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Reading Road Trips — Cruising The Atlantic Beaches

10 Jul

I grew up 40 minutes away from the white sand beaches of Florida. I spent a lot of hours playing in the surf, baking in the sun, enjoying the sounds of the waves and seabirds and the smell/taste of hot French fries from concession stands. Those days of driving the beaches and walking the dunes are gone (conservation, you know), but I will never forget the great memories of sunny, carefree days. This week I am featuring books set among some of the beach communities along the Atlantic seaboard. It certainly is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started on a beach-y getaway. Some of the books on my list are set in real places, others are imagined, but representative of what you will find along the coast. I hope you will find one to love!

 

Cruising The Atlantic Beaches with A Good Book

Florida

The Discovery by Dan WalshGerard

Warner was not only a literary giant whose suspense novels sold in the millions, he was also a man devoted to his family, especially his wife of nearly 60 years. When he dies he leaves his Charleston estate to his grandson, Michael, an aspiring writer himself. Michael settles in to write his own first novel and discovers an unpublished manuscript his grandfather had written, something he’d kept hidden from everyone but clearly intended Michael to find. Michael begins to read an exciting tale about Nazi spies and sabotage, but something about this story is different from all of Gerard Warner’s other books. It’s actually a love story. As Michael delves deeper into the story he discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

Georgia

As The Tide Comes In by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott’s life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia’s St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past – her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what’s left of her identity into pieces?

Cape Refuge (book one of a series) by Terri Blackstock

When the kindest couple in Cape Refuge is found murdered at their church, their daughter will have to find the killer . . . before her own husband is convicted.

Wade and Thelma Owens run a halfway house on the small island of Cape Refuge that caters to wayward souls just out of prison. So when Wade and Thelma turn up brutally murdered, the town goes into shock, concerned that one of the Hanover House residents is a murderer who could strike again.

Shattered by her parents’ deaths, Morgan Cleary struggles to keep Hanover House running while her husband, Jonathan, has been arrested for the murder.

As the killer runs free, a lethal race against time ensues, with far more than the halfway house at stake.

To Have And To Hold (book one of a series) by Judith Miller and Tracie Peterson

When Audrey Cunningham’s father proposes that they move to Bridal Veil Island, where he grew up, she agrees, thinking this will help keep him sober and close to God. But they arrive to find wealthy investors buying up land to build a grand resort on the secluded island–and they want the Cunninghams’ acreage.

Contractor Marshall Graham can’t imagine why the former drinking buddy of his deceased father would beckon him to Bridal Veil Island. And when Boyd Cunningham asks him to watch over Audrey, Marshall is even more confused. He has no desire to be saddled with caring for this fiery young woman who is openly hostile toward him. But when Audrey seems to be falling for another man–one who has two little girls Audrey adores–Marshall realizes she holds more of his heart than he realized. Which man will Audrey choose? And can she hold on to her ancestral property in the face of overwhelming odds?

South Carolina

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan: avoid her own past — despite being wait-listed for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests — and her dispassionate mother insists — that she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness — especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt.

When a family reunion reveals Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her — and Edisto — from more desolation. Will Cora Anne choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace?

The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart

Welcome to Jasper, South Carolina. A place where Southern hospitality thrives. Where social occasions are done right. And where, for generations, the four most upstanding ladies of this community ensure that the daughters of Jasper are married in the proper manner.

Friends from school days, “the gals” have long pooled their silver, china, and know-how to pull off beautiful events. They’re a force of nature, a well-oiled machine. But the wedding machine’s gears start to stick during the summer their own daughters line up to tie the knot. In the lowcountry heat and humidity, tempers flare, old secrets leak out . . . and both love and gardenias bloom in unlikely places.

North Carolina

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon–and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.

Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God’s presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

A wounded veteran and the police chief’s daughter must work together to bring a killer to justice

Caden Wallis lost friends, his girlfriend, and even his leg to the ravages of war. He arrives on the Outer Banks broken and still reeling, struggling to make peace with his new life.

