Monday, September 26, 2016

The Wedding Shop

The Wedding Shop
Rachel Hauck
(Harper Collins/Zondervan)
ISBN: 978-0310341543
August 2016/384 pages/$15.99

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes The Wedding Shop.

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It's the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman ​after having inherited her great aunt's wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

​More than eighty years later, former ​Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart's Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and ​Haley's stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.


Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at Facebook: rachelhauck Twitter: @RachelHauck


I love Rachel Hauck's books, but this one might be my favorite. As she did with The Wedding Chapel, Hauck weaves together the past and present into a touching and powerful story. Haley's determination and devotion to restoring the shop to its former splendor and significance in Heart's Bend, Tennessee endeared her to me, and I caught her vision for the shop. But Cora embodies much of the heart and soul of this novel as she builds her one-of-a-kind store and thrilling brides-to-be, all while battling her own issues. Hauck's authentic setting and gift for storytelling drew me deep into this tale and Cora's and Haley's journeys resonated with me, evoking within me many of the emotions they experienced. Hauck tucked in some sweet surprises that only enhanced my enjoyment of this novel. Don't miss The Wedding Shop!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy of this book free from Harper Collins/Zondervan. 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.”


The Wedding Chapel (2015 - HarperCollins/Zondervan)
The Wedding Dress (2012 - HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson)


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Q&A with Jody Hedlund

On Monday I reviewed Jody Hedlund's beautiful new novel, Newton & Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace. Today I am happy to share a Q&A with Jody that she has provided that gives a bit of insight into this story.

You’ve written about many other true historical couples. What drew you to write about Newton & Polly?

Like most people, I’m familiar with the song Amazing Grace and knew it was written by John Newton who’d once been an atheist slave trader. I’d even heard a little bit about John Newton’s saving grace moment when he was aboard a ship during a life-threatening storm and cried out to God.

However, I’d never heard anything about the love of his life, Polly Catlett, until I began to dig a little deeper into his life. It didn’t take me long to realize that Newton had a passionate love for her, and his love for her affected just about every decision he made for good and bad. Theirs is a beautiful love story, one that God used in a powerful way. I decided it was a story the world needed to hear.

Polly Catlett is one of those forgotten women of history. Since most people have never heard of her, she can’t be all that important, can she? What role did she really play in Newton’s life?

Newton readily admits in his autobiography that he fell in love with Polly Catlett at first sight. He says this: “At the first sight of this girl, I felt an affection for her that never abated or lost its influence a single moment in my heart.”

He was completely taken with Polly so much so that every time he visited her, he overextended his stay. Such irresponsibility cost him at least two different jobs and in the end was one of the major reasons he was captured and impressed into the king’s navy.

When Newton’s naval ship sailed away from England, he was so depressed that he contemplated suicide. He said: “Nothing I either felt or feared distressed me so much as being thus forcibly torn away from the object of my affections.”

During his time away as he was involved in the slave trade, Newton’s love for Polly never diminished. If not for his passion for her, he probably wouldn’t have boarded the ship that took him away from Africa. He wouldn’t have experienced the life-threatening storm on the way home. And he might not have written Amazing Grace.

So, yes indeed Polly Catlett was incredibly important. If not for her, the world may never have known the most amazing hymn ever written.

Newton was a prodigal son. He was estranged from his family during his rebellious years, but later made peace with his father. What hope does Newton and Polly offer to parents dealing with children who have left the faith?

As a one-time prodigal child now experiencing a rebellious child of my own, I take a great amount of comfort in Newton’s story. First, I revel in the knowledge that God can take our mistakes, turn them around, and use them for His plans and purposes.

Second, I take comfort in Newton’s story because it reminds me that no matter how far our children stray into sin or even atheism like Newton, that they are never too far beyond the reach of God. We as parents need to do our job planting seeds, praying, and encouraging our children in what’s right. But ultimately God is the one who woos and wins our children to Himself.

From a human perspective, Newton looked hopelessly lost, especially as the years began to pass without any sign of change. But we as parents can find solace in knowing that through all of the pain and heartache, God has not abandoned us or our child. He’s there and His plans are at work, even when we can’t see them.

Clearly “grace” is an important theme in Newton & Polly. But what other issues or themes does the book address?

Actually, the book is full of various themes. One major theme has to do with the timeless conflict between Christian and cultural values. In the mid 1700’s smuggling had become so commonplace that people turned a blind eye to it and even condoned it, especially if they wanted to avoid hardships and even persecution. I hope the book challenges readers to evaluate how they might be going along with cultural values instead of living with truth and integrity.

The book also sheds some light on the controversy of the slavery issue at the time, giving insights into those who supported it as well as the growing abolitionist movement (which was still in its infancy during this part of Newton’s life).

Another theme is how to handle singleness. Like Polly, it’s all too tempting for single adults to grow impatient in waiting for the “right” person to come along and to begin to consider compromising values for fear of remaining single.

What do you hope readers walk away with after having read Newton & Polly?

During the very last time I read the book while I was doing my last edit, Newton’s return to God brought me to tears. I hope readers, too, are overwhelmed by the sense of God’s presence and grace in Newton’s life.

More than that, I pray that readers will have a new sense of God’s grace extended toward them, that they’ll realize that no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been, that God is waiting to draw them into his outstretched arms into his amazing grace.

What’s coming up next in your publication schedule? What can readers look forward to?

In January of 2017, readers can look forward to the 5th and final book in my Beacons of Hope lighthouse series! Be looking for a cover reveal soon!

Then in March of 2017, my third young adult book, For Love and Honor, releases. This book spotlights the third knight in the series, Sir Bennet, and tells how he finds his one true love.

In June of 2017, I’ll be unveiling a brand new series published by Bethany House. More information coming soon!


Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website:
For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest:
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Lady Unrivaled

A Lady Unrivaled
Ladies of the Manor, Book 3
Roseanna M. White
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764213526
September 2016/416 pages/$14.99

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won't wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won't budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those intent on destroying them all?

Read an excerpt.


Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at her website.


Roseanna M. White quickly vaulted onto my must-read author list with this series. Intriguing characters and an equally compelling story combine to make this final book completely mesmerizing. The search for the Fire Eyes Diamonds, the thread which connects the series, continues in A Lady Unrivaled, but the captivating tales of Lord James Cayton and Lady Ella Myerston are able to be fully enjoyed by readers new to the series. White's delightful writing style occasionally caused me to pause and reread a passage simply for the sheer enjoyment of the wordage. My only complaint is that it ended too quickly! A sigh-worthy book, A Lady Unrivaled is a must for your Fall Reading List.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Roseanna White and Bethany House 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.”

The Reluctant Duchess


1. A Lady Unrivaled is the final book in the Ladies of the Manor series. What can readers expect? Will those who are new to the series be able to follow along?
In this final installment of the Ladies of the Manor series, readers will finally discover the conclusion to—and the history of—the mysterious jewels that have been a theme throughout the books. Though readers who are new to the series will have to rely on the short explanations within the book to understand the jewels and how they’ve wreaked havoc on the previous books’ characters, they’ll find a brand new story in this one too, that requires no introduction: the love story of Lady Ella Myerston, the redemption of Lord James Cayton, and an interesting look into the villains’ world through the eyes of a broken ballerina sent to spy on them.

2. What new elements did you introduce in A Lady Unrivaled that you most liked?
I found so many things to love in this story! For starters, Ella is very much like me—more so, perhaps, than any other character I’ve written. Her eternal optimism, her way of clinging to hope, is how I go through my days. I loved having her seek adventure everywhere, and find it more often than not in the pages of a book. But I also loved delving deep into my moody hero, Cayton, who is trying so desperately to be the man God wants him to be, the father He wants him to be. Cayton is an artist—though he’ll never admit it in public—so I also got to explore my love of art. But I think one of my favorite elements in this one is Kira Belova—a Russian ballerina who is playing the part of spy. She brings a very new outlook to the story, and I loved learning about the Russian culture of the day that would have shaped her.

3. What are the spiritual themes of A Lady Unrivaled?
Faith is always a crucial aspect of the story arc for me. In this one, all my characters had lessons to learn. Ella has to learn to trust the Lord’s guidance even when it seems irrational—which is difficult for her, since she thinks she has bad judgment because of a previous mistake. Cayton has to learn to accept the gifts that God wants to give him, and the second chance He offers—which amounts to forgiving himself, ultimately. And Kira has to realize that faith is more than just a thread through the tapestry of life—it’s a choice one has to live out every day.

4. What sets this book and series apart from other Edwardian or English-set novels?
I have always been a fan of books set in the British Isles. But I also recognize that readers like characters they can relate to, and the very-proper social expectations of pre-World War I England can sometimes seem alien to modern American readers. I compromised by having those expectations as they would have been, but then having characters who defy them. Each book in the series has at least one character from outside England, who brings new perspectives and challenges the social norms. And whose differences often lead to the adventure and mystery that flavor the series.

5. What’s coming next for you, now that the Ladies of the Manor series is complete?
I’m excited to continue writing in the same world, but focusing on brand new characters. A Lady Unrivaled ends in the spring of 1914, just before Europe plunges into war. My new series, London Shadows, will take place in Great Britain during that first year of the Great War. The new mysteries and adventures will be seen through the eyes of an unlikely band of heroes—a family of thieves from the dirty streets of London. There will be art and literature and mystery and suspense . . . and of course, plenty of romance. The series will launch in July of 2017 with A Name Unknown.


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Monday, September 19, 2016

Newton & Polly

Newton & Polly:
A Novel of Amazing Grace

Jody Hedlund
ISBN: 978-1601427649
September 2016/400 pages/$14.99

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found....

Now remembered as the author of the world’s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father—until the night he hears Polly Catlett’s enchanting voice, caroling. He’s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John’s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.


Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of fourteen books. Among a variety of genres, she especially loves bringing long-forgotten women of history to life. She is the author of Luther and Katharina, which was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award in Fiction. Her other novels have won the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christy Award. She resides in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. Learn more at her website.


Writing this review is a daunting task for I know my efforts could never do justice to this beautiful and powerful story. Once I tore my gaze away from the stunning cover and actually opened the book, Jody Hedlund whisked me away to the perilous times of mid-eighteenth century England. Meticulous research blends seamlessly with Helund's exquisite prose in this stirring tale. Although I knew bits and pieces of John Newton's background, I had no knowledge of many of the details woven into this novel, circumstances and events that further demonstrate the depth of God's amazing grace. Hedlund's passion for spotlighting long-forgotten women of history mines a jewel in her portrayal of Polly and her impact on John. Packed with emotion as well as numerous memorable quotes Newton & Polly is a book to be read with a box of tissues and a highlighter nearby. I fully expect this to head award lists next year. Don't miss this phenomenal novel! And with Christmas around the corner, it's the perfect gift for every reader on your list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Jody Hedlund and WaterBrook for 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.”


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Catching Heat

Catching Heat
Cold Case Justice, Book 3
Janice Cantore
(Tyndale House)
ISBN: 978-1414396705
September 2016/432 pages/$14.99

Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart’s parents, she’s desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind—the governor’s wife—behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where Alyssa Rollins grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire.

Luke is eager to help Abby close the books on a case they both have personal stakes in. But as she uncovers long-held secrets, Abby stumbles into an explosive situation, and Luke fears that her obsession may prove deadly.

Read an excerpt.


Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. She has penned six novels, the Pacific Coast Justice series, Visible Threat, and Critical Pursuit. Catching Heat is the third book in the Cold Case Justice series. Visit Janice's website and connect with her on Facebook.


Janice Cantore brings her Cold Case Justice series to a satisfying close with Catching Heat. While this book does build on events in the previous two novels in the series, it can be read as a standalone. In fact, one of my mild frustrations is that the early part of the book contains so much background. Additionally, Abby and Luke spend quite a bit of time simply discussing the case, traveling, and other pedestrian activities. While that is likely more realistic than continual action-packed scenes filled with confrontations and life-threatening moments, it does get a bit tedious at times. The action and the pace pick up about halfway through the book and I was glad I stayed with it as various threads began to unravel or tie together, depending on the situation. And never fear: Cantore infuses plenty of heart-pounding moments into the final chapters! Perfectly timed to be read as political campaigns are heating up, this book and series will make a great addition to your fall reading list.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House 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.”


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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Witnesses

The Witnesses
Robert Whitlow
(Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1401688905
July 2016/400 pages/$15.99

Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.


Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina. Learn more at his website and visit him on Facebook and Twitter.


What a compelling story. I've enjoyed some of Robert Whitlow's books in the past but this is by far his finest offering. Whitlow combines past and present in this tale of regret, forgiveness, and generational impact. Credible and powerful personalities populate this novel, interweaving historical and contemporary settings and stories. Frank, Parker, Layla, and her father made an impression on me, each in their own way, as did others in the story, and I could not put this book down. This multi-faceted novel will appeal to lovers of legal thrillers, intrigue, WWII, Southern settings, short, it's a must-read for everyone!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from The Fiction Guild at Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson 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.”


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Monday, September 5, 2016

ACFW New Releases - September

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


Daughter of the Nile by Jill Eileen Smith -- Explore the exotic world of ancient Egypt and ponder the dilemma Siti faces when she leaves her homeland, her family, and the worship of her many gods, to live in Jerusalem where only Yahweh is worshiped. Can Siti leave her favorite goddess Bastet behind? Will she ever make sense of this land, it's strange worship of one God, and a husband who is as wise and ever-changing as the wind? (Biblical from Revell [Baker])

Contemporary Romance:

When Love Arrives by Johnnie Alexander -- Dani Prescott plans revenge when Brett Somers blames her mother for the plane crash that killed his parents. But the crash killed her mother as well, so Dani can't believe the story Brett's trying to sell to the media. She vows to find a way to discredit his story, but when she catches his eye instead, she offers up a fake name and agrees to a date—only to spy on him. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something, but he's got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

Feta and Freeways by Susan M. Baganz -- Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break, touring the country with their manager, Tia Bartel. Tia loved Niko for the longest time, but it's not until she steps in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he's worthy of her trust? As they journey on the freeway of life and love, they encounter struggles as they are forced to rely on their faith, and friends, to make it through. (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Sarah's Orphans by Vannetta Chapman -- Sarah Yoder belongs to a Plain community in Oklahoma, but her days are far from simple. After Sarah's bipolar father dies, her long-abused mother packs a bag and leaves Sarah behind with five needy siblings. Though exhausted with new responsibility, Sarah is finally at peace. Then she nearly runs over a small Hispanic boy with her buggy...and somehow finds herself sheltering two more orphans. Paul Byler moved to Cody's Creek to help his brother in a time of need. But now that Joseph has recovered from his heart attack, Paul's ready for a quiet place of his own. The only problem? His new property lands him next door to the orphaned Yoder family—and a calling from God he can't seem to ignore. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

Dance Over Me by Candee Fick -- Danielle Lefontaine, a fledgling actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage. But when a jealous cast member threatens to drop the curtain on her dreams, Danielle fears her one brilliant moment in the spotlight is about to become a dim memory. Alex Sheridan is living his dream. Playing the trumpet. Helping run his family s dinner theater. But there's a hole in his soul that can only be filled with the love of that "someone special" -- the better half of him. When "Dani" dances into his life, Alex thinks he's found his perfect partner. But will the bright lights of a bigger stage steal her away before they find their perfect song? (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Cozy Mystery:

Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep and Kelly Klepfer -- When the retirement center's chef is found dead, two retired sisters-in-law decide to solve the case, but their zany attempts to track down the killer leads them on a downward spiral into drugs, extortion, and worst of all. . . broken hearts. (Cozy Mystery from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

General Contemporary:

Faith Countryman by Lori Hartman Gervasi -- A beautiful woman with the spiritual gift of healing grows up, makes mistakes, and then steps into her destiny by moving to a small Northern California town one summer where she helps the residents find redemption and revival. (Contemporary from Waterfall Press)

Historical Romance:

Mountain Christmas Brides by Mildred Colvin, Mary Davis, Susan Page Davis, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, Debby Lee, Tamela Hancock Murray, Carrie Turansky, and Gina Welborn -- From a Wyoming ranch in 1880, to a logging camp in Washington Territory in the late 1800s, to Denver, Colorado, in 1913, meet nine couples who find that Christmas is the perfect time for climbing to the heights of romance. Watch as their faith and courage propel them through challenges that come with mountain winters to cozy fireside celebrations that lead to lasting proclamations of love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mattie's Pledge by Jan Drexler -- Since Mattie Schrock last saw her childhood sweetheart Jacob Yoder, they've both grown into different people with different dreams. Jacob yearns to settle down, but Mattie can't help but dream of what may lie over the western horizon. When a handsome Englisher tempts her to leave the Amish behind to search for adventure in the Wild West, will her pledge to Jacob be the anchor that holds her secure? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

You're the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo -- In 1928, Marjorie Corrigan thinks she sees her first love--believed killed in the Great War--alive and well in a train station. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White -- All her life, Lady Ella Myerston has been sheltered from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends. Unwilling to wait around for peril to strike again, she sets out on an adventurous journey to the Cotswolds. Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won't budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those intent on destroying them all? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

Breach of Trust by Jodie Bailey -- A former soldier teams up with the partner she thought was dead in order to expose a cybercriminal bent on terrorizing the US military. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble -- To supplement income from her family's failing blueberry farm, Kate Mason rents out the small cottage on the property, but it won't be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it's almost too good to be true. And maybe it is--because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family. The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But between Drake's family crises, news of an escaped murderer, and a local stalker's threats, there's no time for romance. Kate wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Game On by Lillian Duncan -- Congressman Lucas McMann believes he's the victim of a bizarre stalking game, but to stop them he needs proof--and help from an old friend. Private Investigator Nikki wants to refuse, but her new found faith tells her she should help him--even if he was the first man to break her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Widow by Denise Weimer -- In book two of The Restoration Trilogy, Jennifer Rushmore has overseen the restoration of brooding bachelor Michael's ancestors' doctor's house long enough to work through their initial differences. Now the apothecary shop discloses a heart-breaking tale circa 1870 Georgia, shaking loose Jennifer's own carefully suppressed past. She fears that when Michael sees beyond her facade, her tentative steps toward trust and love may disintegrate into rubble. On her journey to forgiveness, Jennifer draws on her new faith and friendships, even as the mysterious accidents clouding her first preservation job escalate into imminent danger. (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)


Killswitch by Victoria Buck -- The world's first transhuman finds his true calling, and it's not what his creators intended. (Speculative from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray
Dorothy Love
(Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-0718042448
June 2016/400 pages/$15.99

A general’s wife and a slave girl forge a friendship that transcends race, culture, and the crucible of Civil War.

Mary Anna Custis Lee is a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, wife of Confederate General Robert E Lee, and heiress to Virginia’s storied Arlington house and General Washington’s personal belongings.

Born in bondage at Arlington, Selina Norris Gray learns to read and write in the schoolroom Mary and her mother keep for the slave children, and eventually becomes Mary’s housekeeper and confidante. As Mary’s health declines, Selina becomes her personal maid, strengthening a bond that lasts until death parts them.

Forced to flee Arlington at the start of the Civil War, Mary entrusts the keys to her beloved home to no one but Selina. When Union troops begin looting the house, it is Selina who confronts their commander and saves many of its historic treasures.

In a story spanning crude slave quarters, sunny schoolrooms, stately wedding parlors, and cramped birthing rooms, novelist Dorothy Love amplifies the astonishing true-life account of an extraordinary alliance and casts fresh light on the tumultuous years leading up to and through the wrenching battle for a nation’s soul.


Born in the middle of the twentieth century, Dorothy Love is certain she arrived on Planet Earth a hundred years too late. An avid scholar of 19th century American history, she spends most of her time poking through museums, reading dusty books, and studying the journals of the Victorian-era women whose lives inspire her Southern historical novels.

She prefers a fountain pen to a computer keyboard, print books to digital downloads, and face to face conversations to 140 character tweets. Though she admits that modern technology makes it easier to stay in touch with her readers, whenever possible she avoids automated phone systems, online banking, and booking her own airline tickets. When she’s not busy researching or writing books or avoiding technology, she enjoys teaching at writers conferences. She is a former associate writer in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. She has taught at dozens of writers conferences nationwide including the Florida First Coast Writers Conference, the Columbus Ohio Writers Conference, the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the graduate program at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and was a featured author on the Writer to Writer series for Florida Public Television.

Dorothy enjoys traveling with her husband, collecting antique ephemera, and playing Frisbee with Jake, the couple’s golden retriever. A native Southerner, she currently lives in the Texas hill country.

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Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray is an engrossing novel on several levels. The primary focus, of course, of the relationship between Mary and Selina, provides insight into the complexity of the Southern culture in the 1800's. Mary and Selina's friendship and dependence on one another intrigued me, and Selina's loyalty in the face of her realization of the limits to Mary's friendship revealed her true loyalty and integrity. I previously knew nothing about General Robert E. Lee's wife, or her connection to President George Washington, and I was fascinated by this aspect of the story. In today's climate when some are removing statues, renaming schools, and attempting to erase this era from our nation's history, it is important that individuals such as Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray are not forgotten, as they were real individuals, flawed but authentic, and part of the fabric of our nation. Don't miss this compelling story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from The Fiction Guild at Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson 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.”


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