Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

This is one of the best historical romances that I have read in a long time. What makes it so interesting is the authentic Biltmore Mansion, the detailed look behind the servants' quarters door, and the class boundaries. All very well done!

I wasn't that intrigued by the romance story, however, because this is the first of Gist's novels where she harps on the muscles of the leading man, Mack Danvers. What is that all about? There was a scene at the servants' dance where the protagonist, Tilly Reese, and her love interest are basically lost in each other. That scene was magnificent, as well as the quiet moments in early morning when the two meet doing their chores. Mack Danvers became my hero the instant I found out how he was caring for all his siblings and when he punched the child abuser! Bully for him!

I have an excellent imagination, as well as most readers. There isn't a need to keep talking about muscles. That comes through our imaginations quite nicely, thank you. Except for that minor flaw, this is a worthy read and a keeper.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Maid to Match
Bethany House (June 1, 2010)

Deeanne Gist


After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her 2010 books, Beguiled and Maid To Match are now available for order.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-seven years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.


Falling in love could cost her everything.

From the day she arrived at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled, by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid, After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangles in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Maid to Match, go HERE.

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Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

There are a lot of good things being said about this book. I did not find it compelling or absorbing. It is a good light read for a rainy afternoon.

It takes an extraordinary amout of pages to get to the real meat of the story. This is a trend that is distressing for me. I see a lot of extraneous "stuff" happening that doesn't move the story along in more novels than I care to count this afternoon. Have things changed since my creative writing classes? I am not looking for something "literary" or a Pulitzer Prize Winner... just excellent execution of the back cover promises.

Lena Nelson Dooley gives us an excellent story premise, a good story line, once we get past page 129, and I absolutely love the way Dooley weaves into the story that God literally talks to those who love Him and are willing to listen for His voice. That is so very true! Dooley did an excellent job of using the faith of one character to reach several characters as well as enhancing the faith of another. That was very well done.

My disappointment comes from the fact that when an author has as many novels published as Dooley, my expectations are high and lately, I've been disappointed when the bar isn't met. This love story starts out just like a thousand other love stories with the conflict being between the two love interests. (Since Mr. Smith is older than Maddy's grandfather, we won't count him.) I just have to ask: When has that ever happened in real life? I have never seen it or heard of it happening with anyone I know or have known. The antagonism is understandable, but for me, it went on too long and was over done. That is my own personal preference.

The historical content is quite interesting. So, when all the ingredients are added together, the outcome is enjoyable.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You In Golden, New Mexico
Summerside Press (May 1, 2010)


Lena Nelson Dooley


For several years, Lena worked on the support staff of a church, but in November of 2002, God changed things so that she could stay home and write full-time. It has been the desire of her heart for a long time. In Proverbs 37:4, it says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” She believes that this blessing is a result of her delighting herself in Him, and she praises Him for the opportunity.

She have been a professional writer with a free-lance writing and editing business since 1984. In that time, she has written curriculum for public schools, private schools, and three different denominations. For one company, I managed a writing team that produced a two-year American History course for at-risk students. One of her clients was a Christian comedian for whom she wrote several routines. An airline training company had her edit and design International business reports for them.

Her first novel was published by Heartsong Presents in 1992. Since then Lena Nelson Dooley has written more than 25 works of fiction and nonfiction.

Lena has been married to her husband James since 1964. Theirs was one of those love-at-first-sight relationships. They were married three months and three days after they met. He truly was God’s gift to her. They are absolute opposites, but that means that his strengths are her weaknesses, and her strengths are his weaknesses. Together they make a more perfect whole. She believe that is what God intends for all of us.

They have two daughters. Marilyn Van Zant is married to Roger, and they have a son named Timothy. Tim is now in Tennessee at Ft. Campbell. His son Sebastian is almost 2 years old. Jennifer Waldron is married to Eric, and they have three children—Austin, Marissa, and Amanda. James and Lena love to spend time with their family, and they are blessed that both families live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, so they see them often.

All that glitters is not gold. It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah.

Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her character beyond redemption.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You In Golden, New Mexico, go HERE.

"Love Finds You In Golden, New Mexico is a well-researched novel brimming With emotive conflict. Lena Nelson Dooley has crafted a historical romance that demonstrates that courage comes in many forms, but the courage to love is the most difficult of all.”─DiAnn Mills, author of Sworn to Protect and A Woman Called Sage

"Two strangers are presented with a ‘golden’ opportunity for love in this quintessential East meets West tale by well-loved author Lena Nelson Dooley. I found myself swept away by the beautiful writing and enmeshed in the lives of the players, who face many twists and turns in their journey toward the ultimate happily-ever-after. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico is truly one of the loveliest historical romances I’ve read in ages. Highly recommended.”─Janice Hanna Thompson, author of Love Me Tender and Swinging on a Star

Six-Liter Club by Dr. Harry Kraus

six liter club I really admire Dr. Kraus. He has a true heart for the sick—in body as well as in their souls.  See his bio below.

However, I do have serious reservations about this book.

What was disturbing to me is that the author seems to have sex on the brain. He uses it in such a way that it has no bearing on the story line, even though he suggests that the protagonist has intimacy problems. Such as Camille Weller barges into the “doctors dressing room”, which in hospital-ese, means Mens, in order to make a point that she is a doctor. She hide in a bath stall to listen to their conversation and discovers that not only are her scrubs covered in blood but she has ruined underwear so—in the men’s bathroom, she removes them. I can’t help but be shocked at this “making a point”. There are so many other ways to give the reader a good understanding of the inner workings of this troubled woman’s brain.

I also was a bit uncomfortable with the way sex seems to be overplayed. Although, I can fully appreciate it that she has intimacy problems and it must be addressed.

The premise is superb. The prose leaves a lot to be desired. The way the story is told is from several different POVs, which tends to get a lot confusing simply because the story unfolds differently for the reader than it does for the protagonist. We find out long before she does that her boyfriend is having an affair with a married women who turns out to be a therapist. I have read a couple of thousand books and not one male author has successfully written a good story from inside the head of a woman. Men do not “get” women, so why do they try so hard to write their inner most thoughts? It doesn’t come across the page convincingly.

The dialog is pretty good, but not compelling.

I cannot recommend this book. I’m sorry, because I really like Dr. Kraus.

Harry Kraus has brought surgical skill to medical missions on four continents. Most recently, he returned to Somalia for a short stay. His family (wife, Kris, and three sons) is contemplating a return to Kenya for three years. He could stay in Virginia, building his surgical practice, storing wealth and acquiring house after house, car after car - but that isn't where Harry's heart lies.
Harry Kraus watched the Twin Towers fall on 9/11. He was at Ground Zero providing medical services to those who managed to escape the falling buildings. He saw firsthand the result of human relationships that lack love for fellow man. He determined to spend his life pouring love into human hearts. In Africa, he is often asked by Muslim patients why he would come halfway around the world to take care of them for no pay. Harry smiles. He tells them about the unconditional love He received from a Savior

The Influenza Bomb a Time Scene Investigators novel

TSI book cover This is a gripping, intriguing novel. Yes, it has flashbacks, but you are jerked willy-nilly from one place to another. You are given ample warning what is happening, when and why. I love it! I found it especially intriguing because when I was researching Sins of the Fathers, I ran across the detail that many Union soldiers fell to influenza the winter they took Baton Rouge in the Civil War. That fact was written in a diary published shortly after the Civil War. I couldn't believe that the Flu could kill like that.

This is also chilling… We live in an age where this could really happen, so the believability factor is very high. This one is a keeper!

Paul McCusker (Creative Director, Focus on the Family) and Walt Larimore, M.D. (nationally renowned physician) display their considerable story-telling talents with THE INFLUENZA BOMB, in stores June 1 from Howard Books.

Influenza killed 20-100 million worldwide in 1918. We never discovered why or how to stop the virus. Now, it's back and the Time Scene Investigators (an international team that probes past medical disasters to prevent future outbreaks) must solve the riddle that has gone unanswered for nearly 100 years - before millions more die.


She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

I don't know when I've enjoyed a historical romance more than this one. It has been a very long time. My advice is to hurry up and buy it, but don't start reading it when you settle into bed because you'll look up and suddenly it will be 2 AM! I couldn't believe how quickly time flew while I read. I'd think, just one more chapter, and two hours later, my eyes all bleary, I'd have to reluctantly put it aside and turn out the lights.
The characters are delightful, very well developed and quite believable. The dialogue is magnificent. The 1890s were atrocious times for women who had to suffer in corsets and really were not their own persons. The 1890s were also a time when women began to come out of their cocoons, but it would be another 20 years before women would be professionals at anything except "polite society". 
Siri Mitchell has captured an era in intricate detail, with an understated flamboyance. All the glitter and the pomp are there, with the underlying concern of how the poor lived, the station of daughters who must catch The Catch of the Season with no regard for love or honor are displayed with seeming ease.
My favorite is that she has captured the art of nuance in prose. She tells the story in dialogue, and a sharp reader will “get it” without it having to be explained. I absolutely LOVE that! I do not need or want for everything to be laid out in neon signage. Just tell the story with the lifted brow, a slight smile and the turn of a shoulder at the perfect moment.
Excellent read!! Five out of Five Stars. A keeper.

Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoesand The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. Visit www.sirimitchell.com
I have reviewed this book for Bethany House with no compensation.


Deceit by Brandilyn Collins

I have read a lot of Brandilyn Collins' books over the past several years. She truly is a master at suspense. She has done a fabulous job of weaving suspense with a little bit of romance. Just the right touch. There's no car racing down the road and two people gazing rapturously into each other's eyes. No scene where bullets are flying about and two people suddenly can't keep their hands off each other or their lips apart!

Good writing, good character development, and good storyline keep you turning pages. This story bolts out of the box and never stops until the finish line, and there's no dangling story holes that keep you wondering.

I did get a bit tired of the Jelly Belly references, although, it was probably more mouth watering flavors rather than that I don't like jelly beans.

I love the older woman as a main character. Older women have more character, usually make wiser choices and don't have that "princess" attitude, at least this one did. That makes for a much more believable story. The villain is someone that you just love to hate and there's one of these characters in everyone's life. Although, they don't often resort to murder.

So when you settle into your bed at night to read, be sure to lock all your doors and windows before you crack open this book. You'll want to get up and check them all again, trust me on this. Be sure you are tucked into bed tightly because the plot twists and turns will toss you about considerably.

Oh... and one other thing.... This one is 5 Stars out of 5 Stars, a keeper for sure. It's also one that you'll probably want to read again. So buckle up!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Zondervan (June 18, 2010)


Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.
In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.


     Skip Tracer Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed his second wife---and Joanne's best friend---seven years ago. But Jackson, a church elder and beloved member of the town, walks the streets a free man.

The police tell Joanne to leave well enough alone, but Joanne is determined to bring Jackson down. Using her skip tracing skills, she sets out to locate Melissa Harkoff, now twenty-two, who lived in the Jackson home at the time of Linda Jackson's disappearance.

As Joanne drives home on a rainy winter night, a hooded figure darts in front of her car. In her headlight beams she glimpses the half-concealed face of a man, a rivulet of blood jagging down his cheek. She squeals to a stop but clips him with her right fender. Shaking, she gets out of her car in the pouring rain. The man will not let her see his face. Before he limps off into the night he warns her not to talk to police.

As Joanne tries to find Melissa, someone seems to be after her. Who was the man she hit on the road. Is Baxter Jackson out to silence her? Or is some other skip she's traced in the past now out for revenge?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deceit, go HERE
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