Saturday, July 29, 2017

Grounded Hearts - My Review

I enjoy purchasing historical books, and I love reading about fictional characters set in non-fictional worlds.  That is what Jeanne Dickson did with her book Grounded Hearts.  This story is set in Ireland during the days of World War II.  Each character within the pages of this book plays a vital role in either helping or hurting the war effort.  It is interesting to observe how certain individuals reject their place in the war--they want to remain neutral.  While others are willing to do whatever they can to help aid someone they barely know--someone who is fighting with the Allies.  Nan O'Neil finds herself in a precarious predicament when a man knocks on her door one night.  She never could have predicted what her future would hold in those first few moments of meeting Dutch Whitney. 

Nan is from Ireland, and she is the town midwife.  After coming to the rescue for so many of the women in her village, she holds the respect of each one of her patients and their families.  Therefore, it is no surprise that so many of these women rescue her in the end.  Even though Nan lives quite simply, her needs are met, and she is content to live out her days alone--except for being in the company of a lovely cat named Mr. Dee.  However, Nan holds a dark secret close to heart.  Something she cannot seem to forgive herself for, because she believes it to be an unforgivable act.  It will take a new friend in her life to convince her otherwise. 

Dutch Whitney call Canada home, but for now his home is in the sky.  He is an RAF pilot--a "flyboy."  Unfortunately, unforeseeable events in his life move him to another location--Ireland.  In an attempt to run for cover, he meets a young woman who will change his life forever.  This one woman confuses him and angers him, yet he cannot help but be grateful for her care.  She and so many others put their life and reputations on the line for him, which is a debt he feels he can never repay. 

As a reader, you will encounter so many moments of conflict, but this type of suspense will make it impossible for you to put this book down.  You will be on the edge of your seat hoping Dutch will not be caught...hoping Nan will not go to jail...wondering what will become of the other characters in this town.  Every emotion is touched on, and every aspect of a person's character is revealed.  This historical story will touch your heart, because it will shine a light on those that fought and died during World War II.  It will also showcase real people who lived and worked during this era, which is why I love reading historical fiction.  If you enjoy history, then you will love this book.  Happy reading!  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Litfuse for my copy.  

About The Book

*In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she’ll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.

But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband’s death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.

About The Author 

Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. Her grandmother lived with them and was a constant source of stories about life in Ireland and the saints and ancestors long gone from this earth. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling.

Visit her at

Friday, July 28, 2017

First Line Fridays

This week my first line comes from a new book that I just downloaded to my Kindle.  Thank you to Sydney at Singing Librarian for posting the covers of these books to your Instagram account this week.  :)  I purchased all three books yesterday, and I cannot wait to read each one.  As most know, I love mysteries, and this trilogy of books are the perfect addition to my mystery collection.  The book I am featuring today is book three from this series.

As always, please be sure to check out the book lines from these other amazing bloggers too: 

Sydney from Singing Librarian
Rachel from Bookworm Mama
Andie from Radiant Light
Katie from Fiction Aficionado
Kathleen from Kathleen Denly
Lauraine from Lauraine's Notes 
Trisha from Joy of Reading
  Jane from C Jane Read  
Christina from Moments Dipped in Ink 
Molly from Cafinated Reads
Anna from Romances of the Cross 

And I want to welcome Rebecca and Iola to the First Line Fridays fun!   

Iola from Iola Goulton  

Click the links above to be taken to their posts and...
If you would like to join us, send Carrie a message and let her know!

​Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

Lemon Tart Mystery 
by Naomi Miller 

And the first line is...

"Thursday started out as a normal day for Katie Chupp.  As always, she left home just before sunrise, heading toward the small town located not far from her family's farm." 

Happy reading and happy Friday!  


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

His Steadfast Love - Spotlight Book Tour

Series: Isle of Hope
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Christian
Publisher: Indie
Publication date: August 1. 2017

She’s bent on fun.
He’s bent on faith.
Till true love bridges the gap.

Cat O’Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever. 
Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home. 

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list.

Julie’s most recent novel, Isle of Hope was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2014. Her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at

1-How many novels have you written?  Are all of them published?
Yes, every one of the 19 books I have written — thirteen novels, five novellas, and one writer’s workbook — are all published, nine traditionally and nine independently. Sometimes I wish I had a ton of unpublished manuscripts under my bed like many authors do so that I could polish and publish them on my own. But I don’t because the first book I ever wrote — A Passion Most Pure — was published by Revell along with eight subsequent books in three series, so I guess I can’t really complain.

2-What is your current WIP?  What can you tell us about this project?
Well, my current WIP is book 3 in my Isle of Hope Series, His Steadfast Love, which sadly enough for me, is the final book in this contemporary series that I have really grown to love. It’s the story of a prodigal and a pastor thrown together by family and by God, creating quite a few sparks on the Isle of Hope. Here’s the jacket blurb:

She’s bent on fun.
He’s bent on faith.
Till true love bridges the gap.

Cat O’Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever.

Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home.

3-What inspired the idea for His Steadfast Love?
Well, the entire Isle of Hope series was inspired by my own dysfunctional relationship with my estranged dad, in which God taught me how to really forgive. Book 1, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love (which is now on e-sale for 99 cents, by the way, and its prequel novella, A Glimmer of Hope, is available for FREE DOWNLOAD), was basically a therapy session for me and admittedly, one of the most important books I’ve ever written.
Prior to writing it, God brought me to a place where He asked me to step away from business as usual to take a sabbatical to focus more on Him, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing. So I told my publisher I wouldn’t be pitching any new books or series for a while. During that time I wrote Isle of Hope instead, and from there, books 2 and 3 just flowed from my pen as easily as forgiveness from my heart once God taught me how to let go.

That’s a roundabout way to get to your question of what inspired the idea for His Steadfast Love, but truly, I just saw Cat’s story as the culmination of a series on forgiveness. I had a strong sense from the beginning that this book would have a deep spiritual impact on readers, so I was really excited about that. But when I got around to writing the final four chapters, I’ll admit that I was disappointed in the spiritual takeaway. So much so, that I hit the wall and couldn’t finish those last four chapters.

So I prayed hard for God to give me a powerful wrap-up, and BOOM! Just like that (well, it took a couple of days), God brought a memory back to me that I’d forgotten, a second HUGE lesson on forgiveness that literally changed my life. It involved a hidden bitterness for my baby sister whom I loved with all my heart and soul, just like Cat loves her twin sister Shannon, so I never really knew it was there. But just because we don’t know a sin is there doesn’t stop the stronghold it has in your life, a lesson that I — and Cat — had to learn all too well.  

4-What do you want readers to take away from reading His Steadfast Love?
Besides the usual wisdom of purity before marriage that God taught this 70’s wild child way back when, there is the deep, deep message of buried bitterness in people’s lives that needs to be addressed in order for that person to really be free in Christ. That’s what I hope this book truly imparts to everyone who reads it.

5-What other “hats” do you wear other when you are not writing?
Mmm … hats, huh? Well, I don’t physically wear many hats, but I do love being a wife, mom, and grandmother (aka Juju), which are the true highlights of my life. But I also really enjoy hobnobbing with neighbors and friends since we live on a lake and only see most of them on weekends. And although I am not athletic at all, my husband has been nudging me into kayaking, biking, swimming, and boating, so this summer has been really fun.

Top 10 Favorite Pieces of Literature

​1.) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
2.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
4.) Sins of the Father by Susan Howatch
5.) Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
6.) Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt
7.) Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt
8.) Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs
9.) Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers
10.) Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz

1.) Book 1, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love is loosely based on how God healed my own dysfunctional relationship with my father.

2.) Like IOH’s secondary hero, Ben Carmichael, my father was also a surgeon and a recluse.

3.) My dad, like Ben, had a dog named Beau that he took fishing with him.

4.) Like the heroine, Lacey, I also took meals over to my father’s house to try and make amends.

5.) And like Lacey’s situation, my father seldom talked to me when I did bring meals and never hugged me or indicated any love.

6.) Like the series’ secondary heroine, Tess, I was insanely jealous of boyfriends I dated and made a fool of myself many a time.

7.) The peach crumble pie Mamaw made was my favorite pie I made when I was young.

8.) When I originally wrote Isle of Hope, the O’Bryen’s and Carmichael’s docks were in their back yards, which I had facing the Skidaway River until I discovered during research that all the homes on Bluff Drive (where the O’Bryen’s and Carmichael’s live) face the river from the front of the houses, necessitating a walk across the street to get to each neighbor’s docks.

9.) When I wrote book 3, Cat and Chase’s story, I strongly felt it was going to have huge spiritual impact, but when I came close to the end, I was disappointed in the spiritual takeaway and hit the wall on the last four chapters. So I prayed for God’s anointing and creativity, and BOOM! He reminded me of the 2nd biggest spiritual lesson He ever taught me (the first being about how to forgive as depicted in book 1), so that’s the lesson Cat (and Chase!) learn too in the final chapters of His Steadfast Love, a lesson that literally changed my life.

10.) Lacey’s chocolate chip pie is one of my favorite pies I make today, and here’s the recipe:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pie (makes one pie), 
from: Julie Lessman, serves: 8-10

Cooking time: 350 degrees for 45 minutes or longer. Can leave out or refrigerate.

    1 cup sugar
   ½ cup flour
     2 beaten eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
   1 stick butter
    ¾ cup chopped pecans
    ¾ cup chocolate chips
    1 unbaked pie shell
    Vanilla ice cream and Magic Shell (optional)

Melt butter, cool in fridge while mixing sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla. Mix in butter, then add nuts and chocolate chips. Mix well. Serve on individual plates and microwave each piece for about 30 seconds or until warm. Serve with vanilla ice cream (I streusel Magic Shell over ice cream and top pie with whipped cream and strawberry).

This time he was ready for her, and with an easy twist, he scooped her up and launched her high in the air, her squeals bouncing off the water before she did.

A gush of water plumed, and Chase grinned outright when she shot from the surface, mouth going strong as usual. “Chase Griffin, you are the lowest, sneakiest, most diabolical—”
His laughter rang over the water. “Sorry, Catfish, but ‘diabolical’ belongs to you, kiddo, so I wouldn’t be throwing pitchforks if I were you.”
“And a p-pastor too!” she sputtered, still spitting water out of her mouth.
He cocked a hip on the edge of the board, thumbs hooked into the back pockets of his wet jeans. “That’s right, Catherine,” he said, his grin definitely ‘diabolical,’ “anything you need to get off your chest?”
“Come into the water, Rev, and I’ll show you ‘diabolical.’” She delivered a sweet smile that was anything but, paddling in place with a glint of dare in her eyes.
“Oh, no doubt about that,” he said with a grin, loosely crossing his arms. “But I’ll pass, if you don’t mind, and work on my tan while I fish.”
“Chase Griffin, you are nothing but a wet blanket!” she snapped.
“Yep, thanks to you,” he said with a chuckle, fetching his rod and tackle box and settling into his chair.
Nose in the air, she spun around in a swoosh to head to the neighbor’s dock, her strokes deft and sure like his demise would be if he got into the water with Cat O’Bryen. He was tempted to take a quick dive just to cool off because that minx sure had a way of heating him up, and they were just friends, for pity’s sake. God help him, he couldn’t imagine dating the woman, subject to temptation day in and day out. Those teasing eyes, that sexy smile, her flirtatious ways.
Those come-on kisses …
Heat engulfed him that had nothing to do with the sun beating down and everything to do with the vamp in the water. Although his mind was made up, Cat O’Bryen was too much of what his body and soul craved, and he wasn’t going there again. Ever. Especially not with a woman whose faith was as weak as water.
He glanced up from his tackle box, heart constricting when he saw Cat freeze in the water. “What’s wrong?” He shot to his feet.
“Cramps.” It was a strained response as she maneuvered to a dead-man float.
“Where?” His heart rate took off in a sprint, memories of a SEAL buddy dangerously compromised on a mission from severe abdominal cramps.
“Left leg.” Her voice matched the grimace on her face. “I’ll be fine … I’ll just wait it out.”
“Grab your toes on the cramped leg and pull toward you,” he ordered, gaze pinned to her body for any sign of distress, “then straighten your leg.”
Face pinched, she did as he instructed, her groans hitching his pulse. “Never this bad before …”
That’s all it took. The tackle box hit the weathered wood with a hard clunk as Chase dove from the dock, arriving by her side in mere seconds. “Any better?” He watched while she continued pulling and stretching, his breathing heavy as he hovered close, finally catching his breath.
“I’m not sure …” she said in a weak voice.
And then she lunged, stealing his air all over again when she brought him down, submerging him with a power that belied her small size. “No, wait …” She bolted away when he hit the surface, coughing up water. “Yes, definitely better now.” Her giggles bounced off the lake as she swam for the shore, arms slicing through the water with an efficiency that would outdistance most people.
But he wasn’t most people. He was a seasoned professional.
With a store of adrenalin usually reserved for workouts at the gym, work days at Lake Loon, or dangerous missions overseas, Chase easily overtook her mere feet from the sandy shore, clamping onto her foot to reel her in hard. One arm latched to her waist, he handily dunked her with the other, her shrieks and giggles lost in a tide pool of bubbles and foam. Quickly lurching her back up, he chuckled low in her ear as she kicked and squealed in his arms. “I thought I told you never to mess with an ex-Navy SEAL, Catfish,” he said with a husky chuckle, soundly dousing her all over again.
He released her, and she literally exploded from the water, twisting in the air like some headstrong sea nymph, taking him down with a grunt as she clung stubbornly to his head.
And didn’t let go.

They burst from the water as one, her body welded to his as she death-gripped his hair, obviously intent on one more plunge.
But the only thing that plunged was his gut when their eyes locked, the laughter in her face dissolving into something far softer and warm while her ragged breathing mated with his. Her gaze dropped to his mouth, and a tidal wave of want surged through his body, taking him down as easily as Cat had done with her well-placed dunking.
She absently licked her lips, and his stomach cramped with need as he fought the pull of her parted mouth, her shallow breathing in dangerous sync with his own. His eyelids felt as heavy as if he were drugged, arms slowly curling around her waist like they had a mind of their own. And God help him, they did, because he had little control as they drew her close, luring his mouth to hers with a low, aching moan.
She tasted like sheer heaven as he nuzzled the lips he’d dreamed about since the night she had kissed him in her room. Forcing himself to take it slow, he caressed her mouth with all the tenderness that swirled inside for a lost, little girl named Cat. But the moment a soft mew left her lips, he was a goner, his groan hoarse as he delved in to explore with a passion too long denied.
And that’s when he knew.
He was dead in the water.