Saturday, July 4, 2020

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Never an Amish Bride by Ophelia London

Never An Amish Bride Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for Never an Amish Bride by Ophelia London, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Never An Amish Bride by Ophelia London Title: Never an Amish Bride
Series: Honey Brook #1
Author: Ophelia London
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Amish Romance

Welcome to charming Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, where bestselling author Ophelia London will bring you on a moving and unforgettable journey through faith, forgiveness, and ultimately love.

Everything changed for Esther Miller with the death of her beloved fiancĂ©, Jacob. Even years later, she still struggles with her faith and purpose in the small, tight-knit Amish village of Honey Brook—especially now that her younger sister is getting married. All she wants is to trust in the Lord to help her find peace...but peace is the last thing she gets when Lucas, Jacob’s wayward older brother, returns to town.

Lucas Brenneman has been harboring a secret for years—the real reason he never returned from Rumspringa and the truth behind his brother Jacob’s death. Honey Brook still calls to him, but he knows his occupation as a physician’s assistant must take precedence. With sweet and beautiful Esther he finds a comfort he’s never known, and he feels like anything is possible...even forgiveness. But she was Jacob’s bride-to-be first. And if she knew the truth, would she ever truly open her heart to him?

USA Today bestselling author Ophelia London brings a sweet, heartfelt, and surprisingly funny take to the popular Amish romance cannon.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBook Depository  


 

EXCERPT 


The most important thing was to remain calm. The second was to make sure—if the buggy overturned—that it would fall over on his side, not Esther’s. Maybe due to the recent rain, Lucas felt the moment the right-hand wheel hit a deep, soft spot of dirt. Next he heard a loud crack. Esther shrieked and leaned into him, clutching his arm. 

“Keep ahold of me!” he shouted, feeling her grip tighten.

As if in slow motion, the left side of the buggy began to tip up. After another loud snap of wood, despite all his efforts, everything began sliding to the right. The sound of bending iron coupled with Esther’s screams was deafening as the buggy rotated.

When all was finally silent, Lucas opened his eyes. He was facedown, staring directly at a pair of closed eyelids, while he lay flat over Esther’s body.

“Hey,” he said, trying to roll off, but he was wedged in there pretty darn tight. “Are you okay? Esther, can you hear me?” When she didn’t answer, he sprang into action, fearing the worst. Had she hit her head or had a dangerous internal injury? It hadn’t been a hard landing, but after working in trauma for two rotations, he knew anything was possible.
Before he’d had time to even get to his feet, he heard a soft laugh. The sound slowed his panicking heart.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, lifting himself onto his elbows so he could look at her.

While she continued to giggle—tears in her eyes now—he rolled onto his knees and got to his feet. After a quick assessment, he noted that her body wasn’t at any awkward angles; therefore, nothing major was broken.

“What’s so funny?” he repeated, wanting to join in her laughter out of pure relief.

“Everything,” she said. “That was so much fun.”

“You were screaming bloody murder.”

“While having fun.”



 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Ophelia London 

USA Today bestselling author Ophelia London was born and raised among the redwood trees in beautiful northern California. Once she was fully educated, she decided to settle in Florida, but her car broke down in Texas, and she’s lived in Dallas ever since. She enjoys cupcakes, treadmills, reruns of Dawson’s Creek and obsessing over her Italian Greyhound, Peanut. Ophelia is the author of NEVER AN AMISH BRIDE, her very first Amish romance! As wells as the Sugar City series, the Perfect Kisses series, the Abby Road series, and other adult, NA and YA sweet romances.

CONNECT WITH OPHELIA: Website Facebook Twitter Instagram  


 

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card!

Never an Amish Bride JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight June 30, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 7, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, July 3, 2020

First Line Fridays: A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

Happy Friday! 

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today, I'm sharing the first line from A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy:

"Nora Shipley's ears buzzed as though a thousand bees were trapped inside her head."

Have you read this book? Book blurb below and you can read my review here.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!



About the Book:

Nora Shipley has one goal--to carry on the legacy of her late father by taking over the scientific journal he started. To that end, she's fought to be taken seriously among her male classmates and graduate as valedictorian of Cornell's entomology program. When pressures to settle down rise to a fever pitch, she impulsively joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field and win a scholarship.

But India holds several surprises--she is impressed not only by the beauty of its natural wonders, but also by the gentle nature she discovers in the rival classmate who accompanied her, Owen Epps. Instead of exploring, however, she is forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her. During the many quiet days, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices--between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she's always thought she wanted and the man she's come to love.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Tour Finale Blitz with Giveaway: A Cowgirl's Dream by Edith MacKenzie


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you'll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Author Interview

What inspired you to write A Cowgirl's Dream

I have been involved with horses for most of my life and love happy ever afters. As an Aussie, I wanted to write a character that embodied a lot of the cowgirls that I know. I also wanted to write a story about the strong women in rodeo, their sisterhoods and men they choose to love. 




"...loved it! You know my love of cowboys, and this just made me love them more! There were sweet moments and swoon worthy moments!"




"I loved Frankie’s character . . . I also loved the friendships in the book. . . . If you love horses, you will enjoy reading A Cowgirl’s Dream. This book is the first book in the series. I look forward to reading the next book."




"If you want a light romance with diverse characters, and you love cowboys, then A Cowgirl’s Dream is a new book you’ll want to check out. It’s not your typical cowboy story . . . Instead of Texas men, we have a ranch full of Brazilian cowboys & an Aussie cowgirl who ‘barrels’ in to the mix. . . . the romance is sweet with plenty of sparks and the rodeo/horse training aspect to the story is full of energy."

Splashes of Joy - Guest Post


A mock magazine interview for Luciano – The love interest

Luciano Navarro – Is he Brazil’s brightest rodeo star?

Rodeo News, March 2020

Not since the great Eduardo Cabrera dominated the bull riding scene, have we seen a Brazilian rider storm up the rankings the way Luciano Navarro has. Along with his compatriot, Joao Rojas, lately it seems every event has set the green flag flying. I was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with Luciano after his win at Houston and interview him.

Since you started making a splash at rodeos, everyone has compared you to Eduardo Cabrera. Do you think the comparison is justified?
Obviously I appreciate being compared to a champion like that. Senhor Eduardo has been a great mentor to myself and Joao, helping us find our feet in a strange country. I hope that I can make him proud. . .




Why was it that she only owned jeans and T-shirts? Most girls have at least one dress! Giving up, Frankie dramatically flopped face-first onto her bed, deciding she would just spend the entire BBQ in that position. Honestly, there was nothing else she could do.

“Do I even want to know?” Deb popped her head into the room.

“Doff weeve muy loon,” she mumbled into the bedspread.

“Duff’s a loon? Do we even know a Duff? Hey, Megan, do you know a Duff?” Deb called down the hall.

“No, why?” came the reply from the kitchen.

“Ha-ha, you’re so funny,” Frankie grumbled, raising her head off the bed. Her hair now closely resembled a bird’s nest freshly fallen from a tree. In a storm. A bad one. Maybe cyclonic. “I said Leave. Me. Alone.” She theatrically dropped her head back down.


Wishful Endings - Guest Post


Inspiration for the Series

I really wanted to write about a core group of women that focused on the ups and downs of close female friendship. It was important to me that these women still had their own identities, dreams and struggles, all while finding love. It was always going to be about cowgirls since horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. I’m an Australian and my husband uses the most outlandish Aussie slang of anyone I’ve ever met. When we travel, most of the time no one has a clue what he’s talking about. I thought it would be fun to use some of that in my characters. . .


Hallie Reads - Review


"Get ready for a wild, romantic ride in Edith MacKenzie’s A Cowgirl’s Dream! . . . The story that unfolds between Frankie and Luciano is certainly a fun one. The author’s experience with horses shines through the rodeo aspects, and Frankie and Luciano prove to be an easy couple to root for page after page. . . . Overall, an enjoyable afternoon cowgirl-romance read. Definitely worth checking out if you’re interested . . ."


Uplifting Reads - Review


"I read the whole thing while sitting poolside on a mini-vacation. I still like to read about the competitions in addition to the romance. I have already grabbed the free prequel and am looking forward to the releases of the next in the series."




He looked at Gabi for permission. “Is she free tomorrow?”

She checked her phone. “I don’t have anything booked in for her.”

“Good. I will pick her up after lunch,” he nodded his head decisively. “I look forward to showing you around, Querida.”

“Eager little bugger, isn’t he?” whispered Deb.

“Doesn’t waste time,” agreed Megan.

“Have you guys finished?” Beet red, Frankie attempted to return to her meal.

“I think so.” Deb turned to Gabi. “Now, let’s talk about you and Joao.”




As Gabi walked off to find some drinks, Frankie self-consciously moved to one side of the food table. Curiously, she looked around at the various groups of people gathered. She found herself on the other end of a gaze with frankly the most magnetically attractive man she had ever laid eyes on. The stranger had the swarthy complexion of most of the assembled guests. He gave a slow, seductive smile while he returned her candid appraisal, a hot-blooded gleam flaring in his dark, smiling eyes, the corners crinkling into lines that looked well-used. The man had a smile that would put a Hollywood actor to shame.



What is it about cowboys and cowgirls that is so appealing in the romance genre? 

The strong silent type clad in snug denim? Strong capable women that know their own mind. Especially in Australia I think it is how we still like to think of ourselves. There is a sense of romance to that type of lifestyle.




Frankie’s temper began to rise. “You are unbelievable.”

“Thank you. I hear that a lot.”

Her mouth dropped open at his arrogance and she shook her head. “I didn’t mean it in a good way. Look, good talk, let’s not rush to do this again.” She spun on her heels and walked back up the aisle. 

“I did not think you were the type to run away Frankie,” he called after her, laughter in his voice.


Christy's Cozy Corners - Guest Post


SOME AUSTRALIAN SLANG (WHICH YOU MAY OR MAY NOT READ IN THE A COWGIRL’S DREAM)

Australia is a beautiful country filled with wildlife that wants to kill you (I won’t even go into the wild animals you won’t find at the zoos, deemed too fierce for capture, such as drop bears, hoops snakes and yetis. Google them at your own peril if you wish to find out more) and food that many outsiders consider inedible (I’m looking at you vegemite and fairy bread). However, it is the language used in the land down under that causes the most difficulty for visitors.


Remembrancy - Excerpt


“Really?” Frankie groaned in frustration as the water splashed from the bucket she had just set down in the stall, soaking the leg of her jeans.

Honestly, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe in the interest of expediency, she could do both at the same time? Thank goodness Delila had settled in happily, already munching on the hay net Gabi brought over. The same Gabi now popped her head over the stall and laughed at her drenched state.

“You know they have showers here, right? No need to wash in a bucket of cold water.”

Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post...



A Cowgirl's Dream

(Barrels and Hearts, #1)

By Edith MacKenzie
Contemporary Romance, Western
Paperback and ebook, 154 Pages
June 24, 2020

An Aussie cowgirl far from home. A handsome Brazilian bull rider. Can they have a rodeo love story of their dreams?

Frankie dreams of being a champion barrel racer. When the opportunity of a lifetime knocks on her door, she moves halfway across the globe to chase it. After having her heart broken, she’s determined to focus on her ambitions. That means no time for cowboys, even if he is bloody cute.

Luciano is well on his way to getting everything he has ever dreamed of. That is, until an Aussie cowgirl crashes into his world, setting his soul on fire. He knows what it takes to get to the top and Frankie has it in spades. Now, all he has to do is convince her to see beyond the suave exterior and give him a chance.

Finally, Frankie has a shot at the championship buckle, but when photos appear of Luciano on the internet, she has to decide whether to stay or walk away. Is she kidding herself, can she have it all? Can Frankie find her courage to trust in love and still chase her Cowgirl’s dream?

(Affiliate link included.)


(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)


Other Books Coming in the Series

(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)


About the Author


Edith MacKenzie or Eddie Mac to her friends is an Australian author of sweet and wholesome contemporary cowboy romance. They say in literary circles to write what you know and Eddie has certainly taken that to heart. Before embarking on a writing career she trained horses professionally and brings that wealth of knowledge to her writing.

Now a mum to a boy and girl, as well as wife, she delights with her tales of strong cowgirls and their adventures in finding love. When not weaving the love stories of her characters, she enjoys hanging out with her family and animals, as well as reading, fishing and camping

Just remember once a cowgirl, always a cowgirl.



Tour Giveaway


One winner will receive a $20 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally to those eligible to use one of Amazon's branches
Ends July 5, 2020

Grab Our Button!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

About the Book:

Sense and Sensibility. Frankenstein. The Scarlet Letter. You’re familiar with these pillars of classic literature. You may even be able to rattle off a few quotes, but do you really know how to read them? Do you know how to read them as a Christian?
Through this beautifully designed series, bestselling author, literature professor, and avid reader Karen Swallow Prior will guide you through a selection of classics. She will not only navigate you through the pitfalls that trap readers today, but show you how to read them in light of the gospel, and to the glory of God


My Thoughts:


I chose to read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad strictly because I am a fan of Karen Swallow Prior’s work. After reading her informative, spoiler-free introduction, I knew it would be a heavy read, but I hoped that I might get something out of it. 

The story was terrible. Cruelty, racism, greed, hatred… and it was all in the extreme. Although the publisher altered/replaced some of the most offensive words, the story and the characters’ actions demonstrated unfathomable disregard for human life. I couldn’t stomach it and it took me a long time to read through.

Karen Swallow Prior’s introduction is well-written. It provided information on the author’s life, a historical background of the work, an overview of themes in the work, and suggestions to consider while reading Heart of Darkness.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

June Reading Recap & Expected July Reads!

My June 2020 Reads: 

In June, I finished:

  1. A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. Start With Me by Kara Isaac - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Review to come.

  3. The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  4. The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin - ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

  5. The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin - ⭐⭐⭐⭐. 

  6. At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  7. The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  8. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Karen Swallow Prior - ⭐⭐ - Read my review.



Expected July 2020 Reads:

In July, I hope to read:
  1. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster - I started reading this one in early May, but didn't get very far in before life went crazy. I just started reading it again and it's quite interesting!

  2.  A Bride of Convenience by Jody Hedlund - I love Jody Hedlund's books!

  3. Ruby Moon by Jennifer Knipfer - Both this book and it's sequel have been sitting on my shelf for months! Sometimes I get soooo behind! 

  4. A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden - My local book club's pick for July!

  5. Coming Home to Maverick by Sophia Summers - Looking forward to this one too!




What will you read this month?

Book Review: The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper

About the Book:

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.
After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.
In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.
This romantic mystery from award-winning Australian novelist Tea Cooper will keep readers guessing until the astonishing conclusion.
Purchase Links
Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble
(Affiliate links included)

My Thoughts:

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper features an eye-catching cover for this dual timeline, historical fiction novel. The story was a slow start for me as I struggled to find a connection between the two storylines. Somewhere around the 40% percent mark, my interest in the novel heightened. The story’s strength lies in the questions, searches, and mysteries, but I think greater character development would have enhanced the story.

Bert ranked as my favorite character in The Woman in the Green Dress. Though he was a secondary character, he drew the two timelines together and I liked him more and more as I traveled through the story. I also liked how certain characters’ histories and motives, some of which were surprising, remained a mystery until the proper reveal. 

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper is written for the general market and published by Thomas Nelson. It’s mostly clean with only an occasional crude word in the dialogue. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this ebook by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the Author:

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Connect with Tea: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Friday, June 26, 2020

First Line Fridays: Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Happy Friday! 

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today, I'm sharing the first line from Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner:

"My Norman had never understood why I liked to hang laundry on the line when I had a perfectly good dryer inside."

Have you read this book? Book blurb below and you can read an excerpt on the publisher's site.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!



About the Book:

Rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at forty. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what's next, never imagining what God had in mind.


When her estranged sister returns to town, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a five-year-old nephew she never knew she had. In 1960s small-town Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Forever Home by Amy Grochowski

Forever Home JustRead Blog + Review Tour 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour and Giveaway for Forever Home by Amy Grochowski, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Forever Home by Amy Grochowski Title: Forever Home
Series:
Amish Dreams on Prince Edward Island #1
Author:
Amy Grochowski
Publisher:
Ambassador International
Release Date:
June 9, 2020
Genre:
Inspirational Amish Romance

A Canadian Amish farmer
A Lancaster Amish businesswoman
A Prince Edward Island foster child 

Providence brings together a mismatched family, giving all three a second chance for love. Only love may never have had such a tough job.

Lydia Miller is an anomaly among her Amish people-a single woman in her 30s, running her own store, determined to forge a life on her own. But when Joel Yoder comes into town to sell his property, Lydia suddenly finds all of her hopes and dreams crumbling around her and a new opportunity placed in her lap.

Joel has his own problems. Recently jilted by his fiancée, Joel has seen his own dreams of moving to a newly established Amish community begin to falter. The new community welcomes married couples only. With his dreams quickly slipping from his fingers, Joel suddenly sees the only option he thinks he has--a marriage of convenience for both of them.

 As the new couple begins life in a new settlement, they are even more surprised when a foster child in need of a home finds her way to them. Yet what will happen when the English world and the Amish world collide?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBook Depository | Christianbook  


 

EXCERPT



Chapter One

October 2016
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

A sensible Amish woman aspired to marry, as Lydia Miller was reminded daily.
She also knew any wise Amish woman ought to bypass schemes destined to failure. Yet here she stood, determined to avoid the first and ready to plunge headlong into the second.
Lydia sucked in a breath and slid into a seat on the second-to-last row of chairs under the auction tent. She may not win the bid for the farmhouse at today’s estate sale, but at least she’d know she tried everything to keep her business.
The air smelled of autumn—the cooling rest of the earth after yielding her summer labor. Under the heavy canvas of the tent, the two-mile stretch of Amish farmland known as Millers Creek was hidden from Lydia’s view.
A wet trickle of perspiration trailed from underneath her prayer kapp, then down the back of Lydia’s neck. She almost allowed Ben to bid for her; but her brother wasn’t familiar with her finances, nor was his future on the bidding block.
Nay, the task was up to her alone.
The wooden seat beside Lydia creaked under the heft of her neighbor, Miriam Stoltzfus, who emitted a groan of her own as she sat.
“Have you lost all of your good sense?”
Ever since Lydia’s mamm died, Miriam had taken the mother role upon herself. Lydia was used to the older woman’s more-often-than-not good intentions, which were more than Lydia needed at the moment.
“I still have all my wits about me.”
The click of Miriam’s tongue against her teeth issued her contradiction. Lydia’s vision settled onto the handle attached to her bidder card. The rounded edge of the re-purposed tongue depressor pressed into her palm. Lydia prayed a silent prayer of forgiveness for the unkind urge to use it on the other woman.
Gott’s will couldn’t be plainer if Moses himself carved it on a stone tablet for you to read.” Miriam’s prayer kapp bobbed up and down with the surety of her conviction.
The Almighty’s will? Or Miriam’s? Lydia had to wonder.
Lydia shoved the tongue depressor between her knees for safe-keeping and pressed her lips tight to keep from disrespecting her elder, who continued in a not-so-quiet whisper. “The sale of this property—including your Amish Shoppe—is a clear sign the time has come for you to quit this spinster nonsense and settle down with a goot Amish husband.”
“And marry whom?” Not your cousin, Hiram Glick. Miriam knew full well Lydia couldn’t accept Hiram. “I could own a business, not just rent the building.” Lydia turned to face her neighbor. “You know why this is important to me.”  She didn’t dare say the reason aloud. Miriam was one of the few who knew the reason for her determination to support herself.
Ya, I know. Even so, I tell you, Lydia, this is a mistake. The Lord has a bigger plan for you. He is not bound by the past. Remember, with Gott all things are possible.”
“Well then, it’s still possible I might buy this house and save my shop today.”
Miriam sank with a deflated plop against the back of her seat.
Lydia had the last word, but satisfaction didn’t follow. Miriam’s words nagged at her conscience. Not the part about signs and plans. Lydia didn’t believe she deserved such consideration. Rather, she was struck by the existence of a Power great enough to overcome the past. If only the past had not bound her.
But she was Lydia Miller, humble mortal.
Lydia shifted in her seat. She’d attended many auctions, but never bid for anything. She bit her lower lip. Did she know what she was doing with such a large sum and stakes so high? All the money she’d earned from five years of teaching in the Amish school had been poured into renovating the farmhouse into a shop. Now, she had only her business savings to try and outbid the fancy men here today.
Ouch. Lydia jumped from a sharp jab in the ribs.
“I wasn’t talking about Hiram, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Miriam aimed the offending finger toward an Amish man whom Lydia had never seen.
Tall with powerful strong shoulders, he stood alone on the far side of the tent, tapping his straw hat against his leg. The Amish stranger’s face was tanned and his hair the blackest she’d ever seen. His dark eyes, set deep under thick brows, met her own. Lydia ducked her head, but not before she noticed his square, unshaven chin. Unmarried.
“What in the world?” Lydia leaned into Miriam to keep her voice low. “Now you’d try to match me with a man we don’t even know?”
“He’s Canadian Amish. Beulah Yoder’s grandson.”
“Oh…so, you’d have me marry the man responsible for this…” Lydia’s throat tightened. If she attempted to describe what this horrible day really meant to her, she’d be in tears. She couldn’t afford the distraction. As far as Lydia was concerned, the man should have stayed in Canada where he belonged. He hadn’t been around these parts even when his grandmother was alive. All was fine and dandy if he wanted to sell his inheritance, but a little more notice would have been appreciated.
“Maybe he’s a bit responsible, but…”
The auctioneer interrupted Miriam by calling for the first bid. Lydia jumped to join with the rest of the bidders. Was her eagerness too obvious? She wished her datt were still alive to give her advice.
The rumble of the first bids began like the intermittent thunder of a faraway storm. As the bidders increased, the fervor pitched faster. Lydia sat on the edge of her chair as though lightning might strike her. All of the sudden, the bidding slowed. Several bidders had thinned to a few, and Lydia was amazed to find herself still alive among them.
She had better free her mind of distractions—the smell of the straw beneath her feet, the flap of the canvas roof above her… Focus, focus. Wasn’t that what Datt used to say? Focus on the task at hand.
She concentrated on the auctioneer and an Englischer in the corner of her periphery. She’d met many non-Amish neighbors and businessmen since opening her shop, but she didn’t recognize this one. Unlike the Amish stranger who watched with his jaw squared in concern, this man was relaxed as he upped the price time and again. He was confident about something, for sure. Was the auction a game to him?
Her pulse buzzed in her ears. This was her life, not an amusing way to pass the time.
The auctioneer looked at her. The third-to-last bidder must have bailed. Lydia lifted her card to an amount that squeezed every penny from her account. She had no collateral or credit for a loan. The bid had to be her last.
The man countered and waited. So smug.
She had rented the large farmhouse, remodeled it with her savings from five years as a teacher in the Amish school, and then turned it into a profitable business. Yet this man waltzed into her community to buy it right out from under her.
Lydia raised her number.
His expression remained unchanged. He bid again.
She’d go until she saw him sweat. Her card sailed into the air over and over again.
The Amish men began to murmur. The handsome Amish stranger was staring at her. With concern or admiration? She couldn’t take time to wonder. She looked back at her opponent.
The Englisch bidder no longer slouched against the tent pole. He upped the price. And Lydia countered. The auctioneer’s cadence carried across a room full of people gone silent.
Miriam grabbed Lydia’s hand and squeezed hard enough to break every one of her fingers. If the man didn’t bid, Lydia was in worse trouble than she’d thought possible from this day.
One last bid. Lydia held her breath. The cotton fabric of her apron pressed into her palms as she dried them. What would she do if he didn’t go for it?
The man wiped perspiration from his forehead and raised his card.
“Going, going…gone.”
The gavel dropped with a thud, and the echo of splintered dreams reverberated through Lydia’s heart.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Amy Grochowski 

Amy Grochowski's deep appreciation for the Amish faith and way of life stems from six years of living and working with a Beachy Amish family, as well as her own Anabaptist roots. Her debut novel, Forever Home, was a pre-published winner of Romance Writers of America's Maggie Award and a semi-finalist in ACFW's Genesis Contest. She is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers Int'l. 

Amy spent her childhood in Melbourne, Australia, where her parents worked as church planters. After returning to the States, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia became home. Her real-life romance began on a travel nursing assignment to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she met her husband, David.

After a nursing career of more than twenty years, Amy is now fulfilling her long-awaited dream career as an author of inspirational romance. She is also a full-time homeschool mom for her two boys, one of whom has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and lives with her family in the bustling foothills of North Carolina.

CONNECT WITH AMY: Website Facebook Twitter Instagram  


 

TOUR GIVEAWAY


(1) winner will receive a signed author copy of Forever Home, a classic 200 recipe Mennonite Family Cookbook, a Magic Amish cloth (it really does clean like magic with no chemicals), and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Forever Home JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight June 22, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on June 29, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

 

 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Book Review: The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin

About the Book:

Redeeming the past is a fatal quest.

In the wake of a deadly coup, the capital city of Urian has descended into chaos. Heartbreak and bloodshed await Tanwen and her friends as they discover the unlikeliest leader now rules Tir.

If they want to save the realm, Tannie and the Corsyth weavers must rescue Queen Braith and unmask the Master, ending the strife once and for all. But the success of their hunt depends upon an ally no one trusts.

The Master has a new target in sight: fragile, trauma-scarred Digwyn, whose unique weaving ability could turn the tide of any war. When the desire for vengeance proves too powerful for Digwyn to resist, Tanwen must face a terrifying truth: the fate of Tir rests in the hands of a volatile, shattered girl



My Thoughts:

I binge-read The Weaver Trilogy by Lindsay A. Franklin and The Story Hunter capped off the series with a thrilling conclusion. I didn’t want to put this novel down. I loved seeing the culmination of relationships as well as certain characters finding redemption, confidence, and empowerment. Although the Corsyth weavers fight evil in all the books, The Story Hunter felt more gritty as the characters faced their own natural human vices (selfishness, envy, etc.) in addition to an outside evil force. The Story Hunter is my favorite book in the series.

Trigger warning: One of the characters has experienced sexual assault and it affects her actions and choices. The narrative includes some passionate, beautiful statements aimed at speaking truth and creating a healthy sense of empowerment. 

I recommend reading The Weaver Trilogy in order. The characters go through so much in this trilogy and I was sad to say goodbye to them. Their stories lingered in my mind for days and I expect to reread the series in the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.