Litfuse Blog Tour + My Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter
by Julie Klassen
Copyright 2013
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764210693
What's the story?
Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her...

When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?

Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.


What I thought:
I'm so glad that the first book I read in 2013 was a Julie Klassen book. Her books are always so well written with intriguing settings and characters reminiscent of the classic romances. As was the case with her previous novels this starts out slowly but continually builds so much so that you can't put it down! At first I was bit worried that this was going to be too much of a Jane Eyre copycat with a mysterious "ghost" at Weston manor causing all sorts of mischief but I was genuinely surprised by just who that said ghost really was. The Tutor's Daughter not only is a romance but a unique look at what life was like for those who were considered to be "different" in the 19th century. It's what touched me the most in this book and I couldn't help but fall in love with such endearing characters like the elder Weston brothers, both the hero and his brother. All aspects of this story were perfection and The Tutor's Daughter has earned it's spot as my new favorite Julie Klassen read and quite possibly a favorite book of 2013!

~ My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ~

To read what others are saying about the book go HERE.

**Don't forget to join in the Facebook chat party with Julie TONIGHT 8PM EST (1/31/2013)!**

Meet the author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

 *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*

Happy Reading!


Litfuse Blog Tour + My Review: Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska
by Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleiss
Copyright 2013
Summerside Press
ISBN: 9781609365691
What's the Story?
Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams—a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood. But Ginny needs advice from the one person who will look out for her best interests—her former fiancé, Brett Miller. She travels to the remote town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the town’s colorful characters and stunning scenery provide respite from LA’s pressures.

In Glacier Bay, Ginny discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between Clay, an early missionary to Alaska Territory, and Ellie, the woman who traveled there to be his children’s governess. When Ginny is reunited with Brett in Glacier Bay, will she discover—as Ellie did—that healing and love are sometimes found in the most unexpected places?


What I Thought:
In the midst of a cold snap here in Pennsylvania it's easy to imagine how chilly it gets in Alaska but even if you live in a tropical paradise Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss will transport you to cold but beautiful Glacier Bay in Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. From the minute I opened the book I knew I was going to love it and by the time I flipped the last page this book made its mark and earned a spot in my permanent book collection. This was one of the best contemporary books I've read in a long while and it's certainly my favorite by this writing duo. This wasn't simply a romance but a spiritual journey and coming-of-age tale of not one but two women who lived decades apart. Ginny is trying to find out if her true path in life is as a superstar singer in LA or something else. Ellie's family lost their fortune in 1927 so as a last resort and favor to her grandfather she agrees to become nanny to a widowed missionary's children. Even though they are decades apart both must face their pasts and discover God's plans for their futures. Their stories both are gripping and all of the characters made this one mighty difficult to put down book. Tricia is truly talented in her own right but what these ladies have woven together are simply divine. Every book I've read by this pair I've enjoyed but this one is by far the best. Entertaining, romantic, and captivating are just a handful of words to describe Love Finds You in Glacier, Bay Alaska. I highly recommend this one to all who are fans of the genre or the Love Finds You series.

~ My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars ~

To read what others are saying about the book go HERE.


Meet the Authors:
Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of over thirty books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. Find out more about Tricia at http://www.triciagoyer.com.

Ocieanna Fleiss is a published author and editor. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. Find out more about Ocieanna at http://www.ocieanna.com/.

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Celebrate with Tricia and Ocieanna by entering their "Glacier Bay" Giveaway and RSVPing for their Facebook Party on Feb. 12th!


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One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A gorgeous handmade “Glacier Bay” bracelet
  • A handmade cowl in "Glacier Bay" blues and greens
  • A bottle of custom-made "Glacier Bay" sparkle polish in blue
  • Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss and their two other “Love Finds You” titles {Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana, and Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 11th. Winner will be announced at the "Glacier Bay" Author Chat Party on February 12th. Connect with authors Tricia and Ocieanna, get a sneak peek of their new book projects, try your hand at the Alaska trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be great giveaways—gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska, and join Tricia and Ocieanna on the evening of February 12th for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!



*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.* 


Happy Reading!


Take a Journey to 1893 Chicago in The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (Avenue of Dreams, Book 2) by Olivia Newport

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow
(Avenue of Dreams, Book 2)
by Olivia Newport
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800720391
About the Book
The whole world is coming to Chicago. Charlotte’s whole world is coming down around her.

While the rest of Chicago focuses on the enormous spectacle of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte Farrow’s attentions are entirely on one small boy-her boy-whom she has kept a secret from her wealthy employers for nearly a year.

When the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him to the opulent Banning home, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child’s fate. Can she face the truth of her past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life’s struggles determine her path?

This compelling story of courage, strength, and tender romance captures the tension between the glittering wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.


My Thoughts:
In her sophomore release in the Avenue of Dreams series Olivia Newport once again takes us to Chicago, on the cusp of the 20th century. This time instead of a tale set "upstairs" in the world of a wealthy socialite we meet Charlotte Farrow, "downstairs" maid whose life has more scandal than anyone upstairs could imagine. The only one who knows part of Charlotte's secret yet still supports her is halfway across the world on a honeymoon trip so Charlotte is left to fend for herself. If her secret gets out she's afraid of what will happen to her and the one she loves most.

As before in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, I fell in love with Chicago. The World's Columbian Exposition is certainly an interesting setting for a story and in that respect The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow doesn't disappoint, I even got a lurch in my chest when Charlotte finally rode the Ferris wheel! The imagery is definitely vivid but when it came to the romance it was a bit lacking. Don't get me wrong, the hero was such a sweetheart, but Charlotte and said hero didn't get a lot of page time together. I don't think every book has to end in a proposal or wedding especially if in the rest of the story there wasn't a big emphasis on the romance because then everything seems forced.

Ms. Newport is supremely talented and I enjoyed reading about Chicago, the life of a servant, and orphans. Next time I'll keep my fingers crossed for more romantic interaction between characters because then the book will be perfect. Bring on book three!

“Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

 ~ My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

To learn more about the author visit HER WEBSITE.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*


Happy Reading!


A Love Triangle, Mystery and a Feud in Choices of the Heart (Midwives, Book 3) by Laurie Alice Eakes

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Choices of the Heart
(The Midwives, Book 3)
by Laurie Alice Eakes
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
9780800719869
About the book:
She thought she had left her old life behind . . .

Esther Cherrett comes from a proud line of midwives and was trained by her mother to take over the family calling. When a terrible scandal threatens all she holds dear, Esther flees, taking a position as a teacher in the wild western mountains of Virginia. But instead of the refuge she was seeking, Esther finds herself in the midst of a deadly family feud-and courted by two men on opposite sides of the conflict. All she wants is to run away again.

Yet could it be that her past holds the key to reconciliation-and love?

In this gripping story of trust, deception, and bittersweet loss, you’ll discover the true meaning of choices of the heart.


My Thoughts:
Midwifery is such an interesting and enthralling topic to read about and study. Laurie Alice Eakes's series really brought the trials and tribulations of 19th century midwives front and center.  With the last installment in The Midwives series we once again meet a young midwife, this time one who has all but given up practicing because of a scandal, all to protect her family's reputation. The lack of birthing room drama in Choices of the Heart disappointed me but overall I'd recommend it if you enjoyed the previous books in the story and want to know what happens next.

Esther Cherrett, beautiful and spoiled, through no fault of her own got into a situation that scandalized seemingly the entire coast of Virginia. To protect her family, she decides it's best to abandon her family and practicing midwifery altogether for the mountains of western Virginia. However much she tried she wasn't able to outrun the truth and no matter how hard she tried to deny it, she had to face the fact that she was in love. If anyone on the mountain discovered her secret, she could potentially be responsible for destroying a precarious truce between the feuding Tollivers and Brooks.

An avid reader of historicals, stories set in the backwoods and "hollers" have become some of my favorites, give me a book by Laura Frantz or Marcia Gruver and I'm a happy girl. Choices of the Heart was quite different from the first two novels in the series. Since everything happened mostly in the wilderness the setting definitely appealed to me. The story was a bit like the aforementioned Frantz's Kentucky set The Frontiersman's Daughter, you never quite knew what was going to come crawling out of the woods -- a bear, a mountain lion, a snake, or the worst kind of "critter"; the two-legged snake. However, after the first few chapters the love story turned a bit bland. From the back cover I thought this was going to be a romance with some kind of love triangle but there really wasn't a question who Esther would choose after the first handful of chapters. This one was really predictable as far as the romance went. There was plenty of scandal though which saved this from being just an "okay" book. I have to say the feuding families could put a soap opera to shame. Don't worry readers, this was still a "clean" read. All in all this was good even if I did end up liking it more for the clashing of the Tollivers and Brooks' than the romance.


“Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
~ My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ~

To learn more about the author visit HER WEBSITE.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*


Happy Reading!


Litfuse Blog Tour + My Review: The Lesson (Stoney Ridge Seasons, Book 3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Lesson
(Stoney Ridge Seasons, Book 3)
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800719890
The back of the Book:
Sometimes love shows up when you least expect it.

Nineteen-year-old Mary Kate Lapp yearns for adventure, but all she seems to find is trouble. Her dreams of travel have taken a backseat to her assignment to teach school this year. And nothing ever seems to happen in her sleepy Amish community.

But when a sudden and unexplained death conveniently coincides with the arrival of a mysterious young man, M.K. is frustrated that no one takes it seriously. She’s determined to take matters into her own hands and get to the bottom of it. Will she find more than she bargained for?

Centered on one of bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher’s most loved characters, this is the Stoney Ridge story you have been waiting for. With a surprise at every turn, a gentle romance, and a shocking answer to an old family mystery, The Lesson is the dramatic conclusion to the Stoney Ridge Seasons series.

What I Thought:
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the premier author of Amish Fiction. Always heart-tugging and always inspirational, Amish tales don't get much better than those penned by this author. The Keeper started off this stellar series and The Lesson is its satisfying conclusion. Where The Haven disappointed me a bit, M.K.'s story more than made up for it with its balance of fun (after all, it is M.K. we're talking about here) and thought-provoking message about secrets and forgiveness.

Mary Kate Lapp, better known as M.K. is 19 now and grown up...almost. She's still that same precocious girl we first met in The Keeper but she is also struggling with growing up and to be satisfied with staying put in Stoney Ridge. A regular Nancy Drew she's also still out searching for "clues", but when a local sheep farmer ends up dead in his field she uncovers so much more especially when it comes to hired hand and buggy repairer, Chris Yoder. Family secrets and mysteries abound to make this one book that's hard to put down.

Anyone, Amish fiction readers and young adult fiction readers, will enjoy this book. It's so well written and even though it's labeled as a romance it's probably one of the most "real" fiction books that I've read. Without giving anything away I'll just say that not everything works out perfectly and some people are still left with scars and situations that are difficult to deal with even after the last page is turned. I have to hand it to Suzanne for making the Stoney Ridge series and its characters so complex and yet easy to relate to. I'm going to miss the Lapps and their Amish community but hopefully her new series goes for the gut as these last two have.

~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~

*To read what others are saying about The Lesson, go HERE.*

Meet Suzanne:
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

For more information, please visit www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

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Celebrate the release of The Lesson with Suzanne Woods Fisher by entering to win one of TWO iPads!
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Two winners will receive:
  • A brand new iPad
  • A $15 gift certificate to iTunes
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 20th. Winner will be announced on 1/22/13 at Suzanne's Blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.




*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*


Happy Reading!


A Nice Romance: Waiting for Spring (Westward Winds, Book 2) by Amanda Cabot

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Waiting for Spring
(Westward Winds, Book 2)
by Amanda Cabot
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
9780800734602
About the book:
A new identity may protect her family-but can it protect her heart?

After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But she can find no rest from the ghosts of the past and flees to Cheyenne to put the pieces of her life back together.

Wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry must make a sensible match if he is to be elected senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming. He needs someone with connections. Someone without a past. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.

Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?


My Thoughts:
Somebody who is trying to remain anonymous and in the shadows shouldn't wear an electric blue dress but I've grown to love the cover for Waiting for Spring and now that I've read the book I really liked the story too. The reason I preferred this over the previous novels by this author is that I immediately felt the chemistry and attraction between hero and heroine that wasn't always present in other stories. Barrett was definitely a favorite hero, he had the confidence (aka that little bit of 'swagger' that gets me every time!) which none of the others seemed to exude. There wasn't a lot going on in this book as far as drama or conflict until the latter chapters but the interaction between Barrett and Charlotte were enough to keep me turning the pages -- no struggling to finish this one! Honestly, I can't really remember much that happened in the first book, Summer of Promise, but that didn't really make a difference when reading this so it can be read as a stand-alone book. There were a few loose ends with some of the characters but in the author's acknowledgment page she says there's more to come so hopefully those things are addressed!

“Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~

To learn more about the author visit her WEBSITE.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*


Happy Reading!


It's Friday...

Friday, January 11, 2013

...put on your best hat and go out and enjoy the weekend! ;-)


Photo from Tumblr

Photo from White Collar Tumblr page




Dakota Set Romance: Under the Summer Sky (The Dakota Diaries, Book 2) by Lori Copeland

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Under the Summer Sky
(Dakota Diaries, Book 2)
by Lori Copeland
Copyright 2013
Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 9780736930208
About the book:
This romantic new book from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God's miraculous provision even when none seems possible.

1893--A man who goes only by the name of "Jones" isn't looking for trouble when he happens across Miss Trinity Franklin at the riverside. He is simply on his way to North Dakota to seek the advice of Tom Curtis, a former CN&W Railroad land purchaser. But when Jones spots a lady who is about to become the victim of a marauding band of thugs, he quickly follows his instincts. A handy barrel and a nearby river seem the perfect getaway solution...how was he to know she couldn't swim?

Thus begins an adventure beyond what either could have anticipated. After Jones again rescues Trinity--this time from the river--they find their destination is the same: a small town in North Dakota. A seemingly coincidental beginning comes to a delightful and charming ending when orchestrated by the One who can put the pieces of any lost and broken life together.


My Thoughts:
I adore a light-hearted romance every once in a while as long as they are well written with a terrific HEA. Lori Copeland's early westerns are some of my favorites, nobody writes a love story like her, unfortunately this wasn't one of my favorites. The first few pages started out with a bang and I was pretty sure that this was going to be an adventure but it fell flat. I did not get the chemistry between Trinity and Jones at all. They skirted around each other for 3/4 of the book, mostly concerned with finding a lock box that contained the deed to Trinity's land. By the time the ending came around the romance felt forced. I did like Mae, Tom, Pauline, and the rascally Benjamin. Benjamin's tenacity when it came to Pauline was the best part of the whole story. The fact that he waited decades for Pauline and didn't give up on winning her tugged at my heartstrings. It was nice but I think when reading a romance you're supposed to care the most about the main characters and unfortunately I did not. If you're looking for a series by Ms. Copeland to read I suggest her Brides of the West series.

~ My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars, It was okay ~

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen @ Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

Happy Reading!


FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour: Under the Summer Sky (The Dakota Diaries, Book 2) by Lori Copeland

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen 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:

After a man named Jones rescues Trinity Franklin from a river, they find their destination is the same: a small town in North Dakota. A seemingly coincidental beginning comes to a delightful and charming ending when orchestrated by the One who can put the pieces of any lost and broken life together.


Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930205
ISBN-13: 978-0736930208



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Near Piedmont, South Dakota, 1893

“Don’t put me in that barrel!”

“Do you want to die, woman?”

“No! That’s why you can’t put me in the barrel—I can’t swim!” She had gone to the river for a simple bucket of water when this beast had swept in and captured her. She loved the good Lord, but she wasn’t ready to meet Him face-to-face. The sound of rushing water overwhelmed her senses as iron hands gripped her waist. War whoops filled the air as three riders poured over the hillside. She pounded the solid wall of flesh that enveloped her. “Let me go!”

“I’m trying to save your life, lady.”

The stranger heaved her over to the barrel and unceremoniously dumped her inside, stuffing her head between her knees before he slammed the lid down on top.

“I can’t swim!” Her muffled voice echoed in her ears. Was he deaf    ? Mad? What kind of man would put a woman in a barrel and send her over the rapids when she couldn’t swim? She banged on the wooden sides. “Let me out!”

All bedlam broke out, and even through the barrel Trinity could hear grunts, shouts, and the sound of bare fists meeting flesh. Her heart hammered in her chest. She willed herself to be still, but she could feel the barrel shifting underneath her, teetering at the water’s edge. “Don’t let me fall in, don’t let me fall in,” she whispered. A flour mill sat downstream, but if she reached it she would be too late. A few minutes in the turgid waters and she would drown.

Grunts. More fists.

Please, God. Please, God.

She swallowed back the urge to shout. Calling out would mean certain death. Her brother, Rob, had written tales of rebels, both Indian and white, banding together to plunder and commit unspeakable acts, but never in her wildest dreams would she have thought to encounter one of the lowlifes. A gunshot—then another. Trinity’s heart crowded her throat as the fighting grew fiercer. The barrel shifted again.

Don’t let me fall in. Don’t let me fall in.

A deep rumble. A shove. Trinity’s heart sputtered. She was close—too close. She could almost smell the cold, rushing water. She heard the shuffle of men’s boots—though now it sounded as though there were fewer of them. Maybe two? Against overwhelming odds, the stranger appeared to be winning.

Rapids rushed in the distance. Relax. That beast of a man is strong. He still faced formidable odds, but it sounded as if he were besting the enemy. Trinity felt the tension draining away from her. The ruckus would be over soon and he would release her from her wooden prison.

And then she would demand to know who he was and how he’d had the audacity to risk her life!

Locked in a duel, the men’s groans filled the air as they strained against one another. The sheer force in their tones made her cringe. Then—the unthinkable. A boot caught the edge of the barrel and sent it toppling into the churning water.

Trinity screamed as the current caught the barrel and bounced it downstream. Terror-stricken, she watched the water seeping through the cracks in the wood. The rapids were only two hundred yards downstream—she had to be getting close.

She was going to die. Rob had perished far too young, and now she was going to join him. And it was all her fault. She should never have left her nice, safe café job in Sioux City and come to this rugged land. She had refused to accompany Rob a year earlier when he’d pleaded with her to join him and help him settle Wilson’s Falls, the plot of land their family had owned for generations. She should have held to her belief that no good would come of her visiting this remote country for even a short time. No amount of money on earth could keep her safe now—not even the handsome sum the railroad was likely to offer for the family’s parcel of land.

The trip was supposed to be brief. Never once had she thought her journey would end at the Pearly Gates.

W

Jones whirled when he heard the barrel hit the water. The man locked in his grip took advantage of the distraction and landed a blow that took Jones to his knees. He swung wildly, landing a punch that momentarily staggered his opponent.

His eyes swung back to the barrel. Only a few moments before it went over the rapids. The other thug came at him and he managed a hard right and then his signature left, the knock-out blow. His opponent slumped to the ground and Jones took off running down the bank. His boots thrashed through a heavy thicket as his eyes followed the bobbing container. When he reached a wide spot, he dove in and surfaced just within reach of the barrel.

“Hold on! I’m here!” he yelled.

The girl’s reedy voice came back. “I can’t swim! Get me out of here!”

“I’m trying!” He lunged, his hand brushing the barrel in vain. Charging again, he only managed to hurry the barrel along. It flew over the rapids and he heard her screams until the roar of rushing water snatched them away.

Shoot. She was going to be mad as a wet hen.

“Are you still there? I can’t hear you!”

He couldn’t imagine why not. She was yelling loud enough for them to hear her all the way to Canada.

“I’m here! Just hang on!”

“I can’t swim!”

Like he hadn’t heard her the first eight times. Closing his eyes, he dove under the swift current.

W

The thin wood split as the water and rocks smashed the barrel into kindling. Trinity gasped for air, her breath lodged in her throat. The wind and water whipped wildly about her. Where was he?

Anger churned with panic as she bumped along. Objects blurred as she choked, struggling to right herself. She went down, down, down, thumping and bumping over rocks. This was it. This was the end. She’d never done anything worthwhile in her nineteen years. Nothing but wait tables and serve others—but that was good. To her knowledge she’d never caused anyone an ounce of trouble, so she could meet her Maker in good faith.

Now she would draw her last breath—gurgle it, more like—but…she broke the waterline, choking. A strong hand latched onto her hair as she went under again.

Pain blinded her—pain the likes of which she’d never experienced. Her very roots were being ripped out. She struggled to break the fierce hold, and did, momentarily, but then something snared her and yanked her back to the surface.

“Stop fighting me!” a male voice demanded.

She saw him then—the man who’d stuffed her in the barrel. At the moment it didn’t matter what he’d stuffed her in; he was an anchor in the storm. Her efforts ceased. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight.

He was a strong swimmer, but she was dead weight. Dragging her through the water, he reached a ledge and paused to catch his breath. Paralyzed with fear, her heart threatened to pound out of her chest, and for the first time in her life she couldn’t find the words she wanted. His arms around her were powerful, and the feel of his prickly dark beard against her cheek brought a blush to her face. She’d never been this close to a man before—except Rob, of course. When she poured coffee at the café she bent close, but never this close. She could smell him, hear his ragged breath in her ear.

“Sorry I scared you,” he said, swiping his face to clear the water out of his eyes. “I didn’t mean for the barrel to go over.”

She nodded, still not able to find her voice. She was in the middle of a rushing rapid, standing in the arms of a stranger, finding her brush with death very difficult to comprehend.

“Hold on.” He hitched her up and swam the remaining distance to shore. Throwing her on the bank like a landed carp, he crawled out and collapsed beside her. For a moment they lay in the warm sun, gasping for breath. In a novel the moment might have been romantic, Trinity thought. Instead it was wet and cold and ghastly.

“Who are you?” she asked, finally finding her breath. Since she could speak she should probably thank him—it was only polite—though at the moment she wanted to throttle him for putting her life in danger in the first place.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m just passing through.”

“What’s your name?” She had the right to know who’d almost killed her, didn’t she?

“Jones.”

“Jones what?”

“Just Jones.” Rolling to his back, he stuck out his hand. “Are you all right?”

Trinity stared at the proffered hand, stultified. “Why did you stick me in that barrel?”

“I saved your life.”

“You could easily have taken it. I don’t…”

“Swim. So you’ve said.” Struggling to his feet, he removed his left boot and dumped out a stream of water. “Sorry I upset you, but those men would have distressed you more.”

Her gaze fixed on the tall stranger. She knew she should feel nothing but gratitude, but he’d scared the wadding out of her. “Well, before you stick a lady in a barrel and send her downstream, you might want to make certain you can save her.”

Jones dumped the water out of his right boot. “Don’t figure there’s any reason for me to apologize for saving your neck.” He glanced up. “What are you doing out here alone, anyway?”

“I was doing my wash.” She pushed to her feet and brushed the wet hair out of her eyes.

“You live around here?”

“Not live. I’m staying here for a while. I’m in the process of selling my land, and once I do I’m going back to Sioux Falls.”

“Nice town.”

“You’ve been there?”

He nodded, shoving his foot, wet sock and all, back into his boot. “Couple of times. Do you want me to walk you back to your place?”

“No, thank you.” She’d had quite enough of him for one day.

Nodding, he set his Stetson on his head and adjusted the band. “You might want to keep a close eye out for the others. The men scattered, but they’ll meet up again.”

Trinity swallowed, trying to retain her composure. She’d get home, and then she wouldn’t rest until she’d sold the land and left this godforsaken place behind her forever. “Thank you. I’ll be careful.”

“You think you can handle these wilds?”

She lifted her chin. “Of course I can handle myself.” Granted, he had caught her in a bad circumstance, but chances were that the men were only passing through and she’d have no more trouble with them.

“Do you have a gun?”

“My brother left one.”

“Do you know how to use it?”

The chin rose higher. “I do—if necessary.”

He paused, a slow grin starting at the corners of his mouth. Dark curly hair, penetrating brown eyes, and skin browned by the long hours in the sun. He was handsome, no denying it, but Trinity had more important things on her mind. “I see you’ve got things well in hand.”

She nodded coolly. He had every right to suspect that she was one of those helpless simpering females, but she was far from vulnerable. She’d been on her own since Rob had left to work this land, and she’d learned to care for herself nicely.

He started off and then turned back. “By the way…”

She pushed another lock of soggy hair out of her eyes. “Yes?”

His gaze drifted down. “You lost your skirt in the water.”

Gasping, she looked down. She was wearing nothing but her bloomers! And he hadn’t said a word until now.

When she looked up, he was gone. Drawing herself up straight, she sniffed. And a good riddance it was.


Review to come 1/9/2013

Happy Reading!


Bloggers Wanted!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I hope that the title of this post got your attention! I just wanted to let you all know that I'm in charge of a special campaign and promotion for terrific Christian romance novelist Sandra Byrd whose name you may recognize from this blog and many others as she's a best-selling and award winning author. We're putting together a special campaign to get the word out about her wonderful French Twist series (previously published in paperback by WaterBrook Press) that is now available in Kindle E-Book form!

The first book in the series, Let Them Eat Cake, is going to be FREE on Amazon, February 11-15th for everyone but we want to give you, bloggers and website owners, the chance to snag your own copy AND get entered for a chance to win an amazing Valentine's Day themed petits fours treat from Sandra and Divine Delights. Anyone who posts during the week of February 11-15 on their blog, Facebook, or Twitter about the Let The Eat Cake Amazon freebie deal can enter to win. If you're interested, you may also request one or all of the titles in the French Twist series to review on your blog. Sandra is also open to interviews as well if you'd like to feature her on your blog or website.

The Divine Delights giveaway is open to US residents only but international bloggers are welcome to post about the deal for Let Them Eat Cake Kindle edition and/or request a review copy of any or all of the French Twist books. As long as you can accept and read Kindle e-book gifts from Amazon.com sites we can get the stories to you. 

For complete details and the link to sign up please email me at steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com with 'Let Them Eat Cake' in the subject line before January 11, 2013.




About Sandra:
Sandra is a best-selling author and has earned Library Journal's Best Books of the year pick twice, in 2011 for To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, and in 2012 for The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr. She's twice been a Christy Award finalist, for To Die For and for Let Them Eat Cake: A Novel.




The Scoop on Let Them Eat Cake:
Lexi Stuart is at a critical crossroads. She’s done with college but still living at home, ready to launch a career but unable to find a job, and solidly stalled between boyfriends.

When a lighthearted conversation in French with the manager of her favorite bakery turns into a job offer, Lexi accepts. But the actual glamour is minimal: the pay is less than generous, her co-workers are skeptical, her bank account remains vertically-challenged, and her parents are perpetually disappointed. Her only comfort comes from the flirtatious baker she has her eye–but even may not be who he seems to be!

So when a handsome young executive dashes into the bakery to pick up his high profile company’s special order for an important meeting–an order Lexi has flubbed–she loses her compulsion to please. Something inside Lexi clicks. Laissez la révolution commencer! Let the revolution begin! Instead of trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations for her life, Lexi embarks on an adventure in trusting herself and her God with her future–très bon!


Read my reviews of Sandra's two latest historical books To Die For HERE and The Secret Keeper HERE
 
Happy Reading!