The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she’s created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral–or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He’s definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.
Just when it seems Bri’s bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she’s kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri’s recipe just needs to be tweaked.
Novelist Betsy St. Amant invites you to experience this sweet story of how love doesn’t always look the way we expect–and maybe that’s a good thing.
The Key to Love, by Betsy St. Amant, is a contemporary romance novel about a bakery, The Pastry Puff, and its owners and an employee in Story, Kansas. This is the first book I have read by Betsy St. Amant.
The story is populated by several characters, from the previous owner’s daughter, Abrielle “Bri” Duvall to the nefarious Charles Richmond, Bri’s ex-boyfriend, who is a lawyer intent on getting The Pastry Puff by any means available (and maybe some that aren’t!). The true stars of the book appear to be the bakery, the Parisian styled love lock fence and the “love angels,” Mabel and Agnes, who are the bakery’s new owners.
I had a hard time becoming invested in the main characters, Bri Duval and Gerard Fortier. Their ongoing disagreements felt somewhat immature and off-putting.
The book also contains some mild vulgar words (though not profanity) and innuendo, with very little of a very spiritually uplifting content.
The Key to Love was, overall, a cute book you could lose yourself in for a few hours, with several laugh out loud moments created by the love angels, Mable and Agnes.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Revell through Interviews & Reviews. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
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Growing up in the foster care system, Jase Edgar always dreamed of one day starting his own family. But his fiancée’s untimely death shattered his plans. Moving to Kansas and serving as a youth minister should be a fresh start, but he can’t seem to set aside his doubts about God’s goodness long enough to embrace his new life.
Newly-appointed church custodian, Lori Fowler is battling her own challenges. Her strained relationship with her father and her struggles with overeating convince her she’s not worthy enough for love. When an Amish weaver enlists their help locating the owner of a ring found among the donated clothing she uses as fabric, Jase and Lori find themselves drawn to each other. But will they be able to release the past and move forward from this moment into a joyful future?
From This Moment, by Kim Vogel Sawyer, is one of my favorite books written by her. I love how Vogel can write so many different types of stories.
There are three main characters in this contemporary novel. Jase Edgar is the new Youth Minister at a small-town Kansas church, Beech Street Bible Fellowship. Lori Fowler is a spunky young woman drawn quite strongly to Jase, who volunteers to help with the youth and works as the church custodian. In addition, there is Kenzie Stetler, a young woman who left the Amish faith for life in Wichita, Kansas.
It was interesting to read a story about an Amish woman who has left the faith. Usually, you read about someone becoming Amish, or they remain in the faith.
Vogel has a fantastic way of drawing you into a story, making you want to meet the characters, and never leave!
Vogel gives each person real-to-life problems to overcome or deal with, making the story so much more relatable. Jase is struggling with his faith, wondering if God is really there. Lori struggles with emotional eating, speaking without thinking and problems with her father. Kenzie realizes how some of her choices might affect her family and grapples with how to reconcile her feelings.
Rich in optimism, hopefulness and faith, From This Moment, will resonate in your heart, leaving you thinking about it for a long time.
I received From This Moment from Waterbrook through NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
A mother’s heart-wrenching story of her 18- year-old son’s struggle between life and death following his electrocution on a power pole during a random outing. This is an intimate look into those first few agonizing days, and the months of bitter uncertainty that followed, not knowing if her son would live or die, after suffering third and fourth-degree burns on more than 70% of his body. The skilled physicians at the Maricopa County Burn Unit in Phoenix, Arizona all said he should have died. Statistics were against his struggle for life. Yet, this story captured in a mother’s journal yields proof that God answers prayer, and that God is what He says He is: The great Physician, the Healer, the Miracle worker.
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Death Must Bow the Knee, by Virginia Vasser, is a book of intense sadness, pain, mercy and grace, but mostly a book of MIRACLES. Not just one, but multiple mind-boggling, and sometimes unbelievable, MIRACLES!!! God’s hand is all over this true story.
On a hot midsummer, June day in 1980, Sam Vasser left home upset. Before the day was over, his life would be irrevocably changed forever.
Vasser kept a journal of all that happened from that fateful evening when 18-year-old Sam was electrocuted on a power pole, suffering 3rd and 4th-degree burns over 70% of his body, until his release from the hospital months later. Vasser chronicled the doctors and nurses telling her Sam would not, could not, live, and her and her family’s assertion that only God had the power over life and death. She told how the nurses and doctors tried to get her to “face reality” and how the medical staff became frustrated, and perhaps even a little angry when she would not listen to them.
