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Monday, January 26, 2015

SHAKE DOWN by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Marji Laine reviews. 
I had a delightful time reading Shake Down by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. A new author for me, but I saw her interview on Suspense Sisters, so I couldn't resist trying out this Love Inspired Suspense.

Here is the set-up:
Real estate agent Janice Swenson travels to Martha's Vineyard to prepare the house of a notorious, late gangster for sale on behalf of the heir. At least that's her story. Her secrets don't entirely protect her, though. Vandalism and what seems like random attacks continue to plague her. And the nearby neighbor who keeps hanging around provides protection, but often shows up at strange moments.

That neighbor, Shane Gillum, has secrets of his own, as well as ulterior motives for moving into a rental near the gangster's home. The arrival of the Realtor stifles his desperate search. But someone is intent to end all activity at the house and rid Martha's Vineyard of both Janice and Shane.

Janice is sure that her secrets are causing the problems, and she regrets putting Shane at risk. At the same time, Shane worries about Janice in her treacherous position at the house. Yet neither can trust the other enough to share the truths...and keeping silent about the mysterious place knots them both in the cottage's deadly secrets.

Great things go on in this book! Both characters have strong back-stories that seep out a little at a time. Both also, despite the chemistry that is immediately apparent between them, have good reasons to avoid anything resembling romance. (Yeah, right.) The author challenges readers with the twists and quick turns in this story, and the characters practically jump from the page. Especially a huge shaggy dog named Atlas. What a hoot he is!

I loved this book and look forward to enjoining more from Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Her story is perfect for a day of rest and indulgence. Grab that favorite warm drink and a truffle and enjoy!

More about the reviewer:
Marji Laine is an aspiring novelist, but has a number of collaborative novellas to her credit. In fact, the latest one, Love Boat Bachelor, is currently appearing at Write Integrity Press and will be available for free at Amazon on February 14th. In addition to writing, she's spent the last month photographing various events for friends and family and is looking forward to gaining a daughter-in-love very soon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

THE BRACELET by Dorothy Love

Iola Goulton reviews.
Savannah, Georgia – 1858
Celia Browning dreams of the day when her childhood sweetheart Sutton Mackay comes home to Savannah after two years in Jamaica managing his family's shipping interests. Sutton has all but proposed, and their marriage will unite two of the city's most prominent families. But just as Sutton returns, a newspaper reporter arrives in town, determined to pry into twin tragedies that took place at the Browning mansion on Madison Square when Celia was a child.
While the journalist pursues his story, someone is trying to frighten Celia. When she receives a series of anonymous notes, and a bracelet imbued with a chilling message, Celia realizes that her family’s past has the power to destroy her future.
As the clouds of war gather over Savannah, and her beloved father’s health worsens, Celia determines to uncover the truth about what really happened all those years ago.
Inspired by actual events in one of Savannah’s most prominent 19th-century families, The Bracelet is the story of a young southern woman whose dreams fracture under the weight of her family’s tragic past.

You’re probably wondering why I’m reviewing what looks like a historical romance on a suspense blog. I wasn’t expecting to—I’d planned simply to review this on my own blog, where I review a lot of Christian historical fiction. But when I was about a third of the way through the book there was an ‘oh my!’ moment that turned The Bracelet from a run-of-the-mill historical novel into something more.

Even before that moment there had been an undercurrent of suspense, with an anonymous note, visits from the journalist, and a secondary character who doesn't quite behave the way she ought (and this is the South in the late 1850’s. Everything was about keeping up appearances, behaving as you ought, and hoping your reputation wasn't destroyed by circumstances beyond your control).

There’s also the undercurrent of the forthcoming election, the appearance of that man Lincoln from Illinois as a candidate, the ongoing discussions about slavery and the possibility of war which add to the suspense, because we all know that’s not going to end well for the city of Savannah.

The Bracelet is a combination of mystery and suspense. Is there any truth to the journalist’s stories? Who is sending the anonymous notes? Where did the bracelet come from? Is the threat real? Celia seeks to find the truth to these questions at the same time as she is planning a her wedding to childhood sweetheart.

The writing is excellent, and while the plot is fiction, the house in which Celia and her cousin live is real. I saw one of the twists coming, but that left at least three more that came out of nowhere, but as with all good mysteries, they were twists which were painfully obvious in hindsight, and tied up all the loose ends.

This is the first book I've read by Dorothy Love, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Excellent reading.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free e-book for review. 

About Iola Goulton:
I am a married mother-of-two, living in the sunny Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. I play the tenor horn in the local Brass Band, do scrapbooking and cardmaking as hobbies.

I blog at www.christianreads.blogspot.com and http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.co.nz/, and I work as a self-employed fiction editor (www.christianediting.co.nz) and HR consultant (www.bayreward.co.nz). You can also find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ChristianReads) Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

Monday, January 12, 2015

GATHERING SHADOWS by Nancy Mehl

Brittany McEuen reviews.
Wynter Evans is a successful, upcoming young reporter. While doing research for a story that she will be taking the lead on, she comes across a picture of a boy who bears an amazing resemblance to her brother who went missing ten years earlier. Determined to quietly discover who this young man is, Wynter heads to the town of Sanctuary.

In Sanctuary, Wynter quickly determines that all is not as it seems. She finds a quaint town full of people who range from friendly and helpful to those who obviously want her to leave. Are their secretive ways linked to their conservative, Mennonite beliefs or to something more sinister? Is the young man from the photograph Wynter’s long lost brother, or has Wynter stumbled onto other secrets best left uncovered?

Gathering Shadows is built on such an interesting premise. The possibility that an abducted child could have been hidden away in an Old Order Mennonite family for ten years caught my attention and I knew that this was a book I wanted to read.

The story started out at a slow and steady pace as Wynter began making contacts and gathering information. I liked how we learned a little bit here and there from Wynter, and eventually from her father, about the details of Ryan’s abduction and of other interesting information from their family life. Every piece of knowledge the author allowed the reader to discover helped me to slowly place the pieces of this puzzle together.

There is light romance in the novel between Wynter and the honorary mayor of Sanctuary, Reuben King. However, their romance, although sweet, blossomed rather quickly and was not the driving force in the story for me. As I passed the halfway point in the book, the action and suspense in the story began to pick up and the romance began to feel like a good fit to me. I believe that the times of danger and trial could help two people, such as Wynter and Reuben, realize their feelings for each other very quickly.

I really enjoyed this story from start to finish and have to admit that for the last quarter of the book, I could not set it down! The author did a great job of creating a suspenseful story that kept me guessing over portions of the mystery until the very end. I was able to piece together part of what might have happened to Wynter’s brother, but only in the last couple of chapters were all of my questions

answered, and they were answered in a very fulfilling way. I definitely look forward to reading more books in the Finding Sanctuary series.

How about you? Have you read Nancy Mehl's Gathering Shadows or any another suspense story set in an Amish or Mennonite community?

About the Reviewer:
I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer. I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Giveaway: MIRANDA WARNING by Heather Day Gilbert


Miranda Warning is the second indie-pubbed novel by Heather Day Gilbert. Set in the mystic of the Appalachian Mountains, this beautiful novel will be a certain hit.

From the back cover:
Child of the Appalachian Mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her. 
But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda's mailbox - a note written in a dead woman's handwriting - Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to umas the killer...or the next victim might be Tess herself. 
Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains' lush protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A MURDER IN THE MOUNTAINS SERIES. 
Doesn't this sound like an interesting book? I have to tell you, the cool cover at pictured above is the one you'll be getting. It's an older version of the book. The newer cover, just in cool, is what you will get if you purchase this book.

Leave a comment below before Monday, January 12, with your email address to gain an entry in this give away. Only available for addresses within the contiguous United States.