June Reading Challenge Suggestions

June Reading Challenge Suggestions

Welcome to the sixth month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. We are halfway through!!!! This month focuses on the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age is a period the 1870s and 1900. This is the time period in which we think of rich societies, industrialization, labor strikes, and the World’s Fair.

When it comes to this time period, I have quite the collection. Enjoy the perusal through my virtual bookshelf and then add your suggestions in the comments. You’ll notice I have a LOT of Jen Turano. She’s one of my favorite Gilded Age authors. Elizabeth Camden is newer to me, but I am definitely enjoying her too. At the bottom of my post, I’m including books suggested by others.

Add your suggestions in the comments, and/or tell me what you are reading. Have you read any of these below? Which one should I choose for this month? Let me know.

Also, if a title has (read and reviewed), clicking on that takes you to a review I’ve written on that book. Just in case you are interested in learning more.

Monthly Reminders:

*If you read a book for May, don’t forget to go to yesterday’s post (RCR: The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain) to comment and get your name entered for your chance to win a print copy. (You’ll also earn your entry for the end of the year giveaway.)

*You can also join the Facebook Group. for more interaction and suggestions, or if you’d like a bookmark to remind you of the monthly challenges, fill out this Google Form.

From My Shelf

After a Fashion by Jen Turano

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

Other titles in the series: In Good Company, Playing the Part

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turnano

Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country.
When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.

As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .

Other titles in the series: Out of the Ordinary, Caught by Surprise

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. After losing her family, her fiance, and her faith, the disappearance of her fortune is the last straw. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she’s determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Much to Mr. Hamilton Beckett’s chagrin, all the eyes of New York society–all the female ones, at least–are on him. Unfortunately for all the matchmaking mothers and eligible daughters, he has no plans to marry again, especially with his hands full keeping his business afloat and raising his two children alone.

When Eliza’s hapless attempts to regain her fortune put her right in Hamilton’s path, sparks instantly begin to fly. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces, but with all their plans falling by the wayside and their enemies getting the better of them, it will take a riot of complications for Hamilton and Eliza to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

Other titles in the series: A Most Peculiar Circumstance, A Talent for Trouble, A Match of Wits

Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

Other titles in the series: Diamond in the Rough, Storing Up Trouble

Masquerade by Nancy Moser 

Two young women risk it all for adventure and romance.

1886. Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions. She is headed to New York City to marry one of America’s wealthiest heirs—a man she has never even met.

When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid Dora. Charlotte wants a chance at “real life,” even if it means giving up financial security. It’s a risk she’s willing to take.

But what begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl becomes a test of survival beyond her blackest nightmare.

For the maid, Dora, it’s the chance of a lifetime. She is thrust into a fairy tale life amid ball gowns and lavish mansions, yet she is tormented by the possibility of discovery. And what of the man who believes she is his intended? Can they find happiness sharing a life based on a lie?

Other titles in the series: An Unlikely Suitor

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Oliva Newport

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago’s rich and famous, but the expectation that she will marry an up-and-coming banker makes her question where her heart lies. The garb of a well-dressed wife may not fit as well as the life she dreams of.

When Lucy meets Will, an unconventional young architect working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World’s Fair, she begins to believe a life on her own terms might be possible. But when secrets not Lucy’s to tell get in the wrong hands, Lucy only wants to keep everyone safe.

A life of glitz and grandeur, stark social concerns, and the courage to cross lines for her convictions challenge Lucy to find her own way—and the answer to the question of whether she will ever be loved for who she truly is.

Other titles in the series: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow, The Invention of Sarah Cummings

 

Secrets of Slone House by Shelley Gray

Against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair, a young woman finds employment with an illustrious Chicago family—a family who may guard the secret of her sister’s disappearance.

Sloane House is among the most gilded mansions of Gilded Age Chicago. Rosalind Perry, the new housemaid, pours the morning coffee before the hard gaze of her mistress.

“It’s simple, Rosalind,” she says. “I am Veronica Sloane, heiress to one of the country’s greatest fortunes. You are simply one in a long line of unsuitable maids.”

Back on the farm in Wisconsin, Rosalind’s plan had seemed logical: Move to Chicago. Get hired on at Sloane House. Discover what transpired while her sister worked as a maid there—and follow the clues to why she disappeared.

Now, as a live-in housemaid to the Sloanes, Rosalind realizes her plan had been woefully simple-minded.

She was ignorant of the hard, hidden life of a servant in a big, prominent house; of the divide between the Sloane family and the people who served them; and most of all, she had never imagined so many people could live in such proximity and keep such dark secrets.

Yet, while Sloane House is daunting, the streets of Chicago are downright dangerous. The World’s Fair has brought a new kind of crime to the city . . . and a lonely young woman is always at risk. But when Rosalind accepts the friendship of Reid Armstrong, the handsome young heir to a Chicago silver fortune, she becomes an accidental rival to Veronica Sloane.

As Rosalind continues to disguise her kinship to the missing maid—and struggles to appease her jealous mistress—she probes the dark secrets of Sloane House and comes ever closer to uncovering her sister’s mysterious fate. A fate that everyone in the house seems to know . . . but which no one dares to name.

Other Titles in the Series: Deception on Sable Hill, Whispers in the Reading Room

 The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden (read and reviewed)

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building his very successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before it spirals out of control, he returns to his ancestral home to save his brother and sister before it’s too late.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?

Other titles in the series: A Gilded Lady, The Prince of Spies

Veiled In Smoke by Jocelyn Green (Windy City Saga, Book 1)

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

Other titles in the series: Shadows of the White City

Books Shared with Me:

  • Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang
    • Other titles in the series: All In Good Time
  • Bride by Blackmail by Debbie Lynne Costello
  • Cameo Courtships Collection by Various Authors
  • Carousel Dreams by Various Authors (4 Stories of Love Spun on a Carousel)
  • A Daughter’s Inheritance by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller

    • Other titles in the series: An Unexpected Love, A Surrendered Heart

  • Enduring Dreams by Sandra Ardoin
    • Other Titles in the series: Rekindling Trust
  • If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath (Split-time, Fantasy, Historical)
  • Have Cash Will Marry by Renee Yancy
  • The Lightkeeper’s Daughter by Colleen Coble
    • Other titles in the series: The Lightkeepers Bride, The Lightkeepers Ball
  • Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

  • Serving Up Love Novella Collection by Various Authors
  • The Test of Gold by Renee Yancy



Check out these alternatives to Amazon:  Baker Bookhouse       Barnes & Noble      Books-a-Million      Book Depository      Bookshop.org      Christianbook.com      Get It Local      Indiebound.org

Leave Your Comments:

If you have a favorite book or author who writes in this time, put it in the comments so other readers can know who to go search out for options. Old or new, it doesn’t matter. 🙂

A New Short Story

A New Short Story

It’s hard to believe, but last month I turned in my first manuscript to my publisher for editing. As always, God’s timing is perfect. I turned in my manuscript on a Wednesday and that Friday, my mother-in-law ended up in the hospital. It’s been a few whirlwind weeks of tests without answers and lots of appointments. She is doing okay, but every day is different. Most days she can care for herself, but then there are days that she needs help with even walking.

Before all this happened it was my goal to have a short story written and edited for my newsletter subscribers and the draft of my second book 3/4 of the way done before edits on my first book came back. I’m happy to announce that I have met at least ONE of those goals (though I am a good way closer to my second book goal than before all this happened). I even created a cover, which is substantially better than the cover I designed for the deleted chapter. Without further ado, here is the cover and blurb for my short story:

Banking on Love

She expected to save her brother, not rob a bank.

November 1884

When Eunice Reed discovers her younger brother has been arrested for public intoxication, she travels from Cincinnati to Chicago to save him from himself. But public intoxication is the least of their problems. Irvin is tangled up with a dangerous bank robber. Will the love and ingenuity of a sister be enough to save Irvin from making the biggest mistake of his life?

This short story is exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. Not one yet? You can sign up here. My newsletter crew members are the first to know about titles, book covers, launch team member callouts, contests, and they get a monthly chance at winning a $15 Amazon gift card.

So was this post a shameless plug for my newsletter? Yep, but I put a lot of work into this 7500-word baby, and it’s one I hope you’ll enjoy.

June 2020 New Releases

June 2020 New Releases

It’s that time again! Tip your TBR pile over with all these great new releases!

June 2020 New Releases

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


Contemporary Romance:

Forever Home by Amy Grochowski — A Canadian Amish farmer proposes a convenient marriage to a Lancaster Amish businesswoman so they can join a new community welcoming married couples only. They are both surprised when a Prince Edward Island foster child finds her way to them in need of a home. Yet what will happen when the English world and the Amish world collide? (Romance from Ambassador International)

Start With Me by Kara Isaac — A professional woman and her old flame, who doesn’t remember her, are forced to work together when the companies they work for merge. (Romance, Independently Published)

A Father’s Promise by Mindy Obenhaus — Is he ready for fatherhood? He doesn’t think he deserves a family… But now he has a daughter. Stunned to discover he has a child, Wes Bishop isn’t sure he’s father material. But his adorable daughter needs him, and he can’t help feeling drawn to her mother, Laurel Donovan—a woman he’s finally getting to know. But can this sudden dad overcome a past tragedy that has him convinced he’s not meant to be a husband or a father…and make a promise of forever? (Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Historical:

Until June by Barbara M. Britton — When a young seamstress agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge, there’s enough friction to melt a glacier. (Historical from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler — As 1756 dawns, Isaac Lukens is torn between loyalty to his Lenape heritage and a childhood friend who needs to marry in order to raise her siblings after her father was killed by his people. (Historical from Avodah Books)

Persuaded: The Story of Nicodemus by David Harder — From the prison colony on Patmos, the Apostle John entrusts Nicodemus with manuscripts for the Christian fellowships increasing throughout the Roman Empire. While transcribing the manuscript, Nicodemus is prompted to recall his former life and his encounter with Yeshua – a man of mystery, a healer, a teacher, and a prophet. An encounter that changed everything. Under the cover of darkness, risking his reputation and endangering his life even further, it is here that Nicodemus realizes the world-changing power of the Good News . . . and what being a follower of Yeshua truly means. (Historical from Ambassador International)


Historical Romance:

Love’s Mountain Quest by Misty M. Beller — When a Rocky Mountain widow returns home from work to find her son and the woman watching him missing–and the sheriff dead–she enlists a man she prays has enough experience in this rugged country to help. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Damsel’s Intent by Mary Davis — Washington State 1893. Nicole Waterby has lived her whole life in the hills away from town due to her grandfather’s mistrust of people. But now he’s passed away, and Nicole is left to care for her two younger cousins. Feeling inadequate to handle the responsibility, she heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband. She doesn’t realize women don’t wear trousers, buckskins, or carry a gun. She has a lot to learn about being a lady if she’s going to catch a husband. And the quilting circle is just the group of women to help her. Rancher Shane Keegan has drifted from one location to another to find a place to belong. He longs to have a family of his own but feels doomed to live a life alone. When Nicole crosses his path, he wonders if he can have love, but he soon realizes she’s destined for someone better than a saddle tramp. Even though he knows there’s no future for him with the intriguing mountain girl, he still steps in to help her at every opportunity. Will love stand a chance while both Nicole and Shane try to be people they are not? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Line By Line by Jennifer Delamere — Since she was young, Alice McNeil has seen success as a telegrapher as the best use for her keen and curious mind. Years later, she has yet to regret her freedom and foregoing love and marriage, especially when she acquires a coveted position at an important trading firm. But when the company’s ambitious junior director returns to London, things begin to change in ways Alice could never have imagined. For Douglas Shaw, years of hard work and ingenuity enabled him to escape a life of grinding poverty. He’s also determined to marry into high society—a step that will ensure he never returns to the conditions of his past. He immediately earns Alice’s respect by judging her based on her skills and not her gender, and a fast camaraderie forms. However, when Alice accidentally angers a jealous coworker and his revenge threatens both their reputations, Alice and Douglas are forced to confront what is truly important in their lives. Will their growing bond give them the courage to see the future in a different light? (Historical Romance from Bethany [Baker])

An Appalachian Summer by Ann H Gabhart — After the market crash of 1933, the last thing Piper Danson wants is to flaunt her family’s fortune while so many suffer. Although she reluctantly agrees to a debut party at her parents’ insistence, she still craves a meaningful life over the emptiness of an advantageous marriage. When an opportunity to volunteer with the Frontier Nursing Service arises, Piper jumps at the chance. But, her spontaneous jaunt turns into something unexpected when she falls in love with more than just the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Widow & The War Correspondent by Linda Shenton Matchett — Are a new life and new love possible in a country devastated by war? Barely married before she was widowed after Pearl Harbor three years ago, journalist Cora Strealer travels to England where she’s assigned to work with United Press’s top reporter who thinks the last place for a woman is on the front lines. Can she change his opinion before D-Day? Or will she have to choose her job over her heart? A sought-after journalist, Van Toppel deserves his pick of assignments, which is why he can’t determine the bureau chief’s motive for saddling him with a cub reporter. Unfortunately, the beautiful rookie is no puff piece. Can he get her off his beat without making headlines…or losing his heart? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

An Impossible Price by Davalynn Spencer — With no husband of her own, midwife Sophie Price lives to keep others calm in their hour of need. But when a handsome horse handler steps off the train with a fiery stallion, he brings anything but calm as he looks her dead in the eye and clear through to her soul. Clay Ferguson returns to the place he once called home, hunting a fresh start and the one woman who could draw him back. If he can hide his battered heart and the brutality of his past, maybe she’ll take another look and give him a second chance. Both bear scars from their fathers. Both fight for life. Together, they may learn that love is worth its impossible price. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Mystery:

Pride and Pettiness by Elizabeth Ludwig — A hairdresser fears she may lose her business when appointments go terribly wrong. (Mystery from Guidepost Publications)


Romantic Suspense:

Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard — Investigative reporter Rae Burke will do anything to find her missing sister-in-law, even if it means facing Liam McKade, a man who almost lost his life saving hers. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin — Court reporter Teagan O’Rourke thinks her job taught her everything she needed to know about murder until a serial killer decides to teach her a new lesson–up and personal. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Direct Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson — One little girl. Two bodyguards. Only one chance to guard their hearts. Protection Inc. co-owner, Carissa Jones, an ex-cop turned bodyguard, has one goal—keep her young client safe. When her business partner brings in a new guy to help, she discovers her heart desires more. Can she still do her job and follow her heart without compromising her client’s safety? Marc Olsen, a former Military Police officer, struggles to find his way as a civilian. He agrees to help out an old friend for the summer. He gets more than he bargained for when he’s assigned to work with the feisty co-owner of Protection Inc. When sparks fly faster than bullets, will the bodyguards be distracted from their task, or will they work together as an even stronger team? (Romantic Mystery, Independently Published)

Imminent Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson — The Protection Inc. team is growing, and so is their client list. Former cop and new team member, Peter King, seeks to solve the mystery surrounding threatening notes being sent to Jenna Walsh. Facing an uncertain future, Jenna is afraid for her life. Will the team at Protection Inc., specifically Peter, be able to stop the threats before things escalate, or will tragedy strike before Peter is willing to face his growing attraction to Jenna? The team must divide and conquer when two big cases present themselves at the same time. Carissa Jones and Marc Olsen work to protect a young college student who is staying in the home of a federal judge. All work and no play has put a strain on their relationship. Can they find balance or will their fragile bond be extinguished? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Plain Refuge by Dana R. Lynn — On the run from hired gunmen, can she find safety in Amish country? After overhearing an illegal weapons deal, Sophie Larson knows two things: her uncle’s a dangerous criminal…and he wants her dead. Now undercover cop Aiden Forster has no choice but to blow his cover and protect Sophie by hiding her and her deaf sister in Amish country. But with a mole in the police force, danger isn’t far behind. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:

Evocatus by Burke Speed — Jamie is a young veteran with a painful history. He’s done battling for others…until the whole “fight for your life in a mini-mart” thing. Without warning, Jamie is attacked by a sword-wielding man and warned to stay away. From what, he’s not sure. Unexpectedly, he is invited to join a covert band of brothers that fights to keep these evil beings, called Malum, at bay. To accept their invitation is to add death matches against evil to his resume. To decline is to live . . . at least for a while. Kate is a beautiful barista and an important member of this undercover organization. She just might have the key to victory over the Malum but is kidnapped before she can tell what she knows. Everything hinges on a timely rescue of Kate as Jamie’s past and present collide. Now an Evocatus, a veteran called again to duty, Jamie must decide how far he’s willing to go to fight-and love-again. (Speculative from Ambassador International)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:


Three Steps Away
by Luana Ehrlich, Romantic Suspense
Perfect in His Eyes by Linda Goodnight, Contemporary Romance
Cross Shadow by Andrew Huff, Thriller/Suspense
That Place Called Home by D. L. Lane, Romance
Then There Was You by D. L. Lane, Romantic Suspense
The Same River Twice by Mark Medley, Adventure
Fade to White by Tara Ross, Young Adult
Doubly Dead by Lisa Wessel, Cozy Mystery

 

New Year Reading Goals and Challenges

Do you set reading goals? or participate in reading challenges?

Last year was the first I’d ever tried, and it didn’t quite go like I anticipated. Not only did I not read all the books I’d listed here last year on my beginning of the year goal page, I read less than I wanted to in general.

Sort of.

When I reevaluated my reading year, I discovered I read a ton more non-fiction than I first supposed, few of which I logged into Goodreads. I also read several full-length novels for critque partners…all of which are books not yet published and so can’t be entered into Goodreads. (But let me tell y’all, there are some AMAZING stories coming out in 2020.)

So this year, instead of claiming what and how many books I’m going to read at the beginning of the year, I’m just going to give myself freedom to have an ambiguous list with a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, and not-yet-published. 🙂

I AM going to start of my 2020 TBR pile with these books on top:

1865 – Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle – a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for – has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?  

Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him – it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…so much more.  

Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?

A feisty army laundress must disarm a grieving Confederate captain’s pride to win his heart. A minister’s daughter abandoned during war must rely on faith to survive. A wounded widower feels God has forsaken him. Will her devout care bring medicine to his soul or rub salt in his wounds? Ellen White is assigned to attend a debilitated artillery captain after the Battle of Second Manassas. She offers God’s strength, but Gideon Sharpe would rather rely on his own. He would prove himself devoted to his motherless infant daughters, the sort of father he never had.Ellen longs for the security of a home and to feel cherished. Can a jaded and broken man be God’s plan to fulfill her fondest hopes?

Can Love Form Amidst Tensions of War?

During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

So be on the lookout for these reviews to come up soon!

If you noticed the Civil War theme to the books, it’s because I’m researching and writing my own Civil War novel. Remember how I said I read a lot of non-fiction? This year is no different. I’ve already read three research books for the Civil War with sixteen more on my desk as I type. I can’t wait to share more with you.

What are your reading goals and challenges this year? Are there any books I should put on my reading radar?

Merry Christmas!

There is a meme floating around that in Iceland, they enjoy Christmas Eve as a day to exchange books, drink hot chocolate, and read. May your Christmas Eve be filled with blessings, love, and lots of reading.

The Announcement of Jesus – Luke 1: 26- 38 (HCSB)

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel  was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged  to a man named Joseph, of the house of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary. 

And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”  

But she was deeply troubled  by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 

Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen:You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob  forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man? ” 

The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth — even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

“I am the Lord’s slave,”  said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

The Birth of Jesus: Luke 2:1-7 (HCSB)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire  should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.  So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth  in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,  because he was of the house and family line of David,  to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him  and was pregnant. 

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough — because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

The Shepherds and the Angels – Luke 2:8-20

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before  them,  and the glory of the Lord  shone around them, and they were terrified.  

But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid,  for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today a Savior,  who is Messiah  the Lord,  was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you:  You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth  to people He favors!   

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed  at what the shepherds said to them. 

But Mary was treasuring up all these things  in her heart  and meditating on them. 

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God  for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

December 2019 New Releases (ACFW)

It’s time for the monthly TBR Pile Tip-Over. 😉 Also, CONGRATULATIONS Kim H. on winning the choice of one of my top six books I am thankful for from last week’s post. Check your email so we can exchange details!

Everyone else, HAPPY READING!!

December 2019 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Stranded for the Holidays by Lisa Carter — Running away led her right where she belonged. A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for. Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson — After a knockout first date where Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley claim to not want kids, both come home to find three children dropped in their laps. . . each. While struggling to keep their heads above the parental waters, and without wanting to break up their relationship, they decide to do the mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Home for Christmas by Candee Fick — After an embarrassing failure, a prodigal retreats to a secluded cabin in backwoods Missouri where he encounters an intriguing young woman and an old guitar. When the message in the music touches his heart, will he make it home in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna by Barbara James — While interning as a hospital chaplain, a young military officer falls for an EMT who is an antiwar activist. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Children’s:

Battle In The Valley by Susanne Blumer — The church bell tower transports Chip, Caroline and Billy back thousands of years to an ancient battlefield. There they meet a young shepherd destined to be king and a giant warrior bent on his destruction. Will the children survive the upcoming fight and make it back to Palmetto Island in one piece? (Middle-grade from Sutton Avenue Press)

Historical:

Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby — When a former legionary and a gladiator are hired to escort a young woman on her quest to rescue her brother and sister from slavery, more chains are broken by forgiveness and love than any of them thought possible. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Historical Romance:

The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings — In a western land run, an adventurous socialite stakes a claim on an orphaned outlaw’s chosen land, so he decides to stake a claim on her heart. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Sew In Love by Debby Lee, Jacquolyn McMurray, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse — When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love? In Hearts Sewn with Love, during the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t. In Woven Hearts, a shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help. In A Language of Love, a milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart. In Tailored Sweethearts, a parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear — During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Silent Night Suspect by Sharee Stover — Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit… All she wants for Christmas is to remember. Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative:

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig — After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

Thriller/Suspense:

Laynie Portland, Renegade Spy by Vikki Kestell — Laynie must fight to earn her place on the task force—even as unfolding events expose a looming danger. Wolfe’s task force has a leak . . . one that threatens them all. (Suspense, Independently Published)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Promise for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin, Historical Romance
Call to Love by Mary A. Felkins, Contemporary Romance
Joy’s Song by Ruth Kyser, Contemporary Romance
Hope Between Us by Christy LaShea, Contemporary Romance
The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Contemporary
Off the Ground by Catherine Richmond, Historical Romance
Crinoline Cowboys by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Historical Romance
A High-Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer, Historical Romance
The Christmas Gazebo by Marilyn Turk, Lenora Worth, Historical Romance

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