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Monday Musings…Connecting to the Characters

One thing that I’ve realized recently, is that it is so important as a reader to connect with the main character. If you don’t have that connection, it’s easy to skim and/or not care about the main characters. And that’s a tall order for authors because I, the reader, have my own life experiences, whereas the main character can be big or small, tall or short, young or old, sick or well, funny or serious, male or female, black or white, etc., and I’m just…me.

So how does an author connect his/her reader to his main character? Details. It’s all in the details. The better an author describes a person, the better you begin to understand their motivations and why they act the way they act…even if you don’t care for the way they act. It’s important to know that my main character hates starbucks and loves dunkin donuts. It’s important to know that the main character beat up the school bully when they were 12. Details, a person makes.

Complexity. A villain who is all bad is generic. That’s not to say that there are no all bad villains. But if he is going to be that way, than give him/her a quirk. Make them human. If it’s an evil fiance, well the hero proposed for a reason.

On the flipside, perfection is annoying. The main character must have a flaw, even if its as simple as eating a bowl of M&Ms every night. They must be more than the person on the pages of a book. You should feel like if they stepped off the pages and entered the real world you would recognize that person.

And so I ask you, what are some things that make you connect to a character or understand them?

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Laura Frantz’s The Mistress of Tall Acre

The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.


When I get my hands on a Laura Frantz novel I know two things: I’m going to learn something of historical value and there’s going to be a lovely romance. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Frantz, as always, delivers on the historical front. Rare is the author who can teach you about the 1770s without having you skim several chapters to get back to the story. The facts and lifestyles of this time is effortlessly interwoven in the characters lives and when I put the book down, I felt smarter. She made it so interesting, I read every word.

Sophie. I thought she was a completely relatable heroine. Almost from the first page, I cared about what Sophie cared about. She’s fairly alone in a time where it doesn’t pay to not have relatives and she doesn’t let this get her down. She gets by and trusts that God is good. It’s probably why I felt so invested in her romance.

The romance. General Ogilvy and Sophie have a romance that comes along slowly at first and then burns bright throughout. One of the best things about their romance was the mutual respect and admiration they had for each other. They trusted each other with their secrets and with their talents.*

Lily Cate. I don’t usually like children in books. Loved Lily Cate!

Drama. I beginning to think Ms. Frantz likes the drama. We’ve got lost diaries, secrets, mysteries, etc. Never a dull moment.

Spiritually, the novel deals with believing and trusting that God is faithful even though circumstances don’t look that way.

What I didn’t like:

*Secret. So there is one secret that Sophie doesn’t tell the General. Her lack of telling him actually does not impact the story, but it just felt so counter to her personality.

Miscommunication. This was another strange thing. Sophie and the General shared everything. And yet there was this odd form of miscommunication that kept them separate for some time. I just wanted to say ‘speak your mind!’

Romantic scale: 8.9

Overall, a wonderful book. Read it!

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

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What I’m Reading

This week and next week, I’ll be reading:

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she’ll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them–or the faith they’ll need to maintain hope.

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 are you reading?

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Monday Musings….Cover Love

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.

Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants. With writing that evokes a strong sense of place and personal history, Johnnie Alexander deftly explores the ties that bind us to home–and the irresistible forces that draw us to each other.

Life for Hyam is bittersweet. Admired by the citizens of Falmouth for his heroic rescue mission, he cherishes these peaceful days with Joelle by his side. Yet grief over the loss of his magical skills during the great Battle of Emporis threatens to engulf him. Sometimes he even wishes he had never known magic at all.

When Hyam comes into possession of an ancient Milantian scroll, he is thrilled to feel the surge of power that courses through him whenever he touches it. But what he discerns in the text could mean war. He embarks upon another journey to determine its true meaning and forestall any attack. But as Hyam is seeking answers, he is unaware that the merchant of Alyss is seeking him . . .

Julia Broeder is only six months shy of graduating from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania when one small decision spirals out of control and results in her expulsion. Hoping to travel the world as a missionary doctor, her only choice is to return back home…or throw herself upon the mercy of Ashton Carlyle.

Formal and straight-laced, Ashton Carlyle is not pleased to see an expelled Julia arrive at his Manhattan office. His position as a junior attorney for the Vandermark family’s world-famous shipping empire entails taking care of the Broeders, longtime employees of the Vandermark family. But Ashton has no intention now of using his employer’s resources in defense of Julia’s impulsive and reckless actions.

What Ashton did not expect was a scathing reprimand from none other than the Vandermark family patriarch or the bewildering resistance from Julia herself when he’s forced to change his tune. At an impasse, Ashton and Julia never anticipated the revelations that arise or the adventure that awaits them.

In this novella, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Camden introduces readers to the world of the grand Hudson River Valley estate Dierenpark and the enigmatic Vandermark family. Includes an extended preview of Until the Dawn, Camden’s full-length Dierenpark novel.

If there’s one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it’s a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow’s End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin’s wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He’s spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God’s sense of humor.

Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.

Don’t you just love new books?! Lots to look forward to!

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Staci Stallings’ Deep in the Heart

Just out of college and completely alone in the world, Maggie Montgomery has one shot left to save her life from an abyss of poverty and hopelessness. Clinging to the last shred of fuel and hope, she arrives at the mansion of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayer. Although Maggie is clearly not what Mr. Ayer and his wife have in mind for a nanny, they agree to hire her temporarily until they can find someone more appropriate to fill the position. However, Maggie’s whole world is about to be up-ended by two way-over-scheduled children and one incredibly handsome hired hand. As she struggles to fit into a world she was never made to fit in, Maggie wonders if she can ever learn to become a perfect version of herself so she can keep the job, or is she doomed to always be searching for a life she can never quite grasp?

Keith Ayer despises his life. As the son of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayer and the fiance to a Senator from Texas’ daughter, it looks great on the outside, but inside, he is dying. He would vastly prefer to manage and train his father’s racehorses. However, everyone else thinks that is beneath him. He needs to get into industry and build on his father’s success. Suffocating under the constrictions of his life, he meets Maggie who begins to teach him that wealth and power is not everything in this life. But can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart?


I will be honest and say the fact that this book had over 500 reviews made me download it. I was hesitant due to the cowboy nature of the book. Here’s my thoughts:

What I liked:

The premise. The poor nanny. The rich son. It never gets old.

The slow romance. Keith and Maggie become friends. I would have to say that this book is not plot driven, it’s character driven and I loved every minute of watching Keith and Maggie get to know each other.

There’s a bit of a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

Spiritually, Maggie prays and seeks the Lord throughout the book. I enjoyed watching Keith slowly get to know the Lord. I liked that Keith wasn’t so antagonist against the things of God even though he wasn’t saved.

What I didn’t like:

The book did get a slow towards the end and I skimmed a bit.

Money. Keith’s fiance is a bit one note in the sense that she comes across as having a love for money. And this is contrasted against Maggie who thinks shopping at Wal-Mart is like going to Disney World. When Maggie was asked what she would do if she had money, she essentially says give it all away and/or spend it on others. That’s nice. But I found myself more in line with the fiance. We both like nice things, we both chose careers for money and the prestige and namebrands are our friends. I just could not understand Maggie. I, personally, think you can serve others and still have a Kate Spade bag too. That poverty/martyr thinking that Maggie had made me roll my eyes  and I couldn’t relate to that at all.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, a very cute romance novel.

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What I’m Looking Forward To

A marriage of convenience.
She is in love with someone else.
He has no wish to love again.
What could possibly go wrong?
In the aftermath of the American Revolution a destitute young woman agrees to a marriage of convenience and becomes Mistress of Tall Acre. But when secrets from her husband’s past are revealed, loyalties and ties are torn asunder.
Another marriage of convenience (which I love). What do you think?
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Monday Musings…Cover Love

Owen Christiansen has been in a downward spiral since an injury ended his NHL career. But a job on an Alaskan crabbing boat offers a fresh start . . . maybe even a shot at romance with Elise “Scotty” McFlynn, the captain’s daughter.

Used to being one of the guys, to never relying on anyone, Scotty doesn’t believe in happily ever after―especially with someone like Owen. Her instinct is confirmed when Casper Christiansen arrives to drag his prodigal brother home, bringing with him a truckload of family drama―and even worse, the news that Casper is wanted for questioning in connection to a crime back in Minnesota.

But Owen is more than the sum of his mistakes, a truth both he and Scotty discover when she escorts both brothers to Deep Haven as part of her new job on the Anchorage police force. Thrust into an unfamiliar world of family, faith, and fresh starts, Scotty begins to see potential for a happy ending . . . if she’s brave enough to embrace it.

She only remembers loving him. But he can’t forget the way she left.

Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again.

In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.

After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.

Bestselling author and two-time Christy Award finalist Irene Hannon warms readers’ hearts as they root for a romance between Lance and Christy, but she pulls out all the stops as this high-stakes thriller chills to the bone in a race to the finish.

The god of the soil is furious. Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, earthquakes–everything points to his unhappiness. At least this is what the people of Armania in the Five Realms believe.

Amidst the unsettling state of the world around them, the princes of Armania live their lives focused more on who will claim the throne after their sickly father, King Echad, dies. That is until Prince Wilek’s concubine turns up dead–beside her, a bloodied message that seems to have come from the mother realms.

What are you excited for?

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Lisa Carter’s Beyond the Cherokee Trail

When Linden Birchfield arrives in the Snowbird Cherokee community to organize the 180th commemoration of the Trail of Tears, she runs head on—literally—into arrogant former army sniper Walker Crowe. A descendant of the Cherokee who evaded deportation by hiding in the rugged Snowbird Mountains, Walker believes no good can result from stirring up the animosity with the white Appalachian residents whose ancestors looted the tribal lands so long ago.

Though at odds over the commemoration, Linden and Walker must unite against an unseen threat to derail the festival. Together they face an enemy whose implacable hatred can be traced to the events of the Trail, a dark chapter in America’s westward expansion. When called to resurrect his sniper abilities, Walker must thwart the enemy who threatens the modern-day inhabitants of tiny Cartridge Cove—and targets the woman who has captured his heart.


Reading a book by Lisa Carter is always so refreshing and such a joy to read. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Diversity. As always, I love that Lisa Carter explores the culture of American Indians. And I particularly love that she hasn’t stayed with the same tribe in all her books. This time, it’s the Cherokee, particularly the Cherokee that was a part of the Trail of Tears. It’s heavy stuff at times, but when you see how much they overcame it is a wonder to look at. But, I just love the way she seamlessly interweaves Cherokee culture in this book.

The dual stories. Usually, I don’t like books with two stories and two romances because one can often feel a bit slighted. Not so here. Both stories were thoroughly engaging (though if I had to choose I really wanted to know what happened in the past) and neither romance felt slighted (though the one in the past went not quite how I would have liked). I loved every moment of both.

Walker. Lisa can write some awesome heroes. He had me from the first page.

Spiritually, the book deals with believing God in hard times; times that make you scratch your head and ask why. And you just have to face the past and move on or it will destroy you.

What I didn’t like:

Linden and Walker both have heavy pasts. But Walker is completely upfront with his and learning to move past it (and frankly, I thought his past was more traumatic then Linden’s). I didn’t like that Linden holds her past as a secret almost to the end and then acts like her pain trumps others. I mean, her past is painful, I just felt like she wore it almost like a badge of honor for too long.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I loved this book. I’ll read anything buy Lisa Carter.

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

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What I’m Looking Forward To…

Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him–one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.

Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?

What do you think? I love the idea of marrying a stranger….at least in a book!

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Monday Musings…Kindle Unlimited

For those of you who are Amazon-ites (buy your kindle reads from Amazon). You have probably heard of this thing called Kindle Unlimited (KU). What you do is pay $10 a month and then you can download and read any book in the Kindle Unlimited program.

I am a part of this program. I use it all the time. But there are a lot of books in the KU program which means there is a lot of stuff to comb through. So, how do you choose a book? You’re no longer wasting money, but no one wants to waste time. Here are my helpful tips:


Let’s face it, reviews matter. There is one author I just downloaded this weekend due to reviews. I had read her before and she was just okay to me. But this other book of hers has over 500 reviews! Definitely worth a second look! I almost always click on books with over 40-5 star reviews. Even if the cover is lame, if the reviews are high, the reviews trump the covers. To me, these books have been tried by more than the authors close friends and are certainly worth at least finding out what they’re about.


Covers sell books. If I come across a book with a stunning cover but little to no reviews, I will still check it out. In fact, the cover doesn’t need to be stunning, if I know that it’s a Christian novel, but it has like a rock star on it, then I’m curious. Because that’s not something I see done often.

3. Pick the opposite.

Occasionally, I will do a random stop check and just pull up a book I know would usually not be my kind of read. Does anyone watch Say Yes to the Dress? Well, I noticed a common theme is that when girls try on the dresses they swore they didn’t want, they ended up loving it. And so, sometimes, even though I see that clearly this is a book I would usually avoid, I will check it out anyway by downloading the sample chapter. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been happily surprised!

So. Those are my tips for people with lots of choices. Do you have any you want to share?