‘One Fine Day’ (A Hearts Bend Novel) by Rachel Hauck and Carrie Padgett

About The Book:
She stopped by the railing, one hand at her neck, feeling her pulse race. Sam came up behind her, touched her elbow. She turned to him. “Don’t you know, the men I love die? Daddy, Jean-Marc—”
“Come on, you don’t really believe that, do you?”
“It’s the reality.”
“Well then.” He leaned over her shoulder and whispered in her ear, his words settling like a warm blanket on her cold, stale soul. “I’ll take my chances, Chloe LaRue.”

“A heart-warming romance, One Fine Day is a great way to spend a day and tease your sweet tooth. Now I need to head to my local bakery!” T. I. Lowe, bestselling author of Under the Magnolias

All she wants is a fresh start…

Chloe Beason LaRue left Hearts Bend after high school, determined to never look back. She shed her unrequited crush on Sam Hardy, moved to Paris, went to pastry school, found a good job, fell in love, and got married. She was happy in France. Then her husband tragically died. Now, Chloe just wants to move forward…but when her mom’s health is in jeopardy, Chloe heads right back to Hearts Bend where she’s hired as head baker for Haven’s, the premier bakery in town. She has no idea that moving home will push her right into the arms of the man who broke her heart.
He’s not looking to fall in love…

Nashville Titans quarterback Sam Hardy has too many broken memories in Hearts Bend to Return. But when he’s sidelined by an injury, he desperately needs to invest in something to safeguard his future. Haven’s Bakery is up for sale—and his business partner believes the deal is too good to pass up. He has no idea that the owners have hired the one girl he can’t seem to forget…and the last thing he expects is to be her boss.
But it’s a recipe for romance…

Back in Hearts Bend for the first time in ten years and thrown together at Haven’s Bakery, Chloe and Sam have a second chance at first love. Indeed, the more time Sam spends selling pastries, the more he sees a new future. But when Paris beckons Chloe back, where does her heart belong? Can they find the recipe for leaving regrets behind and start something new?
Escape to Hearts Bend for a sweet story of romance, faith, and an unexpected happy ending.
Want more of Hearts Bend?
Hearts Bend Collection
Book1: One Fine Day
Book 2: You’ll be Mine (coming soon)
Books set in Hearts Bend by Rachel Hauck
The Wedding Collection
The Wedding Dress
The Wedding Chapel
The Wedding Shop
The Wedding Dress Christmas

True Blue Royal
Book 2: To Save a King

About Rachel Hauck
Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author.
She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club. She is the recipient of RT’s Career Achievement Award.
Her book, Once Upon A Prince, was filmed for an original Hallmark movie. The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Shop and A March Bride have all been optioned for film.
She’s been acclaimed for her split time novels and royal romances.
A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.
Hauck recently learned how to hard boil an egg. She’s quite proud.
Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or http://www.facebook.com/rachelhauck

About Carrie Padgett
Carrie Padgett has lived in northern, central, and southern California and declares them all wonderful places. She writes small town contemporary fiction with romance. She believes in families, fun, and happily ever after. She and her husband live in Central California with their cat and dog and within driving distance of their grand-children.

My Rating: 4 Stars!
‘I’m not sure I can take the leap to trusting God, just like that. I’ve never felt God with me.’

I’ve long enjoyed Rachel Hauck’s books, so when I heard Sunrise Publishing was pairing her with a new author, Carrie Padgett, to take a trip back to Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, I was very excited to read the books. This first one in the series was so good!

Chloe and Sam’s story was just so special. They’ve known each other all their lives and then meet up again after 15 years. Both have wrestled with situations in their past and have let fears from that crowd into their present. And, if they don’t allow God to bring healing, they will carry this into their futures.

One thing I watched for here: Rachel Hauck always includes a touch of the Divine in her books, so I kept a keen eye out for it now. It totally showed up here! And the ending was simply superb! Recommended.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book. The opinion in this review is entirely my own.

Publisher: Sunrise
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09V5MH2NM/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

Review: ‘Her Mountain Refuge’ by Laurel Blount

About The Book
Going home could mean risking her heart…

She needs help to start over…

But can she ever trust again?

Widowed, pregnant and under her controlling mother-in-law’s thumb, Charlotte Tremaine needs help—but she doesn’t expect it to come from her estranged childhood best friend. Yet after a fainting spell lands her in the hospital, Sheriff Logan Carter whisks her away to his foster mother’s mountain home to recover. But when her secrets follow, can she face her painful past with Logan at her side?

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.
About Laurel Blount
Award-winning author Laurel Blount writes captivating romances full of grit and grace—with characters who’ll walk right off the page and into your heart. She lives on a farm in Georgia with her husband, their four fabulous kids, and an assortment of ridiculously spoiled animals. Whenever she’s not working, you can find Laurel with a cup of tea at her elbow, a cat in her lap, and a good book in her hand. Connect with her at http://www.laurelblountbooks.com
My Rating: 5 Stars!
‘I have been praying and praying is a dangerous business.’

I love Laurel Blount’s work. She manages to engage the reader from the beginning and we are just invested in this book so much. Logan was a great hero here, one that every woman wants her husband to be like. His heart was wonderful. It was a great story and a keeper for sure. It also left me wanting more from this author. Well done!

My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of this book. The opinion is my own in this review.
Publisher: Love Inspired
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09MKRFZK9/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i5

Review: ‘Guarding His Secret’ by Jill Kemerer (K-9 Companions)

About The book
Telling the truth could set him free

He’s hiding something…

Can a special K-9 encourage him to reveal all?

When a family crisis leaves rancher Randy Watkins caring for a surprise baby nephew, he turns to longtime friend Hannah Carr for help. But Randy has a heart condition—a secret he’s determined to hide…until Hannah’s clever retired service dog threatens to expose it. As friendship turns to something more, can Randy trust Hannah with the truth?

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

K-9 Companions

Book 1: Their Unbreakable Bond by Deb Kastner
Book 2: Finding Her Way Back by Lisa Carter
Book 3: The Veteran’s Vow by Jill Lynn
Book 4: Her Easter Prayer by Lee Tobin McClain
Book 5: Earning Her Trust by Brenda Minton
Book 6: Guarding His Secret by Jill Kemerer
Book 7: An Unlikely Alliance by Toni Shiloh
Book 8: The Cowboy’s Journey Home by Linda Goodnight
Book 9: A Reason to Stay by Deb Kastner
About Jill Kemerer
Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of heartwarming, emotional, small-town romance novels often featuring cowboys. She is a multi-published author of Christian romance novels with Harlequin Love Inspired–over half a million of her books have sold worldwide.
A former electrical engineer, Jill now writes full-time. Her essentials include coffee, caramels, a stack of books, her mini-doxie, and long walks outdoors. She rarely passes up a bookstore and spends too much time at the library. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. For more information, visit her website, jillkemerer.com.
My Rating: 4 Stars!
‘Loving someone doesn’t mean hiding the hard stuff. It means sharing the hard stuff. Getting through it together.’

I have long enjoyed Jill Kemerer’s books and never miss this. This one was very good and reminded me of a time in my life when I desperately feared a situation but had to learn to trust God through my fear.

Kemerer deals very well with two people who handle life and fear very differently. I loved how she pulled everything together so that they could relax into God’s care. Well done!

My thanks to Love Inspired for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion here is my own.
Publisher: Love Inspired
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09MKS25GC/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3

Review: ‘Secrets Left Behind’ by Shannon Redmon

About The Book
The more clues they uncover,

the more deadly the investigation becomes.

After surviving several attempts on her life, Skye Anderson knows Detective Jake Reed’s suspicions of foul play about the accident that killed her husband must be true. Someone will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden—and all signs point to a drug ring Skye’s late husband was investigating. Can Jake keep Skye alive and identify the killers pursuing her?

From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.
About Shannon Redmon
Shannon Redmon remembers the first grown-up book she checked out from the neighborhood bookmobile. A Victoria Holt novel with romance, intrigue, dashing gentlemen and ballroom parties captivated her attention. For her mother, the silence must have been a pleasant break from non-stop teenage chatter, but for Shannon, those stories whipped up a desire and passion for writing.
​Shannon hopes her stories immerse readers into a world of joy and escape while encouraging faith, hope, and love for those around us. Her debut novel Cave of Secrets will be released by Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line in October 2020 and her other published works have appeared in Spark magazine, Splickety magazine, The Horse of My Dreams compilation book, Romantic Moments compilation book, the Lightning Blog and the Seriously Write blog. She won first place in the Foundation Awards and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.
Want to know more? Goto shannonredmon.com

My Rating: 4 Stars
If you enjoy a fast-paced, action filled, wonderful inspirational novel, look no further. Shannon Redmond has just the ticket with this one. And boy, are there some surprises here! I thought I had it figured out, but I was totally off! Well done.

My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of this book. The opinion in this review is expressly my own.

Publisher: Love Inspired
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09KPYKTRW/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

‘Cold Drip’ (Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 6) by Heather Day Gilbert

About The Book
BOOK 6 in the bestselling BARKS & BEANS CAFE cozy mystery series!!!

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java…and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

Thanksgiving is on the way, and Macy’s thrilled when her boyfriend Titan says he’s coming to town for a week-long visit. She plans to take him to some of her favorite haunts, including the sprawling caverns nearby.

But when the lights go out during their underground tour and a local society darling plunges to her death, Macy can’t shake the feeling that the cave’s slippery floors weren’t entirely to blame. She taps into the admittedly limited skills of her upscale barista, Milo, to do a little snooping in the moneyed circles he moves in. When he unearths a sinkhole of lies, Macy slides straight toward a killer who’s not about to stop until every leak is sealed…permanently.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes. Find all the books at heatherdaygilbert.com!

The Barks & Beans Cafe series in order:
Book 1: No Filter
Book 2: Iced Over
Book 3: Fair Trade
Book 4: Spilled Milk
Book 5: Trouble Brewing

About Heather Day Gilbert
Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather’s realistic characters–no matter what century–feel like best friends. When she’s not plotting stories, this native West Virginian can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels.
Find all her books and her newsletter signup at heatherdaygilbert.com.

My Rating: 4 Stars!
‘The wicked stepmother scenario isn’t limited to fairy tales, you know.’

Heather Day Gilbert once again delights her loyal readers with another offering in her Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series. I always look forward to each one so very much. Siblings Bo and Macy Hatfield just seem to find trouble always around and are quite dab hands at solving crimes. While at the same time, finding owners for the shelter dogs they showcase in one corner of their cafe. A cafe, incidentally, at which I’d love to have lunch sometime. This one is just fine, folks, and I highly recommend not only this book, but this author!

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book. The opinion in this review is my own.

Print length

160 pages

Publication date

May 24, 2022

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09G94PLYX/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

Review: ‘Turn To Me’ by Becky Wade

About The Book
His promise will cost him far more than he imagined.

Guilt has defined Luke Dempsey’s life, but it was self-destructiveness that landed him in prison. When his friend and fellow inmate lay dying shortly before Luke’s release, the older man revealed he left a string of clues for his daughter, Finley, that will lead her to the treasure he’s hidden. Worried that she won’t be the only one pursuing the treasure, he gains Luke’s promise to protect her until the end of her search.

Spunky and idealistic, Finley Sutherland is the owner of an animal rescue center and a defender of lost causes. She accepts Luke’s help on the treasure hunt while secretly planning to help him in return–by coaxing him to embrace the forgiveness he’s long denied himself.

As they draw closer to the final clue, their reasons for resisting each other begin to crumble, and Luke realizes his promise will push him to the limit in more ways than one. He’ll do his best to shield Finley from unseen threats, but who’s going to shield him from losing his heart?
About Becky Wade
Becky is the Christy and Carol award-winning author of swoon-worthy inspirational romances laced with mystery.
She loves to connect with readers via her web site at http://www.beckywade.com, via her Facebook author page at http://www.Facebook.com/AuthorBeckyWade, or via Instagram at http://www.Instagram/BeckyWadeWriter
During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since!
Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children. You’ll find her power-walking her neighborhood while dictating scenes, reading, chatting with friends on Voxer, planning her next trip, watching TV with her Cavalier spaniel on her lap, or rummaging in her pantry for chocolate.


My Rating: 5 Stars!
‘He’d never been so alone. Never been so aware he was not enough.’

When I read a Becky Wade book, I am completely transported into the world within its pages. With each book I read, and I’ve read all her books, some twice, some three times, I am aware that this is a book I want to reread again. They all sit on my shelves. Always will.

Wade has a unique ability to make me totally feel each character, along with their heartache, pain, struggles, and joy. And her spiritual thread is incredibly powerful to watch unfold in her characters’ lives.

I’ve been waiting for Luke Dempsey’s story, the last one of the Miracle Five, the one who wanted to totally distance himself from everyone who ever cared about him. And he has done a good job of that until now. He needs to fulfill a promise he made, and he finds himself on Finley Sutherland’s doorstep, at her animal rescue. He wants to be there to fulfill the promise he made to her dad in prison, but he doesn’t want to be there. He wants to be somewhere else. But God has another plan. Isn’t that just like Him? Wade has totally and completely created a powerful character in this man, one of the best book heroes ever. She did the same with Finley’s character. I loved her spunk and ability to see the good around her. I just plain loved everything about this book. It most definitely will get read again. And it’s going on my top reads list for 2022.

My thanks to Bethany House Publishing for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion expressed in this book is entirely my own.
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09LWSDW7M/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1

Question and answer with Becky Wade:

Q&A with Becky Wade about Turn to Me

Please provide a brief summary of your new novel, Turn to Me. In the final moments before his death, Finley Sutherland’s father tells Luke Dempsey that he left the first in a series of treasure hunt clues in his will for his daughter. He asks Luke to protect her until the treasure hunt is complete. Luke, an ex-Con, agrees. However, soon after he goes to work at Finley’s animal rescue charity, he starts to fall for the idealistic, dark-haired beauty. He begins to wonder. Is he tough enough to protect her from danger? And if so, who’s going to protect him from losing his heart? At the beginning of the novel, Finley’s father is incarcerated with Luke. Can you tell us about the nature of Finley’s relationship with her father? Finley’s an only child, born to a single father when he was in his fifties. She became the greatest joy of his life. He loved her with fiery devotion, and she loved him just as deeply in return. Turn to Meis a contemporary romance novel, but it also has a mystery thread. What challenge did you experience when incorporating both of these elements into your story? Balance was a challenge! I consider myself a romance writer first and foremost. So, on one hand, I didn’t want the mystery to overshadow the love story. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy driving the plot of my stories forward with a big story question. In Turn to Methe story question is, “What’s waiting at the end of the treasure hunt?” I ended up using that question as the tie that binds Finley and Luke together long enough for them to fall in love. Through the experiences of your male protagonist, Luke Dempsey, this story engages themes of redemption and letting go of what is behind us. Can you elaborate on that? Luke’s younger brother died when he was fourteen and, ever since, he’s blamed himself. His guilt and grief set him on a path of rebellious self-destruction until, eventually, he landed imprison. When Turn to Me begins, he’s been out of prison for months and he’s determined to make a new, clean start. The events of the novel give him both an opportunity to meet the God of redemption and to release the guilt that has strangled him for so long. In your opinion, what are the essential elements that all great love stories must have?1) Romantic conflict. The reason why the couple can’t be together is the linchpin that forces them to face obstacles, to overcome, to sacrifice for their relationship. 2) A hero and heroine who are ideally suited to each other. They can be complete opposites and still complement one another in wonderful ways.

Read an Excerpt

Finley Sutherland’s father had left her several things in his will, the most surprising of which was a clue. “But… I don’t understand,” she said to Rosco Horton, attorney-at-law. “Your father planned a treasure hunt for you.” Mr. Horton leaned forward over his impressive potbelly, huffing at the exertion, to extend a white envelope to her across his desk. “He stipulated that you be presented with this, the first clue in the treasure hunt, at the reading of his will. “She accepted the envelope, instantly recognizing her father’s handwriting and the thick flow of black ink from his favorite fountain pen. For Finley, he’d written on the outside. “He asks that you store the envelope in a safe location,”Mr. Horton said, “and wait until the morning of your next birthday to open it. When is your next birthday?” “January.” “Do you think you can resist peeking until then? ”Absolutely.” It felt sacrilegious to even consider violating request left for her in her dad’s will.



An ‘I Read With Audra’ Book Tour: ‘Shadows in the Mind’s Eye’ by Janyre Tromp

About The Book
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
About Janyre Tromp
In case we get to meet in person some day, you pronounce that first name Jan-air. Kind of like the stove. I’m a developmental book editor by day and a writer at night.
And that all happens from my kitchen table when I’m not hanging out with my husband, two kids, and slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. Unfortunately, I spilled coffee on my super cape and then the dryer ate it. So you’ll just have to imagine I can do it all!
I have four traditionally published books—a WWII era novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye; a juvenile fiction, That Sinking Feeling; and two board books in the All About God’s Animals series—and 2 indie books—Wide Open, a historical novella and It’s a Wonderful Christmas, a Christmas novella collection (coming October 2021).
But my passion is writing about the beauty of the world—past and present—even when it isn’t pretty.
After all, isn’t it the beauty in the world that gets us through the day?
Hopefully after you hang out with me for a bit, we’ll be able to see things a little more clearly, find a little bit of meaning, and make a bigger impact.
With me what you see is what you get…all the Beautiful, all the Ugly, all the Me.

Enter here:


3.5 Stars
Sam has returned from World War II, not in the best of shape, and finds home isn’t the way it used to be. He sees things and people no one else does. His wife, Annie, wants Sam back to normal. But there are things neither one of them understands. Yet.

