Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 2020 New Christian Fiction from #ACFW

July 2020 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

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

Contemporary Romance:
 
How Sweet It Is by Robin Lee Hatcher -- A businessman trying to reconnect with his brother returns to his hometown and rents the apartment where his great-great-grandparents lived during the late 1920s. He never suspects his attractive landlady, a struggling restaurant owner who works with women at a local shelter, is the one person who might help him reach his brother. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
 
Love's Autumn Harvest by Patricia Lee -- A widow, a divorcee, and a widower find themselves in a love triangle that gets complicated as each one finds themselves drawn into the tangled web they weave. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Ready to Trust by Tina Radcliffe -- Rancher Reece Rainbolt’s shocked to learn he’s inherited half of Claire Ballard’s family farm—and that he’s a father. Now Claire’s determined to break ties with the man who once left her behind. But Reece will buy her half only on one condition: she must stay in town to help with the harvest…and let him get to know his little girl. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Truth About Fame by Toni Shiloh -- When a superstar’s bodyguard pretends to be her fiancĂ© to flush out her stalker, the woman starts falling for a happily ever after that’s just as fake as her tabloid life. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Falling for the Innkeeper by Meghann Whistler -- Single mom Laura Lessoway won’t accept her mother’s plan of selling her late grandmother’s inn without a fight. But when big-city attorney Jonathan Masters arrives to arrange an offer from his client, she’s drawn to him. And working together as he helps with repairs only brings them closer. With his career and her home on the line, can they ever find common ground? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical Romance:

A Place to Call Home by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, and Erica Vetsch -- Duck for cover in the Superstition Mountains as a woman flees her capture and a marshal pursues his prisoner while the couple is handcuffed together. Exit a stagecoach in an Idaho boom town, where a mail-order mix-up has everyone scrambling to right an embarrassing mistake—or was it really a blessing? Gallop into Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle wages between an eastern fashion artist and a US Cavalry surgeon for the custody of two orphans. Delight in the journey as faith and romance intersect in these three full-length novels. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch -- A bluestocking and a newly minted duke join forces to unravel a mystery...but the greatest mystery might be the duke's true identity. (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)
Mystery:
 
A Bitter Brew by Elizabeth Ludwig -- The cousins are thrilled when Jan is invited to compete in a nationally televised baking contest. Things go awry, however, when the prize money disappears. Worse, Jan and Elaine find themselves as the prime suspects! Certain they are being framed, the cousins seek out clues that will lead them to the thief. Can they do it before the contest ends, or will they fall faster than Jan’s award-winning souffle? (Cozy Mystery from Guidepost Publications)
Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett -- A private investigator helps a scrappy, female photojournalist, who is accused of murder after an assassination attempt on Charles Lindberg at the America First rally leaves another man dead. (Historical Mystery from Shortwave Press)

Romantic Suspense:
 
Explosive Situation by Terri Reed -- With his K-9 partner at his side, can he survive false accusations and a bomber? Detective Henry Roarke’s determined to prove his innocence to internal affairs officer Olivia Vance—but first he must survive the bomber targeting him and his bomb-sniffing K-9, Cody. With a coming baby to protect and an investigation to pursue, Olivia has her hands full…until she becomes a target, as well. Can they catch the bomber before they all lose their lives? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
 
Rocky Mountain Revenge by Rhonda Starnes -- To survive her deadly homecoming, she’ll need to trust a man from her past… Temporarily home to help at her family’s vet clinic, Grace Porter has no intentions of staying—but someone’s determined she won’t live long enough to leave. With both Grace and her sister in the crosshairs, her ex-boyfriend, Police Chief Evan Bradshaw, must protect them. But can the single dad lawman uncover the truth about why a killer’s out for vengeance before time runs out? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Suspense:

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks -- Forensic sketch artist Tucker Landry and American heiress Piper Boone form a bond after surviving a mass shooting on Curlew Island. Amid rumors of the Curlew Island Curse which whispers say has taken the lives of several members of Piper’s family, the pair must unravel the Boone family’s true history before Piper becomes the next victim. (Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Young Adult:
 
Heart of a Princess by Hannah Currie -- Behind the smiles and designer clothes, Princess Alina has a secret. She’s barely holding it together. After a moment of panic almost ends in tragedy, Alina is sent to a refuge far from the palace to recuperate. Her family claim it’s for her own good but – faced with cows, knife-beaked ducks and far too many of her own insecurities – Alina is pretty sure it will kill her first. And Joha Samson, infuriating man that he is, will laugh as it does. Only there’s more to Joha than she realizes, and more to herself too. When the time comes to make a stand, will she find the courage? (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Before Summer's End by Johnnie Alexander, Brenda S. Anderson, Eleanor Bertin, Sara Davison, Deb Elkink, Stacy Monson, and Marion Ueckermann, A collection of stories of faith, family, and forgiveness. (General Contemporary)
Honor Bound by Carol Ashby, Honor had forced him to act. Time would tell if he’d regret it. (Historical)
Ralley Point: Place Of Refuge by Daniel Bishop, The Baskins overcome the loss of their unborn child and come to a place of refuge, redemption, restoration. (General Contemporary)
Two Autumns, One Spring by Elizabeth Ann Boyles, A deceitful mother-in-law, Nagasaki’s vengeful official, conflicting beliefs—all work against a near-perfect marriage in 1861 Japan. (Historical)
The Sugar Baron's Ring by Lorri Dudley, A ring is her only tie to a distant homeland, until a marooned Englishman anchors her heart. (Historical Romance)
Let Him Go by LuAnn K. Edwards, Keedryn and Blake acknowledge their love in this wholesome romance, only to find trouble brewing at the office and turmoil bursting in their hearts. (Contemporary Romance)
Afraid of the Light by Cynthia Ruchti, Clinical psychologist Camille Brooks vows she'll never let another family suffer from the fallout of a hoarding disorder like her mom's, but soon discovers that she has her own collection of hurts to confront. (General Contemporary)
Deadly Hideaway by Marissa Shrock, A relaxing getaway. A rocky romance. And a dead body. Will life ever be normal? (Cozy Mystery)
The Cowboy's Missing Memory by Shannon Taylor Vannatter, He needs to remember and she’s his best hope to help him reclaim his past and build a future. (Contemporary Romance)

Monday, June 1, 2020

New Christian Fiction from #ACFW - June 2020

June 2020 New Releases

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

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

Contemporary Romance:


Forever Home by Amy Grochowski -- A Canadian Amish farmer proposes a convenient marriage to a Lancaster Amish businesswoman so they can join a new community welcoming married couples only. They are both surprised when a Prince Edward Island foster child finds her way to them in need of a home. Yet what will happen when the English world and the Amish world collide? (Romance from Ambassador International)



Start With Me by Kara Isaac -- A professional woman and her old flame, who doesn’t remember her, are forced to work together when the companies they work for merge. (Romance, Independently Published)



A Father's Promise by Mindy Obenhaus -- Is he ready for fatherhood? He doesn’t think he deserves a family… But now he has a daughter. Stunned to discover he has a child, Wes Bishop isn’t sure he’s father material. But his adorable daughter needs him, and he can’t help feeling drawn to her mother, Laurel Donovan—a woman he’s finally getting to know. But can this sudden dad overcome a past tragedy that has him convinced he’s not meant to be a husband or a father…and make a promise of forever? (Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical:


Until June by Barbara M. Britton -- When a young seamstress agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge, there’s enough friction to melt a glacier. (Historical from Inspired [Prism Book Group])



A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler -- As 1756 dawns, Isaac Lukens is torn between loyalty to his Lenape heritage and a childhood friend who needs to marry in order to raise her siblings. (Historical from Avodah Books)



Persuaded: The Story of Nicodemus by David Harder -- From the prison colony on Patmos, the Apostle John entrusts Nicodemus with manuscripts for the Christian fellowships increasing throughout the Roman Empire. While transcribing the manuscript, Nicodemus is prompted to recall his former life and his encounter with Yeshua – a man of mystery, a healer, a teacher, and a prophet. An encounter that changed everything. Under the cover of darkness, risking his reputation and endangering his life even further, it is here that Nicodemus realizes the world-changing power of the Good News . . . and what being a follower of Yeshua truly means. (Historical from Ambassador International)

Historical Romance:


Love's Mountain Quest by Misty M. Beller -- When a Rocky Mountain widow returns home from work to find her son and the woman watching him missing--and the sheriff dead--she enlists a man she prays has enough experience in this rugged country to help. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



The Damsel's Intent by Mary Davis -- Washington State 1893. Nicole Waterby has lived her whole life in the hills away from town due to her grandfather’s mistrust of people. But now he’s passed away, and Nicole is left to care for her two younger cousins. Feeling inadequate to handle the responsibility, she heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband. She doesn’t realize women don’t wear trousers, buckskins, or carry a gun. She has a lot to learn about being a lady if she’s going to catch a husband. And the quilting circle is just the group of women to help her. Rancher Shane Keegan has drifted from one location to another to find a place to belong. He longs to have a family of his own but feels doomed to live a life alone. When Nicole crosses his path, he wonders if he can have love, but he soon realizes she’s destined for someone better than a saddle tramp. Even though he knows there’s no future for him with the intriguing mountain girl, he still steps in to help her at every opportunity. Will love stand a chance while both Nicole and Shane try to be people they are not? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)



Line By Line by Jennifer Delamere -- Since she was young, Alice McNeil has seen success as a telegrapher as the best use for her keen and curious mind. Years later, she has yet to regret her freedom and foregoing love and marriage, especially when she acquires a coveted position at an important trading firm. But when the company’s ambitious junior director returns to London, things begin to change in ways Alice could never have imagined. For Douglas Shaw, years of hard work and ingenuity enabled him to escape a life of grinding poverty. He’s also determined to marry into high society—a step that will ensure he never returns to the conditions of his past. He immediately earns Alice’s respect by judging her based on her skills and not her gender, and a fast camaraderie forms. However, when Alice accidentally angers a jealous coworker and his revenge threatens both their reputations, Alice and Douglas are forced to confront what is truly important in their lives. Will their growing bond give them the courage to see the future in a different light? (Historical Romance from Bethany [Baker])



An Appalachian Summer by Ann H Gabhart -- After the market crash of 1933, the last thing Piper Danson wants is to flaunt her family’s fortune while so many suffer. Although she reluctantly agrees to a debut party at her parents’ insistence, she still craves a meaningful life over the emptiness of an advantageous marriage. When an opportunity to volunteer with the Frontier Nursing Service arises, Piper jumps at the chance. But, her spontaneous jaunt turns into something unexpected when she falls in love with more than just the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains. (Historical Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



The Widow & The War Correspondent by Linda Shenton Matchett -- Are a new life and new love possible in a country devastated by war? Barely married before she was widowed after Pearl Harbor three years ago, journalist Cora Strealer travels to England where she’s assigned to work with United Press’s top reporter who thinks the last place for a woman is on the front lines. Can she change his opinion before D-Day? Or will she have to choose her job over her heart? A sought-after journalist, Van Toppel deserves his pick of assignments, which is why he can’t determine the bureau chief’s motive for saddling him with a cub reporter. Unfortunately, the beautiful rookie is no puff piece. Can he get her off his beat without making headlines…or losing his heart? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)



An Impossible Price by Davalynn Spencer -- With no husband of her own, midwife Sophie Price lives to keep others calm in their hour of need. But when a handsome horse handler steps off the train with a fiery stallion, he brings anything but calm as he looks her dead in the eye and clear through to her soul. Clay Ferguson returns to the place he once called home, hunting a fresh start and the one woman who could draw him back. If he can hide his battered heart and the brutality of his past, maybe she’ll take another look and give him a second chance. Both bear scars from their fathers. Both fight for life. Together, they may learn that love is worth its impossible price. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Mystery:


Pride and Pettiness by Elizabeth Ludwig -- A hairdresser fears she may lose her business when appointments go terribly wrong. (Mystery from Guidepost Publications)

Romantic Suspense:


Don't Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard -- Investigative reporter Rae Burke will do anything to find her missing sister-in-law, even if it means facing Liam McKade, a man who almost lost his life saving hers. (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin -- Court reporter Teagan O'Rourke thinks her job taught her everything she needed to know about murder until a serial killer decides to teach her a new lesson--up and personal. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)



Direct Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- One little girl. Two bodyguards. Only one chance to guard their hearts. Protection Inc. co-owner, Carissa Jones, an ex-cop turned bodyguard, has one goal—keep her young client safe. When her business partner brings in a new guy to help, she discovers her heart desires more. Can she still do her job and follow her heart without compromising her client’s safety? Marc Olsen, a former Military Police officer, struggles to find his way as a civilian. He agrees to help out an old friend for the summer. He gets more than he bargained for when he’s assigned to work with the feisty co-owner of Protection Inc. When sparks fly faster than bullets, will the bodyguards be distracted from their task, or will they work together as an even stronger team? (Romantic Mystery, Independently Published)



Imminent Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- The Protection Inc. team is growing, and so is their client list. Former cop and new team member, Peter King, seeks to solve the mystery surrounding threatening notes being sent to Jenna Walsh. Facing an uncertain future, Jenna is afraid for her life. Will the team at Protection Inc., specifically Peter, be able to stop the threats before things escalate, or will tragedy strike before Peter is willing to face his growing attraction to Jenna? The team must divide and conquer when two big cases present themselves at the same time. Carissa Jones and Marc Olsen work to protect a young college student who is staying in the home of a federal judge. All work and no play has put a strain on their relationship. Can they find balance or will their fragile bond be extinguished? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)



Plain Refuge by Dana R. Lynn -- On the run from hired gunmen, can she find safety in Amish country? After overhearing an illegal weapons deal, Sophie Larson knows two things: her uncle’s a dangerous criminal…and he wants her dead. Now undercover cop Aiden Forster has no choice but to blow his cover and protect Sophie by hiding her and her deaf sister in Amish country. But with a mole in the police force, danger isn’t far behind. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative:


Evocatus by Burke Speed -- Jamie is a young veteran with a painful history. He’s done battling for others…until the whole “fight for your life in a mini-mart” thing. Without warning, Jamie is attacked by a sword-wielding man and warned to stay away. From what, he’s not sure. Unexpectedly, he is invited to join a covert band of brothers that fights to keep these evil beings, called Malum, at bay. To accept their invitation is to add death matches against evil to his resume. To decline is to live . . . at least for a while. Kate is a beautiful barista and an important member of this undercover organization. She just might have the key to victory over the Malum but is kidnapped before she can tell what she knows. Everything hinges on a timely rescue of Kate as Jamie’s past and present collide. Now an Evocatus, a veteran called again to duty, Jamie must decide how far he’s willing to go to fight-and love-again. (Speculative from Ambassador International)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:


Three Steps Away
by Luana Ehrlich, Romantic Suspense
Perfect in His Eyes by Linda Goodnight, Contemporary Romance
Cross Shadow by Andrew Huff, Thriller/Suspense
That Place Called Home by D. L. Lane, Romance
Then There Was You by D. L. Lane, Romantic Suspense
The Same River Twice by Mark Medley, Adventure
Fade to White by Tara Ross, Young Adult
Doubly Dead by Lisa Wessel, Cozy Mystery

Friday, May 29, 2020

Pretending to Wed by Melissa Jagears #BookReview

 


Book Description

It’s a match made in heaven…as long as they don’t fall in love!

The ranch Nolan Key has spent decades working for, even lost a leg for, is now his—or at least it should be. But an absurd clause in his father’s will means he’s in danger of losing the place to his lazy, undeserving cousin. Nolan finds himself scrambling to save his home—by proposing marriage to the town laundress.

Corinne Stillwater’s hands have betrayed her. Numb from hours of doing the same work over and over, her hands will only heal, according to the town doctor, if she gives up the laundry and marries. But she’s been stung repeatedly by love before, so that is one remedy she can’t swallow.

When Nolan offers Corinne a marriage in name only, how can she refuse? Such a partnership could give them the security they seek, but what if the ranch isn't as secure as they believe, and their lives—and dreams—aren't quite as compatible as they thought?


My Thoughts

In Pretending to Wed, we revisit our friends Jacob and Annie, Spencer, Celia, Leah, and other townspeople from the first Frontier Vows story, Romancing the Bride. If you read my review of ROB, you'll remember I loved these characters!

I enjoyed getting to know Nolan, the amputee rancher hero this time around, and Corinne, the laundress and inventor incognito.

This is a fun, quirky marriage of convenience story that looks at its own trope with a bit of a smirk, hence the first lines:
“This couldn’t be happening. Not unless he’d stumbled into one of those silly romance novels his aunt used to read.”
A very cute lampshade in my opinion.

The characters begin the story convinced they’re doing their future spouse a favor by staying single. When circumstances press them into desperate situations, they agree to marry one another as a business-only partnership to achieve their career goals. But when unexpected romance blossoms, past hurts, physical disabilities, and fears of failure hinder their growth in their relationship to the Lord and to each other. Through the story, they learn to overcome the spiritual, physical, and emotional handicaps that keep them from becoming who God wants them to be.

Like all of Jagears’ books, this story carries a message that will resonate with readers. In a world that interchanges the phrase “diamond ring” with “miracle happy pill,” this book shows us that marriage takes work, communication, commitment, resilience, faith, sacrifice, lots of gratitude, and good counsel.

While our generation says, “Physical intimacy now, marriage later…maybe…and if we don’t like that, we’ll split,” this book gives us a carefully handled illustration that reminds us “trying out” intimacy before marriage doesn’t guarantee compatibility. Without the commitment of marriage, how many would stick around and work through the hard things that cause dissatisfaction in relationships?

If you like to be warned about romance-y stuff: there’s romance-y stuff. This is a Christian romance novel. But this story isn't sappy, it's the opposite of sappy. It's smart, and serious, and straightforward and real, but at the same time, fun. For those who would prefer to know, the story takes on discreet conversations about complications with married intimacy. But Jagears handles the subject matter very delicately and closes the door before any real-time scene treads into the more private aspects of marriage. Kristi Ann Hunter's story, An Uncommon Courtship, approaches a slightly similar topic, but not the same, and the stories are vastly different.

With almost every Jagears book I review, I mention how much her writing reminds me of Lori Wick, the writer that got me hooked on Christian fiction. This story, in some ways, put me in mind of Megan and Bracken's relationship from Wick's book The Knight and the Dove. Melissa’s characters, dialogue, spiritual insight, and delightful “living room” voice keep me coming back for more of her stories. I look forward to reading more from her Frontier Vows series.

To Purchase or Preview Pretending to Wed, click HERE.

I dabble in graphic design for fun, and here are a few memes I created with my favorite quotes from the book. Feel free to share around any you like...


















Friday, May 15, 2020

At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer #BookReview

https://karenwitemeyer.com/book-at-loves-command.html

Book Description:

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger's Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler's bullet leaves one of them at death's door, they're the ones in need of saving.

Dr. Josephine Burkett is used to men taking one look at her skirts and discounting her medical skills. What she's not used to is having a man change his mind in a heartbeat and offer to assist her in surgery. Matthew Hanger's dedication to his friend during recovery earns Josephine's respect, and when she hears of her brother's abduction, he becomes her only hope for rescue.

Matt has stared down ruthless outlaws, betrayal, and injury, but when a bossy lady doctor crawls under his skin, his heart is tempted to surrender. And when she is caught in the crossfire, he may have to sacrifice everything—even his team—to save her.


My Thoughts:
I grew up watching westerns and frontier movies like McClintock!, Rio Bravo, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Escape from Fort Bravo, Unconquered, The Searchers, The Proud Rebel, and Red River. In At Love’s Command, Karen revives the world of 1800s Texas, full of outlaws, cavalrymen, and heroes and heroines with backbone. Reading this story took me back into that western story arena I love.

The Characters:
Matthew’s character lived through a heartbreaking childhood and the Battle of Wounded Knee, both of which formed him into the compassionate-but-aloof, take-charge character he is. Josephine has attained her dream of becoming a doctor but, at 28, is an “old maid” by the society standards of her time. I related a lot to her desire for a family and wondering what the future holds. Karen creates a fun brotherhood between Matthew, Mark, Luke (“Preach”), and Jonah. Watching them interact on the page brought back fun memories of watching "compadre" westerns like The Sons of Katie Elder, High Chaparral, Open Range, and El Dorado.

The Romance:
With Matthew’s tough background, he’s reluctant to allow anyone close—anyone but his “brothers,” who survived battle alongside him. But when he finally admits he’s not getting Josephine off his mind anytime soon, he woos her with a gentle, honest pursuit. I love to see this in stories. Ladies admire men who have the tenacity to initiate a conversation, a friendship, then a relationship. Even if a couple finds they aren’t suited, a true lady will admire his courage to be intentional in finding out if they are a match. This is one trait that makes Matthew a heart-melting, stand-out storybook hero. But their relationship isn’t without its struggle. Josephine has reservations about involving herself with a man who makes his living with his guns. She’s dedicated her life to making the sick and injured well. There’s also the little matter of her brother, whose circumstances of being kidnapped by outlaws endanger Josephine and Matthew and everyone they love.

Pacing/Stakes:
In the beginning, we’re concerned about Matthew’s gunshot friend, then the romance develops rather quickly between Josephine and Matthew. They are both adults past the normal marrying age, and with Matthew being in a line of work where time isn’t guaranteed, once he opens up to the idea of a woman in his life, he wastes no time making his interest known. Emotional and romantic development make up the second quarter of the book, but the pages still turn fast all the way through until the ending. Action-wise, the story starts off with a bang, then really picks up again around the midpoint.  

Spiritual Thread:
The characters struggle between keeping a tight rein on their circumstances or surrendering control to God. A theme that echoes in the heart of every Christian.

Celebrity Comparisons:
Matthew, I envisioned as a bearded Eion Bailey. Josephine, a no-makeup Evangeline Lily. You can see Karen’s own photo inspiration (hers are great, too!) for the couple in this post from her Posse Facebook page.




*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I have stated my honest opinion in this review.

What are some of your favorite westerns?

Have you seen all the western movies mentioned in this post?

What are some more Christian historical romances that remind you of great western movies?