Blog Tour: The Kissing Tree

THE KISSING TREE
Four Novellas Rooted in Timeless Love

by KAREN WITEMEYER, REGINA JENNINGS, 

AMANDA DYKES, and NICOLE DEESE
 
Genre: Christian / Romance / Anthology
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: October 13, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
 

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In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak’s bark.

Regina Jennings: “Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts

When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer: “Inn for a Surprise

Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise.

Amanda Dykes: “From Roots to Sky

WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they’ve shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese: “Heartwood

Abby Brookshire’s world is turned upside down when the historic tree she’s strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she’s been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

“Broken Limbs” by Regina Jennings

Set in the mid-1800s Bella thought her love life would go differently as she planned her future with a guy she thought would give her happiness. She set up everything perfectly to make her move but what she did not prepare for was his countermove. It all happened under a big Oak tree, the beginning and the end of her journey to find love. After the initial debacle under the Oak tree she decided to move on from the embarrassment and try teaching. However, when Adam, a piece of her past, returns a few years later to the farm to pitch her father an offer, the embarrassment from the encounter under the Oak tree resurfaces. Can she put aside the pain from her past to truly dive into something new and push past her fear?

The author does a wonderful job of developing the main character Bella as a strong female lead. She explores the fear of rejection in relationships and in her career. We see Bella navigate through healing from her past and allow the same thing that hurt her, eventually bring her comfort. Such a sweet romance story that showcases the importance of pushing past fear and not allowing it to stop you from moving forward.

Inn for a Surprise” by Karen Witemeyer

Phoebe wanted to create an Inn that would highlight the town’s famous Kissing Tree. The tree was coined with the phrase after the story of Adam and Bella found love under the tree. With the help of her father’s business associate she can truly turn the Inn into something romantic and profitable. Barnabas was only sent by his business associate to the Inn to ensure it turned a profit since the Inn owner was his daughter. He wasn’t prepared to learn the remarkable history of the Kissing Tree and the importance it carried in the life of the Inn owner. Can he put aside his hard demeanor to welcome someone in?

This tale is a continuation in some sort of the previous book that focuses on the beginning of the old oak tree and the significance it holds in the town. The author focuses not only on the emotional connection the town and Phoebe has with the tree but the challenges that arise when someone challenges your vision. The main character is described a strong willed female lead who knows exactly what she wants but who is still healing from the pain of losing a parent. The tree symbolizes so much more than love but a strong connection. The author does a wonderful job capturing the attention of the reader from start to finish.

 From Roots to Sky” by Amanda Dykes

Luke sought out the small town of Oak Springs, Texas in search of a girl named Hannah. However, Hannah had no idea he was there in search of her. The remarkable tale of the Kissing Tree continues as Hannah and Luke grow to get to know each other. They are both reeling from the pain from their past and set on healing. Luke is able to help Hannah in the construction of her late brother’s cottage as they work through the grieving process together. Can Hannah and Luke move forward from their respective pasts to an unpredictable future.

I enjoyed how Luke was welcomed into the town and drawn to the area. I also liked how the author continued on with creating a strong female lead in this novella. Hannah isn’t a seamstress but she is able to use her math skills and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Each female lead in these tales are willing to step outside the social norms of their time to truly follow their heart. This is an inspiration to readers to not be limited by the societal norms placed on women but emphasizes you can be strong and be a romantic. It was a pleasure to watch the love story of these two unfold as they work to navigate their new future together.

Heartwood” by Nicole Deese

In this last tale of “The Kissing Tree” we see the fight to save the beloved tree from removal as the Inn changed owner hands. Abby must confront a person from her past she shut out of her life in order to save the tree. The real question is, is it the tree they are trying to save or something deeper. The tree has been an integral part of the town as a historical landmark. Griffin was hired to help stop the tree from being cut down but he wasn’t prepared for the reunion with Abby. After the loss of her father she changed and stayed in the same town she grew up in. Will they find their way back to each other and save the tree?

The ending to this collection of novella’s was one to remember as we see the final book bring the story of the Kissing Tree to an end. The author does a wonderful job tying in all aspects of the previous books into this one as the stories travel through timelines to come to an end. This final book reminds us of the attachments we have with items and the healing that comes from letting the items go. I have a scarf from my late mother and I lost it once. The fear that I had that day was so overwhelming I could not sleep. I kept thinking, this is the only thing I have to remind me of her. Truly the memories exist in your mind, not in the items we carry. The author allows us to watch the love story of the two main characters reignite as they heal from past wounds together and forgive. This was a great ending to a wonderful collection.

Overall Review of the full collection

Overall each tale in this book of novellas flowed nicely together. You can tell the author’s took time working with each other to ensure the story continued on from novella to novella. It all started with the kissing tree and a planned embarrassing encounter that led to the development of four uniquely told love stories that all enhance on the importance of pushing past fear and pain to truly open your heart to accept love. In each book the authors touch on grief, forgiveness, love, and family ties. The Kissing Tree carried memories, healing, and love as the entire town reaped the benefits of the significance that lied in the bark of the old Oak Tree. As we watch each story unfold you get to embark on a journey of a tree through different decades and watch the characters grow as the tree grows. I highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in four Texas based stories told in the mid to late 1800s. This book is suited for anyone who is interested. It does not contain lewd language or derogatory content. It is a fun, simple, engaging, short read.


Voted
#1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction
Magazine
, bestselling author  Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines,
and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.

 
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma
Baptist University, with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the
winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist, and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at
the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along
with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She
lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.
 
Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She’s a former English teacher and the author of Whose Waves These Are, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, as well as three novellas.

Nicole Deese’s eight humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels include the 2017 Carol Award-winning A Season to Love. Her 2018 release, A New Shade of Summer, was a finalist in the RITA Awards, Carol Awards, and INSPY Awards. Both of these books are from her bestselling Love in Lenox series. When she’s not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.

 

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Six Winners!
Grand Prize: Print copy of The Kissing Tree plus a custom 18″ x 3.5″ wooden sign
Five Winners: Print Copy of The Kissing Tree
October 20-30, 2020
(U.S. Only)

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Blog Tour: The Key to Everything

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING
by
Valerie Fraser LuesseContemporary Christian Romance

Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352

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Based on a true story, Valerie Fraser Luesse’s new novel takes readers on an incredible journey of self-discovery. The poignant prose, enchanting characters, and captivating settings in The Key to Everything make this a moving story that readers won’t soon forget. Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon, and distancing himself from his son. When a tragic accident separates Peyton from his parents, and the girl of his dreams seems out of reach, he struggles to cope with a young life upended.

Pushed to his limit, Peyton makes a daring decision: he will retrace a slice of the journey his father took at fifteen by riding his bicycle all the way from St. Augustine to Key West, Florida. Part loving tribute, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will unlock more than he ever could have imagined, including the key to his distant father, a calling that will shape the rest of his life, and the realization that he’s willing to risk absolutely everything for the girl he loves.

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and Almost Home, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave. 
 

Website║ Facebook  ║ Blog


 

Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book  from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

The story begins with Peyton at yet another family event with the Cabot’s. His father, Marshall, had returned from the war some time ago and was dealing with his own demons from his past. A twist of events leads this semi-normal family into a world of new adventures and past discoveries. As Marshall recovers from an accident, Kate must work to keep his family at arm’s length as fights for his life. The life Payton once knew no longer exists as he works to grasp a hold of who his Father was. After learning of his father’s adventurous bike ride, Payton decides to take the same ride in an attempt to truly understand the father he felt like he never knew. We journey through the rest of this novel with Payton as he discovers who he really is, who his father was, and what love truly means. Will Payton find what he is looking for on his journey or will he die trying?

This is the first book I have read by this author and she has done an amazing job. I have always been interested in books writing based on different time periods. This novel is written based in the year 1947 after the completion of World War II. In the beginning of the book we see Payton described as a young boy who is in love with a new girl in town. However due to the events with his father he decides to break it off with her as he moves to another state state to be with his family as they work to heal. The author dives a bit into he healing process that a family goes through after the loss of a loved one and Payton learning to forgive his father for his alcoholism after returning from the war. Payton simply wants to understand the actions of his father and understand who he was before he went to war. On his long bike journey we see him develop friendships, get glimpse into his father’s past, discover his identity, and building lasting family in different places. He grows up fast after his father’s death and is able to not only take care of himself but those around him. All while he is working on his self discovery, his mother is at home working on grieving from a major loss. She seeks comfort in the Cabot family member and says goodbye to the life she built with her late husband. She learns to grieve in her own way by not only learning to set her husband free but also Payton. There is more to this story but you will have to read it to truly discover the love that exists not only between Marshall and Kate but between Payton and Lisa. Throughout this story you will find yourself not only captivated by the true love that exists but the courage and strength of Payton and his mother.

The author does a wonderful job unpacking multiple themes and plot twists as you continue throughout the novel. You both laugh, cry, gasp, and applaud while you read the stories of each character. Payton’s character is developed so eloquently that you feel as if you have been transported into the story with him as you ride the bike alongside him. Lisa’s character, although not seen as highly focal point character until later in the story, is well written and I enjoyed the bit of family drama that surrounded her character. Each character is developed in a way that provides depth and detail that can only be described as something straight out of a movie. Did I cry while reading this book? Yes. I didn’t cry because it was super emotional. I cried because of the beautiful scene the author created. The father’s passing was described as nothing but an act of God and the mother’s raw emotions when she prayed truly shows the great lengths of a mother’s love. It is often a challenge for to capture the true essence of grieving that is associated with living with a parent who has a destructive addiction that leaves the entire family feeling abandoned and left to pick up the pieces. I loved how the author showcases positive moments in a tumultuous journey. Each journey we take is a bit different but it is nice to read a book that allows you to connect a bit more with the characters and truly see parts of your life represented. This is such a great ode to Father’s and the families they leave behind.

 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a captivating christian fiction novel based on a true story. This book is appropriate for adults and young adults.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


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One Winner: Copy of The Key to Everything, Necklace, $25 B&N Gift Card; 
Two Winners: Copy of The Key to Everything + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

June16-26, 2020

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