Friday, October 19, 2018

Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears #REVIEW

 From the Back Cover:

Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another.

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face?

Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?

My Thoughts:

As an enthusiast of the marriage of convenience trope, I do believe this is one of the sweetest renderings I've ever read. I love to ponder unique reasons people might have married without affection in times past and delight to see strangers choose love over self-preservation as they give of themselves to make things work. 

This story takes a realistic look at the struggles of a destitute widow and the kind, practical marshal who marries her to save her ranch. In this partnership, the marshal takes on a needy family he has the means to care for and a choice piece of property which reminds him him of the reason he came west. But when the ranch they married for is suddenly taken away, awkwardness ensues. Cattle rustlers, grieving children, and a sooner-than-expected attraction clutter this new marriage relationship now balancing on a wobbly foundation.

I sympathized with Annie as she struggled to preserve her family dynamic after the loss of a spouse and many buried children and make room in her heart for a new husband as society tells her she's too soon a widow. Jacob (steadfast, wise, sacrificial, distracted-grin-inducing, wish-he-weren't-fiction Jacob) is a fixer. He tries to discern God's leading in his life, tries to do his best in a demeaning, title-only marshal job, tries to fix his crumbling relationship with his best friend, tries to settle into his new role as father and husband, tries to woo his grieving wife, and tries to catch cattle rustlers before he finally learns to trust God's timing in situations he can't seem to change. And Celia...I know Celia. I believe we all have had Celias in our life, and even displayed Celia's flaws in some stage of our character development--desperation to avoid change and fighting to create her own security. Her difficult arc is the novel's concrete foundation, the dark sky from which glows all the celestial, heart-warming moments of this story. Then there is smallest of this make-shift family and possibly my favorite character, Spencer, full of hugs and sunshine, mischief and sticky buns.

Through the years I have read every Melissa Jagears book I could get my hands on, and this is my new favorite. True-to-life characters are the shining glory of this novel and a trademark Melissa Jagears carries beautifully. As I've mentioned in other reviews of her books, her immersive, heart-deep writing style calls to mind the tried-and-trusted work of one of my favorite novelists, Lori Wick.


While all the characters are flawed in their own way, I cheered them along as they faced emotional struggles, family conflict, marital issues, delinquent juveniles, dangerous cattle rustlers, and political corruption.

Themes of loneliness, societal pressures, blended families, grief, and loss were portrayed in touching, relatable ways. Now I'm counting the days until I hear what's next in the Frontier Vows series.

*I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.

Let's chat!
This book is set in Wyoming. Have you ever been there or read a book set there that sticks in your memory? It's a beautiful, rugged, sometimes lonely place. What are your thoughts about it?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette #Review and #Interview

From the Back Cover: 
The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.
As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?
My Thoughts:
 I'll try to keep it short and sweet, since we have interview questions to follow. This novel flew by. I couldn't put it down. How sweet to revisit well-loved characters and meet new ones! From exotic ocean-bound villages to sea marauders to the heart-warming inn at Kedesh, the settings and new characters are unique, unpredictable, and gripping. Plot twists, y'all! I was on the edge of my seat wondering how things would turn out, how these characters could possibly heal, and how in the world their romance could settle into happily-together-after? Beautifully described imagery, character emotions, family dynamics, and spiritual questions. On a side note, this book made me want to go swimming! Ocean-lovers will take special delight in this tale, as well as anyone who loves an ancient twist on a good pirate story! I'm looking forward to Until the Mountains Fall!

Check out the Pinterest board for Shelter of the Most High:

Conni has graciously answered some fun interview questions, and I'm so excited to share them here:
1. Is Sofea and Eitan’s story finished, or will we see more of them?
The next book, Until the Mountains Fall, opens about 8 years after Shelter of the Most High, so you will definitely see what Eitan and Sofea are up to. I won’t spoil anything about their appearances but I will say that it made me so happy to revisit them and to “see” their love story through the eyes of a grown-up Malakhi (the hero of UTMF).
2. How did you make these characters come to life?
I fell in love with Eitan as a child so I found it a fun challenge to figure out who he would be as a man and how the events from A Light on the Hill might have effected him over the years. It took me almost half of the draft before I came to understand his motivations and then went back and layered in some more personality detail. It is usually about that point in the process where the character becomes “real” to me in my head and I feel like I am getting into their shoes (or sandals, as it were…) I think it’s a little bit like acting because the goal there is to “become” the character and that’s a little what happens to me as I write, I start to feel as if I am experiencing the story through their eyes. Sofea was fairly simple, from the opening scene I just knew who she was and why she was driven to her goals. My writing partner Nicole kept comparing her to Moana for her love of the sea, so she’s got a little bit Disney princess in her too. The villain of this story (no spoilers) was a little more difficult, but eventually I figured that person out as well, but not until the entire first draft was complete. I don’t like to write villains that have no real reason for being “evil” so it usually takes me a bit longer to figure out why they do the bad things they do!
3. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?
Mostly I just drink coffee or Diet Dr. Pepper because when I am focused on writing or editing I am usually too absorbed to snack much and if I do I get carried away and graze mindlessly so that can be dangerous. That being said, I do keep a bag of Werther’s Coffee Caramel Hard Candies in a drawer to pop in my mouth when I get a craving for something sweet. Not that there haven’t been various stashes of chocolate around my office, because where else am I going to hide that stuff from my kids??

4. What does "a day in the life of Connilyn Cossette" look like?
Well, I am a night owl. So my day doesn’t usually get rolling until about 9am and my brain doesn’t truly kick in until around 10am and the coffee has hit my bloodstream. So yes, coffee first and then I usually spend a while getting my kids settled into their school day. We homeschool, but now that they are older they are a little more independent so I organize their weekly/daily schedule on Google Sheets so we can all keep track in real time and they are responsible to complete those lists each day. My daughter is pretty self-motivated so she usually whips through fairly quickly, but my son is more like me, a day-dreamer and a procrastinator, so much of my day is reminding him to hurry up and get done or suffer the wrath of extra household chores… During this time I am also dealing with social media stuff, marketing plans, emails, blogs, editing, plotting etc. Then in the early afternoon I try to get some writing done but am most productive at night when everyone is asleep and I can have silence. I usually grab a power-nap around 4:30 or so, I’ve trained my brain to fall asleep to podcasts in my headphones so I can usually snooze for about 30 minutes and then I’m set to go until 1 or 2 am. Evening consists of getting dinner ready for hubby to come home (although I am not a great cook, I’m much too impatient and day-dreamy and I have a weird aversion to measuring precisely—so pray for my family). Once things settle down in the evening and the kids are tucked into beds reading their own books, I enter my story world and have a great time talking with my imaginary friends. Most nights I text back and forth with Nicole Deese, my writing partner, into the wee hours as we work on scenes and talk about our imaginary friends with each other. So, there you have it—my glamorous and exciting life as an author in a nutshell!
5. On top of being a writer you are also a homeschooling mom, what prompted you to want to home educate your children and how do you balance both?
There were a few factors that went into our decision. I didn’t set out to homeschool, and in fact went to college to be a public school teacher but God just had other plans. By the time my son started kindergarten we’d already done a lot of learning at home and he was academically way beyond Kindergarten but nowhere near mature enough to head into first grade so it just made better sense at the time. And then I just fell in love with teaching my kids and watching them have lightbulb moments as they learned to read and write. We have a great time learning history together in particular. We’ve had lots of struggles over the years (usually with math…because, well, I’m a writer not a math-er) but it is so rewarding and I can’t even imagine not doing it now. Thankfully we have great resources to help with the balance and now that they are older they are much more independent. And this year both kids attend classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays so I have two uninterrupted days of productivity, which has been awesome for all three of us. One of the best things about homeschooling is that I don’t have to get up early and sit in a car line so we start school later in the day and I can write late and sleep in. Yay for school in jammies! I am so grateful we live in a country that gives us all the freedom to do what is best for our own families and situations.
6. How do you know you've chosen the right story-length goal for your characters and setting? Does it come from research or character development? And does it ever morph into something else as you write, or do you have a pretty firm outline from the get-go?
I would say that their story goals mostly come from developing the characters and understanding what makes them react the way they do in each situation and why. The trick for me is to really understand each person’s wounds, be they hero or villain or secondary character. If a writer can dig into past hurts and what lies a character is telling themselves, then getting them to a place of healing and/or truth becomes that much easier. I even wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about how to use wounds as you write—not only the character’s wounds but also the author’s and the reader’s as well. Here is a link to that article: As for changes along the way, my storylines and characters tend to be fairly fluid during the first draft. I am a blend between a pantser and a plotter. I do a general outline and sketch out scenes but I allow for lots of movement as I write and many times characters surprise the heck out me and do things I did not expect at all!
7. At what point in the writing process do you decide which character you are going to use in the next book?
I think that comes at different points along the way. Usually it’s when I get a flash of “story idea” from a certain character’s perspective. For some reason I could just envision Eitan as a man from the beginning so I knew I had to explore his story more. Now with Moriyah I did not decide to use her as a heroine until after Wings of the Wind was finished, so I actually had to go back in an tweak some things in editing (including the scar!) to make it all work together. And boy did I struggle over giving poor Moriyah that awful, painful brand! Since the Cities of Refuge Series had now stretched into a family saga, I’ve just chosen a new child of Moriyah and Darek each time and just love watching the family grow and change over the years.

Connilyn Cossette is the Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There's not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Connect with her at
The first book in the Cities of Refuge series, A Light On the Hill (Pictured Right), is $2.99 on Kindle and Nook and other ebook sites. Sale current as of 10.4.18.

Comment fodder:
Have you ever read any books by Connilyn Cossette?
What are some of your favorite Bible stories?
Have you ever heard much about the Biblical Cities of Refuge?

Monday, October 1, 2018

October 2018 Fiction Releases #ACFW

October 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

A Christmas to Remember by Julie Arduini, Valerie Comer, Janet W. Ferguson, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Deb Kastner, Elizabeth Maddrey, Lindi Peterson, and Ginger Solomon -- Eight authors from the popular blog Inspy Romance each share a Christmas-themed novella to put you in the mood for the season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Legacy by Lorraine Beatty -- Annie’s inheritance will provide a home for her twins and all she had to do is keep a man paying for his mistake forever. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Return by Marianne Evans -- A prodigal who never wanted to return home must repair his family farm and rush back to the big city before an old love convinces him to stay. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Harvest of Blessings by June Foster -- When Nadia accidentally sits on a stranger's lap in the graveyard where her late husband is buried, she's horrified to learn the good-looking guy with salt and pepper hair is her new boss. Jared is intrigued by this beautiful woman who puts God first in her life, but his daughter isn’t ready for him to move on after his wife’s death. As Nadia and Jared try to cultivate a relationship, will they reap a Harvest of Blessings, or a season of drought? (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson -- Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan's great-grandmother was a guest at banker Howard Dawkins' palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie's great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage--and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate's private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . . (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Reason to Breathe by Deborah Raney -- At twenty-nine, Phylicia Chandler put her life on hold to care for her dying mother with her sisters, Joanna and Britt. Now Mom is gone and their father has run off with a woman young enough to be their sister. Phylicia feels stuck--until her father's protégé, Quinn Mitchell, presents her and her two sisters with an intriguing business opportunity to purchase a trio of cottages just outside of Langhorne, Missouri. But Phylicia is skeptical. Quinn soon finds himself falling hard for Phylicia. But how can he pursue this beautiful, talented woman twelve years his junior when she's still reeling over her father's hasty engagement to a younger woman? Quinn is determined to give Phylicia her happily-ever-after. But first, he must help her come to terms with her discovery of long-held family secrets and persuade her that true love can transcend their differences. (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)

General/Women’s Fiction

An Amish Homecoming by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller , Shelley Shepard Gray, and Beth Wiseman -- A collection of four new Amish stories of coming home. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti -- These no-longer-newlyweds want out of this road trip--and their marriage. Too bad they can't find the off-ramp. (General Contemporary from Gilead Publishing)


When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma -- In 1943 Poland, the Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their peaceful farm to the harsh confines of a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia risks everything to send him messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory. The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the doorstep where she works. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear—but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price. (Historical from Gilead Publishing)

Historical Romance:

This Courageous Journey by Misty M. Beller -- When Noelle Grant sets off to visit her brother in the Canadian Rockies, the prospect of making a name for herself as a news correspondent finally seems within reach. But when the dangers become more than she bargained for, she finds herself—and the mountain man she’s come to love—in a situation more hazardous than any story her imagination could conjure. (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Reluctant Warrior by Mary Connealy -- Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to Lake Tahoe to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall -- As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette Everstone meets someone she can't help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of "what if" at bay? (Historical Romance from Whitaker House)

The Christmas Heirloom by Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, Becky Wade, and Karen Witemeyer -- A family heirloom brings true love to its bearers through the generations as it is handed down from mother to daughter. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

A Heart for Freedom by Janet Grunst -- Life was better than she dreamed, now the conflict between the British and the colonists threatened the loss of everything dear, even her husband. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears -- Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another. Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face? (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear -- Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mist O’er the Voyageur by Naomi Musch -- Desperate to flee a cruel suitor, Metis woman Brigitte Marchal flees into the wilderness to find her long-lost, fur-trader father, but who will save her from the dangers of being a woman among a voyageurs’ brigade? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Romantic Suspense:

Five Years In Yemen by Luana Ehrlich -- When the President issues a memorandum to bring home a military scientist who went missing in Iraq, CIA operative Titus Ray has been given the assignment. However, when the mission takes an unexpected turn after his contact is murdered in Riyadh, Titus is forced to make changes in the mission’s protocols, changes that endanger his operational team and have lasting consequences for his future. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon -- A woman who owns a fair trade shop and a police detective find themselves plunged into international intrigue—and danger—when people connected with her shop begin dying. (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills -- A hostage negotiator is thrust into danger and betrayal when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Supernatural Thriller:

Surrounded by Darkness by Rachel Dylan -- When attorney Olivia Murray opens a legal clinic for victims of domestic violence in Windy Ridge, she knows she will face legal and spiritual opposition. The New Age presence has grown stronger as alliances form between groups hoping to spread their destructive way of life and gain a stronghold in the community. While the forces of evil target Olivia’s new clinic, her legal partner Grant Baxter, and her relationships, she refuses to let them stop her quest for justice. Will Olivia’s and Grant’s faith be strong enough—in God and each other—to prevail in the battle that threatens to bring darkness to the entire town? (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])


A Dance of Shadows by Erica Marie Hogan -- Ten days have passed since Sundragon blood was shed for a sacrifice by Raphaela Kael. Ten days since Lathan and Maxx Jandry fled the city in search of Princess Damari Kael and their niece, Noelle. Brecken Jandry, Brae’s loyal husband, remains a tortured prisoner in the Kael dungeons and no one in Sunkai is safe from Roderick and Raphaela’s wrath. Damari Kael flees Sunkai with little Noelle Jandry, determined to deliver the child to the safety of the Shadow Lands, even as her own power emerges within her. The Eventide Sisters embark on a mission to join the Winter Queen. Across the land, Clea Jandry arrives in her birthplace of Molderëin where she is met with a savagery she thought long dead. Afra Malaki seeks the Creator’s will and the Queen of the Woodlands prepares for battle. In the peaceful city of Quintaria, the Winter Queen grieves. But the shadows are coming for her. They carry a message for Adlae Sundragon, and they will not rest until all is revealed. (Fantasy from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Body By Blood by Dr. Patrick Johnston -- In the not-too-distant future, where cloned bodies are marketable commodities among the super-rich, leaving graveyards of trampled dehumanized classes in science's wake, the richest man in the world who pioneered the breakthrough technologies learns the meaning of true love from a disabled granddaughter. (Speculative Action Adventure from Ambassador International)

Mercury Rising by Tim and Gail Sattler -- Four ordinary people are thrown into an extraordinary situation when they are thrown into a diabolical plot hidden under the guise of global warming. (Contemporary Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Awakened by Richard Spillman -- If Lazarus didn't die a second time what would he be up to today? (Speculative from Mountain Brook Ink)

*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman #REVIEWED

From the Back Cover:

1792, Natchez Trace, MS
Bitter since his eldest brother abandoned their family in Ireland, Quinn O’Shea travels to Natchez, Mississippi, ready to shuck the weight of his duty and set off on an adventure of his own. It’s time Connor, as head of the family, took responsibility for their younger siblings. While aboard ship, a run-in with three Irish sisters lands Quinn in the role of reluctant savior. Though it may delay his plans, he cannot abandon the Young sisters, especially the tenacious yet kind Kiera.

Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera Young prepares to meet her intended and begin her new life. But she soon discovers the marriage her brother-in-law arranged was never meant to be, and a far more sinister deal was negotiated for her and her sisters.

Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice.

My thoughts:

Wonderful book--one of my favorites released this year!

From the details of plantation life all the way to the major plotline of human trafficking, this story was riveting. I so enjoyed getting to know the characters and watching them fall in love as they faced the challenges of survival, keeping their siblings out of trouble, and searching for a place to truly belong. I have also added this book to a Goodreads List of Christian Novels Containing Sigh-worthy Kisses! Such a sweet romance. I love how protective the hero is of his lady, even when he denies his attraction for her and knows their goals in life are far different. The game-changer characters blew me away, and I loved how volatile things became when these characters were on the page. Seeing Connor and Julia again brought back sweet reader-memories of their love story, while following their current relationships as they navigate the demands of plantation life. Pam Hillman has produced another Southern classic! Can't wait until the third book in the series!

Comment fodder:
Can you name any other Christian romance books set in the antebellum South?

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher and have stated my honest opinions.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2018 Fiction Releases #ACFW

September 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

A Baby for the Minister by Laurel Blount -- Jilted at the altar, Natalie Davis has no one she can turn to—until Jacob Stone steps in. The single minister’s drawn to the beautiful mommy-to-be and wants to help…even if it goes against his congregation’s wishes and could cost him his job. But when she refuses to accept charity, can he convince her she’s more than a ministry project? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Her Secret Heart by Mary Davis -- Deborah Miller lives a double life as an Amish woman—and a fashion model! All photography is forbidden in her Plain community, so she must keep her job a secret. But when Amos Burkholder starts helping at her family’s farm, hiding the truth from him is impossible. And soon she must choose between the Englischer world of modeling and the Amish man she’s come to love. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

12 Gifts of Christmas by Lena Nelson Dooley -- Can Malcolm MacGregor, a contemporary descendant of Scottish lairds, capture the heart of Brazilian-Italian beauty, Alanza Cantalamessa, in 12 days? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

All Made Up by Kara Isaac -- Katriona McLeod has never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she's ever loved. When she accepts a job as a make up artist on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she's cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Holiday Wedding by Carrie Lighte -- On the brink of losing her bakery, the last thing Faith Yoder’s interested in is courting—until Hunter Schwartz returns to Willow Creek. After hiring him to deliver her treats to a Christmas festival, Faith’s determined their relationship will stay strictly professional. But despite a secret that’s kept her single, Faith can’t help but wish she and Hunter could become husband and wife. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Holiday by Marissa Shrock -- The Christmas season greets Georgia Winston with a new boyfriend (maybe), a Christmas program to run, and a man dying at her feet. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction

From the Lake to the River by JPC Allen, Bettie Boswell, Carole Brown, Sandra Merville Hart, Tamera Lynn Kraft, Sharyn Kopf, Michelle Levigne, Cindy Thomson, and Rebecca Waters -- Set in Ohio, in the past and present, these nine short stories and novellas by Ohio authors cover a wide range of genres, topics and locations. From Troy in the west to the North Coast and south-central Ohio. From Lake Erie to the Ohio River. From romance to YA adventure, with touches of mystery and humor. Dealing with historical events and situations, such as floods and the lasting effects of the Civil War. With characters involved in square dancing, theater, and music. Dealing with loss and danger, a second chance at love and taking a chance on love for the first time. Chances are good, no matter what you have a taste for reading, you'll find something to like. Welcome to a taste of the Buckeye State! (General Contemporary from Mt Zion Ridge Press)

Place Called Home by Brenda S. Anderson -- While building his graphic design company, Nate Brooks is focused on the future he's dreamed of: traveling around the country from the comfort of his renovated school bus. But when he picks up a wounded, mysterious hitchhiker, those well-laid plans take a backseat to protecting her. Hobbled by her injury, and unable to keep running from her controlling ex, Tessa fears she'll never find freedom. Or has she found it with the family who graciously opens their home to her? And will Nate's protection put his family--and his heart--at risk? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann Nelson -- Jillian Connors has big expectations for her teenage daughter, Gabby, an Olympic hopeful---until Gabby becomes pregnant with her boyfriend Travis's child. Meanwhile, Margaret Owens is furious that Gabby's condition jeopardizes her son's baseball scholarship. In the midst of the family drama lies the fate of the unborn baby. What does the future hold for him? (General Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson -- A gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted the evils of the Hitler regime in their own extraordinary way. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick -- A Victorian woman who traveled 15,000 miles by stage between 1870-98 decides to tell the story behind her memoir believing her husband will never see it. (Historical from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Enya’s Son by Cindy Thomson -- This retelling of the early life of St. Columcille and his mother will usher readers on a fateful journey through ancient Ireland’s monastic centers, her wild coastline islands, and the land Columcille believed was filled with holy angels, a place where he felt safe … yet was destined to abandon. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

Victorian Christmas Brides by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstads, and Erica Vetsch -- Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Esther’s Temptation by Lena Nelson Dooley -- Saddle weary, former deputy US Marshal Jac Andrews rides into Denton, Texas hunting a swindler-and-daughter criminal team and finally feels he’s caught up to them. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted by the lovely redhead, Esther Brians. Esther, feeling like an old maid surrounded by all her close friends who are happy married couples, is drawn to the intense gaze, blue as the Texas sky, of an unknown cowboy. But several things cause her to become wary of his intentions—and his spiritual well-being. Has this unsaved lawman captured Esther’s heart or will the Lord deliver her from the temptation of Jac’s presence? What will it take for Jac to win this lovely lady and become Esther’s husband? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler -- Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents' insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother's name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother's place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation? (Historical Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Romantic Suspense:

Loving the Texas Negotiator by Mary Connealy -- Beth Garrison is the top hostage negotiator in Rocky Ridge Texas. She's called in to a task force to investigate a killing that is a copy cat of her first bust as a rookie cop. The Valentine Killer.
Tate McCade, with the best arrest record on the force and a reputation for steamrolling anyone who gets in his way, heads the task force. He's had a run-in with Beth and her oversized ego. He's got a bruise on his face to prove it. Rather than have the pleasure of busting her back to walking a beat, he has to work with her. And the clock is ticking because there's a woman and child missing and nothing about the crime adds up. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Guardian of Ajalon by Joan Campbell -- The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, her only respite is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock. Unwilling to sit idly by as her kingdom is destroyed, Queen Nyla leaves her hiding place to recruit a most unlikely army—the Charab. But how can she win over the infamous assassins who have been oppressed by her family for generations? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)

*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

August 2018 Fiction Releases #ACFW

August 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Scarlet Tears by Laura Hervey -- Caught in a romantic triangle with her brother’s best friend and a charming pastor, former call girl Carly Lawrence struggles to start a new life. (Contemporary Romance from Alabaster Box Press)

Historical Romance:

Rebecca’s Legacy by Betty Thomason Owens -- After a threat against her family, a spoiled heiress is sent to the country to work on her aunt’s produce farm and finds love. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)

The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse -- Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Harvest by Marissa Shrock -- Georgia’s biggest challenge in the farming town of Wildcat Springs, Indiana, is figuring out how to win Evan Beckworth’s heart. Until the day she discovers the body of a former student in the woods. When she starts to suspect this wasn’t an accident, memories stir of her father’s murder nine years earlier. A murder never solved. As Georgia works with the sheriff's department’s newest detective, Cal Perkins, she finds her heart slipping into his hands. But her head is pummeled with conflicting evidence and anonymous threats of severe consequences if she digs any deeper. In the end, Georgia faces a paralyzing choice. Ignore the dark secrets inside the family and friends who surround her or be willing to risk her own life to uncover the truth. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

Unknown Enemy by Janet Sketchley -- A young woman with a traumatic past must discover the truth about who's playing mind games with the Green Dory Inn's owner. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Hiding in Plain Sight by Mary Ellis -- When a Charleston PI rents a room above an Italian restaurant owned by a handsome chef, she lands in the middle of a family feud with robbery, arson and murder for the daily specials. (Romantic Suspense from Severn House Publishers LTD)

Wildfire by Gayla K. Hiss -- A female wildfire scientist and a firefighter team up to solve the mystery behind the outbreak of wildfires in the Rockies and find themselves at the center of a firestorm. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Amish Country Ambush by Dana R. Lynn -- A police officer and a dispatcher travel deep into Amish country to rescue her nephew and to escape a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Imperfect Promises by Elizabeth Noyes -- When a homegrown terrorist threatens the woman he loves, former Special Forces soldier Jonas Cameron calls on old friends to help him eliminate the danger. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

Cold Fear by Susan Sleeman -- When a sniper’s ex-girlfriend, a musician, is framed for murder during her summer tour, he jumps to defend her from an imminent arrest and a killer’s deadly rage. But the evidence against her stacks higher as three bodies are found with her name tattooed on their wrist. (Romantic Suspense from Edge of Your Seat Books, Inc.)

Cold Case Cover-Up by Virginia Vaughan -- The first thrilling Covert Operatives tale An infant is believed to have been murdered thirty years ago—but investigative journalist Dana Lang is convinced she’s that baby. Now someone’s willing to kill to stop her investigation. And only secretive deputy Quinn Dawson, whose grandfather may have faked Dana’s death to protect her, can keep her safe. But a killer’s dead set on burying the past—and them—for good. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Pretense by John Di Frances -- A dark cloud hangs over Europe after the brutal murders of two heads of state just days apart. A diabolical plot appears to stretch westward to the United States, implicating the CIA. But do the facts reflect reality or is there a sinister force working behind the scenes to destabilize Europe and NATO? The team of investigators led by Interpol’s Marek Frakas, 'The Wolf,' moves quickly to track the perpetrators and uncover the identity of the unseen mastermind behind the conspiracy. This cadre includes the lovely Adrianna, a young forensic weapons expert who can hold her own on the male-dominated international team of investigators. Together they seek to understand reality versus the shattered mirror-like reflections meant to obfuscate the truth and shroud the mastermind’s identity and ultimate purpose. (Political Thriller from Reliance Books Publishing, LLC)

Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig -- Dismantled centuries ago, the sword of Goliath is still rumored to thirst for its enemies' blood. Cole "Tox" Russell wants only to put the dangers of his past behind him and begin his new life with Haven Cortes. First, though, he's called to complete a final mission: retrieve the sword and destroy the deadly Arrow & Flame Order. The AFO, however, is determined to reunite the sword. With the Wraith team slowly being torn apart, things worsen when Mercy Maddox, a new operative, emerges with the stunning news that the artifact is tied to a string of unsolved serial murders. Tox and the others are forced to set aside fear and anger to target the true enemy. No matter the cost, Wraith must destroy the AFO . . . or join them in the flames. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.