Book Review – The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus begins with an interesting and lively group of older women who are competing to have the first great-grandchild. Two best friends, Perty and Sassy, decide to be matchmakers and bring their two grandchildren, Caylor and Dylan, together.

Caylor is an at attractive thirty-four year-old English professor who writes Christian romance novels. She lives with her grandmother, Sassy, not because she has to, but because she wants to help take care of her. Caylor loves her spunky grandmother and is content with the arrangement, believing that romance for her will remain within the stories she creates.

Dylan is a twenty-eight year-old artist who was fired from his teaching job at a college because of a betrayal by his ex-girlfriend. Because he has nowhere else to go, he returns to his home town. Dylan moves into an apartment above the garage at his grandparents’ home and gets a temporary teaching job at Caylor’s school. The two are naturally thrown together, and his grandmother, Perty, couldn’t be happier.

The two professors are attracted to each other, but they’re each hiding something they're ashamed to admit. If Caylor reveals that she’s discovered Dylan’s secret, she’ll have to reveal one of her own….

This story has many wonderful elements: romance, art, music, humor, conflict, quirky characters, and great friendships. The family dynamics encompass both the good and the bad. Who wouldn’t love Sassy and Perty? They adore their grandchildren, but they also hold them accountable. We get to see the relationships between siblings, as well as between children and parents. Parents whose expectations sometimes don’t fall within the perimeters of unconditional love.

The Art of Romance is a story with flawed characters so likeable you wish they could be your friends. If you want romance, you couldn’t have a more satisfying ending.

It's also a story about actions having consequences—and learning from the past so the same mistakes aren't made over and over again. If that can be done, there's hope for a better and brighter future.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with a bit of humor, you’ll enjoy The Art of Romance.

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

The World Ends!

The latest prediction is that the world will end on Saturday, May 21, 2011. Today is … hmmm … Friday, May 20, 2011. The world comes to an end TOMORROW, people!!!

Right now people around the globe are emotionally, intellectually, and physically invested in believing this prediction. Why? Out of anticipation—curiosity—fear?

The world’s end has been predicted before—more than once. I’ll give you just a few examples. Televangelist Pat Robertson predicted Judgment Day would come in 1982. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church predicted the world would end by 1891, and a group that became the Seventh-Day Adventists predicted the end by 1843.

This time, it’s coming from Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer from Oakland, California. He believes he knows when the world will end because of numerological calculations based on what he’s read in the Bible. Camping just happens to have a ministry with the capability to broadcast around the world—and he’s done just that. The prediction has been publicized in almost every country.

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV)

I recently read “End of the world? How about a party instead?” written by Tom Breen from the Associated Press. According to the article, there’s been unrest involving thousands of people in Vietnam who believe Camping. His prediction has been spread by using radio, satellite TV, daily website updates, billboards, subway ads, and RV caravans hitting dozens of cities and missionaries scattered from Latin America to Asia.Billboards have gone up in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

One report stated that Camping has amassed $120 million in donations from followers. So … if the world is ending … why does he need so much money? Is he using all of it to help get the word out in time?
Others insist that the world will come to an end as we know it on December 12, 2012. There’s even an official website for believers. There you can find a long list of articles that explain why this date is THEE date. The site showcases a long list of celebrities who “supposedly” agree with this prediction. You can get your 2012 survival guide—as well as your 2012 T-shirts through this site.
Some of the 2012 followers feel that instead of the second coming of Christ or the ultimate destruction of the world, the year 2012 may be more about internal transformation rather than external change.
Out of curiosity, I skimmed through some of the articles on that site. It all sounds kind of complicated to me.

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  (Matthew 24:44 NIV)

What do I believe?
I believe that we should live each day as best we can—being productive, giving, and loving—appreciating the people in our lives. I believe in trying to live each day—as much as I can—as though it were my last, even though there are days when I still get bogged down with feeling I need to check things off my “to-do” list.
I believe that Christ will come when God, the Father, decides it’s time. That may mean after my time on earth, ten years from now, next week—or even before I finish typing my next word.
Whenever that time comes, I’m ready….
Are you?

Small Acts of Kindness

Small acts of kindness—gestures that brighten the day and lift the load. Have you observed any lately? Have you been the giver or receiver of kindness?
This week I struggled with some technical issues pertaining to the blog for writers that I co-host and write with several other authors. We wanted to create a widget—a button for the blog called Seriously Write. None of us are very “techy,” so I offered to work on solving the issue.
I reached a certain point and then hit a roadblock. I thought of someone who might be able to help and contacted her. She wasn’t obligated to do anything. But, she not only provided written directions, she resolved the problem and then expressed that she was glad to help. What had caused me to hit my head against the wall turned out to be a simple fix for her.
Small matter to her—but to me, it was huge. Not once did she make me feel that I was a nuisance. I was grateful for her assistance—and her kindness.
She’s not the only person who’s helped me out with technical issues. An acquaintance works for Blogger, and I contact her whenever I have problems. With cyber smiles and a gracious, willing heart, she’s always taken time to answer questions and help out. Her kindness has made my life easier.

Someone opens and holds the door for a woman with a stroller in one hand, and a child in another.
A young man shovels or snow-blows a neighbor’s driveway on a cold, winter day.
An elderly woman is given a ride to a doctor’s appointment by someone who attends her church.
An appreciative parent writes an encouraging note to a stressed-out teacher.
A friend offers to take a new mom’s baby for a few hours so she can rest.
A meal is cooked for a family going through a tough time.

These may be small acts of kindness that may not take a lot of effort on the giver’s part—but they can mean so much to the receiver.
Have you observed any acts of kindness lately?
Have you been the receiver?
Have you offered an act of kindness?
This week, think about the small things you can do to brighten someone else’s day.

Book Review – Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Lorna Seilstad’s debut novel, Making Waves, was on my list of “to read” books for some time. I recently had a chance to curl up in a comfortable chair and open the pages.

The Story …
Marguerite Westing lives a privileged life, and she’s thrilled when her father announces the family will spend the summer of 1895 at Lake Manawa, Iowa. Along with other wealthy families, they pitch several tents near the water and discover it’s the hot vacation spot for the summer. This is not the kind of camping you may remember from your childhood. The Westings have also brought along their “help.”
Marguerite is delighted that she may have a breather from Roger Gordon, a successful businessman who is pursuing her. Marguerite’s mother is doing all she can to get them married, but the man bores adventurous Marguerite. Unfortunately Roger shows up, intending to monopolize as much of her time as he can.
When Marguerite becomes determined to learn how to sail—not an option for young women during that time—she figures out a way to maneuver into being taught by the handsome Trip Andrews.
The summer starts out light and playful, but soon things are turned upside down as Marguerite falls for Trip, attempts to fend off Roger, and wonders why her father is sneaking out at night. More than one person is keeping secrets. Not everything is what it first seems to appear.

The Review …
Making Waves is an impressive debut for the author’s Lake Manawa Summers series. It was the perfect book to read as we move into the summer and anticipate both fun and lazy sun-filled days.
The author did an excellent job making me feel like I was at Lake Manawa with the characters. I could almost taste the vanilla ice cream with fresh, sweet strawberries spooned over the top. I felt the wind blowing through my hair and the water spray on my face as the sailboat skimmed over the water.
I admired Marguerite’s independence, spunk, and love of adventure. It was easy to fall in love with Trip, who came to her rescue more than once. I also had no problem despising the villain, Roger Gordon, who turned out to not only be boring, but self-absorbed and dangerous.
But even heroines and heroes are not perfect, and both Marguerite and Trip have their faults. She uses small lies to hide the truth and get her way, and he uses preconceived ideas about people to keep them at a distance. Their flaws help make the characters believable and relatable.
At first Marguerite comes off as being a bit ditsy, but as the story progresses, we learn that there’s more to the young woman. She’s not only caring, she’s intelligent and capable of doing a lot more than what women were giving credit for during that time.
Light-hearted and humorous, with a touch of mystery, the story also holds a thought-provoking theme. Lies—whether they’re big or small—can be hurtful and destructive. Small lies can quickly become larger ones. However … the truth can set a person free.
If you want a delightful summer read, I recommend reading Making Waves. I’m also looking forward to reading the author’s just released, A Great Catch, the second book in the Lake Manawa Summers series.

Lorna Seilstad is a history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives and draws her setting from Iowa.

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