Blitz: Casting Lots by William D. McEachern

Historical Fiction
Date Published: January 14

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Casting Lots is the tale of how a Greek slave, Lucinius, becomes an influential religious leader and literary figure in the First Century A.D.  His spiritual awakening is prompted by an unlikely mentor, a Centurion, who was at the crucifixion. 
Lucinius is ordered by his master to assemble the stories told by eye-witnesses to the life and death of Jesus Christ.  Cornelius was the Centurion at the Crucifixion. Cornelius is hated by the Jews and the Romans.  He is haunted by the Crucifixion because he won the shroud worn by Christ in a game of dice.  He takes Lucinius on a journey throughout the Empire and tells him what seem to be fantastic stories about famous Romans during the era of the Republic, some 100 years ago.  These stories contain elements which Cornelius could not possibly know, unless he is making them up or unless there is some other explanation.
The book answers the question of who wrote the Gospel of Luke and why he wrote it.  The book answers the question of who is Cornelius and why he said Jesus was an innocent man at his Crucifixion.   Thus, it is a tale of the two men’s spiritual journeys.
I walked to his home again. The streets were crowded and the world’s smells washed over me: the sweat of the men, the perfumes of the women, the urine of the animals, bread baking, cloth just cut, fruit drying on the stands, gutters of the streets, leather being tanned. Sweet, pungent, acrid, acidic, salty, bitter, biting smells grabbed my nostrils as if I smelled these for the first time. The smells were counterpoint to the sounds of the city. The hammer of the artist cracking tiles, rocks, and glass to make mosaics, bleating of sheep and lowing of cows as they awaited slaughter, the rumble of wagons carrying bolts of cloth, or carcasses of meat and exotic goods along the cobblestone streets, the tramp of soldiers’ caligae, their hob-nails clicking on stone, as they marched, crying babies needing to be nursed, yelling mothers trying to find lost children, heralds blaring out the whereabouts of some legion killing some barbarians somewhere on some frontier, tax collectors demanding payment of tax, while the taxpayer screamed insults or begged for mercy, and the sound of my heart pounding so hard that it might burst, blended together in a discordant cacophony of life. If the smells did not grab your attention, or if the sounds did not demand your notice, then the play of light would surely command your consideration. The light side-by-side with the dark was sharp, stark, defined, and distinct, as where the land ends and the seas begin. You walked most of the time in the shadow of the tall insulae, the apartment buildings, fearing that from the darkness above would flow that most unsavory of liquids. Then the sunlight blaring from a blue crystal-clear sky dazzled your eyes, when you walked across some broad street. The brilliant sun radiated off the temples’ gold-leaf veneers. You were in the presence of the Gods. All the while, I thought about how I could approach him. An offer of money, I thought, would only insult and repel him. The quest of my master disgusted and dismayed him. Before I had decided what to do and how to do it, I was there at his door. “Damno ad averno!” (“Damn it to hell!”) Cornelius spat as spoke these words as if the spitting added to the curse. “I will wait until you tell me.” I stood resolutely. “What?” “I will wait until you tell me.” I sat down and smiled slightly. “Get underfoot, eh?” “If necessary.” “All day and all night?” he asked. “If necessary.” He turned into the darkness of his home. I waited. Time passed. Then I saw him coming back, his vitis rudis, that is his vine hand. No true centurion was ever without the symbol of his authority, his vitis rudis, gnarled and worn. “Do you think a man who has wielded this,” he gestured with his vitis rudis, “will ever break?” “Do you think that a slave who has been beaten all of his life will fear one more beating?” “Well, that is the first thing you have said that makes any sense at all!” He smiled.
About the Author

William D. McEachern is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor of arts in religion and psychology. His focus at Duke was on early Christianity. His fascination with Rome grew out of his Latin and Greek classes at St. Paul’s School in New York in the early 1960s. Reading Caesar fueled his love of Rome and ancient history, which he has studied for half a century. A practicing tax attorney for more than thirty-five years, he has written numerous articles and several law treatises about estate planning, estate and gift taxation, and the use of trusts. In this his first novel, Mr. McEachern’s unique voice blends law, religion, and history.
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Book Review: The Widow’s Choice by Hildie McQueen

The Widow’s Choice by Hildie McQueen

(Brides of Colter Valley, Book 1)

The Widow's choice

Publisher & Release Date: Pink Door Publishing, August 4, 2015

Time and setting: 1860, Montana

Genre: Historical Western Romance

Length: 115 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Comely widow Charlotte Kennedy is in over her head. Between running a huge ranch and keeping a cruel rancher at arms length, she doesn’t need the added distraction of romance.

Colter Valley calls to Rafe Preston, who decides to purchase land and settle there. When he accepts a temporary job at a beautiful widow’s ranch, he has no idea how much it will impact his plans.

Passion, deception and treachery, blend into a beautiful love story, set in 1860s Montana Territory.

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Vikki’s Musings

This is not the first book I have read by Hildie McQueen, and it will not be the last. I’ve been hooked on her writing ever since I read Where the Four Winds Collide. Whether she is writing a Scottish Highland romance, a contemporary one, or a sweet western, she will delight a reader’s heart. The Widow’s Choice is a sweet western romance with a strong heroine and an amazing hero. This is a great start on a new series for Ms. McQueen and I look forward to reading Jerrick’s story.

While getting the lay of the land before he buys a ranch in Colter Valley, Rafe Preston accepts a job working for the widow, Charlotte Kennedy, known as Charlie by all her close friends. At first the lovely widow keeps her distance, but as attraction grows between the couple, love flourishes.

When danger comes a calling, Rafe rushes in to save Charlie, but will he make it in time, or lose the only woman he can ever love?

Not only does McQueen write unforgettable characters, she writes interesting secondary characters that enliven her stories. That is the case with The Widow’s Choice, from the cantankerous Joe to the sweet-natured Mary Ellen. This is definitely going to be a delightful series centered on a cast of characters in Colter Valley, a close knit community.

If you enjoy a traditional western romance with the added benefit of a little bit of sensuality and a great “happily ever after” at the end, then you will enjoy The Widow’s Choice, as much as I did. Happy reading!

Author Bio:Hildie McQueen

I write Historical Western Romance as well as Paranormal Romance, with a touch of Historical here and there. I’ve also published eight Highlander Historical Erotic short stories. I am a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Georgia Romance Writers and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapters of RWA.

For fun I spend a lot of time with my girlfriends. My wonderful hubby is my partner in crime for traveling. We love to jump in the car or sometimes his motorcycle and head to the mountains, the city or the beach.

Book & Audio Review: Ready for Love by Marie Force

Ready for Love by Marie force

(McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 3)

Ready for Love

Publisher & Release Date: HTJB, INC, June 28, 2011

Time and setting: Present Day, Rhode Island

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 266 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

The McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 3

For four of the best summers of his young life, Luke Harris was in love with Sydney Donovan, a wealthy seasonal visitor to Gansett Island. Then Sydney went off to college and never came back. She married another man and had two children while Luke remained on the island, working at McCarthy’s Gansett Marina and wondering what had gone wrong between him and the only woman he ever loved. Fifteen months after Sydney suffers the tragic loss of her husband and children, she’s returned to Gansett to figure out what’s next, and that may very well be a rekindled love affair with the one man from her past she’s never forgotten. But is she ready for a second chance at love?

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Vikki’s Musings

Ready for Love is the third book in the McCarthy’s of Gansett Island series. I have read/listened to the first two books in this delightful series, and now I’m hooked. I just have to find out about the rest of the McCarthys and Gansett Island. Just what I needed, another series to fall in love with! At least I can buy the next three in a bundle, to save a bit of money, but then no audio version for $1.99, decisions, decisions!

Luke Harris has been in love with Sydney Donovan since high school. Sydney went off to college and never looked back, leaving a broken-hearted Luke who has never been able to get over her. When Sydney loses her husband and children in a horrific car crash, she returns to Ganssett Island for the summer to recover from her injuries. Her first summer back, he watches from afar, giving her time to grieve.

The second summer she is there, she speaks to him, letting him know she’s aware that he’s been watching her. Does he dare open his heart to her again? Can Sydney cast off her sorrow and step into the light of Luke’s love, giving them both a second chance?

I thoroughly enjoyed Ready for Love. Luke is a great character, and an outstanding hero with his steadfast heart and quiet demeanor. His willingness to put his love out there for Sydney again, after she apologized for her actions all those years before, touched my soul. It’s refreshing to read of a hero that isn’t a womanizer. Who didn’t let his heart break ruin his life.

Sydney’s character’s devastating loss brought me to tears. Not only did she lose her husband, but her two children as well. Her remorse over how she left Luke without ever telling him it was over was sincere.

