Monday, July 31, 2017

Introduing My New Book: Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington!

FLI Friday Harbor, WA

Have you ever been on a whale tour? The characters in my new novel take whale tours nearly every day! 

I'm so excited to share that the first book in my new series, Washington Island Romance, will release on September 1, 2017. You can pre-order the e-book version of Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington now. Very soon the pre-order link for the print copy will be available as well!

Here's some info:

Will keeping his promise lead to another broken heart—or help them find love again?

Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancé. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. She’ll have to face her past and overcome her concerns about the future to make it through the summer.

Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and accumulated debt. He’s hoping the incoming stodgy professor will help resurrect the failing business, but he’s not prepared when that professor turns out to be Mikaela, his former fiancée. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue her if she ever returned to the island single. The more time they spend together, the easier it is to keep that promise, though she still plans to leave at the end of the season. How much will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela?

I wrote this book because I love beaches and summertime reads, but this book will transport you to the beach any time of year. And if you've ever had to wait on God for answers or breakthroughs, if you've ever felt like: hoping for positive changes is hard, but what other option do you have? You've been a prisoner of hope, and this book is for you. 

Return to the stronghold,
You prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare
That I will restore double to you.
(Zech 9:12 NKJV) 

I developed the characters in this story to take readers deeper than a surface-level. I wanted both the setting and the Lord to be active characters. You'll smell the salty air, taste the rich fudge from the Granny's Fudge Shoppe, and hear the gulls cry overhead. You'll watch the orcas play in the strait and root for these characters to overcome their hardships, with the Lord's help. You may relate with my hero as God woos him, or my heroine who is afraid to ask God for His opinion because she may not like what He says. 

If this sounds good to you, click the pre-order link for the special intro price, or add this book to your wish list. Don't miss out. And if you enjoy the book, please leave a review on Amazon. 

Happy reading, friends!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn

Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn

What a delightful book! Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

He had not come all this way just to break another woman’s heart.

When Connor Larkin boards a late-night bus in downtown LA, he’s not sure where he’s going or what he’s looking for. Putting his acting career—and his fiancée —on hold, he’s searching for something he can’t define, a part of himself he lost on the road to success. Once he dreamed of being a singer in the classic style of Sinatra and Bennett. But his lean good looks soon landed him in movies as the sexy “bad guy”—and in the arms of a famous young heiress. Now, with his wedding day approaching, Connor finds himself stepping into the sleepy seaside town of Miramar Bay—where one remarkable woman inspires him to rethink all of his choices…

She needed to know his secrets, and to see if he’d tell her the truth.

Sylvie Cassick is nothing like the pretentious starlets back in Hollywood. The daughter of a nomadic painter, she’s had to work hard for everything—unlike Connor’s fiancée. When Connor hears familiar music drifting out of Sylvie’s restaurant, he feels as if he’s finally come home. Sylvie isn’t sure what to think when this impossibly handsome stranger applies for a waiter’s job. Yet once he serenades her customers—and slowly works his way into her heart—she realizes there’s more to him than he’s letting on. And Connor realizes he’s found his destiny. But as the outside world encroaches, threatening their fragile bond, Connor will have to risk losing everything to gain the life he longs for, and be the man Sylvie deserves.

And now, my review:

I heard about this book from a fellow Christian writer or reader (can’t recall) and knew I needed to give it a go. The dedication caught my eye, as it’s dedicated to Literary Agent Chip MacGregor, who is highly respected in Christian author circles. The cover captured me too. I love a good beachy read! Debbie Macomber’s endorsement on the cover sealed it for me. (I was a little skeptical of the publisher because they’re new to me.) 

The line that got me, after “It starts with taking a chance” from the cover was this line from the summary:  He had not come all this way just to break another woman’s heart.

This shows he cares. He's a man of integrity and is self-aware. Here was a hero I wanted to follow as he tries to find himself and open his sealed heart.

I so enjoyed this novel! It’s not often I get to read a romance written by a male author, so this was a treat. Davis gives us the perfect summertime read, full of just the right amount of conflict and quirky characters, a lovable hero, and a strong heroine. I loved this book start to finish. 

One of the themes was identity. Our hero is searching for himself and trying to reach another level in his career as an actor. He’ll need a heart awakening to make that happen. I enjoyed the fact he was musical and creative, and that he was trying to better himself. Our heroine is lonely and hard working. She’s grieving the loss of both her parents, for different reasons, and she thinks she’s fine. But when life kicks her hard one final time, she discovers she could use the support of both her honorary family (the community of Miramar Bay where she lives) and her real family. (another theme)

The setting is delightful. I read much of this book poolside, which I highly recommend. If you can’t find a pool, a back patio will do just fine. There is nothing better than reading a seasonal book during its season. That said, this book could be read year-round. 

Though the author is a Christian, the book is not a Christian novel, per se, and it is published by a house outside of the traditional CBA marketplace, but it’s a wholesome read. I have no qualms about recommending this book to all my Christian friends who prefer not to find objectionable language, sex, or violence in their fiction leisure reading. 

Highly recommended. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

I’m a fan of Denise’s work. Last year, two of her great books were turned into movies for Hallmark and I was one of the many who live-tweeted and jumped into the fun. 

Let’s begin with the summary for this book:

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

And now, my review:

This book is a tough one. The heroine has been through some horrific things, which she never told the hero during their broken marriage. When we meet him, he’s very unlikable, and he stays that way for much of the first half of the book.  

I have no doubt this book will minister to people who’ve been through something similar to the heroine, and I can understand why Francine Rivers gives the book such a glowing recommendation, given her topic in Redeeming Love. But this book was a very difficult read for me. (And no, I haven’t experienced what these characters have.) 

Though the cover doesn’t indicate it, much of the story takes place in a snowstorm. The writing kept me shivering the whole time, even though I read the book in May. 😊
I like how, as usual, Denise doesn’t sugarcoat her story elements. I respect that, and that’s why I believe this book will minister to people. And because I needed that HEA, I did read to the end, though I admit I skimmed some passages. 

Honestly, I felt this book was rushed in the version I read (ARC). That there wasn’t enough time taken with the likability element, especially for the hero, but even for the heroine. I didn’t expect them to be perfect; I like flawed characters—they’re more relatable. I’ll be watching for the next book in this series because I’m still a fan, even though this book wasn’t my favorite. I recommend readers check out Denise's author letter for more information about this story, and I recommend sensitive readers tread with caution.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman

Today I'm thrilled to share my review for Steven Curtis Chapman's autobiography. Have you read it? Check out the info below:

Let’s begin with the description:

For decades, Steven Curtis Chapman's music and message have brought hope and inspiration to millions around the world. Now, for the first time, Steven openly shares the experiences that have shaped him, his faith, and his music in a life that has included incredible highs and faith-shaking lows.

Readers will be captivated by this exclusive look into Steven's childhood and challenging family dynamic growing up, how that led to music and early days on the road, his wild ride to the top of the charts, his relationship with wife Mary Beth, and the growth of their family through births and adoptions. In addition to inside stories from his days of youth to his notable career, including the background to some of his best-loved songs, readers will walk with Steven down the devastating road of loss after the tragic death of five-year-old daughter Maria. And they'll experience his return to the stage after doubting he could ever sing again.

Poignant, gut-wrenchingly honest, yet always hopeful, Steven offers no sugary solutions to life's toughest questions. Yet out of the brokenness, he continues to trust God to one day fix what is unfixable in this life. This backstage look at the down-to-earth superstar they've come to love will touch fans' lives and fill their hearts with hope. Includes black-and-white photos throughout.

And now, my review:

My fiancé and I began hearing about SCC around the time we got engaged, perhaps just before. His song I Will Be Here inspired us so much we chose to use it in our wedding twenty-six years ago. (I’m sure many couples did the same—great commitment lyrics.) Later we were attending a young married couples’ home group with folks from our church and the leader played the intro of The Great Adventure to us because it inspired him as a musician. As singer-songwriters ourselves, my husband and I were inspired by his music, especially in those early years.

Fast-forward to spring, 2008. I was driving home from running errands when the Christian music radio station DJ shared the heart-breaking news about the Chapman’s dear daughter, Maria, and their son, Will. My heart broke! As a mother, I couldn’t imagine the anguish for everyone in their family. I prayed for them a lot after the death by accident of their daughter/sister. I’ve prayed for them over the years, especially as late May rolled around, because the timing stuck with me; their pain and journey stuck with me.

When I learned this book had come out earlier this year (Revell, March, 2017), I was curious about Steven’s perspective—about his life story and his account of that horrific day.

The book reads like a first-hand account, though author Ken Abraham did the actual writing. Humility and honesty take center stage throughout. You find yourself relating and moved. If you’re a musician, you can relate with some of his story. (He’s won something like 60 Dove Awards, so at some point the relatability becomes an exercise in imagination for the rest of us. 😉 Well done, SCC!) If you're a parent, you'll relate in other heartfelt ways. Readers get to know his precious family, and learn about their journey to adoption. (They adopted three daughters from China and now help others adopt children as well.)

I learned that SCC is a wordy type of guy, which makes sense of the book’s tiny font and the expansive page count, but I was still hooked throughout. Though it’s an emotional read, at times, it’s also a hopeful one. Anyone who has suffered a tragedy will see ribbons of truth in the fight to hold on to faith, the battle to keep one’s head above water when every force seems determined to drown you and those who’ve also been affected. I so appreciated Steven’s honesty. He and his family absolutely honor Maria and her life by sharing their story and portraying an overcoming attitude which leans on God, hope, and the love of family.

I hadn’t yet read his wife’s book, (Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman, also Revell, 2010), so I picked up a copy of her story too.  

If you’re looking for real-life accounts that bring honesty, with hope, add these books to your TBR pile.  

Highly recommended!