New Blog. Newsletter! Giveaway!

Hey all – don’t forget I’ve moved my blog to my website.

I’m running a giveaway for signups to my new Newsletter. You can sign up here. All the details, including the Rafflecopter, can be found here.

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My blog has MOVED!!!!

It is now embedded in my website and can be found at:

All posts/comments/etc have been moved!

Thanks for checking it out over there!

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Book Review: Defending the Duchess by Rachelle McCalla

He’ll keep her safe—at any cost

Protecting the royal family is Linus Murati’s job. So when the queen’s younger sister is attacked, the devoted Lydian royal guardsman goes into action and saves her life. But this was no random occurrence. Danger has followed Julia Miller across the Atlantic from Seattle. Now Linus has two missions: to keep the maddeningly independent future duchess in his sights at all times, and to catch the culprit who threatens the woman whose trust—and love—he desires above all others.

Protecting the crown: The royal guardsmen serve their country with honor and integrity

This series is a sequel to Rachelle’s earlier series, Reclaiming the Crown, which follows four siblings – children of the king and queen of the fictional country of Lydia. This series picks up not long after that one leaves off. This time we’re following some of the men who make up the royal guard.

In this case, it’s Linus. A man whose past may come back to haunt him as he tries desperately to keep the new queen’s sister safe.

Julia came to Lydia to help her sister, but trouble has followed her. As with many of the books in the first series, time is split between Lydia and at least one other location – in this case, Seattle.

The suspense is enough to keep you guessing. The romance is enough to make you sigh. The hero is a true hero. The heroine is tough but tender.

I enjoyed returning to Lydia – as well as the “prequel” of sorts in the Love Inspired Historical offering from Rachelle – A Royal Marriage – set in Lydia during the time of Charlemagne. I can’t wait for the rest of the books in this series or going back to see what happens to John’s brother centuries earlier.

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy in exchange for my review.
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Book Review: Swept Away by Mary Connealy

Laughter, Romance, and Action Abound in This New Series from Mary Connealy

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn’t all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they’ve ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she’s rescued by Luke Stone…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn’t make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can’t just abandon Ruthy, so she’ll have to come along.

His friends–a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers–take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that’s rather rude–he’s the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big Mary Connealy fan. Both Mary the author and Mary the person. I tend to preorder the books as soon as they’re available to do so. And I offer to review them as soon as they’re available too. The side benefit? Getting to read before they release ;). The downside? It’s still months before the next one – even if I get it early too :p.

I’ve seen Mary talk about this opening over on Seekerville and it lived up to my expectations. Almost immediately we’re thrown into the river with Ruthy and wondering whether her no good “family” will survive – and will she?

She does of course – or the book would be awfully short. She’s rescued by Luke. Readers of Mary’s Kincaid Brothers series will recognize Luke’s sister Callie as the heroine from Over the Edge, book 3 of that series.

Callie, pregnant then with an infant, was unable to hold onto their family ranch when a bad guy steals it from under her. With nowhere to go, she headed to Colorado to find her husband, Seth Kincaid.

Now Luke has taken it upon himself to get the ranch back. He spent too much time in Andersonville Prison, becoming a Regulator. He’s in the right when he says the ranch was stolen and he can prove it. But the man who’s taken over won’t leave without a fight.

Luke has a group of men he trusts with his life. And now he has Ruthy, too. He wants her to stay home and stay safe. She rolls her eyes and does what she wants – and helps him out in the process.

As always, Mary brings her A game – and she keeps getting better and better. Luke Stone hasn’t replaced Tom Linscott from Sharpshooter in Petticoats as my all-time favorite of Mary’s heroes, but he’s a close second. That says something. A lot of something actually.

In Swept Away, there’s laughter, tears, heart-pounding action and that’s just for the reader. The characters experience all those things, plus love, pain, shoot-outs, rock climbing, and clandestine meetings.

And a wedding.

One of the things I loved about Swept Away was that Mary gives us some of the “After” in “Happily Ever After”. She didn’t stop with the first kiss or the proposal or even the “I do” but she gave us a hint of their life together.

Of course, she also gave us the first chapter of book 2 in the series :p.


Since I’m writing this six weeks or so before it’s release, I’ll set it to post early around the official 3/1/13 release date so it’ll ship when you order it. Because you know you wanna. And my paper copy will be here then, too :D.

Overall rating: 9.5 out of 10

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.
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Book Review: Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings

Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How’s a Girl to Choose?

Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together. 

Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town–and her life–and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind. 

What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?

It’s no secret I loved Regina’s debut novel, Sixty Acres and a Bride. A loose retelling of Ruth and Boaz, it was on the top of my list for 2012. This year, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Love in the Balance. This one isn’t based on a Bible story, but does follow a couple involved on the periphery in the first book.

I loved Molly and Bailey. I hated Edward. But I was supposed to, I suppose ;).

This is one of those books where I don’t feel I can get too involved in discussing the plot without giving away major plot points. 😦

And I hate that.

That said, Regina once again does a masterful job of pulling us back into Texas in the late 1800s and giving us characters we can root for, cheer with and cry over.

Her characters are flawed, but in the end, all is washed clean through the blood of Christ and His forgiveness.

The down side to reading this early? [I read an advance copy in January.]

I have to wait that much longer for her next book. Sigh.

Overall rating: 9.25 out of 10 stars

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy in exchange for my review. Thanks to Regina and the publisher for a hard copy in exchange for my review [don’t ask how I somehow ended up with both ;)].
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My Book Therapy (MBT) Frasier Contest – Be Like Mike and Just. Do. It.

So the amazing Melissa Tagg [coordinator extra-ordinaire of the MBT Frasier Blog Tour] sent those of us participating a bunch of questions that we could answer if needed help getting this blog started.

And I’m not ashamed to admit… I’m gonna use ’em ;).

But before that – have you seen her new cover?! You can see it in the right sidebar of her blog about the Frasier from yesterday. Isn’t it awesome?

Right. Why you should enter the Frasier? And what about my experiences?

What motivated me to enter last year?

Great feedback. Fabulous final judges. And that MBT retreat as a prize? Wowza! Plus I knew some of the finalists from the year before and they told me what an amazing experience being a finalist was.

Plus the pizza parties at ACFW [where the winner is announced] are a riot. Seriously. I have not laughed that hard in ages. And while you don’t have to final to go, the announcement of the winner is a sure highlight. But the rest of it is amazing fun. Not a finalist? Go anyway.

Why are you entering this year?

Uh… no. I’m not. I don’t think I am. I wish I was. But see, we have this family vacation coming up. A big one. Our first one in over a decade [you know, when I only had 1 kid instead of 4… and she didn’t eat solid foods yet]. And we’re gonna be gone eleven days – plus I’m sure y’all have seen the gas prices in the last month…

So, I’m having to budget my contest money. Very. Carefully. And I think I’m only gonna get one or two entries this spring – if I’m really lucky. 😦 There’s some good contests out there – and Frasier is one of the really, really good ones. Man, I wish I had a money tree…

Did you learn anything from writing that 500-word synopsis?

That I hate writing synopses? But seriously, trying to figure out what’s important enough to include in that synopsis is a really good exercise. What’s important. What’s not. What’s really, really important. The very essence of the story. What it all boils down to. That’s something that all writers should need be able to do. Writing a 500-word synopsis helps you do that.

Note: Do not under any circumstances THROW your laptop across the room during this process. It will not end well. But if you don’t throw it and work through the 500-word synopsis, you’ll be glad you did.

How did the feedback from judges benefit you?

They were right. The judges saw things I didn’t. I was too close to the story and couldn’t see the problems. The characterization problem. The random insertion of a taste or smell line just so I could say that I had all 5 senses in there [because those are the two I struggle with]. The feedback helped me fix those things and many others. Anyone who enters will get the same thoughtful comments I have gotten – and many others have as well.

Do you have any advice for people who are considering entering this year?

DO IT! Enter! If you’re not planning a Disney vacation for ten [or if you are – and you have a money tree – enter then call me ;)]… GO FOR IT! The final judges are incredible – Susan May Warren, award winning author and Founder of MBT. The incomparable Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency. And Shannon Marchese, senior fiction editor at Waterbrook-Multnomah.

Read through the guidelines. Make sure you have what they’re looking for worked in – things like the five senses [and not just a throwaway line about how it smelled like puke [trust me on that one ;)]], proper formatting and so on. Then polish those entries till they shine and be like Mike. JUST. DO. IT.

I can’t wait to see who wins this year!


Entries for the 2013 MBT Frasier Contest for unpublished novelists will be accepted through Sunday, March 31, at 11:59 p.m. The contest is open to Voices members. The winner will receive a scholarship to a My Book Therapy coaching retreat ($500 value). Final round judges are award-winning author Susan May Warren; literary agent Steve Laube; and Shannon Marchese, senior fiction editor for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. For more information, FAQs and to enter, visit

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Book Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe? Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

Isn’t that a gorgeous cover?! I just love it!

And I love this book. I have the privilege of being a first reader for Melanie [meaning I get to read the books way early and make suggestions if necessary]. I first read The Fairest Beauty last year and have been itching to get my hands on an actual copy ever since!

The second time through, it still didn’t disappoint! Ah! Happy, waffy sigh!

I love Sophie and Gabe. I love the Cottage of the Seven and how she made only one of them a dwarf and loved the rest of them just as much as she gave them the characteristics of the more traditional dwarfs in other ways.

I loved to hate Duchess Ermengard [sp?]. I loved the way Melanie worked the elements of the more traditional retellings of Snow White into this book while not resorting to any of the fantastical, magical or mystical elements usually found. Everything in here was realistic in that sense. There were healing herbs and so on but no more so than anywhere else – or what we would call homeopathic remedies today.

Gabe is the younger brother – the one who never quite measures up. Here, in rescuing Sophie, he proves his worth not only to her but to his family as well. Though Sophie is betrothed to Valten, Gabe’s older brother, and Gabe is betrothed to another girl, any reader of romance [even YA romance like this one], knows the two main characters will end up together – and Melanie does a masterful job of this.

Already, I’m looking forward to the chance to reread Melanie’s next book, The Captive Maiden. You can find out more about it in this post on her blog.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Thanks to Melanie and the publisher for a copy in exchange for my review.
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