Heartsong Presents: May new releases

Narelle here. My first fiction book release with Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents line is scheduled for February 2014. On the last Tuesday of each month, I’m posting information on the new Heartsong Presents releases for the following month.

Harlequin publishes four Heartsong Presents books each month: two contemporary inspirational romances and two historical inspirational romances. They also publish the Love Inspired books, including contemporary romance (Love Inspired), historical romance (Love Inspired Historical) and romantic suspense (Love Inspired Suspense).

International readers outside the USA and Canada can purchase the print books online from Amazon and The Book Depository (free international shipping). If you’re looking for inspirational (Christian) romances to read, please check out the  Heartsong Presents and Love Inspired books.

Wedding on the Rocks

Jennifer Edwards is back home again…

When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange—the boy she left behind—whose life’s work is digging up the past?

Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T. rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly in-sync hearts.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read Wedding on the Rocks excerpt at Amazon.com

Loves Stormy Gale

The Bride’s Second Chance

Two years ago, Olivia Shea was trying on her wedding gown, dreaming of marriage and motherhood. But her fisherman fiancé was lost at sea and Olivia fled, unable to stay in the New England fishing village. Now she’s back in Fairport, determined to face her fears by working on a whale boat tour. But the charter’s captain is the sole survivor of her fiancé’s ill-fated voyage—a man of danger and memories.

Jonathan Barrotta’s scars from the night he nearly died run as deep as the vast Atlantic. To prove himself and to honor his friend’s memory, he vows to fulfill his dream of piloting his own boat. But a life at sea means a life without Olivia—the woman he’s always secretly loved. How can he ask her to be a fisherman’s wife? Only with the Lord guiding their way will Jonathan and Olivia chart a course toward home—together.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read Love’s Stormy Gale excerpt at Amazon.com

Hidden Dreams

Mary Anne is on the run.

Her father’s been murdered, and now the mob’s after her, too. Leaving New York City behind is the only way to stay alive. Yet Mary Anne Lamont finds herself stuck in Maple Notch, Vermont, when her car crashes straight into Wallace Tuttle’s truck. Wallace and his family offer her warmth and welcome, no questions asked. But she doesn’t dare give them her real name—not without risking their safety too.

At first, Wallace chides himself for being distracted by the glamorous flapper. Mary Anne certainly doesn’t fit his image of a future wife. But underneath the bleached bob and big-city ways is a courageous, caring woman. When the danger she’s been running from draws close, Wallace must risk everything to prove his faith in Mary Anne, in God’s plan, and the dreams they’ve come to share.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read Hidden Dreams excerpt at Amazon.com

Always Abby

Abby’s all grown up. She just needs Will to notice.

When WWII soldier Will Judge brings home an orphan boy from Europe, it turns his world upside down. His fiancée might be ready to marry him, but not to mother a war orphan. As Will struggles to figure out his next move, he turns to Abby, his childhood friend.

Since they were teenagers, Abby Richardson’s feelings for Will have always been more than friendly. Once she was willing to be his pen pal and his confidante, listening as he poured out his heart. But now Abby wants so much more: to be part of Will’s ready-made family. What will it take to open Will’s eyes—and his heart?

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read Always, Abby excerpt at Amazon.com

Narelle Atkins

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents line in a six-book contract. Her first book, Falling for the Farmer, will be a February 2014 release. http://www.narelleatkins.com

Narelle is a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA) http://www.acrba.blogspot.com

It’s Just You and Me Lord

by Marion Stroud

“ Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door I will come in and we will share a meal together as friends.”
Rev. 3:20 NIV

One of my favourite ways of spending an evening is to share a meal with old friends. What we eat and drink is not particularly important – it’s the conversation that matters. We look back and laugh about our youthful escapades. We talk about the issues that confront us now and wrestle with questions of faith and family. Nothing is off-limits. We challenge each other’s pre-suppositions and get fresh glimpses of truth through the eyes of a trusted companion.

Prayer, at its best is like sharing a meal with a loved and trusted friend, but I’d never thought of writing a book of prayers. My Christian tradition uses extempore prayer, and so I don’t usually turn to a book when I want to talk to God. All the other books I’d written had been intended to fill a gap in the market – women who are ‘lone worshippers’, relatives of people with cancer, gift books for those on the fringe of faith. So when a publisher asked me to write a book of prayers for women I hesitated.

Then I remembered the so-called ‘apron pocket prayers’ that Marjorie Holmes wrote in the 1970’s, and the way in which a woman’s grounded and realistic conversations with God had helped me. Those were the kind of prayers I wanted to write: prayers that were totally honest and touched on topics and problems that might seem too ‘every day, or even too ‘unspiritual’’ to bother God with. I had found my approach to the subject ‘

Stroud It's Just You and Me, Lord Cover

Some of the topics I have written about in Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent and It’s Just you and Me Lord spring from my own experience, but many are rooted in the pain and challenges faced by others. But all these conversations with God spring from life as we experience it in the 21st C. My goal is that as we honestly and openly share our joys our pain and our perplexity with Him, we come away from the encounter changed and strengthened.


MARION STROUD lives in England, in the town where John Bunyan wrote his world-wide best seller, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ He did this during his 12 years in prison for preaching, at a time when non-conformity was outlawed. She is the author of 3 children’s fiction titles and 22 adult non-fiction titles, including the Lion ‘Gift of’s …’ which were printed in 14 different languages and remained in print for 30 years.

Her most recent book of prayers for women It’s Just You and me Lord was published in the USA by Discovery House in October 2012 and is a special Spring promotion in Sam’s Club [part of Walmart] for Mother’s Day. To win a prize in her ‘Sam’s Club contest’ go to her Author page.



For a limited time, It’s Just You and Me Lord and Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent – Prayers for Every Season of a Woman’s Life are available from Discovery House Publishers at a 25% discount. Please use promotion code AUTH029 at the checkout.



Book Recommendation: Reinventing Rachel by Alison Strobel

Reinventing Rachel

Back Cover blurb:

God let Rachel Westing down. For twenty-six years she’s done everything by the book; she figures He should have her back. But then she learns her fiancé is cheating on her. Her parents are getting a divorce. And her Christian mentor has a pill addiction. Where is God in all this? Nowhere, as far as Rachel can see. Wounded, bitter, and with a shattered faith, she quits her job and goes across the country to live with Daphne—her childhood best friend whose soul Rachel once thought she was meant to save.

Confident, successful, fun-loving Daphne sets about helping Rachel reinvent herself, and for a while it’s exciting. But when another tragedy shakes Rachel to the core, what little bit of self-possession she has left begins to unravel. A true-to-life story that will draw you in and keep you biting your nails until the end.

Narelle: I enjoyed reading this book despite not particularly liking the main character. At the start of the story Rachel comes across as shallow and naive. She views the non-church attending people in her life as potential ‘projects’ to convert rather than potential friends. Her world falls apart and her faith is shaken because God hasn’t given her a perfect life.

I struggled to identify with Rachel during the first few chapters because she acted like a spoilt princess and seemed to lack an understanding of how suffering is part of the Christian journey. I nearly put the book down but I was intrigued by the story premise. I’m glad I kept reading.

We journey with Rachel as she turns her back on her childhood faith. She explores a different world in Chicago that is foreign to her previously sheltered life experiences in California. Without her faith to define her decisions, Rachel struggles to build a meaningful new life. Tragedy strikes and Rachel is forced to evaluate the direction of her life. I recommend this book to those interested in reading a story that shows what could happen to young believers who fall away from a childhood faith that hasn’t prepared them to face real world challenges.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

ACRBA Tour Strength Renewed by Shirley Corder

15 – 19 April
is introducing
(Revell/Baker Publishing Group, October 2012)
Shirley Corder

About the Author
Shirley in Summary: I am an author, registered nurse and cancer survivor (1997). I am also a pastor’s wife. I live in the beautiful Eastern Cape of South Africa with Rob, my husband of well over 40 years, a liely Jack Russell terrior who answers to the name of Zoё, and a hyperactive budgie named Sparkie. 
About the Book:
Comfort and hope to sustain you through the months ahead. Nothing saps your strength quite like a cancer diagnosis—unless it is the energy-stealing chemotherapy and surgeries you face in your fight against cancer. But you can find hope and strength in the pages of Scripture, and in the experience of someone who has been there. In Strength Renewed, breast cancer survivor and registered nurse Shirley Corder combines her encouraging personal stories with powerful passages from Scripture to help you along the road to recovery. These devotions can be read in sequential order to move you through a typical cancer journey from diagnosis through treatment. But each meditation also stands on its own, so you can go directly to the entry that speaks to your need—right now. You have a partner and a cheerleader in Shirley—and in God—on the rough road ahead. Let Strength Renewed lift you up as you travel.

South African Giveaway:

If you are from South Africa, Shirley has a copy of her book to give away to one reader. Just leave a message on any of the blogs that feature Shirley this week and you will go into the draw. Please mention you have a South African mailing address. 

Narelle: Please check out my Book Recommendation for Strength Renewed, posted November 8, 2012.


Goodness and Mercy

by Shirley Corder

When our daughter, son-in-law and two little grandchildren left for a missionary destination half way across the world, our prayer life went up by 200%.

One day our daughter wrote to ask us to pray for a little boy. He had fractured his leg, and it had been wrongly set. Doctors were battling to save his leg. How we prayed. Not just for the little boy. We prayed our little ones would never break a limb. That none of them would ever get ill. Or have an accident.

Within a matter of weeks, my daughter was teaching a group of small children their alphabet. “Let’s look for things that begin with ‘B’,” she suggested. Then she noticed a huge snake coiled near her two-year-old.

Her husband somehow managed to capture the snake in a bucket, using a broom. The snake turned out to be a Boa Constrictor. A boa constrictor in a bucket with a broom! After reading this, I looked at the dictionary with much trepidation to see what began with ‘C’! We praised the Lord. God’s goodness and mercy had saved the day.

It didn’t always work like that. Over the next years we prayed them through an iguana bite, Dengue fever, a lung infection, a split chin (repaired with super glue!), an almost-broken nose, and yes . . . a fractured leg.

What happened? Did God get tired of our prayers?

Today, my daughter will tell you it was worth the trauma. As they look back, they see the blessings God worked during that period.

At the same time, I struggled through a dreadful year of treatment for aggressive cancer. We prayed regularly for good health—so why didn’t God stop the tumour from growing?

One scripture that became very real to me was Isaiah 40:31. They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. As I waited on God, He gave me so many blessings. As a direct result of cancer, today I am a published author and a public speaker. I also have a website especially to encourage and inspire those in the cancer valley.

Last week, my husband and I set off for a town some hours away. I was scheduled to speak the next day on the topic, “Change of Life – From nursing sister to published author.” Fifteen minutes from town, we became vehicle #4 in a nine-car pile-up. Why? We only finished praying for protection about 30 seconds before it happened! (Makes you wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t prayed!)

My son drove through to fetch us, and I delivered my talk as scheduled (albeit with a new illustration.) I believe God spoke to many people. Already, as we look back, we see God’s goodness and mercy upon us.

Over the next few days, panel beaters and an assessor decided our car’s fate. Would they salvage it, or would it head for the scrap yard? It was a scary time. We needed that car. And yet, as we waited upon the Lord, He did renew our strength. He didn’t renew our car—sadly, it was written off. But He renewed our strength.

Yes, we need to pray for protection. But we also have to allow God to be God. He will allow things to happen that we don’t like. Yet as we look back, we will see His goodness and mercy at work in our lives. Most of all, as we learn to wait upon Him, He will renew our strength. (You can read the story of the accident with photos, here.)

Shirley Corder

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on the often unexpected things God used to help her through the rough times in the cancer valley. It is available globally in print or online, in print and e-versions.

Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com, where she encourages writers, RiseAndSoar.com, where she encourages those in the cancer valley, on Twitter or on FaceBook. Sign up for her writers’ newsletter.

Book Recommendation: Her Minnesota Man by Brenda Coulter

Her Minnesota Man

Back Cover blurb:


Rock star Jackson Bell has just given his heart to God. Resolved to abandon his wicked lifestyle and eager for instruction in Christian living, he heads home to Owatonna, Minnesota and the girl-next-door he’s secretly loved for years. Dismayed to find Laney Ryland in the midst of a faith crisis, “Jeb” quickly formulates a plan: He’ll help Laney get her faith back, and then he’ll find her a good Christian man to marry so she can get started on that big family she longs for.

It won’t be easy, watching another man slide a ring onto Laney’s finger. But she deserves only the best, and Jeb means to see that she gets it. Now if only her great-aunts, those pesky 79-year-old matchmaking triplets known as the Three Graces, will just stay out of his way . . . .

Narelle: I really enjoyed reading this book. Jeb and Laney were fascinating characters with a complex history that set the stage for a compelling romance. Jeb’s desire to turn his back on his old rock star lifestyle and learn how to live according to his new found faith was both realistic and endearing. Laney was juggling the many responsibilities in her life, and struggling with her faith and her inability to meet ‘Mr. Right.’

