Monday, May 29, 2017

Love Among the Lilacs by Jenna Victoria, © 2017

Love Among the Lilacs
Click here to purchase your copy.

Enter Coach® zipper accordion leather wallet Giveaway

My Review:

This is a story of rebuilt trust and forgiveness. Constantly being let down with unreliability, Mollie Wright has a new beginning. A new home! A cottage filled with love from the dear sisters who previously lived there. Upon growing older, they decided to sell the little property. Mollie is thrilled they have selected her as the buyer.

Nephew Sean Grady is not so sure his dear great-aunts should leave ~ basically his memories being there and the fragrance of the lilacs everyone in the village enjoys their sharing of them on special occasions and just to say, "I'm thinking of you."

Unaware that it has been sold, he unlocks the front door. His first glimpse of Mollie cleaning the stove sets off an adventure he doesn't expect. Certain that he will never love again after being spurned, a division has set in that he feels cannot be rectified.

With both of their pasts clouding their present, Grady Cove exhibits loving neighbors who harbor their delicate feelings to bloom into explosions of understanding and forgiveness vivid to touch.

You will be allowed to view their outlooks, hopes, and dreams. Enjoy Love Among the Lilacs as truths become apparent when hearts are open to receive blessings of reconciliations.

About the Book

Book title: Love Among the Lilacs
Author: Jenna Victoria
Release date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Sweet romance

Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?

Author Guest Post ~*Jenna Victoria~*

I am thrilled you will be introducing my newest novel, Love Among the Lilacs, to your readers and visitors through CelebrateLit. I am excited to share this sweet love story with quirky characters who hijacked the plot mid-stream, and took me places I did not anticipate!

So – Why Love Among the Lilacs? I chose the title and a subplot regarding lilacs for one reason – I absolutely adore the scent! The fact that a lilac’s bloom is so fleeting, makes their fragrance that much more memorable and anticipated.

jenna pic 1
Mollie Wright anticipates something too–finally buying her own home, Lilac Cottage, after a childhood of homelessness. Genevieve Carter, one of the two elderly sellers, leaves her a note of welcome next to a small bouquet of lilacs in Mollie’s new bedroom, after the closing. This helps readers experience Genevieve’s spirit of generosity. Isn’t the bedroom phone antique? The sisters lived in the cottage for more than 50 years and changed little of its amenities.

How did I choose to write about Mollie? What if a character dreamed and saved and finally bought a house after a childhood of homelessness? Then, due to a real estate closing error and interference by the seller’s great-nephew, her sweet cottage ownership is in real peril. Dare she hope for a positive outcome?

Jenna pic 2Attorney Sean Grady didn’t want his maternal great-aunts, who lovingly raised him and his younger brother Mark, to sell Lilac Cottage. After a rookie mistake led to a tragedy when he was an associate at his family law firm, Sean decided to concentrate on elder law. He’s seen plenty of abuse of the elderly in his ten-year career, and something about Mollie Wright doesn’t sit well with him.

Mollie finds support from her neighbors–including long retired Emily Rogers (Genevieve’s BFF) who often visits Lilac Cottage’s back garden through this connecting gate. It’s so beautiful! She reveals her profession which is perfectly suited to Mollie’s needs. We see selfless giving and stalwart friendship in Emily’s character.

Jenna pic 3
Mollie has secrets to hide, and a far away half-brother and mother who aren’t exactly upstanding members of society.

When her half-brother unexpectedly surfaces, bringing a mountain of trouble with him, the budding love between Sean and Mollie takes a hard tumble.

The intervention of others gives Mollie and Sean a chance at reconciliation–but is it too late? Can they finally unpack and empty baggage from their past?

I hope you enjoy Love Among the Lilacs as much as I did writing it!

Happy Reading!

P.S. My selected giveaway, an authentic Coach Disney X Mickey Mouse accordion zip wallet in glove-tanned leather was chosen to represent the transformation of Mollie’s negative childhood experiences into memories of acceptance and joy among the trials.

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author Jenna Victoria

Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet and compelling romances, and also for those who look for her  “fiction that feeds your faith” titles–happily-ever-after romance and romantic suspense stories with a Christian world-view. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading… with a heroine who is in grave danger and a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.

***Thank you, Celebrate Lit for inviting me along on the Blog Stops for Jenna Victoria's sweet romance novel, Love Among the Lilacs. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.*** 

Blog Stops

May 25Pause for Tales
May 26Carpe Diem
May 28Live.Love.Read.
May 29Lane Hill House
June 5Cafinated Reads
June 7my site/autism mom



To celebrate her tour, Jenna is giving away a grand prize of an authentic, new in unopened gift box Coach® zipper accordion leather wallet – from their Disney X collection (Value $140.00)!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection: A Newspaper Ad for Husbands Brings a Wave of Men to a Small Kansas Town by Cynthia Hickey, Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Carrie Francett Pagels, and Gina Welborn, © 2017

Thank you, author Carrie Fancett Pagels, for having a print copy of Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection sent to me. I will be reviewing her novella, Dime Novel Suitor, and continue on to other Turtle Springs, Kansas happenings. The Collections are so interesting in theme and the opportunity to meet new authors possibly too.

Turtle Springs, Kansas
April 1866
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Dime Novel Suitor by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Widow Caroline Kane is the proprietor of a restaurant and inn—
and responsible for her five teenaged siblings. But she has
no plans of finding a mail-order groom.

Britisher Barden Granville IV is on a “cowboy holiday”
when he finds himself flat broke in Kansas.  When he
answers an old “help wanted” ad, Caroline misconstrues
Barden is there as a potential husband. Will the beautiful
and feisty widow cause the new vicar to make Kansas his home?

My Review:

How did I ever come into this? Caring for the Tumble Inn and my five younger siblings. Now that Pa's died, my older sister declares she is making decisions for us to better my situation. She has entered my name as a sponsor for bringing the ragtag (my words) to town for weddin'. And... she has offered the Tumble Inn for all of the commotions!
Image result for 1866 inn 3-story

Caroline Kane has an adventure ahead of her. Have you ever been put in a situation, not of your own doings, that got you so wrapped up in it there wasn't even time to think about what was coming next?

Barden Granville has come to town for a cowboy adventure before continuing on to his British home. His first venture in Kansas City didn't work out exactly as he thought it would.... Innocence sometimes could turn ~ almost ~ deadly.

Spunky Caroline may have unknowingly met her match. Told the "auditions" are over, Barden finds he has arrived late. Has he missed his chance for the job he has come to apply for at the inn? Thankfully, Caroline says she needs help in the kitchen and Barden has declared he has been tutored as a cook by her friends in Kansas City. My, how that worked out well, filling both of their needs! And a room to boot!

Caroline is convinced her friends would not have sent him on if they did not approve. My, the advertisement all the way to Kansas City...

A comedy, indeed. This is what is known as a double-meaning.
"I'm Barden Granville, and I'll be responsible for dinner preparations here." He gave them what he hoped was a winning smile. "For the next six weeks at least."
   --Dime Novel Suitor, 323.
A trial period to see if he fits in...

Image result for beadles dime novels Image result for beadles dime novels Image result for beadles dime novels
Image result for Kansas ranch plains

The thrilling stories Barden had read in Beadle's Dime Novels carry him forward to his desire to find a cowboy experience in Turtle Creek on his holiday. Especially then finding there is a ranch nearby, and it is owned by... Caroline's sister and her husband!
"And I should have told you why I'd come to America."
   --Ibid., 371.
This is a fun story with a lot of action and moving on as the family comes to seek advice from Barden. He has support from other kitchen staff as he prepares culinary feats for boarders and those stopping by to eat at the inn restaurant. He has other skills that endear him to those in Turtle Creek.

Carrie FancettPagels
author Carrie Fancett Pagels

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd, © 2017

A Treasures of Surrey Novel ~ Book 3

9780718011857, A Stranger at Fellsworth, Sarah E. Ladd

Miss Henrietta Stillworth
Miss Annabelle Thorley sees with the heart. Away from the crowd of demands and sequenced from what could have become her plight, she goes forward, looking beyond what appears.

How often do we withhold what we realize a person needs ~ a smile, a nod, an agreeable answer ~ so simple but often withheld unknowingly when we could have provided the very thing that would put a lilt to their walk? In this instance, it wasn't those things, but it was understanding that transpired.
You gave the woman the object she attempted to rob you of.
   --A Stranger at Fellsworth, 15.
Already I am indebted to Annabelle for the realization that "but for the Lord, there go I." Taking where we are for granted, blessings that are overflowing are capable of easing the need of another. Perhaps, not require, but would ease their load? As Annabelle, her eyes were open to see the personhood.

I love this quote:
"It does amaze me how you manage to find adventure wherever you go,...."
   --Ibid., 20.
Owen Locke, the gamekeeper at Bancroft Park ~ Fellsworth in Surrey, heeds closer observation as to his awareness too!

Wilhurst House, London
Annabelle's brother, Thomas, is expecting a house guest, Mr. Stephen Treadwell. Unaware this was the destination as well of Owen Locke, Annabelle is surprised they meet again. Fortunate, indeed, that they had made each other's acquaintance prior to his arrival at Wilhurst House.
The moment her foot touched the carriage step, she traded the life she knew for another one yet unknown.
   --Ibid., 75.
Regency-Women Set 22 | Richard Jenkins Photography:
Miss Annabelle Thorley
Annabelle leaves London, arriving at her aunt and uncle's home in Fellsworth. As superintendent of the Fellsworth School, Annabelle is offered housing and a position at the school.

Young Miss Hannah Locke
Upon Owen's arrival back at Bancroft Park, he has occasion to meet Annabelle again. His daughter attends the school as a boarder. As a widower, Owen is appreciative of the direction and care his young daughter receives that he feels unqualified to provide for her. As Annabelle is asked to instruct Hannah in extra reading, she also introduces her to painting. They develop a trust in one another.

The story has twists and turns unexpectedly, matched by determination and earnest devotions to overcome adversity. It is uncertain whom can be trusted.

I would like to see Miss Henrietta Stillworth freed from her circumstances to be given the opportunity she is worthy of. To be reclaimed and loved for the true person she is.

Sarah Ladd
author Sarah E. Ladd
***Thank you, BookLook Bloggers for inviting me to be a part of the tour for this third novel in the Treasures of Surrey series by Sarah E. Ladd. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

The Curiosity Keeper
Treasures of Surrey, Book 1
Dawn at Emberwilde
Treasures of Surrey, Book 2

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mandisa Out of the Dark [Deluxe Edition] CD, © 2017

Brand New Album featuring the hit single "Unfinished"
Deluxe Edition features 3 Bonus Songs

My Review:
Uplifting, encouraging ~ Mandisa worships our Lord renewed in His love.  
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:2-3 (NLT)
A changed life turned to Him. Join Mandisa in our worship of Him. He alone is able to change darkness to light ~ despair to hope.
"Thankfully, it only takes a flicker of light to dispel the darkness."
J*O*Y unspeakable and full of glory.

We don't walk alone. Whether smooth, contemplative, or upbeat engaging rhyme ~ His Name is to be praised. Soothing, redemptive ~ freeing. Selective blend interweaving thanks-giving. Vibrating tones; vibrant arrangements intermingled sounds reaching peaks of joy infiltrating. Assuredly real. He will rescue you. Call upon Him in all of your day.

Story Behind the Album

Review and Giveaway of Mandisa's new Out of the Dark music CD!
The new album also features guest artists Kirk Franklin, TobyMac, Britt Nicole, and Jeremy Camp.

Purchase album Mandisa Out of the Dark here!

Mandisa - Official Acoustic Video for “Unfinished” from her new album ‘Out of the Dark’ coming May 19!  Subscribe to MandisaVEVO

Out of the Dark [Deluxe Edition] Track List ~ 18 songs | 55 minutes
Image result for mandisa 2017
01  Voicemail (Intro)  1:36

02  I'm Still Here  3:40
03  Out of the Dark  3:01
04  Unfinished  3:33
05  Bleed the Same (Intro)  0:48 (feat. Kirk Franklin)
06  Bleed the Same  4:04 (feat. Toby Mac and Kirk Franklin)
07  Comeback Kid  3:05
08  What You're Worth  3:05 (feat. Britt Nicole)
09  Dear John Praise Report  0:26
10  Good News  2:51
11  Prove Me Wrong  4:07
12  Mothdisa (Interlude)  1:27
13  The One He Speaks Through  3:47
14  Shine  3:26
15  My First Love  3:41 (feat. Jeremy Camp)

Bonus Content
16  Shame Off  3:20
17  Keep Getting Up  3:43
18  Back to Life  5:24

*One CD winner of Mandisa's Out of the Dark 
will be notified May 26, 2017. Comment below
with your email[at]contact[dot]com for drawing.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

*Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trusting Grace by Maggie Brendan, © 2017

Virtues and Vices of the Old West, Book 3


What a beautiful story! Maggie Brendan's novels are wholesome and real. This story becomes endearing and hopeful for a rescue from all burgeoning doubt and tragedy to a calm and trusting heart. Three children have remarkable engaging and giving ways when they could have chosen to reflect resentment and abandonment prominently. A young widow caring for her declining beloved Pop has the planting season ahead becoming far more than an expected harvest crop.

Cover ArtEnters a woe-worn man, bereft of hope, expectation, or care. He has left his community after the passing of his wife, traveling here and there to find work for a living sustenance. Deception has swallowed him or caused by a fear of nonacceptance enveloping plans or unintentional hurt that plagued him.

As sure as the sun rises and sets, so beautiful how lives are drawn together, unsuspectedly. The children nurturing in their nurture; the workman being relieved in his suffering; the dearest heart being fulfilled by His promises.

Owen Miller is a blessed man, renewed and inspired by care and trust. His daughter, Grace Bidwell, keeps confidence with him and he had wise counsel to offer ~ wait. Their hired hand, Robert Frasier, becomes more than he thought ~ becoming a close observer and following the silent encouragement given him, becomes closer to the children in their expression of love and surrounding hope. Tom, Becky, and Sarah enliven the story with their growing freedom to be who they are ~ beloved by many they meet.
She's a woman that requires little in life besides her books, cats, or long walks.
   --Trusting Grace, 173.
Now, wouldn't you like to meet a woman like that! Stella Whitfield has the exact position running the boardinghouse.

I would like to stay here near this small Montana community and watch the children grow up and expand.

Grace gives wise advice herself. Will she be able to keep it unto herself?
You could try not focusing on the past, but look forward to what the future holds.
   --Ibid., 262.
A warm story I would like to revisit. I am hoping Opal Sloan's story will be expanded one day! I would like to follow more of her life!

***Thank you, Maggie Brendan, for this delightful story, and to the publisher for sending me a print copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

EnJ*O*Y this excerpt from Maggie Brendan's Trusting Grace

For those who suffer with CIDP—may you always
keep the faith and look forward to your new,
imperishable body that awaits you in heaven.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous:
love does not brag and is not arrogant.
1 Corinthians 13:4 NASB


Gallatin Valley
Montana Territory
Spring 1866

Grace Bidwell pushed her way through the busy mercantile store in the bustling town of Bozeman, certain that it would be the most beneficial place to post a HIRED HELP sign for everyone to see. She had no choice in the matter—if Bidwell Farms was to remain in operation, then she must have help. Otherwise they’d lose the small potato farm.
   On her way to find Eli, the store owner, several men moved aside to allow her room, grinning at her like young schoolboys. She felt her face burn with their obvious stares and the tipping of their hats, mindful that other ladies in the store also turned to look at her. But she marched past, giving a brief nod to the ladies, most of whom she didn’t really know. Grace hadn’t much time to entertain or be involved with the ladies’ social circle, or anything else for that matter, since her father had fallen ill.
   The mercantile was filled with everything anyone could need, from farm implements and pots and pans to ready-to-wear clothing, fabric, and household staples. Grace savored the mingling smells of the various items—neatly stacked or in barrels—and the scent of burning wood from the stove.
   On her way to the counter, she couldn’t help but notice a band of three grubby children standing near the glass case and peering at the delectable candy displayed inside. They looked to be ranging in age from four to eleven, if she had to guess, but since she had no children of her own—a huge void that pained her sorely—she wasn’t the best judge of ages. The smallest one, a petite girl, wore a faded, dirty plaid dress, her hair a mat of tangled, golden curls.
   Grace held her reticule tightly, along with the notice she’d written, and watched the children. The middle child, a slightly older girl, didn’t look much better. Her worn dress barely covered her calves and her shoes revealed cracked leather and dried mud around the edges. The boy—maybe the girls’ older brother—yanked on their arms in frustration while tucking a package beneath his thin arm. “Come on! We’ve got to leave now.” His dark hair covered most of his eyes and was badly in need of a haircut, and his pants, supported by suspenders, were extremely short. He wore no socks with his brogans.
   “Please, can’t we get at least one peppermint stick to share?” the littlest one whined.
   The older girl shrugged her thin shoulders. “Sarah, you already know that we don’t have any money left, so not unless you intend to stay and sweep the floor for the owner of this establishment,” she said wryly, pulling her arm from the boy’s grip.
   “Maybe next time, Sarah, I promise—but not today.” The boy clamped his jaw tight, dropping Sarah’s arm.
   “You have your package now, so you kids run along,” the clerk said, and shooed them in the direction of the door, nearly pushing Grace to the side and sending her rocking in her sturdy pumps.
   Grace quickly steadied herself and felt compelled to step in. “Please, let me buy the children each a stick of peppermint.” The three stood motionless, staring at her with large, disbelieving eyes.
   The clerk paused, turning toward her. “Mrs. Bidwell, I . . . uh, didn’t see you there. I’m sorry—”
   His weak apology was completely dismissed by Grace, who reached into her reticule and handed him a few coins. Turning, she smiled at the children.
   “We can’t let you do that,” the young lad protested through narrowed eyes. From his shoulder bones poking up through his shirt, it looked as though he could stand to gain some weight.
   “Why not?” the youngest one asked innocently.
   He looked over at her. “Because, we don’t take money from strangers.”
   “Well then.” Grace drew in a quick breath. “My name is Grace Bidwell, so now we’re not strangers. It’s only a small gift for you to enjoy this sparkling, spring day. Tell your mama I meant no harm.”
   “We ain’t got no mama,” he huffed, casting his expressionless eyes away from Grace.
   “I’m sorry.” Grace nearly took it upon herself to correct the lad’s grammar but thought better of it.
   The clerk returned, handing them each a stick of candy. With a nod to Grace, he went back to his work.
   Grace frowned, noticing the older girl watching her closely. She was about to ask them their names when the lad turned to gather the girls and all three of them clomped down the steps in an obvious hurry, disappearing from Grace’s view.
  Grace stared after them, thinking.
   Eli strode over, tapping her on the shoulder. “Is there anything wrong, Grace?”
   Grace turned around and looked into Eli’s kindly, older face. “Oh, no. Not at all. I was wondering about those children just now. I don’t believe I’ve seen them around.”
   “Seems like I’ve seen the boy before, but then we have such an influx of folks in Bozeman, a man my age can barely keep up.” He chuckled.
   Grace waved a gloved hand. “Oh fiddlesticks! You’re not old and still have plenty of vigor. I wish my father did.” Tears misted her vision, but she took a shaky breath and tried to put the situation out of her mind.
   “I’m really sorry about your father,” Eli said, his face softening. “What can I help you with today? Did you get your field ready for planting?”
   She shook her head. “I’m afraid I haven’t, and that’s exactly why I’m here.” She handed him the piece of paper. “I’ve written a notice to hire a helper with the farm. It’s just becoming too much for me.” Grace thought about how her back ached from helping her father in and out of bed, and the thought of bending in the field all day made her wince. “Do you know of someone needing work, or could I post this on your bulletin board? I’d be glad to pay you a fee.”
   Eli slapped his thigh. “I don’t charge a thing for my board. I consider it a service to the community until we get a newspaper going.” He smiled, his hands on his hips. “I can’t think of a soul at the moment, but let’s go nail it up right now and see what happens. There’s always drifters and the like passing through.”
   “Well, as long as they’re reliable. I need someone who’s not afraid to work.”
   “Or someone who has to work and will work hard.” Eli grunted.
   “That’s true. You are so kind, Eli, to me and Pop. Please stop over to see him soon. He misses you but hasn’t felt well enough to take the ride into town like he used to. It’s not easy for him,” she said, following him to where the bulletin board hung next to the service counter.
   “I’ll be sure and ride over with the missus soon.” He pinned the paper at eye level where it was noticeable. “Is there any- thing else today?”
   “No, Eli. I appreciate this, but I’d better be getting back to the farm.”
   “You can repay me with some of that delicious huckleberry pie you make when I stop over.” He grinned down at her.
   “I certainly shall. See you soon, and thanks again.” Grace waved to the clerk as she left, hope springing in her heart.
   Before returning to the farm, she decided to stop by and say hello to her friend Ginny. Avoiding the deep ruts in the road, she crossed the street in her buggy, took a left, and stopped. She hopped out and looped the horse’s reins around the gatepost, stepped through the wrought-iron gate, and walked up to the sprawling porch to ring the bell. As she waited, Grace admired the potted plants and wicker furniture where she and Ginny had enjoyed much conversation and tea. Virginia, a Southern transplant after the Civil War, had married well. Frank was a successful attorney, but she was down-to-earth with all her Southern charm, and once she and Grace met at church, a fast friendship began. She insisted that Grace call her Ginny.
   The door swung open and Ginny’s smiling face greeted her. “Grace, I’m so glad to see you. Please come in,” she said in her Southern drawl.
   As Grace made her way through the door she said, “Are you sure? Is this a bad time?”
   Ginny laughed. “It’s never a bad time to see my friend.” She led the way to the parlor, beautifully furnished in colorful tapestry with heavy Persian rugs and comfortable chairs flanking the fireplace.
   Grace took a seat on the brocade settee and Ginny asked, “Shall I ask Nell to make us some tea?”
   Grace shook her head. “I can’t stay long. I just needed to see another human face besides my pop or I shall go mad! I get so lonely sometimes,” she murmured while staring at the fire in the hearth.
   “My dear friend, I wish you’d come to dinner soon and meet Warren, Frank’s new business partner.”
   “I know you mean well, Ginny, but I’ve seen him at church. I don’t believe he has any interest in knowing a widow.”
   Ginny nodded. “He does seem to have a flock of ladies around him, I’ll agree, but he doesn’t know what he’s missing.”
   Grace tittered. “You are so biased, Ginny! But I love you for it. Now let’s change the subject if you don’t mind. What have you been doing since I last saw you?”
   Ginny frowned at her. “I’m on to you, Grace. You must put the widow weeds behind you now. Life is too short to spend all your time only taking care of your father. He can stay alone for a few hours. You simply must find a way to do something for yourself, and that should include meeting eligible men. You could marry again.”
   Grace chewed her lip and looked into her friend’s eyes filled with genuine concern. “Maybe . . . I’m not sure I could ever love again. Losing Victor was the hardest thing I’ve experienced in my life.”
   Ginny reached over, patting her hand briefly. “I know, and I’m very sorry. But trust me, you need to get out a bit more—”
   The sound of voices in the hallway floated within hearing. Ginny turned in the direction of the doorway. “Looks like you’ll get to meet Warren after all,” she whispered.
   Grace started to reply but Ginny put a finger to her lips. “Shh, here they come.”
   Grace’s protest caught in her throat as the footsteps drew closer. She should’ve gone on home instead of stopping after leaving the mercantile. She wasn’t in the mood to meet a man of Ginny’s choosing—or anyone else’s, for that matter. To be truthful, she wasn’t sure what she wanted.
   Ginny rose from her chair as her husband approached. “My dear Frank, you’re home early. Hello, Warren,” she said to the gentleman next to her husband. He nodded hello and gallantly bent to kiss her hand.
   “You’re spoiling my wife and she’s going to come to expect more attention from me.” Frank chuckled, then kissed his wife’s brow. “Grace,” he said, suddenly spotting her on the settee, “it’s good to see you. You must meet Warren Sullivan, my new business partner.” He turned to Warren. “This is Miss Grace Bidwell.”
   “It’s very nice to meet you,” he said and stepped over to where Grace stood, taking a brief bow. His dark hair, shiny from applied pomade, fell across his forehead as he bowed, and a whiff of spicy cologne hung in the air. His pin-striped suit was impeccable.
   Grace murmured hello with a slight tilt of her head, mindful as his piercing dark eyes that held a promise of mystery swept over her. She wasn’t sure if his was a look of appraisal or something else.
   “I’ve heard lots about you—all good.” He grinned.
   “I was just telling her that we should all get together. How about dinner Saturday? Are you free?” Ginny asked.
   “Great idea,” Frank said, touching his wife’s arm.
   Warren turned to smile at Ginny. “Why, yes, I believe I am, but maybe you should ask Grace first.”
   Grace felt put on the spot. “Well, I’m not certain. I’ll have to let you know, Ginny.” She rose, clutching her reticule. “I really must be going now. I can’t leave my father for too long.”
   “I’ll walk you to the door,” Ginny said, flashing her a conspiratorial smile.
Maggie Brendan, Trusting Grace Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2017. Used by permission.

Cover Art
Book 1
Cover Art
Book 2

Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Deep for Words: A Civil War Novel by Andrea Boeshaar, © 2017

Shenandoah Valley Saga, Book Two

My Review:

So many thoughts. To be separated from family ~ far from home with the war between them, not only with distance but with sides drawn. And the remains of my family? My sister, Carrie Ann, married to a Union officer. We have seen the remnants of war continue with the loss of our mother and younger sister.

Rescued, I am rescued! A man enters the Inn and asks for Miss Margaret Bell. That is me!! At first, I am chagrined wondering if it is in recouping funds he has lost, but no! It is Carrie's husband and he has made a way of escape for me! Release from the man who was behind the loss of all those held dear to me. Well, maybe Carrie Ann and I did have a few struggles with each other, bossy as she can be to me.

Home. Will she accept me? Being married and all, Carrie may have continued on in her life, wanting no interference from me. But, Peyton said to come, she would be amiss to be left behind.

Known long before the war between the states, growing up together as children, choosing opposite sides caused the dilemma for whom to trust. Could they be taken at their word, or by their actions? Reading the series in order will give you a fuller aspect in the continuation of history and its events.

Peyton Collier and Elijah "Eli" Kent are in such a situation as best friends, having gone to academy school together. As their families become intertwined, how much can be shared?

Missing during battle and reported dead, Eli must put into place the instructions Peyton had assigned him. Protecting Carrie Ann and her sister Margaret, and Peyt's Aunt Ruth was foremost.

The trials of war on both sides were severe. With the temperature and lack of supplies, exhaustion was also a foe. Homes when available were used for immediate hospitals of the wounded ~ both for their men and prisoners.

During the war there was a lack of hospital space. Douglas Hospital in Washington DC set up tents for the overflow of the wounded. Photo by Mathew Brady.:
During the war there was a lack of hospital space. Douglas Hospital in Washington DC set up tents for the overflow of the wounded. Photo by Mathew Brady. --author Andrea Boeshaar

The story ends needing the next page beginning book 3, There is a Season. Letters and descriptions of daily happenings and activities are vivid. Characters adjust within the circumstances circulating socially, politically, and everyday business necessary to carry them forward.

I would like to know more about Rebekah Kercheval, a character in the background, and hope she will be expanded in the next story.

Libby Prison - The Libby Prison Escape was one of the most famous (and successful) prison breaks during the American Civil War. Overnight between February 9 and February 10, 1864, more than 100 imprisoned Union soldiers broke out of their prisoner of war building at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.:
Prisoner of War Camp during American Civil War, Richmond, Virginia

Enjoy this excerpt from Book 2 of the Shenandoah Valley Saga, Too Deep for Words ~ Chapter 1


October 6, 1864

"Well, I'll be hanged. The Yankee Cavalry is ridin' into Woodstock."
   Margaret Jean Bell paused in midstroke and dropped the rag she'd been using to clean the sticky bar. She looked toward the entrance of the Wayfarers Inn where a raggedy-dressed old man stood staring out to the street. "More Yankees in town?"
   "That's what I jest said, girl." The old man swayed slightly and kneaded his bristly jaw. "Judging by the black smoke over yonder, them blue-bellies is burning ever'thing in sight too!"
   Margaret clutched her midsection. Questions tumbled through her mind. Would one of the Yankee soldiers recognize her and, if so, did he have an inkling of her trickery?
   Instinct screamed, run! Her breath came and went in quick repetitions, as if she'd already cantered a mile up Main Street.
   Breathe. Breathe.
   Her lightheadedness slowly abated. Logic soon returned.
   Wasn't she accustomed to soldiers, Yanks and Rebs alike? She was, sure as the sun set in the west. She'd learned men were men, bluecoats or gray, and she held her own in their presence, even when they turned violent. Should one of the soldiers insist on getting his money back for services that were promised but never rendered, Margaret would simply tell the truth: Mr. Veyschmidt had snatched her ill-gotten gains. Therefore she was unable to provide him with a refund. Afterward, she'd accept the beating likely to come.
   All the louts who frequented the Wayfarers Inn were the same, dark and volatile.
   Oh, God, get me out of this place!
   Her mind turned to Carrie Ann. How lucky her oldest sister was to escape by marrying a blue-belly. Her younger sister, Sarah Jane, managed to get away by running off with a peddler, except she got herself killed in the process.
   Mama too was gone now. Died at the end of September. Now Margaret alone dealt with the temperamental, tyrannical innkeeper who enjoyed reminding her of the debt she owed. And insisted on gold coins for payment no less. He paid her nothing for the daily chores, nothing for serving plates of food and ale to customers. She often worked until the wee hours of the morning when every other eighteen-year-old young lady was fast asleep. And each week the sum she owed grew larger, not smaller. Margaret, in all the rest of her life, could never repay him.
   Yes, death was preferable to this wretched existence.
   She set down two bottles of Mr. Veyschmidt's backroom concoction, which he called ale, on the bar. Then she waited. Soldiers, both Reb and Yank, usually had a powerful thirst when they walked in. They may be on opposite sides of the war, but their behavior was no different.
   The portly innkeeper stared out the window and nervously chewed a fingernail. Margaret clenched her jaw. The swine. What a blessing it would be if the man got shot dead by a Yankee bullet.
   Within minutes, a tall, bearded, blue-clad officer strode over the threshold. His spurs chinked against the plank floorboards and his accoutrements jangled with each step he took. He squinted as his eyes surveyed the room. The gold trim ornamenting his uniform bespoke an upper rank.
   Odd. Men of his caliber didn't usually wander into the Wayfarers Inn.
   Two additional Yanks followed him. They made such an ominous threesome that the few remaining men loitering about in the saloon scattered like roaches after a match strike.
   The first officer made his way to the bar. He removed his wide-brimmed hat and a flicker of familiarity cinched Margaret's gut. Had this man visited the Wayfarers Inn before?
   "Care for a drink?" Her question nearly stuck in her suddenly dry mouth. "The innkeeper says it's on the house." She poured a glass of ale and pushed it toward him.
   "I said no such thing," Veyschmidt growled. His beady, wide-set eyes sized up the large officer and his comrades. He reconsidered, just as Margaret expected him to. "Well, all right. But only one's free."
   "No, thanks. I'm looking for Miss Margaret Bell."
   Her heart stumbled over its next beat.
   "That's her." Mr. Veyschmidt pointed a thick finger. "Right there, she stands."
   No help or hope of protection from him—as usual.
   Margaret set her hands on her hips. "Listen, mister, I don't give refunds, so—"
   "Are you Miss Bell?"
   She nodded and lifted her chin, fully expecting an explosion of pain from his fist connecting with her face. If he was like all the others, she'd swindled him. She prayed he'd knock her senseless. Maybe she'd never regain consciousness.
   "My wife would like two jugs of the innkeeper's ale."
   Margaret's tension eased and she released an audible sigh of relief.
   "She claims the ale aids in the healing of wounds. In fact, I'm living proof it does." The Yankee's mustache twitched with a small smile. "She also insists the stuff is a marvelous metal polisher. Wonder of wonders." He pierced Veyschmidt with a saber-sharp stare.
   "Metal polisher?" Margaret tipped her head. The only person who touted Mr. Veyschmidt's ale as good for anything other than sheer inebriation was ...
   Margaret sucked in a breath. Surely this wasn't her oldest sister's Yankee husband?
   She considered the officer again. Not a chance. This man was large and handsome with a head of thick blond hair and neatly trimmed whiskers. His rank and demeanor suggested he was too refined for a poor, skinny, pie-in-the-sky dreamer like Carrie Ann. More likely a customer heard of the ale's supposed benefits and spread the word. Medicine was scarce, what with wounded men pouring into towns up and down the Valley, so every sort of home remedy was in high demand.
   Margaret fetched two stoneware jugs and set them on the bar. The officer slapped a couple of bills into Veyschmidt's wide, outstretched palm. Next the colonel retrieved an envelope from his coat's inner breast pocket and extended it in Margaret's direction.
   "May I speak with you in private, Miss Bell?"
   Before a single utterance passed her lips, Mr. Veyschmidt stepped in front of her as if she'd suddenly become a precious commodity. "Afraid not, Mister. You want a private appointment, shall we say, then you'll have to pay for it like everyone else."
   The blond officer's expression hardened. "I suggest you shut your mouth and get out of my way."
   Veyschmidt eyed the man, snorted, but relented. "Make it quick," he muttered to Margaret. "And you owe me every coin you get out of him."
   She squeezed her eyes shut. If hating a man was indeed the same as murder like the reverend preached, then she was guilty a thousand times over.
   The colonel moved several steps away from Mr. Veyschmidt. Margaret forced panic down and fingered the small vial of potion in her pocket. It was her only source of protection.
   "Allow me to introduce myself, Miss Bell. I'm Colonel Peyton Collier, Cavalry Division of the Army of the Shenandoah."
   Collier. So this was indeed Carrie's husband. How had her sister snagged such a fine gentleman?
   "I understand you're my brother-in-law."
   "Yes, that's correct."
   "Well, well ..." Veyschmidt stepped out from behind the bar and puffed out his barrel-like chest. "What a coincidence. Your, eh, wife, left quite a large tab here what needs to be paid."
   Colonel Collier's face reddened and his eyes narrowed to angry slits. "Spare me more of your lies. My wife owes you nothing." Anger blazed in his gaze as he defended Carrie Ann. "Destroying your inn would be within my orders, but it's because of my wife's request to leave this place intact for her family's sake that I hesitate." He glanced at Margaret before peering down at Veyschmidt again. "I am well aware of your abuse of the Bell sisters and their mother over the past two years. They came to you in need, but week after week you overcharged them for room and board despite their hard work. In short, you enslaved them. Worse, you left my wife and her family unprotected and vulnerable to every kind of evil." The shake of his head was slight. "You are a despicable worm in my estimation and had it been up to me—"
   "Please, sir ..." Mr. Veyschmidt's voice sounded shaky and his beady eyes grew round.
   Margaret tucked her chin to hide her amusement. She liked her new brother-in-law already.
   "It would give me great pleasure," he added, "to watch this sorry place go up in flames."
   Mr. Veyschmidt wisely held his tongue, although he chewed his thick lower lip and worked his hands anxiously. Margaret knew why.
   "Pardon the interruption, sir," one of the other Yankees said. He stood even taller and had even broader shoulders than the colonel. He too had removed his hat and an abundance of shaggy brown hair framed his face. "This establishment has most likely been a Rebel meeting place and gave sustenance to the enemy. I suspect Rebels are recovering in rooms upstairs as we speak."
   "No, no. Ain't no soldiers here," Mr. Veyschmidt insisted. "I refused all the wounded. Don't want the mess, the blood and all." He waved a meaty hand and shuddered.
   The colonel's eyes met Margaret's and she gave a slight nod. Confederate soldiers had met here only days ago. Several injured lay in rooms upstairs as the major suspected.
   "Gather your men and search the premises, Major Johnston."
   "Yes, sir."
   Within minutes, a small army of Yankees crowded into the Wayfarers Inn. Mr. Veyschmidt grew increasingly anxious as the soldiers dispersed to search. He fell to his knees in a pathetic, theatrical display.
   "Please don't burn my inn," he begged. "This business is all I have left of my dearly departed mother who worked her fingers to the bone to make this a respectable place for one to lay his weary head."
   Margaret rolled her eyes and barely kept from snorting aloud. What lies! And respectable? How utterly laughable.
   "Miss Bell?" The colonel's brown eyes fixed on her. "I am allowed to show mercy where it's warranted. What do you think I should do?"
   "Me? You're asking me?"
   "Don't bother with the girl," Veyschmidt groused. "She's nothing. Customers often complain about her poor service. She's brazen and rude."
   "Quiet, you scoundrel!" The colonel turned back to Margaret. "Miss Bell?"
   "I have no place to go." Despite her best efforts, her bottom lip quivered. It wasn't the answer she longed to give.
   "It's my belief that my wife will want you and your mother to live with us in Winchester. She's been worried about you. But given the fact I'm a Yankee, your mother most likely will not accept my invitation."
   "Mama's dead," Margaret blurted, "and I doubt my sister will want me living with her now that she's married."
   A scene from the past clouded her mind. They were girls and on the farm and she and Carrie were quarreling. As usual, Carrie was demanding that Margaret complete some menial chore and Margaret was refusing to obey. They were only nine months apart in age. Margaret thought she and Carrie should be equals, but Carrie was determined to hang on to her eldest daughter status which included being the boss when their parents weren't anywhere in sight.
   The memory faded and the harsh reality of Margaret's surroundings pressed in on her. Things had changed. She missed Carrie's bravery. What's more, she hadn't begun to fathom just how much Carrie had protected her and Sarah Jane until she herself bore the brunt of drunken patrons' groping and Veyschmidt's beatings.
   Remembering the bruise on her cheek, Margaret finger-combed strands of hair onto one side of her face.
   "Please accept my condolences—on your mother's passing and your younger sister's also."
   The colonel's deep voice recaptured Margaret's attention. He sounded sincere. He reached across the scuffed wooden bar and pressed the sealed envelope into Margaret's hand.
   She inspected it, impressed by the expensive parchment. She couldn't read well, hardly at all, but she recognized her own name penned across the front of the envelope in Carrie Ann's neat handwriting.
   She closed her eyes. To her left, Mr. Veyschmidt's pleas for mercy grated on her nerves.
   "Carrie addressed this letter to you personally because she guessed your mother would refuse to read the missive. She didn't suppose that your mother would ever forgive her for Sarah Jane's death."
   "Carrie was almost right." Margaret traced each letter with her fingertip. "You see, I received the telegram about Carrie Ann's marriage and about Sarah Jane's death, but Mama had passed on by the time the news arrived."
   "You've survived quite an ordeal, Miss Bell. I urge you to come to Winchester. You can safely travel with a group of freed slaves and German Baptists called Dunkers who are following the army down the Valley. Because of the war, they've been forced to leave their homes for one reason or another." The colonel walked around the bar. Standing directly in front of Margaret, he tapped the envelope in her hand. "Besides, you'll be doing me a huge favor." Mischief glimmered in his eyes. "My wife will be quite miffed at me if I allow you to remain here." His gaze darkened as it fell over Mr. Veyschmidt, who pleaded for the soldiers to spare his establishment. "In fact, miffed is putting it mildly."
   This cavalryman was afraid of Carrie's wrath? Surely not.
   The colonel's features softened as he regarded Margaret again. "Carrie volunteers at an orphanage. If I were a betting man, I'd say that she will want you to help out there too. Many hands make light work."
   "Oh, I would. I love children." Margaret's mind whirred with new possibilities.
   "Sounds like you'll do very well in Winchester then."
   One of his officers interrupted them. Margaret stepped back. The colonel appeared quite confident as he spoke with the other man, but not in an arrogant way. He scanned the dark interior of the inn with an unspoken authority. Margaret got the feeling he wasn't a man to argue with ...
   So how did he manage Carrie and her sharp tongue? The idea that this man even married Carrie was most curious.
   Margaret couldn't wait to find out the answers to her many questions.
   The colonel's troops finished their search and he conversed with them in undertones. Minutes later, they filed out of the inn, and he refocused his attention on Margaret. "I'm afraid I must have your decision now, Miss Bell."
   She only needed one glimpse of Mr. Veyschmidt, whose beefy hands were now clasped as if in prayer—the same hands that shamelessly groped and beat Margaret and her sisters, each to varying degrees. And Mama too. He'd killed Mama the same as if he'd strangled the life right out of her.
   Oh, how Margaret despised the man!
   "I accept your invitation, Colonel. Thank you." She tasted sweet freedom in the air. "But please, I beseech you"—now it was her turn to beg—"light your Yankee torches and burn this den of iniquity down to the devil where it belongs!"

Book 2 of the Shenandoah Valley Saga, 1864-1865
Newly-wed, Carrie Ann Collier has had to release her husband back
to the war, and reacquaint herself with her sister, Margaret, who has
come to stay with her. Amid this readjustment, Eli, her husband
Peyton's friend, reappears suddenly. She is not to wait for Peyton's
arrival home. Not wait for him? That is too crushing to absorb.

Andrea Boeshaar
author Andrea Boeshaar

There is a Season (Book 3) coming in 2018

***Thank you to Kregel Publications for sending me a print copy and inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Too Deep for Words: A Civil War Novel by Andrea Boeshaar. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Shenandoah Valley Saga, Book One

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson, © 2017

Amazing historical fiction ~ lost in time for this generation.
A river ran through town and lapped against the foundations of old shops now housing establishments like Subway and Starbucks. And an abandoned stone castle perched on a grassy hill, overlooking the town.
  --Catching the Wind, 105.
I look at the old stately oaks reaching the sky behind our house on the ridge and wonder what it was like here in earlier times.

This story will catch you from the beginning ~ survival, stretching to become part of the life you have unfolding before you. Will you catch up to where you are to be? Certain you will arrive there if you will only believe. This is Brigitte's story. Only we haven't heard it yet or discovered her whereabouts. In the untangling, it becomes others' stories too.

Quenby Vaughn is a successful rooter out detail journalist author unfolding clues needed to take the next step ~ until another story embarks on the one she is already on... Lucas Hough has set out to secure the heart of his employer and most trusted friend, Daniel Knight. Will he be able to secure his own, as well? Stepping out to enfold Quenby into the silent deception all around them, will truth prevail before it gobbles them up inside it?

Daniel Knight has led a life of longing, for the past to become his present. Memories of Brigitte and his pledge to watch out for her and protect her have long since been lost to him. Because he didn't take a step when he could have? Believing he was doing the best thing for her in releasing her to another? Doubts and regrets surface as they have over the past seventy some years. A lostness continuing for him ~ and wonderings... Is she alive? Did she survive? Did he do his best really as he strove to bring her warmth and continuance beyond what he could provide at the time? These questions stalk him and he hopes beyond reason that Quenby can unfold the mystery others have been unable to obtain for him ~ and hopefully for her ~ Brigitte, his heart's desire of all things good.

Step into 1940 Germany and a 2017 isle of hope, to meld them both into a now that is complete.

Wordsmith Melanie Dobson has circled back to the beginning to unravel the crushing merits of war and deluge of men uncertain of who is right in what they are striving for among themselves. Is it for their past and their debilitating attempt to resurface what they have gained and lost? For truly, there is no merit of war that destroys the heart. The heart of the people trying to maintain a semblance of their every day among muddle that surfaces to destroy them and change their generational aim of peace and security for their families and their offsprings' holdings. Peace, joy and song to resonate in their souls, their very beings. Resounding in truth amid the birdsong and lack thereof.

Catching the Wind will have you remembering and sorting long after the last page to grasp the simplicity of an unhampered longing ~ of a smile, so simple and joyful that all of life can be contained in it. Determination to keep searching until it is replaced in its rightful place, complete in joy and received with relief. To be home, joining heart and soul to the spirit within.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
   John 15:5

Excerpt ~ First Chapter, Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson
“Better that one heart be broken 
a thousand times in the retelling . . .

if it means that a thousand other hearts 
need not be broken at all.” 
Preface to Night by Elie Wiesel (1986)

Chapter 1
Moselkern, Germany, July 1940

Maple leaves draped over the tree house window, the silvery fronds linked together like rings of chain mail to protect the boy and girl playing inside.
   Dietmar Roth charged his wooden horse across the planks, knocking down two of the Roman horses with his toy knight as he rushed toward the tower of river stones. In his thirteen years, he’d become an expert on both knights and their armor. Metal rings were useless for protection on their own, but hundreds of these rings, woven tightly together, could withstand an opponent’s arrows. Or sword.
   Standing beside the tower, a miniature princess clutched in her hand, Brigitte yowled like a wildcat. As if she might really be carried away by warriors.
   At the age of ten, Brigitte was an expert on royalty. And drama. Instead of an army, Brigitte played with one toy—the princess Dietmar carved out of linden wood and painted for her last birthday. He liked renaming his knights, but Brigitte never changed the name of her toy.
   Princess Adler.
   Brigitte thought her princess could fly.
   Dietmar drew a tin sword from his knight’s scabbard and began to fight the black-cloaked opposition that advanced in his mind. Stretched across the tree house floor was an entire army of battle-scarred knights, all of them with a different symbol painted on their crossbows. All of them fighting as one for the Order of the Ritterlichkeit. Chivalry.
   He’d carved each of his knights’ bows from cedar and strung them with hair from Fonzell, their family’s horse—at least, Fonzell had been the Roth family horse until Herr Darre stole him away. Herr Darre was a German officer. And the Roths’ neighbor. He was punishing Herr Roth for not bringing Dietmar to Deutsches Jungvolk—the weekly meetings for Germany’s boys. Brigitte and her father were the only neighbors his family trusted anymore.
   Dietmar was too old to be playing knights and princesses, but Brigitte never wanted to play anything else. And Dietmar didn’t want to play with anyone else. He and Brigitte had been the best of friends since her family moved into the house across the woods six years ago, playing for hours along the stream until his father built the tree house for them. Their mothers had been best friends too until Frau Berthold died from influenza.
   Once, Herr Berthold asked Dietmar to care for Brigitte if anything ever happened to him. Dietmar had solemnly promised the man that he’d never let anything or anyone harm his daughter. Not even an army of toy knights.
   He lifted one of his knights off the horse. “Brigitte . . .”
   She shook her finger at him. “Princess Adler.”
   Cupping his other hand around his mouth, he pretended to shout, “Princess Adler, we’ve come to rescue you.”
   Brigitte flipped one of her amber-colored braids over her sleeve, calling back to him, “I will never leave my tower.”
   “But we must go,” he commanded, “before the Romans arrive.”
   She feigned a sigh. “There’s no one I trust.”
   Dietmar reached for Ulrich, the knight who’d sworn to protect the princess at any cost, and he solemnly bowed the soldier toward her. “You can trust me, Your Majesty.”
   “‘Your Majesty’ is how you address a queen,” Brigitte whispered to him as if his words might offend the princess.
   Dietmar knew how to address a queen, of course. He just liked to tease her.
   With his thumb, he pounded the knight’s chest. “I will protect you with my life.”
   Brigitte studied the knight for a moment and then smiled. “Very well. Perhaps I shall come out.”
   Outside their playhouse window, six rusty spoons hung in a circle, strung together with wire on a tree limb. The warm breeze rustled the branches, chiming the spoons, and Brigitte leaned her head outside to listen to their melody. The whole forest was an orchestra to her. The strings of sound a symphony. Brigitte heard music in the cadence of the river, the crackling of twigs, the rhythm of the wind.
   Dietmar checked his watch. Only twenty minutes left to play before he started solving the geometry problems Frau Lyncker assigned him tonight. The world might be at war, but his mother still expected him to do schoolwork between four and five each afternoon. Even though everything outside their forest seemed to be foundering, his mother still hoped for their future. And she dreamed of a future filled with Frieden—peace—for her only child.
   Brigitte leaned back in the window, her freckles glowing like a canvas of stars. “I shall make a wish on this tree, like Aschenputtel.”
   “Should I capture the evil stepsisters?” he asked.
   At times it seemed the threads of imagination stitched around her mind like rings of armor, the world of pretend cushioning her sorrow and protecting her from a real enemy that threatened all the German children. She was on the cusp of becoming a woman, yet she clung to the fairy tales of childhood.
   “I want you to capture the wind.”
   He laughed. “Another day, Brigitte.”
   Her fists balled up against her waist. “Princess Adler.”
   “Of course.”
   Her gaze traveled toward the ladder nailed to the opening in the tree house floor. “I’m hungry.”
   “You’re always hungry,” he teased.
   “I wish we could find some Kuchen.”
   He nodded. Fruits and vegetables were hard enough to obtain in the village; sweets were impossible to find, reserved for the stomachs of Hitler’s devoted. But his mother’s garden was teeming with vegetables. He and his father had devised a wire cage of sorts over the plot to keep rabbits away, though there seemed to be fewer rabbits in the woods this summer. More people, he guessed, were eating them for supper.
   He’d never tell Brigitte, but some nights he felt almost hungry enough to eat a rabbit too.
   “I’ll find us something better than cake.”
   He left Princess Adler and her wind chimes to climb down the ladder, rubbing his hand like he always did over the initials he’d carved into the base of the trunk. D. R. was on one side of the tree, B. B. on the other.
   He trekked the grassy riverbank along the Elzbach, toward his family’s cottage in the woods. Beside his mother’s garden, he opened a door made of chicken wire and skimmed his hand across parsnips, onions, and celery until his fingers brushed over a willowy carrot top.
   Three carrots later, he closed the wire door and started to march toward the back door of the cottage, the carrots dangling beside him. He’d bathe their dirt-caked skin in the sink before returning to battle. Then he’d—
   A woman’s scream echoed across the garden, and Dietmar froze. At first, in his confusion, he thought Brigitte was playing her princess game again, but the scream didn’t come from the forest. The sound came from inside the house, through the open window of the sitting room.
   The woman screamed again, and he dropped the carrots. Raced toward the door.
   Through the window, he saw the sterile black-and-silver Gestapo uniforms, bloodred bands around the sleeves. Herr Darre and another officer towered over his parents. Mama was on the sofa, and Papa . . .
   His father was unconscious on the floor.
   “Where is the boy?” Herr Darre demanded.
   “I don’t know,” Mama whispered.
   Herr Darre raised his hand and slapped her.
   Rage shot like an arrow through Dietmar’s chest, his heart pounding as he reached for the door handle, but in that moment, in a splinter of clarity, his mother’s eyes found him. And he’d never forget what he saw.
   Fear. Pain. And then the briefest glimpse of hope.
   “Lauf,” she mouthed.
   He didn’t know if the officers heard her speak. Or if they saw him peering through the window. He simply obeyed his mother’s command.
   Trembling like a ship trapped in a gale, Dietmar turned around. Then the wind swept him away, carrying him back toward the tree house, away from his parents’ pain.
   Coward, the demons in his mind shouted at him, taunting as he fled.
   But his mother had told him to run. He just wouldn’t run far.
   First, he’d take Brigitte to the safety of her home. Then he would return like a knight and rescue his father and mother from the enemy.
Melanie Dobson, Catching the Wind Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., © 2017. Used by permission.

It's a time-slip story about a German girl who was lost during World War II and about the man who is continuing to search for her, seventy years later. --author Melanie Dobson
What happened to Brigitte Berthold?
That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.
   Now a wealthy old man, Daniel’s final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby’s tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons―and wary of the idea of teaming up with Daniel’s lawyer, Lucas Hough―the lure of Brigitte’s story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.

***Thank you, author Melanie Dobson and to Tyndale House Publishers for sending an Advance Reader Copy of Catching the Wind. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***