McKenna Dockery has been stuck in limbo since her fiancé died three years ago. Now, when the handsome yet heartbroken Caden arrives at her doorstep, she starts to wonder if there may be hope for her heart after all . . .

But no sooner do they meet than a man is found murdered on McKenna’s property–and Caden is the prime suspect. The two must learn to trust each other, or no one will be safe in the tangled web of conspiracy, greed, and deceit lurking in the tidal marshlands of the Outer Banks.

Maryland

Deadly Isle by Dani Pettrey

 

Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on revenge before they become the next victims?

 

 

 

Massachusetts

Phoebe’s Light (book one of a series) 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 Mitchell, 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.

Maine

A Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

When Wendy Harper inherits her family’s beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in — temporarily, she reminds him–in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sometimes love hurts — and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island — a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals — and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

With On a Summer Tide, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a brand-new contemporary romance series that is sure to delight her fans and draw new ones.

Reading Road Trip — Gulf Coast Ramblings

26 Jun

For a while my summer vacations were confined to the Gulf Coast. In college we went to a beach house in Orange Beach, Alabama. Then when I first married we moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Our children grew up going to Destin, Gulf Shores, and Perdido Key. We have expanded our vacation horizons in the past few years, but the Gulf Coast still offers fond memories. I thought it would be fun to feature some books set along the almost 1700 miles that the coast line spans. While some of the towns included are not technically on the coast (New Orleans, for example), they are a huge part of the flavor of the area. I have included a number of genres — cozy mystery, historical romance, women’s fiction, and contemporary romance — so you are bound to find one you will love. So even if your summer plans only include a visit to your backyard, here are some choices for a virtual Gulf Coast Ramble.

 

Galveston, Texas

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her huge Greek family — especially her father — has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant location on the Strand–directly across the street from the Rossis’ popular pizza place–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into Bella’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

New Orleans, Louisiana

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

Vancleve, Mississippi

Fair Game by Elizabeth White

“Nothing worth having is easy to get . . .

Ana Cutrere’s homecoming to Vancleave, Mississippi, is anything but dull. Before she’s even reached town, the beautiful young widow has a run-in with a stray cow, loses her son in the woods, rescues an injured fawn, and comes face-to-face with Grant Gonzales, her high school crush. Grant recently returned to town himself amid hushed controversy. His only plan: leave the corporate world behind and open a hunting reserve. Seeing Jana again ignites old memories . . . and a painful past.Tensions boil over when he learns exactly why she returned. Jana plans to convince her grandfather to develop a wildlife rescue center — dead center on the prime hunting property he promised to sell to Grant! Jana is determined to make a new start for herself and her two children — and willing to fight for it. With deadlines drawing near for the sale of the property and no decision from her grandfather, can Jana trust God with her and Grant’s future, or will explosive emotions and diametrically opposing views tear them apart?

Mobile, Alabama

The Creole Princess by Beth White

All along the eastern seaboard, the American struggle for independence rages. In the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is quieter — though no less deadly. The lovely Frenchwoman Lyse Lanier is best friends with the daughter of the British commander. Rafael Gonzalez is a charming young Spanish merchant with a secret mission and a shipment of gold to support General Washington. As their paths cross and their destinies become increasingly tangled, Lyse and Rafael must decide where their true loyalties lie — and somehow keep Lyse’s family from being executed as traitors to the British Crown.

With spectacular detail that brings the Colonial South alive, Beth White invites readers into a world of intrigue and espionage from a little-known side of the American Revolutionary War. Her richly textured settings and characters delight while fast pacing and closely held secrets will keep readers turning the pages.

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

Fiona Lanier is the only woman in the tiny Gulf Coast settlement of Navy Cove. While her shipbuilding family races to fill the demand for American ships brought by the War of 1812, Fiona tries to rescue her brother who was forced into service by the British Navy.

