Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

Heidi Reads... Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady yet unexciting role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would provide her a steady environment to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a striking stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with mysterious rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. And perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde, Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

My Review

Oh how I loved reading this book! It fully transported me to the English countryside setting and was paced in a way to allow me to relax into the story while keeping me immersed with the search for further information about the plot and characters. I appreciate that the author didn't tell all the details about each character's lives in the beginning, but allowed me to discover them bit by bit through the narrative. Isabel is my favorite kind of heroine- strong in her convictions and loyal to those she loves. The sudden transition in her life is difficult to adjust to, but her role as guardian to Lizzie leads her to be an example of making the best of things instead of dwelling on the negative. I loved the words of advice from her Fellsworth friend Mary that she takes to heart, "Remember, with each dawn seek guidance, and with each night give gratitude. For there is a divine plan for each of our lives, and a journey, and you have started yours." Although Isabel tries her best, the anxiety of living in a world where things are not always what they seem brings emotions to the surface, and her reactions and struggles are realistically portrayed.

Colin is another favorite type of hero- quiet and steady with gentleness and intelligence. Those qualities comforted and appealed to Isabel and endeared him to her as he proved trustworthy with each encounter. The efforts of Isabel's aunt to match her with another were frustrating and Colin's former flame trying to ingratiate herself back into his affections made me nervous and brought tension to the various romantic angles. Colin's work to solve the case of smuggling in the woods of Emberwilde adds another level of intrigue throughout the story. With everything that is going on, it never felt overwhelming, instead the various aspects wove together and balanced out the pacing. This was a perfect Regency reading experience and I highly recommend Dawn at Emberwilde, especially to fans of Julie Klassen and Sarah M. Eden.

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

About the Author

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!

Happy summer! Enter to win a copy of Shenandoah Nights by Lisa Belcastro!



The last thing sixth-grade teacher Rebecca O'Neill wants to do during the final week of her summer vacation is chaperone twenty-five students on a six-night, seven-day trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah. But after a desperate phone call from her school principal, she doesn't have a choice. Worse, the ship is rumoured to be "haunted." Five years ago, during the Holmes Hole student cruise, teacher Melissa Smith complained about hearing voices and seeing visions, then disappeared without a trace--from the very same cabin where Rebecca will be staying.

Everything seems normal on Sunday afternoon as Rebecca boards the impressive Shenandoah. But as she sits in Cabin 8, she hears hushed voices whispering about a cannon. Mike, a crewmember, insists he believes the crazy Island story that Melissa time-traveled to Colonial Boston. His eerie interest and constant tracking Rebecca's whereabouts rattles her nerves.

Her first night onboard, Rebecca drifts off to sleep...and wakes the following morning with memories of a dream about secretive conversation concerning a battle with Britain. Monday night Rebecca crawls into her bunk after an adventurous day of sailing, swimming, and overseeing students. She's startled awake when a man grabs her and yells, "Stowaway!" Dragged in front of Captain Benjamin Reed, she looks up into the most gorgeous brown eyes she's ever seen....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

E-book sale: Free - $1.99 for titles by Carla Laureano, Miralee Ferrell


Book Excerpt & Giveaway: Hope in my Heart Collection by Alexis A. Goring

Hope in my Heart Collection by Alexis A. Goring



Hope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.

In Love Unexpected,a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

​Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, The Best Gift. Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister's wedding. Jordan
wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In Peace and Love, three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents' divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love. 
About the Author

Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling! She was delighted when her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, released in Sept. 2013. When Alexis is not working on her next book or chasing down the next big story for the newspaper where she works as a freelance reporter, she can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, enjoying the food in cafes/restaurants, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with loved ones (family and friends). 

Tour Schedule

Chandra was driving down the highway with a heavy foot on the accelerator. The music in her Mazda Miata coupe was blaring and she was happy. She planned to return to work before lunch break was over, and it looked like she was going to meet her goal in exactly ten minutes. As Chandra prepared to change lanes for her exit, a car slammed into the passenger’s side of her vehicle.

Chandra screamed but managed to maintain enough control to steer the car to the side of the road. The car that hit Chandra spun around and ended on the side of the road, not too far from her car. A panicked Chandra immediately hopped out of her car and inspected it for damages. The entire passenger side of her car was dented.

“Oh no!” Chandra crumpled to the bare cement beside her car and buried her head in her hands.

Meanwhile, the driver who had caused the accident emerged from his Jeep and checked the damages. The entire driver’s side of his car was scratched and mildly dented. He was inspecting the damage when he heard crying. He turned around and went to see the lady he had run into. He should have known not to text while driving.

“Hey, lady, I’m so sorry!” he apologized. “Are you okay?”

“No!” Chandra screamed as she struggled to rise to her feet. “Why weren’t you looking where you were going?”

“Listen, lady,” the man replied as he retrieved his phone from his jean pocket. “Let’s not get upset. I’m going to call the cops, and we’ll be out of here in an hour.”

“An hour?” Chandra cried. “I’ve got be at work in ten minutes!”

The man looked at her. “Well, what do you propose we do?”

Chandra scrambled, pulling out her purse out of her car then running back to the man who had caused the accident. “Give me your name and number and we’ll settle this later.”

“Fine.” The man embodied tall, dark, and handsome. “But I’m going to take your license plate number in case you forget.”

“Fine,” Chandra replied before pulling out a notepad from her purse and looking over at the man’s license plate. She quickly penned his tag numbers and then looked up at his broad six foot frame. “Here.” She scribbled her name, tag number, insurance information, and cell number on a separate piece of paper and handed it to him. “That’s all the information you’ll need for your insurance agent.”

“And you’re sure that you don’t want to call the cops?” the man asked.
“Yes!” a somewhat annoyed Chandra answered. “Now write your contact information on this paper so I can call my insurance company from work.”

Wow, this woman was bossy—just like his sister. But he obeyed her order.

After exchanging information, Chandra read the stranger’s name out loud. “Sebastian Carter. Why does that sound familiar?”

“I’m a personal trainer for some celebrities,” he replied.

“Like who?” Chandra asked before remembering that she had limited time to return to the office. “Oh, never mind! I have to go.” She hurried to her car.

“Drive safely, lady!” Sebastian called. He glanced at the paper she gave him. “I mean drive safely, Chandra!”

“I was driving safely,” Chandra called back. “You need to look where you’re going!”   

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

For bloggers! Sign-ups for Kindle Paperwhite giveaway with free options!

Hey bloggers! Here is a great new blogger opportunity (Hosted by Lil' Blog and More)
 This will be a fun event, that will gain a big turn out, so be sure to join in (There are lots of options available!)
Prize for the event: Kindle Paperwhite

Actual Giveaway Dates: 6/10 - 7/2
This is a great way to gain a lot more followers on your social media channels! There are completely FREE options, sharing options (for additional entries on the form.) and paid options, available! 
Last day to sign up for this event: 6/6 
You can sign up HERE

E-book sales from popular authors!

(I got Halos by Kristen Heitzmann for 99 cents- click and double check price at Amazon if it's showing a different price in the widget below)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Life's a Beach Giveaway Hop! #Memorialday #lifesabeach

Summer is right around the corner and I can't wait for some beach days! I'm blessed to live in San Diego, California, so we are able to visit the beach throughout the summer. I used to love to read at the beach, but now that I have kids I spend my time keeping an eye on them :) Whether or not you'll be visiting the ocean, I have a great beach read to give away! Enter in the Giveaway Tools widget below for a chance to win Current of Love by Sandra Leesmith!



Janelle Edwards is a sultry singer who's nursing a perpetually broken heart. Everett Jamison, III is a handsome workaholic with no time for love on his busy agenda. Both have sworn off relationships and marriage, but on a cozy steamboat cruise up the Mississippi River, the two keep crossing paths. They try hard to ignore the growing attraction, even as family and friends urge them on. But when danger threatens the ship, Janelle and Rett must make a decision: continue running from their emotions or let the tides of passion sweep them away. A light Southern romance sweetened with a splash of humor, Current of Love blends brilliant storytelling with endearing characters to make even the biggest skeptics believe in love again.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review & Giveaway: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

Heidi Reads... The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

My Review

I enjoyed being immersed in medieval Germany with political intrigue and hidden identities. As a young adult novel this is written with a lighter tone, and I smiled at the nods to Beauty and the Beast that popped up throughout the story. Avelina's strength of character and compassionate personality shine as she stands out from the crowd of pampered ladies. I was glad that her isolation was offset by a friendship with one of the young women, which proved to help her cause later on. The beginnings of their attraction for each other is awkward, but then develops into a more natural rapport. There is plenty of action during the climax as they defend Thornbeck against those plotting against him. A great addition to the author's Medieval Fairy Tale Romance series!

(Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Inheriting the new title of margrave means Reinhart has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? Find out in the new medieval fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender, by Melanie Dickerson. Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

beautiful pretender - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
  • A Kindle Fire tablet
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll
beautiful pretender - prize collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

beautiful pretender - enter banner

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review: An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

Heidi Reads... An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?

After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler. Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt.

Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father. If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?

My Review

I enjoyed the continuing story of the Schrock family and the Birch Creek community. This book is written so it can be a stand alone, but the first book, A Reluctant Bride, is also excellent so I highly recommend reading it as well. An Unbroken Heart focuses on the aftermath of Joanna's accident- her physical rehabilitation and the emotional struggles she faces. Much of Andrew and Joanna's relationship is internal dialogue since they have a hard time opening up to each other. I didn't find much pleasure in their interactions for much of the book since Joanna is drawing away from him and he doesn't communicate well. I loved the support Joanna's sisters show her during her difficult trials. I felt like the family bond is one of the highlights of the novel. I could relate well to Joanna's coping method of repressing feelings, but the problem with that is all those emotions under pressure eventually release in an explosion. The author did a wonderful job building toward the climax and then showing Joanna turn to God's guidance in restoring peace in her life and her relationship with Andrew. The secondary plot of Andrew's absent father wasn't as intense or involved as the first book in the series, but I still had a great reading experience. I'm looking forward to Abigail's story in A Love Made New, releasing this September.

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Check out the other books in the Amish of Birch Creek series...

Book One: A Reluctant Bride
My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Read my review here

Book Three: A Love Made New

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

Heidi Reads... A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry. All of her other Amish friends could court and marry she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire. But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister. With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice: she must marry. And not just any man the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away.

Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable. And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner. When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can t let her down even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life.

Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn't the same boy who once betrayed her. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family and herself.

My Review

This is an excellent marriage of convenience story! The circumstances leading to Sadie and Aden's union are tragic, and the author did a wonderful job endearing the characters to us in the beginning so that when the shift occurred, I was completely immersed and connected to the high emotion. The complexities of Sadie and Aden's personalities are understandable after what they have gone through in the past and present, and the way Aden dedicates himself to Sadie's happiness is healing for both of them. I loved the slow progression of their relationship with all its nuances. There is some suspense with the pressure the bishop is putting on Aden and his brother, and the resolution was one I didn't see coming but brought a satisfying conclusion. I'm so glad there are two more books in the series from Sadie's sisters' points of view, and can't wait to read them!

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)