Litfuse Blog Tour + My Review: Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Unrivaled
by Siri Mitchell
Copyright 2013
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764207976
The story:
Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin. 

Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget.


My Thoughts:
At first I thought this was going to be a pretty interesting and romantic tale as Siri Mitchell's books usually are but as the story progressed I found myself becoming more and more detached from the characters and story. Both hero and heroine were ruthless! I know that the candy business and really any business in general in the early 1900s required some bit of cunning but Charlie and Lucy were cutthroat! I really didn't see how their relationship ended up the way it did and so quickly with everything that went on between them that had to do with the business side of things. I loved the whole process of making candy but the characters became more and more unlikeable as the chapters went along. I love Siri Mitchell's style of writing but this book just wasn't my cup of tea. I'd suggest reading She Walks in Beauty or A Heart Most Worthy if you're looking for an excellent story set around this same time period. I'm still a big fan of this author and won't hesitate to read her books in the future. 

~ My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ~

*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.*

To read what others are saying about Unrivaled go HERE.

To order a copy of the book go HERE or visit your favorite bookseller.

Meet Siri:
Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists "Chateau of Echoes" and "The Cubicle Next Door". A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. Visit her WEBSITE.

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Giveaway

Celebrate Unrivaled with Siri Mitchell by entering to win a Kindle Fire and joining her on April 18th for a Facebook Author Chat Party!

Unrivaled-giveaway-300
 
One "swooning" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Vintage Candy Kit
  • Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell (one for you and one for a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 17th. Winner will be announced at the "Unrivaled" Author Chat Facebook Party on 4/18. Connect with Siri, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books, vintage candy kits, and more!

So grab your copy of Unrivaled and join Siri on the evening of the April 18th for a chance to connect with Siri 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 today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!


Happy Reading!


Tonight's the Night: Doctor Who Series 7, Part 2 Premiere

The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)
(Picture from Pinterest)
As you probably know if you have followed this blog for any amount of time, I'm pretty much in love with Doctor Who. If you've never seen the show (*gasp* Really?! ...since I love you, my blog reader, you are forgiven just this once) I highly recommend it. The acting is superb, the scripts are brilliant, and it's always an adventure.

The reboot of the classic show which first aired in 1963 began in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his traveling companion, Rose Tyler. This is when I first fell in love with the series. I cried and wailed as much as the next Whovian when Christopher left the show after one series but it didn't take me long to become attached to the Doctor as played by David Tennant. He cemented himself as a favorite of mine with his great hair and The Lion King reference in the very first episode of series 2. Needless to say I was over the moon when I read this morning that both he and Billie will be reprising their roles as the Doctor and Rose for the 3D 50th anniversary special which will start filming in April!

Moffat!!!
(Picture from Pinterest)
David is most definitely a favorite of many, including this girl. I knew there would never be another Doctor for me...until Matt Smith came along in 2008 and I changed my tune faster than you can say raxacoricofallapatorius! I'm sure when Matt leaves the show and the Doctor regenerates again that I'll weep for days and worry my non-Whovian friends with a few overly dramatic Facebook statuses, but hopefully this won't be for a while yet.

In the meantime here's a teaser trailer for tonight's episode, "The Bells of Saint John". I hope you watch and enjoy!




COTT's Five Fab February Releases

Thursday, March 28, 2013


We have contestants in all five corners of the ring! 

Welcome to another thrilling contest brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Clash of the Titles. This showdown features books released in February 2013. Each is prepared to duke it out for the top spot in this all-out, no-holds-barred, literary sparring match. (Okay, okay, there are a FEW rules. Like no strikes below the belt, no brass knuckles, no slipping poison into the well water. But you get the idea.)

Below are each of the five contenders, listed in no particular order. Please vote for the one most likely to grace your nightstand first. Click on the images to purchase on Amazon:


Good, Clean, Murder: A Plain Jane Mystery by Traci Hilton 

Living on her own for her first time, Bible school student Jane cleans houses to make ends meet. But being independent brings big trials, like falling for a handsome professor, dealing with an obnoxious roommate, and then there's the dead bodies...

 


Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley


In book three of the McKenna’s Daughters series, Catherine McKenna begins a journey to find her lost sisters that turns into a spiritual journey for the entire McKenna family and leads her to the love of her life.





Wounded Heroes Book Three: Betrayal by Anne Patrick


Army veteran Drew Presley will stop at nothing to find the answers behind his wife's murder.  But will those answers destroy the life he's made for him and his son?






Nothing Good is Free by Matthew Horn 


The last thing Jeff Scott wants is to end up like his vigilante predecessor, Jim, by letting a life of violence and evil get the better of him. So, in a pursuit to find the path less traveled, he seeks the truth about Jim and the life he led before the two joined forces.


 

Love's Journey Home by Kelly Irvin


Love’s Journey Home is the story of how the families of Bliss Creek’s Amish community learn to be still and listen for the Lord’s direction and then act on faith that His plan will lead them to a long awaited new life.






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What do you think of this month's selection? Have you already gotten your hands on one of these and have something wonderful to share about it? Leave a comment and let us (and the authors) know! We love interacting with readers. It's what we're all about. Hope you enjoy our site. Make it a great day!

Come back next week to find out who will stand victorious.

Happy Reading!


FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Mountain Homecoming by Sandra Robbins

Tuesday, March 26, 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 (March 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town in Tennessee where she grew up. They count their four children and five grandchildren as the greatest blessings in their lives. Her published books include stories in historical romance and romantic suspense. When not writing or spending time with her family, Sandra enjoys reading, collecting flow blue china, and playing the piano.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In the second book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins spins a tender tale of God's faithfulness throughout the generations.

Rani Martin, Simon and Anna's only daughter, is a beautiful and spirited young woman living deep in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. She has plenty of ideas about the man she'll marry someday, but none of them could have prepared her for the return of Matthew Jackson.

Matthew left Cades Cove as a child after his father's death. Now he's come back to build a new life for himself, and it's his dearest wish that Rani be a part of that life. But the people of the Cove won't let him forget the sins of his father, and Matthew can't forget the darkness of his own past.

Is there a place for Matthew in the Cove? And can the light of Rani's love overcome his pain?




Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948864
ISBN-13: 978-0736948869


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Cades Cove, Tennessee
June, 1914

Rani Martin stared through the cabin window at the Smoky
Mountains rising above the valley she loved. Usually the sight of the foggy mists curling around the hills made her happy. But try as she might, she couldn’t find anything to cheer her up today.

There had to be something that would take away the misery gnawing in the pit of her stomach. Poppa always told her she could do anything she set her mind to, but she didn’t know how she could be happy about losing the best friend any girl could ever have.

After today, there would be no reason for her to visit this cabin. Tomorrow Josie Ferguson and her husband, Ted, would load their belongings in their wagon, take their baby, and do what many of their friends and neighbors had already done—move out of Cades Cove. Josie, the one she’d shared secrets with all her life, would be gone, and Rani would be left behind with only memories of her best friend since childhood.

She didn’t understand what any of the folks who’d left the Cove were thinking. How could they leave the most beautiful place on God’s good earth?

It was springtime, the best time of year in the Cove. The winter snow had melted and the mountain laurel was in bloom. It wouldn’t be long before rhododendrons dotted the mountainsides and azaleas reappeared on Gregory’s Bald. This year, however, Josie wouldn’t be with her to share the wonder of the Cove coming back to life after a hard winter.

To Rani the prospect of living anywhere except the mountain valley where she’d been born scared her. She’d had an opportunity to see what existed in the outside world when she spent a year attending school while living with Uncle Charles in Maryville. It had been enough to convince her that life wasn’t nearly as good anywhere else as it was in the Cove. But others didn’t share her thoughts, and they’d left. And now Josie was going too.

With a sigh she turned back to the task she’d abandoned moments ago, helping pack up the kitchen utensils. Her throat constricted as she pulled the cake plate she and her mother had given Josie from the kitchen cupboard. She wrapped her fingers around the pierced handles and stared down at the hand-painted red and yellow roses on the delicate china dish. She’d thought it the most beautiful plate she’d ever seen when she first spied it at the store in Pigeon Forge.

Tears filled her eyes, and she loosened her grip with one hand so she could trace the gold band on the fluted rim. “I can’t believe it’s been three years since your wedding.”

Josie Ferguson bit down on her lip and nodded. “Ted’s always said this was his favorite of all our wedding gifts. It reminds him of the molasses cake your mother let him and his sister help make the day George was born.”

“I’ve heard Mama tell that story so many times. But she has one about every baby she’s helped deliver.”

“She’s been a blessing to the women she’s helped birth their babies. Everybody loves Anna Martin.” Josie’s eyes grew wide. “And of course your father too. I don’t think I can ever love another pastor like I do your pa. I’ve listened to him on Sundays ever since I can remember.”

“But you won’t be there anymore.” Rani set the plate down on the table and glanced at the baskets and tubs scattered across the kitchen floor. Pots, pans, and cooking utensils protruded above their sides. The tears she’d been holding back poured down her face, and she covered her eyes with her fingers. “First my brother decides to spend the summer at Uncle Robert’s farm in Strawberry Plains instead of coming home from school, then my cousin Annie gets married and moves to Townsend. Now you’re going too. What will I do with all of you gone? I’m going to feel so alone.”

“No, you won’t.”

Rani dug her fists into her eyes to stop the tears and gritted her teeth. “Why couldn’t Stephen have come home when school was out at Milligan College instead of spending the summer on Uncle Robert’s farm?”

Josie propped her hands on her hips and tilted her head to one side. “You know why.”

“Yeah,” Rani sighed. “He didn’t want to hear Poppa talk to him all summer about following in his footsteps. I don’t know why Poppa can’t see that Stephen doesn’t feel led to preach even though he agreed to that year at Milligan College. He wants to go to medical school. Of course that’s what Mama wants too. I’m glad they don’t have that problem with me. I don’t want to live anywhere but right here in Cades Cove…even if I am going to be alone.”

Josie rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Like I said, you won’t be alone. You’ll have your ma and pa, and Stephen will be here for a visit in July.” Josie wrapped her arms around Rani’s shoulders and hugged her close. “I’m the one who’s going to be alone. I won’t know anybody over at Townsend. You know Ted never has taken to farming, and there’s nothing else for him in the Cove. His new job pays real good. They’re going to furnish us a house too.”

Rani drew back in shock and gaped at Josie. “House? Have you seen what that high and mighty Little River Logging Company calls houses? I went with Poppa to Townsend last month, and I couldn’t believe what the workers were living in. They call them setoff houses because they bring them in on railroad cars and set them off on the hillsides or even right next to the railroad. They’re nothing more than one-room shacks with tar paper roofs. When the lumber company gets through cutting all the trees in one place, they load the houses onto a train and ship them to the next spot for their workers.”

Josie’s lip trembled, and her forehead wrinkled. “I know.” Her voice was almost a whisper. “But what can I do, Rani? Ted is my husband. We have to go where he can find work.”

Rani gazed past Josie to the cradle in the next room. “I can’t stand to think about you living in one of those things, especially now since you have a baby. Can’t you convince Ted to stay in Cades Cove? This is the only life you know.”

Josie pulled the corner of her apron up and wiped her eyes. She took a deep breath. “We’ll be fine. I’ll come back to visit, and you can come to Townsend to see me.”

Rani snorted and shook her head. “No thanks. I have no desire to share a one-room setoff house with you and your husband, not to mention your baby. I can’t believe Ted would be so disloyal to the Cove to go work for a company that’s trying to destroy our mountains.”

“Are you accusing my husband of turning his back on his friends?” Josie’s eyes flared and grew dark with anger.

Rani had seen that look before and realized she’d gone too far. She really needed to follow her mother’s advice and not be so outspoken about the company she thought was using the Smokies as a quick way to make money. Her opinion of Little River Lumber differed from that of many who’d left to work for the logging company. Now she had sounded like she believed Ted to be a traitor to his friends.

She reached out and grasped Josie’s arm. “I’m sorry, Josie. I didn’t mean to criticize Ted. It’s just that I’ve been so upset over what Little River’s doing to our mountains. Colonel Townsend has bought 86,000 acres of forest land all the way from Tuckaleechee to Clingman’s Dome. I don’t care if he does own the company, he’s a foolish man. They’re cutting every tree in their path. If somebody doesn’t stop them, the Smokies will end up as barren hillsides.”

Josie waved her hand in dismissal. “As usual, you’re being overly dramatic. That’s not going to happen. Like I said before, they pay well, and we need the money. End of discussion.”

Rani opened her mouth to respond, but the set of Josie’s jaw told her it would be useless. With a sigh, she picked up the cake plate from the table and handed it to Josie. “I hope you’ll think of me every time you use this.”

Josie took the plate and clasped it in her hands like she held a priceless treasure. For the first time Rani caught a glimpse of fear in Josie’s eyes, and the truth struck her. Josie didn’t want to leave Cades Cove, but she had no choice.

“I will,” Josie whispered. “I wanted this to be the last thing I packed. After all, you’re my best friend.”

Rani burst into tears and threw her arms around Josie. “We’re more than best friends. I think of you as the sister I never had. ”

“Me too.” Josie pulled back and wiped at the corner of her eyes. “But you know we could really be sisters.”

Josie’s words shattered the mood of moments ago and swept all the sadness from Rani’s mind. She took a step backward and wagged her finger in Josie’s direction. “Oh no. Don’t start that again.”

“Why not? George is crazy about you. All he talks about is how he wants to marry you, and you won’t give him any encouragement. If you married him, we’d be family. Sisters-in-law.”

Rani couldn’t believe they were having this conversation again. “I’ve told you at least a hundred times that George is a good friend, but I don’t love him. Even if I did, I don’t think I’d marry him.”

A skeptical expression crossed Josie’s face. “What’s the matter? Isn’t he good looking enough for you?”

Rani’s mouth gaped open at the ridiculous suggestion. “Oh, Josie, you know I would never think that. The truth is George is the youngest child in his family, and he’s spoiled rotten. If he doesn’t get his way, he sulks for days. I wouldn’t want a husband that I have to coddle and give in to all the time.”

Josie dropped her gaze to the cake plate she held and wrapped a burlap sack around it before she tucked it in the side of one of the baskets. “I have to admit you’re right. As a matter of fact, Ted told me George had an awful argument with his pa the other night. It seems he’s upset because he’s going to be left behind in the Cove after we leave.”

Rani held up her hands in exasperation. “You see what I mean. George can only see what he wants. He doesn’t realize what a great opportunity he has to work with his father on one of the best farms in the Cove.”

“But, Rani, you know he’s in love with you. That ought to be enough to make him a good husband.”

“Maybe it would be for somebody else, but not for me. I’m just eighteen years old. I have plenty of time to think about getting married. When I do, it’s going to be because I love a man so much my heart aches when I’m away from him.”

Josie turned to Rani and propped her hands on her hips. “Yeah, you’ve always had those romantic ideas. I think it must come from all those stories about how hard it was for your pa to get your mother to marry him.” She leaned closer to Rani. “Well, for those of us who don’t have a great love like that happen in our lives, we have to settle for the next best thing. It’s not like there’s a lot of men to choose from in the Cove. Being married to George is better than ending up an old maid.”

Rani flinched at Josie’s words. She remembered how Josie had cried four years ago when Charlie Simmons left the Cove, bound for California. At the time she’d thought it was because he was Ted’s friend. Now she wasn’t so sure. “Is that what you did, Josie? You settled for the next best thing?”

Josie’s face drained of color, and she put her hand to her throat. “Rani, I didn’t mean…”

“What’s goin’ on in here?”

At the sound of her husband’s voice at the back door Josie’s body stiffened, and she glanced over her shoulder. Rani’s heart lurched at the lack of expression on Josie’s face. She might very well have been looking at a stranger who’d come to her door instead of her husband. “I need to check on the baby,” she said, and hurried from the kitchen.

Ted Ferguson frowned and gazed after his wife as she hurried into the next room. His eyes darkened, and the look in his eyes told Rani he longed for something he would never have from Josie. After a moment he took a deep breath and smiled at her. “You two havin’ another one of your friendly arguments?”

Rani forced a laugh from her throat and wiped her eyes. “No argument. We’re just a little emotional over the two of you leaving the Cove. It seems all my friends are taking off for different places. My family may be the only one left before long.”

Ted shook his head. “Naw, you won’t be. They’ll have to drag my pa out of the Cove to get him to leave. He says he intends to be buried at the church he’s gone to all his life.”

“That’s what my pa says too.” Rani picked up the empty basket sitting on the table. “I left you some fried chicken and a fresh loaf of bread that Mama sent. She thought you might get hungry on your way to Townsend tomorrow.”

“She always thinks about other folks. Tell her I’m mighty obliged, and I hope I see her soon.”

“I will.”

Ted followed Rani into the next room where Josie was holding her son. No one spoke for a moment, then Josie swallowed and handed the baby to Ted. “Take care of Jimmy a minute while I walk Rani out.”

As Rani stepped onto the front porch, she glanced down at her dog lying next to the door. She snapped her fingers, and he jumped to his feet. He shook his shaggy body, wagged his tail, and awaited her command. It was so easy to communicate with animals. Give them love, feed them well, and reward them for good behavior, and they’d do anything you asked. Too bad people weren’t like that.

Josie had a husband who did all that for her, but today Rani had discovered the secret Josie had kept so well hidden—she would never be able to return Ted’s love. Rani didn’t want to end up like that.

With a sigh, she reached down and stroked her dog’s head. “Good boy, Scout. You did what I said. Now let’s go home.”

With Scout at her heels, she and Josie walked to the road that ran in front of the cabin. As they neared the edge of the yard, Rani turned to Josie. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I’m going to miss you too. We’re leaving early in the morning. So I guess I won’t see you again. I hope you will come visit me in Townsend. We’ll make room.”

Rani nodded. “We’ll see. You take care of yourself. And Ted and little Jimmy too.”

Josie smiled, but Rani could see the tears she was fighting to control. “Goodbye, Rani.”

Rani started to speak, but the words froze in her throat. She pressed her lips together and hugged her friend before she turned and started the long walk home. Scout trotted along beside her, and she didn’t look back. She wanted to, but she didn’t think she could stand the sight of Josie watching her walk away.

She glanced down at the dog and smiled. “Well, Scout, it’s a two-mile walk home. Do you think you can make it?”

The dog stared up at her and yelped a reply without breaking his stride.

“I think I can too.”

She didn’t mind walking. It had always been her way of getting around the Cove, and it gave her time to think. Today she had a lot to mull over. Her discovery about Josie’s feelings that she had settled for the next best thing still bothered her. She’d never imagined that Josie might have been in love with someone else.

Now that she thought back to four years ago, she remembered Josie seeming happy all summer. At the time, all she would say was that she’d had her first kiss and was in love. Rani thought it had to be Ted because he had been in love with Josie for years. But it must have been Charlie Simmons, and things hadn’t worked out. And soon after Charlie’s departure from the Cove, Josie had agreed to marry Ted after putting him off for so long.

Today she had learned the truth. Josie had settled for something—someone—she didn’t want. How could she have done that? She must have thought she was doing the right thing, but she’d been wrong. And she was wrong about something else. Being an old maid wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to a woman. To Rani’s way of thinking, being married to someone you didn’t love was far worse.

She squared her shoulders, clenched her fists at her side, and looked down at Scout. “I promise you, Scout, I will never settle for second best, even if it means I never get married.”







From the moment he rode into Cades Cove a peace like he hadn’t experienced in years came over Matthew Jackson. He pulled his horse to a stop and breathed in the sweet scent of mountain laurel drifting on the air. It smelled like home. He was back where his heart had remained.

Had it really been twenty years since he left the Cove? He closed his eyes and tried to recall every memory of the days following the death of his drunkard father. Even now the thought of the life he, his mother, and his little brother had endured made the old anger he’d tried to bury resurface. With his father drunk most of the time, survival had been hard. But his mother had seen to it that there was always food on the table. Then their lives had taken a turn for the worse when a tavern brawl had ended with his father lying dead of a gunshot wound.

Matthew had been almost ten years old at the time, but overnight he became the man of the family. He’d turned to a newcomer in the Cove, Anna Prentiss. Of course she was Anna Martin now. But to him she’d always be the angel who’d found a place for his family to live and had seen they were taken care of.

He even remembered the last words he’d spoken to her the day they left the Cove. She stood beside the wagon loaded with his family’s few belongings, and he’d said, “I’ll be back here someday.” And now, thanks to the money he’d saved working for the Little River Company, he had returned with the deed to his old homestead in his pocket.

But would the people of the Cove welcome the return of Luke Jackson’s son? His father had been a troublemaker and a bully, not to mention an abuser of his wife and children. The sturdy mountain folks didn’t have time for a man who didn’t take care of his family. As his mother used to say, people have long memories, and he was sure they could recall every one of his father’s misdeeds. Now he was about to see if those memories had labeled him a ne’er-do-well like his father.

He could count on one hand the folks who would welcome him back. Simon and Anna Martin. Granny Lawson. They were the ones who made his childhood bearable, and he could hardly wait to see them. But first things first. He had to go to the place where he was born and fulfill a promise he’d made to his dying mother fifteen years ago.

He’d leaned close to her frail, fever-ridden body to catch her last words spoken in that familiar mountain twang: “When you git back to the Cove, see if    ’n my mountain laurel bush is still there, the one yore pa planted for me when we was first married.”

After all the heartache his father had put her through, she still held to the memory of the early days of her marriage when she’d been so happy. Even now the thought of how her eyes had sparkled for a moment, reliving a happier time, made him feel as if a hammer had crushed his heart. His mother and little Eli, his brother. Gone too soon.

He cleared his throat and swiped at his eyes. No need to think about those things now. This was homecoming day, but it was different from what he’d dreamed about when he was a boy. He’d come back alone.

Straightening in the saddle, he spurred the horse forward and concentrated on the road twisting through the valley he loved. All around him were the sights and sounds he’d longed for, but he focused on getting home and seeing the place he’d left twenty years ago.

When he pulled the horse to a halt at what had once been the cabin where he’d lived, his heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. It was worse than he’d expected. The skeleton of a cabin sat near the tulip poplar tree he’d climbed as a boy—bigger now than he remembered. The house’s roof had long ago succumbed to the forces of nature and had caved in. A few timbers marked the spot where it had once been. Weeds grew across what had once been a yard.

Even in its best days the cabin hadn’t been much, but it could have been if his father had concentrated on making a life for his family instead of spending his time in a drunken stupor. The old hatred welled up in his heart, and he whispered the plea he’d prayed every day since he could remember. “God, don’t let me be like him. Make me a better man.”

The promise he’d made his mother flashed into his mind, and he climbed down from the horse and tied the reins to a sapling. Taking a deep breath to slow his racing heart, he headed around the side of the house. Had the mountain laurel plant survived the years?

His gaze drifted to his feet, and a warning flickered in his head. The weeds along what used to be a path had been trampled. Someone else had passed this way not long ago.

With hesitant steps, he inched forward. The knee-high weeds swished against his legs. He caught sight of his mother’s plant that now towered higher than his head, and he stopped in amazement. It wasn’t the bloom-covered bush that made his breath catch in his throat. It was a young woman who appeared unaware of his presence. With her arms outstretched and her face turned up to the sun, she whirled in circles in front of the mountain laurel bush while saying something in a language he didn’t understand.

Her bare feet hammered the hardened earth around the plant in a pounding rhythm. Pink blooms from the mountain laurel bush ringed the top of her head and several more protruded from the mass of black hair that reached below her shoulders.

She moved with the grace and elegance of a queen, and he thought he had never seen anyone more beautiful. He tried to speak, to alert her she wasn’t alone, but he felt as if he had come under her spell and had been forbidden to move.

Suddenly the air crackled with frantic barking, and a dog emerged from the other side of the bush. His hackles raised, he positioned himself between Matthew and the girl. She jerked to a stop and stared at him, wide-eyed. The dog snarled and inched forward.

Her dark eyes narrowed, and with one snap of her fingers she quieted the dog. She didn’t move, and her arched eyebrow told him his company wasn’t welcomed. “Stay back, mister, or I’ll sic my dog on you.”

He glanced down at the dog, whose body still bristled as if he was ready to attack. “I don’t mean you any harm, miss.”

“Then why did you sneak up on me?”

He shook his head. “I didn’t. I stopped when I heard your voice. What were you saying?”

“Just some words I learned from a Cherokee woman.” She frowned and glanced past him. “Are you alone?”

“I am. I just rode into the Cove from Townsend.”

Her body stiffened, and her lips curled into a sneer. “Townsend? Are you with the Little River Company?”

“I have been.”

“It figures.” She spit the words at him as if they were distasteful. “We get a lot of Little River workers checking out the Cove. You people are always searching for another stand of timber to cut down, aren’t you?” She bent down, grabbed her discarded shoes, and slipped them on her feet. Then with her arms rigid at her sides and her fists clenched, she took a step toward him. “Well, you can go back and tell your bosses we don’t sell our land and our trees to outsiders who want to clear cut their way through the Smokies.”

The defiant look in her eyes shot daggers at him, and they felt as if they poked deep holes in his heart. This girl’s words echoed the fierce pride shared by all the Cove residents for this valley, his valley, the place he called home. He wanted to tell her he agreed with her, that all he wanted was to live again among the people he remembered. Instead, other words emerged from his lips. “I worked for their railroad, not the logging company.”

She shook her head, and one of the blooms tumbled to the ground. Her eyes widened, and she glanced up as if she’d forgotten she wore a crown of flowers. A flush covered her cheeks, and she yanked the blossoms from her thick hair. “They’re the same to me. Maybe you didn’t cut our trees, but you carried them away.”

Matthew swallowed hard. There was something so familiar about this girl. Her brown eyes, dark complexion, and the high cheekbones reminded him of someone. It wasn’t possible he could have met her before. She probably hadn’t even been born when he had left the Cove. But still, there was something. He took a step closer, and the dog growled. With a smile he stopped and held up his hands. “I’m not coming closer.”

“Good.” She sniffed and snapped her fingers again. “Let’s go, Scout. It’s time we got home.”

He didn’t move as she strode past him, her head held high and her dog at her side. He turned and watched her disappear around the side of what had once been his home. Her straight back and determined stride reminded him of the spirited mountain women he’d known. They attacked the harsh life in the Cove and planted the seed of unyielding loyalty to the land in their children. Just like his mother had done with him.

Someone had instilled that same devotion in this girl. He hoped he’d get to meet the person who had done that, for he had just encountered the fierce mountain pride that had ruled his life. And it thrived in the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

My Thoughts:
Just as in the first book Angel of the Cove, Mountain Homecoming is a sweet love story reminiscent of Catherine Marshall's beloved classic, Christy. This book takes place 20 years after Angel of the Cove and follows Anna's daughter, Rani. As was the case with Anna's story this one is also something of a coming of age tale. Rani falls in love for the first time, has her heart broken, leaves her beloved Cove and finds out what truly matters -- faith and real love. Rani is a rather impetuous character who's a bit difficult to like at first but as the story progresses and Rani matures she definitely becomes more likeable. Matthew Jackson on the other hand is a terrific character. He returns to Cades Cove after a 20 year absence only to find that the residents haven't forgotten what his good-for-nothing father did all those years ago. He battles his own demons while becoming acquainted with the lovely daughter of an old family friend. Both Rani and Matthew are pretty well rounded as far as characters go but the one beef I had with this story was its predictability. I liked that the characters had "real-life" arguments which aren't really seen in fluffy romances but I knew that things were still going to end up tied together in a nice bow by the end in spite of everything that was going on between Rani and her beau. I felt so terrible for David, who we met later on in the book and would love to know what happens next with him! All in all a good story for those who like clean romances with heavy Christian themes.

~ My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars ~

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

Happy Reading!


I'm now on Tumblr...

Monday, March 25, 2013

I have no time for anything anymore but I somehow found the time to start a new blog on Tumblr. It's going to be a lot different from this site but I'd love you to follow it if you are so inclined. It's going to focus on a few of my other favorite things, paranormal fiction, YA fiction and different British things I love. I'm a bit of an Anglophile in case you didn't know. ;-) Don't worry, I'll still be posting here on Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot like always, so please continue to stop by!

I know absolutely nothing about Tumblr so if you have any tips, tricks, or hints PLEASE let me know, I'd appreciate it!



Happy Reading!


A Nice Debut Novel: A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Change of Fortune
by Jen Turano
Copyright 2012
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764210181
About the book:
Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. After losing her family, her fiancé, and her faith, the disappearance of her fortune is the last straw. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London. 

Much to Mr. Hamilton Beckett's chagrin, all the eyes of New York society--all the female ones, at least--are on him. Unfortunately for all the matchmaking mothers and eligible daughters, he has no plans to marry again, especially with his hands full keeping his business afloat and raising his two children alone.

When Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune put her right in Hamilton's path, sparks instantly begin to fly. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces, but with all their plans falling by the wayside and their enemies getting the better of them, it will take a riot of complications for Hamilton and Eliza to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

When all of Hamilton's and Eliza's best-laid plans fall by the wayside, it will take a riot of complications for them to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.


My Thoughts:
Every once in a while an author comes along who changes the way you look at your favorite genre. My favorite genre, historical romance was knocked of kilter when Mary Connealy came on the scene ten or so years ago. With her sassy and hilarious heroines the way I looked at romance was forever changed. With her debut, A Change of Fortune, Jen Turano is well on her way to doing the same thing where Victorian-set romances are concerned.

While not the best book I've read I immediately fell in love with the characters, especially Eliza whose desire for revenge turns into a somewhat dizzying adventure. She's impulsive and more than a bit reckless as she dives into her plans without much forethought. I absolutely adored Hamilton Beckett. With his brooding personality and his almost immediate unflagging devotion to Eliza he endeared himself to me right away. It will be very interesting to see what happens with his sister Arabella in A Most Peculiar Circumstance and Eliza's brother Grayson in A Talent for Trouble! This story reminded me of a Disney Channel TV series where the characters might dress in period costumes--characters climbing over garden walls, getting mistakenly arrested etc. It definitely had a very modern vibe, especially some of the dialogue, but even still it was enjoyable.

Overall A Change of Fortune was a good debut. I'm glad to see more authors writing stories with a sense of humor in the Christian fiction market. If you want a quick read to pass the day and don't mind that there isn't much historical content definitely give this book a try.

Order a copy HERE.

To learn more about the author visit her WEBSITE.

~ My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ~

*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!





Clash of the Titles: Song of the Tree--An Inspiring Contemporary Allegory

Friday, March 15, 2013


This week, Clash of the Titles is featuring a rare genre--
contemporary allegory. 
If you've been itching for something different, this one should do it! The Song of the Tree contains a message that applies to each of us at some point in our lives. It moves the God-seeker from fist shaking stance, down to knees before the throne.

Despite promises of eternal joy given by the Tree of Life, a privileged young woman loses everything in a brutal war. Her husband disappears; her family is murdered; her home is burned to the ground. 
Desperate, starving, and burdened with an unwanted child, she now despises and rejects the Tree she once worshiped. Ripped from her land and people, forced into survival immigration, she becomes a lowly refugee, a servant in the homes of the rich. Her unusually gifted child thrives, but is an ever present reminder of ultimate loss and betrayal.  
Two women: one broken, the other rooted in bitterness, continue to be drawn towards the song of a Tree that will not let them go. Along roads of degrading poverty and equally destructive wealth, each much wrestle with the siren call of perfect love, and its altar sacrifice of perfect trust.  

About the author, Lotis Key:
Lotis Melisande Key has lived a life of wide travel and curious variety. She’s raised horses in the Australian outback; skied the Alps; run tours through a tropical jungle; bought & sold antiquities. She’s been a restaurateur; a breeder of show cats; a third world church planter. She’s worked in an orphanage, and run a ministry that puts children through school.

After a professional theater début at the age of twelve, she subsequently starred in over seventy five feature films for the Asian market. She’s also hosted numerous television and radio shows. Upon settling in the United States, she signed with Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis based talent agencies, expanding into American on-camera and voice over narration, industrial videos, trade shows, professional theater, television, and radio commercials. 

Retiring from secular work, she founded MESSENGERS, a Christian theater arts group based at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (themessengersfeet.org). As artistic director, she toured the company throughout the US, Canada, and Asia. 

Vice-president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, Lotis is a passionate storyteller. Her work focuses on the mystery of God, and His incomprehensible love for the unattractive, wayward parts, of His otherwise perfect creation.

Happy Reading!





Awesome Biblical Fiction: Love in a Broken Vessel by Mesu Andrews

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Love in a Broken Vessel
by Mesu Andrews
Copyright 2013
Revell Publishers
ISBN: 9780800721695
About the book: 
An epic journey of intimacy, rejection, betrayal . . . and hope.

God gives Hosea a difficult command-marry a prostitute in order to show God’s people the nature and depth of His love for Israel. When Hosea goes to Israel to proclaim the Lord’s message, the woman God directs him to marry turns out to be his childhood friend Gomer. He finds her broken and abused, unwilling to trust Hosea or his God. But when marrying Hosea becomes her only means of escape, Gomer does what she’s good at-she survives. Can Hosea’s love for God and God’s love for Israel restore Gomer’s broken spirit?

With her powerful combination of in-depth research and masterful storytelling, Mesu Andrews brings to life one of the most complex and fascinating stories of love and forgiveness in the face of utter betrayal.


My Thoughts:
My original Goodreads review of, "Excellent, excellent, exxxceeeellent!", probably won't be taken seriously if I post it here but that's exactly how I felt about this story. Usually I shy away from biblical fiction, but I've learned Mesu Andrews is such an amazing talent that her tales are second only to the original Scriptures. Love in a Broken Vessel proves that she's not just a flash in the pan, she has true staying power and has certainly earned a top spot on my "Must-Read Authors" list! This story is full of such rich detail and raw emotion. I absolutely loved "seeing" Israel and what it may have been like to live during such perilous times. I have never been to Israel but I certainly felt as if I'd been on a journey by the time I turned the last page. All the best stories take you on a journey and leave you feel like you learned something about yourself and life and this book did that and more. Highly recommended for fans of biblical fiction or just romance in general.

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

To learn more about Mesu and her books GO HERE.

Link to book on Amazon.

~ My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, a favorite ~

*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: Swept Away (Trouble in Texas, Book 1) by Mary Connealy

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Swept Away
(Trouble in Texas, Book 1)
by Mary Connealy
Copyright 2013
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764209147
The Story:
When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas! 

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.  Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight.

Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she’s going to have to go with him.

But the more time Luke spends around the hardworking young woman, the more he finds himself thinking of things besides revenge. Will Ruthy convince him to give up his destructive path and be swept away by love?


My Thoughts:
You can always be sure when you pick up a book by Mary Connealy that you won't be bored. Swept Away is no exception. Ruthy is swept off her feet at the very beginning and I'm not sure they ever touches the ground the entire story. While this book didn't have as much witty banter and teasing as previous books by Ms. Connealy it was still a pleasure to read. I actually liked that this book was different in that sense. After reading Swept Away I already know that the rest of the series will be a blast. Having been teasingly introduced to some rather hunky gentlemen especially the doctor, Dare Riker there can be nothing but adventures ahead. Mary Connealy writes a western romance like nobody's business and is my go-to author when I want a light-hearted story to brighten my day. If you're a fan of her work I'm sure you'll enjoy this one and if she's a new author to you I can't think of a better book to start with!

~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~

*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.* 

To read what others are saying about Swept Away, go HERE.

To order your own copy click HERE or visit your favorite book seller.

Meet Mary:
Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and her novel Calico Canyon was nominated for a Christy Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters. Visit her at maryconnealy.com or her blog http://mconnealy.blogspot.com.


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Giveaway Details!

Mary Connealy is celebrating the release of Swept Away by giving away a $250 "Swept Away" Vacation Package and hosting a Facebook Author Chat Party! 


Swept-Away300

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $250 Visa Cash Card (Get away for the weekend or use it to buy an eReader for a relaxing ‘Staycation’!)
  • A copy of Swept Away (For you AND a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 27th. Winner will be announced at the "Swept Away" Author Chat Party on March 28th. Connect with Mary, get a sneak peek of the next book in the series, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Swept Away and join Mary on the evening of the March 28th for a chance to connect 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 today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

Happy Reading!


Clash of the Titles: Attention, Knitters and Lovers of Suspense. This Novel's for You!

Friday, March 8, 2013


Before we introduce this week's featured new release, COTT would like to extend a quick, yet heart-felt congratulations to our first annual Olympia Award winner, Author Laura McClellan and her manuscript, Do No Harm. More on Laura and her exciting win next month. Stay tuned!

And now, our featured novel...

****


About The Knitting Fairy: 
Molly Stevenson rather expected her new job at Crabapple Yarns to be deadly boring... but somehow she just didn't expect the "deadly" part to be quite so literal. After all, what could possibly be more sweet and innocent than a yarn store and a bunch of ladies knitting?

As a librarian, by trade and by nature, Molly really ought to have known better. And, worse, she broke the first rule of librarianship - never, ever judge a book by its cover. Sadly, some of us have to learn the hard way. Perhaps that is why Molly didn't exist long as Assistant Librarian at Springgate Library.

The new job at Crabapple Yarns seemed like the only sensible thing to do at the time - until she could find something better of course.

But, working at a yarn store really didn't fit into her Life Plan.

She never expected to become a knitter.

Molly never expected her sweet little boss to be hiding the fact that she was receiving threats.

She never expected to discover a Knitting Fairy.

And, she most certainly never expected a Knitting Fairy to try to kill her either.


What others are saying about The Knitting Fairy:
What do you get when you combine a novice to the world of fiber working in a yarn shop with the owner, a mysterious, fairy-tale inspired character? You get Jaime Marsman's magical, whimsical story of "The Knitting Fairy" which is sure to be enjoyed by knitters everywhere. --Penny Sitler, Executive Director of The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA), tkga.com

Amidst the characters, humour, and mystery is the fun of witnessing a non-knitter's assumptions and observations turn to affection and obsession. It made me wish to be a new knitter again! --Sally Melville, sallymelvilleknits.com

A page turning mystery with yarn shops and knitting - what else could you ask for! --Carol Feller, Author of Contemporary Irish Knits

A heartwarming and witty novel, guaranteed to make you smile. Molly Stevenson's new found love of yarn brings her comfort and friendship but leaves her with many unanswered questions. Appealing to the non-knitter as much as the knitaholic, this wonderful and enthralling mystery detailing the weird and wonderful goings on in Crabapple Yarns knitting store, will have you totally hooked. --UK Hand Knitting Association, ukhandknitting.com

About the author, Jaime Marsman:
Since the age of three, Jaime Marsman has long been fascinated with the simple shifting of letters to create different words, thoughts, and sentences. As a knitwear designer for Live.Knit.Love, she has found the same thing to also be true of yarn. Perhaps that would explain the joy she feels every time she picks up her pen or her needles. Inspiring others with her work is one of Jaime's fondest goals and dreams. She wants people to realize the joy of creating and following their dreams in their own special ways. Jaime is so grateful to God for His love and guiding hand in her life. She prays that everyone comes to have the joy and peace of knowing Him.

Happy Reading!







10 Free Inspirational Romances for Your Kindle!

When I was younger I used to read the books in the Heartsong Presents romance line like they were going out of style. Sadly, I have gotten away from reading mass market books that are published monthly simply because I am running out of space, not because I don't enjoy the stories. If you're like me, challenged for space, now you don't have to worry about finding room on your shelves since these can go in your virtual library. While tucked up in bed searching for freebie deals last night on my Kindle I found 10 Truly Yours, formerly known as Heartsong Presents, titles available for $0! Yep. That's free, zip, zilch, nada, nil, etc -- a HUUUUUUGE savings as I remember these books running around 4 bucks a pop back in the day. Take advantage while you can if you're a fan of the line and hey, if you've never read one of the books why not give it a try? AS ALWAYS, please double check before ordering a book to make sure it's still free. Here are just a few I found, there may be more. Enjoy!






























Happy Reading!