Tag Archives: Romance

Review: The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

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About The Wedding Chapel

An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.

When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.

Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.

My Review

I enjoyed this book more than I imagined.

Hauck manages to bring two couples, one from the past, the other from the present with four points of view. Their back story’s unfold slowly alternating from past to present. Jimmy and Colette’s story reaches from late 1940-50’s to present. Jack and Taylor’s story is present day.

Hauck delves into hard-hitting relationship issues, while the couples try to reconcile the challenges faced with ease and difficulty complete with starts and stalls. A few weighty surprises unfold providing more obstacles for the foursome.

Of the four points of view I was compelled by Jack the most. He’s wounded, closed off, struggling with his feelings, his story and craving to be more touched me. Not a surprise a majority of men resemble Jack in some form, his issues are affecting.

Spirituality was lightly sprinkled throughout the narrative, yet what was given was powerful. As the story progresses the messages increase in both momentum and strength. The wedding chapel is the apex of the story symbolizing healing, hope and forgiveness, beautifully demonstrated by Hauck.

Beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances. Quite a compelling and moving narrative with lovely messages.

About Rachel Hauck51-utIDAGrL._UX250_

Rachel Hauck writes from sunny central Florida.

A RITA finalist and winner of Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year, she writes vivid characters dealing with real life issues.

She loves to hear from readers. She also loves to encourage new writers and sits on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers..

A graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism, Rachel is an avid OSU football fan. She hopes to one day stand on the sidelines in the Shoe with Urban Meyer.

An avid Diet Coke fan, she is caffeine free. Sometimes you just have to compromise.

She’s never skied or jumped out of an airplane. She leaves such hijinks to Jason Bourne.

Published November 17th 2015 by Zondervan

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Spotlight: Storm and Silence by Robert Thier

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About Storm and Silence

Freedom – that is what Lilly Linton wants most in life. Not marriage, not a brood of squalling brats, and certainly not love, thank you very much!

But freedom is a rare commodity in 19th-century London, where girls are expected to spend their lives sitting at home, fully occupied with looking pretty. Lilly is at her wits’ end – until a chance encounter with a dark, dangerous and powerful stranger changes her life forever…

Enter the world of Mr Rikkard Ambrose, where the only rule is: Knowledge is power is time is money!

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About Robert Thier6123144

Robert Thier is a German Historian and writer of Historical Fiction. His particular mix of history, romance and adventure, always with a good deal of humor thrown in, has gained him a diverse readership ranging from teenagers to retired grandmothers. For the way he manages to make history come alive, as if he himself had lived as a medieval knight, his fans all over the world have given him the nickname “Sir Rob”.

For him, Robert says, becoming a writer has followed naturally from his interest in history. “In Germany,” he says, “we use the same word for story and history. And I’ve always loved the one as much as the other. Becoming a storyteller, a writer, is what I’ve always wanted.”

Besides writing and researching in dusty old archives, on the lookout for a mystery to put into his next story, Robert enjoys classical music and long walks in the country. The helmet you see on the picture he does not wear because he is a cycling enthusiast, but to protect his literary skull in which a bone has been missing from birth. Robert lives in the south of Germany in a small village between the three Emperor’s Mountains.

Connect with Robert: Website | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter

Published March 19th 2016 by Robert Thier

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Review: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery cover

About Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery

A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own.

My Review

Such a charming story. Mount Polbearne and Neil stole my heart. I admire Polly for pursuing her true passion even through hefty challenges. Thrilled Polly’s romantic life took a turn for the better, although I didn’t feel the connection with Huckle, chemistry was absent but the love clearly present. Malcolm was frustrating and Polly managed him wonderfully. The scrabble of a fishing village was well depicted and the problems faced plausible. The interaction and the village made this a joy to read despite its foretelling. I swear the aroma of fresh-baked bread wafted as I turned the pages. Absolutely delicious read, perfect to escape every day monotony, simply lovely.

About Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 22, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, March, Review

Review: Out In The World (Oliver & Jack #4) by Christina E. Pilz

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About Out In The World

An orphan and his street thief companion escape the confines of a workhouse where they have been awaiting trial and travel through England in search of family and home.

After escaping Axminster workhouse, Oliver and Jack go to Hale to meet Jack’s parents and sister. They then travel to Chertsey to visit Oliver’s Uncle Harry and Aunt Rose. But family is not always what it seems, and the quest for connection can sometimes lead to disappointment.

Exploring taverns and river bends along the way, both young men are driven by the idea of what a family is. Oliver wants to find a home, both for himself and Jack, searching for the security of a past he once knew. However, for Jack, Oliver is all the family he needs, and the here and now is all he has ever known.

My Review

Great writing, compelling characters.

I loved the mental and emotional connection Oliver and Jack shared, although subtle, it was approached nicely, in fact I wish Pilz delved into the connection much deeper. Undeniably attached to each other, hesitant, yet hopeful of a future, their commitment blossoms during a time when their love could at the very least land them jailed.

These two are challenged, trying to find a home, reconnecting with family, looking over their shoulder, keeping their feelings and desires secret from family and society, it’s a lot for this duo to handle, however, they rely and depend on one another and face the judgmental world together. Pilz paints the turmoil of Oliver and Jack wonderfully.

Backstory and present conditions leave the reader curious as to what will become of this affecting couple. Enough is alluded suggesting their past is rather haunting their future uncertain.

My only complaint, less intimate scenes with more dealing with fears and concerns, hopes and dreams, sharing emotionally. I’m a fan less is best when dealing with sexual scenarios. Also the narrative dragged a bit as they tramp from town to town figuring things out with nothing of merit really occurring. Pilz missed opportunities to expand on the couple sans intimate moments focusing on their bond and past really showing the authentic Oliver and Jack both singularly and collectively.

Historical romance fans with an affinity towards the Victorian era will enjoy Oliver and Jack as they navigate the future.

About Christina E. Pilz03_Christina E. Pilz

Christina was born in Waco, Texas in 1962. After living on a variety of air force bases, in 1972 her Dad retired and the family moved to Boulder, Colorado. There amidst the clear, dry air of the high plains, as the moss started to grow beneath her feet, her love for historical fiction began with a classroom reading of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She attended a variety of community colleges (Tacoma Community College) and state universities (UNC-Greeley, CU-Boulder, CU-Denver), and finally found her career in technical writing, which, between layoffs, she has been doing for 18 years. During that time, her love for historical fiction and old-fashioned objects, ideas, and eras has never waned.

In addition to writing, her interests include road trips around the U.S. and frequent flights to England, where she eats fish and chips, drinks hard cider, and listens to the voices in the pub around her. She also loves coffee shops, mountain sunsets, prairie storms, and the smell of lavender. She is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma.

Published February 21st 2016 by Blue Rain Press

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Spotlight: Oliver & Jack: In Axminster Workhouse (Fagin’s Boy, Book Three) By Christina E. Pilz

02_Oliver & Jack In Axminster Workhouse

In Victorian England, 1846, an ex-apprentice and his street-thief companion are confined inside a workhouse to await trial for a crime they did not commit.

After the seaside interlude in Lyme Regis, Oliver and Jack are arrested and sent to Axminster Workhouse to await trial for the theft of books that they only meant to borrow.

They are put in the less-than-tender care of Workmaster Chalenheim, who controls the quotas they must fill, the amount of food they are allowed to eat, and the punishments they must endure upon breaking the rules, however arbitrary.

Oliver struggles with the shame of being in a place he thought he’d left behind him long ago, and also with the contrast between the life he once enjoyed and the hunger and degradation inside the workhouse walls. Meanwhile, Jack is confronted by a predator who tests the limits of Jack’s endurance and the strength of his love for Oliver.

Together they must find a way to escape the workhouse before they succumb to the harsh conditions or are separated by the hangman’s noose, whichever comes first.

AMAZON (KINDLE) | AMAZON (PAPERBACK) | BARNES & NOBLE

About Christina E. Pilz03_Christina E. Pilz

Christina was born in Waco, Texas in 1962. After living on a variety of air force bases, in 1972 her Dad retired and the family moved to Boulder, Colorado. There amidst the clear, dry air of the high plains, as the moss started to grow beneath her feet, her love for historical fiction began with a classroom reading of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She attended a variety of community colleges (Tacoma Community College) and state universities (UNC-Greeley, CU-Boulder, CU-Denver), and finally found her career in technical writing, which, between layoffs, she has been doing for 18 years. During that time, her love for historical fiction and old-fashioned objects, ideas, and eras has never waned.

In addition to writing, her interests include road trips around the U.S. and frequent flights to England, where she eats fish and chips, drinks hard cider, and listens to the voices in the pub around her. She also loves coffee shops, mountain sunsets, prairie storms, and the smell of lavender. She is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma.

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Spotlight & Giveaway: Night Hawk by Lindsay McKenna

Lindsay McKenna Shares What It Means to Be A “Tumbleweed Writer”

I’m what I call a “tumbleweed writer.” In the first eighteen years of my life, my parents moved us twenty-two times and in six different Western states. That’s being a “tumbleweed” where I come from (a Western saying). We moved, roughly, every nine months. My father was in WW2, a sailor in the US Navy. He was blown off a gun turret on the USS Fletcher in the Pacific, and suffered horrendous injuries and PTSD. PTSD was not called that at the time. Back then, it was “battle fatigue.”

My father was also part Eastern Cherokee and he had the wanderlust in his genes. We seemed to move at least once or twice a year whether we needed to or not. I was born in San Diego, California (a great Navy city), but also saw states such as Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Idaho along the way. For a writer, this is a great boon because I got to see a lot of different people of different mindsets and beliefs. You had the Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico, Mormons in Idaho, ranchers in Montana, timber folks in Oregon and so on. I went through schools like people go through a revolving door. I learned a lot of different lingo, slang and heard a lot of different vocalizations, depending what state we lived in. All of this, of course, helps me craft my characters, so it was a good thing.

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About Night Hawk

After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man’s widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief…until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.

Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she’s never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.

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About Lindsay McKennaimage004

Lindsay McKenna is proud to have served her country in the US Navy as an aerographer’s mate third class—also known as a weather forecaster. She was the creator of the military romance subgenre and loves to combine heart-pounding action with soulful and poignant romance.

True to her military roots, she is the originator of the long-running and reader-favorite Morgan’s Mercenaries series. She does extensive hands-on research, including flying in aircraft such as a P-3B Orion sub-hunter and a B-52 bomber. She was the first romance writer to sign her books in the Pentagon bookstore.

Today, she has created a new military romance−suspense series, Shadow Warriors, which features romantic and action-packed tales about US Navy SEALs.

Connect with Lindsay:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Wolf Haven by Lindsay McKenna. Open to US/Canada residents). Ends 1/30/16.
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Filed under 2016, Fiction, January, Spotlight

Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs

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About Black Wings

A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war.

The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain.

Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured.

Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down?

GOODREADS  |  AMAZON  |  ROAEN PUBLISHING

 

Excerpt

She grabs the bottle and drinks rapidly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drink so quickly.

“Don’t eat the bottle!” I joke, hoping to put a smile on her face. She thanks me with a small smile. Suddenly the door opens, and our moment of joyful peace is broken. Lucas walks in. He comes over and grabs my hand.

“You will pay for that, damn girl!” He threatens as he hauls me off my bed.

“What did I do?” I shout at him, confused, and draw back.

“You—trying to be so nice…helping your poor beat up friend who is not supposed to have water!” He’s yelling, taking the blanket and dragging me to the door.

“Leave her alone!” Kate screams at him, jumps up to stop him. The Varkin turns around and hits her so hard she falls to the floor. Holding my hand tightly, he walks me to the elevator. As we walk in, he presses the SS button. I barely get right in before the elevator door closes, almost pinching my leg. He pushes me against the opposite wall.

“Where are you taking me?” I demand, but I’m panicking—I’m in trouble.

“Relax,” Lucas puts his cold arms around my waist. “You might still have a chance to change things…”

He pulls me close to him. I feel his ice cold lips on my neck. I close my eyes, disgusted as never before. He pushes me to the wall with his body and rips my shirt from my back.

He’s going to beat me. I’m not going to make it easy.

I shove him away. He picks me up, throws me against the wall. He slaps my face, his nails scratch my cheek.

“Stupid, damn Anlight! You will get it good this time! I promise!”

His tone brings chills, all the way down to my legs.

When the elevator stops on the SS floor, he drags me down the hallway, the blanket in his hand. My ripped shirt is left lying in the elevator. All I have on is a dirty old black brassiere that’s seen better days. He looks back, and catches a glimpse of my stomach. A couple of days ago I’d been given a deep scratch, and he’s just noticed the scratch has gone.

“What happened to your scratch? It could not possibly heal so fast!”

Lucas takes me to the room where Victorius beats me if I don’t do what they tell me. We walk in and there are about twelve other Varkins in groups. Red lights and smoke make the place into a horror scene.

“She needs punishment like never before!” he screams, tossing me like a grubby rag to the middle of the room. All the Varkins turn and look. Glowing eyes look at me—without a shirt—as I try to break my landing.

“What did she do, my dear friend?” Victorius asks. He’s calm, still sitting in his chair.

“Her room-mate was not allowed to drink,” the Varkin replies. “But this one hid water and gave it to her friend. She stole this blanket, knowing she is not allowed to have one.”

Victorius’ face is serious as he listens closely. I get up, stand right in front of him. He stands, walks down to me, around me. I feel my pulse beating with each step he takes. My body tenses—I expect him to hit me any moment. I’ve been hoping I’d get used to this torture eventually, but every new punishment brings new terror and fear.

“Well, well…” Victorius stops in front of me. “Seems like I see your pretty face here more than other Anlights. We do not have many left…but I do remember you well…” He smiles. “Let me first inform you, this Varkin here is my ‘right hand’. The one I trust the most. And now he is telling me terrible things about you. Hmm…” he looks in my eyes, “…should I believe his tales?”

I know if I tell him the truth, no one will believe me for a minute. And it would make my situation even worse. I don’t think he’ll even let me open my mouth.

“Believe what you like.” I keep looking downwards, and the other Varkins whisper around us. They didn’t expect my careless answer. They’re probably trying to figure out why I won’t try protecting myself by finding excuses.

“Lucas!” he shouts and his right hand comes to him.

“Yes, my majesty.”

“What do you think we need to…do…with her, considering everything she has done?”

“Victorius, there is something interesting you might want to know about her…” Lucas said.

“What?”

Lucas comes up to me and points at my stomach. I don’t know how to deal with this. I’m shaking as I try to cover the healed scratch with my hands.

“Two days ago she had a long cut on her stomach. It was bleeding. Now it is not there anymore. It is healed. There is something going on with her.” Lucas pulls my hands away.

“It’s not true,” I burst out. “The cut was not too deep, and it was more than two days—” Victorius slaps me before I can finish talking.

“I have noticed things like that as well, but I thought it was just my mind playing tricks with me,” Victorius talks slowly, calmly, as he turns my face back toward him with his cold hand. “Now here is evidence.” He’s smiling, which isn’t necessarily a good sign.

“We need to take her blood, do tests on her,” Lucas suggests.

“My friend,” Victorius looks at him, “tests have killed almost all my Anlights. I cannot afford to lose any more of them. But we will surely take her blood and see why she is different.” Victorius comes to my side and puts his arm around my shoulders.

“But there is one test I can do right now…”

My Review

Combs provides a thorough prologue setting the stage for plenty of anticipated action matched with interesting characters, an imaginative science fiction tale of good vs. bad peppered with correct amounts of dystopian, fantasy and romance.

Annabel is one strong female heroine. What she endures is affecting and her strength is amazing. She’s humble, quiet and grounded for what she hast lost, suffered and uncertain of the future. Combs gives an all around glimpse into Annabel and as time passes Annabel grows and evolves. She is a young woman willing to sacrifice much for her homeland and people.

The narrative is exciting, I enjoyed the practical and slow romance angle, just enough to push the story along. Annabel is traumatized from her experience and needs time to heal, I like Combs approach on this giving Annabel a realistic edge while developing a deeper connection with the audience.

Imaginative narrative with one memorable uber strong and independent female protagonist. I would love to see this translated into a graphic novel, very vivid descriptions penned by Combs, an artists keen eye could really bring the story to illustrated life.

About Iryna K. CombsIrina [DSC_9148]cmp

Originally from the Ukraine, I am still considered a new face to America. Speaking three languages including English, that became just as natural to me as my native Russian.

I grew up in a town on the south of Ukraine doing the same things that other kids my age did. Dreaming, hoping and wishing. Growing up, I spoke absolutely no English and never even saw myself somewhere abroad. Nevertheless writing a novel in another language!

I went to the local school that brought mostly negative experience in my life. But it shaped me throughout the years. My college life was much better. I was known to study well and to go out partying as much as it was possible.

In my first year of college I began to work in the marriage agency and met my future husband. We dated and traveled to most of the Europe along with Egypt.

When I finally got my fiancée visa, we both moved to the states, where soon after, got married. In the first few years I did some modeling and acting. Photo-shoots, run-way and photo in the magazine fulfilled my childhood’s dream.

A few years later I became a mother of a wonderful and most handsome little boy. Along with learning and experiencing motherhood, I began to make hand-made jewelry and organic soaps. This hobby turned into my small business and became bigger than I thought it would.

In the last year I discovered: an author lives inside me. Never did I think that I would write an English book and that I would love doing it. But I did! And I loved it!

Connect with Iryna:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter to win a digital copy of Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs. Open internationally. Ends 1/29/19.
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Published October 23rd 2015 by Roane Publishing (first published July 15th 2015)

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Review: Silent Night / Holy Night (Rock Harbor) by Colleen Coble

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About Silent Night / Holy Night

‘Tis the season for mystery and romance featuring characters from two of Colleen Coble’s most popular series!

“Silent Night”

As Christmas day nears, Bree Matthews and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.

Newlywed Bree Matthews and her husband Kade are preparing for Christmas guests when word arrives that a parachuter has disappeared in the North Woods, along Lake Superior’s icy shore. Bree and Samson plunge into the search.

Will this snowy, silent night search lead Bree and Samson to the missing girl?

“Holy Night”

One sinister phone call has derailed their Christmas wedding. Will it keep them apart forever?

Leia and Bane are looking forward to their long-awaited Christmas wedding on the beach. Everything is going as planned–until Leia’s phone rings and her world skids out of control. A muffled voice informs Leia that her sister has been kidnapped and will be killed unless Leia calls off the wedding without explanation–and no police. If she disobeys instructions and tells Bane, she’ll risk her beloved sister’s life. But can she handle this trauma without his help? And will he ever trust her again if she lies to him now?

My Review

I enjoyed the messages of both stories along with the Christmas theme. I’m also a fan of Christian fiction so the light spiritual aspect is appreciated. Silent Night focused on ungratefulness, searching for a purpose, patience, greatest hope coming true. Holy Night addressed the vulnerability of those with Down syndrome, forgiving, trust, love, overcoming childhood trauma.

I’m not a fan of the writing or the narrative, both lack puissance, far too saccharine and dilettante for my tastes.

Fans of a super fast paced novella with Hallmark traits, spirituality, wonderful messages and uplifting wrap ups with less focus on writing and underdeveloped narratives will find this pleasing.

About Colleen Coblecolleen-coble-headshot-small

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website.

Published October 7th 2014 by Thomas Nelson

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Review: Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker

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About Daughter of Sand and Stone

When Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity?

Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

My Review

Hawker does an outstanding job with time and place along with her portrayal of historic icon Zenobia.

“Because I’ve always known the gods made me for something more—more than just a wife, just a mother, just a woman. They made me for power!”

Zenobia – ambitious, headstrong, intelligent, a natural born leader, courageous, determined, a woman fighting to meet her destiny, an insatiable taste for power, accomplishing what few other women have done along with little regret. Her stellar qualities equal in her rise and fall. I couldn’t have selected a more enigmatic female fitting to build an exciting and entertaining narrative around. Her female and male peers holding her in high regard, carrying herself with grace there was no stopping Zenobia. Clearly breaking the mold of behavior and position fitting a woman, no one or nothing could have prevented her from conquering and ruling. Hawker delivered a riveting plot paying homage to an incredible woman from the pages of history unfamiliar to most.

“Accept that you’ve done what no other woman could. Not even Cleopatra was a conqueror! You’ve conquered several cities and taken Egypt out from under Caesar’s nose. Let that be enough. What more can you hope to achieve? What else is there, Zenobia?”

Hawker captured Zenobia beautifully without ignoring her softer side. My first book by Hawker and needless to say dazzled by her writing, and her strong depiction of this warrior queen possessing all the qualities I prefer my female protagonists to hold. A wonderful action packed reading journey provided by Libbie Hawker’s creativity and rich prose.

“This is her last stand, he realizes. Her final reach for her destiny—for what she believes is her destiny. If the gods do not stretch out their hands to catch her, Zenobia will now fall. There is no other possible outcome.

She has done it boldly, Zabdas knows. She has made her declaration in no uncertain terms. Whatever else the world might say of Zenobia bat-Zabbai, no one will ever be able to call her a coward.”

About Libbie HawkerUnknown-2

Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring deeply human characters, with rich details of time and place. She is the author of ten novels, most of which take place in the distant past among ancient civilizations. She lives in the beautiful San Juan Islands with her husband.

Connect with Libbie:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Published December 1st 2015 by Lake Union Publishing

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Filed under 2015, December, Fiction, Review

Review: Lone Star by Paullina Simons

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About Lone Star

Falling in love was the easy part . . .
Chloe and her three best friends are weeks away from finishing high school and beginning their new grown-up lives apart from one another. They have been friends since they were kids, their families and lives intertwined, but this is their last summer together. They plan a magical trip to sun-drenched Barcelona, with its possibility of adventure and passion. But first, Chloe has an old family promise to keep, and the four of them must detour through historic Eastern Europe.

In this fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe meets a mysterious American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile, and a lifetime of secrets. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Carnikava to Krakow, the unlikely band of friends and mismatched lovers traverses the Old World on a train ride that becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s dark pasts—a journey that jeopardizes Chloe’s plans and all she ever thought she wanted.

The ties that bind Chloe to her friends and her future are about to be put to the ultimate test. Whether or not they reach Barcelona . . . their lives will never be the same again.
A sweeping, beautiful tale of old friendships and new love that mesmerizes and enchants, Lone Star will linger long in the memory even after the final page has been turned.

My Review

Simons possesses a true talent for lush and vivid descriptions of historical events matched with place and time. She creates such a rich atmosphere for the reader truly marking the reading journey. Traveling through the Baltic region as Simons serves as tour guide was affecting, providing for a halting reading experience.

Simons depiction of Treblinka will bring tears to your eyes, such explicitness as she revisits a horrific and devastating time in history. Her strong writing captures the pain and suffering of those lost, the emotion present. Poland is fully explored through culture, tradition, people, food in such detail, you feel you’re traveling with the protagonists.

I wouldn’t consider Lone Star an epic romance, it’s more a coming of age story. Also I found the protagonists to be very young, lacking maturity, their behavior very juvenile bordering stupidity. Clearly this novel is directed towards a specific audience. The characters were difficult to build any sort of emotional attachment, they weren’t developed enough to feel any warmth, and the childishness of their actions and behavior monotonous. Being a mature reader I was unable to relate to the cast, I was once young and carefree but I possessed common sense unlike the characters. Blake was the one character with smarts, a smidgen of maturity.

The narrative is sedentary, you turn the pages but you haven’t made progress, it took me quite a bit of time to find my rhythm. Omitting 100-200+ pages would definitely speed up the pace you’ll yearn for. The plot and ending were predictable, no surprises for this reader.

Admittedly I was expecting something different and that’s my fault. Had I know this was truly a very young adult romance/coming of age story with the characters Simons penned I would have passed. Despite this being out of my taste range it was an enjoyable read. Young adult fans, no doubt, will find Lone Star very appealing.

About Paullina Simons

imagePaullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman. She was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.
Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

Excited to be included in the tour for Lone Star by Paullina Simons. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, November, Review