Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: January 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A December Wedding by Denise Hunter ~ Sharing My Review

Purchase Link~
About the book~
What started as a whim turned into an accidental — and very public — engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season - for the sake of her career . . . and his heart? Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy — the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé — would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency — a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client. For Layla, it’s the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it’s his last chance to win her heart.

Sharing My Review~
A December Bride draws you into Layla's predicament right from the first page. Layla's friendly date cancels on her at the last moment, and she's determined to find another one, pronto. After all, the wedding she's attending should have been hers, but the groom's marrying her cousin instead. Seth Murphy offers to take her, and while she hasn't forgiven Jack's buddy for his role in their breakup, she's not about to miss the wedding and the chance to show her ex-fiance that she's so over him.

I just love a hero who's loved the heroine for a very long time, but the circumstances kept them apart, and Seth fills the hero role to perfection. He should have asked Layla out first, but Jack beat him to it. Now that Jack's married, this is Seth's chance, but he almost blows it. 

Layla set the white votive inside the Mason jar and slid it down the table to Murphy.

He caught the jar and cut a length of twine. "I swear they're going to revoke my man card."

Layla scooped sugar into the next jar and arranged red berries around the votive. "You own a hardware store; I think your manhood is intact."

He scowled. "I'm tying bows on glass knickknacks. Don't you need some wood chopped or something?"

"What I need is thirty of these to line the walkway, so butch up and tie the bow."

Cute, adorable sparring keeps the dialog moving along at a face pace, and A December Bride packs just enough heat to make me reach for the air conditioner switch in the middle of winter. Denise Hunter is now on my must-read list, and A December Bride could slide very easily onto your bookshelf any time of the year!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Zondervan  Fiction and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing this book. I received a free copy of A December Bride in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In The Midst Of Your Storm

It had been awhile. With all the craziness and “busy”-ness of the holidays, and then several author events and promotions all swirling into this massive storm, all demanding my attention, I couldn’t focus on anything except the blur of the calendar whizzing through my head, reminding me that I had to move harder, faster, get up earlier. It didn’t help that the weather hadn’t cooperated, either. Bruiser and I hadn’t been to visit the park in weeks.

The morning loomed gloomy and overcast, and slid downhill from there. But my body screamed for exercise, so I determined that we would at least drive to the park. It finally stopped raining long enough for me to unload my seventy pound dog at the park. I prayed that we might have a chance to navigate the soggy, muddy path before the puffy grey clouds dumped again.

As we started walking, patches of blue sky broke through the clouds. The sun poked out for the first time that day. Dewy raindrops glistened from bare tree limbs, shimmering like diamonds.

I believe Bruiser equates our time spent at the park as love. Why wouldn’t he? It’s a mile of sniffing trails and back scratches. From his grin (don’t tell me Goldens don’t grin J) and flumy tail waving through the air, it was painfully obvious that he needed the reminder that I still loved him. 

With the sun warming my back, a gentle breeze kissing my cheeks, and a spirit lighter than it had been in weeks, I realized that I needed the reminder, too. That God still loved me in the midst of my storms. That even in the busyness of my life, even though I’d barely focused on Him, He hadn’t forgotten about me.

Maybe you’re there. In the midst of a storm. An ugly divorce, the sudden death of a spouse or a child, an unexpected job loss, or maybe you’re being evicted from your home. Or maybe it’s a little more subtle. Like a tiny prick of insecurity, that you’re not keeping up with the demands of your job or you feel like a failure at parenthood. It could be a painful stab of jealousy when your husband flirts with a younger woman, or one of a thousand little things that creep in and rob your joy, your assurance that…

God loves you. Right where you are. In the midst of your storm.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
And because I love you. ~Isaiah 43:2-4 NIV

You. Are. Loved.
Maybe you need that reminder today.

Sending you a warm hug and prayers for you to know that you are not alone.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

With Autumn's Return by Amanda Cabot~ My Review

With Autumn's Return
About the book~
When Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne to open her medical practice, she is confident that the future is as bright as the warm Wyoming sun. Certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her services, she soon discovers the town may not welcome a new physicianespecially a lady doctor. Even Jason Nordling, the handsome young attorney next door, seems to disapprove of her chosen profession.

When a web of deceit among Cheyenne's wealthiest residents threatens to catch Elizabeth and Jason in its snare, they must risk working together to save one of Elizabeth's patientseven if it means falling in love.

Sharing my review~
After her experience in medical school, Dr. Elizabeth Harding chose progressive Cheyenne to set up practice. Assured by her sister that the town would embrace a female doctor, Elizabeth is disappointed when nobody's waiting outside her office door, even more disappointed when handsome attorney Jason Nordling expresses his scathing opinion of working women. Jason and Elizabeth suffer career setbacks, and when both defend the other, you know the romance is about to begin! 

"She might not have gained any patients, might instead have alienated several, but she had accomplished at least one thing. Not only had she and Jason forged a truce, but she was beginning to believe she'd been mistaken about him. In the time they'd been together, she had seen his arrogance disappear, falling away like a butterfly's chrysalis, revealing a man with surprising vulnerabilities as well as fundamental strengths." ~Elizabeth

Working together to solve a crime reshaped Jason's opinion of marriage and the partnership role each would assume, and left Elizabeth wondering if it was possible to combine a career with a family. This conflict between Jason and Elizabeth unfolded, an organic and essential component of the plot.

With Autumn's Return captured my attention from the first page, and the engaging plot kept me turning pages quickly, anxious to see how everything would turn out. Each character brimmed with depth, and (bonus!) I got TWO romances in one book! With Autumn's Return is a "must read" and left this romance lover with a huge sigh of satisfaction and a smile on her face! I'll definitely be looking for Cabot's next book.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Amanda Cabot and Revell for providing me with a copy of With Autumn's Return in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This review features only my opinion, and I received no compensation.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Quaker and The Rebel by Mary Ellis~My Review

The Quaker and the Rebel
Purchase Link~Deeper Shopping
About the book~
Emily Harrison's life has been turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempted to continue her parents' work as conductors in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm was sold in foreclosure. Now alone, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor's family in slave-holding Virginia. Perhaps she can continue her rescue efforts from there.

Alexander Hunt is the doctor's handsome nephew. While he does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle's newest employee, he cannot take time to pursue Emily. Alex is not at all what he seems--rich, spoiled, and indolent. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a Quaker leader of Rebel partisans. A man of the shadows, he carries no firearm and wholeheartedly believes in Emily's antislavery convictions.

The path before Alex and Emily is complicated and sometimes life threatening. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger to both of them. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they find faith in God amid the challenges they face and trust in the possibility for a bright future together? 

Sharing My Review~
The premise really drew me in for this book. I mean, really...a conductor in the Underground Railroad falling for a Rebel leader? How intriguing!

A devout Quaker, Emily took the job as governess intending to convince slaves to take the first step towards freedom and views the South as the enemy, especially after her parents were beaten and her fiance killed. Alexander Hunt is the son of a wealthy horse breeder, and as the elusive Gray Wraith, his non-violent band of rangers raids deliveries of medicine, food, and money, which he hands over to the Confederate army. 

"If I run into the Gray Wraith, I shall shoot him between the eyes and spare the Union Army the task." ~ Emily

It took awhile for me to understand how Alexander could fall for haughty Emily. But it came to me in a light bulb moment. Emily stood out from the crowd of Southern belles clamoring for Alexander's attention, so different, so willing to risk her life for her anti-slavery beliefs. As the Gray Wraith, they were kindred souls, just on opposite sides of the war.

But during her employment with the Bennington's, Emily discovered that things weren't as she initially believed. The Bennington's and the Hunt's treated their slaves with respect, and had allowed many to buy back their freedom. Alexander even championed their release. They welcomed her into their family, shattering her notion that all slave holders were privileged and shallow, and her opinions, and her attitude, changed over the course of the book. 

As an avid romance lover, The Quaker and The Rebel started off a bit slow for me, but I'm so glad I kept reading. What it lacked in actual romantic wooing and sweet words (after all, there was a war going on!), it made up for in depth and character growth. The Quaker and The Rebel transcends romance. It's about the ugly stains of prejudice; it's about how we allow past experiences or other people's opinions to poison our attitudes and control our thoughts. It's about a family and how they accepted Emily and her narrow-minded self into their midst, and then pardoned her sins and showered her with love and grace when she most needed it. Don't pick up The Quaker and The Rebel expecting just a romance. No. Because you'll get a whole lot more. 

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Mary Ellis and Harvest House Publisher for providing me with a copy of The Quaker and The Rebel for review. The opinions expressed here are my own, and I received no compensation. 

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, New Direction?

Happy New Year! (picture compliments of Bing)
I'm a little late with my New Year's post, but you all know my philosophy on New Year's resolutions. I shared it a couple years ago, but here's the skinny...If there's something in my life that I recognize needs to change, why wait until January 1st?

But that doesn't stop me from reflecting over the last year, totally in awe over the blessings God poured out in my personal life and in my writing.

2013 was spectacular! Two more of my books released, Journey's Embrace and When Truth Whispers, making a total of five published romances, all with Pelican Book Group. Several more books are contracted and in various stages of publication, and who knows what 2014 will bring.

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately, especially in regards to my writing. God's prompting me to dig deep and try new things, to release my dreams and fears to Him, to spread my wings and soar over unfamiliar waters, to reach out and love more

What does that mean? I don't know, but I trust God. If He points to a road and says, "Go that way. I want you to meet somebody," just like when He directed Philip towards the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40), who am I to argue?

Who does God want me to connect with this year?

Where He leads, I will follow.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake." Ps 23:1-3 NIV

And I'll try not to allow fear to squelch that giant swell of anticipation that's building and rising for the journey ahead, that awesome wondrous feeling that God loves me and wants the absolute best for me...just like He loves you!

Wishing you a joyous, Son-kissed 2014, my friends!

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