Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Bloomer Girls Play The Owls and Suffragists Speeches Heard at Pavilion

“So sad. Almost a spinster.” Aunt Millie shook her head. “If we don’t do something soon, no man is going to want a woman that advanced in years.”

Author Lorna Seilstad delivers another wonderful novel for summer with A Great Catch (ISBN: 978-0-8007-3446-6, $14.00, May 2011). It’s 1901 in Lake Manawa, Iowa, a beautiful little lakeside resort in America’s heartland. Summer has arrived, along with all the seasonal activities at Lake Manawa: baseball, swimming, roller-skating, picnicking, strolling along the boardwalk, and listening to speeches by the suffragists.

Educating the women of Lake Manawa to their equal status as men and their voting rights, Emily Graham, a 22-year old suffragist tries to live her life independently and free from her meddling aunts who think she is bound for spinsterhood. They want to find a suitable husband among the resort guests for her. Emily prefers to decline their choices; she has neither the time nor the need for a man in her busy suffragist life.

Carter Stockton, a recent college graduate and pitcher for the Manawa Owls baseball team, intends to enjoy every minute of the summer at the resort before he is forced into the business world by his older brother.

When Emily crashes into Carter at a roller skating rink, life begins to change for both of them. Carter must choose what he enjoys most; Emily will have to decide what is most important to her.

A Great Catch takes you back to the turn of the century with endearing characters and incredible settings, all found in America’s heartland.

Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves and is a fresh voice in historical fiction with spirited and entertaining writing. She is a history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer. Seilstad draws her setting from her home state of Iowa. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.


For more information, visit

My Review - A Great Catch

A GREAT CATCH is full of great fun! Lorna Seilstad’s amusing story of a young suffragist and a local baseball player is humorous and historical.

Emily Graham is out to change the world. As president of the local woman’s suffragist club, she rallies for the right to vote and speaks out on the subject whenever the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately, Emily is also a bit of a klutz which gets her into some comical scrapes, especially with the good-looking Carter Stockton.

Carter Stockton has just graduated from college. Though his family’s banking business looms ahead of him, he can’t picture himself in suit and tie and behind a desk the rest of his life. So, he puts his all into the Manawa Owls, the local baseball team. As their star pitcher, he spends his time in the fun and the sun, much to the frustration of his brother who insists he needs to grow up.

When Emily and Carter literally collide at the local roller rink, sparks fly. Carter admires Emily’s spunk, though he thinks she needs to lighten up and enjoy life a little. And Emily can’t help but be drawn to the attractive Carter, even though there is no time in her life’s hectic schedule for a romantic endeavor. When Emily comes up with the idea of having a women’s baseball team come and play an exhibition game with the Owls–as a way to promote the great cause of empowering women–Carter and Emily continue to butt heads. When Emily discovers something underhand is happening at Carter’s family bank, concerning her grandmother’s money, it is no longer just her pride she must guard against but a broken heart as well.

I enjoyed A GREAT CATCH. The premise was fresh and the characters amusing. Though at times the added angst of Emily’s meddling aunts was frustrating, the side characters of Ducky, Lilly, Marguerite, and even the obnoxious Olivia, added colored to the story. Emily was an unpolished heroine with all her quirks and flaws, and Carter made for a great hero in that even when his heart was wounded, he refused to allow others to be disrespectful Emily. Though I didn’t read the first installment in the Lake Manawa Summers series, I thoroughly enjoyed the town that came to life in Lorna Seilstad’s writings.

Book provided for review purposes.

Available May 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Unbridled Hope (Book Three in the Lone Star Legends Series)

Whitaker House (July 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Loree Lough is a well-known, beloved Christian romance writer with nearly three million books in circulation. She's released 78 books, including one that's been optioned for a TV movie, 68 short stories, and over 2,500 articles. A tireless advocate of Christian fiction, she's recognized as a leader in the genre and spends time mentoring aspiring writers. She's also a sought-after speaker who encourages audiences with her comedic learned-the-hard-way lessons about writing and life. Loree and her husband Larry have four daughters and seven grandchildren. They split their time between Baltimore and their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. An avid advocate for endangered species, Loree supports The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania and other worthy causes close to her heart including The Wounded Warriors Project and The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Visit the author's website.


Callie Roberts' life is turned upside down when her parents, older brother, and fiancé are killed in a steamboat boiler explosion that leaves her younger brother deaf. Callie survives with a scar from cheek to chin that serves as a daily haunting reminder of the tragedy for which she's partly to blame. Hoping to put the past behind her, Callie moves to Eagle Pass, Texas, launches a successful business, and meets local rancher Micah Neville who is embroiled in a different kind of family drama. In an attempt to protect his cousin's honor, Micah returns from what he told others was a business trip to San Antonio, with a baby boy in tow. He handles the gossip just fine, especially when Callie volunteers to help -- and manages to capture his heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (July 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742271
ISBN-13: 978-1603742276


December 1887

On the Brazos River near Sweetwater, Texas

Raw, unrelenting wind whistled across the deck boards, scattering newspapers and rattling the cleats as the steamboat chugged toward its next major stop, Clear Fork. Callie cupped her elbows, wishing she’d thought to grab her shawl. She’d never liked weather like this, for it reminded her too much of the bitter Baltimore winter of ’85 that had nearly killed her mother and had prompted her father’s decision to move the family west. Ever since, Callie had begun every day with a prayer for her mother and ended by asking God to ease the ache of homesickness.

In time, the Lord had answered her first prayer, restoring her mother to robust health. The second He’d granted in the form of a young seminary graduate who’d been hired to entertain guests with the soothing sonatas of Beethoven and Bach. And, just as the sunshine dispels the nippy mists from the river, the music of Seth’s love had turned her longing for Maryland into a dim yet melodious memory.

Tonight, her beloved beau would give his final performance for the tycoons, high rollers, and politicians who gathered nightly in the grand salon. His final because, in twelve short hours, Callie’s father, a chaplain and owner of the Maybelline, would pronounce him and Callie man and wife.

Heart throbbing with hope and excitement, she hurried toward the jackstay, the secret meeting place where Seth had first confessed his love. Her fingers throbbed, too, from sewing fifty-two satin-covered buttons up the back of her full-skirted gown and from attaching a feathered headdress to her long, lacy veil. Callie smiled, knowing the discomfort would vanish the instant she saw Seth smiling at her from the makeshift altar where he would become her husband.

Sadly, the gown would not fit inside her valise. What a pity she wouldn’t be able to save her beautiful dress for the daughters she and Seth might have! She imagined a bright-eyed young woman with her papa’s dark eyes and her mama’s diminutive stature, walking down the center aisle toward her intended in the little church in Eagle Pass, Texas, where Seth’s dream of shepherding a flock of his own would come true, and he would eventually unite his own daughter with her soul mate.

Still, she took comfort in knowing that her hours of hard work had not been in vain. She said a little prayer for the senator’s wife, who’d agreed to pay a handsome sum for the gown and veil—and for Callie’s eternal silence. “Lord, help the poor woman keep secret the fact that her daughter will be married in a used—”

“Talking to yourself again?”

She stifled a tiny squeal. “Jonah Everett Roberts, you frightened me half to death!” How a boy of her brother’s height and weight managed to sneak up on her at least once a day, she’d never know. Raising one eyebrow, she rested a fist on her hip. “Say, what are you doing out here, anyway? Didn’t I hear Papa ask you to sweep out the saloon?”

He frowned. “I’m waiting for the green flash,” he said, taking a bite of an apple.

Not that again, she thought. “Well,” she said on a sigh, “if that’s the cause for the holdup, you’ll never get the job done, because the sun went down more than an hour ago.”

“Humpf. Leave it to little miss stick-in-the-mud to spoil the moment for a boy.”

“Boy, indeed. Papa says when he was sixteen, he worked as hard as any man on the family farm, and that his folks never had to remind him to do his chores.”

Jonah swallowed a mouthful of fruit. “Yeah, and he also says that if I’m patient, I’ll see the green flash, eventually.”

Callie couldn’t count the number of times she’d heard the same assurance. In fact, she’d heard so much about the elusive emerald flare, which was visible only under precise atmospheric conditions as the sun disappeared into the horizon, that she’d wished a time or two for the patience to believe in the phenomenon, herself.

But wishing wouldn’t get her any closer to the jackstay and her darling Seth. “Your tactic might work on Mama and Tim,” she said, giving his shoulder a playful shove, “but I see it for what it is: a ‘clever’ way to shirk your responsibility—”

A thunderous roar set the deck to quaking beneath their feet. Please, Lord, not the boilers! she thought as a second deafening blast threw her and Jonah to the floor. Instinct made her grab his collar and drag him under a heavy table, where she covered their heads with a tablecloth. Shards of glass and splinters of wood rained down as a third explosion rocked the steamer.

Choking smoke closed in around them as flecks of glowing ash floated down like fiery snowflakes. With its shallow keel and inch-thin hull, the Maybelline’s flimsy design assured swift river travel—and guaranteed that it would sink swiftly, too.

If that happened, it would be her fault.

If only she’d stoked the boilers like she was supposed to, instead of handing the job over to Tim! She’d seen the vacant “I don’t understand” stare in her older brother’s eyes enough times to recognize it for what it was, yet she’d ignored it to gain a few minutes more with Seth.

Callie scrambled forward with one objective: to make sure that Tim, her parents, and her beloved Seth had survived.

“Wait!” Jonah hollered.

“You’re safer right here,” she said, meeting his frightened eyes. “I know you’re scared, Jonah. I’m scared, too.” Using a corner of her apron, she dabbed at the blood dribbling from both of his ears. “But you need to stay here, before you’re hurt even worse.” She gave him a little shake. “If the steamer starts taking on water, I want you to make your way to the riverbank. Once you’re there, find the biggest tree and stay put. Do you understand?”

His confused expression mirrored the one that had long seemed frozen to Tim’s face. But their older brother had been slow from the day he was born, unlike Jonah, who could solve arithmetic problems without the aid of slate and chalk. She blamed Jonah’s expression on fear and scrambled to her feet. Why did both her brothers turn to her for comfort and support, when she was younger than both of them?

On the heels of a frustrated sigh, she scooted out from under the table. “Lord, watch over him,” she prayed as she raced along, darting between rivers of blue-orange fire that snaked and coiled across the deck and dodging the witch-finger flames that flared from each cabin window. When a fierce groan sounded from above, she crooked her elbow to protect her eyes and looked up. The breath caught in her throat when she saw the tallest of the three fat smokestacks teeter as it gave way to the gluttonous fire monster gnawing at its wooden moorings.

Callie barely gathered her wits in time to sidestep it. If only she’d thought to gather her skirts, too. The heel of her boot caught on a fold of muslin, slowing her escape by a mere fraction of a second. She was already falling when a grapefruit-sized lump of glowing coal slammed into her right temple.

“Sweet Jesus,” she prayed as dizziness overwhelmed her “Keep…them all…safe.”

For the second time in as many minutes, her prayer was interrupted, as she slipped into the dark unconscious.

Two years later~October 2, 1889

The Lazy N Ranch, Eagle Pass, Texas

The sweet-smelling envelope was addressed to “M. Neville.” At least, that’s what Micah had thought at first glance. But the message inside the envelope didn’t make a lick of sense. So, he studied the addressee a second time, and a third, before realizing that the fanciful M was, instead, a D. Guilt at reading his cousin’s mail was quickly overshadowed by concern at the nature of the message. Dan had already lived two lifetimes’ worth of misery in his twenty-eight years.

Micah shook his head and said a silent prayer for Dan, who’d shouldered a burden of self-blame ever since his twin sister had died tragically at the age of thirteen, even though nobody held him responsible. Guilt and remorse, along with the whiskey used to numb the emotional pain of his loss and the physical torment of a bum leg suffered in a stampede, had managed to turn the once shy, gentle boy into a man hell-bent on self-destruction and prone to angry brawls. About once a year, Dan had summoned the strength to shake his addiction, but, all too soon, self-loathing would lure him back to the bottle. Fourteen months into the latest stint of sobriety, Micah had begun to notice signs that made him fear things were about to take another ugly turn, but then, praise God, Levee O’Reilly had come to town as the new schoolteacher. She’d taught her students reading, writing, and arithmetic, all the while teaching Dan to value his own life.

