Tag Archives: contemporary romance fiction

If You Liked . . . Magnolia Storms

30 Jun

Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson has a lot going for it — great setting, characters with chemistry, a bit of humor, and a strong faith message. If you liked it, I have a three book recommendations for you. The three novels share all of the above qualities while putting their own unique spin on things. I hope you enjoy these too!

Importance of Family

Practically Married by Karin Beery

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.

 

Overcoming Fears

When You Look at Me by Pepper Basham

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Past Impacts Present

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

Beth Whitaker isn’t supposed to be a small-town girl. She’s always dreamed of leaving Willow Grove, Illinois, for the big city, but she feels trapped, struggling to make up for a mistake that’s haunted her for years. Just when Beth is finally ready to break free, her sister impulsively buys a beloved but run-down farm on the outskirts of town, and she begs Beth to help with the restoration. Reluctantly, Beth agrees to help — and puts her own dreams on hold once again.

Drew Barlow hasn’t been back to Fairwind Farm since he was a boy, and he’s spent all these years trying to outrun the pain of a past he thought he buried long ago. When he learns that the owner has passed away, his heart knows it’s finally time to do the right thing. Returning to Willow Grove, Drew revisits the old farm, where he attempts to piece together his memories and the puzzle of the crime he witnessed so long ago.

Both on a journey to find peace, Beth and Drew are surprised when they begin to experience a restoration of their own. But when long-buried secrets break through the soil and the truth unfurls, will it threaten their budding relationship — and the very future of the farm?

 

Congrats to The 2020 Inspy Award Winners!

29 Jun

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Inspy Awards! The Inspy’s hold a special place in my heart — I judged for them for several years. But it is the Inspys’ continued high standards in seeking to identify the best in inspirational fiction that distinguishes this award. This year’s winners are truly deserving. If you need a great book to read, this list should fit the bill.

2020 Inspy Award Winners

 

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

 

Debut Fiction

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

 

General Fiction

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

 

Historical Romance

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

 

Literature for Young Adults

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

 

Mystery/Thriller

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

 

Speculative Fiction

Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker

First Line Friday — Before I Called You Mine

19 Jun

Happy Friday everyone! Is contemporary romance your go-to genre for beach or pool reads? Then I think I have a book just for you! I haven’t read Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese yet, but this novel promises a get-lost-in-a-book good time. I love the premise, and that first line? Brilliant. Let me know if you have read this one yet, and why I should move it up to the top of the TBR.

 

If Obsessive Email Checking Disorder were a disease, I was likely already in the final stages: trigger thumb, mindless refreshing, aimless scrolling, and, of course, an inability to focus on anything else in the world.

 

 

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now–the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Though she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

With an impossible decision looming, Lauren might very well find herself choosing between the two deepest desires of her heart . . . even if saying yes to one means letting go of the other.

Nicole Deese is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and INSPY Award finalist. When she’s not working on her next contemporary Christian romance novel, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior. Find her online at http://www.nicoledeese.com.

 

For more fabulous first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

Book Review: Magnolia Storms

18 Jun

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except . . . she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Janet W. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She 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.

 

My Impressions:

I am excited to introduce my book club to Janet Ferguson. I have read a couple of her books, and knew that Magnolia Storms, the first book in her Coastal Hearts series would be perfect for our summer reading. Okay, the book is not set during the summer, but it is set in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and has numerous references to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Mississippi coast. Hurricanes and beach communities say beach read to me, just sayin’ 😉 . Main character Magnolia Maggie Marovich’s life was impacted by Katrina leading to her choices of career (meteorologist), residence (safely inland), and even her preferred vacation location (the mountains). She avoids the coast at all costs, except when her family needs her. She tucks her emergency pack in the trunk of her car and her fears in her back pocket, and heads down to her hometown to rescue her sister, niece, and aunt. What Maggie does not know, is that she needs rescuing most of all.

I loved the interactions, and let’s face it, the great chemistry between Maggie and her childhood sweetheart Josh. Magnolia Storms is after all a romance. But really it is so much more as Maggie not only faces her extreme anxiety but tries to overcome it. I have friends in Ocean Springs, and have visited from time to time. Ferguson’s descriptions brought back memories of a quaint coastal town. She captured the essence of the place and people well. The overarching theme of trying to control the uncontrollable was developed in ways that I could relate to. God is always in control, even when we won’t acknowledge that or feel we know better than Him. Maggie learned a lot, and I anticipate some great discussion from my book club on the subject.

