Review: The Pelican Bride

Hello, my friends! Before I talk about the book for today, I wanted to briefly explain my absence for the past two weeks. It was completely unexpected, but my computer bit the dust and I was unable to write without my computer. Since then, I have finally purchased my new computer, on which I am currently writing, so let’s get back to business as usual! I missed you all, so it’s good to be back!

The Pelican Bride by Beth White
Gulf Coast Chronicles, Book 1
Revell, 2014

My Thoughts:
This novel is filled with history, political intrigue, and religious persecution. Genevieve Gaillain and her sister arrive in the new world in order to escape from their old lives. But life in the new world isn’t going to be easy.

Tristan Lanier is the first man Genevieve meets upon her arrival, and she is drawn to him despite his straightforward declaration that he is not in need of a wife. Although I loved their relationship, I was a bit disappointed by how it developed. It felt like a spur-of-the-moment “let’s get married” and then they parted ways for a large portion of the rest of the book.

Although I have my reservations about the main characters, there was one character that I was intrigued by whenever the story turned to her. For me, Nika made this book. Her struggle was the one I was interested in learning about. And what secrets she held! When she unexpectedly reunites with her ex-beau, her inner turmoil is palpable. But her choices don’t only affect her now, they affect her family. What will she choose to do?

*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Summary (from the publisher’s website):
She’s come to the New World to escape a perilous past. But has it followed her to these far shores?

It is 1704 when Frenchwoman Geneviève Gaillain and her sister board the frigate Pélican bound for the distant Louisiana colony. Both have promised to marry one of the rough men toiling in this strange new world in order to escape suffering in the old. Geneviève knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of persecution for her outlawed religious beliefs.

When she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer-turned-farmer whose checkered past is shrouded in mystery, Geneviève realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. Trouble is brewing outside the fort between the French colonists and the native people surrounding them. And an even more sinister enemy may lurk within. Could the secret Geneviève harbors mean the undoing of the colony itself?

An Interview with Lori Benton


Today’s post is special, as I am so excited to share my interview with Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. I am honored to be on her influencer team for The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, which releases TODAY. I have had a great time interacting with Lori and getting to know her better through our emails. She is a wonderful woman of God, and I am thrilled to share with you more about the person behind the book. Without further ado, please welcome Lori Benton!

Thank you, Lori, for agreeing to this interview. I am so happy to have you on the blog today!
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I would love to hear a little bit about your personal life. Tell me about your family and what you enjoy doing when you aren’t working on your latest book.

I’m not sure I’m ever not working on my latest book, but I do get away from the computer now and then, and not just to make sure we have food in the house. I’ve been married to my husband, Brian, for 26 years. We enjoy getting out into our Oregon mountains at least once a week, weather permitting. I love the outdoors, and hiking around one of our lakes, or high in the hills, clears my head and revives me for the coming week of writing. But as often as not, I’m working on story issues while I hike.

Do you think your vocation is more a result of God’s prompting in your life, or from your own passion to write, or both?

Writing is what God has gifted me to do. It requires all I have to give, and it brings me joy. For many years I prayed that if writing full time wasn’t His will for me, that He would kindly remove that desire from my heart. Instead He strengthened and fulfilled it.

What inspires you to write?

What keeps me coming back day after day, novel after novel, are the characters living in my head. They have far more compelling stories to tell than the one I’m actually living! Or perhaps their wills are stronger than mine. However this mysterious business of inspiration works, I cannot ignore them and the stories they have to tell. So I sit down each day and try to find the best words to do the telling.

What about the 18th century intrigues you? Why the Frontier?

Back in 2004, when I decided to write my first historical novel, I chose the 18th century more or less on a whim. I’d seen the movie The Patriot (Mel Gibson, 2000) and thought it would be nice for my male characters to wear knee breeches instead of trousers. Looking back, I believe God’s hand was in this choice, for as I began researching the 18th century, almost at once I was drawn away from the populated seaboard settings to the periphery—the mountain and Overmountain frontier—where cultures inevitably collided along the advancing line of settlement, in friendship, trade, and war. What captured my imagination were those individuals who were drawn across those cultural barriers and not only survived the encounter, but thrived, in some cases learning to straddle that line between two worlds—whether they were wearing knee breeches, a breechclout, or petticoats. It’s that “caught between two worlds” aspect and its poignant challenges and tensions that continues to fascinate and inspire me. The 18th century abounds with such stories.

How has being a published author impacted your relationship with Christ? In what ways have you seen God make himself present in your career?

There’s a lot more to pray about! I’ve never struggled with maintaining a devotional prayer life. It’s been a sweet blessing and a highlight of my walk with Christ since I began the practice nearly 20 years ago. Now that my writing is reaching readers, I’m far more aware of the need of constant prayer, of bringing every facet of my writing life to Him, for correction, inspiration, guidance, and blessing. These days I’m far more aware of His hand in every aspect of my writing life, and my life in general. This long road has taught me not to fret the small things, not to fear the big things, but to take all things straight to Him and make my requests known. And He has done exceeding, abundantly, above all that I could have asked or imagined.

How important is it to you to incorporate your faith and Christian themes in you novels? How do you do this effectively, balancing the extremes of being too subtle or too preachy?

It’s very important. We are beings with a body, soul, and spirit. I can’t tell a story about human beings without including a spiritual arc, as I would an emotional arc and a plot full of actions the characters must take to reach their goals. But I don’t force it. I let it emerge as the story develops. I wait until I’m certain I know what it is (this might not happen until halfway through the first draft). Then I go back and strengthen the seeds of that spiritual arc that I unconsciously planted along the way. Because “too subtle” and “too preachy” are subjective reactions for each reader, I doubt there’s a foolproof way to create the perfect balance. I write the spiritual arc that’s true for each character and leave it at that. 

If you could tell readers one thing about The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, what would it be?

I’m excited to share with readers this stirring romance set against an epic period of history often neglected in the classroom: the formation of the State of Franklin on the heels of the Revolutionary War, the turmoil it caused on the North Carolina frontier, and how nearly it came to being our fourteenth state.

Thanks again, Lori, for visiting the blog! Remember, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littljohn releases TODAY, so don’t forget to pick up a copy for yourself! And you can connect with Lori on her website.

To read more about Lori, please check out my reviews of Burning Sky and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn.

This interview was originally conducted for the article I wrote for Family Fiction. To read that article, click here.

Review: Dancing with Fireflies


Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter
A Chapel Springs Romance, Book 2
Thomas Nelson, 2014

My Thoughts:
When Jade is a victim to a traumatic event at the opening of Dancing with Fireflies, it is quite the unexpected start to the novel; at least for this reader. What is even more unexpected is the way the issue is dealt with. Denise Hunter has the ability to take a dark and ugly issue and deal with it in a delicate yet poignant manner.

However, Jade’s emotions towards what happened to her are not what I had expected. It was as if, after the prologue, we skipped forward; she was content with her past and it no longer was a looming issue that plagued her thoughts and emotions. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Jade deal with these emotions, but instead she comes to terms with being pregnant and having a child on the way. How will she provide for her baby? And how will she tell her family that she is pregnant?

Enter Daniel. I loved his character. He was a source of strength and guidance for Jade. He exudes kindness and has a genuine heart. And the way he protected Jade and did whatever he could to help her only endears him to the reader even more.

But will Jade and Daniel have their happy ending? Or will Jade push his love away?

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Summary (from the publisher’s website):
Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

*Thank you to Litfuse, who provided a free e-copy in exchange for my honest review of this book.*

To check out the rest of the blog tour, click here.

DANCING WITH FIREFLIES || RSVP for April 10th Facebook Party and enter to win a Kindle HDX from @DeniseAHunter!

Don’t miss Denise Hunter‘s latest Chapel Springs Romance, Dancing with Fireflies. Reviewers have already labeled Dancing with Fireflies “swoon-worthy” and “the perfect love story.” Join Denise in celebrating the release of her new book by entering her Kindle HDX giveaway and RSVPing for her April 10th Facebook party.

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One winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dancing with Fireflies and Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 10th. Winner will be announced at the Dancing with Fireflies Facebook Party on April 10th. Connect with Denise for an evening of prizes, book chat, and an exclusive look at the next book in the series.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!

Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert
WaterBrook, 2014

My Thoughts:
Katie Ganshert has written an insightful novel that explores the place where pain and hope mix to create something beautiful.

Every day of her life, Ivy plays the part that she is expected to play. She works hard to make people believe her façade. But inside, she feels empty and alone. A Broken Kind of Beautiful takes a real and honest look at the struggle Ivy faces in the modeling industry.

Other people don’t care about Ivy; they only care about what she can do for them. Not only does she feel alone, she also has deeply-rooted emotions of bitterness and anger. And underneath her anger is fear, pain, and sadness.

As Ivy is thrust into the small town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, she faces these emotions despite her opposition to acknowledging that anything or anyone in that town matters.

As Ivy goes on her emotional journey, will she learn that she is redeemed? Will she accept that she is loved and forgiven? Or will she continue to run from the good that is fighting to break through her walls?

Reminiscent of Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, A Broken Kind of Beautiful is a meaningful story that will speak to your heart.

Rating: 4 stars

Summary (from the back cover):
Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.*

Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn


The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton
Waterbrook, 2014

My Thoughts:
Two words: NEW FAVORITE!!

I absolutely loved this book. Lori has a lyrical writing style that sweeps you into another time and place in history. Her characters are layered and complex. Her themes are woven throughout the book and tell a powerful message. And the plot and setting are riveting. The story is constantly moving forward, which made me eager to turn the pages.

Raised to be a proper lady, Tamsen Littlejohn is the example of gentility. However, her stepfather forces her to obey his wishes for her future. In an act of courage, she escapes from her cruel stepfather when an opportunity to flee presents itself.

That opportunity comes in the form of Jesse Bird, a white man who was raised by the Shawnee. Jesse Bird is a man of integrity. He keeps his word and protects Tamsen from the life she is running from. As Tamsen Littlejohn and Jesse Bird run from their pursuers, they are faced with challenges that they could not have anticipated.

Lori threads her stories with so many tidbits that can easily be lost along the way. However, she has the uncanny ability to bring her story full circle, tying up all the loose ends, and leaving her readers satisfied with a story well told.

Lori’s writing reminds me of Laura Frantz, which is awesome, as I love both these authors! So, if you are a lover of frontier fiction, or have read Laura Frantz before, or just want to meet a new author that is fabulous, pick up this novel! I promise you won’t regret it!

I am on Lori Benton’s influencer team and received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Summary (from the publisher’s website):
Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love
 
In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

Author Lori Benton: Cultures Collide on the Frontier

Hello friends! Today I’d like to share the new article that I had the opportunity to write for Family Fiction. In the April 2014 edition of their digital magazine, you will find the article I wrote on Author Lori Benton, titled Cultures Collide on the Frontier. Please check it out!

I love Lori’s new book, and having the chance to write an article about her was such a fun experience. And, I’m on her influencer list, so I had to spread the word!

So check out my article in Family Fiction (p. 34-35), and don’t forget: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn will be in stores on April 15th! Highly recommended!