Cover Challenge

Cover Challenge

They say covers sell books and designing them takes a special skill. So I’m curious:  How much attention do we actually pay to those slaved-over images?

Below are pieces of book covers from Christian romance books which have been released within the last 12 months (May 2017-May 2018). Can you name each book from just a tiny peek at the cover? To make things easier, there is a list to choose from below the images.

AAn Unexpected Redemption - Puzzle Piece

BThe Captured Bride - Puzzle Piece

CThree Words and a Kiss - Puzzle Piece

DNo Other Will Do - Puzzle Piece

EThe Backcountry Brides Collection - Puzzle Piece

FThe Lady and the Lionheart - Puzzle Piece

GThis Wilderness Journey - Puzzle Piece

HLove Held Captive - Puzzle Piece

ICharming the Troublemaker - Puzzle Piece

JA Heart's Revolution - Puzzle Piece

Your possible answers in no particular order:

  1. Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper D. Basham
  2. Three Words and a Kiss by Sondra Kraak
  3. The Backcountry Brides Collection by Angela K. Couch, Debra E. Marvin, Shannon McNear, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Jennifer Hudson Taylor, Pegg Thomas, Denise Weimer
  4. No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
  5. An Unexpected Redemption by Davalynn Spencer
  6. The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep
  7. This Wilderness Journey by Misty M. Beller
  8. A Heart’s Revolution by Roseanna M. White
  9. The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof
  10. Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray

See the full covers HERE!

Let’s chat!

How did you do? Did you guess them all? Did any of them stump you?

Author Interview – Davalynn Spencer

Author Interview Blog Title Image - Davalynn Spencer

Last year I discovered a new-to-me author whose book, An Improper Proposal, I truly enjoyed (and highly recommend). Today I’m excited to welcome Davalynn Spencer to my blog for a fun interview!

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 An Unexpected Redemption logo.small

Sweet Historical Western Romance

He doesn’t need her sass. She doesn’t need his approval. But they both need a second chance.

Abandoned by her faithless husband for the Dakota gold fields, rancher’s daughter Elizabeth Beaumont returns to her hometown determined to prove she’s not the impetuous girl she once was. Armed with a new skill and old determination, she’s intent on making it on her own. Discovering that the new sheriff lives downstairs in the same boarding house wouldn’t be nearly so frustrating if he’d stay out of her affairs, quit calling her Betsy, and stop making her wonder if she could love again.

Garrett Wilson exchanged his deputy’s badge for a drover’s bedroll after his first attempt at law enforcement cost an innocent bystander his life. Now Wilson’s back wearing a star in a Front Range cow town, hunting an arsonist and falling for a woman who wants to know the secret behind his deepest scar. He can run again from his painful past, or he can stay and fight for the town that needs him and the woman who’s worked under his skin and into his heart.

A Little About Davalynn

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Davalynn Spencer writes heart-tugging, Western romance set along the Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and a recipient of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. A former journalist and crime-beat reporter, Davalynn lives in Colorado where she caters to Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. She loves hearing from readers. Connect with her via her website at http://www.davalynnspencer.com.

the-interview

Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or travel to the future to meet your descendants? 

Most definitely I would travel back in time. It’s a foundational thing. I’d want to see the stories I’ve heard from family members – my great-aunt hiding in a flour barrel from roaming Indians; my grandmother’s two friends who survived the Titanic as children; William F. Cody, to whom my mother insisted we were related. I fear that if I were to travel forward into the future, I might weep at the results of my own failures in the lives of my children.

Your great-aunt hid from Indians in a flour barrel? Now that sounds like a great story!

If you had to live somewhere else for one year, where would it be?

If I could choose where to live for a year, I would choose Scotland. It intrigues me, draws me, waves an arm at me to come over and walk in my ancestors’ footprints.

 

Isle of Skye.landscape-192987_960_720

Well, it certainly photographs well! Can I come, too?

If you could only recommend one book to a child (ages 3-17) which would it be?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe

Confession:  Although I saw the play as a child and I’ve seen the movie, I don’t recall actually read this book.

What’s the most romantic thing your husband has ever done for you?

One of my early contemporary romances (which will re-release late summer) was about a young woman who’d had her fill of electronic mail. What happened to letters? Hand-written letters, especially from someone dear. She receives such a note in the story (I won’t say more), and after my husband read the book, he wrote me a letter telling me what a good job I’d done on the story and how proud he was of me. (Tears here.) What was more romantic? The fact that he actually read my little romance book, or the fact that he acted on it, seeing me in the heroine?

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Awwww! You just melted my heart. What a great hubby!

Aside from good writing, what do you look for in the romances you read?

I look for the cost of love and the power of redemption. Are the hero and heroine willing to pay the cost (and it should cost)? And is their love redemptive, restorative?

Yes, there is always a cost in a great romance, isn’t there?

How did you meet your husband and when did you know he was the one?

I first met my husband at church when I ran into him with my guitar case as I rushed out the side door. Later, he showed up at youth group (I was a senior in high school, he was attending the local college) and I just happened to notice his 70% cocoa-dark-chocolate eyes. And his cowboy hat. And his hands that weren’t soft-looking, but capable and manly and potentially full of tenderness when it counted. No wonder I’m #lovingthecowboy in the stories I write.

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I love that you literally ran into him and that you noticed his hands. 

When does your next book release and what makes it special?

My newest historical release hit retailers on April 26, and I plan to re-release a contemporary romance in August. The recent release, An Unexpected Redemption, looks at forgiveness and the difficulty we sometimes face is offering it to ourselves.

I have been eagerly anticipating this one since I read (and loved) An Improper Proposal! Congratulations on its release!

Are you a plotter or a panster and what does your process say about you?

I am a total hybrid – a planster. Or plantser. Whatever. I pound out between 2,000 and 4,000 words, just to get my thoughts down, and then I start planning where things should go, what comes when, who does what. The layout is rough because I like to write as I watch the movie in my head. But I also need to know where I’m going if I want to get there.

I like that you described it as the movie in your head. Your process sounds very similar to mine. I tried doing more in-depth outlining in advance once and almost killed the story for myself. My characters need room to be themselves and surprise me.

Deleted Laptop Writer Image

Do you have any deleted scenes from your novels hiding on your computer?

Oh yes, I have a deleted scene full of romantic tension that will definitely make Book 3 of my current Front Range Brides series. I’d planned it for Book 1, but had to cut it. It didn’t fit in Book 2 (the April 26 release), but I’m determined to use it in Book 3 (which I haven’t yet written!).

Well, now I can’t wait for Book 3! 🙂 

Which charity is closest to your heart?

I don’t know that I would characterize this outreach as a “charity,” but it is near to my heart and I gladly support it: Heroes and Horses. It’s a Montana-based nonprofit that helps combat veterans suffering from PTSD to reintegrate via one-on-one work with and care for a horse (at no cost to the veteran). You can read more about H&H here: https://www.heroesandhorses.org/the-details/

That sounds like a great program!

Thank you for taking this time to chat with me! I enjoyed getting to know the writer behind the words.

 

Let’s Chat!

Don’t you just love Davalynn’s story about the handwritten letter? Do you have a similar story? What’s the most romantic thing your spouse has done for you? Tell me about it in the comments!

TWEETABLE:

Which historical romance author literally ran into her husband the first time they met? #AuthorInterview (Click to Tweet)

This author’s great aunt hid from Indians in a flour barrel! #AuthorInterview (Click to Tweet)

Rapid Review Roundup

Rapid Review Roundup - Blog Header Image

Ahh! Where has this year gone? How are we already past the middle of December? *Sigh* I don’t know about you, but I had so many grand plans that simply did not come to fruition this year. Don’t get me wrong. I had many amazing successes and blessings, but I tend to dream big and plan accordingly. Therefore, no matter how much I wish to accomplish some things, life happens and time moves on, and those things just don’t get done. So here I am with Christmas on the horizon and I’m so far behind on the reviews I’d planned to write for you all, that I’ve lost hope of actually completing them before the year’s end.

However, these were some truly amazing books and I so dearly want to share them with you that I have decided a compromise is in order. I just don’t have the time to write my full reviews for these books, but I can at least summarize my thoughts and share the highlights for each of them so that you can decide if they sound like something that might fit your particular reading tastes. So here goes my first ever Rapid Review Roundup:

The Lady and the Lionheart

The Lady and The Lionheart by Joanne Bischoff

This year’s (tie) winner of the Christy Award for Historical Romance, it’s no surprise that I absolutely fell in love with this book. From the moment I opened the first page I felt I had stepped into this heroine’s world. I could see, hear, feel, and taste what it was like to live the life of Bischoff’s heroine. I never would have thought the circus would be such a compelling setting, but getting to know this unique subculture of the past was incredibly delightful and I would love to visit it again. Definitely one of my top five favorite books of the year, I cannot say enough how highly I recommend The Lady and The Lionheart!

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

At Love’s Bidding by Regina Jennings

The opening of this novel just drew me in. There is a hint of story-telling quality to it that appeals to me, which is ironic since that usually isn’t a style I go for. If story-telling isn’t usually your style either, I encourage you to give this book a try anyway. At least find somewhere to read the first few pages. This novel is worth stretching your comfort zone. The characters are charmingly flawed and courageous in their own ways. The plot keeps a steady pace and I recall especially enjoying a twist near the end which I didn’t anticipate.

One of the things I liked most about this novel was its subplot involving of the heroine’s grandfather and his slip into dementia. Without bringing the story down from its light and laughter, the author gave us a peek into what it’s like for the family members of a person experiencing such a life change. I especially enjoyed noting the subtle differences of such a change for a man and family of this time period vs now.

For The Record cover image

For The Record by Regina Jennings

This novel was just plain fun. Don’t misunderstand me. That isn’t an implication that this novel lacked depth. The layers and the writing skills were absolutely there, but when I think back on this novel I can’t help but smile. The hero and heroine in this story were my kind of people, not afraid to go after what they want and not too proud to apologize when they were wrong. This story isn’t an all-out action story, or edge-of-your-seat-suspense, but you won’t want to put it down either. It’s a little small mountain town and a little wild west. There are real troubles and real adventures had by characters who feel real and engage your emotions. Although this is a sequel to At Love’s Bidding, this novel can definitely stand on its own.

Against the Tide

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

This book stood out to me not only due to its excellent writing and compelling story, but it manages the unique feat of strongly involving the shipping industry without any of the characters stepping foot on a ship (outside of the prologue) – at least not “on scene” (so there are some memories of being on ships and discussions of travels, but no actual scenes happening on ships in “present time.). While I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to whether or not this is an enjoyable book, I found it an interesting quirk. Aside from that, I found the characters to be emotionally engaging and complex. The plot certainly held my attention (keeping me from sleep on more than one night) and the ending was most satisfying. I highly recommend Against the Tide.

(Incidentally, one of the other novel by Camden which I read this year, From This Moment, was a finalist for the Christy Award in Historical Romance. Needless to say, I highly recommend that one as well.)

Never Forget

Never Forget by Jody Hedlund

I enjoyed the emotions this novel provoked in me. As a reader I couldn’t help feeling compassionate toward the heroine and the mess she gets herself into. I wanted to keep reading and discover how it all turned out. Would it blow up in her face or would she find a smoother way out? In the end, the author surprised me and I loved it. The hero is no less of a mess and must make some significant decisions of his own. I enjoyed reading along to see what became of these two characters. I definitely recommend this novel.

An Improper Proposal cover image

The Improper Proposal by Davalynn Spencer

This is the first book I have read by this author. I can’t remember where I heard of this book, but I am so glad I picked it up. The premise drew me in and the story kept me reading. The author has a unique voice which I am looking forward to reading more of. This story brings you into the lives of two genuinely good, though flawed, people learning how to live in God’s strength through difficult and unexpected circumstances. Better yet, the love that grows between them is the warm and true kind you want to wrap up in. Not your typical marriage of convenience story, you’ll wish this book didn’t end.

Materials Note:  I purchased my own copy of each of the above titles for my own reading pleasure.

psst

If you enjoyed these rapid reviews, be sure to sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to receive quarterly emails in which I share more reviews like these as well as other bits of information and news you may find interesting, not to mention the giveaways only KRC members are eligible for. In fact, I’ll be writing my winter email and sending it out tonight with an extra special Celebration Giveaway you won’t want to miss, so sign up today if you aren’t already a member!

Christmas 2017 KRC Giveaway
Open ONLY to members of Kathleen’s Readers’ Club, so join today!

So what do you think of my rapid reviews? Would you like to see more of these or do you prefer my longer, more in-depth reviews? Which of these books most appeals to you?

First Line Friday – 10.19.17

first-line-friday-3

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?

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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: