Friday, February 26, 2021

Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Writing Historical fiction is hard. 

You have to make your readers join you as you explore and have characters interact with certain historical events and timelines. 

As an avid reader of Historical Romance fiction especially World War II fiction, I know what it is like to read a story that doesn't feel right either because the author did not do their research on the hairstyles, clothes, music, or even the movies of the time period, so then the rest of the story is off for me as the reader because then I don't know if I can trust the author. 

But luckily for us because of the internet, there is so many different ways to do research and make your stories authenticate for the readers. 

From Goodreads

I honestly admire authors who write Biblical fiction like Connilyn Cossette because I bet there is a lot of research, but they have more license to be creative in their stories because majority of readers are not familiar with this time period. 

Here are some of the suggestions I have heard for writing fiction well:

-Visit the Location. 

Well that sounds good in theory, but I don't make a lot of money, so I can't fly off to England or Germany where my stories take place and research it, but with the internet, I can take virtual tours of some of the places. Even though, it still is not the same thing. 

-If available, talk to someone who lived through the historical event or time period.

-Journal and Newspaper articles are a gold mine for finding story ideas and researching the time period. 

-Try to find experts in the field who can answer your questions. 

- Books. Of course. 

- Audit a class at a University. The University I work at has offered a class on World War II, so I have decided to audit the class. By auditing the class, you have to have permission from the professor and the school to allow you to attend class. If you have the wiggle room in your work budget, then this might be just the same thing for you. You don't actually have to do the assignments, but you can purchase the books and attend class. You'll learn a lot without all the pressures of completing the assignments. What a great idea!

What about you? What are some of your tips for budding writers of historical fiction? 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Allison Pittman: The Lady in Residence

 By Kelly Bridgewater

About the Book

Book:  The Lady in Residence

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Christian Historical

Release date: February 2021

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Pastseries. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.
In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?


My Thoughts:

The Lady in Residence is a novel that evokes emotions of fear, yet curiosity. I love how original the stories was. The romance played out the edge of a little too much touchiness, but I was not disgusted by this show of affection by the hero and the heroine. The plot was interesting. I liked the ghost story. Most of the Christian fiction novels shy away from ghost stories, so this was a delightful change. This story is crafted in the current fad of a time slip novel, so there is two timelines to keep track of. While some stories it works, as I reading through the story, I wish the story was just the history elements. It would have been richer to see the story played out a lot more. Flipping to the present for the most part annoyed me. I read through those parts really fast and couldn't wait to get back to the historical parts. They were the story. They were the most interesting parts of the story. Overall, The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman was a unique story with lovely historical characters that I didn't mind spending time with. The present storyline could have not been in there at all. It would have made the story that much richer.

I received a complimentary copy of The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman by Barbour Publishing through Celebrate Lit. Tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Lady in Residence

About the Author

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a four-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series, once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties and most recently for the critically acclaimed The Seamstress which takes a cameo character from the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and flourishes her to life amidst the French Revolution. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website,

 More from Allison

From Haunting to Healing: How Stories Bring New Life to Old Ghosts

If you really think about it, every story is a ghost story. Not the floating spirits of the dearly departed kind, not bumps in the night or mysterious howling in the darkness—but the best stories come from examining a haunted heart. Memories that pursue the present.

A few years ago I took the walking tour of haunted San Antonio. It was a lark, a fun tourist-y thing to do with some visiting friends. I’m not a believer in ghosts, but I am a collector of stories. The tour opens at the Alamo—sacred ground of slain soldiers. The second stop is the Menger Hotel, listed as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States by those who measure and evaluate such things. And while the tour guide waxed on about the guests’ litany of haunted experiences (including Teddy Roosevelt raging through the lobby), my mind stuck with the story of Sallie White. Sallie White is the Menger Hotel’s most famous ghost—a chambermaid whose apparition is reported to be seen walking the halls, towels draped over her arm, or to be heard as an efficient two-rap knock on your door late at night. My mind, however, didn’t dwell on Sallie the ghost, but Sallie the woman—just a normal, hard-working, poor woman, murdered in the street by a man who claimed to love her. But for that, she would have passed into history unknown. Instead, her story is told every night as strangers gather on the very sidewalk where the crime took place.

Years after first hearing the story of Sallie white, I stayed in the Menger for a few days to gather details for The Lady in Residence. I booked what they call a “Petite” room—meaning it is a room that maintains its original structure. Read: tiny. Exposed pipes, creaky wooden floors, antique furniture—the only update, the bathroom fixtures. As it turned out, my room was directly above the place where Sallie White was murdered. One night I pressed my ear against the glass and listened to the ghost tour guide tell her story. The next morning, I stood in the exact spot with a fancy Starbucks drink, thinking about her. She lives on, not because people claim to see her walking and hear her knocking in the dead of night, but because she is a woman remembered.

So, is that beautiful? Is it ghoulish? Maybe it’s both, but when I was given the chance to write a story set in and around the Menger Hotel, I was determined to make Sallie White’s story a part of it. I didn’t want to write her story—that would have required embellishment beyond those few historic, factual tid-bits that such a woman left behind. Sallie White didn’t have correspondence to catalog or a journal to give us insight to her thoughts. Instead, I wanted to tell it to readers everywhere who might never make it to San Antonio to hear it for themselves. When you read The Lady in Residence, you are going to hear the true story of Sallie White, all of it taken from a newspaper account of the time. And then, I did what all historical writers do…I folded it into my own tale and folded that tale into another.

That’s really the joy of writing a split-time novel—being able to draw back and shoot a narrative-arrow straight through the hearts of two stories, threading them together, to bring a haunting to a place of healing.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 23

Artistic Nobody, February 23 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Fiction Aficionado, February 24

For the Love of Literature, February 24

Where Faith and Books Meet, February 24

Texas Book-aholic, February 25

Mia Reads Blog, February 25

Connie’s History Classroom, February 26

Inspiration Clothesline, February 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 27

Books I’ve Read, February 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 28

Remembrancy, March 1

Bigreadersite, March 1

For Him and My Family, March 2

Hallie Reads, March 2

deb’s Book Review, March 3

Blogging With Carol, March 3

By The Book, March 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 5

The Write Escape, March 5

Life of Literature, March 6

Inklings and notions, March 6

Godly Book Reviews, March 7

Vicky Sluiter, March 7

To Everything There is A Season, March 8

Pause for Tales, March 8


To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Lady in Residence!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Jocelyn Green: Shadows of the White City

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose's violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

 My Thoughts:

Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green is an interesting story of the Chicago World’s Fair. The characters are my favorite part. They were realistic and haunting as they worked through their struggles and the hunt to find Rose. I liked that there was hints of romance between Sophie and the guy upstairs, but it did not become the main focus of the story. It was well-written and a little sweet as they slowly fell in love with each other. The plot with the hunt for Rose and working with the musicians for the Chicago World’s fair was nicely handled. I loved seeing parts of this historical elements. One downfall to the novel: I wish there was more parts of showing what the World’s Fair did to the economy and the surrounding people. We were stuck in the little bubble of the fair and Sophie’s home. Was it good because it provided jobs? What about the people hired? There was a little bit of this included with Lottie’s family. I, personally, just wanted more. It is still a delightful novel to spend time with. I believe fans of historical fiction will enjoy this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Shadows of the White City

Friday, February 19, 2021

Writing Bug

 By Kelly Bridgewater



That is definitely want makes up my character.

I have talked a number of time of how my love of reading began.

But I was thinking the other day, how did my love of writing actually start?

Well . . .

My best friend, Robin, and I used to play Imagination games all the time in her yard. It was not hard to see a mansion in her side yard. She had a tree that stood next to a chain link fence. We used to jump at opposite branches and shake them up and down. We imagined they were our horses. Her neighbor had one of those overgrown evergreen bushes that had a tunnel through it. We used to crawl through it like a tunnel out of castle as we ran for our lives. Another neighbor across the street had a tree in the front yard that had branches like a staircase as you climbed higher higher. We used to walk up it like stairs in our mansion. We played for hours with our Barbies. We played on the swing set with lava flowing under our feet. We swam for hours like mermaids in her pool.

Robin and I created our own world called Iceland where we were sent to earth to escape a horrible witch. I loved the story, and we kept playing it over and over again. Different every time that I wanted to capture our stories. I would spend hours at night when the sun went down writing down our days adventures. This was my first love of writing stories.

My writing expended.

I wrote the "original" Mighty Ducks 3 with me as one of the characters.

I wrote a Haunted Mansion story.

I wrote a play.

I wrote a Christmas story.

I wrote a story with twins. One dying in a car accident and how the other was going to survive.

I wrote three complete 300 page novels. Two romantic suspense novels.

I wrote the first half to a historical fiction story.

I was researching a World War II spy novel when my father died.

Then all my writing stopped.

I jumped both feet directly into reading and reviewing.

It is easier than trying to be creative.

But I feel the whispers of another story that I think God wants me to compose. I have started some research again.

I was explaining the story to my nineteen-year-old son, and he sounded excited. "I must read this story Mom." Which is great news from a kid who crafts fantasy stories in his own world, but does not want to read historical or mystery novels at all.


Please allow me to find the correct research and be able to compose this novel. I want the write stories that you have placed on my heart again.


Please come along side and pray that this happens too. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Kristy Cambron: The Paris Dressmaker

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couturedressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistanceand is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquartersBut when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmakerhighlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.




My Thoughts:


The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron is a World War II novel with a delightful cover that I loved looking at. As for the story, it was not actually what I was expecting. The plot line was interesting, and I really loved the idea of the Paris Resistance fighters and all the undercover work that they did during the 1939 – 1944. It was interesting and a little different than most novels I have read. It was a delight, BUT . . . the issue I had with the story was the delivery of the plot lines. I have read a number of timeslips novels and have no problem following the story. It usually goes back and forth between two heroines or heroes in two different time frames, but Cambron took two heroines and placed them in a number of different time frames. First, the reader starts out in 1944, then jumps back to 1939, then to 1943, then back to 1940. Sometimes when I started a new chapter, I would be confused as to what is going on. I would have to find whose perspective I was in, and the time period to see where we were out in the narrative. I really wished the story would have been told in a linear fashion. It would have been easier to follow. The romance sparkled and blossomed as the story progressed. The story, once I understood what was actually happening, evoked a sense of Parisian pride. Overall, Cambron crafted a wonderful story with unheard elements, which I liked, but the flip-flopping of the timeline confused me.


I received a complimentary copy of The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.


My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Purchase The Paris Dressmaker

Monday, February 15, 2021

Elizabeth Camden: The Prince of Spies

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Luke Delacroix has the reputation of a charming man-about-town in Gilded Age Washington, DC. In reality, he is secretly carrying out an ambitious agenda in Congress. His current mission is to thwart the reelection of Congressman Clyde Magruder, his only real enemy in the world.

But trouble begins when Luke meets Marianne Magruder, the congressman's only daughter, whose job as a government photographer gives her unprecedented access to sites throughout the city. Luke is captivated by Marianne's quick wit and alluring charm, leading them both into a dangerous gamble to reconcile their feelings for each other with Luke's driving passion for vital reforms in Congress.

Can their newfound love survive a political firestorm, or will three generations of family rivalry drive them apart forever?


My Thoughts:

The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden is an engrossing tale against a family feud as the main hero works on against the artificial chemicals in food. If readers have read the previous stories in this series, then they are familiar with Luke. First, as the trouble maker, then he returns as repetive toward his hurts. Of course, Luke needs the pages to tell his story and show his love story. With the introduction of Marianne, readers are introduced first hand to the other side of the family feud. She hands the dilemma in her family with grace and maturity. The romance sparkled from the first chapter with the rescuing of the dog from the frozen water. It kept growing deeper and deeper as the story moved along. As always with Camden's novels, I love her ability to dive into a historical element and make it fascinating for the readers to follow along. I love how the story captures the importance of the Food and Drug Administration. As an added bonus, Camden included a chapter at the end that features all the sibling four years later.  Overall, The Prince of Spies was an engrossing tale that I finished in one day.

I received a complimentary copy of The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Prince of Spies

Friday, February 12, 2021

Romance Couple Covers

 By Kelly Bridgewater


Valentine's Day. 

Two years ago, I did a blog post around this time for year for my favorite couples. Then last year, I did a blog post for couples that really should not have been written together. 

This year, I thought I would write a blog post that had cute romance couples on them. 

I thought this would be easy. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

Most novels feature the heroine or a setting. Some even have the hero on the cover. 

But to have both of them on the covers . . .

I didn't find many. 

So without further ado, here are the few romance couple covers that I did enjoy . . .

(All images come from Goodreads.)

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

Her One and Only by Beck Wade

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

What about you? Any covers that feature both the heroine and hero?

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Patricia Bradley: Obsession

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she's forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed.

Sam knows that he has failed Emma in the past and he doesn't intend to let her down again. Especially since her life is on the line. As the threads of the investigation cross and tangle with their own personal history, Sam and Emma have a chance to discover the truth, not only about the victim but about what went wrong in their relationship.

My Thoughts:

Obsession by Patricia Bradley is a fast-paced hunt through a buried hole in the ground. As the characters chase to find who is trying to ruin the hunt for a variety of slave graves in a national park, a killer is trying to hide something. Someone is obsessed with Emma. I enjoy novels that actually show how the serial killer is thinking as he stands by and plots different elements. It just makes the hunter a little more creepy. Maybe even allow the readers to feel a little empathic toward the hunter. In this novel, it does exactly that. At times, I shook my head at his errors, but it was nice to see how he justified what he was doing. Bradley does a wonderful job at keeping the suspense moving with a little bit of romance. With each novel, I believe Bradley keeps getting better. She is a top-notch romantic suspense author. Right alongside Lynette Eason, who I adore too. Overall, Obsession by Patricia Bradley is a great novel for fans of romantic suspense. 

I received a complimentary copy of Obsession by Patricia Bradley from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Obsession

Monday, February 8, 2021

Heidi Chiavaroli: The Orchard House

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott's historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria's betrayal changes everything.

While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa's aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa's words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan's proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband's dark side, and she can't hide the bruises that appear.

After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett's cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong. 


My Thoughts:

I have read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott when I was a little teenager. I loved the character of Jo. I scribbled all the time. I had tons of stories in notebooks. Nothing worthwhile to publish, but writing was my outlet. So when Heidi Chiavaroli wrote The Orchard House, a story that takes place at the Alcott’s home, I honestly could not wait to read the story. The story is unique, yet predictable. I adored the struggles that Victoria and Taylor, the modern day characters had to struggle with. While I was not adopted, I understand feeling alone at times. It is probably why I am an introvert. It is easier to be alone, so that you do not become hurt by others. Growing up was not the best for me. My childhood home life was not the greatest. There were moments that Chiavaroli wrote things as Taylor was a young teenager that rung so near to my heart. I feel, even today, the disappointment of not being able to write what God has chosen me to write.  This story was well-crafted and tugged at my heartstrings more than once. I will definitely have to go out and purchase a paperback copy to put on the shelf next to my Louisa May Alcott collection. This is a great story! Fans of Alcott or writing should definitely read this book. It was a wonderful way to spend my time. I highly recommend this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Orchard House

Friday, February 5, 2021

Why I Can't Stand Romance Novels or Movies

By Kelly Bridgewater

 What a title!

For the month of February, most television shows want to promote romance novels and movies. Totally understand. This is a huge business. Most movies by women and novels that are read by women are romance novels, so publishers and producers might as well cater to their biggest audience.


As for me, I can’t stand the Hallmark or Lifetime channel moves. All of their stories are cookie cutters with no difference. Yes, it is a different hero or heroine, BUT they have the same issues. Can’t trust men. Can’t afford men because they are completing career driven. Can’t love men because there heart has been broken before. Either as a past boyfriend or a father figure.


While these are true moments to life, they are usually centered around a fictional town with the perfect snow for Christmas, which never actually happens where I live. Unfortunately.


Their romance is too cookie cutter too. By about half-way through the movie or book, emotions are starting to spark all over the pages. They want to spend time together. They don’t want to spend time together. When they are together, they become an automatic klutz and things happen to create conflict between the two characters. While I do believe this can happen, I think the emotions happen to fast and allow me to doubt the cause of the emotions.


I want a realistic romance with conflict from the start of the movie.


I enjoy high suspense and thrills in my stories. My favorite movie series currently is the Fast and Furious Franchise. Tons of action. There is romance. There is suspense, but a love of family overall. Typical California setting though unless they are in a different country.


What about you? Do you enjoy romance novels? Do you do movie binges with Hallmark and Lifetime movies?


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Sarah Sundin: When Twilight Breaks

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she'll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed--and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.


My Thoughts:

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin's cover is one of my favorite covers so far for 2021. I LOVE this cover. It is a delight for my eyes and makes me want to dive into the story, which I truly did. Peter and Evelyn were strong vocal American characters stuck in the war-torn Germany with nothing to hold them back. They were trying to make a difference through writing and their teaching of the German versus English language. While the world around them changes and supports Hitler, they both realize the horrors of what is happening, and try to expose the weakness and horrors of Germany. The first half of the novel is getting to know these characters as they interact with Germany as Americans who really serve no loyalty to Germany. The second half is a predictable and overdone run for their lives story. This has happened in a number of World War II novel. Where the author shows the characters on the run from the horrors that are happening in Germany. They have to do whatever it takes to survive, and they fall in love in the process. Not that I don't enjoy Sundin's writing. Trust me. She is one of my favorite World War II writers, but the second half has been done, so I knew exactly where the story was headed before it arrived there. Sundin's writing and research is well done. Trust me. This won't make me pick up another Sundin novel. I'll keep reading them. Overall, Sarah Sundin crafted a World War II novel with action that has been seen and written before, but fans of Sundin will still enjoy the novel. At least, I did.

I received a complimentary copy of When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin by Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Purchase When the Twilight Breaks

Monday, February 1, 2021

J'nell Ciesieskli: Beauty Among the Ruins

 By Kelly Bridgewater


 Book:  Beauty Among Ruins

Author: J’Nell Ciesielski

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: January 12, 2021

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

My Thoughts:

Beauty Among the Ruins by J’nell Ciesieskli is a Beauty and the Beast retelling in the wilds of Scotland. With the familiar story playing in the back of my mind, I could see the parallels between the two stories. But this time, the story takes place during World War I. The heroine, Lilly, is a wild and crazy woman when the readers meet her at the beginning of the story. But of course, as the story trudges along, Lilly changes. She changes for the better. She wants to help others. She wants to better herself. Yet bring joy to the wounded soldiers and family. The only aspect of the story that I wished had more to it was the introduction to Lilly in New York at the beginning of the story. It was a quick flash. You are going to Europe and then the story progresses from there. As a reader, I do not understand what was so wrong with Lilly doing what she did. I wanted a couple more chapters to see this happening. Also the same thing at the ending, when Lilly was in England, I believe, dealing with the death of a cousin. A quick scene than back to Scotland. Alex, the hero, is the brooding wounded silent type. The stereotypical hero that will change and allow love to break down his walls. Predictable. Not original. The writing and the plot were well-written and captured my attention. I love the story of Beauty and the Beast. It rings true with loving people for their character, not their appearance. Overall, Beauty Among the Ruins is a must-read for fans of Beauty and the Beast or just a pure love story in a falling apart castle in Scotland. I recommend this novel to readers.

I received a complimentary copy of Beauty Among the Ruins by J’nell Ciesieskli from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Celebrate Lit. tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Beauty Among the Ruins

About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at

 More from J’Nell

Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins

Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.

 Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!

 You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather  and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, January 27

Fiction Aficionado, January 27

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 27

Wishful Endings, January 28

Genesis 5020, January 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 29

lakesidelivingsite, January 29

Reflections From my Bookshelves, January 29

Connect in Fiction, January 30

Connie’s History Classroom, January 30

CarpeDiem, January 30

Artistic Nobody, January 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 31

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 31

Where Faith and Books Meet, February 1

Rebecca Tews, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Texas Book-aholic, February 2

As He Leads is Joy, February 2

Robin’s Nest, February 2

Older & Smarter?, February 3

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 3

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 4

Remembrancy, February 4

Inklings and notions, February 4

Mia Reads, February 5

Joanne Markey, February 5

Splashes of Joy, February 5

Mary Hake, February 5

Betti Mace, February 6

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 6

For Him and My Family, February 6

She Lives to Read, February 7

deb’s Book Review, February 7

The Write Escape, February 7

Simple Harvest Reads, February 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Novels Corner, February 8

To Everything There Is A Season, February 8

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Pause for Tales, February 9

Lis Loves Reading, February 9


To celebrate her tour, J’Nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of the book and an audiobook copy of The Socialite!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.