The two had married, and their relationship seemed solid and strong. But now, something like this? Micah glared at the single sheet of scented ivory paper on which, with a few well-chosen words, the writer had implied a dozen sinister things, any one of which could start the dominos toppling in Dan’s life yet again.

Slumping onto the edge of his bed, Micah read the letter a fourth time. Maybe he’d underestimated his cousin’s ability to stand strong, even in the face of this woman’s spiteful threats. He had a lot more to live for now, though. Maybe this woman wanted to destroy him, once and for all.

Micah would not take that chance. For one thing, Dan had always been his favorite cousin—a statement in itself, since there were dozens in the Neville clan. For another, Dan had protected him more times than Micah could count. As a youngster, he’d been puny and timid and had spoken with a lisp, just the sort of stuff that invited the taunts of the bigger, older boys. But, without fail, Dan would always put a stop to it.

Eventually, Micah’s front teeth had grown together, eliminating the lisp, and his body had grown, too. At six feet three inches, and with two hundred and twenty pounds of raw muscle, Micah’s size alone would have discouraged any bully. But by the time the Neville men had embarked on the trail drive of ’86, Dan’s determination to defend Micah had become so ingrained that he hadn’t thought twice about maneuvering his horse between his cousin and a bevy of gun-blasting rustlers. Dan had laughed off the bullet in his shoulder in exactly the same way he’d laughed off every swollen knuckle, bloodied lip, and black eye endured to protect Micah. “You’ve done me a favor, cousin,” he’d said, gritting his teeth as Cookie dug out the slug, “because certain ladies like a man with scars!”

Had the author of this letter been one of those ladies?

Micah harrumphed. “A female, maybe, but I’d bet my horse she’s no lady.” Scooting closer to the night table, he turned up the lantern and leaned into the golden light to read those ominous closing lines yet again:

…at two o’clock on Friday afternoon, the fifteenth of October, I will be at the train station in San Antonio, Texas. If you choose not to meet me there, I shall have no alternative but to bring this very urgent matter to the attention of the authorities.

Most sincerely yours,

Pauline Eden Devereaux

“Urgent matter”? A dozen possible scenarios flashed in Micah’s brain, none of them good. Under ordinary circumstances, Dan wouldn’t squash a beetle under his boot, but there was nothing ordinary about the way his personality changed once a few pints of whiskey burned in his veins. If he was drinking when he ran into this woman….

Micah got to his feet and started pacing. He didn’t want to believe that Dan was guilty of any offense. The more likely story, he told himself, was that this Pauline character had gotten wind of how many acres made up the Lazy N Ranch and hoped to weasel a few hundred dollars in exchange for her silence about whatever matter she seemed to believe might interest the authorities. And, since the family never discussed their troubles beyond the closed door of Uncle Matthew’s office, she had no way of knowing how steeply their profits had dropped due to anthrax, weevils, droughts, and storms.

There was only one way to know for sure, and that was to take a trip to San Antonio to meet this femme flimflammer face-to-face. He didn’t know what excuse he’d cook up to put himself there, or how he’d squash her scam, but Micah knew this much: he intended to defend Dan for a change.

My Review - Unbridled Hope

UNBRIDLED HOPE follows the haunted life of Callie Roberts. Blaming herself for the steamboat explosion that took the life of her parents and older brother, her life’s mission is to devote herself to Jonah, her surviving brother, who was deafened in the horrible blast. Setting up a seamstress business in Eagle Pass, Callie is thankful for the life she can provide for her brother.

Micah Neville, is quite the protector himself. When he intercepts a letter for his cousin Dan–that is sure to lead to heartache– he decides it is up to him to protect Dan. When he comes back to Eagle Pass with an infant, the town is shocked. But, Micah is willing to put his reputation on the line in order to protect the possible indiscretion of his cousin.

When Callie offers to watch the infant, Reid, Micah is not only grateful but smitten. Callie falls in love with Reid and soon finds herself in love with Micah as well, but with both Micah and Callie holding onto secrets, they hide their love for each other, judging themselves unworthy of the others affection.

I have enjoyed the entire Lone Star Legends series from Loree Lough. Each story focused on one from the Neville clan. UNBRIDLED HOPE was a bit slow on the uptake but the story was quite unique. I get a little frustrated with books where the hero or heroine are so self-deprecating, that they feel they have no right to happiness. UNBRIDLED HOPE teetered on the edge for me, but in the end, it was worth that bit of frustration. The second half of the book picked up in speed and even if the ending was predictable, it was still satisfying.

Book provided for review purposes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Review - Diagnosis Death

DIAGNOSIS DEATH is the third book in the Prescription for Trouble series by Dr. Richard L. Mabry. While the first two books in the series are on my list of favorites, DIAGNOSIS DEATH will not be making the cut.

Dr. Elena Gardner is still mourning the death of her husband. Unfortunately, that is only one facet of the troubles she’s facing. Between threatening phone calls and mysterious deaths at the hospital under her watch, she feels as if her world is closing in on her. Deciding to leave it all behind, she takes a position as an associate with a practice out of town. When the threatening phone calls and another mysterious death follows her, she doesn’t know what to think or where to turn. Her support system is growing in Dainger, Texas, but with her reputation and her sanity on the line, Elena risks her safety to find those who are tormenting her.

DIAGNOSIS DEATH was on the disappointing side for me. The story was very slow in the beginning and difficult to get into. The last third finally picked up but some of the conclusions seemed a bit farfetched. A few characters from CODE BLUE, the first book in the series, reappear here. One of the characters I was really interested in from book one was Marcus Bell. And though he showed up in this book, he was shown very little attention. Again, DIAGNOSIS DEATH did not live up to its predecessors, but it was still an interesting read.

Local Detectives Close In On Serial Killer!

Just as Noah open his mouth to respond, the passenger window beside Kit ruptured, glass flew, and Noah yelled. Kit gasped, “Noah!” Kit felt something hit her arm then pain radiated upward toward her neck. “The shooter is on the roof, I’m going for that parking garage,” Noah gritted. “Noah? I think I’m gonna pass out.” Kit’s eyes shut and this time she couldn’t shove the blackness away.

A Killer Among Us (ISBN: 978-08007-3371-1, $14.99, May 2011) is the latest thriller in the Women of Justice series from author Lynette Eason. In the conclusion of this series, A Killer Among Us is full of the heart-stopping suspense and gritty realism that fans of television shows like NCIS or CSI enjoy. Eason brings to life the lives of a negotiator and a detective hunting down a killer in the streets of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Kit Kenyon is a first-rate hostage negotiator. Noah Lambert is a good detective with excellent instincts. The new partners have hardly had time to get used to each other when they are thrown into this grisly murder case. As evidence mounts and more victims are found, Kit and Noah realize they are on the hunt for a serial killer. The problem is he's hunting one of them...but which one?

The pace never slows in A Killer Among Us as the story offers up clever plot twists, and hint of romance. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as this page-turning suspense keeps readers up late trying to discover who the killer is--and whether Kit and Noah will live to tell about it.

Lynette Eason is the author of Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, and thirteen other romantic suspense novels. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.


For more information, visit

My Review - A Killer Among Us

I enjoyed A KILLER AMONG US, but it did not captivate me from the first page like the other two books in the Women of Justice series.

Kit Kenyon is a hostage negotiator who has been teamed with new partner, Noah Lambert. Though attracted to Noah from the start, she feels the need to prove to him she is as good of a cop as any, even if she is a woman.

Noah Lambert is taken with Kit’s keen abilities as a negotiator. The fact that she’s beautiful hasn’t escaped his notice either. But he knows a romance among the ranks, especially with your partner is a taboo and tries to control his feelings for her.

Kit and Noah are immediately in the thick of things when they realize they are hunting for a serial killer. When tables turn, and they are not the hunter but the hunted, they have little time to figure out who the killer is, but all the time they need to realize how deep their feelings for each other run.

A KILLER AMONG US had a slower start then the other two books in this series. I found myself waiting for the pace to pick-up. It wasn’t until after the first hundred pages, the story lived up to Eason’s reputation. I was slightly disappointed, but not enough to deter me from picking up the next novel from Lynette Eason.

Book provided for review purposes.

“Available May 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”