Tag Archives: contemporary romance fiction

First Line Friday — The Art of Rivers

18 Oct

Happy Friday everyone! This week I am featuring a book from an author I had the pleasure of meeting last April at the CFRR. Janet W. Ferguson has written several contemporary romances, and her latest is The Art of Rivers. Besides being a book written by an author I have met, it is set in my home state of Georgia — win-win on several fronts. I am looking forward to beginning in the coming week. Janet is nominated for a 2019 Christy Award, so I know I am in for a treat!

What book are you looking forward to? Share its first line then head over to Hoarding Books for more First Line Friday fun!

 

 

 

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.

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

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Character Traits

8 Oct

This week, Top 10 Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is focused on character traits. One of the things I love about Christian fiction is the way authors grow their characters. It is wonderful to see how new perceptions of themselves and God impact their traits, both negative and positive. Introverted characters learn to step out in faith, independent characters learn to rely on God and others, those locked in shame by past mistakes are set free — all great examples of God’s grace and mercy. The characters and their traits that I have shared below are certainly not exhaustive. I’d love to hear your favorites.

 

Top Character Traits

 

Bookish Introvert — Nora Bradford from True to You by Becky Wade

Charming Troublemaker — Luke Schrock from Mending Fences by Suzanne Woods Smith

Faithful Love — Maria Von Wedemeyer from My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

Heroic Honor — Dietrich Bonhoeffer from My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

Independent and Self-Sufficienct — Gabby Rowley from The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

Jealous Suitor — Haakon Norgaard from Sons of Blackbird Mountain and Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischoff

Resentful Sibling — Thor Norgaard from Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischoff

Shameful Mistake — Annisa Bell from One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn

Utterly Clueless — Evelyn Tavish McTavish from Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Parks

 

Top 10 Tuesday — A-One, And A-Two . . .

1 Oct

Top 10 Tuesday is challenging bloggers to list books with numbers in their titles. There are few ways to go with this, but I chose to list books with the numbers one and two. All are #1 with me! In the words of Lawrence Welk (for you youngsters, Google) — with a-one, and a-two . . . .

For more numerical lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

With A-One

Her One And Only by Becky Wade 

Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he’s indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?

But Dru’s a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She’s also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray’s stalker. And she’s just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts — and their lives — to one another?

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert 

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones — the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

No One to Trust by Lynette Eason 

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she’s been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover story?

The search for her husband — and answers — takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn’t know who to believe.

One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn

When investigator Gabriel Chavez had his cover blown by an aggressive reporter, the silver lining was being able to rejoin the dive team. The downside? Dive team captain Anissa Bell — a woman who both fascinates and frustrates him.

Anissa grew up as a missionary kid on the Micronesian island of Yap and always planned to return after college. But she remained stateside, determined to solve the case that haunts her–the murder of her best friend and the disappearance of a three-year-old child.

When Anissa’s fractured past collides with Gabe’s investigation into the tragic shooting death of a teenage boy in Lake Porter, they’ll have to put their complicated history with each other aside in order to uncover the identity of a killer. What they’ll discover is that revenge has no statute of limitations.

Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn closes out her nail-biting Dive Team Investigations series with a story that will have you wondering how long you can hold your breath.

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

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear — having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

 

And A-Two

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-
fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war.

Peace appeals to Catherine, but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel’s life convince her he’s in mortal danger. Against her better judgment she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She’s risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?

A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep

London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life, for there’s nothing more mundane than serving customers day after day. Every minute she can, she reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming but penniless rogue. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t. So does William. Deceiving the old man breaks both their hearts. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser
The glimmering Huguenot cross she innocently wears leads her deep into the shadows.When Gabriella Madison arrives in France in 1961 to continue her university studies, she doesn’t anticipate being drawn into the secretive world behind the Algerian war for independence from France. The further she delves into the war efforts, the more her faith is challenged.The people who surround her bring a whirlwind of transforming forces — a wise nun involved in the smuggling, a little girl carrying secret information, and a man with unknown loyalties who captures her heart. When she discovers a long hidden secret from her past, it all leads to questions about trust, faith in action, and the power of forgiveness to move beyond the pain of the past.

Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney

Minor-but-nagging setbacks continue to sour Grant and Audrey Whitman’s initiation into the world of innkeeping, but larger challenges brew when an innocent flirtation leads to big trouble for the Whitmans’ son-in-law, Jesse. Jesse Pennington’s friendly, outgoing personality has always served him well, especially in a career that has earned him and his wife Corinne a very comfortable lifestyle. But Corinne and Jesse are both restless—and for similar reasons, if only they could share those with each other. Instead, too many business trips and trumped-up charges of harassment from a disgruntled coworker threaten their marriage and possibly put their three precious daughters at risk. With their life in disarray, God is tugging at their hearts to pursue other dreams. Can Corinne and Jesse pick up the pieces of what was once a wonderful life before it all crumbles beneath them?

Two Women of Galilee by Mary Rourke

Seeking to restore health to her lungs, Joanna, wife to Herod’s chief steward, approaches her cousin Mary, mother of the healer Jesus. Though their families were estranged when Joanna’s parents adopted Roman ways, Mary welcomes her graciously. Jesus indeed heals Joanna’s body…and her soul blossoms through her friendship with Mary and with her work as one of his disciples. But as word of Jesus’ miracles reaches King Herod’s court, intrigue, treachery and murder cast shadows onto Joanna’s new path, changing her life forever.

Audiobook Mini-Review: Hometown Girl

30 Sep

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?

Courtney Walsh is an author, artist, theatre director, and playwright. Just Let Go will be her eighth inspirational romance novel. Her debut, 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. A creative at heart, Courtney has also written two craft books and several full-length musicals. She lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing arts studio and youth theatre. They have three children.

Connect with Courtney online at her website (courtneywalshwrites.com) or on any of these social media platforms:

Facebook.com/courtneywalshwrites
Instagram.com/courtneywalsh
Twitter.com/courtney_walsh

 

My Impressions:

I had read only one book by Courtney Walsh before I was notified by Amazon that through my Prime account I could borrow the audiobook of Hometown Girl. Well of course I downloaded it immediately. I mean, what’s not to like — a wonderful author and a free book! 😉 What I got reinforced that Walsh is a must-read author for me. Hometown Girl is a contemporary romance (not always my first choice in genre), but there is nothing fluffy about it. It is full of wonderful characters with the same struggles as you and me. Their past mistakes and failures haunt them, just as false perceptions of place and purpose keep them from finding their Why. Add a charming and close-knit community, a couple of quirky characters, and a decades-old mystery, and this book had me hooked! I’m not sure I would recommend the audio-version. Not because it wasn’t excellently read, but because you will want to read this one straight through! 😉 I read it in 1 hour increments on my morning walks, but would have enjoyed it more if I could have read it throughout the day and the night.

I think Hometown Girl is a winner. I cannot wait to dig into more books by Courtney Walsh.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Amazon Prime for letting me borrow this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Congratulations 2019 Carol Award Winners!

29 Sep

The winners of the 2019 Carol Awards have been announced. Congratulations to all the talented authors!

 

Contemporary

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

Historical

The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

 

Historical Romance

A Light on A Hill by Connilyn Cossette

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

 

Novella

MissTaken Identity from The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Kimberley Woodhouse

 

Romance

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

 

Romantic Suspense

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

 

Short Novel

The Rancher’s Surprise Daughter by Jill Lynn

 

Speculative

The Mark of The Raven by Morgan L. Busse

 

Young Adult

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

 

Debut

The Story Peddler by Lindsay Franklin

 

 

Road Trip Reading — Oregon

28 Aug

This week I am again on the west coast with a Reading Road Trip to Oregon. I really, really want to go to Oregon, and soon. My two must-sees? Sea stacks and Powell’s Books. 😉 I’m afraid that this bucket list destination is on hold, so in the meantime I content myself with reading books set in our 33rd state, and following author Lori Benton on Instagram. Oregon’s geographic diversity — coast line and rivers, dense forest and high deserts — provides ample opportunities for photo shoots. Lori posts absolutely beautiful photographs. If you don’t follow her, definitely check her out.

Here are a few books that I have read with an Oregon setting. Not only did they capture the beautiful setting, they were great stories! Hope you find one to love.

 

 

Harbor Secrets by Melody Carlson (Legacy of Sunset Cove, book 1)

A Peaceful Coastal Town . . . Threatened by a Storm of Secrets

It’s 1916 when newspaper woman Anna McDowell learns her estranged father has suffered a stroke. Deciding it’s time to repair bridges, Anna packs up her precocious adolescent daughter and heads for her hometown in Sunset Cove, Oregon.

Although much has changed since the turn of the century, some things haven’t. Anna finds the staff of her father’s paper not exactly eager to welcome a woman into the editor-in-chief role, but her father insists he wants her at the helm. Anna is quickly pulled into the charming town and her new position…but just as quickly learns this seaside getaway harbors some dark and dangerous secrets.

With Oregon’s new statewide prohibition in effect, crime has crept along the seacoast and invaded even idyllic Sunset Cove. Anna only meant to get to know her father again over the summer, but instead she finds herself rooting out the biggest story the town has ever seen — and trying to keep her daughter safe from it all.

 

 

River’s Song (The Inn at Shining Waters, book 1)

Sometimes when we look back, we are able to see ahead 
Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. 

For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. 
By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing — a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . . 

 

 

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon (Hope Harbor series, book 1)

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.

Fan favorite Irene Hannon brings a whole new cast of characters to life in a charming Oregon seaside village. Emotional and heartwarming, this story invites readers to come home to Hope Harbor, where love and hope bloom — and hearts heal.

 

 

Shattered Justice by Karen Ball (Family Honor series, book 1)

There’s no way sheriff’s deputy Dan Justice could have prepared for this. He spent a lifetime ensuring his actions and faith live up to the meaning of his name — Avidan: “God is just.” Then injustice invades his world, ripping away what matters most, forever robbing him of the life he once knew. Can his sisters and small-town community — especially one woman who loves Dan—help him overcome the horrors he’s facing? Or will bitterness and anger shatter him forever?

What happens when justice fails the lawman?

Sanctuary, Oregon . A town where the local diner owner makes you drink your milk—no matter how old you are. Where juvenile delinquency means blowing up outhouses. Where folks not only know their neighbors, but care about them. For widowed sheriff’s deputy Dan Justice, it’s a place where he and his kids can heal and grow.

Shelby Wilson loves Sanctuary and her work with troubled teens. Like Jayce Dalton. Sure, he’s as troubled as they come, but Shelby knows Dan is exactly what Jayce needs. She just didn’t expect that Dan might be what she’s always needed, too.

But sleepy little Sanctuary has a dark side, steeped in pain and secrets. Secrets that could destroy everything Dan holds dear. Secrets that will one day have Dan groping through the fog toward a lifeless body—and faith-shattering grief.

Can Dan find sanctuary in the light of God’s justice?

Rooms by James Rubart

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

 

 

 

 

First Line Friday — Reunited in The Rockies

16 Aug

Happy Friday! Today my first line comes from an upcoming release from Love InspiredReunited in The Rockies by Mindy Obenhaus. That line makes you want to know just happened to change everything.

If you are looking for a sweet romance set in the very cool Colorado Rockies, this one is definitely for you! It releases next Tuesday, just in time for your Labor Day weekend reading!

What is your first line?

Leave a comment, then head over to Hoarding Books for more fabulous first line fun!

 

A fresh start . . .  and an old love reignited?
A Rocky Mountain Heroes
romance

For widow Kayla Bradshaw, restoring a historic Colorado hotel means a better life for her and her soon-to-arrive baby. But she needs construction help from Jude Stephens, the love she lost through a misunderstanding. Working with Kayla, the police officer finds himself forgiving her—and longing to rebuild her shattered confidence. But can they trust each other enough to forge a future together?

Three-time Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at http://www.MindyObenhaus.com