First Line Friday — The Drive

12 Aug

Happy Friday! My husband loves a Western, be it a film or novel. So when I saw that Murray Pura and Patrick E. Craig had a new series, I just had to get him book 1, The Drive. The Storm Riders series promises to have all the thing my husband likes, and I’m anxious to hear what he thinks. If you or someone you love are a fan of the Western genre, then check it out!

Here’s the first line:

Carson Budrow sat low in the saddle, his slicker doing little to ward off the chill wind and light drops of rain.

Out of the smoke and fire of the Civil War, an unlikely friendship is forged. Two men emerge from the war’s ashes, cross paths, and decide to ride together, even though Carson Budrow wore Union blue and Garrett Roads Confederate gray. They form a cautious partnership and hook up with a cattle drive heading from Texas to Colorado. Fierce twisters, deep rivers, heartless desperadoes, bold Comanche with faces painted for war, and gun-toting, strong women will be on this drive. Worst of all is the gang tracking them and gunning for Budrow’s life, something not even his partner Roads or the two women in Budrow’s life think they can do anything to stop.

Off The Itinerary Blog Tour + Giveaway!

11 Aug

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Off the Itinerary series by M. Liz Boyle, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE SERIES

Title: Avalanche
Series: Off the Itinerary #1
Author: M. Liz Boyle
Publisher: Independently Published
Release Date: September 26, 2019
Genre: Christian middle-grade/YA, Adventure

“Avalanche surprised me with its depth…a 5-star read…” -For the Love of Literature

Five friends. One moonlit summit. An unforgettable journey.

Excitement hangs in the air as Marlee and her sisters join their friends on a daring hike up a Colorado mountain – in the middle of the night. When Sawyer first proposes the idea of a moonlit summit during the two families’ annual backpacking trip, Marlee is terrified but also hooked. Having grown up taking trips to the mountains, they’ve learned a thing or two about hiking, and Sawyer is confident they’ll be back by sunrise. But when disaster strikes, their knowledge, faith, and stamina will be put to the test. Digging out of the cemented snow is the first of many challenges in the coming days, and now Marlee has to trust Sawyer, who, by the way, was the brain behind the dilemma. Will their faith and friendship survive, or will they cave under pressure?

This engaging journey, told by fifteen-year-old Marlee Stanley, captures a timeless sense of adventure. The five young adults strive to exhibit godly character throughout their escapade, but it will take immense strength to hike out of this mess.

“I know that if their journey inspired me, it will certainly inspire others…Boyle has brought YA fans an uplifting, adventurous novel.” -A Baker’s Perspective

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound

EXCERPT

With a “Let’s do this!” from Marshall, we headed upward. I was about sixteen steps into the snow when I heard the roar. Before my mind even had time to register the cause of the sound, I cried out in panic. Sawyer shouted to us to run to the side of the ridge, to try to escape the path of the white monster racing toward us. Where was Lydie? What would happen to my dear baby sister? In an instant, a blur of white, I was highly aware of Sawyer and Ellie racing to get to Lydie. I heard Marshall tell me to swim to stay on top of the snow. When the mass swept under my body, I gasped in horror as I felt the powerful force of nature. The fact that snow in an avalanche settles as densely as cement terrified me as I desperately thrashed my arms and legs and gulped air before crashing down, down into darkness.

The next twenty minutes felt like watching a too-realistic movie. I was terrified, and wished it was just a scary movie that I could turn off and forget. Forget the midnight hike, forget being body-slammed by a wall of snow, forget struggling for air. Then I thought of my parents and my sisters, and I decided to use every ounce of strength to see them again. Hearing Marshall’s voice gave me even more reason to fight for life, and when we were all reunited, I felt like we were going to be okay. We had survived an avalanche. Surely we could hike to safety. 

Title: Chased
Series: Off the Itinerary #2
Author: M. Liz Boyle
Publisher: Independently Published
Release Date: June 1, 2020
Genre: Christian middle-grade/YA, Adventure

“Chased would be a great addition to a k-12 Christian school library. Middle schoolers and up will enjoy it.” – Library Lady’s Kid Lit

It’s been a year since Marlee, her sisters, and the Miles boys survived an avalanche. Sure, it was a little embarrassing for them when all the neighbors saw them on the news, but they love being outdoors, and what are the odds that another tragedy would strike this adventurous group? Has anyone calculated the statistics of being hit with two natural disasters? It has to be low, so of course the two families planned to backpack again this summer.

When the teens first meet Thad, a dehydrated hiker on the trail, they give him water and food and help him recover. He seems harmless until he tells them to hike a few extra miles at sunset. Then Lydie finds a hand-drawn map that Thad dropped, and they discover why he is so eager to get away from the Stanley girls and Miles boys. So eager that he starts chasing them.

Now they have to climb up unforgiving ridges, sneak through the night, and – is that thunder and lightning? To make matters worse, Marlee has a nagging worry that her older sister Ellie is preparing to move away from home.

What is God’s plan? How will they get away from Thad before it’s too late?

“…realistic, exciting, and suspenseful…Chased is the perfect sequel to Avalanche. It’s gripping, suspenseful, entertaining, and, best of all, Christian.” -David M., Beta Reader

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository

EXCERPT

We all looked at him with surprise, and I must admit I was slightly alarmed. He shrugged and said, “Not everyone in the backcountry is good. Once in a while a person can meet up with a bad group.”

What is he talking about? Backpackers are generally harmless people. Usually we’re stinky, and some hikers are a bit eccentric, but not dangerous. I studied Thad’s face, trying to make sense of his last statement. Did he think we’re a bad group? Or was he making some unusual joke? Sneaking a peek toward Sawyer, I saw that he too was staring at Thad, no doubt having the same thoughts as me. I was struck with a terrifying thought that shocked my mind like a bolt of lightning: could Thad be a threat to us?

Title: Ablaze
Series: Off the Itinerary #3
Author: M. Liz Boyle
Publisher: Independently Published
Release Date: February 25, 2021
Genre: Christian middle-grade/YA, Adventure

“M. Liz Boyle tackles the topic of showering difficult people with grace and forgiveness, making this a must-read for Christian teens. Adventure seekers who loved Avalanche and Chased will fall head-over-heels for the adventure that heats up in Ablaze!” – Author Allyson Kennedy

This summer the Stanley sisters and the Miles boys are excited to hike together again, and now they have the unique opportunity to help two of their ranger friends with an outdoor program in the beautiful Montana mountains.

Marlee has always considered herself a willing follower. Give her a direction and she’s happy to help. Her older sister Ellie is a natural leader, and Marlee is content in her role as assistant.

Marlee and her sisters have been assigned to help with Ranger Rose’s team, and they are savoring the adventure. But in a heartbeat while the group is divided by a few hundred feet, fire breaks out between Ranger Rose and Marlee’s group. In this enthralling finale to the Off the Itinerary series, Marlee must face her fears with courage that only God can provide.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT

I had never given much thought to the well-known fact that heat rises. But as I gaped at the flames racing uphill toward us, greedily devouring the meadow grass, I realized that the rising heat factoid is a really big deal. Braelynn’s slashing words again clouded my thoughts. Sorry to disappoint you, Mrs. Gunderson. I should never have signed up for this leadership role!

“Marlee, do something!” Reeny shrieked. Sure, let me just unroll the fire hose stashed conveniently in the top of my pack. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M. Liz Boyle is an author, the wife of a professional tree climber and the mom of three energetic and laundry-producing children. She received her Associate’s of Arts at the University of Sioux Falls, where she received the LAR Writing Award for her essay entitled, “My Real Life Mufasa.” Liz once spent a summer in Colorado teaching rock climbing, which she believes was a fantastic way to make money and memories. She resides with her family in Wisconsin, where they enjoy hiking and rock climbing. Liz and her husband have also backpacked in Colorado and the Grand Canyon, which have provided inspiration for her writing. She likes making adventurous stories to encourage others to find adventures and expand their comfort zones (though admittedly, she still needs lots of practice expanding her own comfort zone). She has thoroughly enjoyed working on the Off the Itinerary series.

Connect with Liz by visiting mlizboyle.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(3) winners will receive one Off the Itinerary series book (winner’s choice), book swag, and $15 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight August 9, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on August 16, 2022. US only. Items may vary from image. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Blog Tour + Giveaway! — Shoal Waters

10 Aug

Shoal Waters JustRead Blog + Review Blitz
Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for Shoal Waters by Normandie Fischer, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Shoal Waters

Title: Shoal Waters
Series:
Carolina Coast Stories #6
Author: Normandie Fischer
Publisher: Sleepy Creek Press
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Genre: Inspirational/Clean Women’s Fiction

Dementia, mad gunmen, and a yearning for something more make life difficult for the Beaufort folk in this series finale.

Georgie’s mind threatens to go walkabout, and she’d better get help soon if she’s to stop her daughter from taking over. Enter granddaughter, Jeminy, a songwriter from L.A., and Eric, her lawyer.

Jeminy hates herself and is pretty sure God does, too. There’s that huge unforgiveable sin, plus the boyfriend/manager who dumped her and lost her a music deal. Her mistakes. Her fault.

When Mother plots to tuck Nana Georgie neatly into a nursing home to gain access to Nana’s money, Jeminy hightails it out of L.A. and back to Beaufort. God may still hate her in North Carolina, but at least she’ll be on hand to protect her beloved grandmother.

Enter Eric, the lawyer hired to help Georgie protect herself–and possibly Jeminy, too. But Eric just rescued his orphaned stepson from Social Services, and while he’s adept at legal briefs and courtroom dramas, classrooms and angry second graders are brand new territory.

Guitar in hand, Jeminy tries to write songs to jumpstart her flagging career, but when someone threatens her life, she has to ask why. Could it have to do with the money missing from her bank accounts (and maybe her unstable ex)? If she prays for help, will God even listen to someone with her baggage?

With the help of the Beaufort crew, a new father and a terrified musician struggle to safeguard everyone they love, but it’s going to take more than good neighbors to show each of them the true meaning of grace.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub

EXCERPT

Quiet pervaded the Beaufort waterfront, except for the occasional squawk of a gull or the plop of a fish. Sunshine doused Georgie’s bones in a warmth that fought off all her old-person aches. Fighting off was good because, honey, those aches were just part of what had worry settling in.

Sometimes it was there, swooping like a buzzard after kill, and sometimes she was herself, Georgina Warren, her thinking clear as the drips from the hose snaking through her flowers.

The horrible thing that would steal her self from her and make her vulnerable had begun, and that thought shamed her. Only she had no time for shame. Or for anything else.

MORE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES

Becalmed Heavy Weather Twilight Christmas Sailing out of Darkness The Sea Prayers


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Normandie Fischer

Normandie Fischer had the best of several worlds: a Southern heritage, access to schooling in the DC area (which meant lots of cultural adventures), and several years of sculpture studies in Italy. It might have been better for her if she’d used all these opportunities more wisely, but it’s possible that the imperfect and the unwise also add fodder for the artist and the writer.

Her life changed radically when she married the love of her life at an age when some would have said she was over the hill and way past her prime. (Clichés often speak the truth, don’t they?) A lifelong sailor, she was delighted to find that Michael also longed to cruise lovely waters, which is what they did from Northern CA to Mexico, spending too-few years in the incomparable Sea of Cortez. Sea Venture, their 50′ ketch, is back home in North Carolina now because Normandie’s mama needed care. Still, it’s gorgeous there, too, and she can write from home as easily as she could on the boat.

Her two grown children and two step-sons are handsome (or gorgeous, as the case may be), talented, and a delight. And now there’s a granddaughter and grandson in the mix–woohoo! She just wishes they lived a lot closer to home.

Connect with Normandie by visiting normandiefischer.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and one signed book written by Normandie Fischer (winner’s choice)!

Shoal Waters JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight August 10, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on August 17, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Top 10 Tuesday — Ruining Book Titles With A Word

9 Aug

Happy Tuesday. Authors, agents, editors, and marketing departments all search for that perfect book title. The one that will call to readers. And here I am ruining perfectly good titles with a change of a letter or a word. Sorry, not sorry. 😉 Today, TTT bloggers were called on to present hilarious titles. I have a more perverse take on the topic. I’d love to know of other titles that can be ruined!

For more book hilarity, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Titles Ruined with A Well-Replaced Letter or Word

Boots of Wood And Stone by Amanda Wen

Uncomfortable shoes in the past and present.

Deadly Swallows by Dani Pettrey

Terrorist-trained birds!

Fatal Cod by Natalie Walters

The fish was a bit off.

Healing Fly by Janet Ferguson

Can a biologist find love while saving the endangered fly?

Quaker Oats Summer by Lisa Samson

It’s heart healthy!

Refuse at Pine Lake by Rose Chandler Johnson

Finding a place to belong at the dump.

Sea Glass Cottage Cheese by Irene Hannon

Can they rekindle love over a diet meal?

Shadows of Swanford Tabby by Julie Klassen

Is that a cat following me?

The Sweat Life by Suzanne Woods Fisher

It’s summer after all.

Until Sleeves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Well-dressed resistance in France.

First Line Friday — The Premonition at Withers Farm

5 Aug

Happy Friday! Today I am featuring one of the newest novels on my NetGalley shelf, The Premonition at Withers Farm. This new dual-time, mystery/suspense from Jaime Jo Wright is just the thing for those who like a shiver-y good read. It’s not out yet, but you can pre-order HERE.

Now for a sneak peek at the first line:

When death came to visit, no one ever prepared tea and cookies.

The voices of the past cannot stay silent forever.

In 1910 Michigan, Perliett Van Hilton is a self-proclaimed rural healer, leaving the local doctor convinced she practices quackery. It doesn’t help that her mother is a spiritualist who regularly offers her services to connect the living with their dearly departed. But when Perliett is targeted by a superstitious killer, she must rely on both the local doctor and an intriguing newcomer for assistance.

In the present day, Molly Wasziak’s life has not gone the way she dreamed. Facing depression after several miscarriages, Molly is adapting to her husband’s purchase of a peculiar old farm. A search for a family tree pulls Molly deep into a century-old murder case and a web of deception, all made more mysterious by the disturbing shadows and sounds inside the farmhouse.

Perliett fights for her life, and Molly seeks renewed purpose for hers as she uncovers the records of the dead. Will their voices be heard, or will time forever silence their truths?

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!

Blog Tour — The Epic Story of RJ And York

4 Aug

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for The Epic Story of RJ and York by Susan May Warren, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE SERIES

It’s an epic adventure across Europe, from France to Italy, to Germany and even Russia in this riveting, fun, romantic, enthralling trilogy about true love, honor, and the cost of, well, saving the world.

Title: Out of the Night
Series: The Epic Story of York & RJ #1
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: SDG Publishing
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Genre: Romantic Suspense (Clean)

The romantic trilogy ignites in book one of the Epic Story of RJ and York!

He’s not looking for trouble…

All former spy and current national security agent York Newgate wants is to propose to the woman he loves, RJ Marshall. Then they can move to Shelly, Washington, and start the calm, safe life he’s been dreaming of for over a year.

Too bad trouble doesn’t agree…

Or maybe RJ simply attracts trouble because she’s just going out for coffee when she spots a wanted, known terrorist standing in the middle of a street in Paris. At least she thinks it’s international criminal Alan Martin, the mastermind behind a plot to kill the president.

But he’s in jail, right?

Wrong. Martin has escaped, and it’s up to RJ—and York—to keep him in their sights until he can be apprehended. But chasing down Martin means following him into the darkness of whatever plot he’s cooked up now.

Will he ever outrun trouble to find his happy ending?

So much for York’s epic proposal. Now, he just wants to escape Europe with their lives.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

York wasn’t a coward. Not even a little. Besides, RJ was going to say yes. 

It was just that he wanted it to be perfect. In every way—from the ambiance, to the food, the stroll along the Seine under a twinkle-light sky, even down to the buskers singing romantic French songs. 

Everything had been meticulously planned and was now aligned for the moment he got down on one knee and asked Ruby Jane Marshall to marry him. Finally. 

And really, that was the only reason it had taken him so very long—painfully, ridiculously, stupidly long for him to propose. Because after a year and a half of chasing down bad guys—namely, a plot to kill the president by one former vice-president, which included checking and rechecking their evidence for the federal prosecutor—he was so very ready to make good on his promise to return to small town Shelly, Montana, and build a life together. 

One that included a front porch view of Lake Shelly, via the gorgeous timber-framed house he’d put an offer on—a surprise wedding gift for RJ. 

Yes, York had it all figured out. Once they’d gotten clear of the trial, he’d booked this trip to Paris, purchased a beautiful vintage two carat diamond ring, made dinner reservations at the famed Le Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, with the glittering lights of Paris sprayed at their footsteps. And tonight, during their romantic after dinner walk, he’d tell her how she’d changed his life. 

How, somehow, despite his losses, the wounds, she’d healed him. 

Most of all, that he couldn’t wait one more minute to marry her, if she’d have him. In his mind’s eye, she said yes, of course, and leaped into his arms, and—

It would all end happily, he knew it in his heart. 

Title: I Will Find You
Series: The Epic Story of York & RJ #2
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: SDG Publishing
Release Date: August 16, 2022
Genre: Romantic Suspense (Clean)

The gripping romantic adventure continues across Europe in this second installment of the Epic Story of RJ and York!

The woman he loves has vanished…

When RJ Marshall said she’d be right back, York should have objected. No, he wasn’t going to let her run off to Berlin, even if it was to save a little girl.

Only problem—she’d told him this while he was unconscious. So really, it doesn’t count, and it’s not his fault that she’s gone missing. And, he didn’t know why he expected RJ not to chase danger into trouble. But now he has to find her before criminal mastermind Alan Martin tracks her down.

She’s in over her head…

RJ didn’t mean to leave York behind, but she’s on a mission to save a little girl caught in the crossfire of Martin’s terrorist plot. Now, she’ll have to find the girl and keep her safe while leaving clues for York to follow her.

But who will catch up to her first—York, or the man with a vendetta?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Title: No Matter the Cost
Series: The Epic Story of York & RJ #3
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: SDG Publishing
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Genre: Romantic Suspense (Clean)

The riveting conclusion to the Epic Story of RJ and York!

Her worst nightmare has happened….

RJ refuses to believe it, and until she has proof, she’s going to keep searching for answers. And most of all, for the man she loves, even if it means diving into the past he always wanted to keep secret.

The kind of secrets that could have set York free. It’ll take a trip back to Russia, to the sketchy and dark history of York’s life to find the clues to the sinister plans of a global terrorist. And the answers that might lead her to a happy ending.

Or has it? What if her happy ending is more than a dream?

If RJ hopes to save her country—and find out the truth about York—she’ll have to become the high-action, Sydney Bristow spy that she always dreamed of being. But really, does RJ really have what it takes—with, or without the man she loves—to save the world?

And if she does…what will be the cost?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ALSO AVAILABLE

Knox Tate Ford Wyatt Ruby Jane by Susan May Warren


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan May Warren

With over 1.5 million books sold, critically acclaimed USA Today best-selling novelist Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over ninety novels with Revell, Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. Known for her compelling plots and unforgettable characters, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic-suspense, thrillers, rom-com and Christmas novellas.

Connect with Susan by visiting susanmaywarren.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a paperback set of The Epic Story of RJ and York trilogy.

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight August 2, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on August 9, 2022. US only. Items may vary from image. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Audiobook Review — Healing Skye

3 Aug

Those of you who are fans of Janet W. Ferguson‘s Coastal Hearts series are going to love Skye Youngblood’s story in Healing Skye. Okay, even if you haven’t read any of Janet’s books, if you like contemporary romance with more substance than fluff, you will want to get this book. Wonderful coastal setting, hurting but hopeful characters, and a message of redemption all make this book a recommended read!

People can’t be trusted.

Animals always made more sense than humans did to marine biologist Skye Youngblood. After her mother’s tragic death, she left Alabama and never looked back. These days, she pours her heart into protecting nature’s sea creatures. When she returns to Dauphin Island, Alabama, for a temporary manatee migration study, her dark past is much too close. She can’t let her guard down. But how can she keep her heart hidden when a kind man with a genuine smile makes her want a fresh start?

Charter fishing pays the bills for widower Pete Thompson and his little girl, but like his father, a pastor, Pete can’t help but fish for men. Only, after growing up under constant scrutiny as a preacher’s kid, Pete’s ways are a bit more unconventional. And the bulk of his life revolves around raising his precious daughter.

When he witnesses the car wreck of a new marine biologist on the island, it doesn’t take a genius to see that more than just her physical pain needs tending. Pete feels called to help Skye find true healing, but he’s navigating dangerous waters. And he’s not at all sure he’ll walk away unscathed.

Janet W. Ferguson is a Christy Award finalist and the FHL Readers Choice Award winning author of realistic inspirational fiction. An avid reader, she loved books so much she found a job as a librarian. Then she turned that love of story into writing faith-filled novels with characters who feel like best friends. You’ll laugh and cry as the quirky heroes and heroines chase their happily ever after.

Janet and her husband live in Mississippi where they say y’all a lot, and she forces him to visit the beach as often as possible. They have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

My Impressions:

Summers often call for contemporary romance reads. If the book has a beach-y vibe, all the better. Healing Skye, a standalone novel in Janet W. Ferguson’s Coastal Hearts series, fits the bill. It is set on Dauphin Island and features Skye, a manatee researcher on temporary assignment. Her introduction to the area doesn’t start so well and causes her to depend on people to get her bearings. Skye has serious trust issues, which as you discover her past, you don’t blame her! She is constantly thrown together with Pete, who is the widowed dad of a young girl. His faith is an anchor for him, and he spends his time fishing for, well, fish (he’s a charter boat captain) and for men. I really liked these two characters, along with the secondary characters that facilitate the story. As I said, trust is hard-won with Skye, and I kept rooting for Pete to get past her defenses. I also liked that Pete, and Skye’s “mother” Miss Lydia hear God’s voice and act on it. Their example goes a long way in prompting Skye to listen for His voice. The romance is sweet, but the spiritual message is this book’s strength. A tie-in to Star Rising was an added bonus. Specific to the audiobook — the narrator did an excellent job. The pacing was perfect.

If you are looking for a contemporary romance to tuck into the pool bag, Healing Skye is an excellent choice. Real and relatable characters, tough issues, and a strong spiritual message make this a novel with depth and heart.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy of the audiobook. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Oh, The Places We’re Going!

2 Aug

Happy Tuesday! Today TTT is taking bloggers to their bucket list destinations via books. I like to read books, including fiction, about the places we travel to to have a feel of the place before we arrive. Next month my husband and I and two friends are traveling to England and Scotland. This is the trip we have put off for 3+ years. We will be traveling by trains, planes, and automobiles and will be staying in different hotels almost every night. This is a very mobile vacay! We have all been to London, our first stop, so we will be doing some fun things that we haven’t done before. Then on to Edinburgh and the Shetland Islands. My husband is especially excited about our days in Shetland. I want to see the ponies. 😉 My list today includes books I have already read that are set in our destinations, along with a couple that I need to work in before we leave.

Where are you traveling in books?

For more bloggers’ bucket lists, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books Set in London, Edinburg, and the Shetland Islands

London

The Barrister And The Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter–the sole proof his actions were legal–has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

The London House by Katherine Reay

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian, but Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

The secrets that might save a nation could shatter a marriage.

Madly in love, Diana Foyle and Brent Somerville married in London as the bombs of World War II dropped on their beloved city. Without time for a honeymoon, the couple spent the next four years apart. Diana, an architectural historian, took a top-secret intelligence post at Bletchley Park. Brent, a professor of theology at King’s College, believed his wife was working for the Foreign Office as a translator when he was injured in an attack on the European front.

Now that the war is over, the Somervilles’ long-anticipated reunion is strained by everything they cannot speak of. Diana’s extensive knowledge of London’s churches could help bring down a Russian agent named Eternity. She’s eager to help MI6 thwart Communist efforts to start a new war, but because of the Official Secrets Act, Diana can’t tell Brent the truth about her work.

Determined to save their marriage and rebuild the city they call home, Diana and Brent’s love is put to the ultimate test as they navigate the rubble of war and the ruins of broken trust.

Edinburgh

Benefit of The Doubt by Les Cowan (need to read)

It was a warning. Back off. Stop helping the addicts. 
Stop undercutting demand. He had believed they would be protected. But they took her – the girl in the raspberry beret – and by the time they were done he was broken.

So David Hidalgo flees Spain for his native Edinburgh. Now he must work out how to live again and lead others when his faith has been ripped away and all that’s left is doubt.

In Edinburgh David finds friendship, disturbing and unlooked for romance, and respite from the pain. That is, until a young girl is abducted and it becomes clear that it’s not so easy to leave the past, or danger, behind.

David knows he must set aside his doubts and act. But what will the cost be this time?

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.
 
Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auldways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips. 

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown. 

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Within The Veil by Brandy Vallance

They never should have met. But they might be made for each other.

Feya Broon, a Scottish half Gypsy, knows what it is to go hungry. Trapped in the Edinburgh tenements with a father lost to his past and only the faded memory of her mother’s faith, Feya is desperate to provide for her siblings. When an ill-conceived plan leads to thievery, she finds herself in the last place she’d ever want to be—captured by a palace guard. But there’s something about this man that tears at every preconceived notion she’s even had about the haughty English. 

Alasdair Cairncross never dreamed he’d be forced to transport a gypsy woman halfway across the wilds of Scotland. The timing is disastrous, considering his fiancée’s imminent arrival and his father’s political goals. Not only that, but the fiery young woman threatens to lay bare secrets Alasdair would rather keep hidden. And yet the farther they travel together, the less concerned he finds himself with duty—both to the crown and to the plans his family has for him.

As their walls begin to crumble, Feya and Alasdair must fight to survive a decades-old feud, a Highland kidnapping, and the awakening of their own hearts. 

Shetland Islands

The Inheritance (Secrets of The Shetlands, book 1) by Michael Phillips

The death of the clan patriarch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed MacGregor Tulloch’s heir to be his grand-nephew David, a local favorite, but when it is discovered that MacGregor left no will, David’s grasping cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island’s land. And while Hardy doesn’t enjoy much popular support, he has the backing of a shadowy group of North Sea oil investors. The courts have frozen the estate’s assets while the competing claims are investigated, leaving many of the residents in financial limbo. The future of the island–and its traditional way of life–hangs in the balance.

Loni Ford is enjoying her rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, DC. Yet in spite of her outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her paternal grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Phillips’s dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace, and of the dreams of men and women everywhere.

The Cottage (book 2) (need to read)

When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that “the Cottage” is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.

The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman–and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place–and the character of its most prominent citizen–that soon gets under her skin. 

Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whales Reef. David’s cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni’s hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni’s very life in danger.

The Legacy (book 3) (need to read)

Loni Ford’s unexpected inheritance of substantial real estate–not to mention a title–in the Shetland Islands has caused more than a stir in the quiet fishing hamlet of Whales Reef. How is life ever to be the same with an outsider–and a woman, at that–playing such a pivotal role in the life of this conservative community? But it isn’t just the locals who have deep misgivings about the current situation. Loni herself never imagined this in her wildest dreams. 

What Loni is more sure of, however, is that she is falling in love–with Whales Reef, with its hardy people, with its simple, peaceful way of life, and with local chieftain David Tulloch, whose inheritance she has usurped, at least in the eyes of some. 

But life in Whales Reef is not without drama. Deep rifts exist between certain lifelong residents, and when one local resident turns up dead, suspicion is cast in the direction of the island’s most prominent family. How Loni and David deal with this challenge will go a long way in determining their future, and that of the quaint island community.

Book Club Pick — Bookshop by The Sea

1 Aug

This month’s book club selection is Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter. A good choice for an end of summer read, this romance novel features a beach setting with a storm looming on the horizon. Is that an actual hurricane or the tumultuous relationship between the main characters? 😉 If you have read this book, we’d love to know what you thought of it.

Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than forty novels, three of which have been adapted into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 Club and been featured in Southern Living and Woman’s World.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories, peopled with layered characters who have real-life issues. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books. 

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling, drinking chai lattes, hiking, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband raised three boys and are currently enjoying an empty nest and two beautiful granddaughters. 

You can learn more about Denise through her website http://www.DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/authordenisehunter.

First Line Friday — Bookshop By The Sea

29 Jul

Happy Friday! Today I am heading to the my mountain cottage for a little cleaning and some R&R — reading and relaxation! I am taking Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter with me. It is this month’s book club pick. The beach-y setting is different from my woodsy mountain views, but I am sure I will get swept up in the story!

Here’s the first line:

Eleven months had not been long enough to prepare Sophie Lawson for the sight of him.

Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?