Winners: Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers 2017 Giveaways

My hearty thanks to everyone who entered 2017’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers giveaways!

I’m happy to announce that Shamekka won a copy of Home by Ginny L. Yttrup, Cassandra won a copy of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman, sbmcmh won a copy of The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins, Kathy won a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, Linda won a copy of Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll, and Pat won a copy of Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Hunt. Congrats!



Be sure to check out all of this year’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers for great books to add to your reading list.


World of the Innocent

When It’s Time Series



Predictability in Fiction

I often say that readers are entitled to their preferences and what they choose to read or not to read. So, even though I write some romance, I don’t think all readers should prefer that genre just because it’s something I write.

Even so, I was prompted to write this blog post because I often hear fellow readers say things like, “I don’t read romance because it’s predictable. You already know the guy and girl are going to end up together.”

True, you already know that fact beforehand, but predictable outcomes aren’t exactly exclusive to the romance genre. Besides, I think there’s a difference between a predictable outcome and a predictable story. I appreciate it when an author can weave originality and unpredictability together on the way to what may be a predictable outcome.

For instance, if you read an adventure or literary novel called Wreck of the Seafaring Vessel, you already know beforehand that the ship is going to wreck. But when the author can make you CARE about the fact that the ship will wreck, can make you wish that it wouldn’t wreck even though you already know it’s going to (or can ironically make you GLAD that the ship will wreck, even though you never thought you’d feel that way), can help you to deeply empathize with the complex characters on the ship through their backstories and emotions and motives–then you get something fresh, thought-provoking, and memorable out of the novel. The outcome, or an aspect of the outcome, is predictable, but overall, it isn’t a predictable story.

I look for the same thing in romance. I know the outcome, or an aspect of the outcome, but I want something fresh and thought-provoking along the way.

As far as predictability goes, much the same can be said for many suspense, thriller, and mystery novels, where readers especially like to be surprised. Before you even start the book, you pretty much know the major aspect of the outcome: the good guy is going to catch or put a stop to the bad guy, solve the murder case, prevent the enemy operation from blowing up the ocean, or what have you. In, say, 999 books out of 1,000, no matter how many thrilling car chases there are, how many kidnappers set out to blindfold and tie people up, or how many airplanes spontaneously combust in the sky, you already know that none of those dangers are going to kill the protagonist right smack in the middle of the novel. But when I read a thriller or a suspense or mystery novel, it doesn’t matter if I already know the protagonist will indeed make it out of the burning plane alive and the antagonist will inevitably get caught. I just want something fresh and thought-provoking on the way to seeing the inevitable take place. A predictable outcome, but not a predictable story.

Again, if romance simply isn’t your thing, then it simply isn’t your thing. Nothing wrong with that. But if you’ve considered predictability alone to be the issue, then perhaps it’s had more to do with the overall style or storytelling in the romances you’ve read, and less to do with the inevitable outcomes. Perhaps it’s had more to do with particular books or authors, and whether or not those were the right books and authors for you, and less to do with the romance genre as a whole.

I believe it’s just as possible to write a fresh and unpredictable romance as it is to write a fresh and unpredictable suspense or mystery novel, since it’s not merely about what happens in the end (the guy and girl get together, the detective wins and the murderer loses, etc.) It’s about the journey or process toward that outcome.

Does that make sense? 🙂


Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Kate has earned the position of lead counsel in a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company. More than the chance to further her career as a lawyer, she wants justice for the people whose lives have been severely damaged by a dangerous drug on the market. But when a whistleblower from the company is murdered, Kate soon learns that she may also become a target in Deadly Proof, a novel by author Rachel Dylan.

I’m quite a fan of legal fiction, and it was the pharmaceutical aspect of the plot that most drove me to pick up this romantic suspense novel. While I think the characters tend to repeat or explain the obvious sometimes, the legal points of the story are laid out well. I most enjoyed watching Kate in her professional element.

Overall, however, the characters didn’t really “pop” for me. I found the romance and the spiritual side of the story to be rather trite, relying too much on clichéd phrases and situations without digging deeper. The naiveté of a couple of the characters didn’t feel realistic, especially for people near or past middle age. I saw most of the dangers and twists coming before they happened. Also, on a minor note, I felt like too many sentences, both in the narration and the dialogue, began with the word “And.” I’m actually fond of beginning sentences that way myself, but it can be easy to go a little overboard with it.

Still, I think other fans of ChristFic legal thrillers and romantic suspense may want to check this book out.


Beauty Within by Rachel Skatvold

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Beauty Within by Rachel Skatvold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

After the death of her husband, Katherine returns to her hometown to start over. She wants to raise her two children in peace, but her mother butting in to play matchmaker and the presence of her troubled teenaged sister aren’t exactly helping. As rumors about her family spread through town, Katherine wonders if she should have returned home at all in Beauty Within, a romantic suspense tale by author Rachel Skatvold.

This novella was a good read in between reads for me: a story of new beginnings–and of tragedy as well, but it still served as a needed picker-upper. I didn’t plan on reading it when I did, but once I got started, the key characters’ predicaments got me curious, and I simply had to keep going.

I thought the story to be rushed in spots; the characters seem to hurry through certain conversations and emotions. Also, the development of evangelistic content in the story felt clichéd to me. As a longtime reader of Christian Fiction, I’ve seen it in a number of books, where dialogue or scenes seem to follow a prescribed pattern, fitting in the “right” or common Christian lingo. But those scenes wind up reading more like a Gospel tract or a new believer’s handbook than a novel or novella, and it pulls me out of the story.

Nevertheless, this quick read should appeal to other fans of sweet and uplifting romances with suspense.


Beauty Within is Book One in the Riley Family Legacy series.

Beauty Unveiled (Riley Family Legacy Novellas #2) Beauty Restored (Riley Family Legacy Novellas #3)