Sweet Romances for Sweetest Day

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Sweetest Day ~ Saturday, October 20th

Are you ready?

I just discovered that Sweetest Day is mostly celebrated in the Midwest. Well, that makes sense, because I also discovered that it started in Cleveland, Ohio!

In 1921, Herbert Birch Kingston, an employee at a candy company, wanted to make the less fortunate happy, so he passed out candy to the homeless and orphans around Cleveland.

A year later, it became an official holiday!

So Sweetest Day is not just for couples. You can do something sweet for anyone! And while candy is nice, I think books are better!

This Sweetest Day, I would like to recommend a few sweet inspirational romances that will deepen your understanding of and longing for true love.

I’ve also interviewed the author, Carolyn Astfalk, so you can see what makes her books unique.


41MmpqQbnbLWith her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection. Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse. With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

Click here for reviews.  Click on the book covers to reach the Amazon links.


OG-Front-Cover-FINALAfter his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

An inspirational Christmas romance that spans every season.

Check out the book trailer here.


rightfully oursSixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake? Themes include premarital chastity and overcoming temptation.

This young adult Christian fiction is always listed high on Amazon’s “Values & Virtues” category.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.


Author Interview: Carolyn Astfalk

I’ve read all three of your published books. I found them all to be well-written and enjoyable with characters that remained with me even to this day. Stay With Meand Ornamental Graces are both adult romance and Rightfully Ours is young adult. Why do you write romance?

I didn’t set out to write romances. In fact, before I wrote the first draft of Rightfully Ours, which was my first attempt at fiction writing, I read very few romances. Somehow, as words spilled onto the page, what I imagined as a teen adventure morphed into a romance. And that’s what I’ve been writing ever since.

I’ve come to love clean, inspirational, and Christian romances. And I continue to read and write them because that spark of romance is not only fun, but provides opportunities for reflecting on the role of romantic love, which gives us a glimpse of the loving fervor with which God pursues each of us and helps us love as He loves.

Romance stories revolve around a central love story that ends in an optimistic ending. Christian romances are typically sweet (no explicit content) and they contain an element of faith woven into the plot. What makes your romance stories different from other Christian romance stories?

What sets my romances apart from other Christian romances is my Catholic worldview. Only a small minority of Christian romances include Catholic characters and themes.

I read heavily in the non-Catholic Christian genres and enjoy those novels very much. But there’s something to be said for seeing your own experience reflected in novels from time-to-time. So, when my characters pray, they’re more likely to bring out the rosary beads. If they’re practicing their faith, they’re at Mass on Sunday. They have the benefit of the sacraments and the grace that they offer. They’re more likely to be open to large families.

And, less significant, but contrary to what some Christian booksellers and publishers would condone, my characters enjoy a good beer, a glass of wine, or use a rare, well-placed mild curse word.

I also treat sexuality in a frank but non-explicit manner. I don’t gloss over the temptations we all face in remaining chaste, no matter our state in life. I try to communicate the joys and challenges of married sexuality lived in accordance with God’s plan.

I understand that themes in your stories reflect ideas found in Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. What is TOB and how do these ideas influence your writing?

When my husband and I were newlyweds, Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was becoming more widely known thanks to people like Christopher West, Janet Smith, and George Weigel. Simply put, the Theology of the Body, presented in a series of Wednesday audiences between 1979 and 1984, is a reflection on the body’s capacity for making visible an invisible reality manifested in our creation as male and female. It is an integrated look at the human person, made to love and be loved.

At the time, we volunteered for Catholic Engaged Encounter in our diocese and saw first-hand the extra challenges faced by couples who rejected the Church’s teaching on sexuality. As a consequence, I really delved into that aspect of theology and developed an affinity for it and a real love for Pope St. John Paul II.

While I never set out to write about the Theology of the Body, that holistic view of the meaning of our bodies always seems to find its way into my stories because it is integral to the intimacy between men and women and ultimately discovering our happily ever after.

How can a romance novel combat the false notions about love and sex that permeate our culture?

There’s a real dichotomy between the way love is often portrayed in modern media, often self-serving and fickle, and the kind of self-donative love we’re called to live.

The kind of romances I write are sometimes witty and flirty—at least I hope so! But, they also delve deeper. While the rush of attraction has an important role to play, I force my characters to move beyond those feelings to deal with what sustains love over the long term. So, that means they’ll wrangle with temptation, sin, forgiveness, mercy, and self-sacrifice.

Ultimately, that kind of love, self-sacrificial love, is more satisfying and fulfilling.

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New Teen Fiction: 3 Things to Forget

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I am excited to share award-winning author Cynthia T. Toney’s newest release! This is the final book in the Bird Face series! To celebrate, the publisher has made book one FREE on Amazon on release day only:  October 16th! And the new release, 3 Things to Forget, is only 99 cents today too!


3 Things to ForgetNew People
New Challenges
And a whole new Altitude

In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana, at least for a while. But starting the summer at her friend Sam’s house and volunteering with Alaska Wildlife Conservation bring not only strange surroundings but also strangers into her life. And those strangers have a secret involving a troubled girl who threatens Wendy’s friendship with Sam.

As Wendy struggles to understand the Alaskans she meets and gets to know, will she be able to forget what she hopes to, or will her new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?


I was happy to have received an advanced copy of this book and so I’d like to share my review!

My Review

Cynthia Toney has written another strong story about friendship and the complicated issues that many teens face, this one with the beautiful messages of encouraging teens to share their troubles with their parents and offering kindness even to the unkind.

Wendy is such an admirable character in the way she longs to bring comfort and joy to her elderly friend who has Alzheimer’s. She is a three-dimensional character with interests in writing, sign language, and cute little wolf pups, but she also has room to grow. The more she tries to help her friends in this story, the more of a mess she makes! This is especially true of her relationship with Dev—a girl with many secrets. Wendy becomes so suspicious of Dev’s motives that she even starts to lose faith in her best friend, Sam. Her stepsister gives her great advice that we can all benefit from: “There’s always more to a person’s story than you think when you first meet them.”

With a beautiful Alaskan setting, mystery, and drama, teen readers are sure to love this fourth book in The Bird Face Series. If they’ve read the first three books, like I have, they will also enjoy revisiting favorite characters. Ever since reading 6 Dates to Disaster, I’ve been looking forward to finding out more about Sam, and this story does not disappoint.

Click here to get your copy!

Visit Cynthia T. Toney’s website to learn more about the author and the series.

 

Turning in Circles – Book Review

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Southern fiction at its best!

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Story summary: Savannah and Charleston, two sisters living in a small Southern town, have always been close. They’ve shared everything with one another…until Dillon, the one boy in school who’s bad news, sets his sights on Charleston. As she’s drawn down his dark, destructive path, Savannah panics, knowing this isn’t a relationship destined for anything but trouble.

She turns to her lifelong best friend, Ellerbe, for help, but there’s a shift in their relationship. The connection they’ve shared is taking a turn toward something more, something deeper. And Savannah isn’t sure she’s ready for a romance while trying to save her sister.

As Savannah’s foundation begins to crumble, every decision becomes an unchangeable step toward an outcome that could have tragic repercussions.

Get your copy here: Amazon link


I’ve seen Michelle Buckman’s titles and I’ve been wanting to check out her books for some time. I am so glad that I finally did. Please stop by her website to learn more about her and her books.

Michelle Buckman’s author page


My Review:

I really enjoyed this Southern fiction! Michelle Buckman has a beautiful and engaging writing style that pulls readers deep into the story and doesn’t let them go. The story begins at a leisurely Southern pace, introducing Savannah and her sister Charleston, but always hinting at trouble to come. The setting details and tone are captivating and give incredible dimension to the story. And while it’s set in modern times, the life of the people in this small farming community reminds me of simpler days when everyone knew everyone else and neighbors sat around drinking iced tea on front porches and took leisurely strolls through lovely streets and trails. But there is always something lurking beneath the surface, a hint of trouble, of mistakes that change lives, and of danger.  

As the story developed, this book became almost impossible to set down. And I came away with a bit of introspection. Savannah faces the same problem many of us do: watching a loved one go down the wrong path (in this case, a potentially dangerous one) and feeling powerless to do anything about it. She wrestles with how to respond to this, sometimes making things worse and other times not doing enough. So many moments in this story resonated with me and I’m sure they will with everyone who reads this story of family, friendship, and the challenges we all face with those we care about.

This is the first book by Michelle Buckman that I’ve read, and I look forward to reading more by her.

This month I am linking up with Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com. What have you been reading lately? Feel free to link up your blog post too! You can find the details here.