Author Spotlight -Amy Leigh Simpson

I love discovering authors who I’ve never read before. If they happen to be indie publishing their debut novel then I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

Amy Leigh Simpson was such a discovery for me. I can’t even remember how I first found her, but after reading her first title I knew I had found an author who would have a permanent place on my auto-buy list.

Simpson writes adrenaline pumping, heart rate raising, romantic suspense stories. I can’t determine which element is the most intense and surprising, the romance or the suspense. If you are one who usually guesses the villain in a mystery, you will find it isn’t so easy in Simpson’s novels. And if you like a clean but passionate romance then you won’t be disappointed.

She currently has two books published and a third one in the works for her Girl Next Door series. Learn more about this author at her Amazon author page or her Facebook author page.

When Fall Fades

Sadie Carson is an expert on unfinished business. Five years after the derailment of her dreams she’s just barely existing, using her job as a hospice nurse to give others the one thing she can’t seem to find-closure. So when her elderly neighbor Charlie, a brilliant conspiracy nut known for harassing the FBI, is murdered, Sadie suspects Charlie might’ve been onto something and intends to make sure someone solves the mystery of her friend’s death, even if it’s her.

The feisty little blonde may have found the victim’s body, but FBI Special Agent Archer Hayes has no intention of letting some nosy civilian interfere with his investigation. The guilt he feels is bad enough. The last thing Archer needs is another distraction to haunt him. Especially one as beautiful and beguiling as the girl next door.

But throw in a mountain of hoarded evidence and suspiciously coded journals and the case takes a puzzling turn toward a decades old conspiracy cover-up from World War II-one only the victim’s closest confidant can help untangle. Sadie and Archer reluctantly join forces to decode the riddle of secrets Charlie carried to his grave. Or did he? Someone is after a dangerous truth. But to uncover it or bury it is a question that leads the unlikely pair on a quest for redemption that lands Sadie in the cross-hairs of a desperate killer. And when the dangers of the past and present collide Archer must fight to save the life of the woman he’s falling for . . . only to discover he might be the one in need of saving.

From Winter’s Ashes

Hopelessly unlucky in love and a target for tragedy, Joselyn Whyte hardly leads the charmed life you’d expect of an heiress. When she becomes the mark of an arsonist, the last person she expects to ride to her rescue is her nemesis—the man who sealed her fate as a frigid and lonely “Snow Whyte.”

Firefighter Finn Carson might talk a big game, but behind the swagger and the dimples is a man tormented by a mistake that cost a life. When a force stronger than his stubbornness pulls him off the bench and into a 5-Alarm fire for a miraculous save, Finn decides the key to his redemption lies with the Ice Princess he loathes. But the price to freedom from the guilt and nightmares might be too steep if it means bartering with Joselyn’s father by posing as her boyfriend—her safety and the ruthless billionaire’s senatorial campaign hanging on the combustible edge of a decade old grudge.

When secrets from the past resurface, the ruse and reality collide and threaten to thaw their heated rivalry—turning hate into something that terrifies them even more than the cunning predator with a bent sense of justice.

Author Spotlight -Helen Argers

One of the many things I want to use my website for is to introduce you to authors and films which are not often celebrated, but which deserve to be.  That is why you will find that I am not always writing about the newest releases or the most popular author.  A good story can be found in unlikely even obscure places and I would hate for you to miss out on such hidden treasure.

Today I want to spotlight Helen Argers, author of historical romance stories. Helen has ten titles to her name two of which were written under the name Helen Archery. The majority of her books were published in the nineties with seven of them being published in the smaller mass paperback form. These paperbacks are all set in Regency England.

Helen Argers also published three titles in hardback, one of which, The Gilded Lily, is actually available in ebook form. These three books are longer and as such have more intricate and detailed plots.

I have read and own every one of her stories and love them. In fact, I often re-read them.  Her heroines are independent and fit the mold of early feminists while still remaining true to the time in which they live. One of the common themes in these books is the discovery of their own inner strength and also the taming of the hero by the heroine, which I have to admit, I kind of like. The banter and battle between the sexes is definitely a highlight of these books. There have been times I have literally laughed out loud when reading. I also appreciate that Argers stories are culturally and historically correct as well as being clean reads.

Helen Argers is one of those authors who make it hard for me to pick a favorite among her titles. I just can’t, because they are all so engaging and interesting. I am very sad that she is no longer writing new books. Argers books are a bit harder to track down, but definitely worth the effort. Apart from The Gilded Lily which I have mentioned can be purchased for Kindle here, many of her titles are available at online re-salers such as Amazon, eBay and Half.com. You can also occasionally find them in used book stores.

If you like historical novels set in Regency England with strong yet feminine and sassy heroines then I encourage you to check out Helen Argers books. Believe me, it will be worth your effort.

 

Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Authors

Today I’m linking up for the first time with The Broke and the Bookish to share my Ten Underrated/ Hidden Gem Authors. The prompt was actually for underrated books, but I tweaked it slightly just because.

  1. Sibella Giorello -I’m addicted to her Raleigh Harmon mystery series about a slightly prickly female forensic geologist with trust and family issues. The first book of the series The Stones Cry Out, is free for Kindle readers.
  2. Brandy Vallance -fell in love with her debut historical romance release in 2014 and had to wait (impatiently, I might add) two years until her next. She tells unique stories.
  3. Joyce DiPastena Medieval stories are my favorite and she certainly knows how to transport a reader to the Middle Ages.
  4. Amanda DeWees -writes what I would call gothic-lite historical suspense with a slight hint of the paranormal and great heroes.
  5. Amy Leigh Simpson -a fairly new voice in the romantic suspense genre, but one that keeps me on the edge of my seat and swooning at the same time.
  6. Nichole Van -love, love, love her light and airy time-travel romances with endearing, quirky characters.
  7. Becky Doughty discovered her this past year and have devoured almost all of her contemporary YA and women’s fiction novels about flawed, imperfect, yet brave women. Her first YA story All the Way to Heaven which has the feel of Under the Tuscan Sun, is free for Kindle readers.
  8. Heather Burch -another contemporary fiction author whose stories I have consumed. She writes broken characters so well and then redeems them in a believable way. One Lavender Ribbon is available for free Kindle download for Amazon Prime members.
  9. Chana Keefer -adore her Night with a Rock Star books. She takes a potentially cliche story and gives it surprising depth.
  10. Catherine West – another amazing women’s fiction author whose stories center around family and redemption.
  11. Mary Jane Hathaway -I have enjoyed both the Cane River Valley series (with the same setting as Steel Magnolias) and her Jane Austen Takes the South series as well as her stand-alone novels. She also writes historical fiction under the name Virginia Carmichael. Pepper in the Gumbo, her first book in the Cane River Series is currently free for Kindle.
  12. Julianne Donaldson -author of Blackmoore and Edenbrooke. The first is very Bronte-esque and the second is lighter, yet equally engaging, but more in the style of Jane Austen. I’ve been anxiously waiting for a new release for a couple of years now and continually revisiting these two excellent stories.

Okay, I know the prompt was only for ten, but math has never been my forte. Plus, I’ve never been very good at limiting myself. Who would you say is an underrated author?

 

 

Most Anticipated Books of 2017

As an avid reader I have an exorbitantly large TBR pile of books which have already been released that I plan to read. I think this list is now in the hundreds, but I don’t let that stop me from also having a list of as yet unreleased books which I desperately want to add to that pile.

Here is my partial list for 2017:

The Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden -This debut book by a new author has a contemporary story that sounds interesting. Plus, I love the cover.

True to You by Becky Wade -Wade is one of my must-read contemporary authors. She writes clean romances and this one with a genealogist heroine sounds right up my alley.

High As the Heavens by Kate Breslin -Breslin wrote one of my favorite stories ever (For Such a Time). So, I’m excited to read her latest about a nurse in occupied territory set during WWI.

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar -Afshar is my favorite biblical fiction author and this story about Lydia from the New Testament is sure to be another thoughtful and moving tale which helps me see the familiar Bible story in a whole new light.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge -I mean, its a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility set in Austin, Texas. What’s not to love?

Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green -I love historical fiction. Period. This one will introduce me to Louisiana in the 1720’s which is a time and place I can’t wait to discover.

Home by Ginny Yttrup -Yttrup writes woman’s fiction which deals with issues we all struggle with, but always with hope. Another must-read author for me.

Still Life by Dani Pettrey -The second book in the Chesapeake Valor series which will continue with the stories of three childhood buddies. Parker and his two best friends continue to search for clues to the disappearance of a fourth member of their circle as well as the murder of a family member.

Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz -Frantz is my favorite author of historical fiction and I will read anything and everything she writes.

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M White – the beginning of a new series by another author I adore. This one also happens to contain a genealogy story line. If you can’t tell, I’m fascinated with genealogy so this should be good.

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden -goodness, I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but this is another must-read author for me who writes historical fiction with strong female characters.

The Memory of You by Catherine West -I love West’s well written character studies of ordinary people confronting life’s challenges and their own failings.

By Your Side by Kasie West -I fell in love with Kasie West’s contemporary YA stories. They are fun, light reads.

Firstborn by Tosca Lee -The sequel to The Progeny, an addictive tale about the descendants of a female serial killer, which I could not put down. I am so excited for the conclusion to this edge of your seat thriller.

Rebel Tide by Lara Hays -I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the finale in the Oceanswept trilogy. It looks like it might end up being more than that as the author intends to release Rebel Tide in two parts. I cannot wait to read the rest of this YA pirate story.

New Releases by:

Susan May Warren -Warren is a prolific author and I have read and loved the majority of her books. These are books two and three in Montana Rescue series.

Jody Hedlund -I have never read a Hedlund book I didn’t like. Of course it helps that she writes in my favorite genre, historical fiction.

Julianne Donaldson -originally her newest book and first contemporary, Lost in Scotland, was supposed to be release at the end of 2016. Now, I’m just hoping it will be available in 2017.

Nichole Van -writes sparkling time-travel romances which I devour as soon as they are available. I can’t wait for the next book in her latest series about triplet brothers with supernatural abilities in the Brothers Maldetti.

Tamara Leigh -Medieval romances are my favorite sub-genre within historical fiction and Leigh is one of the best authors in this field. Word is that she is working on an additional novel about a favorite supporting character in her Age of Faith series!

Book Year in Review

This has been a very busy year for me as a reader.

Although my Goodreads account says otherwise, according to my personal count I read around one hundred books. One hundred! While I claim to be a voracious reader I even shocked myself with that number. This is even more surprising when I realized that I also watched about the same number of films. I obviously had more free time than I realized.

So without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top ten favorites this year:

The Lady and the Lionheart -This is not only my favorite read this year, but is going on my top ten favorite books that I’ve ever read. The compelling and redemptive story of a tender hearted lion tamer and the sweet nurse with a tragic past who helps him care for an orphaned infant is one which has haunted me in a good way even months after I finished the book. I’m not the only one who loves their story. It’s getting rave reviews, so do yourself a favor and buy it.

The Progeny -Tosca Lee has always written fascinating stories and this one about gifted descendants of one of the most allegedly prolific female serial killers in history is a real thriller. It’s mystery and fast pace ensured I couldn’t put it down and I can’t wait for the sequel. I love how Tosca has a way of writing about notorious historical figures and making you see them from a different perspective.

The Price of Privilege Series -Yes, it is more than one book, but it is only one story.  Julia Elliston finds herself thrust into a totally unfamiliar world of wealth and politics, woefully unprepared and uncertain who to trust. Her journey and the people who influence her life are the closest allegory to the Biblical story arc that I have ever read. Every detail, no matter how small, matters and all the individual threads are finally woven together in the end creating an explosive and heart rending ending. I have recommended this series to everyone I know.

The Girl From the Train-This is the first of South African Irma Joubert’s novels to be translated to English. This book follows a WWII orphan and her savior across Europe and into South Africa. I love reading stories set in different countries and have never read one like this.

 

The End of the World-Amy Matayo is one of my must read authors and her novel about two  foster kids whose relationship over the years helps sustain them was difficult to read and yet extremely impacting. This one made me uncomfortable, but it is a necessary discomfort.

 

Rochester, A Memoir -For the Jane Eyre lovers out there, this is the familiar story from Rochester’s point of view. I appreciated seeing some of the things that annoyed me about him from his perspective. It gave me a better understanding of his character.

 

Undertow & Oceanswept -These two are part of a YA Trilogy about a privileged young woman who is captured by pirates and falls for one of her captors. I couldn’t help getting addicted to this feisty character and am waiting impatiently for the conclusion of the series.

 

Journey’s End -This is one I picked up on a whim, not expecting much and was surprised how much I liked it. A poor English girl, moves to America with the intent of revenging herself against the rich father she believes abandoned her.

 

Flowers from the Storm -I try to limit my reading of general market romances. But I loved the unusual premise of a mathematically brilliant duke who ends up in an insane asylum and the prim, Quaker woman who helps restore him to sanity. This was originally published in 1992 and is very well known so I’m pretty late to the party.

 

A Chance for Sunny Skies -This rom-com which follows an overweight woman who decides to change her life after a near death experience was a nice surprise.

 

 

The Captive Heart – Okay, I cheated, but I couldn’t leave out this story of an indentured Englishwoman who finds herself married to a backwoods stranger who may or may not have murdered his first wife.

Runners Up: The Waylaid Heart, Gladly Beyond, The Glass Mermaid, The Wood’s Edge, Mistress of Tall Acre, Attachments, Told You Twice, All Who Dream, I’ll Be Yours, When Fall Fades, Love’s Shadow, A Twist of Faith, Baron of Blackwood, Lady Undaunted, Three Wishes and the list goes on.

In addition to discovering new stories this year, I also read books by at least forty authors who are new to me. I have listed a few of my favorite new discoveries.

  1. Becky Doughty -She has been my favorite author discovery this year. I liked her YA series The Fallout, and was charmed by her sisters series The Gustafson Girls.
  2. Eva Ibbotson -Her books were contemporary at the time she wrote them, but are historical fiction at this point. Most of her adult stories revolve around once wealthy emigres from Austria who find themselves adjusting to new lives in England thanks to WWII.
  3. Kara Isaac -Contemporary author from New Zealand whose books are themed around famous classic authors (Tolkien, C.S. Lewis).
  4. Irma Joubert -wrote one of the books on my top ten list. South African author whose books are slowly being translated to English.
  5. Kristi Hunter -debut author who has a Regency historical fiction series.
  6. Lara Hays -another author whose books made my top ten list. I am currently stalking this YA author on social media for news of her next release.
  7. Rainbow Rowell -I know she’s been around a while, but I just discovered this writer of quirky contemporary tales.
  8. Susanna Kearsley -another author with many books already under her belt. I love how she mixes historical and contemporary timelines and adds supernatural elements.
  9. Eryn Scott -After reading A Chance for Sunny Skies (on the list above) I have bought and read most  of her other books. Sunny Skies is still my favorite.
  10. Penny Reid -writes contemporary romances with the most fascinating unexpected characters. I devoured her backlog of books and particularly fell in love with Beauty and the Mustache (who doesn’t love a male hero who writes poetry and is still a manly man?!) Warning: These books are not clean reads.
  11. Julianna Deering -I’m not the only reader who likes her lighthearted mystery series set in 1930’s England. For fans of classic film, think The Thin Man.
  12. Liz Johnson -Any lovers of Anne of Green Gables out there? You will like this author’s contemporary romance series set in Prince Edward Island which is equally charming.

Honorable Mentions: Amanda Dykes, Crystal Walton, Heidi Ashworth, Rachel McMillian, Caroline Lee, Poppy Lawless