Author Archives: Carol Moncado

Review: Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz

4b47eac0164a6191bf12975c344d10fcSheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas’s vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world–filled with family members she’s never met, dances she’s never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes’ shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

I loved the first two books in this series, so it’s no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this one :). I read it, as I do many books, in one afternoon. Tears filling my eyes on more than one occasion and my heart aching for Wren and Jamie.

The detail is fabulous. The characters compelling. The setting well defined – both the town and the countryside. The intricacies of society… stifling. Much as Wren found them, I would imagine. And intriguing.

Jamie and Wren fall for each other almost instantly, but she’s a Ballantyne. And Jamie… is not. And he’s wanted [not by the law!] and in danger. Wren feels obligated to do what she feels is best to protect not only her family, but Jamie as well.

Set a decade before the War Between the States, the fight over slavery is coming to a head and colors everything to one extent or another. Seeing the characters from the first two books was quite fun and I was glad to get an update on them.

About the only thing I didn’t like… I wish there had been a bit… more. Another fifty pages or so maybe. The end felt a bit rushed to me, but, as I’ve often said, I’m a “literary voyeur.” I always want more. That could well be the case here. I also would have liked to see more of Wren’s father. I get why we didn’t, but I would have liked it ;). I also wanted to see one character get a bit more of a comeupance, but I get that too. I also would have liked to know if Silas changed his mind about his heirs at any point…

I know that seems like a lot, but honestly, it was a fabulous conclusion to a wonderful series. The nit-picky I wishes are only because I cannot find the words to convey the incredible writing and the way-above-average story telling. I don’t know what Laura has up her sleeve for next time, but I can’t wait to see it!

[If only it could have Captain Jack… 😉 And if you don’t get that reference, check out The Frontiersman’s Daughter.]

Overall rating: 9.25 out of 10 stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Truett Cathy’s Impact: Beyond a Chicken Sandwich for This Gal

I posted on Facebook earlier about the passing of Truett Cathy. Several people asked what I meant when I said because of Truett Cathy I met Matt…


Blurry picture of me with Truett Cathy, March 1998

EronMarie (Burgess) Maddox helped me get a job at Chick-fil-A my junior year of high school [thanks to her sister Beverly (Burgess) Schmidt who was the first one to get a job there]. I wouldn’t even try it when one of the samplers asked me to a few weeks prior (not a “fried” chicken fan – but anyone can tell you, Chick-fil-A’s are pressure cooked ;)). To this day, I eat there every chance I get. But 21 years ago, I was the recipient of a Chick-fil-A scholarship which allowed me to come to Springfield to attend Evangel. One of the first people I met was this cute supervisor who was cleaning a lemonade machine at the local store where I was slated to start working a week or so later. A few weeks later, we went on our first date. Three and half years after that, we married. I scrolled through the trending topic today and saw a number of comments about how they met and married because of Chick-fil-A.

September 2009 Chick-fil-A, South Glenstone

September 2009
Chick-fil-A, South Glenstone

I met Truett more than once. The first time was when he was at College of the Ozarks to receive an award (that’s the photo I was looking for today). I also met him when I spent two weeks at Corporate for training (see blurry photo above). Our local mall store had closed very unexpectedly (Steve found out one day, told us in management the next, had a team meeting the day after, didn’t open for business March 1). Steve had owned the store right at a year. He had no means to take care of the employees, even for a short period. The decision quickly went to the top levels and immediately then-CEO Jimmy Collins and Truett said to make sure the employees were taken care of. We expected to open at a new location in a couple of months but it ended up being more than 6. EVERY employee was given at least two weeks severance pay, based on the amount of time worked for Chick-fil-A. Several were given eight weeks (based on time worked and managerial status). I was one of the eight weekers.

I spent two of those weeks at Corporate training in Atlanta. I spent about 10 weeks that summer running the Northwest Plaza store in St. Louis. Matt quit his job to join me in STL that summer. The corporate office continued to pay both of us until the new store here finally opened in October.

And he had rubber duckies in the bathtub in his corporate office bathroom. He didn’t take himself too seriously.

And he knew what was important.


Yes. I'm in the chicken costume. It is one of my favorite pictures ever of EronMarie. Danielle, me, EronMarie, Kim, Rachelle, Daniel

Yes. I’m in the chicken costume. It is one of my favorite pictures ever of EronMarie.
Danielle, me, EronMarie, Kim, Rachelle, Daniel

He was a genuine man. He created a culture where it’s not only acceptable but encouraged to reach out into the community. To stand on street corners when traffic is at a stand still nearby during a winter storm. To essentially close down when the funeral procession of a police officer goes by outside. To have someone outside walking people in with umbrellas during rain storms. To give food to customers who realize they’ve forgotten their wallets.

For fifty years, he taught 13yo boys Sunday school. Hundreds of kids have been taken care of through WinShape Homes. He was personally guardian for a number of them. When two girls did $30K of damage to one of his homes, rather than pressing charges and giving them a record that would follow them, he came to an agreement with their parents.

His passing didn’t surprise me, but it does sadden me. He grew up with nothing during the Depression. He took an idea as simple as a chicken sandwich and created an empire that has affected millions directly and indirectly. I’ve met Dan Cathy on a number of occasions as well. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family.

RIP Truett. It’s been our pleasure.

Review: So Fair a Lady by Amber Lynn Perry

51WTomQR4HL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Boston, MA 1773: Shards of Eliza Campbell’s life crash to the ground when she discovers a devastating secret: her father was a spy for the Sons of Liberty. Determined to uncover the truth, not even a marriage proposal from the dashing British Officer Samuel Martin can dissuade her. When rescued from British capture by handsome patriot Thomas Watson, Eliza discovers what her father risked his life for and yearns to know more. But will her budding attraction to this courageous patriot damage her already wounded heart? 

After years of being blackmailed by Officer Martin, Thomas plans to start a new life in the small town of Sandwich. However, when his actions place Eliza and her sister in danger, he must act quickly to protect them from falling into enemy hands. If the three of them are discovered, their lives will never be the same. Now, not only must he protect Eliza, he must protect his heart from a love that is sure to wound him far greater than any British soldier ever could.

There’s a love triangle. I won’t tell you which direction Eliza ends up going, but she picked the right guy.

Because the other one? Yeah. He could have been the inspiration for an episode of Criminal Minds. But as I read on I thought, “Nah. If this was modern, he could have a several episode arc.” And then, “Nope. This guy gets a full season ;).” And I really just wanted Penelope Garcia to hunt down the bad guy working her magic on the computers while Derek Morgan took him out (which, given both of their statuses as second class citizens at best, in the time period, would have been deliciously ironic).

I love this time period – the Revolutionary War. And I love that there’s more books coming. In fact, I think book 2 is on it’s way soon!

The characters are undeniably Christians, but they struggle with the same things everyone else does. Longing and desire. Betrayal and desire for revenge. The struggles are the same no matter the time period.

Rich in historical detail without being overwhelming, Ms. Perry weaves a story that draws you in and doesn’t let you go – even when you have to set it down to do things like… feed kids or the dog and, you know, sleep. [But I may have given up some of that last one… ;)]

Overall rating: 8.75 out of 10 stars

Thanks to Amber for a paper copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

download (1)Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi’s, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.

But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi’s chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.
Based on the biblical account of Ruth, In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel’s destiny and the future of the whole world.


Ms. Afshar is known for her novels set in Biblical times. From her debut Pearl in the Sand to the fabulous Harvest of Rubies and Harvest of Gold, she weaves tales that take you back millenia to the days long before even Roman gladiators. Pearl in the Sand is the story of Rahab and In the Field of Grace is the sequel – the story of Ruth. I’ve been wanting to read a Really. Good. adaptation of the story of Ruth for some time*, and Ms. Afshar doesn’t disappoint.

I loved how Naomi took the young Ruth under her wing. I hated how Ruth was treated at home and understood completely why she had no desire to return home after the death of her husband.

The historical detail is amazing but not anything like reading a textbook. The history and romance are well-balanced. Once I started, I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, I ordered a paper copy even before I finished the ecopy I was given for review.

