Monday, June 24, 2013

Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater

During my free time over the last couple of weeks, I reread Jenna’s Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater. I really enjoyed this book the first time, as I did this time. My sister was surprised I was reading it again since my stack of unread books looms so tall. I must admit, I was a bit surprised myself. The reason I picked up this book again is for research. My current work-in-progress (WIP) deals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a big topic in Jenna’s Cowboy. I wanted to make sure my story didn’t echo the same ideals as Sharon’s. Thankfully, our stories are completely different. (If they weren’t, I would have helped myself to a good dose of rewrites.)

Jenna’s Cowboy is the story of Jenna Callahan Colby, a single mother who is trying to find her way in the world again after her husband left her. When Nate Langley returns from war and takes her up on a job offer, Jenna realizes he’s battle-scarred . . . and just as attractive as he was in high school, if not more so. Nate struggles with PTSD and the effects it has on his mind. In fact, he wonders if he’ll ever remember what normal looks like. Will the two of them discover a way to love each other around the struggles they both face? Or will their fears block the way to their chance at a happy ending?

This story is set in west Texas. It’s neat for me to read stories set in Texas since that’s the state I’m from. Recognizing town names (such as Odessa and Dallas) is always fun, and it means so much more when you’ve been to them. It makes it easier to connect with the story when you know exactly where on the map it takes place. Even more so, when you can draw upon your memories of a place to make it more realistic in your mind.

The character Nate and the difficulties he faced drew up a deep empathy within me. He was so believable, I felt like he was real. My heart really went out to him, especially when Dub told Jenna, “War changes men, honey. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not.” I think having a character in my own story go through similar things (flashbacks and new fears) added to my reading experience this time around. It lent me an even greater understanding of how difficult coming home from war really must be.

Sharon, thank you for such a sweet tale of love and dealing with deep-rooted fears. It touched my heart both times I read it. The Callahans of Texas series remains a go-to for me when I need a comfort read.

To visit Sharon and learn more about her books, please visit her website ( or visit her on Facebook (!/sharon.gillenwater2?fref=ts). I know she’ll love hearing from you!

Readers, when you’re in need of a comfort read, which book do you choose?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lakeside Family by Lisa Jordan

When faced with no other option, Josie Peretti tracks down her ex-boyfriend and begs for his help for their daughter. The only problem is she thought he knew about Hannah, but Nick Brennan claims he never heard she had a child. Josie must decide whether or not to believe Nick’s claims of innocence all while watching her daughter fight for her life. Can she forgive and forget in order to give Nick the chance to get to know the daughter she loves more than life itself? Or will she offer grace too late?

Despite the fact that the main characters had a child out of wedlock, LAKESIDE FAMILY is a sweet and unforgettable story with deep family roots and regrets that will leave your heart aching. Both Josie and Nick long to change things in their past, and the journey that follows is the tale that leads to their reunion and struggle to trust each other with their darkest secrets. This Love Inspired novel wiggled its way into my heart and kept me interested from the first page until the last.

This is Lisa Jordan’s second published novel, and I must say I’m pleased to have won it on an online giveaway. The analogies Lisa used fit right in with the character’s jobs and personalities. Her writing style makes for an easy read that appeals to multiple senses on many levels. I’m eager to see what she’s got planned for her next novel!

With most books I read, Lakeside Family provided hope and encouragement in a discouraging world. I particularly liked what Agnes told Josie on page 15: “See, that’s the great thing about faith—the more you need, the bigger it grows.” When I find myself struggling with the difficulties of life, I can remember that quote and find inspiration to push through the hardest moments. There is relief in knowing God is standing with me, and Lakeside Family is a sweet reminder of this. What inspiration will you find when you read this novel?

Please visit author Lisa Jordan on her website,, or find her on Facebook. If you're a fan of Love Inspired books, I know you'll enjoy Lakeside Family. Reserve your copy today!

How do you face difficult circumstances? Do you try going it alone, or do you cling to your faith in God? Do you ask for advice from trusted family and friends?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Gone South by Meg Moseley

Tish McComb wants to be accepted. When she purchases the home of her great-great-great-grandparents, she thinks “moving to Noble would let her reconnect with her roots, and she could forge new bonds too.”* She couldn’t be more wrong. The people of Noble, Alabama snub her like the Yankee outcast she is. Deciding to give refuge and a second chance to the small southern town’s own prodigal daughter doesn’t help her make any friends, either. The only two things that save Tish from being completely isolated are her spacious garage that antique store owner George Zorbas rents from her and his late mother’s little white Maltese dog who thinks she still lives in the infamous McComb house. Will Tish finally overcome her past and find a place to fit in? Will her houseguest lay down her deceitful habits and earn her family’s respect once again? Will George risk his heart for a Yankee?

The cover of GONE SOUTH is what first snagged my interest. The auburn-haired woman facing away from the camera wears a beautiful vintage black ball gown . . . with modern-day blue jeans underneath. I was immediately intrigued by this unusual combination of clothing. Sometimes covers lead a reader on, but this one did not disappoint.

Meg Moseley crafted a tale of second chances that I could hardly put down. The historical elements perfectly enhanced the contemporary story, and the characters had deep storylines that I enjoyed figuring out along the way. Meg provided enough surprises to keep me guessing at what would happen next. This lady has made her mark on the Christian fiction market. I expect she’ll be around for a long time.

Meg Moseley may be found on Facebook (!/pages/Meg-Moseley/172801566075519?fref=ts) and at her website ( I hope you get a chance to visit her and read one of her books. In fact, you may read chapter one of Gone South here:

Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah, for my copy of Gone South to review.

Has a novel ever inspired you to try something new? Did you try and discover you didn’t have a clue what you were doing? Or did you unearth a new favorite hobby?

*Quote from page 26.

Monday, June 3, 2013


“What inspires the stories you write?”

If someone were to ask you that question, how would you respond?

While contemplating my own response, I grabbed my dictionary, one of my favorite resources when I’m penning a work of fiction. Here’s what I found:

            1. Act of breathing in; specif., the drawing of air into the lungs.
            2. Act or state of being intellectually or emotionally inspired.
            3. Theol., A supernatural influence which qualifies men to receive and communicate
                        divine truth.
            4. Any inspiring influence, person, etc.
(Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1956)

Image courtesy of David Castillo

Jumping to the third definition first, my ultimate inspiration is God. Though it may seem like the expected reaction from a Christian author, it is anything but a pat answer. My relationship with God is where my life begins. Without His guidance and quiet, steady voice, none of my words would have the strength to stand the test of time. They would not hold my readers’ attention, and you would click away from the screen right now. Before I type a single word for any project I work on, I bow my head and pray for the right words to reach the right people in the right way at the right time. Maybe there’s something for you in my writing. Perhaps someone on the other side of the globe will see the precise thing that will touch their heart. In both cases, it isn’t me who’s reaching you. It’s God. He gave me these words to write.

My second source of inspiration fits into the fourth definition. The people around me constantly give me a reason to crank out the words. My students in particular make my creative wheels turn. One of the girls I tutor had her last session of the school year with me recently. All year I’ve seen this youngster’s sweet and caring personality when she eagerly told me all about her two sisters. Sneakiness and mystery surrounded her during her last week in my home when she asked me my favorite color and if I had any of the Willow Tree figurines. I had to chuckle (after she left, of course) at her overt plans for an end-of-the-year gift for me. Her kind gift was filled with thoughtfulness and a heart bigger than Texas, the state we live in. The biggest surprise of it all was that she created her own math problem—and solved it correctly—inside the ‘thank you’ card she included with the figurine. I couldn’t have been more proud of her for applying what she learned from me in such a creative way. Tears stung my eyes as my heart was touched and inspired.

I could go on and on about the various things and people that inspire me—there are so very many. Instead, I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

“Whatever a poet writes with enthusiasm and a divine inspiration is very fine.” ~Democritus

Image courtesy of anankkml/
So, tell me: What inspires YOU?