Friday, August 31, 2012

September's Author of the Month: Jody Hedlund

Welcome to September, everyone! I was so blessed to feature Laura Frantz in August. She is a wonderful woman and it was a joy to get to know her better. Have you ordered her new book LOVE'S RECKONING? It comes out this month, don't forget!

(PS...yes, I know this post is a day early, but do to my schedule, I wouldn't be able to post it tomorrow...)

I am so happy to spotlight Jody Hedlund this month!  YAY!! I love this amazing author for so many reasons. Not only does her talent shine, her spirit does as well.

I first read THE DOCTOR'S LADY sometime last year not long after I discovered this fabulous genre. I immediately fell in love with Hedlund's style and ordered THE PREACHER'S BRIDE the very next day. Both books are truly inspiring! (Not to mention loaded with top-of-the-line romance!!)

Her next book UNENDING DEVOTION has just been released, and friends, it's AH-MAZING!! I could hardly put it down, and as I said in my review, I totally cried...and, if you didn't know, that's a good thing. *wink* The characters (and romance!) and message of the book will really affect you--at least it did me!

So, here are some questions that I asked Jody. I have loved getting to know more about her. Wow, she is an incredible woman. I don't know how she does all that she does, but somehow she does it, and she does it very well!  *giggle*  I decided that I want to be like her when I grow up!

First, tell us about yourself!  

I've been married to my college sweetheart for over twenty years, and we have five children ranging in ages from 15 down to 6. Between homeschooling and running our kids to activities, we're crazily busy! We live in central Michigan and so take our summers very seriously, considering at least 6 months of the year are cold and overcast.

I've been creating stories for as long as I can remember but began taking my writing seriously after I got married. Once I started having babies, I took a hiatus from writing. The time away from my writing really enriched me. The first book I wrote after my break was The Preacher's Bride.

When I'm not homeschooling or writing, you might find me sneaking in some pleasure reading. And you'd definitely find me eating chocolate and guzzling coffee!

What inspired you to come up with the story for UNENDING DEVOTION?

I live in central Michigan in an area that was once filled with towering white pines and that played a major role in the lumber era. In the 1870’s through the early 1880’s, lumbering employed more workers than any other industrial occupation in the United States. The white pine tree was considered “green gold” and netted greater profit than the gold rush of the West.

During my research for the book, I began reading biographies about people who lived during the lumber era. And as I did, I ran across stories of young women who didn't fit into the glamorized legends and songs.

The stories of many of these women were much darker. They're tales of women who were abused, exploited, and even enslaved.

Unending Devotion is inspired by one of those women, Jennie King. She rode a train into central Michigan in answer to  newspaper ad for a job. She expected to work in a hotel. Instead she found herself enslaved in a brothel. She fled, but was recaptured and beaten. The brave and desperate woman escaped again, wearing only a nightgown, and this time gained help from a local family. The brothel owner tried to get her back again. But the family helped smuggle Jennie out of town and to a safe place.

If you could take one historical Christian romance with you on a deserted island, which one would it be and why?  (It could be one of your books or someone else's!)

Oh, that would be SO hard! There are too many awesome books to choose from! But if I had to choose, I'd probably go with Deeanne Gist's A Bride Most Begrudging. It was one of the books I read when I was coming out of my writing hiatus, and it inspired me to work harder at writing historical romances (before that I'd been writing contemporary Christian romances).

What is your favorite bible verse?

One of the many verses I treasure is "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13 That verse has held me in good stead through many trials.

Here are a few more fun facts about Jody:

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Publishers Weekly called her newest book Unending Devotion, " a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website:

Book Giveaway!!!!

Ladies, Jody has kindly offered to do a giveaway for her new book UNENDING DEVOTION! (I can hear you squealing with pleasure.)  *big grin* If you want to be entered to WIN the book, please comment on this post and include your EMAIL. And, if you're feeling chatty, please tell me what  historical Christian romance you would take with you on a deserted island!!

Three cheers for Jody Hedlund!!

Thank you SO much, Jody! I am thrilled about your new book, and I can't wait for other people to read it and feel uplifted just like I did. You are a blessing in so many people's lives and I am very grateful that you are sharing the magnificent gift God gave you.

God bless you and your family!

Happy Reading!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Unending Devotion

“Awwwwwwwww…” That is the sound of an angel chorus. And those lovely angelic voices will accompany you as you read this A-mazing book. Yes, my friends. UNENDING DEVOTION is pure heaven.

Book Rating: Best of the Best

Well, Jody’s next book got my highest rating…no surprise there! (I haven't given that rating to any book in quite some time...) All her books have received top honors, and for good reason. Not only can Jody weave a delicious romance, but she sprinkles in the most wonderful Christian message through the story—she is an amazingly talented writer. God has truly given her a gift.

I shed many a tear when I read this. It’s been a long time since I have been so moved by a story and it’s message that I was sniffling my way through the end.

Lily Young is desperately searching for her run-away sister. She knows Daisy is somewhere nearby and will stop at nothing to take her away from a life of unspeakable horrors. (Let me say real quick...Lily has brown eyes! I was bound to like her from the beginning. *teehee* Also, the "Lily" on the cover is freaking gorgeous, and it's one of the very few times I've been satisfied with a "face" of a character on the cover of a book.)

Connell McCormick works for his father’s lumber company. (He’s 100% dreamy…and I like to think he looks like Chris Hemsworth…only with green eyes. I’m hearing that angel chorus again… *wink *)  Connell is fascinated with this spunky, beautiful and fearless woman and her quest to find her sister. She makes him do and think things he’s never done or thought. Connell is a wonderful leading man by the way--he's strong, courageous, and he sticks to his morals--what's not to like about that?!

Their romance is so passionate and at the same time so pure, you will LOVE it.

I took away many different spiritual messages from this book, I can’t begin to name them all. I just know that my testimony of God’s unending devotion to His children was truly strengthened through this magnificent story.

This book reminded me (a little bit) of THE MEASURE OF A LADY—and I lo-HOVE that story as well!

I can't remember the last time I read a book and loved it this much. I can't wait to hear what you think about it!

One word: PRE-ORDER!! This book will be available Sep 1!!!!

Congratulations, Jody on another magnificent and inspiring novel. God Bless!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

*Thank you to Bethany House for the free review copy of this book*

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Love Forbidden

This lovely historical romance features a devoted leading lady and a leading man who doesn’t know where he belongs in the world. It works, despite the minor set-backs.

Book Rating: Up All Night’er

I love series stories! I easily get attached to characters and I always like reading more about then in subsequent books. The leading lady in this book is introduced briefly in the previous story A HEART DIVIDED.

Shiloh is a sweet, devoted girl who fell in love a boy who worked at her father’s ranch many years ago. He made such an impression on her that she never forgot him. Many years later when their paths cross again she is thrilled at the chance to have a friendship with him. He however, is not.

Jesse doesn’t like the memories of his life with the white people, and is afraid of all the buried emotions that Shiloh will likely surface in him. But he can't deny he's attracted to her.

I struggled with liking Jesse. He was only partly nice to Shiloh I thought—so bogged down with his past that he couldn’t even really let himself acknowledge that he loved her. He would say and do things that were meant to push her away, and sometimes I kept thinking, “Girl, get over him! He is SO not worth it!”

In the end, I tolerated him well enough. But I thought he could have been made into a much more likable leading man.

There were a few good rescue scenes that I enjoyed, but honestly the romance didn’t do much for me in this one.

Like in the book before, this one had a great Christian element.

I do recommend this, even thought it wasn’t one of my fav's.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

A Heart Divided

This is my first Kathleen Morgan book…I’ll be comin’ back for more!

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

A feuding family story—gotta love those!  Two young lovers get caught in the crossfire of their families anger and have to overcome their differences in order to prove to one another that their love is more important than anything between their families. (Wow, that was a mouthful…)

Awww! So romantic!

Sarah Caldwell is being forced by her father to take part in a robbery! And even though she wants nothing to do with it, she goes along for the sake of her ailing brother.

Cord Wainwright can’t believe that the Caldwell’s have robbed them again! And when he realizes that the little blonde beauty had a hand in things he is even more surprised.

However, both of them are even more shocked when their feelings for each other begin to bloom into a strong love. But can they overcome it all and help heal their broken families?

This leading lady is very likable, I thought.  She is fairly young and naive at times, but it didn't bother me too much. Cord is a great leading man--strong, wise and perfectly flawed. *wink*

This is a fabulous evening or weekend read. Some novels are like a yummy, heavy meal—they stay with you for a long time. Others novels…are more like orange juice. This one is somewhere in the middle—delicious romance and fun characters, but maybe nothing you will come back to and read over and over.

I have a good feeling you will like this one.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Be Still My Soul

If you love elegant prose and vivid pictures, this novel will satisfy your every craving!

Book Rating: Up All Night’er

I’ve been very excited to read this lovely novel by author, Joanne Bischof.  (How can you not like the amazing cover on this novel, right?!)

BE STILL MY SOUL is the first book I’ve read in a long time that takes place in this particular place and time—early 1900’s Appalachia. (I’m a big fan of CHRISTY…any other enthusiasts out there?) Bischof’s writing style will captivate you and make you feel like you are there!

Lonnie, a sweet young girl is taken by surprise when a popular and handsome young man named Gideon O’Riley offers to walk her home.  When he steals a kiss, Lonnie ends up with a lot more than she bargained for—I mean, a lot more! You’re curious. I know you are! (This is when you go pre-order it…)

Their relationship gets off to a rocky start, but through faith in God and a belief in one another they come together. I struggled a bit with Gideon’s aggressive behavior at the beginning of the book, but not to worry—he comes around!

The faith element in the story was incredibly heartwarming and I’ve been thinking about it ever since—His (God’s) eye is on the sparrow.  I loved that!

Joanne, congratulations! I’ve very excited for you. BE STILL MY SOUL will bless many people.

PS...I will also be featuring Joanne in October as one of the Author's of the Month!  Yay!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

When Love Blooms

Every book has a twin, right?

Book Rating: Here a little, there a little

WHEN LOVE BLOOMS is strikingly similar to HEART OF GOLD. I mean, so incredibly striking they could almost be twins…that is, with a few minor discrepancies.

This tender love story about Gavin Blake and Emily Harris is so sweet and…

Irrrrrrrrrk (tires screeching…)  wait, what?

"Did you say Gavin is MARRIED for HALF of the book?!"  Yes, you heard me right. The leading man is married to someone else for a major portion of the book.

Take a moment to digest that.

It took me by serious surprise as well, and made liking the book somewhat difficult. Of course, being that it’s a Christian story, one need never worry about anything untoward happening, but still. Having the leading man and leading lady begin a relationship when one of them was married did not sit well with me. Again, nothing bad happens. Keep in mind, Gavin's wife actually wanted them to eventually have a relationship, seeing as she was close to dying and wanted her children to be raised in a happy home. Gavin and Dru were not really in love...never had been. So, if you are'll want to read it.

When Dru died, the romantic tension between Gavin and Emily got pretty good and stayed very strong until the end. But, I just couldn’t get over that whole married thing. It was too weird for me.

There’s a great faith thread throughout the story, as with all of Hatcher’s novels, so you will be uplifted by that, for sure.

If you read it, please let me know what you think. I always love to hear what other readers have to say!

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August Book Giveaway Winner!

Hello, one and all!!

I was THRILLED to see all the wonderful comments we got from you super-awesome ladies!!  Thank you ever so much for stopping by, commenting and entering to WIN!

Now, the news you have all been waiting for...the winner of the giveaway for LOVE'S RECKONING is:


Congratulations, Carla!!!  (Email me your address, or you can also email it directly to Laura--whichever you choose.  :)

Look for another book giveaway at the beginning of next month, everyone!

I hope you have a very blessed day!!

Happy Reading!!


The additional WINNER IS: Em, from

Congratulations to you too, Em!  Yay!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rugged and Relentless

It’s hard for me to write reviews about books I don’t care for.  I want to be honest and give my true opinion, but I fear appearing harsh or unkind.  That being said, this latest book was really tough for me to get through.  So, here’s my honest review…*long sigh*

Book Rating: Meh…

I reserve my lowest rating for books that I will never read again.  DISCLAIMER:  There is nothing morally wrong in this book—in fact it has a great Christian element to it.  It was simply the story and writing style that was so unappealing to me.

This was my first book by Kelly Eileen Hake, and I’m not sure I will be able to read any more of hers if they are all like this.  There was something about her style that I simply could not get used to!  First off, there were gobs of characters, which made it difficult for me to follow—and also made it difficult for me to get attached to the hero and heroine who were supposed to be the “main” characters!  I felt like I had to spend too much time reading about other people.  Now, keep in mind this is the first book in a series, so I can understand that the author wanted you to become familiar with the other characters of the other books, but still—it was too much for me.

My next little-bitty beef was, the fact that I felt that there was so little romance.  Romance!!  Where was it?!  It was sprinkled in here and there, and then it picked up a bit at the end, but I still felt like, “That was it?!”

A story should grab you in at least the first few pages.  The characters should be so real you feel like you know them through and through.  I got none of that with RUGGED AND RELENTLESS.

Again, this is just my take on things…I always suggest you read it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.  But as for me, I won’t be reading this again.

Also, sorry, I won’t be giving a synopsis of the book here.  But I will give you what's on the back of the book:  “WANTED: 3 God-fearing men…object: marriage and joint ownership of sawmill.”  Sounds interesting doesn't it?  I know!  That's why I read it!

If you read it, please let me know what you think and tell me if I’m just way off-base here.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Wagered Heart

Wow.  This book was a breath of fresh air.

Book Rating:  Best of the Best

You can call me simple-minded all you want.  I’m totally OK with it.  I love books that are fun, chock-full of romantic tension and easy to get through in a few days.  That’s what I call a perfect recipe for an Amber-friendly HCR.  This book fit the bill!

I was hooked from the get-go and had a hard time putting it down.  Hatcher’s characters really come to life to me—and they come to life very fast, so I enjoy them all the way through the book.  That’s one of the main reasons I enjoy her stories so much.

WAGERED HEART was so dang cute.  So dang cute!!

Bethany Silverton makes a wager with her friend Ingrid—betting she can get a certain handsome cowboy to come to church.  But Bethany never expected to fall head-over-heals in love with him.

Hawk Chandler knows women are just trouble and will judge him about his heritage.  He tries to stay away from them as much as possible, but Bethany is making that impossible.    Try as he might, he can’t control his run-away feelings for her.

As much as I loved it, I must admit, this is one of those stories where I found myself shaking my book and yelling at the characters, “Communicate, you fools!  Communicate!”  All of their problems could have been easily resolved by simply telling one another how they felt.  But no.  They kept it all inside and made themselves completely miserable for almost the entire book.  *teehee *  But, that’s what makes it so stinkin’good!

Again, you could most likely finish this book in a day or two—even with several children and a husband vying for your attention at every spare moment.  I’m talking from experience, here.  *wink *

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Lady Outlaw

I’m a big-time Love Inspired Historical fan.  Any other LIH’ers out there?  Yay!!

Say it with me, “L-I-H!  L-I-H!  L-I-H!”  *teehee *

I’m going to start writing more reviews on these books and will have an entire link set aside for them, because let me tell you, there are TONS of them!  And that’s wonderful news for HCR people like us because we will never run out of super-duper awesome books to read.

My latest LIH “read” comes from a new author--and friend of mine, I might add!--Stacy Henrie, entitled: LADY OUTLAW.  Catchy, right?  You know you want to read it already! 

Side note here…I will be featuring Stacy and another awesome new author (who I will name later!) in October!!

Book Rating:  Best of the Best

I want to say something really quickly about LIH books in general.  All the ones I have read were thoroughly enjoyable.  But, you might find, like I did, that some of them can be a teensy-weensy bit cheesy at times, with a helping of melodrama on the side.  *teehee *  Not every single LIH is like that, but I have read a few…just FYI.  So if you want to avoid that kind of thing, you will want to make sure and read my reviews--I’ll let you know if there’s any of that in there.  I'm not usually bothered by it, but I have been known to roll my eyes a time or two.

LADY OUTLAW however, was not cheesy in the least.  I had a great time with this story.  And, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, it’s my favorite LIH to date. 

Jennie Jones will do anything to save her ranch—even if she has to *gulp * rob stage bandits!  She’s beautiful, kind and determined not to let anything stand in her way.  But her dashing new ranch hand Caleb Johnson is making her question her plans for the future.

Both main characters are very real and very lovable.  They are together a lot throughout the book too, which is a bonus.  That just equals more romance of course!!  (That’s typical of all LIH’s which is one of the reasons I like them so much.)  Their growth and development through the story was wonderful.  Also, I was kind of surprised by a few things in the end.  Fun!

The Christian element of the story was excellent.  I thought Stacy touched on issues that you don't see all too often in these stories, and I really appreciated that.  It's sweet and inspiring.

You will want to pre-order this’n!  Congratulations, Stacy on a wonderful story!

Happy Reading!