Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings ~ Review and Litfuse Tour

Love in the BalanceLucie's Review: A rollercoaster of a story.

Goodness this book was quite a tale, and it was interesting to see where it would go because I never could quite guess. When I first picked this book up I thought that it would be a comedy of sorts, but as it progressed Molly's life because more bleak as she struggled to find her way, despite the pressures from her parents and her love, Bailey, and it all just get's even more confusing when a new seemingly dashing rich fellow sweeps into town, tangling the webs even further.

This was a hard read, mostly because I strongly disliked the characters of Molly's parents, because they were so superficial and cared more about appearances and self-importance than about their own daughter and what they push her into. There were times when I didn't like Molly or Bailey either.

In my opinion this book shows the value of not judging people, because you probably don't know the whole story.

Overall, I had a hard time liking this book, but maybe that was because the characters were realistic, and true-to-life. Yeah, we all want the hero to stand up and defend his lady's honor, but sometimes fear the fear of being judged keeps him quiet. There were times when I just didn't want to keep reading because of how bad things had gotten, but at the same I did want to see how they'd get out of the situation they were in. So in conclusion, this book was a roller coaster of emotions, fraught trouble and turmoil, about redemption, but not in dramatic typical novel fashion, but in a more slow realistic process.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

About Love in the Balance:

Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How's a Girl to Choose?
Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey's poor prospects, she just can't fit the two dreams together.
Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town-and her life-and for the first time Molly wonders if she's met the man who can give her everything. But he won't be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can't quite get Bailey out of her mind.
What's a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/iTdiA

Meet Regina:
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

Find out more about Regina at

Check out all of the other great stops on this tour here: http://litfusegroup.com/author/rjennings
Regina Jennings is celebrating the release of Love in the Balance with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party on 4/4!


One "lovely" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire 
  • A copy of Regina's Sixty Acres and a Bride and Love in the Balance
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Love in the Balance" Author Chat Party on April 4th. Connect with Regina, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Love in the Balance and join Regina on the evening of April 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!


So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley ~ Revew

So Shines the Night

My Review:

Surprisingly this is the first book that I have read by Ms. Higley, even though I have a couple of her other titles sitting on my shelf, and now I know why she has so many loyal fans. This book was so well researched and I loved how she wove what the secular world knows of the time period into what was going on at the same time as Biblical events.

Daria is a woman who is privilaged with learning and fluent in multiple languages which was strange for a woman of her times. Daria struggles to find her place in Ephesus, with a merchant called Lucas, but her life is forever changed when she meets the apostle Paul and the followers of The Way.

Overall, a very well written book, and I love how much research was put into the book, and the story moved steadily. The characters were interesting, and I loved seeing Ephesus from Daria's point of view, like seeing another side of history. A grand adventure, set in Biblical times!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas ~ Review

The Sacred Search: What If It's Not about Who You Marry, But Why?

My Review:

I have read many relationship books in my short life, but this one was definitely different from any that I have read so far.

In The Sacred Search Mr. Thomas talks extensively about making the wise choice concerning marriage, an how contrary to popular belief it is not the who but the why. Being in love is all well and good but all to often infatuation masquerades around as love, when in fact it is not.

I found this book very interesting and I found myself agreeing with Mr. Thomas on pretty much all but one thing, and I'll get to that soon. But I loved how Mr. Thomas stressed the importance of not following your heart, but using wisdom and your brain when trying to figure out how compatible you and your significant other really are.

There were a couple things the irked me though, and one of them was how Mr. Thomas seemed to prescribe taking things into your own hands if you are tired of being single and I thought it more than a bit strange when he didn't talk about praying a lot over your decision. It seemed like he was saying that if you marry someone, you should be able to make that decision on your own, and while I don't think that one should wait for "a miracle" but I do believe that if you are truly "seeking first the kingdom of God" that much prayer should be put into the choice, and God will guide your choice. So basically I felt like prayer wasn't stressed anywhere nearly enough, and maybe he was figuring it would be a given or something, but I thought that he should have talked more about that and also used more scripture references.

Overall, this was a great book, that I think is very helpful for looking at a relationship realistically and logically, and avoiding being blinded by infatuation. I think this would be a great addition to your relationship building library, and it definitely made me think very seriously about some things, and I would definitely recommend this book to those already in a relationship or those about to enter one, infact I have already passed it on to my best friend. I think book would be a great tool as a couples reality check, before making the plunge and getting married.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!



So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley ~ FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)

***Special thanks to Tracy L. Higley for sending me a review copy.***


Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com


On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.

She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.

But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.

The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.

When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.

“Meticulously-researched, spellbindingly written with luscious prose and compelling and complex characters.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times best-selling author of Havah: The Story of Eve

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401686826
ISBN-13: 978-1401686826



I am an old man, and I have seen too much.

Too much of this world to endure any more. Too much of the next to want to linger.

And though I have nearly drowned in the glorious visions of those last days, yet I know not when it shall come, nor how many years I must tread this barren earth before all is made new.

There is a Story, you see. And we are still in the midst of it, ever striving to play our roles, battling on for the freedom of hearts and souls and minds yet enslaved by darkness.

But I have seen a great light. Oh yes, I have seen it. Even now it is breaking through, as it did on that grassy hillside so many cool spring mornings ago, when Moses and Elijah walked among us and my Brother shone with the glory He had been given from the beginning and will rise up to claim again at the end.

You will wonder, perhaps, at my calling Him brother. And yet that is what He was to me. Brother and friend, before Savior, before Lord. In those days when we wandered the land, going up and down from the Holy City, we shared our hearts, our lives, our laughter. Oh, how we laughed, He and I! He had the irrepressible joy of one who sees beyond the brokenness, to the restoration of all.

I loved him. And He loved me.

But I speak of beginnings and of endings, and these are words that have no meaning, for the day of His birth was both the beginning of the Kingdom and the end of tyranny, and that magnificent Day yet to come—it is the end-which-is-a-beginning, and my eyes have seen such glory in that New Jerusalem, my very heart breaks to tell of it.

And yet they come, young and old, to this tiny home in Ephesus that is to be my last dwelling outside that New City, and they beg me to tell the Story again and again.

And I do.

I tell of seals and scrolls, of a dragon and a beast and a Lamb. Of music that makes you weep to hear it and streets that blind the mortal eye. Of a Rider on a White Horse with eyes of blazing fire, whose name is Faithful and True. It is a great Story, and greater still to hear the final consummation of it, for how often we forget that we are living it still.

But I have another tale to tell. A smaller story within the One True Story that began before the creation of this world and is echoed at its end, as all our stories are. It happens here, in this port city of Ephesus but many years ago, when the darkness lay even heavier than it now does upon the people, and their souls cried out for relief from anyone who could give it.

This smaller story does not begin here in Ephesus, however. It begins a day’s sail away, on the sun-kissed shores of the Isle of Rhodes, where the light first began to break upon one woman and one man, even as they walked in darkness . . .

Chapter 1

Rhodes, AD 57

In the glare of the island morning sun, the sea blazed diamond-bright and hard as crystal, erratic flashes spattering light across Daria’s swift departure from the house of her angry employer.