An inspirational story of how God can and will answer prayers, Death Must Bow the Knee is a short story, only 128 pages long. However, you will feel as if you are right there every step of the way through the months of treatment and recovery. Tears will roll down your face as you read and absorb the message: God IS The Great Healer and The Great Physician.
I received Death Must Bow the Knee from the author. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Philippians 2:10-11 King James Version (KJV)
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
About The Author
Virginia resides in Surprise, Arizona with her husband, Rosco, with whom she recently celebrated 59 years of marriage. She is the mother of five adult children, including Sam. Her growing family includes six grandsons, six great-grandsons and a great-granddaughter. When not writing, Virginia enjoys yard work, crossword puzzles, and spending time with her family.
I am humbled, grateful and thankful to everyone for all their prayers and good wishes.
I am still very weak and have a lot of pain, too. As you all probably know from previous hospitalizations, I have had a good portion of my colon and small intestines removed. This time even more has been removed, so I’m having to adjust to a new way of living that involves an ostomy.
This normally isn’t a problem. However, for some reason, almost anything that could happen post-op, has! It has been very discouraging and depressing for me and also very time consuming, involving multiple Dr visits, and at a minimum daily (sometimes many more) visits from home health. We’re still struggling through this and it is very wearing emotionally and physically. Bill, throughout this whole ordeal, has been a rock. I know he’s very weary, too. But, he continues to gently push me where I need to be and encourages me constantly.
We’re praying this will be the final of many surgeries since 2014.
Thank you again so very much for your prayers encouragement for me and my family. (It may take me a while to respond to each comment, but I will).
This is Bill, still not sure I have this figured out.
This is Bill. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Robbie had to go to the ER and was subsequently admitted. We are not sure how long she will be in the hospital. Her health problems will prevent her from keeping up with blogging and book reviewing responsibilities for a while. Sometime after the first of the year, she will determine what she is able to take on. We need your prayers. Thanks so much for your friendship and love.
Update December 14th: After two weeks in the hospital, Robbie will have her surgery tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Her surgeon described the surgery to me as “complicated and lengthy.” Please pray that the surgery will be safe and effectively accomplish the surgeon’s objectives. Robbie has had ill health for so much of her life; she really deserves some relief. Thanks so much for all of your friendship and prayers.
Update December 23rd: This is Bill. Robbie is now home from the hospital at last. She had a very extensive, life-altering emergency surgery that now requires substantial and considerable rehab and recovery to recover from the pain and nausea left by a complicated surgery that has weakened her and changed her life considerably. She won’t be on line much as she has 2-4 months of intensive work ahead of her. Prayer from her family and many friends has sustained her through this ordeal. God bless all of you.
Robbie asks that I please send her love and thank you’s to everyone. And belated Merry Christmas to everyone, too.
After spending her childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she’d put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. Using her old skills to prove her friend’s innocence, Gabriella unexpectedly encounters Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend–until he abandoned her.
After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agrees to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he’d be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.
As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.
I love Jen Turano books. There’s always fun, laughter and elements of faith-a great combination!
To Steal a Heart focuses on Gabriella Goodhue and Nicholas Quinn, along with the ladies of The Bleeker Street boarding house, aka The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency.
Gabriella and Nicholas knew each other when they were orphaned children but lost touch over the years. Through a series of unique circumstances, they cross each other’s paths again, except this time danger lurks around every corner.
I loved the ladies of Bleeker Street. They are all such a hoot. The funniest in this story is definitely Daphne! Her “disguises” and antics are sidesplitting! All the ladies’ capers result in bumbling, inept escapades that somehow save the day, even when Pinkerton agents are not able to solve it!!
I always look forward to Jen Turano’s new books and cannot wait for her them. I am so excited To Steal a Heart is book one of a new series. Her stories usually focus on the Gilded Age and feature a strong female protagonist, which creates a great storyline.
Turano’s books are such a joy to read. She, without fail, has a great story from start to finish.
I received To Steal A Heart from Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
About the Author
Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado.
More from Jen
“To Steal a Heart” is the first book in a new series. How did you come up with the idea for this series?
Oddly enough, this series was inspired by a lot of different things. I keep this idea box, and whenever I stumble on something interesting, I throw the idea into the box. When I was getting ready to assemble a proposal for a new series, I took out the box and began rifling through it. Unfortunately, nothing struck my fancy. What did strike my fancy though, was the movie “My Fair Lady.” I’d recently watched it for the millionth time, and I thought…hmmm…what could I do with that? Well, I didn’t want to do a recreation of “My Fair Lady” and that’s when it hit me – what if I used a gentleman instead of a lady and improved his circumstances in life with the help of a professor? That wasn’t really enough, though, for me to formulate an entire series, but then I went to New York City for a research trip. While there, I roamed around Bleecker Street for hours. It was the perfect place to set a series, and then I saw this older building that my tour guide thought might have once been a boardinghouse. That was what really started me thinking, and before I knew it, I’d created an inquiry agency run by women that came about when a resident of a boardinghouse was unjustly accused of theft. When the police would not investigate further, believing they had the true culprit behind bars, the ladies who lived in the boardinghouse felt compelled to step up and clear their fellow boardinghouse resident of the charges brought against her. The series took off from there, the first book centering around one of the lady inquiry agents, Miss Gabriella Goodhue, who used to live on the mean streets of the Lower East Side and, at one point in her life, was best friends with Nicholas Quinn, the man who has now found his circumstances vastly improved from the time he knew Gabriella. Throwing the two of them back together made for an interesting storyline, especially since Gabriella believes Nicholas abandoned her all those years ago, which makes it next to impossible for her to trust him.
Are there other interesting characters in this series?
Of course. All of the lady inquiry agents come with their own secrets. Miss Daphne Beekman is a reclusive author who lives in the attic of the boardinghouse. She has the propensity to faint at the drop of a hat, which makes for a few amusing scenes in the first book. She’ll get her own story in “To Write a Wrong,” coming out later in 2021. Then there’s Eunice Holbrooke. She’s the owner of the boardinghouse, and she only wears full mourning garb, covering her face with numerous veils and refusing to speak to anyone about her past. Clearly, there’s a mystery just waiting to be solved there, one that will be solved in book three, which I’m just now beginning to work on. The other residents of the boardinghouse provide a lot of color to the story, from the two sisters who work as paid companions by day to gossip collectors and carriage drivers by night, to the resident artist, Miss Judith, who has recently decided to dip her toe into the portrait market even though she’s really not proficient with painting people. There’s also a one-eyed, patch-wearing dog by the name of Winston, a parrot that likes to nick sparkly items named Pretty Girl, and a neurotic poodle that falls for Winston that goes by the name of Precious.
Did the pandemic affect the writing process at all for “To Steal a Heart?”
Luckily, I had already turned in the book before the pandemic hit. With that said, though, I then had to do some of the edits during the first few months of the pandemic. That was interesting. I have very specific conditions I need in order to write and edit and having Al (the husband person) working from home isn’t one of those conditions. It took me far longer than it normally does to complete the editing process, which threw off my schedule for the next book in the series, “To Write a Wrong.” Drastic measures were needed. That’s why I’m now the proud owner of a she-shed. Al thought I was joking when I first broached the subject of a she-shed, but after I had my millionth meltdown, he decided that might be a really good idea. Turns out sheds are in high demand at the moment, so getting a shed in a timely fashion wasn’t possible. It took 6 weeks for us to get a shed delivered and then we had to frame the inside and put up a ceiling and walls. I was not actually very involved with that process because I’m a danger to everyone surrounding me when nail guns are being used. 🙂 I did paint the outside of the shed, then painted the inside. Of course the air conditioning unit I had to order was delayed, so I painted in 100 degree heat. Lost about five pounds doing that, so…unexpected bonus there. I just recently finished decorating the inside, and I’m typing this interview from my new space. I’m thinking I’m going to call it “Jen’s Novel Nook” but that might change, so don’t quote me on that.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that I hope everyone is surviving these crazy days. I know there are many people out there who are suffering from many different problems this pandemic has caused. Know that you’re not alone, and that brighter days will show up again. Until that time, try to remember to smile and, perhaps, read a few books.
To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away the grand prize package of copy of To Steal a Heart, plus all three books in the American Heiresses series and a 30 second mystery kit (Link: https://amzn.to/3nqrIpC)!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.