Book Blitz, Christian Romance, Giveaways, Historical Christian Fiction

First Love Forever Blitz — Author Spotlight + Excerpt

Title: First Love Forever Romance Collection

Authors: Suzanne Dietze, Cynthia Hickey, Marcia Gruver, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Martha Rogers, Lorna Seilstad, Connie Stevens and Jennifer Uhlarik

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

Release Date: April 1, 2018

Genre: Historical Romance Fiction

Links*: Amazon l Goodreads l Book Depository l CBD l Itunes

A first love is never easily forgotten…

and coming face to face with that person again can be awkward when the heartstrings are still holding on to the “what ifs.”
In settings from 1865 to 1910, nine couples are thrown back on the same path by life’s changes and challenges. A neighbor returns from law school. An heiress seeks a quick marriage. A soldier’s homecoming is painful. A family needs help. A prodigal son returns. A rogue aeronaut drops from the sky. A runaway bridegroom comes home. A letter for aid is sent. A doctor needs a nurse. Can love rekindle despite the separation of time and space?
First Things First by Susanne Dietze
1877 – South Texas: Texas rancher’s daughter Georgie Bridge mourned when her first love, Ward Harper, left town to study the law, but now he’s back—as opposing counsel in a case against her father.
A Most Reluctant Bride by Cynthia Hickey
1880 – Ozark foothill ranch: Maggie Spoonmore marries her father’s former foreman, Zach Colton in order to salvage her reputation, yet struggles to believe he married her for love and not her inheritance.
Weeping Willow by Marcia Gruver
May of 1861 – Port Royal, Virginia: In Civil War Virginia, tables are turned for Willow Bates when Julian Finney, her childhood crush and steadfast defender, returns from the war a broken man in need of rescue.
His Anchor by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1894 – Mackinac Island, Michigan: Robert Swaine, a ship captain, returns to Mackinac Island where his first love, Sadie Duvall struggles to support her siblings. Will she anchor him to the island he has vowed to leave behind?
After the Ball by Martha Rogers
1910 – Dallas, Texas: Chase Thornton, a wealthy oil man yearns for the life of a cowboy and his first love, Susannah King, but can she trust him to keep his word to leave the city and stay on the ranch?
Lighter Than Air by Lorna Seilstad
1900 – St. Louis, Missouri: After Titus Knott crashes his hot air balloon behind Ella Mason’s boarding school, he must convince his former sweetheart that his words are true and not full of hot air.
In Due Season by Connie Stevens
1901 – Whitley, Kansas: Leah Brown accepts her role of town spinster until Gareth Shepherd unexpectedly steps back into her life. Now she’s faced with a choice. Can she forgive the man who jilted her?
Heartfelt Echoes by Jennifer Uhlarik
1875—Virginia City, Nevada: A short, urgent letter mentioning his childhood love, Millie Gordon, forces deaf Travis McCaffrey to turn to his estranged birth father for help rescuing the woman he can’t forget.
Prescription for Love by Erica Vestch
1905 – New Orleans: Erstwhile fiancée Natalie Morrison is the last person Dr. Mackenzie wants as his new nurse, but when an epidemic hits, Phin finds she’s come back into his life at the perfect time.


Best-selling author Marcia Gruver’s southern-comfortable roots lend touches of humor and threads of faith to her writing. When she’s not pounding a keyboard, you’ll find her clutching a game system controller, riding shotgun on Texas Hill Country treks, or sipping mugs of hot tea on the front porch. Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband Lee have five children, thirteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren—so far.

She says:
“God has been good to my family and unerringly faithful, despite the trials of everyday living. I offered Him the wreckage of my life at a very young age, and He graciously accepted. In return, He provides unfathomable love, stalwart protection, peace in place of fear, joy in times of sorrow, and very broad shoulders to lean on. Doesn’t that describe the ultimate hero? I wholeheartedly recommend you consider Him and His offer of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. You’ll be eternally grateful you did.”


August 15, 1863

Julian was missing.

His last letter arrived on April 15, four months ago to the day. Before now, a few weeks had been the longest span of time between letters. The wait for word had become Willow’s obsession, and a trip to the post office a part of Cletus’s daily routine.

He didn’t seem to mind.

Some days, like today, he took the surrey, and Willow rode along with him. At the post office counter, she knew no letter awaited her, even before her turn came to be served. The clerk avoided her eyes as she moved forward in the queue, then tucked his chin and cleared his throat when she stepped up to the window.

“Nothing again today, Miss Bates,” he said then lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

She gave him a trembling smile and hurried outside.

Halfway home, Cletus broke the gloomy silence. “Don’t you worry, missy,” he called over his shoulder. I’m sure he jus’ fine.”

He shot her a feeble grin. “That boy quick and spry. No Yankee musket got the better of Mistuh Julian.”

Willow’s heart lurched. Hearing Julian’s name mentioned in the same breath with a Yankee musket wasn’t exactly a comfort.

“Something is wrong, Cletus. I feel it in my bones.”

He turned on the seat. “You listen to old Cletus and not them lying bones. When they took Annie away, my heart grieved sore. But inside, I knew she wasn’t lost.”

He nodded. “I was right, too, thanks to you. Jus’ like I’s right about Mistuh Julian.”

He studied her with a slight frown, seeming to search for words as he swayed back and forth on the seat. “Sometimes life be like this old rutted road, lots of rattles and bumps. But the Almighty don’t ever take His eyes off His children, not even to sleep. He’s watching out for you and Mistuh Julian, jus’ like He watched out for my Annie. So don’t you fret.

She met his eyes and drew comfort from the conviction burning there. “Thank you, Cletus. I’ll try to remember.”

They rode in silence again, though not the heavy quiet of dread. Willow sat back and rested her mind. God had used her, as unlikely as she was, to answer Cletus’s prayers for his daughter. She would lean on God now and trust He heard her many petitions for Julian.

She settled deeper into the tufted seat, drowsy in the shade protecting her from the blistering August sun. For the first time in days, she felt at ease enough to drift off in peaceful sleep.

Startled awake, she sat upright. “Did you say something, Cletus?”

Cletus strained forward, one hand shading his eyes. “Look yonder, coming this way.”

Willow leaned to see around him but saw only the horse’s bobbing head. She stood in a crouch beneath the fringed top, holding the back of the seat to steady herself.

Past the shimmering heat waves, past the pits and ruts dug in the dirt after the spring rains, she made out the shape of a man waving his arms. A man in slouch hat and Confederate gray.

She gripped Cletus’s shoulder so hard he flinched. “It’s Julian! He’s come home.”

Cletus placed his calloused hand on hers and squeezed. “No, Miss Willow, look again. Mistuh Julian be all legs and shoulders.” He squinted his eyes. “And he don’t have ginger hair.”

He glanced up at her, deep sorrow in his gaze. “That be Mistuh Hiram coming our way.”

Sick with disappointment, Willow slumped in her seat. Patting tears from her cheeks with her hankie, she fought for control. Hiram mustn’t think she wasn’t happy to see him.

The surrey drew alongside him, and genuine joy warmed her heart. She’d missed him more than she realized.

They climbed down, and Willow enveloped him in a welcoming hug. “Cletus, look. It’s our Hiram. I’m so happy to see you.”

Hiram held on to her for a few beats longer than proper. When he released her, he held her at arms length and feasted with his eyes. “Dear girl, I’ve missed you so.”

A look crossed his face, one Willow hadn’t seen in many years. A naughty boy caught in his transgressions. “I’m forgetting myself,” he said. “It’s a gift to see your face again, honey, but I’ve not come for myself.”

He ducked his head and swallowed. “I’m dreadful sorry to be the one—” He raised his head, and pain flashed in his eyes. “I wish I didn’t have to tell you.”

Alarm weakened her legs. “Hiram, please. What’s wrong?”

“It’s Julian.”

Her hands rose instinctively to cover her ears.

Cletus placed a firm hand on her back. “Just say it, boy. Don’t make her wait.”

Hiram pressed his lips together and nodded. “Julian is missing. Presumed dead. I’m so sorry, honey.”

She turned aside to escape his words, but the dusty road rushed up to meet her. Grasping hands and anxious voices were the last things she knew.


(1) Winner will win a prize pack consisting of one print copy of First Love Forever Romance Collection, (1) Print copy of My Heart Belongs in Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels (or any other one of her released titles), a pair of handmade earrings (*style subject to change from what is pictured), additional book swag and a $20 Barnes & Noble Gift Card. (Only Gift card open internationally. All items open to US mailing addresses.) To Enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Be sure to stop at every stop on the tour for additional entries.

22 thoughts on “First Love Forever Blitz — Author Spotlight + Excerpt”

  1. Thank you for being part of the book blitz for “First Love Forever Romance Collection”. I really enjoyed reading the excerpt and would love the opportunity to read the book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another collection! Yay! I really enjoy reading collections. They are a great way to get to know new authors and experience a variety of stories 🙂 I have been looking forward to this ‘First Love Forever Romance Collection’ since I first heard about it! Thanks for being a part of this JustRead BLITZ Tour!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love anthologies too. I feel I get a good glimpse into authors I might want to read their full-length works. Plus, I feel so accomplished reading 9 stories in one book! Lol!


  3. what a great excerpt. i love books with a collection of stories inside. especially if they are inspirational, historical and have humor. thanks for being a part of the tour.

    Liked by 1 person

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