Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray Blog Tour and Excerpt

Novel Reaction is excited to showcase Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray and provide an excerpt for our readers.

Her Secret

by Shelley Shepard Gray

on Tour April 17 – 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Book Details:

Genre: Amish Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 006246910X (ISBN13: 9780062469106)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 2

Someone was coming. After reeling in his line, Isaac Troyer set his pole on the bank next to Spot, his Australian shepherd, and turned in the direction of the noise.

He wasn’t worried about encountering a stranger as much as curious to know who would walk through the woods while managing to disturb every tree branch, twig, and bird in their midst. A silent tracker, this person was not.

Beside him, Spot, named for the spot of black fur ringing his eye, pricked his ears and tilted his head to one side as he, too, listened and watched for their guest to appear.

When they heard a muffled umph, followed by the crack of a branch, Isaac began to grow amused. Their visitor didn’t seem to be faring so well.

He wasn’t surprised. That path was rarely used and notoriously overrun with hollyhocks, poison oak, and ivy. For some reason, wild rosebushes also ran rampant there. Though walking on the old path made for a pretty journey, it also was a somewhat dangerous one, too. Those bushes had a lot of thorns. Most everyone he knew chose to walk on the road instead.

He was just wondering if, perhaps, he should brave the thorns and the possibility of rashes to offer his help—when a woman popped out.

The new girl. Hannah Hilty.

Obviously thinking she was completely alone, she stepped out of the shade of the bushes and lifted her face into the sun. She mumbled to herself as she pulled a black sweater off her light-blue short-sleeved dress. Then she turned her right arm this way and that, frowning at what looked like a sizable scrape on it.

He’d been introduced to her at church the first weekend her family had come. His first impression of her had been that she was a pretty thing, with dark-brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. She was fairly tall and willowy, too, and had been blessed with creamy-looking pale skin. But for all of that, she’d looked incredibly wary.

Thinking she was simply shy, he’d tried to be friendly, everyone in his family had. But instead of looking happy to meet him or his siblings, she’d merely stared at him the way a doe might stare at an oncoming car—with a bit of weariness and a great dose of fear.

He left her alone after that.

Every once in a while he’d see her. At church, or at the market with her mother. She always acted kind of odd. She was mostly silent, sometimes hardly even talking to her parents or siblings. Often, when he’d see her family in town shopping, she usually wasn’t with them. When she was, he’d see her following her parents. With them, yet separate. Silently watching her surroundings like she feared she was about to step off a cliff.

So, by his estimation, she was a strange girl. Weird.

And her actions just now? They seemed even odder. Feeling kind of sorry for her, he got to his feet. “Hey!” he called out.

Obviously startled, Hannah turned to him with a jerk, then froze.

Her unusual hazel eyes appeared dilated. She looked scared to death. Rethinking the step forward he’d been about to do, he stayed where he was. Maybe she wasn’t right in the mind? Maybe she was lost and needed help.

Feeling a little worried about her, he held up a hand. “Hey, Hannah. Are you okay?”

But instead of answering him, or even smiling back like a normal person would, she simply stared.

He tried again. “I’m Isaac Troyer.” When no look of recognition flickered in her eyes, he added, “I’m your neighbor. We met at church, soon after you moved in. Remember?”

She clenched her fists but otherwise seemed to be trying hard to regain some self-control. After another second, color bloomed in her cheeks. “I’m Hannah Hilty.”

“Yeah. I know.” Obviously, he’d known it. Hadn’t she heard him say her name? He smiled at her, hoping she’d see the humor in their conversation. It was awfully intense for two neighbors having to reacquaint themselves.
By his reckoning, anyway.

She still didn’t smile back. Actually, she didn’t do much of anything at all, besides gaze kind of blankly at him.

Belatedly, he started wondering if something had happened to her on her walk. “Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt or something?”

Her hand clenched into a fist. “Why do you ask?”

Everything he wanted to say sounded mean and rude. “You just, uh, seem out of breath.” And she was white as a sheet, looked like she’d just seen a monster, and could hardly speak.

Giving her an out, he said, “Are you lost?”

“Nee.”

He was starting to lose patience with her. All he’d wanted to do was sit on the bank with Spot and fish for an hour or two, not enter into some strange conversation with his neighbor girl.