This book as been described as Hitchcockian, and I must agree. Things happen that intrigue the reader a lot, and barrel along until the final page. This is a nice debut novel.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Net Galley.

An Interview with Janyre Tromp,

Author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

In Shadows in the Mind’s Eye (Kregel Publications), debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense as she takes readers back in time to 1940s Hot Springs, Arkansas.A person with the hand on the chin

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Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.

When Sam claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Q: The back of the book describes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye as, “A deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense.” In your own words, introduce us to your debut novel. 

Charlotte Anne Mattas wants to go back to the way things were before her husband, Sam, left their farm for the war in the Pacific. Sam used to be her protector, but when he arrives home in Spring of 1946, his battle fatigue has everyone questioning his sanity and her safety… especially after he nearly kills his brother, then claims to see men on the mountain where no else has seen them. Are there really dangerous men on the mountain or is his twisted mind conjuring things that aren’t there? 

In the tradition of Hitchcock with a hint of psychological thriller, In the Mind’s Eye explores the illness we now call PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and persistent love in a world determined to destroy it.

Q: Sam and Charlotte Anne both expected life to go back to normal when he returned from the war, but that doesn’t exactly happen. How was life post-war different from what they expected? How does each of them respond to those differences?

This story actually began while talking to my grandparents over a glass of lemonade. My U.S. History professor had given us an assignment to talk to family about the Depression and/or World War II. Until that point, I’d had no real concept of what the war was like, either for the soldiers or their families back home. I guess I’d thought that the greatest generation slid back into life and easily became the loving people I knew my grandparents were in their 70s. When I discovered that wasn’t the case, I wondered how they had survived the fear and drastic changes. 

Like my grandfather, Sam glorified the home front, anticipating a glorious homecoming, delicious food, a soft bed, and an easier life. Charlotte Anne expected Sam to quickly become part of the team again as they worked their peach orchard. Instead, Sam has nightmares and reacts to food he used to love (I even gave Sam a reaction to orange marmalade just like my grandfather). Sam tends to jump to conclusions because he doesn’t understand the context, struggles with the physicality of farm work, and is overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done since Charlotte Anne wasn’t able to do a lot of the upkeep. 

At first, neither Sam nor Annie knows quite what to do with one another, but they’re determined to understand each other. Eventually they each open up to Sam’s mom, Dovie May, and she becomes a healing balm for each of them. If I had to give Dovie a theme, it would be: “You’d think holding joy right up against sadness would shatter a body. But it don’t. Joy, it sneaks in all around, sticks everything together, and finds a way to make you whole. See, light sneaks through the broken places.”

Q: In our current day, we are very aware of what PTSD is, and that it is very prevalent among men and women who have been in the military and seen war. What was known about PTSD back in the 1940s after World War II?

Although the general population didn’t shame WWII soldiers with PTSD symptoms as much as they did their WWI counterparts, WWII era doctors knew little about how to treat trauma of any kind. Battle fatigue, as it was known then, was treated with electroshock therapy (something that was terrifying and had limited success), and many of the men who suffered from it were often divorced, angry, confused, and quietly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t want to leave Sam and Annie here, so I dug for treatment options and talked with a few modern therapists.

In my research, those who fared best were often those who lived a little off the grid, in places where they could be physically active, with people who loved them and gave them the space to remove themselves when necessary. Sam also stumbles on a bit of a modern treatment technique by accident. Most folks have heard that going for a walk can help with mental stability. What isn’t as familiar is that the rhythm of walking combined with talking can actually replicate bits and pieces of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy which is one of the most successful battlefield PTSD treatments. 

Q: What are some struggles Sam deals with upon returning home to Hot Springs? Is he able to hide what is going on from those closest to him or does it become apparent to everyone around him?A picture containing text, nature, painting

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Sam’s reactions to “normal” stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control. He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger.

As the story progresses and circumstances continue to slide sideways, Sam faces his own mental instability. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it. 

Q: Sam claims to see and hear things going on around him that no one else does. How does Annie deal with what’s going on with her husband?

At first Annie is supportive of her husband and backs him up. She lists all the reasons she believes him: He’s a man she has always trusted. He’s amazing with his daughter. He’s gentle and kind and strong. Unfortunately, circumstances continue to prove that Sam is unstable, and she’s forced to question his sanity. She is rightfully terrified and confused.

To deal with her husband’s instability, she leans on her family—Sam’s mom and brother. They give Annie perspective and help with both the emotional and physical toll of working through unexpected circumstances. One of the things I’m most proud of in Annie is that she doesn’t allow Sam to abuse her even by accident. She holds the line and doesn’t budge from that. It’s something I hope all people do for themselves. That said, Sam is horrified by the fact that he hurt Annie in his sleep and refuses to put her in any further danger. But he also doesn’t give up.

Q: Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an unusual setting for a book. How did you choose the location and how does it play into the story?

Even though the book idea started with wondering how my grandparents’ marriage survived the pressure of war, the book isn’t biographical. So, I needed a setting other than my grandparents’ hometown. For the characters that I was building, I needed a small town. When one of my good friends told me she had an entire book of stories from her family in Arkansas, I jumped at the chance to read first-hand history. Amongst the Hughes family stories, I acquired the basis for Dovie May and Hot Springs, Arkansas—home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country.

Well, I don’t have to tell you that mobsters and illegal activity are an excellent backdrop for a story with a bit of suspense. The book The Bookmaker’s Daughter by Shirley Abbott confirmed that Hot Springs mobsters operated with full permission of the authorities. In Shirley’s stories, I also discovered the foundation for Charlotte Anne’s father. All of which gave me a location and a cast of characters that could stoke Sam’s fears and make everyone (including the reader) wonder whether or not he was crazy.

Q: What kind of research did you do on the effects of war during that time period? What sparked the inspiration for that part of the story?

As I mentioned, the initial interest came from my grandparents and their stories. But PTSD is also something I’ve struggled with for years. I had some childhood trauma that I worked through back in college. I started writing this book using the nightmares and struggles I had as a kid. Then my daughter became very, very ill which sparked a new trauma all its own. 

That said, battlefield PTSD has different components than the trauma I suffered. To research that, I had several long conversations with a friend who treats battlefield PTSD. She’s the one who reminded me that EMDR is, in essence, any activity that uses bilateral stimulation to trigger both sides of the brain—thus the positive effects of walking and wide-open spaces. I also read Soldiers from the War Returning by Thomas Childers to get an idea of the authentic story of the men returning from war; The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. for how PTSD affects the brain and body; and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr, PhD, ABPP to understand the battlefield specific emotional wounds, and how that affects a warrior’s family.

Q: An author often writes part of herself into the story, or at least something she knows about. How have you been affected by PTSD?

There have been long stretches of my life where I was all too familiar with debilitating fear. I still have occasional flashes from my childhood, the rush of adrenaline causing my pulse to pound and hands to shake. I was terrified to have kids, to be the one responsible for their physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. The last thing I wanted was for them to have the same problems I had. But, as Dovie May says, “The best place for miracles is where we don’t fully believe, where our believing has run out.” My husband, Chris, and his family, as well as my good friend, Sarah De Mey, and my mom (who worked hard to get help), have been amazing role models for me as I navigate what it looks like to raise emotionally healthy kids.

All that peace came crashing down when my daughter became ill. She was hospitalized seven times over a few months’ time and the doctors had no idea what caused her illness. After months of visiting doctors to find out why my thirteen-year-old daughter was experiencing increasing abdominal pain, she collapsed at school. What followed was a living nightmare. Doctors found her abdominal cavity full of a fungal infection that quickly went septic. That was the first time we almost lost her. Months later, she’d lost more than forty pounds, and both she and I were wracked with nightmares, an inability to drive anywhere near the hospital, or be in a room with needles. To this day, I can’t smell rubbing alcohol without my body responding with panic. 

On paper she should not have survived, and I can’t describe the immense fear that comes from the Pediatric ICU or a parade of doctors. My girl is doing great now, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I didn’t finish the book, and hadn’t found the path to hope until after my daughter had walked out of the hospital for the last time.

I’m enormously grateful for EMDR, my therapist, and the grace of God that much of my fear is gone.

Q: The novel includes a good deal of discussion about the nature of evil and the character of God. The characters acknowledge that God doesn’t stop bad things from happening. How do they reconcile the hurt and pain in their lives with their concept of a loving God?

The problem of pain is one that even the best and brightest theologians and thinkers don’t have a perfect answer for. There are pat answers—God uses hard things to make us better or God walks with us through our pain. But when I was in the hospital, totally overwhelmed and crying in the bathroom so my daughter wouldn’t hear me, the easy answers didn’t help. And so I (and my characters) often sit with C. S. Lewis saying, “I never knew grief felt so much like fear.” Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope, and that the Sam she married is lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it. 

And so what do we do?

In the story, Sam says, “If you pop in the middle of the story, you might just mistake the hero for a failure or worse, a monster. But it’s the scrabbling out of trouble and finding the truth deep inside him that transforms that character into a hero of light and goodness.” In essence, “Remember that it ain’t over until it’s over.” I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work. 

Annie and Sam find their way to gratitude—for simple joys of a birthday Karo nut pie, collard greens, the sunrise, and mostly the people in their lives. Their determination to be the good in each other’s lives is what slowly, over time, turns their attention away from the shadows and back on the life they have. As Dovie May says, “Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.” It isn’t immediate. And it isn’t easy. But the sunrise always follows the dark night.

Q: How does the imagery of light and darkness, especially in a spiritual sense, weave throughout the story?

Early in the story, Annie says, “A body can hide where the light was closed out, but the devils can hide there just as easy.” The temptation for both Annie and Sam (and all of us, really) is to either give up (wallow in the darkness) or to run away from it (which only keeps us in the darkness longer). While wallowing or running seem like easier choices, they’re also dangerous and far more painful in the long run. Both Sam and Annie try to fight the darkness alone, each not quite trusting anyone else. 

Throughout the book, they both learn that the dark places are really where strength starts. Since Sam and Annie are farmers, they come to think of it in terms of seeds. “There ain’t no growth without darkness. You know that better’n most. If you throw a seed atop the soil, it’ll get snatched away by the wind or the birds. You gotta bury it in the good, rich soil, and then it’s gotta split open afore it can grow. . .. We were all made to grow and stretch into the sunlight.”

Q: You’ve been on the publisher’s side of things for many years, both in marketing and as an editor working with authors. Have you always wanted to write as well? Has anything surprised you being on the author side?

I didn’t start writing or really even think about being a writer until a few years into my career as the marketing manager for a publisher. I actually started college as a chemistry major and ended up as an English major by default. There’s a whole story in here about me being a sassy know-it-all seventeen-year-old punk, and my mom being right. But suffice it to say, the major change was me heeding my mom’s advice to do what I loved (reading). 

Anyway, I was freelancing for our editorial department, and our managing editor asked me if I would consider writing a book. It sounded interesting. I wrote a short novel for the middle schoolers I mentored at my church, then I did a few picture books for my daughter, and then I took a long break to raise my kids. When I found time to write a book again, it was so life-giving, I don’t even have words to describe it. I was hooked.

But let me tell you that being an author has changed drastically in the last decade. There’s a much heavier load to lift for authors now—both in terms of tracking story trends and marketing. But it’s also easier than ever to be in contact with readers. I absolutely adore the opportunity to chat with folks about their lives on Facebook, see their pictures on Instagram, and just talk books with the world. It’s crazy to me that I can chat with friends in California and Australia and South Africa and Brazil just by typing (or speaking) into a little box on a screen. I will forever love technology for that.

The writing community also took me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a varied group as welcoming and helpful as this group. They’ve been a tremendous support as I’ve worked through edits and marketing and all the highs and lows that come with publishing. There’s so much love and joy there. Julie Cantrell, Rachel McDaniel, Janine Rosche, Susie Finkbeiner, J’nell Ciesielski, and so many more have been absolutely amazing.

Learn more about Janyre Tromp on her website www.JaynreTromp.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@JanyreTromp), Instagram (@JaynreTromp), and Twitter (@JanyreTromp)

Publisher: Kregel
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09SRDSQ6T/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

Review: ‘When The Day Comes’ by Gabrielle Meyer

About The Book
How will she choose, knowing all she must sacrifice?

Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other. While she’s the same person at her core in both times, she’s leading two vastly different lives.

In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives–and any hope of love–are put in jeopardy.

Libby’s life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. But the only work she cares about–women’s suffrage–is discouraged, and her mother is intent on marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates matters.

But Libby knows she’s not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she must choose one path and forfeit the other–but how can she choose when she has so much to lose in each life?
About Gabrielle Meyer
Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the upper Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people, places, and events. You can learn more about Gabrielle and her books at http://www.gabriellemeyer.com.

Find Gabrielle on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/AuthorGabrielleMeyer, Pinterest at http://www.Pinterest.com/gabriellemeyer/, Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MeyerGabrielle, Goodreads, and her Website at http://www.gabriellemeyer.com
My Rating: 4 Stars!
I have read a lot of dual time stories and enjoyed them, but never had I read one quite like this one. Libby lives in two worlds simultaneously, one in 1774 and the other in 1914. When she goes to sleep at night, she wakes up in another time, without any time passing. This was really intriguing. Many in her family had been time crossers. She will eventually have to decide which world to stay in because she can’t do this forever. She knows which world she wants to live in. But will it be the world she will choose?

Fascinating premise, this story was and the author does a very nice job with it. I know I was surprised several times. Recommended.

My thanks to Bethany House for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The review is my own opinion.
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09JXQQ9MF/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i6

Review: ‘Fatal Code’ (SNAP Agency # 2) By Natalie Walters

About The Book
In 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession–and a target on her back.

SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she’s his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

As Elinor follows the clues her grandfather left behind to a top-secret nuclear project, Kekoa has no choice but to step in. When Elinor learns he has been spying on her, she’s crushed. But with danger closing in on all sides, she’ll have to trust him to ensure her discoveries stay out of enemy hands.

Natalie Walters sucks you into the global race for space domination in this perfectly paced second installment of her SNAP Agency romantic suspense series.
About Natalie Walters
My world revolves around GIJOE and our three adult (or almost adult) children who keep my life anything but predictable. Our boots hit the ground wherever the Army sends us but home is when we’re all together no matter the zipcode. My passion is writing stories where adventure meets love and share my belief that life rooted in purpose is a story worth telling.
My Rating: 5 Stars!
‘God, if You’re there, I could use a win tonight.’

When I read Natalie Walters’s first book, I knew right then I wanted to follow her. Her work has only gotten better! Seriously. I love this new series featuring the SNAP agency. Walters has populated the group with really wonderful characters from the very beginning and leaves the reader wanting to read all each of their stories. When I first met Kekoa Young in the first book, I was just so excited to read his story and it did not disappoint.

Tasked with a seemingly impossible quest, the SNAP agency must up their game this time, as Kekoa is asked to keep an eye on his neighbor, Elinor Mitchell, who is in possession of super sensitive information. But Kekoa likes her and refuses to believe she is the enemy.

Walters ramps up the suspense to a frightening degree here with a plot that is both intriguing and thrilling, racing toward a powerful conclusion, as well as delves into the deep emotional hurts of her characters as they struggle to do the right thing. I was in from the very first page and I love when that happens. Well done!

My thanks to Revell Publishing for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The review here is my own opinion.
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09LWHXK27/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1

Review: ‘When The Meadow Blooms’ by Ann H. Gabhart

About The Book
If any place on God’s earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law’s Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past–the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls’ experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, hope blooms as their past troubles become rich soil in which their faith can grow.

Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother’s widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again. But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing.

Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart explores the tender places within the human heart in this character-driven story of trusting God to turn our burdens into something beautiful.

About Ann H. Gabhart
Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. An award winning author, she’s published many books for both adults and young adults. Her books cover several genres from historical to small town family stories to cozy mysteries (mysteries published with author name A.H. Gabhart). Her ideas are sparked by events in Kentucky history and by experiences in her own family. Her first Shaker novel, The Outsider, was a finalist for the ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year. Love Comes Home won the Selah Book of the Year award, and These Healing Hills was the Faith, Hope & Love Readers’ Choice Women’s Fiction Book of the Year.
Ann lives on a Kentucky farm not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann enjoys hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. See more about her books at http://www.annhgabhart.com or join the conversation on her Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/anngabhart.
My Rating: 5 Stars!

‘Prayers were simply empty words. What could prayer do for him?

As soon as I started this book, I knew it was going to be a 5 star read. Ann H. Gabhart is a natural born storyteller, the kind you’d like to sit with on a rainy day by a crackling fire and just listen to her tell stories for hours. Or go for a long walk with her in early fall and hear her tell stories along the way. Maybe sit down on a fallen log and listen eagerly for each word. She has such a wonderful way with telling stories, her words flow sweetly as our hearts are filled with each character and their problems, joys, and love.

This precious story, set in 1925, is one that I won’t soon forget. A widow burdened with tuberculosis must let her two darling daughters go to an orphanage because she has to live in a sanitorium to be healed of this dread disease. These girls are not in the best place and situations arise that they call upon their father’s brother, a man who is scarred and lives in seclusion. Can they count on Dirk to rescue them? Will his heart open to their plight? Hearts are closed and broken, fears run deep, old secrets cause pain. Will the meadow ever bloom again in these hearts?

Gabhart has a winner here, one for the keeper shelf, as once again, our hearts are filled to the brim by this amazing storyteller. Well done!

My thanks to Revell for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion here is entirely my own.

Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: May 1, 2022
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09LWMZYX5/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1