Cute Collies (or maybe Shelties?)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

cute puppy pictures
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Giveaway: Persuasion (1995 version) DVD!!!

In celebration of my completion of the Everything Austen Challenge I am giving away a copy of the 1995 film version of Persuasion on DVD!


Rules:
~ Void where prohibited.
~U.S. Residents only please.
~ You MUST leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner! Disguise it something like this: steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com
~ Contest is open until January 15, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST. Any comments made after that time will not count.
~The winner will be announced on January 16, 2010, on this blog AND I will contact the winner via email. The winner has 48 hours from the time winner email is sent to get back to me with snail mail address information or another name will be drawn.

~For 1 entry you must leave a comment with your email!

~ For 3 EXTRA ENTRIES let me know if you're an old follower or become a new follower by clicking on the left side bar of this blog and let me know you did so!

Stop back January 16th to see who the lucky winner is!

Everything Austen Challenge: Watch 1995 and 2007 Film Adaptations of Persuasion


This week, to complete the challenge, I watched the 1995 version and the 2007 versions of Persuasion. I have to say that I absolutely love both versions of the film but for different reasons. I love the acting abilities of both Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root from older version of the film. The look between the two at the opera in Bath makes my spine tingle every time...wheeew there's so much emotion! The scene where Wentworth is writing a letter to Anne is terrific too and I have to say that if that scene was included in the 2007 version, it probably would have been my favorite!


I really liked the 2007 version too because the actors looked more like I pictured them in the book. Who doesn't think Wentworth as played by Rupert Penry-Jones is swoon worthy?! Sally Hawkins is absolutely wonderful as Anne. Overall however I just like the way the 1995 version wrapped up and the tender kiss on the street with the circus in the background was just terrific! If you are a fan of the book I think you will enjoy either film version as I did.


If you have never seen the 1995 version of Persuasion starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, or you have seen it and want to own it read this post to learn how you can get a chance to win a DVD copy!!!

Teaser Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


MizB @ Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday every week at her blog! This gives everyone the opportunity to share a few lines from a new book they're reading or one of their old favorites.

Here are the rules for Teaser Tuesday!
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share two teaser sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 & 12.
4. Share the title of the book that the “teaser” comes from, so people can find the book if they like the teaser.
5. PLEASE avoid spoilers!!!!!

This week I've chosen a teaser froma book I'm so excited to get started on, The Courteous Cad by Catherine Palmer. Check back in a few weeks for a sample chapter and the FIRSTWildcard Blog Tour of this book!


The Courteous Cad (Featuring Miss Pickworth)
by Catherine Palmer
Copyright 2009
Tyndale Publishers
384 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8423-7555-9
Fiction/Romance


Teaser from pg 152-3

"The pain written on his face was more than Prudence could bear.

'Your heart is not fettered, William,' she said, laying her hand on his cheek.

'No one can imprison your spirit. No one can lock away your mind. You speak as an old man whose life is nearly at an end. But you are young. Hope cannot be constrained. Nor can faith. And love? Love is beyond the reach of sin and failure.' "

Be sure to visit MizB!

Everything Austen Challenge: Watch 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice

Monday, December 28, 2009

As you may know I love Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of her books. That said I love just about every movie version that I have seen of Pride and Prejudice and I don't think there's a Mr. Darcy that I haven't liked!

Since I've almost completed the Everything Austen Challenge by watching both the 1995 version and the 2005 film versions of the book, I've decided it was time to celebrate with a little fun. Here are my Top 3 Darcy's, two from different versions of Pride and Prejudice and one from Pride and Prejudice with a twist, Lost in Austen. I would love it if you would share your favorite Austen hero and include a link to his picture so we can ALL drool all over the place! :-P


Numero Uno:


Colin Firth (1995 Pride & Prejudice)



Numero Dos:


Elliot Cowan (2008, Lost in Austen)


Numero tres:


Matthew Macfadyen (2005, Pride & Prejudice)

Be sure to visit Stephanie and check out the over 500! links to all things Austen from the other participants in the Everything Austen Challenge!

Books to Read Again in 2010!

I've read a ton of books this year, last night after posting my review for A Bride of Honor, I could not believe my eyes when I saw out of the corner of my eye on my labels list that I had read and reviewed 75 books and I didn't even start blogging until March! Needless to say I've read a lot of great books so for me to choose 10 of my very favorite books has been a complicated task indeed! So without further ado here's my list of top ten books (in no particular order) I will read again in 2010! It's a big mix and match list with some Christian fiction, some YA fiction and some paranormal stuff!

Shhhhhhhh don't tell, but I cheated a bit and 7 out of 10 of my "books" are series'!

Critical Care- by Candace Calvert
Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas- By Sandra D. Bricker
The Vampire Diaries series- by L. J. Smith
Immortality Bites series- by Michelle Rowen
Daughters of Boston series-by Julie Lessman
The Luxe series- by Anna Godbersen
Charles Towne Belles series- by MaryLu Tyndall
The Morning Gift- by Eva Ibbotson
Brides of Bonneterre (Books 1 &2)- by Kaye Dacus
The Nantucket Love Story series- by Denise Hunter

My Review: A Bride of Honor by Ruth Axtell Morren

Sunday, December 27, 2009

By Ruth Axtell Morren
Copyright 2009
Steeple Hill Publishers
396 pages
ISBN: 978-0373-78650-3
Historical Romance


From Amazon: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady of rank and distinction is no match for an impoverished preacher. Yet Damian Hathaway is entranced from the moment he spies Miss Lindsay Phillips entering his church. She doesn't appear any different from the other pampered society ladies—and she's betrothed to a gentleman of the ton. But Damian is determined to find the pure heart he's sure exists underneath all the ruffles and lace. The unlikely friendship formed by Damian and Lindsay is a revelation to them both, but is frowned upon by her parents—and Damian's parishioners. Torn between two worlds, the pair must trust that their love can bridge the divide—and conquer all.

My Review: I would say that Steeple Hill's fiction line isn't the most thought provoking line with their stories often leaning more towards light romance (which I happen to love), however one of their writers, Ruth Morren writes some heart rending, sensitive, and thoroughly emotional stories that pack a serious punch. Her latest book, A Bride of Honor is another example of her terrific gift for story telling.

Like most Christian fiction there is a strong faith based message as well as a romance that will make you sigh. The difference with Ruth's stories is that they often involve a lot of drama and everything isn't always happy, the characters are true to life and deal with issues such as miscarriage, failed relationships and class relations.

I really enjoyed this book and the characters of Damian, a poor clergyman, and Lindsay, a wealthy lady of the ton. The whole story follows their relationship from first bloom of love through church controversy and the scandal of a hasty marriage. It really is an emotional roller coaster ride and you can't help but feel the love and the pain that Damian and Lindsay must deal with. Ruth does not disappoint and with each book gives me a reason to look forward to her next release.

*Many thanks to Lori @ Some of My Favorite Things for sending me this wonderful book!*

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

zwani.com myspace graphic comments

Winner!!!!

Photobucket


My little bro was asleep (pooped from playing too much Halo 3) so my mom (thanks mom!) randomly drew the name from the Steelers hat!!! The name she drew was Donna.

Donna has been emailed and she will have 72 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.

Please remember to stop by after the new year to check out my next giveaway!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all of your families!



Waiting on Wednesday: Faithful by Janet Fox

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Jill over @ Breaking the Spine hosts a weekly meme that features one book that you can't wait to be released! This week Jill's pick is Losing Charlotte by Heather Clay, click HERE to check it out and to see links to what others are waiting on!

I love YA fiction but I haven't had a chance to read a lot of it this year, next year however I plan to change that...including reading a book from a new author to me, Janet Fox entitled, Faithful. Read below for a synopsis from the author's site!

Faithful
by Janet Fox
Releasing May 2010
Speak/Penguin Publishing Group
288 pages
ISBN: 978-0-14-241413-2
Young Adult fiction/Historical

In 1904 Margaret Bennet has it all – money, position, and an elegant family home in Newport, Rhode Island. But just as she is to enter society, her mother ruins everything, first with public displays, and finally by disappearing. Maggie’s confusion and loss are compounded when her father drags her to Yellowstone National Park, where he informs her that they will remain. At first Maggie’s only desire is to return to Newport. But the mystical beauty of the Yellowstone landscape, and the presence of young Tom Rowland, a boy unlike the others she has known, conspire to change Maggie from a spoiled girl willing to be constrained by society to a free-thinking and brave young woman living in a romantic landscape at the threshold of a new century.

Available Spring 2010!

My Review: The Lightkeeper's Daughter (A Mercy Falls Novel) by Colleen Coble

Monday, December 21, 2009


The Lightkeeper's Daughter (A Mercy Falls Novel)
by Colleen Coble
Copyright 2009
Thomas Nelson Publishers
311 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59554-267-0
Fiction/Christian/Romance


My Review: I'm not a big fan of mystery's but Colleen Coble is one of the few authors whose mystery/suspense novels I will read. Her latest release, The Lightkeeper's Daughter, combines her classic elements of romance and mystery, this time hearkening back to her historical fiction roots.

Addie Sullivan, who has lived in a lighthouse for almost her entire life discovers that she is the long lost daughter of businessman and banker, Henry Eaton. When she arrives at the Eaton estate trouble seems to follower her in the form of kidnapping and even murder. Addie has no clue who is out to get her and those around her. Confusing her even further are her feelings for John, the handsome widower father of the young boy she is tutoring. She must decide to marry a wealthy, titled man who her father has engaged her too or to follow her heart and chose love and lose her new found family.

The romance in this book was nice but it started out very quickly, I would have almost liked to have seen it play out more gradually as the story went along. As for the mystery, there were a few red herrings thrown in that really confused me and I had NO idea who the "bad guy" was until the reveal at the very end. I think this book is a good read for both lovers of romance and mystery alike. However I still feel that Ms. Coble's older historical fiction books that were written earlier in her career are better. I guess because this story took me so long to get in to, whereas her earlier works were interesting right from the start. I will definitely read the next book in the series however, just because I'm curious to see what happens to a few of the secondary characters in this story who deserve their own novels.

To learn more about Colleen Coble and her books visit:

Her WEBSITE
Group BLOG

*Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me with a review copy.*

Kissing Day Blogfest!

I LOVE romance and I think I can speak for most romance readers that the kiss is it! personally I like the tentative first kisses shared by characters who may not be sure how they really feel about a person but when their lips meet their souls meld whether they chose to acknowledge it at first or not.

Sherrinda @
A Writer Wannabe had an awesome idea to acknowledge the upcoming Christmas season, which often includes the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, by sharing our favorite kissing scene or "almost" kissing scene that we have read or written ourselves. She has declared today Kissing Day!!!!!!!!

Since I'm not a writer I decided to share one of my favorite "first" kisses from one of my favorite Christian fiction books to date, A Passion Denied (Book 3, Daughters of Boston series) by Julie Lessman! Let me tell you, Julie sure knows how to write a kissing scene!!! Check this scene out from pg 62 of A Passion Denied and you'll see what I mean!!

If you would like to read other kissing scenes or to post your own please stop by and visit
Sherrinda's site to check out all the links to other posts and rules for posting your own scene!


Excerpt from pgs 62-63 of A Passion Denied (Book 3, Daughters of Boston) by Julie Lessman, Copyright 2009, Revell Publishers, 476 pages, ISBN: 978-0-8007-3213-4, Fiction/Historical


" 'Beth are we okay?' He ducked his head to search her eyes, then brushed her hair back from her face. A smile shadowed his lips. 'Still friends?'

Friends. A deadly plague only a kiss could cure. Resolve stiffened her spine. 'Sure, Brady...friends."

He smiled and tucked a finger under her chin. 'That's my girl. Now what do you say we pray about some of these things?'

He leaned close with another quick kiss to her brow, and in a desperate beat of her heart, she lunged, uniting her mouth with his. She felt the shock of her action in the jolt of his body, and she gripped him close to deepen the kiss. Waves of warmth shuddered through her at the taste of him, and the essence of peppermint was sweet in her mouth.

'No!' He wretched back from her hold with disbelief in his eyes.

Too late. She had never felt like this before. Years of seeking romance from flat parchment pages had not prepared her for this. This rush,this desire...her body suddenly alive, and every nerve pulsing with need. All shyness melted away in the heat of her longing, and she pounced again, merging her mouth with his. John Brady, I love you!

A fraction of a second became eons as she awaited his rejection. His body was stiff with shock, but no resistance came. And in a sharp catch of her breath, he drew her to him with such force that she gasped, the sound silenced by the weight of his mouth against hers. He groaned and cupped the back of her head as if to delve into her soul, a man possessed. His lips broke free to wander her throat, and shivers of hear coursed through her veins. In ragged harmony, their shallow breathing billowed into the night while his arms possessed her, molding her body to his.

'Oh, Brady, I'm so in love with you,' she whispered.

Her words severed his hold as neatly as the blade of a guillotine. He staggered to his feet, and icy cold replaced the warmth of his arms. 'Brady, can't you see? You love me too...not as a friend or a sister, but as a woman.'

'God help me, Beth, I can't love you that way.' He stared like a zombie, chest heaving with jagged breaths that swirled into the cool night air, drifting away--just like her dreams...' "

*SIGH* don't you just love...well...love?! I think this is such a romantic scene of first love and also a love denied. The whole series is really great! You can always depend on Julie to write out a great kiss and an overall great story!

Thank you for stopping by and be sure to visit Sherrinda to see who else is falling in love!



Blog Awards!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wow talk about awesome! This week I was awarded two great new awards from 3 different people! It's amazing to me that people even read my blog let alone think enough about me to send me cool awards! Many thanks to Lee @ Butterfly Blessings and Angie @ Never a Dull Moment and Rae @ Rollers, Ribbons and Rouge for awarding me the Circle of Friends Award and Beth @ Weavings for giving me the One Lovely Blog Award!

Since I received this award I would like to pass it on to some fellow bloggers whose blogs I love but first I have to take care of business. The requirement of this award is that I list 5 things that I love to do and then pass it on to 5 wonderful blogs! So here goes! :-)

1. Hmmmm my very favorite thing to do... I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count! Can you guess???!!! It's READING!!!!!!!!!!! :-P Did you guess correctly? (LOL wow I accidentally published this post halfway through typing...sorry for that)
2. I love chatting with all of my wonderful friends both online and in "real life!"
3. I love playing with my doggies Coco and Sebastian and my kitty Penny.
4. I love to go to car shows (one of the reasons I HATE winter...all of the cool cars are hibernating.)
5. I LOVE to watch Pittsburgh sports especially the Steelers (not so much this year though since it looks like it's going to be a losing season.) :-(

Passing this on to:
Carman @ A Sequence of Continuous Delights
Sandra @ Sandra D. Bricker
Suko @ Suko's Notebook
Heather @ Gofita's Pages
Christy @ Southern Sassy Things

Now on to the next one, The Lovely Blog Award!


Here are the rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award": Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Well I don't really have 15 that I've newly discovered but here are a few:
Ashley W. @ After All Tomorrow is Another Day
Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
In the Hammock Blog
Rae @ Rollers, Ribbons, and Rouge

FIRST Wildcard Tour: Tales of the Heart (3-in-1 Collection) by Loree Lough

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Tales of the Heart (3-in-1 Collection: Bridget’s Bargain; Kate Ties the Knot; Follow the Leader)

Whitaker House (January 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A prolific writer, Loree Lough has more than seventy-one books, sixty-three short stories, and 2,500 articles in print. Her stories have earned dozens of industry and Reader’s Choice awards. A frequent guest speaker for writers’ organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, corporations, college and high school writing programs, and more, Loree has encouraged thousands with her comedic approach to “learned-the-hard-way” lessons about the craft and industry. Loree and her husband split their time between Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603741674
ISBN-13: 978-1603741675 :

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Magnolia Grange, south of Richmond, Virginia

1866

Chapter One

“It’s hard to believe you’ve been with us four years, Bridget.”

Winking one thick-lashed blue eye, the maid grinned. “Aye, Mr. Auburn.” She blew a tendril of flaming red hair away from her eye and secured a gigantic white satin bow to the railing. “Time has passed like a runaway engine.”

Fumbling with his collar, Chase chuckled. “You’ve always been a joy to have in the house, and your way with words is but one of the reasons.”

Bridget slid the ribbon up and down until it exactly matched the height of the decoration on the other side of the porch. In response to the great gulp of air he took in, she straightened from her work. “Were you this nervous the first time you were a bridegroom, sir?”

He leaned a shoulder against the pillar nearest him. “To tell the truth, I don’t recall.” And, raising both brows imploringly, he pointed at the lopsided knot at his throat. “Would you mind…?”

She stepped up to the man who’d been more of a big brother than an employer to her these past years. “Wouldn’t mind a bit.” And to think that during her long sea voyage from Ireland to Virginia, she’d envisioned him a brute and a monster!

Standing on tiptoe, Bridget repaired the damage he’d done to his black string tie. “There, now,” she said, brushing imaginary lint from his broad shoulders, “that’s got it.”

His hand trembling, he dug a gold watch from his pocket. “The guests will begin arriving soon. Is everything—?”

“All’s well, Mr. Auburn, so I pray ye’ll relax. Else ye’ll need another bath!” Gathering her bow-making materials, Bridget hustled through the front door. From the other side of the screen, she said, “I’ve a few things to see to in the kitchen, and then I’ll be lookin’ in on yer bride-to-be.” She started toward the parlor, then stopped and faced him again. “Mr. Auburn, sir?”

He stopped rubbing his temples to say, “Yes?”

“I set aside a pitcher of lemonade. Might be just the thing to calm your nerves. Now, why don’t you settle down there while I fetch you a nice tall glass?”

As she made her way toward the kitchen, she heard the unmistakable squeak of the porch swing. “Hard to believe you ever thought that dear, sweet man capable of beating his servants bloody.”

“What’s that?”

Scissors, ribbons, needles, and thread flew into the air, then rained down upon her at the sound of the rich, masculine voice. “Goodness gracious, sakes alive!” she gasped, hands flattened to her chest. “You just shaved ten years off m’life!”

“Sorry,” said the tall intruder. “Didn’t mean to frighten you.”

Rolling her eyes, Bridget stooped to retrieve the fallen articles. “No harm done, I suppose.” Then, narrowing one eye, she sent him a half smile. “Provided you help me clean up the mess ye’re responsible for.”

Immediately, he was on his hands and knees, and once they’d untangled the ribbon, she put it all in the linen cupboard. “Don’t recall seein’ you around here before.”

“Just arrived last evening.” He nodded toward the barn. “I’m bunking in the loft. Chase…uh, Mr. Auburn is hoping I can improve the lineage of his quarter horses.”

“Ah,” she said, returning the sewing supplies to their proper shelf, “so you’re the new stable hand we’ve all been hearing about.” Dusting off her hands, she started up the stairs, stopping on the bottom step to give him a quick once-over. “Don’t know why, but I thought you’d be older.”

Leaning both burly arms on the newel post, he frowned slightly. “The proper title is ‘stable master’.”

“Is that a fact, Mr. Big-for-His-Britches?” Grinning good-naturedly, she added, “Tack whatever fancy name ye choose to the work. You’re still the hired help, same as me, ’cept you’re likely more at home with a muck shovel in your hand than a mop or broom.”

For a moment, a look of embarrassment darkened his handsome face, but, to his credit, he shook it off. “It’s honest work, and the horses are my full responsibility, so they might as well be my very own.”

She scrutinized him carefully. “All right, then, so you’ve got the master’s horses, but have ye the horse sense to go with ’em?” Halfway up the curving staircase, she leaned over the landing banister. “And what might your name be, Mr. I’m-So-Sure-of-Myself…just so I’m sure to address you properly next time we meet?”

“Lance,” he said. “Lance York.”

Bridget’s smile disappeared. “You’re—you’re English?”

Another nod. “But only half.” The frown above his gray eyes deepened. “Why do you look as though you’ve just smelled something unpleasant? Is there something wrong with being English?”

Only if you’re a poor tenant farmer in County Donegal, Ireland, she thought, continuing up the stairs. Since they both worked for Mr. Auburn, she’d likely run into this fellow often, and she had no intention of behaving like one of those uppity town girls who were so difficult to get along with. “Well,” she said coolly, “I suppose we all have to be something, now, don’t we?”

Her peripheral vision told her he hadn’t budged as she reached the next landing. Bridget would not allow herself to look at him. What, and give him the satisfaction of knowing an Englishman had humiliated yet another Irishman? Not in a million Sundays!

Bridget hurried up the remaining stairs and set her mind on seeing what, if anything, Drewry might need, because in no time at all, she’d become Mrs. Chase Auburn. No doubt she’d be at least as fidgety as her bridegroom.

Funny, she thought, how folks tend to pair off at weddings. Most of the servants had spouses to accompany them to the shindig. All but Bridget and the hired hands’ children. More’s the pity the stableman has the blood of those thievin’ English flowin’ in his veins, she thought, ’cause he’d make a right handsome companion….

***

Bridget watched as the servants and hired hands of Magnolia Grange raced around, putting the finishing touches on the wedding preparations. How handsome they all looked dressed in their regal best, thanks to Chase Auburn’s generosity.

She remembered the day, not so long ago, when he’d stood beside the big buckboard, ushering every member of his staff into the back of the vehicle, oblivious to their slack-jawed, wide-eyed protests. “Magnolia Grange has survived locusts and storms and the Civil War, so I hardly think our little trip into town will cause its ruination.” Grabbing the reins, he’d added, “When we get to Richmond, every last one of you will choose a proper wedding outfit. And remember, money is no object.”

The wagon wheels had ground along the gritty road, drowning out the shocked whispers of his hired help. “Been with that boy since he was born,” Matilda had said behind a wrinkled black hand, “an’ I ain’t never seen him smile so bright.”

“I do believe he done lost his mind, Matty,” Simon had said. “This is gonna cost a fortune.”

“You just worry ’bout tending the fields,” she’d shot back, “an’ let Mistah Chase worry ’bout what he can afford.”

In town, the maid, the housekeeper, the foreman, and the field hands had quickly discovered that every Richmond shopkeeper had been instructed to put the suits, gowns, shoes, and baubles chosen by Auburn employees on Chase’s personal account. At first, they’d shied away from quality materials, picking through the bins for dresses of cotton and shirts of muslin. Until Chase had gotten wind of their frugality, that is.

“You’ll not attend my wedding dressed like that!” he’d gently admonished them, snatching a pair of dungarees from Claib’s hands. Holding some gabardine trousers in front of the tall, thin man, he’d said, “You’ve earned this.” Then, looking at each employee in turn, he had said, “You’ve all earned this. Why, Magnolia Grange wouldn’t be what it is without you!” With that, he’d disappeared into the bustling Richmond street.

Now, Bridget stepped into the full-skirted gown she’d chosen that day at Miss Dalia’s Dress Shop. Ma’s cameo would have looked lovely at the throat, she thought, buttoning its high, lace-trimmed collar. But the pin had long ago been handed over to the ruthless landlord Conyngham when he’d raised the rent yet again.

Slipping into slippers made from fabric the same shade of pink as the dress, Bridget recalled that in one of her mother’s leather-bound volumes—before Conyngham had demanded those, too—she’d seen a pen-and-ink sketch of a ballerina. According to the book, ballet originated in Renaissance Italy, where, as the nobility began to see themselves as superior to the peasantry, they rejected the robust and earthy steps of traditional dance. Emulating the slower, statelier movements of the ballerinas, they believed, accentuated their own elegance. Her arms forming a graceful circle over her head, the beautiful lady’s torso had curved gently to the right. Her dark hair had been pulled back tightly from her face, and on her head had been a tiny, sparkling crown. Long, shapely legs had peeked out from beneath a gauzy, knee-length gown, and on her feet had been satin slippers.

Smiling at the memory, Bridget stood at the mirror. Gathering her cinnamony hair atop her head, she secured it with a wide ribbon that matched her shoes. Lifting her skirt, she stuck out her right foot and, looking about to see if she were truly alone, grinned as mischief danced in her eyes. How long had it been since she’d struck this particular ballerina pose? Five years? Six? Then, feeling both giddy and girlish, Bridget covered her face with both hands and giggled. Ye’d better count yer blessin’s that nobody can see you, Bridget McKenna, for they’d cart y’off to the loony bin, to be sure!

The big grandfather clock in the hall began counting out the hour. Goodness gracious me, she thought, hurrying to the door, how can it be midday already? And with only an hour till the weddin’!

When Bridget entered Drewry’s room, she found the bride standing in front of a big, oval mirror like the one in her own room, smiling as Matilda pinned a white poinsettia in her long, dark hair. “You do make a lovely bride,” said the housekeeper. “Mistah Chase be one lucky fella, gettin’ a wife as fetchin’ as you.”

Blushing, Drewry hugged the woman. “Thank you, Matilda. But I’m the lucky one.”

“Not lucky,” Bridget said, closing the door behind her. “Blessed.”

The curious glances exchanged by the bride and housekeeper told Bridget that her interruption had stunned them. True, she’d never been overly chatty, but lately….

Several months ago, Mr. Auburn had walked into the kitchen as she’d been ciphering. When she’d admitted that she’d saved almost enough to send for her family, he’d promised to find work for her father and four siblings. And just this morning, a little more ciphering told Bridget that in six months, maybe eight, she’d finally have what she needed to bring them here from Ireland. If that didn’t put her in a chatty mood, a wedding was sure to do it!

“You’re so right,” Drewry said, grasping Bridget’s hand. “Luck had nothing to do with it. It was the good Lord who brought Chase and me together.”

“And He’ll keep you together, too.”

“Seems our gal here know as much about the Good Book as anyone,” Matilda said.

Bridget remembered another day, not long after her arrival at Magnolia Grange, when Mr. Auburn had invited her to join the family in prayer. “How many times must I tell you, Bridget McKenna,” he’d thundered, “that it’s not a sin to read the Scriptures!” He’d picked up the large, leather-bound Bible and opened it for the household’s morning devotions. On the other side of the big, wooden table, Bridget had begun to weep. It had been Drewry, the children’s nanny, who had passed her a lace-edged hanky.

“But Mr. Auburn, sir,” she’d cried, “my ma taught us that readin’ the Holy Scriptures is a sin and a crime. Learnin’ like that…it’s only for the clergy, who are blessed by God to understand what they read.” Trembling, she’d hidden her face in Drewry’s hanky. “Oh, please, sir…I don’t want to go to hell!”

Softening his tone, Chase had said, “I hate to disagree with your sweet mother, but I’m afraid she was mistaken.”

His comment had only served to cause a fresh torrent of tears, inspiring Drewry to scoot along the bench and drape an arm around Bridget. “Mr. Auburn is right, Bridget,” she’d said, her dark eyes shining and sweet voice soothing. “Our reading the Scriptures pleases God. Why else would He have given them to us?”

Bridget stopped crying and studied Drewry’s face. “But…how d’ye know for sure that it’s true, ma’am?”

“Because the Lord Jesus Himself said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ “You see, going to church on Sunday and hearing about Jesus is but one way of growing closer to the Lord. Reading His Word for ourselves, why, there’s no better way!” And from that moment on, life at Magnolia Grange had changed for Bridget. Having access to the comfort of God’s Word was a key that unlocked a world of hope.

“So, what you think, li’l Miss Bridget?” Matilda said. “You knows the Bible as good as anybody?”

“Hardly!” she said, laughing. “The more I learn,” she admitted, “the more I realize how little I know.” Then she wagged a finger at the bride. “Now, you’d best be gettin’ yourself downstairs, Miss Drew. Pastor Tillman has arrived, and the guests are gatherin’ in the chapel. It’s a mighty pretty day for a wedding, ’specially for December!”

“I have God to thank for that, too,” Drewry admitted, tugging at the long snug sleeves of her white velvet gown. With arms extended, she took a deep breath as Matilda fastened the tiny pearl buttons on each cuff. After fastening her mother’s cameo at the high, stand-up collar, Drewry picked up the bouquet fashioned of red roses, white poinsettias, and greenery from Chase’s hothouse, which he had delivered at dawn.

“You gonna carry that to the altar, Miss Drew?”

“I most certainly am, Matilda. Perhaps Chase and I will start a trend…bridegrooms delivering flowers to their brides, and brides carrying the bouquets to the altar.” She punctuated her statement with a merry giggle. “Well, I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be, so I suppose we should get this wedding started!”

With Matilda leading the way, the women walked down the wide, curving staircase and onto the porch. Bridget saw that Claib had parked the carriage out front. He’d polished its chassis until the enamel gleamed like a black mirror. The farmhand cut quite a dashing figure in his long-tailed morning suit, and Bridget planned to tell him so the minute they returned to the kitchen to serve the guests at the reception. Bending low at the waist, Claib swept a gloved hand in front of him. “Your carriage awaits, m’lady,” he said, mimicking Pastor Tillman’s English butler.

The sounds of laughter and chatter grew louder as the buggy neared the chapel. “They’re here!” a woman shouted.

“Start the music!” hollered a man.