From Moab to the threshing floor to the time of King David, it was a page turner, and a must read.

Overall rating: 9.25 out of 10 stars

*For a Texan twist on the story of Ruth, check out Regina Jennings fabulous debut Sixty Acres and a Bride.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.

2014 Pre-Conference Mixer

So the awesomesauce Laurie Tomlinson did this pre-conference mixer last year – and she’s doing it again this year! The idea is to get to know peeps before you get to St. Louis – especially if you don’t already know people :).  So here’s me!!! 😀

Name: Carol Moncado

Location: Springfield, MO area

What you write/tagline/trademark: Contemporary Romance / Romantic Dramedy in the Ozarks (and the Alps!) (At least two series are set partially in the Alps anyway… ;))

Place in the book world: Pre-published author represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. I’m current working on what will be my 13th or 14th complete manuscript (I’ve lost count and don’t wanna go check ;)). My goal is to have the first draft done before conference. I’m also working on edits etc. to several others.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Hugs galore! The best part of conference!

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Books, duh!

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, three daughters (12, 10, 9), son (7), and 5lb YorkiePoo who is a total mama’s boy and may or may not forgive me for the five days I’ll be gone.

Conference goals we can pray for? I’m not pitching this year. I *am* hostessing for two workshops and I’m gonna have to figure out what all that entails and then do a good job. I’m planning to soak up a bunch of knowledge this year – plus have a face-to-face with my agent (not the first time we’ve met but the first time since I signed with her) and a couple other meetings – all of which I’d like to go well :).

Anything we can celebrate with you? Nothing official at the moment, but you can sign up for my newsletter to be among the first to find out when the time comes ;).

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Yes! Check out my Facebook page, follow the InspyRomance blog, or hop over to Twitter :).

Review: Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

downloadA voyageur and a young woman swept up in a time of upheaval and danger
discover firsthand the high price of freedom.

The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders.

Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British–and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who’s grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.

As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they’ll risk for love.

Captured by Love is book three in the Michigan Brides series. To the best of my knowledge, there is no connection among the three books except that they all take place in Michigan.

As expected from Jody, the historical details are fabulous. Angelique is wonderful, though she’s engaged to the wrong brother. He’s a wonderful and everything, but she’s always been in love with Pierre, even before she knew it.

The two of them likely could have been happy together, had a good life, but during the war with the British, everyone is desperate. Settlers are starving. Soldiers are starving. Angelique’s stepfather is evil. It’s a perfect storm of desperation and fear.

By the time the war draws to a close, Angelique will have to decide what – and who – she wants. The question becomes – can she have it. And will they all survive?

In true Jody Hedlund fashion, the story draws you in and doesn’t let go until long after you turn the last page.

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Thanks to Jody and the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Review: Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Full Steam AheadNicole 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?

As always, I look ahead to the summer – hours by the pool, sleeping in, and new book by Karen Witemeyer.

As always, Karen weaves a story that is difficult to put down. The characters are multi-faceted and intriguing. The setting vivid. The historical details riveting.

Darius’s quirks and Nicole’s determination make the book difficult to put down. The bad guys are sufficiently bad without being TOO buffoony. I loved her family and the others who worked for Darius.

The only question… is it June yet? When’s the next one come out?

Or maybe I need to break out Short-Straw Bride again ;).

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Thanks to Karen and the publisher for a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Bouquet of LoveShe didn’t expect to fall in love–but roses aren’t the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand–directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John’s–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

So everyone knows I love Janice Thompson and her books!

This is the final book in the “Weddings by Design” series. First we had the photographer, then the cake designer, then the dress designer, and now the florist.

The relationship between Cassia’s Greek family and Bella’s Italian one is definitely fun! You might remember Cassia’s family from the second book in the Backstage Pass series, Hello, Hollywood. Cassia is cousin to Athena Pappas who was the head writer for the TV Show Stars Collide.

Cassia works in her family’s Greek sandwich shop but deep down, she wants to be a florist. Designing bouquets. She picks up a job at a florist down the street – only to discover that the shop belongs to a member of her father’s new archenemy’s family – the Rossis. To make matters worse, cute delivery boy Alex? Yeah – he has ties to the Rossi family as well – and not just because he delivers flowers.

With her trademark humor, Janice brings the characters and settings to life. With visits to Splendora and the Rossi house – along with appearances by Rosa and Laz – this is a not-to-be-missed summer read.

And if it’s not summer, it’s a great read anyway!

PLUS!!! Wedding by Bella book 4, That’s Amore, comes out in November. And book 1 of Janice’s new series – Brides with Style – Every Bride Needs a Groom comes out in April. You can see the new covers on Amazon :D.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Thanks to the publisher and Janice for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin


Perfect pool night! Seat in the shade, cool breeze, just enough people there for the kids to play with, and a good book!

[Okay – I hoped to have this blog up earlier this week but, well, real life interfered with me hanging out with fictional peeps :D. My kids are back at school and I’m done filling forms out in quadruplicate – at least for another year ;). So last night, I was finally able to pick up Sarah’s new book and made a good dent in it. Then tonight, this happened… and I was able to finish :). Review? Here we go!]

[I can’t get the picture of the book itself to load and link so – here’s the Amazon link…]

Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don’t want to go. Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?

Sarah Sundin seamlessly weaves together emotion, action, and sweet romance into a tale that transcends time and calls us to believe in the power of love.

I had such high hopes when, on page two, Sarah invoked the great Stan “the man” Musial and the St. Louis Cardinals. /big heavy sigh/It was all downhill from there. No more of my beloved Cards! 😀 But the rest of it made up for the lack of “birds on a bat.”

I read and enjoyed the first two books in this series and couldn’t wait to get this third one. Would Georgie and Hutch finally get to be together? Will he get his commission? What about Mellie and Tom? Would her father survive the war as a prisoner in the Philippines? And now… Kay and Roger.

Beautiful, flirtatious Kay. Always multiple boyfriends. Never serious with any of them.

Handsome, aloof Roger. Believes there’s two reasons for dating – having fun or getting married – and he’s interested in neither.

But God has other ideas.

Kay believes what she’d been told about God in her childhood. Roger is the one who helps her find the truth. Mellie and Georgie help, too, but it’s primarily Roger’s influence.

And the knowledge that he, too, wasn’t good enough.

Roger has a past he’s not proud of. And when Kay – and the reader – learns his tale, she realizes that if God can save Roger, surely He can redeem her as well. But Kay still struggles with her past. Not just what she’d been taught, but her lack of roots. She wants, more than anything, to be a chief nurse. To get a job at a hospital after the war and buy a house to live out her days in.

Roger has longed to be a drummer since high school – and his new boss could be the key to make it happen. His boss’s brother? Conductor of a big band out of Chicago. But deeper down, another longing begins to make itself known. Which will he choose when he has the chance after the war? Which one will lead him to Kay? Being a drummer means a life on the road and he can’t ask that of someone who never lived in one place very long. But is he really capable of following this other dream? And being a success?

When crisis strikes, can the two work together with the rest of those involved to keep everyone safe? Can the man who refuses to date and the woman who wants a family, roots overcome their personal drama to get through the tough times?

By the end of the book, there’s plenty of closure for all three couples. There was a bit more I wanted to know about Kay’s future, but overall, not nearly enough to irritate me. I would have liked a bit more of a glimpse into Roger’s head at the end, especially a few days later, but it’s still all good.

And with the end of the series*, there’s still a few loose ends – for me. What happens to a couple of the other unattached men and women? Can they ever find God – and happiness with a spouse?

But ultimately, what it comes down to in this book… is me. Struggling to hold back tears while sitting poolside.  An ache in my chest for Kay, Roger, and Kay and Roger as a potential couple. But then, Sarah gives a happy ending and it’s all worth it :).

Overall rating: 9 out of 10 stars

*I presume it’s the end of the series for a couple of reasons – I’ve not heard otherwise; most series are three books these days; the time period in which the book ends.
Thanks to the publisher for this book in exchange for my honest review.


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