Under Moonlit Skies by Cynthia Roemer
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?
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I am so excited to get back into the swing of things and dig into some great books. Which ones are on your TBR pile?
November 2018 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Contemporary Romance: Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin — In the small town of Jingle Junction, Holly Winters owns the local coffee shop, Jolly Java. It’s here that she meets Patrick Cooper and promptly throws coffee everywhere. Not only does Patrick not like coffee, he also despises Christmas! It’s up to Holly to show Patrick that Christmas is worth giving a second chance, just as Patrick himself deserves a second chance when he is accused of robbing a local convenience store. In a town full of Christmas spirit, lively debates over the best superhero and riding in a sleigh pulled by actual reindeer is just a normal day. Will Holly be able to prove to Patrick that Christmas is more than a holiday that has to be endured? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick — Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding. Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile. What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter — When his secret crush joins a dating website, Jack takes a leap of faith and soon becomes Daisy’s online suitor. But when they begin growing closer in real life also, Jack finds himself with an unexpected dilemma. Is Daisy falling for the real Jack or for the online version of himself? And how is she going to respond when she finds out they’re one and the same? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker — Baxter Reid returns to his hometown of Romance, eager to see his childhood crush. Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t forgotten all the ways he used to tease her back then. He’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to get a second chance. Savannah Miller avoids Baxter and the embarrassing childhood memories he evokes…until he apologizes and suggests a truce. Now what is she supposed to do? Only time will tell whether the spirit of Christmas in Romance is enough to transform a grudging relationship into true love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
I Still Do by Melanie D. Snitker — What’s worse than running into your ex-husband? Becoming snowbound with him and an avalanche of memories you can’t escape. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Contemporary/Women’s Fiction: A Southern Season by Eva Marie Everson, Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda Yezak — Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Second Chances by Carol Ashby — A widowed father, still grieving the loss of his wife and child, and a devoted mother, who leaves behind everything she’s ever known to rescue her daughter from the ex-husband who would hurt her, are first drawn together by their love for her little girl, but God has much more for them than either could have imagined. (Historical, Cerrillo Press)
Murder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett — May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. (Historical Mystery, Independently Published)
The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, and Marilyn Turk — Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 at Great Lakes Lighthouses bring hope to the lonely lighthouse keepers and love to weary hearts. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart — Two sisters have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864–just in time for things to go very badly for the Southerners at the Battle of Franklin. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Uncharted Journey by Keely Brooke Keith — Young widow Eva Vestal assumes loneliness is God’s permanent plan for her life. She keeps busy by raising her son and co-managing the Inn at Falls Creek with her elderly father, but her heart yearns for more. Solomon “Solo” Cotter has spent his life working with horses, but he secretly wants to write a book of the children’s stories his grandfather told him as a boy. He barters with Eva’s father for a 40-night stay at the inn, a needed respite from work to get his stories on paper. Once Eva discovers the barter, she believes Solo is taking advantage of her father’s failing memory. But when tragedy strikes and Solo works hard to save the inn, Eva sees his true nature. As her heart stirs with feelings for Solo, she wrestles with the guilt of loving someone new. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer — Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook. Maimed in a childhood accident at Christmas, she believes she is beyond love’s reach—until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s home with a busted leg and a bullet-creased scalp. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, he is at the mercy of a country doctor whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his heart and open his eyes to the impossible. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)
Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin — After Nina Fischer is accused of murdering her uncle and adopted father, she must unlock deadly family secrets in order to clear her name and learn to trust love again. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
North by Starlight by Diane and David Munson — Attorney Madison Stone hurries to help her client Jordan Star defeat a mysterious relative who claims a share in his inheritance, and during the Christmas season Maddie learns to leave past regrets behind her, embrace the warmhearted people of Starlight, and dig deep to find her true heart. (Romantic Suspense from Micah House Media)
Her Deadly Reunion by Beth Ann Ziarnik — What will it cost an estranged daughter when she meets her birth father at his home and discovers it’s a dangerous place to mix past and present? (Romantic Suspense from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse — When the new Lady of Ravenwood inherits her family’s secret gift of dreamwalking, she discovers a dark history. Women in her family have been wielding the gift to preserve her family’s legacy—through assassinations. She’s determined to find the true reason behind the gift, convinced there must be a more noble purpose. But she’s torn about upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people. What will she do when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations–but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house? One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (High Fantasy from Bethany House [Baker])
Stratagem by Robin Caroll — Psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux creates mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s for their executive retreat, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. (Suspense from Barbour Publishing)
See bottom for the giveaway winner.
A Love Restored
by Kelly Goshorn
Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Virginia 1873
Overview of Plot:
Ruth Ann is a kind-hearted person with a passion for teaching at the Freedman’s School for Negro children and adults…but her less-than-petite frame binds her as tightly as the shackles of her former slave students did. Pushed by her mother toward a wealthy, up-and-coming political leader as her only hope for marriage, she longs for a marriage built on love and a man who loves her for who she is and what she looks like.
Benjamin Coulter wants to escape his past and earn the respect of every man by having an envious job, good clothes, and a beautiful wife. Falling for Ruth Ann is natural, but when his choice is ridiculed by those whose approval he seeks, he struggles with what to do.
Sometimes learning to love ourselves and others comes with life-altering mistakes.
Favorite Character and Why:
Ruth Ann is my favorite, purely because I can see her struggles as my own. She is a real person with real struggles. Her pain was my pain. You can’t help but become Ruth Ann in your mind and rejoice with her, grieve with her, and be restored with her.
What I liked:
I typically am not a big fan of books that make me cry, but this one did and I still liked it. I really connected with Ruth Ann. Her struggles touched a tender personal nerve, a nerve I feel will resonate with many–if not all–women. Even Benjamin’s struggles resonated with my experiences with men I have known. I can’t speak personally for men, but it seemed a believable problem.
Who would like this:
Anyone who loves a sweet romance with lots of emotional ups and downs, books that might touch a tender nerve but will grow you, or stories of restoration.
“With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to Society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earns him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect he craves. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?”
Links for Purchase:
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Congratulations to Trisha R.! You’ve won an e-copy of A Love Restored. Check your e-mail and spam box for information on how to claim it.
Today I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jennifer Uhlarik, a wonderful historical romance author. If you are into reading the novella collections that are so popular right now you might already recognize her name. Now I get the joy of giving you a glimpse of the person behind those delightful stories. At the end of the interview, check out your chance to win a copy of one of the novella collections she has a story in.
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
Ready to go beyond the blurb? You’ll be glad you took the time to get to know her.
Sweet or Unsweet Tea?
J.U.: Sweet! Like…REALLY SWEET. Cavity-inducing sweet! Anything else is just colored water. 😉
Crystal: A true southern girl, no doubt! Love the, “Anything else is just colored water.”
Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?
J.U.: I live in Florida, so beaches are prevalent. I’d prefer a mountain getaway. It feels far more exotic to me!
Crystal: We just got finished vacationing in your area. Definitely a great place to visit, but I can see getting tired of the beaches.
Homebody or Love to Travel?
J.U.: Can I say both? When I’m home…I want to be home in my comfy clothes and chilling with those I love. But I adore traveling too—from planning the trip to sightseeing and hitting all the museums and historic sights each new place has to offer. I guess you could say we’re go-go-go on vacation, and stay-stay-stay at home. LOL
Crystal: Ha, sounds like home might be more relaxing. 😉
Morning Person or Night Owl?
J.U.: Hmmm. This is a hard one. I’m somewhat both. I wake usually around 7:15 in the morning, but I’ll stay up until midnight most nights—and 2 AM if I’m really flowing in my writing.
Crystal: I’d put you in the night owl category then! People who enjoy being up before 6:00, those are the crazy morning people. 7:15 sounds reasonable to me.
Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?
J.U.: I’m strictly a bookmark girl! My husband is a dog-ear guy. I cringe every time he turns down a corner, and I have to resist screaming, “STOP, you animal!”
Crystal: I just cringed right along with you. Eek!
The Writing Journey
What is the hardest part about being an author? What is the easiest?
J.U.: The hardest part of being an author for me is balance. I can be very one-track-minded, so when I’m writing, everything else gets ignored. That’s great for the word-count, but my husband likes to eat each evening, and we often have errands to run, or the house needs cleaning. So keeping all the parts of my life balanced tends to be really hard!
The easiest thing is dreaming up new characters to write about and new adventures for them to experience. It seems I have far more story ideas than I have time to write them.
Crystal: Clean houses and meals aren’t really necessary, right?
What are your “have to haves” when it is time to write?
J.U.: A bottle of water or two, a pad of paper and my favorite pen, a blanket to cover my legs, and my dog Gracie. She is my “helper dog,” and she races me to my writing room each day, ready to get to work! (Her version of work is napping on her dog bed in the corner while I slave away at the keyboard, but she makes for good company for those long, lonely hours).
Crystal: I love that you have a writing buddy. She sounds adorable.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
J.U.: Luke 1:45—Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.
This verse came to my attention one Christmas season years ago when I was waiting for a promise from God to come about in my life. I’d been through a tough divorce, was raising a child alone, and God had promised me that if I would seek Him first, that there was another (better) marriage in my future. From the first time I heard that verse, it became a lifeline to me as I waited on God’s promise to come true, and even after I was married, I’ve hung onto that verse for each new promise God gives me.
Crystal: I love that story and seeing how God does bless those who believe what He has said.
First Love Forever Romance Collection
Heartfelt Echoes by Jennifer Uhlarik
1875—Virginia City, Nevada: A short, urgent letter mentioning his childhood love, Millie Gordon, forces deaf Travis McCaffrey to turn to his estranged birth father for help rescuing the woman he can’t forget.
Crystal: I just have to say, I absolutely LOVE Travis and Millie. Of all the novellas I have ever read, I think they are my favorite.
What drew you to create deaf characters?
J.U.: Wow! I am humbled that my characters are your favorites! Thank you. What an honor!
Travis and Millie are characters that appeared in a previous novella, Mountain Echoes, which I wrote for the Courageous Brides Collection. In that story, Travis was a 12-year-old boy who’d lost his hearing the year before. The heroine of Mountain Echoes, Hannah, crossed the Sierras by stagecoach to pick him up and transport him back to San Francisco to attend the California School for the Deaf. I brought Millie into the story in one of the last scenes of Mountain Echoes, one of Travis’s new friends in his new environment. So when I learned the theme of the First Love Forever collection, they were the characters that came to mind. There was already a foundation laid for their romance, and it was simply a matter of them telling me how they were separated.
Beyond having a “history” with Travis and Millie, I have always loved sign language. During my teens, one of my best friends had a sister who was deaf, so I was exposed to sign language and the deaf culture a little through their family. I guess something stuck from my experiences with them because I have known for a long time that I would like to write a story about a deaf character. It was a challenge, making sure I didn’t write any sounds into that story, but I love a good challenge.
Crystal: I didn’t realize there was another story with Travis and Millie. I will definitely have to check that out. I love how you used the experience of your friends to create a story that others might not have been exposed to otherwise.
I especially loved how Millie had gone through a surgery that affected her. From my own research, that detail was so true to life.
Who or what inspired you to create Millie the way you did?
J.U.: I can credit Millie’s surgery and its effect on her to a wonderful group of friends who helped me brainstorm this story. When we got the word that Barbour Publishing wanted the collection, I had, at most, a synopsis that was roughly a paragraph long, and it may have been only a sentence. As I got to thinking about the story as I’d envisioned it when I wrote the very brief description, I realized that it had some flaws, and I would need to restructure some things. Fortunately, I was headed to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and signed up for the brainstorming class. In that class, the eight participants each discussed the respective stories represented in the group, and someone threw out the idea of Millie having had a surgery…and the effect it had on her. As soon as the idea was put out, we all knew it was a must for this story. So I can credit Lynette’s brainstorming class—and particularly Patty Smith Hall, since she’s the one who put the idea out there to begin with.
Crystal: How wonderful to have such a wonderful group of people to help you brainstorm.
This novella collection is about First Love Forever. Most people I know dream of finding one person to love and cherish for an entire lifetime, but marriage can be tough.
What is the best piece of advice for marriage you have ever heard?
J.U.: This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. As I mentioned above, I went through a divorce and spent a decade as a single mom before I found love again. God was gracious to me and brought me my Dave—my best friend who is funny, kind, giving, and amazing in so many ways. He makes marriage seem easy (though, no…no marriage is truly easy—at least not all the time. Marriages take work, but when you’re with the right person, the work doesn’t seem so hard).
When Dave and I were planning our wedding, our pastor made an offhand comment during a planning meeting that both Dave and I immediately locked onto. The pastor said, “Marriage isn’t about finding the right person. It is about being the right person.” As soon as the words crossed his lips, we each immediately recognized that our marriage needed to be more than expecting our other half to meet our every need or make us happy all the time. Rather than being self-focused, we needed to have the outlook of “how can I make his (or her) life easier? What does he (or she) need from me now?” Sure, we falter from that at times, but by and large, we’ve had eleven years of marital success by living by this principle—thinking of our other half before ourselves.
Crystal: Beautiful, wonderful advice. It is something I hope many take to heart.
Fun Question of the Day:
If you could spend the day with any author you wanted (past or present), who would it be?
J.U.: I think I’d have to say Louis L’Amour. It was his books that made me fall in love with the western genre. He was a wealth of knowledge about the west, history, and so much more. It would’ve been quite a dream to meet him and listen to the stories he had to tell of his various adventures and experiences in life.
Want to learn more? You can find Jennifer on the following:
Alright, beloved readers, it is the time you all have been waiting for! This time I am giving the winner a copy of Of Rags and Riches Romance Colletion if in the contiguous U.S. or an e-copy of Oregon Trail Romance Collection if not. Just comment below AND use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. Entries are open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 4/17/2018 and close on Monday, 4/23/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced on the First Love Romance Collection Review the next day.
*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.*
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Genre: Historical Romance, 1730’s, Carribean/New Orleans
Plot Overview: 12-year-old Maribel is taken from her home by her pirate father who is thrown overboard when privateers take over the ship. Believed orphaned Captain Jean Beaumont takes her onto his vessel until better arrangements can be made. Over the months together, her spitfire ways worm their way into his heart. When circumstances separate them and allow them to believe each other is dead, they move forward with their lives only to be reunited eleven years later with danger hampering their every move.
What I loved: I loved the high seas adventure aspect of this book. I grew up loving books like Treasure Island, Three Musketeers and the such, so there were parts of this book that threw me back to my childhood and I relished the danger and adventure.
Favorite Character: Israel, the African man rescued from a slave trade vessel. He was a strong Christian figure and full of wisdom. He cared for both Jean and Maribel to a high degree and his loyalty was like no other.
Further Thoughts: While this book is a romance it doesn’t really have a ton of romance in the traditional sense. Half of the book occurs when Maribel is twelve and the rest when she is an adult. Their shared history made the spark happen very quickly, but it still didn’t feel fully romantic.
Who would like this: Anyone who loves adventure with a touch of romance.
Rating and Why: I gave this a four-star rating because while I did really enjoy the story, it was not really a mystery like the blurb tends to make you think and the romance aspect was cute but not fully developed as they entered the adult stage.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher/author. I was in no way required to leave a review, and the above review is my honest opinion.
Join the discussion: What is the best adventure book or movie you have ever read or seen?
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