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Friday, September 23, 2022


About the Book

Book: Delicious Devotion

Author: Melissa Wardwell

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: August 30, 2022

Why do weddings do their best to ruin relationships? Friends, family—even the couple!

Beth Stevens didn’t come to the Independence Islands to find a guy, but thanks to her beloved Gram, she had a place to go and the skills to start a business she loves. Meeting Scott again and getting engaged was a bonus she only dreamed of.

Now, in the final weeks before their Christmas Eve wedding, she can’t imagine not having him in her life. They have endured one hurdle after another in their two-year relationship and have remained devoted through it all.

And then months of wedding planning begins to fall apart as one person continues to undermine Beth’s choices.

Scott has waited for this day to come but as he witnesses Beth unravel, he does everything he knows to do to protect and stand by her.

The question is, will things ever come together enough to get them both to the altar before it’s too late?

This Breakers Head novel is Melissa Wardwell’s final novel in the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband and three teen-aged children.

She doesn’t mind alternating between the world of writing and the reality of being a mother, but she would rather sit with a good book or a good friend and a cup of coffee.

When she isn’t penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books for her blog, Back Porch Reads.

To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit www.melissawardwell.com

 

More from Melissa

For five books I have tormented and teased readers. Some have even emailed me asking when they were going to see a wedding for Beth and Scott. Now I can say, this is your chance.

I cannot tell you how fun this book was to write. Every plot line, great or small, that I left hanging in the previous four books will come together here. I know some didn’t like it, and I’m sorry, but that was the way the characters told me their stories.

See, my books for The Independence Islands run together like that of a television series. Not every plot is resolved at the end of the season and the characters come back in the next season. We know someone is ill at the end of season four, but will they survive through season five? And if it involves legal issues, well those don’t resolve in a short amount of time, no matter what. Then, there is the slow burn romance. I mean, come on, not every romance is a flash in the pan. The good ones build over the span of months, or in Beth and Scott’s case, years.

Throughout this series, these characters have faced their demons while learning to trust God’s hand in their lives. They have lost and loved, married and buried, celebrated and cried all while searching for something more. I don’t know about you, but finishing Delicious Devotion was like saying good-bye to dear friends. Of course, the hardest was Gram’s final piece of wisdom to the bride and groom…

“Be vulnerable with each other, in every way. If you cannot be vulnerable and open with your spouse, then there is no trust in your foundations. When you pray together, pray openly. When you talk about those private things that only spouses talk about, be willing to listen to your spouse and act accordingly. Remember to keep everything stated in those moments of vulnerability between the two of you. No bed is big enough for three people.”

That lady was so smart.

Thank you for going on this journey of self-discovery and growth in faith. Beth was not the only one who went through some changes over the last two years. I’d like to think that she and I grew together as we processed loss, success, new friendships, and healing of old wounds.

If you stuck with it through all five of my contributions and loved every minute, then you are welcome. If you wanted to lay hands on my swiftly and repeatedly, I apologize. Stories like this have minds of their own.

I hope you will continue to follow me as I publish more books with the wonderful people at Celebrate Lit and integrate a couple of these characters in future books.

Grace and peace be with you all your days,

Melissa Wardwell

MY REVIEW 

The time has finally arrived to read  Beth and Scott’s story. I have been waiting for their turn in this series and thrilled that this author is the one to share their journey. Beth is such a hard worker and is always making sure everyone is happy. The anticipation for her wedding has kept me entertained and now I have a front row seat to the big event. 

Scott has been one of my favorite characters throughout this series along with Beth. I loved how the author gives us a chance to know Scott and see how devoted he is to Beth. He would do anything  for her but I could tell that something was bothering  him. Does it have to do with an old college friend that has come to visit him? A tinge of jealousy rears it’s ugly head when Scott sees his friend flirting with Beth. The emotions can be felt as Scott allows his anger to get the best of him. The author brings her writing style to this story as readers can feel every tear, angry moments, jealousy and faith. 

I have watched the author grow as a writer and am thrilled to see how powerful her stories have become. We don’t only get raw emotions but we learn lessons like forgiveness and unconditional love. The faith messages  she uses in the book  are placed in just the  right spots  to enhance each moment and illustrates the importance of faith and God. 

The twists in the story took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t prepared for what these would do to the story and I was excited where the author would take the characters. When a disaster takes place and Beth’s mother is the cause of it, Beth comes unglued. I can understand her anger but at this moment in time, she will have to choose how to handle it. Will she forgive her mother, or allow bitterness to win?  When  things get tough does Scott turn away from Beth? 

“The choices we make can change the course of our path. Choose wisely.”

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

An Author’s Take, September 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 22

lakesidelivingsite, September 23

She Lives To Read, September 24

Texas Book-aholic, September 24

Inklings and notions, September 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 26

deb’s Book Review, September 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 27

Aryn the Libraryan, September 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 28

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 30

For Him and My Family, September 30

Blossoms and Blessings, October 1

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 2 (Author Interview)

Holly’s Book Corner, October 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 3

Blogging With Carol, October 3

Sylvan Musings, October 4

Christina’s Corner, October 4

Simple Harvest Reads, October 5 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21a63/delicious-devotion-celebration-tour-giveaway


 

A QUILT FOR CHRISTMAS BY MELODY CARLSON 

This is the perfect book to read anytime of the year. It has wonderful characters that you can relate to. I adored Vera and how she helped her neighbor out. Just when she thought she would be spending Christmas alone, God opens a door where new friendships develop. There is a very special relationship between Vera and the sweet little neighbor girl named Fiona. I think she stole the show in this story with her zest for life and how important it was that her mom have a quilt for Christmas. 

We meet a few other characters that round out the story that brings joy to some that have been lonely and sad for a long time. The author illustrates the importance of reaching out to others and listening when they need someone to comfort them. It is a great story about giving and making new memories for Christmas. 

I received a copy of this book from The Librarything Early Reader Program. The review is my own opinion.

Thursday, September 22, 2022


About the Book

Book: His Brother’s Atonement

Author: Amy Walsh

Genre: Contemporary romance – western

Release date: April 26, 2022

Shane Phillips had given up hope of ever meeting the nephew born to the woman his brother assaulted. After checks he sent to Aubrey Anders were returned, Shane decided the most he could ever do was pray for the Anders family. When Shane discovers that he and Aubrey work for the same graphic arts company, he must find a way to assure her he means no harm before both Wyoming branches meet for a conference.

Aubrey thinks she has worked through most of her trauma with the help of her psychologist and loving community. However, meeting Shane Phillips seems to have unleashed suppressed anxiety and insecurity. But as their paths continue to intersect, Aubrey begins to wonder if Shane could be part of God’s plan for her despite their painful connection.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Amy Walsh is a 5th-grade teacher who loves teaching children about what she loves to do herself: reading and writing. She enjoys outdoor activities, especially hiking and camping. Amy also appreciates opportunities to share her faith through singing, teaching, and writing for her church family. Amy and her husband, Patrick, have three children: Bree, Spencer, Liz, and a son-in-law, Kyle. Amy and her family love to spend time together celebrating special occasions, listening to great music, swimming and kayaking, and having occasional ping pong tournaments.

 

More from Amy

Thank you for helping me spread the word about my first Whispers in Wyoming novel! I am thrilled to be part of this gospel and heritage-themed series! If you haven’t read any of the novels yet, you are in for a treat! There are thirty-three novels ahead of His Brother’s Atonement — and they are all STANDALONES, so they can be read in any order!

Meet Aubrey, Shane, and Jayson

Aubrey is a young mother and graphic designer from Engelmann, Wyoming. Her terrible experience during college has caused her to keep to herself. Aubrey has no close friends and has never dated. But her parents are supportive, her son keeps her happy and busy, and she loves her job. Aubrey believes she is doing pretty well emotionally until the brother of the man who assaulted her turns up in town.

Shane suffered quite a bit when his brother was tried and imprisoned for assaulting Aubrey. People  actually turned their backs on his family, and Shane’s fiancĂ© ended their engagement. Even worse was watching how it affected his parents. After Shane’s brother died in a freak prison accident, their mother spent several days in the ICU. For years, Shane has yearned to do something to help Aubrey and her son, wanting to atone for his brother’s terrible action. But Shane gave up hope of ever meeting his nephew years ago.

Jayson is Aubrey’s six-year-old son. He is obsessed with cowboys, horses, and the wild west. Art runs in Jayson’s genes from both sides of his family, so it is not surprising that he loves drawing and helping his grandpa with woodworking. Jayson never seemed to notice that he doesn’t have a dad, but when he finds out that his father died, he is so heartbroken that Aubrey promises to let him meet his uncle. So much for her thinking that she would never have to see Shane again!

The Creation of His Brother’s Atonement

I never really know when or how a story idea will enter my head.  I can drive by a house that catches my eye, and the next thing I know, I am imagining the characters that live there and writing their story in my imagination.  Sometimes watching the interactions of people prompts a story.  Other times my ideas come from research.

For His Brother’s Atonement, there were a bunch of factors that came into creating Aubrey and Shane’s story as far as the setting.  I had just been to a writing conference where one of the speakers said that many readers still love contemporary westerns. Adding to that, I had been following the multi-author group Whispers in Wyoming and other authors who wrote westerns, and I had been enjoying their posts.  Additionally, one of my teacher friends has spent portions of her summers out west and I love to hear her talk about landscapes and small communities.   A camping trip to Yellowstone and other western parks has been high on my bucket list for several years.

As for the situation that Aubrey is in, how she became a single mother and how she now deals with anxiety, her story just came to me while I was brainstorming.  Her and her son’s personalities developed in my mind as if they were real people.  I have wondered what it must be like to have a family member who is a criminal, the conflicting emotions it must bring: to still love that person; to be ashamed for what that person has done; to yearn to find a way to help the victim.  So I am sure those thoughts helped me create Shane’s struggles.

I wrote most of Aubrey and Shane’s story while I was spending nights with my grandmother in hospice.  Grammy was often sleeping while lovely hymn instrumentals were playing, and I felt as though I was in a sacred space.  I think some of my own inner struggles with trusting God’s sovereignty, with remembering that God does work out everything for our good, may have become part of the novel.  And in the last chapter when Aubrey prays during the Thanksgiving dinner, you can see some of my own angst about life changing and my own feelings of grief being resolved.

His Brother’s Atonement is a fundraiser!

As I was researching for this novel, I read too many firsthand accounts of women who had been assaulted and the devastating effects of the violence in their lives. According to rainn.org, every 68 seconds another American is assaulted, and one out of every six American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. According to multiples sources, there are at least 30,000 rape-related pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Sexual violence is a significant problem in the U.S., and in other countries around the globe, it is even more rampant.

As I was delving into Aubrey’s thoughts and pondering how her assault had affected her and her family, I decided that I needed to do more to help women and children who have been victimized. As a first step, ten percent of the profits from the sales of His Brother’s Atonement will be donated to Heaven’s Family. To find out more about this organization, follow this link:  https://www.heavensfamily.org/ministries/victims-of-sexual-violence/

Here is the recipe for Nana Ander’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pie.

https://walshmountainpublishing.com/2022/03/26/nana-anders-chocolate-chip-oatmeal-pie/

 

Shane and Aubrey’s Anti-Meet-Cute

Aubrey and Shane don’t get to have a “meet-cute”, you know that sweet moment when a couple-to-be meet for the first time? In fact, when Aubrey sees Shane across Engelmann Park, she almost has a panic attack thinking that he is the man who assaulted her.

In the next book about Engelmann Wyoming, Portrait of Redemption, Cody will help Shane set up a “meet-cute” redo. I think it is so adorable that Shane wants to do that for Aubrey!

Two special characters mentioned in His Brother’s Atonement are from another of my novels, Elsie Whitmore. Elsie meets famous actor Graham Thurston for the first time when he tracks her down at her school, determined that she will audition for a movie he is producing. A somewhat spoiled star, he is annoyed that she hasn’t taken calls from his talent agency, so he is cold and judgy during their first meeting. In return, she thinks it is ridiculous for Graham to assume that she would consider giving up teaching just because he liked one of her YouTube videos. They also do not have a cute first meeting!

Here is my meet-cute!  I worked part time at a Sears in a mall while I was going to college. My husband, Pat, was a loss prevention agent there.   A coworker  who had a crush on Pat asked me to draw a Christmas card for her to give to him. In the PS, she told Pat that I was the one that illustrated the card. That led to Pat investigating who I was, and soon he was regularly stopping by my register at Sears to make small talk. He would have silly excuses to stop by, like having me help him put a baby outfit on a stuffed animal to purchase for his nephew.  It could have become very awkward if my co-worker hadn’t developed a crush on someone else in the meantime!

During the launch party for His Brother’s Atonement, some of the readers shared the stories of their first meeting with their husbands.  Some were adorable, and some were so awkward.  Have you shared your “meet-cutes” with your children and grandchildren?  Surprisingly it is something we forget to talk about, but it is part of their heritage!

MY REVIEW 

Being introduced to Aubrey was quite an eye opening experience. When you read the story you will see that an event several years ago changed her life forever. Out of that painful and terrifying night a blessing was born. Her son Jayson has been her one constant in her life and I admired her for being the mother she is to her son. It has been hard on her to move on with her life but I think being with her parents has also helped her. There is one theme throughout the book that stands out. Forgiveness can be hard but when it does freedom comes.

 I was impressed with how the author illustrated that forgiving can soften hearts and bring reconciliation. It must have been very hard for Aubrey to see Shane that day in the park. He looked so much like the man who had assaulted  her, that it shook her to her core. As the story begins to take shape we see that Aubrey slowly begins to allow Shane to be in her life. His identity did surprise me but it does help Aubrey overcome her past and begin to trust. 

Shane has a lot to deal with as Aubrey finds out who he is. I like  how the author gives us a glimpse into the family of the man who assaulted Aubrey. We don’t think too much about the other family in a crime, but this story allows us to see that they are hurting as much as the victim and their family. I loved how faith played a big part in the story. 

The story does have times where Aubrey is struggling with trying to get to the point where she can allow Shane to be part of her son’s life. The beauty of this illustration is how a child sees things as pure and is quick to accept people. As adults we tend to hold onto things and blame even innocent people for their family member’s actions.  I loved the beautiful message in the book and how we watch Aubrey trust God allow Him to heal her emotionally. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 24

deb’s Book Review, September 25

Inklings and notions, September 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 29

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 1

A Baker’s Perspective, October 2 (Author Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, October 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For the Love of Literature, October 4 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, October 4

Pause for Tales, October 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 6 (Author Interview)

Holly’s Book Corner, October 6

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Amy is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 gift card along with His Brother’s Atonement, a Rocky Mountains Shirt and a Rocky Mountains wooden bookmark!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21a6a/his-brother-s-atonement-celebration-tour-giveaway


Tuesday, September 20, 2022


About the Book

Book: Tethered

Author: Eleanor Bertin

Genre: Christian Contemporary

Release date: July, 2020

Perfectionistic librarian Jacqui Penn is ripped up by the roots when she’s dumped by her longtime boyfriend. She is drawn two thousand miles west across Canada to the last place she ever thought could offer stability—the old homestead where her father grew up.

Renovating the derelict house soon becomes a personal battle as it stubbornly resists her efforts. While Jacqui struggles to renew the home, she spends time with the family Pops bitterly resented. Her hunger for roots grows stronger as she fights to discover the long-buried reasons her father fled the house as a beleaguered teen. But will she ever find the belonging she craves?



Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Eleanor Bertin loves books, people, and the sweeping skies of the Canadian Prairies where she was raised.

She studied Communications in college and returned to writing after raising and home-educating a family of seven children. The author of LifelinesUnboundTethered, and the memoir, Pall of Silence about her late son, Paul, she lives in central Albert with her husband and youngest son where, much like Jacqui, they are coaxing to life a century home.


More from Eleanor

Long before Jacqui came to be, I had the title Tethered, drawn from the first book in the Ties that Bind series, Lifelines. I was taken by the rope imagery that played so well into biblical themes of God drawing people to Himself. The second book, Unbound, deals with the way cables of guilt and fear can keep us in bondage to legalism.

But ropes have positive uses too. Tethered explores how ties of family and home provide the roots and grounding we all crave. Through each of the books, we see Anna, a widow of deep trust in God. She may seem insignificant, but her influence is powerful. Through her Jacqui, who’s been raised by Anna’s bitter brother, finds the foundation on which her family history is built, and makes it her own.

One of my favourite scenes in Tethered is where Anna teaches Jacqui to bake pie. It’s a piece lifted from my own life. My mother, now 94, was renowned for her pies, which she often gave to the bereaved or struggling. Like Anna, she generously taught her techniques and tips to the women of our family who carry on the tradition.

Here’s where Mom’s tips make all the difference. We don’t freeze whole pies. Instead, we freeze pie crusts already rolled out to size, layered between parchment paper, or better still, the plastic liners from cereal packaging cut to size. (Mom was “green” long before it was fashionable.) Making a batch of skins ahead of time saves space in the freezer compared to fully assembled pies, yields a fresher result when baked, and saves so much time. Whenever you want a pie, pull out a couple of the prepared crusts. While they quickly thaw, prepare your pie filling, assemble, and bake! Even our menfolk have been able to proudly say they baked a pie themselves.

Here is the recipe we use:

Pie Skins

 

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

In mixer, mix dry ingredients together. Then, a half cup at a time, cut in (with wire whips):

1 lb. lard (vegetable shortening will not give the desired flakiness)

Cut into flour mixture until crumbled to the size of peas. Do not overmix!

In a 2-cup measuring cup, beat:

2 eggs until frothy

Add:                2 Tablespoons vinegar

Add enough cold water to the liquid to make 1 cup. Then add to flour/lard mixture.

Using dough hooks, mix gently just until dough forms and will hold together. Again, do not overmix.

Divide dough into six or seven balls.

On each floured piece of cereal box plastic, roll out pastry from the center outward to just over 1/8-inch thickness. Keep flouring the rolling pin to prevent sticking.

Cut the crust to size of pie plate with ½ inch extra all around. Re-roll the scraps into the next ball of dough.

Freeze skins in a plastic pie keeper or even in a zippered plastic bag on a flat surface.

Bake pie on bottom rack of oven, 450F for 15 minutes, then 375F until golden brown (another 10-15 minutes). No pale, anemic pies for us!

MY REVIEW 

I enjoyed this book for several reasons. The storyline is flawless and is mesmerizing. Jacqui is very relatable and as she starts a new life, I could feel she was going to a place where healing, restoration and forgiveness would take place. The first time she sees the homestead that was left to her you could hear her gasp. It is easy to say that the place needed a renovation and some TLC. 

 Being  in this new place she feels lonely but soon discovers she has many relatives nearby. The people are friendly and I loved how the women came to help Jacqui clean up the place. At times it was overwhelming for Jacqui but there is a reason she was drawn here.   Her father has always been against Christianity but will Jacqui find a relationship with Christ? There are subjects in the story such as abuse, alcoholism and atheism  which could be a trigger for some readers. The author handles these topics well and illustrates how these can affect people. 

I loved that Jacqui was a librarian and related to her job very well. The author describes her job perfectly and explained how important it is  to give the customers their full attention and go the extra mile to find the book they are looking for. Working at the library fir fifteen years was  always been my favorite job and with Jacqui’s knowledge I know the small library she works at now will have many improvements.

What is really important about this book is how a woman who was brought up to not believe in God starts to question if her father was wrong all this time? Did he put his beliefs on Jacqui and without thought she just accepted that God didn’t exist? What is the real reason she was drawn to this place she lives at now? Her journey helps her understand her father better and finds peace with her past. The author shows how important family is and how forgiveness heals the broken hearted.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 21

deb’s Book Review, September 22

Inklings and notions, September 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 26

lakesidelivingsite, September 27

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 30

Guild Master, October 1 (Author Interview)

Rebecca Tews, October 1

For Him and My Family, October 2

For the Love of Literature, October 3 (Author Interview)

Holly’s Book Corner, October 3

Pause for Tales, October 4

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Eleanor is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21aad/tethered-celebration-tour-giveaway


 

 

The Vermilion Riddle Kick-Off Package

About the Book

Book: The Vermilion Riddle

Author: Dana Li

Genre: Fantasy

Release date: March 1, 2022

“To enter Faerie’s blessed demesne
four secrets must be found:
the land unbound by time and space
opens only to the one who knows
the Light, the Song, and Mortal Gate.”

In the sheltered town of Carmel, women do not have a future outside of a good marriage. That future is threatened when Leah Edwards’ father gambles away the family’s livelihood and estate. She and her sisters must hurry to find husbands. Then August Fox, a Guardian from Cariath, comes to town and purchases a supposedly haunted manor. Charged to keep the peace between mortals and Faerie, the Guardians are the stuff of legend. After he stuns her with a marriage proposal, Leah reluctantly journeys to Cariath, discovering there is more to August and the legends than she guessed.

Nimrod and his Oath-breakers betrayed the Guardians, seeking to solve an ancient riddle that would unlock the Faerie realm. Not all his followers share his desire for conquest. Benedict Fox, his second-in-command, has different motives. But as he continues fulfilling Nimrod’s plan, Benedict hurtles towards a choice between saving his family and settling a personal vendetta.

For Leah, August, and their allies, it is a race against time to solve the ancient riddle before the Oath-breakers, and reunite the Guardians to save the mortal realm. The war is never really over, and this time, the battle lines cut through blood ties and brotherhood.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Dana Li is a software product manager by day, and a novelist by night. She holds an MS in management science and engineering from Stanford University and a BS in computer science from USC, but she’s always been better at writing stories than code. Her writing misadventures began with a dozen now-deleted Star Wars fanfiction tales. She loves good fantasy/sci-fi, classy cuisines, and roller coasters (but not all at once). Dana currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and The Vermilion Riddle is her first novel.

 

More from Dana

Two of my favorite fiction authors are J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen. Besides both being British, their works are worlds apart, literally – one wrote epic, sprawling stories of the battle between good and evil, while the other wrote of small town families, romance, and culture in the Regency era. If Tolkien’s heroes failed, death and darkness would sweep across the land. If Austen’s heroes failed, a lady would be single at thirty. (The horror!)

As different as they are, I had a desire to blend the best of both genres. I didn’t think it’d be the most marketable book, but then, I also thought no one else would write this. That concept sparked the genesis of The Vermilion Riddle. I wanted an epic fantasy that was also character-driven and intimate. I love how Austen deftly explored familial and romantic relationships in the framework of her society, and I was curious to see how that would unfold in the context of a traditional fantasy. I shamelessly drew influence from the Regency era for parts of my story’s culture, simply because it’s got that quaint, cozy vibe, stored inside a broad, sweeping world.

This is a snippet of what I wrote in my original query letter for The Vermilion Riddle: 

“While the novel evokes elements of classic fantasy—quests, duels, and the battle of good versus evil—it thrives on character exploration. The plot hums to the beat of a cosmic conflict and climax, though the struggles within a family—between fathers and sons, brothers by blood (and not), husband and wife—forms its core melody.”

When it came to the characters and relationships in the story, three questions framed my writing.

What makes a strong, relatable, and feminine heroine?

What happens to brothers who are pitted against each other ideologically?

What does a love story that happens after marriage look like?

I did not know, concretely, the answer to any of these when I began, and Riddle was going to be my way of exploring them. In retrospect, I was in over my head. I’m not sure if I ever found totally satisfactory answers, but as I worked on the novel over the years, I felt the story mature quietly alongside of me. There were nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from life and other people that made their way into the story. There were also surprising insights that emerged from the characters as I was writing.

In the end, I wanted to write characters who, though born into another world, were achingly human. Though they chase ancient secrets and face the fury of the faerie-kind, they aren’t wrapped in an air of mythology that makes them feel far removed from us. They are the sort of people who could be legends – but a legend is usually formed in retrospect. They are like Merry and Pippin, hobbits who felt like useless baggage for much of their journey before they were hailed as heroes.

That’s what I strove for, at least – a story that’s epic yet intimate, that’s far-flung and yet close to home.

MY REVIEW

The author has designed a place where fantasy is there n all its beauty and secrets. The feel of the story was easy to embrace and I did enjoy following our main characters. In the town of Carmel it is strikingly clear that Leah and her sisters need to marry in order to help save their family from ruin. What a lot of pressure that must be to know you are needed to marry quickly. What happens if you have no feelings for the  man you are marrying? It raises the question of what is more important, “Love or money and power?”

With a division between the Guardians and the  Oath-breakers the  story gives readers an insight into justice and doing the right thing. There are at times scenes where I held my breath not knowing if Leah and August could complete their mission without tragedy happening. I loved following them as they began their lives together, but you can sense that danger is drawing near for them. I loved how the author is able to illustrate the tension and how betrayal is well represented in the story. 

It was interesting to read this from one of the characters,”You learn to accept the hand that you’re dealt with in life.” That had me thinking that sometimes we may have trials in our life, but the important thing is  how we react to those trials. Do we give up and  not  try to make things better or do we trust our faith and give it to God? Leah is very clear who she believe in and August at times wishes he had her faith. Watching  them start to trust each other is an example of love. 

As they seek out the Vermillion Riddle, Leah becomes more aware of how strong  and brave August is. He may seem cold at times but his determination to keep Leah safe is admirable. The story takes on a few surprises as The Guardians and Oath -Breakers meet. Will revenge be the outcome? I was shocked as some of the  secrets are revealed and Leah  hears someone say, “The true God can’t be tamed by what men want. He is renewing hearts, and He will renew all things one day.” 

As the ending soon comes to an end we have experienced betrayal, justice, revenge, love and for some  hope of a better life. As both sides went to find out if they would be able to solve the Vermillion Riddle, they learned how important it is to have faith and not turn your back on family. Reconciliation can happen if you allow forgiveness to happen. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 20

Blogging with Carol, September 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 21

Inklings and notions, September 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 23

deb’s Book Review, September 24

Holly’s Book Corner, September 24

Christina’s Corner, September 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 26

Rebecca Tews, September 27

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 29

For Him and My Family, September 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 1

Pause for Tales, October 2

Artistic Nobody, October 3

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of The Vermilion Riddle (e-book for those outside the US)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21816/the-vermilion-riddle-celebration-tour-giveway