Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Memorable Hodgepodge

Taking the time to join Joyce for the Wednesday Hodgepodge is always fun. Join us!

1. Did you do anything 'memorable' this past weekend?

Well, I worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so by the time Monday came around, which was my regular day off, I was pretty exhausted. I ran a couple of errands with my girl, took a nap, and made spaghetti for dinner.

2. Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying-

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

Your thoughts? Do you somehow acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms you enjoy? Did your upbringing contribute to that sense of appreciation? If you're a parent, are there specific things you do to pass on this sense of responsibility and appreciation to your own children in regard to the freedoms they enjoy?

I've always loved and appreciated our freedom and the patriotic holidays. I don't remember anything particularly being said as I was growing up, but my dad always put the flag out and we had a patriotic record album that generally got played on the stereo on those days. I've tried to pass that same thing to our children, and we've enjoyed visiting battlefields and other historic locations on vacations that we have taken.

3. Loudest noise you've ever heard?

Really big claps of thunder when there were tornado warnings. Some of that was this past weekend during our Central Texas deluge.

4. What was the last thing you ate that might be considered 'junk food'? Did you enjoy it?

I had some Skittles and Starbursts at work last week when someone brought a big bag of candy. They were definitely enjoyed.

5. When was the last time you were somewhere the crowd felt 'packed in like sardines'?

I deliberately avoid crowds like that so I can't even remember the last time I had to deal with a crowd like that.

6. Are you organized when it comes to packing for a trip? Do you make a list weeks in advance or toss items in last minute? Are you a carry-on only sort of packer or do you need an entire suitcase for your shoes?

Yes, I'm organized. I used to make lists but I don't now. I try to only take a carry-on; it depends on how long I'll be gone. I'm definitely not an excessive packer.

7. What was the last sporting event you attended in person? Did your team win? Did you care?

I guess that was a University of Texas football game with my brother 4 or 5 years ago. I have no idea if UT won or lost, although I cared at the time. The most treasured part of the memory was the time spent with my brother.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The weekend's floods have had heartbreaking stories, such as the precious family from Corpus Christi who were swept away, along with their friends and the friend's parents, when the house they were in broke away from its cement stilts Saturday night in the floodwaters. There has also been good news, such as the rising level of Lake Travis to almost 657 feet (681 is full, and it has been dreadfully low. It was 631 feet on May 15.) We have been in such a drought, so the rains are welcome; we just don't need them all in one day! LOL


View blog reactions

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Savory Pair - Fiction with a Foodie Twist!

As the coordinator of ACFW's weekly Featured Author Interview on Fiction Finder, I generally post the interviews but don't actually conduct them myself. However, a few weeks ago a schedule adjustment gave me the opportunity to interview Hillary Manton Lodge, a charming young author who quickly intrigued me. While her first two releases were Amish novels, Hillary has now found her niche and writes "Women's Fiction with a Foodie Twist." Shortly after that interview, I discovered that my daughter had bought the first book in Hillary's Two Blue Doors series with a Christmas gift card, although she didn't read it until she came home this month at the end of her semester. We both inhaled A Table by the Window and I immediately ordered Reservations for Two. Now we are eagerly awaiting the third book in the series, to be released next May.

A Table by the Window:
A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes

(Two Blue Doors)
Hillary Manton Lodge
(WaterBrook Multnomah)
ISBN: 978-0307731753
March 2014/320 pages/March 2014

Heirloom recipes, family secrets…and a chance for love

The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?

After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.

Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?

Read an excerpt.

Reservations for Two:
A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons

(Two Blue Doors, Book 2)
Hillary Manton Lodge
(WaterBrook Multnomah)
ISBN: 978-0307731777
May 2015/320 pages/$14.99

A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

Read an excerpt.


Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, and Simply Sara. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine. Her next novel, book three in the Two Blue Doors series, will release May 3rd, 2016 from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers.

