I’ve heard so much about Jaime Jo Wright’s novels. She’s made quite a name for herself with readers, so when given the opportunity to read her latest, The Curse of Misty Wayfair, I grabbed it. It sounded intriguing and spooky. It was both.
This is a time-slip novel set in the contemporary moment and in the early 1900s, with a mystery that harkens back to the mid-1800s. There are two understated romances, but the emphasis is on a mystery that bleeds into the now, along with the growth of the contemporary heroine.
Honestly, I’m still struggling to decipher my impression of this book. For me, it started slowly, but once it got rolling, it picked up speed. In general, the writing is superb—on the literary side at times (probably why I felt it was slow in the beginning). The author has a terrific way of sucking the reader into what appears to be a ghost story and tying everything up in the end in a way that (mostly) wasn’t expected.
I must say I didn’t care for Heidi and had a hard time seeing her with Rhett. I kept wanting to say to him, “Ditch that girl. She isn’t for you.”. They were so different. The only commonality was in her need to feel loved, wanted, and protected and his personality trait as a protector. Otherwise, I found her too immature to really appreciate. On a positive note, I did like the way she related to Rhett’s sister.
I also had a hard time keeping the ancestors straight—the grandparents, the cousins, etc., but I liked Thea and Simeon…and their roles in the kept-me-guessing mystery that ended in a twist I didn’t see coming.
So, you see what I mean. I’m struggling. Even so, I can’t not give it 4.5 stars for the quality of the writing, the brilliance of the plot, and the fact that it kept me motivated to find out what was really going on in the story, which is a lot.
What a list of new fiction this month, including A Love Most Worthy, which RELEASED TODAY!
Other than mine ;), which ones will make your TBR stack?
Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)
Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])
Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])
A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
(Yes, this is mine. 🙂 If you’d like to read early reviews, you’ll find some on Goodreads.)
When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)
Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle Griep — The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)
Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)
Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)
Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)
The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)
A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)
You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)
I’m running a little late this morning, but that doesn’t take away from the wonderful January posts. Can you believe the month is almost over? Didn’t we just celebrate Christmas? I hope you find something in these chosen posts that speaks to you.
Have you chosen or do you choose a word or phrase for the new year? Something that shows the improvement you wish to make to your life in the next twelve months? Dee Dee Chumley wrote of the reason for hers in “My Word for 2019: Hope.” I gave you mine last week. What word have you chosen and why?
Do you praise Him when the storm clouds appear? What a great reminder in Nan Trammel Jones’s post, “I Heard Her Song Through the Impending Darkness“, that God is always worthy of praise and, most especially, during the times when we’re afraid or struggling.
This devotion, “A New Heart for a New Year” by Audrey Frank pinches the toes, especially when she talks about the alloyed and unalloyed heart.
I read “To Agent or Not to Agent” on the Southern Writers Suite “T” site without knowing who wrote the article. When I got to the end, I was floored to discover it was by Irene Hannon, a very successful author in Christian publishing. While not doable for everyone, she makes some great points.
How many times have you heard it? “You need a platform or editors will not even consider publishing you!” Well, I found “I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Platform” on the Books and Such blog encouraging and inspiring, even though it doesn’t mean that platform isn’t important. It’s engagement that matters.
AND FOR FUN
The quality of the video isn’t the best, but unfortunately, the content is probably all too accurate. Watch to the end.
Share the most inspiring post you’ve read on the web this month.
I’m on the list to receive Ms. Mehl’s new books, and I generally enjoy them. I’ll admit, though, none have ever made it to my top ten favorites for the year, until…
If I didn’t know you wanted more than one word from this review, I’d simply say, “Wow!”. But that doesn’t tell you much, does it?
This is Book One of the Kaely Quinn Profiler series and centers around an FBI profiler with an odd history and equally odd personality.
Although the publisher calls it romantic suspense, this is not your typical novel in the genre—many of which have become pretty cookie cutter. This book is both intriguing and disturbing as a serial killer forces Kaely to confront a past she’s tried over the years to rise above.
I can’t say the villain was a total surprise, because no one would have been a surprise. Ms. Mehl creates enough in the way of rabbit trails, red herrings, and suspects to keep the reader guessing, never completely certain of the answer.
As for the romance, it is typical of the author—there but subdued. Noah Hunter, a new agent for the St. Louis FBI office is tasked with working the case with Kaely. It’s an assignment that doesn’t make him happy. She’s a lone, odd duck with few friends and supporters among those in the office. I did find the depth of his attraction to her a bit sudden. However, that attraction wasn’t originally there.
In Noah’s wildest dreams it would have never occurred to him that he would be the next agent assigned to her. Most of the other agents snickered behind her back, calling her Jessica Elephant. Not just because they knew her history and her real name but also because once she saw a crime scene she seemed able to recall everything—even down to the smallest detail. Maybe she had some all-consuming desire to rid the world of killers like her father, but that wasn’t Noah’s problem.
While the story was good and the way it was presented reminded me a little of Dee Henderson’s Evie Blackwell Cold Case books, the ending took it to a whole new level. That “Wow!” factor I mentioned. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you don’t get goosebumps…
I highly recommend Mind Games for those looking for something a little different from their romantic suspense! And I’ll be waiting for the next book, Fire Storm, to arrive in August.
What a lovely, lovely cover for Laura Frantz’s new novel A Bound Heart. You know how much I adore covers. 🙂
The first half of the book is set in Scotland in a village controlled by the kindhearted and tolerant, yet troubled, Laird Magnus MacLeish. Though they grew up together—were educated together—and the MacDougalls were once a powerful family, Lark MacDougall lives in a small cottage on his estate and works as herbalist and beekeeper. When tragedy links them, they’re both indentured and shipped away to new lives across the ocean.
This is a story of discovering a love greater than friendship and leaving the past behind for a new beginning.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and can recommend it. However, the biggest issue I had was that the story seemed the epitome of an episodic structure that dragged down the tension, depth, and immediacy. I found myself wanting the author to dig into certain plot points and delete others which felt more like background than actual necessity.
While the main characters are noble and well-rounded, and their experiences interesting, some of the incidences skimmed the surface without going into the emotional depth that they deserved. For instance, one traumatic scene ended with little consequential impact on the character’s emotions going forward.
Another character, whose role loomed important in the first half of the book, practically disappears in the second half and we discover his destiny second-hand. Since he’d been a POV character, I would have liked to have had a front-row seat to this and felt the fear, defiance, regret, or whatever other reactions the character underwent.
For me, A Bound Heart was not as thrilling as The Mistress of Tall Acre or Ms. Frantz’s 2018 Christy Award winner The Lacemaker. However, I will give it 4 stars for the more memorable moments, the use of a deft hand with the Scottish vernacular, and for carrying me to a time and place I could picture in my mind.