I just have to share this awesome news with my Blogger buddies!!  I just now ...FINALLY... got to request The Husband Tree on PBS!  YES!  I made it to # 1.  *doing the happy dance*


My Review: Beguiled (ARC) by Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand

by Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand
(ARC - Unedited Galley Proof)

Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romantic Suspense

Publisher:  Bethany House
Copyright 2009
(Actual release date: February 2010)
Pages:  220
ISBN:  9780764206283

From the back cover:

When novelists Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand first met in a Houston critique group, they never expected where friendship would take them. She wrote romance; he wrote crime novels. But growing respect for each other's work culminated in the decision to try blending their talents into this wonderfully engaging story merging romance and mystery.

Rylee Monroe walks dogs in old-money Charleston, a part of the city recently targeted by a daring thief. Logan Woods works the crime beat for the local paper but dreams of a life as a nonfiction writer. When the string of robberies takes a strange twist, Logan sees the making of a once-in-a-lifetime book that seems to circle around this charming, eye-catching dogwalker. But pursuing the truth means ignoring that he seems to be falling for her. And what is she hiding in her past that could crack the story wide open?

My Thoughts:

First of all, you need to know that this is not your typical Deeanne Gist novel.  It's not  Historical; it does not have her trademark "edgy" romance vibe; nor is it really a Romance.  I would have to classify it as Mystery/Suspense with a light romantic vein.  To me, it felt like this story showed more of J. Mark Bertrand's writing style, since he "comes from a hard-boiled crime thriller background" (as stated on the back cover), than Deeanne's.  I kept waiting for her "edgy" romance to shine through, but was really disappointed.  A few romantic parts I thought had the potential to turn "edgy", but they stayed low-key.  Taking all of this into consideration, it was a pretty good read...if you enjoy a good mystery, which I do on occasion.  You will most likely be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out who the bad guy(s) is/are.  I stuck with my gut feeling, and turned out to be partially right!  I guess that was thanks to my fascination with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys when I was growing up, before I became enamored with romance novels.  :)

Since the excerpt from the back cover pretty much covers the gist of the story, there's not much more I can add, without giving away any vital parts.  Although I do want to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of Rylee's "clients"...they were a great addition to the story.  Romeo and Toro were my favorites.

To find out more about Deeanne Gist and her books, please visit:
* Her website
* Her blog

To find out more about J. Mark Bertrand, please visit:
* His website

** I would like to thank Jim @ Bethany House, and Cindy @ Princess Bookie for providing me with this ARC/Unedited Galley Proof.  I won this book on Cindy's blog. **


My Review: Jenna's Cowboy (The Callahans of Texas, Bk 1) by Sharon Gillenwater

(The Callahans of Texas, Bk 1)
by Sharon Gillenwater

Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance

Publisher:  Revell
Copyright 2010
Pages:  330
ISBN:  9780800733537

Back cover synopsis:

Jenna Callahan Colby thought she was content.  A partner on her father's successful ranch, and she is surrounded by family and friends.  But she never expected to see Nate Langley back in town -- the first guy she ever noticed, the one her father sent away all those years ago.

And she never thought the attraction they felt would be as strong as ever.

Jenna's cowboy has some healing of his own to do, though, after two tours of duty in the armed forces.  With the help of good friends, strong faith, and a loving family, he hopes to put the horrors of the past behind him -- and become the man Jenna deserves.

My Thoughts:

I was so excited when I saw that Sharon Gillenwater was going to be releasing Jenna's Cowboy, the start of a new series!  I remember reading her Palisades romances back when I was just discovering Christian Fiction romance; they were wonderful books.  I must say that she has far exceeded my expectations with her newest release.  I was hooked from page one, and couldn't read fast enough to see what was gonna happen next.  She successfully brings her character to life, so much so, that I could easily picture everything as it was happening.  I told my husband, as I was reading the last few pages, that this book would make a wonderful movie.

Jenna Callahan Colby and her 2-year-old son, Zach, have recently moved back to her family's ranch in Callahan Crossing, Texas after her divorce from NFL footballer, Jimmy Don Colby.  She has deep, painful scars left over from her failed marriage, and stays hidden away on the ranch for six months before she allows her best friend, Lindsey Moore, to finally talk her into volunteering at The Mission in town.  Once she decides it's time to start living her life again, she meets with Pastor Brad, who helps her to begin healing both spiritually and mentally.

Zach Colby is one of my favorite characters...he is just the sweetest little boy.  He reminded me so much of my 2 nephews.  You never know what he's gonna say, or do, next. Zach has the whole Callahan ranch wrapped around his little finger, even down to the ranch hands!  He loves horses, cars, trucks, and Elmo.  He and Nate become fast friends, and their relationship is wonderful to watch.

Nate Langley is finally home for good, after two tours of duty.  He has spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and was wounded during a rescue mission a few months before returning to the states.  Nate's life is quickly changing once he gets home, and not for the better.  He is starting to lose his mind!  He doesn't understand exactly what's wrong with him, but is afraid to mention his terrifying nightmares, memory lapses, and hair-trigger temper.  All of these things, combined with his daily flashbacks, are causing him many sleepless nights; which in turn, is affecting his everyday life.  Nate is afraid what people will think of him once they find out about his problems.

After a really close call with his best friends (Chance and Will Callahan), Jenna's parents, Dub and Sue, decide it's time for an intervention.  The whole Callahan family sits down with Nate and eventually convinces him that he needs professional help, if he wants to lead a normal life again.  As it turns out, Dub had similar problems when he returned from Vietnam, so he is very understanding of Nate's situation.

I didn't know anything about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but Sharon does a great job of helping her readers understand what Nate, as well as his family and friends, is going through.  This is a very touching story, and I'm excited to find out what happens next.  I'm assuming the next book will be about Chance, since he recently met someone who could possibly steal his heart very quickly.  This book will definitely be going on my "keeper" shelf!

Oh...let me mention (again!) that I absolutely love this cover, and have a feeling it's gonna be my favorite for 2010!  *sigh*

To find out more about Sharon Gillenwater, or her books, please visit her at:

“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

* I would like to say "thank you" to Donna @ Baker Publishing Group for sending me this copy for review! *


~ January Giveaway ~

WOW!  January has almost gotten away from me!  I'm trying my best to have at least one contest per month ~ let's see if I can keep up.  :)

There are SO many good books being released this year, so I thought I would giveaway one of those.  This cover has the be my absolute favorite of all-time!  Those eyes are just too hard to resist!  Well...have you figured out which book it is?  No?  Okay...here it is:

Hopefully, all of you haven't already read this one.
(Also, this is a slightly used copy that I got on PBS, but it's in wonderful condition!)

Jenna's Cowboy
(The Callahan's of Texas, Bk 1)
by Sharon Gillenwater

Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance

Revell Publishing
Copyright 2010
Pages:  330
ISBN:  9780800733537

Synopsis (Amazon.com):

Jenna Callahan has a young son and rewarding work on her father's ranch. She's content. But she never expected to see Nate Langley back in town--the first guy she noticed, the one her father sent away all those years ago. And she never thought the attraction they felt would be as strong as ever. Jenna's cowboy has some healing of his own to do, though, after two tours of duty in the armed forces. With the help of good friends, strong faith, and a loving family, he hopes to put the horrors of the past behind him--and become the man Jenna deserves. With an emphasis on simple acts of love, Jenna's Cowboy gives romance readers what they want most: a love story with a Texas touch.

Jenna held her breath as he climbed out of the pickup and slowly walked around the front of it. Wow . . . He wasn't the six foot tall, rangy cowboy she used to know. This man was all muscle. His snug, blue, short-sleeved T-shirt emphasized his physique. She had to force herself not to stare at his broad shoulders and thick, solid arms. He moved fine, so he must not have suffered any permanent injury to his leg. A pink scar on the back of his forearm stood out against his dark tan, but it didn't seem to bother him. He crossed his arms and leaned against the truck fender with a smile, his silver-gray eyes twinkling. Jenna's heart skipped a beat. How could his eyes have gotten even more beautiful? He scanned the jack waiting near the right rear of the pickup, the tire-iron still hanging on a lug-nut, and the spare tire lying on the ground. As he brushed a strand of light sandy brown hair off his forehead, his gaze flickered to the ice cream before meeting hers. "Refueling?" She laughed and stood, walking over to meet him. "I couldn't get the tire off, and the ice cream was melting. Didn't see any sense in wasting it." Setting the carton in the truck bed, she swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. "Welcome home." Something flashed in his eyes, then he lowered his arms and straightened, taking a step closer. "Don't I get a hug?" Was his voice a little thicker? Jenna hesitated for a second, then chided herself. This was Nate, her friend. And he was home safe and sound. Quick tears stung her eyes. Thank you, Lord. "You bet."

Here are the rules:

* You must leave a valid email address in your comment, so I can contact you if you're the winner.

(Example: sugarandgrits{at}hotmail{dot}com)
This way spammers will be less likely to grab it.

* You must have a valid U.S. mailing address.

* At this time, the giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

* The giveaway will be from Jan. 22nd thru Jan. 31st at 11:59 p.m. (EST)
(Any/all entries entered after this time will not be eligible.)

* I will announce the winner here Feb. 1st ~ you will also be contacted via email.  You will then have 48 hours in which to respond with your snail mail address, or another winner will be chosen.

Please include all of your entries in ONE comment...this will make it a lot easier for me to keep up with them!!  Thanks! =)

+1 = Just for leaving a comment!

+1 = By becoming a new follower thru
Google Friend Connect, on the right sidebar

+2 = Let me know that you're already a follower

+5 = Post about my giveaway on your blog, or in your sidebar
(don't forget to link it back to this post)

Thank you so much for dropping by and participating!

GOOD LUCK to everyone!!


My Review: One Perfect Gift (A Culdee Creek Christmas) by Kathleen Morgan

(A Culdee Creek Christmas)
by Kathleen Morgan

Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance

Revell Publishing
Copyright 2008
Pages: 152
ISBN:  9780800718831

Jessica Ashmore has brought her young daughter to the Colorado high plains in the winter of 1933. A penniless widow, Jessica is hoping for employment as an office nurse. Though the job she wants is no longer available, she is grateful to at least be offered a temporary position taking care of stroke victim Abby MacKay at Culdee Creek Ranch. Abby's son Sean, an embittered WWI veteran, who many view as a coward and deserter, is none-too-pleased with the arrangement--and he doesn't hide it very well. But Christmas is a time of love and forgiveness, and their antagonism starts to give way to far deeper feelings. Can Sean and Jessica ever hope for a life together? Will they be able to find that one perfect gift?

My Thoughts:

If you're familiar with Kathleen Morgan's Brides of Culdee Creek series, this is a continuation of the MacKay's story, though it can also be read as a stand-alone.  Personally, I fell in love with the entire MacKay clan when I read the series a few years back, so I was excited to find One Perfect Gift in my stocking this past Christmas!

We get to catch up with most of the MacKay's during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but we also meet Jessica (Jessie) Ashmore and her six-year-old daughter, Emma.  When we first meet Jessie and Emma, they're on their way to Colorado Springs, Colorado in pursuit of a new job Jessie has obtained working as a nurse for Dr. Elizabeth Starr.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, things don't work out quite as Jessie had envisioned.  This unexpected turn of events is what makes this story so heart-warmingly touching.

Sean MacKay has become the ranch foreman at Culdee Creek.  He also helps his parents, Conor and Abby, out as much a he can.  Sean's past has taken over his life, so much so, that he has pretty much isolated himself to the ranch.  He avoids any unnecessary trips to town, in order to avoid unwanted speculation of his past.  Sean is still very heart-broken and bitter about events that took place while he was stationed in France during his stint in the American Expeditionary Force; they were so extensive that his marriage suffered greatly.  He has also turned his back on God, which causes his parents to pray that much harder for him to come to the realization that even though he can't seem to forgive himself, Jesus is right there waiting.

Jessie and Sean rub one another the wrong way as soon as they lay eyes on each other, but this makes for an interesting story.  Neither of them are afraid to stand up for themselves and confront the conflict head-on.  If you enjoy a little tension in your romances, then you're gonna enjoy this one immensely!  It moves pretty quickly, it's only 152 pages, but there's a great story packed in those few pages.

To find out more about Kathleen Morgan, or her books, be sure to visit her at:
Her website

*This book was a Christmas gift*


Waiting on Wednesday

(Virgin River series, Bk 10)
by Robyn Carr

General Fiction / Contemporary / Romance

Release date:  March 1, 2010

Publisher:  Mira
Copyright 2010
Pages:  416
ISBN:  9780778327684

With her beloved younger siblings settled and happy, Erin Foley has got empty nest syndrome. At age thirty-five.

So she's hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded, she's not into roughing it) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is looking forward to really getting to know herself...not some shaggy-haired mountain man she meets wandering the woods.

In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the Navy. He's intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race -- meditating, journaling and definitely keeping him at arm's length. He'd love to get closer...if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don't hold him back.

But maybe it's something in the water -- unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River...helped along with some well-intentioned meddling, of course.

 I have this entire series sitting in my TBR stacks (except for this one), just waiting to be read. I love, love, love reading an entire series back-to-back, so I can't wait to get this book, so I can start reading!! :)


My Review: The Lightkeeper's Daughter (A Mercy Falls Novel) by Colleen Coble

The Lightkeeper's Daughter
(A Mercy Falls Novel)
by Colleen Coble

Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance

Thomas Nelson
Copyright 2009
Pages: 311
ISBN: 9781595542670

(from Christianbook.com):
At a lavish estate in Mercy Falls, California, Addie Sullivan finds danger-and quite possibly the love of her life.
Growing up as the lightkeeper’s daughter on a remote island at the turn of the century, Addie Sullivan has lived a hardscrabble life. When a long-lost and wealthy relative finds her and enlists her to work as a governess at a lavish estate, she hopes to discover the truth of her heritage. But at Eaton Hall, nothing is as it seems. Not the idyllic family she hoped for, not the child she was hired to help, not even the aloof man she’s immediately attracted to. Soon she must turn for help to Lieutenant John North, a man who views her with suspicion.
As Addie edges closer to the truth, danger threatens even as her romance with John blossoms and together they unravel a decades-old mystery. As Addie faces down her enemy, she discovers that faith in her one true Father is all she needs.

My Thoughts:

In my opinion, this book is actually a Romantic Suspense, as well as a Historical Romance. And, I absolutely loved it! The Lightkeeper's Daughter will keep you guessing until the very end! There really were no slow parts in this book, and I could have read it in one sitting if everyday life didn't interfere. If you've never read any of Colleen's books, this is a great place to start. I also recommend that you read her Rock Harbour series.

There isn't much I can say about this story without giving away the important parts, but I'll try. We meet Addie Sullivan just as her life is turned upside down by the shocking news that she is not at all who she thought she was. She is actually Julia Eaton, daughter to Henry and Laura Eaton, and was lost at sea in a shipwreck at two years of age.

Addie agrees to go to her biological father's home under the guise of being a governess for his grandson, Edward. She enjoys getting to know her "real" family, but isn't comfortable hiding her true identify from them. After a couple of life-threatening experiences, she feels the need to confide in someone, and spills the entire story to her boss, Edward's father, Lieutenant John North. John was married to Addie's half sister, Katherine, and is still very much a part of the family. He feels responsible for Clare, Katherine's mother, plus he wants Edward to have a relationship with his grandfather.

As tender love starts to bloom between John and Addie, they face much interference from Addie's father, who is determined that his daughter, Julia, will marry into royalty and cement his monetary reign over the city he has created.

Addie is still curious about her mother, but no one seems willing to discuss her mother's death with her. While living in her father's house, Addie starts searching for information concerning her mother's life, before the shipwreck. She finds some disturbing clues that lead her on a perilous search for the truth. This was my favorite part of the story...trying to piece together the last days leading up to her mother's death. I enjoy a fast-paced mystery from time to time, and this one was executed perfectly!

To find out more about Colleen Coble, or her books, please visit her at:
* Her website
* Her blog

*I would like to say a big "thank you" to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a review copy of The Lightkeeper's Daughter.*



My Favorite Cover

Hold Up the Sky
by Patricia Sprinkle

Cozy Mystery / Suspense

NAL Trade
Copyright 2010
Pages: 432
ISBN: 9780451229144

(from Amazon.com):

From a veteran writer new to the Accent list, a novel about four women who find strength and insight in each other.

Mamie is facing an overwhelming secret. Margaret has lost her home. Billie can no longer care alone for her disabled daughter. And Maria is living with an untenable choice. When these four women come together to live on a drought-stricken Georgia farm, they must open their hearts, and share their burdens, before they can find the bounty that lies hidden in tough times, and once again see the glorious pattern of meaning in their lives.

This isn't something I would normally choose, but I love the cover! It makes me think of warmer days...that can't get here soon enough! LOL Plus, I noticed that it takes place in Georgia; my hometown. :)


My Review: Essie in Progress by Marjorie Presten

Essie in Progress
by Marjorie Presten

Womens Fiction / General / Christian

Kregel Publications
Copyright 2009
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780825435652

(from Amazon.com):

From the Back Cover

Today, Essie felt confident, in charge, in control. But all that could change so easily . . .

In a matter of seconds, two small children replaced Essie's short-lived illusion of confidence with the reality of chaos. When did happily-ever-after begin? Where was her fairy-tale rescue? There must be more to life, to motherhood, than this. All the trials, the temper tantrums, the disasters must lead to a glorious ending eventually. There simply must be more significance to the routine, the mundane, the hassles of raising children.

She ached to find it.

Can Essie continue to juggle her job, her motherly duties, her impulsive husband, and a forlorn father-in-law who has taken up residence in a dilapidated sailboat?

For every well-meaning, time-starved wife and mother, Essie in Progress is a clever foray into a life so harried and yet so familiar. Writing with a unique style and genuine Southern sensibility, author Marjorie Presten offers a stirring message about discovering and embracing life as it's meant to be lived--the life God wants for you.

My Thoughts:

Essie in Progress was another venture outside my normal realm of reading. It's definitely something I wouldn't normally choose to read, and I have mixed feelings about it. Let me try to explain. I feel that Essie in Progress mostly targets moms, soon-to-be moms, stay-at-home moms, etc., and since I'm none of those, I didn't really identify with Essie. However, on the other hand, this book has a lot to offer for those of us that aren't moms. There are important "life" lessons to be learned by all. For example, whether you're a wife, someone's best friend, a sister, or "just" a woman; there is something here for you, too.

While seeing the world thru Essie's eyes, and living her daily life with her, you will experience many different aspects of life: being a wife, a daughter, a mother, a friend, a part of the community, an employee trying to decide where you want to go with your job, etc. This book covers so many different areas of life, that I could go on and on, but I'll let you experience them for yourself.

There are a few characters that I feel are worth mentioning...first of which is Ham. Ham was my favorite character of all. I never knew what he would be doing next, or what words would be coming out of his mouth...he's great! I also enjoyed Essie's kids, Cole and Juliet. Even though they could be really annoying at times, you just can't help loving them and their childish antics. The one person who annoyed me the most was Pearl, Essie's mom. She got under my skin more than once!

If you want to find out more about Marjorie Presten, and her book, please be sure to visit her at: FaithfulReader.com

*I would like to say "thank you" to Marjorie for providing a copy of her book for me to review! Her generosity in no way affected my personal review.*

FIRSTWildCard Tour: Becoming Lucy (Winds Across the Prairie, Bk 1) by Martha Rogers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Becoming Lucy

Realms (January 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to LeAnn Hamby | Publicity Coordinator | Strang Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor. She served as a newsletter editor for the writer’s organization, Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state president. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel, Not on the Menu (May 2007), is a part of Sugar and Grits, a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. Rogers has a Master’s Degree in Education, worked for twenty-eight years as a secondary teacher, and has worked as a supervisory teacher at University of Houston Clear Lake and as an instructor of English Composition at Houston Community College. Martha and her husband live in Houston, Texas and have worked with teenagers at First Baptist Church for twenty-four years.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 297 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979912X
ISBN-13: 978-1599799124


Oklahoma Territory 1896

Jake Starnes hunkered down in his jacket. He smelled
frost in the air, but the cold in his bones came from fear, not
the temperature. A gust of wind threatened to take his hat. He shoved it down tighter to secure it.

He peered ahead at the barren landscape and the outline of the town of Barton Creek. Naked trees stretched forth to the skies against a backdrop of prairie grass that spread as far as the eye could see toward distant mountains. It bore no resemblance to the beautiful hills of Texas where he grew up. He missed them, but he'd probably never get the chance to see them again. He sighed in resignation to the life that lay ahead. A life he hadn't chosen. It had chosen him the day he chose to wear a gun.

Mrs. Haynes sat beside him and nudged his arm. "How much longer will we be? Dear little Lucinda. I pray she doesn't have to wait too long for us. I thought Ben would be done with the stock, but since he wasn't, I'm thankful you were available."

"Happy to oblige, ma'am. Won't be long now." Mrs. Haynes had talked about her sister's "poor orphan child" for the past two months. He could sympathize with the child because he lost both his parents just after he turned fifteen. She must be grieving terribly.

The pressure of Mrs. Haynes's hand on his arm brought him to the present. "Jake Starnes, you're not paying one bit of attention to me. If your mind is on the work you left at the ranch, don't worry about it. Ben and the others can take care of your chores."

"I know they will." Gray clouds covered the late October sky. "It's getting darker. Hope we get back home 'fore night sets in. That wind's coming straight down across the prairie with nothing to stop it."

"Dear me, I do pray Lucinda is dressed warmly." Mrs. Haynes pulled her shawl more tightly about her shoulders.

"You said she's coming from Boston, so she knows about cold weather." He peered at the horizon. The few buildings of Barton Creek drew closer. Another ten minutes and they'd be in town.

Jake's stomach began churning like those blue-black clouds rolling across the sky. Were it not for the little girl waiting for them, he'd have turned back home now. If the sheriff in Barton Creek recognized him or had questions about him being a stranger in these parts, he'd be in a heap of trouble.

He'd avoided going into the settlement ever since he came to Oklahoma six months ago. His wanderings ended at the Haynes's spread, where he'd stopped to ask for work. His first intention to stay only a month or so then move on changed when the Haynes showed him a kindness and love he sorely missed. They had become the family he had lost years ago.

Now the thought of entering the town caused fear to rise like bile. What would happen if the lawman in town recognized him and Ben Haynes learned about Jake's past, a past he wanted to forget?

Lucinda stared down at the dusty ground beneath the worn wooden bench of the Wells Fargo depot and twisted her black-gloved hands in her lap. She searched the area for a familiar face. Where were Aunt Amelia and Uncle Ben? Her escort had fallen ill in the last town, but Lucinda had been determined to come on alone despite protests, and now she sat here with no one to meet her. Doubt clouded her mind over the decisions of the past month.

With no one else to call family, she'd had no choice but to come west. Aunt Mellie and Uncle Ben could never replace Mama and Papa, but being a part of the Haynes family would help take away the loneliness haunting her days.

She swiped at something as it brushed her cheek. An insect of some kind flew away, and she shuddered. What other strange things would she see this day? Her gaze swept across the scene before her. Several buildings across from the depot included a general store. She stood and made her way across the uneven ruts crisscrossing the street, if the hard-packed ground could be considered a street. A sign advertising Anderson's General Store squeaked on its chains. Welcome warmth greeted her when she pushed her way through the double doors.

A woman behind the counter peered at her. "May I help you, dear?"

The aroma of lamp oil and peppermint mingled in the air. "I stepped in to get out of the wind. I'm waiting for my Uncle Ben and Aunt Amelia to pick me up."

The gray-haired woman wiped her hands on her white apron. "Are you talking about Amelia Haynes?"

"Yes, ma'am. I've come to live with them."

The lady beamed. "Welcome to Barton Creek. I'm Bea Anderson, and that's my husband Carl over there." A slightly bald man helping a customer grinned and nodded in her direction.

Mrs. Anderson pulled up a stool beside the wood stove. "Sit a spell and get warm. Ben and Amelia should be here soon."

A young man by the shelf of canned goods turned and smiled. Lucinda offered a small one in return. Heat rose in her cheeks as he continued to stare.

She broke her gaze and pointed to glass jars filled with a rainbow of colors. "Thank you, but I must go back over to the depot. I'll take a few of those peppermints if you don't mind."

Mrs. Anderson filled a small bag with the candy. "It's a mite colder out now. Sure you don't want to stay here until they arrive?"

Lucinda handed the woman a few coins and grasped the bag. "Thank you for your concern, but I don't want them to have to hunt for me. Maybe I'll see you again."

"If you come to church on Sunday, you surely will." The bell over the door jingled, and another customer entered. Mrs. Anderson turned her attention to the new patron. The young man smiled and nodded as Lucinda turned from the counter. She didn't smile in return. Mrs. Anderson should have introduced him. Were proper manners of no importance here on the frontier?

Lucinda crossed back to the depot that was down from the town's answer for a hotel. The only fully brick building in sight, it had grand windows, and cut glass adorned the wooden doors, but it couldn't compare to the ones in Boston. Of course, nothing in these buildings resembled the beauty of the masonry of her hometown.

She returned to the bench and popped a peppermint into her mouth. The sharp sweetness teased her taste buds as she savored her favorite candy. It brought back memories of Papa bringing a bag of treats home to her every week.

She'd be eighteen in less than six months and old enough to take care of her own affairs. Until then, however, she had to comply with the lawyer's recommendations. At least her aunt and uncle were family, and she longed to be a part of a family once again. She missed having someone concerned about her welfare. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson had been kind, but they had their own affairs to tend to. Her only fear now lay in losing her own identity so far away from everything she knew and loved.

With no idea what lay ahead, one thing was sure: she would have to learn to do without the amenities enjoyed as the only child of a wealthy family. But if Aunt Amelia could come out here and live and be entirely happy, Lucinda had to at least give it a try.

A gust of wind whipped open her dark blue cloak and stirred a small whirlwind of dirt. She coughed from the dust and wrapped the thick wool tighter around her body to ward off the cold. If Aunt Amelia and Uncle Ben didn't arrive soon, she'd have to go back inside to escape the weather.

Mellie Haynes shivered in the frigid air. In a few minutes she'd be with her young niece. Dear Lucinda. How would she fare in this country? Amelia missed her sister and the wonderful letters they exchanged, but that couldn't begin to compare to the grief Lucinda must bear.

The Haynes ranch house may not be as elegant as Lucinda's home in Boston, but it was warm, comfortable, and large enough to accommodate her own son and daughter as well as Lucinda.

She pictured her young niece and Becky together. Surely Lucinda's upbringing would have a positive effect on her
daughter's hoydenish behavior. Of course, Becky was only twelve, but the time had come for her to learn more ladylike ways.

Mellie considered the young man beside her. Jake couldn't be much more than a few years older than Lucinda. Such a handsome face, but so full of sadness, it had drawn her to him like a moth to light when he arrived at the ranch all those months ago. He'd become more like a second son. She wanted to erase that haunted look in his eye and believed she'd succeeded until today.

When they reached the main street, her heart beat a little faster. Her precious niece huddled on the bench, staring at the ground. She would offer Lucinda plenty of comfort and love to help her adjust to all the changes in the days ahead.

Lucinda sat with head bowed against the wind as it blasted around the corner. She yanked on her bonnet to keep it from flying off into the street. She hadn't felt this lonely since the day after the funeral.

Wagon wheels creaked and broke the silence. Her name echoed across the street, and she glanced up. Aunt Amelia waved and called to her again. Relief flooded Lucinda's soul. She bolted from the bench and ran into her aunt's welcoming arms.

Aunt Amelia hugged her tightly. "Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry we're late. Your uncle Ben couldn't leave the ranch, so I had Jake bring me."

A young man in dusty boots and a brown hat stood waiting by the wagon. Hair the color of the wheat fields she'd passed in Kansas escaped from under his hat and brushed his shoulders. He tipped the brim back with a forefinger, and his eyebrows arched as though surprised to see her.

Aunt Amelia hugged her again before stepping back. "Oh, let me look at you. You've grown even more beautiful since we saw you at the funeral." She turned to the cowboy. "Jake, come and meet Lucinda."

The young man sauntered across the unpaved street and removed his hat. Steel blue eyes met Lucinda's gaze and sliced through her with razor sharpness. She gulped. No one had ever looked at her like that.

Aunt Amelia introduced him as Jake Starnes. A muscle twitched in his well-tanned jaw, and a gust of wind blew a few strands of hair across his face. Still, he stared. Curiosity swelled from within, but she averted her eyes. The handsome young man in dirty boots and a blue jacket was like no other young man Lucinda had ever met.

She lifted her chin into the air and turned her gaze toward the station. "My bags are over there."

He stepped behind Lucinda to survey two trunks and a mound of other pieces. He emitted a low whistle. "All that stuff yours?"

At Lucinda's nod, he shook his head, then hefted the smaller trunk onto his shoulder. With his free hand he grasped the handle of her largest bag. "I reckon it'll fit, but we'll all three have to ride on the bench." He strode across the way to a wagon hitched to a pair of horses.

Lucinda scurried to keep up. Dismay swelled in her chest as she surveyed the wooden contraption. No carriage? How far would she have to ride up on that narrow seat? "How far is it?" she asked.

"It's about an hour's drive out to the ranch. Mrs. Haynes, maybe we should have brought the bigger buckboard."

Aunt Amelia covered her mouth with her hand. "I'm sorry. I should have thought of that, but this will have to do for today."

Jake pushed his load into the back of the wagon. He turned to Aunt Amelia and offered his assistance to lift her onto the wooden plank bench. After she settled herself, he nodded toward a step on the side and reached for Lucinda's elbow.

Lucinda tensed at his touch but accepted his help. She perched next to her aunt. Not even a cushion on the boards to soften the impact, but the thickness of her petticoats and coat would ease the bumps a bit.

As soon as she was situated, Jake turned back to the station. "I'll get the rest of your things."

Jake's dark jacket strained across his broad shoulders as he lifted the final two boxes and almost staggered under their weight.

Aunt Amelia leaned against her arm. "Jake's a strong young man and a big help on the ranch."

Lucinda's cheeks again filled with heat. Ashamed to think her aunt caught her observing the cowboy, she let her gaze wander back to the street and the buildings. How different from what she expected, but then she had no way of knowing what awaited her in Barton Creek.

Before she could take time for further inspection, Jake returned to heave the last small trunk onto the wagon.

Jake frowned up at her. "'Tain't Boston, but it's growing."

His words echoed her thoughts and unnerved her even more. She clasped her hands to keep them from shaking.

He unhitched the horses and climbed up beside her aunt, then reached behind him for a heavy wool coat. Jake pushed his long arms into the sleeves and buttoned it around his chest. A flick of the reins and the team moved forward.

Wide-open range and grasslands spread across the scene with distant hills giving character to an otherwise dull landscape with its brown and pale greens. Leafless trees sent crooked fingers into the overcast sky. The land looked as though God had created it and then forgotten it. Lucinda shivered as the wind sent chilling gusts through her cloak.

Aunt Amelia grasped Lucinda's hand. "Our house isn't a big one by any means, but we have plenty of room for you, and Becky is excited to have another girl around the ranch. You'll share a room with her."

Share a room? Lucinda hadn't counted on that either. What other surprises lay waiting for her? The view of bleak land sowed more seeds of doubt in her mind. She should have insisted on staying in Boston. How would she ever fit into life on a ranch in such a lonely place?

If only Mama and Papa hadn't been so protective, she might not be as ill at ease as she was now. The sound of her name broke into her reverie. "What was that, Aunt Amelia?"

"I said Lucinda is rather a formal name for the west. How about Lucy? It's short and easy to say."

Change her name? What next? She rolled the name on her tongue but didn't care for the feel of it. If she changed her name, then she'd be giving up one more part of herself. Manners restrained her tongue from a sharp answer. "I'll have to think about the name for a while if you don't mind, Aunt Amelia."

Her aunt pursed her lips. "Of course, dear, but you can call me Aunt Mellie. Everyone at the ranch and in town does except for this young'un here." She nudged Jake in the arm. "Don't you think she looks like a Lucy?"

Jake shot her a quick look. "Sounds fine to me, ma'am," he said politely.

"Yes, Lucy is a good name." Mrs. Haynes grinned at Jake but spoke to Lucinda. "His name is Jacob, but we all call him Jake. Even your cousins have shortened names."

Love emanated from her aunt, but Lucinda would wait awhile before agreeing to change her name. She leaned forward a bit to observe Jake just as he cut his gaze to hers. A strange feeling of excitement engulfed her, but the unknown sent an icicle of fear through her heart.

Jake matched Lucinda's stare until she turned her head. Was that fear he saw in her eyes? What had he said or done to frighten her?

He observed Lucinda's ramrod straight back, her hands clutching a dark blue cloak around her. Raven black hair peeked from beneath a bonnet. He didn't know her age, but she had to still be in her teen years. What had led him to think Lucinda was a child? Of course Mrs. Haynes always referred to her as a little girl. Nothing prepared him for the young lady seated on the other end of the wagon bench.

Mrs. Haynes eyed Lucinda's traveling clothes. "We'll have to get you some more comfortable things for life on the ranch."

Jake swallowed a chuckle as Lucinda protested. "No need for that. Mr. Sutton thought I needed a proper traveling gown, but most of the things his wife helped me with are much more practical." More practical? Jake doubted it. A refined lady from Boston like her wouldn't know the first thing about what to wear at a ranch. A twinge of sympathy ran through him. She looked as out of place as a pig at a cattle auction.

"Here we are," said Mrs. Haynes. "Welcome to your new home, dear."

Before them the Rocking H ranch spread out across the horizon. The roof outlines of the house, bunkhouse, and barns drew near. Jake urged the horses forward, eager to deliver his unusual charge and return to his work. Lucinda's troubles were none of his business. Besides, he had enough troubles of his own to carry.

**My REVIEW is here.**

My Review: Becoming Lucy (Winds Across the Prairie, Bk 1) by Martha Rogers

(Winds Across the Prairie, Bk 1)
by Martha Rogers

Realms (Strang Book Group)
Copyright 2010
Pages: 295
ISBN: 9781599799124

(from Christianbook.com):

After her parents' deaths, 17-year-old heiress Lucy Bishop takes refuge on her aunt and uncle's ranch in Barton Creek, Oklahoma. If it weren't for ranch hand Jake Starnes, the genteel young woman wouldn't survive the backbreaking work. But a dark secret torments him. Can Jake face his past before somebody claims Lucy's hand---or her life?

My Thoughts:

I had a hard time deciding what to say about this book. It was not at all what I expected, but it turned out to be okay. The story didn't flow smoothly, in my opinion, and I was easily distracted, but I was determined to finish it so I could give an honest review.

At the beginning of the story, we meet Lucinda Bishop, just as she's leaving her parents funeral. Next, we travel with her to the Oklahoma Territory, where she will be living with her Aunt Mellie and Uncle Ben, and their 2 children, Matt and Becky. Here we meet Jake Starnes, who works for her uncle, but has only been around for about six months. Right off the bat, there are sparks between Lucinda and Jake, though they've only known one another for a few days. But, since Jake is an unbeliever, Lucinda must bury her growing feelings of love towards him. From here on out, the story goes all over the place.

If you're not a fan of "preachy" romances, then you probably won't enjoy this book. A good portion of the story revolves around getting Jake to see that God loves him and will forgive him for his sins, no matter how big they are. While I completely agree, when I pick up a romance, that's what I'm looking forward to reading about. I felt that Becoming Lucy was seriously lacking in that aspect.

However, I did enjoy getting to know the many different characters, especially Dove Morris and her family. I can't imagine how hard it must be to grow up in a town where you are looked down upon by many of the townspeople. It would be devastating to have your friends be told by their parents that they're not allowed to associate themselves with you because of your heritage. It was nice to see Lucinda and her family stand up to the opposition and become close friends with the Morris family. Dove will have her own book, Morning for Dove, set to release in May 2010.

*Many thanks to Realms for providing me with this ARC copy to review, via FIRSTWildCard Tours.*


Waiting on Wednesday

(Compliments of Jill @ Breaking the Spine)

It allows bloggers to feature pre-publication
books that they are eagerly anticipating!

The Gunsmith's Gallantry
(Ladies Shooting Club, Bk 2)
by Susan Page Davis

Release date: June 1, 2010

Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance

Barbour Books, Inc.
Copyright 2010
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781602607958

Well...I was gonna post the excerpt from Amazon, but they pretty much spoil the romance aspect of the first book, The Sheriff's Surrender. If you want to read it anyway...just click here to go to Amazon.com.


My Review: The Sweet By and By by Sara Evans (with Rachel Hauck)

The Sweet By and By
by Sara Evans
(with Rachel Hauck)

Christian Fiction / Womens / General

Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Copyright 2009
Pages: 311
ISBN: 9781595544896

From the author/back cover:

"All my songs tell a story. But this one's special. My first novel. A story about Jade. Her search for real love, her one-eyed mutt, hippie mother, and quirky vintage shop. It's about looking backward while moving forward. About chasing dreams, endless country roads, and tender faith. A breath of fresh air that'll take you away and leave your heart humming a song of joy." ~ Sara

Small excerpt ~ Chapter 1:

"The October sun warmed the Blue Umbrella's office. A pool of light washed over Jade's paint-chipped desk and the box of ruby-red invitations shoved against the windowsill."


Quick read, great first novel, quirky dialogue, easy to identify with the characters


Flashbacks become a little annoying, the ending came too soon :)

My Thoughts:

As some of you already know, I'm trying to branch out and read other genres besides just Romance. This was one of those instances. I'm happy to say that this was a great jaunt into a different "world"!

In my teens, country music was the music to listen to, here in my hometown...so, I grew up listening to Sara Evans' songs. A couple of them were among my favorites, i.e., I Could Not Ask For More, and No Place That Far, to name a couple. If you enjoy books revolving around music, hippies, heartache, forgiveness, and finding the way to Christ, all with a little bit of love thrown in...this book is definitely for you.

You will immediately be drawn into the heart-breaking journey that is Jade's life. Her whole adult life has revolved around a very hard decision she was forced to make when she was only sixteen. Her family became very dysfunctional when she was still really young, and she hasn't had a close relationship with her parents ever since. She has never felt safe, or truly loved, since that terrible day when she was 8-years-old.

As the story opens, we meet Jade after she's all grown up, and is about to be married. She is the owner of The Blue Umbrella, her vintage shop in Whisper Hollow, TN. She lives in the loft above her shop with her faithful, one-eyed companion, Roscoe. The whole town of Whisper Hollow is made up of unique and unusual characters, as well as cozy businesses, up and down Main Street, where Jade's shop is located.

When Jade and her fiance meet with the minister to plan the ceremony, tough questions come up concerning Jade's relationship with God. She feels unworthy of Christ's love, though she knows He exists. She just doesn't think He can forgive her for the horrible decisions/mistakes she's made in the past.

It's very easy to become immersed in the lives of the Fitzgerald family. By the time you get to end of this book, you're really sad to see them go...at least I was. I'm hoping this will turn out to be the start of a series. I would love to find out what happens to Jade's siblings: Aiden and Willow...maybe they will share there own stories with us at some point.

To find out how more about Sara's debut book, or how to get your own copy, please visit her at: her website

* I would like to say "thank you" to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a complimentary copy of The Sweet By and By for me to review. In no way, shape, or form did their thoughtfulness have any reflection on my opinion of this book. *


Teaser Tuesdays

(Compliments of MizB @ Should Be Reading)

Here's what you're asked to do:
  1. Grab your current read.
  2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
  3. Share two teaser sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  4. Share the title of the book that the “teaser” comes from ~ so people can find the book if they like the teaser.
  5. And remember – AVOID SPOILERS!!
Here's mine:

"Jade had tried to erase the twenty-year-old Christmas memory, but it had found a permanent place in the front of her soul, pulled up a comfy chair, and ordered a tall latte."

Found on page: 58

The Sweet By and By
by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

General Fiction

Thomas Nelson
Copyright 2009
Pages: 311
ISBN: 9781595544896

**I hope to be posting my review later on this evening.**


Another 2010 Reading Challenge

I was just invited to participate in the 2010 Christian Fiction Reading Challenge...thanks to my friend Renee @ Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot....she invited me to check out the challenge over @ MJ's blog, Christian Historical Fiction. This one sounds like a lot of fun!

I've decided to join in on a few Challenges this year; it's something I've never done before. I also plan on keeping up with how many books I read in 2010...kinda curious to see how many I end up with. :)

If you're interested in joining ~ here are the requirements:

1. The goal is to read and promote Christian Historical Fiction by reading at least 24 titles. That is two per month, but anyone who wants to commit to more or less is welcome to join in on the fun. Anyone can join. You do not need a blog to participate. I have started a CHF Ning to promote discussions as well.

2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, and other formats are all allowed. As long as the book can by purchased it counts.

3. Feel free to list a proposed lists of TBR (to-be-reads) but you can also list them as you go.

4. Duplicates from other reading challenges can also count.

5. Challenge begins January 3rd through December 31st. Books started before count. *wink*

Just visit MJ here to sign up!!


Blog Awards for 2009

I'm honored to post an award that I received towards the end of 2009. I would also like to apologize for taking so long to post it. My life has been really hectic since Thanksgiving, as I'm sure many of yours have been, too. Hopefully, I can get back into the swing of things now that the holidays are over.

The "One Lovely Blog Award" came to me from Verlina over @ What You Reading Now?. Isn't it "lovely? *wink* Thanks so much Verlina!

I would like to share this award with a couple of blogs I've recently discovered. There are:


I hope y'all had a safe and happy New Year!!