Welcome to Book Chat with Julie! This month we have some great book recommendations for the women on your gift list who love to read.

The first book is a contemporary romance by Heather B. Moore called, “Just Add Romance.” This tender story combines love and loss with new beginnings that will give readers all the feels that a good romance can offer.

Everly Kane’s life has not turned out like she planned. Her ex-boyfriend is marrying her sister and in order to avoid any pitying looks from her family and friends, she pretends to be seeing someone. Then she meets Austin Hayes, the architect who has come to town to renovate the old movie theater. The sparks between them are undeniable, but they both have complicated pasts and meddling mothers to deal with. Can they find a way to be together, even when it looks impossible?

This is a fun romance with plenty of butterflies-in-your-middle moments. Both the main characters also experience quite a bit of emotional healing and growth as well, which adds a depth that makes the story very relatable for readers. Everly is quirky and fun, but also vulnerable, trying to live up to everyone’s expectations while carving out a life she can love for herself. Austin has lived through tragedy and is still picking up the pieces after his wife’s death. When he meets Everly, he starts to open himself up to the idea of love again. Our hero and heroine are really well-drawn and easy to cheer for on their journey to love. The supporting cast was also believable and definitely added needed insight into the characters as they worked for their happily-ever-after. A truly enjoyable afternoon read.

The second book I’d like to tell you about today is a Scottish historical romance, The Widow and the Highlander, by Martha Keyes, a new-to-me author. (Thank you for all of the reader recommendations I received for historical romance! I’m so glad I picked this one up.)

The Widow and the Highlander is the first in a four-book series, and I have to admit, I liked the first one so well, I binge-read the next three books. The writing style is compelling for the time period and the author adds just enough Scottish flair to the characters to make them feel authentic without overwhelming readers.

We are first introduced to Christina MacKinnon who has survived a difficult marriage and is now a widow. She ought to be relieved, but her late husband’s clan is beginning to threaten any semblance of peace she might have found. Lachlan Kincaid has returned home from war, determined to get back the castle and land that was stolen from his family by the MacKinnon clan. When he finds the MacKinnon widow alone and in danger, he vows to protect her, but the only way he can do that requires a sacrifice Christina isn’t sure she can make. But as the threats escalate, she’ll have to make a choice—but can she trust a stranger with her life and her heart?

This story is full of danger and intrigue, combined with a slow-burn romance with lots of twists on the path they’re traveling. Readers will enjoy the intricacy of the plot and the depth of the characters as they struggle to come to terms with the past and their current circumstances. Lachlan Kincaid is a dashing hero with a wounded heart that draws readers to him as he works to find closure and healing. Christina also has a wounded heart after suffering at the hands of her husband and she’s afraid to trust, so it is heartwarming to watch these two people find each other and reach for the chance at love. The secondary cast is memorable and readers will be glad that the story continues through their eyes in subsequent books in the series. Definitely a great read for fans of Scottish historical romance!

Behind the Scenes—An Interview with Author Heather B. Moore

I loved being able to chat with Heather B. Moore. She is an amazing and prolific author! Not only does she have Just Add Romance coming out, her non-fiction book, Women Who Believe, co-authored with Angela Eschler was just released. You can read more about that In the Non-Fiction Corner with Lauren.

If you’d like to hear her entire interview, tune into my Book Chat with Julie podcast. Heather is also the featured guest at my Book Chat Book Club on May 18th. If you would like to join the Book Chat Book Club, you can click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055727957843897

Here is a little bit of our chat:

Julie: You have two books that are newly released, Women Who Believe and Just Add Romance and both are so well-done. What are some of the similarities and differences for you as a creator and writer when you are writing a book based on scripture as opposed to a contemporary romance?

Heather B. Moore: I think everyone enjoys reading various books or watching different films. It’s the same with writing. The preparation process is certainly different with various genres. When I’m writing inspirational nonfiction, I listen to religious music and study the subject matter before writing each day. It’s similar to preparing a church lesson to teach—you immerse yourself in that topic during the days and weeks you are putting together each chapter. When writing romance, my first task is to come up with each character (the hero, the heroine, and the supporting cast). Then I ask who are these characters, how will they meet, and what about each other will bring them into a relationship. What obstacles will they overcome together and what are the conflicts along the way. I don’t shy away from harder topics or complications in a contemporary romance, and I learn a lot of life lessons along with the characters as they grow on their individual journeys.

Julie: Where did you get the inspiration/idea for Women Who Believe?

Heather B. Moore: My co-author, Angela Eschler, and I had previously written a book together called Christ’s Gifts to Women. We’d always talked about writing another book together, and we came up with the idea of writing about the beatitudes given during the Sermon on the Mount. We wanted to take the angle of how a beatitude might also represent a woman from the scriptures and the challenges she faced. From that idea, it was just a matter of how we’d structure the book and which women from the scriptures we’d write about.

Julie: Your romance is set in Everly Falls and it really felt like a real place people could visit. Was it completely made up or was the town based in reality?

Heather B. Moore: Everly Falls is completely made up as well as all the locations and shop names.

Julie: Without giving away any spoilers, do you have a favorite scene in Just Add Romance?

Heather B. Moore: Both the hero and heroine have relationship issues with their mothers—for different reasons. So, my favorite part of the book is when those relationships are healed.

Julie: What was your favorite part about collaborating on Women Who Believe with Angela Eschler?

Heather B. Moore: Working with a co-author brings a lot of energy and support to a project. It’s fun to bounce ideas off each other, or get validation for something, while in the process of writing the manuscript. Usually, an author doesn’t get feedback until a manuscript is completely finished, but with co-authoring, I’m getting it as I go.

Julie: What are you working on now?

Heather B. Moore: I’m currently working on a historical novel set in Indonesia during 1942-1945 when the Dutch were interned in Japanese concentration camps during WWII.

I can’t wait for that one! Thank you so much for our book chat today. I hope you’ll find a new author to read and love!   

Just Add Romance by Heather B. Moore published by Mirror Press, 195 pages, available in softcover and ebook.

The Widow and the Highlander by Martha Keyes, 300 pages, available in softcover, audio, and ebook.

After winning $10 in a second grade writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. That dream came true and she is now the author of thirty books. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie.

In the Non-Fiction Corner with Lauren

Women Who Believe,” by Heather B. Moore and Angela Eschler is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for the special women in your life. I love learning about women in the scriptures, and this little book was packed full of insights and a few things that I had never thought of before. Each chapter focuses on a woman in the scriptures and one of the Beatitudes, and it shows how each woman exemplifies that teaching of Christ. Also, the artwork is breathtaking!

I particularly liked the chapter on Eve. The authors chose the quality “hunger and thirst after righteousness” for Eve and I could not agree more. She made a difficult decision that the authors point out she could have thought about for a long time. She made a sacrifice, and not an easy one at that! Eve is a prime example of wanting to do the right thing and making sacrifices to come to know the Lord better.

Each chapter is inspiring and heartfelt, highlighting the strength and testimony of remarkable women who are examples in courage. This beautiful book is one you’ll read again and again.

Lauren is from Utah and has been an avid reader her whole life. She graduated from BYU in History and currently teaches elementary school and works at a rare bookstore. She is also a docent at the Church History Museum. Her passions include traveling, spending time with family, learning about history, and of course, reading.