BETTING ON LOVE by Mary Beesley – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

BETTING ON LOVE

by
MARY BEESLEY
RomCom / Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: March 24, 2021
Number of Pages: 193 pages
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Tempest Swan is out for revenge. Billionaire Leonard Allred’s software program has put her out of a job. She makes a bet with a friend that she’ll get Leonard to take her on a date so she can get retribution, but a fortuitous accident with an adorable nerd might just derail her vengeance.
Leonard has reasons for hiding his identity from the public. It’s worked well for him so far, until he starts falling for the honest and witty Tempest. But how can he destroy their budding romance by admitting he’s actually the guy she hates?
PRAISE FOR BETTING ON LOVE:
“If I could give Betting on Love more stars I would because 5 stars aren’t enough.” -Jacky, Goodreads reader
“BEST BEACH READ!! Witty and fun and it was super hard to put down.” – Katherine, Goodreads reader
“It had just enough spice to make you feel the sparks.” – Rebecca, Goodreads reader
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A light, slow-burn, trope-y romance, Betting On Love will delight fans of romcoms and, if adapted into a film, would fit perfectly in the programming lineup of a certain greeting-card channel famous for their holiday tv-movies.
The twists and turns Ms. Beesley put Tempest and Leo through are more than enough to create a two-hour show– mistaken identity, a little deception, groveling, misunderstandings, best-intentioned plans gone awry, forced proximity (there’s only one tent!), almost-kiss, longing looks, cute speeches, and finally a carpe diem risk-it-all move.
The author infused the characters with realness and relatability that I liked. They are not perfectly likable, even annoying at times. I loved that they make a conscious effort to forge strong family ties. I also loved the tight bonds of friendship and sisterhood in this story.
What I didn’t love was the overabundance of push and pull. Tempest and Leo taking turns in ignoring each other for various reasons made for a frustrating read and didn’t really build up the relationship. The leap from cold shoulder to risking-it-all needed a better transition than what was on the page. Maybe Blair’s book (hint, hint) will take a different approach to the journey to happily-ever-after she rightfully deserves.
Thanks to Lone Star Lit for the inclusion in the blog tour and to the author for providing a digital copy of the book for review.
4 out of 5 stars

Mary Beesley is a Whitney Award Nominee and received a Crowned Heart of Excellence Review and a 5-star Reader’s Favorite Award.
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COMFORT ZONE by Kimberly Fish–Book Blog Tour: Reviewapalooza and Giveaway

COMFORT ZONE
A Comfort Stories Book
by
KIMBERLY FISH
Genre: Contemporary / Second Chance Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: November 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 289 pages 
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The award-winning author of Comfort Songs, Comfort Plans, and Comfort Foods digs into the life of single-mom Anna Weber, an appraiser who gives value to other people’s found treasures. On assignment to research a handwritten sheet of music, Anna helps a stranded motorist, only to discover she’s rescued retired NFL quarterback Jack Moses. His confidence and fascination for solving problems makes him impossible for Anna to ignore even as they both dart along separate deadlines to save the finances at an inner-city school. Little does Anna know that as she wrestles with secrets from her past and a suspicious approach to people, Jack is running too—dodging women, pro athletes, and a future with no definable end zone.
As a nemesis threatens Anna’s young daughters, these two unlikely partners discover that it’s in stepping back from years of self-sufficiency that Anna and Jack can find the best treasure of all: a series of sweet, second chances.
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PRAISE & AWARDS
“Kimberly Fish’s Comfort books are wonderful, charming stories set in the Texas Hill Country. Fans of small towns family relationships will enjoy these feel-good books. Two thumbs up!” – Jan Moran, USA Today bestselling author of Seabreeze Inn.
Comfort Zone is a Literary Titan Gold Award winner and a Reader Views Bronze Award winner in romance. It was also a runner-up in the regional fiction category of the New England Book Festival awards.
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Perfectly titled, Comfort Zone left me feeling a warm glow inside after reading it. With her latest book, Kimberly Fish welcomes her eager readers back to Comfort, Texas– a place of solace and support, a place where you’ll feel safe and at ease. For those reasons, Anna Weber calls it her forever home.

Not at first, though. Not until her past caught up with her and brought danger to herself and her twin daughters. What was a place to hide became special because of friends gathering around to get her back on her feet and a new man proving his worth to her with his actions, making her consider opening her heart once again.

We’re living in days not promised … We can’t treat these gifts lightly.”

While in pursuit of information to turn a handwritten sheet of music into a funding vehicle for a charter school, Anna and former NFL Quarterback Jack Moses get thrown together by chance and by well-intentioned manipulation care of Jack’s best friends Jo Jo and LaDonna. From San Antonio to Dallas to Tyler and to Comfort, the scenes showing the burgeoning attraction between Anna and Jack elicited some of the widest smiles and the most satisfied sighs from me. I loved the romance in this story. It developed naturally and was paced properly.

… you need to spend time in the workshop of your soul. It’s in getting out and doing things, serving others, that you get your real livelihood.”

One of the things I appreciate about Ms. Fish’s writing is her ability to manage a multitude of secondary characters. She gives them distinct personalities without having them overshadow the leads. Jo Jo and LaDonna are notables. As are Lacy, AJ, and Kali. For future books, I’d like to see the author explore beyond the binary. She has done so well in seamlessly incorporating a multicultural cast, I’m sure she’ll excel in further inclusion.

Live in the present because it is …”

Outstanding sense of place, compelling storyline, impeccable characterization, a wonderful balance of humor and angst. I’m grateful to Kimberly Fish and Lone Star Lit for the opportunity to review this delightful story.

4 Four-half-stars


Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of these novels have won distinguished awards.
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THE SPARK OF LOVE by Amanda Cabot–Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

THE SPARK OF LOVE
by
AMANDA CABOT
Categories: Fiction / Christian / Historical Romance
Series: Mesquite Springs Series, Book 3
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
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She’s determined to start a new life in the West . . . if only the old one would leave her alone
When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be, as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach.
But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe, an investigator, is searching for proof that her father is a swindler.
With so much to lose–and hide from one another–Alexandra and Gabe will have to come together if they are ever to discover whether the sparks they’ve felt from the beginning can kindle the fire of true love.
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I’ve been looking forward to The Spark of Love ever since I read the wildly intriguing teaser for it in the previous book Dreams Rekindled. I’m happy to say the entirety of it lived up to my high expectations for the third installment of this brilliant series by Amanda Cabot.

Alexandra Tarkington is the quintessential Cabot heroine–possessing of beauty, brains, and backbone. Her boldness in journeying by herself from New York to Texas, her empathy towards the motherless twins, her generosity in giving of her time and talent, and her persistence in proving her worth to her father despite his antiquated beliefs gave me reasons to admire her.

Similarly, Gabe Seymour fits the mold of a Cabot hero–capable, protective, and supportive of the heroine in whatever she wanted to achieve. I was initially worried about his deception but was reassured by his honorable actions to make it right and his instant belief in Alexandra’s integrity. I really liked that he didn’t have all the answers and he sought assistance in his search of them.

The slow build of their romance made sense in light of Gabe’s hidden purpose for being in Mesquite Springs. I really liked the wholesomeness and sweetness of their courtship, especially the double dates with Sam and Laura. The friendship that developed among these characters was another highlight of the book for me. The support system, the warmth of community, the solace of church–they’re essential to the Mesquite Springs series and they’re in full display in this book.

My only cavil about this story is the presence of too many unsympathetic characters without much dimension to them. Two villains to provide intrigue and suspense would have been plenty. Four was excessive.

I truly enjoyed this series and I’m thankful to Revell and Lone Star Lit for giving me the opportunity to review these books. As always, I’m looking forward to Ms. Cabot’s future works.

4 out of 5 stars


Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of Out of the Embers and Dreams Rekindled, as well as the Cimarron Creek Trilogy and the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds series. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

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THE YES DARE by Kathleen Y’Barbo – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

THE YES DARE

A Pies, Books
& Jesus Club Novel
by
KATHLEEN Y’BARBO
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: July 15, 2021
Number of Pages: 246 pages 
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Have you ever wished for a second chance to fix something you’ve messed up or for the courage to say yes to something that just may change your life? Sometimes saying yes to the last thing you want can mean saying yes to exactly what you need.

Ryan “The Rocket” Sutton’s winning streak is legendary makes him the undisputed best quarterback in the NFL. However, thanks to one dumb mistake, he’s a failure as a husband to Coco, the only woman he’s ever loved. When a judge’s mistake in divorce paperwork means Coco is still his wife, Ryan makes up his mind to fix what he ruined. Ryan’s game plan doesn’t count on an internationally famous movie director’s camera crew following him as he competes for Coco’s love.

After spending most of her adult life as a football wife and mother to twin sons, fashionista Coco Sutton is learning how to be single and fabulous. Emphasis on Fabulous. The sports trophies, memorabilia, and heavy masculine wood furniture in the home she used to share with Ryan have been banished to the attic, and her home is now a cozy haven of plush candle-scented comfort. She’s got big plans that include owning a boutique or maybe an art gallery, but she never planned to take on the biggest challenge of her life: staying single. Then her best friend gives her a copy of a book called The Yes Dare, and all her plans are turned upside down.

From a Hollywood movie to the local spring event formerly known as the Cow Chip Toss Festival and a country crooner with a crush on Coco, will Ryan dodge the obstacles to win back the only woman he ever loved?
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Stories like The Yes Dare are why I love to read Romance. Normally, I’d never touch a book if there’s even a slight hint of the kind of betrayal that broke up the main characters’ marriage in this story. Knowing the guarantee of a happy-ever-after ending in my favorite genre is what had me taking a chance on reviewing Ms. Y’Barbo’s latest title despite not having read any of her work before. I’m glad that trust was justified and the author delivered spectacularly on the resolution of the conflict that’s keeping Coco and Ryan apart.
You have no idea how many opportunities you’ve got to change your life until you start watching for them.”
Lighthearted and well-paced, The Yes Dare tells the entertaining story of Ryan’s campaign to win back Coco’s heart after finding out the invalidity of their divorce a year later. With the help of their sons, their friends, the people of their small town of Sugar Pine, Texas, the governor himself, and a book from which the story’s title came from, Rocket succeeds in getting Coco to say Yes to him once more.
I liked many things about this book. Now in my late-40’s, I prefer stories with protagonists close to my age so the fact that Coco and Ryan are almost forty made them more relatable to me. Ryan’s putting words into action and Coco’s competence in managing a large-scale event demonstrated their maturity in a way that’s very appealing. Also noteworthy is the subtle integration of faith in their words and deeds.
The sheer Texas-ness of Sugar Pine and its residents is really delightful. The members of Coco and Ryan’s community not only meddle, express their opinions loudly, but they also give their support wholeheartedly.
The low level of angst is something I highly appreciate. It’s obvious from the start that the estranged couple still loved each other and excessive push and pull would not have suited the story. I respect Ms. Y’Barbo for setting the right tone and flow that made this book an easy and enjoyable read.
Having said that, I’d have liked more setup for the climactic scene and perhaps an epilogue instead of the abrupt ending. I also would have appreciated more inclusiveness and wider representation to reflect the society we live in today.
Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit and the author for giving me the opportunity to review the book. I’ll be visiting Sugar Pine again in the future to get to know more about their residents, especially Sessa and Trey.
4 out of 5 stars

Publishers Weekly bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students, Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Sisters in Crime, Faith Hope and Love Christian Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.
Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas, and are the parents, grandparents, and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and a trio of adorable Londoners.

TRACE OF DOUBT by DiAnn Mills – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

TRACE OF DOUBT

BY DIANN MILLS

Categories: Romantic Suspense / Christian Fiction / FBI Crime Solving Novel / Clean Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House
Pub Date: September 7, 2021
Pages: 432 pages

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Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.
 
FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.
 
But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

PRAISE FOR TRACE OF DOUBT :

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – LYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart. . . Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Well-researched . . . with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
 
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
 
 

GINGERBREAD KISSES by Minette Lauren – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

GINGERBREAD KISSES
Hot in Magnolia Book 4
By Minette Lauren


Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Pages: 275
Categories: Sexy Romance

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Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.

As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.

As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she’s lost everything else?

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With its double serving of swoony love stories, small-town quirks, adorable pets, and fascinating characters readers would want to get to know more, Gingerbread Kisses is an early holiday treat for Romance lovers everywhere. Its fun and light tone makes it an easy and enjoyable read and its steamy sexytimes live up to the series title of Hot In Magnolia. Funny, low-angst, and hot. Exactly how I like my Romance.
This is my first book by Minette Lauren, my first visit to Magnolia, and I’m happy to go back for more. I usually don’t seek out stories with actors and actresses as lead characters because I find so little in common with them, but Ms. Lauren made Ginger Lynn sympathetic to me and I give her kudos for that.
I admire Ginger’s determination to get back on her feet after her humiliating fall from grace, her willingness to work two jobs that she considered beneath her in the past, and her gradual warming up to the people of Magnolia. I understood her loss of confidence and cheered for her when she realized what’s important. I also liked the characterization of Roland as a by-the-book constable whose life is upended when Ginger came into town. I really like his patience with her and his respect for her wishes despite her sometimes hot-and-cold behavior. I especially like the ending where they both reached out to the other and decided to be together even to the point of giving up what’s familiar.
I have an equal appreciation for the second-chance romance between Lexi and Noah. I’m always soft for heroes who fall fast and fall hard for the object of his love and Noah ticks that box for me. There’s a “Seize the Day” quality to their getting together that is totally my jam.
Ms. Lauren’s vivid descriptions gave this book a great sense of place. I can picture in my head where the scene locations are as if they’re real. Magnolia seems to be a quintessential Texas small town with a higher proportion of hot men and women than most places in the state (or country). Herein lies my major cavil about this book–the lack of diversity. There’s not much indication of multiculturalism or unconventional lifestyles. Everyone seems to be fit, white, and straight. Not truly reflective of the society we live in today.
Overall, an engaging read and a book I’d recommend to the followers of this blog. It put me in a holiday spirit, inspiring me to bake gingerbread kiss cookies. I’m not sure if it’s Ginger’s grandma’s recipe, but it sure made the house smell like Christmas. Thanks to Ms. Lauren for the inspiration and for providing me with a complimentary copy to review through Lone Star Lit.
4 out of 5 stars

Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town.

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First place: Signed copies
of the Hot in Magnolia series books (prequel included) + $25 Amazon gift card
Second place: Signed copies of all four books in the series
Third place: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses

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HER EVERY MOVE by Kelly Irvin – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

HER EVERY MOVE
By Kelly Irvin
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 352 pages
Pub Date: February 9th, 2021
Categories: Christian / Romance / Suspense
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He’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name.

When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event.

Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces.

As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again.

Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher.

Bestseller Kelly Irvin is back with a nail-biting romantic suspense where nothing is certain until the very last page.

PRAISE FOR HER EVERY MOVE:

“A gripping story that will have you on the edge of your seat until ‘The End.’”—Patricia Bradley, author of The Logan Point Series, Memphis Cold Case Novels, Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers series 

“Explosive, tender, and races all the way through!”Jennifer Graeser Dornbush, author, screenwriter, and forensic specialist

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From its explosive opening scene to its dramatic climax, Kelly Irvin’s Her Every Move is one high-octane read. A ripped-from-the-headlines plot, a well-described familiar setting, a broad array of hot-button issues, and a large diverse cast made this book remarkably current and incredibly realistic.
Reading is a gift … Reading gives me joy, takes me places I’ve never been, and I learn things. What person wouldn’t want that gift?”
The San Antonio setting, my former residence and the last city I visited before the world shut down, first attracted me to this book. The heroine Jackie’s job as librarian and event planner further solidified my interest. But it was the fast-paced, action-packed, emotional storyline that kept me reading until the end.
The themes of familial love, lifelong friendships, social responsibility, faith amidst adversity, and complicated romance always appeal to me and they’re thoroughly explored in this book. Jackie’s strength while faced with unjust accusations of doing unspeakable crimes made her a sympathetic heroine. Avery’s steadfast performance of his duties despite developing conflicting personal feelings about the prime suspect Jackie and dealing with an unstable possible suspect in his best friend had me rooting for him.
My favorite character, however, is San Antonio itself. The culture, architecture, beauty, and history of this multiethnic city really came alive in the book.
We’re all guilty of believing we have plenty of time.”
For the most part, the book engaged my attention except in a couple of aspects. First is the excess of political issues raised. There’s climate change, domestic terrorism, racial profiling, gun control, budgetary constraints, etcetera. There could have been more focus on fewer causes for more impact.
Next is the weakness of the emotional ramifications after the reveal of the villain. There should have been long-term consequences for the people left behind and changes in policies, especially concerning public safety.
Lastly, the romance part needed more attention than it got. Jackie and Avery’s initial meeting was especially lacking in establishing their attraction. The ending was good but I wish there was more of the same sweetness in their journey to getting their happy-ever-after.
Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to review this book.
4 out of 5 stars
Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of 28 books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publishers Weekly called Closer Than She Knows “a briskly written thriller.”  The Library Journal said of her novel Tell Her No Lies, “a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the savviest romantic suspense readers guessing until the end.” The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

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ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE by John J. Jacobson – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE

BY JOHN J. JACOBSON
 
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
 
 

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All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone is the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.
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Utterly entertaining, All The Cowboys Ain’t Gone had me laughing out loud with the characters’ antics and catching my breath with the non-stop action from beginning to end. I can see this made into a movie in the same vein as Indiana Jones and The Mummy.
Having a twelve-year-old son, I found myself taking to Lincoln right away. The opening scenes with his mother admonishing him for his language and supervising his lessons really resonated with me. The great start hooked me into this book that’s in a genre I don’t normally read.
Mr. Jacobson certainly has a flair for storytelling that’s playful and engaging. While I thought the events that happen to Lincoln from Texas to New Hampshire, Florida to New York, France to Algeria, and finally to the fictional Mur highly improbable, I still found myself engrossed in his adventures and delighted with his narrow escapes. It’s a tall tale befitting its Texas origins and I had absolutely no problem with that.
I enjoyed meeting the new characters Lincoln encountered, especially Jake and Johnny, Amanda, the Three from Camarón Legionnaires named after Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, and Omar. I even enjoyed the villains even though they’re campy and absolutely ridiculous. It’s all part of the charm of the book.
Lincoln is easy to root for. At times naïve, he nevertheless has a core of honor and loyalty which makes him perfect for the French Foreign Legion. By the end of the book, he has absolutely learned the lesson his mother taught him when he was a boy:
… though things aren’t the way you’d prefer, there are still going to be plenty of adventures; they’re just going to be different. You’re just going to have to use your imagination to find them.”
Thanks to Lone Star Lit and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this absolute romp of a book to review.
4 Four-half-stars

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

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DREAMS REKINDLED by Amanda Cabot – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

BNR Dreams Rekindled

DREAMS REKINDLED

Mesquite Springs, Book 2

BY AMANDA CABOT

Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 2, 2021
Pages: 352

 

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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up. 

Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. 
 
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country. 
 
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. 

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Baker Books (Revell) | Amazon | BN | Christianbook.com

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ALFIE CARTER by BJ Mayo – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

BNR Alfie Carter

ALFIE CARTER

by

BJ Mayo

Published by Skyhorse Publishing
Pages: 288
Published: January 19th, 2021
Categories: Southern Fiction / Rural Fiction / Mystery
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Cover Alfie Carter med res

The seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned.

Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City’s customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.

Review_preview
20210223_231202946_iOSAlfie Carter is an affecting story of finding faith and of losing and rediscovering deeply-held beliefs. With its characters examining the state of their spiritual life, it’s a timely read for this holy season of Lent. It is also a tale of harrowing cruelty, extraordinary bravery, careless disregard for others, incredible kindness, and unbelievable acts of forgiveness..
Despite the singular name in the title, this book recounts the lives of two people in places thousands of miles apart–Jackaleena N’Denga in Angola and Alfie Carter in Texas.
Jackaleena’s remarkable story is tough to read in the beginning because of the gruesome massacre she witnessed and the extreme difficulties of her desperate run for survival. Things improved after she’s led to Benguela by the Sea where she learns a different way of living and is taught about another higher being to trust. This is also where she develops her search for her purpose in life.
Alfie’s situation is not as shocking but he has his own losses to contend with, particularly the death of his child. It lead him to distance himself from his wife and turn his back on the unfair God who wasn’t there for him at many points in his life. It was interesting that it was also death that caused him to reevaluate his thinking and return to his wife and to believe again.
Mr. Mayo’s writing shone in the Texas scenes, in Alfie’s musings, in his investigation of the case he was working on, and in the spirit and strength he imbued into Jackaleena’s character. His own faith leaped off the pages of the book through various characters like Margaret, Rufus, and Cotton.
God gives us all a chance to believe in Him and serve Him or not. He does not force you to go down that path … You can simply walk away. All of us are free to do what we want individually. There ain’t nobody a-draggin you to God … His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
The book has some flaws. Some scenes about Alfie’s early life could have been cut short or deleted altogether in favor of expanding the parts where he and his adopted daughter interacted. It was a curious choice to have Jackaleena’s story narrated in the third person and Alfie’s in the first when the book started and ended with Jackie telling her background to the judge. I preferred it in the reverse. Finally, the book requires suspension of disbelief in many instances in the story, especially with regard to the result of the case that Alfie was working on. That or, have extreme faith in the goodness of man.
Overall, it’s an involving story that has uplifting messages. Thanks to Lone Star Lit and Skyhorse Publishing for providing a free copy to review.
Three-half-stars

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author pic Mayo

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. He spent the first few years of his life living in a company field camp twenty-five miles from the closest town. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola West Africa. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years with two grown children. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.
Visit BJ Mayo at his website: https://bjmayo.com/

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