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“I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.”- Psalm 138:2

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Life Redeemed ~ Olivia Rae

 

This is book 2 of the Secrets of the Queens Series, a Christian Historical read that takes place during the medieval times. Audrey is summons by the Queen to go to Scotland and be a spy for her, if she doesn't her family will be harmed.  Audrey  goes where she meets Gavin and his son, they befriend each other and team up together.  When Audrey finds out what she needs, how does she handle the truth?  How do Audrey and Gavin keep friends when they are not sure to trust each other?

If you like reading historical and about the Queen era then you will enjoy this one.  It will take you back into time and has many twist and turns right until the very end.  It is book 2 but can be read as a stand alone and not missing anything.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising About the Book

 About the Book

 Book:  A Life Redeemed

Author: Olivia Rae

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: June 16, 2021

Everyone has a secret, who can a queen trust?

Upon Queen Elizabeth’s order, Audrey Hayes travels to the borderlands of Scotland to learn where the fierce Laird Armstrong’s loyalties lie. Is he aligned with his mother’s English roots in support of the queen, or does he hold with the beliefs of his father, who wishes to see Mary of Scots on the English throne? The fate of Audrey’s family rests on her success in finding the answer.

After losing his lands in a wager and being betrayed by his kin, Gavin Armstrong entered a loveless marriage to obtain the funds to buy back his family home, Warring Tower. Now a widower, struggling against countless border wars, he is on the verge of losing his home and lands again. With few resources, he reluctantly makes another risky wager, one he cannot hope to win without trusting the secretive Audrey Hayes, a woman he suspects is an English spy.

As the two work together to save Warring Tower, their attraction to one another grows. But when Audrey finally gains the information she seeks for Queen Elizabeth, she realizes that the only way she can save her family is to betray the man she loves.

 Click here to get your copy!

 About the Author

Olivia Rae is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary inspirational romance. She spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town on the edge of a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.  

Olivia is the winner of the Angel Award, Book Buyers Best Award, Golden Quill Award, New England Readers’ Choice Award, Southern Magic Contest, and the American Fiction Award. She is an Illumination Award Gold and Bronze medalist. She has also been a finalist in many other contests such as the National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the National Romance Fiction Awards. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.

 More from Olivia

My novel, A Life Redeemed takes place in 16th Century England and Scotland. A very popular dish at the time was the meat pie. Back then making such a dish took a lot of time. My Grandmother made a similar dish with modern day ingredients that you can whip together in no time. Cheesy meat pie is a real family pleaser and a delicious bit of history.

 Medieval Cheesy Meat Pie

 1 pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 – 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
¼ cup parsley
1 – 3oz. can chopped mushrooms (drained)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 packages (8 rolls) crescent rolls
3 eggs
Shredded cheese (mixed cheddar and mozzarella)

 In skillet, brown beef, onion (drain). Stir in tomato sauce, parsley, mushrooms, pepper and oregano, then set aside. Unroll one package of crescent rolls, forming 12×6 inch rectangle. Seal edges and perforations together.  Roll to fit in 9-inch pie plate, trim. Separate one egg and set aside the yoke. Beat egg white with remaining two eggs. Spread over half the dough. Spoon meat into shell, arranging cheese on top. Pour remaining egg mixture over cheese. Roll out second package of crescent rolls, sealing on top of pie. Beat remaining egg yoke and a tablespoon of water, brush on top of dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. If pastry gets too brown, cover with foil. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize packaged of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

CLICK HERE

Saving Ebenezer ~ S. Daniel Smith

 

This book is a Christian Historical Fiction that picks up where Charles Dickens, Scrooge story ends.  When Ebenezer has questions about all the changes he has done in his life, is it all worth it?  It is now seven years later since he helped the Cratchit family and things are difficult again.  Ebenezer is questioning why God has put all these trials in his life?  What good does having faith do, when all you still have heartaches and devastation in your life?

This book is a good book to read for the upcoming Christmas season BUT, it is not only for this time of the year, it is a book to read anytime of the year.  This is a short read, but a very big message..... find out when the story continues of just what happened to Scrooge and Tiny Tim, it just might surprise you.......

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising About the Book

About the Book

Book: Saving Ebenezer

Author: S. Daniel Smith

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: October 12, 2021

Much had changed in seven years. Scrooge had given all to rid himself of the guilt and shame of his miserly ways. Nearly saved Tiny Tim, too, who was only slightly bigger at his death than Christmas Eve seven years prior. Scrooge had the best doctors working on the boy’s condition, all of them happy to have Scrooge pay for this treatment or that, but never quite figuring out exactly what was wrong. Still, Tim had started the pathway of a bright future.

Until pneumonia struck. In a fortnight, Tim had gone from spry and hopeful to weak and discouraged. And then dead.

As Ebenezer Scrooge watched the simple casket lowered into the near-frozen muck on December 20th, 1850, there could be no mistaking the fact that a piece of him was being buried as well.

And that was why Ebenezer Scrooge was angry.

The old Scrooge was back. Joy had given away to sorrow in the meanest of ways, for it sprung upon the old man with such ferocity that he had no defense. Powerless, and angry, that was Ebenezer Scrooge, all right. Joy had given way quickly to pain and sorrow, the likes of which Ebenezer Scrooge had never experienced before.

Ebenezer Scrooge, heartbroken and frustrated, begins to ask questions about faith. Much like the original story, he is given a guide to help him find the answers. As he struggles to understand death, sorrow, and poverty in terms of faith, he finds one answer to all his questions: Jesus Christ. The book ends with Ebenezer finding faith, health, and love.

 Click here to get your copy!

 About the Author

Dan Smith is a Christian, a husband, a father, a career US Navy sailor, and freelance writer living in Virginia Beach, VA with his wife and three children. His publishing history goes back 21 years, when he was first published in the magazine Pentecostal Messenger.

Dan specializes in writing about life in the military, especially as it affects Christians in service. He has also tackled the issue of cystic fibrosis, the autism spectrum, and a host of other topics.

 More from Dan

“I have always loved the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. From the original novella to The Muppets, I’ve been fascinated by the story. Only one thing was truly missing, and that was the real hope Christians find in Jesus Christ. In that way, Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge is my offering to my Lord. I did my best to retain the style and language of the original, as well as to stay true to the original story and characters, while offering a glimpse at the hope we have in Jesus.

The biggest reason I wrote the book is to show the need for Christ. I do my best to keep from being preachy, and I believe you’ll find the book entertaining with a point. I can’t wait to hear what you think!”

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, S. Daniel is the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

To celebrate his tour, Bradley is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

CLICK HERE

Penelope’s Pursuit ~ Chautona Havig

 

This book is part of the Westward series (book 19), a Christian Historical Romance read.  When Penelope has lost all her family, she comes to terms to find the only one she has left, a sister.  Her sister left home a mail order bride many, many years ago. Now Penelope is determined to find her sister and finds that things are not what they seemed.  Thinking her sister has been happy and life is good, can things be so different?  Will Penelope find her sister and find happiness at the same time?  Why did her sister never contact the family all these years.

If you like the series, then you will love this book as it has many twist and turns.  It is a surprising story that I didn't see coming.  This is book 19 in the series, but can be read as a stand alone.  All the books in the series can be read as stand alones.  Like a good read that makes you want to read till the end?  Then read this one.... 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.

About the Book

Book:  Penelope’s Pursuit

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 29, 2021

 Are mail-order-brides changing their minds or is something sinister going on in Kansas?

Ten years ago, Penelope’s sister ran away as a mail-order bride, and it was the last their family ever heard from her.  Now, with their parents dead and Penelope all alone, the young woman has one goal. Find her sister.

It took enough grit for Henry to write to Miss Mildred Crenshaw about finding him a wife in the first place, but when the stage arrives and no bride steps off, the whole thing feels like a confidence scheme. Investigation, however, sends chills down his spine as he realizes women are leaving the east for the west but many never arrive at their destinations.

