More Than We Remember (2020)

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About the Book

wp-1580007329729.jpgBook:  More Than We Remember

Author: Christina Suzann Nelson

Genre: General Fiction/Contemporary

Release Date: February 18, 2020

One night changes everything for three women.

When Addison Killbourn’s husband is involved in a car accident that leaves a woman dead, her perfectly constructed life crumbles apart. With her husband’s memory of that night gone and the revelation of a potentially life-altering secret, Addison has to reevaluate all she thought she knew.

Emilia Cruz is a deputy bearing a heavy burden far beyond the weight of her job. Her husband is no longer the man she married, and Emilia’s determined to prevent others from facing the same hardship. When she’s called to the scene of an accident pointing to everything she’s fighting against, she’s determined to see justice for those wronged.

Brianne Demanno is hiding from reality. She was thriving as a counselor, but when tragedy struck a beloved client, she lost faith in herself and her purpose. When her neighbors, the Killbourns, are thrown into crisis, Brianne’s solitary life is disrupted and she finds herself needed in a way she hasn’t been in a while.

As the lives of these women intersect, they can no longer dwell in the memory of who they’ve been. Can they rise from the wreck of the worst moments of their lives to become who they were meant to be?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson is exquisite. This is a story that got under my skin, pierced my heart, and left me cheering. This story made me talk; I may have bugged my husband every couple of hours with random thoughts and questions: what is forgiveness? What does grace actually look like? What if…? I absolutely adore when a book gets me thinking and makes stop in my reader tracks to have an immediate conversation. I truly love everything about this book — the superb writing style, the endearing, multi-faceted characters, the conflicts, and the thought-provoking themes. I didn’t know who Christina Suzann Nelson was before reading More Than We Remember, but I do now and all I can say is I want MORE stories penned by this fantastic storyteller!

I’m not going to tell you one thing about this book because this story MUST be experienced, but I do want to talk about grace. I want to begin by saying Emilia — one of the three protagonists — drove me crazy. She is 100%, laser-focused on finding and meting out justice. Everything is about making bad guys pay. I’m never against bad guys paying for their crimes, but the phrase “bad guys” isn’t always so black and white. Justice without grace is just vengeance and the Bible is very clear that vengeance is God’s alone (Deuteronomy 32:35). One of the many questions I asked my husband while reading this book was, “What is grace?” He replied, “It’s unmerited favor.” I thanked him, and then thought to myself, “I know the definition, but what is grace, really?”

wp-1580007329779.jpgOnce upon a time, God came down to earth and died for us. He believed, and still believes, that we humans are worth everything. Jesus took the wrath we deserve and defeated Death so we can live with Him in eternity. And He did it for us as a free gift … an unmerited favor so to speak. What Jesus did for us all on that cross was, and is, the ultimate example of grace. If you’re like me, or like Emilia from this novel, you may be asking, “How do I show grace to others especially when others do very bad things that hurt me and/or my loved ones?” Excellent question!!! I will answer that in a minute. But first, the reason why I struggle with Emilia — because she is me! I crave justice too. I hate evil. I hate when bad guys win. It makes my blood boil. And, sometimes I think I verge into actual hate. But, I don’t want to be filled with hate. God wants us all to love. In Colossians 3:12-14 it explains how God dresses us for a life of love. When we accept God as our Lord and Savior He fills us with compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. With these qualities, we can be even-tempered and content with whatever God allows our way. And, we can forgive just as Jesus forgave us. This is love. This is grace. We have the power to show others grace when we accept God’s wardrobe, and when we do, we leave the vengeance to God. Does Emilia learn this lesson in More Than We Remember? Well, pre-order a copy of this novel today so you can find out!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, through NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Wedding Dress Christmas (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post from Rachel, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

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About the Book

The Wedding Dress Christmas CoverBook:  The Wedding Dress Christmas

Series: The Wedding Collection #3.5

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Romance, Christmas

Release Date: October 22, 2019

December covers quaint Heart’s Bend, Tennessee with a blanket of white and the glitter of Christmas lights.

For JoJo Castle there’s no place like home. It’s her safe place. Her one-time love of adventure ended when life in the big city shattered her hopes and dreams. Now that she’s returned to Hearts Bend, she never wants to leave again.

Buck Mathews, the biggest country singing sensation in decades, has the world on a string – his guitar strings, to be exact. However, when news of his mother’s illness sends him back to Hearts Bend for the holiday season, he remembers how good it can be to live among family and friends.

Working with her cousin Haley in The Wedding Shop, JoJo has no aspirations of love. Leaving home, surrendering her heart again, is just too risky.

When she runs into her friend and high school crush Buck Mathews, she discovers Love might have other plans for her.

Buck’s career is on the verge of an momentous leap. But seeing JoJo awakens feelings he’d buried long ago. Falling in love is easy, but winning her heart will take more than one of his melodic tunes and clever lyrics.

JoJo and Buck want opposite things for their lives, leaving no room for compromise. Can love, especially the kind that touches hearts at Christmastime, overcome her fears and his quest for greatness?

When a very special gown – the wedding dress – begins to make its presence known, JoJo and Buck’s hearts bend in a way neither ever thought possible.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

rachel-hauck-HR-5Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in The Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. Rachel has also been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically. A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day. She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

More from Rachel

Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!

I’m thrilled to share The Wedding Dress Christmas with you. I’ve heard from so many how much The Wedding Dress has touched them, and as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward the wedding dress and Christmas. What’s more romantic than a Christmas wedding?

This novella is set in Hearts Bend, Tennessee, the fictional town of The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop. Even if you’ve never read one of the books in The Wedding Collection, you’ll enjoy this story, the mystery of the dress, and the women whose lives it changed.

I love weddings. They remind us of the purity and the hope of love, the power of commitment. Something powerful is released when two people pledge to spend their lives together, loving and serving one another in both good and bad times. Every wedding I attend reminds me of the vows I made to my husband and I sign up all over again.

Stories are a powerful reflection of life. Yes, fictional stories are often told with wild hyperbole, but that’s what makes them fun to read.

I also love wedding stories because they remind us of God’s love for us, and that one day there will be the grandest wedding of them all. Isn’t it wonderful that God planned a wedding before He created the earth?

In The Wedding Dress Christmas, JoJo and Buck have their issues, but love proves strong enough to conquer them all.

Thanks for going on this little tour with me and The Wedding Dress Christmas.

Yours,

Rachel

My Thoughts

I have not read any of the books in the Wedding Collection series, and I think that may be part of why I struggled with this story. Don’t get me wrong, The Wedding Dress Christmas has all the signature awesomeness fans of Hauck’s novels love and expect. The novella is well-written, the setting is pleasantly whimsical, and the characters have relatable facets. This novella also has gobs and gobs of Christmas magic perfect for our current holiday season. The mysterious, other-worldly man in purple is my favorite. He may have brought a tear or two to my eyes a couple of times. And, I absolutely adore the concept behind the wedding dress. What a fun and meaningful way to pass down history and a shared sense of female camaraderie!

But I did struggle with the pacing. Everything in this story moves at lightning speed. One second JoJo and Buck are discussing their maybe feelings for one another, and then they are making out. I actually got confused twice and had to re-read whole sections because I felt like I missed some sort of passion build-up. But, I didn’t miss anything. This novella just moves that fast. It actually makes me wonder if I missed some set-up for these two characters in previous novels.

Overall, I do recommend The Wedding Dress Christmas. It does get the reader into a romantic, Christmassy mood. Just be aware that the pacing for this story is super, duper fast. You blink and you’ve read the entire book. If you are in the mood to read a cute Christmas story in one sitting, then this is definitely the book for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


GIVEAWAY

The Wedding Dress Christmas Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a print copy of The Wedding Dress Christmas and a Visa gift card for $25.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/f1fe/the-wedding-dress-christmas-celebration-tour-giveaway


BLOG STOPS

The Avid Reader, December 18

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Robin’s Nest, December 18

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 19

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Wishful Endings, December 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 19

Among the Reads, December 20

Genesis 5020, December 20

Life as Lanhams, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 21

Daysong Reflections, December 21

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 21

Bigreadersite, December 21

Simple Harvest Reads, December 22 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

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Britt Reads Fiction, December 22

She Lives to Read, December 23

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Inside the Wong Mind, December 23

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Quiet Quilter, December 29

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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 29

janicesbookreviews, December 29

A Reader’s Brain, December 30

Inklings and notions, December 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 30

Carla Loves to Read, December 30

Back Porch Reads, December 31

CarpeDiem, December 31

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, December 31

The Perfect Christmas (2019)

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About the Book

wp-1577409270791.jpgBook:  The Perfect Christmas

Series: Winter, Montana #2

Author: Bell Renshaw

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction

Release Date: October 2019

Will the perfect Christmas be enough to convince Beau that a life with Ansley could be equally perfect?

Born and raised in Winter, Montana, Beau Bradley can’t imagine life anywhere else. During the holiday season his coffee shop, Mountain Grounds, is as busy as ever and now that his girlfriend is back in town, things finally seem to be lining up—until he gets a call that could change it all.

Ansley Strauss is back in Winter after a nine-month art intensive in Canada and she’s ready to celebrate the Christmas season in the tried and true Winter-style. There’s only one problem: her boyfriend lacks the Christmas spirit. Her solution? Make this Christmas perfect to remind Beau just how special this time of year is.

Set on a course for ultimate Christmas joy, Ansley and Beau find that life doesn’t always work out the way they hope it will. Beau faces the reality that plans can’t account for everything and Ansley will have to come to the realization that no matter how perfect things are, it’s the imperfections in life that make it worth living.

It’s another Christmas in Winter, Montana where the coffee is always hot and the mistletoe beckons lovers to share a kiss.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Perfect Christmas by Bell Renshaw is a sweet, romantic page-turner filled with well-crafted characters who are unique and endearing. The setting is lovely Winter, Montana, a place that makes one long for a cozy blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and a warm fire. The timely themes in this sweet story definitely get the reader thinking. And, the various accidental mishaps of Ansley and Beau had this reader laughing out loud. Truly, The Perfect Christmas has it all, and I am leaving my time in Winter, Montana quite the satisfied reader!

wp-1577409270821.jpgBeau loves Ansley very much, but he has allowed fear to overtake his heart and his life. Beau has become emotionally paralyzed. Ansley is one of the most patient characters I have ever read, but that is what makes her such a great character. While Beau is busy painstakingly planning each and every second of their future, making sure nothing bad happens, Ansley just loves her man. Things do come to a crossroads, however, and Beau needs to make a choice — life with Ansley or without? It is during a brilliant conversation with Ansley’s brother, Ky, that Beau wakes up to his truth. Ky lost his young wife to an illness and has been a single father for the past two years. But, Ky has recently found new love. This all confounds Beau, whose number one goal in life is to never feel pain again. Beau asks Ky if he is scared to love again. Ky explains that he does feel a little afraid, but “there’s a difference between recognizing fear and giving in to it.” Ky refuses to give in to fear and instead lives life knowing that love is a risk worth taking. Beau realizes that he has let fear rule him and this is not how he wants to live. He comes to understand that life lived in fear is no life at all. I very much appreciated this message. Too many times in my life I have let fear dictate my life, and because of that, I know that I have lost out.

The Perfect Christmas is another home run by Bell Renshaw. The plot is highly engaging and fast-paced, the characters are relatable and endearing, and the messages are timely. If you are in the mood for a romantic and sweet Christmas novella, then The Perfect Christmas is the book for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Bell Renshaw. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Dating Charade (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: An Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

The Dating Charade coverBook:  The Dating Charade

Author: Melissa Ferguson

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Romantic  Comedy

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.

But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.

No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?

Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Melissa FergusonMelissa Ferguson lives in Bristol, Tennessee, where she is an adjunct professor at King University and pens books that make her laugh and grow. She used to have hobbies like running and backpacking the Appalachian Trail outside her door. Now she and her husband are outnumbered, and her hobbies include diaper changes, chasing toddlers in parking lots, and admiring the Appalachian Trail out her minivan window while singing “Winnie the Pooh.” She survives by Jesus, rom coms, and roughly two espresso shots a day. The Dating Charade is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

You can read an excerpt from Melissa Ferguson’s The Dating Charade here.

My Thoughts

I’m blown away that The Dating Charade is a debut novel because it reads like one penned by an expert, well-published author. I thoroughly loved every minute spent reading this book. The plot is highly engaging. One minute I was laughing hysterically, the next I was bawling like a blubbering baby. The characters are superb. I 1000% related to Cassie — to her ideals, to her naivety, to her well-meaning intentions, and to her insecurities and total fails. Jett is a swoony heartthrob who made me laugh so hard. I was rooting for him from the first moment he appears in the story. And, the themes in this novel are so thoughtful and timely. The Dating Charade is a true #MustRead story that I cannot recommend enough!

PhotoCollage_20191215_092520894.jpgAs I mentioned above, I really related to Cassie’s character. Cassie works with teen girls and has wanted to be a mother for as long as she can remember. Because Cassie loves kids, and because she is so naturally good with her girls from Girls Haven, she foolishly believes she is natural parent material. To Cassie’s way of thinking because she loves kids and is good with them parenting for her will be easy. I had to chuckle several times. Not at Cassie, but because once upon a time I was Cassie. Eight years ago I was pregnant with my one and only child. I knew with every fiber of my being that I was prime parent material. You see, in my family, I was called the baby whisperer. I adored children and had the canny ability to calm any child down. As a high school teacher who was really good at her job, I also knew how to speak teen. And, like Cassie, I had wanted to be a mom since I was a toddler. Naturally, all of this meant I was destined to be an excellent mom. Then I had my daughter and realized that I knew NOTHING and that I stunk real bad at the mom thing. It did not come naturally to me at all. It became very clear to me very quickly after my child was born that parenting is no joke and should never be entered into willy nilly. Like me, Cassie learns this lesson in spades and it was hilarious and heartbreaking to watch her receive her education.

The Dating Charade is a superb debut jam-packed with so much goodness I could not put this book down. I could go on and on in this review about the wonderfulness of this book, but I don’t want to spoil a thing. Suffice to say, The Dating Charade is a novel you need to get ASAP. Purchase your copy today. You will not be disappointed that you did!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, December 16

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Reflections From My Bookshelves, December 18

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Quiet Quilter, December 20

Through the Fire Blogs, December 20

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 21

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Simple Harvest Reads, December 26 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

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Love You, Truly (2019): A JustRead Reviewer Tour

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About the Book

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Book: Love You, Truly

Author: Susan L. Tuttle

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release Date: December 15, 2019

Blake Carlton, the camera-shy son of Hollywood’s Darling, dodges the invasive limelight and scripted relationships that so often accompany fame. But when his mother’s popularity declines and she falls into a depression, he offers himself up as the next bachelor on a reality show, hoping to reignite interest in her career while creating a way for them to finally connect.

After her fiancé dumps her for her best friend, aspiring photographer Harlow Tucker is done with romance—until her beloved, disabled sister requests her aid to start a nonprofit. Harlow agrees to do whatever is needed to raise funds, even reluctantly costarring on a dating show with a notorious womanizer who distrusts anyone behind a lens.

As Blake and Harlow navigate the superficiality of a reality show, their preconceived notions of love are challenged. Deciding to trust each other feels like the ultimate risk, but taking that chance could lead to a love truly picture-perfect, worth both of their hearts.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Love You, Truly by Susan L. Tuttle is one of the BEST contemporary Christian romances I have ever read. I devoured this book in just under 24 hours as I could not put this marvelous story down. I love that the plotline seamlessly weaves my two favorite tropes: the “two worlds collide” trope and the insta-hate trope. As soon as I got through chapter 1, I knew Blake and Harlow were going to be characters I would want to root for the entire time. I also very much enjoyed the many settings. Love You, Truly is a novel I could escape into as I got to visit Michigan, California, Budapest, and Austria. Of the places I got to “visit,” Austria was my favorite! I loved researching the touristy places Blake and Harlow saw. It sort of felt like I was there with them. While I heartily enjoyed the plot, setting, and characters, what I really appreciated are the timely themes. I must admit that there were a few moments Ms. Tuttle had me in tears because her themes resonated deeply in my heart.

There’s so much to talk about with this story it’s really difficult to pick just one focus, but the message that really struck me is Tuttle’s illustration of control. In very unique ways, both Blake and Harlow are control freaks. For Blake — a man constantly in Hollywood’s limelight — his form of control is to build up walls and never allow the types of relationships that require one’s heart to be involved. Blake refuses to be vulnerable because vulnerability can lead to disappointment, pain, and heartbreak. Instead, Blake becomes superficial, and in this, he can control his environment and heart. Harlow, like Blake, does not want pain, rejection, or heartache either, so her go-to self-preservation is to control literally EVERYTHING — her weight, her eating, her sister, her job, her sister’s foundation, etc. The girl won’t eat popcorn with butter or allow cream in her coffee. And she always says no to chocolate. This is how controlling Harlow is, she never says “YES” to anything. This strong need to control everything in their lives leaves both Blake and Harlow exhausted, sad, and lonely. And, over time, both realize that this need to control boils down to one fact — they don’t trust God.

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Boy, did this message smack me up-side the head! In this, I saw a lot of myself in both Blake and Harlow. When bad happens, when chaos occurs, my knee-jerk reaction is to clean and fret and work harder. I feel like if I can just create order in one part of my life I can gain control over all parts of my life. But, like Blake and Harlow, I just end up ragged, lonely, and sad. By the end of this novel, God was flooding my brain and heart with trust verses. Proverbs 3:5 repeated itself in my brain a couple of times — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Watching Blake and Harlow attempt to be their own god and control every facet of their lives was a great reminder for me to check myself, and then go to God to ask for forgiveness for all the ways I try to lean on my own understanding.

Love You, Truly is more than I could ever put into words. I know this review doesn’t do it justice, which is why I highly recommend you purchase a copy today so you can experience all the amazingness that is Love You, Truly. If my review hasn’t convinced you to purchase your own copy, then the breathtaking kisses alone should be enough reason to buy this book now! LOL!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via JustRead Publicity. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Lake Season (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: An Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

Lake SeasonBook: Lake Season

Series: Bluebell Inn Romance #1

Author: Denise Hunter

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Release Date: November 12, 2019

A lost letter, a new love, and old secrets beckon this summer at the Bluebell Inn.

When their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic Bluebell, North Carolina home back into an inn. The situation would just be temporary—three years at the most—then they would sell the inn and Molly could get back to chasing her own dreams.

Adam Bradford (aka bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive novelist with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to the setting of his next book, a North Carolina lake town. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

Molly and Adam strike up an instant friendship. When Molly finds a long-lost letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But Adam has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Hunter DeniseDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Carol Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest.

To learn more about Denise, visit her at:

Website  ♥   Facebook  ♥   Twitter  ♥   Instagram

Read a Premium Excerpt

You can read a premium excerpt from Denise Hunter’s Lake Season HERE.

My Thoughts

Disclaimer: This novel was an exceptionally cathartic read for me. My review today is highly personal, but my point is not to be highly personal. My point is to express how deeply I agree with one of Ms. Hunter’s themes discussed in this novel. The best way to get this point across is to tell you my deeply personal story. If you are not in the mood to read my story I am 100% not offended. Let me just say, before you leave my blog, Lake Season is an absolute gem of a novel. I highly recommend it!!!

Ten months ago, I lost my stepdad, Mike. He was killed in a car accident. When one loses a loved one so violently and unexpectedly a pain unlike anything ever experienced is born. Immediately, the first thing that sprung to my mind was the last words I ever spoke to my stepdad. The last day I saw Mike was two weeks before he died. My mom and I made plans to have dinner at a local Mexican restaurant we liked to frequent. My daughter and I met my mom at the agreed-upon time, and much to my surprise Mike was with her. I was so happy to see him! You see, Mike was a fire captain. With all the fires happening in Southern California we didn’t get to see him as much so for him to be at this impromptu dinner was a big deal. We had an amazing time! We told funny stories, we laughed a lot, and we ate great food. It was awesome. When we were saying goodbye, my stepdad gave me a big hug and kiss, and I told him that I loved him. He told me, “I love you too, kid!” We got in our cars, and he smiled at me and gave me a wink. He and my mom went their way, and Bella and I went ours. That was the last time I would ever see or speak to my stepdad.

In Lake Season, the heroine, Molly, has also recently lost her parents to a car accident. Unfortunately, Molly’s last encounter with her parents wasn’t like mine. Molly blew her parents off never thinking she wouldn’t get to see or speak to them ever again this side of Heaven. Her final phone call with her parents leaves Molly with such guilt it becomes a heavy burden she carries daily, and she becomes a bit obsessed with making sure she never leaves a conversation unfinished. Of the characters in Lake Season, I heavily relate to Molly and her pain. Losing someone dear to you unexpectedly is like a repeated blow to your heart. It’s crushing, and painful isn’t a good enough word to describe what you are experiencing. The only thing that separates me from Molly (aside from the fact that I’m not fictional) is the magical, fantastic final dinner God orchestrated for me — I know with every fiber of my being that that last meal was truly God’s doing. I would have felt Molly’s guilt too if it weren’t for this one meal. God gave me a gift, and I will be forever grateful.

Lake Season is an excellent novel for so many reasons — the highly engaging plotline, the superb characters (especially Adam!!!), and the resonating themes. But Lake Season is one of my most favorite stories this year because it reinforces how important it is to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us in the here and now. Dear reader, do not leave your love under a bushel for you may not get a tomorrow. With everything that’s happened since my stepdad’s death, I cannot stress enough how important it is to tell your loved ones how you feel. Not a single one of us is promised a tomorrow. Read this novel because it is a great read, but read it also because it is a great reminder to not take those we love and care about for granted.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


BLOG STOPS

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 12

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Simple Harvest Reads, November 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

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Remembrancy, November 25

Smoke Screen (2019) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: An Excerpt + My Thoughts

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About the Book

Smoke ScreenBook: Smoke Screen

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre:  Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Terri BlackstockTerri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.

Website  ℘   Facebook   ℘   Twitter

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

My Thoughts

I’ve never read a novel by Terri Blackstock before. If I’m honest, it’s because I’m a baby. Her covers scare me. I am a super sensitive woman. If I read or watch anything scary before bed, I will have nightmares. Since I work full-time during the day, most of my reading gets done at night, which means a lot of suspense novels never make it to my TBR pile. But, my husband adores Blackstock’s novels and encouraged me to read this one, and the premise did sound really excellent, so I took a risk. Boy, am I glad that I did! Smoke Screen is a very well-written story: the plot is highly engaging, the characters have depth and are very relatable, and the conflicts are so frustrating I flew through the pages to get to the end because I had to know everything would turn out OK for Nate and Brenna. All in all, Smoke Screen is a seriously good read I highly recommend.

I found so much to love about this novel, but my favorite aspect is the illustration of corporate prayer. I am a BIG believer in prayer. I believe with my whole heart that God hears and answers prayers. And, I know that praying with others makes prayers super powerful. As stated in Mark 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I among them.” I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of Christian fiction books over the years, so I’ve seen characters pray. I’ve seen characters gather together at church to pray during Sunday sermons and masses. But I’ve not read a Christian novel where Christian characters go on red alert, immediately gather together, and corporately pray because a member of the congregation needs help ASAP. This moment in Smoke Screen is AMAZING — prayer warriors going to battle with God in order to help a member of their team. And God moves mountains for the character because of this corporate prayer. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring moments I’ve read in a book.

My review, I fear, doesn’t do Smoke Screen justice. I found this story to be sweet and romantic, frustrating and encouraging, and action-packed. If you are looking for a well-written novel filled with suspense, romance, and timely themes, then Smoke Screen is the story for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Blog Stops

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

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Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

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Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

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All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

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D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

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Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

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Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

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Texas Book-aholic, November 22

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