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All posts for the month January, 2016

A Son’s Vow blog tour

Published January 27, 2016 by francesothomas

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A Son’s Vow
The Charmed Amish Life #1

By: Shelley Shepard Gray

Releasing January 26, 2016
Avon Inspire

Avon will be hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for Three Print Bundles of the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series books 1-4 

Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family. Darla’s father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm’s lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn’t looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger—with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother’s anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn’t change soon, Darla fears it will cost her—and her family—even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father’s lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he’s feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone—especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can’t simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla’s love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

 

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

March 20

It was another picture-perfect day in Charm.

The sky was pale blue, quietly complementing the acres of vibrant green farmland as far as the eye could see. Spring lambs had arrived. They were frolicking in the fields, their eager bleats echoing through the valley. The morning air was not too chilly or too damp. Instead, a hint of warmth teased, bringing with it as much hope as the crocus buds that peeked through the dark dirt of the numerous clay pots decorating cleanly swept front porches.

It was the type of morning that encouraged a person to go out walking, to smile. The type of day that reminded one and all that God was present and did, indeed, bestow gifts.

In short, it was the type of day that used to give Darletta Kurtz hope. A day like this should have made her happy, revitalized her. It should have made her want to pull out a pencil and one of her many notebooks and record the images she saw and list activities she wanted to do.

It was the kind of day she used to love and maybe, just maybe, take for granted.

But now, as she rested her elbows on the worn wooden countertop that had no doubt supported generations of postal workers before her, Darla could only silently acknowledge that another day had come. It was sure to feel as endless as the one before it, and would no doubt be exactly like the rest of the week.

It was another day to get through. A way to pass ten hours of expected productivity before she could retreat to her bedroom and collapse on her bed. Only then would she feel any sense of peace. Because only then would she be able to wait for oblivion. She’d close her eyes, fall into a peaceful slumber, and, hopefully, forget her reality for eight hours.

It had been ninety-nine days since her father died. Tomorrow would bring the one hundredth. It was a benchmark she’d never intended to look forward to. Wearily, she wondered if anyone else in Charm was anticipating the milestone as well.

Undoubtedly some were.

After all, her father hadn’t been the only man to die in the December fire at Kinsinger Lumber Mill. No, he was one of five. And though it wasn’t as if she’d ever forget that fact, there were many in Charm who took care to remind her constantly.

Just then, Mary Troyer pushed open the door to the post office. Darla braced herself.

“You have a lot of nerve, Darletta Kurtz, getting a job here,” Mary said as she slapped a ten-dollar bill on the counter. “It’s bad enough that your family stayed in town. Most folks would have left in shame after what your father did. Yet, here you are, thriving.”

Each word hurt, as Mary no doubt intended for them to. Darla thought she would have been used to the verbal abuse by now, but it still felt as jarring as it had the first time. Mary’s son Bryan had died in the same accident as Darla’s father, and she took every opportunity to make sure everyone in town was aware of her pain.

Just as she had two days before, Darla did her best to keep her voice even and her expression impassive. “What is it you’ll be needing today, Mary?”

Mary’s cheeks puffed up before replying. “One book of stamps. The flags.”

Quickly she gave Mary the stamps and her change, taking care to set the money on the counter so their fingers wouldn’t have to touch. “Here you go.” Then—though she would have rather said something, anything else—she added the words she’d heard her boss say dozens of times: “Danke for coming in.”

Mary narrowed her eyes. “That is all you’re gonna say?”

It was obvious that Mary was itching for a fight. But no way was Darla going to give it to her. She’d learned at least a couple of things in the ninety-nine days since the accident at the mill.

And even though she might be wishing Mary to perdition in her darkest moments, she knew it was always best to turn the other cheek. “There’s nothing to say. Your mind is made up to be angry with me.”

“My ‘mind’ has nothing to do with the facts. Everyone in Charm knows that your father caused the fire at the mill. That fire killed my Bryan, Clyde Fisher, Paul Beachy, and Stephen Kinsinger.”

Standing as straight as her five-foot-two-inch frame allowed her to do, Darla added quietly, “You forgot John Kurtz, Mary. My father died, too, you know.”

 

Author Info

 

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Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Hold Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

 

 

 

 

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Because of Miss Bridgerton book review

Published January 25, 2016 by francesothomas

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Because of Miss Bridgerton is the tenth book about this family by the highly prolific Julia Quinn, but it is actually a prequel to the others and set during the American Revolutionary War.

