Review+Book Snippet: “Reclaimed” by Jennifer Rodewald ~ Blog Tour

Review+Book Snippet: “Reclaimed” by Jennifer Rodewald ~ Blog Tour

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Today I’m happy to be a part of the Singing Librarian Books tour for Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald, a contemporary Christian release from Rooted Publishing. Read on for my review, a snippet from the book, and GIVEAWAY + blog tour details.

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reclaimed-kindle-coverGenre:
 Christian, Contemporary
Publisher: Rooted Publishing
Publication date: February 28, 2017
Number of pages: 346

Left wounded by a marriage cut short, Suzanna Wilton leaves city life to take up residency in a tiny Nebraska town. Her introduction to her neighbor Paul Rustin is a disaster. Assuming he’s as underhanded as the other local cowboys she’s already met, Suzanna greets him with sharp hostility.

Though Paul is offended by Suzanna’s unfriendliness, he can’t stop thinking about her, which unsettles his peaceful life. A hard-fought friendship slowly kindles something more, but just as Paul’s kindness begins to melt Suzanna’s frozen heart, a conflict regarding her land escalates in town. Even in the warmth of Paul’s love, resentment keeps a cold grip on her fragile heart.
Will Suzanna ever find peace?
***2014 Olympia Winner***

GOODREADS | AMAZON

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Reclaimed  is the kind of story that settles into your heart after the final page. Engaging from the start, it is an amazing story of finding unfailing love, peace, and belonging that seriously had me laughing and crying multiple times.

Jennifer Rodewald has a beautiful writing style that is prose-like at times and to-the-point just when it needs to be. One paragraph could make me smile from the humor or an endearing nickname and the next paragraph could tear my heart out and bring deeper emotions to the forefront.

The hard-working yet relaxed pace of country life is painted as a perfect backdrop for the characters’ journeys, because this book is all about the characters. It centers on a painstakingly subtle transformation; a “reclaiming”, if you will, of heritage, faith, and dreams (with the addition of a sweet love story).

The main characters’ personalities are vibrant and endearing!

Suzanna is someone I just want to hug! She needs it. She starts off as a prickly, though always likable, person who is deeply hurting over some things from her past. She often reacts in anger toward others to stave off the pain or prevent further rejection. As her story slowly comes to light, she begins to change because of the encouragement and no-strings-attached friendships that grow from her new neighbors, Paul and his sister, Andrea.

Paul! He’s the quintessential country gentleman: a humble person who finds joy in his work and a man with integrity who loves his mama (and dad). Not to mention the humor and flirting he’s capable of ❤ …. But, he is not without his own flaws or difficulties. His current attitude is one resulting from growth, though, having dealt with his own struggles with pride to find peace and be settled with his home. I enjoyed the genuineness of his perspective.

These two emotional perspectives – Suzanna’s and Paul’s – are contrasted in a way that makes them even more understandable — one outlook of questioning, searching, and subsequent pain/anger and the other of a seasoned wisdom and hope. Paul really believes in Suzanna, something that no one has done for her in far too long. He exudes a kind and grace-filled spirit, understanding the need to slowly break through her walls.

The faith thread is never overstated, though central to the story. At the root of Suzanna’s problem is her disconnected idea of and relationship with God. When these encouraging personalities discover that this is the heart of Suzanna’s struggles, they understand it has to be addressed before healing can take place. And the way Paul — and his sister and a few other precious secondary characters — prove to be the hands and feet of Jesus in guiding Suz to Him plays out beautifully.

I really appreciated the way this entire story thoroughly points to the fact that only God can make one whole. That knowing Jesus is not the same as having religion. That the truth is as simple as a freely offered relationship with the Savior of the world. All of this is combined with the sweetest story of romance born of friendship to make this one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year. It’s my first novel by Jennifer, but it won’t be my last!

Thank you to Singing Librarian Books and the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy for the purpose of this tour. This is my honest review.

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jennifer-rodewald_4_origJennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.
Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.
She would love to hear from you! Please visit her at https://www.authorjenrodewald.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjenrodewald or email her at write2edify@gmail.com.
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Suzanna felt shock contort her face. Paul Rustin? The neighbor who had been kind to her even when she’d been horrible to him? She studied him, unable to picture him as anything other than the gentleman he’d shown himself to be.
Warmth shaded his complexion crimson. “See, not a very good story, right?”
“Why?”
“Why did I do those things?”
She pressed her lips together, wondering why she pushed him but nodded anyway.
“I don’t really know, Suz. I was just angry, and I’m not even sure why. I didn’t want to live here, I didn’t want to be nothin’, and I couldn’t see anything beyond myself. I didn’t have a real reason.”
“What happened?”
Paul’s eyes softened, and a smile crept over his features again. “I didn’t graduate from Rock Creek—I went to Boys Town in March of my senior year. My grandpa came to Omaha to visit me in April with a proposal. If I studied and got my GED, I could come out and live with them. I would have to work like a ranch hand, but they’d keep me on until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
“It wasn’t the out I was looking for. I didn’t want to come back to Rock Creek. I thought, man, give me some money and let me go find a life. But Boys Town wasn’t exactly Park Place, and it didn’t look like I’d be passing GO anytime soon, so I agreed.
“I must have thought it would be like visiting my grandparents when I was a kid. You know, farm breakfast at nine every morning, Grandma always ready with a cookie, and I’d collect eggs or do some trivial chore as a token of work.”
Paul chuckled and rubbed his neck. “Nope. My grandpa meant some w-o-r-k. I stayed in the bunkhouse, which was nothing more than a tin can trailer. If I wanted breakfast, I had to get up at six to eat with them because Grandma had things to do. They paid me what they would have paid a hand, and out of my earnings came the cost of rent, electricity, and food. When I slacked off that winter, my bunkhouse got awful cold because Grandpa didn’t pay me enough to cover both heat and food.”
Suzanna’s eyebrows rose. “Seriously? Your grandpa put you out in the cold?”
He laughed. “Tough love, Suz. I found out later they’d set a threshold on the thermostat of around fifty degrees so the pipes wouldn’t freeze, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But it felt awful cold. I hated it. And then… I didn’t.”
He stopped, and Suzanna puckered her eyebrows. His attention wandered toward his place south of hers, and she wondered if the scenes unfolded in his mind as he recounted them.
“It came time for calving, and Grandpa said it was my responsibility.” He rubbed a hand against his jeans, and the apples of his cheeks lifted. That look said it all—he loved his work. “I was so tired, but I knew he’d hold me responsible if something went sour. I wound up with a couple of bucket calves, and somewhere in between the late nights and early mornings while checking heifers and feeding orphans, I found myself. I found who God had made me to be, where I needed and wanted to be. It was right here the whole time.”
Bronco shifted under her, and Suzanna slipped a hand around the saddle horn. Fierce rebellion melted away while Paul fed a few cows?
“As simple as that?”
Paul’s gaze fell on her, his relaxed countenance contradicting his story. He looked toward the spring, then the trees, and finally to the hill rising before them.
“Not simple.” He returned his attention to her. “That’s the short version, but it wasn’t simple. I wrestled everyone, including God, for things I thought I wanted. There was a whole lot of humbling that had to happen before I made peace with life. Pride made me useless; selfishness made me difficult.”
His explanation created more questions than it offered answers. Suzanna longed for answers. His story, his life, looked nothing like hers, sounded nothing like hers, but he had peace.
Peace eluded her. She hadn’t found it in church, not the lasting kind. She hadn’t secured it in sacrifice. It wasn’t in love. Love had made her ache all over again.
Where had Paul found this peace?
“Shall we take the hill, Pickle?” Paul gathered his reins and nodded toward the rise.
The mare perked her head, and Bronco followed. Opportunity slipped away, like the waters that rose from the depths of the earth and tumbled down the creek. Suzanna swallowed, pushing a smile across her lips. At her nod, Paul took the lead.
Peace remained hidden with the secret of Rock Creek.
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April 17–Faithfully Bookish Fiction Aficionado
April 18–Book by Book | Paulette’s Papers
April 19–The Green Mockingbird Singing Librarian Books
April 20–Cafinated Read | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
April 21–Zerina Blossom’s Books | Remembrancy  | A Baker’s Perspective
April 22–Soulfully Romantic Reading Is My SuperPower

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“The Thorn Healer” by Pepper D. Basham ~ Tour, Review & Author’s Top 10 Favorites

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tth_1Series: Penned in Time book 3
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Romance, Christian
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Publication date: December 6, 2016
Number of pages: 327

Fiction, Historical, Romance, Christian

Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans. To Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of the treacherous internees.

August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he finds Hot Springs and the intriguing Jessica Ross a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs.

Will August’s tender pursuit bring Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a “true” enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

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Pepper D. BashamPepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. You can get to know Pepper on her website, Facebook, Instagram, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

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     Warning: only read this story if you are prepared to engage every emotion known to man because you become so invested in these characters’ hearts. Examples include tension, fear, joy, uncertainty, and brokenness that turns to healing, ALL of which are bound in exquisite hope. The hope found in acceptance, family, love, and most of all, the hope found in Christ.
     Jessica Ross has been an important, though secondary, part of 2 previous books in this series. With The Thorn Healer, her story is told fabulously. (note: this book can be read as a standalone!). She is instantly likable with her fun, feisty attitude and numerous scars just below the surface. She journeys through so much reminding her how much uncertainty one can face in life, AND how a sense of wholeness only comes through surrender to God. On top of that, she faces her own prejudices and understandable challenges when encountering August and his German countrymen in her hometown just after the catastrophes of WWI. And boy does she put up a fight facing down those issues! Talk about witty dialogue :).
     While we’re discussing August, let me just mention how he’s the perfect opposites-attract –and most unexpected — complimentary hero for Jessica. He catches her off guard with his honesty and strength of faith. As Jessica notes at one point, an apt description for him is a “quiet fighter” (ch 8). And the romance that eventually transpires between these two is “signature Pepper” with its spark, sweetness, and poignancy. As Pepper has said before, August’s character demonstrates wonderfully the unconditional love of Christ for His bride.
    14962639_10211125492113875_3513658439859111629_n This is a beautiful drama that explores much more than a romance or the aftermath of WWI. Instead, it delves deep into a story of faith, of the reminder that scars have little power over forgiveness, that God is the source of steadfast hope, and that fulfilling love is sometimes unexpected in its wholeness and form.
     There are so many facets I could further discuss about this story. Like the supporting characters and their humor, or the historically accurate (and fascinating!) setting and events that take place in small town Appalachia, or the glimpse of favorite characters from a previous story, or the beauty of the LETTERS exchanged between certain parties. Or even the hold-your-breath ending. But I will leave you with this plea: read this series from Pepper. You will be blessed by its stories of faith and love.
     My reviews of the previous books in this series: The Thorn Bearer and The Thorn Keeper.
Thank you to Vinspire Publishing and SLB for the complimentary review copy of this book. This is my honest review.

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1. Holiday – Christmas
2. Cookie – Preacher Cookies (aka chocolate/oatmeal no bakes) (Courtney’s note: I’ve not heard them called preacher cookies! I know them as wackies or sometimes boiled cookies)
3. Date option – Nice dinner and then the local bookstore…maybe ending with a stroll through the park or drive through the mountains
4. Tea – sweet, warm or cool
5. Vacation location – UK….EVERY time!
6. Animal – wolf, followed quickly by labs
7. Scripture – (One of my favorites) Ephesians 3:14-19
8. Chocolate – ALL, but I guess my favorite is dark
9. Restaurant – I really like Carrabas, but I’m open for a new favorite
10. Book genre – romance…all kinds

“The Sound of Silver” Birthday Blog Tour

Hello and welcome to The Sound of Silver birthday blog tour! Today’s celebration is all about Rachelle Rea Cobb’s second book in the Steadfast Love series, an inspirational historical romance set in 16th century Europe!The Sound of Silver

Rachelle is also the author of The Sound of Diamonds, the first book in the series, and a newlywed! This summer, she married a man with the same first name as the hero of the series! (And if you haven’t, take the time to read her real-life love story on her personal blog. It’s so sweet and encouraging!) I’m joining in this blog tour to tell you a little more about Silver and spread the news about Rachelle’s awesome giveaway—make sure you enter using the Rafflecopter form linked below to win the lovely necklace pictured and your choice of any of the Steadfast Love titles!

 

My reviews of the Steadfast Love series:

The Sound of Diamonds (with interview)

The Sound of Silver

The Sound of Emeralds

THE GIVEAWAY!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below to win a beautiful necklace created by Baubles, Beads, and Stuff and your choice of any one of Rachelle’s three books (the series begins in Book One, of course, but in case you have one or two of her books already, Rachelle will gladly send you the next one to read!).

International friends, the paperback & necklace giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive an e-book.

Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e8cfa9569/

ABOUT The Steadfast Love SERIES

In 16th-century Europe, the Reformation rages between Protestants and Catholics. Gwyneth, half-Dutch, flees from England to Holland to escape the man who murdered her parents. When he follows her there and insists he came to rescue her, will she trust this man called Dirk? When tragedy strikes, will their steadfast love erode?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachelle ReaTimes gone by snatch Rachelle Rea Cobb close, so she reads and writes about years long ago–her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. Rachelle wrote the Steadfast Love series during college. Five months after she graduated, she signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. She’s a homeschool grad, Oreo addict, and plots her novels while driving around her dream car, a pick-up truck. In June 2016, she married a man with the same name as her fictional hero, and they live happily ever after in Small Town, South.

AUTHOR LINKS

Websitehttp://RachelleReaCobb.com/

Facebookhttp://facebook.com/RachelleReaCobb

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelleReaCobb

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/RachelleReaCobb/

Instagram: @RachelleReaCobb

Amazon Author Pagehttp://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-Rea/e/B00RZHIL1Q

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8144149.Rachelle_Rea_Cobb

 

MORE ABOUT The Sound of Silver

The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One fights for faith, the other for honor…

Fire and RainAfter Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?

Find The Sound of Silver on…

Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/1HwJoi

Kindle: http://is.gd/EZ7DJ1

Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/qhoCTc

Books a Million: http://is.gd/M2y5P2

Goodreads: http://is.gd/iBE2lJ

Review: “Love Everlasting” by Julie Lessman ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

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Today I’m happy to be participating in the blog tour for Julie Lessman’s latest indie release, Love Everlasting, the second book in her contemporary “Isle of Hope” series. Read on for more about the book, Julie, my review, and an opportunity to enter the giveaway for an ecopy of book 1 or 2!

(Just a little note here: you can read this book as a standalone, for sure, but you would experience the story with more perspective and deeper emotional investment if you start with book 1, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love.)
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PictureSeries: Isle of Hope
Genre: Christian, Romance
Publisher: Julie Lessman, LLC
Publication date: September 30, 2016
Number of pages: 307

He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Now focused more on her faith and her fiction, she vows the next time she falls in love, it will be safely—through the pages of a book.

Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. Abandoned as a young child, Sam was an orphan shuffled through the foster-care system, bitterly driven to prove he is worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever. Once he learns Shannon is a romance writer, he enlists her help in winning back his ex-girlfriend. She teaches him about faith and the true definition of love, and he soon discovers he’s been seeking it in the wrong place all along—and with the wrong girl. But can he convince a woman who’s been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

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PictureJulie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.
Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie Lessman was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 17 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list.Julie’s most recent novel, Isle of Hope was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014. Her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets.
You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.
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Whew! Julie Lessman calls herself a caffeinated drama queen, and this book certainly reaffirms that fact with the characters’ habits of caffeine and my need for some after losing a little sleep for “just one more chapter”.
What begins as an engaging, sweet story of friendship with moments of romance grows into a story full of Scriptural truths, honest failures and pain, and a message of the hope we can only find through the love of Christ.
Sam and Shannon’s dynamic is somewhat predictable at first, with the shy good-girl and rebellious player thrown together in a new friendship. While their eventual mutual love might have been predicted from page one, the arduous journey each one of them travels to get to their happy ending comes with an unexpected grittiness. Shannon’s past is hinted at as holding her back from trusting herself to love again, and Sam’s lack of faith in God combined with his carefree lifestyle prove to be obstacles for both of them. With a realness and loving approach, Julie takes these two on a journey of faith influenced by the wisdom of family and close friends, showing them both what unconditional love looks like.
Also, we get to see our favorite returning families and spunky supporting characters again! I was happy to read a secondary plot and romance carried over from book 1 between Tess O’Bryen and Ben Carmichael. Their relationship continues to grow while facing its own hurdles to overcome (like trust).
This is another fantastic contemporary romance with so much depth and several swoony moments from Julie. I personally am already anxious for book 3, releasing in 2016, because I suspect it’s centered on two of my favorite secondary characters from this series (Cat and Chase!! 🙂 ).
Thank you to the publisher and Singing Librarian Books for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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Click here to enter the rafflecopter giveaway!

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Review & Behind-the-Scenes: “More Than a Promise” by Ruth Logan Herne

1218071_origToday is my stop on the Singing Librarian Books Tour for a recent release from Ruth Logan Herne, a new-to-me-author. Her new novel, More Than a Promise, can be classed as a realistic contemporary drama/romance about finding happiness in chaos, the hope in family, and long-sought healing through faith. Read on for my review, 10 awesome behind-the-scenes facts, and a giveaway!

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7274318Genre: Christian, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Number of pages: 292

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“My Three Sons”… Naughty sons, at that!… meets “Sarah, Plain and Tall” in this delightful marriage of convenience story that shows how amazingly inconvenient love… and life… can be!

Widower Matt Wilmot is in trouble. His boys are causing chaos and wreaking havoc, his former mother-in-law is threatening to sue for custody, his father just had heart surgery and their family company is liable for a huge balloon payment on a loan his father took out to expand the business the previous year. But rain and illness took their toll, and Matt is having a rough time spinning multiple plates in the air. 

But when he discovers Elle Drake next door, a woman with a wonderful hand at managing errant boys, cranky relatives, and frustrated men… Matt’s world suddenly tips back into a more normal orbit. And when drastic measures are required, it’s the girl next door who’s there to save the day.

Elle Drake wanted nothing more than to create beautiful pottery and have a family, but when her millionaire husband publicly dumped the renowned artist for another woman, Elle moves back to Cedar Mills to start anew, the spinster artist with her big potting shed. But when her to-die-for good-looking neighbor thinks marriage is a good idea, Elle figures he’s either crazy, desperate or right.

But a marriage of convenience can become its own conundrum, and when life takes sudden turns, can this marriage become all that they bargained for? And maybe more than a promise?

Purchasing Links:
AMAZON | B&N | CHRISTIANBOOK.COM

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First, let me just address the Wilmot children! They are a hoot. Ruth fabulously captures their vibrant – and contrasting – personalities. My favorite parts of this dynamic were the moments of sheer honesty from the kids, especially Randy, the notorious middle child and instigator. In his case, bluntness resulted in some hilarious and insightful conversations!

Elle and Matt, and the problems they face, and very relatable. Learning to trust God with full control over your life, for instance, is a daily surrender of yourself to His will and purpose. I was rooting for Elle as she learned to open herself up to love and realize a long-lost dream. And, I was rooting for Matt as he dealt with lingering grief, learned to share his burdens, and found joy again. By the end, I was elated with their journey I felt like I witnessed as a part of their crazy famly.

From the very beginning, this story drew me in with a combination of humor and heart. The realness of the characters, their resounding struggles and possibility of finding happiness and healing, were beautifully blended. If such heartfelt stories are the norm from Ruth, as I’ve heard, I’m eager to read more by her pen!

While you’re here, be sure to enter tie GIVEAWAY for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of More Than a Promise!

Special thanks to Singing Librarian Books for a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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392151Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, her family, her country, dogs, chocolate and coffee! A country gal with a heart for the big city, Ruthy likes nothing more than to write the kind of books she loves to read, and she’s even more happy that now she gets paid to do it! She’s been married for a Very Long Time and she and her husband Dave live on a small farm in upstate New York where lake effect snow buries them on a regular basis in winter. But that’s all right… it gives her more time to write!

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10 Facts from Ruth!

1. I have friends in the excavating business, and a comment they made once a long time ago, about how some folks figure they’ve got plenty of money, and put off paying them… so that became the reasoning behind the financial difficulties that raised up to trip up the company

2. Somewhere there are three boys who were the original three little boys who came into church SO RELUCTANTLY about six years ago, and inspired this book… and I hope they’re all well and happy!

3. The Polish aspects of Elle’s family were inspired by a wonderful wedding reception I attended years ago, where the ladies of St. Stanislaus’s Church did a Thanksgiving dinner, pass the plate at each table kind of meal, and it was marvelous! Wonderful turkey and stuffing, puddles of gravy and delicious cranberry sauce and homemade pickles. I love church dinners!

4. And at that same wedding, I made the wedding cake, drove it hours to the reception and a layer CRACKED…. Luckily I had made an extra layer (just in case!) and I took the broken layer out, slipped the extra layer in, frosted, decorated and used real red roses to give a “cascade” effect, and NO ONE KNEW A THING!!!!! Yes!

5. The three boys were actually based on two brothers and a sister I’ve had in daycare/after school care for years… Amos is based on Casey, when she was little, and my readers see Casey on my facebook page, on my blog, and in Yankee Belle Café because she’s my “mother’s helper” now and helps on the farm in the summer. And she’s ALMOST DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL so you can see that life has moved on since I wrote “More Than a Promise”, LOL!

6. Sarah, Plain and Tall is one of my favorite children’s stories, and I used that premise to write an adult version in “More Than a Promise”. If you’ve never read “Sarah, Plain and Tall”, you should… it’s just a wonderful marriage of convenience story set in the early 1900’s. I love it!

7. I love heroes that work with their hands… and guys with big equipment are as happy as little boys with Tonka Trucks until they break! And then they are GRUMPY. If you’re wondering about farmers, insert “tractor” for “backloader” or “grader” and you get the same result! And don’t talk to these men about weather!!!!! EEEK!

8. I love the church setting in Cedar Mills. The fun of older Catholic churches is how the church may reflect the ethnicity of the immigrants who came here with nothing, but pooled together to explore and expand their right to practice their faith freely. Neighborhoods were often defined by these beautiful churches and the congregations that flocked there weekly and daily.

9. I’m always amazed at how pockets of art can bring mass appeal. I wanted Elle’s work to be that way, based on a Thomas Kincade-type fame. Her longing and love came through her work and appealed to the masses, the “you and me” types. But there’s a downside to some of that because “true artistes” often find fault with commercial art, and abandon their friendships. Is it jealousy? Or disregard?

10. And finally… The spray-painted dog is a real thing. It happened a long time ago, and it wasn’t one of my kids (although it could have been!) and it took a long time for that dog’s fur to grow out. But… it did. Eventually!

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Click to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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April 11–cherylbbookblog | A Holland Reads
April 12–Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance | Reading Is My SuperPower
April 13–Buzzing About Books The Power of Words
April 14–Smiling Book Reviews | Singing Librarian Books
April 15–Katie’s Clean Book Collection | Colorimetry | The Green Mockingbird
April 16–Just Commonly Red Headed Book Lady

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Review: “A Twist of Faith” by Pepper Basham ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

Review: “A Twist of Faith” by Pepper Basham ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

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Welcome to my stop in the Singing Librarian Tour for Pepper Basham’s contemporary release, A Twist of Faith. Read on for my review & to enter the GIVEAWAY!

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7311818_origSeries: Mitchell’s Crossroads Series
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Publication Date: April 6, 2016
Number of pages: 308

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A witty, sweet romance with memorable, honest characters. Love does not have an accent … 

Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position. 

For one, Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she’d tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.

But when Reese discovers that he’s a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina’s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives? 

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Pepper D. Basham
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in April 2016.

6769499 Pepper has already achieved favorite-author status around here with her first two novels, both historical romances, set during WWI. (The Thorn Bearer and The Thorn Keeper). Well, with her debut in the contemporary genre, she does it again! A Twist of Faith is a fantastic “twist” on a My Fair Lady retelling, full of humor and heart.

I ❤ the little elements Pepper includes to make a story so rich! In this instance, it’s to-do lists, a theme of grace, vibrant secondary characters (my personal favorite being Mama Mitchell), and plenty of romantic spark!

“Ain’t” is not a word 🙂

Adelina, or Dee as she’s known to her friends, was the perfect combination of flawed, broken, and likable. I found her easy to empathize with, even when her assumptions were wrong. Reese was a timely friend with past heartaches of his own which had rooted him deeply in his faith. (Pepper includes a tiny bit of mystery here which kept me guessing as to just what he’d went through.) There is nothing quite as attractive as a man grounded in his relationship with Jesus. Combine that with his country charm, fatherly tenderness, and rugged charisma and you have a pretty perfect hero. It all might sound cliché, but Pepper presents these two in such a compelling manner you can’t help but root for them to find forgiveness, grace, and happiness together along the way.

Both points of view are written well, allowing the reader a glimpse into the personality and motivations of both Reese and Dee. My favorite view, though, was Reese’s! He was the one with THE accent — I could almost hear the Appalachian drawl of his thoughts.

Pepper’s passion for her “day job”, in speech pathology, shines through in a unique way in this story. Her character Dee shares her vocation and clearly, an eagerness to help others. This understanding and compassion in embodied in the Mitchell family, as well, and serves as a beacon to Dee in her search for peace.

It was a great experience watching Dee slowly start to realize the dream of her heart is something completely unexpected. And, instead of running from it, she tentatively embraced it — until the whole “My Fair Lady” parallel caused a few problems. Mostly, I loved Pepper’s simplicity in her message of Jesus. He’s the most essential remedy, the savior and friend who wants to meet you right where you are.

Thank you to Singing Librarian Books and Pepper Basham for a copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

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Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway of a print or ecopy.

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Join us for the A Twist of Faith Facebook Party.

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April 4–Reading Is My SuperPower
April 5–Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance
April 6–The Power of Words | Puddletown Reviews
April 7–The Green Mockingbird Smiling Book Reviews | By The Book
April 8–Wishful Endings | Katie’s Clean Book Collection Deal Sharing Aunt
April 9–Rachael’s Reads Singing Librarian Books

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Review & Interview: “The Thorn Keeper” by Pepper D. Basham ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

Review & Interview: “The Thorn Keeper” by Pepper D. Basham ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

The Thorn Keeper Tour BannerA few weeks ago, I was happily a part of the blog tour for Pepper Basham’s debut novel, The Thorn BearerIt was a fabulous book, and exhibits everything I love about the historical romance genre. I didn’t think the next novel in the series could compete with my attachment to it. I was wrong. The second book, The Thorn Keeper, is different and beautiful in so many ways. And it has overtaken book 1’s position on my favorites list. It just released on February 28th! Today, I’m thrilled to feature my review and an INTERVIEW with Pepper hosted through Singing Librarian Books.

About the BookThe Thorn KeeperGenre:  Fiction, Historical, Romance, Christian

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing

Publication Date: February 28, 2015

Number of pages: 402

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With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?
Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.

David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

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Review

Lately I’m prone to choose one adjective to describe a story. To borrow an adjective she used a couple times in this story, I must say Pepper’s writing is exquisite. She builds on a world of characters established in The Thorn Bearer and takes them forward in another story of forgiveness and growth. So many manifestations of redemption and grace intertwine in this story while never feeling overbearing. It’s a story of second chances while WWI rages on with tumultuous challenges and social conflicts.

This story goes beyond the power of grace (and God) to transform a person and continues to show the aftermath of forgiveness. I appreciated that Pepper doesn’t depict life through a rose-colored view — even after giving your life to God, surrendering your will to His is a daily commitment. Tough choices, hard trials, and struggles to understand God’s will are all depicted realistically and contrasted with the beauty and peace that can shine through it all.

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Pepper made this meme after I posted it as my Goodreads status while reading! 🙂

David and Catherine’s relationship becomes a beautiful example of what true love should be, in my opinion. Gentle, selfless, passionate, and protective. I could talk about how perfect they are for each other (and the sparks that fly between them! *swoon*) for another hour, but I don’t want to spoil the story! Just read it. Please.

Even secondary characters in this book, like Jessica and Fanny, have a voice or influence with the main characters and their own concepts to learn. I really love it when an author uses secondary characters like this. And I’m very excited that Jessica will be the main character of book 3!

I’ve compared Pepper to Julie Lessman before, and I want to reiterate that here with a different emphasis. With The Thorn Keeper, Pepper reminds me of her characters in the best way. Pepper writes spunky characters, deep emotion, and romantic scenes with amazing skill. So, if you’re a fan of Julie’s style, historical fiction, romances, emotional page-turners, or if you’re breathing and like to read, I would HIGHLY recommend Pepper’s books! They are, 2 for 2, #mustreads.

Thank you to Pepper and Vinspire Publishing for the review copy obtained through Singing Librarian Books for this tour.

Interview

What inspired you to write The Thorn Keeper?

Well, I suppose necessity brought about The Thorn Keeper because I’d signed on for a 3 book series with Vinspire -but the most interesting thing that happened from the process is that the ‘fallen’ character from The Thorn Bearer (book 1) who was NOT supposed to be ‘redeemed’ in the initial draft, became the redeemed heroine of book two. I was not expecting that, but I’m SOOOO glad I was initially wrong. This story is my favorite historical I’ve ever written.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with The Thorn Keeper?

God can take the most broken person and fashion something beautiful from the pieces of their hearts. In essence, nothing is impossible for God 🙂

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Meeting my deadline 😉

AND…. making sure my fashion research was right. There were so many wonderful tidbits I wanted to include but just didn’t have the time or space to do so.

Just for fun: Do you have any hobbies?

Well, since I work full-time outside the home as a speech-language pathologist, writing tends to be my hobby 🙂 But I also love spending time with my awesome kids, reading, playing music, and going on walks through the Blue Ridge Mountains near where I live.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

The early 20th century. I’m fascinated by the world of that time (plus indoor plumbing was in use in many places ;-). I love the costuming, the vast changes, and the beauty of the era. Of course, I’m romanticizing it, but still…I’d choose it 🙂

What are you currently reading?

A Spy’s Devotion by Melanie Dickerson. Fantastic regency novel.

Pepper, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! And I love that the story went somewhere unexpected — that’s just like God to show the power of his redemption, even through story.

About the Author

Pepper D. BashamPepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in spring 2016.

Website/blog: www.pepperdbasham.com

FB Author page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham
Twitter – https://twitter.com/pepperbasham
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13561411.Pepper_D_Basham
AmazonAuthor Page – http://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Basham/e/B00W0IZ1F4/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Giveaway

TWO ebook copies of The Thorn Keeper will be give away at the end of the tour! Click below to enter.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.

Tour Schedule

February 29–Singing Librarian Books
March 1–Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance | Smiling Book Reviews
March 2–Just Commonly 
March 3–Griperang’s Bookmarks
March 4–Red Headed Book Lady | The Green Mockingbird
March 5–Reading Is My SuperPower

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