Category: ‘Steeple Hill’

Grounds To Believe by Shelley Bates

February 16, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Grounds To Believe by Shelley Bates

Have you ever been involved in a cult, or, known someone who’s been involved in one? What happened when you (or whomever) was involved with that group?

Ross Malcolm has a young daughter and he’s desperate to find his child. Years ago, he was involved with a woman (the mother of his child) who ran away with his daughter to join a cult. Ross has not seen his child in years, and wonders about her fate. A Christian, Ross is determined to investigate cults, hoping to stop their unreasonable practices.

Ross is alerted to investigate a cult when a pattern of mysterious children’s deaths becomes suspicious. When he rolls into town on his motorbike, he meets Julia, a member of The Elect, the cult he’s been called to investigate. He finds himself attracted to the beautiful plain-dressed woman. His ruse requires him to act as if he’s interested in becoming one of the Elect – the Elect feel that they are the only saved ones on this earth – all other religions are worldly and influenced by Satan.

I really loved this book because I saw several elements that were familiar in the cult environment. For example, The Elect don’t believe in having a personal relationship with Jesus – their salvation depends upon their Shepherd and his rules – God only speaks to them through their Shepherd and he decides their fate, not God. Also, they watch one another, if one rule is broken or bended, you could be Silenced, scorned for life, doomed to a life of Hell. Makes me wonder how one can stay enmeshed within a cult for so long – but, I suppose after being in it for so long and it’s all you know, you become close to the other members, and they’re like your family. It’d be kinda hard to give all that up if you don’t have others in the world in which to turn. The members of the Elect kinda reminded me of the Amish and the Shakers with their judgmental attitudes.

This was a good read over all! So have you ever been involved in a cult, or known someone who has? What happened? Tell me about the experience by leaving a comment!

Need a good, emotional romance? Try John’s Quest, on sale now for 99 cents!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Yuletide Stalker By Irene Brand – From The Blog Archives

December 3, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


Yuletide Stalker – Love Inspired Suspense
Published by: Steeple Hill Books
ISBN: 978-0-373-87401-9
Publication Date: 2006

I really enjoyed this book. The author does an awesome job of describing the scenery in Hawaii. I was in Hawaii for my honeymoon a little over three years ago, so I was able to compare her descriptions to what I saw while on vacation. I felt as if I was right back on the island!

Maddie Horton is invited to visit Linc Carey in Hawaii for Christmas. Linc is a military man who gave emotional support to Maddie and her mother after her father’s ‘accidental death’ ten years ago. Once Maddie arrives in Hawaii, she discovers her father did not die accidentally, but was murdered, and the murderers have escaped from prison. The murderers’ family have their sight set on Maddie because they want to seek revenge against her father since they feel he’s responsible for the deaths of their kinsmen. Maddie is stalked by someone, and she wonders if she’s losing her mind.

Linc vows to protect Maddie, and Maddie feels animosity toward Linc since he treats her like a child. Due to their eleven-year age difference, it is hard for Linc to accept that Maddie has grown into a beautiful woman. When Maddie realizes she loves Linc, she hesitates about revealing her feelings because she’s not sure if Linc loves her as a woman, or as a ‘daughter’ because of their age difference.

When she is abducted, you hope and pray she makes it out alive.

This book was suspenseful, but not too suspenseful. I also noticed that the author had a twenty-year-old woman as her heroine and a thirty-one-year-old man as her hero. I don’t see this much in contemporary romance novels nowadays. The heroine is usually older than twenty. However, I believe the author did a good job in making the romance believable despite the age difference. She made it believable because Maddie was so mature for her age. She lost both of her parents before she reached adulthood, which forced her to grow up quickly.


~Cecelia Dowdy~

Sweet Devotion By Felicia Mason

November 14, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Sweet Devotion by Felicia Mason

Have you ever attended a church camp? If so, tell me about your church camp experience. What was your favorite camp activity?

Amber Montgomery relocates to Wayside to forget about the abusive relationship she suffered with her ex-boyfriend in Los Angeles, who also happens to be a cop. Amber hates cops, and when Paul Evans mistakenly handcuffs and arrests her, she’s determined that he’ll suffer for his mistake. There’s no way she’s going to be manhandled by another cop.

Paul Evans is stunned that he’s arrested Amber by mistake. Since he’s accidentally bruised her hands during the arrest, he feels even worse. He’s trying to conquer his own demons and he’s now raising his niece and nephew as he comes to terms with things that have happened in his past.

There’s something about Amber that draws him in, in spite of her prickly, no-Jesus attitude. When Amber is hired as a cook for Paul’s church’s summer camp, the twosome find time to spend together, getting to know one another.

Amber’s a preacher’s kid, plus, she’s done lots of missionary work with her parents. She knows what it’s like not to have friends in remote areas – maybe being alone isn’t so bad. But she second guesses her opinions about relationships and faith as she gets closer to Paul.

I really enjoyed this novel. It shows how our faith can falter, almost disappear, because of traumatic circumstances. The lesson learned from this novel is, no matter what happens in your life, God is always there for you, he’ll never leave you or forsake you.

I encourage you to download this novel onto your Kindle, Nook or other e-reader.

So, have you ever attended a church camp? If you have, tell me about some of your church camp experiences. What was your favorite church camp activity? Leave a comment!



~Cecelia Dowdy~

The Inn At Shadow Lake

October 20, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

The Inn At Shadow Lake (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #36)

The Inn At Shadow Lake by the late Janet Edgar

If someone proposed to you years ago, and you refused, could you see yourself dating that person years later?

Zach and Julie dated in college and when he asked Julie to marry him, she refused, angering Zach. He stormed off on his Harley, not giving Julie a chance to explain why she’d said no.

Now, a number of years later, Julie is stunned when Jack miraculously appears at her inn. He’s the “mystery man” who’s made reservations to stay at her establishment for a lengthy time. Unbeknownst to Julie, Zack is a special agent, seeking a deadly terrorist ring and Julie is a prime suspect.

As part of the ruse, Jack needs to pump Julie for information about one of her “beaus”. He romances Julie, asking questions, however, while romancing her, he finds those dormant feelings of love resurfacing. But his gut is telling him that Julie is innocent, however, he wonders…why hasn’t she mentioned that her groundskeeper was murdered? Is she somehow responsible for his death?

Julie finds herself falling for Zach and her daughter Emmie is smitten with him, too. Since her husband has died, she’s been lonely, and Zach fills a special place, deep in her heart. She senses that Zach is hurting and she wonders what has happened to him since their huge breakup in college.

This book was a good shorter book that you can read in about a day or so. The suspenseful moments keep you guessing until the very end. I enjoyed reading about the classy, secluded inn. It’s a great setting for a good suspenseful story. Both Zach and Julie have been hurt in the past, and they need to learn to rely on God, first and foremost, to help them through their troubles. Overall, this was a nice, inspirational story that wasn’t too preachy.

So, if someone proposed to you years ago, and you refused, could you see yourself dating that person years later?


~Cecelia Dowdy~

Promises To Keep – From The Archives

June 8, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Promises To Keep by the late Jane Peart

Can you think of a book that creates a strong, vivid response from you? If so, please leave a comment with the title of an emotionally-charging novel(s).

***Note, as a reminder, I’m still working on my writing project. Until I’m finished, I’ll be posting old stuff from the archives. Feel free to leave a comment! I love hearing from blog readers!

I read this book several years ago and I recall that the story stirred up lots of deep vivid emotions for me. I encourage all to download a copy onto their Nook, Kindle, or other e-reader.

When Valerie’s husband is imprisoned for a white-collar crime, she feels as if her world is falling apart. She must now learn to support herself, plus raise her young daughter alone. Garth, her handsome next door neighbor, is smitten with her, and he offers her love and comfort. She feels torn about accepting Garth’s love when her husband is still in prison. She is also struggling in dealing with her daughter’s gradual hearing loss.
When her husband gets out of prison, she has to make a choice, should she take her husband back, for better or worse, or should she pursue a future with Garth.

This book was highly emotional, and I was anxious to see what choices Valerie made when faces with big, life-altering decisions. I highly recommend this book for those who want to read an emotional tale.

 So, can you think of a book that stirs strong, vivid emotions for you? If so, please leave a comment with the title of the emotionally-charging novel. 

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Love Inspired Novels With African-American Characters

March 15, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

I received the following email from a reader named Dee awhile ago:

I read First Mates and really enjoyed it. I wondered why there aren’t more Love Inspired novels with African-American characters?

My response:

Dee, as to why there aren’t more LI novels with AA characters – I can’t really comment about that since I don’t know the reason! However, your question prompted me to do a Google search and I found this discussion thread on the e-harlequin community. The first part of the question in that link talks about small-town settings, but, the second part talks about Love Inspired novels with African-American characters.

If you’d like to read some other Love Inspired novels with African-American characters, there are some that were published years ago. Here’s the list, and I’ve also included my novel, First Mates, in the lineup, too. Harlequin recently digitized most of their backlist, so, you can get these old titles on Kindle or Nook.

First Mates by Cecelia Dowdy

A cruise around the Caribbean offered just what Rainy Jackson needed to get over her faithless ex-fiancé — sun, swimming and solitude. As the heat sank into her bones, she began to feel interest in the world again… and in handsome fellow passenger Winston Michaels.
Winston had also hoped for time alone to reflect. But finding a friend in faith in the lovely Rainy helped him deal with his twin sister’ s death without relying on unhealthy means of deadening the pain. And Winston’ s outlook brightened further when dates back home in Miami brought him and Rainy even closer. Would Rainy be the one to share Winston’ s life voyage?

Sweet Harmony by Felicia Mason
R & B singer Marcus Ambrose needed a break from grueling work and travel, and participating in a small-town music and film festival in Oregon was the perfect excuse for a little rest and relaxation. But he never expected to fall head over heels for the town’ s beautiful psychologist, who wasn’ t at all impressed with his celebrity status.
Dr. Kara Spencer seemed immune to Marcus’ s attempts to woo her. Strong and independent, Kara wanted a man who believed in God, community and family, not flash and dash. How could he convince her that he used his music to inspire as well as entertain? That he couldn’ t live another day without her by his side?

Gabriel’s Discovery by Felicia Mason

Susan Carter has her hands full raising twins and running the Galilee Women’ s Shelter— she doesn’ t need darkly handsome pastor Gabriel Dawson complicating her life. But she can’ t avoid him, not after she opens his eyes to the plight of the battered women in his parish, whose drug-addicted men are connected to the Venezuelan cartel La Mano Oscura and the Diablo crime syndicate. Spending time with Gabriel, when he’ s her auctioned “ date” and again with her daughters, shows Susan both the gentleness and protectiveness of the former marine. And once Susan’ s daughters decide that they want Gabriel as their new daddy, what else is there for a man of God to do… but become a family man?

Steeple Hill had a women’s fiction line that is no longer in existence. There were some books published in this line by
African-American authors, namely, Marilynn Griffith, Jacquelin Thomas, and Felicia Mason. Also, there was an African-Amercian anthology published by Steeple Hill entitled How Sweet The Sound. I didn’t bother listing these since you’d asked specifically about Love Inspired titles. The books mentioned in this paragraph are not Love Inspired titles, but, they are published by Steeple Hill.

Also, Harlequin used to have an African-American inspirational line entitled New Spirit. I believe it was under the Kimani line? However, there were only a few books published under this line and as far as I know, this line no longer exists.

Hope this blog post helps you glean some more reading material for your Kindle or Nook!

Have any of you read these titles? If so, did you like them? Also, can you think of any Love Inspired titles with African-American characters that I may have missed? Happy reading!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Barbour Sells Heartsong Presents to Harlequin

January 28, 2012 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Stunned, simply stunned. I’m so totally surprised to hear this. I sensed that HP would be bought, but, I’d just assumed it would be purchased by another Christian publisher, not Harlequin! See more details about this here. Literary Agent Steve Laube blogged about it. You can find the press release here. What are your thoughts about this news? Are you just as shocked as I am? Leave a comment!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan

December 4, 2011 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan

If you were engaged, and your fiancé(e) broke your engagement to marry another, do you think you could forgive him/her?

That’s the premise for Lisa Jordan’s Love Inspired novel, Lakeside Reunion. Five years ago, Lindsey’s fiancé, Stephen, broke their engagement so that he could marry another woman. Stephen’s reasons for doing this had to do with something he’d done a couple of years ago. He’d gotten a woman pregnant after a one-night stand. He didn’t know about the pregnancy until two years later when the woman shows up with his child. He felt he was doing the right thing by breaking his engagement to Lindsey and marrying the mother of his child. After all, his child needed a father.

Now, five years later, his wife is dead, and Lindsey returns to town. Her mother has had an accident and Lindsey must leave her inn and relocate to Lakeside for a few weeks to care for her mom. While in town, she discovers that there’s still chemistry between her and Stephen. Can she forgive him for his past actions. Is this there second chance at love?

Lindsey is also stunned to discover that her mother’s life has changed so drastically. Her mother is seriously dating someone. Lindsey is stunned, doesn’t her mom remember the wonderful marriage she had with her deceased husband? How can she mar Lindsey’s dad’s memory by committing herself to another?

Lindsey finds it hard to deal with her mother’s changed life and her feelings for her ex. Also, she finds herself drawn to Stephen’s child, the little boy whose existance ended their engagement. She’d initially resented the child years ago, but finds herself now bonding with the youngster.

This is a sweet story that realistically deals with the issues of forgiveness and healing. Overall it was a good, heartwarming read.

So, if you were engaged, and your fiancé(e) broke your engagement to marry another, do you think you could forgive him or her?

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Fireman Dad By Betsy St. Amant

November 16, 2011 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Fireman Dad by Betsy St. Amant

Marissa is stunned when her son, Owen, suddenly wants to be a firefighter. He admires Jacob, a local firefighter, who’s befriended Marissa. Marissa, a party planner, is hired to plan the birthday party for Jacob’s niece. While doing so, she’s befriended by Liz, Jacob’s sister-in-law. Marissa’s husband died while in the line of duty of firefighting, plus, she’s never had a close relationship with her dad who’s also spent his life firefighting. Can she overcome her fears and learn to love Jacob, even though he’s a firefighter?

This was a cute story that shows that we need to let go of our fears and learn to lean on God during our trials. Marissa is widowed and she hasn’t been to church since her husband passed five years ago. I thought this story was a light, breezy read that was enjoyable. They also showed Liz, a secondary character, struggle with firefighting in her family too since her husband was laid off from his firefighting job. Liz’s family is finding it hard to make ends meet since her husband is unemployed. I feel like the author painted a realistic view about the world of firefighting and I also learned a little bit about what it’s like being a firefighter.

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Holiday Homecoming By Jillian Hart

October 14, 2011 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Holiday Homecoming by Jillian Hart

Can you imagine leaving home after high school and not returning for several years?

That’s what happens in Holiday Homecoming.

This was an excellent Love Inspired novel! I think I enjoyed it so much because of the deep emotions that the author was able to portray in the novel.

Kristin is going home for Thanksgiving. She runs into Ryan on the flight home. She knows Ryan from her childhood since they grew up in the same neighborhood and their mothers are best friends.

Both of them are still healing from deep emotional losses – Kristin’s sister died in an accident awhile back and her family is still reeling from the pain, plus, her sister’s death has affected her parents’ marriage. Kristin’s parents used to be happily married, but now they’re so at odds with each other. Kristin feels that true love is nothing but a pipe dream since her parents are no longer happy and they used to have a joyous marriage.

Meanwhile, Ryan is still not over the death of his dad. His father died when he was eight, and Ryan left home after high school. This Thanksgiving is Ryan’s first time back at home since his teen-aged years and he’s coming home as a doctor. He struggles with his painful loss while in his old neighborhood and Kristin attempts to help him deal with his grief. Ryan doesn’t feel he’d make a suitable mate for anybody – he’s still messed up from his dad’s death and he just needs to be alone. He doesn’t want to get close to anybody and feels he’ll be happier just remaining by himself. Returning to his hometown brings back dormant nightmares.

I especially loved the holiday theme to this book! First there’s Thanksgiving, then Christmas and then Easter. I loved the setting – the falling snow, the Christmas lights, the holiday cookies – etc. This was a very visual, emotional book and I highly recommend it as a great holiday read. If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, then you should download this wonderful sweet romance on your Kindle. I’m sure you’ll love it!

So have you, or somebody you know, ever struggled with returning home or to your hometown? If so, what kind of emotional experience made you struggle with returning to your home?

~Cecelia Dowdy~