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

Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A Abrams Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Buried Cold Case Secrets

Author: Sami A. Abrams

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: December 28, 2021

cover

Recovering her missing memories…

Could be the key to solving a murder…

Searching for her best friend’s remains could help forensic anthropologist Melanie Hutton regain her memories of when they were both kidnapped—unless the killer gets to Melanie first. For her safety, Melanie must rely on Detective Jason Cooper, who still blames her for his sister’s death. Can Jason set the past aside to solve the cold-case murder…and shield Melanie from the same fate?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“He wasn’t her attacker. He was worse. Her best friend’s brother, Jason Cooper, stood before her. The man who hated her guts.”

Melanie Hutton returns to the small town she left years ago, following the horrendous kidnapping of her best friend and herself. She vows to find justice for her murdered friend but doesn’t count on having to work with her best friend’s brother.
Sami Abrams brings us a fast-paced romantic suspense adventure in Buried Cold Case Secrets. I liked the trope of childhood best friend’s brother to more. Jason seemed a bit insensitive until I really understood all the baggage he was juggling for years. Then his unreliable actions make a lot of sense. Amazing how easy it is for us humans to judge each other when we don’t know somebody else’s full story. It seems the whole book was about that, yet I just realized I may have been doing that throughout the book!

I found Melanie to be incredibly brave. Just returning to her hometown is hard enough, but in her efforts to discover the truth, she eventually makes some choices that cause her some very painful results.

The hidden gem of this book? (That invaluable secondary character?) That would have to be a tie between Mrs. Evans and Keith, Jason’s partner. What a sweet, wonderful, wise, and older lady. And Keith always has Jason’s back!

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

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Great Debut Novel!

About the Author

Two-time Genesis winner Sami A. Abrams and her husband live in Northern California, but she’ll always be a Kansas girl at heart. She enjoys visiting her two grown children and spoiling their sweet fur babies. Most evenings, if Sami’s not watching sports, you’ll find her engrossed in a romantic suspense novel. She thinks a crime plus a little romance is the recipe for a great story.

More from Sami

What writer doesn’t grow up reading every chance they get? That would be me.

Until my thirties, I hated to read. Then someone told me about Terri Blackstock, and I decided to give her books a try. I was hooked. I guess there’s something to finding the right genre. Romantic Suspense is it for me. Of course, that makes sense. I love CSI, NCIS, and Criminal Minds. Over the years, I have expanded my taste, but there’s just something about suspense that keeps me coming back.

A little over five years ago, I decided to start checking off some of the items on my bucket list. I learned how to rock climb and got my scuba certification, among other things. When I got to the item, writing a novel, I sat down and pounded it out. Check the box; I was done. Wrong. God had other plans and placed some amazing people in my life.

One of those plans was attending MurderCon, a conference for writers where they learn from experts about, you guessed it…murder. Actually, it’s about police procedures, crime scene analysis…the list goes on and on. One of the workshops I attended was with a forensic anthropologist, and the idea for Melanie Hutton and Buried Cold Case Secrets was born.

I loved writing Melanie’s story. She’s a fighter and refuses to let anything stand in her way, including the man, Jason Cooper, who blames her for her best friend’s death. Jason holds on to the past and his hatred toward Melanie, but he soon learns that if he puts aside his assumptions and listens, he’ll discover the truth about the day his sister died. Letting go of his anger and blame is tough for Jason, but when he does, he finds the life he’s always wanted.

I hope you enjoy reading Melanie and Jason’s story as much as I did writing it.

I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my website at samiaabrams.com and sign up for my newsletter.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 8

The Avid Reader, January 8

Bigreadersite, January 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 9

Bizwings Blog, January 9

Texas Book-aholic, January 10

The Sacred Line, January 10

Inklings and notions, January 11

Labor Not in Vain, January 11

Betti Mace, January 11

For Him and My Family, January 12

For the Love of Literature, January 12

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 13 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, January 13

Lights in a Dark World, January 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 14

Elly Gilbert, January 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 15

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 15

Mary Hake, January 15

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 16

Kayem Reads, January 16

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 17 (Spotlight)

Through the Fire Blogs, January 17

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 18

Britt Reads Fiction, January 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 19

Blogging With Carol, January 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 20

Simple Harvest Reads, January 20 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, January 21

Pause for Tales, January 21

Blossoms and Blessings, January 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sami is giving away the grand prize package of a book, a coffee mug, a notebook, a pen!!

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/17198/buried-cold-case-secrets-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, New-to-Me Author, Purchase

Queen of the Rockies by Angela Breidenbach Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Queen of the Rockies

Author: Angela Breidenbach

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: September 1, 2021

QotR-book1

What will her courage cost?
1889 (Helena, MT): As the gold rush era ends in the most elegant and modern city in the world and Montana emerges as a state, one woman must decide if social pressure will prevail over her own beliefs. Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana at Christmastime to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or social pressure prevail? Courage is choosing to do the right thing regardless of the cost… Romantic, comedic adventure set in picturesque Helena, Montana written by a bestselling author who is also a professional genealogist.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Miss Snowflake will be our new tourism queen. A representative of Montana’s grace and elegance. Her duties will be to help Helena, and Montana, become recognized as Queen of the Rockies to the rest of the world. Our businesses and economy depend on drawing tourists year-round.”

On the eve of Montana becoming a state, young, enterprising Albert Shanahan realizes that Montana needs to connect with the rest of the country and world if she will survive her soon-to-be-played-out gold rush. Enter his plan for a Winter Pageant involving young debutantes, Calista Blythe in particular, to help promote tourism in this beautiful new state.

I was delighted by this book. It has a swoon-worthy romance, timely themes, loveable waifs, and great quotes! Faith, courage, and pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort level to do right for the love of others are strongly encouraged.

I am always looking for secondary characters that make the storyline great or at least possible. Calista’s parents have to be on this list. While not always having the same views as Calista, they certainly love her and have great and even godly wisdom to pass on at just the appropriate times. “If I let other people’s behavior stop me because I made a mistake, I’d never follow the path God Almighty set before me.” “Daughter, there’ll always be unkind people out to trip you and laugh as you fall. Get back up and hold yourself with dignity.”

Charles and Mrs. Brown are also some of those people in this book for me, with their willingness to put everything on the line to help Calista. They even encourage her to trust God. “Sometimes, we just have to take the next step when we don’t get to see the whole path. That’s trust, Miss Calista, trust. Do you think you can trust God to show you the next step?” Then there’s Mr. Broadwater, the business mentor to Albert. Seemingly a small part of the story, he is a huge contributor to Albert’s success. “Success in business, my boy, is about timing and relationships.” He tapped his temple. “But it’s also about ingenuity. You might be in the midst of all three.”

And villains or antagonists. Every great novel needs at least one. Dora is a great one that I strongly disliked!! What an antithetical personality to sweet, loving, Calista who is always looking out for the best of others. “But for a pretty woman, her vanity and demeanor left a lot of beauty to be desired.” This is a truism we have been working to ingrain in our own children. Beauty is only as beauty does.

I should admit the obvious. I loved Calista and Albert and their struggle to romance! *Sigh!*

And the Montana visitor guide suggestions make me realize there’s more to Montana than open skies and open roads. New vacay destination ahead! Author’s notes enhance the story as well.

After finishing, I rushed to my fave online store to buy the rest of the series. I enjoyed this book that much. If you like historical fiction, impossible odds, or adults helping unwanted children, this book is a must-read!

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

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Loved it, Purchased rest of series!

About the Author

Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, media personality, bestselling author, and screenwriter. She’s also the Christian Authors Network president. Angie lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angie can also. Don’t miss her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach! Find her on social media: @AngBreidenbach

More from Angela

Queen of the Rockies captured my imagination and my interest in the originality of Montana’s entrance into the United States of America. The people of Montana are quite varied, a true but much unknown fact. People here come from around the world, completely different genealogical origins as well as backgrounds. The influence of gold mining, transportation, and entrepreneurship as well as the exploration of the wild and beautiful lands inspired amazing creativity for both survival and communities.

From completely uncivilized mining camps to stunning old-world know-how of the native peoples to about 100 different immigrant nations brought Montana to statehood. Today, many of those descendants still are here farming, mining, doing business. Many of those languages are still spoken. We have immigrant populations that have continued to come. So though Montana is thought to be nearly all-white Americans, that’s not anywhere close to the real Montana. Don’t believe everything you see on TV 😉 Come see for yourself.

Vibrant wildlife, dangers of the wilderness and weather, and the opportunity partnered with intensely hard-working conditions created more millionaires in one place than had ever been before. But that didn’t mean everyone knew how to handle that new wealth. Vigilantes, including a sheriff who robbed those he was supposed to protect, ran the ranges for years. The women who brought civilization tamed the men who couldn’t quite keep themselves under control. It’s these incredible women who braved the elements and the hardships that are the stars in my books. Come and meet them. They continue to inspire me today!

Touring and researching through Montana and especially the three original capitals (finally ending up with Helena) fascinated me. There’s so much to do year-round here. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote short travel articles at the back of each book for my readers. I really hope those articles will intrigue people to come and visit the ghost towns, living history towns, hot springs, mountains, and small cities. Each book in this 6-book series will share something special that may not be well-known but will be unforgettable for you as a tourist.

I hope the stories are fun, full of historic entertainment and romance, but also that you’ll have a fresh view of Montana that fires you up to come and visit our beautiful state.

Please remember to pop over to my website and send me a note through the contact page if you’d like an autographed bookplate for all of your copies of the Queen of the Rockies series. If you’re an eBook fan, I’ve heard of the brilliant idea to keep an album of your favorite authors’ bookplates. I’d be happy to send you those for an album as well.

Best wishes,

Angela Breidenbach

Blog Stops

lakesidelivingsite, January 17

Austen’s Angle: Jane Austen’s Influence in Modern America, January 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 19

Joanna Bair Author, January 19

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

Betti Mace, January 20

Inklings and notions, January 21

Connect in Fiction, January 21

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 22

For Him and My Family, January 22

deb’s Book Review, January 23

Blossoms and Blessings, January 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 24

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 25

Pause for Tales, January 25

Connie’s History Classroom, January 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 27 (Spotlight)

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 28

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 30

Mary Hake, January 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angela is giving away the grand prize 20-minute genealogy consultation to a winner via Zoom!!

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/17c5b/queen-of-the-rockies-celebration-tour-giveaway

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Lessman

About the Book

Title: Shadows of Swanford Abbey

Author: Julie Klassen

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2021

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency

Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick–magistrate, widower, and former neighbor–who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .

My Impressions

“For the first time in years, the rusty hinges of his shuttered heart gave an experimental creak.”
Julie Lessman entices the reader into the world of the Jane Austen era with beautifully crafted sentences like this. Lessman’s latest offering, The Shadows of Swanford Abbey, is wonderfully stuffed with mystery, Regency-era (even a bit of Gothic) romance, and faith.

It is March of 1820 in Worcestershire, England.
Rebecca Lane returns home to care for her foundering brother. His problems are deeper than Rebecca realized, and she must board at a nearby hotel, where a famous writer is in residence.

A former family friend who is also their landlord, Frederick Wilford, is staying at this hotel. Wilford’s manor renovations, started by his deceased wife, were never completed. Before his marriage, young Rebecca carried a torch for Frederick. Can she hide the embarrassment of that attraction now?

So many different characters to puzzle out, whether Rebecca’s brother, John, Miss Selina Newport or Lady Fitzhoward, to name a few of the supporting cast. What fun it is when there are several well-thought-out and presented mysteries to try to work through before all is revealed.

Rebecca is greatly loyal, but that lands her in a heap of trouble. “She just wanted her brother back as he had once been, but she feared that John was gone forever.” She wants to help John, but how far will she go in the name of brotherly love? What will that do to the attraction that is finally blossoming between her and her erstwhile unrequited love? One thing she does realize is this:
“Family . . . once gone, there’s no replacing them.”

A ghost. Secrets of the former convent. Relationships are hidden, some for nefarious reasons, some discarded in the shadows of the past. What will come to light at the end?

Lovers of Regency Romance, who also want faith and mystery will devour this Lessman novel, as will historical buffs. Definitely discovering I have not read enough of Julie Klassen’s expertly crafted Regency tales! Hand me another, please!!

I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House via NetGalley. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Expertly Crafted Gothic Regency!! One of my faves for 2021!

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase, Wild Heart Books

Harmony on the Horizon by Kathleen Denly Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Harmony on the Horizon

Author: Kathleen Denly

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: January 4, 2022

Harmony-on-the-Horizon-Kindle

Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Wow! Harmony on the Horizon, Kathleen Denly’s third book in her Chaparral Hearts series, is just amazing!! While Harmony is set in 1865 San Francisco and San Diego, the issues presented are just as relevant today as they were then. Prejudice in many forms, false rescuer mentality, gossip and mob pressure, self-importance, and the list goes on. I could not believe how many issues Denly covers, including salvation, while creating a very riveting and action-packed storyline.

Fletcher Johnson is one heroic, young man we meet, whose aim in life is to right wrongs, one person at a time. Fletcher believes the end justifies the means, as he defends the downtrodden. Sometimes I liked Fletcher, and other times I really wanted to set him straight.

Katie Mizedale, a hapless, daydreaming maid, shares my sentiments about Fletcher. Katie’s faith is astounding, especially given her background.

Enter center stage the main heroine of the novel, Margaret Foster. Bravely coming west from Boston to teach, the year she ends up with in no way resembles what she had been expecting.

Part of that is due to Everett Thompson, who is determined to build a great city out of San Diego. A floundering businessman, he finds that the school teacher he hires may be more than he bargained for.

A historical western romance not to be missed!!

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

Notable Quotables:

Several children rushed past her to pick up jellyfish and toss them into the water, but Rosa hung back, wringing her hands. “But they’re so dirty and gross.” Margaret bent low to meet the girl’s eyes. “Sometimes we have to get messy to show that we care.”

God’s changes don’t imprison us, they set us free. They help us to become better and give us strength and joy, even when the world would try to steal those things from us.

Why must doing right so often come at great cost?

How could these people hear God’s Word and yet be so hardened as to nurture hatred in their hearts? Did they not know they were in the presence of the One who offered unconditional love?

The story was at complete odds with Fletcher’s idea of God as an angry judge waiting to criticize and condemn everyone for failing to live up to His impossible standards…Had he misunderstood who God truly was?

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Historical Western Romance Not to be Missed!!

About the Author

Kathleen Denly lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, and two 

Kathleen Denly Headshot 3

cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

More from Kathleen

Who Invented Romance?

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but romance novels are sometimes viewed as the black sheep of the fiction industry. For various reasons, some people view romance stories with a disdainful eye. Knowing this, I still choose to write romance stories and some may wonder why.

First and foremost, I’ve had a passion for romance for as long as I can remember. I was absolutely one of those typical little girls who played dress-up in her mother’s clothes (or in my case, her lingerie. Eek! I had no idea. LOL) and planned my future wedding day. For reasons I can’t explain, the idea of a man and woman falling in love and pledging their life to one another has always enthralled me.

Or perhaps I can explain.

You see, I was raised in a Christian family and have always been exposed to the Bible. Have you ever looked at your Bible from a romantic perspective? When you stop to consider it, there is more than enough romance in God’s Word to justify placing it on the Romance Novel shelf in a bookstore. At least there would be if novels weren’t inherently fiction and the Bible wasn’t entirely true. (And aren’t we grateful that the Bible is completely true?)

So, in a way, one could say that God is the first romance author. After all, what is more romantic than a groom sacrificing his life for his bride? It even has the requisite happy ending, because He rose from the dead and will return for His bride.

The thing is, God isn’t just a romance author, He’s the inventor of romance. He was the first to demonstrate what love truly is. He is the one who defines it and describes its fruits so that we can recognize it when we see it. It’s His love that gives us life.

And the thing about romantic love is that it has a unique power to change people, to break down their emotional walls in ways that might not happen otherwise. There is a reason God designed man and woman to be together. Many reasons, in fact. But I am convinced that one of them is His ability to use that beautiful relationship to draw His children closer to His own heart.

So yes, some may look down on romance novels and those who read or write them, but I stand tall and proud, because I know that true romance–the kind God authors–is something to cherish and honor. I am blessed to be able to share God’s truths through the wondrous stories of two hearts joining together as one.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 6

Bizwings Blog, January 7

Austen’s Angle: Jane Austen’s Influence in Modern America, January 7

Texas Book-aholic, January 8

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 9

The Christian Fiction Girl, January 9

Inklings and notions, January 10

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 11

deb’s Book Review, January 12

For Him and My Family, January 13

Mary Hake, January 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 14

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 16

Blossoms and Blessings, January 16

Connie’s History Classroom, January 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 19

Book Butterfly in Dreamland, January 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a Kindle Fire HD8 Plus, a custom Harmony on the Horizon Kindle case, a Harmony on the Horizon altered notebook, a Chaparral Hearts pen, a pair of earrings, a pin, and a scripture keychain!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/17190/harmony-on-the-horizon-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz Review

About the Book

Title: A Heart Adrift

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Released: January 2022

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction

It is 1755, and the threat of war with France looms over colonial York, Virginia. Chocolatier Esmee Shaw is fighting her own battle of the heart. Having reached her twenty-eighth birthday, she is reconciled to life alone after a decade-old failed love affair from which she’s never quite recovered. But she longs to find something worthwhile to do with her life.

Captain Henri Lennox has returned to port after a lengthy absence, intent on completing the lighthouse in the dangerous Chesapeake Bay, a dream he once shared with Esmee. But when the colonial government asks him to lead a secret naval expedition against the French, his future is plunged into uncertainty.

Will a war and a cache of regrets keep them apart, or can their shared vision and dedication to the colonial cause heal the wounds of the past? Bestselling and award-winning author Laura Frantz whisks you away to a time fraught with peril–on the sea and in the heart–in this redemptive, romantic story.

My Impressions

After reading A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz, how can I be so disloyal to Esmée and Henri as to start another book? I read this novel as slowly as I could, savoring every poetic turn of phrase and lyrical word picture! A Heart Adrift has left my heart undone!! Replete with romance, intrigue, faith, and history, Laura Frantz has created another enduring masterpiece. The evils of slavery, both for those captured and those who fought it are presented. Trust in God and constant reliance on His Word and communion with Him permeate the lives of both Esmée and Henri, even through harrowing times. Set against the capriciousness of the sea and early colonial politics (1745-1755) mixed with the delicious smells of a chocolatier’s shop and difficult family dynamics, this is one historical romance that will bring the early colonial struggles to vivid life.


I received a copy of the book from the author and Revell through NetGalley. I also bought myself and a loved one a paperback copy to treasure.
Notable Quotables:
“He chose the sea—his captaincy and ship—over me.” “And I could not conscience being left behind onshore.”

“And then, much like a courtship, as wooing as a siren’s song, the sea had finally won him over.”

Her fervent prayers went the way of her hopes and became floating wreckage.

“How can you possibly provide all these items, Miss Shaw?” “I shan’t provide them,” Esmée said with a confident smile, pocketing the paper. “The Almighty shall.”

“…the island suddenly felt a tad hollow, as did his cottage. To say nothing of his heart.”

“ ‘Tis never amiss to hope . . . dream.”

“I don’t believe in accidents, nor coincidences, but rather divine instances,”… “Especially in matters of the heart.”

“As for myself, I am in the prime of senility.”

“The only certainty about life was its uncertainty. Only God stayed steadfast. Only the Almighty could walk her through life’s many changes. And when she felt overwhelmed, like now, she simply had to look back to see how faithful God had been, did she not? The heartaches and closed doors of the past had made the present more beloved.”

“Those for whom God has mercy in store He first brings into a wilderness.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! I just don’t want to leave these wonderful characters!! A sea privateer who has to decide who his real love will be, the steadfast heart of a woman lightkeeper, and the colonies as they prepare for war and struggle with the slavery issue. Please don’t make me leave!!

About the Author

Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net.

Laura has written so many great historical novels. I personally have my sister to thank for telling me about Laura Frantz. Now I am buying and sending Laura’s books to her!

Just some of the books not to miss:

A Moonbow Night

The Mistress of Tall Acres

The Courtship of Morrow Little

The Colonel’s Lady

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

An Uncommon Heart

Tidewater Bride

and The Lacemaker

Look up Laura online for a more complete list!

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

Elinor by Shannon McNear Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Elinor

Author: Shannon McNear

Genre: Christian/Historical/Romance

Release date: December 1, 2021

9781643529547 cover

A Journey Full of Hope…
Escape into a riveting story based on the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Author Shannon McNear portrays history with vivid authenticity.

In 1587, Elinor White Dare sailed from England heavy with her first child but full of hopes. Her father, a renowned artist and experienced traveler, has convinced her and her bricklayer husband Ananias to make the journey to the New World. Land, they are promised, more goodly and beautiful than they can ever imagine. But nothing goes as planned from landing at the wrong location, to facing starvation, to the endless wait for help to arrive. And, beyond her comprehension, Elinor finds herself utterly alone. . . .
The colony at Roanoke disappeared into the shadows of history. But, what if one survived to leave a lasting legacy?

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

What really happened to the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke? Author Shannon McNear postulates an answer in an emotional, suspenseful tale that is sure to intrigue history buffs.
John White is the “older” governor of the Roanoke colony, trying valiantly to lead his small, capricious group of settlers to peace and safety in the New World. When he returns to England to beg for monies and supplies from the queen, the colonists are left with one loyal Native American friend, but many Native American enemies, often because of the white man’s previous dealings.
We follow the saga of Elinor Dare, John White’s daughter. Elinor is also Virginia Dare’s mother. Sometimes I almost forgot to breathe, the suspense is so great. Happiness, fear, anger, puzzlement, and hope are all emotions McNear’s characters experience throughout the novel, and McNear skillfully maneuvered my emotions along with them. Trust, anger, cultural differences, and hope amid heartache are all themes McNear explores in her meticulously researched book.


My favorite character is Sees Far. He is often unpredictable. He is drawn to Elinor, yet can’t decide how to treat her. His culture and his manhood in the tribe insist he act in ways not compatible with his early vision.
I found the novel harder to read than usual, as McNear prefers to use language as close to the times portrayed as possible. While authentic, it slowed my understanding down.
Research is near and dear to McNear’s heart. She has done her homework, many times over. In her exuberance, the author’s notes get a little drawn out for my taste.
I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own. (I also purchased paperbacks for myself and a treasured friend.)

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Well-Researched, Suspenseful, Fictionalized Account of Roanoke

About the Author

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.

More from Shannon

Why did I write this story? Well, God shoved the opportunity under my nose, and I didn’t want to be guilty of taking the easy way out, by saying no. 😊

Really, while the concept was fascinating, the execution was daunting, and sometimes terrifying. The Elizabethan Era—before the King James Bible and even before Shakespeare was popular! As a student of the Revolutionary War and surrounding times, I felt very much out of my depth.

Though the research sucked me in, it was also daunting. Sifting through various interpretations of the primary accounts and their own speculations on why they felt things must have gone a certain way. Trying to “find” my story amongst all the theories and opinions. Above all, getting to know my characters and letting them come alive in my own imagination.

And come alive, they did—in full color, with a vividness I did not expect. I hope I was able to translate even a portion of what I envisioned to the page, so that you also can see them!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 4

The Christian Fiction Girl, January 4

Joanna Bair, January 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 5

Rebecca Tews, January 5

For the Love of Literature, January 6

Remembrancy, January 6

Texas Book-aholic, January 7

Betti Mace, January 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 8

Inklings and notions, January 8

For Him and My Family, January 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 9

deb’s Book Review, January 10

Labor Not in Vain, January 10

Blogging With Carol, January 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 11

Connect in Fiction, January 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 12

To Everything There Is A Season, January 12

Mary Hake, January 12

Bizwings Blog, January 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 13

Connie’s History Classroom, January 14

Splashes of Joy, January 14

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 15 (Spotlight)

Sodbuster Living, January 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, January 16

Through the Fire Blogs, January 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 17

Pause for Tales, January 17

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 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/15d5e/elinor-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Lost in Darkness

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: FICTION/ Christian/Romance

Release date: November 1, 2021

9781636090658

England, 1815

Amelia Balfour has one dream. . .to tour Egypt as a travel writer. But when her wish is finally within reach, her father dies, and her malformed brother Colin depends upon her to arrange for a revolutionary surgery. Amelia returns home, hoping he’ll recover before the ship sails for Cairo.
Former Navy surgeon Graham Lambert is sick—of travelling, loneliness, and especially the injustice of the world. Leaving behind the military, he partners with a renowned surgeon, the man who promises new life to Amelia’s brother.
But just as the operation begins, Graham suspects the surgeon is a fraud. After a botched procedure, Colin goes mad and escapes, terrorizing their neighbor, author Mary Godwin—planting the seed for her greatest creation, Frankenstein.
Can Amelia and Graham stop Colin before he destroys everyone in his path and find the tender soul still trapped inside…or will they be too late?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“I have learned never to be quick to judge, for not all are as they appear at first meeting.”

Nobody writes Regency romance quite as eloquently as Michelle Griep. And now Michelle Griep adds Gothic to her expertly crafted subgenres as well. We start Lost in Darkness, #1 Of Monsters and Men, in 1815 London. There we discover Amelia Balfour, a travel journalist, hoping to leave for her dream trip to Egypt. Instead, she unexpectedly finds herself caring for her brother, Colin, whose physical deformities cause him to be a recluse from society. Few make the effort to see past the outer man to discover the gentle soul inside.
Will the two doctors who claim they can help Colin, be able to do such an incredible surgery as to make Colin’s form and visage passable to society? Or will there be unexpected problems on this quest for healing?

Griep is an Anglophile with a great love for the historical literature of the period. Rather than retell Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Griep imagines a scenario that would inspire Shelley’s masterpiece. And what an intriguing and suspenseful novel Griep pens! I love all the philosophical questions Griep raises while keeping the reader enthralled with the romantic, gothic atmosphere. How far can a doctor experiment on humans before he has crossed an ethical line? When has one stopped trying to help, and started trying to gain power and prestige at a deep cost to others? “If one could mend the mind, one could bend the mind…” At what cost does one desire success? Many characters must wrestle with this issue.

I loved seeing Graham Lambert progressively develop a spine. Will he actually continue to exert the new muscle he has developed, or shrink back when push comes to shove?

I enjoyed the inclusion of a certain waif. I am a sucker for children in stories, and this one doesn’t fit the mold waifs are usually relegated to.

One more note: I love when slightly dark or suspenseful books have some comic relief. Griep includes this with notes of humor from the maid, off-setting the seriousness and tragedy being presented. Bravo!!

Hard to pick just a few Notable Quotables!

“If houses had souls, this one was clearly bound for Hades.”

“Do not live your lives looking over your shoulder, wondering what others think of your behaviour. It is God you will answer to one day, not society.”

“…the most holy band of society is friendship.”

“There was no cure for fear or despair, leastwise not in his bag of tools.”

“Trust must ultimately rest on God, not in folklore, which is flimsy at best and malignant at worst.”

“Yet I find it is not justice so much as mercy that makes all things right.”

“Family, no matter the size of it, is precious. Never leave a loved one behind.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! An Awesome Gothic Regency, Full of Truth Amid the Shadows

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan.

More from Michelle

Are You a Monster Too?

“Look at that! The fattest girl in the class is the first one to get in line for a cupcake.”

Those words, spoken to me in junior high by a clueless boy, are forever seared into my memory. Just because I wasn’t a willowy stick-figure who didn’t match up to magazine covers, I was singled out. Made to feel ashamed. Made to feel like a monster.

Have you ever felt that way?

Chances are you have. We are all poked and prodded at some point in our lives…which brings up a few questions. How do you deal with the sometimes ugly perceptions with which others view you? How do you stop trying to prove your worth to others, when in their eyes you are somehow worthless? Why does God allow such hurtful things to happen anyway?

These are the questions I attempt to tackle in my new release, Lost in Darkness. And surprisingly enough, those are the very same issues contemplated in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Now hold on. Don’t go rolling your eyeballs quite yet—which is the usual response whenever Frankenstein is mentioned.

Most people’s conception of this great piece of literature has been forever ruined by Hollywood’s green creature. You know the one, the giant with bolts sticking out of his neck and a stiff-legged walk. So not true. The essence of Shelley’s “horror” story is instead about a creature who struggles with heartfelt needs that can only be met by his creator. In this story, Shelley respectfully handles the subject of what we owe our creator and what our creator’s responsibility is toward us as the created…the very same questions we all struggle with.

As does Colin Balfour, a man with a heart of gold and a face that causes children to scream. In Lost in Darkness, he hopes to undergo a life-changing surgery that will end his self-imposed isolation. But what really happens is a life change for his sister Amelia and the surgeon who tries to prevent it all from happening. For indeed, even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Blog Stops

Life of Literature, November 29

Genesis 5020, November 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 29

The Write Escape, November 30

Betti Mace, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Remembrancy, December 1

Inklings and notions, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 2

Daysong Reflections, December 2

For Him and My Family, December 2

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 3

Bigreadersite, December 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 4

For the Love of Literature, December 4

SodbusterLiving, December 4

deb’s Book Review, December 5

Splashes of Joy, December 5

Back Porch Reads, December 5

Connie’s History Classroom, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 6

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 7

Through the fire blogs, December 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 8

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 8

Pause for Tales, December 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 9

Labor Not in Vain, December 9

To Everything There Is A Season, December 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, December 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 10

Truth and Grace HomeschoolAcademy, December 11

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 11 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 11

Rachael’s Inkwell, December 12

Blogging With Carol, December 12

Connect in Fiction, December 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 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/1

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 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/13cfd/lost-in-darkness-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, Kindle, Purchase

The Nutcracker’s Suite by Chautona Havig Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Nutcracker’s Suite

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Christmas Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling

Release date: November 26, 2021

Nutcracker

“Time to dance, sugarplum.”

A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is
strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s
office, especially one in particular.

Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of
secrets.

When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to
prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo
Natale and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.

A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the
offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before
the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off,
too.

This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker
Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Totally Terrific!! Chautona Havig can write any genre she undertakes. In The Nutcracker’s Suite, though, she outdoes herself in presenting a suspenseful mystery mashing together a retelling of the Nutcracker, a 1920s Prohibition mob mix-up, and a romance with faith interspersed. I was glued to my seat until I finished, at turns laughing out loud and terrified. I get the distinct impression the author is having a blast with the creation of this story! As a result, the reader has a rollicking good time.
I’ve read several Havig novels, and The Nutcracker’s Suite just vaulted to the top and into my list of Top Ten CF Novels of 2021!! The mystery kept me guessing and I never did quite figure it out!! Well-done!! I must admit, I loved Havig’s use of sarcasm, especially as it relates to Clarice’s thoughts. I hope there will be a book for Lily in the future.

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

Notable Quotables:

“His ability to think dashed out and into the street where he was certain, it would be run over by a police car.”

“The lies are piling up faster than finished nutcrackers.”

“Did she just lie with the truth?”

“Not married, but I’ll remember that if I ever find a nice girl.” He didn’t say, “like you,” but Milo heard it and wanted to tie the man’s throat in a knot for it.”

“Keep her safe. If you aren’t a man of faith, become one and then pray until you can’t think anymore, but keep her safe.” It was a fool’s promise, but Milo made it. “I will.”

“…feelings always demanded an audience, even at the expense of truth.”

“Topo. It means mouse. I’m the attic mouse.”

“Every word the man spoke sat on a paragraph of threats.”

“People dying have a way of interfering with one’s shopping.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! A Rollicking Good Time IF You Survive Suspense

About the Author

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours, and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Here Are Several Fun Facts & a Secret about The Nutcracker’s Suite

You’d think that while writing a book based on the fairy tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, I’d have heard “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in my head as I wrote. Well, I guess for a brief moment I did, because at some point, someone actually says that. “Dance, sugar plum!”

But Tchaikovsky isn’t who played in my head as I wrote. Over and over, word after word, my fingers did their bourres and glissades across my keyboard to one, rather unexpected song. “Ballerina” (I prefer the version sung by Buddy Clark. You can listen HERE.)

However, there are so many elements of the original ballet’s story in mine. I thought I’d share a few of them.

Let’s talk about the cast of characters.

Clarice Stahl is our “leading lady.” It’s kind of obvious where I got her name since the original character was Clara Stahlbaum.

Clarice works for Mr. Dieter Meyer, the owner of Meyer’s Toys. He gives her the job of painting nutcrackers. So, it’s not too difficult to see the connection to Uncle Drosselmeyer who gives Clara the nutcracker, no?

All of 1925 Rockland is in the clutches of mob king, Mario Topo. For those not fluent in Italian, can you guess what “topo” is in that language? Remember… he’s the mob “king.” 😉

But I think my favorite name of all is Emiliano (I call him Milo) Natale (Christmas in Italian… just sayin’) who is known as “the nutcracker.” He’s an enforcer for Mr. Topo, and that means he squeezes people until they crack and do what Topo wants. Let’s hope he repents!

Yes, I had a boatload of fun coming up with this stuff! How’d you guess?

I have a secret to confess about this book. I’m writing this post when I’m only about a quarter of the way done. I went to get the synopsis for this tour and went, “oops!” You see, I forgot that I’d planned to make Milo going missing a big part of the plot.

Guess who has to flex? I’d better get back to it. They need to figure out who killed our victim… and why. And before Clarice is next!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

For the Love of Literature, November 28

By the Book, November 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 29

Inklings and notions, November 29

For Him and My Family, November 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, November 30

deb’s Book Review, December 1

Bizwings Blog, December 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 2

Genesis 5020, December 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 3

Simple Harvest Reads, December 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Connie’s History Classroom, December 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 4

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 5

Connect in Fiction, December 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 6

Mary Hake, December 6

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 7

Through the fire blogs, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Lots of Helpers, December 8

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 9 (Author Interview)

Back Porch Reads, December 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away to three winners one Prize box each including a paperback of The Nutcracker’s Suite, themed goodies, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card in each!!

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/13cfb/the-nutcracker-s-suite-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, Kregel, NetGalley, Read with Audra

The Debutante’s Code by Erica Vetsch Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Title: The Debutante’s Code

Series: #1 Thorndike and Swann Regency Mysteries

Author: Erica Vetsch

Publisher: Kregel Books

Released: December 7, 2021

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series
 
Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn’t spent much time with her parents and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They’ve been living double lives as government spies–and they’re only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family’s legacy.
 
Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors–not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.
 
Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents’ last mission?
 
Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.
 
Click here to read an excerpt.

My Impressions

Wow! This is only the second book I’ve read by Erica Vetsch, but The Debutante’s Code just pushed Vetsch into my must-watch authors.

An adventurous and resourceful debutante, fresh from finishing school, Juliette’s biggest desire is to return home to get reacquainted with the parents she has missed for seven long years. Unfortunately, upon entering society, she finds herself in the care of a drunken uncle and an overbearing dowager duchess. When Lady Juliette makes a surprise discovery about her parents, can she reconcile the faith they taught her with what she now knows to be true?

Daniel Swann of Bow Street, a young police constable, has humble beginnings that his superior never tires of reminding him about. Yet, when he meets Juliette Thorndike following a robbery at a wealthy residence, he is intrigued.

I fell in love with both of these characters. Juliette is kind, intelligent, and so brave, and willing to learn all she can about her new calling.
I felt her pain and confusion in my own soul over her parents’ absence. Daniel Swann… well, for starters, Swann is very close to the word Swoon. Perhaps there is a connection! Poor Daniel!! He has parental issues, too. Plus, his job is in jeopardy because of unfair bias. The closer Daniel gets to Juliette, the more he realizes she is not who she seems.

Unfortunately for the reader, this book ends without a solid conclusion. We must wait for book two to see what develops in many ways. I will be first in line!

The epilogue and author’s notes are essential parts of this book. There are links to more information on certain items of interest.

I received a copy of this book from the author through I Read with Audra via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all thoughts are solely my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnifcent! Vetsch Becoming a New Fave Author!!

About the Author

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.
 
Vetsch is the author of many novellas and novels, including the popular Serendipity & Secrets Regency series and the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series
 
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
 
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

More from Erica

Do you have a fiction lover on your holiday shopping list? Look no further for a gift suggestion! Just in time for the gift-giving season, award-winning author Erica Vetsch is kicking off her new Thorndike & Swann Regency mystery series with the release of The Debutante’s Code (Kregel Publications). This new series combining a historical setting, romance, and mystery has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes. With that combination, where can you go wrong?

Q: Introduce us to the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series which has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes.

This story has been a long time in the making! It has to be almost ten years ago that I first thought up the story idea, and originally, it was set in Gilded Age New York. But when I began writing stories set in Regency England, I realized the original tale could easily be adapted to the Regency Era.

Our heroine longs to be reunited with her parents and have her debut season in London, but her plans go awry when her parents do not meet her at the docks and are, in fact, missing. She discovers that she comes from a long line of spies for the Crown, and she has a choice, either to finish what her parents started, or turn her back on her heritage and become the socialite she assumed she would be all along. Her mind is made up when murder is afoot.

Our hero is a Bow Street Runner, one of London’s earliest policemen, and he’s on the hunt for a stolen painting…then other valuables from the same shipment of rare items disappear one by one, and an art dealer is found murdered in his gallery. Each clue leads our hero closer and closer to the thief and killer, but he’s disconcerted to find that his chief suspect has become the debutante he finds so attractive.

Q: Tell us more about your leading lady, Juliette Thorndike.

Juliette is fresh from finishing school in Switzerland, where she has been for several years. Because of Britain’s ongoing war with France, her parents determined a cloistered school in Switzerland was a safe place for her to remain, especially while they were doing daring deeds for the monarch. Juliette is an accomplished toxophilite, avid reader, puzzle solver, and good dancer. 

Most of all, Juliette yearns for her family to be reunited. She was a child when she was sent to Switzerland, and she longs to know her parents as an adult. They have been in frequent communication via letters, but it isn’t the same as being together in person. When she discovers that her parents have kept such a dire secret from her all these years, she wonders if she’s ever known them at all.

Q: Juliette has a somewhat fantasized view of who her parents are, yet she really hasn’t spent that much time around them. What happens to make her realize she’s never really known them at all?

They’ve hidden so many things from her—from her heritage to their activities and hidden rooms in their house. She has created an image in her mind of what life will be like once they are reunited, but now she wonders if any of it is even possible, much less probable. 

She’s always felt secure in her parents’ love, but if they can lie about something so big, what else have they lied about?

Q: Why does Juliette not only feel abandon by her parents, but abandoned by God?

We often form our views of a Heavenly Father from our experience with our earthly parents, for good or for ill. Juliette has not been ill-treated by her parents, or at least she didn’t think she had, but if they could abandon her on the eve of her coming out in society (in what should be the most important year of her life), can she trust anything about them?

Their priorities clearly don’t line up with hers. They put their work ahead of their daughter. Is that fair? Is that right?

They’ve taught her that God is with her, that He will never abandon her, but can she trust what they have taught her when they can lie so easily?

Q: How have Juliette’s parents been preparing her to be a part of the “family business” even though they haven’t been a physical presence in her life? A person wearing a green dress

Description automatically generated with low confidenceA variety of ways, starting with protecting her from the truth when she was very small. They also took great care in the school they chose for her to attend. She’s conversant in French and some Italian as well as English, has been taught the skills required of a young lady in the British aristocracy, such as dancing, deportment, music, and art. 

But she’s also learned a great deal of history, logic, and rhetoric in her curriculum, as well as archery. All skills that will aid her if she chooses to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a spy for the Crown.

And her father added another twist. He wrote to her often, but always in code. A different code each time, growing more complex as she grew and became more adept at deciphering his codes. 

Juliette comes to realize that her parents have been preparing her for her future role, but she doesn’t realize how quickly her skills will be tested.

Q: A Regency novel is not a Regency novel without a swoon-worthy hero. Just who is Daniel Swann?

Ah, Daniel. He’s had very little say in his life up to now, being the illegitimate son of a household servant. He’s done every chore that can be found on a country estate, from being the boot boy in charge of cleaning and polishing all the shoes, to helping the groundskeepers and gardeners with the weeding and planting, to working in the stables and riding the master’s horses out to exercise. In his own way, he’s been training for his future, too.

Through more outside influence, he was removed from his mother’s care, sent to boarding school, and then to Oxford with the understanding that his guardianship would end at his 25th birthday, which is fast approaching. Then he will be in command of his life for the first time…but he wonders if he’s up to the task.

Q: Daniel has a bit of a mysterious past himself—one that even eludes him even though he’s a detective. How has his past directed his career choice?

Daniel has no idea who his mysterious patron is, and he is forbidden from searching out his identity. He’s given other rules he must follow, including cutting off all ties with his mother. He was a bewildered, homesick child, wrenched from his home and shipped off to boarding school, and he believes his mother was only too glad to be rid of him, otherwise why would she agree to such a terrible thing? 

Daniel studied art and history at Oxford, unsure of what he would do for a career, but when a Bow Street officer shows up to investigate a murder in the Oxford Canal, Daniel is hooked on detective work. With the help of his hidden patron, he secures a job at Bow Street, against the wishes of his new superior officer, who is always looking for a reason to dismiss Daniel. 

With his past so shrouded in mystery, his current situation tenuous, and his future racing toward him at his 25th birthday when his patronage will cease, Daniel focuses on being the best detective he can be and hopes things will all work out.

Q: What kind of research was required to write a mystery set in the early 1800s? What are some of the methods detectives of the day would have to depend on?

There was quite a bit of research involved in this one, from police procedures to art history. Much studying of maps and the hierarchy of society, the lives of British spies, and fitting it all into the current political and social situations of the times. I had fun deciding upon the various items that would go missing, from statues to jewelry to artwork, and deciding upon different ways each piece could be acquired.

As to the police methods of the day, the Bow Street detectives didn’t have our current levels of forensic science to help identify culprits. They relied upon eyewitness testimony, circumstantial evidence, catching someone red-handed, and by following the paperwork/money trail. Some things have not changed. The main motives for lawbreaking still fall into three categories: money, power, and sex. Who has it, who wants it, who wants to deny someone else from acquiring it? And in Regency times, the detectives were still looking for motive, means, and opportunity. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Debutante’s Code is my first true mystery, and it’s all wrapped into a heist story, so layering those different threads together was a new adventure for me.

Q: Fans fell in love with the characters from your Serendipity & Secrets series. Is there any chance we might see some familiar faces make a cameo in your new series?

I am delighted that the Thorndike & Swann mysteries take place in what I like to call the “Haverly Universe” first created in the Serendipity & Secrets series. In The Debutante’s Code, several characters from the S&S series reappear, including the Duke of Haverly, Marcus, his duchess, Charlotte, and the Dowager Duchess of Haverly, who is a personal favorite of mine.

Though there is a host of new characters in The Debutante’s Code, as the series unfolds, more of the S&S cast will come into the stories. 

Q: Can you give us a tease of what to expect in the remainder of the Thorndike & Swann series?

The next book, Millstone of Doubt, begins with a bang! Literally! A grist mill on the Thames explodes, but when the rubble and dust are cleared, a man is found dead, not from the explosion, but from a gunshot! Was the mill blown up to cover the murder? Who would want the mill owner dead? Daniel and Juliette put their heads together to sort out the crime, while Juliette juggles her new career as a spy and a debutante, and Daniel uncovers many of the secrets he needs to piece together the puzzle of his past.
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor) and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).

Giveaway

https://www.ericavetsch.com/giveaway.html

BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, Pre-purchased through author.

Goodness and Mercy by Debbie Viguie

About the Book

Title: Goodness and Mercy

Series: #18 Psalm 23 Mysteries

Author: Debbie Viguie

Publisher: Big Pink Bow

Released: November 2021(note: available at debbieviguie.com or soon on Amazon)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

In the 18th installment of the Psalm 23 mysteries series, Cindy and Jeremiah find themselves in over their heads when a trip to New Orleans goes terribly wrong.

My Review

So, this series, the Psalm 23 Mysteries by Debbie Viguié, is my abs fave of all time!! Murder, a Jewish rabbi and a Christian secretary (how will THAT come together?!), characters that I swear I know like friends suddenly shocking me. Each book revolves around a holiday. This is book #18 in the series, and it is ESSENTIAL to read the books in order. Viguié refers to so many characters and events from past novels, you feel like someone handed you a spoonful of your fave dessert each time that happens. Somehow, Viguié manages to turn everything you thought you knew about your beloved characters on their heads, and you trust NOBODY in this book!! YIKES!! Yet, this book contains a crucial, wonderful scene we Psalm 23 fans have been waiting for, like forever!! Biting my nails, howling with laughter, angrily growling at the author for her treatment of fave characters!! Absolutely highly recommended!! Not for the faint of heart!!

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My All-Time Fave Series!! Best Book of Series Yet!!

About the Author

Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of more than three dozen novels including the Wicked series co-authored with Nancy Holder. In addition to her epic dark fantasy work, Debbie also writes thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries, the Kiss trilogy, and the Witch Hunt trilogy. Debbie also plays a recurring character in the audio drama, Doctor Geek’s Laboratory. When Debbie isn’t busy writing or acting she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks.