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Love Comes Softly

Love Comes Softly (Love Comes Softly, #1)Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As many times as I’ve seen the movie, I couldn’t believe I had never read the book! I saw it as a free download one day and grabbed a copy. As always, the book was way better than the movie. Although, I enjoyed being able to picture the actors in those roles as I read the book.

The book goes deeper into the goals and motivations than a movie can. I liked that. The dialect was written in so that I could “hear” the speech of the characters. Missie is *much* younger in the book, and there are more characters than the movie shows, so the story is deeper. No spoiler, but I liked the ending of the book a lot better than the movie.

Well worth reading … even if you’re seen the movie a dozen times. 🙂

 

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You’re the Cream in My Coffee

You're the Cream in My CoffeeYou’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fun story! It’s not a traditional boy-meets-girl romance. I haven’t read many stories set in the flapper era, but I really enjoyed this. The writing is fresh and the characters are likable. I’m looking forward to Jennifer Leo’s next book!

Marjorie Corrigan is about to marry a doctor and become an important figure in their small town until she starts fainting at the oddest times. The trip to Chicago to discover the root of her problem opens a whole new chapter in her life. One that may not include a certain small-town doctor. Her new roommate poses nude and sings in a speakeasy. How’s a wholesome girl from small-town America to survive in the fast-paced and occasionally dangerous world of prohibition Chicago?

Read it to find out!

 

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Too Deep for Words

Too Deep for Words (Shenandoah Valley Saga #2)Too Deep for Words by Andrea Boeshaar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Too Deep for Words is a continuation of A Thousand Shall Fall. The story picks up just days after the end of the first book, so I highly recommend reading these in order.

Carrie Ann Collier has matured in this second book. We see a change in her that reflects the effects of all she’s been through. But the war isn’t over and neither is the devastation. When her husband is deemed missing and presumed dead, she’s not willing to believe it. When she has the chance to go to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, she jumps at it knowing that if her husband survived by some miracle, he’d likely be there at Libby Prison. She doesn’t expect to meet her husband’s best friend, Confederate officer Eli Kent there. And she really doesn’t expect what happens next.

I like a book that keeps me guessing, and this one did. If you enjoy Civil War era stories and if you enjoy a romance that’s not cut-and-dried boy-meets-girl, read this book.

 

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A Moonbow Night

A Moonbow NightA Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say? Laura Frantz hits another one out of the park. Why do I love Laura’s books? Her characters are fresh, interesting, non-stereotypical, likable, and completely believable. They aren’t perfect, they aren’t two-dimensional, they are deep, rounded, and fascinating. Her settings are vivid. You journey with her characters, walking with them, seeing and touching and smelling what’s all around them. You don’t read one of Laura’s books, you experience it. I can’t quite put “A Moonbow Night” above my ultimate favorite of hers, “Courting Morrow Little.” But it’s close. Very close. Read it.

 

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The Pony Express – and Jesse James

To celebrate the release of The Pony Express Romance Collection, we’re highlighting the date the first Pony Express run began –April 3rd – and looking at other dates in history to see what happened.

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Now Jesse James doesn’t play a role in my story, Her Lonely Heart, but there are outlaws and shooting, not to mention the role of young men determined to be pony express riders.

Jesse James was only fifteen when he joined a guerrilla band led by William Quantrill. Many pony express riders were younger by a year or two.

jj2The Quantrill gang terrorized Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War. After the war, Jesse, his brother Frank, and brothers Cole, James, and Robert Younger moved to armed robbery. During the next 16 years, the gang became America’s most notorious outlaws. In 1976 the Younger brothers were captured. The James brothers escaped and didn’t rob another train until 1880, the same year a reward was posted wanting the James brothers dead or alive. Gang member Robert Ford decided the bounty was worth more than loyalty and shot Jesse James in the back.

jj3On the morning of April 3, 1882, while planning one last robbery with Bob and Charles Ford that would net him enough money to settle down permanently, Jesse reportedly stood in a chair to straighten a crooked picture on the wall.

Bob Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head just below his right ear. His children and wife, Zerelda, ran into the room, but it was too late. Jesse James was dead at 34 years of age.

There has been speculation since he died that his death was staged and that he lived the rest of his days in peace under an assumed name. In 1947, a 102 year old man named J. Frank Dalton claimed to be Jesse James. His claim was never verified and DNA testing on the supposed grave of Jesse James has been inconclusive.

In Her Lonely Heart, there is a change of lifestyle, not by a killer, but by a bitter man set in his ways. I hope you enjoy this trip back into history, not only from this post, but from reading Pony Express Brides.

Her Lonely Heart
By Cynthia Hickey

Cottonwood Station, Kansas, 1860
Chapter One

Sadie Mathewson shaded her eyes against the harsh prairie sun. The Pony Express rider was over an hour late and his replacement had long since finished his biscuits and gravy.

“I gotta go, Mrs. Mathewson” The lanky replacement rider slapped his hat on his head. “Whatever the fella is carryin’ will have to go with the next rider through here .”

“Yes, I’ll fetch your horse.”

“I’m going with him.” Josiah, her twelve-year-old son, stomped from the house.

“No, son. We’ve gone over this before. The advertisement said orphans preferred.”

“Preferred, not mandatory.” His face wore a sullen look. “This trading post is boring. I want adventure.”

“I thought you enjoyed the horses and watching the wagon trains head west.”

“Not anymore. I want to be a Pony  Express rider.”

Just last week, he wanted to be a farmer. “We’ve gone over this subject until I’m numb. We’ll speak no more about it.” Sadie twitched her skirts and headed into the cool dimness of the building where her ten-year-old daughter Ruth wiped down the one counter.

“Is Josiah really going to join the Pony Express?” Ruth tossed the rag into a bucket. “I want to go. I don’t see why girls can’t ride horses.”

“Girls can ride horses, just not as Express riders.” Maybe the paper wasn’t such a good idea for her children to read. It put ridiculous notions in their heads.

“Ma? Come quick.” Josiah peered into the building just long enough to call out for her.

What now? Sometimes the duty of running the post and exchange station was more than Sadie could bear. She missed her husband. With a heavy sigh, she joined her son outside.

A rider, leading another horse, headed toward the station. As he got closer, Sadie was able to see that he was an Indian. On the second horse slouched a smaller form. “Josiah, fetch my rifle. Quick now.”

He dashed away, returning as the Indian stopped in front of Sadie. She cradled the rifle in her arms. “State your business.”

“I found rider.” He slung his leg over the saddle horn and slid to the ground. “Boy fell from horse and hit head. He yours?”

While she’d not had trouble with the neighboring Kickapoo tribe, Sadie kept her distance and moved to the other side of the boy’s horse. The leather mochila draped over the horse’s flanks clued her in to the poor boy’s identity. “He’s a Pony Express rider.”

“I take into hut.” The Indian pulled the boy into his arms and marched into the building.

Sadie hurried, but not before Ruth let out a blood-curdling scream at the sight of their visitor. “Hush, child, and fix a pallet in the corner.” She propped her rifle against the counter. “I thank you, Mister…”

“Name Fox.” He laid the boy on a worn quilt.

“Well, Mr. Fox. I’d like to repay you for your kindness.”

He straightened and fixed stern dark eyes on her before his gaze moved to the shelves. “I take that red cloth.”

“Very well.” She’d hoped to sew herself and Ruth new dresses, but hopefully someone would come along with more material to trade. A boy’s life was more important than vanity, anyway. She pulled the bolt of fabric from the shelf and handed it to Mr. Fox.

“You no man?”

She stiffened. “He’s gone.”

“Away or dead?”

“Dead.”

“You the nice widow people talk about.” He gave a nod and ducked back outside. Seconds later, the sound of hoofbeats signaled he’d left.

Sadie sagged against the counter to catch her breath then knelt next to the unconscious boy. Blood matted dark hair over a lump the size of a chicken egg. “Josiah!”

“Yeah[ ?”

“Excuse me?” She narrowed her eyes.

“I mean…yes ma’am?”

“Much better[. I need clean water and rags. Ruth, fetch me the canteen.”

While her children scurried to do her bidding, she ran her hands over the boy’s arms and legs looking for fractures. Nothing appeared broken. God willing, he’d open his eyes soon and tell her his name.

“Here’s the water. I’ll care for the horse.” Josiah stared down at the boy. “I could take his place, Ma.”

“No.” She dipped the rag into the water and worked at washing the boy’s face and wound. “I said to say no more about riding. You’re the man of the house with your pa gone. What would I do without you?” Loneliness already assailed her from morning to night. With one of her children gone, she feared her knees would buckle from the weight of it and she’d never get up again.

cynthiahickeyWebsite at www.cynthiahickey.com

Multi-published and Amazon and ECPA Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She had several historical romances release through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold close to a million copies of her works since 2013. She has taught a Continuing Education class at the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers conference, several small ACFW chapters and RWA chapters. You can find her on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. She and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s best well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs, two cats, three box turtles, and two Sulcata tortoises. She has eight grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”.

 

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A Heart Set Free

A Heart Set FreeA Heart Set Free by Janet S. Grunst
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely tale set in Colonial America. Heather Douglas sells herself into indentured servitude to pay for her crossing from Scotland to the British Colonies in America. She’s running from her past and will do anything to start over somewhere else. Matthew Stewart is a widower with two small children. While he needs help, he can’t buy Heather’s indenture and then take her out to the wilderness to his farm. So he marries her. With no options and little choice, Heather has to find a way to either accept her life on the farm in a marriage she didn’t want, for find a way to earn back her freedom.

Well worth reading! Charming characters and plenty of story to keep you turning the pages.

 

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The Pony Express – and WWII

 

April 3, 1942, was a day that actually impacted my family—at least indirectly. This was the day the Japanese began their all-out assault on U.S. and Filipino troops at Bataan, not far from where my father was stationed in the Philippines on the island of Corregidor.

Most people recall the Japanese bombing at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On that day, my father was just coming back to his patrol boat from shore leave in Manilla when he noticed everything in the bay was dark—lights out, everywhere. His shipmates greeted him with news of the Pearl Harbor bombing. The U.S. was officially at war.

The Japanese found their new target the very next day—the Bataan Peninsula at Manilla Bay. Bombs and bullets rained from the sky. I recall my father telling me it sounded like popcorn popping, all of those bullets pinging against the ship. Can you imagine what it felt like, knowing the invading forces wanted only one thing—to kill you?

It wasn’t until April 3,1942 that the Japanese ratcheted up their continued attack. From nine in the morning until three in the afternoon, a 100-aircraft bombardment “turned the Mt. Samat stronghold into an inferno” according to the Chinese Daily Mail.

Ultimately the Japanese took approximately 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American prisoners of war, leading them on the Bataan Death March where so many men died along the way.

My father’s naval unit had been moved to the nearby island of Corregidor, but received daily bombardments. With the troops weakened by ration shortages and disease, they knew it was only a matter of time before surrender. That day came about a month later. They were sent on the same path as those before them, taken from one overcrowded camp to another, treated harshly, put on a starvation diet and pressed into forced labor, finally to survive a death sentence at the end of the war only through liberation by Allied forces.

The men who withstood the brutality of war were certainly heroes. They’re the kind of men romance writers dream up: strong, brave, loyal, and willing to fight for what they believe. My heart swells with pride knowing my father was one of them, even as it twists with compassion for all that he and those with him endured.

I hope you enjoy my contribution to the Pony Express collection, My Dear Adora. Along with Adora, you’ll meet Chip Nolan who rescues the saddle pack his little brother lost after a robbery. Intent on hand-delivering every missive, the last one is to Adora from her loving parents. After carrying the letter close to his heart for months, Chip is already half in love with Adora when he finds her—just in time to rescue her from a fortune seeker.

Maureen Lang writes stories that celebrate a mix of God’s love, history, and romance. She is the author of sixteen novels and five novellas, and has been a finalist for Christy, Carol and Rita awards. She lives in the Midwest, is a married mother of three, and caregiver for her adult son with Fragile X Syndrome. Visit her at www.maureenlang.com

 

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