My Review – When You Look At Me

My Review - When You Lookt At Me

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An unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Amazon

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Searching for Love

Why This Book:

I have been a fan of Pepper Basham’s writing since I read her debut novel, The Thornbearer and have read every book she has written since then.

Opening Lines:

Julia Jenkins was a glass-half-full person.

Well, most of the time.

First Impressions:

The character of Julia immediately intrigued me (although I have to disagree with her assessment of baths & pregnancy – I couldn’t have survived my pregnancies without those long soaks!) and I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to know how she’d gotten into her situation and how she was going to handle it now that she was there.

Main Characters:

Julia Jenkins –  As I mentioned, Julia intrigued me at the start and she continued to hold my interest throughout the book. This is a woman with a quiet strength. The type of person you might not notice when you first enter a room, but whose strength and courage will astound you in times of trial. Most importantly, her faith is a thing of incredible beauty.

Henry Wright – Oh how I love the chuckle Pepper gave me by giving Julia a “Mr. Wright.” Name aside, however, the character of Henry had to grow on me a bit. It wasn’t that I initially disliked him — I liked him right away — but he is so unique and his introversion is expressed in such an unusual manner that it did take some getting used to. In the end, my heart was completely won over by this one-of-a-kind, heart-meltingly loyal, and inspiringly selfless man.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Liked her more

Amelia Dawn aka Aunt Millie – Julia’s recently deceased aunt is a source of mystery. A recluse in her old age, Amelia’s life before settling near Pleasant Gap is mostly unknown, despite Julia’s close relationship with her in recent years. Throughout the novel, Julia and Henry attempt to uncover Amelia’s secrets and I have to tell you, what they find is worth the search.

Eisley Jenkins – Heroine of the first book in this series, Eisley is one of Julia’s sisters and longtime girlfriend of Wes Harrison (see below).  Her role is important, but not large in this book, although she does get a couple scenes as the Point of View character. (For anyone not familiar with that term, it means the scene is written as if the reader is in her head, hearing her thoughts, seeing what she sees, etc.)

Wes Harrison –  Hero of the first book in this series, Wes is back in this book as the longtime boyfriend of Eisley and best friend of Henry. As with Eisley, his role is important, but not large in this book.

Nate Jenkins – Father of Julia Jenkins, he is naturally protective of his daughter – even more so given her recent experiences – and he provokes some very entertaining and also very touching scenes in this novel. Fair warning:  one of his scenes had me wiping moisture from my eyes and swallowing a lump in my throat. While not perfect, in many ways, he’s what dads should be.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Pregnant

 

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I stated above, I was immediately engaged by the character Julia and eventually loved the character of Henry. The story maintained a comfortable tension throughout, with the expected increase of intensity growing toward the climax, so of course, I kept reading.

Not only were the hero and heroine of this book engaging, but the secondary characters were equally so. Pepper has done an excellent job developing the Jenkins family and I am looking forward to reading more stories featuring them. Henry’s family was refreshingly dysfunctional and I loved the surprising and compassionate way in which Pepper portrayed them. This book made me laugh out loud, shake my head, and wipe away pesky tears.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Bad Idea

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I’ll begin by stating that this story captured first my interest and then my heart. However,  I admit to not being as big of a fan of the big duet scene between the two main characters which I have read other reviewers rave about. To be clear: I didn’t dislike the scene. I just didn’t love it. I think my lack of enthusiasm can be attributed to my general lack of passion for the lingo of music. While I love listening to it, I am neither a player nor a student of that particular art. Therefore, I think some of the subtler nuances of that side of the story – the various musical vocabulary and phrasing sprinkled throughout the story – may have escaped me. Nonetheless, I never felt that I was in any way lost or confused about what was going on.

Furthermore, there were many, many other things to delight me in this story. I completely related to many of the experiences Julia had in regards to her pregnancy, and, in some ways, I could relate to Henry’s need for moments of solitude. The love which grows between the two main characters is something I couldn’t help but feel in a very real way. The unexpected twists Pepper created in this story kept me very happy as a reader, and as always, her literary gift with words was a music all its own.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Bravery

Theme:

God is our source of purpose, courage, and healing.

Ending:

Wonderful and full of small twists you didn’t see coming. This ending is sure to leave you grinning.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in the Pleasant Gap series? What do you think it means to be courageous?

TWEETABLES:

“This story captured first my interest and then my heart.” Read the #BookReview!  @Pepper Basham @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2QVNPU2

“This book made me laugh out loud, shake my head, and wipe away pesky tears.”  Read the #BookReview! @Pepper Basham @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2QVNPU2

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


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.

First Line Friday – 11.16.18 – SPECIAL EDITION

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Hi Everyone! If you’re new here, First Line Friday is a post where we get to share the first line from whatever book is nearest us or on our minds lately. It’s a great way to discover fantastic new reads. However, today is an extra special edition of First Line Friday because today I not only get to share the first line from one of my favorite books with you, but I also get to tell you that you can own the entire book for FREE!!! Yes, really! (ebook only)

So what is this fabulous book? It’s One Plus One Equals Trouble by Sondra Kraak, one of my favorite authors.

one plus one equals trouble

Here is the first line:

Pine Creek, Washington, 1891

Killing Edward Stevens was beyond her proper ways.

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The one room schoolhouse isn’t big enough to hold thirty-four students, let alone the egos of two teachers. He can’t afford to lose the position, and she refuses to lose her heart.

Washington, 1891

Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired.

When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land.

Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart.

With large doses of humor and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story offers a picture of grace, forgiveness, and finding true worth.

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So what are you waiting for? This fabulous book is only free for three days: November 16, 17 & 18!

Click on the link below or the picture above to grab your FREE copy!

AMAZON

New here? Like what you see?

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Author Interview – Tara Johnson

Author Interview Blog Header - Tara Johnson

Hi everyone! Let’s give a warm welcome to Tara Johnson who has kindly agreed to join us for an interview today! Her debut novel, Engraved on the Heart was released July 1, 2018 and I have to tell you, I have read it and absolutely loved it! In fact, that is exactly why I asked her to do this interview. I wanted to know more about the woman who could create such a beautiful story.

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engraved on the heart cover photo

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines―until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

AMAZON

A Little about Tara

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Tara Johnson is an author, speaker and passionate lover of stories. She enjoys traveling to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleasing preacher’s kid.

Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, as well as numerous other accolades. She has articles published in Plain Truth Magazine and Live It Loud Magazine and has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio, Enduring Word radio, television and podcasts. Tara is a member of ACFW and is represented by Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas.

Website: www.TaraJohnsonStories.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarajohnsonministry/

 

the-interview

Welcome, Tara! I always like to start with something a little fun and what’s more fun than being a kid? 

Can you share with us which is your favorite childhood book?

When I was nine, my parents bought me the entire Little House book set. I read it through a dozen times. After that, it was the entire eight-book set of Anne of Green Gables. I still have all of them. They have been read so often, the spines are held together with duct tape. Looking back, Little House and Anne Shirley taught me more about life than I realized. And of course, like a true eighties’ child, I also had a big collection of Sweet Valley Twins, Nancy Drew and Mandie books too.

Little House & Anne Book Sets w Watermark
A very small part of Kathleen’s Classic Books Collection

As you can see in this photo, Tara, we have a lot in common. (I sold my SV collection a few years back.) You can also see that my children have had access to the Little House Collection which is the same set my dad read to my sister and me when we were in elementary school. Can I borrow your duct tape? 😉

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I never have. I understand why many people do. Privacy is so incredibly important, especially in this day and age when personal information is at everyone’s fingertips. Still, I’ve always desired to just be myself.

That’s a really interesting way of looking at it. I know some authors also use it as a way to branch into different genres without confusing their readers.

How many unpublished and/or unfinished books do you have?

Other than the two books set to release with Tyndale in the next two years, I have seven more unpublished fiction stories, another one that I’ve just started and ideas for three more. I’ve written an unpublished Bible study for young teen girls entitled Beyond the Fairytale, and another incomplete nonfiction work about understanding pastors and their families.

Wow. You’ve been busy! I am so excited that you have two more books coming out in the next two years!!!

How do you select the names of your characters?

Picking names appropriate for the time period is important. I always do a census search of names for the time period. There were some pretty creative names in the 1800s! Sometimes when I’m stumped on a name, I turn to my social media friends for help. Their creativity is astounding!

You’re so right about the unusual names. I’ve come across some in those census records that made me think, “If I used this my readers would never believe it was a period accurate name.”

What is your research process like?

Once I have an idea for a story, I spend a month or two learning as much as I can about the subject. I’ll read a ridiculous number of books about the event, time period or person, watch Youtube or Netflix documentaries and search up as many podcasts as possible. When I feel fairly confident in the subject matter, and know the characters well, I begin writing, but continually have to look up more research as the story unfolds.

Our processes sound very similar.

What was the most challenging part of your research for Engraved on the Heart?

Researching the Civil War is tough. There is so much blood and gore. Having to immerse myself in that world for weeks on end is probably the most challenging part of the research process. When I start writing a new book, my dreams resemble horror movies. Some of the most bizarre research I encountered were oddities like Secesh goods—bowls and goblets made from Yankee skulls. Confederate tradesmen actually sold them on the streets of Southern towns.

Harper's Weekly June 7 1862 - Full Page not full edition
A cartoon depicting secesh goods appears at the top of this Harper’s Weekly page taken from the June 7, 1862 edition.
Click this image to read more of the Harper’s Weekly editions printed during the Civil War. Harper’s Weekly is in the public domain in the United States. 

Despite the harshness of this period in history, to forget it would be tragic. Who we are, what we’ve learned, the inventions, innovations, cultural changes and broken barriers are because of the Civil War. Though the research can be grueling, I won’t allow myself the luxury of looking away. To look away is willful ignorance, and ignorance always breeds fear.

Very wise words.

Why this setting?

The spark of the idea for Engraved on the Heart began when our family visited Savannah, Georgia several years ago. I was entranced with the history and charm of the town. Secrets seemed to ooze out of every corner.

My family opted to take a historic riding tour of the city. I was especially intrigued by a fact rattled off by our tour guide. “Many of the older homes and buildings in and around the outskirts of Savannah were built by slaves. In fact, if you look closely, you can find some of their fingerprints in the bricks.”

Later that day, we walked down the cobblestone streets, admiring the elaborate iron fences guarding beautiful homes trimmed with colorful flowers. As I passed a home, a darkened impression molded into the crumbling brick snagged my attention. I sucked in a surprised breath over the precious detail. There it was, staring back at me. The fingerprint of a slave.

I ran my finger over the scarred impression, marveling that such a small mark could tell such an exquisite story. Running my fingers over that precious print linked me inextricably to the past, binding an invisible cord between the nameless slave and me. God slowly unfurled a story in my heart. I’ve loved Savannah ever since.

I love that story!  

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I don’t really hide any secrets, but I do have a secret way of building each story I create. I can’t give you the details though. It’s a secret! 😉

Oh, come on. Not even a hint? 😉

Are there any deleted scenes from this book that you can tell us about without giving any spoilers?

There was a major scene my editor and I struggled to delete. We went back and forth trying to decide if we should leave it in or cut it. In the end, we thought the story would be much more realistic, and a bit poignant, to leave it out. I won’t say where the scene was placed for those who haven’t read it, but I had originally intended for Hiriam to be reunited with his long-lost daughter. Cutting that scene was extremely difficult.

Having read the book and loved that character, I can imagine how painful that decision was. While I can understand and can’t really argue with the reasoning behind the decision, I have to admit I’m curious to know how it would have played out. Maybe you could share it someday. It would be like the deleted scenes they sometimes give as bonus material for movies. 🙂 

What do you want readers to expect when they read Engraved on the Heart?

Great question! My main purpose in writing Engraved on the Heart was a spiritual one. I grew up with a seizure disorder, just like my heroine Keziah did. All of us face hardships of some kind or another, whether physical or emotional, but if we aren’t on guard, the enemy will tell us we have no worth.

A lie is only harmful if we believe it. The truth is Jesus thought we were so valuable, He died to keep us. I want my readers to know they are loved. They are wanted. They are cherished by the God of the universe. The scars in His hands prove it.

Amen. I love how you shared that message through the story without a hint of preaching.

Can you share with us a new or new-to-you author whose book you read this year and are excited about?

Two new-to-me authors are Carrie Turansky and Cynthia Roemer. I recently read Carrie’s novel Across the Blue and was struck with how tenderly she addressed tough issues. I’m currently reading Cynthia Roemer’s Under This Same Sky and am having a hard time putting it down. Such engaging characters!

Across the Blue Under this Same Sky

Which writers’ conference would you most recommend to writers in your genre?

There are several excellent ones, but two of the best are Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and American Christian Writers Conference. Both have deepened my understanding of the craft, connected me to amazing industry professionals and allowed me to forge lifelong friendships with other authors. Best of all, both conferences point my heart to Christ for creativity and direction.

I agree. Both great conferences!

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

Wow. There are so many. Too many to name, but I’ll mention a few.

Francine Rivers and Allen Arnold have taught me my relationship with God is more important than anything else. Without that life-giving connection, writing is an empty endeavor. Laura Frantz is kindness personified. She has loved me into the writing community with such grace. I think kindness is a hallmark of all her relationships. Jennifer Major has taught me laughter is not just a gift for the journey…it’s vital. Savanna Kaiser and Cara Grandle are my critique buddies, but more importantly, they are my spiritual warfare partners and prayer warriors. We lift each other up when the enemy throws his tough stuff our way. Though I haven’t known Tamera Alexander long, she taught me something invaluable. Her gentle reminder that “My books aren’t my babies,” was deeply profound in helping me understand these creative things we produce are just that…a product. They have no affect on our worth, our relationship with God, or anything else. And it greatly takes the sting out of any criticism that comes when I keep that simple fact forefront in my mind.

There are so many others. Sweet friends like Jocelyn Green, Karen Barnett, Kim Sawyer, Robin Lee Hatcher, Sarah Sundin and more who have shown me incredible kindness as a newbie. They were willing to offer reviews, critiques and encouragement when they had nothing to gain. I’m forever grateful to them.

Often the writer’s journey is depicted as a solitary one, and sometimes I suppose it is, but for most of us, we need the support of others to help us along the way. I’m so glad to know you’ve found those people. 

Tara, thank you for taking the time to share so much about yourself and how Engraved on the Heart came to be! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better. Please keep us updated on your writing journey – particularly when you know the release dates for your upcoming books! 🙂

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engraved on the heart cover photo

I loved this book so much that I want to share its wonderful goodness with more readers! So I have decided that in celebration of getting to know Tara a little better today, I will giveaway an eBook copy of Engraved on the Heart to one of you! All you have to do to enter is:

  1. Sign up to become a member of Kathleen’s Reader’s Club,
  2. Share this post on either Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook (share must be public & tagged @KathleenDenly), and
  3. Leave a comment on this post telling me which part of Tara’s interview you enjoyed the most!

 

DEADLINE TO ENTER: Midnight, November 16, 2018

 

New here? Like what you see so far? Enjoy reading Christian romance?

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

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Author Interview - Engraved on the Heart Instagram
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TWEETABLES

“A lie is only harmful if we believe it. The truth is Jesus thought we were so valuable, He died to keep us.” Read the rest of this #AuthorInterview here: https://bit.ly/2Plew8d 

“There was a major scene my editor and I struggled to delete.” Find out what it was about. Read the #AuthorInterview! https://bit.ly/2Plew8d

“I ran my finger over the scarred impression, marveling that such a small mark could tell such an exquisite story.” Learn the rest of the story in this #AuthorInterview! https://bit.ly/2Plew8d 

First Line Friday – 11.9.18

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Hi Everyone! It’s First Line Friday, so grab a book near you and share your first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first lines from When You Look at Me, a contemporary Christian romance and the latest release by Pepper Basham. It’s book 2 in her Pleasant Gap Romance series but totally readable as a stand-alone. I was so excited to receive an advance copy of this novel and I cannot wait to share my review with you on November 19th!

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Here are the first lines:

Julia Jenkins was a glass-half-full person.

Well, most of the time.

about-the-book-2

An unexpected mother-to-be

A romance-leery composer

And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures.

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. Following her aunt’s cryptic journal, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

AMAZON

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest 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 – An Hour Unspent

My Review - An Hour Unspent

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Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.

Amazon

Why This Book:

I have been a fan of Roseanna M. White’s Shadows Over England series since I read book one, A Name Unknown.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

May 11, 1915
Poplar, London, England

Barclay Pearce shouldered his way through the mob, invisible.

First Impressions:

Having gotten to know Barclay through the previous two books in the series, it didn’t take much to snag my attention with this opening, but that isn’t to say it wouldn’t have caught my attention otherwise. Well-written and intriguing, I immediately wanted to know more about where Barclay was and what he was doing. The backdrop of espionage, social unrest, and racial tensions in war-time England only added to the page-turning urge.

Main Characters:

Barclay Pearce –  Head of a group – or as they call themselves, “family” – of former street thieves turned government spies, Barclay serves as a sort of father figure/ elder brother figure to the other members of the “family.” He is loyal, intelligent, kind, and, of course, handsome. Fully worthy of his role as the lead in this story, Barclay isn’t without his faults. Which, of course, is why I loved him.

Mr. V – A mysterious man, Mr. V has served as the family’s contact with the government throughout the series. It is wonderful to get to know a tiny bit more about him in this book than in the previous two.

Cecil Manning – Something of a genius and a clockmaker (and toy maker, and inventor), Cecil is head of the Manning family although his relationship with his wife leaves that somewhat debatable. Beloved by his daughter and sought by his country’s government, Cecil is a character I loved rooting for.

Evelina Manning –  Cecil’s daughter, Evelina is highly intelligent in her own right and nothing if not passionate. Her burning desire to change the wrong in the world around her makes her an easy character to love, despite some rather questionable behavior at one point in the book that made me want to shake her just a bit and give her a good-old-fashioned talking to.

Judith Manning – Cecil’s wife and Evelina’s mother, Judith is a complicated woman and not someone you immediately want to invite over to tea. That said, I enjoyed her role in this story – especially regarding the surprises.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I said, this book had me from page one and the tension ratcheted up seamlessly from there. At no point did I want to put the book down and more than once I experienced a strong emotional reaction to something a character said, did, or experienced. (See the character descriptions for just a teeny hint of that.)

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

As with the first two books, this story is set against the backdrop of World War I and I thoroughly enjoyed the additional true historical elements Roseanna was able to organically incorporate into this story.  I truly felt as though I’d been there, experiencing the thrill and fear along with the characters.

I honestly can’t think of a single thing I disliked about this novel.

Theme:

I think, even more than the previous two books, this novel really focused on what it means to be a family. It also presents the question of how far we are willing or even should go for love.

Other issues touched on include racism, prejudice, and identity.

Ending:

Thoroughly satisfying and just the right length to wrap up all those little details fans of the series could hope for.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in this series? What do you think it means to be a family?

TWEETABLES:

How far would you go for love? #BookReview

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


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Read my Disclosure of Materials HERE.

An Hour Unspent Celebrate Lit Tour Banner

 

About the Author

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Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Guest Post from Roseanna

Last year, as I finished up the writing of An Hour Unspent, my great-grandmother passed away at the age of 103. As I sat at her funeral service and listened to the heartfelt memorial raised up to her by her kids and grandkids, I realized anew that this woman had been a matriarch in the truest sense of the word. She’d taught my family for generations how to love the Lord and each other, how to serve the Lord and each other, and how to trust the Lord and each other. Grandma Seward was, in so many ways, the one who instilled in me my idea of what family really is.

That idea—that it’s those knit together by love more than blood, and that faith is the strongest foundation—is what I built my unusual family of thieves upon in the Shadows Over England series. And strange as it is to liken my twenty-something reformed-thief hero to my 103-year-old-grandmother, Barclay Pearce is very much to his family what Maxine Seward was to mine.

The founder. The caregiver. The leader.

I knew as I began the series that I would write about Barclay in book three, and as I got to know him better throughout the series, I grew so excited to share his story! This is a man who led his family first into and then out of a life a crime, always for the right reasons—so he could provide for the children under his care. All he ever wanted to do was give them what he himself had lost. To show them love. To prove to them that they were worth any sacrifice.

It was truly a blessing for me to get to write the story in which Barclay found someone to come alongside him, to appreciate and learn to understand him. To finally share what started him down this path. I loved the idea that only a reformed thief could steal the time another family needed to overcome their own trials.

There are many historical items in the book that were such fun to explore—watchmaking of the era, the suffrage movement in England, technological advancements of the war—but at the heart, this isn’t a story about any of those.

It’s a story about how far people should go for love. I hope you enjoy Barclay’s story as much as I did!

 

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Henry HappensNovember 12

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Giveaway

An Hour Unspent Celebrate Lit Tour Giveaway Image

To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a grand prize of a signed book, a London mug, and a 48-pack Twinings tea sampler!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the image below to enter.

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My Review – Enchanting Nicholette

My Review - Enchanting Nicholette

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Title: Enchanting Nicholette
Series: The Everstone Chronicles #5
Author: Dawn Crandall
Publisher: Whitaker House
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance

In this captivating novella by Dawn Crandall, Nicholette Everstone is already a widow at the age of twenty-two: her husband was murdered on their wedding day. She has just returned to Boston after two years of mourning in Europe. Although her husband was loving, the marriage was an arranged one, and Nicholette would like to wed again–this time for love…and to someone safe.

As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette meets someone she can’t help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of “what if” at bay?

Amazon

Why This Book:

I purchased this novella as part of the Timeless Love novella collection because it contained other stories written by authors I knew and enjoyed. This is the first work I have read by this author. (Only after reading the entire collection did I learn of the book tour for Enchanting Nicholette.)

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Boston, Massachusetts
Saturday, June 3, 1893

“I suppose you have a new wardrobe ordered from Paris?”

First Impressions:

I had only a fleeting moment of confusion in the first page or two of this novella. I felt a bit like I was playing catch up from a previous book and I had a tiny bit of trouble wrapping my brain around who the heroine was. However, by about the 4th page I had fully settled in. By the second scene I was hooked.

Main Characters:

Nicholette Everstone –  The widowed heroine whose marriage was arranged at such an early age she never even considered another man and consequently is quite at a loss when she finds herself widowed and, for the first time, having to navigate the 1893 singles’ social scene. How in the world is one meant to flirt?

Silvie Boutilier – William Everstone’s stepsister and a young woman quite adept at flirtation and more than eager to help Nicholette along to her next marriage.

William Everstone – Nicholette’s kind and loving deceased husband.

Cal Hawthorne–  Nicholette’s distant cousin via her marriage to William. He’s a man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it, but still puts the needs of others first.

Mabel Hawthorne – Cal’s younger sister and an impulsive, curious young woman with a good heart.

Book Quote Image - Enchanting Nicholette - Goal to Court You

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

The hero won my heart with the line, “I would have requested an introduction, but I didn’t think it prudent, considering you were spoken for … and my whole goal in being introduced would have been to court you.” Yes! It is so refreshing to have a man plainly state his interest in such a confident manner. From this point on I was rooting for Cal and Nicholette to figure things out and make it work. I never got bored or tempted to skim. There were certainly enough twists and turns in there to keep things fun and interesting.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

On the upside, Nicholette and Cal were characters I cared about and rooted for. The story was fun without being fluff, and deep without being depressing. My second favorite scene involves a hidden entrance, but I will say no more. 😉

On the downside, there were a high number of named characters to keep track of for such a short story. I suspect this is because the novella fits into a larger series and I would most likely have already been introduced to many, if not all, of these characters had I previously read any of the books in The Everstone Chronicles.

Theme:

Trusting our future, and those whom we love, in God’s hands.

The consequences of gossip.

Ending:

I have to say that the final scene in this novella must be my favorite. There is such a wonderful and endearing dialogue within it that my romantic heart turned all to mush and I laughed and grinned and sighed with joy.

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read anything written by Dawn Crandall? What do you think of heroes who don’t hold back their emotions?

TWEETABLES:

Yes! It is so refreshing to have a man plainly state his interest in such a confident manner. #BookReview #ChristFic 

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


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Read my Disclosure of Materials HERE.

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Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours.


About the Author

Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall‘s debut Gilded Age Victorian romance, “The Hesitant Heiress,” was a 2015 ACFW Carol award finalist in the debut category and received the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2015 Write Touch Reader’s Choice Award and the 2015 Romancing the Novel Reader’s Choice Award. Her follow-up novel, “The Bound Heart,” received the 2016 Laurel Award from Clash of the Titles. Dawn earned a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University. She’s been balancing books and babies lately as her two sons were both born as the four books of her Everstone Chronicles series were being released from Whitaker House from 2014 to 2016. Dawn lives with her husband and two young sons on a hobby farm in her hometown in northeast Indiana.

CONNECT WITH DAWN CRANDALL: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


enchanting nicholette blog giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) Winner will win:

  • A print copy of Enchanting Nicholette
  • A library card zipper bag
  • Two pairs of Jane Austen socks
  • Two hand poured candles
  • A historically accurate soap from Austen’s time
  • A Jane Austen set of playing cards
  • A set of Jane Austen notecards
  • 6 magnets with Jane Austen quotes

(US Mailing Addresses Only)

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight October 29, 2018 and lasts through 11:59pm November 12, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. US addresses only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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Follow along at JustRead for a full list of stops!

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Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Enchanting Nicholette!

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | BAM! | Christian Book

First Line Friday – 10.26.18

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Hi Everyone! It’s First Line Friday, so grab a book near you and share your first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first line from Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson. A stunning debut novel which I absolutely loved reading! Plus, isn’t the cover just gorgeous?

Engraved on the Heart

Here is the first line:

April 12, 1861
Savannah, Georgia

Don’t fail. Tonight of all nights, don’t fail. 

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Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines―until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

AMAZON

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