The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham


The Mistletoe Countess may just be one of the most perfect romance novels I have ever read. A delightful combination of humor, romance, and mystery, I couldn’t read fast enough yet was so disappointed to reach its end.

What reader would not love heroine Gracelynn, the innocent yet outspoken booklover who agrees to take her sister’s place in an arranged marriage to prevent the scandal her parents fear. I didn’t expect to like Lord Frederick Percy very much but he too quickly earned his place in my heart.

It was such fun getting to observe the pair as they negotiated their new life as a married couple as they also got to know each other better. Their witty exchanges and romantic tension were perfectly timed and the scattered incidents that hinted at attempts on Percy’s life added just the right touch of mystery and suspense.

I will restrain myself from giving away more of the story because this is one you will want to read for yourself. I am hoping to find time to read it again very soon. Yes, it was that good!

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by the author. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future. 


Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with a southern Appalachian flair. Her books have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inpsys, and the ACFW Carol Awards, with The Thorn Healer selected as a 2018 finalist in the RT awards. Both her contemporary and historical romance novels consistently receive high ratings from Romantic Times, with Just the Way You Are as a Top Pick. Most recently she’s introduced readers to Bath, UK through her novellas, Second Impressions and Jane by the Book, and taken readers into the exciting world of WW2 espionage in her novella, Façade. The second novel in The Pleasant Gap series, When You Look at Me, arrives in October and her contribution to Barbour’s wonderful My Heart Belongs series hits the shelves in January 2019 with My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge. Her books are seasoned with her Appalachian heritage and love for family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can get to know Pepper on her website,, on Facebook, Instagram, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano


It should not be so difficult to write a review of a book one enjoyed as much as I loved A Midnight Dance yet I find it difficult to put into words. As expected, the story itself was beautifully written with evocative prose that pulls the reader into the sights and sounds of the backstage of a ballet theater. Characters were well developed yet at times mysterious which only added to the allure of the tale.

And what a tale it was! Aspiring ballerina Ella Blythe is determined to prove herself to her unknown benefactor by reaching the same level as her once famous mother yet her attempts at perfection have overshadowed her true talent. Two different men also inhabit her world – one she has dreamed of for years after a brief encounter and the other, the ever-present Jack who seems to taunt her yet somehow seems to be trying to help her achieve her goals.

As Ella’s history unfolds and with the help of Jack she discovers more about her parents, Ella begins to realize that almost everything she has always believed to be true was a myth. Surprises pop up around every corner and only one man will prove himself worthy of her love.

 I loved A Midnight Dance and its cast of remarkable characters. It was exciting to observe Ella as she grew from a self-centered young woman to a mature and caring person as she discovered truth and faith.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


The best moments in dance are the unscripted ones

At their core, all theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most–and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater.

After a chance encounter with one of the ballet company’s handsome dancers late one night, Ella is swept off her elegantly pointed toes. The dance they share and the promise he makes to her feel like a new beginning. Yet as she faces mounting challenges in the ever-shrinking ballet company, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the ghostly ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own disastrous end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the unyielding grip of the past?

Read an excerpt HERE.


Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears, A Rumored Fortune, Finding Lady Enderly, and The Love Note. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their children in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. You can find her at

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson


I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received a copy of The Barrister and the Letter of Marque to review. I was not particularly in the right mood  when I began to read it and was tempted to put it down for later. It did get off to a slow start but I persisted and after a few chapters I got caught up in the story and had no desire to stop reading before I reached the end.

I know other reviewers have mentioned a few historical errors but I tend to slide right by those because I’m all about the story and this one was quite intriguing. Although it is somewhat unusual for a Regency type novel to be written from a man’s point of view, The Barrister and the Letter of Marque was a refreshing detour from the usual. The legal details involved in solving the case as well as the mystery and suspense that accompanied them made for a story that wouldn’t let go. I loved the fact that there was very little romance involved but the plot and mysterious atmosphere were almost perfect.

I am not particularly acquainted with this author’s other novels but I sincerely hope that he will continue with more along this line. I liked it quite a lot.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter–the sole proof his actions were legal–has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

Read an excerpt HERE.


Todd M. Johnson ( has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse


I tend to read fiction for enjoyment so I am often surprised when I read reviews of books I enjoyed that pick them apart bit by bit. What fun is that? I believe most readers are like me and not scholars who need to analyze every page. So yes! I thoroughly enjoyed Under the Bayou Moon without finding any of the glaring deficiencies that seemed to annoy several other reviewers.

I loved the mysterious aura of the bayous and the myth of the white alligator. The characters who populated the tale were incredible people who came to life on its pages. I could almost taste Raphe’s gumbo and other food descriptions made my mouth water. I also enjoyed the friendship of Haywood with both Raphe and Ellie.

The lyrical narrative drew me right into the small Louisiana town of Bernadette and made me want to befriend each and every one and sit in on Ellie’s weekly meetings with the older ladies. The story is filled with love, discovery, friendship, community, and faith but hidden undercurrents of greed and prejudice threatened to destroy the good people of Bernadette. I found it difficult to put the book down before I finished it. I would definitely recommend it.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


When Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country in 1949, she knows her life will change–but she could never imagine just how dramatically.

Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their unique culture, most of the residents come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher, and she’s soon teaching just about everyone, despite opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Yet it’s the lessons Ellie herself will learn–from new friends, a captivating Cajun fisherman, and even a legendary white alligator haunting the bayou–that will make all the difference.

Take a step away from the familiar and enter the shadowy waters of bayou country for a story of risk, resilience, and romance.

Read an excerpt HERE.


Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac, Almost Home, and The Key to Everything, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave.

Dogwood Winter by Candace West


In the latest novel by Candace West readers enjoy revisiting the mountain town of Valley Creek where they are able to reconnect with members of the Steen family and catch up with what is going on in their lives and the lives of other familiar characters.

Dogwood Winter is an emotionally charged narrative that draws on real life experiences that includes birth, death, serious illness, estranged relationships, etc. to weave together an enthralling book that made me wonder what on earth could possibly happen next. This beautiful story of romance, encouragement, redemption, renewed faith, reconciliation, courage, and even a miracle or two is one for the keeper shelf.

The book description is sufficient without my repetition. Just take my word for it, Dogwood Winter is a book well worth reading. It can stand on its own but is so much better if the preceding books of the Valley Creek Redemption series are read first.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Book:  Dogwood Winter

Author: Candace West

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: August 24, 2021

Click here to get your copy!

A Lukewarm Correspondence. A Tattered Reputation. Two Hearts at Odds.

He is walking away while she is fighting to walk.

After a springtime swim, Ella Steen is stricken with a dire illness, leaving her without the use of her legs. Meanwhile, Dr. George Curtis, the man she secretly loves, faces ruin. For over a year, the crusty New York City bachelor and vivacious spinster have exchanged dozens of letters and formed a wary friendship.

Neither are willing to open their hearts completely. Until they face each other. The past looms between them, however. Does George still love another or is his heart completely free?

A trip to Valley Creek holds the answers. Instead, when George and Ella arrive, they encounter obstacles that force other truths to the surface. Is George brave enough to confront what he fled in New York? Can Ella confess why she hates dogwood winters? Will their hearts survive?

If only their pasts would keep out of the present.



Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta to a young minister and his wife. She grew up in small-town Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. At twelve years old, she wrote her first story, “Following Prairie River.” In 2018, she published her debut novel Lane Steen, book one of the Valley Creek Redemption Series. By weaving entertaining, hope-filled stories, Candace shares the Gospel and encourages her readers. She currently lives in Arkansas with her husband and their son along with two dogs and three bossy cats.


Biscuits and gravy has been a staple for generations in my family. It’s perfect for any occasion or breakfast, dinner, and supper. Yes, in our neck of the woods, dinner is lunch, and supper is—well, supper.

And then, we have biscuits and gravy with a twist. We’ll shove the traditional aside for a bowl of chocolate gravy. That’s right, chocolate.

Now, don’t get grossed out. Some people believe chocolate gravy is this weird, mysterious concoction made with meat grease. It’s the gravy part that boggles their mind, but it’s actually straightforward and easy—not true gravy at all. Trust me, if you like chocolate, you’ll want to try this. When you butter a biscuit and drizzle the chocolate over it, you’ll get a little taste of heaven on earth.

And you’ll get a little taste of the Appalachians and Ozarks.

My grandparents, both raised deep in the Arkansas Ozarks, were raised on “chocolate an’ biscuits” and passed the recipe down to us. Throughout the mountains and in pockets throughout the country, you’ll find this lesser-known treat on kitchen tables and family gatherings.

Every recipe is a little different. Every family has their own special way of making it. My family likes their chocolate gravy a little thinner while my husband’s family wants theirs to be the consistency of pudding.

In Dogwood Winter, my characters would’ve eaten chocolate an’ biscuits. Their corner of the Ozarks is famous for it. I can see Ella and George, along with the Steen family, gathering around a table, saying the blessing, and passing the fare to each other. The only skeptical one in the bunch would be George, a New Yorker who wasn’t raised on it. One bite would make him a believer.

Have you ever eaten biscuits and chocolate gravy? If not, would you try it?

This is our family recipe.

Chocolate Gravy

1 ½ cups sugar
1 tbs Hershey Cocoa powder
2 ½ tbs flour

Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan

Add 1 ½ to 2 cups of milk (depends on the thickness you want)

Bring to a boil and cook until thickened (3 or 4 minutes) Note: Bring to a slow boil and continually stir. Remove from heat then add 2 tbs butter and 1 tsp of Vanilla extract. Pour over buttered biscuits and enjoy!




To celebrate her tour, Candace is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

To Write a Wrong by Jen Turano


To Write a Wrong is Jen Turano’s latest entertaining  and humorous romantic historical mystery novel. Its pages abound with numerous quirky characters that includes a delightful heroine, a dashing hero, and some absolutely loathsome villains. What could be better than that for an evening’s enjoyment?

Featuring Miss Daphne Beekman of the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency who is also secretly a famous mystery author who writes under an assumed male moniker, the tale begins when the agency is hired by another famous mystery writer Mr. Herman Henderson who has received death threats from an unknown person. Daphne is sent to pose as Herman’s secretary during a house party at his country estate and from that point on it is anybody’s guess what might happen next.

As in all of Turano’s novels there is quite a bit of dialogue, especially between the featured couple. I did find that to be a bit tiresome during one evening but I suppose it was just my own mood because when I picked the book back up the next day, I was no longer annoyed by the abundance of conversation.

The story moved along at a good pace with plenty of amusing accidental incidents interspersed with numerous suspicious characters as well as enough plot twists and red herrings to keep the best detective confused. As always secrets were revealed and the case was solved to everyone’s satisfaction.

To Write a Wrong is one more example of why Jen Turano’s books are so popular. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. To borrow and alter a famous commercial “You can’t read just one!”

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by the author and Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Miss Daphne Beekman is a mystery writer by day, inquiry agent by night. Known for her ability to puzzle out plots, she prefers working behind the scenes for the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, staying well away from danger. However, Daphne soon finds herself in the thick of an attempted murder case she’s determined to solve.

Mr. Herman Henderson is also a mystery writer, but unlike the dashing heroes he pens, he lives a quiet life, determined to avoid the fate of his adventurous parents, who perished on an expedition when he was a child. But when he experiences numerous attempts on his life, he seeks out the services of the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency to uncover the culprit. All too soon, Herman finds himself stepping out of the safe haven of his world and into an adventure he never imagined.

As the list of suspects grows and sinister plots are directed Daphne’s way as well, Herman and Daphne must determine who they can trust and if they can risk the greatest adventure of all: love.

Read an excerpt HERE.


Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado. Readers can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at