Review: Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: July 19, 2013
Pages: 304
Publisher: River North
Author: Anita Higman
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance
ISBN-10: 0802405800
ISBN-13: 978-0802405807
Book Source: I received this book for free from the Anita Higman for my honest review.

Blurb:

Lily Winter’s wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily’s lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she’d been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

You can purchase it Here:
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Author Bio:

ward-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-five books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen. To contact Anita or enter her monthly contest for a free signed book please visit her website at www.anitahigman.com.

You can find Anita Here:
Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads



My Review:

Lily Winter had been estranged from her mother for ten years, but with her daughter Julie away at college for the first time and with Lily suffering from a severe case of “empty nest” syndrome, she felt the need to try and reconnect with her mother. Little did she know that on that fateful day that she would lose one hope and discover another. When her mother told her she had a twin sister, Camille Daniels, who lived in Australia, Lily knew she had to find her. What she didn’t expect to find was love. The day Marcus Averill sat on the bench beside her with her cheeks stuffed full of marshmallows and despair in her heart, was the day Lily’s quiet, lonely life changed forever. Marcus was quirky and funny and everything Lily didn’t want. But underneath all of the antics, Lily soon discovered a gentle man with with a tortured soul. She found herself falling for Marcus and falling fast. Could they find a love that would weather every storm?

Marcus Averill left Texas to flee his father’s hatred. When Marcus’ younger sister Ellie was killed in a car accident, his entire life changed. He was bogged down with guilt for falling asleep at the wheel and causing the fatal accident and had given up hope of ever reconciling with his parents. That is, until he met Lily Winter. That fateful day he sat beside her on that bench their lives became interwoven. Marcus helped her find her sister and she helped him find his way, his way back to his family and in the process she stole his heart. They both had their own separate lives they needed to repair, relationships that needed to be nurtured. Could they weather their storms and still maintain their love for each other? Or would making their family priority tear them apart forever?

This book was a firestorm of emotions wrapped up in one neat little package. The moment I opened the cover a whirlwind of emotions was unleashed in me and continued long after the last page was turned. I was quite literally emotionally drained. I have often marveled at a writer’s creativity and writing ability. That’s why I am a reader, not a writer. The way Anita Higman wove this story left me in awe of both her creativity and her God-Given talent as a writer. This story was absolutely beautiful and I often found the tears flowing unheeded. Winter in Full Bloom was about Love, family reunions and Spiritual awakening. I rejoiced in the transformation of some of the characters and I absolutely fell in love with Marcus just as sure as Lily did. All of the characters endeared themselves to me and I thoroughly enjoy traveling with them on their journey. You, too, will love the journey and I say that with the utmost confidence. If you haven’t read Winter in Full Bloom you surely don’t know what you’re missing!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the Miss Anita Higman for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:





Excerpt



Chapter 1 I sat on a 747, trying to talk myself out of a panic attack. The jet still sat on the tarmac, but already I could imagine—in electrifying detail—the fiery crash and then the watery pull into the briny depths of the Pacific Ocean. Lord, have mercy. What had I been thinking? Fool that I was, I’d left the sanctuary of my own home, which was safe, and hygienically clean, I might add, to board this death trap. Too late now. I’d taken a leave of absence from work, stopped the mail, given all my indoor plants to my neighbor, and said a doz­en goodbyes to my daughter, Julie. The trip was set in stone—the igneous kind that the geologists liked to talk about at work. While I sat there sweating, my mind got out its magnifying glass to examine my inner motives. All in all, the journey had a grab bag full of miseries attached to it. For me, getting on the plane proved that the empty nest had driven me over the edge like the bib­lical herd of pigs. Since my Julie had left the house, was I trying to find a person to fill that void . . . that vacant place at the table . . . the perpetual silence of the house and the clocks, ticking away the rest of my tedious life? Probably. And yet finding my sister in Australia would be no less than wonderful, whether Julie was at home or not. I looked out the small plane window at the heavens with my anxious puppy dog eyes and could almost hear the Almighty chuck­ling. Yes, I know, God. I must keep You entertained. 13 But back to the fear at hand. I rechecked my seatbelt and pulled it so snugly I felt my pulse throbbing in my legs. My stomach busied itself doing the fandango. What had I eaten in the airport? A double bean burrito with a side of green chilies. Not a good travel choice. Did I already have motion sickness? The plane hadn’t even taken off yet. If I were to exit the plane right now, would they give me a refund? Probably not. I’d already used the restroom, crumpled the magazines, and troubled the flight attendant for a ginger ale. Lord, I need a friend. I need backup. “You have to ask yourself: what am I most afraid of?” It was the voice of a child. I turned toward the sound. “Excuse me?” Straight across the aisle sat a child no bigger than a thimble—a girl with moon-shaped eyes, a Pooh Bear T-shirt, and a wad of gum she was chomping as if it were a lump of tough meat. Surely this child isn’t backup, Lord. I think God enjoys showing off His sense of humor. “You’re scared to fly. Right? I was too, but I got over it.” The girl blew a bubble and let the purple gum pop all over her face. She gathered up the gum and put it back in her mouth for another round. “How can you tell that I’m afraid to fly?” “All that sweat. Dead giveaway. And you look like you’ve just swallowed a Boogie Board.” She exploded into giggles. I had no idea what a Boogie Board was. And in spite of the sil­liness the kid talked as if she were thirty, although she couldn’t be more than nine or ten. I had to know her secret—how she managed to rise above her fears. And something about her little turned-up nose and soft brown eyes reminded me of Julie when she was little. “And so how did you get over it . . . the fear of flying?” The girl looked at me, her big eyes gobbling me up. She lost all the playfulness when she said, “I watched my grandma die of cancer. Her body stopped working, but she was still in there. It was a bad way to die. When I get old I don’t want to go to heaven 14 that way. Maybe dying on a plane isn’t so bad. I mean, I know God doesn’t ask us, but we might as well give Him a list of our preferen . . . choices.” I wasn’t sure if her reasoning reassured me or alarmed me, but I leaned toward her and said, “I’m sorry about your grandmother.” “Yeah, me too. She always played dolls and Mario Kart with me. Every kid needs a grandma like mine.” “So true.” If only my Julie would have had a grandma like that. When the girl said no more I turned my attention back to the plane, which now taxied toward the runway. My body wanted to flee. Each time I took in air it didn’t seem to be enough, so I breathed in more. Did I smell fuel? My head went so buzzy I’d only heard half of the flight attendant’s speech. What was that about oxygen masks and exit doors and life vests? Oh, my. I fanned my face. I clutched at my heart, which was now beating itself to death. Would I pass out? Throw up? Go crazy? All the above? The cabin felt like a caldron. Maybe the air conditioner was malfunctioning. Maybe deep within the belly of the plane other more important electrical devices were failing. Things that kept the plane aloft—things that kept us from plummeting to the earth in a fiery heap. I mashed my damp bangs away from my face. “Just so ya know . . .” The little girl crossed her legs. “I also found out that you can’t die of a panic attack.” Her tone came off so pragmatic I looked at her again just to make sure the words were coming out of her petite mouth. “How do you know I was having a panic attack?” She cocked her little Freudian head at me. “Classic symptoms.” Who was this kid? And where were her parents? I unbuckled my seatbelt. “I don’t think I can do this.” I jumped up and bumped my head on the overhead storage. “We’re about to take off,” the girl said with maddening calmness. 15 I collapsed back onto the seat and rubbed my throbbing head. The contents of my stomach threatened mutiny. “I’m going to be sick.” “Here.” The girl handed me a little folded bag. “It’s a fresh one. Never been used.” I was in a tin can with wings, and there was no way out. The plane took off then. I gripped the armrest as the jet tilted upward at a steep angle. I was now officially airborne. My body felt a little weightless, but it might have been because I was sitting on the buck­le of my seatbelt, which made my posterior go numb. “Know what? You remind me of Eeyore.” It was that kid again. How could anyone make chitchat at a time like this? I said nothing to her, since I was busy concentrating on my ter­ror, the vibration of my seat, and the roar of the jet. After she glared at me for a full minute, I asked, “Why do you say I remind you of Eeyore?” “You’re wearing Eeyore clothes, and it’s almost spring where we’re going,” she sing-songed as if she couldn’t imagine anyone so ill-informed. I’d forgotten. If it’s nearing autumn in America it’s almost springtime in Australia. I’d barely thought of it. Perhaps the girl was right about my connection to Eeyore. Wait a minute. Did Eeyore even wear clothes? “Just so ya know . . . taking off and landing are the two most treacher . . .” “Do you mean treacherous?” “Yeah. That’s it. Those are the two most treach-er-ous parts of the flight.” The girl wiggled her eyebrows while continuing to thrash on the wad of gum. “If we were going to die it would have been back there. Of course, we could also crash on landing.” 16 “Good to know. Thanks.” I continued to grip the armrests since I was somehow convinced that my gesture helped the pilots keep the plane in the air. “Just so ya know, I’m Jenny.” The girl held out her hand. “What’s your name?” “Mrs. Winter.” I let go of one of the armrests to shake her hand. “You may call me Lily.” “So, why was it so important for you to get on this flight?” The dainty psychiatrist turned her big, round eyes at me again. “Talking about it might help.” “Oh it’s a very long tale of woe. I’d hate to bore you.” “Hey, what else have we got to do? It’s better than thinking about our plane catching fire and bashing into the sea.” Her finger made a little nosedive into her palm. Cute. “True.” But I feared the telling of my story would be my undoing. Where could I begin, anyway? Maybe with the visit I’d had with my mother. “Are you sure you want to hear this?” She nodded her head with wild abandon. “Well, okay. My dark story starts with a recent visit I made to my mother’s house. It’d been ten years since the last time I’d seen my mother.” Jenny pursed her lips. “Nobody does that. Everybody has to see their mom, right?” “Well, it certainly wasn’t my choice. But when I got to my mother’s house, the visit turned out to be as shocking as sticking my finger into a light socket.” I frowned. “Don’t ever do that, by the way.” “I know.” Jenny rolled her eyes. “I’m not a child.” “Right. Okay. Well, in my story I also meet a woman named Dragan.” She giggled. “Sounds like dragon.” “True. Dragan was my mother’s housekeeper, and believe me, her name fit her well.” 17 Jenny sat up poised, resting her cheek on her index finger. “I wanna know more.” She smacked her gum, waiting for me to go on. “All right.” Lord, be with me. I rested my head back on the seat, inviting the memory of that infamous day into my life. First a jumbled mess of sensations trickled in, making me shud­der. Then mist burned my eyes, thinking of Mother’s notorious se­cret and a lifetime of deception. The smarmy residue from being in her house stole over me like a dark slithering fog. Soon that day—the one that changed my life—began to unfold in my mind, so intensely that the remembering and the telling of my story became one and the same. . . . 18

Click to Tweet: Amidst every storm their love remained strong.

Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂


Lily and Marcus both were estranged from their families but for completely different reasons. In order to reconcile with their families they knew they needed to focus on them solely. To do this, they put their relationship on the back burner to be explored further once their lives were in order. Have you ever had to sacrifice a relationship for greater means? Feel free to share your story. 🙂

Katie’s Forever Promise by Jerry Eicher – Blog Tour & Review

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:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


In book 3 of author Jerry Eicher’s Emma Raber’s Daughter series, Katie puts her life together after Ben Stoll’s betrayal of her love. When she is baptized into the church, she receives a surprising offer that will keep her close to her Amish community—much to her mother’s delight.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Series: Emma Raber’s Daughter (Book 3)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736952551
ISBN-13: 978-0736952552

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Katie Raber sat on the tall, swivel chair with a smile on her face. She was now mistress and queen of this one-room Amish schoolhouse for the term. Her hiring had been reaffirmed this morning by Enos Kuntz himself, the chairman of the school board. Enos had paid her a special visit, leaving with a friendly nod and a quick comment. “I think you’ll do just fine with your new job, Katie. Let us know if you have any problems.”

Katie swept the top of her teacher’s desk clean with a shaky hand, pausing to replace the small plastic pencil holder she’d knocked over. On the other side of the room, pushed up against the window, sat a table loaded with the year’s supply of schoolbooks. She was a little scared, but she told herself there was nothing to worry about. This world of learning called her, just as she was certain it would also beckon eager young students once school began next week. And then, in less than two months, she would be twenty-one, considered an adult in her Amish community. Her wages would be her own to spend how she chose instead of sharing them with her parents—Mamm and her new husband, Jesse Mast. How blessed Katie felt. It was still hard to comprehend all the changes that had occurred in the last few years.

Katie stood and looked out the window. Enos was driving away in his buggy, his bearded face still visible through the open door. Calm was flooding over Katie now. There could be only one reason he would take the time to drive all the way over here this morning, the week before school officially begins. And it wasn’t because he harbored any doubts about her teaching abilities. The vote to hire her had been unanimous and given with pleased smiles on the faces of all three school board members.

No, Enos had stopped by to emphasize his approval one last time. Likely he thought she needed it—this being her first year teaching. But it was more than that. Enos knew the details of her past, as did all the Amish community. And they wished her well as she continued to put her life back together after the awful situation with Ben Stoll. Even now Ben was sitting in jail, serving out the last few days of his sentence.

Katie had survived that disastrous time because Da Hah had been with her, just as He’d been with Mamm and her after Katie’s daett died. And just as Da Hah had been with the two while Emma Raber raised Katie alone. Katie’s mamm had an awful reputation for a long time. After a love gone wrong in her teen years, a marriage to a man she learned to love, and then being widowed at an early age, Emma had chosen to remain a single mamm, raising her daughter on the land her husband had left her. She’d gone against usual Amish practice by refusing offers of marriage until, by Da Hah’s grace, she’d accepted a marriage proposal by a local farmer named Jesse Mast. That marriage had created a new atmosphere of change and acceptance, and Katie’s reputation had improved along with her mamm’s. After Katie fell in love with Ben and he’d turned out to be involved in the drug trade, part of her acceptance in the community came from how much she was admired for the way she’d handled herself since Ben Stoll’s arrest and imprisonment.

She’d loved Ben with all of her heart. And he had broken and smashed her trust beyond repair. Now he was no longer part of her life. That had all happened over a year ago, when the news of Ben’s arrest had reached Katie while she was in Europe with her Mennonite friends Margaret Kargel, Sharon Watson, and Nancy Keim. Only Da Hah’s healing touch a few days later had kept her from spending years in bitterness and sorrow. The miracle had happened the morning they’d gone up in a cable car high in the Alps to Schilthorn, where she’d seen the mighty works of Da Hah’s hands displayed in the mountain range around her. The tears had flowed freely that morning, washing the deepest pain from her heart. Afterward, she’d returned home and continued mourning her loss for a time, but without the crushing hopelessness that had first gripped her heart. Then last fall she’d made application to join the instruction class to officially join the Amish church, and this spring the wunderbah day had arrived. She’d been baptized by Bishop Jonas Miller himself! She was now a member of the church.

If anyone had entertained doubts about her, they’d been answered in how Katie had lived her life the past year. She still stayed in touch with her Mennonite friends Margaret and Sharon, but she saw them infrequently. The invitation to Margaret’s wedding had arrived in the mail yesterday, and Katie would certainly attend. Beyond that, Sharon and Margaret understood that Katie had made the best choice for her—to stay within the Amish faith. And it was, Katie told herself. Her heart was settled on the matter. The Amish were her people, and this was her home. She’d seen the land of the church fathers in Switzerland, and now she’d chosen this faith for herself. This community in Delaware was the place where her heart could rest for whatever time Da Hah had for her on this earth.

Enos’s buggy was already a black speck just before disappearing around the curve in the road. In addition to his interest in her success in the classroom, there was the suspicion on Katie’s part that Enos had hopes she would be his next daughter-in-law. She could tell by the light that sprang up in his eyes when he spoke to her of his son Norman.

Norman Kuntz, though, wasn’t like his daett at all. He was shy and withdrawn for the most part. The boy was handsome enough and came from an excellent family, so he ought to bubble with confidence, but he didn’t. So far he’d lacked the courage to take Katie home from the Sunday-night hymn singing—although he did spend considerable time stealing glances at her in the meetings. He’d mustered up enough courage lately to send a few tentative smiles her way.

There was nothing in Norman that set Katie’s heart pounding so far. Not like Ben Stoll had done. That had been another matter entirely. But Katie knew she shouldn’t be comparing Norman with Ben. Her life had changed for the better now, and she wasn’t going back to the past. Ben had been a terrible misjudgment, and she didn’t plan to repeat the error.

This time whoever the man was who drove her home, Katie wanted Mamm’s full support. And hopefully Jesse’s too, although he’d mostly care about whether the young man was a gut church member and knew how to work hard. Norman met both of those standards quite well. It helped, of course, that he would be a gut provider for his family, but that paled in comparison to the really important matter to Katie. Her main concern was that Norman would never do what Ben had done—break her heart.

Katie sighed, pushing the dark thoughts aside. Things were coming together well for her. This offer of a teaching job had been another blessing from Da Hah. One of the many she’d been given since Ben’s betrayal.

Katie sighed again, allowing her mind to wander into the past. For years she’d dreamed of capturing Ben Stoll’s attention. Mamm had warned her that such handsome boys were above her, and she shouldn’t dream that way. And that was long before Ben even knew Katie existed. But Mamm had been drawing from her own experience of rejection, and the young man she’d loved had never even asked her home. So Katie had rejected Mamm’s counsel and hadn’t drawn back when Ben finally noticed her at a Mennonite Youth Gathering. She’d ridden in Ben’s buggy and held his hand. They’d even kissed—often and with great joy. How could she have been so wrong about him? Katie pondered the question and managed a faint smile. Even in this situation she could be thankful. The pain of that question no longer stung as much. She’d given the pain and hard questions over to Da Hah. He knew the answers, and He would forgive her where she’d been wrong.

Now she was being given a wunderbah opportunity by the community. They were entrusting her with the care of their children for a whole school year. This honor had been held by Ruth Troyer for the past few years. After chasing Jesse Mast before he’d married Katie’s mamm, Ruth had finally found a man who asked to wed her—Albert Gingerich. He was an older farmer in the community whose wife had passed away last year.

Ruth had stepped down from consideration as a teacher this summer in preparation for her wedding, although she probably hadn’t imagined in her wildest dreams that Katie Raber would be offered her job. Ruth might have hung on for another year if she’d known that. After all, she’d been rebuffed by Jesse in favor of Katie’s mamm, Emma Raber, and the sting of the rejection and community talk surely still rankled in Ruth’s mind.

Katie smiled at the memory of Mamm and Jesse’s courtship. The two widows—Emma and Ruth—had faced each other down, and Mamm had won! The strange thing was that Mamm hadn’t put up much of a fight—at least not out in the open. But maybe that was the allure that drew Jesse in. Katie decided she needed to allow that Mamm had more wisdom than she let on at times. Ruth had had all of Jesse’s children on her side at first, and she put her best moves on Jesse by baking the pecan pies he loved. Mamm, on the other hand, had turned down Jesse’s advances the first few times he came calling, which seemed to make him all the more determined. And when she finally came around, Emma offered nothing but herself. In the end, all of Jesse’s children except Mabel, the eldest, had come over to Mamm’s side.

Mabel hadn’t been the easiest person to live with after the wedding, but since Katie’s return from Europe they were on decent terms. Mabel’s heart had been softened last year by seeing the great heartache Ben’s betrayal had caused Katie.

A rattle of buggy wheels in the schoolyard interrupted her thoughts. Katie walked to the window again. She gasped as Ruth Troyer climbed out of her buggy. What did she want? Had she forgotten some of her personal possessions? If so, she could have come in the evening after I’d gone home, Katie thought. But, there was no sense avoiding Ruth, so she might as well put on a brave front.

“Gut morning,” Ruth said with a forced smile when Katie opened the door.

“Gut morning,” Katie replied as she held the door and invited Ruth in.

“I thought I might catch you here this morning.”

“Yah,” Katie managed to get out, her smile gone now. “There’s much to do before school starts.”

Ruth pushed past her and bustled inside. “I thought I’d drive over in case you might want some advice, seeing this is your first term and all. And remember, I did teach here for three years so I know many of the students and the material. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them.”

Katie swallowed hard. “Did the school board send you?”

Ruth laughed. “Nee, I’m here on my own. Don’t tell me you’re too high and mighty to accept help? Just because you’re a schoolteacher now doesn’t mean we don’t all remember where you came from, Katie Raber. After all, that man of yours is still sitting in jail.”

“I have no connection with Ben Stoll anymore,” Katie countered. “I haven’t seen him since before he was arrested.”

“Well, that doesn’t matter now.” Ruth breezed around the room, speaking over her shoulder. “I guess we all make our mistakes. But I, for one, would have seen that one coming. And I suspect your mamm did, but she was too busy stealing Jesse from me to warn you.”

Katie turned and watched Ruth. This was after all her schoolhouse now, and she’d better act like it was. Katie kept her voice even. “Mamm did have reservations about Ben—just to set the record straight. And she didn’t steal Jesse from you. Jesse made up his own mind.”

Ruth turned around. “Things do turn out for the best now, don’t they? Thank Da Hah Jesse didn’t decide on me. Then I never would have been available for Albert’s proposal. Did you know he farms more than 100 acres northwest of Dover? Some of the best black soil in the area. It’s worth a fortune. He’ll have a mighty gut heritage to hand down to his children.”

Katie forced a smile. “I’m glad for you, Ruth. And Mamm has fallen deeply in love with Jesse, so everything did turn out for the best.”

“It always does.” Ruth glared at Katie. “And I guess you know gut and well why you got this job. Enos is expecting quite a lot out of his investment, if you ask me.”

“I don’t expect you know what you’re speaking of,” Katie said. She tried to still her pounding heart. How this woman could get under her skin! Enos might hope she’d date his son, but he hadn’t made any requirement or suggestion for her to do so while hiring her.

Ruth laughed. “I don’t think you’re that blind, Katie. Enos is a man of high standards. And your past hasn’t gone away, believe me. He’s just overlooking it right now. But if you turn down the advances of his youngest son, I doubt if things will stay that way for long.”

Katie almost sputtered a denial, but she pressed her lips together instead. Nothing would persuade Ruth’s mind. Not once she’d made it up. And there likely was some truth to the woman’s statements.

Ruth smiled, apparently taking Katie’s silence as victory. “Let me show you the books then, and I’ll get out of here. I have a ton of things that need doing for the wedding preparations, but I told myself this morning that I owe you at least one visit since I was the former teacher. I’m aware you know nothing about teaching. I do hate to see you thrown into this situation and making a total mess out of it—to say nothing about all the decent learning from the past few years that could be lost. Let’s look at the books for this term.”

Katie walked toward the table by the window. Two of the books had fallen to the floor while she’d been going through them, but she hadn’t noticed until Ruth’s criticizing presence entered the room.

Ruth marched over and bent down to pick up the books. “This is no way to treat new books! I always told myself, if I don’t respect the school’s property, how can I expect ‘my’ children to? Because they do, after all, learn more by example than by any lecture. But how would you know such a thing? Your mamm probably never taught you much.”

Katie choked back her response. Ruth was trying to goad her into saying something she might regret. And Enos had just been here, and he’d said nothing about books lying on the floor. Everyone knew such things happened during unpacking. But Katie knew Ruth would only see more of Enos’s scheming and favor in his silence, so she might as well keep quiet about that too.

Ruth’s voice continued in lecture mode. “These are your first-grade reading books, Katie. Be sure to spend plenty of time with that age group. The children need to learn quickly because everything else is at a standstill until they learn how to read.”

Katie nodded, forcing herself to listen. Ruth was telling her some
gut things, and she did have much to learn. She even managed to keep a smile on her face as the former teacher droned on far longer than Katie had hoped. Over an hour later, Katie was more than ready to see Ruth leave. She summoned up her best manners as Ruth finally prepared to go. “Thank you for your time, Ruth. I do appreciate it.”

“It’s gut that you can listen,” Ruth remarked. “I guess your mamm taught you something after all. Now, will you come out and hold my horse for me? He gets a little skittish when I take off. Albert promised me a decent horse when I move into his house after the wedding. Now that’s a decent man, if you ask me.”

Katie held her tongue as she walked outside. She held the bridle of Ruth’s horse as the former teacher climbed inside the buggy.

“I hope you remember everything I told you,” Ruth said as she took off with a slap of the reins.

Grinding her teeth, Katie watched Ruth go. That woman was the limit and then some. But Ruth was also a creature Da Hah had made, and her elder besides. And the woman had given her some useful advice.



My Review:

Katie Raber was suffering from a broken heart. After years of being known as “Emma Raber’s odd daughter”, Katie had finally won the attention of the man she secretly admired. Things were going so well with Ben. Each week they went to the nearby Mennonite youth meetings together and a deep love for each other had come fast to their young hearts. But then Ben was arrested for selling drugs and sent to prison. Katie was angry at Ben’s betrayal and her heart was broken. Now Ben is out of prison and, after an attack on Ben’s life, Katie goes to the hospital to help him fight for his life. When the old feelings come flooding back can Katie fight them or will she give into what her heart wants? After Ben was arrested Katie worked hard to repair her reputation in the community. Is it worth risking to be with the man she loves? Will she follow her heart or let the warnings of the people around her keep her from her heart’s greatest desire?

Ben Stoll had been questioning the Amish faith for years so it was easy for him to get drawn into something so sinister as drug dealing. But when Ben started seeing Katie Raber he knew he wanted no more part of such dealings but, by then, it was too late. He was arrested and sent to jail to serve out his sentence. Now he was free and back home with his family. But would he ever be welcomed back into arms of the community. Most importantly, could he win back Katie’s heart? When he is shot and then asked to leave his beloved Amish community all seems lost but Ben holds out hope that the damage he has caused can be repaired. Being sent away by the Elders is devastating but Ben also knows it’s for the best until he can prove he is a changed man. With their faith in God and their love for each other strong, Ben and Katie fight for a life together while it seems the world is trying to keep them apart.

Katie’s Forever Promise is book three in the Emma Raber’s Daughter series. I found it can be read as a stand alone but I think I would have gotten the most out of it had I read it in sequence. I did love that Jerry Eicher brought in elements I’m not used to reading in Amish fiction. Drugs, abuse, jail and the court system. The characters were lovable with the exception of Katie’s step sister Mabel. I so wanted to shake her but, in the end, I learned to love her and even felt sympathy for her. I loved the way Ben and Katie continued to love each other and hold out hope through all the hardships and road blocks they faced. I would like to go back and read the previous books in this series to see the events leading up to book 3. If you like Amish fiction I think you will enjoy this book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:



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Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂


Katie and Ben faced several challenges on the road to love. What about you? Have you ever been in a relationship where you had hard challenges that were outside the norm to face? Leave a comment below and share your story.

Review: The Jewel Bundle Trilogy 2 – Emerald Fire & Topaz Heat by Hallee Bridgeman

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: March 29, 2013
Pages: 484
Publisher: Olivia Kimbrell Press
Author: Hallee Bridgeman
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporay Romance
ASIN: B00C456DB4
Book Source: I received this book for free from Bookfun.org for my honest review.

Blurb:

Emerald Fire and Topaz Heat, the complete contemporary Christian romance novels and Books 2 and 3 of the critically acclaimed Jewel Trilogy are bundled together for the first time ever exclusively on Amazon. This is the complete story of Maxine Bartlett and Sarah Thomas, the two younger of the three half-sisters readers around the world have come to know and adore. These are stories of redemption and transformation that ultimately lead to the kind of love that will span all eternity.

In Emerald Fire, beautiful and vivacious Maxine finally finds a love that will release her from the prison of her terrifying past. But, will her new husband’s mistrust of God stand in the way of their happily ever after?

In Topaz Heat, readers are reintroduced to a grown up Derrick DeNunzio. Derek was a poor tough street kid made into a billionaire’s protégé and groomed for wealth and success. From the moment Derrick first met Sarah he knew he had found his reason to live. Sarah saw only an unshaven tough kid covered with tattoos and shut down every advance. A decade later, will Sarah finally set aside her prejudices and open her heart to true love?

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon  *  BAM





Author Bio:

Hallee Bridgeman lives with her husband and their three children in small town Kentucky. When she’s not writing Christian romance novels (hallee.bridgemanfamily.com), she blogs about all things cooking and homemaking at Hallee the Homemaker (halleethehomemaker.com).

Hallee started writing when her oldest child and only daughter was a baby, but a busy professional career and being the wife of a deployed soldier had her shelve her books for another time. Two more children, a cross country move, and God’s perfect timing brought the books off of the shelf to be dusted off and presented to you now. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit. She prays her books are a blessing to you and would love to hear back from you. You can reach Hallee by using the contact information on her websites.

You can find Hallee Here:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter



My Review:

Maxine “Maxi” Bartlett has lived her life trying to forget the past. Growing up with a heroine addict for a mother who pimped herself out for drugs was rough but even more devestating was the sexual abuse at the hands of the men her mother associated with. Her memories were cold, dark and mentally exhausting but her art was beautiful, tranquil and peaceful. She used her painting to forget, to drown out the memories. Just as she used sports as a way to spend time with her best friend, Barry Anderson. Maxine has known Barry for several years having met him through her brother-in-law Tony. The only problem is Barry has been married for eighteen years to his college sweetheart Jaqueline. When tragedy strikes, Maxine only wants to show her support and be a comfort to Barry but what starts out as comforting a friend soon opens Maxine’s eyes to her true feelings for Barry. But will Barry’s sudden lack of trust in God come between them?

Barry Anderson has known for quite some time that his marriage isn’t what it should be. Although he has prayed for years that his wife will have a change of heart things continue to go sour. When Jaqueline dies suddenly, Barry turns away from God and runs straight to his best friend, Maxine Bartlett. Maxine has been his saving Grace for years. When his wife turned away from him it was Maxine he spent time with but it was only after his wife’s death that he began to realize his feelings for Maxine. Barry is afraid, afraid that his prayers might bring harm Maxine like they brought harm to his wife so he pushes Maxine away. But will more tragedy bring him back to Maxine and the God he so loves or will it drive them apart forever?

I loved Maxine’s character. She was perky and upbeat but underneath she was hurting and afraid. She was living with sexual abuse and I loved that she had an outlet in her painting. Like her older sister Robin from book one, she is very loyal and protective of those she loves. She struggled with her Faith, having never felt a true kinship with God, but, in the end, she came to love him fully and I think that is an issue we have all faced in our past. Likewise with Barry. He struggled with his trust in God. I loved that Barry was so loyal to his wife even after numerous transgressions on her part. He prayed regularly that God would help her love him again. I thought that showed a beautiful side to Barry’s character. He had a hard time coming to terms with his love for Maxine but, when he did, he jumped in with both feet. It was so amazing the way he took care of her even at her worst.

I thought Emerald Fire was a beautiful compliment to book one in the series and I have to admit I was excited to visit the characters once again. I wasn’t disappointed because Miss Hallee delivered book two with a true God-given talent for the written word. The characters were so true-to-life and faced real challenges and disappointments that everyone can relate to in some way. A personal relationship with God is at the forefront of their lives and they blend it beautifully with their personal lives as well. They turn to God in EVERY situation but, at the same time, the spiritual aspect is not overly done. I loved the relationship between Maxine and Barry even though I sometimes wanted to shake him a bit. I also think he handled Maxine and her memories of her past with a tenderness and caring that I found amazing. Emerald Fire is fictional romance at it’s BEST!



My Review:

Sarah Thomas had despised Derrick DeNunzio since the first day she met him in her brother-in-law’s kitchen standing shirtless over an uneaten tuna sandwich. The street kid with the chocolate brown eyes and the sharp tongue made her blood boil. When he moved away it was alright with Sarah. She didn’t even realize she missed him… Until he came back. After six years in New York she had managed to suppress the feelings Derrick stirred to life in her. Her adoptive parents had high standards and Sarah did everything in her power to uphold her squeaky clean image for their sake. Derrick went against everything she tried maintain and, for that reason alone, she did all she could to push him away. But when her car won’t start it’s Derrick that comes to her aid. When her father passes away its Derrick face she is most happy to see at the funeral. When her memories from the past begin to resurface its Derrick who is there to comfort her. When had he become such an important part of her life and just when had Sarah come to love him so much?

Derrick DeNunzio had left his past behind at the age of eighteen. Living on the streets and stealing to survive wasn’t a life he wanted or even wanted to remember. He owed his very life to Tony Viscolli. Tony brought him in off the streets, sent him to college, gave him a job welcomed him into his home. That first night was the night he met Sarah Thomas. Little pixie Sarah with the red, curly hair and pale skin moved into Derrick’s heart the very first time they met. He loved her then and, after six years separation, he loves her still. Derrick has prayed daily that Sarah will return his feelings and, just when he is making progress, his past comes back to haunt him. Will they have a future together or will a confrontation with a ghost from his past bring it to an end?

With their Faith in God and their love for each other, they meet their challenges head-on surrounded by the love of God and family.

I have to say, I loved Sarah’s character. Even though she was small in stature she faced the challenges that came her way like David faced Goliath. She was strong when needed and resented that everyone insisted on treating her like a child even though she was almost thirty. She had a brave spirit and was level headed in a crisis. She made me smile when she stood up for herself and finally put her mother in her place. But the thing I loved most about Sarah was the way she loved. God, family, friends and, in the end, Derrick. No one was untouched by her deep abiding love.

Derrick was a true hero. He survived life on the streets, cleaned up his act and made something of himself. I fell in love with Derrick’s character a little more with the turn of each page. The tough street kid had a heart of gold and continued to rescue Sarah all the way to the end. His undying love was a beautiful thing and, I have to admit, I had been rooting for him since he was introduced in book one of the series.

In my opinion, the books in this series just got better and better as they went along. The final book, Topaz Heat, was by far my favorite. I loved the main characters in this book the most I think. The way they came together to face their challenges, turned to God to handle their every need and the way they separated themselves from each other only to be brought back together in the end. It was a journey I thoroughly enjoyed. Anyone that knows me knows my heart is in historical fiction but I have to admit that this is the best series I have ever read… PERIOD. Although each book can be read as a stand alone, I encourage you to start with book one and follow through to the end. I guarantee you won’t have a problem following through!

My Rating:



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the The Book Club Network for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

Click to Tweet: Will The Two Remaining Jewels Of Boston Finally Find True Love?”

Review: Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: September 24, 2013
Pages: 352
Publisher: Zondervan
Author: Robin Lee Hatcher
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Romance
ASIN: B00BW295KG
Book Source: I received this book for free from Zondervan for my honest review.

Blurb:

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for seven years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition—-she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon  *  BAM  *  CBD







Author Bio:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of 70 books. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin and her husband currently reside in Idaho.

You can find Robin Here:
Website  *  Blog  *  Facebook  *  
Twitter  *  Pinterest





My Review:

After her husband was presumed dead while fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba, Diana Brennan had finally decided to move on with her life. Little did she know on the night her engagement to Brook Calhoun was to be announced, her “deceased” husband would show up. Shortly after her marriage to Tyson Applegate he broke her heart when he up and left to travel the world. Diana loved Tyson with her whole heart but the one thing she couldn’t do was make him love her back. Now after years of grieving his absence and his presumed death, he has watlzed back into her life. What Diana can’t figure out is why but, regardless of the reason, she refuses to let him back into her heart.

Tyson Applegate ran. It is as simple as that. He ran from his tyrant of a father. He ran from his marriage. He ran away from everything he had ever known. But when he learns Diana is having him declared legally dead so she can marry another man he knows he can’t let it happen. During all of his travels and time fighting in Cuba he finally realized something… He loves his wife. Totally and completely. But now he must find a way to get Diana to trust him again. He knows he needs her by his side as he runs for the senate and he uses that fact along with under-handed tactics to get Diana to agree to live with him for six months as a trial basis. If he can’t prove he is a changed man and that his love for Diana is real, she is free to leave and live her life without him. Can Tyson prove his love and heal Diana’s broken heart in time?

Beloved is the third book in the Where the Heart Lives series. Robin Lee Hatcher finishes her series off with finesse. Diana lacks the ability to trust and it’s understandable after what she has been through. In her young life her father deserted his family, her mother died when she was only six, she was seperated from her brother and sister and her husband abandoned her and left her broken. So, yes, she had trust issues. But she was also a woman that loved completely, with her whole heart. I loved it when she finally stopped being meek and found her backbone. She had her doubts about God because of all of the things that had happened to her but in the end she rejoiced in where He had led her. She went from uncertain to positive of her Creator’s undyling love and ever flowing Grace.

Tyson got my ire up with the way he had treated Diana but, as the story progressed, I came to understand just why he did the things he did and I became his champion. I so wanted Diana to hurry and give him a break and I laughed out loud when Tyson discovered Ned, the homeless boy that came to live with them, had a dog. The following paragraph reads: “A wife, Tyson had wanted. A widowed mother-in-law, he’d expected. But a cat, an orphan and now a stray dog as well? What a menagerie! Exactly when had he lost control of his household?” LOL Poor Tyson! But in the end he showed himself to be a man that Diana admired. He would move mountains for her and that makes for a good romance!

I have never been disapointed with one of Miss Robin’s books yet. This was a beautiful story of, not only rekindled love but rekindled faith as well. I was led on a journey from beginning to end and when I reached the final destination I was thoroughly satisfied with the story as a whole. Love, romance, a spiritual awakening and a little suspense thrown in. There is something for everyone among the pages of this book. If you haven’t read it yet, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:



Click to Tweet: Can He Win Her Trust And Ultimately Mend Her Broken Heart?”



Review and Giveaway! – Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: September 24, 2013
Pages: 352
Publisher: Zondervan
Author: Robin Lee Hatcher
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Romance
ASIN: B00BW295KG
Book Source: I received this book for free from Zondervan for my honest review.

Blurb:

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for seven years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition—-she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon  *  BAM  *  CBD







Author Bio:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of 70 books. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin and her husband currently reside in Idaho.

You can find Robin Here:
Website  *  Blog  *  Facebook  *  
Twitter  *  Pinterest





My Review:

After her husband was presumed dead while fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba, Diana Brennan had finally decided to move on with her life. Little did she know on the night her engagement to Brook Calhoun was to be announced, her “deceased” husband would show up. Shortly after her marriage to Tyson Applegate he broke her heart when he up and left to travel the world. Diana loved Tyson with her whole heart but the one thing she couldn’t do was make him love her back. Now after years of grieving his absence and his presumed death, he has watlzed back into her life. What Diana can’t figure out is why but, regardless of the reason, she refuses to let him back into her heart.

Tyson Applegate ran. It is as simple as that. He ran from his tyrant of a father. He ran from his marriage. He ran away from everything he had ever known. But when he learns Diana is having him declared legally dead so she can marry another man he knows he can’t let it happen. During all of his travels and time fighting in Cuba he finally realized something… He loves his wife. Totally and completely. But now he must find a way to get Diana to trust him again. He knows he needs her by his side as he runs for the senate and he uses that fact along with under-handed tactics to get Diana to agree to live with him for six months as a trial basis. If he can’t prove he is a changed man and that his love for Diana is real, she is free to leave and live her life without him. Can Tyson prove his love and heal Diana’s broken heart in time?

Beloved is the third book in the Where the Heart Lives series. Robin Lee Hatcher finishes her series off with finesse. Diana lacks the ability to trust and it’s understandable after what she has been through. In her young life her father deserted his family, her mother died when she was only six, she was seperated from her brother and sister and her husband abandoned her and left her broken. So, yes, she had trust issues. But she was also a woman that loved completely, with her whole heart. I loved it when she finally stopped being meek and found her backbone. She had her doubts about God because of all of the things that had happened to her but in the end she rejoiced in where He had led her. She went from uncertain to positive of her Creator’s undyling love and ever flowing Grace.

Tyson got my ire up with the way he had treated Diana but, as the story progressed, I came to understand just why he did the things he did and I became his champion. I so wanted Diana to hurry and give him a break and I laughed out loud when Tyson discovered Ned, the homeless boy that came to live with them, had a dog. The following paragraph reads: “A wife, Tyson had wanted. A widowed mother-in-law, he’d expected. But a cat, an orphan and now a stray dog as well? What a menagerie! Exactly when had he lost control of his household?” LOL Poor Tyson! But in the end he showed himself to be a man that Diana admired. He would move mountains for her and that makes for a good romance!

I have never been disapointed with one of Miss Robin’s books yet. This was a beautiful story of, not only rekindled love but rekindled faith as well. I was led on a journey from beginning to end and when I reached the final destination I was thoroughly satisfied with the story as a whole. Love, romance, a spiritual awakening and a little suspense thrown in. There is something for everyone among the pages of this book. If you haven’t read it yet, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensated.

My Rating:



Click to Tweet: Can He Win Her Trust And Ultimately Mend Her Broken Heart?”

Giveaway!



Somehow I would up with TWO copies of Beloved so I wanted to pass one on to my readers as a way of saying thank you. One winner will receive a free, brand spanking new copy. All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends 10/10/2013 at 12:00 am EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway