Sunday, February 18, 2018

Book Boyfriends: Susan's hero

Interview with Lord Russell, hero of "A Match for Melissa" 
by Susan Karsten:

Susan: Dear Lord Russell, what events lead up to the moment you first appear in our story?

Lord Russell (LR): I’d been living a carousing life in London, up to no good. Then, disaster—my brother was killed, and I inherited the family title. On my way home, I was waylaid, robbed, and left for dead.

Susan: Oh my! On a happier note, what was it like when you first laid eyes on our fair heroine?

LR: She’s had to fill me in on our first moments together, because I was in and out of consciousness, and mistook her for an angel.

Susan: How romantic! When did you realize that Miss Melissa Southwood was a flesh and blood woman?

LR: Hours later when the lovely lady was nursing my injuries in a country parsonage guest room—door ajar, of course. Still angelic, but her soft, gentle hands on my brow were very real.

Susan: Has knowing Melissa changed your life?

LR: Yes, but first, God changed me. After the accident, I reached a moral rock-bottom. He used that to make me receptive to the Gospel. When I finally won Melissa, my world became all the richer because of her love.

Susan: Did the course of your love story run smooth?

LR: Not at all. By the time I recovered, and realized I was in want of a wife, Melissa was but a pleasant memory. When I returned to London, however, she was brought to my attention by a scrap of gossip.

Susan: Were you able to court her there in London?

LR: Unfortunately, by the time I threw my hat in the ring, my darling was practically promised to another man.

Susan: How then did you manage to secure her love and devotion?

LR: Through God’s providence, I was in the right place to assist Melissa at a crucial moment. My Aunt Lucy also aided my pursuit of true love. Melissa and I were meant to be.

Author Bio: 

Susan Karsten lives in a small Wisconsin town, is the wife of a real estate broker, mother of three, and grandmother of two. Her hobbies include fitness, quilting, and reading. 

Her love for writing developed while in college where she earned a BS degree in Home Economics (Apparel Design & Manufacturing), with a minor in Speech.

With child-rearing days at an end, Susan now invests time in fiction writing. With three contracted Regency historical romances, a humorous chapter book, and a cozy mystery complete, she is working on a Regency novella.

Blurb for Susan's book "A Match for Melissa": Soon after meeting Lord Russell under intriguing circumstances, while visiting in the country, Miss Melissa Southwood is ordered back to London by her father, a wealthy social-climbing merchant. 

Melissa must obey his wishes and begin a courtship with the suitor of his choosing. The chosen suitor, Lord Peter Winstead, is an impoverished aristocrat, and needs the Southwood fortune to restore his estate, but he is not an ogre. In fact, Winstead is good-looking and pleasant.

Melissa agrees to the plan, but extracts a promise from her father that she can have the final say whether to accept. As the courtship progresses, she begins to doubt the sincerity of Winstead’s faith. When she hints that she is leaning toward a refusal, Peter takes desperate measures.

Melissa must navigate these troubled waters alone … will she find her way to true love?

Buy Susan's book on Amazon

Connect with Susan:
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Boyfriends: Carrie's hero

Interview with Ben Steffans from My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Carrie: Ben, what got you interested in journalism as a career?

Ben: Growing up in Deutschland, in Germany, and then moving on to Chicago, I was interested in truth—in the truth being told.

Carrie: That’s interesting because you’re not exactly being honest with Maude, are you?

Ben: Nein, I wish I could tell her the whole truth. But, trust me, I will when my undercover assignment is over.

Carrie: What has been surprising to you about Mackinac Island?

Ben: The beauty of this place has amazed me. And the Friedlichkeit – the peacefulness.

Carrie: You’re a journalist, but anyone who has heard you play piano has described you as a virtuoso. Do you care to comment on this?

Ben: Nein. No comment. Music has caused much harm in my family. It is not my profession. Nein.

Carrie: Hmm, I don’t think I asked if music was your profession, but since you don’t care to discuss your talent, let’s move on. What did you think when you first met Maude Welling?

Ben: Ja, let’s talk about her. When I met Miss Welling, I thought she’d been hurt badly. And when I saw who she was with, I understood. I wanted to protect her. I still do.

Carrie: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ben: (Ben laughs.) Who can say? I want to be editor of the paper, but something tells me I’d have to give up much to hold that title. I turn to God and trust Him in His plans for me.

Carrie: You’re investigating a story about young men posing as coming from wealth and influence. But some are saying you, yourself, are pursuing an heiress. Is there any truth in this?

Ben: Who would say such a thing? Is it one of the journalists coming to the island for Mark Twain’s speech? It must be one of my competitors.

Author Bio: 
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of fifteen Christian historical romances, including ECPA bestsellers. 

Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper.” 

Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! 

Blurb for Carrie's book:

Journey now to Mackinac Island where...A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds.

Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel. While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders—including Maude—and he digs deep for his story.

But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

Buy Carrie's book:

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Blogs - Overcoming With God and Colonial Quills
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Friday, February 16, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: On Grief

The Blessing of Grief 
A devotional by Shellie Arnold

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 
~Matthew 5:4 (ESV) 

I met Jesus when I was only three or four years old. I grew up attending church, learning about God, memorizing Scripture. But this verse always troubled me. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Even before I started first grade, I’d been hurt by others and experienced loss. This verse in Matthew seemed to contain a Christian-speak mind game, or bait and switch scheme. If you’re mourning something, you’re blessed. “Blessed” meaning ethereal goodness was at work in your life. Or, a “blessing” was coming. Simply call loss a “blessing,” and it was, because you’re a child of God, and children of God lead only “blessed” lives.

As I grew older, I couldn’t understand or see any blessing from old or new pain, and sometimes I’d get angry about that. I’d feel betrayed and think Where’s my blessing from mourning? I was looking for the blessing, something I could hold that balanced out the pain. 

Then this year the worst betrayal and mourning experience rushed upon me and my family like a tsunami. I was drowning in grief and shock. At the same time, God began making connections and opening doors I’d been praying about for years. Years!

When I could barely move. Could hardly think. And I had a book deadline and other commitments to keep, even though I couldn’t eat. The grief seemed to melt my very bones.

I could only weep and pray, listen to worship and weep some more, as I stared at my computer and rocked, trying to be faithful to the commitments I’d made. I felt the inhale and exhale of every single breath.

Then something miraculous started to happen. When I thought I couldn’t take another breath, I did. When I thought I couldn’t type another word, I did. God placed others in my path who needed to hear something I’d learned, and He gave me the breath, the words, and the energy to share.

In that dark place, I began to understand. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” God was the blessing. His presence. His provision. The part of Him He lends us, so we can take the next breath, type or speak the next word. The power to live with and through the pain, despite our mourning.

I believe that’s the blessing of mourning. God’s Spirit being so near, so intimate, He breathes for us. He moves our fingers. He sets the words on our tongues and helps us rain them on others as we point to Him. Because one day, they will face a grief that threatens to crush them and take over their lives.

Mourning can be an experience that draws us closer to God than we ever thought possible. At least, that’s what happened to me.

Author Bio: 
Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily ever after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that.

She maintains a blog at and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources.

Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Boyfriends: Amy's hero

Interview with Chad, hero of An Unexpected Legacy by Amy Anguish:

Amy: Chad, I know you and Jessica both came from Arkansas. What brought you to Texas?

Chad: I could say it was God. That He knew Jessica’s friend would convince her to move down this way and that I needed to be here to meet her. Ha! But really, I completed my veterinarian schooling down here. When the vet I had been interning with decided he was ready to retire, I bought/inherited his practice and stayed.

Amy: What attracted you to Jessica in the first place?

Chad: I noticed her right away at the Smoothie shop. She was the only one sitting there alone. And she just kept shooting these grumpy looks our way. I wanted to know what she’d look like with a smile, so I went over to see if I could make it happen. And boy, was her smile great!

Amy: I know you have a cat, but as a veterinarian, which do you prefer? Dogs or cats?

I obviously love both. But for my lifestyle, where I’m not always home much, cats are much easier. They don’t require as much work … or as much yard … as dogs. And it’s so nice to have one curled up in your lap purring away.

Amy: Jessica teases you in the story about how you like to get things like wheat germ in your smoothies. Do you tend to be a healthy eater?

Ha! Honestly, I get things like that in my smoothies because the fruit hides the taste and I can actually get it down. Most of the time, I eat just like anyone else. Pizza and microwave dinners are unfortunately a typical weeknight meal at my place. I do cook a little, but by the time I get home, the easier and faster the meal, the better.

Amy: You and Jessica go through several ups and downs during the course of your story. What made you keep coming back for more?

Chad: She’s worth it. She’s cute and funny and fits just perfectly under my chin. And I love hanging out with her. No one else has ever … well, has ever been so right for me. I knew we had a chance at something great and I wanted to see it play out.

Amy: What’s your idea of a perfect date?

Chad: Anything with her. The first time I took her out, we played miniature golf. But it doesn’t seem to matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re together. I don’t think either of us is really a fancy kind of person, but just typical stuff like movies or dinner or bowling or whatever. Although I’m not so sure about her suggestion that we go ice-skating. My legs aren’t really designed for that kind of thing. Ha!

Amy: In your opinion, what do you have to have for a perfect relationship?

Chad: Perfect? I’m not sure there is such a thing as a perfect relationship. Everyone has ups and downs. Everyone has that one family member that makes life … not as much fun. But, we’re learning that if you keep God at the center, take your problems to Him, that helps more than anything. And just the desire to stick with it. Not give up at the first sign of trouble.

Author Bio: 
Amy Anguish grew up a preacher's kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a cat or two. 

Amy graduated with a degree in English from Freed-Hardeman University and hopes in all her creative endeavors to glorify God, but especially in her writing. 

She wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.
Book Blurb for An Unexpected Legacy:

"Smoothies brought them together, but would the past tear them apart?" 

When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it's like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Litfuse Publicity Group blog tour featuring Real-Life Romance

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way to celebrate this special day of love than with a book filled with real-life stories of romance?

So with that in mind, I'd like to welcome you to my blog's stop on the tour for Rhonda Stoppe's book, Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love!

See my review of Rhonda's book below then read on for further details such as information about the content of the book, the author bio and fun giveaway details from Litfuse Publicity Group.

Enjoy! :)

My Review of Rhonda Stoppe's book, Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love:

This was a delightful collection of real-life stories of romance, heartbreak, and hope. But most importantly, the characters in these stories show the reader how having God at the center of their romance made all the difference. God is the Creator of humankind and He has a heart filled with love for all of His children. The stories in this book show how God cares about our hearts and covers every detail of our lives. As a reader, I was reminded by these stories that God created romance so my first priority should be to seek Him and ask Him for wisdom in choosing who I should date and marry. I like how most of the people in these stories turned to God through every stage of their journey whether it included heartbreak, tragedy, pain, hope, love and other life experiences, they sought God and because of their faith in Him, God blessed these people beyond their wildest dreams.

I like the fact that this is not a fictional book filled with fairytale romance or endless happily-ever-after endings for the characters. Instead, the pages in this book are filled with real-life situations, hopes, worries, fears, dreams and plans that did not turn out how the characters expected. The stories vary in plot and structure. Every couple’s real-life romance was different in the details but one thread remained the same and that was evidence of how their faith in God carried them through tough times and blessed their hearts.

I don’t have a favorite story from this book but if I were to choose three that stood out to me the most, it would be the author’s love story, the one about the author’s daughter and the one about the fighter pilot who found romance with the feisty woman who refused a former date’s invitation for a one-night stand (she was determined to honor God by waiting until marriage to have sex).

All of the stories in this book—not just my favorites—were told in a way that captivated my heart and inspired my mind. The stories reminded me why God’s plans for us are better than ours and His way of conducting ourselves in romantic relationships are the best and much more pain-free.

The author’s sense of humor and heart for helping her readers keep hope alive for a love story that lasts is evident throughout this book. Her storytelling skills are second to none. The pacing of the stories in this book will keep you moving from page to page in a timely fashion to the point where you may finish reading it in only about five hours.

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s given up hope of finding a real romance that lasts. It’s a very inspiring read that reminded me of God’s love and encouraged me to seek His plan for every aspect of my life because He as my Heavenly Father knows best.

*Litfuse Publicity Group provided me (writer@heart) with a complimentary copy of this book, "Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love". My opinions in this book review are my own.

Blurb for Rhonda Stoppe's book Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love (Harvest House, February 2018):

Do you believe in true love?

In a world of broken relationships and hurting people, it can seem like all we ever see is heartache—that marriages are doomed from the start and romance isn’t worth the risk.

But heart-fluttering, long-lasting love is all around us…we just have to look for it!

This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Page after page, you will find inspiration to

—rekindle the romance in your love story
—trust in God’s providence and timing
—faithfully hope for your own happily-ever-after
—celebrate true romance
—believe in life-long love

Don’t let the world define romance for you! See how God is at work in the hearts of His people—knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures.

Author bio: 
Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. 

With more than 20 years of experience as a pastor’s wife, mom, mentor, author, and speaker, Rhonda uses humor and honest communication to help women build No Regrets Lives. 

She and her husband live their real-life romance in northern CaliforniaThey have four grown children and eight grandchildren.

Connect with Rhonda:

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A Special Message from Litfuse Publicity Group about Rhonda Stoppe's book and blog tour:

Whether you’re single and looking for a reason to believe in love or a parent watching your own child fall in love, Real-Life Romance by Rhonda Stoppe will inspire you to believe in life-long love. This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Don't let the world define romance for you! See how God is at work in the hearts of His people—knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures.

Join Rhonda and other real-life romancers on March 6 for a Facebook Live party, plus enter to win the Make Your Own Real-Life Romance prize pack!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • One copy of Real-Life Romance
  • A $50 restaurant gift card
  • A $25 movie gift card
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 6. The winner will be announced at Rhonda's Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Rhonda and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Movie Review: Broken & Beautiful

Recently, I saw an award-winning Christian musical film called Broken & Beautiful that was written and produced by Erin R. Dooley. I thought that it was a creative, clever and needed film. It shows audiences the inner and outer struggles of characters that are broken and need Jesus Christ to save their life. Ultimately, the characters learn how when they give their broken life to God, He can make something beautiful out of it.

This movie featured a variety of up and coming Chicago-based actors who used their gift for singing throughout the film because after all, it is a musical. Most of the songs were easily recognizable to music fans that love Contemporary Christian music artists like Tenth Avenue North, Amy Grant, Sanctus Real, Third Day and Toby Mac.

Each of the actors brings more than a unique singing voice to the movie, they deliver a convincing performance of the character that they are portraying. There’s the husband who struggles with pornography and his wife who feels that they should spend more quality time together. There’s the widower who loved his wife but starts to discover that he might have feelings for a man who is gay. There’s the fashionable woman who loves living a luxurious lifestyle but harbors a dark secret that threatens her peace of mind. There’s the porn star that wants to leave her past behind as she goes to church and learns about the One who will never abuse her body or mind. Finally, there’s the young pastor who is tempted to have an affair with a young, unhappily married woman who attends his church. Clearly, this movie has something for everybody as it speaks to real-life scenarios that people in the real world outside of movies deal with personally or have seen happen to people they know.

The stories of the characters in this movie are complex. The lines are clever and filled with emotion that’s appropriate for each scene. The setting of this movie is in a city with a focus on the personal stories of the people who attend All Saints Church. The movie deals with dark secrets, heartbreak, and pain. Screenwriter Erin R. Dooley was not afraid to tackle what the Christian community considers to be controversial issues like abortion and the gay lifestyle. Dooley not only tackles these issues but she offers tangible solutions to these situations. If anything, this movie is a great conversation starter. People from a variety of real-world experiences and backgrounds can appreciate this movie, sit around a table and talk about it.

The moral of the story, according to Dooley is that while the characters put forth their “best efforts to cover their imperfections. It is only when the characters are brought down to their knees that they find healing; that they realize that though we are all sinners, we are all called to be saints.” As a viewer of this movie, I was inspired by its poignant portrayal of the Bible-based truth we all are sinners in need of a Savior and His Name is Jesus Christ. This story wasn’t portrayed in a way that shoves religion down your throat. The storytelling is done in a way that is appealing to the audience and served with a message that should provide good food for thought to people from all walks of life.

If you need a movie that will uplift you and encourage you in your life journey, don’t miss this one.

*Reviewed by Alexis A. Goring, founder of "God is Love" blog

Devotionals for the Heart: Hospitality

The Heart of Hospitality
A devotional by Melissa Henderson

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” 
~Romans 12:13 NIV

How can I serve others and show God’s love?

Pause for a moment and think of people around you. People you know and people who are strangers. How would you respond if they needed something? A meal, a ride to the doctor or a ride to the grocery store? What if all they needed was a simple hello or a visit?

Needs come in all sizes. From major needs to minor needs, at one time or another, we all need someone. There are times when we feel comfortable asking for help and other times, we decide not to ask for help. Maybe the feeling of being a bother or that maybe someone else needs more help than we need. So, we don’t ask. We try to accomplish things on our own or just give up in despair. Maybe we are embarrassed to need assistance.

I have experienced vertigo for over 25 years. Never knowing when a dizzy spell will occur can be very scary. There is a difference between dizziness and vertigo and it is very hard to explain to someone who has not experienced one or the other.

When I was first diagnosed with vertigo, I decided to stop driving as I didn’t want to put others or myself in danger. Some people could not understand my inability to drive. I look perfectly fine on the outside. No outward signs of any illness or medical condition. Yet, my body would not allow me to enjoy activities of the past.

Not being able to drive caused me to miss volunteer meetings and special events. My husband works full time and taking time off from work every time I needed to go somewhere was not an option. He is very understanding about my condition and realizes some days are better than others for me.

Then, came the decision to ask others for help. Not wanting to be a burden caused me to postpone asking for help in the beginning. People have their own lives and schedules. Who would want to disrupt their life to drive me to appointments? Would anyone have the extra time?

Praying and asking God what to do in this situation was vital. He answered my prayers. Once I gave my worries to God, a sense of relief filled my heart and soul. I began sharing my story. As I shared, friends and strangers told me about their conditions and knowledge of vertigo. Friends learned of my vertigo and began offering rides to my appointments and activities. I only needed to ask and the request was answered. There was no need for me to be embarrassed or to feel like a burden.

What a blessing! Keeping quiet had caused me more worry. Sharing and asking for help brought peace and comfort.

Some friends even shared they were blessed through being a blessing to me. We never know when we may need to lean on others for help. God has given us blessings in those who practice hospitality.

Have you helped someone lately? Have you been a blessing? I bet you have. Pause and think of ways you can be a blessing to someone. Simple ways like smiles, waving hello, a phone call, a note in the mail, and yes, offering a ride to someone who can’t drive are all ways to show God’s love.

In His Name,

Melissa Henderson

Author Bio: 

Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in South Carolina.

Married for over 38 years, they have one son (Mike) who is married to daughter-in-love (Christine) and now are blessed by precious grandson (Rowan).

Melissa was taught the love of reading and writing at an early age from her parents. She is now working on her first inspirational fiction novel.

Her passions are volunteering, Bible Studies and reading and writing. Connect with Melissa online,