Monday, August 21, 2017

Brentwood's Ward by Michelle Griep #BookReview #Giveaway

*Please read giveaway details carefully.

and other fine booksellers.

Back Cover Copy:
 Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

The Why:
The reason I first picked up this book is because I'd heard of the "Bow Street Runners" and thought the occupation must be terribly thrilling and interesting to read about. So when I learned Michelle Griep (fellow author in the Of Rags and Riches Collection) had written a story about one, well I just had to read it.

The Main Characters:
Intriguing, entertaining, gritty, unique, mysterious... These terms best describe this tale--and it's hero--for me. Nathan Brentwood puts me in mind of Lawrence of Arabia, perhaps in his back story at least. The heroine is a well-portrayed reflection of the times, garnering more interest with every page. I was quite attached to both by the time the book ended.

The Secondary Characters:
I sort of fell in love with secondary character Alexander Moore and just found out he has his own book coming soon called The Inkeeper's Daughter! Huzzah!

The Author's Particular Talent:
Michelle is incredible at writing plot twists, action sequences, and sense-igniting phrases. Her word-smithing carves a path that you're mind must follow until you no longer are reading about the character--you are the character.

The Stakes:
The constant threat of death cried out from every page, whether the death of a career, one's innocence, a friend, or a love interest, and kept me leafing through into the small morning hours.

While a tad grittier than some CBA historicals (a near-rape scene comes to mind), the story brings to life so much history of the time and location. The characters were unlike any others I had read, and the thrill of the chase made this story shine. I wished for a little more of the heroine's faith-journey at the end, but very much admired the hero as he struggled yet relied on God no matter the circumstances.

The More Factor:
Definitely wanting to read more mysteries and historicals from this author's pen.

I'm giving away a Kindle copy of Michelle's The Captive Heart, pictured below. To enter, comment with your email (in AT/DOTcom format). OR email me at natalieATnataliemonkDOTcom if you have trouble commenting on the page. For extra entries paste an URL where you've shared this giveaway on social media. 

Back Cover Copy:
On the run from a brute of an aristocratic employer, Eleanor Morgan escapes from England to America, the land of the free, for the opportunity to serve an upstanding Charles Town family. But freedom is hard to come by as an indentured servant, and downright impossible when she’s forced to agree to an even harsher contract—marriage to a man she’s never met.

Backwoodsman Samuel Heath doesn’t care what others think of him—but his young daughter’s upbringing matters very much. The life of a trapper in the Carolina backcountry is no life for a small girl, but neither is abandoning his child to another family. He decides it’s time to marry again, but that proves to be an impossible task. Who wants to wed a murderer?

Both Samuel and Eleanor are survivors, facing down the threat of war, betrayal, and divided loyalties that could cost them everything, but this time they must face their biggest challenge ever . . .Love.

Comment Fodder:
Have you read any of Michelle Griep's books? If so, do you have a favorite?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

35 Book Christian Romance #Giveaway

Lots of giveaways going on here on the blog right now, and I'm adding a new one (recap on the other two at the end of this post)! But in the giveaway below, you could win THIRTY-FIVE BOOKS AT ONCE, including Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My other two giveaways are running in their own respective posts (click the covers to go to the posts):

Comment Fodder:
How many books have you read this summer?
Which were your favorite?

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman #BookReview #Giveaway

***Please read giveaway details carefully.***

From the Back Cover:

Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.
The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.
Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?

Connor: A gentle, protective, swoon-worthy hero. Irish. 
Isabella: A gutsy heroine determined to save her struggling plantation home. 
They both dearly love their families and put their heart and soul into pursuing their goals.
Secondary characters in this novel are memorable as well! Many unique and vivid portraits of Southern folk. This heroine has a mystery tied to her mother, which was intriguing. And I found it interesting to watch her grow from an impetuous young girl into her role of perceptive woman-of-the-house.

Fascinating history. Life and times of Mississippians at the end of the 18th century. This was before statehood, so when the men gathered on the porch to drink lemonade, they spoke of the territory and governor and banded together as property owners to deal with the issues facing them and their loved ones. I also found interesting the mentions of Irish slaves and their role during this time period.

From the moment Connor and Isabella meet at the auction block, he is so wounded and guilt-ridden and defensive, but matures through his love for the heroine and his realization that his perceptions from his past life are wrong. Connor has had a previous, hurtful relationship, but Isabella is quite innocent about men. About many things, as she has been sheltered and well-guarded in her plantation home and social circles. Though Connor has been ill-treated by a woman, gives care to be respectful and gentle with Isabella, no matter how little he trusts her. As their feelings grow, their relationship develops tenderly, showcasing Connor's protective instincts.

Well-paced, flowing, and varied. Thoughtful at times and action packed at others. Goes perfectly with lemonade and porch swings!
The danger of highwaymen along the Natchez Trace and specifically the Devil’s Backbone were historical bits I’d never heard of until reading Pam’s blogs about her research for this book. An eye-opening subject since sometimes we, at least I, tend to think of the Natchez Trace as a peaceful, scenic joyride. Not so during the 18th century. I'm glad for books like these that bring out the struggles of those in prior centuries, familiar struggles that I can relate to and learn from.

Overall Impression
The history fascinates, characters made me care about them, and I can’t wait to see what happens to the other Connor brothers!

I'm giving away a Kindle copy of Pam Hillman's STEALING JAKE, pictured below, c
elebrating one of my favorite stories from Pam's back-list. To enter, leave your email in a AT/DOT format. OR email me at natalieATnataliemonkDOTcom if you have trouble commenting. For extra entries, sign up for my/Pam's newsletter and/or post an URL in the comments where you've shared this giveaway on social media. Giveaway ends 8pm CST August 14, 2017.
Back cover copy:
When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.
Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy—literally—while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town—as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off—Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

Comment Fodder:
Have you read Pam Hillman's books before? If so, do you have a favorite?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Of Rags and Riches Made the ECPA Bestsellers List!

God is so good! 

My agent emailed me last night with some news, and I liked to have jumped out of my seat! If you're Southern, you'll know what I'm saying here. She forwarded the link to August 2017's ECPA Bestsellers List and told me to check out #16. I was FLOORED. (Another Southern phrase? I'm not sure.) 

Someone was on the phone in the room with me, so I couldn't jump up and squeal and do a Scooby Doo dance like I wanted. So I held my breath a few seconds, ran and found my mom in the other room and told her, then my sister and Dad. What a fun surprise!

Congrats to all my sister-authors in this Collection! Getting this news felt like a God-hug to me, and just knowing He is in control means so much. 

While you're here, have a slice of cake! We have chocolate, caramel, birthday, red velvet, German chocolate, orange slice, coconut, strawberry, Italian creme, and a good Southern favorite, hummingbird cake. (Anyone know where that name came from?)

I want let you in on the celebrating, so I'm giving away a paperback copy of Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection! Winner will be announced August 14, 2017. Comment with your email to enter. (Remember, to avoid spammers, separate your email into pieces or use the emailaddressATserverDOTcom format.)

Comment Fodder: What's your favorite flavor of cake?

Monday, July 31, 2017

How to Get Unstuck #Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Wanted to let y'all know I'm guest posting over at the Seekerville blog today (so exciting!) talking about getting unstuck, overcoming rejection, and facing our fears. The post is geared toward writers, but there are plenty of lessons for everyday life.

I'm giving away TWO writing craft books to two writers and TWO copies of Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection to two readers who comment on the post over there. Lots of fun interaction in the comments! Come join the fun!

Also, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to enter to win a loaded Kindle Fire from we authors of Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection! Lots of top-name books on here guys, including a copy of our Collection. So if you haven't entered yet, hop on over to the Coffee Cups & Camisoles blog to get your name in the running!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells #BookReview

From the Back Cover:

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.
Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

My Thoughts:

This book is not my usual review genre, but has the same title as one of my own early manuscripts and deals with similar themes, so I thought I'd give it a try. Also, I was curious to read a story taking on the plight of small congregations struggling under the pull of megachurches that draw members--and therefore fellowship and finances--away from the little churches. Not everything about the story sat well with me, but in the end, I was glad to have read it. If only to have another person’s view on issues I’ve lived through and that are close to my heart.

The characters and their struggles were relatable and kept a down-to-earth feel, so appropriate to the tone of the novel. The agrarian setting, the raising of cattle, brought back memories of my being raised on a farm. Issues of a small church and struggles of the pastor and daughter eased off the page to sit alongside me as I read nodding my head and smiling in several places.

Since this was a literary type novel, the first couple chapters were paced slow with lots of backstory and character reminiscing. The theme and spiritual message of this book were a tad cloudy in my opinion, but I don’t expect to agree with the message of every book I read. The author has a skill for painting vivid and unique descriptions on a gentle, emotional canvas, and I would enjoy reading more of her work.

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

George Mueller, Pinterest, & A #Giveaway

We've several things to cover in this hodgepodge post!

What does George Mueller have to do with Pinterest and a Kindle Fire? Read on.
Check out, an interesting and informative site about the man "who got things from God."

In my novella, For Richer or Poorer, my hero Woody’s inspiration was based loosely on the historical character of George Mueller (1805-1898), a man known for prayer, his great faith and devotion to God, and “getting things from God.” You can find biographical e-books about Mueller free for Amazon Kindle, and many articles about him online.

Mueller had a heart for orphans and built three large orphanages before his death at the age of ninety-three. The funds for these orphanages were not raised through fundraising or special pleas for church offerings or even through charity balls like the one in my story. Nope. George Muller’s orphanage funds came from his and his wife’s silent prayers to God alone, trusting Him as their ultimate and only Source of provision. His life and records of answered prayer are fascinating to read about. From what I recall, George was never surprised by God’s answering his prayers—he fully expected God would follow through.

My character Woody has a lot of growing to do in his novella to become like Mueller. But that's what fiction is about, right? Characters growing. Readers growing. Authors growing. Becoming more like Christ.


The CCC gals over at the Coffee Cups & Camisoles blog are having a blog blitz about the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection, where each author in the collection shares a bit about their novella. Don't miss the running giveaway for a LOADED KINDLE FIRE! Yes, I'm a bit excited about that part. I recently shared on there a few secrets about my novella For Richer or Poorer, so hop on over to read my little-known confession about the novella's faith-journey and enter to win.

Here's a peek at our collaborative Pinterest Board...

Comment Fodder:

I’m often surprised by answered prayer, probably because I don’t really believe my request is worth God's attention. But He loves to meet our needs, even small ones. That’s the sweet thing. Have you ever been surprised by a sweet answer to prayer, big or small? Tell us about it.