Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Book Review & Giveaway: Nasty Gets Us Nowhere


Let me preface this review by saying that I do not read a lot of what I call "mainstream" Christian women's nonfiction.  I believe many popular books of that nature are unbiblical and harmful to today's Christian women.  Rachel Hollis and Ann Voskamp, for example.  (I have strong opinions about this.)  However, when I was presented with the opportunity to read this book about feminism and its nasty role in modern culture, I was interested enough to choose the book to read, mainly because it's a topic that I've discussed with friends and that has been taught by my pastor's wife (who has written two books on the subject as well).

I wish I had been given a print version of the book because the formatting was difficult to read on my phone, plus I like to read print versions of nonfiction because it's easier to make notes and flip back and forth between chapters.  It definitely hindered my ability to analyze the book as a whole, but it will not affect the review I give.

Overall, this was a good book.  I can give it a solid 4 stars for content.  I do think that it offers a good overview of several subtopics to do with feminism, but I understand that writing more deeply would have made it a longer, perhaps heavier, book to read.  It's not a difficult book to read, although I didn't necessarily fly through it (mainly because of the format that was given to me).  I didn't learn anything profoundly new, mostly because I've read my pastor's wife's books and she teaches on these topics as well, but I still enjoyed reading the book.

Here are some quotes that I highlighted in the book:
What we need is a forgiveness and restoration movement.  We need to come together, build each other up, and speak to the strengths of each other's gender.  We need a movement of complementing each other instead of competing with each other.

This is a book that would be beneficial for both women and men to read as it gives good perspectives on how men and women are different and what works best for each of them relationally. 

About the Book

Book:  Nasty Gets Us Nowhere

Author: Drenda Keesee

Genre:  Family & Relationships

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Two women who forever changed the world followed a plan to better their lives. One chose God’s design for her. The other listened to a different voice that questioned God and rebelled against Him.

Women and men today face the same decisions that confronted Mary and Eve. We can either seek the Tree of Life with God…or keep biting into the bitter fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Statistically, women today are less happy than at any time in measured history. This extolled knowledge of good and evil has had consequences. It’s not about equality in work, pay, or choices. It’s about women wanting to become “like men” instead of being women. It’s about women who aspire to be “nasty” and men who are confused about what it means to be a real man.

Nasty Gets Us Nowhere reveals the powerful truth behind learning to do relationships like Christ, particularly relationships between men and women. Our culture often incites rebellion, but God calls us to work together. As Galatians 5:15 says, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (niv).

In an age saturated with feminism and gender wars, ex-feminist Drenda Keesee combines her wit, humor, and life experience to unpack a powerful, timely message that sets the record straight. She reveals why men and women have conflict, what God’s plan for unity is, and how men and women can unite to create an unstoppable force. Drenda believes the pendulum is swinging and there are many conservative women and men who want to make amends and discover how to have relationships that work. There’s also a younger generation searching for keys to live a different life than what they’ve seen modeled.

Drenda says we can see eye to eye when we first see heart to heart and spirit to spirit, coming from a place of cooperation instead of conflict. God’s Spirit coupled with His plan is the only answer to the separation and relationally destructive forces at work in the gender wars. It’s time for restoration and healing, to bring men and women side by side, hand in hand. There’s much at stake. We must understand our uniqueness, our vulnerabilities, and Christ’s unalterable principles for successful working and loving relationships to experience fulfillment and lasting peace.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Drenda Keesee is a speaker, pastor, daytime television show host, entrepreneur, and author of several books. She has ministered on television and radio and at churches, seminars, and conferences for more than twenty years. Drenda is passionate about bringing women into spiritual, emotional, and relational wholeness so they can live “The Happy Life,” and has founded several programs to that end.

She and Gary Keesee, her husband of thirty-five years, met while attending Oral Roberts University and pastor the 4,500-member Faith Life Church, with campuses in New Albany and Powell, Ohio.

The Keesees have created several successful businesses in the financial arena and are the founders of Faith Life Now, which produces two television programs: Drenda, seen daily on several networks and weekly on Daystar; and Fixing the Money Thing, airing daily on Daystar, GEB, BET, Victory, CTN, VTN, and NRB. Drenda serves as host on these programs, which reach 750 million households worldwide.

Drenda has appeared on numerous other television programs, including Joyce Meyer’s broadcast Enjoying Everyday LifeTable Talk with Joni with Joni Lamb, Marcus & Joni with the Lambs, VictoryThon, and more. She has been featured on CharismaNews.com, Hannah Keeley’s Crazy Blessed podcast, thelaundrymoms.com, and on the cover of Daystar News. Drenda also speaks at conferences worldwide and is known for her ability to inspire, empower, and encourage others to improve their marriages, raise strong children, get out of debt, and embrace God’s best for their life.
In addition to her graduate studies at Oral Roberts University, Drenda received a master’s degree in Christian counseling from Logos University and an honorary doctorate of divinity from CICA International University and Seminary.

The Keesees have five children and several grandchildren. They reside in New Albany, Ohio.

More from Drenda

Nasty Gets Us Nowhere reveals why men and women have conflict and God’s plan to unite them for His kingdom. Coming from a feminist background, I realized that wasn’t the way God intended for me to live.

Blog Stops

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 10

A Baker’s Perspective, September 11 (Spotlight)

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 12 (Spotlight)

Godly Book Reviews, September 13

Blossoms and Blessings, September 14 (Spotlight)

deb’s Book Review, September 14

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 15

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 16

Texas Book-aholic, September 17

Artistic Nobody, September 18 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Inklings and notions, September 19

For Him and My Family, September 20

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 21

Splashes of Joy , September 22 (Spotlight)


To celebrate her tour, Drenda is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Book Review: The Black Midnight

I love a good book that makes me think!  Sometimes the challenge of trying to figure out who-dun-it makes for a very satisfying and engaging read - even if I turn out to be wrong!  Couple that with historical fiction and that makes for a winning book!

I actually read this book twice.  I read it the first time when I first got it a month or two ago (I requested the book, received it for free, and am giving my honest opinion) and then again last night (which is a little more than a week before this book review is published).  I enjoyed it the first time, and I really enjoyed it the second time!  

The Black Midnight was a very engaging book!  Even though much of it is fiction, there were enough historical details to make it seem real.  Neither the Midnight Assassin nor Jack the Ripper was ever identified in real life and the story reflects this; however, I did enjoy the author's unfolding of who might have been involved (again, fictional, but believable).

I really enjoyed "meeting" Queen Victoria in this book.  There were one or two other secondary real-life characters, but she was the one who intrigued me the most with such characteristics as her using her third-person "we/us" instead of "I/me."  I noticed in reviewing my highlights of the book that she only uses the third-person when she speaks of herself as Queen; other times, she uses I/me when she is speaking on a personal level - for example, to Annie whom she calls Kitten.

In my second reading of the book, I realized that Annie is very much like her great grandmother Queen Victoria in this book:  commanding, in control, imperious in manner, yet very, very likable.
"She is the queen, Isaiah."  Annie sighed.  "She can do whatever she wants.  Just be thankful that she does not."
Another character that I liked (because I disliked him) is a journalist who does anything he can to get the scoop on the case of the Midnight Assassin.  Annie, who is extremely perceptive, catches onto him at once and puts him in his place:
"Thank you for that insight.  I see you are intent on proving yourself as good a detective as you claimed at dinner.  I fail to be impressed, but you have my permission to continue trying.  Good night, Mr. Blake."
Don't you just love that?  I would love to be as witty and direct as she is!

Annie's partner Isaiah is also very insightful and very thoughtful.  I love what he said to Annie:
"I see you in there," he said, his eyes on hers.  "I don't know who you are yet, but I want to.  And I am willing to wait."
I also love this interchange between Isaiah and the Queen:
"I have learned that patience is a virtue."  He paused.  "And that what is meant to be will be." 
One dark brow lifted.  "And what cannot be?" 
"Takes a little longer, ma'am," he said in his Texas drawl.
The Black Midnight is like a character in itself; as a matter of fact, it ..... I just realized that might be a bit of a spoiler.  Just get the book and read it.  You won't be disappointed!

About the Book

Book: The Black Midnight
Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Genre: Christian Historical Suspense
Release Date: August 2020

Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend

Book 7 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, women were dying in their beds as The Midnight Assassin terrorized the citizens of Austin, Texas. Now, with suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin case and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter.

The prospect of a second chance to work with Annie just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer. If his theories are right, they’ll find The Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the feisty female left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago.

Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than sixty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad.

More from Kathleen Y’Barbo

I am a tenth-generation Texan, but London has held a place in my heart for over ten years. You see, I have a son who has lived there for more than a decade. Thanks to him and his family of three—my granddaughter was born there on New Year’s Eve 2019—the city will always be special to me. There is absolutely nothing like walking those streets with a thousand years of history close enough to touch.

It was on a walk with my son through this great city that the stories of nineteenth-century London came alive. With fog shrouding the rooftops of buildings that were hundreds of years old and our footsteps echoing on the cobblestones, I could imagine a time when lack of electricity and CCTV would make this place less than charming on a dark night. What reminded me of my favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, quickly became more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. And then a story was born.
Only I just had half the story.

The other half came to me several years later when I stumbled across an article in Texas Monthly magazine about a serial killer who rampaged through Austin, Texas in 1884 and 1885 and was never caught. Some surmised this madman, called “The Midnight Assassin” by some, might have been Jack the Ripper honing his skills before he crossed the Atlantic to begin his famous crime spree in Great Britain.
But Austin? Ironically, my other two sons lived in Austin. So while part of my heart was in London, two more parts of that same heart resided in the Texas capital. I thought I knew Austin inside out. Between one of my sons getting not one but two degrees from the University of Texas (this Aggie grad is still proud of him in spite of what I jokingly call his burnt orange rebellion) and my other son living there and managing a restaurant at the time (and who just graduated from Texas A&M Galveston last month!), I had spent many years in the city. And yet I had never heard of the Midnight Assassin.

Research turned up a tale that sounds so close to fiction I had to write about it. Discovering the theory that the Austin killer might also be the Ripper just added to my interest—neither had been caught. And I like to write about Pinkerton detectives.
From there the story unfolded. If you’ve read any of my historical romances, you know that I love incorporating actual history into my stories. As you’ll see when you read The Black Midnight, this book is no exception. While I will continue writing the historical romances I love to bring to you, I will confess that writing this book has me itching to research another one like it.

What’s next in my foray into true crime novels? Maybe Houston. You see, I have a daughter who lives there…

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Black Midnight as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 27

Genesis 5020, August 27

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 27

Inklings and notions, August 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 28

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 28

Older & Smarter?, August 29

Texas Book-aholic, August 29

Artistic Nobody, August 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For the Love of Literature, August 30

Connie's History Classroom, August 30

For Him and My Family, August 31

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 31

Betti Mace, September 1

Robin's Nest, September 1

Bigreadersite, September 1

deb's Book Review, September 2

Splashes of Joy, September 2

Just Your Average reviews, September 2

Rebecca Tews, September 3

Just the Write Escape, September 3

Emily Yager, September 3

Christian Bookaholic, September 4

reviewingbooksplusmore, September 4

KarenSueHadley, September 4

Remembrancy, September 5

Through the Fire Blogs, September 5

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 6

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 6

Blogging With Carol, September 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 7

Life of Literature, September 7

Mary Hake, September 7

Godly Book Reviews, September 8

Back Porch Reads, September 8

Daysong Reflections, September 8

Pause for Tales, September 9

Blossoms and Blessings, September 9

Hallie Reads, September 9


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Book Review: The Year the Stars Fell

For almost as long as I can remember, I have been a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her book series Little House on the Prairie.  I first became acquainted with Laura (yes, we are on a first-name basis) when the TV show aired in the 70s.  Somehow I didn’t know that there were books about my favorite TV show until I attended my school’s book fair with my second grade class.  As soon as I saw the yellow paperback book showing the back of a covered wagon with two little girls peering out the back, the decision on which book to buy was over.  The book about the black and white dog went back on the shelf and was never missed! I devoured the book, followed by Farmer Boy which my mom bought me while on a trip to town for school clothes a few months later, and followed yet again with the rest of the series that I received for Christmas.  So for the last 40+ years, I have loved historical fiction, particularly those set in the 1800s.  I love the courage and fortitude of the pioneers who faced danger on a daily basis.  I admire their hard work ethic and ingenuity in making do with what they have.

I chose to request a copy of The Year the Stars Fell and was given a copy to read.  All opinions are my own.

I originally thought I would review maybe a book a month or so for Celebrate Lit, but was quickly introduced to many intriguing books that sounded too good to pass up.  I love the title The Years the Stars Fell.  It made me want to read the book to find out where that fit into the story. Finding out the book is a historical novel set in the 1800s in Michigan Territory sealed the deal.

The Year the Stars Fell is a very good story, but not a great one (because, let’s face it, not everyone can be Laura Ingalls Wilder).  I love that it is based on real people, the first settlers of now-extinct North Newburg, MI.  It is evident that the author did extensive research to include bits and pieces of true history mixed in with engaging details from her imagination.  I love that she included the fact that the three younger sisters loved to sing all the time.  Given the time period, it makes sense that they would have sung the old hymns, many of which I am familiar with because we sing them regularly in my church.  I do wish that the words had been set apart in verse form rather than within the narrative.  Another neat surprise was the inclusion of an illustrated map at the front of the book.  After finishing the book and looking back at the map, I wish the map had included pointing out where Betsey and Aaron’s property was located.  Still, it was a welcome, nice touch.  Also true to the time period, I liked how the Bible verses were from the King James Bible (which is what I use exclusively).  {Note to the author:  the credits in the front mention both the NIV and the KJV in the same credit.  I don’t know if that’s a mistake or not.}  The Baker family is noted to have had a young child named Alexander Stevens, though no one knows the how and why he came to live with the family.  I do like how the author included him in the story. 

There were a few things that I would’ve liked to have seen improved upon.  There are some details that are repetitious.  Betsey is kind of a whiner and a worrier, and I wish that could have been shown in a different way rather than reading through a ton of her thoughts.  She was very well portrayed as a good, dutiful wife and daughter, a hard worker who sought to honor both her husband and her parents.  I saw quite a few grammatical errors which I hope will be corrected for future editions, but it didn’t take away from the story as a whole.  (I’m a teacher, so I notice these things.)  We were told the age of the eldest of the three younger sisters, but I didn’t know the ages of the two youngest.  I like to know details like that.  I also would have liked to have known what happened to Ma’s missing barrel.  Maybe it’ll show up in the next book?  I’ll look forward to finding out! 

About the Book

Book:  The Year the Stars Fell
Author: Elizabeth Wehman
Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: April 14, 2020

In the spring of 1833, newlywed Betsey Baker-Swain’s simple life changes when she and her husband, Aaron, make a hasty decision to join Betsey’s family on a move from Pennsylvania to Michigan Territory.

Along the way, rainstorms, freezing temperatures, seasickness, and lack of privacy pale in comparison to what the family will encounter once arriving at their destination. Soon, daily trials will include ear-piercing howls of wild wolves, bad weather, clouds of mosquitoes, and disturbing situations with the natives. Even then, Betsey wonders if this trip will finally quench her father’s adventurous spirit.

Over the next year, the Baker family will gain incredible strength, divine trust, and unexplainable courage, but will it be enough to keep them at the tiny cabin by the twisting Shiawassee River? Will uncertainty overtake their determination or will God’s intervention sustain them enough to become a part of the history of a new land?

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Elizabeth Wehman’s writing career spans over thirty years and encompasses curriculum, periodical, journalism, and novel writing.
Her dream has always been to write novels and Elizabeth launched her first contemporary fiction, Under the Windowsill, in 2014. Since then, she’s added four titles to her shelf. They include: Promise at Daybreak, Just a Train Ride, Mere Reflection, and her latest complete historical work, The Year the Stars Fell.
She found the historical genre to be filled with rabbit trail research as well as walks through bygone cemeteries. The pioneers, of the early nineteenth century, reflected an amazing stamina and a determined courage to venture into the unknown. The Year the Stars Fell is based on a forgotten village established in the Territory of Michigan in 1833. She fell in love with the Baker family and the information she discovered about them gave way to folklore and tales of the early homesteaders. Two future novels are planned that will include the continuation of the nineteenth century farming community. The series will be called, ‘The Newburg Chronicles’.
In her spare time, Elizabeth loves to read and enjoys being out in nature. Her favorite places are digging in her flower garden, listening to the birds as they herald a new day, or taking a walk on the country roads surrounding her home in Michigan.
Elizabeth has been a trucker’s wife for over thirty years which helps supply the needed solitude to produce extraordinary stories. She has three grown children, four grandpuppies, and two sons-in-law.

More from Elizabeth

My “Stars” book began to emerge after doing research about the county where I live, here in Michigan. On an information discovery about another book, I came across the story of the Baker family. They were highlighted as the one of the first farming families to enter Michigan Territory in 1833. Hosea Baker brought his entire family from Pennsylvania to settle on 600 acres in an area beside the Shiawassee River.

Joining him there were his wife, Sally, his grown son Ambrose, his daughter and her husband, Betsey and Aaron Swain, and some younger daughters. While there, they hooked up with a boy named Alexander Stevens. Their first year included: building a home and barn, clearing and planting the first crops in the county, setting up a household, and Betsey giving birth to the first recorded child in the county. Betsey and Aaron named their new baby, Julia.

So much intrigued me about their story. I was excited to flesh it out with the help of short excerpts written in a Shiawassee County history book from 1888. From these short tidbits about the family, I soon embellished a story which is a mere glimpse into what their story could have included during their first year as settlers in a vast wilderness.

Much of the story is from my own imagination, but many of the highlights include the excerpts written about the family in 1888. After writing their story, I now feel a specific kinship to them.  This is my first complete historical fiction work. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Blog Stops


To celebrate her tour, Elizabeth is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Year the Stars Fell and a $25 gift card to Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, which can be used online!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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Friday, August 14, 2020

Easy Email Organization Idea for Book Reviewers

About a week or two ago, I came up with a way to organize the emails I get from Celebrate Lit for the books that I will be reviewing.  I thought I would share it with you in case it would be a help.

I use Thunderbird as my email program on my computer.  The following is my setup for Celebrate Lit:


Here is my "workflow" for handling the email:  As I go through my emails and find books that I'm interested in reviewing, I fill out the application form.  At the same time, I make a new subfolder under Applied and name it the title of the book.  All emails referring to that book goes into that folder.  When I receive my Welcome email with the date that my review is due, I rename the folder according to that due date (monthday to keep it in chronological order.....aaaaand I just realized I'll have to be extra careful when I have January/February due dates!), and I move the whole subfolder to the Pending folder.  I separated August's book reviews into a separate subfolder called This Month so that I can quickly see what's coming up next (which will actually take care of January/February -- whew!).  As I finish each book review, the whole subfolder goes to the xCompleted folder.  The x in front is my shortcut for "archived" which basically means, "You'll probably never need this again, but just in case, this is where it is."  The xMiscellaneous folder is for housekeeping-type emails from Celebrate Lit.

Bonus:  You now know what's coming up on the blog!  PS The Secret Sisters Club will feature a very special guest book reviewer!  Aunt Kris will surely enjoy that one! ;-)

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Book Review: Dual Power of Convenience

Does anybody know what today is??  It's National Book Lover's Day!!  I actually just found that out when I turned over a new leaf in our Unusual Holidays calendar this morning.  [Truth be told because the calendar got buried under paper this week, I turned over several new leaves.  Sometimes life's just that way!]

I've been most excited about today's book because the book was written by a friend of mine!  I first became acquainted with Chautona about 7 years ago when I read a book of hers called Discovering Hope.  Back then I collected free Kindle books like boys collect rocks, frogs, and dirt. {#BookHoarder}  I've read many, many books by her since then and have even pre-read a few (including this one).  Four years ago, I got to meet her when I went to California for my niece's wedding!  She is just as much fun in person as she is in her books!

Disclaimer:  I requested and was given a copy of this book to review, but since I always buy her books, I have a copy that I paid for as well.  All opinions are my own.

Dual Power of Convenience is the first book of a unique series called the Independence Islands Series.  Several things make this series special:  The setting is fictitious and is comprised of several (I forget how many) islands located off the coast of Georgia.  (I love books set in the South!) Each book features characters from a different island, but they interact with each other at different times.  This book is set on Merriweather Island; there's also an island that is nicknamed Hopper (you'll have to read to find out why!).  Most of the books' main characters will be owners of mobile businesses -- think food truck, bookmobile (OK I think it's called something else, but it makes me think of the old bookmobile-on-a-bus that used to come to my little town of Brooklyn (Mississippi! - not New York - but we do have a Brooklyn bridge!) with library books for people to check out.  Dual Power's main characters are not mobile business owners, but we are introduced to one who becomes a friend to Lyla and who will show up in Chautona's other books in the series.  The other thing that makes this series unique is that the books will be written by different authors!  This is a great way to become acquainted with authors I may not have read before.

Dual Power of Convenience was a wonderful book to read (twice!  And if I hadn't been busy getting Gracie's Fifth Grade Year started, I would've read it again!)  Lyla Santana is both strong and vulnerable, very smart, but lacking a little bit of wisdom in some areas.  Nobody's perfect, and it makes for a far more interesting book!  Richard Danforth, also quite intelligent, is a very strong, driven man with a surprising weakness that makes for a funny scene in the book.  I honestly cannot think of a single negative thing about this book.  The characters are both people you've met before and yet totally new.  I wish that the Islands were not fictitious because I want to go there!  The story combines two tropes plus Chautona's special twist of awesomeness.  Read on for the summary, to learn about Chautona, and to enter a giveaway!

About the Book

Book:  Dual Power of Convenience
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre:  Christian Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 28, 2020

When Richard Danforth inherits the family estate on Merriweather Island, he doesn’t have time to deal with it—especially not from halfway across the globe. He’s too busy working to become the world’s newest billionaire and avoiding the women who would detract him from his goals.

Enter Lyla Santana. Fresh out of Oxford University with a degree in antiques and a relationship that nearly killed her to leave, she’s eager for the isolation and treasure trove that is Danforth Hall. Lyla also is determined to avoid men at all costs. Forever.

It was supposed to be a match made on paper. With him halfway across the globe, they’d never have to see each other again.

So, what’s Richard doing on Merriweather just weeks after the wedding? And how will his arrival test Lyla’s faith, not to mention stretch their so-called relationship?

In a twist on billionaire romance and marriage of convenience, this “Merriweather book” kicks off a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

Did I Really Agree to Write a Romance Series?

When my fledgling little idea for a single book transformed into a series that then transformed into a SERIES, I kind of missed the part where I agreed (and likely suggested, if truth be told), that the books should be contemporary romance.
I mean, beach reads.  Romance.  Duh.
There’s just one problem?  I rarely write a straight-up romance.  And if I do, it’s usually a short novella in a collection—often at Christmas.
Isn’t it obvious?
Despite nine kids and being married for almost thirty-two years, I am THE most unromantic woman on the planet. No habla amor.  Or something like that.
So there I was, toodling down the 395 (a treacherous bit of road between my house and the publisher’s) when all of what I’d agreed to exploded in my brain.  I’m still scraping brain matter off the windshield and trying to stuff it back in. I need every last one of those “little gray cells,” thank-you-very-much!
Romance.  My heart sank.  Boy meets girl.  They like each other.  They fight.  They get back together.  They live happily ever after.
It’s a thing, folks.  A formula.  And if you deviate, true romance readers get annoyed.  What was I going to do?  I didn’t want to write romance.  Not really. I had ideas.  The prequel book had been all about trying to bring a young woman back to the Lord.  That’s more my speed, okay?

The wheels began churning.

The ones in my head, I mean.  The tires still rolled along the ground. Fortunately, my cranial explosion hadn’t caused an accident or anything.  Just in case you were curious.
I considered making each one loosely related to a fairy tale retelling.  I’d have a Cinderella story, a Beauty and the Beast, a… nope. That made it that far and I just couldn’t.  The minute we got to Sleeping Beauty, I’d have my readers in comas.  No. Thanks.
Next came Rom-com.  We’d make it funny.  All the stuff that happens in beach romances gone wrong.  Why not?  We live once!
I was yawning before the thought finished forming.
Right about then, I think, is when I wondered what kind of tropes I needed to consider.
See, romance tropes are a thing.  I even talk about them on my podcast.  The tingling sensation that comes when a good idea is brewing happened.  A grin formed.
Tropes. I’d play with tropes.  I’d take all those familiar things and twist them somehow.  Why not?  It would be fun.

And it was.

Right about then is probably when I began recording my ideas.  Creosote and sage whizzed past at breakneck speeds (let me dream.  I’m not a speed demon, but c’mon… for the sake of poetic license and all?). And the ideas whizzed faster (no license needed.  They really did).
Book 1.  Marriage of convenience.  I mean, those are always fun, right?  So why on earth would someone need to get married?
Every idea I came up with has been done… and done again.
That’s when I upped the stakes. Authors do that, you know. We come up with a way to torment our characters, and then we say, “Okay, now how can I make this worse?  Nope, I need it even worse.  Oh, and…” Bam!  The story goes from interesting to can’t-put-it-down.  All because we’re not afraid to be cruel to non-existent people. Score!
How’d I do it with this one? I added in another trope. One I personally just can’t “get.”  People love the things, and I’ve got no idea why.  But it answered my first question of why someone might need a marriage of convenience or… as my gal puts it… “a paper marriage.”
My guy became the world’s newest billionaire.
Yep, you read that right. I wrote a “billionaire romance.”  Sort of.  Now, if I could figure out how on earth I’d take two people on opposite sides of the world and get them together.
*insert hands rubbing together in fiendish delight*
Oh, yeah.  I did it.  And even more than that, I love it.  I made my characters do some stupid things. I really did (you know, like how two Christians didn’t even pray about their marriage decision?  Like how they didn’t even ask if the other person was saved?  Why should they?  They’ll never see each other again… they said.  Ha!  The Lord had other ideas.  Sorta.  This is fiction, right?  Oops! I suddenly feel like that crazy Kathy Morningside in Miss Congeniality).

From Adelanto to Kramer Jct., I planned out that first book—Dual Power of Convenience.

(the title gives away that reason for marrying, no?  Also, links may be affiliate links that provide a small commission at no extra expense to you.)
It was almost too easy.
Then I started playing with the next ones, and the series became a reality to me.
Dual Power of Conveniencewhen a woman too afraid of men goes to work for a man who is too busy making money to want anything to do with that whole marriage and family thing.
Bookers on the Rocks— This couple’s marriage is on the rocks (that’s the trope, of course), and neither of them has a clue. They’ve been married for twenty-five years, neither is having an affair, no one wants a divorce, life is good, so why is it on the rocks?  You’ll see…
Directing Hearts— The Crawforths got tricked into allowing a reality matchmaking show film on their islands. Brooks Crawforth tangles with the director until their verbal battles turn into a different kind—a battle for their hearts (enemies to “lovers”)
Just a Memory— In this one, Mallory Barrows (who makes appearances in all of the books) comes across an old journal that tells a story she’d never heard. It’s the old Patti Paige song “Go On with the Wedding” but over forty years later!  Mallory knows something that might just create a (here comes the trope) second chance at romance.
-Printed on Her Heart— After being instrumental in so many couples’ relationships, it’s Mallory’s turn in this dual-trope story.  In this one, we get a mashup of friends to more and love at first sight.  Can’t wait to share it.  Squee!

Okay, that’s the deal.  Yes, I really did agree to write a romance series.

And yes, it probably was my idea.
I might deny it to my dying day, but it is also a whole lot of fun… so far.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Inklings and notions, August 6

lakesidelivingsite, August 6

deb’s Book Review, August 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 7

Rebekah Jones, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 7

Artistic Nobody, August 8 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 9

21st Century Keeper at Home, August 9

She Lives To Read, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 11

Adventures of a Traverlers wife, August 11

Emily Yager, August 12

Stories By Gina, August 12

CarpeDiem, August 12

cultivating us, August 13

Connect in Fiction, August 13

Livin’ Lit, August 13

Read Review Rejoice, August 14

Quiet Workings, August 14

Blossoms and Blessings, August 14

Just Your Average reviews, August 15

Rebekah Reads, August 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 15

Lis Loves Reading, August 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 16

Splashes of Joy, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Captive Dreams Window, August 17

Spoken from the Heart, August 17

Lots of Helpers, August 18

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 18


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book (winner’s choice of eBook or paperback format)!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
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