Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: June 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where one journey ends,

 another begins…

Purchase Links: Amazon & Pelican Book Group

Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten. 

Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death.Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart. When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear, and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future? Where one journey ends, another begins… 

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Creating Characters that Come Alive

L-Dora Hiers    R-Myra Johnson
Writers, do your characters fall flat on the page? Want to make them come alive for your readers? Authors Myra Johnson and Dora Hiers will offer tips to create memorable characters that stay fresh in reader's minds long after the last page is turned. Check out these Charlotte Mecklenburg Library locations for a program near you: 
Read more »

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

CIA? Her neighbor...seriously?

Purchase Links: Pelican Book Group  Amazon
After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer's block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver.

Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal's heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is—a man of faith and devotion, a man who would cherish her for the rest of her days—or will she lump him into the same category as all the other men in her life, including her father?

Will Teal recognize when truth whispers her name?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On My Kindle ~ Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Purchase Link
Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

Sharing my thoughts:
A man of few words, Darius Thornton is all about numbers and ledgers, but a boiler explosion changes his priorities. Boiler research and experiments consume his time, so much that he rarely sleeps. People around town consider him crazy, and not a soul is willing to accept employment as his secretary. Until Nicole. 

Nicole Renard will do anything for her gravely ill father, including picking out an heir to assume the family shipping business although she's perfectly capable of running it herself. When the Jenkins brothers derail her plan, intent on stealing the family heirloom, she escapes until she runs out of money. She needs a job, and the only one who will hire her is the crazy scientist.

"I believe, Miss Greyson, it's customary for the employer to give the orders, not the employee."
She crossed her arms over her chest, her brown eyes shooting sparks at him. "When one's employer nearly blows himself up, he forfeits the right to give orders. At least for the rest of the day."

Unique, well-crafted characters and a chemistry that sizzles from the pages lightened up some sections where the technical aspects of steamship boilers bogged a bit for me, but that's probably because I'm not a huge history buff. I'm more into the romance, and Full Steam Ahead delivered! Their romantic journey might have been a short few days, but it seemed totally natural and organic. With a couple kisses leaning toward steamy, Full Steam Ahead was just the right "heat" level for me. 

Marred. Cracked. Broken. Yet for the first time Darius realized that what truly mattered was not that the pot was marred, but that it remained in the hand of the potter.

These sweet words reminded me that no matter how ugly life can get sometimes, God can take all my broken pieces and turn them into something beautiful. Fraught with danger, packed with passion, and weaved with a sweet message like this, reading Full Steam Ahead was a wonderful way to spend a few evenings.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing Full Steam Ahead and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

In Case He Missed This...

My Dad
My dad is my real life hero and an inspiration for many of the heroes in my books. He may not track down criminals or rope cattle like my book heroes, but he's strong and solid, and always there when I need him. He's an anchor, a trusted adviser, a dependable friend, and a great listener who never judges or berates my mistakes. And I've made plenty of them! 

I'm sure I'm not the only offspring to confess that our relationship hasn't always been this way. You see, I was a rebellious teenager, definitely not a model child. The grief I gave my dad is probably the reason he doesn't have much hair left. Or maybe the hair loss had more to do with my parents birthing three daughters spaced just seventeen months apart. What were they thinking trying for that precious boy?? :D

My dad raised us to be independent. He volunteered our services mowing all the lawns in our neighborhood at a dirt rate price, which I'm sure broke all the child labor laws at the time. lol. He made us change tires until he was confident we wouldn't be stranded on the side of the road with a flat. Dad modeled a strong work ethic, encouraged us to play sports as well as any guy and with the guys, and challenged us to always keep learning. 

But he was also over-protective. What happens when you mix Overprotective Dad with three Missy Independents? A tumultuous household, that's for sure. I really don't know how any of us survived our growing up years, including him. 

I didn't truly appreciate my dad until I moved out of the house. After graduation at the mature age of seventeen, I knew it all. By eighteen, I was married, within four years had my first child, and was divorced at twenty two.

Do you think I learned to appreciate my parents then? Oh yeah.

Especially the occasional respite from single parenthood, which allowed me a few days of absolutely wonderful and desperately needed peace considering my toddler son's dispensation towards daredevil escapades. And what about the few times my dad plucked who-knows-what remains from the back of my car, remnants of the frantic pace of a single woman balancing a demanding career with a Houdini-wannabe child. At the time, I was convinced that my dad did it because he was a neat freak. But later, I realized that's how he shows his love. Just like the countless times my parents pitched in to help me move, both while I was an apartment manager, and it came with the territory, and even after Ernie and I married. But believe me when I tell you, that debt's been repaid. :) An avid DIY'r, he's helped us with numerous home improvement projects, including hanging drywall, room additions, replumbing, crawling in attics, you get the idea. 

Love in action. That's how my father demonstrates his love for me. Much like our heavenly Father, don't you think?

I know there will come a day when my dad isn't around anymore, and every time I think about it, my heart feels like it is being ripped out of my chest. How I will miss seeing his face light up as he starts to tell a story, only to laugh so hard that he has to pull out a hanky and blow his nose before he can finish. And he's a huge NASCAR fan. It's hilarious the way he's always pacing the floor, chomping at the bit to hit the road at least thirty minutes earlier than planned. I will miss our driving vacations and our cruises, but I will always cherish the precious memories.
My Dad and Hubby headed to a NASCAR race, their favorite hobby
My dad. My hero. 

Death strikes all of us eventually. We're either standing at the graveside, staring into a cavernous hole about to say goodbye to our loved one, wondering how people can go on as if nothing had happened...or we're the ones driving by, sorrow welling up for the people clustered around a graveside, a heavy cloud of sadness hovering over them.

Life goes on. For the ones who live. 

Life begins for the ones who die. Eternal life.

I love you, Dad.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On My Kindle ~ Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Purchase Link
Jake Knew Something Was Wrong.
But He Never Guessed How Wrong.

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna's route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake's past now revealed, he's ready to use his talent for investigation again--but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.

Kayden's climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine.

My Review:

Kayden scaled the rock face, the addictive burn spreading through her arms, her body. Man, she loved this--hanging on the edge of a seven-hundred-fifty-foot sheer cliff face, knowing one wrong grab meant death.

Do you get the idea Kayden thrives on danger? We've gotten to know the entire McKenna clan more with every Alaskan Courage book. Kayden's a bit closed off for me, and the one I find toughest to relate to probably because she's so tough and independent. She's committed to not marrying or having children since her mother's death from rheumatoid arthritis, and even keeps her brothers and sister at arm's length. And Jake? We finally found out about the mysterious Jake in the last book, Stranded. Jake had been a homicide detective in his prior life, but after his wife and unborn daughter were murdered, he chose Yancey to hide and heal from the pain. Kayden's been at odds with the Jake throughout the entire series, her interactions with him full of doubt and mistrust, but now that his past has been revealed, she finally admits that she's drawn to him.

"God doesn't promise the way will be easy, far from it, but He promises to carry us through, to give us the courage and grace we need when we need it. He most often doesn't change the circumstances, He changes us." ~Jake to Kayden

The faith thread was gentle, laced with a few prayers and this little goodie. The theme really resonated with me: that a person should live their life to the fullest, without letting fear guide their choices. The plot was fast-paced in a hang-on-to-your-seat kinda way, but, for me, there were so many different pieces to the puzzle, by the end, I still wasn't sure how they fit together. If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers with a little romance mixed in, you'll enjoy SilencedWhile it wasn't my favorite book of the Alaskan Courage series, it definitely kept me turning pages for a few hours. Each of the books are stand-alones, but since the McKenna clan is a close-knit bunch who show up in every book, you'll probably enjoy it more if you start with the first book.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing Silenced and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On My Kindle ~ Stuck Together by Mary Connealy

Purchase Link
When a lawman who values order gets stuck with a feisty crusader who likes to stir things up, there's going to be trouble in Texas! 

Tina Cahill, newly arrived from the East, is determined to get the saloon in Broken Wheel, Texas, closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. Not his tyrant of a father. Nor the injuries he suffered in the Civil War. Nor the fact that he is Broken Wheel's only attorney and sheriff yet has no law degree.

But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is suffering signs of dementia. And his surprise sister immediately falls for one of Vince's best friends. Vince has a lot of people to take care of, and Tina doesn't approve of how he's handling any of them. But with almost all the other men in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with feisty Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he's got one more surprise coming his way: Tina's picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.

Sharing my thoughts~
There are only a handful of historical authors whose books I automatically snatch up, and Connealy, queen of romantic comedy with cowboys, is one of them. She had me chuckling from the very first scene, a wild saloon brawl instigated by the heroine. Tina, a woman who's been abandoned for most of her life, is always thinking of causes to fight for, and she's determined to shut down the saloon by picketing. As much as she annoys Vince, a self-acclaimed lawyer and a not-wannabe town-appointed sheriff, he can't help but appreciate her spunkiness. 

Broken Wheel was a north Texas town set smack-dab in the middle of Indian Territory. Only idiots lived here, and idiots rarely needed a lawyer. Vince figured it was only fair to count himself and all of his friends among the idiots.

Vince hightailed it away from his childhood home after he healed from the war, escaping a mother with dementia and a tyrant father. But that doesn't last long and Invincible Vince finds himself caretaker for his mother and a sister he never knew existed. As much as he might enjoy a lasting relationship with Tina, Vince recognizes that it's only a matter of time before it becomes apparent which parent he'll take after, and he refuses to pass either of those genes down to a child or to saddle his wife with a tyrant or a man who can't remember her name. For me, how and when Vince finally resolves this issue seemed hasty and a bit rushed. But then, he was tracking down a...well, I won't spoil your reading pleasure. :)

We met Vince and Tina in the second book in the Trouble in Texas series, Fired Up, where the fireworks were already sparking between these two. You can read my review here. All of the Trouble in Texas books can be read as stand alones, but really, why not scoop them up and settle in for a few laughs? With subtle spiritual references, both mainstream and inspirational romance lovers will enjoy Stuck Together.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing Stuck Together and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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