Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book review: A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears


Love for a child brings them together, but is it enough to keep them together?

A Bride at Last is the third book in the Unexpected Brides series.  It is about Silas Jonesey, a homesteader in the 1880s who was given up by his mother, then abandoned by his wife Lucinda.  On her deathbed, Lucinda asks him to come to her, but he arrives after her passing.  That is when he learns that he has a son, Anthony.  Anthony is being cared for by his teacher, Kate Dawson.  As they contend with each other for custody of Anthony, Richard Fitzgerald shows up at Lucinda’s funeral, claiming that Anthony is his son.

Silas’ and Kate’s days are filled with time together because of Anthony.  Each is attracted to the other, but their troubled pasts and their commitments to their livelihoods threaten to keep them apart.

This book is filled with many plot twists, and I enjoyed it very much.  I wish that I had read the previous books in the series, because I didn’t know if references to their pasts were from previous books, or part of the current story.

I admired how the main characters were committed to doing what was right, first for Anthony, then for each other.  Near the end of the book, Kate’s thoughts were, “If Silas was trying to be a better man, she’d work to become a better woman.”

Those who enjoy historical, especially “prairie” fiction will certainly enjoy this book.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:


Much to her introverted self’s delight, Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be an elementary home school teacher, day-care provider, church financial secretary, and historical romance novelist.  She doesn’t have to leave her house to be a housekeeper either, but she’s doubtful she meets the minimum qualifications to claim to be one in her official bio.  Her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly.  Find her online at www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book review: Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason


Hold on to your horses!  Irish Meadows is a book that races on with its many plot twists and colorful characters!

Irish Meadows is a Long Island estate, home of the O’Leary family.  The O’Learys board, breed, and train racehorses, but there are rumors of a ban on racing, which threatens the livelihood of the family.  James O’Leary, and his father before him, have worked too hard to get where they are, to lose it all now.  James gets desperate, and sees opportunities for advancing his business by making alliances, through his adult children, with his wealthy and well-connected clientele and neighbors.  His children all have their own dreams, which don’t line up with their father’s wishes.

What a cast of characters!

James, the father, the domineering head of the household
Kathleen, the mother, and the spiritual head of the household
Colleen, the beautiful older daughter, who is not afraid to use her looks to her advantage
Brianna, the intelligent and personable younger daughter, who longs for the love and acceptance of her father
Gil, an orphaned young man, who has been taken in as one of the family; fiercely loyal to James, and grateful for his support, especially since James funded his education
Adam, the older brother, who is resentful of Gil’s place in the family
Rylan, a distant cousin from Ireland, who is staying with the family while he completes his seminary studies
Deirdre and Connor, younger siblings who are cute and don’t cause trouble

Sometimes outrageous, sometimes tender, sometimes passionate, sometimes desperate, this book has it all.  The first of the Courage to Dream series by debut novelist Susan Anne Mason, it is filled with lessons learned by each character, and the transformations each goes through as they learn to rely on God and seek His will in their lives. 

I really loved the quick pace and was amazed at the many plot twists, and the solidly developed characters.  I recommend this book for those who like romance and historical fiction.  I’m certainly looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
And, the cover is absolutely captivating.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Susan Anne Mason’s debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Chapters of RWA.  A member of ACFW, as well, she lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children.  She can be found online at www.susanannemason.com.

Author interview, recipe, and giveaway!


I recently posted a review of To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino.

Today we get to talk to Rebecca to find out more about her book, her writing, and her inspiration.

Congratulations on the release of your new book, To Capture Her Heart!  Tell us a bit about it.

Thank you so much! I am really delighted to be here. Here’s a synopsis of my second novel in The Southold Chronicles:  In 1653 Heather Flower, a princess of the Montauk tribe, is celebrating her wedding feast when a rival tribe attacks, killing the groom and kidnapping her. Though her ransom is paid, she is nonetheless bound by her captors and left to die—until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

Still tender from her loss, Heather Flower begins to heal in the home of Englishman Ben Horton, a longtime friend of her people. But despite Ben’s affectionate attentions, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome Dutchman who saved her from certain death.  Can she find peace again among her own people?  Or will her growing affection for her rescuer draw her into conflict with everyone she loves?  Loyalty or love?

1. Rebecca, how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
 
This aspect just amazes me. I always thought I would write contemporary suspense with a touch of romance and a Christian worldview. But when I sat down to write my first novel, it was a historical about my Puritan ancestors! Talk about getting into the thick of things. So while I think there is definitely a message that comes out in my writing, I write to entertain through story and To Capture Her Heart, like book one of The Southold Chronicles, is a love story I hope my readers enjoy. The spiritual thread that touched my heart as I researched the book is that we are all God’s children, no matter who we are or where we came from.

  1.      What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?  
It was when I watched my dad, Howard Worley, type “The End” for his novel, The Stagecoach Murders. He began writing that book at age 87, because I was writing a novel.  He would send me each chapter in a priority envelope as he finished them, and he was amazing me. Then when he was almost finished he required open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve.  Two days later he had a major stroke.  His recovery is a whole other story, but I was able to help him type the last four chapters while he dictated, and then we published it through Create Space.  Watching him autograph a copy for me was my second greatest moment, followed closely by his book signing at his 90th birthday party.  He’s 92 now!

  1.      Who/What spurs you to write?  Where do your story and character ideas come from?  
I grew up listening to my mom’s stories about Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandfather and how he came across the pond from England on a ship called The Swallow, in the 1600’s. When my brother became interested in genealogy, we discovered there was a lighthouse named after Barnabas, located on Long Island. I asked my mom if she’d like to go there, and off we went. There was a lot of interesting information about Barnabas.  He was a baker and a very recent widower with two young sons when he met my ninth great-grandmother, Mary, in Mowsley, England.  But I could find very little about her, and I began to wonder about what dreams and motivation she had, and courage she must have possessed when she married and then left her family behind for the wilds of Long Island.  A few years later, I began writing my first novel in a quest to give her a voice.  While researching that book, A Place in His Heart, I uncovered a nugget of information about a Montaukett woman called Heather Flower. She is said to be the daughter of Grand Sachem Wyandanch, and I wanted to use the tidbit in book one.  But the decade did not fit.  So I took book two, To Capture Her Heart, up a decade and she became my heroine!  The Hortons and Southold provide the backdrop of the story and sweet Ben Horton is all grown up. It was such a fun book to research and write!

  1.      What was the greatest challenge in writing this book?
After time management (isn’t that a problem for us all?) the greatest challenge is also something I enjoy the most – the research! Though some documents exist such as Barnabas’s will, and some that pertain to his landholdings and tenure as a magistrate, I didn’t have any diaries or letters. And I found many controversies of “facts.”  Heather Flower’s existence is an example.  Some believe her to be a myth, others say she existed but was not Quashawam.  Though that could be frustrating at times, it also afforded some leeway, which is nice when you are writing fiction!

  1.      Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I was born in a car and have been on the move ever since. My dad delivered me, and my sisters can still remember standing in the picture window of our house with the babysitter and Dad holding me up so they could get a glimpse. He was a career Navy pilot and my husband was a career officer in the Air Force. I retired as a service director from United Airlines in 2008 and settled in the Pacific Northwest. I’m blessed with three beautiful daughters, eight beautiful grandchildren, and when I married my sweet husband in 2006, he added a charming son and a beautiful daughter and three more beautiful grandchildren to the count. I should say we are empty nesters, with all of those kids happily settled with their own spouses, which gives me time to be a full time writer!

  1.      What’s next for you?

I just turned in the manuscript for the third book in The Southold Chronicles. It moves up another decade—to 1664—and Patience Terry, the young girl who sailed with the Hortons on The Swallow is my heroine. My working title was Pure Patience and I love her story! And I love the editing phase of a book, so I’m looking forward to that. To Follow Her Heart release next July!

I'm looking forward to reading Patience's story!






Now for a little treat-Rebecca shares her recipe for Ginger cookies!  She writes:

"Growing up, I always knew Christmas would soon be here when the ginger cookies baked by Grandmother Horton arrived by mail, carefully wrapped in a green Frederick and Nelson's shirt box!  She baked them for us each year and when she could not, my mother continued the tradition.  I have tried to do the same, baking them each December for my three daughters and grandchildren.  My 9th great-grandfather, Barnabas Horton, was a baker from Mowsley, England, and I like to think the cookie genes came from him!  The following recipe is Grandmother's original.  I use canola oil instead of the Mazola.  These are delicious with a glass of icy cold milk, but I enjoy them with a steaming cup of coffee or tea, too!"



Grandmother Horton’s Ginger Cookies


Combine 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup Mazola oil, 1 egg, 4 T molasses, 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 level tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp ginger.

Mix well, roll into small balls. Dip in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove to rack and cool.


I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!





Thanks, Rebecca. I can't wait to try these! And I will love the history behind them when I do!

And now. . . giveaway time! As Rebecca celebrates the release of To Capture Her Heart with a blog tour, she is also giving away signed copies of her books and gift cards!



To Capture Her Heart Book Launch

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book review: In Good Company by Jen Turano




Poor Millie.  She was dismissed from another nannying position, and in attempting to secure a new opportunity, runs into Oliver Addleshaw’s friend Everett Mulberry.  Everett was in desperate need of a nanny for his three young wards, but knowing of Millie’s many previous childcare mishaps, did not want her to care for the children.  However, nannies were pouring out of his house like a sieve, so, in desperation, he employs Millie to watch the children as they take a summer trip to Newport, Rhode Island, with Everett’s lady-friend, Caroline Dixon.

Millie is an energetic, fun-loving young lady, with a real heart for children.  She has wisdom to understand them, and is an advocate for her new charges.  Raised in an orphanage, she is also determined to overcome her lack of education, and always tries to improve herself by reading and learning new words.  She even keeps a dictionary in her pocket.  This ensures some laugh-out-loud dialogue!  Everett, however, is preoccupied with being a part of the high society social scene, and appeasing Caroline. 

As a result of Millie’s influence, Everett begins to get to know and appreciate the children, and to question the values and attitudes of the company he keeps.

There is no shortage of adventures and mishaps with Millie around, which makes this a fun book to read.  There is also suspense, and, of course, romance.

The second of Jen Turano’s A Class of Their Own series, this lighthearted novel is sure to delight its readers.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Jen Turano, author of six books, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles.  She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.  Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book review: To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino



1653 Long Island.  Settled by Dutch, English, and native tribes, there was turmoil and unrest.  Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren and English settler Ben Horton both vie for the heart of Heather Flower, a Montaukett Indian princess.  As the Dutch, English, and Indian nations work for peaceful solutions to their differences, each man and Heather Flower must search their own hearts to find God’s path for their lives. 

Throughout the story, strong themes of community, sacrifice, and perseverance came through.  After Heather Flower was rescued from the warring tribe that kidnapped her and killed her husband, she chose to live with her aunt near the town of Southold.  There she was embraced and lovingly brought into the community.  She was hardworking and always willing to help, even though she was brought up as a princess.

Author Rebecca DeMarino’s ancestors once again are the characters in this historical romance, the second book of The Southold Chronicles.  This is a lovely book that will charm those who love to immerse themselves in another time and place.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Rebecca DeMarino writes love, legends, and lore as a historical romance author and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading, and writing from her dad, and the wanderlust gene from both parents.  Her travels have taken her from Alaska to Nebraska and Florida, from Long Island to England and Italy, and from Washington, DC to Texas, California, and Guam.  But usually you can find her at home, enjoying her grandchildren and baking crisp little ginger cakes.  Learn more at rebeccademarino.com.