Since I listened to the audio version as well as reading this book, I want to mention the narration. Eva Kaminsky reads with a great deal of emotion, helping to pull me into the story. She give the male voice a bit of a raspy quality that helps distinguish them from the female characters. I would have enjoyed it more if she had been able to make each voice unique to the character, but I’m sure that is difficult for many narrators.

Ms. Force’s writing is emotionally-charged, yet without a lot of angst. Her story line is believable and realistic. Her books are about normal, everyday people. It’s about people who make mistakes and learn from them. I loved getting inside the characters heads from the previous three books, and while one would think it would take the focus from Luke and Sydney, it didn’t. I’m so glad I found these great books and can’t wait to read the rest of them in this series. Happy reading!

Book & Audio Review: Fool for Love by Marie Force

Fool for Love by Marie Force

(McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 2)

Fool for LovePublisher & Release Date: HTJB, INC, May 26, 2011

Time and setting: Present Day, Rhode Island

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 257 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

The McCarthys of Gansett Island: Book 2 

Joe Cantrell, owner of the Gansett Island Ferry Company, has been in love with Janey McCarthy for as long as he can remember. At the same time, Janey has been dating or engaged to doctor-in-training David Lawrence. When things go horribly wrong between David and Janey, she calls her “fifth brother” Joe, one of the few people in her close circle who lives on the mainland. Janey decides a few days with Joe is just what she needs before she goes home to the island to face her parents and family with the news of her broken engagement. It was bad enough for Joe loving Janey from afar, but having her in his house is pure torture. Will he take advantage of this opportunity to show her what they could have together? And what will Joe’s best friend and Janey’s protective older brother Mac have to say about it? 

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Vikki’s Musings

Fool for Love is the second book in the MaCarthys of Gansett Island series and what a delightful series it is. Until Maid for Love, I had not read any books by Marie Force, but now after reading/listening to two, I’m sold. Light contemporary romance is not my first choice of read, but I loved Fool for Love.

Joe Cantrell has been in love with Janey McCarthy since high school, but since Janey has been with David Lawrence for thirteen years, he knows he doesn’t have a chance. Then he receives a call from a crying Janey asking him to help her.

Janey McCarthy is looking forward to her wedding. On their anniversary of thirteen years, she decides to surprise her fiancée. Unfortunately, David is unaware that Janey comes in and sees him in throes of passion with another woman. He’s so involved in fact, he never even realizes Janey is there.

When Joe takes Janey’s desperate call, he makes a mad dash to help her. Could this be the chance he thought would never come?

While this is a light-hearted story, it has many emotionally-charged scenes between the hero and heroine. I loved the developing romance, and it happens remarkably fast, considering Janey has just broken up with her long-time fiancée. However, it is believable. Ms. Force clearly shows that Janey was not truly in love with David and the relationship had gone on long past the time it should have. I had no problem with the speed in which Janey falls in love with Joe.

I fell in love with Janey’s character from the first book in the series, so I was already predisposed to like her. I could feel her pain over her fiancée’ s betrayal, but it was very clear it was more from the loss of her idealistic dreams than the loss of true love. I loved her awe over the passion she feels with Joe, passion that was sadly lacking with David. She behaved like a child let lose in a candy store, and she couldn’t get enough! Having been in a similar situation many years ago, I totally identified with her reaction.

Joe Cantrell is also a great character. He is fierce in his determination to take this opportunity to win Janey’s heart, and he leaves no stone unearthed in his pursuit. It’s so refreshing to read a romance where the hero is the one completely in love and has to convince the heroine that what is budding between is real and lasting.

Since I listened to the audio version as well as reading this book, I want to mention the narration. Eva Kaminsky reads with a great deal of emotion, helping to pull me into the story. She give the male voice a bit of a raspy quality that helps distinguish them from the female characters. I would have enjoyed it more if she had been able to make each voice unique to the character, but I’m sure that is difficult for many narrators.

If you enjoy a sweet love story with plenty of passion and a few laughs along the way, then you will love Fool for Love. It’s a breath of fresh air. Happy reading!

Book & Audio Review: Maid for Love by Marie Force

Maid for Love by Marie Force

(The McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 1)

Maid for LovePublisher & Release Date: HTJB, INC, April 28, 2011

Time and setting: Present Day, Rhode Island

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 266 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

The McCarthys of Gansett Island: Book 1 

Maddie Chester is determined to leave her hometown of Gansett Island, a place that has brought her only bad memories and ugly rumors. Then she’s knocked off her bike on the way to her housekeeping job at McCarthy’s Resort Hotel by Gansett’s “favorite son,” Mac McCarthy. He’s back in town to help his father with preparations to sell the family resort and has no intention of staying long. When Mac accidentally sends Maddie flying over the handlebars, badly injuring her, he moves in to nurse her back to health and help care for her young son. He soon realizes his plans for a hit-and-run visit to the island are in serious jeopardy, and he just may be “maid” for love.

