Spotlight on Dawn Crandall and ….

Everstone Chronicles [Whitaker House Books]

dc thhThe Hesitant Heiress
After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.
 
Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been “managing her life” isn’t who she thought at all.
Book 1, The Hesitant Heiress releases August 2014
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dc BoundHeartThe Bound Heart 
 
One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.
 
When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption… and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?
Book 2, The Bound Heart releases November 2014
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dc CaptiveImposterThe Captive Imposter 

   

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion at Everston, one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine. Within the week, Estella discovers that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella forms a friendship with the manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley. She soon discovers that he is not simply the manager, but the new owner.
 
Saddened by this fact, Estella severs their friendship. She manages to avoid Dexter until she finds herself fired from her position due to a misunderstanding. Coming to her rescue, Dexter offers her a job as companion to his sister. Though she doesn’t want to be indebted to him, Estella sees no other choice. While rebuilding their friendship, Estella realizes that although she’s been lying to Dexter about her identity, she’s never been freer to be herself in her life. However, when he proposes, she has to tell him the truth—a truth he isn’t happy to find out.

Book 3, The Captive Imposter releases February 2015

Are you a fan of stand alone books or a series? Why?

GIVEAWAY 1 

1 eBook/1 Winner [THH] *US ONLY

GIVEAWAY 2 

THE FIVE WEEKLY PRIZE PACKS: a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

THE GRAND PRIZE (at the end of week six): a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

dcAUTHOR BIO: A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming published, he let her quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a premarriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

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‘The Hesitant Heiress’ by Dawn Crandall

dc thhSTORY: After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

REVIEW: When Amaryllis Brigham’s mother died in a shipwreck, her father sent her to a girls’ school and later to study music at The Boston Conservatory.  At the age of 25, her Aunt Claudine returns to the U.S. after some time spent in France.  She calls Amaryllis home to stay with her and informs Amaryllis that she has been left a large inheritance.  The stipulation is that she must agree to marry by the end of a year.  At first, Amaryllis is taken aback by this because her dream is not necessarily to get married but to open her own music school so she can teach.

Aunt Claudine is especially anxious to pair Amaryllis with the very handsome and very wealthy, Nathan Everstone.  While Amaryllis finds him quite attractive, she is not interested in a relationship with him due to some ill feelings his father, Bram Everstone, has for her.

With the book taking place in the late 19th century, we meet the über rich young people of that day. Many of them are great friends and have known one another all their lives. Many of the young men are attracted to Amaryllis.  Her feelings are that they are mostly attracted to her inheritance instead of her.

As the story proceeds, readers learn bits and pieces of a mystery that slowly reveals the reasons for ill feelings, sad past events and the greed and revenge of some..

I admit that I had to really concentrate to keep up with the characters and plot of this story.  I kept feeling that I had missed something along the way, but it turned out that there was a mystery to be solved that I had not realized at first.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

SPOTLIGHT on ‘Back To You’ by Jessica Scott

BTY JSSTORY: He’s in for the fight of his life . . .

Army captain Trent Davila loved his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. He couldn’t explain the emptiness he felt or bridge the growing distance between him and his family-so he deployed again. And again. And again…until his marriage reached its breaking point. Now, with everything on the line, Trent has one last chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs …if she’ll have him

. . . to win back his only love.
Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family, and she’s just beginning to put the pieces of her shattered heart back together. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won’t be denied. But can she trust that this time he’s back to stay?

REVIEW: This story is a perfect example for why I don’t read many ‘military tropes’. Even knowing that the end will be a happy one, the road to it tends to be fraught with heartbreak and if the author is a good one, as Ms. Scott is, by the end, I’m a total mess.

I also appreciated the author giving me both points of view, Laura’s and Trent’s. I don’t think the story would have been as good if only one point of view was given, regardless of which one. By me getting in both of their heads I was able to connect and sympathize with both characters fully immersing myself into their lives, problems and hard choices both were forced to make over and over.

Watching these two strong, yet vulnerable people connect and try to rebuild their marriage was very touching and inspiring.

Ms. Scott portrayed these two so well that they were too real in my mind. Despite its heart wrenching story, I found it well written, researched and executed. The romance was heartwarming and sensual while the plot moved the story at a nice pace.

Back to You lives up to its title fully and if you love military trope, please make sure to check it out. In my book, this is a must read.

EXCERPT: here.

Buy Links: B&N / IndieBound / Books A Million / iTunes / Amazon

Tell us your favorite genre and trope! Got any recommendations?

GIVEAWAY: 1 Winner/1 Print Copy

*US ONLY!

Jessica ScottAUTHOR BIO: USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She’s pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine‘s Americans of the Year for 2012.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Anna Belfrage’s Book Blast of …

The  Graham Saga

ab aritwThis is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.

It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing aab lcitw most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.

In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World – and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex’ opinion.

ab tpsSometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn’t let go.

Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love – always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With ab anla throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn’t been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side.

At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn’t want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering ab sitgfervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day?

Still, dear reader, it isn’t always easy. At times Alex thinks he’s an overbearing bastard, at others he’s sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and … She is his woman, he is her man. That’s how it is, that’s how it always will be.

‘Revenge & Retribution’ 

ab rar

BOOK BLURB: ‘Revenge & Retribution’ is the sixth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveler Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Life in the Colony of Maryland is no sinecure – as Alex and Matthew Graham well know. But nothing in their previous life has prepared them for the mayhem that is about to be unleashed upon them.

Being labeled a witch is not a good thing in 1684, so it is no wonder Alex Graham is aghast at having such insinuations thrown at her. Even worse, it’s Matthew’s brother-in-law, Simon Melville, who points finger at her. Not that the ensuing hearing is her main concern, because nowadays Alex’s entire life is tainted by the fear of what Philip Burley will do to them once he gets hold of them.

On a sunny May afternoon, Philip finally achieves his aim and over the course of the coming days Alex sees her whole life unravelling, leaving her family permanently maimed.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Alex also has to cope with the loss of one of her sons. Forcibly adopted by the former Susquehannock, Samuel is dragged from Alex’s arms to begin a new life in the wilderness. How is Alex to survive all this? And will she be able to put her damaged family back together?

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo

*GIVEAWAY: 1 Commenter/1 eBook or Paperback copy of your choice!

*International 

Anna BelfrageAUTHOR BIO: I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

‘Emulsion’ by Suki Singh [Movie Review]

Emulsion-Movie-Poster-Suki-SinghPLOT SUMMARY: EMULSION is a Psychological Thriller about a man looking for his missing wife. When Isabella [Claudia Bassols] mysteriously disappears from a car park her husband, Ronny [Sam Heughan], becomes obsessed with finding her.

In an attempt to stay close to her he even takes a job at the car park. It becomes his life. One night a prostitute is attacked in the car park and bundled into the boot of a car. Ronny chases the assailant deep into a forest where he eventually locates the car empty, apart from a reel of film. As Ronny avidly views the film he discovers the truth about his wife’s disappearance that changes his life forever.

MY THOUGHTS: This review is in no means written by a film critic, just someone who loves the Film Noir genre.

Film Noir, especially a Psychological Thriller movies are not for all. If you’re not a fan of film noir, everything in this film will be over your head. I am speaking from the experience of watching it with someone who just ‘didn’t get it’. On the other hand, if you love the genre, you’ll like the movie because it is visually stunning, the story is mind twisting and the end is pure brilliance.

Award Winning Director Suki Singh

Award Winning Director Suki Singh

The story is intriguing, compelling and mind-boggling. The audience is in constant state of flux as they try to figure out the mystery of Isabella’s disappearance, much like Ronny is and all kudos must go to director Suki Singh for an excellent job of keeping us in the dark until the very end.

As for the performance of the players, I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with any of them but Sam Heughan and he has such an expressive face, that you could feel and not just see the emotions his character was going through, and by the end of the movie I felt sadness, triumph and an overwhelming urge to hug Ronny Maze.

Sam Heughan as Ronny Maze

Sam Heughan as Ronny Maze

This movie is not playing in every local theater, but it is playing around the country and here is the FB page so you can check out if it’s in your neighborhood. I saw it courtesy of the director, Suki Singh, tugg.com and my FB Outlandish Chicago group organizers, Lori McKiernan and Nicole Spataro. My thanks to all those involved that have brought this to an audience that can appreciate these small and independent films which pack a mighty punch.

Emulsion Official Site

Suki Singh Facebook for Emulsion

‘Chasing Lord Mystery’ by Aileen Fish

af clmSTORY: Lord Northcotte is not in the holiday spirit when he joins his sister’s family shortly after the brutal death of a friend. Discovering a matchmaking scheme is afoot, he tells them he will never marry Lady Miriam or any other woman. Now if only his heart would listen.

Lady Miriam’s mother accused her of chasing Lord Mystery after a noble act by a handsome gentleman six years ago became the measure of all other men. Now he’s staying at the home where she’d hoped to escape a summons from her grandfather, the Duke of Danby. Terrified Northcotte will recognize her and reveal the contents of the scandalous letter she wrote him years ago, she can’t decide which is the bigger threat: the duke armed with a special license, or Lord Mystery, who carries a secret she’d never live down.

REVIEW: Robert Hurst, Earl of Northcotte, is soured on marriage after learning that a friend’s wife had killed her husband using a fire iron.  Even though the man had mistresses, his friends could not understand why that would cause the woman to kill him.  *insert laugh* The group of six friends had gathered together to remember their friend and to vow never to marry.

At Lady Mariam Thornhill’s first season four years earlier, she was feeling quite down due to the lack of men wanting to make her acquaintance.  After one such man actually insulted her, another man immediately asked her to dance.  They had not been introduced first so she never caught his name, but for years afterward she remembered how handsome he was.  She referred to him as Lord Mystery.  Since that time, she had not had any men interested in her and had thus resigned herself to be a spinster.  Her grandfather, the Duke of Danby, kept pushing her to marry and she was not at all receptive to an arranged marriage.

Christmas is approaching and Lady Mariam is staying with a good friend to be with her during the birth of her friend’s baby.  When more friends join them for the holiday, she realizes that one of the guests, Lord Northcotte, is her Lord Mystery.  While she is thrilled to see him again, she is afraid he will recognize her.  At one time she had sent him a letter that was rather embarrassing at the time and she would be mortified to come face-to-face with him now.  Will she be stuck with an marriage arranged by her grandfather or is there some way she can attract her handsome Lord Mystery to be her groom?

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Governess Affair’ by Courtney Milan

cm tgaSTORY: She will not give up…

Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.

He cannot give in…

Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…

REVIEW: This little gem started the whole Brother Sinister series. It tells the story of Hugo Marshall and Serena Barton.

Hugo is to Duke of Claremont what Ray Donovan [my newest TV obsession; Showtime’s best show of 2013] is to the Hollywood scene, a ‘fixer’ of problems. He makes the duke’s mistakes disappear. In this case, Hugo is given the task to get rid of a stubborn woman that has been plaguing the duke and that just happens to be Miss Serena Barton, and Hugh is having a hell of a time doing it.

This was an extraordinary story about two ordinary people that are brought together by circumstances that were out of their hands. Both characters were strong, and both were determined to fight and succeed in their task and I was fascinated with both. I eagerly anticipated the outcome and was elated with it.

I love stories of survival of the fittest, and this certainly was that, except we had two people that I rooted for, but one could only be the winner!

If you’ve never read this author, I urge you to snatch this novella [it’s still FREE] and start to read this series. It really is a little gem I hope you don’t pass up.

Melanie for b2b