Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Leah's Choice by Marta Perry/3.5 Stars

About the book:

All of Pleasant Valley seems to think the newcomer from Lancaster County is the perfect match for Teacher Leah. After all, so few new families come to their separate Amish community, and fewer still unmarried men. Daniel Glick is a widower with three young children to look after-clearly he's in need of a wife.

Daniel's past haunts him. Though he cannot miss the beauty in Leah's bright eyes and patient ways, he also sees a reminder of his pain-filled marriage. Leah, too, has a burden to bear. Years ago, she was engaged to Johnny Kile, and she was heartbroken when he decided to leave the Amish community. Since then she has immersed herself in teaching, forgetting any hopes of having her own family. When Johnny returns, seeking reconciliation, Leah must decide between two pathways, either of which will completely change her life.

My thoughts:

I won't lie...I had the hardest time finishing this book.  Literally, it sat on my nightstand for probably 6 months after I had read 100 pages, and couldn't go any further.  I couldn't seem to relate to any of the characters, and the parts of the story I wanted to know more about (particularly the medical testing/genetics issues) were mentioned the least.  But somehow, someway, I decided to pick it up and dust it off, and attempt to finish it.

Obviously, I reached the end or I wouldn't be writing this review.  :o)  And believe it or not, it did get a little better.  It took me a few pages before I could get back in the swing of things as I tried to remember all the characters and how they were related to one another.  Once I got all that figured out, I had a great time with the last two-thirds of the book, and had it read in little more than a day.

Unfortunately, though, the ending left a lot to be desired.  I suspected how the story would end, and was afraid that the ending would be rushed, and sure was.  Yes, Leah had a "choice" in the end as to which proposal she'd accept, but neither proposal seemed to fit with the other serious events happening in her life.

I'd like to read some of Marta's other books, because while I like her story concepts, the Amish community seemed like it might have been too simplistic of a setting.  I found myself craving more emotion, more descriptions, more life, and while a small spark of them seemed to appear toward the end, it just took too long to get to them.  Those who enjoy simple stories with happy, tidy endings would probably enjoy this book as well as the others in the series.

3.5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

*I received my copy of this book through PaperBackSwap.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa by Melanie Dobson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
Summerside Press (June 1, 2011)
Melanie Dobson


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011.
Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.
Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


With a backdrop of the community of The Amana Colonies, the Civil War, and a great love story, Melanie Dobson’s new historical fiction title LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA both enlightening and entertaining.
The novel is set in the United States during the turmoil of the 1860s. As the rest of the nation is embroiled in the Civil War, the Amana Colonies have remained at peace with a strong faith in God and pursuit of community, intertwined with hard work, family life and the building of their colony.
Amalie Wiese is travelling to the newly built village of Amana in 1863. When she arrives in the colonies she finds that her fiancée, Friedrich has left to fight with the Union Army. Amalie fears for his safety as she also struggles with his decision to abandon the colony’s beliefs. Matthias, Frederick’s friend, stays back in Amana to work in the colonies. But there is something wrong with Matthias; he always seems angry at Amalie when there is no simple explanation for him to act that way.
The goods that colonies manufacture are much needed supplies for the war effort and Matthias decides to deliver the goods to the soldiers. When he leaves, Amalie realizes that her fear for Matthias’s safety is equally as strong. What will become of Friedrich, will Matthias return safely, and will Amalie marry Friedrich? LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a richly told story of life in the Amana Society and the people who live and love there.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, go HERE.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Holy Guacamole by Dan and Denise Harmer/3 Stars

About the book:

Nestled along San Diego's coast, the former romantic getaway of the silver screen's most notorious lovers is now the sizzling hacienda of Bonnie Miller's culinary boot camp. "If you are what you eat, make it hot, spicy and irresistible," is her motto, and this queen of Southwestern cuisine enjoys quite a savory life: success, fame, and a reputation for the finest palate west of Barcelona. That is, until a pot-rattling bang causes Trace Domingo, a washed-up sports writer, to crash into her life. His arrival turns up the heat at the culinary boot camp as Bonnie discovers in life's recipe book, it is not the spices which add the most flavor, but how truly hungry you are.

My thoughts:

Holy Guacamole was a book that started out great, but ended short of it's potential. Seriously...a plot with a bunch of foodies who knew all there was to know about food was great all by itself, but when a short trip to Mexico turned into a kidnapping plot, I sorta zoned out. It all got so crazy!

I expected there to be more romance than there was, but perhaps since the book was told in a first-person, male POV, the romance wasn't as crucial an element in a guy's mind. And it's just pure speculation here, but I'm guessing that there were some specific, Southwestern words and phrases that I just did not get. Some of the secondary characters spoke unlike anything I've ever read or heard, and I truly had no clue at times what they were trying to say.

With channels like Food Network becoming more popular, there's got to be a segment of readers who would love a book like this. Being a Food Network fan myself (as well as someone who's getting braver with new recipes in the kitchen), I thought it would be a good reading experience. It just strayed so far beyond the initial description. As I said before, had the book solely been food-related without all the other drama, it could've been a really great book. As it stands, my rating is 3 stars.

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Glass Road PR for providing a copy for review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Canary Island Song
Howard Books; Original edition (July 5, 2011)
Robin Jones Gunn


Robin Jones Gunn was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm until her family moved to southern California when she was five years old. She grew up in Orange County and spent her summers at Newport Beach with friends from her church youth group. After attending Biola University and Capernwray Bible School in Austria, Robin and Ross were married and spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry.

It was the young teens at Robin’s church who challenged her to write stories for them. She hadn’t thought much about being a writer, but took their request to heart and set her alarm for 3am, three days a week. With two small children it was the only time she could find to write the first story about Christy Miller. After two years and ten rejections the novel Summer Promise was accepted for publication in 1988. Robin hasn’t stopped writing since. Over 4 million copies of her 75 books have sold and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin and her husband now live in Hawai’i where Ross is a counselor and Robin continues to write to the sound of tropical birds chattering in the palm trees outside her window. Their children are grown but manage to come to the islands with their families every chance they get. Robin's awards include: three Christy awards for excellence in fiction, a Gold Medallion finalist, Mt. Hermon Pacesetter and the Mt. Hermon Writer of the Year award. Robin travels extensively and is a frequent key-note speaker at various events around the world. She serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild.


When Carolyn’s grown daughter tells her she needs to “get a life,” Carolyn decides it’s time to step out of her familiar routine as a single woman in San Francisco and escape to her mother’s home in the Canary Islands. Since Carolyn’s mother is celebrating her seventieth birthday, the timing of Carolyn’s visit makes for a perfect surprise.

The surprise, however, is on Carolyn when she sees Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love. It’s been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day, her life has grown smaller and closed in. The time has come for Carolyn to get her heart back. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands to draw Carolyn into the fullness of life. She is nudged along by a Flamenco dance lesson, a defining camel ride and the steady gaze of Bryan’s intense blue-gray eyes.

Is it too late for Carolyn to trust Bryan? Can Carolyn believe that Bryan has turned into something more than the wild beach boy who stole her kisses so many years ago on a balmy Canary night?

Carolyn is reminded that Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands in 1492 on his voyage to discover the New World. Is she ready to set sail from these same islands to discover her new life?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Canary Island Song, go HERE.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Annalisa Daughety

Time for another week with another Meet & Greet! This week, I've got another sweet, Southern author, and one that I've ACTUALLY gotten to meet in person, too!! How exciting is that?! But first, gotta let you know who won last week's giveaway of The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck by Kathleen Y'Barbo. Thanks to our dear friends at, the lucky winner is:

Jo (ladijo40@...)

Congrats, Jo! I'll be in touch with you shortly to get all the necessary mailing info. :o)

And now, it's time for our next author....Annalisa Daughety! Like I said before, I had the great privilege of meeting Annalisa at a local book signing some time ago, and truthfully...I had a little bit of a starstruck moment. I remember that I could hardly think of anything witty to say, so I just said "thanks for signing my book, and can we get a picture, please?" If I could do it over again...well, that's why we're having this here meet and greet. :o)  Since she's Southern, and a local Southerner to boot, we're gonna have all kinds of fun talking about our favorite Southern things.  Stay tuned to the very end for a nice surprise!

Welcome, Annalisa!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing stories since I learned to hold a pencil so I guess I’ve been a writer almost my whole life. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to read—and I think that love of words and books contributed to my desire to be a writer.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be and why? (This is, of course, assuming that writing IS your dream job!) :o) 

Writing is definitely one of my dream jobs. :) I’ve been blessed to have worked in my other “dream” fields as well. I worked as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, which was definitely a dream job. I loved working at a Civil War battlefield (Shiloh) because I’ve been a Civil War buff since I was a little girl. My other dream job is working as an event planner, which I’ve done for many years. I love seeing a special event come together and be a success. Most recently I worked in that capacity for the National Foundation for Transplants and loved working for an organization I believe in.

I've been to Shiloh once, thanks to my Civil-War-buff hubby.  I'm sure we'll go again at some point in time...he can't get enough of all that history.  :o)

What genre do you most like to write? 

I’m still finding my way—at this point, I think the genre I most like to write would be labeled women’s fiction but most of the books I’ve written that have been published are romance. Being a history buff, I would eventually like to branch out and do a book that blends contemporary and historical, yet still ties in a little romance. Guess I’m sort of all over the place.

Do your own personal experiences, or those of family and friends, ever find their way into one your stories? 

Of course! Usually amplified in some way though. And I always change names. :)

What do you hope readers “take away” with them after they read one of your books?

My main purpose is to entertain and tell a story. My books aren’t preachy, but the characters definitely rely on their faith to get them through tough times.

What is your latest book release?

My July release is from Summerside Press—Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Two women with nothing in common—except the need for a friend and a fresh start. When Amish-born Lydia Ann Raber and Southern belle Caroline DeMarco discover a shared history of loss, the unlikely duo decides to open a gift shop in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Lydia Ann is surprised to find herself drawn to handsome woodworker Simon Zook. When God offers her a second chance at love and family, will she take it? Or will the secret Simon harbors cause her even more heartbreak? For Caroline, love comes in the form of journalist Michael Landis. Their low-key romance is a dream come true for Caroline, a fugitive from an infamous past. Is Michael to blame when reporters start hovering once again, or can Caroline find a way to trust him with her heart?

My guess is that this is a semi-sequel to Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio.  Oh, I do hope I'm right!  

Are you currently working on another novel, and if so, can you give us a snippet about it?

I just turned in All Shook Up which will release through Heartsong Presents Book Club in January. It’s set in Memphis, which made it really fun to write!

Graceland wedding planner Suzanne Simpson finds love with writer Nick Taggart after a chance meeting during Elvis Week. Will Suzanne’s fierce independence and Nick’s fear of commitment doom their blossoming relationship? Or have they finally found a love that’s worth the risk?

For the record, I probably should admit that I've never been to Graceland in my life, and I've lived close enough to visit it for 23 years.  Oh, the horror...  But you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be reading this one when it comes out!

Where can readers find you on the web?

My website:
My blog:
Also I’m very active on Twitter and Facebook and would love to connect with readers there!

What is your most favorite thing about the South?

I love everything about the South. I love the hot, lazy summer days and the way lightning bugs dance around the yard at dusk. I love meeting new people in a small Southern town and spending the first fifteen minutes of our conversation establishing who we know in common and how we may or may not be related. People in the South are great storytellers and I think that’s one reason there are so many wonderful Southern authors. Southern hospitality and manners are still alive and well and when I hear a Southern child say “yes ma’am” it does my heart good. And I can’t gush about the South without talking about the food! Barbecue, fried okra, and sweet tea are some of my very favorites.

Oh, just wait...we are definitely gonna talk about some food!

Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?

Sweet--the sweeter the better!

BBQ Pork or BBQ Beef? 

Barbecue is my FAVORITE food! In fact, I just finished up writing a book set in Memphis and I’m ashamed to tell you how many times barbecue is mentioned! Definitely pork.

Definitely pork for me, too...nothing will do but Corky's.  Yum, yum, yum!!!

Potluck dinner or restaurant dinner? 

Restaurant. Unless it’s just my family and then I like potluck.

Summer or Winter?

I’m a summer girl through and through. I like one snow per year—the kind that shuts the city down and allows me to stay inside and drink hot chocolate—and then I’m ready for summer again.

One snow per year for me, too, although lately, it's been coming around more than once.  That's okay, too...I'm good with 2 or more days off work!

Country gal or city gal? 

I’m kind of a mix. I grew up in the country surrounded by rice fields—but I’ve lived in the big city for the past fourteen years. I love the city, but after a little while start to feel very stifled and long for wide open space again.

You, you all, or y’all? 

Y’all. No question. :)

Y'all is right!  

Annalisa, I think somehow we must be "kindred spirits" (courtesy of dear Anne).  I won't be so bashful next time around if I see you at another book signing...or at a BBQ restaurant!  :o)  Thank you so much for coming and chatting today, and telling all of us about your newest (and also forthcoming) books!


Remember that surprise I promised you?  Well, you probably guessed what it was anyway, but it's always nice to be surprised.  :o)  Annalisa is giving away a copy of her brand new book, Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (which I, for one, cannot WAIT to read) to one special person that comments on this post.  If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win, please leave a comment with your email address before Sunday, July 31.  If there's no email addy, sorry, but your comment will not count toward the drawing.  The winner will be announced next Monday, August 1st.  US addresses only, please.

Thanks for stopping by, as always, my dear friends!  I love meetin' with you here each and every week!

Friday, July 22, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shadows on the Sand
Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Gayle Roper


Gayle is the award winning author of more than forty books. She has been a Christy finalist three times for her novels Spring Rain, Summer Shadows, and Winter Winds. Her novel Autumn Dreams won the prestigious Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. Summer Shadows was voted the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Book of the Year (tied with fellow author Brandilyn Collins).

Gayle has won the Holt Medallion three times for The Decision, Caught in a Bind, and Autumn Dreams. The Decision won the Reviewers Choice Award, and Gayle has also won the Award of Excellence for Spring Rain and the Golden Quill for Summer Shadows and Winter Winds. Romantic Times Book Report gave Gayle the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her Amhearst mystery series, Caught in the Middle, Caught in the Act, and Caught in a Bind, originally published by Zondervan, was reprinted in 2007 by Love Inspired Suspense with a fourth original title added, Caught Redhanded. Another original single title, See No Evil, was also released. Caught in the Middle has been optioned for film.

For her work in training Christian writers Gayle has won special recognition from Mount Hermon CWC, St. Davids CWC, Florida CWC, and Greater Philadelphia CWC. She directed St. Davids for five years and Sandy Cove CWC for six. She has taught with Christian Leaders, Authors and Speakers Services (CLASS), serving for several years as their writer in residence. She enjoys speaking at women's events across the nation and loves sharing the powerful truths of Scripture with humor and practicality.

Gayle lives in southeastern Pennsylvania where she enjoys her family of two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and the world's five most wonderful grandchildren. When she's not writing, or teaching at conferences, Gayle enjoys reading, gardening, and eating out.


Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But Carrie has a painful past, too, and when the reason she once ran away shows up in town, the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg threatens to implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry. Two wounded hearts struggle to find a way to make one romance work. Failure seems guaranteed when Carrie locates her waitress but is taken hostage...

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shadows on the Sand, go HERE.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck by Kathleen Y'Barbo/4 Stars

About the book:

Unlikely romance is sometimes just an inconvenient marriage away

Charlotte Beck may be entering adulthood, but she can’t seem to keep to her stubborn, independent spirit from bucking social protocol. Fed up with her behavior, Charlotte’s father Daniel pressures her to settle into a nice marriage despite knowing she is set on going to college. Then Daniel sees Charlotte with the handsome but annoying English astronomer Alex Hambly, and everything changes.

Though Alex and Charlotte can barely stand one another, Daniel offers them a deal they can’t refuse: if they agree to marry, he will save Alex’s family from financial ruin and grant Charlotte the freedom to go to college. Reluctantly the couple agrees, but in private they plot to annul the marriage as soon as possible.

But when Alex’s feelings change and he refuses to dissolve their contract, will Charlotte find a way out of her vows? Or will she discover that maybe this marriage isn’t so inconvenient after all?

My thoughts:

Oh, what a wonderful ending to this series!  There were beautiful dresses, luxurious homes, travel between London and the States, and if that wasn't enough...a match made in heaven (although it took the longest time for either to see it that way). Buffalo Bill was even thrown in for good measure.  :o)  It was a truly wonderful ride through history to have a peek into the lives of the Beck family, and I'm sorry that our time has come to an end.

Charlotte has definitely been the spunkiest character of this entire series.  She charmed her way into my heart as a pick-pocket in the first book, and grew into a confident young woman eager to prove herself as good as a man in the business world in this book.  But a certain young viscount kept getting in her way!  Geez, what's to be done about these men?!  :o)  From the opening chapter where she literally fell into his arms to the verbal sparring matches they had with one another about all those "agreements," I couldn't get enough of their story.  Naturally, I expected that their marriage would have taken place sooner in the book, but the sequence of events that led up to it was timed just right.  And lest I get too carried away with sharing all of the story, the last section of the book which focused on their married life was the very best, in my opinion.  I'll leave it at that.  :o)

Kathleen truly has a great gift with words, and it's been a privilege to read her work.  Throughout this book (as well as the previously written Anna Finch and the Hired Gun), I couldn't seem to erase the smile from my face.  I'm oh-so-anxious to read whatever she cooks up next, and here's to hoping that next book will have at least one sassy character...I can't seem to get enough of them!

4 Stars

Southern? No
Sass?  Oh, heaps of it!

**Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.

Could I trouble you a moment to rank my review?  I would so appreciate it!

**And one more thing...if you haven't read it yet, be sure to check out my interview with Kathleen.  She's giving away a copy of this great book, so you don't want to miss it!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Kathleen Y'Barbo

Welcome to another week of Southern-Style Meet & Greet!  Before we get to this week's interview, I'd like to announce the winner of last week's contest for a book by Trish Perry.  The lucky winner is....

Renee Ann (reneeasmith61@...)

Renee Ann, I'll be contacting you shortly to get your mailing address so you can get started on your next book quick as a blink.  :o)

Now, folks, we've got a real live Southerner with us this week!  Kathleen Y'Barbo is a full-fledged Texan through and through (like 10th generation Texan, she told me).  I hope y'all will enjoy this week's get-together as we have another good ol' fashioned conversation.  :o)


When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I fell in love with reading as soon as I figured out how. But I came from a little Gulf Coast town in Southeast Texas, and I’d never met a real author. Never even considered I could actually write one of the books I voraciously consumed. It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s and facing my fourth (and last) child going into preschool that I decided to try and write a book. It was April 1996. By the end of May I had written my first 100,000 word novel (in 5 weeks). The words just poured out. Then I wrote another. By the fall of 1996, I found an RWA meeting and admitted I was a writer. I’ve never looked back.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be and why? (This is, of course, assuming that writing IS your dream job!) :o) 

It is! However, my other dream job is acting as publicist to get the word out about all the fabulous books we have in the CBA. I’m truly blessed because I’ve been able to do that as well.

What genre do you most like to write? 

I’m primarily a historical writer, though I do have to get in a contemporary novel every once in awhile. I love the research, the turn of a phrase that indicates the time period, etc. However, right now I’m working on a book that involves a whole bunch of those same things, and it’s contemporary.

Hmmm...sounds like it's a mix of historical and contemporary, which I oh-so-love.  *grin*

Do your own personal experiences, or those of family and friends, ever find their way into one your stories? 

Of course they do!

What do you hope readers “take away” with them after they read one of your books? 

I want them first and foremost to be entertained, but I also want them to learn something about God. Jesus spoke in parables and taught in stories that captured the listener’s attention and pierced their hearts.

What is your latest book release? 

I’m proud to announce that my latest historical The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck (Waterbrook Press) is now out. I’m so excited about this story because Charlotte has been with me since I first wrote The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, the first book in the Women of the West series. She’s gone from being a ten-year-old pickpocket in book 1 to lovely but spirited teenager in book 2 (Anna Finch and the Hired Gun), and now a grown woman taking on the world in book 3. Here’s a little about the novel:
An aristocratic astronomer out to save his family and a Denver heiress out to take on the world meet their match in The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck, the latest historical romp in the Women of the West series from Kathleen Y'Barbo. From Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show's London debut to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich and the mining town of Leadville, Colorado, join Charlotte Beck and Viscount Hambly as they discover that sometimes love arrives at the most inconvenient of times. Read a sneak peek of the first three chapters at to see why Romantic Times magazine gave the tale 4 ½ stars and named it a June Top Pick. In stores on June 21, or pre-order now at!

Are you currently working on another novel, and if so, can you give us a snippet about it?

I’m just finishing up a contemporary novel called Daddy’s Little Matchmakers, which will release from Love Inspired in January as the first of a three-book series featuring widowed heroes in a Texas beach town. It’s a tale of three little girls who think their daddy, a widowed veterinarian, is ready for a love, even though he completely disagrees. Throw in a classified advertisement, a pair of grandmothers ready to help love along, and a girl who loves the little Texas beach town but thinks God is calling her to leave and you’ll see why love is in the air.

Those grannies always like to match up the young 'uns!  Can't ever seem to stop 'em!

Where can readers find you on the web? 

I’ve got a fabulous website at that’s going to soon have a fun reader’s page with some interactive things. Readers can follow my Twitter feeds through the website or my Facebook readers page ( or follow me directly on Twitter using the name KathleenYBarbo.

What is your most favorite thing about the South? 

The people. They’re just so friendly. My guess is all that sweet tea and good food just makes them naturally happy. At least that’s how it is down in Texas.

Well, sweet tea always puts me in a better mood, so I'm sure that must be it.  :o)

Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?

Definitely sweet!

BBQ Pork or BBQ Beef?

Yes, please! :)

Potluck dinner or restaurant dinner?

Depends on the restaurant. I do love the pot-lucks though. :)

Summer or Winter? (There are only two seasons down here…really.)

The thing about Texas weather is when its 110 degrees in the shade, I’m wishing for winter. Then, winter comes and I’m thinking I can’t wait until it gets warm again.

You know, I have that same problem.  We girls have the hardest time making up our minds.  Oh, well!

Country gal or city gal?

I’m sort of in-between. My home town of Port Neches, Texas had about 10,000 people in it last time I checked.

You, you all, or y’all?

Y’all, of course!

Well, I hope y'all had as grand of a time as I did meetin' & greetin' this week with Kathleen!  I'm tickled pink that she's offered a book this week, too!  If you'd like the opportunity to win a copy of Kathleen's newest book, The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck, all's you gotta do is live in the US, and leave a comment with your email address before Sunday, July 24th, and your chances improve immensely to have a copy of your very own!  (The winner will be announced on next week's Meet & Greet.)  And let me just tell ya that Kathleen's books are truly wonderful.  I'm in the middle of her newest one right now, and it's a real page-turner!  There'll be a review of it come tomorrow, so y'all come back now, ya hear?

(And even if you are fortunate enough to already have a copy, don't be bashful about leaving a comment or two, anyway.  Nothing's as much fun as good conversation....with sweet tea, o'course.)  :o)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Summer Dream by Martha Rogers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (June 7, 2011)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.


This is a new series by Martha Rogers.

“Summer Dream is a sweet, heartfelt, and well-written story about faith in action and a love that never fails. I can't wait to read the rest of this series.”—Andrea Boeshaar, author of Unexpected Love and Undaunted Faith

A Heart in Need of Redemption. An Unlikely Love. And a God Who Can Bring Them Together.

As the daughter of a small-town minister in Connecticut, Rachel Winston fears that the only way she’ll ever find a husband is to visit her aunt in Boston for the social season. But when Nathan Reed arrives in town, she can’t help but wonder if he could be the one.

Although attracted to Rachel, Nathan has no desire to become involved with a Christian after experiences with his own family. What’s more, until he resolves his anger with God and his family, he has no chance of courting her.

When Nathan is caught in a devastating blizzard and lies near death in the Winston home, Rachel and her mother give him a lesson in love and forgiveness that leads him back to his home in the South. Will he make peace with his family and return before Rachel chooses a path that takes her away from him?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616383607
ISBN-13: 978-1616383602


Briar Ridge, Connecticut, February 5, 1888

Why did Papa have to be so stubborn? Rachel Winston stared at the gray clouds outside her window and fought the urge to stomp her foot like a spoiled child. However, young women of twenty years must behave as befitting their age, as Mama so often reminded her. Perhaps she should have shown the letter to her mother first. Too late for that now; Papa would tell Mama as soon as he had the opportunity.

The back door closed with a thud, and Rachel shuddered. Papa had left for the church. His departing meant she needed to finish dressing or she’d be late, and then Papa would be even more upset with her. It wouldn’t do for the preacher’s family to be late for the services.

The paper in her pocket crackled when she moved toward the bed to retrieve her boots. Rachel fingered the crumpled edges of Aunt Mabel’s letter. There was no need to read it again, for she knew the words by heart. Her aunt’s invitation to come to Boston for an extended visit had arrived at a most inopportune time with the winter weather in the northern states at its worst. Even so, she shared the letter with Papa, hoping he might be agreeable to the visit.

A metallic taste soured her mouth, and she swallowed hard in an attempt to squelch it. Papa argued that the unpredictable weather of February made travel from Connecticut to Boston dangerous. If only one of the many Boston trains came to Briar Ridge. Aunt Mabel meant well, but her timing left something to be desired. Papa didn’t even want her going to Hartford or Manchester to board a train. It took over three hours by horseback to make the journey to Hartford—longer in bad weather.

She grasped the wrinkled letter in her hand and pulled it from its resting place. “Oh, Auntie, why did you wait until now to invite me for a visit?” she said to the letter, as if Aunt Mabel could hear her. “Last spring when I graduated from the academy would have been perfect, but you had to travel abroad.” A deep sigh filled her, then escaped in a long breath and a slump of her shoulders.

Aunt Mabel believed that a young woman should go to finishing school before she thought of marriage and had offered to pay for Rachel’s tuition. Papa had frowned on the idea, but her mother finally prevailed. For that, Rachel was most grateful, and she wouldn’t have traded those years at the academy for marriage to anyone. But now that she was twenty, she found that the pool of eligible bachelors in her area was slim to nonexistent.

Going to Boston would have provided the opportunity to meet more young men.

Rachel sat on the bed to ease off her slippers and bent over for the winter boots thatwould protect her feet from the slush. The frozen ground outdoors called for them, but they were not the choice she would have liked to wear to church this morning. Rachel shoved her feet down into the sturdy boots designed for warmth, not attractive appearance.

Of the eligible young men in Briar Ridge, only one came to mind, but then Daniel Monroe didn’t count. His sister had been Rachel’s best friend since Papa came to be pastor of the Briar Ridge church nearly seventeen years ago. Daniel treated her more like his sister anyway. Two years older, and just starting out as a lawyer, he was far more knowledgeable than she, and keeping up a conversation with him took more effort than she deemed it to be worth. Rachel had finished at the seminary with good marks, but Daniel’s conversation interests leaned more toward science and new inventions like electricity and the telephone than things of interest to her.
Rachel’s anger subsided as she pulled on the laces of her boots. As she reflected on her father, she remembered that he loved her and wanted only the best for her. He had promised that when spring came, he’d talk to her about the trip. Until then she would be the obedient daughter he wanted her to be and dream of the trip ahead. The Lord would give her patience, even though that was not one of her virtues.

She smoothed her skirt down over her hips and picked up the letter to place it on the table beside her bed. A response to Aunt Mabel would go out with tomorrow’s mail to express her regrets in not being able to accept the invitation. Papa would probably write to her as well, but Rachel wanted her aunt to know how much she appreciated the invitation.

If Seth were here now, he could give her good counsel. He’d always been the one she’d turned to when things didn’t go well with Mama and Papa. She loved her older brother and missed him, but he’d be home from the seminary in May, and she could talk with him then. Since he studied to be a minister like Papa, he’d most likely leave Briar Ridge if his ministry took him elsewhere after his graduation.

She’d met a few young men while at school, but the strict rules and regulations set forth at Bainbridge Academy for Young Women in Hartford had given her few opportunities to develop a relationship. Not that she would have considered any of them, but she would have appreciated the chance.
Mama called to her, and Rachel hurried to the front hall. She noted the firm set of Mama’s jaw and braced for the scolding that would be in order. “I’m sorry to take so long, Mama.” She grabbed her cloak from its hook.
“You know how your father hates for us to be late to church. It is unseemly for the minister’s family to be the last to arrive.” Mama turned and walked outside, her back ramrod straight.

Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. No time for a scolding now. She set a dark blue bonnet firmly over her hair and fastened the ties. She followed her mother out to the carriage, where the rest of the family waited. As usual, Papa had gone on ahead to open the church and stoke the two stoves to provide heat on this cold winter morning. Rachel climbed up beside her sister, Miriam, and reached for the blanket.

“What delayed you, Rachel? There’s no excuse for not being ready with everyone else.” Mama settled in her seat beside Noah, who had taken over his brother’s responsibilities until his own departure for college next fall.
“Time slipped away from me.” No need to tell her everything now. Rachel tucked a blanket around her legs and glanced at Miriam beside her. Miriam’s eyebrows lifted in question, but Rachel shook her head.

Micah piped up from the front seat. “Did you make Papa angry?”

“Micah! Of course not.” Rachel glanced at her brother Noah and noted the smirk on his face. She frowned to let him know she didn’t approve.
His gaze slid to her now. “Oh, then why did he stomp through the kitchen and ride off without a word to anybody?”

Mama clucked her tongue. “Now, children, it’s the Sabbath. Papa was late and in a hurry to get to the church.” But the look in Mama’s eyes promised she’d speak to Rachel about it later, especially after Mama learned the real reason for the tardiness.

Even though his decision disappointed her, Papa simply wanted to protect her from danger. She should be grateful for his love and concern, not angry because he said no. The promise of a trip to Boston when the weather improved would have to be enough to get her through the remainder of winter.

A recent snowfall still covered the frozen ground. Most of it in the streets had melted into a hodgepodge of brown and black slush caused by carriages and buggies winding their way toward the church. Rachel breathed deeply of the clean, fresh air that seemed to accompany snow in winter and rain in the spring.
If not for the inconveniences caused by ice and snow, she would love this time of year, even when the leafless branches of the trees cracked and creaked with a coating of ice. She gazed toward the gray skies that promised more snow before the day ended. If it would wait until later in the day, she might manage a visit with her best friend Abigail this afternoon.
However, a warm house, a cup of hot tea flavored with mint from Mama’s herb garden, and a good book might entice her to stay home on this cold, winter afternoon. Tomorrow would bring the chores of keeping the woodpile stocked and the laundry cleaned. She enjoyed the winter months, although this year she wished them to hurry by.

Miriam snuggled closer. Rachel smiled at her sister, who had recently turned thirteen. “I see you’re wearing your Christmas dress today. Is there a special occasion?”
Miriam’s cheeks turned a darker shade of red. “Um, not exactly.”

“Then what is it . . . exactly?”
Miriam tilted her head to one side and peered up at Rachel. She whispered, “Jimmy Turner.”
So her little sister had begun to notice boys. “Well now, I think he’s a handsome lad. Has he shown an interest in you?”

Miriam nodded and giggled. Rachel wrapped an arm around her sister as the buggy slowed to enter the churchyard. She stepped down onto the snow-covered ground muddied by all the wagons crossing over it. Now she was thankful for the thick stockings and shoes she wore to protect her toes. She then reached up for Micah while Miriam raced ahead.

The little boy pushed her hands away. “I can get down by myself.”

Rachel couldn’t resist the temptation to laugh. At seven, her younger brother expressed his independence and insisted on doing things for himself. He jumped with his feet square in a pile of snow and looked first at his feet then up to Rachel. She shook her head and grabbed his hand to go inside the building. How that little boy loved the snow. He’d be out in it all day if Mama would let him.

When she entered the foyer with Micah, she spotted Miriam already sitting in their pew with Jimmy Turner in the row behind her. Rachel hastened to sit down beside her sister. Miriam stared straight ahead but twisted her hands together in her lap.

When had Miriam grown up? Even now she showed signs of the beauty she would one day be. Thick, dark lashes framed her brown eyes, and her cheeks held a natural pink glow. Papa would really have to keep an eye out for his younger daughter.
Rachel glanced around the assembly room and once again admired the beauty of the old church built not long after the turn of the century. Instead of the quarry stone and masonry of the churches in Boston and even New Haven, Briar Ridge’s church walls were of white clapboard with large stained-glass windows along the sides. On bright days, sunlight streamed through them to create patterns of color across the congregation.

Brass light fixtures hung from the high vaulted ceilings, and the flames from the gaslights danced in the breeze as the back doors opened to admit worshippers. As much as she loved her church here in Briar Ridge, she remembered the electric lights she’d enjoyed in Hartford, one of the first cities to have its own generating plant. How long before electricity would become as widespread in Briar Ridge as it was in the larger cities? Probably awhile since Briar Ridge wasn’t known for its progress.
When the family first came to town, Rachel had been three years old, so this was the only home and church she could remember before leaving for school. Familiar faces met her everywhere she gazed. A nod and smile greeted each one as she searched for her friend Abigail and the Monroe family.
Unexpectedly a new face came into view a few rows back. A young man with the most incredible brown eyes stared back at her. Rachel’s breath caught in her throat, and the heat rose in her cheeks.

She felt her mother’s hand on her arm. “Turn around, Rachel. It’s not polite to stare.”
With her heart threatening to jump right out of her chest, Rachel tore her gaze away from the stranger seated with the Monroe family. Papa entered from the side door and stepped up to the pulpit. The service began with singing, but Rachel could barely make a sound. Everything in her wanted to turn and gaze again at the mysterious person with the Monroe family, but that behavior would be unseemly for the daughter of the minister.

However, her thoughts refused to obey and skipped to their own rhythm. Rachel decided that whoever he was, he must be a friend of Daniel’s because Abigail had never mentioned any man of interest in her own life. In a town like Briar Ridge, everyone knew everyone’s business. She hadn’t heard any talk of a guest from Daniel or her other friends yesterday.
A prickling sensation crept along her neck as though someone watched her. She blinked her eyes and willed herself to look at Papa and concentrate on his message. However, her mind filled with images of the young man. Who was this stranger who had come to Briar Ridge?

Nathan Reed contemplated the dark curls peeking from beneath the blue bonnet. When she had turned and their eyes met, his heart leaped. He had never expected to see such a beauty in a town like Briar Ridge. His friend Daniel’s sister was attractive, but nothing like this raven-haired girl with blue eyes.
When she turned her head back toward the front, he stared at her back as if to will her to turn his way again. When she didn’t, he turned his sights to gaze around the church, so much like others he’d once attended. He wouldn’t be here this morning except out of politeness for the Monroe family. He’d arrived later than intended last evening and welcomed Mrs. Monroe’s offer to stay the night with them. The least he could do was attend the service today.

Nathan had no use for church or things of God. He believed God existed, but only for people who needed something or someone to lean on. God had forsaken the Reed family years ago, and Nathan had done quite well without any help these four years away from home.

He shook off thoughts of the past and concentrated once more on the blue bonnet several rows ahead. Perhaps Daniel would introduce him. She would be a nice diversion from the business he must attend to while in town. He blocked the words of the minister from his mind and concentrated on the girl’s back.
The little boy seated next to the young woman seemed restless, so she lifted him onto her lap. The child couldn’t be her son. She didn’t look old enough. Then the older woman next to them reached for the boy and settled him in her arms. In a few minutes the boy’s head nodded in sleep.
Nathan resisted the urge to pull his watch from his pocket and check the time. Surely the service would end soon. Potbellied stoves in the front and back of the church provided warmth, and the additional heat of so many bodies caused him to wish he had shed his coat. He fought the urge to nod off himself. Oh, to be like the young lad in his mother’s arms.
Finally the congregation rose, and the organ played the final hymn. It was none too soon for Nathan, for he had grown more uncomfortable by the minute. Long sermons only added to his distaste for affairs of the church. The singing ended and people began their exit, but he kept his eye on the girl in blue until the crowd blocked her from view.

He stayed behind the Monroe family, who stopped to greet the minister. Mrs. Monroe turned to Nathan. “Reverend Winston, this is Nathan Reed, our houseguest from Hartford this week and a friend of Daniel’s.”

The minister smiled in greeting and shook Nathan’s hand. “It’s very nice to have you in our services today, Mr. Reed. I hope you enjoy your stay in Briar Ridge and that we’ll see more of you.”

“Thank you, sir. I look forward to my visit here.” But the minister wouldn’t be seeing any more of him unless they possibly met in town.

When they reached the Monroe carriage, Nathan turned and spotted the girl coming down the steps. He watched as Daniel waved to the young woman and she waved back. Abigail ran to greet her, and the girls hurried over to where Nathan stood with Daniel. Abigail tucked her hand in the girl’s elbow.
“Nathan, this is my best friend, Rachel Winston. Rachel, this is Daniel’s former roommate in college, Nathan Reed.”

Rachel Winston? Nathan’s hopes dashed against the slushy ground on which he stood. Could she be the preacher’s daughter? He didn’t mind a young woman being Christian, but he drew the line at keeping company with one so close to the ministry.
When her blue eyes gazed into his, a spark of interest flamed, and it took him a few seconds before remembering his manners. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Winston.”
Her cheeks flushed red, and she glanced away slightly but still smiled. “Thank you. I’m pleased to meet you too, Mr. Reed. Perhaps we’ll see each other again if you’re in town long.”

Rachel’s smile sent a warmth into his heart that caused him to swallow hard. Although the length of his stay was uncertain, his desire to see the lovely Miss Winston again might just override his pledge to avoid anything or anyone with ties to the church.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Look What Arrived at My House Today! :o)

Not one great surprise, but two...The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz and tickets to see Les Miserables in September.  It doesn't get any better than that, I don't believe.  ;o)

After I started reading The Frontiersman's Daughter earlier this month, I just knew I was going to want to be a part of the blog tour for The Colonel's Lady.  Now that the book is here in the flesh (well, maybe "in the paper" is more accurate), I've got to get to reading Courting Morrow Little ASAP!  But isn't that cover just the most beautiful thing?  *happy sigh*

And not to be left to Les Mis.  As soon as I sorted through the mail and saw them, strains of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" were already running through my head.  :o)  This will be my third time to experience Les Mis, and I cannot wait.  Oh, September 15th cannot get here soon enough!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Too Rich for a Bride by Mona Hodgson/4 Stars

About the book:

With a head more suited to bookkeeping than a bridal veil, Ida’s dreams include big business- not beaus.

Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters, Kat and Nell, in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado for one reason: to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman, Mollie O’Bryan. Ida’s sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career.

Under Mollie's tutelage, Ida learns how to play the stock market and revels in her promising accomplishments. Fighting for respect in a man's world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions. She ignores her family's reservations about Mollie O'Bryan's business practices, but no matter how she tries, she can't ignore the two men pursuing her affections—Colin Wagner, the dashing lawyer, and Tucker Raines, the traveling preacher.

Ida wants a career more than anything else, so she shrugs off the suitors and pointed “suggestions” that young ladies don’t belong in business. Will it take unexpected love—or unexpected danger—for Ida to realize where her priorities truly lie?

My thoughts:

After reading Two Brides Too Many recently, and the fact that it wasn't really my cup of tea, it was with a hint of trepidation that I cracked open Too Rich for a Bride.  I was already intrigued that I was about to read about a businesswoman in the late 1800's, since most women at that time were either already married, taught school, or they were employed as prostitutes.  So, Ida's choice of profession made Too Rich for a Bride a refreshing story from the start.

I enjoyed Ida's strong personality, and her desire to make her own way in a man's world.  Plain and simple, this girl had gumption.  I felt awful for her at the very beginning as a no-account professor of hers tried to "convince" her how she could get ahead.  Then, she got accosted shortly thereafter when she moved to Cripple Creek.  But only spurred her on more and more to show them (and herself, too) that she would not succumb to their taunts and ridicule.  She was going to make it on her own...period.

So, out of the two books currently available in this series, this one was by far my favorite.  The story was much more focused, and all of the characters introduced were vital to the story (not the case in the previous book, in my opinion).  I imagine Vivian will be the next sister featured, and I admit I'm a little curious which woman will be featured in the fourth book (two brides were featured in book one, one bride in books two and three, and we'll be out of Sinclair sisters by book 4).  Oh,'s just like these authors to keep us on our toes.  :o)

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Yes

**Many thanks to Waterbrook for providing a copy for review through the Blogging For Books program.

**Would you kindly take a moment to rate my review?  It would make my day, and I'll send a hundred thanks your way!