Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"SAMUEL CRADDOCK MYSTERIES"--Author Terry Shames' retired, small-town Texas lawman can't stay away from big trouble--and he can't stay retired!

"A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge" is the fourth entry in the "Samuel Craddock Mysteries" from author Terry Shames. If you haven't read the first three books in the series, I highly recommend reading all four books in order--you will really enjoy them as a reader's treat! 

A Killing at Cotton Hill

The chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in. He discovers that a lot of people had it in for Dora Lee. The conniving rascals on the farm next door want her land for nefarious purposes; her estranged daughter could be seeking vengeance; her grandson wants money for art school; and then there's that stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. Does Craddock still have what it takes to find the killer? In this debut novel, the strong, compelling voice of Samuel Craddock illuminates the grandeur and loneliness of the central Texas landscape and reveals the human foibles of the residents in a small Texas town-their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues.

The Last Death of Jack Harbin
The shocking murder of a wounded veteran challenges the investigative skills of ex-chief Samuel Craddock.

Just before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek, Texas, signed up for the army. But Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven't spoken since. Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, it's up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and betrayals, Craddock discovers dark secrets of the past and present to solve the mystery of Jack's death.

Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek
Jarrett Creek is bankrupt. Gary Dellmore, heir apparent to the main bank, is dead, apparently murdered. Samuel Craddock thought he was retired but now he's been asked to return as police chief. Dellmore supposedly had a roving eye, although his wife says he was never serious about dallying. Still, Craddock wonders: Did the husbands and fathers of women he flirted with think he was harmless? What about his current lover, who insists that Dellmore was going to leave his wife for her?

Craddock discovers that Dellmore had a record of bad business investments. Even worse, he took a kickback from a loan he procured, which ultimately drove the town into bankruptcy. Many people had motive to want Dellmore dead.

Then the investigation turns up another crime. As Craddock digs down to the root of this mess, many in Jarrett Creek are left wondering what happened to the innocence of their close-knit community.

 A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge: A Samuel Craddock Mystery

In the course of their developing friendship, Samuel Craddock has learned to accept that his neighbor Jenny Sandstone’s personal life is strictly secret. But when her dying mother tells Craddock that Jenny is in danger, he is confronted with a dilemma. He wants to respect Jenny's privacy, but he is haunted by the urgency in the dying woman's voice.

When Jenny is the victim of a suspicious car accident, Craddock has no choice but to get involved. He demands that she tell him what he needs to know to protect her and to solve the mysteries surrounding the strange events that began taking place as soon as Jenny’s mother passed away.

Forced to confront the past, Jenny plunges into a downward spiral of rage and despair. She is drinking heavily and seems bent on self-destruction. Craddock must tread lightly as he tries to find out who is behind the threats to her. But only by getting to the bottom of the secrets buried in Jenny’s past can he hope to save her both from herself and from whoever is out to harm her.

Terry Shames

From an early age, Terry Shames wrote stories based on the small town in Texas where her grandparents lived. Her Samuel Craddock mysteries, A Killing at Cotton Hill and The Last Death of Jack Harbin are set in a fictional version of the town that sparked her imagination. Terry lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband, two rowdy terriers and a mature cat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

AUTHOR JODI THOMAS--a talented storyteller whose captivating romantic tales always offer something extra--her "HARMONY, TEXAS" series takes you home to where hearts are waiting

One True Heart (Harmony, #8)
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas takes us back to Harmony, Texas—a small town where love blooms and secrets of the past threaten to alter the future…

Millanie McAllen is always logical. But after returning to her childhood home, she learns that some things are beyond explanation—like her undeniable passion for Drew Cunningham…

After finding success as a singer on the road, Beau Yates returns to Harmony to make peace with his dying father—only to find the woman he’s been dreaming of for years. But the secrets they discover might be too much for him to bear…

When Johnny Wheeler is charged with his wife’s murder, he turns to the only person who believes he’s innocent. Fortune teller Kare Cunningham’s life has always danced around reality—but Johnny is able to ground her like no other…

As their paths cross in new, captivating directions, the townspeople of Harmony need to learn to love and let go in order to live together in their little slice of heaven.
 A Place Called Harmony (Harmony series prequel)
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas has captivated America with her novels set in the small town of Harmony, Texas. Now she tells the story of the three hard-luck men who first settled the town, a place where last chances and long-awaited dreams collide…

Desperate to escape his overbearing father, Patrick McAllen disappears with his bride, heading north to build a new town—discovering strength, honor and true love along the way.

After drinking away the grief from his family’s death, Clint Truman avoids jail by taking a job in North Texas and settling down with a woman he vows to protect but never love—until her quiet compassion slowly breaks his hardened heart wide open…

All Gillian Matheson has ever known is Army life, leaving his true love to be a part-time spouse. But when a wounded Gillian returns home to find her desperately fighting to save their marriage, he’s determined to become the husband she deserves.

Amidst storms, outlaws, and unwelcome relatives, the three couples band together to build a town—and form a bond that breathes life into the place that will forever be called Harmony.
Betting the Rainbow (Harmony, #7)
~"Thomas knocks it out of the park again" --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas returns to the town of Harmony, Texas, where life has a way of making better plans than anyone ever imagined…

Sisters Abby and Dusti Delaney have spent their entire lives on Rainbow Lane, but they dream of something bigger. So when a poker tournament comes to town, Dusti is determined to win enough money to leave. Enlisting expert Kieron O’Brian to teach her the game, sparks begin to fly as they play their hands. But Kieron refuses to stand in the way of her dream, even if it means losing her forever...

After a year of traveling, Ronny Logan is settling into a home on Rainbow Lane, but that’s all the settling she’ll be doing. Ronny refuses to fall for anyone, regardless of the chemistry she has with her neighbor Austin Hawk. Yet something undeniable begins to grow between the two loners—if only they can let their barriers fall and open their hearts...
Can't Stop Believing (Harmony, #6)
In New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas’s small town of Harmony, Texas, there’s always something brewing" (Fallen Angel Reviews). Now, a generations-old feud is about to come to a head—and the stakes couldn’t be higher with two hearts on the line…

Cord McMillan gave up his freedom at eighteen when he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, ten years later, he’s about to give it up again for a piece of land. Nevada Britain, his neighbor, has just made him an offer he can’t refuse: If he’ll marry her, she’ll sign over a section of property that their families have been fighting over for a hundred years. Nevada refuses to explain why, but Cord knows the bargain is in his favor. He just has one condition—she has to sleep in his bed every night for as long as their doomed marriage lasts. Nevada only wants to maintain her family’s legacy—and redeem herself for a wrong she did Cord years ago. But as she spends more time with her husband by necessity, she discovers something unexpected—a love so deep it takes her breath away.
Chance of a Lifetime (Harmony, #5)
The Harmony novels are “Jodi Thomas all the way—super characters [and] lots of riveting subplots.”* Now the New York Times bestselling author takes us back to Harmony, Texas, where big dreams are brewing—and anything and everything is possible…

Emily, the local librarian, has started a writing group, but as the group stumbles through both the fiction and reality of their lives, they’re learning much more than how to write. But Emily suddenly has other things on her mind when a friend from her past shows up in Harmony's library. Now she must deal with a secret she’s kept for fifteen years—a secret that changed her life and threatens to shatter her future.

Meanwhile, new lawyer Rick Matheson thinks he’s in charge of his world until accidents start happening all around him. Just when he realizes someone is trying to kill him, he meets a beautiful U.S. Marshal named Trace Adam. Now that the marshal has given him an even stronger reason to go on living, he must learn to take a chance on life to dream bigger—and love better—than he ever has before...  

*Romance Reviews Today
Just Down the Road (Harmony, #4)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Chance of a Lifetime and The Comforts of Home...

Harmony, Texas, is a place where dreams are born. As the townspeople face unexpected endings and new beginnings, they also come face to face with themselves—and what’s most important in life...

When Tinch Turner lost his wife, he gave up on living. Now he spends his nights brooding, boozing, and brawling. When one of his escapades lands him in the ER, he finds himself staring up at the beautiful new doctor in town. For the first time in years, he feels a spark, but Addison Spencer wants nothing to do with the unruly rancher—or any man for that matter. She’s only in Harmony four months, long enough for the trouble she left behind to be over. But then a vulnerable little boy barrels into both their lives, forcing them out of the past—and into a future where love is just down the road...

In the meantime, as Reagan Truman grieves for her beloved uncle, she finds comfort in the makeshift family she’s made in Harmony—and in a new baby, the first born in the Wright Funeral Home in 45 years, proving to everyone that life does go on…
The Comforts of Home (Harmony, #3)
In Harmony, Texas, twenty-year-old Reagan Truman has found her place, and found her family. But with her uncle taken ill and her friend Noah lost and disheartened with his life, Reagan is afraid of ending up alone again, and she's not the only one. When a terrible storms threatens the town, the residents of Harmony are forced to think about what they really want. Because making the connections they so desperately desire means putting their hearts at risk...
Somewhere Along The Way (Harmony #2)

In the two years since she claimed Harmony, Texas, as her home, eighteen-year-old Reagan Truman has found herself drawn to others who have made their way there, too. Gabe Leary, for instance, whose plan to hide out in Harmony is dashed when he becomes the town hero. Then there's Liz Matheson: Vulnerable and fresh out of law school, Liz has never been needed by anyone --- until an unsettling encounter with Gabe changes everything. And there's Liz's brother, volunteer fire chief Hank Matheson, who's starting to wonder whether the town's sheriff, Alex McAllen, will ever set the date to marry him.

As for Reagan, who's been shaped by the loneliness she's known most of her life, she's finally found a place she belongs --- and doesn't want anything to get in her way. But when her life is put in jeopardy and the whole town comes together to save her, she'll discover that trusting the love that's come into our hearts is the greatest gift of all ...
Welcome to Harmony (Harmony #1)
The "Harmony, Texas" Saga Begins...
Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She's never had a real home of her own, but perhaps she could borrow someone else's. Under an assumed name and identity, she moves to Harmony, Texas, but keeps her distance from the welcoming townsfolk. Until prairie fires threaten Harmony-and Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home.
Jodi Thomas
New York Times and USA Today's bestselling author Jodi Thomas has published over 30 books in both the historical romance and contemporary genres, the majority of which are set in her home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls her novels "Distinctive...Memorable," and that in her stories "[tension] rides high, mixed with humor and kisses more passionate than most full-on love scenes." In 2006, Romance Writers of America (RITA) inducted Thomas into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN'S REWARD. She also received the National Readers' Choice Award in 2009 for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008). While continuing to work as a novelist, Thomas also functions as Writer in Residence at the West Texas A&M University campus, where she inspires students and alumni in their own writing pursuits.
Jodi Thomas says: "I'm a New York Times and USA Today Best Selling author, wife, mother, in-law, grandmother, sister, friend, and owner of one fat cat."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Author Kate Walker--pulse-pounding, dramatic, intensely-passionate contemporary romance!!!

Kate Walker  Kate Walker has been writing romance for over 25 years, and her contemporary love stories are classic tales of passion, filled with emotional twists and turns. Her characters allow us to live out our dreams through her words, and her story lines always offer something unexpected and intriguing. If you love intense romance reads which hold you enthralled from first page to last, then you will love the work of this amazing author. Kate's book list is quite extensive, and I have read and enjoyed many of her terrific titles through the years. For more information about Kate and her books, visit her website Here are several of my recent reviews for Kate Walker's wonderfully-written love stories:   

 Olivero's Outrageous Proposal


Two troubled hearts, beating to an emotional rhythm of revenge and retribution, find a resolution that offers much more than they expected in “Olivero’s Outrageous  Proposal”. Author Kate Walker excels at intense, dramatic storytelling, and this is a tale of a man and a woman with a mutual goal in mind, but each has very different, very personal reasons. Alyse Gregory must find a way to solve her family’s financial problems, thus ensuring help for her mother’s health issues. Dario Olivero has worked his way from the poverty of his youth and the sting of his illegitimacy to unimaginable wealth. He lacks for nothing that money can buy, but the one thing he wants is to triumph over the father and half-brother who rejected him all of his life. A marriage of convenience with Lady Alyse Gregory, whose family title still holds prestige, will be beneficial to them both. However, the attraction between them, which shot off sparks from the beginning, soon becomes a powerful need, and their relationship grows in ways neither of them ever imagined. As family truths emerge on both sides, will the deepening feelings between Alyse and Dario survive the harsh realities of their situation? Can it be love, and not just desire, that binds them together?

Review Copy Gratis Author

A Question of Honor


"A Question of Honor", an undeniable attraction, and a conflict of pride and passion. Author Kate Walker brings her trademark intensity to this dramatic tale of duty and desire. Karim Al Khalifa, bears his unexpected royal responsibilities with great determination. After the death of his older brother, Karim became his father's heir to the throne. Now Crown Prince of Markhazad, Karim must retrieve and return royal bride-to-be Clementina Savanevski, whose pre-arranged marriage to the future ruler of Rhastaan is a diplomatic necessity for more than one connected country. Dispatched by his own father to ensure the safe delivery of this most precious person, Karim is unprepared for how deeply he would be affected by Clemmie's alluring combination of seductive beauty and innocent nature. Clemmie knew her time in England living a free life was coming to an end, but she never expected her future to come calling for her in such a darkly handsome and magnetic escort. Their journey briefly delayed by inclement weather, their mutual attraction grows as passions and emotions are stirred. Each of them carries a secret, and each of them knows their familial duty. Resisting the explosive chemistry between them, they proceed with the preordained royal dictate, but will they be able to forget each other? Can a powerfully passionate attraction lead to a lifetime affair of the heart? A compelling romantic read from captivating storyteller Kate Walker.


