Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kathleen's Best Yet -- Faithful to Laura

Faithful to Laura is the second of Kathleen Fuller's Middlefield Family novels and just may be her best book yet!

Laura Stutzman -- who came onto the scene late in Treasuring Emma -- is dealing with scars, physical and emotional, caused by Mark King.  She is intent on making up to her family for the financial loss they suffered and wants to find and confront Mark about the pain he has caused.  She has no plans of getting attached to anyone or anything in Ohio; she just wants to finish her business and then go back home to Kentucky.

When a job opportunity falls into her lap, and Sawyer Thompson comes along with it, keeping her guard up becomes difficult.  Sawyer proves to be an understanding friend who is able to look past the scars to the beautiful young woman she is.  When troubling information comes to light that upsets Sawyer's life, Laura has the chance to return the favor of understanding and caring for him.  But where will circumstances take Laura and Sawyer, and will they be able to truly forgive the people who have hurt them?

Kathleen has given us a set of characters who have to face real-life struggles in an Amish setting.  Their story, though, of dealing with forgiveness in the midst of hurt, abandonment, and betrayal could just as easily have happened in the Englisch world.  The genuineness of the characters and their problems pulled me into the story at the very beginning and kept me engaged to the end.

There are loose ends to the story . . . so I will be impatiently waiting for them to be tied up on the next book!

(This book was provided free of charge from BookSneeze for my honest review.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Visit to Hope Beach -- Tidewater Inn

About the Book:

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent
and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

About the Author:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Visit her website at Twitter @colleencoble.

My Thoughts:
Tidewater Inn has mystery, action, romance -- a mix of elements that make for a great story.  The action grabs you at the very beginning and continues throughout the book with lots of twists and turns to keep you reading and guessing.  The characters are rich and interesting, people whose stories come alive and draw you in.  Their emotions and struggles with faith and personal relationships keep you engaged.

Rosemary Cottage, due for release in July of 2013 will provide an opportunity for readers to return to Hope Beach -- a trip I think will be worth the wait.

(This book was provided to me free of charge by Liftuse Publicity Group for my honest review.)

Check out what other readers think of  Tidewater Inn here.

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Return to Stoney Ridge -- The Haven

About the Book:

When Sadie Lapp steps off the bus in Stoney Ridge after being in Ohio for the winter, she is faced with a decision–one that goes against her very essence. Yet it’s the only way she can think of to protect a loved one.

Schoolteacher Gideon Smucker has been crazy about Sadie since boyhood. But his response to her surprising decision undermines his own reputation–and his relationship with Sadie.

College student Will Stoltz is spending the spring at the Lapp farm as a guard for a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons–courtesy of the Lancaster County Game Warden. Will needs to get his life back on track, but his growing friendship with Sadie threatens his plans.

The lives of these three individuals intertwine, and then unravel as unexpected twists create ripples through the town of Stoney Ridge . . . and through Sadie’s heart.

Once again, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher intrigues and delights with a story that explores the bonds of friendship, family, and true love. Readers will enjoy every surprise in Sadie’s story as they search for the truth hidden within these pages.

Read an excerpt!

Meet Suzanne:

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate many of their principles–simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily– into your life.

When Suzanne isn’t writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

To Suzanne’s way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth. Suzanne can be found on-line at:

My Thoughts:

The Haven is a fun return to the Lapp Family on Windmill Farm in Stoney Ridge, a family we first met in The Keeper.  Sadie, who was the quieter member of the family in The Keeper, becomes a major character here.  She meets -- and handles -- lots of challenges as she deals with family responsibilities and questions of the heart.  Of course, M.K., Uncle Hank, Fern, Amos, and other old friends play prominent parts in the story as well. 

Once again, Suzanne provides a story that covers a range of emotion, from heartache and hurt to humor.  Secrets are revealed and characters are tested, making for a great read!

(This book was provided free of charge by Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.)

Celebrate the newest book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series with Suzanne by entering her 4 eReader Giveaway and Facebook Party and RSVPing for the Live Video Chat on 8/30! 

See what folks are saying about The Haven!

Four grand prize winners will receive:
  • A Brand new Kindle Fire or Nook Color 
  • $25 or Barnes& Gift certificate 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 29th. Winner will be announced at Suzanne's Live Author Chat Party on 8/30. Suzanne will be hosting an author chat (party will start on Facebook AND then be Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and several Burt's Bees® Nourishing Radiance Kits!!

So grab your copy of The Haven and join Suzanne on the evening of the August 30th for a fun chat (both on Facebook and via Live Video), trivia contest and lots of giveaways. 

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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Stars Shine Bright

FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon doesn't always play straight by the book.  As a result of bending rules, she is facing suspension from the Bureau.  While the details of disciplinary action are being ironed out, Raleigh gets the opportunity to go undercover for two weeks at Emerald Meadows, a thoroughbred race track, to investigate what appears to be race fixing.  Once there, Raleigh finds the stakes may be much higher than originally thought, as horses are dying . . . and more.

