Posted in About the Book

Secret Project Revealed!

If you’ve been following me on Facebook you probably caught wind of a secret project that I’ve been working on. For the first time ever, I’m collaborating with 3 other Christian fiction authors to bring a series based on the same small town. And we are so excited to finally reveal what we’ve been working on. 

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The work for The Librarians of Willow Hollow began about a year ago. We knew from the start that we were all too busy to publish anything right away. But the concept was too tempting to ignore. So with the promise to have 2 years to complete the novella, we signed on and became a team. 

Willow Hollow is a fictional town in KY. Our four heroines may work for the same library, but they each have their own stories to tell. 

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And there you have it. The Librarians of Willow Hollow will be coming your way next year! To stay informed on the latest reveals please follow us online. 

Amanda Tero: Facebook and Website
Faith Blum: Facebook and Website
A.M. Heath: Facebook and Website
Alicia G. Ruggieri: Facebook and Website

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

42075068In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

My Thoughts: There comes a time when you find a story beautifully written, but somehow it just doesn’t work for you. Sadly, this was one of those moments for me. But what didn’t work for me, may still work for you!
In chapter one, I was pulled into the world and relationship between twin brothers, Robert and Roy. It wasn’t hard to ache with both of them for different reasons.
The story bounces back and forth between the present day to the 1940s. I personally LOVE dual timelines. And this was certainly one that I was eager to dig into. Dykes chose to tell this story in the third person, present tense. Present tense is never a big hit for me, but I was pages into this novel before I even realized it! That’s never happened to me before. She definitely earns an award for getting me to “eat my veggies” without me knowing it. 😉
Ansel-by-the-Sea is a charming town, in both the past present. The casts of both worlds are equally endearing. And Dykes has a very lovely poetic style of writing. However, what makes it beautiful also slows it down. Whose Waves These Are is the sort of story that begs the reader to stop, breathe deeply of the salty air, and enjoy every word written on the page.
Unfortunately for me, I’m in a phase of life where slowing down isn’t the luxury it ought to be, so this one was harder for me to get into.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 4 stars and I recommend it to those who enjoy dual timelines, WWII fiction, and poetic descriptions.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Cover Reveal and Preview: Protecting the Poor by Amanda Tero

I am beyond excited about Amanda’s upcoming release. I had the pleasure of criticing this one, and it’s my favorite of the series. Today, we’re revealing the cover and sharing a preview. 

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About the Book

Sheriff Feroci is now lord over the province, and Abtshire has become a pit of injustice. Being forced into the lord’s service does not give Dumphey as many opportunities to help the poor as he desires. When attempts on his life drive him into the forest, this freedom opens a world of possibilities for helping others. But how can he do so when he is running for his life? And does God want him to do more than simply feed the poor?

Noel has always hidden behind the shadow of his older brother, Dumphey. When life forces him to stand on his own, will he still follow God in the corrupt world in which he lives? Would God really call him to do something that is beyond his power to do?

As Lord Feroci’s sinister plot comes to light, each lad has a choice to make. A choice that could cost them their lives.

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Prologue of “Protecting the Poor”

Lord Feroci slammed the desk with his fists. “I didn’t send you on a fool’s errand, Barat.” He clenched his teeth as he glared at the missive opened before him.

Aye, sir. I cannot help that others are the fools.”

Feroci released his anger in a growl. Barat stood patiently, his arms crossed.

We’re losing time, Barat.”

Barat didn’t respond.

You’re not doing enough.” He raised his head to glare at his man. Barat stared him down. Nothing could phase this man. Which was exactly why Feroci had him in his employ. But ’twas irksome at times. Feroci blew out his pent-up air and fell back into his chair. “What do you suggest?” Barat was the only man in Abtshire from whom he would even consider suggestions. The man had proven his loyalty on the battlefield, taking more than one scar for Feroci. Feroci had returned the favor as many times. They were in this together.

Barat finally stepped forward, but he didn’t sit in the seat across Feroci. Instead, he took the missive from Feroci’s desk and held it at two corners. “I say, we do this…” He pulled at the paper and it ripped—something weak giving way to a greater force that commanded it. That sight alone gave Feroci strength and he nodded in satisfaction.

Aye. Something made from pulp cannot stand against an iron fist. They will give way.”

Call another meeting.” Barat layered the two pieces of paper and held them over one of the candles that shed light in the dim room. A small strand of smoke wove upward before the paper burst into flame. Extra light illuminated the room then dimmed as the paper turned into gray ash. “We know their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Use their weaknesses against them. Convince them that there is no other choice.”

Feroci leaned forward and grabbed the quill he had dropped when Barat had entered. He ran his fingers across its smoothness before taking a clean paper. “Well put.” He dipped the quill in ink. “Matheny … ’tis a vast city, but given the right promise, the townspeople will rebel and overthrow Lord Nedry.” He wrote a few lines, shaping the concept that Barat had supplied. “Haar is closer to the king, so that could pose problems.”

Then wait on Haar. We’ve three cities between our province and them.”

Feroci didn’t look up from his writing. “Lord Alexandre is on my side. If he works with me, mayhap we can claim the help of Belmis, Metz, and Kiralyn.” He paused at the last name. The anger that had dissipated boiled under the surface once more.

You can’t obtain Kiralyn—”

Curse you, man!” Feroci threw his quill at Barat. The man didn’t flinch. “We’ll have to overthrow Lord Kiralyn and sever any ‘blood ties’ to the king. I will obtain the throne.”  He stood and his chair crashed backward. Obtaining Lord Trent’s domain from the king had been an easy task. The unfortunate lord had conveniently died in battle with no other witness besides Barat. The king had promoted Feroci from sheriff to lordship, giving him reign over Abtshire, Fordyce, and Keller. Controlling the latter two was nothing—they were mere hamlets compared to the likes of Matheny. Feroci had the talent and ability for so much more.

He had to gain control before Yzebel gave birth to their child—his heir. It must be his heir. He had no use for a lass. But a son—a son he could shape and mold, without the meddling of others, to follow in his footsteps … aye, that son would establish their family as royalty forever. The land was now under the leadership of a man who had gone mad since his daughter’s return. Why had he named Princess Belle as heiress of the kingdom? She had left her father and had been raised by Lord and Lady Kiralyn. This, Feroci would know—he was one of the only lords the king didn’t refuse to see after the death of his wife. In the king’s dark hours of grief, he had made substantial promises to Feroci for his help. Promises that had blown away much like the ash of the letter Barat had burned.

Feroci had written. Barat had spoken. Nothing would sway the king’s mind. He was going against all tradition of the land and naming a woman as leadership, should he pass before she married.

I can’t marry the lass myself, and I haven’t a son to do so. I will make the king pay,” Feroci hissed. He walked to the window and pulled back the drapes that blocked the fading daylight. A lad stood below, staring up at him. Recognition slammed Feroci when his eyes locked onto the lad. He was more of a threat to Feroci than he would ever know.

Barat.”

The man joined him.

How much did he hear?”

The lad’s gaze shifted to something in the distance. He turned and walked toward the barracks—the place he should have already been at this time of day.

Barat’s dark eyes followed the lad’s movement. “You can finally make your move against him.”

Finally. Feroci liked the sound of that word. He had waited too long, but he would wait no longer. “Take care of him.”

The silence between them sealed the promise.

But don’t make it a matter of convenience.” Feroci let the drapes fall. “I don’t want to raise suspicion.”

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Links:

Add to your Goodreads’ Shelf.

Preorder your eBook from Amazon.

Link to Chapter One previw:

Visit Amanda’s blog for a preview of the first chapter.

Extra

Would you like to be a part of “Protecting the Poor’s” release team (and get a free eBook)? Sign up here to spread the word on social media!

2018 bio

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com
Website: http://amandatero.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amandaterobooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero/
Blog: http://www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

 

Posted in About the Book

Cover and Title Reveal: A Southern Drama by A.M. Heath

Courthouse tease

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably scrolling right past my words so you can see the new cover. Lol But if you can control yourself just a little longer, I’d like to explain some things about this story first.

I grew up hearing about how a riot in the 30s had burnt our county’s courthouse. Even at a young age, the historian in me was drawn to the story and the many unanswered questions. But it wasn’t until I ran across some pictures I had never seen before of the riot that a story idea was born.

I’m using a fictional town, 100% fictional characters, and a 100% fictional crime. However, I want to use the intense climate surrounding the accusation.

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The making of the cover:
I normally design my front covers, but I knew from the start that this would need more than I was capable of creating. I sent some suggestions and scraps of photos to Krista Noorman and out popped this beauty!

From the beginning, I knew that this story would be different from anything else I’ve written. It’s still a work in progress, so it’s not easy to nail down the specific ways this story differs from my other works but I knew I wanted to strike a cord that I’ve not yet touched. But at the same time, I knew that I always wanted hope and romance to play a role in this. Our first attempt at a cover was darker with a muted yellow/brown backdrop. It was lovely but it just wasn’t right. I thought it was exactly what I wanted but when I saw it, I knew that it was lacking something vital. It needed a stronger presence of hope. And the moment I saw these brighter colors, that’s exactly what it said to me: Hope. And that’s what this story is really about. It doesn’t matter what our current circumstances look like; there is a hope found only in Christ that can never be matched here on earth.

The floating flowers! I had only shown this image to a few select people who were tasked with giving me some feedback during the creation process. I had some mixed results concerning the flowers. But for me, it was a no-brainer. They were the icing on the cake. They were the piece that tied all the other elements on the cover in together like a bow on a present. It was definitely a sort of signature touch for me. As well as the pink font. My heart gushes every time I see it.

The making of a title: God of the Chestnut Flower
I wanted to hit more of the Southern drama elements with this one so I purposely chose a title that would reflect that.
The chestnut flower actually means justice or seeks justice. So the title translates: God of Justice.

Publication Goal:
I’m still writing the first draft. I find it motivating to have the final image in hand, so I look forward to returning to this amazing story. I’d love to get it out sometime in 2020, but only the Lord knows what our futures hold. Stay tuned and I suppose we’ll all find out together. 😉

Courthouse Tagline

 

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: Project Scrooge by A.M. Heath

Scrooge Reveal

A Christmas Carol has always been a favorite of mine. It’s been on my author’s bucket list to write a retelling, so I’m beyond excited to present my take on this beloved classic.

 

Garland Collection Concept Release

Not only is Project Scrooge something I’m excited to publish, but it’s also the debut novella in a new Christmas collection. The goal is to release a new standalone Christmas novella each year. Each story will be set in Garland, Tennessee.  

 

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Can Scrooge find love from a friendship gone cold?
 
Sanford Stone cut ties with his best friend, Natalie, in favor of the love of his life … a woman who ended up walking out on him just before Christmas. Six years later, Sanford can’t bring himself to celebrate Christ’s birth with any joy. Little does he know, his grandmother and her companions have dubbed him the Scrooge and intend to help him overcome his bitterness and find happiness again.
 
The only thing that has hurt Natalie Dunivan more than Sanford cutting her out of his life has been watching his long-held grudges slowly destroy the man she has always loved. When Ms. Carol devises a plan to reach out to Sanford, Natalie eagerly agrees.
 
Sanford accepts his grandmother’s challenge to celebrate Christmas for 31 straight days, but he didn’t count on her plan involving Natalie. Can his family and friends help their Scrooge see the error of his ways, or will Natalie’s presence only make things worse?

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Stay tuned to hear the latest. Release date still to be announced. 

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: To Love Anew by A.M. Heath

To Love Anew teaserNot long after I began penning Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings, I had created spin-off stories featuring the next generation. This is one of those projects that weighs on your heart no matter how much time has passed. I’m thrilled to announce that I am currently tip-toeing forward on writing this as well as the last two novels in the series. Here’s the breakdown of the entire series and the year each is set in:

Ancient Words Novels:
Where Can I Flee – 1861, 1862 (now available)
In the Shadow of Thy Wings – 1863, 1864 (now available)
Out of the Ashes – 1865, 1866 with an epilogue set in 1880 (now available)
His Love Endures Forever – 2012, 2013 (150 years later)
Katherines Good News – 2013, 2014

To Love Anew – 1890-1901

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The Lord had led me to take a detour and publish some other books before coming back to the conclusion of the Ancient Words Series. This has been an interesting break, and, since there’s a gap in the stories themselves, it only heightens the generation gap between the stories.
At the moment, I have a publication goal for all 3 remaining books, but since the stories are in their early stages, it’s way too early to announce a release date. But fans should know that they’re on deck and waiting for me to finish off a few other projects first.

As for the spin-off set, To Love Anew: I’m planning to write these as novellas and publish them together. I am actively writing the first drafts for two of these stories but it’s too early to say when they’ll release or if they’ll release before or after the last two books of the series. Because these novellas feature the next generation, it doesn’t affect the final 2 novels, making me free to publish before or after their release. BUT I had the opportunity to design the cover and I took it! And I must say, it’s been inspiring to see this come together and to finally have an image for the collection.

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About the Cover:
You’ll notice the only color featured in the title is red, and it’s a nod to the red font from the Ancient Words Series.
The title has a two-fold purpose. Each of the stories features a character who will learn to love someone in a new way. And this one is written especially for the fans and it gives everyone the chance to fall in love with their favorite characters all over again.
And lastly, the character featured on the cover is Louise Harper.
Are you ready for a closer look at the stories? Here you go!

The Runaway Bride features Frank Harper’s daughter Louise Harper and her most persistent suitor Clifford Alistar.

Seeing Double features one of Ralph Williams’s twin daughters, Robin Williams. Robin causes quite the stir when she pretends to be her sister in order to spend time with the guy she’s interested in.

Something Old, Something New features George Chandler’s oldest adoptive daughter, Hannah and Frank’s oldest son, Rufus Harper. Hannah discovers a family she never knew she had … but is it better than the love she’d always known?

The Friendly Challenge features Rachel (Chandler) Martin’s daughter Leah Martin. Leah accepts the challenge of making friends with her arch enemy … and it’s a challenge that could change more than just her attitude; it could change her understanding of love.

Needless to say, I’m chomping at the bit to take fans back to Maple Grove to revisit the Harpers and their friends. This family is growing more endearing with each visit.
As stated, it’s still an early work in progress. But if you’re eager to have your hands on the stories, I invite you to pray for me and my team as we strive forward.
And if you haven’t read the Ancient Words Novels yet, there’s time to catch up before To Love Anew releases.

Posted in About the Book

Release Day: Dance With Me by A.M. Heath

Dancers Banner with date

It’s FINALLY here! I always spend some time on the morning of release day to reflect on the journey. I don’t think I can sum it up any better than the post I shared on Facebook this morning, so I’ll copy again here. 

I have tried all morning to put into words how I feel on release day. But I have no words; only gratitude.
Dance With Me has been a story that I fell in love with from the very start. I am beyond honored to be allowed to pen this story, and my heart is overflowing to finally be able to send it out into the world.
I’m supposed to give a sales pitch about how and where you can buy your copy, but I think you know by now where to get it. Instead, I only want to say thank you.
Unless you’ve walked the road of publication, you can’t know what goes into each novel. And unless the author publishes Christian Fiction, they can’t know the extra dose of spiritual warfare that goes on behind each story. But through it all, Christ has done what He promised to do. He was my comfort on the hard days. He was the source of my fuel and inspiration on the good days. He enabled me to do something I enjoy, and, more than that, He allowed me to pen my personal favorite story. He equipped me to weave in the powerful message of faith that will glorify Him as He sees fit. I’ll end with the dedication note:
Without You nothing would be possible and everything would be meaningless.

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I know in the Facebook post, I mentioned that I wasn’t going to give a sales pitch … 😉 but this post IS a sales pitch, so here we go. 
You can pick up your copy in paperback and ebook on Amazon. You can visit it on Goodreads. But there’s more!

In celebration of the release, there’s a blog tour going on this week and a giveaway. PLUS I have a sale going on for my Civil War novels. Keep scrolling for all the details and links.

Dance 2 FWill a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two find a partnership they never thought possible. 
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs. 

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

Blog tour Dancer

 

Tour Stops: 

Monday April 8th: 
Debbie @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
Loretta @ Just Writing
Laura @ Blue Eye Books PLUS an interview

Tuesday April 9th:
Kaylee @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Karen @ KarenSueHadley

Wednesday April 10th: 
Deana @ Texas Book-aholic
Jana @ Review from the Stacks
Becky @ Blossoms and Blessings

Thursday April 11th: 
Bella @ Bella Putt: The Pen and the Pages
Alicia @ A Brighter Destiny

Friday April 12th: 
Esther @ We’ve Got Pockets PLUS an interview
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure

Grand Prize

Giveaway closes this weekend. I’ll post the winner here on the blog. Follow the link to enter. 

A.W. Sale

And last, but certainly not least, this week marks the anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. I was able to incorporate just a glimpse of this moment in my second novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings. This remains one of my favorite moments in history, which is why I’m celebrating with a Civil War book sale. You snatch up your copies from Amazon and if you’d like to dig into the surrender at Appomattox, I invite you to visit the blog series I hosted during the 150th anniversary. I broke down the moments piece by piece then wrapped it up with 5 photo albums from my trip to Appomattox during the 150th anniversary. 

Posted in About the Book

Preview: Dance With Me by A.M. Heath

We’re only a week away from the release of the first book of the Art of Love series. Dance With Me releases April 8, 2019. I’ll share links to the blog tour, chat, and giveaway on the release day. But for now, here are the first two chapters of the novel. 
Enjoy! And remember, you can visit the companion post to the novel, featuring dance videos. This can be viewed before, during, or after reading the novel. 

Dancers Banner with date

1

Neil Fox:

2010; Marlow, Tennessee

    A lifetime of ballroom dancing had not only earned me countless awards, but today it was also offering an interview and a grand party to celebrate. I opened the door and held it for Arleen.
    She thanked me as she passed through, and together we stopped at the hotel desk, before being ushered into a private office.
    Upon entering the office, a young woman stood with a bright smile on her face. We swapped handshakes and introductions before settling down on the offered couch.
    Mackenzie Henderson typed out a few notes, then set up her recorder.
    “Miss Henderson,” I started, but the woman waved me off.
    “No, please just call me Mackenzie.”
    I gave her a nod. “With a lifetime of dancing, I’m not even sure where to start.”
    “I understand you were both competitors before 1959. I have a list of your accomplishments here in front of me. But what we’d really like to know is what happened in 59?”
    I flipped my gaze to Arleen. That was a loaded question.
    Arleen sent me a look that said she, too, was still uncertain of how to begin.
    We both looked to Mackenzie for direction.
    “Why don’t we start at the beginning?” she said. “Can you share with me your early impressions of Arleen?”
    I paused a moment.
    Arleen laid her hand on my arm. “Go ahead,” she gently prodded. “I’m not afraid.”
    I pulled in a breath and hoped I wasn’t making a mistake. “Alright, the truth is …”

2

Neil Fox:

1959; Marlow, Tennessee

    The truth was, I knew better than to look twice at Arleen Thatcher. That gal was trouble, if there ever was trouble.
    The temptress in heels sashayed past me, bumping me as she did so. She looked over her shoulder to be sure I’d noticed.
    I had. I wasn’t dead. But I also wasn’t stupid, which was more than I could say for my chums.
    Albert Jones groaned beside me, “That is some doll.”
    I rolled my eyes–eyes that were fixed onto the dance floor and not on Queen Arleen. Like I said, I knew better than to look twice.
    “If I had just one shot with her–”
    “You’d choke,” I cut in.
    Albert nudged my side with his elbow. “I betcha I could get farther with her than you.”
    I snorted. “I got better things to do.”
    “Well, I can’t think of any.”
    “What are you fellas talking about?” Ed Dower asked, wedging between us.
    “Arleen Thatcher,” Albert said, sounding more and more like a lovesick gal with each passing second.
    I didn’t have to look at Ed to know that the mention of Arleen’s name caught his attention. Ed had been her fan for some time now.
    “She purposely bumped into Neil a minute ago, but he’s still claiming he’s unaffected.”
    Ed jerked his head to me.
    I met his look.
    “She bumped you?” He sounded more jealous than curious.
    I didn’t have to work to downplay the moment. I knew what she was really after, and it wasn’t me. “You know how she is.”
    “No, but I’d like to,” Albert said in a throaty moan.
    I cut my eyes to him, a scowl tugging on my lips.
    “She was just trying to get in my head.”
    “I’d let her in my head,” Albert chimed in. “I’d let her in my bed–”
    “Give it a rest!” I cut in.
    Albert looked taken aback. “You got dibs on her or something?”
    I clenched my teeth, nostrils flaring.
    “Come on,” Ed said, gripping Albert by the shoulder. “You oughta know by now, he’s a square when it comes to talking about the babes.”
    Albert eyed me for a moment. “Well, I’m not a square. I’m gonna go talk to Arleen.”
    I watched him saunter off in her direction and rolled my eyes again.
    Ed looked at me, at Arleen, then back to me. “I know what you’re thinking, but, foolish or not, I’m going with him.”
    “Idiots,” I mumbled under my breath, as Ed jogged to join Albert. Couldn’t they recognize what was plain for everyone to see? Right this moment, Arleen stood on the arm of her current dance partner, Jett Finnegan, while she flirted and teased the throng of men surrounding them. Jett, as her boyfriend, should have been offended, but he wasn’t. The arrogant fool actually stood taller, knowing that everyone here wanted what he had. But he wouldn’t have her for long. She’d be bored of him soon enough, and she’d cut him loose, same as she had all the ones before him.
    I didn’t see the logic in getting mixed up with a gal like her. You couldn’t tame her.
    I strolled to the refreshment table, accepted a cup of water, and tried to put my focus back on the dance floor. It wasn’t much of a distraction, since we were between heats. A flurry of activity caught my attention from the right. And just like Moses parting the water, Queen Arleen parted the group of men and started in my direction. My instincts said to up and run like Joseph, but I liked to think I was made of stouter stuff, so I stood my ground. Who knows, maybe I was just dumber than Joseph.
    Arleen reached the table. She cast me a glance out of the corner of her eye and requested a cup of water from the uniformed attendant. Arleen stood in heels and a calf-length dress. Lavender tulle made an impressive bell shape that started around her slender waist. A tight bodice topped it off. Her dark brown hair was swept back, curls pinned in sparkling clips, and tiny white flowers woven through her locks like a crown. She eyed me with–if I were willing to be honest–the sharpest, most stunning shade of blue eyes I had yet seen. Her makeup, thick around the eyes, forced the color to practically pounce on you from across the room, competing only with the most kissable shade of red lips known to man. It was little wonder she had a following, but I was determined not to be numbered among them.
    “Where’s your partner?” she asked, eyes traveling across the room. I started to answer, but she added, “I sure hope she corrected that final spin.”
    I laughed, a short sort of laugh with my mouth closed and lips only tipped up on one side. “You’ll find out soon enough. What about your partner?”
    “What about him?” she asked, one brown brow perked up.
    “He looked a little shaky on his feet during your jive. Do you think he’s ready to waltz?”
     She snickered.
     It might have been a musical sound if I was willing to let myself fall for her charms, which I wasn’t.
    “Say, where is he anyway? I’ve never known you to be without male company for so long.”
     Arleen eyed me coyly. “I’m not without male company. I’m with you, aren’t I?” She batted her long lashes at me.
    “So you are. Why is that exactly?” Something sure smelled fishy.
    She shrugged her shoulder, an innocent–overly innocent–look in her eyes.
    My gut dropped. “They wouldn’t …”
    She grinned and wagged her head. With polished nails, she patted me on the chest, her touch burning, not comforting. “Now, now. Don’t have a cow. You know we agreed never to prank during a competition. Finnegan’s Studio likes to win fair and square.” Arleen gave a slight nudge of her head toward the back door. “The guys are out back having a smoke, and I thought I’d take the water with you instead,” she said, raising her paper cup in the air.
    Right. Smokes. That made sense. Arleen didn’t smoke. She was known for staying glued to a man’s arm the entire time, except when he smoked. I only knew that because I didn’t smoke either and often saw her when the room cleared. It was almost comical, really. People often smoked in the room, but somehow Queen Arleen had coaxed them into smoking outdoors. For the past five years, there hadn’t been a single smoke at one of these quarterly competitions. Like the Pied Piper, she had entranced them all into doing her bidding, and they did it happily. Not that I was complaining. I sure breathed easier since they had changed their smoking locations.
    I angled my cup to the attendant, and he refilled it and handed it back. “So, which one of you left the dead fish in our studio last week?”
    Arleen’s eyes sparkled. “Couldn’t say.”
    Despite myself, I laughed and shook my head. It was always the same between our studios. No one gave up the guilty. If we had lived in Chicago or New York City, our two studios might not have noticed one another. But in a small town such as Marlow, we couldn’t help but compete. Our rivaling studios were always trying to steal better dancers from one another, and, when that didn’t work, some other prank did.
    Arleen set her paper cup down and turned to me, sucking in a sharp breath. “Good luck out there.” We were both up for the waltz next.
    “You don’t have to pretend with me,” I said with a smirk.
    “Oh, I wasn’t pretending.” She leaned in. “When I beat you, I want to know I was beating you at your best.”
     I tipped my head back and laughed. “Darling, we’re about to sweep the floor with you and that lavender gown of yours.”
     Her trilling laughter followed after me as we parted ways, both to our respective corners and back to our partners. I had a competition to win.

2010; Marlow, Tennessee

     Mackenzie stared at me, mouth agape. Clearly, that wasn’t what she was expecting.
     Arleen grinned. “He’s only telling you his half of the story, don’t forget. I’m here to tell you the rest.”
     Mackenzie nodded her head numbly. “Well, let’s hear it.”

Dance With Me
Copyright © 2019 A.M. Heath
All rights reserved.

Dancer Friends

Dance 2 F

 

Will a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two find a partnership they never thought possible. 
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs. 

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

You can pre-order your copy from Amazon or add it to your Goodreads’ shelf. 

Posted in About the Book

Dance With Me: Companion Dance Videos to Accompany the Novel

I’m putting together a little something extra for the readers. This is not a spoiler. This post is meant to be a companion to my novel Dance With Me.
You can view these videos before, during, or after you read the book. I hope you enjoy! 

*Note: Ballroom dancing can, at times, be rather steamy. I worked to bring you videos that showed off the elements of the dance but stayed low on the “steam meter.” It was important to me that my readers feel comfortable reading or viewing anything that I post. While I could never promise that no one would be offended, I feel comfortable saying that you can view these videos with confidence. 

Dance 2 FWill a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two find a partnership they never thought possible. 
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs. 

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

Ballroom dancing in 1959 had looked a bit different. Just take a look at those dresses! There are a couple of places in the novel where Neil mentions Arleen’s poofy dress, and he would have been seeing something along these lines.

THE JIVE: 

The jive was something that I wanted to highlight because it’s iconic to the period. In reality, in terms of competitive ballroom dancing, the jive wasn’t included. Yet. But I felt that the book couldn’t be complete without it so I chose to include it.

The video above is a short crash-course into the jive. It explains the rock step (which is mentioned by name in the novel) and it highlights the various handholds. It’s 3.5 minutes well spent.

Below are two full routines for your viewing pleasure. The first one is to “Jailhouse Rock” and the second one features the “theme” song of the novel, “Great Balls of Fire.” 

 

THE WALTZ:

The waltz is probably the most recognizable dance, but I still want to share some videos with you.
Above is a short beginners’ look at the waltz. It showcases the iconic square circles.

And here is a full routine to enjoy. These two aren’t professionals but they did a great job and I loved the song since it’s on the Dance With Me playlist.

 

THE QUICKSTEP: 

 

The quickstep is probably one of my absolute favorites. It’s elegant similar to the waltz, but it’s fast paced like the jive. Before and during the 1950s, the quickstep was a simplistic dance. But there was one couple in particular who began to shake things up a bit and it would soon become the standard. Once again, I hit the fast forward button on history and allowed Neil and Arleen to dance the faster version even though it was just a tad early.

The chasse is mentioned in the novel by name so you’ll want to see the video above and the basic breakdown of the most iconic moves making up the quickstep.

And below I have a full routine for you. I hope you find a new favorite style of dance here and pick up on the elegance and fun that makes up the quickstep. 

 

THE TANGO: 

 

This is another dance that we often see used in movies, typically danced with two people who are at odds with one another.

Above you’ll find a slower breakdown of the dance. And below is a full routine. This one had inspired the lift featured in the book. 

 

THE PASO DOBLE:

 

This one is similar to the tango in that it appears to be a fight between the dancers. The dance is actually taking place between a bull and a bullfighter. In the novel, Neil and Arleen put their paso doble together by incorporating battling dance moves and loads of passion. And like the tango, the paso doble is known for its passion and high energy. I’m sharing two full-length examples. 

 

THE INSPIRATION: 

The moment I saw this video, I wanted to tell the story of a pair of dancers who were still dancing together in their golden years and still bringing people to their feet.

I was already writing the first draft of Dance With Me when 2018’s Winter Olympics started. But I was struck by the chemistry between Tessa and Scott. While I didn’t create Neil and Arleen with them in mind, the two certainly nailed the sort of chemistry I envisioned between my characters. 
Neil doesn’t favor Scott, but oddly enough Arleen favors Tessa a great deal. 

 

Dancer Hiding

You can read Neil and Arleen’s story on April 8, 2019. It will be available on Amazon in ebook and paperback and FREE on Kindle Unlimited. It is available for pre-order today. You can also add it to your Goodreads list. 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

47The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-
fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war. 

Peace appeals to Catherine, but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel’s life convince her he’s in mortal danger. Against her better judgment she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She’s risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?

What I Loved:  Green is one of those historical authors that I always look forward to reading and never regret picking up. Between Two Shores was a stunning novel. Green’s understanding of the history, setting, and the various cultures help the story to leap off the pages. She’s a very gifted historical author and I highly recommend her work if you haven’t picked up one of her novels yet.
I’m gonna be honest, this was not a fluffy story. Far from it, actually. But it’s the sort of story that causes the reader and the character to grow. Now, when I say this wasn’t fluffy, I don’t mean that it was graphic or outside the Christian bounds. I only mean that there was a plot twist that I found as painful as the character did. Readers don’t need to proceed with caution, but they should expect a heavy, yet beautiful, story when they pick this one up.

Rating and Recommendations: I recommend this one to Christian Historical fiction fans, those looking for a deep, challenging story, and for those wanting to delve into the British, Native American, or French conflicts in the 1700s. I’m giving it 5 stars.

~I received a copy from Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.