Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book Review: "A Lady of Hidden Intent" by Tracie Peterson

Hide your face so the world will never find you

Catherine Newbury is forced to leave England in wake of a scandal of which her father is caught in the middle. She flees to America where she creates a new name for herself as a fashion designer. Everyone in Philadelphia wants to be wearing her designs including the family of Carter Danby. The two met years ago in England but a chance reunion brings them together again in America. Catherine tries to hide her identity while Carter can't figure out why this young designer keeps triggering his memory.

This was another enjoyable entry in this series. The writing in this story is top notch and keeps you wanting more. Peterson keeps her trademark writing with an enjoyable heroine and a storyline that you can't put down. I enjoyed reading about the fashion of the time period. It was very interesting to read about the lives of the fashion industry of that time period. I liked learning about what had to go on to design and create the outfits. The sewing house seemed very different from a factory because people enjoyed working there and got good wages. I also thought it was VERY poignant to bring up the issue of mistresses and how this corrupted the family in this time period. Carter's father and brother were horrible in how their view of women and the way his father treated his wife was disgusting. When Carter realizes how many abortions have cost the lives of his half-siblings, it makes the reader really think about how sacred life is. I was pleasantly surprised to read about how Felicia fails to usurp Catherine at the sewing house. Honestly I get tired of reading about jealous rivals who ruin everything for the unsuspecting innocent heroine. This might sound sadistic but it was a total joy to read about how everything backfired on her. Just a refreshing change from other Christian fiction that always involves the bad winning out over the good. Even though the stories are not connected I have been enjoying the books in the Ladies of Liberty series. It's awesome to read about strong females who like both fashion and leadership in the regency era. This is, in my opinion, one of Peterson's best novels. HIGHLY recommended.

A Lady of Hidden Intent by Tracie Peterson is published by Bethany House (2008)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Review: "A Passion Most Pure" by Julie Lessman


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Passion Most Pure
(Revell January 1, 2008)

by
Julie Lessman



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.




ABOUT THE BOOK

She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.

Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. Collin is trying to win her sister Charity's hand, and Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure is Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.



*Gasp* Christian fiction with sexual tension!

Christian romance used to be happy endings and chaste couples. Many times in traditional Christian fiction, the characters seem fake because they keep their feelings hidden. What I loved best about this book is the fact that emotions are allowed and shown in great detail. This is one of the most edgiest and steamiest Christian fiction books I have ever read. And I thought it was wonderful! It's about time we realize that Christians have emotions are capable of showing love and desire. Fans of Deeanne Gist will love this book because it falls into that same genre. The characters were very real and multidimensional. This love triangle really manages to keep the reader on their toes with all the drama and conflict that surrounds them. I really felt for Faith throughout the whole story. Her emotions are realistic and I love how she tackles the challenging job of working for a newspaper. Colin was a great character because kept my attention throughout the book making me dislike him on one page and then rooting for him on the next.

But I'm sorry but I really hated Charity. She bugged me from the beginning of the story and just kept irritating me throughout. Her attitude and actions were so "Mean Girl" like. I am looking forward to reading the next book where she gets redeemed, but I do hope that she gets what's coming to her first! This book is a wonderful read and at 477 pages, it's a great way to spend a rainy day curled up in a chair. This is one of the best debut novels that I have ever read. I am highly looking forward to more books from Julie Lessman.


A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman is published by Revell (2008)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Elizabeth Nelson and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

There are 2 books up for grabs this week! I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book. I'm also giving away the first book in the series Reluctant Burglar (autographed by the author!) Leave a comment stating 1) which book you want to be entered for and 2) your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick 2 names and announce the winners on Tuesday, February 5. Good luck!

Looting of archaeological sites is big business in a thriving art and antiquities black market. When a desperate foreign government hires Desiree Jacobs’s security company to stop the hemorrhage, she runs afoul of a deadly art-for-drugs operation. Tony Lucano risks his rising career in the FBI to dive into the international underworld after her. Before either of them can come up for air, they must navigate through a deepening murk of ruthless looters, hair-trigger DEA agents, crooked government agents, and innocent bystanders caught up in an illegal trade beyond their understanding. Even if a miracle delivers Desi and Tony from evil, will their love survive the test?

Complete with a reader’s guide, this third book in the To Catch a Thief series, Reluctant Smuggler explores the power of hope in the darkest of circumstances.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson graduated with a degree in literature and creative writing from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota. She served for three years as the senior inspirational reviewer for Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers Group, and Christian Authors Network. In 2004, she served as a Christy Award judge in the romance category. Nelson and her husband have four children and live in Madison, Minnesota.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Awaken My Heart by Diann Mills


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Awaken My Heart

Avon Inspire (February 5, 2008)

by

DiAnn Mills



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. She is the author of numerous titles including novels, novellas, and a nonfiction. In addition, she's written several short stories, articles, devotions, and has contributed to several nonfiction compilations.

DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.

Several of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and she remains a favorite author by Heartsong Present's readers. Two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers both in 2003 and 2004. She was named Writer of the Year for 2004 at the 35th Annual Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference and is the recipient of Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, ChiLibris, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn also belongs to Cy Fair Women's Networking, an exclusive professional women's networking organization.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own one, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

1803, the colony of Texas


Awaken My Heart is set in 19th century Texas and tells the story of 18 year old Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Weston Phillips. Weston is involved in a hostile struggle with Armando Garcia, the infamous rebel leader of the 'mestizos' who claim to own the land that Phillips has settled.

Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate.

Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Book Review: "A Matter of Wife and Death" by Ginger Kolbba and Christy Scannell


These women need a V8!

The feisty foursome of pastors' wives are back! This time the gals are battling new adventures in their lives of serving God and their church. Felicia has to adapt from being a career woman to a stay at home mom. Jennifer continues her quest to become a mother with surprising results. Lisa is battling with a rebellious teenage daughter. And Mimi is struggling with a colicky baby and an attraction to her kids' principal? On top of all that, mega PW Kitty Katt is still trying to outshine her fellow PWs and still getting on everyone's nerves. Will a PW retreat finally manage to bring all the women together?

I enjoyed this book A LOT better than the first book in the series. I felt that the characters were developed more and they weren't just a cleaner Christian imitation of the ladies from Sex and the City. There was a lot more communication between the husbands and the wives, something that I had felt was severely lacking in the first book. Sometimes it still feels like there's too much going on with 5 story lines happening at the same time. I think it would have been better just to focus on two of the women with the background story involving everyone.

I really liked Lisa's story with her daughter. I think it also rings true about how a pastor just can't quit his job when he's fed up or things start going wrong. He has to think about the whole church before he makes any decision. It's also sad about how tough it is for pastor's kids to see their parents' lives dictated by the people in the church. Mimi's story this time was a hoot! I was really glad to read about a mom who's not afraid to admit she's sick of her baby crying all the time. The scene where she's pulled over by the copy for falling asleep was hilarious. And then her relationship with the principal....wow I didn't think I'd read something like that with a preacher's wife! The only thing that got me was how calm Mark was when she told him about it. It just seemed rather fake for him to be not bothered by it. And I really don't want to spoil anything about this book but wow there's a storyline in here that I totally did NOT see coming! I thought it was an excellent way to distract the reader to not even guess what was going to happen next.

If you enjoyed reading the first book, you'll like this too. Even if you didn't, I would still recommend picking this one up. It's a whole lot more fun and lot less desperate!

A Matter of Wife and Death by Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell is published by Howard Books (2008)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Book Review: "Desperate Pastors' Wives" by Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell


It's Hard Knock Life for Us

Being a pastor's wife is tough. Everyone judges you, tells you what to do, and you're always in the spotlight. You can't complain about this to anyone else because you're supposed to be a spiritual leader in the church with no problems at all. That's what it's like for Mimi, Felicia, Lisa and Jennifer. The foursome get together bi-weekly to share their problems, frustrations, stories and laughter. This is their chance to let it all out because no one else understands what life is like for them.

This book was a refreshing realistic view into the hardships of what it's like to be a pastor's wife. Reading books about members of a pastor's family are always difficult for me to read. It really irks me about the absurd expectations people place on the the pastor and his family. Why do we as church members think that the pastor's family should be perfect and that we have a right to judge every move they make? We're hypocrites. We think that because we "pay for their salary" we have the right to tell them what to do, call they up at anytime for our bidding, and pass along our advice on how to raise their family.

There were several interesting revelations I discovered while reading. One was how competitive pastor's wives are with each other which was the case with Kitty. Now that was a character you love to hate. I actually enjoyed reading all her scenes because she's the type of Christian who's walking around with the plank in her eye.
While I enjoyed the book, there were several things that irked me. Out of the four women, Mimi was my least favorite. Her story just doesn't make as much of a statement as the other 3. I know she was tired of having the church members constantly dictating what they could do but it didn't seem as important as the other 3 stories. And honestly I found her refusal to stop joining things rather annoying. Mark comes off as the most supportive husband in fact. Now as for the other three wives, I could understand their plights more. It's not fair for Felicia to be looked down on simply because she wants to work outside the home.

The pressure put on Jennifer to have a baby is very realistic in this day and age but it's not right for church members to make her feel unworthy for not having a baby. However, the story seemed to portray Catholics as completely different from other Christians. Also I don't blame Lisa one bit for her anger towards Joel for not treating her with love and respect. I've said before, what's the point in helping others if you can't keep your own family intact? I just felt though lot of the misunderstanding and tension in the story could have been made up very easily if people would just talk to each other. It would have made for a shorter story but a lot of drama could have been avoided. Still it was an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.

Desperate Pastors' Wives by Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell is published by Howard Books (2007)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fallen by Matthew Raley


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fallen

(Kregel Publications February 29, 2008)

by

Matthew Raley



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.








ABOUT THE BOOK

Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page.

Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book Review: "A Soldier's Promise" by Cheryl Wyatt and BOOK GIVEAWAY!


I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday, January 29. Good luck!

Great Debut by a New Author!

Joel is a parachute jumper who hates coming back to his hometown. Amber is the teacher who writes to him to come visit her school. Bradley is the little boy with cancer that connects the two. Joel is reluctant to give into a relationship due to past events while Amber's first concerns are for the well being of Bradley. Together the two find out that their love for the boy will bring them to a romance that the two of them cannot deny.


This is the perfect book for romance lovers. The story is sweet and charming with the characters just the type you can't wait to see fall in love. You have the heroic macho guy with a sensitive side and the faithful teacher with a cute kid thrown in for good measure. It's a great story that's really touching and will make for a enjoyable read. It's a great way to spend an afternoon curled up in your chair. The scene where Amber fries her hair is hilarious because it's a situation that could happen to anyone.
I enjoyed learning about parachute jumping. I really admire the guys who jump out of planes to rescue people. There is no way you could have gotten me to do what Amber did when she jumped out of the plane with Joel. I don't care how much I liked the guy, I prefer having my feet planted firmly on the ground, thank you very much! And wow, I really did not like Bradley's foster mother. I cannot believe that someone would just let a kid die while under their care. Why would you even apply to become a foster parent and why on earth was she still even considered to house kids? It just makes you even more sadder for the kids that are put in the foster care system. Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. It's a wonderful debut from a promising author. I'm looking forward to her next book!

A Soldier's Promise by
Cheryl Wyatt is published by Steeple Hill (2008)

Monday, January 21, 2008

101 Cups of Water by C. D. Baker and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I'm giving away 2 brand new copies of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick 2 names and announce the winners on Monday, January 28. Good luck!

For every time you’ve tried too hard, fell too far, or struggled too much, the refreshing cups in this book–or reminders of God’s infinite grace and mercy–will renew you like cool, clear water after a long, dry walk on a dusty, pitted, uphill road.

“I’ve been a believing Christian since childhood,” author C. David Baker explains, “but it’s my personal failures that have led me to the deep well of Grace.”

David poured his dashed hopes, broken dreams, haunting doubts, and paralyzing fear down that well and found all that’s collected here, all he, like you, needs for living with peace, joy, and purpose: cool cups of relief, comfort, revival, and sustenance.

Because Water Is Life.
And 101 Cups of Water Will Quench Your Thirst.

C.D. Baker dips into the flowing stream of God’s love and draws out relief, refreshment, mercy, hope and sustenance for a new generation of Christ-followers. Baker’s clean, simple prose is paired with evocative, black and white photographs that will etch each truth into the reader’s memory.

C.D. Baker founded and operated an award-winning insurance business before redirecting his career to write. His historical novel Crusade of Tears in The Journey of Souls series earned a Christy Award nomination. He’s completing a master’s degree in theological studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he splits his time from home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His website is www.cdbaker.com.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Book Review: "Possibilities" by Debra White Smith


Don't be a pushover Allie wanted to marry Frederick. Unfortunately he's the gardener and she's a rich society girl. Advice from her family tells her to reject him, which she does. Ten years later, her family is in debt. Frederick is now a war hero with military honors. However he hasn't forgotten how Allie rejected him. Now the two must face each other again bringing back memories of rejection and lost love. A modern retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. I haven't read Persuasion yet (I know, the horror!) but I did recently see a BBC version on Masterpiece Theater this past week. I enjoyed the story very much and even more so because I had just finished this modern retelling of it. It's a light read that romance readers are sure to enjoy. Even if you have no clue who Jane Austen is, the story is written for the romance lover in mind, perfect for a cozy afternoon read. While I did enjoy the story, there were a couple little things that really bugged me while reading. The main distraction was the overly exaggerated Southern talk from Landon. I didn't see the need to write her dialogue in this fashion, honestly it looked like poor English. It would have been more easier to just say that she was from the South and left it as that.

The other little irk that got me (and it happens quite a bit in Christian fiction) is when age differences are discussed, 10 year age differences are always declared as "I'm nearly old enough to be your father!" With all the huge age differences between couples these days, this type of comment is very annoying and seems to be quite dated. Also while it would have made sense for Anne Elliot to not be able to do anything because of what her father and society demanded of her in the 1800s, it's quite different for Allie. It's the 21st century and she can't get a job at 35 because her father says no? Unfortunately for me, this was my least favorite book of the series. While I like the Persuasion story very much, it just did not seem to ring true to a modern setting. Allie comes off too much as a pushover who cannot make up her own mind at all even more so than Anne did in the original book. So my final verdict is as a romance story it's a wonderful read, as a modern retelling of a great classic a little tweaking in some places would help out a lot.

Possibilities by Debra White Smith is published by Harvest House (2007)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Blog Makeover!

What do you think of my new look??? I love it!! I've been wanting one for over a year and I finally caved in an ordered one. Susie from Bluebird Blogs did the design and she did a WONDERFUL job. Check out her site to see all the other blogs she's designed and then place an order yourself.

Let me know what you think! (BTW the pic of the rice is making me crave some Chinese food right now lol)

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008 by Sally Stuart


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008


WaterBrook Press (January 15, 2008)

by

Sally Stuart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Sally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual "Christian Writers' Market Guide" for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children's picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel--plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the "Christian Communicator," "Advanced Christian Writer," and the Oregon Christian Writers' Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers' Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.


Check out her blog!

ABOUT THE BOOK:
The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!


Check out the section on Blogging on page 69...the CFBA is listed!


Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.

To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at http://www.stuartmarket.blogspot.com/.

A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Review: "You Had Me at Good-bye" by Tracey Bateman



First chick lit book of '08 is a winner!


Dancy is an editor for a fiction publisher. Well she is until she makes a snafu with the company's top author and is fired from her job. To make do while she finds a new job, she helps out a coffee house and writes in her novel that's semi autobiographical. She's just found out she has a new younger half brother, her parents are getting back together, her older brother is getting married, and her cousin is trying to make the moves on the one guy with who Dancy has a love/hate relationship. Does it makes things worse if the guy is cute, British and the one that fired Dancy?


I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first one in the series. This book included pretty much everything I like: books, food, and British guys. I really liked Dancy's character. She had a job I loved and also had a heart for helping others. I really enjoyed learning about the publishing world through this book. It was interesting learning to see how fiction books are acquired and what is needed to make it big in the nonfiction side. Also I want to read Dancy's book! The excerpts in the beginning of the chapters were fun to read and made want to get the whole book. Jack and Dancy's chemistry was excellent in this book. Who can resist cute British guys? I mean, that accent alone would just make my heart flutter every time I hear it.

Oh and I loved reading about Laini's culinary creations. I was dying to try out her cinnamon rolls or her ham and cheese roll ups. If I was her roommate I think I would probably have to restrain myself or else I'd be moving up a dress size. I think it was great to read about New York socialites and the absurd standards they push upon themselves. I wanted to yell at Dancy for complaining about how fat she was at a size 4. Of course she finally does accept that being stick thin is not good for her but it's just sad to see how society keeps pushing the thin is in mindset. I loved Dancy's brother because he was such a rebel compared to the rest of the put together family. It was sad though that the parent figures in this book weren't very good role models for their children. As the first chick lit read of the year, I had a rollicking good time reading it. Laini's book needs to come out now because I cannot wait to read it!


You Had Me at Good-bye by Tracey Bateman is published by
Faithwords (2008)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Review: "Catch a Rising Star" by Tracey Bateman


Some Kind of Superstar

Tabby Brockman is a rabbit working in a bookstore. Ok well she's a dressed up rabbit because her former job as a soap opera actress came to an end with her character's death. This can be blamed on jealousy by the head writer's husband being attracted to Tabby. She's getting by in life with her two best friends Dancy and Laini when she gets the call that she's been invited to rejoin the soap opera again. Now a Christian, Tabby has to make sure her character doesn't tread into dangerous waters, fend off unwanted suitors and try to stay on her toes with the hunky dad of her two soap opera kids. All in a day's work for an actress!


Reading this book introduced a first for me. Tabby is a soap opera actress. I have never read in a Christian fiction book about a Christian acting in a soap opera AND still being a Christian. Normally the character will be a non Christian who's an actor, then converts and drops out of acting all together. So this was a welcome relief to see how one can be a Christian and act at the same time. This was a really fun book to read. I enjoyed learning about the soap opera world especially since I was a closet All My Children fan back in the day. It was interesting learning about what goes on in the makings of a show and reading about the backstage lives of the actors. Tabby is a great character who made me laugh a lot with her antics. I do love how there are characters you can love to hate in this book and that Tabby equally shares the reader's dislike in them. It makes the characters more relatable when they are acting the way you would act in that sort of situation. And I loved her relationship with Dave. Loved reading all the drama that happened between the two! It's just really cool to read about people who are around my age doing things they love, having great shoes and clothes but still be really adamant about their faith. I loved all the characters in this book and I'm looking forward to reading about Dancy and Laini's stories as well. If you are a soap opera fan or a chick lit gal, pick up this book!


Catch a Falling Star by Tracey Bateman is published by
Faithwords (2007)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Book Review: "My Hands Came Away Red" by Lisa McKay


Survivor: Mission Trip

Cori just wanted to do something with her life. So the Australian teen decides to join a missions trip for the summer in Indonesia. The plan was to witness to the locals and build them a church. The team was expecting to come back with stories of how they saved the village. Instead they find themselves running for their lives after the pastor of their village is brutally murdered in a religious battle. Cori and the other members of her team plus the pastor's children must find a way to save themselves as they hike through the jungle for help. Along the way they experience trials and tribulations that no one their age should ever face and that will leave them scarred for the rest of their lives.


Word of mouth promotion really does work. That's why I picked up this book, because of all the good reviews I had heard about it. And I was not disappointed at all. This book is intense. The story will linger in your mind for days. It's not a story to enjoy lying on the beach. You need to be in the right frame of mind to read this book.
I've always wanted to go on a missions trip. It is on my list of things to do before I die. So while reading this book, I did get a little of what could happen if I went to someplace like that part of Indonesia. The missionaries who live in remote areas like this are to be commended for the bravery they show trying to spread God's word. The teens in this book are wise beyond their years. I don't know if I could have been as strong as they were if I was put in the same situation. It was heartbreaking to read about the emotional turmoil they were going through just trying to get home. It was just incredible about everything they went through: from seeing killings, running from snakes and wild boars, trying to overcome malaria. It's like an extreme version of Survivor for Christian teens.

Even though the characters in this book are teenagers, the subject matter is quite serious so at least older teens should be reading this. It was also sad to see how the two religions are at wars with each other. It's devastating to read about Christians acting in such a brutal way against others especially since we are taught to love everyone. Obviously those people are not the best representatives of Christianity.
I agree with others that this was one of the best Christian fiction books published in 2007. Lisa McKay has made her mark in the publishing world. I encourage everyone to read to this book. I guarantee it will have a major impact on you.

My Hands Came Away Red by
Lisa McKay is published by Moody (2007)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Book Review: "Crystal Lies" by Melody Carlson


Drugs hurt everyone. Any Questions?

Glennis thought she had the perfect family. She thought everyone was happy and this was the way her life was always going to be. But then she learns her son has a drug addiction. And she will do anything to protect him and help him out. However, her husband wants nothing to do with him because it will harm his career. Her daughter blames her brother and mother for everything bad happening in the family. The family because ripped apart and soon Glennis finds out there's nothing she can do about it.

Are you a fan of happy books that sugar coat life and make you feel warm and cozy inside? Well then you will be in for a shock after reading this book. I'm not an expert on crystal meth so I learned a lot from reading this book. Reading about how the family got torn apart because of the drug addiction was very difficult. Everyone turns against each other, the family didn't have a good sense of unity. Since I've read many Melody Carlson books, I was prepared for a gritty, realistic story that would not hide back any details. Well reading this book was like a punch in the gut. The scene where Glennis finds the stash of needles under Jacob's bed and he keeps lying to her about them was very emotional. You really could feel her character wanting to break down at that point.

Now there were times during the book where I wanted to yell at Glennis because she kept ignoring the signs of her son's addiction. Of course I know as a parent, there are times where you turn a blind eye because you want to see the best in your kids. It just made the story sadder because things could have been prevented if people had just noticed earlier.
I think the best thing about this book is how realistic it is. There is a note in the beginning of the book where the author writes about how she knows what it's like first hand to be the mother of an addict. I believe this book should be read by everybody. It's a heart wrenching tale but the events mentioned take place every day. It's a sobering (no pun intended) read will really shake you up. VERY HIGHLY recommended.

Crystal Lies by Melody Carlson is published by Waterbrook (2004)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Book Review: "Happily Even After" by Marilynn Griffith and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Wednesday, January 16. Good luck!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Happily Even After (#3 - Sassy Sistahood Series)

(Steeple Hill January 1, 2008)

by

Marilynn Griffith



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marilynn Griffith is mom to a tribe, wife to a deacon and proof that God gives second chances. While best known for her colorful novels about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn is also a speaker and nonfiction writer.

Her nonfiction has been included in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN'S SOUL and several other devotionals and magazines. Currently, Marilynn is editor of the SISTAHFAITH:BELIEVING BEYOND SHAME anthology. She is also the founder of Faithchick.com, a blog for faith fiction readers.

Marilynn is the author of six novels dealing with issues such as teen pregnancy, AIDS, abstinence, stress relief, single parenting and marriage. Her recent fiction titles include TANGERINE and IF THE SHOE FITS.

Marilynn has served as Vice President and Publicity Officer of American Christian Fiction Writers. She speaks to youth, women and writers about believing beyond boundaries and daring to reach dreams.

Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and seven children whom she taught at home for seven years. When not chasing toddlers, helping with homework or trying to find her husband a clean shirt, she can be found scribbling furiously on her next novel.

To book Marilynn for media interviews, speaking engagements, Serious Fun fiction parties or book club call-ins, please contact her thru her WEBSITE.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Superwoman doesn't live here!

I marry a gorgeous executive, have a baby, lose all the weight (most of it), and move to a fine house in the suburbs with a welcoming new church. Wait...did I say welcoming?

One teeny waaah! and new mothers and their crying babies are exiled to a separate room. At least there's some enlightening conversation. Like about my husband and issues I didn't even know about!

And then there's my aptly named mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, who can't stand me.

I'm about to lose my mind! So it's high time for a visit to the Sassy Sistahood for some much-needed advice about men, marriage and motherhood!

The Sassy Sistahood: They get by with a little help from their friends.


Will the real Queen please stand up?

I had said before that I thought If the Shoe Fits was my favorite Marilynn Griffith book. Well I have now changed my mind. This was her best book yet. The story is great, the characters multi-dimensional, and a plot that will make you mull over about for days later. I really liked Tracey's character. She's a great mom and she keeps trying to be a good wife and daughter in law but no matter what she does it's not good enough. I would have been totally frustrated if I was her. I loved her scenes in her bathroom. It's nice to read there are others who like to escape reality every now and then to help themselves relax.


Ok I will not lie. I hated Queen Elizabeth's character at first. I know that there are some mother in laws that have difficulties with their only son marrying, but seriously she was way out of whack. It hurt every time she criticized Tracey especially about her weight. I wanted to applaud the doctor who told her to get out of the room because she was hurting the baby with her words.
And I hated that Ryan would not stand up for Tracey. It really bugs me about guys who let their mothers control them and will not protect their wives. Why get married in the first place if you want your mom to keep taking care of you? But when you find out why everyone acts that way, it brings a whole new light to the story. I'm glad though that while Tracey does forgive, it doesn't end with her being the one that apologizes. I hate books that end where the character that gets abused is the one that has to "learn to love and forgive." This was way more realistic. I also enjoyed the tidbit about church politics. It's always interesting to see how people sometimes forget the real reason why they go to church. It shouldn't be about who's better than everyone and where everyone sits. I'm really sad the series is ending. I would have loved to read more about the Sassy Sisterhood. I wish there had been a bit more interaction with the other women, and in this book Austin barely got mentioned at all. I think it would have been fun to read her story as well. However, this is just a really great book to read. It's mom-lit that you can relate to. And even if you're not a mom, a wife or daughter in law you'll find something about this book to enjoy. HIGHLY recommended.

Happily Even After by Marilynn Griffith is published by Steeple Hill (2008)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Book Review: "Mozart's Sister" by Nancy Moser

Mozart: The Untold Story

What would you do if your brother was the most famous musician in all of Europe? And that you had to sacrifice everything from your home to your dreams of becoming a pianist to even the man you love? All that and more happens to Nannerl Mozart, the older sister of THE Mozart. Told from Nannerl's point of view, this historical novel takes the reader on an epic music saga. Heartbreaking and inspiring, it tells the tale of the one of the world's most famous musician from one who both loved and despised him.
Have you seen the movie Amadeus? It is one of the best historical movies I have ever seen. But interestingly, there is no mention (at least that I can remember) of Mozart's sister. Therefore reading this book was like stumbling on a long lost diary. This book is wonderfully written, rich in detail and description. I could see myself visiting all the palaces and different cities with the Mozart family.

This would have been sibling rivalry at its finest. I totally sided with Nannerl throughout the whole book. Her brother made it very difficult for her to be happy with her life. Everything that she wanted had to be put aside to help her brother become famous. I really thought it was sad that she could not do what her brother did simply because she was a girl. The unfairness of everything for Nannerl is just painful. I also really felt sorry for her mother who had to sacrifice everything for her son and husband. What I liked about the book was that even though Nannerl had to show her love and support for her brother, we also can see how she struggled with having total allegiance with him. Reading about how she was mad and angry with the men in her life made her seem like a real person. Nancy Moser has written an excellent work of historical fiction. Between this book and Just Jane, she has proven herself to be an outstanding name in this genre. I would love to see this book made into a movie. Highly recommended for music and history fans.

Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser is published by Bethany House (2006)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Review: The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka




The perfect book for all those Narnia/Pirates fans

Packer wants to help out his village whose economy is declining. He stows away on the pirate ship The Trophy Chase in hopes of bringing them to hunt the Firefish. What he doesn't expect is nearly drowning, being brought back to life by a notorious swords woman or having his faith seriously tested. Meanwhile, the girl he loves and left back at home, refuses to stay behind. Panna leaves her home to find Packer and gets caught up in adventures of her own. Sword fighting, carnivorous fish and angry pirates all await you inside this whale of a tale story.

Are you a Pirates of the Caribbean fan? Do you dream of swashbuckling on the high seas, fighting sea monsters and seek the thrill of adventure? Well then this is the perfect book for you. Wow this book was just action packed from the get go. I loved Packer's character right from the beginning. He's an excellent swordsman who could probably kill just about anyone he meets but his strong faith in God keeps him from turning to the dark side. I loved how he was the character that just couldn't die, even to the point where the other characters complain about how he keeps coming back to them. Panna is a great character as well because she refuses to stay behind and wait for her man. She goes out and tries to find Packer and gets into adventures of her own. When she meets Talon, it is interesting because the two are polar opposites. Talon is actually quite a complex character. We never get to learn her full story but from how she is described she is one of those characters you can't get enough of. I liked that how even though she is female, she is an excellent swords woman and feared by many.

The parts where the crew is battling the firefish brought to mind scenes from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where the ship battles the sea serpent. Reading from the fish's point of view was a unique concept. Although it sort of makes me queasy to think that the fish like eating each other (what's to stop it from eating itself?) I'm not a regular fantasy reader but I enjoyed the mention of God. He's treated the same as in this world, so it's possible to see how this story could have really happen long ago on the high seas. This book will be a surprise hit for many readers. I really think guys will like this book, there's plenty of action and sword fighting for them. I thought this was an excellent book, I did not want it to end. Thank goodness there are two more books in the series. HIGHLY recommended. Read it or be prepared to walk the plank!


The Legend of the Firefish by
George Bryan Polivka is published by Harvest House (2007)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Movie Review: "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"

The first National Treasure movie, I adored. Action packed, funny, Indiana Jones like and with Sean Bean in it to boot! Plus it made me glad to be a history major because it was one of the few movies that made learning and knowing history not geeky. I love American history so it was awesome to see a movie glorifying this. So when I saw there was a sequel coming out I wanted to see it. In fact it was the only movie I wanted to see this 2007 holiday season (a very dismal selection this year I might add).

This movie going experience was heightened by the fact that the first trailer was for the upcoming Prince Caspian movie! May cannot come fast enough. That movie looks SOOO good. And then Indiana Jones comes out the week after. Are they trying to kill me??

Anywho on to the actual movie. I absolutely loved it. History and conspiracy theories equal an awesome movie. The writing has moved up a notch and it shows with the fast pace action and script that does not leave one boring moment in this movie. I can't even being to describe what goes on in without spoiling it. There were scenes where I laughed, cringed, held my breath in fear, and want to cheer. The acting is wonderful. You know have 3 Academy Award winners in this movie with Helen Mirren joining the cast. I thought she was an excellent addition to the cast. I wish Jon Voight would go more movies like this instead of stupid stuff like Baby Geniuses 2. Nicolas Cage is alright, he's not really my idea of a dreamboat but I loved him in this movie. The scene where he takes the police photo is a hoot. And Riley! I love Riley!!! He's so cute!!!! Ed Harris is perfect as the bad guy with a twist. And Abigail has the coolest job in the world, that is now my goal in life with my history major is to have a job like hers.

It's so cool that I've actually been to the places shown in this movie. I don't know if they used and filmed at the actual Library of Congress or other famous DC places. But the scene where they entered the LOC with the ceilings, I just about geeked because I went there for the first time this year and it looked just like that. Of course they fibbed about how easily you could get into the actual stacks but it's a movie of course.

I think the best part of the movie is that it is PG. There is no cursing at all in this movie, no sex, no drugs or alcohol. The violence is action packed but not bloody or gory. And guess what? People actually liked it! I wish more movie makers would get this into their heads. You can make a wonderful movie, a PG movie even, that people will flock to see.

My only complaint with this movie is that I don't know what was on page 47. I will have to wait until National Treasure 3 comes out and I will definately be in line to see that one. Thank goodness for the joys of learning history.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Book Review: "Moon White" by Melody Carlson




Spiritual Confusion

Heather is spiritually curious. The death of her mom has caused her to be unaware of where to turn to. Her stepmother influences to open her mind and become more aware of her aura. This leads to Heather becoming interested in Wicca. After going to a bookstore which specializes in the Occult, Heather is now studying spells, buying idols and is thinking about becoming a witch. Attending a seminar about Wicca only encourages her more to learn about this new way of thinking. But while her Christian friends are urging her to turn away from this, Heather is only more drawn to a way of thinking that can help her get over the pain and guilt of losing her mother.

I like to learn. And I like it when I read a book and learn new things. This book was very fascinating to read because for once I was clueless about the subject matter. Other than my Harry Potter geekness, I have no knowledge of Wicca, the Occult or magic in general. So while reading this book I managed to learn quite a bit of info that I normally wouldn't look up myself. Melody Carlson writes about subjects that teens regularly face every day. This book deals with a subject matter that many Christians will not deal with because they are uncomfortable with it. Most of the time they don't even know with what they are dealing with. This book helped me to learn so that if I ever meet up with someone who is going through what Heather did, I'll know what to do. It's a very intense book. The scene where Heather has the dream that stays into reality is super scary. It gave me chills reading it and made me want to turn the lights on in my room.

What I did really appreciate is that the story is told from the POV of someone who isn't a Christan and therefore is not judgmental. Heather does have Christian friends who pray for her. While there is a mindset that condemns everything she does it is shown how this is not the best way for Christians to act. I think this story will appeal highly to teens. This book shows them the Truth but it also shows what will happen if you turn to other ways to fulfill your spiritual needs. Because of the intense subject matter in this book, I would recommend it for older teens on up. Actually I think adults should read this book too. Melody Carlson proves once again why when you think YA fiction, you think her name.


Moon White by Melody Carlson is published by NavPress (2007)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Book Review: "A Daughter's Inheritance" by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller


Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Fanny Broadmoor is enjoying life on the Thousand Islands on her grandparents estate. She's living a life of luxury along with her cousins Amanda and Sophie. There's also a hint of a forbidden romance with Michael, the family boat keeper. But all that changes when her grandfather dies and Fanny's inheritance is thrown into chaos due to her uncle's greedy control. Will she able to gain control of what is rightfully hers or will her uncle's lecherous ways leave Fanny with nothing to her name?

The writing duo of Peterson and Miller has turned out another historical fiction series. I really liked their other two series about the Lowell mills so I was looking forward to their latest release. I enjoyed reading about what it was like to be in high class society in the 1800s. It was fun reading about living in a rich resort for vacations, going to balls, wearing fancy dresses, having picnics and not having to worry about the outside world. The three Broadmoor cousins are all very interesting because the girls are all different in how they think and act. Fanny is a character where she's very independent in how she acts but because of propriety and deference to her age she has to do what everyone else wants her to do. I didn't particularly enjoy Jonas' character. He seems to be only in it for the money and does despicable things to get it. He doesn't care about his niece's welfare or even his own daughter. It'll be interesting to see what happens to him in future books. Luckily this is the first book in a series because the ending does leave you hanging quite a bit. I'm looking forward to reading about what happens to Fanny and Michael's relationship as well as the adventures of the other Broadmoor cousins. Another fine effort from Peterson and Miller.

A Daughter's Inheritance by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller is published by Bethany House (2008)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Abandoned Identity by Tamara Tilley

Happy New Year! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!





This month's feature author is:





and her book:


Abandoned Identity
Evergreen Press (AL) (August 1, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hooray! Tamara is one of our very own FIRST members!

She resides with her husband, Walter, and their children, John, Christopher, and Jennifer, at Hume Lake Christian Camps in the Sequoia National Forest. They have served on full-time staff and ministered at Hume for 13 years.

Tamara manages one of the retail stores at Hume Lake, which serves thousands of kids visiting the conference center on a daily basis.

Not only does she write, she is also an avid reader and enjoys other hobbies such as scrapbooking, designing greeting cards and invitations, and enjoying God's creation from her from porch.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The young, blond woman stepped off the elevator, rushed past the receptionist, and quickly headed down the hallway.

“Jennifer, Mr. Lynch is looking for you,” Doris called after her.

Jennifer didn’t stop to acknowledge the message. She didn’t have time. She could hear the warning in Doris’ tone. Mr. Lynch was looking for her, knowing she was late returning from lunch. This could very well be her last day at Weissler and Schuler.

She glanced at her watch as she threaded her way through the multitude of workstations. She moved as quickly as she could, even though she knew her efforts were probably for nothing—after all, late was late. He would assume she had done it on purpose and would make good on his threat from the previous week. Lynch had given her two weeks to change her attitude or she would be fired.

She hurried past his office door, hoping against hope that she would be able to slip by without being noticed. A sideways glance told her otherwise. She continued towards her own office, knowing he would be quick on her heels. She had struggled all morning, trying to do her work, trying to keep it together, but with the way she was feeling, her resolve was beginning to crumble. She’d only had enough time to slip off her jacket before she heard his booming voice in the hallway.

“Ms. Patterson, you of all people should not be abusing time restrictions. A one-hour lunch is a one-hour lunch, not an hour and 25 minutes,” he scolded her loud enough so everyone could hear him as he made his way down the hall toward her office.

Jennifer hung up her coat and purse on the rack behind her door and slumped in the overstuffed sofa that filled her office. She braced herself for the inevitable.

“You knew we needed to get started on the Yomahama account first thing after lunch,” he said as he entered her office and firmly shut the door. “Obviously you don’t care about this account as much as you say you do.” He was poised for her counterattack but was surprised instead to hear her soft apology.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could make it home and back again. But with the snow, and the traffic, and the way I’m . . .”

What’s the use explaining, she thought to herself. He doesn’t care. She had just given him the excuse he was looking for. She figured she would be packing up her personal items in less than an hour. She took a deep breath, her eyes focused downward. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”

Harrison was taken aback. In the short time he’d known Jennifer, she had never apologized for her actions. Everything she did was intentionally antagonistic toward him. But somehow he sensed a difference in her mood.

“What’s wrong?” he bristled, not really wanting to hear her excuse.

She glanced up at his imposing figure but lowered her eyes to the floor as she spoke. “I tried to kick something all weekend. I guess I’m just not feeling up to par.”

He said nothing, waiting for her to make eye contact with him. She stiffened her back, sighed and said, “It won’t happen again.”

Had she brushed a tear from her cheek? Not possible, he thought to himself. Jennifer Patterson was tough as nails. She would never lower herself to tears in the workplace . . . that was unless she really was ill.

He waited again for her to look up at him, and when she did, he was met with vacant eyes, pallid skin, and beads of sweat that were starting to form on her brow. Just then, the intercom system went off. “Mr. Lynch, Mr. Yomahama is on the line. Shall I put him through to Miss Patterson’s office or your own?”

Obviously Doris knew where to find him because of the scene he had just made. He walked around to the front of Jennifer’s desk and cleared his voice before pushing the intercom button. “I’ll take it in my office, Doris. Give me a minute to get there.”

Lynch gave Jennifer one last stern look and then marched from her office, shutting her door with a little more force than necessary.

She collapsed against the cushions, her strong exterior completely dissolving. She had done everything she could to hold back her tears in his presence, but his quick exit allowed her to unleash the torrent she had been suppressing.

She had never felt this horrible before in her life. She would’ve called in sick if it weren’t for the fact that she knew her job was in jeopardy. It isn’t fair, she thought to herself. I should have Lynch’s job. For the hundredth time Jennifer went over in her mind the scenario that had taken her completely by surprise.

She had been groomed for the director’s position by Meg, long before Meg left to start a family. Jennifer had put in countless hours on different accounts to make sure her and Meg’s statistics had been well researched and presented in a polished manner. She had done the bulk of Meg’s work, along with her own, as Meg progressed into her third trimester. It simply wasn’t fair!

The day corporate brought in Harrison Lynch and announced he would be the new director, instead of her, she was livid. She felt demeaned and unappreciated. Everyone in the office knew she had worked hard for the job and had deserved it. But corporate behaved in their typical chauvinistic manner and took the opportunity to replace Meg with a man instead of another woman. Testosterone was the only asset that Harrison Lynch had that she did not.

While the other women in the office were quick to overlook the injustice of the situation because of Harrison’s availability, good looks, and charismatic personality, she only saw him as a thorn in her side.

She would only be fooling herself if she said she didn’t see his appeal. He was older than she was—the classic tall, dark, and handsome type. His sparkling brown eyes and wavy brown hair gave him a boyish charm, but his stature and muscular body proved him to be anything but boyish. His enigmatic character made him the kind of man that breezed through life with ease, putting the Midas touch on everything he encountered. But the way he clashed with her, rubbing her the wrong way and always trying to put her in her place, made his good looks less appealing.

Jennifer had butt heads with Harrison ever since he had shown up. She was not afraid to speak out against his proposals or the way in which he supplied information to a client. She had caused him more than one embarrassing moment in important meetings with prospective accounts. She upstaged him with what she called “a more efficient way to gather and record information.” She didn’t think it beneath her to use her feminine mystique with a client in order to work on a case that Lynch would’ve preferred to handle by himself. Lynch had put her on the spot on more than one occasion, but somehow she always came out looking professional in front of the clients.

When she had worked with Meg, Jennifer’s desk was out front with everyone else’s. She liked it that way. She enjoyed working in an environment that buzzed with activity. But Lynch changed all that. He made it very clear that Jennifer was his assistant, and he needed her at his personal disposal. And so he had her move her things into the smaller of the two conference rooms.

Giving Jennifer her own office was not a reward but a sentence. She felt he had isolated her on purpose to break her spirit. It had taken the wind out of her sails for a short period, but she decided two could play at that game. She promptly ordered custom office furniture and personalized the space. What he had intended on being a lonely, sterile environment, she had turned into a showplace of warmth and femininity.

She had one-upped him again and gloated in the fact that he could do nothing about it. After all, he was the one that gave her her own office and the freedom to decorate it the way she wanted. The fact that she did it with pastels in a style she knew he disliked (even though she disliked it too) was icing on the cake. Harrison had declared that an office should reflect professionalism not personality and initially insisted she get rid of everything. His request was denied when Mrs. Weissler came in and admired what she had done with the old conference room. With Mrs. Weissler on her side, Jennifer had once again thwarted Lynch’s authority.

Lynch had finally had enough. He called her into his office a week earlier and lowered the boom. “I’m giving you two weeks notice.”

“You’re firing me?” Jennifer was floored. Though she knew that he disliked her as much as she disliked him, he would have to explain to corporate why he was letting such a valuable employee go.

“No, I’m not firing you . . . yet.” He was cool and calm as he sat behind his solid oak desk. “I’m giving you two weeks to change your attitude. I’m tired of the mind games, the flirting with clients, and the way you insist on making proposals before discussing them with me. Weissler and Schuler should present a united front to all our clients, not a sense of division and indecisiveness. You have two weeks to get on board, assume your position as my assistant, and change your ‘I can top that’ attitude. If you choose not to, you will give me no alternative than to let you go.”

Now, it was just a week later, and Jennifer had given Lynch the perfect opportunity to show corporate that she was not the team player that they had assumed her to be. Corporate was breathing down everyone’s neck about the Yomahama account. It meant millions to them if they could seal the deal. If they felt she hadn’t given it her all, they would allow Lynch to have his way, no questions asked.

Jennifer sobbed into the arm of the floral couch that she despised. She thought about all the ways she had tried to make work uncomfortable for Harrison Lynch but knew she had failed. On occasion, he had tried joking with her and having innocuous conversations, but she would have none of it. She wouldn’t accept the olive branch that he tried to extend to her. Now he would have the last laugh, and it would be her own fault.

The door swung open once again. Harrison was poised and ready to battle with her, only to find her hunched over, her head in her hands and tears falling onto her charcoal colored slacks.

He felt uncomfortable finding her in such a vulnerable position. The all-business exterior he had resolved to use with her now took a back seat to the compassionate Harrison that others had seen. He stood for a moment before taking a seat on the couch alongside her and waited for her to gather her composure. It took several minutes before she could speak.

“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the energy.” She rubbed at her aching brows and sniffled. “You’ll have the files for the Yomahama account on your desk by the end of the day, and I’ll clean out my things. You can do what you want with the furniture. I don’t want it.” She held her head like she was afraid it was going to snap off her neck.

Harrison just sat there, not saying a thing. Jennifer wished he would just leave. She felt defeated and humiliated. He’d gotten his way; he’d won. With the experience she’d gained at Weissler and Schuler, she’d have no problem getting a job elsewhere, so she resolved to give up without a fight. Her only desire right then was to get home before her head exploded.

It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. “What have you taken for it?”

“What?” She was confused. There was no smugness to his tone. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, he actually sounded concerned. She didn’t dare look at him. Just lifting her head would hurt too much.

“Is it a cold or the flu?”

“A cold,” she answered, wondering why he was being so nice. It was a trait she didn’t think he was capable of, at least not with her. He got up and left the room without saying another word.

She glanced at his receding steps, totally confused. She grabbed a tissue from her purse and tried to wipe away the salty tears and runny nose that was moistening her lips. She gently rolled her head back against the couch and sighed heavily, thankful for the solitude. It didn’t last long; within minutes, Harrison was back.

He sat down alongside her, causing her head to sway and a small moan to escape her lips. He handed her a glass that was fizzing, along with several pills. “Here’s something for your headache, a decongestant, and a bi-carbonate. They should do the trick.”

“No thanks,” she said through closed eyes. “I can’t take pills. They knock me out and make my head swim. Besides, I still have too much work to do. I don’t have time to pass out.”

“The way I see it, you’re already wasted. You’re no good to me like this. Take these, and in an hour you’ll feel a lot better. I guarantee it. We’ll work on the Yomahama account then.”

“I should have known you wouldn’t let me die quietly,” Jennifer retorted, looking at the pills he was still holding. “And if I don’t take your concoction?”

“Then I’ll have to assume the Yomahama account isn’t as important to you as I gave you credit for, and I’ll get Jerry to work on it with me instead.”

“Jerry!” She sat up, her head throbbing with disapproval. She slowly lowered herself back to the comfort of the couch, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “There’s no way I’m going to let Jerry take all my research and screw it up.”

“Okay, then. I guess you’ll have to do it my way,” he said. “Take these, dim the lights, and allow yourself some sleep. Don’t worry about watching the clock. I’ll come and get you in about an hour.”

Jennifer realized it was no longer a suggestion. Harrison put the pills in her hand and waited for her to drink them down with the bi-carbonate.

She tossed them to the back of her throat and held her breath as she drank the fizzy water. She knew she had to do it in one swig, or it would never stay down. Her shoulders shuddered in protest, and she thought she saw the hint of a smile form on Harrison’s lips. He pressed the button for the automatic shades to cover her office windows and dimmed the lights. “I’ll check on you in an hour.” With that, he closed the door and left her with her thoughts.

What just happened? she thought to herself. He had the perfect opportunity to fire me, and instead he helped me. Jennifer couldn’t concentrate on figuring out the answer to that one. Her head was throbbing so hard, it was making it impossible for her to reason.

She pulled her feet up under her and allowed her head to rest on the padded arm of the couch. An hour’s sleep, then I’ll be able to push through the rest of the day. She drifted off quickly. She was a lightweight when it came to tolerating medicine, and with the mixture she had just taken, she knew that she would finally get some rest.

Harrison walked back to his office and closed the door. He stood before the expansive window and watched the falling snow blanket the Chicago streets. Jumbled emotions crowded his mind. He was afraid that he’d allowed Jennifer’s weakened state to play on his sympathy, but it wasn’t unlike him. He really was a nice guy. It’s just that since he’d arrived at Weissler and Schuler, he and Jennifer had clashed . . . no, more like collided.

He found out soon enough that she had thought she was a lock for his job because of the work she had done with the previous director. He tried to talk to her about it and let her know he understood her disappointment. When he told her he was excited to be working with such a talented analyst, she only stiffened at his attempt at civility. Her spitefulness and malice made her look so unattractive—nothing like the vulnerable woman he had just left in the darkened office. He finally saw in her what some of the men in the office already had seen. She was a lot more appealing when she wasn’t being conniving or manipulative. With her defenses down, he actually found himself drawn to her, but he was wary that would change as soon as she had her strength back.

HARRISON HAD BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY at his computer when he glanced at his watch. He realized it had been more than an hour since he had left Jennifer in her office. He quietly opened her door and leaned in to see how she was doing. She was curled up on the couch, her face flushed and moist. He moved to her side, leaned down, and carefully placed the back of his hand to her forehead. She was feverish. She stirred under his touch, but her eyes had a difficult time focusing. She looked at Harrison and tried to figure out why she was lying down and why he was hovering over her. She closed her eyes and vaguely remembered being late to work and taking a handful of medicine.

“What time is it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Almost 3:00 p.m.”

“Oh, my gosh.” She tried sitting up as her head spun out of control. “I’ve got to get working. We have the Yomahama meeting tomorrow. We can’t waste any more time.”

Harrison pressed his hands against her shoulders and gently pushed her back against the couch cushions. “You need to rest. Your body is obviously trying to fight something. You have a fever.”

“We don’t have time for this, Mr. Lynch.”

She again moved to a sitting position. She wiped at the perspiration on her forehead and scooped her long blonde hair up into a handful on top of her head. She started pulling at the pink cashmere sweater she was wearing, bellowing it to get some cool air up against her skin. “I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“That’s the fever.”

Before Harrison realized what she was doing, Jennifer reached for the hem of her sweater and began to pull it over her head.

He turned away and sputtered, “What are you doing?”

“If you have a fever, you’re supposed to keep at least one foot and one shoulder exposed to cool air.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s worked before.”

She continued to remove her sweater. Harrison was relieved to see that she was wearing a silky, pink shell underneath the soft sweater. She pulled her black, high heeled boots from her feet and curled up into a fetal position once again.

“You look miserable; you need to go home. This is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get any work done under these conditions,” Harrison added as she tried to get comfortable.

“I’d be fine if my head would just stop pounding, and I wasn’t so hot.”

“Let me call you a cab. You need to go home.”

“No! I can beat this. Let me just rest a little bit longer. If I could just get rid of this headache, I know I could finish our proposal. Please give me another hour.” She was determined to finish what she had started, especially since it could quite possibly be her last account. Harrison was being uncharacteristically nice to her at the moment, but if the Yomahama meeting didn’t go well, she knew she would be the proverbial scapegoat.

Harrison stood with his arms firmly crossed against his chest and doubt in his eyes. He knew from past experience there was no sense arguing with her. Of course, there was nothing that said he was obligated to wake her up either.

“Fine, I’ll see you in about an hour.” He left her office with no intention of disturbing her again. If she had the strength to wake up, she would have to do it on her own.

Although Harrison knew he needed to spend every minute on the Yomahama proposal, he found himself thinking about Jennifer. Why hadn’t he noticed her crystal blue eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw before? Maybe because whenever he talked to her, her eyes were glaring and her jaw was set.

He wandered back into Jennifer’s office around 4:30 p.m. He watched her as she slept. Her breathing was even and her complexion no longer looked flush. His eyes followed the tip of her chin to where it rested near her exposed shoulder. He felt his thoughts wandering in a direction that was far from work related. He had always been cautious to keep his professional life separate from his personal life, but somehow seeing Jennifer in such a vulnerable state also exposed a side of her that was quite beautiful.

He left her office and drifted down the hall. People were beginning to shut down their computers and straighten up their workstations. The talk was all about the snow that had continued to fall throughout the day. The weather report was predicting another foot before morning. Harrison waved goodnight to them as they left and headed back to his office.

Doris followed him down the hall, worry etched on her kind face.

“Mr. Lynch, I’m concerned about Miss Patterson. I know she was awfully sick this morning when she came in, and she didn’t look any better when she returned from lunch. I haven’t seen her since you . . . well, since you spoke with her this afternoon.”

Harrison knew what Doris was alluding to. The way he had barked at Jennifer when she returned from lunch had obviously been heard throughout the office.

“I gave her some medicine earlier today, and it made her pretty sleepy. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”

“Will she be okay to drive herself home? The road conditions have gotten pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry, Doris, I’ll make sure she’s okay before she leaves.”

“Okay, I was just concerned. She really is a sweet girl; she just comes off a bit harsh sometimes.”

“Harsh? That’s an understatement!”

Doris just smiled. “Well, good night, Mr. Lynch.”

“Good night, Doris, and thank you for your concern.”