Heiress - Reviewed

Friday, September 30, 2011




Book Description:
They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.

But they can’t buy love.

The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.

Read an excerpt here http://www.susanmaywarren.com/blog/2011/06/01/heiress-sneak-peak-chapter-1/

My Thoughts: I was drawn into this book from page one and didn't stop until I finished the book. I read an interview that Susan gave about this book in Family Fiction that the story was loosely based on Jacob and Esau in the Bible, knowing that drew me in even more. Jinx is "cut" out to be an heiress from the tip of her head to the bottom of her toes. She enjoys all of the parties and such, Esme does not. She wants to write and work for her father, but can't get him to notice her. The twists and turns in this book will keep you up until late in the night. The guilded age has never been so fun, and full of intrigue. I highly recommend this book!

Win an opulent Gilded Age Prize Pack fit for an Heiress from Susan May Warren!

Enter 9/22-10/5!

Link to buy the book http://www.amazon.com/dp/1609362187/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=sprightly-20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=1609362187&adid=1JF1JHWKFXYX80AEG4NY



About Susan: Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder ofwww.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:www.susanmaywarren.com.

In Sheep's Clothing - Reviewed

Thursday, September 29, 2011





Book Description:
When entrepreneur Stephanie Miller meets successful accountant Jacob Wells, sparks fly, but at least they're the good kind. Their initial attraction to each other is evident, and their business skills compliment each other. Unfortunately they've both had bad luck with love in the past, but this time God is part of their relationship. So what could go wrong with a match made in heaven? For one, Stephanie launches a business with a new friend without telling Jacob about it. Oh, and that friend just happens to be someone Jacob used to date; someone who wants to break them up for her own nefarious reasons. Will Stephanie listen to her new best friend, or will she listen to her heart?

My Thoughts: This book will make you treasure your TRUE friends! Those ones who don't stab you in the back! I had a few of those I had to get rid of when I went through my divorce and I know the value of a true friend! There is a sweet romance between Jacob and Stephanie. Michelle really knows how to write a story that pulls at your heart and puts you right in the middle of the emotions. I could so identify with Steph and my heart hurt for all she was going through. I can't recommend this book enough! I give it a lighthouse and shine a light on it for pointing a path to God!

Preview: Dangerous Mercy

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dangerous Mercy
David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
by
Kathy Herman




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.



She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.



Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.



Kathy's husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. —Matthew 5:7



When eighty-five-year-old Adele Woodmore moves to Les Barbes to be near the Broussards—and her namesake, their daughter—she wants nothing more than a comfortable, quiet life. Employing men from Father Vince’s halfway house for the homeless to do odd jobs and landscaping, she delights in the casual conversation she has with them, the fledgling friendships, and the idea that she is helping them get back on their feet.



A series of murders in Les Barbes has cast a pall over the town and, in fact, one of Adele’s handymen becomes a person of interest to the police. But Adele cares for these young men, she knows them, and continues to show them kindness in spite of her friends’ concern. And then one day a murderer walks through Adele’s defenses, sits down at her kitchen table...and they begin to talk...



If you would like to read the first chapter of Dangerous Mercy, go HERE.

Fall Into Reading 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011



I have been involved in Katrina's reading challenges since I started my blog in 07. I really enjoy doing it. It's just a log of fun to do with the other bloggers.
It also helps me finish up books I need to.

My list

A Wedding Invitation - Alice J. Wisler

The Baker's Wife - Erin Healy

The Diary of a Teenage Girl - Melody Carlson

Shadowed in Silk - Christine Lyndsey

Love on the Line - Deanna Gist

Forsaking All Others - Allison Pittman

A Christmas Journey - Kathy Macias

The Wonder of Your Love - Beth Wiseman

Reclaiming Lily - Patti Lacy

Sheep's Clothing - Michelle Sutton

Deeply Devoted - Reviewed




Book Description:
When Catharine Olsen leaves Holland for Wyoming as a mail-order bride, she brings some extra baggage with her: two sisters, her mother's set of Blue Willow china, and a tragic past. As she steps off the train, Peter Andersen is glad to see that she is everything her letters showed her to be. But he is a bit perturbed by her unexpected companions. How will he support them all? And what other secrets might Catharine be keeping from him?

Filled with sweet romance and vivid characters, Deeply Devoted highlights a clash of cultures as a highborn European and a simple wheat farmer learn to love one another and trust God with the past—and the future.

My Thoughts: Catharine and her sisters had me giggling so many times, and poor Peter. He has waited for this mail-order bride to arrive however he was not prepared for her two sisters Anna and Greta to come with her. The girls were use to having servants in Holland and here in Wyoming they were the ones that were going to be doing the chores. They had no idea how to tend a garden, milk a cow, cook, wash or any other household chores. It was so fun to watch these girls learn the way of the west, and the love story between Peter and Catharine was so sweet! I was actually reading this during a football game and I never do that! Highly recommended!!!

Preview: Captive Trail

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Captive Trail
Moody Publishers (September 1, 2011)
by
Susan Page Davis


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


From Susan: I've always loved reading, history, and horses. These things come together in several of my historical books. My young adult novel, Sarah's Long Ride, also spotlights horses and the rugged sport of endurance riding, as does the contemporary romance Trail to Justice. I took a vocational course in horseshoeing after earning a bachelor's degree in history. I don't shoe horses anymore, but the experience has come in handy in writing my books.

Another longtime hobby of mine is genealogy, which has led me down many fascinating paths. I'm proud to be a DAR member! Some of Jim's and my quirkier ancestors have inspired fictional characters.

For many years I worked for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel as a freelancer, covering local government, school board meetings, business news, fires, auto accidents, and other local events, including a murder trial. I've also written many profiles and features for the newspaper and its special sections. This experience was a great help in developing fictional characters and writing realistic scenes. I also published nonfiction articles in several magazines and had several short stories appear in Woman's World, Grit, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

My husband, Jim, and I moved to his birth state, Oregon, for a while after we were married, but decided to move back to Maine and be near my family. We're so glad we did. It allowed our six children to grow up feeling close to their cousins and grandparents, and some of Jim's family have even moved to Maine!

Our children are all home-schooled. The two youngest are still learning at home. Jim recently retired from his vocation as an editor at a daily newspaper, and we’ve moved from Maine to Kentucky.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Captive Trail is second in a six-book series about four generations of the Morgan family living, fighting, and thriving amidst a turbulent Texas history spanning from 1845 to 1896. Although a series, each book can be read on its own.

Taabe Waipu has run away from her Comanche village and is fleeing south in Texas on a horse she stole from a dowry left outside her family’s teepee. The horse has an accident and she is left on foot, injured and exhausted. She staggers onto a road near Fort Chadbourne and collapses.

On one of the first runs through Texas, Butterfield Overland Mail Company driver Ned Bright carries two Ursuline nuns returning to their mission station. They come across a woman who is nearly dead from exposure and dehydration and take her to the mission.

With some detective work, Ned discovers Taabe Waipu identity. He plans to unite her with her family, but the Comanche have other ideas, and the two end up defending the mission station. Through Taabe and Ned we learn the true meaning of healing and restoration amid seemingly powerless situations.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Captive Trail, go HERE.

Please Welcome Adina Senft to RADIANT LIGHT . .

Sunday, September 25, 2011




If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?
Ha! When I was little I wanted so badly to be Veronica (I read a lot of Archie comic books). I even asked my mother to call me that—and you can imagine the response THAT got. But when I was in Greece (doing the backpacking-through-Europe thing at 21) I found out Adina derives from Athena—in Greek they’re pronounced the same way—and then I decided I loved my name.

Your first pet’s name?
Snowball. She was a black cat with white socks.

Your best friend’s name in elementary school?
I had two—Cathy and Janet. We went everywhere together. Needless to say, when my family moved when I was in seventh grade, it took me nearly a year to get over the trauma.

Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.
I was never much on toys because in our neighborhood, those were for rainy days. On every other kind of day, we were outside having adventures in the forest behind our houses, usually scripted by me since I was the oldest. I can’t tell you the number of cruel orphanages we escaped from, how many tree cities we built, or how many pirate ships we crewed—but the roots of my love of storytelling are deep in that forest.

What's your favorite movie?
Hands down, the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Moviemaking just isn’t going to get better than that.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Wow. Bravery means different things to different people. As a child, I was crippled by shyness. When we’d go over to someone’s house, and I didn’t know them, I’d hide behind the couch and spend the whole evening there with a book. I struggled with it for years, right into adulthood. So I suppose that first major public speaking experience (I was the commencement speaker for my M.A. graduating class) was brave—for me. After I got done throwing up in the bathroom beforehand, that is.

If you could meet a famous person, who would it be?
I would love to have met Princess Diana. On the aforementioned backpacking trip through Europe, I was in London for the royal wedding and saw her go by in the coach on the way to Buckingham Palace from St. Paul’s.

Please describe your writing environment.
I have an office that contains a desk for my MacBook Pro and also a stand-up workstation for my iMac. The office has bookshelves and a huge armoire that holds supplies. But I don’t actually write in there—it’s for doing email and promotional things and accounting. On sunny days I take my AlphaSmart Neo out into the garden, let the chickens out, and while they hunt for bugs and seeds, I write. I have a plastic garden chair that I move around as the chickens make their rounds, and in some places my husband has cut chunks of wood to form a bench for me. In the winter, I write in the living room by the fire. So basically the whole property is my office!

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite right now is Kristin Hannah. She told me once that she has an awful time plotting, so her books go deep instead of wide. Every time I read one, it’s a graduate course in characterization and emotion.

What’s been the most challenging part of writing for you?
Getting to page 100. With every book, it seems to take forever to get there as I struggle with my characters and their motivations and plot events. But once I pass that magic number, something clicks in my head and after that, it’s smooth sailing. Maybe it’s because all the heavy lifting is done in the first third of the book, and the last two thirds are just watching the story threads tangle, untangle, and play out as they should for what I hope is a satisfying read.

Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?
My husband is my biggest fan. He reads my manuscripts for technical and logistical detail. He walks around with my bookmarks in his pocket. He hands out postcards in the grocery checkout line. He loves to tell people about my books—and I love him for that and many other reasons. Plus, he’s a great cook!

What gift have you received that you will always treasure?
I grew up in a plain church where jewelry (including engagement rings), makeup, and some clothing for women (anything red, or trousers) were forbidden. So were open-toed shoes (and heaven help you if you bought red open-toed shoes!). So the first Christmas after I came out of that church and was struggling to figure out how to dress and do my hair (which before had to be uncut and then pinned up), my Christmas present from my husband was a pearl necklace. Classic, elegant, and unassuming—the perfect jewelry to start a new life with. Every time I wear it I’m reminded of how perceptive and thoughtful he is.

What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?
Right now I’m reading the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire cycle by George R.R. Martin. I haven’t read much fantasy other than J.R.R. Tolkien and my students’ work (I’m a graduate writing teacher), but this series is mind-bending. It’s horrendously violent and there’s much hewing and slaying and cruelty, but the characterization and the sheer scope and detail of the world Martin builds are giving me lots to study. Plus I like the dragons.

What inspires your writing?
My books begin with a “flash” of an opening scene, like a trailer for a movie. I see people and places and maybe an event, but I don’t really know the plot that leads to and from that point. The story ideas come from places like People magazine, the newspaper, YouTube, overheard conversations, a show on the Discovery Channel, you name it. Everything goes into a pot boiling away in the back of my brain, and before long a story comes out. For The Wounded Heart, I knew I wanted to write about something that had happened to a friend—she was misdiagnosed with a chronic disease, but found out much later that what she had was mercury poisoning from the fillings in her teeth—but it wasn’t until I got a “flash” of a young Amish woman struggling to get two little boys into a buggy with one arm that wouldn’t work, that the story really gelled and I knew exactly where it was going to go.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was bitten by the writing bug when I was 8, when I turned in a short story about a ghost in a graveyard, and my teacher wrote on it that I’d scared her. Of course she was just being kind, but it opened my eyes to the fact that a writer could affect the emotions of her readers with words. That set me on a track that led to my first completed novel at the tender age of 13, a BA in Literature, an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and over 20 published novels.

What inspired you to write the genre that you write?
I’ve learned to be sensitive to that breeze on the back of my neck that tells me a window has opened behind me while I was staring at the closed door in front. This series was a breeze like that. An idea. A shivery feeling on the back of my neck. A pitch over a salad. A sale. I’d been writing romances and women’s fiction and YA, but had never thought to write about the Amish. And then that breeze came—the one that said, “You grew up in similar circumstances. You could do this.” The research curve was very steep, but equally rewarding. I’ve met some really amazing Amish women who have taught me a thing or two about the meaning of work and sacrifice. Not to mention how to make tiny pleats in a prayer covering and whip up a really great pie.

The Wounded Heart: An Amish Quilt Novel ~ Reviewed



Book Description:
When a business offer turns into something more personal, Amelia is torn between what logic tells her is right, and the desire of her heart.
A widow with two small children, Amelia Beiler is struggling to make ends meet. She is running her late husband's business, but it's not what she was raised to do, which is run a home. When she gets an offer for the business from Eli Fischer, she's only too relieved to consider it-especially when it looks like Eli's interest might include more than just the shop. But when she begins to experience strange physical symptoms and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it's difficult not to question God's will. If she pursues the treatment she believes in, she risks going under the bann. But how can she allow Eli to court her when she can't promise him a future?

Includes instructions to make the quilt block featured in the novel.

My Thoughts: Amelia is a widow with two small boys, running her late husband's pallet business. When she begins having medical issues that not only throw her for a loop, the treatments go against her religious leaders. If that wasn't enough for her, Eli the man who is running the pallet shop is interested in her, but she doesn't want to be a burden to him. This is the first book in a trilogy and I was quite taken with it. I found myself quite annoyed with the religious leaders. I highly recommend this one!

Megan's Secrets - Reviewed

Friday, September 23, 2011




Book Description:
She was a beautiful pint-sized girl with a big love. And the best scholars in the world couldn't teach what she did in her brief life. Megan died at age ten. But her life has exposed some of the insanities of the world and revealed four life-giving secrets.

One secret is simply this: Second choices don't mean we miss out on life. Sometimes our second choices define and shape us in ways we'd never change even if we could.

Lovingly written by Megan's father, this unique inspirational book wraps these four secrets in stories that will restore hope to those grieving a death or second choice, and all who have a heart for a spunky little girl whose only spoken words were, ''I'm Megan!''

All readers who long to see modern-day examples of the ''little ones'' Jesus held on his lap and loved will be inspired and moved to laugh and cry and exult in God's incredible wisdom spoken through a disabled child.

What Mike discovers is that life with Megan--who slept only three hours a night--was exhausting, challenging, even disappointing, but also filled with joy and secrets that he s ready to tell the world.

My thoughts: Mike Cope's daughter lived to the age of 10. Yet in those 10 years she taught him more about life than someone who lived to be 80. In a society who focuses on outward appearance Mike learned from his daughter the beauty of the heart. This touching father's story is one that will make you laugh, cheer, and cry. I highly recommend it!

Deadly Pursuit ~ Reviewed

Thursday, September 22, 2011



Book Description:

As a social worker, Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children and seeing that justice is served on their behalf. But when she starts getting harassing phone calls and bizarre "gifts," it seems she may be the one in need of protection. When her tormentor's attentions take a violent turn, her brother Cole comes to her aid, along with his new partner, Detective Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Protecting Alison has become more than just a job--because his own happiness now depends on keeping her safe.
Chock full of nail-biting suspense and heart-melting romance, Deadly Pursuit is Irene Hannon's storytelling at its very best. Fans old and new will not want to miss the next story in this series starring siblings fighting for justice.

My Thoughts: I had a really hard time getting into this one. I really enjoyed the first one in the series, for some reason I just couldn't get into this one. Please don't let that keep you from this book. If you enjoy suspense with romance then grab a copy of this book!

Passion To Action - Reviewed

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



Book Description:

One family makes a daring decision, discovers the power of purpose, and encounters a God-sized passion for living. Something kept pulling at Jay and Beth Loecken, telling them there’s more to life than the pursuit of a large home, nice cars, and all the trinkets and trappings for a suburban family of six. They felt something stirring, a feeling that God had a different purpose for them, and they knew they had to do something—something big—to get started. Passion to Action is one ordinary family’s tale of pursuing an extraordinary dream. It’s a story about asking big questions, seeking answers every day, and along the way discovering a big faith. What happens if you make a dramatic change? How does God sustain you in your new life? What will the people around you say? Find out for yourself what happens while listening to the journey of Jay and Beth Loecken. See just how far God takes them in their desire simply to serve - as a family - in soup kitchens, community projects, and churches across America. In this audio you’ll hear about Beth’s personal struggle with a troubling past, Jay’s battles with ambition, and the amazing solution they discover as they inspire others to take ten real steps to finding meaning and purpose. Through the story of the Loeckens, see how God leads us to places we’d never imagine, be inspired to better live from your life’s passion, and find the courage to turn it to action.

A family who had everything paid off . . . yet had a hunger in their soul. They made a big change and took their family on a missions trip to Africa and found what they were missing. This is a book that will inspire you to take a look at yourself and where you are storing your treasures. A definite must read!

A Heart Revealed ~ Reviewed





Book Description:
Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston as a battered woman, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known?

Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold readers in its grip until the very last page.

My Thoughts: Julie has done it again, kept me up late into the night reading her amazing book! This book had me cheering for Sean and Emma and wanting to strangle Luke, Mitch, and a few others! I don't want to say too much to give it all away. I am very sad that this is the end of the O'Conner family saga. I will end this review with this . . . this was posted on my daughter's youth leader's facebook wall and I thought it was so appropriate for this book.

We need to teach our daughters to distinguish between a man who flatters her and a man who compliments her .... a man who spends money on her and a man who invests in her .... a man who views her as property and a man who views her properly ..... a man who lusts after her and a man who loves her ..... a man who believes he is God's gift to women and a man who remembers a woman was God's gift to man. And we need to teach our sons to be those men.

I give this book a lighthouse and shine a light on it for pointing a path to God! Way to go Julie!!!!

Preview: Naomi's Gift

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Naomi's Gift
Zondervan (September 12, 2011)
by
Amy Clipston




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



From Amy:

A native of New Jersey, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I often joke that my fiction writing “career” began in elementary school as I wrote and shared silly stories with a close friend.



In 1991, I graduated from high school, and my parents and I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia. My father retired, and my mother went to work full-time. I attended Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, and I graduated with a degree in communications. I met my husband, Joe, during my senior year in college, a few days after my father had a massive stroke. Joe and I clicked instantly, and after a couple of months we started dating. We married four years later.



After graduating from VWC, I took a summer job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, which turned into an eleven-year career. I worked in the Public Affairs Office for four years and then moved into Planning as a writer/editor.



One day while surfing the Internet for a professional editor’s group, I accidentally found a local fiction writing group, Chesapeake Romance Writers. I attended a meeting and I met writers in all stages of their careers. The group helped me realize that I did want to be an author, and it was my dream to see my name on the cover of one of my novels. Through Chesapeake Romance Writers, I learned how to plot, write, and edit a novel, and I also learned how to pursue an agent. I signed with Mary Sue Seymour at the Seymour Agency in 2006, shortly before Joe and I moved my parents and our sons to North Carolina.



My dream came true when I sold my first book in 2007. Holding my first book, A Gift of Grace, in my hands was exhilarating and surreal.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. You'll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the 'English' way of life---and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families. Naomi's Gift re-introduces twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches---a time of family, faith, and hope for many others---Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down. Naomi's story of romantic trial and error and youthful insecurities has universal appeal. Author Amy Clipston artfully paints a panorama of simple lives full of complex relationships, and she carefully explores cultural differences and human similarities, with inspirational results. Naomi's Gift includes all the details of Amish life that Clipston's fans enjoy, while delivering the compelling stories and strong characters that continue to draw legions of new readers.



If you'd like to read the first chapter of Naomi's Gift, go HERE.

A Lancaster County Christmas - Reviewed

Tuesday, September 20, 2011




Book Description:
Jaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do--in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they've drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits.
Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for--news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn't likely to become a reality.

Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home--and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?

With her trademark plot twists and attention to detail, Suzanne Woods Fisher offers readers a beautiful Christmas story of love, forgiveness, and what truly matters in life.

My Thoughts: I can't believe it's already time to review Christmas books. :) In fact today my husband and I put the grandkids Christmas ornaments on layaway.
This was a touching story and the setting was ideal. It put me right in the mood for Christmas. I am a huge fan of Suzanne Fisher and she did not disappoint in this book.
You know those couples who seem to "have it all together" that describes Jamie and C.J. to a tee! Yet things just don't seem to be as they make it look on the outside. Then you have Mattie and Sol who don't have as much yet come to realize how blessed they really are. This is a perfect Christmas book! I highly recommend!



Link to buy the book http://www.amazon.com/Lancaster-County-Christmas-Suzanne-Fisher/dp/0800719956/ref=sprightly-20


Susan can be found at her website www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

Fairer Than Morning - Reviewed




Book Description: In 1826, Ann Miller travels to Pittsburgh with her widowed father and two young sisters, only to find that a mysterious man has pursued them all the way from Ohio. Is Ann's father just a circuit minister, or is he hiding something that may endanger them all?

Will Hanby indentures with a Pittsburgh saddler maker, only to discover that his master is a cold-hearted tyrant. After years of abuse, Will becomes a prisoner of his own mind. But then lovely Ann Miller comes to stay next door and her compassion lights a long-dark part of Will's soul. His renewed courage puts his life in jeopardy as he begins to assist fugitive slaves.

Will's murderous master and Ann's questions about her family may keep both of them bound in the shadows forever. Or will they find freedom-together?

My Thoughts: This was not your average historical novel. I was gripped from page one and it carried all the way through. This is my first Rosslyn Elliot novel but it clearly will not be my last! She definitely has a way to not only keep you on the edge of your seat, and also portray the historical setting. I highly recommend this book!!!

In The Sea There Are Crocodiles ~ Reviewed




Book Description: When ten-year-old Enaiatollah Akbari’s small village in Afghanistan falls prey to Taliban rule in early 2000, his mother shepherds the boy across the border into Pakistan but has to leave him there all alone to fend for himself. Thus begins Enaiat’s remarkable and often punish­ing five-year ordeal, which takes him through Iran, Turkey, and Greece before he seeks political asylum in Italy at the age of fifteen.

Along the way, Enaiat endures the crippling physical and emotional agony of dangerous border crossings, trekking across bitterly cold mountain pathways for days on end or being stuffed into the false bottom of a truck. But not every­one is as resourceful, resilient, or lucky as Enaiat, and there are many heart-wrenching casualties along the way.

Based on Enaiat’s close collaboration with Italian novelist Fabio Geda and expertly rendered in English by an award- winning translator, this novel reconstructs the young boy’s memories, perfectly preserving the childlike perspective and rhythms of an intimate oral history.

Told with humor and humanity, In the Sea There Are Crocodiles brilliantly captures Enaiat’s moving and engaging voice and lends urgency to an epic story of hope and survival.

My Thoughts: This book had a slow start yet once I got into it it was a touching story. I found myself in tears several times. Enaiat's story isn't like so many we hear on the news, yet this was personal as it was told to someone. I highly recommend this book!

WINNERS OF MY GIVEAWAY ARE:
ROSIE & AMANDA SUE!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

Preview: Here's To Friends

Monday, September 19, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Here’s to Friends
David C. Cook (September 1, 2011)
by
Melody Carlson




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.



She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever.



Decades later, they're all back home in Clifden and reinventing their lives, but the holidays bring a whole new set of challenges. Abby’s new B&B is getting bad reviews and husband Paul is acting strange. Still grieving for her mom, Caroline is remodeling the family home, but boyfriend Mitch keeps pressuring her to go away with him. Artist Marley, distracted by a friend's family drama (and a touch of jealousy), can't find her creative groove. And Janie’s drug-addicted daughter has just appeared up on her doorstep! When a long-planned New Year's cruise turns into a bumpy ride, they learn once again that, in your fifties, friends aren’t just for fun—they're a necessity!



If you would like to read the first chapter of Here’s to Friends, go HERE.

Preview: The Doctor's Lady

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Doctor's Lady
Bethany House (September 1, 2011)
by
Jody Hedlund




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jody has written novels for the last 18 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).



Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), hit the CBA Best Seller list on two different occasions and has won multiple awards.



Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released this September. She has completed a third book which will be released in 2012. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!



ABOUT THE BOOK



Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.



Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Doctor's Lady, go HERE.



Watch the book trailer:



Giveaway:Night Circus




Book Description:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My Friend Mary is giving away a copy of this great new book THE NIGHT CIRCUS on her blog
Here is the link http://maryinhb.blogspot.com/2011/09/giveaway-review-night-circus-by-erin.html

You don't want to miss this book!

Gabby's God's Little Angel

Tudor Throne - Reviewed

Tuesday, September 13, 2011




Book Description: In the wake of King Henry VIII's death, England's throne is left in a precarious state—as is the peculiar relationship between his two daughters. Mary, the elder, once treasured, had been declared a bastard in favor of her flame-haired half-sister, Elizabeth, born of the doomed Anne Boleyn. Yet the bond between the sisters was palpable from the start. Now reinstated, Mary eventually assumes her place as queen. But as Mary's religious zeal evolves into a reign of terror, young Elizabeth gains the people's favor. Gripped by a tormenting paranoia, Mary is soon convinced that her beloved Elizabeth is in fact her worst enemy. And the virginal Elizabeth, whose true love is her country, must defy her tyrannical sister to make way for a new era. . .

A brilliant portrait of the rule of "Bloody Mary" and her intricate relationship with Elizabeth I, the adored "Virgin Queen," here is a riveting tale of one family's sordid and extraordinary chapter in the pages of history.

My Thoughts: Brandy does an excellent job of taking you right into the Tudor period, England with the gallant dresses, hairstyles, and architecture. You are drawn right in to the upheaval of infighting that has been going on for years in England. This book is told in alternating points of view between Mary and Elizabeth. I was drawn right into this book and loved it from the first page. If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory and the Tudors I highly recommend this book . . you will not be disappointed!

My So Called Life As A Proverbs 31 Wife

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife: A One-Year Experiment...and Its Surprising Results

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Sara Horn is a wife and mom, a writer, author and founder of Wives of Faith, a military wives ministry. She’s a sought-after media guest and writer of numerous articles and books including GOD Strong and the Gold Medallion nominee A Greater Freedom cowritten with bestselling author Oliver North. She’s devoted to her husband who serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves, crazy about her son, and passionate about her ministry to women. Please visit

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Sara Horn, a busy writer and mother, deemed the Proverbs 31 wife to be an impossible ideal. Or is it? This surprising, heartfelt personal account of Sara’s one-year experiment reveals how even a domestically-challenged woman can embrace God’s purpose and encourages readers to pursue God’s amazing plan for their lives.







Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939415
ISBN-13: 978-0736939416

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Oh Be Careful What You Preach



Yesterday was Sunday.

Our pastor started a new sermon series on the family. We missed the first sermon last week, but we were there yesterday for the second. The first week was “Dads Matter More than Anything.” This week’s was titled “Moms Matter Just as Much.”

Good to know.

As the pastor got started, I pulled out my Bible and my notebook, all ready to take notes. But then he said something that made my stomach churn. My hands instinctively made fists. My eyebrows furrowed.

The biblical passage he was speaking from was Proverbs 31.

Of course, I muttered to myself, turning to the passage I revere and fear at the same time.

The Proverbs 31 wife and I don’t get along very well. I don’t appreciate how bad she makes me look. I don’t like the guilt I feel when I see her. If she is the standard all Christian wives should work toward, then I’m in serious trouble. If she’s the equivalent of Miss America, then I’m a whole lot more like Lucille Ball. I have a lot of explaining to do for why I’m not more like Miss America. And I’m not really sure I can.

The pastor started making his points:

An Excellent Wife Is a Rare Find (v. 10).
An Excellent Wife Can Be Trusted in Every Way (vv. 11-12).
An Excellent Wife Is Concerned for Others (v. 20).
An Excellent Wife Is Strong and Stable (v. 25).
And so it went.

I stopped taking notes at “An Excellent Wife Is a Tireless Worker.”

My husband glanced over at me when he heard my notebook snap shut. He knows that’s never a good sign. Neither was the steam coming out of my ears and the laser stare in my eyes. He started looking for the exits, just in case.

I don’t like it when men tell women what will make us excellent. I don’t consider myself a feminist at all, but I just don’t think men can possibly understand the woman any more than we can understand the man. That’s why Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus was written. Eve may have been formed from the man’s rib, but she definitely had a mind of her own. And maybe, just maybe, if Adam had taken more time to understand her, the whole scene with the apple and the garden might have gone a lot better. Just sayin’.

Part of my struggle with the treatment of the fairer sex comes from the attitudes I’ve witnessed through the church denomination I’ve partly grown up and worked in. I agree with a lot that my denomination stands for. But when it comes to the treatment and attitudes about the service of women in the church, it often leaves me with the same feeling I get when I hear fingernails scratch down a chalkboard.

What I don’t understand is why there’s this 21-verse list of what the perfect wife is and not at least a Top 10 of what makes a perfect husband. I raised this question once on Facebook, and a guy I know who is deep into seminary classes pointed out that Ephesians 5:25-28 is an all-encompassing directive for husbands. See what you think:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Really? That’s great. Husbands are told to love their wives as they love themselves, and wives are given a laundry list of ways to show our love (just in case we might get confused and think the husband, as part of his love, might also “get up while it’s still dark and provide food” for his family). Husbands—you show love. Wives—get to cookin’.

Back to my stewing. I sat, listening to our pastor as he continued to speak on all the things that make an excellent wife, from the example of the Proverbs 31 superwoman:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
(Proverbs 31:10-31)

I kept reading this passage, over and over, the successes of this great wifely role model taunting me more than encouraging me, my very being wilting and shrinking as I sat there, no comparison to this giant of an example. I was waiting, for what, I didn’t know. Waiting for something—a bright glimmer, anything that my pastor might say to give all the wives sitting in the audience, or maybe just me, some hope. He didn’t let me down. His last point was the same point I have made in the past: The Proverbs 31 woman’s most important task is to fear the Lord (v. 30).

My breathing relaxed a little. This, after all, was something I understood. Of course, I want to be a better wife and homemaker. I want to be a better woman in general. But my greatest desire is to be closer to God as his daughter. I want that close, incredible relationship with him.

I haven’t always done well with this. If God and I were going for a walk in the park, I’d be the kid running out in front, barely able to wait for him. Patience is not my strength. Waiting on God is hard.

I began to prayerfully think over the pounding of my heart, the churning of my stomach, and my fingers digging into my thighs. OK, so why am I so mad? Am I mad at the Proverbs 31 wife? Am I upset with the pastor? Am I angry at myself? I mean, I argued with myself. Wouldn’t it be great if you COULD be like the Proverbs 31 wife—if you were praying and reading the Bible and really staying in touch with God every day? Couldn’t God help you do it all?

He could if he wanted to, I’m sure. I’m just not convinced he wants me to be able to do it all. I’m not even convinced that the Proverbs 31 wife was real. I mean, I grew up being told King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, and he wasn’t exactly a role model when it came to women. He liked having as many wives as he could, and in fact it was his infatuation for the opposite sex that got him into trouble toward the end of his reign.

What if this woman we’ve all idolized and tried to emulate is just a concoction from King Solomon and a group of his royal cronies who sat around one day, drinking beers, and decided to have an impromptu brainstorming session on what makes the perfect wife? And some servant of his wrote all of these ideas down on a big Post-it note and it eventually made its way into Proverbs with all the other wise things Solomon wrote? In fact, my Bible notes that verses 10-31, the Proverbs 31-wife passage, is actually an acrostic. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. See? I told you it was a drinking game.1

Or if this woman really did exist, then maybe she was like the Martha Stewart of her day, and I’m sure the majority of the women living in that time didn’t like her and didn’t appreciate her. And while they watched her television shows and read her magazine, Housekeeping in the Holy Land, behind closed doors, they lived in fear and guilt that one day their husbands would come home and say, “Why can’t you be more like the Proverbs 31 wife?”

But then I got a crazy idea. Why can’t I be more like the Proverbs 31 wife? What would it be like to try and actually follow the example of this woman so many hold in such esteem?

I definitely had some things to think about.


My Thoughts: I found this to be a light hearted, yet very inspirational book. I liked how it wasn't so deep in thought.

The Queen - Reviewed

Monday, September 12, 2011




Book Description: While investigating a mysterious double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that ties together long-buried Cold War secrets with present-day tensions in the Middle East.

In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a pulse-pounding, multilayered storytelling tour de force that will keep you guessing.

The Queen is the latest Patrick Bowers thriller from the author Publishers Weekly calls a "master storyteller at the peak of his game."

My Thoughts: For some reason I just couldn't get into this book. I was rather bummed because I have read and enjoyed the other books in the series. I think my brain is on overload with my husband's accident and I just couldn't get in to it. If you enjoy thriller books don't pass this one up! Steven James is one to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Preview: Wings of a Dream

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wings of A Dream
Bethany House (September 1, 2011)
by
Anne Mateer




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



While I have been writing for what feels like my whole life, I began seriously studying the craft in 2000. Since then I have completed five novels, had several pieces published in local periodicals, attended six writing conferences and managed to final in ACFW's Genesis contest in 2006, 2008, and 2009. My first historical novel, Wings of a Dream, will be released in September 2011, with another historical novel to follow in 2012. But writing is only a piece of my life.



I am mostly just a woman trying to live her life in a manner pleasing to the Lord. That involves being a wife to Jeff and a mother to my three teenagers--neither role coming easily but both roles stretching me, requiring me to press in closer to Jesus. And because of this, Jesus has taken an insecure, fearful, sometimes angry girl and is turning her into a more trusting, peaceful, grace-filled woman. At least some of the time. There is still such a long way to go!



ABOUT THE BOOK



Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.



But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Wings of A Dream, go HERE.

Preview: Pirate of My Heart

Friday, September 9, 2011

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Pirate of My Heart

B&H Books (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, B&H Publishing Group, A Division of LifeWay Christian Resources for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jamie Carie is the author of Snow Angel, a ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, USA Book News National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third novel, Wind Dancer, was a 2010 Indiana State Library Best Books of Indiana finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Indianapolis.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805448152
ISBN-13: 978-0805448153


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



PROLOGUE

Arundel, England 1777

The grey clouds of dawn shivered against the paned glass of the castle, shrouding the three figures at the side of the four-poster bed in an eerie light. The raging storm of the night before had settled into a dreary misting rain though an occasional jagged flash of lightning flaunted its power, not yet ready to relinquish its right to ravish the leaden sky. Dim light clung to the faces of those inside the bedchamber where the very walls seemed to echo the anguish felt inside the room.

All that could be heard in the chamber was the shallow, labored breathing of the one abed. A frail creature, now, pale and lifeless after the travails of childbirth. The others included the old family doctor, Radley, who hovered beside his patient and friend of many years with a strained look in his eyes. Hovering in the shadows was Bridget, the lady's long-standing nurse and companion. But their suffering was not to be compared to the tall, handsome gentleman who knelt at the woman's bedside, her hand clasped in his; a haunted look in his eyes that attested to the fact that he too feared the end was near for his beloved.

He gazed down at the limp form of his wife. She lay so still, so pale, sunk into the feather mattress as if she'd become a part of it. In a matter of hours she'd become a shallow breathing shell of the bright and glorious women she had once been. How was he to live without her? His heart spasmed with the thought.

He held his breath as her thin, white eyelids opened to reveal pain-racked eyes the color of bluebells. She exerted a small strength in squeezing his hand while a serene smile played at her lips. Her voice was a weak whisper. "I will not be leaving you forever, my darling. Our daughter will grow strong and always be a symbol of the love we shared."

"No." Edward groaned in anguish, his head falling forward, his hand clasping tight as if to force his strength into her. "I will not let you go."

"Love her, Edward, love her with all that you are." Lady Eileen closed her eyes seeming to gather what little strength she had to continue speaking. A small, whimpering sound came from the shadows of the room where Bridget held the newborn babe to her bosom. Lady Eileen opened her eyes at the sound. "Please, let me hold my sweet child."

The nurse skirted around the bed with the tiny bundle, her eyes bright with tears. "She's the mos' beautiful of babes, my lady, truly she is." She laid the wee babe in her mother's fragile arms.

His wife stared down at their daughter and then looked up at him. Her voice became fierce but still so quiet Edward had to lean in to catch the words. "This one has a special purpose in life and I expect you all to care for her as I would have."

Edward could only nod, mute and staring, aching with grief.

"I have one more request to ask of you, my love." Her breath rasped in and out causing the panic in Edward's stomach to claw into his chest like a nightmare's hand, but he nodded for her to continue and clung to her hand.

"My greatest joy in life has been you. I want her to find love, someone to share her life with who is as kind, as loving and wonderful as I have had in you." She rested a moment before continuing. "Let her choose, Edward, do not make a match for her. I know it is right." She gasped for a final breath. "I've made provision. In my will . . . no entailments, Edward. Give her the dragonfly brooch as a promise from me that I will be looking down from heaven to keep her safe."

"Of course, my darling, anything you ask I will do."

A small smile touched Eileen's lips as she gazed at their beautiful child for the last time. With a single tear sliding down her cheek she kissed the light fuzz on the child's head. "I love you." She breathed the words with her last breath, barely audible, and then she went still.

Edward collapsed over her limp hand still clutched in his strong one. "No," he cried with ragged breath. He brought the hand to his check, soaking it with his tears, willing her to come back to him.



CHAPTER ONE
Arundel, England - 1796

Kendra stopped halfway down the path that led to the stables, happiness lifting her heart at the autumn scene. The leaves had turned into a crimson, sunny yellow and carroty riot of color, as if a magician had waved a wand during the night and created a new world. She stepped across the lawn, feeling the kind of happiness that burst against the walls of her chest, stopping long enough to turn in slow circles so to watch the waving leaf show. She closed her eyes, still slowly twirling and smiled up toward heaven, humming a simple song of praise to God. The notes of her song danced around her and made a happy knot form in her throat. There was nothing she loved more than singing praises to God. Her father had instilled his love for God in her since she was a child - always making sure they had a curate in the village residence for weekly services at St. Nicholas Parish Church, praying with her each night before bedtime and teaching her scriptures and hymns. Most of all, he’d been an example of someone who was temperate, kind and patient. They had memorized the scripture about the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - and often reminded each other of the one they should practice when the occasion called for it. She wished so much to be like him but sometimes her best intentions went awry and she fell short, far short of her father’s shining example.

The sound of wheels crunching over dead leaves gave her pause. She stopped, turned toward the horse-shoe drive at the front of the castle and saw a shiny black post-chaise carriage. Who could it be? They had not seen visitors in so long. Kendra hurried toward the entrance to meet their guest, then came to an abrupt stop and clasped her hands in front of her dress. She held her breath as a tall, handsome man sprang from the carriage. He was dressed in a waist-coat of navy wool with an intricately knotted necktie at his throat, cream colored breeches and matching hose. She lifted her gaze to his face. Her jaw dropped with surprise. The face staring back at her looked like the one in her bedchamber mirror each morning . . . except for the color of his eyes.
Andrew Townsend matched his nieces startling gape as he found himself looking into the younger, female version of himself. Surely this was not Edward's daughter! She could have been his own child. Recovering from his shock with more effort than he'd exerted in months, Andrew questioned the young lady. "And who might this lovely creature be? A relative of mine, perhaps?"

She curtsied and smiled up at him. "I'm Kendra Townsend sir, and who might you be?" Her smile was soft and contagious, so irresistible that Andrew found himself thawing in her presence.

"I am Andrew Townsend, your uncle, my dear." He held out his hand in greeting. "I am most pleased to finally meet you. It seems we bear a striking resemblance to one another."

"You're very handsome." She stated with bold faced honesty.

Andrew let out a bark of laughter. "Well. Thank you, I'm sure. Now, would you be so kind as to show me to your father? I have some business to conduct with him."

"Of course, sir." Kendra replied as she reached for his arm. "Your papa's brother, his twin, aren't you?" Her eyes lit up as she led him through the front door, past their astonished looking butler, and down the wide corridor, the elegant carpet making silence of their footsteps. Just as well, the surprise element couldn't hurt to gage how his dear brother was going to react to his request. “Father will be in his study with his solicitor this time of day.” At her knock they heard a preoccupied "come in."

The Earl of Arundel sat behind an ancient desk with stacks of documents in front of him. Facing him was Mr. Walcott, the trusted family solicitor. As they walked into the study, Edward's face lit up with joy. Then, as he looked beyond her, his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.

"Andrew?"

Andrew put on his best smile and chuckled, walking forward toward his brother. He needed Ed to accept him back into the family fold and that might require some persuasion. "Great heavens, man, is it really you?" Edward came from behind the desk and greeted him with a handshake and an awkward hug that turned into a haphazard slapping against his shoulder. "You remember Parker Walcott." He motioned to the man who had risen, eyes round behind his spectacles.

"Yes, of course, how's the family, Parker? Dorothy and the children doing well?" Andrew felt the smooth mask of charm take hold of his being and hoped Parker would take the hint. He looked as if he’d seen a ghost.

"Oh, very good, my lord, yes indeed. And yourself?"

"After meeting my lovely niece here, I couldn't be in better spirits." Andrew replied. "Ed, why have you failed to mention our likeness in your letters? It nearly frightened us both out of our wits when we clapped eyes on one another." The laughter in his voice was real this time.

"It's been so long since I've seen you." Edward hastened to explain. "Until this moment I didn't realize just how much you resemble each other." He glanced from one to the other, astonishment and something disapproving, consternation perhaps in his eyes before continuing. "Your eyes are more blue than her unusual shade of violet, but you’re quite right, you resemble twins more than you and I ever did. It's remarkable, isn't it?"

Edward motioned for Andrew to have a seat. "Please, join us." They both looked up at Kendra to find her staring at Andrew. Andrew winked at her as he plopped down in the chair beside Parker. Edward cleared his throat and frowned at his daughter. "Kendra, go down and have Willabee bring up some refreshments please."

Kendra nodded but clung to Andrew's side before she left. "How long can you stay Uncle Andrew? You should stay at least until the end of the week." Her eyes were bright with excitement.

"And what, pray tell, happens at the end of the week?" Andrew asked with a half grin that he'd been told sent the ladies into a swoon.

"I've persuaded papa to have a garden party." Her eyes slid to her father before she continued. "He hates to entertain you know, but I've been so forlorn for company my own age since my friend, Lucinda, moved away that he's feeling guilty and has agreed. Please say you'll stay. Lady Willowbee's girls will be absolutely speechless for once."

"I seem to recall a Lady Willowbee, lives down the way, only other gentry around here, eh?" At Kendra's nod Andrew chuckled with the memory. "A bit of a sour puss. Are her girls as malicious and back-biting as she and her sisters used to be?"

Kendra put her hand to her mouth in an attempt to suppress a horrified giggle.

"Can't offend them though," Andrew continued with grave mirth, "must do our duty and invite the only other cream de la cream in the area, even though it is soured cream, is that the dilemma you find yourself in, my dear?"

“Papa says I must love them as the Bible says.” Kendra raised her brows in beseeching charm that he recognized as one of his own trademark moves. "But if you were there it would be ever so much easier. They will be nice in hopes of an introduction. Please say you'll stay."

Andrew caught his brother's gaze and asked in a soft voice. "Can you deny her anything?"

Edward looked down and cleared his throat, a red flush filling his cheeks. "Very little, I'm afraid.

Swinging back to Kendra's expectant gaze, Andrew mused. "I will have to give you your answer later, moppet, but I promise I'll try.

That seemed to satisfy her as she gave him a happy nod and turned to leave the men to their business.

"You're going to have a devil of a time fighting off all the suitors at your door, Edward. She's amazing." Andrew remarked as he watched the whirl of Kendra's skirts around the door as she left.

Edward sighed. "I've already had my share of offers, but she's just nineteen. I'm not ready to see her betrothed to anyone yet."

"I can understand why, she brightens up the old place." Pausing, Andrew ran his fingers through his blond hair and added. "I was truly sorry about Eileen, Edward. I would have attended the funeral had I not been out of the county."

"I won't pretend I was anything other than devastated. But time has a way of taking the edge off the grief and Kendra has taken care of the rest. I don't know how I would have gone on if she had died with her mother.”

Andrew didn't know how to respond to his brother's heart-wrenching revelation. Edward had aged in more than the receding hairline and creases around his mouth it would seem. Andrew cleared his throat and looked down at the floor.

Edward leaned across the desk, his hands clasped together. "Enough about me, what have you been doing with yourself these last fifteen years?"

"A little of everything, I dare say. Traveled around a good bit." The rake's smile slide across his lips and he shrugged. "Been enjoying life with good drink, fine horseflesh and beautiful women."

Edward shook his head in an older brotherly way. "I know only too well of your love for the worldly passions. It's a life that will never satisfy you, you know. I have to hear of your exploits every time I'm in London. When will you settle down? Start a family of your own?"

A bark of laughter escaped Andrew's throat. Not here ten minutes and he was already getting the lecture. "Now is not a good time for thinking of that, Ed. I - uh, seem to have gotten myself into a bit of a jam." Glancing at Parker Walcott, Andrew girded up his courage and rushed out the rest before his nerve failed him. "I was hoping to have a word with you, big brother. I have some business I would like to discuss."

Parker rose rather abruptly for one keen to the family's business dealings. Andrew smothered a chuckle as the solicitor beat a hasty path to the door. "I will bid you both good day, my lord. You and your brother have much catching up to do." Andrew suppressed a chuckle as he scurried from the room.

After the door was closed silence descended upon the room. Andrew braced his arms on his legs and pressed his sweaty palms together.

Edward broke the silence with a voice both grave and guarded. "What can I do for you, Andrew?"

Shifting in the chair, Andrew ran a well-manicured hand though his blond hair, took a deep breath and plunged into his story.
It would seem Andrew had heard, through a reputable source, about an investment that was sure to make him a very wealthy man. The Brougham Company had been started to finance several voyages of trade to America with goods the colonist desperately needed. Five great ships had set sail over six months ago to deliver their goods. Andrew had invested all that he had and was given a great deal of credit as he bore the Townsend name.

The first two ships to sail had been attacked by pirates and overtaken. The following ship did not survive a great storm, and of the two that made it to America, one had perishables on it that were ill-packed, causing the contents to spoil, while the other had cheaper goods that even when sold at an exorbitant price did not come close to making up for the expense of the trip. "I've lost everything and my creditors are threatening Newgate Prison if I don't come up with the funds."

Edward listened with sinking despair. It seemed fate would never grant his twin the power he so desperately coveted. "Of course I will help you, Andrew. Have your creditors send me the contracts and I will take care of them." He paused before continuing in a fatherly tone. "I understand you want to handle matters on your own, but please consider consulting me or even Walcott before plunging into a scheme like this in the future." Edward pressed his lips together with that eagle-eyed stare that always made Andrew squirm in his chair. "I could have had the company investigated for you, at the very least."

"Of course." Andrew shook his head, eyes downcast. The act was growing tedious but pressed on. "It's just that I was so excited. I wanted to surprise you and mother with my good fortune. I realize the family thinks me a spoiled dandy so I wanted to do something to make you all proud. Instead I proved what an idiot I am."

"Now don't be too hard on yourself. We've been through worse and we'll come through this together."

"I can't thank you enough, Ed, just the thought of that prison sent me fleeing here on wings. There is just one more thing," Andrew rushed out, fidgeting with his fingers. "I was wondering if the creditors could go through old Parker instead of you. That way it won't become common knowledge that my brother had to pay off my debts. It's a matter of pride you see." He raised his brows and gave Edward a shrug of his shoulders.

"Of course. There's no need for our business to become something for the gossip mills."

Andrew stood up, gave his brother a quick, firm hug, and hurried from the room.
Edward gazed at the closed door, sadness and bewilderment weighing down his shoulders like a heavy blanket. He had not seen his brother for years, and then when he finally did come home, it was only because he was in trouble and needed money. Would they ever be close?

Dear God, help me reach him.

He let his thoughts drift back to their childhood, a good and proper upbringing he had always thought, but not without its animosities. Animosities that led all the way back to their birth.

They had heard the tale countless times. Edward had been the first-born twin, the heir to the earldom, but it had come about by a strange quirk of fate. His mother, who now lived on her own estate miles from Arundel, had pushed for hours with no sign of the babies coming.

The midwife, in an effort to feel the baby's position, placed one hand on the extended abdomen and the other inside the womb. She pulled back in surprise. "Your ladyship, I do believe you are having twins. There's a head and feet near the opening."

His mother gasped and her face whitened. "Twins! I shan't be able to do it."

The contractions continued though, strengthened instead of daunted by the thought of two.

Hours dragged by as they all wondered if Lady Lenora would be able to deliver the babies. In a wondrous moment, a hushed moment between pushes, a tiny foot poked out of the womb. The midwife didn't say anything but knew the importance of the firstborn's place so she tied a scarlet thread around the tiny ankle. Gently slipping the foot back up, she concentrated on delivering the baby in the head-down position. The child seemed ready to cooperate and after several more minutes emerged from the womb.

"A boy, my lady." One of the servants rushed to take the child to clean him before he was presented to his mother. After another hour, Lady Lenora held two healthy sons. She noticed the thread and looked up at the midwife. "But what's this, Ida?"

The midwife told the story of how that child had poked his little foot out first and thought to tie the yarn around his foot in the event that Lord Townsend would regard him the first born.

And he had. Lord Albert Townsend named the babe with the string around his ankle Edward Alexander Townsend, and proclaimed him the rightful heir. Lenora named his twin brother, Andrew Richard Townsend and thought that son cheated.

Edward's knuckles whitened with the memory as he clinched his hands into fists. They'd been so close when they were boys! Inseparable until the day Andrew heard the story of his birth bluntly put by a stable hand. Andrew had changed then, pulling away and becoming distant and ever more brooding. After awhile it seemed they had little in common and less to like about each other. And that wasn't even the worst of it. The resentment his mother held destroyed their marriage. Lenora devoted herself to spoiling her younger son which forced the earl to take Edward's causes.

Edward sighed, his head dropping forward, sadness pulling at his heart. They were so different in every way. Andrew was strikingly handsome with his fair hair and pale blue eyes, so much like their mother. Edward supposed he was the epitome of an Englishman with his dark brown hair, aristocratic nose, and hazel eyes. And that was only their outward differences. Inwardly they couldn't be more distant. He a long-grieving widower and Andrew a financially destitute dandy in dire straits. But he was back.

His brother had come home.

Maybe if he loved him enough, if he showed it and gave him all the attention and praise and . . . well, whatever it was that Andrew needed, maybe he could, uptight Englishman that he was, humble himself and shower his brother with love.

Father, help me love him the way he needs it. Help me show him You.

 
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