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Book Review: Safe In His Arms by Colleen Coble

Sometimes it takes a stranger to see you as you really are.

Under Texas Stars, #2

Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.

So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment . . . or what her heart keeps telling her.

Those who read Blue Moon Promise will recognize Margaret as Nate’s next door neighbor – the girl everyone thought he’d marry, just because their ranches were next to each other, they could tolerate each other and it made sense. Love aside, of course.

Nate found love in Blue Moon Promise but Margaret is still looking.

As in the previous book, Coble does a fabulous job weaving the story. There’s enough intrigue to satisfy all but the most hard core lovers of suspense. There’s enough romance for pretty much everyone. It’s a foregone conclusion that Daniel and Margaret will end up together because it is, after all, a romance. But how they end up together will keep you guessing until Coble reveals it. I’m usually pretty good at guessing who the bad guy is or what the twist is, etc., but she kept me guessing.

There were many sighable moments. Near tears moments. Big smile moments. Giggle moments.

Blue Moon Promise was one of the best reads of 2012 [top 10] and I have no doubt Safe in His Arms will end up near the top of the list for 2013.

Though I read the ecopy provided by NetGalley, I’ve already picked up a hard copy to loan out.

Overall rating: 9.25 out of 10 stars

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

COTT: Shattered Silence

Today, we bring youShattered Silence
by Margaret Daley. Replete with murder and racial tension, at
its core this is a story exploring something everybody can relate with–bullying. And Margaret is here to tell us in her own words exactly why she wrote this.

Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley:

A serial killer is targeting illegal aliens in southern Texas. Texas Ranger Cody Jackson is paired with a local police officer, Liliana Rodriguez, to investigate the murders.

While the case brings Cody and Liliana ever closer, the tension between Americans and Mexican Americans heightens. As Cody and Liliana race to discover who is behind the murders and bring peace to the area, what they uncover isn’t what they expected. Will Cody and Liliana’s faith and love be strong enough to survive the storm of violence?


Why I Wrote Shattered Silence

By Margaret Daley

I taught middle and high school for twenty-seven years, and I consoled many kids over those years that were being bullied. It broke my heart. The students I taught were children with special needs. Other kids sometimes made fun of them or had them do things then laugh at them. I do not tolerate bullying then and now. That’s why I wrote Shattered Silence.

As an aside, I started a peer-tutoring program at the high school where I taught. Over the years I had a lot of popular kids take the class (top academic teens, cheerleaders, football players) and help out students who needed a peer tutor. One of those students went on to play pro football and another one became Miss Oklahoma. What was a wonderful benefit for my students with special needs was they developed friendships with their peer tutors. Those same peer tutors were the ones who stepped in and stopped other kids from making fun of my students.

I wanted to show different situations where a person was bullied (abused) by another. One storyline is centered around a high school student. The two other subplots concern the workplace and an abusive marriage. When someone is bullied, it leaves a lasting mark on that person. I’ve talked with many adults who can distinctively remember the circumstances around a bullying incident they were in the middle of.

It isn’t always the outcasts or overweight kid or geek that are bullied. I have a friend whose daughter is beautiful and smart and was a cheerleader for her high school. Her last semester of high school was done at home through online courses because there were girls at the school that bullied her and made her life miserable. She became physically ill.

For her and the thousands of people who are bullied all over the world I wrote Shattered Silence. I didn’t just present the situation of being bullied but offered a few suggestions for improving the situation.

Spread the word: Stop bullies. There are three groups involved in a bullying situation: the bully (or bullies), the person bullied and the spectators. The spectators are the ones in the triangle that can step in and change the situation. Speak up.


Margaret Daley, an award-winning author
of eighty-three books, has been married for over forty years and is a
firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s
writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her
three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about
Margaret visit her website at

Buy the book!


Barnes and Noble

*guest post by Michelle Massaro

Book Review: Isle of Shadows by Tracy L. Higley

Revised and updated from the original, Christy-award finalist Shadow of Colossus.

Enslaved in a World of Money and Power, Tessa Dares to be Free.

Raised as courtesan to wealthy and powerful men, Tessa of Delos serves at the whim of her current patron, the politician Glaucus. After ten years with him, Tessa has abandoned all desire for freedom or love, choosing instead to lock her heart away.

But when Glaucus meets a violent death in his own home, Tessa grasps at a fragile hope. Only she knows of his death. If she can keep it a secret long enough, she can escape.

Tessa throws herself on the mercy of the Greek god Helios, but finds instead unlikely allies in Nikos, a Greek slave, and Simeon, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant. As Simeon introduces her to a God unlike any she has ever known and Nikos begins to stir feelings she had thought long dead, Tessa fights to keep her heart protected.

As an assassination plot comes to light, Tessa must battle for her own freedom—and for those to whom she has begun to open her heart—as forces collide that shatter the island’s peace.

Ms. Higley immerses the reader in ancient Greece, complete with intrigue, murder plots and the saving power of the one true God.

The characters were well formed – flawed, real, heroic – while the plot was well-thought out. Twist and turns catch the reader off-guard [in a good way] and the ultimate climax to the plot is foregone in some ways but a surprise in other.

That said, I’m not quite sure why I wasn’t completely drawn into this world. I wanted to be. I should have been. It’s the kind of book I would normally be completely sucked into. But for some reason, I wasn’t. This is the first book of Ms. Higley’s that I have read. I’ll likely read another one, if offered for review, but I don’t know that I would search it out.

Overall Rating: 7.75 out of 10 stars

Thanks to BookSneeze for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Lily’s Plight by Sally Laity and Dianna Crawford

Journey to Pennsylvania backcountry during the French and Indian War. Indentured servant Lily Harwood has always thought of herself as a good Christian lass. . .until she is struck with a deeper, more profound plight than the war that rages around her. When her mistress’s husband returns home on a short furlough, Lily finds herself falling in love with him. As Lily is caught between passion and sorrow in harrowing times, can she find hope in the promises of God?

This was a bit of a departure for me. I’ve not read any books [that I can recall] set during the French and Indian War. It turns out this is the third book in the series and while I wish I had read the other two first, I didn’t know they existed and found they weren’t necessary to enjoying this one.

The history major in me was enthralled by the tales of war on the frontier. The romantic in me was enthralled by the developing relationship with Lily and the eventually-widowed owner of her indenture papers.

As a romance, the result was a given, but how were they to get there? He’s married to her dearest friend – plus he’s her boss, but even more than that given the time period and her indenture. Even before the imminent death of his wife, Lily struggles with her feelings for John. John remains ever faithful, but does notice that Lily is no longer the fourteen-year-old who had come to live with them. He’s not too crazy about her suitors but in a semi-relational role at first [much like an older brother] but later because of his own growing feelings.

Both of them are tested time and again as they learn to trust God in all aspects of their lives, including their love life.

My biggest… complaint is the ending. My inner literary voyeur ALWAYS wants a bit more and I think this book would have been a perfect time for a couple of chapters after the “I dos” or at least an epilogue [and since it’s book 3, it’s unlikely there’s going to be a book 4, especially since they’re out of sisters]. That knocks it down at least a quarter point.

Overall, I’d recommend this series [first two books unread by me], but that ending did disappoint me some. It seemed to be set up for a bit more and then didn’t deliver.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 stars

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

Book Review: Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams—a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood. But Ginny needs advice from the one person who will look out for her best interests—her former fiancé, Brett Miller. She travels to the remote town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the town’s colorful characters and stunning scenery provide respite from LA’s pressures.
In Glacier Bay, Ginny discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between Clay, an early missionary to Alaska Territory, and Ellie, the woman who traveled there to be his children’s governess. When Ginny is reunited with Brett in Glacier Bay, will she discover—as Ellie did—that healing and love are sometimes found in the most unexpected places?

This is my second book by Ms. Goyer and my first the three books co-written with Ms. Fleiss. By the Light of the Silvery Moon was my favorite book of 2012.

The authors do a fabulous job of putting us in Glacier Bay [I’m planning my vacation ;)]. The places, the people, all somewhere I can’t wait to visit!

This is a bit different from your typical romance. It’s two romances told side-by-side. Ginny and Brett in present day and Ellie and Clay through letters written by them – and others – decades earlier.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ellie and Clay’s story. I would have loved to see it as a fully fleshed out historical novel, but there’s enough here for me to sink my teeth into. I felt for Ellie as she struggled to acclimate to the Alaskan wilderness. For Clay as he fought against feelings for another woman after the death of his beloved wife. For Clay’s oldest son as he struggled with Ellie’s place in their lives.

I also enjoyed Ginny and Brett’s story. By my completely unscientific scanning of the book [meaning fanning through it to see what’s in italics [the letters] and what’s not [Ginny/Brett]], they took up more than half the book.

This is mostly Ginny’s story. Brett’s already done most of his growing up/finding God/whathaveyou, but he still has things to learn. But mostly Ginny – in her quest for stardom – has forgotten the truths found in the Bible and that God is always waiting for her, with open arms.

Goyer and Fleiss weave the two stories together in a way that you’re eager for both parts of the story to come to their climax. It’s a romance, so the outcome – for Ginny and Brett at least – is pretty much a given, but the story with Ellie and Clay – notsomuch. Plus there’s a surprise relationship between the past and present.

This was a quick, easy read – perfect for a week when the kids were on break. But the truths were deep and timeless.

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars*

In honor of this release – and the new year – I’m giving away my copy of Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, AlaskaTo enter, leave a comment below. For additional entries, “like” Tricia’s Facebook Page and Ocieanna’s Facebook Page. Be sure to let me know which pages you like/d and leave your email address [but like myname at gmail dot com to fool the bots], with a minimum of ten unique entrants.

Special thanks to Tricia and Ocieanna for including me in their launch team and to them and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my review.
*For those new to my site, I’m pretty stingy with my stars. Anything over an 8 is really good. To get a 9 or better, it’s gotta be among my all-time favorites. 8.5 is quite good :D.


THE NEXT BIG THING: Eight Questions About My WIP

So Jordyn Redwood over at Redwood’s Medical Edge asked if I wanted to do this.

So sure. Why not?! Except I have to pick which WIP…

We’ll go with the one in creation not revision ;).

I just wish it was going to be the NEXT BIG THING :D. This is what I’m told the title of the blog hop is so there we go!

1. What is the working title of your book? The Teacher’s Unwilling Groom

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? It’s the sequel to another one I wrote. I knew the best friend and the [sort of] jilted gal needed their own book together. Here we are.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Historical Category Romance [like Love Inspired Historical]

4. What’s the synopsis of your book? Um… I’ll have to come up with one… [This is totally random off the top of my head and probably not very good… ;)]

Myra Jefferson is unmarriable. Because of an innocent incident in her past, her fiance left her at the altar. She moved to start over but her past followed her. When two little girls are orphaned in her new town, she wants nothing more than to take care of them, but the judge threatens to take them away.

Jim Youngblood hadn’t planned to marry, but mail-order brides keep showing up planning to marry him. The first one married his best friend. The second one died not long after her arrival. Feeling an obligation to her little girls, he offers to marry Myra and take care of all three of them.

Will Myra and Jim be able to convince the judge they’re the best parents for the girls? Or will the Teacher’s Unwilling Groom tie himself down for nothing?

5. Will you book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m hoping to have an agent and submit this one to LIH.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Well, I’m only at about 4500 words, but I’m hoping to have the rough draft done by March 1, 2013.

7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Maybe something along the lines of Short Straw Bride [don’t I wish?!] or the second in Mary Connealy’s Kincaid brothers but I don’t remember the title right now. The one with Rafe that I read while I was on narcotics for my nose earlier last year. But they’re full length and this one is shorter.

8. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? It’s set in a real place in the Missouri Ozarks, nearish Springfield. Some of the secondary characters are based on real people from the area in the 1870s.

Book Review: Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn

The Glenbrooke Series

Jessica ran from her past…but can she hide from love?

Jessica Morgan wants desperately to forget the past and begin a new life. She chooses a small, peaceful town tucked away in Oregon’s Willamette Valley as the place to start over—Glenbrooke. Once there, Jessica conceals her identity from the intriguing personalities she meets—including the compassionate paramedic who desires to protect her and the jealous woman who wants nothing more than to destroy her. 

Will Jessica’s deceit ruin all hope for the future? Or will she find a deeper peace that allows her to stop hiding the truth from those who love her most of all? 

This heartwarming bestseller, book one in the Glenbrooke series, introduces the fascinating people of Glenbrooke in a compelling tale of romance and spiritual truth.

I’m a bit conflicted about this book. When I ordered it from Waterbrook-Multnomah’s Blogging For Books program, I didn’t realize it was a rerelease of a book first published in the mid-90s. I don’t know that I would have not chosen to review it, but I felt a bit… mislead or something. I’m not really sure.

Everything seemed a bit… off because I didn’t realize that. The car accident at the beginning? Where’s her cell phone? And so on.

Overall, the story was fine. I read it quickly, as I do with most books. It’s only if I’m not enjoying a book that it takes me forever to finish [well, usually anyway]. But, Jessica is presented as having this huge secret that threatens everything. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it turned out to be a huge let-down. If I could overlook that side of things, then I enjoyed the book – the romance, Kyle’s history, etc. – but it did bring down my rating a bit.

Originally, I looked forward to the next in the Glenbrooke Series being released, but now… /shrug/ I’m kind of ambivalent. If the opportunity to read one presents itself when I don’t have another book pressing on me to read, I likely will, but I don’t see me seeking it out. That said, it’s highly unlikely it will be my last book by Gunn – I’ll just stick with more current fare.

The Biblical truths hold up no matter the decade and I can see why Gunn has had a long career in Christian fiction.

Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy New Year!

Because that’s such an original title for a blog post today ;).

I do want to do a bit of a recap on last year’s goals, but to be honest, I don’t feel like looking for the blog post ;).

So off the top of my head – here’s my writing world in the last year:

1. Finished 4 manuscripts. 1 was nearly done already. 3 were start to finish [though I’m still working on the final drafts of all three].

2. Attended ACFW again. Loved it. Met people. Got requests. Got rejections [but good ones from those requests ;)].

3. Full manuscript requested from an agent and an editor. That’s all still in the works. We’ll see what comes of it.

4. Category coordinator for ACFW’s First Impressions.

5. “Went public” with my Facebook page. A lot of my non-writer friends knew I write, but they didn’t know about my “fan” page. With 30 needed to reach my goal of 300 by the end of the year, I posted about it last Thursday night. In about two hours, I’d surpassed the mark. I’m currently at 329.

Moral: My friends ROCK!

Other Moral: If you’ve not already “liked” it, there’s a link on the right of this page. Or here: Carol Moncado Books

6. Be a guest blogger on Seekerville. ‘Nough said.

7. Find critters. Not the creepy crawly or furry outside kind, but critique partners. I’m part of one crit group that includes three dear friends and am partnering with another dear friend. They’re all still in the beginning stages and it’s possible we may decide it’s just not going to work, but so far it’s going well :).

8. Read. A lot. I’ve done this. You can tell by all the reviews ;). There’s more coming the rest of this week and on New Year’s Day? It’s laundry and reading day :D.

9. Did well in contests. I finaled in three contests. Semi-finaled in Genesis [which is almost like finaling in most other contests – top 20 out of 86 or so – most contests don’t have nearly that many]. Won one of those contests. And finaled in Seekerville’s “Read Me”.

10. Made new writerly friends. God has brought some of the most amazing people into my life through the writing world. Seriously. Some of them I knew before last year started. Some I didn’t. But I know some really awesome people.

More later this week or early next about my plans/goals/etc for 2013…

But I did come up with my word for the year [okay – I stole it from Tricia Goyer]:


Book Review: The Shadowed Onyx by Nicole O’Dell

At age seventeen, Joy Christianson is the life of the party. That is, until her best friend commits suicide. Joy’s already wavering faith slips completely out of her reach. Afraid of letting the depression and evil take root, she decides to seek help in the haven of Diamond Estates—and try to reclaim the Joy she once knew.




This is my third book by Nicole O’Dell. All are part of the Diamond Estates series – and I hope this isn’t the last of them.

All three deal with issues teenagers today face and how God’s grace and love can overcome all of it.

This book left me feeling more than a bit uncomfortable, which is probably a good thing. It deals with what happens when teens [or adults] dabble in the occult, even if they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing.

Joy’s best friend commits suicide and Joy feels at least partly responsible. Sure, they had problems [including a big blow up earlier that day], but nothing they couldn’t have worked through. Eventually.

Instead, her friend left.

Joy’s left struggling with depression, questions, failing faith, and no one she feels she can turn to for answers.

Filling the void is a friend who’s done more than dabble in the occult and Joy believes she’s finding the answers she seeks. The further and further in she gets, the more she believes she’s dealing with truth. All lies – the best lies – have an element of truth to them after all.

After a life threatening incident with Joy’s cousin – a girl about her age but with Down’s Syndrome and a keen eye for all things spiritual – Joy puts her cousin and her cousin’s needs and safety above the demonic forces surrounding her, putting her in danger but protecting her cousin at all costs. Afterward, Joy’s forced to make a decision and she moves to Diamond Estates to try to sort out her life and break free of the chains that bind her.

Once there, things both improve and slide into free fall, leaving Joy to wonder which is the more powerful force – good or evil.

With Shadowed Onyx, O’Dell gives something I wish more single title YA’s did, and that was give a glimpse of the “happily ever after” waiting for the girls at the end. I know it’s not always realistic and I completely understand why it’s often not there, but I was very glad to see it in this one.

I don’t know if this is the last in the Diamond Estates series or not, but I sure hope it isn’t.

Overall rating: 8.25 out of 10 stars

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Flight of the Earls by Michael K. Reynolds

It’s 1846 in Ireland. When her family’s small farm is struck by famine, Clare Hanley and her younger brother, Seamus, set out across the ocean to the Promised Land of America.

Five years prior, Clare’s older sister Margaret and her Uncle Tomas emigrated in similar fashion and were not to be heard from again. But Clare must face her fears as she lands in the coming-of-age city of New York. There she discovers love, adventure, tragedy, and a terrible secret which threatens to destroy her family and all she believes.

Flight of the Earls is the first book in a historical novel trilogy based on Irish immigration in the 1840s.

I had the privilege of meeting Michael at the ACFW conference earlier this year and of “watching” him work in the #1K1HR group on Facebook. He’s a super nice guy and I jumped at the chance to read his debut novel.

The book is told, mostly, from Clare’s point-of-view. There’s a few others in there, but we see virtually everything through her eyes.

Life is hard in Ireland with the potato crops failing regularly and all. Clare, her brother and a friend are all sent to America to make their way and send their wages back to Ireland to help the rest of the family.

The passage is difficult, more so than most, I’d imagine, but they make it. Once there, their lives take a series of unexpected twists and turns. We’re never told quite everything that happens to Seamus and their friend, Pierce.

As an avid reader, I thoroughly enjoyed Flight. As an avid reader of mostly romance, I wished for a bit more of that side of the story, and, was conflicted at first over the ultimate romantic partner for Clare. There were several possibilities throughout the book. The romantic – and romance author – in me wanted one choice, but for many reasons the one she ultimately ends up with is the best choice.

This is book 1 in the series. I’m not sure who books 2 and 3 follow, but I know who I hope it is. Seamus perhaps? The non-final love interest? Both of those, and a couple of others, would be good.

Nevertheless, Michael kept me “turning pages” way into the wee hours of Boxing Day [aka: the day after Christmas], way past my bedtime. Twists and turns abound and the ending is, ultimately, quite satisfying. Real life intrudes at times – the realities of the potato famine, corrupt officials, etc. are harsh and, mostly, unforgiving. As much as I wish everything would turn up roses, it doesn’t in real life, and it doesn’t in Flight. But enough does to keep the reader smiling by the end.

I did come to tears a couple of times – the first being a few chapters in with the hair incident. As someone who cried over more than one haircut, I can relate to Clare’s feelings and I do wish Michael would have come back to it a bit more at the end.

I’m keeping on eye on NetGalley for the next one already :). And on Michael’s Facebook page for updates.

And for Michael at conference next year. Because he had chocolate.

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

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