30 June 2015

Blinded by Love by Melissa Jagears - Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The Convenient Bride Collection from Barbour (2015)

The Convenient Bride Collection (Barbour, July 2015)
Blinded by Love by Melissa Jagears

Five Stars *****

One of the things I loved about this novella was that Melissa featured a "mature" romance with older hero and heroine.

Melissa Jagears' novella, Blinded by Love, is a refreshingly unique piece of Christian historical fiction. Her heroine, Margaret, is forty-seven!!! Shocking in Christian romance for a heroine to be this old. I've been told for the CBA market that I couldn't make my leading ladies over thirty five! So when I read Margaret's age I sent up a "Huzzah!!!"

The hero, Neil, is a prominent, wealthy, and handsome man. He's also losing his eyesight. He and Margaret have been friends, or "debating partners" if you will, for some time. Margaret is very tall (taller than me even! She's 5'11" and I'm 5'9") and she describes herself as plain enough that she could pass as a man if she cut her hair and tall and boxy--nothing feminine about her. Yet it soon becomes clear that her sister who received all the good looks, and her family are dysfunctional--not just that, I'd say they are clearly toxic. Neil is an intelligent man and compassionate. You'll love reading about their romance!!!

Bibliotherapy: For those who have thought love might never find them, this is a great later-in-life marriage story (sort of like rooting for Father Tim in the Mitford Series!). Also a good read for those who are loyal even to people who deserve no loyalty--those in toxic relationships. And Neil's disability is relatable to those not only losing their eyesight but losing other faculties such as mobility or hearing. Also, Margaret and Neil are both "socially awkward" and I think Melissa Jagears may be giving a slight wink at them possibly tending toward what I would call residual Asperger's--someone who has overcome the issues to a large part but still has some difficulties. I hesitate to even put it that way as it may not have been her intent. But for those overcoming mild ASD, this may be a good bibliotherapy read. It's a delightful novella, regardless!

Disclaimer: I read the book through NetGalley's program and am under no compulsion to post a positive review.

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of Melissa's new novel, A Bride at Last, this week, in paperback, and also another giveaway of either her new novel OR this Convenient Brides novella collection -- Readers choice of format ebook or paperback. You can enter three times this week by leaving a comment on each blog post.

Question: How old is "too old" for a hero and heroine? Would you purchase a full length novel if you knew the heroine was over forty? Why or why not?

28 June 2015

Melissa & Ross Jagears - Overcoming Addictions

Author Melissa Jagears

I thought I’d co-write an article with my husband on Overcoming With God since I wanted to highlight the struggle with addictions that I’ve seen with my husband through the hero of A Bride at Last.
When we first met, my husband was a chain-smoking alcoholic. He was a lot of other bad things too, but there was something about this blond chick he worked with that made him decide to risk dying by bursting into flames by crossing the threshold of a church. (Thankfully he decided to do that before church started to spare the congregants seeing such a gory death, and thankfully he didn’t actually burst into flames either.) And later when he accepted Christ, the addiction to alcohol was gone immediately.
Whoa, wait a second. . . that’s not overcoming, that’s a miracle. Yes, but the addiction to nicotine was left for him to struggle through. His main motivation to give up smoking was for that same blond chick who said she didn’t want to marry a smoker, so he traded one addiction for another, cigarettes for nicotine gum. Then that newly married wife after a year of paying for expensive gum said the budget couldn’t handle it any longer.

Our first picture together in 2000. Without a doubt, he has some nicotine gum in one of those cheeks!
Wanting to remain married….well, sort of, because that first year of marriage is hard! :)….He slowly traded out the nicotine gum to chew many, many packages of regular gum.
Plain gum is basically going cold turkey which is probably the best way to begin putting an addiction behind you, but it’s also probably best to take off of work because you’ll really want to kill people. Randomly during the years following, the wife would ask him if he’d smoked, and he’d always proudly reply ‘no.’
The wife was happy with the gum expense and the hubby was trucking along when someone brought a can of vanilla Skoal to work. Having chewed as a kid, being a sucker for vanilla, and having years of being off nicotine under his belt, he thought taking one dip wouldn’t be a bad thing. By the end of the day, he had his own can. And he wasn’t about to tell his wife. And since she only occasionally asked if he smoked, he could still tell her the truth when he answered, ‘no.”
And then the years of lying about needing candy bar cash at work and sharpening people’s knives to get a little more untraceable money began—and the weekend withdrawals at home …which got so bad that he’d hide cans of chew out in the woods so when they fought, he could stomp off to the woods and get a fix. Of course, during those years he blamed all the anger and fallouts on his wife, not even realizing that his two days of withdrawals every weekend were turning him into the jerk. It was all his wife’s fault. Why was she being such a witch now? In order to deal with his suddenly not-so-nice wife, he needed a chew to be able to deal with her “calmly” yet he couldn’t let her know.
The evil of addiction convinced him the longer he stayed addicted, that if his wife ever found out, she’d leave him. Some of the things she said seemed to be downright mean (things she later convinced him she’d never said), and he knew for sure she’d kick him to the curb once she found out. He prayed God would do something to force him to come clean to his wife and God answered by giving him a black spot on his lip. Having to get a doctor’s appointment that he couldn’t hide from the wife forced him to come clean. That night, his wife didn’t kick him to the curb, but rather helped him research the best ways to quit. The best thing she found was an online community of chewers wanting to quit called Quit Smokeless where people who understood the evil that addiction is banded together to quit. And strangely the next day, his wife took him gun shopping ….what? She wasn’t packing him up and throwing him out, but happily taking him shopping for something he’d wanted for awhile because she was so relieved to find out he didn’t hate her?

She’d wondered for two years if he’d hated her and would be leaving sometime soon since those withdrawal weekends had her dealing with a very angry husband who didn’t seem to want to be anywhere near his family. She was happy to find out that it wasn’t her, but the chemical mess in his head.
Those chemicals are evil, though he’s been fifteen years quit of smoking and seven years quit of chewing, he still often dreams that he has failed and wakes up in the morning disgusted with himself for caving and believing he has to start quitting all over again. And then his coffee helps him realize it was just a bad dream, a nightmare so real he can feel the desire for more coursing through him. Every time he smells a cigar or sees someone chew he wants ‘just one more.’  The desire, according to most everyone he knows who’s quit, never goes away. But every day is a little bit easier to say no.
Being a proud fellow, he didn’t pray as much as he should have while quitting, but that is definitely something that helps. Surrounding yourself with supportive family and Christians is good, but you really need to find someone who understands, who can tell you about the nightmares, the never ending temptations, the feelings you’ll have to battle. It’s essential to commiserate with someone who understands and feels exactly like you do. Whether that’s a personal relationship with someone or joining an online support group, find someone who’s been there before.
He never would have been able to quit on his own. The desire is far too strong. But though it is good to have the support of others, without God, remaining quit would be even harder.

And now his wife occasionally asks if he has smoked, chewed, snorted, shot up, huffed, and every other variation of taking in a controlled substance she can think of to let him know he can’t fudge the truth again.

CFP: Thanks Melissa and Ross for sharing! By our testimonies we overcome!!!

Giveaway: We're giving away a paperback copy of Melissa's latest novel, A Bride at Last, this week and a copy of her novella, choice of ebook or paperback in Barbour's new anthology The Convenient Bride Collection. Comment on any of the blog posts to enter. Also, each blog post counts individually (if you comment on each post you get three entries!) 

25 June 2015

Diana's Review Of 'The Reckoning' By MaryLu Tyndall

The Reckoning By MaryLu Tyndall
Ransom Press, June 2015

Reviewed By Diana Flowers
Five Stars!~

Adventure On The High Seas!
With pen in hand, er quill rather, Marylu Tyndall has written a story of a love that transcends timeas a disheartened young woman from the 21st century suddenly finds herself on a mesmerizing shipboard journey through frothy, glittering, turquoise waters surrounded by a band of pillaging, filthy, swashbuckling pirates...300 years in the past!

24 year old Morgan Shaw feels virtually hopeless upon finding out she has stage 3 cancer, and is unceremoniously dumped by her shallow boyfriend because of it. When she creeps into the hold of an old pirate ship replica at San Diego’s Annual Tall Ship Festival to avoid seeing her ex, she hits her head and awakens to find herself on a real pirate ship, The Reckoning. At first Morgan thinks the pirates are all actors hired by her wealthy father to distract her, but realization soon begins to hit home.

The Reckoning just happens to belong to one of the most notorious and vicious pirates to sail the Caribbean, Rowan Dutton. Rowan Dutton has but two things on his mindburied treasure and other men's wives, and Morgan is desperate to get away from this filthy (albeit handsome) pirate and return home. But something about this lady with her odd clothes and speech enthralls him and he playfully nicknames her Lady Minx. When Morgan unknowingly betrays Rowan, danger encompasses The Reckoning and everyone aboard. Will Morgan make it safely back to the 21st century?...and if so can she bear to leave Rowan behind? And does any of it matter since she is living on borrowed time anyway? Could it be that God has a plan amidst all of this turmoil?

What an amazing, unpredictable read with more twists and turns than a treasure map! Initially I was not sure about the time travel aspect of the story, but MaryLu Tyndall handles this theme so pragmatically that I stayed glued to the pageswith emotions as tossed as a ship upon the tumultuous seas. I was so torn between wanting Morgan to make it home for her chemo treatments, but hoping she might stay as well. I loved the humorous interplay between the main characters; they truly loved to egg each other on! The story of God's redemption and love was beautifully interwoven throughout the storyline, and the conclusion was surprising indeed! One of Ms. Tyndall's best to date in my opinion. Be sure to grab a copy today, me hearties! 

This book may be purchase through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below and you will have a chance to WIN one of TWO copies (one being an e-book) of The Reckoning!

23 June 2015

Noela reviews THE RECKONING by MaryLu Tyndall

The Reckoning
The Reckoning (Legacy of the King’s Pirates #5)
Ransom Press; 1edition (June 5, 2015)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****

 ‘The Reckoning’ is a thrilling high seas adventure that ships the reader back in time to experience swashbuckling pirates in the Caribbean with all of its treachery and peril, a beguiling romance, and a faith that transcends time! From beginning to end, ‘The Reckoning’ is as invigorating as the salty sea spray on your face and as mesmerizing as golden fingers of sunlight glistening on turquoise waters.

Twenty-four year old Morgan Shaw is visiting San Diego’s Annual Tall Ship Festival with friends. Rocking boats aren’t her stomach’s favorite thing but somehow she finds herself in the bowels of an old pirate ship replica, while evading the boyfriend that had just jilted Morgan upon learning of her cancer. She feels wretched, alone, and unloved. She’s dying, and she also suffers from OCD and anxiety. Could anything get worse? How about ending up on a pirate ship, 300 years past? That’s exactly what happened when Morgan wakes up in the stinky sludge of the ships hold in the midst of a fierce pirate battle. She would have been sent right over the edge had it not been for blissful ignorance! Morgan reasons it has to be her flagrantly wealthy father staging a lavish production to get her mind off her troubles. Little does she know she’s in the midst of a ship full of unscrupulous and cutthroat pirates!

Captain (and notorious pirate) Rowan Dutton, is busily hunting treasure and almost has it in his grasp when a young woman in the most peculiar attire (known today as jeans and t-shirt) appears on deck, creating a colossal distraction. Angry but fascinated with this little minx and her strange words and fearless boldness, Rowan wonders if she is just foolishly brave or a complete lunatic!

Will Morgan ever make it back to 2015? Or will she die from lack of treatment? How can Morgan survive in a world so primitive and dangerous? Will she discover where she really is? And finally, the big question… Can this girl with all her problems, find love and peace with a pirate?

What an intriguing premise for a plot! From a depressing harsh reality to a frightening fantasy, this epic tale was exhilarating, unpredictable, and brilliantly written. Though there are centuries between Morgan and Rowan, the dialogue was authentic and deliciously entertaining. Should the concept of time-travel give you pause, I assure you that the author accomplishes it masterfully. As she does with the twists and surprises that you don’t see coming! Awash with humor and faith, this story has it all. Highly recommended!!

Rowan's ship - the 'Reckoning'
The secret treasure map


'The Reckoning' can be found at these places: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below (and your e-mail if we don't know you) and you will have a chance to WIN one of TWO copies (one being an e-book) of The Reckoning!

21 June 2015

Time for Tea & Romance - 7 Author Event This Tuesday

Tuesday, July 23rd, SEVEN Christian Historical Romance authors are celebrating their books on Facebook!!!
I LOVE online parties! How about this lineup? I will be kicking us off at 6 pm.

Carrie Fancett Pagels 6:00 pm
Each author has a time slot of thirty minutes. I’ll be up first at 6 pm.  Each Author has their own graphic like mine, above, that the talented Melissa Jagears made for us

Gina Welborn 6:30 pm

JulieLessman 7:00 pm

MaryluTyndall 9:00 

Carrie Turanasky's Grand Prize is fabulous - tea cups, a beautiful tablecloth, and tea and goodies!  

MaryLu is giving away a lovely ruby necklace. There will be copies of books and other things such as an adorable children's tea set during Melissa Jaguars' giveaway - so feel free to share the party with your little girls!!!

GIVEAWAY: Guess what, I have a secret giveaway that is ONLY for OWG BLOG FOLLOWERS who comment on this post and come to the party - a necklace and earring set like the one I'm giving away at the Tea Party! Answer this question: IF you've read The Lumberjacks' Ball give a HINT about what teacups and tea parties have to do with the book (NO SPOILERS though please!!!) IF you have NOT read the book yet, what is your guess as to the connection?

16 June 2015

Jen Turano's In Good Company -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

In Good Company by Jen Turano
Jen Turano has turned out another wonderful novel! Loved this story.
Five Stars *****

Three orphaned children from Boston are left with their father's best friend, Everett Mulberry, as caretaker--except he's doing a lousy job. And he needs a nanny badly. Meanwhile, Millie Longfellow, a young woman orphaned as an infant herself is kicked out of yet another job caretaking children. She seems to invite mishaps and has a most unusual approach to child management which in her case should be entitled "Child Imaginement!" Millie is certainly creative!

Everett has a nice story arc as he begins as a rather self-absorbed wealthy young man engaged to a woman the reader will love to hate! Caroline is one of the shallowest and most devious characters I've come across in a while and yet poor Everett doesn't see it And even his choice of friends, including one of his closest "friends", reveals Everett's poor judgement. Thankfully he is surrounded by people who are looking our for his best. Over the course of the story, Everett's eyes are opened and he grows as a man and in his faith.

Yachts in a Massachusetts harbor

Meanwhile Millie's "aunt" is trying to make a lady out of her and have her dress the part--especially when Everett' fiance insists they must "do" the season at the ocean. Off they trek, with the children (whom Caroline would prefer were immediately shipped off to a boarding school). The "cottage" is more of a mansion.

The bereaved children, who've really not had a chance to properly grieve, are still looking for their parents to return on their yacht, which has gone missing from Boston harbor. There is a suspenseful back story that comes to the forefront at the end of the book, with some very exciting twists!

Populated by an entire cast of endearing characters, you'll enjoy them all end wish you could stay in their story world to know them better! Thankfully we should get to spend more time with Millie's best friend, Lucetta, an actress with secrets, in the next book--at least if the Reverend has his way (see the epilogue!)

Disclosure: I read this book on NetGalley and am under no compunction to post a positive review.

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of In Good Company by the amazing Jen Turano this week. Comment on each blog post this week to enter!

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