After surviving a sudden avalanche, mountain survival expert Jayla Hoyt and her search-and-rescue K-9 discover that it was no accident—someone deliberately triggered the mountain explosion. To uncover the culprit, she’ll have to partner with Alaska park ranger Bryson Clarke, a man she doesn’t trust. But when the investigators become targets, can they capture the criminal mastermind…before they’re buried alive?
From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.
K-9 Search and Rescue
Book 1: Desert Rescue by Lisa Phillips Book 2: Trailing a Killer by Carol J. Post Book 3: Mountain Survival by Christy Barritt Book 4: Search and Defend by Heather Woodhaven Book 5: Following the Trail by Lynette Eason Book 6: Dangerous Mountain Rescue by Christy Barritt Book 7: Wilderness Hunt by Lisa Phillips Book 8: Alaskan Mountain Search by Sarah Varland Book 9: Alaskan Avalanche Escape by Darlene L. Turner
Darlene L Turner starts Alaskan Avalanche Escape with a heart-stopping mountain tragedy and the action never lets up from that moment on. If you’re a fan of search and rescue dogs, the Alaskan wilderness, and romantic suspense, you’ll want to grab up this book!
When mountain survival expert Jayla Hoyt’s team loses an important member,
the ranger sent to help her is one she considers useless.
Slowly we see why Bryson Clarke has a failure in his past, and how hard he works to earn both Jayla’s trust and that of his earthly father. Yet, he needs to turn over his one paralyzing fear to his Heavenly Father and trust Him to get out of some very bad situations.
We also see the failure in Jayla’s past, as well as a couple of very traumatizing events that are sure to haunt her for life if left undealt with. Will Jayla find the strength to face her past, while trying to keep herself and her team alive?
While I started out liking Jayla much more than Bryson because of her distrust of him, I ended up liking Bryson much better by the end of the novel. Both Jayla and Bryson work through their issues and discover they need help beyond themselves. Bryson is able to make great headway on repairing several human relationships. Yet, at the end of the novel, it seems to me Jayla values her dog’s life equally as much as a human life. Maybe that’s because of the close connection between a SAR officer and her dog.
Turner includes a lot of great themes in her novel. Guilt, fear, surrender, trust, facing our fears, and forgiveness are all displayed. A recommended read with a warm blanket and a dog!
I received a copy of this book from the author, plus I purchased a copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“What did I do to deserve this? It’s all my fault.”
“She worked hard at redeeming herself for those mistakes, but had failed miserably. Redemption is not your job.”
“A shiver flowed through his body—not from the cold but a wave of peace. God’s reassurance that He was there with him. No matter what happened.”
Great!! I always get a Darlene L Turner book! I know I won’t be disappointed!!
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.
ZACCHAEUS EXPERIENCES ROMAN OCCUPATION AND THE FAMILY SHAME OF LEPROSY AS HE SURVIVES IN THE HISTORICAL SETTING OF 2000 YEARS AGO.
Betty Ruth Weatherby travels the world and uses her experiences to create the Biblical Fiction of “The Winnowing Fork” to convey the message of God’s sustaining, eternal love.
The tax collector’s mother is banned with a skin disease when his father is conscripted by the occupying Roman army.
Follow Zacchaeus as he grows to love the sound and glitter of gold coins while his greed consumes him, overcoming even his love of family.
Zacchaeus in his lonely, self-isolation discovers that the real author of peace and serenity is in a man called Jesus whose father is God himself. Jesus passes through Jericho on his way to Passover in Jerusalem.
Zacchaeus tries to see through the crowd as the entourage passes:
“He yanked the leaves back again, and found the Rabbi looking at him,
Betty Ruth Weatherby is a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus. She earned her teacher’s credential from Chapman University as well as a cross-cultural language and academic development certificate from Sacramento State University. Weatherby has sold her books across America. She is the author of the Lanover Adventure Series, Pepper’s children’s series and excels in Women’s Adventures. Women can travel the world as part of God’s Plan to enjoy life at its fullest and step out in faith.
Weatherby was born in the shipbuilding community of Sausalito, California and writes from a world of experience in fulfilling the Christian walk. Her most recent novel “The Girl on the Tombstone” is a nostalgic historical piece based in San Andreas, California where she grew up and attended Calaveras High School.
More from Betty Ruth
Zacchaeus was always a puzzle to me. How did he become a hated tax collector and only
One meeting with Jesus turned his life around. So, I imagined a story, gave him a family and neighbors to create a life around him as he accumulated his “taxes.”
Have you ever wondered what would possess Zacchaeus to be a tax collector? He was a Jew hated because he gathered taxes for the Romans from his own people, not to mention lining his pockets while doing so. Betty Ruth Weatherby pens an imaginative and immersive tale, The Winnowing Fork, which shows how Zacchaeus’s greed and arrogance could have developed.
I loved the look at the different family members, a few close friends, and associates. The characters were well- drawn and varied. I especially enjoyed Ruth and Tryphena’s relationship. There are several despicable persons. Perhaps one that stands out to me is Hesiah, the neighbor lady of the family.
As the characters are presented little by little, in alternating bits, a fuller picture emerges. However, it was unclear to me as I read that equal amounts of time were passing for the various individuals. At times it seemed years had passed for some, days for others. Maybe I just didn’t read something carefully enough.
After all Zacchaeus has gone through, one begins to understand better how he could have become the disliked publican. How my heart hurt for both Tryphena and Joshua as they begin to realize the person their son has allowed himself to evolve into!
With so much of the book detailing Zacchaeus’s tax collector mentality development, it made the spiritual and emotional healing part seem small in comparison.
I do like the way Zacchaeus remembers Scripture teachings from his childhood. God promises His Word will not come back empty. He brings to remembrance His Word when we need it.
I was surprised and pleased by the twist at the end. Definitely worth a read!
I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Great! I loved this book for its possible explanation of how Zacchaeus could have become the hated tax collector he was.
Will love solve everything — or immerse them in even worse peril?
Restless and ready for a change, Grace Stratton gladly accepts the opportunity to leave her remote parsonage home to serve as a wealthy spinster’s companion in the idyllic country town of Lindenfell. Its warm atmosphere and friendly inhabitants sooth Grace’s lonely heart. But when a mysterious stranger arrives, she soon discovers things aren’t always what they seem.
Convinced chloroform will revolutionise the medical world, Dr. David Carbury frequently administers it to his London patients — until one of them dies. Facing a grave trial to prove his innocence and defend a drug most people view as poisonous, he makes hasty plans to buy time to bolster his case. But he wasn’t expecting to face an even deadlier challenge.
As attraction sparks not long after they meet, Grace soon suspects he’s hiding something, and David knows he can’t run from the truth forever.
But neither of them could imagine the sinister threat lurking just around the corner…
Immersed in faith and intrigue, this Christian Victorian romance from award-winning author Edwina Kiernan will encourage and delight you long after you turn the last page.
Edwina Kiernan is the Christian author of the award-winning novel, Ruby’s Redemption.
An enthusiast of classic novels and history, Edwina combines her faith, imagination and research to create hope-infused tales set in times past.
A lifelong word admirer, with Welsh and Irish heritage, she started writing stories early in childhood.
She is a committed follower of Jesus (the Living Word), and endeavours to use her pen to point others to Him.
More from Edwina
Have you ever wished you could travel back in time to a place where quaint buildings are bathed with a golden glow in the afternoon light, where the people are polite and respectful, and where the pace of living allows your soul to breathe and just… be?
In that case…
Welcome to Lindenfell!
The Letter introduces us to Grace Stratton (daughter of the hero & heroine from my award-winning novel, Ruby’s Redemption), who accepts a position as a lady’s companion in a place she’s never been before, but where she’ll soon discover a whole new world.
“The air in Lindenfell had a scent of its own — one of warmth and peace. Of hope.”
Lord-willing, the Victorian Virtues series will have nine books, each based on an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit, and each exploring the historical events and everyday realities that change and challenge eighteen main characters and nine blossoming romances.
Friends and foes, tragedies and triumphs, hopes and heartaches — the best and worst of life, all in one fictional market town in Victorian England.
It is my deepest hope that, as you travel to Lindenfell in each book of the series, you’ll find the truth and hope you need to navigate your own trials and triumphs, and discover that the refreshment your soul longs for is already available to you, wherever you may be.
“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
The Letter is a deceptively simple Victorian novel by Edwina Kiernan. A young lady (Grace Stratton) in the 1840s England goes to another town to be an elderly lady’s companion. At roughly the same time, a London doctor (David Carbury) loses a patient, and is accused of murder by the bereaved family.
Written in third person POV, the focus of narration alternates chapters between Grace and David. We get to know each, and begin to choose who to sympathize with most in the coming crisis. I was happy to see Kiernan point out that both David and Grace have issues to repent of. Sometimes, it seems like such an egregious wrong is committed, that that offender must be the only one who needs to change an attitude or action. Grace discovers that she needs to live up to her name, and follow God’s example of forgiving. Very convicting!
I loved Isaac! As a secondary character, he stole the show for me. He is such an example of a true friend. He senses a need, patiently draws it out, then is there to help his friend in any way possible. I was amazed at the lengths his friendship took him to.
Ooh! There were a few twists that just made this a great story and boosted it from simple to complex. Enjoy!
Discussion questions can be found online at the author’s given website link. I am dying to discuss one question in particular!
I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Love was the problem. So how could it be the solution?”
“There is no such thing as common decency. At least, not apart from God. We need Him.”
When Autumn Bridges, the town coroner, meets Matt Cabbage in a near-collision on Main Street, they discover they have much in common. First, they’re next-door neighbors now that Matt owns The Cabbage Patch, his family’s ancestral estate. They’re also single parents of tween girls. And when screams herald the discovery of a corpse on Matt’s first night in the mansion, the two join forces to prove that neither Matt nor his uncle is guilty. The sleepy little town of Cabbageville, Texas, will never be the same.
This light-hearted and delightfully funny cozy mystery keeps you turning pages with its twists and surprises. The easy and clever dialog between Autumn and Matt sparkles in this first book of the Cabbageville Mystery series.
About the Author
R.L. Buck, the author of Death in the Cabbage Patch, A Cabbageville Mystery Book 1, is retired from a long career as a Renaissance trades-Jack. He lives in the Texas Panhandle with his two fur babies (Dak, the rat terrier, and Jackson, the silver poodle mix), neither of which can reach the kibbles bin. Both adore R.L. as the perfect housemate for his roles as Supreme Doler of the Food and Giver of Belly Rubs.
An avid reader and writer of mysteries, horror, fantasy, and SciFi for as long as he can remember, R.L. has written the second book in the Cabbageville Mystery series and started the third. He also has several other works in progress.
R.L. Buck writes clean and entertaining fiction informed by a Christian worldview without preaching or side-stepping themes many Christian writers tend to avoid. He prefers to call himself a Christian who writes rather than a Christian Writer: he displays his faith in his writing, but it is not the sole point of it.
“We do everything we can to protect our circle. Beyond that, if we’re so paranoid we forget to live our lives, what’s the use? You have to let go at some point, and you figure the Almighty’s better equipped to protect your loved ones than you are.”
With a title like Death in the Cabbage Patch, RL Buck had me intrigued in his first novel of his new cozy series, The Cabbageville Mysteries. I found it to be a fun, clean offering. The victim is someone so unlikeable, that we have a smorgasbord of possible suspects.
Buck creates relatable and realistic characters. I did feel like Matt and Autumn became a couple extremely fast. Sukie and Misty add some reason for their parents to spend more time together. It will be interesting to see how they figure into future books.
Buck also populates his novel with some interesting secondary characters. The pastor and Widow Carmichael with her surprising business are both memorable.
I’m sure we’ll see more of cousin Hedda, who is both Autumn’s friend and Matt’s cousin.
I’ll be looking for the next book in the series to see if the mystery can compare to this one.
I received a copy of the book from the author through Early Reviewers in Library Thing. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
First off, I must admit I am playing catch-up with my NetGalley list. I’m sure nobody else understands this predicament!!🤪🤪
About the Book
Title: The Apostle’s Sister
Series: #4 Jerusalem Road
Author: Angela Hunt
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: June, 2022
She’s always longed for more, but what if the path she’s chosen requires more than she’s willing to give?
Aya, daughter of Zebulun of Tarsus, does not want a traditional life. After years of being overshadowed by her brilliant brother Sha’ul, she wants a chance to use her own gifts beyond being a wife and mother. When her father insists that she marry a Torah student, she reluctantly agrees.
A dedicated scholar, Sha’ul, or Paul, returns to Tarsus to follow the instructions of the Law and wed the woman his father has chosen to raise his profile and help him earn a seat on the Great Sanhedrin–the highest religious court in the land. But when the Nazarene, Yeshua, and his followers bring trouble to the Holy City, Sha’ul will stop at nothing to silence them.
After moving to Jerusalem with her husband, Aya expects to be bored in her role as wife to a Torah student. Instead, she finds herself fascinated by his studies. Then her brother makes a life-altering decision, and she must face a troubling question: Can she remain true to her beliefs and still love her blasphemous brother?
About the Author
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly six million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 150 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.
Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City. Afterward, the dog gave out paw-tographs at the airport.
When she’s not home writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.
“When HaShem bestows a gift, does He not expect us to use it?”
I really enjoyed my first Biblical fiction novel by Angels Hunt. While The Apostle’s Sister is #4 in the Jerusalem Road Series, I never once felt at a loss for knowledge of what may have transpired in previous books.
