A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California

Thinking about Thursday

Book Review

Tuesday, I interviewed Keli Gwyn about her debut release. If you missed out on that fun, you can read it here. Now that I've had the opportunity to read A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado,  California, I can't wait to tell you about it.

First, let me say, as an inspirational romance set in the old west, this book was WAY out of my normal reading. But, since I've followed Keli's journey to publication, including crying with her when she opened her first shipment of books (Did you miss that? You can see it here.) I felt so invested in this book, I did little dance in the kitchen the day  I opened it. 
Sorry, no video of that. 

About the Book

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them?
Miles can’t help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business?
Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

Check out Keli's video of the real life inspiration for her story. 

What did I think?  
Let me just say, I smiled like a loon through most of this book. The characters are immediately real and loveable. There is one particular scene where the men in the barbershop are teasing Miles that made me realize people in that time were real. They had lives not so removed from ours. They weren't all gunfighters and staunch lawmen.  They loved their families, flirted with their wives and the men, because they are men, still showed affection by dogging on each other. 

Having been accused (or praised~ whichever way you want to take it) in my life of being a "stubborn, independent woman", I loved the character of Elenora.  Her quick wit and resourcefulness instantly drew me to her. The banter between her and Miles adds a delightful flavor of humor and authenticity to the story. 

This is an inspirational romance, but the message of faith is by no means heavy-handed. References to the Lord and prayer arise organically and do not pull the reader from the story as I have seen in other inspirational works. 

There is also plenty of "romantic tension". Enough to keep you turning the page to find out "Will they?" or "Won't they?" for just a kiss!

So, my question to you is, what have you ever wondered about the old west? Can you imagine the people you know living there? If you were there, what would you be? A shop owner? Sheriff? Outlaw? 

The names of those who  leave a comment today will be combined with the names from Tuesday and entered in the drawing for an autographed copy of Keli's book.   


Wildflowers from Winter~ Book Review

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Bethany Quinn was happy to leave her small town ten years ago to create a new, successful life. But when tragedies strike at home, she is forced to return and face the pain of her childhood. Out of options, Bethany tries to find a place where love and faith make sense again.

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing author Katie Ganshert. You can check that out here. Today, I get to review her debut release!  I call that a good week.

For me, Wildflowers from Winter was an emotional read.  I started tearing up on page 19, by page 62 I had abandoned getting up to get tissues and just brought a roll of toilet paper to bed with me.

That said, it was a good cry. 

Katie makes these characters so real you can almost touch them. I could see my reflection in their flaws.  Each of their failures ripped at my heart. But, the greatest part is the interwoven message of hope. 

As the main character, Bethany, grapples with the distorted religious views that shaped her past, Katie unobtrusively guides the reader through a journey of losing and finding faith. Though the praise and hope of God is clear throughout, the message is never heavy-handed or preachy. 

The authentic reactions of the characters to grief and tragedy of the situations is refreshing.  If you have experienced any level of loss, you can identify with the different coping strategies exhibited by each character. Everyone grieves differently and Katie captures the heart of that beautifully. 

I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. I am looking forward to Katie's next release. Wishing on Willows which is a continuation of Robin's story from Wildflowers. 

The Reason Is You~ Book Review

Thinking about Thursday

Sharla Lovelace
      As I mentioned in the interview with Sharla last week,  I loved this book. Yes, Sharla is my friend and I respect her as a writer, but even if I hated her, I would still love this book.
 Here is a short synopsis for you:
Dani Shane just wants her daughter to have what she never did—a normal life.  But “normal” leaves the equation when sixteen-year old Riley is found talking to Dani’s only friend, Alex—who has been dead for forty years.
In the small river town of Bethany, Dani never fit in.  Being different pushed her to the fringes of society, and even leaving town for two decades didn’t stop the talk.  Now that she’s back, so is Alex.  Mischievous and sexy and still hot enough to melt her shoes.  Between his popping in at inopportune moments and her having to hide her daughter’s new talent, Dani fears that her plans for staying under the radar may be short-lived.
As Dani scrambles to get solid footing under her family, secrets buried for forty years begin to unearth themselves.  She and Alex have always been connected, but he is hiding something.  The computer is making her hear things.  Weird memories that she doesn’t recognize keep popping up in her mind.  Then there’s that little thing she hasn’t told her daughter yet—that some of the people she sees aren’t breathing.

The voice of the characters is what sucked me in. I felt an immediate connection to Dani and to her daughter. It was like reading about a family I already knew.

Dani is a frazzled, mom-trying-to-do-her-best, type character that any of us 30-40 somethings can identify with. She is flawed and honest, which makes you root for her without pitying her.

Riley is a quick-witted, sassy, teenager who doesn't come off as annoying or stereotypical. I love that her reactions to her situations are authentic and not glossed over.

And, Alex? Well, Alex is just flat hot... especially for a dead guy!

Psst, I'll let you in a little secret... There may or may not be another guy who is pretty steamy, too!

More than once I laughed aloud and more than once I teared up.

Sharla weaves the story in a way draws you in and makes you want to stay in Bethany. For the record, I read it mostly in one sitting. My kids had popcorn for dinner and my husband went to work the next day wearing mismatched socks because all I did was read.

Days later, I was still thinking about the characters. Now, that is a sign of a good book!

 releases April 3rd. 

You can connect with Sharla at www.sharlalovelace.com, as well as… Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads under ‘sharlalovelace’.