“You and your brother are to go to the music room, close the door, and don’t come out until I say you can.”
As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city–but only if she can get people to believe in her work.
Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team’s techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.
While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.
Don’t you just love Fridays? I don’t know about you, but I can often squeeze in a little more reading on the weekends than I can during the week. I doubt I’ll be doing much reading this weekend, though. I’m headed for the 2019 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference! KRC Members can look for my spring newsletter with all my exciting updates (and, of course, the latest giveaways and book deals) to land in their inbox shortly after I return. If you aren’t yet a KRC Member, be sure to click the link below to sign up!
Today I’m featuring, A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Grace Whitson. This is one of those books you remember vividly even years later.
Here’s the first line:
Walking down the main street in Deadwood is like stepping onto hell’s front porch.
Doesn’t that line make you excited to keep reading?
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Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!
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?
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.
Julia Jenkins was a glass-half-full person.
Well, most of the time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
God is our source of purpose, courage, and healing.
Wonderful and full of small twists you didn’t see coming. This ending is sure to leave you grinning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thoroughly satisfying and just the right length to wrap up all those little details fans of the series could hope for.
Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !
About the Author
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!
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?
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):
Saturday, June 3, 1893
“I suppose you have a new wardrobe ordered from Paris?”
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.
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.
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.
Trusting our future, and those whom we love, in God’s hands.
The consequences of gossip.
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.
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.
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.
This was my first year attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference and I can’t tell you how excited I was in the weeks leading up to the event. Over the last few years I have been blessed to connect with a number of authors online, but for many of them, this would be my first chance to meet them in person. I know that as readers, many of you can share in my excitement over meeting these wonderful women who have crafted some of our favorite stories. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments with you. (Presented in alphabetical order because I couldn’t possibly rank by favorite.)
I actually met Tamera in the one place they tell you not to bother the faculty: the bathroom. LOL To be fair, it’s not like I stalked her in there. I just happened to come out of the stall just as she was finishing washing her hands. While I was washing my hands, I said, “Well, this is an awkward place to meet, but I have to tell you that I think your books are awesome.” Or something very similar to that. She very graciously thanked me for my compliments and that was it. Not much of a conversation since we were both hurrying to the next class, but a little while later I was able to sit in on a class where she was part of the panel discussing “Writing in Community.” It was great to hear her thoughts on the subject along with those of the others on the panel (many of whom I was also silently fan-girling over: Deborah Rainey, Jody Hedlund, Lynette Eason, Lynn Blackburn, Karen Witemeyer).
What I didn’t know about Tamera was that Deborah Rainey is her critique partner. The banter between those two kept the panel discussion fun.
Books by Tamera:A Note Yet Unsung (2018 Carol Award winner & 2017 Christy Award Winner & part of the Belmont Mansion series), The Inheritance (2010 RITA Award winner), From a Distance (One of my personal favorites & 2009 Christy Award Winner & part of the Timber Ridge Reflections series). Find more of her books here!
After reviewing a few of Pepper’s books for the blog, I’ve had the opportunity to begin a friendship with this wonderful woman via email. Getting to finally meet her in person was such a pleasure. She immediately recognized me when we spotted each other in the huge crowd and gave me a hug. She is just as friendly and genuine in person as you could hope for.
What I didn’t know about Pepper was how comfortable she could appear on stage in front of nearly 600 people as part of the conference worship team. Her beautiful voice blended well with worship leader Rachel Hauck’s(!). (Rachel isn’t on my list because I just didn’t get a chance to connect with her – so many people, so little time – but yes, I was totally fangirling over her, too.)
Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner and a Rita and Christy and IRCC Award Finalist. I have been a fan of her writing for so long, I can’t remember when I started reading her books. I only know if there’s a book of hers that I haven’t read (and I’m not sure there is), it’s only because I haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet.
It was the first day of the conference when I was speaking to Carrie Schmidt (another online friend I was thrilled to meet in person) when Mary’s name came up and I mentioned what a huge fan I was and that I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of meeting her. Carrie, dear heart that she is, immediately got up and went to pull Mary from the crowd and bring her over to introduce us. I’m not sure I managed a very fascinating conversation considering my brain just kept repeating, “No way. No way. I can’t believe I’m actually meeting her!” LOL But I do recall that she asked what genre I wrote in and I managed to get some intelligible words out . . . I think.
What I didn’t know about Mary was her willingness to help other authors. Later that night there was an event at which nervous authors were invited to come practice their pitches before facing agents and editors in appointments on the days to follow. Carrie Schmidt was one of the hosts so I stopped by to see how it was going and Mary was there, along with other experienced authors who’d volunteered to listen to pitches.
You know what’s really fun? Having a casual conversation with another author and suddenly realizing you just downloaded their debut novel the night before! That’s what happened when I met Emily Conrad at the conference. If you haven’t heard of her debut novel, Justice, I definitely recommend you take a minute to check it out.
What I didn’t know about Emily was … well I already covered that, didn’t I? 😉 I had no idea the author whose book I’d just purchased would be standing in front of me the very next day.
Okay, technically this was my second time meeting Sarah, but she is just too wonderful a person not to mention here. I first met her at the 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the spring. This time we happened to catch the same shuttle from the airport to the resort and were able to reconnect as we rode. It was lovely to get to know her better over the next few days through several conversations and her moderation of the Historical Fiction panel at the conference. (The panel also included: Karen Witemeyer, Carrie Turansky, & Melanie Dobson)
What I didn’t know about Sarah was that she is a serious outliner when it comes to plotting. Some writers start with a basic idea, then just sit down and start writing. Others outline nearly everything that happens in their novels before writing a single word. Sarah falls into the latter category and it can take her about three months to complete an outline, but then her actual writing goes pretty fast.
I just happened to cross paths with Carrie Turansky after checking in at registration for the conference. She was very sweet when I stopped her to tell her how much I loved her writing. We had a couple more opportunities to talk during the conference and I found her to be a very kind person.
What I didn’t know about Carrie was that she is not only a fabulous author but a mentor as well. She was a finalist for this year’s Mentor of the Year Award.
I met Erica at the Pitch Practice session where she was helping listen to authors practicing their pitch. While I was there, Erica very kindly took the time to look over some of my writing and provide me with invaluable feedback. The fun part is that I knew her name was familiar but couldn’t bring to mind her titles (my brain was mush by then – almost 10pm). So when I returned to my hotel room, I searched her name and discovered that I had actually read many of her books. Better yet, I immediately downloaded her latest novella, A Perfect Christmas, which has only recently released as part of The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection and, despite the anchors weighing my lids, I had a very difficult time putting that book down!
What I didn’t know about Erica was what a kind and helpful spirit she has.
I first spotted Karen seated at a table beside mine, but she was engaged in conversation the entire time and I didn’t get to say hello until later that day when I mentioned to Kristi Ann Hunter (another great author!) how much I loved Karen’s books. Kristi kindly introduced me to Karen the next time we were in the same hallway together. After telling Karen how much I enjoy her writing, the first thing I asked her was if she had an assistant that helped her maintain the seemingly impossible schedule she keeps with her incredibly active Facebook Group (The Posse) and her writing deadlines and her fulltime job and everything else she does. The answer? Her assistant’s name is Karen Witemeyer. 😉 Her words. 😀
What I didn’t know about Karen (besides her not having an assistant) is that her humor is just as witty in person and she is genuinely kind. She really cares about her readers. I also didn’t know that she has a lovely singing voice. Karen and Kristi were both members of the choir that sang for us at the ACFW Gala.
Well, because it’s 2018 and I had to cut it off somewhere. Honestly, though, I could fill 30 blog posts talking about all the wonderful people I met at the conference. I told my mom that it was like an actress who’s still waiting tables walking into a room filled with all the A-list celebrities you can think of and discovering their all happy to meet you and willing to help you, AND they all love Jesus!!!
Have you had the pleasure of meeting one of your favorite authors?
Which Christian Fiction author would you most like to meet?
Last summer I shared my list of the Top 5 Heroes I had read in 2017. Today I’m sharing my Top 5 Heroines of 2018. All of these women have something in common – courage and caring for others. (Listed in no particular order.)
From This Moment – Stella West dropped her entire life and knowingly placed herself in harm’s way to discover what happened to her deceased sister.
Sons of Blackbird Mountain – Aven Norgaard showed incredible courage in her willingness to continue to hope despite her extremely difficult life and incredible love in her treatment of everyone around her.
An Awakened Heart – Christine Pendleton defies social expectations in order to help those who’ve been outcast and oppressed at great personal sacrifice.
A Song Unheard – Willa Forsythe is socially outcast and living a life of poverty, yet she places everything on the line – including her very life – to help someone she’s never even met.
Three Words and a Kiss– A privileged upbringing isn’t enough for this bold young woman. Samantha Klein sees incredible needs and is compelled to act, again and again, regardless of personal cost.
What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Who are your favorite heroines of 2018?