When You Look At Me Review

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When You Look At Me is another dazzling story by the fabulous Pepper Basham.

About the book:

An unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

My thoughts:

I love how the author tackles different personalities in each of her books. In this story, the main characters are both introverts with a passion for music. The heroine, Julia, is reeling from a devastating incident which left her heart wounded and her mind cautious of romance. From the first chapter I found myself rooting for her, championing her happily ever after.

Henry is the exact opposite of the outgoing hero, Wes Harrison, from book one. Henry’s reflective. One who’d rather listen than speak. But just like the music he composes, there’s a richness to his character. Pair him with the tender-hearted Julia, and you have a beautifully crafted romance.

One thing I love about Pepper Basham’s writing is that she paints the scenes with words. You not only can visualize the stunning backdrop of Blue Ridge mountains, but you are there, inhaling the crisp air, taking in the vibrant hues. With this lovely story, you also get enthralled with the music. The author describes it so vividly you can almost hear the strums of each song.

Above all this, there’s a thread of mystery with Julia’s aunt and the charming home bequeathed to her.

I love the spiritual elements that the author weaves into each of her stories, and this one is no exception. The theme of being brave, of stepping out even while fear screams its ugly threats, is refreshing and heart-strengthening.

Hats off to Pepper Basham for yet another five-star novel. I’m eagerly awaiting the next story in this series.

*I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Click HERE to purchase When You Look At Me!

About the Author:

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. In December 2016, her third historical in the Penned in Time series, The Thorn Healer – released with a 4 1/2 star review from RT and a Top Picks rating. You can get to know Pepper on her website, www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

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On Magnolia Lane Review

 

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On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter was a tender conclusion to her Blue Ridge Romance series.

About the story:

Falling in love with Daisy was easy for Jack. But finding the courage to tell her becomes problematic when his secret feelings lead to even bigger complications.

After two years of counseling sessions with Daisy Pendleton, Pastor Jack McReady has earned a permanent spot in her life as a spiritual leader—and nothing more. Jack would never risk losing her trust by exposing the depths of his heart, but he’s hopelessly in love with her.

Daisy loves her southern small-town life and her job at her family-run flower shop, but she doesn’t have the thing she longs for most: someone to share it with. Her recent foray into online dating has been a disaster—until she meets TJ.

Jack could kill his friend Noah for using his initials and some indistinct photos to set up a profile on the dating app Daisy is using. But when he’s finally afforded the opportunity to show her a different side of himself, he’s sucked into the plan before he has time for second thoughts.

Online, Daisy shares some of her greatest fears with TJ, but in person, Jack and Daisy are spending more time together. When a devastating family secret surfaces, Daisy knows that only her trusted friend and counselor can bring her comfort. Jack wants nothing more than to be both men for Daisy, but revealing his secret will prove to be the ultimate test of Daisy’s grace.

My Thoughts:

I adore Daisy Pendleton. In fact, I’m gonna go as far as saying that she’s my favorite Denise Hunter heroine to date. Daisy’s always-do-what’s-right attitude coupled with her sweet nature earned my highest respect. But even more, she struggles with the dyslexia which affects her self-perception. Experiencing how she faces her inner demons while battling the external conflicts which arise in her family is poignant and heart-strengthening.

Of course there’s a tender romance BUT what stood out to me in this book more than any other of Ms. Hunter’s novels is the running theme of relationships. Throughout the story, Daisy encounters situation after situation regarding relationships with everyone she’s close to (And even some she’s NOT close to—when you read the story, you’ll know exactly whom I’m referring to. ;)) She’s met with pivotal decisions that alters her perception of past relationships and affects the status of current ones. On top of all this, she’s juggling a could-be romance with an online admirer while also becoming aware of her growing feelings for her pastor, Jack McReady.

Ms. Hunter tackles several difficult subjects in this novel with such a grace-infused delicacy that it leaves the reader’s heart uplifted and refreshed. This author also excels in creating characters that are relatable as well as unforgettable. This story will appeal to  many readers especially those who adore the movie You’ve Got Mail and the classic Shop Around the Corner.

* I received a copy of this story by the author. All opinions are my own.

To purchase On Magnolia Lane click HERE!

About the Author:

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Carol Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest. To learn more about Denise, visit her website DeniseHunterBooks.com; Facebook: AuthorDeniseHunter; Twitter: @DeniseAHunter; Instagram: deniseahunter.

An Hour Unspent Review

 

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I love it when a story transports me to another era, to another land. When the characters are so vivid that you forget they’re imaginary. When actual historical events are woven seamlessly into the engaging plot.

An Hour Unspent, by Roseanna M. White, contains all of these factors.

About the story:

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence, but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge–and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger–and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.

My thoughts:

The hero, Barclay Pearce, was introduced in the first book of this series, A Name Unknown, and had cameos in the second story, A Song Unheard. He’s the eldest “brother” of the group complete with a protective streak and a penchant for novels. While we get glimpses of him in these books, In An Hour Unspent, we get an in-depth look at his insecurities and his strengths. At his vulnerable background and his authentic faith. His interactions with Evelina were both humorous and tender. I love when a hero is loyal, and that, my friend, is Barclay. His devotion is as reliable as Big Ben, and that was one of the reasons why I adored this story.

Evelina was an unforgettable heroine with a poignant character journey. And while us readers experience her struggles and her shortcomings, we also experience her growth and triumphs. The pairing of the Evelina with London’s notorious thief, Barclay, may seem illogical and impossible, but it’s truly beautiful and full of grace.

As a side note, the mysterious character V has a greater role in this story. I love that the author gives the reader a better glimpse into his life.

Besides the phenomenal romance thread, there are elements of suspense, mystery, and dashes of humor that only a talented author like Rosanna White could bring. Set all of this in front of the intriguing backdrop of WWI, and you have the workings of a spectacular story.

This final book of the series exceeded my expectations! I can’t wait to see what this author serves up next!

* I received a copy of the story from the author. These opinions are my own.

If you’d like to be swept away by this fabulous novel, then you can click here to purchase.

About the author: 

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

 

Dead Drift Review

 

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I have to admit that after I finished Dani Pettry’s novel Blind Spot, I scoured the internet until I found when the next story, the final book in the Chesapeake Valor Series, would be released. Dead Drift certainly was worth the wait.

About the Book:

Burning debris littering the ground . . . smoke pluming in the acrid air . . . this is just the beginning if he fails.

Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to become part of an elite team set on capturing a deadly terrorist. When Luke returns to face those he left behind, their help becomes his only hope of stopping his target’s latest threat of an attack that would shake America to its core.

Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he’s back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster.

Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next mark?

My Thoughts:

This novel is brimming with suspense, mystery, and romance. There were so many strong elements in this story that I’m having difficulty pinpointing where to start! But because I’m a sucker for a great romance, I’ll start with the love factor.

You get a glimpse of Luke and Kate’s romantic history earlier in the series, but their rocky relationship takes center stage in this story. CIA operative Luke Gallagher had always loved Kate Maxwell but his decisions had left her heart wounded and his soul dark. One of my favorite lines of the story was:

“To Luke, home had become far more than a physical dwelling. To him a home was where his heart resided, and she was sitting three inches to his right.”

There was both witty banter and deep conversations between these characters. It was moving to see how Luke’s past choices had affected Kate’s ability to trust. These two worked together in pursuit of exposing a terrorist plot all the while trying to sort out the rifts in their own relationship.

The suspense element was fast-paced and engaging. It was unpredictable and filled with surprises. As a reader, I love when I can’t guess the ending! The story was the grand finale of a spectacular series. Props to the author for crafting an intricate plot but writing it in a fluid way so I never got lost or confused.

I was sad to see this series come to an end, but I look forward to more from this talented author.

To purchase your copy of DEAD DRIFT click here!

*I received a copy of this story from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

About the Author:
61WDg6mqsRL._US230_.jpgDani Pettrey is the bestselling author of the Chesapeake Valor series and the Alaskan Courage series and winner of the 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Novel, the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best Award for Suspense, and the 2013 Holt Medallion for First Novel. She and her husband reside in the D.C. Metro area. She can be found online at http://www.danipettrey.com.

Justice Betrayed Review

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Justice Delayed is the first book I’ve read by author Patricia Bradley, and I am so delighted to note that this story was exceptional.

About the book:

It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer?

When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four?

My Thoughts:

I immediately bonded with the heroine, and not only because we share the same first name. 😉 Rachel Sloan was flawed and relatable. She’s been searching for overdue answers concerning her mother’s death, while working as a homicide detective. We glimpse a lot of her professional demeanor, but her soft-hearted nature emerges when interacting with those she loves. I especially adored her relationship with Erin, a special needs young woman. Rachel’s life brimmed with complicated associations from her strained relationship with her no nonsense father to her superior in the homicide department, Boone Callahan, whom she dated prior to her transfer to the department.

Boone Callahan was protective and consistent. I enjoyed reading as the two main characters worked together untangling the scrambled case. Honestly, at first I thought that this story was going to be predictable, but—woah—I was clearly wrong! The plot had twists and turns and a jaw-dropping conclusion.

The romance was a great complement to the suspense factor. The relationship between the two main characters was believable and tender. The pacing of this story was superb and just right for this genre. I truly enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to see what this talented author will come up with next!

I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Purchase your own copy of Justice Betrayed here!

About the author:

Patricia Bradley is the award-winning author of Justice Delayed and Justice Buried, as well as the Logan Point series. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.

 

Find Your Sword

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Discouragement. The persistent nemesis that endeavors to score our souls, aiming to shred our faith. No matter where you are in life, discouragement seems to find you. Threaten you with its taunting lies, pressuring you to succumb to its doubt-laden grip.

Recently I had entered the sparring ring with this ugly foe, going several bouts before realization hit—I’m not prepared for such a fight. Not on my own. So I called for back-up, meaning I prayed. And the answer came in such an unusual, magnificent way.

But first, a little background. I kinda want to set the stage.

David was a man who knew triumph and loss. Hope and discouragement. So I’ve been reading through Psalm and other books that listed David’s life. And I came across this.

Only a few chapters after David gets blessed by Jesse and then sequentially killed the giant Goliath, he finds himself in a tough spot. So tough he actually declares “that there is only one step between me and death.” (1 Samuel 20:3) David was out of sorts. Saul was trying to kill him, and David was struggling. How could he honor the king that God had anointed while that very same man had been plotting his death?

So then David visits the priest. While there, David asks, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon…” (1 Samuel 21:8) Now, David is a warrior. In fact, he is the captain of the king’s army. Saul is after him. Saul’s men are after him. David should know better than to remain unarmed. Wouldn’t you think the guy would have some sort of defense?

Then it struck me. When the craziness of life hits, how often do we find ourselves unprepared? Scary circumstances arise, and we look at our empty hands and think, “I got nothing. I can’t stand against this.”

But don’t give up hope! Because you’re about to get your sword.

The priest replied to David, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it…”

The VERY sword David slew Goliath with, had been wrapped up in cloth and basically shoved in the closet! Not set under glass and on display. Not carried in parades all over Jerusalem. That sword represented one of the greatest showdowns in history, and it was buried under cloth. Forgotten.

How often do we do that to our God-given victories—just wrap them up into the folds of our minds, forgotten and unappreciated. It’s time to shake the dust off and bring them to the front of our thoughts.

So of course, when David realized the sword had been stored there, he nabbed it. Saying, “There is none like it; give it to me.” He knew it was special. When that sword was placed back in his hands he probably relived that moment of glorious triumph over the enemy. Remembering the awesome victory God had worked in his life, being infused with faith afresh.

Just like David, we need to grab that sword and carry it with us, being ever ready to wield it against discouragement’s attacks. Your sword would most likely NOT be one of steel or iron, but perhaps it’s a memory. A time when God had miraculously delivered you in a tough situation. Or maybe it’s an actual object. Like mine.

My sweet daughter was diagnosed autistic when she was three. There were developments supposedly beyond her reach. Challenges, professionals had projected, she may never overcome. One of those obstacles was potty-training. This one is personal for me, because it was rough. Rough on my daughter because, at the age of seven, she knew it wasn’t normal to be in diapers. At that time, she was mostly non-verbal, but just because she couldn’t express her frustration with words didn’t mean it never shown in her dejected expression, her sorrow-filled eyes. We prayed and believed. Month after month. Diaper box after diaper box. And even though it felt hopeless, we continued to hope. Then one day, it clicked. And she never had an issue again. She never even had an accident! When God does something, it’s HUGE.

But like most, I’d forgotten what a colossal triumph that was for our daughter.

One recent afternoon, I was feeling discouraged about our daughter’s progress. It just seemed she had SO much more obstacles to overcome. Every hindrance seemed to glare at me, mocking. With my eyes watering and my hopes floundering, I went into the garage for something…then I saw it.

The diaper box.

I’m not exactly sure why we still had one. It was broken down and stuffed into another box but I had spotted it. And I remembered. I thought of those days we struggled and cried. Those moments I’d gathered my daughter close and whispered God would help us.

Faith rekindled.

That diaper box had become my sword. A reminder of God’s mighty hand in our lives. Since that encounter in the garage, I had used that to fight discouragement when a situation arises which tries to knock me out of faith. God is listening and He is faithful. So when God works the miraculous, I choose not to wrap it in unbelief, but rather put it on display in my mind.

Just as the Psalmist says, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”

So tell me, what’s your sword that you wield in the face of discouragement? OR what has God done lately in your life that you find oh-so-awesome?

Falling For You Review

 

“Perhaps she’d been so bent on protecting herself from the improbable that, somewhere along the line, she’d stopped believing in the miraculous.” Willow from Falling For You

This quote! The ministering impact on my heart when I read those words! See, this is why I adore Christian fiction. Because while the mind is agreeably engaged in a captivating story, the heart is in a constant state of refreshing. It’s beautiful. And so is Becky Wade’s latest release Falling For You. From the gorgeous cover to the mesmeric prose, this book is uniquely stunning.

About the Story:

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

My Thoughts:

Any time I review a Becky Wade novel, the fangirl in me emerges. Never fail. And with this book, it’s no different. I loved Willow’s character when she was introduced in True To You, and even in those few scenes, the tension between Willow and Corbin was thick and tangible. I couldn’t wait until they took center stage! And their story didn’t disappoint!

In Falling For You, the main characters search for a woman who’s been missing for decades. Decades! Add in the spark-ridden chemistry between Willow and Corbin, and you have a fabulous, can’t-stop-turning-the-pages kind of story.

Becky Wade creates characters that are not only believable but relatable. The motives, the dreams, the strengths and weaknesses of Willow and Corbin stem from the events and circumstances in which they’d experienced over the years, giving them layers of authenticity. That’s what I love about her stories. She “gets” people. Becky, where were you during my teenage years?! I totally digressed, but seriously, this author knows how to craft characters. Extremely well.

Of course the romance was tender and brilliant, but what stirred my heart was Willow’s spiritual growth. I won’t detail her fabulous “God-moment” for spoiler’s sake, but I will admit it was my favorite scene of the book.

I unashamedly neglected housework and social media browsing to consume this story. I was hooked from the first chapter. There were plenty of sighs. Numerous bursts of laughter. And a continual elevation of my heart. I’m SO looking forward to book three!

Want to snag this wonderful story? Click here

* I received a copy from the author. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

14717107_1209316469138525_2511127232118521208_nBecky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Christy Award, a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at http://www.beckywade.com.