorrow.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! This Regency Romance Catapulted to the top of my Top Ten Reads in 2022!!

About the Author

AuthorCarolyn Miller is an inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English literature and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She enjoys music, films, gardens, art, travel, and food.

Miller’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.

Learn more about Carolyn at www.carolynmillerauthor.com, or find her on Facebook (Carolyn Miller Author), Instagram (@CarolynMillerAuthor), and Twitter (@CarolynMAuthor).

Giveaway

Click the link below to enter the giveaway of Carolyn’s book, Midnight’s Budding Morrow!!

https://www.audrajennings.com/2022/05/win-copy-of-midnights-budding-morrow.html

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When the Meadow Blooms by Ann H Gabhart Review

About the Book

Title: When the Meadow Blooms

Author: Ann H Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Released: May 3, 2022

From the back cover:

Hope blooms at Meadowland

If any place on God’s earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law’s Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past–the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls’ experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, past troubles become rich soil in which faith can grow.

Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother’s widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again.

But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing.

My Impressions

“Are you fey, child?”…””Is that the same as tetched in the head?…If so, I don’t think I am. My mother told me I wasn’t and not to pay mind to anyone who said I was.”

“Most people have some life scars, Miss Warfield.

Sometimes they show, sometimes they don’t.”

“Scars aren’t a sign of wickedness. Mistreating children is a sign of wickedness.”- Calla

Ann H Gabhart has been a favorite author of mine for years now. Employing uncomplicated, warm, and homey language, Gabhart invites us into the lives of a fractured family trying to find normalcy in When the Meadows Bloom. Rose Meadows has spent years recovering from TB at a sanitarium. Her young daughters are left in a children’s home that promises to care well for them until she returns. Rose finally decides she is ready to well enough to leave snd reclaim the girls, but finds she must have someone to stay with. Enter her late husband’s reclusive, taciturn brother who owns a beautiful farm. Not promising new beginnings.

This book made me want to cry. To think that children’s home workers could be two-faced and not properly care for those in their charge.

I loved the tertiary characters who were not in charge, but who did what they could to lighten others’ burdens. Those who saw beyond their own needs or in one case, world.

I loved how even scarred hearts had openings where love and care eked out for the downtrodden. Which, I think, amazed even the persons suddenly showing such compassion!

If you love kids at all, you will love both fearful Calla and dreamy Sienna! They are so very different, yet love each other fiercely. You will only want the happiest of endings for these two wise-beyond-their-years, deeply scarred little girls. And you may come to care for the adults who love them, as well.

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I received a copy of the book from Library Thing Early Reviewers. I also bought a copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

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Notable Quotables:

Meadowland. The very name sounded like heaven.

You need a purpose other than what you are to somebody else.

Secrets nearly always surface eventually and bring with them troubles.

He could drown in those eyes of hers. “You are trespassing on my heart.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! A Heartwarming Historical of Healing Scars

About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Along a Storied Trail, An Appalachian Summer, River to Redemption, These Healing Hills, and Angel Sister, along with several Shaker novels–The Refuge, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. Learn more at http://www.annhgabhart.com.

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Counterfeit Love by Crystal Caudill Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Counterfeit Love

Author: Crystal Caudill

Series: #1 Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age

Publisher: Kregel

Released: March 2022

Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves–or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he’s been sent to track down?

After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name–and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home–and the truth.

After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a notorious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiance is connected. Can he really believe the woman he loved is a willing participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career–but that’s better than failing her twice in one lifetime.

They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there’s no question they’re both still keeping secrets–and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.

To read an excerpt of Counterfeit Love click here.

My Impressions

Ah, a deliciously, satisfying debut novel of the Gilded Age from Crystal Caudill. A couple, Theresa Payne and Broderick Cosgrove, once engaged, must determine if they can trust each other and if there is any hope for a rekindled romance. Will they be able to work together to uncover the true counterfeiters in Cincinnati?

Caudill emphasizes themes of trust, forgiveness, and family as she provides plenty of emotion, action, and truth. “Even if… “ is a big question that Theresa grapples with mightily. The novel is well-paced, balancing all the threads together- romance, history, suspense, and life lessons- delightfully.

Broderick is the long-absent love; tall, charming, and witty. But, he is shrouded in mystery. His methods are a little suspect. His results, well, not quick enough for the boss. Is he a man of faith and integrity or one who would play Theresa and his partners for fools?

Theresa is wonderfully headstrong, intensely loyal, and also very intelligent. Is she intelligent enough to figure out her grandfather’s secrets? Loyalty is a great quality if one places it in the right person. Can Theresa discern who to trust with her secrets? Theresa tends to be quick to forgive and allow most people second chances. I loved this about her, but sure rooted for her trust not to be abused!

While Theresa and Broderick are relatable and sure to earn the reader’s loyalty, other characters kept hopping the good guy/bad guy fence for me. What I thought of characters like Isaacs, Lydia, Abraham, Mrs. Hawking, Grandfather and others was variable. This fluidity made the story very suspenseful and I couldn’t put it down!

With thoughtful questions at the end, this would be a good book for a book club discussion.

I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through I Read with Audra. (I also bought a copy for my keeper shelf.) No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Nathaniel wronged you, but God convicted him, and he’s a different man now.”

“It’s so nice to be together again. Isn’t it?” Theresa squeezed their arms…”“About as nice as an outhouse in summer.” …”Then I suppose it’s a good thing I have plumbing.”

“Feelings change, and they can lie, but God’s presence is constant and true. Whether we feel Him or not.”

Love, not blood, makes a family.

Family. The word stuck in her throat like a lozenge, melting to soothe an ache she’d long accepted as permanent. Her blood relatives were gone, but the love flanking either side of her pulsed with life and healing. They may not always see eye to eye, but they cared. More than that, they wanted her.

God answered Theresa’s prayers this time, but that didn’t mean He would in the future. Could she trust Him with what little she had left? But trust didn’t mean she’d get what she wanted. So what did it mean?

“…no matter what happens or what you think you’ve lost, you cannot lose God….

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! This is a Satisfying Debut Novel of the Gilded Age, and I’m looking forward to the next two in the series!!

About the Author

Crystal Caudill is the author of “dangerously good historical romance,” with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW.

She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn’t writing, Caudill can be found playing board games with her family, drinking hot tea, or reading other great books at her home outside Cincinnati, Ohio.

Learn more at crystalcaudill.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Giveaway

Enter to Win a copy of Crystal Caudill’s book at the Rafflecopter site below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b3c91bb31/

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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.

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A Heart Deceived by Michelle Griep Review

About the Book

Title: A Heart Deceived

Author: Michelle Griep

Publisher: David C. Cook

Released: June 2013

Genre: Gothic Regency

MIRI BRAYDEN teeters on a razor’s edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he’ll be committed to an asylum—and she’ll be sent to the poor house.

ETHAN GOODWIN’s been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law…from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. When Ethan Goodwin shows up on Miri’s doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces.

Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free. 

My Impressions

Recently I discovered some of Michelle Griep’s earlier books that I hadn’t read. A Heart Deceived is a gripping Gothic regency, much along with the style of her latest, Lost in Darkness. In fact, A Heart Deceived could easily be a part of Griep’s newest series, Of Monsters and Men. Maybe not the physical type of monster, but a monster, nonetheless.

I loved poor, conflicted Miri Brayden. She is torn between fearing and loving her brother, who alternates between treating her hatefully and regressing into partial insanity. Can she keep him safe and both of them housed and respected? What will the arrival of Ethan Goodwin do to her physical and emotional stability?

I loved Ethan because he is both despicable and charming. God gets ahold of his life through John Newton and transforms his desires. But will it be soon enough to salvage his character and keep him from reaping the whirlwind his wastrel life has sown?

Best supporting actor award goes to John Newton, whom we meet as an older, merciful clergy who understands depravity, grace, and faith. He is not afraid to present God to the basest of society. He does so with such humor, love, directness, and confidence that one can’t help but like him. If Griep portrays him correctly, what a transformation God made in his life! Newton’s goal is then to transform as many other lives for the kingdom as possible, but he is so winsome and positive about it!
“God believes in you. Your belief or lack of it doesn’t change His existence.” “When we are at our weakest, God’s at His strongest.”

Michelle Griep had me smiling so many times, even as she wrote about very serious topics. Her ability to turn a phrase at a precise moment gave comic relief to extremely suspenseful scenes. I love that! “‘Your brother treads in dangerous waters, Miss Brayden. Dangerous and deep. See if you can talk some sense into the man.’
Miri dipped a curtsy. She might more easily talk a chicken into giving milk. “And I chortled at, “Why did it never fail that her most wicked thoughts crept out in the holiest of places?”

Jails and insane asylums were horrible places in the regency era, and Griep provides an accurate, eerie look at both. You will think you are in either location with our hapless characters.

The climax and resolution of this wonderful novel are superb, just like the rest of the book. The action is very quick.

A Griep book is always full of “Notable Quotables,” treasures of words, often Biblically-based, that transcend the time into our present lives. How I love this feature of Griep’s books!

If you haven’t discovered this early Griep work, the time to change that omission is now! Most highly recommended!!

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Gothic Regency Highly Recommended!

About the Author

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

You can connect with Michelle on her website, http://michellegriep.com

or on Twitter @michellegriep.