Reviews: To the Farthest Shores, Behind the Scenes, and Upon a Spring Breeze

Round two of me playing catch-up on my reviews. 🙂

The following books were given to me by the publisher/author. The reviews are my honest opinion.

Naval officer Ryan Gallagher broke Jenny’s heart six years ago when he abruptly disappeared. Now he’s returned but refuses to discuss what happened. Furious, Jenny has no notion of the impossible situation Ryan is in. With lives still at risk, he can’t tell Jenny the truth about his overseas mission–but he can’t bear to lose her again either.

Review: Ms. Camden took one nurse, one supposedly treasonous soldier, and a little girl to write a story of love so poignant that I couldn’t put it down. Even though I don’t generally care for war era (any war) stories, this one kept me engaged and interested that I didn’t much notice the war references.

Rating: 5 stars

Miss Permilia Griswold, the wallflower behind “The Quill” gossip column, knows everything that goes on in the ballrooms of New York. When she overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Asher Rutherford, she’s determined to warn him. Away from society’s spotlight, Asher and Permilia discover there’s more going on behind the scenes than they anticipated.

Review: Another wonderful Jen Turano novel. I just love her work. I loved Permilia and her “wallflower” status. Had I been born in late 1800’s, I too would have been relegated there (if I managed to be in the TON, which is doubtful). And the things Ms. Turano puts her poor heroines through. I just love the scrapes they manage to get themselves in.

Rating: 5 stars

After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.

Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.

When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?

Review:  A lovely book about renewed hope after tragedy strikes. Sometimes we’re ready for the hope God provides, and sometimes it takes time to accept that life can be good again, that there can be new beginnings and second chances. As always, I enjoyed Ms. Irvin’s story telling.

Rating: 5 stars




Reviews: Her Baby’s Protector, Sunset in Old Savannah, & Distorted

I’m behind on my reviews. 🙂 I received all three of the following books from the publisher/author. The reviews are my honest opinion.


Saved by the Lawman by Margaret Daley

As an unknown assailant attempts to kidnap family-court judge Kate Forster’s infant son, police officer Chase Walker thwarts the attackand vows to keep the pair safe. But who will protect the ex-marine’s heart when the widowed mother and her little boy make him long for a permanent spot in their family?

Saved by the SEAL by Susan Sleeman

The tragedy that killed Bree Hatfield’s best friendsand left her with custody of their young daughterhas been ruled an accident. But Bree knows it was murder. Scared and alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, navy SEAL Clint Reed, who’ll risk everything to protect baby Ella and the woman he never stopped loving.

Review: Two wonderful novellas in one book. I love a good romantic suspense, and both of these live up to my expectations. I highly recommend them both.

Rating: 5 stars

In Savannah, Everyone Has Something to Hide
When socialite Evelyn Doyle hires investigative partners and best friends Michael Preston and Elizabeth Kirby to do some routine surveillance on her wayward husband, the detective duo find themselves embroiled in a mystery with more suspects than there are shells on Tybee Island.

Evelyn’s husband turns up dead, leaving her as the police chief’s prime target. The investigation reveals a hodgepodge of potential murderers, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. It’s up to Mike and Beth to follow the trail of secrets that reaches further than the branches of the moss-draped oaks of Savannah.

As word of the case gets around town, business is booming for Price Investigations. When Mike and Beth hire Kaitlyn Webb, Savannah’s newest transplant, their workload eases, but will the ghosts of her past threaten everyone’s safety before a killer can be put behind bars? And can Mike and Beth find love as their friendship and faith are put to the test?

Review:  Mary Ellis has once again written a wonderful romantic suspense. Lots of intrigue and the perfect amount of romance fill this novel. From page one’s southern September heat to the very last word, I loved the interaction between the many characters, but especially between Mike and Beth. I highly recommend this novel.

Rating: 5 stars

Mallory Baldwin is a survivor. A former victim of human trafficking, she’s been given a second chance, yet not a night goes by that she doesn’t remember being a slave to weapons dealer Dante Torres. Despite being afraid of the dark and wary of strangers, Mallory is trying to rebuild her life by turning her tragedy into redemption.

To former Navy SEAL Tennyson Walker, Mallory seems nothing like the shattered woman he rescued two years ago, and he can’t help but be inspired by her strength and resilience. So when a stalker suddenly makes Mallory vulnerable once again, Tennyson steps up as her bodyguard to keep her safe.

Mallory and Tennyson’s mutual attraction can’t be ignored, but neither can Mallory’s suspicion that Tennyson is keeping a terrible secret about her past. As the nightmare closes in, it’s not only Mallory and Tennyson’s love that comes under fire but their very lives as well. Will their faith sustain them? Or will the darkness win once and for all?

Review: I’m a big fan of Christy Barritt and read most everything she writes. Distorted is another impressive display of her writing ability. I loved it from page one all the way to the end.

While this particular novel addressed human trafficking, a prevalent problem in our society that people (myself included) don’t want to acknowledge, it gave victims hope of overcoming the physical, emotional, and mental scars.

I look forward to Ms. Barritt’s next novel.

Rating: 5 stars

More later this week… Like I said, I’m behind.




God Knows Our Dreams

When I was a child, I had very little in the way of material things. I don’t remember ever going hungry, but at times, we didn’t have a phone. We never had cable hooked up. Mom and I shared a car. She made my clothes — at least a lot of them.

I had a lot of dreams.

My bedroom was covered in horse paraphernalia — posters, figurines, even a two-foot tall statue. I read horse books. I dreamed of owning a horse.

As I grew older, I understood that we barely had enough to feed ourselves, much less a horse, so the dream went the way most dreams do — into a box titled “unfulfilled.”

When I was in high school, I took French classes all four years. My freshman year, my teacher was French and he showed us pictures of France. I wanted to go. This one, I knew would never happen, so it was immediately relegated to the “unfulfilled” box.

Fast forward quite a few more years, and my dad died. Years earlier, he’d given me a bonnet and a Bible passed down to him from his grandmother (or some other ancestor). I took it out, started tracing my genealogy. Irish, English, and a few other things I haven’t determined completely yet. I figured I was mostly Irish. With a maiden name like Murphy, it seemed to be a given. (I was wrong, but that’s not important to this post.) I dreamed of going to Ireland to see the lands of my ancestors, of my father’s people. Another dream. Another addition to the “unfulfilled” box.

Most of them I forgot about over time. New dreams. New responsibilities. New experiences.

BUT God (and now I’m tearing up). God didn’t forget my childhood dreams. He pulled them out of the unfulfilled box and fulfilled them.


In 2001, I went to Paris. My husband needed to go for work, and I tagged along. I was able to see the Louvre, Versailles, and as many things as I wanted (and had time for).


Angel (the paint) and Cocoa (the black)

In 2006, we moved to Alabama onto seven acres of land, part of which already had horse-fence in place, and a barn with horse stalls and a tack room. I got my horses a few years later. We kept them for a several years. They were hard work, but I loved the experience.

A picture of the Blarney Stone, which I did NOT kiss.

This year, God fulfilled my dream to go to Ireland. Sadly, Murphy’s are a dime a dozen over there, so finding any relatives, no matter how far reaching they’d be by this time, was impossible. But I enjoyed the experience immensely. I visited numerous castles, Trinity College (mostly their library), and my husband and I traveled the country (a quick round-about in three days). Thankfully, it’s a fairly small country, but we still missed seeing so much.

I’m still recovering from Ireland (we returned late Tuesday afternoon), but today I watched a video by Francis Chan. He says something in the video that sparked this post. He said, “He [God] doesn’t listen to every prayer, but He listens to mine.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I doubt God is listening to my prayers. Not because I’ve sinned (though I do) or not fulfilled His requirements, but because I DOUBT He cares about the little things in my life.

And yet, after all these years, God is fulfilling my smallest dreams. Not when I wanted them, but maybe when I need them.

And you know what, it makes me cry because God knows the desires of my heart and is fulfilling them one at a time, in His time. When I need the extra encouragement and boost to my faith, He gives them to me.

It’s humbling. The God of the Universe, the Creator of all things loves me. He LOVES me. He loves ME.

He loves YOU, too. And He knows your dreams, whether you remember them or not. He knows the desires of your heart. He wants to give them to you. He wants to love on you in that way, but He’ll only do that if they are what you NEED. And only if you’re delighting yourself in Him.  (PS. 37:4)

Do you have dreams that have been relegated to the unfulfilled box? Or maybe dreams God has fulfilled for you that you had forgotten? Do you think He knows?



Does heaven surround you?

peace or turmoilSomething my pastor said yesterday has stuck with me. She said something along the lines of: The Kingdom of God is on the inside of us [with the indwelling of Holy Spirit], while the Kingdom of Heaven is what we create around us. It’s our atmosphere.

So what is your atmosphere like?

Do you create a sense of heaven on earth, or do people feel more like they’re in hell when you’re in the room?

Too blunt?


But think about it.

Do you bring a sweet Spirit of peace when you walk into a room? Or do you bring strife and discord?

Forgive me, but I feel like I’m getting ready to teach my children an important topic. It may come across as simple, but it’s not easy.

I’ve been writing about 1 Cor. 13 over at for the last several months. Let me remind you…

Verses 4-7(ESV) — Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Gal. 5:14 says, For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Who is our neighbor? Let’s look to the parable of the Good Samaritan…

Luke 10:29-37 — But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

So a neighbor can be anyone. And everyone.

If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and everyone has the potential to be our neighbor, then it stands to reason that we are to love everyone.

And yet, if we bring strife and discord to those around us, we are not being loving. If we seek our own way, we are not walking in love. If we ignore those in need around us, we are we are not showing love.

God loves us and expects us to show that love to others. He does not call us to something He has not equipped us to do.

I challenge you to bring the Kingdom of Heaven into your surroundings today. Make your atmosphere one of peace and calm in as much as you have control over it.


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The Sin We All Ignore…

We all know what sin is, right?

Murder, gluttony, adultery, lying, stealing, etc. The list could go on and on.

But did you know there’s another one that we rarely consider?

James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (ESV)

This one little statement encompasses a lot more possibilities of sin.

I mean murder is murder. How many of us, truly, are going to go out and kill someone, either in a fit of rage or premeditated? It’s not something I plan to do in my lifetime.

Of course, we all have probably been a little gluttonous, or told a lie, or maybe even stole something (like that pen you’re using that came from your workplace, hmmm?). But we’ve asked for and received forgiveness for those. Or at least we should have.

But do you remember to ask for forgiveness for the things you DON’T do?

Did you see that man on the side of the street begging and feel the urge to give him some money or food, but you were in a hurry and didn’t want to bother with it?

Or maybe the elderly person in front of you in the grocery store was a little slow about getting something high off a shelf, and you zoomed around him or her or took a different way?

Or maybe you had the opportunity to serve at your church (or promised to serve), but decided you had something else to do and didn’t go?

Do you remember the last time the Spirit prompted you to do something GOOD for someone? Did you do it?

If not, you sinned.

And to be sure, I am not only pointing a finger at you. I have several pointing back at me. I have bypassed the beggar on the street corner or at the stop light when I’ve been prompted to help him. I have ignored the opportunities to serve others at church because I didn’t “feel” like it. And probably a myriad of other things that the  Spirit led me toward that I ignored. And to me, those were sin.

No, I didn’t commit murder or adultery, I didn’t lie or steal, but I didn’t do the good I knew to do.

Sin is sin is sin.

Thank God for forgiveness and new mercies every day. Let’s do the good that God has set before us today.




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