Tuesday, October 15, 2013


By working as a washerwoman for her husband's Army unit, Heather Worth has been able to remain with the man she ran away to marry. Then she discovers she's expecting a child. The year is 1864, and as the troops are preparing to advance into battle in Tennessee, Heather's husband insists that she return to her parents. Much as she hates leaving him, she knows it's the best decision. A battlefield is no place for the birth of a baby. But once she makes her way back to Kentucky, she discovers she's traded one battleground for another.
 In this Christmas novella, Gabhart returns to territory familiar to fans of her Shaker novels--Harmony Hill. How Heather ends up in a Shaker colony, and the subsequent reactions of her family and members of the colony, form the basis for this engrossing story. I'm always interested in the details of Shaker life, and I loved the way the author gave a balanced view of the beliefs of this sect.
 Christmas at Harmony Hill is a novel to savor while curled up in a cozy chair with a cup of tea. Be sure to add extra copies to your gift list. Lovers of historical fiction will be delighted to find Christmas at Harmony Hill under their tree this Christmas.
 My thanks to the author and Revell for my review copy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

THE PROMISE, by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."
 Sir Walter Scott wrote those lines in 1808, and The Promise illustrates the many consequences that arise when Tom Anderson disregards this warning. When he loses his job, he decides to protect his wife, Jean, by not telling her what happened. After all, he's bound to find other employment soon and she'll never have to know.
 Five months later, no job and he's still hiding his secret. Their marriage is beginning to crack at the seams. Jean doesn't know him anymore and the marriage isn't the only thing beginning to crack. So is Tom.
 Walsh and Smalley have written an engrossing story. The life lessons their characters need to learn--of communication and mutual encouragement--will cause readers to stop and think about their own life situations. I know The Promise had that effect on me. I recommend this story highly.
 Although The Promise can be read as a stand-alone novel, readers will enjoy learning more about the characters from The Dance, the first book in the Restoration Series.
 My thanks to the authors and Revell for my review copy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


If you're like me, when you make a decision you figure things are going to go just as you planned. How's that working out for you? Read on to see what happened to our plans for the tram ride to the top of Mt. Howard (8,165 ft.) near Joseph, Oregon.
A little backstory: In late August, after I'd attended the Oregon Christian Writers Conference and was busy with arrangements to attend the American Christian Writers Conference in September, my husband came home from work one day and said, "I wonder if I could have 72 hours of your time?"
Oops! Have I been that busy? Of course I said yes, and asked what he had in mind.
Turned out a trip to Joseph, Oregon, to ride a tram to the top of the mountain was rumbling around on his bucket list, and he wanted us to do it before the ride closed down for the season.
So we made reservations at a lodge near the tram (picture of the lodge through the trees taken on the morning of our ride), and left last Thursday for our adventure.
Right here I have to tell you that Joseph is just about as far away from our home as one can get and still be in Oregon. Thursday's drive took 11 hours, but we were excited about the ride and hikes we planned for Friday, so we didn't care.
Friday morning we drove to the tram so we could get in line and spend our day on the trails at the top of the mountain. Parasailers with huge packs were in front of us, excited about their upcoming flights down from the mountain top.
Then one of the men operating the tram came by the line and told us that there'd been an unexpected, unseasonal snow the night before. Snow on the mountaintop, frozen pipes at the Summit Grill, but not to worry--the tram was working fine to take us up.
Once we arrived, the good news was the snowy mountains were beautiful! So much prettier than they would have been without the frosting.
The bad news was the hiking trails on top were covered with a foot and a half of snow. The few people who arrived before we did had blazed narrow trails out to some of the lookout points, but more than half of the trails were buried. The wind chill kept the temperature around 25 degrees--brisk, to say the least. (Picture of the patio dining area below!)
None of us tram riders were dressed for snow. And there's where the unexpected joy of the day came in. Everyone was slogging through snow halfway up our calves with more snow in our shoes. We were wet, we were cold, but the camaraderie was amazing. If someone wanted to pass on the narrow trails, we'd hold each other up so we wouldn't slip and fall. A couple from Arkansas were overwhelmed and said they'd never seen so much snow in their lives. "Where are you from?" was a question we all asked one another. People offered to stop and take our picture, and we did the same for them. I think I walked about a mile, and my husband went farther up a trail that looked too imposing to tempt me.
To say this trip didn't go as planned would be an understatement. But the smiles and friendliness we encountered are memories that I'll keep forever--memories I wouldn't have if the circumstances had been perfect.
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9