Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring into Love: Linore's story


Welcome Linore Rose Burkard to the blog today! She's kicking off our "Spring into Love" series with a feature about her novel Before the Season Ends! It's a Regency Inspirational Romance. Here's the cover photo for her book:


Isn't that a lovely cover?

Read on for details! :)


~*~
Author bio: Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. 

Published with Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard.

Linore grew up in NYC and graduated magna cum laude from CUNY with a bachelor's degree in English Literature.

Married with five children, she still homeschools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and an iPad in the other. Her latest 
PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a "chilling possible future for America."

~*~
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Before the Season Ends by Linore Burkard:

Chesterton, Hertfordshire: England - 1813


Something would have to be done about Ariana. 

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

"Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!"

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family--for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot--she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of "the calling," waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do. 

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

"What shall we do about Ariana?" Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

"What do you suggest, my dear?" Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it. 

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles's sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before. 

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles's family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, "We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time," and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton. 

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.
And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, "I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education."

Ariana's father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one's surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move. 

"I think there is nothing else for it," Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. "Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!"

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers. 

"I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter's," he said finally, "and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan't hear another word about the 'wonderful rector' again."


Mrs. Forsythe's countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

"I grant that she has had strong...affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own." 

"Of its own?"

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway. 

"The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?"

~*~
Review of Linore's book on Amazon.com:

Definitely Worth Reading
By Kindle Customer

This review is from: Before the Season Ends (A Regency Inspirational Romance Book 1) (Kindle Edition)

I discovered this book because, periodically, I download most of the books on the "Top 100 Free" list and give them what I call the "20-page rule," meaning if the book doesn't catch my interest in 20 pages, I don't bother finishing it. I really enjoy (clean) historical romances and Christian/Inspirational Fiction, and this fell into both categories neatly. I was pleasantly surprised by the book and was definitely hooked before I had read 20 pages. At first I was doubtful that I would like the main character, Ariana Forsythe (is that a romance novel name or what?), and thought she might be kind of wishy-washy or prone to tears, which bores me. However, my first impression was unfounded, and she really grew on me until I was emotionally invested in her story.

I would describe this novel as what may result if Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and Janette Oke collaborated on a project, so if you like any or all of these authors, you'll really enjoy this book. I don't want to give the whole plot away, but I will say that parts of it reminded me of "Pride and Prejudice," because of the characters' making snap judgments about one another without having all the facts and Phillip's tendency to come off as rude and arrogant, among other things. I was also reminded of "The Corinthian," by Georgette Heyer (one of my favorite books ever!) because of the humor in this book and Phillip's ability to be fastidious about his dress and appearance without coming off as anything but masculine. I would even say, to a lesser degree, that I was reminded of "Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Bronte, because Phillip has some dark events in his past that the reader is largely unaware of until late in the story, which have colored his personality, and Ariana is sort of a "balm to his spirit."

I don't mean to say that this novel has been done before, though. These slight similarities are just another feature to enjoy to the reader who has also appreciated the books I've mentioned. The plot is original and surprising, in a genre where you pretty much know how everything is going to end, but read it anyway. Just when I thought there would be no more twists, there's one or two more, and I really liked that.

Last but not least, as a Christian, I truly appreciated the way in which the author handled the matters of faith. Ariana's faith is genuine, and she is quick to recognize the (vast!) difference between fashionable religious lip-service and a real relationship with God. This and the all-important matter of salvation and forgiveness are included in such a way as to never sound preachy or out of place in the story. I will definitely read the sequel!

~*~
Enter the book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring into Love: The Introduction


Dearest Blog Readers,

I'm SO happy that the spring season is here! :)

I'd like to celebrate this lovely season with a new blog series, called "Spring into Love".

Every Sunday from March 26 until the end of this Spring 2017, you will see a feature about a Christian author who wrote a romance story. There will be author interviews, character interviews, devotionals, personal essays and fun giveaway contests that you can enter to WIN a copy of the featured books! :)

I hope that you will join me by visiting my blog every Sunday this Spring 2017, leaving comments for each featured author and participating in the book giveaway contests!

Take care, God bless you and enjoy this season of love! :)

Sincerely,

Alexis A. Goring
Founder of "God is Love" blog

Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: The Wedding Shop


Book Review: The Wedding Shop
Author: Rachel Hauck
Reviewed by: Alexis A. Goring

Between my paperback copies and my Kindle, I own hundreds of books. So when Fiction Guild sent this book to me, I thought I'd simply read it first then give it away because space is limited on my bookshelves. But as I turned the pages of The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck, I grew attached to the main characters as the author drew me as a reader into the story. By the time I reached the final page, I knew that I wanted to keep this book.

The Wedding Shop is a story about love lost/regained and restoration. It is told on a dual timeline with characters from the early 1900s and the late ‘90’s. Cora is the heroine of the past. Haley is the heroine of the present.

As the reader journeys with the characters, they get to know the hopes, dreams and deepest desires of these heroines. The reader may love the way that the hero and heroine—past and present—meet and fall in love. The reader may also be surprised by the plot twists positioned perfectly throughout this story. The author writes in a way that’s solid, engaging and keeps the reader guessing and turning the page to see what happens next.

As a reader, I was surprised by the way Cora’s true love was discovered. There were moments when I was happy for Cora, sad for Cora and filled with joy for her own love story as it unfolded. I liked Haley from the start. She’s spunky, wise, sweet, loyal, and very much a person who believes in working hard for your dreams to come true. I was delighted to see how the author handled Haley’s heart when it came to finding her own happily ever after.

The heroes—past and present—were strong, reliable, romantic and hardworking not just in their career, but in their pursuit of their love interest’s heart. The author carefully thought out and described their motivation and upped the ante on the conflict throughout this story.

The Wedding Shop is a story that’s timeless because of the universal themes of faith, love, hope and disappointment that are so carefully and brilliantly woven throughout this book.

This book deserves a five-star rating and the author deserves an award! I’d recommend this book to women and men who need encouragement to follow their dreams, trust God with their heart and never give up on finding—and keeping—true love.

*Fiction Guild sent a complimentary copy of this book to Alexis A. Goring, in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Review for Litfuse Publicity Group, featuring Deborah Raney

Book: Home At Last: A Chicory Inn Novel ― Book 5
Author:
Deborah Raney
Review written by: Alexis A. Goring

The incidents of race-related drama, which are portrayed in this book, is heartbreaking. But the author, Deborah Raney, weaves a story that’s rich in beauty, strong in scenarios that are true to real life, and sweet on the romance between the hero and heroine.

Home At Last: A Chicory Inn Novel
is a book about differences. Differences in background, class status and race. It focuses on the differences between the hero (Link Whitman) and heroine (Shayla Michaels).

Link is the most eligible bachelor in town. He’s the type of guy who you never see without a date. But beneath his good looks is a good heart and his heart loves Shayla.

Shayla is a beautiful, independent woman who is raising her niece while her brother is serving his prison sentence. She helps her dad run their family-owned bakery Coffee's On which is a hotspot in town.

As the only sibling in his family who is not yet married, Link is feeling the pressure from his family to settle down and marry a wonderful woman. At first, he stays above the pressure but when Shayla enters the picture, he wants to move forward to the altar.

The scenes in this book are well described. The author paints a very vivid and beautiful picture of Coffee’s On—so much so that it makes you want to go to your nearest bakery in real-life and treat yourself to their food. Chicory Inn, Link’s family business, is a lovely place that often smells good because of the bread and sweet treats that Link’s parents order from Shayla’s bakery.

But despite the lovely settings and romantic overtures, the differences between Shayla and Link provide a strong core conflict for most of the story.

Shayla’s Mom is White and her Dad is Black. It’s a mix that’s caused her heart much pain because of the negative ways she and her brother were treated in a world that does not always accept nor is nice to mixed race families. So when Link enters the story of her life and expresses interest in pursuing her heart, Shayla’s guards go up. She builds walls so high that Link has to practically perform acrobatics just to get near her heart and win her over. Discouraged by the incidents of racism that her family has faced for most of their life and knowing what a cultural conflict being in a mixed race relationship would bring, Shayla shies away from Link and continues to fiercely guard her heart. She focuses on raising her niece Portia and bringing good business to the family bakery.

Faith in God plays a role in this story. The author uses faith elements along with interesting situations to challenge stereotypes and push the hero and heroine together. Since Shayla and Link are believers and forward-thinking people, there is hope for this couple. But their road to a happy, healthy romance is filled with roadblocks and at the core of those roadblocks are race-related attacks.

The author handles the race-related situations with tact and believability. She doesn’t allow the cruel behavior of those antagonists to go unchecked. Unlike some situations in the real world, the people who did wrong do pay for it. But she doesn’t do this with vengeance. She proves to, as the author, be a fair judge in those situations.

Aside from addressing heavy topics like racism and interracial romance, the author puts her best foot forward in telling Shayla and Link’s story. It’s a story that’s very deserving of a five-star review!


*I (Alexis A. Goring) received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book, Home At Last: A Chicory Inn Novel ― Book 5, in exchange for an honest review.

~*~
About the author: .
Deborah Raney's novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. 

She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb's novels-for life in the city of Wichita.

Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com.
~*~

About the book: Why did their differences matter so much?

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.


All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite-well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Learn more and purchase a copy. 


~*~
A Message from Litfuse Publicity Group:

Conclude Deborah Raney's Chicory Inn novels with the final book, Home at Last, a story of acceptance, trying to overcome differences, and love. Everything changes for bachelor Link Whitman one icy morning when a child runs into the street and he nearly hits her with his pickup-and then the girl's aunt Shayla enters Link's life. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Join Deborah on Thursday, March 23, for a live author chat party in her Facebook group with fun prizes to be won! Click the graphic below for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there-bring a friend or two who loves to read!

SaveSave

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Interview with Laurie Tomlinson, author of "That’s When I Knew"

Welcome my writer friend Laurie Tomlinson to the blog today! 

She's here to talk about her novella, That's When I Knew. It is part of the "Love at First Laugh" collection of novellas.


Enjoy your time with Laurie

~*~
Interview with Laurie Tomlinson, author of That’s When I Knew:

Alexis: That’s When I Knew belongs to the book collection, “Love at First Laugh: Eight Romantic Novellas Filled with Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever After.” Your story is in company with award-winning authors. Congrats! How does it feel to be part of that box set?

Laurie: It feels phenomenal! I am so honored that they invited me, the only previously unpublished author, and I have learned a tremendous amount from them.

Alexis: What is the story-behind-the-story of your novella, That's When I Knew?

Laurie: The tiniest early kernel of story idea came from two darling neighbor kids of mine who are the best of friends. Then I figured out Chelsea’s career, and the theme unfolded as I was writing the novella and had recently read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.

Alexis: Chelsea is the heroine in this story. Tell us about her personality, hopes and life goals.

Laurie: She is spunky, tomboyish, and a bit of a hot mess, but incredibly loyal. Her main goal in life is to do right by her employees because she recognizes that she and her company wouldn’t be where they are today without them.

Alexis: Nick is the hero of this story. Describe his looks, dreams and character flaw.

Laurie: Nick has dark blond hair, blue eyes, and “a solid, muscular frame that told the story of a man who’d done some hard work.”

Alexis: Chelsea and Nick are childhood sweethearts. How far back do they go? Describe the moment when they met and let us know how they knew that they would be lifelong friends.

Laurie: They met when she was eight and he was ten, spending the summers at his aunt’s house while his parents were going through a divorce. Since she was the only other kid in their baseball group whose parents were divorced, they had this special bond beyond their years, and every time he showed up for the summer, it was like they’d never been apart.

Alexis:
Describe the grown-up versions of Chelsea and Nick. What do they do for a living? What are their hopes for their careers? Do they still like each other?

Laurie: Chelsea runs an accidentally popular planner/stationary brand, torn between taking the company to the next level and staying true to herself. Nick loves working for his dad’s moving truck company but wants to bring a fresh take and help their fleet grow. When Nick and Chelsea reunite as adults, it’s…complicated.

Alexis: What kind of past mistakes is Chelsea regretting? How could those mistakes ruin her chances in career and love?

Laurie: Well, the last time they saw each other, twelve years earlier, Nick told Chelsea he loved her, and she sort of ran. She’s also made some emotional decisions that put her company in jeopardy, so she wants to make sure she’s level-headed. Nick complicates that, too.

Alexis: What was the most challenging part of writing this story?

Laurie: Oh, man. This was my first novella to ever write, and I certainly learned that it’s much different. I had to rewrite pretty much the whole thing, but it was worth it!

Alexis: What’s your favorite scene in this story? Why?

It involves breaking down on the side of the interstate and stumbling upon a homeschool Revolutionary War dance. It was so fun to write!

Laurie: How did your personal faith in God impact your telling of this story?

One of my biggest faith journeys has been overcoming the myth that I have to perform and be perfect to be worthy of God’s love, when what He really wants from me is to know Him and delight in spending time with Him. That was a major theme in this story! 


Alexis: If you could spend a day with Chelsea and Nick, what would you do? Why?

Laurie: Play a game of baseball, of course, followed by mile-high ice cream cones. That’s when they are most themselves.

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this story?

Laurie: Not to do life in fear like they have two strikes, but to swing for the fences because they’re loved whether they hit a homerun or strike out trying!

Alexis: In non-baseball lingo, that’s to not live in perpetual fear of failure, but to go for the abundant life God intends for us.

Laurie: Thanks for the interview, Laurie! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

Alexis: It was so much fun! Thanks for hosting me and the novella collection!

~*~
Blurb for Laurie’s book: On most days, Chelsea Scott feels like her rapidly growing planner and stationery business should belong to someone else. Maybe if it did, it wouldn't be hovering near the red due to one costly decision. But the collaboration that will save her company awaits her pitch at the trade show she's keynoting. When her transportation falls through at the last minute, she accepts help from Nick Pearson, who’s unexpectedly come back into her life. 


The last time Nick saw Chelsea, he told her he loved her, and she ran. Twelve years later, their lives are different, more complex than the summers they spent playing baseball and eating ice cream cones at their dock with their toes in the lake. But as they spend time together on the road, their feelings for each other become clear: all those years couldn’t take away how good they can be together.

When Chelsea's past decisions resurface at the convention, her newly rekindled relationship with Nick – and her business – are in jeopardy. Will their love be enough to keep them together or will another summer end with them apart?

The Love at First Laugh Collection is now available on Amazon – eight inspirational romantic comedies for only 99 cents! Purchase link, http://amzn.to/2l0mqka

~*~
Author bio: 

Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. 

She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 

Her debut contemporary romance novel, With No Reservations, releases in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming. 

You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung

Book: A Note Yet Unsung
Author: Tamera Alexander
Reviewed by: Alexis A. Goring for Bethany House


A Note Yet Unsung (A Belmont Mansion Novel) was a masterful storytelling adventure, filled with high and low notes to what could be a melodious song.

This is a book for music lovers and trailblazers who believe in breaking down stereotypes while challenging the status quo and allowing innovation to take place. The result is hope fulfilled and a better world.

Tamera Alexander, the author, does a delightful job of introducing the heroine of the story (Rebekah Carrington). It is obvious from the first page that Rebekah is a strong-willed, stubborn, fierce and beautiful woman who is determined to break through the glass ceiling and become a concert violinist. Her dream is to perform. She believes that if she can just play for a moment before the great Maestro of the Nashville Philharmonic, then her dreams for playing for audiences professionally in opera halls will come true. 


It’s admirable that Rebekah thinks that her talent as a violinist will make room for her. After all, the Bible says that and this is a Christian fiction novel. Speaking of faith, the author knows how to add faith elements to this masterful composition without being overbearing. Instead, it is a sweet crescendo that ebbs and flows in all the right moments.

The romance between Rebekah and the hero Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb (a “nationally acclaimed conductor”/the great Maestro) is well written and not without challenges. They conflict with each other at first but as the story progresses they fall in love and make beautiful music together (literally).

There are subplots that make this story have depth. The author dives deep into the development of her characters, not leaving the readers lacking in any sense of the word. The reader will get to meet the hero’s family and may grow to like them very much. All of the characters in this story are well imagined by the author and while likeable, they do have necessary flaws.

There is a historical political climate in this story that’s true to the real-world because it was written about a time where women did not have all of their rights in society. Eras ago, it was unheard of a professional woman playing music in concert halls. But this is an issue that the author tackles effortlessly and does it in a way that makes you want to root for the heroine and fall in love with the hero.

The only fault I could find is that it was a very thick novel and took me several days to finish reading. Nothing is wrong with that for someone who enjoys reading long stories. But for this reader, there were moments where I was tempted to skip ahead or just skim through a few chapters.

However, don’t let my personal preference for shorter stories sway you from reading A Note Yet Unsung. It is a delightful story and definitely worth reading!

*Bethany House sent a complimentary copy of A Note Yet Unsung to Alexis A Goring in exchange for an honest review.