Temperance’s Trial
By Hallee Bridgeman
Published by Olivia Kimbrell Press
105 pages

Back Cover: Known only by her code name, TEMPERANCE, she is trained to operate a wireless radio and returns to her beloved France. With a new identity, Marie clandestinely communicates vital intelligence directly back to Headquarters but unwillingly attracts the attention and apparent adoration of a handsome but ruthless Nazi officer, Oberleutnant Leopold Schafer.

As the H-hour to execute their daring mission draws ever closer, Marie plays a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the unrelenting and merciless young Lieutenant Schäfer and the Nazi soldiers under his command. 

Review: This series is about a special team of operatives called, “The Virtues.” The author states, “Every story in the Virtue and Valor series was inspired by real people and real events” This is the first novel in the series taken from historical events in 1941 Great Britain. A special war department assembles an experimental exclusively female cohort of combat operatives, hand-picked and trained.

This series kicks off with a young girl named Marie Gilbert code named Temperance. The team was made up of seven women from different walks of life, training, backgrounds and social classes. These brave women come together in their faith to help the underground work in fighting the enemy in WWII. Each will rick everything to get the job done.

Marie and Edward leave their father to join the war effort. Their father was arrested for hiding Jews. Marie says, “Edward, how can we leave him?”
“Because he said we must!.”..”She’d never felt so alone in her life. Then she remembered – She was never alone. Whispering to God as she thanked him for safe arrival and prayed for continued protection.”

These brave women knew the risks. They could be tortured to obtain information. “They had courage, faith and valor – As their plan is laid to engineer the largest prison break of allied POW’s in history; the Nazis capture the radio operator Marie. It will take the cohesive team work of these women to save her life before they break her and bring the force of the third Reich to bear.”

I think this series would be great for anyone interested in WWI and for those who homeschool. Not only does this author do a good job of bringing history to life through these remarkable women but there is bonus material that helps takes readers deeper into history and the war effort.

The author gives details about the real person that inspired the story. In this first novel based on Eileen Mary “didi” Nearne. She’s twenty three and served as the wireless radio operator. There is a picture of her and more details about her life. The author also lists key words and Phrases that the French, Germans and British used. They were helpful in understanding the circumstances better. There is a section about the vehicles used back then. I liked the six discussion questions that the author included in the back. They will help spark lively discussions in your group.

There are six other books in this series. The titles are 2. Homeland’s Hope, 3. Charity’s Code, 4. A Parcel for Prudence, 5. Grace’s Ground War, 6. Flight of Faith, 7. Mission of Mercy. Each of these books delves into the life of a female operative doing her part in fighting the enemy in WWII. If you love history and/or want to share this with your children this is a series for you!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of the book from The Book Club Network   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
Book Fun Magazine
Book Club Network blog


Crazy Little Thing Called Love
By Beth K. Vogt
Published by Howard Books
354 Pages

Back Cover: Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancĂ©. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

REVIEW: I was glued to this story from the first page to the last. I connected with Vanessa and was interested in her destination wedding with Ted; the Dr. she’s been friends with for two years. Ted finally asked her to marry him and wants to have the wedding in Destin Florida. Why? Because it will co-inside with a medical conference he wants to attend. Kill two birds with one stone he says.

Vanessa reminds herself, “Ted was a bit lacking in the relationship category, but she hadn’t fallen in love with Ted because of the way he’d swept her off her feet with flowers and chocolate and hallmark cards…Ted’s patience enabling their friendship to ease into a love that would last through whatever the future held for them.”

Vanessa had romance and passion in her first marriage; now she sought stability, and living in one place. She was raised in a military family and had enough of moving around. She wanted roots and friends. She knew how to say hello and goodbye but hadn’t experienced a long lasting relationship. What was that about? No one in her life stayed there for long. She knew how to pack up and move on. I liked the quote the author had by actor Keanu Reeves – who said, “Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things.”

