Book Recommendation ~ The Peppercorn Project by Nicki Edwards

The Peppercorn Project

Book Description:

One heartbroken woman. One bitter cop. One community to save them.

After the tragic death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy is bereft and broke. When she hears about The Peppercorn Project – a scheme that offers affordable rent in the tiny but vibrant town of Stony Creek – Issie sees it as her family’s best chance at a fresh start.

Newly single police officer Matt Robertson moved to Stony Creek to lick his wounds after a bitter divorce. Wanting only peace and quiet, Matt is against the Project, seeing it as a threat to the peace he’s found in the country town – until he meets Issie. Despite himself, Matt is drawn to the widow and feels inexplicably protective of her fragile family.

Just when Issie begins to imagine a future with Matt, an accident proves how far she has to go before she can move beyond her grief. But the citizens of Stony Creek won’t rest until they see these two broken souls find a new beginning, together.

Can Issie move beyond the pain of her past and entrust Matt with her family, and her heart?

Narelle’s thoughts:

I loved The Peppercorn Project and I read it in one sitting. The characters are well developed and the emotional depth drew me into Issie and Matt’s story world. I will confess I’m not usually a big fan of the grieving widow romance trope. One reason being the heroine is distracted by her amazing late husband and it can detract from the developing romance with the hero in the story. How can the hero compete with the amazing dead husband?

What drew me into this story was the way the author handled the emotional fallout from losing a loving life partner in tragic circumstances. The story opens with the prologue and we experience in real time Issie’s very painful loss, the roller coaster of emotions, and the consequences for her young family. Issie’s need to stand on her own two feet and establish a new life for her children leads her to the small town of Stony Creek.

Issie and her children are interviewed by a committee of townsfolk for a coveted peppercorn lease. The idea is to provide people with an affordable home for a year to help them get back on their feet financially in a supportive small town community. Issie is desperate for a financial break and willing to move from coastal Torquay near Melbourne to a small town in the South Australian Flinders Ranges to put a roof over their heads.

Matt is a city cop who moved to Stony Creek when his marriage fell apart. Burned by his experiences with his ex-wife, he’s a confirmed bachelor and resisting the efforts by well-meaning town matchmakers to find him a new wife. He’s intrigued by Issie and drawn to her despite his reservations concerning the wisdom of the peppercorn project concept.

The minor characters add flavour and colour to the story, and an authenticity to the idyllic rural romance setting. Matt is a cynical city cop who knows it’s only a matter of time until the Stony Creek community will have to face the challenges of the illegal drug trade. A subplot relating to the ice (methamphetamine) epidemic that’s facing many Australian small towns was realistic and well handled. Issie is a nurse and we journey with her as she faces many professional challenges in a medical context.

The romance between Issie and Matt was centre stage and their emotional journey to love was full of obstacles and baggage from the past. A loving intimate scene between Issie and Matt toward the end of the book was beautifully written and contained emotional rather than physical descriptions that will pull at the reader’s heartstrings. The perfect happy ending for two people who had grown to love each other, and Issie’s adorable children, during the story.

I highly recommend The Peppercorn Project to romance readers who enjoy sweet medical romances set in small town rural Australia.

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a complimentary advanced reader copy of the book.

To learn more about Nicki Edwards and her books, please visit her website.

ACFW New Releases: May 2016

Source: ACFW New Releases: May 2016

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Amish Firefighter by Laura Hilton — Banished from home and blamed for a barn fire at her new residence, Abigail Stutzman is desperate to prove her innocence. But God doesn’t seem willing to help. Volunteer firefighter Sam Miller is determined to atone for his past. When local barn fires escalate, everyone suspects arson. And since the Miller family are among the victims, Sam means to see the perpetrators are brought to justice. When Abigail and Sam meet at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warmth of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or extinguish. And they’ll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno. (Amish Romance from Whitaker House)

Biblical Fiction:

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar — Before Christ called her daughter . . .Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left. No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul? (Biblical from Tyndale House)

Contemporary Romance:

Kiss the Bride Novella Collection by Robin Lee Hatcher, Melissa McClone, and Kathryn Springer — Picture Perfect Love by Melissa McClone: Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away, but he wrongly blamed wedding photographer Jenna Harrison for ruining his political aspirations. Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love? I Hope You Dance by Robin Lee Hatcher: Groomsman Grant Nichols and former rodeo queen Skye Foster are no match on paper. But when the male kitchen genius and the rodeo queen-turned-dance-tutor step onto the dance floor, they create a melody all their own. Love on a Deadline by Kathryn Springer MacKenzie: Newspaper social events writer “Mac” Davis is charged with covering the celebrity wedding of her high school nemesis. The only highlight of the job is spending time with Ethan Channing, the bride’s older brother—and Mac’s first crush. (Contemporary Romance from Zondervan)

An Informal Introduction by Heather Gray — An ICU nurse and a state trooper find their lives crossing paths professionally and personally. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Cowboy’s Twins by Deb Kastner — Hardened cowboy Jax McKenna finds twin girls on his doorstep, and only new-to-the-area Faith Duggan, who needs horse-whispering Jax’s assistance with her new mustang rescue, can help make Jax the daddy he longs to be. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Rescue Me by Sandy Nadeau — First Responder Ronnie Spencer has a no-dating-firefighters rule. She lost her father to a fire, and won’t risk the heartbreak of losing someone else. But when Steve McNeal returns, Ronnie’s heart is tested. How can she swear off dating a firefighter when she has to work with the one man she used to love? When the unthinkable happens, Ronnie has doubts. How can a loving God allow tragedy to stalk her life again? As her faith wavers, Ronnie must decide. Will their blossoming relationship be quickly extinguished by the very thing she feared, or will Ronnie trust God and allow her heart to be rescued–even if that means giving it to a firefighter? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Falling for the Hometown Hero by Mindy Obenhaus — After returning home wounded from an IED attack, former soldier Kaleb Palmer is hailed as a hero. But survivor’s guilt makes him feel like a fraud. He hopes setting up a business in Ouray, Colorado, will give him a purpose and help him forget. But his new office manager has her own plans. Grace McAllen brings light and hope wherever she goes, and she’s getting Kaleb to open up. As she helps him make Mountain View Jeep Tours a success, Kaleb realizes a happy ending is in reach, if he can convince Grace to stay in town–and his life–forever. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her One and Only by Becky Wade — When NFL super star Gray Fowler is threatened by a stalker, his team hires a professional bodyguard to ensure his safety. But when Gray’s “protection” turns out to be a woman half his size, he’s indignant. Will Dru Porter–a former Marine and expert markswoman–prove herself worthy of the job? And meanwhile, who’s going to guard Gray’s heart? (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance:

Sofi’s Bridge by Christine Lindsay — Can Sofi trust Neil, whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions, and can Neil, the gardener, continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin — For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch and Lillian work together on the investigation, but can he ever earn her trust and affection? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

His Prairie Sweetheart by Erica Vetsch — After being jilted at the altar, Southern belle Savannah Cox seeks a fresh start out West and accepts a teaching position in Minnesota. But between her students’ lack of English, the rough surroundings and sheriff Elias Parker’s doubts and distrust, Savannah’s unprepared for both the job and the climate. However, she’s determined to prove she can handle anything her new town throws her way. Elias gives it a week–or less–before the pretty schoolteacher packs her dainty dresses and hightails it back home. But no matter how many mishaps he has to rescue her from, Savannah doesn’t give up. Yet the real test is to come–a brutal blizzard that could finally drive her away, taking his heart with her… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Murder Comes by Mail by A. H. Gabhart — Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane must desperately try to protect those he loves when a serial killer threatens all he holds dear in Hidden Springs. (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

The Progeny by Tosca Lee — Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a killer. Now, she’s become the hunted in a 400-year-old war between the offspring of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her posterity. She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders–one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save. (Supernatural Thriller from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Medical Judgment by Richard L Mabry, MD — Someone is after Dr. Sarah Gordon. They’ve stalked her, then set a fire at her home, and she has no idea what will come next. Her late husband’s best friend and a recovering alcoholic detective are trying to solve the mystery before it’s too late, but both appear to be vying for her affection as well. Sarah finds herself in constant fear as the process plays out. The questions keep mounting. Who is doing this? Why are they after her? What will they do to her? Will it mean her death? And, meanwhile, whom can she trust? (Medical Thriller from Abingdon Press)

Romantic Suspense:

Sins of the Past by Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson, and Dani Pettrey — In Dee Henderson’s “Missing,” a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident and begin a race against the clock. In Dani Pettrey’s “Shadowed,” adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector. Lynette Eason’s “Blackout” delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found–but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Medusa’s Hands by Monica Mynk — When Megan’s friend goes missing, she has to team up with her alcoholic stepbrother to save her from a human trafficking scheme. (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction:

Home to Chapel Springs by Ane Mulligan — Trouble comes to Chapel Springs in the form of a homeless author, a heartbroken daughter, and a theatre ghost. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

All About Mercie by Sharon Srock — Scottlyn Rich is sixty-seven days from her wedding to Grant Weber, but she feels more orphaned and adrift than ever. Until her mother walks through the door. Grant Weber has spent two years earning Scottlyn’s trust and can’t believe how easily she accepts her mom’s excuses. There’s something off about Jocelyn Rich and he’s determined to find answers even if it costs him everything. Will Scottlyn allow deception to derail her future, or will she take hold of wisdom and realize that her life truly is all about Mercie? (Women’s Fiction from A Blonde and a Prayer Books)

The Mercie Collection by Sharon Srock — The Mercie Collection is three novellas in one. For Mercie’s Sake: A teenage victim of rape is disowned by her family when she refuses to abort the child she carries. Determined to raise her baby, she finds refuge with a widowed school teacher harboring sorrows of her own. Begging for Mercie: College student Scottlyn Rich is about to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday when she receives news that the young man who raped her has died in prison. His grieving mother wants custody of Scottlyn’s child. Can God find a way to bring peace to both women, or will someone end up begging for Mercie? All About Mercie: Scottlyn Rich is weeks away from her wedding to Grant Weber, but she feels more orphaned and adrift than ever. Until her mother walks through the door. Grant Weber has spent two years earning Scottlyn’s trust and can’t believe how easily she accepts her mom’s excuses. He’s determined to find answers even if it costs him everything. Will Scottlyn allow deception to derail her future, or will she take hold of wisdom and realize that her life truly is all about Mercie? (Women’s Fiction from A Blonde and a Prayer Books)

ACRBA Tour Glimpses of Light

2 – 6 May

is introducing

Glimpses of Light

(By the Light Books, 15 December 2015)

Edited by  Jeanette O’Hagan and Nola L Passmore



 About the Book

Be challenged, captivated and moved by these imaginative reflections on faith, help in time of need, joy in the midst of tragedy, and surprising encounters with God.

During 2015, the International Year of Light, twenty-one authors from Australia and the United States have come together to explore the theme of ‘glimpses of light’—finding light in dark places—through short stories, poems, flash fiction and creative non-fiction.

Glimpses of Light includes contributions from respected and award-winning authors and poets Jo-Anne Berthelsen, Paula Vince, Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones, Jo Wanmer, Jeanette Grant-Thomson and Ellen Carr, as well as exciting new talent.

Profits from this anthology go to CBM Australia, giving sight to the blind.

 About the Authors


Jeanette O’Hagan enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in Tied in Pink romance anthology, Another Time Another Place, Poetica Christi’s Inner Child, Let the Sea Roar, Like a Girl.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master’s in writing. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.



Nola Passmore’s poetry, devotions, inspirational articles, and short fiction have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas. Although she’s a former academic with qualifications in creative writing, psychology, and Christian ministry; she’s found that you can never underestimate the power of friends and mentors in the writing journey.

With ringleader roles in Quirky Quills and the Toowoomba chapter of Omega Writers, she’ll be nagging (oops, encouraging) other writers for some time. She and her husband Tim have a freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish.