Tag Archives: romance fiction

2021 Carol Award Winners!

11 Sep

Congratulations to the talented authors who are this year’s winners of the ACFW Carol Award. I hope your TBR wishlist just got longer! 😉

2021 Carol Award Winners

Contemporary

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editor: L. B. Norton

Historical

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Dave Horton and Rochelle Gloege

Historical Romance

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Raela Schoenherr and Jennifer Veilleux

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Dead End by Nancy Mehl; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Raela Schoenherr and Jean Bloom

Novella

Far as the Curse is Found (from The Joy to the World Collection) by Amanda Barratt; Kregel Publications; Editors: Janyre Tromp and Dori De Vries Harrell

Romance

Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editor: Raela Schoenherr

Romantic Suspense

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davison; ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published); Editors: Ines Jimenez and Deb Elkink

Short Novel

The Christmas Bargain by Lisa Carter; Love Inspired (Harlequin); Editor: Melissa Endlich

Speculative

Stealing Embers by Julie Hall; ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published); Editors: Rebecca Heyman and Janelle Leonard

Young Adult

Mortal Sight by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads; Enclave Publishing; Editors: Steve Laube and Lisa Laube

Debut Author

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Dave Horton and Rochelle Gloege

First Line Friday — The Lady in Residence

13 Aug

Happy Friday! Today I am featuring a book I read several months ago. If you are looking for mystery, history, and a bit of a chilling thrill, check out The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman. Part of the Doors to The Past series from Barbour, its dual timeline connects in an unputdownable manner.

Here’s the first line —

The tour ended where it began — in the courtyard of the Alamo, the fortress bathed in white light, flags snapping in the night sky.

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a four-time Christy finalist — twice for her Sister Wife series, once for All for A Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties and most recently for the critically acclaimed The Seamstresswhich takes a cameo character from the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and flourishes her to life amidst the French Revolution. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike.

Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

2021 Carol Award Finalists

29 Jun

Congratulations to all the wonderful authors who are finalists in the 2021 Carol Awards presented by the ACFW. Now you know what to read this summer! 😉

Contemporary

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh

On a Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Historical

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

In High Cotton by Ane Mulligan

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas


Historical Romance

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette

The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund


Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Dead End by Nancy Mehl

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks

A Baby’s Right to Choose by David L. Winters


Novella

Far as the Curse is Found, from the collection Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection
by Amanda Barratt

Christmas in Galway, in the collection Christmas Lights and Romance by Elizabeth Ludwig

A New Hope for Christmas by Erin Stevenson


Romance

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon

Carolina Breeze by Denise Hunter


Romantic Suspense

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davison

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon

Airborne by DiAnn Mills


Short Novel

The Christmas Bargain by Lisa Carter

Killer Insight by Virginia Vaughan

Texas Holiday Hideout by Virginia Vaughan


Speculative

Cry of the Raven (Book 3, The Ravenwood Saga) by Morgan L. Busse

Stealing Embers by Julie Hall

The Vault Between Spaces by Chawna Schroeder

Young Adult

Victoria Grace the Jerkface by S.E. Clancy

The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin

Mortal Sight by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads


Debut

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey

Mortal Sight by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads


Book Review: On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor

14 Jun

I always love a Jaime Jo Wright novel — the interwoven story lines of past and present, the shiver-y elements, and the twisting paths she takes a reader on. On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor have all these elements plus engaging characters and spiritual themes that make you think. I think this book is my favorite! Highly recommended!

1885. 
Adria Fontaine has been sent to recover goods her father pirated on the Great Lakes during the war. But when she arrives at Foxglove Manor — a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior — Adria senses wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life. 

Present day. 
Kailey Gibson is a new nurse’s aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Kidnapped as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling promise from her abductors that they would return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. She’ll have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons, including her own.

Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.

My Impressions:

I know that I will get a page-turning read when I open the pages of a Jaime Jo Wright novel. On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor was that and more. I was impressed at how she sucked me into both storylines, making me read more furiously with each page. This atmospheric book is what some term a time slip — two interwoven stories with their own protagonists and plot, yet dependent upon each other to tell a whole story. Both in the story set in the 1880s and the one set in present day there figures Foxglove Manor, a place that seems to be its own character. Hiding secrets of pirates and lost treasure, the house sits on the cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, its grounds remote and its facade unwelcoming. Both main characters Adria and Kailey come to the house seeking release. I loved both women and the inner courage they draw from. The two must find the secrets Foxglove Manor hides in order to gain their freedom. Ghostly appearances, threats from unknown assailants, and misdirection abound. I was thoroughly delighted by the surprises Wright includes in the twisting plot. There’s fun history about the lake and its role in the Civil War, not one, but two delicious romances, and plenty of suspense to keep you awake long past your bedtime. 😉 While there are deep spiritual themes that are addressed, I never felt preached at, just prompted to think about the fragility and preciousness of life. And while this novel should be savored, I finished it in record time. So I suggest you slow down and enjoy! I was a little let down when I finally closed the book — I needed more time with Adria and Mr. Crane and Kailey and Axel, and even the mysterious Foxglove Manor!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Genre: mystery/suspense/timeslip

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

First Line Friday — On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor

4 Jun

Happy Friday! I am ready for another great weekend read. How about you? I’m headed to our mountain cabin and taking along On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright. I’ve already started this novel and know I’m in for a shivery good time!

Here’s the first line:

He had ruined death for her, and the hope of it.

1885

Adria Fontaine has been sent to recover goods her father pirated on the Great Lakes during the war. But when she arrives at Foxglove Manor–a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior–Adria senses wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life. 

Present day. 

Kailey Gibson is a new nurse’s aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Kidnapped as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling promise from her abductors that they would return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. She’ll have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons, including her own.

Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.

First Line Friday — Hope Between The Pages

9 Apr

Happy Friday! Today I am heading up to our cabin for a week — a wedding week! My daughter is getting married in 8 days!!! I may not be around the old blog for a while, but I wanted to share a great book for this week’s First Line Friday. Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham is part of the Doors to The Past series. This dual timeline novel set in Asheville, North Carolina begins with a first line to intrigue any book lover.

And here it is:

Any story that begins with a library is bound to be an excellent tale.

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with a southern Appalachian flair. Her books have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inpsys, and the ACFW Carol Awards, with The Thorn Healer selected as a 2018 finalist in the RT awards. Her books are seasoned with her Appalachian heritage and love for family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can get to know Pepper on her website, http://www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

For more First Line fun, check out Hoarding Books.

Audiobook Mini-Review — The Christmas Heirloom

19 Dec

December always finds me trying to stick with my fitness goals. Walking everyday is one of the ways I de-stress and keep moving. A Christmas novella in audiobook form goes a long way in keeping me on track. I listened to The Christmas Heirloom, a 4-novella collection, a few weeks ago. It was great! Here’s more about the book.

 

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s Legacy of Love, Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s Gift of the Heart, widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s Because of You, Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

 

My Impressions:

The Christmas Heirloom features a unique brooch handed down from one generation to another. Its symbolic promise of true love permeates all of the stories. Four women, separated by place and time, all find the love they are looking for — the love of a husband and the love of God. I really liked the way each story was unique and the message presented in different ways. The 4 novellas take place in Regency England, Texas following the Civil War, West Virginia in the 1950s, and modern-day Washington State. Having different authors for the stories allows each main character to have a clear and distinct voice. I really did love all the novellas, but my favorites were A Shot at Love and Because of You. Vastly different in time, place, and characters, those two resonated with me the most. The audiobook has 4 narrators — another way the characters came to life as individuals.

The Christmas Heirloom is a great addition to Christmas reading. Each novella is short enough to finish in 1-2 days, depending on how far along you are in your Christmas planning. 😉 If you start now, you can have it finished on Christmas Eve! A great way to gift yourself. 🙂

Recommended.

Audience: adults

(I borrowed the audiobook from my library. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Spotlight — The Confident Hope

17 Dec

About The Book

Book: The Confident Hope

Author: E.C. Jackson

Genre: Inspirational Romance

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Is there hope for this love between friends?

Pamela Hayes is a smart, successful business owner with a supportive family and a thriving bakery. She should be the happiest girl in the world. But she can’t shake the melancholy that accompanies every conversation she has with her best friend, Mark. Pamela doesn’t know how much longer she can hide her true feelings.

Why can’t Mark see how perfect they would be together? She would make a much better girlfriend than the one he currently has. Pamela prays he’ll come to his senses soon and realize he’s with the wrong girl. But when her dream comes true, it isn’t the fantasy she had envisioned.

There is trouble in paradise from the start, and all the red flags she’s been ignoring are starting to threaten her confidence…and her relationship with Mark. She’ll have to rely on family and her faith in God to help her secure the hope she so desperately needs.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About The Author

E.C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. For three and a half years she published the Confidence in Life newsletter for Alpha Production Ministries, in addition to writing tracts and devotionals. Teaching a women’s Bible study at her church for eleven years naturally led to her current endeavor of writing inspirational romance novels and teen and young adult fiction. Her mission: spiritual maturity in the body of Christ through fiction.

“The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life” is the slogan on my website and Facebook author page. If every person reading my book feels connected to the characters, my job is done.

 

More from E.C. Jackson

When I started writing The Confident Hope, I had an idea of the general story and little else. The only thing concrete was the book’s title and the main characters’ names. Which isn’t surprising. I develop my storylines by letting the characters take me where they will.

As I stared at the computer monitor, I suddenly knew how to begin. Once I had that idea, the first chapter came into focus; then, once again, the words trickled onto the page.

I then had to answer the questions that would direct the story. “Who are Pam and Mark?” and “Why is their story important to tell?” Unfortunately, Pam’s and Mark’s lives mimic what happens to us all. Our hopes and dreams either live or die. Each decision the characters made highlighted who they are and how they chose to handle their seeming successes and defeats.

They could rejoice over obvious successes. Become prideful. Or fail to recognize those blessings. The couple could thank God that some of their aspirations failed. Or pray that the ones they self-fulfilled wouldn’t bankrupt their lives.

Writing about Pam and Mark matured me in numerous avenues. That is what I most treasured about these beloved characters. Viewing their lives added substance to my own during the two years I worked on their story.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.” 

That scripture fed my heart through each trial I faced when penning my fourth book of the standalone hope series. Writing about these cherished characters increased my faith in God’s victorious hand.

 

Blog Stops

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 5

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 7

For Him and My Family, December 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 10

Inklings and notions, December 11

Captive Dreams Window, December 11

deb’s Book Review, December 12

Artistic Nobody, December 13 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 15

Simple Harvest Reads, December 16 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

By The Book, December 17 (Author Interview)

Holly Jo Morris, December 17

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, E.C. 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/10457/the-confident-hope-celebration-tour-giveaway

If You Liked . . . The Christmas Table

16 Dec

I normally do the If You Liked posts at the end of each month, but you really need these recommendations early. You don’t want to miss out on some great Christmas-y reading! The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere had laugh-out-loud moments and some tear-inducing scenes. The book features an heirloom table and some special family recipes and includes great messages of hope and the power of prayer. This novella is my favorite so far by VanLiere. I have selected the following books that have similar themes and elements. I hope you find one to love!

 

Another Favorite from Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise

Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely. Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died. Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need. Whether it’s a young mother who can’t pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way.

Miriam is a thorn in Gloria’s side. Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it’s the ultimate test of patience and faith.

Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson’s Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he’s made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.

In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much. In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.

 

Family Heirloom

The Christmas Heirloom (4-novella collection) by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade.

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s Legacy of Love, Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s Gift of the Heart, widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s Because of You, Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

 

Funny and Poignant

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix — in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride — and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!

 

Importance of Family

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is reluctant. He’s never liked Art, despite the fact his own father abandoned them when Rick was twelve. Rick’s attitude sours even more when a couple of days helping at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keeps hanging about,

Slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons — as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day — work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Christmas Books

8 Dec

Happy Tuesday! The countdown is on until Christmas. Have you gotten all your decorating and shopping done? I still need to do some things around the house, but my shopping list has grown shorter. But one thing I have made sure to do is get some Christmas reading in. Priorities! 😉 So far, I have read The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere (reading her novellas is a yearly tradition) and I should be finished with The Christmas Heirloom novella collection today (really great; review to come). Because Christmas books often fall into the romance genre (who doesn’t like a good romance?), I have decided to split my Top 10 Tuesday list into 7 genres for those who want a bit of mystery, or history, or a good laugh too. I think there’s something for everyone on my list. I hope you find a Christmas book to love — now get reading!  Be sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl for more Christmas fun!

 

Top Christmas Books

 

An Amish Christmas

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall 

 

A Classic Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

 

An Historical Christmas

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins 

 

 

A Laugh-Out-Loud Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

 

A Mysterious Christmas

All Is Calm, All Is Bright by Colleen Coble

Silent Night, Holy Night by Colleen Coble

 

A Poignant Christmas

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

 

 

A Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Wedding Dress Christmas by Rachel Hauck