Tag Archive | romance

Spatzle Speaks: Christmas Extravaganza Book Reviews

I’m back! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Mom doesn’t usually want me playing on her computer. She’s afraid I’ll post something embarrassing on Facebook as if I could do better than she does with that?

Next week three fabulous Christmas novellas are releasing and they are already available for preorder so get yours now!. Well, to be honest, there are more, but these are the only three I’m personally acquainted with, and since mom is so nice, I’m even including hers on this list.

Clear As Ice by Penelope Marzec

Marzec takes Haylie, a former Olympic ice skater with a stalker and a fear of dogs and matches her up with Ethan, a paramedic with serious issues with Christmas and God. The dog, Rufus, is the real star of this story as he is the ultimate matchmaker for these two. This immediately gains it five bones in my book, because I’m pro-dog because I am a dog. Haylie is afraid of relationships but finds that the handsome paramedic keeps showing up in her life, mostly because of his dog. Can Ethan break down the barriers to her heart and can Haylie help restore his faith in God and the wonder of Christmas in his?

Crazy Creek Christmas by Lisa J. Lickel

Leah Hane’s is without roots. She finds a job working as a cook at the Rocking J Ranch in Crazy Creek, Wyoming. This ragtag bunch of cowboys need more than good meals though. She quickly finds herself needed and helping them in a variety of ways as they strive to save the ranch from being sold.

Noel Johnsen is the legitimate heir to the property, or so he thinks. His family was lost in a horrific accident and Christmas brings up bad memories of that loss. He wants to ditch his family’s homestead but his brother-in-law who had been running the place is reluctant and the new cook they hired keeps butting her nose in where it’s not wanted. Soon more than the land is at stake…but his heart as well.

I love this ranch story. I love the outdoors and running around outside so I was for them keeping the ranch. You’ll have to read the story to find out what they do. I loved it.

Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps by Susan M. Baganz

A young woman, Noelle, hates Christmas and is paired up with an investment advisor in creating a magical gala for his company. He loves Christmas and soon finds himself attracted to the woman he’s helping out in creating his companie’s big holiday event.

Boy do I know about Wisconsin winters. I love the snow and we’ve already had plenty for me to jump around it. Mom thinks it’s funny becuase I can’t stand rain, or a bath. Regardless, this Christmas romance is sweet and mom included the family sugar cookie recipe at the end and I personally can vouch for how tasty those are.

My perspective:

All of these stories are worthy reads, so get them now and then do your dog a favor and snuggle up with them for a good Christmas reading time, hot chocolate optional. I give each story five bones, because I’m a dog and and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Ten Years

Ten years ago, I listened to a still, small voice telling me to write a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for more info go to http://www.nanowrimo.org).

So I did.

The first novel I ever wrote, finally released in November of 2017.

I wrote 117,000 words in 21 days. The goal was 50,000 words in 30 days. I had a blast. I was hooked.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. By the time I published my first novel in 2015, I had written my complete 5-book Gothic Regency series as well as four other novels. I had published a flash fiction and a short story. I was working as an editor for a small publishing house, Prism Book Group, which was eventually bought out by Pelican Book Group.

As of today…those totals have increased to 20 completed titles. 15 of those are published, three more are contracted and in the process of getting to publication. Two are awaiting a home. Five are available in audiobook and I’m working on recording some of my novels. I now teach workshops at writer’s conferences and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh through their continuing education department.

I have four more stories started.

My first published novel, with a new cover!

Life has changed significantly since God first called me to write.

Writing was initially an escape. A place to go to hide from the pain of my daily life. I wrote the happily-ever-after stories I wanted to read. I wrote about the love that I hadn’t experienced but believed was possible. I poured my own personal pain into the pages of my novels.

Then it happened.

Just as God revealed Himself in amazing ways as I wrote, he finally gave me my own happily-ever-after. After a long time of loneliness, struggling to obey God in my difficult circumstances, and finding freedom from that in 2017, God brought love into my life in 2018.

It wasn’t without obstacles. What good romance goes smoothly? Matter of fact, some of those obstacles remain, but I’ve found a new life to be LIVED, not just on the pages of my novels, but to experience and enjoy. And I found someone to do it with.

I won’t go into details of my struggle here. Those who have walked with me on that path have prayed, listened, encouraged, and even challenged me. I am grateful for their love and support.

Last year I didn’t do NaNoWriMo for the first time (after winning 8 years in a row!) because I was recovering from shoulder surgery, planning a wedding, helping remodel a house, and preparing to move my family. Oh, and all at Christmas-time!

God is good, even in the darkest days when I wondered if He would be good to me, I never doubted that it was His character. I am blessed beyond measure. I look forward to how my new life will impact my writing.

My poor hubby doesn’t understand all I do but is a champion of my work anyway. He’s loved the stories he’s read/listened to. This will be his first NaNoWriMo…so here’s hoping he can cope with this crazy writer. He’s done fairly well so far…

Happy November!

Spatzle Speaks: A Refuge for Rosanna (Book Review)

Susan Karsten loves the Regency period and it shows in her second book, A Refuge for Rosanna.

Rosanna has finagled a way to purchase a home in the country where she can live and not be forced into a marriage with anyone. She’s grieving the loss of her one true love and has no desire to ever marry. She longs to set up a sanctuary for women who want to avoid marriage but runs into a few snags in her plan. Long rambles on the property bring a neighbor to her awareness.

Lord Peter Winstead has a shameful past but it was his father’s sins that caused the loss of his beloved family home, Honor’s Point. Now in reduced circumstances, he lives a humble life on a small parcel of land that he was able to retain. Hiding his true identity for as long as possible, he is struck by the new owner but realizes that if the truth were to come out about his misdeeds, she’d never consider him an eligible suitor.

Romantic encounters, pesky neighbors, hidden treasure, along with challenging rescue all combine to tear them apart or bring them together. Will love overcome all?

If you love the Regency genre you will adore this sweet romance by Susan Karsten, book two in her Honor’s Point series! My mom has a hard time putting sweet stories of love and adventure like this down so I’m giving it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Her Hometown Heart (Book Review)

Andrea Boeshaar has written many wonderful novels and this one is no exception. Her Hometown Heart is full of just that–heart.

Amie Potter finds herself the recipient of her deceased uncle’s run-down gas station. Meeting Tom, who was like a son to her uncle, raises alarm bells due to a painful past. Soon she learns to look past the unkempt appearance and dirty clothes to the heart of the man undearneath. Maybe, just maybe, she should follow her old dream to run a hotel in this tiny town.

Tom Anderson has his own wounds from the past and big-city girl Amie doesn’t fit into his life at all. When she suggests they go into business together the bulk of the work falls on his shoulders as she goes back to work at her “real” job. The old filling station is torn down and a new hotel constructed. Life is changing for this man as he begins to fall in love with his partner.

Is it possible that her uncle had other plans for them both? Will their dark pasts get in the way of them finding a lasting love?

This is a sweet story where both characters show incredible growth through the book as they face their pasts and learn to trust in new ways as they cling to faith and take the risk partnering in business…and love. I highly recommend this sweet romance so I give it five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

God’s Sense of Humor

I haven’t posted here for a long time. Life got crazy last year between writing, editing, teaching high school until June, speaking at conferences, and then shoulder surgery. To top it off I met a man through online dating.

First I tried Zoosk and I hate to say it, but I got romanced by a guy I never met face-to-face. I had to learn the hard way about things like “bread-crumbing” and it was amazing the kind of research I needed to do to navigate this new world. I finally decided the guy was a fraud and ended that communication, but boy, could he write the sweetest emails! Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth, right? I’m a romance author. I should know that better than anyone.

After a few months of keeping my standards high, I had some communications via text, email, and a few phone calls, but dismissing anyone who didn’t quite make the cut. You have cats? Um, not happening as they make my eyes swell shut! Oh, your dog won’t like my dog? Sounds like it’s a pass for both of us. Seriously, these were some of the things that came up. I had no face-to-face dates although a few men were interested. They didn’t make the cut. I finally tried E-Harmony as Zoosk wasn’t finding me the quality of man I wanted. I signed up and then thought maybe I needed to wait until after my shoulder surgery was done, but it was too late. I couldn’t back out. E-Harmony wouldn’t let me. That whole idea of “three-day right to rescind” doesn’t apply to online dating sites.

So I was stuck. I started looking. I smiled at some potential guys that “matched” well. One of them smiled back. Then we texted and finally talked on the phone on my birthday. For two hours. I asked him three times: “So, do you want to meet?” He finally agreed and we set the date for the next day.

He showed up early (huge points in my book!) and brought me flowers (sweet!) in my favorite color and even wore a shirt that had the same color in it. We met at Qdoba. I had already had lunch, it was mid-afternoon on a Sunday, so I ordered nachos and a soda. My points on my card allowed me to have the nachos free – so all my date had to pay for was his quesadilla, his soda, and mine. My part: $1.50. Yup – cheap first date. For a man who values frugality that was a good thing!

We sat and talked for three hours. He lived 42 miles south of my town. He wasn’t going to move. I wasn’t going to move because I had three teenagers who were in school in our town and I wasn’t going to move them away from that – or leave my church. Does that sound selfish? We ended the date and stood in the parking lot.

“So, what do we do now?” he asked.

“I guess we can be friends?”

Friends who kept calling each other almost every day. We went to a musical the next week. We had dinner and closed out the restaurant. After that date, I gave him a hug because I do hug my friends and that’s all we were going to be. We had a few other dates. I really liked talking to his guy. He ticked off all the right boxes other than location. There were no deal-breakers. He was a godly man and he seemed to like me and accept that I was a tad on the crazy side. My two youngest teens were thrilled for me and liked him when they met him.

All the time I was texting my bestie with reasons why I should just stop seeing him and cease talking to him. She encouraged me to keep giving him a chance. He never did anything to raise any alarm bells.

Our fifth date – before we even kissed. Love the photo-bomber!

I was afraid to trust a man again after what I’d been through.

We didn’t kiss until the fifth date. He respected my boundaries and I told him when the time came I wanted it to be special. When I was ready, I had to make it clear:  I WANT A KISS. Like NOW! He got the message and oh, it was worth the wait!

The next day he surprised me by delivering a dozen long-stemmed red roses with baby’s breath. (swoon!)-in person.

I traveled to Philadelphia for a writer’s conference and had trouble getting home. He was willing to drive to downtown Chicago at 2 am if need be to pick me if that’s where I could fly into. As it was, I made it into Milwaukee, but he still had to wait in the parking lot till almost 3 am as I waited to file a claim on my lost luggage. What a guy!

I texted: “I’m still waiting.”

He responded: “Funny thing, so am I.”

A few days later I had shoulder surgery – torn rotator cuff and bicep was reattached. Awful pain. Long recovery. He came every day to take my dog out, wash dishes, make sure I had ice packs and watched many Marvel movies as well as all of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with me. The poor man hadn’t seen any of those! Sometimes I would fall asleep on his shoulder and then the movie would end and he’d sit there, the screen blank, because he didn’t want to wake me up. He even helped me proof audiobooks, which was about as much I could cope with as far as writing went due to the challenges of recovery. He’s a fan of Hallmark movies so proofing romance novels was not something he had a problem with and it was fun gauging his reactions to the stories. (hint: he really liked them!)

He decided he had nothing keeping him where he was. He was willing to move. He wanted to get married. To me.

No way! I wasn’t going to get married that fast. Ridiculous!

He said, “How about December?”

Absolutely not!

God had other plans. The joke was on me. He proposed, I accepted. He bought a home for us all, and together we worked on remodeling and I underwent physical therapy while trying to plan a wedding and a move to our new home. We underwent vigorous pre-marital counseling. He’d been married almost 40 years. I’d made it to 27 in my previous marriage. God had some healing to do in both of us and my new husband has been a huge part of that process.

December wasn’t a bad month to get married, the church was decorated so beautifully! The pastor asked why the rush. I told him that I refused to have sex until we were married and I really wanted to have sex. A friend who reads my books asked me if I was going to do like I write in my books.

“You mean not have sex until I’m married?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s why we’re getting married in December-it’s hard to wait!”

There are so many more stories I could share. Our relationship has been rich in laughter and love, but not everything is for public consumption. and not everyone has been supportive, although the majority of people have been overwhelmingly cheering us on. We’ve settled into our new home and I’m trying to adjust to a new life and how to fit in my writing and editing in the midst of that as I have so much more to live for and enjoy than the escape that my work used to provide. It’s not all love and roses all the time, but it is good – so much better than I could have dreamed for myself. I awake every morning with a smile grateful for the man next to me. That I get to do this life with him.

Someone told me a few years ago “Susan, you just haven’t had your happily-ever-after yet.”

On our wedding day, another friend said: “Now you get to live the happily-ever-after like you always write about.”

God has a sense of humor and He blessed me with a man who not only gets my goofiness but has a great sense of humor as well. One of the things I wrote on my E-Harmony post was that I wanted someone who was willing to dance with me in the kitchen. We have a favorite song for that which was supposed to be the song we walked down the aisle to as husband and wife. Well, the joke was on us as it didn’t happen as planned due to a technical glitch, but I’ll share the song with you anyway because it’s a favorite for us to slow dance to.

And in this crazy life
And through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you
You make me sing
You’re every line
You’re every word
You’re everything

 

Spatzle Speaks: Parhelion (Book Review)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Parhelion the latest release by Lisa J. Lickel but my mom was instantly gripped by the story and struggled to put the book down. She’s been busy so I’ve gotten extra snuggle time as she’s stayed up late reading in the middle of the night.

The main character, Maeve is in love with Harry, who is often referred to as Prince Harry. He is a former Air Force test pilot. Captain Harry is out of the service and has fallen for Maeve but he has a secret.  When he first made her acquaintance it was for another purpose.

Life on earth is reaching a critical stage where it might soon result in the death of billions. A few communities of select individuals have been preparing for this outcome for many years, and Meave is critical to their plan because she possesses something unique. Harry needs her to join the program but not just for how she can help – but also because he wants her for his wife and if a group leave the planet, he wants her with him on the journey.

The process of getting ready is riddled with complications within the community and from without and Maeve has a choice to make. Harry even struggles with the rules, or lack thereof for this new world, a space station, they would be populating. How does one make a choice when the end of civilization on earth is the only other option?

This book is written primarily from the points of view of Maeve and Harry in alternating chapters. It kept my mom on her toes wondering just what would happen next. Multi-layered and well-written it is a book that my mom strongly recommends. I give it five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: The Commandment (Book Review)

Anna Kittrell is a wonderful author of young adult fiction that even adults will love. The Commandment is a perfect example of her excellent storytelling.

In the science-fiction fantasy world Kittrell creates, everyone is mandated to get vaccinated with SAP (Serum to Advance Progressivism). It is a formula designed to erase God from the mind. When Briar was 7 her body rejected the vaccine and she’s been on house arrest ever since.

She’s about to become a legal adult and her body continues to reject the SAP injections. She is now ordered by the Commandment, to be institutionalized at ARC – a facility where tortures are rumored to occur. A last minute opportunity to become the object of an experimental subject of a new God-dissolving serum. She decides to take the risk but fears what losing God would mean to her. But anything would be better than spending the rest of her life imprisoned at ARC.

The relationship that develops between the young man in charge of the potentially life-changing serum along with his brother, nephew and assistant, (and a dog! Yay!) make the process even more complicated. Will God finally be erased or will the Commandment rule them all?

Filled with suspense and great relational tension, this book is a fun read with a surprising ending. I highly recommend it. My mom doesn’t normally read this type of book but really enjoyed it which meant more snuggles for me. I give this book 5 bones, as I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.