Welcome to the eighth month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the WWI Period, and my choice of story was Until June by Barbara Britton. For this month’s giveaway, I have a special treat. The author provided me with a signed copy to mail one lucky winner. So don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win.
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Until June by Barbara Britton
I received a copy of this book for review purposes last year, and I completely fell in love with the story. It was a unique WWI story plot, and it touched on subjects I’d not really thought about in relation to the War. To be honest, one of my favorite things about the book was the heroine’s determination to help the veteran overcome his pain medicine addiction and find life beyond the pain. This book is definitely one a recommend to others.
Genre: Historical Romance, Alaska, 1918
When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge, there’s enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran.
Geoff Chambers makes it clear that he isn’t too fond of the “runt” sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted veteran pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.
But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively…Although, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.
What I loved: This brought another aspect of the Great War I’d never thought about to life. The injuries of any war or horrific, but knowing what I do of trench warfare, the soldiers of WWI endured far more than I can or want to imagine. Watching a veteran work his way through his injuries, break free of addiction, and find hope again were aspects of the story that have stuck with me from the very first time I read it more than a year ago.
Favorite Character and Why: Josephine really stuck to her guns and helped Geoff to move beyond his injuries to a hopeful future. Her tenacity and loyalty to family were things I could identify with.
Who would like this? Lovers of historical romance, especially stories of homefront heroes, injured veterans, and love that overcomes harsh challenges.
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Leave a comment about what book you read here. Leave a comment by midnight on September 7th to be entered to win a signed, print copy of Until June. International winners will receive either an unsigned copy through Book depository or a $10 Amazon gift card.
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Hi friends! I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Cynthia several times, so this time I shook things up from my normal format for interviews. First let me give you the traditional introduction:
Cynthia Roemer is an inspirational, bestselling author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the hearts of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the mid-1800’s prairie and Civil War era. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon bestseller, Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, a 2020 Selah Award winning novel.
Cynthia writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-seven years. They have two grown sons and a daughter-in-love. When she isn’t writing or researching, Cynthia can be found hiking, biking, gardening, reading, or riding sidesaddle with her husband in the combine or on their motorcycle. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Visit Cynthia online at: www.cynthiaroemer.com
Now for a little more personal introduction. I meet Cynthia four or five years ago at a book signing I attended with a friend, and have since had the enjoyment of reading all her releases. (I’ve got her newest one sitting on the corner of my desk waiting for me to finish a couple of other required reads first. So watch for that review in the next month or so.) Cynthia is a beautiful woman who has walked through some very difficult trials over the last two years– her husband’s cancer, the death of her beloved father, and her own continued battle with cancer. Through it all, she has been an amazing example of loving and trusting God even in the hard times. She has graciously agreed to share some of her experiences and how they have affected her and her writing.
CC: Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing your story. While you were writing Beyond These War-Torn Lands, you faced multiple family and personal challenges, including fighting an aggressive cancer diagnosis. How have you seen God work during that process?
CR: The past year and a half have truly been challenging with both myself and my husband being diagnosed with cancer and the loss of my dad. But through it all, the Lord has given me the strength and determination to press on. Writing provided a welcome distraction from the dismal reality of cancer and chemo and helped me focus on something worthwhile that I enjoyed.
CC: Writing certainly has been a gift from God for me in troubled times. I am so glad He provided you the strength and determination to keep at it.
Did any of your experiences, emotions, or struggles with this time play into Beyond These War-Torn Lands? How so?
CR: I do feel the depth of emotions and spiritual content were enhanced by my experience. I’ve always had a deep sense of emotion, but during this health challenge, the Lord drew me in even closer to his unfailing love, and I pray that resonates with readers in this story.
CC: You have been such a light of faith, grace, and courage to your readers on social media as you go through this valley of struggles. What gives you the greatest encouragement on those hard days?
CR: Thank you, Crystal. Just knowing others are praying for me is such a comfort. I received more than a hundred cards and so many gracious comments on social media. We had people stop by to bring food and offer to help in any way. All of those expressions of Christ-like love truly inspired me to keep going. I feel so blessed!
CC: How can we be praying for you as you move forward in your treatment and in your writing?
CR: You are so thoughtful, Thank you! Specifically, I would appreciate prayers for renewed strength and healing, for my kidney function to return to normal (it has suffered from treatment), and for the Lord to be glorified through this experience and in my writing. Please pray what I write will honor Him and that I will be obedient in whatever He calls me to do. Thanks so much!
CC: Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into this season of life for you. I’m excited to introduce readers to your newest release, Beyond These War-Torn Lands.
The War brought them together ~ Would it also tear them apart?
While en route to aid Confederate soldiers injured in battle near her home, Southerner Caroline Dunbar stumbles across a wounded Union sergeant. Unable to ignore his plea for help, she tends his injuries and hides him away, only to find her attachment to him deepen with each passing day. But when her secret is discovered, Caroline incurs her father’s wrath and, in turn, unlocks a dark secret from the past which she is determined to unravel.
After being forced to flee his place of refuge, Sergeant Andrew Gallagher fears he’s seen the last of Caroline. Resolved not to let that happen, when the war ends, he seeks her out, only to discover she’s been sent away. When word reaches him that President Lincoln has been shot, Drew is assigned the task of tracking down the assassin. A chance encounter with Caroline revives his hopes, until he learns she may be involved in a plot to aid the assassin. (Purchase here.)
CC: What are you most proud of with this story?
CR: All the historical details I was able to weave into the storyline. It was such great fun inserting my characters into encounters with real historical events and people. Countless hours of research went into this novel, and it’s so rewarding to see that appreciated in reader reviews and comments.
CC: I can only imagine all the work that went into creating this novel. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
CR: The main themes are forgiveness and loving our enemies—two issues that are challenging to us all! The theme verse for Beyond These War-Torn Lands is Matthew 5:43-44:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
Throughout the novel, both Drew and Caroline face challenging people “enemies” that they must make the difficult choice to seek revenge against or show Christ-like love to. With all the hatred and bitterness going on today, I feel this is a message we can all benefit from hearing. Loving the unlovable is one of the hardest things we’re asked to do but, as Christians, we are called to love even when others are unkind toward us.
CC: Was there anything you found fascinating while researching for this story?
CR: Oh, wow! I could write another book on that. LOL! This was the first novel I’ve written that involved so much actual history and I became lost in the research numerous times. But, for the sake of time and space, I’ll share just a couple of fascinating tidbits that I ran across.
In the opening scene of Beyond These War-Torn Lands, my hero, Sergeant Andrew (Drew) Gallagher, is injured at the Battle of Monocacy Junction, a lesser-known battle that was a loss to the Union. The Union commander in the battle was General Lew Wallace. After doing a little digging, I discovered something intriguing. If you’ve read or seen the movie, Ben Hur, you might find it interesting that it was written by none other than the retired Union General Lew Wallace!!
I also found that renovations to the U.S. Capitol dome began in 1861, but were stopped briefly at the start of the Civil War. Work quickly resumed, however, and was on-going throughout the Civil War and completed in 1866! I find that amazing!
CC: I love the research that goes into a story. There are so many fascinating details. Who was your favorite character to create? Why?
CR: Oh, I loved Drew. He was such a good-natured guy, so fun to create. I dearly loved how he related to Caroline, his horse, his men, his superiors, and God!
CC: Who was your most challenging character? Why?
Definitely Caroline’s father, Eugene Dunbar. He was gruff, overbearing, and spiteful—all the traits in a person that make me want to curl up in a ball and hide!
CC: I am with you on that type of book. Will there be others in this series?
CR: Yes. I’m currently working on Book 2 in my Wounded Heart Series which will be Drew’s younger brother Luke’s story. It begins in Richmond, VA in the final week of the Civil War and during the aftermath. The story is still in the developmental stages, but is slated to release in November, 2022.
CC: Ooooh. Already sticking it on my TBR list. 🙂 I’ve always enjoyed reading your stories. As always, I love to wrap up with a fun question. If you could choose to have lunch with any book character, who would you choose?
CR: Hmm. That’s an interesting question. The first that comes to mind is Anne of Green Gables. I love her down-to-earth nature and her tenacity! I’m certain we would be kindred spirits. =)
CC: Thank you so much for the interview, Cythnia. I truly appreciate it and will be praying for you. Readers, which book character YOU would choose to have lunch with? Tell me in the comments so we can create a virtual luncheon. 🙂
If you’d like to connect with Cynthia Roemer, you can find her at any of these places:
Author Newsletter Sign-up: https://mailchi.mp/2a0d03dfaa50/newslettersignup
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Roemer/e/B06Y1CJ588/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
A Life Once Dreamed
by Rachel Fordham
So I’m a day late and a dollar short, but here is the post that was supposed to go live yesterday. A Life Once Dreamed was the August choice for our Online Christian Historical Romance Book Club. I’ve always enjoyed the sweet, simple romances of Rachel Fordham’s books. This one was a little bit more of a stretch for me. I really enjoyed the sweet rekindling of the romance between James and Aggie, as well as all the small-town life put on full display. However, I did struggle with a single conversation being the needed resolution for the conflict between the two. If you are like me, you may get really frustrated with it and want to set the book down. Even so, I urge you to read the story to its full conclusion. Aggie’s reason for keeping her secret does become believable and reasonable, even if I disagreed with her choice to continue to hold on to that secret even after James sought her out after six years. True to Miss Fordham’s style, the story is a sweet romance of the day-to-day life and struggles in a small town on the prairie.
I definitely recommend it to lovers of sweet, historical romance.
Genre: Historical Romance, Dakota Territory, 1880
Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people. When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie’s pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves―but he is the one person who can never know.In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can’t seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?
What I loved: Without any spoilers, I really loved the weaving in of foster care and adoption.
Favorite Character and Why: The child who becomes adopted. 😉 Again trying not to give any spoilers, but who wouldn’t love a sweet baby left alone in the world. It made me just want to go out and find friends who have babies so I can cuddle them.
Who would like this? Any reader who enjoys sweet romances and second chance love.
Rating and Why: Three and a half. The story was sweet, but I had several frustrations with the story and characters. Once I got to the end, I was mostly satisfied, but it wasn’t my favorite read from her.
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Welcome to the seventh month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the Progressive Era, and my choice of story was Heart onf the Line by Karent Witemeyer. Once you read my review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.
*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form.*
Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
I’ve long been a fan of Karen Witemeyer’s books. In fact, I think I own almost every book she’s written, even though I’ve far from read them all. It was a joy to pick up one of her books this month and read Heart on the Line. It was an adorable historical twist on “meeting online.” And Karen NEVER fails to deliver on the action and adventure. I didn’t pay attention to this being a book 2, but it stands alone without having read the first story. However, I am definitely going back and reading Emma and Malachi’s story now.
Heart on the Line is one of those reads that stick with you long after you finish reading. I’m still chuckling over the quirky characters and thinking through the spiritual lessons they grew through. Amos is one of those heroes who doesn’t quite fit the mold, yet has all the qualities you would want in a hero. I loved his own acknowledgment of not being the kind of man a woman takes a second glance at. While insecure, he managed to have an underlying confidence that made you root for him even in those moments of doubt. Grace was intelligent, brave, and wise while still having room to grow as a person.
I recommend this novel for fans of friends to more, somewhat awkward heroes, and stories laced with humor, danger, and spiritual truths that don’t Bible thump you.
Genre: Historical Romance, Texas 1894
Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.
Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.
What I loved: I absolutely adored the relationship between Amos and Grace, but even more so the relationship between Helen and Lee. Both had their own tugs and pulls, and both sets were willing to risk their lives not only for each other but for the community at large.
Favorite Character and Why: It’s a tie between Helen and Amos. Helen’s growth as a character was so fun to watch. My heart ached and cheered for her as she moved beyond the hurts of the past toward a stronger relationship with Christ and others. Amos was just an adorable hero who had such an underlying strength that he won my heart right off the bat.
Who would like this? I recommend this novel for fans of friends to more, somewhat awkward heroes, and stories laced with humor, danger, and spiritual truths that don’t Bible thump you.
Rating and Why: Five. The story while somewhat predictable was satisfying and lifted my spirits. I loved the action involved, and the romance was just the right amount to swoon without gagging. (Yes, this romance author can’t take too much romance without gagging. LOL)
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Reading Challenge Giveaway
Comment with what you read for this month’s challenge to be entered to win a print copy of Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer. This giveaway is open to U.S. and International Residents who are legally able to enter. If an international winner is picked and Book Depository cannot ship, they will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Comment or use Rafflecopter for extra entries by 11:59 pm (EST) on August 7th to be eligible to win. Happy reading!
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His to Keep
by Sherrinda Ketchersid
Ever get caught in the DMV line without a book? Yeah, me too. I am so glad for the Kindle App on my phone. I’d bought and downloaded this book a while ago because I enjoyed Sherrinda’s first book, Lord of Her Heart. I enjoyed this dip into medieval England as much as I enjoyed the first one. Some of my favorite stories are where the hero and heroine are at odds with one another from the beginning. Prejudice stands between Claire and Ian as they are forced into an arranged marriage by the King. Ian desires to prove himself, and Claire desires to protect the only home she’s ever known. To get what they both want, they have to come together and learn to overcome their past experiences. With enemy neighbors and family, a code of honor and chivalry, and lots of fun swordplay, the danger and romance take the reader to an older time of knights and feisty damsels. I especially loved watching Claire overcome her prejudice to learn that not all Scotts are the same and that she can learn to love her enemy.
I recommend this book to any reader who enjoys stories of chivalry, knights, enemy to lover tropes, and stories where prejudices are overcome.
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval England, 1204
He’s fighting for his inheritance—she’s marrying her sworn enemy.
When Ian McGowan attempts to claim Whitfield Castle as his rightful inheritance, he finds himself barred by a tempestuous lass who is entailed to be the bride of the castle’s new owner.
Claire Beaumont, the orphaned ward of Whitfield, has good reason to hate Scots, and she is not about to let a Scot enter her beloved home. But when the handsome knight steals into the castle and proves his claim on the land, she must face her ultimate nightmare—marriage to her sworn enemy—in order to save those she cares about most.
Restoring the failing Whitfield Castle while wooing his defiant intended proves more challenging than Ian anticipated. His struggles reach a crisis when his nemesis arrives at the castle, and he must overcome his past demons to prove his worth. He must fight for what is his to keep—and it could well cost him his heart.
What I loved: I particularly liked the development of the relationship between Ian and Claire. It felt like a realistic tug-of-war, as well as was unique enough to not feel like I’ve read it a million times.
Favorite Character and Why: Claire was a feisty woman who sacrificed her ideal future for the people in her keep and learned to overcome her prejudice despite the tragic history which developed those prejudices.
Who would like this? Any reader who enjoys stories of chivalry, knights, enemy to lover tropes, and stories where prejudices are overcome.
Rating and Why: Five stars. The story was engaging, humorous, swoony at times, and full of action. If you know me, I love my action and scenes of danger.
It’s the SIXTH month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. We’re halfway there! Once you read my review, don’t forget to comment on what YOU read to be entered for your chance to win a copy. *Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form.*
The White City by Grace Hitchcock
This month focused on the Gilded Age of America, and what better display of the Gilded Age than the World’s Fair in Chicago? Add in a bit of mystery, danger, and love, and I couldn’t resist the chance to read this book. I’ll fully admit this is a reread for me. I loved it so much the first round that when I saw I had the chance to share it with others and give copies away, I had to do it. I think in my original review of the book, I gave it six stars as it was one of the first books I’d read that was so wonderfully historically romantic suspense. Now that these types of books are coming out in droves, it is still an amazing book but not as unique as it once had been.
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense, World’s Fair, Chicago, 1893 Plot Overview: While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as an exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as a secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for a bodyguard.
Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim? What I loved: The danger, suspense, romance, AND history are combined in an utterly wonderful story. There’s even a serial killer on the loose and a woman determined to find the truth. It’s my favorite kind of story to read. Favorite Character and Why: It’s a tie between Winnifred and Jude. I love her spunk, determination, and bravery. Jude is absolutely swoon-worthy. A family man, caring, and protective. Who would like this? Absolutely anyone who loves romantic suspense, especially those who love historical romance but have been craving a little more danger and suspense in the writing. If you have any fascination with true crime stories, this is a GREAT story with one of my favorite true crimes in history. Rating and Why: The writing was great, the spiritual touch light but impactful, the historical details AMAZING, and the storyline something I crave. PURCHASE LINKS Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Book Depository Bookshop.org Christianbook.com Indiebound.org
Reading Challenge Giveaway
Comment with what you read for this month’s challenge to be entered to win a print copy of The White City by Grace Hitchcock. This giveaway is open to U.S. and International Residents who are legally able to enter. If an international winner is picked, they will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card. I’m sorry. Book Depository does not carry this book. Comment or use Rafflecopter for extra entries by 11:59 pm (EST) on July 7th to be eligible to win. Happy reading! a Rafflecopter giveaway