Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Thin Ice

Thin Ice
By Irene Hannon
Men of Valor, #2
Revell, 2016


If Ginny Reed is still alive--who is the woman buried in her grave?

After losing her parents and her sister, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Now, life is finally starting to feel normal again--until an envelope addressed in her sister's handwriting arrives in the mail. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case . . . but he's coming up with more questions than answers. Is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game--or the target of a sinister plot? As Lance digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: someone in the shadows has a deadly agenda.

Bestselling author and three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon pulls out all the stops in this high-stakes thriller that races to a bone-chilling finish.


Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five novels, including That Certain Summer, One Perfect Spring, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, three HOLT Medallions, a Daphne du Maurier Award, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, a Booksellers' Best Award, and a National Readers' Choice Award. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri. Learn more at

My thoughts

Edge-of-your-seat suspense. Engaging, well-rounded characters.
Tension. Romance. Compelling heroes.
Humor. Inspiration.

As with all of Irene Hannon’s suspense novels that I’ve read, each of these elements is present. I’m not really a suspense fan, but Irene’s stories have rich character depth and I enjoy her writing so much that these adventures are just about impossible to resist. (However, I will say that Irene’s contemporary romances are my favorite and I highly recommend them.)

There’s so much to like about Thin Ice! Like Irene’s other heroes, Lance is such a good guy – one who brings strength, intelligence, determination and courage, along with caring and compassion - yet he wrestles with his own personal demons. I love to watch figure skating, so the fact that Christy is a figure skater drew me to her. From the raw terror and loss that Christy experienced in the prologue, I was emotionally engaged.

The story is told from three perspectives – that of Christy, Lance, and the villain – and I enjoyed getting into the villain’s mindset, thought process and rationale. And that brings me to my least favorite part, the twisted psychopath. Really, really creepy and twisted. It’s interesting how, when money isn’t the object, it’s often all about intimidation and control through fear. However, one element of his behavior, while important to the complexity of his nature, was almost too much for me. This behavior has caused me in the past to close a book and never read that particular author again. Not the case this time, though.

I appreciate how Irene always weaves important faith elements into her stories. The enduring of traumatic experiences usually has one of two effects – that of drawing us closer to God or pushing us away – and that’s exactly what happened to Christy and Lance. Christy struggled like any of us would, but it was her faith that comforted and sustained her – while Lance pushed away from the faith of his childhood. I enjoyed not only the very real sparks that flew between them, but their faith journeys as well.

To say that Thin Ice was hard to put down is an understatement. Recommended to all who enjoy romantic suspense.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review + Kindle Fire GIVEAWAY: Grace's Forgiveness

Grace’s Forgiveness
By Molly Jebber
Keepsake Pocket Quilt, #2
Zebra, 2016


A handsome newcomer with secrets shows a yearning Amish woman a chance at happiness—but their love will need all their courage to keep . . .

Grace Blauch is skilled at midwifery—and crafting quilts that help others pass on messages of enduring family love. But a disfiguring birthmark keeps the young Amish woman from a husband and home of her own—until Mark King arrives from another community. His helpfulness and independent nature earn Grace’s respect. And he finds her outspoken ways and determination to do right irresistibly appealing. Soon Grace is planning a wedding quilt of her very own . . . until her father discovers that Mark’s shunned brother is hiding somewhere in town . . .

Grace can well understand why Mark took such a risk once she hears his wrenching reasons. But she fears even prayer will not convince her father to restore his blessing on their union. She wills herself to face the end of her dreams, but sudden danger and an impossible act of generosity will show her that abiding hope can inspire the most precious of miracles . . .


Molly Jebber is an educational, motivational, and Women’s Christian Connection speaker. She was raised in a small town in the Midwest, and insists if you had blinked twice, you would’ve missed it. She loves God, her family and friends, sunshine, swimming and traveling to the Amish communities.

Creating historical Amish characters and throwing them into difficult situations and joyous times has been challenging and fun for her. The greatest reward she’s experienced in becoming an author is meeting wonderful people from all over the world who’ve been encouraging and supportive. Connect with Molly online at

My thoughts

Grace’s Forgiveness is a sweet, pleasant read, one that fans of Amish fiction will enjoy. Yet in its simplicity, Grace’s Forgiveness deals with shunning, one of the most difficult, hard-to-understand practices of Amish life. Although Grace was introduced in the previous book, Change of Heart, this story stands alone.

The characters seem so true to life that they feel like friends, and I’ve been looking forward to Grace’s story. With elements like midwifery, furniture making, and barn raising, Molly brings the Amish lifestyle to life. But one thing I especially like about this series is the way Molly incorporates some serious issues, like shunning and marrying outside the Amish faith.

Jacob's Ladder quilt
For a people who are supposedly so loving and accepting, their attitude toward Grace because of a birthmark on her face just seemed cruel – and I loved that Mark looked past that disfigurement when he first met her. What a good lesson for all of us! I'm unashamedly a fan of Amish fiction and appreciate the life values we can learn from them. However, the practice of shunning someone who leaves the Amish faith after being baptized – thinking of them as literally dead – that’s something I’ll never be able to understand. Both Grace and Mark had friends or a family member in this situation, and Molly did a good job bringing out the emotion and personal struggles.

I also loved the pocket quilt theme, for in a time where so much communication is done through social media, the idea of a personal note tucked in the pocket for the recipient to find is very appealing. The writing sometimes seems a little stiff or formal, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this sweet story. I suspect that we will see more from two secondary characters, and I look forward to that.

Grace’s Forgiveness is a good book to sit back and relax with. Recommended to all who enjoy Amish fiction.

Thank you to Kensington Publishing and Celebrate Lit for providing an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase Grace’s Forgiveness at AmazonB&N | BAM | IndieBound

And be sure to enter Molly’s Kindle Fire giveaway below!

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review + GIVEAWAY: Beyond the Silence

Beyond the Silence
By Tracie Peterson, Kimberley Woodhouse
Bethany House, 2016


The shadows over this olive grove hide more than just the truth.

Lillian Porter has always wanted to fulfill her mother's dream of going west, so when she hears about a nanny position in Angels Camp, California, she defies her grandfather and takes a chance on a new future. But she quickly wonders if she made the right choice. Murky rumors swirl around Woodward Colton, her new employer, but the gossip doesn't match the man Lillian comes to know.

Still, something dark did happen in the family's past. Lillian's seven-year-old charge hasn't spoken in over a year. Gently, Lillian tries to coax him out of his shell, hoping he'll one day feel safe enough to share what scared him. But the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. When the housekeeper is brutally attacked, the town once again suspects the worst. Will discovering the truth help Lillian clear the name of the man she has come to love---or will it endanger her even more?

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana. Connect with Tracie: website, Facebook

Kimberley Woodhouse is a multipublished author of fiction and nonfiction. A popular speaker/teacher, she's shared her theme of Joy Through Trials with over 150,000 people at more than a thousand venues across the country. She lives, writes, and homeschools with her husband of twenty-plus years and their two awesome teens live in Colorado. Connect with Kimberley: website, Twitter, Facebook

My thoughts

I am impressed with this collaboration between Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse. I’ve read several novels by Tracie and enjoy her style. Kimberly is known for her excellent suspense, and while I don’t read a lot of this genre, I wanted to try this book because of the authors. Rich in characterization, setting, suspense and plot, the combined skill set that Tracie and Kimberly bring to the table makes this a very entertaining and compelling read.

California olive grove
Woody and Lillian drew me to them immediately. The community of Angels Camp, California was not kind to Woody, and as a result of people’s blindness to his innocence, Woody was worn down, vulnerable, and just plain tired. And Lillian . . . Well, she was exactly what he and his son, Jimmy, needed. Lillian had a feistiness about her that I loved, but more importantly, she had the ability to look beyond appearances and she refused to listen to gossip.

Woody and Lillian were empathetic characters; they touched my heart in a personal way. And the same can be said for a few secondary characters as well – such as the housekeeper, Mrs. Goodman, and 7-year-old Jimmy, who is at the heart of this story. Another touching part was the welcoming acceptance and befriending of the sweet, gentle Harry, childlike in a grown-up body. I couldn’t get Harry off my mind, and like Lillian, wondered “How many people missed out on knowing kind souls because someone else labeled them as simpleminded?”

Beyond the Silence has a strong spiritual theme, which I greatly appreciated in a time when many Christian fiction stories fall short in this area. There’s a contrast in words, between Jimmy’s self-imposed silence after witnessing something no child should ever see, and that of the townspeople’s quick judgement, brash condemnation and gossip. The story’s much-needed message about the power of our words – for good or evil, to bless or hurt – gives much to think about.

I thought that Mark, one of my fellow bloggers whose reviews always command my respect, summed it up perfectly and I wanted to share his comment that I heartily agree with:  “Great job, ladies, on a book that personifies what Christian fiction should be, and what Christian suspense should be.” (Click on this link to see Mark’s review at Thoughts of a Sojourner)


Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Litfuse landing page:




Congratulations to Marilyn on winning a copy of Beyond the Silence. However, the e-mail you provided did not work, so please contact me by 2/8 or I will need to draw another winner.

Are you a suspense fan? Do you like books that are co-written? Fan of Tracie and/or Kimberly’s books? To enter the drawing for Beyond the Silence, just leave a comment, then click on this Facebook link and share about the giveaway ("likes" to my FB page are also very much appreciated).

BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on Friday, February 5. Winner will be chosen by and contacted by e-mail.

Eligibility: US residents

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: Undaunted Hope

Undaunted Hope
By Jody Hedlund
Beacons of Hope, #3
Bethany House, 2016


Eagle Harbor, Michigan

In a town mired in darkness, she may shine the light they need.

Running from the mistakes of her past, Tessa Taylor heads to the uppermost reaches of Michigan, planning to serve as the new teacher to the children of miners. She quickly learns the town had requested a male teacher, but Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since it's too late to replace her. Tessa can't help but thank him and say she is in his debt.

Determined to make herself irreplaceable once spring thaw arrives, Tessa throws herself into her work, and soon two students have decided Miss Taylor is the right match for their grieving father. At the same time, charming assistant lightkeeper Alex Bjorklund makes his interest known, surprising Tessa, who has never had men fight for her hand before. But not all is well as she feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

Keweenaw Peninsula

My thoughts

I’ve been blessed to have read enough of Jody Hedlund’s books to know that she is consistent in all that she delivers – captivating storytelling combined with rich characterization, romantic tension, vivid sense of place, and a wealth of historical details drawing from actual eras and people. Rather than saying that this or that book is my favorite, I think that with Jody’s writing, the book I am currently reading becomes my favorite. However, I will say that several themes in Undaunted Hope instantly drew me in – such as Tessa’s school teaching, Alex’s breeding of Norwegian Elkhounds (I loved Bear and Wolfie!), Michael’s children, and the plights of the copper mining community.

Norwegian Elkhounds
Tessa is a wonderful lead character who inspired me throughout. Those who have read the previous novel, Hearts Made Whole, will remember that she hasn’t always been all that likeable. But five years have passed and it’s now 1871, when Tessa comes to Eagle Harbor on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to teach school. She is a tireless worker, determined, strong willed, and opinionated – but most of all, caring. The normal romantic tension is heightened by the fact that two brothers, Alex and Michael, both care for Tessa. Romance fans will love the opening scene where Alex rescues her from the waters of Lake Superior. Also, Jody’s skill at vividly conveying historical elements, like ice fishing and copper mining, added much richness and pulled me right into the characters’ lives.

Ice fishing on Lake Superior
Tessa’s growth and maturity from a questionable past reflects one of the best things about Christian fiction - journeying with a character and finding much that applies to our lives. Grace, redemption, courage, and trusting God for the necessary strength to confront fears are a few themes that touched me.

This series has been special to me because I’ve always been drawn to lighthouses, for they symbolize the human condition of danger, lostness, rescue, hope, and the safety that comes through Jesus. There’s a literal contrast between light and dark in Undaunted Hope – the lighthouse’s shining beam with the darkness deep within the mining shaft – but a spiritual one as well. Tessa’s wanting to be a shining light for change within the community made me think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Beacons of Hope Series
Undaunted Hope arrives at a very satisfying conclusion. Starting with the novella that begins this series, Out of the Storm, a connecting factor has been the passing on of a letter and a hope-filled cross carved from driftwood. I am intrigued with the character who received the cross toward the end of this story and am eager to see how Jody brings the Beacons of Hope series full circle.

Recommended to all who enjoy historical romance.

Watch for an interview with Jody + a GIVEAWAY coming soon!

Click on these titles to see my review of the previous two novels:
Love Unexpected
Hearts Made Whole


Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Thank you to Jody Hedlund and Bethany House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review: Called to Pray

Called to Pray
By Linda Evans Shepherd
Revell, 2015


When you feel a nudge to pray, what will you do?

Most of us have felt it at one time or another: that unexplained prompting in our hearts to stop and pray for a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger. Sometimes we are even awakened from a deep sleep with an even deeper need to go to God in prayer. Where do those urges come from? Are they truly from God? Or are they merely stray thoughts? And if we respond in prayer, are others' lives affected at all?

In Called to Pray, Linda Evans Shepherd shares dozens of inspiring true stories of people who have heeded God's call to pray and the astonishing results of those impromptu prayers. Through accounts of people being protected from harm and rescued from danger, of needs being met and hearts being encouraged, you'll see that God is involved in an active and dynamic relationship with us--and that we can be part of his plan to bless others.

If you have ever wondered if prayer has any real effect or doubted that God communicates with us personally, this heart-stirring book will amaze, inspire, and equip you to respond to those holy promptings.

My thoughts

I found Called to Pray by Linda Evans Shepherd to be a thoughtfully inspiring and encouraging book, exactly what the subtitle promises: Astounding Stories of Answered Prayer. It is actually a collection of powerful stories — each beginning with Scripture and ending with a summary thought and short prayer. Chapter topics include being called to pray for specific things like protection, rescue, guidance, souls, and trust. With the way this collection is laid out, you can read a few stories at a time or use it as a devotional.

There is so much that I don’t understand about prayer, but I do know that it is very real, that God hears, and that He moves through our spoken words to Him. What I found so moving was the reminder that God frequently prompts us to pray, places certain people or needs on our hearts so that we will cry out to Him on their behalf – and then He answers. This quote from Max Lucado in Chapter 2 says it all:  “You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don’t need to. But this much is clear: actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth.”

I think some of the book’s effect was lost on me by reading straight through for review purposes. But as I said earlier, it would be a great resource for meditation – and also a wonderful gift, especially for new believers.



Linda Evans Shepherd is an award-winning author, a popular speaker, and a radio personality. The president of Right to the Heart Ministries, she is the author of several books, including When You Don't Know What to Pray, Experiencing God's Presence, and The Stress Cure. She and her husband live in Colorado.

Find Linda online at

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: I Hope You Dance

I Hope You Dance
By Beth Moran
Kregel/Lion Hudson, 2015


Ruth Henderson has moved back in with her parents--something she swore she would never do, especially not at the age of thirty-three. But in the face of the mountain of debt left by her late partner, and the fact that her teenage daughter, Maggie, is expressing her grief through acts of delinquency, there was really only one option.

Returning to a house Ruth swore never to set foot in again is bad enough. Add to this an estranged father, whirlwind mother, and David--the boy next door who broke her heart--and it is little wonder Ruth can barely make it out of bed.

But then, reunited with her old friend Lois, Ruth is persuaded to go along to a monthly girls' night. Here she meets a bunch of incredible women and for the first time since leaving home at eighteen, Ruth begins to make some genuine friends.

She also has her first ever date--with the charming Dr. Carl Barker. However, after a disastrous dinner, and an upset Maggie still struggling with her father's death, Ruth promises her daughter she won't go out with any other men. A promise she quickly regrets when David, the boy next door, asks her to dance. . .

My thoughts

I Hope You Dance is a wonderful book and I am thrilled to have discovered the writing of Beth Moran. Filled with realistically flawed, often quirky, yet loveable characters, this is a story about relationships – broken and strained relationships, healing, forgiveness, and genuine friendships. There’s tender romance, suspense, poignancy, and laugh-out-loud humor woven throughout.

Faith-based British fiction is a little different than the more conservative style that Americans are used to. For instance, off-color dialogue pops up occasionally and the use of alcohol is prevalent, though not excessively. However, I expected this going in and it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this great story.

I have always been a fan of British fiction, and loved being transported to the small town of Southwell, England. The cover made me think this would be a lighthearted romance, but was I in for a surprise! The romance between David and Ruth is enchanting, but there’s so much more. It’s easy to think of themes:  relationships, friendship, giving, and dance – both literal and figurative.  Readers will be able to relate to Ruth’s character and I was immediately drawn to her. Not only did she live with the guilt of a youthful mistake, but she kept punishing herself for of it. In Ruth’s words, “I had abandoned everything my mother had taught me and spent my entire adult life settling and making do. I had not strived, fought, adventured, embraced, journeyed, dared, been inspiring or inspired. I had barely laughed.”

The strength of this novel is the development of various relationships – with family, friends, and God – and it’s moving to walk with these characters as they grow.  In the part where Ruth’s father tried to help by giving her some money, I loved her reasoning for hesitancy:  “Was it okay to cash in five-thousand pounds’ worth of guilt money, if the person was right to feel guilty? If you took the money, did that mean the debt was paid, they were forgiven, and you couldn’t feel mad at them anymore?”

Some of the things I found especially touching was the group of Christian women who regularly met for girls’ night out, the “yurt” weekend they put together for a couple who needed time away from their kids, and the befriending of senior adults.

I also want to give an example of one of the best parts of this story, and that is Beth’s lyrical writing style. In an emotionally healing scene where Ruth danced with her father, "we were trying not to slip in the waterfall of tears that gushed from our pathetic eyes and formed a lake of wasted time and stupid regrets on the wooden floor between our feet.”

Everything comes to a very satisfying conclusion, but I literally hated to turn the last page and leave these characters. Highly recommended.


Beth Moran has a background as a research scientist and adult educator. She now concentrates on church work and is part of the national leadership team of the UK women's network Free Range Chicks. She is married with three children and lives in Nottingham, England.

Find Beth online at

Thank you to Kregel/Lion Hudson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Luther and Katharina

Luther and Katharina
By Jody Hedlund
WaterBrook Press, 2015


Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

My thoughts

The combination of Jody’s love for history and masterful storytelling always results in novels that inspire and entertain, but Luther and Katharina is in a class of its own. Most of us know of Martin Luther and his impact on the established medieval church from the study of history, but I’ll be quick to admit that I had never heard of Katharina von Bora and was eager to learn more. Drawing from a framework of readily-available facts, Jody has fleshed out a “what might have been” timeless love story that not only entertains, but will challenge and inspire readers. It’s not always a comfortable read, for the times weren’t comfortable – and when it comes to courage, this book is very relevant for believers today. Luther and Katharina has become one of my favorite novels.

Luther, the great reformer of the medieval Catholic Church in 1523, and Katharina, a titled runaway nun, just might be the most unlikely pairing ever. One of the things I appreciated most is that, while I knew a lot about the historical figure, Jody’s story has given me a feel for the man himself – wisdom, strengths, flaws, health problems, weaknesses, courage, loyalty, and depth of faith. All the historical elements are there – class distinction, abuses within the church, enmity between peasants and princes, sedition, and a nobility that demanded much while giving little in return. I also found the wedding customs to be fascinating.

Wartburg Castle
Luther and Katharina is historically rich, based on much that actually happened. I was surprised at how politically powerful and controlling the church was, and that the faith Martin was espousing – that God wanted to hear directly from His children, that priests and nuns should marry – was considered heresy. Katharina had “believed that becoming a nun was the surest way to reach heaven,” yet she was a prisoner behind the cloistered walls, literally risking her life to escape. Relating to her struggle to let go of past traditions was so easy. “The urge to voice her deepest needs pulsed though her. What if she talked to God without a traditional prayer, the way the pastor did each Sunday? Would God hear her?” And for readers who love the romantic chemistry in Jody’s books, it is very much present here.

Luther and Katharina has a message, a challenge for us when we look at the commitment and courage of a believer like Martin Luther as he faced the threat of death in standing up for what he believed . . .

“Since Christ shed His blood and died for me, how can I not,
for His sake, place myself in danger? We must say,
‘Satan, if you frighten me, Christ will give me courage;
if you kill me, Christ will give me life.’”

As I sit down to worship on Sundays, I now have a deeper appreciation for what Martin Luther and other courageous believers endured in their efforts to pass on a pure faith in Christ. And I can’t help but hope that, as today’s climate of religious freedom shifts sharply, those who follow after us would find that we have been faithful also.

I highly recommend Luther and Katharina. Thank you, Jody, for sharing their story with us.


Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website:
For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest:
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Thank you to Jody Hedlund for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Santa Fe Sunrise

Santa Fe Sunrise
By Tanya Stowe
Pelican Book Group, 2015


Brett Fraser has quit his job, loaded his earthly possessions into his black sports car and headed out to find himself in the great Southwest. Somewhere on his successful climb up the corporate ladder, he lost sight of the man God intended him to be. But Brett intends to find himself again.

Rafaela De Silva has an art gallery to run, a sprawling piece of family property with back taxes due, and a younger sister to care for who suffers from anorexia. She doesn't have time for broken shoe laces, sprained ankles or tumbling into the arms of a handsome stranger, especially one whose past involves scandal.

Brett's determined to help the beautiful runner he rescues from a fall. After examining the smooth edges of her broken shoelace, he's convinced her accident wasn't accidental. But if he's going to help her, he'll have to convince her to trust him, a difficult task given his past.

Under the sun-kissed skies of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Brett must rediscover his purpose in life before he loses Rafaela forever. Who is trying to harm Rafaela? Will she live long enough for Brett to win her heart?

My thoughts

You never know what you’re going to find when you try a new author – but in this case, it was a gem. Tanya Stowe packed all the essential elements for a good read into Santa Fe Sunrise – well developed characters who pull at the heartstrings, mesmerizing setting, entertaining plot with elements of mystery, and inspiration. From paintings, to art galleries, to ancient artifacts, the artistic element immediately drew me in. Those who have read Tanya’s previous book, Sedona Sunset, will recognize a few characters, but this book stands alone.

I love it when a beautiful setting almost becomes a major character, and that is what Tanya has vividly done here. Santa Fe was a melding of “Native American and Mexican culture. New Age artists and cowboys. All of them clashing together in a flavor so distinct, it fascinated Brett.” And it fascinated me as well! Mountains and brightly-colored sky, Pueblo style homes, gardens tucked behind stucco fences and bright-colored gates came alive as I read. Tanya is gifted at scenic descriptions and all of this added much richness to the story.

The major characters had a depth that made them seem real, and they captivated me as well. Brett has a tender and caring nature, and Rafaela loves her family to the extent of feeling a protectiveness and responsibility to provide for them – while Brett just wants to keep Rafaela safe. Lucia, Rafaela’s mom, has a strong faith in God that provides a spiritual foundation for the family. I loved her words to Brett:  “You are not our savior, Brett, but your friendship is a gift from God.” And artistically gifted Sofia, Rafaela’s sister, stole my heart as she struggled with nightmares and anorexia. I don’t know what Tanya has planned, but I hope we see more of Sophia.

Suspense comes from I.C.E.’s tracking the path of illegally obtained Chaco pottery sold on the black market – along with the fact that a valuable archaeological site just might be located on Rafaela’s property. And in thinking about southwestern flavor, I have to mention one of my favorite scenes, that of Rafaela and Lucia performing the flamenco.

I also appreciated the strong spiritual element that was woven throughout – the importance of relying on God’s strength and guidance rather than our own. “Your mistake wasn’t in loving your father. It was in loving him more than God.” Brett’s words to Rafaela speak to all of us, for how easy it is to put something or someone ahead of God in our lives. But I think what touched me most was the way this story presents God as the Master Artist, reflected in Brett’s thoughts:  “He might not know where or how he fit into it, but one thing was clear, God had a plan. Anyone who’d witnessed these spectacular sights had to recognize the Master Artist at work.”

Santa Fe Sunrise is a beautiful story, romantic suspense with rich character depth. Recommended.


Novelist Tanya Stowe has had eclectic career. Working as a freelance writer, her profiles have featured celebrities such as Fabio and New York Times Bestselling authors LaVyrle Spencer, Shirlee Busbee, and Heather Graham. Tanya wrote grants, participated in a collection of women’s survival stories and collaborated on a full length Christmas musical. She also worked as a marketing assistant, and an event coordinator doing a stint with the American Cancer Society.

Find Tanya online at and Facebook.

Thank you to Tanya Stowe and Singing Librarian Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

January 4--Puddletown Reviews
January 5--Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance
January 6--Mel's Shelves | Singing Librarian Books
January 7--Katie's Clean Book Collection 
January 8--The Power of Words | Captive Dreams Window
January 9--Crystal's Chaotic Confessions | Just Commonly

Visit the Singing Librarian book tour page to enter the giveaway for an e-copy of Santa Fe Sunrise.