The Prairie Skies series has been a pleasure to read and one I will read again, which for me is rare. There are few straight romances which I will read, let alone reread. Yet, Cynthia Roemer always seems to bring more to a story than just romance. Her characters and storylines have depth and and life truths. Under Moonlit Skies had the touch of danger for the last third of the book that I crave. Soooo good. Of course it doesn’t hurt that part of the story takes place in my region. 😉 You can read the reviews of the first two books in the series Under This Same Sky and Under Prairie Skies.
Genre: Historical Romance, 1850s
Her life was planned out ~ until he rode in ~
Illinois prairie ~ 1859
After four long years away, Esther Stanton returns to the prairie to care for her sister Charlotte’s family following the birth of her second child. The month-long stay seems much too short as Esther becomes acquainted with her brother-in-law’s new ranch hand, Stewart Brant. When obligations compel her to return to Cincinnati and to the man her overbearing mother intends her to wed, she loses hope of ever knowing true happiness.
Still reeling from a hurtful relationship, Stew is reluctant to open his heart to Esther. But when he faces a life-threatening injury with Esther tending him, their bond deepens. Heartbroken when she leaves, he sets out after her and inadvertently stumbles across an illegal slave-trade operation, the knowledge of which puts him, as well as Esther and her family, in jeopardy.
What I loved: My favorite part is the danger and how Stew’s character really stands out in the midst of it. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say it has to do with the fact Cincinnati was a hotbed of activity during the years leading up to the Civil War.
Favorite Character: I really loved Stew. He was an imperfect man with a strength of character which one cannot help but love. He is sweet and committed. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but he does it anyway.
Who would like this: Anyone who loves stories with characters who struggle with becoming their own person, gentle romance, and a touch of danger. Also, those who enjoy a glimpse into pre-Civil War life in an area where blacks were free but always in danger.
Rating and Why: I gave this a four and half star rating. It was a great conclusion to the series which was different from each of the preceding plots and there was a continued demonstration of great character development. I love getting to see characters struggle and change in ways I 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: If you had a decision to make that would greatly disappoint and hurt a parent’s feelings, would you choose what they wanted for you or what you wanted most for yourself?
Hello, friends! I’ve got another debut author to introduce. Meet Kaitlin Covel who reached out to me via my contact form. I had the privilege of reading her novel Atoning for Ashes a few weeks ago and that review will go live next Tuesday. For now, I’d love for you to get to know the woman behind the words.
Kaitlin Covel has a thirst for adventure much like the heroines of her stories. She is an old-fashioned romantic, and if she could time travel to any historical period, it would be the Regency Era. Here in the 21st century, she is a certified Nutritional Therapy Technician, but writing is her passion, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Her debut novel, Atoning for Ashes, releases on February 14th, 2019 from Deep River Books. She has honed her craft since childhood, benefiting from the insights of other writers through professional writing associations such as the Jerry Jenkins Writer’s Guild and Hope*writers. She lives with her family in Maine, where she enjoys teaching the teen Sunday school class at her church. Her favorite things are family, books, history, chocolate, music, the ocean, and strong cups of tea. Visit her at www.kaitlincovel.com.
Sweet or Unsweet Tea?
Kaitlin:I know sweet tea is a big deal to everyone down south, but I prefer mine unsweetened!
Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?
Kaitlin: Definitely a beach vacation for me! Perhaps on Prince Edward Island!
Homebody or Love to Travel?
Kaitlin: I really love to travel. If I ever inherited a fortune like the heroines of novels, I would spend the first cent on a plane ticket to the first place on my bucket list: Paris, France!
Morning Person or Night Owl?
Kaitlin: I’m a night owl for sure!
Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?
Kaitlin: I love bookmarks!
Writing, Life, and God
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Kaitlin: My dream job as a child was to be a published author and see my books on a library shelf. I thank God for making my dream come true!
Crystal: I love when God makes the desires of our heart a reality.
What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
Kaitlin: Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, for he shall direct thy path.
I love this verse because it is a daily reminder to trust the Lord and rely upon Him in all circumstances. Life is complicated, but I know the Lord will direct my path if I acknowledge him in all my ways.
Crystal: That is a great one. Although, I confess every time I read that one, I do the little song with it that I used to teach it to my Sunday School kiddos.
What was the best advice someone ever gave you about writing, life, or anything that strikes your fancy?
Kaitlin: One of the greatest pieces of writing advice I ever received was to write until I was confident enough of my writing skills to share them with the world. I wrote short stories and several novels to practice my skills. I engaged in writing memberships and contests to polish my craft until I knew I was ready to attempt publication. This journey has taken me almost ten years, but I have loved every moment of it. I look forward to the next chapter of my publishing journey and all the new experiences that await me. I know I am doing what I was born to do!
Crystal: Very sound advice and we are excited to see where this journey brings you.
Josie Chadwick dreams of marrying for love in Cornwall, England, but with her father’s debt threatening to destroy all she holds dear, her romantic options are dwindling. When her elder sister Delia is disowned, Josie finds herself heiress of Chadwick Park, torn between dreams and duty. After sacrificing her heart to atone for Delia’s sin, Josie clings to the hope she will learn to love a distant husband, whom she fears is incapable of requiting her affection.
Atoning for Ashes
How did this story affect you as you wrote it? Did God teach you anything through the writing?
Kaitlin: God taught me so much through writing this story that I don’t even know where to begin… I think the biggest lesson God taught me in writing Atoning for Ashes was the unconditional nature of His love. I’d never really meditated on this aspect of our God, but because several main characters in my book struggle with a crisis of identity, I reflected on the unconditional nature of my God’s love and grace more than I ever had before.
Crystal: That unconditional nature is just so mindboggling to our human minds.
How do you come up with the names of your characters?
Kaitlin: I like to look at the census for the year my story is set if it is available. I’m always taking note of unusual period names when I’m watching period dramas or reading classic literature/biographies/memoirs. For surnames, I do a lot of research based on the setting, and I have fun exploring historical documents from the time period. It is a struggle, but I persevere until I’m satisfied with the ring of each characters’ full name!
Crystal: That is very cool. I love period- accurate names and am so glad you take the time to find them.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Kaitlin: Hmmm… I’ll try not to give any spoilers! There were several scenes that were fairly difficult to write, but the hardest scene of all was the scene where Josie and Charles eat dinner in their hotel room in Paris. It is quite an emotionally charged scene, and the climax in the dialogue occurs when Charles confesses a dark secret of his past.
Crystal: I can see where that would be a very difficult scene to write.
Fun, Zaney Question of the Day
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
Kaitlin: A trip to Paris, swimming with dolphins, and I’d love to go on a missions trip sometime!
Crystal: I hope those are things you get to enjoy at some point!
Readers, tell us what your top three things are on your bucket list, and be sure to check out Kaitlin’s debut book, Atoning for Ashes at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!
It’s already started out as another year of incredible busy-ness, so I picked up this audiobook from my library to enjoy while cleaning house and running errands. Let me tell you, this is one book you definitely want to hear on audio! Oh my goodness, I know reading it in print, as good as it was, would not have had the same impact as listening to the AWESOME narrator do all the Scottish voices and songs. AMAZING. I found myself even picking up a bit of the accent and rephrasing my speech to match for several hours after each listening session. Definitely, definitely get the audio.
Genre: Historical Romance, 1750’s – Scottland
Plot Overview: Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.
What I loved: Honestly my favorite part was the audio narration. As far as the book itself, I loved Laura’s way of describing things and creating tension throughout the story, and of course the amazing ending which had me literally biting my fist as I anticipated when things might occur. She has such an amazing way about her writing that transports you to a different land and time. The historical details are phenomenal.
Favorite Character: Magnus. Definitely Magnus. I loved Lark, but Magnus was a mand who is not without faults but is a man that makes you swoon. His faith, encouragement, and protect are dreamy.
Who would like this: Anyone who loves stories with amazing historical details, romances wrought with tension and surprises, and those who are looking for something different from the typical romance.
Rating and Why: Five-stars because of the emotional rollercoaster and the voice narration. Seriously, I can’t say that enough. Get this book on audio.
If you’ve read it, what did you like best about it?? (And label spoilers, please.) If you haven’t read it, what intrigues you about this story?
Howdy ho neighbors!!! 🙂 (Yes, a Home Improvement reference if you didn’t catch it. LOVE Wilson.) Today I am excited to introduce debut author Michelle De Bruin to you. She was one of my very first critique partners and it has been neat to see her novel transform from rough draft to printed book.
Michelle lives in Iowa with her husband and two teenage sons. She is the spiritual services provider for an organization that offers services for people with physical and mental disabilities. In this role, she offers grief care, teaches Bible studies, leads retreats, and writes devotionals. Michelle is also a worship leader on Sunday mornings directing the choir, playing piano, or singing.
A romantic at heart, Michelle is always on the lookout for glimpses of God’s love through the window of a good story.
So let’s get to know this wonderful woman!
Sweet or Unsweet Tea?
Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?
Homebody or Love to Travel?
Morning Person or Night Owl?
Michelle: Neither one!
Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?
Michelle: Definitely bookmark
When Logan De Witt learns of his father’s sudden death, he returns home to the family’s dairy farm. During his stay, he discovers his mother’s struggle with finances and his younger sister’s struggle with grief. Concern for his family presses Logan to make the difficult decision to leave his career as a pastor and stay on the farm. As a way to make some extra money, he agrees to board the teacher for their local school.
Karen Millerson arrives from Chicago ready to teach high school but her position is eliminated so she accepts the role of country school teacher. Eager to put her family’s ugly past behind her, Karen begins a new career to replace the trust she lost in her own father who had been in ministry when she was a child.
Logan and Karen both sense a call from the Lord to serve him, but neither of them expected that one day they would do it together.
Can Karen learn to trust again? Will Logan lay aside his grief in exchange for God’s purpose for his life? Life, Writing, and God
Writing, Life, and God
Why do you write historical fiction?
Michelle: The historical fiction genre is a venue where I can share conservative values on issues like morality, family, and Scripture interpretation. It also gives me a reason to go back into my own family heritage and honor the people who have gone before me.
Crystal: Historical fiction is one of my favorites for a lot of those reasons.
What has God taught you along your publication journey?
Michelle: God has taught me that he is bigger than the scope of my dreams, and that He still performs miracles.
Crystal: God really does like to show off and make our dreams bigger than we can imagine.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Michelle: Writing energizes me. I have to do it. Writing helps me examine my life and heart, and it helps me apply truth to my ordinary existence.
Crystal: I love how writing is a reflective experience for both the writer and the reader.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Michelle: I didn’t consider a pseudonym, but I did toy with the idea of hyphenating my name when I realized my writing might actually amount to something. My married name, De Bruin, is a Dutch surname comprised of two words. My maiden name, Van Zante, is also Dutch and includes two words. I decided a hyphenation was too confusing and expected too much from my readers when trying to figure out pronunciation or finding me on-line.
Crystal: I can see where that would be difficult. I think you made the right decision.
Which character was the most fun to create? What makes them fun?
Michelle: Reverend Logan De Witt was the most fun to create because of his sense of humor. He also gets nervous around pretty girls. This makes him stutter and get his words all mixed up at times when he needs to communicate important messages, like during his sermons and convincing someone to go out with him.
Crystal: I love the bumbling hero. They are so cute when struggling around the women they like.
Fun, Zaney Question of the Day
If you could be any animal, which would it be?
Michelle: We have a rabbit as a family pet. I would probably be a rabbit. Rabbits like to hide in cozy corners and don’t lose their “cuteness” when they are full grown.
Crystal: That is too true! I’ve never seen an ugly rabbit! And thank you so much, Michelle for doing this interview!
Readers, be sure to check out Michelle’s debut book, Hope for Tomorrow at Amazon or Barnes and Noble! For a chance to win an e-copy from me, just comment below with your answer to the Fun, Zaney Question of the Day!
Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston — Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis — Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron — Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman — Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)
My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham — Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller — Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick — With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse — Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
Devotion by Olivia Rae — Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)
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