Tag Archives: historical romance fiction

Book Review: The One True Love of Alice-Ann

17 Aug

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?

Eva Marie Everson grew up in rural Georgia just outside of Savannah and currently lives in Central Florida. She taught Old Testament theology for six years at Life Training Center in Longwood, Florida and has written numerous articles for Crosswalk.com (including the acclaimed Falling Into The Bible), and has had articles featured in Christian Bride Magazine, Christian Retailing Magazine, The Godly Business Woman and Marriage Partnershipmagazines. Eva Marie has been interviewed by a number of media outlets including radio, television, newspaper, magazines, and the Internet. In 2002 Eva Marie was one of six Christian journalists sent to Israel for a special ten-day press tour. She was forever changed.

Eva Marie’s work includes award winning books such as: Shadow of Dreams, The Potluck Club, and Sex, Lies, and the Media. She has over 20 titles to her credit.

Eva Marie is a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. She won AWSA’s very first Member of the Year Award in 2002. She is the past president of Word Weavers, one of the fastest growing Christian writers groups in the US. She is a graduate of CLASS and a member of several writer’s organizations. Both an international and national speaker, her passion is helping others to hear the heartbeat of God.

My Impressions:

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson is By The Book’s August selection. Everson is a favorite author of ours primarily because of her endearing characters and her novels’ wonderful sense of time and place. This book is no exception. Part romance and part coming-of-age, Alice-Ann is a quiet, yet quick-paced novel. I felt like I had been set right into the small town of Bynum, GA, and I sure loved my visit. This one is a highly recommended read from me.

The novel opens on Alice-Ann’s 16th birthday — December 7, 1941. As events of that infamous day unfold, Alice-Ann senses that her world is about to change dramatically. Many of the young men in town enlist, and those that are left send prayers for their safety. Life in the rural farming community will never be the same.

I loved the character of Alice-Ann Branch. She grows as the story unfolds, changing from naive teenager to a compassionate young woman. I loved how her viewpoint on life, family, and the war itself matures. Additionally, the supporting characters are well-developed, coming into their own as the novel progresses. Bynum is a fictional town, but Everson has added historical details and inspiration from real-life events to allow the reader to view life as it was on the home front. I especially liked the inclusion of German POWs. My father was stationed in Texas during WWII and told tales of the POWs he encountered there. (My parents even had a painting from a German POW.) This and other details gave a different slant from other WWII novels I have read, rounding out that era for me. Faith in God is a strong part of the story. As difficult situations arise, the characters lean on God instead of their own understanding. They call on Him to manage the distresses they face (Psalm 25:17). And for those who love romance, The One True Love of Alice-Ann presents a sweet and satisfying love story.

I really liked The One True Love of Alice-Ann. Its depiction of the greatest generation — all they lost, endured, and found victory in — and the era that made them is perfect! On a side note, the author’s website is a treasure trove of information. Be sure to check it out.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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: My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island

2 Aug

Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel.  While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders — including Maude — and he digs deep for his story.

But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

 

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is an ECPA-bestselling award-winning author of Christian historical romance. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! She resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which is perfect for her love of history. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time!

 

My Impressions:

Sometimes you just need a light love story with a beautiful setting to give yourself a mini-bookcation. My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels fits the bill. Set in the late 19th century at the famed Michigan location, this novel will whisk you back to an enchanting era. This novel is perfect to tuck away in your weekender tote.

Maude Welling is a young woman set on determining her own future. Betrayed in love, she is even more resolved to run the family Inn that her mother and grandmother hinted would be hers one day. Her father, however, has other plans. Enter a very attractive young man who gains her affections. Ben Steffan is also determined — determined to become a successful newspaper editor. Will Maude and Ben’s plans become reality, or will God’s will prevail?

If you like historical romance, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island is a good book to choose. The gilded era of American history is brought to life with the luxurious Grand Hotel and its wealthy guests. But this novel is not centered on opulence and excess, but more on everyday people — newspapermen, maids, business owners. Characterization is strong, and I came to love Ben/Frederich and Maude. Supporting characters will also steal your heart. I had a bit of trouble following the plot (there are many twisting threads), and motivations of some of the secondary characters were unclear. Ultimately I decided to join in the fun and not worry about where the story was taking me. Ben and Maude (along with a few others) take part in masquerades, pretending to be something they are not in order to further their life plans. But deceit doesn’t sit well on them. In fact, it focuses them on who God wants them to be — an important theme in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. It is a quick read great for lazy weekend reading. Put your feet up on your porch or patio and enjoy the journey back in time.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Barbour Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

August Book Club Selection

1 Aug

By The Book is reading The One True Love of Alice-Ann this month. Don’t you just love the cover? Author Eva Marie Everson is a favorite of ours, and this book has the added bonus of being set in Georgia, our home state. We have a FB page where you can join in on the fun — we would love for you to add to the discussion!

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?

Eva Marie Everson in her own words (from Amazon):

I was born and reared just outside of Savannah, Georgia in a charming small town, Sylvania, Georgia. Yeah, I have a southern accent. It gets a little more southern every time I cross the Florida/Georgia state line. I believe one must go North to get South of here.

If I had all the time in the world, I’d probably lay on the sofa all day and watch old movies. I usually have to get sick for something even close to that happening. But time or not, I love hiking in the great outdoors and I enjoy pushing myself to new heights, both physically and spiritually.

I quote lines from movies and songs so often that most people are unaware of what I’m doing. I may or may not have offended some folks. If I have . . . I’m sorry.

I’m an ex-nurse and a seminary graduate. I wasn’t that crazy about nursing, but love God with a passion and can hardly get through a conversation without talking about our relationship! I think the Old Testament is totally FUN to read (I mean, HOW much stuff can one clan of people get in to?) and the New Testament draws me closer to Heaven. Yeah!

My husband and I have been married since 1979 (and they said it wouldn’t last …). We have three of the greatest kids ever and the most amazing grandkids.

I’m pretty much owned by my dog.

When I’m not writing, I’m editing. When I’m not editing, I’m running Word Weavers International, an international membership group of writers who, using the art of critique, become iron sharpening iron. I am also one of the two directors of Florida Christian Writers Conference. I speak at writers conferences across America and to women’s groups as well as to congregations.

I’m rarely still and I sleep very little.

Life is good.

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?

Book Review (+ Giveaway): Grounded Hearts

21 Jul

In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she’ll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.

But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband’s death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?

 

Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer’s conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.

Find out more about Jeanne M. at http://www.jeannemdickson.com.

My Impressions:

I finished Grounded Hearts by Jeanne Dickson a few days ago. Usually I write a review immediately so I can get down all the things that I love, like, or sometimes dislike about a book. I read a lot of books, so this is essential in capturing my thoughts before moving on to the next book. But I’ve waited on writing this review because I needed to take time to fully explore what I did indeed like about it and to articulate those things I didn’t. The premise of this book intrigued me. I knew little about Ireland’s stance during WWII other than the fact that it was neutral. How does a nation remain neutral in such a big conflict with more than disputed territories at stake? So, I was intrigued and eager to read a novel featuring a downed RAF pilot aided by a local woman with lots to lose. A touch of romance added to the suspense and adventure was okay with me. So far, so good. However, there were elements of the book that made me uncomfortable and others that made me a bit angry. Grounded Hearts was indeed a thought-provoking read, but perhaps not in ways that the author intended.

Nan O’Neill is a midwife in a small Irish village during WWII. Life has dealt her a harsh blow and she wrestles with guilt and what-ifs. RAF pilot Dutch Whitney knows his purpose is to save the world, one bombing run at a time. But his goals become out of reach as he parachutes into the bog in neutral Ireland. The two join forces in getting Dutch to Northern Ireland and back to the war. But of course there are many obstacles to that, including the growing romantic feelings between them.

First let me say that Dickson is a great storyteller. In the about the author section of the book she credits a long line of storytelling women that influenced her. Her writing is very good, setting a believable stage for the reader. As said above the story itself is intriguing and made me want to read it. She gave credible insight into the attitudes and politics of the time. But the book soon got bogged down in the many references to the two main characters’ physical attributes. Not only do they have impure thoughts (Nan is Catholic after all), supporting characters often give open voice to them as well. Perhaps not a problem in general market fiction, but Grounded Hearts is termed inspirational. I’m no prude and often like an edgy book, but the constant references seemed to be more for titillation than advancing the plot. If the references had moved from physical admiration to a deeper attraction, I could have overlooked them, but Nan and Dutch’s relationship just never seemed to mature. With all that said, I had much more trouble with the stereotypical portrayal of Catholics and men. A book set in Ireland in the 1940s is going to have a large share of Catholic characters, but they are portrayed as winking at sin, as long as it is eventually confessed. Kind of the it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission philosophy. I know that this attitude exists, but I would have liked if the entire parish of Ballyhaven had not behaved that way. Then there is the portrayal of men. They are either bullies or buffoons, or both. The women are the real thinkers and doers, while the men spend time gossiping and drinking at the pub. Strong women are a wonderful edition, but not at the expense of every man (including Dutch) in the novel.

There are strong themes of guilt and forgiveness in Grounded Hearts. And the message that one can become free by the grace of God is on point. This truth is hinted at throughout the book and is finally accepted by Nan. I would have liked for this element to have had a bigger role in character and plot development.

I know that this review is rather harsh, but I wanted not to shy away from stating what I truly thought. Grounded Hearts could have been a great novel; it had all the elements. Wonderful writing, unique premise, interesting setting and characters. But its reliance on things that I would rather not see in inspirational fiction put me off. Please note that I am in the minority among other reviewers. It has an overall 4-star rating on Amazon, with over 50% of reviewers giving it 5-stars. Please make sure to read their reviews to make your own judgment.

Audience: adults.

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

 

Giveaway

Join Jeanne in celebrating the release of her new book by entering to win the Celtic Knots Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking HERE, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 31. The winner will be announced August 1 on the Litfuse blog.

Book Spotlight + Author Interview (And A Giveaway!) — My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

11 Jul

 

Series: My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island
Genre: Adult, Christian, Fiction, Historical, Romance
Publisher: Barbour
Publication date: July 1

Journey now to Mackinac Island where . . . . A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds. Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel. While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders — including Maude — and he digs deep for his story. But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARBOURB&N | CBD | BOOK DEPOSITORYTARGET

ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper.” Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at http://www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.

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OVERCOMING WITH GOD | 
COLONIAL QUILLS

 

 

Do you have any funny stories from fans meeting you for the first time?

I don’t think funny stories but I have been so blessed by the readers I’ve met, especially last year in Shepherd Michigan when Joyce Noyes brought her absolutely adorable granddaughters with her!

What did your writing process for My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island look like?

Ohmygoodnessgraciousmeohmy! This was like having a problem child who needed a lot of therapy and rehab!

What type of research did you do for My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island? Did you do any traveling for this research?

I actually lived on and worked on the island as a teenager and grew up in the area. And I’ve been there often visiting. One of my close friends has family from the island and she inspired that aspect of the story. We specifically stayed at both the Grand Hotel for research and at the Windermere, which is the inspiration for my heroine’s inn.

What inspired the idea for My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island?

I wondered what an independent miss, brought up by the strong women of the island, would do if her father resisted her becoming a business manager/inn manager which is her birthright but is at a time when young women were sheltered.

What do you want readers to take away from reading My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island?

The only inheritance you need to concern yourself with is that of being a child of the living God.

Do you have any advice you would give to other potential authors?

Don’t give up if you have a manuscript that is giving you fits, not if the Lord tells you to keep working on it. Hire the best freelance editors that you can and pray! This problem child became an RT Book Reviews Top Pick for July PTL!

 

 

Grand Prize Giveaway – Kindle Fire + Mackinac Gift Pack Set: postcards from Mackinac Island, bookmarks, hand-made earrings, winner’s choice of a signed paperback of this novel (or an upcoming release or other book if you already have read My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island), and a Mackinac Island mug.
Enter the giveaway HERE.