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Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

61kabzeSXfL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_I’m an avid Denise Hunter fan with my very favorite book of hers being The Convenient Groom, but in all honesty, almost every book I’ve read by this author has been such a fun, romantic read. What I’ve come to expect in a Denise Hunter novel is solid characters, a sprinkle of humor, a dash of adventure, a peppering of faith, and a good slathering of romance.

So when Denise’s newest book, Sweetbriar Cottage, also added my Blue Ridge Mountains to the list…well, seriously, how could I NOT want to read this book? With Denise’s usual expertise of charming and bittersweet, she also has a knack for showing us God’s unfailing love in the way the hero ends up loving the heroine. (This is one of my favorite tropes, btw)

We get a beautiful picture of this ‘love story’ through the relationship of Josephine and Noah, a couple who used to be married, thought they filed for divorce, and then discover they’re NOT divorced after all.

SweetbriarcottageIn the dazzling way known as Denise-Hunter-writing, we delve into a novel of what love really looks like when hurts are deep and forgiveness is hard. It’s her signature. A hero who shows God’s love in a tangible way to a broken, insecure, and wounded heroine. It’s one of the reasons I love her books so much. Some of the other reasons are…super romance, wonderful kisses, sweet storytelling, and excellent descriptions.

If you’re a fan of stories with a deeper thread of redemption, two people trapped in a cabin during a snowstorm, and a God who mends broken things with his unfathomable love, you’ll probably enjoy Sweetbriar Cottage.

A delightfully sweet read with a poignant core about the healing power of love.

Purchase your copy today: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book

About the Author

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of 30 contemporary romances. In 2016 two of Denise’s novels, The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, aired as Hallmark Original movies. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, playing drums, and reading as much as humanly possible. After raising 3 boys in Indiana, she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest.
Connect with Denise: WebsiteFacebook, Twitter

Imperfect….and Loved

Journal Entry – 2014

It’s one of those ‘pull your hair out’ kinds of moments. Your nine-year-old, who struggles with math facts, sits beside of you at the table and goes into a complete meltdown over 3 digit numbers. There’s no calling him back from the depths of despair, he’s jumped in with both feet and waded up to his neckline. He’s drowning in fractions and word problems with no hope for a sure foundation.

He’s drowning in fractions and word problems with no hope for a sure foundation..png

No matter what you say, offer to pay, plead or borrow, he’s not coming back from his mental block for a few minutes…maybe a few centuries.

He spends twenty-minutes trying to blame every other person in his life, and the dog, for the fact that he cannot do this homework.

He seeks every distraction known to man and animals to dismiss his inability, but finally has to accept something.

For the first time in his life, he’s realized the terrible, horrible, no-good truth:

He’s not perfect.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. Rich, chocolaty and ooey gooey. Ready within 30 minutes! | giverecipe.com | #cake #chocolate
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Oops, maybe I should have whispered that last sentence. It’s easier to bear when said in a whisper. Then maybe no one else will hear.

Tough truths are sometimes easier to bear in a whisper, with chocolate, and usually with a hug following fairly quickly.

So get your chocolate handy!!

We’re not perfect.

Yeah, yeah, I know you would admit to it, but do you believe it? I mean really. When it gets down to the everydayness of it?

Sometimes I don’t.

I either kick myself so hard when I fall that I can’t stand for a week, OR (and more likely) I pretend I wasn’t wrong..png

either kick myself so hard when I fall that I can’t stand for a week, OR (and more likely) I pretend I wasn’t wrong. I never admit to it. I ignore the little gnawing at the base of my heart and push it off as not taking my B-12s, when the truth is…I was wrong.

Pulling shark teeth would be easier than trying to get my 19-year old to admit when he’s wrong. Whew. Pride the size of Jonah’s whale, but…his mom has the same problem. In fact, most of us do.

We blame our day, or our health, our finances, or in-laws…our children or spouses, our education or background…whatever it takes to keep the little finger from pointing backwards and finding our chests. Not me.

It’s hard…I don’t like it – but who does?

Pride.pngWhen we hold onto pride, one of the ugliest things happens. We place ourselves above our humanity and make little idols of our own hearts. Then, we compare our goodness to others’ badness and forget the basic element of grace…

Jesus didn’t come for perfect people. In fact, if we looked at the list of people Jesus hung around with most, we wouldn’t find a perfect person among the entire bunch. Most would have scoffed at the notion of being called ‘perfect’.

A woman caught in adultery, a hotheaded disciple, a traitor-tax collector, a thief…a bunch of cowards and…sinners.

That’s the point!

One thing they all had in common was they were sinners, and they knew it. In fact, when Jesus sat down and ATE with some of those imperfect people, the religious leaders started whispering about him (and not in a nice way either).

The story goes like this in Matthew 9:10-12

Jesus came to save those who know they are broken and can’t be fixed..png

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus came to save those who know they are broken and can’t be fixed.

Cupcake #cupcake #bake #recipes
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Who know they screw up and can’t make things right.

Who know no band aid, no amount of sacrifice or good works can change their histories and mistakes.

He came for the ones who KNOW we are sinners and are searching for Someone to be the bridge between their imperfection and God’s perfectness.

Jesus became that bridge by offering His own perfection, His life for the ungodly. He didn’t come ‘to call the righteous, but sinners.”

If you know you are imperfect…

If you look back on your past, see your shades of gray, and feel ashamed…

If you’re struggling with the depths of hurt, confusion, anger, or sadness…

There is Hope...Jesus!.png

There is hope…

Jesus

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” – Hebrews 10:22

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9

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Swoony Saturday – Tate Whitcomb

Welcome! Welcome! Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Tate

Earlier this week I posted a review for A Note Yet Unsung (you can find my review HERE). Next we travelled to Nashville with Book Journeys to visit Belmont Mansion (travel with us HERE). And today, we are swooning over the hero…Tate.

Who? Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb

Where can we find this dreamboat? A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House Publishers 2017)NoteYetUnsung_cover-4color-SIM.inddPersonality summary: Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his father, who is dying. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream? (From the back of the book)

What makes us swoon?

Es el dinero el que lleva la batuta                                                                                                                                                                                 More
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MUSIC! He is a musician, need I say more?

Not only is he a musician, he is a nationally acclaimed conductor!

He is a serious, brooding sort.

Beth Erin says: “Rebekah and Tate made music together (literally) which was quite HOT like ‘you complete me’ good!”

He’s a moody fella, but, oh so tender with his family.

Fiercely loyal.

Rebecca Maney says: “(He is) complex, but he has his reasons.”

A Note Yet UnsungGifted Musician…Wait did I say that already?

Toni Shiloh says: “Protective and debonair.”

He is a Godly man!

The mountain music will make you swoon indeed!

Though his relationship with Rebekah begins with discord, they learn to work together to complete Tate’s symphony.

Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. The auditorium of the Odessa Opera House is decorated in the style of the late French Rococo decorated with stucco ornaments with the finest gold. Figure ornament never repeated. Throughout the abundance of marble, velvet, gleaming crystal, glittering mirrors and gilding.
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Kissing level of such swooniness:  They didn’t kiss much but the sparks were definitely flying. After conferring with fellow Tate fans, we decided on a solid 3 “May forget to breathe.”

Basic hero type: Tate is definitely a Darcy-ish character. His serious, brooding nature coupled with his fierce loyalty makes him a top notch swoony hero!

How can I meet this swoony mister? You can find a copy of A Note Yet Unsung from the following retailers:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors

About the Author

www.tameraalexander.com

Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist and one of today’s most beloved authors of Christian historical romance. Her works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, among them the Christy Award, the RITA Award, the Carol Award, Library Journal’s top honors, and have earned the distinction of Publisher’s Weekly Starred Reviews. Her deeply drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide.

Tamera and her husband reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Nashville’s Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation , the setting of Tamera’s #1 CBA bestselling Southern series. Her upcoming series, the Carnton Novels , launches in fall 2017 with Christmas at Carnton  (October 3, 2017), a Christmas story, which is set at Franklin, Tennessee’s historic Carnton Plantation.

 

Kissing Levels & Hero Types

 

Book Journeys – Belmont Mansion

Nashville's 10 Hidden Gems - Nashville Lifestyles
Belmont Mansion – Pinterest

Known for its musical history, Nashville is a city with, not only a song or two, but a rich story. Home of our nation’s 7th president, Andrew Johnson, as well as the reputed ‘birthplace of country music’, Nashville offers a wide range of opportunities for a journey.

 

But since we’re celebrating Tamera Alexander’s newest release, A Song Yet Unsung, our feature place for our book journey is Belmont Mansion and…I’m also tempted to take you guys on a little jaunt to the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

The Peri, statue at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN
Belmont – Pinterest

The Civil War was particularly hard on the South, and Nashville was no exception. With the battle raging both within and without the city walls, the world Rebekah Carrington steps back into is nothing like the city she left 10 years before. In A Note Yet Unsung, our heroine, Rebekah, garners employment with (and finds an ally in) the formidable Adelicia Acklen – a woman of fantastic wealth and influence. In the novel, she holds sway for both Rebekah and Tate (the hero), and Tamera does a fantastic job of incorporating this real-life heroine as a secondary character into her story.

 

Adelicia Acklen  | History of American Women
Adelicia Acklen – Pinterest

In all honesty, Adelicia could have been the heroine of her own story. Her early life with riddled with grief. Her fiancé died just before their marriage, her second husband died after seven years of marriage, and all four of their children died before they reached the age of eleven. She would marry again and lose two of her six children before her second husband died after 14 years of marriage. Her second husband, Joseph Acklen, was an excellent businessman and increased Adelicia’s original wealth substantially. Together they built Belmont Mansion – an antebellum, Italian-style home seated on the highest hill of a 177 acre ‘plantation’.

 

Belmont Plantation located in Nashville, Tennessee    http://belmontmansion.com/about-us/history/
Belmont Mansion – Pinterest

Construction began in 1853 and the house and grounds included an art gallery, aviary, bear house, and even a zoo. The Acklens opened the grounds to the locals so they could experience the opportunity of seeing the variety Belmont had to offer, and in so doing, had Nashville’s first public park. The 36 room mansion houses artwork from all over the world and oozes elegance and style. The Acklens also gave an annual ball at their home. Despite Belmont being a Union headquarters during the Civil War and caught in the middle of the Battle of Franklin, the sprawling and impression mansion survived – beautifully intact.

 

Belmont Mansion stairs - is it possible to fall in love with a staircase?..  (Meridian Manor)
Inside Belmont – Pinterest

I can’t imagine what Adelicia’s losses forged within her but from all accounts she was a force to be reckoned with, although she was an exceedingly generous person. Beautiful, smart, and highly influential, she’s been compared to Scarlet O’Hara in being able to work the crowd to get what she wanted. Read more here.

 

NoteYetUnsung_cover-4color-SIM.inddTo read more about Adelicia Acklen in fictional form, don’t miss Tamera Alexander’s book, A Note Yet Unsung. You can read my review here. And stop by Saturday for our Swoony Saturday post featuring Tate, the hero in this novel.

And…if you read the book, you’ll get a taste of my Appalachian culture. Just for kicks, here are a few pics from eastern Tennessee where my family lived for 8 years.

I regret, at times, that we did not move to the Smokey Mt. area of Tennessee, we gave it serious thought!  Maybe it is not out of the running for a later time!  LOVE this place!
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East Tennessee Mountains
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Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee
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Mount Le Conte  Smoky Mountain National Park Eastern Tennessee
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A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

A Note Yet UnsungA Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander is a duet between two hearts who are trying to make their dreams come true. Rebekah Carrington watches the world of music from behind the curtain of social norms. A talented musician who has studied for years in Vienna, Rebekah isn’t allowed to perform on stage due to society’s rule against women performing. Refusing to allow the curtain to drop on her dream, Rebekah seeks an audience with the new maestro of Nashville’s symphony orchestra, Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb. Despite his compassion in her plight, the young maestro cannot break convention and offer this woman a seat in his all-male orchestra. Though their relationship begins with discord, as they work together to complete Tate’s symphony, despite his recurring headaches and dizziness, a friendship blossoms into something much deeper.

But neither Rebekah or Tate are completely what they seem. Secrets from their pasts keep a hold on their futures and they must work in harmony to have a chance for both of their dreams to come true.

A Note Yet Unsung 2

Tamera Alexander’s beautiful writing and heart-touching ability to draw upon the characters’ distinct differences to complement each other is masterfully done. What should we expect from a master storyteller, though? As a mountain girl, I was particularly delighted in the way Tamera described Appalachian people in a positive light, without sugar coating reality. The tenderness and fierce love of family shines through in these scenes, which were my FAVORITE scenes…and I’m totally biased 😊

Sweet romance, intelligent dialogue, and a gentle note of inspiration, bring this story together to leave a sweet melody lingering in your heart.

As a FUN extra, you can find the playlist for this book on Tamera’s website. Click the photo below to check it out!

You can find A Note Yet Unsung at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors

About the Author

www.tameraalexander.com

Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist and one of today’s most beloved authors of Christian historical romance. Her works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, among them the Christy Award, the RITA Award, the Carol Award, Library Journal’s top honors, and have earned the distinction of Publisher’s Weekly Starred Reviews. Her deeply drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide.

Tamera and her husband reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Nashville’s Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation , the setting of Tamera’s #1 CBA bestselling Southern series. Her upcoming series, the Carnton Novels , launches in fall 2017 with Christmas at Carnton  (October 3, 2017), a Christmas story, which is set at Franklin, Tennessee’s historic Carnton Plantation.

Revolution Era Fiction

Happy Independence Day…or as my British friends say, “Happy Treason Day!” 🙂

In celebration of this American holiday, I thought I’d share some fantastic fiction that takes place during (or around) The Revolutionary War era. Please, oh please, add more recommendations to this short list, but I thought I’d start us off with a few 🙂

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

4th fronteirsmansdaughter

Of COURSE, I had to put one of my all-time-favorite authors, first. Laura Frantz writes lyrical and spellbinding historical fiction. A Moonbow Night doesn’t cover much about the war, but it’s certainly set during the era and makes the wildness of the ‘frontier’ of the mountains comes to life. Actually, her first three books all take place during the Revolutionary War era, I believe. The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady.

So Fair a Lady

4th So Fair a Lady

Besides having amazing covers, Amber Lynn Perry‘s Daughters of His Kingdom series also sets dramatic and romantic stories with the Revolutionary War as its backdrop. Spies, romance, mystery, and adventure combine to explode upon the scene like fireworks!

The Wood’s Edge

4th Wood's Edge Pathfinders series

Lori Benton writes novels set in the colonial period. Her Pathfinders series has rave reviews and looks wonderful. I’ve not had the opportunity yet to read these books, but I’m looking forward to them.

Rebellious Heart

4th Rebellious Heart

Always a favorite,Jody Hedlund has an exceptional way of weaving amazing stories from both history and fantasy. Her novel Rebellious Heart keeps to the Independence Day theme by taking place in pre-Revolutionary War Boston and blends romance, intrigue, and history in a remarkable story of faith and freedom.

 

 

Your turn! Do you have any books you’d add to this 4th of July reading list?

Let

Being Brave – 2017

18386718_10212953613255761_581113042_nSeveral years ago, my six and seven year olds were having a conversation that went like this:

“You won’t believe what I did?” The seven year old leaned close to his sister, his blue eyes as wide as a monster-truck wheel.

His six year old sister caught the flare of excitement from him. “What?”

“I touched my eyeball. Just like this.” And he proceeded to demonstrate his amazing skill with a little probing for good measure.

His little sister, mouth hung in appropriate awe, replied, “You are so brave.”

18386812_10212953607135608_2144705897_nWe may snicker at this example and think of a time when kids in our memory did something in the same way. A ‘small’ adventure carried the excitement and energy of something as grand as stepping on the moon – and then we’d shrug it off as inconsequential – but in the world of the small, small things are big.

18386879_10212953612095732_2092520158_nNow I’m not saying big deals shouldn’t be important or small things shouldn’t be put in proper perspective… but I AM saying ‘proper perspective’ matters a great deal.

One of the things that amazes me about Jesus is how he sees the needs of our hearts. He knows the ONE thing which will bring us the most joy and comfort (his love), but he also knows what we must overcome to find the perfect path to peace.

He knows the great or the small things that make our spirits tremble and He can provide the courage necessary to surmount the odds.

Do you remember the story of the Rich Young Man in Matthew 19? He came to Jesus and asked how he could receive eternal life. BIG deal, right? Eternal life! And according to the laws of the Pharisees, the man was pretty good at keeping the rules too. He had a ‘perfect’ record. A spotless checklist.

18387182_10212953610215685_1122779685_nBut even with a track record of gold, he still came to Jesus because something in him warned him he wasn’t good enough yet. He wasn’t secure. He wrestled uncertainty…aka- FEAR.

Christ hits him right at his heart. Speaks to that deepest fear with the accuracy only divinity can claim.

Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and follow Him.

The young man leaves sad, because he is very rich. He didn’t have the courage to release the temporal world for the eternal one. His ‘life’ was wrapped in HIS life – instead of a life wrapped in God.

One of the most beautiful and frightening things about Christianity is the truth that we must give everything up to gain everything. We must release our good things (dreams, hopes) as well as our bad things (sins, selfishness) to Christ and have the courage to trust His plans.

Being Brave.pngIs it easy? Some days it can be easier.

And other days? Not so much.

But the great thing about Jesus is – if he asks us to be brave, he doesn’t just leave us to find our own courage. He provides the opportunity AND the ability.

We are not left without the resources to do the BIG and the small things He calls us to do.

“Courage is not the absense of fear. It is the judgement that something is more important than our fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

(Isn’t that how God sees it too? His love, his strength, the opportunity to serve him becomes more important than our fear?)

18424526_10212953613375764_504025442_nSometimes the biggest act of courage is a small one. ~Lauren Raffo

(service? love? finding a band-aid?)

People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fibre called courage. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

That miracle fiber? Jesus.

He displayed the ultimate courage on the cross, so we could pull from His reserves…

in the BIG or the small.

Swoony Saturdays – Adrien Delaporte

Welcome! Welcome! Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Earlier this week I posted a review for one of my favorite books, Kissing Adrien (you can find my review HERE). Next we travelled to Paris with Book Journeys (travel with us HERE). And today, we are swooning over the hero…Adrien.

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Who? Adrien Delaporte

Where can we find this dreamboat? Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell (Harvest House, 2005)

Personality summary: Confidante, funny, compassionate, and flirty, Adrien Delaporte is the quintessential French good guy. Since Kissing Adrien is first person from Claire le Noyer’s point of view, we don’t get firsthand ideas of what Adrien is feeling, but boy, oh boy, Siri describes this gorgeous specimen of European manhood’s emotions so well as seen through Claire’s eyes.

Adrien has been Claire’s childhood friend – now 10 years after their last meeting, they’re brought together again in the City of Love and Light to settle the estate of a mysterious aunt of Claire’s. The mystery of this aunt continues to keep Adrien and Claire in close proximity, and despite Claire fighting tooth-and-nail against how Adrien tries to get Claire to think outside the box, eventually the truth of her being loved and beautiful transforms this insecure workaholic into someone much more like she was created to be. Love does that, you know 😊

Kissing Adrien.pngWhat makes us swoon?

Seriously, this guy is pretty adorable. Funny, confident, flirty…AND he loves Jesus!!!!!!

He’s clever

He’s sexy

He’s French

Author Dawn Crandall had this to say: “his mysteriousness, his intensity, his charm, and his amazing enigmatic draw. His tantalizing conversation. The man oozes sexiness in the most casual way.”

He sees all the beauty in the heroine and wants her to see it too.

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He knows the heroine and takes special care to show her he’s interested in her.

The man is intense and a wee bit stubborn in the most delightful of ways.

His BLUE eyes

Smells like lime

This is Adrien’s “official” description from the book: “The interesting thing about Adrien was the synergy of all his parts. He was tall and lanky. Lithe and energetic. He had dark hair, bright blue eyes, and a perpetual tan. A largish nose and nice white teeth. But what pulled it all together was his personality – part clown, part diplomat – and the strange desire he created in those he talked with to make him laugh.”

He apparently has very nice ears as well, because our heroine Claire says this: “They were very nice. And clean. You can’t say that about everyone’s ears.”

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Kissing level of such swooniness: Okay, Adrien’s all around swooniness ups this rating even though there’s just one daggone kiss in the ENTIRE BOOK because when he does kiss…well, he’s as intense in his focus of that kiss as he is in the rest of the story. It’s a definite 4…if she’d written further kisses, I feel certain they would have been 5s…or higher.

Basic hero type: I’m saying he’s a Knightley with swagger (maybe with the intensity of Darcy sprinkled in for an additional swoon-factor)…what do you say? He’s the heroine’s friend, but he holds her to the fire on several issues to draw her out of her complacency and unhealthy thinking patterns. . When he realizes his own feelings, he’s intense in his pursuit, but still respects her uncertainty enough to gently ‘find’ her…at her heart.

How can I meet this swoony mister? Find on  Amazon

About the Author

Image may contain: 1 person, glasses and close-up
Photo by Tim Coburn

Siri graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

She is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder. Visit her website to learn more.

Kissing Levels & Hero Types

Book Journeys – Paris

This week I’m celebrating one of my favorite contemporary romance novels. An “oldie” but a goodie, this book was published in 2005, and oh la la, I was introduced to the story and the author in 2007.

Why is that important?

Well, as a budding romance writer, I’d had a hard time finding books that really fit the mix of depth and fun I was going for, and when I stumbled across Siri Mitchell’s novel, Kissing Adrien, it was a match made of fictional proportions.

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So, of course, I then purchased every book by her I could find. I’d also discovered Mary Connealy around the same time and felt pretty sure I’d struck gold! Two authors who combined faith, fun, and romance into well-written stories? Wowzah!

Now, let’s get to the Book Journey for today.

Kissing Adrien is a novel of self-discovery with romance sprinkled in. In the current flare of Katherine Reay, Siri Mitchell’s novel is about a young woman who’s allowed her creativity to dull beneath real-life expectations and has lost her dreams along the way. The story introduces a hero who is quite delightful in his own right. We’ll swoon over him lots more on the upcoming Swoony Saturday post, but for today…we’re talking setting.

Paris

Now, of course, there are a gazillion things to see in Paris, so we’re only going to chat about 5 and the #1 on the list is NOT the Eiffel Tower. GASP!

1. Notre Dame

Paris 1949 Notre-Dame de París, la gran campana
Paris 1949 Pinterest

Located on the River Sienne, the grand and gothic cathedral, Notre Dame rises into the cityscape with its memorable western façade, spires, and flying buttresses. Completion of the cathedral occurred in the 12th century and the building has been both a setting and character in many books, most notably the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. For trivia’s sake, the largest bell in Notre Dame, and the one you’ll hear tolled on the hour, is named Emmanuel and weighs 13 tons. Here is a video you can watch to HEAR the bell toll for yourself!

2. The Louvre

Next on our tour list is…nope, not the Eiffel Tower! I know, I know! What about the most iconic building in Paris? Well, let’s take a side trip first to one of the most culturally exquisite buildings in Paris. The Louvre.

Hailed as being one of the best art museums in the world, the Louvre opened its treasure-trove doors in the late 1700s and features art from all over the world. With paintings, sculptures, and mummies, this former royal residence houses a truly breathtaking display.

3. The Eiffel Tower

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Next is the most visible symbol in The City of Love. The Eiffel Tower.

Gustave Eiffel at the Eiffel Tower,1889 by Neurdein frères
Gustav Eiffel at the Eiffel Tower 1889 Pinterest

Ready for this? It was originally designed as a temporary structure for the 1889 World’s Fair. So, #1 it wasn’t supposed to be featured on the streets of Paris forever and #2 it’s not sooooo old. Another interesting historical tidbit, Gustav Eiffel (creator of the famed tower), designed it with a true scientist’s brain. He ran experiments off the tower related to transmissions – and because of the tower’s height, it became a strategic communication tower during WWI to not only transmit Allied info, but to intercept messages from the enemies.

 

 

 

4. The Marais

Arcades of the Place des Vosges in the Marais, Paris
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If you’re more into the city-life scene with a wonderfully historic-bent, another great place to visit is The Marais. Similar to Manhattan’s West Village, except with a French twist, The Marais is filled with trendy shopping, restaurants, hotels, and pastry shops, yet the setting is pre-Napoleonic France. Cobblestone streets and elegant whitewashed buildings bring a bit of small town (though quite liberal in philosophy) feel in the center of a thriving city.

 

Alright, last one (although there are many more I could list). I chose this one for me because I WANT to see it someday and I love historic houses…or in this case…um…palaces.

5. The Château de Versailles

The Château de Versailles is the former residence of King Louis XIV and XV. A conglomeration of architectural extravagance and dazzling beauty, the palace boasts The Royal Opera House, the Royal Chapel, and the most visited fixture – The Hall of Mirrors. There are also extended gardens to explore and a wonderful history to uncover, so what’s not to love?

Now, if we add a very romantic guy named Adrien to the list of things to see in Paris, then this Book Journey sounds like a dream-come-true. Learn more about Adrien Delaporte on Saturday in Swoony Saturdays.

So….if you could visit Paris, what would you most look forward to seeing?

Kissing Adrien…AGAIN

kissing adrienHow’s that for a ‘grab you’ title?

10 years ago I read Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell for the first time. It was one of those moments as a budding writer where you realize: What? Someone writes in a style/way I want to write!! How cool is that?!

Kissing Adrien is a beautiful story with so many fun and poignant elements. Yes, it’s a romance. Yes, it’s a fun jaunt through the city of Love. Yes, it’s quirky and enjoyable, but it’s so much more. It’s a journey of one woman taking a deeper look at who she is and who GOD is…and how that changes her view about everything else.

As I reread this book for my Kissing Adrien week, I realized all the more how Siri took this story and made God BIGGER through Claire’s journey. So many times we minimize the greatness of God by making him fit into some prepackage of our own making – and by doing this, our world becomes smaller, our adventures become safer, our dreams become compact, and our self-image as God’s kid becomes tainted.

By using the hero, Adrien, Siri not only opens Claire’s heart to seeing her own self-worth and beauty as God’s child, but also uses Adrien to guide Claire through it.

Adrien is French…and seriously, Oh LA LA does not even reach the pinnacle of his awesomeness. You can learn more about him in my Swoony Saturday post because it’s ALLLLLLL about Adrien!

Claire is the girl-next-door who’s forgotten how to color outside the lines because life kind of ‘got in the way’ of silly things like fairytales and dreams. She’s forgotten who she is. She’s lost her way. All she needs is someone to find her, help her learn how to wear the perfect black dress, and sweep her off her feet along a walk down the Champs Elysees 😊

If you enjoy Katherine Reay’s or Beth Patillo’s books, this story is one you’ll want to add to your list for sure!

You can buy your copy here

Or visit Siri Mitchell’s website here.