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Tuesday 8 May 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

Destitute and grieving, Louise Garner and her beautiful Mexican daughter in law, Rosa, return to Texas and the ranch she called home only to discover that an insurmountable amount of back taxes are due if they wish to retain the property.

Determined to do what she can to assist her disbelieving mother in law, Rosa soon discovers that the vivaciousness and directness that comes naturally to her culture is not always appreciated by the citizens of Caldwell County, Texas.  Scrambling not to offend her mother in law, Rosa despairs as she tries to understand and mimic the customs of the ladies who look upon her with suspicion and even derision.

Weston Garner, a wealthy rancher and nephew to Louise, notices Rosa's beauty and effervescent personality but is disinterested in pursuing any initial attraction he might feel.  Riding himself hard with regret over his wife's death, Weston does not intend to place a woman at risk again.  As Rosa tires of humiliating herself in front of Louise's reserved and somewhat aloof nephew and lives in fear of a neighbour with unsavoury intentions, Louise prompts her to take action in a way that surprises her and changes her life forever.

Regina Jennings' Sixty Acres and a Bride is an excellent debut novel and aside from taking a few chapters to settle into a good rhythm, it is hard to imagine this is Regina's first published work.  Loosely based on the Biblical story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, rather than a retelling of the story, there is much for historical romance readers to enjoy.  Weston and Rosa are both heartfelt characters, driven by the joy and torment of their pasts and what they imagine for their futures.  Cultural differences, deeply held fears and plenty of misunderstandings make this an emotional and engaging story of faith, family, love and healing.  Regina's talent with words tells of Rosa and Weston's incandescent attraction with authenticity and respect.  Readers of Rosslyn Elliott, Elizabeth Camden and Kathleen Morgan will want to look up Sixty Acres and a Bride.

With thanks to Bethany for my review copy

As seen at

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character Spotlight on Rosa & Weston
Visit Regina's website and blog
Buy Regina's books at Amazon and Koorong

Monday 7 May 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Kathy Herman's Sax Henry & Zoe Broussard

Kathy Herman completes her Secrets of Roux River Bayou with Relentless Pursuit, available now from David C Cook


Rich with the Cajun flavors of south Louisiana, this final book in the Secrets of Roux River Bayou Series is a story of what it means to find true peace in an uncertain world.
Sax Henry left home at seventeen to escape his father’s abuse, leaving his mother and sister to fend for themselves. Now, twenty-eight years later, both parents are dead, and guilt compels him to find his sister and make peace. His search leads to Les Barbes, Louisiana, where authorities fear a bio-terrorist has injected cyanide into juice cartons and fresh produce at the grocery store. People are dead. It’s not safe. Sax stays, fearing death less than living another day without peace. A divine appointment is about to change all that forever.

Enjoy meeting Sax & Zoe!

Background for the Secrets of Roux River Bayou Series

I’m a Texan, and Louisiana is my next-door neighbor. With all that colorful Cajun culture nearby, I thought it would be fun to set a series there. So I set out on a road trip to south Louisiana with my husband, Paul, and drove from town to town, snapping pictures, sampling delicious food, and making copious notes. But somewhere along the way, I came to realize that this unique little corner of America evolved after a period of terrible persecution. That once upon a time, the British had ordered the forced removal of every last Acadian from what is now Nova Scotia—because they wouldn’t renounce their Catholic faith and become Protestant. And wouldn’t swear allegiance to the British flag and take up arms against France. A third of the Acadians died in the process. The mass exodus was eerily like what we later imposed on Native Americans in the Trail of Tears. Thousands o f these displaced Acadians ended up in south Louisiana, where they began to recreate themselves. Once I understood the faith and fortitude that sustained these proud people, writing the stories in this series became much more personal for me.

Sax Henry

Physical Description

Sax is nice looking, average height and weight, dark hair and eyes. Five-o’clock shadow. He looks younger than his forty-five years. Just a little rugged—a look befitting a saxophone player.

Actor/Famous Person

I think Ben Affleck (see attached picture) might be a good fit to play the part of Sax Henry. This is always a hard call for me because I “feel” my characters more than I actually picture them.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Sax is kind and sensitive and respectful. He has learned to use music as a way to release deep emotion. He’s also determined. That determination is what has enabled him to survive with the pain that resulted from his violent upbringing and choice to walk away from it. It’s also determination that compels him to find his sister, Shelby, even though he knows she might not want anything to do with him.

Sax is also moody, unsure of himself, and guilt-ridden. He feels like a loser for leaving his mother and sister to fend for themselves. His inferiority complex is not an attractive quality. He is bitter toward God and openly hostile about spiritual things.


I’m not sure if this qualifies as a quirk, but Sax has kept the ashes of his parents in two urns in his closet. His feelings about them are so conflicted that he can’t decide whether to scatter them in the gulf or in the landfill—so he does neither.

Inspiration for the character

Since book one, Sax’s sister Shelby (who has changed her name to Zoe Broussard) has struggled to reconcile her past, specifically with her brother, whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to since he left home at seventeen and left her to deal with their abusive father. I wanted to create a brother who would be a catalyst for bringing that healing to fruition in this third and final book. I needed Sax to come to the realization that it’s impossible to find true peace and be at odds with the Prince of Peace. I need him to see that his being reconciled to his sister was a “God” thing.

Background for the story

Sax Henry was born Michael Austin Sieger in Devon Springs, Texas. He grew up with a father who was a violent drunk and a mother who pretended he wasn’t. He left home at seventeen to travel with his rock band, leaving his mother and thirteen-year-old sister, Shelby, to fend for themselves. He immersed himself in his guitar-playing and went back to Devon Springs several times to try to convince his mother to leave his father and take Shelby to a women’s shelter. She wouldn’t. After that, Michael cut all ties with the family. He eventually changed his interest to jazz and learned to play the saxophone, after which he changed his name to Sax Michael Henry. But Sax never found peace. He was haunted by the undone business in his life. Now, twenty-eight years later, after three failed marriages and both parents dying, Sax is desperate to find Shelby and make peace. Whatever it takes.


Zoe Broussard

Brief Physical Description

Zoe Broussard is 41, attractive, cropped chestnut hair and blue-gray eyes. She’s average height and weight. Bubbly personality. A real people person.

Actor/Famous Person

If I were choosing someone to play her, I would choose Sandra Bullock. (See photo attached) They seem to have similar physical features and an infectious personality.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Zoe is friendly; bright; entrepreneurial and organized. She is the founder of Zoe B’s Cajun Eatery, which she began twelve years earlier and continues to operate with husband, Pierce, who is head chef. She’s a devoted wife and a loving mom to their two children, Grace (4) and Tucker (1). Zoe has a soft spot for senior adults and has “adopted” three older gentlemen who hang out at the eatery and play checkers, as well as a woman she once worked for who has become a mother figure.

Because of her abusive background, Zoe struggles with abandonment issues and shame. She’s still not entirely comfortable in her own skin. Her newfound faith has helped immensely, but part of her still thinks that if people knew who she really was they would reject her. Her “adopting” people to care for is an unconscious attempt to fill the emptiness that has resulted from her dysfunctional background.


I guess if Zoe has any quirk it’s her obsession with being a few pounds heavier than she wants. She’s always trying to present a perfect facade—again, part of her struggle to get comfortable in her own skin.

Inspiration for the character

Zoe Broussard has evolved over the three books in this series. In this last story, I used her to help demonstrate the central theme, which is what it means to find peace in an uncertain world. The story is based on a Bible verse: Psalm 34:14: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Zoe realizes that forgiving her brother and being reconciled is the only right thing to do.

Background for the story

Zoe Broussard was born in Devon Springs, Texas as Shelby Sieger. Abused by her alcoholic father and left vulnerable by a mother who turned a blind eye, she left home when she was of legal age and never went back. Shelby changed her name to Zoe Benoit when she started Zoe B’s Cajun Eatery and to Zoe Broussard when she married Pierce. She has forgiven her parents, though she has no desire to go home and see either of them or to make contact. The one person in her life, who broke her heart and that she just can’t forgive is her brother, Michael. He was the one stable, loving person she could turn to, and he left home at seventeen leaving her (then thirteen) and her mother to fend for themselves. Zoe has not seen Michael in twenty-eight years, and it would be fine with her if she didn’t see him for another twenty-eight. She has no idea that he has been searching desperately for her.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character Spotlight on Adele Woodmore
Visit Kathy's website
Buy Kathy's books from Amazon or Koorong

Friday 4 May 2012

Getting to know Dineen Miller

Please share a little about yourself

I’m a disciple of Christ, wife to a techy guy who’s a disc golf fanatic (he’s awesome!), and mom to two grown daughters (18 & 22) who I have the pleasure of watching grow up into young women of faith! My oldest is engaged to be married to a wonderful young man who’s a believer. Yeah, proud mama, that’s me.

I’m also part of the ministry, which Lynn Donovan started in 2006. She and I are the coauthors of Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage. I’m also the author of The Soul Saver, my debut novel that just released this week!

And I’m a speaker. I love sharing the truths in God’s Word and how they apply to our lives, giving us strength, wisdom and freedom.

Butcher, baker, candlestick maker...I’ll stop there. ;-)

What appeals to you most about writing fiction?

Creating characters who struggle with their life and faith. Digging deep into what motivates them to make the choices they do and watching them grow through the process and consequences. I find the psychology of it fascinating!

This is your first novel ~ how does it feel to have it in readers’ hands?

Unbelievable! This week has been such an adventure and a blessing I never expected! I’ve been doing a fair amount of online marketing and interacting with readers this week and it just blows me away when someone tells me they bought or ordered my book. It’s very humbling to think they’re using their time and money to read something I wrote. That’s huge. I wish I could reach through the screen and hug every one of them.

Name five things you can’t live without (no need to take this too seriously!)

Coffee, unfrosted strawberry Poptarts, my iPad (which includes my Bibles and my current writing project), my Acorn slippers, and diet soda.

Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show

Now this one is tough!

Book? I’d have to say the Bible because it’s the only book I read over and over again.

Movie? Captain America! But that may change by next month. LOL! Up until recently it was Julie & Julia. Food and writing. Doesn’t get better than that.

TV Show? Either Castle or Once Upon a Time. Love the twists and turns of both. And they’re both about writers and stories. I think I have a one-track mind. Rel, what do you think?

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

Switzerland. Lived there for three years. Beautiful and full of adventure.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A graphic designer who also designed book covers and an author. I’m blessed to have done both!

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

These two seem to consistently surprise people: I have two grown daughters—I guess I don’t look my age, thanks to good genes! And my husband is an atheist, but we are madly in love and thanks to how God has worked in me, my marriage and my faith are thriving.


The Soul Saver

Meet Lexie Baltimore, who is in the supernatural battle of her life. In obedience to God’s calling, Lexie uses her art and dreams to help others. But will she have enough courage to help herself when she becomes torn between her atheist husband and a godly man?

A widower and a father, Pastor Nate Winslow is drowning in darkness. Will he resist his treacherous assignment to win Lexie’s heart, or give in to the attraction between them?

As events unfold, Lexie becomes entangled in a twisted plot. Can she overcome the evil assailing her, or will she yield to the dark side?

What/whom inspired you to write The Soul Saver

My faith and my life. LOL! I wrote The Soul Saver to compliment my nonfiction book, Winning Him Without Words, which is for the spiritually mismatched. I mentioned my husband is an atheist but we are very happily married and thriving despite our spiritual disconnect. The eerie part is that as this book developed, some of what I wrote about played out in my family.

When I started writing the story in 2009, it was just a glimmer in my heart and mind. I knew the basics. I knew Lexie was a believer. I knew her husband, Hugh, was an atheist and a physics professor at Stanford University. And I knew they’d lost a child to a brain tumor.

With a short synopsis and the first few chapters in hand, I went to a writers conference that September to pitch the story to some editors and see what kind of reaction I would get. I went home without any doubts that I was to write this story. Not because of anything said by an editor, but because God made it clear that was His plan.

Here’s where it gets a little “strange.” About two weeks after I got home, we found out my youngest daughter had a malignant brain tumor. We were sent to Lucille Packard (love the folks there!) for her surgeries. Her radiation treatments were to be done at Stanford Hospital, which is attached to Lucille Packard AND Stanford University.

Because of where the tumor was located, my daughter’s radiation treatments had to be designed so as to treat the area and not bombard the rest of her brain and eyes. This treatment was carefully designed by a physics professor at Stanford University.

God-bumps anyone?

And all the weeks we were driving back and forth to the hospitals became my research for the book. Can you believe it?

Your book is a mixture of women’s fiction, supernatural and suspense! How did that interesting combination come about?

