Monthly Archives: July 2015

A Keeper’s Giveaway

Hello everyone! Sorry for this being a day late. Yesterday was… crazy to say the least. But, before we get into this week’s post, there’s something I have to take care of first. Last week’s winner!

And the winner is… *drumroll* Beverly Allen! Congratulations on your copy of that amazing book, Beverly!

Now, for this week’s post, and guess what? ANOTHER GIVEAWAY! A very special thanks to today’s author, Sarah E Ladd, for offering one copy of her book to a US resident. Be sure to read down to find out how to enter.

Now, what book is being given away? Why, that would be her latest, The Curiosity Keeper. Let me tell you, this book was incredible! But, before I get into that, why don’t I let you know just what the book is about.

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whomever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

So… intrigued? Well, here are my thoughts on it:

This book is yet another shining example of this author’s wonderful spin on the regency novel. She takes the regency setting, the class situations, and weaves them with a unique and intriguing tale. I may have stayed up past midnight finishing it, but let me tell you, it was so worth it! The characters just jump from the page, crawl in your heart, and refuse to let go. Camille is a wonderful example of a strong woman. She practically runs her father’s store, makes her own decisions as to her future, but is not afraid to accept generosity and help when needed. She is humble in her receiving of assistance, and only accepts what is needed. I loved that she was so strong, but not arrogant to refuse help when handed to her. And she doesn’t shy away from an adventure; she may be grounded, with a level head, but she’s open to new possibilities when presented, and is more than willing to adapt when needed. Then there’s Jonathan. He is a bit reserved, perfectly content in his work as apothecary, and not all too thrilled at being the heir to his family’s legacy. The very last thing he wants is to go on an adventure, but doesn’t have a choice when his father throws him into it. I love watching these two together, especially since Camille is such a strong, almost stubborn, woman and Jonathan has a deep heart to help others. Throw into the mix a ruby of extreme value, and desperate, and dangerous, people bent on finding it. I love the intrigue surrounding the gem, the mystery about its location, and even the rumor of the curse that comes with it. With so many after the item, Camille and Jonathan must learn who to trust, and whether they can even trust the one person they’re falling for. This is certainly an enjoyable read, a great regency mixed with a suspenseful mystery, and one I dearly recommend.

I have to say a very special thanks to Sarah Ladd for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review. And honestly, I loved it! lol.

BUT the fun’s not done yet. I have the very special honor to welcome Sarah Ladd here! She was gracious enough to take some time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did. 🙂

1: I have to say, I love that you write regency with a little ‘meat’ on it. What draws you to the regency era?

There is so much to love about the Regency Era – the gowns, the manners, the balls … but as wonderful as these are, there is so much more to the Regency Era to appreciate! I am especially fascinated by the complexities of the social structures of this time period. This is the time that the middle class was emerging. The Napoleonic Wars were underway. The Industrial Revolution and the Romantic Eras were in full swing. With so much going on, the setting is rich for creating complex and interesting plots and characters.

2: As this book is the beginning of a new series, did you find it difficult to leave your previous trilogy and characters behind to start a new story?

I love my characters in the Whispers on the Moors series, and I really enjoyed writing their stories, but I always like starting new projects. New stories are a fresh slate, and once I finish a book, my mind just starts planning the next one!

3: I have to say, you have some very unique names for your characters; they’re ones that I don’t read every time I turn around. How do you decide on the characters’ names?

Sometimes it can be tricky naming characters in historical novels because you have to make sure the name is historically accurate for that time period and that the name was used in the social class you are writing about. For me, I always make sure I can find historical evidence that the name was used during the time period, and as I learn of new names from that time period I form a “name bank” that I can choose from as I write. In The Curiosity Keeper, Camille’s mother was Portuguese, so I selected her name by researches first names common in Portugal at the time. (As a side note, I change characters’ names SEVERAL TIMES as I write … the book never ends with the characters having the same names they do when I start writing!)

4: You had a very non-traditional ending for this book, and I have to say I loved that. Is there a chance we will be seeing some of the characters return in future books?

I am so glad that you enjoyed the ending! I am currently working on the 2nd and 3rd books in the series, and while the main characters, Jonathan and Camille, are not in the subsequent books, some of the secondary characters do make appearances – especially the characters associated with the school.

5: And my personal favorite question: do you have any advice for aspiring authors out there?

This may sound very cliché, but DON’T GIVE UP! Write every day, even if it is only fifteen minutes. Writing is like exercise, once you fall out of the habit of daily writing, it is hard to get back into the swing of it. My other piece of advice is to get connected. I joined a couple of writing groups and made some writing friends early on in my career, and those relationships have been such a blessing. Being a writer is much easier when you can share the journey with friends who are on the same path. I wish you the best of luck with your writing!

Wow, those are all great answers. And thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to join us!

Now, for the moment I’m sure ALL of you were waiting for. lol. The GIVEAWAY! So, in order to enter for this copy, (unfortunately US residents only) you have to answer this one simple question as a comment: What is your favorite era to read, and why? Write down your comment, and I certainly look forward to reading them!

But, if you just have to get our hands on this awesome book (lol) then feel free to pick up a copy either for Kindle or NOOK, or of course paperback. And feel free to check out the author’s website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks again for joining me, and I will see you all next Friday with the announced winner and another post! 🙂



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Swashbuckling Giveaway!

Hello everyone! Like I said, I have a VERY special blog post today. Why? Because I got to interview the amazing MaryLu Tyndall about her newest release, The Reckoning, AND she is graciously offering a FREE copy of her book! Isn’t that awesome! Keep reading for instructions on how to enter this giveaway. 🙂

When Morgan Shaw crept into the hold of an old pirate ship replica at San Diego’s Annual Tall Ship Festival, her only intention was to avoid the guy who had just dumped her and who was now boarding the ship with two women on his arm. What she didn’t expect was to wake up aboard a real pirate ship three-hundred years in the past. But of course, it wasn’t real. Her wealthy father had obviously staged it all in an effort to get her mind off her upcoming chemo. Or had he?

Pirate Rowan Dutton seeks enough treasure to repay a debt to his sister and reinstate the Dutton name among British Jamaican Society. He is but one major haul away from accomplishing his goal when a strange woman appears on his ship and causes him to lose his prey. Despite his anger, he is enthralled with the little minx, her strange clothing, odd speech, and her insistence that they are all actors playing a charade paid for by her father.

Yet when the brazen little lady divulges Rowan’s secret to a longtime nemesis, events are triggered that could cost them both their lives and change the course of history forever.

Let me tell you, I LOVED this book! (As evidenced by the review I did of it a few weeks ago). And, MarLu Tyndall has graciously agreed to be a guest and answer some questions for us today about this newest release.

First of all, thanks so very much for taking the time to join us this week!

My pleasure!

You did something different with this book, in that your heroine is a time-traveler from the 21st century. Was it difficult combining a modern woman with your traditional pirate stories?

I thought switching back and forth from 21st century thinking and talking to 17th century would be hard, but when I got started, it was actually a lot of fun and much easier than I thought. I mean, I guess I do it all the time when I’m writing historical novels because I live, think, and breathe in the 21st century, yet when I’m writing I have to hop into the skin of a 17th century character.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters, in your words? What drew you to write Morgan and Rowan’s story?

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mild Obsessive Compulsive disorder run in my family. Basically we are very passionate, creative people who are hyper-sensitive to the world around us. (And probably a bit crazy!) This was the basis for creating my heroine, Morgan. She’s 24, highly intelligent, educated, and creative, but she has these other issues that make life difficult. Like me, she also came from a broken home, which adds to a child’s anxiety growing up. I’ve often wondered how someone like me would handle life on board a pirate ship. Talk about a major breakdown! LOL. However, I can live that experience with all the adventure and none of the harm through the eyes of my heroine, Morgan! Yes, I’m very mean to my characters.  

Rowan, being a pirate and hence, lacking in morals, needed a strong, if not a bit crazy, woman to whip him into shape. Because every woman he’s ever met has swooned at his feet, he looks at females as more of a passing entertainment. Non-swooning, crazy-talking Morgan shows him how wrong he is. Fun stuff! 

Oh yeah, she definitely gave him what-for at times! SO fun to read! lol

I noticed we get to see some familiar faces in this book. Was it fun going back to those characters to see where their lives took them?

Yes, it was so much fun!  But it was also difficult. In my mind, Charlisse and Merrick are still young and sailing the Caribbean doing God’s work, so to imagine them in their 50’s (old like me) took some doing. Of course, they would have changed a lot in some ways and yet not at all in other ways. They would be much wiser, more confident, and closer to God. Yet, I wanted them to still have that spunk, that zest for adventure, and of course that spark of romance between them. I hope my readers enjoy seeing them in action again!

This reader certain did!

What’s your typical research look like for your pirate tales? Has it gotten easier as you’ve written more stories?

Since this is my 5th pirate novel, I have a pretty strong foundational knowledge about Caribbean pirates in the 17th-18th centuries. If I forget a detail or two, I have an extensive pirate library in my office.  However, when I first start creating a new book and I determine the exact year and location of the story, I often have to do further research specific to that time and place. For instance, in my last book, The Ransom, the story centered around the great earthquake in Port Royal, Jamaica in 1692, so I had to do extensive research on what Port Royal was like at that time and what happened during and after the quake.

I would LOVE to see what your extensive pirate library looks like!

So, now that you’ve gotten this story under your belt, what’s next? Any plans for your next novel, or even future installments?

God willing, I definitely hope to write more pirate books in the series. With all the family, children, and grandchildren, it could go on for some time. However, I’m planning to write a Medieval Romance next. Aside from American Colonial times, I find the medieval era very fascinating.

Oooh! Medieval’s one of my favorite periods too, and it’s growing in the Christian market (For instance the authors Melanie Dickerson, Jody Hedlund, and Debbie Lynne Costello). I’m looking forward to seeing your personal style in that setting. 🙂

Your stories are so unique in the Inspirational Fiction market, but I was wondering if you had any authors, or novels, that inspired you, like a writing style, theme, or storyline?

I have to credit Linda Chaikin for inspiring me to write about Christian pirates. Years ago, I read her Trade Winds series and her Buccaneers series and fell in love with the time period and the romance. Aside from her influence, however, I’ve pretty much sailed a path all my own. Some may classify my stories as edgy, though I hate that term. I definitely deal with people’s real struggles and don’t sugar coat the reality of evil. I also don’t avoid Biblical truths or the existence of miracles. From what I’ve read of Christian fiction, that is a rarity.

And last, my favorite question: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Sure I have lots of advice!!  I’ve been in this business over ten years, and I’ve learned a lot. Let me give you just a few words of wisdom. First, make sure you truly want to be a writer. It’s a hard job with very little reward. I’m not trying to discourage anyone, but if you’re in it for the fame and money, look elsewhere. I believe writing is a calling from God, so make sure He’s called you!  Next, study the craft of writing. You may have talent, but you need skill. Take classes, read writing books, etc.  In addition, read tons of great books, best sellers and award winners. You’d be surprised how much reading a well-written book can improve your own writing. And lastly, sit down and write a story you’re passionate about, not something you think will sell.

Those are some great pieces of advice! Thanks every so much for joining us, and giving us a little glimpse into the working mind of an author. 😉

And NOW for the Giveaway! Like I said, MaryLu has graciously offered to give one free copy of her book, either paperback within the United States, or eBook outside. To enter, write a comment below answering one, or both of these questions: What one modern convenience would you miss the most if you were in Morgan’s shoes? What one thing would you love about being in Morgan’s shoes? I’m looking forward to seeing your answers! (Just for fun, I’d actually miss books, oddly enough (outside of family which I’d probably try to drag along with me. lol) There’s such a wide variety available today that wasn’t at the time. And I’d love the dresses! I can’t help it, even the corset would be fine. That or the swords… I’m a sucker for a beautiful rapier! lol.)

So, leave your comment below answering one, or both, of the questions to be entered into winning this awesome book! The winner will be announced next Friday. But, if you just can’t wait ’til then to start this AMAZING story, you are always welcome to pick up a copy yourself! It’s available in eBook for Kindle and NOOK, and, of course, paperback. Also, feel free to check out MaryLu’s awesome website (where you can get a glimpse of her recent vacation in Hawaii!), and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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A Worthy Read

Hello everyone! Like I said, this month I’m doing double reviews every week! (Or I’ll try to. lol). So today’s special is Karen Witemeyer’s newest novel: A Worthy Pursuit. As you know, I absolutely adore this author! And this book is no different.

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her.

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

My thoughts on it? Well, it was incredible!

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of Westerns, and I absolutely LOVE Karen Witemeyer’s books. She never fails to bring a cool twist to the genre, and her newest book doesn’t disappoint. This book was an absolutely wonderful read. I love her setting of the secluded west, but adding a bit of class. I absolutely love these characters! Charlotte is probably one of the strongest female protagonists I’ve read, but has such a gentle and caring heart. Then there’s Stone, “the best tracker in Texas”. He’s intelligent, finding even the most elusive, but has a real heart of gold. When they’re thrown together to protect a little girl, they have to learn how to trust each other, something that’s especially hard for Charlotte, who doesn’t trust men. Throw in bandits, a bounty hunter with a grudge, and a straight from a dime-novel Western Hero and this book is page after page of adventure. Add three bright, and slightly mischievous, children and let the fun begin! This is a great read for anyone looking for a fun adventure, a sweet romance, and a message about having faith and trusting God even when things are looking bad.

And you can pick up a copy for Kindle or NOOK (along with my favorite paperbacks). And feel free to check out the author’s website, and follow her on Facebook. I hope you enjoy this book, and this author! And do come back Friday for a really special surprise. 😉

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Hunting for Love

Hello everyone! Okay, I’ve been neglectful these last couple of weeks. So very sorry about that! But, I have a TON of new books to share with you! So, here’s the deal, the month of July is going to be special. Instead of just posting once a week, I’m going to try to post twice. So you get double book reviews per week! Along with another surprise or two. 😉 And, I’ve decided to try a new style of blog post, adding the novel’s original premise along with my review. That way you can see just what the story-line is, and then why it’s really good. lol.

To start of this new style, I give you one of my all time favorite authors’ newest work: Melanie Dickerson’s The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. This is the first novel in her newest adult series, and it’s no less wonderful than her YA series, with perhaps a bit more depth.

Curious? Well, here’s what the book’s about:

A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor. A handsome forester on a mission to catch her. Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and Odette Menkels spends her nights poaching his deer to feed the hungry orphans of Thornbeck. By day, Odette is a simple maiden who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him … a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.
When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries. The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . .

What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?

And as for my thoughts on the subject… basically, it was AWESOME!

Melanie Dickerson has proven herself a master story-teller of retellings, and this novel is no different. An interesting weave of Swan Lake and Robin Hood, this narrative has plenty of romance, intrigue, and adventure. Odette is, by day, a sweet girl, intent on trying to help the poor children of the city by reading to them. She is a prime example of a well-bread lady, though with a bit more strength and independence than most of her time. But at night, she is a hunter, a pretty good one too, as she hunts deer to feed to the orphaned children in the city. She has a good heart, desiring to help those in need, but internally she is conflicted. Is it truly helping others if she breaks the law in the process? Then there’s Jorgen, the Margrave’s new forester. He is determined to prove himself to the Margrave, to find this poacher and put an end to his thieving of deer. When these two meet, oblivious to their position, the attraction is immediate. I love their romance; much like any of Melanie’s stories, it is sweet, simple, and deep. They develop a deep friendship, finding mutual respect for each other. Odette allows his courtship, even knowing he could mean her death, and I love how his being in her life makes her re-evaluate everything she believed. I love how straining her lie is on her and her relationship with him; it’s a great look at honesty. Along with that is the message of whether it’s right to bend the laws if it’s done for the right reasons. This book is a bit more mature than her other series, geared towards young adults, but no less filled with the fairytale charms, a step into history with its medieval settings, and an adventure-filled story that hooked me from the beginning and refused to let go. This is definitely a book I highly recommend to anyone who likes retellings, medieval tales, and especially fans of Once Upon a Time.

Basically, I think you should read it. Lol. You can pick it up for Kindle or NOOK, along with my personal favorite, paperback. And feel free to follow this wonderful author on Facebook, Twitter, and her website. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

So, do you like the new style? Let me know in the comments if you like hearing what the story is about along with my thoughts, or any other suggestions you might have. And tune in Tuesday for another review. 🙂

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