Meet Our February 2017 New Releases!

Technically, these are January books because they released on the 31st of January, but we’re celebrating them this month. Between their pages you’ll find murder and music and mystery and everything in between! Just for fun, I’m sharing a fun fact about each title so you have the inside scoop. To read an excerpt of each novel and see if it’s a good fit for you, just click on the cover!

King’s Blood by Jill Williamson

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Quick Look: After the foretold destruction of the Five Realms, the remnant that escaped by sea searches for a new home. As the king’s health worsens, Sâr Wilek assumes command and struggles to rule the disjointed people, while assassination attempts and dark magic endanger his life. One prophecy has come to pass, but another looms in the future: Who is this Deliverer?

Behind-the-Scenes Trivia: This is officially the longest novel Bethany House has ever published! (At least until Book Three releases…)

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

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Quick Look: Despite her training as a master violinist, Rebekah Carrington was denied entry into the Nashville Philharmonic by young conductor Nathaniel Whitcomb, who bowed to public opinion. Now, with a reluctant muse and a recurring pain in his head, he needs her help to finish his symphony. But how can he win back her trust when he’s robbed her of her dream?

Behind-the-Scenes Trivia: The Stradivarius violin in the novel that is (fictionally) owned by Adelicia Cheatham, is currently owned in real life by violinist Anne Akiko Meyes. Tamera listened to her music often while writing.

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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Quick Look: Work hits too close to home for crime scene photographer Avery Tate when her best friend disappears. The only lead is a chilling photo of her—apparently dead. As Avery, her ex-boss Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the case, she’s forced to confront her feelings for Parker when they come face-to-face with a dangerous criminal.

Behind-the-Scenes Trivia: Many of the locations in the story can be found in real-life Baltimore, including the Fells Point neighborhood, a favorite of the Pettrey family.

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

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Quick Look: When mysterious incidents begin occurring on a moor in Yorkshire, an old friend begs Drew for help. At first it seems to be simply bad luck—fires started, livestock scattered—but then the vicar is murdered. As danger closes in, Drew and Madeline must determine what’s really going on and find the killer before it’s too late.

Behind-the-Scenes Trivia: Julianna insists that Aidan Turner, star of Poldark, looks just like her character (and mystery suspect) Rhys Delwyn. Imagine that!

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, what’s the best romantic novel you’ve read in a while?

January 2017 New Releases…and a Quiz

Welcome to a new year and the “book birthdays” of several great titles! For something a little different, I’ve made up a quiz to match you to one of our January new releases. From rugged and dangerous to relaxing and quaint, the settings of our January books are sure to break you out of your ordinary routine. Let us know what result you got! And, as usual click on the book covers below to start reading an excerpt.

quiz

Amish Weddings

by Leslie Gould

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Plot: Rose Lehman has always known who she wants to marry: the bishop’s son, Reuben Byler. But then Trevor, the handsome Army buddy of her future brother-in-law, visits Lancaster County, and Reuben starts to seem dull by comparison. When the thrill of adventure begins to fade, will Rose find happiness—or ruin her best chance at love?

The Mark of the King

by Jocelyn Green

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Plot: After being unjustly imprisoned for the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the French colony of Louisiana in 1720. She marries a fellow convict in order to sail, but when tragedy strikes—and a mystery unfolds—Julianne must find her own way in this dangerous new land while bearing the brand of a criminal.

An Uncommon Courtship

by Kristi Ann Hunter

an-uncommon-courtship

Plot: After a night trapped together in an old stone keep, Lady Adelaide Bell and Lord Trent Hawthorne have no choice but to marry. Dismayed, Adelaide finds herself bound to a man who ignores her, as Trent has no desire to connect with the one who dashed his plans to marry for love. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?

In the Shadow of Denali

by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

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Plot: Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, a wilderness guide, work at a prestigious new hotel outside Mt. McKinley. John’s new apprentice, Allan Brennan, finds a friend in Cassidy, but the real reason he’s here—to learn the truth about his father’s death—is far more dangerous than he knows.

The Perfect Gift for Book Lovers: December 2016 New Releases

As you glance at our December new releases, you may well find yourself asking: were red and green intentionally dominant colors on these lovely covers? (The answer is no, but hey, it works!)

Or you might just find yourself asking how you can get ahold of one as soon as possible because they look so good. (You’d be right on that one!)

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Here’s a quick overview and sneak peek at each title. Click on the cover if you’d like to read an excerpt.

For the Record by Regina Jennings

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Main character: Betsy Huckabee, a curious and charming writer in small-town Missouri.

Plot: Betsy Huckabee dreams of being a big-city journalist, but first she has to get out of Pine Gap. To that end, she pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages of a distant newspaper, using the handsome new deputy and his exploits for inspiration. She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but no one from home will ever know. . .

Recommended as a gift for: Readers who love witty dialogue, fast-paced romances, or Western settings.

Other people say: “This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining storyline. . . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.”—RT Book Reviews

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

I could see either of these cute, old-fashioned-but-still-fun holiday designs fitting For the Record.

I could see either of these cute, old-fashioned-but-still-fun holiday designs fitting For the Record.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

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Main character: Jane Bell, a determined and gracious noblewoman-turned-innkeeper.

Plot: The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane, becomes the reluctant owner. With a large loan due, can Jane and her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, find a way to save the inn—and discover fresh hope for the future?

Recommended as a gift for: Anyone who appreciates BBC series, Jane Austen, or fascinating characters.

Other people say: “Klassen launches a heartwarming new series set in the Regency era that delivers everything fans of gentle historical-romance novels could ever want, including a beautifully realized English village setting, a memorable cast of characters, and charming hints of love for more than one of the residents of Ivy Hill.”—Booklist

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

Something about this just said "classy British read" to me.

Something about this just said “classy British read” to me.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

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Main character: Cole “Tox” Russell, a loyal and courageous paramilitary group leader.

Plot: When an archaeological dig unleashes a centuries-old virus, paramilitary operative Cole ‘Tox’ Russell is forced back into action. With the help of archaeologist Tzivia Khalon and FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox searches for answers—and becomes entangled in a web of deception. As the team races to stop a pandemic, a secret society counters their every move.

Recommended as a gift for: Men or women who enjoy pulse-pounding thrillers.

Other people say: “Kendig keeps the tensions high and the pace lightning fast, with military action scenes worthy of Vince Flynn. Especially noteworthy is watching the character development of elite modern warriors forced to confront and accept ancient history, faith, and supernatural power. Kendig fans will love this opening novel in her new series.”—Publishers Weekly

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

Black because secret operations and danger...and is that mistletoe? Because Tox does have a heart of gold.

Black because secret operations and danger…and is that mistletoe? Because Tox has a heart of gold.

Are you hoping for any books this year for Christmas? Which ones? (I put To Kill a Mockingbird on my list, because I realized to my shock I didn’t actually own a copy.)

Introducing Our November 2016 New Releases

The two Bethany House titles that released this week have vastly different settings, themes, and genres, but they have one thing in common: I can recommend them both to readers who enjoy a great story. Want to give them a try? Click a cover to read an excerpt.

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Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

Summary: When U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan is assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD, she’s forced back into contact with her father and into the sights of a notorious gang. Mercy’s boss assigns her colleague—and ex-boyfriend—Mark to get her safely out of town. But when an ice storm hits and the enemy closes in, can backup reach them in time?

First Lines: “The seemingly deserted street was lined with empty houses, their windows as blank and vacant as the eyes of those who had become casualties in St. Louis’s war on heroine. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan gazed out the window of the black van as cold tendrils of rain slid down the darkened glass next to her, reminding her of tears.”

Favorite Character: Tally! Yes, this is partially because sidekick characters get some of the best lines, but his faith and mentor-like relationship with Mercy were both very compelling dimensions to his character. Add to that a great backstory that came up at all the right moments and a very real internal struggle about whether to continue on in law enforcement, and he’s someone you can’t help but root for.

Other Unbiased People Say: “An out-of-control roller coaster of a romantic suspense novel! The first book in the DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE series has something for every fan of the genre. . . . The characters are smart, cunning and know how to use their wits to get them out of tight situations. The plot is fast paced and is not standard or run of the mill. Nancy Mehl has raised the bar with her new series.” (RT Book Reviews)

Recommended for: This series follows U.S. Marshals, a career I knew very little about, and Nancy’s real-life research shines in tense situations that could be something you hear on the evening news, so anyone, especially romantic suspense fans, who enjoy learning something new would love this book. Fans of Dee Henderson will enjoy finding a new author while they wait for her next release. Once you start, you might find yourself postponing sleep to keep going until the last page to find out what happens!

 

shattered-vigil

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Summary: Despite their recent victory, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover the continent is still far from safe. When unseen assassins begin targeting the Vigil and their gift and his associates scatter, Willet must find a way to defeat this latest threat alone.

First Lines (from the villain’s POV): “Darkness fell within the storyteller’s room, the pain and light of day diminishing, though the heat remained, absorbed and surrendered from countless clay walls and tiled roofs. Nightfall. He relished the dying of the light, the way the sun that blinded him slid beneath the horizon with all the desperate clinging of a drowning child.”

Favorite Character: Can I pick all the urchins? Seriously, the young apprentices who each travel with a member of the Vigil are complex and wonderful. Fess absolutely stole my heart, Lelwin broke it, Mark has an interesting faith struggle, and Rory is hilarious and could easily be the hero of a future series in his own right. (Also, not an apprentice, but if you can read this book without falling in love with little Aellyn, you are heartless.) Far more than an amusing subplot, these young people raise the stakes and give the story added depth.

Other Unbiased People Say: “Carr grips readers from the very beginning, creating suspense that doesn’t let go. Readers are fascinated by Willet and empathize with his struggle in doing what is right when the path is not clear, and every way he turns is filled with danger. Well timed, surprising and intense, this book does not disappoint.” (RT Book Reviews Top Pick)

Recommended for: Anyone who reads fantasy (though there are parts that would be too intense for younger teens). But even if you don’t typically read fantasy, I’d recommend you give this one a try, if only for the amazing characters and thought-provoking insights on faith that you’ll find in the pages. (You should read The Shock of Night first for background, since this one builds on the plot of the first in the series.)

Who was a favorite secondary character from a book you recently read?

Fictional Postcards: October Bethany House Books

Sometimes setting can be a great reason to pick up a book—we all love the escape of relaxing in a famous travel destination or the adventure of exploring a region or country where we’ve never been in person. This month, we had such a great variety of real-life locations that I decided to show you postcard-worthy pictures of each. (You can click on the cover to read an excerpt.) Enjoy!

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This story takes place after the Exodus, when the Israelites journeyed into the wilderness and met God at Mount Sinai. There’s debate by scholars on the location of Mt. Sinai itself, but here are a few shots of what the mountains and wilderness of the area looks like.

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For more pictures, check out Connilyn’s Pinterest board.

from-this-day-forward Continue reading

September Bethany House Books

On this first day of September, I’m excited to let you know about five new releases from BHP. They’re set all over the map: the Pennsylvania countryside, Montana’s frontier, the halls of Edwardian England, a New York horse farm in the 20s and the bustling Wall Street of current day. Take a trip inside the pages by clicking on a cover to read an excerpt.

 

Wish
The Wish by Beverly Lewis

Leona lost her best friend the day Gloria’s father was expelled from the Amish church. When she receives an unexpected letter from Gloria, Leona makes up her mind to go after her friend. To the alarm of her fiancé, the deacon’s son, she sets out on a mission to persuade Gloria to return to the Amish church. Will Leona’s dearest wish lead to her own undoing?

Love Transformed

A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson

Widowed and penniless, with two small children, Clara Vesper returns to her uncle’s ranch in Montana, the only place she has ever been happy. As she tries to find that feeling again, she encounters a suitor from her past and is soon followed by her brother-in-law, who will stop at nothing to bring her back to the family business.

Domino Effect
The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn

Esther Larsen, a risk analyst at a powerful banking institution, is convinced she has uncovered a ticking bomb with the potential to overshadow 2008’s market crash. She has to do something—but what? With global markets on the brink, and her own life in danger, Esther races against the clock to avert a disaster that threatens worldwide financial devastation.

Lady Unrivaled
A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

Lady Ella Myerston knows of the danger that haunts her brother, and she intends to put an end to it. While visiting her friend Brook, the true owner of the Fire Eyes diamonds, Ella accidentally gets entangled in an attempt to blackmail the dashing, newly reformed Lord Cayton. Will she become the next casualty of the alleged curse?

Love's Faithful Promise

Love’s Faithful Promise by Susan Anne Mason

When her mother suffers a stroke, Deirdre puts her medical career on hold and persuades Dr. Matthew Clayborne to help treat Mrs. O’Leary at Irish Meadows. But since the doctor has no intention of leaving his life in Canada, and Deirdre has sworn off marriage altogether, how will they deal with the undeniable spark between them?

Since school is starting up, here’s a question: what’s a classic novel you read in high school or college that you genuinely enjoyed?

One Good Book Deserves Another: August New Releases

Time to talk series! Obviously, each book in a series should be a complete story with a satisfying ending, but after that, there are many different kinds of series. Are they connected by one central protagonist, a family, a setting, or a chain of historical events? Do they have a thread of unresolved suspense that leaves you waiting anxiously for the next release date, or are all the plot questions resolved by the last page?

For Bethany House, August was a month that does a good job displaying different kinds of series. Of the books listed below, The Artisan’s Wife is closing out a trilogy with a similar cast of characters, the McKay family, but with each story following a different protagonist. A Tapestry of Secrets is not technically in a numbered series, but it gives us a sense of closure about some of our favorite characters’ future—and past. Where Hope Prevails is the conclusion to Beth Thatcher’s journey in the Canadian frontier. And A Heart Most Certain is the first in a series set in the same town, each featuring the love story of one of the women there.

To get a behind-the-scenes peek into the making of these novels, the authors share a few more details about the place this entry has in the series as a whole, and how it came about. (And, as usual, click on the cover if you want to read an excerpt.)

Artisan's Wife

Judith: In this final book of the series, one of Ewan McKay’s twin sisters, Ainslee, takes center stage as the protagonist. All of these books have been centered around clay deposits in the state of West Virginia. The Artisan’s Wife depicts yet another use of those clay deposits: the family’s newly acquired tile works. As in the previous books in this series, the McKay family is confronted with issues that threaten to fracture the family. As the story unfolds, it looks at the issues of genuine forgiveness and the ability to consider change a positive factor in our lives.

Tapestry of Secrets

Sarah: The mystery that’s lingered since Miracle in a Dry Season is the identity of Sadie’s father. My favorite part of writing this latest novel, A Tapestry of Secrets, was going back to the 1940s and revealing that secret by telling Perla’s story. Anyone who’s read the previous books knows she had a child out of wedlock, but how that unfolded was never discussed. So many readers wanted to know about little Sadie and what happened to her later in life. Not only will they find that out, but they’ll also learn who her father was—something Sadie herself is conflicted about discovering.

A Heart Most Certain

Melissa: This book was actually the one I was editing in hopes of putting it out on submission when Bethany House contracted A Bride for Keeps. Now, all I thought I’d have to do was finish editing where I left off, but I had grown as a writer over the course of the Unexpected Brides series, so I had to rewrite some things as well. Be sure to keep a lookout for secondary characters in A Heart Most Certain—some will be featured in the next romances of the series, set in the same town.

Where Hope Prevails

Laurel: Because this is a collaboration with the television movie and TV show which derived from Mom’s book When Calls the Heart, we grafted a new branch into her first Elizabeth Thatcher’s family tree for this novel. These new characters weren’t mentioned in the original series of stories, but we made Beth a much younger cousin to the woman she refers to as “Aunt Elizabeth.” In Where Hope Prevails, Beth wrestles with her internal struggles and sense of calling…but readers will leave with a sense of completeness about what God has for her future.

Readers, do you have a favorite go-to series that you read and re-read?

July Bethany House Books

Summer is in full-swing, and if you’re like me, you enjoy reading a good book, whether that’s beside the pool or inside an air-conditioned refuge from the heat. Ever since my days getting plastic toys and Pizza Hut coupons from my local library, I’ve put “summer reading” on the top of my to-do list.

For your own summer reading, I can highly recommend Bethany House’s July lineup—there’s something here for everyone, whether it’s the new series starter from Mary Connealy, a trip to Seattle of the past with Tracie Peterson, Dina Sleiman’s mix of romance and adventure in medieval times, or a Regency love story from Kristi Ann Hunter.

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Be sure to click on the covers below to read the first few chapters and see which story catches your attention!

A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson

Beauty Refined

Phoebe Von Bergen is excited to visit America at last! But when she accompanies her father from Germany to Montana in search of sapphires, she has no idea of his real plans. As handsome lapidary Ian Harper gets to know Phoebe, he slowly learns the truth about her family. Yet exposing her father’s deception could put Phoebe’s life in danger. . . .

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter

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Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked hard to become the Incomparable for her debut season. She is determined to marry well—and Colin McCrae is not her idea of eligible. But as their paths continue to cross, their ongoing clash of wits has both Georgina and Colin questioning their first impressions as well as their priorities and ambitions.

Courageous by Dina L. Sleiman

Courageous

Inspired to become a defender of the cross, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a crusade to set captives free from Saracen prisons. As she and fellow crusader Sir Randel Penigree train young recruits, the two find themselves unexpectedly drawn to each other. Amid many dangers, they are both forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of their God.

No Way Up by Mary Connealy

No Way Up

After ranch patriarch Chance Boden is wounded in an accident, he demands that the conditions of his will go into effect immediately: His children must reconcile and live at home for a full year or forfeit the ranch. He trusts hired hand Heath Kincaid to see it done. But when Heath suspects foul play, his desire to protect Chance’s daughter goes beyond duty.

Do you or your children participate in a summer reading program at your local library? If so, what are some of the prizes?

First Lines: June 2016 Bethany House Books

We’ve talked about first lines on the blog before, especially focusing on how they can get the reader’s attention and establish the setting and tone of the novel right away. All of that is still true, but as I was thinking through our June releases, I realized the opening lines and chapter of a novel can also be critical for helping the reader connect and sympathize with the main character.

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Sometimes that task is easier than other times. Want to see what I mean? Below are examples from this month’s Bethany House releases, along with a little commentary from me on why the opening lines worked well. (As usual, you can click on a cover for a longer excerpt of the novels to get a better sense of their openings.)

Delilah by Angela Hunt

“No woman sets out to be wicked. I’m not sure I can say the same thing about men.”

Delilah

Those first two lines, besides being punchy and attention-getting, establish the premise that everyone has motivation for what they do. Knowing you’re coming to a book about Delilah, with half of the chapters narrated from her point-of-view, that’s pretty important. The first chapter and the events that follow shortly thereafter make you see that Delilah wasn’t a generic bad girl of the Bible, but a real person.

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

“Romulus White stood motionless in the crowded ballroom, staring at a woman he’d once longed for more than his next breath of air. It was not a pleasant experience, especially since Laura stood alongside her doting husband.”

From This Moment

Fancy-dressing, slightly arrogant Romulus could have come off as irritating, but starting with the very sharp, familiar emotion of “what-ifs” and “could-have-beens” was a great technique that gave us a way to relate with Romulus. And when we relate to a character, we care and want to read more.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

“Malachi Shaw made the arduous climb back into consciousness with great effort. But everything Mal had accomplished so far in his thirteen years of life had required great effort. Not that he had achieved anything worth bragging about. Orphaned. Starving. And…cold.”

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Malachi could be just a generic poor orphan character, but because of his response to his rescuing “angel” in this early scene, you care intently about both him and the young heroine who helps him. This sets up the characters of both and makes you want to see them grow up and fall in love…but, the story being over 300 pages long, you know it won’t be quite as easy as that!

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell

“If one would drown one’s sorrows with music, the music must be loud. On the seventeenth of February, 1880, if Charlotte’s fingers had not pounded out Haydn’s Andante with Variations in F Minor so forcefully, the score would not have slipped from its stand. She would not have heard the hoofbeats.”

Haven on Orchard Lane

A mother who has virtually ignored her daughter for years sounds like a difficult protagonist to root for. But the unexpected visitor who follows, bearing exciting—and dangerous—news shows us the odds that are stacked against Charlotte and helps us understand why Charlotte broke off contact with her daughter. From the very start, I was rooting for Charlotte and Rosalind to reconnect and escape the threat posed in the first chapter.

Just for fun, pick a book near you and write the first sentence or two in the comments!

Spring Reading: May 2016 New Releases

Happy May, BHP readers, and what a month it is for new releases! All contemporary, but from there, we’ve got a wide range of settings and plots for you to enjoy. Explore the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood, look for clues at a beautiful Illinois lake, relax at a struggling California resort with a few unexpected guests, and chase down the stalker of a professional football player. That’s not even getting into the different settings and plots of the novella collection, Sins of the Past, by three of our top romantic suspense authors.

Here are a few extra fun events around release month:

The Mystery and Mayhem Tour: Rescue one of Dee, Dani, or Lynette’s characters from a kidnapping by following the trail of clues through the blog tour. The mystery’s dramatic conclusion will be at a Facebook party, where you can also chat with the authors and win prizes.

Her One and Only Party: To celebrate the launch of her latest Porter family novel, Becky Wade is having a party tonight, May 5. You can hear about how sales during the first week go toward a charity that’s close to Becky’s heart…and she’ll be giving out gifts as well!

As usual, be sure to click on the cover of a book to read an excerpt!

Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Traces of Guilt

State Police Detective Evie Blackwell is launching a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes in Illinois. While looking at old evidence for a couple of missing-persons cases in Carin County, she pulls out a few tenuous leads—with startling implications.

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

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NFL star Gray Fowler is receiving death threats. Out of concern, his team hires a protection detail, but Gray is indignant when he meets his bodyguard. How can an attractive woman half his size protect him? Former Marine Dru Porter is, in fact, more than capable. But as danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their lives to one another?

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin

Someone Like You

New Christian and single mom Julia Dare has her hands full running her event-planning business and raising her son. When a wedding brings her to Caliente Springs resort, she’s shocked to discover the resort manager is Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart. As the two work together, Zeke and Julia are pushed to their limits both personally and professionally.

Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman

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After a red carpet accident leaves her blackballed, Lauren Summers would do almost anything for another chance at her dream of a career in fashion. Does that include making a deal with a reporter to befriend a former Hollywood star, learn her secrets—and then betray her trust?

Sins of the Past by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason

Sins of the Past

In this collection of gripping novellas from the top authors of Christian romantic suspense, sins of the past lead to danger in the present. In Henderson’s Missing, a sheriff races to find his mother. In Pettrey’s Shadowed, the parents of the McKenna clan investigate a death. And in Eason’s Blackout, a woman is targeted by a criminal on parole.

Here’s a question, readers: if you could pick three authors to write a linked novella collection together, which would they be?