Annabelle’s Ruth (The Kinsman Redeemer Book 1) by Betty Thomason Owens ~ a review

Annabelle's Ruth

This beautifully crafted retelling of the biblical story of the Book of Ruth, brought forward to and set in the racially turbulent American south of the 1950s, stays true to the essence of the original.

The story gripped me from the beginning when Annabelle Cross and her two daughters-in-law lose their husbands off the coast of California when their fishing boat capsizes. Following the biblical narrative, one daughter-in-law leaves Annabelle to return to her parents, but native Hawaiian born Connie stays and they both travel to Annabel’s home in Tennessee. Most of the locals are happy to have Annabelle home again, but a few whisper that Connie is mixed-race mulatto.

Figuratively speaking, I wanted to bite my nails when one of Annabelle’s close relatives, a powerful local man who might have be involved in some shady deals, dearly wanted for her to be forced to leave Tennessee and to take that daughter-in-law with her.

Where the biblical Ruth picked wheat, Connie struggles with mourning for her dead husband and hides her pregnancy as she does the back-breaking labor of picking cotton. Alton, who owns the fields (her “Boaz”) takes note and has compassion for her. I loved the relationship of Connie and Alton growing from mutual respect to a deep love.

Purchas Annabelle’s Ruth on Amazon

Betty’s Amazon Author Page

ANNABELLE’S JOY – Kinsman Redeemer, Book 3 by Betty Thomason Owens ~ an author interview

Annabelle's JoyHistorical Romance, with a dash of suspense

I’ve known Betty Thomason Owens for a number of years online. As Chair of the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight (a venue showcasing the best in Christian fiction), I’ve been blessed to have had Betty, from the very beginning, as a co-chair for the past nine years. Where have the years gone?

So, of course I’m delighted to ask Betty a few questions about her new release, ANNABELLE’S JOY. I’m a widow, and was one of her readers who wanted to see Annabelle let go of the pain of her past loss. I’ve read Annabelle’s Joy and it is a joy to read.flower, daisy

Nike: What brought you to write this book/series?

Betty: I was inspired to write the first book in the Kinsman Redeemer series after completing a study of the biblical book of Ruth. I love Ruth’s story and I’ve read it many times but this time, a story idea began in my imagination. What if?

I wrote the story and ANNABELLE’S RUTH was picked up by my publisher. However, she wanted a series. I made something up, she liked it, she accepted it. The first two books were easy to write. The central character, Connie Cross, was Annabelle’s daughter-in-law. Annabelle was the Naomi character, Connie was her “Ruth,” who left her home out of devotion to her mother-in-law.

SUTTER’S LANDING is the sequel to that story, as Connie sets out to begin a new life with her “Boaz,” Alton Wade. The story could have been complete at the close of book two. However, my readers wanted to know what happened to Annabelle, and so did I. After all, in SUTTER’S LANDING, she had a would-be suitor. Would she be able to let go of her painful past, cast her fears aside, and love again? I had to find out. The final book, ANNABELLE’S JOY, answers those questions. I hope my readers will finish with a smile on their tear-stained faces.

Nike: What comes first, plot or characters? How do you develop each of them?

Betty: Definitely characters. Most of my stories have been character driven. I’m not good at plotting. I end up following rabbit-trails because my characters develop minds of their own.

I decide what type of person I’d like my character to be in the beginning, and where I want them to end up. I have an idea of a character arc I’d like to develop along the way and try to stay within those parameters. Outside of that, I build a character from the inside out. I decide on their personalities, then create their outward appearance, using a simple character sheet (I use the one found in Scrivener). I may deviate from that first impression later, but I try to stay consistent. A character sheet helps me do that.

Nike: Do you have a blog or a newsletter? How’s that going?

Betty: I’m so glad you asked that. I do have a website and a personal blog called, “Hello, Thursday Morning!” I think it does well enough. I’m also the cofounder/developer of a multi-author blog called Inspired Prompt. It’s a blog dedicated to helping new and indie writers by providing information to help them grow in their craft. That blog is doing extremely well.

Both blogs require a lot of work, but I believe it’s definitely worth the time and trouble. I love that we’re helping other writers with pertinent information, while giving them a place to meet other writers and possibly market their published works.

Short/Fun Questions:

You can live anywhere while you write a novel set there. Where is that? Why?

Betty: Orcas Island (Puget Sound, Washington) – It’s like another world and so conducive to writing!

Describe yourself in three words.

Betty: Loyal, thoughtful, funny

What is your fav vacay spot?

Betty: Gulf Shores, Alabama

ANNABELLE’S JOY will be released on Amazon on August 6, 2019 ~ https://www.amazon.com/Annabelles-Joy-Wholesome-Romance-Redeemer-ebook/dp/B07TXQRKG3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Annabelle%27s+Joy%2C+Betty+Thomason+Owens&qid=1563206658&s=books&sr=1-1

She’s waited too long. When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn’t ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle’s heart is ready to love again? Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate. Drift back into the simple, country life of Tennessee in 1957 with this sequel to award-winning ANNABELLE’S RUTH.

B-Owens Headshot

Bio:

Betty Thomason Owens considers herself a word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. Besides her work on the KCWC planning committee, she also leads the Louisville Area ACFW group and is a co-founder of the multi-author Inspired Prompt blog. Married forty-four years, she’s a mother of three, and a grandmother of eight. A part-time bookkeeper at her day-job, she writes for Write Integrity Press, and has seven novels in publication. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

WAR OF THE HEART by Jenna Victoria ~ a review

war-of-the-heart-1

On his deathbed, Louise Martin’s farther insists she must go to England after he’s gone and clear the family name. Her grandfather fled London and sailed to America during World War II when wrongfully accused of stealing a royal brooch.

Louise arrives at a particular bed & breakfast in London she’s been drawn to and discovers it’s double booked. The B&B’s manager, George Walker, finds a dusty room for her on an upper floor. As Louise unpacks the family heirloom snow globe she brought with her, she realizes George has one exactly like it.When the two snow globes inadvertently touch, both she and George are transported to London during Christmas week, 1940.

The author is masterful at weaving in historical details of the London blitz as well as British customs of that era. Louise and George must don period clothing and try to fit in on the streets of that bombed out city. If you’re a fan of authentic British characterization you’ll love WAR OF THE HEART. Along the way, they meet Brits with the proverbial stiff upper lip, as well as discovering London’s darker side and meeting miscreants.

This is an elegant historical romance with just the right amount of suspense. I highly recommend this story.

WAR OF THE HEART on Amazon

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DESERT DUET by Debra E. Marvin ~ a Christmas novella

Desert DuetHaving Christmas stories out in print is such a cheerful feeling during the holiday season. So, I’m thrilled to be interviewing Debra E. Marvin about her newly released historical Christmas novella, DESERT DUET.

Nike:  You once told me DESERT DUET was “mystery lite”. What do you mean by that?

Debra:  I enjoy romantic tension in a story and a happy ending, but I love mysteries first and foremost. Because Desert Duet is part of a collection by Forget-Me-Not Publishers, I knew readers would expect romance. Myself? I wanted to play with a light mystery plot. There’s a suspicious death, a crime or two, and good reasons for the hero and heroine to figure it all out, but mystery is certainly not the dominant plotline. That’s for another day!

NIke:   Give us an insight into your main character(s). What does he/she do that is so special?

Debra:  DESERT DUET has my version of a classic, old-Hollywood movie couple. Eugene is a nice guy who’s taken a chance on pursuing a dream career rather than sticking with something solid. He’d like to be sure he’s done the right thing—but that remains to be seen. Thea is confident with good reason, and modern for 1933, not because she’s ahead of her time, but because she’s already learned some lessons the hard way by her early 20s. Like Cary Grant and Claudine Colbert, or Tracy and Hepburn, Eugene and Thea had an instant meshing…a need to tease each other. I just had to keep up!

Nike:  Any amusing story to tell about the writing of this novella?

Debra:  I’d done quite a bit of online research. (1933, Humbug, AZ, an abandoned mining camp up in the Bradshaw Mts.) I discovered the Castle Hot Springs Hotel, a getaway resort and spa for the wealthy, starting before 1900. One of my best friends lives in Arizona, so we planned a road trip ‘for research’. Off we went on unpaved roads, miles up into the mountains. “Off the grid” territory. Just as I warned her we should be “getting close” to what’s left of the resort, we came around a curve and saw the transplanted palm trees in the distance. It was a magical moment to share. My characters go to a Christmas dance at the hotel. There’s nothing better for an author than to experience what you imagined your characters experiencing. Please check out my Pinterest page and see what I mean.

Nike:  If you could have lunch with your favorite author (living or dead) who would it be, and why?

Debra:  Right now, it would have to be Louise Penny, author of the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mystery series. I’m completely hooked. I read a few out of order (I borrow audiobooks from the library) before deciding I needed to start over with book one, Still Life. She’s just delightful, and her writing is amazing. Audiobooks have one drawback though—you get to work in the morning and you don’t want to turn off the vehicle and get out! It seems I’m always at a ‘good part’ when my journeys end! She writes weaving, multi-threaded mysteries with a cast of characters that keep me entirely enthralled. Lunch with her at the Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City would be my choice! Can you set that up?red bowLet’s get a sneak peak of DESERT DUET, or as Debra puts it: a Merry Christmas from Humbug. Wish You Were Here!

It’s 1933 in the good old US of A. In the midst of drought, the Depression, and gangsters on the lam, America finds solace in Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Ex-pilot Eugene Tanner, determined to pen the lyrics for the movie industry’s first “Best Song” award, books a rushed December stay at the remote Humbug Creek Guest Ranch (A Gold Mine of a Getaway!) Where better to find inspiration for an epic Western, than amid all that trail dust and burnt coffee?

Thea Knight gives up her short holiday break from the studio’s costume department to play cowgirl hostess at her family’s struggling guest ranch. But instead of helping their witty and handsome guest, she becomes his biggest distraction. Old flames and past regrets take a backseat when the pair become embroiled in a ghost town mystery marring Humbug, Arizona’s rustic Christmas. Thankfully, the cowgirl is as fast with her Winchester as she is with her comebacks.

Amazon

Debra E MarvinDebra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She’d like to live a wee bit closer to her grandchildren, but is thankful that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.

Other than writing light-hearted romances and gritty gothics, she has rather normal obsessions such as fabric, peanut butter, vacations, British dramas, and whatever mystery series she’s currently stuck on.

Website, Debra blogs at Inkwell Inspirations, Pinterest, Facebook

BURNING SKY by Lori Benton ~ a review

Burning Sky 2

BURNING SKY by Lori Benton is a captivating historical epic novel set in the post-Revolutionary War era. This debut novel won the Grace Awards 2013 in the Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category. The novel’s historical accuracy is obvious, as well as the author’s knowledge of the Native American tribes then living in New York State. The author’s expressive prose paints a vibrant picture of life at that time. This novel would be a valuable addition to any homeschooling curriculum.

Ms. Benton moves the characters from one element of the story to the next with great skill. The author did a superb job when Burning Sky, who had been captured as a young lass by northern New York State tribes, returns home to her family’s cabin and transitions back to thinking and speaking more and more in English as she tries to resume her former identity as Willa Obenchein. She is stunned to find her family’s cabin empty, abandoned, and in disrepair. She’s even more stunned to find some have called into question her parents loyalty to the colonial-cause during the war. She’s a woman caught between two worlds. Though not surprised when some settlers treated her with open hostility, it instills fear in her and increases her wariness. She is the type of character the reader cares about from page one.

Willa has experienced a number of losses throughout her life, most significantly, the death of the two children she bore to her deceased Native American husband. She is determined to guard her heart and keep it closed to avoid getting hurt again. However, hard she tries to shut herself off from emotional entanglements, she finds life will have its way.

The characters, even the secondary and minor ones, feel believable and authentic to the period. Many of whom bear deep and painful scars due to the brutal battles on the frontier, with both the British and Americans having committed atrocities. This is a multi-faceted novel presenting a story of bitterness, suspicion, and determination that turns into one of love, forgiveness, and restoration.

Neil MacGregor and Joseph Tames His Horse, two very different men, with dissimilar strengths, both devout Christians, vie for the love of Willa/Burning Sky. The portrayal of Neil’s strength through his deep faith was done superbly, without even the slightest hint of preaching, and was organic to the story. The author does a marvelous job keeping the reader guessing how this love-triangle will turn out. The villains are not stereotypes, but rather are well fleshed out. One of them skillfully and horrifically manipulates events. While his younger brother, who has developmental challenges, is a touching character crafted with depth. I highly recommend this book to readers from age fourteen to one-hundred and fourteen.

DARKEST HOUR ~ a seaside mystery ~ on the Grace Awards 2013 Launch

Darkest Hour, Lg

Team Launching is a whole lot of fun…and summer is the time to do it. What a whirlwind and now DARKEST HOUR is showcased on the tour.

*****

I thought to myself, self, what can I say about DARKEST HOUR that’s new and different. Everyone knows it’s filled with suspense, intrigue, and treachery….not to mention romance. They know it’s set in the mid-1940s and that I’m crazy about the post World War II era.

Ah, but what they might not know is that I’m also in love with the sea…the ocean, particularly the Atlantic Ocean. I love it’s history and lore and love to visit cities and villages on the America’s eastern seaboard. I’m in love with Cape Cod, Key Largo and St. Augustine, Florida, and Montauk, NY (it’s the end.) Stories from the 1800s before the mast, of whaling, or of sea captains who went down with their ships thrill me.

That’s a big part of why I set the Sanctuary Point series on the south shore of Long Island. I created a tiny village first settled by missionaries. Then during prohibition day, a local shipping family made their fortune bootlegging illegal whiskey. This family employs a good many of the residents and thinks it can call the shots.  DARKEST HOUR is the fourth novel in the series and the ocean is so integral to the story, it’s almost a character.

*****

A petite widow, medical secretary and sole support of her young son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indicte her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual. When his report is shoved aside, he starts his own side-investigation trying to clear her and in the process he falls in love with her.

Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society finacee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, acuses Lucinda of murder.  She struggles on shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he’s a ladies’ man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner.

Hank Jansen, the county ME who’s had his share of pain and loss, doesn’t know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she’s too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can’t deny he’s fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there’s a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.

Excerpt:

Lucinda leaned forward and took his hands in hers. “The ocean has taken so much from both of us. I used to love the beach, the sand, the waves. Now I hate it.”

Concern flashed across his eyes. “Maybe it was a mistake coming to Long Beach. Would you like to go?”

“No, I live in a waterside village. Sanctuary Point is on the bay. Long Beach is on the ocean. There’s not much difference. I’m used to having my enemy near.” She hadn’t meant to get so maudlin. Her mind raced for something uplifting to say, but failed. “Boy, I’m hungry now.” It was the best she could do.

The waitress brought two glasses of ice water and took their order. They both took huge gulps.

“Say, you didn’t tell me how your appointment went with your attorney.”

Lucinda placed her half empty glass on the table. “It went well. He’s going to use your report as the basis for my defense. I told him about your new lead, and he said that sounds promising indeed.” She giggled. “Those were his words, ‘promising indeed’.”

“I’m glad my report is useful to somebody. The angle of trajectory points to a much taller shooter. But do they take that into consideration? No.”

“Maybe when it’s presented to the jury…”

Purchase Links:

Amazon/Kindle.  amzn.to/154FCnq

Barnes and Noble/Nook.  bit.ly/17Kh6mg

*****

Nike. Pix

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Grace Awards Winner: WALKS ALONE by Sandi Rog, a review

Walks AloneWALKS ALONE captivated and mesmerized me at times. No wonder it won in the Grace Award 2012 Action-Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category.

This is a well-written epic novel beginning in Holland and ending in the old west. Loved the way it opened with the tenderness of Anna’s widowed father aboard ship. It was hard not to get involved in the father’s dream of traveling to Denver City with seven-year-old Anna to start a new life. Unfortunately, Anna’s father falls ill in New York City and passes away and she is left in the care her father’s brother for six terrible years. The scenes with Anna’s abusive uncle were brutal and fully engaging. After Anna escapes her uncle, she travels westward by train, and finally joins a wagon train where she’s not well treated. There is a fascinating, though not explicit, bathing scene in a river, where an exhausted Anna allows herself to relax and find relief from the intense and life threatening heat of the prairie. When half-breed Jean-Marc comes upon her with a small band of angry-braves, the reader is caught between instant knowledge of the hero’s strong attraction to her and the extreme danger she’s in and is hooked. Anna is taken by this brave’s strange blue-green eyes and can’t help wondering how it is that he speaks English better than she does. Ms. Rog understands Native American life in that era quite well. I appreciated her attention to the details of Cheyenne tribal life. She did an excellent job of showing the anger and murderous rage of the braves as well as the prejudice of the settlers and their inability to see Native Americans as people, which led to Indian massacres.

Both Anna/Walks Alone and Jean Marc/White Eagle are flawed and well written. White Eagle’s poetic declaration of how his love is so large and encompassing that he sees and hears Walks Alone everywhere, even in the wind, was superb. He tells her of his pain at having caught her engaging in conversation with his sworn enemy, the man who led the deadly raid against his tribe. Through this, the author conveys how painful it is for Father God to witness His children engaging with idols. Beautifully done. Touches the reader at a deep spiritual level.

My only problem was with Anna’s continued insistence on finding herself and her pulling away from White Eagle after their Native American marriage is consummated and then again after his poetic declaration of love. I’m not sure such personal enlightenment was high on the list in those days. However, the author did manage to sweep me back into the story. Then the story would move on and carry me through thrilling bandit attacks, chilling raids on White Eagle’s tribe by a rogue Cheyenne warrior and his band of braves. A fantastic read, which I highly recommend.

GA Winner 2012

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/16s2OYu

Barnes & Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16xnGzf