In book 3 of the Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas, a member of the church choir dies during rehearsal, and the apparent murder weapon—a blowgun—implicates the man Frankie loves. She’s shocked to discover Quint was a champion at the sport before he accepted the senior pastor role at the church. And he’s refusing to talk about his fate.
Her investigation reveals that Quint isn’t the only person with the skill to hit a woman’s carotid artery while she’s singing a high note, and Frankie is convinced someone is framing Quint. The closer she gets to proving it, the more she faces a stalker’s deadly wrath.
Can Frankie save herself and the man she loves from becoming the next victims?
“Stay away from my family. We’ve been through enough because of your pastor boyfriend.” Frankie Shep is being terrorized and threatened on many fronts as she frantically tries to prove her pastor-fiancé Quint not guilty of murder. While this is the third novella in the Frankie Shep series, there is enough backstory to understand how many terrible events have happened to Frankie or her loved ones. Author Karen Randau skillfully inserts pieces of Frankie’s past to ratchet up the suspense and horror of her present. I did ultimately guess who the real murderer would be, but still found the fleshing out of the action to be enjoyable. I wanted to see more of Mrs. Williams, because she seemed like a very interesting, rather enigmatic character. I loved the sister relationship between Frankie and Isabella and Cole. After reading Choir Loft Murder, # 3 Frankie Shep Novella by Karen Randau, I wanted to know more about Frankie’s background. I believe it’s the sign of a good author when you don’t need the prequels but you want them anyway. Set against a ranch backdrop with horses, pet cows, and terrific dogs, animal lovers will take note.
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, voluntarily submitted.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
About the Author
Karen Randau authors fast-paced mystery, thriller, and suspense books, including the Frankie Shep Suspense Novella series, Rim Country Mysteries, and Deadly Reception (a stand-alone novella as one of seven of the Tawnee Mountain Mysteries box set written by best-selling and award-winning authors). Her Rim Country Mystery novel, Deadly Payload, was a finalist in the Book Excellent Awards and the Beverly Hills Book Awards. She’s a lifelong writer, both for fun and as a professional in marketing communications. She holds a degree in journalism/public relations. A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen lives with her husband in Arizona.
More from Karen
Since Choir Loft Murder is the third book in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas series, I wanted to show how Frankie has grown through the series—from broken woman who is angry at God for allowing the deaths of family into a strong and happy woman who relies on God to help her through an unusually tough life.
She has shown her grit in all three novels in the series, and this one shows how she has grown through the adversity life has thrown at her.
In writing Choir Loft Murder, I wanted to show that ordinary people usually are stronger and more resilient than they know.
Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
Pepper Basham is a relatively new author for me, but she is quickly becoming a fave. The locale of her books I’ve read so far, the Blue Ridge Mountains, seems to be a beckoning finger to many a reader. And the Biltmore Estate of Asheville, North Carolina? A magnificent structure at any time, but especially while the Vanderbilts still resided there in 1915. Plus, a look at it today, in addition to a quaint village in England, and how can any self-respecting history buff not be in total love? Great scenic descriptions of topography, the beauty of architecture, and the wonderful unveiling of unforgettable, relatable personalities make this novel a must-buy. What avid reader wouldn’t fall in love with sweet, nurturing Sadie, who sees books as “portable adventures”? And it is impossible not to fall in love with either Oliver or Max. They are so incredible in their tenderness and care. Mystery, forbidden romance, split-time presentation, and the true “hope between the pages” are presented for those who are eager to mine the book’s deepest meanings. I felt the need to rise and applaud Basham at the end of the novel. So well-crafted and executed.
“How many of these women had felt unseen, discarded?’…
“I have redeemed you…I have called you by name. You are Mine.”…
Sadie still knew she was loved–knew who and whose she was. And that made all the difference in how she lived…”
I am claiming this wonderful TRUTH for someone very close to me. THIS. THIS is what Christian fiction is all about, in my book. Finding HOPE BETWEEN THE PAGES. Thank you, Pepper! Hugs from me to you!!
I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. All opinions are my own and are voluntarily submitted.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
More from Pepper
Books are a uniquely portable magic – Stephen King
Appalachia is known for having a high illiteracy rate. A place of beautiful scenery and rugged landscapes, the people of the mountains developed stories through oral storytelling much more than “book learning”. As a young girl growing up in this world, I loved hearing my granny share tales from up to five generations ago, filling in the narrative gaps between a birth date and a death date on a tombstone – giving flesh and breath to the stone-etched names.
It’s no surprise then, with a heart cultivated from rich oral stories, I fell in love with reading. Books became that “portable magic” that took me places my little Appalachian community couldn’t provide. I fell in love with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. Wept through the end of Bridge to Terabithia and Old Yeller. Traveled to the plains with Sarah Plain and Tall and fell in love with horses with The Black Stallion. But when I was in seventh grade, I read my very first “British” novel, The Secret Garden. In that one introduction, my world expanded into mysterious English manor houses and British classics. Before long, I’d consumed Jane Eyre, Austen’s classics, some Dickens, Dracula, Frankenstein…and the list goes on! And then…I found Tolkien and Lewis – and the ‘real’ world swelled into OTHER worlds.
I’m grateful for true stories of book-loving pioneers traveling into the world of Appalachia to provide books and literacy training to “my people”, because I know some of those books made their way to my tiny elementary school library…and not only brought me the chance to discover stories, but to write them too!
Isn’t it amazing how books can do that?
In Hope Between the Pages, I wanted to bring the same awe and discovery I felt as a child (and continue to feel as an adult reader) to the story of two people whose words had seemed small. Stories stretched their worlds, but the stories also gave them wonderful imaginations and positive perspectives. It’s still amazing to me that ink-and-paper words can make such a lasting impact on hearts and minds. They can lead us to dream, teach us new things, encourage our hearts, help us to think outside the box, swell our imaginations, broaden our horizons, and encourage our hope.
Books are not a replacement for real adventures and relationships, but they certainly provide a beautiful “door” into other lives and worlds that we may never have a chance to experience in real life. Sadie, my historical heroine, and Clara, my contemporary heroine, both have kept close to home but traveled greatly through books…and BOTH are given the opportunity to reach beyond the bindings to discover real-life adventures. I’d like to think that their love for stories helped them have the courage to step away from the page and into their own tales even more prepared than they would have been without stories.
What are some of your favorite books you read as a child? Did any of them influence you to become a more avid reader?
When Levi Corbin returns to Granton, Tennessee after the death of his beloved grandmother, it sets off a chain of events he’d rather have avoided. Claiming his inheritance should have been a piece of cake, but a cousin appears, threatening to steal it all.
Even worse (and better, too), he’s falling for the girl he just met and now must team up with her to try to stop his cousin. Their quest for his inheritance uncovers secrets frozen in time—and one might just be the answer to save his grandmother’s home.
Things go from worse to completely out of hand when a freak fire threatens it all. Add to that a nosy old woman and a battered runaway, and Levi can’t help but wonder what is going on!
As circumstances rekindle his faith and new love spurs him onward, Levi races against time and odds to save Grandma’s house from certain destruction, but the result might just mean saving himself as well.
I had never read anything by Rebecca Hemlock before, but I had barely started Secret of the 14th Room when I knew I’d discovered a treasure. From the first scene of Dorothy Corbin’s death to the epilogue, I was glued to the page, not willing to miss a single word. Why you ask? For starters, Hemlock has penned a cozy that takes place in small-town Tennessee, rife with a history dating to the Civil War. The author depicts the town so well I felt like I was the one walking the streets. For genealogy buffs, there are many ancestry references. For those who understand the value of family, the wonderful relationships between Levi Corbin and his grandmother are highlighted, as well as Abigail’s close relationship with her parents. For lovers of old houses and architecture? You’ll love this old town. Nefarious evildoers? Check. Faith? Smoothly integrated into the story. Action and twists abound. The best part is, there is a sequel coming! I. Can’t. Wait!
I received a copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which are solely my own.
Magnificent!! I absolutely adored this one!!
Rating: 5 out of 5.
About the Author
Rebecca lives in Eastern Kentucky with her husband and children. She absolutely loves mysteries. Rebecca has been writing stories for many years and enjoys reading, painting and spending time with her family. Her favorite times to write are early in the morning when the sun is coming up and at sunset. She has worked as a freelance journalist for 4 years and is a member of Sisters in Crime and American Christian Fiction Writers. Rebecca has earned a degree in English and an Appalachian Studies certificate in Creative Writing.
More from Rebecca
Looking for new ideas is my favorite part of writing because it comes with talking to interesting people and exploring antique shops all over the country.
This book not only captures my love for American history and riveting romantic suspense, but it also captures how old wounds of the heart can be healed.
Levi Corbin in The Secret of the 14th Room learns this the hard way after carrying his broken heart for most of his adult life. He has to discover the real meaning of family and family pride. Levi must face the past so that he can move on to a brighter future.
Granton, Tennessee, is a town I hope you fall in love with, just as I did when I created it. There are so many delightful characters, some with a dark secret or two. This story has been brewing for a while, and I am glad that I finally have the opportunity to share it with you.
A broken engagement drives Susanna Kelly back to her hometown of Sweetheart, Texas and the arms of its quirky, lovable citizens. But her peaceful return to her roots is shattered when heart-shaped notes with sinister messages start appearing. The support of Daniel Sheppard, Asian American bestselling author and her childhood friend, gives her a much needed ally amidst the turmoil. He offers to play the role of her boyfriend to discourage the stalker, but Susanna resists. Pretending to be a couple? And with Daniel of all people? Who would buy it?
The note writer’s mind games force her to reconsider. Susanna accepts Daniel’s crazy plan, but her heart acts up whenever she’s near her decoy valentine. Comfortable, uncomplicated Daniel has turned into a full-grown man who makes her senses spin. As she tries to sort out her feelings, the make-believe romance has the opposite effect intended. Harmless notes turn into life-threatening accidents, and Daniel and Susanna must find out who’s behind the chaos before they can decide if their temporary relationship is a heaven-sent gift meant to last forever.
Susannah Kelly is having a bad day. Or a bad three weeks, at least. Plus an unwanted suitor who can’t take a hint. How should she protect herself from the all-too familiar paper heart notes sent by a stalker, plus the wannabe boyfriend? Daniel Sheppard, Susannah’s best friend who has become a best-selling author in his three years away from Sweetheart, Texas, thinks he has the solution. Just be his valentine.
“It will never work,” she said. “No one will believe it. They’ll know we’re faking.” “We’re not faking.” Daniel met her on the porch, stuck his hands in his jacket pockets, and leaned against the railing. “You didn’t want to lie. Remember? We’re an honest-to-goodness couple.”
Author Shannon Kent sets Decoy Valentine in a small Texas town, preparing for their annual Candy Hearts Festival. The trope of (best) friends to couple is combined with a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and humor. The little town seems chock-full of quirky characters that by turns are very fun to know or very irritating. I would enjoy seeing more of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, including Lannette and Elise. While this was not a chiller, there were certainly some scary vibes going on, and Kent does a great job portraying realistic, flawed, lovable and unlovable characters. Now that Daniel and Susannah have their act together, I hope we see another lovelorn couple from this town.
The Bible says I have to forgive you, but I don’t have to hug you.
Daniel was determined to go through with this crazy charade. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed under her breath. “Please, God. Don’t strike us both with lightning.”
She was so tired of being the strong one. Why couldn’t someone else save the day for a change?
I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. I was under no obligation to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
About the Author
When Shannon Kent earned an M.A. in Journalism, she never imagined her first published work of fiction would be inspired by TV shows from a faraway land. She loves the wacky, romantic world of Korean dramas and likes to share her opinions with fellow fans under the pen name Dramarookie at the Dramas with a Side of Kimchi blog.
There’s Often a Fine Line Between a Criminal and a Saint
Constable Jackson Forge intends to make the world safer, or at least the streets of Victorian London. But that’s Kit Turner’s domain, a swindler who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning the rich to give to the poor. When a local cab driver goes missing, Jackson is tasked with finding the man, and the only way to do that is by enlisting Kit’s help. If Jackson doesn’t find the cabby, he’ll be fired. If Kit doesn’t help Jackson, he’ll arrest her for thievery. Yet neither of them realize those are the least of their problems.
Love historicals of the Victorian era? Love a Christian message seamlessly woven into the narrative? Michelle Griep has such a “silver pen” (compare to a “silver tongue” that our heroine Kit Turner has), that I could easily follow her into the underbelly of London. Not many authors could describe the shenanigans of Constable Jackson Forge and his enemy-turned-conspirator Kit the way Griep does. Griep tucks historical fact, English geography, and mystery, romance, and suspense into one mesmerizing, achingly beautiful story. The Thief of Blackfriars Lane grips you and refuses to be expunged from your mind much like the horrible smells of the sewer refuse to leave our unlikely hero’s clothes. For those who love surprises, there are plenty of twists and turns. There are also some very thought-provoking questions raised. Why does God allow failure and tragedy, instead of rescuing us from them? Kit doesn’t understand, and Jack helps console her:
“Yet it is often in tragedy where we find our life’s purpose, and that purpose is to love God and man.”
Are right and wrong clear-cut and absolute? Jack thinks they are. Can Kit teach him to think differently?
“…most of life dwells in the murky grey between right and wrong. Misfortunes will come and go, but through it all, our main duty is to keep loving God and keep loving man.”
Can you judge a book by its cover? If we’re referring to people, Griep proves that to judge based on the apparent cover is faulty at best, dangerous at worst. If we are referring to a book, I judge any of Michelle Griep’s books by one criterion: if her name is on it, it bears the mark of excellence. You would do well to buy it. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and publisher. I also bought a copy, because a Griep is too good not to share. I am voluntarily leaving my opinions, which are solely my own.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
(I have yet to find anything by Michelle Griep that I haven’t loved!)
About the Author
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
What was supposed to be a romantic picnic at “their spot” turns criminal when Katrina and Todd stumble—almost literally—over a body.
What’s the college chef doing under a bush up in the mountains? Other than being dead, that is.
Who killed him? Why?
All clues point to people who Katrina is certain didn’t do it. Especially the one who ends up dead himself.
Thanks to a slow-burning romantic relationship that can’t seem to get past chapter one, and a determination to save her friend from false arrest, Katrina joins Todd again as they riddle out bizarre clues, weed through unlikely suspects, and learn to communicate on a more personal level.
What do you get when you combine literary humor, sweet romance, and a practical helping of faith? A cozy mystery that’ll keep you guessing. Barbara Cornthwaite’s second Wilkester Mystery has everything you want for a cozy read.
Welcome back to the sleepy college town of Wilkester, where murder and mayhem lurk beneath the calm exterior. Cafeteria manager Travis Melford has been killed right during the Regency conference held at the college. Adjunct English professor Katrina Peters comes to the rescue of her friend, Dr. Susan Langton, accused of the murder. Snuffed Out, #2 The Wilkester Mysteries by Barbara Cornthwaite, is a fun cozy mystery plus. The plus stands for a strong faith emphasis with a clear gospel message. It also represents the fact that fostering is a side subject well-explored and truthfully presented. You will feel deeply for Kim and Ed and Becky, all foster parents, as well as the children they seek to nurture.
For me, a good cozy has romance. Snuffed Out does and it’s enlightening to see Katrina and detective Todd Mason’s relationship move so slowly and discover the maddening unknowns about that by the novel’s end. Occasional humor had me bursting out in laughter at various points. I am more than ready for my next visit to Wilkester.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I voluntarily left this review, and all opinions are my own.
”…But time is moving so slowly. Like a turtle walking through tar.”
”…your problem is that you’re trying to face situations right now that God isn’t asking you to face.”
Rating: 5 out of 5.
About the Author
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.
Teaser for Snuffed Out
Todd closed the folder with the Franklin case paperwork in it and laid it on top of the stack of folders waiting to be filed. He almost reached for the Delaney case notes again but resisted the impulse. There was no new information in there, and he’d gone over everything a dozen times in the last few days. He had promised Katrina he wouldn’t give up, but without any new leads to pursue, there wasn’t much he could do.
He shook his head, impatient with himself. He’d been doing so well at putting her out of his mind—hadn’t thought of her all day until this moment. Now he’d probably be struggling for the rest of the day.
John Ortega poked his head into Todd’s office.
“Hey, we just got a call from the librarian at Wilkester College about the theft of a manuscript. The chief said either one of us could go, but I thought you might like to take it.”
“Oh, come on,” said John. “You think I’m blind and deaf?”
“It’s no use. Nothing’s going to happen between Dr. Peters and me.”
John leaned up against the door frame and grinned at him. “’Dr. Peters,’ huh? She was ‘Katrina’ for weeks.”
“Well, that was before. Now that I know a relationship isn’t possible, I need to keep my distance.”
“She turned you down?”
“I didn’t ask, but trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”
“Hmm,” John said. “You don’t usually give up on things so easily. Well, do you mind handling this anyway? I’ve got that other robbery case to deal with, and I’m supposed to be interviewing that guy from Tacoma in a couple hours.” Todd hesitated and John added, “She’s an adjunct professor, right? She’s probably not even on campus now, and she certainly won’t be in the library.”
“Oh, okay.” Todd sighed. He pushed back his chair and stood up.
“’Attaboy. Thanks for taking the call.” John turned to go and then looked back. “It will get easier, you know.”
When Molly Walker graduated from college, she was thrilled to be hired on as a ranger at Deep Creek Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She arrived ready to begin her career and to enjoy all the aspects of her new job, but the one thing she hadn’t counted on was the local poachers and their illegal shenanigans. Molly and fellow ranger Jake Stuart try to put a stop to the escalating poaching problem while protecting the animals. In the meantime, Molly finds the handsome ranger, who is also a local, is a great partner to have on her side. She also finds she’s losing her heart to him when she’d planned to stay focused on her career. Can she give her heart and have a career? She and Jake find themselves in a battle against a group of men with a hidden agenda far more sinister than poaching. Can they be stopped before Molly’s life is snuffed out?
Molly and Jake are in a battle against a group of men with a hidden agenda far more sinister than poaching. Can they be stopped before Molly’s life is snuffed out?
“The Smokies, in particular, hold a mystical appeal, like they’ve held secrets and tales for centuries just waiting for folks to discover. They have…personality.” This personality of the Smokies is very well brought to life in Mountain of Peril by J Carol Nemeth. It was a book I really looked forward to reading. Having visited there, I am very interested to read about descriptions of the natural beauty and wildlife, and Nemeth did not disappoint. Bear, wild boar, and elk all make appearances, and Nemeth shares a lot of pertinent information about poaching and trapping. The novel was very informational while being easy to read in and a fun story.
I enjoyed the occasional snarky humor that made me smile. I enjoyed Jake and Molly’s story, especially Molly as a new ranger. I certainly could identify with her need to put her career ahead of her romance, since this is her first job.
I liked that prayer is an integral part of the story. Salvation is clearly presented, but I would have liked to have seen it woven into the story in smaller, more natural bites. I also enjoyed how the ending came together. I hope we get to read Cal and Pam’s story soon. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving this review. All opinions are my own.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
About the Author
A native North Carolinian, J. Carol Nemeth has always loved reading and enjoyed making up stories since junior high school, most based in the places she has lived or traveled to. She worked in the National Park Service as a Park Aid and served in the US Army where she was stationed in Italy, traveling to over thirteen countries while there. She met the love of her life, Mark Nemeth, also an Army veteran, while stationed in Italy. After they married, they lived in various locations, including North Yorkshire, England. They now live in West Virginia, where, in their spare time, Carol and Mark enjoy RVing, sightseeing and are active in their church. They have a son, Matt, who serves active duty Army, a daughter, Jennifer, her husband Flint, who serves active duty Air Force, and three grandchildren, Martin, Ava and Gage. Their four-footed kid, Holly, a black Lab, loves traveling in their RV, and when they pack up to go, she’s waiting inside for them to head out.
More from J. Carol
I worked for the National Park Service at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park many moons ago before I met my husband. The setting for Mountain of Peril, Faith in the Parks Book 1 is in that park. I met a lot of interesting people and there was never dull moment. Something was always happening. I was either helping trap wild boar, riding horse back for back country patrol, or doing search and rescue for missing persons. I used several of my own experiences in the story, tweaking them a bit here or there to fit with the flow of the narrative. This book is near and dear to my heart just as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is. Working there was the best job I ever had, other than writing of course, and I loved it. I hope my love of the park flows through my characters and spills out for readers to experience and enjoy.
Mary Daley has been the sheriff of Tipton County for more than two decades, but someone wants her job. When it seems circumstances can’t get more complicated, a murder happens on her watch. Had she been the intended victim?
Deputy Chief Lyle Griffin only wants Mary to be happy, but when he asks her if she’d consider retiring, it sets off a string of events and emotions that muddy their friendship.
Nancy Daley-Malone can’t believe anyone would run for sheriff against her mom. She is onboard to help run the best campaign Tipton County has ever seen until the sheriff’s opponent is murdered and Nancy’s husband joins the race. On top of that, it appears someone is out to kill her mother as well.
Can Nancy, along with the sheriff’s department, find the murderer before it’s too late? Will Lyle and Mary be able to admit their feelings for one another or will the status quo remain?
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” I first loved The Sleuth’s Surprise, #4 The Librarian Sleuth, because it is a Christian cozy. No bad words, no bad scenes, but a small town with a murder and an amateur sleuth. While I vaguely remembered the librarian, Nancy, who tries to solve the mystery (I’d only read one other book in the series), it was obvious that this book could stand on its own merits. Yay.
The main character, Mary, is a mature woman, into her fifties. She is quite capable and respected in her job AND she has a romance waiting to happen IF she and a friend can get past the “friend” point. How often main characters are only in their twenties or thirties at best! Thank you, Ms. Johnson.
The competition that Kimberly Rose Johnson sets up for Nancy’s heart. How can Nancy ever decide whom to support between the two people she loves most. Just for free, the main characters of the other book I read were also involved and their relationship grew, as well. Lighter than my most recent read, The Sleuth’s Surprise was a timely, delicious surprise for a hungry bookworm. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
About the Author
Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.
Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.
Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.
In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost.
“My mother told me that when the boys came home from the war, people thought the world would go back to the way it was before. But it didn’t. The war lived on in souls for years after, and people were just never really the same again.” This quote by Jaime Jo Wright in Echoes Among the Stones so aptly captures the mood of Mill Creek, Wisconsin in July of 1946. Wright recreates the ominous heaviness that the war brings to America’s hearts. Some people, like the young men who survive, come home brooding or unable to find their way out of the horror now relegated to memory. Others are affected by the loss of family members or the great personality change in a family member who returns. Still others like Imogene and Hazel are also affected second-hand by the war brought to America.
Jaime Jo Wright has penned yet another mystery novel with spooky, ominous undertones that beckon the tentative reader in. Echoes Among the Stones is a time-slip novel, marrying two distinctly different and at first seemingly unrelated plots, no pun originally intended. In the present day, Aggie loses her real estate job and returns to her selfish, demanding grandmother’s home, while working a cemetery job. Collin, the archaeologist who works with Aggie, frustrates her, intrigues her, and challenges her by turns. There was enough eerie mystery, romance, and humor (“You have all the sense of an addlepated muskrat, ”) plus faith scattered throughout the book that this book is a big winner for me. Also, I loved the way the solution took me by surprise. Look for this book among my favorites in 2019.
Quotes: “Sometimes…you must step outside of your own strength and realize there’s a greater Strength waiting to hold you.”
“All I can say right now is that we sell God short when we look at the pain. Instead, we should focus on what He’s provided us to help us heal.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.
5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!
About the Author
Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!
Abigail Wilson returns to Regency England with another tale of murder, mystery, and romance.
After her elder brother’s mysterious death, Rebecca Hunter vows to expose the man she believes responsible-Mr. Lewis Browning-known by the locals as the Midnight Devil and by Rebecca as her new guardian. He alone was on the bridge that fateful night and openly admits striking her brother with his horse, but he claims he remembers little else.
Summoned to his reclusive country estate to await her London season, Rebecca plans her own secret investigation. Yet, Lewis Browning is not as she once imagined, and his motivation is horribly unclear. Recurrent nightmares and Rebecca’s restless feelings are further complicated by the shadow of her mother’s prior descent into madness and whether she too will follow the same heartbreaking path.
Even as midnight rides, strange injuries, and further murders lead back to Lewis, Rebecca can’t ignore the subtle turn of her heart. Has she developed feelings for the man she swore to see hanged? And moreover, can she trust him with her uncertain future?
English moors beset by swirling mists and winds; wicked storms, dreary weather, and centuries-old decrepit buildings slowly decaying; combine to make a great Gothic tale, but not a place I would care to visit. Abigail Wilson, in Midnight on the River Grey, carefully employs dark words, effectively painting a very dreary, spooky mood in Regency England.
What is the allure of a musty setting like this? It “must” be the reader’s desire to see if the unfortunate characters can find hope or color in their lives, against all the odds of the Dickens-like environment. Rebecca has an overriding fear that she must face head-on. Lewis Browning has a horrible reputation that causes townspeople to ostracize him completely. Under the darkness of this tale is a thin ray of light struggling to find greater purchase and freedom. As a reader, I raced through the pages hoping to free Rebecca from her invisible prison. Would she determine the cause of the turmoil in her new surroundings, or would she become the next victim?
Who will not like Rebecca? She can’t seem to stay safe, but she is determined to prove her loved one innocent and make the guilty pay. Rebecca has spunk, inquisitiveness, and clear thinking in spades, although some might like her to think otherwise. I loved the slow unwrapping of the romance as if one were unwrapping a present covered in layers of newsprint. Lewis was kind enough to sympathize with Rebecca’s feelings. That goes a long ways towards winning her respect, as opposed to just defending her father. Lewis also proves himself to be thoughtful and generous in undeniable ways. By this point, I didn’t care if Lewis was good-looking or not. Actions transform the face and person.
I wondered if maybe Rebecca had unfairly judged both her father and Lewis. My Bible reading just yesterday cautioned against judging. It seems we point fingers back at ourselves when we refuse to extend grace to others. Aunt Jo is very likable and seems to have a quiet caution and wisdom. She is an excellent foil for Rebecca. A quote. (I will post longer ones as memes.)
“Sometimes people do awful things when they feel justified.”
I recommend this book, with a few caveats. While it is clean, there are, however, a few situations that would make it for mature readers. There was no mention of faith, which is disappointing when the book comes from a Christian publisher.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own.
About the Author
Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children. Connect with Abigail at www.acwilsonbooks.com; Instagram: acwilsonbooks; Facebook: ACWilsonbooks; Twitter: @acwilsonbooks.
An excerpt from Midnight on the River Grey
My heartbeat turned sluggish as an ache swelled in the back of my throat. This man—the
person responsible for my brother’s death—expected me to live with him? In his house? Madness.
“And if we refuse?”
“I’m afraid there is little choice in the matter at this point. The arrangements are already complete.”
Mr. Browning narrowed his blue eyes, scrutinizing me, no doubt, as the numbing shock of his declaration faded to resignation across my face. He sighed. “I do realize Greybourne Hall might hold unfortunate associations for you—”
“Unfortunate?” My voice came out a bit louder than I’d expected. “Is that what you choose to call it?”
He gave a sideways glance at Aunt Jo then returned to me, a pained look hovering about his eyes. His voice, however, remained firm. “Forgive me if I startled you. I hadn’t expected such a violent reaction to what I assumed was the logical next step. Perhaps I should make myself a bit clearer.” He gave a curt sigh. “I only intend for you to stay at Greybourne Hall till someplace more suitable can be arranged. Unfortunately, there are few options at present.”
Ice enveloped my heart. I had no wish to travel to, let alone live at that dreadful house, not even for a single night. In his letters, Jacob had described the rambling structure as a gray pile of stones fit for vampires, or worse. I could only image Mr. Browning, this dark-headed devil before me, at home in such a place.