Hello, Sparklers. It’s been a busy summer in Leo-land!
I submitted a novella to Barbour Publishing for inclusion in the LUMBERJACKS AND LADIES collection coming in February 2022. My story, “Undercover Logger,” is a lighthearted tale about a logger in northern Idaho who’s not what he seems. When he falls in love with the owner of the company, a recently widowed woman who knows precious little about logging, chaos ensues…especially since it appears that somebody has been stealing her logs! The collection also includes novellas by Pegg Thomas, Candice Sue Patterson, and Naomi Musch–all great writers whose stories you’ll love. Preorder your copy of LUMBERJACKS AND LADIES today.
A kind reader alerted me that MOONDROP MIRACLE was mentioned in this sweet cottagecore-themed YouTube video by Darling Desi! The mention pops up at the 21:18 mark if you want to take a peek. The whole video has a rather Anne of Green Gables vibe and is fun to watch if you, too, consider yourself a “kindred spirit.” She mentions several other intriguing-sounding books, like Miss Buncle’s Book by D. E. Stevenson, which makes me feel I’m in good company.
As most of you know, a central event in my novel THE ROSE KEEPER is the Eastland disaster on the Chicago River, 106 years ago, in which 844 lives were lost. An excellent, short video documentary of that tragedy has been posted on YouTube by Fascinating Horror.
And last but not least … drumroll, please … I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of LOVE’S GRAND SWEET SONG, the third book in the Windy City Hearts series, slated to be published in early 2022. The story opens shortly before World War I and the as-yet-unnamed heroine is a diner waitress who rises to become an opera star in–where else?–Chicago. If you loved MOONDROP MIRACLE and THE ROSE KEEPER, I know you’re going to love this one just as much, if not more! Keep watching for preorder details and other news.
Happy reading, Sparklers!
September 2021 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer — Winsome Lake, Wisconsin, is postcard pretty, but for personal chef Jessica Keaton it’s also a last resort. Fired from her dream job, Jess is starting over as a live-in cook and housekeeper. When she arrives, she finds her new employer is in rehab after having a stroke, and Jess expects she’ll be all alone in Elaine Haviland’s quaint house. A chef with no one to cook for. Instead, she encounters a constant stream of colorful visitors who draw her back into the world. (Contemporary/Women’s Fiction from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Heart of Splendid Lake by Amy Clipston — When Brianna Porter’s father unexpectedly dies, Brianna is steeped in grief and guilt—then left alone to clean up the mess. To make matters worse, a constant stream of real estate brokers begins marching through her property, offering to buy the family land. In particular, she keeps running into handsome real estate mogul Scott Gibson. As Brianna struggles to keep it all together, Scott finds his way into her heart. And as the two fight against their feelings, they just might find themselves forging a surprising and exciting new love at Splendid Lake. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano — All theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most–and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
Brides of the Old West by Amanda Cabot — Four unlikely couples. Four unexpected chances at happiness. Four unforgettable stories of love and faith in the Old West. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Daria’s Duke by Linda Shenton Matchett — After the death of her father, Daria Burke is thrust into the role of a servant by her stepmother. Locked in her room one night, Daria watches as the woman and her daughters sashay from the house wearing her mother’s gowns and jewelry. Realizing she’ll never be accepted as family, she flees the house and applies to be a mail-order bride. Then the sheriff arrives on the eve of her wedding with an arrest warrant. Can she prove her innocence or will she go to jail and lose her one chance at happiness? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Hers to Love by Sherrinda Ketchersid — Fiona McGowan, a beautiful Scottish widow without hope for a family of her own, travels to St. Mary’s Convent to become a nun. In route she is kidnapped by handsome Highlander Adam MacIntosh in a case of mistaken identity. Adam, laird of the MacIntosh clan, is attempting to free his brother held captive by the rival Fergus clan. The failure of his plan leaves him reeling with betrayal, death, and a wee babe in sore need of a healer. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Notorious Noel Caper by Sally Carpenter — A former teen idol investigates murders at a Christmas theme park while he tries to figure out his relationship with his girlfriend. (Mystery/Cozy from Cozy Cat Press)
The Secret of Emerald Cottage by Julie Lessman — Twenty-five-year-old Molly Stewart—ex-Navy nurse and former evidence technician for the Charleston Police Department—has been burned by love. So when her friend, Pastor Chase Griffin, begs her to move to scenic Lake Loon to be a nurse and companion for Miss Lilly, his elderly landlady, she jumps at the chance. The secluded and cozy cottage on a clear mountain lake seems the perfect place to heal from her fiancé’s betrayal as well as indulge in one of her greatest passions—cozy romance. First with reading them by the bookcase and then hopefully, if dreams come true, writing and solving them one day as an author and detective. But when Miss Lilly’s estranged great nephew shows up, it’s no mystery as to why he and Molly butt heads. Because it only takes one stolen kiss—while she’s sleeping, no less—to discover he’s an even bigger player than the ex-fiancé who broke her heart. (Romance/Mystery, Independently Published)
Home Run by Cathe Swanson — Phoebe Schenstrom’s always been a bit bossy. After all, she’s the oldest of ten children, has worked as a nanny and run the children’s ministry at the Unity Plenkiss Community Center for three years. But when a clash – or two – with clients leads to her suspension, she needs to prove that she’s more than a babysitter. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
Personal Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but when Sally’s young daughter, Emma, becomes the target of child traffickers, and the little girl’s biological father wants Sally dead, the Christmas season takes a dark turn. Police officer, Dillon Brady, responds to a call for help at the home of his friend and Protection Inc. bodyguard, Sally Wilson. When their relationship tips beyond friendship, Dillon is determined no one will hurt Sally or her daughter again. Will his resolve be enough? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
The Next Fithian: An Ordinary Teen on a Strange, New World by Rick Barry — Was this a new life – or a death sentence? When Rankin Johnson boards a flight to Israel, he expects an adventure in archeology. But the airplane comes under attack and explodes in midair. Rankin shouts, “God, I’m yours!” Instantly, he’s in some other place. An angel informs Rankin the Lord is pleased to accept his offer. He dubs Rankin “the next Fithian” – a messenger from God, not to Earth, but to planet Zemna in the alternate dimension. What happened to the previous Fithian? “He was killed,” the angel says before vanishing. (Speculative Fiction/Soft Science Fiction, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
A Summer in Shady Springs by Sarah Anne Crouch, How can Madeleine help A.J. discover a passion for the career he’s always wanted? And how can A.J. convince Madeleine to give God and Shady Springs a second chance? (Contemporary Romance)
Moose Ridge: Ending to Beginning by Craig Hastings, Jazmine just knows, for once, everything is going to be exactly how she always dreamed it could be. Then she’s handed the letter. (Contemporary Romance)
Requilted with Love by Carrie Fancett Pagels, Find humor, family relationships, and romance blossoming at the 1889 Michigan State Fair in Lansing when a quilter finds herself literally falling for a balloonist! (Historical Romance)
Readers! I need an appealing name for a fictional logging town in the American Northwest. Currently I’m calling it “Logtown,” which, *yawn*. Post your ideas in the comments.
(This is for “Undercover Logger,” my upcoming novella which will appear in the Lumberjacks and Ladies collection from Barbour Publishing in February 2022. Preorder your copy today!)
June 2021 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
A Chance for the Newcomer by Lisa Carter — She’s stirring things up…A big-city chef. A small-town single dad. And matchmakers with marriage in mind… Chef Kara Lockwood didn’t think changing a small-town diner’s menu would cause a boycott, but the locals sure do love their apple pie—especially fire chief Will MacKenzie. Kara’s not sure she and the single father can ever learn to live peacefully as neighbors. But even as they clash over pastries, local matchmakers and Will’s little boy are determined to bring their stubborn hearts together. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
His Secret Daughter by Laurie Larsen — he had the perfect life all on her own …Alyssa Stark works hard to make her life’s dreams come true … all on her own. She built her reputation as New York City’s top advertising executive, client by client. And when her ill-advised marriage didn’t work out, she knew she had to make her dream of becoming a mother happen by untraditional means. Now, she and her eight-year-old daughter Caroline are living the dream life in the Big Apple.??He’d lost everything that meant anything until he made a discovery …Grant Fontaine is the widowed president of his father-in-law’s electronics company. Since the tragic death of his pregnant wife a decade ago, he’s become a high achieving businessman, but a social hermit. Several years ago, his lonely life took on new meaning when he discovered that the donation he’d made to a reproductive clinic long ago had sired a child. Through the services of a discreet private eye unafraid to push legal limits, he identifies his “daughter,” Caroline, and her mother, Alyssa. Could it be time to reveal his secret? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Always a Wedding Planner by Davalynn Spencer, R.L. Ashely, LeeAnn Betts, Toni Shiloh — Love Is Only Business for 4 Wedding Planners Discover how keeping secrets from each other threatens four women’s friendships, wedding business, and their own ability to find love in Loveland, Colorado. Business partners Felicity Anderson, the cake baker; Kiki Bell, the seamstress; Cassie Blackthorn, the coordinator; and Chef Saffron Delarosa are best of friends in a town that is a romantic wedding destination for many couples—who work together at Weddings by Design to make every bride’s special day perfect. Could each falling into their own romance be the key to working out their differences and learning to trust each other—and God—with their futures? (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Matched Hearts by Cathe Swanson — She’s looking for a “Plus One” for her parents’ anniversary party. He’s looking for “Happily Ever After.” When a matchmaking agency pairs them up, is it a computer error or a match made in heaven?Eleanor Nielson always wanted to follow in her distinguished parents’ footsteps, becoming a teacher and living a life of selfless community service – until she tried it. Now, she’s run away to find herself and decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life, but she can’t skip her parents’ anniversary party, and she needs a date. Can a matchmaking agency find her a fake boyfriend who will impress her parents? Mechanical engineer David Reid has his life all planned out, and he’s ready for the next phase: a loving wife who will share his faith and work at his side when he becomes a pastor. But a good woman is hard to find, so like any good engineer, David turns the project over to experts: an online matchmaking agency. The pretty, blond teacher with denim blue eyes seems like a match made in heaven. Or is she too good to be true? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Plot Twist by Bethany Turner — February 4, 2003, is just another day for Olivia Ross—a greeting card writer whose passion project is a screenplay of her own. After she and a handsome, struggling actor have a near-magic encounter in a coffee shop, they make a spontaneous pact: in ten years, after they’ve found the success they’re just sure they’re going to achieve, they’ll return to the coffeehouse to partner up and make a film together. The only problem? Olivia neglected to get the stranger’s name. But she doesn’t forget the date. For the next ten years, every February 4, Olivia has an exceptional day, full of coincidences and ironies. As men come and go and return to her life, and as she continues to write her screenplay, she still wonders about the guy from the coffee shop—the nameless actor she’s almost certain was Hamish MacDougal, now a famous member of the Hollywood elite. But a lot can happen in ten years, and while waiting for the curtain to rise on her fate, the true story of Olivia’s life is being written—and if she’s not careful, she’ll completely miss the epic romance playing out right before her eyes. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
More Than Honor by Carol Ashby — Devotion to duty and dogged determination make Tribune Titianus the most feared investigator of the Urban Cohort. Honor drives him to hunt down anyone who breaks Roman law, but it becomes personal when Lenaeus, his old tutor, is murdered in his own classroom. Why kill a respected teacher of the noble sons of Rome, a man who has nothing worth stealing and no known enemies? Had he learned something too dangerous to let him live? Pompeia was only a girl when Titianus studied with Father before her family became Christians. She and her brother Kaeso can’t move their school from the house where their father was killed. But what if the one who killed Father comes to kill again? Kaeso’s friend Septimus insists they spend nights at his father’s well-guarded home. But danger lurks there as well. As Titianus hunts for the murderer, will he discover their secret faith and arrest them as enemies of the Empire? (Historical from Cerrillo Press)
The Dream Weaver’s Bride: Asenath’s Story by Janelle Hovde — As the daughter of the high priest of On, Asenath has a solid vision of her future. Her education with the royal scribe is a luxury not usually afforded to women, and even though she is betrothed to the pharaoh’s half-brother, she has dreams of something more. But everything changes when the pharaoh has troubling nightmares that only a prisoner named Joseph can interpret. Suddenly, Asenath finds herself married to this foreigner, who demands that no god but his own be worshipped in his house. Despite her fears, Asenath is touched by Joseph’s kindness and humility, even as he steps into his newfound power. Can Asenath trust the God of Joseph and forsake her old deities? Can she learn to love this stranger from another land, a stranger with scars from a painful past? As a famine sweeps across Egypt and the surrounding lands, Asenath and Joseph find themselves face-to-face with the men who caused Joseph’s suffering. Can Asenath embrace the power of El Shaddai and help her husband forgive? (Historical from Guideposts Publications)
Faith in the Mountain Valley by Misty M. Beller — After eleven years spent looking for the girl who stole his heart, Jean-Jacques Baptiste-better known as French to his friends-is tempted to give up. Until the day he spotted the flaxen-haired stranger traveling the wooded path with Blackfoot Indians. He never imagined he’d find his childhood friend masquerading as a man in this Rocky Mountain wilderness, hundreds of miles from the Canadian town where he last saw her. No matter her reasons, he can’t let her go this time. From a USA Today bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.
(Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Captain’s Quest by Lorri Dudley — Pricilla Middleton only attended the Lemoore house party to keep her friend out of trouble. Now, her only chance to keep from becoming a gossip column headline is to sneak aboard her brother’s ship and pretend she’d been visiting him instead of taking part in the debacle. Before she can speak to her brother, the ship sets sail, and the man in charge is not at all who she expects. Captain Tobias Prescott, son of an infamous war hero, has been assigned on a critical mission to deploy warships in St. Kitts for battle in New Orleans. Unfortunately, his orders require him to assume command of a friend’s ship, and he must weigh anchor the instant the former captain is escorted down the gangplank. When they reach open waters, the last thing he expects is to find a woman hiding in the captain’s cabin, yet his mission is too urgent to return her to England. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Along a Storied Trail by Ann H. Gabhart — Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn’t mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in the books she loves. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it—or is the perfect man actually closer than she thinks? Perdita Sweet has called these mountains home for so long that she’s nearly as rocky as the soil around her small cabin. Long ago she thought she could love, but when the object of her affection up and married someone else, she stopped giving too much of herself away to others. As is so often the case, it’s easier to see what’s best for others than to see what’s best for oneself. Perdita knows who Tansy should choose, but why would anyone listen to the romantic advice of an old spinster? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
To Find Her Place by Susan Anne Mason — In the midst of WWII, Jane Linder, a childless divorcée, puts all her energy into her career at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. As acting directress, Jane hopes to be awarded the position permanently so she can continue making a difference in the lives of troubled children. Garrett Wilder has been hired to overhaul operations at the Children’s Aid Society. He hopes to impress the board members with his findings and earn the vacant director’s position. A war injury ended his dream of taking over his parents’ farm, but with the security of the director’s job, he’d be able to contribute financially and help save the family business. As Garrett works closely with Jane, he comes to admire her tenacity and her dedication to the children. Just as feelings begin to blossom between them, her ex-husband returns from overseas with an unexpected proposition that could fulfill Jane’s deepest desires. With the odds stacked against them, can Garrett and Jane navigate the obstacles to their relationship and find lasting love? (Historical Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
A Bride for Keegan by Linda Shenton Matchett — Fiona Quigley’s parents came to America for a better life, but illness and the Civil War took them from her. Now, she’s barely scraping by as a seamstress to Boston’s elite. A chance for a new start arises in the form of being a mail-order bride, but to her dismay she must marry the man by proxy. Once they’re wed, there will be no turning back. After being jailed one too many times for protesting against the Unionists in Ireland, Keegan O’Rourke heads for America—land of the free. He takes advantage of the Homestead Act to create a farm in his new country, but he has no one to share his success, so he advertises for a mail-order bride. They wed by proxy, but after she arrives, he discovers his Irish lass hails from the northern reaches of the Emerald Isle – the very area he fled. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
On Sugar Hill by Ane Mulligan — She traded Sugar Hill for Vaudeville. Now she’s back. The day Cora Fitzgerald turned sixteen, she fled Sugar Hill for the bright lights of Vaudeville, leaving behind her senator-father’s verbal abuse. But just as her career takes off, she’s summoned back home. And everything changes. The stock market crashes. The senator is dead. Her mother is delusional, and her mute Aunt Clara pens novels that have people talking. Then there’s Boone Robertson, who never knew she was alive back in high school, but now manages to be around whenever she needs help. Will the people of her past keep her from a brilliant future?
(Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
No Journey Too Far by Carrie Turansky — In 1909, Grace McAlister set sail for Canada as one of the thousands of British Home Children taken from their families and their homeland. Though she is fortunate enough to be adopted by wealthy parents, the secrets of her past are kept hidden for ten years until someone from her long-buried childhood arrives on her doorstep. With this new connection to her birth family, will she be brave enough to leave her sheltered life in Toronto and uncover the truth? After enduring hardship as an indentured British Home Child, Garth McAlister left Canada to serve in World War I. His sweetheart, Emma Lafferty, promised to wait for his return, but after three long years apart, her letters suddenly stopped. When Garth arrives home from the war to unexpected news, he is determined to return to Canada once more on a daunting mission to find the two women he refuses to abandon—his long-lost sister and his mysteriously missing sweetheart. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah (Random House))
A Life Redeemed by Olivia Rae — Upon Queen Elizabeth’s order, Audrey Hayes travels to the borderlands of Scotland to learn where the fierce Laird Armstrong’s loyalties lie. Is he aligned with his mother’s English roots in support of the queen, or does he hold with the beliefs of his father, who wishes to see Mary of Scots on the English throne? The fate of Audrey’s family rests on her success in finding the answer. After losing his lands in a wager and being betrayed by his kin, Gavin Armstrong entered a loveless marriage to obtain the funds to buy back his family home, Warring Tower. Now a widower, struggling against countless border wars, he is on the verge of losing his home and lands again. With few resources, he reluctantly makes another risky wager, one he cannot hope to win without trusting the secretive Audrey Hayes, a woman he suspects is an English spy. (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)
The Chase by Bradley Caffee — in the Chase. Be the hero. Or die trying. The chaos and anarchy following the Great Collapse nearly brought the world to its knees until the unchanging Law brought order and peace. Generations later, the twelve alliances of the World Coalition come together once a year to allow their best and brightest young people to compete in the Chase. The prize? A chance to pass exactly one new law. The son of two former Chase runners, Willis Thomson is the top trainee in the Western Alliance. With the expectations of the world and his heritage driving him, he leads his elite Red Team as they prepare for his moment to become a coveted law-changer. Perryn Davis, the new leader of the Blue Team, struggles to survive as she competes as one of the designated losers. She knows that losing means genetic recoding, a process that cannot go on indefinitely, and longs to age out of the program before it kills her. When a mysterious new racer with knowledge of the outside shows up at their orbiting training center, the natural order of the Western Alliance trainees is upended. In a world where too much knowledge is dangerous, Willis and Perryn find themselves in a race to save their lives and uncover the hidden underbelly of the peaceful World Coalition. (Speculative/Science Fiction from Mountain Brook Fire)
Cold Case Trail by Sharee Stover — Following the clues could be the last thing they do…?Temporarily working in the cold case division was supposed to mean less danger for state trooper Trey Jackson and his injured K-9 partner, Magnum—until they thwart an abduction. Now he must protect profiler Justine Stark, even as she blames him for her friend’s death ten years ago. Can he right past wrongs by finally solving the murder…and making sure Justine lives to find closure? (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Aslan: Running Joy by Kristin Kaldahl — For fourteen-year-old Krissy, her new life maxim is pretty sad: First choices out. Second choices in. It’s been that way since dialysis left her disabled. Her limitations went from none to a ton, and now they stand in the way of her dream?to compete in dog agility with her runty sheltie pup, Aslan. (Young Adult from CrossLink Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Miracle in Milan by MaryAnn Diorio, When a young, female auditor discovers evidence that the man she loves is an embezzler, she must choose between ruining herself or ruining him. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)
Love Found in Cranberry Cover by June Foster, Can Blake and Gracie learn who’s behind the danger that threatens them? Will a small-town girl and big-city boy find a life together? (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)
A Night Divine by Dawn Kinzer, One chilly December night, a tragedy connects Camryn and Trace, and the devastating experience spurs her into volunteering with his team. But as Christmas Eve approaches and the two grow closer, secrets have the potential to break someone’s heart. (Contemporary Romance)
May 2021 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
The Jam and Jelly Nook by Amy Clipston — In the final installment of Amy Clipston’s bestselling Amish Marketplace series, a young widow struggling to raise her son dreams of one more chance at love. Over time Emory and Leanna become closer friends, discovering how much they have in common. As single parents, they struggle with the limits of what they can provide for their children and feel somewhat responsible for what happened to their respective spouses. The two eventually realize they have feelings for each other-but when they try to date, their children resist. Will God pave a way for them to build a family together, or will hurdles block the path to a second chance at happiness? (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
Stealing the First Mate by Tabitha Bouldin — Sometimes, happily ever after is as elusive as a pirate’s treasure. Darcy Riggins dove headfirst into the online dating pool and sank. Every time. Her lifelong dream of becoming a wife and mother becomes more elusive every year. So, taking the lack of a Mr. Right in her life as a decided “No!” from God, Darcy gives up altogether. Being single and content turns out to be tougher than Darcy imagined, and when she begins doubting everything she’s ever known, Nigel decides it’s time to admit his mistakes, tell the truth, and trust God for the outcome. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)
Royally Confused by Jill Boyce — Will this doctor trade in her stethoscope for a tiara? Claire must decide by the night of the Royal Gala if she will accept her place on the throne as the Queen of Amorley–even if she might have to give up medicine or love to do so. Will she return to Boston and pursue her passion for surgery and turn her back on her newfound family, country, and the love of a lifetime? Will Claire trade in her stethoscope for a tiara? Does light overcome darkness? Can Claire learn that her worth does not reside in what she does, but who she is–the daughter of her heavenly Father and part of a royal priesthood. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)
Once Upon a Summer by Toni Shiloh — Embrace the enchantment of summer with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Let these five sweet contemporary Christian romances take you away this summer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Shelter in the Storm by Laurel M. Blount — In this moving Amish romance, two broken hearts find hope in each other after a terrible loss. Unspeakable tragedy strikes the Amish hamlet of Johns Mill when an unstable Englischer opens fire in the Hochstedler’s General Store. In the aftermath, and under the media’s spotlight, Joseph Hochstedler struggles to hold his shattered family together, drawing unexpected comfort from a faithful childhood friend. Born with a serious heart defect, optimist Naomi Schrock has always longed to live a life of service. She rolls up her sleeves, determined to help Joseph cope with this terrible crisis. But dare she hope that his friendship will finally deepen into love? (General Contemporary from Berkley Penguin Random House)
Finding Home (Within the Castle Gates #4) by Candee Fick — Two hearts longing for home. A memorable first encounter brought them together, but then Susannah Stanley and Nicholas Pennington were torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. From the Lake District in Northern England to a Moroccan port along the African coast and the Napoleonic Wars in between, they struggle to hold onto hope they will be reunited. After being supplanted by her stepmother’s schemes and the betrayal of a friend, they finally meet again in the most unlikely of places. Now the battle is on to reclaim their rightful inheritance. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Gold Rush Bride Hannah by Linda Shenton Matchett — Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels…relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone…dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life? Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Three Days Clueless by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas Grey is determined to find the person who shot a politician in broad daylight. There’s just one problem. The killer left no clues behind. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Mylas gets involved in an intriguing case of MURDER . . .When Mylas arrives in his hometown to spend time with Whitney, he agrees to help his father, a local private detective, examine the files of a politician who was murdered in cold blood. Mylas gets involved in an intriguing case of murder with NO CLUES . . .The wife of the slain politician believes her husband’s murder is connected to his duties as a state legislator, but the police find no clues to his murder and no evidence to support her claim. (Mystery/Crime, Independently Published)
Rising Danger by Jerusha Agen — t’s up to a K-9 handler and her canine partner to stop a bomber before it’s too late. Someone’s planting explosives on dams in the Twin Cities, and Bristol Bachmann and her bomb sniffing dog must move quickly to find them before everything ends up underwater. That means relying on the dams’ supervisor—an ex-boyfriend Bristol never thought she’d see again. Hopefully Remington Jones has grown up from the rakish charmer she knew in her academy days. Because lives now depend entirely on them…
(Romantic Suspense/Thriller from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Dark Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Reporter Trinity Lockhart pursues a story but then unwittingly becomes the story. Acting on a tip from an anonymous source, Trinity investigates an art trafficking ring at a high-end Seattle gallery. She turns to handsome FBI agent Kyle Richards for help after being spotted by the crooks. Kyle is drawn to the feisty reporter, but he can’t afford a beautiful distraction when lives are at stake. He must trust his friends at Protection Inc. to watch over Trinity while he investigates the gallery.
(Romantic Suspense/Thriller, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Courage in the Mountain Wilderness: Call of the Rockies, Books 4 by Misty M. Beller, Keeping her son safe on this epic journey may be harder than she imagined. (Historical Romance)
Out of Range: In the Shadows, Book 2 by JL Crosswhite, It’s her chance to prove she’s good enough. It’s his chance to prove he’s more than just a fun guy. Is it their time to find love, or does he have deadly competition? (Romantic Suspense)
April 2021 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter — It’s finally time for Sophie Lawson to follow her own pursuits. Brother Seth has a new job, and sister Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance. When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
Surviving Carmelita by Susan Miura — When Josie Caruso accidentally kills her best friend’s young daughter, she runs to the Florida Keys, unaware that a trailer park pastor, a battered horse, a pregnant teen, and a mysterious beachcomber might set her on the path toward inconceivable hope and redemption. (Contemporary Womens Fiction from Crossriver Media Group)
The Amish Teacher’s Wish by Tracey Lyons — She wants her own happily-ever-after… As an Amish bachelor repairs her school… can she heal his heart? With the school damaged during a storm, teacher Sadie Fischer needs Levi Byler’s help repairing it. Levi has one condition—he won’t become a part of her search for a husband. He’s been hurt before, and love and marriage aren’t part of his plans. But Sadie might just be the perfect woman to mend his heart…and convince him forever isn’t just for fairy tales. (Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Where Grace Appears by Heidi Chiavaroli — A contemporary twist on the well-loved classic, Little Women, readers will fall in love with the Martin family—Maggie, Josie, Lizzie, Bronson, Amie, and their mother Hannah—each trying to find their own way in the world and each discovering that love, home, and hope are closer than they appear. (General Contemporary from Hope Creek Publishers)
Second Helpings by Linda Wood Rondeau — Can her marriage be saved? Today is Jocelyn Johnson’s forty-fifth birthday. Unhappy with her marriage of twenty-two years, she has planned a noonday tryst with her talk-show cohost. A phone call from her college daughter, a peek into her teenaged son’s journal, a sick preschooler, a Goth daughter’s identity crisis, a middle-school son’s prank, and her husband’s inflamed suspicions, not only interfere with her hopeful birthday plans but throw her family into more chaos than a circus on steroids. (General Contemporary from Elk Lake Publishing)
Every Window Filled with Light by Shelia W. Stovall — Librarian Emma Baker, a young and childless widow, believes her dream to build a family is over. It’s been two years since a student accidentally stabbed Emma’s husband to death, and her grief has stifled any interest in romance—until she meets Pastor Luke Davis. But when Emma learns Luke is counseling her husband’s killer fresh out of jail, her temper gets in the way.
Meanwhile, Emma discovers twelve-year-old Harley, abandoned by her drug-addict mother, hiding in the library, and takes the girl in as her foster mom. Then a young mother is made homeless by an apartment fire, and Emma opens her home again. One person and one prayer at a time, Emma begins to discover hope. (General Contemporary from Elk Lake Publishing)
The Storm Breaks Forth by Terri Wangard — World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German born, and anti-German hysteria is running high.?Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance.?Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy. He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. (General Historical, Independently Published)
Biltmore Girl by Dawn Klinge — New York City, 1968. Elka Hansen, a former teen cover girl, is done with modeling. Now she’s a hostess for the Palm Court restaurant in the beautiful Biltmore Hotel. As she sees it, Elka’s other job is to watch out for her younger sister, Colleen, an idealistic but reckless college student at Barnard.?With her sister, Elka attends her first civil-rights protest, and there, she runs into Jacob Lewis, a co-worker from the Biltmore. He’s a student at Columbia University and a friend of Colleen’s. Jacob becomes an unexpected ally when rescuing her sister from trouble becomes more than Elka can handle independently. Out of this turmoil, a romance grows between Jacob and Elka, but can it last? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Bent Tree Bride by Denise Weimer — Susanna Moore can’t get him out of her mind—the learned lieutenant who delivered the commission from Andrew Jackson making her father colonel of the Cherokee Regiment. But the next time she sees Lieutenant Sam Hicks, he’s leading a string of prisoners into a frontier fort, and he’s wearing the garb of a Cherokee scout rather than the suit of a white gentleman. As both Susanna’s father and Sam’s commanding officer, Colonel Moore couldn’t have made his directive to stay away from his daughter clearer to Sam. He wants a better match for Susanna—like the stuffy doctor who escorted her to Creek Territory. Then a suspected spy forces Moore to rely on Sam for military intelligence and Susanna’s protection, making it impossible for either to guard their heart. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Rekindling Trust by Sandra Ardoin — Abandonment. Betrayal. Injustice. Two broken hearts given a second chance to mend. Widow Edythe Westin yearns for a peaceful home and independence from her controlling father. The goal seems within reach until her rebellious young son is suspected of arson and assault. With nowhere else to turn, she defies her father and appeals for help from the only man she ever loved—the man who once deserted her when she needed him most. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Spring Betrayal by Sally Jo Pitts — t was supposed to be a routine investigation—catch the cheatin’ spouse of a client. And the perks weren’t bad either—set up shop at a luxury resort. So yes, Robert Grey and Jane Carson from Grey Investigations are on the job. But when they discover the suspect is a princess wrongfully accused of abdicating and her companion dies under suspicious circumstances, the investigators find themselves in the middle of a Caribbean conspiracy to overthrow a monarchy. Suddenly Jane must take the place of the princess to secure the throne of an island nation. Can Grey Investigations untangle a royal mess before a revolution overtakes paradise? (Mystery/Crime from Winged Publications)
Blue Plate Special by Susan Page Davis — Campbell McBride drives to her father’s house in Murray, Kentucky, dreading telling him she’s lost her job as an English professor. Her father, Bill McBride, isn’t there or at his office in town. His brash young employee, Nick Emerson, says Bill hasn’t come in this morning, but he did call the night before with news that he had a new case. When her dad doesn’t show up by late afternoon, Campbell and Nick decide to follow up on a phone number he’d jotted on a memo sheet. They learn who last spoke to her father, but they also find a dead body. The next day, Campbell files a missing persons report. When Bill’s car is found, locked and empty in a secluded spot, she and Nick must get past their differences and work together to find him. (Mystery from Scrivenings Press LLC)
Traitor: Tales of the Mystics, Book 2 by Laurie Lucking — Princess Penelope has finally found a way to redeem her past mistakes-if only it didn’t require betraying her new fiancé. She has been the object of gossip and ridicule ever since she returned home in disgrace following her failed engagement to the Crown Prince of Imperia. When her father offers a new start in a country far across the sea, she has no choice but to accept. Even if it means another betrothal, this time to a total stranger. (Speculative Fiction/Romantic Fantasy from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing)
Long Shadows by Cathe Swanson — Mona Vickers isn’t running. Not hiding. She and the girls are just keeping a low profile until she’s done with school and gets a good job. She doesn’t need charity, especially not from Roy Strough and the Unity Plenkiss Community Center, either. But when the past catches up with her, she needs to decide who she can trust. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)
Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard — Former FBI Special Agent Jack Tanner is working as a detective in Montana when he comes across a body in the national forest during a search and rescue mission. He’s committed to finding the killer, even if it means working alongside his old flame, US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors. When Terra discovers that the murder victim had ties to a powerful and dangerous trafficker of archaeological artifacts, the investigation takes a deadly turn–one that hits too close to home. As Terra fears she lacks the courage to face what comes next, Jack is more determined than ever to protect her. But he’s failed her before. And if he fails this time, it will cost them far more than just their hearts.
(Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Fifty Days by Katie Vorreiter — Three days ago, Maggie Lehman’s beloved mentor and friend, Jarrett Adams, was murdered on live television. Grief stricken, Maggie traverses a Washington DC under curfew, but when she arrives at the morgue, the body is missing—and her presence is recorded on the security video. As dawn breaks over the city, Maggie encounters Jarrett on the street—and he’s very much alive. Either she’s gone mad—again—or Jarrett really is back. While the US loses its grip on democracy, government thugs eager to contain what Maggie knows hound her every step, and the good intentions of a man from her past only tighten the noose. The powerless and bewildered Maggie seeks Jarrett and the return to how things were, but finds she must give up what she wants most to gain what she can hardly imagine. (Supernatural Suspense from Elk Lake Publishing)
Shielding the Amish Witness by Mary Alford — Seeking refuge in Amish country puts everyone she loves in danger. On the run after discovering her brother-in-law was behind her husband’s murder, Faith Cooper can think of only one safe place—her Amish grandmother’s home. But when danger follows Faith to the quiet Amish community, her childhood friend Eli Shetler is her only protection. And their survival depends on outlasting a relentless killer…one who has nothing left to lose. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson, After five years abroad, Charity Halliwell finally returns to Loxby Manor, the home of dear friends—and her lost love. When her friend, Seline, disappears the very night of her arrival, Charity is determined to uncover the truth. (Historical Mystery)
Dreams Rekindled by Amanda Cabot, But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. (Historical Romance)
Amish Midwives by Amy Clipson, Shelley Shepherd Gray, and Kelly Long, From bestselling authors of Amish Fiction come three sweet stories about new life, hope, and romance. (Amish Romance)
Hunt for Grace by Andrew Huff, First he left the CIA. Then he left pastoral ministry. Now John Cross has been imprisoned in one of Great Britain’s most infamous prisons. Has he reached the end of his rope? Or is this another move in a dangerous spy game? (Thriller/Suspense)
Reconciled from Heartache by Cindy M. Amos, Aley Halstead laterals out of a harassment situation at work, but peril soon follows her relocation, leaving rookie rancher Hake Warren her only hope for a last-minute rescue. (Romance/Contemporary)
Secondhand Sunsets by Gail Kittleson, The day’s warmth still hovered, and with it, a sense that all was well. The sky flamed for several more minutes. This beauty and my love for you are one. She hugged the message close. “Perhaps, after all, I am loved.” (Historical Romance)
The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar by KD Holmberg, Torn between the silent gods of Egypt and the powerful presence that surrounds Sarai, Hagar’s world falls apart around her. She must acknowledge the terrible price of truth, and decide for herself who she will serve. (General Historical)
Deadly Heartbreak by Marissa Shrock, Georgia discovers a limerick scrawled on the wall of her kitchen that dares her to solve a mystery designed specifically for her. A mystery that promises to be quite deadly. For her. For Cal. And for anyone who gets in the murderer’s way. (Cozy Mystery)
In THE ROSE KEEPER, Clara’s favorite cake is a chocolate whipped cream cake from Dressel’s Bakery in Cicero.In a rather melancholy scene at the hospital where she works, “With a sigh, Clara glanced down the hallway toward the break room, then turned away, knowing her presence at the party would no longer be welcome, even though the chocolate whipped cream cake from Dressel’s Bakery was her very favorite too.” (Don’t worry; she doesn’t stay sad forever!)
I ran across this interesting article about Dressel’s Bakery in the Chicago Tribune. Seems I wasn’t the only one who loved it. I do remember the cakes being available in the freezer section of Jewel, although it seems to me the frozen cakes weren’t quite as good as the fresh variety. But they were still plenty good. And then one day they simply weren’t there anymore.
Those who remember Dressel’s cakes seem to fall into two camps: those who liked the chocolate whipped cream best, and those who preferred the strawberry. A quick survey on a local Facebook group yielded many comments, of which the following are representative:
“I drool just thinking about that cake. Loved it! We had it for every birthday!”
“I used to walk there on Cermak to get my cakes. I loved that store.”
“Oh, man, I’m drooling I loved that cake. Very devastated when then closed the Dressel’s stores.”
“Chocolate whipped cream cake was an absolute MUST for all our birthdays.”
“My choice for birthday cake was always the yellow whipped cream cake with strawberry filling!”
There are a few recipes floating around on the internet, promising to taste just like the original. I’ve been collecting them, but haven’t gotten up the nerve to try one yet. Maybe it’s the sort of thing that’s perfect in memory only.
What was your favorite dessert as a child? Or now?
In THE ROSE KEEPER, Clara took her nurses’ training at the Illinois Training School for Nurses, graduating in 1915. The story shows her starting her first job at the fictional Memorial Hospital. Thirty years later, she’s still there,overseeing the younger nurses in the Women’s Medical ward.
The Illinois Training School for Nurses (ITS) was founded in 1880. According to an interesting history of the school written in 1929, “the purpose of the founders was twofold: first, to train young women to care scientifically for the sick, so establishing a new and dignified profession for women and at the same time making available to the public a valuable service; and second, to give patients in the Cook County Hospital care far better than that of the untrained and politically chosen attendents then employed.”
According to the archives of the University of Ilinois, ITS was “the first Nightingale-type nurse training school in the Midwest U.S. The school’s founders included such prominent Chicago women as Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson, Lucy Flower, and Margaret Lawrence. These progressive-era women aimed to improve the nursing care of the city’s sick poor while allowing Midwestern young women to prepare for the new occupation of trained nursing. The prestigious new school attracted early nursing leaders to serve as superintendents, including Isabel Hampton Robb and Lavinia Lloyd Dock. The student nurses primarily trained at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital.”
In Clara’s day the curriculum would have included anatomy and physiology, hygiene, bacteriology, surgical, medical and gynecological nursing, obstetrics, pediatrics, and care of the “nervous and insane,” and something called “materia medica” (the study of substances used for healing). as well as practical nursing and cooking. Students worked nine hours per day shift or twelve hours per night shift, with a half-day off on Sunday and one half-holiday during the week. Training in contagious diseases and tuberculosis was optional, but the superintendent at the time stated, “as evidence of the earnestness and bravery with which the average nurse pursues her course of instruction, a large per cent of the pupils … elect to pass through this trying ordeal.” Clinics offered in-depth learning of special techniques. Thus “Patients, beds, and appliances are provided and used, leaving as little room to the imagination as possible.”
Clearly Clara had been well prepared for her duties as a nurse at Memorial Hospital. But being a good nurse requires more qualities than just technical skill. How did she fare on the “softer” skills? Read THE ROSE KEEPER to find out!
In THE ROSE KEEPER, Clara works as a nurse at Chicago’s fictional “Memorial Hospital,” which is loosely based on MacNeal Hospital in Cicero’s neighboring suburb of Berwyn. I didn’t use the “real” MacNeal Hospital since certain details didn’t suit the narrative, such as the date of founding. But I would have liked to for several reasons, not least of which is because MacNeal Hospital was my birthplace!
In 1919, Dr. Arthur MacNeal. a Michigan native and graduate of Chicago’s Rush Medical School, opened a clinic in his Berwyn home. He is credited as being one of the first physicians to use a vaccine against diphtheria and also had one of the first X-ray machines in the country.
In 1924 the first 3-story hospital was constructed on the MacNeal property, with the fourth story added in 1929. Subsequent expansions and innovations have brought MacNeal to its current status as a 374-bed, well respected teaching hospital.
Today MacNeal Hospital is part of the Loyola Medicine and Trinity health systems, under the auspices of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
A side note: To celebrate National Hospital Week in, I’m guessing, 1960 or 1961, I participated as a member of the “royal family” of babies born at MacNeal. I don’t remember a thing about the experience, which is probably just as well. Still, it’s a cherished photo of me and my mom.
In THE ROSE KEEPER, Clara’s neighbor Laurie gets a job at the local Western Electric manufacturing facility called the Hawthorne Works (the town of Cicero was originally named Hawthorne) or just “the Western.” Since the time period is World War II, she’s working on a government defense project that is “hush, hush.”
But for most of the twentieth century, the Western Electric Company was Cicero’s primary employer. It was the chief manufacturer of telephone equipment for the Bell Telephone System (later AT&T) and other consumer goods, such as electric fans and refrigerators. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Western Electric “pioneered new technologies such as the high-vacuum tube, the condenser microphone, and radio systems for airplanes.”
The sprawling Hawthorne Works was considered a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 1905. At its peak, it employed 45,000 workers. It closed in 1984 with the dismantling of the Bell System. Today the property is the site of a shopping center, with only the water tower remaining from the original structure.
People who worked at Western Electric, including several members of my own extended family, tended to speak of it fondly of it. A 1932 company publication called “Hawthorne: A City Within a City” described it thusly:
“Physically, Hawthorne is a modern industrial plant with 86 buildings containing over 3,000,000 square feet of available floor space. One never suspects in viewing the exterior that behind these buildings is an inner court, beautifully landscaped. There are winding streets and sidewalks, and seas of green lawns dotted with floral islands. Hawthorne is, in fact, a city in itself. It has its own police staff, a fire department, a completely equipped hospital, cooperative stores, a laundry, a railroad, a power house, a gas works, restaurants, and even its own water supply. Each month enough electricity is used to illuminate 450,000 average homes—enough to take care of a city the size of Memphis, Tennessee. In the same period gas enough to supply a city as large as Dallas, Texas, is generated and consumed.”
The company provided many benefits to its employees, taking a paternalistic approach that some today call “welfare capitalism.” Perks included death and insurance benefits, home loans, social clubs, night classes, and sports teams. Even after the ill-fated picnic of 1915, the employee-run Hawthorne Club continued to organize social events like dances and trips to Riverview Park and Wrigley Field.
In 1925, Elton Mayo of Harvard University conducted well-known industrial studies at the Hawthorne Works. One lasting outcome of those studies was “the Hawthorne effect,” in which individuals adjust their behavior when they’re aware of being watched. Industrial scholars continue to debate and discuss the methodology and results of these studies.
Many artifacts and documents pertaining to the Western Electric Company can be viewed at the Hawthorne Museum operated by Morton College in Cicero, Illinois.