I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ten Things with Author Mary Moore...and a Giveaway!

Ten Things With Novelist Mary Moore

Welcome Mary Moore to Tea and a Good Book! Mary has been an avid student of the Regency era since the 1970s and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers' historic fiction community as well as a member of Faith, Hope, and Love and Beau Monde chapters of the RWA. She has been writing historical fiction for over fifteen years. Mary had to put her writing on hold due to some health issues, including a bout with breast cancer. She is now even more excited about her writing as she incorporates her struggles throughout her books, dedicated to encouraging others in the Lord and using her talent to His glory. A native of the Washington D.C. area, Mary and her husband now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, with their black lab, Darcy. When not writing, Mary enjoys time with her husband, watching romantic movies, reading, and weekend getaways. Mary would love to hear from you. You can reach her by visiting her website here and on Facebook.

 1.  I am not a morning person.  Really, ask anyone.  In fact, one of my favorite tee shirts is a shirt my mom gave me when I was sixteen, “I may rise, but I refuse to shine!”

2.  I don’t like fruits OR vegetables.  Yes, true, sorry.  I’m a meat and potatoes girl.
* I will eat corn if you make me, but it cannot be on the cob.
* I will eat an apple if you make me, but please don’t.

3.  I come from a huge (and wild!) Irish family.  (My maiden name is O’Leary, my mom’s maiden name was Callaghan, shall I go further?)  I love them all!

4.  My favorite food out is Arby’s.  (My husband is happy, I’m a really cheap date.)

5.  I am a John Wayne fanatic.  (Ask me anything, go ahead.)

6.  I am a shoe fanatic.  (Now that my husband is retired, it is from afar.)

7.  I am a Regency fanatic.  (Hence, “The Aristocrat’s Lady”)

8.  I am a chocolate fanatic.   (Not necessarily in that order.)

9.  I’m married to my best friend - “…my second self, my best earthly companion…”   (Can you name that book?)

10.  I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and because of that I am promised eternal life with Him.

Mary's first novel, The Aristocrat's Lady, is now in stores. Here's a peek:

An Unexpected Encounter...
For a few moments on a moonlit balcony, Nicole Beaumont was just a beautiful woman catching the eye of the handsome Lord Devlin—but she knew the illusion couldn't last. If the enigmatic aristocrat knew her secret, he'd realize that her disability left her unfit for love. So who could blame her for hiding the truth a little longer?

Devlin had never met a woman like Nicole. Her unique combination of innocence and wisdom left him utterly intrigued. Yet what was she hiding? For a man who did not trust easily, discovering her secret was devastating. Overcoming their pasts and forging a future would take faith, forgiveness and trust. And second chances could lead to new beginnings… 

Would you like to win this book? Mary has generously offered to give a copy to one lucky commenter, to be chosen at random. Please leave a comment by midnight tomorrow (September 30) Eastern Time, including your email address (spaced out to protect you from spammers) within the body of the comment.

To double your chances of winning and to learn about a pivotal moment in Mary's Faith Journey, visit Inkwell Inspirations here. The same rules apply--please leave a comment with your email address by midnight Friday, September 30.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wings of a Dream Takes Flight

I’ll say this up front: Anne Mateer’s debut novel, Wings of a Dream, is one of my favorite reads of the year.

Rebekah Hendricks grew up on an Oklahoma farm, but she dreams of a life of adventure once the First World War ends. When her Aunt Adabelle in Texas falls ill, Rebekah goes to care for her, happy to get out of town and be close to her aviator beau stationed at Camp Dick. But Rebekah’s arrival doesn’t go as she planned. The Spanish flu has devastated the town. Not only is Adabelle near death, but to Rebekah’s surprise, Adabelle is the caregiver of four motherless children until their father returns from fighting in Europe, a job thrust on Rebekah’s shoulders.

Told in Rebekah’s first-person narrative throughout, the story’s unfolds gently, as does Rebekah’s character. Isolated by the epidemic, Rebekah is forced to serve where God has placed her even while she yearns to run free. As she experiences loss, heartbreak, and growing affection for the children, it was easy to sympathize with her struggle to let God take charge of her dreams—even if it means He changes them.

The epidemic ends, as does the war, but complications persist. Will Rebekah’s love for the children prevent her from flying away with her aviator? Then there’s the ever-faithful sheriff who drops by. And one day, the loss-ravaged father who can’t live with—or without—the woman his children have grown to love.

I hated to end this story. It’s no understatement to say that I can’t wait until Anne’s next novel comes out. I imagine it will end up right next to Wings of a Dream, on my keeper shelf.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was neither expected nor promised.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A True Taste of Regency: The Aristocrat’s Lady by Mary Moore

When Regency come-out Lady Nicole Beaumont meets sought-after Jared DeVale, Lord Devlin, on a dark terrace, neither is interested in marriage…which makes them perfect candidates to be friends. Together, they enjoy all the offerings of London without the complication of any romantic expectations. Still, despite their best intentions, their friendship deepens into the potential for something more. But Nicole hides a secret, a disability which she’s kept hidden from all but those closest to her. And when Devlin learns the truth, her betrayal may be more than he can forgive. Can he, with God's help?

Mary Moore’s The Aristocrat’s Lady is a true Regency romance. It's full of all the things many readers love about stories set during the era: the London Season, balls, carriage rides, dashing lords, social mores, and witty repartee. I loved the cant, or slang, peppered throughout the book, something I’ve found sadly absent from a lot of Regency-set books. The language and era-appropriate word choices here add just the right flavor to enhance the setting.

The characters may also seem familiar to readers of the genre. Devlin is a satisfying Regency hero—elusive, a bit jaded, yet (like Austen’s Darcy) drawn to the heroine’s quick wit. He’s sworn off marriage, however, because of his deceased wife’s deceitfulness, and has a difficult time with trust and forgiveness. Likewise, Nicole has been scorched by a cruel partner; her fiancé called off their engagement because of her secret disability (the term used on the back-cover blurb, so I will use it here).

It’s that secret, more than her fiancé’s fickleness, which holds Nicole back from seeking a life of love, with Devlin or anyone else. Nicole’s insistence on hiding her disability from friend and stranger alike is both brave and (dare I say) morally tricky. While her motivation is understandable, hiding her disability could be viewed as a sin of omission—Nicole doesn’t straight-up lie, but she doesn’t divulge the truth, either, and she relies on others to assist her keep up a pretense.

Naturally, when he learns what’s going on, Devlin’s feelings of betrayal are all the more intense because of his past history. While neither he nor Nicole wish to hurt anyone, both are hurt, and neither are blameless, a real-to-life fact that's well-handled by Moore. Forgiveness is not as easy as a simple snap of the fingers.

I also appreciate another theme of the story, of friendship caught fire. Devlin and Nicole's relationship is sweet, slow, and celebrates the foundation friendship plays in a growing relationship.

Debut author Moore writes a well-crafted story which is sure to appeal to fans of inspirational Regencies. The Aristocrat's Lady is a September release from Steeple Hill: Love Inspired Historicals, and is available on Amazon or at your favorite retailer.

I received a copy of this book from the author for the purpose of review. A positive review was not expected in exchange.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Last Word on 9/11: Love

Original description: "The American flag ...Image via WikipediaIn some ways, it doesn’t seem like it’s been ten years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Perhaps it’s because the older I get, the faster time passes. Or perhaps it’s because we saw the best and worst of humanity at work. Or perhaps I haven't healed, and the experience still feels fresh, like a raw wound that has not scarred over yet.

We all remember where we were that day with startling clarity (as for me, my newborn woke us early, our street was being repaved, the weather was humid) and how the news affected and changed us (for good or for ill).

There are many opinions about our response as a country—in terms of our world standing, politics, security, and just war—and while I don’t discount those weighty issues, I will not be addressing them here. Nor will I be considering them in my own private memorial for September 11.

For me, the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is a day to pray for the families, survivors, and victims, and to pray for my own family, a precious group whom I am helpless to completely protect from the evils of this world.

I read something recently that resonated with me. After the planes hit the World Trade Center Towers, hundreds of people trapped in the buildings or held hostage by terrorists on Flight 93 were able to phone their loved ones. These men and women knew they were near death. Some knew they were being murdered.

According to their families, most of these victims shared a message with a single theme. Their last words were not angry, nor pleas for justice or demands for vengeance.

“I love you. Tell the kids I love them. Tell Mom and Dad. I’ve always loved you all. You are my life. You are my heart. You are the best things that ever happened to me. I love you. I love you.”

Their last words on 9/11 were love.

I don’t want to die angry. I do not want my last moments to be filled with rage or fear. I want love and gratitude to reign in my heart those minutes before I fly into the arms of Jesus.

I am certainly not saying that justice should go unobserved. But as a Christian, I believe that vengeance belongs to the Lord, and only He can and will truly set the universe right. No nation can achieve the peace of God.

I certainly can’t achieve it. All I can do is work in my own corner of the world with the people He’s given me to work His peace, to share His love.

And love, to most of the victims of 9/11, was ultimately what mattered most.

I vow not to squander love, the only thing that truly matters. This 9/11, my intent is to grieve the loss, honor the heroes and victims, and support our military (one of whom is my godson, serving in Kuwait).

But on 9/11 I also vow to love my husband, children, family, and friends. Because as far as I can help it it, love will be my last word, and I want it to flow through every word I speak until then.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ten Things...with Author Anne Mateer

Anne Mateer is a three-time Genesis Contest finalist who has long had a passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults. Her first novel, Wings of a Dream, is a new release from Bethany House.

And she's agreed to share Ten Things about herself with us. Welcome, Anne!

1.  My number one dislike in life is cooking. Which is tied with housecleaning. (Yup. I’m not domestic. At. All.)
2.  I attended three different colleges and still managed to graduate in four years. (Now that I have kids in college, this has become quite amazing to me!)
3.  For over 8 years, I have attended a weekly critique group with the same two writers, Mary DeMuth and Leslie Wilson. We started as all unpublished writers. Now, with this book, we are all published.
4.  Most of my life was spent wagging around the chains of fear and insecurity. The Lord used some very intense years with an uber strong-willed child, a workaholic husband, and involvement in a retreat called Tres Dias to convince me of His abundant love for me— not just for everyone else. His word to me in those years—”I love you too much to let you remain the same as you are now”— has proven true time and time again. Freedom is such an amazing grace.
5.  I studied acting during my awkward middle school years. (This will not surprise those of you who were at the opening session of the 2007 ACFW Conference. You’ve seen my dramatic side.)
6.  Winter is my favorite season. I adore curling up with coffee (sorry, Susie!) and good book in front of a blazing fire.
7.  My husband and I dream of visiting Scotland one day.
8.  I’d love to live in a house that is at least 100 years old. Pre-1900 would be even better. But I don’t want to restore it myself. Neither my husband nor I are handy; we just love history.
9.  My favorite social media is twitter. Don’t know why. I just like it.
10.          The idea for Wings of a Dream came to me in early 2000, but I didn’t actually write the book until 2009. 

Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.

But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebeka is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart. 

You can visit Anne on her blogsite. Wings of a Dream is available now from your favorite Christian retailer and Amazon. Come back soon to read what I think about Anne's book! And if you have any questions for Anne, please leave them in a comment. She'll be by later!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ah, September!

the Confucius tree (Chinese Pistache) that tur...Image via WikipediaThe breezes taste like apple peel, the air is full of smells: ripe fruit, old footballs, burning brush, new books, erasers, chalk, & such. -John Updike.

Ah, September. Summer is over; school time has begun. Shadows grow a bit longer each afternoon. Soon the leaves of my Chinese Pistache will turn gold-scarlet, a color which takes over all favorites when experienced in its full autumn glory.

But not yet. Early September is a time of now-and-not-yet. While the temperature hovers around one hundred degrees at my house, signs of autumn have been looming for a while, especially in the garden. The dillweed and parsley went to seed, despite my best attempts to prolong their tasty lives. My peppermint flowered and yellows, and my mums look tired. The green, horned worms and grasshoppers did their worst, and I've harvested the last of my tomatoes. The basil clings to life, and I'm once again grateful for the perennial heartiness of the rosemary planted outside the family room window. It smells wonderful. It's green. And nothing can kill that thing.

Other signs of autumn have appeared. Isn't it astonishing that many inspirational publishers put out Christmas themed books in September! It's true, and it works--I buy them now, too. (Costco has Christmas items for sale, too, and my favorite nursery owner showed me a kissing ball today!)

My September reading doesn't include any holiday-themed stories, however. I'm enjoying these September releases:

Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer is the well-crafted, captivating story of Rebekah Hendricks, a young woman on the verge of an exciting life. While she waits for her dashing Arthur to return from WWI, her aunt falls ill from the Spanish flu, so she travels to Texas to care for her. But when Rebakah encounters four children with no one to care for them, she it torn between the life she planned and the one God puts in front of her. A surprising love complicates matters, and she has a difficult decision to make.

(Anne will be visiting here on Wednesday, September 7, so please come by and get to know her!)

The Aristocrat's Lady is a Regency-set romance by another debut author, Mary Moore. I love Regency-set stories, and as I read I'm enjoying all of the period tidbits Moore placed into her novel, from carriage rides to Austenesque witty banter. In this story, nothing will mar the friendship of Lady Nicole and Lord Devlin, since neither will ever marry. But Lady Nicole has a secret--she has an infirmity which she's determined to hide from everyone in the Beau Monde, even Lord Devlin. Overcoming the pain of their pasts and the devastation of her secret will require trust in the Lord and forgiveness.

The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund is a book I've waited a long time to read. Her debut novel, The Preacher's Bride, was one of my favorite releases last year. Hedlund is a gifted writer and her characters are truly the types of characters you care about. I can't wait to dig into this one!

What about you? What are you reading?

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