Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wedding Score by Amanda Tero #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

Wedding Score by Amanda Tero #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

I recently read Wedding Score by Amanda Tero and loved this story. If you want a read that will help you in practical ways on the daily, whether you're single or not, pick up this story. You'll be glad you did.


Book Description:


Most girls dream of their wedding days. Except me. I’m too busy practicing piano and being the live soundtrack for everyone else’s weddings to think about my own. I’ve survived most of my twenties with harmonious chords and pleasant days.


So why is it that now, at twenty-seven, a discordant feeling presents itself? Is there a solid solution to loneliness when there is absolutely no potential husband on the horizon?




My Thoughts:

Single women will relate to Stephanie as she navigates a world full of reminders that she is getting older and still unmarried. Between her friends and cousins who are traveling their own road to marriage and her work as a wedding pianist and music teacher of toddlers for a Christian school, she's constantly bombarded with reasons to dream about changing her relationship status. But longings unfulfilled can easily open the door to ungratefulness and discontentment. Throughout the story, Steph learns to take her longings to Jesus and in turn finds she can bless others with the lessons she learns there.
I loved the musical references, the banter between the characters, and the realistic look at situations we as singles find ourselves in. In The Wedding Score, Amanda Tero takes a practical look at available solutions to the questions we often ask ourselves.
If you or a friend want to read a story about a single woman, written by a single woman for single women, pick up this book and be encouraged that you are never truly alone.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and have willingly provided my honest opinion in this review.

Recommended Books for Singles:

I don't often hear of book recommendations for singles. I've had to search the internet for the ones I've read. So I thought I'd provide a few recommendations here. 

  • Get Lost by Dannah Gresh. This one challenges a girl to fall more deeply in love with God and let Him handle all the what-ifs.
  • Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. This one turns that prayer list around and challenges the girl to allow her singleness to grow into a better woman of God.
  • Also, I'm currently reading Love Defined by sisters Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird (now she's Bethany Beal, but she wrote her chapters as a single girl). It has a lot of practical tips, and I'm enjoying it so far.

Share, Share, Share!

If you are as excited as I am about a fiction book about a single woman by a single woman for single women, here are a few images you can share!








Let's Chat:

What are some embarrassing things people have said to you because you were single?
What are some ways you have seen others help singles feel loved and included in social situations?
What Bible verses have helped you when you struggle with discontentment?
Would you like to mention any (fiction or nonfiction) recommended books for singles?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Living Lies by Natalie Walters #BookReview #ACFWAuthor

Living Lies by Natalie Walters #BookReview #ACFWAuthor



Description:

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name--but no one knows your secret. At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.

My Review:


To give you a hint of my opinion on this story… After reading, I mailed a thank you note to Natalie for writing the book. She and I met at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas in 2015 and her genuine, friendly personality struck me right away. We ate barbecue with a group of authors at a mom & pop diner in Grapevine, Texas, then at the next year’s conference in Nashville took some a moment to talk about this story idea when, if I remember correctly, she was still seeking an agent. I have one of the worst memories of anyone I know (sad), but I think I remember we prayed together about the appointments we had coming up. When she told me her story dealt with the subject of depression, I started praying for her and her work, because I knew the space in my heart, and no doubt many others’, waiting for a story that would minister on that level.

Not only did Living Lies entertain and capture me as a reader, it ministered to me and actually comforted me (Not sure I’ve ever said that about a suspense book!). Like the characters in this novel, I have friends and loved ones who choose daily to be overcomers in their battle with depression, so for me reading this book was absolutely refreshing. Knowing someone else “gets” how depression doesn’t magically go away after a few weeks of counseling sessions, but also that there is hope available every day, had me wanting to come back and see more of these characters down the road. The story also reminded me of practical ways I can encourage my people who suffer from chronic depression and let them know what incredible value they add to my life. The message in this story is so needed in the Christian community, where often depression is labeled as a spiritual weakness or a subject avoided completely.

The Plot:

The suspense thread had me racing through the pages, not to mention the fascinating way the author spotlights parallels between effects of chronic depression, emotional struggles of current armed forces, then the plight of Vietnam veterans who still suffer from the memories they carry and the treatment they’ve received.

The Setting:

Small-town investigative dynamics in this story are skillfully portrayed and interesting to read. The way the police chief treats Lane as if she were his own precious daughter, and the whole come-over-for-a-bowl-of-peach-cobbler relationship Charlie has with his aunt, had me settling into the story world like a comfortable blanket. But not too comfortable, because the mossy forests surrounding this Georgia town hold deadly secrets…and bodies!

The Characters:

Each character Natalie has crafted is unique and sparkles against the backdrop of the story. Christian fiction has now given me two reasons for the name Charlie to ignite a smile. Charlie Lionheart by Joanne Bischof and Charlie Lynch by Natalie Walters! I also have to mention Lane Kent’s name will stir a herd of butterflies for readers who are still shipping Lois & Clark from the 80-year-old Superman fandom. :) 

Charlie and Lane… the hero and heroine in this novel both gave me much to relate to. Lane’s five-year-old son, Noah—adorable! Charlie’s interactions with the boy and his patience, faithfulness, and reliability toward Lane and her family really makes him a stand-out hero. I liked Lane’s character and the glimpse into her “perfect” political childhood. One review I came across seemed impatient with the character Lane’s inability to snap out of her condition, but I’d like to encourage readers to remember that everyone’s encounter with depression is different. There may be similarities in every case, but each person’s experience is also as unique as their thumbprint. This story reminded me that when we think our friend or loved one should “be over this already,” what they really need from us is to know we’re not going anywhere, we're walking this road with them, we’ll help however we can, and they are more precious to us than anything in the world. Finally, here is a realistic book that portrays depression wrapped in hope.

The Romance:

How do I put into words? Here I’ll have to employ an acronym coined by Beth Erin at Faithfully Bookish: #swoof which stands for Squeezing Words Out Of Feelings. I sigh and tilt my head a little, smiling and trying to pinpoint a summary of Charlie and Lane’s relationship. She’s grieving the death of her husband two years passed, for which she blames herself. Having witnessed his share of encounters with PTSD and other emotional struggles left in the wake of combat, Charlie instantly senses a kinship with Lane and wants to offer her a lifeline. Where she is fearful, he is available to her. Where she’s unsure, he’s steady. He won’t let her disappear into her doubts about the relationship without knowing one hundred percent where he stands and how he feels about her. This, I think, is one of my favorite traits in a fictional hero. One who takes the risk, offers his attention, presence, and protection in a way that is so like Christ. (These men do exist outside of fictional books, ladies. I’ve seen them, though they are rare and usually taken. Ha!)

E-book Deal:

At the time of this post, the book is on sale for $1.99! What? Amazing! Grab your copy here:


Let's chat:

  • How many other Christian fiction books can you think of that deal with depression and emotional issues?
  • Have you ever found a book that tackled an issue close to your heart? What was the book?
  • Did you know Natalie Walters lives in Hawaii? What is the first thing you think of when you hear of Hawaii?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Christian Fiction Releasing This Month - October 2019 New Releases #ACFW

October 2019 New Releases

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



Biblical Fiction:



Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton -- To keep her orphaned sisters together, Mahlah must seek what has never been granted to girls, an inheritance of God’s Promised Land. (Biblical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:


Hiding from Christmas by Alice K. Arenz -- No matter how hard she tries, Maddie Kelley can’t seem to fit in at Ornamental, a company founded by her great grandfather and his best friend. Now, after yet another screw-up, she’s been sent into the “enemy’s” camp—two hours away from home for the next two months. A punishment or a blessing? Her life is turned upside down when the mundane turns unexpected, and she finally discovers where her heart truly lies. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])



Practically Married by Karin Beery -- Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)



Once Upon a Christmas by Andrea Boyd, Mikal Dawn, Toni Shiloh, Angela Ruth Strong, and Jaycee Weaver -- Embrace the magic of the Christmas season with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Upon a Dream: A rare sleeping disorder keeps Talia from performing, but when Philip recognizes her gift, he’ll do whatever it takes to see her onstage. Claim My Heart: Li Na and Colin Wen face off in a Mulan-esque courtroom battle where the real win might be losing their hearts. A Snow White Christmas: Sheltered heiress Amala White flees her conniving stepmother’s plans and finds refuge with a handsome orchard owner and his seven quirky uncles. Christmas Ella: Reality TV meets Cinderella story when a location director is swept off her feet by a rising star. A Splash of Love: Las Vegas glitz meets Land of Enchantment culture in A Splash of Love, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



The Twin Bargain by Lisa Carter -- A mutually beneficial temporary arrangement…But can they keep it strictly professional? Nursing student Amber Fleming couldn’t be more stunned when ex-marine Ethan Green makes an offer: he’ll babysit her twin girls if she cares for his injured grandmother. Amber knows it’s temporary. Ethan isn’t one for roots—or their hometown. But his steadfast caring has her wanting more than friendship. And with help from Amber’s mischievous twins, can they risk becoming a forever family? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman -- With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community. So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it. If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Sara’s Gift by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Christmas is the season of giving, but Sara isn’t sure she is up to the task. Playing secret angel in high school was fun, and now, years later, Sara has the opportunity to do it once more on a bigger scale. She enlists the help of Gabe, her long-time best friend, to come up with a deserving recipient. But something is off with Gabe—he’s more attentive than usual.
The Christmas season has put Gabe in a reflective mood. His evaluation of his life has left him lonely and wanting more. But can his heart have its desire? That’s up to Sara. Can these two long-time best friends navigate their changing relationship, or will the romance Grinch steal their Christmas joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



Their Christmas Prayer by Myra Johnson -- Searching for a new start, Pastor Shaun O’Grady can’t wait for his next foreign missionary assignment…until he begins working with Brooke Willoughby on the church’s Christmas outreach program. Even as they clash over program specifics, Shaun and Brooke are drawn to each other. Now Shaun’s not sure where he belongs: overseas for his ministry, or at home by Brooke’s side… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Her Amish Holiday Suitor by Carrie Lighte -- Lucy Knepp has no time for heartbreaker Nick Burkholder…until a pretend courtship means she can finish her embroidery for a Christmas fund-raiser in peace. Nick’s arrangement with the too-reserved Lucy is the perfect cover while he repairs the cabin his brother damaged. But once Nick sees how vibrant Lucy really is, can he prove himself—and show their love is for all seasons? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


General/Contemporary:



Chasing Dreams by Deborah Raney -- Reconsidering her dream of law school, Joanna Chandler finds promise in a possible wedding planning career—especially when she meets wedding DJ Lukas Blaine. But there’s more to Luke than meets the eye. The angry young boy he's been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke's ward. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams--and crush her dreams at the same time. (General/Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Historical Romance:



Unwrapping Hope by Sandra Ardoin -- When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give her daughter something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him. Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor's financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince. Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling business plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)



Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller -- Ingrid Chastain travels readily with her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. But after a tragic accident leaves her alone and injured, Ingrid finds rescue in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her wounds. Micah Bradley gave up his own medical career after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine as soon as she’s well enough, he has no choice but to accompany her through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The risk-laden journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



Aiming for Love by Mary Connealy -- Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world--a world she's been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls' secret home, her older sister especially is frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away. David's parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. David's father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



Lessons on Love by Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, and Carrie Fancett Pagels -- Step back into the classroom alongside four new teachers who face unexpected tests. In 1840 New York, Gilda’s religious beliefs are challenged. In 1870 Kansas, Mary helps ostracized immigrant children. In 1894 Michigan, Jesse discovers an unlikely friendship. And in 1904 Virginia, Margaret wants to make controversial changes. Will these tests teach the teachers about faith and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Mystery:



The Silver Lode by Suzanne J Bratcher -- A dying child and a seventy-year-old cold case draw historian Paul Russell and antiques expert Marty Greenlaw into a desperate search for the silver lode, a rich deposit of silver and gold one person considers worth murdering to keep. (Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:



Deadly Commitment by Kathy Harris -- When Danielle Kemp walks out of her downtown Nashville condominium, she gets the eerie feeling that someone is watching her. She's convinced that the homeless man outside her building is stalking her. But after learning the real identity of the intimidating stranger, she faces something even more threatening?the truth about her fiancé. (Romantic Suspense from New Hope Publishing)



Cold Pursuit by Gayla K. Hiss -- A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)



Legacy Restored by Robin Patchen -- She’s a new Christian working to take down an art thief and murderer. He’s a grieving artist who refuses to let another woman die needlessly. When their desires clash, will it lead to hostility… or fireworks? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Young Adult:


Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie -- Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with? (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep #BookReview


Book Description

Life couldn’t be better for Abigail Gilbert—but it’s been a long time in coming. Having lived with a family who hated her, it’s finally her time for love. Abby sets off on a journey across England to marry one of the most prestigious gentlemen in the land—until highwaymen upset her plans and threaten her life.
 Horse patrol captain Samuel Thatcher arrives just in time to save Abby. But she’s simply another victim in a job he’s come to despise. Tired of the dark side of humanity, he intends to buy land and retire.
 Abby pleads with him to escort her for the rest of her journey. He refuses—until she offers him something he desperately needs to achieve his goal. . .money. Delivering her safely will give him more than enough to buy property.
 So begins an impossible trek for the cynical lawman and the proper lady. Each will be indelibly changed by the time they reach her betrothed, if they don’t kill one another first—or fall in love.



My Thoughts

The Why:
Samuel Thatcher's character seized my curiosity when he was first introduced in this series about the "Bow Street Runners," a group of men who have been called London's first professional police force. Thatcher is a quiet one, and the quiet ones intrigue me. His story reveals much simmering beneath the surface.

The Main Characters:
Samuel and Abby are a well-matched leading lady and man. Their strengths bring the other's weaknesses to light, while they challenge one another to become stronger. Abby is a sweet, Cinderella-type character with underlying mettle. She is highly naive to the world and quite the optimist, while Samuel is jaded, world-weary from his wartime in India, and a pessimist without much hope. Baby Emma, the young ward they are charged with delivering to a relative, is simply precious. She charms the reader on every page she graces.

The Faith Element:
Both characters learn to look to God for hope when all seems lost. And the story gives them plenty of occasions to lean on this hope. The hero's unwavering faith in God is refreshing and gives his character a multifaceted depth that shows all Christians need encouragement and reminders of hope. We're all susceptible to the weight of this life, no matter how strong our faith. The heroine goes from a knowledge of God to a dependent love for God and multiple times shares the message of Christ's sacrifice, even though characters sometimes mock her beliefs.

The Romance:
I like the way these characters come to care for each other by recognizing dearly held values played out in the other's actions, whether wielding courage in the face of death, caring for the helpless, or showing generosity. Besides mutual love for baby Emma, Samuel's quiet integrity and Abby's courageous and candid ways draw them to one another. A word to sensitive readers: one kiss between the hero and heroine, when she is days from marrying another man, grows a bit fierce.

The Stakes:
Life and death stakes carry the reader all the way up until around the 3/4 mark, when the focus turns to matters of the heart. I wondered if the fiance might be revealed as the true mastermind behind the earlier villains, which would have carried the stakes even higher until the ending. At this point, the story and characters I'd loved so far grew rather stagey for me, the heroine's motives cloudy. And although the story resolution didn't fully result from the character journey-struggles, I was happy to see Samuel receive a good ending after all he'd been through.

Overall Impression:
Love the characters, the setting, description, beautiful language, and the theme of hope. This is a satisfying glimpse into the character of Samuel Thatcher, whom we meet earlier in the series. I recommend reading the series in order, though it's not necessary. This story transports the reader to a living, breathing 1700s England full of intrigue and danger and love while giving us a deeper look into the lives of men who paved the way for the modern police force.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson #BookReview


Book Description

Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins.
Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.
But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.
No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?


My Thoughts:

Melissa Ferguson's homegrown humor is splashed all over this powder-fresh tale. You can't read this story without smiling...a lot. The fireman hero and the first-date-weary heroine, who works at a nonprofit organization for at-risk teens, are perfectly matched--and mismatched. Their verbal sparring magnetizes the reader to the page. Their parenting mishaps will have you wiping hot tears between chuckles.

Cassie and Jett are two relatable people, struggling to resolve their differences and make sense of this crazy modern dating world--and this crazy modern life where tots and teens alike are thrown about hither and yon, the kids' drug-enslaved parents either abandoning them or using them as a meal ticket. You and I both know of so many cases like this--it's not just fictional conflict, it's real life. And Melissa Ferguson has crafted characters to live this story that feel just as real.

C and J connected through a dating site. He's hiding three kids from her, she's hiding three kids from him. They're trying to squeeze a date or two in between diaper changes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni, and the occasional rare-but-victorious private shower and bathroom break. I like Jett's integrity and Cassie's big heart, and their mutual competitive streak. I also like that both characters are over thirty and still single for the first time with no horrible skeletons in their closets (we do exist!) as well as the fact the heroine is a few years older than the hero. There is a lot of shaming and name-calling about this sort of situation, even in Christian circles, so this was refreshing to see Cassie's story written with a kind pen. While I would like to have seen more dates and more serious heart-level communication between the hero and heroine before the marriage proposal, I thought their relationship was portrayed with a good balance of sweetness and struggles to work through, overall off to a good start.

The children in the story could have crawled into this book from off the lap of any unsuspecting real life parent. Their antics are so outrageous, but so believable if you've ever spent any time supervising children. And the senior-citizen sisters? I loved them so much, I'd like to get my hands on the audio version sometime so I can listen with my sister. The type of humor in this book is what I've been waiting for. At the same time, the pavement-meets-shoe-rubber truths that bind this story together hit home. From now on, I'll be keeping a sharp eye out (Who invented that dangerous-sounding metaphor anyway?) for whatever this author writes.


***I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September 2019 Fiction Release #ACFW

September 2019 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:
Reunited in the Rockies by Mindy Obenhaus -- For widow Kayla Bradshaw, restoring a historic Colorado hotel means a better life for her and her soon-to-arrive baby. But she needs construction help from Jude Stephens, the love she lost through a misunderstanding. Working with Kayla, the police officer finds himself forgiving her—and longing to rebuild her shattered confidence. But can they trust each other enough to forge a future together? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



A Man to Trust by Carrie Turansky -- After years spent helping manage her family's Christian bookstore, it's time for Adrie Chandler to give her own dream of playing her flute with a symphony orchestra a chance. But can she really trust the beloved shop to new manager Ross Peterson? The man is too handsome, too charming....and too much a reminder of another dream Adrie had to let go of - marriage. Yet Ross surprises her by knowing a thing or two about making sacrifices. Suddenly, Adrie is questioning what she really wants. And whether the dreams she once thought unlikely are within reach after all. (Contemporary Romance from Flowing Stream Books)

Fall Flip by Denise Weimer -- The tragic death of Shelby Dodson's husband--her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business--stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor. Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets--and their own mistakes--cost them a second chance at love? (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Listening to Love by Beth Wiseman -- Lucas is Amish. Natalie’s Englisch. They are best friends—and friends only. Despite what the gossips say. Besides, they couldn’t be together even if they wanted to be. Lucas would never leave the Amish faith, and Natalie is pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine. But when a terrifying accident happens, Natalie and Lucas are forced to confront their true feelings and decide if they can stay true to themselves and each other. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

General Contemporary:
The Christmas Portrait by Phyllis Clark Nichols -- A family facing their first holiday season without Mama finds a way to celebrate Christmas. (General Contemporary from Gilead Publishing)

Historical:
Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson -- 1942. As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape. Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life?and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried. (Historical from Tyndale Publishing)

Historical Romance:
Treasured Christmas Brides by Amanda Cabot, Rebecca Germany, Cathy Marie Hake, Colleen L. Reece, MaryLu Tyndall, and Michelle Ule -- Six historical Christmas romances prove life’s most priceless gifts come not in the form of polished gold or silver—but from the vast riches of a loving heart. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Thankful for the Cowboy by Mary Connealy -- Hero Tom MacKinnon rides up driving a wagon with a second wagon trailing him. He and his sister want to be hired to build windmills. They’ll ask for very little money and, in exchange heroine, Lauren Drummond, newly widowed mother of four nearly grown sons, will help them learn to survive in the Sandhills of Nebraska. What to grow, what to hunt, how to build a sod house.
Tom’s windmills will save her ranch. Lauren needs three windmills on this drought year or her growing herd of cattle is going to die of thirst. She agrees to teach him the ways of the Sandhills, and to give him fifteen head of cattle. She’s not ready to think of another man. But Tom changes her mind. His little sister and one of her sons find love together before Tom and Lauren do. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Return of the King’s Ranger by Angela K. Couch -- The war is over…for everyone but him. The war for American freedom is over, and the British have gone back to England. Not knowing what has become of his family since he was forced into the Continental Army nine years earlier, Myles Cunningham wants to go home as well. He returns to the Mohawk Valley with the understanding that he is believed to have been shot for deserting—fiction that might be made real if anyone recognizes him as the son of a Tory and a King's Ranger. Everything is wonderful in the growing community along the Mohawk River, except Nora Reid is still alone. With her brother happily settled and both her younger sisters starting families of their own, Nora feels the weight of her twenty-four years. A long walk leads her to the overgrown rubble of the Cunningham homestead where a bearded stranger begins to awaken feelings she'd lost hope of ever experiencing. With secrets abounding—including whether Myles even cares for her—Nora must determine what she is ready to give up and how far she will go to secure his affections. She begins to break through his defenses, but Myles can't risk staying. Not if he loves her. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Christmas Next Door by Susan Page Davis and Vickie McDonough -- Visit an Old West Texas town where a mysterious benefactor leaves gifts each Christmas, but also where four pairs of neighbors battle over hearsay, secrets, and mysteries. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Under Moonlit Skies by Cynthia Roemer -- Esther meets Stewart, her brother-in-law’s ranch hand, when helping her sister recover from childbirth. Any interest she may have in the cowboy is hopeless, since she must return home to Cincinnati and the man her overbearing mother intends her to wed. till reeling from a hurtful relationship, Stew is reluctant to open his heart to Esther. But when he faces a life-threatening injury with Esther tending him, their bond deepens. Heartbroken when she leaves, he sets out after her and inadvertently stumbles across an illegal slave-trade operation, the knowledge of which puts him, as well as Esther and her family, in jeopardy. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Mail-Order Misfire by Davalynn Spencer -- Preacher Bern Stidham is a peacemaker—when he’s not carrying one on his hip. His little girl wants a helper for her widowed father and a mama for herself, so she writes for a mail-order bride. Without telling him. Recently widowed dressmaker Etta Collier is a half-step ahead of the banker who carries a lustful eye for her as well as the note on her home. When her pastor encourages her to answer an unusual letter from a little girl, hope opens an unexpected door. Running from one man’s lecherous pursuit into the home of another she knows nothing about, Etta may have to risk everything to ease a little girl’s loneliness and find a second chance at love. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Witness Tree by Denise Weimer -- Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother. Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Romantic Suspense:
Don't Give Up On Me by Jodi Artzberger -- When Cragge Automotive Group's heiress, Amanda Cragge is left for dead, the only man she's ever loved finds her. As the threats continue, will she accept help from the man who left her eight years ago without explanation? When Ryker Scott returns to Otter Bay, he is brought face to face with his past. He thought he could handle coming back but he might have been wrong. As a trained Army Ranger, he's going to have to use his skills if he wants to keep the only woman he's ever loved alive.
Will their past become their future or will their futures be destroyed forever?(Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Breaking Point by Marji Laine -- Ever since her father’s death, Alynne Stone has had a series of strange “accidents.” Police Lieutenant Jason Danvers believes her father was murdered. He tries to connect the attempts on Alynne’s life, but things just don’t add up. Even in a small town, the mere rumor of treasure can change lives, end friendships...maybe even kill? Still dealing with the pain of his own wife's death, he can’t allow an innocent woman’s life to be snuffed out on his watch. Especially one who shines as bright as Alynne. (Romantic Suspense, Write Integrity Press)

Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills -- FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. (Romantic Suspense, Tyndale House)

Thriller:
The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal -- Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe--a department only known as "Other." When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she'll be back in DC within a few days. But that's before she knows where the designs are stored--and who's after them. With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where only criminal minds and unlikely strategies will keep the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault, hovering in the mesosphere. Even Tyler is more than he seems, and Talia begins to wonder: Is he helping her? Or using her access to CIA resources to pull off an epic heist for his own dark purposes? (Techno-thriller from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

*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.