Litfuse Blog Tour: Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Winter in Full Bloom
by Anita Higman
Copyright 2013
River North Fiction
ISBN: 9780802405807
The Story:
Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

My Thoughts:
After having had the opportunity to read her stellar holiday novel, A Merry Little Christmas (my review HERE), I felt sure that Winter in Full Bloom would be just as amazing. Even though it didn't quite live up to my expectations, it was still a wonderful story that packed a punch just like her Christmas story. Winter In Full Bloom is a worthy read for those who enjoy women's fiction and a touch of romance.

First off, let's state the obvious -- the cover -- it's gorgeous and one of my favorites. I'm sure I'm not the only one who got the impression that this was a historical novel set in winter, but don't let it fool you, it's a contemporary story. It's a completely breathtaking picture and I love the symbolism and how it fits Lily's story.

The story on the pages in between the stunning cover is also an interesting one. The major themes are forgiveness and of rediscovering love. At first, I was a little skeptical of Marcus, the Texan turned Aussie, he seemed a bit too "cheesy." As the story unfolded, I found myself really enjoying his fun, easy-going manner, especially after learning his back story and what made him tick.

Lily Winter, our heroine, is living with a world of hurt. Facing the death of her husband following his affair with a co-worker, the decade long estrangement from her mother, followed by yet another life-changing discovery led her to Australia in search of answers. I found her to be a bit too trusting and accepting of strangers for one who had been so hurt but I still enjoyed the messages woven into this book.

Winter In Full Bloom is a good story. I'm not as impressed by this as I was of her historical novel, but it was still worth the read. Anita Higman definitely knows how to tug at the heartstrings, and I'm very much looking forward to her next book!


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

To purchase a copy of the book from Amazon, GO HERE.

 ~ 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.*


Meet Anita:
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

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Giveaway Details!

Anita Higman's latest novel, Winter in Full Bloom, has just released. She's teamed up with her publisher, River North Fiction, for a fun giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party on August 29th.

Winter-in-Full-Bloom-rafflecopter
 
  One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD
  • Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 28th.Winner will be announced August 29th at the Winter in Full Bloom Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Anita will be hosting a book chat, talking about family, announcing the winner of the Kindle Fire, and giving away a ton of books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at her next book.

So grab your copy of Winter in Full Bloom and join Anita on the evening of August 29th 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. HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 29th!


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Happy Reading!


Review + Giveaway: A Certain Summer by Patricia Beard (General Market Fiction)

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Certain Summer
by Patricia Beard
Copyright 2013
Gallery Books
ISBN: 9781476710266
The Story:
"Nothing ever changes at Wauregan.” That mystique is the tradition of the idyllic island colony off the shore of Long Island, the comforting tradition that its summer dwellers have lived by for over half a century. But in the summer of 1948, after a world war has claimed countless men—even those who came home—the time has come to deal with history’s indelible scars.

Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war.

 Part mystery, part love story, and part insider’s view of a very private world, A Certain Summer resonates in the heart long after the last page is turned.

My Thoughts:
Sadly, summer does not last forever, but those who long for sunny, lazy days can always have them close at hand if they have a book beside them. A Certain Summer is a great example of a story to read if you want to hang on to these last days of summer or to read in winter when the bitter cold days make summer seem like a far off dream. While it may not be a favorite of mine, the setting was to die for, especially if you love seaside living or beach vacations. A Certain Summer definitely captures the carefree spirit of summer while reminding readers of the struggles that soldiers and their families faced following World War II.

Having just finished a novel set during the second World War last week, this book made it easier for me to imagine what heartaches and dilemmas families on the home-front had to deal with as well as those returning home from service. I've read many books that addressed PTSD in our current generation and it's really interesting how far we've come since the 40s when it was sort of frowned upon to talk about what vets saw during war. A Certain Summer also features a military war dog named Max. How citizens looked at returning war dogs was also interesting -- some with fear that dogs who were trained for the battlefield could never be rehabilitated and some with respect and care that they deserved. Max, definitely added to the uniqueness of the book.

A Certain Summer is certainly not a "fluffy" read, but nevertheless it's a book that you can take with you and enjoy at the beach. The sand and surf of the seaside at Wauregan, the exclusive private island for some of New York's most elite families, was brought to life -- so much so that I could almost hear the waves hitting the shore. A talent show, boating trips, ferry rides, and bicycles all hearken back to the days when life was a bit more slow. Helen, Jack, Peter, The Judge, and even the MWD Max are equally complex and interesting characters -- anyone who you could have met at the beach in the 1940s. I'm not really sure what to say about how the story ended but I felt like there were some things left open that I wish were settled. Overall, this was a good story and I will probably end up giving Patricia Beard's next book a try.

Note: Some strong language and mild sexual content.

To purchase a copy of the book, visit Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

To learn more about the author, visit her website: http://patriciabeardbooks.com/

~ 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.*

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Giveaway!
(The Rafflecopter form may take a while to load. If you are having problems accessing it, please email me @ steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com


Happy Reading!


Interview, Giveaway, & My Thoughts on Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


In the blogging world it so often happens that you come across readers with the same tastes as you, but it doesn't often happen that you become friends with said readers and get to follow them on their blogging journey AND their journey to become a published author. I've been lucky enough to meet not one but two up and coming authors -- first, Keli Gwyn, when I first started out blogging who's now author of A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, and now a second blogger turned writer, Amber Stokes author of Bleeding Heart and it's yet-to-be-released prequel, Forget Me Not! Please take a few minutes to "meet" Amber below and check out my thoughts on her debut novel too. I'm sure Amber will be stopping by so if you'd like to leave a comment for her, please do!

Meet Amber Stokes, Author of Bleeding Heart! 

~ How long did it take you to write Bleeding Heart? 

About 2 years – but that’s because I was only working on it off and on during that time. Bleeding Heart isn’t overly long for a novel (about 53,000 words), but I didn’t really have a deadline, so it was just something I would come back to now and again – a story that remained on my heart but allowed me time to get it down on paper. Participating in the Speedbo challenge on the Seekerville blog this last March was what gave me the push to finally get to “The End.” Then came the editing!

 ~ What was the inspiration behind the book (characters, setting, etc.)? 

The book was inspired by a combination of things. Most of the main characters were secondary characters in my first manuscript, Forget Me Not (the yet-to-be-published prequel). So I guess you could say I was inspired to share their stories! As for the settings, I became captivated by Virginia City, Nevada when I was in high school – I even wrote my IB (International Baccalaureate) extended essay about some of the history of the town. And yes, that does mean I’m a fan of Bonanza. *wink* I love all things American West! Falk, the other main setting in Bleeding Heart, was a logging town in my home county…but it no longer exists. Seeing the signs about the town and the very few remnants of it on a trail near Eureka, California (Headwaters Forest Reserve) made me curious, and I knew I wanted to set a story there. As for the storyline itself, that was inspired by the title (continuing the flower-names-with-meanings theme), the characters, and my own fears and questions about love.

~ What do you hope readers take away from the story? 

I hope readers take away hope – that somehow the story reminds them that there is hope and healing in trusting God. And I would also love for the story to challenge readers…to maybe cause them to wrestle with their own beliefs about love, about life and death. Even if we can’t grasp all there is to know about these things, I think it’s important to think about them, to struggle with them, to understand what you believe and to trust God to be bigger than what you don’t understand.


~ I always like to have at least one fun question in an interview. I love the cover for Bleeding Heart. If you had an unlimited budget and could get anyone to pose for the cover of your next book who would you have on the cover? 

I love the cover, too! Didn’t Lena Goldfinch do such a lovely job? I’m super pleased with how it came together! And what a neat question! The next book I want to publish is Forget Me Not (the prequel). The heroine in that novel is a young brunette. To be honest (I seriously hope this doesn’t sound super vain!), I always thought it would be kind of fun to pose for my own cover. Of course, I also always thought it would be fun to star in my own movie (based on one of my books)! Michael Landon Jr. would be the director, of course. *grin* But seriously… You know, I’m actually just not sure! If I could go back in time and ask Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret Hale from BBC’s North & South) when she was in her late teens or early twenties to pose on the cover (assuming she looked similar to how she did in that series – just a little younger), that would be pretty sweet! I did find a model photo on iStockphoto.com that I really like that would be about the same price I paid for the model photo used on Bleeding Heart, but I haven’t heard my cover designer’s thoughts on it yet, so we’ll see. Oh, and there’s a great photo I really like that I’d love to use on the cover of Bleeding Heart’s sequel (yet-to-be written), but it is a little pricey… So I’d love to be given unlimited funds to use all the right photos I like without worries, LOL!

 ~  I'd love for you to include a little bit about yourself and your book or anything else you would like to add. :-) 

Thank you so much for hosting me, Renee! I’ve been a big fan of you and your blog for a long time, so it’s a pleasure to be here as a guest!

Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart.

Amber's Personal Blog: Seasons of Humility
Book Blogs: Bleeding Heart, Forget Me Not
Editing Website: Editing Through the Seasons


US Residents: Enter to win a Bleeding Heart themed giveaway pack, including a signed paperback copy of the book (not pictured) from the author HERE! a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the book:
Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886 

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her. All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.


My Thoughts:
Never have I encountered a romance with a twist like that of Bleeding Heart! If her upcoming novels are as exciting and drama-filled as her debut, Amber Stokes will have no trouble gaining permanent and devoted fans. Much like a Heartsong Presents novel, Bleeding Heart has everything that makes a great story -- setting, plot twists, and great characters all in a short, quick bite.

From just a few short chapters, a few characters stood out as favorites, those being Sally, the heroine and her friend Cornish miner, Myghal. Obviously we learn what happens to Sally, and I have to say a few things are certainly gut-wrenching, but Myghal's story is left open and I for one want to know more of what's in store for my latest book crush! Sally is a bit on the naive side for a woman who has had to live on her own for 3 years but she is by no means TSTL or unlikeable. Joe, Seth, and of course Myghal are what you'd expect to see in a novel of the Old West -- a bit like the Cartwrights of TV's Bonanza, tough, loyal, and chivalrous to a fault!

When all is said and done, Bleeding Heart is a good debut. This story definitely went above and beyond my already high expectations for it. Anytime I read almost the entire book in a sitting without even realizing it's WAY past my bedtime, well, that's a good thing! I think it's worth the $2.99 if you are a fan of western romances.

To read what other reviewers are saying about the book go HERE.

To purchase a copy of the book for your Kindle go HERE.


~ 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.*

Happy Reading!


Litfuse Blog Tour: On Distant Shores (Wings of the Nightingale, Book 1) by Sarah Sundin

Monday, August 19, 2013

On Distant Shores
by Sarah Sundin
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800720827
The Story:
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more. 


My Thoughts:
When it comes to stories set during World War II, there's no other author whose books I'd rather read than Sarah Sundin's. On Distant Shores, the latest book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, has romance and breathtaking war-time action that make it 400 plus pages of page-turning bliss. Unlike many series' that I have read, this book covers the same timeline as the first book, With Every Letter, AND includes characters we previously met while still being utterly surprising and entertaining.

Flight Nurse, Georgiana Taylor went against her family's and fiance's wishes and followed her best friend, Rose, to war. In the midst of intense fighting, she begins to second guess her decision to become a nurse but with faith and a little help from her new friend, John Hutchinson aka Hutch, she battles through her insecurities while abroad.  Hutch, isn't without his own problems, believing that he and his fellow Army pharmacists will never get the respect or the recognition they deserve. Both Georgie and Hutch overcome extreme hurdles in their personal lives and in the army and find a love that neither were looking for.

On Distant Shores captures the sisterly bond of the female nurses during combat in a realistic and intriguing way. The unpredictability of war and even the fickleness of nature amplify the danger for Georgie and her patients. From one page to the next I never knew what was coming! I could not put this book down. I liked the romance of With Every Letter a bit more than what took place in this story but still I have no qualms about recommending this book to anyone who loves Christian fiction.

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

To purchase a copy of the book from Amazon, GO HERE.

 ~ 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.*

Meet the Author:
Sarah Sundin is the author of "With Every Letter" and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A "Memory Between Us" was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

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Giveaway Details!

Sarah Sundin is celebrating the release of her latest novel, On Distant Shores, with a Romantic Weekend Getaway giveaway!


On-Distant-Shores-rafflecopter

  One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (good for a perfect couple's getaway)
  • With Every Letter and On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 2nd. Winner will be announced September 3rd at the "On Distant Shores" Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Sarah will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Weekend Getaway, and giving away a ton of books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at the next book in the Wings of the Nightingale series.

So grab your copy of On Distant Shores and join Sarah on the evening of September 3rd 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. HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 3rd!


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Happy Reading!




FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Whispers from the Shadows (Culper Ring, Bk. 2) by Roseanna M. White

Friday, August 16, 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 (August 1, 2013)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna M. White is the author of several novels, as well as the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, and the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When Gwyneth Fairchild flees London to save her life, she ends up under the care of Thaddeus Lane in Baltimore. Though their hearts turn to each other, Gwyn and Thad are on opposite sides of the War of 1812. What is God’s plan for them when the war is over?



Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Series: Culper Ring Series (Book 2)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736951016
ISBN-13: 978-0736951012


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

London, England

April 1814

The servants hefting her trunks onto the carriage might as well have been loading her coffin. Gwyneth Fairchild pulled her pelisse close and gazed across Hanover Square with a sick feeling in her stomach. Surely she would awaken from this nightmare and walk down to the breakfast room to find Papa smiling at her. He would speak and say something that actually made sense.

Not like yesterday.

She shut her eyes against the image of all that was familiar, all that she might never see again. What if the Scribe went down? Was attacked by a renegade French ship or those dreadful American pirates? What if, assuming she made it to Annapolis, they killed her the moment she stepped ashore?

Annapolis. Had Papa not looked so sorrowful, so determined when he said that word yesterday, she would have thought he had gone mad.

His hand settled on her shoulder now, warm and large. Those hands had steadied her all her life. Capable, that was what General Isaac Fairchild had always been. Capable and steady and so very noble. All that was worthy of love and respect. So surely she could trust him now when logic and reason said she couldn’t.

“I know it makes little sense to you, dear heart.” He touched her chin, a silent bid for her to look at him. She found his eyes gleaming with moisture he would never shed. Not when anyone could see him, though she had heard his heartrending sobs when Mama died last fall. “I wish there were another way, but there is not.”

Another way for what? He hadn’t said, wouldn’t say. Gwyneth drew in a tremulous breath and tried to stand tall and proud, the way Mama had taught her, the way Papa himself had instilled. To convey with her posture that she was the great-granddaughter of a duke, the granddaughter of two earls, the daughter of a general.

A daughter sent into exile for no apparent reason. Separated from all those she loved, the only people left in the world who mattered. “Papa—”

“I know.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I do. But I cannot entrust you to anyone but the Lanes.”

A light mist descended, heavier than fog but too tame to be called rain. At this moment, a thunderstorm would have better matched her confusion. “Please tell me what is happening. Why must you entrust me to anyone? And if you must, why not Aunt Poole or Aunt Gates?”

His jaw moved for a moment but no words came. Nay, he simply looked past her, his eyes searching for something unseen. Then he sighed. “The Lanes will welcome you and take care of you, Gwyn. I will follow as quickly as I can. A month at the outside. No more.”

Exactly what he said yesterday too. He would give no explanation as to why he was sending her to a nation with whom they were at war, across the Atlantic to a family she had met only once, when she was but a tot.

“Papa, your words hint at danger, but what could threaten me here more than the sea and its pirates? The French, the Americans?”

“The French ought to pose no threat now that we’ve subdued them.” He reached inside his coat of blazing red and pulled out an envelope. “In all likelihood your ship will reach harbor safely, but if by chance you do encounter American privateers, offer them this.”

She frowned as she took the envelope. It was too thin to contain anything but a single sheet of paper. “What—”

“Trust me. ’Twill suffice.” Chatter from the house grew louder, and Papa looked away again, to the nearing housekeeper and gardener. “There are the Wesleys. Time to go.”

A million arguments sprang to her tongue. She didn’t want to leave. Not her home, not him, not all she held dear. Not her first Season, the one that had been put off because of Mama’s illness last year. Not her friends.

And what about Sir Arthur? She hadn’t even spoken to him to tell him she was leaving, hadn’t dared send a note. “Papa, Sir Arthur…”

“It isn’t to be, Gwyn, not now. Perhaps when this has passed, when it is safe for you to return.”

Tears burned, begging to be set loose, but she clenched her teeth and blinked. How had it come to this? Promise had finally shone its light again. Shopping with Aunt Gates had made it feel as though Mama were with her still. Making the rounds with her friends had finally distracted her from the loss. Getting vouchers for Almack’s, and then Sir Arthur’s court—she had, at long last, looked forward to the future.

“Please don’t cry, dear heart.” Papa thumbed away a wily tear that escaped her blockade and kissed her forehead again. “Up with you, now. You must be at the docks soon.”

Instead, she surged forward and wrapped her arms around him. “I don’t want to leave you, Papa. I can’t. Don’t make me go. Or come with me.”

He held her close. “Would that I could. Would that I didn’t have to bid goodbye, yet again, to the one who matters most.” He gave her another squeeze, another kiss, and then he set her back. His eyes were rimmed with red. “I love you, Gwyneth. Go with God.”

He let her go and pivoted on his heel, all but charging back into the house. She almost wished she could resent him, but how could she, seeing his struggle? Whatever his reasons, they must be valid.

And whatever his reasons, they must be dire. A shiver coursed up her spine and made the mist seem colder. Isaac Fairchild was a respected general, a man loved by all. A man of considerable sway in London and beyond. If there were something frightening enough that he must send her away, was planning on leaving himself—

And for America, no less. Would he be going there to take command of troops? Possibly. Though why would he be secretive about it? But then, there was much about Papa’s work he could not discuss. Secrets, always secrets.

“All’s secure, Miss Fairchild,” the driver called down from the bench.

She slipped the envelope into her reticule and took a step toward the Wesleys. They, at least, would provide familiar faces for the journey. They would be an anchor on the foreign seas.

Quick hoofbeats snagged her attention. “Miss Fairchild!”

Her eyes went wide when she saw the dashing figure astride the horse. Sir Arthur reined to a halt beside the carriage and leaped down, fervor ablaze in his eyes.

“Miss Fairchild.” He gripped her hands as he searched her face with his gaze. He had the loveliest brown eyes, so warm and beckoning, the perfect fit to his straight nose and sculpted mouth. “Is it true, then? Broffield just told me that Miss Gregory said you were leaving Town.”

“I…” He was holding her hands. Sir Arthur Hart, Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick, presumed heir to a viscountcy, the most sought-after bachelor in England, grasped her fingers as if he never intended to let go. The mass of confusion inside twisted. “Yes, it is true. My father…”

He eased closer, his gaze so compelling she feared she might drown in it. “Something to do with military business, then? You will return soon?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think Papa knows.”

“Dear Miss Fairchild. Gwyneth.” His fingers tightened around hers, much like the band around her chest. Never before had he spoken her given name. Hearing it in his rich tenor, spoken with such affection, made her fear her tears would overcome her after all. “Why must you go with him? Can you not stay here with your aunt?”

Her attempt at swallowing got stuck in her throat. “I am all Papa has now since my mother passed away, and he is loath to be separated.” True, so true. Why, then, was he sending her an ocean away to a hostile land?

“But surely there is a way to convince him. What if…” He paused and then swallowed before using their joined hands to pull her closer. “What if you were betrothed?”

Her heart quickened inside her, beating a desperate tattoo against her ribs. Would that change anything? Could it? “I…don’t know.”

“Gwyneth.” Oh, he made her name into music. The breeze toyed with his honey-colored hair under the brim of his hat, making her itch to touch the curls. “My darling, I have such a love and admiration for you. If you would feel inclined toward accepting my hand, I will speak with your father this very moment.”

At first all she could think was He proposed! Then she drew in a quick breath and nodded with too much enthusiasm. “Of course I am inclined if he agrees. Only…” She drew away when he moved closer still, recalling Papa’s discomposure mere minutes before. “Let me speak with him first, as he was out of countenance.”

“Certainly. Yes. Anything.” He laughed and raised her hands to kiss her knuckles. As if surprised she had said yes. “I will take a turn through your garden to try to calm myself.”

“Perfect.” If only she could be sure Papa would agree. If only she could be sure that, if not, Sir Arthur would wait for her. She pulled away, but he snagged her hand again.

“Gwyneth. Darling.” He smiled, so bright and handsome it made her doubt trouble could exist. “I will make you very happy.”

A smile stole onto her lips. It melted away again in a moment, but he had turned toward the garden by then.

Mrs. Wesley snagged her attention with a shooing motion toward the door. “You had better hurry, love. If the general does not change his mind, we must hasten on our way.”

Gwyneth flew through the mist up the steps to the door and back into the house. For a moment she paused to breathe in home, but she hadn’t time to savor it. If her mission went well, she needn’t say goodbye to it at all.

Please, Lord. Please let him relent.

She sped down the hallway and around the corner toward Papa’s study. He always ended up there, either busy at work or staring at the picture of Mama she’d painted for him. A professional portrait hung in the drawing room, but he said she had done the better job. Praise which always made her heart expand.

The study door was before her by the time she realized voices spilled out. Two of them—though when had anyone else arrived? Surely no servant would dare speak over Papa like this.

“Isaac, listen to yourself!”

Gwyneth froze a step from the door. It was open a crack, letting her look in, though only the corner of the desk was visible, and just behind it, where Papa stood. But she recognized Uncle Gates’s voice.

“‘Isaac’ now, is it?” Papa’s laugh sounded dry. “Odd how you only remember our familial ties when we disagree. Otherwise it is always my rank to which you appeal.”

A loud bang made Gwyneth jump. Uncle’s fist connecting with wood, perhaps? “Blast it, Fairchild, it’s your rank you are abusing!”

“No! ’Tis my rank I honor. Someone, Gates, must do what is right. Someone must stand for justice rather than—”

“Hang all that noble rot.” A nasty curse spilled from Uncle Gates’s lips as glass shattered. Gwyneth recoiled, staring in horror at the sliver of room. What keepsake had he destroyed? The vase Mama had chosen two years ago? The small porcelain figure Gwyneth had given Papa for his birthday when she was fifteen? Something precious, for only the most special pieces gained a place of honor on Papa’s shelves.

And why? Why would Mama’s own brother do such a thing?

He sent something else toppling. “You are undermining years of careful work! The Home Office—”

“The Home Office, you say?” Papa leaned forward onto his desk, a look of deathly calm upon his face. “Nay. The Home Office has decent men in it yet. A few, at least, though you are not one of them. This evil must be stopped, Gates. You must be stopped.”

There came a shuffling sound, one Gwyneth couldn’t comprehend but which made Papa snap upright. Made him lift his hands, palms out, and make a placating motion. “Gates—”

“I am through reasoning with you, Fairchild. Tell me where they are. Now.”

One of Papa’s hands lowered toward his desk drawer, but another shuffle made him pause. “I am only—”

“You think me so great a fool? I already removed that, dear brother.” More curses exploded from Uncle Gates. Closer now, as though he were rounding the desk, just out of her view. “Tell me where they are!”

Papa’s sharp inhalation was clearly audible. “Gone.”

“Gone? Gone? What do you mean, gone?”

“Just that. Out of my hands and on their way to those who can put a stop to this before you destroy two nations in the name of avarice.”

A cry tore through the room, guttural and animalistic. Light flashed on something metallic as her uncle charged into view, the gleaming length held before him. Still, she had no idea what he wielded until she saw the silver stained red.

She pressed her hands to her mouth to hold back the scream, hold back the horror, but it didn’t help. Uncle still hissed words of hatred. Papa still staggered back, away from the blade. Then he crumpled and fell.

Gates followed him down, muttering, “You couldn’t have, not yet. You must have it.” His hands shoved into Papa’s jacket and searched.

Papa, fight back! But he didn’t. He gasped, seemed to struggle for a moment, and then went lax. No. No, no, no, no, no!

Did she bleed too? She must. She couldn’t move, couldn’t make a sound, couldn’t be. Not anymore.

When Papa’s head lolled to the side, he blinked and his gaze focused on her. There was life yet in those familiar depths, but it flickered. Sputtered. “Gwyneth.”

She didn’t hear it. She just saw the movement of his lips. But her uncle, tossing Papa’s case of calling cards into the wall, snarled. “Now you worry about your darling daughter? Oh, have no fear, Fairchild. Dear Uncle Gates will take care of our precious girl.”

Bile burned her throat.

Papa blinked again as he tried to pull in a breath that choked him. Again his gaze sharpened, caught hers. This time when his lips moved, he made no sound whatsoever. Run!

Then it was gone, all the light in his eyes. Extinguished like a flame left before an open window.

And she ran. She turned on silent slippers and fled back around the corner and down the hall. Out the doors and straight into the waiting carriage.

“Gwyneth? Miss Fairchild?”

All she noted of the voice was that it wasn’t Uncle Gates’s. Nothing
else mattered. Seeing that the Wesleys were already seated, their eyes now wide, Gwyneth pulled the door shut herself. “Go!”

An eternal second later, the driver’s “Yah!” reached her ears, and the carriage jolted forward.

When she closed her eyes, all she could see was darkness yawning before her.


My Thoughts:
After having read Ring of Secrets, Book one in the Culper Ring series, I was wondering how this series was going to be continued especially where the spy ring AND the romance were concerned. I have to admit I was a little disappointed that there wasn't as much intrigue in this book as the first but there was definitely as much romance. Whispers from the Shadows was still a worthy read.

In Whispers from the Shadows we once again connect with the Lane family, but this time decades following the Revolutionary War -- in 1814 Baltimore. America is in the midst of a different war, but the ideals are still the same, fighting for freedom and finding faith, family, and love in the middle of it all. This book centered more on Gwyneth Fairchild and her desire to find a safe haven from a conniving and murderous relation and less on spying, however, there isn't a lack of drama. Gwyn, as a character, dealt with it realistically and was one of the more likeable characters I've "met" in a while. She isn't a tough as nails heroine but she isn't whiny or annoying which was the case with a few heroines I've come across lately.

If you enjoy stories set in the earliest period of the United States, then I recommend this book but if you're into history and the Culper Spy Ring then you might find this a bit lacking. I was also a bit frustrated that one of the main characters completely dropped out of the story with really no hint to what became of him. Still, Whispers from the Shadows is definitely worth the time and great for fans of clean, sigh-worthy romance! I really hope that the next book has more adventure and more danger behind enemy lines. If the epilogue of Whispers from the Shadows is any indication, I think we adventurous types will be in for a treat!

~ My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ~

Happy Reading!




We May Have a Serious Problem...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I'm sorry if I worried you at all with the title of this post, but I just found a new site that may be as addicting as Etsy! Have you ever heard of SpoonflowerSpoonflower makes custom print fabric!!!! Hello! Can you say geek girl heaven! I hadn't heard of the site until just today, and I have to say it could be a serious problem for me (and probably my mom too since she's the seamstress I'd hire to make everything).

I can imagine wearing a Doctor Who apron with fabric from risarocksit...

Stuff that

or carrying a Sherlock print wallet with this fabric from marchhare!

Sherlocked

The possibilities are endless with the huge variety of fabrics available on the site. Have any of you ordered from Spoonflower before? If so, was it a pleasant experience? Were you satisfied with your orders? Please share. :)




The Winner of the June New Releases Clash is...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The winner of our latest Clash is:

A Melody For James
by
Hallee Bridgeman

Congratulations, Hallee!

Special thanks to her competitors for their participation:

Carla Laureano
Michelle Griep
Cindy Thomson
Miralee Ferrell


About A Melody For James:

Solitary strangers meet during a stormy stopover. Hours later, their hearts hum a harmonious duet.

Melody Mason has the hottest female voice in the country music scene. But the cheers of throngs of adoring fans mean little in the absence of the handsome stranger who rescued her years before. Widower James Montgomery has never forgotten her. He prays God can bring her back.

Incredible events finally bring them face to face again. Together at last, they realize the bond between them has miraculously risen to a crescendo, melodiously marrying them like strong symphonic chords. Uncannily, they learn they share more in common than they could have ever imagined. They know God reunited them for a purpose.

Sinister forces threaten to destroy their new found happiness. The couple must work in close concert, placing all their faith in God as they solve the deadly mystery that ties their lives inexplicably together.

Fire, loss, and bloodshed cannot shake their faith in God to see them through as they face a percussive climax that leaves hearts and lives forever changed.


PURCHASE:


About the author:


Hallee Bridgeman lives with her husband and their three children in small town Kentucky. When she's not writing Christian romance novels, she blogs about all things cooking and homemaking at Hallee the Homemaker (http://www.halleethehomemaker.com).

Hallee started writing when her oldest child and only daughter was a baby, but a busy professional career and being the wife of a deployed soldier had her shelve her books for another time. Two more children, a cross country move, and God's perfect timing brought the books off of the shelf to be dusted off and presented to you now.

Join Hallee's Street Team -- Hallee's Allies -- find all of the information here: http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee/i-want-you-to-join-hallees-allies/

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit. She prays her books are a blessing to you and would love to hear back from you. You can reach Hallee at hallee@bridgemanfamily.com

What people are saying:
~~~~
This book has affected me on so many levels. I am so moved by it that I don't know where to begin this review. Me, who is usually never stuck for words! To say I'm stunned is an understatement. Friends, brothers and sisters, I never say I'm stunned by a book. Never. But I'm saying it now.

This is as taut a thriller as ever I've read. It's hard hitting and doesn't flinch from the bad stuff. Like any contemporary thriller, it's full of surprises. Explosions, bombs, bullets, missed connections, it's all there. What's not there is explicit sexual description and what is definitely not there is profanity. What a refreshing change! Hallee Bridgeman has gone and proved that you don't have to write dirty to get people's attention. That a book can thrum with sexual tension without a bed in sight. That actual evil and hatred can manifest itself on the printed page without a single swear word. And I truly believe, as a person who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised him from the dead, that this can only be accomplished by the power and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Hallelluia!

I praise and thank God for the gift of Hallee Bridgeman to readers, for her awesome talent and generosity of spirit in sharing this wonderful story. The Spirit of God is definitely present here and the Word of God and it's vibrant power is continuously present.

The plot, James and Melody's story, how they meet at a juncture of their lives and fall in love, to be reunited again several years later, is compulsive and will please readers of romance. The intrigue regarding the enemies who surround them will please the readers of thrillers. How this couple walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, fearing no evil will please spirit filled Christian believers. It is so true - if you live in the Word of God and the Word in you, no weapon formed against you shall prosper and ever tongue which rises against you shall be condemned.

Heavenly Father, I pray this wonderful novel will be read far and wide and help increase the faith of believers everywhere and bring faith to people who don't know the Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

~From Contemporary Romance Reviews (http://rbh-contemporary.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-melody-for-james-by-hallee-bridgeman.html)

Click here to see the author discuss the book herself!! http://youtu.be/np3EQK3VFh4

Thank you all so much. This has been a tremendous clash! Join us again for our July New Releases, coming soon! :)

Happy Reading!


This is a Doctor Who Post...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

If you've been on the Internet at all today I'm sure you probably saw mentioned the latest Doctor Who news -- we have a new Doctor! Usually, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the actors that the Doctor Who showrunners choose but I kind of saw this one coming! As much as I adore Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor, I'm so thrilled to see an older, more mature actor fill the beloved role. I LOVED Peter Capaldi in BBC's The Hour (don't get me started on how I feel about THAT series getting cut short) so I really think he has the chops to play Doctor. Even though Capaldi's considerably older than when Smith first appeared on the screen as a Time Lord, I don't think it's going to take much to get used to him. However, it's not going to be pretty at Black 'n Gold Girl's house when the Doctor regenerates, I've become quite attached to the awkward, clumsy, Matt Smith Doctor. I'm just so happy that the stress of not knowing who Twelve was going to be is over with, now we Whovians just have to save our strength to make it until the 50th anniversary specials! Between Who and Sherlock the BBC sure does know how to test us, don't they?! *le sigh*

Here's the big reveal in case you missed it!


To read more about the new Doctor visit BBC America's website:
http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/08/doctor-who-peter-capaldi-announced-as-the-twelfth-doctor/


FINALLY! A Sneak Peek at Sherlock, Series 3!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Apparently, I should go on bike rides everyday. The universe is trying to tell me that it's a good thing to try and get healthy and as a reward decided to gift me with this lovely Sherlock, Series 3 teaser trailer. Facebook and other social sites were exploding with posts and messages about the series when I popped online during my cool down session a few minutes ago. So much for cooling down.... I'm going to aim for 30 miles on the trail next instead of 15.5 miles, with hopes I get rewarded with an actual episode! Who am I kidding, the 30 miles on the trail will probably happen waaaay before series 3. What an optimist, eh? Ha ha! Well I hope you all enjoy this little tidbit as much as I did, I think I've watched it 10 times already. I threw in a "bonus" that I found from the Hey, Sherlock... Tumblr page that you might enjoy too. ;-)


Photo with text from: Hey, Sherlock... Tumblr



Watch Broadchurch, Episode One Before the US TV Premiere!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Photo from BBCAMERICA.COM

BBC's next series, Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman premieres this weekend and promises to be a good one. Thanks to BBC America, US residents can check out the first episode free for a limited time on their website before it premieres on TV. I'm definitely going to be watching since I have a thing for David Tennant (two words -- The Doctor) and lately, mysteries! I hope you all enjoy!


Watch Broadchurch, Episode One here:

Here's a little about the series from the BBC America site...

BBC AMERICA’s “Broadchurch,” which earned critical acclaim, including BAFTA nods, and broken records on Twitter in the UK, centers on the investigation into the murder of a young boy in a British seaside town.

Leading the investigation are two detectives – the strong yet compassionate local Detective Sergeant, Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), and the by-the-book Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant), Ellie’s newly appointed boss.

By circumstance they are partnered to solve the murder, keeping the newspapers from derailing the investigation and trying to prevent the crime from impacting tourism at the beach where the boy was murdered.

The cast also includes Jodie Whittaker as Beth, Andrew Buchan as Mark, Will Mellor playing Stephen Turner and sees Arthur Darvill as the town priest Paul Coates. The series is created and written by Chris Chibnall and executive produced by Chibnall and Jane Featherstone.

Broadchurch airs Wednesday, August 7 at 10:00pm ET/PT as part of Dramaville.