She carried all she owned in one oversized leather pouch, slung over her shoulder. The pouch was not heavy. A few worn tunics and robes, her precious copy of Thucydides. She clutched it to her side and put her other hand to the gold comb pinning the dark waves of her hair, her one remaining luxury.

The bitter and familiar taste of regret chased her from the whitewashed hillside estate, down into the squalid harbor district. Why had she not kept silent?

Along the docks hungry gulls shrieked over fishy finds and work-worn sailors traded shrill insults. The restless slap of the sea against the hulls of boats kept time with the anxious rhythm of her steps against the cracked gray stones of the quay.

She had run once, haunted and guilty to a fresh start in Rhodes. Could she do it again? Find a way to take care of herself, to survive?

“Mistress Daria!”

The voice at her back was young and demanding, the tenor of a girl accustomed to a world arranged to her liking. And yet still precious, still malleable.

“Mistress! Where are you going?”

Daria slowed, eyes closed against the pain, and inhaled. She turned on the sun-warmed dock with a heaviness that pulled at her limbs like a retreating tide.

Corinna’s breath came quick with exertion and the white linen of her morning robe clung to her body. The sweet girl must have run all the way.

“To the School of Adelphos, Corinna. I will seek a position there.”

Corinna closed the distance between them and caught Daria’s hand in her own. Her wide eyes and full lips bespoke innocence. “But you cannot! Surely, Father did not mean what he said—”

Daria squeezed the girl’s eager fingers. “It is time. Besides”—she tipped Corinna’s chin back—“you have learned your lessons so well, perhaps you no longer need the services of a tutor.”

Corinna pulled away, dark eyes flashing and voice raised. “You do not believe that, mistress. It is you who says there is always more to learn.”

They drew the attention of several young dockworkers hauling cargo from ship to shore. Daria stared them down until they turned away, then circled the girl’s shoulders, pulled her close, and put her lips to Corinna’s ear. “Yes, you must never stop learning, dear girl. But it must be someone else who teaches you—”

“But why? What did you say to anger Father so greatly?”

Only what she thought was right. What must be said. A few strong phrases meant to rescue Corinna from a future under the thumb of a husband who would surely abuse her.

Daria smiled, fighting the sadness welling in her chest, and continued her trudge along the dock toward the school. “I am afraid discretion is one of the things I have not yet learned, Corinna. Your father is a proud man. He will not brook a mere servant giving him direction in the running of his household.”

Corinna stopped abruptly at the water’s edge, her pretty face turned to a scowl. “You are no mere servant! You are the most learned tutor I have ever had!”

Daria laughed and looked over the sea as she walked, at the skiffs and sails tied to iron cleats along the stone, easy transportation to the massive barges that floated in the blue harbor, awaiting trade. Papyrus and wool from Egypt, green jade and aromatic spices from far eastern shores, nuts and fruits and oils from Arabia. Her eyes strayed beyond the ships, followed northward along the rocky Anatolian coast to cities unknown, riddles to be unraveled, secrets and knowledge to be unlocked. More to learn, always. And somewhere perhaps, the key to redeeming the past.

They approached and skirted the strange symbol of the isle of Rhodes, the toppled Helios that once stood so proud and aloof along the harbor and now lay humbled, its bronze shell speckled to an aged green, reflecting the impenetrable turquoise sky. The massive statue had lain at the quay for gulls to peck and children to climb for nearly three hundred years since the quake brought it down. Daria found it disturbing.

“May I still visit you at the school, Mistress Daria?”

She smiled. “One challenge at a time. First I must convince Adelphos that he should hire me.”

Corinna’s tiny sandals scurried to keep pace. “Why would he not?”

“It is not easy to be an educated woman in a man’s world of philosophy and rhetoric. There are few men who appreciate such a woman.”

“How could anyone not appreciate someone as good, as brave, as you?”

The child gave her too much credit. She was neither good, nor brave. She would not be here in Rhodes if she were. Though she was trying. The gods knew, she had been trying.

Corinna lifted her chin with a frown in the direction of the school. “I shall simply explain to Adelphos how very valuable you are.”

And how outspoken? Interfering? But perhaps the girl could help in some way.

“Will you demonstrate some of what I have taught you, Corinna?”

The girl’s eyes lit up. “Just wait, mistress. I shall amaze and delight that crusty old Adelphos.”

Daria studied the impetuous girl and bit her lip. But it was a chance she must take.

The School of Adelphos lay at the end of the docks, its modest door deceptive. Daria paused outside, her hand skimming the rough wood, and inhaled determination in the sharp tang of salt and fish on the breeze. Who would believe that such distinguished men as the poet Apollonius and Attalus the astronomer had studied and written and debated behind this door? Sea trade had kept Rhodes prosperous for centuries, but in the two hundred years under Roman control, the Greek island had grown only more beautiful, a stronghold of learning, of arts and sciences and philosophy.

Inside its most famous school, she blinked twice and waited for her sun-blind eyes to adjust.

“Daria!” Adelphos emerged from the shadows of the antechamber with a cool smile and tilt of his head. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was several years her senior, with the confident ease of an athlete, a man aware of his own attractiveness.

She returned the smile and straightened her back. “Adelphos. Looking well, I am pleased to see.”

He ran a gaze down the length of her, taking in her thin white tunic and the pale blue mantle that was the best of her lot. “As are you.”

“I have come to make you an offer.”

At this, his eyebrows and the corner of his mouth lifted in amusement and he gave a glance to Corinna, still at the door. “Shouldn’t we send your young charge home first?”

She ignored the innuendo. “My employ as Corinna’s tutor will soon come to an end, and I desire to find a place here, in your school. As a teacher.” She swallowed against the nervous clutch of her throat.

Again the lifted eyebrows, but Adelphos said nothing, only strolled into the lofty main hall of the school, a cavernous marble room already scattered with scholars and philosophers, hushed with the echoes of great minds.

She gritted her teeth against the condescension and beckoned Corinna to follow, with a warning glance to keep the girl quiet, but the child’s sudden intake of breath at the fluted columns and curvilinear architraves snapped unwanted attention in their direction, the frowns of men annoyed by disruptive women.

Adelphos disappeared into the alcove that housed the school’s precious stock of scrolls—scrolls Daria had often perused at her leisure and his generosity.

Daria spoke to his back. “Do you doubt my abilities—”

“What I doubt, my lady, is a rich man’s willingness to pay a woman to teach his sons.”

Daria waved a hand. “Bah! What difference does it make? I can do a man’s work just as well. And if they learn, they learn!” But a cold fear knotted in her belly.

Adelphos traced his fingertips over the countless nooks of scrolls, as if he could find the one he sought simply by touching its ragged edge. “And you, Daria? Do you want to live a man’s life as well as do a man’s work? What woman does not long for love and family and hearth?”

Her throat tightened at his words, too close to the secrets of her heart. Yes, she longed for those comforts. For a love that would accept her abilities, complement rather than suppress. But for now, for now she had no one and she must assure her own welfare.

She coughed to clear the dryness of her throat and stepped beside him, examined the great works of philosophy and literature, their tan Egyptian papyri wrapped in brown twine, sealed in waxy red.

Adelphos reached past her to a nook above her head, and his muscled arm brushed her shoulder.

The touch was intentional, clearly. Manipulative. Even so, his nearness left her breathless and her usual sharp-tongued wit failed. When she spoke, it was a harsh whisper, too raw with emotion, though the words emerged falsely casual. “And why should I not have both?”

At this, Adelphos huffed, a derisive little laugh, and turned to lean his back against the shelves and unroll the scroll he had retrieved.

“A woman of ambition. Does such a breed truly exist?” His gaze darted to hers. “But what am I saying? You have already wedded a husband, have you not?”

Daria pulled a scroll from its recess and pretended to study it.

“You are interested in the work of Pythagoras? That one is newly arrived from Samos.”

Daria shrugged. “I find his work repetitive. What new has he added to Euclid’s previous efforts?”

“Indeed.” Adelphos pulled the scroll from her hands and replaced it in its nook. “But you have not answered my question.”

“I am a widow, yes.”

“A widow with no sons. No dowry.” He glanced at Corinna, clutching the doorway. “And no employment. Is there anything more desperate?”

Daria lifted her chin and met his gaze. “It seems you are in an enviable position, then, Adelphos. You have found a skilled teacher, available for a bargain.”

Adelphos circled to Corinna, an appreciative gaze lingering on her youth and beauty. “And this is your prize specimen? The pupil of whom I have heard such wonders?”

The girl straightened and faced Adelphos with a confidence borne of knowledge. “Shall I demonstrate the superior skill Mistress Daria has given me with languages?”

Daria silently cheered and blessed the girl. “Corinna has been working hard to master the tongues of Rome’s far-flung empire.”

Adelphos’s brow creased and he opened his lips as if to speak, then sealed them and nodded once. No doubt he wanted to ask what use there might be for a girl who could speak anything but common Greek. As Daria herself was such a girl, the implicit question struck a nerve. She turned a shoulder to Adelphos and nodded encouragement to Corinna. “Let us hear Herodotus in the Classical first, then.”

The girl grinned, then gushed a passage of Herodotus in the proud language of her Greek forebears, the language of literature and poetry, before Alexander had rampaged the world and equalized them all with his common koine.

“And now in Latin, Corinna.”

The girl repeated the passage, this time in the tongue of the Romans, the new conquerors.

Adelphos tilted his head to study the girl, then spoke to her in Latin. “Anyone can memorize a famous passage in a foreign tongue. Few can converse in it.”

Corinna’s eyelashes fluttered and she glanced at her hands, twisted at her waist. When she answered, it was not in Latin, but in Persian. “Fewer still can converse in multiple languages at once, my lord.”

Adelphos chuckled, then glanced at Daria. “She does you proud, lady.”

A glow of pride, almost motherly, warmed Daria’s chest. “Indeed.”

Corinna reached out and gripped Adelphos’s arm, bare beneath his gleaming white tunic. “Oh, it is all Mistress Daria’s fine teaching, I assure you, my lord. I wish to be an independent woman such as she someday. There is nothing she cannot do.”

“Corinna.” Daria smiled at the girl but gave a tiny shake of her head.

Corinna withdrew her hand and lowered her eyes once more. “I have told my father this, but he does not understand—”

“Her father has been most pleased with her progress.” Daria tried to draw Adelphos’s attention. “He saw a superior mind there from an early age and was eager to see it developed.”

He waved a hand in the air. “I have seen enough. You may go.”

Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert ~ Please Rank My Mom's Review

Wishing on Willows

Lucie's Review:

After the death of her beloved husband, Robin struggles to take care of her son and keep the coffee shop going that had been Robin and Micah's dream.
Ian McKay comes to town to build a huge condminium complex in the very location where Robin's cafe is, but after meeting Robin and her son, Caleb, will Ian be forved to face his past, and help Robin come to terms with her own?

Wishing on Willows is the stand alone sequel to Katie Ganshert's emotional Wildflowers from Winter, and is a story of second chances and hope in the wake of extreme sorrow.

Robin was such a well-intentioned character, who stretched herself to the brink of breaking because of her big heart, a the pressure that was put upon her and that she put on herself. And I really liked Ian, because he had so many painful secrets that came to light over the course of the book, and I came to see why he was, who he was, and how he was changing.

This was truly a beautiful tale about triumph in Jesus Christ over the pain, and sorrow of the past and looking forward towards a bright tomorrow, and second chances. An emotionally deep read that will capture your heart!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Check out these book extras:


Family Lessons by Allie Pleiter ~ Review

Family Lessons
Lucie's Review:

When train robbers attack a train bearing orphans west, the children find themselves stranded in Evan's Grove, Nebraska, along with schoolteacher, Holly Sanders. Since they aren't going to be going any further down the line, the whole community pitches in to find the children homes within the community.

Holly and Mason are were two very different characters and I loved watching Mason's heart change and realize that he didn't have to lock everyone one out.

There were some really great side characters in the children, and the townspeople, especially that busy-body Beatrice!

It was a sweet story and I loved how the author really included the townspeople and didn't just focus on a few characters. And I liked how I wasn't really sure how it would all work out in the end, because it was a bit unpredictable.

Overall, a rather sweet story, with more to come in the series, that I will definitely be watching for.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!


The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom) by Candace Christine Little ~ Delightful Read for All Ages!

The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom)
My Review: A brilliant allegory of the gift of wisdom, and how it must be sought after.

Barto and Artemerio are two brothers on a quest to solve a riddle, and that quest takes them on a journey that will challenge them to grow in ways they never knew.

There are so many things to love about The Pursuit of a King, it is brilliant and challenging, full of adventure and virtues are learned along the way. Not only that, but this book is one of the special few that I believe is perfect and equally enjoyable for all ages, because everyone will get something out of it! This book would be a perfect book to read aloud to small children, or enjoy by yourself, though after reading this delightful novel I can't help but want to share it :)

I loved the humor, and originality of this tale, and even though I felt like I had figured out the allegory, pretty much from the beginning there were still surprises that kept me turning the pages quite rapidly.

Overall, a wonderfully enjoyable read, that I would happily recommend to nearly all audiences. A truly charming tale, with a timeless quality that will capture your heart!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


Swept Away by Mary Connealy ~ Review

 Swept Away (Trouble in Texas, #1)

Lucie's Review:

Ruthy McNeil is swept away and up into Luke's arms!

A fast-paced, action-filled adventure, full of romance,  and suspenseful mystery, that makes for a wonderful start to what is sure to be great series!

Engaging from the very beginning, along with well written characters that were very likable, some of my favorite scenes were the ones with Ruthy and Luke, because sometimes they had trouble getting their points across. As you can imagine that caused some funny situations :)

I loved how Luke and his friends were close as musketeers and how they all came together to help Luke defeat the man who killed his father, and took his land.  I'm really looking forward to their stories too!

Overall, a great book, high on adventure, and plenty of smiles, yet there was also a great faith track and I liked the way the characters interacted with each other. And for me there was this "AHA!" moment when I realized that Luke was Callie Kincaid's brother (Callie is from the Kincaid Brothers Series), I love it when authors put sweet little treats in there for their faithful readers :) A wonderful adventure that you won't wan tot miss!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

About Swept Away:

When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas!
Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.
Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she's going to have to go with him.
But the more time Luke spends around the hardworking young woman, the more he finds himself thinking of things besides revenge. Will Ruthy convince him to give up his destructive path and be swept away by love?

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/iwbMo

Meet Mary:
Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Find out more about Mary at http://maryconnealy.com/.

Check out all of the other great stops on this tour here: http://litfusegroup.com/author/mconnealy
Mary Connealy is celebrating the release of Swept Away by giving away a $250 "Swept Away" Vacation Package and hosting a Facebook Author Chat Party! 


One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $250 Visa Cash Card (Get away for the weekend or use it to buy an eReader for a relaxing ‘Staycation’!)
  • A copy of Swept Away (For you AND a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 27th. Winner will be announced at the "Swept Away" Author Chat Party on March 28th. Connect with Mary, get a sneak peek of the next book in the series, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Swept Away and join Mary on the evening of the March 28th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!


Love in a Broken Vessel by Mesu Andrews ~ Review

Love in a Broken Vessel
My Review: A beautiful telling of Hosea and Gomer's tale of love and redemption.

To be completely honest I was pretty hesitant to begin this book as I knew the general drift of the story and that it would be a heart breaker, and at times hard to read. But I dove in and found myself flipping the pages as if I'd never heard the story before.

I loved how Ms. Andrews rendered the characters in such a way that I felt for them and understood why they did they things they did, and the how the world they were living in affected them and their circumstances.

Throughout this book I could tell that hours of serious research was put into this book, because of how realistically Hosea and Gomer's world was brought to life.

In conclusion, what a hard story to tell, yet Ms. Andrews pulled it off in a way that I couldn't help but love! That doesn't happen everyday now does it? This is a beautiful, yet heart-breaking story and I think that Ms. Andrews handled the tougher parts well, giving the emotion, yet few details. Ms. Andrews continues to surprise me, with how much I love her masterful tellings of what it might have been like in Bible times. 5 stars for this excellent book!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


Pursuit of a King by Candace Christine Little ~ FIRST Wild Card Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Candace Little for sending me a review copy.***


Candace Christine Little has a B.A. from Dallas Christian College and a J.D. from Regent University School of Law, and she has completed a writing course offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has written four novels: The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom), The Heart of a King (A Tale of Faith), The Honor of a King (A Tale of Mercy), and The Son of a King (A Tale of Love). Candace believes in the power of stories to nourish, to teach, and to inspire, and she is passionately committed to happy endings.

Visit the author's website.


A dream. A king. A riddle. A map. A journey. A dungeon (or two). A decision. A sacrifice. A sword. A throne. The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom) by Candace Christine Little recounts the adventures of Artemerio and Barto as they cross deserts, climb canyon walls, face the evil Dunley, rescue Lady Wisdom, save cities from certain destruction (using only cake!)—and discover their destinies.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.00
Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1479392480
ISBN-13: 978-1479392483


Chapter 1: Summoned by the King

“How did we get here?” I asked in awe as I walked with my brother, Artemerio, through the halls of the palace of the king of Windsal.

“We walked,” said Artemerio.

“I suppose I should have known better than to expect a serious answer from you. You know what I mean. To think of it—we were summoned by the king to present our request. You must admit, if we get no farther than this palace, we will have lived what some have only dreamed.”

“You think too small, Barto. We may go down in history as the mightiest of men, and we may see palaces greater by far than—”

The echoes of our footsteps through the marble-floored hallways slowed. Confronted by the greatness of what were merely the doors of the throne room, Artemerio’s words sounded vain and absurd.

Even he must have felt it. He stared at the door for a long moment, a hint of nervousness in his expression. But then he lifted his chin and straightened to his full height. His self-assured smile returned. “Here we go.” He took hold of the massive door before him and led the way in to see the king.

I swallowed hard and followed.

I cannot adequately describe the splendor of that room—the fine marble, the exquisite touches of gold and jewels, the ornate thrones, the gleaming tapestries, the stately columns. And crowning it all were the king and queen, noble and glorious. Though they had seen many, many years, those years had enhanced rather than diminished their appearances. The beauty and elegance of Queen Athalia were beyond compare. So imposing were King Syroton’s stature and deportment that I feared for any man who might face him in battle.

But the splendor was not limited to what was visible. Magnificence pervaded the air itself with a spectacular, inspiriting weight: the weight of goodness, of wisdom, of courage—of virtues so solid and real that they seemed not only tangible but transferable, like a richly scented oil that leaves traces of its fragrance on those who encounter it.

And I have no doubt Artemerio sensed it, too. When he offered the traditional courteous phrases due a king, his voice was shaky. Gone was the insincere ease with which he typically addressed those in authority. But even humbled, he was eloquent and bold.

I mumbled my greeting and made my bow, and then, with the formalities out of the way, Artemerio began to present our request.

“Good king,” said Artemerio, “it has been our desire for some time to advance the cause of Windsal—to bring her greater honor, to improve her economy, and to multiply her lands. This can best be done through exploration and conquest. We appeal to you for the right to sail in the name of Windsal to discover for her what will be hers and hers alone, waiving all rights to establish our own lands. We appeal to you, for the love of Windsal, the right to leave her—”

A jester nimbly tumbled into the room, interrupting Artemerio’s speech. “And in this way to improve her? Hah! I am sure she will improve the moment you set sail and leave her shores!” The jester brushed away a nonexistent speck of dust on his sleeve, adjusted the bells on his hat, and sat on an unimpressive wooden stool beside the king.

Artemerio’s jaw tightened. He clenched his fists and pursed his lips. I thought—and desperately hoped—he might dismiss the provocation. But then his nostrils flared, and he breathed in sharply.

“Sail with me, then, and let us triple her improvement. Better yet, never return, and she shall stand in a glory she has never known.” Artemerio’s proud look dared the jester to respond.

“Gentlemen,” I have something to say,” said King Syroton. “Does it interest you at all?”

Having lost the reverential attitude he had had during his earlier speeches, Artemerio resorted to the superficial fawning at which he excelled. “A thousand apologies, King Syroton. Speak your will, and we will make it so.” He bowed deeply.

“A thousand apologies are not necessary, Artemerio, if one apology is sincere,” said the king. “I have not summoned you here only to hear your request. I have summoned you to have you solve a riddle for me. I understand that you and the very silent Barto already have all that you need to sail, but here is my offer: If you will solve this riddle for me, I will give you one of my own ships for your adventures.”

Artemerio and I needed no time to discuss our answer. The offer of the king’s ship was too generous to refuse.

“Yes—of course, Your Majesty,” said Artemerio.

“Very well. Here is the riddle.” The king began to recite:

“My value is priceless, though I can’t be bought.

I call out to all, though I must be sought.

I help men write laws, and I help rulers reign.

I turn all from waywardness, suffering, and pain.

Pursue me and choose me, whatever the cost—

Without me, the greatest of men would be lost.

Who am I? What do all good kings pursue?”

King Syroton paused after he finished the recitation. A somber look stole over him. “When you return to me, you will be changed men—greatly changed. The dangers to you are more than you can guess. This is no small task. The fate of this kingdom rests on your shoulders. I can reveal no more to you than this. But take heart. I know you will return. And now the jester will explain to you how you are to begin your quest and where you are to go. Jester, proceed.”

“Yes, sir.” The jester jumped up from his seat and bowed sharply and quickly toward the king. Then he turned to us.

The faintest flash of a grimace crossed Artemerio’s face.

The jester stared at him and smiled, as if he had seen the grimace and found it amusing. “Let those humble enough to follow and take orders from a mere jester follow me.”

I took a few steps following after the jester but then turned back. “Your Majesty, we thank you for this opportunity.” I bowed, and in doing so, I caught sight of the Windsalian insignia carved into the base of the throne platform. I gasped. Under the insignia were words that had been part of a strange dream I had had two nights before:

Secured not by a noble birth,

By soldiers’ strength, or mighty works.

Secured by virtues daily shown.

Through justice, mercy, truth—a throne.

“Is something wrong, Barto?” said the king.

“N-no, Your Majesty.” I bowed again and turned to follow the jester and Artemerio.

They were far ahead of me in the broad hallway that stretched away endlessly from the throne room, which may be why neither of them seemed to hear the whispers I heard as I left the king. But I know I heard whispers mingled with the echoes of footsteps.

“Barto, do not be afraid to speak,” a mysterious voice said again and again.

Curious, I stopped. But when a quick glance around revealed no obvious source of the whispers, I hurried on, concerned at the thought of Artemerio alone with the jester.


Within a week, we were ready to begin our journey. The night before we were to sail, Artemerio and I discussed our travels as we dined.

“Barto, I have no doubt that we will be sailing for the Unconquered Lands in a month or two. The greatest difficulty we will face in solving this riddle is keeping our thoughts occupied as we cross the many miles of open country. The jester marked only six cities on the map for us to visit. I have heard tales of riddles taking lifetimes to be answered, but the king is sending us on a journey that should take only a matter of weeks.”

“Perhaps—but have you not wondered why the king would make such a generous offer? What waits for us in these particular cities? And what do we know about solving riddles? We are the sons of a fisherman. We grew up in a small, unimportant village by the sea. Why would the king send us? There is more to this story than we see.”

“Oh, I forgot. You heard those whispers. ‘Speak, Barto.’” Artemerio laughed. “Perhaps there is a royal dog named Barto—and what you heard were orders given to him!” Artemerio laughed even harder and pounded on the table with glee.

“No, they were not orders given like that. The voice said, ‘Do not be afraid to—’ No. You are missing the point.”

“Which is?” Artemerio asked, one eyebrow arched dramatically and a mocking smile on his face.

I sighed. “You can be so infuriating. The point is—why us?”

Artemerio raised his cup. “To us, may our—”

“What about the dream? The words on the base of the throne were the words from that strange dream I told you about. How do you explain that? And what about the king’s words—that the fate of the kingdom is resting on our shoulders? Do you not feel a sense of destiny about this whole turn of events?”

Artemerio took a sip from his cup. “Yes, Barto. I do sense the same sort of strangeness you do. But what do you want me to do about it? Be as solemn and heavy-hearted as you? Think it strange that the king would find me worthy to be an adventurer? No. I do not know what you think we can figure out—or why we should spend any more time thinking this through. Solving riddles is a child’s game! Surely we are up to the task.” He raised his cup again. “To our destinies!”


We sailed to the southernmost point of Windsal aboard a swift, graceful ship called the Lady Lucinda.

“Barto! Where are you? We make landfall soon!” Artemerio called to me that morning. He barged into the cabin where I had been studying the maps—a map of my own and the map that the jester had delivered to us mere moments before we set sail. “Come!”

“Artemerio. Good. I want to show you something.” I rolled up the maps and followed him out onto the deck. “I have discovered a very curious thing—”

“As have I.” Artemerio glanced at the maps inattentively. “Well, perhaps curious is not the word for it. But regardless—I have been talking with some of the members of the crew about our plans—you know, for after this riddle is solved. From what I hear, there are riches to be made beyond what we can imagine not six months south of Blackdragon Point. Ah—perhaps the spot could be found on your map. Why do you have two?” He took one of the maps from me and began to examine it. “We could easily—”

“That can wait. And the maps are maps only of Windsal. You will not find Blackdragon Point on either of them. But look. Look there on the map. See that city there—by your thumb? Now look at this other map. Same coastline. Same rivers. Same mountains. Same paths. No city.”

“What are you trying to tell me? That one of the maps is wrong? Throw that one out, then. Now, back to what I was saying…Blackdragon Point…the Unconquered Lands…oh, yes—we could easily—”

“The map with the city is the one the jester gave us. The other map is mine. My map is a common map of the kingdom, as current as they come. I do not know what this means, but I do not think we should expect our journey to be as uneventful or as short as you seem to think it will be. And there are markings on the jester’s map that are entirely foreign to me. They could mean mountain peaks or walls—see the ones I mean—the strange marks surrounding the city that is again by your thumb? I have a feeling we should be prepared for anything.”

Just then a member of the crew called to us from across the deck. “Mr. Artemerio, Mr. Barto—we have reached the port. Will you be needing help with anything? We are to sail on as soon as you are safely deposited.”

“Crewman Beefeathers,” I said, “you may tell the crew we need no help, and we will be leaving you shortly after we dock. Thank you.”

Artemerio had turned to stare at the coastline. The jester’s map dangled loosely in the hand he had dropped to his side. “It is too late for examining your maps now, Barto. There is the port city of Sumada. We will be seeing the strange cities of the jester’s map and discovering what his enigmatic markings mean very soon.” He turned, his broad grin growing broader still. “And then—on to the Unconquered Lands.”


The Rocky Mountain Heiress Collection by Kathleen Y'Barbo ~ Please Rank Our Review

The Rocky Mountain Heiress Collection: Three Inspirational Romances: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, Anna Finch and the Hired Gun, The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck
Faye and Lucie's Review: Ms. Y'Barbo brings love and laughter together in this fun collection of women who find love out west.

An excellent collection of light-hearted read, with plenty of laughs and romance along the way! I personally love an good read that sets me smiling, and is just plain fun, and this lovely collection by Kathleen Y'Barbo certainly fit the bill as just that kind of read.

I loved how the characters interacted naturally, and how building relationship wasn't always smooth sailing that's for sure!
I really liked how the characters all interacted with each other, whether it was a tender moment, the sparks were flying. or if it was a feisty argument. I thought that the dialogue was well done.

I know that not everyone likes to read about larger-than-life characters, but personally, they are my favorite! This was the kind of book that I could just relax to, and have fun reading.

Overall, a delightful trilogy of novels that I would most definitely recommend to someone who is looking for a fun lighthearted read, full of adventure, romance, and laughter :)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for and honest review. Thank you!

The Chance by Karen Kingsbury ~ Review

The Chance: A Novel

Lucie's Review: A heart tugging love story.

Best friends, Ellie and Nolan on the brink of their parting decide to bury a box in their special spot with letters to each other, so that even if they don't see each other again, they will come back in eleven years to reclaim the box of letters.
Now eleven years later, Nolan is a NBA star and the Tim Tebow of basketball, and he has held onto three things in his life, his faith, his love for basketball, and his love for Ellie.
Ellie is now the single mom of a daughter, and a cosmetologist, convince that neither God nor anyone else in her life cares about her. But when Nolan and Ellie get the chance to reconnect, will they take it?

A page turningly poignant read, that captured my heart. I haven't read any Karen Kingsbury before this one, but after reading this one I think I could be convinced into trying another.

I really liked Nolan, because he was noble and true. In this story it was fun to see all of the pieces of the story come together in such beautiful way to make this heart twisting tale turn out the way that it did.

Overall this was a bittersweet love story, that in my mind would make a great movie! I also liked the little link to Ms. Kingsbury's previous Christmas Novella The Bridge. Just all around a great read that I would recommend to new and old fans alike.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!



Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker ~ Review and Team Novel Teen Tour

Chasing Jupiter

My Review: A thoughtful and evocative read, that takes you into Scarlett's world.

I fell in love with Ms. Coker's contemplative, easy flowing writing style, and the quirky characters that she brought to life.
The characters were all so different, and unique, yet each had a quality that I was captured by. Scarlett was a strong heroine, molded by the chaos around her, yet she and her brother, Cliff had a special bond, and I liked how much she cared for her brother and protected him.

In Chasing Jupiter I really did feel like I was inside Scarlett's head, she saw things in a simple sort of way, with a certain weariness, yet love for her brother, and confusion with her sister, while Frank was pleasant surprise.

In conclusion, this book reminded me alot of the books I read when I was 10 (when my mom considered me too young to read Christian romance--even Janette Oke!)  I always loved the depth of such books, balanced with quirky characters. I haven't seen a many new books like this in a while, because in my mind, Chasing Jupiter certainly has a special timeless quality about it, paired with a an inspiring message of finding God while everything seems to be falling down all around. A book that I would happily recommend! And I will definitely be reading Rachel Coker's future novels :)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

About the book: Scarlett Blaine’s life in 1960s Georgia isn’t always easy, especially given her parents’ financial struggles and the fights surrounding her sister Juli’s hippie lifestyle. Then there’s her brother, Cliff. While Scarlett loves him more than anything, there’s no denying his unique behavior leaves Cliff misunderstood and left out. So when he wishes for a rocket to Jupiter, Scarlett agrees to make it happen, no matter how crazy the idea might be. Raising the rocket money means baking pies, and the farmer’s son, Frank, agrees to provide the peaches if Scarlett will help him talk to Juli. The problem is, Scarlett really enjoys her time with Frank, and finds herself wondering if, someday, they could be more than friends. Just as she thinks everything might be going her way, Cliff suffers an accident that not only affects the rocket plans, but shakes Scarlett’s view of God. As the summer comes to an end, Scarlett must find a way to regain what she’s lost, but also fulfill a promise to launch her brother’s dream.

Buy the book here: Amazon or CBD or Barnes and Noble

And if you'd like to read Rachel Coker's thoughts on Chasing Jupiter: http://www.rachelcoker.com/talking-about-chasing-jupiter/

And last but not least, be sure to visit all of the other wonderful stops on this tour!


Millie's Treasure by Kathleen Y'Barbo ~ Review

Millie's Treasure (The Secret Lives of Will Tucker, #2)

Lucie's Review:

Millie Cope's path crosses Will Tucker's when Millie's father falls under the false illusion that Will is a proper English gentleman, and not an infamous criminal.
Kyle Russell has been on Will Tucker's trail for years, but when Millie and Kyle meet they find that they share common interests, but will they be able to save Millie from a disasterous marriage to Will Tucker?

The second in a series, Millie's Treasure is the kind of book that can also work well as a stand-alone. I really how Millie and Kyle had a relationship built on friendship and common interests. The story had a lot adventure to it with a flying machine and cyphers and many twists along the way.

Overall, this was a great romantic read, that had plenty of action, and as well as an emotional side to things, with Millie and her father's relationship,  that kept me reading to find out what would happen next. Having read the first book in the series I can honestly say that this one was my favorite of the series so far, and I will definitely be reading the next book! You won't want to miss this one!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! 

Ring of Secrets by Roseana M. White ~ Review and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour

My Review: An excellent Revolutionary adventure!

Ms. White did an excellent job of bringing the Colonial Era to life with all of it's spies and dangers, fraught with political tension.

The characters were well built, and never boring. I especially loved Winter, because she was a strong, yet vulnerable character, and very quick witted, who was far more than what met the eye, and more than even Bennett saw at first. She was a character made complex by her many layers, and she was the kind of heroine that I aspire to be like.

To be honest about a third of the way into the book I wasn't sure of this would all get resolved in one book, or if the sequels would be about Winter too! I wouldn't have minded at all if they were!

This book had a great plot, that was engaging from the very first til the last page was turned down. It was well researched, and I immensely enjoyed it. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a Revolutionary War Era novel so much! I could not put this book down! I stayed up way too late finishing this one, because I just had to know what would happen next.

Overall, a book that I would definitely recommend, as I am dying to read the next book in the series already :) A great plot, with truly intriguing characters, that will capture your heart.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them. After graduating from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the Maryland side of the same mountains they equate with home.

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, both from WhiteFire Publishing (www.WhiteFire-Publishing.com), and Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, a historical romance, with Summerside Press. She is the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, HEWN Marketing, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.

Visit the author's website.


Winter Reeves is an aristocrat…and a Patriot. Bennet Lane is a Yale professor on temporary assignment in New York…to find General Washington’s spy among the elite.

This exciting romantic spy novel from Roseanna M. White combines fascinating cloak-and-dagger secrets with a tale of love and intrigue during the Revolutionary War.

Winter Reeves is an aristocratic Patriot forced to hide her heart amid the Loyalists of the City of New York. She has learned to keep her ears open so she can pass information on British movements to Robbie Townsend, her childhood friend, and his spy ring. If she's caught, if she's hung for espionage...well, she won't be. Robbie has taught her the tools of the trade: the wonders of invisible ink, drop locations and, most importantly, a good cover.

Bennet Lane returns to New York from his Yale professorship with one goal: to find General Washington's spy hidden among the ranks of the elite. Searching for a wife was supposed to be nothing more than a convenient cover story for his mission, but when he meets Winter, with her too-intelligent eyes in her too-blank face, he finds a mystery that can't be ignored.

Both believers...and both committed to a separate cause. Will their faith in God lead them to a shared destiny or lives lived apart?

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736950990
ISBN-13: 978-0736950992:


City of New York

November 1779

Let innocence be your mask.

Winter Reeves swished her ivory lace fan and gave Colonel Fairchild the same practiced smile she always did. She squelched the response that wanted to escape, forbade her eyes from so much as flashing. Perhaps her gaze wandered, but he would only think her bored.

He thought her very easily bored.

“A stroke of luck, do you not agree, my dear?”

Despite the racing of her heart at the pearl of information he had just let slip, she made her nod a half-second later than it ought to have been. As if she were inattentive, paying no heed to his endless prattle. Why, after all, would she care about such a boring matter as paper? In his eyes—in the eyes of everyone here—she was naught but the pretty, brainless granddaughter of the Hamptons.

Let your beauty hide your heart.

Winter’s gaze snagged on Robbie’s, though she looked past him quickly. A successful business owner and newspaperman for the Royal Gazette, Robert Townsend was deemed acceptable company on a day-to-day basis, but Grandmother had higher hopes for her. At social occasions, she was not permitted to speak to him.

She didn’t have to speak to him. A mere glance showed her his waistcoat tonight bore seven silver buttons. Seven—that meant he had slid a note into the bottom, middle drawer of the chest in the drawing room.

Feigning a yawn partially hidden behind her fan, Winter blinked. Slowly.

Colonel Fairchild interrupted his monologue with drawn brows. “Forgive me, my dear. You must be in need of refreshment by now. Allow me to fetch you a cup of spiced tea.”

“That would be lovely, thank you.” Winter injected her tone with relief and made her smile sheepish. “I shall just slip out for a moment while you get it, Colonel.”

Fairchild bowed, though he kept his head erect. No doubt to stop his new powdered wig, more heavily curled than his old one, from slipping.

Winter dipped a short curtsy and headed for the ballroom’s exit, her palms damp.


She forced pleasure into her face as she turned toward her grandmother. “Yes, ma’am? Can I get you anything?”

Grandmother narrowed her ice blue eyes. “Where are you going? The ball has barely started, and there is someone I want you to meet.”

Winter lowered her gaze. “I will only be a moment, Grandmother. I must attend to a personal need.”

The matron lifted her chin. No one would doubt Phillippa Hampton was the queen of this particular event. Her hair was an extravagant tower of whitened curls, ribbons, and gems. Her gown was a creation so exquisite, King George himself would have envied the craftsmanship.

Her glare could shrivel a thriving oak tree. “Return posthaste. Mr. Lane is awaiting an introduction.”

Let your enemies count you a friend.

She pasted on an obedient, docile smile. “I will be quick.”

“I should think so, knowing who awaits your return.” The snap of Grandmother’s fan of Spanish lace all but forced Winter’s eyes to the right.

As if Mr. Lane were different from any other guest here. As if he were anything but another haughty, arrogant Loyalist. As if he were...

She drew in a sharp breath when her gaze collided with the stranger’s. He stood beside her grandfather, his eyes locked on her. ’Twas nothing unusual, given the gilding her grandmother poured upon her. But the way he looked at her, the eyes that did the looking...

He was only passably handsome, if one examined his nose, his mouth, his jaw. Strong features, and sandy hair he hadn’t bothered to powder or cover in a wig. Pleasant, not exceptional. But those eyes—they seemed to pierce right through her facade, down to the heart she’d been forbidden to have.

Penetrating. Stirring. Tugging.

No. She couldn’t afford to let a man turn her head, and she certainly couldn’t let one see her heart. No matter that a single gaze from him made her yearn for someone who might understand her.

God of my end, help me to focus upon Your will for me. Winter tore her gaze free and curtsied to her grandmother. “I shall be glad to meet him in a moment, ma’am.”

Perhaps some other enterprising young lady would have laid claim to him by the time she returned. Eyes like that were far too dangerous.

Grandmother kept her a moment more. “You have heard of the recent fortune of the Manhattan Lanes, I presume.”

If one could call it fortune when one’s uncle’s son died and one’s father returned to England to learn to manage the family estates. Which Grandmother certainly did, being ever loyal to the Crown—no matter how hard the heel of His Majesty’s army crushed the city.

Winter nodded.

Her grandmother pursed her lips. “Go, child. But hurry back before Mrs. Parks snatches him and forces him to dance with Theodosia.”

To God’s ear. Somehow she suspected Mr. Lane’s gaze wouldn’t unnerve Dosia at all. Her friend had no secrets to be discovered.

Winter made her escape from the ballroom. Guests filled the hallway too, and they would be in and out of all the main rooms in her grandparents’ first floor. She followed a bewigged couple into the drawing room and traced a path along the chamber’s edge until she came to the polished maple of the high chest of drawers.

The bottom, center drawer was open a bit. Not so much as to be noticeable to anyone not looking, but enough that Winter could catch her sleeve on the knob as she walked by and make a show of looking irritated before freeing it.

She folded the slip of paper she’d recovered into her fan, shut the drawer with a scowl, and then headed out of the room, inspecting her sleeve as if the lace had torn.

No one stopped her as she darted up the stairs and headed for her bedchamber. That didn’t keep a relieved breath from seeping out as she threw the bolt on the door.

Winter strode to the banked fire and stirred it enough to light a taper. She set the candle upon a table and pulled the slip of paper out. The message written upon it made her smile.

My dearest lady, flame of my heart,

How you make my day burn bright!

With the smallest turn of your reddest lips,

You are all that is beauty and light...

Winter snorted a laugh and checked the right top corner of the page. An “H” marked it. The real message, then, would appear with the application of heat.

Hands steady, Winter held the page close, then closer to the flame. Closer still until the smell of scorching paper filled her nostrils, until a faint sizzle reached her ears. Until the invisible ink filling the space between the lines of terrible poetry turned a golden brown.

Eleven o’clock tonight. The tulip tree behind the stable.

Eleven. She pulled the paper away from the flame and squinted to read the darkened face of the mantel clock. One hour more. Time enough to appease Grandmother, to bat her lashes and act the part of witless society lady for Mr. Lane. Then she could slip outside. She hoped Robbie would be there to meet her, and she could tell him what Fairchild had said. Though there remained the possibility that he had simply left another message for her.

This one could bring her trouble enough. If her grandparents saw it, they would place her under lock and key to keep her from eloping as Mother had.

Or worse, if Grandfather had meant the threat that still made her shiver. And she had no reason to doubt his sincerity, given the hatred he had never tried to hide from her.

Time nipped at the back of her throat, each tick of the clock telling her to hurry downstairs. But first she tossed the page into the fire. As the flames licked over the wisp of paper and then smoldered into glowing ash, Winter held her spot, watching the last ember die out. In her mind’s eye, she saw another letter, another fire.

Why had she burned it? Why? The last word she had from her father, the last thing her mother had given her before she passed away.

A cloud must have raced over the moon, for deeper shadows cloaked her room. Winter spun for the door. Best to lock away the memories of Oyster Bay, of life before the war. Best to remember who she was now. Best to push down the longing to go back, even for one day, to the life she once knew.

That life was gone. She had come to terms with that.

Better a life among enemies than a noose around her neck.


Bennet Lane buried his terror in a glass of cordial and silently recited some Latin to calm his nerves. How had he ended up once more in a ballroom lit with crystal chandeliers, surrounded by batting lashes and swishing fans?

George jabbed him with an elbow—not exactly subtly—and smirked. “You look like I felt when expected to recite the opening of Hippolytus.”

“Give me Euripides above this any day.” Ben forced a smile and stiff bow when a set of well-dressed young women glided by, simpering looks partially hidden by their fans.

His friend’s chuckle held no sympathy. “You garner admiring gazes from them all.”

“Because they all know my father just became the heir to considerable property. But the moment I try to talk to any of them... Women are baffling, George. Baffling. They complain if you treat them as pets but grow bored if you treat them as equals.”

Placing his empty glass on the tray of a passing servant, George snorted. “Your idea of an ‘equal’ is a fellow from Yale. They are lost and bored with your constant references to Latin and Greek, but that does not mean they have no brains at all. Well, most of them.”

Ben grunted a laugh and sent his gaze over the gathering. Young ladies abounded, all in imported silk and lace. Some had beauty to their faces that couldn’t be hidden by the mountain of curls atop their heads; others relied on the fuss to bolster what nature had withheld.

“I have spent too many years in Connecticut, with its boycotts and homespun. All this luxury is confounding.” He took another sip of his drink and let his gaze linger upon a young lady with pink powdered hair. She was pretty, but when they had been introduced, it had taken only a stuttered sentence from him for her eyes to glaze over. Perhaps she would be amenable to a suit, but he’d rather find a woman to court with whom he could have a full conversation every now and again.

George narrowed his gaze upon Ben’s hair, tied back but otherwise unadorned. “You had better get accustomed to fashion again quickly, old boy. Gentlemen of Hampton’s ilk expect you to dress appropriately when you come to their houses. Even I know that, and I would never have been invited if not for your request.”

“Hmm.” He hated powdered wigs—itchy and hot. But he would do what he must. Ben scanned the room again, looking for the angel in pale blue and gold he had seen leaving a quarter-hour earlier. Hampton’s granddaughter, and hence the highest-bred young lady here. With her on his arm, he could secure invitations to all the elite’s functions. His family’s heritage gave him the proper pedigree for them, but he had been too long away from New York to know from where the invitations would come.

Access was crucial. Somewhere in this ballroom, or another as exclusive, a spy might lurk. Someone undermining the British cause, feeding information to the rebel army that they could only have learned from high-ranking associations. Either an elite themselves, or one of the bottom-feeders who catered to them.

He would find that someone, eventually. He must. And he was prepared to do whatever was necessary to achieve it.

Even if that “whatever” meant attaching himself to one of these terrifying, lace-bedecked creatures.

His expression must have shifted to betray his panic. George laughed. “If they befuddle you so, why are you determined to make a match?”

Ben shook himself and grinned. “It is like chemistry, George. You know well that combining certain elements might explode in your face, but you cannot resist pouring them together on the chance they will create something spectacular.”

“’Tis talk like that which sends them running.” George clapped a hand to Ben’s shoulder and nodded toward the corner. “Now, look at that one—Miss Parks. She bears a striking resemblance to our old friend Charlie Mason, does she not?”

“Parks.” Ben frowned. “Are they not cousins to the Masons?”

“Probably. Hence the resemblance, I suppose. Irrelevant. My point is, you could always carry on a conversation with Charlie, who lacked your excellent education, without confusing him. Do the same with Dosia. Talk of the weather, of the latest news, of anything not straight from your laboratory at Yale. Pretend she is Charlie.”

Ben folded his arms over his chest and nodded decisively. “Charlie in a dress.” An excellent plan.

“Right,” George said on another snort of laughter. “Or, if you can wrest her from Colonel Fairchild, you might set your sights on Miss Reeves. She hasn’t a spare thought in her head anyway, so she is well used to giving an absent nod of assent. Well, from what I have seen. I’ve never been introduced, mind you.”

Bennet’s gaze followed George’s gesture toward the doorway, filled by the vision of beauty herself. Hampton’s granddaughter—Miss Reeves, apparently.

Empty headed? That dug a furrow into his brow. When he had caught her gaze a bit ago, she had struck him as many things, but thoughtless was not one of them. Hers were not eyes that covered an idle mind.

Were they? He was not the type to be so blinded by beauty as to attribute to a lovely face nonexistent qualities, was he?

Well, time would tell. Hampton was even now striding toward Bennet, undoubtedly to make the promised introduction since his ward had returned. Which Georger apparently took as his cue to leave with a mumble about another drink.

Miss Reeves held her place in the doorway for a moment more, looking out at the ballroom as if taking stock of everyone there. A princess surveying her kingdom? Perhaps. Certainly she put all the other young women to shame, from the details of her gown to the powdered tower of hair, to her face, exquisite in its detail.

His pulse hammered. She was too beautiful for him. His tongue would twist into knots if he dared to open his mouth in her company. She would dismiss him in a moment, as every other girl did. He’d do better to find a more approachable lady to court, one common enough that she wouldn’t actually distract him from his true motive for returning to New York.

Miss Reeves turned her head to her left and then moved toward Mrs. Hampton. Her every step was a dance, each gesture the epitome of grace.

Ben would be lucky to secure a minuet with her, much less any other sign of favor. And because he was not so superficial as to think a pretty face was all one needed, he certainly wouldn’t mourn the loss of what would never be.

She kept her gaze down as Mrs. Hampton ushered her forward. Seemingly demure, but there was something else in the tension of her neck. Something that spoke of anxiety, perhaps conflict.


Hampton stopped at Ben’s side and nodded at the approaching ladies. “My granddaughter has returned.”

“Excellent, sir.” He should have stayed home tonight. Settled in with a text. Montesquieu, perhaps. Montesquieu would be a fine companion for this blustery November night, far better than this present company—George excluded.

Hampton glared at the women when they arrived. “There you are.”

Miss Reeves curtsied, her gaze on her grandfather now, though his granite face didn’t soften in the slightest. “I trust you are enjoying your birthday celebration, Grandfather?”

“Quite.” He looked as though enjoying wasn’t a word in his vocabulary. “Allow me to introduce Mr. Bennet Lane, of the Manhattan Lanes. Mr. Lane, my granddaughter and ward, Miss Winter Reeves.”

She didn’t look at him, though she turned her face his way. When he held out a hand, she settled her fingers on his so lightly as to barely touch him at all.

Still, awareness coursed through him. She was even lovelier up close than from afar. A narrow bridge of a nose, lips of a perfect rose, brows that bespoke hair the color of his favorite mahogany chair—if one could see beneath the powder coating each lock, anyway.

He bowed over her hand. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Reeves.” Ah, not so much as a stutter. He would do his debate professor proud.

She drew in a breath too short, too sharp. And finally she lifted her eyes to his.

They were green. Deep as an emerald and not just in color. So many thoughts, so many needs seemed to swirl within those jewel-like irises for one fraction of a second—then it was as if a door slammed shut and they were only eyes. Pretty, empty eyes.

The strain was gone from her posture, and the turn of her lips looked half bored. “Likewise, Mr. Lane.”

He let her fingers go but couldn’t convince himself to look away from her perfect countenance. Not so much as a twitch revealed any thought at all, but he knew well he hadn’t imagined it.

Winter Reeves was more than the face she showed this crowded ballroom. Why did she feel she must hide it? And what, exactly, was it that she hid? Puzzling.

One corner of his mouth tugged up. Ben loved nothing so much as a puzzle. “Mr. Hampton, may I have the honor of dancing with your granddaughter when the next set begins?”

Hampton glowered. “She would be delighted.” Another word that seemed foreign to his frowning mouth.

Mrs. Hampton, however, beamed. As for Miss Reeves...if he weren’t mistaken, that look of ennui upon her face was designed specifically to put him off.

Well, they would see about that. Any philosopher, be he political or scientific or abstract, knew that sometimes one must revise one’s stated mission. His may have to become twofold.

Find the Patriot spy in New York.

And unravel the mystery that was Winter Reeves.