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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson

Debut Author Jessica Nelson’s Love on the Range is a quick-paced tale of secrets, risks, and romance. Likable characters and action combine to create an intriguing story with elements of suspense and a unique setting.

In 1918, the horrors of WWI raged alongside another deadly war: Spanish influenza. To escape the virus, wealthy Bostonian Gracelyn Riley’s is sent by her family to live with Uncle Lou in the Oregon desert. A young socialite and suffragist with dreams of becoming a reporter, Gracelyn doesn’t mind living in Oregon, because she’ll taste independence from her parents and become a serious reporter. Or she will, once she lands an exclusive interview with the mysterious hero, Striker.  

Gracie’s endeavors to find and interview Striker are obstructed by ranch hand Trevor Cruz, a strong man of few words. He clearly knows something about Striker, but he avoids answering most of Gracie’s questions. He may be attracted to her, but her snooping will get her into deep trouble if she’s not careful. Trevor protects her, but he’s determined to protect his heart as well—from her and from her God.

At first, Gracie comes off rather strong-headed and pampered, but she’s utterly likable. As she grows through the story, she discovers the significance of honest work and true friendship and I rooted for her all the way. Her concern for Trevor’s lack of faith is touching, but Trevor’s heart can’t be fixed easily. Like most of the real world’s problems, Trevor’s issues run deep.  

A delightful story about God’s redeeming love, romance, and adventure, Love on the Range is a perfect summer read.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

Today I am honoring Ruth Reid, who is an amazing critique partner...and MORE! She's a prayer warrior, a good friend, and she offers me tremendous encouragement and constructive criticism. And most of all, she's patient with me. Ruth, for my RAOK gift, please accept whatever help you need from me on your next Amish-set novel! 

I really appreciate Ruth. If you have a minute, please stop in on her website and tell her how awesome she is!

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Brush of Angel's Wings

Ruth Reid’s Brush of Angel’s Wings is a fresh and compelling Amish-set tale, blending romance, loss, and spiritual warfare in a well-crafted story.

Rachel Hartzler is past marrying age—but she isn’t exactly “marriage material” anyway. She’s a buggy-racing champion, her father’s right-hand-man on the farm, and—unlike the other Amish girls in the community—a lousy cook. But since her brother died and she took over his chores, one thing has become clear: Rachel is much happier outside than at a quilting bee.

When Rachel’s father hires newcomer Jordan Engles to help him on the farm, however, Rachel feels rejected, replaced, and resentful. She understands her daed wants her to work on her domestic skills so she can find a husband, but Jordan’s presence irritates her. No way will he replace her brother’s memory.

Not that Englischer Jordan plans to stay long. He’s only living with his Uncle Isaac in Hope Falls to honor his dying mother’s request that he try the Amish home and lifestyle she abandoned. For a while, he’ll play at being Amish, but the grueling work, strict way of life, and Rachel’s hostility show him this isn’t the life for him.

If only he and Rachel weren’t attracted to one another, their lives could go on as before.

Human heartbreak, duty, and will are not the only factors influencing Rachel and Jordan, however. They are involved in a spiritual battle. Nathaniel, God’s angel, works to bring the couple closer to the Lord and each other, but Tangus the demon has other plans.

And when tragedy befalls the community, Rachel faces a devastating choice, and God’s will isn’t simple to discern. Will they and accept God’s healing and peace?

I love Reid’s unique spin on Amish-set stories, and I find her characters and they path they take toward love and wholeness to be relatable, full of humor, growing pains, and believable emotion. Strong-willed and feisty, both Rachel and Jordan are imperfect characters. Neither is a standard role-model for their sex: Rachel’s lack of domesticity leaves her standing alone at the sings, and Jordan is not a natural farmer. Both chafe against their roles, yet learn—through time and prayer—how God would have them fulfill His purposes.

I appreciated the spiritual warfare angle, as well. It was a profound reminder that forces are at work in the spiritual realm as well as our own. Whether or not angels function like Nathaniel does, the idea of angels among us reminded me to be mindful of my choices and keep an eternal perspective.

Brush of Angel’s Wings is that rare combination of captivating story, well-executed plot, and spiritual encouragement in one novel. I give it my full recommendation.