Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

21A storied castle. A band of rebels.

A nation chasing a centuries-old dream of freedom.

And three women who rise above it all . . .

When Laine Forrester travels overseas to attend her best friend’s vineyard wedding, she expects to find the bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks, it seems the storybook lives they’d imagined are suddenly ripping apart.

With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending, Laine agrees to accompany the newlyweds to the groom’s home in Ireland—never expecting she’d be the one drawn in by its wide-open moors, backroads bordering the Irish Sea, and a mysterious castle that dares to keep its secrets hidden.

From the storied streets of Dublin to the shores of the Emerald Isle, Laine is drawn in to the land and its rich history. The castle ruins whisper stories of Issy—a photojournalist battling through the 1916 Easter Rising, and Maeve—the castle’s lady of legend, fighting for survival through the 1798 rebellion that started it all.

Spanning more than two centuries, Castle on the Rise unites the legacy of three women who must risk mending the broken places within for life, love, and the belief that even through the depths of our pain, a masterpiece of a story can emerge.

My Thoughts: I’ve been looking forward to the next Lost Castle novel, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I found it a treat to revisit with book one’s couple, Ellie and Quinn, and I loved that the old couple wasn’t the main focus of the new story although we do get to see how their lives are progressing.
The vivid landscape described throughout the novel was certainly a high point. While my personal tastes are to have a little less description, Cambron’s talent here cannot be denied. She really does paint a pretty picture with words.
I only wish the spiritual content was as vivid. For me, that was the one area that I felt was lacking. The contemporary storyline, in particular, felt undone in terms of a spiritutal conclusion. But perhaps we’ll see more growth for Laine in the third book. And I do have to point out the many mentions of pubs and having a pint of Guinness. As a dry Baptist, this was a bit off-putting for me. But I will say that none of the characters were ever seen drunk. But the pub and the pub owners were prominent characters in two of the timelines.
Ahhh and the timelines!! I’m a historian at heart and I adore dual timelines. Cambron lovingly crafted three separate timelines around the same key locations and families. Both of the historical threads featured war or uprisings so they were often action packed. She gained my attention early on and kept it the whole way. Each moment in history felt authentic and rare. I didn’t know much Irish history, so I felt like the chosen eras were lesser known, but they quickly felt like home. For me, it’s the historical aspect that really made the story shine and why I gladly give it 5 stars.

Rating and Recommendation: I recommend it to those looking for Irish Historical novels, dual timelines, lovely castles, or Christian Historical fiction. And I’m giving it 5 stars and eagerly await the conclusion of the series.

~ I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

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Posted in About the Book

Life After the Epilogue: A Bonus Scene for The Accident by A.M. Heath

For a special treat, I have a bonus scene for The Accident. This scene DOES contain some spoilers and is best enjoyed and understood if you’ve already read the novella. So if you found this page a little too early, I encourage you to bookmark it or look for it later under the “Bonus Scenes” section on my Novel Extras page here on the blog. 
And if you haven’t read the novella yet, you can read a sample or pick up your ebook copy for .99 on Amazon.

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Life Beyond the Epilogue

October 30, 2017

Ashlyn’s Diary

    Uh-oh. Just when I thought the cell phone thing was behind me, something returned to bite me in the rear. Ok, so here’s what happened at dinner tonight:
    I was lost in my world of chicken quesadillas when Daddy suddenly stopped chewing and stared at me. He leaned both forearms against the table and studied me.
    Momma stopped eating and looked between the two of us.
    I sent a questioning glance to Momma, who only shrugged.
   “Chris, what’s the matter?”
   Dad’s eyes zeroed in on my shirt, then back to my eyes. “It was you, wasn’t it?”
   I set my partially eaten quesadilla down. “What did I do now?”
   “That day at the hospital?”
   I felt the color drain from my face. I stared at him with my jaw hanging open. I had been found out. When he didn’t recognize me after our first real meeting, I assumed I was in the clear. But apparently not.      Dad let out a dry chuckle and wiped a hand over his mouth. He leaned back in his chair.
    “What is it?” Mom asked, looking from me to him, again and again.
    He pointed to me but looked at Momma. “Do you remember reading my message to Ashlyn … you know, in the beginning, when I thought she was you, and I said that some girl walked into my hospital room and stood there staring at me?”
    I watched the color drain from Momma’s face, as Daddy gave her a look with hiked brows, all the while pointing at me with his finger.
    “Ashlyn!” she hissed.
    I shifted on my seat. “Please don’t be mad,” I rushed out.
   Momma’s face melted even further. “Then it’s true?”
   I started but stopped, then finally spoke, “I didn’t plan it. We were there to visit Ms. Amber and Daddy–err, Chris at the time–texted to say he was about to be discharged. I had a chance to see him face to face. I didn’t think about it, I just … did it.”
   “Ashlyn! How could you? What if–”
    I waved her off. “He didn’t know who I was. I pretended to be lost, and he believed me … until now,” I uttered, flipping my gaze back to him.
    Dad only chuckled and rubbed his face again. He does that a lot when he doesn’t know what else to say. “What are we going to do with you?”
    I winced and lifted my shoulders. “Love me?”
   They both laughed.
   “Oh, we’ll love you, all right,” Mom muttered. “So, this whole time, you knew who Chris really was?”
    I nodded. “I knew. I knew he was perfect for you and me. I just didn’t know how to tell him that he didn’t really know you.”
   I turned to Daddy. “But how did you figure it out? I thought you’d recognize me the first time, but you didn’t. Why now?”
    He pointed to my shirt. “You were wearing the same kitty astronaut shirt. It stuck out to me because I thought it was charming, in a weird sort of way. Just now, when I saw the shirt, I had the same thought run through my mind; then it hit me that the last time I had seen a shirt like was on a red-headed girl about your age, your height, and your build standing in my room that day.” He smirked and shook his head.
   “Am I in trouble now?”
   They eyed each other.
   Mom sighed.
   “I won’t do it again, I promise!”
   Momma rolled her eyes, then turned to Dad.
   “What’s done is done, I suppose. But, Ashlyn …”
   “I know,” I muttered, hanging my head.
   He patted my arm, and I looked up at him. “Where has that shirt been all this time?”
   I shrugged. “I found it buried in my closet the other day and washed it.”
   They dropped it and we moved on for the night. But what a close call! Just think, if the hospital visit had come out earlier, I would have been toast. Needless to say, I won’t do that again.

Danielle and Chris:

Chris 9:05 pm:
I’m at the store. Did you finally decide what you wanted?

Danielle 9:05 pm:
Umm …

Chris 9:05 pm:
LOL Is it going to be like this for the next 7½ months?

Danielle 9:06 pm:
LOL I hope not, but it’s been a long while since I’ve been pregnant. Things might have changed since then. 😉

Chris 9:06 pm:
LOL Fair enough.
Well, last night, the little nugget wanted a Butterfinger.

Danielle 9:07 pm:
He said not tonight. I think he wants ice cream.

Chris 9:07 pm:
She wants ice cream, you mean. What kind does she want?

Danielle 9:07 pm:
Moose Tracks. HE definitely wants Moose Tracks.

Chris 9:07 pm:
LOL
Has Ashlyn suspected anything yet?

Danielle 9:08 pm:
Not yet. I want to get this first appointment over with so we can tell her.

Chris 9:10 pm:
I can’t wait. She’ll be a good big sister.
All right. I have the ice cream. I’ll be home soon.

Danielle 9:10 pm:
Okay, thanks. I love you. And drive carefully.

Chris 9:11 pm:
Will do. I love you too.

Danielle 9:11 pm:
Oh, go ahead and pick up a Butterfinger. 😉

Chris 9:12 pm:
LOL I already did. 😉 So far, life has taught me that my little women are tricky, and I had best be on my toes at all times.

Danielle 9:12 pm:
LOL I’m glad to know you’re teachable.

Chris 9:13 pm:
Ha. Ha. Ha.

Danielle 9:13 pm:
😉

Chris 9:13 pm:
Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you. What do you think of the name Annabelle if it’s a girl?

Danielle 9:14 pm:
Ooooh! I like that! I like it a lot!

Danielle 9:14 pm:
Christopher if it’s a boy?

Chris 9:14 pm:
Sure.
But it’s a girl. 😉

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Love Most Worthy by Sandy Ardoin

44She didn’t know which was colder, an Arctic winter or her new husband’s heart.
Hallie Russell believes life should be lived to the fullest. For that reason, she sails to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska to take her cousin’s place as the mail-order bride of a respected shopkeeper. But when her aloof husband’s wedding-night announcement rocks her plans for their marriage, Hallie sees her desire for a family to call her own vanish as quickly as the dreams of hopeful miners.

Tragedy led Rance Preston to regret his rowdy ways and open a general store for the miners in Nome. He’s content in his bachelorhood, but his two orphaned nephews deserve a proper and serious-minded mother. Duped once by a vivacious female, he’s determined to never again let his heart overrule his head…until the high spirits of his new bride threaten his resolve. 

When a misunderstanding comes to light, will they allow the gale force winds of insecurity to destroy what they each need most?

What I Loved: I was immediately pulled in and sympathized with Hallie. She had such a sweet personality, but desperate to know that someone loved her. I was intrigued by the historical detail of panning for gold in Alaska and the life-like setting. Ardoin offers beautiful detail throughout the story, but in a way that doesn’t put the plot on hold. The story itself was entertaining, and the spiritual message was beautifully handled. I appreciated the way Ardoin weaved scripture into the story in a natural way. It never felt heavy or forced, but just the right verse at the right time for the characters.

Rating and Recommendation: I’d recommend this one to those who enjoy Christian Historical novellas and I’m giving it 5 stars.

~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a positive one. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Uncategorized

Valentines Countdown to Great Giveaways Romance Special: Day 6

51023235_10218775640245995_7138630907497283584_nWhen I think of romance, the classic love stories of Jane Austen often come to mind. I want to share some of my favorite quotes with you along with some relationship tips inspired by Austen’s novels. And as a special treat, I’m offering an ebook copy of my novel If Only It Were Yesterday for free on Amazon. My heroine, Liz Cooke, is an avid reader and major Austen fan. You’ll find several nods towards Austen’s work throughout the novel.
And keep scrolling for the joint giveaway and the countdown calendar link. 

I hope you enjoy revisiting these timeless stories, or that it encourages you to pick up a new-to-you Austen novel. If it does, be sure to share with me which one you’re planning to grab first!

*Note: As I was searching for the best quotes to share, clearly I could have chosen a hundred more, but was forced to limit them. I started this post out, strictly quoting the novels. But I soon found out that Miss Austen’s common style was to explain the course of events, rather than allow us to eavesdrop on the happy couple and the professions of love. Because of that, many of the romantic quotes we go around repeating actually come from the movie adaptions and not the original work. In order to keep things romantically focused, I’ll be quoting movies and novels. 

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Pride and Prejudice:
“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” ~ Mr. Darcy

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” ~ Mr. Darcy

Sense and Sensibility:
“To your sister, I wish all the imaginable happiness; to Willoughby that he may endeavor to deserve her.” ~ Colonel Brandon

“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and will always be yours.” ~ Edward Ferrars

Mansfield Park:
“I have loved you as a man loves a woman. As a hero loves a heroine. As I have never loved anyone.” ~ Edmund Bertram

“Surely you and I are beyond speaking when words are clearly not enough.” ~ Edmund Bertram

Emma:
“I cannot make speeches, Emma … If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.” ~ Mr. Knightley

“Mr. Knightley, if I have not spoken, it is because I am afraid I will awaken myself from this dream.” ~ Emma Woodhouse

Persuasion:
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope … I have loved none but you.” ~ Captain Wentworth

“I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.” ~ Captain Wentworth

Northanger Abbey:
“I felt myself bound to you, by honor, by affection, and by a love so strong that nothing could deter me.” ~ Mr. Tilney

“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again.” ~ Mr. Tilney

 

Austen-inspired Advice Column:

Pride and Unforgiveness Will Ruin Any Relationship:
“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.” ~ Mr. Darcy
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” ~ Elizabeth Bennett
Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy show us how these attitudes can cause unnecessary rifts in a relationship. Could you imagine all that these two would have missed out on had they stuck to their earlier feelings? Is there any wonder that the Lord teaches us to be quick to forgive others and to repent of our pride?

True Friendship is Sometimes Painful:
“Badly done, indeed!” ~Mr. Knightley
“Better be without sense, than misapply it as you do.” ~Mr. Knightley
There is no greater example of a true friend in Austen’s works than  Mr. Knightley. At first glance, he sounds harsh, condescending, and the enemy of dear, sweet Emma. But in truth, he’s the truest friend of all. The Bible teaches us that a true friend might wound us from time to time, but it’s the kisses of the enemy that you have to be aware of.

Beware of Their Fruit:
“I cannot think well of a man who sports with any woman’s feelings; and there may often be a great deal more suffered than a stander-by can judge of.” ~ Fanny Price
“I mean to be too rich to lament or to feel anything of the sort. A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” ~ Miss Crawford
This is a theme that we can find in all of Austen’s novels. The Bible teaches that just as a tree is known by its fruit, so people are known by their deeds. And it’s only a matter of time before those deeds are brought to light. As Fanny stands between two men, one she had loved a lifetime and another who promises her the moon, it would have been all too easy for her to be swept away by the tender promises of one so attentive and handsome as Mr. Crawford, and for a season Fanny was. But she was never fully certain of his motives and kept him rightly at arm’s length. In time, Mr. Crawford proved who he really was just as his sister eventually shows her true colors. Fanny was not only saved a lifetime of disappointment but was offered her greatest joy.

Being Tongue Tied Could be a Sign of Deep Feelings:
“You have bewitched me, body and soul. And I love, I love, I love you.” ~ Mr. Darcy*
“I cannot make speeches. If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” ~ Mr. Knightley
“I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness.” ~ Edward Ferrars
“My soul mate must take tea. I wouldn’t even care if he loaded it with sugar or refused to take cream. But all of Jane Austen’s heroes took tea, and she knew a thing or two about worthy men. One could argue that she also died single, but I prefer to think that she died refusing to settle for less. I found it best to stick to her example.” ~ Liz Cooke 
Just as my heroine Liz Cooke learns, sometimes we fictional readers can be a bit blind sighted by what we think the right man ought to do or say. When we see such breathtaking examples of romance, we might be tempted to hold the men in our lives up to fictional standards. But even Austen shows us that sometimes the hero doesn’t always know the right thing to say or do. Think of Mr. Darcy’s insulting first proposal. Or later his declaration of love in which we could say that he muddled because he stuttered his way through it. Mr. Knightley was so in love with Emma that he had very little to say. If the man in your life is shy and not good with his words, cut him some slack. Words and emotions aren’t always easy for people to express.

Impressing the Right Guy Shouldn’t be Hard:
“All were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. … He advised her against it, thought the jar too great, but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, ‘I am determined I will.’ … she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless!” 
Louisa Musgrove is a joyful young lady who is enjoying the attention of a rich, older gentleman. The moment she’s most known for, however, is when she lets her silliness run amuck and we find her jumping off the flight of steps in order to have the thrill of being caught by her handsome escort. Oddly enough, it’s this little stunt that takes Louisa down the path to finding the right sort of man for her and … her handsome escort realizes he needs someone more mature … someone he’s never stopped loving. Lesson learned: If you’re tempted to go to the extreme to get someone to notice you  – don’t bother, he clearly wasn’t interested enough to notice your natural beauty on his own. Save your time and efforts for someone who will.

How We Behave Will Reflect on Who We Catch:
“Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable; that one false step involves her in endless ruin; that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful; and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.” 
To the Austen fan, the name Wickham is never attached to anything pleasant. He’s one of those cads who you think is God’s gift, but after a bit of fruit examination and a background check, we learn that he’s as low as they come. We see characters like this a lot in Austen’s fiction … possibly because we find so many in real life. Sometimes, these guys can blind us to the truth, but be careful that we don’t set ourselves up for failure. Offering the world a cheap version of yourself is bound to attract cheap men. The Bible teaches us to adorn ourselves with the Word of God. Not only is it right, but it’s a great way to increase your chances of catching the right sort of man.

Fiction is Still Fiction:
“It seemed as if the whole might be traced to the influence of that sort of reading which she had there indulged.” ~Northanger Abbey
“What sort of fevered imagination you must have? Perhaps, after all, it is possible to read too many novels.” ~ Mr. Tilney

“Don’t make the mistake of comparing a great reality with a flimsy fairy tale.” ~ Betty Tanner (If Only It Were Yesterday) 
Just like my character, Liz, Catherine Mooreland learns the hard way that fiction is just fiction. Like Liz, Catherine is consumed with makebelieve worlds, so much so that she almost ruins a great relationship in order to chase after her fantasies. Catherine and Liz have that in common. While fiction is fiction, we’ll do well to learn from their mistakes by enjoying our books then setting them down to enjoy our lives and those in it. Your family and friends will benefit from your attention, and you’ll benefit from the clear air.

And I’d like to wrap up this post with one of my absolute favorite Jane Austen movie clip videos. I don’t own the rights to the video. ENJOY! And then be sure to comment and talk Austen with me! Who is your favorite couple?

My post and novel gift is part of a bigger giveaway. So be sure to visit the other stops in this countdown series and enter the joint giveaway. 

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of If Only It Were Yesterday from Amazon
or add it to your Goodreads shelf. 

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Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

 

 

Posted in Fiction Friday

The Accident’s Blog Tour and Giveaway

blog tour accidentI have a new blog tour in progress, and with a new blog tour comes a new giveaway! I’m giving away a paperback copy of The Accident, a blue infinity scarf as seen in the photo, and a journal. The journal and scarf tie into the story and to two of the lead characters. You can enter the giveaway here.
It closes on Feb 9, 2019, and is only open to continental U.S. residents only. Be sure to swing by the stops on the blog tour for more chances to enter!

grand prize copy

Tour Stops: 

Feb 1: Virginia @ Bigreadersite

Feb 4: Laura @ Blue Eye Books

Feb 5: Kaylee @ A. Kaylee’s Kind of Writes

Feb 6: Amanda @ With a Joyful Noise

Feb 7: Debbie @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations 

Feb 8: Deana @ Texas Book-aholic 

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The Accident is now available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.
You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads

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But there’s more! Today starts our grand Valentines Countdown to Great Giveaways! Come to meet new romance authors, win gifts and prizes and…Enter To Win — $50 Amazon Gift Card. The fun starts today! My day is on Wednesday, so I’ll email you a special invite them, along with your special gift. Here’s the Valentine’s Countdown link so you can get started. Enjoy! 

Posted in About the Book

Now Available: The Accident: An Epistolary Novella by A.M. Heath

It’s here! It’s finally here! The Accident is my first published novella, my first epistolary, and my 6th publication, so there’s much to celebrate. I can’t wait to introduce you to Chris, Ashlyn, and Danielle. I think you’ll find someone you can relate to between the three of them. We’ve all gone through difficult seasons or have experienced troubled relationships. Ashlyn and Danielle bring a lot of honest feelings to light in this novella. And Chris is such a sound word of wisdom to them both. I hope you’ll grab yourself a copy soon and enjoy it! Keep scrolling for a sneak peek. 

Accident 1600x2400Can a wrong number bring true love or only heartache? 

Ashlyn Conner’s life is spiraling out of control. She’s already lost her father, and now that her mom is battling thyroid cancer, she fears being orphaned at fifteen. When a friendly stranger texts the wrong number, Ashlyn finds a confidant she didn’t realize she needed. The more Ashlyn gets to know Chris Knowles, the more she’s convinced he could be the caring husband and loving father the Conner women so desperately need.

If only she’d been honest and hadn’t made him believe he was texting her mother, Danielle.

When the truth comes out, will she lose her friendship with Chris and damage her relationship with her mother? Or can God make something beautiful out of her lie?

Told through text messages and Ashlyn’s journal entries, The Accident is a heartwarming, family-centered story.

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The Accident is available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase on Amazon. Ebook copies are .99 and paperback is coming soon. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelf.
I’m looking for bloggers for the upcoming blog tour. If you’re interested in reading and reviewing The Accident on your blog, please fill out the form. *Form closes on Jan 22, 2019.
And if you’re curious how a story can be told through text messages and journal entries, please enjoy this sneak peek … 

Chapter One

May 18, 2017

Chris 6:03 pm:

I’ve been in a car accident. They say I’ll live, but I’ll be in some pain for a while yet. My car on the other hand …

Chris 6:05 pm:

Oh, I’m in room 321 at the hospital.

Chris 9:36 pm:

Sis?

Danielle 9:39 pm:

I’m very sorry to hear about your accident! But, ummm, you’ve texted me three times tonight by mistake. Your sister didn’t get your messages.

I hope you feel better soon.

Chris 9:45 pm:

I’m terribly sorry! I had no idea! Here I was wondering why my sister didn’t bother to respond, and it’s because I’m an idiot. I’ll blame it on the pain meds. LOL

Danielle 9:47 pm:

LOL It’s no problem, I promise. I hope you finally got ahold of your sister.

Chris 9:48 pm:

I did. She was properly concerned and insisted on seeing me first thing in the morning. She also got a big kick out of my blunder. I still can’t believe I did that.

Danielle 9:53 pm:

It’s ok, really. I’m not bothered, but I am curious about something. How did you text the wrong number? Isn’t your sister in your contacts?

Chris 9:54 pm:

That’s a mystery to me. Darn phone lost everything during the accident. It was like a factory reboot or something. It was so weird. But I’m just glad it still works.

Anyway, I was texting from my memory … which turns out is as dependable as my phone.

Danielle 9:54 pm:

Weird. LOL

Chris 9:55 pm:

Definitely. But nothing about this night has been normal.

Danielle 9:55 pm:

Sounds like it.

How are you feeling? What happened? … If you don’t mind me asking.

Chris 9:57 pm:

Someone pulled out in front of me. I tried to stop in time but couldn’t. Unfortunately, I flipped the car over, got a lump on the side of my head (which is why they’re keeping me overnight), severely bruised some ribs, and broke my wrist.

Oh, my name is Chris Knowles, by the way.

Danielle 10:02 pm:

YIKES! I’m so sorry. That sounds dreadful.

And I’m Danielle Conner.

Chris 10:04 pm:

Thanks for keeping me company, Danielle. I probably should leave you alone now. It’s getting late.

Danielle 10:06 pm:

It’s no biggie on my end. I’m not ready to sleep, and there’s nothing on TV anyway. But I’m sure you could use the rest.

Chris 10:07 pm:

Are you kidding?! I work a night shift, so I’m used to being up during this time. The nurse would feel better if I slept, but I’m a little too wired for that. The energy drink I had just before the accident may be part of the reason.

Danielle 10:07 pm:

Is that where you were going when you had the accident?

Chris 10:08 pm:

Yep. I’ve been at the pencil factory for the past two years. And this just happened to be my last week on night shift. What a way to go out.

What about you? Why aren’t you rushing to bed like normal folks?

Danielle 10:09 pm:

LOL The simple of it is this: Life for me hasn’t been normal in far too long. Plus, I’m a bit of a night owl.

Ashlyn Conner’s Diary:

I lied! I still can’t believe I did it! I was sitting here, thumbing through the channels — there really should be more cool stuff on TV! Where did all the good stuff go, anyways? Like I want to watch another home remodeling show! Or worse, some old guys picking through cluttered barns for some worthless “treasure!” — Anyways, mom’s phone kept going off. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t bother to answer it. There’s nothing worse than a wrong number who keeps texting you, so I finally answered it to set him straight. Turns out, it was someone trying to tell his sister that he was in the hospital!! What are the chances?! I felt bad for not answering him sooner, but how was I to know? We chatted for a bit. The guy says he’ll live and they’re only keeping him overnight for observation. Lucky! He said his name is Chris Knowles, but when it was my turn to give him my name, I panicked. I gave him Mom’s name instead. I really shouldn’t have done that! But, I mean, I know lying is a sin and all that, but Mom’s always on my case about not talking to strangers or giving out my name and stuff. Urg! I should have just stopped texting him … but I didn’t. I can’t explain it. He seemed … lonely. Don’t ask me how I know that. I just do.

Chapter Two

May 19, 2017

Chris 11:34 am:

You are not going to believe what just happened. I’m sitting here, waiting for my discharge papers, when this girl just walked into my room. LOL She just walked in as pretty as you please, then stopped in the middle of the room and stared at me. I asked her if I could do something for her, but she just stood there, then asked if this was Charlie’s room. When I told her it wasn’t, she apologized and took off like a rocket.

LOL Well, if I can dial the wrong number, then I suppose she can wander into the wrong room.

Danielle 11:41 am:

LOL That is so funny! Do these sorts of things always happen to you?

Chris 11:42 am:

Nope. But maybe I needed a little variety in my life. LOL

Danielle 11:45 am:

Maybe. LOL But I’ll stick to variety in my ice cream. I mean, variety in life isn’t always so pleasant.

Ashlyn’s Diary:

I saw him! I couldn’t help myself!! I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist. I was sitting here in Ms. Amber’s room. She had hip surgery this morning. Momma said that she had brought us too many tuna casseroles not to go visit her. So we just happened to be at the hospital when Chris texted to say he was about to be discharged. It was my one shot to actually SEE the man that I was texting last night. He’s perfect for Momma!! He was sitting on the edge of his bed when I walked in — And I did walk in. I can hardly believe it, but I just walked into his room and stood there, staring at him, — and I could tell by the way his legs stretched out onto the floor and continued out that he was tall. My legs barely touch the floor. His hair is a sandy color. And his eyes looked green. He’s so handsome!! And his smile is so soft and welcoming. I can hardly put into words how he made me feel when he smiled at me. It was like coming home. LOL It’s funny now because Chris texted me about it right after I walked out. He just thought I was a confused kid. But he was really cool about it. In person, I could tell that he was surprised, but he offered to help me. Over the phone, he just laughed it off. I know it was wrong of me to continue to lie to him about who I really am, but it was comforting to know that he wasn’t just being nice to my face, you know? He meant it.

Chris 4:15 pm:

Danielle, I’ve had something on my mind all afternoon. I’m sorry for not asking sooner. Are you alright? I don’t know. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but you mentioned twice that things weren’t so pleasant for you. I know I’m virtually a stranger to you and all, but I just want you to know that I can be a friend to you if you need. I can listen. And who knows, maybe talking to a stranger will be easier than talking to someone around you. Anyway, I don’t mean to scare you off or anything, but my offer stands. Take it or leave it; it’s your call.

Ashlyn’s Diary:

Chris asked me if everything was alright, and I didn’t know how to respond. I just sat there, curled up on the chair beside the window, and stared at the screen. Momma is asleep again. It’s one of her bad days, probably because she insisted on getting out today when she was already dragging. I hate seeing her like this.

People say that rest is a good thing, but it doesn’t feel good to watch her sleep this much. Seeing her so droopy all the time just reminds me of how sick she is and that she may never get better.

The doctor said her lack of energy is due to being off of her thyroid meds. He said she’ll feel much better after her treatment is over, but she has this long diet to endure first. He said it’s normal and that I shouldn’t panic, but he’s not standing by day in and day out, watching her fade away like this. It makes remission look impossible and death all the more certain.

Back to Chris, I don’t know what to do about him. I want to talk to him, but how much can I say? How trustworthy is this man? Then again, he doesn’t know me or anyone I know, so what’s the harm in being honest with him?

~~~

I took a break for lunch. Food has a way of bringing clarity.

I’m going to text Chris back. I’ve decided that much. I still don’t know what I’ll say, or how I’ll get around to telling him that I’m not Danielle, but her daughter, or maybe I never will. But I can’t keep writing in a journal that doesn’t answer. Or waiting for a God who doesn’t speak. Chris will answer back at least, and that’s something more than I have right now.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

20Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death. 

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

What I Loved: The Curse of Misty Wayfair is quite a blessing for the reader! From the moment I opened the book, I was drawn into Pleasant Valley alongside both heroines. The legendary curse intrigued me as much as the heroines did. And the heroes! Sigh. They were both so real and flawed. The tension between the couples was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and yet the lustful tones were at a minimum. It was a very clean and chaste romance and beautifully written.
I didn’t find Misty Wayfair to be as suspensful as Foster Hill, but that’s not a bad thing! I’m not a big suspense reader so I found it to be the perfect amount. The mystery itself was wonderfully crafted. I felt like I had a good understanding of how it would pan out, but the conclusion was more in-depth than I had expected, so I was very pleased.
The spiritual content was a surprising blessing. The theme centered around being lovingly crafted with a purpose. However, it was the struggle Heidi had with her family that convicted me. Sometimes a parent’s love isn’t understood very well. Being able to experience and sympathize over Heidi’s hardships through her perspective opened my eyes to see that there may be things that I say or attitudes that I carry that isn’t understood well by my teen.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Curse of Misty Wayfair 5 stars and gladly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian mystery/suspense, dual-timeline novels, or just a great novel.

~I received a copy from Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a positive one. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

339Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

What I Loved: From the moment I opened the book, I felt as if I had stepped into another world. Frantz has a beautiful gift for using words to create a setting that is equally as lush and vibrant as the real-life areas she portrays. The characters were so endearing and it was easy to sympathize with their plight. The spiritual content was weaved into the story in the most natural and effective way. Both of the main characters had a strong relationship with the Lord. It was refreshing to find that the story revolved around how their trust in Christ was the anchor through the difficult storms in their life. While readers aren’t likely to find themselves in the same set of circumstances, they will be able to relate to the helpless feeling of a life spinning out of control.
A Bound Heart was stunning from start to finish and a great way to start your new year!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Bound Heart 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or fiction centered around Scotland, the later 1700s, Colonial America, and slavery.

~ I received a copy from Revell. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. 

 

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: Art of Love Book 2 by A.M. Heath

Cover Tease Painter AD

Eeek! It’s finally time to share info about my upcoming novel with you. The Art of Love series is something different from me. Each of the novels in this series are 100% stand-alone, which means there will not be any crossover characters. This will allow readers to pick up the books in any order without conflict.
Art of Love is a series based on a similar theme. Each book will feature a different form of art. They have been so much fun to write. And they’ve been a blast to reread too!
The series kicks off with Dance With Me which releases 4/8/19. I’m currently working on revisions for the 2nd book in the series which is projected to release in fall of 2019. So … are you ready to learn more about this one?

Painted PNG

Official Description:

Getting over Grady was the hardest thing Olivia Jernigan ever had to do. Now, three years after his death and on the verge of marrying another, her plans come to a screeching halt when she receives a shocking wedding gift from her great aunt that may change everything—a picture painted by her deceased fiancé. Bent on discovering the truth, Olivia flees home to learn what really happened to the man she thought loved her, a man who was supposed to have died in the Korean War.

Grady Barnes woke up in a hospital room three years ago with no knowledge of his identity. The only memory to resurface was the image of a woman. A woman he can’t stop painting. Will these paintings be the key to helping him find his way home, and how can the woman in the painting affect the direction of his life?

Olivia and Grady have a history, but do they still have a future?
Or is their romance just a painted memory?

The Art of Love is a series compiled of stand-alone novels where the characters tell their own stories and love means so much more than passion.

Painter Banner

I’ll be honest. I don’t know whether to sigh in awe or scream for joy. Lol Olivia and Grady share a beautiful love story like nothing I’ve ever written before. There is something so … pure here. I’ve said that about each of the books in this series. I think that’s one of the things they all have in common. And it’s why I’ve used that phrasing in the description and advertisements for the series: love means so much more than passion. Each of the stories involves a love that is so much deeper than your common whirl-wind romance. It’s deeper than the lustful expression of love that we commonly see today. I find myself standing back with readers on this one, just breathing in a sigh of awe at the devotion these characters show toward one another.
There is a third book planned in the series and it features an actress, but I’m not currently working on it so there will be a long gap before the series is closed. But that’s one of the perks to writing a stand-alone series! 🙂 Here are some more details on the series:

You can mark Dance With Me on Goodreads. Painted Memories is now available on Goodreads as well.
The pre-order links are not available yet, but you can be sure not to miss the release of either novel by signing up for my newsletter. I’ll send you a link directly into your inbox the morning of the release, as well as an early preview of each novel two weeks before they release.

Coming 2019 plus one

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Blue Ridge by Pepper Basham

36Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

What I Loved: I’m still new to Pepper’s work, but I’m already a huge fan! I’m not even sure what to say aside from that I loved this one and recommend it to everybody. The setting comes to life as well as the culture of the Appalachian mountains. The characters are well developed. The chemistry between Laurel and Jonathan is the stuff of perfection. Jonathan’s initiation in the mountains had me rolling from the start. There’s a sound message about trusting Christ with the details of your life and the salvation of your loved ones. All in all My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge was a delightful novel from start to finish.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical Christian Fiction or fiction set in the Appalachian Mountains.

~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.