Lieutenant Charlie Kincaid has been undercover for six months, obtaining information vital to the planned British invasion of New Orleans. When a summer storm south of Mobile Bay wrecks his ship and scatters the crew, Charlie suffers a head injury, ultimately collapsing in the arms of a beautiful mermaid who seems eerily familiar. As Charlie’s memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, he and Fiona discover that falling in love may be as inevitable as the tide. But when political loyalties begin to collide, they’ll each have to decide where their true heart lies.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

What The Cat Dragged In by Gilbert Morris

Introducing…

Jacques the Ripper: A tough–minded “Savannah” breed of feline–fierce, enormous, and with a mind of his own.

And…

Cleo: A multi–colored “Rag Doll” with long silky hair. Cleo is as affectionate as Jacques is tough and her favorite mode of transportation is draped over the shoulder of the nearest human.

In their debut mystery, Jacques and Cleo and their owner…or rather the human they own, Kate Forrest, and her son, Jeremy, move to a beautiful beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, left to Kate by a distant relative.

The catch is that another distant relative, wanna–be novelist (and bonafide cat–hater) Jake Novak, has also inherited an interest in the house. Undeterred, Kate and Jeremy move in the downstairs quarters and Jake takes the separate apartment upstairs.

Then, when a murder occurs . . . everyone is stumped — but feline sleuths Jacques and Cleo come to the rescue and reveal the identity of the killer.

 

Destin, Florida (and nearby environs)

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

If Kathleen could relive any moment, it would be the one in 1969. Not because of its sweet memories, but because it changed her life forever.

Watercolor Summer by Nan Corbitt Allen

Just thirteen, Kathleen felt isolated and alienated by her family. A victim of her parents’ lack of connection to each other and to her, she was dragged by her mother to another artist colony for the summer. There she met the annoying Malcolm, a sixteen-year-old, mentally-challenged boy living with his caregiver.

In Watercolor Summer, Nan Allen tells the story of the difficult summer when Kathleen learned how Malcolm and his colorful guardian were the examples of true and selfless love. She paints a story on the canvas of Kathleen’s life which was transformed by the Master Artist–a life once stained by pain and trial, that became a thing of beauty.

Cedar Key, Florida

Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson

Life sometimes gets the best of us. For some it’s the daily pressures, for others it’s the shadows of the past. For Patsy Milstrap, it’s both. When she travels to beautiful Cedar Key on Florida’s Gulf Coast in search of healing, she never dreams her past will be waiting for her there.

With a large helping of Southern charm, Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness. Author Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that envelops the soul.

 

Tarpon Springs, Florida

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

Much to the dismay of her Greek family, Zanna Krykos makes a living as a lawyer in Tarpon Springs, Florida. When her friend Lucy needs legal advice about the business she inherited upon her father’s passing, she ends up asking Zanna to run the business instead so she can focus on her medical career.

Nico Kalos is a Greek diver who has worked on sponging boats in the Aegean Sea since the age of 14, giving him a vast knowledge of the trade. When he hears of an opportunity to lead a group of spongers to the United States, he seizes it. But his excitement is quickly quelled when he arrives only to discover that a young woman with no experience in the business will be in charge of the new crews.

But as Zanna and Nico face even more complications than they could have imagined, they must learn to work together or risk everything they’ve worked so hard for.

Reading Road Trip — Alaska!

12 Jun

This week I am truly on a road trip — I am cruising the inside passage of Alaska! I spent a few months before the trip doing research. Yes, that’s right, I read books set in Alaska. 😉  I admit I did frequent some travel and cruise blogs too. The books I read, along with old favorites, heightened my excitement and anticipation for the sights I would soon experience. I recommend all of these books whether you have a trip planned soon or just need a virtual vacation. My husband and our travel buddies read fiction as well. Some of the books they read are featured on the list 50 Great Novels Set in Alaska. So if my list below isn’t enough (it’s a big list for a big state), there are many more to choose from.

Reading Road Trip — Alaska

Dawn’s Prelude by Tracie Peterson

Newly widowed Lydia Sellers discovers that through an unforeseen fluke, she is the sole recipient of her husband’s fortune. But instead of granting her security, it only causes strife as her adult stepchildren battle to regain the inheritance for themselves. Lydia, longing to put the memories of her painful marriage behind her, determines to travel to Alaska to join her aunt.

Lydia’s arrival in Sitka, however, brings two things she didn’t expect. One is the acquaintance of Kjell Bjorklund, the handsome owner of the sawmill. Second is the discovery that she is pregnant with her dead husband’s child. What will this mean for her budding relationship with Kjell? And what lengths will her stepchildren go to reclaim their father’s fortune? Lydia soon finds her life — and that of her child’s — on the line.

In The Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel outside Mt. McKinley. While John will be expedition and wilderness exploration guide for the wealthy tourists, Cassidy has signed on as a cook’s assistant. Both are busy as the hotel prepares to welcome the president of the United States on his way to drive in the golden spike to officially complete the railroad.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice of a seasoned Alaska mountain guide. Ever since his father’s death climbing Mt. McKinley, he’s worked to earn enough money to make the trek to the Alaska territory himself. His father’s partner blames their guide for the death of his father, but Allan wants to find the truth for himself. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble

For some people, Alaska is a breathtaking wilderness adventure, full of light and beauty. For Haley, it is a dangerous world of dark dreams and tortured memories. On the surface, she’s here to document wildlife activist Kipp Nowak’s bear encounters. But her real reason is to unearth the truth about a past murder. The suspense mounts when another body turns up, and Haley beginst to wonder if the tragedies she experienced in the past are connected to the dangers and mysterious incidents of the present.

From behind her camera, Haley observes it all, including Tank Lassiter, the wildlife biologist who has been forced to lead Kipp and his team into the Alaskan backcountry. As she watches him with his work, she feels a growing attraction. It will take great courage and faith to confront the truth she once ran away from. Before it’s over, Haley may be viewing herself from an entirely new angle.

Alaska Twilight is the story of a young woman’s emergence from the shadows of past sorrow into the light of forgiveness and grace.

Alaskan Courage Series by Dani Pettrey

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.

Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town…until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again — and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Fiorello

A cruise to Alaska sounds like the perfect vacation–it’s a geologist’s dream and will give Raleigh space to sort out her feelings about her recent engagement. But before the ship even reaches its first port, a case manages to find her. The producer of a movie that’s being filmed onboard goes missing and is then discovered hanging from the railing. Suicide seems to be the cause, but Raleigh quickly realizes the pieces don’t add up.

When the Seattle field office sends Jack Stephansonto assist her in the investigation, her personal uncertainty skyrockets. Why is it that she forgets to even call her fiancé back in Virginia. And Jack seems to know her as well as she knows herself. She’ll have to wait to sort out those feelings, though, because she and Jack only have five days before the cruise ends to solve this case.

Summer of The Burning Sky Series by Susan May Warren

Former bad-boy Tucker Newman has learned his lesson—as the temporary team leader of the Jude County Smokejumpers, he’s all about following the rules to keep his team safe. Especially when he has to partner with a group of local low-security prisoners to knock down the raging fire. But the prisoners are not who they seem, and when they stage a break, kidnapping one of his teammates, he’ll have to break every rule he knows to get her back.

US Marshal Stevie Mills knows that to get the job done, she must work alone. She simply can’t risk another person getting hurt because of her. When she discovers that a wanted fugitive accused of rape and murder has not only been set free to fight the fire — but is now on the lam with a hostage– the last thing she needs is a zealous smokejumper getting in the way of her pursuit.

Whether they like it or not, Tucker and Stevie must join forces if they hope to save lives, and in the meantime, they just might discover a new definition for the word teamwork, in book 1 of the Summer of the Burning Sky.

Of Moose And Men: Lost And Found in Alaska by Torry Martin and Doug Peterson

Torry Martin — a comedian, actor, and hippie — fled from California to the wilderness of Alaska, searching for answers to life’s big questions. He found what he was looking for…and a lot more!

A moose got its head stuck in Torry’s window. A reindeer was trapped in his kitchen. A bear almost prevented him from reaching his airplane. He once woke up frozen to his cabin floor.

Like the Israelites of old, Torry experienced plenty of miracles and mishaps in the wilderness. And like them, he came face-to-face with God and was changed forever.

Each of these true stories of Torry’s hilarious blunders and misfortunes contains a nugget of truth, but one theme prevails: If God can reclaim and repurpose Torry Martin’s life, He can do the same for you and those you love.

 

Reading Road Trip — South Carolina

22 May

To start the summer traveling season off right, I am headed to South Carolina in my Reading Road Trip. The Palmetto State stretches from the sandy beaches and marshes of the Low Country to the edges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Known for its Southern hospitality, the state is rich in history. I have included women’s fiction, romance, mystery, suspense, and historical fiction on my list. I hope you will find the perfect read for the lazy days of summer.

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte’s struggle has just begun.

Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold.  But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.

To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear.

Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together  mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and Mark Bertrand

In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her

Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston’s wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.

As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

Called to Protect by Lynette Eason

For the past year, Chloe St. John has been working as a K-9 cop with her German shepherd partner, Hank. After being dumped by her fiancé for another woman, Chloe has decided that Hank is just about the only male she likes. She’s over the whole romance thing and focuses her attention on doing her job. Because a serious case of human trafficking with connections to her missing cousin just landed in her lap.

When US Marshall Blake MacCallum’s daughter goes missing, he’s ordered to kill the judge he’s protecting and tell no one about his daughter’s disappearance or she will die. Blake races against the clock to rescue his daughter while Chloe and Hank are asked to be a part of the task force assembled to bring down the traffickers. Chloe finds herself attracted to the silent, suffering man, but thanks to her previous bad judgment, she wonders if she can trust him. And can Blake trust himself around this firecracker of a woman?

Flies on The Butter by Denise Hildreth Jones

Can you ever really go home again?

Rose Fletcher’s come a long way from her South Carolina up-bringing of Sunday church and Mamaw’s fried chicken. As a high-powered lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Rose has put the South behind her. But the peace and happiness she has sought eludes her. With her marriage on the brink of disaster, her mind races with the chaos her life has become.

Now Rose must head south for home. She’ll face her demons, relive her coming-of-age, and confront the issues that have kept her away all these years. It’ll take the intervention of strangers and a painful miracle of grace to help her find that place called “home” once again.

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan: avoid her own past — despite being wait-listed for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests — and her dispassionate mother insists — that she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness — especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt.

When a family reunion reveals Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her — and Edisto — from more desolation. Will Cora Anne choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace?

Sunrise on The Battery by Beth Webb Hart

She wanted her husband to attend the town’s society-driven church. God answered her prayer in a radical way.

An emptiness dogs Mary Lynn Scoville. But it shouldn’t. After all, she’s achieved what few believed possible. Born in the rural south, she has reached the pinnacle of worldly success in Charleston, South Carolina. Married to a handsome real estate developer and mother to three accomplished daughters, Mary Lynn is one Debutante Society invitation away from truly having it all. And yet, it remains—an emptiness that no shopping trip, European vacation, or social calendar can fill.

While her husband commits social suicide and the life they worked so hard for crumbles around them, Mary Lynn wonders if their marriage can survive. Or if perhaps there really is a more abundant life that Jackson has discovered, richer than any she’s ever dreamed of.

 

Reading Road Trip — Michigan!

24 Apr

Today’s road trip takes us to Michigan, a state I have not had the pleasure of visiting except in books. Named after the Great Lake it is a state with lots of contrasts — big urban centers and beautiful lakeside communities. French explorers first came to the area in the 17th century and it was the site of conflict for settlement and progress. The Wolverine State is unique in that it is made up of two peninsulas. I haven’t read a lot of books set in Michigan, but I want to remedy that. I welcome your recommendations. In the meantime, I hope you find a book to enjoy from my list.

 

Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

Michigan Territory, 1814 “A voyageur and a young woman swept up in a time of upheaval and dangerdiscover firsthand the high price of freedom.” The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders. Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British–and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who’s grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley. As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they’ll risk for love.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel.  While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders — including Maude — and he digs deep for his story.

But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartels

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time — from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War — to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out — and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town — and Quinn’s life — possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Last Con by Zachary Bartels

Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord— Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history.

 

Reading Road Trip — Tennessee!

10 Apr

Tennesse has a long and illustrious history. The Volunteer State was the 16th state admitted into the Union, the last state to join the Confederacy, and the first state to re-join the Union following the Civil War. It borders 8 states and has the Appalachian Mountains in the east and the Mississippi River on its western border. Nashville is known for its vibrant music industry, while Memphis was home to Elvis. I have a long list of books set in Tennessee. They vary in genres, so there should be something for every reading taste. I hope you enjoy your book travel to Tennessee!

 

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Eleanor Braddock – plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty – knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier’s last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America – and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path – building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows’ and children’s home run contrary to Eleanor’s wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground–and a love neither of them expects.

But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

Beyond All Measure by Dorothy Love

Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady’s companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada’s friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a “colored” settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt’s primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas. With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.

Christy by Catherine Marshall

The train taking nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, might as well be transporting her to another world. The Smoky Mountain community of Cutter Gap feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions, and century-old traditions.

But as Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, some see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.

Yearning to make a difference, will Christy’s determination and devotion be enough?

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well — a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week – including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

Vendetta by Lisa Harris

With the perfect mixture of intrigue and nail-biting suspense, award-winning author Patricia Bradley invites her readers to crack the case — if they can — alongside the best Memphis has to offer. No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Person Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels that this case is getting personal, and that she is not the hunter at all – but actually the one being hunted.  

 

 

Reading Road Trip — Louisiana

27 Mar

The next stop on my reading road trip is Louisiana. I love to visit this state. It is a big gumbo of people seasoned with history, mystery, and romance. Louisiana is unique from the rest of the 50 states. Its local government is organized by parishes rather than counties, a throwback to when the French owned this part of the US. Louisiana’s beginnings spice up their language, culture, and cuisine. And don’t forget Mardi Gras, celebrated not just in New Orleans.

I’ve chosen a variety of books set in Louisiana. They include historicals, romances, women’s fiction, and mystery/suspense. It was hard to keep my list under control, so look for a future road trip back to the Pelican State. Enjoy the reading road trip!

The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Can a former privateer and a determined heiress find lost treasure in 1725?
 A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.



Pasts Collide in New Orleans when a Treasure Goes Missing
. The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. 



What The Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy

The past can’t stay buried forever Rising author Patti Lacy’s second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana. Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood. But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally’s memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally’s story comes to light, the lies she’s told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

All’s Fair in Love And Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself — her — is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Test of Faith by Christa Allan

Elle Butler has managed to hold on to her politically-driven husband and her secrets until the unexpected happens. When one phone call rips her world apart, Elle will have to decide if the truth is worth the consequences. Especially when it threatens to destroy the world she’s so carefully built around her life and her marriage.

 

 

 

 

Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll

A murder investigation uncovers sordid secrets and haunting mistakes

The Darkwater Inn stands tall and proud in the French Quarter, the hub of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is bustling, and General Manager Adelaide Fountaine has her hands full with a hotel at capacity. She, along with everyone else, is shocked when a body is found: a hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, is on the case. As Beau digs into the victim’s past, he unearths a shocking connection between Adelaide and the murdered guest. Beau is hurt that his friend—the woman he’s quietly loved for years—kept the truth from him. To make matters worse, the stress of the investigation has sent Adelaide right into the comforting arms of her coworker Dimitri. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . he’s keeping secrets of his own.

Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose?

Whispers of The Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark

Miranda Miller wasn’t looking for the news the day the letter came. But, trying to survive in troubled circumstances, she welcomes the chance to change her location for a period of time. The letter informs her that her grandparents’ estate is finally about to become hers. She immediately heads down to Louisiana and the old house by the bayou. There Miranda finds secrets that lead to life-changing revelations.

This suspenseful story reminiscent of old Gothic tales has a complex mystery and a vivid sense of the Deep South. It shows how God can take the darkest circumstances and use them to light a bright path leading to the future.

 

 

Where do you want to read next?