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Vikki’s Musings

This is my first book I’ve read by Marie Force. I met Ms. Force at a conference where she was the keynote speaker and enjoyed her talk a great deal. She is a true success story. At the time, I got the impression that she wrote romantic suspense novels, which are not my first go-to read. After seeing her again at another conference, I decided I needed to read one of her books. Since I enjoy romances set in a small town involving family dynasties, I chose Maid for Love, the first book in her McCarthy’s of Gansett Island series. I’m so glad I found this book!

Maddie Chester is an unwed mother and has been looked down on by the citizens of the island since her high school days. Rumors abound concerning her supposed promiscuous ways. Maddie has no faith in men and her one foray into having a relationship leaves her pregnant and alone, further destroying her trust in the male species.

Mac McCarthy has returned home for a visit after being away for years and steps off a curb causing Maddie Chester to crash her bike and that moment changes his life and outlook forever. Feeling responsible for Maddie’s accident, he barges his way into her life determined to help her during her recovery. His father had told him that when he met the right woman he would know instantly, and Mac knows that Maddie is that woman.

Will Mac break through the barrier surrounding Maddie’s heart, or will his take charge attitude and determination to right the wrongs concerning her reputation send her away forever?

Maid for Love is a moving portrayal of a how a rumor can affect a person’s life, changing the course of one’s very existence. That is the case with Maddie. I found her story heart-breaking. I loved Mac’s dedication to right the wrong that happened years before, even if he goes about it in the wrong way.

Maddie is an endearing heroine. Her character is a waif with a touch of spunky kid rolled together. Even though she should resent her nine month old son, Thomas, for making her difficult life harder, her love for him is fierce and protective. I could feel her pain over what has shadowed her life since she was a teenager, but I admired her determination to rise above and carry on.

Mac is a hero that women love, and I’m one of them. He’s protective, caring and loves whole-heartedly. I fell in love with him right away. When his misguided attempt to restore Maddie’s standing in their small community backfires in his face, tears clouded my eyes. At first he is bewildered over Maddie’s reaction, but once he realizes his mistake, he fights to re-gain her trust.

Since I listened to the audio version as well as reading this book, I want to mention the narration. Eva Kaminsky reads with a great deal of emotion, helping to pull me into the story. She gives the male characters a bit of a raspy quality that helps distinguish them from the female characters. I would have enjoyed it more if she had been able to make each voice unique to the character, but I’m sure that is difficult for many narrators.

I truly enjoyed Maid for Love, and I have already bought the next book in this great series. I look forward to reading Janey and Joe’s romance. If you haven’t read books by Marie Force and enjoy stories set in small towns, then Maid for Love is a great introduction to Ms. Force’s enchanting books. Happy reading!

Thanks M.S. Spencer

Lady Overton's Perilous Journey

Book Review: The Inheritance by Morgan K. Wyatt


Spotlight on Morgan K. Wyatt’s new release. I appreciate you stopping by my blog today. Make sure you enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the bottom of this post to have a chance to win a $40 Amazon/B&N gift card!

The Inheritance by Morgan K. Wyatt


Publisher & Release Date: Sweet Cravings Publishing, May 30, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, Small Town USA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 205 pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweet Heart

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Melody’s work as a hospice nurse both gives her life purpose and rips her heart out when her patients die. Her latest client left her his lakeside home. After years of living in foster homes, Melody seizes the opportunity for a real home. 

Her happy residence comes to an abrupt halt when her benefactor’s missing nephew, Levi, shows up. A bomb shattered his leg and life, which left him in need of a safe place to figure out the rest of his life. The will leaves the house to both of them, but only if they cohabit for a year. Otherwise, the house goes to a third party.

Melody detests Levi for never writing or visiting his dying uncle. Levi considers Melody little more than a gold digger similar to his ex-wife. There’s no way he’ll let her have his inheritance.

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Vikki’s Musings

When I accepted The Inheritance from the author, via Goddess Fish Promotions for an honest review, I did not realize it was by an author I was already familiar with. I had read some of her Cougar series and thoroughly enjoyed them. When I read the book description for this book, it appealed to me because I always enjoy military romances. The Inheritance is an enjoyable read that follows a budding romance between a wounded warrior and a hospice nurse.

Melody Gibbons was abandoned by her mother as a very young child, was shuffled from one foster home to another as she grew to adulthood. As an adult, she lives a quiet, withdrawn life as a hospice nurse. When she finds out she has inherited half of the property of one of her hospice patients, she is thrilled. The only problem is: the other half owner is Roy McDaniel’s nephew, a man who couldn’t even be bothered to come see his dying uncle.

Levi McDaniels has returned from the war zones, severely wounded in body and soul. What woman would ever want a man with only one leg? If that was not bad enough, he finds out his wife only married him for his enlistment bonus. When he receives word of his inheritance, and finds out about the hospice nurse inheriting as well, he is determined to contest and keep the gold-digger from inheriting. A woman he is sure is just like his unfaithful, money hungry soon to be ex-wife.

When the will is read, it clearly states that Melody and Levi must live in the house together for one year before either can sell their interest in the dwelling and land. Can two wounded souls learn to live together, and find a love beyond what either of them ever imagined?

The Inheritance is a well-written story that gives the reader clear insight into the workings of Melody’s mind and a glimpse of Levi’s as well. Their goals, motivations and conflict are very clear. Their romance is tender and sweet. I loved the dog, Charmer, and he lightened the sad story of the characters’ lives. Those light-hearted moments had me chuckling at Charmer’s antics.

Much of the book is written through Melody’s introspection and shows how she lives on a daily basis, taking care of patients in the last stages of their illnesses. Most of it is very sad to say the least. In fact, Melody’s character has a very sad life, no wonder she has such low self-esteem. If ever a heroine deserves a “happily ever after,” it’s Melody.

I can see that Ms. Wyatt did a great deal of research for the book and it really shows what a hospice nurse has to deal with every day. Some of the scenes between Melody and her patients are quite touching, if heart-breaking. They had me growing teary-eyed a couple of times.

However, this is somewhat of a slow moving book. At times, I became a bit anxious to get on with the romance. The couple does not have a lot of interaction, since most of the book is narrative. There is very little time spent getting to know one another. Hence, I struggled with them as a couple. It kept me from becoming fully vested in the love story.

Nonetheless, the book does have a satisfying ending, even though a few questions remained unanswered, especially the part about Levi’s wife. If you enjoy a slowly developing, sweet romance with two characters that have wounded hearts, each of them trying to move forward into the light, then you will enjoy The Inheritance. Happy reading!


He was an attractive man and a young one too. When was the last time she’d met a man under sixty-five? If she didn’t count her former roommate’s fiancé and jerky friend, it had been months. It could be the reason behind her over reaction to a man who was her nemesis. He’s the enemy. Overlook the nice packaging, the strong jaw, the ripped arms, and the attitude. He’s trouble with a capital T. Don’t even let him get near the front door.

Charmer’s ears went up, hearing something, and he dashed in the direction of Levi. The leash slipped out of Melody’s hands as her canine loped across the yard. Would he welcome the man with a lopsided doggy grin or roll over on his back for a belly rub? With her luck, Charmer would deliver the house key. Then again, maybe the lawyer already had.

Her eyes drifted over to the lawyer, hoping Mr. Douglas would enlighten her about the nature of the visit, although she had her suspicions.

Levi’s voice had her attention whipping back to the man. “Hey, what’s the stupid dog doing?”

Her dog balanced on three legs while he hiked the fourth, thoroughly drenching Levi’s leg. Worried he might hurt her dog, she rushed forward, knelt beside the dog, and wrapped her arms protectively around his body. “Please don’t hurt him. He’s old and already has enough trouble walking with his arthritis.” Her eyes searched Levi’s face. Would he take out his anger on her instead?

Author Bio & Social Media Links:AuthorPhoto_TheInheritance

Morgan K Wyatt believes in happy endings. When things don’t end well, she holds to the familiar Indian saying: If things don’t work out, then it’s not the end because everything works out in the end. She considers herself living proof after escaping an abusive marriage; she found and married her soul mate. While not every day is sunshine and roses, she writes about the possibility of flowers and chance meetings between strangers.

Her reputation as a plant rescuer has people dropping sick and dying plants at her house, and then speeding off in the night. The magic ingredient that brings the plants back to life is love and Miracl-gro. Morgan would love to hear from you. If you have a name for a character, cute dog pics, or gardening info, even better.


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