Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review ~ "A Tale of Light and Shadow" by Jacob Gowans

A Tale of Light and Shadow by Jacob Gowans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received from publisher to Review
Genre: Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Romance

Book Description:  Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it, where magic is feared by all but a few, and where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station as a carpenter, but his devotion to her drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives.

At the same time, a secret, dark prophecy has set in motion events that will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas, threatening to eclipse the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship. 

My thoughts: This book has a little bit of everything: Romance, Adventure, Action, Mystery, Magic... I can tell that it is well thought out. Jacob Gowans does a wonderful job at laying the foundations while keeping the story moving. There are plots within plots. It is intriguing how it all works and flows together.

I was pulled into the world of Atolas from the beginning. Henry and Isabelle have a strong love for each other. Unfortunately, her father will do anything to tear them apart, including selling her to be a concubine to an Emperor. They pass through many trials that test the strength of their bond and prove who are their friends.

The book ends on a cliffhanger. I am so grateful that I have the second, Secrets of Neverak, already in my possession. This is a book that you need to find out if there will be a happy ever after. I liked the characters, particularly Isabelle, Maggie, and Henry. Ruther, James. and Brandol all have secrets that make them a little less lovable, but it will be great to find out what it is to drive them to their thoughts and actions.

This is a great book with a little bit of kissing and violence.

About the Author (taken from his webpage):  Jacob Gowans is a dentist currently working in Utah. He is husband to a beautiful wife, and father to four cute children. He shuns all pets. When not working or writing, he enjoys watching sports, reading, running, acting, listening to a variety of music, kissing his wife, internet shopping, and chasing his kids around the house. He is passionate about board games, both old and new.

A Timeless Romance Anthology: Sarah M Eden British Isles Collection

A Timeless Romance Anthology: Sarah M. Eden British Isles Collection by Sarah M. Eden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Description:  The SARAH M. EDEN BRITISH ISLES COLLECTION contains two brand new historical romance novellas A FRIEND INDEED and A HAPPY BEGINNING, as well as four hand-picked readers’ and reviewers’ favorites of Sarah’s popular Timeless Romance Anthology novellas. Readers will love this selection of six historical romance novellas set in the British Isles.

My thoughts: You can't go wrong with a Sarah Eden book. This collection contains six of her short stories, and each one were worth the time in reading. I even re-read a few, and loved them the second time!

The setting for the stories are the British Isles. Some of the characters are rich, and some of them are poor. You will find your imagination in ballrooms and wallowing in the mud. I loved the variety of characters and plot. I really do not think that I could pick a favorite. Every story was well written and had lovable characters.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.  Enjoy time with friends and family.

I do not plan on doing a lot on line over the next week.  My son is returning home from an LDS mission (Chile Santiago South) and I plan on catching up with him and spending much needed time with my family - uninterrupted.  So, have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Novella Review ~ "Twelve Days in December" by Michele Paige Holmes

Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Christmas Romance Novella

Book Description:  A Christmas Novella from the bestselling Hearthfire Romance series by Michele Paige Holmes: 

Five months isn’t enough time to grieve the death of her husband and marry again, but when the unexpected opportunity to take her sister’s place as the bride of wealthy New York businessman, William Vancer, presents itself, twenty-four year-old Charlotte Holbrook agrees. Their marriage of convenience will provide a secure future for her son, while William will be able to claim the inheritance he needs to expand his company westward.

To begin their perfect and perfectly safe arrangement, William allots the last twelve days in December to become acquainted with his new family—a task more easily accomplished than he had imagined. For in Charlotte he finds a tender heart and companion, while stepping into the role of father to her son, brings William a great measure of joy as well. Before the twelve days have passed, he finds himself wishing their marriage of convenience could be something much more.

For Charlotte, every day with William is one of overwhelming gratitude, as he anticipates and provides for her needs, as well as the fondest desires of her heart. More than material comforts, William offers friendship as well, and a loving concern that Charlotte has gone too long without. Guilt ridden, she struggles with her growing attraction and wonders how she can ever remain loyal to her first husband, while allowing herself to love William as he deserves.

My thoughts: This is a very sweet romantic Christmas novella.

Charlotte is a widow and has come for the marriage of her sister to William. A change of circumstance puts Charlotte in a position to marry William instead. This provides security for herself and toddler son. She is willing to help others, giving up some of her own hopes.

This book takes place for twelve days after their wedding. It is a confusing time for both of them and they take their relationship slowly to come to know one other.

I loved how sweetly William and Charlotte try to put each others feelings before their own. William is willing and able to step up as a husband and a father. He immediately takes to Charlotte's son and gives him love and attention.

The process to love isn't always easy but it is wonderful when it happens. I loved that Charlotte was a widow and that her heart wasn't closed up because of the death of her husband. This is a book about second chances and living life after heartbreak.

Buy a kindle edition for $2.99

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Novella Review ~ "Power of the Matchmaker"

Power of the Matchmaker by Karey White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Clean Romance

Book Description:  A prequel novella to the POWER OF THE MATCHMAKER Series
Mystical . . . Beautiful . . . Romantic . . .
12 novels by 12 bestselling authors
Released once a month in 2016
Read the matchmaker’s story to find out where it all starts . . .

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.

Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker.

My thoughts: If the "Power of the Matchmaker" series is anything like the prequel, we are in for a treat.

Mae Li has anxiously awaited the matchmaker pairing her and Chen together. They are in love and want to be together. In a tragic mistake, they are not paired and Chen has decided to not risk his family honor and marry the other girl.

The heartbreak she suffers brings her to a place where she can make better decisions and help guide the destiny of other's lovingly. Through her struggles she is able to become a strong woman who gives selflessly.

This is a great beginning. I loved it from start to finish and look forward to seeing Mae Lin (aka Pearl) in action.

Purchase an eBook copy for $2,99

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review ~ "A Healing Spirit" by Melissa A. Hanson

A Healing Spirit (Riverview Series #2)A Healing Spirit by Melissa A. Hanson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Source: Received eBook to Review
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance

Book Description:  A freak ski accident brings nineteen-year old Mia Kinney within minutes of death. Hurt and scared, Mia is calmed by the southern drawl and clear green eyes of her rescuer. 

Twenty-one year old Dylan Blackburn is one of the first Ski Patrol members on the scene. As his patient is airlifted to the local trauma center, he can’t shake her from his thoughts. 

As Mia fights for her life, Dylan, is haunted by the blond hair beauty, and knows he needs to make sure she’s going to be okay.

With a troubled past Dylan has vowed never to completely open himself up to another girl, but Mia continues to knock down every wall he’s constructed. When his past arrives at his front door and threatens once again someone that he loves, will Dylan be able to save Mia yet again? Or will he be too late this time?

A story of love, friendship, and the determination to turn a horrible experience into something worthwhile.

"A Healing Spirit" is book 2 of the Riverview Series, however each is a standalone story.

My thoughts: This book was hard for me to get into. There were so many characters who had the story told from their point of view. Sometimes the points of view overlapped when it didn't seem necessary.

That being said, I did like that the story focused on some issues that may affect young people. One of Mia's best friends wants more to their relationship than friendship. She handled the situation sensitively and let him know he was important to her.

Mia takes a fall from a ski lift chair. Her recovery is not easy. I liked that her friends and family surrounded her and helped her through a very tough time. The compassion shown through the community was admirable and left me with a feeling of hope for the future. I know it was a fictional book, but parts of it were taken from a real life tragedy that the author describes in the back of the book.

Dylan (Mia's love interest) is struggling emotionally after mental, verbal, and physical abuse from his father. He has issues that are real for many people. I loved the support and acceptance that Mia gave him. He is lucky to have someone like her. I believe that it showed the power of compassion and empathy in helping another deal with traumatic situations.

The only real problem that I had with the book was the writing style. The book contains swearing, kissing, and violence.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Items for a Christ-centered Christmas

I love Christmas time.  I love all of the decorations that I place in my home.  The spirit of goodwill is stronger (unless you go to the mall).  Neighbors take time to take goodies to each other.  Kids are excited.  There are many things that help me feel great at this time of the year.  One of things that becomes hard to remember is that this is the Season where many people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

I love to surround myself with images of the Savior and watch media that helps me remember Him.

I was received a wonderful package in the mail full of things to help my family and I think of the Savior.

First is a beautiful Christus Marble 3" statue.  I was surprised at the detail on such a very small statue.  I am thinking that this would make a great stocking stuffer for my son who will be returning from his mission in the Chile Santiago South Mission on December 29th.  

I watched both "No Ordinary Shepherd" and "He Knows My Name" over the weekend.  "No Ordinary Shepherd" is 22 minutes and "He Knows My Name" is 35 minutes.  The scenes with the Savior healing the afflicted brought tears to my eyes.  Neither video has the best acting, but they bring a very strong spirit of the life and ministry of the Jesus Christ.  I loved that the videos were told through the eyes of children.  

Here are links to the products above.

The next two items are books about Christmas!

"It's All About Christmas"  is 232 pages.  It is illustrated in an old fashioned style, it's a beautiful book.  It is full of Christmas poetry, stories, jokes, traditions, recipes, quotes, etc.

"Words of Christmas" is a short book.  It focuses on reflections of the words associated with Christmas.  You can sit down and read through it once, but is designed to focus on a word per day starting on December 1st.   The purpose is for the reader to gain a deeper appreciation of Christmas and to discover what it means to the individual.  Some of the words: Family, Giving, Light, Christ, etc.

Links to the books:

The final item in the package is a song book of the music of Janice Kapp Perry.  When I flipped through the book I was surprised that some of my favorite songs were written by her,  There are two sections.  The first has 18 of her best loved songs and the second 28 of her Book of Mormon songs.

She introduces songs in the first section that explain how she came to write that piece.  I love the insight!  The pictures are amazing.  It also includes the piano arrangement to the song.  It makes me want to improve my very limited abilities on the piano and play this inspirations music in my home.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Review ~ "An Unlikely Match" by Sarah M. Eden

An Unlikely Match by Sarah M. Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Purchased
Genre: Regency Ghost Romance

Book Description:  The future has never looked brighter for once penniless Nickolas Pritchard. Now in possession of an unforeseen legacy from a distant cousin, he can finally woo the exquisite Miss Castleton, belle of the London Season. What better setting for matchmaking than Ty Mynydd, his ancestral home nestled in the untamed hills of Wales? Ideal, indeed ... except for the ghost. 

For nearly four hundred years, Gwen has walked the halls of the home in which she lived—and died a mysterious death. But despite centuries as the reigning force within her ancient residence, nothing prepares her for the charm and unexpected appeal of Englishman Nickolas. 

A deep and abiding affection grows between the two, tempered by the unbreakable barrier that separates them. They cannot possibly hope for a happily ever after. there can be no future between a man yet living and a woman long dead. 

But how can Nickolas possibly give Gwen up? And how can Gwen face an eternity without Nickolas?

My thoughts: I have read many of Sarah Eden's books and this one was different from the rest. It was a great book to read, just not what I expected.

This book is set during the Regency Period in Wales. Nickolas Pritchard has just received and unexpected inheritance. Orphaned as a young boy, he has been passed from one family to another and doesn't have money to call his own.

With his change of fortune, he invites the object of his affection, Miss Castleton. and her family to join him as guests in his new home. He also invites the Davis family who had been generous in opening their home to him during his time of need. The guest he didn't plan on was the resident ghost, Gwen.

This is a sweet romance story with surprising turns. I wondered how she would pull it all together and she did a great job. Of course, it is exactly what I would expect of Sarah Eden. She has never disappointed me in my expectations of her books.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Blog Tour "Seaside Christmas" by Stacy Claflin + giveaway

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Seaside Christmas by Stacy Claflin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Contemporary Christmas Romance

Book Description:  He can’t stand her. She thinks he’s crazy. Will their feelings stay etched in permanent ink? Cruz Hunter has always stuck out in his small hometown. Now that he’s covered in tattoos, the residents peg him as even more of an outcast. It seems like the whole world is against his dream of opening a local tattoo parlor. When he finally finds the perfect place for his new business, Cruz discovers a pastor and his daughter have already bought it. The only thing more irritating than the change in his plan is Talia, a beautiful and feisty argument in a dress. Cruz would like nothing more than to have her out of his life and his mind, but for some reason, she’s the only thing he can think about. If Cruz and Talia can stop arguing long enough, opposites may do much more than attract.

My thoughts: This is a sweet romance that shows how two people, who appear to be completely different, can be attracted to each other and find happiness.

At first glance, Cruz Hunter would appear to be a rebel. He is an artist who loves tattoos. His dream is to open up his own tattoo parlor and pursue his artistic abilities. The town council and others are afraid that his parlor will attract unsavory characters to their small town and sell the building he had been promised out from under him. They sold it to a pastor and his daughter.

Talia has suffered emotionally from the passing of her mother. She and her pastor father are looking for a fresh start in a new town and are delighted with the old abandoned church they were able to pu
 rchase. They didn't realize that their dream would cause heartache to another.

One thing that I appreciated in this book was the harm in preconceived notions. Many judged Cruz because of his appearance. He even harshly judged himself. He is a wonderful guy who never believed that he measured up. I loved the message of looking past the outside appearance of another and finding their character and heart.

I enjoyed Stacy Claflin's writing style. She kept my interest and the book moved along at a nice pace. This is a clean contemporary romance centered around the Christmas season.  This book is the fifth in a series.  I had only read one before this and had no problem following along.  It can be read as a stand alone.

 add to goodreads

Read an Excerpt
Cruz double-checked the house number and walked up the sidewalk and to their walkway. A street lamp turned on as he walked underneath. He’d gone over what he was going to say countless times. There weren’t any other buildings in town he could use for his tattoo shop—the city council had made it clear the only place he would be allowed to do business was the outskirts of town—so he needed to be convincing if he wanted to talk them out of the building.

His sense of humor and charm had always gotten him out of trouble growing up, so he needed to tap into that. So many times, all he’d had to do was tell a joke and laugh, and his teachers would just melt and let him get away with whatever trouble he’d created. It didn’t work quite as well now that he had facial hair and tattoos, but that wouldn’t stop him from trying.

Cruz walked up the steps to the porch and knocked on the door, avoiding a wreath. It smelled of pine, like it had been freshly made.

Noise sounded from inside, and then the door opened. The blonde chick from the day before—what was her name again?—stood before him, wearing another dress. It was bright yellow with a pattern of tropical flowers. Her hair was pulled back and a floral scent engulfed him—her perfume?

She smiled and stepped back. “Come on in, Cruz.”

And she remembered his name. He forced a smile and nodded a thanks, stepping inside. The house had bare furnishings and almost no decorations, spare a few holiday ones.

Blondie closed the door and then Cruz saw a pile of moving boxes. That’s right. They were new to town. “Nice place.”

“We’re still trying to figure out where everything is. You know how moving is.”

“Not really.”

She raised an eyebrow. 

“But I imagine it’s a pain in the—uh, neck. I grew up in one house, and the only time I moved was when I went to college, and all I packed fit on my motorcycle.”

Her gorgeous blue-green eyes widened. “Really?”

“Don’t look so shocked. I went to UCLA. I graduated, even.”

“That’s not what surprised me. It was because you got everything on a motorcycle.”

He shrugged.

“Isn’t UCLA hard to get into? Less than ten percent get in, don’t they?”

Cruz looked away. “I didn’t really pay attention. Just wanted to hang out in LA for a while.”

“What brought you back here?”

“Sure wasn’t the town. My dad had some health problems and I wasn’t really gettin’ along with the guy I was working for, so I just packed up my bike and came back.”

“Is your dad okay?” Talia’s eyes widened. “Do you guys need anything?”

“No, he’s okay now. Takin’ care of himself and everything. My mom and all five of us brothers help out, too.” 

“Oh, good. Well, if you do need something, you have our number.”

Cruz nodded and slid off his jacket. Her eyes widened as her gaze went over his heavily tattooed arms. He tried to tell if she was judging him or checking them out. It was hard to tell because her expression didn’t reveal anything. He’d been judged before by religious people, making wild assumptions based on his body art.

Cruz flexed both arms and then held out his jacket. “Someplace I can hang this?”


Meet the Hunter brothers of Kittle Falls… The Seaside Hunters novels are a series of contemporary sweet romances. They’re set in the beach town of Kittle Falls, following the Hunter brothers as they make their way back to their hometown and find the loves they couldn’t elsewhere. Each book is a standalone.

StacyAuthor Stacy Claflin I don’t stick to a single genre in my writing, reading, or viewing. My favorite shows include Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Lost Girl, Vampire Diaries, and Once Upon a Time. I've been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my story telling would get me into trouble because I would try to convince others that my stories were real. When I'm not busy writing, I like spending time with my family and friends. I also educate my kids from home.

    $25 Blog Tour Giveaway Giveaway Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/27/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review ~ "Storm" by Kate Palmer

Storm by Kate Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received eBook to review
Genre: Suspense/Romance

Book Description:  A woman rancher struggles to save her ranch, but it’s her heart she’s most in danger of losing.

Storm’s ranch is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy after cattle rustlers strike. When her part-time ranch hand dies under suspicious circumstances, two neighboring ranchers step in to help. In jeopardy of losing the only place that’s ever felt like home, who can she trust with her heart?

My thoughts: Storm is living the life that she wants. She is young and owns her own ranch. She has a hard time making the loan payments, but is positive when she takes the cattle to market, she will be able to may her payments. That's when the unthinkable happens.... someone steals eleven of her herd. The same day she learns that one of her employees has died in a car accident.

She receives help from unexpected people. The first is Dak, the widower neighbor. He was the perfect character to help her through her many rocky trials. I can't say he was perfect, but he owned up to his mistakes and did everything to make them right. He took Storm where she was and helped lift her when she needed it.

Storm is not the only victim of the cattle rustler. There is a bit of mystery and suspense as she tries to figure out who did it.

I loved the sense of community in the book.  The people look out for each other and are helpful.  Kate Palmer did a wonderful job at pulling me into the book and keeping me invested in the plot and characters.

This is a clean romance with mystery. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Kate Palmer's books.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blog Tour Spotlight ~ "A Shenandoah Family Christmas"by Lisa Belcastro + giveaway

Where is Christmas?
Disease, freezing temperatures, and the Revolutionary War bring bitter reality to the Reed home in December 1777. Captain Benjamin Reed is ordered to sail a supply shipment south to General George Washington. Days before Shenandoah’s scheduled departure, Ben’s first mate succumbs to smallpox.

Rebecca Reed had never feared the dreaded disease until her one-year-old daughter Felicity breaks out in the telltale rash. In the cold, dark days of Advent, Rebecca, Ben, and the Reed family wait in prayerful hope as Felicity fights for her life and they wonder who could be next.

With the rest of the family at risk, they decide to obtain the forbidden cowpox vaccine. Ben's brother Jonah, his uncle Isaiah, and Shenandoah’s cook Adam Greene venture off in search of the outlawed vaccine. A blizzard hits. A tree crashes. Jonah crumbles to the ground. A woman with the face of an angel aids Jonah, but is it too late? And where are Adam and Isaiah?

As the death toll rises throughout the Colonies, the Reed family prays for more than one Christmas miracle.

Chapter One

Come on, sweet girl, take a sip of water.” Rebecca Reed held the teaspoon against Felicity’s lips. Although the baby burned with fever, she turned her head away, refusing the water.
Less than two months ago, they’d celebrated Felicity’s first birthday. Now, Rebecca feared her precious girl had contracted a serious case of influenza. For two days, she’d lain limp and despondent, her temperature reduced only with cold compresses and body wraps.
People died from influenza. Lots of people. Rebecca shuddered. She’d grown up untouched by fatal illnesses or the fear of contagious disease. Life in 1777 was so very different from everything she’d lived before she’d unknowingly entered the time portal in her now-husband’s ship, Shenandoah. In this time that was now her present, the colonists were battling Britain for their freedom. Disease and poverty ran rampant and soldiers died every day, victims of starvation, sickness, and freezing temperatures. Rebecca had known all this was going to happen, but she never thought her family might be, or would be, one of the casualties.
Shaking off the thought, Rebecca plunged the damp cloth into the pail of frigid stream water with melting chunks of ice Ben had brought upstairs a half hour ago. She wrung out the excess, then pressed the cloth to Felicity’s neck for a minute. Her temperature had to be close to 103, possibly higher. The cloth warmed almost instantly.
She turned over the beige fabric and placed the cooler side on her daughter’s forehead. Felicity barely moaned, her body wilted from hours of infection.
What Rebecca wouldn’t give for a bottle of children’s ibuprofen, a digital thermometer, and a prescription for Tamiflu. But that was a lifetime ago. Medicine, at least the kind she’d grown up with, wasn’t an option. Herbal treatments, ice baths from the nearly frozen-over stream, and vigilant care were her only options.
Rebecca attempted to give Felicity another sip of feverfew tea she’d boiled and let come to room temperature. The liquid merely dribbled down the side of her sweet little face. Swallowing back sobs, Rebecca rocked Felicity against her chest. “Lord, we need Your healing touch. Please deliver Felicity. Please don’t take my little girl.”
God was close to the sick and brokenhearted. How many times had Rebecca read those verses? Today, she needed to feel Him in the room, next to her, with Felicity. The swag of pine branches and red bow adorning the window reminded her that Christmas was coming. Felicity was too young to understand the holiday’s importance, but Rebecca couldn’t bear to think about Christmas arriving with Felicity still sick . . . or worse.
She kissed her baby on the cheek, then rose and carried her back to the crib. Last week, when General George Washington sent orders that Ben was to sail south before the weekend, Rebecca had moved the crib into the cozy spare room. Ben couldn’t afford to get sick. A fire burned in the hearth of the room that would one day be Felicity’s, and any sisters she might have. Rebecca positioned her in the crib nearer the far wall.
She gingerly lowered Felicity to the bed, which Ben had lined with sailcloth to protect the mattress during the cooling sessions. If only her baby girl would stir, resisting the separation from her mama. She didn’t. Her fourteen-month-old body didn’t react. Not so much as one finger reached out.
Another sob built in Rebecca’s throat. She fought against the sadness and fear. She would cry later, after Felicity was better, after this nightmare was over.
Determined to beat whatever ailed her daughter, Rebecca dunked a sheet into the cold water, and then covered Felicity. The goal was to bring her fever down and keep it down. She had halved two large onions and put them on rags around the crib. Whether it was an old wives’ tale or not, many women swore by sliced onions for guarding against germs. Rebecca would do all she could. She couldn’t fail Felicity. Nothing else mattered.
She glanced out the window. The diminishing light of the setting sun signified the dark days of winter and gave Rebecca an uncomfortable twist in her stomach. She moved across the small room and lit the oil lamp. She needed light—and hope.
Sitting in the rocking chair next to Felicity’s crib, Rebecca began singing the nursery rhymes of her childhood. The songs filled her with sweet memories of her mother and grandmother. She willed Felicity to hear her. How she longed to see her daughter rock from side to side, smiling as her mama sang to her.
Rebecca!” Ben burst through the door. “I need to see Felicity.”
Startled, Rebecca jumped to her feet. “What’s wrong?”
Let me examine Felicity first, then I shall explain.”
Her husband, Captain Benjamin Reed, was a kind and loving man, and also a man of detail. He ran a tight ship, missed little, and had earned the respect of his crew and fellow patriots. Feeling their daughter’s forehead, opening her mouth and examining her lips, Ben shook his head.
A new grip of fear crushed Rebecca’s heart. “What is it?”
My love, I believe our daughter has smallpox.”
No!” Rebecca wobbled, her body folding in on itself as the news delivered a brutal blow to her mind and body. Smallpox . . .
The dreaded disease that claimed thousands of victims over the last year, the scourge that Rebecca had taken such care to protect her daughter from—how could it have happened? It wasn’t possible for her to be sick. It just couldn’t be!
How do you know? How can you be so sure?”
Ben drew a cloth from the bucket of ice water near the crib and laid it on Felicity’s head. “I sent notice to the crew that we were to sail to Delaware Bay to bring supplies to our troops who would winter at Valley Forge. A messenger arrived at the docks an hour ago with a note from William’s father. Upon discovering I was not present, the stable lad gave the note to Jonah, who arrived moments hence with the missive. William is covered in pox, severely ill, and in isolation.”
Rebecca gasped. Ben’s first mate, William Barton, was such a strong, rugged young man, she couldn’t imagine him sick. Felicity had looked so small in his arms the last time he visited—
William was here two weeks ago. He played with Felicity. He—” Rebecca couldn’t finish her sentence, couldn’t say aloud what her mind did not want to hear.
“Aye, my love. It seems that the day after he returned from our meeting, William broke out in the rash. I remember how tired he looked, but I made no inquiry as to his health. William has never been one to complain. He made no mention of a fever or feeling ill.”
Rebecca shuddered. William was the Barton’s only son, the oldest of five children. “Is Jonah downstairs? I want to write Mrs. Barton a letter.”
Ben shook his head. “I sent my brother on his way immediately, telling him that our darling Felicity had been ill and that I now feared she could have smallpox.”
Running a finger along Felicity’s forehead, Rebecca felt for any sign of the telltale bumps. Nothing. Maybe it was simply the flu. The flu was bad enough, but nothing compared to smallpox. There was hope. “Is anyone else sick?”
“Nay.” Ben kissed Rebecca’s cheek, and then gently pried open Felicity’s lips to check her gums more thoroughly. No spots. Easing a finger between her gums, Ben opened Felicity’s mouth. No spots.
Nothing,” Rebecca said, the relief
Ben cupped her chin and looked into Rebecca’s eyes. “I do not wish to give you false hope, Becca. We must be prepared for the worst. In the coming days, the course of the disease will reveal itself. Or it will not.”
What if Ben was right? What if William died? What if that dreaded disease had its grip on her daughter?
Ben wrapped his strong arms around them, and began to pray. Rebecca buried her face in the crux of Felicity’s neck and listened to her husband call upon the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies . . .”

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About the Author:  Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard. She loves time with her family and friends, running, gardening, outdoor activities, cooking, chocolate, reading, traveling, a healthy dose of adventure, and her cat, Ben, who keeps her company while she creates fictional lives for the numerous characters living inside her head.

Lisa runs as an ambassador for TEAM 413 (, and has completed a marathon (26.2 miles) in all fifty states.

Lisa’s stories are set on the Vineyard amidst the magnificence of the ocean, the beauty of sandy beaches, rolling hills, and ancient cliffs, as well as the people and events that make the Island so very unique.

When she’s not at her desk, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, training to run the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge in January 2016, walking the beach looking for sea glass, or enjoying a great meal while she pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style Magazine.

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December 18--Captive Dreams Window
December 22--Anna Weaver Hurtt, Inspirational Author Red Headed Book Lady

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Blast ~ "The Secret Life of Daydreams" by Lucinda Whitney + giveaway

Secret Life of DaydreamsThe Secret Life of Daydreams by Lucinda Whitney Six years after a painful divorce, Josh Conrad is happy traveling the world as a photographer. When he arrives in Portugal, he plans to complete the assignment as quickly as possible. What he doesn’t plan for is Sofia, the girl he baptized eleven years earlier on an LDS mission, and soon he’s making excuses to prolong his trip.Sofia Monteiro leads a structured life in Braga, Portugal, teaching high school by day and caring for her mother by night. After she reconnects with Josh through mutual friends, the memory of a failed relationship and her new graduate program are enough reasons to stay away from him. As they collaborate on a project, Josh is wary of repeating his old mistakes and Sofia hesitates to spend time with an American who’s only passing through. Can two people with wounded hearts bring themselves to trust their dreams to each other?
Sofia walked back to meet Josh and they strolled together past the deck at the reception center and the start of the trail. She unfolded the map and held it up between them.She pointed at the spots of interest. “This is the suggested route. The main road goes up the hill to the western fortification wall. At the acropolis, there’s another wide road that intersects in the opposite direction.” She circled several areas. “These areas are the residential nucleus and along the way we can see the remains of the round dwellings and the more common rectangular ones.” There was more but she looked up to Josh. “Are you okay with following this route?” “I’m here to follow you.” He swept his right arm in front of her. “Just lead the way.” Sofia straightened and pocketed the map. Josh carried too much and she hesitated. “Wouldn’t it be easier for you to use the equipment if I carry the backpack?” He paused for a moment and surveyed the area then chuckled. “Sneaky, aren’t you? I know what you’re trying to do here.” Why did guys always think they had to do everything to prove their virility? Such a macho thing. She splayed her hands on her hips. “It’s the twenty first century. I can carry my share. Besides, this is more like a business outing, not a date. Which means you don’t have to carry stuff for me.” She extended her hand for the backpack. “What if I believe in chivalry? You won’t give me a chance to practice it?” “And what if I’m a feminist? You won’t respect my views?” She was pushing him now and enjoying the banter. Josh eyed her and held quiet, the corner of his mouth twitching. Sofia wanted to laugh. He was probably trying to figure out how serious she was about feminism. After a few seconds, he set down the tripod and removed the backpack, but his eyes crinkled with a lack of seriousness belied by his actions. Sofia took the backpack from him and put it on. It wasn’t even as heavy as she’d expected. “See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?” She started up the trail then turned back to Josh. “And you still have your man card intact,” she added with a smile. Josh laughed. “Sassy, aren’t you?” “Come on, we don’t have all day,” she pressed in a teasing tone. add to goodreads
Praise for the Book "Lucinda Whitney's The Secret Life of Daydreams whisks readers away to Braga, Portugal, a setting so vivid with color, texture, and life, they'll want to book a flight and travel there themselves. Josh is the hero many of us dream of, and Sofia a heroine who holds out for all she deserves. Overall a delightful romance far from the ordinary in both distance and scope." -- Michele Paige Holmes "The romance is fantastic and with enough tingle to make my heart flutter. The conflict between the characters is believable and I longed for them to work it out, even though it wouldn't be easy." -- Laura D. Bastian "The Secret Life of Daydreams is a story that explores the question "What if you got a second chance with the one that got away?" Readers will be rooting for Sofia and Josh to find a way to make their dreams come true despite the obstacles life puts in front of them."-- Sally Johnson "This book was a delightful journey. I loved getting to know Josh and Sofia, cheering for them, growling at them, and sharing a happy sigh or two with them. The gorgeous setting of Portugal was an added bonus!"-- Alison Woods
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Cindy WhitneyAuthor Lucinda Whitney Lucinda Whitney was born and raised in Portugal, where she received a master’s degree from the University of Minho in Braga in Portuguese/English teaching. She’s a cancer survivor, and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Salt Lake Temple Square Visitors Center mission in Utah.She lives in northern Utah with her husband and four children. When she’s not reading and writing, she can be found with a pair of knitting needles in winter, or tending her herb garden in the summer. She also works part-time as a substitute teacher.
  50_Amazon_Paypal   Book Blast Giveaway - $50 Amazon Gift Card or $50 in Paypal Cash Ends 1/3/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway