Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Club- Where Hearts Are Free by Golden Keyes Parsons

February's Christian Fiction Book Club was hosted by Renee Ann at Doorkeeper. She decided to do something different this month, everyone picked their own book to discuss. In addition to reviewing the novel, participants choose a book club discussion question to address.

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this story. It was a quick, suspenseful read and I finished it in one day. Phillipe is a Huguenot in love with Bridget, a Catholic girl, in the 1600s. This combo made for fresh conflict, completely different than anything I've read before. I prefer my bad guys really, really bad and the antagonist in this novel fit the bill. Edward was well drawn and a great danger to the heroine. He was the reason I had to finish this book in one day. I just couldn't put it down until I found out what happened.

As a gripping historical, they don't come much better than this. However as a romance, this novel was a little on the light side. Bridget and Phillip are apart for most of the book, and when they finally get together, they go straight to the marriage without much build up. But the way Parsons builds tension with her writing more than compensates for my one minor quibble. This one is recommended for fans of historical fiction.


Want more info? Here's the back cover blurb:

Bridget is in love with one man....and promised to another.

Amid the liberty and promise of the New World, Bridget Barrington and Phillipe Clavell fall in love. But nothing about their love seems possible.

To pay for the Clavell family's passage from France, Phillipe, a former member of French royalty, worked as an indentured slave to the Barringtons. Bridget is the heiress of the prominent plantation.

When Bridget's parent's discover the budding romance between their daughter and their servent, they quickly orchestrate her engagement to an older, more advantageous match. But Edward Moorehead has a secret. And he's anything but a good match for Bridget.

Separated from her true love and in danger from her betrothed, Bridget must rely on God to deliver her from darkness into light.


My rating:









Discussion Question:

Phillipe risked it all for love. Have you ever done that? What happened?

I think anytime you love someone, you're taking a risk. The example that comes to mind is having children. There's a quote by Elizabeth Stone that says, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Think about parents who have children with health issues. It's so heartbreaking, and we lived through it ourselves. My son was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery when he was four. It was the most stressful time period in my life. Praise the Lord that season is over, but for some parents the health issues and surgeries go on for years.

What's the alternative? To live life without ever loving anyone other than yourself (kids, a spouse, or a great aunt)? I think that's sadder than the heartbreak of losing a loved one.

Want to join book club for March?

Renee Ann has a poll up in the sidebar of her blog to choose the next book. And I think she's still looking for a host too. Check it out!








CymLowell

Review- A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

Marketing geniuses across the blogosphere have flapped a lot of jaw proclaiming that the sub genre known as “chick lit” is on its way out. When I first heard those rumors, I tore my clothes and spread ashes about my library. (Not really.) But as it turns out, these were just rumors. I am happy to announce that, while the bookstore shelves may have lost a little weight in this particular category, rumors of its demise it have been greatly exaggerated. Point in case: Kristin Billerbeck’s latest novel, A Billion Reasons Why.

With quirky, sarcastic characters and the use of fashion as an elemental, but freshly done ingredient, A Billion Reasons Why will appeal to die hard fans of “chick lit” as well as the larger audience of inspirational romance readers who will appreciate the new depth Billerbeck has brought to her storytelling.


THE SITCH


Katie McKenna is about to be engaged to a practical, solid Christian man whose goals and values seem to very much line up with her own. Only one thing is keeping Katie and Dexter from making their engagement official: nobody seems to know where her grandmother’s heirloom engagement ring has been hidden.

Enter Luc DeForges, Katie’s gorgeous ex-boyfriend, a multi-millionaire who has his own private jet, can work a fedora better than Neal Caffrey at a late-night showing of Casablanca, and just happens to know the location of Katie’s ring. But he’s not telling. Luc has come to ask Katie to sing at his brother’s 1940s-themed wedding, but what he really wants is to keep Katie from marrying the wrong man.

Katie can’t forget the humiliation she received at Luc’s hand years ago, but she knows that Luc is her ticket to getting her ring and she won’t marry Dexter without it. With Dexter’s blessing, Katie agrees to accompany Luc to the wedding in hopes of obtaining her ring.

There are a billion reasons why Katie should marry Dexter – and just as many that she shouldn’t let herself fall in love with Luc DeForges again. But the more Katie is around Luc, the more she remembers the joy her life used to hold. Katie begins to question whether having a life of safety is worth giving up a life full of life.

HOW IT HIT ME


Like Ginger Rogers’s tap heels across a polished ballroom floor: smooth, jazzy, and precise; sometimes seeming to float on air, but with enough attitude to keep my eyes glued to the page.

Kristin Billerbeck’s characters skillfully sashayed through a medley of 1940s-meets-21st-Century romance with the panache of a well-choreographed dance number. A fan of 1940s song and dance myself, I appreciated Billerbeck’s reference of classic lyrics and movie lines throughout the novel and felt they purveyed a classy sort of richness to this light romantic tale.


WHAT MADE ME SQUIRM


A moment of unexpected insight. (I prefer to avoid putting spoilers in a review, so I’m going to word this carefully and turn it into a teaser, instead.)

When a particular character’s one glaring deficiency among his many husband-worthy traits was revealed, I had cause to reflect and wonder upon several troubled relationships within my sphere of notice. Even after finishing the novel my mind returned to those thoughts many times in the following days. It made me a bit sad to realize how very rare (that particular trait—no spoilers!) is to find nowadays – even within the church. My hope is that all the single ladies out there will take that particular passage to heart before they say “I do.” (You’ll have to read the book to find out what trait that is.)


TO READ, OR NOT TO READ: THAT IS THE QUESTION
“Here’s looking at you (reading it), kid.”


My recommendation? Download a few Cole Porter tunes, find a good red lipstick, and curl up with this book. And if you happen by a hat display and feel compelled to buy a fedora afterward…? Well, don’t be too hard on yourself.


AND FINALLY, IN THE WORDS OF INIGO MONTOYA:
“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”


A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck is one sweet read. This novel is sure to fill your mind with romance, your heart with song, and your NetFlix account with classic movie rentals.

Serena's rating:








Reviewed by contributor Serena Chase
Follow Serena Chase on Twitter @Serena_Chase

It's giveaway time!

Leave a comment on this review (include your email address) between now and March 7 to win Serena's advanced review copy of A Billion Reasons Why. Open to residents of the US only. Winner will be emailed and announced in the comments section of this post.

Did you miss Kristin's visit to Edgy Inspirational Romance? Check out Stalking Kristin Billerbeck.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

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:


A Billion Reasons Why

Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A Fine Romance


Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.


That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.


“Katie,” a voice said.


The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.


Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.


Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.


“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”


Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.


“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”



Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.


Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.


As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.


“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”


“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.


“I did. I sent my regrets.”


“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”


She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.


“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”


“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”


“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.


If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.


“Give me one reason.”


She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”


Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.


He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.


“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”


Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.


He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.


The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.


“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.


The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.


“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”


“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”


“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”


“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”


“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.


“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.


“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.


“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”


“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.


Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”


Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”


“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”


“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”


Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.


“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”


The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.


“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”


“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”


“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”


But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.


“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”


Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”


Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.


Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.


“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”


“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”


“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”


“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”


“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”


The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.


It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?


“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”


She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”


“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.


Apparently the small talk had ended.


“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”


Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.


“And who you date is my problem, how?”


“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”


“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”


“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”


“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”


“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”


e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.


“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”


He flinched. “Below the belt.”


A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.


Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”


“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”


He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”


“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Katie-bug.”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”


“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”


She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”


“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“Uh-huh.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”



“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”


That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.


“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”


“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”


“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”


She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.


“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”


“Engaged?” He stepped away.


She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.


“I’ll give a call to your fiancĂ© and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”


The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.


“You know what I meant.”


“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”


She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.


“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”


“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”


“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.


“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”



Check back tomorrow morning for Serena's review of A Billion Reasons Why and a giveaway!

Book Launch- My Mother the Man Eater by Tracy Krauss

Tracy Krauss, author of edgy inspirational fiction, is launching her book My Mother the Man Eater on Feb. 24 at Amazon.com. You can help Tracy achieve best seller status by purchasing the book at Amazon.com TODAY!

About the book:
Loaded with humor, action, intrigue and romance, My Mother the Man Eater is the story of a woman whose search for meaning in life finds an unexpected outlet.

Joleen Allen is on the hunt for a man. Unfortunately, every time the mother of five meets one, he falls for one of her daughters instead! At forty-four, Joleen has lived a tough life. She became a mother at 16, and her five daughters are now grown. Her ex-husband, Harold, is out of prison and back in the picture, looking for revenge. He’ll stop at nothing–even murder–to ruin Joleen’s reputation as well as her relationship with their daughters. My Mother the Man-Eater makes for some truly tempting and redemptive reading.

About the Author:

Tracy Krauss is a prolific author, playwright, director and artist. Originally from a small prairie town, she now resides in Tumbler Ridge, BC, known for its scenic mountain vistas and many waterfalls. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and currently teaches high school Art, Drama and English.


BONUS!

Buy My Mother the Man Eater on February 24 and receive loads of FREE e-gifts from these generous supporters:

Sample chapters, short stories, children’s books, and magazines from acclaimed, best selling and debut Christian authors, such as April Gardner, Shawna Williams, Shellie Neumeier, Sana Edoja, Delia Latham, Ray Lincoln, Stacy Padula, Elaine Cooper, Stacy Juba, Lisa Lickel, Joann Durgin … and more!

Plus – free manuscript critiques, manuscript editing, and marketing and promotional tips from journalists, editors, authors and speakers, Lorilyn Roberts, Linda Yezak and Bonnie Way.

And – beautiful downloadable art cards courtesy of artist and author Brenda Hendricks.

All if you buy your copy of My Mother the Man Eater at Amazon.com on Feb. 24! These free gifts are valid on Feb. 24 only. Click HERE for more details.

DISCLAIMER:

This best seller book launch has been coordinated with the help of the John 3:16 Marketing Network and many other generous supporters. The free gifts are deliverable electronically over the Internet or by email by individual authors and supporters. They are not in any way associated with nor deliverable by Amazon.com or Edgy Inspirational Romance.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Anna's Shattered Faith by Kendall Evans

Inspirational romance? Check.
One of my favorite historical settings? Check.
Strong hero protecting his woman from danger? Check.

Old West historicals are like comfort food and if there was a recipe for writing my favorite type of story, this book had all the ingredients. It was impossible not to like it.

The only reason it remains solidly in the "like" category and didn't cross over into "book crush" is I could have used a second helping of danger and romance (I'm a little bit of a glutton like that). I thought the author had room to ratchet up the tension on both fronts.

Anna's Shattered Faith by Kendall Evans is published by Astraea Press, a new e-publisher in town. This debut definitely caught my attention and I'll be watching their menu for future offerings.

Now I should back away from the blog and find some lunch...

Want to know more? Here's the book blurb:
The day Anna Hampton's husband, Zach, was killed was the day she lost her faith. Ranger Daniel Cochran represents everything she doesn't like. Not only is he a lawman, but he's a God-fearing man like Zach. His faith might work for him, but the only thing Anna saw it do was get her husband killed. The Ranger’s presence grows more and more welcome, especially when danger lurks around every corner, and Anna is caught in the middle.

Ranger Daniel Cochran knows when he arrives in Strawberry Junction, Texas he’s in for a battle. Taking the position as the town's sheriff is only a temporary assignment. His real job in the small, close-knit community is to catch a killer...the same man who killed Sheriff Zach Hampton. What he hadn't figured on was the sheriff's angry widow getting in his way. Or the feelings she stirs in his heart.
My Rating: (more like 3 and a half couples)









CymLowell

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Never come between a psycho and his book...

...also known as The Book Blogger's Anthem.


Edgy content warning: This enthusiastic reader calls a cop "pig" and uses the word stupid.








Thanks to Kelli and Natalie at I'd So Rather Be Reading for sharing the link.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review- Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

When it was announced that Jenny B. Jones would be releasing a new novel during one of the gloomiest months of the year I began to salivate like Pavlov’s dog outside the Vatican on Easter Sunday. Nothing cures the mid-winter blues like a romantic giggle fest, and Jenny B. Jones has provided just that in her latest novel, Save the Date.

THE SITCH

Lucy Wiltshire is a determined young woman with a penchant for vintage clothes and science fiction books, movies, and memorabilia. Now serving as the director of Saving Grace, a non-profit home for girls who have aged-out of the foster care system, Lucy has found both a mission and a sense of purpose. But although she has built the home into a successful, beautiful haven, Lucy is still plagued by feelings of inadequacy -- feelings only intensified by a suitor’s rejection and a financial emergency which threatens to close down her home for girls.

Enter Alex Sinclair, Congressional Candidate and the bane of Lucy Wiltshire’s private school years. A former professional football player who sidelined as an underwear model, Alex is also the son of Saving Grace’s biggest corporate sponsor – the sponsor whose generosity has taken a sudden downturn.

Alex is a confident bit of man-candy with movie-star good looks and, in Lucy’s estimation, a “Body chiseled by years on the field, hours in the gym, and possibly a handshake with the devil.” It would seem Alex has everything going for him, but the polls say differently. He’s lagging behind his political opponent and just can’t seem to catch a break -- until the night he’s photographed with Lucy Wiltshire.

As rumors of Alex’s romantic attachment to poor, do-gooder Lucy grow, so does his political ranking. When Alex devises a proposition that could solve both his – and her – problems, Lucy is shocked and outraged by his farcical proposal of… marriage, but she is desperate to keep Saving Grace open. Eventually, Lucy decides she has no other option and agrees to Alex’s proposal to rescue Saving Grace. What neither Lucy nor Alec expect, however, is that their disdainful banter and fake engagement could result in a very real romance.


HOW IT HIT ME

Like a red-velvet cupcake with tart lemon filling. This story was sweet and buttery enough to make me feel like a glutton after consuming it in less than twenty-four hours; but sharp notes of sarcasm peppered every page, giving the characters a quirky sort of depth which made this novel oh-so-pleasing to the palate.


WHAT MADE ME SQUIRM

I consider myself to be edgy, hip, and cool most of the time, so it pains me to admit that I got every one of Lucy’s Sci-Fi/Star Trek/LOTR references. (And if you don’t know what LOTR stands for, look it up, cuz I’m not telling.)


TO READ, OR NOT TO READ: THAT IS THE QUESTION

Unless you are giving up laughter for Lent, you should read this book. But I give you fair warning: if you are easily embarrassed when you snort out loud, you might just want to find a private place to do your reading.


AND FINALLY, IN THE WORDS OF INIGO MONTOYA:
“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones is a satisfying, giggle-fest romance that will make you laugh, snort, sigh, drool, and maybe even become a little more socially conscious. Complete with a smart, spunky heroine and tasty bites of man-candy, Save the Date is sure to chase your gloomy winter blues away.

Serena's rating:







Reviewed by contributor Serena Chase
Follow Serena Chase on Twitter @Serena_Chase

Monday, February 14, 2011

What Real Romance Looks Like (with bonus giveaway)

My husband and I were college sweethearts. From the beginning, it was a case of opposites attracting. He's from Africa, I'm from Long Island. He was studious...me, not so much. Sixteen years and three children later, we're still in love.

Story book romance is not his strong suit (Pbbsst! That's what novels are for). But he shows me he loves me in a million mundane little ways which are far more important.

Ten Reasons I Love my Goofball (in no particular order):

1. He's promised to take my embarrassing secrets to the grave- including that unspeakable incident when I was carrying the twins.

2. He loves my parents as much as me (sometimes he loves them more than me).

3. He packs my lunch every day and cooks dinner every night.

4. He's not afraid of dirty jobs. Like holding my hair back when I vomit, changing a blowout diaper, or buying feminine products at the grocery store.

5. He loves God.

6. He will get out of the shower to come kill a spider in the bedroom.

7. He gives money to homeless people (and if he didn't have to worry about the boys or me, he'd probably offer them a room too).

8. He'll shovel the drive or mow the grass for our elderly neighbors.

9. He teaches our sons how to be men.

10. No matter how often I break out in crazy, he remains even tempered.

Want to hear more stories about real romance? Check out these love stories from my favorite book bloggers. Today's the last day to enter the giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card. Update: The winner of the gift card is Amber S!





Bonus Giveaway:
Using the clues in the photo above, name that year!

I'll send a copy of Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure* to one lucky guesser. Winner will be chosen Saturday.









*The book in this giveaway comes from my personal shelf and was dropped during the recent snowpocalypse. Perfectly readable, but has wavy pages.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from Jamie Carie

Check out this romantic book trailer author Jamie Carie made in honor of Valentine's Day!




Have you ever read a Jamie Carie book? My favorite was her edgy inspirational Wind Dancer.


Here's the summary:
Raised in a British-held frontier town during the American Revolution, Isabelle Renoir is not like other women around her. A free spirit, she dances in the moonlight as a praise offering to God and is more at home fearlessly taking her long rifle and knife into the woods for adventure and inspiration.

But Isabelle’s latest journey may be more than even her strength can handle when a huge storm throws the raven-haired beauty off course and into the path of rugged American spy Samuel Holt. After matching wits and denying their passion for each other, they are attacked by Indians, held prisoner, and forced to watch the horrific killing of Isabelle’s brother. Now together but in captivity, they must fight spiritual forces that no knife or rifle could ever conquer in order to be free.


Thanks to author Laura Frantz for the heads up. I saw this trailer first on her website.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love stories from my favorite book bloggers

I blog about romance every day around here, but this Valentine's I wanted to celebrate real love stories, so I invited a few of my favorite book bloggers to share something about the leading men in their lives (come back Monday when I'll share mine).

My husband Michael and I met in 1984 in a college class at church. He used to say “I’m a bachelor till the rapture.” We joke now that was his first mistake.

Our first date was interesting from the moment he asked me out. Family rules were anyone wanting to date me had to first ask my dad. Michael had to be grilled by both of my parents. He was a 25 year old ex-Marine and I was 18, so they had some concerns.

On our first date we went snow skiing. I had never been snow skiing in my life. I didn’t like snow then and I don’t like it now. Each time I careened down the hill Michael had to come behind me and pick up the poles I lost. I fell down that mountain three times!

After that, Michael decided he wasn’t going to ask me out again because he didn’t think I had a very good time. I knew it was a horrible date so I invited him to come to dinner the next week. I made Hawaiian chicken. He says it’s what sealed the deal.

We were engaged 6 months later and married about 11 months after that. We have raised 2 beautiful daughters and have 2 wonderful grandchildren with #3 on the way. We celebrated our 25th anniversary in July and I have to say that I love Michael more now than I did when we were married. He’s my best friend and I look forward to many more years together!

Julie is Team Edifying at Edifying and Edgy. She also blogs at My Only Vice.


What I love about being married...

Without a doubt the best part of marriage is how God uses it to teach me about his unconditional love.

As married couples we are designed to be a picture of Christ and the church. Selfishness and the ugliness of sin sometimes mar this picture, until we come back
to Him.

But His love can be expressed in the littlest things.

My husband warms my feet every night even when it makes him shiver even beneath the blankets in the frigid Northeast winter..

During rough periods of my depression there were the nights he stayed up late into the night to comfort me, then cheerfully went to work the next day to provide for our family.

The times he has gone without, whether it is his money, his time or some other resource…so that his family can be blessed stand out. And there are so many more times.

Daily my husband lays down his life for our family. Though neither of us are perfect, it is in these moments God uses the man he has created me for to show me a picture of His love for me.


Julia Reffner blogs at Dark Glass Ponderings. You can also find her at The Writers Alley.


For years I joked I would get married on May 5th, 2005 (05/05/05), because 5 is my lucky number. Nobody, including myself, took that very seriously, considering I didn't even have a love interest.

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?!! After dating the love of my life for 11 months, I married him on May 5, 2005. :) (And if you notice, that's on a Thursday-the 5th day of the week).

I have to throw this out for the single ladies. My hubby was my first boyfriend. I was very shy and very picky! I thought I had my heart broken several times, but God knew He had something better waiting for me down the road. I am so very grateful for every moment I had to wait for Jonathan! My momma would even tell you in a heartbeat that I had the worst luck ever with guys. Now I know that's not true, because God sent me the perfect husband. (No, not perfect, but perfect for me). :)

True love is definitely worth the wait, in many ways!


You can find Tammy at her blog Bluerose's Heart


And Juju from Tales of Whimsy said, "My husband asked me to marry him at a small waterfall in Utah...."


It's giveaway time!

Update: The winner has been chosen. It's Amber S!!!

Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be chosen on Valentine's Day. Just leave a comment at the end of this post with your email address. To earn an extra entry leave comments at all the stops on the Season of Love progressive blog party and let me know that you visited my friends. Follow the button for a link to all the participants.




Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hanging out at Sarah's place today

My friend Sarah Reck interviewed me today at her blog Reader, Writer, Dreamer. I'd love it if you swung by to say hello. And while you're there be sure to poke around, Sarah reviews some great books.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

My Book Boyfriend- Alex Sinclair from Save the Date


Book bloggers highlight the characters they fell in love with in My Book Boyfriend, a weekly meme from Missie at The Unread Reader.

The book boyfriend that monopolized my time this week was Alex Sinclair from Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones.

My Book Boyfriend's Stats:
-32 Years Old
-Retired Football player
-Former playboy
-Campaigning for Congress

"A smile just this side of legal." p. 68

"Thick dark hair had just enough muss to let the world know he mixed pleasure with business." p. 20



In my mind, Alex looks like:





















What I love about him-
Cocky arrogant humor hides a servant's heart

My favorite pick up line:

"You know what?" He moved in until her back was against the wall. "I think by the end of the day you'll be begging me to kiss you." His finger smoothed a trail across her cheek and down the delicate skin of her neck. "I've got plans for those lips of yours Lucy." p.236


What to know more about Alex's story? Here's the book blurb:
When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancee in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Season of Love Progressive Valentine's Day Party


Love is in the air and there is something special cooking at a few of my favorite blogs!

Amber at Seasons of Humility is hosting a progressive blog party. There are giveaways and special guests. The fun starts tomorrow and you don't want to miss any of the stops.

February 7th: Amber at Seasons of Humility--Interview with MaryLu Tyndall and a giveaway

February 8th: Renee Ann at Doorkeeper--True-life story of love and sacrifice plus Giveaway Trifecta

February 9th: Casey at Writing for Christ--Interview with Kristin Billerbeck and giveaway

February 10th: Hannah at Project Journal--TBA

February 11th: Joy at Edgy Inspirational Romance--Love Stories from my Favorite Book Bloggers and giveaway

February 12th: Julia at Dark Glass Ponderings--Interview with Jody Hedlund; "romantic" menu of recipes from a chef!

February 13th: Renee at Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot--Interview with Laura Frantz and a 3-surprise-Christian-fiction-books giveaway

February 14th: Visit Seasons of Humility for a Mr. Linky listing of all the blogs writing a special Valentine's Day post; winners announced on the participating blogs

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