Book Review: “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Friday! I hope you’re finding some place cool to read in this summer heat! Is it Fall yet???

Today, I’m excited to bring you a review of “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes. It’s one of the novellas in The Underground Railroad Brides Collection from Barbour.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Underground Railroad Brides collectionLove Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

Free to Love by Terri J. Haynes

East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

BUY THIS BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Barbour

MY THOUGHTS

“Love had never been as valuable as strength and freedom. Until now.”

I absolutely loved this story!

Despite being limited to a short novella-length word count, the author has packed the riveting plot with heart-in-your-throat moments of life or death… and a sweet romance that lightens the emotion a bit when needed. Layered and well-defined characters will quickly settle in your heart, and you’ll be rooting for them every step of the way.

Additionally, the author’s writing style is very engaging as well as entertaining. Every page makes you eager to read the next one & I would love to see a follow-up novel with these characters – specifically related to the escaped slaves’ stories Winnie has recorded in her notebook.

Winnie’s revelation about her owners will also linger with me for a while – how many similar things in modern times have we passed off as well-meaning or kind when in fact it’s sin? And once we realize that, what are we willing to do about it?

A sobering but simultaneously encouraging story of the power of love and the pull of freedom – and the people who risked their lives to give others the chance at both. Perfect for your weekend reading list. I’m off to catch up on the author’s backlist 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terri J. HaynesTerri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

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Book Spotlight: “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the story “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes.


About the Book (story collection), The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War

Love Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

About Terri’s story “Free to Love” in the story collection:  East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books 


About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Interview with Terri J. Haynes, author of “Free to Love” (story)

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Terri J. Haynes about her story “Free to Love.”

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Terri J. Haynes about her story, “Free to Love” in the Underground Railroad Brides story collection:

Alexis: Why did you agree to write this story “Free to Love” for Barbour Books as part of their collection of stories titled, “The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War?”

Terri: This story was originally a part of a proposal but in a different time periods. That proposal was modified so that all the storied happened before the Civil War. Even though it wasn’t our original proposal, all the ladies in the collection had worked so hard on our stories.

Alexis: What is your story “Free to Love” about?

Terri: It is the story of Hiram and Winnie, two slaves in Maryland. Hiram has run from the south and Winnie’s church is a part of the Underground Railroad. Hiram ends up wounded near Winnie’s church and she helps nurse him back to health. But there is a storm brewing around them and it threatens their freedom and their lives.

Alexis: Who are the main characters in your story? Briefly describe the hero and heroine’s looks, personality, hopes, fears and outlook on life.

Terri: Winnie is a slave but she and her parents assist with the Underground Railroad. Winnie is strong, loyal and caring, but fears being on the run. Hiram has run from the south and his brave but gentle. He fears he will be captured before he can reach freedom.

Alexis: What is it about the hero that the heroine loves? Explain.

Terri: Winnie loves that Hiram is so gentle despite his size. She also loves that he enjoys growing things. She also loves his courage to run from his slave masters to freedom.

Alexis: What is the hero’s greatest skill and his most troublesome weakness?

Terri: Hiram’s greatest skill is his ability to make people feel at ease. His most troublesome weakness is that he is afraid of being caught and sent back to the south.

Alexis: What is it about the heroine that makes the hero want to protect her?

Terri: Winnie is one of the most caring, hardworking woman Hiram has ever met. She also is sacrificing for the people she loves. Winnie is also working toward her freedom, just in a very different way than Hiram and Hiram wants her freedom as much as he wants his own.

Alexis: How are your hero and heroine involved in the Underground Railroad?

Terri: Hiram is a runaway slave and Winnie is a conductress.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story? Why?

Terri: That love can bloom in the darkest of places. I feel that many stories about the Underground Railroad focus on the pain, tragedy and abuse, but not taking into account that there were families, couples and children who loved each other. In my research for this novella, I found instances of runaway slaves risking a return to their slaveholders to free their families. Working so they could purchase the freedom of their spouses and children. Slaves were not an unfeeling mass. They had families, dreams and love.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories like these that feature main characters of color, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Terri: I would. I would love to see more stories because I am a person of color. There is power in representation. Of course, I can connect with stories featuring other races, but I would love to read about my own. We have stories to tell that will further the Kingdom.

