Tag Archives: contemporary romance fiction

Book Review: The Writing Desk

11 Aug

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author.She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or http://www.facebook.com/rachelhauck.

 

My Impressions:

Not sure how she does it, but Rachel Hauck has written another winner with The Writing Desk. This dual timeline novel with two very different heroines is one wonderful story. I am not the biggest fan of romance novels, but Hauck is a must-read author for me. With endearing characters, beautiful prose, and believable plot lines, this one is a highly recommended read.

The Writing Desk has two settings — Gilded Age New York and modern day NYC/Cocoa Beach. The two heroines, pampered and sheltered heiress Birdie and award-winning debut novelist Tenley, could not be more different in their upbringing and cultural experiences. Yet both struggle to find independence from family and societal expectations. Birdie’s family expects her to expand their wealth and establish their preeminence in society. Tenley bears the last name of beloved and esteemed authors. They embody the struggle all face — finding a place and a voice of their own. The two women also have difficult relationships with their mothers that shape how they see the world and themselves. The novel is indeed romance fiction at its best with not one, but two, GREAT romances. The heroes have a quiet strength, integrity, and faith that lead Tenley and Birdie to the best they can become. I love how each couple compliments and strengthens each other. The two stories run independently of each other until the writing desk that Tenley finds yields a mystery and a culmination of promise, for both women.

The faith message that runs throughout the book is a whisper to the heart. Both women hear a song sung only to them throughout their lives, a song that bolsters courage in the face of disappointment, grief, and discouragement. Even when Tenley and Birdie are unaware of God’s presence, His steadfast love surrounds them. And isn’t that the message of 1 John 4:10?  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (NIV).

If all you are looking for is a romance, then The Writing Desk will give you two for the price of one! But be prepared for more — a story that will sweep you up and touch your heart.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to TLC Blog Tours and Zondervan for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review + Author Interview — Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

26 Jul

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translate, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

My Impressions:

Healing Love can be categorized as a contemporary romance since it has a love story that develops throughout the book. But its message is so much more than that. If anything it tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with God’s people. Inspired by a mission trip the author’s family participated in, this dual setting novel (California and El Salvador) explores the desperate needs of people and our response to it. I really liked this one, and if you have a heart for missions and love a happily-ever-after ending, you will too!

Brooke Endress is two years out of grad school and pursuing her dream of working in broadcast journalism. Reluctantly she agrees to accompany her teenaged sister on a mission trip to El Salvador. As Brooke is confronted with the realities of the desperate life of poverty in that country, her whole perspective is turned upside down. Translator Ubaldo Calla has his worldview challenged as well when discovers that the beautiful North American is not the spoiled woman he thought, but deeply caring with a love for his home country.

The contrast between American life and the crippling poverty of El Salvador is uncovered in Healing Love. This novel brought the struggle of survival to life for this reader. Slattery doesn’t shy away from sharing the problems of El Salvador — poverty, child labor, sexual abuse, poor education. The missions team that Brooke accompanies makes an impression, but it is really long term action that is required to truly make a difference. I really liked the spiritual growth that Brooke and Ubaldo undergo as they heal relationships and touch lives.

Full of heart, faith, and love, Healing Love is a great story. It is one that will leave you thinking long after the last page is turned. It is an especially good choice for a book club or missions group.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It’s free for Kindle Unlimited!)

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

Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com.

Q&A with Jennifer Slattery

When did you begin to write?

I’ve been writing in one fashion or another since I learned to hold a pencil. I wrote my first story (or at least, the first one I remember) when I was in maybe fourth or fifth grade for a young author’s contest. I remember being selected from my class, though I can’t remember what I was selected for! Maybe to have my story included in a publication?

For years, I wrote poems, which is interesting because now I stink at poetry, though I do often write song lyrics for my stories. (Music can be such a powerful way to connect with God and soak in truth!). I never really pursued publication or even thought about what that might look like until about a decade ago when I began to sense a clear call from God. I felt God was telling me not only was I to write, and write for Him, but this was to be my predominant focus.

After a bit of resisting (for numerous reasons all related to pride and fear), I surrendered, plunked myself in front of my computer, and penned what later became Breaking Free (my fourth and so far, most popular, release).

What led you to write Healing Love?

The idea for this story came while on a plane ride leaving El Salvador, a country I was initially nervous to visit but quickly became reluctant to leave. Our family joined our church (at the time) for a weeklong mission trip, during which we served at an orphanage for girls who had been sexually abused. It was an incredibly emotional and eye-opening experience.

I left with a broken heart and a large pile of letters the girls had written to me before we left. Those letters remain in the top drawer of my bedside table to this day and serve as a reminder of God’s call to love — however and whenever I can.

On the plane ride back, tears pricking my eyes, letters in my lap, I processed all I’d experienced and saw during my week. All God had shown me, not just about the El Salvador people and the sweet orphans I had so quickly fallen in love with, but about His heart. And almost instantly, a story idea took hold.

The next six months or so were incredibly painful as I researched what life was really like for countless families in El Salvador, many of whom have no choice but to work long hours in the hot sun, many of whom are forced to have their children as young as seven and eight working beside them. Many others who live on trash heaps, scavenging for food. Others still who, desperate to survive, sell their children into sex trafficking. Women and children who’ve sold themselves.

One of the downfalls of having a writer’s brain is that everything in my mind plays out in vivid detail. Add to that the fact that I have a bit of OCD, and my brain can get stuck on replay mode, in this case, a replay that utterly broke me.

One afternoon, I went for a walk, trying not to think about all I learned and the precious children our family had encountered — trying not to see their faces as they flashed through my mind — I started to pray. I don’t remember what I said, except that I asked God why He was allowing me to see such heartache and pain, such suffering.

And as if in response, a gentle yet clear thought arose: This is what He sees daily, only more so. Not only does He see the pain, but He hears their constant, desperate cries as they beg for aid.

Aid that, most often, comes through you and I.

In what ways can you relate to Brooke, the heroine in Healing Love?

Oh, my word! In many, and not always the best of ways. I’ve already admitted I have a bit of OCD. In other words, I like to control my world and everything in it. As with Brooke, this comes out strongest when I feel out of control — threatened, vulnerable. Fearful. When instead I should be turning to God in surrender — because that’s when I find strength and peace. But I’m learning, as is Brooke.

In what ways can you relate to Ubaldo, the hero?

Sweet Ubaldo. He means well, and he’s done and is doing a lot of good. I love that he’s driven by his integrity and a genuine love for others. But he can get so focused on doing what he believes to be right that he can in fact hurt others and push them away. I can do that, also. My stubborn, passionate side can become too passionate, working against me and whatever God is calling me to do. Finding the balance between love and truth, passion and grace, can be hard. But again, I’m learning.

Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your story and your heart!

 

Top 10 Tuesday — The End of Summer TBR List

25 Jul

The past week has been crazy. My husband had a routine medical procedure that has proven anything but. A promised one day recuperation has stretched into a week. We are hoping and praying for the best, but the two weeks that are left before a return to the doctor seem more like a year away instead. All this to say that I would appreciate your prayers for my husband’s healing and patience for the both of us. 😉

Because of the stress and worry of the past few days, I am taking the easy way out this week and posting my TBR list for the rest of the Summer. Which books will you be reading?

 

End of Summer TBR List

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Cardiac Event by Richard Mabry

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

 

What’s on your TBR List?

Happy Book Birthday! Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

4 Jul

 

Happy Book Birthday to Courtney Walsh! Her latest contemporary romance, Just Look Up, releases today!

 

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home ― a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work ― something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along ― if only she’d just look up.

Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. Courtney lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing and visual arts studio. They have three children.Visit her online at http://www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

Book Review (+ Giveaway): True to You

29 May

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

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

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

 

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market, took time off to raise her children, then felt God nudging her to pursue contemporary Christian fiction. Becky is the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and International Reader’s Choice Award winning author of the Porter Family Novels.

Find out more about Becky at http://beckywade.com.

 

My Impressions:

Great Scott! What a great book! Seriously, one of the best books I’ve read all year. True to You, the first book in Becky Wade’s new Bradford Sisters Romance series, is a contemporary romance with a lot going for it. This is not your typical fluffy, boy-meets-girl love story, but a deeply moving, thought-provoking novel that will touch your heart as it feeds your reading soul. This one gets the rare very highly recommended designation from me!

Nora Bradford is the bookish and quirky middle sister between two gorgeous and talented sisters. She has defined herself as the brainy one, and after a disastrous engagement and break-up, she is now the single one who relishes her self-imposed status. She thinks she is content watching period dramas on TV, immersing herself in fiction, and staging an historic village, that is, until she meets the very hunky ex-Navy Seal, John Lawson. While their relationship gets off to an awkward start, they begin a business arrangement that grows into a deep friendship. But ugly truths from their pasts may derail what could be a very beautiful love story.

Becky Wade has created a beautifully crafted story injected with wit and humor. The writing is exquisite, the plotting complex, and the characterization unique and masterful. I loved, loved, loved this book! While I had lots of grins, giggles and guffaws during the course of reading, True to You has a depth not often found in contemporary romance fiction. The characters have real struggles that make them incredibly relatable. The search for the truth behind John’s birth is the catalyst for the story which leads to the discovery of the ultimate truth for the main characters — their true identity in Christ. The story is mostly told in third person narrative, but glimpses of the motivations and emotions of the characters are displayed in various forms of communication — texts, FB messages, letters, and emails. One letter in particular that the main characters are not privy to, lets the reader in on the wonder of God’s working through trial and pain. True to You is also a romance, and there is plenty of heat between Nora and John presented in a realistic way. Physical desire is real. It’s the reining in of those passions with the help of God, that keeps the characters from regrets and heartache.

I fell in love with Nora and John’s story from the first chapter. If you are looking for an outstanding novel to kick off your Summer reading, then look no farther than True to You.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Giveaway

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

 

Enter today by clicking HERE, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer Reading!

23 May

Summer is upon us, although here in the sunny South, we have had temps in the 90s for a few weeks now! When the weather is hot do you prefer a sizzling romance, a suspense-filled mystery, a riveting historical, or thoughtful literary fiction? All of the above? Me too! I love to read across all genres, and summer is a great time to abandon yourself in a good book. The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are hosting Summer Reads this week in their Top 10 Tuesday. Find out what other bloggers are packing in their weekender and beach totes HERE.

 

This week’s list is a mixture of books I’ve read that would be good take-alongs on your summer adventures and books that I will be reading this summer. More than 10? Maybe! LOL! But it’s summer. Indulge!

Top 10 Books for Summer Reading

 

What I’ve Read

If I Run/If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock (suspense)

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (literary fiction)

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry (literary fiction)

Vendetta/Missing/Pursued by Lisa Harris (suspense)

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (historical)

What I’ll Be Reading

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason (romantic suspense)

Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills (romantic suspense)

Driver Confessional by David L. Winters (political thriller)

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson (historical romance)

Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett (historical fiction)

The Runaway by Claire Wong (mystery)

Sailing out of Darkness by Normandie Fischer (women’s fiction)

True to You by Becky Wade (contemporary romance)

With You Always by Jody Hedlund (historical romance)

What will you read this summer?

Becky Wade’s “True To You” Author Chat Party!

1 May

Raise your hand if you’re ready for Becky Wade’s new series! Celebrate the release of book one, True to You, with Becky and other readers on Facebook on May 4th during a fun author chat party at 8:00 PM EDT (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 Mountain, & 5:00 Pacific)! Becky will be chatting about the book and answering your questions about the new series, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways too!

Pre-order your copy of True to You so you’re ready for a fun book discussion. Find out more about the book here.

Hope to see you on May 4 for Becky’s True to You Facebook Party!