“Okay, then. Well, I was just fishing, so I’m going to go back and do that.”

Just before he turned away, she took a deep breath. Then she spoke. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making any sense.”

“You’re making sense.” Kind of. “But that said, you don’t got anything to be sorry for. It’s obvious you, too, were looking for a couple of minutes to be by yourself.”

“No, that ain’t it.” After taking another deep breath, she said, “Seeing you took me by surprise. That’s all.”
Isaac wasn’t enough of a jerk to not be aware that seeing a strange man, when you thought you were alone, might be scary to a timid girl like her.

“You took me by surprise, too. I never see anyone out here.”

Some of the muscles in her face and neck relaxed. After another second, she seemed to come to a decision and stepped closer to him. “Is that your dog?”

“Jah. His name is Spot, on account of the circle around his eye.”

“He looks to be a real fine hund.” She smiled.

And what a smile it was. Sweet, lighting up her eyes. Feeling a bit taken by surprise, too, he said, “He’s an Australian shepherd and real nice. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure.” She smiled again, this time displaying pretty white teeth.

“Spot, come here, boy.”

With a stretch and a groan, Spot stood up, stretched again, then sauntered over. When he got to Isaac’s side, he paused. Isaac ran a hand along his back, then clicked his tongue, a sign for Spot to simply be a dog.

Spot walked right over and rubbed his nose along one of Hannah’s hands.

She giggled softly. “Hello, Spot. Aren’t you a handsome hund?” After she let Spot sniff her hand, she ran it along his soft fur. Spot, as could be expected, closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention.

“Look at that,” Hannah said. “He likes to be petted.”

“He’s friendly.”

“Do you go fishing here much?” she asked hesitantly.

“Not as much as I’d like to. I’m pretty busy. Usually, I’m helping my father on the farm or working in my uncle’s woodworking shop.” Because she seemed interested, he admitted, “I don’t get to sit around and just enjoy the day all that much.”

“And here I came and ruined your peace and quiet.”

“I didn’t say that. You’re fine.”

She didn’t look as if she believed him. Actually, she looked even more agitated. Taking a step backward, she said, “I should probably let you get back to your fishing, then.”

“I don’t care about that. I’d rather talk to you.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh?”

“Jah. I mean, we’re neighbors and all.” When she still looked doubtful, he said, “Besides, everyone is curious about you.”

“I don’t know why. I’m just an Amish girl.”

He thought she was anything but that. “Come on,” he chided. “You know what I’m talking about.”

Looking even more unsure, she shook her head.

“First off, I’ve hardly even seen you around town, only on Sundays when we have church. And even then you never stray from your parents’ side. That’s kind of odd.”

“I’m still getting used to being here in Kentucky,” she said quickly.

“What is there to get used to?” he joked. “We’re just a small community in the middle of cave country.”

To his surprise, she stepped back. “I guess getting used to my new home is taking me a while. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Aware that he’d hurt her feelings, he realized that he should have really watched his tone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just saying that the way you’ve been acting has everyone curious. That’s why people are calling you ‘The Recluse.’ ”

“ ‘The Recluse’?”

“Well, jah. I mean you truly are an Amish woman of mystery,” he said, hoping she’d tease him right back like his older sister would have done.

She did not.

Actually, she looked like she was about to cry, and it was his doing.

When was he ever going to learn to read people better? Actually, he should knock some sense into himself. He’d been a real jerk. “Sorry. I didn’t intend to sound so callous.”

“Well, you certainly did.”

“Ah, you are right. It was a bad joke.”

“I better go.”

Staring at her more closely, he noticed that those pretty hazel eyes of hers looked kind of shimmery, like a whole mess of tears was about to fall. Now he felt worse than bad.“Hey, are you going to be okay getting home? I could walk you back, if you’d like.”

“Danke, nee.”

Reaching out, he grasped Spot by his collar. “I don’t mind at all. It will give us a chance to—”

She cut him off. “I do not want or need your help.” She was staring at him like he was scary. Like he was the type of guy who would do her harm.

That bothered him.

“Look, I already apologized. You don’t need to look at me like I’m going to attack you or something. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor.”

She flinched before visibly collecting herself. “I understand. But like I said, I don’t want your help. I will be fine.”

When he noticed that Spot was also sensing her distress, he tried again even though he knew he should just let her go. “I was done fishing anyway. All I have to do is grab my pole. Then Spot and I could walk with you.”

“What else do I have to say for you to listen to me?” she fairly cried out. “Isaac, I do not want you to walk me anywhere.” She turned and darted away, sliding back into the brush. No doubt about to get covered in more scratches and poison ivy.

Well, she’d finally said his name, and it certainly did sound sweet on her lips.

Too bad she was now certain to avoid him for the rest of her life. He really hoped his mother was never going to hear about how awful he’d just been. She’d be so disappointed.

He was disappointed in himself, and was usually a lot more patient with people. He liked that about himself, too. And this girl? Well, she needed someone, too. But she seemed even afraid of her shadow.

***

Excerpt from Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

Shelley Shepard Gray

 

Author Bio:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

 

Catch Up With Ms. Gray On:
Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !

How To Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks Review

In How To Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks, Luciana leaves everything she has ever known to marry a man feared throughout the land but, in the process, save the life of the father she never knew. Enacting the charade that she must is much harder than Luciana anticipated, and not only must she navigate a social structure she has no experience with, she must decide if she can trust the man that everyone fears, her betrothed.

Lord Leo, the infamous Beast of Benwick, has accepted the lonely existence that his power over lightning has caused him until he meets Luciana and he starts to yearn for more. As the danger around the two of them escalates, will Leo be able to save the woman who has brought light into his dark life, and, more importantly, can he save her from his devastating touch?

I will admit, by the end of Kerrelyn’s Love at Stake series, I had kinda lost interest. Don’t get me wrong, I devored the beginning of the series and they are high on my list of favorites to reread but I just wasn’t that into the last few books. BUT (and this is a big but) I flew through How to Tame A Beast in Seven Days, I love the world that Sparks’ has created. The friends/blood sisters who were raised together not knowing who they are but setting off to save their world one fantastic (presumably) book at a time are intriguing and just the right mix of strength and weakness . Now realize that I enjoy reading fantasy novels (David Eddings and Terry Pratchett anyone?!) so its not too surprising that I would enjoy a good fantasy romance novel. However, Sparks has done a fabulous job world building, the character development is believable and intriguing, and I literally finished How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days and immediately went looking to see when the next novel will be released (August 2017) because I can’t wait to read it. I highly recommend How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days whether you have read fantasy novels before or not.

You can read an except here.

The Embraced Reading Order:

How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days

So I Married a Sorcerer (August 2017)

Rating:

Content: favicon5 NB

Title: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days

Author: Kerrelyn Sparks

Format: Paperback, eBook

Page Nos.: 415

AISN: B01KFWX5CC

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Available for purchase: Amazon

Reviewer: Jessica

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.

12 Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber and an Act of Kindness Challenge

Novel Reaction is excited to take part in sharing the kindness that is one of the great things about Christmas and to celebrate the release of Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber, one of my favorite authors. In the spirit of the main character, Julia, Novel Reaction has been asked to share an act of kindness and I thought I would share a little bit about two organizations that have come to touch my heart and that I help when I can.

Currently there are over 60 million refugees in the world, the largest in the history of mankind. These are individuals and families who have left everything they know: homes, jobs, friends, and family in the hopes that they can live a safer and happier life somewhere else. It is easy to see the stories on the news of the events taking place in Europe and think, as safe Americans, that it is too far away from where I am physically located and I don’t have a lot of extra income so what I have won’t make that much of a difference. But I have found two great organizations that are making a difference in people’s lives and that I can help when I do have a little bit extra.

The first is Liftng Hands International, they are a non-profit that has recently started taking care of a refugee camp in Greece. One of the things I really like about Lifting Hands, is besides being able to donate cash (which they use to supplement the military rations provided to the residents of the camp by the Greek military by purchasing fresh fruits and veggies for them), they also have a wish list on Amazon where I can go and pick out what I want/can afford to purchase that is needed by the camp and Lifting Hands ships it to the camp. I really like knowing exactly how I am helping the residents. Recently, the residents were asking for tea pots to make their daily tea in, such a simple comfort but they were having to make the tea in old baby formula cans, so I was able to donate $10.00 to buy a family a tea pot. I know it wasn’t much but hopefully it brought a little comfort to a family that is missing it. While Lifting Hands International has a website, more current information can be found on their facebook page.

The second organization is The Welcome to America Project, when refugees are given clearance to relocate to the U.S. they are provided an apartment for a set period of time and basic necessities. And by basic necessities I mean a bed and that’s about it. The Welcome to America Project gathers gently used furniture and other basic necessities so that families who have arrived with literally what will fit in the airplane luggage can have such luxuries as kitchen tables and chairs, couches to sit on, microwaves, and cleaning supplies. The Welcome to American Project accepts donations of money, furniture, or you can donate your time to help deliver furniture to a recently arrived family.

While it can seem that big problems exist in the world and there isn’t much that an individual can do to make a difference, there are simple acts of kindness that we can do that can make all the difference in someone else’s life. I want to challenge all of you readers to look around and find a simple act of kindness that we can do for someone else.

________________________________________________________________

Christmas_tree_sxc_huFriendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.

I have to admit I am posting this without having finished the novel, which is not like me. But this pregnant momma who spends her days chasing after a three year old in the triple digits of the Phoenix heat is struggling to stay up and finish Twelve Days of Christmas, although I really wanted to and have been enjoying the antics and interactions between Julie and Cain. The premise of the novel is cute and so great in the keeping of the true Christmas spirit and I love that Julia keeps trying despite who the first few acts of kindness don’t go over so well with Cain. If you are looking for a read to help you start to get into the Christmas spirit, Twelve Days of Christmas is for you.

You can read an excerpt here.

 

12-days-of-christmasRating: Star 4copy

Content: favicon5 NB

Title: Twelve Days of Christmas

Author: Debbie Macomber

Format: Hardbound, eBook

Page Nos.: 288

ISBN: 978-0553391732

Publisher: Ballantine Mass Market Original

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Available for purchase: Amazon

Reviewer: Jessica

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.

The Art of Taming a Rake by Nicole Jordan #Review

victorian dueling pistolVenetia Stratham will do anything to save her sister from going down the path she once trod, engaging herself to a man who is unfaithful, even if it means Venetia must threaten her sister’s suitor at gun point. In The Art of Taming a Rake by Nicole Jordan, Venetia hunts down Quinn Wild, Earl of Traherne, at a gentleman’s club to convince him to give up his pursuit of her sister, interrupting Quinn’s own hunting but Quinn can’t let Venetia’s reputation suffer anymore at his hands so he agrees to meet with her to discuss the matter later. When their later meeting results in an attempt by someone else to shoot Quinn, Venetia is accused of the crime even though she didn’t do it and the rumor’s start to spread that she was the culprit.

Quinn Wild knows that Venetia isn’t serious when she points the gun at him but Quinn can’t let her good name be smeared and so offers the only solution, to wed him. But as difficult as it was to convince the headstrong, witty Venetia to wed him, it will take all the skill he has developed as a rake to love him. As if that wasn’t hard enough, Quinn must keep the both of them alive and track down whoever it is that is trying to kill him.

Nicole Jordan’s The Art of Taming a Rake is a great mix of adventure, mystery and romance. I really felt for Venetia’s character in standing by her beliefs, even at the cost of her family and her place in society.   The Art of Taming a Rake is the fourth book in the Legendary Lovers series but is a stand alone novel (at the time of writing this I have not read any other books in this series).  The Art of Taming a Rake is a good, quick historical mystery that I enjoyed.

 

You can read an excerpt here.

Legendary Lovers Reading Order:

Princess Charming

Lover Be Mine

Secrets of Seduction

The Art of Taming a Rake

My Fair Lover (release date TBA)

the art of taming a rakeRating: Star 4copy

Content: favicon5 NB

Title: The Art of Taming a Rake

Author: Nichole Jordan

Format: Paperback, eBook

Page Nos.: 416

ISBN: 978-0-553-39255-5

Publisher: Ballantine Mass Market Original

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Available for purchase: Amazon

Reviewer: Jessica

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.