October Review Books
“The Gift-Wrapped Bride” was short and sweet and in some ways the romance itself took a backseat to the rest of the story. Sophie Stewart was not at all happy when her family pulled up their roots in Toledo to move to Chicago. Her brother and his friend Noah were already in Chicago and had helped to pave the way for families from their hometown to find homes and jobs as well as to help start a new church in Chicago. Although Noah showed a decided interest in Sophie, she was unable to forgive him for all the pranks he had played on her during their school years and rebuffed his attempts at friendship at every turn. Could their participation in the church Christmas program change her mind about Noah?
“The Gift-Wrapped Bride” is a wonderful illustration about changed hearts and learning not to form harsh judgements due to a person’s past actions. There is hope for everyone in Christ as long as their heart is open to His love and influence.
A digital copy of this book was provided for review by Barbour Books.
More About The Gift-Wrapped Bride with Maureen LangFor veteran novelist Maureen Lang, the opportunity to write her first novella, The Gift-Wrapped Bride, presented a challenge.“I approached the task with much fear and trembling. I believe writing short, needing to write tight, is far more difficult than taking your time. As the writer then as the reader, it’s easy to take time to get to know characters, to step around in their shoes and in their time period for a while,” she said.
But a novella is much shorter and requires great care in word, setting and scene choices.
“I finally relaxed knowing that storytelling could still work if I focused on the main goal—getting my hero and heroine together after realistically keeping them apart,” she laughed.
The story of an artist and a reformed “bad boy,” pushed together in their 1848 Chicago immigrant church, The Gift-Wrapped Bride surprised its author as she wrote.
“I had more fun than I expected getting to know a hero who was so focused on winning the heroine’s love and respect. He had a hurdle to overcome because she only knew him when he was a bully and a mischief-maker. I had so much fun focusing on the romance that I found myself commiserating with the focus my hero needed to win the heroine’s heart!”
Forgiveness turned out to be a greater theme in her story, across the characters, than she had anticipated.
A native of the Chicago area, her family has been in the Midwest for several generations, Maureen felt at home writing about the city so long ago. Well aware of Chicago’s poor reputation in some quarters, Maureen wanted to explore another side to the city, “one with characters who aren’t part of the violent reputation, but represent the majority of ordinary, flawed but still lovable people who live here.”
The author of contemporary and nonfiction, as well as historical novels, Maureen has always been fascinated by other places and eras.
“Not that I want to live anywhere or at any other time, since I’m spoiled by the relative peace and obvious comforts of today,” she said. “But when I read about other eras, it never fails to impress me that people just like you and me actually survived such conditions! . . . I hope I’d have lived up to the times, but the more research I do about historical conditions, the more thankful I am God chose to let me live here and now, even with our unique challenges.”
Some of her ancestors have been in North America since the 1600?s.
One of the youngest of six children, Maureen grew up in a boisterous family that enjoyed Christmas with decorating, baking and family gatherings. While she enjoys an annual Nativity Pageant that involves original music, real animals (including camels) and a magnificent choir, she knew that wouldn’t fit into her 1848 setting.
“I did keep the spirit of this wonderful tradition in mind as I developed the Nativity aspect in my story. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for my reformed rake of a hero not only to show the heroine that he’d changed, but to make a real difference in boys who were on the same track he’d been on—to mischief or worse.”
“A bonus of working on a novella collection is the camaraderie I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other authors selected for this Christmas-themed set. There is always some excitement and enthusiasm with any publishing venture, but this time I’ve enjoyed not only my editor and others I’ve encountered at Barbour, but also such a great array of other authors. People just like me, trying to meet deadlines, write the best stories we can, lots of laughter and support for what we all love to do—create stories in our imagination to share with others. It’s been so much fun being part of a team that includes other authors as well!”
Who is Maureen Lang?
The author of eleven books, Maureen Lang has been writing since childhood. Her latest release is part of The Gilded Legacy Series:All in Good Time. She lives with her family in the Midwest.
You can learn more about Maureen and her books at her website: www.maureenlang.com
She regularly blogs on the Christians Read website.
You can also find her on Facebook
A note from the Author: Well, I’m a regular ol’ person. Who just happens to write. A lot. Probably more than I should. I firmly believe that God created me to be a writer. From the time I learned how to string letters together into words I’ve been making up stories. Believe me… I have a very rich imagination. I used to think I was weird; now I know God just put me together that way. I can’t even watch commercials without expanding them into stories in my head. I am humbled and honored all at the same time that God looked down from heaven on me and said, “Jodie, do what you love.” Wow… how awesome is that?
I have always loved to write. I have stories that I wrote when I was in first grade. I used to sit at my grandmother’s yellow electric typewriter for hours, banging out my own little stories. When I was eleven, she bought me a typewriter of my own (It was 1984, okay?) and I would write and write on it. I wrote stories out by hand, and they ran to hundreds of pages. I got my first computer when I was eighteen, and the first thing I did was write a story on it. I wrote for school. I wrote for fun. I wrote for my friends. I’d get them on the phone and make up stories for them. (I earned the nickname “Dreamweaver” for that one. Nobody calls me that anymore, but it still stands as the coolest nickname I ever had.)
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?
Quilted by Christmas is a charming love story filled with memorable characters, especially Taryn’s feisty grandmother Jemma. Set in North Carolina during the weeks leading up to Christmas, the story brings to light how our decisions can affect our life and those of others for many years to come.
The man Taryn loved has returned home after twelve years away in military service. Because of one huge secret made out of good intentions and because of the advice of others, Taryn wants to avoid Justin as much as possible. Due to a bit of manipulation by Jemma and subsequent events, Taryn and Justin are forced to spend more time together than she had planned. Their relationship seems so comfortable, just like old times that Taryn finds herself hoping for the impossible. Will Justin hate her if she reveals her secret?
Quilted by Christmas reminded me of the old axiom that begins with “Oh what tangled threads we weave…” So many decisions were made based on wounds inflicted by other people and so many secrets were kept – not only by Taryn. I loved the way Taryn learned to trust the Lord with her secrets and eventually learned the power of truth and forgiveness. I also liked the family quilt history and how the quilt Taryn and Justin worked on together eventually forced the truth out into the open. Quilted by Christmas is a perfect novel for the coming holiday season.
I always enjoy a good mystery/suspense novel and “A Promise to Protect” met all my requirements to keep those pages turning. The story opened with a murder to be solved and did not waste any time getting the action going.
With two principal characters who share a past history together and one of them hiding a secret, the reader can be sure there will be some sparks between them. Add several incidents such as attempted shootings, more than one arson case, an explosion, a kidnapping, threatening calls, etc. and the suspense mounts. Several clues along the way hint at the person behind the threats but not enough to be conclusive. Plenty of confusion will keep most readers guessing – not only about the guilty party but whether all the incidents are even connected. Is Leigh the real target or could it be Ben?
“A Promise to Protect” held my attention throughout with a well-developed plot and excellent characters, including a child who added extra depth to the story. A few unexpected twists and surprises added to the suspense. Romance took a back seat to the action and suspense but the conclusion was quite satisfying. The Christian spiritual element was present throughout but was not overdone and seemed to be a natural part of the story.
I have enjoyed both books in Bradley’s Logan Point series and intend to read her future novels as well.
This book was provided for review by
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman’s secret could change everything.
Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her–or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago–out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But all too soon, Ben is charged with a different task–protecting Leigh from the people after her brother. With Leigh doing everything in her power to avoid Ben, it’s no easy task. And the secret she is keeping just may change their lives forever.
“A taut story of mistakes and betrayal, a mother’s fierce love, revenge and danger–and the redeeming wonders of faith and love.”–Lorena McCourtney, author of the Cate Kinkaid Files and the Ivy Malone Mysteries
“Old secrets, second chances at love, and a skillfully crafted small-town suspense. You will fall in love with Ben and Leigh and cheer them on as they fight for their happy ending. I’m making room on my shelf for all of Patricia Bradley’s novels!”–Susan May Warren, bestselling and award-winning author of When I Fall in Love
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patricia Bradley‘s manuscript for Shadows of the Past was a finalist for the 2012 Genesis Award, winner of a 2012 Daphne du Maurier award (1st place, Inspirational), and winner of a 2012 Touched by Love award (1st place, Contemporary). She is a published short story writer and is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc. When she’s not writing or speaking, she can be found making beautiful clay pots and jewelry. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.
I have enjoyed Judith Miller’s novels for several years – both her solo projects and those written with Tracie Peterson. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to read and review “The Brickmaker’s Bride”, first entry in Judith’s latest series (Refined by Love).
As expected, I found the book to be beautifully written with well-rounded characters and an informative yet engaging plot. I liked the mixture of characters with some quite likeable, a couple who were very unlikeable, and even those who began one way but turned out quite another. The ins and outs of brickmaking were quite interesting to me and were something I had never considered. I always enjoy learning something new while reading a good novel.
While there is very little suspense in “The Brickmaker’s Bride”, it is filled with plenty of drama and a surprise or two. Both Ewan and Laura were admirable characters and while I did not care for Uncle Hugh for most of the story, I did like how he turned out later. Unfortunately, I never could abide his wife.
This book was provided for review by LitFuse Publicity.
Bestselling Author Judith Miller Debuts Historical Series Set in West Virginia
Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it’s Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner’s daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she’s being courted by another man–a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he’ll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.
But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan’s hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura’s heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. When time permits, Judy enjoys traveling, visiting historical settings, and scrapbooking the photographs from her travel expeditions. She makes her home in Topeka, Kansas
Find out more about Judith at http://judithmccoymiller.com.
Kindle HDX Giveaway and Facebook Author Party with Judith Miller!
- A Kindle HDX
- The Brickmaker’s Bride by Judith Miller
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 4th. Winner will be announced at the Refined by Love Facebook Author Event. Connect with Judith for a fascinating evening centered around her new Civil War-era series. She’ll be hosting a book club discussion, giving away prizes, answering your questions, offering an exclusive peek at the next book in the Refined by Love series, and much more!