Maggie’s Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley

Back Cover copy:

Maggie’s Journey grabs you on page one with characters and events that reflect real-life joys and heartaches that change the characters forever. Make room on your “keepers” shelf! —Loree Lough, best-selling author of 80 award-winning books, including From Ashes to Honor.

A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.

Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.
When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?
My review:

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a big historical reader, but I just finished Maggie’s Journey, the first book in the McKenna’s Daughters Series by Lena Nelson Dooley, and I think I’m changing my tune.  
Never having read a book by Lena Nelson Dooley, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maggie’s Journey focuses on a woman’s search to find her identity after she discovers that her birth parents gave her away, and the serious emotional struggles between a mother and daughter.
From the first page, Ms. Dooley creates the stage with the setting. You could feel yourself suffering through the long journey on the Oregon Trail, enduring the train ride, or touring a magnificent clothing-design mansion. I enjoyed the historical tidbits offered throughout the book.
And the characters jumped right off the pages. I rooted for Maggie as she searched for answers and attempted to be the person she was meant to be, rather than the customary woman of society. Other times, I wanted to scold Florence, but the author molded her from the beginning in such a way that I understood her motivation.  
The real romance in this book wasn’t between the main characters, but rather with Joshua and Florence, Maggie’s parents. I admired Joshua, a man of honor and passion, who demonstrated unconditional love for his wife in the toughest of circumstances.  
I’ll look forward to Lena Nelson Dooley’s next book in the McKenna’s Daughters Series, Mary’s Blessing, coming in May. Congrats, Lena Nelson Dooley! Five stars for an impeccably written story!
Disclosure: I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review.
Author Bio: Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Churchin Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

Her 2010 release was Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, from Summerside Press which recently won the Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western literature. Lena is currently under two 3-book contracts with Charisma House/Realms. The first book released in October 2011. It’s Maggie’s Journey, book one of her McKenna’s Daughters series. 
In addition to her writing, Lenais a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. 
Lenahas an active web presence on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books.

My review of HIGHLAND BLESSINGS by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The blurb:

Scotland, 1473

Highland Blessings is the story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise he made to his dying father. Bryce MacPhearson, a highland warrior, kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. While Akira’s strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment when he forces her to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans. While Akira begins to forgive, and Bryce learns to trust, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswered questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate that once again rises between their families. Clearly, a traitor is in their midst. Now the one man Akira loves no longer trusts her, and her own life is in danger. Can Bryce look beyond his pain and seek the truth? Will Akira discover the threat against her before it’s too late? How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland blessings?

My review:
I’m not really a historical romance lover, although I do enjoy reading one occasionally.  I don’t remember ever reading a Scottish historical. But, as the founder and past president of Carolina Christian Writers, Jennifer Hudson Taylor has addressed the group on many occasions, always impressive. So when Amazon offered Highland Blessings free on Kindle, I snatched it up. Why not?
Why did I wait so long?? Highland Blessings hooked me from the beginning. Jennifer Hudson Taylor weaved the story together so well, I was immediately drawn into Scotland in 1473. At first, I was a little nervous about the Scottish dialog, but she managed to make me feel like I talked, lived, and breathed in that generation, until I no longer noticed the difference. I thought she did a great job developing the characters. Bryce, painted as a tribal warrior at first, then later, you witnessed his tender side as he battled allegiance to his tribe with love for his bride. And Akira, initially apprehensive and confused, grew strong and brave, a female who stood up for what she believed in. Heavy on the action and mingled with faith, this book contains enough sweet romance to leave you emotionally satisfied.  
Jennifer Hudson Taylor’s second book, Highland Sanctuary, is available now. I won’t wait until it’s offered free on Kindle to read it! Congratulations, Jennifer Hudson Taylor. Five stars from this reader!

Highland Sanctuary by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

She harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future.
Scotland, 1477
Gavin MacKenzie is hired to protect and restore the Braigh Castle. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s sacrificial love is more powerful than any human force on earth.
Wow! Can’t wait to get my hands on it, Jennifer. What a beautiful cover, too! Look for Highland Sanctuary in October 2011. Now that we’ve taken a sneak look at Highland Sanctuary, tell us a little about yourself.
Jennifer, what does a normal workday look like for you? My normal work days are quite boring. First thing, I check email, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo news. My husband thinks I’m addicted to the Internet and he’s probably right. If I have time, I sneak in a blog post. If not, I get ready for work, drop my daughter off at school, and I go to my day job. I may squeeze in a bit of writing on my lunch hour or at the allergist lobby. They get to see me on a regular basis. I work all day in one of those thrilling gray cubicles. Then I go home and spend some time with my family. We have dinner, sometimes a Bible study, sometimes take walks, and I go to my room and write, research or work on promotional stuff. This means I must get a lot of writing done on the weekends, and I must be very disciplined about my time. I rarely watch TV.
What’s your favorite food? grilled chicken or salmon Caesar salads, sushi, chicken alfredo, anything at Olive Garden or Red Lobster

If you had a Friday night all to yourself, what would you do first? Sleep?
What are some of your dislikes and likes? I dislike allergies, public places that allow smoking, jet skiing on the ocean (thought I was going to die) and root beer. I like socks on my feet around the house at all times, parasailing over the ocean, and butter pecan ice cream.
Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an author of historical Christian fiction and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis Contest, and her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading.
Thanks so much for stopping by Jennifer. Congrats on your upcoming release ~ Highland Sanctuary!