Rachel Dodge is the bestselling author of The Anne of Green Gables Devotional: A Chapter-By-Chapter Companion for Kindred Spirits (Barbour 2020) and Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen (Bethany House 2018). Rachel teaches college English classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and book clubs, and is a writer for the popular Jane Austen’s World blog and Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine. She is passionate about encouraging and equipping families to grow closer to Jesus through prayer and the study of God’s Word. A true kindred spirit at heart, Rachel enjoys books, bonnets, and ball gowns. She makes her home in California with her husband and their two children.
I loved the book Little Women as a child and have read it several times. I think my childhood copy may still be hiding in my attic somewhere. When I saw this devotional based on that beloved book, I knew I wanted to own it.
In my opinion, this book is absolutely exquisite! Each devotion is based on a section or chapter of Little Women and it’s not just a quick 30 second devotional. It’s meaty and rich, with the devotional, a personal application, several scriptures that pertain to that devotional and a wonderful, very appropriate prayer to guide you along. I have been blessed so much reading this! I can very highly recommend it. Rachel Dodge is wonderful here.
Jennifer Rodewald/J. Rodes lives on the wide plains somewhere near the middle of Nowhere. A coffee addict, pickleball enthusiast, and storyteller, she also wears the hats of mom, teacher, and friend. Mostly, she loves Jesus and wants to see others fall in love with Him too.
‘God isn’t afraid of your hard places. Your messes don’t scare Him.’
The Murphy Brothers series by Jennifer Rodewald is a stunning that I highly and without reservation recommend. The seventh offering here had me shedding more thana few tears. Rodewald is extremely adept at writing characters with real-life issues and the depth of their emotions she brings out in their stories is powerful.
These folks do not lead perfect lives. Far from it. They mess up, sometimes big time and finding their way back is not easy. But each time, they realize that the grace of God is rich indeed. The spiritual depth of these books is exceptional. Truly. This series is heart-deep.
My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book. The opinion here in this review is expressly my own.
Jodie Bailey is the CBA Best-selling author of novels about freedom and the heroes who fight for it. Her second novel, Crossfire, was a RT Reviewers’ Choice Award winner and her contemporary romance Quilted by Christmas received the Selah Award and spent two months on the CBA Bestseller List. Jodie is also a public speaker and teacher who packs her novels with the knowledge she’s gained as an Army wife.
Jodie Bailey grew up in Eastern North Carolina, where she developed a love for golden sand and the Atlantic Ocean. She started writing stories as soon as she learned how to put sentences together, and spent her childhood and teen years making her best friends’ dreams come true on paper.
In college, she met the love of her life—a soldier who rides a Harley and jumps out of airplanes for fun. This prompted a whole lot of moving from place to place, and she had no idea how much those moves would work their way into her stories. For ten years, she pursued her second love, teaching. Now a full-time writer, she still teaches part-time because the kids keep her young and, every once in awhile, she needs some time away from the imaginary characters.
Jodie currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and two dogs who think they rule the world.
‘Sometimes fear had to take a back seat to doing the right thing.’
This one starts off in great suspense and never lets up. Jodie Bailey pulls out all the stop and takes her readers on a thrilling ride here. I love that she has this set with military characters. My family has a big military presence and I thoroughly enjoyed this scenario. This one will tick all the boxes of suspense fans, along with a wonderful spiritual thread. Well done!
My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of this book. the opinion here is my own.
This is a most precious series. Susanne Dietze has created a lovely small town (I love small towns because I grew up in and still live in one.), with great characters. I feel as if I could just walk right into the story and visit! This one features a pastor who is afraid his past will come back to haunt him and a nurse who has a no dating a pastor rule. Sometimes I think God must chuckle at His children. Because we make our plans while His way is always the best. I read this in just hours because it’s very well down and heart satisfying.
My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of this book. The opinion here is my own.
Growing up in Minneapolis and attending the U of MN, I learned to love city life, although I’m a woodsy girl at heart. Or maybe I’m an adventurer — having lived and traveled all over the world, including Siberia Russia as a missionary for eight years. Probably that’s why my characters can’t sit still, and seem to get into one scrape after another — they’re too much like me! I love God, my family, my country, my church, and feel privileged every day to be able to write stories.
Here’s my “Official” Bio.
With over 1 million books sold, critically acclaimed novelist Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over seventy-five novels with Revell, Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. Known for her compelling plots and unforgettable characters, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic-suspense, thrillers, rom-com and Christmas novellas.
With books translated into eight languages, many of her novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award.
Of her books, Publisher’s Weekly has written, “Warren lays bare her characters’ human frailties, including fear, grief, and resentment, as openly as she details their virtues of love, devotion, and resiliency. She has crafted an engaging tale of romance, rivalry, and the power of forgiveness.”
And Library Journal adds, “Warren’s characters are well-developed and she knows how to create a first rate contemporary romance…”
Susan is also a nationally acclaimed writing coach, teaching at conferences around the nation and winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year award. She loves to help people launch their writing careers and is the founder of Novel.Academy and http://www.LearnHowtoWriteaNovel.com, a writing website that helps authors get published and stay published. She’s also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation.
‘God can change your desires…if you are willing to give them to Him.’
Oh, how I love this family, the Christiansens. Susan May Warren has somehow managed to craft thsi family in her writer’s mind and made them seem so real that they worm their way right down into this reader’s heart. When I read this book, it’s not like I was sitting in my chair reading. No, I was in every scene, felt every emotion—and there are some bone-deep emotions in this one, for sure. In every family member’s life. These folks are as real as a literary family can be. This series has been the absolute best in Christian fiction in my opinion! They come to my mind often even when I’m not reading one. And Warren includes some mighty big spiritual truths, too. Her books take you to church, and I mean that.
I grinned and shed tears all the way though this book. I could not stop reading it. I was in bed and had to get back up to finish. I just couldn’t make myself leave these wonderful Christiansens. Absolute perfection!
My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of this book. The opinion in this review is expressly my own.
Discover more Deep Haven stories
The Christiansen Family Collection Prequel: Evergreen Book 1: Take a Chance on Me Book 2: It Had to Be You Book 3: When I Fall in Love Book 4: Always on My Mind Book 5: The Wonder of You Book 6: You’re the One That I Want Book 7: Have Yourself a Christiansen Christmas
Deep Haven Collection Book 1: Still the One Book 2: Can’t Buy Me Love Book 3: Crazy for You Book 4: Then Came You Book 5: Hangin’ by a Moment Book 6: Right Here Waiting
Deep Haven Series Book 1: Happily Ever After Book 2: Tying the Knot Book 3: The Perfect Match Book 4: My Foolish Heart Book 5: Hook, Line, & Sinker (ebook novella) Book 6: You Don’t Know Me Book 7: The Shadow of Your Smile
Do you have a fiction lover on your holiday shopping list? Look no further for a gift suggestion! Just in time for the gift-giving season, award-winning author Erica Vetsch is kicking off her new Thorndike & Swann Regency mystery series with the release of The Debutante’s Code (Kregel Publications). This new series combining a historical setting, romance, and mystery has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes. With that combination, where can you go wrong?
Q: Introduce us to the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series which has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes.
This story has been a long time in the making! It has to be almost ten years ago that I first thought up the story idea, and originally, it was set in Gilded Age New York. But when I began writing stories set in Regency England, I realized the original tale could easily be adapted to the Regency Era.
Our heroine longs to be reunited with her parents and have her debut season in London, but her plans go awry when her parents do not meet her at the docks and are, in fact, missing. She discovers that she comes from a long line of spies for the Crown, and she has a choice, either to finish what her parents started, or turn her back on her heritage and become the socialite she assumed she would be all along. Her mind is made up when murder is afoot.
Our hero is a Bow Street Runner, one of London’s earliest policemen, and he’s on the hunt for a stolen painting…then other valuables from the same shipment of rare items disappear one by one, and an art dealer is found murdered in his gallery. Each clue leads our hero closer and closer to the thief and killer, but he’s disconcerted to find that his chief suspect has become the debutante he finds so attractive.
Q: Tell us more about your leading lady, Juliette Thorndike.
Juliette is fresh from finishing school in Switzerland, where she has been for several years. Because of Britain’s ongoing war with France, her parents determined a cloistered school in Switzerland was a safe place for her to remain, especially while they were doing daring deeds for the monarch. Juliette is an accomplished toxophilite, avid reader, puzzle solver, and good dancer.
Most of all, Juliette yearns for her family to be reunited. She was a child when she was sent to Switzerland, and she longs to know her parents as an adult. They have been in frequent communication via letters, but it isn’t the same as being together in person. When she discovers that her parents have kept such a dire secret from her all these years, she wonders if she’s ever known them at all.
Q: Juliette has a somewhat fantasized view of who her parents are, yet she really hasn’t spent that much time around them. What happens to make her realize she’s never really known them at all?
They’ve hidden so many things from her—from her heritage to their activities and hidden rooms in their house. She has created an image in her mind of what life will be like once they are reunited, but now she wonders if any of it is even possible, much less probable.
She’s always felt secure in her parents’ love, but if they can lie about something so big, what else have they lied about?
Q: Why does Juliette not only feel abandon by her parents, but abandoned by God?
We often form our views of a Heavenly Father from our experience with our earthly parents, for good or for ill. Juliette has not been ill-treated by her parents, or at least she didn’t think she had, but if they could abandon her on the eve of her coming out in society (in what should be the most important year of her life), can she trust anything about them?
Their priorities clearly don’t line up with hers. They put their work ahead of their daughter. Is that fair? Is that right?
They’ve taught her that God is with her, that He will never abandon her, but can she trust what they have taught her when they can lie so easily?
Q: How have Juliette’s parents been preparing her to be a part of the “family business” even though they haven’t been a physical presence in her life?
A variety of ways, starting with protecting her from the truth when she was very small. They also took great care in the school they chose for her to attend. She’s conversant in French and some Italian as well as English, has been taught the skills required of a young lady in the British aristocracy, such as dancing, deportment, music, and art.
But she’s also learned a great deal of history, logic, and rhetoric in her curriculum, as well as archery. All skills that will aid her if she chooses to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a spy for the Crown.
And her father added another twist. He wrote to her often, but always in code. A different code each time, growing more complex as she grew and became more adept at deciphering his codes.
Juliette comes to realize that her parents have been preparing her for her future role, but she doesn’t realize how quickly her skills will be tested.
Q: A Regency novel is not a Regency novel without a swoon-worthy hero. Just who is Daniel Swann?
Ah, Daniel. He’s had very little say in his life up to now, being the illegitimate son of a household servant. He’s done every chore that can be found on a country estate, from being the boot boy in charge of cleaning and polishing all the shoes, to helping the groundskeepers and gardeners with the weeding and planting, to working in the stables and riding the master’s horses out to exercise. In his own way, he’s been training for his future, too.
Through more outside influence, he was removed from his mother’s care, sent to boarding school, and then to Oxford with the understanding that his guardianship would end at his 25th birthday, which is fast approaching. Then he will be in command of his life for the first time…but he wonders if he’s up to the task.
Q: Daniel has a bit of a mysterious past himself—one that even eludes him even though he’s a detective. How has his past directed his career choice?
Daniel has no idea who his mysterious patron is, and he is forbidden from searching out his identity. He’s given other rules he must follow, including cutting off all ties with his mother. He was a bewildered, homesick child, wrenched from his home and shipped off to boarding school, and he believes his mother was only too glad to be rid of him, otherwise why would she agree to such a terrible thing?
Daniel studied art and history at Oxford, unsure of what he would do for a career, but when a Bow Street officer shows up to investigate a murder in the Oxford Canal, Daniel is hooked on detective work. With the help of his hidden patron, he secures a job at Bow Street, against the wishes of his new superior officer, who is always looking for a reason to dismiss Daniel.
With his past so shrouded in mystery, his current situation tenuous, and his future racing toward him at his 25th birthday when his patronage will cease, Daniel focuses on being the best detective he can be and hopes things will all work out.
Q: What kind of research was required to write a mystery set in the early 1800s? What are some of the methods detectives of the day would have to depend on?
There was quite a bit of research involved in this one, from police procedures to art history. Much studying of maps and the hierarchy of society, the lives of British spies, and fitting it all into the current political and social situations of the times. I had fun deciding upon the various items that would go missing, from statues to jewelry to artwork, and deciding upon different ways each piece could be acquired.
As to the police methods of the day, the Bow Street detectives didn’t have our current levels of forensic science to help identify culprits. They relied upon eyewitness testimony, circumstantial evidence, catching someone red-handed, and by following the paperwork/money trail. Some things have not changed. The main motives for lawbreaking still fall into three categories: money, power, and sex. Who has it, who wants it, who wants to deny someone else from acquiring it? And in Regency times, the detectives were still looking for motive, means, and opportunity. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Debutante’s Code is my first true mystery, and it’s all wrapped into a heist story, so layering those different threads together was a new adventure for me.
Q: Fans fell in love with the characters from your Serendipity & Secrets series. Is there any chance we might see some familiar faces make a cameo in your new series?
I am delighted that the Thorndike & Swann mysteries take place in what I like to call the “Haverly Universe” first created in the Serendipity & Secrets series. In The Debutante’s Code, several characters from the S&S series reappear, including the Duke of Haverly, Marcus, his duchess, Charlotte, and the Dowager Duchess of Haverly, who is a personal favorite of mine.
Though there is a host of new characters in The Debutante’s Code, as the series unfolds, more of the S&S cast will come into the stories.
Q: Can you give us a tease of what to expect in the remainder of the Thorndike & Swann series?
The next book, Millstone of Doubt, begins with a bang! Literally! A grist mill on the Thames explodes, but when the rubble and dust are cleared, a man is found dead, not from the explosion, but from a gunshot! Was the mill blown up to cover the murder? Who would want the mill owner dead? Daniel and Juliette put their heads together to sort out the crime, while Juliette juggles her new career as a spy and a debutante, and Daniel uncovers many of the secrets he needs to piece together the puzzle of his past.
I read my first Brenda Minton book about a year and a half ago, fell in love with her writing, and am on a mission to finish her entire back list, which is a lot. I’m doing very well, only a few left to go. And, of course, I never miss a new one by her.
This one is a stand out for me in several ways. Minton tells the story of a former foster child who has experienced a devastating event, returns home to Pleasant, Texas pregnant and convinced she will never be happy again. She takes a job as housekeeper for Tucker Church, who has what appears to be temporary custody of his teenage niece. He needs help and is not afraid to admit it. But maybe he is the one to be giving of help.
Poignantly told with a huge chunk of heart and full of emotions that had me clutching my own heart, this one is not to be missed. Well done!
My thanks to Love Inspired for a copy of this book via the Net Galley platform. The opinion in this review is entirely my own.
Michelle Sass Aleckson lives the country life in central Minnesota with her own hero and their four kids. She loves rocking out to 80’s music on a Saturday night and getting lost in good stories—especially stories that shine grace. And if you’re wondering, yes, Sass is her maiden name. Visit Michelle at http://www.michellealeckson.com.
‘I Thought isolation would bring healing, prevent more pain. I was wrong.’
I adore diving into a Deep Haven novel. There’s just something about it from the first page that makes me feel so good. This is one little fictional town I’d love to visit! Susan May Warren and Michelle Sass Aleckson are quite fine here. Great characters and a super good plot. I loved the interaction between Jae and Nick with their online back and forth. And seeing old friends is always just wonderful. I also very much enjoyed the dog sledding angle and the rescue operations. This is an exceptional series. Highly recommended.
My thanks to Sunrise Publishing for a copy of this book. The opinion is my own.