Tag Archives: contemporary romance fiction

Book Review: Practically Married

18 Nov

Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend.

 

 

Born and raised in Michigan, Karin Beery wrote her first novel in high school (mostly during government and psychology classes – sorry Mr. Winkle). Today she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When not writing fiction, she’s editing or teaching others at conferences and through the PEN Institute. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys time at home in Northern Michigan with her husband and fur babies.

 

My Impressions:

Marriage of convenience stories are usually reserved for historical fiction — it is hard to imagine such a thing occurring in our modern times. But Karin Beery’s latest novel, Practically Married, accomplished the task! With a bit of humor, some swoony kissing scenes, and a relevant message, this book is a recommended read.

Ashley Johnson travels to Boyne Heights in northern Michigan to marry a man she has never met, at least not in person. They have cultivated an online friendship that led them to taking the next step — an arranged marriage that each hopes will grow into a love match. But tragedy occurs and Ashley is left without a fiancé, but with a house, part of a farm, and some explaining to do!

If you think arranged marriages are a thing of the past, or that convenience marriages are an impossibility in the 21st century, consider the number of unmarrieds out there who are disillusioned with dating yet desperately want families. The scenario behind Practically Married may seem unusual, but it really works! It helps that Beery has created some extremely likable characters and allowed them to fall in like as well as in love. Sparks are set off right from the start, and you just know that despite the many, many obstacles the characters encounter there will be an HEA. Along with a great romance, setting details made northern Michigan come to life. I also liked the message that family expectations are important, but should never be the final determination in finding one’s own life.

A quick read, Practically Married was the perfect choice for my weekend getaway read!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

 

Guest Post — Janet Ferguson, Author of The Art of Rivers

18 Nov

Janet W. Ferguson and I first connected in a FB group. She is a Mississippi girl and I married a Mississippi boy, so we clicked at once. Then I had the great pleasure of meeting her in person at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat in April. Over lunch, we talked books, life, teased her daughter 😉 , and generally had a wonderful time. I got to see my friend again in Nashville two weeks ago — one of her books, Falling for Grace, was a Christy nominee!

Janet’s fiction can be described as Southern women’s fiction — it captures the essence of its settings, while speaking to a woman’s heart. And Janet is not afraid of incorporating tough issues that we all struggle with. I highly recommend you read this author! Her post describes some of what it took to write her latest offering, The Art of Rivers.

Thanks, Janet, for joining in my 10 Year Blogiversary celebration!

Guest Post — Janet Ferguson

Happy Blog Birthday!

Beckie, thank you so much for how you support authors of Christian fiction! You are appreciated! Writing a novel takes a ton of research and time, and often we writers feel like our novels are only a drop in the vast ocean of readers’ choices. Having a blog spotlight or review our book brings us such joy!

For my novel, The Art of Rivers, I spent two years learning about addiction. I spent hours reading news accounts of heartbreaking overdoses. I attended the state of Mississippi’s Opioid Symposium, where they discussed the dangerous epidemic driving so many into heroin addiction. I privately interviewed mothers of grown children who’d wrestled for years in prayer for those lost souls held captive by drugs or alcohol. I interviewed people, no different from you and me, who’d through a series of tragic events and choices become addicted to prescription drugs or alcohol or illegal drugs. I learned how addiction had torn up their life and the lives of those around them. I learned about twelve-step programs and how these support groups help.

Then I dove in and wrote one of the most difficult books I’d even attempted. It’s hard pouring your heart onto the page and then putting your words out there for all to read — waiting and hoping that someone’s life is touched or hopefully changed for the better. That’s why I write, and I suspect many other authors are the same. Having support from readers and reviewers warms our insecure souls.

Thank you and bless you! Keep doing what you’re doing so well!

Blessings,

Janet 

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

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Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars — those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.

After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.

Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.

 

 

First Line Friday (+Giveaway!) — Practically Married

8 Nov

A modern day marriage of convenience! That’s what you get in Practically Married by Karin Beery. I will be starting this contemporary romance in the coming days. Can’t wait!

As part of my 10 Year Blogiversary I am giving away a Big Box of Books! Included is an ARC of Practically Married. Click HERE for the link for the giveaway post.

What are you reading? Please share your current first line, then head over to Hoarding Books for more fun!

 

 

Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend.

Born and raised in Michigan, Karin Beery wrote her first novel in high school (mostly during government and psychology classes – sorry Mr. Winkle). Today she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When not writing fiction, she’s editing or teaching others at conferences and through the PEN Institute. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys time at home in Northern Michigan with her husband and fur babies.

 

Book Review and Giveaway! — The Art of Rivers

29 Oct


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

The Art of Rivers
(Coastal Hearts #3)
By Janet W. Ferguson
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 299 Pages
June 30th 2019 by Southern Sun Press LLC

​Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars — those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.

After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.

Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.

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Other Books in The Series

And coming January 2020…

About The Author

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

WebsiteGoodreadsBookBubFacebookTwitterInstagram

 

My Impressions:

The Art of Rivers is the first book I have read by Janet Ferguson, although I have 3 of her other titles waiting impatiently on my TBR shelf. The setting, the story line, and the engaging characters checked all the right boxes — I cannot wait to open another one of her novels! This book is definitely a recommended read.

Characterization is strong in The Art of Rivers. Both the main characters, Rivers and Cooper, are struggling with the tragedy of addiction — but from opposite sides. Choices affect both the guilty and the innocent, and trust and forgiveness are hard to extend and receive. I especially loved Cooper, a man who has given his life to God’s healing power, yet still wrestles with guilt and shame. The love story that unfolds for the two is unconventional, yet grace-filled. I cheered the two on as they face doubts and family opposition. Secondary characters touched this reader’s heart as well. Ferguson’s extensive research into addiction really shows. The backdrop of St. Simons Island was perfect — I could almost feel the breezes and hear the crash of the waves. Parts of the story were hard, but its themes of forgiveness and new life in Christ filled the pages with hope and healing.

The Art of Rivers is part of the Coastal Hearts series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. But if you are like me, after you turn the last page, you will want more!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Prism Book Tours and the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a $10 Chick-fil-A gift card and signed copies of the first two books in the series, Magnolia Storms and Falling for Grace
US only
Ends November 6, 2019

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Reading Road Trip — Pennsylvania!

24 Oct

Welcome to another Reading Road Trip! Today I am traveling to Pennsylvania. This state is steeped in history. It was the home of numerous Native American tribes before European settlers arrived in the 17th century. From the cradle of our nation’s independence, to the iconic battle of the Civil War, Pennsylvania has been a very important part of our country’s growth. It is also dear to me because my father hailed from there. 🙂

Today’s list reflects the historical significance of the state of Pennsylvania as well as more contemporary offerings — Amish, romance, suspense — something for everyone! I hope you love the journey!

Reading Road Trip — Pennsylvania

 

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It’s a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World–isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father–his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not–bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell

Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith…until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah’s world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him–and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

With skill and sensitivity, Mitchell tells a story of two unlikely heroes seeking God’s voice, finding the courage to act, and discovering the powerful embrace of love.

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki

A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America’s most infamous act of treason…

Everyone knows Benedict Arnold—the Revolutionary War general who betrayed America and fled to the British—as history’s most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John André, who was apprehended with Arnold’s documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it.

Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold’s age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as military commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride’s beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John André. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former love and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold.

Told from the perspective of Peggy’s maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress’s affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor’s Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom.

Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering–and a Rebel scout who awakens her long dormant heart.

While Liberty’s future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty’s hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.

In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it?

Widow of Gettysburg is inspired by first-person accounts from women who lived in Gettysburg during the battle and its aftermath.

The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding — again — she knows who is to blame. Perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, the Bee Man.

Roamin’ Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul’s cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant.

Can Julia secure the future she’s always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin

No longer able or willing to leave her home, the unusual Agnes Sparrow has committed herself to a life of prayer – prayer that has resulted in numerous miracles, both large and garden variety, including a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright’s Pond, a quirky Pennsylvania town, are so enamored with Agnes they plan to erect a sign in her honor on the interstate. Agnes wants no part of it and sends her sister to fight city hall. Their petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward.

But when a stranger comes to call asking for his miracle, Bright’s Pond is turned on its head and Agnes’ feet of clay are exposed, forcing the town to its knees.

Bookends by Liz Curtis Higgs

Emilie Getz and Jonas Fielding are as different as two people — of the same age, with the same faith, living in the same charming Pennsylvania town — could be.

She loves history; he loves new ideas. She sticks to the rules; he likes to break them. She’s into saving relics; he’s into saving souls. The one trait they share is a penchant for controlling every aspect of their lives, including their stubborn hearts.

When Emilie’s search for an archaeological treasure leads her to the one piece of land she can’t have (thanks to Jonas), they choose opposing sides in an engaging battle of wits. Emilie, a no-nonsense sort of woman, is determined to have her way. But Jonas is on a mission as well: He wants to hear Emilie laugh. Often.

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance, takes a leave of absence from her job as a social worker, and the two of them set off.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man her grandmother has hired to renovate the house. From the first moment she meets Matt, Kate can’t help but be attracted to him — he’s got a combination of good looks and charisma that draw and tug at her. But she knows there’s zero chance of a romance between them. Matt’s in love with his dead wife, and even if he weren’t, Kate realizes that she’s way too ordinary for him. For Matt Jarreau is no ordinary guy. Kate discovers that he was once a great NHL hockey player who left the sport when his wife — an honest-to-goodness former Miss America — was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matt’s been hiding from people, from God, and from his past ever since. Yet Kate is absolutely determined to befriend him, to try to reach him, to help him in some small way.

No, Kate’s not looking for love. She knows better than that by now. But when the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark

Anna Bailey thought she left the tragedies of the past behind when she took on a new identity and moved from Pennsylvania to California. But now that her brother has vanished and his wife is crying out for help, Anna knows she has no choice but to come out of hiding, go home, and find him. Back in Lancaster County, Anna follows the high-tech trail her brother left behind, a trail that leads from the simple world of Amish farming to the cutting edge of DNA research and gene therapy.

During the course of her pursuit, Anna soon realizes that she has something others want, something worth killing for. In a world where nothing is as it seems, Anna seeks to protect herself, find her brother, and keep a rein on her heart despite the sudden reappearance of Reed Thornton, the only man she has ever loved.

Following up on her extremely popular gothic thriller,Whispers of the Bayou, Mindy Starns Clark offers another suspenseful standalone mystery, one full of Amish simplicity, dark shadows, and the light of God’s amazing grace.

 

 

Happy Book Birthday! — Practically Married

22 Oct

 

Happy release day to Karin Beery! Her newest contemporary romance, Practically Married, is now available. To learn more be sure to check out all the details below.

She moved to a new town to marry her fiancé. Instead, she’s burying him.

Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend.

Born and raised in Michigan, Karin Beery wrote her first novel in high school (mostly during government and psychology classes – sorry Mr. Winkle). Today she writes contemporary stories with a healthy dose of romance. When not writing fiction, she’s editing or teaching others at conferences and through the PEN Institute. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys time at home in Northern Michigan with her husband and fur babies.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Ruin A Book Title with Just One Letter

22 Oct

First, I need to apologize to all the wonderful authors I may offend with today’s Top 10 Tuesday post. I promise it is all in fun 😉 . Bloggers were directed to give novels new titles, so I am playing the fun game of ruining a book with just one letter. Who knew changing just one little letter could impact the whole trajectory of a story. (Be sure to look at the images for the real titles!) Please play along and leave a comment with your ruined book title.

For more title changes, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Ruined Book Titles

 

Bark Ambitions by Irene Hannon

Dogs shouldn’t be involved in politics.

Between Two Snores by Jocelyn Green

Can two people get past their sleeping difficulties in old Canada?

A Christmas Raven by Erin and Cindy Woodsmall

Quoth the raven “December 25th nevermore”.

 

Far Side of The Pea by Kate Breslin

It’s WWI and peas are on the menu.

Glory Toad by Lauren K. Denton

Amphibians in the garden.

If I’m Round by Terri Blackstock

Too much fast food on the run.

Never Faithful by Karen Barnett

Fickle lovers and geysers at Yellowstone National Park.

 

The Purse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Searching for a mysterious pocketbook.

A Sale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep

Transplants gone awry in Dickensian England.

Sweat on You by Becky Wade

Can two friends find love despite their personal hygiene?