Book Recommendation – After the Rain by Brandy Bruce

Book Description:

Debra Hart is moving on. Maybe. Hopefully. One day.

As a radio show host, Debra spends her mornings as Miss Lonely Heart on air, empathizing with all the broken hearts in the Denver metro area. She spends her evenings watching old musicals and trying not to think about the guy who broke up with her and subsequently fell in love with one of her best friends. Alone in a new city, Debra questions where she belongs and who she is now.

When she stumbles into the indie music scene, Debra meets singer Ben Price. Rock star appeal, with a day job as a worship pastor, Ben is everything Debra wants to avoid. But he’s determined to be her friend, and it so happens she could really use one. Because try as she might, nothing seems to erase the anger and betrayal she feels.

It’s time for a new dream. But how does she start over when she doesn’t even know what she wants anymore?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

After the Rain is Brandy Bruce’s highly anticipated sequel to The Last Summer. A brilliant standalone novel that will tug on your heart strings and inspire you to cheer for Debra.

I do recommend reading The Last Summer first. The opening scene in After the Rain will hit you harder with more emotional impact if you’ve experienced what happened to Debra Hart in The Last Summer. From the opening line in After the Rain, you’ll immediately empathise with Debra and her situation.

After the Rain is Debra’s story, written in first person point of view. Life is unfair and Debra has learned this universal truth the hard way. She has left Texas behind and moved to Denver to start a new life. She was devastated by her recent breakup with her boyfriend, Luke. He dumped Debra and started dating Sara, her now ex-best friend. Luke and Sara’s betrayal cut deep, and Debra has a new wariness around people. She fears being hurt and rejected.

The difficult breakup precipitated a faith crisis in Debra’s life. She’s determined to protect her bruised and lonely heart from a God who she believes has abandoned her. Debra has walked away from God and the church. Her previous love for music and singing worship songs is dead. She’s not hearing the music anymore.

Debra is lonely and she misses hanging out with her perfect circle of close friends in Houston. She resents being the one who had to leave. Luke and Sara have won, and she’s left on her own to pick up the pieces.

Debra co-hosts a morning radio show in Denver, and her bitterness over the breakup leads her to create the radio persona ‘Miss Lonely Heart’. Debra takes calls from listeners with her co-host, Andy, and she dishes out relationship advice.

Paige is Debra’s one and only friend in Denver. At the start of the story, Paige convinces Debra to go out with her and her friends to see a local band.

Ben Price is the lead singer of the band and the worship pastor at Paige’s church. He was born to be a rock star. Debra is captivated by Ben’s performance on stage and she’s drawn to him, despite all of her emotional baggage. His incredible voice reaches out to Debra, touching that vulnerable place deep inside.

Ben has secrets of his own. We experience Debra’s intense emotional highs and lows as Ben challenges her to take risks and tear down the fortress around her heart.

A fun and compelling romance develops between Debra and Ben in the gorgeous Colorado mountain setting. Their relationship inspires both of them to question their priorities and chase their dreams. We journey with Debra on her roller coaster ride to overcoming her fears and opening her heart to faith and love and new adventures.

I loved reading After the Rain. I read it quickly because I had to keep turning the page to see what would happen next. I highly recommend After the Rain to readers who are looking for a fun and engaging romance with deep emotional layers that will challenge them to consider the big questions in life.

Many thanks to Brandy Bruce for providing an advanced reader copy.

After the Rain is available at Amazon Kindle.

Tuesday Book Chat – Australasian Christian Writers | 29th January 2019

Today I’m hosting the Tuesday Book Chat on the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) blog. Each Tuesday we discuss a bookish question of the week.

Our question for this week: Where is your favourite spot to read in the summer?

Stop by the ACW blog to join in the conversation.

https://australasianchristianwriters.com/tuesday-book-chat-4/

Tuesday Book Chat – Australasian Christian Writers | 22nd January 2019

Today I’m hosting the Tuesday Book Chat on the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) blog. Each Tuesday we discuss a bookish question of the week.

Our question for this week: Do you have a book budget? Do you stick to it?

Stop by the ACW blog to join in the conversation.

https://australasianchristianwriters.com/tuesday-book-chat-3/

ACFW New Releases: January 2019

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


Amish Romance:

Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston — Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis — Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Contemporary Romance:

Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron — Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)


Cozy Mystery:

Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman — Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)


Historical Romance:

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham — Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller — Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick — With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse— Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Devotion by Olivia Rae — Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

Book Recommendation – Can’t Live Without You by Ginger Solomon

Book Description:

Clarissa Harding’s upcoming marriage is a business arrangement. When he dies and his secret comes out, she’s hurt. When she finds out her best friend, Sawyer Chasin, knew his brother’s secret and didn’t tell her, she’s devastated. Feeling betrayed, she walks away from God, her family, Sawyer, and their newly-discovered love.

Sawyer Chasin hated keeping secrets from Clarissa, and now he may have lost the only person his heart wants. Recovering from the same car accident that killed his brother can wait. He needs to find her and make her understand the choice he had to make.

Love covers a multitude of sins, but betrayal stretches its boundaries. 

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Can’t Live Without You. The story has a plot twist that puts a different spin on the usual marriage of convenience romance trope where two families arrange a marriage for business reasons and financial gain.

Clarissa is saved from a fake marriage to the older brother of her best friend, Sawyer, for all the wrong reasons. She may have been spared the misery of marrying a man she doesn’t love and, at times, has struggled to like, but the new set of circumstances lead to big secrets being revealed.

Clarissa is devastated to discover that the people she’d trusted had deceived her. During the story she makes a few radical life changes as she struggles to overcome a truckload of past hurts.

Sawyer never wanted to see Clarissa marry his brother. Family loyalty drove his decision making, and those decisions create a wedge between himself and Clarissa. A wedge that seems impossible to overcome.

The story has a strong forgiveness theme, and both Clarissa and Sawyer are forced to deal with their own character flaws and past mistakes. Clarissa’s mentor in the story has a strong faith, and she encourages Clarissa to seek healing and let go of past hurts.

Read a FREE sample of Can’t Live Without You at Amazon Kindle.

Book Recommendation – Hope for Christmas by Elizabeth Maddrey

Book Description:

He wasn’t sure what he was looking for. She wasn’t looking for anything.

Cyan Hewitt drifts onto his estranged grandparents’ New Mexico ranch in time for Thanksgiving… and stays. As a cyber security consultant, he can telecommute, so why not from here, where his restless soul is soothed and his heart is awakened by the attractive ranch housekeeper?

Maria Sanchez works at Rancho de Esperanza to provide a stable life for her son. She’s content—mostly—in her roles as housekeeper, part-time student, and mom, but when her precocious seven-year-old is diagnosed with diabetes, her world shatters. There’s no time for distractions from the long-term visitor who’s stirring a longing in her for more.

Cyan may think her faith and courage are inspiring, but Maria feels vulnerable. Relying on others has only ever resulted in broken dreams. Christmas might be a season of hope, but does she dare risk everything for love?

Hope Ranch is a place where second chances and God’s love are waiting for everyone.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Hope for Christmas (Hope Ranch Book 1) is set on a ranch in New Mexico. Maria is a single mom who works as a housekeeper on a ranch owned by Cyan’s grandparents. Her faith is strong and her life circumstances provide many challenges in the story.

The story opens with Cyan at a beach on Whidbey Island, WA, with no real direction in his life and no idea of where he’d be driving later in the day. I have visited Whidbey Island, and totally understood why Cyan chose to park himself there and housesit a beach house.

Cyan talks with his sister, Azure, who encourages him to visit their long lost grandparents in New Mexico for Thanksgiving. At the beginning of the story Cyan has an open heart regarding Christianity. He’s curious, has questions, and is seeking answers. The story has a strong spiritual thread and powerful gospel message without being preachy. I enjoyed this aspect of the story.

Maria’s gorgeous son, Calvin, has a health issue that’s handled with care and sensitivity. I loved seeing Cyan and Calvin together, and the developing romance between Maria and Cyan is both charming and realistic. I understood why Maria was reluctant to put herself out there and take a risk on love. This is a story I’d recommend to readers who are exploring faith issues.

If you’ve read Elizabeth’s Peacock Hill series, you’ll know Cyan’s sister, Azure, from A Heart Realigned. I enjoyed reading Hope for Christmas, and I’m looking forward to reading more books in the Hope Ranch series.

Hope for Christmas is available at Amazon.

Book Recommendation – The Cowboy’s Christmas Reunion by Valerie Comer

Book Description:

Cowboy Santa: helping his ex-fiancée have a merry little Christmas…

When Kade Delgado joins his buddies in a Cowboy Santa program to shower Christmas blessings on old folks and single moms, he doesn’t expect his former fiancée to return to Saddle Springs, in need and with a child in tow. Does God really expect him to treat Cheri the same as the others on his new Christmas list?

Cheri Mackenzie has never forgiven herself for the pain she caused Kade by fleeing a week before their wedding, but undoing the past is impossible. Circumstances force her back to her aging grandparents’ Montana ranch, where Kade, now a widower with a toddler, is making himself cheerfully indispensable. When she receives kindness instead of the hostility she surely deserves, she can’t help but pray for a Christmas reunion with the cowboy she’s never stopped loving.Is there any hope for a second chance at love?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

The Cowboy’s Christmas Reunion is set in small town Montana. I’ve enjoyed Valerie’s rural romance series and I’m excited to see her writing a cowboy series.

Cheri made a poor decision six and a half years ago that led to a string of unintended and disastrous consequences. She has always regretted running away from Kade and disappearing from Saddle Springs a week before their wedding day.

Kade has never gotten over how Cheri, the woman he’d loved, had left him. Years later Kade is working on the family ranch with his brothers, and he’s now a widower with an adorable two-year-old son, Jericho.

Cheri is hiding secrets and her primary goal is to keep her sweet six-year-old daughter, Harmony, safe. Cheri’s return to Saddle Springs has Kade doing the math and coming up with an answer that’s not palatable. Cheri is only staying in Saddle Springs for a short time to help out her elderly grandparents who live on their rundown family ranch.

A snowstorm unexpectedly throws Kade and Cheri together, and starts them on an emotional roller coaster journey to forgiveness and healing and restored love. This story has many layers and will pull at your heartstrings. I loved how the kids, Harmony and Jericho, bonded with each other.

During the story we meet James and Lauren who will feature in the next book in the series, The Cowboy’s Mixed-Up Matchmaker (Montana Ranches Christian Romance, Book 2).

If you’ve read Valerie’s Arcadia Valley books, you’ll know Cheri. She’s Alaina’s best friend and worked as Alaina’s assistant at Grace Greenhouse Children’s Center.

The Cowboy’s Christmas Reunion is an emotion-charged reunion romance story with a strong faith and forgiveness theme.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.

Book Recommendation – Until I Met You by Kimberly Rose Johnson

Book Description: 

After a difficult breakup, Brandi Prescott is taking a hiatus from men and focusing on her career, the Lord, and getting to know herself. Everything is going according to plan until one fateful, rainy morning in Seattle when a passing car drenches her and everything changes.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Until I Met You is a sweet story set in Seattle, one of my favorite US cities. The story opens with a cute first meet between Ian and Brandi. Ian’s a nice guy who feels really bad when he drives through a large puddle and accidentally soaks Brandi. He offers to buy Brandi a replacement latte at a nearby cafe, and the spark of attraction is ignited.

Circumstances bring Ian and Brandi together and challenge Brandi’s commitment to the Lord to take a break from dating. I liked Brandi and admired her for keeping her ‘no dating’ commitment, despite being drawn to Ian in a more-than-friends way.

During the story we’re introduced to Ray and Katie, friends of Ian and Brandi who have their own romance story in The Reluctant Groom (Brides of Seattle, Book 1).

Until I Met You is a fun and lighthearted novella. Read a FREE sample at Amazon.

ACFW New Releases: December 2018

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


Amish Romance:

The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller — It’s almost Valentine’s Day at Beechy’s Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)

Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman — When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig — On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig — Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig — When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte — Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)


Contemporary Romance:

Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher — Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Historical:

Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy — Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)

The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller — Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where—or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)

Child of Light by Annette O’Hare — While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret’s prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson — Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid–Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)


Historical Romance:

The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary DavisCynthia HickeyKathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse — Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women’s rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson — When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt — Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)