Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 2019 Fiction Releases #ACFW

January 2019 New Releases

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


Amish Romance:



Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston -- Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)



Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis -- Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Contemporary Romance:



Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron -- Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)


Cozy Mystery:


Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman -- Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)



Historical Romance:


My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham -- Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller -- Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)



Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick -- With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)




Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



Devotion by Olivia Rae -- Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)


*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.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

December 2018 New Releases #ACFW

December 2018 New Releases

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


Amish Romance:



The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller -- It's almost Valentine's Day at Beechy's Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)



Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman -- When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig -- On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)



The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig -- Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)



Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig -- When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)



Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte -- Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)


Contemporary Romance:



Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Historical:



Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy -- Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)



The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller -- Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn't turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn't know where—or if he's ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they'll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)



Child of Light by Annette O’Hare -- While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret's prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])



The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson -- Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid--Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)


Historical Romance:


The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women's rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson -- When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)



Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance 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.




Thursday, November 1, 2018

November 2018 Fiction Releases #ACFW

November 2018 New Releases

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



Contemporary Romance:



Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin -- In the small town of Jingle Junction, Holly Winters owns the local coffee shop, Jolly Java. It's here that she meets Patrick Cooper and promptly throws coffee everywhere. Not only does Patrick not like coffee, he also despises Christmas! It's up to Holly to show Patrick that Christmas is worth giving a second chance, just as Patrick himself deserves a second chance when he is accused of robbing a local convenience store. In a town full of Christmas spirit, lively debates over the best superhero and riding in a sleigh pulled by actual reindeer is just a normal day. Will Holly be able to prove to Patrick that Christmas is more than a holiday that has to be endured? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick -- Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding. Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile. What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter -- When his secret crush joins a dating website, Jack takes a leap of faith and soon becomes Daisy's online suitor. But when they begin growing closer in real life also, Jack finds himself with an unexpected dilemma. Is Daisy falling for the real Jack or for the online version of himself? And how is she going to respond when she finds out they’re one and the same? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)



A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker -- Baxter Reid returns to his hometown of Romance, eager to see his childhood crush. Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t forgotten all the ways he used to tease her back then. He’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to get a second chance. Savannah Miller avoids Baxter and the embarrassing childhood memories he evokes…until he apologizes and suggests a truce. Now what is she supposed to do? Only time will tell whether the spirit of Christmas in Romance is enough to transform a grudging relationship into true love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



I Still Do by Melanie D. Snitker -- What's worse than running into your ex-husband? Becoming snowbound with him and an avalanche of memories you can't escape. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:



A Southern Season by Eva Marie Everson, Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda Yezak -- Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)



Historical:


Second Chances by Carol Ashby -- A widowed father, still grieving the loss of his wife and child, and a devoted mother, who leaves behind everything she’s ever known to rescue her daughter from the ex-husband who would hurt her, are first drawn together by their love for her little girl, but God has much more for them than either could have imagined. (Historical, Cerrillo Press)


Historical Mystery:


Murder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett -- May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. (Historical Mystery, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:


The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, and Marilyn Turk -- Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 at Great Lakes Lighthouses bring hope to the lonely lighthouse keepers and love to weary hearts. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart -- Two sisters have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864--just in time for things to go very badly for the Southerners at the Battle of Franklin. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)



Uncharted Journey by Keely Brooke Keith -- Young widow Eva Vestal assumes loneliness is God’s permanent plan for her life. She keeps busy by raising her son and co-managing the Inn at Falls Creek with her elderly father, but her heart yearns for more. Solomon “Solo” Cotter has spent his life working with horses, but he secretly wants to write a book of the children’s stories his grandfather told him as a boy. He barters with Eva’s father for a 40-night stay at the inn, a needed respite from work to get his stories on paper. Once Eva discovers the barter, she believes Solo is taking advantage of her father’s failing memory. But when tragedy strikes and Solo works hard to save the inn, Eva sees his true nature. As her heart stirs with feelings for Solo, she wrestles with the guilt of loving someone new. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)



Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer -- Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook. Maimed in a childhood accident at Christmas, she believes she is beyond love’s reach—until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s home with a busted leg and a bullet-creased scalp. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, he is at the mercy of a country doctor whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his heart and open his eyes to the impossible. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:


Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin -- After Nina Fischer is accused of murdering her uncle and adopted father, she must unlock deadly family secrets in order to clear her name and learn to trust love again. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)



North by Starlight by Diane and David Munson -- Attorney Madison Stone hurries to help her client Jordan Star defeat a mysterious relative who claims a share in his inheritance, and during the Christmas season Maddie learns to leave past regrets behind her, embrace the warmhearted people of Starlight, and dig deep to find her true heart. (Romantic Suspense from Micah House Media)



Her Deadly Reunion by Beth Ann Ziarnik -- What will it cost an estranged daughter when she meets her birth father at his home and discovers it's a dangerous place to mix past and present? (Romantic Suspense from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Speculative:


Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse -- When the new Lady of Ravenwood inherits her family’s secret gift of dreamwalking, she discovers a dark history. Women in her family have been wielding the gift to preserve her family’s legacy—through assassinations. She’s determined to find the true reason behind the gift, convinced there must be a more noble purpose. But she’s torn about upholding her family's legacy--a legacy that supports her people. What will she do when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations--but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house? One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (High Fantasy from Bethany House [Baker])

Thriller/Suspense:


Stratagem by Robin Caroll -- Psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux creates mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s for their executive retreat, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. (Suspense from Barbour 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.

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: https://www.acfw.com/blog/the-magic-triangle-exploring-wounds-for-deeper-fiction/. 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 www.ConnilynCossette.com
 
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)

Historical:


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])

Speculative:


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.