Wednesday, May 29, 2013

CFBA: A Heartbeat Away by S. Dionne Moore

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
A Heartbeat Away
Abingdon Press (May 1, 2013)
S. Dionne Moore


Civil War stories were some of my favorite as a kid, I read everything I could find. The fight for freedom - to abolish slavery and make things right; how every day people risked everything for people they didn't know because it was the right thing to do - that was so inspiring! It still is. I don't like to think that I've become cynical or 'used' to the injustices in our world as I've gotten older, but I do find that I tend to tune them out sometimes because I'm sick of hearing of all the evil we do to one another.

Reading books like A Heartbeat Away nudge me back into the frame of mind again to remember that we still have a God given responsibility AND and ability to make a difference, no matter how small it seems. Beth and Joe have a very sweet story and I loved the whole book. I was especially appreciative of the gentle reminder they gave by example.


When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam.

Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heartbeat Away, go HERE.

Watch the video:

AHeartbeatAway - Medium from S. Dionne Moore on Vimeo.


S. Dionne Moore started writing in 2006. Her first book, Murder on the Ol’ Bunions, was contracted for publication by Barbour Publishing in 2008. In 2009 she moved on to writing historical romances as an outlet for her passion for history. In 2010 her second cozy mystery, Polly Dent Loses Grip, was a 2010 Carol Award finalist and she was also named a Barbour Publishing 2010 Favorite New Author. In 2011 her first historical romance, Promise of Tomorrow, was nominated a 2011 Carol Award finalist.

Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, Moore moved to Greencastle, PA in 1993, then to Mercersburg in 2009. Moore enjoys life in the historically rich Cumberland Valley where traffic jams are a thing of the past and there are only two stoplights in the whole town.

For more information, visit her Website at
Follow her on Twitter: @sdionnemoore

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CSFF: Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard

Today I'm touring on behalf of : Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour



I'm a big fan of Merlin/King Arthur tales and there are a lot of them out there. Some better than others and each presenting Merlin in a completely different lights. Some as a druid, some as a magician or mystic, some as a bard. His age and beliefs vary as often as his part in the tale. I think in a lot of ways that's what makes his stories so intriguing. His story, fable or not, has made a deep impression on us and even after all of these years we're still trying to make sense of his role. Or, maybe because he is such a vivid figure, he makes a good allegorical character. A man that can both represent the common man and his challenge to overcome life's evils, and represent the hero/wise one that guides others to safety.

Robert Treskillard has started his trilogy with a truly unique look at Merlin. He's young and partially blinded, scarred from an attack and still carries those emotional wounds. He's not the hero yet we know and love. He's also a Christian. One of few in his community. Because of the druid's enchanting stone, his community is falling to evil and he must find the courage to stand up and fight for Jesu. That's hard for a young man who has a hard time even telling the girl he cares for how he feels.

It's inspiring and full of action and intensity. Merlin's faith is strong, but it's put to the test over and over. It's a journey that will lead him places he never imagined. I loved the story, the fresh take on Merlin's life as a young man. I highly recommend it to all ages and I can't wait for the next book.


A Strange Meteorite
A meteorite crashes near a small village in Britain and brings a mysterious black stone. Two worlds collide—Druids and Christians—and the stone is at the center of the conflict.

A Sinister Enchantment
Its lurid flames tempt and ensnare everyone who see it. Only Merlin, the eighteen-year-old son of a swordsmith who is mostly-blind, is immune. Soon his family, his village and all of Britain will be under the control of the druids who seek to use the power of the stone for their own purposes.

And Only Merlin Can Destroy It
Merlin must face his fear, his disfigurement, and his blindness to take hold of the role ordained for him. But when he is surrounded by adversaries, with hope nearly lost, how will he save the girl he cherishes and rid Britain of this deadly evil … without losing his life?

The Author is holding a Contest! You could win your own Excalibur made by the author himself! There are other prizes available as well, be sure to visit his contest page for more details on how to enter.


Robert Treskillard is a Celtic enthusiast who holds a B.A. in Biblical & Theological Studies from Bethel University, Minnesota. He has been crafting stories from his early youth, is a software developer, graphic artist, and sometime bladesmith. He and his wife have three children and are still homeschooling their youngest. They live in the country outside St. Louis, Missouri.

Read more about the author at his website or visit his blog at


Friday, May 24, 2013

CFBA: Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Undeniably Yours
Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2013)
Becky Wade


I want a Bo Porter. I don't care if I get Meg's money, but I want a Bo Porter of my own! WOW! (fanning self). It's not often that you read a Christian romance and get this kind of  'steam'. Not steam as in sex and inappropriate behavior (there's none of that), but in really understanding the underlying tension and attraction between two people and what's behind it. Not just, he's hot and she's perfect (although there is that), but it goes deeper and that makes the perfectness so much more bearable. :) The steaminess is from the emotional connection and the tension between them as they try to ignore what they feel.

Meg has serious trust issues with men and honest reasons to feel the way she does. Bo is the solid rock that is going to prove some men are worthy of trust. He has honor, patience, tenderness, sincerity - and the kick butt, protect you with his life nature of the military man that he is. Oh, and he has an intriguing tattoo on his upper arm that we just can't quite get a peak at... See what I mean? Hot.

The romance would have made this worth the read, but I really appreciated that Becky took it further than that and got under the surface of the issues and dealt with finding God's path for our lives. Trusting Him. Asking for the path He wants you to go and then listening earnestly and following those directions. Sounds so much easier than we make it most of the time.

This a book with humor and romance and a little sauciness that also makes you look deeper into your purpose and relationship with God. That is a fantastic read in my opinion.


When Meg Cole's father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted--more interested in art than in oil--she's forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father's empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father's thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo's determined to resent the woman who's decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them--her wealth, his unworthiness, her family's outrage--and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg's past. Can their love--and their belief that God can work through every circumstance--survive?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Undeniably Yours, go HERE.


During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market, put her career on hold for many years to care for her kids, and eventually returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. Her first contemporary Christian romance, My Stubborn Heart, has been named a finalist for Romance Writers of America's RITA Award. Her newest release, Undeniably Yours, is available now.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Friday, May 17, 2013

CFBA: Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story
Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2013)
Dee Henderson


It's finally happened! Jennifer O'Malley's story is being told and I actually squealed when I saw this book come up. I'm a big Dee Henderson fan and her O'Malley series is closest to my heart. Throughout each of the 6 siblings stories, Jennifer is mentioned and her story is told in part. Enough to know that in many ways she is the glue for the family and also the initial spark or introduction to faith in their lives as well. You knew Jennifer's story, but not enough to satisfy the need to know her story like the rest of the O'Malleys'. I'm glad I wasn't the only one that thought that. Thank you, Dee for bringing us the rest of the story! :)

I suppose some might thing it strange that it's possible to get so drawn into a story when you already know the basic plot and you know how it's going to end. But in this case it's not about knowing the story or how it's ending. It's the journey. The love and relationship that grows between Jennifer and Tom and Jennifer and Jesus. It's because Jennifer and Tom are such amazing people, that you just want to be in their lives and feel what they feel. No matter what.

That is the sign of a true artist, and I'll say it again, Dee Henderson is an amazingly talented artist. Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story is worth every page read and every year waited to finally get the rest of the story.


It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley. The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, and meeting Tom Peterson, and falling in love, is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce him to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.

She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested in a way she didn't expect, and the results will soon transform her entire family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story, go to HERE.

To find out more about the O'Malley Series, Click HERE.


Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. These days, most authors are out there energetically promoting their books in print and broadcast and via social media—wherever they can get attention. But Dee Henderson keeps a low profile. She avoids telephone interviews because of hearing problems, declined to provide a current photo, and will say only that she lives in Illinois.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CFBA: Last Chance for Justice by Kathi Macias

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Last Chance for Justice
B&H Books (May 1, 2013)
Kathi Macias


Bloomfield a town I could love and hate. :) No, not really. I love the small town, homey, interconnected community feeling of places like Bloomfield. I can see how that same great place could drive Lynn Myers up the wall too. Everyone in your business and meddling, knowing things almost before you do. It could definitely cause a love/hate relationship.

That in itself is part of what makes the book fun. The town itself comes to life. Lynn left it behind years ago along with all the peer pressure and community expectations. She thinks she's over it. But coming home for a visit after losing her brother puts everything in a new perspective. Especially with her daughter Rachel along. Lynn may be in the later chapters of her life while Rachel is just starting, but their both facing the same questions. Where do I belong? What does God have planned for my life?

It's in the process of helping to fulfill Lynn's brother's dying wish that they find their own answers. Last Chance for Justice is a new chance for Lynn and Rachel.

Great story, funny and captivating. I enjoyed it so much, I kind of miss Bloomfield now.


Welcome to Bloomfield, where life is simple, love is real, and stories are shared.

Lynn Myers is still reeling from losing her husband of thirty-five years when word comes that her only sibling, an older brother, has also died. With no one else to settle the estate, she must return to her small hometown of Bloomfield, however briefly, to settle his affairs.

Lynn’s daughter, Rachel, has just graduated from Bible college and with no other commitments comes along to sort through her uncle’s huge old home, right next to the local cemetery.

It isn't long before Rachel has two men -- a handsome CPA and the youth pastor -- seriously vying for her attention. At the same time, Lynn's attention is drawn to a set of journals her brother has left behind detailing a long-standing Bloomfield mystery.

As they pursue solving this mystery, Rachel must make some personal decisions about her future, while Lynn is forced to face unexpected issues from her own past.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Last Chance for Justice, go HERE.


Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

Kathi is passionate about The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. To learn more about the persecuted church, please visit VOM’s website and Open Doors Website.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate

Song Stuck on the Brain: Rolling in the Deep by Adele
The Shores of Moses Lake Book #3


Moses Lake is both the most idyllic place to live and also one of hardest - depending on which part of town you live in. It's one of the things I really like about this series. The town is as much a character, alive and breathing, as the main hero/heroine. It has it's small town charms and neighborly qualities that make me think of Mayberry and that alone makes the stories enjoyable. It's a place to escape and enjoy a quirkiness that is unlike my own hometown.

Lisa takes it beyond that and opens our eyes to those rougher areas. The dirt poor in the mountain area that have such poor roads the kids can't make it to school regularly. Illiteracy and low education are rampant along with alcohol and drug use. Drug dealers infest it because they like the seclusion and difficult access. But her characters are the type to fight for change and improvement, to make life better for those who can't help themselves. Each book has carried that fight for right. I love those subplots and angles woven throughout. It's a message of empowerment and faith, overcoming what life deals you, and most of all compassion.

Those are things Mallory Hale really needs in this novel. And endurance. She REALLY needs endurance. Let me say, Daniel and Nick are wonderful, I fell in love with them too, but it took a big leap of faith to follow Daniel to Texas, and the home she finds is in desperate need of a make over. I don't like spoilers, so I'll just say if I'd found what she found, I would have been in town at the local bed and breakfast. No matter how much I loved my new husband! *shudder*

In a lot of ways this felt like a story of someone finding their identity. When life throws big changes our way, even amazing ones, it can throw us off balance. Make us reconsider who we are and just what it is that makes us important or gives us purpose. Mallory has to find the answer to that while also learning to be an instant mom and wife, deal with a move all the way across the country, and solve the murder mystery surrounding her husband's new boss.

Very compelling, fast paced and fun. Lisa Wingate is a fantastic writer and Firefly Island is one more hit on her list.

Check out the first two books in the series and my reviews:

Larkspur Cove book 1 and Blue Moon Bay book 2


At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men--fortunately, they're related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can't imagine her future without them.

Mallory couldn't be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying.

Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?

"Lisa Wingate is a glorious storyteller!" --New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani

1. Tell us a little bit about Moses Lake and West Ranch, and why you chose this as the setting for your novel.

While the town of Moses Lake in the novel is fictional, it is based on a little lakeside community in Central Texas. The area is beautiful and filled with enduring legends about towns, vehicles, and Native American graveyards hidden beneath the water. It is also home to a wide range of residents, ranging from low-income families living on hardscrabble pieces of land in the hills, to tourists visiting upscale waterside resorts, to wealthy vacationers, to nearby Mennonite communities, to ranchers whose ranches border the lake, like the West Ranch in the story. Central Texas is still remote enough that some landowners maintain vast tracts of land. Jack West’s ten thousand acre ranch in the story is large, but not out of line for the region.

Despite the differences among the residents of the lake area, communities are generally friendly and close-knit. When you’re isolated and living miles from town—like Mallory in the story— you have no choice but to get to know your neighbors.

2. Parts of Firefly Island are based on real experience. Can you share a bit about that?

Mallory’s life takes a sudden right turn when her love-at-first-sight flame, Daniel Everson, is offered a job on a remote ranch in faraway Texas. Some years ago, my life took a similar turn when, through a series of family connections, my husband was offered the chance to leave his corporate job and operate a ten thousand acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country.

That was the beginning of wild adventure that would last several years. We knew we’d never get the chance to do something like this again, so we sold our home and went for it. We were scared to death. We had a three-and-a-half-year-old son at the time (the age of Daniel’s son, Nick, in the story). Like Mallory, we worried about what the schools would be like that far out in the country, how we would find playmates for our son, and whether he would be lonely, living miles from other families. It never occurred to me to wonder whether I would be lonely. I figured that part out after we started our new life!

3. Ranch life and modern-day cowboys are often inaccurately represented in fiction. Can you share a few of the common cowboy myths and the reality of modern cowboy life, based on your experiences?

In general, cowboys are just more likely to be found riding a tractor or a truck than riding a horse. When the day does call for horseback work, such as moving cattle from one location to another, or sorting off calves at weaning time, it’s often an event that hired hands and families look forward to, and family members frequently come out to participate. Cowboys seldom ride stallions while doing horseback work—that’s a common misnomer in fiction. Stallions tend to be difficult to handle in a working situation, and cowboys can’t risk distractions when there’s a job to be done. Ranch work is long, difficult, and sometimes dangerous.

4. Mallory’s story has been likened to a "modern-day mail-order bride tale." Do you think this fits? In what way?

Mallory experiences the life of a mail-order bride in many ways. Because she and Daniel have only known each other a short time when the job move forces a huge leap of faith in their relationship, she finds herself married to a man she adores, but barely knows. Like any newly-married couple, they have much to learn about each other, but Mallory is also facing the sudden step-parenthood of three-year-old Nick, and the trials of leaving behind her family, her career, her friends, her identity, and all that is familiar. The challenges of life on a ranch are completely foreign to her.

In days of old, mail-order brides faced many of the same challenges. Our great-great grandmothers attempted to solve the problem by writing letters home, joining in sewing circles and ladies’ societies in their new locations, and sometimes by documenting their experiences in journals. Mallory finds herself unwillingly drawn into the tradition of journaling, but in a much more modern way, when she stumbles into the blogging life. As the blog draws fans, she becomes The Frontier Woman, and her world expands in ways she could never have dreamed.

5. Firefly Island delves into some particularly timely issues, including a political scandal. Where did you get the idea for the events that eventually threaten Mallory’s marriage and her new life?  
Stories are stitched together in so many ways. With every story I write, the end result is equal parts pre-plotting and serendipity. The political scandal in
Firefly Island was largely a product of serendipity and timing. As I was writing the book, a local controversy was brewing in Central Texas. I learned about it when I happened to attend an event in my hometown and sat next to someone who’d been fighting a David-and-Goliath-style battle against political powerbrokers. While the events in the story were only partially inspired by the ugly reality brewing, that little nugget of local intrigue generated the perfect challenge to Mallory’s newfound life–a battle that she, with her experience in national politics, is uniquely suited to fight.

6. What do you hope readers take away from their journey to Firefly Island?
At its heart, even with the larger issues of political scandal and local challenges, Firefly Island is a story about families, friendships, about community—how it develops and why we need it. Human beings are, at the most basic level, communal creatures. There’s so much evidence that people are happier and healthier, that we’re more generous and open with one another, that families are stronger and children achieve more when strong ties of friendship and community are there. These days, technology, busy schedules, and an on-the-go lifestyle compete with relationship-building activities, chipping away at the very thing we need the most. So often our society tells people that success is in not having to rely on anyone, but we were created to give and take, to need each other. I hope that
Firefly Island provides a challenge to all of us, to see what we can contribute and what we can gain from the people we cross paths with in our neighborhoods and communities.



Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, Talk of the Town, Blue Moon Bay, and Larkspur Cove, which won the 2011 Carol Award for Women's Fiction. Lisa and her family live in central Texas. Visit

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus

Follow the Heart
Book 1 of the Great Exhibition Series
Kaye Dacus
My Take:
It's a Kaye Dacus book... of COURSE it was fantastic! I got started with Kaye's contemporary novels and was hooked in moments. I knew her historicals would be just as good and they are. When the opportunity arose to review Follow the Heart, book 1 of the Great Exhibition series, I jumped at the chance immediately. Great Exhibition. Bonus!
Kate and Christopher are under a lot of pressure to marry and marry well. That would mean ignoring their hearts' leading , in order to do what society and family deems appropriate. Could you stand against family and traditions to follow your heart? I'd like to think I could. It seems easy to say yes, but living their journey with them makes it clear how much a struggle that can be. With loved ones standing on both sides of the choice, it can be hard to Follow the Heart.
Kaye's latest is engaging, exiting and full of romance and fun historical setting that pulls you back into the past as if you were there in person.
About the Book:
Kate and Christopher Dearing’s lives turn upside down when their father loses everything in a railroad land speculation. The siblings are shipped off to their mother’s brother in England with one edict: marry money.
At twenty-seven years old, Kate has the stigma of being passed over by eligible men many times—and that was before she had no dowry. Christopher would like nothing better than to make his own way in the world; and with a law degree and expertise in the burgeoning railroad industry, he was primed to do just that—in America.
Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate and Christopher find matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, their attentions stray to a gardener and a governess.
While Christopher has options that would enable him to lay his affections where he chooses, he cannot let the burden of their family’s finances crush his sister. Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy— gardener aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a wealthy viscount shows interest in her. But is marrying for the financial security of her family the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?
Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?
Chat with the Author:
Welcome Kaye. I just want to say what a beautiful cover for the new book. How long did it take to write?
A. I came up with the story idea in August 2010 and wrote up a proposal which my agent started pitching. In January 2011, I wrote three sample chapters at the request of a few publishers. But I didn’t write any more than that until August 2011 when I signed the contract with B&H. I turned the manuscript in the first week of May 2012. So it was almost two years from concept to completion, but about nine months of actual focused writing.
Q. How does Follow the Heart fit with the other books you’ve written?
A. Follow the Heart and the Great Exhibition series are similar to my contemporary series (The Brides of Bonneterre and the Matchmakers series with Barbour Publishing) as they are light-hearted, stand-alone novels which are tied together with recurring characters and a familiar setting. They’re also similar to The Ransome Trilogy (Harvest House Publishers) as I try to fully immerse the reader in the language, fashion, and details of the historical era. And each book fulfills my promise of “Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters” that my readers have come to expect.
Q. What’s the takeaway/what do you hope will stick with people when they finish reading the book?
A. Women, especially, tend to look at our choices as a series of obligations—we do what we feel we are obligated to do for the sake of our families, not necessarily what we feel our hearts are telling us to do. I believe, and it’s the theme of this book, that we spend too much time worrying about how we can fix/help/support our families (or those around us at work or in friendships) and not enough time listening to and trusting God. When we pray, we tend to tell God what’s wrong and ask him to fix it. But do we ever really take the time to just be still and listen to what God is trying to tell us? And can we really let God take care of those we feel responsible for and let go of that burden of responsibility that may not, in truth, be ours to bear?
Q. How did you get into the mindset/history of the era?
A. I had a basic knowledge of the mid-19th Century in England through studying both history and literature in college. But I really started learning about it in earnest when I became fascinated with the Great Exhibition several years ago and decided it would make a great backdrop to a series. I tend to first start getting into an era by watching costume-drama adaptations of novels written or set during that time and in that location. In this case—lots of Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell, and lots of bio-pics about Queen Victoria’s early life/rule. Can it get any better? Being able to watch North & South and The Young Victoria over and over and over again and call it “research”? Then I start reading the books on which those movies are based. I “collect” interesting words and turns of phrase, look for methods and manners to behavior and social interaction, get a feel for the way the English language was used by those who knew it best during that time. I also find nonfiction research books that can explain the household, society, gender politics, travel modes, fashion, etc.
Q. Did you learn anything surprising?
A. I learned that the word suburbs was in use by the 1850s (it appears in the opening scene of Dickens’s Bleak House). I also learned that the railway in England had not spread as far by 1851 as I originally thought. It was still really in its infancy—which ended up working to my advantage. And I learned so much about the Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition, much of which I’ve tried to weave into the story.
Q. What interests you most about the Victorian era?
A. I love that it still has the sensibility of the Regency era—from the activities like balls and dinners to the formality of courting customs—yet in 1851, the world is on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution: train and steamboat travel, telegraph, indoor plumbing (“retiring/refreshing rooms” with pay toilets at the Great Exhibition!). I also love that women were starting to come into their own a bit more. Still not considered equals, but at least starting to get some recognition for their contributions and accomplishments in society.
Q. Any other eras you'd like to write?
A. So far, I’ve written contemporary, Regency, and Early Victorian. I really like the flexibility of the Early Victorian setting (the industrial conveniences beginning to make life a little easier). If more historicals are in my future, I’ll probably stick with the 19th century. I have a good base of knowledge of it and I’m comfortable with the language and mores of the major social movements of that century.
Q. Where did the idea come from/what was the inspiration?
A. In 2001, I watched Victoria & Albert on A&E and fell in love with the love story of these two monarchs of England. But that wasn’t the only thing I took away from it. I was also fascinated by the scenes which portrayed the planning and opening of Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition in 1851. Then, a few years later, I watched another mini-series: North & South. No, not the one about the American Civil War, the one based on the classic, but little-known, novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. It also has a scene that takes place at the Great Exhibition. Once I saw that, I was hooked—on the era and on the event.


Q. What was it like writing a dual romance?
A. It was hard, at times, to make sure that both romantic storylines got enough attention. And, obviously, both could not be the focus of the plot. But both were important, as they were intertwined (I know, that sounds weird since we’re talking a brother and sister here) in how the development of the relationships affected the decisions both Kate and Christopher could/would make.
Q. Which character in this book is most like you?
A. All of my characters incorporate parts of me, so this is a hard question to answer. I’d probably have to say Kate, though, and not just because we share the same full first name. Like Kate, I tend to take on a lot of responsibility and feel obligated to do things because I think it’s my duty. I don’t want to disappoint others, so I’ll work myself literally into a sickbed rather than delegate or let something slide.
Q. Which character in this book was the most fun to write?
A. Christopher, being lighthearted and easygoing, was the most fun to write. I always found myself in a better mood when I was writing his scenes.
Q. Which character in this book was the hardest to write?
A. Lord Thynne (pronounced tine, like the tine of a fork) turned out to be the hardest to write—to get his motivations right but also keep him sympathetic, since he comes back in Book 3.
Q. How did you choose your characters' names?
A. Funny story . . . Kate’s name was originally Meg and her maid’s name was Joan. Until I picked up a book by a writer friend and discovered those two names (as heroine and her maid, no less!) on the first page. So I went back to my original story idea and the images of the actress who’s the template for the character.  And almost as soon as I did, I heard her voice very distinctly in my head: My name is KATE. But rich men don’t marry Kates. They marry Katharines. So I changed her name and nickname to Katharine/Kate (Katharine spelled with an A in the middle in honor of my favorite actress Katharine Hepburn.) Andrew is a name I’ve always loved and wanted to use, and it suited this landscape architect perfectly.
Q. Why did you choose to set this series in Oxford, when the Great Exhibition took place in London?
A. I read at least three or four British-set historical romances each month—and without fail, the majority of them are set in London. It’s a setting that has become over-exposed. Also, with a landscape architect as my main hero, I needed the action to take place at a country house, not in the city. By the 1850s, Oxford was a large enough city to have railway service to all of the other major cities, but still quaint/small enough to give the small-town feel that I love to use in my stories. Plus, there was a lot of chaos happening in London in early 1851 due to the final preparations for the Great Exhibition, and I felt like that could overwhelm what I wanted my story and settings to be.
Q. How did you become a writer?   
A. Even though I started writing when I was twelve or thirteen (writing down the stories I’d been playing out with my Barbies so I’d remember the next day), it wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen when I really felt like writing was what I wanted to do with my life. I just didn’t have anyone around me who knew how to direct me. My parents encouraged me, but they weren’t sure how to give me guidance. I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher in high school and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to be like him—I wanted to be able to teach others how to do what it was I loved doing so much. But it wasn’t until much later in my life, at the age of thirty when I attended my first writers’ conference, that I truly realized I wanted to pursue publication.
Q. How do you write both historical and contemporary?           
A. The short answer is: I write both contemporary and historical because I’ve had ideas for both contemporary and historical novels. I also enjoy writing both. While they take the same amount of effort creatively to come up with the storyline and develop the characters, there is more work that goes into writing the historicals due to the higher amount of research (yes, contemporaries take research, too) and making sure I’m using era-appropriate language as much as possible. For me, I like alternating writing them, because one is almost like a palate cleanser for the other. Each challenges me in a different way, and I do truly love writing both.
Q. If you had to choose another genre to write in, what would it be?      
A. As Jeff Gerke (publisher, Marcher Lord Press) is fond of reminding me: everyone has a science fiction book in them somewhere. And he’s right. I’m a long-time sci-fi TV/movie fan (I’ve been to a few Star Trek conventions, after all), and I’ve recently been playing around with an idea for a sci-fi story/series. It’s mostly world-building and character development at this point, but it’s a fun diversion.
Q. What was/were your favorite book(s) growing up?
A. I loved the Little House on the Prairie books (still have the original yellow-cover copies from childhood). As a ’tween, I discovered the Sunfire YA romances, and I was hooked!

Q. How do you work, teach, and write at the same time?           
A. It’s hard—and I have to admit that in the first six to eight months after going back to work full-time and starting to teach part-time, it was hard trying to figure out a balance. But once I put myself on a strict schedule—and started making myself meet a word-count goal daily—it started getting much easier. I do much better when I have too much to do than when I have not enough.
Q. How do you "write in the car" when you're traveling by yourself?      
A. A few years ago, when I was working freelance and traveling to speaking events, conferences, and appearances several times a month, I discovered that my laptop came with speech recognition software as part of Windows 7. With a microphone headset, I discovered that I could dictate into Word and redeem all of that travel time—and then I wasn’t having to try to furtively and frantically write when I got where I was going. Even though I don’t travel as often now, I do still occasionally use that as a time to get some word-count in so that I don’t feel so guilty about not writing when I get where I’m going.
Q. What's next?   
A. I’m currently finishing up editing the second book in this series, An Honest Heart, and writing The Heart that Waits, which is the third and final book in the Great Exhibition series.  After that . . . who knows?
Q. What's your favorite romance novel/ist?  
A. I’ve fallen in and out of love with so many writers/books over the years. I’d have to say, though, that the author whose books most affected me was Willow Davis Roberts. Her Sunfire romance Victoria was the book that led me to start writing (I loved it so much I tried writing a sequel). I also loved Caroline (Sunfire). But the one I continue to read at least once a year was a stand-alone YA gothic romance, White Jade.
Q. Who's your favorite author from classic literature?               
A. Can it be any other than Jane Austen? Though I read parts of P&P in my high school Brit Lit class where we also watched the (1980s) miniseries, it wasn’t until I read Persuasion when I was 27 years old that I truly fell in love with the grand-matriarch of the romance genre.
Q. What's your favorite costume drama movie/mini-series?     
A. It’s so hard to pick just one. But right now, I’d have to go with The Young Victoria. I’ve watched it so many times in the past few years, it’s a wonder my DVD isn’t worn out!
Q. Describe a day in the life of Kaye Dacus.   
A. After dragging myself out of the bed between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. (I’m not a morning person!) to get ready for work, I get to the office around 8:00 a.m. If I don’t have other plans at lunchtime (meeting friends or running errands or other appointments), I will have a sandwich at my desk while trying to get in my 1,000 daily words on my manuscript. At 4:30, when the workday ends, I either stay at the office until I finish my word-count, or I’m off to the gym (and on Tuesdays, it’s off to Panera to write with dear friend Liz Johnson). At home, I’m either grading papers for the composition class I teach or I’m working on something for one or more of my books (editing, proofing, marketing, etc.). At ten o’clock, I’m in the bed, where I spend the next hour or so winding down by catching up on blogs and then reading. Around 11 p.m. is lights-out. Pretty boring stuff.
Q. How many complete manuscripts have you written, and which one do you have the strongest emotional bond with?           
A. Counting the book due to my publisher on June 1, I have written fifteen complete manuscripts—three unpublished and twelve published (or soon to be).  If I had to pick one book with which I still have the strongest bond, I’d probably have to go with The Art of Romance. Even though I put so much of myself into all of my characters, there’s just something special about Dylan and Caylor that makes them—and their story—continue on in my imagination long after finishing the book.
Q. What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?            
A. When I dropped out of college at age 21, I was the first person in three generations on my mom’s side of the family not to finish my education. So when I walked across the stage almost fifteen years later to receive my hood and Master’s Degree, that was one of the proudest moments of my life. Getting my first book contract comes pretty close, though.
On your desk: Most worthless item? 
A bent-out-of-shape paper clip.
On your desk: Most priceless item?                
Framed family photo.
On your desk: Most revealing item?               
Several different stacks of papers/folders/notebooks/books in slight disarray.
On your desk: Most fun item?          
Thor bobblehead.

Please note this is not a picture of the bobble head Kaye Dacus owns
On your desk: Most embarrassing item?        
An unopened pack of Taco Bell Hot sauce which has been sitting here for more than two weeks.
What's your biggest time waster/distraction?               
Do you collect anything?   
Karl Urban character action figures (Eomer, Dr. McCoy, etc.)
Who's your secret celebrity crush?
I have two, and they’re not such a big secret (I have a board dedicated to them on Pinterest): Oded Fehr and Karl Urban. I call them my “alternate-universe husbands.” 
What's your guilty pleasure?            
Bingeing on as many episodes of Supernatural on Netflix as I can watch in one sitting.
What household task do you dread/enjoy?   
Dread: Anything involving cleaning or paying bills
Enjoy: Cooking
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?         
If I’m not at work and I’m not writing, I’m doing one of the following three things: hanging out with friends (usually dinner and a movie), watching TV/Netflix/DVDs at home, or reading.
If you were to star in a romantic movie, would it be contemporary or historical, drama or comedy, and what actor would play your leading man?     
If I were to star in a romantic movie, it would be a humorous contemporary. Melissa McCarthy, Queen Latifah, and Adele would play my three best friends with whom I share a large house in the ’burbs of Nashville, and Oded Fehr would be a highly respected (and wealthy) surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and he would fall head-over-heels in love with me. Of course, tomorrow, I could be an independent Englishwoman who travels to New Zealand in the early 20th Century there to meet the handsome, charming Karl Urban and, after some humorous misunderstandings and miscommunication, we live happily ever after on our sheep farm.
Pop, Soda, or Coke? What do you call it, and what’s your favorite variety?            
I grew up calling it coke—growing up in the Southwest and having lots of Southern influences in my family. But after living in the Mid-Atlantic for several years as well as then being an editor and learning to spot brand names and edit them out, I now typically call it soda. My favorite variety right now is the Kroger house brand diet cherry cola.
NOTE: This blogger says its Pop. Always. :)
What’s your favorite dessert?          
Crème brûlée.
Mmm. I agree with you there.
What’s your favorite movie from childhood?
Star Wars.
Thanks for the fun and fascinating interview, Kaye. We appreciate your time in sharing with us.
About the Author:
Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing, Harvest House Publishers, and B&H Publishing. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a full-time academic advisor and part-time English Composition instructor for Bethel University.