The Bridgertons and the Rokesbys live on neighboring estates, and tomboy Miss Sybilla “Billie” Bridgerton has grown up romping around the countryside with the Rokesbys’ daughter and two younger sons. George, the Rokesby heir, however, is a few years older and as serious and dutiful as befits his future as an earl.

Of course, when Billie gets trapped on a roof trying to rescue a cat, it would be George to come to her rescue. Predictably, the sparks start to ignite. George eventually discovers there is more to Billie than her daredevil ways. Deep down, she has a dutiful side too.

Quinn’s sparkling dialogue and internal monologues are always fun to read. Her description of a croquet match made me wonder if perchance she’d ever met any of the cutthroat players in my own family.

Miss Bridgerton is actually the first of a new series, so we’ll be learning more about the rest of Billie and George’s siblings one day soon I imagine. Can’t wait.

My American Duchess book review

Published January 18, 2016 by francesothomas

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My American Duchess

By: Eloisa James

Releasing January 26, 2016
Avon

Have I mentioned that Eloisa James is my favorite author? I thoroughly enjoyed her latest (as expected) and nearly read it in one sitting.

Bostonian Merry tries, she really does, to act like an English lady. Unfortunately, her breezy American personality keeps getting in the way. She’s tarnished her reputation by breaking two engagements and intends the third time to be the charm. Then she meets the brother of fiancé number three. He is, of course, a Duke and should be the least tolerant of her frequent faux pas. But he can’t help but be charmed by someone who isn’t cowed by his duke-ishness.

The getting married part is pretty easily accomplished. It’s the falling in love part that presents some sticky wickets.

Readers will be as taken by Merry as the Duke is. Trent, aka Jack, is equally appealing. Any man who will cheerfully put up with your relatives is a keeper.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (a $25 gift card to an e-book retailer of choice)

Blurb

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

 Link to Follow Tour:  http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/12/my-american-duchess-desperate-duchesses.html

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Author Info

A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is an honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.

Excerpt

A large hand curled around her waist, neatly spinning her about and bringing her up against him.

Sensations skittered through her at the press of a hard male chest against hers. Miss Fairfax would have been appalled. Yet rather than pull away, Merry froze, looking up at him with her heart pounding in her ears.

“Who groped you?” he demanded.

“Who had made you so angry before you came onto the balcony?” she countered. What—or who—on earth would make a man like this so enraged?

“My fool of a brother. And now I’d like to you to answer my question.”

She had already forgotten what he had asked. His gaze was so intense that she felt confused and flushed. She would never allow a man—a complete stranger—to kiss her, if that’s what he was contemplating.

“What was your question?” she asked, wincing inwardly when her voice came out as breathless as a siren’s.

“Who groped you?” he repeated.

He had that warrior look in his eyes that Merry found absurdly compelling. She came out with the truth before she could think better of it. “Lord Malmsbury…Lord Malmsbury lets his hands stray where they shouldn’t.”

“Stay away from him,” he ordered, scowling.

“I appreciate your concern,” Merry said with dignity as she pulled free and stepped back, “but there’s no call to order me about. I have already decided to avoid his lordship—not that he has shown the slightest inclination to deepen our acquaintance, thanks to my hatpin.”

“Between your weapon and his boils, I doubt he will risk further encounters.” His smile reappeared. “I trust that after we are formally introduced, I may request a dance, if I promise not to grope you.”

It occurred to Merry that she would rather like to be groped by this man. It was a appalling realization. She was betrothed.

He executed a perfect bow.

She dropped a curtsy, and this time did Miss Fairfax’s instruction proud, nearly grazing the ground with her knee.

Merry walked back into the ballroom without looking back; no matter what her governess thought, she possessed self-control. Plenty of it.

She had almost reached the other side of the room before she turned her head and looked back.

He was nowhere in sight.

She took a seat along the wall and gave herself a good talking-to. What on earth was she thinking? Was she truly as fickle as the gossips back home believed? She may have made mistakes choosing her first two fiancés, but she had never been truly capricious.

She had truly believed that she was in love with both Bertie and Dermot. She had never flirted with a man while betrothed to another.

Not that she had precisely flirted with this man.

All right, she had flirted.

Merry groaned silently. Why hadn’t she slapped him when he caught around her waist, or at the least announced her status as a soon-to-be married woman? Instead, she had just looked up at him like a silly widgeon waiting to be kissed.

 

Death in A Major book review

Published January 6, 2016 by francesothomas

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DEATH IN A MAJOR

A Music Lover’s Mystery

By Sarah Fox

I sing in a chorus that periodically performs with a symphony orchestra. I’ve been privy to some of what goes on behind the scenes and have often  thought that the milieu would be a great setting for a mystery. I was right. And darn if Sarah Fox didn’t beat me to it with Death in A Major, her latest Music Lover’s Mystery.

When her symphony’s biggest donor dies right in the middle of a post-concert reception, violinist Midori just cannot help herself. She suspects foul play and has to try to piece together details she observed and conversations she overheard to determine who the killer is.

I don’t read very many mysteries, and I really enjoyed this one. Fox has a distinct voice and an engaging heroine. The plot takes enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The romance blossoming on the side is a nice touch too.

I’m happy to have discovered this author and look forward to more books from her.

 

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About the Book

The new season for the Point Grey Philharmonic starts off on a sour note when one of the symphony’s wealthy benefactors drops dead in the second Music Lover’s Mystery from author Sarah Fox.

When Archibald Major, local big wig and nasty tyrant, drops dead at a post-concert reception, violinist Midori Bishop soon suspects foul play. Although Midori has no intention of getting involved in another murder investigation, that all changes when Jordan – her violin student and the victim’s grandson – seeks her help convincing the police that the real killer is his uncle, a low-level criminal.

As Midori digs into the victim’s life, she discovers that he was a man who created discord at every turn, even within his own family, and there is no shortage of potential suspects. When someone close to Midori unexpectedly confesses to the crime, Midori must race to discover the identity of the true killer before an innocent person goes to jail for a crime they didn’t commit… and before Midori herself becomes a victim in the killer’s deadly encore.

 

 About the Author

Sarah Fox was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel.

 

Connect with Sarah Fox

Website – http://www.authorsarahfox.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/thewritefox

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorsarahfox

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4027516.Sarah_Fox

 

 

Praise for Sarah Fox

 “Readers are kept in suspense as each spinetingling event moves them towards an unforgettable ending. Sarah Fox delivers murder mystery with believable characters and earns a thumbs up.”

Authors on the Air Global Radio Network on DEAD RINGER

 

“While Midori may be clueless in love, she is good at asking questions. It is easy to understand how difficult it is for her to leave the investigating to the police, particularly once she has begun. Her actions are believable, if at times rash. Dead Ringer is an entertaining cozy with just the right amount of suspense. It is a great choice for reading on a lazy summer afternoon.”

Mutt Cafe on DEAD RINGER

 

“Readers are in for a treat with Sarah Fox’s new cozy…out of love, Midori sticks her nose in every place she can, which makes her a perfect heroine for lovers of mysteries. Readers will be pleased with the sheer entertainment of Fox’s plot.”

Suspense Magazine on DEAD RINGER

 

 

 

 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas book review

Published January 4, 2016 by francesothomas

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The temperature on Christmas Day in Southwest Florida where I live was in the mid-80s, so reading about snow, ice skating, and the like was a welcome diversion. Lori Wilde’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas was just the right choice to remind me how Christmas used to be back when I still lived in Pennsylvania.

And I always enjoy books set in small towns like Twilight, Texas, where all the folks are welcoming and all the men are good-looking. Personally, I’ve yet to find such a town in real life, but hope springs eternal.

Gabi Preston is cuteness personified. Every time she gets stressed out, she gets a case of the hiccups. Not a good trait for someone who will one day be facing judges and juries for a living. She’s tried all the old wives’ cures; however, the only cure that seems to work for her is a kiss from Christmas tree farmer Joe Cheek. Go figure.

Gabi and Joe are both almost too good to be true, but I guess that is de rigeur in a holiday tale. She happily transitions from an L.A. condo to a borrowed yurt; he’ll do anything for a daughter he was tricked into thinking was his and forego resenting his ex.

The obstacles to an HEA are pretty  substantial and should have been harder to overcome, but somehow they are as easily tied up as a Christmas bow by the novel’s end. A minor quibble. Overall, this one is as feel-good as Christmas in a snow globe, and that’s enough.