In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot ~ Book Review Reply

Firefly Valley

A contemporary romance, set in a quaint, Texan town …

where hearts heal and dreams come true.

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot is a classic christian romance novel, filled with inspiration. Marisa St. George is the heroine of this story, and Amanda Cabot has created something of a fairy-tale world in which this very unlucky woman is trying to escape the pain of her past. Her inner struggle is astoundingly real. For me, the relationship between Marisa and Blake Kendall was the best part of the book, although not because of the romance. While the romance was sweet, it was the characters journey to understand each other, deal with conflict, and resolve tough issues that kept my attention. The story within the story is why I recommend this book.


No Place to Hide ~ Book Review Reply

No place to hideNo Place to Hide by Lynette Eason is a fast-paced, romantic suspense novel. Big stakes are involved for the hero and heroine, falsely accused and on the run, along with those who help them.

There’s a “Person of Interest” meets “Castle” feel to the story, and like those shows we never seriously doubt the good guys will win but enjoy the thrill of seeing them get out of impossible situations.

Overall, this is good entertainment with a  memorable cast of characters. It is Book 3 of the Hidden Identity series. I have not read either of the first two books, but that was not a hindrance to this story.

~ from the back cover

It’s not every day you see your childhood friend and one-time crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can’t believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she’s determined to find him and help him clear his name. But she’s not the only one looking. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to save thousands of innocent lives.

The Heart of the Amish ~ Book Review Reply


“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Several years ago and quite by accident, I discovered that a sure way to spark a group debate is to bring up the topic of forgiveness in a ladies Bible study. Enough time has passed that those who shared the experience with me can probably laugh about it. I hope. However, that night hearts were tender and differences of opinion abounded. I was woefully unprepared to offer anything remote to wisdom or guidance on the issues I had dredged up. I can still see the face of each woman present for that discussion; because I am indebted to each one who by her honesty caused me to examine biblical forgiveness more closely.

In both concept and practice, forgiveness is a never-ending study. Forgiveness is necessary for individual spiritual growth and personal peace, as well as essential to peace in our homes, churches and communities. Still, we struggle to grasp what exactly is expected of us. For Christ’s followers, his mandates are high–impossible even–and force us to recognize that we are dependent not only on God but also on each other, in order to live lives characterized by forgiveness.

Who, as a collective whole, could be better to study than the Amish on the subject of forgiveness? To forgive as Jesus taught to forgive is one of the strongest tenets of the Amish faith. They fail, as we all do, but we can learn from both success and failure.

In The Heart of the Amish, Suzanne Woods Fisher takes us on a real life journey through forgiveness related experiences of men, women and families of Amish heritage. These stories are not just about how the Amish have to forgive outsiders or unbelievers but also each other. The author does not paint a false impression of a perfect society. Rather, she uses a wide palette of those within the Amish church and some of those who have left it. She renders for us a portrait of a homogenous belief system tested on a daily basis that proves faithful when the hardest trials come–an example that begs for examination.

Chances are high that you will find inspiration and challenges in the stories in this book. Beware, you may suddenly find your attitude changing … and you may have to change along with it. I have.

Heart of Amish quote

The Thorn Bearer ~ Book Review 3

“Don’t you ever imagine things different than what they are …

want to discover a new author or read a debut novel?”

anneshirley oh how much you miss“No. I do not.”

“Oh, Marilla, how much you miss.”

falling leavesOkay. I took some liberties with the Anne Shirley quote, but you can imagine her saying it. Right?

A great new book hit the shelves this month by an author from Asheville, North Carolina–arguably the most romantic city in my home state. You may think Biltmore. I think my honeymoon! Apparently, what should come to mind is a hotbed of great writing.

Meet the Author


If you aren’t yet familiar with Pepper Basham, author of The Thorn Bearer, please let me introduce you. There is so much to love about this woman. Sure, a lovable–even likeable–author is not a prerequisite to a good book (although it helps). I am not ashamed to admit that knowing this author is a speech-language pathologist, who spends her days loving on autistic children, meant I didn’t hesitate for a single second on deciding to purchase her debut novel. I owe a lifelong debt to the SLP who gave my son the gift of spoken language. That’s just a soft spot for me.

Pepper is also the mother of five and a music minister’s wife. Story-telling is a natural part of her life, passed down through her mountain heritage. She loves hats, and she rocks them–the ones people like me just dream about actually wearing. Plus, she writes great books! When? Oh, I would like to know.

When I opened The Thorn Bearer, I begged it not to disappoint me. Yes, I talk to my books, sometimes. Usually just short exclamations like, “No!”, “What?”, or “Oooh, I have to read that part again”. In this case, I wanted to be able to tell Pepper her book was terrific. I was just a tad afraid of that awful moment when you can’t finish the book. How do you explain that to the person you wanted to encourage? I had NOTHING to worry about. This was a no-bathroom-break kind of book.

Top 5 Reasons I Loved

The Thorn Bearer


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#1  The Heart

The heroine of this story, Ashleigh Dougall, is a survivor. Despite great personal tragedy she has a will to live and to love. With dignity and grace, the author leads us through the darkest alleys of Ashleigh’s personal struggles. I promise no spoilers with my reviews, but I will tell you that the resolution is beautiful. No trite platitudes or easy resolutions. This is a story of faith and forgiveness with a very sensitive heart.

#2 The History

The release of The Thorn Bearer coincides with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania in World War I. I never dreamed that would be a favorite part of the book for me. I only watched Titanic once. That’s right, I never found shipwrecks to be very romantic. Yeah … well … Mrs. Basham knows how to tell a story and keep you on the edge of your seat. The details of her research mercilessly wretch you back in time to experience the intrigue of a world of both fact and fantasy.

#3 The Hero

A good romance needs a great hero. The Thorn Bearer has Sam Miller. He has a dime-a-dozen name. He’s not a duke or a prince. He makes at least one serious blunder. He is human, after all, but Sam is not any ordinary man. For Ashleigh Dougall, he is a life-line to her weary soul. For the reader, he keeps the pages turning and the romance sparking.

#4 The Writing

Seamless. Captivating. Heartfelt. Truly enjoyable.

#5 The Title

Seriously? Yes. Once the identity of the Thorn Bearer and the theme of his sacrificial healing is clear … well, the title is genius. Be that as it may, the masterful delivery of the themes of faith and forgiveness hidden in the title are what I love most about this book.

Bravo, Pepper Basham!


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From the decks of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of France, Ashleigh must choose between the forgiveness of her past, life in the present, and a Savior who can rescue her from them all. When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman? In an attempt to escape the shame and disappointment of her past, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone. Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and protection as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend’s former fiancé and his own childhood companion. As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship. When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of war and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever.

Anna’s Crossing ~ Book Review Reply

Anna’s Crossing

by Suzanne Woods Fisher


Anna’s Crossing

Ever wonder where the Amish came from?

Before horse and buggies, bonnets and plows were anachronistic …

Were the Amish still peculiar?

In Anna’s Crossing, Suzanne Woods Fisher takes us back to a time very close to the beginnings of the Anabaptist sect, known as the Amish. As we cross the Atlantic with the reluctant Anna Konig on-board the Charming Nancy in 1737, Fisher exposes us to both the perils of their sea journey and the faith that still sets the Amish apart.

I’m uncertain how to categorize this novel. While definitely historical, romance, and fiction–all about the Amish, it is not what is generally labelled Amish fiction. At least not in my mind. Lovers of Amish fiction will enjoy all they love about the genre in this title. Yet, historical fiction lovers get the ultimate surprise–well-researched detail seamlessly delivered in exquisite story-telling. And then, there’s the romance. If you don’t like a tender love story, be warned. This is a lovely romance indeed.

falling leaves transparent

From the Back Cover

Some endings are really beginnings . . .

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home–assuming she survives. She’s heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship’s carpenter Bairn resents the somber people–dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands–who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

falling leaves

The Trouble with Patience ~ Book Review Reply

Rich with historical detail, charged with page-turning mystery,

and tempered with the thrill of romance.

The Trouble with Patience is guaranteed fun.

TTWPThe Trouble with Patience

by Maggie Brendan

falling leaves

~Old West charm~

~Timeless Truths~

~Humor & a dash of mystery~

All these made Maggie Brendan’s new release a pleasure. Nevada City, Montana in 1866 springs from the pages through the eyes of Patience Cavanaugh and Jedidiah Jones with the same riveting chemistry that made John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara classic favorites.

The Trouble with Patience has more going for it than a great cast of characters (which it does have in spades). The heart of the story runs below the surface through the troubles of the past and the choices of the present.  The trouble with Patience is not unlike troubles of our own, and the journey of Patience brings us hope for our own. And that is my #1 reason for reading Christian Fiction.


Book Review ~ The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith Reply

Book Review and FREE download

the crimson cordA fictional narrative of the biblical character, Rahab–the prostitute from Jericho who saved the Israelite spies and was then spared by God during the desolation of that city. The same Rahab who is listed in the lineage of Jesus.

What a story!

What I appreciated most about this book was that the author adheres to the biblical account AND tells a story filled with rich historical detail. Rahab comes to life along with her ageless archetype of redemption.

Jill Eileen Smith glosses over NOTHING! And, I admire her courage to delve into what are both spiritually and emotionally difficult subjects. As entertaining and flawless as the story may be, it is still primarily a tale to make you think.

Which in my opinion is exactly what Biblical Fiction ought to do.

If Jill Eileen Smith is new to you, feel free to download the first chapter for FREE. Hey, even if you’re already a huge fan of her previous series, you can still read the first chapter for free, too.

DOWNLOAD Chapter One for FREE!

From the back cover ~

Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband’s debt. Forced into prostitution, she despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime.

In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside Jericho’s walls–or if she will ever know the meaning of love.

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of the Wives of King David series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and The Desert Princess, first in the Loves of King Solomon series. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at

Book Review: Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris Reply

Lisa Harris is the author of over twenty novels, the winner of multiple awards including both the Christy Award and Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. Somehow, this is the first of her novels that I have read. Romantic/Suspense is not my go to genre, but I was intrigued by the author and wanted to give one of her novels a go.

Hidden Agenda, the final installment of Lisa Harris' Southern Crimes Trilogy

Hidden Agenda, the final installment of Lisa Harris’ Southern Crimes Trilogy

Hidden Agenda begins with high-stakes and never lets up. It reads like a movie I would watch with my husband … and there aren’t many that we both like. We usually agree on action flicks with enough suspense for him and enough drama for me. Hidden Agenda would make a great date night for us.

Overall, I enjoyed Hidden Agenda, even if it is a departure from my regular reading, and I look forward to reading more from Lisa Harris in the future.

  • The romance is clean and believable. That ranks high with me.
  • The mystery carries the story to the end and concludes in a satisfying manner.  In other words, no lose ends … I hate those.
  • The spiritual journey of the main characters is true to life, and that makes or breaks Christian fiction for me. I was not disappointed.

Hidden Agenda is a stand alone novel, however characters from the previous two books and their continuing story are incorporated in this novel. Those who prefer no spoilers may want to begin with the first books of the trilogy: #1 Dangerous Passage  & #2 Fatal Exchange.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Crock Pot Recipe Review: Teriyaki Chicken Reply

Crock Pot Teriyaki ChickenCrock Pot Teriyaki Chicken… thanks to Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen!

click here for the recipe

It’s cold, even here in the South. So, I asked my Facebook friends for their favorite Crock Pot recipes to warm us up. They shared some delicious enough just to read, and I plan on testing them all. Because I much prefer food in my stomach than my imagination. 🙂

Tonight we had Teriyaki Chicken, and the results …

~~Drum-roll, please~~

… a big hit, especially with hubby! I worked last night and had to work again tonight, which usually equals take-out. Believe it or not, this was faster. I had the chicken on-hand, and it took less than 5 minutes to throw the rest in the pot. I used fresh ginger plus a pinch of red pepper flakes because a little spice helps everything. Son #1 knows how to work the rice-cooker, so dinner was a cinch. The hard part was trying to sleep with that wonderful smell filling up the house.

Thank you to April for sharing one of her family’s favorites.

Next up, Ginny’s All-American Chili Chowder. This is the kind you find on a worn-out 3×5 handed down from family member to family member. Can’t wait!


Why is My Name on Page 74? Reply

Last night, my first published story arrived at the back door. I turned on the Christmas lights, saw the sticky note from Fed-Ex, and there it was on the stoop.

I suppose most writers feel like they’ve experienced a small miracle when they see their name in print for the first time. Mine is on a mere 1,000 words. I tell myself it’s not a big deal. It’s not a novel, or a novella, or even a short story. It’s just a short, short story. Still, I feel like something remarkable happened, just not anything I can take credit for.

Twenty years ago, I stopped writing. I slammed the door on a talent God gave me to use. So for me, this is about more than a story I wrote being published. This is a picture of God’s healing… of a door he gently re-opened. A reminder of His love and that He never gives up on me. On us.

This is my picture of Emmanuel. God with us.

My pub collageNow available from Salem Publications