As the four-piece string ensemble began to play Beethoven’s Ninth, Drewry stood beside her Uncle James at the back of the chapel. Such a lovely bride, Bridget thought. And this little church in the woods is lovely, too. The red holly berries trimming the roof winked merrily, and a soft garland filled the air with the fresh, clean scent of pine. Massive arrangements of red and white poinsettias, along with evergreen boughs, flanked the altar, where Mr. Auburn waited alone.

But not for long.

Bridget and Matilda, in their new store-bought frocks, stepped importantly down the aisle in time to the music and took their places in the Auburn family pew. Chase’s daughter, Sally, stepped up in front of Drewry, one hand in her basket, prepared to sprinkle rose petals along the path that her new mother’s high-topped white boots would take. Behind Sally, her brother, Sam, held the white satin pillow that cushioned the wedding band. Bridget smiled as he tugged at the collar of his shirt and smiled adoringly up at Drewry.

The children love her so, and so does Mr. Auburn, Bridget thought. And it’s plain to see she loves them, too.

Just then, the throbbing strains of the “Wedding March” poured from the organ’s pipes, filling the chapel as Pastor Tillman took his place at the altar. Bridget watched Chase, resplendent in his black suit, as he focused on Drewry, the object of his hopes and dreams and promises soon to be fulfilled. “I love you,” he mouthed to her.

Bridget turned in her seat just in time to see the bride answer with a wink and a smile. Will I ever know love like that? she wondered, facing front again. Sighing, she felt her shoulders sag. Not likely, since all I do is work, work, work and save, save, save…. A feeling of guilt washed over Bridget, and she chastised herself for allowing such self-centered thoughts to enter her head. She had much to be grateful for, and this was Drewry and Chase’s day, after all!

Still, the bride and groom’s for-our-eyes-only communication made her yearn for a love like theirs—a love that reached beyond the bounds of family, binding man to woman and woman to man, cloaking them in trust, friendship, and companionship forever.

A chilly wind blew through the chapel, making Bridget shiver. Hugging herself, she focused on the rough-hewn cross that hung above the altar and, closing her eyes, prayed silently. Dear Lord, if it’s in Your plan, I wouldn’t mind havin’ a bit of love like that, for I’m weary of being cold and alone.

***

Drewry’s Uncle James and his lady friend, Joy, had arrived two days earlier. In many ways, the handsome couple reminded Bridget of Chase and Drewry.

Bridget and Joy had chatted while decorating the mansion. Joy, Bridget discovered, had been raised up north, near Baltimore. “Why, there’s a Baltimore, Ireland, too!” she’d said, excited at all she had in common with her new friend.

Bridget hadn’t had as many opportunities to talk with Drewry’s uncle, so when she saw him during the reception, standing alone under the willow tree, she didn’t know quite how to approach him. His grief was raw and real, that much was plain to see. And she knew precisely what had destroyed his previous high-spirited mood. For as she’d been gathering plates and cups nearby, she’d overheard the conversation….

James had dropped to one knee and taken Joy’s hand in his, then looked deep into her eyes and whispered hoarsely, “Miss Naomi Joy McGuire, will you do me the honor of becoming my bride?”

So romantic! Bridget had thought. She’d been taught better than to eavesdrop, but if she’d made any attempt to move just then, she would have alerted them to her presence, and what if that destroyed the whole mood? Then Joy had blinked, swallowed hard, and stiffened her back. “I can’t, James,” she’d said. Then, snatching back her hand, she’d lifted the billowing blue satin of her skirt and raced across the lawn to the house.

Hours passed before Bridget returned to collect the last of the dishes and glasses scattered about by the guests. Yet he still stood alone where she’d last seen him. “Is there anything I can do for you, sir?”

Without looking up, James shook his head.

“Won’t you come inside and let me brew you a cup of tea?”

But he only shook his head again.

“But sir, ye’re pale as a ghost, and I can’t in good conscience leave you here alone. I’ll make a pest of myself, if I must, to get you inside, where it’s warm.” She gestured toward the yard. “Ye’ll catch yer death if you stay out here.”

When he gave no response, she linked her arm with his and led him to the house, chattering nonstop the whole way about the way Pastor Tillman had nearly choked on a wad of tobacco before pronouncing Drewry and Chase husband and wife; about the perfect weather, the delicious food, the pretty decorations…anything but the ceremony itself. “My name is Bridget, sir,” she said as they approached the front porch. “Bridget McKenna.”

The way he climbed the steps, Bridget couldn’t help but picture the tin soldiers lined up on the shelf at McDoogle’s Store back home. The poor man had found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his days with, and her refusal had broken his spirit. Surely, Joy had a good reason for saying no, but that didn’t stop Bridget from feeling sorry for him.

Once inside, she stopped at the parlor door. “Why not have a seat there by the fire? I’ll fetch you a nice hot cup of tea.”

“I think I’d rather just go to bed.”

As she opened the door to his room, she said, “If you need anything, anything at all, just ring for me.”

Though he nodded as he stepped into the room, Bridget had a feeling he wouldn’t ring. In fact, something told her she might not see him at all before he returned to Baltimore. “Well,” she muttered as he closed the door, “I don’t suppose all matches are made in heaven….”

“Like Drewry and Chase, you mean?”

A tiny shriek escaped her lungs. “Land sakes, man,” she said, recognizing Lance. “Ye’ll be the death of me, sure!” Bridget regarded him with a wary eye. “Ye’ve got cat’s paws for feet. How else can I explain how you slink around without making a sound?”

Chuckling, Lance pocketed both hands. “I wasn’t slinking. You were so deep in thought, a herd of cattle could have thundered through here, and you wouldn’t have noticed until the dust cleared.”

Bridget raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I might’ve noticed a wee bit before then.” Pointing at his feet, she said, “There’d have been the stink of the stuff you’ve tracked across my clean floor to bring me around.” Planting both fists on her hips, she met his eyes. “Perhaps you have been raised as fine as those fancy airs you put on, Mr. York, for no self-respecting stable hand would enter the master’s house without first puttin’ his soles to the boot scrape by the servants’ entrance!”

***

Lance glanced down at his boots and the telltale clumps of mud and horse manure that showed the path he’d taken since entering the foyer. Feeling strangely like an errant child caught sneaking cookies before dinner, he was about to inform her that although this was indeed a grand mansion, it sat upon fertile pastureland. Did she really expect everyone who entered to wipe his boots? And who did she think she was, anyway, scolding him as if he were an ordinary—

Yet the moment he looked into her eyes to deliver his rebuttal, Lance’s ire abated. She was perhaps the loveliest creature he’d ever seen, tiny and feminine and just scrappy enough to be reckoned with. A mass of shining brick-red waves framed her heart-shaped face, and even after a long day of tending to and tidying up after wedding guests, her milky skin glowed with healthy radiance, making the pale freckles sprinkling her nose even more noticeable.

And those eyes! He’d seen her before, both up close and from a distance. Why hadn’t he noticed how large and thickly lashed they were?

“So, there’s another lesson yer ma obviously didn’t teach you. First, you thoughtlessly mess up the floors, and then, you stare like a simpleton.”

Lance blinked, then frowned in response to her anger. “What? I—I wasn’t—”

“You were, and you still are,” she interrupted him, crossing her arms over her chest as she lifted her chin.

If he didn’t know better, he’d say she was daring him to disagree!

Lance had no earthly idea where the thought came from, but, suddenly, he wanted nothing more than to grasp the narrow shoulders she’d thrown back in defiance and kiss her square on those full, pink lips. Sweet Jesus, he prayed, keep me true to my vow….

