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Reading Roadtrip — Massachusetts

11 Sep

I am heading back east this week with a Reading Roadtrip to Massachusetts. I got a chance to visit Boston a couple of years ago — it was wonderful — but missed the rest of the state. Sounds like a real road trip is in the making 😉 . But for now, I have to content myself with a virtual trip in books. And that is certainly okay, because I get to time travel as well! You will find my list is heavy on the historicals. How could it not be with such an historic place? So travel with me to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the site of the Mayflower landing, of revolution and freedom, and now the most populace state in New England.

 

 

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse (Daughters of The Mayflower, book 1)

Mary Elizabeth Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary Elizabeth survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Nantucket Legacy, book 1)

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.

The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse (Daughters of The Mayflower, book 4)

Faith Jackson and Matthew Weber are both working covertly to aid the Patriot cause. But will they be willing to sacrifice all for their fledgling country?

Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country?

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden

In the small town of Colden, Massachusetts, Libby Sawyer leads a quiet, predictable life. Yet beneath the surface, she is haunted by a secret.

Newly arrived on American shores, Michael Dobrescu is far from predictable, and his arrival in Colden is anything but quiet. Michael’s shocking claim to be the rightful owner of Libby’s father’s house immediately alienates him from the appalled citizens of Colden.

Despite her own outrage, Libby is unwittingly fascinated by this enigmatic man who seems equally intrigued by her. As the court’s decision about the house looms and the layers of mystery surrounding Michael’s past are unveiled, Libby’s loyalties are tested in ways she never imagined.

Murder at The Flamingo by Rachel McMillan (A Van Buren And DeLuca Mystery)

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man,” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build. 

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin (Waves of Freedom series, book 1)

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

As The Light Fades by Catherine West

Sometimes we’re placed in the strangest of circumstances for the most important reasons.

After her carefully constructed life crumbles, Liz Carlisle finds herself back on Nantucket, picking up the pieces. With the family estate under renovations, the solitude she craves seems out of reach.

Matthew Stone intends to steer clear of his new tenant. She’s carrying a load of baggage, but as long as she pays the rent, he’ll let her be. He’s got enough to deal with caring for his wayward niece, Mia.

Liz doesn’t have time for teenagers and her track record with men is abysmal, but an unlikely friendship forms between the three.

When her former boyfriend is charged with assault, Liz is called to testify against him. But he knows the darkest secrets of her life—secrets she’d hoped to keep buried forever, and he’s ready to reveal them. Telling the truth is the right thing to do, but it may cost her everything she’s worked so hard for, and all she’s come to love.

 

Road Trip Reading — Oregon

28 Aug

This week I am again on the west coast with a Reading Road Trip to Oregon. I really, really want to go to Oregon, and soon. My two must-sees? Sea stacks and Powell’s Books. 😉 I’m afraid that this bucket list destination is on hold, so in the meantime I content myself with reading books set in our 33rd state, and following author Lori Benton on Instagram. Oregon’s geographic diversity — coast line and rivers, dense forest and high deserts — provides ample opportunities for photo shoots. Lori posts absolutely beautiful photographs. If you don’t follow her, definitely check her out.

Here are a few books that I have read with an Oregon setting. Not only did they capture the beautiful setting, they were great stories! Hope you find one to love.

 

 

Harbor Secrets by Melody Carlson (Legacy of Sunset Cove, book 1)

A Peaceful Coastal Town . . . Threatened by a Storm of Secrets

It’s 1916 when newspaper woman Anna McDowell learns her estranged father has suffered a stroke. Deciding it’s time to repair bridges, Anna packs up her precocious adolescent daughter and heads for her hometown in Sunset Cove, Oregon.

Although much has changed since the turn of the century, some things haven’t. Anna finds the staff of her father’s paper not exactly eager to welcome a woman into the editor-in-chief role, but her father insists he wants her at the helm. Anna is quickly pulled into the charming town and her new position…but just as quickly learns this seaside getaway harbors some dark and dangerous secrets.

With Oregon’s new statewide prohibition in effect, crime has crept along the seacoast and invaded even idyllic Sunset Cove. Anna only meant to get to know her father again over the summer, but instead she finds herself rooting out the biggest story the town has ever seen — and trying to keep her daughter safe from it all.

 

 

River’s Song (The Inn at Shining Waters, book 1)

Sometimes when we look back, we are able to see ahead 
Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. 

For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. 
By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing — a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . . 

 

 

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon (Hope Harbor series, book 1)

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.

Fan favorite Irene Hannon brings a whole new cast of characters to life in a charming Oregon seaside village. Emotional and heartwarming, this story invites readers to come home to Hope Harbor, where love and hope bloom — and hearts heal.

 

 

Shattered Justice by Karen Ball (Family Honor series, book 1)

There’s no way sheriff’s deputy Dan Justice could have prepared for this. He spent a lifetime ensuring his actions and faith live up to the meaning of his name — Avidan: “God is just.” Then injustice invades his world, ripping away what matters most, forever robbing him of the life he once knew. Can his sisters and small-town community — especially one woman who loves Dan—help him overcome the horrors he’s facing? Or will bitterness and anger shatter him forever?

What happens when justice fails the lawman?

Sanctuary, Oregon . A town where the local diner owner makes you drink your milk—no matter how old you are. Where juvenile delinquency means blowing up outhouses. Where folks not only know their neighbors, but care about them. For widowed sheriff’s deputy Dan Justice, it’s a place where he and his kids can heal and grow.

Shelby Wilson loves Sanctuary and her work with troubled teens. Like Jayce Dalton. Sure, he’s as troubled as they come, but Shelby knows Dan is exactly what Jayce needs. She just didn’t expect that Dan might be what she’s always needed, too.

But sleepy little Sanctuary has a dark side, steeped in pain and secrets. Secrets that could destroy everything Dan holds dear. Secrets that will one day have Dan groping through the fog toward a lifeless body—and faith-shattering grief.

Can Dan find sanctuary in the light of God’s justice?

Rooms by James Rubart

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

 

 

 

 

Reading Roadtrip — Colorado

14 Aug

I traveled to Colorado three summers ago — wow, was it beautiful! Crisp, clean air, breathtaking views, crystal lakes — what’s not to like? Although it was my first trip there, I certainly don’t want it to be my last. I am especially looking forward to seeing the Aspens in all their autumn splendor.

Today I am featuring a few books set in The Centennial State. If you are yearning to visit, even virtually, they are a sure bet!

 

Brunch at The Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country―an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

Ever Present Danger by Kathy Herman

Can You Ever Escape Your Past?

At eighteen, popular Ivy Griffith likes nothing better than getting stoned with her boyfriend, Pete, and his basketball buddies–until one afternoon when a nightmare unfolds. Ivy watches in horror as her boyfriend and his friends murder a teammate and bury his body in a remote location. The four friends make a pact to keep the killing quiet, and Ivy flees her parents’ Colorado home for college and never looks back.

Now, after ten years of numbing her guilt with drugs, she’s finally clean. The single mom of a seven-year-old son, Montana, Ivy returns home to the tiny town of Jacob’s Ear, hoping for courage to reveal the shocking truth of her past and be rid of this baggage forever.

But when disaster strikes at her high school reunion, she’s the only one left alive who witnessed that fateful night so long ago…Or is she? Who else could’ve known about the pact and who would want Pete and his co-conspirators dead? As the investigation heats up and the death toll rises, Ivy is forced to decide if confessing the truth is really worth risking her own life.

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann

In a clash of light and darkness, can courage prevail?
 

Rescuing a toddler from the jaws of a mountain lion, Trevor MacDaniel, a high-country outfi tter, sets in motion events he can’t foresee. His act of bravery entwines his life with gifted sculptor Natalie Reeve—and attracts a grim admirer.
 
Trevor’s need to guard and protect is born of tragedy, prompting his decision to become a search and rescue volunteer. Natalie’s gift of sculpting comes from an unusual disability that seeks release through her creative hands. In each other they see strength and courage as they face an incomprehensible foe.
 
When a troubled soul views Trevor as archangel and adversary, Redford’s peaceful mountain community is threatened. Together with Police Chief Jonah Westfall, Trevor presses his limits to combat the menace who targets the most helpless and innocent.

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

“No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone. You can always come home.”

At the age of 18, musician and songwriter Cooper O’Connor took everything his father held dear and drove 1,200 miles from home to Nashville, his life riding on a six-string guitar and the bold wager that he had talent. But his wager soon proved foolish.

Five years after losing everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, an angelic voice in need of a song. But just as he realizes his love for Daley, Cooper faces a tragedy that threatens his life as well as his career. With nowhere else to go, he returns to his remote home in the Colorado mountains, searching for answers about his father and his faith.

When Daley shows up on his street corner 20 years later, he wonders if it’s too late to tell her the truth about his past – and if he is ready to face it.

A radical retelling of the story of the prodigal son, Long Way Gone takes us from tent revivals to the Ryman Auditorium to the tender relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped calling him home.

Moments We Forget by Beth K. Vogt

Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

 

Reading Road Trip — Washington State

24 Jul

This week’s road trip is to a state I have not visited, at least not in real life. I have gone there through some wonderful books though. The State of Washington (its official name) was admitted into the Union in 1889 as the 42nd state. It is quite diverse with mountains, coastal areas, and in the eastern region, some arid deserts. I am really looking forward to seeing it in person. If you live there or have visited, let me know the best thing about Washington. And if you, like me, can only travel there in a book, take a look at my list. There is something for just about everyone!

 

Road Trip Reading — The State of Washington

 

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

It’s 1927, and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow. 

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources. 

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Oceianna Fliess

The Second World War has stolen Rosalie’s fiance from her. But rather than wallow, Rosalie throws herself into her work at the Boeing plant in Victory Heights, shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy. A local reporter dubs her Seattle’s Own Rosie the Riveter, and her story lends inspiration to women across the country. While Rosalie’s strong arms can bear the weight of this new responsibility, her heart cannot handle the intense feelings that begin to surface for Kenny, the handsome reporter. Fear of a second heartbreak is a powerful opponent – but will it claim victory over love?

True to You (A Bradford Sisters Romance, book 1) by Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson

After turning out plutonium for the Cold War, the shuttered Hanford Nuclear Facility’s poisoned buildings may be a bigger risk than ever. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings are told the dangers are under control. But then the worst happens–a thunderous explosion in the dead of night.

Kieran Mullaney survived the blast, but when threats and silence meet his attempts to discover what really happened, he reconnects with an old friend–inexperienced lawyer Emily Hart. Convinced Hanford is hiding something, they also realize their case is sunk without more help.

Emily’s estranged father, Ryan, has the courtroom experience they need, but he’s grown jaded and weary of the profession. Still, it’s a chance to rebuild ties to Emily, and the deeper he digs, the stranger — and more dangerous — the case gets.

The View from Rainshadow Bay (A Lavender Tides Novel, book 1) by Colleen Coble

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

 

Where will a book take you next?

 

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.