“The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race” by Mike H. Mizrahi

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Chattanooga society is turned upside down as a young woman has the audacity to ride a bicycle-in bloomers!
 
It’s 1895. Anna Gaines, 19, struggles to conquer her insecurities after a horrible fall years ago from her beloved horse, Longstreet. On a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn, she’s drawn to the new pastime of bicycling. But back at home, cycling is a scandalous sport for a proper lady. Southern women did not engage in activities meant for men.
 
Anna has her eye on Peter Sawyer, president of the Cycling Club. As community outrage grows, an unexpected turn of events pits Anna against Peter in a race between the sexes.
 
Will Anna prove that women deserve the same right as men to ride “the wheel?” Will she choose to live a quiet, traditional life of a housewife and mother? Or will she pursue college and become one of the “new women” emerging into the twentieth century on the seat of a bicycle? What will become of the spark between Anna and Peter?
 
Faith, patience, and courage help Anna to become the person she was meant to be.
 
Mizrahi
Mizrahi writes a new kind of historical fiction in The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race.  With subplots involving Civil War landmark preservation, mental illness, grief, marital relationships, and race relations, there’s a lot happening in this book – and that doesn’t even touch the main themes of women riding bicycles and wearing bloomers.
 
It’s obvious that Mizrahi did his homework in the way that he blended all of these themes seamlessly.  The setting is detailed and plays a large role in the story.  I love the way that Mizrahi made the bicycle the pivotal point of the story, using it to show both historical and romantic information and spiritual transformation throughout the book.
 
I really enjoyed the main cast of characters.  Anna, Peter, Emma, and Rose were all realistic-sounding people I’d love to befriend.  The villains, of course, came across as appropriately evil, and it was easy to tell the difference.
 
While Anna grew and matured throughout the story in pleasing ways, I didn’t always enjoy those changes as they happened.  Not because I didn’t want them to, but because they seemed to be sudden.  It almost felt too abrupt, as if there were partial scenes that got cut in the editing process.  Anna sometimes reversed her feelings or decisions seemingly without justification, and I would have liked to know why she was making a change.  I think it would have added much to the story.
 
I also found myself frequently wanting to yell into the pages, “Just talk already!”  While I enjoyed reading about Anna’s romantic relationships, I often felt that so much of the confusion could be cleared up if they would only communicate.  I realize that this problem was, in part, a sign of the times, but in this age of emails and texts, the many mix-ups are frustrating to me.  In that regard, I much prefer living in 2017!
 
The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race is an exciting historical fiction about a pivotal time in history.  If romantic stories, coming-of-age tales, or women’s rights hold any interest for you, give it a try.
 
Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.
 

 
About the author:
 
Mike Mizrahi has a master’s degree in public relations, advertising and applied communication from Boston University. After a career in corporate public affairs, he retired to pursue a deep passion: writing.
Mizrahi and his wife, Karen, led a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo four years ago and were so moved by the experience, Mizrahi wrote his first novel, which he hopes will one day be published. The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race is his debut published work.
Mizrahi loves reading and writing stories about “sozo,” which means to be rescued in Greek. He and Karen are very active in their church and community and love to hike, travel and go the movies together. The Mizrahis live in Woodland Hills, California, where they raised their children who are now adults.
Learn more about The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race and Mike H. Mizrahi at www.mikehmizrahi.com or on Facebook (AuthorMikeMizrahi) and Twitter (@MikeHMiz). 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Treasured Grace” by Tracie Peterson

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Grace Martindale has known more than her share of hardship. After her parents died, raising her two younger sisters became her responsibility. A hasty marriage to a minister who is heading to the untamed West seemed like an opportunity for a fresh start, but a cholera outbreak along the wagon trail has left Grace a widow in a very precarious position.

Having learned natural remedies and midwifery from her mother, Grace seeks an opportunity to use her skills for the benefit of others. So when she and her sisters arrive at the Whitman mission in “Oregon Country,” she decides to stay rather than push on.

With the help of Alex Armistead, a French-American fur trapper, Grace begins to provide care for her neighbors, including some of the native populace. But not everyone welcomes her skills–or her presence–and soon Grace finds herself and those she loves in more danger than she imagined possible.

Tracie Peterson

Wow.  That’s the best way to describe Peterson’s hard-hitting new historical Western.

This is not your run-of-the-mill Oregon Trail novel.  In no way does Peterson romanticize the difficulties of the trail or of life for single women during the 1840s.  I love that she keeps history real during her stories, but she takes it many steps further during this one.

Death is not unknown on the Trail or in the West, but Peterson doesn’t hesitate to include both death and the violence of the time.  It’s actually so clearly depicted that I’m glad I didn’t share this book with My Big Helper before reading it, as I think she needs a few more years before tackling this type of hardcore violence.

It’s not gratuitous violence, though.  The scenes included put the story into perspective and added a layer of depth and wisdom to Treasured Grace that could not exist otherwise.  Peterson’s attention to historical detail is amazing, and it’s obvious that she’s both a lover of the West and an admirer of the fierce, independent spirit which was necessary to survive.

I found Grace’s knowledge of herbs and natural medicine fascinating.  As someone who is only beginning to learn about these things, I love that she was written as an expert, and I would have loved to read more details about her remedies.  Her conflicts with Dr. Whitman and other educated, trained doctors made a fascinating subplot.

Treasured Grace is a heartbreakingly raw tale of survival and love.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, put it on your TBR pile immediately.

I received a free copy of Treasured Grace from Bethany House Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

 

Becky Wade’s ‘True to You’ Prize Pack and $100 Giveaway

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade’s new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

 

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky
 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

“True to You” by Becky Wade

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After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Becky Wade

Wow!  I Wade’s newest series starts off with a roller coaster of romance and emotion!  I love a sweet feel-good romance, and I thought that’s what True to You was, but it’s so, so much more.

It starts off that way, though.  Although I’ve loved her other books and was fascinated with the premise of this one, I was a bit skeptical after I started to read.  A few of the names sounded a bit cheesy, and it began like a straightforward love story.

It’s not, though.  It really is so much more

Wade layers the story with piece after piece of well-timed drama.  It’s so much more than the premise implies – genealogist sparking with a hunky former SEAL.  They both have full and complete backstories that, while a bit fantastic, play totally and completely into their present and affect any possible future they might have together.  The timing of events is impeccable, as one complication rolls right into another, until by the end the story is so deep and theological that you’ll need to surface for air.

I do enjoy a good romantic story, but I prefer for them to have at least one additional angle to them, for the very reason that Nora realizes in this book:  fictional men are perfect, and real ones are not.  When we read sweet stories of romantic, hunky, perfect men, we can start to expect to find our own Adolphus in real life, and that won’t ever happen.  Nobody’s perfect.

Wade makes that case perfectly through Nora in True to You without doing in her own book – partly because this isn’t just a romance, but partly because, in un-romance-book style, it’s full of theological revelations to back all that up.  A reader will get a whole sermon in fun, fictional style without ever realizing it.  The depth that Wade writes into this story was very unexpected, and yet it’s what makes the book so completely perfect:  it has the fun of a traditional romance and the depth of a novel.  It’s the best of both worlds!

The problems Nora and John face are much, much deeper than the usual does he like me?, and while that depth is weighty, Nora’s quirky sisters add fun to every problem.  Not that they take away from the seriousness of it, but their relationships and personalities lend new angles and subtle humor to each interaction with their sister, lightening the mood and keeping the reader from crying into her tea alongside Nora.

Without Willow and Britt, and even their Eyore-ish Grandmother, that last bit could happen.  Wade writes with the experience, professionalism, and drama of Karen Kingsbury, and who can read any of her stories without needing a full box of tissues?  Wade hits just the right notes of love, drama, and faith in True to You, however – making it a definite winner.  I can’t wait to revisit the Bradford sisters in the sequel.

Click here to read other books in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 
About the author:
 
Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.
 
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

Suggested Title:¬†Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘A Fragile Hope’ Blog Tour and Giveaway

When your life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages, what happens when your own marriage begins to fall apart? Find out what happens to Josiah Chamberlain in Cynthia Ruchti’s new book, A Fragile Hope. Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

Celebrate the release of A Fragile Hope by entering to win Cynthia’s Sign of Hope Giveaway!

 

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 3. The winner will be announced May 4 on the Litfuse blog.

“A Fragile Hope” by Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti

Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?
 Ruchti has written a sweetly dramatic story of forgiveness and love in her newest novel A Fragile Hope.  Josiah reads as fully realistic and completely clueless.  This combination works well as a vehicle for exploring the roles that we play in marriage.
Ruchti shares important insights about marriage throughout the story, but you’ll never feel preached at or taught.  Instead, I read the book in a single afternoon, never once picking up my phone or putting down the book – I read it straight through.  I was completely caught up in Josiah’s story:  his care of his wife, the trauma he endured as he struggled to figure out his wife’s actions, and the pain he felt as he reconciled those with the role he played in their marriage.  I thoroughly enjoyed these lessons, and Josiah’s insights would provide provocative discussions.
I can’t imagine writing an entire story in which one of the main character is unable to communicate, but Ruchti not only did so, but she knocked it out of the park. A Fragile Hope is quietly introspective.  It’s a journey through the lowest depths of marriage and the faith required to rebuilt it, and it’s one everyone should take along with Josiah.
 

 
About the author:
 
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.
 
One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.
 
Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

A Fragile Hope Cynthia Ruchti

“Her Secret” by Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.
 
For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

 

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.
 
Gray has nailed the stalker situation perfectly in her new book Her Secret.  From Hannah’s fears to reactions to changes in her environment, Gray describes the reactions of a stalker’s victim perfectly.
 
That realism is what made this book so exciting.  While the love story is fun, it was that combination along with the suspense of Hannah’s situation that kept the pages turning.  As someone who was stalked years ago – and still prefers to keep her back to the wall in a crowded room – I could totally relate to Hannah’s fears throughout the book.  I enjoyed the safe places and friends with which Hannah was surrounded, however, and that made Her Story a fun and suspenseful read.
 
I love the way that Gray reinvents each new series that she writes.  Her Amish books are typically touching; the historical fiction are suspenseful, but this was definitely a great combination of the two, and I love the way that Gray combines the realistic, dangerous situation with the Amish setting.  I hope that it’s not a situation that ever occurs for any Amish women, but it’s a very exciting concept.
 
I can’t wait to see where Gray is going with the next book in the series. 
 
 

 
About the author:
 
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
 
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

‘Home at Last” by Deborah Raney

Deborah Raney

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite-well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?
 Home at Last is a fitting and exciting conclusion to the Chicory Inn series.  I loved the romance of the series and the real-life problems that fill it.  Home at Last wraps up most of the family issues and gives them a satisfactory conclusion.
It didn’t all happen the way that I expected, though.  I wasn’t far into this last book before I was sure that I knew how it was going to end.  I thought I had the perfect solution to each person’s problems, but Raney totally through me for a loop there.  While I had one main event right, the rest all had twists that I hadn’t foreseen.  Being surprised by a book is always a happy thing.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the way that Raney weaves the stories of the family members together.  I love the way that each story begins in a book prior to the one that tells their story and then continues on into other books.  Lane and Shayla’s story was shorter than the others since this is the last book, but their ending is satisfying.
Raney tackled big issues with each book:  adoption, social/economic status, race, family, etc.  This last one, with racial tension running high through each page, takes the suspense to a whole ‘nother level.  She asks you to really put yourself into Shayla’s shoes and consider all aspects of the events happening to her.  I appreciate this honest appraisal of the racial tension plaguing our country and enjoy Lane’s desire to improve them.
I hope that Raney has a new series on deck.  I wouldn’t want to have to wait long for more of her work. 

About the author:
 
Deborah Raney‘s novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers’ Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb’s novels-for life in the city of Wichita.
Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity,  All opinions are my own.

“The Elusive Miss Ellison” by Carolyn Miller

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Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions.

That’s the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister’s daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won’t take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia’s pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother–who stole the most important person in Livvie’s world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he’s just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there’s already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect.

That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn’t the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society’s opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

Carolyn Miller

If you’re a fan of Regency romance, you’ll love The Elusive Miss EllisonIt has it all – inter-class attraction, a poor village in need of attention, a faith journey by one unaware, slanderous gossip by the wealthy, drama, tragedy, and more.   I think Miller’s book would attract even those unfamiliar with this time period because of the great drama and repartee that lies within these pages.

I loved the descriptions.  From ball gowns to wild blossoms by the roadway, Miller set the backdrop to each scene well.  I could picture how it must look and loved the extra oomph that gave to the story.

Nicholas is a very complex character.  With much tragedy in his past and unwanted responsibility now sitting on his shoulders, he struggles to deal with it all, and yet he comes across as a now-honorable man, at least most of the time.  I found myself wanting him to fare well even when he wasn’t behaving well, and yet you could see the man that he could be. 

The best element to Miller’s writing, though, was the way that she wrote subtle mysteries into the story.  This wasn’t an ordinary historical romance; she fed you small pieces of backstory at unexpected times, often when you hadn’t been sure there was even more to tell.  I loved the way that more kept coming just when I wanted it.

There are more books coming soon in the Regency Brides series – I can’t wait to read them.

You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy here.

 
About the author:
 
Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.
 
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

 

“Still Life” by Dani Pettrey

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Dani Pettrey’s latest is out, and it’s a winner ….

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Pettrey’s latest work in the Chesapeake Valor series is an action-packed winner!  If you enjoy romantic stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, then Still Life is most definitely for you.  Between the danger that Avery faces as she tries to find her friend, the romantic tension between her and Parker, and morbid photos that keep popping up of dead beauties, you won’t be able to put Still Life down.

Avery is a fascinating main character to me.  With her rough background and gritty determination to overcome it, Avery’s journey to healing and love is a page-turner.  With Parker’s fun Irish accent, who wouldn’t be enthralled? 

I enjoyed the ties Pettrey created between Avery’s past and her present, between the art world and the real one.  As my daughter and I enjoy playing with our cameras and trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot – though only of things like flowers and butterflies – reading about real photographers and their work was a fascinating angle of the story.

Pettrey excels at building suspense, and part of that is the way that she adds suspects to the list and then sorts through them.  She keeps you guessing for much of the story while she drips details into your brain.  I was a good two-thirds of the way through the story before I had even a hope of pinpointing who the killer was, and even then I wasn’t sure I was right.  I love when an author can keep me guessing ’til the end!

If you’re a fan of Christian suspense fiction, hurry and get your hands on a copy of Still Life.  You won’t regret it.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.