I am pleased to welcome author Josephine Blake back to Modern Jo March, this time to talk about her fabulous new release, A Brush with Death. For those of you interested in the full length interview I did with Josephine, where we discussed her writing process, her books, authors that have influenced her, and more, you can check it out here. This time around, we got together because I desperately wanted to talk to her about her recent project, A Brush with Death, so without further ado, here we go!
*****Spoilers alert! If you haven’t already read this excellent book, you might want to hold off on reading this interview! *****
MJM: A Brush with Death takes a different direction than your other novels, marking your first official foray into the Historical Gothic genre. What made you decide to write a gothic novel?
Josephine: Honestly, I’ve always strayed towards the darker, creepier aspects of storytelling. My first love of fiction as a child was horror novels, and I still read them to this day. What better way to celebrate that love than to combine those darker elements with the romantic tales that I love just as much?!
MJM: That’s interesting! And you did it beautifully, by the way. This book is so unique, what was the inspiration/thought process behind the original idea of this story, which essentially humanizes Death?
Josephine: Oh, thank you! I don’t know where the idea came from. Maybe from that creeping sensation that we all get? The one where we feel like we’re being watched when no one is around? Combine that with my tendency to pity the villain in any story, and WAM, here’s Death, who is still my favorite character that I have ever written. :)
MJM: Ah, yes, that’s so cool that you picked up on that sensation and used it to your advantage! By the way, I’ll never think about that creepy sensation of being watched in the same way! Death is that you? ;) I admit that Death is probably my favorite character that you’ve written so far too! There’s just something about him…
I love the fact that A Brush with Death is a romance story at its heart. I find it so original and intriguing that you made Death itself/himself the love interest. How in the world did that come to be? What was the inspiration behind it? I mean, you actually made Death rather desirable, that’s no small feat!
Josephine: Well, I believe that every person, no matter how good they are, has a darker side to them. My goal in writing Death was to create a character who wore every bit of darkness inside of him proudly, for all to see. Death isn’t ashamed of what he is, he’s blunt, honest, and to the point. He knows what he is and what his place is in the world. I wanted to take him and reverse that divide between good and evil. Death is more ashamed of the GOODNESS inside him, rather than the darkness. He’s the direct opposite of a human being.
MJM: Speaking of evil, the story takes place in 1888 London, during the reign of terror of Jack the Ripper. What was the reasoning behind this particular setting? Was it because you intended to feature Jack the Ripper from the start or did that come later?
Josephine: I’ll admit, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure where this story was taking me. Originally, I had it set in Georgia, and I was planning to drum up a sort of “murder mystery” theme. Then my husband and I went to England. During one of our tours, we touched on the tale of Jack the Ripper, and my mind exploded with ideas. It was awesome!
MJM: What an amazing twist of fate! I think the whole Jack the Ripper plot really brought it all together, made it even darker and highlighted Death’s role.
That twist near the end came out of left field for me. I can usually figure out how the story is going to end before the book is done, but I did NOT see that whole last part coming. Was that twist, Michael being Jack the Ripper, planned from the start or was it formed as you got deeper into the writing of the story?
Josephine: Nah. Michael was the bad-guy from the get go. I needed some way to REALLY involve Isabel in the mystery and the thrill of hunting down Jack the Ripper and so… Enter Michael. ;)
MJM: So I have to ask, will there be more books along the lines of A Brush with Death?
Josephine: YES! A Brush with Death is the first book in my Hands of Fate series. Each of the following stories will be standalones with a single thread that ties them all together. Can you guess what it will be?
MJM: I can’t wait! This series will definitely continue to be on my radar, you’ve got me hooked now, and to think I’ve never been a fan of the darker stuff! Hmmm, is it Jack the Ripper? Maybe other “beings” like Death?
Josephine: I’m far too much of a tease to give you that answer. ;) Let me just say that fans of Isabel and Death’s story will be in for a delightfully, twisted ride.
MJM: Darn it! Well a girl has to try, haha ;)
Regina Jennings recently released the second installment in her Fort Reno series. Bound and Determined is featured in the novella collection, Hearts Entwined, which also features novellas by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, and Melissa Jagears. The story follows trooper Bradley Willis and Ambrosia Herald on a very unique adventure, and will keep you interested through to the end.
As punishment for his recklessness, Private Bradley Willis is sent on an errand to help a retired cavalry officer move a herd across Indian Territory. No one told him the herd would be camels instead of cattle, nor that the officer's headstrong daughter, Ambrosia Herald, would seem to be trying to undermine the whole enterprise. He's definitely been saddled with more than he's bargained for.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. The camels were an interesting and unique twist. I have to say that this was the first Historical Fiction book that I’ve read that featured camels. I found it quite fascinating. Jennings’ did a superb job handling the unusual plot, and making the camels come off so personable, each possessing a personality of its own. My only complaint is that I would have liked a bit more “future” for Bradley and Amber, BUT it is a very small complaint and obviously I understand that we can’t get a whole series out of one book. I hope that there will be more installments in this series and that we get to see Bradley and Amber's relationship grow and deepen! I also hope we get to see how Amber's parents and the camels fare in the future. :)
Overall, it was an enjoyable and delightful novella. I highly recommend this collection.
You can grab the Hearts Entwined novella collection here.
I’m extremely excited to welcome author Karen Witemeyer to Modern Jo March. I’m so thankful that she took time out from her busy schedule to do an interview with me. I have been a big fan of her books for several years now and I’ve always said that my bucket list for this blog would be to get an interview with her… And now it’s happening! So thank you, Karen!
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Karen Witemeyer, her books have consistently hit bestseller lists and have garnered awards such as the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award. On top of that, she is a multiple RITA and National Reader's Choice finalist. She has penned the Archer Brothers series, A Worthy Pursuit, Full Steam Ahead, and the Ladies of Harper’s Station series, among many other wonderful stories. So, without further ado, here is my interview with the very talented Karen Witemeyer.
MJM: Hi Karen! Welcome to Modern Jo March! I always like to start off by asking authors where they are from. I know you currently live in Texas, were you born and raised there, or are you a transplant?
Karen: I'm a transplant from California. I came to Texas in 1989 to attend Abilene Christian University, met my husband, and not only did we never leave Texas, we never left Abilene. We both work for ACU now, and my daughter is a junior here. My oldest son will be a freshman here in the fall, as well. Our blood runs purple.
MJM: Awe, that’s cool! Having lived there for so long, do you have a favorite spot/area in Texas?
Karen: Does home count? Ha! Being home with my family is my favorite place. After coming from California with mountains on the horizon, ocean views, and real trees, the scenery is not what keeps me in Texas. It's the people. Southern hospitality, godly values, frontier spirit—all of these wonderful elements still pervade the culture here. That's what I love most about Texas. Although the sunsets are pretty spectacular.
MJM: Ha! Yes, home most definitely counts, after all, “Home is the nicest place there is.” I’m based in Upstate NY, so I’m also used to mountains, hills, woods, and trees. Was it a bit of a “culture shock” moving to Texas?
Karen: Yes. Being so far from home was difficult at first as an 18-year-old, but it challenged me to become independent, introduced me to a great group of friends (my future husband among them), and gave me plenty of school work to keep me distracted. Although, even after more than 25 years, on the rare occasion we get a low-hanging fog bank, I imagine the clouds are actually mountains on the horizon.
MJM: All of your books take place either solely or mostly in Texas, so it’s safe to say that Texas has had an influence on you. Do you find it more interesting, fulfilling to write stories set in a place that you are so familiar with?
Karen: Even though I'm not a native, Texas is my home. It's where my children were born and raised. It's where my heart resides. And because it's such a large place, there is no shortage of settings to utilize for my stories. Being here does make it easier to research. Even though the majority of my research is done online, there have been times when I've driven to the place where I am setting my story to take pictures and get a feel for the landscape. I'll never forget when I was writing Head in the Clouds and decided to take a detour through Menard County on my way home from a conference. I had imagined Gideon Wescott's sheep ranch to be about 10 miles outside of town, so I took a little Farm & Market road and drove 10 miles. I pulled over and couldn't believe my eyes. There, behind the barbed wire fence were sheep! It was meant to be.
MJM: Oh my goodness, that’s truly providence for you!
One thing that I love about your whole body of work is the fact that the stories are diverse and unique. They may all take place in Texas, but each novel and novella has their own unique plot and characters. Has it been challenging to come up with new plot ideas, or does that come more naturally to you?
Karen: YES! The more books I write, the harder it is to come up with ideas that feel fresh. I pray a lot. I am not a naturally creative person. I don't have a dozen ideas running around in my brain at a time. I have one. And I cling to that one with all my might and pray that when the end of that story comes, the Lord will provide another. Thankfully, he continues to do so, like he did for the widow who kept pouring oil until all the vessels she found were filled. There may come a day when my last vessel will be filled and the oil will stop, but for now, I'll keep on pouring and thank him for his provision.
MJM: That’s so interesting. Most people immediately assume that authors are naturally creative and therefore find it easy to come up with stories, but for some it’s more of a developed habit rather than an instinctual impulse. I like you’re likening it to the widow and the oil! That’s such a beautiful way to look at it.
A question I always like to ask authors is, have you always had a passion for writing or did it develop over time?
Karen: I've always been passionate about story, but for most of my life that passion was focused on reading, not writing. I was a book worm as a kid, bringing stacks home from the library and hiding in my room to devour them. However, I never really considered writing my own. I would daydream stories, so I guess I had an element of that creative process lurking deep inside, but I was never one to keep a diary or journal. I didn't write stories except for the ones required in school. As I grew older, I started thinking that maybe someday I would try my hand at writing a book, but there were always other things to consume my time. College. Work. Kids. Then when I was a stay-at-home mom with three pre-school children, my husband found out that his job was being eliminated. Panic set in. I needed to help contribute to the family income, but I didn't want to leave my kids. I know, I'll write a book and make lots of money right away. Ha! Well, my estimate on both counts was off by a mile, but God used that crisis moment to awaken the dream he'd planted in me. Within a few months, both my husband and I were working full-time for the university, my in-laws were watching the kids, and I was learning the craft of fiction writing. Six years later, I signed my first book contract and the rest is history.
MJM: That’s interesting! I was the same way, a voracious reader and always daydreaming up stories in my head, but it never occurred to me to write them down until just recently. It’s truly amazing how God works, isn’t it?
As a writer myself, I’m always curious about how authors go about writing. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Karen: My writing process is different from many authors. I write one very slow, careful draft. That's it. Just one. But I constantly edit and polish it as I go. I send chapters off to critique partners as I finish them and incorporate their feedback. At the outset, I need to have a firm grasp of who my characters are and what the main story problem is. I like to have an idea of about 3 major plot events that will help propel the story along, but I don't actually outline. I just carry it all in my head. Before I start writing, I send off a detailed synopsis to my editor for approval, and if he has feedback, I adapt accordingly. I keep a loose timeline document as I write to keep track of what happens when and how much time passes over the course of the story, and I have a few notes about character appearance and a listing of character names, but I don't use story boards or extensive worksheets. I just don't have the time. Since I write so slowly, I need all the time I can get for the actual book. Instead of daily word count goals, I have weekly chapter goals – one polished chapter a week. Since my books tend to be between 36-40 chapters long, I try to allow 40 weeks for a full-length novel and 10 weeks for a novella. With 52 weeks in a year, you can see that leaves very little time off. My characters live solely in my head, they aren't based off of real people, though sometimes I ask my Posse Facebook friends to submit images of people who they think would match my character descriptions. These photos don't help me a lot during the writing stage, but they are wonderful for passing on to my publisher when the time comes to select a cover model.
MJM: Through this interview feature, I have found that every author has their own, unique process. I find each one fascinating. I am a member of your Posse Facebook group and remember that time well. We had so much fun! Plus, it’s always a thrill when your favorite author lets you in on the process. It’s truly a delight.
Now, before I go any further, I HAVE to talk about A Worthy Pursuit, simply because it’s my absolute favorite book from your catalogue and one of my favorite books period. Can we talk about Stone?! My goodness is he swoon worthy. ;) How did he come to be? What was the inspiration behind his character?
Karen: With A Worthy Pursuit, I actually had the heroine figured out first and designed the hero to be her perfect man. After watching her father cheat on her mother and experiencing her own suitor's perfidy, Charlotte had lost all faith in men. So creating Stone was my gift to her. Someone who would be patient enough to pursue her as long as it took, someone steadfast and honorable. Yet at the same time, I needed conflict between them, so what could be better than making him the man sent to apprehend her after she abducts/rescues the children in her care? Oh, and I just couldn't resist making him a larger than life dime novel hero. Someone too good to be true, so she'd be even less likely to trust him.
MJM: It certainly was a brilliant bit of creativity! I know I certainly fell in love with him! ;) I grew up on John Wayne movies and old westerns, so the whole dime novel hero definitely appeals to me. Another aspect of the book that I particularly loved was the dialogue.
As is the case in all of your books, the dialogue is witty and funny. You have perfect timing with your injections of comedy, wit, and sarcasm. I literally laughed out loud at the “gnome” remarks (to himself) from Stone in the beginning of the book. Does writing dialogue come easily to you or do you actually have to work at it?
Karen: Sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes it's like pulling teeth. The key for me is to let myself get absorbed into the character whose head I am in, and let the dialogue flow from that place, not from me, the author. This is particularly tricky when writing the male POV. I'm a natural explainer and like to use lots of words (shocking, right?), but men, especially the rugged cowboys I write about, tend to be more of the strong, silent type. So, I have to fight the urge to be verbose and instead be concise and pithy with them. Where I would ramble, they'd grunt and be done. Ha!
MJM: That’s a good point! I’ve always wondered how female authors, like yourself, manage to write the male POV so realistically and believable, it definitely takes a certain talent.
MJM: You have a true talent for writing/developing characters who are attractive, relatable, and approachable. Your male heroes are handsome and attractive, yet they aren’t fake and they don’t feel like fantasy. You make them feel approachable and relatable by giving them flaws and idiosyncrasies. Some examples that immediately come to mind would be Levi from To Win Her Heart and Malachi from No Other Will Do. They break the mold of the formula romance hero, which is refreshing. Speaking of breaking the mold, let’s talk about Amos from Heart on the Line. I feel like he broke the mold more than the others have. He could be classified as a “nerd” hero. He’s not the typical cowboy, but proves that you don’t need to be tall, outrageously handsome, and built in order to win the girl. Who or what was the inspiration behind this particular character and plotline?
Karen: The theme verse for this novel is 1 Samuel 16:7 – “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I've been a romance reader since my teen years, and I love swoon-worthy, alpha-male heroes. Yet I think the romance genre as a whole skews the ideal man a little too much in that direction. I have a 19-year old daughter away at college, and when I think of what I want her to look for in a potential mate, good looks and swagger don't make the top of the list. It's so much more important to look for deeper character traits like godliness, kindness, a sense of humor, and steadfast dedication even when times get tough. So in this story, I turn the usual romance ingredients on their heads. The hero prefers bicycles to horses, wears spectacles, and is a 19th century technology nerd (hmmm…rather like my husband, come to think of it). He doesn't match the fantasy my heroine has built up in her mind about the man on the other end of the telegraph wire, but she soon learns that looks can be deceiving and that a mad of godly character is one to be treasured.
MJM: Now that I think back over all of the books that I’ve read within this genre, that’s very true. Up until I read your novel Full Steam Ahead, and then of course, Heart on the Line, I hadn’t come across a book featuring a male hero that didn’t follow that same formula. I agree that the genre needs some more balance between the macho, alpha male hero and the non-alpha hero. As much as I love a good alpha male, cowboy type, I’ve also enjoyed the other types as well! A good man is a good man, no matter the outer package.
I have enjoyed your Ladies of Harper’s Station series right from the beginning. I’ve always wondered, when writing a series, is there a point in the process when you figure out which characters will be more prominent than the others? Did you have an idea of how it would all end from the beginning? Or did you have to walk through the series yourself, in order to figure out how it would end?
Karen: Since I write so slowly, it is hard for me to carry a long series and maintain momentum with readers since they have to wait 6-12 months for the next story. In fact, when I first started writing, my publisher steered me away from series because books 2 and 3 rarely sell as well as book 1. So, most of my series have been short, usually just two full-length novels with one or two novellas thrown in the mix. The Archer Brothers were my first, and that was easy to know when to end. As soon as I ran out of brothers. Ha! The Ladies of Harper's Station had potential to offer many more stories since all the ladies in town were unattached, but I didn't want readers to lose interest. So, I picked the characters with the most compelling stories to tell and focused on them. I cheated a bit in Heart on the Line and worked in two romances instead of just one, but as that series comes to a close, I feel good about the ladies I highlighted.
MJM: I just recently finished reading the last installment of the series, The Love Knot, which is featured in the novella collection, Hearts Entwined. I have to say, I was sad to hear that it would be the last book in the series, but after reading it, I find I am happy and satisfied with the conclusion. How did the Hearts Entwined collaboration come to be? I know you have collaborated with Regina Jennings and Mary Connealy twice already with the novella collections, A Match Made in Texas and With This Ring?, and you’ve collaborated with Melissa Jagears twice with With This Ring? and With All My Heart. Did that history of collaboration have anything to do with this recent project?
Karen: Yes, we knew that we worked well together and that we had similar styles, so when I decided to write Claire's story, I immediately reached out to these ladies and asked if they would like to collaborate. We decided to link our stories by theme and not by geography or time period and had a lot of fun working in the entwined theme. Each of our stories has some kind of imagery dealing with tangles and knots. My story, The Love Knot, plays on that idea several ways—there are actual embroidery threads that become tangled when Claire and Pieter interact and later come to represent a bond between them that cannot be untangled or broken. There is also a tie-in to the Celtic love knot of Claire's heritage.
MJM: Can we talk about your upcoming projects? As I mentioned before, I am a member of your Facebook group, The Posse, so I do know that there are at least two upcoming novels. I’d like to talk a bit about the first one, More Than Meets the Eye, which is already up for pre-order. Can you tell us about More Than Meets The Eye? How did that story come about?
Karen: I wanted to bring together a set of siblings in an unusual way and use them as a base for a series. I remembered reading a series of books by Julie Garwood back in the 1990's based on the idea of a group of street boys who find a baby girl in the garbage that someone had thrown away. They take this baby under their wing and move out west for a fresh start. They change their last names to Clayborne and call themselves family. That sparked the idea behind the Hamiltons in More Than Meets the Eye. Evangeline, Seth, and Zacharias are all orphans on one of the orphan trains sent west to find homes for children. Each of them has been rejected for different reasons. Evie has mismatched eyes, Seth is sickly, and Zach wants no part of family, so he scares off any potential takers. When their train derails, tragedy binds them together and they decide to make it on their own. They take on a new name and leave the wreckage to become their own family. Life is hard, though, and choices made in desperation have consequences they couldn't have foreseen. And when the piper demands to be paid, the only thing that can save them is love.
MJM: That sounds like yet another not-to-be-missed story! I look forward to reading it when it comes out! I’ve already pre-ordered it, so I’ll be not so patiently waiting until June. ;)
This is the part in the interview where I like to ask you a few questions from your readers. I recently posted a query in The Posse group asking your readers what burning questions they had for you. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many interesting questions! So here are a few:
• Catherine would like to know, “Do your characters ever talk to you outside of writing? Like when you’re out and about and you see something, does a character’s voice/thoughts pop into your head? If so, do they talk to you even after you’ve finished the book?”
Karen: Unlike many authors, I don't actually hear character voices. I think it's because I'm a left-brained writer instead of a right-brained one. Or maybe it's just because I'm bossy and won't let them out of their box unless I'm working. I do sometimes get ideas for plot points when I'm not actively writing. Car rides and walks in the neighborhood can be great for generating ideas. I don't usually get inspired by someone or something specific I see, it's more of having the chance to quiet my mind that allows new ideas to take root.
• Megan would like to know, “How much say do you have in the cover art of your book and in the marketing of the book?”
Karen: My publisher always asks for input at the beginning of the process—physical descriptions of the hero and heroine, the setting, any images I have regarding clothing or actual people to represent my characters. They also take input from me about what might make a fun cover. The covers for Head in the Clouds and Short Straw Bride were based on my ideas, but most of the others came from the creativity of the Bethany House Art Department. Once I give my information, the Art Department takes over, and I rarely see anything until the publisher decides on the final result. Sales, marketing, design, and editorial all weigh in. Editorial makes sure the cover matches the story; sales makes sure it is a cover that will appeal to retailers; marketing makes sure the cover will appeal to readers; and design ensures the high artistic standards are maintained. Once they show me the finalized cover, I'm allowed to give feedback, but I rarely get to change anything. With the upcoming cover for More Than Meets the Eye, they actually gave me a choice between two covers, which was wonderful! I selected the one I preferred, and they went with that one. I felt so empowered. Ha!
• Stacy would like to know, “What advice would you give to aspiring authors?”
Karen: Work hard, be patient, and cultivate a tough skin. There is a lot to learn about the craft of fiction. Don't look for short cuts. Put in the work, and you'll eventually reap the rewards. Publishing is a very slow business, so learn to be productive while you wait. Send off your queries and proposals, but start working on your next book, too. Finally, be prepared for criticism. It hurts to have your work picked apart, whether by critique partners, contest judges, editors/agents--but if you learn to set aside the emotional defensiveness and absorb the comments with objectivity, your work will be stronger for it. Even as a multi-published author, I still have to deal will all these criticisms including the added level of reader reviews. The tougher your skin, the more likely you are to learn from past mistakes and become a better author.
• Darcy would like to know, “What’s your favorite of the books you’ve written?”
Karen: That's a tough one. It's like asking a mother to pick between her children. She can't! Each one is special in its own way, but if I were forced to pick, I think I would choose either To Win Her Heart (Levi Grant was just special, and the entire plot of that book came together in a way that could only be Providence) or Heart on the Line (since the hero was directly inspired by the delightful nerd heroes in my own life).
• Lynne would like to know, “Is there a historical period you’d like to write about that you haven’t touched yet?”
Karen: I really enjoy reading regency novels and might like to try writing one someday, but for now, my heart and my brand is late 1800s Texas, so I think I'll stay here.
MJM: Before I bring this interview to a close, I would like to thank you, Karen, for taking the time to chat with me and answer my questions. I have had such a blast with this interview. It was a dream come true to be able to pick your brain about your writing process and your books. So thank you so much for joining me!
Karen: Thank you for having me!
As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and that includes Karen Witemeyer’s wonderful Ladies of Harper’s Station series. I have thoroughly enjoyed each installment in the series, and I was sad to hear that The Love Knot which is featured in the novella collection, Hearts Entwined, was going to be the last book in the series. I tend to get super invested in a series if I love it, so it’s always hard to say goodbye to the characters. BUT I will say that The Love Knot will not disappoint you. It ties everything all up, so you’re not left scratching your head and dissatisfied.
When her troubled younger sister sends her an unexpected package by rail, Claire Nevin’s orderly life is upended by the gift and the man who delivers it. Fighting to hold on to all she has built, will Claire lose what matters most?
The Love Knot not only features Claire’s story front and center, but also gives us wrap ups of the others’ stories. We find out more about Malachi and Emma, Ben and Victoria, Grace and Amos, and Helen and Lee. We get to walk with Claire as she navigates a huge shake up of her life and as she finds her way back to love, all the while enjoying the antics of the other characters.
I found the ending perfect. I was wondering how Witemeyer would end it all, especially the big question about the future of the women’s colony, and she answered it beautifully. I highly recommend this whole series….. and then go read the rest of her catalogue. ;)
As most people know by now, Karen Witemeyer is one of my absolute favorite authors. I own all of her books to date. I’m a big fan of her writing style. There hasn’t been a story that she has spun that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. Her latest release is no exception. Heart on the Line, which is the third installment in her fabulous Ladies of Harper’s Station series, is truly a heart-warming, delightful read. It immediately draws you in with mystery and intrigue, then keeps you there for the two romantic plots, and holds you captive until the end because you just have to find out how it all turns out. Will both of the romantic plot stories pan out? Will the mystery be solved?
Grace Mallory is tired of running and hiding from the past that still has a grip on her present and future. When an old-friend sends a telegraph warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has found out her location, Grace believes that running once again, is her only way out. After all, she can’t let the villain who she suspects of killing her father to release his wrath on Harper’s Station, the all women’s colony that has been her safe haven.
Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.
Heart on the Line continues the story of the Ladies of Harper’s Station series and prominently features the quiet, cautious Grace, and the distrustful, man-hating (for good reason) Helen. The all women’s colony of Harper’s Station acts as a safe haven for women running from abusive and troubled pasts. The colony gives women a fresh start and helps them to be independent….. Though this all women’s colony seems to be welcoming a few men into their midst. ;) First there was Malachi Shaw who now acts as the Marshall of Harper’s Station, who won over the independent and spunky banker/co founder of the colony, Emma. Then came freighter Ben Porter, who eventually won over the general store owner, Victoria. And now, not one but several men end up at the station unannounced and all with different motives. For a colony who use to frown on male visitors, it sure seems to be bursting at the seams with them. ;) But who is trustworthy, and who is the villain?
As usual, I truly enjoyed this story. The writing is thorough, detailed, and imaginative. The plot is well developed, intricate, and creative, and the characters are down to earth, real, and totally relatable. One thing that I love about Karen’s books is that each features a positive message. These stories all have Christian themes and usually use scripture to reinforce those themes. Another thing that each of Witemeyer’s books feature is excellent, witty dialogue. I just love the way she handles each character’s thoughts and expressions. I also love that Heart on the Line features an unlikely hero and proves that you don’t have to have chiseled features, big muscles, and be the usual “cowboy” type (which I’m not knocking, believe me, I love me some cowboys!), in order to get the girl in the end. Quiet, thoughtful, sensitive guys can get the girl too. ;)
I highly recommend this book, and the whole series. You can read the books as standalones, but I recommend reading them in order, simply because I think you’ll follow and understand the stories deeper if you start from the beginning.
For my first review of the year, I’m actually reviewing a book I read in the last part of 2017. Due to the holiday schedule, I wasn’t able to sit down and do a proper review before now. Josephine Blake recently released her latest book A Brush with Death, in October. The gothic novel takes place in 1888 London, during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. When I saw a few people talking about it as the release day got closer, I thought at first that it wasn’t really up my alley. I’m not usually into darker stuff, and have never ventured into the gothic genre. I don’t like scary period. BUT, I started reading the snippets of the novel that Josephine had shared on her Facebook page, and I was immediately drawn in and hooked.
A Brush with Death is unique, fresh, intriguing, exciting, and positively enchanting. The whole concept of meeting and interacting with Death as if it/he were human is actually pretty cool, at least in the way that Josephine writes it. I was immediately drawn in and hooked as soon as I started reading the book. I ended up staying up late in order to finish it in one sitting, and by the way, I did not see that twist at the end coming!
I just found out that A Brush with Death is the first book in what will be a series, which I’m super excited to hear and I can’t wait for the next installment to come out. I look forward to seeing what direction the next book takes and what it will be about. In the meantime, I highly recommend A Brush with Death, you will definitely not be disappointed.
If I had to describe this book in one word it would be: Intriguing.
Grab the book here: http://a.co/1xZEXgi
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....