Tag Archive | inspirational

Breach of Trust (Book Review)

breach of trustDiAnn Mills is a fabulous romantic suspense author so when I came across her book Breach of Trust, I was thrilled. This book was the winner of the 2010 Christy Award as well as the 2010 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. And for good reason.

When Daniel Keary runs as a candidate for governor of her state, former CIA agent, Paige Rogers is on edge. Having worked with him seven years ago, his betrayal and lies cost her everything. Her identity, her family, her career . . . and her son. Now he wants her under his thumb but Paige isn’t quite so gullible. Her newfound faith since the tragedy of those events, propels her to work on the side of truth, before more people are killed to bankroll Keary’s dreams.

In hiding as a small town librarian, she runs into a snag with the attentions of the High School football coach. But if she admits who she really is, she will lose all she holds dear and risks lives of those she loves most, even those she had befriended in her new town.

But there’s at least one mole, in her town or in the CIA that is undermining her attempts to seek to protect the citizens of her state. But along with choices in who to trust becomes an issue of how she can live a lie while clinging to God. How far can she trust Him with the truth and the outcome if she steps out of the shadows to confront evil?

This was an anxiety producing read. It was hard to put down because the characters were so well-developed and the layers of mystery unfolded at such a pace to keep the reader wondering if Paige was really going to succeed, much less survive. Could all the dreams had sacrificed be restored to her if she stepped out in faith? You’ll have to read the book to find out! There’s a reason it won awards.

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Silenced (Book Review)

Book - SilencedSilenced is the fourth and final book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series. I find this terribly sad because I wanted Reef to have his own story! Boo hoo.

Kayden McKenna is probably the most walled up emotionally of the family. Things changed between her and Jake Westin during the last adventure when his past was revealed. It stripped away Kayden’s defenses as her heart warms to the tragic past Jake had hidden from them all.

Kayden however is thrust into solving a crime with Jake after she discovers the body of a dead climber and realizes that it had to be murder. Asking questions in small Alaskan villages amongst the tight-knit climbing community seems to have put her, and Jake, in the crosshairs of the killer who is teasing them and stringing them along. But is there one murderer to track?

Jake is head over heels in love with Kayden but doubts she would ever return the affection. As they work side by side and face an enemy from his past, will either of them be alive long enough for him to tell her how he really feels?

Stalkers and uncovering the ugly sins of others has consequences, even for those who have done nothing wrong and Jake and Kayden have to work together to uncover the killer(s). Fascinating story that kept me guessing while giving an inside look into the world of rock climbing (that I will never engage in!). I’m only sad it is the final story in the series, but look forward to seeing what Dani comes up with next to keep us from sleeping at night.

Stranded (Book Review)

StrandedDani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series has me hooked and apparently others too since I had to wait for others to finish her novels before I could get my hands on them at the library. Stranded is book number three and filled with adventure while looking at . . . well, not giving away spoilers!

Darcy St. James had been the pesky reporter in book #2 (Shattered). She had helped prove Reef’s innocence while falling in love with the McKenna family . . . and particularly Gage. She had given up investigative reporting until an urgent call from her old partner compels her to join the staff of a cruises ship as a travel reporter to uncover some mystery.  But when Darcy arrives, her friend suddenly disappears and the intrigue deepens.

Gage McKenna has been contracted to lead expeditions for the cruise line and is shocked to find himself coming face to face with Darcy. The fact that she’s a reporter doesn’t make it easier. The fact that she’s investigating a hidden crime for trouble she’s unaware of, deeply concerns him.

Eventually Gage and most of McKenna clan are involved in solving this mystery . . . and keeping Darcy safe. The deeper the trouble goes, the more Gage is forced to admit two things–he desperately needs God and he’s in love with the pesky reporter. But can he find her, alive in time to tell her so?

Beautiful scenery and adventure are hallmarks of Dani Pettrey’s writing in this series and her characters become much-loved as you follow their stories, love and faith. I don’t think this book would disappoint anyone seeking a romantic suspense that will keep you guessing.

Check In (Short Story Romance)

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Hey, Peaches. How are you this evening?”

“Fine, Mr. Cavendish. I have your favorite room ready. I even went to set the thermostat just the way you prefer.” After a quick swish of his pen on the bottom of the print out I handed over the key to room 211. It faced away from the parking lot and with a storage room on the other side of one wall, it provided Mr. James Cavendish with the kind of quiet he preferred while on the road.

“You did get the information that I am here for two days this time?”

“Yes, Sir, I did.”

James leaned across the counter. No small feat as it was four and half feet tall. “Are you working tomorrow, Peaches?” He told me he called me Peaches every time he checked in because he said I was a refreshing treat after a hard day of business meetings. I think it’s because of my strawberry-blonde hair. The name on my tag is Karen though.

“I work the usual, three to eleven.”

“Any chance I can get you to go to lunch with me tomorrow?”

I gulped. Not that I didn’t find James attractive. I did. Way too fine a man to be paying the likes of me any attention. He’s tall and with a deep tan and dark hair. Clean-shaven, he always wore sharp, but simple business suits with a fun tie. His smile could light up the town if the power ever went out. Empty dreams awaited down that road. Plus, last night the guy I had been dating, decided to check into the hotel. On my shift. With a top heavy gal wearing fewer clothes than most Sports Illustrated swimsuit models do. Well. I’m exaggerating a little. About as little as her dress was anyway. Obviously I wasn’t putting out since the only way he was getting that kind of treatment from me would cost him a ring and a wedding. Obviously I was out of his price range. Dirtbag. So I go from him to this fine specimen? The contrast startled me.

“I’m flattered, Mr. Cavendish, but I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“James.”

“Excuse me?”

“My name is James, Peaches, and please use it.”

“Okay, James. If you insist.”

His smile was broad enough to reveal a dimple. Won’t that be something to dream about tonight?

“I do, insist. Now, why would it be a bad idea for me to buy you lunch?”

“I don’t know you that well?” Why would I say this as a question? Of course I am dying to spend time with this man, I just figure . . . “Listen, James, if we date it will make working here when you check in, more difficult for me. Especially if things didn’t work out. I’m not a ‘girl-in-every-town’ kind of woman.”

He frowned but nodded. “Beautiful and wise. How is business tonight?”

“Good. We’re fairly full and you are the last of my reservations to check in. It will probably be a quiet evening.”

“What do you do when it’s quiet?”

“When I was in college, I would study or work on papers. Now that’s I’ve graduated I sit back and read.

“Do you mind a visitor tonight?”

“No. Occasionally I’ve had men, like you, come to visit. One used to play the banjo to keep himself from wanting to go out to drink. He used to come down to sing for me. It was sweet. Other times traveling men, even truckers, have stopped by to shoot the breeze. It has to be hard to travel and the only contact you have with a human is for business. I don’t mind.”

“Other men have been before me?” Wrinkles appeared on his forehead and he sighed. “So am I just going to be another notch on your desk?”

“No. For you, James, I’ll carve your initials. Will that make you feel better?” I grinned and his shoulders relaxed. He nodded.

“I’ll be back after I settle in.”

Week after week it was the same. James would come down to visit across the counter. If it got later and things were slow, I would sit out in the lobby with him. As long as I could get to the phone quickly, it was okay with my boss. I looked forward to his visits.

A few months passed. James had been on vacation for two weeks, and I didn’t get to see him until after that. When he strode in the door, he wore blue jeans and a t-shirt that fit oh-so-well across his chest. I almost didn’t recognize him.

“Good evening, Peaches! I’ve got some great news!” His pen made a quick flourish on the paper as I slid the key to him.

“What’s up, James?”

“This will be my last night staying here.”

My heart sunk to my toes. I think somewhere deep inside of me I even tripped over it as I filed his paper.

“Last night?”

“Yup. And you know what that means?”

“That I’ll miss seeing you.”

“Nah. Good guess but wrong. It means I can finally take you to lunch.”

I’m sure my confusion was written all over my face.

“I bought a condo in town. I’ve decided that my main base of operations is going to be here and I would hire others to run around for me.”

“Wait. You own the company?”

He dropped his eyes as he nodded.

“And you never told me? No. I’m sorry. I won’t be going to lunch with you. I thank you for the offer.”

Another customer walked in and I was busy for the next several hours. James never came down to visit.

I went home that night and licked my wounds in private. More like licked my spoon of very drop of Ben and Jerry’s I had in my freezer and suffered from brain freeze that did nothing to relieve the ache in my heart.

I had already turned in my resignation at the hotel and had planned to share the news with James, that I had finally nailed a job in my field. I would be doing marketing for a local company. This last night had been my final evening at the hotel.

It’s sad but James and I had shared all kinds of things. Dreams, favorite colors, foods and pets. We had talked about our families and childhoods. The highs and lows in our lives. The bad dates and the almost-the-right-one dates. We even shared a similar faith. I had never once asked him about his work. I figured he was trying to relax from it. I didn’t even know the name of the company he owned. Still, I thought he should have told me. I would never have even entertained foolish thoughts of a future between us. And I did. I was glad I had a week off between starting a new job to devour some more ice cream and then torture myself at the gym. All in an effort to forget this enigmatic man. My only consolation was that while it was possible for us to bump into each other in this town. It wasn’t likely.

The Monday after a week of orientation, I was surprised to receive a delivery of a dozen long-stemmed red roses. At work. The note attached said, “Congratulations, James”

I got a lot of ribbing from my co-workers and I kept the flowers there until that Friday night. After that week, I took the wilting flowers home. As I placed the vase on my kitchen table, I couldn’t help but think of James’ startling grey eyes and the way one little curl appeared if his hair grew too long. The rest was straight. Black as midnight. I wondered if I had missed my one chance of love with one of the really good guys out there.

My roommate, Stacy, whipped past and plopped a stack of messages in front of me. “Call the guy. He’s driving me nuts. I’m out of here for a date. See ya in the morning.” The door slammed shut.

I leafed through the pieces of paper. James. James. James’ secretary, Carol. James, James. The same number left on every page. By the time I finished the stack, I had the number memorized.

I dialed.

“You have reached the phone number of James Cavendish, President and CEO of Smash Industries. Please leave a number at the beep and he will return your call as soon as he is able.”

Beep.

“Hi, James. It’s me, Peaches. Thanks for the flowers. That was really sweet of you.”

I hung up and it rang.

“Hello?”

“Karen?”

“Yes.”

“It’s James.”

“I kind of figured. I saw the number on the caller ID.”

He laughed. “Why don’t you have a cell phone like everyone else?”

“No one has ever needed to reach me that badly to make it worth the expense.”

“I hope to be the one to make you change your mind on that.”

“Excuse me?”

“Listen. I’m sorry I never told you about my business. You never asked and specifically said you wanted my time with you to be relaxing and I was happy to forget about it when we visited. You became my lifeline every week to the real world outside of business. You don’t know how desperately I needed that.”

“I’m glad I could help, James.”

“I miss you.”

I smiled as a tear rolled down, tickling my cheek. “I miss you too.”

“Would you reconsider my offer of a date?”

Would I? Yes! In a much more subdued manner that nowhere near indicated the way my heart was waltzing in my chest, I responded. “I would.”

“Tonight?”

“If you give me time to change?”

“Is an hour sufficient?”

“More than.”

“I’ll pick you up.”

“Wait. Don’t you need my address?”

“Already have it. I’ll see you in one hour.”

I rushed to change and threw about five outfits on the bed. I finally decided on a nice pair of slacks, comfortable shoes and a simple sweater. I wasn’t going to be any more than I ever was. If James didn’t like that, then too bad. I would rather know that now.

An hour later, to the minute, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find him there in casual slacks and a button down shirt open at the collar and blazer. I swallowed. It had only been a few weeks since we had last seen each other. So why did he look better than I ever remembered?

“You are gorgeous out of your uniform, Peaches.”

I shook my head, grabbed a wrap and my purse and let him lead me to his car.

He drove me to a park and then helped me out. “Is it okay if we take a short walk first? We have time before our reservation.”

I nodded and let him lead me through a path edged with flowers. The birds sang and swooped around us as we strolled under the trees. The sun hadn’t set yet and the sky had a strange light. Soft and beautiful. We came to a bench and he motioned for me to sit. I did and he sat next to me.

“Karen. We’ve known each other for a few years now, but even more so in the past few months, I think we’ve become friends.”

I nodded. Friends. Wasn’t that the death knell to any relationship?

“I didn’t just choose to move here because it was convenient. I moved my main office here for one reason alone.”

I turned to him and tilted my head. “One reason?”

He nodded as he leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands in front of him. “Do you want to know what it was?” He didn’t look at me, but stared across the path at a bunny rabbit chewing on a flower.

“Sure. If you care to tell me. I always thought you didn’t want to talk about business.”

“I don’t. But I do want to talk about you. You and me.”

“What does that have to do . . .?”

He twisted to the side and took my face in his hands. “You. Everything has to do with you, Peaches. I love you. I can’t stop thinking about you. I can’t hardly work not knowing if you could possibly want me too.”

His thumb caressed my bottom lip and I let it fall open. I swallowed hard and put my own hand up to his stubbled chin. I had only ever known him as close shaven. I liked this version of the man. “Why would someone as wonderful as you, settle for someone like me?”

“You really don’t know how beautiful and delightful you are?”

I shook my head.

“Then let me show you.” His lips met mine and every bone in my body turned to melted wax. I was as light as air, carried away on a dream and a prayer. When he pulled back, all I could do was stare.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. Well, not so soon anyway.” That dimple appeared. I remained silent. I had no words. My brain was mush.

“Karen. I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. If it is too soon for that kind of sentiment, I understand, but I had to put it on the table. I want to stake a claim on your heart. Would you at least think about the possibility of marrying me?”

Puppy dog eyes couldn’t have begged sweeter than he did. I would have given him he moon if it had been in my power.

I nodded.

“Yes to considering or. . . “

“Yes, James. I would be delighted to be your wife. You already own my heart. I’ve been miserable without you.”

A smile spread over his face. “Really?”

“I love you, James. Now kiss me and take me to dinner.”

“First . . .” He dug in his pocket and pulled out a stunning ring and placed it on my finger.

“It’s beaut—”

My words were cut off by his kiss. I think he got the point.

Beautiful Bandit (Book Review)

BeautifulBanditCoverCompLoree Lough has written over 100 books . . . so I went to the library to see which ones they had on the shelves. She must be popular because of the many they carried I could only find one, Beautiful Bandit (Lone Star Legends V1), and was instantly hooked. I loved her ebook Jake Walker’s Wife which was also had a western feel. Loree didn’t disappoint me with this story either.

Joshua Neville is a pretty calm rancher, part of a big family but carrying deep loss inside him. When he travels to San Antonio to broker a deal for sale of some land, he witnesses the aftermath of a bank robbery that left three men dead. The strangest thing about it though was that from where he stood, the leader of the criminals was a . . . woman?

Kate Wellington had been gullible and duped by Frank who kidnapped her and holding her at gunpoint threatened to kill friends and neighbors as he robbed the bank. She was horrified at the events and held captive and abused by the brutal and narcissistic criminal. She managed to escape and stumbled into Josh’s camp as he is heading home. She changed her name to ‘Dinah’ and feared the Texas Rangers would be after her if Frank doesn’t get to her first. She talks Josh into escorting her across the Mexico border but when she hurts her ankle, he takes her to his ranch to heal instead.

Dinah struggles with her attraction to Josh but knows she has to leave or Frank will kill this family of faith she has come to love. She believes that if Josh finds out the truth about Frank, the robbery and the torture she endured, he would never want her anyway. But when the truth comes out, will Josh put his life at risk to keep her by his side?

This was a sweet romance and well written. Josh was a complex man filled with grief and conflicting emotions as he tried to respect Dinah/Kate’s wishes to leave him even as his heart dreamed of making her his wife. I’m not sure what number in her list of books this one falls, but I was glad to have stumbled up on it and enjoyed my time in its pages.

Shattered (Book Review)

shatteredI needed an actual paperback to read while sitting at the pool and picked up Shattered by Dani Pettrey at the library. Yay for libraries! Shattered is book 2 in Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage Series.

Piper McKenna is the heroine of this tale. When her youngest brother, Reef,  is arrested for murder, she is determined to find out the truth, which means finding the killer.

Heroes don’t come better than Deputy Landon Grainger. He has been an unofficially adopted member of the Grainger family and has known Piper for a long time. He knows that sometimes someone who professes innocence can really be guilty and he’s afraid Piper’s devotion to her brother will be her undoing.

When Piper is almost killed, however, he begins to realize two things. One: He loves Piper as more than an annoying little sister. Two: Someone else has committed the murder Reef is in jail for.

To solve a crime and protect Piper become his primary goals and when feelings begin to surface, life gets even more complicated. Will Piper and Landon get past this danger to confess their love? Can they prove Reef’s innocence? And will Landon resolve his mixed feelings towards God?

This was a wonderful story that was hard to put down. Romantic suspense at it’s best and banter between Piper and Landon as they struggled with their deeper feelings for each other was fun to read. Even with a series and a cast of characters that considerable, Pettrey makes it easy to determine who is who and I think this book stands alone well enough. I am enjoying getting to know the McKenna family and those they have enfolded into their loving arms.

Breathing on Her Own (Book Review)

breathing on her ownI am in the fortunate position, many times, to get asked to read and review a book by another author. While the manuscript I review is free to me, I try to be honest in the review. Breathing on Her Own by Rebecca Waters is one such book. It is not a romance but a contemporary women’s fiction. As well as a complex journey that a family takes on in healing and faith.

What if, after your adult daughter’s accident, the most hopeful words someone could say to you was “At least she is breathing on her own?” This is the reality that Molly Tipton and her husband are faced with after they learn their oldest (married) daughter was involved in a car accident and barely alive. The other occupant of the car as dead.

A sharp curve, dark night and alcohol were involved.

Throw in a difficult recovery and other losses as well as the possibility of a lawsuit for vehicular homoside and Molly soon realizes that her daughter is not the only one who is injured. Molly’s faith, or lack of it, is scraped raw by the events surrounding her daughter and she comes to realize how much she has to grow and learn and recover herself from a paralytic faithlessness.

As they struggle with the physical aspects of healing the family, and especially Molly, are challenged with their spiritual healing as well. Can God provide and make good the mistakes of the past?

This is a well written story that takes you into the pain of a family struggling through a crisis not only of physical pain, but financial and spiritual as well and discovering God’s restorative hand doesn’t always give us what we want, but exactly what we need. The book is available on preorder and is due out on the 25th of March.