I loved journeying with Jeb and Laney as their unique friendship became something more. The ‘Three Graces’ were adorable and interesting characters who added many moments of humour to the story. I highly recommend this book to those interested in reading a fun and inspiring contemporary romance.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Available in multiple electronic formats from Smashwords.com

Book Recommendation – Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol by Creston Mapes

Dark Star

Back Cover blurb:

Can Fame, Wealth, and Power Buy Happiness?

Everett Lester and his band, DeathStroke, ride the crest of a wave to superstardom. But the deeper they become immersed in fame, wealth, and power, the more likely they are to be swallowed alive by the drugs, alcohol, and discontentment that have become their only friends. Everett is headed down a perilous road of no apparent return when he’s charged with the murder of his personal psychic. The only hope he can cling to comes from Topeka , Kansas , and the letters written by a prayerful young lady who lives there. Consistent and persistent, the notes cut straight to Everett ’s empty heart, offering a fulfillment he’s never grasped before. But what if he’s found guilty of murder? Will he recognize the spiritual battle that’s raging for his soul?

Endora Crystal was my rock…

As I staggered through the chaos of rock ’n’ roll fame—the drugs and alcohol, the selfishness and turmoil—Endora was the gentle voice in my ear telling me I was special. Telling me I was adored. She was my personal psychic, and she said I had a unique purpose, a calling to give my fans happiness. To be their god.

My band, DeathStroke, dominated the world of rock. Yet strife ruled our inner circle. My family didn’t know me. I loved no one but myself.

And yet Karen Bayliss was praying for me, that I would come to know the love of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ. She was not a fan. Didn’t care for my music. Karen just wanted me to know peace.

Now Endora is dead, and I’ve been charged with first-degree murder.

Everett Lester is headed down a perilous road of no apparent return. Will he recognize the spiritual battle that’s raging for his soul?

Narelle: I was initially unsure if I’d like reading this book. The author presented a realistic picture of Everett’s celebrity rock star lifestyle, including drug use, and the story included flashbacks to earlier events in Everett’s life leading up to his arrest. After the first few chapters I was hooked, and I read this book very quickly. The powerful story stayed in my mind and I gained an empathy for Everett’s character as the story progressed.

I’m not usually a fan of flashbacks, but the parallel story line that blended past and present events worked really well and heightened the tension and suspense in the story. The spiritual warfare theme was an integral part of the plot and revealed the dangers for those dabbling in the occult. I loved Karen’s character and her unwavering faith in the power of prayer. I highly recommend this book to those interested in reading a thought provoking and compelling spiritual warfare story.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Free Books in Exchange for Reviews

Narelle here. Today I’m guest blogging on my friend Shirley Corder’s Writing to Inspire blog. In my post, Free books in Exchange for Reviews, I’m talking about the benefits of joining blog alliances for readers who review books. The post can be found at the following link.


I’m a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA) and we are touring Shirley Corder’s book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey Through Breast Cancer, on April 15 -19.


ACRBA Tour Web of Lies by Laura O’Connell

is introducing
(Even Before Publishers, December 2012)
Laura O’Connell
About the Author:
Laura enjoys writing stories about second chances in love and life. She calls the Gold Coast home, however, her curious nature leads her on adventures to locations that surprise and delight her. Laura has a passion for telling a good story set in places where she has lived and travelled. Laura is the author of African Hearts and Web of Lies. Her debut novel, African Hearts, was shortlisted in the 2011 Caleb Prize. To find out more about Laura visit her website: http://laura-oconnell.com

About the Book:
High school sweethearts, Stephanie and Lachlan are torn apart by circumstance, bad decisions and a web of lies,leaving an unknown future for their son, Ryan.

Eight years later they reconnect, but the time apart has changed them. The family had made decisions based on lies and deceit and now must find a way to either reveal the truth or find another option. On the surface their arrangements seemed flawless, but dig deeper, and the people they thought they knew, aren’t as they appear.

Lachlan and Stephanie are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and the entire family is compelled to reveal the truth, find forgiveness, and renew loving one another. But the hardest decision is still to come…where does Ryan live?

Narelle: I enjoyed reading Web of Lies. I have watched this story evolve and critiqued earlier versions of the story. Laura has done a great  job in tackling a complex family drama. She keeps the reader hanging until the end, turning the page to find out how the main story question is resolved. The consequences of what seemed like small lies many years ago create a massive snowball with the potential to destroy a number of family relationships.

Please check out Laura’s guest post on my blog from December 11 last year, called The Agony of Lies.