What I’m Looking Forward To

A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

I’ll be honest and say I generally avoid Biblical fiction like the plague, but this book sounds interesting. What are you looking forward to?

Monday Musings…What I’ve Been Doing This Summer

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately, things have been a little slow on the blog. I would like to say it’s because I’m doing this:

And I have to some degree, but also I’ve been getting a little bit more invested in my writing. As you know, Through the Waters came out in June, but In Deed and In Truth comes out sometime in December. I’m finishing some last minute touches there while also working on Through the Rivers (the second novel in the Tate family series) as well as my church’s Christmas play (who doesn’t love Christmas plays?).

So, I’ve been a little busy, which means that I haven’t been reading as many books as fast as I would like. But that’s just for this summer, because come this fall, I’ll be back on my A game with book reviews, author interviews, giveaways and more.

What have you been doing this summer?

Beth Vogt’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

Review

Beth Vogt is a relatively new contemporary romance voice that is out there. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The storm chasing element. Have you seen the movie Twister? Yes. I loved the whole suspense of the hurricane and trying to get from one place to the next, knowing this force of nature could take. you. out.

Second chances. Second chance romances, if done well, can be really good.

Spiritually, there’s this moment where Vanessa kind of pulls away from everything to seek God’s face about her life. In this moment, she faces God with all of her hurt and her pain and still comes to the realization that God is good. Good moment!

What I didn’t like:

Vanessa. Vanessa is supposed to be a closed off heroine…and there are reasons for that. But, at the end of the day, she was closed off from me the reader and I just didn’t connect to her that well.

The romance. Much of this book focused on Vanessa and Logan’s past. Which was understandable. However, very little of it focused on their present. I felt like they weren’t in that many scenes together, and so I was confused as to why they were getting married in the end. Yes, they knew each other eight years ago, but people change in eight years and none of that was addressed. Also, they got married so fast the second time, they were still dealing with the same issues that separated them the first time.

Romantic Scale: 6

Overall, it was an okay book. It was entertaining, but not necessarily my favorite book by this author.

**I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Monday Musings…Cover Love!

A Riveting Edwardian Series Set among Britain’s High Society

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough–not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when Rowena’s father tries to trap Brice into marrying his daughter, Brice makes a surprising decision.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to marry a notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

West Point History Comes Alive in this Warmhearted Romance

Trying to escape the shambles her con-man father has made of their reputation, Lucinda Curtis arrives in West Point, New York, determined to land a husband from the military academy. Campbell Conklin is first in his class and preparing to embark upon a storied career in the U.S. Army. Lucinda thinks Campbell will make the perfect husband . . . as long as he does not find out about her father.

Seth Westcott also has taken a liking to Lucinda. He’s kind, smart . . . and working extremely hard to graduate last. Tradition states that the worst cadets are assigned to the cavalry out west. And west is where Seth must head to track the swindler who stole all of Seth’s mother’s money. Seth is smart enough to vie for the top spot, but life isn’t fair and this is his chance to catch the man who ruined his family. It’s too bad Campbell is all shine and no substance, but Lucinda will surely see through all of that, won’t she?

Readers Await This Dramatic Conclusion
to the
Beacons of Hope Series

Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won’t be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can’t help but say she is in his debt. Little does she know that Percival will indeed keep track of all that she owes him.

Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she’s the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

Saddle Up for a Wildly Fun Ride
in Mary Connealy’s Latest

Bailey Wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the West. She’s been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with a woman–a very tough, very intriguing woman at that.

Gage is an honest man, but he didn’t make his fortune being weak. He won’t break the law, but he’ll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey’s homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land–and he’s got to go through Bailey to do it.

Spending a winter alone has a way of making a person crave some human contact. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan Gage concocts. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other’s respect–and maybe find love in
the process?

What catches your fancy?

Jody Hedlund’s Hearts Made Whole

1865
Windmill Point, Michigan

Can She Forgive the Hurting Man Who Costs Her the Role She Loves?

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation–the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he’s unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

Review

Jody Hedlund is a wonderful romance author. My thoughts:

What worked:

This book (like the other in the series) is about a couple that has to work together to take care of a lighthouse. If you are looking for a straightforward romance, that for the most part is light and fluffy than this is for you.

That is not to say that there aren’t any dark parts to this book. As a civil war veteran, Ryan is struggling to get through each day, there is someone in town is set out on destroying Caroline, Caroline has an annoying relative who is incredibly selfish. And yet, the novel still manages to convey lightheartedness.

I did like that even though I thought the entire book would be predictable at around the 70% mark I was very surprised. That is all.

I liked the spiritual theme (one of them) that God is there every minute, every second, but we just have to remember to turn to Him with our spiritual needs.

What didn’t work:

I believe the theme of this book (or at least one of them) is that God can use our weaknesses and we can grow for them. And so, Ryan having ‘weaknesses’ was almost fundamental to this book. The problem is though, that he was so needy and had so many problems that I had a hard time finding him desirable as a romantic partner. Personally, there was nothing about him that I would have wanted. I felt like in time, he would be wonderful, but for the purposes of this novel, I was confused as to why Caroline even wanted to be with Ryan. Yes, he had redeeming qualities, but to me he was on the level of a teenager…one day he would be great.

And therefore, the romance didn’t work for me. Caroline was so much more mature than Ryan. There were issues surrounding her life, but I always had the feeling that she could handle it. I was always felt like Ryan was going to fall to pieces at any moment.

On a different note, I did feel like the book was, to a degree predictable, and I found myself skimming a portion of it.

Romantic Scale: 7.5

Overall, this book was just okay for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t necessarily memorable. I think, to a certain degree, having a light house as a center point has kind of failed to draw me in. But this is just a personal preference.

**I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Tamera Alexander’s To Mend a Dream

Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home. So when new owner, Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney and former Union soldier, seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But the clock is ticking. Can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front. This time, one of the heart.
To Mend a Dream is one of four Southern love stories included in the collection entitled AMONG THE FAIR MAGNOLIAS which features Tamera’s novella (sold separately here), as well as novellas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser (Harper Collins).
Review
*Due to its size, I will review a bit differently*
I do realize that it is a bit strange that in a novella collection, I only purchased one novella. But that’s mainly because I buy anything Tamera Alexander writes and I didn’t want to have to read the other novellas if I didn’t want to (meh, it was silly, I should have got the whole collection). And also because I met Savannah Darby in To Win Her Favor. 
Honestly, this novella only suffered from the shortness of it. Otherwise, I loved every page of it. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t want it to end. In To Win Her Favor, I will be honest, I felt bad for Savannah. She really seemed to get the short end of the straw in everything. That said, it added an extra layer to the novella making it not feel as short. I really felt like I knew Savannah upon starting the novella, I knew her situation, her dreams, and what she was searching for and so it didn’t feel quite as short.
Also, I adored Aiden. I do wish I had more of him as well, but I  was so happy to see them get a happy ending.
So, don’t be like me and just pay for one. I do now wish I had purchased the others as well.

Monday Musings….Indie vs. Publishing Houses

Recently on social media, I came across two articles. One, which I have linked here, based on the article and the comments as a whole, essentially says that the CBA (christian fiction publishing market) is failing. At one time it was prosperous, but it no longer is. Many comments blamed the CBA for its failure to change with the times, its lack of reality, its cookie-cutter-ness, its unwillingness to take on different povs, and its marketing only to a specific older crowd (affirming beliefs as opposed to creating discussion).

And then there was a response, which you can read here. This response basically states that the CBA market is changing, but that’s not necessarily a reflection of the books that the publishing houses put out. Their books do change with the times and there is realistic fiction, but at its core the CBA provides Christian fiction and so sometimes they can’t take or promote certain works.

so where do I lean in this debate? As a writer, when I proposed to agents and publishing houses my ideas of writing historical romance novels from a black American’s pov, I was told there were too many issues there and that I should write contemporary romance. And that hurt. And that was frustrating. And so it did, in many ways make me think that the CBA market is really for white Americans because that is who it is geared to. That said, I have always found my identity in Christ first, and as a lover of all things romance, I simply cannot devour secular romance novels, and so I still read CBA romance novels.

Many commenters (is that a word?) from the first article claimed that they had given up on Christian fiction and no longer read traditionally published Christian books. As you know, this is not me. But, I have cut back a great deal on traditionally published Christian novels. There are, frankly, many of them that are boring as all get out and I find that their readership has a tendency to praise substandard books that would never make it in a traditional market out of desire to be kind and to excoriate books that take chances and may be a bit more edgy. But, there are many new authors that are absolutely amazing. And I have noticed that more books are taking greater risks.

It’s a kerfluffle for sure. I would never give up on the CBA market. I don’t know what I would have done without it growing up. But I will say that I have chosen to read a healthy mix of both indie and CBA.

So, where do you fall in this discussion?