Jennifer Lamont Leo
The author blog of Jennifer Lamont Leo.
September 2022 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
A Heart to Trust by Judith McNees — Can two broken hearts learn to trust each other…and God? Grace Morgan has a closely guarded secret. One that also makes her good at guarding her heart. After all, she has what she needs to be content. She won’t make the mistake of falling for another man at work…until the hunky new guy she’s trying not to notice moves in across the hall. Tyler Danby has a secret, too. Left by his wife, who takes away everything he cares about, he’s nursing his wounds and starting over. When he strikes up a friendship with his quirky neighbor, he wonders whether God might be giving him a second chance… (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Breath of Heaven by Deborah Raney — After a joyful wedding in Kansas, Natalie Camfield Chambers is back in the village of Timoné in South America with her beloved husband, David Chambers. But the adjustments to married life while serving on the mission field in a remote Colombian village along the Rio Guaviare are more than either Natalie or David bargained for. The growing unrest in the country only adds to the challenges they face. When the village is invaded by guerrilla soldiers and one of their Timoné neighbors, a young mother, goes missing, Natalie and David find themselves caring for her small daughter, even as Natalie has begun to suspect that she is carrying their own child. When a trip by boat on the Guaviare turns treacherous and ultimately deadly, Natalie and David face the fight of their lives. Their faith—and their love—will be tested in ways they never dreamed, and the decisions they make will echo for generations to come. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Harvest Moon by Denise Hunter — When a tragedy leaves a divorced couple with guardianship of their friends’ little girl, Laurel and Gavin drop everything for the sake of the child. While searching for a more permanent arrangement, the estranged couple move into their friends’ home to provide temporary care for Emma and manage the on-property apple orchard. As they work together to comfort the grieving child and manage the busy harvest, tempers flare—as does the passion they both remember so well. But will the seeds of love, still growing inside them, thrive and flourish? Or will grief and regret strangle the feelings before they can fully blossom? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
Love in Any Season by Amy Anguish, et. al. — Spring Has Sprung – by Regina Rudd Merrick: What does he want more—for Laurel to fall in love with his favorite season? Or him? The Missing Piece – by Amy R. Anguish: With each stitch taken, they work toward more than just a completed blanket. A Sweet Dream Come True – by Sarah Anne Crouch: Can Mel and Isaac trust in God’s provision and make a leap of faith? Will their partnership end in disaster, or will it be a sweet dream come true? Sugar and Spice – by Heather Greer: With gingerbread and Ryker together, can Emmie make it through the festival with her mind and heart intact? (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)
Midnight Blue by Suzie Waltner — A series of heartbreaking setbacks behind her, Scarlett Sykes is now focused on creating the best life possible for her daughter. One where innocence and joy is not colored by rejection or loss. While finances are tight and Scarlett’s job isn’t ideal for a single mother, her child will always know she’s loved. Especially since Harmony’s father wanted nothing to do with them. As lead singer and the face of a successful country band, Jake Turnquist’s closest friends depend on him, but life in the spotlight is quickly losing its appeal. At a party celebrating another accomplishment, he’s stunned to discover Scarlett assisting the caterer. Almost ten years have passed, but he’s never forgotten his first love. In the hours after a surprise revelation, Jake scrambles to orchestrate a way to spend time with Scarlett and Harmony—the family he’s always wanted but never knew he had. He once gave her up to pursue his music. What will he have to surrender to win her back? (Contemporary Romance, from Anaiah Press)
Muskoka Shores by Carolyn Miller — Serena Williamson loves working at Muskoka Shores, the fancy resort on Lake Muskoka, and making couples dreams come true. But after returning from a celebrity wedding to find her own hopes crumbling to dust, she sets out for self-improvement, and to prove her ex was wrong. But when a misunderstanding concerning the new assistant church minister leads to more self-doubt, can she ever really trust a man again? Joel Wakefield is looking forward to a fresh start for himself and his sister in this beautiful small town beside Lake Muskoka. He hadn’t counted on meeting a curvy cutie with a gift for hospitality and a gracious heart. Can he show her that it’s what is inside that truly counts? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Off the Record by Susan Page Davis — Wynne Harding is just doing her job. Wynne is new at the newspaper, and she deals with some challenging assignments. Sent to report on a farm accident, she learns a little girl has been injured in a fall. The father, Andrew Cook, has cause to hate reporters. His farming grandparents want Wynne in the family, and she adores Andrew’s four-year-old twins, but she isn’t comfortable around him. When her assignments get tougher and troubles surface at the farm, the two need to seek God’s guidance … but can they overcome their differences? (Contemporary Romance from Tea Tin Press)
The Baby’s Christmas Blessing by Meghann Whistler — Nothing will be merry about Steve Weston’s Christmas if he doesn’t find a nanny for his newborn nephew fast. But the best choice is Chloe Richardson, the woman he pushed away years ago. He has a second chance at making the season’s joy last for a lifetime—unless he allows old wounds to separate them once more… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
To Win a Prince by Toni Shiloh — As a fashion aficionado and best friend of the queen of the African island country Oloro Ilé, Iris Blakely dreams of using her talent to start a business to help citizens in impoverished areas. But when she discovers that Ekon Diallo will be her business consultant, the battle between her desires and reality begins. Ekon Diallo has lost everything: his princely title, his material possessions, his friends, and the respect of his countrymen. To pay for his actions against Oloro Ilé, he’s forced to assist the charismatic Iris Blakely–but he can’t allow his heart to distract him from regaining his status. As Iris strives to get her business off the ground while keeping her heart intact, will her dreams of happily ever after survive the challenges she faces? (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
As Silent as the Night by Danielle Grandinetti — Chicago, 1933?Lucia Critelli will do anything for her ailing grandfather, including stand in a breadline to have enough food to make him a St. Nicholas Day meal. When she catches the eye of a goon who threatens her grandfather, she discovers the end of Prohibition doesn’t mean the end of the mafia’s criminal activity. Retired Marine Scout Giosue “Gio” Vella can find anything, especially if it helps a fellow Italian immigrant, so he has no doubt he can locate his neighbor’s granddaughter, who has gone missing from a local church. Keeping her safe is another matter. Especially when he chooses to hide out with his Marine buddy in Eagle, Wisconsin, the site of a barely-held truce among striking dairy farmers. Will Christmas bring the miracle they all need or will Gio discover there are some things even he can’t find, particularly when he stumbles upon the most elusive gift of all: love. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Calm in the Mountain Storm by Misty M. Beller — his epic journey will test his ability to protect his children—and they’re all he has left. Missionary Elise Lane returns with her team to the Rocky Mountain native tribe they serve to discover the entire village—including the children she’s come to love—has been massacred. A fierce brave standing at the edge of the devastation has taken the only surviving child. Goes Ahead returns home with his son to find his worst fears have come true—his entire village has been slaughtered, including his wife. Only their infant daughter has survived. But there’s no time for grief or vengeance. He must get his children across the mountains to the protection of his family. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Estelle’s Endeavor by Linda Shenton Matchett — Will a world at war destroy a second chance at love? Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need? Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Heart’s Journey by Linda Hoover — In June, 1880, newlyweds Jacob and Julia go to Iowa to fulfill Jacob’s dream of having his own farm. Their original plans fall apart when they get there, and Jacob wonders, will he be able to keep the promise he made to Julia and her family? Jacob and Julia spend much time in prayer, and God provides a better plan. Now, upper-class Julia allows herself to consider her role. She’s never been in a kitchen, let alone on a farm. How will she manage their home? After many mishaps, Julia asks a neighbor for help, and gains confidence as she learns to cook, garden and handle other household duties. Jacob and Julia grow closer, but a personal loss for Julia triggers a disagreement leading to estrangement and deeper issues Jacob must confront. Can their faith in God bring forgiveness and reconciliation? (Historical Romance from Linda Hoover Books)
Love in the Bargain by Lucette Nel — Driven to rekindle her relationship with her ailing grandfather, Amelia Scott returns to her childhood home. However, her unyielding grandfather is determined to control her future and poses an ultimatum. Marry and inherit the iconic Scott Hotel or return to New York penniless. Amelia is determined to stay, and formulates a plan to ensure proprietorship of her last connection to family. But love is not a part of the deal. She can’t risk another man having control of her. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
A Night to Remember by Danny & Wanda Pelfrey — With her college friend arriving, Riley is anticipating a reprieve from the rigors of law school. Then one of her Sunday School girls is kidnapped. The circumstances that follow put Riley and her friends through a series of fast paced, dangerous episodes as they scurry to rescue the child. (Mystery from CrossLink)
Covert Danger by Jerusha Agen — An assassin is on the loose in the Twin Cities, aiming to kill FBI witnesses the Phoenix K-9 Security and Detection Agency is hired to protect. Rogue CIA agent Amalia Pérez and her protection K-9 must get the edge on this deadly opponent before he kills her childhood best friend—the only man who knows her true identity. Investigative journalist Michael Barrett can’t believe his eyes when the woman he’s spent years searching for walks back into his life. But he soon fears the woman he loved is lost forever beneath the secrets Amalia wears like armor. As the assassin closes in, Amalia will risk anything to keep Michael safe—anything except believing in the God he trusts. When the layers of deception become as dangerous as bullets, can Amalia and Michael uncover the truth in time to stop the assassin from completing his lethal mission? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Grace Immeasurable by Gina Holder — She’s a modern-day damsel. He’s her self-appointed knight. Who will rescue whom? Kylie just wants to run her café without people thinking she’s a damsel-in-distress. That proves difficult when a man claiming to be her half-brother reveals buried family trauma and forces Kylie to face the scars of her childhood. Peter doesn’t mean to be a knight in shining armor, but as her proverbial big brother, he decides to uncover the truth about Kylie’s semi-sibling, while trying to make peace with his own mistakes.?Unearthing the past leads to a danger greater than either ever expected. In the end, who will rescue whom?
(Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Two Believe by Luana Ehrlich — It was no ordinary robbery. The suspect is no ordinary thief. The investigator is no ordinary detective. He’s Silas McKay, head of operations for Discreet Corporate Security Systems in Dallas, Texas. Silas doesn’t usually investigate stolen merchandise, but when his boss asks him to look into a jewelry heist at Gadise Diamonds, a high-end store in the Dallas area, he makes an exception. When Silas learns this was no ordinary robbery, and the suspect is no ordinary thief, he enlists the help of Ashley Davenport, who’s no ordinary woman. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Sinister Secrets by Paige Edwards — 3 Novellas: Secrets of St. Augustine: FBI Special Agent Doug Valdez is in France looking for money launderers. The last thing he expects is to find a young girl fleeing for her life or the deadly game of cat and mouse that ensues. Hounded: Recently retired Army Ranger Renn Huitt has found the perfect job. Working for Bob, a private investigator nearing retirement, should be easy. But Bob has put a lot of people behind bars–people who hold a grudge. And now they are coming for him. In Plain Sight: Jaclyn Girard was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now she’s caught in the middle of a deadly investigation. With danger mounting, she must work alongside FBI operative Cody Ackert if she hopes to survive. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Covenant Communications, Inc.)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
A Fallen Sparrow by Lynn Basham Tagawa, Three very different people, a printer’s daughter, a Shenandoah valley farmer, and a British spy, must deal with questions relating to the time of the Revolution: when is it biblical to resist tyranny? (General Historical)
Falling for Chet by Christine Schimpf, A failed card shark, home to make things right with his family, is thrown together with a displaced literary agent seeking a fresh start after losing her job. The pair team up to save his family farm from financial ruin and on the way, discover a forever love that changes everything. (Contemporary Romance)
Forgotten Memories by Penny Zeller, Some memories are best forgotten… The Wyoming Territory is rife with lawlessness and disorder, something Annie Ledbetter and her parents discover when their wagon train is robbed. (Historical Romance)
Here’s a quick mini-episode to catch up on what’s been happening over the summer. Enjoy!
August 2022 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
The Wanderer Scorned by Natasha Woodcraft — The Wanderer is a man shrouded in legend. Moving from place to place in the land of Nod, he is known primarily for the curse that hangs over his life. When that curse is invoked during the celebration of a murderous rampage, The Wanderer is summoned to tell his story. Few know the truth of the tale encompassing life, death, love, hate, faith and doubt, for it has been obscured by centuries of rumour. Now, it will be told by the one who lived it—the man who became The Wanderer. (Action/Adventure, Independently Published)
The Cowgirl’s Redemption by Mindy Obenhaus — She came home to make things right. Will she be given a second chance? Gloriana Prescott has returned to her Texas hometown to make amends—even if the townsfolk she left behind aren’t ready to forgive. But when her mother’s ranch manager, Justin Broussard, is tasked with saving the struggling rodeo so his teen daughter can compete, Gloriana sees a chance to prove she’s really changed. But can she prove to Justin, and the town, that she’s trustworthy? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
A Fallen Sparrow by Lynne Basham Tagawa — ?Three very different people, a printer’s daughter, a Shenandoah valley farmer, and a British spy, must deal with questions relating to the time of the Revolution: when is it biblical to resist tyranny? The story takes place over the entire war, from 1770 to 1782. (General Historical, Independently Published)
Escape from Amsterdam by Lauralee Bliss — Helen Smit believed she was called by God to become a teacher. Little does she know that her care for kids will take a drastic turn for survival when the Germans occupy Amsterdam and Jewish children and parents begin to be deported. Now all she can think of is helping children escape before it’s too late. Erik Misman’s newfound love for Helen is tested when he joins a plot to help move Jewish children to a safe place in the countryside. If danger can foster a closer bond with Helen and save the lives of the little ones, he will do it all. But a German patrol that stumbles upon the farm where they are hiding with three children and a soldier who takes an unexpected interest in Helen, could well destroy their plans for safety and love. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Finding of Miss Fairfield by Grace Hitchcock — When an engagement of convenience becomes anything but convenient . . .Forced into a betrothal with a widower twice her age, Charleston socialite, Sophia Fairfield is desperate for an escape. But, while her fiancé is away on business, he assigns his handsome stepson, Carver, the task of looking after his bride-to-be. Much to her dismay, Sophia finds herself falling in love with the wrong gentleman—a man society would never allow her to marry, given Sophia was supposed to be his new stepmother. The only way to save Carver from scandal and financial ruin is to run away, leaving him and all else behind to become a Harvey Girl waitress at the Castañeda Hotel in New Mexico. Carver Ashton has had his life planned out for him since birth, but when he encounters Sophia Fairfield, he glimpses a new life—apart from his overbearing stepfather’s business. But, when the woman he loves disappears before he can express his devotion, Carver abandons all to find her. However, his stepfather has other intentions for Sophia and will stop at nothing until she is his bride . . . even if it is against her will. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Sugar Baron’s Governess by Elva Cobb Martin — Banished from Charleston for his misdeeds years earlier, Joshua Becket built a new life on both sides of the law in Jamaica. As sugar plantation owner and member of the governing British Assembly, he’s known and respected on the island. But he guards a secret identity. As swashbuckling Captain Jay, he leads daredevil privateering exploits on his ship, the Eagle, when the mood suits him. Currently, he needs a governess for his young daughter whose mother has passed. Widowed gentlewoman Abigail Welch accepted the governess position, leaving behind her disintegrated life in Charleston. This new start in Jamaica might finally help her find healing for her broken heart after losing her husband in the Revolution and their infant son to yellow fever. Joshua’s precocious, undisciplined daughter is the drawing card that brings him and Abigail together like clashing cymbals of disagreement…and fiery attraction. Can love and the miracle power of God give them a new beginning and a happily ever after? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
By Way of the Moonlight by Elizabeth Musser — Two courageous young women, tied together by blood and shared passion, will risk everything to save what they love most. For as long as she can remember, Allie Massey, a gifted physical therapist, has dreamed of making her grandparents’ ten-acre estate into a trauma recovery center using equine therapy—a dream her grandmother, Nana Dale, embraced wholeheartedly. But when her grandmother’s will is read, Allie is shocked to learn the property has been sold to a developer. Decades earlier, after losing her prized filly to the Great Depression, headstrong Dale Butler sets out to bring her horse home again. In the years that follow, she finds friendship and love in a congenial new riding partner, until tragedy strikes in the midst of World War II. As Allie searches her grandmother’s estate for a way to keep her dream alive, she uncovers bits and pieces of Nana Dale’s past with her champion filly, a young man named Tommy, and one fateful night in 1943 during the Battle of the Atlantic. (Literary Historical from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Land that I Love by Gail Kittleson — Set in the German Hill Country of Texas during World War II, this is more than a love story. It is about the racism and bigotry that still exist in our world. As these characters struggle with the problems of everyday life, they teach us that we survive hard times by being good neighbors despite our differences and that hatred can be conquered by love, understanding and forgiveness. (Literary Historical from WordCrafts Press)
Tracking the Truth by Sharee Stover — 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/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Winter Deceptions: A Collection of Christian Suspense Novels by Dan Walsh, et. al — A collection of nine riveting wintry suspense novellas with whispers of romance by ten-award winning Christian suspense authors. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
May 2022 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Anchored Hearts by Julie Arduini — Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after? Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work had. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around her starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control? Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set? (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)
Finding Love in San Antonio by Miralee Ferrell and Kimberley Rose Johnson — For TV chef Adela Romero, the lights of LA have lost their luster. The grief of her husband’s death three years ago still hangs heavy over her and her daughter, Fabi. When Adela returns to San Antonio for a summer break with her daughter, she learns her mother-in-law’s Mexican diner is struggling. Adela wants to help, but her career is tugging her in another direction.Local food critic David Agraponte has a history with Adela. A history he’d like to rekindle. When he interviews Adela, sparks fly—both good and bad. In Adela’s struggle to put her past behind her, she’s tentative about a new relationship, but David hopes she’ll stay at Romero’s long enough to give him a chance. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
From Shore to Shore by Tabitha Bouldin — Bree Jamison comes to Sparrow Island for one reason: to study coral reefs. She’s not interested in happily-ever-after and certainly won’t allow her handsome boat captain to sway her into believing these islands are different from any others. But when she finds an old shipwreck and learns the history of pirates and treasure, Bree finds herself searching for something that always feels just out of reach. Cooper Carmichael takes the job as boat captain for the enigmatic Bree to further his career. He never expected her to be so driven—or so painfully opposed to God. All Cooper wants is his happy island life. He wants for nothing. In fact, he’s made it his mission to be content. In every aspect of his life. Bree throws a wrench in his plan as her presence pushes Cooper to want for things he deems unnecessary. A man striving for contentment. A woman who believes God is picking on her. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)
Home Where She Belongs by Penny Frost McGinnis — Small-town romance with a dash of mystery and the promise of hope. Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, Sadie Stewart escapes to Abbott Island where she spent summers with her grandparents. Would the love and faith she learned from them be enough to fuel her new life? She wants to believe God’s promises, yet broken trust holds her back. Joel Grayson left the island long enough to train at the Police Academy. The community trusts him, even though he’s failed. When he finds Sadie at her grandparents’ cottages, his heart skips a beat. He’d love to get to know her again, but no one needs to share the hurt he harbors. When Sadie discovers someone is sabotaging her future, she seeks Joel’s help. As they are drawn together, will Joel let down his guard and let her in? Will Sadie trust the man who loves her and the Father Who cares? (Contemporary Romance from Mt. Zion Ridge Press)
If You Rescue Me by Jerusha Agen — Can his love set her free? Not all prisons have bars. Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in a prison of abuse for years. When her abuser goes too far and threatens her ten-year-old daughter, Charlotte runs to the stranger her mother believed would save her. She hopes to find answers and escape, but she doesn’t expect to meet a man who’s everything she fears yet everything she could love. Police Sergeant Gabe Kelly can tell Charlotte’s hiding something and doesn’t trust cops. But despite his better judgment, his heart is drawn toward Charlotte and her little girl. What begins as kindness threatens to turn into something riskier if Gabe doesn’t get ahold of his feelings. When Charlotte’s secrets catch up with her, Gabe’s badge puts them on opposite sides of the bars between them. Will God’s redemption be enough to set them free to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Love in Second Bloom by Sandra Ardoin — She’s searching for direction. He’s trying to change his.
Are they beyond renewing the dream of a future they once believed in? At a crossroads in her career, Erin Ward works as a groundskeeper in a small town filled with precious, romantic memories. With Shaun Hadley’s surprise arrival, Erin dreams of a second chance at romance with the guy she broke up with in college. But Shaun isn’t the same man she once loved, and she blames herself. As an easygoing college computer geek, Shaun let Erin’s rejection light a determined fire under him. Today, he’s a successful businessman seeking to relax. Letting go of his workaholic ways is harder than he’d imagined, even when it threatens both his health and a renewed relationship with the love of his life. What hope do they have when Shaun can’t slow down, and Erin refuses to stand up for herself and their future…again? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
A Mother for His Son by Betty Woods — Back in the little town of Sunrise, Texas, to help her grandmother, Dallas chef Rachel Landry plans to use the time to heal her broken heart. She has no need to help handsome neighbor Mac Greer with his guest ranch. But her growing affection for his little boy could be just the push she needs to once again see the possibility of something more. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Not Since You by Dulcie Dameron — When Claudia Clark was involved in a tragic accident in high school, it set her on a devastating path toward heartbreak. For the past eight years, she’s carefully guarded her heart. With her business now thriving, she doesn’t have time for any unwanted distractions. She’s learned from her mistakes. But when the biggest one of all comes face to face with her again, she starts to question the belief she’s desperately clung to for so long. Dorian Vance can’t get over his past—or the girl that it’s wrapped up in. So when a family emergency brings him back to the small town of River Hollow, he decides it’s time to accept the truth and confront the girl he left behind. Unfortunately for him, she’s dead set on making him pay for his sins. As sparks start flying and well-meaning townsfolk meddle in their affairs, Dorian and Claudia are forced to resurrect old ghosts that lay buried in a mire of guilt and shame. But as they find themselves in the center of a vengeful scheme, the hope and forgiveness they seek seem impossible to obtain. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Royally Married by Jill Boyce — Dr. Claire Thomson, queen of Amorley, has banished all the dragons in her life—or so she hopes. Her wedding to Ethan Kane, the love of her life, looms on the horizon, yet unwelcome houseguests of her stepmother, Lord Chicanery of Maltenstein and his son, Hans, threaten her upcoming wedding with new obstacles. New questions abound about the integrity of the crown and the necessity of its future. If Claire cannot prove her loyalty to Amorley and disavow her involvement in a nefarious plot to defraud the country’s coffers for personal gain, then she may have to postpone more than just her wedding. She may have to leave the life she’s come to love in her father’s homeland as Parliament calls the monarchy into question. Dangers lurk in the castle, and if Claire’s not careful, she will lose more than her crown; she will lose her life. If she survives, will Claire and Ethan finally make it to the altar and solidify her position as queen? Can she protect the monarchy and those she loves from the evil plans of her enemies? Has time finally run out for Claire on her quest for her happily ever after? (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)
Short and Sweet: 13 Sweet, Romantic Stories by Susan Page Davis — This collection of short stories is perfect for quick reads. Fall in love with a firefighter, a florist, a soldier, or a church usher. Join Kelly at a wedding, Sam at a charity box social, and Kara at a date she’s looked forward to for ten years. Whether it’s an office romance or a chance meeting on a railroad platform, join the fun and soak up the romance. (Contemporary Romance from Tea Tin Press)
The Road Home by Cathe Swanson — Christopher Wright came home from Afghanistan a changed man. He’s found peace as an over-the-road trucker, but he’s never forgotten the woman he grew close to overseas – or the promises they made to each other. But when a newspaper article leads him to the Unity Plenkiss Community Center, the elusive Tally isn’t happy to be found – and she’s definitely not interested in picking up where they left off.
After two years on the streets, Tally Zemmer has found a home and begun to heal, building a new life for herself. Christopher’s reappearance is a reminder of her scars and the ghosts that followed her home from Afghanistan. But he’s the one man who knows her secrets and still cares for her. They have a special connection, shared faith, and experiences no one else can claim. Can they find a new road home together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
What Remains True by Nancy Naigle — Working at a little shop on Main Street in a small town is exactly the break that executive Merry Anna Foster needs following her divorce. She’s made a bet with her ex-husband that she can live on the amount of money she’s giving him in alimony. If she can do it, then Kevin will have to stop complaining and leave her alone. But after three months of this new life, will she even want to leave Antler Creek? (Contemporary Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah (Random House))
A Promise Engraved by Liz Tolsma — Can Promises Made in Times of Struggle Endure 200 Years? Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love? Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
When the Meadow Blooms by Ann H. Gabhart — If any place on God’s earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law’s Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past—the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls’ experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, past troubles become rich soil in which faith can grow. Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother’s widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again. But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Celestial by Hannah Mae — For millenniums, angels like Captain Jediah had waged war against their former brethren: the demons. As Keeper of the Abyss, it’s his duty to ensure Appolyon’s army remains imprisoned until the end of the age. Unfortunately, despite all that God had entrusted him with, Jediah is plagued by an unceasing guilt. It drives him to thirst for Christ’s redemptive power, but there’s one glaring problem. He’s not human. God’s gift of salvation is meant for mankind alone. When God appoints him to lead a task force of five wildly different angels to capture two dangerous demons, Jediah ponders if his return to earth might be his only chance to learn what the core of human salvation truly is. however, one of Jediah’s angels hides a secret agenda, and Jediah’s dark past is hellbent on hunting him down too. Can Jediah risk everything for the relief he’s desperate for? Or should he even bother chasing what he cannot have at all? What does living redeemed mean? (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)
This Dreamer by Sara Watterson — When Evie, an immortal Watcher turned reluctant assassin, finds herself captivated by her intended target, Adan the Dreamer, is it worth the cost to prevent his untimely end? Evie grows restless observing mortals from the safety of her desk in the Control Room. When the promotion for the only job she’s ever wanted—Guardian among humans in Sector Five—is canceled, a friend offers to smuggle her by portal into a booming metropolis called Shura. Evie jumps at the chance to see the world with mortal eyes. Secretly, though, she also hopes to observe Adan, a human Dreamer, in his natural habitat. Only a glimpse, she promises herself. All seems well until she returns to the Control Room, where she has landed in a heap of trouble. Not only did she take an unsanctioned trip to the ground, but the boy, the Dreamer, is missing. And all blame is placed squarely at Evie’s feet. This Dreamer is a clean fantasy romance adventure inspired by Joseph and the coat of many colors. (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Magi Journey: Babylonia by Terry Phillip Garner, Magi Journey – Babylonia – continues the sweeping saga as the Magi continue their journey from Assyria in 734 BC to Bethlehem in the year -0-. (General Historical)
…which means there’s more light to read by! Enjoy these February new releases. Lots of good ones in the mix!
February 2022 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Strength in the Storm by Laurel M. Blount — After the murder of both her parents, Emma Hochstedler returns to the small community of Johns Mill, hoping to resume her quiet existence. Reclaiming her place proves harder than expected—especially now that a movie is being made about her family’s loss. But then, an old friend offers her a lifeline that gives her new purpose. Amish builder Samuel Christner is the biggest—and the strongest—man in town. In fact, the gentle giant has only one weakness—Emma. Even though she broke his heart, he won’t let his childhood sweetheart face her troubles alone. He hires Emma as a nurse for his elderly aunt…and finds himself falling for her all over again. (Amish Romance from Berkley Penguin Random House)
Defending David by Barbara M. Britton — When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors. Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman’s niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land. Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir’s betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son? (Biblical from Harbourlight Books (Pelican))
Checked Impressions by Carolyn Miller — parks fly when a hometown hockey hero meets a classy art-loving museum guide hiding a secret…Jai Mullins is used to being the fastest man on ice. Trouble is, his ability to find a genuine woman is tracking at glacial melt levels. He’s trusting God she’s out there, but he’s wary of getting trapped by a superfan, when all he wants is someone with whom he can be real. Allie Davis has two great loves: impressionist art and hockey. More specifically, a certain hockey player. But between her shyness and her family, she’s convinced she’ll never meet him, let alone connect with him in a non-embarrassing way.?Until she does. And they connect. And romance sparks. But she is hiding a big secret, and he’s about to find that first impressions sometimes need a reality check. Will they learn to trust and find a way forward, or will half-truths lead to further hurt on opposite sides of the country and lonely lives? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Her Tycoon Hero by Narelle Atkins — Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances. Cassie is set on proving she’s no longer a party girl, instead focusing on her career as an event planner. Ryan Mitchell, her dad’s top executive, proves to be a handsome distraction, especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to draw her back into the life she has worked hard to escape. Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But he is slow to trust, having been burned by a brother who ran in the same circles. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan wants to claim both Cassie and her faith as his own. Can they forgive past mistakes and navigate a future together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh — Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Oloro Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing. ?Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Oloro Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Secrets of Their Past by Allie Pleiter — Facing the past could change his future. Veterinarian Neal Rodgers is in Wander Canyon seeking the truth about his past—not to rescue a litter of kittens under his next-door neighbor’s porch. But persistent single-mom Tessa Kennedy is impossible to ignore—especially when she uncovers a family secret of her own. Discovering the hidden facts of their histories could be the key to unlocking everything in this small town. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Valentine Proposal by Beth Pugh — Can Love Be 10 Years in the Making? Award-winning photographer Mason Montgomery is back in Pine Valley, Kentucky. Hopefully, for good, if his business proposal is accepted. On paper, he’s the perfect buyer for Forget-Me-Not Photography. Too bad the seller, Ol’ Man Rowe, doesn’t see it that way. He’s looking for a family man to take over, and Mason’s bachelor status doesn’t fit the bill.For shy Lily Anne Dawson, life has not turned out the way she’d hoped. Working at her mother’s bakery and editing for the local newspaper is a far cry from her journalistic dream. She’s a failure. A lonely failure worrying about infertility with no romantic prospects in sight. That all changes when a decade-old promise to marry on Valentine’s Day pushes the two together at their high school reunion. The impromptu proposal offers a solution to their problems. But marriage requires honesty?and both have secrets. Secrets that could make or break their budding love. (Contemporary Romance from Candlelight (an imprint of Iron Stream Media))
To Belong Together by Emily Conrad — Fame and money have a way of complicating love. Drummer John Kennedy can keep a beat, but he can’t hold a conversation, so he relies on actions to show he cares. Unfortunately, when he’s instantly intrigued by a spunky female mechanic, he can’t seem to convey the sincerity of his intentions. And the rejections don’t stop there. His own sister is pushing him away just when he could help her most. Erin Hirsh’s life would be easier if God hadn’t given her a love for cars. Only her father understood her, and she’s losing him to dementia. Her brief romances have always backfired worse than a mistuned engine, and she refuses to give John the chance to wreck her heart. A rock star with a supermodel ex can’t possibly see anything in her. At least that’s what she thinks until they find common ground in faith and their worsening family situations leave them each longing for a place to belong. Could God intend for this pair of opposites to belong together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Avenue of Betrayal by Sandra Merville Hart — Betrayed by her brother and the man she loves…whom can she trust when tragedy strikes? Soldiers are pouring into Washington City every day and have begun drilling in preparation for a battle with the Confederacy. Annie Swanson worries for her brother, whom she’s just discovered is a Confederate officer in his new home state of North Carolina. Even as Annie battles feelings of betrayal toward the big brother she’s always adored, her wealthy banker father swears her and her sister to secrecy about their brother’s actions. How could he forsake their mother’s abolitionist teachings?Sergeant-Major John Finn camps within a mile of the Swansons’ mansion where his West Point pal once lived. Sweet Annie captured his heart at Will’s wedding last year and he looks forward to reestablishing their relationship—until he’s asked to spy on her father.To prove her father’s loyalty to the Union, John agrees to spy on the Swanson family, though Annie must never know. Then the war strikes a blow that threatens to destroy them all—including the love that’s grown between them against all odds. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Gold Rush Bride Tegan by Linda Shenton Matchett — Tegan Llewellyn has always been different than her adopted family, except Grandmother Hannah, a prospector during the 1829 Georgia gold rush. Now, seventy years later there are reports of gold in Nome, and the opportunity is too good to pass up. But Tegan doesn’t count on the dangers that strike from the moment she steps off the steamer, including the threat of losing her heart. Elijah Hunter has prospected for gold all over the US and Canada and likes being on the move. The last thing he expects to find on his latest search is a lady miner who proves to be nothing but trouble. Can he convince her that leaving is for her own good before it’s too late…for both of them? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Lumberjacks and Ladies by Jennifer Lamont Leo, et. al — Lumberjacks and Ladies Work Together to Build America…Struggling to remain independent in the 1800s, four women reluctantly open up to help from lumberjacks—and love. All That Glitters by Candice Sue Patterson, 1851—Maine. Winifred finds herself running the family lobstering business when her father and brothers join the California gold rush. Will she stubbornly reject help from a local lumberjack? Winter Roses by Pegg Thomas, 1865—Michigan. Elizabeth cooks for a logging crew, spurning the men’s advances, until reoccurring gifts capture her attention. Will she heed her mother’s warning about “shanty boys”? Not for Love by Naomi Musch, 1881—Wisconsin. Widowed, Maggie seeks a husband—in name only—from the logging camps, but the man who answers her letter is a surprise. Can she open her heart to love again? Undercover Logger by Jennifer Lamont Leo, 1890—Idaho. Carrie will not sell her timberland and allows the banker’s nephew to sign onto her logging crew to ferret out the reason she is losing money at an alarming rate. Will truth be revealed to her forlorn heart? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War by Mary Eileen Davis — A WASP Goes Above the Call of Duty to Free Captive American Soldiers. Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes–the heroines of WWII. Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her two daughters–until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men–even risk her own life? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin — As the Nazis march toward Paris in 1940, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. Lucie struggles to run Green Leaf Books due to oppressive German laws and harsh conditions, but she finds a way to aid the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books. Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. After they meet in the bookstore, Paul and Lucie are drawn to each other, but she rejects him when she discovers he sells to the Germans. And for Paul to win her trust would mean betraying his mission. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Wilderness Wife by Delores Topliff — arguerite Wadin MacKay believes her 17-year marriage to explorer, Alex MacKay, is strong—until sudden fame makes him announce their frontier marriage is void in Montréal where he now goes to choose a society wife—not one with native blood. Taking their son, MacKay sends Marguerite and their three daughters to a trading post where she lived as a child. Deeply shamed, she arrives in time to assist young visiting Doctor John McLoughlin with a medical emergency. Marguerite now lives only for her girls. When Fort William on Lake Superior opens a school, Marguerite moves there for her daughters’ sake. Newly assigned there, Doctor McLoughlin’s friendship with Marguerite grows. When he declares his love, she dissuades him from a match harmful to his career. She’s mixed blood and nine years older. He will have no one else. After abandonment, can a woman love again and fulfill the key role in North American History that is her destiny? (General Historical from Scrivenings Press)
With a Trusting Heart by Dawn Kinzer — Will trust be the winning ticket to mending two wounded hearts? The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition is taking place in Seattle with participants from all over the world when Lizzie Clark accepts a position at an orphanage in the city. After suffering heartbreak and loss, she is determined to make a life for herself independently. Jack Butler’s mother abandoned their family when he was a young boy. Loyalty to his father cost him fulfilling his own aspirations, so Jack strives to take their family farm in a new direction. A newborn is left at the orphanage with a note asking Lizzie to take care of him. Why did the woman abandon her child? And why is Jack, a handsome local farmer so interested in helping Lizzie search for the infant’s mother??When shocking revelations disrupt their plans, Lizzie and Jack are faced with life-changing decisions. Will they open their hearts to trusting again? (Historical Romance from Morningview Publishing)
Cliffhanger by Susan Page Davis — The Novel Inn’s reopening goes smoothly until a guest vanishes. The new owners prepare for their first large group—a former squad of cheerleaders meeting for a reunion. Things go awry when the head cheerleader fails to show up. Sisters Kate and Jillian, the innkeepers, enlist the help of their brother Rick, a local police officer. They’re confident the missing woman will be found, but they soon learn to expect the unexpected, even during a walk on the beach. (Mystery: Cozy from Scrivenings Press)
The Prediction by Jean Rezab — Thea deals with the limits her father places on her when she has a vision of his death. He has never accepted her ability, and he also deals with his own depression regarding his past. (Mystery: Romance, Independently Published)
Safe House Exposed by Darlene L. Turner — Witness protection should have kept them safe. Instead, it left them completely exposed…Canadian border patrol officer Emma James has only one concern after putting a crime boss behind bars: keeping her daughter safe. But witness protection has a leak, and Emma’s enemies know exactly where to find her. Now on the run with no safe haven, trusting her estranged former brother-in-law, police constable Mason James, to shield them is her only hope… (Thriller/Suspence/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
That Scott Woman by Carlene Havel — Maggie Scott returns home in 1966 after serving four years in prison. She has only one goal in mind, to create a secure and stable life for herself. Then Maggie meets Blake Hamilton, ex-rodeo cowboy turned preacher. The chemistry between this unlikely pair is undeniable, but there are problems. Blake is sure his calling is to serve God. Maggie is convinced she is beyond redemption.?Common sense tells Maggie her attraction to Blake will end in heartbreak. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Touch of Innocence by Robin Patchen — How can she protect the child if nobody believes her? Grace used to try to save people, but that was before she realized how powerless she is. Now, she avoids emotional ties, working from her secluded cabin, content with her aloneness. When eight-year-old Lily starts hanging around, Grace enjoys her company but carefully keeps her distance—until she discovers the girl is being exploited. Little though she wants to, she must get involved, even if it means risking her own safety to secure Lily’s. Andrew can’t help but be drawn to his new neighbor and her beautiful foster child. When he learns about Lily’s disturbing history, he offers to help Grace prove her suspicions about the girl’s father. But the more they learn, the more puzzling Lily’s history seems. They work together to unravel the mystery, determined to ensure Lily ends up with a family who loves her. But Lily’s father isn’t giving up his muse—or his obsession—that easily. He believes Lily is rightfully his, and he’ll do anything to get her back. (Thrilled/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Boundary Waters Search and Rescue: Beyond Imagination by Joy Harding, An old foe, unimaginable twists, and deep disappointments challenge both Jack’s and Liz’s faith and their young marriage. (Contemporary Romance)
Recaptured from Oblivion by Cindy M. Amos, In the heat of pursuit, ordination slips toward a far-off horizon—?or can Karch safeguard Lolo and recapture his dreams from oblivion? (Contemporary Romance)
The Winter Rose by Melanie Dobson, In this gripping WWII time-slip novel from the author whose books have been called “propulsive” and a “must-read” (Publishers Weekly), Grace Tonquin is an American Quaker who works tirelessly in Vichy France to rescue Jewish children from the Nazis. (Historical Romance)
Jennifer talks about a range of tantalizing topics, from fine china to bridal registries to teen magazines of yore. If you prefer to read rather than listen, scroll down for a transcript.
A couple of listeners have asked what my china pattern is. It’s Noritake Blue Hill. Here’s a picture I snapped a while back:
TRANSCRIPT: Episode 34: Six Reasons to Love Fine China
Hello, Sparklers. Welcome to Episode 34 of A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we discuss all things vintage and celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. I’m your host, Jennifer Leo, and it’s February first, 2022, as I record this.
In writing and publishing news, the novella collection Lumberjacks and Ladies comes out from Barbour Publishing on February first, so by the time you hear this, it may already be available at your favorite book retailer. Do check it out, if historical romance set in the deep woods during the nineteenth century sounds like your kind of story. There’s even an audiobook version available.
I’m also scrambling to finish writing Love’s Grand Sweet Song, also known as “the opera novel.” It’s due to go to the editor later in February, and I could use all of your prayers and well wishes to see me over the finish line. This one has been a challenge to write for lots of reasons, but once it’s done, I think you’re going to love it.
Today I want to talk to you about fine china, the kind your grandmother might have set the table with on holidays. Now understand that, through the magic of podcasting, I can see some of you listeners out there, rolling your eyes. You think that fine china is stuffy, out-of-date, and irrelevant to casual modern life. Well, as you can probably predict by now, I disagree, and I’m here to tell you why.
I own a set of fine china that I collected in my twenties. Back in those days, it was common for young women to choose a china pattern they loved and then register for it at a favorite store. Often they would register for silverware and glassware patterns at the same time. Family and friends who wanted to do so could purchase pieces for her as gifts, usually for a wedding or a bridal shower, but sometimes on other gift-giving occasions like birthdays and Christmas. Eventually she’d end up with a full set or near-full set of fine china, something of a marker of adulthood.
According to Wikipedia, the bridal registry or wedding registry is a service provided by a retailer that assists engaged couples in the communication of gift preferences to wedding guests. The Chicago-founded department store Marshall Field’s first instituted the practice of a bridal registry in 1924 at its Marshall Field and Company Building as a means for the engaged couple to indicate chosen china, silver, and crystal patterns to family and friends. Readers of my first book, You’re the Cream in My Coffee, will remember that Marjorie nearly had a panic attack in the bridal-registry department of Marshall Field’s, but that had more to do with the groom than with the registry.
Selecting items from store stock, the couple lists desired items and files this list with the chosen merchant. The list is then made available to wedding guests, either by the couple’s family or by the merchant. Upon the purchase of a listed item, the merchant updates the gift registry accordingly. In addition to providing valuable information for the buyer, the system helps prevent the receipt of duplicate or unwanted gifts, potentially saving time for both the giver and recipient.
I consulted the New Seventeen Book of Etiquette and Young Living, published in 1971, to see what it had to say about bridal registries. It says “By registering your china, silver, and crystal, duplications are reduced to a minimum, and you won’t have a lot of unmatched tableware. The registry is of equal service to your friends because it makes their shopping easier. It is wise to choose china, silver, and glassware early in your engagement since these are popular gifts for friends to give. Before you select any one pattern, think about how the three will look together. Since these are things you want to keep a lifetime, don’t decide hastily. Your tableware should express your individuality and the ambience you want your home to reflect, whether sophistication, informality, tradition, or a contemporary look.
Those words were written fifty years ago. Brides today don’t seem to be as stoked about china, silver, and glassware, but who knows. Maybe fancy tableware will cycle back into fashion someday, as these things tend to do.
On a cultural note, the New Seventeen Book of Etiquette and Young Living was written by Enid A Haupt, who was the longtime editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine. It contains advice on things like making and keeping friends, getting along with your family, dining out with a date, belonging to clubs and sororities, hosting and going to parties, going to college, manners in the business world, and engagement and wedding advice. For kicks I took a look at the current website of Seventeen magazine. The biggest headlines these days seem to go to celebrity gossip, with another huge chunk of real estate to left-wing political causes like Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, and Are You Latinx Enough. The ubiquitous article about getting rid of acne, the bane of teenage existence from time immemorial, is titled “Your Pimple is Officially Cancelled.” And the article called “20 Kissing Secrets to Master the Perfect Smooch” featured a photo of two girls locking lips. Suffice to say, it is not your mother’s Seventeen magazine.
Speaking of mothers, my mother and grandmother also had their own sets of fine china, which they trotted out on holidays and other festive occasions. It helped to mark the day or the meal as special, versus “everyday.” Seeing a table set with fine china was downright mood-altering, signaling that “something special this way comes.”
The world is very casual these days. Most people no longer dress up for church or travel or restaurants or even weddings. Some people seem to pride themselves on foregoing fine china and other elegant tableware, perhaps as a critique of late-stage capitalism or some other statement, or maybe out of sheer laziness and desire for comfort.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love comfort as much as the next person. But I think that in cultivating an attitude of all casual, all the time, we risk starting to think nothing is special, nothing is worth an extra effort. Happily, recent research disagrees.
It’s long been known by behavioral scientists that our thinking affects our decisions about what we do and how we do it. Now, there’s a field of neuroscience called “embodied cognition” that says the reverse is also true: that our environment–what we do and how we do it–can affect our thinking more than was previously thought.
I’m extremely oversimplifying the concept, to be sure, but basically our hearts are affected or influenced by what our physical selves are doing. You can help create a feeling of specialness or happiness about a day or a meal by treating it as such. Pulling out the fine china can seem stuffy and pretentious, or it can seem celebratory and important. It’s all in your attitude. You get to choose.
Here are six reasons why I still love using my fine china.
- It’s beautiful. It pleases me to look at it, like a work of art. Happily my taste hasn’t changed over the last forty years. I still like the pattern and the colors. If you’ve inherited china in a pattern you dislike, or your tastes have changed since you first chose a pattern in your teens, you can be forgiven for not loving it. But realize it’s the style you dislike and not fine china in general. if that’s the case, maybe treat yourself to a some new dishes and let the old ones go. One woman’s hideous china from Aunt Louise may be another woman’s charming vintage breakfast set.
- China manufactured in recent decades is dishwasher-safe. A reason I frequently hear for disliking fine china is that it requires hand-washing, creating extra work. That may be true for some antique patterns, but my 1980s-era china has stood up beautifully to being cleaned in the dishwasher. I make sure to space pieces so they don’t bump into each other and chip, and I use a gentler cycle and allow them to air dry rather than heated dry, and it’s been fine. One thing that I can’t do with my china, though, is I can’t use it in the microwave. It has a silver metal band around the edge that is not microwave-safe. I understand that more recent china patterns use microwave-safe decorations. Even so, avoiding the microwave seems a small price for the amount of joy my dishes give me. If something needs to be microwaved, I’ll simply use an everyday dish and then transfer the heated food to the china serving dish. No biggie.
- Fine china elevates the everyday. Some days are just hard. And if it lifts my mood even a little bit to use a special plate to hold my mundane meal of leftovers, I see nothing wrong with that.
- Fine china is affordable, especially these days when it’s largely fallen out of fashion. Stacks and stacks of lovely dishes are available for a song at thrift shops, and on sites like Etsy and eBay. And remember, you don’t have to buy a whole set of dishes. Just a piece or two can elevate your tablescape and gladden your heart. In fact,
- You don’t need a matched set of china at all. Different pieces can blend together beautifully, some solids, some patterns, different color combinations all add interest and beauty to your table.
- Bringing out the good china is honoring to family and friends. Sure, I love that the people closest to me are fine with paper plates and plastic forks, and much of the time these are perfectly suited to the occasion. But also, once in a while it’s also nice to show these same people that they’re worth the extra effort of setting an elegant table, of ironing a tablecloth or putting together a pretty centerpiece.
And there you have it, Sparklers: six reasons to pull out the fine china. Do you have any pieces of fine china, either that you inherited or received as a gift or even purchased for yourself? If so, do you use it? Tell us about it in the Comments section at sparklingvintagelife.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating or review at Apple or Google or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Reviews are very valuable for helping other like-minded kindred spirits find our quirky little podcast. As always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or look for me on Facebook or Pinterest. Meanwhile, thank you for listening, and I look forwarding to talking with you again soon on another episode of A Sparkling Vintage Life.
I enjoyed this book a lot. The story moves between 2 time periods (1985 and WWII) and 2 narrators, but I was never confused about what was going on. I found myself drawn equally into both storylines, which is rare in a dual-time-period novel (usually one story or the other is more compelling).
One small quibble: There was a minor “magical” element which seemed important to the story at first, but then was largely forgotten. I think it would have been more effective to either do more with the magical element or leave it out entirely.
I am looking forward to reading more books by this new-to-me author.
UPDATE: Feb 1, 2022. HAPPY LAUNCH DAY! We have our winners! Congratulations to Lori Smanski and Kathy West for being our randomly-selected winners. I’ll be contacting each of you to send you a copy of LUMBERJACKS & LADIES. Thank you all for participating!
As you can see from this photo, snapped from my living-room window, it’s deepest wintertime here in snow country–the perfect time to cozy up with a heartwarming historical romance novella. Well, why not FOUR of them? After all, northern winters tend to be long, cold, and dark . . . all the better for reading. (And if it happens to be high summer where you are, let these cool, pine-scented stories refresh your spirit.)
LUMBERJACKS & LADIES is a collection of four historical romance novellas from four authors you’ve come to love (or will love very soon, I promise): Naomi Musch, Candice Sue Patterson, Pegg Thomas, and of course, yours truly. The stories are set in Maine (1851), Michigan (1865), Wisconsin (1881), and Idaho (1890) and are sure to delight your romance-loving heart.
LUMBERJACKS & LADIES is set to release on February 1–just in time for Valentine’s Day–and is now available for pre-order. To celebrate the launch, I’d like to give away 2 copies to 2 loyal readers! To enter, simply leave a comment below. On February 1 I’ll pick two commenters at random and mail a book to each (or an e-book, if you’re outside the United States).
January 2022 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Grace Across the Miles by Christine Dillon — How can you belong when you don’t know who you are? Gina Reid is surrounded by people getting married or having babies. She’s under pressure to settle down but how can she do that when she doesn’t even know where she came from? Since the startling revelation that she was adopted, it’s felt like there is something missing. But fear has kept her from searching for her biological parents. What if learning the truth is worse than not knowing? Now an overheard comment has propelled her into action. Can Gina find out who she truly is? Or will she discover that some secrets are best left undisturbed? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Mercy’s Legacy by Sarah Hanks — After being released from prison, DeAndre struggles to make a new life for himself and his family. But when his past shows up in the doorway of his art studio, begging for a place in his heart and life, he is forced to make decisions that will alter his life forever. Nine-year-old Mercy has questions no one will answer. That is, until her brother reveals that he knows the whereabouts of her birthfather. Is the man whose blood runs in her veins a bad man like her parents told her? Or a good one? Could he fulfill the longing in her heart to truly belong? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Her Faith Restored by Cynthia Herron — Can two polar opposites meet in the middle to achieve a winning outcome? Sunset Meadows’ activity director Melinda Brewer has her work cut out for her. As a five-year veteran with the cutting-edge retirement community, “Mel” wears many hats. But her job is more than a title. The residents at “The Meadows” are like family—some of whom she’s known her entire life. Ruby—this little niche in the Ozark Mountains—may be a mere dot on the Missouri map, but it’s also Mel’s birthplace, the land of her heritage, reminiscent of old ways while cognizant of new seasons.Leave it to new kid on the block Matt Enders to upset the apple cart. When Enders is hired as the facility’s new social worker, his idea of a well-oiled machine is to eliminate a few rusty cogs—chiefly, some of Mel’s most successful programs. Mr. City Slicker doesn’t care about making waves. He delivers a hurricane! (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
His Road to Redemption by Lisa Jordan — Veteran Micah Holland’s scars go deeper than anyone knows. An inheritance from his mentor could be a new beginning—if he shares the inherited goat farm with fiercely independent Paige Watson. Now the only way they can keep the farm is to work together. But first Micah must prove he’s a changed man to keep his dream and the woman he’s falling for. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin)).
Love on Ice by Carolyn Miller — She’s focused on winning gold. He wants to lose the player tag. Can a fake relationship become something real? Aussie short track skater Holly Travers has one goal – make the Vancouver Games, no matter what it takes. She has no time for distractions, even if they come in the handsome form of her Canadian best friend’s twin brother. This hockey player may say he’s not a player, but can she trust him? Brent Karlsson has one goal – make his sister’s best friend realize he’s a changed man and she should give him a chance. When a set-up in Hawaii helps these two opposites realize they have more in common than they thought, what happens when he wants to turn their fake relationship into something real? And how can a relationship work when these two elite athletes never see each other and live on opposite sides of the world?
(Contemporary Romance, Independently Published).
Searching for Home by Jill Weatherholt — When injured professional bull rider Luke Beckett returns to his hometown to recover, he doesn’t expect his B and B host and physical therapist to be his first and only love, Meg Brennan. He’s also unprepared for Meg’s adorable triplets to steal his heart. Luke’s past has him doubting he’s good enough for Meg and the children, but they might be just what the doctor ordered to help him heal. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Harmony on the Horizon by Kathleen Denly — Her calling to change the world may be his downfall. On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them. After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Her Darling Mr. Day by Grace Hitchcock — New Orleans’ most eligible bachelor insists he’s not on the market . . . but he couldn’t be more wrong. Jilted in front of all New York, Theodore Day decides to lose himself in his family’s luxury riverboat business in New Orleans and compete against his brother to become the next company head. The brother with the most sales by summer’s end will win the position. Thanks to Theodore’s fame as a suitor in a socialite’s outlandish competition to find a husband, he has become very desirable royalty in Southern society and thus has an advantage. It took Flora Wingfield’s best work to convince her family to summer in New Orleans, but with Teddy Day a bachelor once again, she’s leaving nothing to chance. Desperate to stand out from all the clamoring belles, Flora attempts a bold move that goes completely awry, only to find it’s her interior design skills that finally catch his notice. But when Flora’s father’s matchmaking schemes come in the way of her plans, Teddy will have to decide where his happiness truly lies and what he is willing to sacrifice for it. (Historical Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Love’s Twisting Trail by Betty Woods — Stampedes, wild animals, and renegade Comanches make a cattle drive dangerous for any man. The risks multiply when Charlotte Grimes goes up the trail disguised as Charlie, a fourteen-year-old boy. She promised her dying father she’d save their ranch after her brother, Tobias, mismanages their money. To keep her vow, she rides the trail with the brother she can’t trust. David Shepherd needs one more successful drive to finish buying the ranch he’s prayed for. He partners with Tobias to travel safely through Indian Territory. David detests the hateful way. Tobias treats his younger brother, Charlie. But what does he do when he discovers Charlie’s secret? What kind of woman would do what she’s done? (Historical Romance from Scrivenings Press)
Marrying Mr. Wrong by Melissa Jagears — Gwendolyn McGill wants to be loved and accepted for who she is, but that’s hard to do in a small town where everyone judges her by the scandal her father caused. Unfortunately, the man she hoped would sweep her away from all the wagging tongues is no longer interested in marrying her. Unable to leave town, she’s determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face who knows how to bat her eyelashes.?For years, Timothy O’Conner has loved Gwen from a distance, knowing someone like her would never be attracted to a lowly ranch hand with a blemished face like him. When Gwen unexpectedly shows up at the ranch, asking him to help her learn how to attract a man of quality, Tim’s feelings become even harder to suppress. When danger pushes them together, they discover there’s more to each other than either of them imagined. Though God is no respecter of persons, is the desire of their hearts strong enough to defy society’s expectations? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Song for the Hunter by Naomi Musch — Wed to a trading company partner to escape life in Montreal under her harsh father’s thumb, Camilla Bonnet finds herself tragically widowed and pregnant in the Upper Country frontier. When her brother fails to return for her from Fort William, she is cast on the mercy of the trading post owner’s family. She also draws comfort from Bemidii Marchal, a Métis hunter who soothes away her misgivings as he finds his own refuge on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island. Bemidii’s thoughts of courting a maiden are cut short when he raises his knife against a company man at Fort William’s Great Rendezvous. No one will believe he killed to protect his sister—least of all the beautiful Frenchwoman on Madeline Island who stirs his affections—not when she learns that her brother is dead and Bemidii stands accused of his murder. As the sharp blade of truth divides them, will Bemidii survive the justice of powerful men who are a law unto themselves? Or will his life—and Camilla—be lost to him forever? (Historical Romance from Iron Stream Media (Smitten Historical Romance, imprint of LPC, division of ISM))
Four Days Famous by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas Grey doesn’t want to be famous. Not even for a day.?As a private investigator, he prefers to fly under the radar. However, when a well-known doctor asks Mylas to investigate his father’s murder, that’s exactly what happens. Suddenly, Mylas is dodging reporters while interviewing suspects and searching for the dead man’s elusive girlfriend. (Mystery/Crime, Independently Published)
The Sword and the Song by Carla Laureano — With a storm on the horizon, who will stand against the darkness??Conor and Aine have barely escaped Seare with their lives. Conor knows he must return to find the harp that could end the Red Druid’s reign of terror, but he must first see Aine safely to her family home on the isle of Amanta. When an unnatural storm tears them apart, they find themselves in even more danger than that which they fled. Because magic is not the only thing to fear in Aine’s homeland, where the Sofarende invaders harry the coasts and shifting clan alliances make it impossible to know who to trust. Conor and Aine must cling to the whispers of Comdiu’s plans for them and their enduring love for one another, even when the future looks darkest. But with betrayal at every turn, will they give into fear? Or will they learn to depend on Comdiu completely … before all hope is lost? (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)
Shadow of Fear by Urcelia Teixeira — What seemed like the end was really the beginning. Enemies collide in the second installment of the toe-curling Christian Suspense Thriller that left readers gasping for more at the end of book one! Blinded by revenge of her own, she hunted down her enemies, hoping to put her past behind her. Only to find that breaking free isn’t as easy as she’d thought it would be. Blood got shed, lives lost, and now, more lives are at stake. Caught in a deadlock between enemies who won’t stop until they serve revenge, Jorja has to make a choice. Die, or make a deal with the devil. Her choice sets in motion one of the biggest assignments she has ever undertaken. One where fear threatens to seize her heart and take her soul. Can she finally break free from death’s clutches, risk it all, one last time? (Thriller Suspense, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
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!