Romance Review: How Sweet It Is by Sophie Gunn

Monday, January 31, 2011

How Sweet It Is
by Sophie Gunn
Copyright 2011
Forever
416 pages
ISBN: 9780446561990
Contemporary Romance

From Goodreads:
Single mom Lizzie Bea Carpenter learned long ago that no white knight was coming to save her. A hardworking waitress at the local diner, she's raising her daughter to be like the independent women in her "Enemy Club"—high school rivals turned best friends, promising to always tell each other the whole truth and nothing but!

Yet part of Lizzie wishes she did have a man's help, just for small stuff, like fixing up the house. Her fairy godmother must have been listening, because Dante "Tay" Giovanni soon appears. He's sexy, kind, and offering assistance—no strings attached.

Slowly, steadily, Lizzie's heart opens. But the grip of the past is fierce, and nothing in life is ever really free. Tay has his own tragedies to overcome, but if he can, he'll fix more than Lizzie's home. He'll show her just how sweet it is to be loved by him.


My Review:
Throw together a waitress and single mom with an Italian handyman and a few cute critters and you have How Sweet It Is! If you're a fan of light-hearted romances you might enjoy this story. I had a bit of a hard time getting into it at first. I don't mind occasional mild language but didn't appreciate the use of the "f" word towards the beginning of the story. It was kind of an immediate turn off. I was a bit confused by the secondary storyline and why Tay forced money on someone who didn't want it especially since it was all he had left but overall it was a nice romance. However, as I continued I started to like it especially when I realized just how long it has been since I've read a book with an Italian hero like Tay! Really is there anyone out there who doesn't like tall, dark, and handsome? The last quarter of the book was my favorite part. While I didn't really feel the love between Tay and Lizzie, the end of the story took a more serious turn and made their relationship seem more realistic and seemed to cement their bond. Overall I liked the book and will check out the next in the series to see what happens with the "Enemy Club" gals. :-)

Judging by the excerpt and the absolutely adorable cover Sweet Kiss of Summer! looks like a winner. *fingers crossed*

Content note: Some strong language, mild love scenes. Older readers only.


To learn more about Sophie and her books visit:
Her WEBSITE
Her BLOG
Twitter
Facebook

*I received my review copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my thoughts on the book.*

Christian Fiction Review: Stars Collide (Backstage Pass, Book 1) by Janice Thompson

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stars Collide (Backstage Pass, Book 1)
by Janice Thompson
Copyright 2011
Revell Books
336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3345-2
Fiction/Contemporary Romance

From the publisher:
Her future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades

Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy don't just play two people who are secretly in love on a television sitcom--they are actually head over heels for each other in real life. When the lines between reality and TV land blur, they hope they can keep their relationship under wraps. But when Kat's grandmother, an eccentric star from Hollywood's golden age, mistakes their on-screen wedding proposal for the real deal, things begin to spiral out of control. Will their secret be front-page news in the tabloids? And can their budding romance survive the onslaught of paparazzi, wedding preparations, and misinformed family members?


My Review:
When you think of Hollywood glitz, glamour and scandal, not necessarily faith and love come to mind. Stars Collide just may change that. Stars Collide gives a glimpse behind the scenes on the set of a popular (fictional) TV sitcom and into the lives of its two biggest stars, Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy. It's just a "glimpse" mind you by the end of the book I had no idea they had it in them to pull off what they did! Squeee! I loved it! I was totally shocked and pleasantly surprised! You will laugh one minute and sigh the next. Janice Thompson has a way with words unlike any other author.

Looking for a dashing hero? Janice gives you one in each and every one of her books. While Scott doesn't take DJ's place in my heart (DJ is the hero from the Weddings by Bella series) he is sweet and pretty much a dream. Scott's got the Hollywood good looks with the down home charm and personality and doesn't Kat know it too! While Kat, the heroine, is sweet and sassy she has nothing on Grandma Lenore. Anyone with a '57 Caddy, a '77 Camaro, and a '67 Mustang is more than okay in my book! I love her enthusiasm for her cars, her life, her family and most importantly, God.

If you are a fan of the Weddings by Bella books I think you will love this great start to a new series. I'm not at all disappointed with this story and have the feeling that better things are yet to come. Stars Collide is a fun, quick read, a perfect distraction from the real world!

“Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

To learn more about Janice visit:
Her WEBSITE
TWITTER

*I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

Clash of the Titles: This Week's Winner!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hot Off The Presses!

A new Clash of the Titles (COTT) winner has been revealed!

(Drum roll, please)...........

And the winner is........... Tina Pinson! Woo Hoo! Yeah! Way to go!

Tina's excerpt from her book In the Manor of the Ghost, beat out her competitor (DeAnna Julie Dodson's In Honor Bound) with a 56% to 44% vote. Such close results tell us ya can't go wrong with either title, but Tina's did indeed "take the cake". Congratulations are in order to the newest Conqueror at Clash of the Titles. Hip-hip, hooray! Hip-hip, hooray!

Tina competed in the category of Most Gut-Wrenching Scene with a heart-twisting look at a woman watching her husband and baby trapped in a burning building:
Jean Marc stood in the upstairs window holding a bundle. Kaitlin knew, with another slice to her soul, the bundle was Simone. Jean Marc, so quiet, protective, so uneasily riled, yelled. Tormented wails for help rose along with tears of anguish and fear as angry flames licked out behind him.

For the full excerpt, click here

A few of our reader/voters' comments:
** This would be my worst nightmare!
** Wonderful writing!
** Both excerpts were really gut wrenching and had me in tears.


So what did she think of her visit to COTT? In her words:
"Thanks for letting me do battle here. Not quite so bloody as other arenas. I was honored to be a warrior on Clash. I loved the excerpt from my opponent."

Like those before her, Tina exhibits the graciousness and sportsmanship that has come to define the COTT family. She fits right in. And that's something she hasn't always known. Growing up Tina was one of five siblings—the only blonde. Though her sisters often joked that she must have been adopted (all in fun), there's no teasing here.

You can read more about Tina in her interview on Clash of the Titles here

About her book:
***
In the Manor of the Ghost:
It's the 1870's. The Civil War has long since been fought and laid to rest, settlers are still joining the wagon trains and heading west to the New Eden. The land is changing. But those who dwell in Clayborne Manor seem trapped in time.

Trapped amid the whispers of failure and sorrow, whispers of longing and defeat. Kaitlin hears them clearly at night. But who haunts Clayborne Manor? The ghost that restlessly walks the halls in the night? Or the ones that plague the minds and spirits of those residing there? Though not inclined to believe the dead can walk the night laden corridors, Kaitlin can see them clearly in the eyes of her husband Devlin, and hear them in the deafening silence of her son, Derrick. Does she have the courage to search the past and face the ghosts? Does she have the faith to stay and direct all those who dwell In the Manor of the Ghost to the one who sets the captive free?
***
Find out more about Tina and her novel at TinaPinson.com

COTT's next Clash begins Monday with Romantic Moments. Head over there to vote and enter the free book drawing. Get ready to swoon!

*Article by Michelle Massaro, COTT Assistant Editor.*

Perfect Winter Escapes: Quick Reviews for Books to Beat the Winter Blues

Thursday, January 27, 2011

As you may know from previous posts I hate winter and all the cold and biting winds and snow that come with it so I'm always looking to escape. Since I can't go anywhere tropical right this minute I try to keep in good spirits by picking up a good book. This winter I've read a ton of great books that are set in warm places like the beach, California and other beautiful (and warm) locales. I thought it would be fun to feature them to help you decide what to read to beat those winter blues and fight off the chill. Here are two of my favorites.

Hatteras Girl
by Alice J. Wisler


From the publisher:
Fall in love with Alice J. Wisler's charming characters in this delightful story set in the beach communities of North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Jackie Donovan prays for two things: an honest, wonderful man to marry and to own a bed-and-breakfast on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. In the meantime, she works for Lighthouse Views, writing articles about local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: The Bailey House, a fabulous old home located right next to the ocean, a place where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons. But the Bailey House has strange stories and secrets surrounding it—not to mention its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey property, she believes God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to wonder if her heart has lead her astray. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?


Quick Review: *I liked it*
This book was a terrific story. I first knew I HAD to read it when I saw that it was set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you are sick of the cold, wintery weather this is the perfect escape especially if you're like me, a person who is familiar with the area. While this was no Nicholas Sparks novel, it's fun to read and gives a glimpse into what life might be like for locals living in a resort/vacation area. From Jackie to Buck I thought each character was terrific except of course, Davis who I thought was a little shady right from the start.

****************************************

Love Finds You in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
by Sandra D. Bricker

From the publisher:
Annie Gray has an epiphany: she is not living the life she’s always dreamed of. She decides to start fresh, drawing inspiration from her favorite classic Hollywood films. First, Annie moves into the picturesque Carmel bungalow belonging to her grandmother—a retired film star. Next up: landing an exciting job as a private investigator’s assistant. But Annie’s new boss is no Humphrey Bogart, and the work isn’t quite what she pictured. Just when everything in Annie’s screen-worthy plan teeters on the brink of disaster, she has another epiphany. Will this one land her in the arms of her own leading man?

Quick Review: *I loved it*
What can I say other than this, it's Sandra Bricker folks, her books are always a blast to read! Love Finds You in Carmel-by-the-Sea has the fun and faith that I've come to associate with Ms. Bricker. Annie and Nick are my favorite characters yet and little Sherm the lettuce eating beagle....what a cute critter! If you're a fan of old Hollywood, cute hats and convertibles you will enjoy this book. Did I mention I absolutely love the setting? I've never been to California but through this book I felt as if I could have been there, traversing the streets and shops of Carmel and Monterey! This is a great light read, perfect for a winter escape!

****************************************

Fun fact 1: Both Jackie and Annie have a love for hats!
Fun Fact 2: I started this post a few weeks back before the Outer Banks received 6 inches of the white stuff! Oh well I'm not going to let the "s" word ruin this post!

*I received my books from the author and publisher but was not obligated to provide postive reviews.*

Here We Go Steelers!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Finally that pricey new stadium in Dallas will see a winning team play under it's roof...the Pittsburgh Steelers!!!!! Woot Woot!!!!! Time to plan a great Super Bowl party, any suggestions for the food menu?

Christian Fiction Review: Fatal Judgment (Guardians of Justice, Book 1) by Irene Hannon

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fatal Judgment (Guardians of Justice, Book 1)
by Irene Hannon
Revell Books
Copyright 2011
336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3456-5
Christian Fiction/Suspense

From the publisher:
U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward the coldhearted workaholic haven't warmed in the five years since she drove her husband--and Jake's best friend--to despair . . . and possible suicide.

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, he's forced to revise his opinion of her. And when it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in danger.


My Review:
Once again I have found a suspense book that I really enjoyed. Fatal Judgment is the first in a new series from author, Irene Hannon who is definitely making a name for herself as one of the top suspense writers, at least in my book (no pun intended)! What really surprised me about this story is that even though the author let's us know who the bad guy is right away it didn't take away from the story at all! Usually if I can figure out who committed the crime I lose a bit of interest in the book, but even though Ms. Hannon came right out with it I wanted to keep reading! I guess it helped that we really got to inside his head and "follow" him along as he was planning his next move. I think it really added to the "creepiness" factor that I like when reading a suspense or mystery novel.

Since this is a romantic suspense you expect a little romance, right? Well you get it. I felt the chemistry between Liz and Jake right away. I also thought it was nice that Jake, as a U.S. Marshal kept his feelings in check but we got to see him struggle a bit, in other words he wasn't perfect. ;-) All in all this was a great read. Watch out if there's a man in your life, this is a book that he might want to steal from you!

“Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

To learn more about the author visit:
Her WEBSITE


*I received my review copy from the publisher, I was not obligated to provide a positive review.*


Blog Party Invitation!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Hey Guys! Renee here with some great news from Amber @ Seasons of Humility...she's throwing a party to celebrate Valentine's Day with a Season of Love party February 7-14th! Check out the info below and go HERE to check out Amber's Season of Love page and to grab the "official" button to decorate your blog's sidebar and help spread the word!

Here are all the details taken from Amber's blog...if you look closely a certain someone will be hosting the party on the 13th with a special guest and quite possibly will be offering a superb giveaway!! ;-)

Who: Everyone is invited!

What: A progressive blog party

When: February 7th through the 14th

Where: Various blogs

Why: To celebrate the wonderful gift called love!

And here's a peek at the tentative schedule, with links to the blogs that will be featured each day:

--Monday, February 7th: Amber at Seasons of Humility--Interview with MaryLu Tyndall and a giveaway

--Tuesday, February 8th: Renee Ann at Doorkeeper--TBA

--Wednesday, February 9th: Casey at Writing for Christ--Interview with Kristin Billerbeck and a giveaway

--Thursday, February 10th: Hannah at Project Journal--TBA

--Friday, February 11th: Joy at Edgy Inspirational Romance--TBA

--Saturday, February 12th: Julia at Darkglass Ponderings--Interview with Jody Hedlund; "romantic" menu of recipes from a chef!

--Sunday, February 13th: Renee at Black 'n Gold Girl's Bookspot--Interview with Laura Frantz

--Monday, February 14th: Visit Seasons of Humility for a Mr. Linky listing of all the blogs writing a special Valentine's Day post; winners announced on the participating blogs

Remember to mark your calendars, you won't want to miss a day!

Friday Fun, Steelers Nation Style!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's that time of year again, NFL playoff season and once again my Pittsburgh Steelers are in it to win it! This Sunday the Steelers will battle the Jets in a bid for the AFC Championship trophy and a spot in the Super Bowl! If you know anything about football you know that the Super Bowl is a pretty big game and often the best part about it are the commercials (check out some of my faves from last year). While the commercials are fun, in the Pittsburgh area they play some great Steelers fight songs on the radio. Let me tell you, Steelers Nation consists of some pretty talented folks and once of my favorite songs is Here We Go by Roger Wood!!

If you click the link below you can give a listen to some of my favorite songs including HERE WE GO and another fave Kardaz's, GO STEELERS! Just scroll down the list, click the songs and turn up those speakers!!!

Pittsburgh Steelers Fight Songs!

Don't forget to wear your black 'n gold this Sunday! Let's hope the Steelers can ground those Jets so yinz other guys out there in Steelers Nation can throw a huge Super Bowl party with me!!!! ;-)

Note: Some of the songs may contain a swear word, the ones I listed above however are "clean."

Go Steelers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Wounded Spirits (Creek Country Saga, Book 1) by April Gardner

Thursday, January 20, 2011


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:





Wounded Spirits




Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)


***Special thanks to April Gardner for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



April W Gardner is a military wife who has practiced the art of homemaking all over the world. She spends her mornings homeschooling her two darling children, and her afternoons inside the minds of her characters. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, traveling the nation in an RV, and learning Italian. April is involved in the music ministry of her church and volunteers in their library. She currently lives in the heart of ancient Creek Country—Middle Georgia.

This is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:


On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born; will she be strong enough to wait on God's provision?

A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate--and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.

Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission - he'll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can't see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him...or has He?

Their lives molded by the course of history, can these Wounded Spirits learn to rely on God's grace during one of the bloodiest conflicts in the South?








Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981989616
ISBN-13: 978-0981989617

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





McGirth Plantation, Tensaw Settlement

June 1813

Adela shifted her body to allow blood flow to her legs. The mossy ground had long grown hard against her tailbone, and the rough tree trunk dug into her back.

A refreshing breeze blew through the pines lining the northwestern border of her father’s land. It rustled the needles and created a comforting, familiar whistle.

A small meadow lay vacant before her. On the opposite side, the evening sun cast the last rays through the treetops. Squinting, she thought, for an instant, she saw the form of a man. No, it was just a bush moving with the current of the wind.

Surely, she had been waiting nigh on two hours. Her family would be worrying. Just north, civil war raged among the Creeks and threatened to involve the vulnerable Americans in the Tensaw and Bigby settlements. Her parents’ constant fear of danger was well placed.

Soon Mama would call Adela’s father in from the barn and send one of the servants looking for her. Worry was never good for Mama

Her attacks were rare these days, but she never knew what might set her to wheezing, then coughing.

Adela’s stomach twittered and flipped. She stood then rubbed her lower back. “Please, hurry, Phillip. Please,” she murmured, not sure she could stay much longer.

Unheeding, the sun’s beams continued down the length of the trees then dissolved, leaving only their orange and purple reflection in the sky.

Not wanting to create undue stress on her parents, she gave up waiting and set out toward home. She lifted her skirt to avoid the prickly blackberry bushes, and berated herself for not having thought to bring a lantern. How foolish of me!

“Adela…Adela…” Her name rode on the breeze.

Her heart seized, and then leapt as she recognized the voice. Haste sped her back through the underbrush.

“Phillip! I waited so long.” She panted.. He enveloped her in his work-hardened arms. Phillip was becoming more intimate with her. She wondered if it was too soon.

“I knew you’d wait.” Resting his hands on her shoulders, he stepped back where she could see him. “I couldn’t get away any sooner. Dixon had a list as long as my arm of things for me to do before I leave tomorrow. He hovered like a hawk to see I got them done.”

She pulled his hands from her shoulders and held them between her own instead. “You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”

“How will I ever last three months without you?”

“What kind of nonsense is that? You’ll do just fine. The adventure of your life is just around the corner. I hardly think you’ll be pining for boring old Tensaw. You just see Savannah treats you well while you’re busy getting your commission, Second Lieutenant Phillip Bailey.”

A stray lock of dark blond hair fell over his eye, and feeling bold, Adela brushed it away. He caught her hand and pulled it to his lips, his coffee brown eyes sparkling in the waning daylight. The warmth of his lips on her fingertips sent tingles of excitement rushing through her, but not without a warning.

I shouldn’t be encouraging him this way. Not while I’m still so unsure... She dropped her eyes, but he mistook her guilt for something else.

“That’s what I love about you, Adela. You’re all innocence and piety.”

He cradled the back of her neck with his hand, and her insides fluttered in a dangerous way. She knew she should move away, but she felt drawn to him, like a mouse to a trap.

Adela cleared her throat, “You speak of love when we’ve only been courting a month. And, I might add, quite unofficially.” His deep affection seemed premature.

“Maybe, but I’ve known I’d marry you from the day we met.”

She’d known him since she was just a girl. A grown woman now,ow had she not noticed he cared? She opened her mouth to ask, but he placed a finger on her lips.

“Are you sure you won’t come with me? It’s not too late. We can marry tomorrow, first thing and—”

“Marry? Tomorrow?You know I can’t. You haven’t spoken to my father about courting me, much less marriage. And there’s Ellie…did you forget? You know how she adores you.”

Phillip gave her a placating smile. “She might hurt for a while, but she’ll see reason. She’s not foolish, simply a bit of a romantic…albeit misplaced.”

Adela chuckled. “Elizabeth, romantic? Determined, more likely. She decided years ago to love you, and it would take a direct message from God to persuade her otherwise.” She propped her hands on her hips, barely noticing the first chirps of the crickets. “Did you know she just rejected an offer of marriage from Mr. Pierce?”

“The schoolteacher and Ellie? Married?”

“Well, he would have liked as much.”

Phillip tipped his square chin and laughed outright.

The sound brought a smile to Adela’s face, but she chided him nonetheless. “Come now, it was a perfectly decent offer.”

Phillip wiped his eyes. “But the man is twice her age, and desperate to be married. Have you seen his cabin? Chaos!”

Adela dismissed his objections with a wave of her hand. “All that aside, I am not prepared to be at odds with my sister. So, she must not find out about us…for the time being, anyway. We’ll address the issue when you return.”

“She has to find out eventually. Why not now?”Phillip crossed his arms and gave her the back of her shoulder. He’d never been one for patience and at the moment, he reminded Adela of a spoiled child denied a piece of pie. She chuckled.

“What are you laughing about?”

“Just now, you reminded me of Mrs. Haverty’s youngest.”

His eyes darkened as he took a step closer. His stiff form towered above her. “You’re comparing me to that little monster?”

Adela sobered at the intensity of his gaze. “It was a silly thought. Please forgive me.”

He studied her in silence.

Warning bells clanged in her mind. Just as another apology formed on her tongue, he let out a puff of air and relaxed his stance. “I just want to take care of you, Adela. I want to build a home for you and provide for you, give you beautiful things and walk with you through town on my arm. Let me talk to your father tonight.”

He could be quite persuasive.Still, she refused to allow him to push her into something for which she wasn’t fully prepared.

She gave a tentative shake of the head. True to form, her hesitance produced a huff of frustration. “If not now, then when? When will that dear sister of yours ever take the news well?”

“Why would I tell her something I’m uncertain of myself?”

He scowled then spoke as if she hadn’t mentioned her ambiguity. “You need to know the moment my feet touch Tensaw soil in August I plan on asking your father for permission to court you properly.” He grasped her chin in his hand and pressed a hard kiss to her lips. “So, you’d best prepare her.”

She took a step back and smoothed out her skirt.,. “Aren’t you the bold one tonight, Mr. Bailey.”

He merely grinned and removed the bear claw pendant that always hung around his neck. “Wear this to remember me by,” he said, holding it out.

“Phillip, it was your grandfathers! I can’t. It’s too important to you.”

“Of course you can. You’re to be my wife. It means what’s mine is yours. I love you, Adela McGirth, and there’s no one else I’d give it to.” His voice rang with longing as he ran his eyes over the length of her, pausing in all the wrong places.

She resisted the urge to cross her arms over her chest. At least the dark of the night covered the blush on her cheeks. Never had a man appreciated her body the way Phillip did, and never had one assumed so much. “You’re being a bit presumptuous. Aren’t you?”

“Not at all. I’m a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t stop until he gets it.” Playfulness tinged in his tone, but Adela heard the truth behind his words. “Take the pendant. If it helps, see it as a gift from a friend. Not as a token of betrothal.”

Seen in such a way, what could it hurt?

She slipped it about her neck then gasped as he pulled her into a fierce kiss. His moist lips moved confidently against hers. Warm hands stroked her back and almost melted her resolve to remain chaste.

“I love you,” he murmured against her mouth.

She knew he wanted a similar reply, but she couldn’t give it. The words caught in her throat, as if uncertainty itself held them from escaping.

She split apart from his searching mouth and sought retreat. “Please, be careful in Savannah,” she managed. “I have to go.” She dropped her arms and ran for home, the claw thumping against her chest.

* * *

Adela climbed the ladder to the loft careful not to wake her sisters. She hung her dress on a peg and slipped into her nightgown. Phillip’s bear claw thudded against her. She clutched it through her gown as panic seized her. Had she hid it from Mama? So intent on getting home, she hadn’t thought of it until now.

Her shoulders dropped when she realized Mama would have questioned her about it if she’d seen.

The wooden timbers of the bed squeaked as Adela climbed in next to Lillian. They had always shared a bed. Even when given the option of each having their own in their more spacious, newly built house, they had both refused, preferring the warmth and closeness the other afforded.

Although the two were completely opposite one another in every way, they held a special bond. Maybe it was Adela’s quiet dependence on God which supported the more flighty Lillian, or maybe it was Lillian’s carefree spirit which drew Adela to her sister’s side. Perhaps, it was the need for an ally against Ellie’s domineering onslaughts.

Regardless, with just a year separating them, she and Lillian understood each other, thrived on their friendship.

Lillian turned over to face her. “Where have you been?” she whispered, her anger barely concealed. “I’ve been worried sick. We all have.”

“Shh! You’ll wake Ellie.” Adela glanced at Elizabeth but their older sister’s breath remained deep and even.

“Well?” Lillian hissed.

“In the woods.”

“In the woods? That’s all you’re going to say? I hope Mama believed you more than I do.”

The fearful look on Mama’s face and the way she’d clung to Adela when she’d walked through the door flashed across her mind. She tasted guilt and couldn’t swallow. “Me too. But I didn’t lie, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Lillian practically snorted. “That would be something I would do. No, silence would be more your style.” She thumped Adela on the shoulder. “Am I not getting any more details, like where you got that—that—whatever it is hanging around your neck?”

Adela grasped the pendant. “You saw it?”

“Of course. When you got undressed, and if you don’t want anyone else to find out about it, you should be more careful. So, out with it. What have you got there?”

“It’s nothing. I shouldn’t have accepted it.”

“Nothing? I saw the way you were holding it,” she rasped.

“Shh! That’s not what I—” Would Lillian understand? “Oh, never mind.”

“Well, give me all the details. Who is he?”

“How did you know it was from a man?”

“Adela, Adela, ever so naive and oblivious. You and I don’t think the same at all. So, tell me already.”

“If I tell you, you have to promise to keep it to yourself! At least for a while. Promise?”

“Fine, I promise…just tell me.”

Adela took a deep breath, and said his name on less than a whisper.

“What? No! It’s—it’s not as if he has no reason to love you, but you? Lover of all things peaceable and non-confrontational, I never imagined you to be so audacious as to set your bonnet for Ellie’s man!”

“Shh! See why it’s a secret? No one would understand. Besides, he’s not Ellie’s man. And I’m not even sure I feel anything for him.”

“You’ve got to be half mad. You do realize Elizabeth will practically disown you?”

Adela lost the battle against her tears..

“Come on. Don’t cry. I exaggerated. It won’t be so bad. She’ll forgive you…eventually. She’s never really had a claim to him and will see it in time. But you have to tell her. You can’t keep it from her forever, and if she finds out from someone else, it’ll be worse.”

“Lilly, I’ve tried a dozen times to tell her, but I just can’t.”

Adela moaned and Lillian put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“It’ll humiliate her, if it doesn’t kill her first,” Adela said. “I should have put an end to it before he left, especially since I’m not sure I even love him. But he’s so…”

“Handsome? Daring? Everything a woman could want in a man?”

Adela sighed and fiddled with the claw strung about her neck. “Yes, he’s all that, but there’s something missing…or maybe it’s what he has too much of. A bit too brash, maybe? Too self-confident? He angers easily, and I don’t see much of the Lord in his life.”

“Is that what’s bothering you? Do yourself a favor and stop focusing on his faults. We all have them.” She propped herself up on an elbow then paused. After a moment of silence, soft snoring from the other side of the room confirmed Ellie still slept.

Moonlight from the small window washed Lillian’s face in its glow. Their Mama’s full Spanish blood showed itself most in Lillian. Even in the dim light, she was beautiful. “It’s simple,” she said. “You tell Ellie. She’s hurt. When Phillip proposes, you accept, and in time, Ellie recovers.”

Lillian tugged the pendant from Adela’s grasp. “This was his grandfather’s. I take it Phillip loves you.”

“He claims he does.”

“And you saw him tonight to tell him goodbye?”

Adela bobbed her head.

“Your secret is safe with me, but my advice is sooner is always better than later.”

“I know. I know. I’m such a coward.”

“Hardly.” Lillian patted her hand.

It felt awkward to be the one consoled. The tables were usually turned.

.

“I didn’t plan for it to happen and now…I’m risking Ellie disowning me for a man.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard yet. Ellie isn’t that scary. Now why don’t you get some sleep, and we’ll talk about how to handle it tomorrow. I assume there will be a wedding when he returns. You can’t prepare for a home of your own and still keep it a secret. We’ll think of something.”

“Thanks, Lilly. Love you,” she said with a peck to her sister’s cheek.

Lillian flipped over,. Much later, her mind exhausted, she relaxed and followed her sister in sleep.

* * *

Kossati Village, Upper Creek Nation

The cabin door creaked as it opened. Nokos stepped inside careful not to wake the children. He left the door ajar allowing the moonlight to guide his steps. Its soft glow illuminated his little ones piled like counting sticks on the bearskin mat. Four sets of arms and legs were sprawled in every direction.

He brushed a kiss onto each warm forehead. The youngest stirred, flipped to his back, and wiped drool from his cheek.

He had missed them, but the reason for his early return lay in the bed on the far side of the room.

Having removed his weapons, he stretched his aching muscles and crept into bed next to his wife.

Just before leaving on his hunting trip one week earlier, he had revealed to Singing Grass his intentions to join the warring party. She wasn’t pleased.

Civil War had raged in the Creek Nation since the 1811 Grand Council. For over a year, he had publically remained neutral, along with Red Eagle.

Now, he found himself forced to choose sides. With the purpose of protecting their nation and keeping its traditions pure, the Red Sticks were executing those displaying American sympathies.

If the Long Knives were not stopped, the Muscogee would eventually be lead to starvation or worse…slavery. According to the Red Sticks, every American sympathizer must die.

Most in Kossati knew Nokos was partial to the Americans. Yes, their droves of cattle encroached on Creek land, and no, the farmers did not ask permission to run their iron plows through Creek soil. All that aside, he had found it difficult to justify fighting them.

They were powerful and well studied in war. Singing Grass was right…the Red Sticks would eventually be slaughtered.

But unless he pledged his allegiance to the Red Stick cause and soon, he would find himself taken unawares by a band of warriors.

Nokos let out his breath in a gust and sank onto the bearskin pallet.

Singing Grass stretched an arm across his chest, and propped her small pointed chin on his shoulder. “You are home early.” With familiar affection, she traced the lines and circles tattooed on his neck and awakened a hunger within him.

He sought her lips and kissed her deeply. “I did not mean to wake you. How are you feeling?”

“Hungry—all the time.” She hammered his chest with her forefinger. “You left the hunt early to ask me if I am well?”

“It’s no matter. There was no game to hunt.” He tried to keep the frustration from his voice. No need to worry her.

“Nothing? You caught nothing?”

“Three rabbits and a squirrel, as if I were just a boy. No one else had done any better when I left. I doubt one more day would have mattered much.” He pulled her closer. “I would rather be home with you than listening to their talk of war, death, and starv—” He cut his words short.

“You do not have to hide things from me. I’m pregnant--not blind and deaf. I know what is happening.”

“We’ll be fine.”

“You’re joining the Red Sticks. I hardly think it is fine. They will kill themselves in vain. Must you?”

“Yes, I must.” Should he reveal to her Gray Hawk’s warning to be quick in choosing sides? That his name had been whispered among those whose loyalty was in question?

“The prophets are insane! Surely you have not succumbed to their antics?”

“Of course not. I’m no fool.”

The sighting of a star with a fiery tail traveling across the sky a month after Tecumseh’s departure had frenzied the Creeks. It was the “sign”, they said. It was the “arm of fire” Tecumseh had claimed would prove his prophecies were from the Great Spirit. A strongly superstitious people, the sighting had driven the Creeks into the Red Stick faction by the thousands.

True to his word, Tecumseh had left several prophets to train the Creeks to lead their people in the war dances. In most every village, the rhythms and tunes became familiar. With devotion, men and women believed the tales told by new prophets.

“Look what madness has overcome our people,” Singing Grass said. “They are being led to the slaughter! We shame ourselves, and our children will pay. Pushmatahaw is a wise chief. He was right to force Tecumseh from his nation. Because he did, the Choctaw were spared this insanity. If only our chiefs had done the same…”

“Lower your voice,” Nokos cautioned. “Do you want the children to repeat what you say? We’re already at risk. Careless words could be our destruction.”

She sat up, and her single braid slipped from her shoulder and landed on his chest with a soft thud. “What do you mean we are already at risk?”

“My past will not be forgiven. I must clearly oppose the Americans.”

“And what of your past? Will you pretend it does not exist? Will you spit in the faces of those who love you?”

“Red Eagle has joined the war party,” Nokos said, preferring to ignore her difficult questions.

“You should go to Big Warrior, join his White ranks in Tuckabatchee. I hear all who desire peace with the Americans are flocking to his protection.”

“I agree with Big Warrior, but sooner or later, Tuckabatchee will be under siege and his White warriors will be forced to surrender to the Red Sticks. I either submit now or later.” Nokos shook his head. “No. No, I will do as I vowed and follow Red Eagle. He is a clever warrior, and will lead us well.”

The moment Nokos heard the half-Scottish, half-Creek chief had joined the Red Sticks, he knew what he must do. “If Red Eagle, as influential and powerful as he is, has been forced at the threat of his family’s life to join the Red Sticks, how will I avoid it?”

With his gaze, he caressed the mother of his children. She was so vulnerable. And the little ones. Who would protect them when he went away? If he died? At least now, he would not have to fear his own people turning against them. Most found it much easier to wish their enemy’s demise…not so with Nokos.

She brought his attention back to her by running her warm hand down his cheek. “Wipe the worry from your face, husband,” she said, resolve in her voice. She sniffed once then swallowed. “All will be well. Do what you must.” She dropped next to him and clung to his chest, her hair tickling the underside of his chin.

He hadn’t realized how much her approval meant to him until he obtained it. Resting a hand on the slight bulge of her belly, he prayed to whatever god would listen that this dear woman be spared the sufferings and hardships which were the sisters of war.



Review:
Be on the lookout for all the great new names in fiction this year including April Gardner. The setting and *sigh* worthy romance reminded me very much of one of my favorite Christian fiction authors, Laura Frantz. I love historical fiction but a lot of it tends to be set during the Civil War or shortly thereafter in the Western frontier towns. This book set in Creek Country during the Creek War is such a refreshing change, it makes the historian in me want to go out and research, research, research! Finally a topic that I haven't read about over and over again.

Of course by now you're wondering about the romance, well it certainly Sizzles (yes that's sizzles with a capital "s"). I was a little unsure of where Adela's relationship with Phillip was headed but by the end of the book I had that "aha" moment. I'm sure we will be seeing more of Phillip in the future but I can't say whether or not that will be a good thing but it will certainly make things interesting! Let me also just say if you're like me and enjoy a book with a forbidden romance, you're in luck. Sorry to tease but I'm not telling you who is involved in this relationship, you'll just have to read Wounded Spirits to find out! Hint: One of these people is not the aforementioned Phillip! ;-)

Are you intrigued? I hope so. This is a great inspirational romance and I definitely hope to read Book 2, Warring Spirits in the future!

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Part II

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ahh yes for me there's nothing better than a new Masterpiece film to watch especially since all that seems to be on TV are winter reruns. Last week I posted about Downton Abbey, Episode 1, of course I loved it. This week I felt as if I needed to dedicate more of the post to the servants of Downton and their roles in the household.

Right away I could tell that I was going to like certain folks and I was not going to like others and judging by this week's episode I was correct. I don't like O'Brien, lady's maid to Cora, or Thomas, they always seem to be in cahoots trying to undermine Mr. Bates, Robert's valet, or talking about this one or that one. On the other end of the spectrum Anna and Gwen are two of my favorites! Anna always defends Mr. Bates and Gwen especially when Gwen's "secret" is discovered. We don't see a whole lot of Gwen but I think she's a perfect example of the 20th century working class girl. It's hard to think of sometimes but when a woman wanted to rise above doing household tasks to earn a living one of a few professional option was that of a secretary. And don't get me started on Mrs. Patmore, the cook and Daisy, the kitchen maid, the way they go back and forth had me laughing and fearing for Daisy's mental health! Poor Daisy LOL! Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper and Mr. Carson the butler as played by Phyllis Logan and Jim Carter are as exactly as I pictured, serious as death when it comes to the care of the house and their employers yet still able to show their softer sides when it comes to the troubles of their staff.

As I said last week, this is definitely going to be one of my favorites of the year. I can't wait to see the new Upstairs, Downstairs when it premieres later on in the season. I've heard that it is like Downton Abbey in some respects. If the characters and actors who play them are half as good as those in Downton, I'll be pleased.

Just in case you missed it here's the link to Episode 2 directly from PBS.org!


Watch the full episode. See more Masterpiece.



Christian Fiction Review: The Search (Lancaster County Secrets, Book 3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher + iPad Giveaway Details

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Search (Lancaster County Secrets, Book 3)
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Copyright 2011
Revell
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3387-2
Contemporary Fiction

From the publisher:
When worlds collide, can the truth set two young women free?

As a child caught up in a crisis, Lainey O'Toole made a split-second decision with far-reaching effects. Fifteen years later, when her car breaks down in Stoney Ridge--the very town in which that decision was made--she is forced to face the past and discover how her decision has impacted so many.

Bess Reihl is less than thrilled to be spending the summer at Rose Hill Farm helping her intimidating grandmother Bertha recover from surgery. It doesn't take long for Bess to realize that her grandmother coaxed her to Stoney Ridge for an entirely different reason. But once Bess meets hired hand Billy Lapp, the summer starts to hold some promise.

Lainey's and Bess's worlds are about to collide and the secrets that come to light will shock them both.


My Review:
One thing I can say about Suzanne Woods Fisher is that she is keeping the Amish fiction genre fresh. Confronting issues such as war, alcohol abuse and even "fun" topics like growing roses makes Suzanne's books stand out. If you're looking for a tender, gut-wrenching all around awesome story pick up one (or all) of her books. Usually one to shy away from too much Amish fiction I can safely say that I will definitely be reading more of it in the future if they are stories like this one.

The Search follows Englischer, Lainey O'Toole who inadvertently winds up in Stoney Ridge, the small town she left years ago and Amish teen, Bess Reihl who is visiting her ailing grandmother for the summer. What ensues involves grief, loss, and the affects of long kept secrets. While not as dramatic in terms of dealing with war and conflict as The Waiting or The Choice, The Search had its own unique storyline and characters. For most of the story the matriarch of the Reihl family, Bertha and her rose garden brought so many people together and came to represent the strength and tender care that must be had and given when dealing with humans AND roses alike. I think this entire series is a keeper and a must read for fans of the genre. I would also ask you to give this a chance even if you're not a fan of Amish fiction, as it just may change your mind!

“Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

To learn more about the author and her books visit:
HER WEBSITE
HER BLOG
Twitter
Facebook

*I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

*********************************************************************************

Suzanne Woods Fisher's latest installment of the Lancaster County Secrets, The Search, is just out and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting The Search iPad Giveaway!










One Grand Prize winner will receive an iPad Prize Package worth over $500 and includes:


To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form/s, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on February 3rd at Suzanne's Everything is Coming Up Roses Facebook Party. (Did you know The Search takes place on a rose farm?)



Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter



Facebook Party:


Join Suzanne for the Everything is Coming Up Roses Facebook Party on February 3rd! She’ll be announcing the winner of the The Search iPad Giveaway, hosting a book club discussion of The Search, giving away copies of all three books and HEAPS of other readerly prizes! Including roses delivered to your door for three months for you AND a friend! Be sure to join us on Thursday, February 3rd at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST & 8 EST) at Suzanne’s Author Page.



Reading Challenges 2011, Number 3: Christian Historical Fiction

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm SUCH a fan of historical fiction that I blew this challenge out of the water last year, so I would like to try it again and hopefully read as many or more books in this genre as I read in 2010! I love the blogger who is hosting this challenge and her dedication to the CHF site. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for challenges to sign up for this year, Margaret the hostess is sure to help with any questions that you may have.



Here are the rules as taken from the Christian Historical Fiction site:

1. The goal is to read and promote Christian Historical Fiction by reading at least 24 titles. That is two per month, but anyone who wants to commit to more or less is welcome to join in on the fun. Anyone can join. You do not need a blog to participate (for more details on how to participate without a blog just ask…). Now we have http://chf.creativemadnessmama.com/ to promote discussion.

2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, and other formats are all allowed. As long as the book can by purchased it counts.

3. Feel free to list a proposed lists of TBR (to-be-reads) but you can also list them as you go.

4. Duplicates from other reading challenges can also count.

5. Challenge begins January 1st through December 31st. Books started before count. *wink*

Participants: Sign up HERE!

If a lot of you show interest in the challenge it may lead to GIVEAWAYS so tell your friends and sign up @ the link above!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Caroline's Choice (Winds Across the Prairie, Book 4) by Martha Rogers

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:


Caroline’s Choice

Realms (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva Publicity Coordinator, Book Group Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor whose first book in the Winds Across the Prairie series, Becoming Lucy, became an immediate best seller. Morning for Dove (May 2010) is the second book in this series, with Finding Becky (book 3) releasing Fall 2010. Rogers lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381930
ISBN-13: 978-1616381936

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Oklahoma Territory, September 1907


Caroline Frankston’s hands clinched into fists, her breath coming in short spurts. Through the parlor window, she watched life go on in a normal, orderly fashion, but here in

this room her world lay fragmented like shards of broken glass. Each piece cut into her soul, causing pain that she no longer wanted to bear. The bleeding had to stop. “If I don’t leave this town, I’ll never get married.” Caroline Frankston spun around to face her mother. “Barton Creek has no men who interest me, so I would like to move to Oklahoma

City and start a new life there.”


Her mother’s blue eyes flashed with anger. “You’ll do no such thing. You haveresponsibilities here.”


Caroline’s jaw tightened. Mother’s demands only caused more determination. “What responsibilities? Going to luncheons and meetings with you and sitting around listening to you decide what people should do?”


The rigid set of Mother’s mouth warned Caroline to be careful with her next words. Now was the time to stand firm and not back down. “I know you want what’s best for me, and

right now a move seems to be it.”


Mother remained silent, a vein in her neck throbbing in response to the tension in her jaw. A mixture of anger and disbelief sparked from her eyes. She stood tall, with her back

ramrod straight. Mother wouldn’t back down.


Envy for her brother’s freedom gnawed at Caroline. Being male, Rob could pick and choose what he wanted to do, and he’d proved it with his law office and his marriage to Becky last year despite Mother’s disapproval.


Without waiting for a response, Caroline headed for the door, but not without one last comment. “I’m sorry. I’ll be twenty-seven soon, and if I don’t do something now, I never

will. I don’t want to be stuck here as spinster with time on her hands and no purpose in life.”


She darted from the room and up the stairs before her mother could react and spew forth a torrent of words to thwart Caroline’s plan. Recently a college friend had written to her of the job openings at the new Carnegie library in Oklahoma City and invited her to come live with her in her town house with another roommate. Caroline had just told her mother she wanted to apply for the job and move to the city. This evening she would break the news to her father.


Standing in front of the mirror on her bureau, Caroline picked up a stylish blue hat and pinned it on her upswept hair. Although she did love the hat, it had been chosen by her mother, as had most of the clothes in Caroline’s wardrobe. In Oklahoma City she could set her own standards and not be dictated to by her mother.


Some of Mother’s ideas and beliefs about fashions and social protocol left Caroline with the feeling that no one could measure up to what the mayor’s wife expected, not even her

own daughter. Being the daughter of the mayor had its advantages, but now they hindered her and kept her from pursuing other avenues of interest.


She gathered up her reticule. Time had come for a visit with her sister-in-law to seek her advice. After all, Becky had once pursued a newspaper career without thought of marriage. She could tell Caroline what it was like to be a single, working-woman on her own.


But deep in her heart the real reason she wanted to see Becky lay hidden. Maybe Becky would have some insight into why her brother, Matt, had been so distant the past year. Of course Mother was delighted with that turn of events, but Caroline was deeply hurt and at a loss as to how to reach out to her old friend.


She glanced around the room that had been hers since her family’s arrival in Barton Creek seventeen years ago. She’d miss it, but the idea of being on her own filled her with excitement. She raced down the stairs and headed for the front door to avoid another confrontation with her mother. When her voice called out from the parlor, Caroline pretended not to hear and closed the door behind her.


She walked toward town, her feet disturbing the fallen leaves and making them swirl about her feet. Late September should bring cooler air to match the changing of the colors in the trees, but not this year. Caroline wished she’d worn a lighter weight shirtwaist and a less heavy skirt, but Mother had insisted on storing all summer clothes away for the fall season. At the next corner she turned onto Main Street, thankful she lived such a short distance from town.


A few more motorcars dotted the streets, which were now completely bricked. As mayor, her father planned to replace the boardwalks where people now strolled in front of business establishments with real sidewalks. She walked past the post office, the jail, and several other stores and shops before reaching the newspaper offices.


The odor of printer’s ink greeted her nose as Caroline stepped through the doorway of the Barton Creek newspaper building. The bell over the door jangled and caused everyone but Becky to look up to see who had come in. The staff on the paper had certainly grown since Mr. Lansdowne made the paper available seven days a week. Becky sat at her desk behind the railing separating the office space from the entryway, staring at whatever was in the typewriter before her.


One of the young men jumped up from his chair. “How can I help you, Miss Frankston?” Caroline smiled and nodded toward Becky. “I’m here to see Mrs. Frankston.”


Becky glanced up then. “Oh, my, I was so engrossed in my story that I didn’t hear the bell.” She strode over to the gate in the railing. “What brings you here today?”


“I wanted to talk with you if you have time, but I can see you’re busy, so I’ll come back later.”


Becky pushed through the gate. “No, no, it’s fine. I think I’m in need of a break about now.” She turned to the young woman across the room. “Amy, would you tell Mr. Lansdowne I’m taking a break and will be back shortly? I’ll stop at the bakery and bring back pastries. He’ll like that.”


“Of course, Rebecca. Have a nice visit.” The young clerk returned to the business on her desk.


Caroline admired Becky’s attire. She wore the plainest of skirts and shirtwaists but made them come alive with fashion even though the signs of her coming motherhood were evident. Caroline would have been called a “Plain Jane” if she wore the same. Something about her sister-in-law gave life to whatever she touched or wore, one trait Caroline sorely envied.


Becky linked arms with Caroline. “Now, let’s head to Peterson’s for tea and cookies.”


When they stepped out onto the boardwalk, Becky breathed deeply. “Isn’t it a beautiful day? Although it’s too warm for me, I love this time of year.”


“I like it too,” Caroline responded, although at the moment all she could sense was the stench of horse droppings and the fine layer of dust and dirt over everything. She glanced at the woman beside her. “So, you’re still going by Rebecca at the office?”


“Yes. That’s my byline on all my articles, so they all call me Rebecca.” Besides reporting on town events, Becky wrote a column for women in the Barton Creek Chronicle each week to inform them of the opportunities and advantages of voting for their government leaders.


Caroline laughed. “But you’ll always be Becky to the rest of us.”


Becky returned the laugh, but hers had a musical quality that had earned the friendship of most of the people here in her hometown. “I don’t mind it at all now. Rob convinced me I could be both, and he was right.” She glanced up toward the windows of her husband’s law offices.


At least Becky and Rob had rediscovered the love they’d had for each other as youths, and now they were as happy as any married couple Caroline had seen. Mother hadn’t been too pleased with her son marrying a Haynes, and even now that Ben Haynes headed one of the wealthiest ranches in the area, her attitude hadn’t changed, especially since Becky chose to continue her job at the newspaper after learning a child was on the way. To Mother, Becky would always be a cowgirl.


When they had entered the bakery and ordered their tea and pastry, Caroline chose a table away from the window so they would have more privacy.


“So what is it that you want to talk with me about?” Becky unwrapped her pastry and pinched off a small piece.


Caroline stirred her tea and grinned. “I’m moving to Oklahoma City. My roommate at college, Madeline Barrows, has invited me to come live with her, and I have a good chance at a job at a library there.”


Becky dropped her pastry, spreading crumbs in its wake. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the bits off the table. “You’re doing what? Leaving Barton Creek? But what does your family say?”


“Mother is completely against it, and by now she’s probably let Father know, and I don’t know what he’ll say. It really doesn’t matter because my mind is made up.”


“But what about Matt? Have you told him?”


Caroline dipped her head and concentrated on stirring her tea. “You know how much I care about Matt, but over the last few years his interest in me has dimmed. He’s barely spoken to me since we ate together at the July Fourth celebration. I don’t know what else to do.”


Becky leaned forward. “I can’t tell you much since I don’t see him very often anymore. He’s been quiet and withdrawn the Sundays we go out to the ranch for the family dinner. When we were younger, we enjoyed doing lots of things together, but that changed when I came home from college. And since I’ve married Rob, he’s been much less open with me.”


They sat in silence for a moment. Caroline’s heart ached with the image of Matt sitting astride his great stallion and riding across the range. She bit her lip and leaned toward Becky. “I–I can’t bear the thought of being a spinster, and there’s no one here in Barton Creek except Matt I would consider as a husband. More opportunities to meet young men are available in the city. Many of my college friends stayed in the city, and I’ve been writing to several of them, and with Madeline’s invita tion, the time seems right. Although I care for Matt, I can’t wait for him forever.”


Becky blinked and shook her head. “I used to think my brother was working hard to establish himself before he took on the responsibilities of a wife and a family. But now that the ranch is doing so well, I don’t understand is why he hasn’t been more willing to call on you. I remember how you two were always together for every social event that came along before you went off to school. I guess I always thought you’d be his wife when he finally made up his mind it was time to marry.”


“That’s just it. I did too, but I’ve waited a long time for him to make up his mind.” And they had been the longest years of her life. Now the time had come to look to the future and her life ahead before it passed her by completely. She turned to Becky and sat up straighter. “Now, tell me everything you know about going out on your own as a working woman!”


Matt removed his hat and wiped sweat from his brow with a bandanna. Fall may have been the season, but the air definitely spoke of summer. Late September usually brought cooler temperatures, but not this year. He stuffed the kerchief in his pocket and jammed the hat back on his head. Time to round up a few more strays.


He waved to Hank and headed toward the west pasture. The ranch hand rode up to join him. “You think some of the herd made their way out to Dawson land?”


“Yeah, they’ve done it before. Good thing those fences are around the oil rigs.” Ever since the wells started producing, the noise of the pumps attracted whatever livestock meandered that way. He usually found around half a dozen or so head lined up at the fence staring at the work going on.


Hank tilted his hat back on his head. “I know that parcel of land wasn’t any good for farming and such, but rigs sure are ugly despite the oil they’re pumping.”


“That’s what worried Pa the most, but since it’s away from everything and can’t be seen from the house, he decided it was better to go ahead with Geoff’s recommendations. So far that’s been a good decision.” Geoff Kensington had kept his word, and Barstow’s Oil did everything Pa had requested. The first money from the oil deposits had surprised even Pa and Sam Morris. The two had put the money into a trust for the future after sending the original landowner his share.


“Your pa is a good businessman. I’ve admired him for many years. Remember how he took me in along with Jake and treated us like part of the family?”


“Yes, that’s the way Pa was and still is.” Matt loved his father even more for his treatment of other folks. If he hadn’t believed in Jake, the young man would never have become a Christian and found out that the killing he’d been involved with in Texas was ruled self-defense. That cowboy might still be running from the law instead marrying Lucy and owning his own ranch.


Hank slowed his horse. “You know, I’ve been thinking. I’m not getting any younger, and the idea of settling down with a wife has its appeal. That young woman, Amy, who works with Becky agreed to let me be her escort for the church singing next week. You ought to ask Miss Caroline to it.”


Matt cast a sideways glance at his partner. “You’re a lucky man. Amy Garson is a pretty young woman.”


Hank laughed and shook his head. “Matt Haynes, you’re stalling me. What about Miss Caroline?”


Matt didn’t respond, but his mind filled with the image of Caroline Frankston. He did love her at one time, but she had chosen a life far different from his. Just as he was about to ask her to be his wife, she’d announced she was going off to college. He remembered the day like it was yesterday. She’d been so excited when she showed him the brochures with all the information. She planned to major in fine arts and languages. Those were two things he knew nothing about.


“Matt, you hafta talk to her and let her know how you feel. I seen your eyes when we’re in town and she’s around. You can’t look nowhere else.”


“She’s busy with her own life. Attending luncheons and meetings with her ma and doing all those things on committees and such. She has no time for me or for life on a ranch.” Besides, the more he thought about it, the more he realized one Haynes married to a Frankston was almost one too many. Becky could handle the mayor’s wife, but the idea of Charlotte Frankston as a mother-in-law didn’t appeal to him at all. And if Caroline

really cared, she wouldn’t have run off to college when she did.


As though reading his mind, Hank offered his opinion. “It’s that Mrs. Frankston, isn’t it? She is rather formidable, but if you married Caroline and brought her out here to the ranch, you wouldn’t have to deal with her mother that much.”


Matt narrowed his eyes and worked his mouth. It wasn’t anybody’s business what he thought of Mrs. Frankston. He may be considered a coward for not facing up to her, but it was his decision to make.


“Matt, I think you’re missing out on what life has for you if you let one woman ruin your feelings for another. If you really love Caroline, her mother wouldn’t make any difference.”


“That’s easy for you to say. Have you forgotten how Mrs. Frankston treated Ma and Aunt Clara when everyone thought Jake was a murderer? Then look at how she hurt Emily Morris and Dove. That woman is rude and has no respect for anyone not of her own standing, but she’s not the only reason, and it’s best to keep your opinion to yourself.”


“I understand, and I do remember those days, but I also remember Mrs. Anderson and how her heart changed. She was as mean as Mrs. Frankston toward Mrs. Morris and Dove until that prairie fire almost destroyed us all.”


“True, but I don’t see anything like that in the future to change Mrs. Frankston.” Matt flicked his reins and spurred his horse. “Let’s go hunt for strays. That’s why we’re out here.”


His love life was nobody else’s business but his. And as much as he was attracted to Caroline, he didn’t care to saddle himself for the rest of his life with a cantankerous mother-in-law like Charlotte Frankston.


My Review:
Our heroine Caroline is a librarian (dream job!) and the mayor's daughter while Matt is a humble rancher. Caroline comes off as very likable and realistic but I felt as if I didn't know Matt enough. I know these characters through the other books in the series but for anyone who just happened upon this book without having read the other three might not feel the connection to the hero that they should.

However as the fourth book in the Winds Across the Prairie series I'm very pleased at how this story ended and how it wrapped up nicely for all the characters we met in the previous three books. As a fan of almost all types of fiction I've come to expect great stories from today's newest faces and I'm so glad to say that Martha Rogers is a great author to add to your to read lists. While not the most action-packed or exciting books to read this series this book and the others in the series have great faith messages like forgiveness along with subtle romantic elements. I will say if you're looking for the edgy stuff that's become so popular and which I love you won't find it in this series. If you're a fan of the Janette Oke and Beverly Lewis type romances you are in for a real treat!