Alexis: What would you say is the greatest challenge in being an author of color writing stories about characters of color to be published by CBA?

Terri: The greatest challenge is that CBA, at the moment, publishes very few authors of color. It is heartbreaking to see it. It feels like there isn’t a place for me, even though I am a Christian and a consumer of Christian fiction. It’s hard to see a whole segment of literature devoid of people who look and write like me.

Alexis: Would you say that it’s easier for authors of color who write books about characters of color to become indie authors to get their stories out there? Why or why not?

Terri: This question has a hard answer. Yes, I think it is easier for authors of color to become indie authors. In the indie world, there is no “gatekeeper.” Authors of color are free to tell the stories they want how they want. Unfortunately, this has a downside. There is a lot of work in indie publishing, espically if you plan to succeed. You basically become a publishing house. I am thankful that we can indie publish, but I would like it to be one of my options, not my only option.

Alexis: What advice would you give the Marketing and Sales Department of traditional Christian publishing houses to help them reach readers of color and effectively sell books by authors of color whose stories feature characters of color?

Terri: Now I have to put on another hat I’ve worn in the past: bookseller. I used to work for a major bookstore so I understand that world. The truth is simple. All publishing houses need to do is publishing authors of color.

There were many days where people from all races came into the bookstore where I was working and ask specifically for books by authors of color. Christian authors of color. The demand is there. The problem is the books aren’t. Put the books out there and they will sell.

When we start taking about how to reach readers of color, there is the suggestion that readers of color are somewhere buried way under a rock and never set foot into a bookstore or library. Like there is some different process on how to reach us than readers of other races. I have been told several times that publishers don’t know how to market to readers of color and this statement makes it seem like readers of color are foreign and “other.”

There isn’t a different way. Christian readers of color find new reads the same way everyone else does. We browse bookstores. We get book recommendations from our friends. We read book reviews. Readers of color have been purchasing CBA books for years. If we found those books, have a little faith that we’ll find books featuring characters of color. Have more than a little faith, because we want to see ourselves in books and on covers.

Alexis: If you were not an author, what would you be?

Terri: Unhappy. I love to write and can’t imagine my life without it.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Terri! Do you have closing comments?

Terri: Thank you for interviewing me. I hope that this interview will broaden the conversation about authors of color in Christian fiction.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book (story collection), The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War

Love Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

About Terri’s story “Free to Love” in the story collection:  East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books 


About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Interview with Piper Huguley about her book “A Most Precious Pearl”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re interviewing Piper Huguley about her book, A Most Precious Pearl.

Enjoy!


Interview with Piper Huguley about A Most Precious Pearl:

Alexis: I love the opening line to the summary of your book, A Most Precious Pearl. You wrote, “They’re cut from different cloths…but their hearts are a perfect fit.” What inspired you to write this line and in what ways are your story’s hero and heroine the “perfect fit?”

Piper: I didn’t write that line. The publisher for the book wrote that. I think that whomever wrote that line thought about how Asa and Mags work in a textile mill and used their workplace to explain their relationship. It’s clever, but I cannot take credit for it.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Asa Caldwell. Answer my questions below. Answer in italics.

What does he look like?

Asa looks like the actor Sterling K. Brown from “This is Us.”

What is his racial background?

He is a Black man.

What lights a fire in his soul?

Telling a story that brings injustice to light.

What or who makes him happy?

Besides Mags, exposing injustice.

Is he a man of faith?

Not at the beginning of the story. He has to come to that.

What is his greatest flaw?

He’s a bit spoiled having been fawned over by his many sisters and his mother. Mags puts an end to all of that.

Alexis: Why did you make Asa a journalist and what role does his life’s work and passion for the Journalism industry play in this story?

Piper: I based Asa on the founder of the Pittsburgh Courier, Robert L. Vann. I wanted to write a story where I showed the critical role that Black journalists played in the civil rights struggle that began in the first quarter of the twentieth century, not in the 1950’s as so many think.

Alexis: Asa lost his left leg in the Great War. How does he cope with his loss?

Piper: The book deals with an arc about how Asa has to come to this new reality about his legs. So when the reader first meets him, he’s not doing very well with it.

Alexis: In what was does having this new disability affect his daily living?

Piper: Asa’s biggest fear is about what he feels is his inadequacy to be a man who can protect his family. He has to deal with what that protection means and how that impacts his life before he can make a family with Mags.

Alexis: What is Asa’s relation to Ruby Blesdoe from your first book in this series, A Virtuous Ruby? Why is he on a mission to rescue her sister Mags from trouble?

Piper: Before he went to war, he had a bit of a crush on Ruby. She uses that information to get him to go rescue her sister. He no longer has a crush on her when she comes to see him, but still feels compelled to go. He has all of those sisters and he is used to saving women in a heroic fashion—it turns out that Mags is the one who saves him.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Mags Bledsoe. Answer my questions below. Answer in italics.

What does she look like?

Mags resembles a young Viola Davis.

What’s her racial background?

She is a Black woman.

What are her most favorite things?

Family, home, and hearth. She loves the domestic arts.

What upsets her?

People who upset the domestic happiness of her home.

What or who makes her happy?

She loves her sisters and parents and after a time, comes to love Asa.

Is she a woman of faith?

She is a woman of faith. She has to be in order to endure the trials that she has endured.

How did the lynching of her childhood sweetheart affect Mags?

It made her believe that she would never find love again.

How is she healing from that trauma?

She heals once she comes to realize what Travis was to her.

Or has she not healed?

Ultimately, she does.

Alexis: What do Mags and Asa like and dislike about each other upon first meeting?

Piper: Mags has a certain way of doing things that she does not like to be disrupted and Asa is pure disruption in many ways. Asa is amused at first, but then wants Mags to give him (and his ways) a chance.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story and how does that help Mags and Asa’s journey through their fictional world?

Piper: Mags becomes a shining light for Asa to rediscover his faith and love comes about as a consequence of that. He does the same for her, in the wake of the lynching of her childhood sweetheart.

Alexis: You’ve addressed some topics like lynchings that are heart wrenching for real-life African Americans who live in the United States of America. What inspired you to include this dark part of American history in your story?

Piper: My work is not about covering up these so-called “dark” parts of history, but to shine a light on the heroic deeds of the ancestors to show what they had to endure so that we could be here.

Alexis: What impact do you hope that this true to American history story, A Most Precious Pearl, will make on your readers? Why?

Piper: I hope people come to understand that the ancestors were not victims of hatred, but were survivors who endured a great deal of painful trauma but kept hope present because they dared to have us and to try to make a better future for us. It’s important to honor their sacrifices by making some of our own. We tend to forget that in the relative comfort of the twenty-first century where a tragedy means not having enough charge on our phones.

Alexis: What was the most challenging – and the easiest part – of writing this story? Explain.

Piper: When this story was published the first time around, there was a great deal of disbelief in the history that I told. I believe that my stories reflect the old African saying of “Tales of hunting glorify the hunter.” We have been taught the hunter’s story in school to the point where we believe that is the complete story. I’m telling the story from the lion’s perspective. That was the challenge. The easiest part was in having Mags and Asa fall in love. They were a lot of fun to write.

Alexis: If you could spend a day at a picturesque location in the South with Mags, sipping on sweet tea where would that location be and what would your conversation be about?

Piper: Such a conversation would take place in her kitchen where she would tell me the secret of her biscuits. I struggle with them.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Piper! Do you have closing comments?

Piper: Only when we embrace multiple historical perspectives will we come closer to the truth of how we have gotten to this present. Thank you so much for having me!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.


About the Book:

They’re cut from different cloths…but their hearts are a perfect fit.

Asa Caldwell returned from the Great War with nothing to show for it-as in nothing below his left knee. Forget about the journalism career he loved. His story is over. Done. Yet he finds the strength to journey to Winslow, Georgia, to get Ruby Bledsoe Morson’s sister out of trouble.

Before he can bring Mags Bledsoe home, though, a spate of mysterious attacks reawakens his investigative instincts. During the war, Mags did her duty to God and country by stepping into a management role at the textile mill.

Now she’s been shuffled back to the rank and file-and Asa has her hard-earned job. Not only is the infernal man doing everything wrong, her plan for revenge against the mill owner who lynched her childhood sweetheart is farther out of reach than ever.

As they clash over almost everything, Mags begins to set fire to Asa’s soul, bright enough to dim the memory of the killing fields of France. Enough to give him a new mission in life-to make her feel the same way.

Buy Piper’s book on Amazon.


About the Author:

Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20thcentury featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1)

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the first book in a series by Vanessa Riley.

The book that Vanessa wrote is titled, Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1). 

Enjoy!


About the Book:

Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Barrington Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her Egyptian mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Barrington’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Barrington’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?

This is the first Regency Romance of four.

A Note from the Author:

Dear Lovely Reader,

Unveiling Love is a serialized historical romance or soap opera told in episodes. Each episode averages three to eight chapters, about 18,000 to 30,000 words. Each episode resolves one issue. Emotional cliffhangers may be offered, but the plot, the action of the episode, will be complete in resolving this issue.

My promise to you is that the action will be compelling, the romance passionate, and the journey like nothing you’ve read before. I will tell you in the forward the length. This episode, Episode I, is eight chapters long, 28,000 words. Enjoy this Regency Romance.

Vanessa Riley

Buy Unveiling Love: A Regency Romance on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color.

I write for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs, maybe a few cries, to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Connect with Vanessa: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Book Spotlight: The Butterfly Bride

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Vanessa Riley’s book, “The Butterfly Bride.”

Enjoy!


About the Book:

Frederica Burghley wants to be married by Yuletide. Or else her father will set her up with one of his friends. The bonbon-loving illegitimate daughter of the duke wants to choose her own husband.

Advertising in the newspaper seems like the way to go. But a sinister response, with threats against her life, leads her to enlist the help of her very handsome, dear friend Jasper Fitzwilliam, Lord Hartwell.

A father and widower, Jasper is not only tasked with keeping Frederica safe but also with helping his vibrant friend choose a suitable husband. The more he tries to keep the ever-surprising woman alive and find her a good match, the more Jasper realizes he cares for her.

The two friends risk their lives for each other, so they should be able to risk their feelings for a chance at a deep and true love together. But he’s not looking for marriage and she’s not looking for convenience.

Buy The Butterfly Bride on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-A-Million


About the Author:

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color.

I write for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs, maybe a few cries, to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Connect with Vanessa: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Book Spotlight: Freedom’s Kiss

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Freedom’s Kiss by Sarah Monzon.


About the Book:

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to set them free?

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie.

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart.

Florida, 1816
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

Buy Freedom’s Kiss on Amazon


About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Interview with Sarah Monzon, author of “Freedom’s Kiss”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, you’re in for a special treat! We’re talking to celebrated indie author Sarah Monzon about her book Freedom’s Kiss and she has a surprise for you but you’ll have to read to the end of her interview to discover it.

Enjoy!


Interview with Sarah Monzon about her book, Freedom’s Kiss:

Alexis: Why did you write this book and call it “Freedom’s Kiss?”

Sarah: The first title I had for it was “A Warrior’s Heart” because it seemed the characters would be facing a lot of personal battles—like a warrior. But as I kept writing it seemed the message was more about freedom, in many different forms, and so the title Freedom’s Kiss came about.

Alexis: What happened in your hero’s life that made him a prisoner of the past?

Sarah: For my story’s hero, Adam Carrington, it was his involvement as a criminal defense attorney in a specific case that haunted him. He may have been doing his job, but he couldn’t get over his part in the outcome and held himself in his own type of prison after that.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Olivia Arroyo. What is her ethnic heritage? Describe her looks, personality, and heart.

Sarah: Olivia Arroyo decided to do a DNA ancestry test in order to track her family tree as a Christmas present for her mother who was very interested in such things. Olivia thought she knew exactly what the results would be. Some Mayan and Spanish heritage from her father’s side who is Guatemalan, and Scandinavian ancestry on her mother’s side according to the many stories she’d heard at family reunions. When the test results came in though…well, let’s just say Olivia was surprised at the outcome.

Alexis: Why does Olivia dream of becoming a chef? Describe her favorite dish to fix.

Sarah: Simply put, it’s her passion. Coming up with recipes and sharing those with others is what she longs to do. She doesn’t have a favorite dish, but she does like to switch to baking when she has a lot on her mind that she needs to work through.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Adam Carrington. What is his ethnic heritage? Describe his looks, strengths, and weaknesses.

Sarah: Adam is White and I imagine of European descent, although he has never taken an ancestry test. He has dark hair, has let some scruff grow along his jaw, and is patient and kind-hearted.

Alexis: Describe the meet-cute for Olivia and Adam. What was their first impression of each other?

Sarah: Adam had left his job as an attorney and opened a food truck. One that became immediately popular and for which he wasn’t quite prepared. Olivia forced her way into the truck and saved him from having to shut down and lose business. Adam’s first impression of her was that she reminded him of a hurricane.

Alexis: Why did you make this novel a time slip? Please explain what a time slip novel means to our readers who may not know.

Sarah: A time-slip novel is one that has more than one timeline. This book is the third in a time-slip series I am writing.

Alexis: Briefly describe your two main characters from the 1816 time slip in your story. Who are they? What’s their ethnic heritage? What’s the conflict that they are experiencing?

Sarah: Winnie is a runaway slave and Nokosi is a Seminole warrior. It’s an interesting piece of history that many aren’t aware of, but many of the slaves in the deep South didn’t seek freedom in the North, but by going even further South to Spanish-held Florida or even to Mexico. Many found refuge with Seminole tribes and became known as Black Seminole.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Freedom’s Kiss?

Sarah: If I could sum in up in one line, it is that Jesus is a chain breaker.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories written by White authors about characters of color and published by the Christian fiction book market? Why or why not?

Sarah: I would, although I would also love to see authors with diverse backgrounds writing #ownvoices stories. Who better to tell a story than those who have lived and experienced those things? This goes beyond culture, though, and encompasses other things that would be unique to each author.

Alexis: Some White authors are hesitant to write about people of color because they’re scared of getting something wrong or stereotyping. What advice from your own experience in writing and publishing diverse stories, would you give the White authors who feel this way?

Sarah: It’s funny because I recently did an ancestry DNA test myself and the results came back that I am pretty much as White as you can get! My ancestors came to America from England and Holland. And I’m sure some people are wondering how I can write diverse characters when I don’t share any of their heritage stories. And it is a nervous undertaking. I often question who am I to give voice to a culture that I have no personal experience with? The only answer I have is that I was called to do so. I pray over every story and whole-heartedly believe that every story I have written or will write has been given to me from God. I have to be very careful about cultural appropriation. There is a lot of prayer, a lot of research, and help from readers and writers who have a more diverse history than I do.

Alexis: If you could step into your story and spend a day with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do?

Sarah: Olivia because she could cook for me and we’d eat amazing food.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Sarah! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Sarah: Freedom’s Kiss will be free from March 6-10. It has also just recently been announced as a finalist for this year’s Selah Award.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


About the Book:

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to set them free?

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie.

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart.

Florida, 1816
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

Buy Freedom’s Kiss on Amazon

Book Spotlight: Know You More

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Know You More by Jan Thompson.


About the Book:

He loves her… He loves her not…
She’s waiting for him to decide.

A young pastor of a growing church in a thriving community, Diego Flores has to come to grips with God’s will for his church and his personal life.

From USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson come 10 clean and wholesome, sweet and inspirational contemporary Christian romances set on the beaches of Tybee Island and in the city of Savannah, Georgia, two of the most romantic coastal towns in the world.

Welcome to Savannah, Georgia, in the multicultural new south! Meet a group of multiracial and multiethnic churchgoing Christians who love the Lord, work hard in their careers, and seek God’s will for their love lives. Against a backdrop of ocean, sand, and sun, these inspirational romances showcase aspects of the human need for God and for one another.

These sweet and wholesome Christian beach romances begin with KNOW YOU MORE, the story of Diego Flores and Heidi Wei living in the city of Savannah and on the sunny beaches of Tybee Island.

*Buy Jan’s book on Amazon, Google Play, Kobo/Walmart, Apple Books or Barnes & Noble.


Author Bio:

USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson writes clean and wholesome multiethnic contemporary Christian romance with elements of women’s fiction, Christian romantic suspense with an air of mystery, and inspirational international thrillers with threads of sweet Christian romance.

Jan’s books are for readers who love inspiring stories of faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ.

Follow Jan on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Interview with Kathy Douglass about her book, “How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re interviewing Kathy Douglass again. This time, we’re talking about another one of her books. This one is titled, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart.

Enjoy!


Interview with Kathy Douglass about her book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Kathy: I wrote this book because the characters called to me. The idea began floating through my mind and I couldn’t rest until I put their story on paper.

Alexis: What do you want readers to take away from this story? Why?

Kathy: I want readers to understand that no matter what happened in the past, you have to move forward. Trent had a wonderful wife and a truly happy life ripped away from him without warning. It was hard for him to let go of the happy memories or the bitterness at losing it all. Carmen had so many regrets for mistakes she had made. Neither one of them could change the past, so they had to find a way to put it behind them and move forward in the present with an eye toward the future.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature characters of color published by the Christian book industry? Why or why not?

Kathy: Absolutely. People of color read Christian books so they should be able to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. Not that POC should be the only people who read those stories. Just as POC read stories featuring white couples, white people should also read stories featuring POC. 

I’ve heard books referred to as mirrors and windows. Mirrors reflect people like you and windows give you the opportunity to see into the lives of people not like you. Both are important. Both must be done well by authors who know what they are writing about. That’s why own voice books are so important.

Alexis: Who is your story’s heroine? Describe her looks, personality, and heart for the hero and then explain the conflict that she is experiencing.

Kathy: Carmen Shields is the heroine in this story. Whenever I create a character, I find someone to serve as the physical model. In this instance, I used actress Rochelle Aytes. Carmen is beautiful and kind. She’s had some difficulty in her past, so she is sympathetic. As a person who’s made mistakes in her youth, she can spot a person who is on track to make similar mistakes. When she does, she tries to help them avoid the pitfalls.

Carmen feels guilty for her role in the accident that resulted in the death of Trent’s wife and wants to make amends. But since she knows he doesn’t care for her, she is reluctant. Not only that, she refuses to beg for his affection.

Alexis: Who is your story’s hero? Describe his looks, flaws, strengths and his heart for the heroine and then explain the conflict that he is experiencing.

Kathy: Trent Knight is the hero in this story. I used actor Henry Simmons as his physical model. Trent sees the world as black and white. No gray. He expects a lot of himself and others. He can be hard and unforgiving. He is loyal and loves his daughters with his whole heart.

He blames Carmen for the death of his wife. As he gets to know her, he discovers she is not the monster he’d believed she was. Still, he is not happy when he finds himself falling for her and fights hard against his feelings.

Alexis: Why is forgiveness as important as a stolen kiss in this story?

Kathy: Forgiveness is important in this story. Trent needs to forgive Carmen in order to put the past behind him. Carmen also needs to forgive herself for the same reason.

Alexis: If you could step into this story as a licensed counselor, what would you tell Trent and Carmen to help them live their best life?

Kathy: I’m not a counselor, but I would tell them they need to put the past behind them. They need to forgive themselves and each other in order to embrace the present.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Kathy! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Kathy: Thank you so much for the interview. I love hearing from my readers, so if you want to drop me a note, please do so via my website kathydouglassbooks.com. Also while you’re there, feel free to sign up for my newsletter.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her. She often would finish one book and immediately pick up another. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long, lush romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked. She turned her back on romance and became a serious Stephen King fan, reading every word he wrote. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters or worse, she knew it was time to put down the horror stories and pick up the romance novels.

Her return to romance novels was short lived. She’d started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then one happy day her younger sister handed her a Harlequin romance. They were just what the doctor ordered. The books were short enough to read in a week and still get her required reading done. Best of all she knew there would be a happy ending and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to bed each night.

When her first child was born, she stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to Dr. Seuss and other children’s books. Any free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or laundry.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while, she felt the urge to write a book of her own and she began writing the stories she wanted to read. She spent many years writing some really terrible books and learning her craft. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin Special Edition. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February 2017. Since that time she has released three more books in her Sweet Briar Sweethearts series with more to come.

Follow Kathy on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter


About the Book:

Forgiveness starts with a stolen kiss.

Chief of police Trent Knight had it all until an accident took his wife and he was left alone to raise two beautiful girls.

Now the person he always blamed for his loss is back in town, and all bets are off. But soon his anger toward Carmen Shields gives way to a very different emotion—awareness of Carmen as a woman.

On one hand, it feels like a betrayal of his late wife’s memory. On the other, it could be his second chance at life—and Carmen’s shot at redemption. Maybe she can go home again—with the help of a certain lawman…

Buy How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-A-Million