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

A Not So Convenient Marriage by Sandra Merville Hart Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A Not So Convenient Marriage

Author: Sandra Merville Hart

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: November 8, 2022

A spinster teacher…a grieving widower…a marriage of convenience and a second chance with the man she’s always loved.

When Samuel Walker proposes a marriage of convenience to Rose Hatfield so soon after the death of his wife, she knows he doesn’t love her. She’s loved him since their school days. Those long-suppressed feelings spring to life as she marries him. She must sell her childhood home, quit her teaching job, and move to a new city.

Marrying Rose is harder than Samuel expected, especially with the shadow of his deceased wife everywhere in his life. And he has two young children to consider. Peter and Emma need a mother’s love, but they also need to hold close the memories of their real mother as they grieve her loss.

Life as Samuel’s wife is nothing like Rose hoped, and even the townspeople, who loved his first wife, make Rose feel like an outsider. The work of the farm draws the two of them closer, giving hope that they might one day become a happy family. Until the dream shatters, and the life Rose craves tumbles down around them. Only God can put these pieces back together, but the outcome may not look anything like she planned.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Sandra Merville Hart, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author of inspirational historical romances, loves to discover little-known yet fascinating facts from American history to include in her stories. Her desire is to transport her readers back in time. She is also a blogger, speaker, and conference teacher. Connect with Sandra on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

More from Sandra

There are some stories that must be told. A Not So Convenient Marriage is one of them for me.

I don’t know what it is about this story, but once I began writing it over a dozen years ago, the characters wouldn’t leave me alone.

I wrote the first draft of this book a few years before my first book—another book, A Stranger on My Land—released, so I was still learning about the writing journey. I’m certain that my first draft of A Not So Convenient Marriage wasn’t ready for publication because it was rejected.

But the characters in my imagination wouldn’t allow me to let this one go. I edited and reedited, using skills I learned at writing conferences. Then I tried again with another editor. Another rejection.

Discouraged, I worked on other writing projects and met with a little success. When my first Civil War romance published, I decided to follow my heart and continue writing about that turbulent time period.

This book was set aside.

Still, every morning I woke up thinking about the characters in A Not So Convenient Marriage. In my mind, I’d rewrite a scene from the book as I lay, trying to sleep, in the middle of the night. Or the story would haunt me before falling asleep at night, keeping me awake an hour or two.

This happened almost daily for years.

Finally, I pulled up the manuscript again. It had been written in my early days so it required a lot of modification. I asked my agent to begin showing my updated proposal for the book. She was happy to do this because she always believed in this book. In fact, she decided to represent me after reading for proposal for it.

By the way, the story was still keeping me awake as I waited to sign a book contract.

Last year, I was thrilled when Misty Beller, Wild Heart Books, offered me a contract for a three-book series for this novel. Not only that, she also gave me a three-book contract for my “Spies of the Civil War” series, that published this year. (I invite you to read the whole “Spies of the Civil War” series beginning with Book 1 Avenue of Betrayal, Book 2 Boulevard of Confusionand Book 3 Byway to Danger.)

Misty told me that she cried when reading my manuscript for A Not So Convenient Marriage—the first time that had ever happened for a submission. That touched my heart.

I’m happy to say that scenes from the book no longer keep me awake at night…for now the story will be told.

My Impressions

“Which was worse, marrying a man who didn’t love her or growing old alone?”

I easily connected with Rose Hatfield, spinster teacher, whose desire to comfort a former classmate over his wife’s death leads to a marriage of convenience. A Not So Convenient Marriage is such a fitting title for this book that dragged my emotions back and forth with Rose’s and Samuel’s relational ebb and flow. Sometimes their feelings shifted so fast, I felt dizzy! Sandra Merville Hart truly presents a hard situation made worse by busybodies, untimely occurrences, and an inability to communicate well.

I loved Charlie. Definitely my fave secondary character! Charlie has weathered a lot of life, and has gleaned much wisdom. Yet, he doesn’t spout it out freely, but offers it gently when needed. Fortunately, he is a little stronger with Samuel, who needs a strong motion to the posterior region!

Rose slowly learns to turn from resentment over her own hurt to prayers for the hurt of others, (whose hurt she actually understands.) Perspective and prayer makes all the difference in our own attitudes, but I like that as we see with Rose, it is a decision that must be repeated many times before it becomes easier.

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

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! I love this book for the heart-wrenching story, but my takeaway truth clenches it for me: A lot of life and circumstances aren’t fair, but being willing to see them from a different perspective can make a huge difference in my attitude!!

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, November 1

For Him and My Family, November 1

lakesidelivingsite, November 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 3

Holly’s Book Corner, November 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 4

deb’s Book Review, November 5

Blossoms and Blessings, November 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 6

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 7

Inklings and notions, November 7

Connie’s History Classroom, November 8

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 9

Through the Fire Blogs, November 9

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 10

Pause for Tales, November 11

To Every BOOK There is a Season, November 11

Bizwings Blog, November 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 13

Mary Hake, November 13

Vicky Sluiter, November 14

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sandra is giving away the grand prize of 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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2244d/a-not-so-convenient-marriage-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, Kindle, NetGalley, Purchase

A Gem of Truth by Kimberley Woodhouse Review

About the Book

Title: A Gem of Truth

Series: Secrets of the Canyon, #2

Author: Kimberley Woodhouse

Publisher: Bethany House

Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Mystery/Suspense

Released: September 2022

Length: 320 pp

Julia Schultz has a reputation for being a storyteller–or as others see it, a liar. But with a dark and painful past, stories were all that kept her company and made her interesting to others. Longing for a fresh start and a second chance to earn real trust, Julia takes a job as a Harvey Girl at the El Tovar hotel, where she’s challenged to be her true self.

Learning the trade of a master jeweler is hard work, but Christopher Miller takes pride in running his family’s small shop and earning the respect of the people around him. But when he discovers that he has six weeks to buy his shop from his landlord before it is sold, he must find a way to save his grandfather’s legacy.

United by the discovery of a legendary treasure, Chris and Julia find hope in each other. But when Julia’s past catches up with her, doubt creeps into Chris’s heart. Can he really trust her and her stories? 

My Impressions

After reading Kimberley Woodhouse’s first book in the Secrets of the Canyon series, I knew I had to read the next, A Gem of Truth. What a gem it is, too! Set mainly at the Grand Canyon Harvey House in the early 1900s, history and romance marry action to form an exciting book you won’t soon forget. 

Harvey Girl Uniform

“Instant friends. If only there were such a wonderful thing.” I could empathize with poor Julia who had trouble feeling worthy and making friends. Unfortunately, Julia tells fantastically entertaining stories to gain approval, but loses people’s trust in bargain. Will she learn to tell the truth before her life lays in shambles at her feet? 

How many people can identify with Julia as “she still felt very much alone…Surrounded by people, but lonely.” This is so easy to fall in this trap. We often try to be good enough to please people, hiding who we really are, afraid of rejection if people discover the real us. 

Told in third person, the novel switches back and forth quickly between characters and the reader must be alert. 

I loved seeing our friends from Woodhouse’s first book, as well the new characters who added so much to the story. Ruth figures into this narrative until we are ready for her story, which will be out next year! (Yay!)

Woodhouse has done her Harvey House waitress homework, as well as incorporating a legend masterfully to add so much suspense! And her detail to jewelry making! 

I appreciated that the main characters respected the Hopi Indians and treated them and their culture well. I would love to have seen that part of the Canyon, something we need to rectify next time we visit, as well as visiting the El Tovar.

Don’t miss this book!! I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley, plus I purchased my own ecopy.  No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Would she never get past who she’d been? Would anyone truly love her for who she was?”

“There are no bad eggs, just a bunch of people with sin natures. God loves every one of us the same.”

“Humility is knowing your worth and choosing to put others ahead of yourself anyway.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! Exciting Mix of History, Romance, and Suspense in the Grand Canyon!

About the Author

Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than twenty-five books. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate and the promise of eighteen holes on the golf course. She loves music, kayaking, and her family. Her books have been awarded the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Reader’s Choice Award, Selah Award, Spur Award, and others. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared with over 1,000,000 people at more than twenty-five hundred venues across the country. Married to the love of her life for three decades, she lives and writes in the Poconos where she’s traded in her hat of “craziest mom” for “coolest grandma.” Connect with Kim at 

www.kimberleywoodhouse.com

 www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAu…
www.instagram.com/kimberleywoodhouse
www.twitter.com/kimwoodhouse

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

The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: The Wonderland Trials

Author: Sara Ella

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy / Alice in Wonderland retelling

Release date: July 12, 2022

Solve the clues. Face your fears. Survive the Trials. 

All Alice Liddell wants is to escape her Normal life in Oxford and find the parents who abandoned her ten years ago. But she gets more than she bargained for when her older sister Charlotte is arrested for having the infamous Wonder Gene—the key to unlocking the curious Wonderland Reality.

Soon, Alice receives a rather cryptic invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Now she has less than twenty-four hours to find her way into Wonderland where nothing is impossible . . . or what it seems.

The stakes are raised when she discovers players go missing during the Trials each year. Will she and her team solve the clues and find the missing players? Or will betrayal and distrust win, leaving Alice alone in a world of her own? Follow the White Rabbit into this topsy-turvy fantasy where players become prey, a sip of the wrong tea might as well be poison, and a queen’s ways do not always lead one where they ought to go.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“Nothing is impossible.”

“Wonderland is for Wonders. Outsiders don’t belong.”

Hmmm…This is definitely a YA novel in terms of the mental processing going on, the quick changing of allegiances, the uncertainty of knowing one’s own mind. Seems to me that Sara Ella captured the thought processes of a young adult very well in her retelling of Alice in Wonderland as she pens The Wonderland Trials.

I am going to go out on a limb and say this is an allegorical novel, reminding me loosely of the allegory of C S Lewis’s Narnia. I loved that part. If you love chess, you will certainly want to read this novel. Also, if you love the nonsense of Alice in Wonderland (which I always struggled with), you will love this remade tale. Sara Ella does a fantastic job of incorporating many of the characters and sayings of the original work and making some of them very endearing to a nonpreferred reader of the Lewis Carroll novel like myself. I found an affinity to Chess, Alice, and Dinah that I did not expect out of this novel that contained more nonsense than I thought I could handle. It worked together enough to make a believer out of me by the end of the book! For that reason, while this read is not my chosen cup of tea, it certainly is a great antidote for the skeptic like myself, and I am accordingly giving it 5 stars!

One caveat-reader beware- this book builds in intensity to a near frenzy (how fitting!), then ends in a cliff-hanger. That is something I always want to know before starting a book, and I do not consider that a spoiler!!

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

Notable Quotables:

“We’ve let fear rule us-divide us -for so long-we’ve forgotten we’re all part of the same team.”

“Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

About the Author

Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle. Now she spends her days homeschooling her three Jedi in training, braving the Arizona summers, and reminding her superhero husband that it’s almost Christmas (even if it’s only January). When she’s not writing, Sara might be found behind her camera lens or planning her next adventure in the great wide somewhere. She is a Hufflepuff who finds joy in the simplicity of sipping a lavender white mocha and singing Disney tunes in the car. Sara is the author of the Unblemished trilogy and Coral, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid that focuses on mental health. Her latest journey into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like coming full circle after her time spent chasing the White Rabbit around Walt Disney World. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she still believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.” Connect with her online at SaraElla.com or find her on Instagram at @saraellawrites.

More from Sara

Welcome to Wonderland!

When I started this journey down the rabbit hole, I had no idea where it would lead me. From switching publishers to signing a book contract during a pandemic, this writing journey has certainly been an adventure for the books!

As with every story I write, life handed me a few trials along the way with this one. I didn’t know how it would end until a few weeks before deadline. With that time crunch came an epiphany that altered a good portion of the plot—an idea that had me scrambling to rewrite entire scenes right up until the final hours before I turned the story in to my editor. It was difficult, but the book is better for it—I am better for it.

It could be said that an author shapes the story, but I personally believe it’s equally true that the story shapes the author. Every book I have written has changed me in some way. With The Wonderland Trials, I can pinpoint three takeaways that helped me grow in ways I never expected.

I learned to not take life so seriously.

We all have to do the adulting thing. We have bills to pay and homes to clean and deadlines to meet. But in the midst of all that chaos and craziness is a time to laugh. To play. To make a mess on the living room floor building Legos with my toddler or take a walk to the park.

I found myself often rushing through time with friends because I had to write or work or check more boxes off my task list. But feeling stressed and cutting friend and family time short didn’t accomplish anything. It didn’t get my book written faster. I’m not saying to put things off that need to be done—it’s important to be responsible. I am saying I learned that I have to balance work and play, and most importantly, I need to be present for those in my life.

It’s not only okay to sit back and relax now and again, it’s necessary. I need to let go of the constant to-do list and invest my time in things that bring me joy. That way, when it’s time to sit down and pound the keys, I’m filled and inspired, rather than tired and anxious.

I learned to see the beauty in found family.

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I disagree. As a girl who was raised by a stepdad who has loved me unconditionally as his own from the time I was two, I think there is something truly special about family that you find and make your own.

There have been times I’ve felt jealous of my friends who still have their biological parents around. I lost my mom in 2012 and my birth dad in 2020. I have maybe a handful of blood relatives left. I love them to bits, and I’m so grateful for them! But my family extends beyond the boundaries of blood. When I really think about it, I have family coming out of my ears and then some.

I have besties who became my soul sisters and women who stepped in as moms and grandmas. I have big brothers who would protect me with their lives and nieces and nephews I get to spoil on holidays and birthdays. As Alice says in The Wonderland Trials, “​​Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

I learned to believe in the impossible.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the pessimist in my family. I try to see every worst-case scenario when making a decision. I ask all the what-ifs in the book. I’m like MJ in the Spider-Man movies— “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”

My husband, on the other hand, has the faith of a child. When I’m lacking in faith, he’s there to remind me of all God can do. And God almost always surprises me with how He goes about doing those things. In a world with drive-thrus, mobile bank deposits, food deliveries, and every other form of instant service we can think of, the call to be patient and wait on the Lord is often forgotten.

I want answers now. I want my family member to be healed now. I want the baby we’ve been waiting over a year to adopt now. God can do the impossible, right? So why doesn’t He hurry up and do it already?

Because God is not a vending machine. And just because He chooses not to perform the miracle I want when and how I want it, that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. In fact, it’s the waiting period when God tends to do His best work on me.

More often than not, I am the impossible one, the impossible heart that needs changing. The stubborn clay that needs molding. The cracked tea cup that needs to be fixed and filled with rivers of gold. What I see as impossible to fix or change, God sees as an opportunity to help me grow. So I’ll keep believing in the impossible. After all, God took me, an impossibly helpless sinner, and made me into something new.

Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and for giving this little book a chance. Happy reading, Wonders! The impossible awaits!

Sincerely,

Sara Ella

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 30

A Reader’s Brain, July 31

For Him and My Family, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 2

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 3

Inklings and notions, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Live. Love. Read., August 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 10

Wishful Endings, August 11

Blogging With Carol, August 12

Rebecca Tews, August 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a signed Limited Edition Hardcover of The Wonderland Trials, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and $15 Starbucks Gift Card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/2038e/the-wonderland-trials-celebration-tour-giveaway