Part romance, part women’s fiction, and all Southern, Magnolia Storms is a winner! It is book one in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. I have already read books 3 and 4 — now I need to go back and finish up with book 2!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased a copy of Magnolia Storms. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Spotlight And Author Interview — Relentless Love by Heather Greer

10 Jun

About The Book

Book:  Relentless Love

Author: Heather Greer

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release Date: June 2, 2020

Without passion, there is no love. Without love, is she even living? Relentless Love Cover

Living with limits protects a heart from hurt. After unexpectedly losing her husband, it’s a lesson Katie Blake has learned well. From moving in with her elderly father to staying at home with her son, Sammy, Katie’s life has been arranged to avoid further pain.

After three years, life feels stagnant. It’s time to carefully venture into the world once again. Sammy needs friends his age, and Katie needs a project to focus on.

As Sammy adjusts to preschool, Katie finds her perfect job. Her position even allows her to befriend Anna, a young mother who needs encouragement. Events also bring Nathan Phillips, a childhood friend, back into her life. Each successful step forward encourages Katie to continue opening her heart. By the time her friendship with Nathan begins to deepen, Katie is ready to pursue the relationship.

Nathan’s encouragement gives Katie strength to make tough decisions regarding her father’s care as his dementia progresses. But when Sammy is injured while in Nathan’s care, Katie knows she’s made a mistake. It won’t happen again. Abandoning their relationship in favor of safety is only the beginning. Katie has felt God calling her to help change Anna’s situation, but the risk is too great. God will have to find another way to help.

It takes a strange message from her father for Katie to understand God’s relentless love and desire for her life to reflect His love. But will Katie take the risk or continue limiting love in favor of a life without hurt?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

 

 

About The Author

Heather Greer is a pastor’s kid and pastor’s wife from southern Illinois. Though her nest is quickly approaching the empty stage, with three of her four children out on their own, she enjoys the times she gets to spend with all her children, husband, and grandson. Equal mix geek and romantic, you could as easily find Heather watching an episode of Doctor Who as the latest Hallmark movie. Of course, you may find her baking, reading, or crafting too!

Heather’s writing and teaching ministries revolve around a passion to see believers grow in their faith. Though God has used her most often with teens and adults, she has worked in ministries reaching all age groups through the years. It is Heather’s prayer for God to use what she writes in her books and on her blog to challenge and encourage readers in their faith walks.

 

 

More from Heather

Authors leave a bit of themselves on the pages of what they write. Whether it comes out in a name or character’s special interest or a faith lesson the author had to learn themselves before they could put in on paper, somewhere in what is written readers will find a hint of the author in the story. This glimpse into the author’s world add a feeling of authenticity to the story.

My family and friends will quickly recognize at least one of these windows into my world as they read Relentless Love. Though I didn’t intend it, my personal experiences with dementia and Alzheimer’s care are woven into the story. While the exact details are different, I was a full-time caregiver to my grandmother through the middle and late stages of her life with dementia. Dealing with the confusion, illogical thinking, obsessing, and paranoia that are portrayed in the story is part of everyday life for a caregiver.

In including Katie’s experience with her father’s deteriorating mental health, I pray others facing the same struggle find encouragement and strength. And because my time with my grandma was blessed with sweet memories, in spite of the struggles, I’d like to share a recipe she passed down to me in high school. I cannot make this cookie without thinking of the one who made it first and all the lessons she taught me about what it means to love God, our families, and others.

Lace Cookies  – from the kitchen of Sue Ellen Forby

Ingredients:

1 cup oats                                            3Tbs. flour

¼ tsp. salt                                            1 stick butter

1 cup sugar                                          1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. baking powder                         1 egg

Directions: Mix oats, salt, sugar, baking powder, and flour. Melt butter and pour over dry ingredients. Add vanilla and egg. Mix well. Refrigerate at least one hour, until set.

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into marble sized balls and place at least 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Edges of cookies will be golden brown. Remove from oven and carefully slide parchment from pan to let cookies cool completely before removing them from paper. These cookies puff during cooking but flatten out completely as they cool.

 

Q&A with Heather Greer

 

Why did you choose the contemporary Christian romance genre?

I didn’t set out to write in this genre. I love reading in the contemporary Christian romance genre, but I also enjoy historical romance, fantasy, and even a little suspense now and then. It was the story and Katie herself that determined the genre and even the setting of the story. As Katie and her story developed, the needed genre and setting were clear. 

Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication?

There are easy to point to obstacles in my writing journey. I have four children. When I began pursuing writing seriously, they were younger and demanded more of my time. Currently, I work full-time outside the home. Writing and keeping up with all the extras that come with writing is more difficult when your most productive times are spent at another job. It means weekends and evenings are packed, and you have difficult choices to make about what you will and won’t commit to. But I want to be completely honest with you today. One of my biggest obstacles to overcome in writing is doubt or fear. Writing means putting yourself out there, and it includes feedback. We get feedback from critique partners, agents, publishers, and readers. That’s a scary thing when you’ve put part of yourself on the page. I have to keep reminding myself that if God has given me this way to minster to others, He is the one taking it where He wants it to go and will make the stories speak to whomever He needs it to speak to. 

How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

It depends on the book. My first book took a while because I had to learn how to focus and get it done. From start to publication probably took a year and a half to two years. The second and third book had to go from idea to release in one year. An unrelated book I wrote after finishing this series only took a few months to finish, though I know before publication it will have to face more time being edited and perfected for print. 

What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

Like all authors, I want my stories to entertain readers. I want them to feel like they’ve spent time with new friends. But I want my stories to be more than entertainment. No matter what I write, I want readers to leave the story feeling encouraged or challenged in their faith. Whether it’s something new about God’s love and living faith or a reminder about one of those things, I pray God uses the story to bless each reader.  

Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

I have a couple works in progress I can talk about. One is a finished manuscript that I had a lot of fun writing. It is contemporary. But where this series dealt with the heavy stuff of life, this new one is lighthearted. It tells the story of a cupcake truck owner’s experience as a competitor on a televised baking competition.  

The second is one I recently started working on. It is a historical fiction set in the 1920s. This book will be one part of a series I’m working on with a couple friends of mine. Each of us is writing one novel in the series, and our stories are tied together with a beautiful stained glass window. I’m excited to see where the window and the stories end up. 

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Andrea Christenson, June 3 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, June 4

Rebecca Tews, June 5

Batya’s Bits, June 6

My Devotional Thoughts, June 7 (Author Interview)

Writing from the Heart Land, June 7

For Him and My Family, June 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 9

By The Book, June 10 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, June 11

Quiet Quilter, June 12

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

Inklings and notions, June 14

deb’s Book Review, June 15

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Heather is giving away the grand prize of $30 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fccd/relentless-love-celebration-tour-giveaway

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer Cover Love

2 Jun

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is summer vibes. I don’t know about where you live, but here in the Sunny South, summer has arrived — temps in the 90s and lots of sun. I decided to head to my shelves to find book covers that just say summer to me — June weddings, lush vegetable gardens, special visitors to the bird feeder, 4th of July celebrations, and travel to new places, or just the title. As I looked at the covers of these books — some I have read and others I have not — I thought ahh, that’s summer.

Do you have a summery read awaiting you?

 

For more summer vibes, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Summer Vibe Covers

 

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

Lauren Elliott has waited years for her long-term boyfriend, Todd, to propose, yet he seems more focused on his career than their relationship. When Lauren learns that her younger sister is pregnant before she herself even has an engagement ring, she feels overjoyed yet disheartened. Knowing she can’t put her future on hold, Lauren prepares to make a bold choice — one that leads her to a man she never dreamed she’d meet.
 
Newly married to her second husband, Max, Bethanne Scranton is blissfully in love. But with Max’s job in California and Bethanne’s in Seattle, their long-distance marriage is becoming difficult to maintain. To complicate matters, Bethanne’s cunning ex will do anything to win her back.
 
Lydia Goetz, too, is wonderfully happy with her husband, Brad, though lately she worries about the future of A Good Yarn. As she considers how to bring in business, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. Baskets of yarn are mysteriously popping up all over town, with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and bring it into Lydia’s store. Never before has her shop received so much attention, but who hatched this brilliant plan?
 
As three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne realize that love heals every heart, and the best surprises still lay ahead.

Hope Springs by Lynne Hinton

Pull up a chair and discover the strength and sustenance of friendship with Jessie, Margaret, Louise, Beatrice, and Charlotte, as the unique bond forged between these five remarkable women is put to the test when one of their own is stricken with a deadly illness. Filled with the mystery and wonder that make life worthwhile, Hope Springs will lift your spirits and warm your heart.

 

 

Lemon Jelly Cake by Madeline Smith

A surefire cure for the headaches and stomach upsets of the twenty-first century, The Lemon Jelly Cake carries readers back to kinder, gentler times in a small town at the turn of the last century. Evoking a forgotten America of lush lawns, bountiful summer picnics, and shady front porches, the tale is set when the day’s toughest decision might have been what to serve for dinner or which suit or dress to wear.

 

‘Mater Biscuit by Julie Cannon

It is summer in Euharlee, Georgia, and Imogene Lavender’s garden is bursting with snap beans, okra, and tomatoes. The household — made up of Imo; her daughter Jeanette and her new baby; and Lou, Imo’s niece — is about to grow as well. Imo’s estranged mother, Mama Jewell, has begun to show signs of senility, and Imo has decided that it is her duty to take her mother in. Mama Jewell brings with her some secrets from the past, including the story of Lou’s mother, a revelation that sends Lou in search of her ne’er-do-well father. For Imo, who is feeling the squeeze of being in the middle of the generations, Mama Jewell’s temperamental nature stirs up long-buried memories of a difficult childhood. And much to everyone’s surprise, wild Jeanette is so determined to find a husband that she joins the church choir to be closer to the handsome and enigmatic young reverend.

‘Mater Biscuit is a wonderful evocation of small-town life in the South, a world where hard work and prayers unite the community. Life isn’t always easy for Imo and her girls, but they have only to look as far as Imo’s beloved garden to be reminded that all things change with the seasons.

Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

On Hummingbird Wings by Lauraine Snelling

“But Mother is always dying,” is Gillian Ormsby’s sarcastic response when her younger, favored sister tells her that she has to go take care of their hypochondriac mother. Much against her will, since she and her mother never have gotten along, Gillian arrives in California to find the garden and yard dead, the blinds all drawn, and her mother indeed in bed–waiting to die. But when Gillian talks with the doctor, he assures her there’s no medical reason behind her mother’s state.

Now on a mission to restore her mother to health, Gillian insists Mother get out of bed, eat, exercise and hopefully, choose to live. She also sets about reviving the garden to its former glory, enlisting the help of Adam, a handsome man who owns a family gardening business with his father. Gillian is delighted when a pair of hummingbirds appear, and her friendship with Adam grows.

Soon, Mother’s health improves, and one day she announces she and her friend Enzio are going on a cruise. Before Gillian has time to turn around, her mother is gone and she is left high and dry again, and wondering, what is she going to do with the rest of her own life?

Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

Sometimes you have to go a little bit crazy to discover the life you were meant to live.

Heather Curridge is coming unhinged. And people are starting to notice. What’s wrong with a woman who has everything — a mansion on a lake, a loving son, a heart-surgeon husband — yet still feels miserable inside?

When Heather spends the summer with two ancient Quaker sisters and a crusty nun running a downtown homeless shelter, she finds herself at a crossroads.

Sandpiper Drift by Vanessa Del Fabbro

When journalist Monica Brunetti enters the town of Lady Helen, she is awed by its beauty. A tiny jewel on the west coast of South Africa, its bright tin roofs and swaying palms seem made for picture postcards, not the real-world problems that have led her there. But the village takes hold of her heart, especially the beleaguered residents of Sandpiper Drift, who are threatened with eviction from their tranquil neighborhood beside the lagoon. And so Monica packs up her laptop, her adopted sons and housekeeper Francina, who’s wrestling with a major decision of her own, for the journey of a lifetime.

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?

 

June Book Club Selection — Magnolia Storms

1 Jun

My book club got to meet in person last night! It was a backyard social distancing affair, but it was great to finally see everyone. We usually meet in a local restaurant, but nothing is normal right now. We are hoping that June may offer us a return to our old structure. June usually means a beach-y read for us, and this year is no exception. We will be discussing Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson.  Below are all the details. Have you read it? We would love to know what you thought.

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except . . . she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Janet W. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She 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.

 

 

Reading Road Trip — Beach Reads

27 May

A lot of plans have been disrupted this year. My bucket/birthday trip to Ireland is postponed, hopefully just until next year. For a lot of you, summer vacation is going to look so much different from previous years. So I decided to list some titles that make for great beach reads. Whether you will be sticking your toes in the sand or sitting in the backyard with a cool drink, the books on my list will take you away. I previously have visited the Atlantic Beaches and The Gulf Coast in my Reading Road Trip posts — you will find even more great books there.

Did you know there is actually a definition for beach read? Me either, until I googled it.

Beach read: a book you can take on holiday, which is good enough to keep you engaged, but not so serious it will spoil your holiday. (Macmillan Dictionary)

Really?! I think I have higher standards than that. I want a good story foremost, and you will get that from the books on my list. And whether you want action and suspense, romance, or all the feels, you will find a book to suit your mood. Most are actually set at the beach (or near enough) — win-win, while others capture the essence of summer. I hope you find one to enjoy.

 

Reading Road Trip — Beach Reads

 

The Art of Rivers by Janet Ferguson

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.

As The Light Fades by Catherine West

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.

The Bridge Between by Lindsey Brackett

Louisa Coultrie Halloway has returned home as caretaker for the family home on Edisto Island, but years before she left this world behind. Now she flounders to find her place. When Liam Whiting, a local professor studying tidal creek preservation, invites Lou to join his research team, she welcomes the opportunity for purpose.

David, her ex-husband, has followed Lou and their children to Edisto. As he finds his footing in this new life, their once strained relationship eases into a familiar rhythm — and he hopes for more.

But the past still has a hold on them all, especially in the presence of Grace Watson, whose son intends to marry Lou and David’s daughter. Somehow, Grace and Lou must let the past of a shared love settle between them.

In this idyllic setting, relationships deepen and shift. And once more, Lou finds herself caught between the life she’s chosen — and the love that might be meant to be.

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

The only thing certain is change — even in a place as steady as Perry, Alabama, on a street as old as Glory Road.

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants — operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo. When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions — particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future. Once again, Jessie feels her protected and predictable life shifting.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

When investigative reporter — and Finn’s boss’s sister — Gabby Rowley arrives, her unrelenting questions complicate an already volatile situation. Now that she’s back, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.  

On A Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher

For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not on

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

One Little Lie by Colleen Coble

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

The Secrets of Paper And Ink by Lindsay Harrel

Brought together across time by a love of story, three women in England fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.  

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature. 

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance. 

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch. 

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon

A year ago, ex-Delta Force operator Steven Roark left the rigors of combat behind to run fishing charters in Hope Harbor, decompress, and talk some sense into his kid brother. Business is good–but making peace with his past is more challenging than he expected.

First-grade teacher Holly Miller leads a quiet, low-profile existence — until she’s recruited to advocate for a cause that’s dear to her heart. When she solicits Steven’s assistance, sparks fly — especially after they find themselves on opposite sides of an issue that disrupts their placid seaside community.

As these two seemingly incompatible souls search for common ground, might they discover a deeper connection–and find that love can banish darkness and light the way to a future filled with promise?

 

Book Review And Giveaway! — On A Coastal Breeze

18 May

About The Book

Book:  On A Coastal Breeze

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Release Date: May 5, 2020

On A Coastal BreezeFor Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not on

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Impressions:

I loved the return visit to the charming Maine island, Three Sisters Island in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s novel, On A Coastal Breeze. Known for her Amish fiction, this series is a departure for Fisher in setting and genre, but not for her signature light and humorous style that she combines with deep spiritual truths. The second book in the series features middle sister, Maddie, but all the favorite characters from book one make an appearance creating an ensemble cast. Maddie is now a newly qualified counselor and is eager to ply her trade on the remote island that she has come to love. I love Maddie — she is very insightful, having a keen awareness of what others need, as well as an honest assessment of her own strengths and weaknesses. Her childhood nemesis, Rick O’Shea, comes to the island as pastor, and they are immediately thrown together. Fisher provides flashbacks from Maddie’s past to offer glimpses into their rocky relationship. Rick is a hoot and a hunk, a bad boy who has finally grown up, but who still knows how to get under Maddie’s skin. Theirs is a very fun romance. Anxiety and fear is the underlying theme of On A Coastal Breeze. More than one character struggles with it in varying degrees and varying success. I loved Rick’s assessment of what drives anxiety — “. . .  fear of death is at the core of anxiety.” In these troubled times in which anxiety seems to plague all aspects of life, On A Coastal Breeze expresses a hope that overcomes fear.

Both book 1, On A Summer Tide, and this one are set during the summer months, making this series perfect for backyard or front porch reading during this time when staycations are a must. So settle in for a virtual trip to a lovely place. There are some unresolved storylines opening the door to book 3 — cannot wait for its release!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Celebrate Lit and Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

About The Author

suzanne woods fisherSuzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty books, including On a Summer Tide, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, The Deacon’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.

 

More from Suzanne

Dear Reader,

The minute you step off the ferry and onto Three Sister Island, magic begins. Crisp ocean air acts like an elixir. Stress starts to evaporate, like a wisp of steam from a cup of hot tea. Happiness moves in, and you’ll feel more cheerful, more positive about the future.

And then there’s time! Somehow, there seems to be plenty of it.

Little things will catch your notice — finding seashells on the beach, watching waves crash against the rocks, gazing at the star-studded night sky.

Life just starts to slow down . . . and you wonder if you really want to ever leave Three Sisters Island.

Nor do you have to! That’s the beauty of books — they are the perfect escape. Always available, just waiting to be picked up. Always ready to transport you to a fresh and new state of mind.

On a Coastal Breeze is that kind of a read. The Grayson Family saga continues as they move to Three Sisters Island off the coast of Maine for a fresh start. Maddie Grayson takes center stage in this story. Life is finally coming together for Maddie. On the very day she opens her counseling practice, she spots a billowing skydiver. Parachuting in is Ricky O’ Shea — the one person on earth Maddie hoped she’d never see again. But Rick’s the new pastor for the island’s only church and he’s not about to leave. That’s when sparks start to fly.

Join me for a getaway by the sea that will leave you in a happy, relaxed, vacation-y state of mind . . . without leaving your home. Once you board the Never Late Ferry, even in your imagination, the island will take it from there.

Warmly, Suzanne

 

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, May 18

The Avid Reader, May 18

By The Book, May 18

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 19

Artistic Nobody, May 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Betti Mace, May 20

Lighthouse Academy, May 20

The Power of Words, May 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 21

Texas Book-aholic, May 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 21

Wishful Endings, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 22

deb’s Book Review, May 22

Blossoms and Blessings, May 23

reviewingbooksplusmore, May 23

Connect in Fiction, May 23

Remembrancy, May 24

Writing from the Heart Land, May 24

Blogging With Carol, May 24

Blessed & Bookish, May 25

Inspiration Clothesline, May 25

Back Porch Reads, May 25

For Him and My Family, May 26

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 26

Daysong Reflections, May 26

Spoken from the Heart, May 27

Mary Hake, May 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 27

Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, May 28

Splashes of Joy, May 28

Older & Smarter?, May 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 30

EmpowerMoms, May 30

Pause for Tales, May 30

Batya’s Bits, May 31

Southern Gal Loves to Read, May 31

Hallie Reads, May 31

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of her book to five winners!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fb52/on-a-coastal-breeze-celebration-tour-giveaway

2020 Inspy Award Nominees

13 May

Congratulations to the 2020 Inspy Award Nominees! What a great bunch of authors and books. So if you are wondering what to read next, here’s your list!

Recognizing the need for a new kind of book award, the INSPYs were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith. (Inspy.com)

 

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano 

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh

 

Debut Fiction

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie 

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens 

 

General Fiction

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner 

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim 

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay 

 

Historical Fiction

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

 

Literature for Young Adults

Evermore by Jody Hedlund

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

 

Mystery/Thriller

The Wind Will Howl by Sibella Giorello

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

 

Speculative Fiction

Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig

Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker