Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Whom Shall I Fear by Anne Clare

Whom shall I fear graphic1943 

All that Sergeant James Milburn wants is to heal. Sent to finish his convalescence in a lonely village in the north of England, the friends he’s lost haunt his dreams. If he can only be declared fit for active service again, perhaps he can rejoin his surviving mates in the fight across Sicily and either protect them or die alongside them. 
All that Evie Worther wants is purpose. War has reduced her family to an elderly matriarch and Charles, her controlling cousin, both determined to keep her safely tucked away in their family home. If she can somehow balance her sense of obligation to family with her desperate need to be of use, perhaps she can discover how she fits into her tumultuous world. 
All that Charles Heatherington wants is his due. Since his brother’s death, he is positioned to be the family’s heir with only one step left to make his future secure. If only he can keep the family matriarch happy, he can finally start living the easy life he is certain he deserves. 
However, when James’s, Evie’s and Charles’s paths collide, a dark secret of the past is forced into the light, and everything that they have hoped and striven for is thrown into doubt. Weaving in historical detail from World War II in Britain, Italy and Egypt, WHOM SHALL I FEAR? follows their individual struggles with guilt and faith, love and family, and forces them to ask if the greatest threat they face is really from the enemy abroad. 

What I Loved: Whom Shall I Fear is a tender romance set in a true-to-history novel. The history is well researched. I loved all the details weaved into the story. Clare shares life on the homefront, as a nurse, and as a soldier. I think the soldier moments were my favorite. She did a marvelous job bringing the reader right to the battlefield without being overwhelming.
The novel is published as clean fiction but I think many Christian fiction readers will feel right at home. The characters lived out their Christian faith in a natural way and even quoted scripture throughout the book.
I have a soft spot for novels that contain letters, so I really enjoyed watching their relationship unfold through the letters they wrote one another.
Anne Clare is a debut author to keep your eyes on in the future!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Whom Shall I Fear 4.5 stars and I recommend it to those who enjoy clean/Christian WWII fiction.

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

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Posted in Book Reviews

Tales of Faith 3 Month Tour by Amanda Tero

Banner Three Month Tour

I’m thrilled to take part in this three-month tour! I have watched my little writing sister, Amanda Tero, toiling over this series for years now. It has been such a delight to see this idea grow from one book, to two, and then to three. In celebration of her upcoming release, Amanda is taking us on an extended tour and revisiting the entire series. 

Today, we’re featuring Befriending the Beast, book 1 of Tales of Faith. You can check out my review of the novella. There’s also a bonus interview in the old post!

Befriending the Beast Blurb

Keep reading for a sneak peek at the novella …

Birds whistled pleasantly around her, chasing each other through the various trees and bushes as if trying to convince Belle that somber life lived only inside of the castle. The gentle splashing of the fountain and distant sound of the horses from the stables joined in the harmony of the birds’ music; the songs of the castle grounds that Belle loved.

Today, the songs only served to bring Belle back. Back to a time when they were a happy family. When Mama had planned her rose garden, inviting Belle to select her favorite roses to embellish the plot. When deer had threatened the garden, Papa ordered walls to be built around it, creating what he called their secret garden. Many times, it was just Belle and Mama inside, leaving the world with its cares and sorrows shut out.

A burning desire for this serenity overtook Belle, and she rushed around the walls until she reached the gate. Vines wove in and out of the intricate ironwork, creating a shield that blocked Belle’s view of the flowers inside. She reached for the latch. A lock was rusted onto it. The garden had never been locked before. Pulling at the vines, she created a hole big enough to peek inside. Her heart, which had quickened in pace, now seemed to skip a beat. Only a few tall canes stood bravely amidst the tangle of weeds, the stems dropping with the remainders of flowers that had bloomed, dried up, and died. The paths and garden beds were hidden by brambles, nothing like the paradise she remembered.

Footsteps sounded behind Belle and she spun around, schooling her face to be calm. A stranger stood in front of her.

“You must be the gardener,” Belle guessed. It certainly was not Olli.

The older man before her gave a low bow. “Aye, your highness. Carpus, at your service.”

“Carpus.” Belle turned and fingered the lock. “Is there a key to this gate?”

A look of alarm crossed Carpus’ face then disappeared. “It has been locked since before I was here, your highness.”

“No one enters it?”

“Nay, your highness.”

BB sale

About the Tour

In anticipation of the release of “Protecting the Poor” (book three in the Tales of Faith series), Amanda is guest posting or being featured on over a dozen blogs each month. Each post is unique to the blog—an inspirational post, an article on the writing craft, an excerpt from one of the Tales of Faith books… you’ll just have to visit each blog to see what comes up. 😉 Amanda will link to each blog on With a Joyful Noise, so check in every week and see what blogs have a special Tales of Faith feature!

About Amanda

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:

Facebook
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Posted in Book Reviews

Cover Reveal: Haven of Rest by Faith Blum

Haven of Rest_Ebook

About the Book

Ignored by her father…

Adah was neglected by her abba and her brother. She must do something. All her previous plans have failed, but she won’t slip up this time. Since her abba is King David, author of many songs, what better way to gain his attention than pulling off a concert featuring twelve of his daughters?

As she plans, Adah’s discontentment grows. She throws herself into the work but worry edges into her heart anyway. Can Adah learn to rest in Adonai as her father? Will she learn contentment in all things?

Inspired by The 12 Dancing Princesses fairy tale

Coming July...

 

About the Author

Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She has independently published over 25 books in over five years. Most of her books are Christian Historical Fiction with an emphasis on Westerns. During an eBook sale, she was #1 in Christian Westerns and Christian Western Anthologies on Amazon. During that sale, she sold over 3,000 copies.

Faith currently resides in Central Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies, doing dishes, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

454From Christy Award-winning author Joanne Bischof comes the sequel to her beautiful novel Sons of Blackbird Mountain.
Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon–whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.
Having fled the Norgaard orchard after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade, where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s–which is already imperiled due to a grave illness brought to him at the first prick of warfare.
Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

My Thoughts: Everything that I loved about the first book was present in the second, making for a delightful sequel. Thor is still one of my favorite heroes. I found it interesting to see the way he and his family handles everyday life with his hearing loss. For me, it was the little details, such as one of the brothers stomping on the floor to get his attention through the vibration, that just made it all the more realistic.
Bischof does a wonderful job walking out redemption and grace through the youngest brother. I’m always a sucker for seeing the bad guy redeemed, so that was definitely a highlight of the story for me.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 4 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical Christian Fiction, fiction set in the Appalachian mountains, a great redemption story, or those looking for a story with a main character with a disability.

~ I received a copy from the publisher through Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

51JX3uhb9ZL._SY346_Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well. 
     Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

What I Loved: I have adored this entire series and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the final book. Barnett is well acquainted with National Parks and it shows in her writing. Not only was her setting vividly detailed, but she shares such knowledge about Yellowstone along the way. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was a new note in history for me.
There was a light mystery weaved into the story. I’m happy to say that regardless of what I thought I knew, I was surprised in the end.
Barnett marries a steady message of faith with a cast of lovable characters. Nate Webber was my favorite. But there were so many from the CCC who were colorful and unique.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Ever Faithful 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy historical Christian fiction or those who like nature settings.

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

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. 

RUMr0fEg

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.

fXRSvDmQ.jpeg

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

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 Book Reviews

Book Review: The White City: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crimes by Grace Hitchcock

452Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

My Thoughts: This was an interesting read. I did a little research on Holmes before reading the novel, and I really appreciated the various facts she was able to weave in. Because Hitchcock is dealing with a real figure in history during a specific time in history, I was curious to see how she’d tell her story while keeping with the historical timeline. And I think she did an excellent job here. I was impressed. The White City is a story that almost could have played out in real life.
Considering the extreme nature of the crimes, Hitchcock did an excellent job of simply nodding toward reality without shocking her audience at all.
But besides crime and mystery, you’ll find a sweet love story — a love triangle, actually! — and an authentic historic setting.

Rating and Recommendation: I give it 4 stars and recommend it to Christian Historical Suspense/Mystery fans.
~ I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.
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.