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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hearts of Resistance by Soraya M. Lane - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Sophia tries to give people a place to hide in her Nazi infested home country. When her father, an active member of the party, suspects what she's doing she flees Germany and joins the French Resistance. Rose has lost everything she holds dear and doesn't mind taking a risk. She's a French woman working for the Resistance, where she meets Sophia. Hazel spent a lot of time in France with her friend Rose and therefore she speaks French without an accent. This is just one of her skills and when she joins the war effort they're more than happy to train her. Her mission is in France, with the Resistance, where she coincidentally runs into her old friend Rose. Together Sophia, Rose and Hazel are trying to do what they can to beat the Germans, will they be able to remain safe?

Sophia, Rose and Hazel risk their lives for others every single day. They don't hesitate when it comes to fighting in the war. They do what they have to do to undermine the Germans, to keep their allies safe and to make sure information is being passed on to the right people. They are intelligent women with a strong bond, but will this be enough for them to survive the war? Can they stay out of the hands of their enemy or will their worst nightmare, getting caught by the German army, become reality?

Hearts of Resistance is a fantastic gripping story about three incredible women. Sophia, Rose and Hazel are brave, capable and smart. I equally admired them all because of their skills and determination. They never hesitate when it comes to helping others and doing their duty. Hazel is a kindhearted woman with an adventurous spirit. She's engaged, but doesn't feel like she should chase a boring and bland life. She has more to offer than that. Rose fights against the people who have taken everything from her, she doesn't feel like she has much left to lose and her country has everything to gain when it comes to this brilliant woman. The honorable and outspoken Sophia despises her own father and everything he stands for and fights for what is right. I loved their strong spirits and the friendship between these three remarkable women is beautiful. In the harsh world they're part of it's an amazing soft element that captivated me from beginning to end.

Soraya M. Lane kept me on the edge of my seat with her terrific suspenseful writing. She makes her main characters and the time she's writing about come to life in a fabulous way. I couldn't stop reading Hearts of Resistance, it's filled with surprising twists and turns, adrenaline rushes and fascinating emotional layers. Soraya M. Lane has written a mesmerizing compelling story that I highly recommend.


If you love gripping historical fiction you don't want to miss Hearts of Resistance.

About Soraya M. Lane

As a child, Soraya dreamed of becoming an author, recreating the types of stories she devoured day and night. Fast forward more than a few years, and Soraya is now living her dream. Working as a full-time author, she writes every day around her other job of being a mom to two little boys. Soraya describes being an author as “the best career in the world”, and she hopes to be writing romance for many years to come.

Soraya loves spending her days thinking up characters for romance stories, and her home is a constant source of inspiration. She lives with her own real life hero and two sons on a small farm in New Zealand, surrounded by animals and with an office overlooking a field where their horses graze.

As a historical women's fiction & contemporary romance author, Soraya now writes under two different names... from 2017, all women's fiction novels will be released as Soraya M. Lane.


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1. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I’m a women’s fiction and romance author based in New Zealand, and published by Amazon Publishing’s Lake Union imprint, as well as by St. Martins Press. Being an author is my dream career, and I’m so grateful to have a job that I love!

2. How did you get the idea to write about three women from different countries all involved in the WWII resistance?

I had been thinking about this story for a long time, and I really enjoying writing historical novels with three main female characters. I was fascinated with the resistance, and I stumbled across some amazing true stories about the brave women who fought with the resistance, both in France and in the UK, and the story just grew organically form there. Sophia was a surprise to me, in that she is German but with a French-born mother, and I particularly enjoyed writing her story, although I was in tears sometimes writing the first part of the novel when it came to her scenes!

3. Can you describe Sophia, Hazel and Rose in eight words each?

Sophia is courageous, strong, fearless, passionate, capable, driven, powerful and loving. Rose is compassionate, strong, loving, driven, courageous, ambitious, empathetic and emotional. Hazel is quietly-confident, strong, courageous, companionable, capable, powerful and incredible. You’ll notice that I use the word “courageous” for all of them, and I think that all women involved in the resistance were incredibly courageous.

4. How did you handle the research for Hearts of the Resistance?

I did all the research myself for this project, although I have used a research assistant in the past. I spent at least a month researching the novel, and then every day I was always looking something up as I wrote the story.

5. How did you prepare to write a story about one of the most difficult times in history and how did you handle the sad scenes in your book?

The sad scenes were rough, I’m not going to lie. One day I was writing a particularly tough scene for Sophia, and I’m not going to say what happens as I think it’s a powerful turning point early in the story for her so it’s an important surprise, and I went to pick my boys up from school and I was trying not to cry in the car. The scene haunted me and really hit me hard emotionally, but I had to write it and I actually like the fact that I really feel for each of my characters! They’re very real to me when I’m writing them, and I hope that comes across in the novel.

6. Hearts of the Resistance is a story about friendship, what does true friendship mean to you?

My historical women’s fiction novels are always essentially about friendship, and usually they’re women who meet at some point, despite being from different backgrounds. I really believe that women should empower one another, and I like writing about women who are sometimes not the most likely of friends, yet they develop strong, unbreakable bonds. True friendship is very important to me.

7. How do you combine your writing with your busy home life?

This is a hard question - there is no easy answer! Writing is a full time job for me, but then so is raising my kids. I have two boys (7 and 4) and I love being a parent, and I’m very grateful to be able to pick them up from school and be at home whenever they need me. BUT, it’s a very real juggle to balance parenting and a big career, and there are many late nights writing to make up for the days I spend with the kids! My husband is very supportive though, and we are very much equal partners when it comes to our kids, our animals and our lives. In addition to our children, we also have two dogs, two cats (who adopted us and moved in a couple of years ago after being born as strays!) four horses and two pet sheep!

8. How did your love for books start?

I don’t ever remember a time that I didn’t love books. My parents read a lot to me when I was growing up, and reading was one of those things I found easy to learn and loved. I always had my nose in a book as a kid, and I’ve always been a big reader. We recently went on vacation for a week, and all I did was play with the kids and read! I find it hard to find time to read around parenting and writing though, so I generally have a huge to-be-read pile that I dive into after I finish a project or when I’m on vacation.

9. You write both historical fiction and romance, how is it to combine these two genres?

I love writing in more than one genre - for me it keeps my writing fresh. My focus is predominantly on historical women’s fiction now, but I will still continue to write contemporary fiction when my schedule allows it. I really enjoy the different types of writing, and it’s nice switching between historical and contemporary.

10. What are your plans for the future?

I’m currently busy working on edits for my next historical novel, Spitfire Girls, which will be released in January. After that, I’m jumping straight into my next historical, which is also contracted by Lake Union Publishing. That is a story set in Pearl Harbor and I can’t wait to get started!


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy or Kindle copy of Hearts of Resistance by Soraya M. Lane (winner’s choice).

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This I Know by Eldonna Edwards - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Eleven-year-old Grace has a beautiful gift that she calls the Knowing. However, her strict religious father sees it as something that belongs to the devil. Grace can talk to her twin brother who died at birth, she can see important parts of someone's past and future and she knows what people feel and think if they let her. Even though her father wants her to ignore what she can do, she grows up using it wisely. Grace's father is an Evangelical pastor, who fears his daughter's amazing capabilities. He treats her with contempt and excludes her whenever he can. Grace fights hard for his approval, but will she ever get it?

In Grace's small hometown something terrible is happening. Grace knows she'll be able to find out more about this, but her father won't allow her to help. How can she find a way around his rules? Grace's sisters don't have the same abilities and her mother can't cope with the grief life has given her. Grace's only support comes from her aunt Pearl who only occasionally visits. Grace's school friend Lola and homeless man Lyle are the only ones who really know her. When her mother checks out from family life completely Grace's father makes life increasingly difficult for his daughter. What will Grace do, it will be hard to hide her gift from him, especially since she doesn't see it as something wrong, but as something good. Can she ever convince him?

This I Know is a beautiful moving story. Grace is a sweet girl with a big heart. She's smart, wise and capable. She also has a special gift. The Knowing is something precious, she can help people with what she sees and feels. I loved how Grace makes up her own mind about her abilities instead of letting others make the decision for her. Grace's religious father constantly pressures her and punishes her in all kinds of ways for being different. This makes Grace sad, but she remains strong, she never wavers and I greatly admired her for it. Regular home life is a struggle for Grace, but she bears it and never complains. I absolutely loved this amazing girl and enjoyed her story immensely.

Eldonna Edwards has a fantastic engaging writing style. This I Know is a magical story that touched my heart. I loved the vivid descriptions of Grace's surroundings, family and friends, the gorgeous gift she has been blessed with and the fantastic open way she sees the world. I was entranced from beginning to end. I love it when a story enchants me completely and This I Know is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. Eldonna Edwards has written an incredibly precious and thought-provoking novel. I highly recommend this brilliant story.


If you love a combination of beautiful literary fiction and amazing magical gifts you don't want to miss This I know.

About Eldonna Edwards

Eldonna Edwards is the subject of the award-winning documentary Perfect Strangers and author of the memoir Lost in Transplantation, both of which follow her choice to donate a kidney to an anonymous person in need. Her debut novel, This I Know, won the Lillian Dean Award for fiction based on its opening chapters. Also a veteran massage therapist and former journaling instructor, Eldonna is a born storyteller who “cut her teeth” on the back of Southern Baptist pews in her provincial Midwest hometown where her father was a preacher. The voice in this novel comes straight from the heart. Eldonna currently lives on the central California coast with her long-time partner.


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Why I Set THIS I KNOW in the 1960s and 70s
Guest post by Eldonna Edwards

People sometimes ask me why young Grace’s story takes during the late 1960s/early 1970s. Why not set it even earlier or in contemporary times? My answer is that our lives are a reflection of the cultural backdrop that surrounds us and even more so during our coming-of-age years. Having grown up during that time only partly influenced my choice to stage my book during this amazing era. What better time frame for a girl to push the tightly-sealed envelope of her strict Evangelical upbringing than during the Cultural Revolution—especially in conservative Midwest America?

Unlike the draft-card burners and protestors of the time, Grace is not a rebel. She merely sees herself as an awkward girl trying to fit in among her beautiful “normal” sisters. The last thing she wants is to draw more attention to herself and her special gift of clairvoyance. However, who’s to say whether the collective rebellion of young people asserting themselves and pushing back against the norms might influence a young preacher’s daughter to embrace rather than reject her individuality?

Juxtaposed against Grace’s divine abilities is the emotional unavailability of her mama, who suffers from what we assume is post-partum depression. An unseen loss lies beneath the sadness that engulfs the mother of five and dutiful wife to Bible-thumping Pastor Henry Carter. We eventually learn that Isabelle Carter not only swapped her dreams of becoming a famous singer to marry Grace’s daddy, she shut down her deep intuition, the one gift Grace inherited and her father forbids. This is not only Grace’s story, it’s a story about people who championed for themselves or others within a provincial framework that meant a likelihood of rejection shunning.

On a personal level, I grew up feeling like a left-behind flower child. It seemed like I missed all the cool stuff like Woodstock, The Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury, and live concerts by talented performers who changed the landscape of contemporary music. In writing THIS I KNOW I was able to vicariously insert myself as well as my readers into a time when young men rejected barbers and women threw away their bras. Grace lives in a bubble, only mildly aware of the shifting tectonic plates of American culture. However, due to her clairvoyance she’s hypersensitive to the emotions of those around her. For example, Grace is unable to write a school essay about the Vietnam War because when she concentrates on the subject, the suffering becomes her own. She chooses to write about Janice Joplin instead but even then, she senses the young singer’s pain and depression.

Finally, I like stories that take place before cell phones and the Internet. There’s something magical about those times when children were naturally forced to be creative, gathering with other neighborhood kids and not returning home until the street lights came on. The 1960s and

70s were not necessarily innocent times but they were full of adventure, possibility and the kind of curiosity that relies on experience and intuition rather than an instant answer from Google. Would I want to return to the days before environmental protection or the expansion of civil liberties? Nope. But sometimes it’s fun to visit.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a hardcover copy of This I Know by Eldonna Edwards.

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Harry Potter Book, Blanket, Mug and Pillow Giveaway

Enter this Harry Potter giveaway for a chance to win a Gryffindor hardcover book and blanket and a Hogwarts pillow and mug. Good luck!

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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Offer and The Chase by Sara Portman - Book Review and Giveaway

Reviews by Suze

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Lucy is the best friend of a duchess. Emma might be happily married to a duke, but Lucy doesn't see marriage in her own future. She has no dowry, her parents simply aren't wealthy enough for her to be a good match. They're getting older and she wants to support them by going into service instead. Emma is having a baby, so Lucy leaves Beadwell to be with her in London. While she's there she can look for employment as a governess or companion. She doesn't expect to find love, but when she meets Bex she knows she won't be able to face her fate without at least having experienced some romance.

Bex isn't marriage material. He's poor, his father has acquired such a huge amount of debt that he doesn't have ways to make money in the near future either and he feels he doesn't have any useful skills to do something about it. However, Bex has his pride and keeps trying to make a fortune on his own, instead of accepting handouts like his father. When he meets Lucy he's intrigued, but he knows he has nothing to offer her. Staying away from her proves to be impossible though, especially when she makes him an offer he can't refuse. Will Bex be able to find a way out of his dire situation, so he can be worthy of the woman of his dreams after all?

The Offer is a fantastic romantic story. I loved Lucy, she's bold, clever and fierce. She isn't afraid to go after what she wants and that's something I greatly admired about her. She has a clear view of what her future should look like and I kept hoping she'd find herself in a better situation than the one she envisions. She's always positive and is sweet and attentive. She's a perfect match for the troubled and conscientious Bex. For Lucy Bex means adventure and there's so much chemistry between them that sparks fly every time they meet. I loved their fabulous connection and couldn't turn the pages of their story quickly enough to find out if they'd get their happily ever after.

Sara Portman has a wonderful descriptive writing style. I love how she makes the time she writes about come to life. I really enjoyed reading about the gorgeous dresses, the impressive buildings and the beautiful music. She skillfully captures the exact right atmosphere, which is one of the biggest strengths of her stories. I loved every single sentence of The Offer, it's such a charming enchanting story. I was mesmerized by this amazing book and think it's an absolute must-read.

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Juliana is on the run from her father. He's a bully and she's always been afraid of him. Because she's old enough to get a small inheritance she risks going to London on her own. The only problem is that she needs to see a lawyer to have any funds, right now she doesn't have any money and needs to get there for free. When she asks Michael for a ride in his carriage he agrees. Juliana doesn't have much, but she knows a duchess in London who can help her. Her life will truly start if she manages to reach the big city, will she be able to stay out of her father's evil clutches?

 Michael is the bastard son of an earl. His father sent him to the countryside to manage an estate, as far away from society as possible, but now he needs something from him and Michael has been summoned to come to London. Taking Juliana with him isn't without danger and the journey won't be as uneventful as he thought it would be. Will they arrive safely? Can Michael forget about Juliana once he's in London and what happens when they go their separate ways, will they ever see each other again?

The Chase is a wonderful captivating story. I was immediately intrigued by Juliana's background. She doesn't have suitable clothes for the journey and her possessions are meagre, but she's smart and resilient, which makes it possible for her to get whatever she wants. Finding out if she could stay out of the hands of her father kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the combination of a thrilling ride with sparkling romance, it works really well. She and Michael have a dazzling connection that melted my heart and I enjoyed their dynamic sweet story from beginning to end.

Sara Portman knows how to write about true love. I really like how she makes emotions come to life. For me all of her stories are true gems. The Chase put a big smile on my face, it's beautiful romance filled with adventure, which is exactly what I like. I was fascinated by the main characters and couldn't wait to find out their secrets. I liked their interaction and was curious to see what would happen when their journey would come to an end. The Chase has many surprising twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. I really loved this amazing heartwarming book.


If you love regency romance The Brides of Beadwell series is an absolute must-read. The books can be read as standalones, but I don't think you want to miss any of these amazing stories.

About Sara Portman

Sara Portman is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance. Her debut novel, THE REUNION, was named the 2015 winner in the Historical Category of the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest.

A daughter of the Midwest, Sara was born in Illinois, grew up in Michigan, and currently lives in Ohio. In addition to her writing endeavors, Sara is a wife and mother in a large, blended family.

When not reading or dreaming up romantic fiction, Sara works in corporate finance by day and holds a B.B.A. in Accounting. As part of her academic experience, Sara spent a semester in London, UK through a study abroad program at Richmond College in London. Her anglophile tendencies continue today.


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One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive digital copies of the complete Brides of Beadwell series: The Reunion, The Offer and The Chase by Sara Portman.

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The Beekeeper's Promise by Fiona Valpy - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Abi hopes being in France will heal her. She's there for a short stay, but when she gets the offer to work at Château Bellevue, she immediately accepts. She loves the beautiful place filled with history and has enough free time on her hands to spend a few months there. Abi has been through a lot and it's time for her to get back on her feet. Will being at the château make a difference? While she's staying there, Abi learns about what happened at the castle during WWII. She's fascinated by the story and hearing about the bravery of others might make Abi fierce enough to chase her own dreams as well.

It's 1938 and life is wonderful at Château Bellevue. Eliane loves her bees. She's a skilled beekeeper and gardener and working at the thriving Château Bellevue makes her happy. She's in love with wine maker Mathieu and knows he wants to marry her. Eliane's future is looking promising, but then the war breaks out and Eliane and her loved ones are in danger. The Germans have occupied the area and have chosen the castle as their new residence. Eliane joins the Resistance, but this comes at a price. Will she and Mathieu, now being separated from each other by the Germans, ever find their way back to each other again?

The Beekeeper's Promise is a beautiful moving story. I was immediately intrigued by the two brave main characters who have Château Bellevue in common. Fiona Valpy alternates between Abi and Eliane and I equally loved their stories. Abi is in France to get over a terrible trauma. The castle is a loving place and being there slowly makes her feel better. She's fascinated by Eliane's story, which is truly amazing. Eliane is brave, strong and smart. She keeps risking her own life for others and I admired her strength and courage. She's a remarkable woman with a kind heart. I couldn't turn the pages of The Beekeeper's Promise quickly enough to find out if she'd survive the war. Eliane's story inspires Abi and I absolutely loved that. She needs kindness and support and I kept hoping she'd embrace her future after the nightmare she's been in. I really like it when I feel so invested in the main characters of a story.

Fiona Valpy has a great captivating writing style. Her marvelous descriptions of the French countryside are making it come to life in a fantastic way. I could easily picture the castle and its surroundings and loved how she made me see every single detail. The Beekeeper's Promise is an impressive emotional story. Fiona Valpy knows how to portray deep feelings of fear, longing, unconditional love, selflessness and regret. She's paid careful attention to every aspect of her story and that shows. The result is a terrific book that I highly recommend.


If you love beautiful emotional stories that are set in both the past and the present you don't want to miss The Beekeeper's Promise.

About Fiona Valpy

Fiona Valpy spent seven years living in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007. She and her family renovated an old, rambling farmhouse in the Bordeaux winelands, during which time she developed new-found skills in cement-mixing, interior decorating and wine-tasting.

All of these inspirations, along with a love for the place, the people and their history, have found their way into the books she’s written, which have been translated into German, Norwegian, Czech, Slovenian and Turkish.

Fiona now lives in Scotland, but enjoys regular visits to France in search of the sun.



One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Beekeeper's Promise by Fiona Valpy.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.