Book Review: “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Friday! Who else is looking forward to it finally feeling like Fall outside?!?

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

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Runaway Brides story collection

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger. Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Legacy of Love by Terri J. Haynes

1877, Kentucky

Delia McClure longs to create a family legacy like her father, a former slave, who now owns a general store in a black community outside Lexington. But can Delia consent to her father’s choice of a husband for her when she has come to love another?

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


MY THOUGHTS

Haynes is quickly becoming one of my fave Barbour collection authors – both novellas of hers that I’ve read to date have been engaging and romantic, both touching and really fun to read.

In “Legacy of Love”, part of The Runaway Brides Collection, we have one of my very favorite tropes – friends who fall in love. Josiah and Delia live in very different economic situations – Delia, the daughter of a former slave turned wealthy merchant & Josiah, a hard worker who promised his dying parents he would take of his little sister Grace. The two have become good friends, however, in spite of their societal differences – and beneath the surface some deeper feelings are simmering. That first kiss? Whew! Mercy, it’s the stuff of swoons and weak knees and husky voices. The emotion behind it – and the realizations it prompts – leaves it in ‘memorable kisses’ territory for sure.

But the other thing I loved about this story is the compelling history that frames it. Along with the layered diverse characters Haynes has created, the perspective that she brings to the Reconstruction period is one I was, sadly, unfamiliar with. The tidbits about the Exodusters & the black migration to the West (specifically in this case to Kansas) is something that was never covered in my American history classes in school, nor in the citizenship materials I used to teach international adults in more recent years. Yet, it should have been, because the courage shown and the sacrifices made by those who left behind the familiar for the unknown deserve to be remembered and honored.


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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Interview with Sarah Monzon about “Novelly Upon a Time”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Welcome Sarah Monzon to our blog.

Remember her? She visited with us a few times earlier in this month of March.

Today, Sarah’s here to talk about her book, Novelly Upon a Time.

Enjoy!


Interview with Sarah Monzon about her book, Novelly Upon a Time: A Novella (Book Nerds and Boyfriends Collection Book Three):

Alexis: Why did you write this story and title it “Novelly Upon a Time?”

Sarah: As with any story I write, I wrote this one because the characters wouldn’t stop talking to me until I told their story. Sound a bit crazy? My husband thinks so. He’s always making fun of me and the “voices in my head.” But authors are a crazy lot and the only way to silence the voices is to give them one of their own in the form of a story.

Alexis: This is book number three in your Book Nerds and Boyfriends story collection. What inspired you to write this collection of stories and how does book three fit in?

Sarah: I was first inspired by the covers. I came across the graphics and thought they were so cute that I just had to write stories for them. Having each novella feature a book lover was icing on the cake. First, I didn’t have to look far for character inspiration (hello, avid reader here!) and second, I knew they would be characters that readers could relate to.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Harper Jones. What does she look like, sound like and act like? Why did you make her an author and not another career?

Sarah: Harper first comes on the scene in the second novella of the set. She’s a member of the book club. Her being an author is pivotal to the plot of the story because without that there would be no motivation. Plus, in the first featured a bibliophile, the second a literature professor, and I thought an author would round out the literary playing field.

Alexis: In what ways did receiving sour early reviews about her new novel, inspire Harper to, as you say, “get some real-life smooching experience?”

Sarah: Harper prides herself on her research. She will do anything to make her characters realistic and authentic. So when early reviews say that the romance in her book is unbelievable, she’s challenged to prove them wrong and establish herself as a person of authority on the matter.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero. What is his name? Describe him. What are his strengths and weaknesses and why is he described as Harper’s “arch nemesis?”

Sarah: Kyo Tanaka is a police officer and of Japanese-American decent. He grew up with Harper and had the ability to push her buttons. He would do things to deliberately get a rise out her. She hated it. And him.

Alexis: Why does Harper feel like she must “kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye?” Is that more of her own decision or is her book publisher pushing her?

Sarah: Both, although there is certainly a veiled threat from her publisher.

Alexis: What was the easiest aspect of writing this story and the most challenging part?

Sarah: The setting was fairly easy. I only live a ferry ride away from Seattle so have been to all the places I described in the story. The most challenging was Harper’s attitude toward Kyo. I’m not a person who holds grudges so writing her and her animosity toward him was not easy for me.

Alexis: What is the racial makeup of Harper and your story’s hero?

Sarah: Harper is White with no nationality ever expressed, and Kyo is Japanese-American.

Alexis: How did you decide on their racial identities for this story?

Sarah: Harper learns a valuable life lesson from Kyo’s grandparents who were prisoners in a Japanese internment camp during world war two.

