July 2019 Releases (ACFW)

It’s that time of month again! Time to make my TBR pile tip over. Which ones are you most excited about?

July 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Hometown Hope by Laurel Blount — In the three years since her mother’s death, widower Hoyt Bradley’s daughter, Jess, hasn’t spoken—until she suddenly begs him to save her favorite bookstore from closing. Hoyt is desperate to hear his daughter’s voice again, but he and the bookstore’s pretty owner, Anna Delaney, share a less-than-friendly past. Working together is complicated enough…but can they avoid falling in love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Heart Surrendered by Joy K. Massenburge — Since her teens, pastor’s daughter Sharonda Peterson devoted her life to church service and solitude after the one night she gave Carl Ray Everhart everything. Sobered by a near-death experience, prodigal Carl returns home from an acting and singing career to serve as the worship leader at Sheronda’s church, and she finds that it takes every ounce of her resolve to resist his pursuits … not to mention memories that threaten to overturn the delicate balance she’s created. Can she finally surrender the one thing she’s tried all these years to protect: her heart? (Contemporary Romance from Harambee Press [Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas])

Starting Anew by Melanie D. Snitker — He’s afraid to trust. She has a secret that could change everything between them. Will they let go of their fear, or allow it to rob them of their chance at happiness? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Historical:

Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller — Can shy, sweet Cecilia overcome her family’s prejudice to see a future with the recently returned prodigal son from next door? (Historical from Kregel Publications)

Benaiah: Might Man of God by PH Thompson — A novel of Biblical, historical fiction about Benaiah, one of King David’s mighty men, examining the premise: What happens when the king’s most obedient soldier is issued a wicked command? (Historical/Biblical from Word Alive Press)


Historical Romance:

Waltz with Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield — When the men and women of World War II marched off to war, they didn’t know what lay ahead. All they knew was that upon their young and inexperienced shoulders rested the plight of the free world. (Historical Romance from CrossRiver Media Group)

Thimbles and Threads by Mary Davis, Grace Hitchcock, Suzanne Norquist, and Liz Tolsma — Enjoy four historical romances that celebrate the arts of sewing and quilting. When Tilly, a schoolteacher; Alice, a bridal shop owner; Sarah, a seamstress; and Melissa, a rag doll designer, put needle and thread to fabric, will their talents lead to the surprising gift of love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Refiner’s Fire by J.M. Hochstetler
Will the promise their hearts cling to finally find joyful fulfillment, or will war’s refining fire separate them forever? (Historical Romance from Sheaf House Publishers)

Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson — To escape an arranged marriage, Cassie Kendrick enlists in the Union army as a man, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer. Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase past guilt, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships along the way, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding. Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Express Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse — Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Legacy Rejected by Robin Patchen — She’s not giving up her home, no matter what threats come against her. Realtor Ginny Lamont’s family has abandoned her, leaving her with nothing but a warning that she’s in danger. But Ginny’s built a home in New Hampshire. After a childhood of nomadic living, she’s not running again, certainly not because of some nameless, baseless threat. Real estate developer Kade Powers is thrilled to go out with Nutfield’s beautiful new real estate agent. But the prowler they surprise after their first date offers a glimpse into Ginny’s past and the legacy of lies her parents left her with. She brings a mystery, one he’s determined to help her solve. With Kade’s help, Ginny searches for the truth of her parents’ criminal activity while her enemies close in. When mobsters show up in her quaint New England town, will she find a way to bring them down, or will she lose the home—and the man—she’s come to love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Suspense:

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig — Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets–and dangers–never before seen on earth. Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them. Iskra “Viorica” Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most–freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of their past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in centuries-old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Speculative:

The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin — Deceiving an empire is a treacherous game. Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret–Gryfelle isn’t the only one afflicted by the weaver’s curse. As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith’s heart is turned upside down, and she’s not sure she can trust anyone–least of all herself. The puppet master behind Gareth’s rise to power has designs on Tanwen and the story weavers, and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson

Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson

This book is hands-down my favorite Civil War novel of all time. My jaw absolutely dropped at how well this story was written and all the details that went into this story. I have never felt so immersed in history as I did in Where Dandelions Bloom. Every time a battle detail or name was dropped, my history nerd brain went wild, knowing exactly what was going to happen historically but no idea of how it would intersect and affect the characters of the story. Seriously, I could read this one over and over and over again.

Genre: Historical Romance, 1861, Early Civil War

Plot Overview: 

Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

What I loved: The history in this book was the most astounding I have ever read. There were so many incredible details, and to see it through the eyes of a woman disguised as a man and a photographer sent to record the War, it was just word defying.

Favorite Character: Aside from the main characters, whom I absolutely loved, Jonah was a favorite. The orphaned boy who joined the war efforts stole my heart from the beginning.

Who would like this: Anyone who loves great historical details, stories of women soldiers, espionage, the Civil War, and hope in desperate times.

Rating and Why: I gave this a six-star rating because it totally blew me out of the water. Everything was so amazingly detailed, yet seamlessly woven together that it takes my breath away. Even now, weeks later, all I can do is shake my head in wonder. And now, every time I see a dandelion I see hope. It truly is amazing to transform something I once took for granted as being a weed into a symbol of hope.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher. The review above was influenced in no way by this and the above opinions are my own.

Purchase Links:

Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Christianbooks.com      Target     Walmart

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

The winner from the Interview with Tara can be found at the bottom of the review. 

Engraved on the Heart

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

5star

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a HUGE history nerd, and one of my favorite things to research is how the Civil War affected relationships not just between regions of our nation, but within families. Engraved on the Heart does an amazing job of that.

Genre: Historical Romance, 1861, Early Civil War

Plot Overview: More than whispers of war threaten Keziah Montgomery in Savannah, GA. The secret of her falling sickness (epilepsy) is exposed when she loses consciousness during a ball. Former classmate and friend, Dr. Micah Greyson tends to her and they reconnect. Bringing her to a secret abolitionist meeting, Micah reveals why he cannot fight for the Confederacy. Their paths part for a time, but Keziah is forever changed by the story of a runaway slave. She cannot support the Confederacy, though her family is a staunch supporter. Becoming a conductor on the Underground Railroad risks her life and relationship with her family, but it gives her purpose and reconnects her with Micah. As tensions rise, and an antiabolitionist group actively pursues them, will saving others cost their lives and their hearts?

What I loved: The emotional aspect of this story reached a level of depth not often found in Civil War stories. The struggle between family, friends, society, self-worth, and the value of a person were relatable and real. Not to mention, the historical details were accurate and finely interwoven into the story.

Favorite Character: I could see myself in Keziah. Having spent a good portion of my life struggling with self-worth and people-pleasing behaviors, I related to all her emotions and struggles. I also found the descriptions of the epileptic episodes interesting. I have a couple friends with epilepsy and it helped to understand them and what they go through a bit more.

Who would like this: Anyone who loves great historical details, Civil War tensions, emotional stories that deal with self-worth and purpose, and gentle love stories that grow out of adversity.

Rating and Why: I gave this a five-star rating because it was a unique read that really drew in many of the struggles of the time. I was really impressed with the handling of tough issues and all the historical details. It is a story most anyone can relate to.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher. The review above was influenced in no way by this and the above opinions are my own.

Join the discussion: The Civil War was a time that tore our nation apart. What do you think would have been the hardest aspect of living during that time period for you?

Purchase Links:

Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Christianbooks.com      Target     Walmart

Congratulations Cynthia R., you are the winner of either a print or e-copy of Engraved on the Heart. Please check your email for more information on how to claim your prize.

Author Interview: Tara Johnson

The writing community is a wonderful place where you get the chance to not only interact with other authors you know but also get introduced to amazing authors entering the published world. Tara Johnson is one of those amazing meets for me. She is an amazing, loving woman who faces the challenges set before her with grace, faith, and honesty. It is my privilege to introduce you her today.  (And don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a chance to win either an e-copy or a physical copy of her debut novel, Engraved on the Heart.)

Tara Johnson is an author, speaker and singer from Alexander, AR.  A passionate lover of stories, she loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleasing preacher’s kid.

She and her husband Todd have been married for twenty years and the Lord has blessed them with five children:  Bethany, Callie, Nate, as well as Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.

 
Thank you so much, Tara, for joining me on The Write Call. Now it’s time for fun. *Rubs hands excitement.*

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Tara: Sweet tea. I’m a Southern girl.

Crystal: And you haven’t had true sweet tea until you’ve had it made from a southerner! 🙂

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Tara: Both! I’m originally from Oregon so I was spoiled by having mountains and the ocean next to each other. If I’m at a beach, I want it to be a cold beach next to rocky cliffs. The coastline of northern Oregon or the North Devon coast in Great Britain is my idea of a perfect getaway.

Crystal: That does sound perfect.

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Tara: I love to travel, but my happy place is to be at home surrounded by my family and puttering around in my garden.

Crystal: I have a black thumb, but I certainly love seeing other people’s beautiful gardens.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Tara: Morning person. By 9:00 pm, my brain is shutting down.

Crystal: Bless the morning people, for I don’t know how you do it!

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Tara: Dog-ear. I’m always losing bookmarks.

Crystal: It’s okay, we forgive you. 😉

 

Tara Johnson – the Person

Jeremiah33-3CalltoMe

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

Tara: I have too many to count. I love how God uses His Word to speak directly to me for whatever season and situation I’m in. I can tell you several I continually return to for comfort and guidance. The entirety of Psalm 139 has a very special place in my heart. God has used it to assure me of His love time and time again. Jeremiah 33:3 is another special verse. “Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand.”

Crystal: A great verse to be sure! And very comforting.

You have a ministry outside of writing books. Would you tell us a little bit about that ministry and how you are involved?

Tara: I have a speaking ministry that focuses on helping those struggling with people-pleasing, fear and depression. I grew up as a preacher’s kid and became a ranting, raving people pleaser. I fell for the lie that approval equals love. It took me a long time, and a horrible battle with depression, to realize the two aren’t the same at all. Approval and love are actually polar opposites. These days, I travel to ladies’ groups, churches and prisons to share how God led me into freedom from those lies. I love to share through music, comedy and stories.

Crystal: That is definitely a struggle for many, especially myself. Even with the Truth, it is so easy to fall back into those old ways.

What was the best advice someone ever gave you about writing, life, or anything that strikes your fancy?

Tara: Years ago, I heard Tamera Alexander give some wonderful advice in a class at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. She said, “Your books are not your babies. They are products. They do not define your worth, nor are they crafted in perfection.” That was very wise advice. It takes the sting out of criticism when it’s time to edit and keeps me from holding those stories too close.

“Your books are not your babies. They are products. They do not define your worth, nor are they crafted in perfection.”

The other great piece of writing advice I received was this: the villain is always the hero in his own mind. Every person deals with wounds, fears and hurt. Remembering that helps me craft believable characters. It also gives me greater compassion when I’m dealing with cranky people. Ha!

Crystal: Very wise words from Tamera! And great advice for crafting a villain.

Engraved on the Heart

 

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You once shared you had epilepsy, something your main character has. Do Keziah’s experiences reflect some of your own experiences?

Tara: Yes. It was very easy to put myself in Keziah’s place. I’ll never forget the shame that accompanied those moments in elementary school when I would find two dozen pairs of eyes staring at me in horror because I had a seizure. I remember how frustrating it was to find a chunk of time yawning like a black hole in my memory. And I remember the helplessness of having no control over my own body. Rather than avoid those old memories, I embraced them and placed them right into the story.

Crystal: It is hard when God makes us face those tough memories, but oh so beautiful when he changes them into ways that bless others.

 

Which character was the most fun to create? What makes them fun?

Tara: Ma Linnie. I based her off a real person, a woman who never had children of her own but embraced my brother and me and let us call her “Aunt Betty”. She was a hoot, with a bigger-than-life personality. Whenever I think of Aunt Betty, I smile.

Crystal: You did a great job with her. I think everyone wants a Ma Linnie in their life.

What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for Engraved on the Heart?

Tara: All of it was intriguing. I love learning about the courageous women of the Civil War who served as spies and conductors. I found a treasure of a book called “Slave Narratives of Georgia”. It’s a documented record of interviews with former slaves at the end of the 19th century. The varying opinions among them about their former masters, their opinions of the war, the Union and Confederacy, as well as the people who helped them is fascinating. I was surprised by the vast difference of opinion among them. The research was fundamental in forming Hiriam’s character and backstory.

And no Write Call interview is complete without a fun question:

If you could travel anywhere without worry about cost, where would you travel?

Tara: I’m dying to visit Colonial Williamsburg, as well as explore Savannah again. I can never get enough of it. If money were no object, I would head to Italy in a heartbeat. I’ve always wanted to visit and absorb as much of the culture as possible.

Thank you so much, again, for giving up some time to visit with us. I am praying for you and this launch.

Friends, keep reading below to find out more about Engraved on the Heart, enter the giveaway, and answer your own travel question!

Connect with Tara Johnson:

Website: www.TaraJohnsonStories.com

Twitter: @TaraMinistry

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarajohnsonministry/

Engraved on the Heart

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

Preorder Links:

Amazon.com     Barnes and Noble    Christianbook.com

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway:

Alright, beloved readers, it is the time you all have been waiting for! This time I am giving the winner a copy of Engraved on the Heart (e-book or physical – your choice). Just comment below AND use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. Entries are open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 5/29/2018 and close on Monday, 6/4/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced on the Engraved on the Heart Review the next day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*

 

Join the Conversation: Where would you travel if you could travel anywhere?

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