You know, that was a total surprise to me too. I started writing this story, thinking Tobias was the pastor’s friend and mentor. But suddenly he revealed he was quite the opposite! I’ll never forget sitting at my computer and writing out the scene where he kind of gives himself away unintentionally. I got chills. Had to stop and pray, “God, are you sure about this?” LOL! Then I knew the spiritual warfare would be crucial to the story because I can tell you from experience, there is A LOT of spiritual warfare in mismatched marriages. We, the believers are on the front lines praying and battling for our unbelieving spouse. We tend to make the enemy mad a lot. :)

Share a little about your main characters

Lexie is a believer and a sculptor. God wakes her in the night with visions of a place she needs to go (when He tells her it’s time) but then she has to go into her studio to create the face of the person she’s supposed to help. It’s a process.

Hugh is Lexie’s husband, an atheist and a physics professor at Stanford University. He’s a really nice guy, a good dad to their son Jeremy, but really struggles with Lexie’s faith at times.

And then there’s Nate, the pastor of Freedom Church. He’s a tortured man, having lost his wife and nearly lost his daughter. A bad choice in a panicked moment of grief cost him his faith and his peace. He’s now a pawn in an evil plan to destroy Lexie’s marriage so that Hugh will remain an atheist.

Describe The Soul Saver in five adjectives

I can’t be objective here so I pulled them from some of the reviewer: Relevant. Life-changing. Spine-tingling. Compelling. Heartwrenching.

Please share a favourite paragraph from The Soul Saver

This is from a scene where Tobias, our demon in human form, is giving Nate his assignment and is in Nate’s POV:

Yeah, like he really believed that. He’d sealed his own fate. Saving Samantha had been worth it, right?  

Only since Lexie had shown up did he ask that question.  Stupid just didn’t fit the bill. He picked up the folder, flipped it open. More pictures filled a page with information to go with each one. “I had no idea hell was so organized. You’re like a CIA for the damned.”

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

My hope is that they’ll either be encouraged because they’re spiritually mismatched or that they’ll have a better understanding of what it means to be mismatched, because chances are they know someone who is. And I hope anyone who reads it is entertained but also encouraged to see that God is so very present and real all around us ALL THE TIME! He’s always there loving and helping us more than we ever could imagine.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Visit Dineen's website and blog
Buy Dineen's books at Amazon or Koorong

Thursday 3 May 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Dani Pettrey's Cole McKenna & Bailey Craig

Dani Pettrey's debut romantic suspense, Submerged, the first in her Alaskan Courage series is available now from Bethany House and it's fabulous!


 A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers. 

 Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town...until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear. 

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case. Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. 

Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

Enjoy meeting Cole & Bailey!

Brief physical description

Bailey is 28 years old. She’s 5’7 and graceful in build. She has blue eyes and amber hair.

Cole is 29 years old. He’s 6 foot tall with a lean athletic build. He was modeled after a surfer so picture a surfer’s fit and sculpted physique and you’ll have Cole. He has green eyes and sandy blond hair.

Actor/famous person

Bailey: Think Katherine Heigl

Cole: Think Bruce Irons

Strengths and weaknesses

Bailey is intelligent, a hard worker, she loves learning and she has an incredibly tender heart beneath the stoic exterior she tries to exude.
Cole is dedicated, protective, loving and comfortable in his own skin. His weakness: Bailey Craig :)

Quirk (if any)

Bailey: She bites her bottom lip when deep in thought or when she’s nervous.

Cole: He’s more at home beneath the water than above it.

Your inspiration for the character

Bailey: Bailey made a lot of mistakes growing up and so did I. In some ways, Bailey and I share a similar background, in other ways we are completely different. I wanted to show how lost someone could be to give up such a loving relationship (like she had with Cole) for a string of meaningless ones. I also wanted to show how God can take the raw and broken pains of our past and make us whole in Him.

Cole: This really ties in with the background to the story, but I watched a movie about cave divers and I was fascinated. It got me thinking what type of person would pursue something so dangerous and highly skilled for a living, and Cole McKenna was born. I fashioned him, at least physically, after surfer Bruce Irons.

Background to the story

It all started with the cave diving movie. Once I had Cole and his siblings, I wanted the perfect setting for all their adventures. I settled on Alaska because it’s gorgeous, ripe for adventure and there’s an inherent risk of danger if you aren’t properly prepared for the extreme conditions. From there, Cole and Bailey’s story unfolded.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Interview with Dani
Author Alert @ Relz Reviewz
Visit Dani's website and blog
Buy Dani's book at Amazon or Koorong

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Wish You Were Here by Beth K Vogt & US Giveaway


Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after?
Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom. 

Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancĂ©’s trust lead to a true happily ever after? 

Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead. 

My take:~

Beth K Vogt's debut novel will tickle your funny bone just as easily as it will thrum your emotions as Allison Denman takes an uncomfortable journey to discover what truly matters in her life and faith.  Beth's writing style is engaging and fresh, her characters very true to life, struggling with rejection, bruised emotions, guilt and confusion.  Witty and poignant, Allison, Seth and Daniel's story generates both laughter and compassion as they muddle their way through their complex responses to the choices they make and as well as those made for them.  I adored Daniel, became frustrated a time or two with Allison and Seth and became totally invested in the outcome.  While the romantic outcome was anticipated, it comes at a cost that in most stories is hidden or played down and it was refreshing that Beth did not shy away from those emotions.  Beth's voice is nothing short of delightful and I am already highly anticipating her next story.

With thanks to Howard for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Interview with Beth
Visit Beth's website 
Buy Beth's books at Amazon or CBD
Learn about the Debutantes' Story Soiree Book Launch

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert


Like the winter, grief has a season. Life returns with the spring.

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her teen years in a trailer park. An unexpected interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa.

Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace that she’s not even sure exists?

My take:~

Apparently Katie Ganshert is a debut author ~ she could’ve fooled me! Wildflowers From Winter is an incredible novel from a young woman with a very bright future ahead of her. Tender, insightful and moving, this is the story of up and coming architect Bethany Quinn with a mountain of hurt buried deep in her heart, which threatens to overflow when she is summoned back to her childhood home. Katie plumbs the depths of human grief, childhood desertion, family dysfunction, religious bullying and sacrificial friendship through Bethany’s journey, uprooting pain and unforgiveness to release joy and healing. As Bethany prepares to sell her surprise inheritance, Evan Price struggles with his anger and attraction to the woman who is causing havoc with his future plans. Their relationship develops naturally from genuine dislike to fledgling feelings then deep attraction that neither will allow to soften their hearts. Bethany’s friendship with the grieving Robin is also beautifully told and a reminder of the importance of our friendships with women. Katie has penned a beautiful romance, one to rival Denise Hunter at her best, with an authentic spiritual journey that will bring tears of both compassion and joy to readers. Discovering Katie Ganshert’s writing will be one of my highlights for 2012 and I can’t wait to see her writing career blossom from here.

With thanks to the author for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Interview with Katie
Katie's Author Alert
Visit Katie's website and blog
Buy Katie's book at Amazon or Koorong

Sunday 29 April 2012

Trauma Plan by Candace Calvert


Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to her former duties as an ER nurse. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.

My take:~

While Candace Calvert once again gives readers a sigh-worthy hero and an appealing leading lady, she also packs an emotional punch in her first Grace Medical series that may require your own trip to the ER! Championing community clinics and the health professionals that sacrifice lucrative careers to run them, Candace gives readers a fast paced suspense novel with substance and soul. Jack is great character, dedicated and devoted to the homeless people he serves but with a temper that can damage his cause and pulls him from the trap of being the perfect man. Riley’s determination to work her way back into trauma nursing following a devastating injury is incredibly moving and oozes authenticity, no doubt from Candace’s personal experience with her own past severe injury. Trauma Plan will have your heart racing as the story unfolds and is well worth the eighteen month wait. Thankfully Rescue Team (working title) is not so far away!

With thanks to Tyndale for my review copy via NetGalley

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of Critical Care, Disaster Status & Code Triage
Character spotlight on Nick & Leigh from Code Triage
Character spotlight on Scott & Erin from Disaster Status 
Character spotlight on Logan & Claire from Critical Care
Visit Candace's website and blog
Buy Candace's books at Amazon or Koorong

Friday 27 April 2012

Getting to know Olivia Newport

It is my delight and privilege to introduce you to Olivia Newport, one of four 
delightful debutantes whose books are officially releasing this May.  

Look for a series of upcoming interviews, character spotlights, giveaways and 

reviews on my blog highlighting Olivia, Dani Pettrey, Katie Ganshert and Beth Vogt 

along with some spectacular news regarding the....

Debutantes' Story Soiree - coming May 15th. 

Four books. Four authors. One EPIC event! Stay tuned for more info!!

Please share a little about yourself
I live in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies with my husband and two twentysomething children who are all welcome distractions from the people stomping through my head into my books. Though we have Illinois roots, we love the beauty and temperate climate of Colorado.

What appeals to you most about writing fiction?

I’ve spent more decades than I’m going to specify devouring fiction. This has conditioned me to see story in every experience or setting I encounter. Writing fiction gives me the chance to process all that in a way that hopefully will connect with readers. In some ways I’ve been training for the release of my first novel for years.

How did you celebrate when news of your contract broke?

That’s a good question! I honestly don’t remember. I hope it was something fun!

Name five things you can’t live without (no need to take this too seriously!)

Avocado, sugar snap peas, the redeeming marvel of small children, a Brazilian hammock, and bacon-wrapped dates

Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show

I don’t usually settle on favorites—there are so many great stories out there. Right now I am enamored of PBS’s Downton Abbey, partly because the world it creates overlaps with the world of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Does that count as a TV show and a movie?

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

I once stood on the balcony of a palace in Nepal that dated to the 1600s and stared at the Himalayas. Quite close up, I might add.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer. Always. And that’s the truth. I just wasn’t brave enough to try for many, many years, so I pretended I was an editor.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I will chomp into a fresh red pepper like it’s an apple, and don’t try to stop me.

I love audiobooks! That way I can redeem the time I spend doing necessary but uninteresting (to me) tasks.

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

What/whom inspired you to write The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?

My friend Stephen Reginald decided to train as a docent in the Glessner House Museum, which is right in his neighborhood in Chicago. He immediately saw the potential for a story setting and challenged me to write, while he supported the effort with onsite research. I was smitten immediately.

Share a little about your main characters

Lucy Banning is a young woman whose wealthy family expects her to live a life befitting her status. Lucy has other ideas. While it’s true she does some sneaking around, her heart is always in the right place. Will Edwards, an unlikely architect, is grateful for friendship and opportunity—and the possibility of love. Against the backdrop of the 1893 world’s fair, Lucy and Will find each other.

Describe The Pursuit of Lucy Banning in five adjectives

• layered

• faithful

• incarnational

• compelling

• enriching

A favourite paragraph or scene from The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

I think I’d have to post a spoiler alert to answer that question. I’ll just say that I still find myself sighing with satisfaction late in the book when Lucy takes charge during a crisis and other people finally see what she is capable of accomplishing when she is allowed to put her compassion to work.

What kind of readers do you think will enjoy your story?

Fans of historical fiction will find the story richly faithful to the era. Curious readers will discover a neighborhood brimming with Chicago history.

Connect with Olivia
Author Website & Blog:
Preorder Olivia's books: Amazon or Koorong
Relz Reviewz Extras
Visit Olivia's website and blog
Buy Olivia's books at Amazon or Koorong 

Thursday 26 April 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Rachel Hauck's Charlotte, Emily, Daniel and Tim

Rachel Hauck's acclaimed novel, The Wedding Dress, is now available from Thomas Nelson.


Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can't she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim? 

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new-shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been "redeemed." 

Charlotte's search for the gown's history-and its new bride-begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte's heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

Enjoy meeting Charlotte, Tim, Emily & Daniel!

Photo: Alexx Henry/2009 Crown Media
Brief physical description

Charlotte – Dark. Olive skin, hazel eyes, dark hair.. Famous actress might be Jennifer Esposito from Blue Bloods.

Emily – fair,, brown hair. Has a pompador. Young Greer Garson

Daniel – dark hair.. Can’t remember his eyes. Think Robert Wagner when he was young!

Tim – Taylor Kitsch. Nuff said. ;)

Strengths and weaknesses

Emily is strong enough to stand up for what she believes in and confront social norms and racism. But not quite strong enough to defy her father and marry the man she loves. At first…

Charlotte can dress any bride but herself.

Daniel loves Emily but gives up too easily. Yet, he’s a man of honor.

Tim can’t quite grow up until he realizes he might lose the love of his life.

Your inspiration for the character

Inspiration came from all over the place. The dress had to be a central point of the book so I worked at creating characters that would understand and define the gown.

Background to the story

I’d gone to Nashville for a girl’s weekend and we got to talking about weddings and wedding dresses. Something in the conversation triggered my creative juices and I was off in story land dreaming of a hundred year old wedding gown and all of the possible “what ifs.”

This book just seemed to write itself. It’s a rare for idea hit fast and stick but I knew The Wedding Dress would be a book. I pitched it to my editor a few days later and she was sold on the idea as much as I. I’m glad. I love this story!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of Dining with Joy, The Sweet By and By, Love Starts With Elle, Sweet Caroline and Diva NashVegas
Interview with Rachel
Visit Rachel's website
Buy Rachel's books at Amazon or Koorong

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