Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Greetings from Portland, Oregon where I am amidst chilly rain, snow, high winds and winter weather to celebrate my mother's 94th birthday and Thanksgiving with my family here. However, I needed to keep my promise to review Leslie Gould's delightful new novel Courting Cate.  It had been my intention to add pictures of the book and of Leslie Gould, however I am writing this blog on my new toy - a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and the logistical problems are making me tear out my hair, of which I am getting less of as time passes.


(Book 1 in the Courtships of Lancaster County Series)

In Paradise Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance.  Her sweet and flirty sister Betsy on the other hand seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County.    

But the sister's wealthy father  has made one hard and fast rule;  older Cate must marry first  before younger Betsy can even start courting.  Unfortunately untamable Cate has driven away  every suitor - until Pete Tregor comes to town that is.  Prodded by the men of the area Pete turns his attention on winning Cate's hand.  But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?    

                                                                 COURTING CATE

Leslie Gould's brilliant idea of an Amish twist on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" shows her unique creativity and talent to the highest degree.  My interest was quickly drawn into the story with eager anticipation as to what would happen next.

My first impressions toward Cate's personality were a bit negative as I found her irritating and stubborn, causing her own problems for the most part.  That is...until I learned that her problems were very real to her, trapping her into an existence brought on by her mother's death giving birth to her younger sister, Betsy.  Cate was turning shrewish through the responsibilities thrown on her to raise her sister and help with her father's business, let alone the duties and chores of being of the Amish faith in the household where she lived with her father and sister.

Leslie's story became more enthralling as I could easily relate to Cate's ever changing moods caused by frustrations, dashed hopes, self doubts and ongoing problems with those around her causing her feistiness.  Her defensive side could quickly change to a soft heart, compassion, understanding, empathy and sympathy to another's predictaments and situations; and as quickly again to a hot temper and harsh judgments toward other characters she disliked.

Cate was hurt deeply by the betrayal of her betrothed when he dumped her and married another.  She was left without the hope of a marriage and children at an age when young Amish women were already married and having families.  She had decided to accept her lot in life and make the best of her situation when things began changing faster than she was able to adjust to them.

Reading was the joy in Cate's personal life, and dreaming of becoming a writer.  Of course, she day dreamed of marrying, romance, and all the things she had missed, but found it best to avoid these thoughts as they were much too depressing.

Betsy, Cate's younger sister, was young, beautiful, spoiled, sweet, manipulative and very interested in a fellow........and then - the crux of the story changed dramatically.  Their dat set a hard and fast rule that Cate must marry first before allowing Betsy to be courted.

Then, a young handsome Amish man arrived in Paradise, Pennsylvania from New York state that caused Cates heart to flutter, however unsure as to his motives when he began to show signs of wanting to court her - she suspected he might be a "gold digger" and wanted her dat's wealth for himself.

The plot thickens and gives the reader much to laugh and cry about.  The metamorphosis in all the characters one way or another was incredible and only enabled through faith in God and wanting to do His will.  Leslie developed each character thoughtfully and I loved her approach to bring them alive in one's mind.

Overall, I give Leslie's Courting Cate a 5+.

Readers, get this book, you'll love yourself for it!

LESLIE GOULD is the co-author with MINDY STARNS CLARK of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny.  She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for best inspirational novel of 2006) and Scrap Everything.  She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor.  She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon.  Learn more at


Monday, November 5, 2012



A Light in the Window
*To purchase copy simply click on the cover or link!*

One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.

While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”


A Light in the Window

(First published in THE WORDSMITH JOURNAL MAGAZINE  November 1, 2012)

I'm Just Sayin....

My reading began with high anticipation as eighteen year old Marceline (Marcy) Murphy stood on the front porch of the O’Rourke home nervously preparing to ring the doorbell. Five long years had passed since Marcy and her family had left Boston for New York where her father had taken a new job as a vice president for Reading Railroad, and subsequently lost due to the worldwide economic depression in 1893, costing him and thousands their jobs. Marcy’s family returned to Boston in hopes of new beginning. How could she predict what heartache lay ahead? She and her family would need to lean on their faith in God to see them through.Marcy’s best friend Julie (Jewels) O’Rourke lived behind those doors with her large family and the memory of Julie’s older brother Sam made her hands clammy. Hmm, I thought as I read. Sweet memories of Sam? Wasn’t her love interest……? Marcy’s thought leads us into the story, “A Light in the Window” and promptly caught my attention. I still puzzled over Marcy’s romantic thoughts about Sam when she…..oh never mind…just keep on reading.

Among the many fans of Julie’s writing, I had been waiting for her story about the young couple who started this saga of the O’Connor family. Having read all of the previous books in Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change; both series about the O’Connor children, my curiosity about the couple that sired them didn't end. Finally, Julie Lessman is telling how it all began. 

This had to be good!

As I continued reading, Jewels opened the O’Rourke front door to an anxious grown up Marcy and enthusiastically noticed the beauty her best friend had become. Jewels commented that Marcy would certainly turn heads during their senior year, especially her brother Sam’s.The best friends begin to reminisce, giggling and talking about the old crowd…mentioning Sam and his best friend Patrick often. Marcy grimaced at the recalling of what she already knew about Patrick – considering him the rogue of all rogues and thinking him to be the cause of Sam’s unruly shenanigans. She kept her opinion of Patrick to herself because Jewels had a wild crush on him, as did other girls. Their conversation brought up the St. Mary’s church Christmas play fund raiser for the soup kitchen, and Marcy eagerly told Jewels that she had already talked to Sister Francine and got the job to spearhead the fundraiser. She also volunteered Jewels to be the pianist and her assistant in directing the play performance. Marcy was pleased with her selection of the play. It was something old she found that was significant regarding a true Irish tradition at Christmas. At this point, she had no idea of the real meaning that would evolve into her life forever.

Marcy believed that a solid marriage needed commitment and faith in God. It was her heart’s desire to have such a marriage. She recently developed mistrust toward the opposite sex from traumatic revelations of adultery and unfaithfulness before returning to Boston. She thinks she knows Sam and has hope that he will be the love of her life, even though she is aware of his oat sowing. She feels her prayers can change him. Marcy is an only child and looks to the O’Rourke’s as being the ideal family and wants desperately to be a part of them. She considers Patrick a devious rogue and rover, causing her mixed emotions as she gets to know him. What Marcy eventually comes to learn of her parents and family surprises her.
Patrick has been disliked and misunderstood by his father all his life. His father, a hypocrite controls his family through physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Despite his upbringing, Patrick is a young man with refined values that are not fully developed yet, until he sees Marcy again for the first time after five years. He questions himself and begins to seek the real meaning of his life with the desire to be better.

The scene with Sam and Patrick hiding in a confessional at St Mary’s drinking the sacristy wine from the bottle and smoking shows the audaciousness of youth in a humorous and predictable way. Of course, they get caught! Father Fitzgibbons is not shocked and handles the situation thoughtfully while assigning a consequence to the boys that leads into the gist of the story and from thereon we are hooked.
Julie Lessman’s writing is always a great mix of high emotion, clashes of right and wrong, forgiveness, past and present hurts, secrets, guilt, shame, fun, humor, family stresses, life decisions, love and lust – the good, the bad and the ugly, dishonesty, thievery, hypocrisy, dreams and always God’s love and the human struggle to entrust their hearts Him. Her script is divinely developed around the evidence that she has researched the time period extensively as to history, fashions in style, education, religion, morals, courting, and human behavior which is primarily the same from generation to generation. She writes such beautiful and easily comprehended word pictures that are vivid to the imagination throughout her story. Ms. Lessman has no qualms at expressing belief in the plans that God has for each individual.

The characters are all mostly lovable, with a couple of deterrents there, yet each one is unique and vital to the story. You will meet the children that perform in the play and learn their life struggles. Julie Lessman has no lack of imagination in creating the right character(s) for every situation. The surprising compassion and involvement of one character in the youngster’s lives is heartwarming and tender. It brings a bit of a tear to the eye.Here is where I will leave my review of Julie Lessman’s book. As always, after I have finished reading a Julie Lessman novel, I discover I have learned much from her words in relation to my own life. Some of my personal damaged emotions begin to heal and my faith in God has rooted deeper. Recently I told Julie “Your talent overwhelms me….how do you do that?” She answered, “LOL ... my so-called "talent" overwhelms me too, and I have NO earthly idea how I do it except by the grace of God - just like you!! :)” There, by the grace of God, we write.


Lots of Hugs,