29 October 2015

Bonnie reviews Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman

Bonnie reviews Isle of Hope- by Julie Lessman
***** 5 stars

"When guided by love, the truth never ruins hope, it only sets it free. Not only does our God redeem and restore human beings, he redeems and restores the mistakes they make as well, turning tears of mourning into tears of joy". (Isle of Hope)

When 18-year-old "wild child" Lacey Carmichael is kicked out of the house by her heart-surgeon father, Ben, numerous hearts are broken when she flees to California with a friend. Eight years later, Lacey has become a woman of faith; though she returns home to Isle of Hope, Georgia to be the maid of honor in her cousin Nicki Phillips' wedding - her greater purpose is to reconcile with her estranged father and the two people she deserted without explanation: previous seminary-bound boyfriend Jack O'Bryen, and her best friend Cathleen (Cat) O'Bryen, Jack's sister.

However, the tables have turned: Jack, heart-broken by Lacey, and bitter over his pastor father Adam's affair with Lacey's mother, Karen - has turned away from God. Known as man about town "Doctor Swoon' by all the nurses, he is a pediatrician at Memorial Hospital. Lacey's guilt, low self-esteem, and the bitterness with which she is met, present huge obstacles in restoring relationships with two dysfunctional families. Numerous uncovered secrets, by both families, cause additional wounds which can only be mended by a God of hope and love.

When I write a Christian Fiction book review my prayer is always that it will honor both God and the book itself. There is no author whose work I love, and am inspired by, more than that of Julie Lessman. The passion and emotion with which she writes puts her work in a lofty category of it's own; I'm always amazed at the number of beautiful characters and stories she is able to weave within the pages of each book. I read 'Isle of Hope' twice - the first time deeply touched and inspired, the second time even more so.

I related to the warmth and realism of it's characters and their stories on a deep level - storing them in the recesses of my heart; identifying with some of their trials, re: my own younger life, made me love them even more. As with Julie's other books - God is the key around which the characters revolve; the humor from some characters, along with antics of adorable children, balancing the drama and angst. Scattered amongst my reading moments of tears, smiles, and joy were some of anger and shock, replaced by the inspiration and redemption of the characters through a loving God of hope and forgiveness.

Even though Christian Historical Fiction is generally my favorite book genre, and I loved each of Julie's ten books and two novellas in that genre, I feel Isle of Hope, her first Christian Contemporary Fiction, is her best work yet. I joyfully await book two of the series and the opportunity it will provide to reconnect with some beautiful, inspiring literary friends. 

GIVEAWAY: Our thanks to Julie Lessman for her generous provision of an eBook giveaway of 'Isle of Hope' to one blessed commenter from each of the two reviews of her book on OWG this week!  Answer this question: Do you primarily read historical romance or contemporary, and why?

27 October 2015

Noela reviews ISLE OF HOPE by Julie Lessman

Isle of Hope

Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love - Isle of Hope series, Book 1
Julie Lessman; 1 Edition (November 1, 2015)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 (shining) Stars *****

Rich in romance, reconciliation, and restoration

The Isle of Hope in Georgia—the sleepy, charming coastal community dotted with palms and pines and an expansive salty marshland—provides many a peaceful postcard setting. Though while the water-logged salt marsh buffers the populace from stormy seas, the drifting and fractured lives of some of the residents are about to be ripped open yet again; to endure soul-deep pain from Lacey Carmichael upon her return. The question is… will they allow healing to take place or will their wounds worsen like the decaying marsh grasses?

Painful memories, hurt feelings, broken hearts and broken trust… Lacey has returned to Georgia to make amends caused by her abrupt desertion eight years ago. It was a time when she was without faith, and muddling through reckless teenage rebellion and a volatile divorce between her parents after an affair. What made her run away from the people she loved, especially her ex-fiancĂ© Jack who had always comforted her? Eight years is a long time for unforgiveness to fester. Can Lacey’s father, Jack, and her friends forgive her, or have their feelings shifted beyond repair?

Pediatrician Jack O’Bryen, now nicknamed Dr. Doom, used to be happy. Back when he was with the girl he loved, possessing a strong faith in God, and a mom and dad he was proud of. All that fell apart when his pastor dad had an affair, and his girlfriend left him high and dry. Never the same, he lost his faith and his joy. And now the only girl he’s ever truly loved has returned a Christian and wants to build bridges. Can it be possible when Jack and Lacey are still miles apart in spirit? And will it be possible for all the relationships shredded by the affair between the two families—and by Lacey’s desertion—to find healing and new beginnings?

Punchy, passionate, and powerful!! That’s the sort of writing Julie Lessman delivers. From characters with raw, penetrating emotions that tied me up in knots and tears, to the most compelling, God-given story-thread I’ve ever read on forgiveness. This is a novel that has the potential to change your life. I know, because it’s made me believe in the impossible and given me hope where I had none. On top of all that; expect exquisite descriptive writing, two romances that squeeze your heart, and Julie’s trademark surprises! And God’s unfailing love. Highly recommended!!

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Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing 
love surrounds the one who trusts in Him. - Psalm 32:10

You can find ISLE OF HOPE for a bargain price at: AMAZON
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GIVEAWAY: Julie Lessman is generously donating TWO books this week for our giveaway! One winner will be chosen from my review, and the other winner from Bonnie Roof's review on Thursday!! As always, leave your email for contact purposes should you win. Use (at) and (dot) to protect yourself against spammers.

25 October 2015

Christmas Traditions 8-in-1 Collection - Guest Review by Tina Rice

Christmas Traditions
8 Christmas Novellas...Stories of Love at Christmas
    by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall,  
    Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Niki Turner and Gina Welborn

Reviewed by Tina St.Clair Rice, Guest Reviewer

1) A Nutcracker Christmas by Jennifer AlLee
Isabella Brandt is one of many ballerinas in the 1945 San Francisco Ballet Corps.  She, like the others, are trying out for a coveted position in the upcoming performance of the Nutcracker.  

Violinist Victor Randolf recently immigrated to America from Hungary and was fortunate to land a position in the Orchestra for the Ballet Corps.  As Isabella and Victor work together they form a closeness neither of them expected.  With Thanksgiving coming up, Isabella invites many of the ballerinas and Victor to her apartment.  After the delicious Thanksgiving meal, they gather in the living room enjoying coffee and listening to Victor play his violin.  An unexpected “guest” shows up, the last person Isabella expected to ever see again.  Beyond shocked, Isabella can only stare while her other guests leave.  What, how can this happen?  What does this mean for her future?

I like the way Jennifer weaves her story and shows her characters feelings, challenges, past hurts, hopes, dreams and faith.  Taking us backstage for a glimpse of the hard work it takes to produce a production like the Nutcracker and into their lives away from the stage. 

2) Eleven Pipers Piping by Angela Breidenbach
(CFP: This NEW RELEASE novella was only published this fall. The other novellas and short stories originally released last year. Angela lost her father last year while the collection was being written.)

Mirielle Sheehan is the music teacher at an exclusive church school for boys in the 1890's frontier town of Helena, Montana.  She is determined to help eleven abandoned young orphaned boys of various ages as they struggle to buy food and survive on their own as newsies—boys selling newspapers.  However, the school superintendent has given her a choice: either turn these rowdy street boys into model citizens or they will get sold into indenture or sent to the military—within the week.  

Evan Russell has been searching for his 6 year old son, Joseph, for sometime now.  After his wife died, he left Joseph in his brother's care while he went away to work.  However, Joseph is missing after a fire destroyed the home and family with it.  Is Joseph alive somewhere? He has to be!  Mirielle and Evan join forces to locate young Joesph with the help of the newsies.  Will they be able to find Joseph or is he really gone?  Praying for a miracle they enlist the citizens of Helena along with the newsies.  

This is a sweet and endearing story.  The 11 newsies certainly captured my heart and I so wanted them to find a safe, loving place to the streets.  Evan's heartbreaking search for his son had me in tears as he struggled to hold onto the hope that Joesph is still alive somewhere.  I like Mirielle's spirit, compassion and dedication to these young boys.  This is a story that will capture the hearts of the readers.

3) An Apple For Christmas by Darlene Franklin 

Ruby Nelson is the new teacher at an all girls school in 1895 Vermont.  She enjoys teaching these young girls, even the challenging ones.  There are twin girls, Pippin and Margil, in her class that have captured Ruby's heart.  The twins father, MacIntosh—Mac Cortland, owns an apple orchard he and his deceased wife started years earlier.  Before moving from New York, Ruby's background was in agricultural science involving apples and is very interested in the Mac's apple orchard.  She also finds her heart drawn to Mac.

It is fun that Mac and the twins are named after apples...which fits the story-line very well. Margil fell in love with Ruby right off but it took a little longer for Pippin. It was fun to watch the interaction between Ruby and Mac—some very humorous moments too.  The twins were delightful and full of plans for their father and teacher.  Will their plans turn out the way they hoped or will they fall far short?
An Apple for Christmas is full of humor, love, faith and apples—of course—making this a sweet story.

4) Christmas Lessons by Patty Smith Hall
As a child Claire Davenport learned she had Polo which left one of her legs weakened and her walking with a cane.  Because of her disability, she broke off her engagement two years ago to the love of her life, Billy Warner.

After the broken engagement Billy leaves Marietta to pursue his dream of coaching football.  Now back in Marietta, he accepts the head coach position at the school where Claire teaches.  Claire learns he is back and will be working at the school at a staff meeting.  Added to that, he will be helping Claire as she works to give Christmas to the needy families in the community.

Can Billy learn why Claire really broke their engagement?   As they work together will they find that they still love each other?  I like how the author shows that despite having a disability, it doesn't mean you can't live a full, active life...including love.  Misunderstandings, insecurities, redemption, forgiveness, love and faith are woven to create a sweet story.

5) Handcarved Christmas by Cynthia Hickey

Laura Worth lived in a small town in Missouri with her parents and is the oldest of their 10 children.  An advertisement in the town paper catches her eye for young single women to be brides for eligible men in Montana.  With nothing to keep her in Missouri this seems like an answer to her prayers so she starts up a correspondence with a perspective groom, Benjamin Cooper, or Ben.  After some time and prayer she concludes that she is to be Ben's bride and travels the long way to Montana.  Now she anxiously awaits her groom at the train station, peering out the window but only sees more snow falling, no groom in sight!  What has happened to him?  What should she do?  Finally hiring a driver to take her the two hours ride to Ben's home she arrives and knocks on the door.  Ben opens the door, puzzled why a young woman would be at his door step in the middle of a snow storm.  He learns that she is to be his bride!  Finding a note left by Ben's brother, Sam, explains that Laura is Sam's Christmas gift to Ben.  

To protect her reputation Ben has no choice now but to marry her since they were alone all night.  They return to town the next day and marry.  Of course, things don't go as smoothly as they would like.  Being strangers, they both have a lot to learn about each other and being married.  As they work side by side, along with Sam, they learn to care for each other.  Christmas is fast approaching and they each have their little secrets preparing for the holiday.  What will Christmas bring to this couple? 

Handcarved Christmas is a charming and sweet romance set in 1880 Montana where mail-order brides are common.  I like the way the author shows the characters struggles as they learn to live together and care for each other, their strengths, weaknesses and faith.  Great story!

6) The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Our hero/heroin live and work near Mackinaw City in Northern Michigan's logging camp in 1890.  Josephine-Jo Christy, daughter of the camp's owner, is the camps cook and longs to leave and find another life for herself.   She has vowed to leave once this camp site moves on to the next camp site where the white pines they harvest are plentiful.  Jo longs to marry and have a family but does not want to marry a lumberjack.  Tom Jeffries is a teacher but teaching jobs are scarce and pay little, so he finds a job with the Christy logging camp as a lumberjack to support himself and his widowed mother. 

Both Jo and Tom have prayed for God's leading in their lives and question His direction at times.  Tom challenges Jo to bake a fruitcake like his mothers', if she does he will marry her.  Jo takes up the challenge, not to marry him but to take him down a notch or two—he is way too cocky, and besides he is a lumberjack.  But over the months as they get to know each other and Jo bakes one fruitcake after another that doesn't meet Tom's specifications, Jo begins to rethink baking yet one more fruitcake.  Tom now has second thoughts on his challenge to Jo, he wants to marry her but not because of her baking a fruitcake.  Things don't go smoothly as the deadline gets closer.  Even though Jo's fruitcakes are not like Tom's mothers', each fruitcake she bakes spark romance in other unlikely couples. 

I loved the sparks between Jo and Tom, each trying not to admit to themselves that there is an attraction.  I like the way the author includes Jo and Tom's thoughts showing their uncertainty and how vulnerable they really are. The description of how remote the logging camp really is from the nearest town and the difficulty traveling back and forth gives us a glimpse of their way of life.  Those in the camp are more like family than co-workers and rely on each other daily.  No story would be complete without surprises, and this one includes some surprises along the way keeping the reader engrossed in the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would like to see more of the characters in a follow-up story. 

7) Sadie's Gift by Niki Turner

Sadie Hubbard is a nurse working in the local Preventorium in the early 1920's.  She cares for children who have or have been exposed to Tuberculosis (TB).  Her heart goes out to them and their families and wants to make each Christmas a very special one even if she has to sacrifice to do it.  

Nathan Wells is a man on a mission, to return his recently deceased brother's car to his parents and then be left alone with his grief.  As Sadie is walking across the icy street he swerves to avoid hitting her.  Angry, he informs Sadie that she has to pay for repairs to the car.  

Later when Sadie arrives at the boarding house in which she lives she runs into Nathan again as he is now staying there too until his car is repaired. Will they be able to get past their first meeting and work together for the children?  Can Sadie's actions reveal the true Spirit of Christmas to Nathan?  Can Nathan release his anger and grief? 

This is a very touching Christmas novella in many ways, a bit of suspense, range of emotions, humor, romance, redemption and Spirituality.  I love the way God's love is revealed through Sadie's heart and how she shares the true Spirit of Christmas. 

8) Holly Daze by Gina Welborn

This is a charming short novella set in 1880's Iowa at Christmas time.  This little town has a festival each year in which they continue years of superstition—the placing of a cherry twig into glasses of holy water by an unmarried maiden, Lena Reinhardt, to bring good fortune for that year.  James Holly, an English paleontologist, is in Iowa for a geological survey at the time of the festival.  While there one of his fossils is stolen, delaying his departure until it is found.

The character's struggles in this novella are clearly shown.  Struggles that even Christians have— like Lena and James. I like how faith, forgiveness and redemption is addressed and opens the eyes to God's forgiveness and what it means for the believer.  A bit of humor, faith, love and romance makes this a charming Christmas story.

 THANKS TINA for the reviews!!!

GIVEAWAY:  This #1 Amazon Bestseller in Christian Christmas stories continues to stay on the top five of the list even months after release! Now available in paperback, we're giving away a copy to one of our readers. (International winners ebook only.) Answer this question: Why do you read Christmas collections? 

22 October 2015

Diana Reviews A NOBLE MASQUERADE By Kristi Hunter

A Noble Masquerade By Kristi Ann Hunter
Bethany House, 2015

Reviewed By Diana Flowers
(No Spoilers!)

                        A Rollicking Regency!

With the sweep of her, quill rather—author Kristi Ann Hunter writes an exuberantly lively and amusing Regency era novel with an aura of mystery and danger that is sure to send readers' emotions on a rollicking roller coaster ride.

Lady Miranda Hawthorne tries her best to live up to her mother's expectations of everything a lady should be, but appears to be failing miserably. She seems destined to remain a spinster and instead of pouring out her feelings in a diary she writes letters to her brother's friend, the mysterious and elusive Duke of Marshington. Of course she never intended on sending any of the letters, and is horrified when her brother's new valet mistakenly sends one to the duke. A lively correspondence ensues with the enigmatic duke and confusion reigns as Miranda finds herself also intrigued by her brother's new valet—the handsome, brawny Marlow—with the mesmerizing gray eyes. As danger rears its ugly head, Miranda is left in a terrible quandary...can she trust the suspicious Marlow?...and just who is this mystique of a man—the Duke of Marshington?

I was pleasantly surprised at debut author Kristi Ann Hunter's, A Noble Masquerade!! It's a delicious read filled with delightful humor, but also very suspenseful as well! I don't believe I have ever read a regency with so many comical scenes before, so this was a fun change for me. Miranda was a spitfire, to be sure! And ooh, the romance was sizzling, but sometimes very frustrating. I wanted to bonk someone in the nose a few times, but the characters seemed to do that for me quite nicely. lol  I'm definitely looking forward to reading Book Two in the Hawthorne House series! 

This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, BAM, and your local bookstore.

**Be sure to get your FREE ebook copy, A Lady of Esteem, an introduction to the Hawthorne House series novella here!**

GIVEAWAY: A paperback copy of A Noble Masquerade to one blessed commenter! To be eligible please leave your email address written (at) and (dot) to protect yourself from spammers.

20 October 2015

Noela Nancarrow reviews FLEE FROM EVIL by Connie Almony

Flee from Evil
Flee from Evil (Water’s Edge, Book 1)
Cracked Door Publishing – October 3, 2015

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****
Flee from Evil’ is a story of second beginnings from shameful pasts that pulsates with breath-taking suspense and heart-wrenching experiences. In other words, it’s a read that’ll knock your socks off!

Vince Steegle is the beloved pastor of Water’s Edge Church in Maryland, a former drug-dealer who has been open about his former life to his congregation. Mostly. When Cassandra Whitaker walks into Vince’s church while he’s preaching, for the first time ever this man with the gift of speech, falters. She represents the one thing he can’t forgive himself for. And judging by her blazing eyes of hatred, she hasn’t forgiven him either. Is God able to break those shackles of pain and unforgiveness within Vince and Cassandra, and will He be able to utilize the evil that once permeated Vince’s life for something good?

The widowed and broke Cassandra has returned to her hometown along with her teenage daughter Sophie and autistic son Tibo, to live with her mother. Upon visiting her mother’s church, she finds herself face to face with the man she thinks of as the devil himself. But when evil once again enters into Cassandra’s world in an even more sinister form and turns it upside down, does she do the right thing in trusting Vince to use his underworld connections to save her child?

Author Connie Almony has masterfully weaved a powerful and gripping tale of heartbreak and hope with surprising twists and tense whispers of ‘oh no!’ Written with realism and sensitivity ensured I was either smiling, spellbound, or weeping, whilst fully resonating with the genuine and fractured characters. There was Tibo the autistic child who lived in his own world and reminded me of my son when he was younger; Lew, the lost and rough around the edges guy; teenager Sophie who’s only just discovering herself as a young woman; and the pastor who is so hopeless at being a handyman that his friends have emergency numbers on speed dial. There are gems of spiritual insights and nuggets of wisdom threaded throughout, such as the universal struggle with forgiveness. The reader also gains a perceptive glimpse into the man behind the pulpit and a mother of a child with a disability. And that’s just for starters. Connie does a stellar job of illustrating how God creates beauty from ugliness! Highly recommended!

David Crowder Acoustic - How He Loves - The Muse for the novel Flee from Evil.
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You may purchase 'FLEE FROM EVIL' here at a bargain price : Amazon

GIVEAWAY: Connie Amony is generously donating TWO books for giveaway!! Two blessed people who leave a comment below will have the choice of either a paperback OR e-book! (There will be a small delay in sending out the paperbacks.) To be eligible, please leave your email address for contact purposes should you win. Using (at) and (dot) will protect you against spammers.

15 October 2015

Diana's Review Of Secret Sister - An Amish Christmas Tale By Sarah Price

Realms, Oct. 2015
Reviewed By Diana Flowers
~5 stars~
(No spoilers!)

        It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

In Secret Sister, author Sarah Price has written a heartwarming Amish yuletide tale of bewildering secrets and love lost—set amongst the fragrant scent of pine, the soft glow of candles, and crystalline snowflakes ushering in the Christmas season.

Feeling so very alone and heartbroken from recently losing Menno – the love of her life – not to mention her children growing up and moving into different communities, Grace Beiler is truly suffering in silence. It is the Amish way to accept God's will in all things and not to question or complain about one's lot in life. Although her Amish community is kind to her, Grace feels like a fifth wheel when they offer to give her rides or invite her places with their families. Soon strange events begin to take place when Grace starts receiving notes and gifts that cause her to reflect on meaningful incidents in her past—when she and Menno were young and courting, and their subsequent life with their children. Apparently Grace has a "secret sister" who is seeking to encourage her, but who is she?...and how is she aware of these things that are only significant to Grace? As she attends her favorite event of the year which happens to be the Christmas program, Grace receives another gift—one that will change the course of her life forever.

In Secret Sister masterful storyteller, Sarah Price, has written an exquisite novel destined to become a Christmas classic! What an intricate, unpredictable plot! In one evening I literally read half of this book trying to figure out who the "secret sister" was and I never did. Being an empty nester myself, I could truly identify with Grace's inability to know just where she belonged after devoting her whole life to raising her children. I didn't just have tears in my eyes at the wonderful conclusion—they were literally streaming down my cheeks—I was that moved. For those of you who don't want to read a story about a more "mature" woman (lol)...have no fear. The book goes back and forth between past and present and there is plenty of blushing romance and drama, too! Highly recommended read for any time of the year!

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This book may be purchased through Amazon, CBD, BAM, and your local bookstore.
GIVEAWAY: Sarah Price has generously offered a copy of Secret Sister to one blessed commenter. To be eligible, please leave your email address written (at) and (dot) to prevent yourself from spammers.

13 October 2015

Noela Nancarrow's Third Anniversary on Overcoming with God Blog!!!

Happy third anniversary to Noela Nancarrow!!!  If you were stateside, Noela, I'd hand you some pretty roses, like these ones!

And Teresa could make you a beautiful cake like this one she made for my birthday a few years ago!

Bonnie could give you a big hug and finally get to chat with you in person!
My camellia is just starting to bloom again, Noela, in honor of your day! Here's a picture from a couple of years back with more blooms!
Once upon a time I met with Diana Flowers and we prayed about her joining me on my blog. Then we prayed and Teresa joined us, too!  We're so glad you joined us Aussie Angel!!!

Giveaway:  We're giving away winners choice of ANY of the books Noela has reviewed on OWG blog.  International winner, ebook only unless choice available through Book Depository.  Who is your favorite author, whose books Noela has reviewed?

11 October 2015

A Christmas Stamp by Cynthia Hickey - O' Little Town of Christmas Collection

A Christmas Stamp by Cynthia Hickey

A Christmas Stamp by Cynthia Hickey
Book One in the O' Little Town of Christmas collection. 

Lilly Tipton has her first job as a telephonist in the picturesque town of Noel, Missouri. When she is injured riding her bicycle home from her job, she finds herself thrust into judging a contest to find a postmark that represents her little town. Not a difficult task other than the fact she must work with the very man who almost ran her over...the handsome mail carrier, Calvin Monroe. 

After the death of his father and brother, and an injury obtained during his short time as a college football player, Calvin has no other plans than to work at his job and care for his mourning mother. When he literally runs into the lovely new telephonist, he knows all his future plans are changed. What he thought important turns out not to be. 

As the town prepares for notoriety with its postmark contest, Lilly and Calvin must set aside their plans and let God take the reins of their future. 

This short story is an adorable Christmas read!!!
My review: Five Stars *****

Lilly is such a sweetheart.  I liked her right away! I think she's just as klutzy as me! Plus I love that name. Ms. Hickey's story was inspired by a real life contest for Christmas stamp, which I thought was neat.  

Calvin is a strong hero with a compassionate heart. There's so much packed into this short story that I thought it was a novella. A really nice quick read for those looking for a Christian historical romance set near Christmas time.

This book is part of the O' Little Town of Christmas collection spearheaded by Gina Welborn.  The second story, An Angel for Mistletoe, by Teresa Ives Lilly has also released.

Author Cynthia Hickey

Cynthia Hickey is a top Christian fiction author and also owns Forget-Me-Not Press.  You can find her on Facebook, Google Plus, and at other social media sites!

Coming up: The Substitute Bride, A Christmas Romance Novella, in O' Little Christmas Town Collection, by Carrie Fancett Pagels - available on Amazon within two days!

Giveaway:  E-books,  A Christmas Stamp by Cynthia Hickey - O' Little Town of Christmas Collection and The Substitute Bride by Carrie Fancett Pagels.

08 October 2015

'THE BEST GIFT OF ALL' by Julie Lessman - Reviewed by Bonnie Roof

Bonnie reviews 'THE BEST GIFT OF ALL' by Julie Lessman 
IN Home for Christmas: Christmas Historical Romance Collection 
5 Stars *****

"I need 'you', Lizzie - your laughter, your encouragement, your gentleness, your love - and not just in my bed. I need you in my heart and my mind, to feel your love like before, when it was just you and me. I need to be close to you, hold you, talk to you, pray about where I've been in my mind lately." (The Best Gift of All).

Boston, Massachusetts  - 1934

It's 9 p.m., Lizzie Brady sighs as her husband, John, is late getting home from work - as on so many previous nights. During the Depression many people are pressed to work long hours, as does John with his business partner Collin McGuire, Lizzie's brother-in-law, at their printing business. John - previously always gentle, kind, and steady - has become irritable, Lizzie feeling he is no longer the perfect spouse, mentor, and lover. Even six-year-old Teddy and four-year-old Molly have noticed their father's "grumpiness". Lizzie, has put baby Sara to bed, Teddy and Molly are hoping to stretch bedtime long enough to show their father their artwork. Lizzie is fatigued, due to her advancing pregnancy and caring for three children; this pregnancy affecting her worse than the previous three.

Work isn't the only thing contributing to the changes in John. When Molly gets out of bed repeated times, having problems sleeping - Lizzy gets in bed with her, John's resentment of the attention Lizzie gives their children - reappears. Until Lizzie's current pregnancy, John felt he had the perfect marriage - Lizzie's feelings near worship (one look or kiss being all it used to take to make her "swoon"), they almost never fought.

He loves his children, yet his jealousy of them fills him with guilt, shame, and makes him feel weak - the attention Lizzie gives them leaves little for him; he doesn't know how to tell her without sounding selfish. "What kind of man resents his children? A man who needs his wife." Lizzie is the best mother he knows, but sometimes he needs a wife, sometimes - their children need to learn the love of he and Lizzie come first. He was always a man who inspired trust - now his own lack of trust could destroy him and the love of his wife. He can be prideful, continue to withdraw into his work, forget his convictions and God, watch his love being strangled through his resentment; but chooses to beseech God to free him of jealousy, restore his heart and the peace and harmony he and Lizzie have always known. 

Lizzie doesn't feel their marriage can be the same as it was before they became parents, with responsibilities to their children. When she invites a former boyfriend, Michael, John's estranged brother who betrayed both of them - to their house, in the hopes of renewing John's relationship with his brother, tensions are stressed to the max. She feels a stranger to her own husband, weak, an imperfect mother, and a failure as a wife. Feeling, also, John has a clean heart and pure love - unlike her - and doesn't love her as much as he once did.

Two people struggling to mend the lines of communication, and their love - in the process. Julie Lessman has written a beautiful, heart-warming fiction that is based on fact from a friend's story, and one that, unfortunately, many people are now confronted with on a daily basis. I loved visiting with the warm, endearing, members of the O'Connor family again - enjoying all the other elements I've come to expect in Julie's stories: passion, romance, drama, unexpected twists, anguish, humor, forgiveness and redemption - through God's love and seeking His plan for one's life. 'The Best Gift of All' will be an inspiration to all!

And they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. Mark 10:8-9.

'The Best Gift of All' is part of the 'Home For Christmas', Historical Christian Romance Collection, available at Amazon. NOTE: We hope to review some of the other fine novellas in this collection soon! Ruth Logan Herne, our front-runner for Angel's Heart Award (Julie won our first one!) has Second Chance Christmas, Pam Hillman, who we've also hosted on OWG blog has All Aboard: Destination Chrismas (Which sounds great!), and Janet Dean has A Daddy for Christmas (sweet!)--so be on the watch!!!

PRE-ORDER NOW from Amazon - Kindle copy for only $2.99--Releases October 10th!!!

Giveaway: Julie has generously offered an ebook giveaway copy of 'The Best Gift of All' to one blessed commenter!! Question: What book of Julie's is your favorite?  

06 October 2015

Diana's Review Of AFTER THE RAIN By Rita Gerlach

After The Rain By Rita Gerlach
Sept. 30, 2015

Reviewed By Diana Flowers
~5 stars~
(No Spoilers!)

Such An Alluring Fragrance 'Tis After The Rain...
In After the Rain, author Rita Gerlach pens an unforgettable Edwardian era novel that sweeps the reader from the opulent busyness of Chevy Chase, Maryland—where past and future intertwine with the invention of motorcars and telephones—to the vast, quiet beauty of the small hamlet of Chestnut Creek, Virginia, where one can hear the whispers of the winds through the pines and the water tumbling over the rocks in the creek.

Although Louisa Borden lives in a gorgeous mansion in Chevy Chase, she feels suffocated by her overbearing and ofttimes cruel grandmother, Beatrice, who insists upon her marrying Rupert Eastcott—a wealthy man she doesn't love. The stubborn Louisa definitely has no desire to marry the stuffy Rupert and live in a huge lonely mansion in England. When she is thrown from the saddle by her high spirited horse above the creek, she is rescued by Jackson O'Neil, a handsome stranger who carries her up the slippery bank—muddy and totally humiliated. Intrigued by this rugged country man, Louisa finds herself falling for him until Rupert reveals an unforgivable secret concerning the enigmatic Mr. O'Neil. Love-sick, crushed by another shocking revelation from Beatrice, and a terrible tragedy befalling her as well, Louisa pays a visit to her fun loving, widowed aunts in Chestnut Creek. After the rain, will the sweet fragrance of new blossoms spring forth with healing for her broken heart...and perhaps love?

One of the reigning queens of descriptive imagery and masterful storytelling, Rita Gerlach, has set the bar high with her newest release, After the Rain! The sights, sounds, and scents of this wonderful book permeate the readers' senses as this amazing tale of love and forgiveness unfolds. I instantly fell in love with the strong, yet vulnerable, Louisa, and the charming, compassionate man of her dreams as well. I cried along with them in their trials, and chuckled at her enthusiastic, wise aunts and their optimistic zest for life! With three romances for the price of one, After the Rain is a memorable novel and one I highly recommend!

~*~ Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. ~*~
Mark Twain
This book may be purchased through Amazon.
GIVEAWAY: Rita is generously giving away a copy of After the Rain in winner's choice of format -- ebook or paperback which will be releasing very soon! To be eligible, please leave an email addy written (at) and (dot) to protect yourself from spammers.

04 October 2015

Seven Blessings From "I Can't" by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Praying Hands from Oral Roberts University

Have you ever felt like you've run into a brick wall with what you are trying to do? Are you worn out? Tired? Maybe sick for weeks like I have been recently? Sometimes we have to grab ahold of the notion that we can't. We cannot do. We are unable to accomplish what we believe needs to be done.

There is something grand to be said for getting to "I can't"!

  1. Sometimes we have to get to the end of ourselves to open the door wide for God.
  2. We get back more fully into His Word, which brings direction, and peace.
  3. We come before His throne and pray and submit ourselves to Him and are blessed and bless others by lifting them up.
  4. When we do that, we can more readily discern His will.
  5. When we walk in His will our lives are blessed and ease follows.
  6. We bring glory to Him when we credit Him with what HE has done through us - what we could NOT do ourselves.
  7. I can't becomes I CAN with God's help!!!
If you are struggling this week, will you go to Abba Father and tell Him you CANNOT?  He already knows!  Let Him bless you by reaching this stage--and congratulations on getting to the end of you and letting Him restore you.  

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