Shaul ( eventually Paul) and Aya, his independent sister who longs to be free to use her voice in public, alternate narrating chapters. We meet the Jewish family who in this novel, have great social Greek connections. Yet, some facets of their lives are very restricted by the law. Shaul studies in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, constantly debating the finer points of the law with other students and teachers. “In this city, perhaps in homes not far from me, other young men were debating similar questions, focusing their energy on minuscule points of the Law while they missed the miracle of what HaShem had done through Yeshua.”
We get great insight into the workings of the Jewish high court and hierarchy system therein. We also see the intense pressure and persecution that comes as followers of the Way are discovered and weeded out. I may have needed Kleenex in several places, so I obviously connected to the characters closely.
Aya especially struggles with a sense of significance under the Jewish laws and customs. How does she “Honor the gift HaShem gave you,” when her culture and life circumstances prohibit it?
“I enjoy singing because when I sing, people see who I am.” Can HaShem help her find the sense of significance we all strive for?
Hunt includes an abundance of Scripture references, which is good thing in this book. I was amazed Hunt could skillfully tie so many in, without info dumping or preaching. Obviously, Hunt has done her Biblical scholar work!
I highly recommend The Apostle’s Sister along with a reading pet companion and plenty of Kleenex.
I received a copy of the book from Bethany House and NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Great! Love the insight into Biblical-times Jewish Ruling Council and Culture!
The next in a delicious new culinary cozy series featuring a grilled cheese eatery owner who must solve murders in her small town before someone is cheddar off dead
Winter in Balsam Dell is a snowy affair, and to add in some cheer after the holidays Carly’s former classmate Klarissa Taddeo is hosting her extravagant bridal shower at the historic Balsam Dell inn. That is, until a double-booking throws some mold in the cheese and leaves Klarissa scrambling. With the venue moved to the maid of honor’s family mansion and Carly rinding to create a new delicious treat it seems the group is going to pull off the shower without a hitch.
That is, until a rowdy band of groomsmen crashes the event. Klarissa is furious with her groom-to-be and when a loud argument ensues, everyone is shocked by what they hear. When the groom is later found dead at the bottom of the stairs, his drink spiked with a hefty dose of poison, Carly must put her nose to the rind and save Klarissa from being suspect #1.
Because you know what they say: it’s always the (almost) wife.
About the Author
Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband and her rescue cat. A member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Cat Writers’ Association, she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library. Visit her on the web at lindasreilly.com
I am always on the lookout for clean cozies! Let me tell you about Cheddar Late Than Dead by Linda Reilly. First, while third in the series, I jumped into this one without reading Reilly’s others and still caught on quickly.
I enjoyed the idea of a grilled cheese restaurant, a unique-to-me setting. I loved the special recipe idea Carly has as a centerpiece for the book. Unfortunately for my taste, Carly was able to be gone too often from her restaurant as her capable staff takes over. I prefer a cozy where the sleuth does not take lots of time off from her work to pursue the crime.
I like the thread involving Valerie. She sounds like a gem, a great find for the restaurant as well as a really sweet person. She will be a welcome addition to Carly’s “support group,” so to speak.
I did think the sudden attitude changes following the revealing of the perpetrator were a bit unrealistic. Too many people suddenly changed their tunes.
Read Cheddar Late Than Dead for yourself and let me know what you think. I read an ARC through NetGalley, but you can pre-order your copy, due January 31, 2023, here:
A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family’s legacy…and her future.
Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past, learning never to stay anywhere too long and never to allow anyone control over her life again. Coming to Wanishin Falls in search of her family’s history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope’s last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.
Only, the bookshop is in shambles, and the elderly owner is in the beginning stages of dementia and can’t remember where the books lie. To find the last links to the loved ones she’s lost, Hope must stay and accept help from the townsfolk to locate the treasured volumes. Each secret she uncovers brings her closer to understanding where she came from. But the longer she stays in the quaint town, the more people find their way into the cracks in her heart. And letting them in may be the greatest risk of all…
Mollie writes contemporary fiction with a heart for history. What does this mean exactly? She loves to write inspirational fiction in contemporary settings with fascinating historical elements, people, objects, and stories woven throughout.
A modern girl herself– She wouldn’t want to go a day without modern plumbing and central air! But she’s always felt a special connection to the past. The legacies and lives left behind are like gifts waiting to be unwrapped, and she’s excited to share this blend of history and contemporary living with readers.
A born and bred Midwestern gal, Mollie Rushmeyer, makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband and two spunky, beautiful daughters. She is not only a bibliophile (the dustier the better, in her opinion), she’s a true anglophile at heart. Tea and coffee fuel her travels, by Google maps at least, and her passion for the written word.
More from Mollie
Since childhood, opening up a book unlocked a whole new world for me. Of possibilities and adventure, and made me care for people and places that didn’t exist. Like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, books transported me. It was like magic.
As I began dreaming up The Bookshop of Secrets in its early stages, I knew I wanted to create a character who loved books and was in awe of their transformative and transportive power as much as I am. Thus, Hope Sparrow, a human trafficking survivor and ultimate book lover, was born. I also wanted to honor my grandpa, who planted the seed—love of the written word—in my heart from the time I was very young. And so, Ulysses, the owner of Dusty Jackets Bookshop in the story, is based on my sweet grandpa who has since passed away. But I know he’d love this homage to all things literary.
In the middle of writing this book, in 2018, I had a stroke. As with most medical emergencies, it was quite unexpected. I had a hole in my heart (that has been repaired, thankfully). Afterward, I didn’t know if I’d ever write again and I was more terrified of that than not being able to fully move my left arm again. My brain had to make new connections and it was so difficult, still is some days, to be creative. To find the right words.
But God. In the way that only He can, He brought this forgotten story, this project’s finish line that seemed to be at the summit of an insurmountable mountain within reach. I thought I had something to prove to myself. I begged God not to forget my dream to write. Like He could. But in the end, I just had to trust like my character Hope. Trust that He is good even when life hurts and is uncertain.
“Do you know what the opposite of fear is?”
“Bravery? Peace?” Dare she say her namesake, hope?
“The true counterpart of fear is faith. It takes faith to walk into the future, the unknown, with confidence. Secure in the love of the One who created you and those around you outweighs any hardship, real or imagined, that lies on the path ahead.”
I hope following Hope’s journey of healing and love in The Bookshop of Secrets truly blesses you.
“It’s in our broken places God plants seeds of hope. He will grow something beautiful from ashes.”
Hope Sparrow, fleeing her unspeakably abusive past, lands in Wanishing Falls, MN, at an old mom-and-pop bookstore. Desperate to find books with clues to her past, Hope agrees to stay and help run the store while she searches for her antique books. She doesn’t count on falling in love with the town, the couple that operates the store, nor their handsome, troubled grandson.
I loved seeing the healing that wise, older people can bring as they seek to live out the love of Jesus. Dee and Mags are two wonderful secondary characters I would like to have known.
I loved that Ronan and Kat are so willing to keep on offering friendship even when Hope seems to reject it repeatedly. While that is the Christian way, how many of us would give a person multiple chances in real life?
Hope has difficulty seeing herself as the kind, gentle, caring soul that she is. Instead, she sees herself through lies from her past. She needs to learn that
“the past doesn’t tell us who we are, only where we’ve been.”
The road to faith is rocky for Hope and Ronan. Can they put aside their individual pasts and others’ opinions to trust that God’s love supersedes anything that may have happened to them? Can they truly believe this for good? This whole idea of giving a problem over to God and realizing He’s got it, I can relax, really hit home for me last night, as I struggled with worry and fear. I have to choose to continue in His love.
The one thing that I think readers should know, is there may be trigger subjects. One, which wasn’t the main issue, rang true with me, and made it difficult to read those passages as I lived them with the character.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit, plus I bought my own e-copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Great! A trigger made some of it difficult to read, but the faith lesson was timely, and I enjoyed the story.
Mabel plans to bring the thrills of volunteering to the masses—if she doesn’t go to the dogs first.
When Mabel finds herself sharing a thicket with a dead body while volunteering with canine search-&-rescue, her life has clearly—once again—gone to the dogs!
After her losing her job at age forty-nine, Mabel thought she’d turned things around. Now she’s doing good by volunteering, and surely, she’ll soon be a successful author, writing about her experiences. After solving two notorious decades-old cold cases while serving as a historical society volunteer, she’s already getting invitations to appear on TV.
Her new assignment couldn’t be simpler. All she has to do is hide in the woods and let Millie the search dog practice finding her. But to her horror, Millie finds more than Mabel—there’s a dead body hiding in the same patch of brush. To make things worse, Mabel’s maybe-boyfriend, suspended PI John Bigelow, has a dark history with the victim.
While struggling with maid-of-honor duties for best friend Lisa, a string of disasters created by handyman Acey, and a disagreeable new neighbor, can Mabel solve another murder in time to save John’s detective license—if not his neck?
If you like clean cozies and laughing a lot, Mabel Goes to the Dogs by Susan Kimmel Wright should be on your must-get list. I prepared for this book by reading the two that came before it, and I wasn’t sorry. There is a chronological progression to the books that will be more enjoyable if they are read in order. They are all fast reads, but far from silent! I felt so bad for my husband in the same room as I burst out in laughter so many times while reading.
One reason this book appealed to me is that Mabel is an older sleuth, pushing 50 when the series starts. She isn’t stick-thin, isn’t beautiful, and has just been fired from her career job. She likes to exaggerate freely, about her wanna-be careers as either an author or a volunteer. Mabel talks about her forthcoming book in a tv interview. Unfortunately, “Mabel knew “next book” was a slight stretch. The only other “book” she’d ever written was a biographical booklet for the historical society.” Mabel is rather hapless and hopeless as a heroine, and somehow that makes her very relatable!
John, the love interest, is an enigma, waiting to be unraveled. Why doesn’t he have his PI license anymore? Why does he share so little of himself? And, in this book, you may wonder what his real motives are, and why he is putting moves on Mabel instead of staying with the beautiful ex-girlfriend we meet.
Acey is the hired handyman who is anything but. He sure brings his share of the laughs at poor Mabel’s expense!
Animal lovers will rejoice to see more of Barnacle, Mabel’s lumbering dog that lives up to his name, and her snooty cat Koi, as well as John’s cat, one to beware of.
Plus a search and rescue team is involved in this novel, so more delight for canine lovers.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. (I also bought my own copy.) No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Great!! I’m anxious for Mabel’s next volunteer stint!!
About the Author
Susan Kimmel Wright is a child of the Appalachian Mountains. A former lawyer, Susan has published three children’s mystery novels and is a prolific contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Mabel Goes to the Dogs, Book Two in Mysteries of Medicine Spring, her first cozy mystery series for adult readers, is now available from Mountain Brook Ink. Susan shares an 1875 farmhouse in southwestern PA with her husband, several dogs and cats, and an allegedly excessive stockpile of coffee and tea mugs.
More from Susan
A bit about Mabel and how she got herself into this situation…
One of the great joys of writing this series has been the wonderful reaction my main character Mabel has gotten from so many readers. Typical comments are: “I love how quirky and imperfect Mabel is…Mabel is a fun character with a big heart who has the best of intentions.” (I also hear “hilarious” a lot… 😉)
Mabel is fifty, and her entire life has just unceremoniously changed. For the past twenty-three years, she’s had a job as a low-level attorney in a law firm. Boring, yes, but every day, she knew where she was going, what she was doing, and when and how much she was going to get paid. But suddenly, she gets the ax, and her old life is over. Blessed with a severance package from her former employer, as well as an inheritance from her grandma (also named Mabel) that includes a cluttered Victorian house in the town of Medicine Spring, Mabel resolves to reinvent herself. She will do good by volunteering while building a glamorous new career as a writer.
Many readers have told me they see themselves in Mabel. As one reviewer said, “She’s a bundle of insecurities ironclad in over self-confidence and I can relate to that!” And I guess I do too! While Mabel is certainly a product of my imagination, she also reflects a bit of me. I left my job as a lawyer after about twenty years too (though I didn’t “get the ax!). I also live in a somewhat ramshackle Victorian farmhouse with a bunch of animals, and I see many of Mabel’s insecurities in myself. (Not to mention Mabel’s love of food—writing about Mabel’s diet gives me the opportunity to indulge in all the yummy things I try to limit in real life!)
Of course, nothing goes according to Mabel’s master plan. Mabel knows little about writing, her new old house is stuffed to the rafters with her grandma’s accumulations and comes with a hostile neighbor bent on continuing a decades’ old feud, and her first volunteer endeavor comes complete with a dead body. On the plus side, Mabel and her cat Koi acquire a new family member—Grandma Mabel’s big dog Barnacle, and Mabel seems also to have acquired a possible boyfriend, suspended PI John Bigelow.
By the time we run into Mabel in Mabel Goes to the Dogs, she has stumbled through two homicide investigations and also discovered the solution to an eighty-year-old cold case—the ax murder of a father and son in a neighboring historic house. This has gotten her an invitation to appear on a local morning TV show—and little else. Then Mabel undertakes a new volunteer assignment, helping train search-and-rescue dogs. The discovery of yet another body makes her wonder if she’s somehow bringing this on herself. Boyfriend John assures her, “You’re not causing dead bodies with the power of your mind, you goof.” Mabel isn’t so sure. Nobody else seems to be having this problem.
At least, life is now far from boring in the village of Medicine Spring…
When those experiencing the same fate she endured show up at her doorstep…
Katie determines to be their champion, no matter the fallout.
Will the man who fought for the other side also fight for her?
Unconventional Katie empathizes with the widows and orphans of the Civil War, searching for a place to call home in Shumard Oak Bend. But with no one to help her, she’ll need to do it secretly, a challenge she readily accepts. She’s taken charge before, and she’ll do it again, no matter who she has to outwit to get the job done.
He vowed to be his own man and stop doing everyone else’s bidding. But he follows orders when a pair of emerald green eyes, blazing red hair, and freckles that dance on the bridge of a pert nose conscript him to duty. Be his own man. Who is he kidding? Skunks don’t change their stripes. They leave disasters in their wake wherever they go, just like him.
Overcoming personal obstacles and finding your true self doesn’t mean going it alone. Yet the answer isn’t always in the one you seek.
“You’re seeing your failure. I’m seeing your worth.”
Third in a series Discerning God’s Best, Matters of the Heart by Heidi Gray McGill is easily a standalone novel. Set in 1866 Missouri, with the Civil War barely past, there are situations and a few words that some might find offensive, but which are true to the times.
PTSD, homelessness, caring for widows and orphans, standing up for oneself and one’s friends, and running from God are all themes of this book.
You will enjoy the characters you meet in this story. Sassy, fiery, passionate Katie, with an impossible dream. Hans, “tired of doing everyone else’s bidding. Tired of living under another’s rule. Tired of lying to himself that he could change.” Reverend Jenkins, oh, my! What a character he is!! And Aunt Aideen- so wise, humble, loving, encouraging, and willing to challenge people to be their best. Plus so many more secondary persons you will love as well.
I love that McGill focuses on the fact that though people are different, working together brings the best results. I love the belief not in coincidence, but “God incidence.” Also, there is a lot Truth for living imparted in these pages.
I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit, plus bought my own ebook. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“So far, you’ve told me how you feel but not how God feels.”
“You’ve shared your thoughts, desires, and plans, but you need to listen to what God would have you do. It’s His path that matters.”
“He did not need a woman. He did not need this family, and he did not need God. He’d be just fine on his own.”
“…he wondered if he could ever outrun himself.”
“He’d heard more than once that freedom cost dearly. The war may be over, but there was no freedom for those now enslaved by their scars.”
“Now, he wanted to make something of himself, be his own man, prove to himself he could do more than just follow rules and orders.”
“Don’t make a decision based on a season of life that will alter the rest of your life.”
“He was telling her to live in the ‘yet’—that transitional time where she could grow and learn until He was ready to fulfill His will.”
“Yes, every step forward changes the view, it never remains the same.”
“I trust my God enough to believe He will provide exactly what we need at the moment we need it. Not a second early, nor a minute late.”
“But, scriptures are just phrases until we know God on a deeper level and on more than just paper. I learned God’s Word doesn’t become powerful until it becomes personal.”
Great!! A great post-Civil War novel with many nuggets of truth!!
About the Author
Heidi is an optimist who chooses to find the silver lining in life’s clouds of doubt. This plays out in her writing. Her ability to weave scripture seamlessly into the lives of her characters will uplift and encourage you, while her masterful storytelling will keep you turning page after page and wishing for more.
Heidi lives with her husband of thirty years near Charlotte, NC. When she isn’t writing, you will find her outside playing with her two grandsons, walking, scrapbooking, reading, cooking, traveling, or finding an excuse to have an outing with a girlfriend.
Fusing Faith and Fiction™
True Christian Fiction. Relatable Characters. Life-changing stories.
More from Heidi
Where did the idea for Matters of the Heart originate?
Before I was an author, I was the founder and director of an English as a Second Language ministry. The program touched the lives of students from 35 different countries. Regardless of culture, religion, language, or age, I found a substantial similarity in these students—they all wanted to improve their lot in life and that of their children.
Stories abounded of walks across deserts, financial hardships, desperate attempts to explain emergencies to medical professionals or law enforcement, failed verbal connections with schoolteachers, and an inability to obtain work because of their lack of language skills. Prejudice and distrust blocked them, culture shock took them outside their comfort zones, and the urgent need to survive made them scramble to dig deep inside and find creative ways to secure shelter and put food on their tables.
It wasn’t that these immigrants weren’t capable of achieving success. In their home countries, vocations varied from chemist and biologist with PhDs, to teachers, lawyers, and medical professionals. Others came from poverty and had little education but were not afraid of hard work, long hours, and low pay. They were tenacious, and they worked with relentless determination and a bullheaded resolve to achieve their goals. They relied on each other and soaked in everything around them in their desire to assimilate into the American culture and find a new place to belong.
Immigrants in the late 1800s were not much different. Individuals came to improve their lot in life and be a part of the greatest country in the world. In Matters of the Heart, Hans Korhonen left Finland with his brothers to take advantage of the land grants. Together, they worked to establish a farm large enough to sustain four families and support troops during the Civil War. Yet, in their desire to belong and give back to our great nation, Hans’s idyllic life changed through his service as a Union soldier.
Kathleen Murphy, or Katie, came to the United States to escape a life of extreme poverty and abuse in Ireland. Working in her aunt and uncle’s boarding offered more than a job. It provided the love and support of a family. Katie rose from her previous station and started fresh with hope on the horizon. She found a source of ministry that gave her life a purpose she’d not had before.
My association with my former ESL students helped me develop the characters in this book into individuals with which readers can identify.
Join Katie and Hans as they establish themselves in their new home of Shumard Oak Bend.
Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies.
Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart.
Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril.
As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows?
Sandra Merville Hart takes us deep into the dangers of the Civil War in Byway to Danger. In Richmond, Meg Brooks, a former Pinkerton, visits with relatives and works in a bakery, but most importantly, looks for intelligence to pass to the North. Her bakery boss, Cade Yancey, is also a Northern sympathizer. Like Meg, he spies for the North. As they grow closer, Meg doesn’t reveal much of her business or history to Cade, thinking what he doesn’t know, he can’t tell. Cade is even more tight-lipped about his past and connections. Can they work together to further freedom, or will their secrets drive them apart?
This book is the third of a trio, but stands alone nicely. It started slowly for me. I had a hard time initially becoming invested in the characters. Fortunately, by the end of the book, I was quickly thumbing pages, eager to discover the future of Meg and Cade and others. I set the finished book aside with a satisfied sigh.
My favorite secondary characters were Aunt Trudy and her servants, Clara and Harold. All three are wise, kind, and willing to go out of their way to help others. All had reasons they could have refused to do so.
If you’re looking for a clean, Faith-based historical romance based on Civil War times, I recommend Byway to Danger by Sandra Merville Hart.
I received a copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Hard to say what turns some men into animals, as if they turned their backs on the sense the Good Lord gave them.”
“How can you, a man of few words, know just what to say?” She smiled to lighten the moment. Mournful blue eyes met hers. “Because I lived it.”
“Their relationship felt as if they had waltzed into a courtship without discussing it.”
“And my greatest hope for him is that he learns that he’s cherished by his Savior.”
Great! I recommend this suspenseful Civil War novel.
About the Author
Sandra Merville Hart, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author of inspirational historical romances, loves to discover little-known yet fascinating facts from American history to include in her stories. Her desire is to transport her readers back in time. She is also a blogger, speaker, and conference teacher. Connect with Sandra on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.
More from Sandra
In Byway to Danger, Book 3 of my “Spies of the Civil War” series, both Cade and Meg—our hero and heroine—are Union spies living in Richmond, the Confederate capital in 1862. As if this isn’t dangerous enough, Meg is also a former Pinkerton spy. One Pinkerton spy was hanged in the spring and three others now sit in Richmond jails.
Meg works as an assistant in Cade’s bakery. The strong, quiet man keeps a secret from Meg to protect her, for he’s a conductor on the Underground Railroad. He provides food, clothing, and a safe place to stay until he’s able to take them on to the next stop several miles outside the city. Cade has done this for years before the Civil War and continues as the war rages, a perilous mission.
Historically, early in the war on May 23, 1861, three men escaped slavery and fled to Fort Monroe. Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory, and James Townsend had worked on Confederate fortifications before escaping on a rowboat. They sought the safety of Union soldiers at the fort. The men informed Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler that they escaped from Confederate Colonel Charles K. Mallory of the 115th Virginia Militia.
The next day, Confederate Major John B. Cary arrived at Fort Monroe under a flag of truce. Cary met with Butler and requested he return the enslaved men to Mallory as required by the Fugitive Slave Act.
Butler did some fast thinking. Since the three men had been building fortifications for war, they could be seized as “contraband of war” and didn’t have to be returned. His refusal to return the men was a pivotal decision and sparked a future law that protected fugitives who sought the protection of Union camps.
Dozens of fugitive men, women, and children had joined Baker, Mallory, and Townsend at Fort Monroe within three days. Many others fled to the fort in the following months. “Grand Contraband Camp” was established about three miles from Fort Monroe on the charred remains of Hampton to accommodate the hundreds of fugitives. It was the nation’s first self-contained black community. By 1865, thousands lived in this camp.
Part of my research for this novel involved a trip to Virginia’s Fort Monroe. (If you love history and have never visited Fort Monroe, I recommend it!) Though I wasn’t certain of my story at the time of my visit, I was so inspired by the fort’s history that I knew it had to be part of my story. And it is!
Avenue of Betrayal, Book 1, is set in the Union capital of Washington City (Washington DC) in 1861, where a surprising number of Confederate sympathizers and spies lived. Boulevard of Confusion and Byway to Danger are set in Richmond, the Confederate capital in 1862. Actual historical spies touch the lives of our fictional family.
Through both real and fictional characters, this series highlights activities spies were involved in and some of the motives behind their decisions.