Is it any wonder that Penelope doesn’t trust the man who abducts her from the clutches of her new friends and rides off into the sunset? Is his explanation reasonable?  Can she convince him to help her find her sister?

And is she about to fall in love with a homesteader on the untamed prairies of Kansas?

 Click here to get your copy!

 About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 More from Chautona

Mail Order Brides: Do We Romanticize the Past?

Although I recall reading about mail-order brides in school… somewhere… Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall was my first introduction to the idea of advertising for or requesting the services of a matchmaker to find a wife. The book and the subsequent movie showed the difficulties of such a marriage and left us all with a satisfactory ending.

Some years later, while doing a bit of research, I discovered another side of the coin—a horrifying picture of what happened to some gullible young women and the unscrupulous people who used such matchmaking schemes as a means for human trafficking. It sickened me, as it should anyone.

All my ideas for mail order bride novels ended up as wadded up balls of mental paper and in the wastepaper basket of my mind. A few years passed, and I came up with a twist on mail order brides, one that will see the light of day if I ever have time to write it. A few more years passed, and a series of books featuring a matchmaking service for mail-order brides and the Homestead Act resurrected those ideas. I smoothed a couple out, reconsidered, and decided against writing them.

I’d have to miss the opportunity to join the series.

My mind never does follow orders well. Within minutes of that decision, I had a story. What would happen if there was some funny business going on with girls going west? How could I combine a satisfactory ending where two people came to a meeting of the minds and hearts in the midst of fighting something that ugly?

Penelope’s Pursuit was born.

Is my story idealized? Probably. I’ll be frank with you. I’m okay with that, too. See, sometimes all we need is a reminder that mankind is sinful and in need of a Savior before the story turns into how things should have been. After all, fiction mirrors reality, but it is also an escape.

I hope Penelope’s escape to the west and her pursuit of her sister encourages you to turn to the Lord for every decision, in every trouble, and with every praise possible in between.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! 

CLICK HERE

The Healing of Natalie Curtis ~ Jane Kirkpatrick

 This book takes place 1902 is a Native American Historical read.  When Natalie finds herself moving to the West to live with her brother, she never imagined what she would be up against when she gets there.  With her experience in music, she is determined to help the Native Americans save their heritage music and dancing.  She is on a mission, can she be stopped?  Will Natalie keep her faith and be able to stand strong?

If you like to read a book about history and courage then this is the book to read.  This book takes you back into history and keeps you interested in the fate of the people during that time.  It is a true story and very interesting to realize what people went through during that time in history.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising About the Book

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Heart’s Forever Home ~ Lena Nelson Dooley

 

This is book 3 of the Love's Road Home Series, a Christian Historical Romance book. When Traesa's grandmother pass away, Traesa never expected to find out that her adoption was never finalized. Her family turns her out on the streets with nothing.  Wilson is an attorney that is determined to help her, in a way neither of them expected.  Can they make what happened in the past right for Traesa and bring her back to the family?  What can Wilson do when the past and present have so much baggage?  Will Wilson and Traesa find a future of happiness?

If you like reading historical books with a light romance, suspense then you will enjoy this one from start to finish.  It is a page turner that keeps you wondering what is going to happen to everyone in this story.  Prepare yourself time when you start reading to be reading for awhile as you can't stop until you know what happens.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising About the Book

 About the Book

Book: A Heart’s Forever Home

Author: Lena Nelson Dooley

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: August 17, 2021

 A single lawyer whose clients think he needs a wife.

A woman who needs a forever home…or a forever family…or a forever love.

Although Traesa Killdare is a grown woman now, the discovery that her adoption wasn’t finalized sends her reeling. Especially when her beloved grandmother dies and the only siblings she’s ever known exile her from the family property without a penny to her name.

Wilson Pollard works hard for the best interest of his law clients, even those who think a marriage would make him more “suitable” in his career. And when the beloved granddaughter of a recently deceased client comes to him for help, he knows he must do whatever necessary to make her situation better.

As each of their circumstances worsen, a marriage of convenience seems the only answer for both. Traesa can’t help but fall for her new husband—the man who’s given her both his home and his name. But what will it take for Wilson to realize he loves her? Will a not-so-natural disaster open his eyes and heart?

 Click here to get your copy!

 About the Author

Lena Nelson Dooley has been an author for 36 years. Her 51st book released in June 2020. Raised in Arkansas, she married a Texan 56 years ago. They have lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for decades. She is an active member of ACFW and one of the founding members the DFW local chapter. She’s often been a speaker for other writers’ groups and conferences, both as a keynote speaker and a workshop teacher. Her fans love reading her books filled with characters who grip your heart.

 More from Lena

I’ve been a lover of history for decades. In college and graduate school, all my elective courses were history. Of course, I chose the countries and eras I wanted to learn about. When I began writing novels, my first one was a contemporary story. After that at least 75% or more of my novels have been historical, all the way from 1805 through the early 20th century.

One of the hallmarks of my historical novels is the authenticity I write into the stories. Because of the amount of research I’ve done over the years, I’m kind of an expert in 19th century history. My characters and their stories are completely fictional, but the other things in the book are mostly true. I search until I find what I need to know or until I reach a complete dead end.

The history of the orphan trains has interested me since I first learned about them. One of them ended in Fort Worth where a pastor and his wife helped find the last orphans a home. A few didn’t get a home, so they took them in. In the 20th century that became an orphanage, then a home for unwed mothers.

A Heart’s Forever Home has three settings—Fort Worth, Texas; Waco, Texas; and New York City. It’s a Marriage of Convenience story and much more. This is another type of story I like to read and I like to write. Finding a different reason for the necessity of the marriage is interesting.

I’d found an event that occurred north of Waco in 1896. It was so bizarre I wanted to include it in a book. It was a perfect fit for this story and became an important catalyst in the story.

I’m what’s called in the industry a seat-of-the-pants author, more or less. I do have the complete outline of the story in my head. When I sit down to write, I know where I’m going, but I don’t have every single scene plotted out as some authors do. And I pray… a lot. During the time I’m writing a book, God drops ideas into my thought processes. Not just while I’m writing, but other times, too. That’s the exciting thing about writing. This keeps it fresh for me.

When you’ve finished reading this story, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it. I really like getting reader feedback.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Lena is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

CLICK HERE

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Petticoat Spy ~ Elva Cobb Martin

 

This is book 3 of the Charleston Bride Series, Christian Historical Light Romance read.  Anna Grace is running from the British and is saved by John.  While she has just learned of her family being killed, she is determined to find out the killers and get revenge.  John has a different idea, he wants her to be safe and wants to take her where she will be safe, but she will have nothing to do with that idea.  Can John save her from being caught from the British?  Will Anna find out who killed her family?  Will they both be able to survive the British attacks?  Where does this lead them both?

If you like to read about history and light romance you will enjoy this book.  It is book 3 of the series, but can be read as a stand alone.  This is a good read that has drama and suspense and spies to keep you reading and not stopping until the end of the book.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising About the Book

 About the Book

Book: The Petticoat Spy

Author: Elva Cobb Martin

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: October 5, 2021

A Charles Town belle and a blockade runner ignite fireworks in more ways than one during the American Revolution.

To Anna Grace Laurens, the war is like a distant bad dream until her family’s Charles Town plantation is burned and her parents murdered by those loyal to the king. She flees on horseback and leaps into the Cooper River to escape her pursuers.

As John Cooper Vargas sails his sloop down the river, he spots a woman diving into the water. After firing on the Tory raiders chasing her, he rescues her and offers to take her with his parents to an island hideaway for the duration of the war. But she has other plans, including revenge for her parents’ deaths. She insists he drop her off in Charles Town, even with the British planning a massive attack by land and sea to retake the city, the Pearl of the South.

John employs his sailing skills for the patriots, risking capture and death, but he enjoys his skirmishes with the British navy blockade to bring goods from the islands to aid the cause. But when Charles Town falls to the British, he docks his ship in a secret cove and joins Francis Marion’s militia. This decision lands him wounded on a harbor prison ship where more men die than on the battlefield.

Anna Grace braves the deprivations, first of a city barricaded against the British, and then one surrendered and ruled by fists of iron under the English flag and injustice. Can she find a way to rescue John before it’s too late?

As both American and English armies gather near Yorktown, Virginia, for a pivotal battle, can John and Anna’s love for each other and their faith in God preserve them and help forge a new nation?

Click here to get your copy!

 About the Author

Elva Cobb Martin is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in South Carolina with her husband and a mini-dachshund. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. Her love of writing grew out of a desire to share exciting stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. Connect with her on her web site at http://www.elvamartin.com.

 More from Elva

I loved researching and writing this historical novel in a day when our nation’s true history is being threatened by political change agents. My faith in our godly heritage and the courage and faith of so many true Americans was confirmed as never before. Who can ever discount the wisdom, bravery, and escapades of Francis Marion, Andrew Pickens, and Thomas Sumter that helped save South Carolina after the British retook Charleston? Who can doubt the prayers and courage of George Washington and the Continental Army, and the many brave patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice, or who suffered privation and loss of property but who never gave up the dream of a free nation? We are the land of the free because of the brave.

In honor of the brave patriots, I placed quotes from leaders in this period at the head of each chapter. Here’s the quote I chose to introduce the book:

The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in the course of the war that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith. –George Washington, August 20, 1778.

Many interesting tidbits I found in my research surprised me. Francis Marion was dubbed the Swamp Fox by his British pursuers who could never catch him. His battle tactics gave him the distinction of being the father of modern guerilla warfare and the inspiration for Mel Gibson’s character in The Patriot. Also, Marion did not drink alcoholic beverages. The drink he prescribed for himself and required of anyone who joined his militia was the old Roman drink of water mixed with a little vinegar. Today we know this as a fortifying concoction, and it probably prevented scurvy and was a natural antibiotic for the militia.

Another surprising tidbit I learned was about George Washington. Barely into his second term as president (1793) the popular French Ambassador Genet stirred up a furor with a lot of the colonists. He wanted to force Washington to join France in their renewed war against England. Having just won our independence, the president refused to lead our fledgling nation back into war. Ten thousand people gathered in the streets of Philadelphia, the nation’s then capital, day after day, and threatened to drag Washington out of his house, raucously demanding that America take up France’s struggle for liberty as France had done for America. The peace and unity of the new nation seemed to be hanging by a thread.

Just when it seemed like the new nation would fall over the precipice into anarchy, America was ultimately saved, according to the later retired Vice President Adams, by an outbreak of Yellow Fever in the capital city. “The coolest and firmest minds,” he told Jefferson, “have given their opinions to me, that nothing but Yellow Fever…could have saved the United States from a total Revolution of government.”

The exploding epidemic sent those who could afford to, fleeing the city, and those who couldn’t, locked themselves up inside their homes.

I discovered this incident of heated colonial protest during the recent rioting and destruction of property that rocked our American cities in the summer and fall of 2020. It actually gave me hope for our nation. It seems there have always been hotheads in every generation who rise up against the rule of law and order. However, America and our wonderful Constitution have been preserved, and we give God the praise, and pray for His continued help.

The Petticoat Spy is, above all, Anna Grace Laurens and John Cooper Vargas’ love story. It’s also the story of the patriot dream and victory over an undefeated British military while also dealing with serious supply shortages and conspiring neighbors who hated the dreamers.

It is my prayer that both threads will inspire hope and encouragement to all my readers.

