Book Review: The Ebony Cloak by April W. Gardner

About the Book

In the wilds of 1816 Florida, a beautiful slave is free game for depraved men. But for an honorable man, she is a military objective, an asset to be protected, a love that should never be pursued.

The Ebony Cloak by April W. GardnerMilly’s pale skin provides her with special privileges, but every luxury comes with a command. And Milly is done yielding. On the run, she can pass for white only as long as no one demands she lower her hood. But there’s hope. It lies in the Floridas in a refuge commanded by an army of runaways. Negro Fort. The first sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. But the U.S. Army is keen on the fort’s conquest, and when it accomplishes the unthinkable, Milly must decide whether life is worth fighting for.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters, all the while being forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh. The same who, in a storm of flame and blood, ripped out Phillip’s heart and took her for himself.

And then came Milly…

While musket balls fly, a war of another sort rages inside Phillip—perpetuate a crumbling dream or pursue the forbidden; follow orders or follow his heart.

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My Thoughts

Y’all!!!! Just go buy this series. Seriously. Love and war, prejudice and duty, people of all sizes, shapes, and colors… this story is a historical fiction lover’s dream!

Phillip Bailey is haunted day and night by his past horrors and heartache. Although I sometimes questioned his motives and character in previous books, the significant time spent in his perspective during this story won me over! I most admire Phillip’s integrity and courage.

Milly is a beautiful, strong, and intelligent woman. She has suffered terror and sorrow few can comprehend yet Milly remains compassionate and steadfast. Her backstory breaks my reader-heart but Milly’s endurance and attitude make me so proud of her.

While Totka, Copper Woman, and the rest of the McGirth family continue to play important roles in this saga, the addition of some exceptional secondary characters enhances this great adventure. The Ebony Cloak is a splendid expedition! This series has earned a place among my all time favorites!

I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED ON FAITHFULLY BOOKISH.

 

About the Author

April W. GardnerA military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her two children and USAF spouse. She is unashamedly a child of the King. In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

After a year gaining experience as a content editor with Clean Reads, April is now a freelance editor, certified through the University of California, San Diego. As a way to give back to the writing community and to promote Christian fiction, April founded and runs the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles.

Read more in April W. Gardner’s author interview

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Also Available


 
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book 1 review | book 2 review

REVIEW BY BETH ERIN

Book Spotlight: The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

Hello, reader friends! I first discovered today’s featured book through the Kindle Scout program when I had the pleasure of reading the first several pages of this intriguing story. The book is now available for preorder so be sure to reserve your copy!

 

About the Book

Japan, 1587. Sen must find a husband to marry into her family’s swordsmith business. She seeks a Christian husband, though Christianity is banned.

Enter Nobuhiro. Third son of a high-level samurai, Nobuhiro fled his harsh father and apprenticed himself to a swordsmith. He yearns to prove his worth.

They seem an ideal match. But for Sen, the choice is faith or family. For Nobuhiro, choosing a Christian ends any reconciliation with his family. Can love be forged from the impossible?

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About the Author

Walt MussellWalt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb with his wife and their two boys. He works for a well-known corporation and writes in his spare time.

Walt primarily writes historicals, with a particular focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.”

Outside of writing, his favorite activity is trying to keep up with his kids. As they are both teenagers, this is proving more difficult each day.

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Isn’t this a unique setting for Christian fiction?! I’m so excited!
Share your thoughts on this setting, story, culture, etc.

Spotlight post by Beth Erin

Book Review: To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

 About the Book

It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montauk tribe, is enjoying her wedding feast when her groom is killed and she is kidnapped by a rival tribe and held for ransom.

Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is nonetheless left to die in a Connecticut forest–until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

Torn between her affection for Dirk and her long friendship with family friend Benjamin Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice–stay true to her friend or follow her heart.

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My Thoughts

I had a very positive yet conflicted relationship with this book as I was reading it. The historical element was enthralling, excellent attention to detail brought the past to life. The characters were complex and authentic and that’s what left me so conflicted, I felt just as torn as Heather Flower!

Heather Flower is the niece of our good friend Winnie from book 1. She is both widowed and kidnapped on her wedding day, rescued then wooed by two white men. That’s enough to make her head spin but then both suitors are stand up guys!

Although Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren rescues Heather Flower after her abduction, he’s still a bit of the outsider/bad boy since the Montauk are allies of the English. Heather Flower shares a special bond with long-time friend Benjamin Horton but he is also nursing a broken heart.

The historical struggles between different native tribes, the English, and the Dutch serves as an exciting and intricate backdrop for this rich story of love, loss, brokenness, and healing. Here’s my review for book 1, A Place in His Heart.

I received the opportunity to read and review this book through the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own. This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Rebecca DeMarinoWhen Rebecca DeMarino traveled to Horton Point, Long Island, with her mother, Helen Jean Horton Worley, in 1999, passions collided: her love of faith, family, travel, history, and writing.

Rebecca’s series, The Southold Chronicles, is a historical romance based on Mary and Barnabas Horton, Rebecca’s ninth great-grandparents. Set in 1600’s Southold, Long Island, book three, To Follow Her Heart, released from Revell in July 2016.

Rebecca is the author of A Place in His Heart and To Capture Her Heart. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and when not writing, she enjoys family and genealogy, travel, reading, running, baking and gardening.

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The Southold Chronicles series

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Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of love triangles but it worked for this story.
What are your thoughts on these tangled romantic relationships in fiction?

Review by Beth Erin

Book Spotlight: Bitter Eyes No More by April W. Gardner

Hi, reader friends! Today’s featured book is straight from my tbr and I have to say, I am eager to find out what happens when yet another culture is thrown into the mix as the Creek County Saga continues.

 

About the Book

A man of abiding honor, tested by a woman of ruinous passion. A woman of unspeakable sins, pursued by a God of unquenchable mercy.

Bitter Eyes No More by April W. GardnerSpanish Florida once sheltered Lillian McGirth from her fears. Now, it feeds them. Mercy is for the deserving; for Lillian, an unwed mother accused of treason, there is only battering and defeat, but her fall breaks softly in the arms of an unexpected arrival, a man too beautiful of soul to stain with her lost character.

Captain Marcus Buck sails in on a pledge to save Miss McGirth from herself and from her child’s father, a ruthless don. All the while, he’s to regard her as virtuous and worthy of protection and to guard said virtue from pilfering. But the terms are flawed since he must first guard her from himself. Regardless, he is determined. He will free her, repair her name—simple labor compared to dodging the army’s noose, mending wounds three years deep, and navigating a host of rebel Natives bent on inflicting more.

Through the steady crumble of his pledge, their friendship becomes a consolation, for she knows his pain as no other can or will. Their scars are one; their paths, however, might irrevocably become two…

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About the Author

April W. GardnerA military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her two children and USAF spouse. She is unashamedly a child of the King. In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

After a year gaining experience as a content editor with Clean Reads, April is now a freelance editor, certified through the University of California, San Diego. As a way to give back to the writing community and to promote Christian fiction, April founded and runs the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles.

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Giveaway

Hop on over to goodreads for a chance to win one of five autographed paperback copies of Bitter Eyes No More.
Enter here… giveaway ends June 30!

 

Spotlight post by Beth Erin

Book Spotlight: Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley

Today’s book spotlight is a novella collection that kicks off a multi-author project rich with cultural diversity. Characters of Asian descent (former high school bullying victim), a family of Mexican descent * (they own and operate an authentic Mexican restaurant), and a large Greek family (they own and operate a deli featuring an artisan butcher) are all among the citizens of Arcadia Valley. Plus authors feature a wide variety of backgrounds including hometown natives & new residents, financial diversity, single parents, deaf characters, etc.

About the Book

Join us in the fictional town of Arcadia Valley, Idaho, where a foodie culture and romance grow hand-in-hand.

Six popular and bestselling authors of contemporary Christian romance have teamed up to create an entire world exploring food, friends, and family.

Romance Grows in Arcadia ValleyThis is not your usual collection of novellas! Each one is set in Arcadia Valley. Each kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This permanent collection is only the beginning of your adventure with us.

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley includes:
Spring’s Blessing (Seasons of Faith) by Mary Jane Hathaway
Life gets complicated for Charlotte MacGregor when a motherless child and a handsome widower encroach on her carefully laid plans. Will she keep her heart above the fray, or take a leap of faith?

Loaves and Wishes (A Baxter Family Bakery Romance) by Elizabeth Maddrey
Inheriting her friend’s Bed and Breakfast in Idaho is a second chance to succeed, but falling for the farmer next door wasn’t in the plan.

*Sheltered Hearts (Romance from the Heart) by Lee Tobin McClain
A curvy jilted bride gets stranded in a snowstorm with a handsome restaurant cook who’s not what he seems to be.

Sow in Love (A Garden Grown Romance) by Valerie Comer
A real estate consultant’s ideas for fulfilling a living trust are shot down by the elderly greenhouse owner’s grandson, but some of the arrows piercing her heart come directly from Cupid’s bow.

The Scent of Romance (Legacy of the Heart) by Danica Favorite
A high-powered lawyer must convince a woman determined to protect her family’s legacy to sell the family farm to his father’s development company, but finds his heart leading him away from everything he’s spent his life trying to accomplish.

A Romance Rekindled (A Homegrown Love Story) by Annalisa Daughety
When former engaged couple, Kate and Drew, find themselves thrown together after more than a decade apart, neither of them are thrilled about it. Can they let go of the past and consider a future together?

Get your copy of Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley today and join us at ArcadiaValleyRomance.com to keep up with all the latest.

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Arcadia Valley Romance series (so far)

 Summer's Glory by Mary Jane Hathaway 
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Although we focus on fiction featuring minorities here, what are some additional areas you’d like to see Christian fiction expand? 

 

Spotlight by Beth Erin

Book Review: Secrets of the Heart by Lee Tobin McClain

About the Book

Secrets of the Heart by Lee Tobin McClainJavier Quintana knows his family’s struggling restaurant, El Corazon, needs help. But when his interfering siblings hire Molly Abbott, a successful food entrepreneur and his high-school sweetheart, he’s livid.

The way their relationship ended wasn’t pretty. And although Molly never married, she’s the single mom of an eleven-year-old daughter conceived right about the time of the breakup.

Molly’s ideas about farm-to-table, health-conscious Mexican food conflict with Javier’s strong sense of tradition, even as her joyous faith convicts him about his own lapse from the church of his youth.

Can a reunion romance bring happiness to two lonely souls who never forgot each other… or will their relationship be derailed by the secrets they both carry in their hearts?

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My Thoughts

What a wonderful beauty from ashes sweet romance! Fresh food and sustainable living are seamlessly tied into the storyline along with weightier issues like faith, forgiveness, legacy, and abuse.

Javier is a quintessential Darcy hero… tall, dark, and broody, devastatingly handsome, occasionally quick to judge, fiercely protective of his family, and he has some pride in there too 😉

As the eldest sibling, Javier is used to running the show and calling the shots in the family business (it’s a first born thing, believe me). I can see his white knuckles clinging to the comfort and security of control and tradition (I might have been helping him just a little bit… it’s always prudent to be cautious when considering possible changes).

Molly is a survivor, a mama bear, and an innovative entrepreneur. She has no intentions of being taken care of (or taken advantage of) ever again. Readers will relate to Molly’s single-minded determination to give her daughter the best life possible.

Secrets of the Heart gave me warm fuzzies and a serious craving for Mexican! Even though my stomach doesn’t benefit, I’m looking forward to visiting El Corazon again soon (fact or fictional, the food still makes my mouth water)!

I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Lee Tobin McClainLee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. The PW bestselling author of fifteen contemporary Christian romances, she enjoys crafting emotional, faith-infused love stories with happy endings.

When she’s not writing, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

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Also Available

Arcadia Valley Romance

 Summer's Glory by Mary Jane Hathaway 
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Website

 

Sacred Bond Friends & Family


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Let’s talk authentic Mexican food! I have a lot to learn!
Anyone have a favorite restaurant, dish, or recipe to share? 

Review by Beth Erin

Book Review: Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

About the Book

It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding…and why.

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?

goodreads | amazon | christianbook

 

My Thoughts

I just really love Ruth Logan Herne novels! The first page grabbed my attention and the whole book was one wild ride. Colt Stafford and Angelina Morales each bear secrets and past hurts that cloud their better judgment. Colt is the returning prodigal and hesitant to be reunited with the family he essentially shut out of his life. Coming home seems to soften his heart while familiar places and faces unlock memories long suppressed. Colt grows by leaps and bounds into the man he was always meant to be.

Angelina is used to being in control yet her father’s death has shaken her confidence in her own plans and left her with a very unfamiliar feeling, vulnerability. She’s a strong woman, willing to turn her life upside down and go into hiding to protect her son and her mother. Angelina is a force to be reckoned with and none of the men on the Double S dare cross her, until Colt. She never meant for ranch life to be any more than an escape but there’s no denying the growing attraction and respect she has for him.

Back in the Saddle is a great start to what promises to be a must-read series. Readers get to know the Stafford family in this first installment and I am excited to read more about each one of the different brothers and the various ranch hands too!

I received an advanced reader copy of this title from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Ruth Logan HerneRuth Logan Herne loves Charlie Brown Christmas trees, rooting for the underdog and people who go the distance while others see the path as too long or broken!

She loves God, chocolate, writing, dogs and is blessed by a sprawling family, oodles of grandkids and a sweet old farmhouse in constant need of work. She’s sure that clean rooms are over-rated, snakes and possums should mind their own business and buy their own farm and puppies and kittens and babies are about the cutest things on Earth.

A “pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-and-move-on” kind of gal, she is blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart, work with young families who allow her to exploit their sweet children on blogs, and rock babies on a regular basis. An author for Love Inspired Books and Summerside Press, she lives in upstate New York.

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Double S Ranch series


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review by Beth Erin