Book Giveaway! — The King’s Mercy

20 Jun

To celebrate the release of her newest book, The King’s Mercy, Lori Benton is giving away one copy to one of my readers! Yay!! Thanks so much, Lori, for your generosity. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment. Easy peasy! The giveaway runs through June 30. (Please only US residents.)

 

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

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows.

Happy Book Birthday — Ever Faithful

18 Jun

Happiest of book birthdays to Karen Barnett and her newest book in the Vintage National Parks series, Ever Faithful. I just love these historical romance novels set in the early days of the National Parks. Ever Faithful is set at Yellowstone National Park and is a great choice for your summer reading. Find out all the details below.

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well. 

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Karen Barnett is the award-winning author of The Golden Gate Chronicles (Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, and Through the Shadows) and Mistaken. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two kids, and three mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her family through dusty history museums. Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) honored her with the Writer of Promise Award in 2013 and a Cascade Award for her debut novel, Mistaken, in 2014. In 2016, she was named Writer of the Year by the prestigious Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Karen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) and has been published in Guideposts and other national magazines.

Top 10 Tuesday — Suspense Novels I Can’t Wait For!

18 Jun

This week Top 10 Tuesday bloggers are listing their most anticipated releases of the rest of 2019. This is a list I always love to compile, because it reminds me of the great reading that is coming my way. I have been on an all things suspense kick, so my list features the suspense-filled reads I hope to experience in the near future. Let me know what you think! 🙂

Be sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl for more great upcoming reads.

A Dozen Most Anticipated Suspense Novels

 

Always Look Twice by Elizabeth Goddard

Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon

Deadly Intentions by Lisa Harris

Echoes among The Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills

Fire Storm by Nancy Mehl

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Parks

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

One Final Breath by Lynn Blackburn

Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

 

 

What books are you anticipating?

Audiobook Mini-Review: Dawn’s Prelude

17 Jun

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.

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Visit Tracie’s web site at: http://www.traciepeterson.com.

 

My Impressions:

I take research into vacation destinations very seriously. That’s why I extensively read fiction before I travel. 😉 My trip to Alaska does not include Sitka as a stop, but I chose Dawn’s Prelude by Tracie Peterson because her historical romance novels feature well-researched historical details and great descriptions of setting. This one did not disappoint. The time is the 1870s, and Alaska has recently been bought from the Russian. Sitka, once a thriving city, is suffering from the departure of the Russians, but is holding its own on the Last Frontier. Lydia comes to the remote island in search of her aunt and to escape the machinations and danger posed by her dead husband’s family.

There’s much to love about Dawn’s Prelude — suspenseful action, endearing characters, despicable bad guys, and a stunning setting. I found the historical context very interesting. Travel to Alaska from the lower 48 was daunting — train and ship. The American army was in charge of Sitka, and the native population, though posing no threats, were treated poorly, forced to live in a sequestered part of the city and under curfew. Nature, along with the bad guys, was a formidable foe. Peterson captures the time and place well. Many obstacles are placed in front of the characters throughout the course of the book, but there is definitely a HEA. A meaningful faith thread is presented as well. The only thing I did not like about the book was the quick wrap-up — things just seemed to resolve too quickly. The book is part of a 3-book series, but the next book is set 15-20 years after Dawn’s Prelude, so it can certainly be read as a standalone. I listened to the audio version, and the reader did a great job of telling the story.

For action, adventure, suspense, and romance, Dawn’s Prelude is a good choice whether you are traveling to Alaska or in need of a great staycation.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

First Line Friday — Ever Faithful

14 Jun

Happy First Line Friday, everyone! Today I am winding down my bucket list trip to Alaska, so I thought it fitting to feature a book that is set at another bucket list destination, Yellowstone National Park. Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett is an historical romance set in the early days of the park and is a great choice for you summer reading. This book releases in a few days, but you can pre-order it now! 😉

Please leave a comment with your first line and then head to Hoarding Books for more Friday fun!

 

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more – and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well. 

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Karen Barnett is the award-winning author of The Golden Gate Chronicles(Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, and Through the Shadows) and Mistaken. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two kids, and three mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her family through dusty history museums. Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) honored her with the Writer of Promise Award in 2013 and a Cascade Award for her debut novel, Mistaken, in 2014. In 2016, she was named Writer of the Year by the prestigious Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Karen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) and has been published in Guideposts and other national magazines.

Guest Post — Lori Benton Author of The King’s Mercy

13 Jun

I am so excited to welcome today author Lori Benton, author of The King’s Mercy. I was first introduced to Lori’s writing in her debut novel, Burning Sky. Wow! I was blown away! There is no doubt about why that book was a multi-award winner. All of her books I have read since are of the same calibre — excellent writing, original plotting, richly detailed historical settings, and characters that steal a reader’s heart. Lori shares with us today the work of bringing story to history in her latest offering. Thanks so much, Lori, for visiting today!

 

Fact vs Fiction

By Lori Benton 

In his book The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction, James Alexander Thom (author of Follow The River) writes, “The past is where we get the raw material we use to make the stories by which we earn our bread. The raw material is already there, inexhaustible. We pick bygone time up by the handfuls and, like clay, see if it feels right and then form it into stories about the past.” It’s an apt description of what it’s like to sift through history, pluck out facts and dates from the historical record, then mix them with the elements of Story to create a historical novel. 

I found the raw clay for my latest release, The King’s Mercy, in the 1740s. The story opens with Scottish Jacobite prisoner Alex MacKinnon’s flashbacks to the Battle of Culloden, and what happened to the Jacobite Scots captured by the Duke of Cumberland’s forces during that battle — exile and indenture. Next I introduce a plantation setting along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, complete with master, overseer, and dozens of slaves. Later, the story visits a Cherokee town deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. 

Aside from that very real battlefield on a moor near Inverness, Scotland, these settings sprang from my imagination, but they’re based on research gleaned from the work of dozens of historians, with every detail of culture (food, speech patterns, clothing, possessions, work, play, education, beliefs, prejudices, and attitudes) included in The King’s Mercy lifted from those pages. But such details of time and place are merely dry bones until they are enlivened by the beating heart and filtered through the mind and senses of a character living in that moment.  

James Alexander Thom again: “Those who read the prose of a historian understand that they’re looking back. But we novelists, and our readers, aren’t looking back to that time. We are in that time, looking forward. We are living in the historical moment, through the vividness of our stories, and looking to the future to find our outcomes.” Presenting the facts seamlessly embedded in historical fiction as accurately as possible is important. So also is presenting a story-world so vivid to the senses, and characters who are a product of the times in which we’ve placed them, that the reader forgets what the outcome of that particular moment in history is, and can live in the suspenseful and uncertain now along with the characters. 

What was it like to smell, hear, taste, touch, and see day-to-day life on a plantation in colonial North Carolina, or a sleety, chaotic battlefield, or a prison ship anchored on the Thames, or a thatched council house in a Cherokee town? Those details are every bit as vital in creating the authenticity of historical fiction as is conveying to the reader a knowledge of the laws that governed the institutions of colonial slavery and indenture, or prisoners of the British Crown, or how many chiefs there were in each Cherokee town. Sensory details are what immerses a reader in the factual world the fictional characters inhabit, and helps them see that world through their eyes. 

Better yet, they feel it. 

 

For readers of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon, this epic historical romance tells of fateful love between an indentured Scotsman and a daughter of the 18th century colonial south.

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

Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows.

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.