Another Way Home by Deborah Raney — Review

Another Way Home (A Chicory Inn Novel) by Deborah Raney

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Another Way Home is the third Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney. The first, Home to Chicory Lane(See my review here), centered on Chase & Landyn (Whitman) Spencer along with the entire Whitman family. Two Roads Home focused on Landyn’s older sister, Corinne, and her family. Another Way Home follows the middle sister, Danae, & her husband Dallas Brooks. Danae and Dallas are having trouble trying to get pregnant, which seems more and more prevalent in today’s world. Raney handles the relevant subject with a grace and honesty that is refreshing. Fans of Chicory Inn will be ecstatic to see the rest of the Whitman family is still completely involved in the story. I was so happy to dive into this book and catch up with the characters! The Chicory Inn is idyllic. One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. Simply gorgeous, inviting, and relaxing. I love the continuity between all 3 books in this series in terms of cover art. I have to say the novel is a bit more intense than the picturesque cover would suggest. I was completely surprised when the second book in the series took a suspenseful turn, but I kind of expected it with this book. This is a story about marriage, infertility, family, and trust in God. I’m looking forward to the next title in the series and luckily a teaser chapter is included at the end of Another Way Home. Close to Home will feature Bree Whitman, Tim’s widow. I can’t wait to find out more about her story! It’s not too late to visit Chicory Inn. Pick up the first book and join the fun! Highly recommended to fans of Inspirational Fiction, Family Fiction, and books featuring an inn!

Publisher Info:

Sometimes God’s ways are not at all what we expect . . . and exactly what we need.

Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.

Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil-and leave them all forever changed.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1NQhjf8

 About the author:

Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deborah’s novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.
Find Deborah online: website, Twitter, Facebook
From the Litfuse Blog:

Story Behind Another Way Home

Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?

My writer friend Courtney Walsh planted the idea for the Chicory Inn Novels one evening a few years ago while we sat in a hotel lobby talking late into the night after a conference. I’d told several family stories during our visit, and at one point Courtney said, “Deb, you have so many fun family stories, you really ought to write a book about a big extended family like yours! Or better yet, a series!” That got my wheels turning, and I’ve been excited about the people who live on Chicory Lane ever since!

What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?

For me, it’s always writing the first draft (which I’d classify as “keeping it going” since I usually have fun with the idea, with creating the characters, living in the setting in my head. But that first draft kills me. Once I near the end, I almost always find the perfect ending. Unlike many authors, I love the editing process, too.

What trait do you love most about your main character?

I love the way Danae loves her husband. She’s not perfect, and she sometimes gets too self-absorbed, but she loves Dallas unabashedly, and would do anything for him. She loves her extended family the same way, and she loves that Dallas also loves her family.

When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?

I hope readers will think of difficult situations in their own lives, and realize that God already knows the ending to their story. He already has a plan for redeeming their toughest situation. And He will get them through!

What are you working on next?

I’ve just finished the fourth novel, Close to Home, which will release next spring. And then there is one final novel in the Chicory Inn series—Whitman son Link’s story, Home at Last—and I can’t wait to write it. I’ve already started on the research for an issue that will be key in the story. But it’s still a secret. :) :)

Interesting question posed in Deborah Raney's 'Another Way Home'

Deborah Raney’s Writing Favorites

What are your ideal writing conditions?

Clean house, perfect weather (so I can write out on the deck), great music playing, good coffee in a mug at my side.

If you could write in a different genre, which would you choose?

Believe it or not, I’d probably say suspense! I don’t like too scary books, and I wouldn’t enjoy all the research a suspense novel takes, but I’ve really enjoyed writing my women’s fiction novels that took a more suspenseful turn!

What book have you reread the most?

You know, I’ve only re-read a handful of books in my life! Cold Sassy Tree, my favorite novel of all time is one. And LaVerle Spencer’s Then Came Heaven (which I finished, then turned to the front and began re-reading immediately!)

If you could have lunch with any literary character, who would it be and why?

Oh, probably Cynthia, Father Tim’s wife in Jan Karon’s Mitford novels. I just think we’d be kindred spirits, and Father Tim is a lot like my Ken.

Favorite first line of a book:

I read this one recently and it made me smile. From Lisa Wingate’s The Sea Keeper’s Daughter: Perhaps denial is the mind’sway of protecting the heart from a sucker punch it can’t handle.

Do you have a go-to writing snack?

It’s hard to beat M&Ms—or any chocolate. I love Coffee Nips too! And Gobstoppers (miniature jawbreakers).

What is your favorite writing tool?

I must say I love having my Chicago Manual of Style open beside me. I’ve tried the online version, but there’s just something about having the hardcover book at hand. (And it doesn’t hurt that the new 16th edition’s aqua cover looks great in my office!)

If you were trapped in a book, what fictional place would you like to explore?

What a fun question! Well, I think I’d really love exploring Mitford (Jan Karon has a way of creating a cozy, warm environment.) But maybe I should use this opportunity to travel to Europe and explore some author’s fictional towns there.

What would the title of your biography be?

Better Late than Never. LOL! I’m really a fairly punctual person, but I do tend to experience some of life’s landmarks later than most. I was in my thirties before I’d ever flown in an airplane (I LOVE flying!) I still have never been to Europe… I’ve barely been outside the U.S. except for a brief jaunt into Mexico over the California border, and a couple of ports of call on the one cruise we went on years ago.

If you could live a day in one of your characters’ lives, who would you choose? Explain:

It would definitely be one of my Chicory Lane characters simply because their lives are very much like mine (AND they live near my grandbabies!) I truly love my life and while I do have a bucket list, I couldn’t ask for a better life than the one I’ve already lived!

Favorite quote:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. —Jim Elliot

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti — Review

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

Publisher Info:

On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

Review:

An Endless Christmas is a heartfelt holiday tale of faith, family, and love. One of my very favorite types of books, it’s a holiday novella focused on family during the Christmas season. This is the first book by Cynthia Ruchti that I’ve had the pleasure to read, and it was such a great experience! The characters are well developed and lovable, the story has a few unexpected twists, and the setting screams picturesque holiday. This book is by no means holiday fluff (though I do love such stories!), Ruchti weaves a bit of suspense and mystery into the story. The pace is perfect–which is tricky for some authors when it comes to novellas. You’ll finish this story longing to spend more time with the Binder (pronounced Bender) family, but also aching to hug your own! An Endless Christmas stresses the importance of family, forgiveness, and living in the moment. This is a must-read for the upcoming Christmas season, and it may well become a Christmas tradition in your holiday reading. Highly recommended for fans of Christian fiction, holiday novellas, and inspirational fiction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and speaking for women’s and writers’ events. Her books have been recognized by Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Selah Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers’ Choice Award. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in Pittsville, Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

*I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson — Review

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is the collision of three generations of stories. The setting jumps back and forth between the past and present, which is noted by the date on the past sections and a different font used for each time-frame. The story starts with Maggie and later moves to Libby, but much of the book is viewed through the eyes of Heather, our present-day main character. Without giving away any spoilers, I can say this is a story about history repeating itself. It’s also a tale of secrets–from family, from others–and what happens when they come out. I enjoyed this story very much. There’s a definite twist that the author lets us in on late in the story, but well before the characters pick up on it. This book is a mystery of sorts, mainly of family heritage and a suspicious death. It’s not super intense, which I actually liked. It’s interesting and realistic and sheds a light on how people with disabilities were viewed in the past. Libby likely falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, but no one knew that in her time. The author paints a picture of what life was like and mentions how different things are today. It’s ultimately a story of family and forgiveness, how truth can heal wounds. There are a lot of moving parts, which took some getting used to. Early on I had to keep looking back to remember which character was which. That being said, I’m very glad I read Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, and I hope you’ll read it, too. The book is extremely well written and includes beautiful descriptions of gardens and manors. I strongly suggest you read the author’s note after finishing the story, as I found it informative and a nice conclusion to the book. Highly recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, family sagas, and mild suspense.

Publisher Info:

When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1HuCCkT

About the author:

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indianawon Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie lives with her husband Jon and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.

Find Melanie online: website, Twitter, Facebook

The Story Behind Shadows of Ladebrooke Manor — from The Litfuse Blog

Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Where does a writer find inspiration? What’s the hardest part about writing a book? What do you hope your writing achieves? We’ve asked Melanie Dobson to tell us the story behind Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Read our interview with Melanie to learn more!


Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?

Researching and writing a novel is a little bit like working on a puzzle—I find pieces of inspiration from all sorts of places and then try to fit those pieces together to create a story. For Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, I was inspired by a number of things: the manor homes and gardens in England, the process to restore damaged artwork, the beauty and migration of butterflies, parents who fight for their autistic children, unique, talented kids who don’t always fit into society’s box of normal, and most of all, by the power of God to redeem and restore broken relationships.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?

Middles have always been my greatest challenge. I start writing a novel excited about the beginning, and I have a fairly good idea of how the story will end. Weaving together all the threads in the middle is hard for me though. I’ve learned to press on, and then come back and edit once I’ve written the last chapter of my book.

What do you love most about your main character?

My main characters are four generations of Doyle women, and one man—Walter Doyle—who loved all of them. Walter and each of these women are crucial to the story, but I’ll pick Libby sinceShadows of Ladenbrooke Manor revolves around what happened to her. I love Libby’s creativity, her desire for relationships even when they are difficult, her loyalty to Oliver Croft, and her passion to paint beautiful butterflies.

When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor was my exploration of God’s light shining through the shadows of life, along with the beauty and power of His restoration through generations. The story is ultimately about transformation — how even in the hardest situations God can weave together a story of hope and redemption and create incredible beauty from the ashes of our lives. When readers finish reading this novel, I hope they are inspired to see God working through the shadows in their own life.

What are you working on next?

Right now I’m writing another novel set in England, and I’m editing a magical middle grade series that I wrote with my daughters.

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Side Note: IT’S OFFICIALLY 5 MONTHS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!!

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren — Review

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

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The Wonder of You is the 5th book in Warren’s Christiansen Family series. This time the focus is on the youngest Christiansen member, Amelia. It’s a classic love triangle story–which boy should she choose? There’s Roark-the Brit she fell in love with overseas, or Seth- her hometown lifelong boyfriend. Amelia’s story is about more than romance, though. She’s struggling with her purpose and God’s plan for her life. Failure is a strong theme throughout The Wonder of You. Warren tackles the issue from several different angles, showing us self-failure in different situations and life stages and how we can react and rebound in each. While this story didn’t grab me as quickly as When I Fall in Love (book 3), it slowly worked it’s way to the forefront of my mind. By the end, I wanted more! Warren weaves in a bit of suspense in places, and she has superbly set up the next (and final) book in the Christiansen Family series. Fans of the series will be overjoyed to see a lot of Grace and Max in The Wonder of You. It’s really nice to see where they are now and what they’re dealing with, and they are strong secondary characters in this story. I give this book a solid 4 stars. Recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, family series, and Christian romance.

Publisher Info:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?

Susan May Warren

{MORE ABOUT SUSAN MAY WARREN}

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed 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. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at http://www.susanmaywarren.com

ABOUT THE CHRISTIANSEN FAMILY SERIES:

Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.

In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)

Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.

In It had to Be You . . .

Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

In When I Fall in Love . . .

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.

In Always On My Mind . . .

After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby.

In Evergreen (CHRISTMAS NOVELLA!!). . .

An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris?

Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.

As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future.

Coming in Spring 2016: You’re the One That I Want

I urge you to check out the Christiansen family series!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney — Review & Giveaway!

Two Roads Home (A Chicory Inn Novel) by Deborah Raney

Two Roads Home is the second Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney. The first, Home to Chicory Lane (See my review here), centered on Chase & Landyn (Whitman) Spencer along with the Whitman clan. Two Roads Home focuses on Landyn’s older sister, Corinne, and her family. Fans of Chicory Inn will be glad to discover that the rest of the Whitman family is still very much involved in the story. I was so happy to dive into this book and catch up with the characters! The Chicory Inn is idyllic, and Raney’s description of Corinne’s house made me wish I could move right in! One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. Simply gorgeous, inviting, and relaxing. I love the continuity between the first book and this one in terms of cover art. However, this laid back picture doesn’t completely represent the tension hidden inside the novel. I was completely surprised when the book took a suspenseful turn. I was enjoying the story very much, but the added intensity made it SO much better! There’s a definite feeling of unease for much of the story. Everything isn’t necessarily resolved by the end, but it’s tied up well enough. This is a story about marriage, purpose, and faith. I’m looking forward to the next title in the series and luckily a teaser chapter is included at the end of Two Roads HomeAnother Way Home will allow a peek into the lives of Danae (Whitman) Brooks & her husband, Dallas. It’s not too late to visit Chicory Inn. Pick up the first two books right away as the next releases in a few months! Highly recommended to fans of Inspirational Fiction, Family Fiction, and books featuring an inn!

Favorite lines:

He kissed her forehead, yearning to be back in her good graces, homesick for her in a way that didn’t fit with the fact that he was holding her in his arms. -page 38

But the words seemed strangely unavailable to her. And she knew God was answering her prayer for the right words. Sometimes silence was the answer to a prayer for the right words. Thank you for closing my mouth. Perhaps there would be another day to say those things. But that day was not today. -page 266

Publisher Info:

Two Roads Home (Abingdon Press, June 2015)

What if it’s too late for dreams to come true?

Minor-but-nagging setbacks continue to sour Grant and Audrey Whitman’s initiation into the world of innkeeping, but larger challenges brew when an innocent flirtation leads to big trouble for the Whitmans’ son-in-law, Jesse. Jesse Pennington’s friendly, outgoing personality has always served him well, especially in a career that has earned him and his wife Corinne a very comfortable lifestyle. But Corinne and Jesse are both restless—and for similar reasons, if only they could share those with each other. Instead, too many business trips and trumped-up charges of harassment from a disgruntled coworker threaten their marriage and possibly put their three precious daughters at risk.

With their life in disarray, God is tugging at their hearts to pursue other dreams. Can Corinne and Jesse pick up the pieces of what was once a wonderful life before it all crumbles beneath them?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1BdaEcG

 About the author: 


Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deborah’s novels-for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.

Find Deborah online: website, Twitter, Facebook

Deborah Raney’s ‘Two Roads Home’ 5-Book Giveaway

Two Roads Home Deborah Raney

Click the button to be taken to the giveaway page!

Deborah Raney also wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Playing by HeartShe wrote an updated and expanded version of the book and it released last year as A January Bride, part of the multi-authored series A Year of Weddings. I hope you’ll check out her work!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson [Review]

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

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My Review:

A Bouquet of Love is the fourth book in Thompson’s Weddings by Design series. The main character is Cassia Pappas, the oldest daughter in a populous Greek family. Cassia is stuck–she feels tethered to her father by his apron strings and thinks she’ll never break away from the family business, Super Gyros. Loneliness plagues Cassia even though she is constantly surrounded by family. The family’s relocation from California to Galveston, Texas, was not something she saw coming, but it could turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to the Pappas family.

I first fell in love with Janice Thompson’s work when I happened upon a book called White as Snow. I enjoyed it immensely, and I’ve been keeping an eye on her work ever since. I haven’t read any of the other Weddings by Design titles, but I plan to in the near future. It usually takes me awhile to get into a book, but this one was different! I felt like I knew who Cassia Pappas was from the first sentence. I realized I was reading faster than usual, and that was because I just knew Cassia was a fast talker with a big personality. I rooted for Cassia from the beginning, and I loved the supporting characters as well. As a Texan, I thought a few things were overexaggerated, but that’s to be expected. Babbas and Laz are characters in every sense of the word, and Thompson wrote them so well! Cassia has a fondness for Judy Garland, so each chapter title is a Judy Garland song. The beginning of each chapter also has a ‘You know you’re Greek if…’ line, which I found highly entertaining and believable! Thompson’s series are a bit interconnected–this book is all about the Pappas and the Rossis. Characters from her ‘Weddings by Bella’ and ‘Backstage Pass’ series are also abundant in A Bouquet of Love. I really enjoyed this story. I recommend it for fans of christian fiction, christian romance, and family stories.

*The first book in the Weddings by Design series, Picture Perfect, is currently free on Kindle! Go here to get it.

Publisher’s Info:

She didn’t expect to fall in love–but roses aren’t the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand–directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John’s–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop .

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect, The Icing on the Cake, and The Dream Dress. She lives in Texas. Learn more at http://www.janiceathompson.com.

*I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads in exchange for an honest review.

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren – Review, Contest, & Giveaway!

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

WhenIFallInLove-252x378

When I Fall in Love is the 3rd book in Warren’s Christiansen Family series. While it’s the first title in the series that I’ve read, I have first 2 books in my to-read pile! When I Fall in Love is the story of Grace Christiansen, a homebody who fails to see her own potential, and Maxwell Sharpe, a professional hockey player with a heartbreaking secret. Warren also sets the scene for future books in the Christiansen family series by directing interest to Owen & Casper Christiansen and town newcomer Raina.

When I Fall in Love is such a good story. It’s optimistic & hopeful, honest, heartbreaking, and all too realistic. Warren’s characters are easy to fall for, and I know I’ll be coming back for more from the Christiansen family. This title revolves around three things: family, food, and trust in God. Warning: this book will make you hungry and leave you salivating. I only took breaks in reading to watch episodes of Top Chef on my DVR. When I Fall in Love is for fans of family series, Christian romance, and fiction that revolves around food. I highly recommend it!!

Favorite lines:

“He could nearly hear the walls crumbling, a gritty, brutal crash that left him weak as she floated off the elevator, turning his world to Technicolor. He hadn’t realized he’d been living in black and white and muted grays until that moment.”

Publisher Info:

A Christiansen Family Novel |When I Fall in Love

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.

Susan May Warren

{MORE ABOUT SUSAN MAY WARREN}

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed 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. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at http://www.susanmaywarren.com

Find out more about Susan May athttp://www.susanmaywarren.com/.

Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown!

Susan May Warren When I Fall in Love

One grand prize winner will receive:

A KitchenAid Mixer

The first three books in the Christiansen Family Collection.

Melissa Ringstaff’s Kitchen Planner

Jackie Brown’s Freezer Inventory sheet

Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you’re not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan’s blog.

The Story Behind When I Fall in Love

Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?

For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. I’ll be celebrating 25 years with my amazing husband this summer, and as I look back it feels like time is but a blink. Just yesterday, I was walking down the aisle to his smile, wondering how I got so lucky. And life has been generous to me–four amazing children, a rich landscape of faith-building experiences.

It’s not been without challenges, however. Many a day, as I lived in Siberia, I thought . . . what did I get myself in to? And, we’ve changed, become different people. Life and romance didn’t always measure up. Thankfully, we’ve had a long-term view of the game. But what if I was only promised five years, or less. Or, what if he had a terrible disease that required me to care for him all our days? Would I have said yes to this adventure? It’s one thing to pledge yourself to love, and then endure through the unexpected challenges . . . completely another to look at life knowing the darkness is ahead.

I came upon the idea for this book a few ways—first, I had a friend who married her sweetheart, knowing he had incurable brain cancer. He died three years later, and she said it was the best three years of her life.

Then, I had another friend who married young, and just a few years into her marriage, her husband came down with early onset Alzheimer’s. She nursed him until she couldn’t care for him any longer, then fell in love with someone else and, although it was painful, divorced her first husband and married the other man. It haunted her.

It wonder if it was the perspective of knowing what lay ahead that helped the first rejoice, while the second felt robbed. Knowing her days might be few . . . my first friend feasted on every moment and ended well nourished, the taste of hope in her heart.

So often, in this Christian life, when things don’t turn out as we hope or expect, we feel robbed. As if, with our promise to follow God, like our promise at the altar, it guarantees happiness. Frankly, God promises us challenges, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they happen. But how, then, do we cope?

Psalm 84: 5-7 offers answers:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Pilgrimage. The journey . . . through life, towards heaven. God offers us refreshment in the desert, and places of strength along the way. What if our happiness isn’t only in what is ahead of us . . . but in embracing the now? In enjoying the moments God has given us, even in the midst of suffering? What if we lived with a mindset of rejoicing in the strength, the springs of today . . . in order to bear the desert of tomorrow? Perhaps the annoying vices of our loved ones might not be so frustrating. Perhaps our faith wouldn’t seem so starved.

I wanted a write a cooking story because we love food around the Warren house. My husband is a fantastic cook—he loves to follow recipes and create gourmet food on the weekends. I’m more of an “open the fridge and see what I can create” kind of gal. We could drive each other crazy. Max and Grace’s story shows me that perhaps we are, instead, a winning team, if we’re willing to embrace the moment, the current ingredients before us, and enjoy mess we make together.

Enjoy–no, feast–on the journey, one meal, one day at time.

What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?

This story was the hardest because of the issues that Max faces–how could I write a happy ending for Grace? As a parent, would I want Grace to marry Max? Probably not. So I had to make Max worth it. And I had to create a situation that would make Ingrid and John supportive of Grace. And, I had to grapple with the situation in the book fairly and honestly, not diminishing the impact of the future, but not veering away from the truth of hope and the result of faith added to the equation. Probably one of my most difficult themes/stories to write because the ending isn’t easy. But life isn’t easy, so maybe that’s okay.

What trait do you love most about your main character?

I love Max because he is a passionate guy—although wounded, and he has so much going for him. If only he didn’t have this cloud hanging over him. But Max lives for now, and I wanted to set him free to enjoy the now, the escape to Hawaii—and then see how it might set him free to face his future, also.

When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?

There is joy even in the darkness, even when we feel as if God is not on our side. And that love is worth the cost.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the next book in the series, Always on My Mind, a story that picks up the subplot from When I Fall in Love, and carries it into the main storyline with the question: What if you see someone you love headed for trouble—but they’ve told you to stay out of their life. Do you interfere?

ABOUT THE CHRISTIANSEN FAMILY SERIES:

Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.

In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)

Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.

In It had to Be You . . .

Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

In When I Fall in Love . . .

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.

Coming in February: Always On My Mind

I urge you to check out the Christiansen family series!!

*I received this book free from LitFuse in exchange for an honest review.