First Line Friday – 10.19.17


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!

This week I am trying something a little different. I’m having trouble deciding which book to read next and I’d love your opinion!  Below, I am sharing the first lines from each of the books I am debating between.

Take a look and let me know in the comments which one you think I should read first!

Option #1:

My Foolish Heart cover image

Here’s the first line:

For two hours a night, Monday through Saturday, Isadora Presley became the girl she’d lost.

Here’s the description:

Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she’s never really done either. Issy’s ratings soar when it seems she’s falling in love on-air with a caller. A caller she doesn’t realize lives right next door.

Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moves to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation he seeks advice from My Foolish Heart, the show that airs before his favorite sports broadcast.

Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host—and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio . . . Or the one next door?


Option #2:

An Improper Proposal cover image

Here’s the first line:

Olin Springs, Colorado, 1880

The shooter did not flinch.

Here’s the description:

Love hadn’t brought her to Colorado, but it might be the one thing that keeps her there.

Mail order bride Mae Ann Remington won’t let circumstances get in her way. When someone else’s greed costs her everything—including her groom—she does the only thing she can in a new town with no money or friends. She asks a stranger to marry her.

Cattleman Cade Parker stops at the bank to withdraw cash for his sister, not find himself a wife. But that’s exactly what happens after a bank robbery leaves a farmer dead and his headstrong bride-to-be making a desperate business proposition.

Convinced he’s gone loco, Cade accepts the spirited young woman’s offer, and they stop by the church before heading to the ranch, his horses, and the herd. He’s soon adding to Mae Ann’s fine cooking skills by teaching her to ride, shoot, and do what he tells her. She manages the first two fairly well, but gets her back up at the third.

Cade struggles to keep his emotional distance from the stubborn gal whose gentle ways start drawing him in. But when a greedy neighbor challenges Mae Ann’s inheritance of her former intended’s run-down farm, Cade and Mae Ann drive to court at the county seat and into the jaws of a deadly storm. Not only must Cade fight to keep his new bride safe, he’s got to keep his heart from stampeding out of control.

Taking on snakes, scoundrels, and second chances is one thing, but falling in love wasn’t part of the deal.


The Comparison:

First of all, both of these authors are new to me, which I love.

Secondly, Option #1 is categorized as a Christian romance while Option #2 is categorized as a “Sweet Romance”.

Thirdly, Option #1 is contemporary while Option #2 is historical.

Why each appeals to me:

Option 1: Um, hello? That first line is fantastic! Are you kidding me? Yes! I’m hooked. Plus, the whole bit about the hero debating between two women who are really the same person… how fun is that?

Option 2: I know, I wrote a whole paragraph on how overdone the mail-order bride thing has been, but 1) it’s been done so often for a reason and 2) I love the twist this author gives it by shooting the heroine’s intended right off the bat. So cold. Genius. But cold. Plus, the first page is very compelling. I had to make myself put it down to go feed my kids.

Okay, so those are my thoughts. Tell me yours. Which do you think I should read first and WHY?

And don’t forget to grab the book nearest to you and include the first (or your favorite) line in your comment!

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

Spotlight – Stuck Together

Spotlight - Stuck Together


When a lawman who values order gets stuck with a feisty crusader who likes to stir things up, there’s going to be trouble in Texas!

Now that she’s settled in town, Tina Cahill is determined to get Broken Wheel’s saloon closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname “Invincible Vince” because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn’t know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is showing signs of dementia. And his surprise sister quickly falls for one of Vince’s best friends. Vince suddenly has a lot of people depending on him, and Tina doesn’t approve of how he’s handling any of them.

With nearly every other man in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with strong-willed Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her crazy causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he’s got one more surprise coming his way: Tina’s picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Other books in the series:

Swept Away
Book 1 in the Trouble in Texas series
Fired Up
Book 2 in the Trouble in Texas series


A little about Mary:

Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy…with cowboys.

She is a Carol Award winner, and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

She is the author of bestselling Kincaid Brides Series: Out of Control, In Too Deep, Over the Edge. The Trouble in Texas Series; Swept Away, Fired Up, Stuck Together. The Wild at Heart Series; Tried and True, Now and Forever, Fire and Ice. Her work also includes Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, Montana Marriages Trilogy and Sophie’s Daughters Trilogy. And Novella collections; A Bride for All Seasons, Four Weddings and a Kiss, A Match Made in Texas, Hope for the Holidas Contemporary Collection, Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection, With this Kiss Contemporary Collection, With this Kiss Historical Collection and many more books.

Under the pen name Mary Nealy, she also wrote Ten Plagues–a romantic thriller, and The Historical Society Murders–three cozy mysteries.

Mary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters and a small bevy of spectacular grandchildren.

My ThoughtsStuck Together is the third book in Mary Connealy’s Trouble in Texas series. I have read and enjoyed all three. Filled with Connealy’s laugh-out-loud humor and compelling adventure, this series has been a fun read which I can highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a good romantic comedy set in the wild west.

First Line Friday – 10.13.17


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!

This week I am sharing the first line from the book I am currently reading, Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham.

Just the Way You Are cover image

Here’s the first line:

One step into the massive glass-walled waiting area was all it took.

Here’s the description:

Single mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance housed within a centuries-old mystery, but when she travels to England to unearth the secret, an actor with a sordid past offers her heart a very different type of discovery.

Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, he’s managed to avoid romantic entanglements since a tragedy upended his career and life, that is until American Eisley Barrett comes along. Her authenticity and kindness upend his bitter assumptions and send his heart into unscripted territory.

When his past threatens to ruin a second chance at love, can some Appalachian matchmaking and letters from the grave salvage their unexpected romance?

Humor, love, mystery, cute kids, crazy families, and culture clashes make this Britallachian Romance a unique and delightful romantic comedy sprinkled with adventure.

Now it’s your turn! 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 – Love Held Captive

My Review - Love Held Captive


After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.

Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.

Why This Book:

My first attempt at a historical fiction novel was set in early nineteenth century Texas, so the setting of this novel immediately caught my attention.  Then the premise of a man falling for the woman whose home he previously raided absolutely hooked me. Guess that’s why they call it a “hook.” 😉

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

The Menger Hotel San Antonio, Texas
Thursday, October 31, 1867

She never should have had her back to the door.

First Impressions:

Above I shared the first line from the first Chapter because I felt it stood stronger as a stand alone sentence than the first sentence of the prologue. However, the prologue takes us through Ethan Kelly’s raid of Lizbeth Barclay’s home. For me, this prologue was the ultimate test of the author’s skill – to make us understand and care for a man raiding the home of an innocent, vulnerable, and clearly traumatized starving young woman. Fail here and I may despise the hero, leaving me no reason to continue reading. (Who wants to read a romance where an innocent woman falls for an evil man and that is the happily ever after?) Well, I am thrilled to report that Shelley Shephard Gray navigated this minefield with success and finesse. By the end of the prologue I may have questions about Ethan’s choices, but I don’t despise him and I want to see him succeed. So I keep reading.

Quote Image - Love Held Captive - Door


Captain/Major Ethan Kelly – Son of a wealthy family, he has trouble adjusting to normal life after the war.


Lizbeth Barclay – Lost everything in the war – her home, her family, her sense of safety & self worth. Her dreams. When her path reunites with that of Ethan Kelly’s she isn’t living. She’s still just surviving.

Captain Devin Monroe –  A loyal friend, and the choosiest man I’ve ever read about, no woman has ever caught his fancy. Till he meets Julianne Van Fleet.

Julianne Van Fleet – Though she never approached the battle field, nor had her home raided, the war has left her with scars nonetheless. Hers just aren’t the visible kind.

Colonel Daniel Bushnell – (Yes, I know the description names him “Adam Bushnell”, but I assure you, in the novel his name is Daniel.) A twisted man with his own agenda, the power of his military rank went to his head and he isn’t ready to let the power go.

Quote Image - Love Held Captive - Spark

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

The stories behind these characters is emotionally powerful and as a reader I became immediately invested in seeing them succeed in finding healing and happiness. The story had me firmly in its grip all the way through to the end. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t want to say goodbye when it was over.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

The unique premise of this book is what hooked me and the author didn’t disappoint in her execution. Not only did this author present unique situations, but she provided fresh feeling characters to experience them.

Quote Image - Love Held Captive - Truth Ally


Recovering from tragedy and making sense of it in the context of God’s goodness.

The difficulty of discerning right and wrong in tragic circumstances.

Forgiveness of self and others.


Without giving too much away, I will say that I loved the twists the author took on her way to this novel’s conclusion. It’s very tempting to say more, but I don’t want to give anything away. Just trust me, you won’t be disappointed by the ending of this novel.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Did I mention Love Held Captive releases TOMORROW? 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

Let’s chat!

Which part of this novel most appeals to you?

Have you ever encountered a hero you couldn’t stand? Did you finish that book? What makes you despise a hero?

If you’ve read this novel:  This author handles matters thoroughly dipped in gray – no black or white here – how do you think she did?


He raided her home. Can he earn her trust and win her heart?

Will their past destroy their future?

He won’t let his power go. How many will pay the price?

Rising from tragedy, they must fight for their future.

I didn’t want to put it down, nor say goodbye when it was over. 

This story had me firmly in its grip all the way through the end. 

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

First Line Friday – 10.6.17


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!

This week I am sharing the first line from Written in the Dust by Christina Coryell.

Written in the Dust

Here’s the first line:

It had been way too long since she’d cut anyone.

This is book two in Coryell’s Backroads series which just released this week! I can’t tell you how excited I am to read it since the last book left me eager for more.  Here’s the description:

There are two basic types of people you’ll come across in small towns. Planters have the land in their blood and want to stay forever. Dreamers long for the day they will finally escape. Holly Christian? Definitely a planter. She’s never considered leaving for greener pastures, but it’ll be a whole lot easier to move forward when people finally stop telling her that will never happen. Thank goodness she has an ally in Hunter Pearce. He has no desire to leave now that he has what he’s always wanted. Well…almost. The words he can’t take back are still clinging closer than a humid summer afternoon.

Then there’s Gatlin Moore, who leans more in the dreamer direction. He used to imagine a future away from his hometown, but circumstances changed his plans long ago. Now he can’t stop thinking about bringing some of his dreams back to life, namely the ones that involve Brooke Langdon. Breaking up in their small town was hard, but getting back together might prove impossible. She may not be around long, unless she rediscovers what she used to love about the place. Putting her future in order by piecing together the past could mend her heart…or break it for keeps.

Welcome to Hope Canyon. This is our backroads story.

Now it’s your turn! 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:

Best Places to Read a Book

Sometimes you read in a chair, sometimes in bed, but what about all those other places you could be reading? Allow me to suggest some reading locations you may not have tried (or at least haven’t tried in a very long time):

#5 Hammock

Okay, sure, plenty of people have read in hammocks, but have you ever read in a hammock swinging above pure inspiration? I read in such a hammock once upon a time. When I was very young my parents had a hammock strung up between two porch-cover posts. Beneath the hammock was a small garden bed populated by the cutest little frog and gnome statues you have ever seen. I know, it sounds tacky, but trust me, it was adorable. And you should have read the stories it inspired in my young mind. Who knows? Perhaps it was that set of kissing frogs that first kindled my love for romance.


#4 Blanket fort

I know. Most of us grown ups are simply too busy to build our own blanket fort. (Although if you can, you should. I’m of the firm opinion that most adults don’t get nearly enough play time.) However, if you are blessed enough to have little halflings running about your home you may have noticed their tendency to spend hours building these temporary structures only to abandon them after minimal use. (It may even be acceptable to offer digital bait to entice them from their layer – that’s your call.) This is your moment. When the halflings have wandered off to destroy – er play somewhere else, you sneak in with your book and flashlight (or e-reader), close the blanket-door behind you and delve into another world.


#3 On a swing at the beach

This one is really a two-fer.

You could just read on a swing. Can you imagine reading about a space battle or jet fight while swinging through the sky?

You could also just read at the beach. What better way to immerse yourself in that tropical island romance than while sinking your toes in the warm sand?

But one of the best places I have found to read is on a swing at the beach. Specifically near dusk when everyone else has mostly gone home for the day. It’s quiet. The waves are crashing. And you’re soaring. Back and forth through the deepening blue sky. As you read how a new love makes the heroine feel as though she were floating.


#2 On top of a mountain

This is another throwback to when I was young. My dad was working graveyard at the electrical company and my mom was juggling swing shifts at the local hospital on her way to an RN degree. Family time was tough to come by, but my parents did their best. This time, they knocked it out of the park. We lived in a very urban setting, but there was a hill behind our neighborhood, as yet untouched by development and covered in hiking trails. One day my parents took us hiking up that mountain. We were young, so I don’t know how far we actually traveled, but it felt like we walked all day. It was several hours at least. The highlight of our hike? Our glowing reward for all that stomping up dirt? Our own little Bible study and worship session right there at the top of the mountain. Three-hundred sixty degree views of the city below us, blue skies above, nature all around, my family, and God’s Word. It’s something I’ll never forget.


#1 Historical Site/Treasure

Hello. I write historical romance. You probably saw this one coming, but can you argue my point? Picture yourself reading a Civil War era novel on the fields of Gettysburg, a railroad heist novel on a restored steam engine (moving or stationary – it’s up to you), or better yet, reading my Waltz with Me novel on a bench in the middle of Old Town San Diego. What better way to make a story come to life?


Well, those are 5 of my favorite places to read. What about you?

Have any secret spots you care to share?


Where do you read? 5 New Places to Try!



First Line Friday – 9.29.17


Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from The Vegas Proposal by Julie Jarnagin.

The Vegas Proposal

Here’s the first line:

A high-pitched shriek echoed down the hall of the wedding chapel.

I admit, the cover and the title are what drew me in to giving this new-to-me author a try. I was looking for something fun and light and this seemed to fit the bill. While it was an entertaining and different sort of book from what I typically read, I have mixed feelings about how it dealt with the issue of divorce. Outside of that, I found the story to be sweet and enjoyable.

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

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes