Friday, May 27, 2011

The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

Move over Miss Marple; the Reverend Faith Morgan has joined the ranks of the next big, hot, new... clerical detective!  A clerical detective is, according to Philip Grosset, "Any detective with a significant church or religious back ground." Check out his web site at It's really fun!

Martha Ockley has taken this genre by storm (or at least a good English rainfall).

Faith, a former policewoman, now a priest in the Church of England, becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a fellow priest- the same priest who was about to retire from his parish in the village of Little Worthy and whose place Faith is being considered as the replacement vicar.  Complications arise when her ex boyfriend, Ben Shorter is the chief inspector on the case.

Faith's epiphany of, well, faith was a factor in her break up with Ben, whose style of police work values convictions (guilty ones) over, perhaps, convictions of a more heavenly kind.

I really liked Faith's character.  Whereas  Ben focuses on being right, Faith is challenged to seek the truth.  She wears a clerical "dog collar" as part of her new found vocation.  Ben carries a badge.  Both are symbolic of stands taken and sacrifices made.  Faith is not above being tempted by Ben's magnetism (and who wouldn't be?).  Her new found purpose as shepherd of this winsome flock of regular people and the comfort of the unwavering doctrine of the cross is strong; but she wonders: is it strong enough to handle all this?

This book was a delightful discovery and I look forward to more Faith Morgan Mysteries.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Reluctant Detective
Monarch Books (April 30, 2011)
Martha Ockley


Martha Ockley is the pen-name of Rebecca Jenkins. She read history at Oxford University, and spent several years working alongside her father, the Rt. Revd. David Jenkins (Bishop of Durham 1984-94) during the turbulence of the 1980s. She lives in Teesdale in the North East of England where the landscape and history provide the inspiration for her Regency detective, F R Jarrett. Since September 2009 she has been Royal Literary Fund Fellow and Writer in Residence at York St John University. She is a full-time author, writing both fiction and non-fiction. (She should not be confused with a Canadian actor and singer, also called Rebecca Jenkins.)  


The Reluctant Detective sees Faith Morgan arriving back in the region of her birth - Winchester in Hampshire. Recently ordained, she had been working as a curate in an Anglican inner-city church. Within an hour of her arrival at Little Worthy, she witnesses the sudden shocking death of a fellow priest during a communion service at St James's. He had been poisoned with a pesticide mixed with the communion wine. The senior police officer who arrives at the scene turns out to be Detective Inspector Ben Shorter, Faith's ex long-term boyfriend.

She is urged by the Bishop to stay on to look after the parish of Little Worthy. As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising facts about her apparently well loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death. And it is she who finally identifies the murderer.

The story gets off to a dramatic start with the previous vicar collapsing as soon as he drank the communion cup, and it holds the interest throughout. There is some romantic interest too. Inspector Ben Shorter starts by sneeringly telling his sergeant, "Ms Morgan is a vicar. One of the ordained," Ben emphasized the word. “She's a card-carrying professional at the touchy-feely stuff.” But he soon starts to feel differently about her again, although she is well aware that he "didn't understand the reality she experienced through her faith. He didn't even recognize its existence. That was the gulf between them." Her own beliefs and doubts are convincingly described, for even she can't help wondering, "What if there is no truth to it?" But for her, as for Pascal before her, it was a gamble worth taking.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Reluctant Detective, go HERE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins

There is a reason why Brandilyn Collins' trade mark is "Seatbelt Suspense" and her newest offering, Over the Edge, a thriller centering on the ongoing controversy surrounding Lyme disease, comes as close to a free fall into the Hinterland of suspense as just about any book I've come across on my fiction journey.

In true Hitchcockian style, Janessa McNeil, the young, beautiful wife of a famous doctor becomes a victim in her own home.  A would be killer is on the loose and our heroine must fight for her life.  The stakes are high, as Janessa must also protect her young daughter from this madman.  How can she maintain her sanity while her stalker clearly has the upper hand?  Who will believe her far fetched story over that of the experts: the medical community, who has ignored Lyme sufferers in lieu of their own agendas?  As Janessa's life hangs in the balance, tottering frighteningly close to the Edge,  she will have to dig deep into her personal reservoirs of faith and determination if there is to be any hope of victory.

I have been following Brandilyn's blog about Lyme disease called Lyme- Over the Edge, a forum where many sufferers of Lyme disease tell their (heart-breaking) stories.  These people are every bit as brave and determined as our heroine-  I urge everyone to check it out- I promise, you will never be casual about a tick bite ever again.  I wondered how someone could write a suspense thriller about Lyme: really, how sexy is that?  Never fear- actually, be very afraid, for Brandilyn will take you on the ride of your life.  It's her trademark.
Please read on for more information about Over the Edge; but be warned- you will not be able to pass this one by!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Over the Edge
B&H Books (May 1, 2011)
Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..."®  Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.


Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.

Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.

One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.

But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.

Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.

“A taut, heartbreaking thriller. Collins is a fine writer who knows how to both horrify readers and keep them turning pages.”

--Publishers Weekly

“Tense and dramatic. Holds its tension while following the protagonist in a withering battle.” –NY Journal of Books

“A frightening and all-too-real scenario. Very timely and meaningful book.” –RT Reviews

“If you know someone who suffers from Lyme, you need to read this compelling novel.” –Lydia Niederwerfer, founder of Lyme-Aware

If you would like to read the Prologue of Over the Edge, go HERE

Watch the book video:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fade to Blue
B&H Books (May 15, 2011)
Julie Carobini


A word from the author:

I grew up as Julie Navarro, in a family of truly right-brained individuals. Among us you’ll find writers, artists, and musicians, all of us willing to talk about the arts at a moment’s notice.

Over the years, I’ve published several hundred articles and stories in magazines and books, including Aspire, Decision, Expecting, Focus on the Family, Key Magazine and God’s Abundance: 365 Days to a Simpler Life. As I wrote, I found a common theme cropping up: my family, the sea, and God’s timely work in the lives of those around me.

Maybe it was time to incorporate those interests into novels, I thought.

And so I did. Not once, but twice. Both times, God shut both doors and windows. So I continued to write and dream and raise my kids with Dan. Eventually I decided to write romantic seaside novels, and that’s where I found my voice.

When I’m not writing, marketing, or editing for others, I’m driving my kids around town, imagining that my mid-sized SUV is actually a sleek sailing yacht.  


Suz Mitchell is the determined dreamer we should all be and won't allow her ex-husband Len's jail sentence to ruin their young son Jeremiah's life. An accomplished artist, she moves with her child across the country to California's central coast and lands a sweet job restoring priceless paintings at the historic Hearst Castle overlooking the ocean.

To her utter surprise, a serious old flame, Seth, is also now working at Hearst and jumbles the dreams inside Suz's heart. While sorting out the awkwardness of their past split and current spiritual differences, a repentent Len shows up eager to restore his family.

Suz must learn to let God be the true restorer of all that once seemed lost.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fade to Blue, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser

It's summer in the city.  New York City, 1895, and it's hot- and when the going gets hot, the wealthy go... to the sea side.  For the mega wealthy society crowd, that would be Newport Rhode Island.  Trust me- you haven't seen nouveau until you've seen the riche of this set.

Nancy Moser takes you there by rail and by steam ship, first class or not- depending on who your friends are.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Mrs. Scarpelli and her daughters, the perfectly responsible Lucy (24) and the almost sixteen not so responsible Sophia work in a Manhattan sweat shop in the garment district.  One evening they receive notice that they must find a new apartment, as their over crowded tenement is scheduled to be torn down to make way for a new park.  And so the story begins.

I have always loved books about women who sew and the Scarpelli's have talent to spare (except in these economic times they must use all of their skills to put food on the table and a roof over their heads).  Mama makes hats, Lucy is a natural with design, and Sophia, although extremely spoiled and headstrong, is fast learning her way around a sewing machine.  I found her love of dime novels endearing, which saved me from getting too annoyed with her petulant character.

An Unlikely Suitor is replete with uncomfortable but fascinating Victorian fashion, jealousy, suitors (unlikely ones), disapproving matrons and danger due to an evil villain named Bonwitter.

I really enjoyed leaving the heat of the City, along with the Scarpelli's, and could almost feel the sea breeze on my face as they explored the cliffs of Newport.  How wonderful to discover that, in spite of some of life's pin pricks, dreams just may come true.

Ms. Moser's love of story, sewing, architecture and historical accuracy sparkles like the sunrise over the Atlantic.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Unlikely Suitor
Bethany House (May 1, 2011)
Nancy Moser


Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty inspirational novels. Her genres include contemporary stories including John 3:16 and Time Lottery a Christy Award winner, and historical novels of real women-of-history including Just Jane (Jane Austen) and Washington's Lady (Martha Washington). Her newest historical novels are Masquerade and An Unlikely Suitor. Nancy and her husband Mark live in the

Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Sister Circle Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Find out more at and and her historical blog:


New York dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's designing her 1895 summer wardrobe. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating fashions that hide her physical injury, Rowena invites Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, encouraging the unusual friendship.

One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what Newport man would want to marry an Italian dressmaker working to support her family?

Rowena faces an arranged marriage to a wealthy heir she doesn't love, but dare a crippled girl hope for anything better?

And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, falls for a man well above her social class--but is he willing to give up everything to marry a woman below his station?
As the lives of three young woman--and their unlikely suitors--become entangled in a web of secrets and sacrifice, will the season end with any of them finding true happiness?

If you would like to read the first chapter of An Unlikely Suitor, go HERE.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Judgement by Beverly Lewis

If you think that Amish Fiction is ONLY about bonnets, delicious food, and barn raisings, think again.   Beverly Lewis, the "founder of the Amish genre", crafts a story about faith and family values, set on a collision course that rivals the challenges of the "modern" world.

The Judgement is the second book in The Rose Trilogy.  It stands well enough on its own, but I can't imagine anyone not continuing on to (at least) book three.

The fragility of life and love is explored with honesty as the Kauffman family battle their mother's crippling illness, a daughter's separation from her Englisher husband, and another's struggle to find true love.

Through Ms. Lewis' writing, it becomes crystal clear that the so called "simple life" isn't always so simple.  Children, even Amish children,  go against the wishes and wisdom of their parents and suffer the consequences; something that as a parent of five teen- agers and twenty somethings- I can relate to.  (I found myself praying right along with the characters- head bowed and eyes closed.)

What I love about the Amish is their emphasis on doing the right (biblical) thing.  They do their best to live the truths of the Good Book.  Sometimes they mess up...

This book is one more reason why Beverly Lewis has taken the world by storm.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Judgment
Bethany House (April 5, 2011)
Beverly Lewis


Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."


Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop's biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick? Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents' farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon's favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judgment, go HERE

Watch the book trailer: