Cozy up with three of My Favorite New Releases

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you all know I am a verocious reader. As such I am on occasion given an ARC copy and asked to post a review. I am happy to do it. Recently I reviewed two new releases and Michelle Shocklee and Jennifer Lemont Leo are now on my favorite author list. The third book I read was a novella collection with one of my favorite novella authors Pegg Thomas. Below you’ find my reviews, the back cover blurb and a buy link.

The Widow of Rosehill

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of the Widow of Rosehill. I am under no obligation to give it a good review. Which made me feel comfortable checking it out. I loved the first book in the series The Planter’s Daughter. But I didn’t care for the secondary character of Natalie. She was spoiled and spineless. She is the main character in the Widow of Rosehill. Six years later with the Civil War just ended and her horrible husband dead Natalie has grown up a lot. Her focus is raising her son. Being informed by an official decree that the south has lost the war and her slaves are free was an awakening for this southern belle. I loved Natalie’s willingness to change, work alongside the slaves who decided to stay and help her. Enter an abolitionist Colonel and the sparks fly between Natalie and Levi. Each learning that the other is not the enemy. It was fun to envision the hero with a full beard. Very much in keeping with the era. Michelle Shocklee has a gift with words. And her historical accuracy brought the story to life. I stayed up too late reading it and the plot haunted my dreams until I finished it. I look forward to more books by this author.

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Widowed during the war, Natalie Ellis finds herself solely responsible for Rose Hill plantation. When Union troops arrive with a proclamation freeing the slaves, all seems lost. How can she run the plantation without slaves? In order to save her son’s inheritance she strikes a deal with the arrogant, albeit handsome, Colonel Maish. In exchange for use of her family s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. But as her admiration for the colonel grows, a shocking secret is uncovered. Can she trust him with her heart and her young, fatherless son?

Natalie Ellis is everything Colonel Levi Maish loathes: a Southern slave owner. When he and his men arrived in Texas with the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves still in bondage despite the war having ended, he feels little concern for the trail of plantation owners left in its wake without workers. But the plight of the beautiful Widow Ellis stirs to life his compassion and the heart he’d thought cold as stone after witnessing the carnage of war. While the army camps on her land, Levi finds himself contemplating a future with Natalie and Samuel. But when he learns where her husband perished during the war, he knows a life with Natalie is impossible. How could she ever forgive him for what he’d done in battle on the banks of the Bull Run?

Buy links:

 

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is the sequel to You’re the Cream in My Coffee. Sequels are not always easy to write, and they need to be every bit as good as the first one. I found Ain’t Misbehavin’ as engaging as the first book. I loved looking back to a by gone era. Jennifer Lemont Leo has sprinkled tidbits of culture, inventions and history throughout the story of Charlie Corrigan and Dot Rogers. We were introduced to them in You’re the Cream in My Coffee.

The characters struggle with their own versions of low self-esteem. Charlie was injured in World War I, feeling unworthy of any woman’s love.  Dot had a father who verbal abused her and she’s made some bad decisions leaving her convinced she is unworthy of true love. Many of the characters from the first book help frame Charlie and Dot’s story. Some giving great advice, others causing trouble. At one point I found myself saying “Oh no, Dot don’t do it.” When I’m talking to the characters then I’m totally hooked on the story.  The setting may be 1929 but the heart of the story is timeless.

I was given an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I can honestly say this well-written, well-researched novel is well-worth the reader’s time.

 

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In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Why would a strong, upstanding man want to build a future with a shallow, good-time girl like her?

Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper with no intention of settling down. She’s used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down?

Buy link

Bouquet of Brides.

This novella collection spans from colonial times to the early 1900s. Every heroine has a flower name. Every hero has to win his flower. The backdrops of each story is very different. But the basic dilemma remains the same—finding love and declaring it amidst what appears to the characters to be insurmountable odds. Nice historical research and characters to root for.

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Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?

Holly and Ivy by Mary Davis (1890, Washington State)
At Christmastime, Holly Harrison accompanies her impetuous younger sister on her trip across the country to be a mail-order bride. But even as she tries to persuade her sister that loving a stranger is foolhardy, Holly loses her own heart to a fellow traveler.

Periwinkle in the Park by Kathleen Kovach (1910, Colorado)
Periwinkle Winfield is a hiking guide helping to commission a national park. But a run-in with a mountain man who is determined to keep the government off his land may place her in great danger.

At Home with Daffodils by Paula Moldenhauer (1909, Oklahoma)
When her childhood sweetheart returns to town, will Dilly Douglas accept the worthy heart he offers, or will the old wound he opens keep them apart?

A Song for Rose by Suzanne Norquist (1882, Rockledge, Colorado)
Can Patrick O’Donnell, a tenor disillusioned by the performance industry, convince Rose Miller that that there is more to music than her dream of joining an opera company?

Beauty in a Tansy? by Donita K. Paul (1918, South Dakota)
Tansy Terrell was named after a weed. When she opens shop next door, Arthur Blake recognizes Tansy’s need to be valued as a beautiful flower but fails to see his own worth as a maker of instruments and music.

A Prickly Affair by Donna Schlachter (1885, Arizona)
A rough-and-tumble cowgirl, “Cactus” Lil Duncan longs for true love, but is afraid to let down her prickly exterior when a city slicker from New York City, with less-than-honorable intentions, tries to win her heart and her hand.

In Sheep’s Clothing by Pegg Thomas (1702, Connecticut)
Peter Maltby might be all good looks and charm, working in the new mill fulling wool, but Yarrow Fenn fears he is the Crown’s agent in disguise who will destroy the only livelihood she has.
Buy link

I obviously love Historical romance. But I do read in other genres. And I will be blogging about those in the future. If you’d love to read more reviews don’t forget to subscribe so you can receive each new post in your email.

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Best Selling Author DiAnn Mills Shares Her Secret to Bringing Characters to Life

DiAnn, thank you so much for joining me today, I love your storytelling skills. Your characters are so believable and easy to imagine in my mind as I read. That’s why I’m so excited to discuss  how you develop your characters. In Christian Fiction Magazine Online you mentioned interviewing your characters. I got a copy of your Characterization Sketch worksheet and was wowed. I could envision you sitting at your desk, pen in hand, your character standing before you morphing into shape as you fill out this very detailed sheet. Tell me how you came up with this idea.

The character sketch came after years of working through the aspect of asking myself, “What do I need to know about my character to establish motivation? How can I lay a foundation, a springboard of character development?” Years ago, I saw a similar sketch, but it didn’t provide the information needed that would go deeper. I’veadded/rephrased it many times.

Your Characterization Sketch worksheet goes beyond the typical hair, eye color, body build to more specifics such as birth order and meaning of the characters first and last name. How do you find those details helpful in developing a character?

I think of my characters as new friends, even the bad guys. 🙂 It’s all about discovering what a character will do or not do to achieve wants and needs, goals and desires. We writers don’t have twenty, thirty, or more years to develop a character, so we have to look for those things that have helped form the character in chapter one.

It is fascinating to think about describing the characters’ mannerisms, personality type, even whether he or she has a sense of humor. Do you figure all of these out before you even start writing or do some of the blanks on your worksheet stay blank while you discover things about your character as the story unfolds?

Some of the items do stay blank until I write a few chapters. I often have to see my characters in action first!

Even after using this tool to create your character, do you ever find your character not being who he claimed to be in the interview?

Absolutely. Especially antagonists. They usually lie to themselves and have no concept of truth. The saying that says, “What you do speaks louder than what you say” fits perfectly.

Are all the characters in each novel put through the interview process or is it only the main ones?

Only the main ones.  Minor characters have paragraph descriptions.

I can see how much easier this would be to create well-developed characters before actually beginning to tell their stories. Where can my readers get a copy of your Characterization Sketch?

 Readers can email me at diann@diannmills.com for a copy of the
Characterization Sketch.

DiAnn, it has been a delight to have you as a guest on my blog, Thank you so much for giving me a little of your very precious time to share your insights. Now, before you go please tell us about your latest projects.

Under a Desert Sky is a June 1 release. This historical romantic suspense is set at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico 1935.

Readers can go to my website http://www.diannmills.com/historicalfiction/48underadesertsky.shtml, view the book trailer, read the first chapter, and purchase from their favorite store.

DiAnn has a give away for this new release. Just visit her website for a chance to win.

Attracted to Fire is an October release. This romantic suspense is set in West Texas. The heroine is a secret service agent assigned to the Vice President’s rebellious daughter.

Readers can connect with me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/diannmills?ref=ts and on my website www.diannmills.com. I love hearing from readers!
Thanks so much!

http://www.diannmills.com

CHRISTY AWARD WINNER

PURSUIT OF JUSTICE – Tyndale
House Publishers – October 2010

THE FIRE IN EMBER – Zondervan –
January 2011

UNDER A DESERT SKY – Summerside
Press – June 2011