Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin by Pamela S. Meyers

Publisher’s Summary

Will she lose her heart to the intruder who stole her dream? Already a summer retreat for Chicago’s elite, the small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin wants to promote their greatest asset–the crystal clear waters of Geneva Lake. A new recreational building is almost complete with plans for a grand opening set to take place in a couple months. It is the height of the big-band era and the new ballroom is exactly the final touch the town needs to draw people to their special place. Local girl Meg Alden works for the local paper and aspires to be a reporter–a job only given to men. When the reporter position opens up, she applies, only to be told that Jack Wallace, son of a Chicago newspaper magnate has already been hired. Jack is drawn to Meg and suggests they work together to uncover a local scandal. But how can she work with the man who stole her job and makes her pulse race? Formerly published as Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the content has not changed except for an epilogue at the end.

My Review


Meg Walden works as an ad taker for the Lake Geneva News-Tribune, the weekly paper for Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. However, her aspirations were far greater than handling want ads for the News-Tribune. She wants to be a reporter for a large city’s daily paper. So, when a job as reporter opens at the News-Tribune, she quickly applies, knowing she is qualified and sure it will be a great stepping stone to her dreams.

Jack Wallace is the son of Chicago newspaper magnate John Wallace of the Chicago Beacon. Oscar Zimmer, owner of the News-Tribune and John’s friend, hires Jack as the new reporter, thereby dashing Meg’s dream of getting the job as reporter.

I enjoyed Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Pamela Meyers love for her hometown shines through the entire book. The history of The Riviera and the descriptions of the lakeside homes, along with other tidbits of historical significance, lead you into a fascinating story, not only of romance but also a little bit of intrigue, too.

There were so many details within the story that I enjoyed-sibling rivalry, a young person learning to stretch their wings, along with Biblical insights and guidance. I also learned a new word. I love to learn new words and especially love finding them in stories I enjoy. (In case you were wondering the word was clerestory, which led me to another new word fenestrated.)

Pamela Meyers heartfelt story of life in the early 1930’s in Lake Geneva puts you front and center in the history of that era. Historical fiction lovers will appreciate and delight in the tale of Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

I received an e-book from the author through The Book Club Network. However, I was not required to write a review.

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A Christmas Jar for Santa: A Christmas Jars Short Story by Jason F Wright

A Christmas Jar for Santa: A Christmas Jars Short Story by [Wright, Jason F.]


Publisher’s Summary

The Christmas Jars tradition:

“…one by one, family members will empty their pockets and delight at the cling-clang of change hitting the empty glass bottom. Most days will yield a quarter, a dime, perhaps two nickels and a stray penny. Occasionally Mother will make change for herself by drop- ping in a worn dollar bill and pulling out an appropriate combination of cool silver coins. Over the months that follow, the gathering change will leave no recognizable void. Occasionally the temptation to borrow for laundry, a movie, or the ice-cream truck will float through the house, over the jar, and out the back door. But it never lands. The money is spoken for.” (Excerpt from Christmas Jars, copyright 2005, published by Shadow Mountain.)

Christmas Jars, a New York Times Bestselling novella by Jason Wright, first became a phenomenon during the 2005 holiday season. Readers across America reacted to the message of daily giving and sacrifice by creating their own Christmas Jars.

Today, thousands of glass jars rest on kitchen countertops, slowly collecting the spare change generated each and every day. On Christmas Eve, each jar, now overflowing with both money and goodwill, will anonymously find a new home. In turn, the grateful recipients will put the money to good use in their lives and begin their own jar. Thus hearts and lives are changed and the cycle continues.

This short story follows in the tradition and spirit of Christmas Jars. If you’ve read the original, you’ll love this sweet addition to the Christmas Jars family.

My Review

“Santa” and his wife Pauline were unable to have children. However, Pauline loved children so much that “Santa” ended up loving them mightily, too. So, when a church Santa became ill one year, “Santa” stepped in to take his place, and just kept doing it every year thereafter.

A Christmas Jar for Santa, by Jason F. Wright, is a short, short story-only nine or ten pages long. I had planned on reviewing a book length Christmas story, but this one . . . this one couldn’t and wouldn’t allow me to ignore it. It left a lasting impression on me as I’m sure it will on you, too when you read it.

There are at least four more Christmas Jar stories, and I can’t wait to read them all.

Merry, Merry Christmas in July!

                                   Christmas in July sponsored by                                    

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A Biltmore Christmas (Romancing America) by Diane T. Ashley, Sylvia Barnes, Rhonda Gibson and Jeri Odell


Publisher’s Summary

Explore the luxuries of America’s largest home through the eyes of the fiction Bradford sisters. Having been orphaned, they each secure work and lodging at the Biltmore estate. Charity, a laundress; Peggy, an assistant cook, Selma, a chambermaid; and Melissa, a stable “boy” each experience adventures in employment and romance that culminate at Christmastime when the Vanderbilts’ hospitality is at its grandest level.

My Review

A Carolina Christmas by Jeri Odell focuses on Charity Bradford, one of four orphaned sisters. Elsie Capps, proprietress of an orphanage in Biltmore Village, raises the four sisters after their missionary parents died in a train crash while on a mission’s trip.

Charity is hired to work at the Biltmore house as a laundress. When she first arrived, she had to wait for her immediate supervisor. Undaunted, she requests permission to visit the stables until her supervisor is available.

Joseph Malachi “Clay” Claybrook, a distant relative of the Vanderbilts, is visiting with his family while his home is being built. His love is horses, and he spends almost all his time in the stables caring for his and his sister’s horses. When Charity arrives at the stables, she mistakenly believes him to be a hired helper.

I thought the story was sweet. There were moments of confusion, uncertainty and insecurity that added just the right amount of tension to the romance.

Sylvia Barnes’ story, A Proper Christmas, centers on Selma, a chambermaid at the Biltmore.

On Selma’s first day, she inadvertently walks into the bedroom of guest Jacob Sinclair while he is still in the room. Mortified, and fearing she may lose her job, she quickly exits.

Jacob, walking out of the bathroom and discovering Selma, is enchanted by her.

Jacob and Selma’s romance is charming and not without misinterpretations that threaten their budding relationship.

Peggy is the sister spotlighted in Rhonda Gibson’s story, A Honey of a Christmas.

Peggy works in the pastry section of the kitchen at the Biltmore Estate; a job she excels at and loves.

Mark Ludman is a single father and a beekeeper who provides honey for the Biltmore Estate. His son, Joshua, has trouble reading, and Mark is relieved when Peggy offers to assist Josh in learning to read.

One thing I really liked about this story was the recipes at the end of each chapter!

Highlighting sister Melissa is the story, An Accidental Christmas, by Diane T. Ashley with Aaron McCarver.

Melissa transfers between several different jobs at the Biltmore home because calamities seem to follow her wherever she goes. However, she has an aptitude for repairing mechanical problems that is uncanny.

Ned Robinson is on his way with a business proposal for George Vanderbilt when he becomes a victim of Melissa’s inattention.

Misunderstandings and mishaps plague Melissa and Ned, making a romance almost impossible.

All four stories carry a theme of faith, along with a beguiling story of love and romance. I enjoyed the stories. However, I think I would have enjoyed them more if there had been further interaction (and in some cases, any) between the sisters in each of the stories. After I finished the book, I had the feeling that some of the stories were rushed and not quite completed.

                                           Christmas in July sponsored by                                    


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Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Publisher’s Summary

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage–and okay, the botched divorce–was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife–still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone–including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

My Review

Josephine Miller wants nothing more than to get her divorce from Noah and get on with her life. However, her traitorous heart keeps getting in the way. She can’t still love him, can she?

Noah’s heart was broken by Josephine, and he wants as much distance between the two of them as he possibly can. Now, to add insult to injury, he discovers their divorce was never finalized! Would he never be free of Josephine?

I alternated between heartache for Noah and Josephine, frustration at their hard headedness and sadness at their lack of and inadequate communication.

Denise Hunter has written a poignant, bittersweet story of heartbreak and betrayal. The characters are complex but well developed. Sweetbriar Cottage isn’t your normal, charming happily ever after story. The subject matter is hard-hitting but realistic, daunting but authentic. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there is redemption. Ms. Hunter has interwoven faith and conviction seamlessly into the story without making the reader feel as if they are being preached to or beaten over the head with her message.

Sweetbriar Cottage is a difficult book to read but very much worth taking the time to read.

I received a copy of Sweetbriar Cottage from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.

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My Christmas in July Present!

I received a wonderful Christmas in July present! I was nominated for One Lovely Blog Award by His Perfect Timing!

Thank you so very much! I am so honored.

The Rules:

• Thank the person that nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
• List the rules.
• Display the award on your post of the award.
• List seven facts about yourself.
• Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

Isn’t this a beautiful award?

As per the rules, below are seven facts about myself:

  1. I am normally a prodigious reader averaging 300 books a year.
  2. I have lived in 10 different states that included 60 different places before I was 19.
  3. I have traveled to/through 37 states and one foreign country-Mexico.
  4. I have taken courses in Spanish, Japanese and Korean. However, please don’t ask me about it because I have forgotten all but one or two words/phrases.
  5. I love buffalo! I was thrilled when my youngest daughter took me to an animal preserve, and I got to feed and pet one. (Their tongues can scrape the skin off your palm!)
  6. I went to a Beach Boys concert on the beach!!
  7. I once worked as a bowling instructor.

I nominate the following blogs (if  you are an awards free blog, it is fine to not accept!):

WOW! That was hard to do, there are so many wonderful people with wonderful blogs. I had a VERY hard time choosing only 15!

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The Courageous Brides Collection: Compassionate Heroism Attracts Male Suitors to Nine Spirited Women by Johnnie Alexander, Michelle Griep, Eileen Key, Debby Lee, Rose Allen McCauley, Donita Kathleen Paul, Jennifer Uhlarik, Jeness Walker and Renee Yancy

Publisher’s Summary

Ride into adventures alongside nine determined women of yesteryear whose acts of compassion and bravery attract male attention. Marcy helps displaced Indians. Emmy tends wounds at Fort Snelling. Ronnie stows away on a cattle drive. Daisy disguises herself as a Pony Express rider. Elinor becomes an abolitionist. Mae tames wild horses. Hannah gets help for accident victims. Lucy’s curiosity unnerves criminals. Kate nurses soldiers on the battlefield. Will real dangers douse the sparks of love?

My Review

The following are the titles and authors in The Courageous Brides Collection: Compassionate Heroism Attracts Male Suitors to Nine Spirited Women:

The Healing Promise by Johnnie Alexander, The Doctor’s Woman by Michelle Griep, An Everlasting Promise by Eileen Key, Love on the Run by Debby Lee, Hidden Courage by Rose Allen McCauley, The Encumbered Bride by Donita Kathleen Paul, Mountain Echoes by Jennifer Uhlarik, Letters from Lucy by Jenness Walker and The Battlefield Bride by Renee Yancy.

I enjoy novella collections for a variety of reasons, and this one did not disappoint. One reason I enjoy novellas is because I can read them quickly and finish them easily. Once I start reading, I hate to stop until I have finished the book! This collection was especially enjoyable because I found several new authors as well as authors well-known to me.

Each of the stories is set in the mid to late 1800’s and gives a fascinating view of life during that era. They also deal with social and societal issues facing powerless groups.

Historical fiction is one of my favorites, and when combined with messages of faith, they become even more pleasurable to me.


The last story, The Battlefield Bride, very realistically portrays gruesome wounds of warfare and the resulting primitive surgeries during the Civil War.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

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Angel Song by Mary Manners


Publisher’s Summary

Down on her luck, college-educated art teacher Quinn Sanders is a single mom who’s returned to Landers Hollow to raise her five-year-old daughter, Linsey. While working at the local diner, Quinn is befriended by Jason Graves. She has no idea Jason’s the youth director of Landers Hollow Community Church until he asks her to lend a hand with the children’s Christmas pageant. Jason is dealing with issues of his own—a painful divorce following a doctor’s confirmation that he’ll never be able to father a child. Jason longs for a family of his own, but, rejected and disheartened, fears it may never come to pass. Jason and Quinn are both searching for a Christmas miracle. What they find is sweeter than an angel’s song.

My Review

Quinn Sanders, single mom, lost her job because of budget cuts and has returned home, only to find work as a waitress. She’s barely able to eke out a living for herself and her daughter. To make matters worse, it’s almost Christmas, her car won’t start and all four of the tires on her car are bald.

Jason Graves, church youth director, lost his help for the annual Christmas pageant and thinks Quinn is the answer to his prayers. Only one problem; she doesn’t agree!

Mary Manners’ novella, Angel Song, is an enchanting short story about the Christmas season. I felt the bitter cold as Quinn unsuccessfully tried to start her car, the frustration of her feeling as if it were just one more thing on a mountain of disappointments and the feeling of redemption as her life began to slowly turn around. I also delighted in Linsey, Quinn’s daughter! She added warmth, laughter and tenderness to the lives of everyone she touched.

Miss Manners does a wonderful job of portraying two souls reeling from rejection and heartache, learning to trust God in all circumstances.

Angel Song is the perfect story for Christmas in July, evoking memories of the joy of the season and the reasons we celebrate it.

                                          Christmas in July sponsored by                                       

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Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Publisher’s Summary

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

My review

Grace Mallory has spent the last year hiding in the all-female town of Harper’s Station. She had learned the art of telegraphy and uses her experience to work in the town’s telegraph office. However, a sinister man tracking her finds her hideout. Now her life and the lives of her friends are in danger.

Amos Bledsoe, bicycle rider extraordinaire and telegraph operator in Dennison, Texas, overhears a startling message for Grace and sets out to help defend her.

Heart on the Line is written In Miss Witemeyer’s traditional style with lots of humor, intrigue, suspense and tales of the wild west! She also infuses all of her heroines with an ability to fend for themselves, along with a strong, unwavering faith in God.

I savored Heart on the Line. Grace’s courage and spunkiness were integral to the story and held me riveted, wanting to know how she could extricate herself from her dire circumstances.  I am sure if you enjoy historical fiction mixed with a little romance, you will enjoy this newest story in the Harper’s Station Series.

Karen Witemeyer has written another superb book about life in the late 1800’s. Heart on the Line is book two of the Ladies of Harper Station Series. However, it is great as a standalone. I didn’t even realize it was part of a series. (I had read the first book last year and vaguely recognized a few of the town’s inhabitants in the newest book.)

I received this book from Bethany House. However, I was not required to write a review.

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An Apple for Christmas by Darlene Franklin

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Publisher’s Summary

Ruby Nelson trades her job in the laboratory for teaching in a small girls’ school in Vermont. Twin sisters challenge her position—and their father captivates her imagination. Will the orchard grower graft Ruby onto his heart?

My Review

Ruby Nelson, the teacher for Spruce Hill Female Academy in Vermont, is clearly overqualified for her position.

MacIntosh “Mac” Cortland, widowed father to twins, Pippa and Margil (all three of the Cortland’s are named after a type of apple), is curious as to why Ruby is teaching instead of following her original vocation as a scientist. He’s not sure he wants her teaching his girls.

I especially enjoyed Pippa as she is spunky and inquisitive, sometimes to her detriment. Both Pippa and Margil are lonely without a mother and are trying to find their way through life, trying the patience of their father and their teacher.

Darlene Franklin has written a cute, heart-warming and enjoyable story focused around apples. Although An Apple for Christmas isn’t centered around Christmas, it does address the holiday and has inspirational overtones.

(Some of the book appears to be in draft form. Nevertheless, the story is fun to read.)

                               Christmas in July sponsored by                                       

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Celebrating America’s Independence

Happy 4th of July

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