Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome Back to Lillian Duncan

Tell us about REDEMPTION.
It’s the third and final book in my Sisters by Choice series. Well, probably last. I do have an idea for a fourth book rattling around in my brain, but it’s only an idea at the moment. Who knows if it will actually grow into a book?
Redemption brings the series full circle and gives closure for those who’ve read all three books. Jamie is the missing twin in the first book-DECEPTION. And in REDEMPTION, we come to learn more about Jamie and her spiritual struggles. But the main story is about a missing child who Jamie is determined to find—no matter the danger to herself.

What’s the setting for REDEMPTION?
This story is all over the place. It starts in Florida, then Jamie goes to Ohio and on to Wyoming and New Mexico—and not all of her own doing!

How did you come up with the title for REDEMPTION?
The story begins with Patti not understanding why her twin, Jamie, continues to place herself in serious jeopardy time and time again. Jamie doesn’t understand either. Only that she needs to help others if and when she can no matter the danger to herself.
As the writer I know why, and I’ll share the secret with you. Jamie is ashamed of things she’s done in her past. As a result she feels God can’t love her the way she is. So she seeks redemption by putting herself in dangerous situations to help other people.
But then I checked out the definition of redemption. Dictionary.com defines redemption as an act of atoning for a fault or a mistake; deliverance or rescue; deliverance from sin; salvation; atonement for guilt.
Wow! As I look at those definitions, I realize REDEMPTION is full of all sorts of redemption for many of the characters in the story—not just Jamie’s. No wonder that’s the title I chose.

Why did you write REDEMPTION?
We only catch a brief glimpse of Jamie in DECEPTION and BETRAYED. REDEMPTION is Jamie’s story.

What do you want readers to take away from REDEMPTION?
God loves us no matter what we’ve done in the past or what we do in the present or will do in the future. His love is the one constant we can always count on!

Does REDEMPTION have a theme?
God loves us just the way we are and He is always there waiting for us to come to him.

What’s the SISTERS BY CHOICE series about?
This series definitely has romance in it, but I also wanted to explore the strong bonds that form between women—through blood or through the choices we make. Each story focuses on a relationship between two women that becomes as important to the story as the romantic plot.

Why did you become a writer?
I always had stories in my head waiting to be told. Unfortunately for many years those stories were only being enjoyed by me. One day a light bulb went off—hey, maybe I should be writing these stories down for other people!
That was the day a writer was born, but it took many long years until I could say, “I’m a writer!” Now, I love saying that.

What is your writing process?
I am not an outliner. I wish I were—it seems easier to me. But my mind doesn’t work that way. I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.
When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.
Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?
Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be. As the story comes to a conclusion, I am surprised right along with my readers. REDEMPTION was no exception. I thought I knew who the bad guy was but as usual there were a few surprises!

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?
I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s all right. I understand that. I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.
As mysteries and suspense, there is, of course, some violence in the stories. However; I don’t promote or glorify violence. I make sure to show characters experiencing the natural consequences of bad choices and bad actions.

Then what makes your stories Christian Fiction?

My stories always have an element of faith in them. How that plays out depends on the individual plots of each specific story. My main characters are always on a spiritual journey, though some may be further along than others.
My stories shows characters in crisis. I use the crisis to illustrate how real Christians react to real problems in their life. We all react in different ways when bad things happen and the same is true in my stories. I show characters having doubt but also resolving that doubt and becoming stronger in their faith as a result of the crisis.
One more word about Christian Fiction, it has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Other than erotica, readers can find their favorite genre as Christian Fiction as well as mainstream fiction. There are Christian Fiction books out there for every book lover—historical; romance; regency; science fiction; even horror novels.

If REDEMPTION becomes a movie who would you like to see play your main characters?
I’d love to have the Oslin twins play Jamie and Patti. As for Enrique—a dark, handsome actor with a bit of a Hispanic accent. Mmm, who could that be?

What are you working on now?
In July, I had a new mystery novella series released--DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS. It features a crime-fighting speech pathologist. Having been a speech pathologist for almost 35 years, this story was so much fun for me to write.
The second in the series—NOWHERE TO BELONG—will be released sometime next year and I still have some work to do on the third in the series. Along with that I have a few other projects I’m working on. Busy, busy, busy!

My website is www.lillianduncan.net. My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com. I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan I also contribute to Putting On The New at www.puttingonthenew.com.

To celebrate the release of REDEMPTION, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. But wait…there’s more! I always feel bad for the people who enter the contest but don’t win. So I’m also going to pick FIVE more lucky names to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Just the right amount to buy REDEMPTION! Just kidding, the winners can use it to buy whatever they wish.
So hop on over to TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com  to enter. Leave a comment on the post REDEMPTION and you’ll be entered to win. Easy Peasy!!

Lillian Duncan is giving away a copy of Redemption. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Redemption by Lillian Duncan

Others may think Jamie Jakowski is a hero, but she knows differently.

Haunted by her past, she seeks redemption by helping others in spite of the danger to herself. However, after almost orphaning her daughter, Jamie opts to retire. When a friend needs her, Jamie agrees to one last undercover operation.

She is determined to reunite a heartbroken mother with her kidnapped son. Used to working alone, Jamie’s not happy when she’s assigned a partner. And after a failed operation and their failed romance, Enrique Rodriguez is the last person she wants to work with—ever.

To succeed, Jamie must confront her past as well as the people who want her dead.


Chapter 1

“You’re retired from the spy business. Remember?” Patti stood with hands on her hips,
demanding an answer.
“I was never a spy and…” Jamie paused. Nothing she said would satisfy Patti. “I don’t want to discuss it.”
“Not a spy? Really, you want me to believe that? Do you want to get yourself killed?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course not.”
Jamie’s twin sister worried too much. True, in the past she may have had good reason, but not any longer. Jamie was done with danger. She’d barely survived her last assignment, and that was only by the grace of God. The last thing she wanted was to orphan her daughter. She understood Patti’s worry.
The two of them were identical—at least physically. Wavy brown hair. Five feet five inches. Both slim, but Jamie was more muscular than Patti, thanks to her vigorous training schedule. Their temperaments, on the other hand, were polar opposites. She was the risk-taker, and Patti was the rule-follower.
“Well, whatever you were, you said you were retired. Remember that?”
“I do remember, dear, sweet sister of mine. But I didn’t retire from life.” Jamie faced Patti. Through the window she could see her sister’s guests enjoying the Florida sunshine.
Little did they know the entertainment was inside.
She and Patti were supposedly getting the food ready, but Patti didn’t appear to be interested in that task. Her twin’s goal seemed to be to have an argument with her.
Jamie didn’t want to leave after an argument with Patti. The last time that happened, they hadn’t seen each other for years—many painful years. She wouldn’t do that again.
Patti’s forehead wrinkled as she glared. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means I can’t sit back and do nothing if I think I can help someone. And Zink needs my help.”
“I know that, but...” Patti rolled her eyes. “That is not the point.”
Jamie picked up a knife, and stabbed through the clear cellophane of raw burgers. “I think it is the point, Sis.”
“I don’t understand this need for putting yourself in danger.” Patti’s lip trembled. “Why isn’t being Sabrina’s mother enough for you? Why do you insist on doing this?”
Those were good questions—fair questions. But how was she supposed to tell her sister about the regretful things done in the name of patriotism? Her motives may have been right, but shame burned inside for her choices—no, not choices. “Mistakes” was a much better word. Even after renewing her commitment to God, Jamie had done things she was ashamed of.
If she could just help people, then maybe she could find some peace for her own soul. “This has nothing to do with Sabrina. Besides, I have no plans to put myself at risk.”
“Yeah, just like last time?”
“That’s not true. I knew that was dangerous. I did it because I had no choice.” Jamie looked over at her sister. “Patti, let’s not fight. You and I both know I’m getting on that plane tomorrow and flying to Ohio. And just for the record, I don’t believe I’m putting myself in jeopardy.”
“I know you don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a dangerous situation. The woman’s ex-husband is a wanted criminal who kidnapped her son and disappeared almost two years ago. You have no idea what that man is capable of.”
Jamie arched a brow at her sister. “Really, Patti? You don’t think I know?”
“OK, maybe you do know. I’m not saying you’re naïve about that. All the more reason to let the professionals handle it. I don’t want you anywhere near that man.”
“Sooooo…you believe I can find him, too?”
Patti’s face registered surprise, and then her expression went to the stern look she used when she wanted to win an argument. “I didn’t say that. Do not twist my words.”
“But you must believe it or you wouldn’t be worried about what kind of a man he is. If I can’t find him, it wouldn’t matter. Soooo…that means you think I can find him. How could I not go help Zink find her son? What kind of a person would that make me?”

About The Author

Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!

Lillian is a multi-published writer with several Amazon bestsellers, including The Christmas Stalking and Betrayed. Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch or two of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us
Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. Tiaras & Tennis Shoes is her personal blog at www.lillian-duncan.com.

Purchase Redemption at

Lillian Duncan is giving away a copy of Redemption. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Virginia Tenery

So nice to have Virginia Tenery visiting today! Read on to find out about her writing journey!
What started you on your writing journey?
VB: I’ve always been an avid reader of suspense novels and I found what was available in the ABA market too violent for my tastes. I decided that writing looked easy, and I would write the kind of books I liked to read. Wrong. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. It took me twelve years to learn the craft and I’m still learning.

When did you begin writing?
VB: I started writing seriously twelve years ago. Published a few short stories in anthologies, but it took all those years to learn the craft and get my first novel published.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
VB: When I published my first short story in a speculative fiction anthology, LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF DARKNESS.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
VB: Not to my knowledge. I’ve been told I have a unique voice, but I’m not sure how that relates to style. LOL

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
VB: Forgiveness is a frequent message in my novels, not only of others but forgiveness of one’s self.

How much of the book is realistic?
VB:  Some elements in my plots are taken from news stories. Things that bother me, such as spouse and child abuse, tend to find their way into my stories. Also, the latest forensic crime fighting tools are real. I save any forensic articles I see for possible use in future stories.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
VB: No, I don’t think that’s fair to friends and family unless you’re writing a memoir.

What books have influenced your life most?
VB:   The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is the best novel of faith I’ve ever read. I also loved To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is, in my opinion, the best fiction book ever written.

If you could choose, which writer would you want as a mentor?
VB: James Scott Bell for Christian fiction, Michael Connelly for secular fiction.

What book are you reading now?
VB:  I’m a speed reader and I’m usually reading three books at the same time. The one on my nightstand right now is Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster. I’m also reading a novel on my Kindle by Melissa F. Miller, Improper Influence in her Sasha McCandless series. Both are new authors for me and I’m enjoying them.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
VB: The two above are my latest “finds.” I also enjoyed Nike Chillime’s latest, Harmful Intent.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
VB:  Yes, I think most writers never consider a novel finished.  I know I don’t. The beautiful part of Indie publishing is that you can make changes in the eBook format easily and inexpensively.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
VB: Marketing is the biggest challenge in writing today. Publishers expect the writer to do their own marketing and it can be not only costly, but time consuming. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
VB:  I have two. Michael Connelly for ABA books. His Harry Bosch character is a flawlessly flawed police detective you can’t help but cheer for, even when he’s wrong.
Sibella Giorello is a master at seamlessly weaving spiritual elements into her novels. But she does need to write faster, only six books out so far. LOL

Who designed the covers? 
VB: For my Indies, I hired two different designers, but I told them what I wanted and supplied the photos. Nicola Martinez designed the covers for my PBG books. She does a great job.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
VB: The writers lament, show don’t tell. It’s so easy to fall into telling, but I usually catch my errors in the second edit.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
VB: Writers must be committed if they want to be successful. Writing is hard work and one can never say the job is finished. The novel, yes, but not the job. When one book is completed, the next one must be started. A writer can never stop learning. Writing is an isolated profession. Much time is spent alone with just a computer for companionship. But, of course, writers always have their characters to keep them company. LOL

So true! Do you have any advice for other writers? 
VB: Study, read, join two or more critique groups to get honest feedback on how you’re doing. Develop a thick skin because you will get advice you won’t always like. Be true to your story. When you get advice that doesn’t feel right, don’t use it. Critique partners are not always right. And last of all, have fun! Yes, its hard work. But the rewards are in knowing that you put your best efforts into the product and it shows.  

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
VB: I write to entertain and I hope my novels always leave the reader delighted with the time spent with one of my books. And I always welcome their feedback.

:) Do you remember the first book you read?
VB:  Probably one of the Nancy Drew mysteries although I don’t remember the title.

Lol. That's a good one. I remember one where kids were visiting relatives & during a storm a tree was ripped apart. Of course, that led to the mystery solution! Do you have any hobbies?
VB:  I love to walk, hike, and tubing down the rivers in Texas’s beautiful Hill County.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching? 
VB: I rarely watch TV except for the news. I did love the Jesse Stone TV Movies with Tom Sellect. Usually, I watch Turner Classics when I’m in the mood for a good movie, such as Murphy’s Romance and anything with Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn.  Few movies draw me into theaters these days. But I totally loved the movie Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. I also enjoyed The Hunger Games and Silver Lining Playbook..

Favorite foods / Colors/ Music?
VB:  Favorite foods: Cajun Cuisine. Favorite color to wear, blue, but not for my home. My music tastes are eclectic. I enjoy all kinds of music and artists except Hard Rock, Rap, and Hip-Hop.  

I enjoy Cajun too. If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done? 
VB: Become a missionary to Africa.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
VB:  My fourth novel to release this year is THE WATCHMAN on October 3rd.  The novel is a departure from my other works. It’s speculative fiction in a contemporary setting. Noah Adams is not your usual super hero. He’s a common man with uncommon gifts, fighting to protect the innocent and avenge the abused.

I’ve also  started book 3 in the Matt Foley/Sara Bradford series titled, DOWNFALL and have an outline for a WWII suspense set in London. I’ve always been fascinated by the heroism and courage of people in that time period.

Love the WWII era! Thank you so much for visiting!

To buy her book:

About Virginia:
Author V. B. Tenery lives with her family in East Texas. Her passion is writing books with shining characters and settings with plots so exciting readers come away feeling delighted with the experience. Not content to stay in one genre, her novels range from contemporary suspense and supernatural suspense, to an upcoming historical suspense set in WWII England. When not writing she enjoys reading, hiking, and tubing down rivers in the Hill Country.

 God’s child trying to make Him proud.

Connect with Virginia here:
Website: www.vbtenery.com
Blog: www.agatharemembered.blogspot.com
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/teneryherrin
FB Author Page:  www.facebook.com/vbtenery

VIRGINIA is giving away a copy of THEN THERE WERE NONE. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Then There Were None by Virginia Tenery

Back Cover Blurb
Mass murder doesn’t happen in Matt Foley’s town . . . it doesn’t happen to his friends. Someone is going to pay.

Disturbing crime scenes are nothing new to the Twin Falls Police Chief. But this one is different. The victims are friends. In their Tudor mansion just inside the city limits, a family is dead—husband, wife, two kids, and the family cook.

The killer made one mistake. He left a survivor.

The husband is one of the big three in the microchip industry. The family lived a quiet modest life. It doesn’t make sense.

Until . . . 

Read an Excerpt:
Grayson Manor

 Light filtered through the cottage windows as Sean McKinnon drained the last sip of the strong brew from his teacup. He took the empty mug to the sink, rinsed it out, and placed it in the dishwasher. He pulled on a jacket, picked up his cap and umbrella from the rack by the door, then strolled up the hill to the big house.

Morning clouds hung heavy in the gray sky and raindrops splattered the stone walkway in front of him. Sean sucked in a deep breath of cold moist air and smiled, glad to have the family home from their stay in England. The big estate was lonely when they were gone. He increased his pace as the rain pelted faster. He hummed in spite of the weather, looking forward to breakfast in the kitchen with Amanda Castleton. Aye, he’d missed the woman’s cooking.

He crossed the large expanse of manicured lawn and bright flowers. It was a bonnie garden. He’d come over with the Graysons more than thirty years ago. Those had been dark times for the family.

The task Mr. Grayson had set for him—planting a proper English garden in this arid Texas land, had proved a mighty one. He’d faced many failures before the land yielded its secrets. He breathed in the sweet fragrance of the delicate tea roses he’d planted in the spring, pleased that the garden rivaled any to be found in his native country. He slowed and bent down to examine a recently replaced rosebush. Satisfied, he move closer to the manor’s back door. As he drew nearer, the sound of smoke alarms pierced the silent morning.

To buy her book:

About Virginia:
Author V. B. Tenery lives with her family in East Texas. Her passion is writing books with shining characters and settings with plots so exciting readers come away feeling delighted with the experience. Not content to stay in one genre, her novels range from contemporary suspense and supernatural suspense, to an upcoming historical suspense set in WWII England. When not writing she enjoys reading, hiking, and tubing down rivers in the Hill Country.

 God’s child trying to make Him proud.

Connect with Virginia here:
Website: www.vbtenery.com
Blog: www.agatharemembered.blogspot.com
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/teneryherrin
FB Author Page:  www.facebook.com/vbtenery

VIRGINIA is giving away a copy of THEN THERE WERE NONE. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Lady and The Mountain Man by Misty M. Beller

Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding. She needs a safe place to hide, and finds herself accepting a newspaper marriage proposal from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.

When Gideon Bryant finds a city girl standing in his log cabin, his first thought is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.

But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One

Richmond, Virginia
March, 1874

“Are you going to poison her the way you killed your last wife?”
Leah Townsend froze in the hallway, her right foot suspended midair as her breathing stopped..  She lowered her toes to the floor, and then sidled closer to the closed study door—still not daring to breathe. The thick Persian rug muffled her footsteps. As she leaned forward, the strong scent of oil wafted from the mahogany wood door.
A throaty chuckle drifted out of the room. “I haven’t decided yet. When I get tired of the nagging, I’ll find a way to dispense with her. Assuming she’s received her inheritance and her father’s estates are legally mine.”
Leah’s blood ran so cold it froze in her veins. Dispense with her? Her brain repeated the words once, twice, and then took off like the hooves of a racehorse. Her blood began to move again, rushing through her so quickly it roared in her ears.
She’d recognize that voice anywhere. It held the suave tone of a man very sure of himself. The tone of the man she’d had nightmares about every night for weeks. The tone of the man her father had legally contracted her to marry in six days. Simon Talbert.
“You think she’ll still go through with it? Now that her old man’s dead?”
Leah strained to place the other voice. Her betrothed had left the dinner party to take care of a business matter, but she hadn’t noticed with whom.
“She has no choice.” Simon’s voice again. “Unless she appeals to the courts to break the contract. But she won’t do that. It was her father’s dying wish. And after all, why wouldn’t she want to marry a fine catch like me?”
A tingle ran down Leah’s spine.  Was he a murderer? Papa had been so excited about this marriage, surely he wouldn’t sign her life away to a man who would kill her. Oh, why had she ever agreed to this crazy arranged marriage?
What had she heard about Simon’s first wife? Only that the woman had been sickly and died at twenty-three.
A wave of fear started in Leah’s stomach and welled up her chest until it almost smothered her. What had Papa said about Simon? She could hear his deep, comforting voice even now. He has a fine reputation in the business community and will be able to care for you very comfortably.
Money. This whole business of arranged marriages and betrothal contracts was about the money. And status. And what each person could gain. Except for the bride. The bride was the only person who lost in this game. M Maybe not every arranged marriage was unpleasant for the woman, but this situation looked to be very dangerous for her.
 She focused her attention again on the sounds drifting through the door. The men must have moved toward the windows, because their voices had lowered to an indistinct murmur.
Disappointed, Leah pulled away. She needed to get back to the drawing room anyway. Someone might question her absence, maybe even send a servant to help her.
Leah started down the hallway, but the door jerked open before she could take more than a step. She whirled, then froze, staring into the face of her betrothed, a man seventeen years her senior.
“Simon,” she gasped. Did he realize she’d overhead? “I was just returning from the powder room. If you’re finished with your business, perhaps you can escort me back to the drawing room.” Leah extended an elegant hand, brows raised in the coy expression she’d learned from too many society parties. She didn’t dare draw a breath.
Simon studied her, his tall form debonair in a dark tail coat and manicured black hair. At a glance, it was easy to see why the ladies flocked after him, and even more so when they learned of his extensive wealth.
But something about his posture now raised goose bumps on Leah’s arms.
“My dear.” His voice was too rich. Too smooth. Leah inched backward, but Simon stepped toward her. “Did you, uh… stand here waiting for me long?” As he neared, a whiff of spirits permeated the air, and red framed his dark eyes.
“No. No, I was just passing by.” Breathe. She had to appear nonchalant.
Simon’s eyes narrowed. Could he see through her façade? “My partner and I were just reminiscing. But many of our business dealings are highly confidential.” Another man moved into the open doorway behind Simon. This man was shorter and leaner, but carried himself the same way Simon did.
His scrutiny smothered her.
“If you overheard our conversation, it wouldn’t bode well for you.” Simon’s gaze bore a hole through her. “Of course, the last thing I would want is for anything to hurt you, my dear. Or hurt your close friends.” Steel laced his every word. “Close friends like your Miss Emily.”
Emily, her companion. Her dearest confidante.
Leah braved a glance at his face. His eyes had shrunken to black slits. Danger radiated from every pore.
He took another step forward, his hand tightening like a vice over her fingers. His words clamped down her chest. Her lungs wouldn’t fill.
“The good news is…” He breathed hard air in her face. Leah forced herself not to react as the alcohol assaulted her eyes. “…I have many influential friends. Friends in the police force. In the courts. Friends who will believe my word without question.”
He placed Leah’s hand on his arm, then tightened his grip over her fingers, holding her securely in place. “It’s fortunate for you, dear Leah, we’ll be wed this week. I wouldn’t want your life to end in a…painful and unfortunate manner.”
A chill forced its way through Leah’s body.
Simon turned toward the main corridor and began walking, his hand ensuring Leah stayed with him each step of the way. The other man receded into the room and closed the door.
Leah’s heart beat so wildly her stomach ached. What should she do? She was walking on the arm of a murderer. How could she get away? Had he really meant he’d kill her if she said anything about what she’d overheard?
They were about to rejoin the party now. She had to compose herself until she could determine what to do. She couldn’t allow Simon to see anything he said concerned her.
Deep breath. Shoulders squared. Chin up. Pleasant expression. Now float forward, full of poise and grace. The actions were ingrained, habit from many years of drilling and constant reminders, mostly from Emily.
“Ah, Mr. Talbert. Miss Townsend. We were just discussing the wedding gowns for the season.” Mrs. Troutman cooed. “Miss Townsend, I’m sure you’ve become quite an expert on the topic with your wedding close at hand. Perhaps your fiancé can spare you so we can hear the details.” She patted the settee next to her while gazing expectantly at Leah.
A conversation about wedding gowns, her own in particular, was the last thing she could handle right now. But it would get her away from this man. Although, maybe she should be discussing the gown she’d like to be buried in instead.
Leah slid her hand from under Simon’s grasp and glided to Mrs. Troutman. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Simon offer a stiff bow, then stride toward a group of gentlemen. Leah had an urge to hug the snobby woman beside her.
She endured a few minutes of the woman’s gushing about the fashion plate in the front of this season’s Godey’s Lady’s Book, but Leah’s mind fidgeted. She had to get away from this house or she just might lose her poise. And Emily had always taught her a woman never, under any circumstance, loses her poise.
Leah smiled at Mrs. Troutman and tried her best to sound genuine. “I’m so sorry, ladies, but I’m afraid I must retire early this evening. I’m not feeling well. I will look forward to joining the discussion at another time.”
“Oh, dear.” Mrs. Troutman spoke in a cultured tone that reeked of condescension. “And you’re practically the hostess of our little party, since you’re betrothed to the host. Whatever will we do without you?”
She sounded as if she knew exactly what she would do with the loss of Leah’s company. Most likely take the opportunity to thrust her own spoiled daughter under the notice of Simon Talbert, as she’d done so many times before. And she could have him. If Mrs. Troutman only knew what the man was really like, she would run far away from this tainted mansion.
But then remorse pricked Leah’s chest. No woman deserved what Simon had in mind.
Leah gave the ladies another manufactured smile. “I’m sure my absence won’t stunt the evening’s enjoyment in the least. In fact…” she leaned forward conspiratorially “…I’ll rely on you to make certain of that.”
Mrs. Troutman preened like one of the peacocks Leah had seen in the park off Central Avenue. “Of course, dear. Now do go and take care of yourself.”
Leah glided across the room toward Emily, her companion, former governess and—since Leah’s mother had died six years ago—her dearest friend and mentor. Emily, elegant in her long, slender cuirass bodice, stood with the Lindsey cousins. Next to her, the younger ladies looked silly in their too-bright and childish Dolly Vardens.
“But, Emily, he has the croup. Do you really think that will help?” asked Olivia Lindsey.
Emily nodded, then looked up, her eyes studying Leah. “Aren’t you feeling well, love?”
How did Emily do it? Leah had been sure she’d had her high-society mask in place. “I have a bit of a headache, and wondered if you would mind leaving a little early?”
Emily’s eyes crinkled at the edges into a soft smile. “Of course not. I’ll go call the carriage now.”
“Please don’t.”  Leah said the words a bit too quickly, but she had to get away before Simon saw her leave. “I’ll do it and meet you in the foyer.”
Twin lines of concern formed between Emily’s brows. “All right, then.” Emily turned to her two companions as Leah made her escape. “Olivia, I’ll be praying your little Henry heals quickly...”
Emily was so kind. One day if Leah ever finally grew up—which didn’t seem to have happened yet at twenty-two -—she wanted to be as good and kind and caring as Emily.
Leah wound her way around clusters of acquaintances and society friends, almost to the wide double doors open to the foyer.
“Miss Townsend.” The suave baritone voice stopped her cold. Leah didn’t turn, forcing Simon to come around to face her. His eyes were black…cold.
“You’re not leaving, are you?” Something hard glittered in his gaze.
“I, uh, I’m not feeling well.” His scrutiny was too much. Leah dropped gaze. “I thought I would retire early.”
Simon touched her chin with a forefinger, raising her face to his. He rested his thumb on the other side of her chin, in what would have appeared to anyone else as a tender gesture among sweethearts. But the pressure with which he gripped her chin left no doubt in Leah’s mind of his message.
“I trust you’re too ill to have a chat with anyone. I’ll come visit early tomorrow to check on you.” He dropped his hand but stepped nearer, drawing himself to his fullest height. Less than a foot of space separated him, and Leah could see every damp pore on his face. “I’m sure no one would begrudge me spending every moment possible with my bride-to-be.”
His posture relaxed and Leah didn’t wait for a better opportunity. She turned and fled the room.


Emily, always the thoughtful one, waited until they were safely tucked into the carriage before she turned to Leah. “What in the world is wrong? I’ve never seen you so pale.”
Leah fidgeted with the silk ruffle on the hem of her coat.S Should she tell the authorities? Tell anyone? Would they believe her over Simon? Papa had signed the contract with the man over six months ago, just before his death. Leah had always been convinced Simon was most interested in her wealth. Not the modest dowry she would bring to the marriage, but the vast amount of money and holdings kept safe in a trust until her twenty-third birthday—next February.
With Simon’s money and extensive connections, not a soul in Richmond would believe a twenty-two-year-old woman over a respected business man like him. Why, at least fifty women in Richmond would switch places with her in an instant to have an opportunity to marry such a rich widower, despite the age difference.
Even Emily would be skeptical. She always had trouble believing the worst in people. But she would believe Leah. And maybe she could help.
“What happened, love?” Emily’s gentle voice was prodding.
Leah took a deep breath. “When I was leaving the powder room, I heard voices coming from one of the hallways. I was curious, so I walked a short way and heard Mr. Talbert speaking with another man. They were…talking about me.” She steadied her voice and told her friend about the tête-à-tête, and Simon’s reaction to her presence.
At the end of it all, Emily was speechless.
“Do you remember hearing how the first Mrs. Talbert died?”
Emily’s forehead wrinkled and her eyes grew distant as she rubbed two fingers over her jaw. “She always seemed healthy when I saw her. About a year or so after they were married, though, she stopped coming to most of the social events. I didn’t hear much more about her for a while, but about six months later I heard she had passed away. I always assumed it was complications from being…in the family way.”
Emily turned her attention back to Leah, eyes piercing. “Is it possible you misheard the conversation or misunderstood Mr. Talbert’s meaning when he spoke to you?”
Of course, Emily would be reluctant to believe such a horrible thing. Leah could hardly believe it herself. How could Papa have trusted this man?
Her jaw tightened with conviction. “I’m positive I heard them correctly. And Simon made himself very clear.” She turned to grasp Emily’s hands, choking fear rising in her chest again. “What am I going to do? I can’t marry him! I don’t think I can even stand to be near him again. He said he would call early tomorrow to check on me. I’m sure he’s planning to make sure I don’t go to the authorities.” Would Simon go as far as kidnapping her? But why not? A man who was plotting murder wouldn’t think twice about a little kidnapping in the process.
Emily freed herself from Leah’s hands only to wrap her arms around Leah’s shoulders and rock, just like Mama used to do. “Leah, love. I don’t know what we need to do just yet, except I know we need to pray. God will show you. He has a plan even in this, but you have to seek it. Seek Him. He loves you even more than I do.”
Leah fought the sting of tears as the warmth of Emily’s hug soaked through her fear.


Leah blew out her breath in a frustrated stream. Flipping through her Bible, she tried hard to fight the feeling her life was falling apart. Curled in a warm flannel nightgown against the late March chill, she sat tucked in bed, searching for direction.
Father,p   please speak to me. Do you have a way for me to escape this?
But was escape right? Hadn’t God said to honor her fa  ther and mother, that her life would be long in the land the Lord would give her? But obeying her father’s wishes appeared to be at direct odds with living a long life, in this case. Was God planning to save her through some miraculous act? Like he did with Daniel in the lions’ den?
Mind rambling, she opened the Bible again and began reading in First Samuel. The early days of the Israelites always fascinated her. No matter how many times they wandered, no matter how many really bad choices they made, God always brought them back. He always forgave them when they truly humbled themselves before Him. Leah found herself absorbed in the story of young David and how God used him to calm King Saul when the distressing spirit would come up him.
“And David was playing music with his hand. Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence, and he drove the spear into the wall. So David fled and escaped that night.”
 Goose bumps covered Leah’s arms, and a little chill shot down her back. She kept reading.
“Saul also sent messengers to David’s house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, ‘If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.’ So Michal let David down through a window. And he went and fled and escaped.”
When Saul was trying to kill David, David fled and escaped.

That’s what she had to do. 

Author Bio:

Misty Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family—both immediate and extended—is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream.

To purchase Misty's book:

To connect with Misty:

Misty Beller is giving away a copy of The Lady and the Mountain Man.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Barn Door Welcomes Misty M. Beller

Is there a story behind your book, The Lady and the Mountain Man?
I've always been fascinated by mountain cabins, secluded in majestic settings. And I love the simpler life, where there's no rat race. Just hard work, plenty of alone time (can you tell I'm an introvert?), and a strong family unit. I combined so many of these loves into The Lady and the Mountain Man, there are some days I just want to go live with Gideon and Leah!

What started you on your writing journey?
My bucket list.

All my life, I've been a true book lover. Give me a good novel, and you probably won't see me again until it's finished. I've also always enjoyed writing, and tend to express myself best through my written correspondence. But I never seriously thought about writing a novel, until I was putting together my bucket list a few years ago.

I decided, it's now or never, and made the commitment to write a complete novel and get it published. So, I had a general idea that I wanted it to be a Christian western romance. But where to start? I finally decided I needed to find a good book to help me plan (refer to my answer below to the "spiritual themes" question for more info on plans). I stumbled upon (a.k.a. God led me to) the best possible book to help me get started with a great plan: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. For all you writers out there, I can't recommend it highly enough! 

From there, I've soaked in every bit of writing instruction I can from some amazing groups and individuals. And I've spent countless hours sitting with my laptop pouring out words onto the screen. It's in my blood. It's my passion. Writing is a true gift from my Heavenly Father, and I pray daily that he uses the words for His purpose.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
Gideon. He reminds me so much of my older brother, David—the tall, handsome, quiet cowboy. My brother was my best friend through my growing up years. When I started brainstorming Gideon's character, I kept coming back to David's personality. Maybe because I know him so well, I felt like I understood what made him tick. So, David, this one's for you… J

What is your strangest habit?
I'm a Mountain-Dew-aholic, much to my husband's dismay. In fact, I'm affectionately known as "Dewy" by some of my close friends.

What is your favorite season of the year? 
Autumn. I love the crisp taste in the air, the relief from Carolina summer humidity, and the opportunity to bundle up in a sweater with a hot cup of coffee. I tend to be very nostalgic (probably the reason I write Historical Romance), so I even love the smell of decay, as nature prepares to hibernate for the winter months. I like to think I'm not biased, but my favoritism may also be slightly linked to my birthday being in late September.
To top it all off, the fall season is our introduction to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Who wouldn't look forward to that?

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?
I have many dear family members in California, so growing up, my grandparents took us on numerous road trips across the country (from South Carolina to Southern California) Each time, we would try to take a different route, and my favorite part was always when we reached those first few western states. Texas, Wyoming, Montana—I adore these wide-open spaces and amazing views God provides. They capture my heart anew every time. I love the way animals and ranching are critical to the people in those states, and history is treasured! So far, all three of the series I'm working on are set in one of these areas!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
I guess this is time for full disclosure—I'm a member of Control Freaks Anonymous. Yes, I tend to be a bit of a control freak when things are important to me. I'm not OCD, mind you (meaning I don't compulsively obsess about every little detail). But I need to feel like I'm in control of the outcome, and that things are moving according to my plan.

Any of you who have read a few verses of Proverbs Chapter Three probably know that God calls us to trust in His leading, not our own plans. We are to trust that He will take us the better way.

I just finished writing my third novel, and as I look back at the spiritual theme in each of the three books, trusting God's plan for our lives is at the core of each. Wow. As you can imagine, God has been working with me in this area for a long time. J

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Habakkuk 3: 17-19 - Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls - Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.

This passage connects to my need to release my fears and desire for control to God. No matter what happens around me, I don't have to be the one to fix it. I simply need to make sure I'm where He wants me to be. That's hard to know for sure sometimes, but the closer I walk with Him, the easier it is to tell. And when I am in His will, the outcome may not be what I had planned, but He'll help me walk on my high hills. And I will joy in the God of my salvation. J

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next release will be coming from Prism Book Group in 2015, and is tentatively titled The Rancher Takes a Cook. Here's a glimpse of the back cover copy:
When their home in South Carolina burns to the ground, Anna Stewart has no choice but to move with her 15-year-old brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch. Their prospects begin to look better, until the ranch owner’s son, Jacob O’Brien, shows up with his alarmingly blue eyes to put a kink in Anna’s well-controlled plans.  When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands… and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?

You may purchase Misty's book at:

Misty Beller is giving away a copy of The Lady and the Mountain Man.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

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