Behind Love’s Wall by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Publisher’s Summary

The Grand Hotel Slowly Reveals Her Secrets

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life? 

Mackinac Island…The Grand Hotel…what fantastic settings for a novel, and who better to write them than Carrie Fancett Pagels, a true connoisseur and aficionado of both.

Carrie Fancett Pagels’ Behind Love’s Wall is a dual timeline novel set on Mackinac Island and at The Grand Hotel. Pagels’ knowledge and affection for the island and hotel resound and reverberate throughout, which gives the work a truer, more engaging and intriguing authenticity.

Two main characters, Lilly in 1895 and Willa in 2020, are surrounded by mystery and intrigue. Furthermore, COVID’s limitations also have a role. Only a journal provides insight into one life, bringing hope to the other, despite the fact that they are separated by 125 years. Neither of them dreamed how their stories would end.

I really enjoyed the inclusion of some characters from Pagels’ prior books, too. Their roles are well done, keep the flow of the book going and provide an update to their lives. However, reading the prior novels is not required to follow and comprehend Behind Love’s Wall. In addition, I admire and appreciate her approach to matters of faith.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.


The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection: 9 Women Dream of Perfect Christmases during the Victorian Era by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstad and Erica Vetsch

My Review

Who doesn’t love the magic of Christmas at any time of year? Add the mystique of the Victorian Era, coupled with the enchantment of Christmas brides, and you have the recountal of a memorable time in history.

Nine authors have come together to write nine stories of men and women finding unexpected, but much-welcomed, love.

I traveled from the United States to England and back again. I felt the cold, stinging of sleet and heard the pinging of it hitting the window. I was entranced and breathless from the beautiful snow as it fell softly to the ground, covering it in pure white. I smelled the pungent fir and pine Christmas trees, along with the wassail and roasting goose. I felt despair, confusion and joy-just as the personalities portrayed did.

I am familiar with many of the authors and enjoyed reading their works. A few were new to me. However, I look forward to reading additional creations of theirs, too.

The fun thing about novellas is you can curl up in your favorite reading space and read as much or as little as you want. If you are like me, you’ll read the entire book in one sitting!!

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

Publisher’s Summary

Experience a Dickens of a Christmas

Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love?

Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley
1837 Framlingham, England
How can widow Ophelia Hanover give her son a perfect Christmas when his guardian, the Earl of Litton, arrives early to take permanent custody of the boy?

One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase
1855 Devonshire, England
Wounded soldier Tristram Nowell returns home to indulge his mother’s wish for a family Christmas–and encounters Marianna Granville. Can he forgive the former heiress who jilted him years before?

Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher
1857 Elmira, New York
SarahAnn Winnifred overcomes orphan hood apprenticing with pioneering doctors. Rufus Sedgwick, relocating his English estate, seeks help for his ailing Mum. Christmas reveals the secret wish of both hearts–for love.

The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew for help.

Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze
1875, County Durham, England1875
This Yuletide, Bennet Hett, Viscount Harwood, offers Lady Celeste Sidwell matrimony and the Star of Wonder diamond necklace, as their fathers arranged. When the diamond disappears, will they find a greater treasure?

Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad
1880, Christmas, Chicago, Christmas
Widowed harpist Beatrix Kent believes love can only come once in a lifetime, but this Christmas, carpenter Hugo Sherman hopes to pull on the musician’s heartstrings and prove her wrong.

The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch
1880s London
Melisande Verity might be in over her head trying to create the perfect Christmas window display, but if she succeeds, will she finally attract the attention of her boss, Gray Garamond?

A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer
1899, Christmas, London, England, Christmas 1899
Lady Ashleigh Pendleton is hosting a houseful of guests for Christmas when railroad executive Christopher Campbell unexpectedly arrives from America with a mysterious agreement signed by their fathers before their birth.

The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach
1900, Small town along the Potomac near Washington, DC
A glass ornament. Love letters tied in red Christmas ribbon. Lily Morningstar and British antiquities expert Andrew Stapleton are drawn into a family secret that binds their hearts together.

Third Peek at Soon to be Released Books!


                       C.J. Chase

                                Susanne Dietze  

                         Rita Gerlach

                                Kathleen L. Maher

                              Gabrielle Meyer  

                                Carrie Fancett Pagels 

                            Vanessa Riley  

                                Lorna Seilstad 

                         Erica Vetsch 

Published by Barbour Books to be released September 1st.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels

My Review

Carrie Fancett Pagels aptly transports us back in time to 1895’s Mackinac Island, Michigan, in My Heart Belongs in Mackinac Island:  Maude’s Mooring.

Maude Welling, her father and her little brother Jack are all still grieving the loss of their mother/wife, though each in very different ways. Maude is more determined than ever to take over the reins of Winds of Mackinac Inn, her father is just as determined she won’t and Jack is determined to become the fastest runner in the United States.

Ms. Pagels descriptive language leaves you feeling the sounds and sights of Mackinac Island, from the grandeur of The Grand Hotel to the impoverishment of the maids. As you read, you feel as if you have truly stepped back in time to a very different life and era. Plus, interspersed throughout the book are tidbits and gems of mystery, love and betrayal.

I enjoyed reading another of the My Heart Belongs collection, and the fact it was written by Ms. Pagels made it even more enjoyable.

I received this book from the author through NetGalley and Barbour Publishing. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Journey now to Mackinac Island where…
A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds.

Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel.  While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders—including Maude—and he digs deep for his story.

But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

The Fruitcake Challenge By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Banner Christmas in July 2


Publisher’s Summary

When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. Moreover, she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help—and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother.

Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave?

My Review

Josephine “Jo” Christy has two brothers, Ox and Moose-whose nicknames are representative of their sizes- who protect her while she works as a cook in their father’s lumber camp. She doesn’t know of their protection either, but she wouldn’t mind even if she did because all she wants is to start her own bakery someday. Her job as camp cook is providing her with good training.  However, when Tom Jefferies has a “proposal” involving a fruitcake, she decides to take him on so she can teach him a lesson. However, maybe Jo learns a lesson!

I enjoyed getting to know the characters in the story; they were fun and sweet. Everyone contributed to the “proposal,” making it a most “delicious” part of the plot.

Carrie Fancett Pagels has written a delightful Christmas story in book 1 of The Christy Lumber Camp Series. Miss Pagels draws from her own history to authenticate and realistically depict the lumber camp setting.  As you read The Fruitcake Challenge, you feel the bitterly cold wind, revel in the competition and root for the main characters. Miss Pagels also includes a strong inspirational message in the book, which I appreciate.

The Fruitcake Challenge is an enchanting book to read, be it at Christmas or any other time of year!

I received this book from the author. However, I was not required to write a review.

From the Author

I wrote this book with inspiration from the memory of my mother, who was moved to a lumber camp when she was a young girl. My grandmother served as the lumber camp cook where my grandfather had his logging camp and my mother helped. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and met many of my mother’s friends from her lumber camp days. Many people of different nationalities who still could speak their native language, e.g., Finnish. I set my story in the 19th century, however, at the end of the “White Gold” book in Michigan’s lower peninsula.

If you enjoy lumberjacks and logging camps, I suggest you visit the Tahquamenon Logging Museum in Newberry, Michigan. My paternal great-grandparents’ cabin is housed there. That side of the family had lumberjacks, too, but not like on my maternal side. The museum is a great place to visit to learn more about lumber camps. And if you visit, try to plan when they are doing their famous “Lumberjack Breakfasts” because they are not to be missed!

Another place I love is Hartwick Pines, which has old growth trees including some of the big white pines that are now gone.

The right fruitcake is very tasty! I challenge you to set any prejudices against this holiday cake aside and come up with a version that suits your own taste buds. And my mom really did make the best fruitcake–just like Tom’s mother.

                                            Christmas in July sponsored by                                       

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels and Gina Welborn

My Review

Abigail Melton becomes the mayor of Turtle Springs, Kansas, by default. Her father doesn’t return after the Civil War, in which he, along with almost the entire male population of this small Kansas town, died in the war.

Abigail knows something needs to be done; the town needs men, so she proposes advertising for husbands, in a unique twist to the more common mail-order bride scenario. Her idea mimics today’s speed dating idea. Each woman will have 15 minutes with the men who respond to the ad. At the end of all the meetings, they can write down the name of the man they want to get to know better and set up dates.

All seven tales, beginning with Abigail’s, focuses on either a single lady or widow trying desperately to survive without the men necessary to run the ranches, stores, restaurant and other business or family ventures in Turtle Springs.

There are many light-hearted and sad moments within the stories. The women are as different as can be imagined, but all have hopes, dreams and a desire for a better life, not only for themselves but also for their friends and their town.

A lot of action and adventure is in the novella collection of Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands. Each carries a message of faith and hope, too.

I enjoy how the seven novellas, though written by different authors, all had references to other individuals in the collection. If you enjoy historical fiction with a twist, you are sure to enjoy reading this compilation about the post-Civil War era in Turtle Springs, Kansas.

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


Publisher’s Summary

Seven women seek husbands to help them rebuild a Kansas town.

Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

Abigail’s Proposal by Cynthia Hickey
When her father never returned from the war, Abigail Melton stepped into his role as town mayor. The town needs men, and she needs a husband—and she has a big idea how to find both—but her first duty is to hire a sheriff. And drifter Josiah Ingram will do just fine.

The Kidnapped Groom by Susan Page Davis
Riding through the Flint Hills on his way to Dodge City, cowboy Sam Cayford finds himself the kidnapping victim of two children. When he meets their lovely mother, Maggie Piner—whom the kids insist he should marry—Sam starts to question God’s plans versus his own.

A Clean Slate by Susanne Dietze
Schoolmarm Roberta “Birdy” Green won’t marry any of the prospective grooms flocking to town. After losing her fiancé in the war, the only love her broken heart can bear is for her students. But then she takes on a new pupil—Drew Cooper, one of the gentlemen drawn to Kansas by the advertisement for grooms.

Sunshine of My Heart by Darlene Franklin
Debbie Barker longs to bring beauty to her new home on the prairie, where her family moved after the war, and seeks a husband to help her father run the ranch. Zack Gage returned home from the war to a life in ruins—family dead and business bankrupted. He answers the mail-order husband ad to seek a fresh start. But neither Debbie nor Zeke know what they are doing when it comes to ranching. . .or love.

Come What May by Patty Smith Hall
Chardy Stevens is at the end of her rope. Between running her late father’s store and tending to her four younger brothers, she barely has time to breathe, much less look for a husband to help her. The boys scare off most of her prospects and throw Chardy together with her childhood friend Luke, a disabled veteran who seeks her happiness above his own.

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 fiesty widow cause the new vicar to make Kansas his home?

Louder than Words by Gina Welborn
After years of writing abolitionist pamphlets and chronicling soldier life during the war, J.R. Lockhart is bored and jumps at the opportunity to investigate an advertisement for husbands for an article in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Jane Ransome would like to help the charming-but-oblivious-to-life-out-West man chronicle the courtships developing in town, but she has her own husband to find—one who will fit perfectly in her picket-fenced Kansas home.

The Steeplechase by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The Steeplechase

Publisher’s Summary

In Regency-era America, a beautiful young woman determined to enter a steeplechase and a handsome horse breeder may have a British enemy — or two. Fall 1810 in Virginia was a wonderful time for a long carriage ride, or perhaps a race on horseback. The Commonwealth was still young, but thriving. Unfortunately, there still were those who sympathized with the British. Martha Osborne’s stepmother has again traveled to England, her very young son in an academy. Equestrian Phillip Paulson is sympathetic to Martha’s desire to have her half-brother returned home. As Martha and Phillip’s relationship blossoms, danger looms. Will the steeplechase end it all?

My Review

Martha Osborne has a little step-brother, Johnny, whom she worries about because he was sent to a boarding school at such a young age. Her step-mother seems more concerned about trips back to England than she does her children, leaving Martha frustrated and concerned.

Phillip Paulson, an equestrian at the boarding school, takes an interest in little Johnny, which helps to allay some of Martha’s fears. That is, until new more ominous ones appear.

Each main character has engaging traits Johnny is an appealing child; Martha is determined and loyal, while Phillip is protective. The villains (I won’t give any spoilers!) are truly villainous!

Carrie Fancett Pagels has written another outstanding historical novella, focusing on Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia, just prior to the War of 1812. She gives such detailed portrayals of settings and events that you feel you are there, too.  The imagery she evokes, the attention to detail and the historical accuracy are just a few of the reasons I enjoy her books so much.

I enjoy historical fiction, otherwise, history just seems to be a dry dusting of dates you no doubt memorized in school. Miss Pagels’ stories truly bring the events to life.

Friday’s Fiction


A Christmas Carol Meets It’s a Wonderful Life

A letter for Sonja’s deceased friend arrives at the post office in Michigan, and with it a proposal. With her father threatening to kick her out of his home, Sonja impulsively responds, offering to travel west to be a substitute bride. At the same time, Louis’s railroad promotion sends him back to Michigan, the one place on earth he’d hoped to never return—where Christmas past was full of pain. A mysterious stranger leaves him marked copies of “A Christmas Carol” as he considers romancing Sonja in Christmas present. Will Louis discern the best choices for Christmas future? Does it include the Poor House, again? Even so—will God bring healing and love to him this year?

Sonja Hoeke is the last daughter left at home, and her father never lets her forget it either. Sonja works hard as a substitute mail carrier for her father when he is ill, and you would think he would appreciate her help and assistance. Instead, he humiliates her by announcing to the townsmen that he wants her married and telling her he will kick her out if she’s not married by his deadline.

Louis (Smith) Penwell has been a pen pal with Sonja’s best friend, Cora. However, unknown to him when he proposed to her by letter, Cora had passed away.

Reeling from her father’s cruelty, Sonja impulsively sends Louis a letter offering to be a substitute bride.

Carrie Fancett Pagels has written another delightful and well researched novella, this time centered around Christmas in 1891. She has brought to life the horrors of the “poor house,” the restrictions imposed on young women and the beauty and the majesty of the snow-covered city of Shepherd, Michigan.

The Substitute Bride can be read quickly. However, the story of forgiveness and God’s grace will stay with you much longer.

Wednesday’s Warning

Don’t Forget!!!!

Today is the last day of Lilacs for Juliana Blog Hop

Christy Lumberjack for Ball


September 7th    Heroes, Heroines and History 

September 12th  Overcoming with God 

September 14th   BookBabble

September 16th   Cheryl B Book Blog

September 18th   D’s Quilts & Books

September 23rd  Sunnie Reviews

September 24th  Buzzing About Books

September 30th  Captive Dreams Windows

October 1st           SingingLibrarian Books

October 5th           Perspectives by Nancee 

October 7th           Stuff and Nonsense

October 14th        Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

October 21st       LaneHill House

Wednesday’s WOW!

Lilacs for Juliana

(Giveaway is over, sorry!)

Today we have a great treat!  Miss Juliana Beauchamps has agreed to an interview in honor of our blog hop (details for hop below).

Character Interview with Juliana Beauchamps

By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Juliana, you grew up listening to lumber camp tales not only through the lumberjacks but via your fisherman father. Is that right?

JB: Yes, there’s nothing like a good story, on a cold night. And here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we have many chilly evenings spent around the fire in summer and around the stove in winter.  Lumberjacks are notorious for their tall tales, and Paul Bon Jean (modern day readers call him Paul Bunyan) was a favorite.

But you have a deep love of poetry. Why is that?

JB: I grew up hearing all manner of prose and poetry in school. One of my favorite teachers instilled in me a love of the emotion behind poetry—whether it be the fear and terror instilled by Edgar Allan Poe or the tender feelings of love evoked by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Speaking of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, she seems to be your favorite. Is she? And why?

JB: I am blushing, because, yes, indeed Elizabeth Barrett Browning is my favorite poet. After my heart was broken, when I was almost left at the altar, her verses (and my Bible) brought me comfort. And, truth be told, I have to admit I didn’t feel the deep love for my former fiancé, not the love she felt for the younger man who would become her husband.

This reminds me that you and Richard “Moose” Christy have an age difference, much like Elizabeth Barrett and Mr. Browning. Has that caused a problem?

JB: I could use a fan! Yes, indeed, I fear Richard may be younger than I thought and perhaps too young for me. I am not clear what our age difference is, or whether it troubles him, but yes, I am concerned.

Yet, he, too, enjoys Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry. What do you think about that?

JB: Why I think a man enjoying such deeply affectionate prose must be a much deeper creature than he appears on the surface. Richard is so quiet. Yet his love of poetry helps me understand he does plumb deeper emotional depths than he shows.

Thanks for visiting with me today. I’ve missed spending time with you!!!

JB: Why thank you! I’m enjoying visiting with so many of your friends!

My Thoughts

Lilacs for Juliana is a delightful story, illustrating how, with a lot of thought and love, a potentially major problem can become a mere inconsequential complication.

Carrie Fancett Pagels does a marvelous job portraying two people falling in love when they’re not quite sure if the other reciprocates their feelings. As you read, you are drawn into the story and feel as if each character is your friend. A page-turner and a story you want to give yourself time to read, Lilacs for Juliana will not disappoint!  blo hop for Juliana
Schedule is as follows:












OCT 14

OCT 21

The above blogs are either directly linked to the giveaway if the giveaway is already posted, others just link to blogs(since they haven’t posted their giveaway yet!). Please visit each of them on the corresponding blog hop date!

Also, Giveaway Here:

Leave a comment and email address for a paperback or eBook copy of Lilacs for Juliana by Carrie Fancett Pagels, or any one of the other books in The Christy Lumber Camp Series.

Christy Lumberjack for Ball

Carrie Pagels

More information about Carrie Fancett Pagels:

Carrie Fancett Pagels Ph.D. is an award-winning, best-selling, and multi-published Christian historical romance author. Carrie was a psychologist for twenty-five years. Married for twenty-seven years with two children. Carrie resides in Virginia’s Historic Triangle and enjoys reading, traveling and researching. She’s a finalist for the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence.