Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Chasing Mona Lisa" Book Review



Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Gvring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?


This book is an awesome insight into WWII and everything that happened in the art world as the Nazis tried to take anything of value. Much was done to protect the really valuable items (like the Mona Lisa for example) but they couldn't protect everything. This book chronicles a French art curator and some Swiss agents that are trying to keep the Mona Lisa from getting snatched up at the very end of the war. It is an exciting race to the finish and though it is historical fiction so obviously not everything is true - it sure is an eye-opener. Very well done!!!

"Firethorn" Book Review

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:

Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (2012)

***Special thanks to Ronie Kendig for sending me a review copy.***

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! What else can I say? This is probably the best finale to a series with multiple characters that I've ever read. Packed full of adventure, drama and romance this book doesn't slow down even when it ends. I was sad to see this series go, this tale of military men that are put together as covert operatives and go on top secret missions has been fantastic from book #1. But I suppose all good things must come to an end, sadly. This book ends the series with a bang. One thing I have to say - do NOT read this book first - it is definitely the finale, treat it as such. I was sad at the end when Ronie did the unexpected, but it was fitting - that's all I can say about that. Basically - this is a fantastic book ending a phenomenal series. If you haven't gotten ahold of the Discarded Heroes series then you should rectify that very soon!


An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.

It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life more than twenty years, Ronie and her husband, Brian, homeschool their four children, the first of whom graduated in 2011. Despite the crazinee, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family and their three dogs in Dallas, TX.

dpassion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie is an active member of the American Christian Fictriters (ACFW) and has volunteered extensively, serving in a variety of capacities from coordinator of a national contest to appointment assistant at the national annual conference.
onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have been gained critical acclaim and national attention, including:

    • Finalist in Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards (Nightshade)

    • RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense (Nightshade)

    • Named one of the Top 25 Christian Fiction Suspense, Mystery, and Thriller Writers by FamilyFiction (Sept 2011)

    • 2011 FamilyFiction Readers’ Choice Awards – 3rd place as New Favorite Author, 8th place with Nightshade for Novel of the Year.

    • INSPY Award Shortlist final in Mystery/Thriller (Dead Reckoning)

    • The Christian Manifesto’s 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Nightshade)

Visit the author's website.


Blown and dismantled, Nightshade is ready to repay the favor.

Former Marine and current Nightshade team member Griffin "Legend" Riddell is comfortable. So comfortable he never sees the set up that lands him in a maximum security prison, charged with murder. How can he prove his innocence behind bars?

Covert operative Kazi Faron is tasked with reassembling Nightshade—the black ops team someone dissected. Breaking Griffin out of a federal penitentiary amid explosive confusion may turn out to be her last assignment. What will it take to convince the fugitive that whoever set him up has also dissected the Nightshade team? As Kazi and Griffin race to rescue the others and discover the traitor,

love begins to awaken in their hearts.

Can a covert operative and the felon she's freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade? Will anything prepare them for who—or what is coming?

Product Details:

  • List Price: $12.99

  • Paperback: 352 pages

  • Publisher: Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (2012)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1602607850

  • ISBN-13: 978-1602607859


To all American military heroes

At home and abroad,

Those who have gone before

and those serving today—


Because of you, we are FREE!


Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone to be a Reconnaissance Marine, I accept all challenges involved with this profession. Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before me.

Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life. Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics—The title of Recon Marine is my honor.

Conquering all obstacles, both large and small, I shall never quit. To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail. To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission.

On the battlefield, as in all areas of life, I shall stand tall above the competition. Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork, I shall be the example for all Marines to emulate.

Never shall I forget the principles I accepted to become a Recon Marine. Honor, Perseverance, Spirit, and Heart.

A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word and achieve what others can only imagine.

Swift, Silent, Deadly

Chapter 1

The Shack

“It’s sad, really.” Marshall “The Kid” Vaughn trudged away from the thumping rotors of the helo that had deposited them back at the Shack, his pack almost dragging the ground. “Ya don’t realize how much a person adds until he’s gone.”

“Legend’s not gone.” Max “Frogman” Jacobs hoisted his rucksack into a better group, his mind locked on Sydney and their two sons waiting for him at home. Poor woman had to be going out of her mind with two of his Mini-Me’s running around.

“Yeah.” John “Squirt” Dighton hit the light breaker, then waited for the six-man team to clear the door. “He’s just temporarily detained.”

Lights sizzled and popped to life. Groaning bounced off the grimy windows as he hauled the door closed, locked it, then started toward the showers.

The Kid grunted. “Forty-years-to-life temporary.”

In the locker room, a depressive gloom hung over the team. They’d been on countless missions, hit just about every terrain and environment imaginable, but none had taken the toll the last couple had. And there was one reason—they were down a man. Griffin “Legend” Riddell. If Max could write the playbook, they wouldn’t do another mission without the guy. But with the man in federal prison for murdering a congressman, it’d be a long wait.

It was quiet. Too quiet. Max looked around the Spartan room. Walls of lockers, most unused. A few benches. A giant once-white bin for dirty duds. And the team. Six men, now. All very skilled. Good men. Even the one missing. Every man here knew Legend had been set up—he didn’t murder that congressman. But nobody could prove it. The evidence was damning. Justice—injustice was more like it—came swiftly. Lambert, ever the puppeteer, couldn’t pull the right strings to get Legend off.

“I’m heading up to visit him tomorrow. Anyone game?” Colton “Cowboy” Neeley slumped on a bench and ran a hand over his short, dark hair. His blue eyes probed the group.

“Nah, man. I’ve got a date,” the Kid said.

Squirt beaned him with a towel. “What girl would go out with you, mate?”

The Kid snapped the terry cloth back at the former Navy SEAL. “Your sister.”

Squirt froze. His jaw went slack. Then his eyes darkened.

Laughing, Canyon “Midas” Metcalfe rose to his feet from the corner. “You just proved his point by thinking your sister would actually go out with him.”

Squirt swallowed, his face drained of color. “I introduced them at a New Year’s party.”

Midas laughed harder. “Your mistake, mate.

Shuffling closer, Squirt pointed a finger at the Kid. “I swear, you touch her, I’ll shove a fist full of witchety grubs down your gullet.”

“Give me credit, dude.” The Kid raised his hands. “I’m a gentleman.”

Max grunted. “Right.” As he strode around the lockers to the shower well, he heard more threats and much more laughter from the Kid. Max shook his head. Would the Kid ever grow up, learn when to leave things alone?

As he tossed his oily, grimy duds on the bench, Max paused, thinking maybe he should send his report to Lambert now so he wouldn’t have to mess with it tomorrow. The mission had been simple enough, a snatch-n-grab of an Iranian doctor. It’d been nice and clean, in and out. The report wouldn’t take long. Then he could shower, bug out, and know he had the whole weekend with Syd and the boys.

Max jogged up the iron stairs, which creaked and groaned beneath his weight. Down the hall to the right. He punched in the code and entered the secure hub, the door hissing shut behind him. The most high-tech part of this dump-of-a-warehouse.

Shouts drew his attention to the blinds. He jabbed two fingers between a couple and spread them to peeked down into the main area. Squirt and the Kid raced into the bay and back the way they came. Squirt looked ready to kill. The Kid’s face revealed his fear. Max shook his head again. Man, he wanted Griffin back. The guy seemed to bring balance to the team. Badly needed balance.

Max powered up the computer. Hand propped on the warped wood, he waited for the system to boot.

More shouts. Loud thuds.

He pinched the bridge of his nose. Would they never—?

Tat-a-tat! Tat-tat-a-tat!

Instinct drove Max to his knee at the sound of gunfire. He scrambled to the window. Through the slanted blinds, he peered down into the slab of cement. His brain wouldn’t assemble what he saw. Gunmen. A dozen or more. Rushing into the Shack from the parking bay. Moving swiftly, as if. . .

They know the layout.

Max darted to the door and jerked it open. He sprinted down the hall toward the stairs. As his boot hit steel, he froze. A shadow emerged. Floated into the hall.

Too late.

Max jerked back. Pressed his spine against the wall.

By the showers, the Kid looked up. Max signaled to him. Then made his best and loudest Nightshade whistle, hoping it would penetrate the building, give the men warning to take cover.

The Kid threw himself back into the locker room.

Men swarmed the corner. One looked to his left, one right. His weapon slowly rose as he traced the stairs with his M16.

Max leapt backward into the darkness and into office. He closed the door. As the lock clicked, darkness dropped like an anchor over the entire building. Behind him, a glow screamed his location. The monitor!

Max spun. Lunged across the desk. Stabbed the power button. And paused with his hand still near the monitor. If someone was coming after them. . .accessing this computer. . .

On his knees, Max yanked the cords free. With the box, he moved to the window and reassessed the parking bay. Another van with a half-dozen men with AK-47s. They streamed into the warehouse.

Max’s gut wound into a dozen knots. They were screwed.

Think! Hand on the door, he considered going back downstairs. But that would get him captured. Killed. Yet he’d rather be with his guys than running like a chicken.

No, not running. Considering options, gaining the advantage. Planning. The invasion force was armed to the teeth. They knew who they were coming after. They’d brought weapons. And those guys moved with precision. Swift, deadly precision.

Though Nightshade had a stellar ops record, perhaps they had finally met their match. Still. . .two to one? Nightshade had faced worse.

A large black Suburban screeched to a halt in the middle of the parking bay. Two men emerged, both wearing trench coats.

Max cursed his luck to be up here, away from his gear, his weapons. Up here, without firepower. Thus, powerless.

Okay, enough. He was going down there. He eased the door open and slid across the hall. Bathed in darkness, he crouched at edge of the landing, using the wall for cover. A dozen men so far, rushing here and there. Quick, quiet chatter between the men.

A smirk slid into Max’s face. His team had taken cover and these goons couldn’t find them. If he could just get a weapon. . .

“Can’t find them.”

“They’re here. I saw them go in,” the man nearest the SUV shouted. “Find them! Lights!”

Light rushed through the building as headlamps from the vehicles stabbed the dusty, damp building. Max yanked back, out of sight. He needed to get down there, defend his men. His boot hit the landing.

Shouts erupted. A shot bounced off the steel rafters, taunting as it echoed through the Shack. Stilled, Max waited. More shouts. The sound of a scuffle. The half-dozen men waiting by the SUV lifted their weapons to the ready.

The locker room door swung open. A man walked backward, his AK-47 aimed at a large form filling the doorway. Cowboy. Arms raised, dressed only in his jeans, he stalked forward. Someone shoved him from behind, which barely moved the big lug.

Spine pressed against the wood, Max peered down into the bay.

“You move one wrong muscle,” the one in front of Cowboy growled, “and so help me God, I’ll kill you.”

“No you won’t.” Cowboy lowered his hands. “If you wanted me dead, I wouldn’t be out here.”

Ride ’em, Cowboy.

From the side entrance to the showers, three men dragged a shouting, cursing Kid into the bay. Max smirked that it took three tangos to wrangle the Kid.

Hand clenched, Max’s mind went into overdrive. What could he do? God. . .I need. . .something. What could he pray for? Intercepting the team was impossible. Twelve, fifteen armed tangos against one unarmed man?

He latched on to the hope that they’d only found Cowboy and the Kid. No Midas, Squirt, or Aladdin. Good. Maybe they could regroup and—

A man flew through the bay door from the showers and landed with a thud a yard from the others. Midas flipped over, scissored his legs, and swept the thug off his feet. The Kid seized the confusion to attack the men guarding him. And impressively. With a hard right, he dropped the first and used that weapon to disable the second.

Cowboy took a step back and rammed his elbow into the gut of the nearest guard. The gunman bent forward—straight into Cowboy’s meaty fist. The big guy pivoted, slapped the interior of the gunman’s wrist, effectively seizing the weapon and flipping the muzzle around. He fired at the guy.


In the split second it took for Max to realize the sonic boom that rent the air wasn’t the report of Cowboy’s .45 MEU but of a rifle, Max saw the man in the black trench coat drop to the ground. A circle spread out like a dark halo.

“Sniper!” someone shouted.

The dead guy had fallen backward. Most likely shot from the front. Which meant. . . Max’s gaze rose to the rafters. With no light, it’d be the perfect hiding spot. But. . .who? Squirt? Aladdin?


The man guarding Colton stumbled forward, then went to his knees before hitting the cement.

The man in the black trench coat nearest the SUV dropped. A pool of blood spilled out.

“There!” One guard swung and fired his fully automatic at the ceiling. Four others followed suit, firing at the bank of grimy windows on the southeast wall of the building.

Max followed their direction and watched. Waited, his breath caught at the back of his throat. Cracks and shattering glass blended with the staccato punches of the guns to create a wild cacophony of noise. Max tuned it out, praying whoever—Aladdin or Squirt—wouldn’t be hit.

But then he saw it. A shift of a shadow. Like someone rolling. . .

The gunfire petered out as a body plummeted the eight feet to the ground.

The thud seemed to have supernatural powers as it pounded Max’s chest and pushed him back. Away from the window but not far enough that he lost line of sight.

Silence dropped on the Shack.

“Where’s Max Jacobs?”

As the question streaked through the warehouse, Max registered a red glow in the far corner. Even as he noticed it, he heard a beep. Another. His gaze darted to the source of the noise. Two men were walking the perimeter, their M16s dangling as they raised their arms and pressed something against the supports. Arms lowered and the men stepped back revealing gray bricks with wires.


Gotta stop this. Do something. His gaze collided with Cowboy’s. The big lug gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head.

Max’s nostrils flared as he wrestled with what to do.

“Where’s Dighton?”

How do they know our names?

“Dead,” someone answered.

Pulled back into the shadows, Max clenched his eyes and bit down on his tongue. Dighton was dead. What about Aladdin—had he survived the fall?

Sirens wailed in the distance.

“Load ’em up.”

“What about Jacobs?”

“Outta time.” The leader left as the gunmen dragged the team out of the building.

Stealthily, Max held on to the box and sprinted the length of the hall to the side of the Shack. In the conference room, he plunged toward the window. Craned his neck to peek out. Three vehicles—twin white vans and a black town car.

The guys were loaded into the van and one into the car.

The leader shifted, held something out, then it wavered.


Max spun around, searching for an out. Doors. Only one way down—the stairs. But they led to the bay, which would be engulfed.

Windows. Overlooked the dock. The canal. It was January. The water would be brutal cold. His split-second assessment told him no matter what route he took, it’d be deadly. Despite his training, if he didn’t find shelter out of the water once he broke surface, he’d die an ice cube. If he stayed, he’d die a fireball.

Good thing SEALs are insulated against cold water.

Max vaulted toward the window, hurtling the computer through the window. The glass shattered as a violent force blasted through the air. It lifted him. Up. . .up. . . Flipped him. Searing pain sliced through his arm. Heat stroked his back and legs. Fire chased him out of the building. Into the night.


Another wave slammed into him. Threw him backward. Toward the water.

Something punched his gut. Knocked the breath from his lungs.

Bright white lit the night. Blinded him. Then—almost instantaneously—black. Pure black. And he was falling. . .down. . .down. . .

Ro n i e K e n d i g


Discarded Heroes # 4


Nightshade (Discarded Heroes #1)

Digitalis (Discarded Heroes #2)

Wolfsbane (Discarded Heroes #3)

© 2011 by Ronie Kendig

ISBN 978-1-60260-0785-9

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

For more information about Ronie Kendig, please access the author’s Web site at the following Internet address: www.roniekendig.com

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683,


Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.

Printed in the United States of America.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"His Steadfast Love" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
His Steadfast Love
Thomas Nelson (November 1, 2011)
Golden Keyes Parsons

One of my favorite series ever is written by Golden Keyes Parsons and is about the Hugenots. Such an amazing series - I couldn't wait to see where Golden would go next! So "His Steadfast Love" comes out and it switches over to America during the Civil War. I loved the reference inserted at one point where one of the characters refers to his Hugenot family that came over to America - funny how that little nod to the previous series made me so happy.
In this book we have the struggle of a young lady in Texas caught between her family in the South and a soldier from the North that she meets before they get involved with the war. Will she choose love or loyalty to her family? And of course, he is actually stuck between love and loyalty to his family in the North. Nothing really new in the concept of North vs South with love stuck in the middle, but Golden brings a whole fresh take on it. I loved this book. Her writing is genius and her characters are so genuine. I can't wait to dig into the next book in this series!


Golden Keyes Parsons writes historical fiction for Thomas Nelson Publishing, and is also a popular retreat/conference speaker. Her highly acclaimed Darkness to Light Series chronicled the journey of her French Huguenot ancestors in 17th century France. Her newest novel, His Steadfast Love, a Civil War novel set in Texas, just released November 2011. Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine, where they enjoy their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and are avid sports fan of their alma mater, Baylor University.


It isn't until the Civil War comes to her doorstep that Amanda Bell must choose between love and family.

It's the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.

When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.

Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war-and whose side is He on?

Amanda senses her life is at a turning point. She must trust God to deliver her family through the chaos of war with her heart and her faith intact.

If you would like to read the first chapter of His Steadfast Love, go HERE.

Monday, January 9, 2012

"The Accidental Bride" Book Review

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:

Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to ings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***

There have been many books written about a couple that doesn't mean to get married and yet they are, but this is such a great twist on that scenario! Shay was left at the altar when she went to elope with Travis, they were fresh out of high school, but he still chose life on the rodeo circuit over her. Broken hearted she married on the rebound and now years later, she is alone and raising her daughter when Travis comes back to town. Thanks to the wedding re-enactment of the town's founders, Shay ends up in front of Travis in a wedding gown... again. He is still in love with her and decides to maximize on the opportunity - he makes a deal to keep them married for the next 5 months, hoping to get her to fall in love with him again.

This book was totally enjoyable and fun. I breezed through it because I just couldn't put it down. It is actually the second in a series, but it could be considered a stand alone (though I love the way she kept all the characters from the first book as major characters in this one, I just mean that you don't have to have read the first one to enjoy this one!). I know there is one more book coming in this series and I can't wait for it!


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Visit the author's website.


Shay Brandenberger has built her entire life on the shifting sands of what others think. Constantly seeking the approval of others, she has struggled through a rocky childhood, a failed marriage and single parenthood. Now it looks like she’s losing the ranch that has been in her family for three generations, a surefire way to mark her as a failure in the eyes of the community. When Travis McCoy, the high school sweetheart who very publicly broke her heart fifteen years before, returns to Moose Creek, she is less than pleased. Not only does his re-appearance dredge up a deluge of painful memories, it also reminds everyone in town that it was he who left her, not the other way around. To make matters worse, Shay and Travis are unwittingly paired to play bride and groom in the annual Founder’s Day wedding re-enactment where, much to her chagrin, she discovers he still has the power to take her breath away.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99

  • Paperback: 304 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1595548025

  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548023


The bell above the diner’s door jingled
and—despite her most valiant effort—Shay Brandenberger’s eyes darted toward the
entry. An unfamiliar couple entered—tourists. She could tell by their khaki
Eddie Bauer vests and spanking-new hiking boots. Look out, Yellowstone.

When her heart rate returned to normal,
she checked her watch and took a sip of coffee. Five minutes till she met Miss
Lucy at the Doll House, forty till she met John Oakley at the bank. What if he
said no? What would they do then?

“Mom . . . Earth to Mom . . .” Olivia
waved her hand too close to Shay’s face, her brown eyes widening.

“Sorry, hon.” The one bright moment of
her Saturday was breakfast with her daughter, and she couldn’t enjoy it for the
dread. “What were you saying?”

Olivia set her fork on her
pancake-sticky plate and heaved a sigh worthy of her twelve-year-old self.
“Never mind.” She bounced across the vinyl bench, her thick brown ponytail
swinging. “I’m going to meet Maddy.”

“Right back here at noon,” Shay called,
but Olivia was out the door with the flick of her hand.

The diner buzzed with idle chatter.
Silverware clattered and scraped, and the savory smell of bacon and fried eggs
unsettled her stomach. She took a sip of the strong brew from the fat rim of
her mug.

The bell jingled again. I will not look. I will
not look. I will not—

The server appeared at her booth, a new
girl, and gathered Olivia’s dishes. “On the house today.”

Shay set down her mug, bristling. “Why?”

The woman shrugged. “Boss’s orders,” she
said, then made off with the dirty dishes.

From the rectangular kitchen window,
Mabel Franklin gave Shay a pointed look.

So Shay had helped the couple with their
foal the week before. It was the neighborly thing to do.

Fine. She gave a reluctant smile and a
wave. She pulled her wallet from her purse, counted out the tip, and dragged
herself from the booth, remembering her daughter’s bouncy exit. Lately her
thirty-two years pressed down on her body like a two-ton boulder.

She opened the diner’s door and peeked
both ways before exiting the Tin Roof and turning toward the Doll House. She
was only checking sidewalk traffic, not hiding. Nope, she wasn’t hiding from
anyone. The boardwalks were busy on Saturdays. That was why she hadn’t come to
town for two weeks. Why their pantry was emptier than a water trough at high

She hurried three shops down and slipped
into the cool, welcoming air of Miss Lucy’s shop.

“ ’Morning, Miss Lucy.”

“ ’Morning, dear.” The elderly woman, in
the middle of helping a customer, called over her rounded shoulder, “It’s in
the back.” Miss Lucy’s brown eyes were big as buckeyes behind her thick
glasses, and her white curls glowed under the spotlights.

“Okeydoke.” Shay forced her feet toward
the storeroom.

A musty smell assaulted her as she
entered the back room and flipped on the overhead fluorescents. She scanned the
boxes of doll parts and skeins of yarn until she found what she was looking
for. She approached the box, lifted the lid, and parted the tissue.

The wedding gown had been carefully
folded and tucked away. Shay ran her fingers over the delicate lace and pearls.
Must’ve been crisp white in its day, but time had cast a long shadow over it.
Time had a way of doing that.

Her fingers lingered on the thin fabric.
She remembered another time, another dress. A simple white one that hung on her
young shoulders, just skimmed the cement of the courthouse steps. The ache that
squeezed her heart had faded with time, but it was there all the same. Would it
ever go away?

Shaking her head, Shay turned back to
the task at hand. The gown seemed too pretty, too fragile to disturb.

Oh well. She’d promised.

She pulled it out and draped it over the
box, then shimmied from her jeans. When she was down to the bare necessities,
she stepped carefully into the gown. She eased it over her narrow hips and slid
her arms into the long sleeves. The neckline was modest, the gathered skirt
fuller than anything she ever wore. Here in the air-conditioning it was fine,
but she would swelter next Saturday.

Leaving the button-up back gaping, she
hitched the skirt to the top of her cowboy boots and entered the store.

Miss Lucy was ushering the customer out
the door. When she turned, she stopped, her old-lady shoes squeaking on the
linoleum. “Land sakes.”

Shay took two steps forward and dropped
the skirt. It fell to the floor with a whoosh.

“Fits like a glove,” Miss Lucy said.
“And with some low heels it’ll be the perfect length.”

Shay didn’t even own heels. “My boots’ll
have to do. Button the back?”

Miss Lucy waddled forward, turned Shay
toward a small wall mirror flecked with time, and began working the tiny pearl

Shay’s breath caught at her image. She
forced its release, then frowned. Wedding gowns were bad luck. She’d sworn
she’d never wear another. If someone had told her yesterday she’d be wearing
this thing today, she’d have said they were one straw short of a bale.

Miss Lucy moved up to the buttons
between her shoulders, and Shay lifted her hair. The dress did fit, clinging to
her torso like it was made for her, wouldn’t you know. Even the color
complemented her olive skin.

Still, there was that whole bad luck

And what would everyone think of Shay
Brandenberger wearing this valuable piece of Moose Creek heritage? A white
wedding gown, no less. If she didn’t have the approval of her closest friends
and neighbors, what did she have? Not much, to her thinking.

She wanted to cut and run. Wanted to
shimmy right out of the dress, tuck it into that box in the storeroom, slip
back into her Levi’s and plaid button-up, and go back to her ranch where she
could hole up for the next six months.

She checked the time and wished Miss
Lucy had nimbler fingers. Of all days to do this, a Saturday, when everyone
with two legs was in town. And she still had that infernal meeting with John

Please, God, I can’t lose our home . . .

“I’m obliged to you, dear. I completely
forgot Jessie was going out of town.”

“No problem.”

“Baloney. You’d rather be knee-deep in
cow dung.” The woman’s marionette lines at the sides of her mouth deepened.

“It’s one hour of my life.” A pittance,
after all Miss Lucy had done for her.

Miss Lucy finished buttoning, and Shay
dropped her hair and smoothed the delicate lace at the cuffs.

“Well, bless you for being willing. God
is smiling down on you today for your kindness.”

Shay doubted God really cared one way or
another. It was her neighbors she worried about.

“Beautiful, just beautiful. You’ll be
the talk of the town on Founders Day.”

“No doubt.” Everyone in Moose Creek
would be thinking about the last time she’d worn a wedding gown. And the time
before that.

Especially the time before that.

Third time’s a charm, Shay thought, the corner of her lip
turning up.

“Stop fretting,” Miss Lucy said,
squeezing her shoulders. “You look quite fetching, like the gown was made for
you. I won’t have to make a single alteration. Why, it fits you better than it
ever did Jessie—don’t you tell her I said so.”

Shay tilted her head. Maybe Miss Lucy
was right. The dress did make the most of her figure. And she had as much right
to wear it as anyone. Maybe more—she was born and raised here, after all. It
was just a silly old reenactment anyway. No one cared who the bride and groom

The bell jingled as the door opened
behind her. She glanced in the mirror, over her shoulder, where a hulking
silhouette filled the shop’s doorway. There was something familiar in the set
of the man’s broad shoulders, in the slow way he reached up and removed his

The sight of him constricted her rib
cage, squeezed the air from her lungs as if she were wearing a corset. But she
wasn’t wearing a corset. She was wearing a wedding gown. Just as she had been
the last time she’d set eyes on Travis McCoy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"The Rose of Winslow Street" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Rose of Winslow Street
Bethany House (January 1, 2012)

Elizabeth Camden

I am so impressed by the character development in "The Rose of Winslow Street" by Elizabeth Camden. She has done an amazing thing by introducing us to two very different characters (Libby and Micheal), from two very different backgrounds (America and Romania), with two very different upbringings (I don't want to spoil anything...), and giving us one location (the house on Winslow Street) that they both have ties to, and then making them both sympathetic characters. I was never sure who it was that I wanted to end up with the house, because I could see both sides of the story. The most shocking thing to me is that Libby's dad is not a sympathetic character at all really, and yet, there is a point where we see his vulnerability and I was stunned that I could actually feel sorry for him. The way these people from different worlds end up fighting for the same piece of space was beautifully written, but most importantly I just couldn't put this book down. What a fun twist on historical romance with a slice of mystery woven into it as we follow Libby trying to figure out fact versus fiction as she digs into Micheal's past. What a fun, enjoyable book - highly recommended.


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.


The last thing Libby Sawyer and her father expected upon their return from their summer home was to find strangers inhabiting a house that had been in their family for decades. Widower Michael Dobrescu brought his family from Romania to the town of Colden, Massachusetts with a singular purpose: to claim the house willed to him long ago. Since neither party has any intention of giving up their claim, a fierce legal battle ensues between the two families.

When important documents go missing from the house, Libby suspects Michael is the culprit. Determined to discover the truth behind the stolen papers, Libby investigates, only to find more layers of mystery surrounding Michael and his family. Despite their rivalry, Libby finds herself developing feelings for this man with the mysterious past.

As a decision about the house looms in the courts, Libby must weigh the risks of choosing to remain loyal to her family or give her heart to a man whose intentions and affections are less than certain.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Rose of Winslow Street, go HERE.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"The Maid of Fairbourne Hall" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Bethany House (January 1, 2012)
Julie Klassen

I'm not quite sure how Julie Klassen manages to keep coming up with such unique and riveting storylines, but she hasn't let me down yet. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall had me literally regretting having to put it down, I kept sneaking away to try and finish it. I didn't know how she was going to pull everything together but she did. I loved this book. It had some wonderful aspects to it - excellent characters, fantastic setting, interesting plot with new twists. I loved the heroine who actually starts out as not very likable but discovers herself along the way. A wide cast of characters make this a quickly shifting and changing scenario with a lot of depth. Julie Klassen has become one of my go-to authors for the historical romance genre - if she writes it, I must read it!


Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years (first in advertising, then as a fiction editor) and now writes full time. Two of her books, The Girl in the Gatehouse and The Silent Governess won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Girl in the Gatehouse also won a Midwest Book Award and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America's RITA awards.

She graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoys travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. Julie and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.


Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt--and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Observing both brothers as an "invisible" servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?

On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of "serve one another in love."

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, go HERE