Monday, February 8, 2016

MULE DAZED ~ Character Interview with Lisa Carter

About the Book

Hattie Brimfield’s had it with her high-handed, overprotective brothers. So she runs away from the family ranch and straight into trouble due to a series of unfortunate miscommunications involving the Mule Days celebration of 1885 in Hitching Post, Montana.
Sheriff Braxton Cashel isn't about to let this newcomer get away with making a mockery of the proud, if slightly quirky, nuptial festivities involving mules, brides, and the town whose only claim to fame is its name, Hitching Post. And he’s absolutely not about to allow this feisty, winsome gal to get under his skin much less in his heart—until a late spring blizzard traps them overnight in the town jail and Hattie’s brothers show up the next day to demand a shotgun wedding to protect the honor of their beloved baby sister.

Please welcome Lisa Carter's character, Hattie Brimfield:

Ms. Brimfield, has anything significant happened in your life in the past two weeks?

On the witness stand in the Hitching Post, Montana court-room, twenty-year-old Hattie Brimfield fidgets. “Let me just state for the record—I didn’t intend to cause a riot during the Mule Days celebration.”

She frowns. “Nor get arrested, either.”

Your most embarrassing moment?

Hattie sighs and adjusts her bonnet. “Probably during the auction when it appeared Braxton wasn’t going to even place a bid on my boxed lunch. I was mortified.”

What is your first reaction when you meet a fetching lady/handsome gentleman? Blush? Stutter? Run? Flirt? Engage them in intelligent or witty conversation? Start an argument to see them flustered? Offer a helping hand? Ask a friend about them?

“You’re talking about Braxton, aren’t you? Sheriff Braxton Cashel.” Hattie fans herself. “He wasn’t always a sheriff, of course. I’ve known him most of his life. We lost touch when we were children and then years later, I turn around after setting a few mules free to find him pointing a gun at me.”

A smile curves her lips. “I don’t know who was the most surprised—him or me.” She bats her eyelashes. “There never was a handsomer boy than Brax Cashel. As for Brax Cashel all grown up?” Hattie blushes. “After what happened during Mule Days, I guess most people know how I feel about that subject.”

Are there any children or pets in your life? What do you love about them?

“I love kittens—I got Brax to dive into a creek once to rescue a sack of kittens. Brax likes to pretend it’s all me—this inordinate fondness for animals. Case in point he’ll tell you about what happened during Mule Days. But no way an itty-bitty little girl like me could’ve ever gotten a big, brawny boy like him to do anything he didn’t already want to do.”

She rolls her tongue inside her cheek. “And what happened last week during Mule Days proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

What are your hobbies?

“I cook. I like to write. I like to sing—Bringing in the Sheaves is my all-time favorite.” A small smile. “Brax’s, too.” Hattie taps her finger on her chin, thinking. “I sew—I made the prettiest blue ruffled curtain for the jail. You know, just to brighten that dreary place and make it seem more homey. Which Brax informed me, was so not the point of a jailhouse.”

Siblings? How many? Do you get along?

“My pa was a chaplain during the war. As a man of the Word, he named my brothers—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. After Ma and Pa passed, I took over the cooking at the Bronco B. It was their efforts to marry me to some railroad toad that made me up and leave Wyoming in the first place.” Hattie tilts her head. “I guess when you look at it that way though, I actually owe everything to them. Since I wound up in Hitching Post and met up with Brax again.”

She smiled. “They’re good boys. Just high-spirited and protective. As Brax found out.”

What is your dearest dream?

“My fondest dream is to live the rest of my days in Hitching Post, Montana with the love of my life, Braxton Cashel. And raise a batch of curly, crazy-haired little girls and a passel of earnest, serious-minded young boys. Oh, and write that definitive guide about mules, too.”

What is your worst fear?

“That Braxton wouldn’t love me.”

When’s the last time you had a really good meal? Courtesy of whom?

Hattie rolls her eyes. “Ms. Monk, I assure you that any good meal I’ve had, I’ve had to cook myself. Why do you think my brothers are such big men?”

Are there any hardheaded people in your life right now? What’s the issue?

“A great question, Ms. Monk. Woman to woman, I leave it for you to judge. In the end, which one of us proved to be the most mule dazed?” Hattie gives the courtroom a coy look. “Me?” She smiles. “Or Braxton? You decide.”

Lisa Carter and her family make their home in North Carolina. In addition to "Mule Dazed" in the Lassoed by Romance Collection, she is the author of seven romantic suspense novels and a contemporary Coast Guard romantic series. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, teaching writing workshops, and researching her next exotic adventure. She has strong opinions on barbecue and ACC basketball. She loves to hear from readers and you can connect with Lisa at

Monday, February 1, 2016

ACFW February 2016 New Releases

Happy February, folks! The new February Sweet South Blog calendar is up. Check it out HERE or at the blog tab above. You'll see some fun changes in the works.

And back by popular demand, here is a list of new fiction releases from my fellow members of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Enjoy!

February 2016 New Releases

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

Amish Romance:

Joshua's Mission by Vannetta Chapman -- Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf coast of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. He brings his brother with him, hoping to keep Alton from another brush with the law. Joshua is pleasantly surprised when he hears that Becca Troyer, the bishop's granddaughter, plans on joining their team. What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A lack of electricity, certainly, which poses little problem for the Amish volunteers as they help restore order from destruction. But a budding romance? A call from God? And a possible healing of his relationship with Alton? (Amish Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

An Amish Market: Four Novellas by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Vannetta Chapman -- All the color and variety of a quaint Amish shop in a charming collection of novellas by four of your favorite authors. Love Birds by Amy Clipston: Ellie Lapp takes a liking to Lloyd's beautifully carved wooden birds, not to mention the young man himself, when she convinces this friend of her deceased brother's to sell his creations in the gift shop where she works. But will his family's plans for him come between their budding relationship? A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller: Every week, confirmed bachelor Ezra buys Hannah Lynne's home-churned butter at the local market, barely glancing her way, despite her hope to the contrary. But when Ezra bids an exorbitant amount to win the quilt she had her heart set on, Hannah Lynne can't stop wondering if Ezra is finally in the market for love. Sweeter Than Honey by Kelly Irvin: Shattering a jar of pickled beets in Bee County's Combination Store was embarrassing enough without Isabella's receiving a frosty reaction from the handsome store manager, Will Glick. But she soon learns Will's heart is in pieces. Now, Isabella finds herself longing to be the one to repair it and renew his faith in love. Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman: Stella Schrock and new employee David Stoltzfus, a recent widower, have to work together to solve the mystery of strange events happening at the Old Amish Mill, and in the process they may find God has more in store than they imagined. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


The Prophetess: Deborah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith -- Outspoken and fearless, Deborah has faith in God but struggles to see the potential her own life holds. As an Israelite woman, she'll marry, have a family, and seek to teach her children about Adonai--and those tasks seem to be more than enough to occupy her time. But God has another plan for her. Israel has been under the near constant terror of Canaan's armies for twenty years, and now God has called Deborah to deliver her people from this oppression. Will her family understand? Will her people even believe God's calling on her life? And can the menace of Canaan be stopped?
(Biblical from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Samantha Sanderson Without a Trace by Robin Caroll -- Sam Sanderson dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist like her mother, so she's always looking for articles to publish in her middle-school paper, where she secretly hopes to become chief editor. With a police officer for a father, Sam is never short on writing material. When Sam's friend Tam Lee goes missing, all clues seem to point to something sinister in Sam's opinion. Sam must decide whether to trust law enforcement's opinion that Tam's a run-away or follow her heart and poke around for more clues? (Children's from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Hope Girl by Wendy Dunham -- With the discovery of her birth father, 12-year-old River has to decide if she should continue living with Gram, who has been her family for the past ten years, or with her father, who she's over-the-moon to have just met but knows little about. And when River is diagnosed with a condition that could impact her future, she feels overwhelmed and bewildered. That's when River asks God for help and decides to trust him with her dreams. (Children's from Harvest House Publishers)

Contemporary Romance:

Island Hope by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Metal sculptor Hope Michaels gave up on art when her creativity was zapped by another and buries herself in an electrical contracting job on Wildflower Island. She never imagines her best friend and employer, Piper, would turn matchmaker. When a lonely widower is promoted to manager of the Wildflower Resort, his new responsibilities complicate his relationship with his teenage daughter. Seeking advice from a feisty-but-sweet newcomer, he never expects things to only get more complicated. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)


Renovating the Richardsons by Virginia Smith -- In the small town of Goose Creek, Kentucky, Millie Richardson is renovating a drafty Victorian house into a B&B while her husband, Al, busily writes checks for the renovations. Also, the new vet, Susan, has finally found acceptance from the town--not to mention a hunky new boyfriend, Justin. But things never stay quiet for long in Goose Creek. The inner-county softball game is coming up, and Millie volunteers Al as team manager. But the softball team is a disaster. If they're not going to embarrass themselves in front of the whole of Franklin County, Al needs Justin to play. But Justin lives just outside the city limits, and the rules say that players must live in town. As if that weren't enough to keep the town gossips busy, a massage therapist opens up shop in town. Imagine--a massage parlor!--in Goose Creek! No decent Creeker will stand for it. It's up to Al and Millie--again--to save the day. (General from Harvest House Publishers)

Historical Romance:

The Love Is Patient Romance Collection by Janet Lee Barton, Frances Devine, Lena Nelson Dooley, Vickie McDonough, Darlene Franklin, Jill Stengl, Connie Stevens, and Erica Vetsch -- Enjoy the slow dance through the courtship of nine historical couples in the American west, including the territories of Arizona and Wyoming. Just at a time in life when they have nearly given up on finding love, romance enters their lives. But will it be true love, and will it be worth the wait? Find out in this delightful collection written by eight bestselling authors of inspirational romances. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan -- Rachel Matthews isn't one to rely on others to take care of her. Destitute and alone, she still wants to make her own way and her own money--even if she's forced into the life of a dance hall girl. Horrified by her circumstances, Rachel's brother sends a friend--the widely admired cattle baron John McIntyre--to rescue her, then sets off to earn enough money to buy back the family ranch. But when months pass without her brother's return, Rachel isn't sure she can take one more day in John McIntyre's home--especially once she discovers that he's the one who holds the deed to her family's ranch. (Historical Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Spy's Devotion by Melanie Dickerson -- After suffering a battlefield injury, wealthy, well-connected British officer Nicholas Langdon returns home to heal—and to fulfill a dying soldier's last wish by delivering his coded diary. At a ball hosted by the powerful Whilhelm family, Langdon meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Honoring propriety, he keeps his distance—until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia's guardian. As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation's undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman. And when Julia realizes that England-and the man she is falling in love with—need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press, an imprint of Amazon Publishing)

The Express Rider's Lady by Stacy Henrie -- Delsie Radford's father may have kept her and her sister apart, but Delsie refuses to miss her sister's wedding-even with only eighteen days to get there. And she's found the perfect escort in Pony Express rider Myles Patton. Myles can't believe it when a pretty socialite hires him to take her cross-country through dangerous territory. He's sure she'll give up soon, but the longer they ride together, the more Myles notices the toughness and kindness beneath Delsie's refined exterior. And though they may be worlds apart…they might just be perfect for each other. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Texan's Engagement Agreement by Noelle Marchand -- It's been five years since Adelaide Harper broke Chris Johansen's heart-and their long-distance engagement. But when she steps off a train in Peppin, Texas, and strolls back into Chris's life, he can't help but panic. To avoid his parents' plan to arrange a marriage for him, he's let his family believe he and Adelaide are still engaged. Adelaide is facing her own troubles with a matchmaking mama and a parade of aggravating suitors. So pretending to let Chris court her could help them both. Surely after five years, there's no need to worry their time together could reignite a long-buried love…is there? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Northern Light by Annette O'Hare -- The Yankees took her fianc├ęs life, but when a wounded Union soldier washes ashore, needing her help, will she learn to love again or will hate cost him his life? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican))

Romantic Suspense:

Rocky Mountain Pursuit by Mary Alford -- Everyone believes agent Jase Bradford is dead-everyone but Reyna Peterson. Only he can protect her now that someone wants the information her CIA husband died to secure. As the one member of their spy team not killed, Jase must remain in the shadows. Yet when Reyna leads the enemy right to his mountain refuge and blows his cover, Jase risks his life for hers. As his best friend's beautiful widow scales the walls around his heart, whether out of loyalty or love, he makes it his duty to secure her safety. But when their pursuers trap them in the snowy Colorado mountains, will it become his final mission? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Always Watching by Lynette Eason -- The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common--they're also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son. But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she's next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client. (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Navy SEAL Security by Liz Johnson -- Wounded navy SEAL Luke Dunham's only goal is returning to active duty…until he rescues his physical therapist from a lethal attack. Now he'll risk everything-even his recovery-—to keep Mandy Berg's attacker at bay. Mandy's been burned before when she trusted the wrong man. And she knows better than to develop feelings for one of her patients. Yet how can she help falling for a man who does not hesitate to put his strength, his skill and his very life in harm's way to keep her safe? Relying on anyone feels dangerous…but turning away Luke's protection could be deadly. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Pandora's Deed by Monica Mynk -- Savannah Barrett fled her Dreyfus home to escape childhood bullies, and planned to stay away for good. Body image struggles have led her to give up so much of herself to empty relationships, she believes no one could desire her for more. Geoff Spencer, her former tormentor, is the man who could love her anyway. He cleaned up his life, stopped bullying, and found Christ. When she inherits his farm, she returns to claim the property and face her dreadful past, never expecting to claim his heart. But the property transfer unearths a mystery that some would prefer to stay buried and plants Savannah in the path of a psychopath who'd rather dispose of her rather than expose the past. (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey -- In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. But one of them vanished before graduation and their world--and friendships--crumbled. Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet--until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern--a young social justice lawyer missing since spring--and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When of Griffin's former friends, FBI agent Declan Gray, takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he'll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he--and those he cares about--are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)


The Last Apostle by Dennis Brooke -- What if John, the last living apostle of Jesus Christ, was still alive and well… and living in Seattle? In A.D. 100, John is restored to the body of his youth and sent on a mission with a warning: to never reveal his true identity. Fast-forward to modern day Seattle, where both friends and foes are on the verge of discovering who he truly is-an event that will trigger the end times. (Speculative from Made for Grace)

Far and Near by Amanda G. Stevens -- Marcus, Lee, Austin, and Violet are starting over. Texas is supposed to be their sanctuary. But the Constabulary isn't ready to relinquish their worst offenders, legal jurisdiction or not. They've sent agents in undercover, and Marcus is the assigned target of one who has personal reasons to bring him back dead or alive. Marcus and Lee are ready to be whole again, to secure a home here--together. But wholeness and home might not mean what they thought. Stopping the Constabulary hunters will require more than Marcus knows how to give, and God is about to use him again in a way he doesn't expect. (Speculative from David C. Cook)


Voice in the Wilderness by H. L. Wegley -- As catastrophes drive the US into martial law, all eyes are on America, waiting to see what emerges. KC Banning, network specialist, discovers President Hannan's tyrannical plans and is branded a terrorist, sending her fleeing the Beltway to find her childhood soulmate and protector, Brock Daniels. Brock, a writer and man of faith, gives CPR to a dying nation through his blog, which is read by military members still loyal to the Constitution. But starting a grassroots insurgency while reconciling KC's and Brock's broken relationship proves difficult. When Hannan sends Special Forces to kill Brock and KC, starting a war in the Central Oregon desert, reconciliation, like staying alive, might be impossible. (Thriller/Suspense, Independently Published using Trinity Press International)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Milestones Along "Publication Road"

Sometimes the journey to publication resembles a mountain path. Not just the steep, never ending height of the climb, but the frightening mysteries of the unknown, awaiting on the other side.

If you've ever undertaken a long term goal, you know it's important to celebrate the small things. Every step is a victory.

Those victories can be sneaky, though. They love to slip right by with no notice from you or family or friends. DON'T. LET. THEM. Snag every chance and rejoice for the things God has helped you accomplish. Don't forget to praise Him!

Here are some things beginning authors (and veteran ones!) shouldn't forget to celebrate:

-- The first completed synopsis (and each and every one of those little boogers that follow).

-- Each time you write "The End" on any writing project.

-- The moment you allow yourself the freedom to brainstorm something new.

-- Contest wins, of course.

-- When the words come like wildfire and you get a record amount of words.

-- When the words are eked out one by one and every thought seems so hard to form. Hey, every one counts and is an accomplishment.

-- Each friendship formed because of the written word (Seriously, list all the friends you've made solely because of your writing. What a blessing, right?!)

-- Every place you've traveled because of your writing.

-- The hard lessons learned along the way.

-- The times you want to celebrate a victory, but instead comfort a friend mired in the doldrums

-- The moments you become overwhelmed and know you can't make sense of this writing stuff without God's help

-- The moments He helps you

-- The sacrifices you and your family make so you can write (This is important. If your family has sacrificed for you to meet a deadline, plan a party just for the few of you and celebrate who they are.)

-- The first rejection (Some celebrate every single one. It means you submitted!!)

-- The first sale

-- The first good review

-- The first bad review

And the one I'm inviting you to celebrate with me today...


After much studying, prayer, hard work and waiting, I'm so excited to announce I've signed with Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency!

To celebrate, I'm giving away 20 miscellaneous Christian romance books the week after Valentine's Day (yes, I know I was supposed to do this during Christmastime, but what better time than Valentine's Day to celebrate Christian love stories! The giveaway starts now, and all you have to do to enter is sign up for my e-newsletter HERE. I'll draw the winning names from my newsletter database. If you'd like to read a sample of my fiction writing before signing up for my writing updates, click HERE. ***These books are physical copies and therefore open to U.S. entrants only, but I love my international reader-friends too, in whose case I would offer one fiction e-book if their name is drawn (winner's choice, published between 2013 and 2016). Happy reading!

Please keep me in your prayers as I work to put forth my best for God's glory!

P.S. Winner of a copy of Johnnie Alexander's Where She Belongs is Beth Schwarzlose! Congrats! I'll be getting in touch with you soon!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Misty Willow: A Family’s Tree

welcome guest blogger, Johnnie Alexander

Shelby Lassiter Kincaid, the widowed heroine of Where She Belongs, dreams of raising her daughters in the golden place of her own childhood.

Misty Willow, a farm nestled in the gentle slopes and valleys southwest of Columbus, Ohio, was first hewn out of the countryside by a Revolutionary War veteran in the 1790s. The Virginia Military District land grant set aside a huge swath of acreage to veterans who were willing to trade their muskets for hoes.

Isaac Payton, Shelby’s direct ancestor, volunteered.

According to family lore, Isaac’s wife Constance named the homestead. While Isaac built their cabin, the young couple camped near a willow tree overhanging the banks of Glade Creek. In the early mornings, as Constance greeted the sunrise, a haunting mist blanketed the land. Constance thought it mysterious though oddly comforting. Her heart always skipped a beat whenever her handsome husband emerged through the fog to join her. They sat on the bank, enveloped in the mist, and made plans for their future in this new country.

During the Civil War, the willow standing sentinel over Glade Creek witnessed another important event in the family’s long history. Eliza Payton found an injured Rebel soldier near the creek and secretly nursed him back to health in the abandoned cabin. When Jeb Lassiter recovered, he asked Eliza to marry him and carved their initials on the willow’s trunk.

Throughout the years that followed, engaged couples added their initials so that the willow became a living family tree.

Shortly after Shelby and her girls settle into the brick home, built by Eliza’s father quite a distance from the creek, she takes them on a picnic to the “engagement tree.” Shelby points out her parents’ and grandparents’ initials but decides the girls have learned enough family history for the day when six-year-old Elizabeth asks about the SL + JO carving. Turns out, Shelby’s teenaged boyfriend was a bit premature with his marital plans. For reasons given in the story, Shelby’s husband never visited Misty Willow.

But perhaps Shelby will be given another chance to have her initials joined on the tree with those of the man she loves.
The Brick

Misty Willow is a fictional farm inspired by a huge brick house where my family lived when I was a teen. Built in the mid-1800s, it was first known as Maple Lane and later as Twin Oaks. We still call it The Brick.

A beloved house. Possible Underground Railroad activity. A secret room. These elements and more are woven into a story that explores how much our present is affected by the past.

Where She Belongs
Misty Willow Series #1

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.
AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.
Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants. You can purchase Where She Belongs at: 

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell) is her first contemporary novel. Her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), releases in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons. Find Johnnie at:

Facebook Author Page

Johnnie has generously offered a giveaway of her book, choice of print or ebook to any U.S. resident or an ebook to an international commenter. To enter, leave your email address in the following spam-free format so we can contact you: email AT address DOT com.
Comment fodder:
Is there an old homeplace, real or fictional you'd love to visit?
How about one you grew up on or have visited often? Tell us about it!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Technical Google and Blogger Changes

Hi, friends! Due to Google's administrative decisions, if you logged into Friend Connect via a non-Google account to follow this blog, you will be UNABLE to follow after January 11th. If you don't have a Google account, you can subscribe to this blog through your email address in the field on the right sidebar.

Thank you so much for hanging out here with me! I'm catching up from the blur of the holidays, organizing future posts and writing an update post for y'all!

The new Blog Calendar will be updated soon with a new schedule!

I realize I skipped right over Christmas and 2016, so I want to wish everyone a happy new year and thank you for your patience while I get things in place around here. :)

Lassoed by Marriage ~ Reviewed

Back cover:
 Come along on a romantic journey jam-packed with all the angst of marriages founded upon practical choices as well as coercion. Meet nine couples who barely know each other before they find themselves suddenly married to please family, to stem the tide of gossip, to save the land and joined for life. But can love grow when duty comes before romance?
Available for purchase HERE.

Writing a fleshed-out love story in a novella's word count limit is hard. All these ladies have done a fine job. These assessments will hopefully be helpful to readers and also to the authors in their future works. Great job, ladies! Keep up the good work!

1-The Substitute Bride by Angela Bell

I wouldn't want to appear picky, but I was a bit disappointed to find the first novella is a proper British story set in an English lord’s house when the collection is titled Lassoed by Marriage. There were no cowboys, lassos, or anything of that nature. The story had merit, but would have been much better showcased in a British forced-marriage collection. The characters, though interesting, came across a bit stuffy. Those characters’ fresh occupations carried the story for me in the end, she being a bookbinder and he a tinker in automata. However, this novella didn’t seem as much a romance as a tale of two prejudiced strangers becoming friends under the framework of a name-only marriage. The relationship’s conflict might have been resolved with an honest conversation, but the characters never were frank with one another. Even in the end their conflict was resolved with a conversation steeped in vague subtext. A British custom, perhaps? There are a few refreshing nods to classic literature as the heroine repairs books in the hero’s library, treating works such as, Jane Eyre, Silas Marner, and Austen’s novels as old friends. A book lover will enjoy this tale as will novelists, since the main plot centers around a love of bookish things. This is a new author for me, but her love of the classics tempts me to read more of her writings.

2-Bridal Whispers by Angela Briedenbach

This story set around a general store and a farm wasn’t exactly a boots & spurs type story either, but the theme of love by choice proved poignant and touching. With the tough road of a widower hero coming to care for his dead wife’s cousin and the cousin-heroine’s struggle to be loved for who she is, this tale took on a real-life feel as the characters battled their own natures and others’ perceptions head-on to find a way for love. This is more than your average strawberries and whipped-cream romance fluff--kudos to the author for that. The relationship portrayed finds its foundation in self-sacrifice and determination to make a better marriage. I look forward to reading more work by Ms. Briedenbach, also a new-to-me author.

3-Mule Dazed by Lisa Carter

Confession: as I read through this collection, I wrote each novella’s review into a document while the story was bright in my mind. Now my document seems to have erased the review for this one. :( Grr. But I’ll rewrite one just to say I loved so many aspects about this story. A new sheriff looking to prove himself is bested at every turn by an annoying woman who hero-worships him. And another problem? Mischief clings to her like ticks on a…well, a mule for instance. The continuity in this novella was as satisfying as a fresh-baked biscuit. The comedy was hilarious, especially toward the end where the hero starts singing “Bringing In the Sheaves”—I laughed out loud. The romance was sweet and the characters down-to-earth. To be honest, I thought the hero’s “cornpone and grits” type dialogue a little too countrified during the first few paragraphs (and I’m from the South!), but his accent and colloquialisms soon mellowed out into honest-to-goodness country boy talk you couldn’t help but fall in love with. I’ve known the name Lisa Carter from her career as a suspense novelist, but I hope to read many more stories like this from her.

4-The Sweetwater Bride by Mary Connealy

Mary once again takes us on a romping romantic comedy with a delightful web of our favorite characters. Like visiting old friends again. This wasn’t exactly a forced marriage story, since the characters fell in love before the wedding, but the story was full of laughs as well as sweet moments and explorations of human nature. Like most of Mary’s novels, this little story is deeper than it lets on. Well done.

5-A Highbrow Hoodwink by Rebecca Jepson

This novella ranges from upper crust society to life in the shadowy dens of 1880s Denver. Not exactly a cowboy story, but sort of a rags to riches tale. I liked the premise and the way the author included an adorable small child. The main characters were interesting and well constructed. Some of the timeline was unclear, however. Apparently the story spans two years or so. Much of the romantic conflict could’ve been solved by an honest conversation, and the hero seemed a godless profligate until the very end when he quoted scripture as if devout. Though I prefer comedy to drama, this story still held my interest until the end.

6-Not So Pretty Penny by Amy Lillard

This novella is so fresh and different. I loved the journey. A post Civil War homestead is the setting where unique characters, a strong, unrefined woman and a prisoner set to hang, strike a match that will send sparks flying to kingdom come. One offense the heroine holds against the hero seemed a bit cliche, but overall this is a fun, sweet story and makes me want to read more from this author.

7-All's Fair by Gina Welborn

I’ve never read a novella quite like this one. Set near the river in the town of Wathena, Kansas, this early 1900s twist on the Hatfields & McCoys/Romeo & Juliet plots is delightfully fresh and unpredictable. The characters bond with the reader so you wish there was a full-length novel chronicling their journey. This is the second work of fiction I’ve read from Gina Welborn. The novella pulled me into the character’s actions and feelings from the start. I plan to read more from this author. She has a special gift for storytelling.

8-The Colorado Coincidence by Kathleen Y'Barbo

English nobility meets the Colorado ranching class in this sweet story about a desperate widow and a no-account gambler. Evil plots behind the scenes and greedy, murderous neighbors, as well as the question, “Will this marriage survive?” make this novella a page-turner. A few glitches include one Irish character later being described as Scottish, author “filter words.” An enjoyable story from one of my favorite authors through the years.

9-Railroaded into Love by Rose Ross Zediker

The sweet romance of a preacher and his best friend-turned-outlaw’s sister. To protect her from her evil brother and rescue her from captivity of singing songs in a bawdy house, Noah marries Molly in name only. A little boy adds depth to the story and brings the hero and heroine closer together. I might have enjoyed more action and less introspection. I didn’t understand the hero’s not responding immediately when he discovered his wife loved him and wanted to run away to save him her troubles. But in the end it all worked out. Also, the heroine put her fists on her hips a bit too often, but the setting was fresh and the plot as well.

Overall a fun, romantic trip into historical times. I would recommend to anyone who loves a good, sweet love story.

I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Personal Salvation Testimony and Guest Appearance on Alexis Goring's Blog

Hi, all! I wanted to invite you to catch a blog post where I share my first love-encounter with Jesus. The post is on Alexis Goring's blog, but I've included an excerpt here:

Love Casts Out Fear
A Falling in Love with Jesus story written by Natalie Monk

My first love encounter with Jesus was a little scary.

Not what you expected to hear, right?

Eight years old, leaving a revival meeting service, I’d never had any dealings with the Supernatural, so when I grew overwhelmed with thoughts of God and where I stood with Him, fear swamped me. Nothing major had ever disturbed my “normal.”

My whole life I had heard the message of Christ, how He loved the people of the world so much He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave three days later. But things of God were never personal to me.

Why was I so troubled now?

Something was horribly wrong. With me. With my relationship to God... 

To read the rest of the post, CLICK HERE.