Antique Dreams by Amber Stockton

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A young man’s dying wish grabbed my attention in reading this novel—especially as he was on a lifeboat. Aaron watched as his friend and business partner died while the Titanic sinks into frigid waters. To accomplish his friend’s request, he must visit the man’s family.

Lillian mourns the death of her brother on the Titanic and is slow to build her trust in Aaron, who was with him when he died, yet is drawn to him.

Aaron had recently been pushed out of the family business by an uncle who raised him after the death of his parents. He’s grateful that Lillian’s father gives him a job.

There are some mysteries in this story that initially grabbed my attention—not to mention the connection with the Titanic.

However, the story moved slowly. What initially snagged my interest ended up as a handful of scenes rather than the bigger part I imagined.

The characters are likeable, especially a couple of the secondary ones. It had a nice ending.

Amazon

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Last Day for Byway to Danger eBook Sale!

by Sandra Merville Hart

This is the final day for BookBub’s Featured Deal sale for Byway to Danger, Book 3 in the “Spies of the Civil War” series!

This means that Byway to Danger eBook version will only be available for 99 cents one more day!

Here’s a bit about the book:

Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies.

Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart.

Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril.

As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows?

Buy your copy today!

The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

The Daughters of the Mayflower series

The story opens with Eliza Gentry at 12 and Wyatt Creed at 14 on a cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail. She loves watching the stars and he watches them with her—when he can avoid a beating from his drunken father. Eliza’s own father is the trail boss and he owns the cattle being driven north to Kansas.

Something terrible happens on the cattle drive. Wyatt is there when Ben Barnhart kills Wyatt’s father. It’s Wyatt’s word against Ben’s. The trail boss’s word is law on the Chisholm Trail. It’s swift justice when a single gunshot rings out into the night.

The story picks up again nine years later and the feisty Eliza still misses Wyatt, her friend who watched stars with her on the cattle drive.

The characters in the book drew me into the story right away. I loved the western setting and the story had plenty of twists to keep me guessing the outcome.

I loved seeing Texas cities, Galveston and Austin, and New Orleans, Louisiana, through the novel’s action. A page-turner for me.

Recommended for readers of inspirational historical romances.

Christianbook.com

Announcing Byway to Danger eBook sale!

by Sandra Merville Hart

BookBub has selected Byway to Danger, Book 3 in the “Spies of the Civil War” series, for a Featured Deal!

This means that the eBook for Byway to Danger will be available on all retailers from September 19 – 22 at 99 cents—a great deal!

Here’s a bit about the book:

Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies.

Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart.

Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril.

As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows?

Buy your copy today!

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and Books 2 Read.

Every Day Filled with Hope by Shelia Stovall

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A Weldon Novel, Book 2

I have read other books by this author set in the town of Weldon, Kentucky, and I looked forward to reading this newest release. I wasn’t disappointed, even though much of the story takes place in Niger.

Casey was a famous model for many years before returning to her home in Weldon. Shoppers travel to buy clothing from her boutique and meet her. She dreams of marrying Daniel, whom she has dated for about a year. However, she has a secret.

Daniel had planned to propose to Casey before his doctor tells him the reason for his headaches is a brain tumor. He may not survive surgery. How can he propose now? Nor can he tell her. Their church’s mission trip to Africa may be the last time he can share with her.

Casey’s past reaches out to her in this multi-layered story that kept me turning pages.

Secondary plots involving foster children drew me in as much as the main story.

There are many unexpected twists and turns in this novel that changed where I imagined it to be heading. The author grabbed and held my attention.

Recommended for readers of inspirational contemporary romances.

Amazon

Cinnamon Cake Recipe

by Sandra Merville Hart

Something I enjoy doing as an author of historical novels is searching through old recipe books for the time period that I’m writing. I include those dishes in my novels. “Spies of the Civil War” is my series that released in 2022. Cinnamon cake is one of the staples baked by our talented baker hero in Byway to Danger, Book 3. Our heroine works as his assistant. 😊

A basic recipe for cinnamon cake in an 1877 cookbook, Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping is courtesy of Miss M.E. Wilcox, Selma, Alabama.

Mis Wilcox didn’t provide any measurements for ingredients, which is common for cooks in the 1800s. I’m sharing what I used to make her cinnamon cake. My pre-school granddaughter helped me.

Start with making sponge.

Mix together 4 cups of flour and 2¼ cups of scalded milk that cooled to lukewarm.

Dissolve a packet of yeast in ¼ cup warm water and let it stand for about 5 minutes before adding it to the dough. Knead this into the dough. It will feel soft and elastic.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Set it in a warm place and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Knead the dough again and then roll it on a floured surface until about ¾ inch thick.

Prepare your baking pan with shortening and flour or use cooking spray. (I used a 13 x 9 pan.) Arrange the dough in the prepared pan, gently pressing it to even the layer.

Miss Wilcox used slices of butter, sprinkles of cinnamon, and then sugar but didn’t provide measurements.

I took a little artistic license on this part and melted 4 tablespoons of butter and spread it over the top of the dough.

My granddaughter mixed 2½ teaspoons of cinnamon with 1 cup of sugar. We sprinkled it over the top. I think we could have used about ¼ cup less, but she got on a bit of a roll with the cinnamon sugar—a sweet one! 😊

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

My family enjoyed the delicious cinnamon flavor. If you like cakes very sweet, then 1 cup of sugar is the right amount. If not, ¾ cup of sugar should be plenty.

The cake itself has the sponginess of a bread, which isn’t surprising since that’s how the dough is made.

Also, it’s easier to eat this cake holding it in your hand.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.

Sources

Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 2011.  

An Afternoon in Ripley, Ohio

by Sandra Merville Hart

My husband and I recently joined a group of author friends for a fun day of learning about the Underground Railroad in Ripley, Ohio.

We started out with lunch at the Cohearts Riverhouse. This restaurant is on Front Street, which borders the Ohio River. Friendly staff, a cozy atmosphere, and good food made for a wonderful experience.

Next, we went about a half mile to John Rankin House. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, built his home high on a hill. He kept a lantern lit in his front home where it was visible across the Ohio River to the slave state of Kentucky.

Rankin, his wife, and his children helped hundreds of escaped slaves, escorting them on their way to that next station on the Underground Railroad. Although there were many times when sheriffs and slave catchers sneaked onto the Rankin homestead in the middle of the night, accompanied by gunfire, in pursuit of fugitives, no one was ever caught. None of the family members were killed and all of the fugitives made it safely to the next station.

We were all impressed by the success and sacrifices of the entire Rankin family as we traveled less than half a mile to the Parker House, a man equally as inspiring.

John P. Parker was born into slavery and was sold away from his mother. He ended up at a doctor’s home where the doctor’s sons taught him how to read. John ran away repeatedly but was always caught. Eventually he was sold to a woman who agreed to allow him to buy his freedom for $1,800. He accomplished this and bought his freedom in less than 2 years.

He eventually ended up in Ripley, Ohio. John’s hatred of slavery spurred him to take many trips into Kentucky at night to help fugitives to freedom—journeys filled with danger for, if caught, John would have been hung.

Docent Dewey Scott made the story come alive in his presentation.

We learned a lot that afternoon at both museums. The Rankin and Parker families are an inspiration.

I found this whole afternoon especially inspiring because one of the characters in Byway to Danger, Book 3 in my “Spies of the Civil War” series, has a station on the Underground Railroad in Richmond.

Sources

“John P. Parker House,” National Park Service, 2022/08/08

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/oh2.htm.

“John Rankin House,” Ohio History Connection, 2022/08/08 https://www.ohiohistory.org/visit/browse-historical-sites/john-rankin-house/.

An Inheritance Among the Nations by Dorthy Qualls with Phyllis Qualls Freeman

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Female Missionary Evangelists Share the Gospel with the World

What an inspiring true story!

This book, written by Dorthy Qualls with Phyllis Qualls Freeman, is an autobiographical account of Dorthy’s missionary journeys with Dr. G. Faye Whitten. It’s a biographical account Faye’s life and missions.

Faye did the preaching and Dorthy (Dot) did a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the ministry team.

The book begins with the background for each woman, their friendship, and how each felt the calling to go to other nations to spread the Gospel.

The rest of the book is an overview of a ministry that spanned decades to different countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Danger and hardship await the ministry team, not the least of these are physical difficulties that plague Faye throughout her life. She doesn’t allow them to keep her from preaching.

Dot observes in the book that she learned the power of praising God regardless of the circumstances. It shows, for the hardships that might have convinced others to abandon the ministry didn’t stop the ladies from trusting that God was with them daily.

The author doesn’t dwell on the danger. This can give the illusion that it’s not a concern. Danger is real and those entering the mission field should understand that reality.

An inspiring story about two courageous women! It hops around a bit when earlier events affect current happenings to remind readers how those scenes/people are connected.

One important fact is that they began their ministry in their late forties. Their ministry continued over twenty years, beautifully illustrating we can all make a difference, no matter our age. All in all, the courage these women demonstrated in harsh circumstances is an encouragement to Christians, whether in the mission field or at home.

To purchase the book, contact Dot Qualls.