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Author Spotlight with Jacquolyn McMurray ( + Giveaway )

Today I’m happy to welcome author Jacquolyn McMurray for an author spotlight. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter to win the giveaway.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

In my early years of writing, I wrote poetry, essays, short stories, and flash fiction. After countless magazine submissions and rejections, I figured out that I needed to study the craft of writing. I took composition and poetry courses at the university level and some Saturday classes with local authors, but I felt I needed more. After studying the market, I discovered the romance genre had a sizable share of the fiction marketplace, so I signed up for an on-line class about writing romance. For several years, I dabbled in the romance genre and learned the structure. I’m grateful that I now have three published romances – one with Barbour Publishing. I write both contemporary and historical romances and all are sweet/inspirational.

What is your least favorite part of writing?

I’d have to say the technology part is a challenge for me. I’d love to be able to use Scrivener effectively, make book trailers, and keep files in better order. Just this morning I was trying to upload my headshot to the ACFW Fiction Finders site, and the photos would come up as some weird coded file. Come to find out, my internet was not working, so the files in Dropbox were not loading correctly. I didn’t know that at the time, so I spent an hour trying to figure it out. I absolutely need to be able to promote my books on social media. Even when I take classes to try to learn, most of them are above my level of understanding. And I live in a rural area of Hawai’i so in person classes are non-existent. I’m confident I’d like the social media part a lot more if I understood it better. It’s also time consuming when you are not skilled and that takes time away from actually writing. I do like the interactions on Facebook and I still think it is cool when someone pins one of my photos on Pinterest. I’m easily impressed, I guess.

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.

I’m a morning person. My regular routine is to grab a cup of coffee and go to my desk first thing in the morning. I usually start with a quick round of checking emails and social media, then I start the task that demands the most attention whether that is doing some accounting for our farm, working on character sketches, drafting a scene, or working on promotion. If I plan a long day of writing tasks at my desk, I also schedule time to take a walk or go to the gym. I take regular stand up breaks and often go out in the farmyard and watch the chickens, wild turkeys, or the cats.

Once a month, I schedule a 24-48 hour stretch of writing with my writing partners. We set our goals and dedicate ourselves to writing for as many hours as possible with breaks only for eating, sleeping, and taking walks. My husband knows that on these weekends I am not doing non-writer tasks, and more importantly, I give myself permission to only think about writing.

The other extremely useful routine I’ve established is to attend at least two writers’ retreats per year. These are typically 3-6 day events with 2-5 writers. We writers agree to maximize our writing time by sticking to a schedule and not allowing ourselves to get distracted by tv, radio, or social media.

Question for readers:

What routines have you established that help you meet your own goals?

For a chance to win an eBook copy of Christmas at the Aloha Café, leave a comment. A random drawing will select a winner.

About the Book:

Aloha Cafe owner, Noelani Kekoa, loves all things Christmas—the music, the children’s gift-drive, and the decorations. She especially loves the thought of winning the trophy for “Best Christmas Lawn Display.” This could be her year to win, if she can only come up with an idea better than Caroline Hoapili, Kona’s reigning queen of lawn decorations.

Caroline’s husband, Kalama, isn’t quite sure how to handle himself after Caroline packs up and flies to Honolulu to buy her decorating supplies. He’s never learned to cook and ends up eating all his meals at the Aloha Cafe where he experiences, firsthand, that Noelani’s obsession with winning the trophy is equal to his wife’s.

With the deadline looming, Noelani prays for an idea to present itself, but is she praying for the wrong thing?



About Jacquolyn:

Jacquolyn McMurray writes both contemporary and historical romance. She and her husband live on a macadamia nut farm on Hawaiʻi Island where they feed a clowder of cats and a flock of hodgepodge chickens. When Jacquolyn is not writing, she enjoys time with her family, reading, sewing and solving crossword puzzles. In her past life, she was an elementary school teacher.

Connect with Jacquolyn at:





NOELANI KEKOA STOPPED ALONG THE boardwalk on Aliʻi Drive and gazed through the Kona Festival Association’s plate-glass window at the impressive three-foot trophy. A bronze Christmas tree, twelve inches tall, stood atop a wooden base with a plaque that read, “Best Christmas Lawn Display.” She pressed her right palm against the cool glass to block out the winner’s name and imagined her name etched on the winner’s name plate. Caroline Hoapili had won every year since the contest started three years prior, and she didn’t let people forget it. Year round, a hand-painted wooden sign “Home of the Best Christmas Lawn Display” swung from the Hoapili mailbox.

Lord help her, Noelani longed to see her name on that trophy. She was confident she could win if she only knew Caroline’s theme for this year. Noelani had no desire to repeat the embarrassment of last Christmas when she’d chosen the same theme as Caroline and scored only half the points. With more than five weeks before the deadline, there was ample time to settle on a winning theme and build the display.

One more minute and she’d head on over to the Aloha Cafe to unlock the doors and brew the coffee before the breakfast crowd showed up. If she was lucky, Kalama Hoapili would stop in for his coffee break and unwittingly leak some information about his wife’s plan.

The aroma of frying Spam greeted her at the door. Her business partner, Aka Gamble, always arrived early on Thursdays to prep for his take on a loco moco—fried egg and Spam stacked on a scoop of white rice drenched in his secret gravy.

“Morning, Aka,” Noelani called from the dining room.

“Morning. It’s supposed to get up to eighty degrees today. If you’re planning to bake, you should do it early.”

“Not today. I need to get my decorations organized.” She whisked her thick, black hair into a ponytail, brewed the morning coffee, and packed the Halloween decorations into three orange storage tubs.


He poked his balding head out of the kitchen. “What’s up?”

“Would you get the ladder and bring it to the storage room so we can put these things away? It’s time for the Thanksgiving tubs to come down.”

She carried the containers to an eight-by-eight-foot storage room lined with metal shelves on three walls. One set of shelves had plastic tubs marked Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Valentine’s, and an empty shelf for the Halloween decorations. The second set of shelves housed the tubs for Easter, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Labor Day. Noelani’s favorites sat on the last set of shelves—twelve red tubs filled with Christmas lights, garlands, jingle bells, CDs, a ceramic nativity set, an assortment of tree ornaments, a battery-operated dancing Santa, and seven slender pre-lit pencil trees. Her prized seven-and-a-half-foot artificial blue spruce stood propped in a corner wrapped in protective plastic.


Thoughts on the Christian Writer’s Journey — MaryAnn Diorio ( + Giveaway)

Today I’m happy to welcome author MaryAnn Diorio for an author spotlight, giveaway, and more.


When I began my journey as a writer of fiction, my writing mentor gave me a piece of advice that has proven invaluable over the years. She advised me to focus not only on learning how to write a story, but, more importantly, to focus on how God was writing the story of my life as I wrote the story of His heart.

At first, I did not fully understand my mentor’s wise words. But now, after having published four novels and two novellas, I am beginning to understand what she meant.

You see, the writing journey is more about discovering one’s own character than about creating story characters. The writing journey is more about drawing closer to God’s story for the writer’s life than about the writer’s creating stories for her characters’ lives. In short, the writing journey for the Christian writer is about seeing oneself in the light of God’s truth and becoming more and more like Him.

How this happens is both a mystery and a revelation. It is a mystery in that, as we write, God works in us unawares, and only later do we look back and notice we are different. Better. More like Him. It is a revelation in that only by looking back over our writing process do we discover that God has been writing His own story in us as we have been writing the story He has given us to write.

As I move on to the next novel and, Lord willing, to many more after that I do so with great expectancy. Expectancy not only that the new story God is writing through me will be better than the last, but, most importantly, that the story God is writing in me will be exactly what He intended it to be a story that glorifies Him and points people to Jesus.

READERS, leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of “In Black and White”. (Winner must reside in the United States)


What genre do your write in and why? This book is in the relatively new genre called New Adult in which the main character falls between the ages of 18 and 35. The New Adult character has just set out on her own in life and faces the most important decisions of life: who to marry, what career to choose, etc. I also write women’s fiction, which deals with the deepest issues of life that women face.

What do you think when you’re alone in the car? When I’m alone in my car, I mostly think about the Lord. I love to worship Him as I drive and to talk with Him about all kinds of things: my family, my writing, my ministry. I also love to pray for the people I see walking along the road or in the cars behind me or in front of me.

Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Why do you writ the kind of books you do? Currently, I have a couple of ideas in mind for my next book and have been praying for God’s instructions as to which one to write next. The reason I write the kind of books I do is that I love people and want to point them to Jesus, the only One Who can truly set them free.

About the book:

A white woman. A black man. And their forbidden love. Can endurance and faith sustain the love between a white woman and a black man, threatened by rejection, guilt, and racial injustice? Can love alone reconcile their starkly different worlds, lighting the way to a bright future together?When graduate student, Tori Pendola, a white American woman, and Jebuni Kalitsi, a Ghanaian exchange student and heir to his tribe’s chieftaincy, fall deeply in love, they must face not only their own inner demons of rejection and guilt but also the demons of societal hatred bent on destroying their relationship. Will their love survive the cruel and bitter attacks against them? Or will hatred and prejudice gain the upper hand?In Black and White is a deeply moving story of the power of God’s love to restore all that is broken in their lives.



About MaryAnn:

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is an award-winning author of fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. MaryAnn resides in New Jersey with her husband of 50 years, a retired ER physician. They have two amazing adult daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn enjoys painting, playing the piano, and making up silly songs with her grandchildren. You may reach MaryAnn at




Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1959

The bold-print newspaper announcement of a Ghanaian art exhibit at the nearby Philadelphia Museum of Art caught Tori Pendolas eye. Anything related to art always caught her eye. Art had a unique way of soothing the deep-seated feelings of rejection that had haunted her life ever
since, as a twelve-year-old child, shed overheard her father complain to his best friend that she had been an accident.

An accident?

The word had thrown her heart into a tailspin. The angry tone of voice with which Pop had spoken it still blared in her ears, like the scraping of fingernails across a chalkboard. He might as well have said unwanted. It would have been more truthful. She stifled the searing memory and, as always in times of emotional pain, she turned to art. It was her solace. Her refuge. An escape from suffering.

Immersing herself in art helped her forget the dull ache that constantly gnawed at her heart. The dread-filled feeling that no one would ever want her. That rejection and loneliness would be her lot in life. How she longed – needed –  to know she was worth something to someone! That she was accepted despite her flaws and loved without condition.

She picked up the newspaper from the coffee table and turned toward her younger sister. “Anna, look at this! We have to go!”

Anna raised her eyes from her copy of Cry the Beloved Country, the novel that was still shaking the post-World War II world eleven years after its publication. “Go where?”

Newspaper in hand, Tori approached her sister and pointed to the advertisement. “Its an exhibit of Ghanaian art, right here in Philadelphia at the Museum of Art.”

Anna scanned the newspaper. “Looks interesting.”

“Only ‘interesting’? Its fascinating!” Anna chuckled.

“Well, of course its fascinating to you. You’re the artist. But, to me? Well, lets just say I have other things that interest me more.”

December 2019 New Releases!

December 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Stranded for the Holidays by Lisa Carter — Running away led her right where she belonged. A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for. Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson — After a knockout first date where Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley claim to not want kids, both come home to find three children dropped in their laps. . . each. While struggling to keep their heads above the parental waters, and without wanting to break up their relationship, they decide to do the mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Home for Christmas by Candee Fick — After an embarrassing failure, a prodigal retreats to a secluded cabin in backwoods Missouri where he encounters an intriguing young woman and an old guitar. When the message in the music touches his heart, will he make it home in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna by Barbara James — While interning as a hospital chaplain, a young military officer falls for an EMT who is an antiwar activist. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Battle In The Valley by Susanne Blumer — The church bell tower transports Chip, Caroline and Billy back thousands of years to an ancient battlefield. There they meet a young shepherd destined to be king and a giant warrior bent on his destruction. Will the children survive the upcoming fight and make it back to Palmetto Island in one piece? (Middle-grade from Sutton Avenue Press)


Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby — When a former legionary and a gladiator are hired to escort a young woman on her quest to rescue her brother and sister from slavery, more chains are broken by forgiveness and love than any of them thought possible. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Historical Romance:

The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings — In a western land run, an adventurous socialite stakes a claim on an orphaned outlaw’s chosen land, so he decides to stake a claim on her heart. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Sew In Love by Debby Lee, Jacquolyn McMurray, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse — When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love? In Hearts Sewn with Love, during the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t. In Woven Hearts, a shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help. In A Language of Love, a milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart. In Tailored Sweethearts, a parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear — During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Silent Night Suspect by Sharee Stover — Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit… All she wants for Christmas is to remember. Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig — After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)


Laynie Portland, Renegade Spy by Vikki Kestell — Laynie must fight to earn her place on the task force—even as unfolding events expose a looming danger. Wolfe’s task force has a leak . . . one that threatens them all. (Suspense, Independently Published)


Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Promise for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin, Historical Romance
Call to Love by Mary A. Felkins, Contemporary Romance
Joy’s Song by Ruth Kyser, Contemporary Romance
Hope Between Us by Christy LaShea, Contemporary Romance
The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Contemporary
Off the Ground by Catherine Richmond, Historical Romance
Crinoline Cowboys by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Historical Romance
A High-Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer, Historical Romance
The Christmas Gazebo by Marilyn Turk, Lenora Worth, Historical Romance

Never Underestimate the Heart of a Highlander — Janet Grunst

Today I’m happy to welcome author Janet Grunst as she shares about her upcoming release.

Smitten Historical Romance is publishing a second collection of novellas on November 15th. I’m one of four Smitten authors who contributed to the collection. Each story in The Highlanders is about men from the Scottish Highlands, though not all of them stay there. None of the authors knew what the others were writing about or what era the other stories took place. The result was four unique tales from different periods. Two are set in America and two are set overseas.

My story, The Year without Summer, takes place in 1816 and is set in the Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland, the same villages of some of my ancestors. A personal tragedy, as well as the economic situation, require Grant Cummings to leave his work on the Caledonian Canal and care for his brother. In Ulster Ireland, Molly MacGregor also suffers a loss but has no time to grieve as she sews and spins to earn enough to keep her and her young brother alive. See how these contrary characters aid and challenge each other to overcome their preconceived attitudes and difficulties.

The other stories Night Fox by J’nell Ciesielski, A Tender Siege by Naomi Much, and The Violinist by Jennifer Lamont Leo are gems and getting to know the other authors has been fun.

Choosing the cover for a book can be daunting for publishers and authors. Many cover options for Scottish Highlanders displayed far more of our Highlander than seemed appropriate for our stories and our readers. When Naomi Much, one of the authors, suggested her son might be willing to fill the bill and her daughter was a photographer we were thrilled. That’s the story behind our handsome cover model.

About Janet:

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was a Selah Award winner. A Heart For Freedom was a Christian Indie Award winner. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, and encouragement to the reader.

The Highlanders

A Heart Set Free

A Heart Set Free Represented By Linda S. Glaz
Hartline Literary Agency





November 2019 New Releases!

November 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Royally Yours by Betsy St. Amant, Ashley Clark, Liz Johnson, and Melissa Tagg — Tinsel, Vermont is known for its no-paparazzi policy and Christmas decorations that are fit for a queen. This holiday season, join four royals on a stroll through town square as they each find their Christmas wishes for a happily-ever-after…tiaras optional. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Christmas by Julie Arduini — A young woman overcome by grief teams up with a special education teacher to bring joy to the community through a Christmas-themed tourist attraction. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Valerie’s Verdict by Hallee Bridgeman — Broken and battered, Valerie comes home and finds a lifetime of love waiting for her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Unexpected Family by June Foster — Grant Elliot leaves his father’s veterinarian dynasty and overambitious twin brother to practice in the small town of Homedale, California. When local baker Kate Klein brings her ailing dog into the office, Grants’s intrigued by the lab’s gorgeous owner. He wants to get to know her but can’t reveal his origins. What would she think if she knew his father’s clinics cater only to the wealthy who spoil and pamper their pets instead of practicing genuine medicine? Kate Kline inherits Aunt Ella’s Bake Shop when her aunt passes away and must make a success of the failing business or lose her father’s respect. Now California Plastics, her major account, has moved their plant to Sacramento. She’s faced with the possibility of closure and won’t accept Grant’s offer to bail her out. She doesn’t need a man’s help. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

All is Bright by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Kari Trumbo — Four of your favorite contemporary romance authors join festive forces to bring you the fourth-annual Christmas Lights Collection. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Simply Smitten by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Business brought them together but will betrayal pull them apart? Michael Pierce co-owns a start-up software development company. They are well on their way to success when Michael discovers something that changes everything. Can the beautiful economist he hired fix the mess, or are they doomed to bankruptcy? Hailey is under a lot of pressure at work. Not the least of which comes directly from her new boss. She’s dreamed of being a successful businesswoman, but now her heart wants more. Can she have love and a career, or will she have to choose? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

By All Appearances by Dawn Kinzer — An attractive special events planner from a wealthy family and a disfigured musician find their lives entangled when he is hired as a caretaker on her family’s estate. (Contemporary Romance from Mountainview Publishing)

Courting the Amish Nanny by Carrie Lighte — Embarrassed by an unrequited crush, Amish maedel Sadie Dienner needs a vacation from her life in Pennsylvania—and from romance. Until Christmas, she’s working in Maine as a nanny to Amish widower Levi Swarey’s twins. But Levi is frustratingly overprotective and they just can’t see eye to eye on anything. And the worst part? Sadie can’t seem to stop herself from losing her heart… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

Meant For Her by Joy Avery Melville — Kidnapped, raped, brutally beaten, and left for dead, Candi Reynolds becomes a prisoner of fear. Faced also with the impact of the unexpected break-up with her fiancé, and an unwanted pregnancy resulting from the attacks, she believes God has forsaken her. Choosing to move back to the Michigan horse farm owned by her older brother, Dr. Cam Reynolds, Candi goes into seclusion. Dr. Patrick (Mack) MacKevon, long-time friend of Cam’s, watches from the sidelines at the farm where his horses are stabled, while Candi struggles to regain a sense of normalcy. His own big-brother tendencies develop into a much deeper emotion over the months he prays for her. Is it possible for Candi to put all of the pain and trauma behind her and renew her former relationship with the Lord? Will she allow her heart to open enough to discover authentic love, while making decisions of victory on her personal journey to joy? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser — A bestselling author, her daughter, and the perpetrator of her assassination attempt are brought together in a story about complicated choices, mental illness, forgiveness and grace. Set against the flaming hills of North Carolina and the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean Sea, When I Close My Eyes tells the story of two families, struggling with dysfunction and finding that love is stronger than death. (Contemporary from Bethany House [Baker])

A Beautiful Mess by Brenda S. Anderson — A single mother becomes guardian of her ex-husband’s love child. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)


Wounded Heart by Colleen Hall — Orphaned Della Hughes chafes at her strict Victorian upbringing and goes west with her uncle’s family in order to find adventure and freedom. (Historical from Anaiah Press)

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller — What happens when the hoydenish youngest daughter of the Viscount Aynsley is spirited off to Scotland and meets a kindhearted gardener of the mysterious Laird of Dungally? (Historical from Kregel Publications)

The Silk Merchant of Sychar by Cindy Williams — One woman, five husbands and a weary rabbi at the well who knows ‘everything she ever did.’ From the olive groves of Samaria to the bloodied sand of a Roman stadium to the exquisite silks brought from the East, The Silk Merchant of Sychar weaves color into the biblical account of the woman at the well. (Historical from Rhiza Press)

Historical Romance:

The Highlanders by J’nell Cieselski, Janet S. Grunst, Jennifer Lamont Leo, and Naomi Musch — Never underestimate the heart of a Highlander in these four romantic novellas set across two centuries from 1715 to 1915. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Marisol by Elva Cobb Martin — Alone and with child, Marisol Valentin flees Spain after murdering the nobleman who molested her. She is sold as an indentured servant at the Charles Town Harbor, but her ship is captured at sea by privateer Captain Ethan Becket, once a Charles Town minister, who is grieving his deceased wife. Ethan decides Marisol’s elegant manners make her a perfect governess for his young son. But when he sets out on a quest to find his captured sister, said to be in Cartagena, little does he expect his new Spanish governess to stow away on his ship with her six-month-old child. Her offer of help to free his sister, however, is too tempting to pass up. As is her beauty and strength of character—until he learns she is a wanted murderess. Once their paths intertwine on a journey filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome their pasts and ignite a new beginning. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

In Black and White by MaryAnn Diorio — When graduate student Tori Pendola and Jebuni Kalitsi, a Ghanaian exchange student and heir to his tribe’s chieftaincy, fall deeply in love, they must face not only their own inner demons of rejection and guilt but also the demons of societal hatred bent on destroying their relationship. Will their love survive the cruel and bitter attacks against them? (Historical Romance from TopNotch Press)

Serving Up Love by Regina Jennings, Tracie Peterson, Jen Turano, and Karen Witemeyer — On the Menu for These Ladies? Adventure, Independence, and a Big Serving of Romance! A storied part of American history, Harvey Houses offered women a unique chance to gain independence and see amazing parts of this great country. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

While the Rain Whispered by Kim Williams — Clara Williams has a good life, but she would walk away from it if she could. She longs for adventure greater than both the confines her rural Texas town and the people she loves have to offer. Clara is certain the stories she writes for children contain more adventure than her reality. She cannot reconcile the internal frustration with her faith. When opportunity presents itself at last, Clara is faced with a choice between the life she’s known and the life she longs to know, and the men who each belong in one but not the other. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Pocket Change by Debbie Archer — When Publisher’s Clearing House winner, Mary Clare Casteel, decides to help rejuvenate her dying town, she has no idea she’ll end up solving not one but two mysterious deaths. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Dead Wrong by Vannetta Chapman — When Agatha Lapp’s brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a buggy accident, Agatha relocates to the new Amish community in Hunt Texas, nestled in the Texas Hill Country. She’s there to make a success of her brother’s dream–an Amish B&B. Agatha is friendly, efficient, and capable. She’s also a fifty-five year old widow who has learned to be independent. When she discovers Russell Dixon’s lifeless body in Cabin 3, she runs next door where retired detective Tony Vargas lives. The police determine that her guest died of natural causes, but as Agatha and Tony put together the events of the previous two days they become convinced that the police are Dead Wrong. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff — John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God’s calling. He’s not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past. But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf–an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to do penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again. Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John’s secrets are laid bare. Can he keep his vow–even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he’s learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, John’s life may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer. . . (Thriller/Suspense from Kregel Publications)

The Sleuth’s Conundrum by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Danger lurks and suspicions abound when a librarian, her young assistant, and a local reporter try to solve the mysteries of both a dead woman and an abandoned child. (Cozy Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Deadly Harmony by Marissa Shrock — Georgia Rae Winston’s romance has broken up. But that’s the least of her problems. Georgia and Detective Cal Perkins are through. Fine. Maybe it’s an opportunity to give charmer Hamlet Miller a chance. But there’s no time for romance when Georgia hosts her stepsister and her roommate, Quincy, during a college chorale tour—and Quincy steals Georgia’s car and disappears. When her car turns up in a cemetery with a cryptic note lying on the front seat, Georgia decides to take action. As Georgia and her stepsister dig into the mystery, they uncover Quincy’s tumultuous past. A past that points to a frightening present. They dig deeper and discover a web of deception they’re determined to untangle, if they can stay alive long enough to bring the truth to light. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

One Day Gone by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas Grey, the chief investigator for Senator Davis Allen, enlists the help of a beautiful photographer when he returns to his hometown to investigate the disappearance of Lizzie Allen, the senator’s missing daughter. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Dangerous Christmas Memories by Sarah Hamaker — Hiding in witness protection is the only option for Priscilla Anderson after witnessing a murder. Then Lucas Langsdale shows up claiming to be her husband right when a hit man finds her. With partial amnesia, she has no memory of her marriage or the killer’s identity. Yet she will have to put her faith in Luc if they both want to live to see another day. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


What If? by Roger E. Bruner — Three teens join forces with Holyland’s outgoing president to prevent the inevitable election of a man who’s determined to wipe out the remnant of New America’s few remaining Christians. (Speculative, Independently Published)

Author/Book Spotlight with Catherine Brakefield (+ GIVEAWAY)

Today I’m happy to welcome author Catherine Brakefield for an author/book spotlight. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter to win the giveaway.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Currently, I write inspirational historical romance. I have completed my four-book saga with Waltz with Destiny.

In Waltz with Destiny, my readers will learn the reason why this World War II generation was named The Greatest Generation; and why America’s greatest generation is yet to be!

The following Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote is apropos and meaningful for our generation:

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

My Destiny saga begins in 1857 with Swept into Destiny, continues in 1898 with Destiny’s Whirlwind and in 1918 with Destiny of Heart. After nearly one hundred years of faith, hope, and Christ’s sustaining love that brought Americans to the pivotal point in history to World War II, the Destiny saga concludes in August 1941 with Waltz with Destiny.

With the turn of every page and never knowing what to expect, my faithful readers have traveled through the tunnel of trepidations with my characters Ben and Maggie McConnell, Collina and Ruby McConnell, Franklin Long, Stephen Meir, and Buck Briggs. We are nearing the final stretch of the ultimate moral test of the McConnell legacy!

Beginning with Swept into Destiny, Irish immigrant Ben McConnell is determined to uphold his faith in Jesus Christ and loyalty to his adopted country, the United States, and names his estate Shushan. You will not know the meaning behind the name Shushan until you read Book 4.

Throughout the Destiny saga, I have hoped my readers would come face to face with their own spiritual goals by learning this through my character’s heartaches, trials, and triumphs. The climax of Shushan and the McConnell journey ends with Waltz with Destiny.

Can you explain this to us a little better by giving us a peek into Waltz with Destiny, your heroine’s and hero’s family upbringing, maybe through a character backstory?

My name is Esther McConnell Meir. My mother is always telling me, “When you meet the right man, you’ll have no trouble following.”

Mother doesn’t understand. I have two left feet and have gone to dances before. I always spend most of the evening plastered to the wall, watching others having a good time. Besides, I have more important things on my to-do list.

Mother is always full of hope. When there doesn’t seem anything to believe in, she says, “There is a rainbow with our names on it in Detroit.”

I want to get Mother, Brother, and myself into a place of our own, so we’re not beholding to our uncle for a roof over our heads. I’m not planning to live out my life like my mother did, working in some hot cleaners. Nor can I rely on any man to lead me. He could die like my father did, leaving me with a five-year-old toddler pulling on my skirt while holding a two-month-old baby in my arms.

I’m not so sure I want to fall in love with any guy, not with a war looming on the horizon.

Hi I’m Eric Erhardt. I knew Esther was different from the other gals the moment I met her, and I’m determined to win her over. I’m used to working hard for everything I have. The Great Depression taught me to persevere. I peddled newspapers before school, sold apples on street corners, and gave what I made to Pa.

Pa said, “With God, I can accomplish anything I put my heart into.”

So, I worked all the harder. I became a jumper for The Detroit News after high school and went to night school and landed a job in an engineering company.

With Hitler and Japan knocking on our door, well, it’s just a matter of time before I’ll have to fight in a war I don’t have time for. I heard that some outsiders think American guys like me are soft, not much more than playboys. What’s wrong with playboys? I kind of enjoy that title.

Some people over in Europe call my generation “religious mama boys.” Well, if Hitler or Japan tries to do anything to these old United States, we playboys just might have to put a few firecrackers down their pants and watch their interpretation of the jitterbug. Yeah, we don’t care what they think about us, but don’t mess with our families or the good old USA!

Here is an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Waltz with Destiny:

Esther watched as round and round the couples danced. Their laughter rose and fell in response to the waves of notes from Glenn Miller’s orchestra. Their steps were in perfect rhythm as if for one purpose, one desire.

She stepped away from the Vanity’s balcony, her gaze traveling to the multi-paned windows flanked with draping sheers. They offered dancers a peek of the stars outside, while crystal chandeliers cast a golden glow on the Mayan ceiling inside.

If she was dreaming, she hoped to never wake up. She stared into one of the glinted full-length mirrors adorning each side of the three promenades. A man smiled back, his eyes resting on hers.

“Oh!” She whirled around to find herself inches from the stranger. He had to be at least six-foot-four. Thick jet-black hair waved around a strong, masculine face. But his eyes caught her interest—intelligent, attentive, holding within their hazel depths a mischievous twinkle.

“Be careful. Some men here will take advantage of a beautiful woman.”

“Do men staring into a mirror count?”

“Only if they stare back.” A lighthearted laugh escaped. “Has anyone ever told you your eyes sparkle and get as big as saucers when you blush?”

Who is he?

His black tuxedo with shiny satin lapels emphasized broad shoulders and slender waist. An amused glint crinkled the corners of his eyes.

“I’m Eric Erhardt, a junior draftsman at Wood Industries. I’m taking night courses at Lawrence Institute, and I plan to own my own engineering firm someday. And you are?”

And besides being irresistible handsome, the man was a mind reader. “Esther Meir.”

His eyes didn’t leave her face. It was unnerving. “So, Esther Meir, what do you do besides looking like a porcelain priestess in this palace of the Aztecs?”

You’ve talked a lot about your readers here, so tell me about your ideal reader?

My ideal reader is that person who askes me when my next book will be out, and then tells me how much they enjoyed my earlier books, writes a review, and tells their friends about my novels.

A review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookBub, Goodreads, and Google inspires me to improve, excel and strive to make each new book better than the last. Readers are every writer’s employer, and a written review is like an unexpected bonus check.

Writers spend countless hours in what we could label “solitary confinement.” We tap away patiently on our keyboard and pour in the hours, days, and months of research so our fictional novel sings with realism. We want our imaginary characters to walk and talk with vitality, vividness, and validity. Then, like a mother caressing her newborn child, we eagerly await the debut of our new creation to the world.

A writer knows that they have achieved their ultimate goal in creating a superb novel through readers communicating their emotional experience to others. Readers can either verbally communicate this to their friends, or take time to write their review on Amazon and other search engines.

It’s like when you prepare for a Christmas pageant. You pile on the hours in rehearsals for weeks and months, and—wait for the applause. A writer’s applause comes in the way of reviews.

It is always the little things in life that inspire us to meet each day with thanksgiving. Our child’s or grandchild’s first steps, the antics of our children and grandchildren. Or, the make-believe characters and story a writer creates.

That finished product of another generation, be it our children or our literary works will someday be put to the ultimate test. We will know then how well we succeeded in our job by the heroic exploits they endure.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 NKJV

I am confident that our generation can produce an equally great and enduring generation:

GIVEAWAY: I will give away a copy of Waltz with Destiny to the winner. Please identify if you prefer a print or e-book. For those living outside the United States, an e-book version will be supplied.


About Catherine:

Catherine is the award-winning author of the inspirational historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her faith-based Destiny series includes Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny.

She has written two pictorial history books: Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, Horse of my Heart, Second-Chance Dogs, The Horse of my Dreams. CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to Me Today.

She is a longtime Michigan resident and lives with her husband of 45 years and their Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township. Catherine loves traveling the byroads across America and spoiling her two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!


Sara’s Surprise — Susan G. Mathis

Today I’m happy to welcome author Susan G. Mathis as she shares about her latest book, Sara’s Surprise.

Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic.

In Sara’s Surprise, her boss abuses her in lots of ways, as was all-too common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, under paid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.

As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly too, and I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.

Sara’s Surprise explores this problem from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries.

In researching how to make pastries that’ll delight your palate, I learned way more than I’d ever dreamed. Like how to properly break an egg and how to cream sugar and eggs the right way. And did you know that you laminate Pain au chocolat?There’s much to learn about French baking, to be sure.

Want to know more about Sara’s Surprise? Here’s the back cover copy:

Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.

Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

I hope you’ll pick up a copy and give some for Christmas gifts as it’s a lovely Christmas story as well. And if you ever get harassed, please speak up. You’ll be glad you did.


About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.comfor more.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Buying links:











On Being Hopeful — Jacquolyn McMurray


Today I’m happy to welcome author Jacquolyn McMurray as she shares some encouragement for writers.


When I first started publishing in 2014, I published with a small press and later as an indie author. I participated in collections in both of those arenas, and in my limited experience I had not waited long for any of my stories to be published. That is, until I was included in a proposal to a traditional publisher.

The process was long—sixteen months from submitting the proposal to getting the contracts—but we didn’t give up hope! And when the publisher asked us to broaden the scope of the proposal from Triangle Shirtwaist Factory seamstresses to a more general topic of seamstresses, we said yes. Then the publisher moved from a seven-author collection model to a four-author model and we were asked to split our group. Our group —Debby Lee, Darlene Panzera, and I—wanted to stay together and were fortunate to have Kimberley Woodhouse added as the fourth in our collection. Again, we didn’t give up hope.

And now, twenty-eight months later, our beautiful collection of inspirational historical romances will be released on December 1, 2019. So, don’t give up hope if you are waiting to hear from a publisher or an agent. And don’t give up on writing!

About the Book:

When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love?

HEARTS SEWN WITH LOVE by Darlene Panzera
Gold Bar, California, April 1850
During the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t.

WOVEN HEARTS by Jacquolyn McMurray
New York City, 1911
A shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help.

A  LANGUAGE OF LOVE by Kimberley Woodhouse
New York City, 1911
A milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Summer 1945
A parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours.

I’m so honored to be published with Barbour Publishing in a historical inspirational romance collection with Debby Lee, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse. Preorders available on the following sites:


Barnes & Noble:

Barbour Publishing:

About Jacquolyn:

Jacquolyn McMurray writes both contemporary and historical romance. She and her husband live on a macadamia nut farm on Hawaiʻi Island where they feed a clowder of cats and a flock of hodgepodge chickens. Jacquolyn is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Greater Seattle Romance Writers, and the American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, Jacquolyn enjoys time with her family, reading, sewing and solving crossword puzzles. In her past life, she was an elementary school teacher.

Connect with Jacquolyn at:


Why Does God Allow Christians to Fail? — Denise Weimer

Today I’m happy to welcome author Denise Weimer as she talks about failure and trusting in God’s perfect plan.

Failure. Not something any of us want to contemplate. When we put our trust in God, we want to believe our endeavors will be blessed. Nothing is more embarrassing—or more heart-breaking—than when our carefully-laid plans fall apart … be it in a career, finances, or a relationship. Doubly so if our face-plant is public!

In my newly released novel, The Witness Tree, John Kliest feels called to leave behind his prestigious position as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina, and share his faith with the Cherokees. Problem is, if he wants to travel to the Springplace mission in the Cherokee Nation, the church elders require him to take a wife!

Clarissa Vogler’s talent as a linguist and teacher might make her perfect for the job—except she’s much more interested in pursuing her art in Philadelphia with John’s younger brother, Daniel. Now, John has to not only convince Clarissa that marriage to him offers the better life, he has to keep her safe from a multitude of unexpected dangers. When one thing after another goes wrong, John begins to question whether he heard from God at all.

Disappointment and failure can hit us hardest when we’re trying to do God’s work. Some friends of mine once felt sure God called them to overseas mission work. After going through the long preparation process, they were told at the last minute that they wouldn’t be getting on the plane. The mission board members felt their stage of life—with children still at home—wasn’t ideal.

Why might God let His children experience failure? Well, apart from obvious reasons like us not putting in adequate preparation or effort, or misunderstanding God’s direction, here are a few I can think of.

• The plan was right, but the timing wasn’t.
• The plan was right, but the people weren’t.
• Someone other than God was getting the glory.
• What began as a good plan was subverted by the enemy.
• God wants to use the failure to build character, wisdom, or reliance on Him.

What else comes to mind? Share below, and find out how things turn out for John and Clarissa in The Witness Tree (

About Denise:

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She is a managing editor for Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. Her contemporary romance, Fall Flip, is also releasing this month with Candlelight Romance. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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October 2019 New Releases!

October 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical Fiction:

Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton — To keep her orphaned sisters together, Mahlah must seek what has never been granted to girls, an inheritance of God’s Promised Land. (Biblical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:

Hiding from Christmas by Alice K. Arenz — No matter how hard she tries, Maddie Kelley can’t seem to fit in at Ornamental, a company founded by her great grandfather and his best friend. Now, after yet another screw-up, she’s been sent into the “enemy’s” camp—two hours away from home for the next two months. A punishment or a blessing? Her life is turned upside down when the mundane turns unexpected, and she finally discovers where her heart truly lies. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

Practically Married by Karin Beery — Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Once Upon a Christmas by Andrea Boyd, Mikal Dawn, Toni Shiloh, Angela Ruth Strong, and Jaycee Weaver — Embrace the magic of the Christmas season with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Upon a Dream: A rare sleeping disorder keeps Talia from performing, but when Philip recognizes her gift, he’ll do whatever it takes to see her onstage. Claim My Heart: Li Na and Colin Wen face off in a Mulan-esque courtroom battle where the real win might be losing their hearts. A Snow White Christmas: Sheltered heiress Amala White flees her conniving stepmother’s plans and finds refuge with a handsome orchard owner and his seven quirky uncles. Christmas Ella: Reality TV meets Cinderella story when a location director is swept off her feet by a rising star. A Splash of Love: Las Vegas glitz meets Land of Enchantment culture in A Splash of Love, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Twin Bargain by Lisa Carter — A mutually beneficial temporary arrangement…But can they keep it strictly professional? Nursing student Amber Fleming couldn’t be more stunned when ex-marine Ethan Green makes an offer: he’ll babysit her twin girls if she cares for his injured grandmother. Amber knows it’s temporary. Ethan isn’t one for roots—or their hometown. But his steadfast caring has her wanting more than friendship. And with help from Amber’s mischievous twins, can they risk becoming a forever family? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman — With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community. So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it. If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sara’s Gift by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Christmas is the season of giving, but Sara isn’t sure she is up to the task. Playing secret angel in high school was fun, and now, years later, Sara has the opportunity to do it once more on a bigger scale. She enlists the help of Gabe, her long-time best friend, to come up with a deserving recipient. But something is off with Gabe—he’s more attentive than usual.
The Christmas season has put Gabe in a reflective mood. His evaluation of his life has left him lonely and wanting more. But can his heart have its desire? That’s up to Sara. Can these two long-time best friends navigate their changing relationship, or will the romance Grinch steal their Christmas joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Christmas Prayer by Myra Johnson — Searching for a new start, Pastor Shaun O’Grady can’t wait for his next foreign missionary assignment…until he begins working with Brooke Willoughby on the church’s Christmas outreach program. Even as they clash over program specifics, Shaun and Brooke are drawn to each other. Now Shaun’s not sure where he belongs: overseas for his ministry, or at home by Brooke’s side… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Amish Holiday Suitor by Carrie Lighte — Lucy Knepp has no time for heartbreaker Nick Burkholder…until a pretend courtship means she can finish her embroidery for a Christmas fund-raiser in peace. Nick’s arrangement with the too-reserved Lucy is the perfect cover while he repairs the cabin his brother damaged. But once Nick sees how vibrant Lucy really is, can he prove himself—and show their love is for all seasons? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Chasing Dreams by Deborah Raney — Reconsidering her dream of law school, Joanna Chandler finds promise in a possible wedding planning career—especially when she meets wedding DJ Lukas Blaine. But there’s more to Luke than meets the eye. The angry young boy he’s been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke’s ward. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams–and crush her dreams at the same time. (General/Contemporary from Kregel Publications)

Historical Romance:

Unwrapping Hope by Sandra Ardoin — When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give her daughter something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him. Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor’s financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince. Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling business plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller — Ingrid Chastain travels readily with her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. But after a tragic accident leaves her alone and injured, Ingrid finds rescue in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her wounds. Micah Bradley gave up his own medical career after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine as soon as she’s well enough, he has no choice but to accompany her through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The risk-laden journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Aiming for Love by Mary Connealy — Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world–a world she’s been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls’ secret home, her older sister especially is frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away. David’s parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. David’s father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Lessons on Love by Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, and Carrie Fancett Pagels — Step back into the classroom alongside four new teachers who face unexpected tests. In 1840 New York, Gilda’s religious beliefs are challenged. In 1870 Kansas, Mary helps ostracized immigrant children. In 1894 Michigan, Jesse discovers an unlikely friendship. And in 1904 Virginia, Margaret wants to make controversial changes. Will these tests teach the teachers about faith and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


The Silver Lode by Suzanne J Bratcher — A dying child and a seventy-year-old cold case draw historian Paul Russell and antiques expert Marty Greenlaw into a desperate search for the silver lode, a rich deposit of silver and gold one person considers worth murdering to keep. (Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Deadly Commitment by Kathy Harris — When Danielle Kemp walks out of her downtown Nashville condominium, she gets the eerie feeling that someone is watching her. She’s convinced that the homeless man outside her building is stalking her. But after learning the real identity of the intimidating stranger, she faces something even more threatening?the truth about her fiancé. (Romantic Suspense from New Hope Publishing)

Cold Pursuit by Gayla K. Hiss — A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Legacy Restored by Robin Patchen — She’s a new Christian working to take down an art thief and murderer. He’s a grieving artist who refuses to let another woman die needlessly. When their desires clash, will it lead to hostility… or fireworks? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Young Adult:

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie — Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with? (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)