It’s the end of May, and you can tell summer is coming in Southern California. The days are warm, which means it is very nice reading weather. As a mom of three, summer usually means I have more time for reading, and my TBR pile is ready for me to go! What about you?
In this issue, we have several chances for you to win books for your TBR pile plus get updates and personal insights from authors only found here. You don’t want to miss it!
Here is wishing you a wonderful summer!
Until next time, readers.
There are many different divisions to the magazine. Visit all of them for interesting articles and giveaways.
**Stop by and read our #BecauseFiction May Historical Edition with featured authors such as Caryl McAdoo, Marguerite Martin Gray, and Liz Tolsma!
This month I am giving away a copy of Surround Me (Book Two of the Revolutionary Faith series) and Matchmaker’s Best Friend by Kari Trumbo. All you have to do is comment for your chance to win one of the two selections. I’ll pick the winners on May 31. Good luck!
Surround Me by Marguerite Martin Gray: Battles rage in Elizabeth Elliott’s heart as the threat of war invades her hometown. Charles Town, SC, 1773—The dark curtain of the rumors of revolution threatens to descend as Louis Lestarjette makes a permanent break from his homeland and pursues his relationship with Elizabeth.
This is book two of the Revolutionary Faith series following Hold Me Close.
Matchmaker’s Best Friend by Kari Trumbo: When they dated ten years ago as teens, it almost destroyed their friendship. So Pen Reese did the only logical thing. She lied about how she felt—and still feels—about him. She’s still paying for that lie.
This book is part of the Independence Islands series!
Is that island speak for “pompous, arrogant jerk?”
When Carly Mulligan volunteered to make house calls on Elnora, she never imagined treating the richest cat on the islands. What other feline has his own wing in a mansion like the Belshaw Estate?
After a wrong turn in the mansion, Carly stumbles across a secret room—one filled with incredible paintings. Perhaps there’s something more to the man than she first thought.
Most people envy Jean-Luc Belshaw’s position. The heir to a lucrative business and family fortune, he should have everything he could dream of.
But Luc dreams of days past. Days when he traveled the world with his wife and painted the breathings of his soul disappeared with Angeline’s passing. Faith and inspiration gone, he wonders if returning to France to take his place in his father’s business is the right thing to do.
Carly has a few relational demons of her own, and she’s reluctant to trust him, but Luc’s paintings draw her in even as his story touches a long-empty place in her heart.
Only God can transform two broken pasts into a work of art.
The Elnora Monet continues the Elnora Island romances of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters. The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore
I loved this novel for a few reasons: two cats, art, an island, French, Paris, and a billionaire! I enjoy animals as vital “characters” in novels. With veterinarians such as Carly and her sister, pets reign in the front and center of their daily routine, bringing people together. In their mysterious ways, dogs and cats weave a healthy touch to the human heart. Who would have thought a billionaire’s heart could be pricked by a cat’s plight.
The story takes hardened hearts traumatized by life’s circumstances and the softening power of God’s love through human love to create something new and unforeseen. As a French speaker and lover of all things French, I really enjoyed the aspect of a trip to Paris and a French accent combined with the French language. Those elements added gold stars to my reading joy. Bravo for this addition to the series.
About the Author
Rachel Skatvold is a Christian author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance and encouraging blogs. Rachel completed her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas in 2014 and is now working on the Hart Ranch Series, set in the Montana wilderness and the Ladies of Ardena Series, set in medieval times. She is also a contributing author in the Whispers in Wyoming and Brides of Pelican Rapids Series. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons. You can find more information about Rachel and her books on her website: http://www.rachelskatvold.com.
More from Rachel
Thank you for helping celebrate the release of The Elnora Monet by following this Celebration Tour hosted by Celebrate Lit. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about the characters and what inspired the story. Please follow the other stops on this tour and don’t forget to enter in the giveaway. Thank you!
It has been a wonderful experience working with the talented authors and editors in the Independence Islands Series. Each of these stories has a heartwarming message of faith and the characters always teach me something new. Ever since writing Kendall Mulligan’s story in Her Merriweather Hero, I’ve been excited to share her free-spirited younger sister’s story.
Carly had many struggles in the first book, questioning what purpose God had for her life. This time around, her feet are more grounded, but she still has some growing to do when it comes to faith. Carly has been a fun character to write about because of her witty extroverted personality and some of the humorous predicaments she ends up in…one of them including getting caught snooping around a billionaire’s mansion.
While not outspoken as Carly, I can relate to the character’s search for direction. Sometimes it is difficult learning to trust, especially during troubling times, but we can rely on God’s promises. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.” This verse means so much to me because I know even when I can’t understand something, He is behind the scenes guiding me in the right direction. For Carly, it leads in a direction she never expects, but it is worth it in the end.
Certain parts of the story were inspired by my mom. If you have read Her Merriweather Hero, you know the Mulligan sisters are originally from New England, close to where my mom grew up. I love hearing about her memories of spending time at Nantasket Beach, drinking orange pop, and putting chips in her sandwich so they wouldn’t blow away. Even though I grew up in the Midwest, I still put chips in my own sandwich because of watching her do the same thing and her fridge is always stocked with orange pop to this day. Little bits of my mom’s childhood are weaved into this story, making it close to my heart.
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about characters and story behind The Elnora Monet. Now continue reading for a summary of the book and giveaway. Blessings!
Confession: I am a cat lady—not the cat lady—but a lover of cats. I love their antics, aloofness, entitlement, purring, sparring, hissing, personalities, independence, oddities, and beauty. Ant that does not cover it all. Yet, I only have two cats—rescues from a wandering, pregnant stray.
Do you enjoy pets or animals in your reading material? I do, not just in passing but ones who are included in the drama of characters’ lives. Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits—exotic or ordinary. I tend to write them into existence in my novels.
Here is an example. In Hold Me Close—Book One in Revolutionary Faith—I introduce Cleo, a lively, comforting companion cat belonging to Elizabeth. She makes appearances throughout the five books. The real Cleo accompanied me on my writing journey, coaxing me to abandon my computer or writing pad when she needed attention, offering me glimpses into her realm, and coercing me to take time to enjoy the small things—a chocolate treat, a cup of tea, a reading break, a perch on the porch. Although she has passed on, her memory is forever captured in my books.
I now have a rescue puppy (14 months old, 62 pounds), Tully. I AM NOT a dog person, but I’m now a TULLY mom. I even have the shirt “Dog Mom.” I love him greatly. I had never written a dog into my novels until I had to include a few King Charles spaniels in my novel set in 1660 Hampton Court, England. Charles II’s dogs followed him from court to court. How could I not feature a pup or two? I will admit, the majority of animals I use are cats. Yet, as a dog mom, I now see the advantage of having a loyal, devoted, curious dog as a major character companion. I’ll see if I can give dog lovers a fictional dog to love.
I’m sending a huge “thank you” to authors who include animals in their novels. The creatures come in all forms. Which do you prefer—exotic or ordinary? Dog, cat, or weasel? Perhaps a mouse or a horse. Let me know as I prepare to write my next novel. I’m stumped about how to include a llama or a monkey!
A modern-day fairytale of rescue and hope from NYT bestselling author Rachel Hauck
Growing up in small town Hearts Bend, Tennessee, Gemma Stone had big dreams. So she headed to Hollywood to make her mark in the world.
But dreams have a way of becoming nightmares. When she returns home twelve years later, she’s limping through life and harboring a dark secret.
Running a rescue ranch and raising her friends’ orphaned daughter is her sole mission now. All the while she’s well aware these defenseless ones are also rescuing her.
HRH Crown Prince John has learned a royal title cannot shield him from heartbreak. He had the perfect life as heir to the revered House of Blue, the royal dynasty of Lauchtenland, and married the love of his life. Then tragedy changed everything. Is there any way to be saved from a life of grief?
When he finds himself in Hearts Bend on a mission for his mother, Queen Catherine, he catches up with a good friend–country music great Buck Mathews. He has no intention of joining the 4th of July fun until he’s cajoled into a three-legged race with the beautiful Gemma Stone.
The disastrous race leads to a quick friendship. They are easy and comfortable around one another because love is absolutely not an option.
John desperately wants to hold onto the memories of his wife while Gemma refuses to trust her heart to any man. Even a prince.
When trouble in Lauchtenland calls the prince home, he realizes how much Gemma has rescued him. Saved him and restored his hope for his role as future king.
For Gemma, falling in love with the prince must be quenched. If it weren’t for her past, she’d give him her heart in a second. How could she risk bringing her shame to the House of Blue and the world stage?
However, she’s not the only one who can rescue and heal the wound. If she saved Prince John, why can’t he save her? And when he tries, will she have the courage to say yes to the best role of her life?
“Another compelling royal story by the master of princely tales!” Susan May Warren, USA Today bestselling, RITA award-winning novelist
This is one I couldn’t put down. What a creative series with real, hurting, far from perfect characters. God can, and does, use flawed humans to fulfill His purpose—even princes, queens, and commoners.
As a southerner (Louisiana) I gravitate to the author’s heroine and the way of life in Hearts Bend. I imagine what it would entail to have a royal visit in my hometown. Hauck presents the scenario as if it is something that could happen to anyone.
Letting go of the past, whether the death of a loved one, an abusive relationship, abandonment, divorce, or something else, gives way to possible healing and a renewed commitment to living the best life possible with a true positive level of contentment.
The author has created a wonderful world of loveable, real, human, imperfect characters. I’m hoping she’ll give us another installment of their journeys soon.
About the Author
Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. Three more of her titles are under film contract.
Rachel was awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.
A retired member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Executive Board, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.
In the real world, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.
More from Rachel
One of the biggest challenges in a series is keeping the reader interested. Even more of a challenge is writing in a trope like royals.
I never set out to write a second royal series. With five stories in the Royal Wedding Series, I thought I’d explored the topic to my satisfactions.
Yet when readers asked for more, and when I found myself in a season to produce my own stories, another royal series seemed like the perfect fit.
But can I be honest? Really honest? Come close. I’ll tell you a secret. Closer…
Royals can be a bit boring. At least to write. You laugh but I’m serious.
What do we really know of their day to day lives? They attend national functions, patron charities, represent the nation on walkabouts around the world. They are ambassadors with no real political agenda. They champion causes.
But what exactly do they do with their days? What are the inner workings of palace life? What are the real expectations? Do they call the queen “her majesty” when talking among themselves? When talking to her? Are they as formal as it seems on television?
Yet royals are the most documented people in history. So there is a lot to glean from when I make up my worlds.
But at the end of it all, they key for me in writing royal characters is to make them real, everyday people. The prince is the kind of chap you want to chat with over tea. The heroine is the sort of girl you’d love to see become a princess. Maybe even see a bit of yourself in her.
In To Save A King, Crown Prince John is trying to emerge for a year of grief. Gemma Stone is desperate to escape her past.
Gemma’s story has some what of an edge to it. In her attempt to achieve her goals, she walked a path she never thought she’d walk when she was a girl growing up in Hearts Bend, Tennessee. And it proved her undoing.
While we may have never faced a past like Gemma’s, we can all relate to personal betrayal of our values from gossip to immorality. I hope Gemma’s story reminds us the nearness of love and forgiveness.
On a lighter side, I recently learned British society has moved away from chap and bloke, replacing it with the American term “guy.” Isn’t that funny. Louise Lee, my narrator, said it was funny to read those words in To Love A Prince since there were more her parents’ generation. Ah, the signs of a more global society.
Well, I didn’t care if they have gone out of style for young people. I used them anyway. I like them. Maybe we should adopt “chap” and “bloke” over here. What do you say, guys?
I hope you enjoy To Save A King, book two in the True Blue Royal series and find your heart cheering on broken, wounded characters to a happily ever after worthy of a prince and princess.
Do you ever reread books? Perhaps some favorites from your childhood or classics from recent years. I picked up one of my novels and started rereading it. Hold Me Close is Book One in the Revolutionary Faith series. It seems like I would have the book memorized but that is not the case. I’m reading it with new eyes and thoughts. So strange! As I read, I’m wondering what will happen. Really? Don’t I know what will transpire? But that doesn’t seem to matter. I’m reading it as if for the first time.
That made me think about other books I reread. In my library, I pulled out a few, knowing that I have read them a few times, some very recently. They never get old to me. Heidi by Johanna Spyri is one from my childhood that I read again after a trip to Switzerland. It was fresh and new—unlike my 1965 copy. I bought a new copy on my travels. Another one that stands ready to be read again and again is Little Women. My 1970 copy boasts a cover for the shelves of a little girl. Oh, to enter the lives of the four sisters and hope that there is a different ending for Beth!
I have all of my 1974 copies of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I do read them every few years, recently in French and Spanish. Madeleine L’Engle caught my attention later in life. When teaching reading for seven years, I had students read A Wrinkle in Time out loud. I’ve read all of the books in the series.
As a teenager and young adult, I was fascinated with King Arthur and his court. I devoured Mary Stewart’s books on Arthur and Merlin. The Last Enchantment, The Crystal Cave, and The Hollow Hills are definitely on my reread list.
Last but by far not the least is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and all of the others too. Every year I pick up one of her books and reread it. Also, I watch all the films every summer. What a productive way to spend my time.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies out there who have influenced anyone’s life whether as a mother, aunt, friend, teacher, or any important role. May God richly bless you for your service and sacrifice as you continue to care for others. I appreciate you. Enjoy the celebration and remember that you deserve praise every day of the year.
I have gathered some beautiful bouquets from close to my home. Choose one and enjoy your day.