First Line Friday – 2.23.18

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

Today I’m sharing the first line of Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky – one of the books on my TBR list scheduled to be read this month. This will by my first book by Carrie Turansky and I have heard many good things about this book around the book blogger world, so I’m looking forward to finally reading it myself.

Shine Like the Dawn

Here is the first line from the Prologue:

August 22, 1899

Sunlight blinked off the rippling surface of Tumbledon Lake and into Margaret Lounsbury’s eyes.

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In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event shattered  their idyllic family life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart as she begins to wonder if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident.

When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son and Maggie’s estranged childhood friend, Nathaniel, returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll, and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate—and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

My Review – A Sweetwater River Romance

My Review - A Sweetwater River Romance

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Taking flight from their quiet Pennsylvania town seems like the only way for Tori Boyd to protect her dearest cousin’s virtue. And the success of their escape may now depend on the man she’s been writing letters to for over a year now in the vast wilds of the Wyoming Territory.

Ezra Reid has finally stepped out from under the shadow of his older brother and sister, now having full responsibility to man the Rocky Ridge Stage Stop through the winter. The success or failure of the stage and telegraph contracts falls squarely on his shoulders, and he’s entirely focused on the work – at least until his mysterious correspondence partner shows up on his doorstep.

As Ezra takes on the search for a proper situation for Tori and her cousin, there seem to be no good options for the ladies. Especially since Tori won’t even discuss the one option that might succeed – marriage. When the danger chasing the women takes on a form none of them anticipated, how far will Ezra have to go to keep Tori and her cousin safe? It’ll take a lot more than luck to ensure his heart is the sole casualty.

Why This Book:

After thoroughly enjoying Misty M. Beller’s “This Treacherous Journey” (which I reviewed earlier this month), when I saw another opportunity to review one of her books, I jumped at it.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Dear T. B., 

In response to your advertisement seeking a partner in correspondence, I find the idea more than a little intriguing.

First Impressions:

This book opened with the text of the advertisement placed by “T. B.” of “Boiling Springs Township, Pennsylvania” seeking “a literate person in the western territories willing and eager to correspond with an easterner on a variety of topics.” After this, we read the initial response letter written by “E. Reid” of “Rocky Ridge Stage Stop, Wyoming Territory.” I’ve chosen to share the first line of this letter above.

Both of these, while important and intriguing, read like a prologue even though they are not labeled as such. The real action begins after this and starts as follows:

OCTOBER, 1866
WYOMING TERRITORY

“Looks like it might snow.”

Tori Boyd pressed the creases flat in the writing paper as she studied the concise handwriting, a challenging exercise with the sometimes-violent rocking of the stage coach.

As you can see, we immediately feel some tension in the situation with the threat of snow and the mystery of the clearly important letter. As the first scene unfolds, the stakes increase and the reader is immediately engaged in the story. I wondered what would await them at their destination and already wanted to know what would become of the two women after that. (Tori and her cousin, Opal, are both on the stage)

Characters:

Victoria “Tori” Boyd – Eighteen-year-old Tori has endured a very harsh life, which has forced her to mature beyond her years, but she hasn’t let it beat her down or diminish her determination to protect and care for her slightly older cousin, Opal. She is determined to find freedom for them both – and never to trust or depend on a man. Unfortunately, she has been left little choice but to seek assistance from her distant correspondence partner, Ezra Reid.

Book Quote Image - A Sweetwater Romance

Ezra Reid – To say Ezra is surprised by Tori and Opal’s appearance on his doorstep is an understatement. Yet, this responsible, compassionate, and honest man overcomes his shock and appoints himself as their advocate and protector. His actions throughout the story are an incredible picture of what it means to truly love – first as a brother in Christ, and later, as a man in love with a woman he desires as his wife.

Opal Boyd – Opal is quite different from her cousin. Where Tori is stubborn, quick to speak her mind, and occasionally reckless, Opal has a quiet strength and gentle wisdom that helps her to find the good in the bad. Don’t mistake her quiet or gentle for meek, however. Every bit as loyal and courageous as Tori, Opal doesn’t back down when the going gets tough.

Mara English – Her story having already been told in A Pony Express Romance, Mara is Ezra’s loving, if a bit overprotective, big sister. I can’t say a whole lot more about her role in this story without giving away some of the plot, but it was fun to see her story continue as Ezra’s developed.

Josiah English – Mara’s husband spends most of his time working their horse ranch, but he still manages to be the doting husband and helpful brother-in-law we want him to be.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

With solid tension all along the way, this one is a page-turner, for sure. While there are a couple points that let you catch your breath, it’s only just enough to do so before things start cracking again and you have to resist the urge to skim ahead. And you don’t want to skim ahead, trust me. There are no wasted words here, just good, compelling storytelling that gets you aching or rooting for the characters (depending on the scene) and eager to see what happens next.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

The only nitpicky thing I wasn’t sure about was one particular paragraph of the thought process Ezra goes through in the aftermath of the crisis scene. It just seemed a tad over-the-top ideal, to me, but I can’t argue that it didn’t fit Ezra’s character or that it isn’t possible someone would think like that. So this is just my opinion, but it pushed the edges of believable for me.

On the other hand, I absolutely loved, loved, loved how Ezra reacted to Tori’s past and how he thoughtfully chose his actions and words in light of it. The man is seriously swoon-worthy! (and it’s not about his looks) Talk about sacrificial, selfless (not spineless!) love! He knows it’s an action not a word, ladies.

Book Quote Image - A Sweetwater Romance - Did God Hear

Themes:

Why God allows “bad things” to happen to “good people.” – Yep. The author went there. And without getting preachy.

Learning to trust.

Ending:

I have to say that I could not have loved this ending more. The author resisted the pressure to give readers the ending they expect and might even (mistakenly) think they wanted. Instead, she gives us an ending that epitomizes true love in action and left me sighing with joyful contentment.

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Available at:  Amazon

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

About the Author

Misty

Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family–both immediate and extended–is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Learn more at www.MistyMBeller.com.

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in the Wyoming Mountain Tales series?

TWEETABLES:

Looking for a hero who is swoon-worthy for far more than his looks? Check out this romance! #BookReview @KathleenDenly @MistyMBeller (CLICK TO TWEET!)

She’s desperate to escape an awful past…A man is the last person she expects to protect her. A SWEETWATER RIVER ROMANCE by @MistyMBeller (CLICK TO TWEET!)

Riveting mountain romance by @MistyMBeller, A SWEETWATER RIVER ROMANCE #BookReview (CLICK TO TWEET!)

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

The image below means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Click here for more details.

 

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View Disclosure of Materials HERE.

 

 

First Line Friday – 2.16.18

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

Today I’m sharing the first line of Mail Order Revenge by Angela K Couch. I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now and I am so glad that I finally found the time to read it last month! This was such a fun read, I didn’t want to put it down. With a decidedly unique twist on the mail order bride theme, this story will keep you wondering what is going to happen next. If you haven’t already, I definitely recommend finding the time to read this book.

Mail Order Revenge

Here is the first line:

New York, 1882

It had to be him.

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Elizabeth Landvick knows of one man to blame for her family’s loss of fortune and her parents’ deaths. Now, she will stop at nothing to take her revenge and recover their wealth. Even travel across the country to marry the man’s son.

With his focus on his sprawling Arizona ranch, Axel Forsberg has little time for wooing a woman, so when his father finds him a bride from the east, he trusts he won’t regret the convenience. Until horses go missing, barns burn to the ground, a range war begins…and he loses his heart.

 

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

My Review – Three Words and a Kiss

My Review - Three Words and a Kiss

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When a big-hearted debutante collides with a small-town blacksmith set in his ways, it can mean only one thing—a war of hearts has come to Pine Creek.

Cameron Wallace thrives as both the blacksmith and the minister in his community of Pine Creek. Out of the fires of a chaotic childhood, he’s forged a peaceful life filled with safe relationships and predictable routines. But when the smithy he’s been renting is sold out from under him, the impulsive woman who buys it stokes the embers of emotions he’d rather keep unlit—and even has the audacity to lend a helping hand to his smithy work.

Samantha Klein has never been afraid to push boundaries when it comes to helping those whom society—and God—have overlooked, be they orphans, immigrants, or injured animals. When her latest attempt to aid a group of Chinese women lands her in a newspaper scandal, her high-society family sends her packing from Seattle. Setting out on her own, she purchases the Pine Creek smithy and hatches another plan for helping her immigrant friends. But only weeks after arriving in Pine Creek, her plan turns to ashes, and she’s overwhelmed by needs she can never hope to meet, including her own need to be seen and cared for. And the one who seems to understand her is the man who won’t let her anywhere near his heart, no matter the attraction that burns between them.

As Cameron struggles to find a new normal, and Samantha yearns for someone to share her burdens, old hurts and dangerous secrets make them both terrified to admit that what they need—and what God has planned for them—just might be each other.

Why This Book:

Well, if you have been following my blog at all, you know I am a serious fan of Sondra’s writing. If she wrote it, I’m there. Plus, this is the third installment in her Love That Counts series and I have basically been holding my breath since reading the second book, Two Ways Home. I cannot tell you how excited I am to get to read this book!

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Seattle, Washington, July 9, 1892

The first stars pricked through the sky’s fading canvas as Samantha Klein approached the intersection of Washington and First Avenue, looked both ways, and crossed a line.

First Impressions:

The book opens with a high-stakes scene where Samantha is placing herself at risk to visit a group of women (and a young boy) in Seattle’s Chinatown. I so want to tell you what happens next, but of course, I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say, you won’t want to stop reading.

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Characters:

Samantha “Sam” Klein – She is undeniably a misfit in her world but in all the right ways. As intelligent as she is beautiful, her impulsiveness combines with her hugely compassionate heart to get her into many delightfully troubling situations. Her character is richly drawn, with a past that colors her present in ways she doesn’t even recognize at first. Watching her develop and grow as the story progresses is something I think readers will particularly enjoy.

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Cameron “Cam” Wallace – Yes, their nicknames rhyme and that is mentioned in the story, but it is neither overdone nor the focus of the story by any means.   It is just one more stick in the fire of their relationship. Similar to Sam, Cameron doesn’t realize how much his past affects his behavior. He thinks he has things nicely handled and planned out. Until Samantha arrives. She is exactly what he needs to show him the cracks in his “perfect” life. I enjoyed watching his real struggle to come to grips with certain revelations and learn to move forward.

David Brown – He’s the nearly-grown son of the interfering, love-to-hate-him Mayor of Pine Creek, Johnston Brown, and he is struggling with the typical issues that go with his age and an overbearing father.

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Fa Feiyan – Mother of seven-year-old Wang Yong and self-appointed guardian of sixteen-year-old Ya Wen, she struggles with not letting her legitimate fears for the safety of those she cares about rule her life.

Barrett “Bear” Clarke – The hero from book one in this series is back as Cameron’s best friend and local rancher. It’s great to see his and Claire’s story progress, as well as to see more of his relationship with Cameron.

Luke Thomas – The hero from book two in this series, he’s the local sheriff now, and happily married to Mary.  It is interesting to see how he’s adjusting to a more sedentary life and to see him placed in a position somewhat at odds with Samantha.

Okay, I just have to tell you there are so many more fantastic characters in this book – characters I would LOVE to see featured in their own books – but if I bring them up here it will spoil some surprises, so I am resisting. But only just.

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Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

I admit to a slight bias here as I had already fallen for Cameron in the first two books of this series and I have a particular interest in Chinese characters of this era. However, I think even without this, the first chapter alone would be enough to draw a reader into the story and the second would secure their emotional interest in seeing what becomes of Miss Samantha Klein, her big heart, and her vulnerable friends. By the third chapter if you aren’t dying to see how Samantha and Cameron get along . . . well, I just won’t understand it.

I could not put this book down. I fell in love with the characters, the town and the heart of God reflected in this story. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I loved that Cameron and Samantha both made real mistakes with real consequences, and I loved that they were forced to make difficult decisions as a result of those mistakes.

As I mentioned before, I especially enjoy reading about Chinese characters from this era. I also enjoy …. grrr. I SOOOO want to tell you something right now but I can’t. Not without spoiling a big surprise. So I will have to keep it to this:  Somehow Sondra Kraak managed to include several of my personal favorite elements in this story, making it my number one favorite of all her books. In fact, this book is one of the best that I have read in the past twelve months. (CLICK TO TWEET)

One last note:  Due to the nature of these two characters, this book gets a little more sizzly (I’m making this a word) than her previous two books in the Love That Counts series (while staying within the bounds, of course) and I have to admit, I enjoyed that also.

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Themes:

Overcoming past hurts.

Overcoming fear.

The role God plays in our emotions (vs intellect).

How God uses people to show His love.

Ending:

*Sigh* I cannot tell you how much I love and adore this ending. No, really, I can’t. Because if I told you all the reasons I loved it, I’d give away those surprises I keep mentioning. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Available for pre-order at:  Amazon

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Disclosure of Materials:  I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the author for the purposes of this review. (Although I also preordered an official copy for myself!) You can read My Promise to Readers HERE.

About the Author

Sondra Kraak

A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. After attending Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, she moved to North Carolina to work for a small non-profit ministry. It was in the backroom of that office, amid the clamor of copy machines and printers, that love blossomed. She married her mountain man in 2004, and they spent the first season of their marriage in New England where Sondra attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated with her Masters of Biblical Studies.

Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she works part-time at her church doing worship ministry and leading Bible studies. Life at home with her husband and children is full of Uno, backyard scrimmages, bedtime stories, and magically multiplying loads of laundry. She writes historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest through which her passion and delight is to provide readers with stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul.

Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015). Sondra has since published three novels.

Don’t forget! You can pre-order Three Words and a Kiss on Amazon TODAY!

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in the Love That Counts series?

TWEETABLES:

This book is one of the best that I have read in the past twelve months. #BookReview @KathleenDenly @SondraKraak (CLICK TO TWEET)

I could not put this book down. I fell in love with the characters, the town and the heart of God reflected in this story. #BookReview @KathleenDenly @SondraKraak (CLICK TO TWEET)

Check out this #BookReview for @SondraKraak’s newest book, Three Words and a Kiss! #ChristFic @KathleenDenly (CLICK TO TWEET)

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

My Review – No Small Storm

My Review - No Small Storm

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September 1815, Providence, Rhode Island

Thirty-year-old Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins loves her solitary life running the farm and orchard she inherited from her father and has no plans to give up her independence. Especially not for the likes of Mr. Graham Lott. But when Mem is unable to harvest the apples on her own, she accepts the help of the man she despises.

Fresh off a boat from Ireland with his four-year-old son in tow, Simon Brennan secures a building in which to ply his trade as a cobbler. Still healing from the grief of his wife’s death a year earlier, he determines to focus only on providing a good life for his son. But when he intervenes in an argument on behalf of the intriguing Miss Wilkins, sister-in-law of the tavern owner who befriends him, he suddenly finds himself crossways with his landlord, Mr. Lott, and relieved of his lease and most of his money.

With no means of support, Simon takes a job helping Mem with her harvest, relieving her of the need of Lott’s help. But their growing attraction to each other makes them both uneasy. Mem gladly escapes to town when her sister begins labor, and Simon, believing it best to distance himself from Mem, takes his son and leaves.

But neither anticipates the worst gale New England has ever seen—or that the storm will threaten all they hold dear.

Why This Book:

See the blurb above? That’s why. I was intrigued enough to check out the author. What I found encouraged me that the author was likely to deliver well on the promise of her premise, so I requested a review copy and a spot on her tour through Celebrate Lit.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Remembrance Wilkins – Mem to her friends and family – shivered, feeling to her bones the coolness of stone walls which never warmed. 

First Impressions:

While I wasn’t a fan of the interruption in the first sentence explaining her name, that was my only nit-picky dislike of the first scene of this novella. It was clear from the first page that this author had honed her craft as I was drawn in by descriptions that enticed my senses and a character whose struggles were clear and relatable. Like the first scene of a great movie, I felt I was there, in the story.

Characters:

Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins – The blurb for the novella explains her well. She is independent, capable, and intelligent. Without being arrogant or aggressive in any way, she understands the expectations of her neighbors, but refuses to conform to them. She is stubborn and her motives for being independent are certainly questionable – that’s the point of her character arc – but she is, for the most part, a calm, reasonable, responsible woman who works hard and is loyal to her family.

Simon Brennan – Another character who is well described in the novella’s blurb, Simon is a loving father and widower with a chip on his shoulder from past wrongs done him by those who are financially superior. This leaves him wary of becoming attached to Mem who is a landowner in her own right, making her financially superior to him. His driving desire is to prove himself in the economic realm – to gain financial equality with those currently above him. This desire is motivated not by greed, but pride and is connected to his character arc.

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Timothy Brennan – The four year old son of Simon, Timothy is bright, kind, and obedient. I found his behaviors and emotions completely believable for a child of his age in this time period.

Charity Hyer – Mem’s younger, married sister lives in town with her husband, Isaac, and their young daughters. At the start of the novella she is far along in her pregnancy and her history of quick deliveries adds to Mem’s worries. The two sisters have a healthy, loving, close relationship.

Isaac Hyer – Isaac Hyer owns the Gray Goose. He is a loving husband to Charity and caring father. However, he is also the younger brother of the man who betrayed Mem’s heart years prior and thus his resemblance serves as a reminder to Mem not to let her guard down.

Graham Lott – Having been a friend of Mem’s father, he uses that former relationship (Mem’s father has passed on) to declare himself her protector. Their twenty year age difference and Mem’s repeated refusals of his proposals don’t seem to have had any discouraging affect on his determination to gain ownership of her orchard. His character is made clear from the start and he is someone readers will love to loathe.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I mentioned in my First Impressions section, this novella drew me in from the very beginning. While the first third of the book had a comfortable, yet compelling, sense of tension, the last two thirds held me in such a grip I must confess to not getting to sleep until nearly four in the morning – when I’d turned the last page.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I loved that this story was sparked by actual historical events (as confirmed in the Author’s Notes at the end of the novella). Every historical detail felt rich, real, and true. While the climax may have stretched the bounds of believability (I’m making that a word), it didn’t completely break them, and honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. I was literally gnawing my lip as I read that scene, holding my breath as if I were … well, experiencing what the characters were experiencing. Needless to say, I loved it. Then I read the author’s notes at the end and realized that what I found barely plausible was actually based on a true historical event! I absolutely love when truth is stranger than fiction!

No Small Storm - Book Quote - Stave off Men

Themes:

While independence in and of itself is not wrong, independence sought for the wrong reasons and taken to the extreme of ignoring/denying one’s dependence on God is wrong.

Holding on to the wrongs done to you in the past can cost you not only your future happiness, but even those things which you currently hold dear.

Ending:

I loved the ending scenes of this novella. I felt they beautifully wrapped up everything the reader hoped for as we made our way through the story. My only complaint is that I wanted just a little bit more. While I realize this is a novella, I needed just a page or two more to luxuriate in the joy of where the characters’ journey had taken them. Nevertheless, I closed the book with a huge grin on my face and an eagerness to read more by this author.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Available at:  Amazon

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Let’s chat!

Do you prefer short endings, or would you rather have a little bit more time to enjoy the glow? Let me know in the comments below!

TWEETABLES:

Like the first scene of a great movie, I felt I was there, in the story. #BookReview @KathleenDenly

I was literally gnawing my lip as I read that scene, holding my breath as if I were … well, experiencing what the characters were experiencing. #BookReview @KathleenDenly

Check out @KathleenDenly’s #BookReview of No Small Storm by @AnneMateer!

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

No Small Storm FB Banner copy (1)

About the Author

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Anne Mateer has loved reading and writing stories since childhood. She is the author of 4 historical novels, 1 historical novella, and a few contemporary short stories. Anne and her husband of 30 years, Jeff, love to visit their grown children and tour historical sites. They are currently living an empty nest adventure in Austin, TX.

Guest Post from Anne Mateer

I’m always up for a good historical story. It’s what I enjoy reading. It’s what I enjoy writing. But I find that my pleasure in any historical fiction increases exponentially when the story at hand is based on at least a kernel of historical fact. All four of my full-length novels share this trait. So it stood to reason that when turning my mind to a historical novella I would seek the same grounding in truth I’ve sought before.

So what historical fact inspired No Small Storm? It was a combination of them, actually. Which I think always makes for the best tales!

I like an overarching historical event to help frame a story. Things like war or economic crisis or natural disaster. Situations in the historical record which required courage or resilience or sacrifice from the people who lived through them. When I stumbled upon the Great Gale of 1815, which hit Providence, Rhode Island particularly hard, I knew it could provide obstacles for my characters to overcome.

As I began to read about this event—a hurricane before such storms were commonly called hurricanes—I happened upon some first hand accounts of that day. Fascinating remembrances about a storm arriving without much preamble, then departing and leaving bright sunny skies with which to view the destruction.

And destruction there was! Not only from wind and water, but also the fact that both of those things unleashed the ships moored in the harbor and sent them sailing down the main street of town! Can you imagine looking out of the second or third story window of a building which was likely flooded on the ground floor and seeing a ship coming at you?

That, in itself, was dramatic enough. Especially when coupled with the fact that those ships often broke apart, whether from wind and waves or from contact with the buildings and bridges they encountered on land. Then I considered the people in those ships. What happened to them? Many were flung into the water, searching for purchase.

It was just such a circumstance that brought one man to the window of a young woman. She helped him inside. They were later married. And if finding such a story isn’t a romance writer’s delight, I don’t know what is!

Finally, as I continued to read about the destruction in the area, I discovered a few lines about area orchards. The hanging fruit was found covered with a dusting of white. When tasted, it was discovered to be salt. Salt from storm surge and sea spray. Salt that saturated, even miles inland. Water and wind—and the salt they carried—ruining fruit crops ready for harvest. What could be more devastating to a farmer than that?

And so No Small Storm was born, with Remembrance and Simon each trying to make a good life for themselves, each trying to trust God as they work hard. Each keeping careful watch over their heart. But sometimes circumstances take things we don’t want to give. And give things we never imagined possible.

Historical fact and spiritual truth. Characters who are a product of their times as well as universal in their struggles and desires. It’s the kind of story I love to read. And the kind of story I’m proud to write.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, February 6

Carpe Diem, February 6

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 7

Reading Is My SuperPower, February 7

The Power of Words, February 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 8

Inklings and notions, February 9

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Kathleen Denly, February 10 YAY, YOU’RE HERE! 😀

History, Mystery & Faith, February 10

Bukwurmzzz, February 11

Views From the Window Friend, February 11

By The Book, February 12

Maureen’s Musings, February 12

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 13

Mary Hake, February 13

proud to be an autism mom, February 14

Connie’s History Classroom, February 14

A Greater Yes, February 15

Janices book reviews, February 15

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 16

A Baker’s Perspective, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 17 (Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy)

Bigreadersite, February 18

Pink Granny’s Journey, February 19

Pursuing Stacie, February 19

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Anne is giving away a grand prize of a reader bag of goodies—including a Pride and Prejudice fleece throw, a “reading” charm necklace from Storied Jewelry, a Secret Garden litograph tote bag, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!Enter Here Button

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First Line Friday – 2.9.18

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Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

Today I’m sharing the first line from A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller. I’ll be sharing my full review of this book on February 19th, so be sure to check back then!

A Sweetwater River Romance

Choosing the first line for this novel was a bit tricky as it truly began with a copy of the advertisement written by Tori Boyd “Seeking a literate person in the western territories willing and eager to correspond with an easterner on a variety of topics.”, then Ezra’s initial letter in response, and then jumped to present day. In the end, I decided to share the first line from Ezra’s initial response to the advertisement:

Dear T.B.,

In response to your advertisement seeking a partner in correspondence, I find the idea more than a little intriguing.

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Taking flight from their quiet Pennsylvania town seems like the only way for Tori Boyd to protect her dearest cousin’s virtue. And the success of their escape may now depend on the man she’s been writing letters to for over a year now in the vast wilds of the Wyoming Territory.

Ezra Reid has finally stepped out from under the shadow of his older brother and sister, now having full responsibility to man the Rocky Ridge Stage Stop through the winter. The success or failure of the stage and telegraph contracts falls squarely on his shoulders, and he’s entirely focused on the work – at least until his mysterious correspondence partner shows up on his doorstep.

As Ezra takes on the search for a proper situation for Tori and her cousin, there seem to be no good options for the ladies. Especially since Tori won’t even discuss the one option that might succeed – marriage. When the danger chasing the women takes on a form none of them anticipated, how far will Ezra have to go to keep the Tori and her cousin safe? It’ll take a lot more than luck to ensure his heart is the sole casualty.

Be sure to sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss out on my full review of this novel!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

My Review – This Treacherous Journey

My Review - This Treacherous Journey

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Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing from the reward offered for her arrest. She’s innocent of the dirty dealings her deceased husband orchestrated, but the angry townspeople didn’t stop to listen to her defense before she narrowly escaped with her life. Now, she and her twin brother, Joseph, must battle the mountain wilderness of the Rockies to reach Canada and the clean start she craves. But when a fall from the rocky cliff leaves Joseph wounded and weak, could the strange mountain man they encounter be God’s gift to see them to safety?

Simeon Grant makes bad choices. His deceased wife and twin babies are lost to him now because of his reckless decisions, and the penance he pays by living alone in this mountain wilderness is only a small piece of what he thinks he deserves. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on his doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects the memories he’s worked so hard to forget. And when she asks for his help to travel deeper into the mountain country, he can’t help wonder why God would force him to relive the same mistakes he’s already suffered through. Or maybe taking these two to safety could be the way to redeem himself.

But when their travels prove more treacherous than he imagined, Simeon finds himself pressing the limits of his ability to keep Emma and her brother safe. Can he overcome the past that haunts him to be the man she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all?

Pre Order for just $0.99! RELEASES FEBRUARY 6, 2018!!!

Why This Book:

The ultimate clincher was that I had previously read and enjoyed the first two books in Misty M. Belle’s Mountain Dreams series. However, when I saw the opportunity to review this book for a Celebrate Lit tour I didn’t make the connection until I looked up the author. I didn’t realize there were more books in that series or I would have read them by now. Guess what got added to my To Be Read list? 😉

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

August, 1851
Rocky Mountains, Montana Territory

Simeon Grant glanced at his wife as another moan slipped from her lips.

First Impressions:

Let me start by saying that I always have, always will, read the Prologue. If you don’t… there are no word for how sorry I am for your loss. Thus, I of course, will give my first impression based on the prologue – in this case the first part of a two part prologue. (Yes, you need to read both!)

By the second paragraph of this novel you know we’re dealing with a caring husband watching his very pregnant wife riding a horse and suffering some sort of unexpected, intense pain. By the end of the third paragraph you know they’re in the middle of nowhere and he is very worried about finding help. That right there was enough to hook me. Between the content and the writing, I knew I was in for a good story.

This Treacherous Journey - Book Quote - Horse

Characters:

Simeon Grant – If you read the prologue, you can’t help but feel Simeon’s pain and deeply understand his struggle throughout the rest of the book. The choices he makes are believable – even down to his desperate decisions at the peak of the book’s crisis. (I’ll talk more about this below.) Without repeating what has already been stated about him in the book’s blurb, I can only add that it doesn’t take long for the reader to feel convinced he is exactly the person Emma needs and she is exactly the person he needs.

Emma (Carter) Malcom  – Emma is a woman whose past choices have shaped her present, but who won’t allow them to dictate her future. It is clear in a way that isn’t remotely preachy that Emma’s admirable strength and resilience derives from her faith in God.

Joseph Malcom – Emma’s twin brother gives up everything in the blink of an eye to see his sister to safety. He is responsible, loyal, trustworthy, and tough as nails. The poor guy does not have it easy in this book, but I think I like him better for it. My only real quibble with him is that at one point he doesn’t reveal a very important piece of information for reasons that are never explained in the book. That said, my first thought about Joseph when I sat down to describe him was that I hope the author has another book planned with him as the lead, because I would want to read it. He doesn’t steal the show, but he is definitely a fully developed and likable character.

Book Quote - This Treacherous Journey - Joseph

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

From the first page, I was drawn into Simeon’s world and held captive by the depth of his love, his loss, and eventually, his journey toward healing. At no time did I find the story dragging and there was only one, short-lived issue which distanced me from the story (more on that below). Still, I always wanted to know what happened next. I wanted to continue this treacherous journey and see what became of these characters.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I’ll begin with what I especially liked. I am always excited when adoption, fostering, orphans, or other children in need are included in a story. That said, as an adoptive mother and former foster parent, I am especially sensitive to how members of the adoption triad are portrayed. Thus, without giving too much away, I want to say that I very much appreciated the way the author handled this subject in the story.

That said, there is another topic I have always been sensitive to:  issues of race. While I appreciate the tough position this author bravely put herself in by taking the story in the direction she did, I am uncomfortable with the way the Native Americans were portrayed in this story at the peak of the book’s crisis. To some degree, I can see the historical basis for what was written, however, I feel it could have been handled better. Perhaps I’m being too picky. I don’t know. I don’t expect history to be portrayed in a white-washed manner (no pun intended at all) that sugarcoats what happened back then. Historically, both sides made some seriously bad choices – I won’t get into the pointless argument of which was worse or why. I guess I was just hoping the author would leave a comment at the end explaining the historical basis for the choices she made in this part of her story. I think that would have helped. As it was, the scenes where the Native Americans featured prominently pulled me a bit out of the story because I wondered if this sort of thing really happened. I am aware of situations like this occurring in other parts of the country, involving other tribes, and under different circumstances, but I had not ever read of this sort of thing happening in this way and involving this particular tribe. Granted, I have not done an extensive amount of research on this particular topic, but prior to writing this review I spent about an hour trying to find any online record of a similar occurrence involving this tribe at any point in history, but was unsuccessful in my search. If someone knows of one, please leave a link below! Just be careful to warn others if you mention spoilers in your comment.

But I don’t want to conclude on this note because, although important, it really is only a small part of this otherwise marvelous story that captured my imagination and took me along on a journey I won’t soon forget.

Another element I especially liked was how the author made conscious choices that kept this story from crossing the bounds of plausibility.  This is difficult to explain without revealing spoilers, but let me say as an example that even when a character attempted something outrageous, it was brought back to earth by the way in which he/she went about it and the consequences of it.

Lastly, I think this story does any excellent job of demonstrating how God uses even the tragedies in our life for our good. I’d give specific examples, but of course that would require spoilers.

Themes:

The grave and rippling consequence of decisions made.

In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.

Even when we are lost, we aren’t lost from God.

This Treacherous Journey - Book Quote - Lost

Ending:

The ending of this novel gave me just about everything I could have asked for. Events unfolded and relationships changed in ways that were thoroughly satisfying as a conclusion to the journey the author had taken us on through these characters.

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Available at Amazon:  Pre Order for just $0.99! RELEASES FEBRUARY 6, 2018!!!

Let’s chat!

How do you feel about characters who attempt outrageous feats? Let me know in the comments below!

TWEETABLES:

Read @KathleenDenly’s #BookReview of This Treacherous Journey by @MistyMBeller

A marvelous story that captured my imagination and took me along on a journey I won’t soon forget. #BookReview @KathleenDenly

From the first page, I was drawn into Simeon’s world and held captive by the depth of his love, his loss, and eventually, his journey toward healing. #BookReview @KathleenDenly

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

 

This Treacherous Heart FB Banner copy

About the Author

Misty

Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family–both immediate and extended–is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Learn more at http://www.MistyMBeller.com.

Guest post from Misty M. Beller

The Treasure of Family

I’m an old-fashioned girl. Always have been. And growing up on the family farm, with grandparents in the old farmhouse next door and cousins living all around us, I can’t imagine my life without family. Now that I’m married with three daughters of my own, I treasure my family even more—both immediate and extended!

In my books, I tend to weave the importance of family into each story somewhere, and This Treacherous Journey is no exception! I first wrote the prologue as a standalone short story, the account of the birth of the hero from another of my books (Reuben Scott from The Lady and the Mountain Call).

It was the story of a father, grieving the loss of his wife and feeling as if he has no choice but to give his newborn twins to another family to raise. I wrote this part of the story a week after my third daughter was born, and I cried buckets through the writing! The story has an even stronger emotional connection for me, because my younger brother and sister were both adopted into our family. I can’t imagine their birth parents having the courage to give them up for adoption unless they knew without a doubt it was the best choice for those sweet babies.

So, as you read This Treacherous Journey, it’s my prayer that you’ll take a moment to cherish your own family. Remember all the special moments. Spend extra time with those you love. Relish the treasures God placed in your life!

Blog Stops

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, February 3

History, Mystery & Faith, February 4

A Greater Yes, February 4

margaret kazmierczak, February 4 (Interview)

Kathleen Denly, February 5

Blogging With Carol, February 5

Faithfully Bookish, February 6

Books n baubles, February 6

Mommynificent, February 7

Connie’s History Classroom, February 7

Reading Is My SuperPower, February 8

The Fizzy Pop Collection, February 8

proud to be an autism mom, February 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 9

Mary Hake, February 9

Blossoms and Blessings, February 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 10

Texas Book-aholic, February 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 11

Zerina Blossom’s Books, February 12

Bigreadersite, February 12

Kat’s Corner Books, February 13

Janices book reviews, February 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 14

Carpe Diem, February 14

A Baker’s Perspective, February 15

Karen Sue Hadley, February 15

Pursuing Stacie, February 16

Simple Harvest Reads, February 16 (Guest post from Mindy)

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

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