Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: April 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Excited about Reading: Just the Way You Are by Jessica R. Patch

Free for a limited time
when you sign up for her Patched In Newsletter
The Cover Story~
When Pastor Gabe asks Audrey Gilbraith to use her mad florist skills to help him design a prayer garden, she’s all in, especially since it helps take her mind off the fact she’s about to lose her job and her apartment. But working closely with Gabe and not falling for him is complicated. She’s not pastor’s wife material, and she has the past to prove it.

Gabriel Brookson wants out of Audrey’s friend-zone, but when he pursues her romantically, he ruffles more than a few feathers in his congregation. How much is he willing to give up for this wonderful, quirky woman, and will Audrey accept him if he risks it all?

My Takeaway~
Have you ever been in a situation, or worse, in a relationship, where you didn't feel like anything you did was good enough? Where no matter how much you tried to fit in or how much you attempted to be that person nothing worked? It's no fun. And that's Aubry. Loud and boisterous, she cracks yo-mama jokes and is chronically late to everything, including church. She's also hiding a tremendous amount of pain and guilt from her past.

"People dressed up hurt in all sorts of ways. Dresses and heels, a grin and witty words didn't mean it wasn't simmering under the surface, ready to explode..."

None of that matters to Pastor Gabe, who finds Aubry refreshing and honest, and has loved her for the past two years. When he finally woos her to move past friends, certain members of his church force him to choose between staying at the church or loving Aubry.

The underlying theme shines throughout this book like a lighthouse on a foggy night. Aubry didn't have to change for Pastor Gabe to love her anymore, just like we don't have to change for God to love us anymore. He loves us exactly as we are, where we are, even if we have a past we're ashamed of.

I read Hope Under Mistletoe and loved it, so I was excited to snatch up another book by Jessica R. Patch. I love how she writes grace into her stories using real-to-life characters and witty dialog without being preachy. Just the Way You Are is a quick read, a wonderful book for a lazy weekend afternoon. I'm definitely a new fan!

Disclaimer: I received this novella free by signing up for Jessica's Patched In newsletter. I received no compensation for my fair and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Excited about Reading: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

Amazon Purchase Link
The Cover Story~
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

My Takeaway~
Since reading Meant to be Mine, I couldn't wait to read Jake's story in A Love Like Ours. If you'd like to read about Ty and Celia's story in Meant to be Mine, you can read my review here. How did I miss Undeniably Yours, book #1 in the Porter Family series? Will have to remedy that!

A Love Like Ours is one of those books that leaves you thinking about it long after you're finished reading. The cover is cute, but it doesn't give you a real inkling to the depth of this story. Jake struggles with PTSD. He lost his faith in Iraq along with his buddies, and horrific nightmares and survivor's guilt chains him to a solitary lifestyle. Lyndie's determined to help her childhood best friend heal, but along the way, she starts to view him differently...not so much as her childhood friend anymore.

"I think that God empowered him with the ability to run...for your sake."
"Why would God do that?"
"Because it's one of the only avenues of communication He has left with you. You've shut Him out, but I think He wanted to show you that He hasn't shut you out."

There were so many aspects of this book to savor and chew on. The strong faith thread with a "God is good" mantra even through hardships. Lyndie's perseverance and determination to save Mr. Tall Dark and Brooding when most women would've given up. Her creative spirit, not only illustrating and writing whimsical fairy stories, but also building and decorating a "hero" house with her neighbor's son. Cheering for Silver Leaf to win his race because their healing was so entwined. The powerful theme of hope and restoration woven throughout. What's not to love about A Love Like Ours?

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing A Love Like Ours 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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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Brandon, Florida to an area where I spent the first fifty years of my life. Brandon is located east of Tampa, Florida and sports a population of over 100,000. Only down for a quick weekend, we managed to squeeze in visits to three of our favorite eating establishments.

We couldn't visit Tampa without stopping in at our all-time favorite Spanish restaurant, La Septima, surprised to find that they'd moved a few blocks down the road. We started with the Yuca Fries. Yuca is starchy, much like a potato. Cooked yuca tends to be a bit mushy, but fried yuca is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and La Septima sprinkles theirs with cheese.
Yuca Fries
I chose the Pescado a la Rusa, whitefish filets, fried and topped with a Russian-style sauce (butter, parsley and hard-boiled eggs), complemented with yellow rice and black beans. The fish was tender and flaky, and paired perfectly with the sauce.
Pescado a la Rusa
Dora here. My fave is the Palomilla steak. I'm not sure which kind of beef they use, but it's pounded thin then breaded and fried, and topped with grilled onions. Tender and yum! I used to make black beans and yellow rice occasionally at home, but I never could replicate the exact flavor profile that jazzes up my taste buds like theirs. :)  
Palomilla Steak
I would rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 forks for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.
La Septima Cafe on Urbanspoon
The second visit was to our favorite BBQ place. Tucked into an obscure corner behind the Adamo Home Depot, you could probably follow your nose to FirstChoice BBQ.
First Choice B-B-Q
The combination plate includes pork ribs, sausage, fries and baked beans. The food was just as I remember from 8 years ago. The sausage was smoky without being spicy, and the ribs were fall off the bone. The fries, made from fresh potatoes, were just crispy enough and the beans were molasses-sweet and tasty, great for dipping fries. Definitely order the fritters. Crispy on the outside, but tender and moist on the inside, they're not sweet, more savory since they stuff them with pork morsels. They are the most unique tasting, and that is in a good way, fritters I have ever tasted. 

Dora here. My fave is the chopped pork with fries and baked beans, but the turkey is also a close second. Today I chose the pork. Made me want to close my eyes and just savor the flavor so I could tuck it in my memory for the next few years! We lucked out getting here early on a Saturday because normally the line is out the door. And don't come all dressed up. It's warm and you'll smell like woodsmoke when you walk out, but that's all good because the food is worth it.

I would rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 forks for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

First Choice Southern BBQ on Urbanspoon
Our last choice was Babe’s Pizza. This favorite local pizza joint has a model train tracking around the ceiling of the restaurant and a bar to watch them make pizza, definitely a kid pleaser.

The large Greek salad easily fed five, and the fresh ingredients made it better than average. We also ordered cheese bread, thick slices of mozzarella cheesy goodness.  

Go for the gusto with the double decker pizza, thin dough topped with mozzarella and your selected ingredients, and then loaded with a second layer of everything, basically two pizzas in one. We ordered one with pepperoni and banana peppers and the other with pepperoni and black olives. Both pies were great, just the right amount of sauce and cheese, and not too greasy like you sometimes get from thick pizzas. Definitely the type of pizza that you only can eat a couple of pieces before you are full.  
Large double decker with pepperoni and banana peppers

Large double decker with pepperoni and black olives
Dora here. Definitely carb overload, but oh-so-good! 

I would rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 forks for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.
Babe's Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Excited about Reading ~ Be My Love By Bella Andre writing as Lucy Kevin

Purchase Link
The cover story:
Come for a visit to Walker Island where you'll find stunning Pacific Northwest ocean views, men too intriguing to resist...and five close-knit sisters who are each about to find their one true love. 

After four years on the Seattle mainland, when Hanna Walker returns to Walker Island to make a documentary about the infamous Peterson-Walker feud from the early 1950s, she's shocked to realize that passions still run high. Especially when it comes to Joel Peterson, the one man who is totally off-limits...but that she's never been able to stop dreaming about. 

The last thing Joel wants is for Hanna to dredge up the past, but when he realizes she's determined to follow through with her documentary no matter what, he knows he has no choice but to join her. But despite vowing to hold back his growing feelings for her, as Joel works with Hanna to unravel the mystery of what really happened between their two families, he soon begins to see that love is an unstoppable force...and that sometimes two people are meant to be. 

My takeaway:
After living four years in Seattle, Hanna Walker returns to her home, Walker Island, to film a documentary, a piece on the 1950’s Peterson-Walker feud and the truth behind Poppy’s suicide that would guarantee her a spot in the graduate program. But Joel Peterson, the only remaining Peterson on the island, isn’t keen on Hanna dredging up the past and vows to preserve his family’s dignity. After all, it’s his duty, same as operating his family’s shipping company, and just as uncomfortable and tight as the tie clamped around his neck.

While Joel and Hanna slide easily into romance, other islanders and family members continue to add fuel to the decades-old feud.

Shame,” she muttered as the two of them went past.
"What’s that?” Hanna asked, not understanding.
The look the woman gave her was actually a little frightening in its intensity. “I wasn’t talking to you, girl.” She turned her narrowed gaze to Joel. “Don’t you have any shame, walking around with a Walker? What would your father think? What would your grandfather think?”

In my fictional visit to Walker Island, I could almost feel the wind whipping my hair, the sand tickling my toes and the salt kissing my cheeks. I felt like I got to know the rest of the Walker clan, the four sisters who make up the other books in the series, and grandmother, Ava. The setting was a major part of this book, just as valuable as the characters.

While I haven’t read any Bella Andre books, I enjoyed this “sweet” romance by Lucy Kevin. It was a departure from my normal inspy books, but when I read the blurb, I decided to take a chance and I’m glad I did. Be My Love was all about family and how they take care of and protect each other from life’s hurts. It’s about events from our pasts and how they aren’t always as they seem, and a strong love that overcomes bitterness and hurts that have festered for decades.

I appreciate that this book didn't contain any steamy love scenes, but I would’ve preferred a dash of sizzle to go along with the sweet on this side of the bedroom door. Overall, I enjoyed Be My Love enough that I plan to read the rest of the series.

Disclaimer: I received this book free on Amazon. This review is my opinion, and I didn't receive any compensation.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

For this edition of Excited about Eating we visited Passage to India, located in the Campus Station Shopping Center in the University area of Charlotte. Now, I have to admit, I normally don’t eat at Indian restaurants because I have heard the food is very spicy. But today we were up for trying something different.

We were in luck. Instead of choosing just one dish, we were able to experience multiple items from their lunch buffet, and many of them were very good. My favorite was the Chilli Fish, fresh tilapia marinated with spices, fried and tossed with bell pepper and onions. The fish was lightly battered and perfectly cooked. Dora here. Tilapia typically isn't a fish I'd choose, but I really liked this dish. Not too fishy and great flavor.

Another favorite was the Tandoori Chicken, marinated in yogurt, ginger, garlic & fresh spices and grilled in a clay oven. This dish was outstanding with the ginger and garlic shining through and the chicken carried a smokey favor. The Goat Curry, baby goat cooked in onion, tomato, and ginger gravy was great over the Basmati rice.

My wife’s favorite was the Chicken Tikka Masala, boneless chicken breast marinated in ginger, garlic, yogurt & spices and grilled in a charcoal clay oven. Dora here. The Chicken Tikka Masala was moist and tender, and sported just the right amount of heat. Unlike the Chicken Biryani which lit my mouth on fire! One taste of the Biryani and I was begging to switch my iced tea to diet coke. lol. And I really liked the Gulab Jamun, sugar-soaked balls shaped like doughnut holes, and that's what they tasted like: dense, sweet doughnuts. Ernie wasn't a fan.  

For dessert, we had the Mango Custard, made with fresh fruits. Not too sweet but just the right amount of fruit in a creamy milk sauce. Dora here. The mango custard was light and refreshing, not too heavy after eating from a buffet. And that's another thing. Normally, buffets leave me stuffed and bloated, but neither of us felt that way when we finished eating.

Overall, this experience was enjoyable and I would eat Indian food again. I would rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant that serves great food.

Passage to India on Urbanspoon

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Excited about Eating ~ BONUS Edition by Ernie Hiers

This bonus edition of Excited about Eating takes us to Cheddar’s Restaurant in the University area of Charlotte. This casual family restaurant, founded in Arlington, Texas boasts that they want to “be a great restaurant that serves quality food fresh from the kitchen in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere at a fair price.” I believe they accomplish this.
Cheddars - interior
For lunch I chose the Homemade Chicken Pot Pie served with a fresh Caesar salad. The Pot Pie was full of chunky chicken, potatoes and vegies, and a tasty cream sauce. The crust was flaky, golden brown, and just the right thickness.
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
Dora here. Candy pecans, honey lime dressing and a finger-licking-buttery croissant jazzed up an ordinary salad to over-the-top for me, and I could drink a gallon of their unsweet tea.
Grilled Chicken Pecan Salad
I would rate this restaurant five forks out of five for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food. 

Cheddar's Casual Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Crazy about Writing: Beaver Pond Newspaper

Lifestyle, May 1, 2015
Meet Tate and Shelby Malone, owners of Beaver Pond’s newest and funkiest art boutique, From Junk to Treasure
By James Collins

Recently, I met with Tate and Shelby in the most eclectic art boutique Beaver Pond has ever seen. What most people would consider junk or toss in the trash, Shelby Malone revives and repurposes into unusual art pieces. Clothes, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, pallets, you name it. They’re all here.

Shelby and Tate sat across from me, practically sharing the same space on a revitalized couch. His arm was draped across the back of the couch and his fingers toyed with the tips of her apricot hair. Newlyweds of just a few weeks. Meet Tate and Shelby Malone…

“So tell me. Where did you two first connect?”

A slow grin slides across Tate’s face, and Shelby’s face sports a bright pink hue.

This I can’t wait to hear.

“The men’s restroom,” Tate replies.

OK. That was rather unexpected.

“I tend to be rather clumsy. Tate came to my rescue that time—”

He laughs.

“Well, lots of times actually,” she amends. “Growing up, my parents joked that their insurance company always required extra coverage for me.”

“You both work at Beaver Pond High School, right?”

“Yes. Shelby decided to keep teaching full-time, and I’m a guidance counselor.”

“Did you grow up wanting to be a counselor?”

“Not exactly,” Tate’s jaw clenches.

“He had a wonderful role model. Just like he is to the students in Beaver Pond.” Shelby casts an adoring look at her husband.

“You rose above the homeless statistics to graduate from a top-rate college.” I skim my research notes for the counselor’s name. “Mr. Harris, wasn’t it?”

Tate stiffens. His thick eyebrows narrow. “Yes.”

Shelby pats his thigh in a comforting gesture, and he visibly relaxes back against the couch.

“Was it love at first sight?”

“Yes!” Shelby nodded, as if her ‘yes’ wasn’t emphatic enough. “But, not so for Tate. He took a little convincing.”

“That’s not quite—”

“How so?” I ask, interrupting Tate.

“For starters, he’d given up dating.”

“Not into the bar scene?”

Grimacing, he shakes his head.

“It’s tough when the ones who are supposed to love us let us down, isn’t it?” Compassion warms her face. She turns to her husband, her knuckles skimming his whiskered jaw. “His parents’ abandonment created this emotional barricade. He worried about losing the people he loved, and he mistakenly assumed his disadvantaged upbringing would keep me from loving him. As if I cared about material things.”

“That seems rather obvious.” I glance rather pointedly around the space filled with recycled treasures.

“Her parents actually bought a store for her! How could I compete with that?” Tate asks, brandishing a palm.

“I could see how that might present a problem. So what happened with that?”

“They only put down a deposit to hold it. They didn’t actually buy it. Besides, it was in Promise Lake. I told them my heart was here, in Beaver Pond. With Tate.”

“You did?” Tate’s words come out soft, as if only meant for her, but his deep voice carries.

She nods. “I had to show him that I wasn’t going anywhere and that things weren’t important. He was.” Although her words indicate she’s speaking to me, her head is turned towards Tate.

Tate smiles, kisses the top of Shelby’s head.

Thick lashes shutter over ivory cheeks, but only for a few seconds before she focuses on me. “He lived through horror, but he never gave up. He’s the kind of man teenagers can look up to because he gives 100%. He taught me that dreams don’t always come wrapped in shiny packages like we expect. Sometimes you just need to let them go, and then they come back to you, a hundred times better than what you imagined. He’ll make a wonderful daddy someday.”

Tate’s chest puffs up, and a clump travels down his throat. “And Shelby…she saw into my soul and reinvigorated my wounded spirit much like she does with her art. Where everybody else sees junk, she sees treasure.”

And there you have it, folks. The real deal. Tate and Shelby Malone, owners of From Junk to Treasure.

Available 5/1 by Subscription
to Pure Amore
Did you enjoy meeting Tate and Shelby? Friends, I'm so excited to share May's Pure Amore release, When Hope Rises, with you!

Art teacher Shelby Coltman transforms junk into treasure and longs for a place to showcase her creations. She’s thrilled when her friend volunteers to room with her. Shelby can finally buy a storefront. Unfortunately, Kennedi’s brother can't seem to let go.

Abandoned as a teenager, guidance counselor Tate Malone has become surrogate and over-protective father to his sister. Life is great until Shelby Coltman wheedles his impressionable sister into sharing an apartment. Raised in wealth, the beautiful Shelby could never understand poverty or rejection, and Tate doesn't appreciate her uprooting his sister.

When Shelby hands over her savings to a homeless student, will God obliterate Tate's fears and deliver all of Shelby’s dreams...when hope rises?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Enthusiastic about Faith: Wrestling with God

Not long ago, I shared that I was a Bible hoarder. If you missed that post, you can read it here. But, just as I suspected, now I'm reading scripture with fresh eyes.

You all probably remember the story of how Jacob stole his twin brother's blessing and birthright? Then, when Esau threatened to kill him, Jacob fled to live with his uncle for over two decades while he worked off the wages for two brides. When God instructed Jacob to venture back to his homeland, the land God had promised to give him, his brother came to meet with 400 men. Naturally Jacob was terrified. I'm not sure I'd have worked up the courage to get that far. What about you?

Jacob prayed and split his family into groups, sending the servants loaded with gifts for Esau well ahead of him and his precious wives and children. As always, the fact that Jacob spent the night wrestling with God made me pause. Was this a real wrestling match or an all night prayer meeting, wrestling with fear and guilt over what he'd done to his brother? Whatever, Jacob left that morning with a limp. And all for what? Because he refused to surrender God's blessing. Ironic, isn't it? The very thing that sparked his rapid departure in the first place...stealing his brother's blessing.

Jacob expected a battle, but his brother greeted him with a kiss. Surprise, surprise.

But isn't that always the case where God is concerned? He divided the Red Sea, fed thousands with a little boy's lunch, called a man from the grave, and yet somehow I forget how mighty God is, that He makes miracles from my messes, and that He is more than able to restore broken relationships.

If only I'd ask...

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. ~1 John 5:14-15

My takeaway from Jacob's experience...

Obedience rewards. Although Jacob must have quaked in his sandals when God instructed him to go back to his homeland, he obeyed. The reward was a restored relationship with his twin, but he also became Israel, a founder of nations and kings.

Persistent prayer pays off.  Frightened, Jacob prayed for God's protection and recalled God's promise that He'd make his "descendants like the sand of the sea." (Gen 32:12 NIV) And then again when he wrestled with God all night, persevering until God blessed him.

Don't make hasty decisions. Jacob remained where he was for the night to pray and regroup.

Expect favor. Our God is bigger and mightier than any problem I might face, and when I ask Him for help, His response is to bless.

Oh, and my old Bible? I moved it to my desk. All those highlights and notes make for a fabulous research reference. :)

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to to Krazy Fish in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. We arrived a little before noon on Good Friday and waited a few minutes to be greeted and seated. The first thing we noticed was the eclectic interior combined with junk art throughout the restaurant, and the musty smell was a turn off.
At the waiter’s suggestion, we shared the Neptune Platter which included fried fish, shrimp, calamari, scallops, and vegetables and also served with Krazy slaw, Mac n Cheese (our choice) and cornbread. Nuoc Cham (at least, that's what we think it was?) and wasabi tartar dipping sauces were provided.
Neptune Platter

I don't believe there is any way one person could have eaten this entire meal. It was huge. The fish was tender, the calamari crispy, and the fried vegetables were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of bite, the highlight of the dish. The two negatives of this dish were the Krazy slaw and the cornbread. The slaw had an unidentifiable spice and a "pickled" flavor which made it almost uneatable and the cornbread was very dry. Dora here. I'm not a huge fan of seafood in general, so it takes a lot to win me over. For me, the fish was a bit too fishy, and nothing on the plate really stood out or invited me to come back. Maybe I might've liked the grilled platter more.
I would rate this establishment 3 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving good food. Krazy Fish on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Crazy about Writing!

With the exception of promoting blog posts, I've been somewhat MIA on social media these days. I blame it on marketing for four releases this year. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

When I received my promotional copies for When Hope Rises, I realized that I pumped the bulk of my efforts into my Harmon Heritage series and Rori's Healing, which releases on June 5th. But When Hope Rises releases on May 1st as part of Pelican's Pure Amore subscription. What does that mean?

It means I have five pdf copies of When Hope Rises to give away

Pelican Pure Amore's May release
Art teacher Shelby Coltman transforms junk into treasure and longs for a place to showcase her creations. She’s thrilled when her friend volunteers to room with her. Shelby can finally buy a storefront. Unfortunately, Kennedi’s brother can't seem to let go.

Abandoned as a teenager, guidance counselor Tate Malone has become surrogate and over-protective father to his sister. Life is great until Shelby Coltman wheedles his impressionable sister into sharing an apartment. Raised in wealth, the beautiful Shelby could never understand poverty or rejection, and Tate doesn't appreciate her uprooting his sister.

When Shelby hands over her savings to a homeless student, will God obliterate Tate's fears and deliver all of Shelby’s dreams...when hope rises?

Want one? Here's your chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Crazy about Writing: Why Pure Amore? by Dora Hiers

So you’re browsing the bookstore and a gorgeous cover screams at you to pick it up. You don’t recognize the author’s name, but intrigued by the back cover blurb, you buy it and hustle home. Settling back in your recliner with a steaming cup of tea, you dig into the pages, quickly becoming immersed in the plot and enjoying where the story’s taking you…until you find yourself peering through the bedroom door.

What do you do? Do you keep reading or slam the cover down on the book? Do you read more books by that author or publisher? And what do you do with the book? Hide it from your kids? Donate it to the library? Toss it in the recycling bin?

Pelican Book Group recently launched a new imprint, Pure Amore. Pure…as in undefiled, wholesome. As in romances you can trust won’t propel you through the bedroom door. Books you can feel safe leaving out on the table in plain sight, without fear that your preteen might skim the pages.

Topping out at 45k words, these petite gems feature heroes and heroines between 21-33 years of age, one or both sexually pure, and Christians from page one. No preaching, no conversion scenes, no controversy, no judgment. Just two flawed characters trying to hold tight to ideals the world no longer values.

I’m thrilled that two of my books, When Love Triumphs and When Hope Rises are included in this line. How could I resist the opportunity to create stories with hunky heroes who just might need a little shove from a feisty heroine to overcome their fears?

Take Tanner Random, from When Love Triumphs, for example. After years of being a Navy SEAL, he’s back in Promise Lake to care for his abandoned niece. He hopes Winter will recognize that he’s not the same guy she rejected years ago, that he buried his old ways along with his best SEAL bud. But even if she does, he has his niece to care for now…and an alcoholic father who rarely leaves his chair or strays far from a bottle of whiskey. Does the same gene course through his blood?

Or Tate Malone, a guidance counselor in When Hope Rises. Growing up, Tate lugged buckets of water home from a nearby park for bathing and cooking, and studied by candlelight. His parents had moving down to an art, knowing the exact number of rent payments they could skip before being evicted. Then, just before his junior year, they moved again…without telling him. He gave up dating after his last girlfriend called him a freak for refusing to be intimate. When Shelby seeks his help for a student, he’s forced to confront his insecurity...would she abandon him, too?
We each have fears and flaws, experiences and struggles, hopes and dreams. We bring all of that with us into our relationships. We love, we laugh, we argue, we fall every way.

Sure. We mess up. But that’s not the end of the story. The end is so much better, sweeter. There’s…Grace. Forgiveness. Restoration. Hope. Love. And perfect love covers it all. That’s why I write, and that’s what I hope readers will take away from all my stories.

Pure Amore…available by subscription, a book delivered to your mailbox or inbox every month for an entire year.

It’s your turn. Do you prefer romances where the bedroom door is closed?
Why or why not?

Blurb for When Love Triumphs:
Police Officer Winter Evan and Navy SEAL Tanner Random are wrong for each other. Winter fears the water. Tanner skims through seas for a living. So four years ago, Winter convinced herself she’d be better off not worrying about his months at sea and his increased cajoling for physical intimacy.

But when she walked away, she lost a giant chunk of her heart.

Now Tanner’s back in town to care for his abandoned niece. No longer a SEAL, he’s sticking to the safety of the North Carolina mountains as a paramedic. Should Winter risk losing her heart all over again? Will God help them build what started years ago into something solid and secure? When love triumphs...

Blurb for When Hope Rises:
Art teacher Shelby Coltman transforms junk into treasure and longs for a place to showcase her creations. She’s thrilled when her friend volunteers to room with her. Shelby can finally buy a storefront. Unfortunately, Kennedi’s brother can't seem to let go.

Abandoned as a teenager, guidance counselor Tate Malone has become surrogate and over-protective father to his sister. Life is great until Shelby Coltman wheedles his impressionable sister into sharing an apartment. Raised in wealth, the beautiful Shelby could never understand poverty or rejection, and Tate doesn't appreciate her uprooting his sister.

When Shelby hands over her savings to a homeless student, will God obliterate Tate's fears and deliver all of Shelby’s dreams...when hope rises?

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of “Excited about Eating” takes us to Pineville to Machu Picchu, Peruvian Cuisine, named after the ancient Inca City near Cusco, Peru. Now I can truly say, I have never had Peruvian food, but I am always up for trying something new and my wife was in an adventurous mood. Dora here. Haha! 
Machu Picchu
Just inside, we noticed pictures of some of the menu items on the wall and a picture page was included with the menu. This was especially helpful for us to understand the menu. Dora here. I noticed something else. The pungent aroma of seafood. And the interior is quite dim.

 I chose the Arroz Con Mariscos which consisted of yellow rice cooked with an assortment of seafood, mixed vegetables and spices. This dish was very good, not too spicy but very moist and tasty, and packed with perfectly cooked seafood. It would have been great if they reduced the massive portion size and included one of the interesting side items from the menu like fried plantains or yucca. 
Arroz Con Mariscos
Dora ordered Bisteck Apanado, lightly breaded deep-fried steak served with white rice and French fries. The star of this dish was the deep-fried steak, which had the right amount of breading, juicy, and so good. It was strange that this dish was served with both white rice and French fries. Dora here. This steak reminded me of Palomilla steak, my favorite dish from when we lived in Tampa. Tender and tasty, and I’d definitely order it again! 
Bistec Apanado
We opted for dessert instead of an appetizer this trip. At our waiter’s recommendation, we chose Alfajores, two shortbread cookies with Dulce de leche in the middle sprinkled with powdered sugar. A nice way to end the meal, just the right amount of crunch and not sweet. The dessert case was full of them, so obviously they sell a bunch. 
I would rate this establishment 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

Have you tried Peruvian food? What's your favorite dish?
Machu Picchu Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Excited about Writing: CALLING ALL BOOKWORMS!

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Still stinging from the publicity surrounding her father's death, social phobic Rori Harmon prefers the solitude of her animal sanctuary, accepting that marriage isn’t in her future. Racecar Driver Graham Decker refuses to be wrangled into a relationship by another money-hungry female. On a philanthropy mission, he arrives just in time to assist Rori with a llama birthing, but his appearance thrusts her into the media spotlight again. Has Graham found a woman who doesn't care how deep his wallet extends? Has Rori finally met a man who will stick around when times get tough? Is healing for a hurting heart finally within Rori's reach?

Did I snag your attention? Hope so! :) Rori's Healing is a sweet romance with a dash of sizzle and a sprinkling of faith. I'm looking for a few bloggers to help spread the exciting news about its upcoming release with a review, feature, character or author interview, or guest post. 

Rori’s Healing releases on June 5, 2015, with Pelican Book Group, and is the first in the Harmon Heritage series about three siblings who struggle to heal and love after their celebrity father’s tragic suicide. 

Would you be interested in reviewing and/or featuring Rori’s Healing on your blog? I only have a handful of pdf's left for review and/or giveaways, so don't wait! Email Dora(at)DoraHiers(dot)com. 

Aren't you thankful that Jesus conquered the grave? Wishing you a blessed Easter!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Don't Back Up by Shelley Wilburn

I have met so many wonderful people online who I hope to meet in person someday this side of heaven. Shelley Wilburn is one of those dear friends. Right now, I'll have to settle for a glimpse of her beautiful face here! :) 

Don't Back Up is a brief snippet from her debut book, Walking Healed, which released recently. If you suffer from mental or verbal abuse or depression, be encouraged that you can be healed and live a joyful life! ~Dora
Shelley Wilburn
So many times in our lives, when we are making progress, something or someone will come along and try to knock us back. In the past that happened to me a lot. Whether it was at school or at home, or somewhere in between, there were many times that I just felt like I couldn't catch a break. And I would back up. It's very frustrating.

Even though I endured much intimidation and "put-downs" through those times, I never stopped trying to figure out a way to get to where I knew I needed to be. That includes even the very night I went to the Lord for healing. I have learned that sometimes you just have to press through the jungle to get to the river.

I talk about healing a lot, I know. But it is crucial in what I do now, and even more important that I tell others. Because when it comes right down to it, without the healing, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. I can't back up.

“I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” ~Philippians 3:12, NLT

The old saying, "You've come a long way, baby" is true even for me. While I'm not a walking billboard for cigarettes, I am a walking billboard for the Lord. I have come a long way, baby! And you can come a long way, too. Just don't back up.

I have come too far to allow someone or something to stop me in my tracks. My pastor tells us repeatedly that if you are in the will of God, nothing can touch you, not even Satan! Oh, he may think he can and he may try his hardest to mess you up, but in all reality, he has absolutely NO power at all... unless you give it to him.

So many times I hear Christian people complaining about their problems and "how hard it is" to do things. It really breaks my heart to hear them when I know that if they would take their eyes off the past and what is bothering them and put them back on Christ, things would begin to work out. However, I watch as they continue on a downward spiral into the black hole of unforgiveness, bitterness, and anguish, blaming everything and everyone who crosses their path.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead...” ~Philippians 3:13a, NLT

"Well, you just don't know what I'M going through!" I hear. It isn't directly about what you're going through. It's about where your focus lies. If you aren't focused one-hundred-percent on Jesus, then don't expect positive things to happen! Plain and simple.

“...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...” ~Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NKJV (emphasis added)

If you aren't focused, if you have backed up, then how can you expect God to help you? However, if you are moving forward, trusting Him with everything you've got, then when the attacks come you will know what they are and how to handle them. You will walk through the fire unscathed instead of crumbling and complaining because you are under attack.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...” 
~Isaiah 42:2-3a, NLT

I've been there, too. I know. At some point you are going to have to ask yourself, "Is it worth it to continue to back up and let the enemy win? Or am I going to trust the One Who can get me out of it and make things better?"

Step forward today into the blessed life that God wants you to have! Start speaking positive things no matter what is going on. Speak to those things which are not as though they are. Put your foot on the neck of your enemy and declare your victory. And whatever you do... Don't Back Up!

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"Sometimes... we have to get to a certain point in our lives where we are actually ready for God to use us. And God has to get us to that certain point in our lives when the clay is ready for the Master's hands. I was at that point the night God healed me." ~Shelley Wilburn, excerpt from Walking Healed

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you weren't suffering depression, intimidation, or even verbal or mental abuse? Depression is a very real issue for many people. It causes health issues, affects relationships, marriages, your weight, and even your walk with the Lord. Many people don't understand that even Christians suffer depression. Shelley Wilburn knows and understands a life lived in the "black hole" of depression and intimidation. She suffered it for over forty years. She also knows what it's like when God heals you from it all, sending you on a wonderful journey of walking healed.

In Walking Healed, Shelley uses personal stories and biblical truths to encourage others and experience the hope that she walks in every day. She uses her story of healing to help others know that even depression is curable and that "nothing is impossible with God."

Shelley Wilburn and her husband D.A. live in a house they built together on five and a half acres they lovingly call their Rinky Dink Farm. Along with their moody little dog Buster, they love to raise chickens, ride motorcycles, and watch the wild deer and turkeys cross their field. Shelley and D.A. have three grown, married children and three grandsons.
Shelley began writing when she was twelve years old. She wrote on the Junior High School newspaper but didn’t follow her love of writing until years later. She secretly wrote poetry but never let anyone read her poems, keeping them hidden in a notebook. She has written several articles for various newspapers, women’s magazines, and newsletters but didn’t start writing full time until God healed her. That’s when she knew that writing was her full-time calling.

Shelley tells of the complete change God has done in her life through her ministry, on her website and through the motorcycle ministry she and her husband share. Using her love of writing, motorcycle riding, and wearing mismatched socks, Shelley has developed a unique ministry of encouraging others using biblical truths and stories from her own personal life.
Shelley loves to hear from her readers.
              You can find Shelley at:
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              Her ministry website:
              Twitter: @Shelley_Wilburn

              Email her at:

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