Elva Cobb Martin

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Elva is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

CLICK HERE

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady ~ Sharon J. Mondragon

 This book is a Christian Contemporary read.  It is about a Knitting Prayer group of ladies that meet in the church pews and knit prayer shawls.  When the pastor has decided that the church needs to repainted they are asked to go outside of the church and continue their prayer / knitting meetings in the public eye.  This doesn't go well with some of the group.  They encounter all sorts of people and stories of what God is doing in the lives of other.  They become witnesses and don't even know it.  The pastor has them continue with the meetings outside as a form of them growing in their own relationships to God and to let them see how they are touching each others lives.  

This is a great book of how you can make a difference to someone else and not even know it.  God is just not in the church, HE is everywhere.  This is one of those books you don't want to put down and you don't want to end.  I would give this book as a gift to anyone that reads.   Would make a great Hallmark movie.  LOVE THIS BOOK!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions 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 Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising About the Book


An Interview with Sharon Mondragón,

Author of The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady


A person wearing a scarf

Description automatically generated with low confidenceIt’s easy to fall into a routine that’s easy and comfortable because it’s what has always been done. But sometimes we need to get pushed out of our comfort zones in order to do the work God really calls us to do. That’s what happens to the members of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry in Sharon J. Mondragón’s debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (Kregel Publications). 


Q: Tell us a little bit about your new book, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady.

The four knitters of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry are stuck—in a comfortable mold of ministry, a stagnant church, and at the points of pain they each have in their own life. All this changes when their pastor kicks them out of the comfortable, quiet prayer chapel to take their ministry out into the world. They end up knitting way out of their comfort zone at the local mall during the Christmas shopping season where anything can happen. 

Q: Introduce us to the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry. Who are the members and what is the mission of the ministry?

The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry has met from 9:30-11:30 every Wednesday morning for the past seven years to knit prayer shawls. They knit in the peace and quiet of the Prayer Chapel of Hope of Glory Community Church, praying silently. Margaret is the self-appointed leader of the group (she tends to take charge of whatever she’s involved in). Jane, a mother of teens, gives Rose a ride from Fair Meadows Retirement Community every week. Fran is a recent widow learning to knit as she begins to emerge from the fog of grief.

The purpose of their ministry is to make shawls to comfort and encourage people who are ill, bereaved or otherwise going through a difficult time. They pray as they knit to infuse the shawls with a sense of the presence of God. The shawls are a tangible expression of God’s love and care—a hug from God.

Q: The prayer shawl knitters have been meeting in the church’s prayer chapel, but their routine gets turned upside down. What happened?

Their pastor, Father Pete, has been tasked with either reviving Hope of Glory or shutting it down. If he were a betting man, the bishop would put his money on closing the church. Father Pete, however, isn’t someone who gives up easily. He’s tried all the usual ways of stirring things up—sprucing up the church, expanding the children’s ministry, small groups, to no avail. 

At a recent clergy conference, however, Father Pete gets a brainwave. The bishop tells the pastors in attendance that people are not coming to church anymore, therefore, they need to take church to the people. Father Pete decides that a great way to do this would be to send Hope of Glory (in the form of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) out to the people who aren’t coming to church. After all, what is as inviting and cozy as a group of knitters? He tells them that for the next month, while work is being done in the prayer chapel, they must meet in public.

Q: What starts to happen as the ladies start knitting in the middle of the mall?

People notice them. It starts with a college student, Sarah, who tells the knitters they remind her of her grandmother who makes afghans. After Rose explains prayer shawls to her, Sarah asks the group to pray about her upcoming test. Word gets out, and soon the knitters are fielding prayer requests from all over the mall—from a tire salesman up for promotion and retail workers barely making ends meet to the assistant manager at the bookstore who is worried about her gravely-ill boss. 

The Heavenly Hugs also attract a few young women who want to learn to knit. Rose is delighted to pass on this skill, but the knitting lessons upset Margaret. Not only are they not getting much praying done when people stop by to talk to them, but teaching knitting has never been part of their ministry. She’s convinced the ministry is falling apart, even though some of the people they’ve talked with at the mall start showing up at church.

Q: What happens once a prayer shawl is finished? How is it decided who gets a shawl?

When one of the Heavenly Hugs ladies finishes a shawl, Margaret attaches a tag with the words “Made for you with love and prayer by the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry” on one side and “You are not alone,” followed by the church’s contact information on the other. Then the shawl is delivered to the church, where Father Pete and the congregation pray over it the following Sunday. The shawl is then stored in the church office to be given out to those who request one for someone they know and care about who is having a rough time. On occasion, Father Pete or Lucille, the church administrator, give them to someone who has come for counseling or support. 

Q: Why is Margaret so focused on an arbitrary set of rules that it keeps her from seeing the positives of knitting at the mall?

For one thing, Margaret is used to being in charge. She doesn’t like being told what to do. She invokes those arbitrary rules in order to maintain the status quo. She likes having the prayer shawl ministry in the neat little box of the Prayer Chapel, where nothing unexpected happens and no-one challenges her authority.

She is also using those rules much like the Pharisees used theirs—to keep God at arm’s length. It looks like she’s ministering on the outside, but she’s using those rules to keep from engaging with God. Meeting at the mall changes the way the group ministers. It makes them aware of “the wants and needs” of a group of people they hadn’t thought about before. Being out among the people they’re praying for forces awareness of these needs and shakes them out of complacency. While Rose, Fran, and Jane come to embrace this, Margaret continues to be uncomfortable with the changes and unpredictability. She’d rather keep the people and their problems at arm’s length, too, especially as they begin to inch her toward facing a long-buried hurt. 

Q: After a couple of months, why is it so difficult for Margaret to admit Father Pete may have been right in kicking the knitters out of the prayer chapel? Why does she always have to be in control?

Margaret is something of a matriarch at Hope of Glory, the church “Dragon Lady.” She’s seen pastors come and pastors go, but she has maintained her firm grip on “the way we’ve always done things.” It’s a matter of pride for her to always be right. Having opposed Father Pete, she can’t swallow her pride and admit that he was right.

This issue of control is something I’ve thought about a great deal. There are a number of bossy women in my life. Not being bossy myself, I’ve been perplexed about how these women can feel so comfortable telling others what to do and always getting their own way. Margaret’s character began as an attempt to understand bossy women. I hoped that by getting inside her head and heart, seeing things through her eyes, I might gain insight into the inner workings of my own bossy women.

What I’ve discovered is that not all bossy women have the same motivations. For some it’s about power, the flexing of “muscles” to be able to make others do things. Others believe they have the best ideas, so naturally, others should do as they say. For women like Margaret, there’s an element of pride. They want everything they do to come out in a way that reflects well on them, regardless of much steamrolling they must do to achieve it. 

For Margaret, however, it goes even deeper. She is trying to fend something off by controlling as much as she can. Realizing this was an epiphany for me. I realized that I, too, had struggled with the issue of trying to protect myself vs. trusting God with my future and my heart. I found that my bossy character and I had common ground after all.

Q: What happens that finally starts to turn Margaret’s heart around?

Through one of the prayer requests at the mall, Margaret comes face-to-face with a situation which hits uncannily close to home, a situation from which she has been running for over two decades. This trauma has been at the bottom of her steely and desperate need to control. She is finally moved toward change and healing when she decides to try to save someone else from the regrets that have haunted her for over twenty-five years.

Q: Can you share what the other members of the group are struggling with in their lives?

Rose Harker is eighty-five, widowed, and has relished her independence. She enjoyed her involvement at church, her friendships with the families in her neighborhood, and driving herself whenever she wanted to go somewhere—until she mowed down her daughter’s mailbox while she was backing out of the driveway, that is. Her bossy daughter thinks the best place for Rose is Fair Meadows Retirement Community, so that’s where she’s living now. That doesn’t mean she has to like it, though. At the beginning of the story, Rose is not adjusting well to life at Fair Meadows, shunning new friendships and wishing she could go back to living on her own.

Jane Crenshaw is the harried mother of three contentious teenagers—a nineteen-year-old son, Kenny, and two daughters, Anna and Emily, who are fifteen and thirteen. Jane thought that once troublemaker Kenny was out of the house, things would settle down, but the girls are still intensely quarrelsome with each other and with Jane. Kenny’s behavior has hurt Jane deeply, to the point that she is estranged from him. Rose reminds her that she needs to forgive him, but Jane can’t see how that will ever be possible.

Fran McMillan is beginning to emerge from the shock of sudden bereavement. One minute she was planning a cruise to celebrate her husband Ed’s retirement from a busy, demanding career (he would have time for her at last!), and the next she was planning his funeral after a heart attack. At the beginning of the story, we meet a timid woman who is just coming out of not only the shadow of grief, but the shadow of her husband. She’s learning to knit and has started to venture out into the world again beyond just going to church. Knitting at the mall is out of her comfort zone, but she braves it anyway. Who knows what’s in store for her?

Q: You are involved in actual prayer shawl ministry, aren’t you? Can you tell us more about it?

I made my first prayer shawl in 2008. It was for myself, akin to how flight attendants tell us to put the oxygen masks on ourselves before helping others with theirs. In 2009, I joined my first prayer shawl group. I was, once again, the new girl at church, due to a military move (my husband had been assigned to Fort Gordon, located just outside Augusta, Georgia). I joined the prayer shawl group in hopes of making some friends. It turned out to be so much more!

The Hands of Comfort Prayer Shawl Ministry did not meet at The Church of the Holy Comforter, but in the café of a local health food store. The pastor wanted us to ply our needles in public, not hidden away in the church building. People often stopped by our table to ask what we were making or to tell us about someone they loved who also knitted or crocheted. We were a warm and comforting presence in that space every week.

At first, I thought of prayer shawl making as something nice to do for hurting people, but I soon discovered that God wanted something deeper from me. Most of the shawls I made went into the supply at church. They were an act of faith, as I never knew who would receive them or exactly why the shawls were needed. Then I started to experience what I call “The Nudge,” that urge to make a shawl for a particular person. This involved a great deal of listening as I searched for the right yarn and pattern for each shawl. I began to pay attention to the situations that prompted the nudge and caught a glimpse of how much God cares about fractured relationships, unspeakable sorrow, and weariness of soul. Prayer shawl making has become a way to draw closer to the heart of God, to see people and situations through His eyes.

At the end of my husband’s military career in 2014, we moved to Texas to be closer to family (especially our marvelous grandchildren). I’ve since become the facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at our church. Those who are able meet on Friday afternoons at a local coffee shop. We are not only friends and knitting (and crochet) buddies, but prayer partners, lifting up and encouraging one another.

Q: Do you have a new writing project in the works?

Yes, I do. I’m working on another prayer shawl novel. This story takes place at the retirement community where my character Rose lives. Sam Talbot is barely existing since his wife went into Memory Care at Fair Meadows Retirement Community. Life has lost all color and meaning—until he gets tangled up with flirtatious Jenny Alderman, crotchety crocheter Edna Booth, and the rest of the prayer shawl group Rose is heading up at Fair Meadows. The Woolgatherers make prayer shawls for the caretakers of folks with dementia, but they soon find out that God has much more in mind for each of them. Jenny, Edna, and Sam come face to face with uncomfortable truths about themselves and are challenged to embrace new ways of living and relating to God and others. It’s a story of love and loss, the pain of loneliness, and the power of community.

I’m excited about this book because I feel it’s important to reach out and support those who love and care for people with memory issues. We tend not to want to think about this situation because the thought of developing memory problems ourselves is frightening. It’s deeply distressing to watch someone’s memory and function fade. Caretakers, however, need our love, concern, and support, even if it’s simply a listening ear and a hug from someone who can recognize them. In this book, I hope readers will gain a sense of God’s heart for caretakers and follow Him in loving and caring for them. The care of both memory patients and their caretakers is truly a place where courage and kindness meet. 


Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at www.sharonjMondragón.com and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).