Sheila's Books Read

Sheila's bookshelf: read

The Best Intentions
Scotland's Melody
The Secret Society of Salzburg
Secret of the Sonnets
20-40-60-Minute Dinners: Meals to Match the Time You Have
Through the Wilderness: My Journey of Redemption and Healing in the American Wild
Secret Santa Claus Club: A Tool to Help Parents Unwrap the Secret of Santa
Mr. Pudgins
Revenge Never Rests
The Best Mistake
Meriden Park
More Inspirational Stories for Young Women
The Great Tree: A Christmas Fable
To Capture His Heart
The Call of the Sea
Esperance
Livvy and the Enchanted Woodland
Come, Gentle Night
The Bad Boy Theory
Guide To Smart Wedding Planning: What You want to know and everything you haven't thought of yet.


Sheila's favorite books »

2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
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Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple: A Novel By Joanna Davidson Politano-Christian Historical Fiction Review


 Book Synopsis

Peter Driscoll, an underground investigator to the wealthy, has never met anyone like Lily Temple. The beautiful silent-film actress spins fairy tales and plays frivolous roles in front of the cine-camera, but beneath the costumes and stage makeup is a woman with a quick wit--and a murky past.

Peter has been tasked with locating the legendary Briarwood Teardrop, an exquisite sapphire, which Lily wears beneath her gown. In order to stay close to her and hopefully unravel the mystery of her story--and the sapphire--Peter employs Lily's help on a case, which leads to a useful partnership. But as they are investigating together, Peter is also investigating Lily. The closer he gets to the truth, the more danger they face. And the closer he gets to Lily, the clearer it is that he needs her even more than she needs him.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano whisks you away to Edwardian England in 1903 for a whimsical and layered tale that treads the crooked line between real and make-believe.

Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Revell (April 9, 2024)
  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0800742974
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

My Review

"The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple" by Joanna Davidson Politano is an Edwardian historical mystery/romance novel published by Revell. 

The main character, Lily Temple, is a complex individual with a somewhat secretive past. She is a silent film star who became famous during the Golden Age of Cinema, and she presents a mystical and fairy-tale-like essence. 

Peter Driscoll, a detective for the wealthy, becomes captured in Lily's mysterious environment when he discovers a link between her and a prized sapphire he's been hired to locate. As Peter investigates Lily's past and motives more, both of their lives become increasingly at risk as they go on the run.

 There is also the theme of storytelling that is noticeable throughout the story. I found that this connected me to its simple yet deep language. I enjoyed how each chapter began with a quote from some well-known storytellers such as Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Anderson, Jacob Grimm, and George MacDonald, that established the mood for the upcoming chapter. Literary inferences are integrated throughout the book, including those from the novel "A Tale of Two Cities." The writing in the novel is elegantly composed, flowing smoothly like a calm mountain stream. 

Readers will be mesmerized by Lily Temple's words,  and you too will realize her depth beyond her on-screen, and at times flighty personality. 

Another thing I appreciated was the symbolic spiritual themes that are interwoven into the story, that will allow each reader to interpret the message based on their own beliefs. For me, it was ultimately pointing to a Creator and the Master Gardener, God. 

"The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple" blends mystery, adventure, fairy tale, and romance to craft a dynamic story of love, sorrow, and renewal.

I heartily feel this is a book meant to be savored, as the touching words urge all readers to engage themselves in Lily's world.

****Meet Author Joanna Davidson Politano****

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, was released last October 3 from Revell. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.


~*~*~*~*Purchase The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple~*~*~*~*

HERE:

Paperback-https://amzn.to/4afFnHe

Kindle-https://amzn.to/3yfaO78

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Book Blast for The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels: A Barrister Perris Mystery

The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels Banner

The Twisted Road

by A.B. Michaels

May 23 - 29, 2024 Book Blast

Book Synopsis:

The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels

Barrister Perris Mysteries

 

Jonathan Perris Can’t Save His Clients
…Until He Saves Himself

1907

Rising from the devastation of a massive earthquake and fire, San Francisco is once again on the move. But a strike by streetcar drivers threatens to halt the Golden City in its tracks. Protests turn to violence and violence leads to death. Soon a young guard is convicted of willfully killing a protester and the public is out for blood.

Jonathan Perris, an immigrant attorney from England, has opened a law firm with an eye toward righting wrongs, and the guard’s conviction may fall into that category. But the talented barrister soon finds his newfound career shaken by a tragic event: the gruesome homicide of the beautiful and mysterious Lena Mendelssohn—a woman he’s been squiring around town. It’s difficult to run a law firm when you’ve been arrested for murder.

Don't miss your chance for a limited time sale! Grab The Twisted Road for $1.99!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Red Trumpet Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2024
Number of Pages: 422
ISBN: 978-1-7337863-4-8 (Paperback) 978-1-7337863-0-0 (ebook)
Series: Barrister Perris Mysteries, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Bloody Tuesday

San Francisco
Turk Street Car Barn
May 7,1907

Nineteen years old, with the long, skinny limbs of a colt, Jimmy Walsh crouched behind a lamppost and shivered in the early morning fog. He dropped the brick he’d been clutching and hesitated before picking it up again. "This ain't right," he said, just loud enough for his nearest comrade in arms to hear. "It's like waitin' for Beelzebub to unleash his hounds of hell." Several yards away, the wooden barn that housed the city's electric trolley cars remained shuttered, but the sounds inside, muted through the mist, told him the show was about to begin.

Toke Griffin, a rock in one meaty hand, took a drag of his cheroot with the other. The smoke mixed with the fog, obscuring his leathered face. Two decades older than Jimmy, he was a union man from way back. This strike was nothing new. "Yeah, well them mutts are takin' our jobs and we got to stop 'em any way we can." He tossed the rock a few times and caught it. "They're scabs and rotten to the core. We got to let them know it." The gas-powered streetlight above Jimmy hissed, letting off sparks and a sulfurous belch. Toke barked in appreciation. "Even the damn lamp's on our side."

"Shut the hell up!" Another hiss—this one from a fellow striker, positioned behind one of the barbed wire barriers the scabs had set up to protect the cars. "You'll give us away."

Toke continued to grouse but lowered his voice. "Hell, you think they don't know we're out here? They're chompin' at the bit same as us." He tossed his rock again. "But we got right on our side, just like old Davey and Goliath. You wait and see."

Jimmy tried to swallow but couldn't get passed his Adam's apple. Lord, he wished he had some water or somethin' else to calm the jitters taking over his body. Even his lucky red flannel shirt was no help. Why didn't he keep the grub his mother had given him as he’d left that morning? She'd been up before him, knowing he had to go and not even trying to talk him out of it. "You keep your head down," she warned as she handed him the bag with bread and cheese and a slice of apple cake in it. She’d even put in a mason jar full of cider.

"Sure, sure, Ma," he'd told her, "Don't worry about it. I'll be fine." Giving her a peck on the cheek, he’d headed out, but once around the corner, he'd ditched the bag, thinking it would look squirrelly bringing a lunch sack to a riot. What a damn fool.

It shouldn't have come to this. It'd been over a year since the earthquake and fire had torn up the city, and the roads were still a tangled, busted-up mess. It was tricky driving the streetcars, and there were fewer drivers to boot. All the union wanted was an eight hour day and three bucks a shift. But United Railroads kept bickering with the city over repairs and used that excuse to refuse the union's demands. What else could the carmen do but strike? Then the company brought in the Farleymen to drive the cars—four hundred of them! It stunk to high heaven and Toke had the right of it: they had to stop the scabs from taking their jobs.

The crowd outside the barricade was growing. Jimmy saw groups of Poles and Italians and Irish, even Chinese. They weren't members of his union, but they were workingmen all the same, showing their support. That was labor for you, sticking together to get the job done. But there were also women and kids pouring out onto the street, like it was a parade or something! Thank God Ma had stayed home; he hoped his cousin was smart enough to keep her distance, too. This kind of ruckus was no place for females.

But damn if there weren't plenty of ladies mixed in with everybody else, a lot of them young and fired up, itchin' for a fight just like the men. He'd never admit it, but deep down, part of him admired their courage. Like Toke said, they were sticking up for what was right.

He was chewing on those thoughts when the big wooden doors on the barn began to slide open with a screech and the streetcars lumbered out, each driven by a scab, and each protected by several men with clubs and a guard with a rifle. The clock in the tower above the car barn soon started chiming the hour, but it was nearly drowned out by all the people screaming insults as they surged through an opening where the cars were supposed to leave the yard.

The strikers rushed by Jimmy, shoving him out of the way and already throwing whatever they'd been carrying—rocks and bricks and bottles—toward the scabs. Some strikers on the roofs pushed iron girders they must have got from construction sites; the beams hit the cars with a sickening clang.

Jimmy started to throw his brick, but stopped when he got a look at the second car and who was guarding it. Damnation, it was Emmett Barnes! That sonofabitch used to be a union man—not to mention Jimmy’s best friend—and now he was a hired gun for the Farleymen! He watched Emmett shoot his rifle into the air a few times, and his shots were answered by rooftop union men protecting the strikers on the ground. He couldn't see Emmett's face too well, but he bet his ex-friend wasn't happy, especially since his shots hadn't stopped the crowd from swarming around his car. Jimmy wasn't part of that crowd; he couldn't make himself move—like he was paralyzed or something—as he watched it all unfold.

A brick sailed through the air and hit Emmett in the face; he dropped down, and Jimmy couldn't see him anymore. He glanced to his left and saw a man taking photographs of everybody. "Quit takin’ pictures!” Jimmy yelled at him. “Get out of the way—you're gonna get hurt!"

More and more people began pushing Jimmy from behind, determined to stop the cars from running. He turned back to Emmett's car and saw ... and saw the rifle pointed toward the crowd from another angle. No, pointed right at him. Emmett? It couldn’t be. He wouldn't do that, would he? He wouldn't—

Jimmy Walsh started to put his head down like his ma had told him, but he wasn't fast enough. He heard the crack of the rifle and felt the thump of the bullet hitting his skull. Then he felt nothing at all.

Chapter Two

A Tainted Case

San Francisco
June 1907

A barrister’s duty is to champion his client and seek justice in a court of law; when the client is guilty as sin, it complicates matters.

Jonathan Henry Perris rose to give his closing argument in the matter of the state of California vs. Horace Baxter. He faced the twelve men sitting in judgment before him.

“Gentlemen of the jury, you have already heard the facts of the case. My client, unfortunately, did shift money in relatively small amounts, from his firm’s accounts payable to his own savings account, over the course of several months. Those deposits did indeed line up chronologically with the amounts later deemed missing from the company’s ledger. It’s notable that Mr. Baxter, being the mathematical expert that he is, was precise in his recording, which speaks to his intent, as you shall see.

“That is the ‘what’ of this case and we shall stipulate that for the record. But the ‘why’ of Mr. Baxter’s actions is crucial and so, if you will indulge me, I would like to frame it within the context of the world in which each of us lives … a world comprised of three lives: one public, one private, and one secret.”

The prosecuting attorney looked comically befuddled. “Objection. What relevance does this have to the case before the court, Your Honor? Who cares why the defendant broke the law? The fact is, he broke it.”

Judge Cormer cocked his head toward Jonathan. “Mr. Perris?”

“I believe motive has much bearing on this case, your Honor. I will make my point as succinctly as possible, but you will see the relevance, I assure you.”

The judge scratched his beard. “Overruled, then. Proceed, Mr. Perris but do make it succinct.”

Jonathan turned back to his audience. “For example, I have come to know the public lives of many of you sitting here today. You are, generally speaking—” he said this with the hint of a smile, “— a reputable lot: a banker, a woolens merchant, a sheep rancher, to name a few. I too have a public persona. I am an immigrant, of course, but a respectable one, I hope. I am a trial attorney—what we would call a ‘barrister’ in England.” He extended his arms as if to display himself to the jury. He was wearing an impeccably tailored gray wool suit. “I bathe, I shave, and I dress suitably for my profession.

“But, like you, I also have a private life. I am not married and those who visit my abode might notice the lack of a woman’s touch.” He kept his rueful smile in place. “I indulge in perhaps more than the occasional whiskey, and I keep erratic hours because, unlike many of you, I have no one waiting for me.”

His tone began to harden. “Were I a fly on the wall in your homes, what would I witness, I wonder? Perhaps a perfect illustration of domestic bliss ...” He leveled his gaze on specific members as he spoke. “… or perhaps not. My guess is that one or more of you enjoy your own favorite spirits to help you relax after a long day. Perhaps you drink too much, and your better half doesn’t like it. Maybe you get a thrill out of playing the ponies and you become despondent when you lose more money than you can afford. Maybe your temper runs hot, and your colleagues, not to mention your family members, have borne the brunt of it.”

Some individuals were becoming restive; a few looked decidedly uncomfortable, no doubt wondering where Jonathan was headed.

Certainly, Jonathan’s legal counterpart wondered. “Really, Your Honor? Is any of this relevant in the slightest to the matter at hand?”

Jonathan caught Judge Cormer’s warning look and forged ahead. “Ah, but then there is the secret life that many if not all of us lead.” His voice dropped. “Perhaps you find pleasure with those you shouldn’t be seen with ... maybe an addiction has you in its grip. Or perhaps you’ve done something so nefarious and so perverse that no one, no one must ever learn about it.” He leaned toward the jury box. “What if I, for example, were a murderer? What if one of you were? None of us would ever know it because it’s a secret.” Jonathan let the last word linger.

“My client, Horace Baxter, led three lives, too. To the public he was an experienced adjustor for a respected insurance firm, in charge of determining the amount of payout for a given claim and reimbursing clients for their loss. His private life was relatively tame, with a harried wife and three boisterous young children, whom he adores.”

Jonathan now grew animated, as if to let the jurors in on salacious gossip. “But his secret life involved a woman. Not in the sense you would imagine. Not a voluptuous siren who would turn the head of any man. No, gentlemen. She was his much younger sister, a dear sweet girl, naïve in the ways of the world, whom he had protected his entire life. She had been led astray and become, of all things, an opium eater. She was not married and could not hold a job. The only way to pay for her habit was to prostitute herself.”

Jonathan glanced at his client. Horace Baxter was a hefty, florid man who was now slumped and staring at the table in front of him: a man mortified beyond the pale.

Days before, Jonathan had railed against the man who had lied to him and professed his innocence until discovery had proved him guilty on all counts. Only then had he explained his true reason for “cooking” the company books.

Jonathan sorely regretted taking the case, which he had done at the request of a colleague to whom he owed a favor. He wanted to believe he’d ignored his own instincts about the defendant, but in truth, he hadn’t picked up any warning signs until it was too late. He should have known better.

“You have ruined any chance for me to establish reasonable doubt,” he’d admonished his client. “For God’s sake, man, with so much on the line, you don’t keep such a secret from your attorney!” Jonathan had advised Baxter to throw himself on the mercy of the court by exposing all, but adhering to such a strategy didn’t make it any easier to stomach.

Jonathan now continued his argument. “Imagine yourself in Mr. Baxter’s shoes, gentlemen. Someone immeasurably close to you follows the wrong path and no matter how much you entreat them, harangue them, threaten them, cajole them, you cannot break the chain of dependence, a chain that has brought shame to your family—secretly—but at any moment could become public knowledge and lead to societal rejection and possibly the loss of your employment, resulting in economic ruin for you and your loved ones. It’s a conundrum, is it not?”

He singled out the banker, who flinched slightly under Jonathan’s gaze. “You have one recourse left, which is to find a discreet sanitarium where your beloved little sister can get help. Such a place costs money that you do not have. So, you devise a plan to obtain that money knowing in your heart that it’s wrong to embezzle but rationalizing that it’s a small amount compared to the company’s vast book of business, and that you will find a way, somehow, to pay it all back. You are so intent on doing that, moreover, that you keep precise records. Your plan is to, over time, replenish the account, claim a ‘slight miscalculation’ in the monies due and return those amounts to each client.

“The time comes when you have enough set aside to pay for the treatment, and you are about to send your sister away when a curious and astute co-worker finds something amiss.” Jonathan shrugged at the end of his tale. “And so you, like Mr. Baxter, might very well find yourself here today.

“I humbly ask you to consider the “why” of this case, gentlemen, in light of your own secrets, and show mercy on this man who did the wrong thing for the right reason. That is all.”

* * *

Ten days later, Jonathan returned to the central jail to have a final word with his client. Although Horace Baxter was found guilty, the jury had taken pity on him and recommended time served, along with a modest fine and of course, the return of the stolen monies. Baxter would have to find a new job, but at least he wouldn’t rot in a prison cell.

“You gonna break open the bubbly after getting your man out of jail?” The desk sergeant wanted to chat, but Jonathan was in no mood for it. He had a few parting words for his client and the sooner said the better. “That’s a capital idea, but I’m afraid more mundane duty calls. Have you got Mr. Baxter’s personal effects? I’ll take them to him.”

The sergeant handed Jonathan the bag and waved him through. “Well, don’t be modest. The state had him dead to rights, but you got him off light as a feather. You’re a silver-tongued devil, you are.”

Jonathan ignored the compliment as he made his way down the hall. “That’s not always a good thing,” he muttered.

Horace Baxter was pacing his cell, waiting to be let out, when Jonathan arrived, asking the guard if he could have a few moments of privacy with his client.

“Thank God this day has arrived,” Baxter said once the guard left. He donned his coat, buttoning it over his ample girth. “I’m ready.”

“Well, I’m not,” Jonathan said. “Sit down.”

“What?” Baxter frowned. “Is something wrong?”

Jonathan fought to keep his words—and his actions—under control. “You might say that. I’ve been in contact with your so-called sister.”

Baxter swallowed. “So … you’ve seen Franny? How … how did you—"

“Imagine my surprise when I called on your long-suffering wife to ask about your sister’s welfare, only to find out it’s her sister—sweet, young Francine— who’s taken to a life of prostitution because of her addiction. And when I found that not so sweet young girl, plying her trade on Stockton Street, it turns out she’s disappointed as hell that you aren’t going to get her the help she so desperately needs. So disappointed, in fact, that she let slip who was responsible for her predicament in the first place.”

The desperate look on Baxter’s face spoke volumes. “Wh—what did she say?”

“You know what she said. And you know the only reason she doesn’t share that information with her sister is that it would destroy your family.”

“You don’t understand. I mean ... how tempting it was. I … I couldn’t help myself.” He hung his head, apparently bewildered by his own fall from grace.

“You couldn’t keep your pants buttoned around your wife’s sister—a member of your own family? And you did nothing when she began to escape her guilt through opiates?” Jonathan’s disgust was palpable. “You are a pathetic excuse for a human being, Mr. Baxter. You are the worst kind of bounder because you’re self-indulgent and you’re weak. The only reason I’m not exposing you is the same reason Francine suffers in silence.” Jonathan leaned in and lowered his voice. “But heed my words: if you go near that young woman again, I will personally see to it that you pay the price—and believe me, that price is much too high, even for a mathematical charlatan like you.”

“What’s going to happen to her?” Baxter whispered.

Jonathan rose to his full height. “That is no longer your concern. You focus on keeping your family fed, within the boundaries of the law.”

The two men said nothing more as Jonathan escorted Baxter out of the jail and into a waiting hansom cab.

Good riddance.

It was nearly noon and given his frame of mind, returning to his law office held no appeal. Jonathan considered inviting the woman he’d been seeing to an impromptu lunch, but quickly tabled the idea. Not only was Lena difficult to reach, but in truth he was in no mood to be sociable. Instead, he headed to a nearby watering hole and ordered one of the whiskeys he’d told the jury about. He thought about Francine and what she must have been like before she was betrayed by a brother-in-law she had no doubt looked up to and trusted. Tomorrow he’d find a way to help the young prostitute conquer her demons, but right now, more than anything, he needed to mask the bitter taste of setting a guilty man free.

***

Excerpt from The Twisted Road by A.B. Michaels. Copyright 2024 by A.B. Michaels. Reproduced with permission from A.B. Michaels. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

A.B. Michaels

A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing the kind of page-turning fiction she loves to read. She writes historical fiction (“The Golden City” series, which takes place in Gilded Age San Francisco) as well as contemporary romantic suspense (“Sinner’s Grove Suspense.”). “Barrister Perris Mysteries” is her latest endeavor, based on characters introduced in “The Golden City.” All of her books are stand-alone reads.

Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two elderly, four-legged “sons” (16 and 17!) who don’t seem to know they’re just dogs. She is an avid reader, traveler, quilter and bocce player, as well as a mediocre but enthusiastic golfer.

Catch Up With A.B. Michaels:
ABMichaels.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @ABMichaels
Pinterest - @ABMichaelsBooks
Twitter/X - @ABMichaelsBooks
Facebook - @A.B.MichaelsWriter

 

 

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Friday, May 24, 2024

Texas Forsaken by Sherry Shindelar (Lone Star Redemption #1) -Christian Historical Romance Review

Texas Forsaken JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Texas Forsaken by Sherry Shindelar, 

hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Texas Forsaken

Title: Texas Forsaken
Series:
Lone Star Redemption #1
Author: Sherry Shindelar
Publisher:
Wild Heart Books
Release Date:
May 21, 2024
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

The man who destroyed her life may be the only one who can save it. 

Seven years ago, Maggie Logan (Eyes-Like-Sky) lost everything she knew when a raid on a wagon train tore her from her family. As the memories of her past faded to nothing more than vague shadows, Maggie adapted, marrying a Comanche warrior, having a baby, and rebuilding her life. But in one terrible battle, the U.S. Cavalry destroys that life and she is taken captive again, this time by those who call themselves her people. Forced into a world she wants nothing to do with, Eyes-Like-Sky’s only hope at protecting her child may be an engagement to the man who killed her husband. 

Enrolled in West Point to escape his overbearing father, Captain Garret Ramsey finds himself assigned to the Texas frontier, witnessing the brutal Indian War in which both sides commit atrocities. Plagued by guilt for his own role, Garret seeks redemption by taking responsibility for the woman he widowed and her baby. Though he is determined to do whatever it takes to protect them, is he willing to risk everything for a woman whose heart is buried in a grave?  

My Review

Texas Forsaken by Sherry Shindelar is the first book in the Lone Star Redemption Series, set in 1860s Texas during the Indian wars and the onset of the Civil War. Maggie Logan, also known as Eyes-Like-Sky, was kidnapped by Comanche raiders as a child and raised among them. She falls in love with an Indian warrior, marries him, and has a daughter named Little Star. 

Garret, a cavalry captain, inadvertently kills Eyes-Like-Sky's warrior husband during a raid on the Comanche tribe. He is full of regret, and he vows to protect her and her child. Maggie struggles to let go of her Comanche past as she struggles with the turmoil and heartbreak. Despite the challenges, she remains resilient, with Garret showing unwavering patience and faith. 

As the characters' emotions unfold, romance blossoms between Garret and Sky within the harsh realities of Texas life. The novel skillfully intertwines themes of loyalty, promises, and overcoming past expectations. Garret's commitment to the well-being of Sky and Little Star, despite personal sacrifices, is admirable. The characters are well developed and the historical backdrop enhances the overall story. Sky's journey towards faith and strength resonates throughout with Garrett having a big part of this growth. The developing romance is portrayed tastefully, though it may contain mature themes suited for adult readers without being too graphic. 

Texas Forsaken offers an engaging and uplifting historical romance, leaving readers looking forward to the next installment in the series.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | BookBub


About the Author

Sherry Shindelar

Originally from Tennessee, Sherry Shindelar loves to take her readers into the past. She is an avid student of the Civil War and the Old West, and she is a romantic at heart. When she is not busy writing, she is an English professor working to pass on her love of writing to her students. Sherry is an award-winning writer: 2023 Genesis finalist, Maggie finalist, and Crown finalist. She currently resides in Minnesota with her husband of thirty-eight years. She has three grown children and three grandchildren.

Connect with Sherry at sherryshindelar.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of Texas Forsaken, and a Texas Bluebonnet mug!

Texas Forsaken JustRead Tours blog giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight May 21, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 28, 2024. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Flat Deception: A Roxberry Heirs novel By Paige Edwards-Romantic Suspense Review


 Book Synopsis

Lady Sophie Henderson has worked tirelessly to establish a breeding stable for racehorses on her family’s Scottish estate. But when her father cuts her funding, she’s desperate to find a way to achieve her life’s ambition. Selling precious heirloom jewels enables Sophie to care for her thoroughbreds, though it’s a temporary solution—and one that does not go unnoticed.

Zander Matthews is painfully aware of the role he played in Sophie’s loss of sponsorship. Now, he’s determined to use his hard-earned wealth to help her achieve her dreams. When Zander shocks Sophie with the offer of a business investment, it seems her aspirations are finally within reach. But the new partners discover that finding success will not be simple. There is a dark side to the posh British racing community, and Sophie and Zander have captured the attention of an enemy whose greed knows no bounds. Even as their partnership develops into something more, their happy ending is just beyond reach. Because in a world where people are willing to do anything to win, it’s impossible to know who to trust.



Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Covenant Communications (May 7, 2024)
  • Genre: Romantic Suspense
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1524426415
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****



My Review

Book two of the Roxberry Heirs series, Flat Deception, by Paige Edwards, delivers another outstanding Romantic Suspense novel that readers will be hooked on from beginning to end. 

The story follows Lady Sophie Henderson, the daughter of a marquess, who is a devoted horse enthusiast and faces setbacks in pursuing her dream of establishing a breeding stable due to her father's financial troubles. 

 Zander Matthews,(one of my favorite characters in the novel) is a long-time admirer who comes to help Sophie with his own resources. A partnership is formed while others want this new endeavor to fail and will take any measures to bring it to an end.

Readers are transported to the grandeur of Ascot, offering a glimpse into the world of nobility and horse racing, and showing both the glamour and the darker side, such as horse doping. 

 The book maintains a non-stop level of suspense and energy throughout, even in its quieter moments. The love story is portrayed as a tender and genuine romance between Sophie and Zander. Edwards' is such a skillful storyteller and keeps readers engrossed from start to finish. Flat Deception is a must-add to your summer reading list.




****Meet Author Paige Edwards****


Paige Edwards is a Reader’s Favorite Book Award recipient and a two-time Swoony Award Winner. She is also a Forward INDIES Book of the Year finalist, a Carol Award, Silver Falchion, RONE, and a three-time Whitney Awards finalist of inspirational romantic suspense novels. She holds a degree in interior design and has worked professionally in that field. Due to her strong British roots, Paige’s books are often set in the UK, and she hops the pond whenever she gets the chance. She is styled the Lady Paige Edwards when in Scotland, but her favorite title is Grandma. When she needs a break from writing, she serves as president of her area’s Interfaith Community Council, is fond of digging in the dirt (what some might call gardening), biking battlefields, and kayaking the lake. Paige is a member of ACFW and loves to connect with her readers. You can find her @authorpaigeedwards.com or follow her on BookBub, AMAZON, Goodreads, and Instagram.




~*~*~*~*Purchase Flat Deception~*~*~*~*

HERE:

Paperback-https://amzn.to/3yp7ZR0

Kindle-https://amzn.to/3WTjURy

Monday, May 20, 2024

Love Overboard: A Novel By Shannon Sue Dunlap-Romantic Comedy Book Review

Love Overboard JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Love Overboard by Shannon Sue Dunlap, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Love Overboard

Title: Love Overboard
Series:
Love Overboard #1
Author:
Shannon Sue Dunlap
Publisher:
Kregel Publications
Release Date:
May 21, 2024
Genre: Christian Romcom


****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****

A snort-laughing, cruise ship romance takes readers into topsy-turvy waters 

When a group of four quirky friends retire on a neverending round of cruises, their attire consists of more than floral shirts and gaudy skirts. Armed with walkie-talkies and battle plans, these relationship experts--who've dubbed themselves the "Shippers"--target hostess Lacey Anderson and director Jonathan King in their romantic schemes. But the young couple refuses to cooperate. They've been on the "love boat" together before, and it went down in flames. 

Boss matchmaker Emily Windsor has orchestrated multiple romantic successes, and these two upstarts certainly won't get the best of her. The chemistry between Lacey and Jonathan is obvious, but the couple rebuffs every outlandish plot and "coincidental" meeting, forcing the matchmakers to chart a new course to true love--all while inadvertently thwarting drug smugglers threatening to ruin their floating home on the ocean. 

This laugh-out-loud rom-com features loveable characters, over-the-top situations reminiscent of 1950s sitcoms, and a dash of mystery. The toe-curling romance will push the reader overboard and all in with Shannon Dunlap's new series.



My Review

Love Overboard tells the story of a lively group of older women, known as "The Shippers," who live on a cruise ship and dabble in matchmaking in the pursuit of love. The Shippers are led by the assertive Emily, and the group includes the sociable Althea, the always serious Gerry, and the elegant and pampered Daisy. Together, they plot to rekindle the romance between ship hostess Lacy and ship director Jonathan King, despite Lacy having relegated Jon to the friend zone. 

Alongside the love story a mystery unfolds involving drug smuggling on the ship, with Jon at the center of the investigation. The revelation of the culprit's identity is surprising, yet ties things together seamlessly. 

Love Overboard is full of humor, with The Shippers' plans often going hilariously wrong. Emily, in particular, stands out and quickly became a favorite of mine. 

Love Overboard presents a romantic comedy with laughter, unresolved love, forgiveness, and an intriguing mystery, making it a delightful read for those looking for a good romance and a lot of laughter.


PURCHASE LINKS: 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook

Bookshop | BookBub


About the Author

Shannon Sue Dunlap

Shannon Sue Dunlap writes books with a dose of laughter and a spoonful of love. One of the greatest compliments you can give her is saying her stories made you laugh-out-loud. She loves traveling around the world, singing tunes from classic musicals, and drinking Dr. Pepper. Shannon is a die-hard fan of happy endings and believes God has designed one for each of us.

Connect with Shannon at shannonsuedunlap.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win a signed copy of Love Overboard plus character-themed items for each matchmaker!

Love Overboard JustRead Tours blog giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight May 20, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 27, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Friday, May 17, 2024

The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall: Proper Romance By Rebecca Anderson-Historical Gothic Romance


 Book Synopsis

A ghostly estate. A handsome caretaker hiding a secret. And the intrepid Hyacinth Bell who is set on solving the mystery of both.

1887, the Cornwall coast

For years, rumors have flown through the village of Suttonsbury about Ashthorne Hall—that its occupants hoard pirate treasure, that a ghost walks its halls—but botanist Hyacinth Bell only cares about the estate’s extensive, one-of-a-kind orchid collection. As an independent woman, she is eager to focus on her career, even if it means waiting to pursue a romantic relationship. After all, love—like an orchid—must be nurtured and tended before it can bloom.

What she doesn’t expect is to be swept away by Lucas Harding, the manor’s caretaker, upon their first meeting. He is handsome and charming, and the connection between the two is nearly instantaneous. Hyacinth is certain this autumn will be the season that everything good in her life takes root.

But then strange things start happening in the seemingly empty halls of the estate: unexplainable noises, items appearing then disappearing from her room, threatening messages, and glimpses of a woman in white who vanishes into the dark. Lucas dismisses Hyacinth’s worries, insisting that there is no ghost at Ashthorne Hall, but she suspects he is withholding information and decides to investigate the mystery herself.

Armed with little more than her instincts and her courage, Hyacinth must venture deep into the shadows of Ashthorne Hall to uncover the truth Lucas is keeping secret before she herself falls victim to the dangers hidden in the estate.

Book Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Shadow Mountain (April 2, 2024)
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Series: Proper Romance
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1639932356
  • ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****



My Review

 The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall is set in 1887 along the Cornwall Coast. This book is a surprising Proper Romance with its mysterious and haunting atmosphere. It offers a refreshing change as the main characters are not from the nobility. Hyacinth Bell and Lucas Harding both work at Ashthorne Hall, located on the estate of the Whitbeck family, who are living in India. Hyacinth, a botanist, is tasked with caring for Mr. Whitbeck's prized orchid collection, while Lucas serves as the manor's caretaker.

 The mystery at Ashthorne Hall begins with peculiar events within the house and its surroundings. Hyacinth suspects the presence of ghosts haunting the hallways, adding a Gothic feeling. Her investigation of the ghost was heart-thumping at times. 

As far as the romance, there was an immediate attraction that sparked between Lucas and Hyacinth, leading to a thrilling and unexpected first kiss. I wish there had been more interaction and development of their romance, especially since they had excellent chemistry. 

As Hyacinth discovers surprising information about her mysterious ghost, the story becomes even more gripping.

Including discussion questions by the author truly improves the reading experience for book clubs or buddy reads.

Readers who are fans of Jane Eyre and enjoy mysteries set in eerie locations will find this clean romance with a chilling atmosphere and a hint of romance, very appealing.


****Meet Author Rebecca Anderson****


 Rebecca Anderson is a High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

~*~*~*~*Purchase The Orchids of~*~*~*~*

Ashthorne Hall

HERE:

Paperback-https://amzn.to/4brjd5X

Kindle-https://amzn.to/4bo6iBO

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Hidden Rooms By Kate Michaelson-Mystery Book Review

Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson Banner

Hidden Rooms

by Kate Michaelson

April 22 - May 17, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Book Synopsis:

Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson

When murder hits home.

 A Quiet little life. A perfect little lie.

Long distance runner Riley has been fighting various bewildering symptoms for months, from vertigo to fainting spells. Worse, her doctors can’t tell her what’s wrong, leaving her to wonder if it’s stress or something more threatening. But when her brother’s fiancée is killed—and he becomes the prime suspect—Riley must prove his innocence, despite the toll on her health.

As she reacquaints herself with the familiar houses and wild woods of her childhood, the secrets she uncovers take her on a trail to the real killer that leads right back to the very people she knows best and loves most.

For readers who enjoy Deer Season by Erin Flanagan, All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers, and A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham.

Praise for Hidden Rooms:

"With a fresh voice and gorgeous writing, Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson is a stunning debut mystery that sweeps the reader along until the surprising conclusion."
~ Connie Berry, USA Today bestselling author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

"This remarkable debut novel expertly combines a compelling mystery with a richly drawn cast of characters and a strong, beautifully portrayed sense of place. An engaging, gripping read."
~ Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Shamus, Derringer, and International Thriller Writers award-nominated author

"Michaelson’s witty eye, sharp portrayal of illness, and twisty case make for a standout debut!"
~ Erin Flanagan, Edgar-Award winning author of Come with Me

"Hidden Rooms is a suspenseful tale full of interesting characters. This well-told story with its unexpected ending will leave the readers begging for more."
~ L. C. Hayden, award-winning author of the Bronson Thriller Series and the Aimee Brent Mystery Series

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: April 30, 2024
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780744310153 (ISBN10: 0744310156)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | CamCat Books

 ****I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, NetGalley, book tours, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.****


My Review

Kate Michaelson's debut novel, Hidden Rooms, unfolds in a small rural community in Northern Ohio, narrated through the eyes of main character Riley. The story digs into secrets, family dynamics, addiction, and a mysterious illness that afflicts Riley. 

The story kicks off with the murder of Riley's best friend and her brother Ethan's fiancée, Beth. Naturally, Ethan becomes the prime suspect, motivating Riley and her sister Audra to take on the role of amateur sleuths to uncover the truth behind Beth's death. 

The plot thickens with many potential suspects and motives, leading to unexpected revelations that will keep readers on edge. 

The novel also explores Riley's perplexing illness and shows a realistic portrayal of chronic illness and how it can change someone's life.  

Hidden Rooms concludes with a surprising revelation of the murderer, tying up loose ends and delivering an intriguing conclusion. Hidden Rooms is full of suspense and surprising twists, and this novel offers a fascinating and engaging read.

Read an excerpt:

I grew up inside a lightning bolt, in a family of pure momentum. My siblings and I were young, stupid, and fearless in our white gingerbread house, surrounded by dark earth, green shoots, and wild woods—untamed beasts running loose from morning to night. We snarled and bucked, more a pack than a family.

Born less than a year apart, my brother Ethan and I spent most of our lives scrapping after the same few things, pinching each other where we knew it would hurt the most. But we also protected each other. When Trevor Paltree shoved Ethan off the tall metal slide the first day of preschool, I kicked Trevor’s little ass, and I’d do it again.

Only, now, I didn’t know what protecting my brother looked like, though I felt fairly certain that kicking his fiancée’s ass was not it. Besides, I couldn’t even say what exactly Beth was up to, which (admittedly) undermined my argument. Putting my head down and going along with the wedding might feel cowardly, but it also seemed like the least destructive path forward.

So, that’s how I found myself pulling up to Ethan and Beth’s house to pick up my puce monstrosity of a bridesmaid’s dress with Beth’s recent words still replaying in my mind: Riley, you know I’d never do anything to hurt Ethan. The problem was that she also once said with a wink and a smile that what Ethan didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. I parked in the shade of a lowlimbed oak and got out, lifting my hair off my neck to catch the breeze. The autumn sun had built throughout the afternoon into the kind of fleetingly gorgeous day that makes up for Ohio’s multitude of weather sins: one last warm postscript to summer. Rain loomed in the low shelf of clouds to the north. I crossed my fingers that it would hold off until I could get home to walk Bruno. Maybe I could even get a run in if my energy held out.

My phone buzzed, and I knew without looking it would be Audra. She called most days and knew that just the previous night, I’d finally worked up the nerve to have a conversation with Ethan about Beth. She would want the details. I was amazed she had waited this long.

“How’d it go with Ethan?” Her melodious voice skipped along briskly. People usually went with what she said simply because they were so swept up with how she said it. As her sister, I was an exception.

“Hello to you too.” I continued toward the house but slowed my pace. “I’ll give you one guess how it went.”

“Hello, dearest Riley. I guess he got mad.”

“Not just mad. He guilt-tripped me. I asked him if he’d noticed anything wrong with Beth, and he acted all injured about it. He told me, ‘She thinks you’re her friend.’” I mimicked Ethan’s self-righteous tone. The jab still stung. “I told him I think of her as a friend too, which is how I know she’s hiding something.” Granted, I couldn’t untangle what it was. It was something I sensed more than saw—a shift in posture or flicker behind an expression. The past few weeks she’d become more self-contained than ever, which was saying something for her.

“Yeah, but can you really be friends with someone who has no personality? It’s like being friends with a mannequin. I don’t know how you can tell if she’s hiding something when she never shares anything—”

“Look, I can’t talk about it now.” I lowered my voice as I neared the house. “I’m at their place getting my dress. I’ll call you later.”

I climbed the porch steps, the front of their house looking so Instagram-perfect that I wondered whether I’d been seeing problems that weren’t there. The afternoon light slanted across the pumpkins and yellow chrysanthemums that Beth had arranged just so. Dried bundles of corn rattled in the breeze. Beneath the pale-blue porch swing, Beth had set out a matching ceramic bowl full of kibble for Bibbs, the half-feral cat that had adopted her and Ethan.

The only thing amiss was the open door of the old-fashioned cast-iron mailbox nestled amid the pumpkins and flowers. Beth would kill the mail carrier for ruining the ambiance. I grabbed the few pieces of mail in the box and shut the little door obligingly, like a good future sister-in-law.

Careful not to disturb a precarious wreath of orange berries, I knocked on the screen door and tapped my foot, ready to grab my puffy dress and go. I had been a whirl of motion all day, zipping through work and crossing items off my to-do list. I worked for Wicks, an oversized candle company that sold overpriced candles. Today was my last day in the office before a trip to England to set up the IT network at our new British headquarters.

For months, I’d been fighting some kind of long-term bug my doctors couldn’t figure out, but today I felt a glimmer of my former self, twitchy with energy and moving at a clip to get everything done.

***

Excerpt from Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson. Copyright 2024 by Kate Michaelson. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Kate Michaelson

Growing up in rural Ohio, Kate Michaelson simultaneously developed a love of nature and a strong desire to live closer to a mall. Pursuing the latter, she attended Ohio State, where she studied English and Psychology. After earning her MFA in Creative Writing, Kate worked as a technical writer and taught English at St. Petersburg College in Florida and, later, at the University of Toledo in Ohio. Over the years, she has published academic articles, creative nonfiction, poetry, and short stories. Her debut novel, Hidden Rooms, follows a distance runner who returns to her rural Ohio hometown and must clear her brother of murdering his fiancée while also seeking answers to her own medical mystery. As someone with Lyme disease and dysautonomia, Kate’s writing uses humor and suspense to explore the experience of coping with chronic illness. Ultimately, she wants to portray the reality of the challenges that invisible disabilities pose while also demonstrating that “ability” is not a binary concept—that illness does not equal a loss of self or agency.

Kate enjoys traveling, hiking, and trying (fruitlessly) to tire out her Labrador mix. She works in curriculum design and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She lives with her husband and pets in Toledo, Ohio, only ten minutes from a mall she now avoids whenever possible.

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