My Review – The Thorn Healer

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Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans. To Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of the treacherous internees.

August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he finds Hot Springs and the intriguing Jessica Ross a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs.

Will August’s tender pursuit bring Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a “true” enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

Why This Book:

Well, if you have read either of my reviews for the first two books in this series, you’ll know exactly why I wanted to read and review The Thorn Healer, the third installment in the Penned in Time series by the talented Pepper D. Basham.

Opening Line:

Wounded soldiers returned from war as heroes. Wounded nurses returned as old maids.

First Impressions:

I’ll be honest. While I love the opening line, the beginning of this book didn’t wow me nearly as much as the openings for the first two books did. I just didn’t feel hooked by the first chapter. That’s not to say the writing was dull by any means. It simply didn’t invoke the compulsion to turn pages which I have come to expect from a Pepper Basham novel.

Nevertheless, I kept reading because 1) the story truly was an interesting one and 2) I knew Pepper wouldn’t let me down. Sure enough, by the fifth chapter I was having trouble making myself put the book down to sleep at night.book-quotes-thorn-healer-empty-hand

Characters:

Jessica Ross has been a star on the sidelines in each of the first two books and it is wonderful to see her take center stage in this book. She is, of course, a well-rounded and compelling character who truly engages your heart as she struggles to overcome the wounds, both physical and emotional, which have followed her home from the war.

August Reinhold is a character new to the series. He is German and an internee in a camp in Jessica’s hometown nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains. How he handles the challenges he faces as a German stuck in America during the first World War can’t help but endear him to the reader and you find yourself rooting for him.

Additional characters include:

Dr. and Mrs. Carter – Jessica’s grandparents

Cliff Carter – Jessica’s cousin and a guard at the camp

Eliza Larson – war widow, mother of 7-year-old Jude Larson, & pregnant

Jasper Little – a wounded newcomer who arrives in town with anger to spare

As well as several other townspeople who all add to the story in their own way. Including some important characters which I won’t name here or it would give away surprises. No one character blends into another. They each stand out as unique and authentic.

For those of you who have enjoyed the previous two books in the Penned In Time series, you’ll be pleased to know that some of the characters from those books make an appearance in this one and you do get updates on their lives.book-quotes-thorn-healer-steadfast

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

Once this story got ahold of your heart, it didn’t let go. It made me laugh out loud, audibly gasp, and even cry. Real. Tears. I can’t remember the last time I actually cried over a book. Choked up? Sure. But I don’t remember actually crying. This book made me cry. I had to wipe my face because my tears were going to drip on my Kindle. And I loved it! I was crying because I was so wrapped up in what the characters were going through. It was so real.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

This book had several elements which served as an introduction to the unique culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the first World War. I enjoyed feeling like a visitor with a backstage pass in the small, remote town of Hot Springs. The elements of history introduced by the author, whether Blue Ridge, World War, or medically related,  all felt very well researched and authentic.

The elements of history introduced by the author, whether Blue Ridge, World War, or medically related,  all felt very well researched and authentic.

Themes:

The primary themes are prejudice, forgiveness, and the cost of hate.

book-quotes-thorn-healer-thoughts-write-lettersEnding (mild spoiler):

If the idea that this book made me cry has you worried, do not fear. This book has the happy ending requisite of its genre. And it is perfect. I am completely satisfied with how the book ended. And yeah. I closed the book with a smile on my face.

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Have you read any of Pepper’s books? What do you think?

TWEETABLES:

Once this story got ahold of your heart, it didn’t let go.#bookreview – Click to Tweet!

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Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

Waltz With Me Ties For 2nd Place!

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So I am sitting here with my fingers hovering over the keys trying to figure out what to type without sounding totally gushy and completely unsophisticated, but … I can’t help it!

My historical Christian romance novel, Waltz With Me, tied for Second Place in the Badge of Honor Contest at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference!

You guys, I am just so overwhelmed with joyful emotions! I am excited and giddy and happy and humbled and blessed and shocked and . . .

I just want to squeal with joy! Aaaaah! I just won a contest! Okay, so technically I tied for Second Place, but it feels like winning.

How awesome is it that out of all the people who entered they loved my story that much? I am so blessed! (Thank you, judges!)

Of course, I have already tweeted and posted on Facebook about my win, but I knew I wanted to post here as well because as I am thinking about this accomplishment, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who have helped me get here. So I want to take this opportunity to thank them. (I know, I know, it’s not like I won an Oscar or something, but I just have to say thank you, so bear with me here.)

First, I have to thank my mom for believing in my talent even before I knew I was a writer.

I also want to thank Lexi Miller, Betty Hofman, Samantha Lurey, and Betsy Hamblin even though I wasn’t working on this manuscript at the time we were meeting, your encouragement kept me going and your critiques made me a better writer.

Of course, I have to thank the members of the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Poway and Santee Critique Groups for sharing their wisdom and encouraging me as I worked through the many revisions of this novel. And I must add a special thanks to Kathryn Hughes, my fellow historical romance author, for your invaluable feedback and encouragement, and to Tiffany Hanson, who doesn’t write in my genre, but whose keen insight and fellowship has helped to lift me up as a writer.

I want to thank my friend, Brett Burner, whose wisdom and encouragement helped me believe in myself at a time when I was truly struggling.

My Beta Readers. How can I thank you enough? Each one of you took time out of your busy lives to read my full-length manuscript and provide priceless feedback on the things you liked and the things that needed changing. It truly means the world to me to have your support.

Lastly, but most importantly, I need to thank my husband, Luke, without whose support, self-sacrifice, and undying belief in me, I would not be able to do what I do. From watching our kids so that I can get away to write, to physically acting out scenes with me so that I can figure out how best to describe them, you are my rock and I love you.

(No, I’m not forgetting God, but I’m pretty sure He doesn’t read my blog, so I’ve already thanked Him in prayer. Many times.)

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Okay. So that sounded way too much like one of those Oscar speeches, and I realize it’s not like I have a book deal (yet) or that I even won first place, but this is still a very big deal for me, and a very great honor. This is the first book contest I’ve ever entered and when you have worked so hard and for so long on something, it is so, so good to have someone who doesn’t even know you say, “Yes. What you have done is good. We like it.” And so many people have stood by me and helped me get this far that I felt compelled to thank them.

This is nowhere near a complete list. If I wrote out the complete list, no one would read the whole thing, and although there’s no one next to me as I type, waiting to play the music that lets me know it’s time to stop talking (or typing), I am hoping this wasn’t too dreadfully long.

So to everyone who has encouraged and supported me, from the bottom of my heart,

THANK YOU!!!

Do you have someone in your life that has supported and encouraged you through the tough times? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

TWEETABLES:

Have someone that encourages and supports you? Thank them today! #grateful #ChristFic

Waltz With Me by @KathleenDenly ties for 2nd Place in Badge of Honor Contest! #christfic

First Line Friday – 02.17.17

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Hey, everybody! It’s Friday! You know what that means. We get to read and share the first lines of some pretty great books.

Today I am featuring Pepper D. Basham’s book, The Thorn Bearer (which I have reviewed previously), because it is the first book in the Penned in Time series and I will be reviewing the third book in the series, The Thorn Healer, on Monday. Be sure to sign up to follow my blog, so you don’t miss it!Cover Image of "The Thorn Bearer" by Pepper D Basham

The Thorn Bearer also has some of my favorite opening lines. Which is why I cannot decide whether I like the first line of the prologue or the first line of the first chapter better. So I’ve decided to share both:

Prologue:

“Death hovered in the shadows of the room, a shapeless presence as familiar to Ashleigh Dougall as the scent of morphine.”

Chapter 1:

“There is a distinct difference between marrying a man you do not love, and falling in love with a man you cannot marry.”

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your First Line with these friends:

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power
Rachel @ Bookworm Mama
Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books
Andi @ Radiant Light
Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken
Robin @ Robin’s Nest
Katie @ Fiction Aficionado
Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews
Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Grand Finale & Giveaway! – The Outlaw’s Secret

Well, the book tour for author Stacy Henrie’s latest book, The Outlaw’s Secret, comes to an end today with this Grand Finale. I hope you’ve had a chance to visit each stop along the way, but if you haven’t, below you’ll find snippets from each stop. There are also links for those of you who’d like to read more. And of course, don’t forget to ENTER TO WIN the GIVEAWAY!!!

Book Tour Grand Finale for
The Outlaw’s Secret
By Stacy Henrie

Launch – Note from the Author

I’m so excited to introduce readers to the Becketts brothers—one a lawman, the other an outlaw—in my next two books releasing from Love Inspired Historical. In THE OUTLAW’S SECRET, you’ll meet Tate Beckett, a Pinkerton detective posing as his outlaw twin brother Tex. You’ll also meet Essie Vanderfair, a dime novelist in need of a great story. And she hopes to find it when she begs to go along with the gang of train robbers that Tate has infiltrated. These opposites-attract characters were so much fun to write as were the outlaws Essie meets and interviews.

Bookworm Lisa – Review

“There were several instances that brought a smile to my face and I wanted how to know they were going to get out of the mess they were in. This is a fun book that is set in the “Old West”. There are outlaws, lawmen, and a feisty heroine.”

Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review & Interview

“This was a fun book. The characters were likable and flawed just enough.”

Q: What other genre, one day, would you like to write? Why or why not?

A: Though I’ve tried my hand at writing contemporary, I enjoy writing historicals much more. I’ve also dabbled with the idea of writing historical women’s fiction, but I love a good love story so I don’t know that I could pull off writing something without having a romance at its heart.

Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Review

“I love a romance that makes me swoon and this one does just that. Not only are the romance and characters well done, the setting is fantastic too. I felt myself transported back to the late 1800s and loved being a part of that time–when I wasn’t shivering in my boots with fear. I also really enjoyed Essie’s writing moments, which are often thoughts–she’s an interesting character with a vivid imagination and has me engrossed in her ideas. I’m definitely looking forward to what this author writes next!”

Hearts & Scribbles – Meet Tate and Essie

Born and raised in Idaho, Tate Beckett is an identical twin. But his brown hair and blue eyes are about the only thing he shares with his brother Tex. Tate’s brother is the infamous outlaw known as the Texas Titan and Tate feels duty-bound to atone for his brother’s crimes by tracking down other outlaws in his job as a Pinkerton detective agent…

Reading Is My SuperPower – Review

“The Outlaw’s Secret has it all – action, adventure, romance, humor, faith and depth. It will make you smile and it will twist your heart too. It will make you hold your breath – for the kisses and again for the nail-biting action. Essie is such a fun heroine, and Tate is most definitely swoonworthy. Another fun and sweet novel by Stacy Henrie that I highly recommend!”

I Am A Reader – Undisguised: the Pinkerton National Detective Agency

While operatives were required to abide by a code of ethics—including things like not accepting reward money and working with local law enforcement—Allen Pinkerton was a staunch believer in the end justifying the means. That meant that sometimes in order for an operative to track down a criminal, the detective might have to “become” a criminal in a sense—just as Tate does by posing as his outlaw twin brother in order do to bring down the Fletcher gang.

The Power of Words – Review

“There’s nothing typical about Stacy Henrie’s newest release and she has become one of my favorite writers in the Love Inspired line. The Outlaw’s Secret has it all – character depth, humor, romance, suspense, and rich historical detail. It’s well written, entertaining, and refreshingly unusual in storyline.”

Seasons of Humility – Review

“On the romance side, it’s fun to watch Tate/Tex and Essie dance around each other, both mistrusting in turn and each fiercely determined to follow their own goals. Their journey includes moments of danger, threats to budding feelings, and a few twists.”

Kathleen Denly – Interview

Q: As an author, I often get asked how much of myself I put into my characters. So I’m curious, if you were on that train instead of Essie, how would you handle the situation?

A: I would’ve been terrified! And unlike Essie, I would have chosen to stay seated and silent and hopefully unseen.

Getting Your Read On – Review

“This was such a fun adventure. The story started off with a bang and took off from there. I settled right in and enjoyed the ride!”

Wishful Endings – Excerpt

Tate Beckett’s jaw was clenched so tight he thought it might snap. Of all the rotten misfortune. He had to run into a nosy, busybody like Miss Essie Vanderfair on his first job with Fletcher’s gang. If he wasn’t careful, this woman, with all her probing questions, would figure out he wasn’t the Texas Titan after all. Then his covert work, posing as his outlaw twin brother, would be finished.

Mel’s Shelves – Review

“Once I started reading this book, I settled in and didn’t want to put it down. It moves at a fast pace and there was never a dull moment. I enjoyed it from beginning to end and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, clean western romance!”

Falling Leaves – Excerpt

Fletcher’s mouth curled up in a sneer. “Try me, Tex.” He lifted his hands in a mock gesture of innocence. “But now your life is tied with hers.” He walked away, adding over his shoulder, “I think you’re smart enough to figure out what that means.”

Singing Librarian Books – Review

“Stacie Henry has masterfully written a story that readers will be enthralled with from page one until the very end. This is a fairly quick and easy read that will inspire the romance in all of us! Henry has a distinct way of writing that will draw readers in as they leave the world of reality behind and enter the enjoyable and entertaining world of the Wild West.”

Colorimetry – Excerpt

Sure enough she spotted the impression of horse hooves in the dirt and a partially trampled sagebrush farther on. If she kept heading in that same direction, she would eventually stumble into the trio.

She bent forward over the horse and coaxed it to go faster. There were interviews to conduct. And no one, not even a handsome, sly, back-stabbing Texan, was going to stop her.

Zerina Blossom’s Books – Interview

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans or readers?

A: Thanks for your support! I’m excited to share Tate and Essie’s story with you. If you read it and enjoy it, then look for Tex’s story in July, when you’ll find out where the Texas Titan was while Tate was impersonating him to take down Fletcher’s gang.

Tell Tale Book Reviews – Review

“The Outlaw’s Secret delivers humor, romance, faith, and some wonderfully exciting moments where death is only a step away from both hero and heroine. . . . Fans of Stacy Henrie and of western historicals will surely not be disappointed in the thrilling pages. . .”

Heidi Reads… – Review

“I was glued to the pages to find out when Essie would discover Tate’s secret, when they would give in to the chemistry building between them, and if the real Tex would make an appearance. Another great western from Stacy Henrie with suspense, action, and romance!”

The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Excerpt

Her heart beat faster as she opened her mouth and said, “Call me Essie. It’s only fair.”

A low chuckle sounded in her ears. “Try to get some sleep, Essie. We’ve got another long ride tomorrow.”

Smiling in triumph, she closed her eyes, but it was still some time later before she could turn her thoughts from the silent figure guarding the camp. And from the memory of her name on those nice, masculine lips.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven’t already…

The Outlaw’s Secret
by Stacy Henrie
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 288 pages
February 7th 2017 by Love Inspired Historical

Lawman in Disguise

Getting taken hostage by a gang of train robbers wasn’t in dime novelist Essie Vanderfair’s plans, but interviewing these men could make her career soar. Especially since the gang includes legendary outlaw Tex Beckett, better known as the Texas Titan. Tex is famed for his protection of women and children, so she’ll be fine…right?

Keeping the gang in line was hard enough before a stubborn, beautiful writer interfered. Now Tex is scrambling to keep Essie safe, to gather evidence against the gang and most of all to hide his dangerous secrets. First, that he’s a detective working undercover. And second, that he’s not the Texas Titan at all, but Tex’s twin brother, Tate Beckett.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryHarlequin

Tour Schedule

February 2nd:
Bookworm Lisa, Rockin’ Book Reviews, Katie’s Clean Book Collection & Hearts & Scribbles
February 3rd:
Reading Is My SuperPower, I Am A Reader & The Power of Words
February 6th:
Seasons of Humility & Kathleen Denly
February 7th:
Getting Your Read On & Wishful Endings
February 8th:
Mel’s Shelves & Falling Leaves
February 9th:
Singing Librarian Books & Colorimetry
February 10th:
i blog 4 books & Zerina Blossom’s Books
February 12th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews
February 13th:
Heidi Reads… & The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
February 14th: Grand Finale

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie is the author of western romances and the Of Love and War series, which includes Hope at Dawn, a 2015 RITA Award finalist for excellence in romance. She was born and raised in the West, where she currently resides with her family. She enjoys reading, road trips, interior decorating, chocolate, and most of all, laughing with her husband and kids. You can learn more about Stacy and her books by visiting her website at stacyhenrie.com.

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Tour Giveaway

– 1 winner will receive print copies of LADY OUTLAW and THE EXPRESS RIDER’S LADY + $10 Amazon Gift Card (US only)
– 1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally)
– Ends February 18th

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First Line Friday – 02.10.17

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I am so excited to be joining in the First Line Friday fun! I love reading everyone’s first lines and discovering new books to read.

Today I am featuring The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch.  the-scarlet-coat-cover-image

I recently won a copy of this book over at Mary Manners & Friends. (Thank you, Mary & Angela!) After reading the first chapter on that blog I have decided this will definitely be part of my in-flight reading on my way to the Asheville Christian Writers Conference next week. I was hooked from the first line. Here it is:

“The last rays of sun faded into twilight, and the wind whispered through the trees, as if warning Rachel to turn back.”

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your First Line with these friends:

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power
Rachel @ Bookworm Mama
Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books
Andi @ Radiant Light
Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken
Robin @ Robin’s Nest
Katie @ Fiction Aficionado
Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews
Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Author Interview (and Giveaway!)- The Outlaw’s Secret

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I am so excited to welcome award-winning multi-published author, Stacy Henrie, to my blog to talk about her latest book, The Outlaw’s Secret!

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On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

The Outlaw’s Secret
by Stacy Henrie

Lawman in Disguise

Getting taken hostage by a gang of train robbers wasn’t in dime novelist Essie Vanderfair’s plans, but interviewing these men could make her career soar. Especially since the gang includes legendary outlaw Tex Beckett, better known as the Texas Titan. Tex is famed for his protection of women and children, so she’ll be fine…right?

Keeping the gang in line was hard enough before a stubborn, beautiful writer interfered. Now Tex is scrambling to keep Essie safe, to gather evidence against the gang and most of all to hide his dangerous secrets. First, that he’s a detective working undercover. And second, that he’s not the Texas Titan at all, but Tex’s twin brother, Tate Beckett.

Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 288 pages
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryHarlequin

the-interview

Let’s get started!

As an author, I often get asked how much of myself I put into my characters. So I’m curious, if you were on that train instead of Essie, how would you handle the situation?

I would’ve been terrified! And unlike Essie, I would have chosen to stay seated and silent and hopefully unseen.

As you know, some writers overwrite, others underwrite, and not every scene a writer creates is guaranteed to make it into the final draft. Are there any deleted scenes from this book that you can tell us about without giving away any spoilers?

I love this question, and because I tend to write super close to my word count, there aren’t usually scenes that need deleting. If anything, I may have to add scenes.

As a historical fiction writer myself, I’m always interested in how others approach the research phase of our work. What is your research process like?

I like to get a good handle on the time period and setting before I start writing. Then I’ll research additional things as they come up during the writing process, followed by double-checking details during the editing stage.

I know I have at least one unfinished manuscript which will never see the light of day and another full-length manuscript I have set aside for possible major revision in the future. How many unpublished and unfinished manuscripts do you have and what are your plans for them?

I have three full-length manuscripts that are unpublished—and they will definitely stay that way. J The first novel I ever wrote has not been published because that was really my practice one. The characters of my second unpublished novel are the same characters as my third published book—though with different storylines—so that one will also remain unpublished. I tried my hand at writing a book with a contemporary and a historical story line and realized, for now, I enjoy writing historicals much more than I do contemporary. So, for that story, the contemporary part will remain unpublished too.

Oh, I like that! I am definitely calling mine “practice manuscripts” from now on. I can have more than one, right? 😉

There are so many wonderful writers’ conferences to choose from and only so much time (and money) to go around. Help a fellow writer out. Of the writers’ conferences you have attended, which did you find the most helpful?

Great question! For romance writers in general, I think Romance Writers of America (RWA) puts on a fabulous national conference. For inspirational romance writers, I think the best conference for networking and understanding the market is the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) national conference.

What other authors are you friends with and how did they help you become a better writer?

Siri Mitchell, who also writes inspirational historical romance, was the most influential in helping me discover what I wanted to write. I’d read some of her contemporaries, and after reading one of her historicals, I realized that is what I wanted to write—Christian historical romance. I wrote her an email, telling her how much I enjoyed her historical book, and she graciously wrote back and asked if I was going to the upcoming ACFW conference. This was back in 2010 and the conference was being held in three weeks. I arranged things so I could attend and that conference became the springboard to my published career. I also got to meet Siri there, which was a real treat!

What a great story! The ACFW is definitely on my list of “must attend” conferences for the near future. 

Stacy, thank you so much taking the time to share with us! 

USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie is the author of western romances and the Of Love and War series, which includes Hope at Dawn, a 2015 RITA Award finalist for excellence in romance. She was born and raised in the West, where she currently resides with her family. She enjoys reading, road trips, interior decorating, chocolate, and most of all, laughing with her husband and kids. You can learn more about Stacy and her books by visiting her website at stacyhenrie.com.

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giveaway-5

Tour Giveaway

– 1 winner will receive print copies of LADY OUTLAW and THE EXPRESS RIDER’S LADY + $10 Amazon Gift Card (US only)
– 1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally)
– Ends February 18th

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

psst

Be sure to check out the rest of the stops along the tour to learn more about Stacy and her newest book, The Outlaw’s Secret. Then stop back here to check out the Grand Finale on February 14th!

What better way to top off Valentine’s Day than by winning new romance novels?

(Yeah, I know there are Amazon Gift Cards too, but who are we kidding? That’s going straight to the book fund! Right? I mean, I know mine would… anyway.)

Tour Schedule

February 1st: Launch
February 2nd:
Bookworm Lisa, Rockin’ Book Reviews, Katie’s Clean Book Collection & Hearts & Scribbles
February 3rd:
Reading Is My SuperPower, I Am A Reader & The Power of Words
February 6th:
Seasons of Humility & Kathleen Denly
February 7th:
Getting Your Read On & Wishful Endings
February 8th:
Mel’s Shelves & Falling Leaves
February 9th:
Singing Librarian Books & Colorimetry
February 10th:
i blog 4 books & Zerina Blossom’s Books
February 12th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews
February 13th:
Heidi Reads… & The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
February 14th: Grand Finale

Thanks for stopping by!

What did you think of the interview? Did you learn something new? Are there any other questions you’d like to ask Stacy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

TWEETABLES

Discover Stacy Henrie’s plans for her unpublished and unfinished manuscripts. (Click to Tweet)

Check out this interview with author Stacy Henrie! (Click to Tweet)

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My Review – From A Distance

My Review: From A Distance by Tamera Alexander at KathleenDenly.com

Having recently joined the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads, I was excited to discover that one of their choices for the Book of the Month Read Along was a Tamera Alexander novel. I’d had her on my list of new-to-me authors I want to try for a while, so I Googled the book title and discovered this book trailer:

After a trailer like that, how could I NOT read the book? So of course, I added it to my “Currently Reading” shelf, picked up a (FREE!) copy through Kindle Unlimited and started reading.

Opening Line:

“Elizabeth Garrett Westbrook stepped closer to the cliff’s edge, not the least intimidated by the chasm’s vast plunge.”

First Impressions:

The very first paragraph tells us so much about the main character:  her name, age, dreams, determination, courage… and that her time is limited.  In the first chapter, we learn that Elizabeth is a strong woman facing a life-threatening illness, yet she doesn’t let that stop her or even slow her down.  She dreams of becoming the first female staff photographer and journalist at the Washington Daily Chronicle, and she won’t let illness, the treacherous Rocky Mountains, or her father’s disapproval get in her way. However, we also see that her determination is balanced with heart in the way she treats the “Negro” man she has hired to assist her and in how she views the wildlife around her.

When we first meet Daniel Ranslett in Chapter Three, we learn that he is a patient tracker, a skilled hunter with a conscience, and a man of his word. We also learn that he is haunted by his past and still wrestles with the guilt of old choices. He prefers to keep to himself, but his reluctance is no match for Elizabeth’s determination once she learns he has the experience she needs to accomplish part of her goals.

Characters:

In addition to Elizabeth and Daniel, Tamera introduces us to a variety of well-developed characters including:

  • Josiah – a former slave, kind & competent employee, and loyal friend;
  • Sheriff James McPherson – whose current friendship with Daniel has been complicated and strained by past events;
  • Rachel Boyd – sister to the sheriff, mother, and recent widow;
  • The Tucker family – struggling to provide for their large brood, including  a young son with a severe illness;
  • Drayton Turner the local newspaper man;
  • Carnes the coroner;
  • Mr. Zachary manager of the local land and title office;
  • and too many more to list.

Despite the size of the cast in this story, Tamera has managed to give each character such a unique depth, and introduced them so skillfully, that there was never a moment where I lost track of who was who. Each character is as real and rich as the next.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This is not an edge of your seat, flip the pages as fast as you can, style of story. However, Tamera has created just enough tension that you are always reluctant to set this book down. As I’ve already said, the characters are so real and their emotions so deeply felt by the reader that you cannot help but be pulled into their world and their struggles. You want to know what will happen next and whether or not each character will achieve their goals.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

Something that sets this novel apart is its handling of the racial issues present in 1875 Colorado Territory. I appreciated how Tamera managed to portray this in a way that felt real, yet not garish. It was neither overdone for the sake of drama nor underplayed for the sake of current (2016) political views. I think it’s important to remember the shameful parts of our history as well as the moments of which we are proud. It’s how we learn and a reminder never to go back.

Themes:

The primary themes are accepting forgiveness and learning to adjust when your dreams don’t turn out to be what you imagined they were.

Ending:

I found the ending of this book mostly satisfying. I felt the romance was resolved a bit too subtly for my taste, but this is a nitpicky personal opinion. In regard to length, I would, perhaps, have liked just another page or two more to enjoy the afterglow of resolution, but this is more a sign of having enjoyed the book than a complaint against it. There is no hint of a cliffhanger. The romance plot and all the side plots are nicely concluded.

Overall Rating:

4.5 out of 5 stars