Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Review - Rescue Team



4 out of 5 stars
RESCUE TEAM by Candace Calvert is the second book in the Grace Medical series.  I didn’t think it had quite to wow factor of TRAUMA PLAN but still kept my interest until the end.

            Kate Callison is having a hard time assimilating to the staff at Grace Medical.  Becoming the next ER director is her goal, but the allegiance of the staff to the previous director is making her goal an uphill battle.  When a tragedy strikes the ER Kate has to deal with not only the investigation, but haunting memories from her past.  Though her path crosses with search and rescue volunteer, Wes Tanner on several occasions, she make it very clear to him she doesn’t need to be rescued.

            Wes Tanner lives and breathes SAR.  He is passionate about it because he has been on both the giving and receiving end of it.  After being thrown together with the new ER director of Grace Medical, he’s surprised to find her so irritable.  Especially in such a PR driven position.  But, regardless of first impressions, he feels there’s something more to Kate.

            When Kate and Wes take the time to get to know each other, new found respect and personal interest grows.  But they both are holding back the event in their lives that made them who they are today.  What Kate finds out about Wes is heartbreaking.  But, what Wes doesn’t know about Kate could quite possibly be a deal breaker in their budding relationship.

            RESCUE TEAM was a good read, and as always with books from Candace Calvert, the medical jargon and procedures were realistic and fascinating.  The character of Wes made for a great hero, but Kate’s detached personality took a little more time for me as the reader to warm up to.  Though RESCUE TEAM’s pacing was a bit slow, I still enjoyed it, and look forward to LIFE SUPPORT, book three in the Grace Medical series.

 

           

 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

My Review - Soul Survivor


I had the unique opportunity to read SOUL SURVIVOR while it was still in manuscript form.  And though end times storylines are not my genre of choice, I read it at the request of the author. While reading the manuscript, I remember being extremely impressed with the fast pace and intensity of the story.  Now that SOUL SURVIVOR has been released, I read it again to refresh my memory in order to give it a fair review.  And once again, I was blown away at how well the author maintained the momentum of the story throughout the entire book.  The way Mayhew’s incorporates Biblical prophecy and makes it feel so disconcertingly real keeps you turning page after page.  On more than one occasion I found myself wondering ‘what if’.  A great follow-up to DONOVAN’S LAW.

 

 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

My Review - TRAPPED by Irene Hannon


4.5 out of 5 stars
TRAPPED by Irene Hannon is the second installment in the Private Justice series.  And though it didn’t quite make my favorites list (where all of Hannon’s other books are) it was still an enjoyable read full of suspense and angst.

Laura Griffith is beside herself with worry when her sixteen-year-old sister takes off, leaving only a barebones note behind.  Though she and Darcy have had their problems, and becoming guardian of her half-sister has more than disrupted Laura’s simple lifestyle, having her gone is never what Laura wanted.  So she secures the help of private investigator, James (Dev) Devlin.  With her emotions on hyper drive, she finds Dev not only a thorough P.I., who works Darcy’s case with drive and determination, but she also sees him as a caring and attractive man.  But personal feelings must be put on hold so they can both stay objective and get to the bottom of Darcy’s vanishing act.

At first look, Laura’s case seems like a typical runaway scenario.  But, as Dev’s investigation continues he’s convinced Darcy couldn’t have fallen off the grid so easily without help.  It’s that help that concerns Dev most.  Knowing the exploitation of runaways is reaching epidemic proportions, he’s fighting the clock to find any evidence that would lead to Darcy’s whereabouts.  And, the more time he spends with Laura, the more he realizes his feelings for her have crossed over from client to something more personal.  Not wanting to break the rules of his P.I. firm, he tries to keep his feelings in check, but it’s getting harder with each new encounter with Laura.   

VANISHED picks up where TRAPPED left off.  Or should I say with the partners of Phoenix Inc. the P.I. firm that is the backdrop for the Private Justice series.  I love Irene’s books.  Her characters are always stellar and her plots creative.  I just felt VANISHED dragged a little.  There seemed to be some redundancy in a few of the chapters, kind of like the instructions on a shampoo bottle-Lather, rinse, repeat.  I don’t mean to sound derogatory, because again, I love Irene Hannon’s writing.  There just seemed to be a momentum shift that flat-lined towards the end.  But in true Hannon fashion, the final climax’s was page clenching. 

Overall, TRAPPED was very good, with just a slight hesitation towards the end.  I can’t wait for the release of book three in the series, DECEIVED, slated for the Summer of 2014.

Friday, December 06, 2013

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:

Bound to a Promise
Creative Enterprises Studio; 1ST edition (2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Real, relatable and refreshing are words often used to describe Bonnie L. Floyd. Perhaps it is because she could easily be a next door neighbor to any of us. Bound to a Promise is a true story of tragedy and redemption that unexpectedly resulted in the opportunity to share that story with others and ultimately, the birth of Bonnie Floyd Ministries.

For more than seventeen years, Bonnie has taken her contagious zeal for the Lord and her authentic love for people to various conferences, retreats and churches throughout the United States and beyond. Her powerful and dynamic messages bring the Scriptures alive to audiences of all ages and offer useful and practical ways to apply them to everyday living. For several years, Bonnie served in various capacities with Women of Faith and is currently an administrator for Barry & Sheila Walsh. More importantly, she has a deep love and respect for God's Word that is born out of her service as a teacher and small group leader for over 23 years.

Bonnie has been married to "her Donnie" since 1987. Both California natives, they now make their home in Celina, TX - a home which provides a perfect setting to delight children and to share Bonnie's passion for cooking by entertaining family and friends. They make their church home at Genesis Metro Church in Frisco, TX where Donnie serves as an elder and Bonnie, who was ordained a Minister of the Gospel in 2010, is an active member in women's ministries.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Bound to a Promise tells the amazing true story of God's faithfulness in the face of unimaginable loss. Bonnie Floyd's father and stepmother had been living a dream life-serving as caretakers of a private tropical island and traveling the world in a sailboat. That life was cut short when three young men boarded their yacht as it was anchored off the coast of Antigua. Determined that there should be "no witnesses" of their theft and brutality, the assailants shot all four people on board. Bound to a Promise includes the fascinating account of the Antiguan trial that brought her parents' killers to justice, featuring some dashing Scotland Yard detectives, a criminal in search of redemption, and many other memorable characters from the island. Bonnie's colorful descriptions of her parents' adventures abroad and her time in Antigua lighten the mood and add a touch of travelogue to the true crime drama. In a truly inspirational twist, Bonnie arranges a meeting with one of the confessed attackers, a man who would eventually claim her as family.


Product Details:
List Price: $22.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Creative Enterprises Studio; 1ST edition (2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098905215X
ISBN-13: 978-0989052153


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Prologue
February 1, 1994: It was six o’clock in the morning on what seemed a normal, cold, foggy day in Fresno, California. Then the phone rang. Donnie was already up and in the shower, so I sprang up in bed, cleared my throat, and answered the phone with my cheery, “Good morning!” as though I had been up for hours.
“Is this Mrs. Bonnie Clever-Floyd?”
I suddenly froze as a cold chill of fear crawled up my spine.
The voice on the other end of the phone was unfamiliar, his question strange, and it sent a shiver through me. For the first time in my thirty-three years, the last person I wanted to be was Bill Clever’s daughter.
“Mrs. Floyd, my name is Paul Howard, and I’m calling from the United States embassy in Antigua. I’m sorry, ma’am, but I need to ask you again, are you Bonnie Clever-Floyd?”
I stood motionless, still confused about why I was afraid to admit to this man who I was. I knew his question must pertain to my dad. Why else would he have been asking if I was Bonnie Clever-Floyd? I had never hyphenated my name, and as hard as it was to give up the name Clever, when I married Don Floyd, I became a Floyd through and through.
After a long pause, I firmly replied with a cracking voice, “No!”
By that time, I was sure Mr. Howard had discerned that the phone call was not going to go well. But then again, do those types of calls ever go well? “Mrs. Clever-Floyd, are you the daughter of William Norman Clever?”
He asked for the third time.
I simply could not reply. I was pacing the floor; dread had filled the room, fear had taken up residency, and confusion had consumed my mind. I heard Mr. Howard say, “Mrs. Floyd, Mrs. Floyd, are you still there?”
I knew I had to answer this Mr. Howard. I could not hang up and pre- tend the phone had never rung; it was far too late for that now.
“Yes, Mr. Howard, I am still here.”
With relief in his voice, he asked for the last time, “Mrs. Floyd, are you the daughter of William Norman Clever?”
After a long silence, I answered solemnly, “Yes, Mr. Howard, I am.”
So now the inevitable was about to be spoken. My life was about to change in ways no one in their wildest imaginations could have ever dreamed. But it was not a dream; it was a nightmare, and I was wide awake!




Chapter 1
Growing Up In Two Different Eras
As I stood paralyzed in time by the dread of what was coming next, highlights of my life that led to this terrifying moment played through my mind like a B-rated movie trailer in the old theater on a Saturday afternoon.
I grew up in Columbia, California, which is a historic state park in the Mother Lode Country. Columbia was founded during the gold rush days back in 1850 by a small party of prospectors who discovered the lode or main vein of gold in that region, the mother lode. News of their discovery spread, and a flood of miners soon joined them.
Unlike many settlements that have changed with the times, Columbia seems to be frozen in the 1800s. Growing up there was wonderful! How many kids get to grow up in two different eras at the same time?
Within the state park my family owned two popular saloons and the Columbia House restaurant, which was opened by my grandpop in 1958. Then in 1960 Dad took it over after moving to California from New Jersey with Mom and my two sisters, Susan and Linda. I came along in December of 1961, so unlike the rest of my family, I am a native Californian.
The Columbia House was a favorite place among the locals as well as visiting tourists. Everything on the menu was scrumptious, and all our recipes were originals and made from scratch. Dad’s navy bean soup actually made him a local celebrity—so much so that the townspeople called him “Billy Bean Soup.”
Dad began calling me “Bonnie Bean Soup” after himself, and eventually I became just “Bean.” I loved being called Bean better than Bonnie. Every time Dad called me Bean, I heard him say, “I love you.” Since it was my dad who nicknamed me Bean, it was the same honor to me as a son who is named after his father. After all, I secretly wished I had been born a boy so I could be even more like my daddy!
One of my favorite spots in town was the stagecoach. You could always find me at the counter selling tickets, riding shotgun with the driver or on horseback with the stagecoach bandit. Robbing those unsuspecting tourists was so much fun. It’s a good thing I had to wear a bandana over my face because I couldn’t keep myself from laughing.
I had a great life as a child, and I cherish my memories of those days. I would not trade one moment of my childhood. I felt secure in my parents’ love for me and for each other. But the climate soon began to change.
To think their fighting could possibly lead to a divorce was definitely not a place I wanted to go in my mind. I had seen too many of my friends go through that, and the end result was always the same—the parents hated each other, and my friends wound up spending every other weekend with their dads. I was determined that was not going to happen to this “daddy’s girl.”
Don’t get me wrong; I love my mom. She is a wonderful mother who was always about her family and found her fulfillment in just being Mom. There has never been a time when Mom was not there for my two sisters and me. My dad was adventurous, handsome, intelligent, and successful. He was determined to live life to the fullest, and unlike my mom, he didn’t seem content with just being a dad. He was eternally yearning, trying new things.
To keep himself content, Dad began accumulating businesses. He also started buying “toys,” such as boats and motorcycles. His first purchase was a ski boat, and then a twenty-four-foot pleasure boat he and Mom named the Bonnie Sue Lin. One thing was becoming apparent—Dad was never content for long. Soon the Bonnie Sue Lin was not enough. He had to go for something bigger.
The Sarsaparilla was a beautiful, thirty-six-foot Grand Banks yacht, and because it was an ocean-going vessel, Dad started making plans for the big trip he always talked about taking. His dream was to go out hundreds, even thousands of miles beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. And what he really wanted to do was stay out for a few months, instead of a few days. His plan was to sail the coast of California into Baja, Mexico, down and around the tip of Cabo San Lucas, and up to La Paz into the Sea of Cortez.
And that is exactly what we did.

Our Mexico trip was more wonderful than any of us could have imagined. Even my sister Linda, who was in the prime of her teens and not one bit happy about taking an extended vacation, had the time of her life. We grew close as a family in ways we had never experienced before. All we had was each other, and we found that each other was all we needed. Laughter always filled the sea life air. I believe one of the greatest things children can experience is watching their parents laugh together and love on each other. Within just a few short months after returning home, our close-knit family started unraveling. How I wish we could have just returned to the sea.

My Review - Bound to a Promise


BOUND TO A PROMISE is the amazing story of how Bonnie Floyd turned incredible personal loss into a story of forgiveness and redemption.

In one earth shattering phone call, Bonnie Floyd’s life was changed forever.  Finding out her parents were murdered while sailing the Caribbean, Bonnie is devastated and looking for answers.  What transpires is an amazing story of how God used this horrific tragedy for good in the lives of those who came in contact with Bonnie Floyd.  Bonnie became the feet of Jesus, bringing unearned forgiveness and the story of God’s love to the very people who took her parents’ lives. 

I was fascinated not only by Bonnie’s listening ear to the voice of God, but this book also served as a reminder to me to be thankful in all things, and to realize the small inconveniences or difficulties we all experience on a daily basis is nothing compare to the incredible loss and grief others are experiencing right alongside us.  Bonnie truly put faith into action, even when she didn’t feel like it. 

An incredible true story, autobiographical but with all the suspense and angst of a modern-day novel.

Book provided for review purposes. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Survivor by DiAnn Mills


THE SURVIVOR- part of the Houston Crime Scene series by DiAnn Mills- hits all the key elements I look for in a book.  I like to call this formula R.I.S.K.- Romance, Intrigue, Suspense, Kinetic Energy (constant action).
Kariss Walker has just completed a suspense novel based on a true story, and almost got herself killed in the process.  She promises those she loves she’ll be more careful next time.  Well, next time is here and trouble once again has found her.  Dr. Amy Garrett survived a gruesome attack as a child.  Now, twenty-three years later she wants to tell her story with a fiction novel and she’s asked Kariss to write it.  Kariss, of course is flattered, but somehow confused why Amy would want her story told in fiction rather that in a biography or some other genre.  From the get go, Kariss realizes someone doesn’t want Amy’s story told and once again finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer.  Instinctively, Kariss reaches out to FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris.  Even though she broke off their relationship months ago, he’s the only person she trusts when it comes to her and her family being in possible danger.  Her feelings for Tigo have never gone away, but she does her best to ignore them in light of what looks like insurmountable differences.
Tigo Harris wants Kairss back but refuses to embrace Kariss’s faith.  Not that he doesn’t believe in God, but in his line of work he has seen too many tragedies to have affections for a creator who would allow senseless acts of violence to happen to innocent people.  When he finds out Kariss’s life is once again in danger, he feels it validates his point.  As he does what he can to keep Kariss and Amy safe, similarities between what is happening with Kariss and his current investigation into a car bombing have these two cases intersecting.  Finding the common denominator is like finding a needle in a haystack.  But if Tigo doesn’t make the connection soon, Kariss will undoubtedly become the next victim.
I enjoyed THE SURVIVOR immensely just as I have the other DiAnn Mills’ books I have read.  But there were a few things I had issue with.  Dr. Amy Garrett is a professing Christian and a highly respected women’s counselor, but her tactics at times seemed a bit mechanical, self-centered, even deceptive, making her a less than likeable character.  Also, just like in THE CHASE- the first book in the serious- Kariss Walker is presented as an intelligent woman with great insight, but she continues to make questionable choices which inevitably puts her life in danger.  The romantic tension between Kariss and Tigo is there from the get go, but I would’ve preferred to seen more growth in this area.  But, since the cataloging of this book is Christian/Suspense not Romance/Suspense, I have to be satisfied with the little romance present. 
Overall, another top-notch story from DiAnn Mills I would recommend to anyone who likes fast-paced stories with plenty of twists and turns.

 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Review - Heart of the Country



SOON TO BE A MOVIE
 
HEART OF THE COUNTRY is a wonderful story of love, forgiveness, and second chances.

FAITH is running.  But then again, that’s what she’s always done.  After the death of her mother, she left North Caroline and her family behind for Julliard in New York City. Meeting Luke Carraday wasn’t chance, it was fate.  Though her life is nothing what she expected it to be, it is charmed none the less.  She and Luke are riding high until it all comes crashing down around them.

Luke Carraday was born into success and wealth, but it’s not all he wants it to be.  Working alongside his father and older brother he is merely a piece of the Carraday dynasty.  With his father and brother making all the important decisions, he feels he needs to branch out on his own, make his own way.  So, he leaves his father’s company to prove he is a success in his own right.  With Faith at his side, life couldn’t be better.  But then disaster strikes and he loses everything including Faith. 

Crushed by Luke’s deception, Faith turns to the only place she knows to go.  Home.  Though her father greets her warmly, her sister isn’t as amiable.  She knows she doesn’t deserve their forgiveness, but she tries as best she can to rebuild these fragile relationships while deciding if her marriage is worth saving. 

I absolutely loved HEART OF THE COUNTRY.  It was warm and heart-breaking all in one.  The best part about it was that I knew it was going to be made into a movie starring Gerald McRaney and Jana Kramer, so I had no problem envisioning these characters in all their turmoil and heartache.  The book was written in a unique way, with each chapter narrated by one of the main characters.  It really allowed the reader to be able to establish a relationship with each character and better understand what made them tick.  Each character was aware of their weaknesses and shortcomings.  They just were always sure how they could overcome them.  I can’t wait for the movie’s release on December 3rd.  I am going to pre-order it today!

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Review - Elusive Hope by MaryLu Tyndall


ELUSIVE HOPE takes you on an adventure through the jungles of Brazil where you will find hate, heartache, and hope.

Magnolia Scott has been dragged to the jungles of Brazil by her unloving, tyrannical father.  He blames her for the loss of their family fortune and expects her to make up for her imprudence by marrying into someone from Brazil’s upper crust.  Magnolia wants nothing more than to return to the South so she can find and marry her fiancĂ©.  Following after Hayden Gale on his jaunt to Rio seems to be her only recourse to get back to the states.  Though he is her least liked person in the new settlement, she’s willing to put up with his arrogant and rude behavior in order to get what she wants.  So she promises to pay him if he will see her safely onto a ship that will take her home.  The fact that she hasn’t the money she’s promised him is something she must keep from him at all costs.

Hayden Gale is a con man seeking revenge.  He blames his absentee father for the death of his mother and has come to Brazil to mete out his vengeance on him.  Hayden has cheated, swindled, and connive his way through life so he could obtain the information he has on his father.  In many ways, Hayden has turned out to be just like his father, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to see him dead.  When on his trip to Rio he finds himself saddled with the spoiled Magnolia, he decides to work it to his advantage.  He will take her to Rio, but his only intentions are to separate her from her money.

While on their jaunt to and from Rio, Magnolia and Hayden realize through all their hate and distrust of the other, they find themselves fighting attraction for one another.  Magnolia hates herself for being infatuated by the brutish Hayden, while Hayden can’t believe the woman with the smart mouth has somehow gotten under his skin.  They know an alliance between the two of them will never work, but their hearts are not so easily convinced.

ELUSIVE HOPE follows in true Marylu Tyndall fashion.  Adventure, romance, adversity, and always something sinister that pulls our hero and heroine apart.  Though ELUSIVE HOPE takes place on dry land, the story is anything but dry.  ELUSIVE HOPE is the second installment in the Escape to Paradise series.  And though it can stand alone, I would recommend reading FORSAKEN DREAMS first so you can get the full backstory and angst that goes into Magnolia and Hayden volatile relationship.

 

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Review - A Simple Christmas Wish

 
A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH is another delightful holiday read from Melody Carlson.
Rachel Milligan is looking forward to quality time with her niece, Holly, while her brother and sister-in-law are on a Caribbean holiday.  Though Christmas isn’t ever favorite holiday, Rachel enjoys some festive moments through the eyes of Holly.  When Rachel receives news that her brother and sister-in-law were in a fatal plane crash, she is shocked and devastated.  Thinking she is Holly’s only relative, Rachel assumes she will be Holly’s guardian and starts putting her life in order to assume that role. 
Rachel is shocked to learn that her sister-in-law did have family, and has left Holly’s care to her estranged sister who happens to be Amish.  With an ironclad will in place, Rachel has no choice but to accompany her niece to Amish country to turn Holly over to her new guardian.  Torn and confused, Rachel tries to help Holly embrace her new lifestyle.  While Holly loves the thought of living on a farm with cows, and horses, and other animals, she doesn’t quite understand why she has to give up her fancy clothes, favorite baby doll, or why her Aunt Rachel can’t live with her in this new place.  Lydia, Holly’s aunt, makes it obvious that she would prefer for Rachel to leave so she can train Holly in the Amish ways. But with Christmas and Holly’s birthday just around the corner, Lydia concedes and allows Rachel to stay through the holidays.  While there, Rachel finds that Benjamin−Lydia’s brother− is not only interested in helping Holly adjust to her new surroundings, but shows an interested in Rachel as well.  An interest Rachel is open to, even if it means having to become part of the Amish community.
You feel for Rachel as she struggles with what she must do.  She wants only the best for Holly, but never once thought that would be a life without her.  She weighs the pros and cons of the Amish lifestyle and wonders if Holly will be able to handle such a drastic change. 
A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH is sweet and warm.  I am not a fan of the Amish genre, but Carlson’s story is so unique, I found it entertaining as it pulled at my heartstrings.  The characters are well fleshed out, from the protectiveness of Rachel, to the severity of Lydia, to the warmth of Benjamin, and the wide-eyed wonder of Holly.  A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH is a great book to put you in a holiday mood.
Book provided for review purposes.
Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Review - Peril


AN OUTSTANDING SERIES!
PERIL, the third installment of the Bloodline Trilogy did not leave me wanting.  It was just as captivating and intriguing as PROOF and POISON.

Pediatric nurse, Morgan Adams does not want to go on with life.  She blames herself for the death of her infant daughter, and with her kidneys failing from a rare disease she feels her life is  sinking into a black hole with no escape.  How can she continue to show up to work where her daughter died and try to give life-saving care to other children?  Though her husband, Tyler, is encouraging and loving, Morgan doesn’t have the strength or the emotional stamina to go on.

When Morgan is taken hostage by a disillusioned soldier at her hospital, she sees it as a way out.  She can finally die without the guilt of suicide.  But when faced with the pain and grief her family will be left with, she questions if her absence will leave them better off.  When it’s her very family members that become the target of the mad gunman, she fights with all that she has to make sure they are safe.  But she is still left with the decision to save herself or not.

The entire trilogy series was AMAZING!  Fast-paced, intricate plotting, emotionally charged situations, characters you love and hate . . . the Bloodline Trilogy had it all.  The story line was fascinating, thought-provoking, and downright chilling.  Jordyn Redwood has definitely made a splash in the Christian suspense genre.  Each book in the series can stand alone, but each story had such great characters and plotlines, read them all if you can.  The series has definitely found it’s way onto my favorites list.

Book provided for review purposes.

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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:

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 27, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God's guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of women's fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.

Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

What happens when a New York City opera singer flees to a small town in Montana to escape a stalker? Tracy Fontaine is about to find out.

When an obsessive fan forces Tracy to change her name to Grace Addison and go into hiding, the last thing she wants is to get to know the locals. Now, not one but two men have worked their way into her daily routine, much to the chagrin of jealous local girl Sophia, who insists on prying into Grace’s past and stirring up deadly trouble.

Will Grace find love in Madison Falls…or will her stalker find her?

Madison Falls. Home of faith, love, peach pie…and a dollop of danger.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Series: Madison Falls
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 27, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1491056908
ISBN-13: 978-1491056905


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Warm air prickled the back of Grace’s neck. The porch creaked under her feet as she stole a glance over her shoulder at the dark street. Nothing.
“...excited to have you here ....”
The real estate agent’s lilting voice hummed in Grace’s ear. She turned, marveling not only at the whiteness of the agent’s slacks, but at the boldness of that fashion choice for a woman whose figure resembled that of a snowman.
“...cab ride even longer than your flight.”
Something pinged against the wooden planks. Grace jolted, dizzied by days of wakefulness. The agent dipped down gracefully as her plump fingers extended.
Just a dropped key.
“I know you’ll fall in love with this adorable house. The pictures on our website don’t do it justice.”
Her chipper tone set Grace’s tired nerves on edge. Why couldn’t the woman move a little faster? Casting a wary eye down the shadowy street, Grace eased the strap of her computer bag off the tense spot on her shoulder. Her over-worked adrenal glands pulsed as the agent—what was her name...Cookie? No. Spritz. Spritz Cole, that was it. As Spritz righted herself and lifted the rescued key toward the mahogany Craftsman door.
“Of course,” Spritz lobbed her an encouraging smile. “Most people want to actually see a house first before signing the papers. You must be anxious to start out fresh.”
“Yes.” Grace coerced a steady tone. “This place just felt right.”
An air of confidence spread over Spritz’s carefully made-up face. “You won’t be disappointed.” She clicked the key, and the deadbolt gave an obliging swoosh. Pushing the door open, she took a theatrical step back. “Welcome home.”
Grace’s heart made a thump that could have come from the score to a Hitchcock movie. She peered in. Her lungs filled with paint-infused air as she took a careful step across the doorsill and into the foyer.
She blinked away welling emotion, plunking her suitcase down on the polished wood floor of the vacant bungalow. Her chest ached as she perused the living room, which looked bigger than her entire studio apartment back home. Its white walls stared at her like a vast canvas.
“Well?” Spritz’s voice glistened with just enough gusto to instill consumer confidence without falling into phoniness.
Grace forced a step further into the house which now bore her name on the title—or rather her chosen name. She found it impossible to whip up much enthusiasm when all she really wanted was her life back. “It’s...adorable. Just like you said.”
The door ka-thunked shut, sending Grace’s heart into her throat.
Spritz let out a pleased breath. “You were smart to snap it up. Houses like this don’t come on the market very often. Why, folks in Madison Falls tend to stay put till they die.”
Grace shot her a fretful glance. Was she being funny or merely factual?
Apparently oblivious to Grace’s unease, Spritz breezed into the living room. “Let me just give you a quick tour.”
Exhaustion jabbed at Grace like a maestro’s baton. “No, you don’t have to—”
“You’ve come all this way,” Spritz cajoled. “I can’t just abandon you at the door. I don’t mind at all.”
Too weary to argue, Grace ran a jittery hand through her hair. Startled once again by the shortness of her cut, she flinched. “Alright then.”
As Spritz took center stage with a clearing of her throat, Grace backed up just enough to secure the deadbolt. She forced attentiveness, though frankly her only architectural concern was the structure’s ability to keep danger at bay.
Spritz stepped seamlessly into tour guide mode. “The key feature of this cozy room is of course the striking Craftsman brick fireplace.” She recited the painstakingly penned text of her own website.
Feeling like a reluctant audience to a friend’s baby-picture-slideshow, Grace swallowed her protest and stepped into the living room.
“...loads of light from this generous picture window.” Spritz pulled a cord, sending the front blinds clattering upward.
Grace shrank back, feeling the same vulnerability as she did whenever someone burst into her dressing room unannounced. The darkness outside chilled her. Why hadn’t she planned for a day-lit arrival?
“...cut glass...original to the house.” Spritz dropped the cord. Her arm extended toward the smaller windows above the built-in bookcases which flanked the fireplace.
Keeping a polite focus on her guide, Grace slid toward the picture window. She felt for the cold metal of the latch, breathing easier at its firmness. She gave the cord to the blinds a quick yank then twisted the wand to smooth the slats.
“...1920’s charm.” Spritz clasped her hands in front of her, clearly moved by her own narrative of the home’s features. A well-rehearsed pause, then a twirl toward the dining room.
Forcing her tired eyes to stay focused, Grace pulled shut the blinds on the smaller windows. 1920’s charm, indeed. Feigning cheerful interest, she crossed under the wide arch which separated this room from the next.
Spritz drew her arm with a flourish in the direction of a built-in china hutch. “This room is perfect for entertaining.”
Grace huffed at the suggestion that she would actually invite people over. Spritz’s eyes narrowed.
“I...I...” Grace stuttered, dismayed that fatigue had wiped out her ability to self-censor. “I just never had my own dining room before. I didn’t know I needed one.”
Spritz’s face lit like a make-up mirror. “Our neighborhood progressive dinner is coming up. I’ll be sure to add you to the circuit.”
Grace shivered, giving in to a long blink. Just what she needed. An invitation to the biggest event of the Mayberry social season.
Spritz swung open a double-hinged door, taking a calculated step through it as she spoke. “I just love the charm of this vintage style kitchen.”
Grace cast a polite look through the doorway. Vintage style? Was that real estate lingo for badly-in-need-of-an-update?
“Cute.” Too bad she couldn’t cook. All those years of dorm food and take-out had made that skill superfluous. At least she knew how to make coffee.
Thoughts of a comforting beverage warmed her momentarily, then vanished as her inaugural step into the kitchen almost sent her plummeting.
Spritz let out a yelp, catching her by the elbow. “Sweetie! Are you okay?”
Her heart racing, Grace clutched Spritz’s arm as her feet surfed for solid flooring. “I… I’m fine. Thanks.” She let go, testing the tiles using the care of a person treading through a minefield. One tile near the door had a definite trampoline-like quality. Funny that hadn’t made the web site’s list of fancy features.
Spritz gave the floor a healthy stomp with the heel of her Easy Spirit pump. “I really had no idea there was a problem here.” She patted Grace’s bicep. “Not to worry. We’ve got a wonderful handyman in town who’ll fix it for a song.”
Grace’s stomach fluttered. The last thing she needed was some strange man in her house expecting her to sing. “I’m sure I can take care of it myself.”
“Oh, a DIY girl, huh?” She looked impressed. “Why not let Sam handle this, and put your energy into the fun projects?”
With a decisive nod, Spritz stepped over the aberrant flooring to the rectangle of a hallway. Grace followed, anxious to finish the tour and get on with her plan. All she needed was to be left alone, to let down her guard at last, and fall into a deep sleep.
“Storage closet. Linen closet. Basement.” Spritz flung open each door in turn. “The floor is original to the house, but it’s been refinished. Let me show you the back bedroom.” She disappeared, rattling off facts as if her audience still needed convincing.
Grace’s body followed her eyes to the cracked-open bathroom door. A golden trail of light across the floor taunted her. Flashes of that last moment before her life had changed for good. She looked intently at the light—an eerie implication that someone else had recently been in the house. Be strong. What other choice did she have?
She reached out. A light touch to the crystal doorknob. Good grief, it’s only a bathroom. Wouldn’t be practical to avoid it indefinitely.
Shoving the heavy door with one hand while instinctively clenching the other, her own breath threatened to choke her.
The bathtub held a dead body.
No! Reflexively, her hands shielded her eyes. Then through parted fingers, she forced a second look. It was just a bathtub. Clean, white...and empty.
It had been more than two years now, but the image of the blood splattered porcelain still haunted her.
“Don’t you just love the claw foot tub?”
Grace sucked in a sharp breath, jolted by the perky voice from behind. She shook off the memory. Why couldn’t the place just have a shower, like her apartment?
“Let’s take a look at the front bedroom,” Spritz chirped with an air of unruffled confidence. She stepped into the room to her left, flicking a switch to illuminate it.
Grace followed, heavy with fatigue. She hovered in the doorway of the big white box that would be her bedroom, piqued by Spritz’s unnecessary perkiness.
Spritz beamed with professional pride. “The bedrooms are the same square footage, so it really depends on which view you prefer.”
Grace heaved an anxious sigh. She had already decided she’d sleep in this room. Best to keep track of the world out front—as if anything would happen in a town this size. Yawning, she lifted her wrist slightly, shocked at the hour—nearly eleven. One o’clock in the morning back home. Her eyelids felt like they had stage weights in them.
“Where’s my head?” Spritz crossed toward her, hands outstretched. “You flew all the way from Seattle, then had that long cab ride from Missoula. You must be dead on your feet.”
Grace’s stomach pitched at the ill-chosen words, but she coerced a smile. Spritz had shown such kindness without even knowing how much Grace had needed it. She allowed the realtor to enclose both her hands in a solid, warm grasp.
“I’ll see myself out.” Spritz gave Grace’s hands an extra squeeze. “You just call if you need anything.” She turned for the door, speaking over her shoulder as she walked. “Or stop by my office. It’s on Main, right across from the park. You can’t miss it.”
Grace chuckled to herself. As if finding anything in this town would require the use of MapQuest.
Grateful for her long-awaited solitude, she bolted the door after Spritz’s exit and lowered the blinds over its small cut glass pane. Talk about impractical. Why would anyone want a window in their front door?
Looking around the quiet house, she surrendered to a welcome yawn. She hadn’t been this tired in a very long time. All she needed was a refreshing night’s sleep to plan her next step for surviving this ordeal.
She dragged her feet back to the bedroom and stopped. Looking down at the hard wood of the floor, she let out a throaty moan. Where had her head been? She had always prided herself on her ability to think things through down to the minutest detail. How could she have neglected to arrange for a bed?
She sat down with a thud and buried her face in her hands, not knowing if she would burst out in laughter or sobs.
“Good grief, Grace Addison.” A quiet laugh escorted her words. “Or whatever your name is. Get your act together, would you?”

My Review - Saving Grace


SAVING GRACE wasn’t flawless, but it was entertaining.

Tracy/Grace flees New York to escape a stalker.  Leaving her burgeoning opera career behind, she decides to lay low in Madison Falls, Montana until she can figure out what she’s going to do.  Her skittish behavior and lack of trust puts her on the outs with local handyman, Sam.  But suave businessman, Devon, seems to have worked his way under her radar.  Not knowing what to do with herself, Grace is drawn to the local theatre where she gets a part time job.  Trying to fit in, she begrudgingly makes friends with the locals, and soon finds herself swept up by small town life.  No sooner does Grace feel as if things are going her way, her world once again is completely turned upside down. 

I enjoyed SAVING GRACE, I just felt at times Grace wasn’t always likable.  Her skittish, over reactive ways made sense after all she’d been through.  And a person not use to watching her every move is going to make what looks like obvious mistakes.  But her personality just didn’t always lean towards likeability.  I feel someone who was as terrified as she should’ve been would’ve been a little more humble.  When fearing for your life, your number one goal is staying alive, not feeling as if you are above a certain job.  And the difference between the way she treated Sam and Devon seemed a bit unbalanced.  Other than that, SAVING GRACE had all the ingredients for a suspense filled, romance.

Book provided for review purposes.

 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

My Review - Singularity by Steven James


SINGULARITY by Steven James is an intense read, not for the faint of heart.  The second, much anticipated book in the Jevin Banks Series, SINGULARITY was definitely worth the wait.

Picking up where PLACEBO left off, Jevin Banks once more finds himself up against forces even bigger than he could imagine.  When an illusion gone wrong turns out to be murder, Jevin is determined to find out who wanted his friend dead and why.  Each new piece of information Jevin unearths, unleashes even more questions asking why and who.  Top secret testing, Area 51, government connections, military involvement, Mexican drug cartels, and the seedy backstreets of Las Vegas are just some of the threads Jevin must weave together in order to find out what kind of testing is going on, and why so many people are after it. 

I can’t even begin to describe some of the mind-bending scenarios and situations Jevin and his cohorts get themselves into.  Jevin, Charlene, Xavier, and Fionna work seamlessly as a team to find out the truth.  I enjoyed seeing the bonds grow stronger between this foursome.  Without question you know they would do anything for each other.  Of course, being a woman, I would’ve liked to see Jevin and Charlene’s relationship develop at a quicker rate, but knowing he is still struggling with the loss of his wife and children is reason enough for Mr. James to take the slow, methodical approach.

SINGULARITY is an incredibly mind-stretching novel that’s not only entertaining, but thought provoking as well.  You can’t help but wonder about the advancements of research going on today, and where it is scientist hope to one day land with their discoveries.  It’s chilling to imagine.

Available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Book provided for review purposes.
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:

Astraea Press (July 29, 2013)

***Special thanks to Heather Gray for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Will she be able to save him from himself?

Grace finds herself wed to a man who loathes her. She is shunned and exiled to the farthest corner of the land. It wouldn't hurt so much if he hadn't once been her best friend.

Thomas became a duke long before he was ready. Now he can't go anywhere without women trying to entrap him into marriage. He expected better from his childhood friend.

How can friendship, let alone marriage, thrive in the face of bitterness, suspicion, and misunderstanding?

What's to be done when the hurtful choices made in anger have lasting consequences?

It takes a special kind of person to see past the pain to the beauty that lies beyond…



Product Details:
List Price: $.99
File Size: 349 KB
Print Length: 113 pages
Publisher: Astraea Press (July 29, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00E891FV2


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

March 1815

Stafford Shire, England



Try as she might, Grace couldn't stop the tears flowing down her cheeks. She was hiding in her father's library, hoping no one would be bold enough to seek her out. Her parents were hosting a house party, and the guests were everywhere. Each person, it seemed, wanted to know everybody else's business.

When she heard the door behind her issue a soft squeak, she knew she'd been found. She kept her back to the door, not wanting the person to see how distressed she was. "Gracie, may I come in?"

It was Thomas! Though they hadn't seen each other much in recent years, he was a childhood friend and, the way she saw it, her one true friend here at this gathering. "As long as you close the door and let no one else enter," she said hoarsely.

She heard the door click again, followed by Thomas's movement through the room. He was soon leaning against her father's desk right beside her, his familiar tall frame, shortly clipped brown hair, and intelligent blue eyes a familiar comfort to her.

"What's wrong? Surely Lady Appleton's ghastly morning gown isn’t enough to bring on tears. Temporary blindness, yes, but not tears."

Grace couldn't help the small chuckle that bubbled up and out of her. Thomas had always known just what to say, no matter her mood. Her father, the Earl of Miltmouth, and Thomas's father had been the best of friends. Thomas and Grace had naturally grown up together. She had seen less of Thomas after his father had passed away and he'd had to take over the running of the estates, but they had managed to remain friends.

"I asked Father if I could have a season in London," she said woefully. Grace, wrapping her arms around her midsection, felt nauseated.

"Ah, I take it he said no. Surely he'll bring you to London for a season soon. I assume he'll want you to marry well." When Grace said nothing in return, Thomas asked, "Am I mistaken?"

"You should have heard the awful things he said to me!" Thomas handed a kerchief to Grace, who wiped at the tears she still couldn't quite get under control. "He told me I'll never find a suitable husband. My mouth is too big, and my smile is too wide. I'm too skinny, and my bosom is too flat. No man will ever want to marry me, and going through the pretense of a season in London will be nothing but a costly embarrassment to the family."

Repeating all the terrible things her father had said to her made Grace cry even harder. Feelings of rejection and disbelief swirled through her. Her father, while at times eccentric, had never before said anything so cruel to her. The kerchief, now sodden, did little good.

That was when she felt Thomas's arms wrap around her in a hug. "It'll work out, Gracie. I don't know why your father would have said such things to you, but you can't let his words get you down. They're not even true. You have a perfectly sized mouth, a delightful smile, and… well, I'm sure everything else is fine, too."

Grace soaked in Thomas's warmth. She sighed into his waistcoat and said, "I appreciate the kind words, Thomas, but you shouldn't be in here alone with me. We both know that."

Thomas, his voice light, said, "It was in here with you or out there with the barracudas. I think I'm safer right where I am."

Grace didn't pull out of his comforting hug as she knew she ought to. Instead she said, "I've spent my whole life in Stafford Shire and have never even been to London before. All I'm asking for is one season. If I wait much longer, I'll be completely on the shelf, and no decent man will even consider marrying me. My father has doomed me to the life of being some man's courtesan!"

"You've been reading the newspaper again, haven't you?" She felt the warm rumble of his chuckle against her cheek. "You shouldn't even know words like that. If your parents knew you were reading those rags, they'd have your hide."

Grace's tears had quieted and were slowly being replaced by hiccups. Just as Thomas began to release her from his friendly hold, the library door opened with a loud bang.

"What the devil is going on in here?" demanded Lady Appleton.

Grace jumped out of Thomas's arms and said, "It's not what you th—ink." The hiccups were gaining momentum. "I was up—set. Thomas found me, and I was—crying. He was simply be—ing kind."

The skin on Lady Appleton's florid face jiggled as she shouted, "Not only are you in a room with a man unchaperoned, but you were in an embrace!" Her gown truly was the most awful color. It was somewhere between green and brown, like a plant that had withered and died. To make the ensemble worse, she looked as if she were wearing an entire peacock atop her piled hair.

Seeming to thrive on spectacle, Lady Appleton continued to bombast them with accusation, her voice growing toward a crescendo. "You've been ruined, young lady! There will have to be a wedding at once!" If volume were the stick by which such things were measured, Lady Appleton's screeching voice ensured that Grace would feel maximum shame.

"Th—at wasn't an embrace!"

By this time, several people had gathered in the hallway outside the library door. When Grace's father came on the scene, Thomas spoke directly to him, ignoring Lady Appleton. "I apologize for any misunderstanding. Gracie was crying. She was upset, might I add, by the cruel things you said to her. I'm nothing more than a childhood friend offering a bit of encouragement and reassuring her that her father is not the ogre he appears to be at present."

Grace had never heard Thomas's voice quite like this. The sharp edge of strong metal in it was unmistakable. This voice belonged to the Duke of Stafford, not her childhood friend Thomas.

Grace stared at Thomas and saw for the first time, not the boy she'd considered her chum, but rather the man he had become. His stature was impressive, his closely cropped brown hair stylish. It was his eyes that stunned her into silence, though. They had always been such a lively and cheerful blue, but now… now they glinted cold and steely, showing not a glimmer of warmth.

Lord Miltmouth turned from Thomas to Lady Appleton and demanded, "By all that is good and holy, what on earth is going on here? What are you carrying on about, woman?"

The Earl was a tall and imposing man whose black hair had begun to silver at the temples and to whom people normally gave deference. Lady Appleton, however, was no mere mortal. As it turned out, she was a scandalmonger who was nourished with the milk of blather and who thrived on the meat of gossip. She was in her element and would not back down. If anything, her voice grew louder.

Peacock feathers bouncing with each word, she said, "I found your daughter and that… that man there… in an embrace here in this room. Without a chaperone, I might add. Obviously they must be wed at once!" Then she turned on her heel and marched away, leaving a trail of whispered conversation behind her.

Grace looked to her father and said, "We did no-thing wrong."

More than a dozen faces stared at them from the doors of the library. Some reflected pity or shock, while others showed salacious delight. Lord Miltmouth looked back and forth between the two of them and finally said, "It's too late to change anything. With Lady Appleton leading the charge, word will soon reach the outermost territories of the kingdom. I'm afraid there's nothing for it. The two of you will have to be wed."

"F-ather, don't be r-idiculous. I'm n-ot ruined." Blast these hiccups! Surely her father didn't actually think she and Thomas had been doing anything untoward in the library? Didn't he trust she had been raised better than that?

Thomas whirled to face her, and Grace stumbled back when she saw the look in his eyes. Humor, irritation, resignation – she could have handled any of those. The withering arctic look he gave instead chilled her to the core. "You planned this whole thing, didn't you, Grace? All to land yourself a duke. I don't know what happened to you, but you're not the girl I used to know, and you are no one I want for a wife."

"Now listen here, Thomas—" the Earl began but was cut off by the young duke's words.

"You will address me as Your Grace or not at all, is that clear?" Grace's father stared at the younger man, his face flushing. "Do whatever you need to do. I will return in three Sundays, and we will get this farce over with."

Grace watched as Thomas stormed from the room. Her tears of earlier were forgotten and her hiccups finally cured. Gawking at her father, whose face had taken on an ashen pallor, she asked, "What have you done?"

My Review - His Saving Grace


HIS SAVING GRACE, though not necessarily proportioned to my liking, was still an entertaining and quick read.

Since Thomas became the Duke of Stafford, woman have been throwing themselves at him.  Fully aware they are after his title and the privileges it will afford them, he is shocked when his childhood friend has lured him into a compromising position that can be righted no other way then with marriage.  Though he has no choice but to marry Grace, he has no intentions of spending time with her.  As soon as they are wed, he plans to banish her to a far off castle while he goes to war. 

Grace’s only intentions for hiding out in her father’s library was to get away from his cruel and hurtful remarks.  When Thomas finds her there in tears, he offers words of comfort and a hug between childhood friends.  But to Lady Appleton it does not appear to be an innocent embrace.  She cries of scandal and offers the only proper solution to save Thomas and Grace’s reputations.  A wedding to save face.  A marriage doomed from the onset.

HIS SAVING GRACE was enjoyable enough that I wanted to finish it, but the pacing was a bit off to me.  The character of Thomas switches quickly from friend to enemy, and from empathic to heartless.  But it the blink of an eye, Thomas reevaluates his feelings for Grace right before he leaves for war.  And then he’s gone.  I would’ve rather seen the development of feelings between Grace and Thomas, then have them separated while their feelings for each other grew.  I am not a fan of lovers being kept at arms-length pining away for each other, only to be reunited in a dramatic ending novel that quickly ties up loose ends and leaves the reader wanting more interaction between hero and heroine.

Book provided for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

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:

Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God's guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of women's fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Janessa Greene is leaving Thornton Springs

All she's ever wanted is to attend cooking school in Seattle. But when a big-shot rodeo rider comes to work on her family's Montana ranch, Janessa's determined not to let the cowboy distract her from her goal no matter how charming he is.

Micah was a rodeo star, but he's been trampled by one bull too many. While he's deciding his next move, he gets sidetracked by a pretty cowgirl who's headed out of town. Can Micah convince her to take a chance on a cowboy ready to put down roots?



Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Series: Heartsong Presents (Book 1068)
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373486790
ISBN-13: 978-0373486793:


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14



Chapter 1

Janessa Greene could have sworn her old hatchback lost a little more oomph with each passing day. As she pulled off the highway and through the Bar-G Ranch gate, she sent up a prayer. No way could she spend money on her car right now—not with all the expenses she had coming up. Both she and her car would have to go the extra mile for just a while longer.

As she gunned down the long stretch toward the house, the sight of twenty or so impatient-looking parents standing outside their horse trailers made her stomach buckle. She checked the clock on the dash and grimaced. Why did they all have to be so prompt on the days when she was running behind?

She clattered to a halt between the house and the barn, then gathered up her work bag and purse. Leaping out of the car, she gave the parents a quick wave. “I’ll only be a sec!”

A grating mixture of grumbles and moans followed her as she ran toward the front porch steps. She winced. Those folks had paid good money to have her teach their kids to ride this summer, and they had every right to expect her to deliver her best. She had tried to get there on time. If only the restaurant would stop being so busy on her class days.

She scurried inside, slowing only to push the door shut and to gather up the mail from the table next to it. Flipping through the stack as she bounded across the foyer, she held her breath. Today had to be the day.

“Argh!” She tossed the pile of pure disappointment onto the bench at the base of the staircase, gripped the bannister, and charged up. It was July already. Shouldn’t she have heard by now?

Reaching the top step in record time, she darted across the hall and into her room. She kicked the door closed, dropped her bags on the bed, and tore off her grease-splattered tee, then grabbed a plaid cotton western shirt from the back of her desk chair. As she yanked it on, a rap on the door gave her a jolt.

“Ness, it’s Courtney.”

Her fingers found the shirt buttons as she searched the floor for a pair of jeans. “I’ll be right out.”

“I can go down and get the kids started if you want.”

“Really?” Relief surged as she retrieved some decently-clean Levis off the window seat. “That would make you my favorite sister-in-law.”

Courtney’s laugh sounded through the door. “I’m your only sister-in-law. Besides, you know I love those kids.”

Janessa breathed a little easier. The parents would feel better seeing Courtney, but she’d still have to hustle.

As she fumbled with her cuff button, her focus fixed on the poster over the desk. A plain chef’s jacket hung on a fancy wire hanger with the words ‘Le Cordon Bleu—L’Art Culinaire’ above, and the logo of the school below.

Leaving her second cuff undone, she tugged at the laces on her white SlipGrips—great for the kitchen but definitely not for the arena—and allowed her thoughts to stray. Le Cordon Bleu had been her dream ever since she’d realized she wanted to be a chef. Not only was it a great school, but they had a location in Seattle, not far from Thornton Springs. She bit her lip and yanked at the second lace. Okay, not too far to drive home for holidays and an occasional weekend, anyway. Montana only seemed like a million miles away from everything truly exciting in the world.

She kicked off the shoes. For as long as she could remember, all she’d wanted was to get out of Thornton Springs. Now that she had finally graduated from high school and worked for a year to save up money, her plans were just about to jell.

Flinging herself onto the bed, she quickly replaced her white Dockers with the jeans. She rolled onto her belly to reach under the bed, pulling out one boot, then a second.

She maneuvered into a sitting position, then yanked on the boots and scanned the immediate vicinity for her belt. Her eyes flicked across the framed photo that sat on her bedside table, momentarily sidetracking her with the familiar combination of comfort and sorrow that always accompanied it. Absentmindedly fingering the ever-present heart-shaped diamond necklace at her throat, she wondered for the zillionth time how different her life would be if her dad was still here. He had her heart, even after being gone for so many years.

Forcing her thoughts back to the task at hand, she plucked up her floral-shammed pillow from the head of the bed and let out a mini-cry of victory. She dove for a large gold buckle that peeked out from under her sloppily-placed duvet, then swung her legs around and clamored to her feet. She quickly looped the belt into her jeans and grabbed a hair band off her bedside table, then dug through the pile of hats on the chair next to the door. She paused, running her hand over her Le Cordon Bleu ball cap. Her mind latched onto the one problem with her plan, the magnitude of which grew with each passing day.

What if the school didn’t accept her?

Shoving away the thought, she snapped up her favorite white cowgirl hat and plunked it onto her head. She just couldn’t let herself think that way. It was only July. There was still plenty of time for her to hear from them. Besides, if she didn’t get in, they’d send a rejection letter. No news didn’t necessarily mean bad news.

She darted back out into the hallway and took the stairs two at a time, awkwardly yanking her hair into a ponytail as she flew.

Making her way across the drive, she saw that Courtney had gotten the class started preparing their horses. A few parents lingered along the outside of the fence, but most of them had left, probably furious at her for cutting short their hour to go get things done.

Rushing into the barn, she grabbed a curry comb off its hook on the wall and greeted her horse. “Hey, Miss Molly.” As she ran the comb quickly across Molly’s back, she mumbled to herself. She’d have to do a better job of grooming her later on.

Tossing down the comb, she took up the brush. “Sorry, baby. You deserve better than this.” Moving around to the horse’s other side, she realized she’d left her second cuff undone. She fumbled with the button as she continued to brush Molly, but since she actually needed both hands to accomplish each task, she succeeded only in scratching her wrist with the bristles.

“Youch!” She jumped back, pulling up her sleeve to examine the scratch.

“Works better if you use the brush on the horse.”

The confident baritone behind her nearly startled her out of her skin. She whipped around to see a guy hoisting a saddle up onto the rack on the wall, glancing over his shoulder and smirking like the feline friend of the recently departed canary.

“What in the…?” Her tone came out a little more venomous than she’d intended, but he looked like a guy who could handle it. She’d been standing there talking to her horse. Why hadn’t he made his presence known?

“Hey, I noticed that mare has some weeds stuck in her mane.” Speaking without even looking at her now, he secured the saddle. “You know, if you don’t have time to groom your horse correctly, you don’t have time to own a horse.”

Her jaw went slack. She’d been riding her whole life. This was her horse and her barn, and this guy—whoever he was—had no right to admonish her. Questions swirled in her brain, and she spit out the first one she could latch onto. “Who are you?”

Chuckling lightly as he finally turned to face her, he radiated an air of belonging that implied she was the outsider here, not him. His lack of a swift answer to her question gave the impression that he thought she should somehow already know who he was—like he was some kind of celebrity or something.

“Well…?” She seethed. Not only had he made her even later by springing up behind her like that, but he had implied that she wasn’t properly caring for her horse. And now he wouldn’t even identify himself.

Flashing a gleaming white smile that dented a dimple in his cheek, he ambled toward her. He pushed up the brim of his well-worn tan Stetson, revealing tousled blond hair and a pair of eyes so clear and blue they conjured an instant image of Flathead Lake on a hot summer day.

She gulped. As much as she hated to admit it, this guy was the best looking thing to hit Thornton Springs since Jeffrey Mark Caulfield came to town to make that movie last year.

“Name’s Micah.” Stepping confidently close to her, he held out a hand. “I started work here this morning.”

Oh. Of course. She’d forgotten all about the new ranch hand her brother Adam had hired.

Twisting her mouth in irritation at his obvious lack of first day self-consciousness, she reached out for a quick shake. “I’m Janessa.” Hoping to convey a lack of interest in further conversation, she returned to brushing Molly. Time was wasting.

“Pleasure to meet you, Janessa.” After a long moment of studying her the way you would an auction horse you were considering bidding on, he dipped the brim of his hat and strode out of the barn.

Her hand slowed on Molly’s back as she furtively witnessed his exit. She gave herself a mental shake. What was the matter with her? Standing there gawking like a schoolgirl when she needed to get to her class.

Irritation swelled in her gut. Just what she didn’t need, another pointless distraction from what really mattered—making the money to escape Thornton Springs and get her life off the ground.

As she hurried over to fetch her tack, her gaze again drifted to the doorway, but he had moved out of view. Guys. That was one thing she just couldn’t waste time thinking about right now.

She clicked her tongue. Of course, not thinking about them would be a whole lot easier if God didn’t make some of them so all-fired nice to look at.