Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Lady and the Lionheart, by Joanne Bischof

I've finally dried my tears enough to type legibly. The Lady and the Lionheart moved me so deeply, I'm not sure I can do this review justice. There are some books that are entertaining, and some that are life-changing. This book is both. From the very first scene, where Ella Beckley sees the circus streamers blowing down the street, to the final scene where Holland Lionheart is looking back on the past fifteen years of her parents' life, I was enthralled to keep reading.

Charlie Lionheart is the hero of all heroes. One scene in particular had me so emotionally enraptured by him, I dare say I fell in love with a fictional character. He is both tender and brave-hearted, perfect and flawed, humble and proud. He is so prominent on the page, one would think the heroine would pale in comparison, but not in this story. Ella Beckley is a beautifully woven heroine, with threads of fear, courage, weakness, strength, despair and hope. She is lovely, both inside and out, and is so real, it's almost as if she reaches out and grasps your hand to come along on her journey.

I was encouraged to read this story by a friend who said she wept at the end. Truth be told, I felt deeply for these characters, and I had come to the end, and wasn't sure why my friend had cried. But then, in the final scene, Holland shares a musing that struck me so swiftly, and so profoundly, I began to weep. For what Christ has done for me, and what He has called me to do for others. I believe the story will resonate with every reader on a different level, and the message will affect some more than others, but for me, the message had me on my knees with a deeper understanding of unconditional love and sacrifice. Truly, a must-read.         

About the book:
Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia.

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

You can purchase the book here.

About the author:

A Carol Award and three-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader's heartstrings. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.
INSTAGRAM @masonjarbooks
FACEBOOK Author, Joanne Bischof

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: A Flight of Arrows, by Lori Benton

Now that I'm a full-time writer, I have less and less time to read books for pleasure. But there are a handful of authors I absolutely will not miss. I read all their releases, sometimes putting my life on hold for a day or two, because I cannot put their books down...

Lori Benton is one of the authors on my must-read, cannot wait-for, refuse-to-miss list.

Last year I read The Wood's Edge, by Lori. It was my favorite book of 2015, but it was the first of a two-book series, so I was left wanting to know what happened to the characters I had grown to love! It was a hard year to wait for the second book in the Pathfinder's Series, and when it finally arrived, I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning.

A Flight of Arrows is a deep and complex story that picks up right where The Wood's Edge left off. My one regret is that I wish I would have re-read The Wood's Edge before starting A Flight of Arrows, simply because there are so many characters and threads, and it had been a year since I read the first story. I found myself lost for part of the book as I tried to recall all the characters and their role in the story.
A Flight of Arrows is a rich tale of love and hatred, faith and fear, loyalty and betrayal, hope and doubt, loss and restoration. I was so emotionally connected with the characters, I felt everything they felt.

Lori Benton is a master at creating rich details, heart-tugging love stories, and vivid storyworlds. By the end of the story, I was fully satisfied with the outcome for every character, though not everything turned out the way I had hoped--but that only made the story more realistic and beautiful. The historical details are outstanding and I was left amazed at Lori's ability to weave in authentic history with fictional characters. Some of the battle scenes were a bit drawn-out, but again, that adds to the realism in the story.

I loved A Flight of Arrows, and I will definitely re-read both books in the Pathfinder's series. I fell in love with the characters and the world they inhabit. I cannot wait for Lori's next story.

Here's the description from the back of the book:

Hearts are Divided Loyalties Will Be Tested
The Fates of Two Families Hang in the Balance

Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own.

No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love.

Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.
You can buy a copy here.

*I was given a copy of A Flight of Arrows for my honest review.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Happy Birthday, Charles A. Lindbergh!

Happy 102nd Birthday, Charles A. Lindbergh!

Please join me at my group blog, Coffee Cups & Camisoles where I share why February 4th will always stay with me.

You can find that blog post here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Does it Mean to Have a Savior?

Today I'm blogging on my group blog, Coffee Cups & Camisoles. I'd love for you to join our conversation.

You can find that blog post here.

~ Gabrielle

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: Until the Dawn, by Elizabeth Camden

I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Camden's writing. I never miss a book she publishes, so I was very excited when Until the Dawn arrived in my mailbox!

This book, like all the others by Elizabeth, is centered around a strong, intelligent heroine and a very masculine hero. There is a great deal of mystery, intrigue, and history.

I'm used to Elizabeth's stories taking place in metro areas, like Washington, D.C., so it was a bit different to have this book set in a remote village, in a palatial mansion called Dierenpark. I loved the setting, and had an easy time picturing it in my mind. The threat in the story is that the hero has arrived to tear down Dierenpark, but the heroine has practically grown up there, and she'll do anything she can to prevent it from being destroyed.

I loved the character of the heroine, Sophie van Riijn. She was sweet, gentle, and unassuming--yet very determined and strong. She flounders a bit for a purpose in life, but loves her work as a volunteer for the National Weather Service and as a cook for the staff at Dierenpark.

I wasn't quite as fond of the hero, Quentin Vandermark. He's a hard, angry man at the beginning, but slowly he's transformed into a man who is worthy of Sophie. It's a long transformation, and there are a few scenes that left me wanting to throttle the man! It only made for a sweeter redemption at the end and a more compelling love story.

Dierenpark takes on a character all its own and Elizabeth did an amazing job bringing the setting to life. It's one of those fictional places I'd love to visit! There is a great deal of mystery swirling about the estate and it's so much fun to find out the truth toward the end. The revelations do not disappoint.

The story begins a bit slow, but by the midway mark it picks up pace and I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to others.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Year of Firsts

What a year! 2015 will go down in (my) history as the year dreams came true. It was a year of many first-time experiences in my writing career.

In March, I joined Coffee Cups & Camisoles, a group blog with fellow historical authors Jaime Jo Wright, Anne Love, and Erica Vetsch.

In May, my first published story, Four Brides and a Bachelor in The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection released, and I happened to be with a group of Minnesota authors on release day! It was so much fun to celebrate with Erica Vetsch, Michelle Griep, Julie Klassen, and many other lovely ladies.

Erica and I are both in The Most Eligible Collection!

That's author Julie Klassen buying my book! :)

I also had my first book signing event in May!

Over the summer, I wrote my first story for Love Inspired Historical (an imprint of Harlequin Books) in their Blurb2Book Contest. I was one of seven people contracted during the contest and I signed my first contract with them. My story, A Mother in the Making, releases in September 2016.

In July, I became a "multi-published" author, when my second story released with Barbour. My novella, A Groom for Josette, released in The Convenient Bride Collection.

The moment my second book arrived on my doorstep!
In 2015, I wrote three complete novels. One has been contracted and the other two are sitting on editors desks under consideration. It was the first time I have written more than one novel over the course of a year.

On the home front, this was the year I took my daughters on their first airplane ride. We went to Washington, D.C. in May and saw so many wonderful things. In September, my twin boys went off to Kindergarten, and for the first time in eleven years, I didn't have preschoolers in my home. My oldest daughter had her tonsils removed and then a couple months later she got braces, my second daughter started homeschooling, and my husband took the girls on their first hunting trip.

My beautiful family!
2015 has been an exceptional year. I thank God that all of us are healthy and happy, and we've made some incredible memories. In 2016 we look forward to many more adventures to come.

Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. In 2012, I started this blog as a way to document my journey to publication and it's been such a blessing to see my dream come true. My prayer is that my journey would encourage you to take one of your own. If God has placed a dream on your heart, go after it! You never know what blessings He has in store.

Your Turn: What are the highlights of your year? What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Interview with Andrea Boeshaar

Today I'd like to welcome historical author Andrea Boeshaar to my blog. Andrea is a fellow author in The Convenient Bride Collection and she has a brand new release titled A Thousand Shall Fall. I'm excited to have her stop by and tell us a little more about herself.

Hello, Andrea! I always love to know about an author's journey to publication. How and when did you begin writing?

When my sons were young, I did a lot of reading—mostly secular romances. I had always loved to write and decided to try my hand at writing a romance novel. I got my first rejection letter in 1984. I learned then writing novels is much more difficult than it seems.

Then 7 years later, I came to Christ. It wasn’t long after that when I felt odd about writing secular romances. I wasn’t published yet, but working on a manuscript that did not honor God in any way. After attending one of Dr. Dennis Hensley’s 1-day seminars in Oak Brook, IL, I decided to write fiction and nonfiction that honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

My first book was published in 1994!

I'm thrilled that you write fiction that honors Christ. Can you tell us about your salvation experience?

I was saved by grace in 1991, although I had been searching for quite some time. A coworker, one of those "Jesus freaks" shared the Good News with me and I felt God tugging on my heart. I'm so thankful she obeyed the Lord's prompting to share biblical truth with me. My husband and sons were born again within six months of my salvation.

If you're anything like me, you have more words inside you than you know what to do with! Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.

Yes! I actually teach workshops to writers groups and speak on various topics at women's groups. In addition, I'm a writing coach, although I don't advertise. I mentor writers and help them realize their goals. I have more information about my coaching (and editing) on my website:
Speaking of authors, if you were to plan a writing retreat in which you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?

Wow, that's a tough choice. I know so many fabulous authors!! But I think I'd make it a Ladies' Night and I'd ask Francine Rivers, Robin Lee Hatcher, Beth Moore and my daughter-in-law. I admire these ladies' service to Christ. Each have touched my life in a significant way and I know I would learn more from them.

I saw that you're a writing coach. People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?

I tell them, "Go ahead and write it." Then I add, "If you want a coach, look me up."  J

As a writer, I'm sure you share many things from your own life and experiences. Can you reveal one thing about yourself that readers may not know?

I’m a college student. That’s right. I’m in my mid-fifties and I’m earning my bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Concordia University-Wisconsin via the school’s Adult Learning program (6 to 8 week courses). I plan to go on for my masters, but first things first: my BA. The class I’m presently enrolled in is Interpersonal Communications.

Congrats on going back to school! I'm sure that took a lot of courage.

Here's a fun question: what is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?

Several years ago, I spoke to a group at Country Memories Farm in Manitowoc, WI. I had looked over the schedule online but arrived there with no minutes to spare and didn't realize the schedule changed. I ended up talking into the other speaker's time. When I found out, I was so embarrassed; however, the other speaker was actually relieved. She hates speaking and was dreading it. So God worked it all out the way He always does!

I'm sure she was relieved!

Let's switch gears and have you tell us about A Thousand Shall Fall.

I'm very excited about this novel. I think it's the best historical romance I have ever penned! It's titled, A Thousand Shall Fall and it's about a young woman, Carrie Ann Bell, who goes searching for her runaway sister in the Shenandoah Valley. But instead of finding her, Carrie Ann finds trouble when she ends up in the middle of a skirmish outside of Front Royal, Virginia.

Where can we find your book, and how can we find you online?

The book is the first in my Shenandoah Valley Saga. You can go here to “Look Inside” and read a sample before purchasing the book.

Readers can find me online at the following:

My website at:

And Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar

Also, there is a fabulous Kindle Fire HD 6” Giveaway to celebrate the release of A Thousand Shall Fall. You can find that here.

Thank you for visiting today, Andrea! It was fun to learn more about you.
Readers: I'd love to hear your most embarrassing moments!
About A Thousand Shall Fall
Nineteen-year-old Carrie Ann Bell is independent and spirited. The only thing she really fears are the Union soldiers fighting against her Confederate friends. When her youngest sister runs away from home, brave Carrie Ann is determined to find her and bring her back. Disguised as a soldier, she sets off--only to find she's fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Her childhood friend Confederate Major Joshua Blevins has warned her against these Yankees: they're all devils, ready to inflict evil on unsuspecting young women. When Colonel Peyton Collier arrests her for her impersonation of an officer, it seems to confirm all her fears.
Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel. He rescued her, protected her, and has been every inch the gentleman. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally--and more than that, someone she could love. But the arrival of Joshua in the Union camp as a spy will test her loyalties. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?
Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, A Thousand Shall Fall is framed around compelling characters and a very romantic setting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Andrea Boeshaar’s extensive research guarantees historical accuracy and romance genre enthusiasts and Civil War buffs alike will enjoy the Christian perspectives on actual historical events.
About Andrea Boeshaar
Andrea Boeshaar has been married for nearly 40 years. She and her husband have 3 wonderful sons, 1 beautiful daughter-in-law, and 5 precious grandchildren.

Andrea's publishing career began in 1994 when her first novel was released by Heartsong Presents (Barbour Publishing). She went on to write numerous romances for the book club and was voted one of the line's "Favorite Authors" several times over.