Friday, August 21, 2020

A Dazzle of Diamonds by Liz Johnson - REVIEWED



Penelope Hunter loves her job as the event manager at one of Savannah's premier historic venues--until her ex-fiancĂ© walks into her office with his new bride-to-be. Surely she cannot be expected to plan their wedding. To make matters worse, a scheming social matriarch is threatening to take her big-ticket event elsewhere, especially if Penelope insists on being seen with her best friend, Tucker Westbrook.

Since returning from serving two tours in the Middle East, Tucker has built a thriving security company. His work is nearly as stabilizing as his lifelong friendship with Penelope. But when the lone candidate for county sheriff goads him, Tucker loses his cool and ends up on the ballot--and on the receiving end of a smear campaign claiming the Westbrooks were traitors to the South.

To clear his name, Tucker and Penelope must join forces to find the truth behind a lost Civil War treasure. But the more time they spend together, the closer she comes to losing her job--and falling helplessly in love.

My Thoughts:

"Love is love because it's freely given.  It may cost everything, but it is free to give."  (p. 304)

Penelope Hunter and Tucker Westbrook have a bit of trouble determining what love looks like in their lives. Caught up in community drama, public scrutiny and good 'ole fashioned Southern Tradition, these two find themselves entangled in a personal way that seems way too complicated for anyone's good. On top of that,there is a public office at stake based on a treasure hunt that has gone on for over a century! True to the depth of Southern pride, and the propensity of gossip, a dark shadow is cast over the lives of many!

You know, if I wasn't born and raised in the South, I might have missed some of the nuances of this story.  However, I was able to totally relate to everyone's point of view - from Penelope's stress about her job performance for her very elite clientele, to Tucker's anxiety spawned by his father's expectations.  I even understand the weird dynamic that causes Penelope and Tucker to cook up the drama that almost costs them what matters most.

I love the way they allow history and mystery steer them toward the truth in every area of their lives.  This is a fun and very unexpected read!  There is SO MUCH going on that you have a hard time putting it down! You have to find out where the next clue leads!

Well, I'm going to stop here before I say too much.  If you want a Southern Romance, then pick this up and settle in for a good read!  Enjoy!! I did!


Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Sparkle of SilverA Glitter of GoldThe Red Door InnWhere Two Hearts Meet, and On Love's Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. She works in marketing and makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.

Monday, August 3, 2020

These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker - REVIEWED

Once held captive and tortured on a mysterious mountain, Dan was lucky to have made it out alive. But freedom comes at a cost. Left with little memory of the horrific ordeal, Dan can recall one thing--his escape meant leaving his brother behind.

With each day that passes, Dan waits with the other survivors in hope of his brother's escape. But just as long-forgotten memories start rising to the surface, the sudden appearance of a wounded woman throws everything into question. As Dan struggles to know who to trust, he is caught once again in a paralyzing moral dilemma:

How far will he go to save the people he loves?    


Shawn Smucker is the award-winning author of Light from Distant Stars, the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, and the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at

My Thoughts:
"It's the kind of place you have to leave on your own.  Everyone who has ever left has battled their way out.  In this place, our guilt consumes us."  p. 203

After reading this book, I've had to sit with its truth for a few days before writing my review.  I'll be honest, when I began reading, I stayed a bit confused by the story line.  I was confused about the location and the circumstances in which I found the characters living.  So, I have to say from the very beginning, stick with this story!!  Everything will become clear as you read.  As you take steps toward understanding, things will become clearer and clearer.  It is SO WORTH the journey!

I know, if you've been reading my blog anytime at all, you know I always intersect with a story at a God appointed moment in my life.  This story intersects my life in a season of growth and change.  Those two words sound amazing, no?  However, they are, in reality uncomfortably hard.  The characters in this story are in that same place, but they don't exactly realize it.  Truth be told, the journey to understand that truth about their lives is a bit circuitous. This is not an action packed thriller.  Rather, this is a story that is personal, individual and challenges us as such to learn to be an honest contributor to the groups we find ourselves a part, church, work, friends.

I encourage everyone to take the time to savor this book. It is very different from most fiction I've read lately. The characters are very believable, and you will like some more than others.  This is an analogous tale, and, as such, needs to be read with an open mind.  Experience it. You will be so glad you did!!