Tag Archives: contemporary romance fiction

Top 10 Tuesday: First Lines

6 Mar

Today I am recycling because that is what busy bloggers do when they are short on time and inspiration! 😉 This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to list their Top 10 Favorite Book Quotes. I’m a slacker when it comes to keeping a journal filled with the wonderful nuggets I find in the pages of a book. But as I thought about the topic, I couldn’t help but think how it is the first lines that I almost always remember. I haven’t read (or rather re-read) Rebecca in a long while, but I can still quote that memorable first line — Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Another wonderful weekly meme I participate in is First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books (their tagline is it’s not HOARDING if it’s BOOKS — great, huh?). It has been lots of fun discovering new books and authors through first lines. So today, I will share some first lines from books that were fabulous reads. I hope that you find your next great book today!


Top First Lines

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Christy by Catherine Marshall 

Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart 


What’s your favorite book quote?



Book Review (+ Giveaway!): The Saturday Night Supper Club

5 Mar

About the Book

Title: The Saturday Night Supper Club

Author: Carla Laureano

Genre: Christian fiction/romance fiction

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t…

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Impressions:

Warning:  If you are on a diet, be sure to stock healthy snacks before opening this book, otherwise the delicious descriptions of Chef Rachel’s creations will have you searching your cabinets and take-out menus for substitutes to quench your cravings! Seriously, The Saturday Night Supper Club does have the yummiest foodie scenes around, but it is the main characters’ real lives that will have you turning the pages while you munch on celery. Carla Laureano is a new-to-me author (how have I gone so long without reading her books?!), and this first book in her newest series has me clamoring for more. I loved everything about this book — the hip foodie environment of Denver, the engaging character’s search for meaning and purpose aligned with God’s will, and the sweet and spicy romance that will leave you swooning along with Rachel. Towards the end of the book, I found some real nuggets of truth that resonated with the insecure part of my psyche — Somewhere along the way, she’d begun to think that when she asked for something good, God would repay her with some pale counterfeit. Wow, I really needed to hear that. Usually I take copious notes while reading a book, but as I closed the cover on this novel, I found I had read straight through without pausing to jot down my thoughts. Bad for writing a review, but great for a satisfying reading experience. I found myself fully immersed in the story; few things drew me up to the surface. The Saturday Night Supper Club is a book I will not hesitate to recommend to friends, acquaintances, and grocery store strangers. Get a copy and start the fun!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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


About the Author

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Guest Post From Carla Laureano

I’ve got a confession to make: I have a cooking problem.

It started early and innocently enough, flipping through my mom’s cookbooks and marking things I wanted to try. Making cakes and muffins from a mix. Flipping frozen steak patties. Doctoring canned spaghetti sauce.

It wasn’t long before I got into the hard stuff: muffins from scratch, slow-cooked marinara, cast-iron seared and oven-finished rib eyes. Over the years, I tried to kick the habit numerous times, but every time things got tough, I found myself falling off the wagon and heading back into the kitchen. Even hosting dinner parties. Yes, dear reader, I pulled my hapless friends into my madness. To my shame, I even got some of them hooked with their own addiction.

Before I knew it, my obsessions started creeping into my day job. No longer was it enough to write contemporary romance about normal people who order take-out. No, I had to write chefs and passionate home cooks and describe the food in the books just as lovingly as I did a first kiss. And then the final straw—a book series centered entirely on food and the culinary profession, beginning with The Saturday Night Supper Club.

All joking aside, cooking really is an addiction that I haven’t been able to kick. As a writer, I spend hours locked in my own imagination, creating things out of words and ideas. And while it’s immensely fulfilling, it’s a long, painstaking process that takes months, even years, before I can release the final product into the world. While there’s a large amount of planning and analysis involved in creating a book, the work is still mostly in my head.

Which is why I find cooking to be such a relaxing creative pursuit. Dicing a pile of vegetables into perfectly uniform cubes may take the same concentration and precision, but it’s concrete and measurable. It becomes a personal challenge to do something better than last time, improving by tiny, nearly imperceptible increments. It’s the closest to meditation that my always-on brain ever experiences, clear of all thought except for my activity at the present moment.

And yet, simultaneously, food is ephemeral. Mistakes last only as long as it takes to eat them or toss them directly into the trash can, depending on the nature of the mistake. If a sauce breaks, I toss it and start over. If I burn something, I either cut off the burned part or I order takeout and try again the next day. There’s an element of experimentation and instinct and whimsy that isn’t hampered by the pursuit of perfection. Let’s face it, a mediocre chocolate chip cookie beats a perfect celery stick any day of the week.

It was natural, then, to write a chef heroine who had dedicated her entire life to the pursuit of culinary perfection and explore all the ways that food makes our lives and relationships richer. How it anchors our memories. How we nurture others by feeding them. How a simple meal becomes meaningful not because of the food, but because of the connections we form with others over the dinner table.

In the end, I guess my cooking problem isn’t that much of a problem after all. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen.

Blog Stops

Rachel Scott McDaniel, February 20

A Baker’s Perspective, February 20

Just Commonly, February 20

Mommynificent, February 21

Among The Reads, February 21

A Greater Yes, February 21

proud to be an autism mom, February 21

Fiction Aficionado, February 22

Quiet Quilter, February 22

The Power of Words, February 23

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 23

Janices book reviews, February 24

C Jane Read, February 24

Faery Tales Are Real, February 24

All of a Kind Mom, February 25

Inklings and notions, February 25

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 25

Carpe Diem, February 26

Smiling Book Reviews, February 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 26

Splashes of Joy, February 27

Its Storytime with Van Daniker, February 27

Simple Harvest Reads, February 27 (Guest post from Mindy)

Radiant Light, February 28

Moments Dipped in Ink, February 28

Baker kella, February 28

Pause for Tales, March 1

Book by Book, March 1

Bigreadersite, March 1

The Fizzy Pop Collection, March 2

Have A Wonderful Day, March 2

Reader’s Cozy Corner, March 2

Bibliophile Reviews, March 3

Two Points of Interest, March 3

Reading is my Super Power, March 3

Texas Book-aholic, March 4

amandainpa, March 4

Singing Librarian Books, March 4

By The Book, March 5

Neverending Stories, March 5

Pursuing Stacie, March 5


To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize of a $200 Visa Card for the winner and a friend to attend a cooking class!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!


Can’t Help Falling Close To You Tour!

27 Feb
Welcome to the Can’t Help Falling Close to You Tour!



Title:  Can’t Help Falling
Author: Kara Isaac

Publisher:  Howard Books
Release Date:  October 11, 2016
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction 


A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with a curious wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in this inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

Title:  Close to You
Author: Kara Isaac
Publisher:  Howard Books
Release Date:  June 1, 2016
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction 
A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.


Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for? 
Author photos copyright of Jenny Siaosi.
Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two Hobbit-sized children.

CONNECT WITH AUTHOR: Website | Facebook | Twitter 
Just Commonly

Kara Isaac is graciously offering (1) winner a choice of either all (3) of her books in ebook format or (1) signed copy of a choice of one of her books in print format, PLUS a bar of New Zealand chocolate. (Opens internationally). 


Terms & Conditions 

One winner in the U.S. will be randomly generated through Rafflecopter within 3 days of close of giveaway.  Once announced, the winner has 48 hours to send mailing information notification email or risk forfeiture of the prize.  Due to shipping costs, only US mailing addresses will be win physical items. 

Prize is courtesy of Kara Isaac.  Kara Isaac and JustRead Publicity Tours reserves the rights to terminate this giveaway at any time, and are not responsible for lost prizes in the mail.

Thank you for your participation.

Top 10 Tuesday — Dear Santa, I Want Books!

19 Dec

Welcome to the Top 10 Tuesday before Christmas. The theme today is books bloggers want Santa to bring. I have always been a fan of books as gifts. And if you don’t know which book to get me, a gift card so I can pick my own is always the next best choice! 😉

For the books other bloggers have on their wishlists, head over to The Broke And The Bookish.


I always have a long wishlist of books — book club books, new releases, old releases I missed . . . . You get the picture! The following are the books that are headed to the top of my TBR list.

Top 10 Books I Want from Santa

Beneath The Surface by Lynn Blackburn

Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright

If I Live by Terri Blackstock

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Send Down The Rain by Charles Martin

The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West


What books do you want from Santa?

Book Review: The Gift of Christmas Past

6 Dec

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Promises shattered.

Lies spoken.

She was arrested.

He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?


Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.


My Impressions:

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall is a departure from the best-selling author’s usual Amish genre. This new venture is a treat! While the setting may be different, this Christmas novella is still filled with the same heart that fans have come to love. My book club is reading this book later this month, and I look forward to a lively discussion.

Hadley and Monroe are just seventeen years old when they fall in love. Vowing to stay together, they are soon ripped apart by false accusations, family pressures, and obstacles stacked against them. Nearly 10 years later, as Hadley is close to reaching her dream of becoming a licensed speech therapist, another unfortunate fire and a hurting little girl throw the two together. But there are a number of past secrets that work to keep them separated yet again.

The authors set up a no-win situation for Monroe and Hadley in their early years. Both characters feel deeply, but their vulnerability, inexperience, and young age work against them. They are trapped by others’ perceptions and prejudices. I felt they were realistically portrayed in the early part of the book. But while Hadley’s character continues to be credible (I really liked her!), I found Monroe naive and immature even as an adult. For someone with many achievements and a great deal of responsibility, his reliance on his parents seems a bit unbelievable. But his character grows up and grew on me. By the end of the book he is a man of convictions and principles. Supporting characters are well-developed, especially Elliott and Trent. The Gift of Christmas Past is no fluffy novella. Serious issues are explored, and I found myself intrigued by the speech problems presented and the plight of at risk teens, especially those in the foster care system. This book is a meaty read without being too heavy — its great strength. In the epilogue, readers find the characters 4 years in the future — and what a great future it is. This one has a happy ending!

The Gift of Christmas Past promises great things for the duo of Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. I look forward to more from the two in the future.


Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

December Book Club Selection — The Gift of Christmas Past

3 Dec

This month, By The Book is reading a book by one of our favorite authors and her daughter-in-law! The Gift of Christmas Past is the collaborative effort by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. We would love for you to join us!

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them. 
Promises shattered.  
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.  
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.
Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. 

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

If you’d like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorcindywoodsmall

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.


Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

28 Nov

Although winter is officially a few weeks away, it is never too early to make a list for those long evenings when only a cup of something warm, a cozy chair and afghan, and a good book will do. Here’s my Top 10 Winter TBR — including review books and book club selections. Looks like I have a lot of good reading ahead! For more reading lists for the long winter months, check out The Broke And The Bookish.


Top 10 Winter TBR

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

The Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury

Life on The Porcelain Edge by C. E. Hilbert

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris


What’s on your winter TBR list?