The Baron’s Blunder by Susan Baganz

This delightful novella from Susan Baganz is part of the  “Love is…” series by Prism Book Group, looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. The Baron’s Blunder illustrates verse six:  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.  

The Baron's Blunder by Susan BaganzThe hero is dashing and brave – and so is the heroine

Lord Charles Percy and the Honorable Henrietta Allendale are both independent, capable people who want to continue in their current single condition. He enjoys the clandestine activities that keep him busy, but an impulsive lie told to avoid discovery leads to complicated deception. She knows he’s hiding something. When Lord Percy confesses the truth, Henri isn’t sure she can trust anything else he says. As much as they enjoy life and engaging in exciting adventures without the encumbrance of a spouse, however, there’s no denying the attraction that pulls at both of them.

 

 

 

The Baron's Blunder by Susan Baganz

 

I enjoyed the pacing of this adventure romance. The main and secondary characters were likable people who seemed more multi-dimensional than those sometimes found in Regency romances. I especially liked the heroine, who managed to be independent without becoming aggressive about it or behaving in an anachronistic way.

Rose Hill Regencies

The Baron’s Blunder is a prequel to Ms. Baganz’s upcoming Rose Hill Regencies, a series of entertaining Regency romance novels for the inspirational fiction market. I look forward to them!

The Baron’s Blunder is available for pre-order now and will be delivered to your kindle device Friday, August 26.

Watch for the author’s upcoming novel, Feta and Freeways,  available for preorder now, releasing on September 16, 2016. It’s the newest book in her Orchard Hill series, and you won’t want to miss it.

Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break.

Tia Bartel loved Niko for the longest time, but it wasn’t until she stepped in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust?

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Miranda Warning – An Audiobook Review

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert FREE Kindle book and $2 Audible audiobook!I just finished reading Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains – Book One) by Heather Day Gilbert. I thought it would be a straightforward mystery, but it turned out to be a multi-faceted introduction to what I expect will be a long series.

NOTE – This kindle book is FREE on Amazon right now, and when you buy it (for FREE), you can get the audible version for $1.99.  I highly recommend it, and I think you will want to follow up with the next in the series, “Trial by Twelve.”

The author has created a refreshingly original world. I wouldn’t classify the book as “Christian Fiction.” Instead, Ms. Gilbert writes from a Christian worldview, and her setting includes a realistic mix of Christians and nonbelievers in community. None of them are perfect, and they live naturally according to their convictions. The heroine is a unique character. She bears some scars from a dysfunctional childhood, but she went to college, married into a healthy family and doesn’t wallow in angst. As a mother-in-law, I was pleased to see the loving relationship between Tess and Nikki Jo. The politically conservative characters are portrayed as intelligent and sensible instead of rednecks or greedy industrialists. They have guns but aren’t violent. A young boy is allowed to be an ordinary young boy who enjoys his family. An older woman is sometimes lucid and sometimes vague. Tess’s husband, Thomas, is allowed to be grouchy and jealous sometimes without being a bully. He is macho and vulnerable. She is vulnerable, too, but also willful and sometimes intrepid. And she doesn’t hide (too many) things from her husband; she can be foolhardy and she has common sense. On these and several other points, Ms. Gilbert succeeds in breaking free of stereotypes. Refreshing!

There were some inconsistencies that struck me as jarring: Miranda initiated the whole mystery and then became disinterested. The doctor was too accommodating, too fast. Why didn’t Tess have a concealed carry permit? Axel provided insight to Thomas’s character and feelings for Tess, but he seemed extraneous otherwise. He felt like a subplot that never developed, and then he left the country to tie up the loose end. Rosemary’s actions were odd. The friendship with Charlotte happened too quickly and conveniently. The ending felt rushed. And yet, it was still an engrossing story. I wonder if the book was originally much longer and then cut back to meet modern publishing standards.

The author’s creativity and skill were displayed in the two parallel story lines that linked all of the characters. Rose’s story unfolded slowly, changing our perceptions of each character with every installment. THAT was superbly written.

Trial by Twelve - by Heather Day Gilbert

 

Trial by Twelve, the second book in this series, features the same characters two years later and is more of a murder mystery than this one. I look forward to reading it soon!

 

 

 

I had purchased Miranda Warning in kindle form and was already reading it when the author approached me with an offer of a free audiobook in exchange for an honest review.  It was nice to have both formats. The reader did a very good job, but of the two formats, I preferred the text book.  The first-person, present tense style sounds a little dreamy and “stream of consciousness” when it’s read aloud.

There are quite a few female characters in the book, and the reader was consistent and distinct in each voice. She had to create separate young and old voices for three of the characters, since there are separate timeline passages, and she did great with that. She also did the child’s voice quite well. The Appalachian dialect was just right – not overdone. 

This kindle book is FREE right now on Amazon, and the Miranda Warning audiobook is only $1.99.  That’s $2 for 8 1/2 hours of entertainment!!

Bite Size Book Reviews

I’m not feeling romantic this week. When I am stressed, instead of reaching for something lighthearted, I usually pick up a mystery or (slightly)romantic suspense novel. We moved two weeks ago, unexpectedly, and I listened to audiobooks while I worked on packing and cleaning.  When in Rome is an old favorite, and I always enjoy Kristen Heitzmann, but the others were new to me.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris is a FREE KINDLE BOOK! (Price may change without notice, but it’s free right now!)

We are starting to settle into our new home – did I mention that it is an apartment in a Tudor castle? – but I’m still not ready to snuggle up with a romance. Expect more murder and violence next week…

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh - Classic Detective Fiction, reviewed by Cathe SwansonWhen in Rome, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Retro Read! This classic detective story from 1969 is an old favorite. Ms. Marsh writes so clearly that the reader experiences the story more like a movie than a book. She researched Rome, its history and its legal system for this tale of blackmail and drug smuggling. Her characters are varied, each drawn with realistic attitudes and behaviors, and each has his or her own motive for murder.

 

 

 

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris - FREE kindle book as of 4/14/2016

 

~ FREE KINDLE BOOK ~

Dangerous Passage, kindle book by Lisa Harris

This book was different in that the romantic relationship is already in place at the start of the story, and the hero is a medical examiner, which places him in the criminal investigation field without having him be a police officer. The complexities of the heroine’s family life added depth to this story of human trafficking. The author has set the stage for a series, and I look forward to reading the others.

 

 

The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann

 

The Edge of Recall, audiobook by Kristen Heitzmann, read by Katherine Kellgrenn

Kristen Heitzmann writes complex stories, and this is no exception. The heroine is still living with unresolved trauma, which makes her a bit frustrating, but the hero and his sidekick are enjoyable. The plot is – as always in Ms. Heitzmann’s books – original and well-researched. I learned a lot about labyrinths! The ending seemed rushed and too “pat” for such a rich story.

 

 

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

 

The Patmos Deception, audiobook by Davis Bunn, read by Rich Orlow

Good writing, great setting, unique characters, cultural and political authenticity, intriguing history… that made up for the fact that the plot was a little confusing and the ending was not quite an ending. I wondered if Bunn might be setting us up for a sequel. More suspense than romance – just the way I like my books.  I do recommend it.

 

 

and now for something completely different…

Opening Moves by Steven JamesOpening Moves, audiobook by Steven James, read by Richard Ferrone

I picked this one up because my library had it listed as Christian fiction and it’s the prequel to a long suspense/thriller series. I am always looking for new authors and series.  It freaked me out. Cannibalism, torture, mutilation, violence – with descriptions of the emotions experienced by the villain and the victim as they happened.  I regret reading it. BUT – I understand the rest of the series isn’t as gruesome. The author has good writing skills, so if you enjoy this genre, give it a shot. It’s not Christian fiction, but there was very little to object to (aside from the brutality, sadism, etc.)

 

 

 

Fascinating – Christian Fantasy!

highlands

Highlands, by Chautona Havig

Pre-order this now, for 99 cents! Releases automatically to your kindle or kindle app on October 6th.

If you had told me yesterday that I would enjoy a book in the “Contemporary Christian Fantasy” genre – even one by Chautona Havig! – I would have smiled and nodded politely. I have good manners like that.  Well,  she sent me an advance copy. She’s generous like that. She didn’t even ask me to review it!

 

And I can admit when I’m wrong… this book caught my attention and held it. I meant to just skim, but it sucked me in and I was on chapter six before I realized what I was doing. I have three major projects due for clients, so I pulled out the fabrics I needed and tidied up the sewing room. Then I sat down to read chapters seven and eight. I closed the computer and started quilting. I spent ten minutes on the first table runner and opened the laptop  computer to read chapter nine. And so on.

Ms. Havig drops a modern young athlete (nearly naked!) into a remote, bizarre community. He is confused. He is horrified. He wonders if he has died and is in some sort of afterlife.  And then, with perfect, almost elegant pacing, the story unfolds, revealing a fascinating world in which people have unquestioningly accepted every circumstance as the will of – gifts from – God.  Our hero struggles with understanding their beliefs – and so does the reader. The themes of extreme submission and gratitude are thought-provoking in this context.

I can’t describe the physical effects of the young man’s emotional and  spiritual reactions without sharing too much of the plot, but I will say that the whole concept is FASCINATING. This gifted author continually amazes me with her eclectic creativity.

This is the second in a series. The first, Prairie, was written as a stand-alone book three years ago and is not necessary to the enjoyment of this one.  I’ve had it on my kindle and intend to read it soon.

Highlands is in pre-order right now, for 99 cents! It will be released on October 6th.

Bite-size Book Reviews

With the exception of Susan Baganz’s “Pesto and Potholes” – so suitable for the start of the Green Bay Packers season! – it’s all audiobook reviews this week. I get a lot of housework and sewing and quilting done while I listen to audiobooks!

 

Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz

Pesto and Potholes, paperback by Susan M. Baganz

This is a delightful, gentle romance sprinkled with silliness.  The heroine is recovering from serious physical and emotional trauma, trying to restart life in a new city. She connects with the hero and friends at her new church and starts to heal, but she experiences setbacks and has to recover, a little stronger each time.  I was especially impressed by the realistic community. The friends and families of the main characters interact naturally under various circumstances, including the potentially-problematic operation of a family business. Ms. Baganz writes in a pleasant rhythm, pacing the story well.

 

Poseidon's Arrow by Clive and Dirk Cussler - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

 

Poseidon’s Arrow, audiobook by Clive and Dirk Cussler, read by Scott Brick

I’m starting to worry about Dirk Pitt. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s still out there saving the world. This is an interesting and creative story featuring the rare earth minerals, Chinese villains, and an amazing piece of technology that only needs one more thing to make it work. Will Dirk and his children find it before the bad guys?

 

 

 

 

Organized Grime by Christy Barritt - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

Organized Grime, audiobook by Christy Barritt, read by Angela Goethals

This is the third in the Squeaky Clean Mysteries. The heroine is a crime scene cleaner with aspirations to a career in criminal forensics. She is a new Christian, and Ms. Barritt does a good job of portraying the changes in her emotional life and relationships. The hero is a sensible man with a generous heart. His unexpected involvement in the plot was a neat touch. This humorous story has many layers and a complex plot that kept me guessing until the very satisfying end.

 

 

 

Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

Seagrass Pier, audiobook by Colleen Coble, read by Devon O’Day

This book has an unusual heroine – a recent heart transplant patient who is having flashbacks, “remembering” the experiences and emotions of the murdered donor. I was wondering how those spiritual issues would fit into a Christian novel, but Ms. Coble handled it well. The woman’s family and support network are all interesting characters who contribute to the story as a whole; her mother’s early-onset dementia is a poignant undercurrent through the plot. I was concerned for the four-year-old child… her father dies, her mother has a heart transplant and her grandmother has severe dementia. Then the hero (a stranger) recognizes the child and demands to be given time alone with her. Poor kid. Otherwise, it was a very satisfactory and complex story. One of the author’s best!

 

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh - audiobook reviews by Cathe SwansonLast Ditch, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Another classic detective novel from one of the Golden Age masters. This book is set later than the others; the protagonist is Alleyn’s son, Ricky. He becomes involved with a colorful family and the ensuing police investigation when one of them is killed. Dad shows up to solve the case and save Ricky from certain death.  As always, Ms. Marsh’s settings and characters are portrayed vividly.

 

 

Look for more audiobook reviews as summer approaches and I listen while I garden!

Disclosure:   I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

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A Forgotten Truth by Chautona Havig

forgotten truthA FORGOTTEN TRUTH

I’ve been waiting for this latest book in The Agency Files series. As a fan of romantic suspense (light on the romance and heavy on the suspense), I’ve devoured Ms. Havig’s Agency Files books. Her versatility amazes me; she writes across genres and does all of it well. I especially like this series and her Hartfield Mysteries.

This one is being released tomorrow, but I’m pre-ordering it tonight.

 

 

 

 

One man holds the key to a secret that has the potential to rock the core of the American government.

The FBI, Homeland Security, and The Agency all compete to find Ryan West before those who seek to silence him succeed.

For Dan Abney, everything’s a blur. On the run from people he can’t name, Dan has one goal in mind: Stay alive and find out who he is.

The North Koreans have stepped up their game, and Mark, in between trying to find Ryan and keep his ex-girlfriend safe, is split between keeping Shin Kim and family safe and extracting all damaging information from him before the country is at risk.

From Portland to Oklahoma, Michigan to Rockland and it surrounding areas, The Agency is stretched thin and racing against a ticking time bomb that threatens more than their existence.

And while Keith is off trying to secure the safety of witnesses and criminals alike, Erika wrestles with the issue dividing her heart and soul. Can she bear to surrender herself–all that she is–and become a “new creature” in Christ? Torn between an aching desire for the peace she sees in her father and Keith and the autonomy she cherishes, Erika is left with anything but peace. Will she surrender? Can she?