June 8, 2018

Review: Where Trains Collide by Amber Stokes {Blog Tour + Giveaway}


I am SO pleased to be a part of this blog tour! Especially for this particular story. It's been a long time in coming, but oh so worth the wait! I also have the privilege of sharing a deleted scene with my lovely readers as well. So without further ado, let's get to all the fun, shall we? :)

Review

To say that I'd been anticipating this release would be putting it very mildly! And it was definitely worth waiting for. :) There is such sweetness in watching these two characters find each other again. It's not an easy journey for the two of them, but oh so wonderfully real!

It was Trisha I connected to immediately. You'd wonder how I, being an adult long beyond college age, could understand her fears and uncertainties, probably. But I do! Sometimes I wonder if we ever truly get life figured out because just when we think we have it, something gets thrown in to push us a bit off course. That's where Trisha is at the beginning of the novella. Uncertain who she even is at the moment and so full of this pull of something that she doesn't understand. It's a very insecure and precarious feeling! And so she throws caution to the wind and runs away for the weekend.

But then. Oh but then! When Paul enters the picture, I empathized with all the awkward she felt. And their initial conversations are a struggle. (Not due to bad writing! On the contrary, Ms. Stokes allows the reader to feel precisely what the characters are going through at these moments.) Yet as we watch the two continue to get pulled together, things begin to change. There's still fears and uncertainties there, yet slowly they begin to open up and be their true selves with one another. And that's when all the delight begins to happen!

The romance bits are, naturally, some of my favorites. ;) The shortness of their reconnection is enhanced by their past which is felt in all the unspoken moments between them. It's an undeniable connection that neither has ever let go of completely. And when they look at each other....ah my heart! There is so much there in the air between them and it kept me turning page after page to see where the next conversation would go!

All in all, this was a lovely way to spend a couple hours. If you're looking for a story that's short yet full of delightful romance that will make your heart smile, this one is perfect for you! So what are you waiting for? Go forth and buy it! :)

**I received a complimentary copy via the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

Inspirational Contemporary Romance Novella

Two hearts racing in different directions will meet where trains collide.

Burned out and disillusioned with her chosen career path, Trisha Knolane gives in to impulse and hops on a train bound for Oregon, eager to escape the stress of college for a few days. But what begins as a fun little adventure takes an unexpected turn when she discovers that her ex-boyfriend is also on board.

All her hopes and dreams had once centered on Paul Benson. Now, when Trisha doesn't know where her current track will lead, Paul’s reappearance in her life only complicates matters and sparks difficult questions.

Questions that could change the course of her life.

A heartfelt and thought-provoking contemporary romance novella, Where Trains Collide faces the uncertain season of new adulthood head on and shows that sometimes a path of broken dreams can lead to life’s best destination.

Purchase for $.99 on Amazon! | Add to Goodreads


About the Author

Amber Holcomb (Stokes) is an indie author and freelance editor living below the majestic mountains of Montana with her adventurous husband. Previously, she worked in marketing for a Christian publisher for nearly three years. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and now fuels her work with words in this new season of life.

You can learn more about Amber’s books, sign up for her author newsletter, join the Amber’s Gems street team, and more at Seasons of a Story.





Deleted Scene

If you take a look at the Pinterest board for Where Trains Collide, you’ll see some pins featuring scenes from Silver Falls State Park. In the first draft of the story, Paul and Trisha headed north for an outing at the park. They end up going a different direction in the final version, but here’s a glimpse at that deleted scene…

***

It didn’t take them long at all to come to the edge of the ravine and catch their first glimpse of what had to be the South Falls, the main tourist attraction on this trail of falls. The invisible forces of nature shoved a ton of water off the edge of the cliff to their left, sending water droplets free-falling into a perfectly beautiful dive to meet the rest of the water pooled below. 

Trisha’s cheeks hurt from smiling as she took in the view. She could feel the life here. The vibrancy shimmering in the damp air. The miracle of H2O moving and shivering and falling and keeping its form without ever having a shape. 

She pulled out her iPhone and snapped picture after picture, until Paul nudged her with his arm. “Now who’s holding us up? You know, we can get closer.”

She eagerly followed after him, his red shirt like a beacon bringing her back to the path as she scanned the fall foliage and ever-greenery around them, pausing every so often to take more pictures. 
Leaves beneath them. Sunlight like an arrow through the trees across the ravine. People crossing the cute wooden bridge below. All ended up on her phone. She couldn’t wait to share about this on her blog. Not that a million other nature buffs hadn’t already written about this place. 

It didn’t matter. She just had to share.

She was just getting ready to stop and pull out her new journal to jot down some thoughts, when they came to a curve in the trail that would lead them back around behind the waterfall. The dirt of the trail became a sludgy mud, likely from a combination of the waterfall and earlier rain.

But if that little five-year-old girl ahead of them could happily skip around it, well, it couldn’t be so bad. 

Trisha gave up on the journal and turned her attention to skirting the bigger puddles. The pounding of the water became louder as they drew closer to the little cave-like portion of the trail behind the waterfall. 

As she and Paul approached a particularly large puddle, a middle-aged man came at it from the other side. Paul stepped as close to the rail on their right as he could get. Trisha stalled for a moment, until he gripped her hand and pulled her up right next to him. 

The man nodded in thanks as he passed in front of them, his arm brushing their sides as he shuffled around the worst of the mud. He had moved on several paces up the trail before Trisha realized that she and Paul hadn’t budged, even though the coast was clear. 

And Paul hadn’t let go of her hand.

She didn’t know what to think of that. So she didn’t think. She just gave his arm a little push and let him guide them safely around the muck and under the rocky outcropping until they stood hand in hand directly behind the waterfall. 

Mist hovered around them. A group laughed as they passed by, likely not as good as Paul at avoiding the puddles in the path. Trisha didn’t look back to confirm her suspicions. She couldn’t drink in enough of the view before them. 

In the space between the safety of the ledge above and the depths of the pool beneath, the falling water grew thin and stretched in a living window. Gold autumn leaves glistened and glowed from the trees beyond. A treasure veiled from reach. 

But somehow, she and Paul were better for simply knowing it was there. Knowing that such a sight existed from this impossible, enchanting angle.

His fingers tightened around hers.

Trisha blinked, and the waterfall changed from a solid, shimmery thing to a million different trails following gravity to their inevitable end. Unwitting water colliding with water that had been there before.

Falling. Colliding. 

Inevitable.




Giveaway

In celebration of this new novella, enter for a chance to win a $15 Amazon.com gift card! Giveaway is open internationally (to anyone age 18 or older who can receive an Amazon gift card via email). Void where prohibited.

May 29, 2018

Cover Reveal :: Dancing & Doughnuts by Rachel Kovaciny

Hello, my lovelies! I am SO pleased to be able to share this delightful new cover with you today. Rachel has been a longtime blogging friend of mine (and recent real life friend !!!!) and let me just say that it's not just because I think she's awesome that I want to help celebrate her stories. She really is a terrific writer and it is truly my privilege to share in her celebrations. (But just for the official record, she is pretty awesome! :)

This particular new story is set for release in August (which isn't very far away, yay!) and is book two in her Once Upon a Western anthology series. (See book one here.) It's a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Rachel's ability to take fairytales and replace them into the wild west is loads of fun, so I cannot wait to see where this one takes us!

But you aren't here to read all my exclamations, are you? So without further ado, let's get to the pretty! :)

About the Book

Someone's been spiking the apple cider at a Kansas dance hall owned by a family with twelve daughters.  No one in the small town has been able to find the culprit.  A hungry Civil War veteran drifts into town and decides he's going to solve this mystery for them and earn the reward the family is offering.






Isn't it delightful?! I love the textured look of the entire cover, and it perfectly matches book one, Cloaked. It sets the tone for a western and dancing and simply looks like fun, right? The colors, the shoes (especially hers, but those boots are pretty awesome too). It's definitely lovely enough to have a special place on my shelf some day!!

Dancing & Doughnuts is already on Goodreads, so add it to your TBR, friends! And stay tuned for the August release... :D




May 26, 2018

Review: Amongst the Roses by Meghan M. Gorecki

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Where, oh where to begin? Dear reader friends, I really did enjoy this one! Having read a novella of Ms. Gorecki's prior to this, I knew I was interested to read a full length novel of hers. And I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to read this one! It's quite a journey she takes us on, let me tell you.

I tend to to be picky with the historical fiction I read, and can I just say that this is an author you should keep your eyes on! It was clear that Ms. Gorecki has done thorough research and, additionally, feels quite passionate about history. The real and raw emotions, the struggles of the time period and its people, and the harshness of the realities that sit themselves down and stare you straight in the eyes. It's not an easy read, to be sure! But I was quite impressed with the details that were mentioned and how nothing is left out.

The characters, who are always my favorite part, are where I struggled. Because they aren't always so likeable! Yet I appreciated the slow way they each began to grow on me. I'm still not certain how I feel about all of them yet, but I have faith that the next book will help grow my appreciation for them! And I was reminded that sometimes a harsh environment around a character can create responses from them that a quiet and gentle life would not. So! I am looking forward to growing further with Margaret and seeing where she might go from here.

I think one of my very favorite bits of the whole story is just how utterly swept up I was! Once I began, there was no way to put it down. Even as I struggled to like everything that happened (and, admittedly, skimmed through a few chapters that felt a little long to me), yet I somehow couldn't look away either! And that's a wonderful credit to Ms. Gorecki's storytelling. It gripped me! I had to know what was going to happen next. And so, of course, this means that I will certainly be planning to read book two! Because I'm determined to find out what happens. Because I want to know that my trust in where Ms. Gorecki is going to take us next is well placed. Because I am confident that I will be just as drawn in again! And isn't that a wonderful reason to read this one, friends? I think so too. :)

**I received a complimentary copy via the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don't.


Review: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

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What a sweet story! I knew, after reading book one With You Always, that I wanted more time with the orphans, and how happy was I to get it. :) Marianne and Drew have quite the journey to their happy ever after and I thoroughly enjoyed all the ups and downs that came!

Starting with Marianne, it was lovely to see how she had grown since the first book. She made some bad choices then, but is now willing to prove that she's changed. And it's clear to see she has! I was wondering if she'd redeem herself for me, so I was happy to begin chapter one thoroughly invested in her journey. Watching as she fell in love with all the orphans and learned to let them go when the time came was sweet. It was easy to see why Drew was so drawn to her!

And oh my, the chemistry between the two of them! Very palpably felt every time they were close, not to mention the way they'd stare at each other. They are so irresistibly attracted and I loved the way neither of them could ever deny it! It was perfectly obvious to everyone around them. Especially little Jethro who I loved dearly from the moment he entered the scene! Such an adorable little matchmaker was he. :D

Yet it's not just the swoony romance which swept me off my feet, it's also the harsh realities that Ms. Hedlund includes. Not that I necessarily liked them, but it kept the story from feeling too sweet and romantic. Life on an orphan train back then could not have been easy at all and I appreciated all the little ways Ms. Hedlund kept my mind grounded, even while making me swoon!

By the final pages, I was happy with where things are left, yet definitely looking forward to book three. It will be interesting to find out where Sophie is and what's been going on with her, since that's one of the biggest overarching mysteries! And if it can contain little glimpses of Marianne and Drew, like this one had glimpses of Elise and Thornton, I will be a very happy reader! :)

**I received a complimentary copy via Bethany House. All opinions expressed are my own.

He was free. All he had to do was let go of the chains.

It took more courage to love in the face of loss than to close oneself off out of fear of getting hurt.

"But don't you think sometimes it takes even greater courage to accept our losses? And not just accept them, but move on and continue to live?"

"It takes a very special kind of strength to love these orphans and then to let them go."




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