First Line Friday — The Debutante’s Code

3 Dec

This weekend I have a historical mystery on the agenda. The Debutante’s Code is a Regency-era novel by Erica Vetsch. I look forward to some great reading. What are you reading this weekend?

Here’s the first line:

“If you lean out any farther, you’ll wind up in the drink.”

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series

Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn’t spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They’ve been living double lives as government spies–and they’re only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family’s legacy.

Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spy craft. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors–not to mention nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner Daniel Swann, who suspects her of a daring theft.

Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents’ last mission? Or will it lead her to a terrible end?

Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance. 

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

December Book Club Pick — Last Christmas in Paris

2 Dec

My book club usually reads a Christmas novella in December, but we wanted a little more meat, if you know what I mean. This year we chose Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Web. Told through letters and set during WWI, this could be a challenging book for the busy holiday season. I listened to the audiobook, which had multiple narrators, and it was fantastic! I’m looking forward to discussing the novel early next week. Won’t you read it with us? Here’s the link to our FB group. All the other details below.

An unforgettably romantic novel that spans four Christmases (1914-1918), Last Christmas in Paris explores the ruins of war, the strength of love, and the enduring hope of the Christmas season.

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently… 

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today, Irish Times, and international bestselling author. Her 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award, A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was a 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards, and THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown Award. LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (co-written with Heather Webb) won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award, and their latest collaboration, MEET ME IN MONACO, was shortlisted for the 2020 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Hazel’s most recent novel, THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE, set in China during WW2, is out now.

Hazel was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015 and her work has been translated into fourteen languages and published in twenty countries to date. She is co-founder of creative writing events The Inspiration Project, and lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was a Goodread’s Top Pick, and in 2018, Last Christmas in Paris won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. In 2019, Meet Me in Monaco was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Goldsboro RNA award in the UK, as well as the Digital Book World’s Fiction prize. To date, Heather’s books have been translated to fifteen languages. Up and coming, her next solo novel, THE NEXT SHIP HOME, is inspired by true events and reveals the dark secrets of Ellis Island as two unlikely friends challenge a corrupt system, altering their fate and the lives of the immigrants that come after them, out in Feb 2022. 

If You Liked . . . Tidewater Bride

2 Dec

November’s book club selection, Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz, had mixed reactions from my book club members. Most really liked it (two felt it moved too slow). I loved the early colonial America setting of the novel which also appealed to others of my group. There were interesting historical elements we were not familiar with. The novel explores the Tobacco Brides, relations with Native Americans, and the advent of slavery. If you liked it too, I have a few more reading recommendations.

The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep

Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.  Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort — but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.   Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy — exile to the Colony of North Carolina — he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves — and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.

Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she’s doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a “minder” on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Macy, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary’s journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe’s shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way — just in time. 

Book Review: Murder, Forgotten

1 Dec

I love a good mystery, one I can lose myself in as I puzzle along with the main character. I found exactly this in Murder, Forgotten by Deb Richardson-Moore. I really liked this one — recommended!

Julianna Burke, bestselling mystery novelist, has a secret that those closest to her are hiding from the world. Julianna is losing her memory, and with it her powerful gift for storytelling that propelled her to fame. 

A further devastating blow comes when Connor, Julianna’s beloved husband, is murdered. Even this is not something Julianna’s mind can hold on to, and every day her assistant has to break the heart-wrenching news all over again. 

Julianna is desperate to know what happened to her husband. As she battles her failing mind to investigate, a detail of the murder surfaces that makes Julianna question everything she’s ever known. Somehow she must fight to find the truth, even though her grip on reality is fading . . .

Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for The Greenville (SC) News for 27 years before earning a Master of Divinity degree and becoming pastor of the Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church with outreach to Greenville’s homeless population.

Her first book, The Weight of Mercy, chronicled her first three turbulent years among her homeless congregants.
When her publisher (Lion Hudson LLC in England) asked for a second book, Deb pivoted to fiction and wrote a murder mystery that has a homeless encampment as a backdrop. The Cantaloupe Thief is a puzzling whodunit that explores what happens when an entire group of people is unseen, unheard, unrecognized.

Deb is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Erskine Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Vince, have three grown children, and live in Greenville, SC.

My Impressions:

Murder, Forgotten is a complex murder mystery featuring a best-selling murder mystery author. The premise is great — can or would a mystery author murder someone and get away with it? Or even remember it — Juliana is suffering from some form of dementia. Most of the story is told from the author’s daughter’s POV and has all the second-guessing and mixed feelings you would expect. I had my suspicions from the start, but this book has so many twists and unexpected turns that they often got thrown out the window. The cast of characters are well-developed, you just don’t know whom to trust! 😉 Besides the puzzling mystery, Murder, Forgotten has a wonderful setting — actually two wonderful settings. The rugged coast of Scotland has a short-lived presence, but it made me want to jump on a plane! The warmer beach house setting makes up the bulk of the book and is a powerful presence as it represents the family dynamics.

Murder, Forgotten was all I could hope for in a murder mystery. It’s a great choice for a long weekend read.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Top 10 Tuesday — 2022 Book Club Selections

30 Nov

This week’s TTT is bookish memories. Again, I wasn’t feeling the prompt, so I am looking ahead instead of back with a post listing what my book club will be reading in the new year. 😉 While we read every month, as a group we choose only 9 titles — they let me surprise them with 3 more throughout the year. I hope you like our list. What will you be reading in 2022?

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books on my Book Club’s 2022 List

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin

Breach of Honor by Janice Cantore

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Lady’s Mine by Francine Rivers

Life Flight by Lynette Eason

Relative Justice by Robert Whitlow

A Stranger’s Game by Colleen Coble

Sunrise by Susan May Warren

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Book Review: Crosshairs

29 Nov

As someone who married a Mississippi boy, I always love to read books set in his home state. (I lived there for 7 years as well.) Crosshairs, the third book in Patricia Bradley‘s Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, takes the reader back for more murder. 😉 I think this is my favorite so far in the series. Recommended.

Investigative Services Branch (ISB) ranger Ainsley Beaumont arrives in her hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, to investigate the murder of a three-month-pregnant teenager. While she wishes the visit was under better circumstances, she never imagined that she would become the killer’s next target–nor that she’d have to work alongside an old flame.

After he almost killed a child, former FBI sniper Lincoln Steele couldn’t bring himself to fire a gun, which had deadly and unforeseen consequences for his best friend. Crushed beneath a load of guilt, Linc is working at Melrose Estate as an interpretive ranger. But as danger closes in on Ainsley during her murder investigation, Linc will have to find the courage to protect her. The only question is, will it be too little, too late?

Winner of an Inspirational Readers Choice Award, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and is a former abstinence educator and co-author of RISE To Your Dreams, an abstinence curriculum.

But her heart is tuned to suspense. Patricia’s romantic suspense books include the Logan Point series set in Mississippi and two sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, Matthew’s Choice and The Christmas Campaign that are available on Amazon.

When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.

My Impressions:

I love suspense, and reading a novel with a familiar setting is a big bonus in my book. Crosshairs by Partrica Bradley is set along the Natchez Trace near the city of Natchez. I have visited there, and have traveled the Trace a number of times, so her book vividly brought back the area for me. What I didn’t experience in the past was the murder and mayhem found in this book. LOL! But I liked it too! There are a number of mysteries that face main characters Ainsley Beaumont, an agent with the Investigative Services Branch of the US Parks Service and former FBI sniper turned interpretative park ranger, Lincoln Steele. The two have major history, but decide to be civil as they investigate and dodge bullets! Chemistry is there from the start, so fans of romantic suspense will be pleased. The reader is given a bit more information on the bad guy(s) before the two main characters, but they are up to the challenge of discovering whodunit. There are a lot of twists that they and I did not see coming — Bradley keeps her characters and readers on their toes. 😉 The two main characters have experienced varying degrees of trauma and disappointment that have impacted their present situations. Their faith journeys are depicted in a natural way that readers can identify with.

The third novel in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, Crosshairs is my favorite. I can’t wait for the last book in the series due out next year.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Unknown Threat

24 Nov

Unknown Threat is book 1 in Lynn Blackburn‘s romantic suspense series, Defend And Protect. It’s a puzzler, as members of the US Secret Service are targeted by a killer. It’s a great start for the series. Recommended! Find out all the details below.

US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He’s an expert at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she’s assigned. She’s been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke’s life in danger, the stakes have never been higher. But it’s hard to know how to fight back when you don’t know who the enemy is.

As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she’s a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she’s sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicked off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series. 

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after by signing up for her newsletter at LynnHBlackburn.com and @LynnHBlackburn on Bookbub, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

My Impressions:

Lynn H. Blackburn’s novel Unknown Threat starts out with a bang! Literally. The reader is immediately grabbed with this twisting romantic suspense that features the Secret Service and the FBI. Not known for working well together — interagency rivalry, you know — the two law enforcement agencies are forced to cooperate as Secret Service agents are murdered. The case is puzzling, because the methods are so different, but FBI agent in charge, Faith Malone, is dogged in her working of the case. And Secret Service agents won’t remain on the sidelines when their fellow agents are targeted. SA Luke Powell and Faith are thrown together to identify who is responsible. The romance between the two main characters is new, no past bad blood, and I liked that. That’s not to say that their relationship didn’t sizzle. LOL! The investigation is a puzzler, and the two are kept on alert as more threats and dangers emerge. I found the case intriguing and was kept guessing as to just whodunit. Blackburn’s novels are faith-filled, but never preachy. The reader gets real and relatable people and their struggles. And for fans of Blackburn’s previous books, a couple of favorite characters make cameo appearances.

If you are looking for a fast-paced suspense with a good dose of romance, then I recommend Unknown Threat.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankful for Family

23 Nov

Last Thanksgiving I had the pleasure and blessing of having all of my immediate family together. This year, due to law school exams, conferences, and other family obligations we will not be all together on the same day. But . . . we have already had one small gathering and will be headed to another on Turkey Day. And FaceTime is a winner! I’ll be able to see my granddaughter though we are separated by a lot of miles. These thoughts led me to a Thankful for Family TTT post. No, it’s not the theme for today, but I wanted to do it anyway. LOL! So today my list is all about families. Whatever your favorite genre, I have a book(s) for you!

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Series Featuring Families

Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey — Romantic Suspense

Bucklin Family Reunion series by Debby Mayne — Southern/Chick Lit

Chicory Inn series by Deborah Raney — Family Drama

Cousins of The Dove series by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould — Time Split

Bradford Sisters Romance series by Becky Wade — Romance

Book Review: Deadly Target

22 Nov

Deadly Target is book 2 in Elizabeth Goddard’s Rocky Mountain Courage series. If you like romantic suspense, then you are in for a treat with this novel. This action-packed book will have you furiously turning the pages. Find out all the details below.

Criminal psychologist Erin Larson’s dreams of a successful career come to a screeching halt when she nearly loses her own life in a boating accident on Puget Sound and then learns that her mother tried to commit suicide. She leaves her job as a criminal psychologist to care for her mother in Montana. At least she is able to produce her podcast, which focuses on solving missing persons cold cases.  

Nathan Campbell’s father was investigating such a case when he was shot, and now Nathan needs to enlist Erin’s help to solve the case. She’s good at what she does. The only problem? She’s his ex.  

As the two dig deeper, it becomes clear that they, too, are being targeted – and that the answers to their questions are buried deep within the past Erin struggles to explain and longs to forget.  

With over one million books sold, Elizabeth Goddard is the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling, award-winning author of over fifty romance novels and counting. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time.

To get book news sign up for her newsletter at her website:http://elizabethgoddard.com

Follow her on Bookbubhttps://www.bookbub.com/authors/elizabeth-goddard

You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebookhttp://facebook.com/elizabethgoddardauthor

or Twitterhttp://twitter.com/bethgoddard

My Impressions:

Mystery/suspense is my favorite genre, and Deadly Target checks all the boxes for a page turner: a cold case turned hot, danger around every corner, and a never-saw-it-coming ending. Elizabeth Goddard returns again to Montana in her Rocky Mountain Courage series, although the characters travel far afield to solve the case. I liked the variety of settings, each unique and interesting. Main characters Erin and Nathan have a history that each tries to subdue as they focus on the investigation into the shooting of Nathan’s father, but the sparks reignite regardless. Fans of romance will like the sizzle between the two. There are several mysteries to solve, and I liked how Goddard weaves the threads together. There’s a lot of action right from the start, and this reader was kept on her toes. I was kept guessing until the end. The faith of the two main characters and other supporting characters came off as natural — doubts and trust along the way — a lot like real life.

Although part of a series, Deadly Target can be read as a standalone, but I always like starting at the beginning. 😉 Consider getting both books in the series for great binge-reading.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

19 Nov

Happy Friday! What are your Thanksgiving plans? We will have a small immediate family get together this weekend before we head out for a road trip. We will have some traditional fixings, although in a simple form, and I am having someone else cook the bird! 🙂 So that will leave me some good available reading time. 😉 Today I am sharing a book that I will be reading in the new year, Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson. Do you have any books you are looking forward to reading in 2022?

Here are the first 2 lines:

Shirley Davenport was a breath away from dying.

Of boredom.

The Safety of the First Lady Rests in Shirley’s Hands

Shirley Davenport is as much a patriot as her four brothers. She, too, wants to aid her country in the war efforts, but opportunities for women are limited. When her best friend Joan informs her that the Coast Guard has opened a new branch for single women, they both enlist in the SPARs, ready to help protect the home front.

Training is rigorous, and Shirley is disappointed that she and Joan are sent to separate training camps. At the end of basic training, Captain Webber commends her efforts and commissions her home to Maine under the ruse of a dishonorable discharge to help uncover a plot against the First Lady.

Shirley soon discovers nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust? Why do the people she loves want to harm the First Lady? With the help of Captain Webber, it’s a race against time to save Mrs. Roosevelt and remain alive.

Candice Sue Patterson studied at The Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood or decorating cakes, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance–where the past and present collide with faith. For more on Candice and her books, visit http://www.candicesuepatterson.com.