Gifted Book By: This novel “Harlequin’s Riddle” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.
Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “Harlequin’s Riddle” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I was quite smitten with all the stories I’ve selected to feature from this Independent Publisher – each of the guest features will tuck us closer to the stories themselves, introduce us to the writers and give us a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy stories which are being independently published by publishers who champion the crafting of stories and the writers who have created these fantastical worlds for us to discover.
I wanted to begin this series of features with Ms Nightingale – as her world is a rather curious one – both from the perspective of what initially inspired her series and how she first fused curiosity to building the foundation of this world she’s given us to read and by how her characters simply step forward from that world and embrace our imaginations.
As you might remember – two years ago, I had the lovely pleasure of running a series of guest features for Odyssey Books. Their authors were very welcoming to me and open to my enquiries as much as they returnt my interview and guest post topics with such hearty depth – it was a true pleasure to host all of them! I even interviewed one of them via #SatBookChat as I did a takeover chat experience that year as well.
Last year, I was able to start my readings again of Odyssey Books via “Cassandra” (see also Review) whilst previously I had featured Elizabeth Foster’s “Esme’s Wish” (from 2020: see also Review) and Felicity Banks Rahana trilogy: “The Monster Apprentice” (from 2020: see also Review) and “The Princess and the Pirate” (see also Review) in 2021.
This #WyrdAndWonder I am picking up from whence I last left off – I have the complete set of stories for the Tales of Tarya to read and I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t want to set out to read the first novel if I knew I couldn’t read the rest of the series. Thereby, I waited until our 5th Year to begin my journey into this world and it is my hope to read the rest of the Odyssey Books I have on my shelves every Monday throughout May. Part of what drew me into these stories was the premise of them — how they are a combination of reshaping what we understand about Shakespeare against what we love about Mythological Fantasy and Fantasy which is set in a world re-inspired by another writer.
Whilst I am planning to read the Odyssey Books authors on Mondays – you’ll find two more lovelies from them being featured and read this month: “Esme’s Gift” the sequel to “Esme’s Wish” and “The Shadow of the Skytree” (see also Interview). I am attempting to get a copy of “Songlines” by Carolyn Denman as well. Join me on Mondays as I take my own odyssey into a publisher’s canon of stories and series.
Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again. On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for storytelling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.
Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a storyteller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?
Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy, #YAFantasy, #TalesOfTarya
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder
About Rachel Nightingale
Rachel Nightingale has been writing since the age of eight (early works are safely hidden away). Harlequin’s Riddle is her first novel.
Rachel holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards, and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014, while another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila in 2016. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2013-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train.
The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle, began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, and began to wonder what you might find in that place between worlds.
Acquired Book By: I’ve come to know this series [Heroes of Shelter Creek] through hosting the blog tours celebrating releases within the series with Prism Book Tours. However, this September in lieu of an organised blog tour Ms McEwen was seeking book bloggers who were interested in her series and wanted to read the fourth novel in the series “Rescuing the Rancher”. Whilst I was conferring with the author about receiving this for review, I asked if I could receive the second novel in the series “After the Rodeo” as I never had the chance to read Jace and Vivian’s story! I was thankful that Ms McEwen was also available to be a featured guest during my @SatBookChat wherein I celebrate Romance, Women’s Fiction, strong female characters across genres and Feminist Lit on Saturdays each month.
I decided to read and feature “After the Rodeo” ahead of her #SatBookChat appearance and run my review during my #RomanceTuesdays feature wherein I love to showcase Harlequin Heartwarming and Love Inspired authors as they are writing the kinds of Romances I am appreciating most to be reading right now.
I received a complimentary copy of “After the Rodeo” direct from the author Claire McEwen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
This is one of my top favourite #CowboyRomances by Harlequin Heartwarming:
When I was checking my feeds on Twitter a short while ago, I stumbled on an announcement by Ms McEwen who was seeking book bloggers to read and review her latest release of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series – wherein I was most excited seeing the notice posted as this is one of the Western & Cowboy Romance series I love reading the most published by Harlequin Heartwarming!
I wasn’t sure if I would be in time to request the book for review, but I immediately emailed the author and the rest knitted together out of that conversation! I am so thankful I contacted her when I had as it lead me to being reading this second of the series I had missed between books one and three as much as I have been wanting to host more of the authors I love via Harlequin Heartwarming and/or Love Inspired Suspense – having the Blackwell Brothers / Sisters authors booked during @SatBookChat in October, it was a lovely surprise to have Ms McEwen booked for early September!
If you’re a ready reader of Westerns and Western Romances, I hope this showcase might inspire you to give Harlequin Heartwarming a chance at winning over your love of Westerns because the authors who are writing these stories are writing wicked brilliant characters with stories which lift your spirits as you’re reading them! Plus, the settings alone are awe-inspiring and give you the kind of Western experience you are hoping for in a Western Rom!
One interesting turn at the beginning of the novel was learning about the changing tides of the cattle industry – how traditional cattlemen and ranchers wanted to turn towards a greener and healthier way of producing their product and why that was an important resurgency in how they could maintain their ranches. Not that all ranchers were open to innovative changes which McEwen happily discloses within Liam’s own family as his brothers are spilt on the issue whilst their father is keenly invested in learning more – hence, how we find Liam is the chosen one to visit with Jace in Shelter Creek!
I, for one love all sorts of Western Romances however it is a bit rarer when within a Contemporary Western we get to talk about how ranching is trying to change its habits and become a more sustainable industry. Across the board farmers and ranchers are having to diversify their yields yearly due to different issues in climate and how to sustain themselves during leaner years wherein I felt broaching the topic of how they approach ranching their land and their cattle is also a valid point because there is a stark difference between big industry and keeping family ranchers in business by modifying their practices to reach a more educated consumer about the differences in those practices. To say I was wholly intrigued by how this novel began is putting it mildly!
Liam is at a cornerstone of his life – where he has to choose to step forward into his future rather than constantly think he cannot handle what life has to offer. This is an intriguing story about redemption – how a man can redeem his own image and identity of himself post trauma and addiction and redirect his own life back onto a purposeful path which renews his own spirit. The foundation of how McEwen laid that down for us to find was lovely because there was a moment where I felt Jace could inspire Liam simply by someone who had gone before him and had to re-alter his own opinion about what life could involve for a man who had a determined view of his own path. Even though I hadn’t had the chance to read After the Rodeo, McEwen gave some lovely hints toward Jace’s own story where I felt I could intuit why she wanted Liam closer to Jace during this transitional period of his own life.
Trisha has such a unique job at the wildlife center – I remember visiting those whilst growing up and wondering about the people who worked there. As I was fascinated how close the handlers could get to the wild animals and how much trust was between the handler and/or trainer and the animal themselves – this is one reason why I love watching shows and series like Crikey! It’s the Irwins because you get to see inside this hidden world of where animals and humans have united together for their own protection and conservation. Trisha has a heart of gold though – even though her life’s story is unconventional – it just suits her personality because she adapts to whatever is happening in her life in the moment. I liked her instantly where we find her in Her Surprise Cowboy because of how earnest she is about finding what Jace and Vivian share between them and how confident she is in her own abilities to give back to the center.
It was humbling coming into Jace and Vivian’s life a bit second-handed to get to know them in such an interpersonal way – because a lot of what anchoured Liam and Trisha together was through the fusion of friendship with Jace and Vivian. They really stepped up to the plate to help out their friends whilst they also offered a lot of heartfelt mentoring. Jace especially gave a lot back to Liam – as I had a feeling they would relate to one another as I was first starting to read this story – both lived the same kind of life in their prior lives and I believed that gave them each a unique perspective on the other. Liam and Trisha needed friends like them because they each were muddling through their own struggles where having a kind friend to lean on would go the extra mile towards finding resolution to what troubled them. Now more than ever I can’t wait to settle into the story of what drew Jace and Vivian together – as there are pieces of their romance peppered inside Her Surprise Cowboy but one day I’ll appreciate reading start to finish!
There is a certain layer of joy in reading a story about second chance romance, new beginnings and the redemption quality of forgiveness. Not just the kind of forgiveness others can give to you themselves but the kind of forgiveness that comes from within the person. A lot of the story is hinged on whether or not Liam and Trisha can find solace from their past and find a way to give themselves the leverage of understanding who they were in the past is not an indication of whom they could become in the future. That’s the rub about the human condition in us all – in not allowing ourselves the wallowing periods of never seeing past mistakes or wrong turns on our path and to continue to seek out the future with an optimistic impression of what we can achieve. By following the footsteps of Liam and Trisha you’re set to find out how forgiveness of one self can lead to a greater freedom than either Liam or Trisha could have envisioned for each other.
McEwen has conceived of a realistic Contemporary Western Romance series wherein each of her characters are struggling through and/or are transitioning through a difficult period of their lives. The realism is brilliantly layered as despite their obstacles and the hurdles they have to overcome there is a defining thread of individual courage and moxie uniting them. McEwen writes soul lifting Contemporary Romance which gives you what you want out of a modern Western Rom whilst grounding you in realistic lives which you can identify with due to how her characters are self-transitioning through the challenges which arise in all of our lives. The circumstances might differ between us and them but its their resolve to fight through to tomorrow which connects us.
Her passion for her job...
could cost him everything...
Former rodeo champion Jace Hendricks has six weeks to turn his run-down ranch around or he could lose custody of his nieces and nephews. But biologist Vivian Reed has to survey his land first - and she won't be rushed. Vivian's optimism and wonder start to win over the kids... and even Jace. But with all that's at stake, can he risk getting any more involved with Vivian?
Rescuing the Rancher – Aidan & Jade’s story (book four)
Second Chance Cowboy – (book five) – featuring ?? → forthcoming April, 2021!
I’ll admit – I was a bit worried this was ending as a quartet until I spied the release for 2021 via FantasticFiction which is my main resource for sourcing advance notice about series I am reading when new installments of those series will be revealled in forthcoming months.
Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books
Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook
*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.
Converse via: #CowboyRomance, #WesternRomance & #ContemporaryRomance
as well as #HarlequinHeartwarming with #HeroesOfShelterCreek
This story received my award for Best Western Contemporary Romance:
subniche Cowboy & Ranchers Romance series
Acquired Book By: I have been hosting blog tours with Cedar Fort Publishing and Media for several years now, wherein their new blog tour publicist (Ms Sydney Anderson) also runs her own publicity touring company: Singing Librarian Book Tours (or SLB Tours for short!). I happily joined her team of book bloggers as a hostess in late Spring, 2018 wherein my first tours with her as a hostess began Summer, 2018. I appreciate reading INSPY literature and was happy to find these are most of the stories she is showcasing through SLB Tours! Most of her authors are published through Cedar Fort, though she does work with authors who are either Self-Published or Indie published through different publishers as well.
I received a complimentary copy of “to Walk in his Moccasins” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
My main takeaways from reading “The Painting on the Pond”:
I admit, I struggled at first to get the rhythm of this novel – as the dialogue and the narrative were a bit on the raw side of delivery. I understood the gist of what Ms Koho was trying to impart to us – as she was attempting to set the scene and apply the layers of what drew the wider lens of suspense around this singular entrance of her lead character – for her artist was newly arrived in an awe-inspiring area of the country where his renewal in his creative pursuits is one-part inspired by his surroundings and one-part enabled by his change in locale (ie. having relocated from the city). However, having said that – a lot of the opening bridge is being told to us rather than enveloping us inside his head – into his thoughts and allowing us to see what is happening to him or rather still, what he is feeling through his emotions. A lot of start and stops, if you will, as I had to re-align how she began the story in order to get into sync with her writing.
Ms Koho has instilled a beautiful ghost story into the background of her novel – one which involves an old estate, a lost love and a woman who refused to give in to what life revealled. Her true strength is her convicting narrative – where you get to alight in her thoughts, seeing how she wants you to see her characters and it is the better half of the novel. She likes to enlarge your perception and get you to think about the different possibilities before she reveals what is truly going on.
Where she errors a bit is showing dialogue and conversation – something I admit, is one of the harder bits to writing, as being a writer myself, I’ve had my own struggles with both of these concepts, which is why I noticed the disconnections. It isn’t that she isn’t on the right track with the dialogue, it’s merely the fact the words don’t joss together correctly. The words feel a bit on the forced side of the ledger rather than the ease of a conversation you’d feel comfortable having aloud with a friend or acquaintance of your own. That’s the trick and proof in the pudding – how dialogue sounds aloud!
One thing Ms Koho relies a lot on is the presumption we’ll go along with believing the suspenseful bits – it’s hard to describe really – I read a lot of Mysteries, Suspense & Thriller stories – but I like the aspect about them where I feel lost inside the ambiance of where the writers are taking me. Where I don’t have it all sorted out, where the more ominous undertones are not as readily apparent as they could be – their more elusive and aloof. In this story, sometimes the suspense gets a bit blurry – there are pieces of clarity here and there, but other times, your being told quite a lot of what you’d rather see through the character’s eyes or experiences. Plus, not everything should feel a bit too neat and too tidy to where the illusion is lost.
Betrayed in the rugged wilderness of Alaska, Jerry Stone has narrowly escaped death, thanks to a desperate rescue by his friends David Young and Rachel Duncan. Injured and in agony, he is flown to a hospital more than a thousand miles from home. However, his own suffering is soon forgotten as he comes to understand the meaning of true courage from a little Indian boy.
Laced with intrigue, adventure, love, and forgiveness, this powerful concluding sequel is a story of supreme loyalty and friendship.
NOTE: Generally speaking, in my experience of reading stories published under the imprint of Bonneville Books, it means the story will be LDS Fiction – rooted in the Mormon faith, however, I did not find this to be the case in regards to the novel ‘The Painting on the Pond’. If anything, it was very lightly INSPY, in regards to the characters acknowledged their spirituality in gentle undertones throughout the content of the story – they prayed and they were open about their concerns, fears, etc but there wasn’t a moment where I would say this was ‘definitively LDS’ as other releases from Bonneville Books would have been as they focused more on the traditions of being Mormon.
The Painting on the Pond Series:
The Painting on the Pond is a prequel for To Walk in His Moccasins which makes me believe this series could in theory be a duology and completely contained within these two installments.
Sharon Lewis Koho grew up on a small ranch near the town of Inkom, Idaho. Her beloved father died when she was five years old, and she and her siblings were reared in humble circumstances by a hard-working and courageous mother.
In her youth, Sharon discovered she could create any world she wanted to visit, or any story she wanted to be a part of by climbing high in the trees bordering her cherished ranch. Daydreaming there amid songs of birds, rustling leaves and the babbling of the nearby creek, inspired many wonderful stories. Sharon married Bill Koho from Nampa, Idaho in 1967, and they were married thirty years until his death in 1997.
She is the proud mother of six children. Although she is a Licensed Practical Nurse by profession, she has had much more experience in creating and telling stories. Her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her children and grandchildren. She also enjoys visiting, traveling, camping, reading, writing, swimming, and any adventurous idea that pops into her head.
Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of , 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 enquired 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 “Falling for You” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The Digital Audiobook copy of the novella “Then Came You” was a self-purchase of my own which I added to my personal digital audiobook library. The copy I read of “True to You” was borrowed via my local library. My ruminations on behalf of the audiobook novella and the first book in the series are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
On the joy of finding a new INSPY Contemporary novelist I love reading,
within the *prequel!* novella ‘Then Came You’ | #BradfordSistersRomance series
I truly have been thankful for my discovery of reading this series by Ms Wade, as I journalled my initial reactions to listening to the *prequel!* audiobook on Twitter, sharing the following:
Whilst #amlistening to Then Came You (#audiobook) a prequel #novella by #BeckyWade – suddenly sorted out ‘where’ this story fits w/in Bradford Sisters Romance series! The ‘Willow’ of Falling for You IS the baby who changed the life of Garner!
As you can gather, I hadn’t connected the dots – nor the sequencing of the series – in essence, if I hadn’t listened to the audiobook (don’t worry, I’ll be sharing my reactions soon!) I might have missed the beautiful back-story of how this series centres on one man’s joyful presence as a father to three darling daughters! They are the ‘Bradford Sisters’ who populate the series, as the novella (Then Came You) explores what happened to Garner Bradford, how he fell in love with parenthood and how he took a rather unconventional approach to both marriage & becoming a Dad!
Initially, it took me a bit to get my bearings within the novella, as this was writ within the style of narrative I personally *adore!* called: Epistolary, where the main format alters points of view from a variety of sources. The traditional approach are through letters (postal mail), postcards & telegrams as I have found this style most present in Historical Fiction. However, in Contemporary story-lines with the advantage of technology, you can see these perspectives explored using a variety of different entries of thought from cell phones, voicemail, text messages, chat interfaces, email exchanges whilst still pulling together a feel for the traditional by augmenting the ‘tech’ with passages from diaries, journals or the letters themselves.
Ms Wade opted to use a journalling approach to allow Garner to get his thoughts down onto paper whilst she used the letter-writing approach to anchour the thoughtful musings of Kathleen into the context of the story-line as well. Supplemented by phone calls (ie. voicemail or live calls), official office memos or notes used for personal correspondence and other variables, you have to get your ‘head’ to wrap round how this novella unfolds in an audiobook narration. Thus, there are some prompts to help you navigate it which I found to be the best way to segue into the story itself, as those prompts helped me realise what was ‘shifting’ in and out of focus. I would presume the shifts would be as easy to read in the print edition as generally speaking that’s where publishers get creative by showing the differences in straight dialogue exchanges and background narrative by selecting certain bits of text to ‘stand-out’ from the rest.
Either way, if I had to choose how I wanted to first ‘greet’ this series, I would hands-down pick the novella audiobook!! By the time I reached the concluding chapters, I was so emotionally taxed and committed to the characters, I felt this true ache in my heart just to *know!* the ending! You truly are on the edge of your soul listening to this story unfold – due to the circumstances contained within it but also, the heart-pulse of watching a relationship build through the aftermaths of how sometimes life doesn’t quite go according to plan. In truth, I felt like I had found a new beloved INSPY Contemporary novelist I could enjoy reading for years to come which is why I capstoned my notes on Twitter by saying the following: