Fiction Friday – River of Time Series

I recently finished The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. I didn’t mean to, actually. I finally got around to reading the first book on my Kindle and the world pulled me in so fast I just had to read the rest of the series!

WaterfallCascadeTorrentBourne & TributaryDeluge

WATERFALL: Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy.

CASCADE: When Gabi and Lia find themselves back in the fourteenth century—and in the middle of major battles alongside romantic knights in shining armor—they have no idea if they can get back. Or if they even want to.

TORRENT: When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in Torrent, the third and final book in the River of Time series.
BOURNE, a novella, picks up right where TORRENT left off…Find out what has happened to men returning from the battle, gravely wounded, to the Betarrinis, fighting for the men they love, and just who is hunting them next…

TRIBUTARY, a novella, picks up a year after BOURNE… Lia struggles to overcome the fear that constant battle has heaped upon her; Gabi and Marcello face an unexpected crisis; and Lord Greco just may be ready to leave the grief and loss of his past behind him, so that he might grab hold of the future…

DELUGE The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called.


Lisa T. Bergren
is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books that have sold 1.5+ million copies. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time writing, editing, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy while parenting her three children with her husband, Tim. They live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My Recommendation

This series doesn’t lack action, high stakes decisions, or heartbreak. It is very compelling and, once you start, it is very hard to put down. I loved the world-building, and I felt like I was in medieval Tuscany. I could picture the countryside, the layout of the castles, and the cities. While some suspension of disbelief is needed, it didn’t bother me. It was fascinating reading about modern girls trying to fit into medieval Italy.

I was a little bothered by some of the cavalier ways the main characters referenced God in the beginning of the series, but that is my personal preference on how God should be addressed. While there was a faith aspect in these books and God is mentioned, it was very lightly done. The characters grew in their faith, but it never felt like a very deep part of the book.

While the first two books are young adult, the rest of the series feels like it almost wants to be an adult series. Once the main two girls are married, some of the husband and wife aspects are mentioned in more detail than some young adults want to know (nothing graphic. It is the same standard used in Christian adult literature). So I’d recommend this series to upper young adult and new adult age levels.

Overall, I loved this series (which is why I’m featuring it here!). It is fun to see a time travel/historical mash up, especially one involving lots of action and a setting like Italy.

Have you read The River of Time series? What did you think?


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Inspiration for Dare – Raglan Castle

Less than TWO WEEKS until Dare releases! Hence this blog post on Wednesday instead of Tuesday as I originally intended.

When I started revising Dare, I realized I needed a better picture in my mind for King Respen’s castle. At this point, I hadn’t even named the castle. I knew I wanted a castle with a large, noticeable tower. So I googled “castle with a large tower” to see what ideas I could come up with.

And that’s how I stumbled onto Raglan Castle in Wales.

Raglan Castle Blog Post

It wasn’t much to look at first. The Great Tower set off to the side had been bombarded into rubble several hundred years ago. The castle is still in ruins, not like some of the magnificent, restored castles seen in travel brochures. But as soon as I saw it, I knew I had the perfect castle for Dare.

I googled it and spent a long time looking through pictures. Even better, there was a virtual tour of Raglan Castle online done in pictures that walked me step by step through each part of the castle. I went through the online tour, took a lot of notes, and printed off a lot of pictures.

The website for the castle also had an artist’s sketch that showed what Raglan had probably looked like before it had been bombarded into rubble.

raglan61

A five-story Great Tower set apart from the rest of the castle? Perfect!

The in depth tour online and the abundance of pictures gave me the visuals I needed to create King Respen’s castle, which finally got the name Nalgar Castle. I made a few tweaks to the layout of Nalgar vs. the real Raglan Castle, but much of it remained the same.


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Fiction Friday – Adventures and Adversities

Today’s Fiction Friday spotlight is Adventure and Adversities by Sarah Holman.

About the Book

One day Alditha is content living with her family, the next she is taking her friend’s place to serve at the king’s castle. Her father’s final instructions, to keep smiling and to do what is right, will be harder to live out than she ever imagined. She will face a royal nephew who delights in making people miserable, an angry servant girl who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and noblemen who plot murder. Will she be able to keep the promise she made to her father? Will she find the faith she longs for during all her Adventures and Adversities?

My Recommendation

I got this book a while back on my kindle and didn’t get around to reading it for a while. When I did, I was browsing my kindle books and reading the first couple pages of a few books to see what one grabbed my interest. I’d already tested a few books and was prepared to do the same with this book. Then I realized it had been half an hour and I was already well into chapter five.

Although this book doesn’t have a ton of high action like most books I enjoy, it is very compelling. It has scenes of action sprinkled with day to day life of the main characters that is so well-written that I found myself unable to put the book down. Alditha, the main character, reminded me a lot of Anne of Green Gables or Elsie Dinsmore in that the other characters change because of her example. But, this doesn’t mean Alditha isn’t a dynamic character. She does change as she learns that trusting God doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be stoic. I really enjoyed that she was such an inspirational, motivating character. She’s such a good role model for readers, and it is rare to find a character than can both be a role model and interesting.

The setting is also interesting since it is set in a make-believe medieval kingdom, but still tied to real history and a real time period. The research was well-done, and I felt like I was actually living in Taelis with Alditha.

About the Author

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of five published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Have you read anything by Sarah Holman? Do you like characters that are role models?


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An Uncertain Choice – Book Review

An Uncertain Choicea medieval YA novel by Jody Hedlund, releases today! Head over to her blog where she is hosting a giveaway for this book. I was so excited when I learned that Jody Hedlund, one of my favorite authors, was writing a YA book. I was even more excited when I had the opportunity to be on her influencer team. I feel sorry for all of you who had to wait until today to buy and read the book, because it is as awesome as I thought it would be!

My Recommendation An Uncertain Choice is a delightful romance, but with enough action and mystery to keep it from being sappy or boring. Rosemarie is a wonderful heroine. She is weak and vulnerable, but she has a strong core that keeps her from being helpless. While she needs to be rescued, she also rescues herself at times. Her strength comes from her faith in God, and she has a compassionate heart. A good example of how a young Christian lady should be. The three knights are also well-rounded characters. The book could easily have turned awkward, but it is handled well. The other knights beside the one meant for Rosemarie could have turned into flat characters, but I liked each of them. While I had a favorite for Rosemarie, I loved all three of them and can’t wait to read about their happy endings in the rest of the series. Once again, a great book by Jody Hedlund and one I’ll be sure to read over and over again!

About the Book Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, shortly before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice—if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the knights’ arrival results in a series of attacks within her land, she begins to wonder if the convent is the best place after all. If only one of the knights—the one who appears the most guilty—had not already captured her heart.

This book also also has a prequel novella, The Vow. The Vow contains the backstory for An Uncertain Choice, and I recommend reading The Vow first. It makes her decision in the beginning of An Uncertain Choice more poignant. About the Book In this historical romance novella by Jody Hedlund, young Rosemarie finds herself drawn to Thomas, the son of the nearby baron. But just as her feelings begin to grow, a man carrying the Plague interrupts their hunting party. While in forced isolation, Rosemarie begins to contemplate her future—could it include Thomas? Could he be the perfect man to one day rule beside her and oversee her parents’ lands? Then Rosemarie is summoned back to her castle in haste. The disease has spread, and her family is threatened. And the secret she discovers when she returns could change her future forever. Q&A with the Author! After writing for the adult market, why did you decide to transition to young adult books? I have five children and three of them are now teens. That means that over the past few years I’ve ended up reading a lot of books in the Young Adult genre not only to stay abreast of what my kids are reading, but also to have discussions about the topics and world views within the books. All that to say, I’ve fallen in love with reading YA books! Naturally, as I’ve fallen in love with reading them, I had to consider the possibility of writing them. And while I have a lot of other things going on my publishing career, I decided I wanted to make this move into YA now while I still had teens at home to read my books (and give me feedback!). How is your approach to writing Young Adult novels different than your Historical Romance novels? My approach is different in a couple of ways. First, my adult historical romances are mostly set in the 1800’s in America (due in part to that setting being considered the “sweet spot” for adult historical fiction). But my YA is medieval times which is allowing me to jump into a time period that I’m crazy about! I’ve had lots of fun writing about knights, castles, and daring damsels! A second difference in my YA and adult fiction is in how I’m approaching the heroine and the romance. Obviously the heroine is a young adult (under 18 or on the cusp of turning 18), and so this is more of a coming of age story where the heroine must grapple with some “growing up” issues. She’s also just beginning to explore relationship issues and must wrestle through timeless questions about how to know who’s the right one, what qualities to look for in a relationship, and how to know when you’re really in love. What’s the story about and who are the main characters?   The heroine is a beautiful and wealthy young woman named Lady Rosemarie. She’s on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday and knows her destiny is to fulfill a vow made by her parents. In light of their infertility, her parents had promised to give their firstborn back to God for a life of service and celibacy when she turned eighteen. Now with only one month before her birthday, Lady Rosemarie receives the news that there is an exception to the Ancient Vow–if she finds true love and is married by her birthday, then she’s exempt from having to become a nun. Faced with a growing loneliness and the possibility of losing control over the people she rules with compassion, Lady Rosemarie questions whether life in a cloister is really the best choice for her life. She agrees to allow the three handsomest and noblest knights in the land the chance to win her heart in one month. Enter on stage, the three heart throbs! Sir Collin, Sir Bennet, and Sir Derrick. Each one is completely honorable and noble in his own way. Lady Rosemarie will have a tough choice ahead of her. Now you’ll have to read the book to find out who she chooses and why! Are you working on the next book in the series?  Yes! I’m excited about the second book in the series. It’s already written and I’m in the process of getting ready to turn it in to my editor in order to get her expertise feedback. As I mentioned it will involve another one of the three knights. But of course, I won’t give away which of the knights until closer to the release of the book! (How’s that for a tease!) In An Uncertain Choice, Rosemarie has to choose between three knights: 10957722_10204630598062228_6238788260820733248_o Sir Bennet – Charming and Handsome Sir Collin – Funny and Sincere Sir Derrick – Brooding and Compassionate If you were Rosemarie, which knight would you choose?


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Christmas Book Giveaway – The Princess Spy

Congrats to DeVorah, winner of last week’s giveaway!

Now on to this week’s giveaway!

This week I’m giving away a copy of The Princess Spy, the newest release by Melanie Dickerson. My sister-in-law recommended her books to me, and I loved them. They are fairy tale remakes set in a historical, medieval setting. While they stick to the plot line of the fairy tales for the most part, they are not constricted by them like some remakes are. Her latest release, The Princess Spy, is based on the frog prince fairy tale. I won’t give away how she manages to pull that one off!

Back Cover (from Amazon):

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

 My Recommendation:
 As with all her books, Dickerson weaves a deft tale combining the fairy tale and her historical setting. The Christian themes in the book are given a light touch, but they are still present throughout the book. My favorite part about this book is the character of Margaretha. Unlike some of the female main characters in Dickerson’s other books, Margaretha is not a lady to wait around for someone to rescue her. She is strong without being too bold. Her character has a good balance that shows it is possible to be a strong woman while still relying on others for help.
If you’d like to win a copy of The Princess Spy, please follow the Rafflecopter link below:

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