Over the years, Hillary's novels have enjoyed critical success from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romantic Times. In 2010, Plain Jayne was nominated as a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara enjoyed a place as an ECPA Bestselling book. In 2015, A Table by the Window was shortlisted in the INSPY Awards.

In her free time, Hillary enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, attending indie concerts, and finding new walking trails. She and her husband make their home in Portland, Oregon, with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.

Read Hillary Manton Lodge's ACFW Featured Author Interview


I love discovering a new author whose fresh voice and writing style bring her books to life and Hillary Manton Lodge has quickly become an author to watch. The first novel in her Two Blue Doors series, A Table by the Window combines all the ingredients for a palatable read: engaging characters, a charming setting, crisp dialogue (including some laugh-out-loud moments!), and authentic issues. Toss in mouth-watering recipes at the end of each chapter, and the result will satisfy your mind and your stomach.

Reservations for Two picks up immediately where A Table by the Window ends, and I loved spending more time with Juliette as she helps her brother open his new restaurant. Like hidden spices in a dish, unexpected twists and turns give this novel a unique flavor, different from the first book, but every bit as tasty. As the story progressed, I felt Juliette's angst regarding her future and admired her honesty as she worked through her concerns. Once again, Hillary's writing style and talent for fast-paced and witty dialogue kept me turning pages and occasionally laughing out loud. My appetite is whetted for book 3, to be released in May 2016.


View blog reactions

Monday, May 25, 2015

With Gratitude

Blessings to you on Memorial Day.
And to all whose loved ones
died defending our freedoms,


View blog reactions

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CFBA - The Art of Losing Yourself

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Art of Losing Yourself
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
Katie Ganshert


Award-winning author Katie Ganshert graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.


Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Art of Losing Yourself, go HERE.


This is the first of Katie Ganshert's novels that I've read but it won't be the last. Her characters are authentic and believable, dealing with family issues, disappointments, and hurt--in short, dealing with life! Simultaneously gut-honest and tender, this story will work its way into your heart and soul, and you will feel as though you know Carmen and Gracie. Ganshert captures perfectly the complex relationship between these two sisters and the baggage they each carry as the book begins, as well as the hard truths they must face about themselves and each other. Time will disappear as you lose yourself in The Art of Losing Yourself. Don't miss this hope-filled novel!


View blog reactions

Monday, May 18, 2015

In Firefly Valley

In Firefly Valley
Amanda Cabot
ISBN: 978-0800734350
May 2015/368 pages/$14.99

She's lost her dream job--but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa's dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake's real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

Read an excerpt.


Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, Christmas Roses, and At Bluebonnet Lake. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at


I enjoy Amanda Cabot's historical romances and couldn't resist reading her contemporary series set in Texas! While I enjoyed the first novel At Bluebonnet Lake, this one is even better. Marisa and Blake are likable characters and readers will identify with their plights, especially Marisa's. Additionally, the secondary story involving Marisa's best friend, Lauren, and Lauren's daughter, Fiona, immediately grabbed my heart. Fresh starts, forgiveness, and healing add depth to this heart-warming story. Take a trip to the Texas Hill Country with this tale that's perfect for a summer evening.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Amanda Cabot and Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Heart's Danger

A Heart's Danger
Journey of the Heart, Book 3
Colleen Coble
(Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-0718031664
May 2015/112 pages/$6.99

On the brink of war with the Sioux, Sarah risks everything to expose the betrayal threatening the man she loves.

Christmas is coming, and the air at Fort Laramie has turned cold . . . but relations with the Sioux have turned colder. As tensions between soldiers and natives approach a tipping point, a trap has been set for Rand Campbell.
Rand’s new fiancée wants to keep him from returning to Sarah Montgomery . . . for whom his heart clearly still yearns.

Sarah just wants to move on with her life at Fort Laramie, but doing so under the watchful eyes of both Campbell—the man whose love she craves—and Croftner—the man whose lies have cost her everything.
Will Rand fall victim to the conspiracy and go through with his wedding? Or will he declare his love for Sarah and make good on the promises that brought her into the rugged western territories?


USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written several romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Find out more about Colleen at


Colleen Coble's novella series continues with the third installment, A Heart's Danger. I am enjoying this re-release of Coble's first two books, Where Leads the Heart and Plains of Promise, which have been divided into this series. This month's novella includes plenty of action and danger. Rand's new fiancée gives a whole new meaning to the term mean girl! Coble ramps up the pace and the pages turn pretty fast as the book heads toward its climax. Don't miss this book and series!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson & Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Click the titles for my reviews of the previous novellas in this serial:

A Heart's Disguise (Book 1)
A Heart's Obsession (Book 2)

Sarah risks everything to expose the betrayal threatening the man she loves—but will the risk be worth it? Find out in book three, A Heart's Danger, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. Rand’s new fiancée wants to keep him from returning to Sarah Montgomery . . . for whom his heart clearly still yearns. Sarah just wants to move on with her life at Fort Laramie, but doing so under the watchful eyes of both Campbell—the man whose love she craves—and Croftner—the man whose lies have cost her everything.

Enter to win the perfect pairing giveaway: three books (books one–three in Colleen's A Journey of the Heart series) and coffee to pair with your new book!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of A Heart's Danger
  • A pound of Colleen's favorite coffee, Captain Davy's Coffee Roaster Costa Rican
  • A copy of A Heart's Disguise
  • A copy of A Heart's Obsession
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 31st. Winner will be announced June 1st on Colleen's website.



View blog reactions

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I'm popping in to join Joyce for the Wednesday Hodgepodge this week!

1. When is your next big deadline? What's it for?

In one sense of the word, I don't really have deadlines. My work doesn't involve projects with specific dates. On the other hand, every day has multiple deadlines, such as when I admit new patients and have to put their orders into the system so our (off-site) pharmacy can supply their medications and so the nurses and aides have the information they need.

2. May is National Barbecue Month. Do you prefer cooking indoors or out? What's the best thing about a barbecue? What's the last thing you cooked on an outdoor grill?

I love grilling outside; it tastes great and there is less to clean up. The most recent thing I fixed was steaks. Our grocery store has some fabulous mesquite-smoked, bacon-wrapped filets.

3. What is one thing on your "never again" list?

Roller coasters.

4. What's something that annoys you about people your own age? Something you love about your generation?

Drawing a blank on this one. Can't think of any sweeping generalizations.

5. Lilac, iris, hyacinth, pansy...your favorite purple flower?

Pansy. I love its deep hue.

6. Whats a song that always calms you down?

If I had to choose one particular song, it would probably be "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Overall, I would simply say hymns. I have a couple of CDs of piano hymns that I play during difficult times or when I'm sick, and they always soothe me.

7. What's the last thing you donated?

Probably clothes to Salvation Army.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm loving having my kids home for a couple of weeks before they head out of state to their summer jobs!


View blog reactions

Monday, May 11, 2015

No Place to Hide

No Place to Hide
Hidden Identity, Book 3
Lynette Eason
ISBN: 978-080072210
May 2015/336 pages/$14.99

She'll defend her friend until the bitter end--but is she in over her head?

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.

Lynette Eason delivers nonstop action as Jackie and Ian travel a dangerous road--one that may lead straight to destruction.


Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust, Nowhere to Turn, and No Place to Hide in the Hidden Identity series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at


I thought the first two books in Lynette Eason's Hidden Identity series were compelling (click the titles to read my reviews of No One to Trust and Nowhere to Turn), but this third book even surpassed those. Few authors write such heart-pounding suspense as Lynette Eason, and her tagline "Welcome to the Edge of Your Seat" says it all. Even the title of No Place to Hide shouts danger and urgency, and Eason pours it on in spades as she leads her characters from peril to peril. Perfectly paced action and nail-biting scenes make this book impossible to put down. Don't miss this novel or any of the books in this series, which has earned a spot on my Favorites shelf!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Revell Publishing as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Friday, May 8, 2015

An Interview with Tamera Alexander

Last week I posted my review of Tamera Alexander's breathtaking new novel, To Win Her Favor, the second in her Belle Meade Plantation series, which releases this coming Tuesday, May 12. Today I am delighted to share an interview with this talented author.

To Win Her Favor
A Belle Meade Plantation Novel
Tamera Alexander
(Zondervan/Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0310291077
May 2015/384 pages/$15.99

To Win Her Favor is the second in your Belle Meade Plantation series. Can you tell us where the story picks up in the series? Is it directly connected to the first book?

Each of the Belle Meade Plantation novels are standalone novels, so each tells a complete story. However, you might just catch a glimpse of Ridley and Olivia from To Whisper Her Name in To Win Her Favor (releasing May 12, 2015). But Cullen and Maggie’s story definitely takes center stage in To Win Her Favor, the second of three novels in the Belle Meade Plantation series.

Coming in July is a Belle Meade Plantation novella—To Mend a Dream. To Mend a Dream continues the story of a secondary character we meet in To Win Her Favor, Savannah Darby. Savannah is Maggie’s closest friend and while we learn about Savannah’s struggles in To Win Her Favor, the culmination of her story is told in To Mend a Dream, a novella in a Southern novella collection entitled, Among the Fair Magnolias (written with authors Shelley Shepard Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser).

You are a resident of Nashville, which is a city rich with culture and history. Is this why you chose to set your series there?

I’ve always had a love of history. Southern history, specifically. Being from Atlanta, I grew up around antebellum homes, so when I was in Nashville on a business trip in 2004 with my daughter, we toured the Belmont Mansion, and I knew then I wanted to someday write about Belmont’s fascinating history (A Lasting Impression and A Beauty So Rare). Likewise, when I learned about Belle Meade’s thoroughbred legacy, the ideas started coming (for To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor). I’m honored to write about these two Nashville estates and their real history. It never gets old for me.

How many times did you visit the actual Belle Meade Plantation while writing this book?

Oh gracious, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been out there (Belle Meade is only 25 minutes from my house). Just two weeks ago, I met a book club of about 30 women at Belle Meade. They were from Alabama, having a girl’s weekend out! After they toured the mansion, we walked down to the old Harding cabin, one of my favorite places at Belle Meade, and where Belle Meade all began. No visit to Belle Meade is complete for me without stopping by that cabin. It has such a presence about it.

I’m grateful to Belle Meade’s director, Alton Kelley (a descendant of the Harding family who owned Belle Meade in the 1800s) and to Jenny Lamb (Belle Meade Educational Director) for opening up the family files, letters, and artifacts to me. I couldn’t write these books with such historical detail about the house, the family members, and the servants without Belle Meade’s assistance.

How much of the novel is based on actual events and how much is from your imagination?

The backdrop of the novel—Nashville’s history, the Belle Meade mansion, outbuildings of the estate, the family members, and most of the servants at Belle Meade—are from history. I often take documented historical events—such as parties, horse races, or catastrophic occurrences—and weave them into the fabric of my stories. Then I intertwine a fictional story that follows the journey of a male and female protagonist within that story world. In To Win Her Favor, that’s Cullen McGrath and Maggie Linden.

The basis for Cullen’s character is founded in the history of Irishmen who came to Nashville in the 1850-70s, and who faced very real prejudice from Nashville residents. Likewise, Maggie’s character was inspired by accounts of women who were formerly landed gentry (from wealthy families who were major land owners) but who lost everything following the war and the changes that conflict brought. The rest of the details are filled in by asking myself the question writers constantly ask themselves, "What if…"

How was this book different from other projects you have worked on?

To Win Her Favor is definitely one of the more passionate stories I’ve written, and I don’t mean that solely in a romantic sense. From the start, this story was simply more evocative because it delves into the intimacies of a marriage of convenience, and also explores prejudice within a marriage—in addition to examining the prejudices between former slave owners and former slaves. Passions run high between the characters in To Win Her Favor. Everyone was learning how to be with each other in that time period, learning where the new boundaries were, where everyone fit.

As I read and researched for To Win Her Favor, I often found my own emotions stirred by real events that occurred in Nashville during Reconstruction. At times, the accounts were repugnant and heartbreaking. Yet at others, they were remarkably soul stirring with fresh whispers of hope.

View vignettes filmed on location at Belle Meade Plantation, the setting of To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor, on the Belle Meade Plantation novels page on Tamera’s website.






Many thanks to Tamera Alexander and Zondervan for providing this interview.


View blog reactions

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Falcon - PLUS Two Giveaways!

The Quiet Professionals, Book 3
Ronie Kendig
(Shiloh Run Pres)
ISBN: 978-1624163197
May 2015/350 pages/$13.99

Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years ago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence.


Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with their four children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction. Ronie can be found at, on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Whew! Just when I think I can handle Ronie Kendig's Rapid-Fire Fiction, she unleashes another no-holds-barred novel that blows me away. Falcon is everything I've come to expect from Kendig and more: staccato-paced action, complex characters fiercely loyal to each other and the country they have pledged to protect, and a setting pulsating with authenticity. I couldn't put down the first two books in this series, Raptor 6 and Hawk (click the titles for my reviews). Somehow, Kendig has raised her own bar with Falcon, and the only time I didn't read with my heart in my throat was when my jaw dropped due to several unexpected twists. While I have always appreciated our military, Kendig's novels have raised my awareness and respect, particularly for Special Forces, tenfold. And I love that Falcon's cover picture does not portray a model but an actual Marine Sargeant, who is also a Purple Heart recipient and double amputee. Kudos to Ronie Kendig for another incredible novel. You don't want to miss it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Ronie Kendig. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Read an excerpt of Falcon, followed by not one, but TWO cool giveaways!

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
25 March—1745 Hours

Do you see the shooter?”

Sal shifted, pressing his shoulder against the hull of a Jeep sitting in the parking lot of the burning CECOM building and scanned the distance. It wasn’t like Kandahar Airfield was small and jammed up against the city. There was distance—the airport sat ten miles southeast of Kandahar City. The base was massive, hosting a couple hundred aircraft. Maintained by the U.S. Armed Forces and the ISAF, it also had a smaller, dedicated portion to the Afghan Armed Forces’ base and an even smaller portion for the Afghan Air Force.

Whoever was firing on them had to be on the base—and was it his imagination or were those shots coming from the AAF’s location?

“I got nothing,” he said.

The man they’d caught lay dead in a pool of his own blood. CECOM was burning. American soldiers and Afghan allies were dying. This mess had to stop.

He shot a look to Knight, who had taken cover behind a portable building. “We need to end this.”

Knight nodded. “Ddrake and I will find them.” He turned to his intense German shepherd, who stood ready and willing to work. After his handler spoke a quiet command to him, Ddrake turned and started his methodical stalking of the scent. Weapon cradled in both hands but held down, Sal trailed the MWD team away from CECOM. Experience had sharpened his trust in the K9 units, in their ability to track down trouble and their fierce loyalty to protect their pack. It’s why he’d requested a team for Raptor.

Dirt crunched beneath his boots as they skirted one building after another, Ddrake systematically making his way toward what had once been a thriving center of downtime—the Boardwalk. Most shops had closed down, a few rebellious, stubborn ones lingering as the troop count had been drastically scaled back.

Ddrake trotted on, his breathing almost staccato as he hauled in air and processed the scents at the back of his throat, tasting as much as smelling what lingered in the air.

They were sitting ducks out here, with most of the base personnel embroiled in the chaos at CECOM. Sal slowed, his gaze sweeping back and forth. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled. What he wouldn’t do to have his M4A1 carbine with its modified trigger he’d done with an off-the-shelf kind and overhauled. That beat a handgun in a firefight any day and every day.

He rolled his shoulders and swallowed, telling himself the enemy wasn’t as well trained. They were more frantic. More desperate. They made mistakes.

Still. A carbine went a long way in making him feel more secure.

“Falcon!” came a hissed voice.

He pivoted, bringing his weapon up.

Dean and Todd “Eagle” Archer jogged toward him, both carrying weapons and a vest. Dean tossed him the tac vest. Sal threaded his arms through it and secured the straps before accepting the assault rifle.

“What’ve you got?” Dean asked Knight.

“Nothing yet. But he’s tracking.” Knight kept moving, following his dog.

Sal resumed his course, this time with Eagle and Dean in tow. That felt better. Right. Even though he had his issues with Dean. Friends could handle that though. And Dean was a bigger man than to let differences get in the way of doing the job or the mission.

Sal wished he could be like that.

At a juncture of two portable buildings, Ddrake suddenly backtracked. Lowered his snout and hauled in hard.

Hawk and Titanis caught up with them as the German shepherd sorted the scents. Sal scanned their surroundings, thinking through what could be in the area. “Less than half a klick to the airfield.”

“Even less to the Afghan Air Force base,” Titanis added.

Sal focused on that area. After the president had announced the U.S. withdrawal and scaled back efforts, there’d been a lull in attacks then there seemed to be a vicious uptick in Blue-on-Green attacks. What infuriated him were the innocent civilians who wanted the protection against the Taliban but were caught in the middle and suffering because of the swell of violence.

“He’s got something!”

Sal swung around as the two bolted down the darkened alley between the buildings. Ddrake went right. Knight followed.

“Stay with them!” Dean shouted.

Known for his gift of speed, Sal sprinted behind them, his boots digging into the half-dirt, half-pebbled ground. He rounded the corner just as Ddrake sailed over a barricade. Even as he watched Knight throw himself at the wall, Sal slung his weapon over his shoulder. Knight cleared it, but not as easily as the dog.

Sal jumped against the wall. His feet hit. He palmed the cement bricks and vaulted over. He landed with a thud and shifted to the side, going to a knee. Assessed. Knight and Ddrake were circling a small car.

“Back! Get back!” Sal could just see that thing blowing sky-high and taking the MWD team with him.

“Ddrake, heel!” Knight slapped his left thigh twice and the dog immediately circled back, turned, and sat against Knight’s leg, looking up at his handler happily. “I can see supplies, but it doesn’t look like a bomb.”

Sal kept his weapon trained out, staring down the sight as the others grouped up.

Dean dropped over the wall next, followed by Hawk and Eagle. Approaching cautiously, Dean eyed the interior of the car. Keyed his mic. “Command, this is Raptor Six Actual. We are just north of the blast well and found some chemicals. Let’s get Hazmat out here.”

“Shooters?” Hawk asked.

“Nothing yet. I can have him track.” Knight shrugged.

He can decipher between human and chemicals?”

“Ddrake tracks chemicals, but whoever carried those”—he pointed to the car—“they’ll have that scent on them. Ddrake can find them.”

“Let’s do it.”

The words had no sooner left Sal’s mouth than a wall of growling, snarling teeth and fur flew into the air. With a beastly growl-snap, Ddrake bolted into a dark sliver of space between a shack and the perimeter fence.

“He saw som—”

A primal scream howled through the night.


I'm giving away a copy of this book to one of my readers here in the USA. Sorry, only US mailing addresses. Please enter using the Rafflecopter immediately below. Contest ends at midnight CDT on 5/14/15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ronie Kendig has a fantastic giveaway! Just enter via the Rafflecopters below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


View blog reactions

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chance of Loving You

Chance of Loving You
Terri Blackstock, Candace Calvert,
Susan May Warren
(Tyndale House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-1496405371
May 2015/384 pages/$14.99

An anthology by three bestselling romance authors

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients—the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer—Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.

One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?


Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Her latest series is the acclaimed, award-winning Intervention Series (Intervention, Vicious Cycle, Downfall). Other reader favorites include her books Predator and Double Minds, as well as the Restoration Series, the Newpointe 911 Series, the Cape Refuge Series, and the SunCoast Chronicles series.

In 1994 Terri was writing romance novels under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. At the time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots, while challenging her readers to think and grow. She hopes to remind them that they’re not alone, and that their trials have a purpose. Visit her website at

Often called the author of "medical hope opera," Candace Calvert is an ER nurse who landed on the other side of the stethoscope after the equestrian accident that broke her neck and convinced her love, laughter--and faith--are the very best medicines of all.

Her popular medical drama series (Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team) offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine, along with charismatic characters, pulse-pounding action, tender romance, humor, suspense--and an encouraging prescription for hope. Think "Grey's Anatomy finds its soul"!

A native northern Californian, mother of two and proud grandmother to seven, Candace is a passionate "foodie," equally at home with a whisk in her hand as she is penning stories. Folks who follow her on Twitter and Facebook will find photo-embellished recipes,funny insights into the writing life, snippets of upcoming work, and a chance at book giveaways. Please visit her website at:

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.

Susan holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives.

For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at


While novellas are generally too short for me to enjoy reading, bundle them together--especially when they are written by a group of authors I adore--and I'm hooked! Chance of Loving You is a delightful anthology by three very talented authors. I love the culinary twist of these novellas. And while they are a bit different from each author's usual offerings, their settings match perfectly, with Blackstock's taking place in the city, Calvert's occurring in and around a hospital, and Warren's set in Deep Haven. Charming characters, enjoyable stories, and a recipe at the end of each story make this a perfect spring read. Don't miss Chance of Loving You!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Candace Calvert. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Monday, May 4, 2015

To Win Her Favor

To Win Her Favor
A Belle Meade Plantation Novel
Tamera Alexander
(Zondervan/Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0310291077
May 2015/384 pages/$15.99

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail—Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Read an excerpt.


Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don’t forget Jack, their precious–and precocious–silky terrier. Find out more about Tamera at her website.


Tamera Alexander heads the list of my must-read authors, and not just because her last name begins with A. To Win Her Favor is the latest reason why. Vibrant historical detail gleaned from meticulous research transports the reader to the years following the War Between the States in Nashvilee and the premier thoroughbred farm located at Bell Meade Plantation, along with its neighboring estate, Linden Downs. Peppering the novel with actual historical figures, Alexander also creates compelling and endearing characters who walk right off the pages and into the reader's heart. Rich layers give meaning and depth to this story, making it much more than a historical romance. At times painfully authentic, it depicts the simmering and often explosive antipathy that existed in the South, not only toward newly-freed slaves but regarding certain immigrants as well. Nuggets of wisdom and faith seamlessly and naturally woven throughout the story are timeless and relevant to any era. Alexander's gift for prose and story always bring a contented sigh when I finish her novels, and though they are not short, they never last long enough to suit me! Faithful and astute long-time readers of her other books will enjoy a couple of clever surprises sprinkled in this one. To Win Her Favor has definitely won mine! Highly, highly recommended!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Zondervan (Harper Collins) and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Can Maggie prove that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America? Find out in Tamera Alexander's To Win Her Favor. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie must marry a man she's never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Celebrate the release of To Win Her Favor with a Kindle Fire and book giveaway!

to win her favor - 400

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
  • A copy of To Win Her Favor
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 10th. Winner will be announced May 11th on Tamera's blog. Plus stay tuned for more opportunities to win after May 11 with a special Pinterest contest—more details coming soon!

to win her favor - enterbanner


View blog reactions

Friday, May 1, 2015

ACFW May New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Seaside Proposal by Narelle Atkins -- Billie Radcliffe is only staying in the close-knit beach community until she finds the man who is the key to her rejection-riddled history. Her growing relationship with good-looking banker and youth leader Zach Montford could crumble when her deepest secret is revealed. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Bachelor to the Rescue by Lorraine Beatty -- He made her a widow. Now she and her little girls need his help. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot -- Marisa St. George has lost her dream job and come home to manage the struggling Rainbow's End resort in the small Texas town where she grew up. The only silver lining is Blake Kendall, a new guest who is making her believe in love at first sight. But is he really who she thinks he is? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Summer Brides: A Year of Weddings Novella Collection by Debra Clopton, Marybeth Whalen and Beth Wiseman -- A June Bride by Marybeth Whalen: Wynne Hardy says "yes" to the perfect man on a reality TV show, then her ex-boyfriend walks back into her life. A July Bride by Beth Wiseman: Brendan Myers left Alyssa Pennington at the altar. Winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. An August Bride by Debra Clopton: Cousin to the bride, Kelsey Wilcox meets groomsman Brent Corbin at a Texas beach wedding. Brent is determined to change the pretty bistro owner's mind about cowboys. (Contemporary Romance from Zondervan)

Whenever You Come Around (A King's Meadow Romance) by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Best-selling author Charity Anderson returns home to King's Meadow to defeat a bad case of writer's block. Then her dog causes an accident where longtime crush Buck Malone breaks his wrist and ankle. Charity finds herself caring for the handsome wilderness guide, since this calamity will keep him off the trail for weeks during prime tourist-season. Buck finds himself hoping to change this city girl's mind about small town living. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Safe in the Fireman's Arms by Tina Radcliffe -- Neither Maggie Jones nor widowed fire chief Jake MacLaughlin are interested in finding love. When they team up as a fake couple to avoid potential dates, sparks kindle and they might just find trouble in Paradise, Colorado. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Doctor's Second Chance by Missy Tippens -- When a bachelor's wayward cousin leaves him with her baby to raise, he's forced to seek help from the one woman he can't trust, the town's new pediatrician. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Can't Buy Me Love by Beth K. Vogt -- A bride-to-be discovers the true cost of love as she plans her uptown destination wedding using Pinterest. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade -- A scarred Texas marine and his vivacious childhood best friend find love and healing while training thoroughbred horses. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

General Fiction:

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti -- Can a marriage survive when separated by hundred of miles and impenetrable prison walls? (General Fiction from Abingdon Press)

Historical Romance:

The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susanne Dietze, Cynthia Hickey, Shannon McNear, Gabrielle Meyer, Connie Stevens, Erica Vetsch, Gina Welborn, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and Jennifer Uhlarik - Nine historical romance novellas where love comes to the most eligible bachelor in town. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love by Design (The Dressmaker's Daughters #3) by Christine Johnson -- Jen Fox won't let anyone keep her from joining the first flight expedition to the North Pole. Even if the person trying to take her seat is the dashing, world-famous stunt pilot Dan Wagner. Their strictly business relationship hits turbulence when both begin to wish for something more personal. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas -- When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he consoles himself with his fiddle and the family farm. His grandmother's helper, Margaret Hoffman, is always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems she doesn't care about his troubles. But Margaret has her own problems. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as they face potential loss and find healing in the most surprising places. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

Medical Suspense:

Fatal Trauma by Richard L. Mabry -- It began with Dr. Mark Baker facing a gunman who had nothing to lose, and it could end with him behind bars. (Medical Suspense from Abingdon Press)

Romantic Suspense:

Falcon by Ronie Kendig -- When a deadly bombing separates Staff Sergeant Brian "Hawk" Bledsoe, from his team, he must make a choice: save his brothers-in-arms, or save the woman and children depending on him to survive a brutal snowstorm. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Young Adult:

See No Evil (Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Book 3) by Mary L. Hamilton -- Blindness didn't keep Steven Miller from getting sucked into pornography, and with Dad's death compounding his guilt, can he atone for his sin by keeping his friend from traveling the same path? (Young Adult Fiction, Independently Published)

And one more not listed above:

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander -- A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever. (Historical Romance from Zondervan Fiction [Harper Collins])


View blog reactions