Monday, May 31, 2010

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer - REVIEWED

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

A Tailor-Made Bride

Bethany House (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Witemeyer for sending me a review copy.***


Karen Witemeyer holds a master's degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and the Texas Coalition of Authors. She has published fiction in Focus on the Family's children's magazine, and has written several articles for online publications and anthologies. Tailor-Made Bride is her first novel. Karen lives in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764207555
ISBN-13: 978-0764207556


"...hardships are sure to find their way to your doorstop. Confidence is the only way to combat them - confidence in yourself and in the God who equips you to overcome. Never forget that." (p. 10)

Hannah Richards receives these words of wisdom from a spunky older woman as she sews a bright red dress for her burial. No scene could be more appropriate for this romantic romp of a book! A Tailor-Made Bride centers around Hannah - a very talented seamstress who dreams of owning her own shop. She has a strong faith and a tremendous ability to work hard and enjoy the work given to her hands to do. When she winds up in the little town of Coventry, Texas, she literally runs into J.T. Tucker - only to discover that the means to her dream was once the key to his dreams as well.

J.T. and Hannah get off to a hilarious and often complicated beginning in this story, and as the tale progresses it seems that someone doesn't want Hannah or her shop to spoil the scenery in Coventry. As J.T. once again comes to Hannah's aide, it seems their relationship - and perhaps Hannah herself - might not survive the strain of learning to lean on one another in a time of need. You see, they both have a healthy dose of pride and independence woven into their character!

Anyway, this is a delightful book with characters that you will easily enjoy and love! If you enjoy a historical romance, pick up A Tailor-Made Bride today!



San Antonio, Texas—March 1881
“Red? Have you no shame, Auntie Vic? You can’t be buried in a scarlet gown.”

“It’s cerise, Nan.”

Hannah Richards bit back a laugh as Victoria Ashmont effectively put her nephew’s wife in her place with three little words. Trying hard to appear as if she wasn’t listening to her client’s conversation, Hannah pulled the last pin from between her lips and slid it into the hem of the controversial fabric.

“Must you flout convention to the very end?” Nan’s whine heightened to a near screech as she stomped toward the door. A delicate sniff followed by a tiny hiccup foreshadowed the coming of tears. “Sherman and I will be the ones to pay the price. You’ll make us a laughingstock among our friends. But then, you’ve never cared for anyone except yourself, have you?”

Miss Victoria pivoted with impressive speed, the cane she used for balance nearly clobbering Hannah in the head as she spun.

“You may have my nephew wrapped around your little finger, but don’t think you can manipulate me with your theatrics.” Like an angry goddess from the Greek myths, Victoria Ashmont held her chin at a regal angle and pointed her aged hand toward the woman who dared challenge her. Hannah almost expected a lightning bolt to shoot from her finger to disintegrate Nan where she stood.

“You’ve been circling like a vulture since the day Dr. Bowman declared my heart to be failing, taking over the running of my household and plotting how to spend Sherman’s inheritance. Well, you won’t be controlling me, missy. I’ll wear what I choose, when I choose, whether or not you approve. And if your friends have nothing better to do at a funeral than snicker about your great aunt’s attire, perhaps you’d do well to find some companions with a little more depth of character.”

Nan’s affronted gasp echoed through the room like the crack of a mule skinner’s whip.

“Don’t worry, dear,” Miss Victoria called out as her niece yanked open the bedchamber door. “You’ll have my money to console you. I’m sure you’ll recover from any embarrassment I cause in the blink of an eye.”

The door slammed shut, and the resulting bang appeared to knock the starch right out of Miss Victoria. She wobbled, and Hannah lurched to her feet to steady the elderly lady.

“Here, ma’am. Why don’t you rest for a minute?” Hannah gripped her client’s arm and led her to the fainting couch at the foot of the large four-poster bed that dominated the room. “Would you like me to ring for some tea?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, girl. I’m not so infirm that a verbal skirmish leaves me in want of fortification. I just need to catch my breath.”

Hannah nodded, not about to argue. She gathered her sewing box instead, collecting her shears, pins, and needle case from where they lay upon the thick tapestry carpet.

She had sewn for Miss Victoria for the last eighteen months, and it disturbed her to see the woman reduced to tremors and pallor so easily. The eccentric spinster never shied from a fight and always kept her razor-sharp tongue at the ready.

Hannah had felt the lash of that tongue herself on several occasions, but she’d developed a thick skin over the years. A woman making her own way in the world had to toughen up quickly or get squashed. Perhaps that was why she respected Victoria Ashmont enough to brave her scathing comments time after time. The woman had been living life on her own terms for years and had done well for herself in the process. True, she’d had money and the power of the Ashmont name to lend her support, but from all public reports—and a few overheard conversations—it was clear Victoria Ashmont’s fortune had steadily grown during her tenure as head of the family, not dwindled, which was more than many men could say. Hannah liked to think that, given half a chance, she’d be able to duplicate the woman’s success. At least to a modest degree.

“How long have you worked for Mrs. Granbury, Miss Richards?”

Hannah jumped at the barked question and scurried back to Miss Victoria’s side, her sewing box tucked under her arm. “Nearly two years, ma’am.”

“Hmmph.” The woman’s cane rapped three staccato beats against the leg of the couch before she continued. “I nagged that woman for years to hire some girls with gumption. I was pleased when she finally took my advice. Your predecessors failed to last more than a month or two with me. Either I didn’t approve of their workmanship, or they couldn’t stand up to my plain speaking. It’s a dratted nuisance having to explain my preferences over and over to new girls every time I need something made up. I’ve not missed that chore.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Hannah’s forehead scrunched. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought Victoria Ashmont might have just paid her a compliment.

“Have you ever thought of opening your own shop?”

Hannah’s gaze flew to her client’s face. Miss Victoria’s slate gray eyes assessed her, probing, drilling into her core, as if she meant to rip the truth from her with or without her consent.

Ducking away from the penetrating stare, Hannah fiddled with the sewing box. “Mrs. Granbury has been good to me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to set some of my earnings aside. It will be several years yet, but one day I do hope to set up my own establishment.”

“Good. Now help me get out of this dress.”

Dizzy from the abrupt starts, stops, and turns of the strange conversation, Hannah kept her mouth closed and assisted Miss Victoria. She unfastened the brightly colored silk, careful not to snag the pins on either the delicate material of the gown or on Miss Victoria’s stockings. Once the dress had been safely removed, she set it aside and helped the woman don a loose-fitting wrapper.

“I’m anxious to have these details put in order,” Miss Victoria said as she took a seat at the ladies’ writing desk along the east wall. “I will pay you a bonus if you will stay here and finish the garment for me before you leave. You may use the chair in the corner.” She gestured toward a small upholstered rocker that sat angled toward the desk.

Hannah’s throat constricted. Her mind scrambled for a polite refusal, yet she found no excuse valid enough to withstand Miss Victoria’s scrutiny. Left with no choice, she swallowed her misgivings and forced the appropriate reply past her lips.

“As you wish.”

Masking her disappointment, Hannah set her box of supplies on the floor near the chair Miss Victoria had indicated and turned to fetch the dress.

She disliked sewing in front of clients. Though her tiny boardinghouse room was dim and lacked the comforts afforded in Miss Victoria’s mansion, the solitude saved her from suffering endless questions and suggestions while she worked.

Hannah drew in a deep breath. I might as well make the best of it. No use dwelling on what couldn’t be changed. It was just a hem and few darts to compensate for her client’s recent weight loss. She could finish the task in less than an hour.

Miss Victoria proved gracious. She busied herself with papers of some kind at her desk and didn’t interfere with Hannah’s work. She did keep up a healthy stream of chatter, though.

“You probably think me morbid for finalizing all my funeral details in advance.” Miss Victoria lifted the lid of a small silver case and extracted a pair of eyeglasses. She wedged them onto her nose and began leafing through a stack of documents in a large oak box.

Hannah turned back to her stitching. “Not morbid, ma’am. Just . . . efficient.”

“Hmmph. Truth is, I know I’m dying, and I’d rather go out in a memorable fashion than slip away quietly, never to be thought of again.”

“I’m sure your nephew will remember you.” Hannah glanced up as she twisted the dress to allow her better access to the next section of hem.

“Sherman? Bah! That boy would forget his own name if given half a chance.” Miss Victoria pulled a document out of the box. She set it in front of her, then dragged her inkstand close and unscrewed the cap. “I’ve got half a mind to donate my estate to charity instead of letting it sift through my nephew’s fingers. He and that flighty wife of his will surely do nothing of value with it.” A heavy sigh escaped her. “But they are family, after all, and I suppose I’ll no longer care about how the money is spent after I’m gone.”

Hannah poked her needle up and back through the red silk in rapid succession, focused on making each stitch even and straight. It wasn’t her place to offer advice, but it burned on her tongue nonetheless. Any church or charitable organization in the city could do a great amount of good with even a fraction of the Ashmont estate. Miss Victoria could make several small donations without her nephew ever knowing the difference. Hannah pressed her lips together and continued weaving her needle in and out, keeping her unsolicited opinion to herself.

She was relieved when a soft tapping at the door saved her from having to come up with an appropriate response.

A young maid entered and bobbed a curtsy. “The post has arrived, ma’am.”

“Thank you, Millie.” Miss Victoria accepted the envelope. “You may go.”

The sound of paper ripping echoed in the quiet room as Miss Victoria slid her letter opener through the upper edge of the flap.

“Well, I must give the gentleman credit for persistence,” the older woman murmured. “This is the third letter he’s sent in two months.”

Hannah turned the dress again and bent her head a little closer to her task, hoping to escape Miss Victoria’s notice. It was not to be. The older woman’s voice only grew louder and more pointed as she continued.

“He wants to buy one of my railroad properties.”

Hannah made the mistake of looking up. Miss Victoria’s eyes, magnified by the lenses she wore, demanded a response. Yet how did a working-class seamstress participate in a conversation of a personal nature with one so above her station? She didn’t want to offend by appearing uninterested. However, showing too keen an interest might come across as presumptuous. Hannah floundered to find a suitably innocuous response and finally settled on, “Oh?”

It seemed to be enough, and Miss Victoria turned back to her correspondence as she continued her ramblings.

“When the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway out of Galveston started up construction again last year, I invested in a handful of properties along the proposed route, in towns that were already established. I’ve made a tidy profit on most, but for some reason, I find myself reluctant to part with this one.”

An expectant pause hung in the air. Keeping her eyes on her work, Hannah voiced the first thought that came to mind.

“Does the gentleman not make a fair offer?”

“No, Mr. Tucker proposes a respectable price.” Miss Victoria tapped the handle of the letter opener against the desktop in a rhythmic pattern, then seemed to become aware of what she was doing and set it aside. “Perhaps I am reticent because I do not know the man personally. He is in good standing with the bank in Coventry and by all accounts is respected in the community, yet in the past I’ve made my decision to sell after meeting with the buyer in person. Unfortunately, my health precludes that now.”

“Coventry?” Hannah seized upon the less personal topic. “I’m not familiar with that town.”

“That’s because it’s about two hundred miles north of here—and it is quite small. The surveyors tell me it’s in a pretty little spot along the North Bosque River. I had hoped to visit, but it looks as if I won’t be afforded that opportunity.”

Hannah tied off her thread and snipped the tail. She reached for her spool and unwound another long section, thankful that the discussion had finally moved in a more neutral direction. She clipped the end of the thread and held the needle up to gauge the position of the eye.

“What do you think, Miss Richards? Should I sell it to him?”

The needle slipped out of her hand.

“You’re asking me?”

“Is there another Miss Richards in the room? Of course I’m asking you.” She clicked her tongue in disappointment. “Goodness, girl. I’ve always thought you to be an intelligent sort. Have I been wrong all this time?”

That rankled. Hannah sat a little straighter and lifted her chin. “No, ma’am.”

“Good.” Miss Victoria slapped her palm against the desk. “Now, tell me what you think.”

If the woman was determined to have her speak her mind, Hannah would oblige. This was the last project she’d ever sew for the woman anyway. It couldn’t hurt. The only problem was, she’d worked so hard not to form an opinion during this exchange, that now that she was asked for one, she had none to give. Trying not to let the silence rush her into saying something that would indeed prove her lacking in intellect, she scrambled to gather her thoughts while she searched for the dropped needle.

“It seems to me,” she said, uncovering the needle along with a speck of insight, “you need to decide if you would rather have the property go to a man you know only by reputation or to the nephew you know through experience.” Hannah lifted her gaze to meet Miss Victoria’s and held firm, not allowing the woman’s critical stare to cow her. “Which scenario gives you the greatest likelihood of leaving behind the legacy you desire?”

Victoria Ashmont considered her for several moments, her eyes piercing Hannah and bringing to mind the staring contests the school boys used to challenge her to when she was still in braids. The memory triggered her competitive nature, and a stubborn determination to win rose within her.

At last, Miss Victoria nodded and turned away. “Thank you, Miss Richards. I think I have my answer.”

Exultation flashed through her for a brief second at her victory, but self-recrimination soon followed. This wasn’t a schoolyard game. It was an aging woman’s search to create meaning in her death.

“Forgive my boldness, ma’am.”

Her client turned back and wagged a bony finger at Hannah. “Boldness is exactly what you need to run your own business, girl. Boldness, skill, and a lot of hard work. When you get that shop of yours, hardships are sure to find their way to your doorstep. Confidence is the only way to combat them—confidence in yourself and in the God who equips you to overcome. Never forget that.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Feeling chastised and oddly encouraged at the same time, Hannah threaded her needle and returned to work. The scratching of pen against paper replaced the chatter of Miss Victoria’s voice as the woman gave her full attention to the documents spread across her desk. Time passed swiftly, and soon the alterations were complete.

After trying the gown on a second time to assure a proper fit and examining every seam for quality and durability, as was her custom, Victoria Ashmont ushered Hannah down to the front hall.

“My man will see you home, Miss Richards.”

“Thank you, ma’am.” Hannah collected her bonnet from the butler and tied the ribbons beneath her chin.

“I will settle my account with Mrs. Granbury by the end of the week, but here is the bonus I promised you.” She held out a plain white envelope.

Hannah accepted it and placed it carefully in her reticule. She dipped her head and made a quick curtsy. “Thank you. I have enjoyed the privilege of working for you, ma’am, and I pray that your health improves so that I might do so again.”

A strange light came into Miss Victoria’s eyes, a secretive gleam, as if she could see into the future. “You have better things to do than make outlandish red dresses for old women, Miss Richards. Don’t waste your energy worrying over my health. I’ll go when it’s my time and not a moment before.”

Hannah smiled as she stepped out the door, sure that not even the angels could drag Miss Victoria away until she was ready to go. Yet underneath the woman’s tough exterior beat a kind heart. Although Hannah didn’t fully understand how kind until she arrived home and opened her bonus envelope.

Instead of the two or three greenbacks she had assumed were tucked inside, she found a gift that stole her breath and her balance. She slumped against the boardinghouse wall and slid down its blue-papered length into a trembling heap on the floor. She blinked several times, but the writing on the paper didn’t change, only blurred as tears welled and distorted her vision.

She held in her hand the deed to her new dress shop in Coventry, Texas.

Chapter One

Coventry, Texas—September 1881
“J.T.! J.T.! I got a customer for ya.” Tom Packard lumbered down the street with his distinctive uneven gait, waving his arm in the air.

Jericho “J.T.” Tucker stepped out of the livery’s office with a sigh and waited for his right-hand man to jog past the blacksmith and bootmaker shops. He’d lost count of how many times he’d reminded Tom not to yell out his business for everyone to hear, but social niceties tended to slip the boy’s notice when he got excited.

It wasn’t his fault, though. At eighteen, Tom had the body of a man, but his mind hadn’t developed quite as far. He couldn’t read a lick and could barely pen his own name, but he had a gentle way with horses, so J.T. let him hang around the stable and paid him to help out with the chores. In gratitude, the boy did everything in his power to prove himself worthy, including trying to drum up clientele from among the railroad passengers who unloaded at the station a mile south of town. After weeks without so much as a nibble, it seemed the kid had finally managed to hook himself a fish.

J.T. leaned a shoulder against the doorframe and slid a toothpick out of his shirt pocket. He clamped the wooden sliver between his teeth and kept his face void of expression save for a single raised brow as Tom stumbled to a halt in front of him. The kid grasped his knees and gulped air for a moment, then unfolded to his full height, which was nearly as tall as his employer. His cheeks, flushed from his exertions, darkened further when he met J.T.’s eye.

“I done forgot about the yelling again, huh? Sorry.” Tom slumped, his chin bending toward his chest.

J.T. gripped the kid’s shoulder, straightened him up, and slapped him on the back. “You’ll remember next time. Now, what’s this about a customer?”

Tom brightened in an instant. “I gots us a good one. She’s right purty and has more boxes and gewgaws than I ever did see. I ’spect there’s enough to fill up the General.”

“The General, huh?” J.T. rubbed his jaw and used the motion to cover his grin.

Tom had names for all the wagons. Fancy Pants was the fringed surrey J.T. kept on hand for family outings or courting couples; the buggy’s name was Doc after the man who rented it out most frequently; the buckboard was just plain Buck; and his freight wagon was affectionately dubbed The General. The kid’s monikers inspired a heap of good-natured ribbing amongst the men who gathered at the livery to swap stories and escape their womenfolk, but over time the names stuck. Just last week, Alistair Smythe plopped down a silver dollar and demanded he be allowed to take Fancy Pants out for a drive. Hearing the pretentious bank clerk use Tom’s nickname for the surrey left the fellas guffawing for days.

J.T. thrust the memory from his mind and crossed his arms over his chest, using his tongue to shift the toothpick to the other side of his mouth. “The buckboard is easier to get to. I reckon it’d do the job just as well.”

“I dunno.” Tom mimicked J.T.’s posture, crossing his own arms and leaning against the livery wall. “She said her stuff was mighty heavy and she’d pay extra to have it unloaded at her shop.”

“Shop?” J.T.’s good humor shriveled. His arms fell to his sides as his gaze slid past Tom to the vacant building across the street. The only unoccupied shop in Coventry stood adjacent to Louisa James’s laundry—the shop he’d tried, and failed, to purchase. J.T.’s jaw clenched so tight the toothpick started to splinter. Forcing himself to relax, he straightened away from the doorpost.

“I think she’s a dressmaker,” Tom said. “There were a bunch of them dummies with no heads or arms with her on the platform. Looked right peculiar, them all standin’ around her like they’s gonna start a quiltin’ bee or something.” The kid chuckled at his own joke, but J.T. didn’t join in his amusement.

A dressmaker? A woman who made her living by exploiting the vanity of her customers? That’s who was moving into his shop?

A sick sensation oozed like molasses through his gut as memories clawed over the wall he’d erected to keep them contained.

“So we gonna get the General, J.T.?”

Tom’s question jerked him back to the present and allowed him to stuff the unpleasant thoughts back down where they belonged. He loosened his fingers from the fist he didn’t remember making and adjusted his hat to sit lower on his forehead, covering his eyes. It wouldn’t do for the kid to see the anger that surely lurked there. He’d probably go and make some fool assumption that he’d done something wrong. Or worse, he’d ask questions J.T. didn’t want to answer.

He cleared his throat and clasped the kid’s shoulder. “If you think we need the freight wagon, then we’ll get the freight wagon. Why don’t you harness up the grays then come help me wrangle the General?”

“Yes, sir!” Tom bounded off to the corral to gather the horses, his chest so inflated with pride J.T. was amazed he could see where he was going.

Ducking back inside the livery, J.T. closed up his office and strode past the stalls to the oversized double doors that opened his wagon shed up to the street. He grasped the handle of the first and rolled it backward, using his body weight as leverage. As his muscles strained against the heavy wooden door, his mind struggled to control his rising frustration.

He’d finally accepted the fact that the owner of the shop across the street refused to sell to him. J.T. believed in Providence, that the Lord would direct his steps. He didn’t like it, but he’d worked his way to peace with the decision. Until a few minutes ago. The idea that God would allow it to go to a dressmaker really stuck in his craw.

It wasn’t as if he wanted the shop for selfish reasons. He saw it as a chance to help out a widow and her orphans. Isn’t that what the Bible defined as “pure religion”? What could be nobler than that? Louisa James supported three kids with her laundry business and barely eked out an existence. The building she worked in was crumbling around her ears even though the majority of her income went to pay the rent. He’d planned to buy the adjacent shop and rent it to her at half the price she was currently paying in exchange for storing some of his tack in the large back room.

J.T. squinted against the afternoon sunlight that streamed into the dim stable and strode to the opposite side of the entrance, his indignation growing with every step. Ignoring the handle, he slammed his shoulder into the second door and ground his teeth as he dug his boots into the packed dirt floor, forcing the wood to yield to his will.

How could a bunch of fripperies and ruffles do more to serve the community than a new roof for a family in need? Most of the women in and around Coventry sewed their own clothes, and those that didn’t bought ready-made duds through the dry-goods store or mail order. Sensible clothes, durable clothes, not fashion-plate items that stroked their vanity or elicited covetous desires in their hearts for things they couldn’t afford. A dressmaker had no place in Coventry.

This can’t be God’s will. The world and its schemers had brought her to town, not God.

Horse hooves thudded and harness jangled as Tom led the grays toward the front of the livery.

J.T. blew out a breath and rubbed a hand along his jaw. No matter what had brought her to Coventry, the dressmaker was still a woman, and his father had drummed into him the truth that all women were to be treated with courtesy and respect. So he’d smile and doff his hat and make polite conversation. Shoot, he’d even lug her heavy junk around for her and unload all her falderal. But once she was out of his wagon, he’d have nothing more to do with her.


Hannah sat atop one of her five trunks, waiting for young Tom to return. Most of the other passengers had left the depot already, making their way on foot or in wagons with family members who'd come to meet them. Hannah wasn’t about to let her belongings out of her sight, though—or trust them to a porter she didn’t know. So she waited.

Thanks to Victoria Ashmont’s generosity, she’d been able to use the money she’d saved for a shop to buy fabric and supplies. Not knowing what would be available in the small town of Coventry, she brought everything she needed with her. Including her prized possession—a Singer Improved Family Model 15 treadle machine with five-drawer walnut cabinet and extension leaf. The monster weighed nearly as much as the locomotive that brought her here, but it was a thing of beauty, and she intended to make certain it arrived at the shop without incident.

Her toes tapped against the wooden platform. Only a mile of dusty road stood between her and her dream. Yet the final minutes of waiting felt longer than the hours, even years, that preceded them. Could she really run her own business, or would Miss Ashmont’s belief in her prove misplaced? A tingle of apprehension tiptoed over Hannah’s spine. What if the women of Coventry had no need of a dressmaker? What if they didn’t like her designs? What if . . .

Hannah surged to her feet and began to pace. Miss Ashmont had directed her to be bold. Bold and self-confident. Oh, and confident in God. Hannah paused. Her gaze slid to the bushy hills rising around her like ocean swells. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” The psalm seeped into her soul, bringing a measure of assurance with it. God had led her here. He would provide.

She resumed her pacing, anticipation building as fear receded. On her sixth lap around her mound of luggage, the creak of wagon wheels brought her to a halt.

A conveyance drew near, and Hannah’s pulse vaulted into a new pace. Young Tom wasn’t driving. Another man with a worn brown felt hat pulled low over his eyes sat on the bench. It must be that J.T. person Tom had rambled on about. Well, it didn’t matter who was driving, as long as he had the strength to maneuver her sewing machine without dropping it.

A figure in the back of the wagon waved a cheerful greeting, and the movement caught Hannah’s eye. She waved back, glad to see Tom had returned as well. Two men working together would have a much easier time of it.

The liveryman pulled the horses to a halt and set the brake. Masculine grace exuded from him as he climbed down and made his way to the platform. His long stride projected confidence, a vivid contrast to Tom’s childish gamboling behind him. Judging by the breadth of his shoulders and the way the blue cotton of his shirt stretched across the expanse of his chest and arms, this man would have no trouble moving her sewing cabinet.

Tom dashed ahead of the newcomer and swiped the gray slouch hat from his head. Tufts of his dark blond hair stuck out at odd angles, but his eyes sparkled with warmth. “I got the General, ma’am. We’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.” Not wasting a minute, he slapped his hat back on and moved past her.

Hannah’s gaze roamed to the man waiting a few steps away. He didn’t look much like a general. No military uniform. Instead he sported scuffed boots and denims that were wearing thin at the knees. The tip of a toothpick protruded from his lips, wiggling a little as he gnawed on it. Perhaps General was a nickname of sorts. He hadn’t spoken a word, yet there was something about his carriage and posture that gave him an air of authority.

She straightened her shoulders in response and closed the distance between them. Still giddy about starting up her shop, she couldn’t resist the urge to tease the stoic man who held himself apart.

“Thank you for assisting me today, General.” She smiled up at him as she drew near, finally able to see more than just his jaw. He had lovely amber eyes, although they were a bit cold. “Should I salute or something?”

His right brow arced upward. Then a tiny twitch at the corner of his mouth told her he’d caught on.

“I’m afraid I’m a civilian through and through, ma’am.” He tilted his head in the direction of the wagon. “That’s the General. Tom likes to name things.”

Hannah gave a little laugh. “I see. Well, I’m glad to have you both lending me a hand. I’m Hannah Richards.”

The man tweaked the brim of his hat. “J.T. Tucker.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tucker.”

He dipped his chin in a small nod. Not a very demonstrative fellow. Nor very talkative.

“Lay those things down, Tom,” he called out as he stepped away. “We don’t want them to tip over the side if we hit a rut.”

“Oh. Wait just a minute, please.” There was no telling what foul things had been carted around in that wagon bed before today. It didn’t matter so much for her trunks and sewing cabinet, but the linen covering her mannequins would be easily soiled.

“I have an old quilt that I wrapped around them in the railroad freight car. Let me fetch it.”

Hannah sensed more than heard Mr. Tucker’s sigh as she hurried to collect the quilt from the trunk she had been sitting on. Well, he could sigh all he liked. Her display dummies were going to be covered. She had one chance to make a first impression on the ladies of Coventry, and she vowed it would be a pristine one.

Making a point not to look at the liveryman as she scurried by, Hannah clutched the quilt to her chest and headed for the wagon. She draped it over the side, then climbed the spokes and hopped into the back, just as she had done as a child. Then she laid out the quilt along the back wall and gently piled the six dummies horizontally atop it, alternating the placement of the tripod pedestals to allow them to fit together in a more compact fashion. As she flipped the remaining fabric of the quilt over the pile, a loud thud sounded from behind, and the wagon jostled her. She gasped and teetered to the side. Glancing over her shoulder, she caught sight of Mr. Tucker as he shoved the first of her trunks into the wagon bed, its iron bottom scraping against the wooden floor.

The man could have warned her of his presence instead of scaring the wits out of her like that. But taking him to task would only make her look like a shrew, so she ignored him. When Tom arrived with the second trunk, she was ready. After he set it down, she moved to the end of the wagon.

“Would you help me down, please?”

He grinned up at her. “Sure thing.”

Hannah set her hands on his shoulders as he clasped her waist and lifted her down. A tiny voice of regret chided her for not asking the favor of the rugged Mr. Tucker, but she squelched it. Tom was a safer choice. Besides, his affable manner put her at ease—unlike his companion, who from one minute to the next alternated between sparking her interest and her ire.

She bit back her admonishments to take care as the men hefted her sewing machine. Thankfully, they managed to accomplish the task without her guidance. With the large cabinet secured in the wagon bed, it didn’t take long for them to load the rest of her belongings. Once they finished, Tom handed her up to the bench seat, then scrambled into the back, leaving her alone with Mr. Tucker.

A cool autumn breeze caressed her cheeks and tugged lightly on her bonnet as the wagon rolled forward. She smoothed her skirts, not sure what to say to the reticent man beside her. However, he surprised her by starting the conversation on his own.

“What made you choose Coventry, Miss Richards?”

She twisted on the seat to look at him, but his eyes remained focused on the road.

“I guess you could say it chose me.”

“How so?”

“It was really a most extraordinary sequence of events. I do not doubt that the Lord’s Providence brought me here.”

That got a reaction. His chin swiveled toward her, and beneath his hat, his intense gaze speared her for a handful of seconds before he blinked and turned away.

She swallowed the moisture that had accumulated under her tongue as he stared at her, then continued.

“Two years ago, I was hired by Mrs. Granbury of San Antonio to sew for her most particular clientele. One of these clients was an elderly spinster with a reputation for being impossible to work with. Well, I needed the job too badly to allow her to scare me away and was too stubborn to let her get the best of me, so I stuck it out and eventually the two of us found a way to coexist and even respect each other.

“Before she died, she called me in to make a final gown for her, and we fell to talking about her legacy. She had invested in several railroad properties, and had only one left that had not sold. In an act of generosity that I still find hard to believe, she gave me the deed as a gift, knowing that I had always dreamed of opening my own shop.”

“What kept her from selling it before then?” His deep voice rumbled with something more pointed than simple curiosity.

A prickle of unease wiggled down Hannah’s neck, but she couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause.

“She told me that she preferred to meet the buyers in person, to assess their character before selling off her properties. Unfortunately, her health had begun to decline, and she was unable to travel. There had been a gentleman of good reputation from this area who made an offer several times. A Mr. Tuck…”

A hard lump of dread formed in the back of Hannah’s throat.

“Oh dear. Don’t tell me you’re that Mr. Tucker?”

Have a Safe and Happy Memorial Day!!

I am humbled and proud to be a citizen of the USA. I'm thankful to be married to a veteran.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Matter of Character by Robin Lee Hatcher - REVIEWED

“Father in heaven, whatever am I to do now?” (p. 93)

This question – whether directly or indirectly - comes up a lot in Robin Lee Hatcher’s final installment of The Sisters of Bethlehem series, A Matter of Character. In this story Daphne McKinley (sister to Morgan McKinley introduced in A Vote of Confidence) is secretly making her dreams come true as the author of ten dime novels that are based on a the life of a local scoundrel some years past. She really doesn’t depend on the money she earns from publication as she is an heiress of some mean, so she is happily enjoying her dream of writing and trying to meet the publisher’s deadlines. Well, she seems happy on the surface at least. When Joshua Crawford comes to town and takes over as managing editor for the local newspaper, dear Daphne has her world upended in ways she never imagined possible! So does Joshua for what it’s worth!

I have TOTALLY enjoyed this wonderful trilogy, (A Vote of Confidence, Fit to Be Tied) and I’m a little sad to see it end. However, I can tell you that this last book of the series really is a lot of fun and includes some rather unexpected twists and turns in the plot that only serve to further endear these characters to the reader. You see, Joshua isn’t in town for the reasons everyone thinks he is, and Daphne isn’t really representing herself to the town very honestly either. As secrets are revealed and lives begin to change, you are able to clearly see God working out His plans in the town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho in ways folks ever dreamed possible!

So what are you waiting for?! Join the fun! Pick up a copy of The Sisters of Bethlehem series!! It will make for hours of wonderful summer reading!

Robin Lee Hatcher ( is the author of sixty novels, including A Vote of Confidence, When Love Blooms, Wagered Heart, Return to Me, and Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by Library Journal.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Last Christian by David Gregory - REVIEW and GIVE AWAY!

ABOUT THE BOOK: (from the publisher)

In the future, it’s possible to live forever—but at what cost?

A.D. 2088.

Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.

But a larger threat looms. The world's leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense?

As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father's unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.

In this fast-paced thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking religious themes to create a spell-binding "what-if?" novel.

Read the first chapter HERE! See the Video trailer HERE!


David Gregory has a most fascinating way of exploring complex ideas! The Last Christian takes a look at the concept of where the human spirit really resides, and the power of God to maintain His presence among His created beings no matter how hard they try to stamp Him out. Can you imagine a future point when scientists discover a way to transplant a BRAIN!? Can you imagine a life that includes virtual reality as part of every day existence? Can you imagine a government program, financing scientific efforts for very specific genocide? Can you imagine?!

David Gregory can and has and does and makes it possible for you to do this too! The Last Christian is a futuristic story with some elements that resemble science fiction. This is a very well-written book, and truly presents some fascinating scenarios for everyone to consider. However, what is even more powerfully presented is God’s awesome power to save to the uttermost and man’s complete inability (no matter how brilliant his efforts) to out maneuver the Creator of the Universe! The action builds to a haunting intensity by the end of the story, and all along the way Gregory’s characters set up fascinating thoughts for consideration. The beautiful part of this story – for me anyway – is that God NEVER changes! Twist life any way you want it, but you can’t get away from truth no matter how hard you try.

David Gregory understands that completely! If you want to read something really outside the box but inside God’s truth, consider picking up a copy of The Last Christian.

The war to compete with and remove power from God’s hands is as old as time itself. You will enjoy the entertaining consideration of this concept!



David Gregory is the coauthor of two nonfiction books and a frequent conference speaker. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning two master's degrees. David lives in Texas, where he works for a nonprofit organization.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Almost Forever by Deborah Raney

Deb Raney delivers an emotion-packed, gripping story with the creation of Bryn.

A firefighter's wife, Bryn thinks she knows more than most just how dangerous fire can be. Yet when it takes the life of her husband and four other firefighters, Bryn sees fire for the thief it truly is.

From their mutual despair, Bryn and another firefighter's surviving spouse form a close friendship. As the relationship begins to blossom into more, though, the thief comes again and Bryn must face the question: what caused the fire that stole her husband's life?


“You know, Garrett, being a hero isn’t always about saving lives and leaping tall buildings in a single bound.” (p. 128)

Bryn Hennesey spoke almost prophetically the day she shared this sage advice with Garrett Edmonds. Both Bryn and Garrett have suffered great loss at the point that their lives converge, and as each of them help one other carry the load of sorrow (and in Bryn’s case, guilt) we learn some vital things about human nature and the characteristics of grief. Deborah Raney has a unique way of exploring ideas, and her latest novel, Almost Forever, takes a close look at the different ways people respond to tragedy and the difference it makes in their lives when they allow God to work in their hearts in spite of the dark or heavy circumstances.

Bryn and Garrett are characters that readers will be easily drawn to. Garrett is a fifth-grade teacher and Bryn works part-time for the library while volunteering in a local homeless shelter. When tragedy strikes their small town the responses vary from unforgiving rage to the purest forms of grace. As friendship grows between Bryn and Garrett they must learn together what it means to offer mercy during times of great difficulty. These two main characters are supported by a cast of believable and sometimes quirky counterparts (Sparky and Boss in particular!), and they blend together to form a beautiful picture of what mercy and grace look like when reflected through our lives by our Heavenly Father. Garrett’s students prove to be mighty teachers in his life, and the unmerited favor shown to Bryn during an particularly agonizing situation prove God’s love for her like nothing else in her life thus far.

Almost Forever is a beautiful story, and I am happy to recommend it to you!


The award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty novels, Deborah Raney always delivers poignant stories of what it means to wrestle with the realities of a world in chaos...and emerge triumphant.

Her books have received the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her novel, A Vow To Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title.

Visit the author's website at:

Thank you to the folks at Glass Roads Public Relations for my review copy of this book!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Broken by Travis Thrasher

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


FaithWords (May 25, 2010)


Travis Thrasher


It was during third grade after a teacher encouraged him in his writing and as he read through The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis that Travis decided he wanted to be a writer. The dream never left him, and allowed him to fulfill that dream of writing fulltime in 2007.

Travis Thrasher is the author of numerous works of fiction, including his most personal and perhaps his deepest work, Sky Blue, that was published in summer of 2007. This year he has to novels published, Out of the Devil’s Mouth, and a supernatural thriller, Isolation.

Travis is married to Sharon and they are the proud parents of Kylie, born in November, 2006, and Hailey, a Shih-Tzu that looks like an Ewok. They live in suburban Chicago.

Stop by and visit Travis at his Blog where you can sign up to follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Travis Thrasher has a unique way of sharing tough messages, and Broken is an outstanding example of his ability to reflect God's grace and mercy in the darkest of circumstances. I've been blessed with the opportunity to speak with Travis about his work on Broken, and I'd invite you to take a look HERE at the heart behind the story.

I am happy to recommend Broken to readers who are willing to take a close look at their own heart and understand that it is in our brokenness when God reaches out and redeems us.


Laila had it all--love, family, wealth, and faith. But when her faith crumbles, her world falls apart and Laila finds herself living an empty, dangerous life as a call girl in Chicago.

When she is threatened, Laila shoots and kills a client in self-defense, sending herself into a spiral of guilt and emptiness. Six months later, she is trying to move on, but she's haunted by the past. She hasn't told anyone about the man she killed, and she's still estranged from her family.

When she is approached by a stranger who says he knows what she did, Laila has no choice but to run. But the stranger stays close behind, and Laila begins having visions of the man she killed. Little does she know she's being hounded by something not of this world, something that knows her deepest, darkest secret.

Scared and wandering, will Laila regain her trust in God to protect her from these demons? Or will her plea for salvation come too late?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Broken, go HERE.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BROKEN! A Birthday Party for Travis Thrasher's Latest Thriller! - GIFTS GALORE!


What a pleasure to welcome Travis Thrasher to my Window for the release of his latest novel, Broken. This is a story with supernatural elements, but with a depth of human suffering and, like the title suggests, brokenness that only God can heal and touch.

As sinners in a fallen world, we often make choices that take us into the depths of depravity. However, no place is out of the loving reach of our Father, and Travis explores this in a way that is unique to him - suspensefully and dangerously! So please welcome Travis to my Window as we explore his latest book, Broken.

On page 194-195 there is a passage that contains this statement: “Regardless of where you go and what you do with the rest of your life, the past is there to remind and taunt and to terrorize.”

This is such a true statement – even for God’s children! Truly Satan wants to use the past to destroy the faith of believers and to hinder unbelievers. This seems to be the foundational message within the story. Tell us how this story was first inspired?

For some time I’ve wanted to write a story about a broken woman. I’ve tried writing about someone like Laila a few times, but the stories have changed and morphed. This story ultimately was inspired by the birth of my daughter and having a whole new perspective on the term “God the father.”

Page 173 contains another powerful truth: “A man can change his ways, but his tendencies shadow his every move…He can confess that God is his master and that Jesus is his savior and yet he still might decide to forgo his master and savior and become the boss again.” I think Lex is the perfect counterpoint to Laila because of his weakness and the real power to overcome them. Why is admitting/confronting these tendencies in our lives vital to believers? How does it weaken/strengthen our faith?

The older I become, the more I realize how badly I want to control things. Yet life is completely and utterly out of our control. That makes faith a beautiful and tough thing. We have to let go of our control, yet it’s hard to do that. Admitting our weaknesses is one way of letting go.

As Christians, we know all of our sins have been forgiven, but we sometimes cling to the guilt of past sins and use it as an “I’m not worthy” excuse to forgo ministry opportunities. Have you seen/experienced this? Why are we so reluctant to accept forgiveness and do determined to tout our guilt?

I’ve definitely seen this and experienced it many times. I’ve spent my whole life struggling with past mistakes, whether they were ones I made in high school or ones I made last week. This whole thing of grace is such an amazing concept that it’s sometimes hard to really, truly believe that it exists. All my books have a theme of second chances in them. Grace is God giving us chance after chance, over and over and over again.

There is a scene on page 223 where Laila rants against God for ignoring her. She acknowledges her wrong choices, but then wants to blame God for not changing the consequences of those choices. Again, a profoundly true statement of human nature. Why do we want to blame God when things go wrong?

Admittedly, sometimes the wrongs are senseless (accidents, disease, murders ect..) but even when we are responsible for situations we tend to want to blame God for ignoring us and not rescuing us from the outcome.

Why is this such a huge stumbling block for believers and unbelievers alike?

Why can’t you ask me something like why I chose to write in present tense? J

This is a tough question to answer really quickly. But I feel that so many people think that if God does exist, then their lives should be better. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to good people, right? Yet I tend to view it like this. If God does exist and created us to serve Him, shouldn’t He have every right to destroy His creation when we end up forgetting about Him? Instead, He does the very opposite. He loves us despite the bad things we do. It goes back to what I said about grace. It boggles my mind. It really does. I could never sacrifice my child, yet that’s what He did. Bad things happen because we live in a broken world.

The very last line of the book sums up for me. (I’ll save that for the readers!)

At one point in the story the thought appears that supernatural things seem to always be credited to evil (demonic activity) when in fact sometimes there are good things (angels unaware) are also supernaturally taking place all around us. What inspired you to so creatively look at the spiritual warfare raging around us? Have you ever experienced this yourself?

To me, there is a wealth of stories that can be told about spiritual warfare. I never intended Broken to go in the direction that it did. It was early on when a thought came to me—the big a-ha in the story involving Laila’s past. To me, that made everything deeper and more meaningful.

I have always felt like God has watched over me. When you hear the term “guardian angels”, it’s easy to think of some clichéd picture that television or movies have given us. But I think there are many ways to tell stories about spiritual warfare. I hope to be able to tell many more, each in their own unique way.

What was your favorite scene in Broken? Your most difficult?

My favorite scene is one of the final scenes in New Orleans involving Laila. It’s the climax of the story where the final puzzle pieces are in place. I also really love the scene where Laila is at the lake letting go.

The most difficult to write? There was a particular scene in an abandoned church that wasn’t so fun to write. This book as a whole, too, was a heavy book (though I guess many of my books are heavy). It’s a marathon having to wade through the darkness. But it makes the end that much more rewarding.

Can you tell us what you hope to be the greatest take away value of this story?

Nobody in this world is too broken to be fixed. God doesn’t come along and fix you in neat and tidy ways, but He does save your brokenness. That sounds preachy and I’m always saying that I don’t write to preach. I don’t. With this story, I wanted to write about a woman who feels like there is absolutely no hope. She is shown grace and she manages to pick up the pieces of her life and move on.

Give us a sneak peek into your next project! I hear you are going into new territory!

In August, the first in a supernatural teen series will be released. It’s called Solitary and it’s very much in the vein of Broken. There will be four books in this series. I want Twilight fans to check it out (I know there are a few of them out there). No vampires in this story, but there is a love story combined with a dark, creepy story about a dark, creepy town.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now?

Oh, just the usual. Working on various writing projects, planning for twins in the fall . . . you know, the usual. Nothing to freak out about every other day. Nothing at all.

Closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

There are many great novels out there. I appreciate people spending time and money to read mine. I keep doing this because of the positive input I get from readers. So thanks.

Travis comes to the party bearing gifts! Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a copy of his first two stories repackaged in one volume, his favorite novel published (Sky Blue), his scariest (Isolation), Every Breath You Take and Broken!

That's five chances to win folks!! You don't want to miss this!!
These will be sent to you autographed from the author himself, so what are you waiting for? Enjoy the party!!

Broken by Travis Thrasher - REVIEWED

“Two things died that day, and one of them was my heart.” (p. 201)

Laila is a character so broken, so completely shattered, that is is difficult to hope that she can ever possibly be whole again. From the moment you meet her, she is running hard and fast toward an uncertain future and away from certain death. Travis Thrasher’s novel, Broken is an honest, brutal look into the face of human depravity and the wondrous truth that God loves us enough to hear us when we cry out for deliverance from our own brokenness.

Laila is a woman tortured by her past. What began as a naïve teenage rendezvous mushroomed into brutality that inhabits your darkest nightmares. And if that weren’t enough, the choices Laila made for years following that moment spiraled into an abyss so dark and deep that she began to believe she was coming unhinged from reality itself. Evil has followed Laila throughout her journey and threatens to smother her soul. However, her complete demise is continually thwarted by unexplained visions and actions. Is this real or imagined? Why is Laila allowed to live when others must sacrifice everything?

Readers, Broken was a complex and uncomfortable read for me. At first, I admit I was confused and uncertain of Travis Thrasher’s message. But, as has been my experience with any of his stories I have encountered, Travis subtly and carefully brings redemption to bear in the lives of his haunted, broken characters. Grace begins to leap from the pages with blinding brilliance. Honestly, the entire book was so worth the final pages that I was almost overwhelmed with gratitude and the awesome power of my loving Savior.

Again, I must refer back to my experiences working with the ladies in our local rehab facility. Laila’s character could be any of the women I’ve met over the past three years. (although addiction is not one of her vices) The desperate way she ran from her past and the hopelessness she saw in her future were palpable, and I’ve seen it time and time again in the lives of the women I work with. More than that, the darkness of my own heart and the sin that lives within it echoed Laila’s profound amazement she felt when redemption reached beyond her brokenness. We are all Laila. Grace overcomes all of our brokenness, and God’s grace alone can make us whole.

*There are curse words sprinkled throughout the manuscript. While in keeping with the depravity of the characters, it’s something I would prefer to be absent in my reading material. The language is not gratuitous though, but readers need to be aware.


It was during third grade after a teacher encouraged him in his writing and as he read through The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis that Travis decided he wanted to be a writer. The dream never left him, and allowed him to fulfill that dream of writing fulltime in 2007.

Travis Thrasher is the author of numerous works of fiction, including his most personal and perhaps his deepest work, Sky Blue, that was published in summer of 2007. This year he has to novels published, Out of the Devil’s Mouth, and a supernatural thriller, Isolation.

Travis is married to Sharon and they are the proud parents of Kylie, born in November, 2006, and Hailey, a Shih-Tzu that looks like an Ewok. They live in suburban Chicago.

Stop by and visit Travis at his Blog where you can sign up to follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Frenzy by Robert Liparulo - REVIEWED


Let’s do it!” (Xander and David – at a critical moment in the story)

Robert Liparulo has written the PERFECT ending (or is it?) for his Dreamhouse King series! Frenzy starts out with a terrifying scene, and doesn’t let up the ENTIRE novel! In the last book, Whirlwind, readers learn some key information about the King’s house and how it functions. Frenzy opens the reader’s mind even further as Xander and David discover even greater details about the ebb and flow of time and how the house serves to channel the flow. They also learn the significance of their family’s role within the time continuum, and that theirs is a role which they must choose to embrace. It is a WILD ride, readers! The search for the King’s mother becomes quite desperate as does Xander and David’s will to simply survive! You DO NOT want to miss this book!!

Xander and David take their lives in their own hands in Frenzy. These boys are determined to find their mother and rescue her from Taksidian and Phemus. What they discover in this novel, is that Taksidian is far more dangerous and evil than they ever imagined, and his plans for mankind…well, let’s just say he doesn’t care about much except his own sorry self. I don’t think he realizes the depth of the King family’s love for one another and the sheer determination they each hold in their hearts to protect and defend one another amid this bizarre assault from Time itself. It’s hard to imagine that Liparulo could possibly raise the stakes any higher, but he does indeed take suspense to an entirely new level!

As a mom, my heart wrestled with this story. I wanted to protect Xander and David so badly I could hardly contain myself! Yet as the novel went on, I found myself cheering them on, proud that they wouldn’t give up no matter the cost, and I loved the way their love for one another matured and deepened. But you know what I loved most about this book? Liparulo showcases the faith element in this story in a bold and dramatic way that readers will NEVER forget! He hasn’t done that up until now, but when he decides to share his heart – watch out! He does it in a way that only he can do, and it just blows me away!!

Frenzy…read it! Savor it! Buy the entire series for the teens in your life and give them the grandest adventure reading has to offer! What an AMAZING ride!!


Best-selling novelist Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first two critically acclaimed thrillers—Comes a Horseman and Germ—were optioned by Hollywood producers. Bestselling author Michael Palmer calls Deadfall, released in November, 2007, “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” Liparulo’s young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted in May 2008, with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. He is currently working with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) on the novel and screenplay of a political thriller. New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” Liparulo lives in Colorado with his family.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Predator by Terri Blackstock - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Zondervan (May 25, 2010)


Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.

In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.

Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


The murder of Krista Carmichael's fourteen-year-old sister by an online predator has shaken her faith and made her question God's justice and protection. Desperate to find the killer, she creates an online persona to bait the predator. But when the stalker turns his sights on her, will Krista be able to control the outcome?

Ryan Adkins started the social network GrapeVyne in his college dorm and has grown it into a billion-dollar corporation. But he never expected it to become a stalking ground for online Predators. One of them lives in his town and has killed two girls and attacked a third. When Ryan meets Krista, the murders become more than a news story to him, and everything is on the line.

Joining forces, he and Krista set out to stop the killer. But when hunters pursue a hunter, the tables can easily turn. Only God can protect them now.

Enter the Terri Blackstock iPad CONTEST:

If you would like to read the first chapter of Predator, go HERE.


“They would find her sister today.” (p.9)

And so begins Krista Carmichael’s nightmare. So begins Terri Blackstock’s latest novel, Predator. Folks, Terri Blackstock has written the reality of internet stalking into a novel that will have pages turning at a frantic pace as the Carmichael family deals with senseless tragedy. Some folks will think this is “overkill”, (pun slightly intended) to be so concerned about teens internet and phone usage. There are some sick monsters out there and they are stalking innocent children. Blackstock has captured not only the chilling reality of a stalker’s prey but the heartbreaking ache of a family who has suffered the consequences. Krista and her dad, David, are truly in a dark place – struggling to reach beyond their anger – their rage – at what has happened and still find that God has not left them alone.

Krista winds up with some very real battles on her hands as she deals with the owner of an internet social networking site, her dad’s descent into obsessive rage and helping another victim (Meagan) of this vile internet predator. My heart ached for her and the young girl Meagan most of all, because in my heart and mind the things they must experience in their desperate search are things no human being should ever suffer. This suffering is real though. All you have to do is read the daily news headlines. Children of all ages are being preyed upon by evil, evil people, and their evil is much more easily perpetrated when young folks are given unfettered access to the internet and cell phones. This fiction is frighteningly real!!

If you like to be disturbed as you read….if you like to have your heart and mind race as you ponder the evil one human can purposefully do toward another…if you have ever wondered what lurks beneath all this social connectivity we enjoy today…pick up Terri Blackstock’s Predator. I guarantee you will think a bit more carefully about what you share on the internet!!

You’ll also consider the wonderful fact that as God’s child, we are NEVER, EVER, EVER lost to Him…even in the darkest moments of our life. God is working. He is purposeful and loving and merciful even when we hurt. Praise HIM!!

Watch the book trailer video!