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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Wild Card Tours: (Heart of Mercy)

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:

Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Award winning romance author, Sharlene MacLaren has released 13 novels since embarking on a writing career in 2007. After a career teaching second grade “Shar” says she asked God for a new mission “that would bring her as great a sense of purpose” as she’d felt teaching and raising her children. She tried her hand at inspirational romance, releasing Through Every Storm to critical and popular acclaim in 2007, and the rest, as they say, is history. She quickly became the top selling fiction author for Whitaker House, has accumulated multiple awards, and endeared herself to readers who can’t get enough of her long, luscious and often quirky tales – both historical and contemporary. Her novels include the contemporary romances Long Journey Home, and Tender Vow; and three historical series including Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza Jane; Sarah, My Beloved; and Courting Emma); The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann) and River of Hope (Livvie’s Song, Ellie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret).

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

 Mercy Evans has known a great deal of heartache and hardship in her 26 years. She lost her mother at a young age and was only 16 when her father was killed in a brawl sparked by a feud with the Connors family that spans several generations. When a house fire claims the lives of her two best friends, Mercy is devastated, but finds comfort in caring for their two sons, who survived thanks to a heroic rescue by Sam Connors, blacksmith in the small town of Paris, Tennessee. Yet the judge is determined to grant custody only if Mercy is married. Mercy loves the boys as her own, and she’ll go to any lengths to keep them—but what if that means marrying the son of the man who killed her father?  Set in the 1880’s, Heart of Mercy is the first book in MacLaren’s new Tennessee Dreams series.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Series: Tennessee Dreams (Book 1)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603749632
ISBN-13: 978-1603749633


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1890
Paris, Tennessee
“Fire!”
The single word had the power to force a body to drop his knees and call out to his Maker for leniency. But most took time for neither, instead racing to the scene of terror with the bucket they kept stored close to the door, and joining the contingent of citizens determined to battle the flames of death and destruction. Such was the case tonight when, washing the dinner dishes in the kitchen sink, Mercy Evans heard the dreaded screams coming from all directions, even began to smell the sickening fumes of blazing timber seeping through her open windows. She ran through her house and burst through the screen door onto the front porch.
“Where’s the fire?” she shouted at the people running up Wood Street carrying buckets of water.
Without so much as a glance at her, one man hollered on the run, “Looks to be the Watson place over on Caldwell.”
Her heart thudded to a shattering halt. God, no! “Surely, you don’t mean Herb and Millie Watson!”
Mercy Evans and Millie Watson, formerly Gifford, had been fast friends at school and had stuck together like glue in the dimmest of circumstances, as well as the sweetest. Millie had walked with Mercy through the loss of both her parents, and Mercy had watched Millie fall wildly in love with Herb Watson in the twelfth grade. She’d been the maid of honor in their wedding the following summer.
But her voice was lost to the footsteps thundering past. Whirling on her heel, she ran back inside, hurried to extinguish all but one kerosene lamp, snatched her wrap from its hook by the door, and darted back outside and up the rutted street toward her best friends’ home, dodging horses and a stampede of citizens. “Lord, please don’t let it be,” she pleaded aloud. “Oh, God, keep them safe. Jesus, Jesus….” But her cries vanished in the scramble of bodies crowding her off the street as several made the turn onto Caldwell in their quest to reach the flaming house, which already looked beyond saving.
Tongues of fire shot like dragons’ breath out windows and up through a hole in the roof. Like hungry serpents, flames lapped up the sides of the house, eating walls and shattering panes, while men heaved their pathetic little buckets of water at the volcanic monster.
“Back off, everybody. Step back!” ordered Sheriff Phil Marshall. He and a couple of deputies on horseback spread their arms wide at the crowd, trying to push them to safety.
Ignoring his orders, Mercy pressed through the gathering mob until the heat so overwhelmed her that she had no choice but to stop. Besides, a giant arm reached out and stopped her progress. She shook it off. “Where are they?” she gasped, breathless. “Where’s the family?”
The sheriff moved his bald head from side to side, his sad, defeated eyes telling the story. “Don’t know, Miss Evans. No one’s seen ’em yet. We been scourin’ the crowd”—he gave another shake of the head—“and it don’t appear anybody got out of that inferno.”
“That can’t be.” A sob caught at the back of her throat and choked her next words. “They were at my place earlier. I made supper.”
“Sorry, miss.”
“Someone’s comin’ out!” A man’s ear-splitting shout rose above the crowd.
Dense smoke enveloped a large figure emerging—staggering rather like a drunkard—from the open door and onto the porch, his arms full with two wriggling bundles wrapped in blankets and screaming in terror. Mercy sucked in a cavernous breath and held it till weakness overtook her and she forced herself to let it out. Could it be? Had little John Roy and Joseph survived the fire thanks to this man?
“Who is it?” someone asked.
All stood in rapt silence as he passed through the cloud of smoke. “Looks to be Sam Connors, the blacksmith,” said the sheriff, scratching his head and stepping forward.
“Sure ’nough is,” someone confirmed.
Mercy stared in wonder as the man, looking dazed and almost ethereal, strode down the steps, then wavered and stumbled before falling flat on his face in a heap of dust and bringing the howling bundles with him.
Excited chatter erupted as Mercy and several others ran to their aid. Mercy yanked the blankets off the boys and heaved a sigh of relief to find them both alert and apparently unharmed, albeit still screeching louder than a couple of banshees. Through their avalanche of tears, they recognized her, and they hurled themselves into her arms, knocking her backward, so that she wound up on her back perpendicular to Mr. Connors, with both of the boys lying prone across her body. In all the chaos, she felt a hand grasp her arm and help her up to a sitting position.
“Come on, Miz. You bes’ git yo’self an’ them chillin’s out of the way o’ them flames fo’ you all gets burned.” She had the presence of mind to look up at Solomon Turner, a former slave now in the employ of Mrs. Iris Brockwell, a prominent Paris citizen who’d donated a good deal of money to the hospital fund.
Mercy took the man’s callused hand and allowed him to help her to a standing state. By the lines etched in his face from years of hard work in the sweltering sun, Mercy figured he had to be in his seventies, yet he lifted her with no apparent effort. “Thank you, Mr. Turner.”
Five-year-old John Roy stretched his arms upward, pleading with wet eyes to be held, while Joseph, six, took a fistful of her skirt and clung with all his might. “Come,” she said, hoisting John Roy up into her arms. “We best do as Mr. Turner says, honey. Follow me.”
“But…Mama and Papa….” Joseph turned and gave his perishing house a long perusal, tears still spilling down his face. John Roy buried his wrenching sobs in Mercy’s shoulder, and it was all she could do to keep from bolting into the house herself to search for Herb and Millie, even though she knew she’d never come out alive. If the fire and smoke didn’t kill her, the heat would. Besides, before her eyes, the flames had devoured the very sides of the house, leaving a skeletal frame with a staircase only somewhat intact and a freestanding brick fireplace looking like a graveyard monument. Her heart throbbed in her chest and thundered in her ears, and she wanted to scream, but the ever-thickening smoke and acrid fumes burned to the bottom of her lungs.
With her free hand, she hugged Joseph close to her. “I know, sweetheart, and I’m so, so sorry.” Her words drowned in her own sobs as the truth slammed against her. Millie and Herb, her most loyal friends. Gone.
Sheriff Marshall and his deputies ordered the crowd to move away from the blazing house, so she forced herself to obey, dragging a reluctant Joseph with her. At the same time, she observed three men carrying a yet unconscious Sam Connors across the street to a grassy patch of ground. Several others gathered around, trying to decide what sort of care he needed. Of course, he required medical attention, but Mercy felt too weak and dizzy to tend to him. Best to let the men put him on a cart and drive him over to Doc Trumble’s. Besides, she highly doubted he’d welcome her help. He was a Connors, after all, and she an Evans—two families who had been fighting since as far back as anyone could remember.
She’d heard only bits and pieces of how the feud had started, with a dispute between Cornelius Evans, Mercy’s grandfather, and Eustace Connors over property lines and livestock grazing in the early 1830s. There had been numerous thefts of horses and cattle, and incidents of barn burnings, committed by both families, until a judge had stepped in and defined the property lines—in favor of Eustace Connors. Mercy’s grandfather had gotten so agitated over the matter that his heart had given out. Mercy’s grandmother, Margaret, had blamed the Connors family, fueling the feud by passing her hatred for the entire clan on to her own children, and so the next generation had carried the grudge, mostly forgetting its origins but not the bad blood. The animosity had reached a peak six years ago, when Ernest Connors had killed Oscar Evans—Mercy’s father.
“That man’s a angel,” Joseph mumbled into her skirts.
“What, honey?”
“John Roy was wailin’ real loud, ’cause he saw somethin’ orange comin’ from upstairs, so he got in bed with me, and after a while that angel man comed in and took us out of ar’ bed.”
She set John Roy on the ground, then got down on her knees to meet Joseph’s eyes straight on. His were still red, his cheeks blotchy. She thought very carefully about her next words. “Where were your parents?”
Joseph sniffed. “They tucked us in and went upstairs to their bedroom. John Roy an’ me talked a long time about scary monsters an’ stuff, but then, after a while, he went to sleep, but I couldn’t, so I got up t’ get a drink o’ water, and that’s when I heard a noise upstairs. I looked around the corner, and I seed a big round ball o’ orange up there, and smoke comin’ out of it, and I thought it was a dragon come to eat us up. I runned back and jumped in bed with Joseph and tol’ him a mean monster was comin’ t’ get us, and I started cryin’ real loud.”
John Roy picked up the story from there. “And so we waited and waited for the monster to come after us, but instead the angel saved us. I think Mama and Papa is prolly still sleepin’. Do you think they waked up yet?”
Mercy’s throat burned as powerfully as if she’d swallowed a tablespoonful of acid. Her own eyes begged to cut loose a river of tears, but she warded them off with a shake of her head while gathering both boys tightly to her. “No, darlings, I don’t believe they woke up in bed. I believe with all my heart they awoke in heaven and are right now asking Jesus to keep you safe.”
“And so Jesus tol’ that angel to come in the house and get us?” Joseph pointed a shaky finger at Sam Connors. The big fellow lay motionless on his back, with several men bent over him, calling his name and fanning his face.
Mercy smiled. “He’s not an angel, my sweet, but that’s not to say that God didn’t have something to do with sending him in to rescue you.”
“Is he gonna die, like Mama and Papa?” John Roy asked between frantic sobs.
“Oh, honey, I don’t know.”
She overheard Lyle Phelps suggest they take him over to Doc Trumble’s house, but then Harold Crew said he’d spotted the doctor about an hour ago, driving out to the DeLass farm to deliver baby number seven.
A few sets of eyes glanced around until they landed on Mercy. She knew what folks were thinking. She worked for Doc Trumble, she had more medical training and experience than the average person, and her house was closest to the scene. But their gazes also indicated they understood the awkwardness of the situation, considering the ongoing feud between the two families. Although the idea of caring for him didn’t appeal, she’d taken an oath to always do her best to preserve life. Besides, the Lord commanded her to love her neighbor as herself, making it a sin to walk away from someone in need, regardless of his family name.
She dropped her shoulders, even as the boys snuggled close. “Put him on a cart and take him to my place,” she stated.
As if relieved that his care would fall to someone other than themselves, several men hurried to pick him up and carried him to Harold Crew’s nearby buggy.
“What about us?” Joseph asked.
The sheriff stepped forward and made a quick study of each boy. “You can stay out at my sister’s farm. She won’t mind adding a couple o’ more young’uns to her brood.”
Joseph burst into loud howls upon the sheriff’s announcement. Mercy hugged him and John Roy possessively. “Their parents were my closest friends, Sheriff Marshall. I’d like to assume their care.”
He frowned and scratched the back of his head. “Don’t know as that’s the best solution, you bein’ unwed an’ all.”
“That should have no bearing whatever on where they go. Their parents were my closest friends. They’re coming home with me.” She took both boys by the hands, turned, and led them back down Caldwell Street, away from the still-smoldering house and the sheriff’s disapproving gaze. Overhead, black smoke filled the skies, obliterating any hope of the night’s first stars or the crescent moon making an appearance.




*I have not read this book but, I for one would LOVE to.  I hope you enjoyed reading about it! :)  ~ASC

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Headmistress of Rosemere Review!!!

The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd

Book Description:
Patience Creighton has dedicated herself to the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. But the return of the enigmatic master of the estate puts everything she loves at risk.

Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she invests herself in teaching at her father's school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to make the school successful.

Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin's edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of property --- including the land where Rosemere School is located --- but possesses little money to manage its upkeep. When debtors start calling, he is desperate to find a new source of income, even if it means sacrificing Rosemere.

When a fire threatens the school grounds, William must decide to what lengths he is willing to go to protect his birthright. And when Patience's brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience suddenly finds herself unsure of her calling. After a surprising truth about William's past is brought to light, both William and Patience will have to seek God's plans for their lives-and their hearts.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/sgVC4 

About the author: Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Learn more about Sarah at:http://sarahladd.com


My Opinion:
A Nice Read.  The Headmistress of Rosemere was different than I expected it to be.  I had wanted to read the first in this series, but never got the chance so when I was given the chance to read The Headmistress I took it! :)  I love the moors!  I have always loved reading about the moors and the people able to live there.  For me Sarah did a fantastic job of depicting their beauty and seclusion!  There were twists in the story that I was pretty sure I had figured out before they happened, but the fact that I was able to know what was coming didn't make them any less entertaining.  There were some characters that frustrated me with there actions, but they were supposed to! LOL!  I love the characters especially the little girls that go to the school.  I quickly fell in love with two young characters in particular, Emma and Charlie the stable boy.  The rest of the story held entertaining aspects and interesting elements including horses, secrets, and betrayal.  The pace was nice, slowing down and then picking up with exciting scenes, but never truly lulling.  The beginning chapters, I felt, really introduced us to the characters and set the rest of the story up, but it wasn't until chapter 7 that Sarah threw in a twist that grabbed me!  Leaning to trust and turn to God, to take responsibility for our actions, to learn to trust our hearts, and to be able to roll with changes this life can bring The Headmistress from Rosemere is a lovely read.

Songs (it was kinda hard for me to come up with songs so I may add more later): "Rock Of Ages" Mike Curb Congregation, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" Israel Houghton, and "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" by Chris Tomlin

Proverbs 3:5-6

~ASC

*I received this book for the purpose of reviewing it.  This in no way affected my opinion and the above are my true thoughts and opinions. ~ASC

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ruth Reid’s “A Miracle of Hope” Kindle HDX Giveaway and Facebook Party!

A Miracle of Hope is the first book in Ruth Reid's new series, Amish Wonders, and she is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX Giveaway and an Author Chat Facebook Party!
miraclehope-400

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Miracle of Hope by Ruth Reid
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 11th. Winner will be announced at the A Miracle of Hope Facebook Party on February 11th. Connect with Ruth for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, prizes, and more!

So grab your copy of A Miracle of Hope and join Ruth and friends on the evening of February 11th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

A Miracle of Hope Ruth Reid
Enter Today | 1/22 - 2/11!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

First Wild Card Tours: Call of the Prairie (Pioneer Promises Series Book 2)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book blast! 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:

Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

VickiMcDonoughHS2 Short Bio & Author Website: Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 30 works and a founder of the Christian Fiction Historical Society (www.christianfictionhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com).  Book 1 in her Pioneer Promises series, Whispers on the Prairie, was chosen by Romantic Times as a top “recommended read” last summer. A member of ACFW, Vickie served as treasurer for three years and treasurer for her local chapter. She and her husband, Robert, live in Oklahoma and have four grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. When she isn’t writing, Vickie enjoys reading, shopping for antiques, watching movies, and traveling. The final book in her Pioneer Promises series, Song of the Prairie, releases the summer of 2014.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In her 22 years, Sophie Davenport’s overprotective parents have taken every possible measure to keep her from exacerbating her asthma—she feels like a prisoner in her own house with her activities limited to reading and needlework. Yet Sophie longs for adventure and love, so when an aunt living in Windmill, Kansas, falls ill, she volunteers to travel from St. Louis to help out. Sophie’s new role brings her into contact with two children boarding at her aunt’s home, along with their handsome uncle, Josh Harper. Josh has worked for his family’s stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail for most of his life, but he’s far more bookish than his brawny brothers. It’s his book smarts that recently landed him a job in Windmill managing his uncle’s bank. Josh also looks after his niece and nephew who are living in Windmill to attend school. Josh loves spending time with them, but yearns for a family of his own.


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Series: Pioneer Promises (Book 2)
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603749624
ISBN-13: 978-1603749626

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

April 1873
St. Louis, Missouri
Sophie Davenport held back the curtain and peered out the front window, her heart jolting as a handsome man exited the carriage. He paid the driver, then turned and studied her house. He was taller and nicer looking than she’d expected. She dropped the curtain and stepped back, hoping he hadn’t seen her spying. She pressed her hands together and tapped her index fingers against her lips, unable to hold back her grin. Blake had finally arrived!
A knock of confidence, not apprehension, sounded at the main entrance. Sophie hurried to her bedroom door, which opened onto the main entryway, then held her breath and listened. Blake stood on her porch, introducing himself to the butler. Sophie could barely hold back her giddiness. She bounced on her toes as Blake told the butler he had an appointment with her. His voice, deeper than she’d imagined, floated through the open transom window above her like a beautiful cello solo at the symphony.
She patted her hair, hoping the humidity of the warm day hadn’t sent it spiraling in rebellious curls. The swish of silk accompanied her as she hurried across the room to the full-length oval mirror that stood in one corner. Pressing a hand over her chest to calm her pounding heart, she surveyed her deep purple gown. Was the fabric too dark? She’d chosen the violet silk taffeta because her brightly colored day dresses made her appear younger, but today, she wanted to look the twenty-two-year-old woman she was. Turning sideways, she checked her bustle and bow, making sure they were straight. Everything was as orderly as it could be. Would Blake like what he saw? Would he think her too short? Her light brown hair too nondescript?
Flicking a piece of lint off her bodice, she turned and faced the door. She would know soon enough. After more than a year of correspondence, Blake knew everything about her, and he had adamantly insisted that none of it mattered. He’d fallen in love with her through her enchanting missives, and he wanted her for his wife.
A vicious knock rattled the glass in the transom, and Sophie jumped. The apprehension racing through her was less about meeting Blake and more about the fact that she hadn’t told her parents about him. They would have cut off her correspondence faster than their gardener could lop off the head of a snake. But it was too late now. She attempted to swallow the lump lodged in her throat, but it refused to move.
Her mother walked in, her whole face pinched like a prune, and quickly closed the door. She stood there facing it for a long moment, her head down, then heaved a loud, exaggerated sigh.
Not a good sign.
Finally, her mother turned. “You have a guest, Sophia—a male guest.” One eyebrow lifted. “Would you care to explain to me how you are acquainted with this man, especially since neither your father nor I have ever met him?”
Sophie pressed a hand to her throat. She knew this wouldn’t be easy. “His name is Blake Sheppard. He and I have been corresponding for over a year.”
Her mother’s brown eyes widened. “A year? But how? I’ve never seen a letter from him in the mail.”
Ducking her head, Sophie stilled her hands and held them in front of her. “Ruthie sent and received them for me. Blake is her cousin—and a gentleman.”
“A gentleman doesn’t go behind the backs of a young woman’s parents to contact her.” Maintaining her stiff stance, her mother puckered her lips. “So, you’ve been deceiving your father and me?”
Wincing, Sophie turned toward the front window. “Would you have allowed me to correspond with Blake if I’d told you about him?”
“Proper ladies don’t exchange letters with men they’ve never been introduced to, and certainly not without parental approval.”
Drawing a steadying breath, Sophie turned to face her mother. She’d known this would be a battle. “Mother, please. Blake is a good man. Ask me anything about him.”
“There’s no need. We will go out to the parlor, share a cup of tea, and then you’ll make excuses that will send him on his way. Is that clear?”
Sophie gasped. “But he’s traveled so far, and I’ve waited so long to meet him.” She despised the pleading in her voice. Why couldn’t her parents let her grow up like her sister? A wheeze squeaked out of her throat. She had to stay calm. The last thing she wanted was to have an attack in front of Blake.
Her mother moved closer, her expression softening. She took Sophie’s hand. “You know how things are, dear. You had no business getting that young man’s hopes up.”
“That young man is my fiancé, Mother.”
“Fiancé—why, that’s absurd! You know you can’t lead a normal life.”
Closing her eyes, Sophie fought back tears. Why did her parents seek to limit her? Given the chance, she was certain she could be a proper wife and mother, but her parents just wanted to coddle her and keep her close. “You have to face the fact that I’m grown up. I want to live a normal life.” She hurried past her mother and reached for the door handle.
“But you are not normal, dear. Your father and I only want to protect you. We couldn’t bear to lose you, and you know we’ve come close to doing that very thing on several occasions.”
Sophie shuddered at the declaration. Her mother’s words rang in her ears: You are not normal. Yes, she had a breathing problem; but, as she’d gotten older, the spells had happened less often. Maybe in time, they’d go away altogether. Her parents were afraid to let her live as her sister did. If she didn’t get away from them, she’d become a spinster—if she wasn’t one already. She stiffened her back and pasted on a smile, trying to ignore the pain of her mother’s chastisement. Blake was waiting.
She opened the door and stepped into the entryway, her gaze searching for the man she’d dreamed about so many times. Blake stood in front of the parlor sofa, speaking with her father. He hadn’t noticed her yet.
“I’m sorry you’ve wasted your time traveling all this way, Mr. Sheppard,” her father said. “But, as I’ve already stated, my daughter is not in the habit of receiving male visitors.”
Blake’s eyebrows drew together, his shoulders slumping, as he looked down at the carpet. Sophie blew out several breaths and tried to calm herself, then hurried through the entryway into the parlor, avoiding her father’s glare. Her gaze latched onto Blake’s, and she saw the confusion in his hazel eyes. He offered a tentative smile. “Miss Davenport, a pleasure to finally meet you.”
She smiled, her cheeks warming, as she curtsied. “I’ve looked forward to this moment for a very long time.” She waved a hand toward her father, and noticed that her mother had followed her into the room. “I apologize, but I failed to tell my parents about your arrival.” Because I knew just how they would respond. “I fear they are both a bit surprised.” An understatement of mammoth proportions, if ever there was one.
Sophie gathered her courage and turned to her father. “I see you’ve met Blake, Father.” Her throat tightened at his stern stare. Another wheeze squeaked out. “B-Blake is my fiancé.”
Her father’s eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open. A pomegranate color climbed up his neck, turning his ears red. He turned his fiery gaze on Blake. “You presume a lot, young man. Did Sophie not inform you that she is not fully well? She is not in a position to accept an offer of marriage.”
Blake cleared his throat and straightened, as if he wasn’t ready to give up the battle. “Yes, sir, she told me, but I thought—” His gaze captured Sophie’s, and then he glanced at the floor again. He shuffled his feet, as if he were trying to figure out a new dance step. “I thought Sophie—uh, Miss Davenport—was free to make her own decisions, sir. I’m sorry that she failed to inform you of my interest in her.”
“Inform me?” Her father puffed up like a tom turkey whose hens were in danger. “A daughter doesn’t ‘inform’ a father that she is planning to marry a stranger. A decent fellow seeks permission before approaching a man’s daughter.”
Blake swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “I’m sorry, sir.”
As if an angry fist clutched Sophie’s throat, she felt it closing. She expelled a wheeze, and Blake shot a glance in her direction. Her father’s tirade blended with the words her mother had uttered, causing an ache within her so painful, she didn’t know if she could bear it. She was losing Blake, and they’d only just met. Was she doomed to live with her overprotective parents the rest of her life?
No!
She wouldn’t.
She’d fight for Blake. He was worth it.
She opened her mouth to defend her fiancé, but the sound that came out more resembled the bleat of an ailing goat than her own voice. Humiliation blistered her cheeks.
Blake took a step backward, away from her, his handsome face drawn in a scowl.
“You see, Mr. Sheppard, the slightest excitement can set off one of my daughter’s attacks.” Father turned to Sophie’s mother. “Ring for some coffee, if you will. It seems to help our Sophie’s spells.”
Spells. Attacks. What would Blake think?
Sophie held out her hand to him. Instead of taking it, he cast another worried glanced at her father. She sucked in another wheezy breath, struggling to stay clam in the midst of such turmoil. The room tilted. Sophie closed her eyes until the spinning stopped. All was silent for several long moments, except for her screeching breaths.
When her eyelids fluttered open, Blake met her gaze with an apology in his eyes. She knew in that moment she’d lost him.
He sighed. “Perhaps I have been too hasty. I sincerely apologize, Miss Davenport, but I must withdraw my offer of marriage. I hope you and your parents can forgive me for troubling you so.”
Tears stung Sophie’s eyes. She held out her hand again, hoping—praying—he’d take hold of it. “No, please—”
He skirted around her as if she were a leper, nodded to her mother, then snatched his hat off the hall tree and rushed out the door.
Sophie collapsed in the nearest chair and watched her dreams march down the sidewalk and out of sight. Tears blurred her vision as all hope of a future with Blake died. How could her parents be so cruel as to not even allow Blake to express his interest in her? How could they embarrass her so?
Her father walked to her and leaned over. “Try to calm down, Sophia.”
She jumped up so fast, her head almost rammed his chin. He stumbled backward. The room swerved as she struggled for a decent breath. “How c-could you, Father?”
A wave of guilt washed over his face. “It’s for your own good, you know.”
She clutched the end table for support for a moment, then stumbled past him.
He took her arm. “Here, let me help you, precious.”
“No! Please.” She yanked away. “I can…take care of…myself. I’m a grown woman, and you both need to f-face that fact.” She inhaled a decent breath and then charged on, by pure willpower. “I’m twenty-two and not your little girl anymore. Stop sheltering me…let me live my life. It’s mine to live, not yours to stifle.”
The flash of pain in her father’s eyes only made her feel worse. Her shoes tapped across the entryway as she hurried back to her room—the former library, where her parents had relegated her, as if she were a pariah. She shut the door and collapsed on her bed, wanting to cry but knowing that doing so would only make breathing harder. She slammed her fist against her pillow. “Why, God? Why can’t my parents let me grow up?”
She’d had such hopes. Thought that when her parents met Blake, they’d see what a quality man he was. But they hadn’t even given him a chance. Could she have been mistaken about him? She smacked the bed, a futile outlet for her frustrations and disappointments. Blake hadn’t bothered to fight for her one bit; he’d fled out the door the first chance he’d gotten. She’d tried to prepare him—to warn him about her episodes—but she must have failed.
She barked a cough that sounded like a seal she’d once seen at the menagerie in New York City’s Central Park. Sophie pushed up into a sitting position, in order to breathe better. Blinking, she attempted to force away her tears, but new ones came like the spring rains that flooded the banks of the Mississippi River. Why had God cursed her with this hateful condition?
The door opened, and her mother entered, carrying a tray. Coffee. She despised the foul-tasting stuff, but it was thought to be helpful to people with asthma, as were garlic, whiskey, and a number of other nasty-tasting concoctions.
“How are you, dear?”
Sophie slid back down on the bed and turned to face the wall. She didn’t want to talk—couldn’t talk.
“Don’t be that way. You need to drink this coffee.”
She shook her head.
“Turn over, Sophia.” Her mother’s tone left no room for refusal.
She obeyed but didn’t look at her mother. Instead, she started counting the thin, blue lines in the wallpaper—all nine hundred sixteen of them—as she’d done a thousand other times. Focusing on the task would keep her from weeping and from lashing out in anger.
Her mother blew out a loud breath, then held out the coffee cup. “Drink this.”
Sophie shook her head. “Doesn’t help.” She sucked in a breath, thankful that this episode was a mild one and already beginning to pass, in spite of the day’s traumatic events.
Her mother set the cup back on the tray with a loud clatter and stared across the room. “Whatever made you do such a thing? Don’t you know that young man must have spent hard-earned money to come here? Taken time away from his job, assuming he has one? You gave him false hopes, Sophia, and now he’s wasted a year of his life pursuing a woman he can never have.”
Sophie clenched her eyes shut, losing count of the lines. Did her mother not care that her heart was breaking?
Guilt nibbled its way into her mind like a mouse in a sack of grain. She hadn’t thought how things would affect Blake if they turned sour. She’d been so certain everything would work out in their favor. So certain that she could persuade her parents to let them marry, that she hadn’t considered the negative side. But her mother was right about one thing. Blake had taken leave from his job as bookkeeper for a shoe factory in Chicago so that he could travel to St. Louis to meet her. He had wasted his time and money to come here.
And it was all her fault.
She sucked in a sob.
Her mother patted her shoulder. “There, there. Things will work out.”
Yes, her father would go back to running his company. Her mother would attend her social clubs and church functions. Her sister would continue as a happily married wife and soon-to-be mother, while Sophie would continue her boring existence as a lonely spinster living in her parents’ home.
The bed lifted on one side as her mother stood and quietly left the room. After the door closed, Sophie sat up and stared out the window, at the very place she’d first seen Blake. She hated feeling sorry for herself, and she normally didn’t, but today, her emotions were raw.
She rose from the bed and crossed the room to her desk, where her Bible lay. She picked it up and hugged it to her chest as she gazed out at the garden. Bright yellow butterflies flitted from flower to flower. A big bumblebee disappeared in a clump of pink azaleas. The beauty of God’s creation never failed to cheer her, even on the saddest of days.
Sophie blew out a loud sigh. “Forgive me, Lord, if I’ve been selfish.” She hugged the Bible tighter. “But please, Father, make a way for me to break free from my parents. To prove to them—and to myself—that I can stand on my own. That I can take care of myself. And please, Lord, if it be Your will, send me a man someday who will love me for the woman I am and overlook my…flaws.”
Tears pooled in her eyes, and her throat tightened. “But if it is Your will for me to remain in my parents’ home and to never marry, help me to accept that and to be content.”
If that was the Lord’s will, He certainly had a monumental task ahead.





*I have not read this book therefore I cannot give my opinion. I posted this because I am interested in this book and thought some of you guys might be to! :) ~ASC

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Calling Review!!!

The Calling Review by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Book Description:
Book Two in the Inn at Eagle Hill series.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers her trademark twists, turns, and tender romance in this delightful and exciting visit to the deceptively quiet community of Stoney Ridge.

Twenty-year-old Bethany Schrock is restless. Her love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending the incredibly hot summer days wading through a lifetime's accumulation of junk at the home of five ancient Amish sisters. About the only thing that holds her interest is the spirited and dangerously handsome Jimmy Fisher---and he seems bent on irritating her to no end.

When the sly old sisters and a guest at the Inn get Bethany involved in running the local soup kitchen and starting a community garden, she suddenly finds herself wondering, Shootfire! How did that happen? Despite her newfound purposefulness, a gnawing emptiness about a childhood mystery continues to plague her. Encouraged by Jimmy Fisher, she will seek out the answers she craves---and uncover a shocking secret that will break her heart, heal it, and point her to love.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/stlG8

Read an excerpt: http://ow.ly/stlIM

Meet the author: Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your mobile device! Download the Free App!http://bit.ly/10Tygyi

Learn more about Suzanne at: http://suzannewoodsfisher.com

My Opinion:
I really like this sweet read!  Just like the first in the series Suzanne throws in twists after turns!  The Calling is more about Bethany and what she's gonna go through.  I really liked getting to know this character more and from the beginning I was hooked and shocked at what Bethany finds!  :D  I always loved the Jimmy Fisher/Bethany relationship and I really love all the growing these two characters go through!  A lot of growing and changing comes in these pages where all of the characters are concerned actually.  Mim's, Mrs. Miracle letters continue and this is really the part that left me wanting.  There is one letter in particular that I wanted more from.  Suzanne also adds new characters along with the old, and I love the way she blends Amish with English.  The latest guest to the Inn at Eagle Hill is one that I grew to love from the very beginning!  She really helps Bethany through her journey all while God leads her to find her own place and purpose.  I love the awesome messages as well as the pace of the story.  Surprise returns, shocking revelations, and possibly new secrets as well as answers to old ones.  The Calling is a wonderful journey that I liked just as much if not more than the first!  I can't wait for the next book to see where these characters lives go next!!!

Songs: "He Leadeth Me" by The Cluster Pluckers, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" by Alan Jackson, "My God Is Real (Album Version)" Johnny Cash, and "Standing On The Promises" by Alan Jackson
Some songs may be added in time.

Psalm 27, Galatians 4:6, and Psalm 3:4

~ASC

*I received this book because I was interested and requested it.  This in no way affected my opinion and the above are my true thoughts on what I read. ~ASC


Monday, January 20, 2014

THE CALLING | Chances to win an iPad, Kindle, or Nook from Suzanne Woods Fisher!

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling, by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!
 
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Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner's choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

The Calling Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter Today | 1/20 - 2/8!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Dancing Master Review!!!

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Book Description:
Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul---and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master---a man her mother would never approve of---but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village . . . and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/s7Yl1

About the author: Julie Klassen loves all things Jane---Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Learn more about Julie at:http://julieklassen.com

My Opinion:
Footloose in Regency England!  LOL!  This was my first Julie Klassen and I LOVED it!!!  She made it intriguing from the start.  It was nicely paced with, not necessarily lulls, but there were places I could set it down and pick it up again later.  Which was great since I do have to sleep! :D  From the prologue this book grabbed me and took me on a great story with twists and surprises!  Just when I though I knew what was coming Julie threw more twists in!  This plot REALLY has a footloose feel all the way through, which I loved, with characters and personalities reflecting those of the movie.  But it is also different enough to stand on it's own feet with slight differences to fit into the time.  I LOVE the spiritual lessons and messages and the end of this book is awesome!  As a matter of fact, though I enjoyed the book as a whole, the last few chapters were my favorite and really made this book for me!  I would have liked a little more background of the dances, but I loved the way Julie described them.  For example there is a sword dance mentioned. but I would have liked it if she went further into the history of why it was done and how it came about...but maybe that's just me... The characters are fantastic, from characters you immediately love, to those you grow to enjoy, and then there are certain characters that make it hard to turn the other cheek.  I love how Julie ties them all together and wraps up the end.  The epigraphs at every chapter were great and added another element to the book!  It's made my Favorite Books list!!!  P.S. I also must compliment Karen Schurrer for her editing of this book; she did a fabulous job!

Songs: "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" by Chris Tomlin,
"Rock Of Ages" by Mike Curb Congregation
"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today" by Mike Curb Congregation,
"Traditional Hornpipe 138" by Ellery Klein & Ryan Lacey, 
"Two Hornpipes (Tortuga)" by Hans Zimmer, 
"The Sailors Hornpipe" by Whistling Tom, 
"Hornpipe from Water Music Suite" by George Frideric Handel, George Szell,
"Foursome Reel" The Auld Reekie Scottish Dance Band,
"Highland Reels" by The Riverside Ceilidh Band,
"The Highland Wedding." by Caledonian Strathspey & Reel Society,
"North Highland Reels #18 and #21 / Nine Pint Coggie /" by Sandy King Laura Risk,
"Oranges And Lemons" The Rainbow Collections,
"Mozart, Minuet for Harpsichord K05" by Musica da Camera Orchestra,
and
"For The Beauty Of The Earth" performed by BarlowGirl

Matthew 5:23-24
~ASC

*I received this book for the purpose of reviewing it.  This is no way affected my opinion and the above are my true thoughts about The Dancing Master!


The Headmistress of Rosemere “School” Your Desk Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Don't miss Sarah Ladd's latest Regency novel, The Headmistress of Rosemere. She is celebrating the release of book two in her Whispers on the Moors series with a fun "School" Your Desk Kindle Fire Giveaway and an Author Chat Facebook Party!

rosemere-400

Between January 17–28, visit Sarah Ladd's Facebook Page to enter to win a new giveaway each day and be entered to win a Kindle Fire grand prize. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on January 28th! (Don't have a Facebook account? Enter here.)

RSVP today for Sarah's The Headmistress of Rosemere Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Sarah will be hosting a book chat, testing your Regency trivia skills, announcing the winner of the "School" Your Desk Giveaway, and giving away books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving partygoers an exclusive look at the next book in the Whispers on the Moors series!

So grab your copy of The Headmistress of Rosemere and hope to see you on the evening of January 28th! (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


DON’T MISS A MOMENT OF THE FUN; RSVP TODAY. HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 28th!

Sarah Ladd The Headmistress of Rosemere
Enter Today - 1/17 - 1/28!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast With Sharon A. Lavy

cover pic
Deadly Secret By Sharon A Lavy
About the Book
The covering on Evalena Davidson’s head invites all kinds of confidences and sharing, a blessing on Denton Community Hospital’s oncology ward. But people expect her to be perfect, which makes living up to the promise of her Old German Baptist uniform a challenge. Pete Neper, head of the sanitation department senses unrest among the employees but finds it a challenge to track down the cause. Danni Wagoner, another oncology nurse is implicated in a drug scam. Old German Baptist Brethren with their adherence to traditional ways do not get involved with the law. But how can Evalena turn her back on a friend? This unlikely trio put their lives and reputation at risk to uncover a deadly secret in an attempt to identify a killer before someone else dies.


Sharon3Sharon A Lavy Writer of Inspirational Women's fiction with a touch of Suspense. Sharon A Lavy lives with her husband in SW Ohio. When not reading, writing, or sewing for her family, she enjoys traveling with her husband in the German crafted Flight Design airplane they call PaPa. Sharon is best known in the novel writing community, as that German Baptist lady. In the Old German Baptist community she's a dressmaker, a pattern maker, and the sister who writes. And in her own mind she's a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, but above all a child of God. ~~ Her greatest desire is to be a woman after God's own heart~~ Sharon has a heart for hurting women, and writes women's fiction. Because when~~it's all said and done~~It's all about relationships.

Follow Sharon A Lavy
 
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Sharon A Lavy! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Disclaimer: I have NOT read this book.  Therefore I can not give my opinion on it's content.  I found this book description to be very interesting and I am personally interested in reading this book.  So I signed up for this book blast in case any of my readers are interested as well.  :) 
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Rev.22:21 
~ASC

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The Beautiful Pretender Review & GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

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