Monday, April 22, 2013




Love lost doesn’t mean love lost forever.
Can unexpected romance deliver a second chance for two deserving widows?

Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek. When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn.

With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West. Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?

Filled with the resonating questions that all women face, this romance awakens hope against grief, love against loss, and dreams against life’s unexpected turns.

MY REVIEW..................

My first impression of Mona Hodgson’s novel was the gorgeous cover with a picture of a young woman that reminded me of a young Judy Garland in appearance, and that’s the way I saw Willow Raines Peterson throughout this entire warm and involving read.

Having not read the first three books in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series did not detract from my getting to know the characters and story behind the Sinclair sisters and their brother-in-law Pastor Tucker Raines, Willow’s brother, prior to this story written around Willow.  Even though placed in the year of 1898, we see that Cripple Creek is a burgeoning town filled with like characters working hard to build their town that we might still see across our nation in the present day. Of course, we have much more modern day conveniences now, but it was a time of running water, plumbing, telephones, iceboxes, (refrigerators) ovens and other inventions of rough nature.  It worked for those living in this historical era.

We first meet Willow, Tucker and his wife Ida Sinclair Raines at the graveside of their father.  The family watched Willow closely, because she now felt twice the sorrow having just lost her husband, Sam, in a drowning incident; and just having spent time in an asylum for depression.  Ida and Tucker tried to convince Willow to live with them at the parsonage, but Willow preferred to live independently.  Willow soon became a boarder at Hattie Adams’ Boarding House, the same home of the Sinclair sisters for a length of time after their mother’s death and their father, Harlan Sinclair moved to Paris to conduct business.

Willow depending deeply on God’s grace and mercy is determined to find employment to support herself.  She is a talented artist.  Enters Trenton Van Der Veer, a professional photographer a new resident of Cripple Creek whose heart had recently been broken by his ex-fiancĂ©’.  Trenton has a speech impediment and has been scarred by a temperamental and controlling father all his life.  Even though Willow and Trenton can’t seem to understand one another after their first meeting – he puts her to a test to prove her talent before he decides to finally hire her as his assistant.  Their relationship evolves into one of admiration and respect.  Could this be a potential romance?

Mona Hodgson artistically and talentedly twists story into story to bring about this delightful town of characters all closely related in one respect or another.  The story becomes even more fun and complicated when the sister’s father re-enters their lives.  He brings with him a big mysterious surprise that baffles one and all.  That dear landlady, Hattie, became my favorite character as she is beloved of all the book’s personalities…..and turns Harlan’s head just enough to make one wonder if there is romance in the air for Hattie. 

Ms Hodgson writes in an entertaining manner, holding interest and particularly proficient in showing God at work and bringing the conclusion of her story to show Gods glory.  Well done, Mona Hodgson – thank you for adding to my joy in reading.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.


The author of nearly forty books, Mona Hodgson writes historical fiction for adults and picture books and readers for children. In 1987, Mona began writing articles, poems, and short stories for publication and has had several hundred printed in more than 50 different publications. Her publishing credits now include The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek historical fiction series, The Quilted Heart eBook novellas, nearly 30 children's books, and contributions to 11 books for adults.

Mona is a speaker for women's retreats, schools, educators and librarians, and at writers conferences throughout the United States and Canada. She holds professional memberships in Women Writing the West, American Christian Fiction Writers, Pikes Peak Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

What does Mona like to do when she's not writing? Picnic, read to kids, visit museums, play Wii Tennis, sink her toes into wet sand at the beach, retreat with her sisters, explore new places, gaze at sunsets and share lunch with a friend.
Mona Hodgson is the author of Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, and The Bride Wore Blue. Mona's writing credits also include nearly thirty children's books, including Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional,Bedtime in the Southwest, and The Princess Twins and the Tea Party. One of Mona's favorite things to do, besides writing or eating dark chocolate, is to speak at women's retreats and conferences. Mona lives in Arizona with her husband, Bob. 



Hindsight by Mona Hodgson -

Mona Hodgson from Arizonia -


Monday, April 15, 2013

Picture Perfect: A Novel


Feisty wedding photographer Hannah McDermott has dealt with her share of difficult brides. But none can compare to the ultimate Bridezilla she's dealing with now. 

Still, she's trying desperately to impress Bella Neeley, Galveston Island's most sought-after wedding planner, so she can take the top spot in Bella's list of recommended photographers--a spot currently occupied by her archrival, Drew Kincaid. What she doesn't count on, however, is falling head over heels for the competition.

With her contagious humor and cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives readers more of the bridal business drama they want in a brand-new series all about those long-suffering people who make beautiful weddings happen. Readers are desperately waiting for more of Bella and this new series brings her back in a big way, while introducing new characters fans will love. Fans will laugh out loud as they experience this breezy and entertaining novel from a great storyteller.

She's trying to focus on her future. How can one man make everything feel so . . . fuzzy?

Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio. She'll soon be featured in Texas Bride magazine. And she has a celebrity client whose Galveston ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neeley's list of recommended photographers. But it could all come crashing down around her because of one man: archrival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.

It couldn’t have been more apropos that I read Janice Thompson’s story “Picture Perfect” over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Perhaps I should say that I giggled, chuckled and laughed aloud throughout my entire read of Hannah McDermott’s situation at this crazy point in her life.

One of my favorite parts of Ms Thompson’s book were all the Irish blessings, sayings, proverbs, and limericks at the beginning of each chapter; and of course Hannah’s Grandfather Aengus’s favorite sayings. But….this story went far beyond the humor to deeper emotions of each main character that the reader could easily relate.

It did my heart good to see the changes taking place between Hannah’s parents after meeting Bella’s large Italian family and friends who were so big hearted and loving toward one and all. A lot of the unexpected became a hectic and normal occurrence in both families’ lives. The Bing and Bob party thrown annually for all the McDermott Irish friends became a huge invasion of the Italian Rossi/Neeley clan. This party turned into a big noisy bash and I can’t understand why the neighbors didn’t complain about all the loud singing. That’s just the luck of the Irish. I do wish I could have imbibed in the Irish and Italian food that fed that bunch. All in fun this intermingling of cultures.

Let’s get to the real story. Hannah McDermott is a wedding photographer located in Galveston, Texas and about to be featured in the Texas Bride Magazine. Hannah has an infamous bride client whose demands on photo details are slightly erratic, including the agent putting intense and not so honest guidelines on Hannah to involve herself in a scam involving wedding publicity. Then, there is Drew Kincaid her archrival photographer. Hannah finds it hard to really dislike this handsome man who shows his considerate sweet side to Hannah, and then she hasn’t a chance of not falling in love with him. God is still in control and moving in His mysterious ways throughout the story.

Having not read any of Janice Thompson’s writings before, I’m now enticed to read the books leading up to this delightful story. It is a fast paced novel with many characters and sentimental moments. If you need a boost out of a low moment – read Ms Thompson’s Picture Perfect of the Weddings by Design series. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you about the McDermott/Kincaid historical feud…..well, I guess you will need to read the book to find out!

About the Author
Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series. She lives in Texas.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


When the Heart Heals, Sisters at Heart Series #2   -     
        By: Ann Shorey




When the Heart Heals is my first introduction to Ann Shorey's writing. What a writer! Historical fiction is at the top of my reading joy, and Ann didn’t disappoint in authoring such a realistic story of the times after the Civil War. One fact that struck me odd, because I wasn’t aware of it before, was the disdain toward women nurses. Funny, but all my life, I’ve been accustomed to woman nurses, and thought it unusual when more males began to choose nursing as a career.  Only a comment on my part…not a complaint.

The nature of Rosemary Saxon wasn’t revealed all at once, her story is complex with personal history of her and her brother Curt being estranged from their parents because of the division of beliefs about whose side was right during the Civil War. We learn early that Rosemary had been extremely capable as a nurse to injured Union soldiers at Jefferson Barracks.  She met and worked briefly with Dr. Elijah Stewart during this time, and developed a secret attraction for him.

Rosemary moved to Noble Springs, Missouri in 1867 to live with her brother Curt Saxon who had married her best friend, Faith. This being the second novel in Sisters at Heart Series, I was at a disadvantage of not knowing many of the overlapping details from “Where Wildflowers Bloom.” Ann Shorey didn’t leave the reader in the dark with prior details – they fell naturally in place during the story. Rosemary insisted on moving into her own home to live independently and hoped to find work to sustain her financially. Ms Shorey has an admirable talent of throwing intriguing hooks of mystery into the story to keep your interest alert.  Rosemary is a knowledgeable herbalist, which caused suspicious and dim witted townspeople to label her a witch.

Dr. Elijah Stewart appears again when he moves to Noble Springs to set up his medical practice. Rosemary applies for a nursing position there, and Elijah has little faith in her as a nurse but hires her for a brief time to see how things work out. He doesn’t like her herbal medicinal practices or the fact that she becomes personally involved with his patients. Their romantic feelings toward each other developed slowly, much to Rosemary’s chagrin. Rosemary has another suitor Jacob, who was a fine man, however complicated Rosemary’s desire to develop her love interest in Elijah.

All the characters in this story are well developed and believable. At times, I did become irritated at Rosemary’s stubbornness even though it made for a better story. My favorite character, Bodie the dog, was comical, loyal, and lovable. Actually, there were several interesting stories developing constantly that interacted lively and heartwarmingly throughout.  Ann Shorey has written a wonderful story of healing and forgiveness that will bless you for a long time after closing the book. Her fascinating characters and the many mysteries about what has happened in the past to cause the pain in Rosemary and Elijah’s past are revealed. They are two individuals that came from diverse background and experience the same emotions. Thank you Ann Shorey for a fine writing and an excellent enjoyable read. All the prayers were answered and I’m sure God is smiling on Noble Springs, Missouri.


Ann Shorey as a child with her Mother
Ann’s mother always wanted to write a book about her ancestors. She felt there was enough material in her collection of family memoirs, which dated back to the 1600’s, to make fascinating reading.

When Ann’s mother died in 1994, she passed those memoirs on to Ann. Over the next several years Ann put stream-of-consciousness reminiscences into chronological order and followed up each “remembered fact” with necessary research.

Thanks to the computer age, she wrote the book her mother had envisioned and in the late 1990’s distributed it to family and interested historians.

In the process of researching her family history, Ann discovered that all of the collected memoirs had been written by men. Memories of the American Revolution, the Mexican and Civil Wars, and the westward migration were all told from the male perspective. What was life like for the women who maintained the homes, reared the children, and followed their husbands from place to place? That question sparked her interest in writing fiction to fill in the gaps. Over the next several years Ann learned her craft by attending classes, reading books, and, yes, collecting a few rejections.
Ann Shorey%27s Great Great Great Grandmother Sarah Rousseau Crain  

On a research trip to Kentucky in 1997, Ann and her husband, Richard, were fortunate enough to locate the graves of her great-great-great grandparents on the land they had settled in 1800. Standing in front of her great-times-three grandmother’s resting place, Ann promised that grandmother she would not be forgotten.

The At Home in Beldon Grove series honors that promise. The first volume, titled The Edge of Light, was released in January, 2009. The second book in the series, The Promise of Morning, released in March 2010, and the series concludes with The Dawn of a Dream, released in April of 2011.

Ann's new series, Sisters at Heart, opens with Where Wildflowers Bloom. The stories follow her ancestor's emigration from Illinois to Missouri after the close of the War Between the States. As the series title promises, the books are linked by the friendship between Faith, Rosemary and Cassie, the novels' protagonists.

One of the best things Ann learned about fiction is that it’s okay to make stuff up! Thus, although these novels are inspired by her courageous female ancestors, the largest percentage of their adventures are fictional. Ann leaves it to her readers to separate truth from “it could have happened like this.”
Ann is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency, and is an active member of several writer’s organizations, among them  American Christian Fiction WritersOregon Christian Writers, and Willamette Writers. As such, she is enthusiastic about the benefits of attending workshops and conferences. Ann is available to teach workshops on research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals to writer’s groups.

In addition to writing, Ann has won many prizes for her culinary skills. Her recipes have appeared in Country Woman magazine, and in several national cookbooks, including Taste of Country and Taste of Home. Recently author Patti Hill included one of Ann’s recipes in her  Garden Gates Cookbook, available on Patti’s web site. Ann has been privileged to present cooking demonstrations to young women from her church as part of the Apples of Gold mentoring program.

Ann and Richard share their home with a loveable Belgian Shepherd named Amber.

Hi Friends,

What delight Ann Shorey's writing about the activities of Noble Springs, Missouri was to read. Hope you'll be enticed to read this book after reading my review.  Spring is here and a time of new beginnings.  I pray all your new season ahead will be blessed with beautiful sunshine, flowers and fun.  And, since this is April, don't forget your umbrella....just in case.  LOL!

Just Passing it Forward to bless you!