Jennifer Lamont Leo

Sparkling Vintage Fiction. Among other things.

Cozy winter reads for December

December 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary:

Rebecca’s Redemption by Lee Carver — A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing. (Contemporary, Independently Published)


Contemporary Romance:

The Christmas Baby by Lisa Carter — Mistletoe Mommy Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher — Nick’s love of thrills and danger and Samantha’s love of safety and security drove them apart two years ago. After her worst fears came true, can they build something new upon the ashes of the past? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf — Conrad Hamilton thought his life would be easy. A great job running his own construction business, living in his hometown in Door County, Wisconsin, with Lila Clark by his side. He planned on marrying her as soon as she returned from her Chicago internship but it never happened.
Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor did she plan on spending the last decade in New York. But she did. Can the magic of Christmas turn two hearts back to one another again or is it too late to capture that special kind of perfect? (Contemporary Romance from Prism Christian Publishing)

Under the Mistletoe: A Christian Christmas Anthology by Jenna Brandt, Lorana Hoopes, Carol E. Keen, Elle E. Kay, Mary C. Findley, Judith Robl, Evangeline Kelly, C.J. Samuels — Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you 8 wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Making Spirits Bright by Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, April Hayman — Christmas is a season for new beginnings and second chances. A time for hope and joy and laughter. A time for people of all ages to find love and come together in community. Making Spirits Bright is a collection of just such stories – four never-before-published inspirational Christmas novellas. From romance to cozy mystery, with a generous dash of humor, these contemporary stories are sure to warm your heart as well as brighten your season and lift your Christmas spirit. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:



The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection by Mary Connealy — The Old West comes to life under the talented pen of bestselling author Mary Connealy. Enjoy a lighthearted ride alongside seven historical and one contemporary cowboys and the women who tame their hearts. (Historical/Contemporary Romance Novella from Barbour Publishing)



Would-Be Mistletoe Wife by Christine Johnson — Worried she might lose her teaching job if funding is cut for her boarding school, widow Louise Smythe must consider marriage. But the only prospective groom in town is lighthouse-keeper Jesse Hammond, and he wants children–something she may never be able to provide. While Jesse waits for the ideal woman to make his wife, though, Louise can’t help but long for something more than his friendship. If he wants to be promoted to head lighthouse keeper, Jesse needs to find a wife suited to his rustic lifestyle. But as he and Louise partner to give the town’s homeless orphans a joyous holiday, he’s drawn to the petite woman. Will the light of Christmas finally inspire them to trust in each other’s hearts? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Circle of Blessings by Deborah Raney — A young college student is determined to win the love of her English professor at the university in the Dakota Territory where she is studying to be an architect. (Historical Romance from Raney Day Press)


Historical:

Return to Bella Terra by MaryAnn Diorio — When she receives word that her mother is terminally ill, Maria Landro Tonetta travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When, however, Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream.
But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul? (Historical, Independently Published)

Brides of Minnesota by Lena Nelson Dooley — Follow a Swedish family’s journey as they settle in Minnesota where each brother seeks a living—and wife. (Historical from Barbour Publishing)


Mystery:

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert — When the dead body of an overdosed teen turns up next to Tess Spencer’s mom’s trailer, it’ll take a miracle to keep Tess from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs. (Mystery, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman — The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they? (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Holiday Secrets by Susan Sleeman — When his ex is thrust into the crosshairs of a deadly syndicate, FBI agent Gavin McKade will do whatever it takes to protect her. Even work the case with his stubborn sheriff dad. As if protecting Lexie from professional killers isn’t difficult enough, the unlikely reunion has rekindled their complicated romantic connection. But if Gavin can’t untangle Lexie from this dangerous web, the blurring line between duty and love may not matter…because this Christmas could be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:

The Redemption of Jedidiah Pinkney by J.R. Pitts — A crippled and bullied young boy finds redemption and healing after an encounter with Jesus. (Speculative from Ambassador Inte

Sparkling Vintage Interview with Karen Barnett, author of THE ROAD TO PARADISE

**UPDATE** Kit Tosello won a free e-book copy of The Road to Paradise. Thanks for stopping by, Kit! I know you’ll love the book.**

When I was ten, my family took a road trip from Chicago to San Francisco and back. One memorable highlight was our stay at Yosemite National Park. I was amazed then, and still am today, at the incredible beauty of America’s national parks, and the leaders who had the foresight to preserve them for the public to enjoy for decades to come.

Since then, I’ve visited several other parks, including Hot Springs, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks–each breathtakingly gorgeous in its own way. But topping my to-visit list currently is Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park.

In 1901, renowned naturalist John Muir wrote of this park, “Of all the fire-mountains which, like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.” It seems fitting, then,  that author Karen Barnett chose Mount Rainier as the setting for her historical novel, The Road to Paradise, the first in the new Vintage National Parks series.

The Road to Paradise (published by Waterbrook) takes the reader on a journey to Mount Rainier National Park through the eyes of Margie Lane, a naive young socialite who is drawn to the park by her love of nature as well as her wish to escape an undesirable situation at home. The year is 1927, but unlike in the cities, the only things “roaring” in the park are bears and mountain lions. New to park life, Margie at first butts heads with the reclusive park ranger assigned to help her get her bearings. But soon they find themselves working together to stop an unscrupulous businessman from ruining the park for his own profit. The Road to Paradise offers plenty of romance and intrigue against the rugged, untamed beauty of the mountain wilderness.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Road to Paradise, especially the details of what it was like for a woman to work there during my very favorite era, the 1920s. Come join Karen Barnett and me in our imaginary park lodge as we settle into comfortable chairs near the great stone fireplace and have a chat.

Jennifer Lamont Leo: Tell us a bit about the story behind The Road to Paradise. You used to be a forest ranger, right? Tell us a little about that. Is that where you got your inspiration?

Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier as it appeared in Margie’s day.

Karen Barnett: That’s definitely what inspired the Vintage National Parks novels. I worked as a park ranger at both Mount Rainier National Park and at Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park. I started working in parks while I was still in college and graduate school and had some of the best summers of my life doing so. There’s nothing like living in a national park all summer, spending time with people who are enjoying the beautiful outdoors, and then having the park all to yourself after they head home. I still remember grabbing my breakfast and sitting outside the park housing at Mount Rainier watching the sunrise turning the peak purple and pink. The joke is always that rangers are paid in sunrises and sunsets. It’s actually pretty true.

I’d been working for Oregon State Parks for a couple of years when we decided to start our family. I stepped away from park work to become a stay-at-home mom and to follow a new dream—writing. It took over a decade to get my writing career off the ground, though, so I don’t encourage aspiring writers to quit their day job.

JLL: “Forest ranger” sounds like a dream job to many of us desk-bound types. Do you ever wish you still had that job?

Author Karen Barnett

KB: I do–often. I miss working in beautiful places and opening people’s eyes to the intricacies of the natural world. I sometimes have to remind myself that it was also a draining job. When you put on the big hat, you’re a public commodity and always have to be ready to represent the park’s public image or enforce park regulations. You also are expected to work weekends, evenings, summers, and holidays. Whenever the rest of the world is out playing, you’re on the job. And park housing wasn’t always about the sunrises–think cramped quarters that you share with rodents and large insects. So there are definitely good and bad aspects of the job. But I still miss it.

JLL: Have conditions changed much for National Park employees since the 1920s? If so, how? What things remain similar?

KB: In preparation for writing The Road to Paradise, I spent time in the archives at Mount Rainier reading through the Chief Ranger’s monthly reports for 1927 to get a feeling for what my hero would be doing on a daily basis. I was surprised to find him doing some very basic work like repairing phone wires, refinishing wood floors, patrolling trails, and such. Today that position is much more administrative. In fact, I’d say the NPS as a whole has become more streamlined and specialized. Rangers are hired for specific types of jobs. I was part of the interpretive staff—the naturalists who run the campfire programs, offer guided hikes, answer questions at the visitor centers, and get to work with cute little junior rangers. Other rangers serve as park police, climbing rangers, natural resource stewards, fee collectors, trail crew, maintenance, etc.

Also, as shown in The Road to Paradise, 1920s-era park service was a man’s world. There were a few isolated cases of women rangers scattered around the country, but the staff was overwhelmingly male. Parks still struggle with cases of discrimination and sexual harassment (there have been some very public cases in the past ten years), but I wasn’t aware of any in the parks where I worked. [If you’d like to know more about the history of women in the parks, head over to my website and sign up for my email newsletter. You’ll receive a link to a free download of my “Women in the National Parks” e-booklet.]

JLL: The Vintage National Parks series follows your earlier series set in San Francisco. As the old song goes, does your “heart belong” in the West? Do you find the region a particularly rich source of story ideas?

KB: I’ve spent most of my life in the west, so it’s a comfortable place for me to set novels. I’m familiar with the lay of the land, the climate, the smells, and sounds. That frees up some of my research time to focus on the history rather than the basics of the setting. But with that said, I’m not opposed to writing farther afield in the future. I have a simmering story idea that centers around a hot spring resort in Georgia, and if I end up writing more books about National Parks (after these three), I’d love to explore parks located in other regions of the country.  

JLL: Do you share any personality traits in common with your main character, Margie? Is she based on anyone you know?

KB: I originally based Margie on my own experiences in the National Park Service. When I first started working as a ranger, I had a huge amount of enthusiasm and book knowledge, but no practical outdoors skills. As I wrote Margie’s character, however, she took on a voice all her own. She’s poetic, artistic, and whimsical—much more so than me. One reader compared her to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne Shirley character, and I can definitely see that.

JLL: What inspires you to write historical fiction?

KB: I write historical fiction because I have a secret desire to travel through time. I’m not a genius inventor, so this is my way of accomplishing that dream.

JLL: How did you choose the time period(s) you write in?

KB: Both my debut novel (Mistaken) and the Golden Gate Chronicles were inspired by historical events, so the time periods were pretty set. With The Road to Paradise, I was looking to tell the story of women breaking into this male-dominated profession and the 1920s just felt like the right time for that to me. The 1920s and 30s were a period of massive change for our nation and also a golden age for our national parks. People were beginning to embrace the idea of family vacations and traveling for the purpose of recreation. Prior to that, most US travel was done for economic or family reasons.

JLL: What are some ways you “refill the well” of your creativity?

KB: That’s a great question and is something I’ve honestly struggled with in the past year. I used to say that watching TV and movies in my downtime inspired me (I’m a Netflix junkie), but I discovered recently that it had begun to actually sap my desire to write. So in recent months, I’ve started reading a lot more—coming back to my “first love” if you will. Seeing what some of my favorite authors are doing in their novels inspires me to get back to the computer and improve my own craft.

I also enjoy photography. My dad is a retired photographer, and he taught me a lot about viewing the world through a camera lens. I find that my favorite photos are the ones that tell a story, or at least hint at one.

JLL: What aspects of novel-writing do you enjoy most? Least?

KB: I love the research most of all. I get all giddy when I find a great book or webpage that will provide fodder for my writing. I also love to travel and immerse myself in the setting. Sometimes it’s tough for me to put the research aside and get on to the task of writing.

Least? The self doubt. Whenever I’m about two thirds of the way through the first draft of a manuscript, all the negative voices start chanting in my head:
You’ll never finish this.
Who would read this garbage?
Everyone’s going to realize you’re not really talented.
Why did you ever start this?
It makes me shudder just thinking about it. I don’t think the voices really abate until after the novel is published and the first reviews begin to roll in, but by then I’m on to another project. This writing business is not for the faint-hearted.

JLL: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantster”?

KB: I’m a pantster. I do write a loose synopsis so I know the general framework of the plot, but I leave myself lots of wiggle room. I like when the characters surprise me. Those moments always take me off-guard, but it’s also a lot of fun. I do have to say that being a pantster is also terrifying. The blinking cursor is NOT my friend.

JLL: What are you working on now?

KB: I’m currently writing the third book in the Vintage National Parks series. It is set in Yellowstone in 1934 and will feature a woman who has grown up in Yellowstone, a hero who has never been off the streets of Brooklyn, and one of FDR’s New Deal programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps. I’m still in the early stages of writing this one, and already the characters are flying off the page. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

JLL: The Road to Paradise is part of a series, right? Tell us a little about the other books in the series.

KB: I guess I just told you about book three, didn’t I? Haha! The second book of the series is undergoing edits at my publishing house and will release this June. Where the Fire Falls is set in 1929 Yosemite. Olivia Rutherford has rocketed onto the watercolor art scene and mastered an avant-garde reputation to distract wealthy buyers from her family’s shameful past. When she is hired by a popular travel magazine to illustrate Yosemite and its one-of-a-kind Firefall, she hopes the lucrative contract will lift her and her sisters from poverty. Trail guide Clark Johnson knows a lot about running from your past, but he also knows that God sometimes uses Yosemite to show people who they really are—or rather, who He wants them to be.

 Thanks, Karen!

Look for The Road to Paradise and other books by Karen Barnett at your favorite bookseller. To enter to win a free e-book of The Road to Paradise, simply leave a comment below. I’ll pick a winner at random on Wednesday, December 6, 2017.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 I’m grateful for each and every one of you, dear readers, whether you are celebrating today in the U.S. or you live elsewhere and it’s just an ordinary Thursday.

May all your turkeys be tender, your pies baked to perfection, your conversations free of arguments, and, above all, your hearts filled with thanks and gratitude to God, from whom all blessings flow.

XOXO,

Jennifer

The Friday Five-November 3, 2017

What I’m reading: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie. This classic whodunnit is the inaugural selection in my new Sparkling Vintage Ladies’ Reading Circle on Facebook. The Sparkling Vintage Ladies’ Reading Circle is open to any vintage-minded woman (or girl) who likes reading stories written or set in the early 20th century, with the aim of reading and discussing one book a month.

Photo credit: Thomas Leo

What I’m listening to: The sound of my husband’s snow plow clearing our looooong driveway after an unseasonably heavy snowstorm last night.

What I discovered this week: The intricate and ever-changing complications of advertising on Facebook.

What I’m Working on: Still working on a Christmas short story featuring characters from You’re the Cream in My Coffee and the forthcoming sequel, Ain’t Misbehavin’. I’d better get cracking or Christmas will have come and gone before I get it done!

What I’m going to: Lunch with a dear friend at The View Cafe in Cocolalla, Idaho (best patty melts in town–yummm!). Did you know that the patty melt originated in North Carolina in the 1940s or 1950s? According to the fun site todayIfoundout.com, the patty melt is “a ground beef patty topped with either American, Swiss or cheddar cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, pan fried in butter.” Sounds pretty perfect to me, here on an unseasonably snowy day in North Idaho.

What are you up to today?

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Announcing the Sparkling Vintage Ladies’ Reading Circle!

 

Big news, Sparklers! The brand-new Sparkling Vintage Ladies’ Reading Circle has opened its virtual doors on Facebook! We’ll be discussing historical fiction, mostly from (or set in) the early 20th century, starting in November with MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie.

Our goal is to read and discuss one book per month. If you’re a lady who enjoys reading historical fiction, come join us here, and be sure to invite any friends who might be interested!

White gloves optional.

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Sparkling Vintage Gathering: An Early 20th Century Christian Fiction Lovers “sociable” on Facebook!

Hello, Sparklers! Just a quick message to tell you I’ll be participating in an Early 20th Century Christian Fiction Lovers Facebook party. on Friday, October 6, 2017. I’m one of 8 authors who will appear in half-hour segments beginning at 3 p.m. Pacific time (6 p.m. Eastern). My own slot is from 3:30-4 p.m. Pacific. I’ll be giving away a copy of You’re the Cream in My Coffee as well as a sparkly butterfly necklace from the 1928 Company (pictured at left) because the story’s set in 1928. There’ll be 7 other authors appearing as well, with other great prizes. Find out all the details here and drop in if you’re able.

Sparkle on!

Jennifer

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Rake up some colorful new reads for October!

October 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner — Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a “scandalous” book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Waltz for Amber by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Amber, a struggling dance teacher, is desperate to make a success of her studio. The quickly approaching Christmas recital should help except for one problem—the high school music teacher scheduled the holiday program on the same night, causing a conflict for her students. Will she be able to sustain her business or will she lose everything in the pursuit of her dream? Chris is thrilled to be back in his hometown. However, his past won’t stay in the past, and the pretty dance instructor is a constant reminder of his failings. He wants to make up for his youthful mistake directed at her, but how? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Secret Christmas Twins by Lee Tobin McClain — Christmas came early for Erica Lindholm! Suddenly a mom to adorable twin baby boys and part owner of a snowy small-town Pennsylvania farm, Erica is living her dream. Until the boys’ estranged uncle, Jason Stephanidis, comes home to celebrate the holidays. The handsome, brooding detective turns out to be a natural with the babies…and with Erica’s wounded heart. But if Jason knew the truth about their identities, her picture-perfect life could melt away. Will Erica’s secret cost her everything? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Fall Into Romance by Melanie D. Snitker Surround yourself in the romance of the autumn season with 10 heartwarming, sweet novellas from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Each story takes you inside the heart of a small town—its people—and features adorable animal friends in need of a forever home.
Take a trip to Romance, Oregon, where falling in love has never been easier and happily-ever-after is guaranteed! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Texas Holiday Reunion by Shannon Taylor Vannatter — With her foreman out of commission, Resa McCall needs horse trainer Colson Kincaid to run her family ranch through the holidays. But having the handsome single dad back in Bandera, Texas, is unsettling. Colson broke Resa’s heart years ago, and she can’t risk getting close again. Still, working with him and bonding with his sweet little girl is making the ranch feel merry and bright. Being at Resa’s side stirs up emotions Colson thought were long gone. But he has a powerful secret that could keep them apart forever. Can Colson give Resa the one Christmas present that might finally bring them back together—the truth? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall — Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them. Promises shattered. Lies spoken. She was arrested. He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.
Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family. Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all? (Contemporary Romance from Woodsmall Press)


General Contemporary (includes Women’s Fiction):


Piper’s Passion by Lee Carver — Piper Jordan, an American reared in Brazil, had her pilot’s license before she could drive and her aviation maintenance certificate before her business degree. Pulled between two countries, two career paths, and separated parents, she strives to determine what is significant and what to do with her life.
Kyle Chamberlain, pilot with Outreach for Christ, wears a wedding ring that says he’s not ready to date again after Rosanna’s death. Wielding a wrench with the cutest pilot/mechanic he’s ever seen turns his head. But would a dynamic woman with her talents and eventual inheritance accept his missionary life in the Amazon? (Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)



Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon — Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Historical:

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano — When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company. When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death. (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T Toney — In 1925, a thirteen-year-old boy witnesses a crime—the murder of a family friend—and must choose whether to remain silent as his father asks or defy mobsters and corrupt police to save his family. (Historical from Write Integrity Press)


Historical Romance:

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander — In the midst of war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas, the cost of love . . . and of loving again. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The Captive Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Lucy Thompson, and Gina Welborn — Journey along as nine historical women are about to make their escape from some of life’s greatest challenges. Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


A Mountain Christmas Romance by Misty M. Beller — Stripped of the family so important to his Viking heritage, Matthias Bjork is now on the hunt for his sister. Despite combing the entire Wyoming Territory, he hasn’t found any substantial leads regarding his sister’s whereabouts, but he has discovered a most unusual woman.
Opal Boyd has finally found the haven she’s longed for all her life, in a most unlikely place—working for a German couple in this remote Wyoming mountain town. She learned long ago that most men couldn’t be trusted, but when a mountain man stops in the boarding house where she works, he seems to have the respect and affection of the two people she’s learned to trust implicitly.
But when Matthias’ search for his sister takes an unexpected twist, Opal is forced to make a choice that will alter the course of her life—no matter which answer she chooses. When Matthias’ decisions land Opal in danger, what must he sacrifice to rescue her? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

Fool’s Notion by Lisa J. Flickinger — Feisty Alda Lealand braves fifteen hundred miles with a pack string of mules—and the help of an unexpected cowboy–to save the family farm. (Historical Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

Playing by Heart by Carmela A. Martino — Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the “second sister” means she’ll likely be sent to a convent instead. Ironically, Emilia’s pious older sister, Maria, would gladly become a nun. But Father won’t allow it—her brilliant language skills are too important to his quest for noble status. Emilia’s only hope is to prove her musical talents are as indispensable as her sister’s skills. First, though, Emilia must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Before she can carry out her plan, though, Emilia’s mother dies in childbirth. In her sorrow, Emilia composes a heartrending sonata that causes the maestro to finally recognize her talent. He begins teaching her music theory alongside handsome violinist Antonio Bellini, the great-nephew of a wealthy marquis. The two begin as rivals, but Emilia gradually falls in love with him. (Historical Romance from Vinspire Publishing)


Historical Western:

Too Far Down by Mary Connealy — A citified mine operator and a tough western cowgirl are the most unlikely couple of all as they team up to fight the outlaws that want the Cimarron Ranch. (Historical Western from Bethany House [Baker])


Romantic Suspense:

Dangerous Ground by Gayla K. Hiss — Deputy Marshal Kate Phillips comes to the Great Smoky Mountains in search of answers concerning her uncle’s suspicious death, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient family feud and a land dispute with handsome first responder, David Jennings. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Christmas Captive by Liz Johnson — On his cousin’s Christmas cruise wedding, navy SEAL Jordan Somerton anticipated having the typical best man duties—not facing down criminals boarding the ship. But when the luxury liner is infiltrated by men determined to kidnap the flower girl, he’s plunged into an unexpected mission. Maid of honor and DEA agent Amy Delgado hasn’t forgiven Jordan for a misunderstanding in their pasts. But with her young niece targeted, she must draw on Jordan’s skills as a protector. Signs point to an inside job. With a traitor in their midst, can they ensure that every passenger returns home safely for the holidays…even as they find love amid deepening danger? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:

Transfusion by Victoria Buck — The world’s first transhuman must save the world, or save the woman he loves. (Speculative from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Suspense:

Kill Zone by Rick Acker, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Braxton DeGarmo, Luana Ehrlich, Heather Day Gilbert, Heather I. James, Robert Liparulo, Jordyn Redwood, and Jan Thompson — Espionage, hacking, police procedural, international crime and intrigue, covert action, spy, secret police, revenge, snipers…and so much more! Ten brand-new, never-before published novellas of suspense, intrigue, and thrills from ten bestselling Christian thriller authors, all packed into this one anthology. (Suspense from Georgia Press LLC)

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The Friday Five – Sept. 22

What I’m reading: The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett. This 1920s novel is set at Mount Rainier and is part of the author’s Vintage National Parks series. I love it so much that I plan to interview the author at a later date. Stay tuned!

What I’m listening to: Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy podcast. Because hope springs eternal.

What I’m grooving to: The “Classical Plus” track on the Focus at Will app. Classical instrumentals with no lyrics is the best music to keep my focus and concentration levels high.

What I’m going to: Saturday at 4 EST, the awards gala at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. As the event is taking place in Dallas and I am in Idaho, I’m attending by live-streaming. (My book is up for an award in the Debut Novel category–your prayers are appreciated!) In lieu of an evening gown and strappy high-heeled sandals, I’ll be wearing comfies and my favorite penguin slippers.

What I’m working on: A Christmas-themed short story. Still. Plus a couple of editing projects for clients.

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Sparkling Vintage Review: The Murdoch Mysteries

I’ve been enjoying a Canadian series on television that’s certainly not new (it’s on something like season 11), but it’s new to me. Set in the 1890s Toronto,  Murdoch Mysteries features a bright young detective who solves gruesome murders using tactics from the field of forensic science, still in its infancy–techniques we take for granted today, like fingerprinting.

I must admit, I don’t enjoy “gruesome,” and the term is apt in many episodes. However, the stories are well told, the  solutions are interesting and keep me guessing, and the characters are well established and mostly likeable. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is a serious, even brooding detective, an Irish Catholic recovering from a past heartbreak. Medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy) is, somewhat conveniently, a woman, equally bright and more than able to stomach the morgue procedures she performs with relish. There are hints of a budding romance between these two (no spoilers, please–obviously I’m not very far along in the series yet). Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) veers between doubt and awe at Murdoch’s unconventional methods. Bumbling constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) has the wide-eyed clumsiness of youth, but is a good-hearted chap, eager to be of service and learn the ropes from his mentor.

What else I like: The series mixes in real history, like storylines involving Nikola Tesla and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is fun. And of course I love seeing the detailed settings, costumes and props depicting Toronto in the late-Victorian era.

I understand Murdoch Mysteries is based on a series of novels by Maureen Jennings. I must seek them out.

 

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