Newly resolved and strengthened, he straightened to his full five-foot eleven-inch height. “I didn’t mean to track dirt into the house,” he said at last. “If you like, I’ll help you clean it up. And you have my word, it won’t happen again.”

Grinning, she wiggled her perfectly arched brows. “Oh, that won’t be necessary.” Then, “I suppose I could have been a mite gentler with you, now, couldn’t I?” On the heels of a deep breath, Bridget added, “It’s been a long, hard day, not that that’s a good excuse for my harshness.” With one hand up to silence his denial, she continued, “I set aside a bit of cake and lemonade. Will you let me get it for you, as a peace offerin’?”

Truth was, he’d stuffed himself at the reception and had no idea where he’d put another bite of food, so his answer surprised him. “Only if you’ll share it with me.”

She turned on her heel and, wiggling a finger over her shoulder, said, “Then follow me, English.”

He did, too, like a pup on his boy’s heels. As they made their way down the stairs, she said, “What you said earlier….”

Lance fell into step beside her. “In response to your ‘not all matches are made in heaven’ comment?”

Rounding the corner into the kitchen, she nodded. “How’d you know that’s what I meant?”

He straddled a stool and leaned both elbows on the table. No woman had ever willingly served him before, unless he counted roadside tavern maids. Lance rather enjoyed watching Bridget bustling about, preparing the snack that had been her idea. “I overheard what went on between Drewry’s uncle and his lady friend, too,” he said. His smile became a frown. “Sad, the way she treated the bloke.”

Bridget laid a neatly folded napkin near his left elbow and unceremoniously plopped a silver fork atop it. “Now, let’s not be too quick to judge, English. We have no way of knowing why she said what she did.”

By the time she set the tall goblet of lemonade near the tines of his fork, he was all but scowling. “It’s been my experience,” he began, “that women don’t need a reason to be cruel.” He sat up straighter and feigned a dainty pose. “You’re such a darling man,” he sighed in a high-pitched falsetto. “Is that your heart?” he asked, pointing a dainty finger at his imaginary tablemate’s chest. Then, his hand formed an ugly claw as he pretended to tear into the invisible man’s rib cage. “I’ve got it!” he all but shouted, pretending to stuff it into his mouth.

Bridget stood gawking with one hand on her hip and then wrinkled her nose. “After ye’ve learned to wipe yer feet,” she said, sliding the cake plate in front of him, “we’ll have a go at teachin’ you how to make interesting table conversation.” After taking a sip of her own lemonade, she sat down across from him. “A body could only guess from that sorry demonstration that you’ve been wounded a time or two by love.”

“Not really,” he said around a bite of frosting. “And I’m sorry for the outburst.”

Smiling, she pressed a hand to his forearm. “You can apologize for scarin’ the soul from m’body, for dirtyin’ my floor.” Leaning closer, Bridget narrowed her eyes. “But don’t ever let me hear you say you’re sorry for what you feel, English.”

Resting his elbow on the table, Lance let the empty fork dangle from his hand. “What have you got against the English, if you don’t mind my asking?” Slicing off another hunk of cake, he added, “Keep in mind, I’m English only on my father’s side….”

Sighing, Bridget sat back. “Have you ever been to Ireland?”

Lance shook his head.

“And what do you know about the way your people dealt with the Irish during the famine?”

In place of an answer, Lance only shrugged.

She folded her hands on the tabletop. “Now, I’ll warn ye, ’tisn’t a pretty story.” Winking, she looked from side to side, as if in search of a spy. “And there’s a good chance you’ll dislike your folks as much as I do when I’ve finished.” Pausing, she said, “You sure you want me to go on?”

“I’m sure,” he said with a grin.

And for the next hour, she held him spellbound with her tale.



Read my review HERE

Blog Tour and Book Review: Tales of the Heart (3-in-1 Collection) by Loree Lough


Tales of the Heart (3-in-1 Collection)
by Loree Lough
Copyright 2010
Whitaker House Publishers
478 pages
ISBN:9781603741675
Historical Fiction


From the publisher:
"Bridget's Bargain"
When the potato famine of 1845 forced Bridget McKenna to flee her home in Ireland, she came to America to work as a scullery maid on a Virginia plantation. That was four years ago. Now, Bridget dreams of bringing her father and six siblings to join her in America. She also dreams of marrying a God-fearing man, and when she meets the tall, handsome Lance York, it seems her dream might come true. He's English, however, just like the cruel landlord who oppressed Bridget's family in Ireland. Could there be more to him than she realizes?

"Kate Ties the Knot"
Seven years of widowhood have made Kate Flynn a strong, independent woman who even operates her own dressmaking shop. But when her eight-year-old son, Adam, has a run-in with a burly shipbuilder, she realizes the necessity of some godly male influence. Adam starts working in a warehouse owned by John Joseph O'Keefe, better known as J. J., who looks out for Adam and feels a growing attraction to his young protégé's mother. Kate's emotions are as tumultuous as the ocean as she wonders what the future will hold.

"Follow the Leader"
The Civil War has destroyed everything Valerie Carter held dear. Struggling to come to terms with her emotional devastation, she accepts a teaching position in Freeland, Maryland, and her heart is gradually warmed by her students' affection. She also finds herself attracted to Paul Collins, a young widower with three children who has a childlike faith in Jesus Christ. Will Paul be God's instrument to free Valerie from the bonds of bitterness?


My Review: I ordered this book not realizing that this was a reprint of 3 stories published over 10 years ago from Heartsong Presents. When I first started reading Christian fiction these were some of the first stories that I had the privilege of reading, so it was nice to revisit some old friends. If you like nice, romantic inspirational novellas you will like this collection of novellas. Loree Lough is one of my favorite authors and even though these may not be my favorite stories of hers they are still worth reading.

As with most novellas, things seem to move quickly (every few chapters a few months has passed) but there is some action, tears, love and friendships that develop that make these good for a quick read on a busy day. Of course, since they are inspirational, each novella has a strong faith message, each one being a little different. This book would be a great gift for younger readers who may be new fans of the Heartsong books and haven't had the chance to read some of the older books that the club had to offer. I'm pleased that Whitaker House decided to bring these stories back in print and I hope to pick up a copy of Loree's contemporary collection, Prevailing Love.

To learn more about Loree Lough and her books visit:
HER WEBSITE
HER BLOG

*I received my copy from Cathy Hickling @ Whitaker House. Thank you!*

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You probably know that I have a soft spot for dogs. I'm sure you've seen this dog hundreds of times. I don't know about you but everytime I see her I tear up! She's sooo cute and she is such an inspiration to everyone! Check out what Faith is doing now to help support our soldiers and their families!

FIRST Wildcard Tour: The Sheriff's Surrender (Ladies' Shooting Club, Book 1) by Susan Page Davis

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



The Sheriff’s Surrender


Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Maine with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She writes historical romances and cozy mysteries and is a member of ACFW. Visit her Web site at

Visit the author's website.





Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602605629
ISBN-13: 978-1602605626

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Fergus, Idaho

May 1885


Gert Dooley aimed at the scrap of red calico and squeezed the trigger. The Spencer rifle she held cracked, and the red cloth fifty yards away shivered.

“I’d say your shooting piece is in fine order.” She lowered the rifle and passed it to the owner, Cyrus Fennel. She didn’t particularly like Fennel, but he always paid her brother, the only gunsmith in Fergus, with hard money.

He nodded. “Thank you, Miss Dooley.” He shoved his hand into his pocket.

Gert knew he was fishing out a coin. This was the part her brother hated most—taking payment for his work. She turned away. Hiram would be embarrassed enough without her watching. She picked up the shawl she had let fall to the grass a few minutes earlier.

“That’s mighty fine shooting, Gert,” said Hiram’s friend, rancher Ethan Chapman. He’d come by earlier to see if Hiram would help him string a fence the next day. When Cyrus Fennel had arrived to pick up his repaired rifle, Ethan had sat down on the chopping block to watch Gert demonstrate the gun.

“Thank you kindly.” Gert accepted praise for shooting as a matter of course. Now, if Ethan had remarked that she looked fine today or some such pretty thing, she’d have been flustered. But he would never say anything like that. And shooting was just work.

Fennel levered the rifle’s action open and peered at the firing pin. “Looks good as new. I should be able to pick off those rats that are getting in my grain bins.”

“That’s quite a cannon for shooting rats,” Gert said.

Ethan stood and rested one foot on the chopping block, leaning forward with one arm on his knee. “You ought to hire Gert to shoot them for you.”

Gert scowled. “Why’d I want to do that? He can shoot his own rats.”

Hiram, who had pocketed his pay as quickly as possible, moved the straw he chewed from one side of his mouth to the other. He never talked much. Men brought him their firearms to fix. Hiram listened to them tell him what the trouble was while eyeing the piece keenly. Then he’d look at Gert. She would tell them, “Come back next week.” Hiram would nod, and that was the extent of the conversation. Since his wife, Violet, had died eight years ago, the only person Hiram seemed to talk to much was Ethan.

Fennel turned toward her with a condescending smile. “Folks say you’re the best shot in Fergus, Miss Dooley.”

Gert shrugged. It wasn’t worth debating. She had sharp eyes, and she’d fired so many guns for Hiram to make sure they were in working order that she’d gotten good at it, that was all.

Ethan’s features, however, sprang to life. “Ain’t it the truth? Why, Gert can shoot the tail feathers off a jay at a hundred yards with a gun like that. Mighty fine rifle.” He nodded at Fennel’s Spencer, wincing as though he regretted not having a gun as fine.

“Well, now, I’m a fair shot myself,” Fennel said. “I could maybe hit that rag, too.”

“Let’s see you do it,” Ethan said.

Fennel jacked a cartridge into the Spencer, smiling as he did. The rag still hung limp from a notched stick and was silhouetted against the distant dirt bank across the field. He put his left foot forward and swung the butt of the stock up to his shoulder, paused motionless for a second, and pulled the trigger.

Gert watched the cloth, not the shooter. The stick shattered just at the bottom of the rag. She frowned. She’d have to find another stick next time. At least when she tested a gun, she clipped the edge of the cloth so her stand could be used again.

Hiram took the straw out of his mouth and threw it on the ground. Without a word, he strode to where the tattered red cloth lay a couple of yards from the splintered stick and brought the scrap back. He stooped for a piece of firewood from the pile he’d made before Fennel showed up. The stick he chose had split raggedly, and Hiram slid the bit of cloth into a crack.

Ethan stood beside Gert as they watched Hiram walk across the field, all the way to the dirt bank, and set the piece of firewood on end.

“Hmm.” Fennel cleared his throat and loaded several cartridges into the magazine. When Hiram was back beside them, he raised the gun again, held for a second, and fired. The stick with the bit of red stood unwavering.

“Let Gert try,” Ethan said.

“No need,” she said, looking down at her worn shoe tips peeping out beneath the hem of her skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Ethan’s coaxing smile tempted her.

Fennel held the rifle out. “Be my guest.”

Gert looked to her brother. Hiram gave the slightest nod then looked up at the sky, tracking the late afternoon sun as it slipped behind a cloud. She could do it, of course. She’d been firing guns for Hiram for ten years—since she came to Fergus and found him grieving the loss of his wife and baby. Folks had brought him more work than he could handle. They felt sorry for him, she supposed, and wanted to give him a distraction. Gert had begun test firing the guns as fast as he could fix them. She found it satisfying, and she’d kept doing it ever since. Thousands upon thousands of rounds she’d fired, from every type of small firearm, unintentionally building herself a reputation of sorts.

She didn’t usually make a show of her shooting prowess, but Fennel rubbed her the wrong way. She knew he wasn’t Hiram’s favorite patron either. He ran the Wells Fargo office now, but back when he ran the assay office, he’d bought up a lot of failed mines and grassland cheap. He owned a great deal of land around Fergus, including the spread Hiram had hoped to buy when he first came to Idaho. Distracted by his wife’s illness, Hiram hadn’t moved quickly enough to file claim on the land and had missed out. Instead of the ranch he’d wanted, he lived on his small lot in town and got by on his sporadic pay as a gunsmith.

Gert let her shawl slip from her fingers to the grass once more and took the rifle. As she focused on the distant stick of firewood, she thought, That junk of wood is you, Mr. Rich Land Stealer. And that little piece of cloth is one of your rats.

She squeezed gently. The rifle recoiled against her shoulder, and the far stick of firewood jumped into the air then fell to earth, minus the red cloth.

“Well, I’ll be.” Fennel stared at her. “Are you always this accurate?”

“You ain’t seen nothing,” Ethan assured him.

Hiram actually cracked a smile, and Gert felt the blood rush to her cheeks even though Ethan hadn’t directly complimented her. She loved to see Hiram smile, something he seldom did.

“Mind sharing your secret, Miss Dooley?” Fennel asked.

Ethan chuckled. “I’ll tell you what it is. Every time she shoots, she pretends she’s aiming at something she really hates.”

“Aha.” Fennel smiled, too. “Might I ask what you were thinking of that time, ma’am?”

Gert’s mouth went dry. Never had she been so sorely tempted to tell a lie.

“Likely it was that coyote that kilt her rooster last month,” Hiram said.

Gert stared at him. He’d actually spoken. She knew when their eyes met that her brother had known exactly what she’d been thinking.

Ethan and Fennel both chuckled.

Of course, I wouldn’t really think of killing him, Gert thought, even though he stole the land right out from under my grieving brother. The Good Book says don’t kill and don’t hate. Determined to heap coals of fire on her adversary’s head, she handed the Spencer back to him. “You’re not too bad a shot yourself, Mr. Fennel.”

His posture relaxed, and he opened his mouth all smiley, like he might say something pleasant back, but suddenly he stiffened. His eyes focused beyond Gert, toward the dirt street. “Who is that?”

Gert swung around to look as Ethan answered. “That’s Millicent Peart.”

“Don’t think I’ve seen her since last fall.” Fennel shook his head. “She sure is showing her age.”

“I don’t think Milzie came into town much over the winter,” Gert said.

For a moment, they watched the stooped figure hobble along the dirt street toward the emporium. Engulfed in a shapeless old coat, Milzie Peart leaned on a stick with each step. Her mouth worked as though she were talking to someone, but no one accompanied her.

“How long since her man passed on?” Ethan asked.

“Long time,” Gert said. “Ten years, maybe. She still lives at their cabin out Mountain Road.”

Fennel grimaced as the next house hid the retreating figure from view. “Pitiful.”

Ethan shrugged. “She’s kinda crazy, but I reckon she likes living on their homestead.”

Gert wondered how Milzie got by. It must be lonesome to have no one, not even a nearly silent brother, to talk to out there in the foothills.

“Supper in half an hour.” She turned away from the men and headed for the back porch of the little house she shared with Hiram. She hoped Fennel would take the hint and leave. And she hoped Ethan would stay for supper, but of course she would never say so.


Please read my review HERE.

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Sheriff's Surrender (Ladies' Shooting Club, Book 1) by Susan Page Davis


The Sheriff's Surrender (Ladies' Shooting Club, Book 1)
by Susan Page Davis
Copyright 2009
Barbour Publishing
319 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60260-562-6
Fiction/Christian/Romance


From the publisher: Join the sassy ladies of Fergus, Idaho, as they protect their town in this quirky historical by award-winning author Susan Page Davis. A crime spree has divided the men in town, so Gert Dooley forms the Ladies’ Shooting Club to protect their businesses, homes, and families. But when one of their members is murdered, will these feisty gals have what it takes to find the killer before he strikes again? Will the new sheriff put the club out of work, or will he surrender his heart to one crack shot lady?

My Review: I was really intrigued with the premise of this story, ladies in a small town in Idaho forming a club to learn how to shoot straight and rely on themselves for protection rather than a man. I wasn't disappointed, the first few chapters of The Sheriff's Surrender were terrific. I loved Gert and her tight lipped brother Hiram, they were complete opposites and really different from most romance characters. I know I've been saying that a lot about some of the books that I've been reading lately but it's really refreshing to see characters that break the mold so to speak. Ethan, the Dooley siblings close friend and newly appointed town sheriff, is a good character too but for the hero, I didn't really connect as much with him as I usually do. Sure he's a nice guy and all but I guess other than that he fought against Indians, I would have liked to know more about him.

I think this book is more of a mystery than a romance since the story mainly focuses on the formation of the Ladies Shooting Club and catching the bad guy than on the relationship between the hero and heroine. However that does not mean that I did not like the story. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it (despite being a tad slow in the middle) and the ending was a total surprise!

I can't wait to see if the romance that we get a peek at fully develops in Book 2, The Gunsmith's Gallantry. I'm really excited to see what happens with Gert's brother, Hiram too. I like him. I go for the strong silent types I guess. That said, I really hope he gets a fine woman to help him overcome the grief that he's suffered in his life. If you're not into a mushy gushy romance or just want a change of pace, this is a sweet wild west mystery mixed with a teeny bit of romance that you may enjoy!

To learn more about Susan Page Davis visit:
HER WEBSITE

*Many thanks to Angie @ Barbour Books and the author for providing me with a review copy.*

Book Review: Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas by Janice Hanna Thompson

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas

by Janice Hanna Thompson
Copyright 2009
Summerside Press
310 pages
ISBN: 978-1-935416-16-6
Fiction/General/Romance

From Amazon: Belinda Bauer in her ivory tower. In the German community of Poetry, Texas, Belinda spies an opportunity. The tiny town is filled with loggers and railroad men in need of wives, so she sets herself up as a marriage broker. She writes little poems to be printed in newspapers all over the country and one by one, women begin to arrive in Poetry. There's only one problem: Belinda doesn't have a clue what shes doing and all the brides marry the wrong men! One client is particularly unhappy. Georg Kaufman, the local barber, has lost more than one prospective wife to Belinda's fumbled attempts. For some reason, she just cant seem to find Georg's perfect match, though its not for lack of trying. Is there a poetic ending in store for Georg and for Belinda herself?

My Review: This is my first time reading anything by Janice Thompson and it certainly will not be the last. I really enjoyed the mix of humor, romance, and faith that this book offered. I'm excited to read her contemporary romance, Fools Rush In as soon as I can get it back from my cousin!

The main character, Belinda opens her own business in the small town of Poetry, Texas, with the hope of bringing a little bit of class to rival the neighboring town of Terrell (they have an opera house) in the form of mail order brides. She thinks that all she needs to bring people together is a little bit of scientific reasoning sprinkled with God's will!

What happens in between is hilarious! There are so many weddings in the small town that I think there is at least one in every chapter. Janice Thompson sure knows how to do fun! The antics of one of Belinda's "mail order brides," Sarah Jo and the town's poet laureate, Peter made me laugh out loud! Read it and you will certainly know what I'm talking about!

Belinda's own romance is sweet and I couldn't help but want her to open her eyes and see the man who was right in front of her all along! Georg, the town barber is a great character too. He is so sweet and soft hearted which is a refreshing change from the usual he man characters that I'm used to reading about in romances.

With all that said I think that this is a great book if you like a really strong faith message of listening to God and one's heart and a humorous but sweet romance.

To learn more about Janice and her books visit:

*I won my copy on Carman's blog and Janice graciously sent me a signed copy.*


Mustang of the Month!

Monday, December 14, 2009

If you're new to this blog you may not know that I'm a bit if a gearhead! I LOVE to talk about cars, particularly one in general, my favorite the Ford Mustang. Last month I decided to start a Mustang of the Month post. If you would like to see lasts month's pick plus more details on the Mustang of the Month go HERE.

This is this month's pick for my Mustang of the Month! You may think it a bit strange but I totally love pink...yes pink! I could definitely picture myself cruising around in a Mustang of this awesome special edition color exclusive to Saleen! What do you think?



2007 S281 Saleen Mustang in awesome Molly Pop Pink!

For more info and pictures of this sweet ride check out the article on 5.0 Mustang magazine's website!

CFRB Blog Tour and Review: The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again by James D. Maxon

Friday, December 11, 2009


The Cat that Made Nothing Something Again
by James D. Maxon

This month, CFRB presents The Cat that Made Nothing Something Again by James D. Maxon.

About the Book:
A nameless cat lives in a town of dry, unhappy people devoid of moisture, joy and creativity. How did the townspeople get this way? Who stole the moisture? And how can one crafty cat return moisture -- and life -- to his town? The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again tells the tale of how a feline hero discovers these answers. On his journey he overcomes obstacles with wit and determination, finds new friends in unexpected places and learns the simple joy -- and transcendent power -- of helping others.

My Review:
The last children's book that I read was one of my little brother's Magic Tree House books a few years back. I was looking forward to changing it up a bit to read The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again. At 89 pages it was a very quick read and only took about 45 minutes to read. However I'm not sure that this book is for the younger reader as some of the words would be hard for a younger reader to understand. At the beginning of the story I was a little frustrated with the use of similies and metaphors but I got past that. In all honesty however I really couldn't get past the sponges...all I kept thinking of was SpongeBob Squarepants. I know so many kids have seen Spongebob and love him so I'm not sure how they would feel about evil sponges.

I did like the cat though, who was nameless for most of the book. He set out on an adventure to help save himself and his town. Even though he was well taken care of he knew that he could improve life for all those around him if he could just get to the king and somehow stop the sponges who had sucked the life out of everything and everyone. The story is a fantasy with some good life lessons such as thinking of others instead of yourself, and even if you feel small and insignificant you can go on to do great things. If you have kids that like animals they might like this story.

About the Author:
James was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and now lives with his wife, Cindy, in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A writer of stories, poetry, expository, narrative and persuasive genres, James targets children and teens with messages of faith, hope and insight. Current work in progress is A Wizard Tale, which is a story about a fifteen-year-old boy who is involuntarily forced to walk in his father's footsteps-after his death-and finds himself fighting against a powerful and opposing force.


Visit the author's website.

View the book trailer.

Purchase The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again at
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