Friday, August 5, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Crusader's Path by Mary Ann Bernal


From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.

Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.

Will Etienne be true to his word if Avielle is cleansed of the contagion, or will he risk eternal damnation to be with the woman he loves?

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Ribbon lightning flashed across the darkened sky as Duke Robert and Etienne reached the outer castle walls. Crackling thunder shook the ground beneath them as they dismounted near the stables. The grayish clouds burst open, sending a deluge of water upon the earth. Strong winds whipped the rain, stinging the face as the men fled inside, pulling their mounts behind them. The animals neighed, standing on their hind legs, threatening to trample anyone in their way.

“All is well, hush,” Etienne said, trying to calm the horse, rubbing its face and neck with his hand.

Duke Robert managed to get his stallion into its stall and proceeded to inspect the length of the barn, comforting the animals.

“I think it best to stay here until the storm passes,” Etienne said.

Sitting on a bale of hay, Etienne leaned against the wall. Looking at the loft, he remembered a stormy night when he and Isabella took shelter on a warm summer’s day. He recalled her laughter, her wet hair sticking to her face, her eyes sparkling when he touched her cheek. Invigorated by the smell of freshly cut hay, they tumbled in the straw, satisfying their desire numerous times until the rain stopped.

You need to go home, Etienne thought.

“Has there been word of Henry?” Duke Robert said, sitting across from his favored friend. “But I have interrupted your thoughts.”

“I was just wondering how long the storm will last. As for your brother’s whereabouts, the spies have not returned. He cannot be far.”

“Have you given His Holiness’s call for an Army of God much thought?  I dare say I am intrigued. My soul is in need of saving, but the peasants would revolt if I taxed them to pay for such a lengthy campaign.”

“He did say full remission of our sins,” Etienne said. “I am tempted, but my sword is yours, Your Grace.”

“Ah, that is good to hear, because, my friend, I am inclined to join the campaign. It would free me from this useless fighting. And William Rufus would probably lend me the money, or I could ask Henry. Upon our return, they would not dare to rise up against me, lest they be excommunicated.”

“If that is your wish, so be it. I would visit Argences before we leave. Isabella can rule in my absence, as she has done in the past, until we are safely home.”


Mary Ann Bernal

Award-winning author, Mary Ann Bernal, attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her recent work includes Crusader’s Path, a redemption story set against the backdrop of the First Crusade, and Forgiving Nero, a novel of Ancient Rome.

Since Operation Desert Storm, Mary Ann has been a passionate supporter of the United States military, having been involved with letter-writing campaigns and other support programs. She appeared on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS television affiliate in Omaha, and was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her volunteer work. She has been a featured author on various reader blogs and promotional sites.

Mary Ann currently resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: On Bur Oak Ridge (Sheltering Trees: Book Three) by Jenny Knipfer

The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intriguedto the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith. ReadersFavorite five-star review


In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsonsfarm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face.

Samuel Woodson, the Nelsonshired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuelseeing past Mollys scarsdraws her out of her self-protective shell.

Molly and Samuel form a friendship, but just as their hearts lead them deeper, an unexpected guest comes calling, demanding whats his.

Will Molly and Samuel find a way to be together or will they be separated, due to impediments beyond their control? Can they trust in Gods plan and travel a path that heals the hurts of the past? 

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, and Christian historical romance will delight in this beautifully wrought story of the healing power of love.

A heartwarming story of healing from external and internal scars. Through some of lifes harder lessons the characters learn to trust, forgive, and find second chances out of the ashes of pain and loss.

Anne Perreault, author of eighteen inspirational novels, including the Yellowstone series

Trigger Warnings:

Grief, trauma from burns, accidental death, time in an insane asylum

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 ¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´



Mabel appears out of nowhere, a huge smile on her face. Samuel! Just the person we need.” She wipes her hands on her ever-present apron. You have a guest, a visitor.”

She waits expectantly.

Wh-who?” I stutter out.

I cant imagine who could have come calling for me. No one I know from home knows where I am. At least, I dont think they do. Sitting on the bench, I yank my boots off and peel off my coat.

Mabels eyes twinkle in the lamplight as she leans against the door jam. Youll never guess.”

I shake my head and shrug, waiting for her to tell me.

Your mother. Isnt that nice? I bet youve missed each other. And theres nothing like being with family for the holidays. Thanksgiving will be upon us before we know it.”

Her words fade as one thought fills my mind: Mother is here. Its been months, but Im not ready to talk to her yet and definitely not ready to forgive her, or myself for that matter.

Samuel?” Mabel places a light hand on my shoulder. I thought youd be pleased.”

Her lovely features wrinkle.

I shake my head, slow and purposeful. Didnt Linc tell you?”

She lowers her voice and one brow. Tell me what?” 

Swallowing, I say, Of our...difficulties.” I dont want to reveal too much.

She places one hand over her heart and pats the back of her head with the other. Of course, he mentioned your fathers death and your grief, but…”

We catch each others gaze in the seconds of uncomfortable silence between us.

My mothers head appears around the corner of the doorframe to the kitchen. Samuel?

Shes changed. Her once prim but happy smile and flashing, gray eyes only reflect the pain of burying one husband right after another.

I sit up straight and clear my throat, grubbing out, Mother. I didnt expect to see you.”

Forcing myself to look into her eyes, I hold steady. Out the corner of my vision, Mabel slips back into the kitchen without a sound.

Mom sighs. I gather you didnt.” She dabs at her nose with the hankie she's pulled out of her lace-edged, black sleeve and sniffs loudly. She has always known how to cook up a thick amount of theatrics. How could you go off and leave me all alone? I just dont understand it.”

Mother keeps her eyes cast down in martyr mode, playing her usual victim card.

Anger brings me to my feet and my voice rises in volume before I can tamp it down. How on Gods green earth would you expect me to stay?” A stream of ire bursts forth After giving the farm away to that money-grubbin...” I slap my hand on my thigh and step closer to her until her face is inches from mine and spit out my accusations. And to see you preening to him like a peahen before Pa was even cold in the ground.”

She looks up then, eyes hard and icy.

Shush your mouth!” she whispers fiercely and glances toward the kitchen, where I vaguely hear Mabel loudly clinking dishes. You should know me better than to think I, in any way, acted improper with Alfred. Wed been friends for many years, and he comforted me and supported me when your father took his turn.”

Grabbing at her black, lace collar, Mother looks up at me. Her small, thin, drawn face gives me a prick in the ribs.

She is my mother, after all.

Her skinny index finger presses against a shirt button on my chest. And you with your pointing finger. I might point mine right back at you.”

The old guilt rears its head again. I swallow, my ears buzz, and a weariness at the same repeated battle with Mother knocks at my brain.

I brush her finger away and turn. Mabels getting supper on the table. Lincoln should come in any time.”

We still stand in the entryway, awkward and opposed, and I have no desire to keep bickering with Mother in front of Linc and Mabel, much less Molly. I wonder where she is.

Her mouth relaxes and her eyes soften. Yes, well. I missed you, Samuel. A mother wants to see her son.”

How did you find me?”

Paul Richardson saw you at a dance and mentioned that he had.”

That old schoolmate of mine. Leave it to Paul, gossip itself and worse than an old lady at a quilting bee. Ah. Well, I didnt see him.”

No. He mentioned that your eyes were fixed…elsewhere.”

Great. Thats all I need: suspicions about a supposed romance.

Lincoln steps into the house, his gaze down until he sees us. Supper on yet?” He removes his crusty barn cap and nods at Mother. Excuse me, Mrs. Woodson...ah, that is, Mrs. Skaggs now; Sam has informed me.” He grins and extends his hand, then thinks better of it and wipes it on his side. Its been some time since I saw you last. Im sorry for your loss.”

Mother nods her head and offers the briefest of smiles.

Thank you. Youre looking well, Lincoln.”

Mabel appears around the corner. She looks to Lincoln.

There you are.”

Its getting much too tight of quarters for me, and I wedge past Mabel. We should make our way in and let Lincoln have room to get his barn things off.”

I motion with my hand toward the kitchen to Mother. Yes, of course,” Mother says, stepping by Mabel as well.

I point out the dining room and head to the washroom. Her voice comes from behind me. Samuel.”

I stop but dont turn. Yes.

I...” Her voice cracks. I dont know how to fix whats broken between us.”

The breath I didnt know I held fizzles out of me.

Ya, me either,” I admit, and I go to wash the last remains of barn smell from my hands and arms and pray for Gods mercy for the rest of the evening.

Jenny Knipfer

Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

All of Jennys books have earned five-star reviews from ReadersFavorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jennys favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.

She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.

Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesotas Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons and a three-part fantasy series entitled: Retold Fairy Tales.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Book Spotlight: The Du Lac Chronicles (Book 1 of The Du Lac Chronicles) by Mary Anne Yarde


A generation after Arthur Pendragon ruled, Briton lies fragmented into warring kingdoms and principalities.

Eighteen-year-old Alden du Lac ruled the tiny kingdom of Cerniw. Now he half-hangs from a wooden pole, his back lashed into a mass of bloody welts exposed to the cold of a cruel winter night. He’s to be executed come daybreak—should he survive that long.

When Alden notices the shadowy figure approaching, he assumes death has come to end his pain. Instead, the daughter of his enemy, Cerdic of Wessex, frees and hides him, her motives unclear.

Annis has loved Alden since his ill-fated marriage to her Saxon cousin—a marriage that ended in blood and guilt—and she would give anything to protect him. Annis’s rescue of Alden traps them between a brutal Saxon king and Alden’s remaining allies. Meanwhile, unknown forces are carefully manipulating the ruins of Arthur’s legacy.

Trigger warnings:

Torture, Warfare

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Mary Anne Yarde


Mary Anne Yarde is a multi-award-winning and bestselling author of Historical Fiction, as well as an award-winning blogger. She studied History at Cardiff University and went on to study Equine Science at Warwickshire College.

Mary Anne is a passionate advocate for quality Historical Fiction and founded The Coffee Pot Book Club in 2015 and became a professional Editorial Reviewer in 2016.

Mary Anne's award-winning series, The Du Lac Chronicles, is set a generation after the fall of King Arthur. The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical facts, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

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