22 February 2018

Once An Heiress by Renee Ryan -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Blurb: Boston society darling Gigi Wentworth leaves behind everything she holds dear for the sake of love - only to learn that the man with whom she'd planned to elope is nothing but a thieving scoundrel. Abandoned in New York City and saddled with debt, Gigi must sell a prized family heirloom, but even that sacrifice isn't enough to get her home. Her determination drives her to take on work as a lady's maid, keeping her identity a secret...until she's discovered by a former friend with a hidden agenda. 
Although dealing with his own serious family issue, Christopher "Fitz" Fitzpatrick sets out to return the missing heiress to her rightful place in society. But the more he interacts with this new Gigi, the more shocked he is to find her so changed. Gone is the frivolous beauty in expensive gowns. In her place is a woman he could grow to love. When secrets are revealed, will Gigi and Fitz find the trust they need to confront the past and open their hearts?

Worth the Wait!
Once An Heiress (Brilliance Audio)
Narrated by Karen Peakes

I was anxiously awaiting the release of this download, book 3 in the Gilded Promises series. I knew Gigi Wentworth would have a fascinating story to tell, and she does! This is a Prodigal Daughter story. Good spiritual arcs for both hero and heroine. Both needed to change in order for God to give them a chance to possibly make a new start. 

Make sure you read the first two books in this series before listening to book three in the series. They are all solid listens. I'll confess the first was my fave, but all are wonderful listens. I hadn't listened to any of Renee's books before and she's an impressive author--has it all with voice, characterization, and story. 

If you liked my novel, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring, you will likely enjoy this series which is also set at the turn of the century.

Giveaway: This week, I'm giving away a box of books. Comment on this post for an extra entry. Comment on my Sunday post on "Just" for a second entry! 

18 February 2018

The Tyranny of the Word "Just"

The Tyranny of the Word "Just"
By Carrie Fancett Pagels

I've been wanting to post on this topic for a long time. When I was in a boot for many years, for my heel problems from my RA, I kept thinking I'd do a post. Then when I went back into a boot again for my recent broken ankle, I determined I had to finally write this up. What spurred me on, too, was coming across this topic on a work-related blog, in which they had a very different viewpoint than mine on the problem with using the word, "just." In that post, they made it sound like young people at work could make it clear that they knew what they were doing by specifying "just" in the instructions!
Here's one of my favorite (I'm being facetious) uses of the word. During a time when I couldn't even get down my home's hallway without excruciating pain in every step, I was told that I could "Just fill out the form and put it out in the mailbox!" Really?  My mailbox is across the road. At the time I'm not sure I could have crossed the road even if someone held a gun to my head. And who amongst us hasn't spoken with a tech person who has advised us, "If you'd just do (something they know because they are a specialist" with the inference that by not knowing this thing the person was ignorant.
The use of "just" infers that something is supposed to be easy. But its all POV. If someone, when I was twenty, had told me to "Just run/jog down the road a mile" that would have been easy. I was a runner. This word, "just", has become one of my least favorite words. I've tried to get more careful, myself, about using this word. When I start saying something can just be accomplished if, I try to back up and rephrase it. I've started changing it to, "If you do (first step, second step) then this other thing could possibly be accomplished." That usually opens the door a little better for the person to explain if step one or step two has an issue that has to be addressed. But to go in and tell someone "If they'll just do step one, step two" implies those two steps are easy. Furthermore, doesn't it seem like they are telling you that you should have figured out or done this simple thing?

Question: How about you? Have you been tyrannized by the word, just?

Giveaway: Box of books to one of my commenters this week.

15 February 2018

Review of Tracey J. Lyons "The Heart of an Agent" Audiobook

A Great Listen!!!
Review of Tracey J. Lyons The Heart of an Agent
Brilliance Audio (November 2017)

I listened to this audiobook via an download. I have a membership. Click here for the link to audible purchase.

I had the privilege of meeting Tracey at the 2016 CFRR (Christian Fiction Readers Retreat) in Nashville. She's a delightful lady. We'd been social media friends prior to that. Check out Tracey's website for a chance to meet up with her at one of her upcoming events!

This novel is book two in her Pinkerton series. I loved the first book, A Changed Agent, which I also reviewed here on the blog!  So I was really looking forward to this story. Both books were narrated by Lauren Ezzo, who did a good job.

I'd seen that another reviewer called this a "Beauty and the Beast" type of story and I'll be honest, I am not a fan of that trope. However, I really enjoyed the first book and went ahead and made the purchase. The first section of the book did end up being more that type of story with the bereaved hero an angry broken man stuck in his denial. But the sweet and feisty heroine, Lily Handland, becomes a balm to Owen Murphy's soul. I really got into the book after the point that Owen is less "beastly" for lack of a better word!

Once the story turns this corner, there is so much to love about the story. It's set in the Adirondacks at the turn of the century, Lily is a wonderful character who feels like a friend, and Owen finally settles down into the wonderful man he truly is. But can they both overcome their pasts? Can they save his lodge? Do yourself a huge favor, get the book and find out! It is a great listen!

08 February 2018

Giveaway and Review of A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

A Refuge Assured (Bethany House, February 2018)

About the book:
Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia but finds the same dangers lurking in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers threaten the life of a young boy left in her care, who some suspect to be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement, Azilum, offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate the land of his hard-won farm near Azilum, but soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they will be drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Andrea Stephens' Review

Wow. Just wow.
I'm a regular person that reads, then reviews from her gut reaction to books. 
A Refuge Assured leaves me searching for the right words to describe just how good it is. For starters, the history I learned from this book was just amazing. Yes, I learned a little bit about it in school ages ago but it was glossed over. In this book, I felt as if I was there watching it all play out. I did not know being a lace maker was cause to lose your head during the French Revolution.
To see how Vivienne was able to care for her birth mother after the cruel death of the aunt that raised her was so touching. After her mother's death, she was able to escape to America and put in situations that only the strongest of women could handle.

Vienne learns to work as a baker and grows close to the family she works for. Particularly her bosses brother, Liam Delaney. She ends up caring for an orphaned boy, Henri, who some think may be young King Louis-Charles in hiding. This puts them both in great danger. The gentle romance between Liam and Vienne tugged at my heart. He helps her escape to Azilum the French town in Pennsylvania for refugees. A town that he helped build. He is in for a great disappointment when he arrives back at his farm on the outskirts of the town.
I can't say anything else without giving spoilers. There's so much more to say though! 

I highly recommend this historical novel. It is full of richly drawn characters, drama, danger, intrigue, righting wrongs, forgiveness, and compassion. I know this is a work of fiction but the intensity and feeling are so real.  This is a book that will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

I will be a Jocelyn Green fan for life.

Giveaway: A paperback copy of this new novel by Jocelyn Green. Leave a comment here on Andrea's review for a chance to win.

04 February 2018

The Easy Way? Or the Best Way? By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Have you ever set out with good intentions, but were tempted to turn around because it was simply too hard? But you knew you had to keep on for things to become better? The runner pictured above could do a 360 and turn around, or he could keep going on his run. We have free choice to make decisions for our ease, every day.

My husband, son, and I recently attended the movie, "The Darkest Hour", about Winston Churchill. It gave a different insight into the lead-up to the transition of power of Neville Chamberlain to Churchill as Prime Minister. My father had strong opinions about Chamberlain. Negative ones, because he felt Chamberlain was taking the easy way, selling out, trying to negotiate a peace that would never come--not with Hitler. And Churchill had my father's respect because despite everything it would take, there was the willingness to do the right thing. To do things the better way. I'm not happy that in this movie, like in the recent Dunkirk movie, there is no mention of all the people praying for the fleet of fishing boats, etc., who went across to rescue the soldiers in Dunkirk. And Churchill was a real and flawed human, but aren't we all?

We get a chance every week, if not every day, to make a choice to take something the easy way or to do the better or best way. I think God uses those little, and big, chances to grow us in our faith. Still, who isn't tempted to take the easy way out? That's selfish human nature. Should I do what I want this afternoon or should I reach out to a friend in need? Should I do this extra thing for my child, or would it be easier to put her or him off? Should I do this thing for my health or would it be easier to do this thing right in front of me? See what I mean?

Next week I'm going to blog about a different side of the coin--about when people believe something "just" can be done. People believing something is an easy thing.

Giveaway: A choice of any one of my books in E-book format or a choice of one of my upcoming paperback collections from Barbour Publishing for 2018: First Love Forever (April 2018), The Backcountry Brides (May 2018) The Victorian Christmas Brides (September 2018) Great Lakes Lighthouse Romance (November 2018).
Answer this question to enter: How have you been blessed by not giving into the temptation to do the easy thing? 

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