Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Edgy Amish Fiction?!

I had a bad reaction to a bonnet book a decade ago (broke out in a nasty case of book flinging) and have avoided the genre ever since.

But not without a little guilt.

Edgy or not, this is a Christian romance blog and to ignore the Amish is to ignore a huge section of the inspirational market. So I put "read a bonnet book" at the top of my to-do list, but it kept slipping somewhere behind call Aunt Edna and clip my toenails. I just couldn't get excited about it.

Last month, my Google alerts picked up a conversation about an edgy Amish novel that caught my attention. I checked Amazon for Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long and when I read the one star review nestled between all the four and five star ones, my interest grew. It sounded like just the kind of book I'd looooove. Then my friend Renee called Kelly Long the Amish Deeanne Gist, and I was sold (read the backstory on my Deeanne Gist obsession here).

Don't let its vanilla cover fool you, Lily's Wedding Quilt had everything I love in an edgy inspirational romance, high romantic tension, lots of relationship angst, and kissing scenes that'll flap your church fan. It's the closest thing I've read to Deeanne Gist this year except, obviously, Deeanne Gist.

In addition to raising the heat level, I loved that the author touched on the topic of depression in the Christian community. In my opinion, there is some misinformation and harmful teaching coming from pulpits on that issue and her book does a great job addressing it.

As long as I don't picture Jacob kissing Lily with that married Amish beard of his (those things aren't sexy at all) I can say Lilly's Wedding Quilt is one of the best romances I've read in 2011.

My rating:

And even edgier....

Hot off the heals of my first Amish success, I have an even edgier bonnet book at the top of my reading pile. This one has vampires in it!

Forsaken by Leanna Ellis isn't technically Christian fiction, but the author has said in an interview that it's probably her most spiritual book to date, so I can't wait to see what she means.

Seems like Edgy Amish fiction isn't such an oxymoron anymore. Do you have an Amish fiction book you think I need to read? Leave the title in the comments.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review- To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

I have a soft spot for heroes traveling the road to redemption and something about Levi Grant weaseled its way into my mushy little heart. He’s a burly guy who speaks with a lisp, a former prize fighter with a temperament as mild as Ferdinand the bull. His contradictions could be used as a model for building character profiles.

I am fascinated by how Witemeyer managed to write Levi’s dialogue throughout the entire novel and never include the /s/ sound, until the few instances where she wanted to show his vulnerability (he guards his speech due to his lisp). I don’t usually notice craft when I’m enjoying a story as much as I enjoyed this one, but I found the dialogue clever.

If you’re a fan of historical romance, there’s nothing here to dislike. To Win Her Heart contained likable characters, a spoonful of angst, and a huge emotional payoff at the end. This was my first Witemeyer book, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Want more info? Here's the book blurb:
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets...

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Levi's renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she's finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?

My rating:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review- Lady In the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

Lots of people seem to enjoy Historicals. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) They’re huge. They’re everywhere. Generally, I like contemporary romance… or fantasy. I do love fantasy. So although a Historical is rarely my first choice, I will, occasionally give in and, after much deliberation over the back cover copy, pick up a Historical something-or-other to read.

But I am, by no means, what would be called a “fan” I’m not the kind of girl who wants to join your Hist Fic book club, eat pemmican, and get my will to live sucked completely dry over discussions about the romance of times gone by. No, you really don’t want me at your meetings. I might very well alienate your club members by reminding them exactly how “romantic” people smelled before liquid soap, running water, flush toilets, and Crest Toothpaste. And, if you’re any sort of respectable fan of Historicals at all, that will probably make you mad at me. And then we’ll have a hard time being friends. And it will be sad.

So here’s the surprising news: Without any undue influence I picked up Lady in the Mist, an Inspiration Historical Romance by Laurie Alice Eakes, at the library recently. And I read it. And, more surprisingly still: I liked it.

THE SITCH: (from the back cover)
By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, why he, a British aristocrat, is on American soil working as an indentured servant.

In a time when relations between America and England rest on the edge of a knife, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths, leading them on a journey of intrigue, threats, public disgrace, and… love. But can Tabitha trust Dominick? Finding true love seems impossible in a world set against them.

With stirring writing that draws you directly into the story, Lady in the Mist takes you on the thrilling ride of loves’ discovery.


Like an Atlantic wave slapping against the side of a sloop. In other words, the story moved at a steady, if temperate pace with little jolts of surprise to keep me slightly off balance.

I’d like to say the little bit on the back cover about “stirring writing that draws you directly into the story” was what made me pick the book up in the first place, -- but considering how soon it was after the Royal Wedding Festivities, I’d have to admit that it was more likely the words “British Aristocrat.” I must admit, however, that, even though I’m not sure I would call this book “stirring” I would definitely say it was a well-told tale. The pacing was a little slow at times, and although it was very true-to-life, as a reader I got a little tired of the characters’ internal struggles being revisited similarly in almost every chapter.

Ms. Eakes does a very good job of giving her story a clear sense of place. The reader is “there” in that little New England village, “there” in Tabitha’s cottage, “there” in the sloop, and “there” in Dominick’s stifling attic room. Her characters were vivid in both appearance and voice: I always knew who was talking and where they were while they were talking. I was present in the story. And that doesn’t always happen for me when reading a Historical.


I got a little impatient with Tabitha and Dominick and Raleigh (Tabitha’s ex-fiance) and the way they vented their “issues” with God so frequently. Maybe because I’m a little too much like them, hearing and believing one thing, yet still behaving as if the Grace, Mercy, and Love (note the capital letters) of God are commodities rather than gifts.

Or maybe it’s because I have Historical ADD. I don’t know. You be the judge.


I think fans of Historical Romance will flip their knickers over this book. So, all ya’all who are into that sort of thing: read it, okay? The pace will be familiar, the detail and characters will be vivid and, as far as I know, true. You will love it. And for those of you, like me, who rarely read this subgenre? I think you will enjoy it as well. I was engaged by the story, the sense of place, and the characters – and that’s saying a lot because, as previously mentioned, I’m pretty easily distracted when it comes to this subgenre. Laurie Alice Eakes piqued my interest – and kept it. Add this title to your list. And just in case that isn’t enough to recommend this novel to you skeptics, I will add a couple of teensy details:

1. The kiss scenes are beautifully and tenderly written. And,
2. Dominick, that BRITISH ARISTOCRAT, is kinda knee-melt-worthy. I’m just sayin’.

“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Lots of people like Historical Fiction. But they don’t usually invite me to their parties. (Perhaps you picked that up already.) I’m the type of girl who watches Castle and Psych and Breaking In, -- not The History Channel. In fact, when my True Love (bless his old-fashioned heart) flips to an educational channel (which happens waaayyy too frequently at my house) I generally expel loud and deliberate moans of mental anguish before leaving the room. History-schmistory, I say. Facts about dead folk, even when narrated by Donald Sutherland, are boh-ring to me. “Give me snarky, fast-paced fun, or give me death!” I cry. And yet… something compelled me to pick up this book, bring it home, and read it. And, stranger still, I liked it.

Just keep in mind: I don’t know if rogue officers of the British Navy really
impressed Americans into service to fight the war against the French after the American Revolution, like depicted in this novel. But I don’t really care, because the way Laurie Alice Eakes wrote about it, well – if it didn’t happen, it might as well have. It sure was believable. In fact, if I’m ever quizzed about it in some learning annex class about Early American History (that I certainly do not intend to take), I’ll say “yes they did!” simply because I read this book and Laurie said so.

Serena's Rating:

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stalking Lisa Bergren!

Lisa Bergren's Waterfall is the break out book of the year! Serena and I are both so excited about this series, and you know when we find an author we're excited about stalking ensues. Lisa made the job pretty easy when she gave us the scoop of the summer- a deleted scene from her newest release, Cascade! Read on friends...

The last thing you threw away:

I throw away as much as I can. I hate clutter and still manage to have a cluttered house, even though I make frequent trips to Goodwill to donate.

A brand of breakfast cereal in your pantry:


Three things in your purse:

Gum, emergency dark chocolate, Advil

Something that will fall out of your medicine cabinet when I swing it open:

A Costco size box of disposable razors. Three females in the house now shaving.

A scene from your rough draft that didn't make the novel and why:

What follows is a deleted scene from CASCADE. Why’d I kill it? Because (a) I wasn’t ready for Fortino to die; (b) editor thought the whole “marry her,” thing was cheesy and I agreed; (c) I ultimately went in a different direction with Romana’s role and the war’s timeline. It became clear that it just had to go…

We were ready, hands washed, cot waiting, when they brought him in, each of four men carrying a corner of the blanket.

Or at least I thought I was ready. When I saw Fortino, naked except for Marcello’s cape, tossed across his waist, skin flayed on chest and back from multiple whip wounds, I took a step back. Marcello hovered at his head and looked to us, desperation in his eyes.

Mom paused beside me, then touched my arm. “Follow me,” she said, stepping up beside Fortino. He labored to breathe, obviously in a full asthma attack.

“M-m-m’lady,” he gasped, taking my hand, his eyes wild. Marcello held his other.

“Oh, Fortino,” I said, shaking my head in grief. To beat him so, a prisoner…I had to do something, anything. “Hot water, lots of it,” I said, reverting back in time to another moment when I almost lost him. “And clean cloths.”

“Steam? Good idea,” Mom said. “We’ll also need water and lye and ointment for his wounds. And wine, a great deal of it.”

Lia paced in the corner, looking green with nausea, and eagerly set off to help fetch what we’d asked for, alongside Luca. I breathed a sigh of relief when she was gone, trying to focus, figure out what had to come first. How I—we—could best save Fortino. Mom’s presence comforted, steadied me. It was like we were in their workshop, the one she’d always shared with Dad, methodically putting together an Etruscan vase again, piece by piece.

She leaned over Fortino, touching an unscathed portion of his shoulder, leaning close to listen to his breathing.

“I shall hunt them down,” Marcello was promising Fortino. “Every last one of them. They shall rue the day they ever took whip or bludgeon to you.”

“Asthma,” I said to Mom, studying each whip wound. “Nearly lost him to it a few months past.”

Mom’s blue eyes met mine, acknowledging that I referenced the last time I had been here. “And since?”

“Once we got it under control, he made a remarkable recovery.” Not that you could tell now. Each breath sounded like a sea lion’s bark. “He gained weight. Life—he really was living again.” I studied him. Romana. Would he die before he ever reached the altar?

He was pulling at my hand. Marcello’s too. His lips tried to form a word, but then he gave up.

“Breathe, Fortino,” I said lowly, leaning toward his ear, willing calm into my voice, hoping it’d transfer to him. It looked bad. Really bad. I’m so sorry, Fortino, I thought, stroking his hair. Sorry that you didn’t get the chance to marry. To explore love. I’m sorry…

He turned his head and looked into my eyes. Then he looked up at Marcello. He yanked his brother’s hand atop mine and uttered one word. “Marry.”

Marcello and I frowned at him and then at each other. What was this?

He squeezed our hands and looked at us both, urging us to understand what he could not say more about. What? Did he fear he’d die before he gave us his blessing?

When his breathing seemed worse as his agitation grew, Marcello said, “I intend to take her as my bride,” he said, glancing up at me and Mom. “If she’ll have me, that is. And if her mother blesses such a union.”

I felt the heat of a blush rise fast, like a wave in the ocean.

Mom’s face totally said Well, We’re Certainly Going to Have to Talk About THAT Later.

Meanwhile, Marcello’s face darkened at my hesitation.

And Fortino was working himself into a frenzy. “N-now!” he said, then gasped for breath.

“What? Fortino, let us see you to health, and then we shall discuss my union with Gabriella, as well as your own.”

Fortino jerked his eyes toward Marcello, almost like he was willing him to understand.

“It’s Romana,” I said softly. “You found out something about Romana?”

He closed his eyes and nodded, relief in his face.

“You wish me to marry,” Marcello said, “because you wish for me to be Lord Forelli and Gabriella my lady?”

He blinked in response and gave him the barest of nods.

Marcello looked back up at me and lifted a brow.

He couldn’t be serious. “Here?” I sputtered. “Now? Nay, ‘tis hardly a time for such a thing.”

“In times of war, such things transpire among the nobility,” Marcello said.

“Yes, well this shall have to wait,” Mom intervened. “Forgive me, Sir Marcello. You seem like a fine young man. But in Normandy, we do things differently.”

The name of every book you've ever published (so we can track 'em all down):

NOVELS: Refuge, Torchlight, Treasure, Chosen, Firestorm, Pathways, The Captain's Bride, Deep Harbor, Midnight Sun, The Bridge, Christmas Every Morning (getting re-released in August as Mercy Come Morning), The Begotten, The Betrayed, The Blessed, Breathe, Sing, Claim, Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent (September 2011)

CHILDREN'S BOOKS: God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two, God Gave Us Christmas, God Gave Us Heaven, God Gave Us Love, God Gave Us the World, God Gave Us So Much, How Big is God?, God Found Us You

NONFICTION: What Women Want, The Busy Mom's Devotional, God Encounter, Life on Planet Mom

Your favorite not-quite-a-curse word:


One lousy job from your past:

Housekeeper at a motel--the things I had to pick up behind guests! Ewwww!

What sounds might a feline stalker hear hanging around outside your kitchen window?

"Kids! Get up here and empty the dishwasher!" "Have you done your homework?" "I need you to think--think through a job, just don't do it halfway." "Time to eat!" *laughter* "Let's play cards." "Oh, you are so going to lose." "That's cheating!"

What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates:

"Hey, there. I've been waiting a long time for you."

Lisa T. Bergren is a wife (of 1), mom (of 3), writer (of as much as she can), occasional freelance editor and follower of God. She lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys good conversation over fine meals and decent wine, as well as traveling as much as she possibly can. Her family travel web site is www.theworldiscalling.com and she tweets as @TheWorldCalls when she has her travel blogger hat on. When she has her author hat on, you can find her at www.LisaBergren.com and on Twitter as @LisaTBergren.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pyramids and Plotting by Raquel Byrnes

As a homeschool mom of six, my day starts off pretty mellow. The kids wake up at their own times, eat and start on their work. It’s not until the mid-morning hour when all of them are bustling around that the fun really begins. I sit at my laptop in the classroom and try to do research for my book while simultaneously mixing icing ‘glue’ for our Egyptian Pyramid replica made out of sugar cubes.

Once I have that going, I get the crock pot going with tonight’s meal. Usually some hearty chicken stew…it’s easy and yummy. Meanwhile the babies have started to feed the water turtle their Play Doh, so I fish that out with the pen I was using to jot down some personality quirk ideas for a character in my new work in progress.

I get the babies busy on some coloring, give my high-schooler a lecture on Skyping while doing math, and settle down to check my email and Twitter...for two minutes. Because my Jr. Higher needs me to help him look up the average rainfall for Papua New Guinea for his report. I print out his information, pop on over to my blog, read and answer comments, and start on a new post, but…

I answer a call from my mother who wonders why I never bring her grandkids over anymore (we were there last week) and I flip through the calendar and find a time between my critique group meeting and date night with hubby. I write myself a note on the paper with my character quirks and put it on the fridge as a reminder.

School time over, I put the babies to their nap and sit down to read the last chapter I wrote so I can get ‘in the groove’ of writing. Until my third grader reminds me that we are supposed to be planting the potato he’s been growing with toothpicks and a glass…my GOOD glass? Oh well we get it into the ground and I wash off, pop the bread in the oven and sit down to type…something. Where was I again?

Hubby comes home, dinner and homework are tackled, we put the kids down and I have some coffee on the couch with my sweetheart. He goes off to grade papers and I settle down at my laptop. Nine-thirty and ready to write. Now if I could only find my notes on character quirks…

All craziness aside, the Lord has blessed me with the passion to write inspirational romance. Purple Knot is my debut novel, and I am so thankful, Joy, for the opportunity to chat about my family and passion for writing.

Here's an excerpt of Raquel's novel, Purple Knot:

“Rain, you have to decide what kind of person you’re going to be. I have to know.”

“What are you saying, Jimmy?” Confused I looked at him.

“I’m saying that you’re racing towards a crossroads, and I want to know what path you’re planning to take.”

“Now is not the time for this conversation, Jimmy. We’re chasing a suspect!”

“Now is exactly the time, Rain. I need to know, right now because anything you do out of anger or grief will directly affect me, too!” Jimmy said loudly.

Dread bubbled up into my chest. I tried to answer calmly but I felt control slipping. My throat ached with the words I wanted to shout at him. “Don’t make me do this, Jimmy. Not now.”

“Yes, now, Rain.”

“What do you want me to say?” I shouted. “What do you want to hear?”

“I want to hear that you won’t put your anger ahead of our future. I want to hear that you can walk away from the possibility of revenge.”

“Why…why would I do that?” I looked at Jimmy with wonder.

“Because you’ll destroy us in the process, Rain.” Jimmy reached out and caught the hem of my sweater in his fingers. He looked worried.

“Are you asking me to choose between nailing Parker and loving you?” Anger and confusion whipped through me like a cold wind.

“No. I’m asking you to choose between the hatred boiling in your veins and the grace hanging over your head.”

Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. Her first book the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, releases on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. You can visit her at her website: www.raquelbyrnes.com and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Behind the scenes at a cover shoot

Ever wonder how they create the fantastic book covers of your favorite Christian fiction novels? Jamie Carie just released this behind the scenes video for her March 2012 release, The Guardian Duke. The make-up and costuming in this clip is stunning. I can't wait to see what the finished version looks like.

Have you read anything by Jamie Carie? Here are two titles from her backlist that I enjoyed:

(Thanks to Laura Frantz for the heads up!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Save the date for our next book club meeting!

Our July book club is quickly approaching! We're reading Pompeii by T.L. Higley. Amber at Seasons of Humility has graciously agreed to host the chat on July 9.

I know Pompeii has been on tour this month, and I'd love for all the tour participants to chime in on the discussion. Check out Amber's blog for the participation guidelines.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Summer Bucket List

Totally stealing today's idea from Deanna at Deanna's Corner.

My summer prospects got a whole lot brighter last week when I scratched "teach summer school" off my list of things to do. It's the first time in five years I've turned it down and just in case you're wondering how I'm going to spend all my extra time-

I've come up with a list of things infinitely more interesting than being holed up in a city school with 25 little bodies and no air conditioning.

1. Deep clean and de-clutter the house.

2. Get a plumber to fix the leaky pipe in the basement. So maybe my list isn't more interesting than teaching summer school, but it gets better, promise.

3. Write the 90 Day Novel. Yup, I'm just planning to whip this puppy off over vacation. (Serena, don't think I can't hear you snorting).

4. Visit the library. Often. The boys have summer reading to do and they're actually going to finish this year.

5. Eat lots of strawberry shortcake. Nothing better than the taste of summer strawberries.

6. Take the boys to one of Smithsonian Museums. Each time we visit the relatives outside of DC we try something different. This trip we'll either do The Air and Space Museum or The Museum of Natural History.

7. Review math concepts with my fourth grader. That's what he gets for having a mother who's a school teacher.

8. Go to the movies. So many good ones to see! Harry Potter, Bridesmaids, Pirates of the Caribbean.

9. Make annual doctors appointments for me and the kids. This is the year I resolve to not be the parent trying to fit her kids in for a physical the week before school starts. It happens so often my pediatrician probably already has us penciled in for the Friday before Labor Day.

And by far the item I'm most looking forward to crossing off my bucket list is:

10. Find a shady deck chair overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to read a good book. We're taking the boys on a cruise to the Bahamas right before school starts and all I can think about is the wind in my hair and a book in my hands.

So what's on your summer bucket list?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review- The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

Daniel and Clara are childhood friends torn apart before their sparks of romance could ignite. When they cross paths twelve years later the heat between them creates an inferno on the page. The romance in The Lady of Bolton Hill got so steamy- for a minute there, I thought it might be headed in a whole different direction. Rest assured, we don't cross out of Christian fiction territory, but if you are a fan of edgy inspirational you'll enjoy the romance in this one.

There was much for me to love in this book and I finished it in one sitting. The whole labor and union plot line reminded me a little bit of the series North and South and once that image popped into my head, I couldn't help but picture Richard Armitage as Daniel. This isn't a book boyfriend post, but if we were playing, he'd soooo be my pick.

If I had one criticism of the novel, it would be that Clara seems to don a
Super Christian costume to convert the lost. The reader doesn't actually see spandex, but Clara must have worn it underneath her dress because she wields an unbelievable power of persuasion over the unchurched.

But in my experience a good romance covers a multitude of sticky plot points (or in this case a single sticky plot point). And the romance in The Lady of Bolton Hill was very good. If you're anything like me, you'll still be thinking about the tingling in your tummy long after you put the book down.

Elizabeth Camden, welcome to my must read list.

Want more info? Here's the back cover blurb:
When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.

But time has changed them both.

Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.

Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts-and lives-hang in the balance?

My rating:


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Readers: Their Role for this Author by Joanne Troppello (and giveaway!)

One of the most gratifying aspects of writing and publishing a novel for me has been the response from my readers. I’m a new author with only two books published and it still gives me goose bumps when I read a comment or receive an email from a reader who loved one of my books. I feel humbled that they actually read my book and were touched and inspired by the story. That inspires me to continue writing.

If no one read my books, who would I be writing for? Yes, it is still gratifying to finish a novel and publish it, but my end goal is to write life changing stories that affect readers’ lives with a positive impact. I’m compelled to write and know that God has given me the stories that I share with others.

Readers are number one in my eyes when I sit down to write. As I’m setting up the scene with description and delving into dialogue and creating compelling characters, I always have my readers in mind. What will she think about this story? Will he like the characters I create? Most importantly, will I write well enough for them to get the point of the message?

Before I became a writer, I was first a reader—a voracious reader at that. I couldn’t get enough of books, I still can’t. However, now, I need to balance my time more between writing and reading and everything else that’s on my plate. As a reader, I know what it’s like submersing myself into a story and getting so wrapped up in it, that I can’t wait to finish and when I read the last line, I wish the author wrote more.

Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I want to always keep that perspective of the reader’s mindset in mind when I write my stories. I write because it is my mission in life to share faith-filled stories and because I love to write—but I will always write for my readers and hope to bring a smile to their faces and encouragement to their spirits. For all the readers out there, you have my undying gratitude for continuing to devour books and keeping the love of reading alive and well.

Excerpt from Mr. Shipley’s Governess

Sebastian leaned against the door frame of the library, amused that Sophie continued reading, oblivious to his intrusion. He watched her scrunch up her face in consternation, engrossed in the book. “So, who do you like better, me or Mr. Knightly?” He heard her sharp intake of breath. She nearly dropped the book as she turned to look at her intruder.

“Definitely, that would be Mr. Knightly; he doesn’t have the habit of sneaking up on me.”

Sebastian sauntered into the room and sat in the chair opposite her. “Yes, he’s so charming. I hope to someday be like him.”

“Hey, don’t make fun. He is the epitome of the perfect gentleman.”

“Actually, I’m serious.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve read the same book as you. It must be a coincidence.”

Sophie smiled. “Really…you’re just trying to get on my good side.”

He leaned forward in mock surprise. “Huh, I thought I was on your good side already.”

“That depends on my mood.”

“I see. You’re all about a woman’s prerogative.”

“Yes, I live by that rule.”

He played along, enjoying the playful banter. “Oh, so you’re one of those.”

“You’d better believe it. It’s my prerogative to change my mind whenever I want.”

He fluidly maneuvered his way to the ottoman where her feet rested and he sat down. “I hope you don’t change your mind about me.”

“Well, that all depends on you.”

“I’d better be on my best behavior then.”

Sophie got up quickly and before he realized it, she walked across the room to the bookshelf. “So, you really read Emma, too. That’s still surprising and sweet.”

He followed her. “You’re avoiding any serious conversation, young lady.”

She moved away, running her finger along the spines of the books. He kept following, backing her into a corner. She leaned her hands against the windowsill and backed up as far as possible. She laughed nervously. “So, tell me again why you interrupted me.”

“I did it because I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now.” He cupped her face, tracing the outline of her lips with his thumb. Then he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her gently, at first, but soon his fervor matched hers. She put her arms around his neck and moved in closer. Finally, they pulled away from each other, both breathless. “I…I’m sorry.”

She touched his cheek. “Don’t be. I’ve wanted you to do that for a long time, too.”

He squeezed her hand. “I should get back to work. David’s going to wonder what happened to me.”

Sophie gave him a flirty smile. “Oh, I’m sure he knows.”

“Now try not to compare me too much to Mr. Knightly because there’s no contest, really.”

As he walked out of the room, he still felt the warmth of her lips on his and the softness of her body in his arms. He chided himself. “Shake it off, man.” Then he walked down the hall in search of his brother.

Joanne Troppello is an author of mystery and inspirational romance novels. Her second novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess, was recently released by Wild Horse Press. She is at work on her next novel, a romantic suspense. She is married and loves spending time with her husband and family. http://www.joannetropello.weebly.com

It's giveaway time!

Joanne will be giving one lucky reader a PDF copy of her e-book Mr. Shipley's Governess. Leave a comment with your email address between now and June 21 to enter!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lady of Bolton Hill
Bethany House (June 1, 2011)
Elizabeth Camden


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.

A word from Elizabeth: I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.

As for who I am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.


Female journalists are rare in 1879, but American-born Clara Endicott has finally made a name for herself with her provocative articles championing London's poor. When the backlash from her work forces a return home to Baltimore, Clara finds herself face-to-face with a childhood sweetheart who is no longer the impoverished factory worker she once knew. In her absence, Daniel Tremain has become a powerful industry giant and Clara finds him as enigmatic as ever. However, Daniel's success is fueled by resentment from past wounds and Clara's deeply-held beliefs about God's grace force Daniel to confront his own motives. When Clara's very life is endangered by one of Daniel's adversaries, they must face a reckoning neither of them ever could have foreseen.

When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.

But time has changed them both.

Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.

Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts, and lives, hang in the balance?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lady of Bolton Hill, go HERE.

I'm still reading this one, review will post shortly! :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

My Book Boyfriend- Marcello Fiorelli from Waterfall and Cascade

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

My date for Memorial Day weekend was a man half my age. (Don't judge, 38 is the new 18).

Marcello Fiorelli is the hero from Waterfall and Cascade-the first two novels in The River of Time Series. The books follow Gabi and Lia, teen aged sisters who travel back to medieval Tuscany where they find hunky boyfriends and tweak history.

My book boyfriend's stats:

A fourteenth century Italian knight.

Future Lord of the house of Fiorelli

Late teens/early 20s

Curly hair

"Big, chocolate brown eyes, square jaw, aristocratic nose, pronounced cheekbones..." p. 27 Waterfall.

"Oh my gosh, could he be a little less hot? He belonged in some teen-girl magazine. Movies. Book covers. Ads for Abercrombie & Fitch." p. 71 Waterfall

In my head, Marcello looks like a young Orlando Bloom:

What I love about him:
He has the whole rescuing a damsel in distress move down to a science. And whenever he kisses my...er, Gabi's knuckles I get shivers.

My favorite pick up line: (bonus points because he's actually picking someone up when he says it.)

But then he had his big hands on my waist. He bent down a little, getting ready to lift me to the saddle, just as I looked up at him. Our lips were so close, I could feel the heat of his breath on my skin.

We froze. Neither of us moving, simply staring at each other, wondering if the other was going to move first.

"You are" he whispered, "uncommonly stirring."

He closed his eyes then, as if he had to in order to break the bond between us, then lifted me into the saddle and stared at the ground as he guided my feet into the stirrups.

p. 161 Waterfall

Want to read more about Marcello? Pick up the first two books in the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren:

Did you miss Serena's reviews? Check them out here and here.

P.S.- I'm at Author Culture today along with blogging buddies Renee Chaw and Amber Stokes talking about what makes a great romance. Swing by and say hello!


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