Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Title: The Silent Governess

Author: Julie Klassen

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Book Description:

Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.


The Silent Governess is a wonderful story of love and trust, misunderstandings and secrets set in Regency era England. As Olivia Keene seeks to put as much distance as possible between herself and the terrible secret she hopes to leave behind, she inadvertently eavesdrops on a conversation between Lord Bradley and his father, the Earl of Brightwell, and learns Lord Bradley has a dangerous secret of his own. An unfortunate mistake leads to a throat injury that temporarily renders Miss Keene mute. Lord Bradley, fearing Miss Keene will reveal his secret either in writing or once she regains the ability to speak, gives her no choice but to accept a post as under nurse on his estate.

It doesn’t take long for the reader to learn someone is threatening to reveal Lord Bradley’s secret. The mystery of who is behind the plot against him carries throughout much of the book, as does Miss Keene’s fear of her own secret being revealed. Another theme running through the book is the attraction between Lord Bradley and Miss Keene. Since a relationship between a lord and a servant is not a viable option, they both must fight their feelings. An element of faith is intertwined with the story, and occasional conversations with the vicar prod everyone in the right direction.

A well-developed cast of secondary characters, including a crusty old gamekeeper; a wonderful command of Regency-era English; and the right amount of description bring this story to life. Julie Klassen has done an amazing job of giving readers a glimpse back in time to the difficulties faced by the different classes in early 1800s England. I highly recommend The Silent Governess for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the Bethany House Book Reviewers program. All opinions stated in this review are my own and based solely on the contents of this book and my experience reading it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you fellow authors Anne Patrick and Danielle Thorne for giving my blog this award!

Now that I've accepted this lovely award, I have the honor and privilege of passing it on to others. Here are the rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you enjoy. (Okay, so 15 can be a lot to come up with! Pass it on to as many bloggers as you can, up to 15. I'm passing it on to 9.) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And so, I pass this award on to these truly deserving blogs. I hope you will check each one of them out!

Miss Mae

Robin Shope

Judah Raine

Sharon Donovan

Marianne Evans

Ashley Ludwig

Laurean Brooks

The Lovestruck Novice

Hywela Lyn

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Small talk...or not

Okay, I've admitted a few times on here that I'm autistic, and for some reason that always surprises everyone. I have no idea why, but apparently to the Internet world I'm not at all different or weird. It's nice to be accepted as is and not have to pretend to be someone different to fit in, but I feel the need to confess to the occasional lack of small talk ability. What does that have to do with interaction on the Internet?

Trust me, a lot of groups I belong to thrive on small talk, just like any group of people in "real life." I enjoy reading the exchanges (it also helps me write more realistic characters) and sometimes I join the written small talk. A lot of times, however, I know I ought to respond somehow, but I have no idea what to say. While I'm trying to figure it out, days can pass. By the time I have something to add to the conversation, the topic has changed and I remain silent, which is what happens in the non-virtual world as well.

I know, you're probably thinking, "It's email groups/forums/etc. That stuff hangs around forever. Why not go ahead and respond, even if it is a week or more later?" The simple answer? The real world has me too well trained. In face-to-face interactions, there have been way too many times I've finally added something to the conversation several minutes after the topic has moved on and received strange looks, expressions of annoyance, or (the worst) brought the conversation to a complete halt and people suddenly have something else to do. I can't shake the feeling that when I respond late to a topic when the group is already on a different topic, the other groups members are sitting at their own computers wondering what I was thinking for trying to keep a closed subject open. Goofy fear on my part, I know, but that's the way it is.

My only excuse for small talk difficulties, whether online or not, is that people on the spectrum are known for problems with social interaction. Within five or ten minutes of meeting me in person, people rarely have any trouble believing I have an ASD (autism spectrum disorder). But as I've said before, the Internet is a great equalizer. I have plenty of time to think about how to say what I want to say, and I can revise it before sending if I need to. I also don't have to worry about stumbling over words or the words getting stuck somewhere between my brain and my mouth, because I don't have to verbalize my thoughts. I do it all through written word, which is the easiest way for me to convey my thoughts. The only drawback (aside from brain freeze in chat rooms) is the whole "small talk overwhelms me at times" thing.

To stay marginally on topic, I ran across a comic today that describes me perfectly on some days:

EDIT: It appears this comic may or may not show fully thanks to my blog design. If you have trouble seeing the full image, you can find the original here.

There's nothing like trying to figure out how much information to give, how to best describe how you're doing, etc. in a split second. Thankfully, most of the time I feel kind of like Pavlov's dogs. The question "How are you?" is my bell and my automatic response is, "Fine," regardless of the dozen or so ways I could answer. I know a conditioned response like that doesn't sound like something to be thankful for, but it's a whole lot less awkward than the long, likely rambling answer I would otherwise give about how I am.

Will I ever fully overcome my troubles with small talk? I seriously doubt it. For one thing, I get bored easily with conversations that go nowhere. Plus, my brain just doesn't think "chitchat" most of the time. I can usually fake it pretty well, but most of the time I definitely prefer deeper know, the ones that do more than fill silence.

Okay, reading that last paragraph makes me wonder just how snarky people will find it, but I didn't mean it in a snarky way at all. That's just the way I see it. I'm sure there are others who enjoy small talk, and I admire you for the ability to chitchat with ease. Differences in personalities keep the world an interesting place to live.

On a side note, I'll be chatting with The Sweetest Romance Authors all day Thursday, January 14, at the Coffee Time Romance forum. Be sure to stop by and leave a comment or two! Even though I'm not that great at small talk, I always enjoy the chance to chat with readers and other authors.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blackout by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn

Title: Blackout

Author: Jason Elam and Steve Yohn

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Book Description:

Riley Covington is still reeling from his father’s brutal murder when he learns he’s been traded. Meanwhile, the counterterrorism division has detected a plot to detonate electromagnetic pulse bombs that could leave the U.S. without power, communications, and transportation—right down to dropping planes out of the sky. CTD scrambles to stop the attacks, but they run out of time. Amid the fallout, Riley, Scott, Skeeter, and CTD must regroup to make sure the second bomb doesn’t reach its destination.


I have mixed feelings on Blackout. The first half of the story didn’t feel like a thriller at all. Riley Covington, the title character of the series, didn’t play as big a role as expected and his main purpose appeared to be remembering the past and playing football. In my opinion as a reader, the first half of the book could have been condensed into just a few chapters and kept the tension of the story high, rather than taking over a hundred and fifty pages and making me wonder if the “thriller” part of this Riley Covington Thriller would ever start.

The second half of the book, however, was an amazing ride of suspense. It was everything I hope for in a thriller and had an awesome storyline. Electromagnetic pulse bombs aren’t something I’ve seen done to death in fiction, and the glimpse of the devastation an EMP bomb would cause was both fascinating and frightening. Once the story picked up, I couldn’t put the book down. I was drawn into the story and found myself rooting for the good guys and rejoicing when the bad guys took a blow. I came away fully satisfied with the second half of the book.

If you don’t mind a slow start to an exciting story, you might enjoy Blackout. But if you’re like me and prefer a thriller that’s suspenseful from beginning to end, this may not be the book for you.

I received a free ARC of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network. All opinions stated in this review are my own and based solely on my experience reading this book.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Challenges...

Happy New Year!

2009 was filled with joy and sadness, excitement and concerns. Overall, it was a good year for me, particularly in terms of writing. My first ebook, Dreams Do Come True, was published by White Rose Publishing. A few short months later, I had received my second ebook contract and Light in the Darkness was released from Sea Crest eBooks. The end of the year was particularly exciting. On Christmas Eve, I received a contract from The Wild Rose Press for my third ebook, this time a romantic suspense. Look for more information on that story (including the final title) later. On New Year's Eve, I received the first round of edits on my newly contracted story.

While I have a lot of work to do in terms of edits, what better way for an author to start a year than with a brand new contract?

So, what is my New Year's resolution? Predictably enough, it involves writing. My main resolution is to get promotion under control and planned out so it doesn't take over my life or intimidate me to the point I don't do it at all. I had both things happen in 2009, and I know it was a direct result of not getting organized. 2010 is my year to figure out a promotion plan that works for me and that I can stick to without sacrificing too much writing time. My other writing goals involve actual writing. I hope to write and publish short fiction for magazines. I also plan to work on three romantic suspense stories I have in mind (one of which is already half written!), and I am going to finish my inspirational time-travel romance. This may not sound like much to some people, but this short list is going to keep me very busy this year.

Did I meet my 2009 goals? No. I was too ambitious with them and was unable to accomplish all I had hoped to do. This year's goals may be a bit ambitious as well, but I can always adjust them later if necessary. I like having a challenge, however, and meeting my goals for 2010 will definitely challenge me.

What about you? Did you meet your 2009 goals? What goals do you have for 2010?