Review Copy Gratis Author

A Throne for the Taking


"A Throne for the Taking" is a royal treat for readers, served up with sizzling style by author Kate Walker. A story line full of passion, poignancy, and intrigue is given life by two compelling characters, both driven by their own sense of duty. Honoria Escalona, Grand Duchess of Mecjorica, daughter of the High Chancellor, now at risk of losing everything she has ever known due to the misdeeds of her father. Forced to contact the one man she thought never to see again, Alexei Sarova, Honoria must somehow put aside her trepidation and convince Alexei to return to the land of his birth. The son of a royal father and a commoner mother, Alexei has every right to deny her request. At a young age, Alexei learned just how cruel court manipulations can be when his parents' marriage was declared invalid, making him illegitimate and ineligible to inherit the throne. He and his mother settled in England, and while Alexei became a successful international entrepreneur, he remained haunted by the injustice his family had suffered. Ten years have passed since Ria and Alexei have spoken, and now she has suddenly appeared, bearing proof of the legitimacy of Alexei's heritage. Friends in their youth, their relationship was strained by scandal. Now, Ria desperately needs his help, not just to restore order to the kingdom, but to save her from an unbearable arranged marriage. Stunned to find Ria at his business headquarters in England, Alexei has no intention of granting her wish. However, the more she pleads with him, the more he realizes that he has a longing to return home, a longing that has much to do with his intense attraction to the beautifully grown-up Ria. He will agree to her proposition, with one contingency--she will become his royal bride--for as long as he wants and needs her by his side. He respects her intelligence and regal persona, and he desires her beauty and vulnerability. When the time comes, will he be able to let her go? Ria can't help falling for the handsome, commanding Alexei, who underneath his imposing exterior, still has a tender heart. Can she trust him? Once you start reading "A Throne for the Taking", you will be caught in the spell of the drama and romance of author Kate Walker's storytelling.

Review Copy Gratis Author

The Return of the Stranger 


Author Kate Walker was inspired by a classic Gothic romance tale when she created "The Return of the Stranger", and she perfectly captured the darker, more brooding elements of the story in her own compelling style. As a young child, Heath Montanha had been rescued from street life by Mr. Nicholls and brought to live on the Nicholls farm in the shadow of the Charlton mansion. He had been close friends with young Catherine Nicholls, but he was always resented and rejected by her brother, Joe. Heath's dark, handsome looks and air of mystery earned him the label of "gypsy", and the local society kept him at a distance. After the death of Catherine's father, her brother Joe took over the farm, and his treatment of Heath became unbearable. Heath soon left everything behind and went to make his mark in the world. Ten years later, a wealthy and powerful man, he returns to the Yorkshire countryside with vengeance on his mind. Thinking that Catherine had betrayed him a decade ago, he wants to hurt her as she hurt him. In his absence, she had married Arthur Charlton, the son of the rich, entitled neighbors of the Nicholls farm. Now widowed, Catherine is facing financial disaster as well as the emotional repercussions of her late husband's debauched lifestyle. Heath and Catherine are both startled by the depth of their mutual attraction, which wars with bitter hurt. Despite Heath's long-simmering desire for Catherine, he remains determined to carry out his plan of revenge against Catherine and her brother, Joe. Heath has secrets which will change the lives of Catherine and her family forever, but will spending time with Catherine and her young nephew soften his hardened heart? Catherine never knew the real reason that Heath left so long ago, and her life has not been the pleasant picture painted for society. Her husband's cruelty and deceptions have left her with little self-esteem--can she trust the love she feels for Heath? "The Return of the Stranger" is a passionate, atmospheric reunion romance with a delicious touch of Gothic darkness. 

 The Italian's Forced Bride


Passion and emotion are equally powerful in author Kate Walker's poignant romance, "The Italian's Forced Bride". Domenico Parrisi never gave his heart, and no woman ever walked out on him. What he started, he brought to a halt when the time came. He worked hard, building his own fortune in the computer industry, and when he had time, he played just as hard as he worked. When he met Alice Howard, he never expected that she would be the exception to the rule. On a working holiday in Florence, Italy, Alice met Domenico at the restaurant where she waitressed. The chemistry was instant and combustible, and an immediate, highly passionate affair ensued. Domenico made it clear from the start that he had no interest in marriage--he had no interest in commitment. Alice tried to listen, letting her body do the thinking, but her heart had a louder voice. She fell in love, and then fell prey to vicious gossip about the Domenico and his "other woman". She left him and returned to England. Two months later, she sends word that she must speak with him, and soon he is angrily ringing the bell to her small cottage. Their meeting is fiery, passionate, and then changes all together when he discovers she is pregnant. He insists that they marry, but before the ceremony can take place, their child is lost to a miscarriage. Will the emotion which so often was hidden by the passion between fully bloom into a lasting love? Domenico is much more than the hard-edged business mogul known to the world, but can he let go of painful childhood secrets and trust his heart to Alice? Does she have the courage to once again take a chance on loving him? The title, "The Italian's Forced Bride", doesn't really do justice to this compelling romance from talented author Kate Walker. If you love heart-felt romance blended with sizzling passion, then you will very much enjoy this book.

The Proud Wife

THE PROUD WIFE  by Kate Walker

"The Proud Wife" wants nothing from the husband from whom she has been separated for two years. She keeps telling herself this over and over, right up until the moment she is once again face to face with the man she married. In author Kate Walker's touching, tempestuous romance, Englishwoman Marina Emerson was swept off her feet by the captivating charm of Prince Pietro D'inzeo of Sicily. Their whirlwind of passion resulted in an unplanned pregnancy and a quick marriage. Tragically, the baby was lost due to miscarriage, and the initial happiness between them was lost as well. Miscommunication and emotional barriers grew to the point where Marina could bear no more, and she left Pietro and his family home and returned to England. Two years later, Marina receives a royal summons from her princely husband to come to Sicily and officially end their marriage. Once they are in each other's company again, banked embers burst into life, and powerful emotions come to the surface. Both confused and filled with unexpected longing, can Marina and Pietro bring back to life the love they had thought to be long-dead? Can they face the issues which drove them apart and grow together as each of them grows as an individual? "The Proud Wife" is an intense, satisfying romance full of passion and emotional conflict.    

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"HOME IN HEARTLANDIA"--Author Lynne Marshall's involving and intriguing contemporary romance series---well-crafted romantic fiction

A Doctor for Keeps
Her lifelong search for home...
Desdemona Rask never knew much about her family. Now she is finally getting a chance to learn about her roots in the town of Heartlandia. For the first time, Desi feels as if there's somewhere she belongs...but there's more to her welcome home than she expected! Her grandmother's next-door neighbor looks like a Viking warrior, and he's giving Desi all sorts of unwelcome feelings......might be closer than she thinks!

Caring for his son, Steven, is single dad Dr. Kent Larson's first priority. But the boy's stunning new piano teacher makes him take a second look at his to-do list. Still, he's lost at love before - how could he risk another heart-battering? Does the doctor dare to go all in?
MY REVIEW:  One of my favorite authors, Lynne Marshall, begins her "Home in Heartlandia" series with "A Doctor for Keeps". The storyline is set in the charming community of Heartlandia, by the Columbia River, along the ruggedly beautiful coast of Oregon. For as long as she can remember, Desdemona Rask, known as "Desi", has longed to touch base with her heritage. After her mother's death, Desi visits her grandmother, Gerda, a piano teacher who is also the mayor of Heartlandia. Desi's mother, Ester, had left home after becoming pregnant--she and her family were Scandinavian, and Desi's father was African-American. Ester had inherited Gerda's musical talent, and she passed it along to Desi. After years on the road, traveling from city to city as an entertainer for a large hotel chain, Ester succumbed to cancer. Desi turned to the only family she knew--the grandmother whom she had only seen a few times in her life. Her grandmother's handsome next-door neighbor, Dr. Kent Larson, has the tall, blonde appeal of his Nordic ancestry, and his little son, Steven is a real charmer. As Desi steps in to help Gerda with her piano students, she becomes friends with Kent and Steven, who is taking lessons. Kent thinks Desi is special from the first time he lays eyes on her, but the pain from his wife's abandonment of him and his son has left him with a guarded heart. Desi is equally smitten with her "Viking", but until she finds out the real truth of her parentage and her family history, she doesn't feel able to commit to Kent, which also means a commitment to a young boy who desperately wants a mother. Is love the key to unlock all mysteries? Will hearts full of hope find a way to take the best of the past and make the most of the future? Lovers of well-crafted contemporary romantic fiction will find a reader's home in "Heartlandia".
Review Copy Gratis Author
Her Perfect Proposal

Journalist Lilly Matsuda just writes headlines; she doesn't make them. That is, until she runs afoul of Gunnar Norling while on assignment in the tiny town of Heartlandia. The handsome policeman intrigues more than Lilly's investigative senses…but she isn't going to let Gunnar's megawatt smile or smoldering good looks melt her heart.

Gunnar isn't a fan of people snooping around Heartlandia. He's been sworn to secrecy about the town's mysterious past, and he refuses to compromise that for anyone…even beautiful Lilly, who's hot on the story's trail. Besides, she's not going to stick around forever, and Gunnar refuses to let his heart get trampled on—unless Lilly decides to put love first!
MY REVIEW:   Author Lynne Marshall returns readers to the fictional community of Heartlandia with "Her Perfect Proposal", Book Two in the "Home in Heartlandia" series. Petite powerhouse Lilly Matsuda, a thirty-year old journalist from a well-to-do family, has decided to move forward with her own choices in life. Leaving San Francisco behind to work for a small-town newspaper, with a secret plan to buy out the paper and start it over fresh in her style of reporting, seemed like the way to go. Beginning with police officer Gunnar Norling, who reprimands her for jaywalking, Lilly finds that small towns often offer up big surprises. Gunnar, gorgeous, green-eyed, and definitely not lacking in confidence, is knocked for a loop by the dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty who shows him that short and sassy is sexy, indeed. While Lilly scents out leads involving a possible headline-making story about the town's history, Gunnar is working just as hard to keep that story under wraps until a select committee of townspeople can figure out how to handle the backlash the revelations may bring. Sparks fly between the handsome lawman and the lovely lady journalist, but will their fiery attraction lead to something more? Is there a way for them to merge his concern for the community and her reporter's instincts into a mutually rewarding compromise? Will a love story turn out to be the top headline after all? "Her Perfect Proposal" is a charmingly compelling contemporary romance from talented storyteller Lynne Marshall.

Review Copy Gratis Author
Falling for the Mom-to-Be

Leif Andersen wants to be alone. Everyone in Heartlandia knows about his tragic past and they allow him to keep to himself. With his blue eyes and blond hair, the rugged workaholic contractor might be an "excellent catch." But he has zero interest in being caught…until Marta Hoyas moves into his house while she is working for him. 

Marta wants to be alone. Her baby's father dumped her. The last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement with a gorgeous guy who can offer no promises.  

Leif and Marta want each other. All that stands between them is the past…and the future. And a little baby who could give them both what they need most!
 Lynne Marshall
Lynne used to worry she had a serious problem with daydreaming, then she discovered she was supposed to write the stories in her head. A late bloomer, Lynne came to fiction writing after her children were nearly grown. Now she battles the empty nest by writing stories which always include a romance, sometimes medicine, a dose of mirth, or both, but always stories from her heart. She is a Southern California native, married for almost thirty years, has two adult children she is super proud of, is a dog lover, cat admirer, a power walker, and fellow traveler on this wild road called life!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"MAMAN'S HOMESICK PIE: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen" by Donia Bijan--a wonderful treat to read--highly recommended!!

A review and reading recommendation ...

"Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen", by Donia Bijan, is exquisite. If I could, I would give it a "10 star" review! Both beautiful and heartbreaking, this very personal story is as emotional as it is entertaining. More than a memoir, it is a celebration of food, life, and indomitable human spirit. No one has a perfect family. The more we try to deny that we are like our mother, the more we become our mother. I don't think we really appreciate our elders until we have ourselves "gently matured". The introduction of "Maman's Homesick Pie" tells of the author's experience in packing up her mother's things after her mother's death. The memories that came rolling in like unstoppable waves as she touched all the "treasures" that her mother had saved through the years were met with both laughter and tears. The story is remarkable in the telling of what the author's family life was like before they were forced into exile from their native Iran and how they later found a new life in California. It is amazing in how the human spirit can renew itself and not only survive, but thrive. The ways in which the author's mother learned to adapt and combine two cultures in cooking and other aspects of life is inspiring, and it is also a thoughtful source of enlightenment about human dignity. The preparation and sharing of food is an innate, intuitive, and instinctive process. Food is present for all the important occasions in our lives, both joyful and sad. For me, this book was a lovely, lyrical introduction to another culture and also greater insight into the culinary world. Even though we are very different, in many ways we face the same life issues. Women need to support each other. We understand each other in ways that men cannot always comprehend. As I write this review, it is a cold, wintry day here in the mountains of Virginia. I have a pot of vegetable-beef soup simmering on the stove, and the combined smell of bay leaves and other savory ingredients is swirling around me as I put together my thoughts. As if that wasn't enough of a treat, I just took two loaves of yeasty, crusty bread from the oven. Simple food, yet soulful and satisfying. Food is a universal communicator, even when it is spoken in different languages. Donia Bijan's recipes, along with "Maman's", are tempting me to cook outside my "kitchen box"! The only thing better than reading this book would have been to taste the food as I read the story. "Maman's Homesick Pie" is a wonderful gift from author Donia Bijan. It is absolutely perfect for lovers of food and books--just like me. It is especially touching for those of us who had someone like "Maman", and it is even more poignant for those who long for the special magic of someone as unequaled and irreplaceable as "Maman".

Review Copy Gratis Algonquin Books    

Book Review: "PIECES OF YOU"--Author Loreth Anne White has created an intriguing tale, perfectly placed in the mountains of Canada, which become a character unto themselves


PIECES OF YOU  by Loreth Anne White 

From the crossroads of small town mystery and dark suspense comes a romance that explores the bonds of family, the power of love, and the potentially explosive collateral damage of the secrets we keep... Sometimes a contract to forget can be as powerful as a promise to remember...

An ex-con, wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime, returns to a small mountain town determined to prove his innocence, reclaim the heart of the woman who helped put him behind bars, and win back the right to meet the daughter he learned about in prison. But his arrival stirs up dark secrets and re-ignites a fierce and consuming passion that just might get the woman he loves, and his child, killed.

Nine years ago Rachel Salonen and Jeb Cullen were soul mates--deeply, irrevocably in love. Until the night two young women went missing from a party in the woods. One was found raped, beaten and pregnant with no memory of what happened. The other is still missing. A small mountain community was torn apart and a young relationship shattered when nineteen-year-old Jeb was arrested for the heinous crime, and Rachel was forced to help put the man she loved behind bars. Now, nine years later, Rachel believes she's finally put the past to rest when her sister dies suddenly in a fire and she's made guardian of her adopted niece. A child, she learns, who was conceived that terrible night of violence, a child whose DNA was used to convict Jeb. And when Jeb is unexpectedly released from max security, Rachel sees that the past has only just begun... ...

Because Jeb has come straight home to Snowy Creek. To prove his innocence, reclaim his life, his home. And to meet the daughter he learned about in prison. A daughter Rachel will do anything to protect. And when the town turns violently on Jeb, Rachel will once again be forced to take sides. This time she chooses with her heart. But her decision could cost everything she holds dear--including her niece's life. Because someone in town will do anything to keep the truth buried...even kill.


Richly atmospheric with its rural Canadian setting, "Pieces of You", from author Loreth Anne White, is a terrific romantic suspense thriller. An engrossing story line and compelling characters will keep readers involved from beginning to end. Small towns like the ski resort community of Snowy Creek sometimes hold big secrets. People are very interconnected. What happens to one person affects someone else, and the ripple effect is started. Rachel Salonen and Jeb Cullen met in school and formed a deep friendship which later turned to young love. Jeb was from "the wrong side of the river", his mixed cultural heritage and dark good looks giving him an air of danger. Rachel was a "golden girl", a star athlete and darling daughter of Snowy Creek. Few approved of the relationship, but the bond between them was intense. A heated argument about the course of their involvement had tragic, lasting consequences for Jeb and Rachel. An impetuous mistake placed Jeb in the wrong place at the wrong time, setting him up to take the fall for a brutal rape and kidnapping. Just as his young adult life was beginning, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison for a crime he didn't commit. Rachel was devastated, and her hurt led to a traumatic skiing injury which ended her career as a medal-winning competitor. After almost a decade, Jeb's conviction is overturned, and he returns to Snowy Creek determined to find the real perpetrator so that his name can be truly cleared. He also dreams of making amends with Rachel, whom he has never stopped loving. There's someone else he needs to find--the daughter who was conceived on the night that changed all their lives forever. Jeb's return to Snowy Creek brings unease to those who bear the weight of guilt, and violence is once again the outcome. There's more than one danger in the close-knit community, and the real evil is more heinous than anyone suspects. As Rachel and Jeb make their way back toward each other, they are threatened and harassed, and they try desperately to protect Jeb's daughter, Quinn. Rachel's sister Sophia and her husband had adopted Quinn as a baby without telling anyone the identity of her real parents. After Sophia and her husband were killed in a fire, Rachel became Quinn's guardian. But can she guard her heart from Jeb? Can Jeb prove his innocence and protect the lives of his child and the woman holds the key to his heart? Human horrors are not the only things to be feared as drought conditions turn into a raging fire which threatens to consume the community. What truths will be revealed? Who will survive? Author Loreth Anne White has created an intriguing tale, perfectly placed in the mountains of Canada, which become a character unto themselves.

Review Copy Gratis Author 


Loreth Anne White 

Loreth Anne White is a multi-published author of award-winning romantic suspense and mystery. Loreth is a double RITA nominee. She has won the Romantic Times Reviewers' choice award for Romantic Suspense, is a double Romantic Times Reviewers' choice award finalist, a double Daphne Du Maurier finalist, and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers' choice winner.

She hails from southern Africa, but now lives in a ski resort in the moody Coast Mountain range. It's a place of vast, wild and often dangerous mountains, larger-than-life characters, epic adventure, and romance -- the perfect place to escape reality. And the perfect inspiration for her Snowy Creek series!

It's no wonder it was here she was inspired to abandon a 16-year newspaper career to escape into a world of romantic fiction filled with dangerous men and adventurous women.​ When she's not writing you will find her skiing, biking or hiking the trails with her Black Dog, and generally trying to avoid the bears - albeit not very successfully. She calls this work, because it's when the best ideas come.

The first in her Snowy Creek small town Romantic Suspense series - PIECES OF YOU - is out now!

"The House that Love Built"--Author Beth Wiseman's touching romance brings together a family made with hearts and hope

The House that Love Built

Brooke has only loved one man. Owen's heart is filled with bitterness. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?

In the small town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising six-year-old Meghan and ten-year-old Spencer on her own two years after her husband's death. Being a single-mom and running the family's local hardware store keep her busy.

While Meghan longs for a daddy, Spencer has threatened to run away if Brooke even goes out on a date. But the last thing on Brooke's mind is falling in love. When a stranger moves to town and buys a house with a mysterious past, Brooke can't contain her curiosity. As she spends time with the new owner, she wonders if maybe God is giving her another chance at happiness.

Owen Saunders fled the big city to start over in a small, rural town famous for baking the world's largest gingerbread man. Then he bought an old house to restore-for all the wrong reasons. If anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart in the aftermath of his failed marriage. With little hope and lost faith, Owen is tempted by happiness when he meets Brooke, but his heart remains sealed shut. As they learn more about Owen's house, one thing becomes obvious to both of them: God has put them together for a reason.

A house made of brick and mortar is not a home unless love lives there. A family may share genetics and blood history, or it could be a collection of misfits brought together through need, companionship, and love. In "The House that Love Built", author Beth Wiseman beautifully illustrates through words how the emotions and ideology of family and friendship eventually blur along the lines, and something wonderful and unique is born. Brooke Holloway has learned to keep moving forward, despite the devastating loss of her true love, her husband Travis. Dealing with his death, raising their two young children, and running her family's hardware business are what drives her days. She doesn't think that there will ever be another love in her life. Owen Saunders is a bitter man whose disastrous marriage and painful divorce have left him mistrustful and isolated from even thinking of another romantic relationship. He buys an old house to renovate in Smithville, TX--not because he really wants to live there--but to spite his ex-wife, Virginia, who has long dreamed of buying such a house. Owen and Brooke meet when he begins his many trips to the hardware store for supplies. She has long been curious about the Old Hadley Mansion, the house that Owen now owns, and she has an itch to see inside the place and find out if rumors of a hidden treasure are really true. Eventually Owen and Brooke form a friendship, and over time their relationship deepens into something more--but will past hurt and loss keep them from reaching for a bright and happy future? The Lord above truly does work in mysterious ways--his master plan has long been in place, and we come into it with his eyes upon us. Beth Wiseman is an author who writes with humor, poignancy, hope, and faith, and in "The House that Love Built", it is hearts and hope that bring together a one-of-a-kind family made with love. Recommended for those who realize that acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption are ours to be had when we allow love and abiding faith to light our way.

Review Copy Gratis Thomas Nelson Publishers via Booksneeze

REVIEW: "Motherland"--sweeping WWII saga from acclaimed author & screenwriter William Nicholson

You come from a long line of mistakes, Guy Caulder tells his daughter Alice. My mother married the wrong man. Her mother did the same.


At the end of a love affair, Alice journeys to Normandy to meet Guy's mother, the grandmother she has never known. She tells her granddaughter that, in spite of the troubles her family has faced, there was one true love story in her past.


In the summer of 1942, Kitty is an ATS driver stationed in Sussex. She meets Ed, a Royal Marine commando, and Larry, a liaison officer with Combined Operations under the command of Louis Mountbatten. Kitty falls instantly in love with Ed, who falls in love with her. So does Larry.


Mountbatten mounts a sea borne raid on the beaches of German-occupied Dieppe in northern France. One of the worst disasters of the war, it has a profound effect on both Larry and Ed, and its repercussions will echo through the generations to come.
Accomplished author William Nicholson struck a resonant chord with me as a reader in "Motherland", a sweeping tale of romance, human drama, and survival. I am deeply drawn to the poignancy, passion, and patriotism of the WWII era. I am in my early fifties, and the stories told to me by my mother and her parents of life during this time helped to shape the person I am today. I also had a very dear friend, an older gentleman who had served as a US Navy gunnery sighter aboard a noted WWII battleship in the Pacific. His vivid recollections of his combat experiences are just like photos in my own mind. "Motherland" begins with a young woman meeting her grandmother for the first time. Born out of wedlock to a disinterested father, Guy Caulder, Alice Dickinson is eager to pull the pieces of her disjointed heritage together. Surprisingly, during one of her rare shared moments with her father, he informs her that his mother is very much alive and living in Normandy, France. Alice journeys to meet her grandmother, Pamela Avenell, whose remembrances of her own mother, Kitty Teale, and the two men whom she loved, and was loved by in return: Ed Avenell and Larry Cornford are intertwined with the horrors and heroism of WWII. In Sussex, England, in 1942, Kitty was a young and pretty army driver who met Ed, a Royal Marine commando, and Larry, a liaison officer. Kitty and Ed soon fall in love, but Larry also loves Kitty. The two men go off to war, with Ed returning a war hero and claiming Kitty as his prize. However, the war which changed the world forever has left its mark on Ed, a mark which tragically remained indelible. As the years pass, the darkness which often overcomes Ed casts a shadow upon his life with Kitty, and she is more and more drawn to Larry for comfort. Eventually, after years of yearning, Kitty and Larry will be together, but not without great personal cost. "Motherland" is much more than a complex love story. It is the story of humankind in the midst of a mighty battle against an evil and insidious foe. While one side may eventually surrender the victory to its opponent, a war never really ends. Its effects are widespread and consuming, with spots of hope for humanity rising here and there from the ashes. William Nicholson has written a well-researched, thoughtfully-told tale of heartbreak and redemption. For many survivors of war, their day-to-day lives are ever filled with sights and sounds from a battle fought long ago--their memories never fade.

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine

Author William Nicholson
William Nicholson

Author William Nicholson is also one of the most successful Hollywood scriptwriters, twice Oscar nominated, the go-to man for big characters, big stories and worldwide audiences. From Shadowlands to Gladiator, to the current Les Misérables and next A Long Walk To Freedom — the Nelson Mandela biopic being released later this year.

William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. He was educated at Downside School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, and then joined BBC Television, where he worked as a documentary film maker. There his ambition to write, directed first into novels, was channeled into television drama. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story , both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March . In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society’s Writer’s Award. His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for the stage, was Evening Standard Best Play of 1990, and went on to a Tony Award winning run on Broadway. He was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of the film version, which was directed by Richard Attenborough and starred Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

Since then he has written more films – Sarafina, Nell, First Knight, Grey Owl , Gladiator (as co-writer), for which he received a second Oscar nomination, and Elizabeth: the Golden Age. He has written and directed his own film, Firelight; and four further stage plays, Map of the Heart, Katherine Howard, The Retreat from Moscow , which ran for five months on Broadway and received three Tony Award nominations, and Crash.
His novel for older children, The Wind Singer, won the Smarties Prize Gold Award on publication in 2000, and the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2001. Its sequel, Slaves of the Mastery , was published in 2001, and the final volume in the trilogy, Firesong , in 2002. The trilogy has been sold in every major foreign market, from the US to China.

His second sequence of fantasy novels is called The Noble Warriors. The first book is Seeker (2005), the second book, Jango (2006) and the third book Noman (2007).

His novels for adults are The Society of Others (2004), The Trial of True Love (2005), The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life (2009), All the Hopeful Lovers (2010) and The Golden Hour (2011).

His love-and-sex novel for teens, Rich and Mad, was published in 2010.

He lives in Sussex, England with his wife Virginia and their three children.

"BORDERS OF THE HEART"--by author Chris Fabry--exciting, inspirational romantic suspense from a skilled storyteller


"BORDERS OF THE HEART"--by author Chris Fabry--exciting, inspirational romantic suspense from a skilled storyteller

Every life has a turning point, where one choice changes everything. Once that line is crossed, there's no going back. J.D. Jessup finds his line in the desert near Tucson, as far from his home as the moon. He's traded his guitar and the songs in his head for the daily grind of an organic farm—a mind-numbing existence that dulls the pain of his memories. His boss has one rule: if J.D. sees an "illegal," call the Border Patrol.

But when an early morning ride along the fence line leads him to Maria, a beautiful young woman near death, J.D.'s heart pushes him toward another choice. Longing to atone for the mistakes that drove him to the desert, J.D. hides her and unleashes a chain of deadly events he could never have imagined. Soon the two are running from a killer and struggling to stay alive. As the secrets that haunt him collide with Maria's past, J.D. realizes that saving her may be the only way to save himself. Part thrill ride, part love story, Borders of the Heart is a tender yet gripping odyssey of hope.

MY REVIEW:  Once you pick up "Borders of the Heart", by author Chris Fabry, you won't be able to put it down. You will also want to read every other book written by Chris Fabry. In this timeless tale of loss, grief, survival, and love, a man tries to escape the reality of his life by losing himself in hard work and the encompassing heat of the desert. What he ultimately discovers is that when you run from the truth, it runs right along beside you. When he can no longer bear the grief of his wife's death from cancer, and he has lost the creative spark behind his songwriting and singing, J.D. Jessup heads to the West and the desert. He finds work on an organic farm in Arizona, and his employer adamantly advises him to report any sighting of illegal immigrants to Border Patrol. One morning on his regular route of checking the fence lines, his contemplation of where he was and how he came to be there is shockingly disturbed by the discovery of the body of a young woman face down in the dry desert dust. Since the body is being drooled over by a coyote and being crawled upon by a rattler ready to strike, J.D. assumes the woman is dead. To his surprise, she is still alive, and he rescues her from the predators, taking her back to the farm in hiding. Following his heart instead of his boss's mandate, J.D. does not call Border Patrol, and his actions set into motion a series of life-changing events. The woman, Maria, is mysterious, compelling, intriguing, and she forces J.D. to come to grips with the fact that while his wife died, he still lives. The danger that left Maria near death in the dust follows them, and soon they are on a desperate flight to save both their lives. If they survive, will J.D. risk his heart to this newly found love, with a future so different than he could ever have imagined? "Borders of the Heart" has a contemporary setting, but the themes of love, loss, and reborn hearts, and the eternal battle of good versus evil are truly well read in any era. Here, in this place of scorching heat, with its constant stream of illegal immigrants, the story line has added depth. How would any of us handle the situation that J.D. found himself in? Superb storytelling from an author skilled in his craft.  

Book Copy Gratis Tyndale House Publishers  

Chris Fabry

Borders of the Heart
Author Q & A

Q: Your newest novel, Borders of the Heart, addresses heavy topics such as illegal immigration, the U.S./Mexico drug trade and the cost of compassion. Where did you get your inspiration for the book?

A: Our family moved to Arizona in 2008 and since then I’ve known I wanted to write about this area of the country, a rich, desert existence with problems and possibilities. This book is not as much an “issue” book as it is a book about people who have to deal with lots of those issues as part of their daily lives. I don’t have an ax to grind on the topics, but I did want to show how real people are affected by these contemporary topics.

Q: Several of the characters in Borders of the Heart are dealing with things from their past. What lessons do your characters learn along the way?

A: The past is huge for each of us. I’m convinced many are “stuck” by something in the past that holds us back from being all God wants us to be. A reader will walk through that process with the main character, J.D., and I’m hoping they’ll see an authentic struggle.

Q: J.D. Jessup is faced with a very difficult moral dilemma when he weighs the decision to follow his boss’ very clear direction or his own heart when he discovers Maria near death. What lessons does this story provide for your readers?

A: Every choice we make in life comes with a cost. If we say yes to one thing, we may have to say no to
something else. The choice J.D. makes is a good choice, and even good choices can lead to disastrous and deadly results. Can you believe that God is involved in even the difficult circumstances? I think that’s a huge reveal in this story for me. Does everything have to work out perfectly in the end in order for God to be glorified?

Q: How does the concept of redemption figure into your story? Was it gratifying to write about redemption? Why or why not?

A: A lot of people don’t like the word “saved.” It’s old fashioned and not in vogue. I think the term is loaded with truth because if you’re on the verge of death and someone “saves” you, you know exactly what that means and how grateful you would be. Characters in this story get rescued from certain death and when the stakes are that high, I can’t help but get emotionally involved in the story.

Q: How does the concept of grace figure into your story? Was it gratifying to write about grace? Why or why not?

A: Grace is when we’re treated better than we deserve. Yes, characters discover that in the book as well. I love the concept of grace in such a gritty, tough story because you’re not expecting it. You’re expecting A+B=C and when grace invades, it catches you by surprise.

Q: Borders of the Heart clearly demonstrates that sometimes there is a cost to compassion. What made this an important story element for you? Why was it important for you to show that sometimes there is a cost for us when we behave compassionately?

A: You’ve heard the saying, “Freedom isn’t free.” The one who acts with compassion usually absorbs the pain of someone else. This is a picture of the cross, of the sacrifice made for us in Christ. This is another thread you’ll discover throughout the story.

Q: Have you ever been faced with a real-life hard choice or ethical dilemma like your main character J.D.? If so, what was your dilemma and did you feel like you made the right choice?

A: I’ve never had to decide whether to leave a person for dead or not, but I think every day we have a chance to sacrifice. Sometimes it’s a small thing, like taking time for your children when you have something REALLY important, like writing a few more paragraphs. I haven’t always passed those tests. My contention is, the details of everyday life will show what we’ll do with the big decisions. If you choose well in the small moments, the moments when no one is looking, you’ll choose well when a huge decision comes your way. Conversely, if you don’t see the little things as important, you might not make a good decision with the big decision.

Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Borders of the Heart?

A: Borders of the Heart is at its core a love story. You will root for J.D. and Maria to survive and solve the mystery of what’s really going on in Tucson. And I hope readers will take away the truth that what looks impossible to people is possible with God’s power. Even if something looks hopeless, it’s really not when God is involved.


chris exterior p5041452_300.jpg 

Chris Fabry, an award-winning author and radio talk show host, is a fresh voice in Christian fiction. He hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on the Moody Broadcasting Network and was honored with the 2008 Talk Personality of the Year Award from the National Religious Broadcasters. He can also be heard daily on Love Worth Finding, featuring the teaching of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, and weekly on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, which he co-hosts with his wife, Andrea.

Fabry's adult novels— Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, and Not in the Heart—have won two Christy Awards and an ECPA Fiction Book of the Year Award, but it's his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more. He has also published more than 65 other books, including nonfiction and novels for children and young adults. Learn more about Chris Fabry on his website: A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Praise for Chris Fabry:

“A story of hope, redemption and sacrifice. . . . It’s hard to imagine inspirational fiction done better than this.” World Magazine on Not in the Heart

“Christy Award-winning Fabry has written a nail-biter with plenty of twist and turns to keep readers riveted. Fans of Jerry B. Jenkins and Jodi Picoult might want to try this title.” Library Journal on Not in the Heart

“[A] mesmerizing tale . . . [Almost Heaven] will surprise readers in the best possible way; plot twists unfold and unexpected character transformations occur throughout this tender story.” Publishers Weekly

“An involving novel with enough plot twists and dramatic tension to keep readers turning the pages.” Booklist on June Bug

“Few authors can weave such unique stories with such perfect language. . . . Fabry is an artist with words. All I can say is: Read his novels.” on June Bug

“[Dogwood] is difficult to put down, what with Fabry’s surprising plot resolution and themes of forgiveness, sacrificial love, and suffering.” Publishers Weekly

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: MARGARET FROM MAINE--by Joseph Monninger--compelling and touching romance with characters for whom you root for to find a happy ending

Margaret from Maine: A Novel
Brought together by war, separated by duty, a love story for the ages


Margaret Kennedy lives on a dairy farm in rural Maine. Her husband Thomas—injured in a war overseas—will never be the man he was. When the President signs a bill in support of wounded veterans, Margaret is invited to the nation’s capital. Charlie King, a handsome Foreign Service officer, volunteers to escort her. As the rhododendron blossoms along the Blue Ridge Highway, the unlikely pair fall in love—but Margaret cannot ignore the tug of her marriage vows.


Joseph Monninger’s Margaret from Maine is a page-turning romance that poignantly explores the dilemmas faced by those who serve our country—and the men and women who love them.

As I began to read "Margaret from Maine", by author Joseph Monninger, the fluidity of the story line and the immediacy of the characters quickly drew me in. Before I knew it, I had finished the book, but I didn't feel finished with the characters--I wanted to read more. I wanted to know what the future held for these people whose loneliness led them to each other. Margaret Kennedy's husband, Tom, was considered a war hero. His personal sacrifice to save a comrade had left him in a vegetative state. His body lived, but the spirit of the man had long ago left his physical shell. We meet Tom in the first chapter of the book, and experience the horrible moment which changed the lives of all the Kennedys forever. Tom never got to know his young son, Gordon, and Margaret took over the running of their dairy farm with the assistance of Tom's father, Ben. Six years after Tom was wounded, Margaret receives an invitation to attend the Washington, DC signing of a bill to improve care for comatose veterans. Margaret would be escorted to DC by Charlie King, a member of the diplomatic core with whom she had conversed by phone. Charlie is himself a veteran, assigned to desk duty after losing part of one leg due to a battle wound. When Charlie and Margaret meet, there is an immediate and intense attraction of both body and soul. The trip to DC becomes an extended romantic interlude, one that is unexpected and irresistible despite the undercurrent of conflict. Margaret never expected to be with any man other than her husband, but Charlie is warm and courtly, and his attention to her is like sustenance for her too-long-deprived female sensibilities. Charlie is smitten, and he knows it. Margaret is the woman he has waited for his entire life, but how to make her see it? Two good people, who have lived dutiful lives, now have a chance for true love and happiness, or do they? Charlie is about to leave the States for a diplomatic post in Africa. Margaret has the huge responsibility of caring for her family and overseeing the running of the dairy farm. She's still married to a man who has been spiritually dead for six years, and as long as his body still breathes in the care facility, she is bound to him as his wife. Will the love between Charlie and Margaret be lost, or will their fates somehow become intertwined? Joseph Monninger has created a compelling and touching romance with characters for whom you root for to find a happy ending. Happiness comes and goes sometimes in unexpected, random surges, but we must all be prepared to grab that happiness and hold on when it finally comes our way.

Review Copy Gratis Library Thing


Joseph Monninger

Joseph Monninger has published eleven novels and three non-fiction books. His work has appeared in American Heritage, Scientific American, Readers Digest, Glamour, Playboy, Story, Fiction, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated and Ellery Queen, among other publications. He has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and has also received a fellowship from the New Hampshire Council for the Arts. His young adult novel, Baby, was awarded the 2008 award for best children’s literature from the Peace Corps Writers. It was also chosen as a top ten book by YALSA, the American Library Association. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books awarded Hippie Chick, a young adult novel, a blue ribbon for a top book of 2008.


Joseph Monninger grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and attended Temple University on a football scholarship. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso, from 1975-77. He has been a licensed New Hampshire Fishing Guide and has fly-fished from New Zealand to Wyoming’s Wind River Range. He lives with his wife, Wendy, and his son, Justin, in a converted barn near New Hampshire’s Baker River. For several years his family competed in the New England Sled Dog sprint races and ran a small sled dog business in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Laika and Willow, two sled dogs, live in happy retirement with them.


As a teacher at one time or another at the University of New Hampshire, the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, The American International School in Vienna, and at Plymouth State University, Joseph Monninger has spent thirty years in classrooms. During the summers he directed academic enrichment programs at Williams and Amherst Colleges. He led student groups on bicycle tours across Europe, sailed the Whitsunday Islands near the Great Barrier Reef, and worked on community service projects in Montserrat, West Indies and on the Crow Reservation in Montana. He has taken a mail boat across the southern edge of Newfoundland and, as a young man, hitch-hiked across the United States three times.


His novel, Eternal on the Water, was published by Pocketbooks in February 2010.

"THE ORCHARDIST: A NOVEL"--by Amanda Coplin--exquisitely-wrought story line and unforgettable characterizations will leave an indelible imprint

The Orchardist

Set in the untamed American West, a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the land.

"The Orchardist is like one of its characters: 'an egg encased in iron'-an elemental story filled with the perfection of the natural world. Nearly everybody in the book compels your admiration, either for their courage or for the heavy work they do, all the time and without complaint, even when wicked men are hunting them. Transfixing. I love this book straight through."-Salvatore Scibona, author of National Book Award Finalist "The End"

You belong to the earth, and the earth is hard.

At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, a solitary orchardist named Talmadge carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century. A gentle, solitary man, he finds solace and purpose in the sweetness of the apples, apricots, and plums he grows, and in the quiet, beating heart of the land-the valley of yellow grass bordering a deep canyon that has been his home since he was nine years old. Everything he is and has known is tied to this patch of earth. It is where his widowed mother is buried, taken by illness when he was just thirteen, and where his only companion, his beloved teenaged sister Elsbeth, mysteriously disappeared. It is where the horse wranglers-native men, mostly Nez Perce-pass through each spring with their wild herds, setting up camp in the flowering meadows between the trees.

One day, while in town to sell his fruit at the market, two girls, barefoot and dirty, steal some apples. Later, they appear on his homestead, cautious yet curious about the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, Jane and her sister Della take up on Talmadage's land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. Yet just as the girls begin to trust him, brutal men with guns arrive in the orchard, and the shattering tragedy that follows sets Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect them, putting himself between the girls and the world, but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.

Writing with breathtaking precision and empathy, Amanda Coplin has crafted an astonishing debut novel about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of an ordered life when he opens his heart and lets the world in. Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, she weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune, bound by their search to discover the place they belong. At once intimate and epic, evocative and atmospheric, filled with haunting characters both vivid and true to life, and told in a distinctive narrative voice, The Orchardist marks the beginning of a stellar literary career.


On the very first page of "The Orchardist", Amanda Coplin stole a piece of my heart with her description of Talmadge, the title character of her debut work. I could see him immediately, and his image accompanied me throughout the story line. He became someone I knew. The author's exquisitely-wrought story line and unforgettable characterizations will leave an indelible imprint with this riveting tale of the Pacific Northwest. Set in time as the nineteenth century moves forward into a rapidly changing new world, the orchards themselves are timeless, repeating their cycle of rest and reproduction over and over again. Talmadge leads a mostly solitary existence, tending the fruit of his orchard and keeping his memories close to his heart. The land is his constant companion, holding the final resting place of his mother and the secrets of his sister Elsbeth's disappearance as a young girl. Talmadge watches the years come and go, harvesting his apples, apricots and plums, the peacefulness of his days enlivened with the annual arrival of horse wranglers who camp nearby each Spring. He sells his harvest in town, has few friends, and takes quiet comfort in the safety of his routine. One trip to the market proves to be life-changing when two half-wild pregnant girls steal some of Talmadge's fruit. He lets them run, not offering pursuit, and they later seek him out at his homeplace. They find shelter there, with the quiet, homely man and his beautiful, bountiful trees, and all of their lives are forever changed. However, a devastating threat to their happiness comes in the form of violent men who set in motion a tragedy that propels Talmadge into a harsh reality. When Talmadge opens his heart to two young women in need, he opens himself up to a world of trouble, but this odd, gentle man is quite a man indeed. You will think of "The Orchardist" often after you read his tale, and many of you will wish that there was a Talmadge in your own life. A highly recommended read. I look forward to more great reading from talented author Amanda Coplin.

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“Many contemporary novelists have revisited the question of what constitutes a family, but few have responded in a voice as resolute and fiercely poetic.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Amanda Coplin’s somber, majestic debut arrives like an urgent missive from another century. You can only be thrilled by a 31-year-old writer with this depth of understanding…the final epiphany equals in stark grandeur similar scenes in Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Pat Barker’s ANOTHER WORLD...” (Washington Post)

“[A] beautiful, powerful novel…THE ORCHARDIST has the sweep and scope of a big historical novel…yet Coplin is exquisitely attuned to small, interior revolutions as well. Its language as rooted and plain as the apple trees Talmadge nurtures, this is a gorgeous first book.” (Boston Globe)

“There are echoes of John Steinbeck in this beautiful and haunting debut novel set in early-20th -century Washington State...Coplin depicts the frontier landscape and the plainspoken characters who inhabit it with dazzling clarity.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A stunning debut…THE ORCHARDIST is a poetic book, but its strength doesn’t lie solely in its language. Coplin’s understanding of abuse and the lasting effects of fear and loss on the individual psyche are deeply resonant. As a debut novel, THE ORCHARDIST stands on par with Charles Frazier’s COLD MOUNTAIN.” (The Oregonian (Portland)

“Coplin’s prose is fresh and compelling…While the ending of this striking debut may not make every reader happy, it is, undoubtedly, the right one for both the book and for Talmadge, an unlikely hero who—like the book—is true to life and sweetly honest from beginning to end.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“THE ORCHARDIST is engaging and enthralling. The reader wants to turn each page quickly as the story develops, and wants at the same time to dwell on the lyrical moments of sunshine, soil and love.” (Seattle Times)

“Amanda Coplin has depicted her northwestern landscape with such fidelity that readers will know its every sight, smell, and sound. Within this world are compelling characters and their equally compelling stories. THE ORCHARDIST is an outstanding debut.” (Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of SERENA and THE COVE)

“To read this mysterious, compelling, elemental novel is to immerse yourself in the world of an old folk song, in which the passions and sorrows of plain people rage unseen and then blossom as madly (and quietly) as apricot trees. In THE ORCHARDIST, Amanda Coplin shows us what’s unknowable.” (Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award and NBCC Award Finalist for Fiction, AMERICAN SALVAGE)

“THE ORCHARDIST is a stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels. Coplin displays a dazzling sense of craftsmanship, and a talent for creating characters vivid and true.” (Jane Ciabattari, NPR)


Amanda Coplin

Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington. She received her BA from the University of Oregon and MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Omi International Arts Center at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, she lives in Portland, Oregon. The Orchardist is her first book.