Thirst of Steel (The Tox Files #3) by Ronie Kendig

Genre: Military Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: July 2018

Cole and Haven have witnessed and endured the unimaginable since the fight against a centuries-old disease reunited them. Now they want nothing more than to start their life together, but the Arrow & Flame Order continues to advance more determined than ever.

On the hunt for the dismantled sword of Goliath believed to thirst for the blood of its enemies, the AFO will stop at nothing to accomplish its mission, including kidnapping Tzivia and Ram’s father. It is up to the Cole and the Wraith team to stop them, but shifting alliances and deadly secrets threaten to unravel the team and shatter Cole and Haven’s future before it begins.

WOW! Indiana Jones meets a Tom Clancy story with a touch of the supernatural in the conclusion to The Tox Files. High stakes and twists galore make Thirst of Steel an impossible to put down novel that leaves the reader reeling long after finishing. Ronie Kendig rakes her audience through the coals. I spent a good portion of the second half bawling. First, because I feared what might come, and then because my fears took place in the most shocking way imaginable. My heart hated the ending, but my head couldn’t argue its power. Days later, I still struggle to process everything that happened and choke up even as I write this.

A masterful storyteller, the author proves her metal creating nail-biting suspense and mind-bending events that leave one breathlessly suspended at the edge of his/her seat. Yet even beyond that, Kendig shines by expertly penning characters the reader becomes invested in, rooting and mourning for them as though of flesh and blood.

Kendig fans won’t want to miss this third and final installment in the series, and for anyone new to The Tox Files, I strongly suggest starting at the beginning. Could Thirst of Steel stand alone? Possibly, but a lot of depth would be missed.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

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Rose in Three Quarter Time (The Vienna Trilogy #2) by Rachel McMillan

Genre: Romance
Publication Date: September 2018

Rose McNeil steadily scales the musical ranks at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Her skill with the violin has landed her the first chair assignment with the Rainer Quartet under the direction of Oliver Thorne. But when her visa expires, she faces losing everything — her dream job, the city she’s come to love, and the growing friendship between her and Oliver.

The youngest conductor in the quartet’s illustrious history, Oliver Thorne had other aspirations, but a tragic accident destroyed his cello-playing career. Rose’s unparalleled talent inspires the British ex-pat to dream again, reviving hopes he believed long-buried. However, when her visa renewal is denied, he risks not only losing his first violinist, but the woman who has become increasingly dear to him.

Enter the plan: a marriage on ink and paper only. They will share name and rent, and flip a coin for the bed. She will play, he will conduct, and the rest of the orchestra will never know because fraternization between members is prohibited. However, one little complication exists — love. And marriage just might get in the way of feelings they desperately try to conceal.

Rachel McMillan composes another sweeping performance with Rose in Three Quarter Time. Loss, friendship, and love blend to form the perfect harmony in this tale of shattered dreams and the new hopes that take their place.

As someone who belongs to two countries but whose heart beats for yet another, I am amazed at how McMillan expertly extracts the essence of those emotions. Rose’s location, journey, struggles, and triumphs might be different, but I recognize the story because in many ways it is mine (sadly without an Oliver).

While the striking locales and vivid descriptions call me, it is the authenticity of McMillan’s characters that captivates me. These aren’t suave models and movie stars with all the right words and moves. They are genuine — in the awkward, messy, and exquisitely imperfect kind of way. Their beauty doesn’t stem from flawless skin or a six-pack, but from their realism. They are you and me.

Rose in Three Quarter Time does not stumble into the pitfall of so many novellas. At no point does it feel rushed. Perfectly developed, I didn’t walk away feeling like I’d only experienced half of the story or, worse yet, survived a hurricane of events and feelings in its attempt to cram it all in. Of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t have loved to spend more time with Rose and Oliver — just try saying goodbye to this pair and Parcheesi the cat! I definitely recommend this tale to romance fans.

Review copy provided by author. Thanks!

Interview: Alexis Goring

When you walk into a bookstore you make a beeline for what section?

When I walk into a bookstore, I head for the Christian Fiction section first because I like to check out inspirational fiction and nonfiction stories and fill up on those first.

Favorite place to write: My room by the double windows because of the beautiful rays of sunlight during the daytime and rich dark blue at night.

Go-to writing snack or drink: Chocolate chip cookies or a slice of chocolate fudge cake

What does your writing nook look like?

My writing nook features a comfortable computer desk station as the base with shelves that are overflowing with books!

Something you must do or have to write:

Music! I listen to my playlist on YouTube. My list consists of movie soundtracks and favorite songs by some of my favorite music artists in the genres of Contemporary Christian/Gospel/Pop/Country music.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe) writer resource:

The Christian Writers Market Guide (book)

What book is currently on your nightstand?

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

It’s a toss-up between paperback copies and my Kindle books because while I love to hold the actual book in my hands and flip through the pages, it’s so much easier to store multiple digital books on my Kindle. Carrying around more than one book is troublesome but with e-books, I can carry around hundreds of books (literally) that do not weigh anything because they’re stored in my Kindle which itself is very lightweight. I love it!

What was the inspiration behind Love in Pictures?

My love for wedding photography, Italy, Journalism and romance stories all are the inspiration behind my story, Love in Pictures!

Favorite part of writing Love in Pictures: Creating the characters!

Hardest part of writing Love in Pictures: Writing about sensitive topics that many people of color go through but mainstream society feels uncomfortable talking about in real-life.

If Love in Pictures was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

I’d like to cast Katerina Graham as Michelle Hadley and Drew Van Acker as Logan Emerson BUT I’d like to give new actors who are bubbling over with untapped talent, a chance. So if there are new actors who are excellent, I’d go for it especially if their looks were similar to my book cover models.

Check out my storyboard on Pinterest for story related scenery and details!

What is next?

My next book is about a formerly fat pastry chef who is now considered one fine brother by all the ladies. However, he cannot commit to any of his adoring female fans because his heart is set on the one girl who he loved from afar in high school. He was too shy to ask her out on a date back then and now, he is afraid that he’ll never see her again. What he does not know is that she grew up to be a food writer and her magazine office is located down the block from his bakery.

About the Story:

Wedding photographer Michelle Hadley has a passion for diversity and believes that love comes in all colors. So, she’s working hard to convince editors to feature her clients’ images on the covers of the mainstream bridal and wedding magazines.

Despite having a career that focuses on celebrating forever love, Michelle has never actually been in a romantic relationship, and she’s not looking for love, until she meets the one man she cannot forget.

Since his fiancée broke his heart, Logan Emerson’s focus has been on his career. He’s won awards for his work as a print journalist and dreams of greater success on television as a broadcast journalist. But his personal struggle presents many challenges that might prevent his dreams from coming true.

Michelle doesn’t date often, and since his heartbreak, Logan has shied away from the dating scene. But something about Michelle awakens Logan’s desire to love again.

Connect with the Alexis through her Website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and “God is Love” blog.

Spotlight: The Cost of Betrayal by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, & Lynette Eason

About the Stories:

In Dee Henderson’s novella “Betrayed,” Janelle Roberts is freed–thanks to people she doesn’t know–after serving six years of a twenty-year sentence for a murder she did not commit. But a murderer is still at large, and Janelle needs to be somewhere safe with someone she can trust. She may not survive another betrayal.

In Dani Pettrey’s “Deadly Isle,” Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on betrayal before they become the next victims?

In Lynette Eason’s “Code of Ethics,” trauma surgeon Ruthie St. John saves the life of Detective Isaac Martinez. After a betrayal leads to him getting shot and then attacked while in recovery, Isaac is now a key witness determined to testify. But someone is intent on silencing him–and those around him–forever. Together, Ruthie and Isaac go on the run, desperate to escape the killers hunting him.

About the Authors:

Dee Henderson is the author of 14 best-selling novels, including the acclaimed O’Malley series and the Uncommon Heroes series. As a leader in the inspirational romantic suspense category, her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RWA’s RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, the Holt Medallion, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Golden Quill. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois and is active online.

Dani Pettrey is the bestselling author of the Chesapeake Valor series and the Alaskan Courage series and winner of the 2014 Daphne du Maurier award for Inspirational Novel, the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best Award for Suspense, and the 2013 Holt Medallion for First Novel. She and her husband reside in the D.C. Metro area.

Lynette Eason is the award-winning, bestselling author of several romantic suspense series, including the Hidden Identity and Deadly Reunions novels. Lynette graduated from the University of South Carolina and went on to earn her master’s degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Interview: Davalynn Spencer

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section? I head for the Christian section and look for romance or suspense – historical romance, contemporary suspense.

Favorite place to write: In the summer I write from my office with a great window-view of birds at the feeder and deer out front. In the winter, I write from my laptop in front of the wood stove. Glass window there too, so I can see the flames. Guess I’m a visual kind of person!

Go-to writing snack or drink: Coffee

What does your writing nook look like? Half the room is writing, half is music. I play on my church’s worship team. I love maps, images of running horses, and hunky cowboys (Can you see my hunky cowboy board?). On the wall that faces my desk is the great window plus framed covers from all my books (10) and a small banner with a Winston Churchill quote: “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”

Something you must do or have to write: Coffee

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe) writer resource: There are truly too many to name. The top of my desk and two bookcase shelves are nothing but resources. However, in the writing of others I find gold nuggets of time-period vernacular or vivid descriptions that enable me to “see” a setting and put it into my own words. I write Western romance, therefore I read what I like to write: stories with laughter, danger, grace, and love.

What book is currently on your nightstand? An old book by deceased Western author and cartoonist, Stan Lynde. The book is Careless Creek. Lynde takes me away to another time and place – isn’t that why we read fiction? Lynde is not a romance writer, but he sure knows how to tell a tale.

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book: All three.

What was the inspiration behind The Miracle Tree? In the back of the book you’ll find an interesting tidbit that germinated this story, so I don’t want to give anything away. But I will say that this story simmered in my heart for five or six years, and I became wrapped up in the lives of Laura and Eli.

Favorite part of writing The Miracle Tree: By far, the favorite part of writing this book, or any other, is when a reader contacts me to tell me a particular phrase or scene resonated with them and encouraged them in their own life. The power of story is what drives me to write, and when I see that same power striking a match in someone’s life, I somehow come full circle.

Hardest part of writing The Miracle Tree: The hardest part was ending it. Not the ending, but saying good-bye to the story, to Laura and Eli. I know them better than I know most flesh-and-blood people!

Photo credit: Pinterest

If The Miracle Tree was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?  I have an image of Eli on my Miracle Tree Pinterest page. I know most people will think the guy is Chris Pratt, but I’m telling you, it’s Eli Hawthorne III. Seriously. As far as Laura Bell goes, this is going to sound crazy, but the girl on the book cover – whoever she is – is my vision for Laura.

What is next? I’m looking forward to the November release of my historical Christmas novella, Snow Angel.

Anything else you would like to share? I’m the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters. For years my husband hauled several comedy-animal acts when we rodeoed. One year during the bull riding at the Estes Park Night Rodeo (Colorado) he was gunned down by a bull that broke his ribs and tore off his ear. We were under contract for the rest of the week, so after my husband was patched up and released by the surgeon, I finished out the week doing the acts in his place, dressed in his clothes. I didn’t fight bulls, though. Another bullfighter took care of that. My mama didn’t raise no fool.

About the Story:

Laura Bell needs a second chance, not a new romance. Home to heal and start over, she finds the neighbor boy she once idolized is a sharp-edged former Marine with secret wounds of his own. Eli Hawthorne’s prayers are finally answered when Laura returns, but he’s half a man now, and his scars may be too much for her. Laura and Eli can fill the empty places in each other’s heart if pride doesn’t keep him from trusting God and fear doesn’t blind her to the miracle of the boy she left behind.

Connect with Davalynn through her Website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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