FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + Review: Threads of Hope (Fabric of Time, Book 1) by Andrea Boeshaar

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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:


Realms (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach; a popular speaker at writers’ conferences, workshops, and women’s groups; and the author of numerous published books, including the Seasons of Redemption series: Unwilling Warrior, Uncertain Heart, Unexpected Love, and Undaunted Faith.



Visit the author's website.






SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Kristin Eikaas has her hopes set on a new life in America.



The year is 1848, and Kristin Eikaas has traveled from Norway to Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. But when she arrives, she finds one disappointment after another. Worse, her superstitious uncle now believes that his neighbor’s Oneida Indian wife has put a curse on Kristin. Everyone knows the Sundbergs put spells on people…



Everyone except Kristin. Her run-ins with Sam Sundberg only prove that he is a good man from a Christian family. But when her uncle discovers she’s been associating with Sam, his temper flares. To escape his wrath, Kristin gratefully accepts a job as the Sundbergs’ house girl, finding solace at the family’s spinning wheel.



In the time Sam and Kristin spend together, their friendship develops into much more, and Sam prays about a match between them. But opposition threatens to derail their newfound love. Will they have the courage to stand up for what is right—even against their own families?





Product Details:



  • List Price: $13.99
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616384972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616384975






    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







    September 1848

    It looks like Norway.

    The thought flittered across nineteen-year-old Kristin Eikaas’s mind as Uncle Lars’s wagon bumped along the dirt road. The docks of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were behind them, and now they rode through a wooded area that looked just as enchanting as the forests she’d left in Norway. Tall pine trees and giant firs caused the sunshine to dapple on the road. Kristin breathed in the sweet, fresh air. How refreshing it felt in her lungs after being at sea for nearly three months and breathing in only salty sea air or the stale air in her dark, crowded cabin.

    A clearing suddenly came into view, and a minute or so later, Kristin eyed the farm fields stretched before her. The sight caused an ache of homesickness. Her poppa had farmed . . .

    “Your trip to America was good, ja?” Uncle Lars asked in Norwegian, giving Kristin a sideways glance.

    He resembled her father so much that her heart twisted painfully with renewed grief. Except she’d heard about Onkel—about his temper—how he had to leave Norway when he was barely of age, because, Poppa had said, trouble followed him.

    But surely he’d grown past all of that. His letters held words of promise, and there was little doubt that her uncle had made a new life for himself here in America.

    Just as she would.

    Visions of a storefront scampered across her mind’s eye—a shop in which she could sell her finely crocheted and knitted items. A shop in which she could work the spinning wheel, just as Mor had . . .

    Uncle Lars arched a brow. “You are tired, liten niese?”

    Ja. It was a long journey.” Kristin sent him a sideways glance.

    “I am grateful I did not come alone. The Olstads made good traveling companions.”

    Her uncle cleared his throat and lowered his voice. “But you have brought my inheritance, ja?” He arched a brow.

    Ja.” Kristin thought of the priceless possession she’d brought from Norway.

    “And you would not hold out on your onkel, would you?”

    Prickles of unease caused Kristin to shift in her seat. She resisted the urge to touch the tiny gold and silver cross pendent suspended from a dainty chain that hung around her neck. Her dress concealed it. She couldn’t give it up, even though it wasn’t legal for a woman to inherit anything in Norway. But the necklace had been her last gift from Mor. A gift from one’s mother wasn’t an inheritance . . . was it? “No, Onkel.”

    She turned and peered down from her perch into the back of the wooden wagon bed. Peder Olstad smiled at her, and Kristin relaxed some. Just a year older, he was the brother of Kristin’s very best friend who had remained in Norway with their mother. She and Peder had grown up together, and while he could be annoying and bad tempered at times, he was the closest thing to a brother that she had. And Sylvia—Sylvia was closer than a sister ever could be. It wouldn’t be long, and she and Mrs. Olstad would come to America too. That would be a

    happy day!

    “You were right,” John Olstad called to Uncle Lars in their native tongue. “Lots of fertile land in this part of the country. I hope to purchase some acres soon.”

    “And after you are a landowner for five years, you can be a citizen of America and you can vote.” The Olstad men smiled broadly and replied in unison. “Oh, jaja . . . ”

    Uncle Lars grinned, causing dozens of wrinkles to appear around his blue eyes. His face was tanned from farming beneath the hot sun, and his tattered leather hat barely concealed the abundance of platinum curls growing out of his large head. “Oh, ja, this is very good land. I am glad I persuaded Esther to leave the Muskego settlement and move northeast. But, as you will soon see, we are still getting settled.”

    Ja, how’s that, Lars?”

    Kristin heard the note of curiosity in Mr. Olstad’s voice.

    “I purchased the land and built a barn and a cabin.” He paused and gave a derisive snort. “Well, a fine home takes time and money.”

    “Oh, ja, that way.” Mr. Olstad seemed to understand.

    And Kristin did too. One couldn’t expect enormous comforts out in the Wisconsin wilderness.

    Just then they passed a stately home situated on the Fox River. Two quaint dormers peered from the angled roof, which appeared to be supported by a pair of white pillars.

    “That is Mr. Morgan Martin’s home. He is a lawyer in town.”

    Uncle Lars delivered the rest of his explanation with a sneer. “And an Indian agent.”

    “Indians?” Kristin’s hand flew to her throat.

    “Do not fret. The soldiers across the river at Fort Howard protect the area.”

    Kristin forced her taut muscles to relax.

    “Out here the deer are plentiful and fishing is good. Fine lumber up here too. But the Norwegian population is small. Nevertheless, we have our own church, and the reverend speaks our language.”

    “A good thing,” Mr. Olstad remarked.

    “I cannot wait for the day when Far owns land,” Peder said, glancing at Mr. Olstad. “Lots of land.” The warm wind blew his auburn hair outward from his narrow face, and his hazel eyes sparked with enthusiasm, giving the young man a somewhat wild appearance. “But no farming for me. I want to be rich someday.”

    “As do we all!” exclaimed Mr. Olstad, whose appearance was an older, worn-out version of his son’s.

    Kristin’s mind had parked on land ownership. “And once you are settled, Sylvia will come to America. I cannot wait. I miss her so much.”

    She grappled with a fresh onset of tears. Not only was Sylvia her best friend, but she and the entire Olstad clan had also become like family to her ever since a smallpox epidemic ravaged their little village two years ago, claiming the lives of Kristin’s parents and two younger brothers. When Uncle Lars had learned of the tragic news, he offered her a place to stay in his home if she came to America. Onkel wrote that she should be with her family, so Kristin had agreed to make the voyage. Her plans to leave Norway had encouraged the Olstads to do

    the same. But raising the funds to travel took time and much hard work. While the Olstads scrimped and saved up their crop earnings, Kristin did spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing for those with money to spare. By God’s grace, they were finally here.

    Uncle Lars steered the wagon around a sharp bend in the rutty road. He drove to the top of a small hill, and Kristin could see the blue Lake Michigan to her left and farm fields to her right.

    Then a lovely white wood-framed house came into view. It didn’t look all that different from the home they’d just past, with dormers, a covered front porch, and stately pillars bearing the load of a wide overhang. She marveled at the homestead’s large, well-maintained barn and several outbuildings. American homes looked like this? Then no wonder Mr. Olstad couldn’t wait to own his own farm!

    Up ahead Kristin spied a lone figure of a man. She could just barely make out his faded blue cambric shirt, tan trousers, and the hoe in his hands as he worked the edge of the field. Closer still, she saw his light brown hair springing out from beneath his hat. As the wagon rolled past him, the man ceased his labor and turned their way. Although she couldn’t see his eyes as he squinted into the sunshine, Kristin did catch sight of his tanned face. She guessed his age to be not too much more than hers and decided he was really quite handsome.

    “Do not even acknowledge the likes of him,” Uncle Lars spat derisively. “Good Christians do not associate with Sam Sundberg or any members of his family.”

    Oh, dear, too late! Kristin had already given him a little smile out of sheer politeness. She had assumed he was a friend or neighbor. But at her uncle’s warning she quickly lowered her gaze.

    Kristin’s ever-inquiring nature got the best of her. “What is so bad about that family?”

    “They are evil—like the Martins. Even worse, Karl Sundberg is married to a heathen Indian woman who casts spells on the good people of this community.”

    “Spells?” Peder’s eyes widened.

    Ja, spells. Why else would some folks’ crops fail while Karl’s flourish? He gets richer and richer with his farming in the summer, his logging camps in the winter, and his fur trading with heathens, while good folks like me fall on hard times.”

    “Hard times?” Peder echoed the words.

    Ja, same seed. Same fertile ground. Same golden opportunity.”

    Uncle Lars swiveled to face the Olstads. “I will tell you why that happens. The Sundbergs have hexed good Christians like me.” He wagged his head. “Oh, they are an evil lot, those Sundbergs and Martins. Same as the Indians.”

    Indians? Curiosity got the better of her, and Kristin swung around in the wagon to get one last glimpse of Sam Sundberg. She could hardly believe he was as awful as her uncle described. Why, he even removed his hat just now and gave her a cordial nod.

    “Turn around, niese, and mind your manners!” Uncle Lars’s large hand gripped her upper arm and he gave her a mild shake.

    “I . . . I am sorry, Onkel,” Kristin stammered. “But I have never seen an Indian.”

    “Sam Sundberg is not an Indian. It is his father’s second wife and their children. Oneida half-breeds is what we call them.”

    “Half-breed, eh?”

    Kristin glanced over her shoulder and saw Peder stroke his chin.

    “Interesting,” he added.

    “How very interesting.” Kristin couldn’t deny her interest was piqued. “Are there many Indians living in the Wisconsin Territory?”

    Ja, they trespass on my land, but I show my gun and they leave without incident. Sundberg brings his Indian wife to church.” He wagged his head. “Such a disgrace.”

    “And the Territory officials do nothing?” Mr. Olstad asked.

    Uncle Lars puffed out his chest. “As of three months ago, we are the State of Wisconsin—no longer a territory.” Uncle Lars stated the latter with as much enthusiasm as a stern schoolmaster. “Now the government will get rid of those savages once and for all.” He sent Kristin a scowl. “And you, my liten niese, will do well to stay away from Indians. All of them, including our neighbors, the Sundbergs. You hear, lest you get yourself scalped.”

    Ja, Onkel.”

    With a measure of alarm, Kristin touched her braided hair and chanced a look at Peder and Mr. Olstad. Both pairs of wide eyes seemed to warn her to heed Uncle Lars’s instructions. She would, of course. But somehow she couldn’t imagine the man they’d just passed doing her any harm. Would he?



    Sam Sundberg wiped the beads of perspiration off his brow before dropping his hat back on his head. Who was the little blonde riding next to Lars Eikaas? Sam hadn’t seen her before. And the men in the wagon bed . . . he’d never seen them either.

    After a moment’s deliberation he concluded they were the expected arrivals from the “Old Country.”  Months ago Sam recalled hearing talk in town about Lars’s orphaned niece sailing to America with friends of the family, so he assumed the two red-haired men and the young lady were the topics of that particular conversation. But wouldn’t it just serve Mr. Eikaas right if that blonde angel turned his household upside down—or, maybe, right-side up?

    He smirked at the very idea. Sam didn’t have to meet that young lady to guess Mr. Eikaas would likely have his hands full. Her second backward glance said all Sam needed to know.

    The word plucky sprang into his mind. He chuckled. Plucky she

    seemed, indeed.

    But was she wise enough not to believe everything her uncle said?

    Sam thought it a real shame. Years ago Pa and Lars Eikaas had been friends. But then Pa’s silver went missing, insults were traded, and the Eikaases’ prejudice against Ma, Jackson, and Mary kept the feud alive.

    The Eikaas wagon rolled out of sight, leaving brown clouds of dust in its wake. A grin threatened as Sam thought again of that plucky blonde’s curious expression. Maybe she did have a mind of her own. Now wouldn’t that be something? Sam thanked God that not everyone around here was as intolerant of Wisconsin Natives as the Eikaas family. There were those who actually befriended the Indians and stood up to government officials in their stead. Like Pa, for instance. Like Sam himself.

    The blistering sun beat down on him. Removing his hat once more, he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He started pondering the latest government proposal to remove the Indians from their land. First the Oneida tribe had been forced out, and soon the Menominee band would be “removed” and “civilized.” As bad as that was, it irked Sam more to think about how the government figured it knew best for the Indians. Government plans hadn’t succeeded in the past, so why would they now? Something else had to be done. Relocating the Menominee would cause those people nothing but misery. They’d stated as much themselves. Furthermore, the Indians, led by Chief Oshkosh, were determined not to give up their last tract of land. Sam predicted this current government proposal would only serve to stir up more violence between Indians and whites.

    But not if he and Pa could help it.

    In the distance he heard the clang of the dinner bell. Ma didn’t like him to tarry when food was on the table. Across the beet field, Sam saw his younger brother run on ahead of him. He wagged his head at the twelve-year-old and his voracious appetite.

    With one calloused hand gripping the hoe and the other holding the bushel basket, Sam trudged toward their white clapboard home. Its two dormers protruded proudly from the second floor.

    Entering the mudroom, he fetched cold water from the inside well, peeled off his hat, and quickly washed up. Next he donned a fresh shirt. Ma insisted upon cleanliness at the supper table. Finally presentable, he made his way into the basement where the summer kitchen and a small eating area were located. The cool air met his sun-stoked skin and Sam sighed, appreciating the noonday respite.

    Next he noticed a cake in the middle of the table.

    “That looks good enough to eat,” he teased, resisting the urge to steal a finger-full of white frosting.

    Ma gave him a smile, and her nut-brown eyes darkened as she set the wooden tureen of turkey and wild rice onto the table. “Since it’s Rachel’s last day with us, I thought I would prepare an extra special dessert.”

    Sam glanced across the table at the glowing bride-to-be. In less than twenty-four hours Rachel Decker would become Mrs. Luke Smith. But for the remainder of today she’d fulfill her duties as Ma’s hired house girl who helped with the cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing, and ironing whenever Ma came down with one of her episodes, which were sometimes so intensely painful that Ma couldn’t get out of bed without help. Rachel had been both a comfort and an efficient assistant to Ma.

    “I helped bake the cake, Sam.”

    He grinned at his ten-year-old sister, Mary. “Good job.”

    They all sat down, Mary taking her seat beside Rachel. Sam helped his mother into her place at the head of the table then lowered himself into his chair next to Jackson, who’d been named after Major General Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of this great country.

    “Sam, since your father is away,” Ma began, “will you please ask God’s blessing on our food?”

    “Be glad to.” He bowed his head. “Dearest Lord, we thank Thee for Thy provisions. Strengthen and nourish us with this meal so we may glorify Thee with our labors. In Jesus’s name, amen.”

    Action ensued all around the table. The women served themselves and then between Sam and Jack, they scraped the bowl clean.

    “Good thing Pa’s not home from his meetings in town,” Jack muttered with a crooked grin.

    “If your father were home,” Ma retorted, “I would have made more food.”

    “Should have made more anyhow.” Jack gave her a teasing grin. “No seconds.” He clanged the bowl and spoon together as if to prove his point.

    “You have seconds on your plate already,” Ma said. “Why, I have never seen anyone consume as much food as you do, Jackson.”

    His smile broadened. “I’m growing. Soon I’ll be taller than Sam.”

    “Brotherly competition.” Sam had to chuckle. But in the next moment, he wondered if his family behaved oddly. Didn’t all families enjoy meals together? Tease and laugh together? Tell stories once the sun went down? According to Rachel, they didn’t. The ebony-haired, dark-eyed young woman had grown up without a mother and had a drunkard for a father . . . until Ma got wind of the situation and took her in. She invited Rachel to stay in the small room adjacent to the kitchen and offered her a job. Rachel had accepted. And now, years later, Rachel would soon marry a fine man, Luke Smith, a friend of Sam’s. 

    Taking a bite of his meal, he chewed and looked across the table at Mary. Both she and Jack resembled their mother, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and graceful, willowy frames, while Sam took after his father, blue eyes and stocky build, measuring just under six feet. Yet, in spite of the outward dissimilarities, the five Sundbergs were a closely knit family, and Sam felt grateful that he’d known nothing but happiness throughout

    his childhood. He had no recollection whatsoever of his biological mother who had taken ill and died during the voyage from Norway to America.

    Sam had been but a toddler when she went home to be with the Lord, and soon after disembarking in New York, his father met another Norwegian couple. They helped care for Sam and eventually persuaded Pa to take his young son and move with them to Wisconsin, known back then as part of the “Michigan Territory.” Pa seized the opportunity, believing the promises that westward expansion touted, and he was not disappointed.

    He learned to plant, trap, and trade with the Indians, and he became a successful businessman. In time, he saved enough funds to make his dreams of owning land and farming a reality.

    Then, when Sam was a boy of eight years, his father met and married Mariah, an Oneida. Like her, many Oneida were Christians and fairly well educated due to the missionaries who had lived among them. In time Sam took to his new mother, and she to him. Through the years Ma cherished and admonished him as though he were her own son. She learned the Norwegian language and could speak it fluently. As far as Sam was concerned, he was her own son—and Mariah, his own mother.

    They were a family.

    “Was that the Eikaas wagon driving by not long ago?” Mary asked.

    Sam snapped from his musing. “Sure was. It appears they have relatives in town.”

    “Mr. Eikaas didn’t stop and visit, did he?” Mary’s eyes were as round as gingersnaps.

    Sam chuckled. “No, of course not. I can’t recall the last time Lars Eikaas spoke to me . . . or any of the Sundbergs, for that matter.”

    “Erik is nice to me at school.” Mary took a bite of her meal.

    “Glad to hear it.”

    “I can’t wait to begin school next week.”

    Sam grinned at his sister’s enthusiasm. He’d felt the same way as a boy.

    “Sam, what made you assume Mr. Eikaas transported relatives in his wagon today?”

    He glanced at Ma. “A while back I’d heard that Lars’s niece was coming to America, accompanied by friends, and since I didn’t recognize the three passengers in the wagon this morning, I drew my own conclusions.”

    “Is she pretty?” Jackson’s cheeks bulged with food.

    “Is who pretty?”

    “Mr. Eikaas’s niece . . . is she pretty?”

    Sam recalled the plucky blonde whose large, cornflower-blue eyes looked back at him with interest from beneath her bonnet. And pretty? As much as Sam hated to admit it, she was about the prettiest young lady he’d ever set eyes on.

    Jackson elbowed him. “Hey, I asked you a question.”

    Sam gave his younger brother an annoyed look. “Yeah, I s’pose she’s pretty. But don’t go getting any big ideas about me courting her. She’s an Eikaas.”

    “You’re awful old to not be married yet.” Jack rolled his dark eyes.

    “What do you know about it? I’m only twenty-one.” Sam grinned. “Hush up and eat.” It’s what the boy did best. “So . . . did everyone have a pleasant morning?” He forked another bite of food into his mouth, wondering why he tried so hard to shift the subject off of Lars Eikaas’s niece.



    Kristin looked around the one-room shanty with its unhewn walls and narrow, bowed loft. Cotton squares of material covered the windows, making the heat inside nearly unbearable. 

    Disappointment riddled her being like buckshot. Although she knew she should feel grateful for journeying safely this far, and now to have a roof over her head, she couldn’t seem to shake her displeasure at seeing her relatives’ living quarters. It looked nothing like her uncle had described in his letters nor the homes she’d glimpsed on the way.

    “Here is your trunk of belongings,” Uncle Lars said, carrying the wooden chest in on one of his broad shoulders. With a grunt, he set it down in the far corner of the cabin. “Where is my inheritance? Let me have a look at it.”

    “Right now, Onkel?”

    Ja, ja . . .” Impatience filled his tone.

    Pulling open the drawstring of her leather purse, she reached inside and extracted the key. She unlocked the trunk and opened its curved lid. Getting onto her knees, Kristin moved aside her clothes and extra shoes until she found what she searched for. Poppa’s gold watch. She held the black velvet-covered box reverently in her hands for one last, long moment before she stood and presented it to her uncle.

    “This belonged to my poppa.”

    “Ah . . .” Uncle Lars’s face lit up with delight as he opened the box. Looking to Aunt Esther, he nodded. “This will bring a fair price, do you think?”

    Disbelief poured over her. “But . . . you would not sell Poppa’s watch, would you?”

    “None of your business!”

    Kristin jumped back at the biting reply. Her opinion of her uncle dropped like a rock into a cavern.

    “Anything more?” Her uncle bent over the wooden chest and quickly rummaged through it, spilling clothes onto the unswept floor.

    Onkel, please, stop. My garments . . .”

    “Does not seem to be anything else.” Uncle Lars narrowed his gaze. “Is there?”

    “No.” The necklace Mor had given her burned against her already perspiring skin. Still, Kristin refused to part with the gift. “Nothing more. As you know, Poppa was a farmer. He supplemented his income by working at the post office, but no money was ever saved. After my parents died, I sold everything to help pay for a portion of my passage to America. I earned the rest myself.”

    “Any money left?”

    Kristin shook her head as she picked up the last of her belongings, careful not to meet her uncle’s stare. A little money remained in the special pocket she’d sewn into her petticoat. For safety, she’d kept her funds on her person throughout the entire voyage. The last of her coinage would purchase muchneeded undergarments. She’d managed to save it throughout the journey for the specific purpose of buying new foundations when she reached America. It wasn’t inherited. She’d worked hard for it.

    With a grunt Uncle Lars turned and sauntered out of the cabin.

    “You will sleep in the loft with your cousins.” Aunt Esther’s tone left no room for questions or argument. Wearing a plain, brown dress with a tan apron pinned to its front, and with her dark brown hair tightly pinned into a bun, the older woman looked as drab as her surroundings. “Your uncle and I sleep on a pallet by the hearth.”

    “Yes, Tante. I am sure I will be very comfortable.” Another lie.

    “Come, let us eat.” Aunt Esther walked toward the hearth where a heavy black kettle sat on top of a low-burning fire. “There is venison stew for our meal.”

    “It sounds delicious.” Kristin’s stomach growled in anticipation. She’d eaten very little on the ship this morning. Excitement plus the waves on Lake Michigan made eating impossible. But after disembarking in Green Bay, her stomach began to settle, and now she was famished.

    Aunt Esther called everyone to the table, which occupied an entire corner of the cabin. Her three children, two girls and one boy, ranging in ages from seven to sixteen, came in from outside, as did the Olstads. After a wooden bowl filled with stew was set before each person, the family clasped hands and recited a standard Norwegian prayer . . .

    I Jesu navn gar vi til bords,—We sit down in the name of Jesus,

    Spise drikke pa ditt ord,—To eat and drink according to Your

    Word,

    Deg Gud til are, oss til gavn,—To Your honor, Oh Lord, and

    for our benefit,

    Sa far vi mat i Jesu navn.—We receive food in the name of

    Jesus.

    Amen.

    Having said grace, hands were released, and everyone picked up a spoon and began to eat. Kristin noticed her cousins, Inga and Anna, eyeing her with interest. They resembled their father, blonde curls and blue eyes.

    “What do you like to do on sunny afternoons such as this one?” she asked cheerfully, hoping to start conversation. After all, Inga’s age was close to hers. Perhaps her cousin would help her meet friends.

    “We do not talk at the table,” Aunt Esther informed her. “We eat, not talk.”

    “Yes, Tante.” Kristin glanced at Peder and Mr. Olstad who replied with noncommittal shrugs and kept eating.

    Silently, Kristin did the same. The Olstads always had lively discussions around their table.

    When the meal ended, the girls cleared the table and the men took young Erik and ambled outside.

    “May I help with cleaning up?” Kristin asked her aunt.

    “No. You rest today and regain your strength. Tomorrow we are invited to a wedding, the day after is the Sabbath. Then beginning on Monday, you will labor from sunup to sunset like everyone else in this place.”

    “Except for one,” Inga quipped. No one but Kristin heard.

    “Who?” Her lips moved, although she didn’t utter a sound.

    Far, that is who.” Disrespect seeped from Inga’s tone, which was loud and clear.

    Hadn’t Aunt Esther overheard it?

    Tante suddenly whirled around and glared at Kristin. “Do something with yourself. We are working here.”

    With a frown, Kristin backed away. Her aunt’s brusque manner caused her to feel weary and more homesick than

    ever. She missed her parents and her little brothers. Why did God take them, leaving her to live life without them? And Sylvia . . . how she longed for her best friend!

    Kristin knelt by the trunk and carefully lifted out a soft, knitted shawl that had once belonged to her mother, Lydia Eikaas. Mor had been an excellent seamstress, expert in spinning wool into yarn and thread, as well as in weaving and sewing garments. She’d taught Kristin everything she knew about the craft. Surely Kristin could now put her skills to good use in this new country, this land of opportunity.

    She sighed and glanced over to where her aunt and two cousins continued straightening up after the meal. Inga and Anna barely smiled, and her aunt’s expression seemed permanently frozen into a frown. Is that what this country really afforded . . . misery?

    Allowing her gaze to wander around the dismal cabin once more, Kristin began to wish she had not come to America.

    My Thoughts:
    Threads of Hope is a sweet tale of a young Norwegian immigrant struggling with family, faith and love. If you're looking for a book with a different setting and characters who are a bit different from traditional American Midwest set fiction you should enjoy this! I love books that feature immigrants making a new life in the United States but lately most stories written today (at least the one's I've read) seem to be set in New York or eastern cities. Threads of Hope is set in Green Bay,Wisconsin, I'm not sure if I've ever read a book set there!

    However interesting the setting was I'm sad to say I was a bit disappointed in the overall story. This is the second book in a new series that I've read this week that left me wanting more. I think it's because the previous series, Seasons of Redemption, was so good that my expectations for this book were too high. I will say this although I wanted to punch a few characters in the face (yes, I'm passionate about my fiction), I was happy that Kristin was no shrinking violet and stood up for herself at all turns. Too often I've read heroines who were supposed to be "strong" but seemed to cower in the face of any kind of challenge. She was quite determined not to be pushed around by anyone including her bully of an uncle.

    If you're looking for a book that features a little bit of everything from Native American relations to a bit of mystery Threads of Hope may just be the book for you. Hopefully the Sundberg family saga will continue and Andrea Boeshaar will have a real "keeper" with Threads of Faith, book two!

    Life at a Frontier Fort: Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Summer of Promise (Westward Winds, Book 1)
    by Amanda Cabot
    Revell Books
    Copyright 2012
    ISBN: 9780800734596
    My Thoughts:
    Out of concern for her eldest sister, Abigail Harding leaves a comfortable life and ventures across the country to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Along the way she encounters danger but is rescued by a fellow stage passenger. Lieutenant Ethan Bowles. Believing that the only good thing at the fort is her sister Charlotte and a precocious pup named Puddles she's anxious to return home to her cozy job and soon to be fiance. Little does she know that the frontier is more than it seems and the people at the fort are much more than gun-toting soldiers.

    In this start to a brand new series Amanda Cabot once again tells an interesting tale of life and love in the West. While not as fast-paced or romance filled as Scattered Petals, Summer of Promise is a good story if for no other reason than being set at a 19th century garrison. It was a little hard to believe that Abigail would drop everything just because her sister seemed "melancholy" in her letters especially in a time when travel wasn't as easy or safe as it is today. I know she is an "impulsive" character but it still didn't make a ton of sense.
    She just had some quirks that annoyed me.

    As for the storyline itself it was good but only a story I'd recommend to historical fiction or romance fans not suspense or mystery readers. While I may not be the sharpest tack in the corkboard I picked up on the killer/robbers/rogue soldiers other than the mysterious "baron" (whose identity will apparently remain a mystery until book two) much too easily. I know, I know this is marketed as romance but still if there are going to be murders and robberies I like to be surprised or have at least a few red herrings thrown in the mix.

    Even though this wasn't my favorite story I still think it was worth the read. The next story definitely has potential and if Westward Winds is anything like Texas Dreams it will get better with each book. I plan on making a point of reading this next story as it will focus more on Charlotte. I hope she gets what she deserves. I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

    ~3 stars~

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

    About the book:
    Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. When her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day.

    Abigail plans to marry when she returns to Vermont, just as soon as she attends to her sister. As the summer passes, she finds herself drawn to this rugged land and to a certain soldier determined to persuade her to stay. When summer ends, will she go back East, or will she find her heart's true home?

    To learn more about the author visit her WEBSITE

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



    Crazy Pooch!

    It's been a while since I've posted a cute dog pic so I thought I'd one up it today and post a super cute video that I found. Of course it's a collie but even if you aren't familiar with the breed I think you'll agree that this pup is adorable! I guess all collie's have something quirky about them, the one in the video apparently doesn't like styrofoam cups. My dog Coco doesn't like finger nail clippers, sweepers, pencil sharpeners, the emergency radio scanner, helicopters and the list goes on... Sometimes I really wonder what in the world is going through her head!




    Giveaway (Open to US and CAN. Residents) + Review: Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl
    Copyright 2011
    Chronicle Books
    264 pages
    ISBN: 9780811876254
    About Promise the Night:
    Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. As in her debut novel, Prisoners in the Palace, MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evocative language that brings the backdrop of colonial British East Africa to life. A fascinating read for anyone with a thirst for adventure.

    **To learn more about the book and author visit Michaela's WEBSITE**

    **Order the book on Amazon**

    My Thoughts:
    Books like this are why historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre. Starting out reading this book based on a real-life heroine, horse breaker and airplane pilot Beryl Markham I knew little to nothing about her life and after reading this I want to know more! For me the best novels can take historical events, places or people and make you want to go out and do a little research of your own or at least make a trip to the local library and see what you can dig up the who, what, where, when and why. Promise the Night does that with just enough facts and fun to pique one's interest and make you want more.

    Promise the Night is a perfect story for tweens and teens and ever older folks (*blush*) like me. With a great African setting and a touch of danger and mischief that only kids can rustle up Beryl's story is sure to please guys and gals alike. Beryl is most definitely a precocious girl and you can't help but cheer her on. At times she seems bratty and very rebellious and real so even though this story is set in an exotic locale kids everywhere can relate to her. She struggles with bullies and naysayers at almost every turn but doesn't let it get her down. Beryl is/was definitely a fighter.

    Promise the Night has proven that there is no sophomore slump for MacColl and you don't need vampires or angels to write a cool story. I'm very much looking forward to seeing which historical figure the author takes on next. It's sure to be a blast and an adventure!

    *Thanks to Lara @ Chronicle books for the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this honest review.*


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

    Giveaway Details:
    ~Open to US and Canada residents ages 18 and up (if you're younger get your parental units to enter for ya)
    ~Fill out the form embedded in this post.
    ~Contest closes Thursday, February 2, 2012 @ 11:59pm EST
    ~Void where prohibited.
    ~ I'm not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.
    ~ TWO winners will be selected using random.org and notified on or around February 3 via email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner(s) will be selected.


    Good luck and happy reading!!!!!!


    Clash of the Titles: The Redemption by MaryLu Tyndall

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    **guest post by Michelle Massaro

    For the last couple weeks, Clash of the Titles has been exploring two books delivering powerful death scenes. That's right, death scenes. The two books were The Vengeance Squad and The Redemption. We met authors Sidney Frost and MaryLu Tyndall and waited with bated breath to find out which title got the most votes. If you missed Friday's announcement, I won't keep you in suspense. Though the competition was stiff, the champion title is...
    ...


    The Redemption, by MaryLu Tyndall



    Congratulations!
    About the book:


    Lady Charlisse Bristol sets off on a voyage in search of a father she never knew, only to find herself shipwrecked on a deserted island. After weeks of combating the elements, her salvation comes in the form of a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick. Will Charlisse free herself from the seductive lure of this pirate captain and find the father's love she so ardently craves?


    While battling his attraction to this winsome lady and learning to walk a more godly path, Edmund offers to help Charlisse on her quest--until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruelest pirate on the Caribbean. Can Edmund win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice?


    Can the supernatural power of God rescue Charlisse and Edmund from the danger and treachery that await them as they ride upon the tumultuous waves of the Caribbean?
    ***
    A few of the comments from readers:


    I loved the Excerpt B.....I look forward to reading the book..it seemed more historical and the genre of books I enjoy reading. I am personally blessed by many of the Christian fiction authors and want to say thank you for all you for your readers. God bless you both!


    Someone turning to Christ at the last moment is always a touching scene. It tugs at your heart to know that someone you would never see again, now you will. Very touching!

    Keep writing as God leads you. You are bringing God's truth to readers; some who really need those truths in their lives.

    About the author:



    MaryLu Tyndall, a Christy Award finalist, and author of more than ten novels is known for her swashbuckling historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. 


    MaryLu dreamt of tall ships and swashbuckling pirates during her childhood years on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Unfortunately, instead of pursuing that dream, she worked as a miserable, landlocked software engineer for fifteen years. Only by the grace and providence of God, did she decide to answer His call to write a Christian Pirate series. Today, while writing her eleventh novel, she manages a home, husband, and six kids while battling three cats who have decided that her keyboard is the best place to sleep!  She believes that without popcorn and chocolate, life would not be worth living, and her sole motivation is to bring others closer to God.
    ***
    What fun! For a sneak peak at the book, check out the winning excerpt here. You might also enjoy her fascinating interview here.


    Right now, COTT is in the middle of a brand new clash so be sure to head over there to cast your vote. You just might win a free book!




    Happy reading!



    A Book That Grows on You: Where Wildflowers Bloom (Sisters at Heart, Book 1) by Ann Shorey

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Where Wildflowers Bloom
    by Ann Shorey
    Copyright 2012
    Revell Publishers
    336 pages
    ISBN: 9780800720742
    My Thoughts:
    With her "At Home in Beldon Grove" series and now this new series, "Sisters at Heart" Ann Shorey has definitely made a niche for herself in the historical romance genre. While not always focusing on romance and faith but also underlying issues like the treatment of single women in business in the 1800s her stories aren't just fluff and nonsense. However don't let me fool you into think that her stories aren't without "sigh-inducing" moments.

    In her latest book, Where Wildflowers Bloom we meet Faith Lindberg who has lost nearly everyone she loves to the War Between the States and lives with her aging grandfather. Since her grandfather isn't quite up to running the family's general store by himself Faith undertakes the task upon herself. She isn't completely unselfish in her motives however and hopes to persuade her grandfather to sell the business and travel west.While managing the store she must face how to pay for mounting debts, deal with thefts AND matters of her own heart concerning one intriguing stranger and one gentle but scarred stableman.

    Once again Ms. Shorey has crafted a sweet story set in a small town that is sure to capture everyone's hearts. Faith is a bit selfish and slightly annoying in her reluctance to accept that maybe moving West isn't for her or her grandfather. I was a little frustrated by her stubbornness which made her unlikable. Thankfully as the book progresses her attitude does change. I'm very happy to say this is a book where the main character definitely learns a few lessons and grows up throughout the course of the story. There isn't a boatload of drama--just enough to keep one reading. Fans of prairie romances and Christian fiction will probably like this story as I did.

    ~3.5 out of 5 stars~
    ************************

    About the book:
    How far will she go to follow her dreams?

    The Civil War stole a father and brother from Faith Lindberg--as well as Royal Baxter, the man she wanted to marry. With only her grandfather left, she dreams of leaving Noble Springs, Missouri, and traveling west to Oregon to start a new life, away from the memories that haunt her. But first she must convince her grandfather to sell the family's mercantile and leave a town their family has called home for generations.

    When Royal Baxter suddenly returns, Faith allows herself to hope that she and Royal will finally wed. But does he truly love her? Or will another man claim her heart?

    To learn more about the author visit HER WEBSITE

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



    Look It's a Freebie!!!!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Hey guys! I know I don't normally post about Kindle freebies since there are already so many great bloggers who do that but I just HAD to tell you about one that I found out about today and that's Sandra Bricker's Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride. I have loved each and every book I've read by this author and if you haven't yet had the chance to read her books for yourself now's your chance and you don't haveta spend a red cent (although I'm sure this book is worth at least $15)! Check out the link below (click the cover)...remember it's for a limited time only so if you wait too long you might not be able to take advantage of this great title compliments of Amazon and Abingdon Press.


    Happy Reading!!!!


    FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + Review: Love Blooms in Winter (The Dakota Diaries) by Lori Copeland

    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:




    • Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

    ***Special thanks to
    Karri | Marketing Assistant |Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




    Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.



    Visit the author's website.




    SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


    This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.




     1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.



     Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.












    Product Details:




      • List Price: $13.99
      • Paperback: 304 pages
      • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
      • Language: English
      • ISBN-10: 0736930191
      • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192




    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







    Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892 
      The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.
      “Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”
      “Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.
      “That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”
      Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.
      Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”
      She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”
      The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.
      But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.
      Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”
      Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.
      “Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”
      “Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”
      “Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.
      “The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”
      “Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s CafĂ©, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.
      With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.
      After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.
      Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”
      “How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”
      Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.
      How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.
      “She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”
      The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”
      “Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.
      Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”
      Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.
      The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.
      Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.
      She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.
      Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.
      Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.
      Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.
      In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.
      Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”
      Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.
      A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.
      Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”
      The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.
      “Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.
      “Oh, Pauline!”

    My Thoughts:
    While not quite as fun as the Brides of the West series or the Men of the Saddle series Love Blooms in Winter is a good start to what I'm sure will be another entertaining and sweet romance series from the pen of Lori Copeland. Set in the North Dakota town of Dwadlo Love Blooms in Winter is a sweet tale of what happens when two strangers come together to help an elderly neighbor out of the goodness of their heart and find a love that was more than they bargained for. I didn't find this book to be anything unique or different from the traditional Christian romance and to be honest if it weren't such a quick read I probably would not have finished it. I definitely didn't think it was at all realistic that Tom would pretty much give up his job to travel such a distance to visit someone who he didn't think was a relative based on a letter from a complete stranger. Two train derailments in one book was also a little "much" to take in. That said I really liked the quirky character of Lil, the pig farmer. I was a little disappointed that her relationship with the blacksmith wasn't explored further but hopefully that happens in the next book. Although this book wasn't for me if you're a fan of Lori Copeland or a fan of a quick to read romance you might enjoy Love Blooms in Winter.