Logan Hollister had reached his dream of being a storm-chaser and had done well with his career but lost the love of his life in the pursuit. There wasn’t a day that went by he didn’t think about the love he let it slip away. Little did he realize, …Choices you make today will affect you five years from now. Some will affect you for the rest of your life.” Why didn’t he fight harder like his grandparents did for his marriage with Vanessa?

Eighteen was too young to wed but Logan’s grandparents were even younger they were together for 50 years. Logan always quoted his grandfather, “You either get married young-and you grow up together. Or you get married when you’re older – and you still grow up together.”

Logan and Vanessa’s lives surprisingly intersect in Destin Florida; when they both see a boy drowning and jump in to save him. What are the chances of that happening? It had been eight years since they’d laid eyes on each other.

The author says, “It was important to tell the story of Vanessa and Logan’s earlier years – their love story. Readers needed to see their youth, their immaturity, which was so influenced by their lack of communication.” I agree. She weaves the past and the present beautifully.

This story is filled with fun, surprises, mix-ups, and tender moments that will make you laugh, cry and others that will make you hold your breath as Destin residences prepare for a hurricane. The hurricane parts of this novel and the relationship dynamics between Logan and Vanessa, reminded me of the movie Twister with Helen Hunt.  Both Vanessa and Logan are complex believable characters, who have made mistakes and have regrets. Could there be a second chance at love and life for them?

I enjoyed the secondary characters very much, through them the author shows the importance of family and friends. The author says, “Friendships are so, so important to me. And yes when I’m with my friends, it’s all about the conversation, the laughter, the give-and-take between us. If I can make someone laugh, I’m happy.”

All of the author’s books show us that relationships are messy. Friendships and happily ever after are tough. And God gives us hope in the middle of the mess thru his son Jesus. I appreciate how this author skillfully weaves this message into her stories in a natural, non-preachy way.

This would make a GREAT book club pick. This story is rich and easily leads to a lively discuss. The author has provided ten discussion questions and three ways to enhance your book club experience. There is also a short interview at the end, I found very interesting. You’ll want to make sure Crazy Little Thing Called Love makes it on your summer reading list! This story is a keeper!

Disclosure of Material Connection: #AD Sponsored by author.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins  
The Book Club Network Blog   
Book Fun Magazine   


ABOUT AUTHOR: A small-town Michigan girl, Christine Johnson has lived in every corner of the state's Lower Peninsula. After trying her hand at music and art, she returned to her first love—story. She holds degrees in English and library studies and works part-time as a librarian. She feels blessed to write and doubly blessed that two of her manuscripts were finalists for Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award. The crowning thrill came when Steeple Hill accepted her debut novel, Soaring Home, for publication.
When not at the computer keyboard, she loves to hike, kayak and explore God's majestic creation. She participates in her church's healing prayer ministry and has experienced firsthand the power of prayer. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys. Christine would love to hear from readers through her website.

How did you come up with the idea for Love’s Rescue?

Christine: For many years I wanted to write a story with a Key West wrecker as the hero. The idea simmered until I read an online discussion speculating about how to have a pirate hero in a Christian historical romance. Since some considered wreckers (men who salvaged wrecked ships) to be pirates—sometimes for good reason—I leapt at the opportunity to create a story centering on a Christian wrecker. Naturally he would fall in love with the only daughter of the man who opposed him in admiralty court.
Key West Sunset
What authors have inspired you?

Christine: C.S. Lewis, specifically The Chronicles of Narnia, was a huge influence. I must have read that series a dozen times over the years. I longed to write with that degree of clarity while still including multiple layers of meaning. I still do! 

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? Hope in the middle of stress and Life’s storms?

Christine: The Lord, of course. Through time I am learning to lean on Him. Years ago I struggled with anxiety, but as my walk with Him grows deeper, He removes the needless fears when I rely on Him and gives me assurance during life's trials. He is ever faithful and grants peace in the midst of the storm.

Nora: Amen! Amen!

Why write Christian Fiction? What’s the draw for you?

Christine: Confession time! Years ago I fought the call to write "Christian fiction," thinking it wasn't "literary" enough. Yes, my college literature degree got in the way of His calling. What foolishness! At the time I thought I knew best. I figured Christian fiction only reached Christians, and I wanted to reach unbelievers by including the gospel message in mainstream stories. For more than 15 years I wrote and submitted and received rejection after rejection. 

Then I began reading Christian historical romance and realized my preconceptions were completely wrong. My place was not in the secular market. The Lord waited for me to realize He wanted me to write Christian fiction. My first book written for His glory sold. I praise Him that He kept the publishing door closed until I answered his call. His timing is always perfect!

Nora: I loved telling people about Christian Fiction! It's not like it used to be. It's engaging, powerful and moving. Not preach! Love that!

When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why?

Christine: I tend to reach for Christian historicals, whether romance or straight historical. Occasionally I will read Christian women's fiction, especially when I'm writing. I will not read in my specific genre or time period when writing a new book.

The smell and feel of paper still thrill me. I love print books in any format. Though I will read a digital book, I miss the texture of the paper and the ability to constantly look at the cover. Yes, I learned just how much I turn to the cover the first time I read a digital book.

Nora: I like digital when I'm away from home other wise I enjoy print books too!

How much research do you put into your historicals? Did you discover some fascinating tales that made it in your book? Some that didn't?

Since this is the first book set in 1850 Key West, I did a lot of research. The hands-on research was the most fun, seeking out the older buildings, what's left of historic sites and even figuring out which plants and trees would have been native to the island.
Key West Bahama House
For instance, this house was disassembled in the Bahamas and transported to Key West after the 1846 hurricane.
Wild Tamarind Tree
A wild tamarind tree proves crucial in Love's Rescue.

Due to hurricanes, fires and other reasons, many records from that time are missing, which was a great disappointment. The letters, court records and other things I could find were thoroughly fascinating. Key West is filled with history and amazing stories through the years that I wish I could share or incorporate, but they didn't fit with the story. Maybe in a future book…

Nora: I've been to Key West a few times. I agree it's rich in history and amazing stories!

Women dressed very differently in the time period you wrote about, what do you think you’d enjoy wearing? What do you think you’d dislike wearing?

Christine: The gowns, especially the ball gowns, are so gorgeous! I would love to wear one just once. Of course I'm very tall, much taller than anyone in the era, so I'd have to have one made for me, but it would be so much fun--as long as I can go without a corset. In college I worked in a drama library, and my co-worker acted in a period play. She would come in after wearing a corset for hours and lie on top of a wooden table and moan about how much the corset hurt her back. 

Nope. Not getting me in one of those. One of the things that amazes me is how the women could stand to wear all those petticoats and long skirts in a tropical climate with no air conditioning. Count me as one of those who would lie on a chaise longue in the shade with a fan and a glass of lemonade.

Nora: LOL!
Ship I got Married on
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play? 

Christine: I tend to be a helper and an organizer. Expect me to make lists of tasks to accomplish and keep supplies in order. I would also urge prayer and get people together to study the Word. I love Bible study. Of course we would have our Bibles!

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

Christine: Only one time and place? That's painful to a historical author. Naturally I would love to experience as many of the places and times I write about as possible. If I can only go one place, however, I would love to see Jesus and hear Him preach. The Sermon on the Mount would be an amazing experience.

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

Christine: Docent on a museum ship. This was a 1908 passenger ship that also hauled freight on the Great Lakes. Some of the furnishings are very similar to those on the Titanic. That made the movie, Titanic, a bit too realistic. My husband and I were married on that museum ship 28 years ago.

Hotel desk clerk. I did this summers while in college. After graduating with my unmarketable degree in English Language and Literature, I returned to the hotel to work as a bookkeeper. 

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

Christine: I love the chirps of songbirds and the wildness in the cry of high-flying eagles, hawks or osprey. I love to hike and have made many trips to the mountains in Montana. God's creation always inspires awe!

Nora: Beautiful picture. So glad you shared it!
Hiking the Mountains

Thank you, readers, for visiting with me today. I'm so thrilled we had this time together. \
May the Lord bless and keep you. 
With love,

 I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 20th of JUNE at .

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of JUNE at . Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.


Nora :o)

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins 
The Book Club Network Blog  
Book Fun Magazine  

Interview Sponsored by: Revell Publishers


ABOUT AUTHOR: Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of both mysteries and romantic suspense. Her most recent books include: Desperate Measures, the final instalment in her Port Aster Secrets mystery series with Revell Publishing; and Emergency Reunion from Love Inspired Suspense. A mother of three grown children, Sandra lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  

Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at or connect at

How did you come up with the idea for Desperate Measures?

Sandra: Since I proposed the series several years ago, I don’t recall where the initial idea came from, but three chapters in to writing it, I realized that I had way too much story to tell if I also wanted to tie up the overarching mysteries I’d introduced over the course of the series. So I decided to keep that Kate would still try to be solving a mystery involving her assistant, but instead of bringing in more new characters, I tied this one very tightly to Kate’s own quest to unravel the mystery of the plant her father allegedly stole all those years ago. I had a lot of fun bringing Edward (aka Jim Crump from Deadly Devotion) back for the finale, and letting the attraction between Kate and Tom finally develop more fully.

Nora: I didn't read the first book in this series. I didn't feel like I was missing anything except a deeper relationship with your characters! I liked this engaging, suspenseful read!

What was your favorite scene in Desperate Measures? Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest? Why?
Researching the finer art of being a cop

Sandra: Okay, this is going to sound terrible, but writing Desperate Measures drove me bonkers. I had so many balls to keep in the air and loose threads to weave together that I literally wanted to kill the heroine. So I did. Maybe. Although the scene may not be my favorite in the book, the day I wrote it was my favorite writing day. Writing the hero’s reaction to the news was the most fun to write. I know. I know. I’m mean. Mean. Mean.

Nora: LOL!!!

Sandra: The hardest scene to write was the final scene. I’d spent years with these characters and I wanted the series’ ending to be compelling. I hope I succeeded. I was never quite satisfied with that final scene. But after many, many, many edits, I was much happier with it.

Nora: You did it well! You did have so much to conclude at the end. It was powerful like a 007 movie!
Can you tell me of two “Wow” moments you've had in your writing career? What made it a wow for you?
Winning Daphne MdMaurier Award

Sandra: Winning the Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence for Mystery/Suspense was a huge “wow” moment that affirmed that my writing craft and story-telling abilities had reached the publishable level. I wasn’t at the award ceremony, but the category coordinator ever so sweetly called me from the actual ceremony to give me the news. It was loud and the connection was breaking up, so I didn’t clue in until a writing friend emailed to congratulate me, that not only had I won the inspirational category, but I’d won the overall award, too. It was fun to get to celebrate all over again.

Nora: Congrats

Sandra: The second biggest “wow” moment was telling my daughter about my first book contract. It probably sounds odd that the “wow” wasn't the actual call from my agent, but that’s because she didn't call. She emailed. And when I saw that email in my inbox, I thought it was another rejection, since I’d assumed she’d call if it was good news. Needless to say I was over the moon, when I finally got around to opening the email, but it was way more exciting to share the news with my daughter when she got home from her first day of college. She’s an aspiring novelist so she understood just how big a deal this offer was. She squealed and jumped up and down and hugged me, just like a winning Family Feud contestant. It was awesome. I’d homeschooled my kids, so it was extra-special to receive my first book contract on my youngest daughter’s first day of college—my graduation day.

Nora: Very cool!

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? Hope in the middle of stress and Life’s storms? 

Grand-baby fun
Sandra: Number One knowing that the Lord is holding me in the palm of his hand through it all. Number Two my very supportive husband and children. Number Three (and sometimes this is my go-to strategy) playing with my adorable little grandchildren. Their laughter and smiles and hugs are the best antidote to a stressful day. (As long as I can give them back when they start crying ) And of course, when all else fails, or even if it doesn't, there’s always chocolate. J

Nora: I'm with you!

Tom (the leading man in your novel) operates under the assumption that people are rarely what they seem. What problems arise from having this attitude toward everyone with whom you interact?

Sandra: You can’t take anything anyone says at face value. It makes you perpetually suspicious and distrustful of everyone and therefore, unable to count on them, let alone trust them. It also casts your own honesty into question, since if you believe that about others, it stands to reason that it’s likely true about yourself.

Nora: So True!

In your research for this series did you uncover any fascinating things about plants, herbs, and herbal teas that you didn't include in this novel? IF so, can you share you insights?
 My husband discovers poison in Deadly Devotion

Sandra: Researching plants for this novel was a blast. I discovered tons of things. I mention in Blind Trust that Verna Nagy is growing catnip for a hair rinse. I tried this. It’s supposed to make your hair soft and shiny, but I personally didn't like the smell to try it more than once, but in researching it, I discovered that there a number of other herbs that can be used to hide your gray or dye your hair without the harsh chemicals of commercial preparations. I discovered that turmeric is effective at reducing inflammation. I actually started using it myself and have noticed an effect. I discovered that cayenne pepper is a potent remedy for heart trouble. Mistletoe extract will slow a racing heart. My friend used this remedy based on the recommendation of an elderly herbalist, very much like Grandma Brewster in my book, and it worked so well that my friend’s specialist asked what she was using! I discovered lots of interesting poisons, too, but I’ll keep those to myself…you understand.

Nora: I found the herbs and plants aspect of this novel very interesting! Love the picture of your husband's face! LOL!

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?
 Grand Basin in Forest Park, St. Louis, researching my next series
Sandra: I am super excited about my next mystery series with Revell. The heroine, Serena Jones, is an FBI art crime detective working out of the St. Louis headquarters, who frequently travels for undercover operations. Amidst her cases, she’s also on a personal secret mission to find the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She has a fun sense of humor, and a zany aunt who likes to stick her nose into her cases, and an overprotective mother desperate for grandchildren who’d prefer to see her quit and settle down, and a hunky apartment superintendent who shares her love of art and old movies and who willingly takes care of her cat while she’s out of town, and an equally hunky, overprotective FBI partner.

The series opens with Serena in the middle of an undercover operation turned dicey and her thought: I should’ve listened to my mother. I had so much fun creating the characters in these stories, and many are real characters, and of course, creating all the twists and turns in the mystery that my readers have come to expect. A Fool and His Monete, A Serena Jones Mystery book one. releases March 2016.

Nora: Sounds like another exciting ride Sandra!

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

Sandra: The sound of waves lapping on the shore—nothing more relaxing to me, except if we add in the cry of a gull or loon. And the sound of a child’s laughter—to bring a smile to my face. I have a video of my grandson at about 8 months belly laughing at his big sister and whenever I need a boost, I play it.

Nora: GREAT Video!! Wonderful laugh!

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that as a given what part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most? Why?

Sandra: My writing time. More days than not, my writing doesn't seem to flow as quickly and smoothly as I’d like and often requires far more hours than it should to meet my daily goals to stay on deadline. The upside of that dilemma is that it keeps me on my knees, continually reminding me of the source of my inspiration, and compelling me to pray for guidance in writing the story and for future readers.

Nora: Oh, Yeah!

What Three things would you not want to live without? (Besides family that’s a given)

Sandra: Heat! Although readers are reading this interview in June, I answered the questions in February, when the outside temp was -24 and our indoor temp was struggling to stay at 68. It made me VERY much appreciate the little portable heater I bought for my office this winter.
Me with my children (a few years ago) Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens
I’m assuming food and shelter would be givens, too? I consider myself pretty adaptable and not overly attached to things, but if giving up writing weren't an option, I wouldn't want to live without my laptop and gravity chair, unless of course someone would type up what I wrote out longhand as my daughter used to. 

Although…I’d still want the computer for edits. Unless…I could do them on paper and the typist inputs those too! See…I’m adaptable. J

Nora: LOL!

Have you seen a good movie in the last couple of years that grabbed your attention and your heart? Do tell!

Sandra: Oh, you would not believe what a lousy memory I have for movies. My own family doesn't believe it and they live with me. I usually remember a scene or two of a movie and that’s about it. I’m not much of a movie buff, either. We usually watch them on DVD, years after release. Now…my daughter did give me the humorous TV series, Due South, about a Canadian Mountie in Chicago, as a DVD set, this past Christmas. The hero is super-polite, always holding doors open for others, and saying “thank you kindly.” I thoroughly enjoyed watching the series with my family and we were all inspired to think of others first. The hero’s actions certainly equipped my son well for how to treat a date.

Nora: I haven't heard of this movie. I'll have to check it out!

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. I hope you enjoy reading the Port Aster Secrets series as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be sure and stop by my facebook page website at to check out the fun extras I've created such as location pics, deleted scenes, study questions, even a recipe for catnip tea.

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of JUNE at . Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 20th of JUNE at . LAST DAY to enter June 30th.

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.


Nora :o)

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins 
The Book Club Network Blog  
Book Fun Magazine  

Interview Sponsored by: Revell Publishers


ABOUT AUTHOR: Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances for both adults and teens.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she’s not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.
She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.

How did you come up with the idea for Hearts Made Whole?

Jody: One of my goals in writing my Beacons of Hope series is to bring women light keepers to life. As happens with many historical women, they tend to be overshadowed by me and the same is true of women light keepers.

As I researched for writing a lighthouse series, I came across a fantastic book called, Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service. The book is a tribute to the approximately 50 or so women who served either as primary or assistant keepers in Michigan Lighthouses.

I based the heroine in Hearts Made Whole off of one of those women light keepers. It's my hope to bring her and the other keepers out of the historical shadows and into the spotlight.

Nora: I found the story engaging and loved learning about the lighthouse and all it took to keep it running.

What do you hope readers take away from Hearts Made Whole?

Jody: Readers familiar with my books will know that I'm not afraid to tackle really tough issues. And the same is true in Hearts Made Whole. Since the hero is coming home as a Civil War veteran, he's facing some post-traumatic stress as well as debilitating war wounds that leave him addicted to his pain medicine.

At the same time the heroine is struggling to act as both father and mother to her four siblings while holding down a job as light keeper. She has the overwhelming job of trying to take care of everyone and everything while always remaining strong.

Both characters come to a point where they recognize they can't face all of their overwhelming troubles on their own and cry out to God their desperate need for Him. I hope that readers will take away a desire to turn to God in their most desperate needs too and know that He is there waiting to comfort and help them.

Nora: I liked that aspect of the story too. It was great to see how God moved in the lives of strangers working together growing in faith and trying for the common good!

What was your favorite scene in Hearts Made Whole? Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest? Why?

Jody: My favorite scene to write was the shaving scene, where Ryan is attempting to shave himself one-handed (due to his war injury) and doing a terrible job! Caroline offers to help him which ensues in a very romantic scene of her lathering him up and having to spend plenty of time in close proximity.

Eagle Harbor
Jody: The hardest part of the book to write was the scene where Caroline's sister Tessa makes a BIG mistake (I can't mention it otherwise I will spoil the story). But it was a heart-wrenching scene (and difficult to write tastefully and required lots of editing to get it just right).

Nora: Both of these scenes were powerful! You had me there!

What fascinated you about lighthouses? What made you make the setting of your book in and near one?

Jody: I'm fascinated with lighthouses for a number of reasons. First, my state of Michigan is home to the greatest concentration of lights in the United States. In fact, Michigan is noted as the state where the most lighthouses were erected. And now today, more than 120 remain compared to 500 total for the rest of the nation.

Big Sable Point

I've had the wonderful privilege of visiting a number of lighthouses throughout Michigan. There are so many beautiful lights, but here are three I visited last summer: Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, Big Sable Point Lighthouse and North Breakwater Lighthouse. 

Nora: Thanks for providing these pictures and sharing about your research. I love lighthouses and found this interesting.

North Breakwater Lighthouse

In your research for this book you mentioned in your Author Notes about the current condition of the Windmill Point Lighthouse on Lake St. Clair. Anything fascinating that you uncovered in your research that didn’t make it in the book?

Jody: Windmill Point Lighthouse once existed on Lake St. Clair near Detroit. It was a strategic beacon that helped ships cross from Lake Huron over into Lake Erie as those ships transported raw goods from the Northwest states to eastern states and seaports.

The lighthouse is named after the old ruins of a windmill where early frontiersmen brought their grain for grinding. Also, legends attribute the area to being an old battle field of a savage encounter between the early French settlers and Indians. As many as 1000 Foxe Indians were slaughtered on the banks of Lake St. Clair. Later settlers to the area uncovered bones, arrowheads, tomahawks, and other gruesome mementos of the battle.

Today, all traces of the original windmill, lighthouse, and burial grounds are long gone. If you visit Grosse Pointe in the Detroit area, all that remains is a small conical structure with a white flashing light. 

(photo credit for both of these pictures is:

Nora: Fascinating!

You talked about Caroline Litogot Antaya in the author notes to readers. What surprised you in your research about her? What did you most admire about her? How much of her is in this book?

Jody: The heroine of Hearts Made Whole is named Caroline after the real life woman light keeper, Caroline Antaya. It was my hope to bring to life this brave woman who faced discrimination due to her gender.
Part of what really impressed me about Caroline Antaya's situation was that she had been doing a fantastic job as a light keeper. But the district lighthouse inspector trumped up charges against her saying that she was in ill-health and incompetent. He took away her position simply because she was a woman and gave it to a man instead. Fortunately, her community rose to her defense and enlisted the help of a Michigan Senator to help her get her position back and she went on to serve as a light keeper for another three years.

I admired Caroline's will to stand up for herself and to pave the way for women coming after her to use their God-given talents and abilities in roles and jobs that had previously been closed to women.

Nora: I LOVED that aspect of Caroline too! I like reading about women like her!

How did you learn about operating a lighthouse? What training is required to run a lighthouse? Now? Then? Did they have log books and rules that had to be followed? If so, what did they have to document? What kind of rules did they have? Any of them make you laugh?

Jody: In my research, it was interesting to find that the training required of light keepers (especially in the early days of the era) was not very rigorous. I learned that Civil War veterans were often given positions even if they'd had very little previous experience.
Once in a position, the rules and regulations for keepers were often very strict. Keepers were expected to maintain spotlessly clean homes and towers, had to be ready for surprise inspections at any time, and had to maintain rigorous log books with accurate records that documented everything from ship wrecks to oil usage to weather conditions.

One rule that I found especially funny was that women were prohibited from painting the lighthouse tower. Obviously their skirts put them at a disadvantage over men, especially for painting jobs that required them to sit high above the ground. Nevertheless, it was one more area where women were not allowed the same privileges as men. 

Nora: I instantly connected with your characters and their situation. I loved learning about the lighthouse and society at that time too!

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

Jody: When I was in high school I worked at Dairy Queen and I loved getting to taste the "mistakes." It was a nice job perk!

In college I worked as a nurses aid in a nursing home with Alzheimer and dementia patients. It was an incredibly challenging job that makes me appreciate anyone who works in a nursing home. 

Nora: I'm surprised!

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

Jody: My children's laughter and the percolating coffee pot.

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; what as a given what part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most?
My Children
Jody: Training my five children in godly character requires the most diligence and hard work at this season of my life. As my children mature and reach high school and college age, I'm in constant prayer that God would help them make wise choices in a world that strives to undermine their faith and godliness.

Nora: You have a lovely family!

Have you seen any movies and/or read any books lately that captured your attention and grabbed your heart?

Jody: I've been re-reading Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire series set during the Civil War. Of course, I love all of Lynn's books, but I'm always moved when I read "firsthand" accounts of the Civil War and am reminded what a devastating war it was on so many levels.

Nora: Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of JUNE at . and ends June 30th.

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 20th of JUNE at .

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.


Nora :o)

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins 
The Book Club Network Blog  
Book Fun Magazine  

Interview Sponsored by: Bethany House Publishers