Alexis: Describe the setting for your story. What makes it special?

Sarah: The story is set in Seattle. All the stories for this collection are set there. It’s a beautiful and diverse city with challenges and triumphs.

Alexis: What do you think is the importance of having books that show representation of all people? Explain.

Sarah: When we get to know each other’s stories and experiences, we are all richly blessed. God made a beautifully diverse world, and I think that should be represented in Christian fiction. As readers, we all like to be able to relate to the characters we read, and right now we may not be doing a very good job of that. Stories are also a good avenue to broaden viewpoints, soften hearts, and produce love that knows no boundaries.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Sarah!

*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:

Author Harper Jones prides herself on the impeccable research she does for her novels, so when early reviews come pouring in claiming her romance reeks of inauthenticity, her editor suggests pulling her nose out of her books and getting some real-life smooching experience.

But her plans to do just that are thwarted by her archnemesis from high school who has recently returned to town. Now she’s left with an impossible decision—kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye.

Buy Sarah’s book, Novelly Upon a Time, on Amazon

Author Interview: Joy Massenburge

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

Please help me welcome new author Joy Massenburge to our blog! She’s here to talk about her debut novella, “A Cry for Independence,” which is one of several stories in the Summer Fireworks boxed set.

Enjoy!

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About the Author: 

 Joy crafts the love stories of pastors and their kids. She was born the sixth child of a pastor. Thinking she had avoided the church scene, she married a football player. She left the University of Texas at Austin and her theater scholarship to join him at Sam Houston State where she obtained her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. On signing day with the Green Bay Packers, he advised her she would be a pastor’s wife…they raised pastor’s kids; a son a daughter and god-daughter. Her life is filled with twists and turns that come in twos—two donkeys, two dogs, and two teenagers who came to live with her soon after she became an empty nester.

With the kids married and off to college, she took the advice of her favorite author, Francine Rivers (for new writers), and joined ACFW as well as the not-so-local chapter DFW Ready Writers, where she serves as Chaplain.

Joy resides in Arp, Texas where you can find her in the concession stand on a Friday night, curled up on her back porch with a good book on a Saturday, or filling her five-acre country home with fifty plus people for a Blue Bell party.

Like her name, Joy’s writing is filled with heartfelt emotions, surprises, and excitement. Like her life, Joy’s readers experience change, a good church service, and the perfect dose of tears and laughter. She found the perfect formula for the contemporary romances God called her to write.

*Follow Joy on Facebook

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About the book: 

 Some cry wolf, Tammie Morris cries independence. After having Q’s baby out of wedlock and struggling to support herself and her child, she is determined to never depend on a man again. He will only abandon her like her father. It has taken twelve months to gain her GED, employment, and the five-year-life-plan she is committed to live by to make it happen. When her apartment availability is delayed, she is forced into a temporary living arrangement that threatens the future she’s mapped out.

Quan Blanton Sr., Q, has found the freedom only salvation through Jesus can offer. All there is to do now is put his family back together and live the Christian life. His ne Paroled to his son’s aunt and uncle’s house as part of the Father’s Heart program, he is determined to reunite his family the right way as soon as Tammie comes home from the shelter. There is only one problem, he is not a part of her plans.

When the storms of life usher in unexpected opposition, Tammie and Q find themselves headed the same direction, no matter their original plotted courses.

~*

Interview with Joy Massenburge, author of A Cry for Independence:

Alexis: Why did you name your book “A Cry for Independence”? Explain the significance of the title to the story.

Joy: The title came after I’d completed a little over half of the book. My heroine was quick to say she wanted to do things on her own, without the help of family, friends, or a man. But her internal thoughts cried out a different story. We’ll say a lot of things when we’re scared. Thank goodness God knows the heart and sends us what we need.

Alexis: Your heroine is Tammie Morris. What is she like? Describe her hopes, dreams and fears.

Joy: Tammie Morris is a young mother hardened by life. She has a five-year-plan to work and make enough money to take care of her son on her own without the help of another man. Hopes and dreams got her in the position she’s in so she doesn’t waste time on that anymore. She fears her attraction to Q. She fears failure. She fears herself.

Alexis: Your hero is Quan Blanton Sr. What is he like? Describe his strengths, weaknesses and heart.

Joy: Yes, but he goes by Q. He’s street smart. Confident. Passionate. And a new convert. He’s the type of guy that once he believes something, he digs in deep. However, he is struggling with how to handle his feelings for Tammie within this new system of right and wrong.

Alexis: Why does Q invite Tammie to church and why is she repelled by the thought of him getting “religion”?

Joy: Since he’s joined the church and they play such a strong part in the changes in his new life, he wants her to experience the relationship he’s enjoying with his church family and learn what he’s learned. Tammie blames the church and it rules and regulations for destroying her family life and her relationship with her Father.

Alexis:  Share details on Q and Tammie’s history. What brought them together and what drove them apart?

Joy: Q and Tammie are high school sweet hearts. After she became pregnant, they moved in together. A five-year prison sentence separated them. Tammie, a vulnerable single parent, hurt that Q chose his father over her and their son, moves on with her life and begins a relationship with another man.

Alexis: How old is Q and Tammie’s son? What role does he play in this story?

Joy: Their son, Quan Jr., if Tammie is talking, or Junior if Q calls him, is 8. He’s the crucible of the story that forges the restoration of their relationship.

Alexis: Why does Q want to help Tammie?

Joy: He loves her. He wants her to experience the liberty he has found in Christ Jesus. He wants to have the family, he’d been denied.

Alexis: Why did Q go to prison? How did he get out?

Joy: Q took a drug charge for his father in a last attempt to gain his father’s love and respect. He never thought he’d serve real time since he didn’t have any priors. He paroled out after agreeing to participate in the Father’s Heart community outreach program. A church partnered with the state with the idea of restoring the family unit to stop the prison numbers from increasing with the next generation.

Alexis: Why does Tammie crave independence but doesn’t know what it looks like?

Joy: I believe God places the desire in every heart to live in liberty. Tammie is like many others raised in a family that made mistakes in how they handled trials and claimed their deeds were in response to what God would have them do. So many people misrepresent God’s desires because they fail to read God’s Word for themselves and when they do, they lack understanding. He’s more than rules and regulations. God is Love. Grace. Mercy. Holiness. Until Q, in his new walk in life, Tammie had never seen the God of the Bible lived out in a way that she’d recognize Him as her hearts true desire.

Alexis: At what point does Tammie turn to God? What drove her to pray to Him?

Joy: Like many of us, we accomplish the things on our list that we thought would make us happiest, only to learn it does not satisfy. That’s what happens to Tammie. At the end of her list, she realizes something in her life is still missing. She wants the peace of life Q is living. She’s tired of handling things on her own and finally cries out for help.

Alexis: You deal with tough topics in this story. What lesson are you hoping to teach your readers through it?

Joy: We all make mistakes. Fear is the biggest prison we overlook. God does not want us to live in fear, but liberty. His love is big enough to cover our faults. He’s waiting for us to cry out to Him so He can lead us into the abundant life He planned for us.

Alexis: Your story features African American characters. Do you think that CBA needs to publish more stories featuring Black people? Why or why not?

Joy: I’d love to see more stories featuring African American characters. I’m an avid reader of Christian Romance and my decision to start writing came from me yearning to see my people on the pages beyond plots covering slavery, sexually explicit romance, or scandal. Every race of people has a uniqueness that deserves to be portrayed and preserved in book format. Going to CBA conferences, I realize very few Black authors are submitting works. An agent recently told me she’d been waiting for the last three years to have African American characters pitched to her. I made sure to pitch both books I’d prepared for the event.

Alexis: What kind of impact do you hope that your book will create in communities of color?

Joy: I can’t tell you how many family members and church members have come to me saying they’ve been inspired to write after seeing me do it. It’s not only a dream for me, but a calling. I obeyed the call on my life and pray it becomes a standard in my family for my children and children’s children to do the same. I’d love to inspire more people in our community to write.

Then, there’s the information inside the cover. Like the parables Jesus used to help the people gain understanding, I desire for every reader to walk away knowing more about their Heavenly Father than before.

Alexis: What was the greatest challenge for you as an author in writing this story? Explain.

Joy: Me! I had already written the full-size novel that introduced the main characters in this story and it was still being reviewed by an editor I had pitched to at the ACFW conference. Since I hadn’t been validated by others that my writing was worth reading, I struggled to accept the opportunity to submit a novella in my mentor’s July Fourth Anthology Collection when she asked me to. Lena Nelson Dooley wouldn’t take no for an answer and encouraged me all the way. After a lot of prayers, sweat, and tears, I completed the second book I’d ever written. BLISS, book one in the Wounded Lamb Series, is still under review. It’s funny how the subplot characters’ story reached readers first.

God used this situation to teach me not to wait for man to validate the calling on my life. Those He calls, He equips.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Joy! Do you have closing comments to share?

Joy: If we are going to see more stories with Black people as main characters, we have to increase demand for it to be stocked on the shelves. Starting in our families, communities, and churches, we have to encourage them to become readers. To become writers. And if not that, then support others who do.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor