Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CFBA: Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar

Song Stuck on the Brain: Guess Who's Back by Eminem... sorry, they keep playing it on the ad for a kids cartoon and it's stuck.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Harvest of Gold
River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2013)
Tessa Afshar


Persian Prince Darius and his Hebrew wife Sarah are back for their second tale in Harvest of Gold. We first met them in Harvest of Rubies as Proverbs 31 literally came to life in a beautiful story of love, respect and self-worth. Darius and Sarah's marriage had found stability but was far from complete. Darius believes himself unable to love Sarah the way she loves him, he also fights his mother's Hebrew heritage and doesn't want anything to do with Sarah's God. The wall's around his heart go as "high as the moon" according to Nehemiah. Sarah loves her husband. She sees a good, kind man in Darius that she longs to know intimately on an emotional and spiritual level, but his rebuffs hurt and now she struggles with her own walls. No matter their personal feelings, they have been sent to find and stop an assassin bent on killing the king. The journey to Jerusalem to help Nehemiah rebuild the walls may be a cover for Darius and his men, but God has bigger plans. He can restore the damage to the heart of Jerusalem as well as in the hearts of Sarah and Darius.

Tessa Afshar has once again created a phenomenal and beautiful story that's not only historically and Biblically accurate, but reaches deeper into the heart and shows a married couple not only finding healing and growth in their own relationship, but in their relationship with God - and how the two work so necessarily hand in hand. Outstanding story.

On  a side note, there are two secondary characters, Lysander the Spartan and Roxanna the Persian aristocrat, that have sparked quite a strong interest in one another this time around. I hope this means we'll be reading their story soon as well. I have a feeling any novel by Tessa Afshar is bound to knock my socks off.

Read my reviews of Harvest of Rubies and Pearl in the Sand.


The scribe Sarah married Darius, and at times she feels as if she has married the Persian aristocracy, too. There is another point she did not count on in her marriage-Sarah has grown to love her husband. Sarah has wealth, property, honor, and power, but her husband's love still seems unattainable.

Although his mother was an Israelite, Darius remains skeptical that his Jewish wife is the right choice for him, particularly when she conspires with her cousin Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ordered to assist in the effort, the couple begins a journey to the homeland of his mother's people. Will the road filled with danger, conflict, and surprising memories, help Darius to see the hand of God at work in his life-and even in his marriage?

A hidden message, treachery, opposition, and a God-given success, will lead to an unlikely bounty.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Harvest of Gold, go HERE.


TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

Song Stuck on the Brain: Hiding Place by Miranda Frigon, from the TV show Primeval New World and sung by one of the primary actresses. Beautiful song.

Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2013)


It's a grim community (no pun intended) for these German settlers in 1881 Michigan. Annalisa is from a world where women have little more value than the farm stock they help care for. The men there all make me want to beat them over the heads with a wooden spoon. So Carl is a breath of fresh air for this town. His aristocratic upbringing has taught him to see women with a different respect. This scavenged life in the New World may be rough for him, but it also brings out his better side. One that makes a mark on the small village he lives in. His secrets come close to destroying what he's built, but it's the journey to love and hope that both Carl and Annalisa find that make this book a high point on my reading list this year. It's a beautiful love story.


Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can’t prove it.
Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He’s been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he’ll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa’s farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.
Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He’s gentle, kind, and romantic–unlike any of the men she’s ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love–but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

Read the first chapter HERE.


1. Why did you write A Noble Groom?

A Noble Groom is the story of a German immigrant farming community in central Michigan during the 1880s. I was drawn to write this novel for a number of reasons. One is that I live in central Michigan and am fascinated by the history of the area. Since there have been so few novels set in Michigan, I’m delighted to pioneer the way into bringing my state’s history to life for today’s readers.

Another reason I chose to focus on this immigrant community is because of my own German roots. My father’s family emigrated from Germany and eventually many of them became farmers.

2. How did you develop the initial story idea and plot?In my research I ran across a group of German immigrants that settled in the Thumb area of Michigan. This particular group had emigrated from Saxony Germany to Sanilac County, Michigan, and formed Colonial Saxonia. As miners they had originally intended to settle in the Upper Peninsula and mine there, but due to reports on the severity of the weather in the northern part of Michigan, they decided to settle instead farther south, in Forestville.

The land around Forestville had once been a former logging community and was covered with a tangle of dead trees, stumps, and fast-growing brush. The soil was rich for farming, but it would take hard work to make it ready. In writing
A Noble Groom, I wanted to bring to life this era and the difficulty these immigrants faced in settling in a strange land.

3. What is the underlying theme or message of the novel? Is this what you set out to write? There are actually several underlying themes woven throughout the story, including persevering through difficult times, not running away from your problems, and learning to let go of bitterness and forgive.

Another particularly strong theme is something that the heroine grapples with—feeling unimportant to God. As a German wife and mother living in a male-dominated society, she has always believed that God is too busy for her. She thinks God has more important matters and people to concern Himself with than a poor, lonely widow. In the end, she begins to understand the true nature of God’s love and its extent to "the least of these."

4. What is the take-away message you want readers to receive after reading your book? I pray readers will find the story of the immigrants inspiring as they persevere through their own challenges. It’s my hope that the courage of the immigrants will give readers fresh determination and hope.

Most of all, I want them to know God does indeed care for them. Even when He seems busy with more important people and matters, I hope readers will have a new awakening of His nearness, especially during their darkest moments of pain.


Jody has written novels for the last 20 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), became a best seller and has won multiple awards.

Since then she’s gone on to publish numerous best-selling and award-winning books. To read more about her writing journey click HERE.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

Song Stuck on the Brain: No Light, No Light by Florence + The Machine

Today I'm reviewing a book for


Karen Witemeyer is one of the funniest, most addictive storytellers in the CBA Historical Romance genre. She shines right up there on my shelf with Mary Connealy just waiting to make me laugh out loud.

I didn't realize when I picked Stealing the Preacher for review, that it was a sequel. I should have, but Crockett Archer's name didn't hit the 'recognition bell' in my head until I was actually reading the opening scene. When I figured it out, I actually squealed in excitement. Call me loony, but it made me all the more excited to find out I was getting more of a family's story I had already fallen in love with.

Crockett Archer's family comes from an unusual upbringing. Four young brothers raising themselves and running a ranch all while fighting those from society that would split them up. Now he's a grown man, he's found his calling, and ready to set off for a new life.

With that kind of history, not just any woman will do and God has known that all along. He's set his plan in motion for Crockett to meet one strong woman. Strong in faith, determination and spunk. A woman with a history even more unique than his.

The romance is sweet and well paced, and that first kiss? Oh my! But there's another girl at church that has set her sights on Crockett though too and she goes to a lot of extremes to try and get her man. The tension and action kept the pages flying by way past my normal late night bedtime. Great read that I highly recommend. Can't wait for more from Karen Witemeyer!

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?


Karen Witemeyer is a bestselling historical romance author who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She holds a master's degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. Stealing the Preacher is her fifth novel. Karen lives with her husband and three children in Abilene, Texas.

Monday, July 15, 2013

CFBA: In Golden Splendor by Michael Reynolds

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
In Golden Splendor
B&H Books (July 15, 2013)
Michael Reynolds

Although I didn't sign up for this tour, I was accidentally sent a copy of the book. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to read it before the tour, although it definitely looks intriguing. I wanted to share the info with all of my readers so you can have the chance to evaluate it for yourself. If you do read it, please comment below and let me know your thoughts, I'd love to hear your opinions! Happy Reading!


Irish immigrant Seamus Hanley is a lost soul, haunted by his past as a U.S. Army deserter and living alone in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in 1849. But after witnessing a deadly stage coach crash, he finds purpose in the scattered wreckage -- a letter with a picture of a beautiful and captivating woman named Ashlyn living in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush. Moved by her written plea for help, he abandons all and sets out on an epic journey across the wild and picturesque American frontier. While being pursued by those who want to hang him, Seamus encounters fascinating characters including a young Pauite Indian who makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping Seamus to cross the snowy Yosemite Valley. Battered but changed for the better, Seamus reaches San Francisco on Christmas Eve as the city burns in the tragic fire of 1849. But there is little time for rest, as an even greater, more harrowing adventure involving Ashlyn is about to begin.

If you would like to read the first chapter of In Golden Splendor, go HERE


Michael K. Reynolds is the writer and producer of Emmy and Telly Award-winning film campaigns and has more than two decades of experience in fiction, journalism, copywriting, and documentary production. He owns Global Studio, a marketing agency, and is also an active leader in church and business, speaking in both ministry and corporate settings. Michael lives with his wife and three children in Reno, Nevada.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Ghost Catcher Blog Event

Welcome to this spectral literary event. My good friend and fellow writer, KC Sprayberry, has a new release and I'm helping her spread the news.

The Ghost Catcher

A gift to know when people are in trouble of the ghostly type puts Hailey Hatmaker in the middle of a major problem – one that winds up getting her into more hot water than she can handle. In true Hailey Hatmaker fashion, she dives into what turns out to be a battle with Limbo, her number one nemesis.
Can Hailey rescue two friends before it's too late? Or is she forever condemned to losing to Limbo?

No adult in Landry, Georgia would ever admit a teen can do something right. Not a one, for then they would have to 'fess up to the teens being able to make their own decisions. The people in charge just plain ignored any good thing teens did.
Then I saw a problem, one I couldn't say a word about. All I could do is stand to one side and watch as disaster loomed.
I was the last person with Maren Dougless and Zac Morton Friday afternoon at the high school. What I saw of their auras – green with a black outer edge – scared me right down to my toes. As if that wasn't bad enough, since black represented death, and green meant vibrant life, in addition the center of those auras each had a reddish eye in the center with sickly yellow streaks arcing throughout it.
            That was more than enough to make any person run for the hills, but I'm Hailey Hatmaker, Ghost Catcher extraordinaire. After many, many years of catching ghosts, I didn't want two good friends to suffer that fate, but I had a big problem.
About KC Sprayberry:
I am happily married to a man I met while in the Air Force. We will soon celebrate 20 years of marriage. Our teen, the youngest of 8, keeps us on our toes with his band activities. Writing is something I've done since I was very young. At first, it was in a diary and then I poured all my energies into English compositions, earning praise from my Advanced Composition teacher in high school for an extremely visual project. While in the Air Force, I placed second in the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge's annual contest and from then on, was hooked. However, the reality of a military career and raising children forced me to put off attempting publication until my husband and I moved to Georgia. It was after the birth of our now teen that I began taking courses through The Institute of Children's Literature, Long Ridge Writer's Group, and Writers Digest in an effort to make my life's dream come true.
We live in Northwest Georgia, in a small town, where I write Romance, Westerns, Young Adult, and Middle Grade stories, both short and book length. More than a dozen of my short stories have appeared in magazines such as Listen Magazine, Brio, and The Pink Chameleon website. I also have two short stories in anthologies, Passionate Hearts Anthology and Mystery Times Ten. My westerns have garnered interest by avid readers and appear on The Western Online and Frontier Tales.
My work appears under the pen names of KC Sprayberry and Kathi Sprayberry. Softly Say Goodbye, a young adult novel, was my NaNoWriMo winning project for 2010. This story was inspired by a quote from a song and hearing of an auto wreck involving teens and drinking.

You can find out more about KC Sprayberry and her other great books at the following links:

Sunday, July 07, 2013

NetGalley: Trouble in Store by Carol Cox

Song Stuck on the Brain: Proud to Be an American by Lee Greenwood

Saw him perform live many years ago in Branson, MO. It was so cool. That song just makes you want to stand taller, try harder to make this Country better and a blessing to those around it. One of my favorite patriotic songs.

Trouble in Store: A Novel
Carol Cox


Carol Cox always delivers a pleasurable read. Trouble in Store was all the fun, sassy give and take you would expect between the Male and Female leads, plus a lot more. The mystery twist and suspense wasn't anticipated but it certainly amped up the plot. Nothing like danger to raise the stakes in love and business. The faith aspect is nicely woven in as a real life choice and not just something mentioned. I appreciate that. I had a hard time putting this one down and had it read in nothing flat. It's definitely worth the time.
Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he's not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he's worked for. He's determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands.

The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn't want her to marry up with any of them. He's drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.

But someone doesn't want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps--and the man obviously didn't die from natural causes--things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb's business--and romance--survive the trouble that's about to come their way?
Trouble in Store: A Novel


Native Arizonan Carol Cox has an abiding love for history, mystery, and romance. The author of more than 25 books, she believes in the power of story to convey spiritual truths. A pastor's wife and homeschooling mom, she makes her home with her husband and daughter in a remote spot in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play--within view of the family's front porch. Learn more at

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review and opinion.