Friday, May 26, 2017

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette #BookReview #BookGiveaway

***Please read giveaway rules carefully.***
Wings of the Wind
From the Back Cover:
Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.
Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can't ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.
Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage--for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she's found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah's fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she's come to love?

The Main Characters:
Alanah and Tobiah, two fierce warrior-hunters—one Canaanite, one Hebrew. The conflict between them is overwhelming, too overwhelming for them to have any kind of future, except for the mercy Tobiah shows. Though imperfect in his humanity, as are we all, he is such a beautiful picture of Jesus, as we should all hope to be. Tobiah’s foremost traits as he relates to Alanah are his patience and protectiveness, the last of which translates into the all-too relatable flaw of his need to control circumstances. Contrasting Tobiah’s gentleness, quiet personality, and warm-toned, bear-like description, Alanah is colorful with her bright red hair, flashing blue eyes, sassy mouth, agility, rough Canaanite ways, and a deeply wounded heart. Watching them react to one another and the circumstances which bring them together was fascinating to me.

The Secondary Characters:
We get to revisit beloved characters Shira and Kiya as well as others. Tzipi serves as a strong antagonistic force, but her motives pulled at my emotions and I sympathized with her. Though we never see him alive during the front story, Shimah and his death play a vital role in the development of his family and Alanah as well.

The Romance:
With these two outdoorsy types—not to mention that they’re sworn enemies—courtship takes on a unique form as they get to know one another while traveling and generally surviving in the desert. Whereas we saw music, then the tending of children and lambs, play major parts in drawing together the lead characters of the first two books in this series, Alanah and Tobiah fall in love by hunting game together, rescuing small desert animals, and engaging in verbal sparring. She has much to learn of Hebrew ways, and Tobiah’s role as teacher, protector and provider, affords her many opportunities to learn to respect him, though she still sees him as a warrior and therefore a predator. Tobiah is altogether intrigued with Alanah’s fierceness, her unusual appearance, and the mystery surrounding her presence on the battlefield. As he gains her trust, he delights in unraveling her stitched-up past and discovering the true woman living inside this wildcat he has rescued.

The Pace:
The pages in a Connilyn Cossette book turn with uncanny ease. 😊 I sit down to read a section or two, and, when I return to my surroundings, I’ve read three chapters. There is an inexplicable and unrivaled delight in falling into a story that sweeps you away, and the Out From Egypt Series accomplished this without fail.

The Faith Element:
Many CBA books contain meaningful references to faith, others have characters struggle with spiritual issues throughout the story, and yet others show the presence of God living and moving in the characters’ lives, producing what I can’t put into words beyond calling it a “God moment.” The Out From Egypt Series envelopes all these things. Seeing the Old Testament events unfold as Biblically recorded, and experiencing along with the characters the provision and care of Yahweh for His people renews my hunger to study the Word of God and makes me grateful for how God has worked in my own life. This series brought me encouragement, conviction over my own failings, and most importantly it brought me to the point of worship. I haven’t often run across a book that reminds me of the awe-inspiring workings of God, miracles both big and yet infinitely quiet, so much that I’m compelled to look up from the book and give praise to my Creator and Redeemer. The two other books like this that readily come to mind are Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love and Joanne Bischof’s The Lady and the Lionheart. As a rule, I read Christian fiction to enjoy the unfolding of clean fictional plots while learning new applications of Christian principles. But on the occasions where I’m surprised by an impromptu worship moment, I consider it a delightful blessing! A heartfelt thank you to Conni for pointing us toward the Lord and extolling the wonder of Who He is!

The Stakes:
Readers' hearts will race alongside the hero and heroine as they fight to preserve their own lives, the future of two nations, a group of heart-wounded little girls, one woman’s hope, the life of an unborn child, a young woman’s virtue, a tenuous mother-daughter relationship, and several women from permanent imprisonment, torture, and sexual abuse in a pagan temple.

The Author’s Trademarks:
Other than authoring page-turning, faith-filled books that keep me nibbling my nails over whether the characters will finally find peace, Connilyn Cossette has a knack for incorporating historical details into the character’s actions so they captivate the reader while moving the story forward. Her heroes also stand out to me, each unique while owning admirable depths of gentleness, faith, and rugged masculinity.

The Overall Impression:
As a reader, this story took me on a journey into a “living history” of a world I’ve read about, but never deeply explored. The plot is compelling and the characters ones to cheer for. I also loved how the relevant issue of human trafficking is visited in one of its earliest forms and brought to the table for modern consideration. Later on in the book, readers will recognize characters and cities from a well-loved Bible story and be swept up with the leads in their quest for survival. Fans of Biblical fiction and historical romance alike will be delighted with this series!

The More Factor:
I’m most eagerly awaiting the cover-reveal for Conni’s fourth book, first in her Cities of Refuge Series, featuring Moriyah, a vital character from Wings of the Wind! I've wanted to read fiction surrounding the cities of refuge for some time, and am doubly excited that they will be coming from Connilyn Cossette's pen!

I’m giving away one e-copy each of the FIRST TWO BOOKS in the Out From Egypt Series, Counted With the Stars and Shadow of the Storm (pictured below), to one winner. Comment on the blog with your email address to enter! International entrants welcome! Giveaway ends June 2, 2017. GIVEAWAY EXTENDED TO JUNE 3, 2017!!!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and have voluntarily and most happily provided my honest opinion in this review. 😊

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears #BookReview

Back Cover Blurb:
 Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town’s red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn’t limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well–if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.
David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father’s companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he’s shown interest in Evelyn’s work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause.
They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?

The Main Characters:
Gotta love characters with quirks! From Evelyn's unhealthy penchant for wandering the bad side of town, alone, with a gun hidden on her person, to David's dear love of food and offense at one's leaving a piece of bacon uneaten, these characters gave me so much to look forward to while on this book-journey! Evelyn is a strong female character that carries a mysterious secret. I enjoyed getting to know her and related to her in her age, longing for children of her own, and her people-pleasing tendencies. But I actually related to David’s character the most in this story. Both David and Evelyn are people-pleasers to a fault, though from different angles. David wonders at Evelyn’s cool treatment of him and cannot abide the thought of someone disliking him without wanting to make it right. He is a unique hero and Evelyn complements his personality even as they clash because of her secret. Their interactions brought more than one giggle, and the more I read, the more reluctant I was to leave these characters.

The Secondary Characters:
We get to revisit our favorite characters from A Heart Most Certain, including Nicholas and Lydia Lowe, Caroline O’Connor, Henri Beauchamp, Sadie, and Charlie. Also, the orphanage children play major roles in this story. Comical scenes involving orphanage staff and the ever-crying baby help bring Evelyn’s goals to life, while struggles with the children and Evelyn’s aging parents ground this ministry in hard work.

The Romance:
David and Evelyn’s relationship grows from animosity to a tentative acquaintance, then slowly to friendship and love. The plot necessitates this slow discovering of character and personality, which builds a beautiful foundation for a lifetime of commitment.

The Pace:
This novel develops gradually, allowing many facets of the different characters to be explored. The gentle flow of the characters’ internal thoughts reveal relatable struggles and connect them with the reader.

The Faith Element:
Throughout this novel, the hero and heroine are required to make hard, life-altering decisions because of their faith. They are put through the refining fire of circumstances and the ending of the book shows us the results. I always enjoy the journey of the faith message in Melissa’s books, and this one tackles an especially difficult subject while making the reader think.

The Stakes:
Along with the lives of suffering orphans and women trapped in the red-light district, the desire for acceptance from others, including family, society, love interests, and God, is a strong influence in A Love So True. The lengths each character will go to keep or attain this acceptance is challenged on many levels and stretched until the climax of the story when the characters grow into the new truths they’ve learned.

The Author’s Trademarks:
Deep exploration of character emotions and reactions, strongly reminiscent of Lori Wick’s style, make Melissa Jagears books some of my favorite to sit and digest with a cup of tea. Her tackling of tough subjects with a gentle approach and her Biblical accuracy make every book a heart-journey for the reader.

The Overall Impression:
From chapter to chapter, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Evelyn, David, and their friends. The intrigue and dynamics of their gentle friendship kept me turning pages and wanting more time with the characters.

The More Factor:
I can’t wait to spend more time with these characters as they discover more about faith and their calling to help others.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Season to Dance by Patricial Beal #BookReview #BookGiveaway

Back Cover Copy:
Ballerina Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and her future with fiancé Peter Engberg all figured out—until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, shows up in the Deep South of America to dance with her and win her back. Claus kisses her after a dress rehearsal, a kiss Peter witnesses from the darkened audience. Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, he breaks off their engagement.
Rejected by Peter, and knowing Claus is dancing at the Met soon, Ana decides to repave her path to her dream. With her 2002 Torch Red Ford Thunderbird and Baryshnikov, an old dog crippled by arthritis, she moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own memories of Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company prove to be a high price for a shot at success.

Available at
Amazon, & other fine retailers.

The Why:
I met Patricia at the ACFW 2015 writer's conference and was charmed by her beautiful Brazilian accent and her ballet costume on the character dress-up night. Little did I know she was a REAL ballerina--and had written a book about a ballerina! Last week I won a giveaway of the Letters to Juliet DVD from an interview blog featuring Patricia, who graciously included a copy of A Season to Dance in the giveaway package! I'd been wanting to read this novel since I first met her and am so excited to tell you about the story in this review!

The Main Characters:
Ana, Peter, and Claus... Wow. These characters came to life on the page. The Blake Shelton comparison for Peter gave me an instant reference point, since my Granny and I have been watching the Voice lately. I pictured Patricia as Ana's look-a-like, and my mental image of Claus was a longer-haired Rick Cosnett, whose facial structure is coincidentally similar to Mikhail Baryshnikov. These characters have such unique personalities and back stories, and they are all inwardly broken. Their brokenness translates to their actions and they all make destructive decisions along the way. They learn from them, though. And that is one thing that makes this story so great.

The Romance:
This story is unlike any other I've read. It's a twist on the regular Happily Ever After. Ana loves two very different men, and she's a different person with each of them. The heartstrings are pulled when she is around them, and though I was anticipating one or the other to turn into the typical ex-boyfriend-villain, neither did. Many of the characters are lost or away from God during most of the story, so they make bad decisions concerning their relationships, but the author only portrays these actions as far as a few kisses and caresses, closing the door on more intimate events that will effect these characters for the rest of their lives. Patricia does an excellent job at portraying broken humanity in the light of God's love, where forgiveness is always waiting and the deeply-flawed have access to second-chance mercy as long as they have breath.

The Pace:
In the first chapter, a mystery is introduced, and the character journey to reveal that mystery follows. This is a thoughtful, emotional novel, exploring deep subjects that are suited to a quieter pace. At about the 2/3 mark, though, the events of the story grabbed me and the pace sped up significantly, ending with a finale that had me fighting tears.

The Faith Element:
The redemption message in this novel is one of the most powerful and clearly presented Biblically based faith-journeys I've read in a fiction book. Ana tries to find fulfillment in everything but God, then finally decides to "try out" religion, but eventually learns she can't earn her salvation or peace with God. Redemption is out of her reach as long as she's trying to climb up and attain it herself, and all the while her Savior is waiting for her to simply surrender to Him and ask for His salvation, and He'll gladly give her all she needs. In A Season to Dance, God pursues Ana's heart with a gentle and unrelenting love. It's a beautiful thing to watch unfold.

The Stakes:
The stakes include Peter's heart, Claus' heart, and Ana's heart, which is divided between finding her life's purpose, and following her dream of dancing at the Met in New York. Which one will win?

The Overall Impression:
A Season to Dance isn't my usual light-hearted historical romance and comedic fare. But the spiritual and life lessons the book portrays were ones I needed to contemplate, and I found myself surrendering several dreams to God to do with as He sees best. I love a book that will make me take a closer look at myself and my motives and encourage me to change for the better. This book did that for me.

The More Factor:
I would love to read more books by Patricia in the future. 

 Win a paperback copy of A Season to Dance! (U.S. entrants this time, please.) 
Between today and May 17th, simply comment on this blog with your email below in a spam-free format such as: email at address dot com. 
Ends May 17, 2017.

***As always, please consider leaving a book review online at, CBD, Barnes & Noble, Lifeway or any other review site you choose. This helps the author and also other readers who are considering reading the book! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 2017 Fiction Releases #ACFW

May 2017 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard -- Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring--fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)

Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer -- An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham -- God's love...reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh -- Three sweet stories of small-town romance by three tried-and-true authors. Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Spring of Weddings by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell -- Two Spring wedding novellas, "A Proxy Wedding," and "Hope Beyond Savannah." (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

True to You by Becky Wade -- Former Navy SEAL John Lawson hires genealogist Nora Bradford to help him to uncover the identity of his birth mother. As they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Cozy Mystery:

What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman -- A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly, Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he's tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

General Contemporary:

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal -- The heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything. (General Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman -- A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. (General Contemporary from Waterfall Press)


Blind Ambition by Carol Ashby -- What began as a bored man's decision to try a different road turns into an emotional and spiritual quest that changes the direction of his entire life. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette -- A broken and bitter Canaanite woman dresses as a man to fight against the invading Hebrews, never expecting that she would live to be captured and married to one of her enemies, and certainly not to find love and healing among the very people who killed her family. (Biblical/Historical from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Historical Romance:

The Secret Admirer Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y'Barbo, Penny Zeller -- Shy expressions of love lead to nine historical romances. Declaring one’s love can be hard--even risky--especially when faced with some of life's greatest challenges. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson -- She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight by Susanne Dietze -- It’s a mail-order disorder when newlyweds realize they've married the wrong partners with similar names. An annulment seems in order--and fast. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca Rice wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . . (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears -- They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David's dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Road to Harmony by Sherry Kyle -- When Jonas returns to Harmony, Elena's heart is torn between her secret love, and the storeowner her parents hope she marries. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Hills of Nevermore by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman -- Each day could be her last...but not if he can help it. An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman's riveting romantic suspense novel. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

*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, May 6, 2017

The First Line...

Hey everybody! Heather Snyder over at the English Mysteries Blog is featuring the Of Rags and Riches Collection (Barbour, July 2017) and my novella For Richer or Poorer on her blog for the First Line Fridays post this week!

If you'd like to get a sneak preview of the first line of my novella, hop on over to Heather's blog and join the fun!

Hope y'all are having a fantastic week! 

P.S. I've been doing a lot of reading lately, so brace yourselves, the reviews are coming! :)