Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Wedding Date in Hot Springs Arkansas

Title:  A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Author:  Annalisa Daughety
Pages:  311
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Barbour Publishing
                Jackson and Violet really did not get along in college.  Due to his pranks and half-hearted efforts, he caused her to graduate a semester late and embarrassed her in front of her friends.  She did go to law school afterwards, graduate, and join the family law firm.  Jackson also went to graduate school and then got a job in economic development.  Both end up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, although they don’t know it.
                Jackson has been nominated for an award with a banquet to attend.  Violet’s sister is getting married and she refuses to go without a date.  She will not be seen as the older spinster sister to be pitied!  Both go to the same matchmaker, unbeknownst to each other, and she matches them up together.  A date is set up for lunch to initially meet their “match”, but they don’t know what their date looks like.  They are both taken aback to say the least.  They eventually agree to a contract of four months of “dating”.  Jackson will pretend to be her boyfriend and Violet will pretend to be his girlfriend.  At the end of the contract, they will both go their separate ways.  There will be no risk to either of them as no feelings will be involved.  They both will get people off their backs that have been pestering them to settle down.
                Violet also has quit her job at the family law firm and is getting ready to open her own cupcake store.  Baking has been a passion of hers for a long time, but she wanted to please her parents by joining the family law firm so she put that interest on the backburner.  At the age of 33, she is just beginning to realize it is okay to pursue your interests.  God made each of us different.  We are not to try and be something we’re not.
                Jackson has changed a lot since college and tries to make amends to Violet about their past.  He and Violet are both Christians, attend church, and he even teaches a Bible study.  Violet wonders though if he has truly changed.  They both begin to have real feelings for one another despite their contract.  Can they have a real relationship?  Can Violet truly forgive Jackson?  Will Violet’s new business venture be a success or will she be forced to return to being a lawyer?
                This is a charming story.  We see Violet mentor a teenage girl, encourages her best friend through her marriage troubles and the decision to go back to work.  Jackson encourages Violet and takes responsibility for his past deeds.  We see relationships go through real-life problems and characters learn that it is best not to have secrets and be honest.  I just found this story so engaging!
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate

Title:  Firefly Island
Author:  Lisa Wingate
Pages:  384
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Bethany
                Firefly Island is the first novel I have read by Lisa Wingate.  I think she has a talent for intertwining romance with suspense.  When I first began reading the story, I wondered what was the point or theme of the story.  I was also trying to figure out if this was a mystery or a romance and just exactly had I gotten myself into!  Well, what I discovered was a story unlike any I have read recently.
                Mallory is working on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant, single, and living a very fast-paced life without room for anyone significant to get close to her.  One day as she is rushing about in high costly apparel with her arms loaded with papers, she meets a man who holds her attention.  Within a month they are married; she becomes a step-mother and is moving to a very remote place in Texas.  As a newlywed she is now responsible for a 3-year-old and a house that has space for various critters, but not of the human kind.  As she begins to implode, she reaches out for a lifeline only to hear her own responses she gave months ago to others when they needed her given right back to her.  Now Daniel is working for a man who has a hidden past, which scares Mallory.  She is trying to adapt to a snail pace lifestyle when she is accustomed to being on-the-go constantly.
                Mallory and Daniel meet a variety of characters in this small Texas town.  Mallory meets people she never even thought of as people before.  Nick, her stepson, makes friends so easily.  When he is discovered asleep in an area that has been declared off limits by Daniel’s boss, the mystery about him climaxes.  Jack West has Daniel doing research that is so secretive and demands so much time that Mallory has to find a new life for herself.  Her friends in Washington set her up to blog never imagining that she will be uncovering a major headliner of a story!
                At first, the reading for me went slow.  It probably didn’t help that I was trying to figure out the story instead of enjoying it.  Once I get to know an author’s writing, I can read and enjoy the novel more. Are you like that?  Lisa Wingate has a new follower now, and it is me.  She writes with a heart that shares real life issues in a fictional setting and it was great.  I loved coming to the end of the novel and seeing God glorified as well as knowing that there are novels where the search for truth is paramount.  Here, we see where a Washingtonian becomes a frontier woman who then finds herself in front of a camera defending the rights of all people.  How does she get there?  What are the other events that occur in this character’s life?  To find the answers, grab a copy, open to the first page and get ready for a journey of discovering that God does use people no matter where they live.
                My rating is 4 ½ stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Review: The Return of Cassandra Todd

Title:  The Return of Cassandra Todd
Author:  Darrel Nelson
Pages:  304
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Realms
                Get ready to delve into a highly charged fictional epic that leads the reader through the journey of rediscovery.  Though I read the words on the back cover to get an overview of the main thrust of this fictional story, I didn’t expect the captivating story inside.  I couldn’t put it down; each page turned was drawing me in to a highly charged series of action and adventure.
                High school is a time of discovery for teenagers and hopes for individuals.  Years later, reunions show the reality of what became of the person.  Those words are the backdrop for the story of a woman married to a man who was high school quarterback.  She was the head cheerleader and everyone assumed they would have a happily ever after forever.  Time shows the reality that nothing is further from the truth than this.
                Cassandra has to run away with her 4-year-old son when the level of abuse keeps rising and soon, even the 4-year-old is in mortal danger.  Brad was successful until the economy ruined him financially, which then put him on a course down the wrong path.  For Cassandra, however, she chooses a different path.  She searches for a Person, and God is ever present.  She begins to draw near to Him, praying and growing in her relationship with God, hoping against all else that her marriage can be salvaged and even healed.  Whatever happened to her happily ever after?
                Working as a handyman, distant from God because of heartaches and disappointments, Turner is going to college to complete his degree.  Through the years he remembers Cassandra as well as Brad, but he was always the victim of cruel pranks in high school.  Now, here she is and all those memories come to the surface, the ones Turner worked so hard to repress.  Cassandra doesn’t even recognize him.  Each of them is thrown together for survival as Brad with his thugs sets out to bring Cassandra back home no matter what the cost.  She does have an “ace” in her pocket to force Brad to think about doing harm to their son if he ever finds her.  Suddenly, the long-dreaded moment is here.
                Reading the story in one sitting was a must for me so I could see how everything was going to be resolved.  The truth of God working in our lives is a main truth woven throughout the story.  Another truth is that time and drawing near to God with the help of His people helps to overcome trauma and stress we all experience this side of heaven.  The last thought I had as I read the book was that while we can choose to draw near to God and go His way, which isn’t always the easiest or shortest route, going alone is definitely not the way to go.  When you get to the end of the novel, I hope your heart is touched with the truth of God’s love and care.
                My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Introducing The Return of Cassandra Todd

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Return of Cassandra Todd
Realms (February 5, 2013)
Darrel Nelson


I am a schoolteacher by profession and have taught school for (thir—ahem!) years. I grew up in Raymond, Alberta, and attended the University of Lethbridge after graduating from high school and serving a two-year mission to Japan. During university, I met and married Marsha Smith, and we are the parents of four children, which has grown to include their spouses and our ten grandchildren.

I have always loved to write. I started writing stories before I was old enough to realize I was writing stories. It seemed a natural thing to pick up a pencil and paper and create a world simply by using words—worlds of adventure in steaming jungles (Tarzan was an early influence on me) or realms of adventure in outer space (Buck Rogers). But as I have grown older, I have discovered that the real inspiration for me is exploring the theme of love and how it can make such a difference in the world.

I’ve had an article published in Lethbridge Magazine and have written several dramatic plays, two of which won provincial recognition and were showcased at a drama festival. I won the CJOC radio songwriting contest two years running, and have had one of my songs receive international airplay. I have written four novels intended for the juvenile market. They are unpublished as yet, but I read them annually to my fourth grade students and my students tell me they love them, the darlings.


When the girl he hated in high school suddenly reenters his life, little son in tow, and asks for his help, Turner must put the past behind him if they are to survive.

Turner Caldwell works at a local motel as a handyman while attending college full-time. On his way to class one day, he passes the bus depot just as Cassandra Todd and her young son arrive. He is shocked to see her, remembering how cruel she was to him in high school. She was the popular head cheerleader and he the target of her mean-spirited pranks. Turner could never have imagined that the outdoor training and survival skills he learned at Camp Kopawanee, a summer youth camp where he worked three years as a leader, would one day become so crucial. But when Cassandra and her son check into the motel where he works and she asks for his help in eluding her abusive husband, Turner finds himself entangled in a situation that will require every skill he has in order to survive.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Return of Cassandra Todd, go HERE.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flora's Wish Review

Title:  Flora’s Wish
Author:  Kathleen Y’Barro
Pages:  368
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers
                All Flora wants is a happily ever after for herself.  This happily ever after means she gets to marry a man she loves, not one she has to marry to save the family home and land.  Right now, it doesn’t look like she will get her happily ever after.  Due to a provision in her grandfather’s will, she must marry and produce an heir before her cousin turns 30 or he will inherit the family home and land.  Her cousin has turned 28, and Flora is running out of time.  She must marry someone soon to keep the homestead in her family and provide a place for herself and disabled sister to live.  If her cousin inherits, he will sell the home, leaving her and her sister homeless.  She has been engaged four times, but before a wedding can take place, each of her fiancés dies, earning her the nickname Fatal Flora.  She has been the subject of Natchez gossip for months, but due to her formidable grandmother, still finds herself in good social standing.
                Flora has found fiancé number five, Will Tucker, has arranged a date and place for a quick marriage, and the groom has agreed to the conditions set forth in a legal document detailing his compensation and her expectations of him.  Now, if only the groom would show up.  He does show up, but two weeks late.  Flora is on the verge of returning home with her grandmother in tow.  She has captured the attention of a Pinkerton agent and is now in his personal custody.  The Pinkerton agent, Lucas McMinn, thinks Flora is in collusion with her fiancé, a thief.  Flora believes him innocent until proven guilty and doggedly defends him.  Lucas is determined he is guilty and to bring him to justice.  What follows are various events and situations leading up to the climax of the story.  Along the way Flora and Lucas fall in love with each other.  Will they admit their love for one another before Flora marries Will?  Who is Will Tucker really?  A thief?  A detective for the railroad?
                This is an average story that is a bit too long and drags along in places.  The story idea is a good one, and there is some witty dialogue between the two main characters.  Overall, the tale is worth reading, and I would read more books by this author.
                My rating is 3 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at