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Celebrating New Releases

Mistletoe Memories: Six New Inspirational Holiday Romances

boxed-setThis past week the Mistletoe Memories bundle released and I couldn’t be more excited to share this group of stories with you. Myself and five other multi-published authors joined together to bring you six never before published novellas about love at Christmastime. The best part: right now you can snag this bundle for only 99 cents. I’m serious. You can’t beat that deal.

And I’m even more excited to share this with you because my story in the collection – It Was You – launches my new King’s Cove series. Expect to see two more King’s Cove novellas releasing before the end of the year!

The Ranger’s Texas Proposalrangers-texas-proposal

Last year my editor at Love Inspired called me, offering the chance to write a series with five other authors and I jumped at the opportunity. The Ranger’s Texas Proposal is the second book in the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boy’s Ranch series (but can be read as a stand alone). It’s the story of a hunky Texas Ranger and a tough, pregnant widow. I loved writing these characters and really fell in love with them. This one’s a tear-jerker with a warm ending. I can’t wait for it to hit the store shelves!

Small-Town Girl 

Small-Town Girl FrontSmall-Town Girl released in August and it’s really special because it was my fifth book published by Love Inspired. It is the fourth book in the Goose Harbor series and follows newcomer, Kendall Mayes, as she tries to chart out a new future and avoid relationships along the way. That is, until she meets the handsome loner Brice Daniels. This book has already received a lot of great reviews and so many of you have contacted me privately letting me know how much this story meant to you. Small-Town Girl was also recommended on the USA Today Happy Ever After blog by the wonderful Serena Chase: “Highly recommended for fans of inspirational and sweet romance, this is a story that offers many sigh-worthy moments …”

Thanks for reading! -jess

Black Friday Book Sale

Black Friday Book Sale

No matter if you’re spending Black Friday out at the stores searching for the perfect gifts or safely tucked in your home, here’s a deal you can snag from any computer. From now through Cyber Monday (Dec. 1st) these seven Inspirational/Sweet Romance ebooks are on sale for only .99 cents. So for the next few days you can download SEVEN books for less than ten dollars. Now that’s what I call a Black Friday sale!

Books are listed the author’s last names. Scroll down for descriptions. Each image is a link to the book’s Amazon purchase page. Happy reading!


New Year’s Eve

New Years EveLove was a resolution they didn’t plan on making.

Eve Larson arranged a solitary New Year’s celebration at her mother’s beach house to give herself the space to evaluate her recent hurts—the death of her mother and a broken engagement. She wants nothing more than to put them behind her and make a fresh start on January 1. When her ex-fiancé’s brother, Spencer Canley, shows up with one final demand from her past, Eve worries her plans are sinking like a ship off her beloved Texas coast. Circumstances keep Spencer at the beach longer than either of them initially want, but the delay gives each of them the opportunity to see the other in a different light. As Spencer makes a decision that changes everything about his upcoming year, he realizes he doesn’t want to repeat his brother’s mistake of pushing Eve away. A year ago, the changing of the calendar brought news that changed Eve’s whole life. Could this new year bring love back?

The Holiday Hearts Series: Heartwarming Stories of Finding Love on the Most Special Days of the Year.

Please Note: New Year’s Eve is a sweet contemporary romance novella with a word count of 22,000 words and a PG-level heat rating.


The Cupid Caper

Sometimes you’ve got to take Cupid’s bow and arrow into your own hands. The Cupid Caper

Amanda Marsh is in love with love. As a high school English teacher, she is surrounded by poetry and classic literature, including the love stories written by her favorite author, Shakespeare. She knows she’ll never find anything as romantic as the stories that have stood the test of time, so she’s settled on having a crush on chemistry teacher Luke Baker from a far.

Luke Baker left his career as a research chemist behind to share a love of science with students. And he’s about to make his pet project a reality as the curriculum lead for the district’s new specialized science and technology academy. When a poem shows up on his desk drawing him into The Cupid Caper, the Valentine’s Day-themed dance and fundraiser for Skyview High School’s Student Council, Luke dismisses the whole thing as a silly game. But when he realizes that winning the grand prize in The Cupid Caper is the one way he can help a star student attend the new STEM Academy, he decides to play along.

Paired together, the English teacher and the chemistry teacher both realize The Cupid Caper is more than a game, but neither can tell the other their feelings are no joke. When an education in happily ever after is on the line, will a man whose life has been ruled by the scientific method and a woman who quotes sonnets miss the mark, or will Cupid’s arrow finally ring true?

The Holiday Hearts Series: Heartwarming Stories of Finding Love on the Most Special Days of the Year

Please Note: The Cupid Caper is a sweet contemporary romance novella with a word count of 27,000 words.


Bachelor Father

Bachelor FatherAdoption caseworker Molly Hennessey is determined to place every child in her caseload in a happy home with two loving parents—the type of caring home she’s always dreamed of having herself. Determined, that is, until Brett Cahill comes along and disproves her lifelong perceptions of single parents.

Brett is a typical bachelor. He figures that someday he’ll settle down with a wife and have kids—but just not yet. Then, his sister and her husband are killed in an accident, leaving him with Jake, the Korean toddler they were in the process of adopting. But in order for Brett’s application to be approved he needs to be a married man and kiss his bachelor days good-bye.

Molly holds the power to give herself the home she’s always longed for and to give Brett what he wants most—little Jake. But will she realize it in time?


Searching for Home

She thought a dead relative ruined her life, but discovering his story will save it instead.Searching for Home

When the story of Whitney’s long-dead anarchist ancestor, Lewis Ingram, makes front-page news, she must find a way to exonerate her relative, or risk losing everything–her mayoral-candidate boyfriend and her job at a local magazine. Aided by Nate, a volunteer at the Chicago Historical Foundation, she digs in, determined to find a positive spin on the situation. But what awaits her isn’t spin at all. It’s truth–and it will change her life.

In the world of 1886, Ellen Ingram and James Kent didn’t intend to get caught in the middle of an anarchist spy ring. Ellen was content to leave all such intrigue to her brother, Lewis Ingram. But as the political climate in Chicago changes, Ellen and James have no choice. In the midst of the famous Haymarket Riot, both realize that they must live the life God created them for, not the one dictated by society.

Two generations encounter the same truth–and neither will ever be the same.


A Christmas Bond

A Christmas BondPrequel novella for the Sacred Bond series.

War hero John Moretti sees the delinquent boys he mentors as the sons he never had, and he wants to give them every opportunity to reform. Crime victim Annie Bauer views them as dangerous threats to her elderly grandma, who lives next door to the boys’ residential school.

When the Baby Jesus is stolen from Grandma’s yard nativity scene, the boys’ potential involvement may send them straight to hard-core juvie, and break the fragile connection that’s building between Annie and John. Until the so-called delinquents join together to make a sacred bond . . .


Finding Mr. Write

Jeremiah Jacobs moved to the Ozarks for a fresh start. He knows no one and has no plans to get romantically involved withFinding Mr. Write anyone. Ever. He’s already had his heart ripped out once and once is enough. Besides he has contractual obligations that prevent him from talking about work – and what woman would want to be involved with a man who has to keep his job a secret? When he attends his first local writers’ group meeting, he finds the leader so intriguing, his instant attraction to her threatens to complicate his currently uncomplicated life.

Dorrie Miller has never been good enough. Not for her father or any of the guys she’s dated in the past. She’s pushed beyond her father’s disapproval to have a good career while pursuing her dream of becoming a published novelist. The Christian Authors Network – Dedicated to Inspirational Distinction, or CANDID, is hosting their annual conference in Indianapolis and who’s rumored to be in attendance? The super reclusive, super-star author, Mya Elizabeth Linscott.

The hunky new member of her local CANDID group, Jeremiah, wants to carpool to Indy. Dorrie can handle not making a fool of herself for eight hours each way. Right? But she never imagined doing a favor for someone during the conference would leave her accidentally married to the gorgeous guy she barely knows. How will she get out of this mess, married to a near stranger? Does she want to? Will her insecurities and Jeremiah’s secrets tear them apart? Or can she trust that, all along, God’s been helping her with Finding Mr. Write?


Good Enough for a Princess

Good Enough for a PrincessCrown Princess Adeline of Montevaro has her life planned out for her: get her Master’s in international relations, marry nobility, produce an heir, inherit the throne. There’s no room for romance with the single father she meets when their cars collide on an icy winter night. Parliament – and her father – would never approve. 

Charlie Brewer grew up without roots. The son of an archaeologist father and anthropologist mother, he either traveled along or lived with his aunt and uncle in the States. He’s determined to give his daughter the stability he never had. He also wants to give her a mom, but the beautiful European he’s falling for refuses to move to Serenity Landing, Missouri permanently. 

He won’t move. She can’t stay. What will happen when they try to forget each other by dating someone “acceptable”? They find themselves drawn together by one of the girls in the after school program Addie supports – a girl who happens to be Charlie’s daughter. How will Charlie, and his daughter, feel when they find out the woman they’ve both fallen for is a… princess? 

A trip halfway around the world shows Charlie and Addie how much they long to be together – and how impossible it is. Is there any way he can prove he is Good Enough for a Princess?

Why I Write Young Adult Fiction

“Since it is so likely that (children/teens) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” –C.S. Lewis

Beware: Spoilers for Allegiant, The Fault in Our Stars, and possibly Lord of the Flies and the Harry Potter series (but if you haven’t read or at least know the ending to those last two…please come out from under that rock pronto).

Like many others, I was excited to get my hands on Allegiant, the final book in the wildly popular Divergent series. I loved book one, tentatively liked book two, and looked forward to the last installment.

allegiant

All to my utter and complete disappointment.

Allegiant and subsequently its author, Veronica Roth (who, for the rest of this will be known as VRoth) failed readers on so many levels, but more than anything it/she failed a generation of teen readers who are looking for a new brand of hope.

See, when an author writes a book they can’t just willy-nilly send it out into the world. They must keep in mind that their words have the power to shape and affect people. An author, especially someone with a huge readership, has a responsibility to their readers. They must offer hope within the pages of their book or it’s a pointless waste of time for the author and more so, the reader.

Author William Faulkner said in his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize, “The writer’s duty is to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.”

Does there have to be an “and they lived happily ever after” ending? Absolutely not. Suzanne Collins’s (author of The Hunger Games series) editor put it best when she said that young adult books don’t need a happy ending, but in the end, there must be “a window left open”—a way where we can see that the characters we’ve grown to love can move on from tragedy.

There must be hope.

Teens today are growing up in a far different world than the one I grew up in (and I’m not that old). I’m of the Harry Potter generation. The books of my youth were stories of teens that could rise up and save the world. My generation was the one told that if we go to college and work hard then we’ll get good jobs and we can accomplish anything. I’m the generation just in front of today’s teens—and the teens of today have watched as the bottom dropped out of my generation’s lives. Where going to college hasn’t landed many of my friends a job, instead it has left them drowning in debt. Where many parents are divorced and a significant amount of people I know have watched their family home seized by forecloser.

Teens today have grown up watching this all unravel. For all of the aware part of their lives, our country has been at war. Think about that. They don’t know of an America not at war. Polls show that their vision of success is very different than my teen generation (which is only ten years ago). Today’s teen sees success not as owning a home, graduating college, having a family, or starting a business, instead the number one measure of success in recent polls showed them wanting to be debt free “at some point in life.” That’s it.

Contemporary teens aren’t looking for books about teens saving the world. They only ask for the small hope of saving their small corner of it. So popular books for this generation are ones that in the end show that in the midst of a messed up world, you can find your own peace/hope, even if it’s just between you and one other person.

Fiction has always been meant to combat the reality of life. VRoth failed us here. She didn’t show us what could be possible. Instead she smacked us in the face with what is. And we don’t need that. Because we’ve all dealt with more than enough loss and hardship and heartbreak. We don’t need books that repeat what we live every single day, we need books that show us that in the midst of a heartbreak world, we can find our own little pod of happiness/joy. That just because the world we live in is going to pot, doesn’t mean we have to lose hope.

Whatever her purpose, VRoth showed teens with Allegiant one horrible thing: their life, their struggles, their fight for right…none of it matters in the end. Which leaves teens asking: what’s the point? If nothing I’m working for matters…why try? I know that’s not the message she meant to send, but when an author is careless with their responsibility to readers, this is the kind of thing that can happen.

I’ll admit I spent a good amount of time reading Amazon reviews for Allegiant in order to see if I was the only one left disillusioned. I wasn’t. Sadly, I’m in the majority with the one star reviews.

Most of the five star reviews I read were people who applauded VRoth on her bravery in “giving a realistic ending.” To this I say: there is a whole genre dedicated to realism. If you want stories that make you feel like someone has stabbed your heart on the last page with no chance for recovery, then feel free to read that genre. But for the ninety-five percent of people that read for enjoyment and escapism, sorry, we want some glimmer of a happy ending. If the Divergent series was meant to belong in the realism genre then it was marketed terribly because right now, all we have are broken promises to readers.

Also, even within realism, hope is usually the end game.fault

Take the book The Fault in Our Stars which falls in the realism genre, the teens in the story who fall in love both have terminal cancer. In the end of the book (I said there were spoilers…) Augustus dies. Why weren’t readers rioting over that? Because a promise wasn’t broken—when they picked up the book they knew they were going to read a story about dying teens so a teen dying at the end of the book was something they were braced for, if not expecting.

Even still, The Fault in Our Stars ends with hope. Hazel realizes that although Augustus has died, her love for him doesn’t have to. Death doesn’t have to change the definition of relationships. My grandfather, who is deceased, is still my grandfather because I’m living and can claim him as such. The last line of the book is in present tense whereas the rest of the book was in past tense. Meaning life goes on. This is a hopeful message.

VRoth killed her main character which is just hard to do well, especially in young adult fiction. Unless the author brings the character back after death (like Harry Potter), a theme/point is better demonstrated through killing a beloved secondary character like Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars or Piggy in Lord of the Flies (how’s that for old school). Otherwise, just save it for realism or adult fiction. Period.

All of this spurs me on to write the young adult stories that keep running around in my head—the ones full of turmoil and struggles and hurt, but all of which are covered in and end with “an open window” one that blatantly leads my readers to hope.

Jess

Why Dystopia Fiction?

It wouldn’t be going out on a ledge to make the claim that the dystopian storyline is really big right now. Trends like this in fiction come and go quickly—but I don’t see dystopias leaving us any time soon.

Just like the Twilight series started the spark of the seemingly never-ending vampire/paranormal trend, the latest dystopians (in my humble opinion) are just the beginning. Movie magic helps keep fictional trends alive much longer than books normally enjoy. With two more Hunger Games movies, and the Divergent series just beginning to cast actors, there will be more, not less, people reading and looking for new dystopia fiction in the future.

Dystopia fictions are characterized by featuring a future society that is messed up and controlling. The story is usually filled with pain and hardship. Dystopia fiction shows us the worst of humanity.

Why on earth would anyone want to read about that?

Because these stories serve as warnings, moreover, they remind us about real life.

Rosemary Stimola, the agent who represents Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games said, “I don’t think the readership is tired or these types of stories. This is population of young people who don’t remember a time when the country was not at war. It makes perfect sense that their literature would allow them a way to exercise their thoughts about the nature of good and evil, and that it might reflect violence and great loss.” –quoted in “YA Comes of Age,” Publisher’s Weekly, 09/30/11

Sure, dystopian fiction is dark, and many shy away from it because of this fact, but I believe dystopian stories have the ability to shine the brightest and impact readers the most. Because when everything shakes down, the reason we’re attracted to these stories isn’t to read the bad, but to see the hope that they offer.

The main theme in every single one of these stories is that one person, or a small group of people, must take a stand against all that is wrong and evil in the fictional society. In the midst of unimaginable suffering, good rises to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds and wins.

We learn the impact that one life—one person—can have.

Maybe, just maybe, it makes us wonder if little old us can make a difference in our own world. We realize that our actions matter in the big scheme of things. And dare to hope that if push came to shove, we’d have the courage to rise against the worst sort of evil, no matter the cost.

Image courtesy of prozac1 –   http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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If I find a YA book or romance book that is to die for, I’ll share the details. My author friends even stop by!