Friday, August 14, 2015

Free e-books: The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell and Bandit Bride by Helen Gray

Two e-book freebies! 
(Be sure to check the price before downloading since e-book sales are for a limited time)


Julia Hollis' opulent life in Victorian London crashes to pieces when her husband passes away. Worse, she is told by his bankers that he gambled away their fortune. Now, the family's hope rests on The Larkspur, an old abandoned coaching inn in the quaint village of Gresham.

Driven by dread and her desire to provide for her children, Julia decides to turn the dilapidated inn into a lodging house. But can she--who was accustomed to servants attending to every need--do what needs to be done and cope when boarders begin arriving? And then an eligible new vicar moves into town...


She's Robin Hood of the Prairie. He's a Texas Ranger. Is this duo too much for Dodge City?
Having lost her parents, and in danger of losing her ranch to an unscrupulous opportunist, Jackie (Jacinda) Laughton is surviving in Dodge City's heyday, but not without a load of guilt and estrangement from God and the church. In desperation she and her best friend have resorted to banditry. Donning disguises, they are the popular "Whip and Blade" who hold up the lender's stagecoach runs, keeping the money they need and distributing the rest to more of the man's victims. No one suspects they are young women.

When Hoyt Travers, a Texas Ranger, arrives in Dodge and shows an interest in her, Jackie finds herself drawn to him, but wary of the danger he represents. He learns the truth and offers to marry her to protect her, but can she accept such a sacrifice and hide her love that might never be returned? She must learn to accept God's forgiveness and trust God for her needs.

Guest post: Author Pam Hillman!

Welcome to author Pam Hillman! She has some great history and pictures to share with us. Be sure to check out her books- I've thoroughly enjoyed each one I've read and can't wait to read more!

Sometimes you live within a few miles of something that impacted your community—or the world—and don't even know the significance of it. You might not even know it exists. This happened to me this last year. I was introduced to the Soulé Steam Feed Works, which is about fifty miles from me in Meridian, MS.

There are thousands of handcrafted mahogany patterns for large and small gears, balcony railings, andirons, etc. on display throughout the museum. This one was a manhole cover for the city of Meridian, MS.

A nameplate for the lumber stacker manufactured in 1897. Samuel Frazier in The Evergreen Bride would have given his eye teeth for one of these.

Soulé focused on servicing the lumber industry from 1892 until the mid-1950s. And since I was writing two novellas set in Mississippi in the 1890s focused on the steam-powered logging industry, I found the entire place fascinating. The founder of Soulé Steam Feed Works, George W. Soulé, patented more than 20 items during his lifetime. Some of Soulé's most notable products were rotary steam engines, lumber stackers, mechanical log turners, and a cotton seed huller. Soulé's steam engines are still in operation today, deep in the forests of India and Australia.

Technology students from MCC demonstrate the antique equipment in the machine shop. The Soulé Steam Works Machine shop contains an operating 120' (that's FOOT) line shaft with original belt-driven equipment that dates from the turn of the 20th century.

I signed books at the Soulé Live Steam Festival on October 31-November 1, 2014 and enjoyed the experience tremendously. Approximately 2000 people tour the restored buildings and watch the steam engines belch out steam, while reminiscing about the industrial revolution each year at the festival.

Several steam engines doing their "stuff" at the entrance of the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum where the festival was held. The lattice truss frame sign was completed in 2013.

Given the nature of this event, many of the attendees were male. Late on the first day, one of the museum volunteers and a steam engine enthusiast who'd just arrived hurried into the area where I’d set up my table next to the welcome desk. Both men looked like two kids on Christmas morning. The enthusiast had brought a steam whistle that was so large he hadn't been able to build up enough steam to blow it. They made plans to connect it to a bigger steam engine so they could try it out.

Manual Underwood typewriter. One of the curators at the museum gave me a private tour a couple of months ago, and she said that Mr. Soulé kept everything, so a lot of the antiques are literally pieces that were used in the daily operations of the business. The vault even has copies of receipts and payroll records from the 1890s and early 1900s.

Periodically, a loud blast could be heard throughout the whole facility. I later found out that it was a steam whistle (equipped with a safety valve, of course) with a rope pull that kids could pull to make the blast. No wonder we were treated to the whistle multiple times throughout the two-day event!

I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked since I was signing books, but I hope to be back in November 2015. There were so many people I would have loved to interview for future blog posts.
This is the brick-paved alley between two of the buildings that are part of the museum complex. The ambiance between the buildings with the steam billowing out of the pipes was an interesting experience. The museum staff and volunteers have done an amazing job restoring the buildings and the steam engines.
Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I’d love for you to check out my stories set in this era.
Annabelle's plans for a white Christmas in The Evergreen Bride (12 Brides of Christmas) involve a trip to Illinois to visit her relatives, in particular her cousin Lucy Denson, a dainty petite city gal.

The Lumberjack's Bride (12 Brides of Summer) returns to the same heart of the Mississippi pine belt 18 months later. Many of the characters return in the sequel when the family sawmill and logging operation has expanded. They need additional help and ask for business assistance from Lucy’s father, and he moves the family to Mississippi. The pretty young woman soon catches the eye of Eli, a rough-and-tumble Mississippi lumberjack in an earth-shattering meeting deep in the forest.
Pam is also excited to share news of her latest full-length novel, STEALING JAKE. When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-Fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy―literally while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town―as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off―Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can’t seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Tour: Portrait of Lies by Clair M. Poulson

 Portrait of Lies by Clair M. Poulson


It was a robbery gone bad, or so they said. For Detective Trey Shotwell, the murder of his mother, a prominent artist, was the catalyst for setting aside his own artistic aspirations to pursue a career in law enforcement—despite the opposition of his father, also a famous painter. When he agrees to attend an art auction featuring his father's work, the cruise ship locale provides the relaxation that Trey needs—and when he meets stunning fellow passenger Ariah Stanton, the undeniable chemistry they share is an unexpected bonus.

But the tranquil voyage quickly turns into a nightmare at sea. The Shotwell paintings have disappeared, and amidst the chaotic hunt for the thief, a murderer is free to roam the halls of the ship. Ariah finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and miraculously escapes the murderer—for now. But another victim is not so lucky...

The crime is eerily reminiscent of the death of Trey's mother so many years before. But this time, the young detective has the resources he needs to track the killer. As the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, they paint the chilling picture of a sinister plot years in the making. In a manhunt that takes him from the high seas of the Pacific to the wilderness of Australia, Trey will stop at nothing to solve the crime and protect the woman he loves.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

E-book sale: $1.99 for Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

TODAY ONLY download the e-book of Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer for only $1.99! I loved this book and rated it 5 stars, you can read my review here.
(Be sure to check the price before ordering since e-book sales are for a limited time)


Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Cowgirl Trail by Susan Page Davis

Heidi Reads... Cowgirl Trail by Susan Page Davis

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


In 1884 Maggie Porter returns to the Rocking P Ranch. The sanatorium was not able to save her mother and now her father's health is failing. When the cowboys walk off the job leaving no one to drive the cattle to market, head ranch hand, Alex Bright, cannot convince the men to stay. How could Alex let this happen?
Maggie is desperate to save the ranch and she turns to the town's women for help. The new cowgirls must herd, rope, and drive the cattle to market. With only two days left, outlaws charge the small band of cowgirls in an effort to start a stampede. The cattle begin to scatter. Will they lose everything? Where will their help come from?

My Review

Talk about female empowerment! Maggie is a strong daughter raised on a cattle ranch stuck between a rock and a hard place. She wants her father to appease the cowhands to prevent a strike, but his pride and hidden financial troubles won't allow him to give in. Alex is also caught in the middle as the ranch foreman, but while Maggie's family loyalty places her on her father's side, Alex strikes with the men and loses not only his job but a chance to win Maggie's heart. Since the cowhands from the surrounding ranches have already left on cattle drives, the only people Maggie can turn to are the women of the community, her friends who are also tough western gals :) Alex and Maggie's friendship suffers from the rivalry of the strike, but I loved that he ultimately places her safety and well-being over any bitter feelings. He completely redeems himself in my opinion. Maggie is completely humbled by her experiences and with some sage advice from her right-hand cowgirl Carlotta, softens her heart and allows forgiveness to bring peace during troubled times. Recommended for fans of Mary Connealy's The Husband Tree.

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

Review: I Hope You Dance by Robin Lee Hatcher

Heidi Reads... I Hope You Dance by Robin Lee Hatcher

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Grant Nichols is a genius in the kitchen and a klutz on the dance floor. But his friend’s wedding is shaping up to be a shindig the likes of which Kings Meadow has never seen—including dancing. Lots of dancing. Then he learns that a local dance teacher, Skye Foster, is offering dance lessons for the wedding party. The first lesson is free, so what does he have to lose?

A former rodeo queen, Skye Foster teaches children ballet and tap during the day, but with the popularity of ballroom dancing and her own love of Country Swing, she’s been teaching adults in the evenings.

Grant comes from a family of ten siblings. He was the second oldest and believes he's had his fill of little rug rats. He’s happy with his bachelor state, despite the fact that he’s given up his ladies’ man lifestyle. Even he admits to his wilder nature and has been trying to clean up his act, with God's help.

Skye, on the other hand, loves being around kids. She would love to find the right guy and settle down to have half a dozen children of her own.

Grant and Skye are no match on paper. But when they step onto the dance floor, they create a melody all their own.

My Review

This is a sweet, pleasant story where the characters are nice and fall in love quickly. It's cute how they get along so well, but I missed the sparks that some romantic tension can bring. The plot climaxes when they finally realize they have different plans for children in their future family and it puts their relationship at risk. I liked how Grant turned to men he respected to get their advice and perspective. An easy, light read.

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Review: I Can Pray Every Day by Catherine Christensen, Illustrated by Corey Egbert

 Heidi Reads... I Can Pray Every Day by Catherine Christensen, Illustrated by Corey Egbert

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


“Heavenly Father hears my prayers. I know He listens and He cares.” This adorable picture book is the perfect way to teach your little ones when, where, and how to pray. With colorful illustrations, rhyming text, and simple reminders of eternal truths, it’s bound to become a family favorite in your home.

My Review

This is a sweet, simple book about how prayer can be meaningful and personal. It emphasizes that children can pray anytime, anywhere, about anything. I love the illustrations which have a retro-vintage vibe and a cohesive color theme. Both my 8 and 2 year old daughters love reading it, so it's great for a wide variety of ages. This book would make a great gift!

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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review: Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman

Heidi Reads... Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff’s deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy—literally—while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town—as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off—Jake doesn’t have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn’t willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

My Review

There are so many things I like about this novel- the western setting, the steadily building friendship and romance between Livy and Jake, but what really touched my heart was the abuse of child labor and street orphans. Livy's compassion for the orphans and Jake's duty as sheriff's deputy to investigate them as robbery suspects have them crossing paths and butting heads over how the situation should be handled. A few parts are told from the perspective of Luke, one of the boys living on the street, as he seeks to rescue his brother from captivity in a hidden sweatshop. It is astounding how little the lives of the orphans are valued not only by their abusers but defensive members of the growing town. With part of the mystery known to the reader and part of it revealed towards the end, there is an element of tension and suspense. The story includes other facets of frontier life that are woven in seamlessly, including the dangers of coal mining, a judgmental school teacher, and the dynamics of neighbors and friendships in a tight-knit community. I recommend this book to fans of Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, and Regina Jennings.

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

About the Author

Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age.

Born east of the Mississippi and a hundred years too late, Pam still boasts of wrangling calves, milking cows and putting up hay, first as a child, and later with her own personal hero, Iran, on their family farm in Mississippi.

A voracious reader as a child, Pam especially enjoyed stories involving the great Westward expansion, and television shows such as Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Gunsmoke. The western writer, Louis L’Amour, kept Pam mesmerized with his tales of cowboys and Indians, mountain men and outlaws, prim schoolteachers, hot dry deserts, and boom towns.

Pam’s life in the country and her love of the old west bring authenticity to her work and depth to her characters, something that has been recognized many times in the industry through writer’s awards.

Her debut novel, Stealing Jake, was a finalist in the International Digital Awards and the 2013 EPIC eBook Awards. Claiming Mariah, her second novel won the Inspirational Readers Choice. Her latest release, The Evergreen Bride, is set in the heart of Mississippi. Pam lives in Mississippi with her husband and family.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review & Kindle Fire Giveaway: Among the Fair Magnolias by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, Elizabeth Musser

 Heidi Reads... Among the Fair Magnolias by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, Elizabeth Musser

My rating:


Four Southern women are at a turning point in history . . . and in their own hearts.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
The Civil War cost Savannah Darby everything—her family and her home. When Aidan Bedford, an attorney from Boston, buys the Darby estate, he hires Savannah to redecorate. Can she find a mysterious treasure before her job is finished?

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray
When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he’s determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother’s homestead, he discovers that she is very ill and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily has a secret: She's in love with one of the freedmen on her family's plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.

My Review

These four novellas are rich in history and details of Southern life. I felt like I learned several new things with each story. I was especially surprised to learn that during Reconstruction it was the Republican party that advocated for equal rights for black people and the Democrats were murdering, terrorizing, and seeking to prevent the blacks from exercising their freedoms and voting rights, as well as the Republicans that supported them. What a scary time in history. The bravery and courage of those men and women who acted on their beliefs during such violence and danger is inspiring.

Each story has a different setting- a Georgia plantation, a small-town Texas homestead, Nashville slums, and an island for wealthy vacationers. I have a personal preference for characters who experience hardship rather than reading about society's elite, since there is less entitlement and more refining of character. However, the men and women in all the stories seek to overcome hardships and pressures of society to find the path that God would have them follow.

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

Four best-selling novelists bring tales of four Southern women who face near impossible choices on their journeys in life and in love during the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history in Among the Fair MagnoliasDon't miss this collection of stories from Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser.

Join the authors in celebrating the release of Among the Fair Magnolias by entering to win their Southern Hearts Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to their August 13th author chat party!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
  • One copy of Among the Fair Magnolias
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/13. The winner will be announced at the Among the Fair Magnolias Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tamera, Dorothy, Shelley, and Elizabeth, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 13th!