While she takes on the role as niece of one of the stable owners and struggles to be accepted in the world of horse racing, Raleigh is also dealing with major personal issues.  She misses her father who was murdered years ago, and now her mother is in a mental hospital as a result of a breakdown that came after she learned that Raleigh worked for the FBI.  Raleigh is uncertain about her feelings about her fiance back in Virginia and has difficulty dealing with Jack Stephenson, her only FBI contact during her undercover assignment.

In the middle of such a complicated time, Raleigh is very lonely.  Her trust in God seems to be what keeps her going -- that and her childhood memories of time spent with her father looking at the night sky where the stars shine bright.

The Stars Shine Bright is Sibella Giorello's fifth Raleigh Harmon novel, and is the first that I have read in the series.  It works as a stand alone, but I'm sure some parts of the story would have been easier to follow if I had read the previous installments.  Sibella writes in great detail and gives vivid descriptions of her characters and their surroundings.  Her plot has plenty of twists and turns, keeping the reader interested and involved up to the end.

Sibella Giorello grew up in the mountains of Alaska admiring the beauty and nature that surrounded her. She majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts hoping to learn more about the landscape she loved back home. From there Sibella followed a winding path, much like the motorcycle ride she took across the country, which led to her true love, journalism.

She found herself in Seattle writing for rock-n-roll magazine and earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington before heading south to the land of great stories.

In Virginia, Sibella became a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was there she also met her husband and would hear Jesus whispering her name at a tent revival.

Sibella started writing about Raleigh Harmon as a way to keep her love of story-telling alive while staying at home with her young sons. As a journalist and author, her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. The Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon novel, won a Christy award for debut novel in 2008. Sibella now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

Visit Sibella Giorello online at, Facebook or Twitter.

See what other readers think about The Stars Shine Bright here.

(This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.)

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Amish Story -- Healing Love

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (September 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author and book lover. She’s got a degree in business but her passion has long been the mission of Christian fiction. Her first series, The Amish of Seymour from Whitaker House (Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another) earned praise from critics and fans for originality and authenticity, thanks in part to Laura’s Amish grandmother who taught her Amish culture at a young age, and her husband Steve’s family ties to the Amish community in Webster County, Missouri, which has been helpful in her research. Laura is the author of two novels for Treble Heart Books and a contributor to Zondervan’s It’s The Year Life Verse Devotional. She’s a member of ACFW for whom she writes Amish reviews for the magazine, Afictionado, and a long time reviewer for the Christian Suspense Zone. Laura is a stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger who posts reviews at:

Visit the author's website.


Shane Zimmerman, a young veterinarian and widower, is first person on the scene of a serious buggy accident buggy in Webster County, Missouri. He rushes Amish midwife Kristi Lapp, been badly injured in the crash, to the nearest hospital. The two discover they’re next door neighbors and a friendship develops as Shane helps Kristi with her high-energy Siberian husky, Chinook, for whom she can’t properly care because of her leg injuries. Shane hopes to further develop their relationship, but Kristi is leery and discourages him at first -- Shane isn’t Amish (although his grandparents were) and Kristi’s father would prefer she marry any aged Amish widower rather than an Englischer – even one with ties to the community who is close to her age. Despite the forces that would keep them apart, the strong attraction Kristi and Shane have for one another grows stronger. As their on-again, off-again relationship persists, Shane must come to grips with his identity and reevaluates why he’s Englisch.

Product Details:
List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603745068
ISBN-13: 978-1603745062


Chapter 1


Kristi Lapp flicked the reins impatiently. “Kum on, Samson. ‘Slow’ isn’t the only speed you’re capable of, ain’t so?” She needed him to pick up the pace. Silas Troyer had banged on her door earlier to alert her that his frau, Susie, was going into labor, and then he’d raced down the lane in his horse-and-buggy to notify their family members of the imminent birth.

Kristi was especially excited about this boppli. Susie had four girls, all of them a year apart, and she’d been expecting to have a boy this time, based on how different it had felt carrying him. Mamms usually sensed these things. And Kristi predicted she was right.

Several deer stepped onto the road right in front of Kristi, none of them even glancing her way. Smiling, she pulled the reins slightly to the right to direct Samson away from them, over to the side of the road. A similarly sized herd had meandered its way through her family’s backyard the other day, and she’d always admired the animals for sticking together as they did.

She tightened her grip on the reins and gave them another flick, hoping to encourage Samson to move more quickly.

As the deer were crossing the center line into the other lane, the powerful roar of an engine broke the serenity of the setting. A red sports car crested the hill up ahead, barreling in Kristi’s direction at a speed she’d never witnessed on this road. She heaved a breath of exasperation. Any idiot would have noticed one of the several signs that read, “Watch for Buggies.” They were impossible to miss, and Kristi had passed four of them in the last mile alone.

As the car whizzed toward her, the herd of deer scattered, darting in different directions. The driver swerved sharply into Kristi’s lane to avoid them, and she gasped, frantically trying to steer the buggy over toward the shoulder. A chill ran up her spine at the sight of the steep embankment and deep ditch below.

One of the spooked deer pivoted. Made a mad dash straight toward her horse. Samson reared and immediately took off at a run, straight toward the ditch.

“Whoa, Samson!” Kristi planted her feet against the front of the buggy and pulled back on the reins with all her might. Leave it to Samson to shift into high gear at the worst time.

The car sped past, but Samson wouldn’t slow down. He was heading straight for the side of the road. Panic surged through Kristi, constricting her breath. Should she try to jump out? She dropped the reins and scooted to the edge of the seat.

She was too late. The buggy lurched as Samson ran headlong over the embankment. As the vehicle tipped, she was propelled out the side. Hours seemed to pass before her body collided with the ground and pain engulfed her.

Teetering on the edge of consciousness, she thought briefly of Susie. How desperately she wanted to be there to assist with the birth of her boppli! Especially considering the problems she’d had with her first delivery…. And then she blacked out.


Shane Zimmerman flipped on his fog lights to illuminate the low-lying clouds, which created interesting shapes and shadows against the dark backdrop of woods lining the rural Missouri highway. He scanned the area for deer ousted from their natural habitats by hunters. Of course, rutting season also brought them out of hiding. Not that he hunted. He did treat many a pet that had been injured accidentally by a hunter, such as the Great Dane boarding at his clinic while she recovered from the surgical removal of an errant bullet.

Shane reached inside the console for a CD—the latest release from LordSong—and slid it into the player. As the uplifting music filled the car, he flexed his shoulders in an effort to relieve the tension of the busy day behind him. He looked forward to getting home and kicking back to read his Bible and watch the evening news.

As his Jeep crowned the hill, he tapped the brakes at the sight of a wrecked Amish buggy. He scanned the area, but there was no sign of horse or driver. The animal must have been released and carted home. Or put down, if its injuries had been severe enough.

Returning his gaze to the highway, he slowed. A young buck lay on the road, still alive yet struggling.

Shane pulled his Jeep to the shoulder, put it in park, and clicked on the hazard lights. Leaving the keys in the ignition, he got out, his heart pounding in time with the obnoxious dinging sound of the car. Cautiously, he approached the deer. Its brown eyes fixed on him, wild with fear. The animal lurched to a standing position for a second but quickly collapsed again on the hard pavement, where it remained. Its labored breaths intensified. Whoever had hit it had driven off, leaving it to die. Was the same person to blame for the buggy accident? He’d probably never know.

“It’s okay,” Shane spoke softly.

The deer flicked its ears and struggled to its feet again.

“I’m here to help you.” Shane stepped closer, keeping a wary eye on the rack of antlers. It was hardly the biggest he’d seen, but even small antlers could do hefty damage.

With another flick of its ears, the buck struggled to a semi-standing position and limped off to the edge of the road and into the forest. It would surely die, but Shane couldn’t do anything about that. He wasn’t about to chase an injured wild animal through the woods. He didn’t carry much medical gear in his Jeep, anyway, aside from a few larger tools used for treating farm animals.

He started back toward his vehicle, but a glance at the buggy lying on its side gave him a strong urge to check it out. No point in hurrying. He rubbed his eyes, weary after a long day at the clinic, and surveyed the scene. The buggy appeared to be abandoned.

Then, he moved to the edge of the embankment and gazed down the leaf-covered slope. Something caught his eye. A woman? Shane squinted. Sure enough, there was an Amish woman, wearing a maroon dress and a black apron. Gold hair peeked out from underneath her white prayer kapp, and a black bonnet hung loosely around her shoulders. “Hello?”

No answer. His breath hitched. Had she hit the deer? Or had the deer hit her? He frowned. Accidents caused by deer affected more cars than buggies, by far. Where was the horse?

Heart pounding, he scrambled down through the brush into the ditch. As he crouched beside the woman, his nose caught the metallic odor of blood. The brilliant red on her dress wasn’t part of the fabric. He lifted the hem just enough to spot the injury. Her left leg lay at a weird angle, with a bone protruding from the skin. Definitely broken.

His heart sank. He couldn’t help her. His expertise was limited to animals.

But he was the only one there. And she needed help—urgently.

“Hey.” He touched her left hand. It felt warm. He noted the shallow rise and fall of her chest. His fingers moved down to her wrist, feeling for her pulse. Alive but unresponsive. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed 9-1-1. When the dispatcher answered, he said, “I’d like to report a buggy accident. We need an ambulance. The woman is unconscious and bleeding with a badly broken leg. Looks like a serious injury.” He added their approximate location.

Glancing again at the bone sticking out of her skin, Shane shuddered. Animals, he could handle. Humans were too easy to identify with; their injuries hit too close to home. He leaned down and gently pushed her hair away from her neck. Her pulse was extremely rapid and weak. He breathed a prayer that help would arrive quickly.

As he studied her face for the first time, recognition nearly knocked him off balance. This woman lived right next door to him. What were the odds of that? Her backyard was overrun with weeds, a stark contrast to her meticulously maintained garden in the side yard. He’d seen her working there many a time. She had the most beautiful dog he’d ever seen, a Siberian husky. And the thought had dawned on him, more than once, that the dog’s owner was more than usually beautiful, as well.

She wasn’t married, as far as he knew. The only other people he’d spotted next door were an older couple, presumably her parents. Their last name was Lapp, if the stenciling on their mailbox was current.

Shane would have to stop by the house to let her family know about the accident. They would probably be worried sick when she didn’t return.

The young woman moaned, drawing Shane’s attention. He saw her eyelids flutter slightly, and then her eyes opened.

“It’s okay,” he said, gazing as calmly as he could into her grayish-green eyes. “Help is coming.”

“The pain…my head…my leg….” She winced as tears filled her eyes. “Who are you? I’ve seen you before.”

“I’m Shane Zimmerman. Your next-door neighbor.” He reached for her hand, hesitated, then folded his fingers gently around hers. As their skin connected, he was startled by the jolt that shot through his fingertips and gained intensity as it traveled through his hand and up his arm. He had no explanation, other than his being overly tired. “You’ll be fine,” he assured her.

She only moaned again and closed her eyes.

Shane stared down at her bloodstained skirt and saw that the fabric was saturated. He grimaced. She needed help fast, or she’d bleed out. Animal or human, he didn’t want death on his hands tonight.

God, help me. Shane let go of her hand and yanked his sweatshirt up and over her head. He lifted her skirt again and pressed the garment against her wound, knowing he could be introducing harmful germs. But there wasn’t a choice. He tried to make her as comfortable as he could without letting up the pressure. Even though she didn’t rouse again, he explained every measure he took, from applying pressure to strapping his belt as a tourniquet around her leg. Then, he sang a couple of Amish songs, the ones he remembered learning from his grandparents. His father had left the Amish as young man, choosing to marry Shane’s mom, who wasn’t Amish. But Shane had often spent entire summers with his grandparents.

Time hung in the air as he waited for help to arrive.

Finally, there was a screech of brakes and a rumble of gravel on the road above, followed by the sound of a vehicle door opening.

“Down here!” Shane called.

Seconds later, an EMT carrying a medical bag peeked over the embankment. “Ambulance is right behind me. You didn’t move her, did you?”

“No. But she’s bleeding profusely. I did what I could to slow it down.”

The man half climbed, half slid, down the slope toward Shane. “I’ve got some emergency flares in the back of my truck. Mind setting them out while I take a look at her?”

“Not at all.”

Shane did as he’d been asked, then walked over to the buggy to inspect it more closely. The leather harness straps dangled with frayed ends, indicating that the horse had broken free, possibly when the buggy tipped. He checked the immediate area and even wandered a ways into the woods for signs of a wounded animal, but no clues turned up. The roar of sirens in the distance beckoned him back to the site of the wreck.

In his Jeep, he found a rag and wiped off his bloody hands while he thought out the statement he’d make to the police.

An ambulance screeched to a stop beside the pickup, lights flashing, and a police cruiser pulled up alongside. It wasn’t long before the ambulance wailed away again, spiriting its nameless passenger toward the hospital in Springfield.

After Shane had finished answering the police officer’s questions, he started the two-mile trip home, keeping his eyes peeled for an injured horse. He passed his own small plot of land without any sign of the animal.

He pulled into the driveway next door, hurried up to the house, and pounded on the front door. No response. After several moments, he knocked again. He knew that the Amish generally kept their doors unlocked, but he didn’t feel comfortable opening the door and hollering into the hallway of a stranger’s house. He rapped one more time, just to be sure.


Shane turned around and saw a man on the front porch of the house across the street.

The man started down the steps. “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Ms. Lapp’s family. She was in a buggy accident.”

The man came closer. “She hurt bad?”

Shane nodded. “Bad.” Would she survive the trip to the hospital? His heart clenched.

“Donald Jackson. Me an’ the wife live here.”

Shane stretched his mouth into a tight smile. “Shane Zimmerman. Neighbor on the other side.”

“Oh, the new guy. Vet, right? Welcome to Seymour.”

“Thanks.” It hardly seemed appropriate to exchange pleasantries when someone’s life was hanging in the balance. Shane shifted his weight. “Does she have any family?”

Donald shrugged. “Everyone has some. See her parents and other people around from time to time. Sometimes lots of buggies over there. Besides, ain’t the Amish all related? Heard that somewhere.”

“Seems that way sometimes.” Okay, this man was no help. A howl from the backyard reminded Shane about the Siberian husky. “I’m going to check on the dog.” He strode down the porch steps and made his way around the side of the house.

Donald trailed him. “Barn’s always unlocked, I’m pretty sure, so you could get the dog’s food. I never see her lock it, anyway. But then, I don’t watch her twenty-four-seven or anything.”

Shane raised an eyebrow. This Donald apparently watched her often enough to know about the barn door and the dog food. “Nice meeting you, Donald. I’ll just make sure the dog has fresh water, and then I’ll go.” He needed to find someone Amish to notify.

Seeing the red and white Siberian husky in a large kennel in the backyard, Shane opened the gate and went in, shutting it behind him. The dog whined and jumped up, wrapping him in a sort of canine embrace. Shane hugged her back. This breed was so affectionate. He rubbed her neck, then stepped back, picked up her metal water dish, and headed for the outside spigot, which he’d spotted on his way to the backyard. The dog followed closely at his feet, growling in a friendly way, as if she carried on a one-sided conversation. At the spigot, Shane filled the dish with cold water, then checked the barn door. It was unlocked, as Donald had said it’d be.

Shane stopped and scratched the dog behind her ears. “I’ll be back later to get you some food.” He hesitated. “No, I’ll do it now.” He turned back to the barn and slid both wobbly doors open, going into the darkness. He paused, wishing for his flashlight, then remembered that his Amish grandfather had always kept a lantern near the door. He turned back and groped along a shelf, finally feeling the familiar metal base of a lantern. Next to it was a book of matches, one of which he used to light the wick. It didn’t seem right, being in a stranger’s barn, but the dog would be hungry.

He found the dog food and bent down to scoop some into the dish. Then, he straightened and looked around. This was an Amish farm. There’d be other animals to bed down. Cows. Chickens. Horses. He sighed.

A nicker sounded, and Shane turned to the door. Ah, the prodigal buggy horse, dragging the frayed strands of a harness. Shane spoke softly to the animal as he grabbed hold of one of the harness straps, and then he led it back to an empty stall. The dog followed, whining all the way. Shane gave the sweaty horse a rubdown, checking it for injuries. Nothing seemed amiss, other than the wild look in its eyes and the way it kept tossing its head, probably responses to the trauma of the accident.

When Shane had calmed the horse as best he could, he glanced around again. He knew the basics of managing an Amish farm, thanks to the years he’d spent helping his grandparents, but it was more than one person could handle alone. Another Amish family would probably take on the rest of the chores.

Still, he wanted to go to the hospital to check on Ms. Lapp. Why did she still weigh so heavily on his mind? He’d done his duty to her, a stranger.

His decision made, he returned the dog to her kennel. Before closing the door, he gave her another rub behind the ears. “I’ll be back.”

The dog flopped down on the ground with a reproachful whimper, as if he were abandoning her in her time of greatest need.

“Your master was in an accident, but she’ll be okay,” Shane explained. “I hope.” He crouched down to the dog’s level. “I’m going to the hospital right now to check on her.”

With another whine, the dog lowered her head to rest on her front paws. Apparently, she had resigned herself to his departing.

Shane drove home for a quick shower, then got back in his Jeep to head to the hospital. First, though, he stopped by the farm on the other side of his property. The mailbox there also said “Lapp,” and he figured the residents had to be relatives of the injured woman.

Seconds after he pulled into the driveway, a man came out into the yard. Shane introduced himself and asked for confirmation that this family was related to the other Lapps, specifically the young woman with the Siberian husky.

The man frowned. “Jah, we’re family. I’m Kristi’s onkel. Timothy. I’m caring for their livestock while her parents are visiting family in Sarasota. I was getting ready to head over there.”

Shane proceeded to tell Timothy about the accident. For a relative of Kristi’s, he processed the information rather stoically, Shane thought.

“Can I give you a lift to the hospital?”

Timothy took a step back. “Nein, I’ll contact the bishop, and he’ll get the word out. And I’ll make a call down to Florida to tell her parents.”

Timothy headed back to the barn, and Shane drove away, wondering why was he was taking the time to go to the hospital and check on a woman he didn’t even know. He probably wouldn’t find out anything, thanks to the strict privacy policy. But still, something drew him.

At the hospital, Shane went directly to the emergency wing and approached the front desk. “Kristi Lapp, please.”

The receptionist nodded and checked something on her computer. Then, she looked up with a sympathetic smile. “If you’ll take a seat in the waiting room, a doctor will be out to talk with you in just a few minutes.”

She must be in more serious condition than he’d thought. Shane went down the hall to the waiting area, where he was relieved to find a coffeemaker. He poured himself a coffee and watched several minutes of the sitcom playing on the TV mounted on the wall overhead.

As the only person in the room, he had his choice of seats. He selected a chair in a corner and picked up a magazine from the end table next to it. However, the contents didn’t appear to be any more interesting than the drama he was caught up in, so he put it back. Instead of reading, he prayed for Kristi and for the doctors working on her. It felt strange praying for a woman he didn’t know and waiting for an update from the doctor, as if she meant something special to him. But it seemed she did, even though he’d just met her. Did their brief interaction even count as a meeting? He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he hadn’t felt this strong a connection with a woman since Becca. Immediately he dismissed the thought.

He was glad he’d found out her name. Calling her “Ms. Lapp” seemed so wrong. Plus, he probably wouldn’t have been permitted to see her if the hospital staff thought he was a stranger.

Several people came into the waiting room and exited again during a period of time that felt like hours.

At last, a doctor came into the room. “Family for Kristi Lapp.”

Shane blew out a breath. Family he wasn’t, but he was the only person there for her. Hopefully, the doctor wouldn’t ask how he was related. He got up, feeling a twinge of guilt at his act of impersonation.

The doctor led him into a private conference room and gestured for him to sit down. “She’s in recovery. We’ve given her a blood transfusion, and we’ll be monitoring her hemoglobin and hematocrit—that is, blood values. As soon as we’re sure they are in the normal range, she’ll be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for a procedure we abbreviate as ORIF: open reduction internal fixation.”

Shane nodded. He was familiar with the procedure, but the doctor was probably accustomed to having to explain it, so he continued.

“Open reduction—that’s how we put the bone back in the position it’s supposed to be. And internal fixation is how we stabilize it—with a rod down the center of the bone and plates on either side, to keep it in the position it’s supposed to be in until nature takes her course and it heals completely. The plates may be removed later, as long as the bone heals well. Also, her femoral artery was nicked, but she’ll be fine. Lost a lot of blood. We had to give her three units. She’s going to have substantial bruising and probably be in considerable pain.”

“Has she regained consciousness?”

“Not yet. But brain activity is normal, and we expect no complications.”

“Thank you.” Shane stood up and started for the door.

“If you want to wait, I’ll have a nurse come and show you to her room.”

Shane stopped in the doorway. “I’ll come in tomorrow.”

The doctor frowned. “I’m sure your wife will want to see you when she wakes up.”


Kristi woke up in an unfamiliar room filled with odd beeping noises. Straight ahead, a television was mounted on the celery-green wall. To her right was a beige-colored curtain; to her left, a big, dark window. The hospital. How did she get here? Someone must have found her. What about Samson? What had happened to him?

Had Susie birthed her boppli? Kristi groaned and shifted on the bed, noticing the bedside table with a plastic pitcher of water and an empty tumbler. And…flowers? She smiled at the vase holding six pink rosebuds, a cluster of baby’s breath, and some other greenery. Who would have sent a bouquet? Maybe the person who’d found her.

With great effort, she reached with her right arm toward the table, pain washing over her anew. It seemed every part of her body ached. Despite the discomfort, she extended her arm just far enough to snatch the white envelope from the plastic forklike thing tucked into the bouquet.

Her left hand had an IV needle stuck in it, taped down. She grimaced at the sight. She’d have a bruise there, probably, but that would be the least of her injuries. Even with her pain-blurred vision, which made it seem as if the room was spinning, she could tell from the shape of the blanket that covered her legs how swollen they were. Her left leg, in particular—that’s where most of the pain radiated from. Wincing with effort, she tore open the envelope and pulled out a plain white card. The message written inside was simple:

You’re in my prayers.

Shane Zimmerman

Sweet, but it must have been intended for another patient. She didn’t know anybody by the name of Shane Zimmerman. Or did she? Her head pounded as she tried to figure it out. No one came to mind.

Maybe this mystery man would come to the hospital to see her.

She pressed the card to her chest and closed her eyes, imagining a tall, handsome Amish man. Hopefully, when she fell asleep, he would visit her in her dreams.

My Thoughts

This was a fairly good Amish story, but not my favorite.  The questions about whether a relationship was possible seemed a little repetitive, and some elements of the story seemed not to flow very smoothly.  Not a bad read, though, for die-hard Amish fans.

Monday, August 13, 2012

She's Back -- Dee Henderson's Full Disclosure

She's back -- and what a return!  It's been 6 or 7 years, I think, since the last Dee Henderson book came out.  I had the opportunity to receive an advance reader copy of her newest book -- Full Disclosure -- which is set to release on October 2, and it was worth the wait!

Paul Falcon is an FBI Special Agent extraordinaire -- calm, cool, collected, serious about his job and good at it.  He is also very involved with his family and is in line to become the head of the Falcons' various business ventures.  Paul has decided that maybe it's time to get serious about marriage, not wanting to be the single guy attending social events at 50.

Ann Silver is a Midwest Homicide Investigator, a pilot, an author -- among other things.  She appears in Paul's office with evidence and information that breaks wide open a serial murder case he has been working on for years.  Paul finds himself interested in getting to know more about Ann on a personal level, but the more he learns about her, the more complex she becomes.  Paul's interest in Ann grows, but he fears he may hit a brick wall as she finds it hard to trust anyone enough to share her deepest secrets.  Romance, suspense, and faith abound as you follow Paul's and Ann's story.  And there are twists and turns that keep you guessing -- right up to the very end of the book!

Full Disclosure is a little different from the O'Malley Series (which, by the way make an interesting appearance in this story) and other Dee Henderson books.  The suspense is definitely there, but without the typical high-speed action.  I found the story spell-binding, though, and didn't want to put it down until all the questions were resolved.

If you're a fan of Dee Henderson, or if you are ready to meet her work for the first time, I would highly recommend Full Disclosure!

Check out the Countdown to Dee-Day on Facebook.

(This advance reader copy was provided free of charge from Bethany House for my honest review.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hide and Seek

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

B&H Books (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, Inc for sending me a review copy.***

Jeff Struecker was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. At age 18, he enlisted the US Army as an infantryman and retired as a Chaplain with over 22 years of active federal service. He currently serves as Associate Pastor of Ministry Development at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, GA. Throughout his career Jeff has attended numerous professional military schools and has received many awards and commendations. His combat experience includes participation in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait, Operation Gothic Serpent, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jeff holds a Master of Divinity Degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, a Bachelor of Science Degree and Associate of Science Degree from Troy University in Alabama. Jeff and his wife, Dawn, have five children: Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail and Lydia.
Visit the author's website.

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 23 novels and 7 nonfiction works, as well as principle writer of 7 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies. He lives in central California with his wife.
Visit the author's website.


Amelia Lennon no longer wears a uniform or carries a weapon. An Army trained Foreign Affairs Officer, she's negotiating a dispute with the Kyrgyzstan government that threatens to leave the U.S. without an airbase in that region. She traded her gun for the power of words, but now she needs both. While following her government contact-Jildiz Oskonbaeva, the lawyer daughter of Kyrgyzstan's president-Amelia witnesses an attempt to abduct her. She manages to prevent the kidnapping, but now the two women are on the run in a city that's erupting into chaos.

Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley is the Special Operations team leader tasked to rescue Amelia and Jildiz. With two new members in his unit-one with a secret that could endanger everyone's life-J.J. must soldier his unit through crazed mobs intent on overthrowing the government. Back home, his pregnant wife is misinformed that her husband and the team have been killed. But before this is over, Bartley will find out that's the least of his problems.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433671425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433671425

    43.050278°N 74.469444°E
    Transit Center at Manas (formerly Manas Air Base), outside
    Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
    June 6

    The mess hall was deserted. Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley sat alone at a long, well-worn table that had seen thousands of airmen, soldiers, and marines pause from their work long enough to pound down some grub before returning to their duties. On the table rested a chipped plastic coffee cup and two file folders. The expansive room seemed twice the size J.J. remembered the last time he passed through the air base. Of course the room was full of hungry service men then, many headed to Afghanistan. That was Manass primary role over the last decade: the jumping-off spot for troops headed to hostile country.
    As an Army ranger he did two tours of duty in Afghanistan before being hand-selected by Sergeant Major Eric Moyer to be part of a unique spec ops team. He made several other missions into the country as part of that squad, including one he was sure would be his last moment on earth. As it turned out, a pair of F-18s came to the rescue of the six-man unit as they fought off overwhelming numbers of Taliban fighters advanc- ing on their position. The jet jockeys saved their lives by drop- ping a pair of ICM bombs on their location. The (Improved Conventional Munition) bombs exploded fifteen feet above their heads leaving the ground littered with dead Taliban and a ringing in J.J.s ears that took a week to go away.
    That seemed a lifetime ago. Since then, as the sniper and explosives expert for his team, he traveled to a dozen different places on the planet, none of which he was allowed to name and carried out missions he was forbidden to speak about.
    Stare all you want, Boss, but that coffee ain’t going to do any tricks.
    J.J. didn’t have to look up to know Jose Doc Medina was approaching. He raised his gaze anyway and returned the med- ic’s smile. Jose was a solid man with a keen mind, quick humor, and a admirable steadiness. If the sky were to rip in half and a million aliens ships from another dimension appeared ready to take over the world, J.J. was sure Jose would look up and say, Well, look at that. A man doesn’t see that every day. J.J. liked the man for another reason. In addition to his being a superior soldier he also saved J.J.s life after a gun battle. He owed the man several pizza’s for that.
    Hey Doc, where you been?”
    They have a great rec. hall here. I was shooting pool with the Air Force guys. He pulled out a chair and sat.
    All in the name of inter-service fun, no doubt. J.J. lifted his cup. The coffee was cold.
    Of course. You know I believe we should respect all branches of the military, even the inferior, less skilled ones.
    How much?”

    You heard me.
    Jose shrugged. Maybe a couple of twenties.
    “Each. Jose pretended to look guilty. “How many airmen did you fleece?”
    Oh, who keeps track of such things? I was just killing time.
    J.J. narrowed his eyes. Okay, just four. My conscious was beginning to bother me.
    Lucky for them. He put the cup down. Seen Pete and
    Not since Crispin gave his little demonstration. He did a good job. I was impressed and I’ve seen his tech kung-fu in the field. All those itty-bitty surveillance drones were a hit. Left the local tech boys drooling.
    Yeah, I was there, but I haven’t seen them since.
    Do you need them. Ill go round em up.
    Nah. Just as long as theyre front-and-center when the new guys arrive.
    Ah, thats it.
    J.J. cocked his head. Whats it?”
    You look down, Boss, like you’ve lost your favorite girl friend.
    My favorite girlfriend. You know Im married. Tess won’t let me have girlfriends.
    Jose slumped in his chair. Wives are funny that way. My wife won’t let me date either. He paused to let the quip die before establishing a more somber tone. “I miss them too.
    “I didn’t say anything about missing anyone.” “I was listening to your face.
    Sometimes you confuse me, Doc.

    Jose chuckled. You know what they say about Hispanics: were inscrutable.
    “I thought that referred to Asians in old movies.
    Eh, Asians, Hispanics, whatever. Another pause. Youre thinking about Boss and Shaq.
    Theyre home safe and sound. Im not worried about them. Images of the team’s former leader and second-in-com- mand strobed in his mind. Last he saw them, they looked well and happy. He could hardly tell both were severely wounded and the latter lost an eye. Both retired shortly after the mission in eastern Siberia and took jobs with a civilian security firm.
    “I didn’t say you were worried about them. I think youre worried because theyre not here. You went from team mem- ber to Boss in short order. Theres gotta be some psychological whiplash in that.
    Psychological whiplash? They teach you that at Fort Sam Houston?”
    Nope. Medic training taught me many things but not much psychology. Life, on the other hand, has taught me a ton.
    Okay, Doc. Whats eating me?”
    Jose sat up and leaned forward on the table. Nothing bad, Boss. Youre just being human.
    “I don’t think Ill ever get used to being called Boss. Every time someone calls me that I think of Moyer.
    You’ll get the hang of it. Jose paused. “Can we talk like a couple of old buddies?”
    Thats what we are, Jose.
    Well, at least in here. Anyone else walks in this room and
    Ill go back to being formal.
    The corner of J.J.s mouth inched up. You have a formal side?”
    “Im nothing if not a model of Army decorum. He inched closer to the table as if he were about to whisper a secret. His volume remained the same. “Okay, heres how I see it. We are creatures of training. We enlist and start at the lowest rank. Time in service and experience lead to promotions. We have a good idea how thats going to progress. You’ve just been pushed up the ladder faster than expected. The view is different up there.
    So now you’ve be selected to take over for a man we admire and respect. Hes a one in a million. Hes got it all: brains, courage, loyalty, and a soldiers sixth sense. He left under tough circumstances. Nearly lost his daughter to kidnappers trying to sway him in his mission. Took a beating. Nearly died. To hear him tell it, he did die and came back. His cover was blown so his usefulness as field operative was gone and thats all he ever wanted to do.
    He is a great man. Taught me more about soldiering than basic, AIT, and Ranger training combined. A wave of sadness ran over J.J. “I can’t be Eric Moyer, Doc. In my mind, he will always be Boss.
    But hes not J.J. He was team leader. Now youre the man. No one is asking you to be Eric Moyer. The Army—the team—wants you to be you.
    Is that enough?”
    Jose straightened and stared into J.J.s eyes. It is in my book.
    Its not that Im afraid—”
    Youd better be afraid. I don’t trust a man who says hes not afraid. Such men are either liars or lunatics.
    J.J. raised an eyebrow. Really? And which am I?”
    Youre neither. I’ve seen you afraid and you’ve never been braver. You can do this, J.J. I got your six. You know that. Pete danced a jig when he heard of your promotion. At least I think it was a jig. The man has no rhythm.

    J.J. laughed. You got that right. First time I saw him bust a move I thought he was being electrocuted.
    Jose chuckled then the grin evaporated. Seriously J.J., Im proud to follow you into battle. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t doubt us. Besides, if you screw up, Moyer will kick your butt then turn on me for not straightening you out.
    Theres a terrifying thought. J.J. gazed into the black fluid in his cup. More than self doubt was eating at him but he endured all the pep talk he could. Jose seemed to sense it.
    You happy with the new guys?” The medic motioned to the personnel jackets.
    Yeah, as much as I can be. Its hard to judge a man’s char- acter from notes on evaluation forms. Both are experienced and decorated. Seen lots of action, mostly in the last half of Iraq and in the wind down of Afghanistan. Both Rangers. One comes in at the same rank as me: Master Sergeant. Hes got six months on me as well.
    Doesn’t matter, J.J., youre team leader. He’ll know that.
    He’ll also know that I was frocked. I have the extra stripe
    but not the official promotion and pay.
    Its just a matter of time, J.J. You know once theres some head room, you’ll get the full promotion and maybe more. Its all a numbers game. There are scores of soldiers work- ing at a higher rank than the Army is allowed to give them. Functionally, youre the man, and Ill fight with any man who disagrees.
    Youre a pal, but you may want to hold on to the boast for awhile.
    You’ll see.
    The door to the mess hall opened and a skinny airman stepped into the dim space, saw them, then walked to the table. Master Sergeant Bartley. I’ve been asked to tell you the transport plane you’ve been waiting for has touched down. Its pulling to the tarmac now.
    J.J. glanced at the rank insignia on the man’s upper sleeve: one strip and an Air Force star in a circle. Thank you, Airman. I would like to meet the plane. Can you get me there?”
    “I was told to have a vehicle waiting.
    J.J. stood, lifted the cold coffee to his lips and drank. He grimaced.Where did the Air Force learn to make coffee?”
    The young airman remained straight-faced: From the navy.
    Figures. He set the cup down. Gather the team, Doc.

    My Thoughts on Hide and Seek

    This book was a little out of the norm for me, but I'm glad I decided to read it.  The action and suspense, set in a very realistic, contemporary setting, made for a great story.  The political and military terminology could have been overwhelming because of its unfamiliarity, but the authors did an awesome job of making it easy to follow.

    And the story is so much more than a military thriller.  The characters' personal stories and faith issues kept me involved from beginning to end.  Amelia (showing strength and determination in the face of extreme danger) and J.J. (struggling to fit into his new role as leader of a special operations team) were strong characters and my favorites in the story.

    I highly recommend this book for a wide variety of readers -- plenty of action and a wide array of characters to satisfy many.