Blog Book Tour | “Starving Hearts” and “Never Past Hope” by Janine Mendenhall

Posted Friday, 14 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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In keeping with the change of name for my Romance & Women’s Fiction Twitter chat [@SatBookChat previously known as @ChocLitSaturday] – I am announcing a change of features here on Jorie Loves A Story. Since January, 2014 I carved out a niche of focus which I named #ChocLitSaturdays as I have felt the best time to read romantic and dramatic stories are the weekends. This spun into a Twitter chat featuring the authors of ChocLit whilst I supplied weekly topics which would appeal to readers, writers and book bloggers alike. We grew into our own Saturday tribe of chatters – then, somewhere round the time of my father’s stroke in late [2016] and the forthcoming year of [2017] I started to feel less inspired to host the chat.

I had new plans to re-invent the chat in its new incantation as @SatBookChat but I also wanted to re-invent the complimentary showcases on my blog which would reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of #ChocLitSaturday the chat were the stories I was reading which complimented the conversations.

After a difficult year for [personal health & wellness] this 2018, I began anew this Autumn – selecting the stories to resume where I left off featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read whilst highlighting a story by the author I am chatting with during #SatBookChat. Every (forthcoming) Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – wherein I concluded the year of hosting @SatBook during October & November featuring special guest authors whose stories I have either read, were reading or had hoped to read in the future if their newer releases. Going forward, the reviews on Saturdays might inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

Our holiday break for the month of December will find us resuming #SatBookChat the week after New Year’s, 2019 where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction.

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Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “Starving Hearts” direct from the author Janine Mendenhall in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “Starving Hearts” & “Never Past Hope”
and why life didn’t seem to want to give me a break in order to read them:

I have penchant for reading INSPY Fiction – I’ve been a hybrid reader of mainstream and INSPY Fiction since I was a young girl, finding myself attracted to both branches of literature, as to me they are two halves of a whole rather than two seemingly separate enterprises concurrently releasing titles each year. I try to keep a ready eye out on #newtomeauthors of INSPY narratives I feel are either a) going to be uplifting to read or b) are going to give me a wicked good thrill of a read! This is why in July I had such a heap of fun talking about what I was reading during the Christian & Clean Fiction Reading Safari as I was reading authors who publish under the #LoveINSPIRED Suspense imprint from Harlequin! I read a bit outside that imprint as well – but what I loved most was the chilling reading atmospheres of the novels! They had just enough wicked thrills to leave me on the edge of my seat but they pulled back just ‘enough’ to where I felt more uplifted than fatigued reading them! I also loved the fact they were writ under an INSPY imprint and were dearly free of any other concerns I might have had due to content issues.

Shortly after the novels arrived however, my life turnt a bit upside down. To the brink where I lost too many hours to read both novels for the tour and had to reschedule my stop on the tour! My Mum came down with one of those naughty viruses going round – whilst my Dad had a medical emergency the week of the tour spending time in the ER where I consumed copious amounts of cookies (courtesy of the volunteer staff who watch over families/individuals waiting in ERs) and a few cuppas of coffee. I, tried to dodge the virus as best as I could but I was fatigued and exhausted by battling it which is why I was resting quite a heap in the week prior to the tour beginning. On top of all this, our car had a bad tire due to a road hazard and that became a slight nightmare in of itself to resolve which is why my hopes of reading both stories on Thursday (the 13th) flew out the window as I needed to help my parents transition through the week’s unexpected woes instead.

I was able to get back on my blog and settled into my reading chair late into the night on Thursday which in reality was really (early!) on Friday morning! Until, unfortunately life caught up with me – I had a migraine which felt dearly impossible to shake and it made reading extremely difficult. I took a long rest and by the time I woke up, I had to battle through heavy rains and high winds to help my parents with a few necessary errands late in the afternoon / early evening of Friday. I’m accustomed to rainshowers they go with the region, however, what I’m never experienced before are these kind of freezing rains as it proved to be too much for my system to handle! It was late on Friday night when I could finally resume my readings of Starving Hearts though sadly the virus was overtaking rather quickly! You really can catch a cold out in the rain! Or, at least in my case, if your trying to hope not to catch a virus its not the best way to avoid one! I threw in the towel when the heat in the house wasn’t enough to warm me and I felt like my whole body was in shock!

I know it sounds horrid – but what I really wanted to do was have a bit of normalcy in my life – just to get a chance to sit and think about characters and a story felt rather ideal as my emotions were a wreck as much as I was exhausted by life. You know how you just reach your fill and need some downtime? This is why I kept trying to read the stories whilst trying to get through life’s emergencies this week. Unfortunately, I had to take care of myself before I could read Starving Hearts in full and I do regret I basically missed the blog tour as a result.

Thereby, I’m trying to read these stories back to back – releasing my thoughts on behalf of Starving Hearts on Saturday (part of my #SaturdaysAreBookish feature) and posting my thoughts on behalf of Never Past Hope on Sunday/Monday (depends on how I feel) – due to this, I’ll be featuring a few snippets of insight from the rest of the tour below this review as Saturday is the day we’re celebrating the tour itself where everyone gets to have a light shine on their blogs for one final go round! I do apologise if you’ve been following the tour and wondered ‘where is Jorie?’ – let’s just say Jorie ‘had a week’ to end all weeks and is thankful she can have a relaxing bookish weekend!

Specifically what interested me though is the fact this is another release and author originating from a publisher I’ve come to trust as one of my favourites for INSPY Fiction! As you might remember my passion for the series Jennifer Lamont Leo is publishing with them! It is wonderful when you can find new stories by a publisher you’ve come to trust and look forward with anticipation for reading the next new author who might become another beloved favourite!

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Blog Book Tour | “Starving Hearts” and “Never Past Hope” by Janine MendenhallStarving Hearts
Subtitle: Triangular Trade Trilogy
by Janine Mendenhall
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Carol Award Finalist | Selah Award Finalist

Plagued by nightmares, Annette yearns to find her anonymous rescuer — the man who saved her life from a near deadly assault. Deep inside she is starving for companionship and a mutually respectful relationship. When Mr. Peter Adsley, an abolitionist pastor dealing with his own emotional baggage, agrees to a clandestine meeting, the event appears providential. But self-doubt, deception, and the schemes of a mutual enemy threaten to keep the pair apart. A phantom adversary will stop at nothing to win Annette’s dowry for himself, even if it means killing Peter.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781938499845

Published by Heritage Beacon Fiction

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 290

Published by: Heritage Beacon Fiction

an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (@LPCTweets)

Formats Available: Ebook and Paperback

Triangular Trade Trilogy:

Starving Hearts by Janine MendenhallNever Past Hope by Janine Mendenhall

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #INSPY, #HistRom

About Janine Mendenhall

Janine Mendenhall Photo Credit:

I love losing myself somewhere in time with Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice or a number of other classics like Jane Eyre and Redeeming Love. I cry over most things Nicholas Sparks (because they usually end sadly) and Amazing Grace,, both the movie and the hymn, because they lead to the Ultimate happily ever after.

Photo Credit: Photos by Cassie

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my review of starving hearts:

I don’t know quite where to begin! Starving Hearts leads with the premise of a young woman similar in age and independence as Lizzy Bennett making a beeline for a small chapel away from the main house once a thunderstorm disrupts the hope of staying outside. There is a party gathered but what is most disturbing is how quickly everything changes for our young heroine! She finds a rather disagreeable bloke at the chapel who won’t let her keep her peace nor leave her to be alone – wherein he nearly finds a way to take advantage of her! The cause for this attack on her person isn’t readily known but what was also most shocking is the reaction of her mother once she was brought back to the main house!

She had collapsed straightaway as she couldn’t take the trauma of the event itself and as she is coming back to conscience thought and fortitude, her mother is accusing her of something she hadn’t even brought upon herself. This struck me as odd as I read a heap of Historicals each year and crimes like these against women are never quite viewed in this manner of reproach; some might become shunned by their friends or friends of the family but when it comes to the person’s own family? It is very rare you would find a family so insidious in nature as to actually think their relation was the guilty party?

Annette’s mother is quite the beastly boar! Unlike Mrs Bennett whose heart was in the right place for her girls, this mother is only out for herself and her own selfish interests. She wants Annette to marry well if only to entitle her to having a daughter well suited in marriage and decree! The absurdity of it all! I can’t see why she would feel a man who traumatised her daughter would be a match of high respect as that is dearly where her and Mrs Bennett differ greatly!! If you consider Lydia’s circumstances and how the Bennett’s tried to save her from Wickham. Though in truth, he was a lesser of a concern compared to this brute of Likebridge!

Sylvia is a the kind of cousin you’d hope for Annette – a sisterhood friend, a confidante and someone who could sympathise with what she was going through with her mother. Sylvia for her part, has a slightly coy way of not tipping her hat to reveal her motives or to reveal what she has sourced about certain people. In a way, she remains a bit aloof and mysterious – true to her nature but she’s a great companion for Annette whose dearly misunderstood by all. She has a knack for intellectual conversations with an artistic eye for detail and artwork whilst she has a heart for political controversies which affect people’s lives.

On that score, one thing which wasn’t entirely explained is why Annette was passionate about helping the slaves and stopping the slave trade. There are mentions of it happening but nothing that would connect her to those events or to the causes people were volunteering to have an impact on the situations that were getting a bit out of control. It is almost like dropping a news headline but not backing it with a personal conviction.

I truly admired Peter in the story – he was a man who wanted to change his own destiny, choose a path he could undertake as ‘his own’ and yet, the one thing which held him back from accomplishing that was a woman to stand by his side in marriage. He was willing to take a wife, but would a woman be willing to live as he intended? You could hug close to this thoughts and concerns because he lived them on this sleeve as much as his heart. He was a deep thinker and a caring bloke – though the segue about physical attributes being wrong to notice or observe struck me as odd. I’ve found a lot of differences between the Protestant churches I attend and those who are more fundamentally inclined (or even Orthodox) but admiration for personal appearance wasn’t a topic that was typically broached as being sinful. Sin only enters into the picture if you go past admiration to the brink of obsession – I didn’t feel this was well explained on his behalf as he seemed like a regular kind of bloke who simply appreciated noticing a beautiful woman when he saw her pass him by. There is nothing wrong with that and I wasn’t sure why he was being called out for it.

I did agree it is the worth of a person of whom they are on the inside and that love is never meant to be superficially charged – as that leads to unhealthy lust, etc. however, Mendenhall didn’t convince me what Peter was talking about was ‘crossing a line’ but rather simply stating he appreciated what he saw and admired the women for it.

Oy vie. At every new turn of chapter there is more conflict and adversity – though a bit too heavy handed for me in certain places because it is one thing to have conflict to transition through but it is another to feel as if these characters are moving towards a black hole of tragedy where no light shines and no hope of happiness can reach them. It was a rather depressing plot from that angle – where even Peter’s brother is a cad of a rake and his father matching Annette’s mother’s firm beliefs in marriage rites for wealth and security.

My favourite part of the story is when Sylvia wrote Peter a letter – it was a humbling letter of earnest honesty about the tides of life, the uncertainties of security and the ways in which some young women had to choose between family and happiness. Sylvia was placing her family’s needs ahead of her own, trying to make the best choice between two darker realities for her life and yet, in her heart, she respected Peter the most for listening to her confiding thoughts. They shared a mutual respect for one another and had curated a friendship where they could be openly honest with each other about all aspects of their lives. It is one of the best letters I’ve read in a Historical drama as it owns to the era Sylvia and Annette were living but also, the harder choices women have had to make throughout history.

I’ll admit I glossed over the passages involving the slave trade and that vile character Likebridge – he had no redeemable quality to him and he was beyond redemption. I hoped his attempts would be thwarted but what really left me invested in the story were Peter and Annette. They were both critically in need of companionship and an equal partner who could rally together to get through life no matter what circumstances came their way. They were each from families whose hearts and minds were not invested in their own goodwill and where I doubt if their lives fell apart they would be sympathetic. Their families were horrid to be honest and in each other, I saw flickers of hope – the kind of hope which can lead to a slow burning romance and a relationship built through trust and faith.

My heart cheered to see Annette’s father return – he was her best champion and supporter! His kindness was reflective in how he admonished his wife for criticising their daughter; she was too keen on superficial endeavours (ie. titles, for instance) and never considered the wellness of her daughter; this was wonderful to see, how he supported Annette and was her defender!! She needed someone in her corner and his absence I felt was unjust to her as she was stuck with a mother who had clipped her wings at every turn she could to injure her state of mind.

I knew there was going to be brutal heartache for Sylvia; there was no hope of anything else for her as Peter’s brother was as vile as Likebridge (that name is horrid for the kind of bloke he is!) – they felt they could assert their power over women, having any women due their bidding just because they felt entitled and were never checked in conscience for their actions. The cross-reach here for current events is intense and cannot be overlooked. Yet, I go back to the tone of the novel – rather than feel there was light streaming in the underthreads of the plot, I felt this was all  leading towards a rather difficult conclusion.

Even after I knew the fuller story behind Annette’s mother’s turmoil and the horrid secrets kept from her as a younger woman not yet married to Annette’s father, it was difficult to resolve my feelings of her as instead of being loving and kind to her daughter, she was rather repulsive!! There were many tangents of re-direction within the story – all leading towards an ending I think was meant to be shocking but for me fell flat because I was already over knowing anything else about Likebridge. He could have just walked off scene and out of the story earlier on as his character was the foulest one in the bunch.

The harder bits really were resolving what became of Sylvia, Annette and Peter; as well as Annette’s dear hearted father. Their stories were rife with adverse difficulties and at times, I felt their lives were doubly severe in those difficulties to the brink of having their spirits broken. I appreciate reading Romantic Suspense but for me this is a dramatic Historical Romance which overly breaches conflict and adversity.

Fly in the Ointment:

Another bit in the narrative that didn’t sit well with me is whenever the characters were reaching out to God in prayer, they were being chided for it. Almost as if their prayers were being censored and that felt horrid to me, as who has a right to forsake someone’s prayer life? We are allowed to bring everything to the Lord through prayer – whether logical or illogical, right or wrong or even in haste – for emotions, anxieties or grief – yet, never have I found the act of a prayer questioned by a character (or a person for that matter) who was openly trying to be honest with their Heavenly Father. He’s called a ‘father’ for a reason – for He listens to us whenever we turn to to Him and takes our fears and concerns seriously whether or not we feel worthy of His time is irreverent as all of our hours are important to Him. Not to mention each walk of faith is personal and individual – so I’m not sure why there was such empathsis on what was ‘right or wrong’ as Annette and Peter were showing their walks of faith in the narrative itself. That kind of upper handed influence was rankling as it just did not sit well with me.

on the romantic historical suspense styling of janine mendenhall:

The very first page I read in Starving Hearts was the note of acknowledgements and praise notes of gratitude Ms Mendenhall shared with all of us who are reading her novel. It is one of the most uplifting pages to read and I am so thankful I started my journey inside this story on this particular page! I make it a treat to seek out the ‘extra’ bits and bobbles authors leave for us in their stories – as it makes reading sweeter for me. I like to get inside their head a bit, see where their heart is directing their thoughts and peer into their writerly lives a bit prior to reading the story they’ve written. If you pick up this novel, you’ll find a lovely note by an author who puts her soul and spirit into her words. I left the end notes and letter to her readers for ‘after’ I’ve read the novel in case you were curious!

The hardest part about reading Starving Hearts is the undertone of the novel – it is a bit darker in shades of intrigue than other INSPY Romantic Suspense novels I’ve read and these happen to be stories I love seeking out to read. There is a bending towards the sinister to the darker underscope of human nature and of how those who intend ill will to others seemingly have the upper hand. The tone of course is altered from the other stories I’ve read which pull you through the Light of a Romantic Suspense novel with INSPY undertones rather than what I was finding inside this one. It is rather hard to pin down the differences except to say this is writ darker than most I’ve previously read.

And, to be honest, the stories where the families are not supportive of girls and women who are attacked by men are not my favourites to read. Not everyone has a supportive family I grant you, but there are other stories where they have a circle of friends or extended family members where they offset their immediate family’s judgements with love and support. In this story, the hardest part to reconcile is that you really wish Annette’s father was more present in the beginning of the novel as it would have been interesting to view his opinions and thoughts on what was happening to Annette vs only having to rely on her mother’s tart remarks.

In conclusion of reading the story I read the letter at the end of the novel by the author; though I must confess the story did not readily alight in my bookish heart as being a favourite nor did I feel closer in faith reading it because I was in full conflict with my thoughts, emotions and my own spirituality reading the story. There were a lot of sinister instances in this novel which I felt were quite over the top for a (supposed) INSPY Romantic Suspense novel and even though there was retribution in the ending chapters, for me, most of this story simply wasn’t my cuppa tea. I’d rather read the other authors I know and love who write INSPY Romantic Suspense because at least with those stories I don’t feel depressed by the darkness in the stories but rather feel uplifted by the Light permeating through the narratives as those characters have their lives redeemed through their adversities.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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Janine Mendenhall blog tour via Prism Book ToursClick through via the badge to find out what else awaits you! Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

As promised – here are some thoughts by the bloggers of whom I share a mutual love of Prism Book Tours as we discovered the writings of Ms Mendenhall together whilst participating on this lovely blog tour!

“From the first page, the reader’s interest is immediately drawn into the tale. The adventure and intrigue continue mounting until the very end of the book. [Starving Hearts] is an outstanding, well-written story, during the time of abolition and beginning reformation. It, also, addresses he ignorance concerning some of the health issues and treatment of that time period.” – Starving Hearts

Rockin Book Reviews | Review

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“Over all, this was an interesting and intriguing story to read. And really good writing for the author for a debut novel. There’s a lot going on in this book, many twists and turns that are not expected, making the book more entertaining, and keeping the interest of the reader to want to keep reading to find out what is on the next page.” – Starving Hearts

Splashes of Joy | Review

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“This was an interesting read, I loved the time period and it was fun to get to know these characters.” – Starving Hearts

Deal Sharing Aunt | Review

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Starving Hearts is a good beginning to the Triangular Trade Trilogy. I absolutely loved Annette and Peter. The story has some mystery and suspense. I mostly appreciated the historical details and found them to be quite interesting.” – Starving Hearts

Locks, Hooks & Books | Review

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Starving Hearts” and “Never Past Hope”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Janine Mendenhall and the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Quotations from the blog tour featuring Janine Mendenhall was also provided by Prism Book Tours and are being used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SaturdaysAreBookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 14 December, 2018 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 18th Century, Agnostic (Questioning & Searching or Unsure), Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Prism Book Tours, Questioning Faith as a Teen, Romance Fiction

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