For botanist, Bettina Gilbert, mining is an offense against God’s green earth. With the shortage of women in Montana, Luke travels to Chicago to manage the Montana mining exhibition hoping to also find a wife. Only that pretty botanist keeps disrupting his mining presentations … and his chances of meeting the right woman! A city girl who despises his way of life would be the worst choice for a miner’s wife, wouldn’t she?
Uplifting, wholesome romance set in the Gilded Age during Chicago’s World Fair. Written by bestselling author and professional genealogist, Angela Breidenbach. Accurate to history while entertaining, inspiring, with a lovely ambiance of hope.
“She couldn’t focus on the future if she lived in the pain of her past.”
Each Queen of the Rockies novel gets better and better. After this fifth installment, Bride of the Rockies, Angela Breidenbach has set the bar very high for herself.
First, she managed to put important historical notes in the introduction. My appetite for what was to come was greatly whetted.
Secondly, Breidenbach uses a setting far away from Montana to impart Montana history. What a unique idea! I love it!
Thirdly, I loved Bettina Gilbert’s first impression of the alabaster buildings set up for the 1893 World’s Fair. “From the distance, the shape made by the harbor buildings seemed more like Bettina pictured the Lord’s giant throne room, regal and triumphant, calling believers into His presence.”
What about the main characters, you ask? Luke Edwards is absolutely charming. I love Bettina’s passionate heart to help others with her talents provided by God and her family. Will these two find enough common ground to form more than a friendship?
Ok, Lydia and Jennie win hands-down for best-supporting characters, helping to make this a truly great and humorous story!! Their calculated and outlandish matchmaking knows no bounds. And their scientific feedback just might border on relationship advice! Bride of the Rockies actually has some good marriage relationship advice, but it is also hilarious!
After some unexpected twists, I found myself closing the book with a hearty laugh and satisfied smile. If you are a fan of Christian historical romance, humor, or the 1893 World’s Fair, this may be a great fit for you!
I received a free copy of the book from the author through Celebrate Lit. (I also bought my own copy.) No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Not everyone in Montana is a cowboy, Miss Gilbert.”
“He didn’t fear marriage. But he sure feared being in the wrong marriage. Slow it down and get the right wife, his father had said. Get to know her first.”
“It’s like good relationships, if you sow on fertile ground and pull the weeds of misunderstanding regularly then your tender crop has a chance.”
“She couldn’t focus on the future if she lived in the pain of her past.”
“She might not have drowned in the lake but his eyes drew her like a bottomless well.”
Magnificent!! Another Hilarious Heaping Helping of Montana History
About the Author
Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, media personality, conference speaker, bestselling author of eighteen books, and screenwriter. Angela lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angela can also. Catch her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach!
More from Angela
Rabbit trails. The paths that draw a writer away from her planned research. That’s what happened when I started researching Queen of the Rockies. I hopped down a rabbit trail that took me into an entirely different story. Here I was writing about the beginning of Montana as a state, the real people, and the unusual stories of the Gilded Age. Then a thread of the Chicago World’s Fair kept popping up like little bunnies in the middle of the field that darted here and there.
Well, those little rabbit trails captured my fascination. I couldn’t stop chasing them. I wanted to know more about why people who were busy carving out a new state would want to travel halfway across the country and live in Chicago for five months. Why would they care? What were their goals? Who were these unusual people? So, I did the smart thing. I started a new document to think about writing a later story.
The more I researched the first book in this series, Queen of the Rockies, the more I found tidbits of names that reappeared in newspapers. Then I followed a few of those names just to see what had become of them. I found a lot more than I expected. From the social pages in newspapers to club minute books to journals the stories of some really interesting women came to light. Their goals were much more than for one family or one town. These people found a cause bigger than themselves. They found a bond in forging a state that held respectability in the world’s eyes. These people were tired, and offended, of the constant slur — the Wild West. And they were going to change that erroneous misconception!
The rest of civilization didn’t understand how modern, elegant, and valuable Montana was in the 1890s. But the people of Montana were about to prove their infant state was the shining star on the American flag. She was no infant. This beautiful state, whose capitol was fully electric already, could hold her own among the elegant countries slated to be at that fair in 1893.
Come turn the pages of Bride of the Rockies and find out what these people, and especially the women, did to put Montana in the world headlines. See why they stunned with never before seen discoveries displayed in their pavilion during the Columbian Exposition. Can you imagine being given 10% of the budget while the men had 90%, in essence set up as the underdog, and blowing the world away with what you do with it? Walking away with the win? Not just one win…seven!
Bride of the Rockies took me on a fabulous rabbit trail of research. I hope this story will be fun for you, too!
A rushed lunch and a bold move introduce Carlie to a stranger—one who hardly acknowledges her existence as he sits across from her, sharing his booth to save her a wait in a long line. What began as a random encounter becomes a weekly date in which Carlie chatters about her life to a silent lunchmate. Much about him interests her–his slightly Euro fashion sense, his commitment to the work he does as he eats his lunch week after week, and his evident attention to the running monologue she shares between bites of meals that he inevitably pays for. Dean gets to know the woman across from him–looks forward to their lunches each week, learns valuable lessons about himself—but when the cafe is threatened, and then when she doesn’t show up one day, he suspects their unusual friendship means more to him than he imagined.
Settle into the booth with Carlie and Dean and learn just how eloquent silence really is.
“Every time you slip, just once, your mouth becomes a cesspool of linguistic garbage.”
Chautona Havig likes to set up unique premises for novels she then tackles as a challenge to turn into an interesting, faith-filled, and believable storyline. Yet, Corner Booth may be one of the most unusual ideas yet. Based on the Bible verse found in James 1:19, “…You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry,” Havig builds her romance around a young, verbose, theology professor and a beautiful retail clerk who has no true self-concept. Weekly lunch dates consists of the talkative prof being refusing to talk to his pretty lunch date, only listen, as she pours out details of her heart. I love the growth we see in both characters, Dean and Carlie, by the end of the book, but oy, the pain of getting there!!
My fave character is often a supporting character who contributes to the necessary changes in one of the main characters, and without whom the story would be incomplete. Larry is the winner of that category in this book. He is a keen observer, actually of both Dean and Carlie, he has great insight, patience, tact, and loves others despite knowing their flaws. Plus he speaks the truth in love.
I would encourage you to see how Ms. Havig can turn a book with such an unusual premise into a real-life, believable, truth-filled novel you’ll long remember! Oh, yes, if you like to laugh out loud and read witticisms, those are bonus givens in Havig’s works!!
I received a copy of the book from the author and Celebrate Lit, plus I bought my own. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“They can’t seem to comprehend why it’s important to base their beliefs on Scripture over conventional wisdom.”
“…the only thing separating jock from jerk is a vowel.”
“While feelings are real, they do not always reflect truth.”
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling author of 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
You know, originally, I had Dean as a guy who was too wrapped up in his own little world to care about anyone else—the stereotypical academic. I pictured him buried deep in original Biblical manuscripts, annoyed that anyone would dare to invade his study time.
But you know what? That’s the easycharacter.
When I went back to edit the book, I had this thought. What if Dean weren’t reclusive at all? What if he were kind of a know-it-all who couldn’t keep his thoughts to himself. Maybe a child prodigy who was used to people thinking him rather brilliant and looking for his insights.
Yeah… I could get into that.
There was just one small problem. I’d written the entire book without him talking much at all on those Wednesdays. Now what?
After much deliberation, even more prayer, and a bit of fudging, I came up with the solution. What if he just challenged himself for “one lunch?” Just one hour or so of not talking to prove to himself (and his peers) that he could do it.
How could he possibly know he’d set things up for months of wordless lunches—on his part? And what would a person learn in a situation like that?
I’ve never admitted this before, but I tested it a bit. At situations where I could, I forced myself to listen to people’s stories, their questions, their opinions. The hard part was not spending my listening time formulating my response (how rude anyway!). I really had to focus on exactly what they said, how their voice altered based on their emotions, and what others around us had to say to encourage (or not—too often not, I’ll admit).
I learned a lot with the experiment, and I’ll be honest. I still catch myself listening with an ear to how I’ll respond instead of really listening. No, I don’t expect to find some café romance for myself. My guy is amazing, and he’s probably the only person on the planet who could put up with me, so… I think I’ll keep him. But I do expect to keep learning how to really hear people. You know… kind of like Jesus did. Imagine that.
If any place on God’s earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law’s Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past–the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls’ experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, past troubles become rich soil in which faith can grow.
Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother’s widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again.
But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing.
“Are you fey, child?”…””Is that the same as tetched in the head?…If so, I don’t think I am. My mother told me I wasn’t and not to pay mind to anyone who said I was.”
“Most people have some life scars, Miss Warfield.
Sometimes they show, sometimes they don’t.”
“Scars aren’t a sign of wickedness. Mistreating children is a sign of wickedness.”- Calla
Ann H Gabhart has been a favorite author of mine for years now. Employing uncomplicated, warm, and homey language, Gabhart invites us into the lives of a fractured family trying to find normalcy in When the Meadows Bloom. Rose Meadows has spent years recovering from TB at a sanitarium. Her young daughters are left in a children’s home that promises to care well for them until she returns. Rose finally decides she is ready to well enough to leave snd reclaim the girls, but finds she must have someone to stay with. Enter her late husband’s reclusive, taciturn brother who owns a beautiful farm. Not promising new beginnings.
This book made me want to cry. To think that children’s home workers could be two-faced and not properly care for those in their charge.
I loved the tertiary characters who were not in charge, but who did what they could to lighten others’ burdens. Those who saw beyond their own needs or in one case, world.
I loved how even scarred hearts had openings where love and care eked out for the downtrodden. Which, I think, amazed even the persons suddenly showing such compassion!
If you love kids at all, you will love both fearful Calla and dreamy Sienna! They are so very different, yet love each other fiercely. You will only want the happiest of endings for these two wise-beyond-their-years, deeply scarred little girls. And you may come to care for the adults who love them, as well.
I received a copy of the book from Library Thing Early Reviewers. I also bought a copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Meadowland. The very name sounded like heaven.
You need a purpose other than what you are to somebody else.
Secrets nearly always surface eventually and bring with them troubles.
He could drown in those eyes of hers. “You are trespassing on my heart.”
Magnificent!! A Heartwarming Historical of Healing Scars
About the Author
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Along a Storied Trail, An Appalachian Summer, River to Redemption, These Healing Hills, and Angel Sister, along with several Shaker novels–The Refuge, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. Learn more at http://www.annhgabhart.com.
Placed in WITSEC while his brother testifies against a terrifying criminal, Tony Ortega must guard his young niece and nephew from the hit man hunting for them. Death Valley local Willow Duke’s hideout might just be the difference between the little family’s life or death. When bullets start flying, can they thwart a killer long enough to survive and become a family for real?
Dana Mentink once again gets the heart racing and turns up the heat in her Death Valley Hideout (#4 Desert Justice Book).
Willow Duke gets her story along with Tony Ortega. Problem is, Willow gets to know Tony and his children under false circumstances. Now they’re all in danger. Will Willow help Tony after this egregious deception, or will she walk away?
So many fun things about this book. A pairing of a quiet man with an impetuous woman. A four-year-old boy and an eighteen-month-old girl. That’ll get me every time! A down-home friend babysitting for her pal, committed first to the children. Mentink knows her desert setting, and displays a knowledge of helicopters and planes. Mentink provides rescuers who are wildcards. Ante up the suspense fast!! And last but not least, the Duke clan, all come together to help one of their own. “Well, Tony, you’re in for more help that you know what to do with. You request one Duke, you get them all.”
Not to be left out, the faith element. So important. I love the way Mentink shows the value of frequent prayer in the characters’ lives, allowing us to participate in their prayers. I got a very real sense of Tony’s and Willow’s dependence on God.
I read faster and faster, trying to outread speeding bullets, cars, and helicopters. And, of course, finger where the true danger lay. Well done, Ms. Mentink!
I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“You messed up, Tony. You never should have let her into your life. You can’t afford to have friends. Period.”
“You were friends with a guy who knowingly made you a target without your permission. In my book that’s no kind of friend.”
“But the Maestro hadn’t counted on one thing…he’d never met the Duke family.”
“…the Bible said it was possible to do anything that God wanted done. But being a substitute parent? Him? It was a tall order for a guy who couldn’t even keep a houseplant alive.”
“Love is not dependent on behavior.”
Magnificent!! More Desert, More Heat, More Dukes!!
About the Author
Dana Mentink is a USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author as well as a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, and the recipient of a Holt Medallion. She’s written over fifty titles in the suspense, lighthearted romance and mystery genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming, and Poisoned Pen Press. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)
More from Dana
Wooty woo! We’re back in Death Valley again! So excited about this fourth book in the series because Papa Bear and I have actually returned to this amazing place. (Our previous return trip was stalled for a while due to the virus that shall not be named!) People have asked me, “Why do you love Death Valley so much?” I can only respond that you just have to go there to understand. Is it the vastness of the place? The enormous topographical variety? Maybe it’s the profound quietness that permeates the national park and environs. Then again, it might be the panorama of nighttime stars. (Death Valley National Park is a certified International Dark Sky Park due to its limited light pollution.) Could it be the tenacity of people who live there and survive the one hundred twenty plus degree temperatures in the summer? And how about those animals? The Death Valley pupfish is a teeny little endangered fish that lives in precisely one spot on the globe (Death Valley) and only two places within that range, Salt Creek and Cottonball Marsh. Imagine that! So why set a six book series in Death Valley? Because there’s no more hostile and incredible place I can think of. I hope you will enjoy taking a fictional trip with me there too. Enjoy the adventure, reader friends!
To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of the first four books in the series-Framed in Death Valley, Missing in the Desert, Death Valley Doublecross and Death Valley Hideout (Paperback for U.S. Only) and a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
With her father in a German POW camp and her home in Ste Mere Eglise, France, under Nazi occupation, Rosalie Barrieau will do anything to keep her younger brother safe. . .even from his desire to join the French resistance. Until she falls into the debt of a German solder—one who delivers a wounded British pilot to her door. Though not sure what to make of her German ally, Rosalie is thrust deep into the heart of the local underground. As tensions build toward the allied invasion of Normandy, she must decide how much she is willing to risk for freedom.
An impossible situation in WWII France. A German soldier helping his French enemies. A young French boy, not quite man, deeply involved in the Resistance. His older, beautiful sister wants nothing but to pacify the Germans,certainly not to engage the enemy. What difference could one person make?
In A Rose for the Resistance, Angela K Couch brings to vivid life the danger and deprivation of occupied France. The hatred each opposing group held for each other, the inability to see the humanity of one for the deeds of the whole group. At one point, Franz tells Rosalie, “But I am not this uniform.” Can Rosalie look past his hair, his complexion, and see his heart? A timely question for our country and times.
I enjoyed seeing how Couch slowly lets the reader see what events and traumas of the past formed Rosalie and Franz into who they are when we meet them. I also appreciated the considerable growth of both characters throughout the book. The suspense is real, and fear seems omnipresent. Franz is afraid, maybe more than others. “I’m not ready to meet God. The truth of it settled, heavy in Franz’s chest. It really wasn’t death he feared. Truthfully, death might even be a release from the misery of this world. But to stand and be judged by God? His hands were too stained for that.”
Someone we never see during the book was my fave character. How could he not be?!! Rosalie keeps having flashbacks to her father’s tender ways and times with her. He taught her in small bits of teachable moments and assured her of his love. A father’s steady love can mirror the Father’s love for His children.
I cannot imagine the bleakness of an occupied land. I could understand why Rosalie felt useless against the evil in her land. Yet, she would learn the truth of these words:
“No one soldier will win this war. But each is needed for victory.”
While the Nazis could take their crops, ration their food, and change the future she had expected, Rosalie discovers a shining light amidst the darkness. “‘Don’t give up hope,’ she whispered. That was the one thing the Nazis could not take from her unless she allowed them.”
Hope spurred on by faith. Why these stories of WWII are so powerful and worth reading!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Magnificent!! Hope Shines in the Darkest Times!
About the Author
To keep from freezing in the great white north, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the 2016 International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and toasty warm) by chasing after four munchkins.
More from Angela
The story of A Rose for the Resistance has been in the making for a while. Rosalie and Franz came to life for me in the first novel I started writing as a teenager… (not even going to mention how long ago that was). Though much of that early work will never see the light of day, I am glad I can finally share them with you.
Every November 11th since I was a child, I would sit with my dad and watch WWII documentaries and movies like A Bridge too Far, or The Longest Day which featured Sainte-Mère-Église during the D-day landings. So many of those stories beg to be remembered and I tried to include as much as I could in this novel, even in passing. Stories such as John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment who dropped into the warzone of Sainte-Mère-Église that night and his chute caught on the spire of the church. He hung limply for hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. John later escaped and rejoined his division. Or, Henry Langrehr who landed five miles from his drop zone, crashing through a greenhouse on the way down. He was unharmed from the fall, but was later wounded and captured. He lived into his nineties to tell the tale.
Many of the events and deeds of The Resistance in the novel are also pulled from history. The French citizen’s willingness to risk their lives to transport weapons and information, and to staunchly resist the brutal German occupation. It is estimated that approximately 90,000 men women – and children – were killed, tortured, or deported by the Germans for their efforts.
Though many of the characters in this story are fictional, there are so many men and women who truly did live through the horrors of the War in Europe, and more importantly risked or sacrificed their all for the freedom and lives of others.
Genre: FICTION / CHRISTIAN / WOMENS FICTION / ROMANCE
Release date: July 8, 2021
♥ Books are the strings that tie hearts together. ♥
With a month to get from Orange County, California to Delaware for his next corporate challenge, Milton Coleridge decides to spend a week at Joshua Tree National Park.
He never expected to find a floundering bookstore in need of his particular business skills. Will his methods of saving companies from bankruptcy or takeover work on such a small scale? And can he convince two people to risk their hearts?
Step into the Spines & Leaves, Tamarisk, California’s oldest (and only ever) bookstore. Come in out of the harsh, desert sun and wind and peruse all the store has to offer. It might just be more than you think.
One man, one store, thousands of books. What’ll it take to keep this bookstore from becoming a book ghost town… and what’ll it take for Milton to tie two heartstrings together?
Spine & Leaves is the introductory novella to the Bookstrings series.
Whew!! Spines and Leaves by Chautona Havig is a not-to-be missed, fun ride involving a barely surviving, desert bookstore. The town of Tamarisk has almost nothing going for it, with several defunct stores and a few residences in the middle of Joshua Tree National Forest. But, wait! There’s a bookstore! Only a reader would understand how strong that pull is to Milton Coleridge as he enters with his parrotlet. We meet Mercedes, the daughter of the owner, who is managing the store until her ill father can get back on his feet. We see Marcus Mendez, a police officer who hides his feelings for Mercedes as he strives to protect his heart. We begin to see the makings of a love triangle between Marcus, Mercedes, and Milton.
Chautona Havig plays this triangle up well. I wanted to choose one man over the other, but couldn’t. Just as I would choose “Team Marcus” or “Team Milton,” the other would pull ahead by some act or word.
If you’ve never read Havig’s work before, this book is a good place to start. Havig brings her signature style with literature allusions, a touch of romance, plenty of snark and wit, faith lessons, and surprising twists that will keep you reading till the last word.
I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own.
“‘Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?’”
“Just reminding myself that God’s goodness doesn’t disappear when things seem like they’re going all wrong.”
Mercedes’ heart sighed. I could have fallen for a guy like that… if stupid Marcus hadn’t been here first. Her head said she could choose to love whoever she wanted. Her heart stuck out its tongue and went, “Ptttthtt.” Heart won. Again.
Book people understand each other. There are special connections between bookworms that might exist between football fans or movie buffs, but I doubt it is the same.”
Magnificent!! Book Lover’s Paradise- both the Story and the Store!!
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forwardseries, 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
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the Bookstrings series is a process rather than an idea. Each time I saw an indie bookstore close, each time I went in one with no one else in there for the hour or two I browsed, and each time I heard book lovers lament the lack of a store in their town… Yeah. Those experiences slowly grew into a wish—one where I knew how to rescue those stores from extinction. So maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it felt.
Somewhere in the midst of all that, Milton appeared—a business genius who, along with his faithful parrotlet, Atticus (not Finch), travels the country saving corporations from takeover or bankruptcy.
Milton went through several iterations. Older, balding, mustache, and always wearing a golfer’s cap. Then I had him as a young hipster dude who got sick of the rat race on Wall Street and took off on his own, using what he’d learned. That just felt too cliché.
Instead, I have a forty-ish guy who wears chinos and oxford shirts with topsiders, shorter than most men, and with a nonchalant air about him. And charm. The quiet guy with serious business skills just oozes quiet charm.
After deciding on Milton, I had to choose where to put the stores. I’ve been watching out for towns for years—using trips different places as research times. Would I create places that felt like real towns or use actual small towns? Though drawn to real towns, I had an idea for where to end the series, and, doing that meant a fictional town. Would it be weird to have four or five books set in small towns across America followed by a final fictional one?
The solution came to me as I learned that the Mosaic authors were doing a summer collection in 2021. If I started with a novella and ended the series with both in a fictional town, at least that fictional bit wouldn’t be out of the blue!
So, the Bookstrings series has two novellas and five full-length novels. (I couldn’t resist a Christmas “noella” in the charming town of Noel, Missouri—the “Christmas City.”) We’ll be off to other small towns around the country—one in Red Wing, Minnesota, another in Berne, Indiana, and one somewhere between Kingsport, Tennessee and Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. If I can find a place in New England, that’d be great, too. Or maybe down in Mississippi… I’d love to visit my sister down there.
The Bookstrings series books all have one very important thing in common (aside from Milton and Atticus, of course). They all illustrate that books truly are the strings that tie hearts together.
Helena MT, 1892-95 ~Can you leave your past behind? Flower of the Rockies, the 4th book in the Queen of the Rockies series set in picturesque Helena MT at the end of the Gilded Age. No one knows the real Emmalee Warren, or the sacrifices she’s made for love. An infamous soiled dove of no consequence turned miner’s widow. Men are coming out of the woodwork to stake their claim on her and the mine she inherited. They wanted her body before. Now they want her money, and they’ll do anything to take it. But love and acceptance seem out of the question for Emmalee.
Society wants nothing to do with her regardless of her changed ways. Who can she turn to when her inheritance and chance at a future is at risk? Will she be forced back into the brothel to survive? Hiring a lawyer, Richard Lewis, to save her from financial ruin might let her start over somewhere else — if he can save a little of her finances from her husband’s partner. She’ll go anyplace else where no one knows Miss Ellie’s name. Anywhere to leave the scorn behind. Becoming an unknown is the only way to freedom…or is it? Can she leave her past and build a new future?
Angela Breidenbach comes back strong with another tale of Montana, in the infancy of its statehood (1894). This engaging novel follows the soiled dove Emmalee Warren, who is struggling to overcome her past. Given an unexpected chance to escape that past, she discovers many of the towns people are all too happy to remember her for who she was, not who she is. Fortunately, a few people truly live out God’s unconditional love to her. “They do know what we been. But who we are is not what we done…”
Richard Lewis is the new lawyer Emmalee hires to help her stop her late husband’s conniving, cheating partner. I love the way that Lewis sees Emmalee as valuable and worth his help. “If God thinks enough to count your individual tears and record them in his book, then he finds you invaluable, Emmalee…” Lewis doesn’t minimize the opposition Emmalee faces, but he is willing to pave the way for her. “The best way through a wall is to walk through a door. I would like to be that doorway for you.”
We also get to see friends from earlier books. It is thrilling to see them with their new families, rising to new challenges.
I was glad to see a certain unkind character. Not because I liked her, but because real life is like that. Given a large group of people, it seems there has to be one that doesn’t even attempt to live up to what they profess. Who will win over the public sentiment?
Concluding with “Conversation starter ideas for book clubs” (a great title and some thought provoking questions that tie in with the book), Breidenbach includes more tourist ideas as well.
I received a copy of the book from the author via Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Someday happens because you plan for it.”
“True religion wasn’t running from the past. True religion is letting God use her broken past to help someone else.”
About the Author
Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, media personality, conference speaker, bestselling author of eighteen books, and screenwriter. Angela lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angela can also. Catch her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach!
More from Angela
Flower of the Rockies is one of my favorite stories. I didn’t realize when I started writing about the Montana state flower that I’d be digging into a deeper part of myself. A part I didn’t want to remember.
Stumbling on the women’s club that worked so hard to create symbolism for the state of Montana sparked a story idea. Then that idea needed a character help me tell the story. Then she told me she didn’t know how to read. Okay, I can run with that… But I’m a really good reader. So how do I connect to this widow who needs to learn to read to stop her husband’s partner from cooking her books and stealing everything she has left?
It hit me. She and I had a lot in common. As a kid, I was awkward. I didn’t connect well because I couldn’t read people. Ironically, I read books to learn about people. But it took getting out and being with people to begin really connecting and communicating.
Emmalee doesn’t want to be around people because she’s been rejected for her past and ridiculed publicly. Who wants to be friends with a soiled dove? But, she’s lonely. I suddenly connected on an even deeper level with her. I understood her need for love and acceptance. Her desire to become someone respectable.
On a bigger scale, that’s what the women of Montana were trying to prove, too. That their state fit in with the other states, had something special, something symbolic that showed she was accepted and respected. She had a flag, a state flower, and people who mattered.
Come join me in the Flower of the Rockies. I think you’ll like Emmalee and her journey toward acceptance. There are a lot of layers to the story’s symbolism. I wrote it and have been amazed at how God keeps revealing those layers to me in one short book. Let me know what is revealed to you.
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.
Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.
“Sometimes God uses broken things to save us … Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.”
Broken… that is what so many characters are, in Janyre Tromp’s debut novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. WWII is over, but as the surviving men return home, many face the kind of difficulties that own Sam Mattas and his family.
Wives and other family not going to war attempt to keep the family homestead going, waiting their men’s return. When Sam Mattas reappears, his wife and family are left to wonder how to navigate the much less-than-ideal situation God allows. Is God still to be trusted? Does God have a plan for this mess?
This psychological thriller is immersed in the Southern mountain culture, with the heart of truth only revealed after much emotional upheaval (including on the reader’s part!) First person narrative, alternating between Sam and Annie, made me want to choose sides, then switch repeatedly until my head was spinning. Characters are so multi-faceted and fluid that I found myself identifying with even some of the “villains.” I must admit this novel reminded me of some great classics- not easy to enter into for awhile, but once I did, I felt like I had discovered a treasure by the end!
My favorite character is Dovie May. Elderly, life has not been kind to her, yet she remains full of faith, optimism, and encouragement for others to keep pressing forward. Wisdom is certainly on her tongue.
I received a copy of this book from the I Read with Audra Tour via NetGalley. No positive review is required, and all opinions are my own.
So many, but I will give my fave:
“We think everything eventually goes back to what we want it be. That everything’ll be happy and familiar, the good winning. We never want to travel beyond the point where everybody’s happy. But life’s everything after, and the question is, what are you going to do with the truth life drops in your lap?”
Magnificent!! Fabulous Psychological Thriller of WWII Era
About the Author
Janyre Tromp is a historical novelist whose loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.
She’s also a book editor, published children’s book author, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her family, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. And if you ever meet in person, you pronounce that first name Jan-ear.
In Shadows in the Mind’s Eye (Kregel Publications),debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense as she takes readers back in time to 1940s Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.
When Sam claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
Q: The back of the book describes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye as, “A deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense.” In your own words, introduce us to your debut novel.
Charlotte Anne Mattas wants to go back to the way things were before her husband, Sam, left their farm for the war in the Pacific. Sam used to be her protector, but when he arrives home in Spring of 1946, his battle fatigue has everyone questioning his sanity and her safety… especially after he nearly kills his brother, then claims to see men on the mountain where no else has seen them. Are there really dangerous men on the mountain or is his twisted mind conjuring things that aren’t there?
In the tradition of Hitchcock with a hint of psychological thriller, In the Mind’s Eye explores the illness we now call PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and persistent love in a world determined to destroy it.
Q: Sam and Charlotte Anne both expected life to go back to normal when he returned from the war, but that doesn’t exactly happen. How was life post-war different from what they expected? How does each of them respond to those differences?
This story actually began while talking to my grandparents over a glass of lemonade. My U.S. History professor had given us an assignment to talk to family about the Depression and/or World War II. Until that point, I’d had no real concept of what the war was like, either for the soldiers or their families back home. I guess I’d thought that the greatest generation slid back into life and easily became the loving people I knew my grandparents were in their 70s. When I discovered that wasn’t the case, I wondered how they had survived the fear and drastic changes.
Like my grandfather, Sam glorified the home front, anticipating a glorious homecoming, delicious food, a soft bed, and an easier life.Charlotte Anne expected Sam to quickly become part of the teamagain as they worked their peach orchard. Instead, Sam has nightmares and reacts to food he used to love (I even gave Sam a reaction to orange marmalade just like my grandfather). Sam tends to jump to conclusions because he doesn’t understand the context, struggles with the physicality of farm work, and is overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done since Charlotte Anne wasn’t able to do a lot of the upkeep.
At first, neither Sam nor Annie knows quite what to do with one another, but they’re determined to understand each other.Eventually they each open up to Sam’s mom, Dovie May, and she becomes a healing balm for each of them. If I had to give Dovie a theme, it would be: “You’d think holding joy right up against sadness would shatter a body. But it don’t. Joy, it sneaks in all around, sticks everything together, and finds a way to make you whole. See, light sneaks through the broken places.”
Q: In our current day, we are very aware of what PTSD is, and that it is very prevalent among men and women who have been in the military and seen war. What was known about PTSD back in the 1940s after World War II?
Although the general population didn’t shame WWII soldiers with PTSD symptoms as much as they did their WWI counterparts, WWII era doctors knew little about how to treat trauma of any kind. Battle fatigue, as it was known then, was treated with electroshock therapy (something that was terrifying and had limited success), and many of the men who suffered from it were often divorced, angry, confused, and quietly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t want to leave Sam and Annie here, so I dug for treatment options and talked with a few modern therapists.
In my research, those who fared best were often those who lived a little off the grid, in places where they could be physically active, with people who loved them and gave them the space to remove themselves when necessary. Sam also stumbles on a bit of a modern treatment technique by accident. Most folks have heardthat going for a walk can help with mental stability. What isn’t as familiar is that the rhythm of walking combined with talking can actually replicate bits and pieces of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy which is one of the most successful battlefield PTSD treatments.
Q: What are some struggles Sam deals with upon returning home to Hot Springs? Is he able to hide what is going on from those closest to him or does it become apparent to everyone around him?
Sam’s reactions to “normal” stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control. He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger.
As the story progresses and circumstances continue to slide sideways, Sam faces his own mental instability. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it.
Q: Sam claims to see and hear things going on around him that no one else does. How does Annie deal with what’s going on with her husband?
At first Annie is supportive of her husband and backs him up. She lists all the reasons she believes him: He’s a man she has always trusted. He’s amazing with his daughter. He’s gentle and kind and strong. Unfortunately, circumstances continue to prove that Sam is unstable, and she’s forced to question his sanity. She is rightfully terrified and confused.
To deal with her husband’s instability, she leans on her family—Sam’s mom and brother. They give Annie perspective and help with both the emotional and physical toll of working through unexpected circumstances. One of the things I’m most proud of in Annie is that she doesn’t allow Sam to abuse her even by accident. She holds the line and doesn’t budge from that. It’s something I hope all people do for themselves. That said, Sam is horrified by the fact that he hurt Annie in his sleep and refuses to put her in any further danger. But he also doesn’t give up.
Q: Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an unusual setting for a book. How did you choose the location and how does it play into the story?
Even though the book idea started with wondering how my grandparents’ marriage survived the pressure of war, the book isn’t biographical. So, I needed a setting other than my grandparents’ hometown. For the characters that I was building, I needed a small town. When one of my good friends told me she had an entire book of stories from her family in Arkansas, I jumped at the chance to read first-hand history. Amongst the Hughes family stories, I acquired the basis for Dovie May and Hot Springs, Arkansas—home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country.
Well, I don’t have to tell you that mobsters and illegal activity are an excellent backdrop for a story with a bit of suspense. The book The Bookmaker’s Daughter by Shirley Abbott confirmed that Hot Springs mobsters operated with full permission of the authorities. In Shirley’s stories, I also discovered the foundation for Charlotte Anne’s father. All of which gave me a location and a cast of characters that could stoke Sam’s fears and make everyone (including the reader) wonder whether or not he was crazy.
Q: What kind of research did you do on the effects of war during that time period? What sparked the inspiration for that part of the story?
As I mentioned, the initial interest came from my grandparents and their stories. But PTSD is also something I’ve struggled with for years. I had some childhood trauma that I worked through back in college. I started writing this book using the nightmares and struggles I had as a kid. Then my daughter became very, very illwhich sparked a new trauma all its own.
That said, battlefield PTSD has different components than the trauma I suffered. To research that, I had several long conversations with a friend who treats battlefield PTSD. She’s the one who reminded me that EMDR is, in essence, any activity thatuses bilateral stimulation to trigger both sides of the brain—thus the positive effects of walking and wide-open spaces. I also read Soldiers from the War Returning by Thomas Childers to get an idea of the authentic story of the men returning from war; The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. for how PTSD affects the brain and body; and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr, PhD, ABPP to understand the battlefield specific emotional wounds, and how that affects a warrior’s family.
Q: An author often writes part of herself into the story, or at least something she knows about. How have you been affected by PTSD?
There have been long stretches of my life where I was all too familiar with debilitating fear. I still have occasional flashes from my childhood, the rush of adrenaline causing my pulse to pound and hands to shake. I was terrified to have kids, to be the one responsible for their physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. The last thing I wanted was for them to have the same problems I had. But, as Dovie May says, “The best place for miracles is where we don’t fully believe, where our believing has run out.” My husband, Chris, and his family, as well as my good friend, Sarah De Mey,and my mom (who worked hard to get help), have been amazing role models for me as I navigate what it looks like to raise emotionally healthy kids.
All that peace came crashing down when my daughter became ill. She was hospitalized seven times over a few months’ time and the doctors had no idea what caused her illness. After months of visiting doctors to find out why my thirteen-year-old daughter was experiencing increasing abdominal pain, she collapsed at school. What followed was a living nightmare. Doctors found her abdominal cavity full of a fungal infection that quickly went septic. That was the first time we almost lost her. Months later, she’d lost more than forty pounds, and both she and I were wracked with nightmares, an inability to drive anywhere near the hospital, or be in a room with needles. To this day, I can’t smell rubbing alcohol without my body responding with panic.
On paper she should not have survived, and I can’t describe the immense fear that comes from the Pediatric ICU or a parade of doctors. My girl is doing great now, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I didn’t finish the book, and hadn’t found the path to hope until after my daughter had walked out of the hospital for the last time.
I’m enormously grateful for EMDR, my therapist, and the grace of God that much of my fear is gone.
Q: The novel includes a good deal of discussion about the nature of evil and the character of God. The characters acknowledge that God doesn’t stop bad things from happening. How do they reconcile the hurt and pain in their lives with their concept of a loving God?
The problem of pain is one that even the best and brightest theologians and thinkers don’t have a perfect answer for. There are pat answers—God uses hard things to make us better or God walks with us through our pain. But when I was in the hospital, totally overwhelmed and crying in the bathroom so my daughter wouldn’t hear me, the easy answers didn’t help. And so I (and my characters) often sit with C. S. Lewis saying, “I never knew grief felt so much like fear.” Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope, and that the Sam she marriedis lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it.
And so what do we do?
In the story, Sam says, “If you pop in the middle of the story, you might just mistake the hero for a failure or worse, a monster. But it’s the scrabbling out of trouble and finding the truth deep inside him that transforms that character into a hero of light and goodness.” In essence, “Remember that it ain’t over until it’s over.” I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work.
Annie and Sam find their way to gratitude—for simple joys of a birthday Karo nut pie, collard greens, the sunrise, and mostly the people in their lives. Their determination to be the good in each other’s lives is what slowly, over time, turns their attention away from the shadows and back on the life they have. As Dovie May says, “Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.” It isn’t immediate. And it isn’t easy. But the sunrise always follows the dark night.
Q: How does the imagery of light and darkness, especially in a spiritual sense, weave throughout the story?
Early in the story, Annie says, “A body can hide where the light was closed out, but the devils can hide there just as easy.” The temptation for both Annie and Sam (and all of us, really) is to either give up (wallow in the darkness) or to run away from it (which only keeps us in the darkness longer). While wallowing or running seem like easier choices, they’re also dangerous and far more painful in the long run. Both Sam and Annie try to fight the darkness alone, each not quite trusting anyone else.
Throughout the book, they both learn that the dark places are really where strength starts. Since Sam and Annie are farmers, they come to think of it in terms of seeds. “There ain’t no growth without darkness. You know that better’n most. If you throw a seed atop the soil, it’ll get snatched away by the wind or the birds. You gottabury it in the good, rich soil, and then it’s gotta split open afore it can grow. . .. We were all made to grow and stretch into the sunlight.”
Q: You’ve been on the publisher’s side of things for many years, both in marketing and as an editor working with authors. Have you always wanted to write as well? Has anything surprised you being on the author side?
I didn’t start writing or really even think about being a writer until a few years into my career as the marketing manager for a publisher. I actually started college as a chemistry major and ended up as an English major by default. There’s a whole story in hereabout me being a sassy know-it-all seventeen-year-old punk, and my mom being right. But suffice it to say, the major change was me heeding my mom’s advice to do what I loved (reading).
Anyway, I was freelancing for our editorial department, and our managing editor asked me if I would consider writing a book. It sounded interesting. I wrote a short novel for the middle schoolers I mentored at my church, then I did a few picture books for my daughter, and then I took a long break to raise my kids. When I found time to write a book again, it was so life-giving, I don’t even have words to describe it. I was hooked.
But let me tell you that being an author has changed drastically in the last decade. There’s a much heavier load to lift for authors now—both in terms of tracking story trends and marketing. But it’s also easier than ever to be in contact with readers. I absolutely adore the opportunity to chat with folks about their lives on Facebook, see their pictures on Instagram, and just talk books with the world. It’s crazy to me that I can chat with friends in California and Australia and South Africa and Brazil just by typing (or speaking) into a little box on a screen. I will forever love technology for that.
The writing community also took me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a varied group as welcoming and helpful as this group. They’ve been a tremendous support as I’ve worked through edits and marketing and all the highs and lows that come with publishing. There’s so much love and joy there. Julie Cantrell, Rachel McDaniel, Janine Rosche, Susie Finkbeiner, J’nellCiesielski, and so many more have been absolutely amazing.
This epic journey is her best chance to find the family she and her daughter long for.
Watkuese is desperate to return across the Rocky Mountains before winter sets in. Time is running out for her to get her adopted daughter back to the familiar surroundings of the Shoshone village before the grief of her parents’ death causes irreparable damage.
Hugh Charpentier has spent his life watching over his siblings, which meant also ensuring his brother’s widow and babe are settled well into their new life. Now he’s asked to help shepherd a woman and child he barely knows across the mountains. As hard as it is to keep up with a six-year-old in the treacherous Rockies, it’s not nearly as dangerous as risking his heart to a woman and child who may not ever be his.
From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.
Ack!! Misty Beller is another author whose books I am starting to really anticipate! I was not overly impressed by the first book I read, but now, I am hopelessly a fan. Peace in the Mountain Haven is on my favorites list. Beller’s beautiful mountain settings, multi-cultural characters, and ability to recount a compelling story of both faith and love have me hooked.
In 1831, the future Idaho Territory area is home to Watkuese, a single Native American, who is raising her deceased friend’s six-year-old daughter, Pop-pank. Searching for inner peace for herself and her sullen, grieving charge, Watkuese decides to return to Pop-pank’s tribal home. Hugh Charpentier and his brother, Louis, are assigned to accompany the two back to the village.
Watkuese is a strong, independent woman who wants to make her own way and rely on no one. She is not close to the family she has, but considers Pop-pank “the daughter of her heart” and will give her life to protect the stand-offish young one.
Hugh Charpentier is a white trapper who is hardened to relationships with others because of his past. “The more you kept your distance from others, the easier it was to part ways.” He is very aloof, but he still takes great care of Wautkuese and Pop-pank. With enough nurturing, will a tender, dedicated heart emerge?
I loved Louis. He is such a happy soul, yet it is not because his life is easy. He chooses to look for ways to engage others and make them feel comfortable. He can see past walls built up to protect a heart, and isn’t afraid to meddle to encourage better thinking.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought a copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Firewood he knew far better than people.
She’d already promised herself she would give her life to protect Pop-pank. Should she give her freedom as well?
If only he could be the man Louis thought he was.
Magnificent!! A Beautiful Frontier Fave!!
About the Author
Misty M. Belleris a USA Todaybestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.
Raised on a farm and surrounded by family, Misty developed her love for horses, history, and adventure. These days, her husband and children provide fresh adventure every day, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
Misty’s passion is to create inspiring Christian fiction infused with the grandeur of the mountains, writing historical romance that displays God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
Sharing her stories with readers is a dream come true for Misty. She writes from her country home in South Carolina and escapes to the mountains any chance she gets.
More from Misty
What do you love most about this genre?
I tend to be a bit of a sentimentalist, so Historical Romance is perfect for me! My favorite period is between 1800 – 1880, when the west was still an extreme frontier. I love the simpler life, where there’s no rat race. Just hard work, plenty of alone time (can you tell I’m an introvert?), and a strong family unit.
Are readers always promised a “happily ever after” in your novels? Why or why not?
Absolutely! I read as an escape, so that happily ever after is important to me. I know my characters will face challenges after the story ends, but I want to finish the book knowing they’ve grown through the story and will be able to meet future struggles with God’s strength and the support of each other—as well as family and friends!
How can readers connect with you?
I love to connect with readers! One of my favorite ways is through my newsletter, and readers can get a free copy of my book, A Pony Express Romance, when they sign up for the newsletter. Here’s the link for that: https://mistymbeller.com/freebook
Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive.
Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship.
Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds.
Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm.
He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate?
“I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,”- Alice in Alice in Wonderland
Wow, was I in awe of Tabitha Bouldin’s steampunk retelling of Alice in Wonderland by the time I finished! I started the novel with trepidation. I didn’t remember the original making a lot of sense, and I wondered what I was in for with Bouldin’s Madness in Wonderland. Madness is a gem!!
Why do I love this book? For the first time in my life, the pieces of Alice in Wonderland fit together like a puzzle. Bouldin clearly delineates narrator/subject by rotating chapters. Alpha, Alice, and Hatter are all featured. Bouldin allows characters to retain much of the personality that Carroll gave them, but adds depth and emotion to each. It was easy to follow the great action, which is plentiful and compelling. Apropos quotes from the original Alice in Wonderland are worked in so beautifully to the new story. There are a few nods to Star Wars, the sci-fi scenery is easy to imagine, and faith plays a major, natural role. God is referred to as the Master. Each character must decide what he will do once confronted with knowledge of the Master.
Themes include the existence of a Master who created their world and loves individuals. Judgment, hope, and forgiveness follow close behind.
Those who love the original Alice in Wonderland, fairytale retellings, sci-fi, or Kara Swanson’s author voice will love this novel. I am excited that it is the first in its series!
I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Family means different things to different people.
“Everyone needs a name. Names have power. They tell us who we are, where we’ve come from. -Alice
“If the Maker can forgive one like me, He can forgive anyone.” -Cook
“Soldiers don’t have the lux’ry of a clean soul. Took a long time for me to accept my past and let Someone help with the pain.”Cook (Chess)
“You believe you don’t deserve forgiveness, so you condemn others to the same fate.”
Magnificent!! Reminds me of Kara Swanson’s Dust and Shadow!!
About the Author
Tabitha Bouldin has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has been writing since 2015. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, you’ll find her curled up with a book. Tabitha’s genre of choice is Contemporary Christian Romance which she describes as: Adventure with heart.