Posts Tagged ‘What We’re Reading’
Posted on May 7, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Hello, my name is Shannon and I am a lifetime primper. I love makeup. I love big hair. Oh, if only the 80′s big hair would come back. And since Rose’s heroine from Wedding on the Rocks is a beauty advisor, I’m certain we would bond.
From the time I knew what makeup was, around nine years old, I wanted to wear it. And I do. I don’t go anywhere without it. Not even to the mail box and definitely not Walmart.
My love for makeup and big hair sent me to cosmetology school. Oh, was I in my element training to make women beautiful. It would be so glamorous. But, it wasn’t. I ended up with hair in my teeth, my bra, and embedded in the bottom of my foot. You haven’t felt pain until you’ve had a freshly clipped piece of hair stuck in your foot like a splinter. I worked as a hairdresser for ten years and hung up my non-glamorous scissors.
But I still love hair and makeup. Many moons ago, when I was 7 months pregnant and on bed rest with nothing else to do, I watched a Dr. Phil episode. He had a lady on there that never left the house without her makeup. I saw no problem with that. I decided she was insane when Dr. Phil talked her into taking her makeup off–ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!!!!!
I’ve compiled lots of tips over the years–from experience and cosmetology school and you’re getting them free. I usually share these when I’m the speaker at ladies’ retreats. So listen up:
Beauty Tip #1 – Moisturizer doesn’t work on a dry face. Steps: Cleanse your face. Pat water on. Let air dry and apply moisturizer.
Beauty Tip #2 – Always apply moisturizer every morning and every night. Dry skin causes wrinkles. Seal the moisturizer in with foundation.
Beauty Tip #3 – Dry skin = wrinkles. Tanning = dry skin. Don’t tan your face. If you tan the rest of your body and you end up pale-faced, use a bronzer.
Beauty Tip #4 – Eyeliner defines your eyes. Even if you don’t take the time for eyeshadow, line your eyes.
Beauty Tip #5 – Foundation seals moisturizer in. It doesn’t do any good to moisturize if you don’t seal it in.
Beauty Tip #6 – Get your hair trimmed every 6 weeks. Getting rid of split ends maintains a sleek look and keeps hair healthy.
Beauty Tip #7 – Translucent powder smooths and gives the illusion of perfection. After applying makeup, pat with loose translucent powder.
Beauty Tip #8 – Neutral brown or gray shadow looks good with any skin tone.
Beauty Tip #9 – Skin and hair fade as you age. If you color your gray, go about two shades lighter than your used-to-be natural color.
Beauty Tip #10 – Chlorine and sun dry skin and hair. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Beauty Tip #11 – Never pull down on the delicate skin underneath the eye. Not to apply makeup or put in contacts. Causes bags.
Beauty Tip #12 – Bangs soften a long forehead.
Beauty Tip #13 – Hair parted down the middle draws attention to your nose. Which is fine, if you have a pretty one.
Beauty Tip #14 – If your jaw is square, wear your hair in a rounded style to soften angles.
Beauty Tip #15 – If your face is round, wear your hair in a blunt, squared style to soften.
Beauty Tip #16 – Test foundation on your wrist for color match.
Beauty Tip #16 – Test foundation on the inside of your wrist for color match.
Beauty Tip #17 – The secret to great eyeshadow: blending.
Beauty Tip #18 – The secret to great blush: blending.
Beauty Tip #19 – Get your eyebrows professionally waxed. Then pluck what grows back in.
Final Beauty Tip #20 – Embrace your age–whatever it is. If you feel good about yourself, you look good.
HOW CAN YOU WIN A COPY OF WEDDING ON THE ROCKS?
Rose is generously offering not one but TWO copies of Wedding on the Rocks AND TWO copies of her previous release Rose of Sharon to readers who comment during the next two weeks and let us know about their most unusual job or a beauty secret and/or mishap. That’s 4 chances to win a book every time you comment here at Inkspirational Messages in the next two weeks.
Contest closes Friday, May 17 at midnight (central time). It is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.
Posted on February 12, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Dylan Taylor. Just his name almost makes me swoon. It’s not his picture on the cover, though that’s pretty yummy too, but the way Denise Hunter wrote him that makes me palpitate.
I started reading The Trouble with Cowboys not liking Dylan. I’d gotten a glimpse of him in Book 2 in Denise’s A Big Sky Romance series. I thought Dylan was a ladies’ man, a player, a playboy running from commitment. And Annie, the heroine did too. But we were both wrong. Dylan’s not like that at all.
In scene one, he chipped away at my resolve by worrying about his horse. In his second scene, he showed he loves kids. And before I knew it, I was in love. This handsome cowboy was deeply wounded using his carefree facade to hide behind. Months after reading the book, I can still hear his slow drawl, see his swagger, feel the beckoning of his dimple.
Here’s the blurb: Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.
Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.
Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.
Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.
The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.
Usually when I read a series, I can pick a favorite book and sometimes there’s even one book I’m disappointed in. Not so with this series. Since The Trouble with Cowboys is Book 3 in the series, readers should begin with Book 1 – A Cowboy’s Touch, then Book 2 – The Accidental Bride . Just see if you can keep from falling in love with Wade, Travis, and Dylan. Come on, I dare you.
Posted on November 27, 2012 - by Stacy Monson
Even at my age (a closely guarded secret – although my love for Trixie Belden books might be a dead give-away), I still love the feel and smell and look of a brand-new, untouched book. Fiction or non, an author I love or one I’m about to meet – a new book is a treasure. Here are some books that will make great gifts – for yourself or for others (preferably both!).
I rarely pick books from the mystery/suspense genre, but I have a new favorite author thanks to the ACFW conference in September – Davis Bunn. I am currently reading his 2011 release, “Lion of Babylon.” Talk about on-the-edge-of-your-seat action! While I don’t prefer to bite my nails off while I’m reading, that’s what I’m doing with this book. It’s a fast-paced, well-written story that pulls you in from the start.
“Marc Royce worked for the State Department on a variety of clandestine assignments – that is, until personal issues led to his dismissal. When Alex Baird goes missing in war-torn Baghdad, State comes calling again. Alex is an intelligence agent – and a close friend of Royce. Three others have also dropped out of sight – a nurse, an aid worker, a wealthy young Iraqi. Are these cases linked? Rumors circulate about a kidnapping conspiracy, yet both American and local officials refuse to pursue it. Blocked at every turn, Royce eventually unearths a trail of secret encounters between sworn enemies. What he discovers could transform the course of rivalry and reconciliation through the Mideast. As the human and political drama escalates, can one man summon the courage to make a difference?”
When I finish “Lion of Babylon,” I plan to read the next book in the series, “Rare Earth,” (July 2012) which continues the escapades of Marc Royce. If ever you want a hero to swoon over, root for and fall in love with – this is the guy! These books, however, will truly make great gifts for women and men alike from teens on up.
A book that I’m waiting for with bated breath (whatever that means) is Katie Ganshert’s second novel, “Wishing on Willows” (March 2013). I truly loved her first book, “Wildflowers in Winter,” and have impatiently looked forward to the follow-up.
This story follows Robin, one of the characters in the original story, as she tries to move past her grief and build a future for her fatherless son. Katie’s characters are deep, wounded, multi-layered and yet still easy to connect with and care about.
“Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender? A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa, she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides. So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight. As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own. With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.”
So this is what I’m reading now and what’s on my wish list for future reading. Also on my list is time – free time to read these and all the other great books out there.
Posted on October 23, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
Naming characters is one of my favorite things about writing a book. I’ve used several names I circled in the baby book when I was pregnant, before I knew my son’s gender.
Laken, Shell, Kendra, Lacie became heroines in published books. Paige and Lexie lurk in unpublished works. Jenna and Caitlyn will soon see the light of day. All these are circled in my baby name book. Rayna—another published heroine—I invented. Hers is the only heroine name I’ve ever come up with on my own.
From real life, I used to work with a woman named Adrea (AdrEEuh) and loved her name. I used it in my first published book. Another coworker had a daughter named Devrie (DevrEE). Her story hasn’t been published yet, but she’s waiting in the wings.
My next heroine is Natalie. I’m not happy with her name. She was a side character in all three rodeo books. And I don’t take as much care with my side characters. In my books, heroines and heroes get unique names, side characters more common. When I got the chance to continue the series, I knew Natalie’s story needed to be told. I wish I’d named her something more unique now. But since she’s been in three books already, it’s too late to change her name. It’s not that I don’t like the name, it’s just not unique enough.
I did change a child’s name. In book 1 and 2 of my rodeo series, there was a child whose father died before he was born. The child became Little Mel after his father. In book 3, the story of Little Mel’s mother, the child was a little older and it was getting old calling him Little Mel. In the very first chapter, I showed his mother thinking about how she used to call him Little Mel. Readers learn the child’s name is really Maxwell, his mother’s maiden name, but she called him Little Mel after his father. After her friend told her the boy needed his own name, he became Max.
Grayson, Hayden, Clay, Quinn became heroes in published books. Braden and Reece lurk in unpubbed land. All came from potential names for our son that my husband didn’t like as much as I did. Okay, a few, he really hated.
Stetson was the only hero name I came up with on my own. It hailed back to the TV show, Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Remember that one? Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson. He was a spy and his name was Lee Stetson. I decided Stetson would be a great first name and thought it would be a great name for a son if you married a cowboy. I didn’t, so I christened my rodeo clown with the name. For my rodeo series, I looked up a lot of bull rider names too. Guess what, there’s a bullrider named Stetson. Guess I wasn’t as creative as I thought.
From real life, we know a young gospel singer named Ryler. I thought it was such a cool name and asked if I could use it. Ryler was sixteen when the book came out. It’s a running joke in his family the way I described my hero–Ryler as a big brick of a man.
I also have fun with last names sometimes. Ryler Grant because my husband’s name is Grant. Besides being a rodeo clown, Stetson Wright is a virgin/youth director committed to true love waits. I had fun with the formerly promiscuous heroine
thinking of him as Dudley Do Wright. Grayson Sterling is the preacher with sterling character and the heroine’s Prince Sterling.
Garrett Steele—a hardened country singer, Lane Grey—a rodeo pickup man (the kind who pick up the cowboys out of the bronc’s way, not the kind who pickup women). I named Lane after Lane Frost, but I thought it was fun for his name to rhyme with western author Zane Grey. Mitch Warren—a Texas ranger rounds out my next three heroes.
I’ve also gotten names out of the phone book. I love using last names for first names—like Miller for a first name. I got the name Holland Fleming for a powerful businessman in an unpublished work from a writer’s conference brochure—the last names of two speakers for the event.
I just finished up Denise Hunter’s Big Sky Romance series. I love her cowboy names: Wade Ryan, Travis McCoy, and Dylan Taylor. I wonder if Denise looked up bullrider names for the series. From her Nantucket series, I loved hero–Lucas Wright. I fell flat for Lucas. He was such a great guy. He’d loved the heroine from afar for several years and was there when she needed him most. In my defense, I wrote Stetson Wright’s story before I read Denise’s book.
Writers—where do you get your character names? Readers—what are your favorite character names that have stuck with you over the years?
Posted on August 2, 2012 - by Shari Barr
With a to-be-read pile that grows every time I enter a bookstore, it’s hard to narrow it down to the ones I’ll probably read first, but I’ll give it a whirl.
One of my all-time favorite authors is Lynn Austin. Everything I’ve read of hers’ is wonderful, so I’m sure the one I plan to read next won’t disappoint me.
The back cover blurb of Though Waters Roar reads,
“Thank goodness you’re such a plain child. You’ll have to rely on your wits.”
So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn’t served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.
So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I’ve been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.
The police say her father’s death was suicide. Kelly Warren says it was murder—and she has new evidence to prove it. Detective Cole Taylor doesn’t put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play. But when Kelly ends up in the ER with a life-threatening medical condition, Cole digs deeper—and discovers a startling secret that links her to a long-ago crime. Is history repeating itself? And does someone want Kelly silenced?
With books like these waiting to be read, I almost wish summer wasn’t almost over. Honestly, though, with the heat we’ve had this year I’ll actually be glad to see the crisp days of fall. Of course, that means there’s no better time to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. Maybe then my to-be-read pile will start to dwindle.
Posted on July 5, 2012 - by Shari Barr
When it’s hot enough to croak outside, there’s nothing I’d rather do than curl up in the air conditioning with a good book. If the middle-grade girl in your life feels the same way, I recommend a series that’s been around awhile but has become one of my favorites though I first read them as an adult.
Since I loved the Little House books as a kid, it’s not surprising that I was fascinated with the series written decades later featuring Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother Caroline. If you loved the stories about Laura, chances are you’ll like these books too, even if don’t have an 8-12 year old girl itching for a good read.
One of my favorite books in The Caroline Years is “Little City by the Lake” by Celia Wilkins, the sixth book in the series. When fifteen-year-old Caroline Quiner leaves her pioneer home in Wisconsin to attend Milwaukee Female College to become a teacher, she is fascinated at the lifestyle her aunt and uncle provide for her while living with them. Caroline’s social life is never boring, whether she’s attending dances or abolitionist meetings. As graduation day approaches, she contemplates teaching in the city or returning to her country roots.
When Caroline begins her first teaching position near her family’s home, she is reacquainted with the neighbor boy, Charles Ingalls. As their friendship turns to something more, Caroline realizes she will soon face a decision to either stay with her family near the only home she’s ever known or follow Charles on his dreams to head west.
If you or your young reader like these books you’ll enjoy the stories of other generations of Little House women. The Martha Years books tell stories of Laura’s great-grandmother born in 1782. The Charlotte Years are told through the voice of Laura’s grandmother born in 1809. Finally The Rose Years series tells the life of Laura’s daughter born in 1886.
Posted on April 17, 2012 - by JerriLynn
My chances to drop everything and read have grown so few and far between that sometimes I feel like I’ve lost a best friend. The last couple of years have been horrible in terms of finding time to read. I’m so busy between my own schedule and my daughter’s that even finding a few minutes at night to read has been a stretch.
But recently, I decided I missed my old friend (Story) so much that I needed to MAKE time to read. And so I have. Just one book. And it’s taking me longer than I would have liked to finish it, but I’m enjoying the ride. That’s what reading has always been for me. A ride. It’s a way to get outside of my own life and for a short while jump into someone else’s as the hero or heroine of a book. It’s a chance to do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do, and honestly, that I probably wouldn’t want to do if it weren’t for the safety of book pages.
Why is it so hard to find time to read? Especially when it’s so good for you? Reading stimulates the brain and gives it a break at the same time. While your head is caught up in an alternate reality, your brain can take over the problems that you’ve been worrying and try to make sense of them. Maybe, a solution appears while you’re in this other world, living this other life. Maybe not, but if you’re anything like me, there are at least some interesting new insights when you emerge from the fictional world.
With the reverence I have for reading, you would think it would be something I would make more time for. But can you believe, I forgot how healthy losing myself in a good book can be? I do. Until I finally get to the point where I just can’t NOT read. Once I sit down with a book, I remember everything I love about it. So, I’m making more time to drop everything and read right now. I’m sure that in the future, I’ll forget again. I’ve been through this cycle so many times. But for right now? Now I’m going to pick up my current mystery and curl up in my current chair, and go live another life for a little while. How about you? Doesn’t that sound more fun than worrying over what’s currently in your brain?
Posted on January 17, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
Shannon here: This fall–in between deadlines–I set out to find an agent and my writing twin. When a writer sends proposals to agents or editors, we’re supposed to compare our books to published novels. I needed a published author who writes similar to me to compare myself to.
I’d heard of Denise Hunter, seen her at the American Christian Writers Conference, and knew she was a best-selling contemporary romance author. I bought The Convenient Groom and immediately wished I’d come up with such a great premise.
At ACFW this year, I introduced myself to Denise, told her why I bought her book and how much I loved it. She asked if I’d found my writing twin. Not by a longshot. Denise is a much better writer than me.
Since then I’ve read A Cowboy’s Touch, Driftwood Lane, The Accidental Bride, and Smitten. I read the last two in one weekend. Both of them.
I’ve discovered so many authors with a book I love, but then I’m often disappointed by at least one of their books or I don’t like the others as well as the first book I read by them. Not so with Denise Hunter. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Next on my list–Seaside Letters. So without further ado, here’s Denise:
- What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this past year – craft, career, writing life, etc? How did you solve it?
My biggest writing challenge is finding my way through the middle of my stories. It really is like driving at night, and you can only see as far as your headlights will shine. I get through it with lots of prayer and lots of forcing myself to sit and work when I’d rather be doing anything else (laundry, dusting, toilets, ANYTHING).
Shannon: Okay, maybe we are twins. The middle befuddles me too. But not enough to make me want to clean or do laundry.
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be?
I enjoy design—actually started college as a commercial art major—so that’s what I’d do. Maybe even designing book covers to combine my interests.
- Where is the coziest spot in your home?
My spot on the sofa/recliner. That’s actually where I work.
- What is your favorite time of the day?
The evening, after dinner, when all the day’s work is done and the family is just hanging out.
- In what ways do you think your writing journey has benefited your family? How does your writing affect your family?
Great question! Besides the obvious financial benefits, my career has made me a happier more well-rounded individual. It has forced me out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. One of the best things about writing, though, is that it has allowed me to stay home with our kids.
- If you could pick a theme song to play every time you entered a room, what would it be?
LOL! “Move” by Mercy Me. Sometimes I need extra motivation.
Shannon: Mercy Me is my favorite group.
- What is your most laughable dating story?
When I started dating Kevin (my husband) I turned into an instant klutz. I spilled, I dropped, I tripped. Only around him, mind you. I still do that.
- Which amusement park ride is your favorite and why?
Definitely roller coasters. But due to an old neck injury, I can’t ride them anymore. So I just live vicariously through my boys, who love them as much as I do.
Shannon: I grew up 5 miles from Six Flags over Georgia and never met a roller coaster I didn’t love.
- What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
The internet. Research is SO much easier than it used to be. And communication! It has its negatives too, I know, but it’s so easy to keep in touch with family and friends now.
- Would you rather live a week in the past or a week in the future??
Interesting question! A week in the future. I prefer the unknown.
- How do you balance writing, exercise, home, etc.?
Not very well! The home and writing I’ve got down pretty well. The exercise, not so much. A couple months ago we even moved the treadmill into the living room so it would stand over our shoulders making us feel guilty. I’ve used it once since then. I do much better when it’s warm out though. I like to walk outside.
- Would you rather meet your great grandchildren or great grandparents?
Great grandchildren, just to be certain I’ll get to, and because I DID meet my great grandparents.
- Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My pal Colleen Coble. She’s everybody’s biggest cheerleader!
- What is the best book you’ve read recently, and why did you like it?
“Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers—although it wasn’t my first time reading it. The message of love and redemption is amazing.
- What or who makes you giggle and why?
Bffs Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Kristin Billerbeck. Because we know one another so well. Also my church small group, for the same reason.
- What is your favorite season and why?
Spring and fall. Because we only get about two seconds of each in Indiana!
Shannon: My favorite seasons too. I hate being hot or cold, so I love the in between.
- The biggest challenge in writing this book?
- What do the Post-Its around your computer/screen/ bulletin board say?
They’re my lists of what I need to buy, who I need to call, and what I need to get done.
- What is your favorite research or reference book or tool??
“Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.
- What is the most unusual costume you ever wore at a Halloween party?
I was Gilligan one year. It seriously disturbed my husband.
- If you could have free unlimited service for one year from a cook, chauffer, personal secretary, housekeeper, or masseuse, which would you choose and why??
Oooh, I want one of each! Probably the cook. I love to bake—cooking, not so much.
- Which character in your books is the most like you? How?
Definitely Reese in “Smitten”. I wrote that one with my 3 friends Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Diann Hunt. In order to keep our characters consistent throughout, we gave each of our protagonists a healthy dose of ourselves.
Shannon: Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Denise. I so thoroughly enjoyed it.
My take on Denise’s books: I hated for each book to end, but each gave me that satisfying ahh moment. I love the characters, fell in love with each hero, and marveled at each great, complicated story premise.
The Convenient Groom: She wrote the book–literally–on finding the right mate. But does she really understand what love’s about? Five hours before her Nantucket beach wedding–and on the eve of her big book launch–celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has everything in place.
Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career, either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar.
Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her. Kate’s desperate enough to agree–although she’s sure this Mr. Wright is completely wrong for her. But can they pull it off? And why would Lucas marry her in the first place?
Could it be that “Dr. Kate” doesn’t know the first thing about love? An inspiring tale of enduring love set in romantic Nantucket.
Made me cry just reading how much the hero loved the heroine as he tried to win her heart. Such a great, complicated premise, I really wished I’d come up with it.
Abigail Jones intends to spend just one summer in middle-of-nowhere Montana with her Aunt Lucy. Time away from her job is just what Abigail needs to reassess her life. The slow pace has her breathing deeply for the first time in years. And the majestic scenery encourages her to get reacquainted with herself . . . and God.
What she didn’t count on was the handsome widowed cowboy who owns the ranch where her aunt lives. When the rancher loses his daughter’s nanny, Abigail decides to lend a hand for the summer.
Wade Ryan can’t help being attracted to Abigail. But he’s given up everything to protect his daughter, and he’s not about to risk it all on a pretty face.
Under Abigail’s care, Wade’s home and daughter thrive. And with Wade’s touch, Abigail’s heart feels at home at last. But Abigail knows this elusive rancher is hiding something. Will her own secrets separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?
I love the characters and ached for them. I truly couldn’t see how this story could end happily-ever-after. So many complications.
The Accidental Bride: Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can’t seem to keep her head above water—and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected.
Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders’ Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart—the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.
Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart.
Shay isn’t sure if the recent events are God’s will or just a preacher’s blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?
I loved the hero, Travis. So tough, yet gentle. I loved Shay’s temper, yet Travis knew just how to settle her down.
Meridith Ward has crafted a carefully ordered life to make up for the chaos that plagued her childhood years. But one phone call upsets all that. Within the span of several minutes, Meredith learns that the father who abandoned her is dead and she’s been named the sole guardian of his other three children. She nervously heads to Nantucket to care for the siblings she’s never met with plans to stay until their uncle returns from his trip before relinquishing guardianship to him.
She arrives to find the children living in Summer House, a Bed & Breakfast that’s falling apart around them. Meridith wants to move on as soon as possible, but the inn will never sell in its dilapidated condition. Then an itinerant handyman, Jake, shows up with an offer she can’t refuse.
Much like the powerful ocean just a short walk from her deck, Jake appeals to Meridith. But she senses he is also capable of pulling her under in a heartbeat. What if the thing she fears the most is exactly what she needs? Can she trust God with the details and relish the adventure?
Besides the romance and the complicated premise, I loved the one upmanship basketball scenes between the hero and his best friend. And I was reminded that all I really need is a solid foundation through Christ. Everything else is just a bonus.
The proposed closing of the lumber mill comes as unwelcome news for the citizens of Smitten. How will the town survive without its main employer? A close-knit group of women think they’ve got just the plan to save Smitten. They’ll capitalize on its name and turn it into a tourist destination for lovers—complete with sweet shops, a high-end spa, romantic music on the square, and cabins outfitted with fireplaces and hot tubs.
But is this manly town ready for an influx of romantically-minded guests?
Country music sensation Sawyer Smitten, the town’s hometown hero, wants to help by holding his own wedding there on Valentine’s Day. And little Mia’s lavender wreaths hang all over town as a reminder that faith can work miracles. Along the way, four women spearheading the town’s transformation—energetic Natalie, sophisticated Julia, graceful Shelby, and athletic Reese—get in the spirit by reviving their own love lives.
Join best-selling inspirational romance authors (and real-life BFFs) Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for an inspiring stay at the (soon-to-be) most romantic town on the eastern seaboard.
One visit . . . and you’ll be smitten too.
I laughed a lot while reading this book and enjoyed each story equally. Quite a feat. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novella collection by different authors and been unable to pick my favorite story.
About Denise: Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! Learn more at www.denisehunterbooks.com.
Posted on November 24, 2011 - by Shari Barr
Soon the aroma of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie will be nothing more than a memory. For many this signals the beginning of the Christmas season. There’s no better time to snuggle beneath an afghan, sip a cup of hot cider, and read a good book.
The following three children’s books are favorites of mine and aren’t just for kids. They’re a perfect quick read for the season of Advent, guaranteed to get you and yours in the Christmas spirit.
The Candle in the Window by Grace Johnson portrays the true meaning of Christmas in this superbly told tale. Gunther, a lonely German cobbler, finds no joy in the Christmas season—it’s simply a reminder of the wife and son he’s lost. When unexpected visitors show up in his shop on Christmas Eve with a candle for his window, they explain that according to legend, the candle is an invitation for the Christ Child to enter the hearts of men. As Gunther hurriedly makes preparations, he is soon disappointed when he must give the gifts he’s prepared for the Christ Child to others in need. Only after his visitors leave, does Gunther understand the true impact of his actions.
Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis is a beautiful story based on Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” According to Swedish tradition, the child who finds an almond hidden in his rice pudding on Christmas Eve has a chance to make a wish for anything he desires. Annika has yet to find the almond in her bowl, but when she does, she struggles with finally fulfilling her own dream or giving that chance to someone she loves dearly.
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon is an inspiring story of peace and hope between enemies in a time of war. The World War I Christmas truce tells the true story of a miracle that took place between British and German troops on a cold December night in France in 1914. Huddled in trenches on either side of a barren ground called No Man’s Land, the British were stunned when the fighting ceased and they heard the German soldiers singing Silent Night in their native tongue. Climbing from their trenches, the British joined in, the two languages blending as one. For several hours, the enemies became friends, sharing small gifts and even playing a game of soccer. Though the fighting resumed the next day, the troops gave us a glimpse of how peace really begins.
What are some of your favorite Christmas books?
Posted on November 22, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
I actually read some books this fall. Partly because I got tired of not having anything to report when the other Inkspers share what they’re reading. And partly because I had a lull between deadlines.
And I discovered how much I’ve missed reading. From now on, I’m making time for reading. As soon as I finish this content edit and meet my deadline for the book I’m writing that is.
So what did I read? Only one Christmas book made my list.
One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson
After her mother’s stroke, Natalie Pearce allows guilt to tear her family apart. As her favorite holiday approaches, they’ll need a special miracle. But it’s not quite the miracle Natalie expected. This was a wrenching story. I felt for each character in the story and cried through most of the book. I understood each character’s thoughts and reactions and had to see how it all ended for them. If you need a good cry, this book fits the bill.
Jennifer’s heroine, Shiloh Jacobs is a hoot. I loved her thoughts. So self-centered, yet so real she makes you take a look at yourself. When her estranged mother dies, her world begins to topple. Her reactions are so true to life for her situation—uncaring one moment, grieving the next. Watching Shiloh change into a better person was a joy. My favorite part–her very southern friend’s accent made her name sound like shallow–which Shiloh was until she began to grow up. I laughed and cried.
Looking for tension and a page turning book—this is it. Cynthia tells a story I couldn’t put down. I had to keep reading and learn what happened next. When Libby’s husband doesn’t return from a canoeing trip, she’s torn between being sad, glad, and mad. Did he take the opportunity to leave her before she could leave him or did something happen to him? Again Libby’s thoughts and reactions are so true to her situation. I laughed and cried.
This book was pure pleasure to read. I knew from the subject matter that I’d cry. A young mother returns home to decide who should raise her daughter after her death. The choices—her distant father or her daughter’s father, who doesn’t know he’s a father. Gina’s writing is lyrical in beauty. A lovely story painted vividly with lovely word pictures. I laughed and cried.
I bought some more books too. So stay posted–I finally have something to report on what I’ve been reading. What have you been reading?