Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Flood

Scripture: Genesis 6:5-8:22

Following Adam and Eve’s initial sin, the wickedness of man increased with each passing year until God was utterly sick of the widespread evil. So He visits Noah and tells him to build an ark; God is about to destroy the whole earth with an enormous flood. Noah does so, preserving the life of his family and the life of each animal species which didn’t already live in water.

Observations: The supernatural might seem a little less obvious in this passage than in some of the ones we have looked at thus far. After all, what is so miraculous about a flood?

Yet when we peer a little closer, how can we not stand in awe of what occurred here? On exactly the same day, all the fountains of the deep (underground pockets of water) burst open at the same time as the floodgates/windows of heaven burst open. Moreover, none of this happens until after Noah completed the ark, gathered the animals (another miracle if you really think about it), and stored sufficient food for all.

If these events had occurred too soon, everything and everyone would have perished. If they had occurred too late, the food would have been consumed (or rotted) with the same result. And if the opening of the foundations and the floodgates had not happened simultaneously, God’s predicted destruction wouldn’t have happened, proving Him a liar.

Significance: We often think of the supernatural as an action or event which defies natural rules. But sometimes, like with Noah’s Flood, what makes the event supernatural isn’t the what but the circumstances under which the what occurred.

So with the Flood, God used natural means (flooding) but in such a way (the amount of flooding) with such precise timing (the simultaneous opening) so as to cause a supernatural event (a catastrophic flood that wiped out mankind).

Therefore, supernatural sometimes employs the natural, and the use of the natural doesn't mean the supernatural isn't at work.  

Friday, February 16, 2018

New Fiction Releases - February 2018

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical:


A Passionate Hope, Hannah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith -- Hannah has spent her life trusting God, loving her husband, putting up with abuse from a second wife and still she has no child--until one day she discovers the secret to her own heart's longings and rejoices in what will soon become God's promised hope. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Contemporary Romance:


Focus On Love by Candee Fick -- In the standalone sequel to Dance Over Me, photographer-turned-actress Liz meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold, but when Ryan shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Love by the Numbers by Laura V. Hilton -- When false allegations by the bishop back home catch up with Lydia and threaten to ruin her reputation, can she clear her name and find lasting happiness? Or will her sunny disposition fade away into heartbreak? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)


Historical Romance:


This Treacherous Journey by Misty M. Beller -- Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing arrest. Innocent of her husband’s crimes, she and her brother hope to make it through the Rockies to Canada for a clean start. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on Simeon Grant’s doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects memories he’s worked hard to forget. Widowed and childless because of his own bad choices, can he overcome the past that haunts him to give her the safety she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron -- Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman speaks of a secret past and castle ruins. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . . But her grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley to unearth its secrets before time silences them forever. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The English Lieutenant's Lady by Evelyn M. Hill -- I’m not your enemy.” He held her gaze, willing her to believe the lie. It’s 1845. Britain and America both claim the Oregon Territory, and neither side is willing to back down. To survive, British Lieutenant Geoffrey Montgomery and American Lia Griggs both are pretending to be someone they're not. The last thing either of them wants is to fall in love. And as the threat of war grows stronger, choosing to stay together could cost them everything they have. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Widow of Rose Hill by Michelle Shocklee -- Widowed during the war, Southern slave owner Natalie Ellis strikes a bargain with a Union Colonel to save her plantation and her son’s inheritance: in exchange for use of her family’s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. Natalie Ellis is everything Colonel Levi Maish loathes: a Southern slave owner. But the plight of the beautiful Widow Ellis stirs to life his compassion and the heart he’d thought hardened by war. While the army camps on her land, Levi finds himself contemplating a future with Natalie and Samuel. But when he learns where her husband perished during the war, he knows a life with Natalie is impossible. How could she ever forgive him for what he’d done in battle on the banks of the Bull Run? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin -- As D-day approaches, an American naval officer and a British Wren work together on invasion plans. But if he succeeds, will he destroy what she loves most? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky -- A determined young aviator who strives to be the first to fly across the English Channel also longs to win the heart of an aspiring journalist who is secretly covering the race across the Channel. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

The Mail-Order Brides Collection by Megan Besing, Noelle Marchand, Donna Schlachter, Sherri Shackelford, Michelle Shocklee, Ann Shorey, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Nine advertisements for brides lead to inconvenient complications in romance. Traveling west alone on a promise of marriage, each woman has her reasons to accept a husband sight unseen. Some are fleeing poverty or abuse while others simply seek hope for a brighter future. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:


High Treason by DiAnn Mills -- CIA Operative Monica Alden and FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson face the challenge of their careers when a Saudi Prince's life is threatened on American soil. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Kill Shot by Susan Sleeman -- As the ballistics and weapon’s expert for the FBI’s special task force nicknamed the White Knights, Rick Cannon has known the Department of Defense was developing self-steering bullets and feared their effects in the hands of the wrong people. Now his fear is coming true. The ammunition been stolen, and the Knights are called in to find the thief and stop the killings. When therapist Olivia Dobbs discovers one of her military clients moments after he is murdered, she becomes both the FBI’s prime witness, and suspect. But with a sniper now training his rifle on her, Rick must recall all the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a kill shot that takes Olivia out. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])


Supernatural Thriller:


The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart -- In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul. (Supernatural Thriller from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Western:


Cheyenne Sunrise by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her? (Western by Mountain Brook Ink)        

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Nephilim, Part 2

Scripture: Genesis 6:1-4

Observations: If we take this passage as referring to supernatural beings and humans, what can we learn? For while the speculation can be fun, in of itself speculation has minimal value. So what can we learn about the supernatural from this passage?
  
  1. At least one race of supernatural being (beyond God) exists. Moreover, this supernatural race is able to interact with the natural realm, including humans. These beings are a created race, just like humans and animals, as implied by the idea of “sons of God,” and the gender of sons implies a masculine gender, or at least masculine characteristics and a masculine appearance to humans. These beings are also very powerful.

  1. The supernatural and the natural can intermingle—but that doesn’t mean we should. These “sons of God” could and did take wives from among the “daughters of men.” But God’s response in verse 3 reveals His displeasure at such an arrangement.

  1. The Nephilim are an  impressive result of this intermarriage. While fiction sometimes portrays the Nephilim as brutish, repulsive, and even grotesque, none of the terms describing them in verse 4 are inherently evil. They were mighty—a Hebrew term used to describe David (1 Samuel 16:18), his mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8), Messiah (Isaiah 9:5), and God Himself (Psalm 24:8). Their other designation, men of renown, is much the same way (e.g. 1 Chronicles 12:30). This implies that the Nephilim may have seemed truly heroic at times. 

Significance: For us the implications of these observations are many. We live in a universe inhabited by not only the natural, but also the supernatural: This supernatural race didn’t just swing by for a brief visit from an alternate universe. They live here and dwell here, sometimes quite visually and interactively with us. Denying this reality or ignoring it will not change that fact. Now we don’t need to panic or obsess over it either, but denying and ignoring the reality of supernatural beings also makes us easier to prey on, use, or manipulate.

At the same time, the lines between the natural and the supernatural exist, and they should not be crossed willy-nilly. God gives us boundaries to keep us safe. This applies to the supernatural as much to any other area of our lives.

Finally, this reminds us that wrong doesn’t always or instantly produce a distasteful result. That is a part of evil’s appeal. The outcome of wrong can look beautiful, desirable, and even good/right. But the end doesn’t justify the means, nor does a good “effect” confirm that the cause was right. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Nephilim, Part 1

Scripture: Genesis 6:1-4

A somewhat mysterious and often disputed passage, this tiny paragraph, wedged between Noah’s genealogy and the account of the Flood, has two common interpretations.

In the first, “the sons of God” refer to the descendents of Seth. These men of godly heritage then took wives from “the daughters of men,” that is, from the descendents of Cain. The result, it seems, were children of mixed spiritual heritage, at least some of whom became known as the Nephilim.

The second interpretation takes a decidedly supernatural bent. “The sons of God” can also refer to a supernatural race that we generally term angels. If this is the case, angels mated with human women, causing them to become pregnant with half-human, half-angel children.

Digging Deeper: Arguments can be made for both interpretations, and this passage is enough ambiguous, the matter can never be definitively decided. Nonetheless, I see several reasons to at least consider the second interpretation, as strange as it seems. I have broken down these reasons into three general areas: Angelic procreation, external evidence, and internal evidence.

Angelic Procreation
1. Spirit beings can cause pregnancies. The primary argument against the angel theory is that angels are spirit and therefore don’t procreate. But there is a big difference between don’t/shouldn’t and can’t. Just because angels are immortal spirits and therefore don’t need to procreate doesn’t mean they can’t procreate.  Let’s face it. God is spirit. Yet He was able to impregnate a human woman, such that the Child would be fully human and fully God. If this is true, can we completely eliminate the possibility that angels could do the same?

2. The natural order can be defied. Yes, God did not create angel to procreate. However, this again doesn’t mean they can’t. Humans weren’t created to have sexual intercourse with animals either. Yet humans can do just that; otherwise God wouldn’t have issued commands concerning that very thing (e.g. Leviticus 18:23). So if we can defy the natural order, how much more a supernatural being?

3. The marriages are one-directional. If both the sons of God and the daughters of men are human, why don’t the marriages go both ways? Why don’t the sons of men also take the daughters of God as wives? But if these are angels and women, then this makes sense. Angels weren’t created to procreate. Humans were. So in order for angels to procreate, it would make senses that they would need women to procreate.

External Evidence
1. The ancients believed this term referred to angels. Just because a view is old doesn’t mean that it is correct. However, there is also something to be said for the original interpretation of a passage derived close to the event, especially when that view is long-held. For alternative interpretations that don’t show up until centuries or millennia afterward often seem to reflect less a search for truth and more a refusal to believe the truth, hence creating the need for an alternative interpretation. In this case, the view that “the sons of men” refer to something other than angels didn’t seem to occur until at least the fourth century A.D. Until that point, this phrase was commonly believed to refer to angels both by Jews and Christians, as witnessed by the Apocrypha, Jewish historian Josephus, and early Christian theologians Tertullian, Ambrose, and Clement of Alexandria. (https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_724.cfm, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_of_God)

2. Mythology supports this idea of intermixing the human and the supernatural. In many mythologies from around the world, there are stories of powerful, supernatural beings, usually called “gods,” impregnating a female human, which then results in a supernaturally gifted human: the Greek’s Hercules (along with dozens of others), the Māori’s Māui, Cú Chulainn in Celtic lore, and the Pandara brothers in Hindu traditions. Since these are myths, we cannot expect that they got the facts 100% straight. But many myths came into existence due to a fact; that is, there is a seed of truth underlying the myth. And when a particular motif is found in the myths of multiple, unrelated cultures, the more likely the myth is founded on a truth. Indeed, this is even one of the proofs cited for the reality of Noah’s Flood—nearly every culture has a story about a catastrophic flood. So if this consistency provides credence for Noah’s Flood, why wouldn’t the same apply here?

3 .The Bible itself defines “sons of God” as angels. This is especially seen in Job (1:6, 2:1, and 38:7). Moreover, the book Job is believed to occur about the same time as Abraham, only a short time after this passage. So it would make sense the same phrase would refer to the same object.

Internal Evidence
1. The sons of God are powerful. The phrase “took wives for themselves, whomever they chose” (v. 2, emphasis mine) implies an irresistible force—the marriages were forced, and possibly polygamous. This idea of forced marriages and polygamy doesn’t fit well with the ways of the godly (which is what the sons of God are, if they refer to humans). Moreover, if the godly are forcing these marriages, that implies they are more powerful than the ungodly. This doesn’t fit with the historical balance of power between the godly and ungodly; usually the ungodly dominates the godly because they are not restricted in the ways the godly are. However, if the “sons of God” refer to angles, this idea of irresistible force makes perfect sense as angels have supernatural power. 

2. God limits the length of life. In verse 3, God declares that humans would have a shortened lifespan. Why did He make this declaration here? It could be due to man’s evilness, but unlike in verse 5 where man’s wickedness is specifically cited as the reason for the Flood, the context here is the intermarriage. Moreover, God emphasizes that man is flesh, an emphasis that would seem unnecessary if only humans were involved. On the other hand, since angels are immortal, it would make sense their mixing with humans would increase the life expectancy of humans. This increased length of life would then logically prompt God’s declaration in verse 3.

3. Finally, the Nephilim were mighty and of renown. If humans were merely marrying humans, why would it create this superhero race? After all, both Cain and Seth descended from Adam and Eve. Why would their descendents intermarrying create the Nephilim? But the endowing of an angel’s supernatural ability on a human would definitely create an abnormally powerful people. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: Cain

Scripture: Genesis 4:1-16

With Adam’s and Eve’s sin, a break between the natural and the supernatural occurred. Now man could no longer approach God freely; sin had created a wedge separating the two. But God didn’t abandon His creation. As if to emphasize this, the next recorded encounter between God and man, after God drove man from Eden, happened between God and Cain—the world’s first murderer.

In that encounter, God challenges Cain to do right, even warning him of sin’s nearness. But Cain doesn’t listen and murders his younger brother Abel. This triggers a second encounter with God, wherein God confronts an unrepentant Cain concerning the murder and then metes out punishment upon Cain.

Observations: God approached Cain and talked with him.

That fact may not seem significant at first glance, because we are so familiar with the story. But think about it: God approached not the godly Abel, but Cain, the brother who wasn’t in a right relationship with God. After all, offerings were intended to bridge the gap between God and man. God’s rejection of Cain’s offering meant the gap remained unbridged. In addition, the fact God rejected Cain’s offering shows Cain was acting in willful disobedience, whatever the particulars may be (see v. 7, where it is said Cain knew what was right). Cain then compounded this disobedience by reacting to the rejection with murderous anger.

Still God approached Cain. Despite Cain living in willful rebellion against God, God came to Cain and spoke directly to him, even knowing Cain would reject His words and murder his brother. What grace, what mercy! Unfortunately, despite such a lavish display on God’s part, Cain went through with murdering Abel and showed utter contempt for God (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”), only repenting when he heard God’s punishment for him.

Significance: Many times we see God’s interaction as limited to the godly, to people who “deserve” to be intimate with God. And when we extend such this thought to the logical conclusion, we decide that if someone who’s living in willful disobedience has an encounter with the supernatural, they encountered the supernatural of the Satanic variety.

Although the godly’s direct encounters with God outnumber the rebel encounters in Scripture, Cain’s meeting with God debunks the idea that God’s encounters are limited to the godly. For in reality, sin divides all of us from God, both the godly and the rebel. None of us can approach God. God, on the other hand, can approach whomever He pleases.

So when dealing with the supernatural, we must consider more than the recipient of the supernatural. While it is more likely for God to approach the godly and Satan the rebel, it is not impossible for God to approach the rebel or “ungodly” as well. Yes, we must “consider the source” when we deal with the supernatural, but this cannot be our only determining factor when deciding the supernatural’s origin. Which is where the rest of Scripture comes in.

This passage also debunks a second common fallacy: It is easy to think that if unbelievers witness a miracle or have a supernatural encounter with God, they will repent and turn to following God. But an encounter with the supernatural may not change anything. In fact, it may even drive the person to greater rebellion: Cain had a direct encounter with God and even talked with Him. Yet despite that, he went out and committed fratricide. In short, neither the miraculous nor the supernatural can change a heart. (Also see Luke 16:31.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Fall

Scripture: Genesis 3

No matter where you cut into this chapter, Genesis 3 oozes the world of the supernatural. We meet a snake who talks, and through him, evil supernatural is introduced to us for the first time. We see objects with supernatural effects (the tree of life, the tree of knowing good and evil) and supernatural properties (the flaming sword). We witness God, a supernatural being, in a natural setting and conversing with a man. We hear the first curses, which change the original order of the natural realm, and we receive the first prophecy. Finally, we witness the first severing of the supernatural from the natural as God drives out man from Eden in a forceful reminder of their now-broken relationship, and we glimpse our first angelic beings (cherubim).

Observations: Genesis 3 is packed with meaning and can reveal much about the supernatural realm. However, I will limit my observations to three main points.

First, there is both good supernatural and evil supernatural in the world. So just because something has supernatural properties or someone is supernaturally gifted or an experience exceeds the bounds of the natural—these aren’t necessarily of the Devil…nor are they necessarily of God. 

This leads me to my second observation: The supernatural, just like the natural, can be abused. God created both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He endowed both trees with their supernatural properties. Since God is perfectly good, He cannot create something evil. Therefore, both of these trees were good, as were their properties. The problem came when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in disobedience—that is, they used the fruit in the wrong way, contrary to God’s instructions.

Finally, as I read this passage, I noticed that the fear of God does not result from the presence of God, but from the presence of sin. Adam and Eve once talked and walked with God freely (see Genesis 2). It was only after they sinned that they ran from God and hid from Him in fear (v.10).

Significance: It is easy to assume from where the supernatural and the miraculous originate from. But in reality, a situation may not be as clear-cut as it appears on the surface. Both good and evil supernatural exist. Both are active in our world today. And because God originally created all, sometimes the good and evil can look similar to each other. Complicating matters further, the supernatural, like the natural, can be twisted and abused; the supernatural can be good but used wrongly. So we must be slow in passing judgment, either in assuming a miracle is from God or that a supernatural act is from Satan. Rather, we must study the rest of Scripture to learn what delineates the two.

And like the source of the supernatural, we are also quick to assume that the fear of God comes from His majestic power and awesome holiness. While these things can and should inspire us to fall on our faces before Him, the reason we fear God is not merely because of Who He is, but because of who we are: sinful people deserving the full wrath of God manifested in the worst punishment He can design.

But God doesn’t desire to punish. He desires a relationship with us, the kind where we can walk and talk with Him. So we should fear God, especially if we refuse the plea bargain He offers us through Jesus Christ, because He will be left with no choice than to extract that horrific punishment that His justice requires. But once our relationship is made right again through Jesus, dread should no longer mark our relationship with Him—not because we are ignorant of the glorious holiness of God, but because we no longer need to fear that holiness. So yes, the fear of God will always be a part of our lives on this side of heaven because sin will also be a part of us. But the more we walk in the truth and live by faith according to the righteousness Christ provided us, the less the dread of God should rule us.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Christian Fiction for a New Year

Here are some of the new Christian fiction releases this month. For more in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:


Her Handyman Hero by Lorraine Beatty -- Reid Blackthorn arrives in Dover on a personal mission—to make sure his terminally ill brother gets a chance to meet his daughter. Deceiving little Lily’s guardian isn’t his intention. Yet once Tori Montgomery mistakes Reid for her new handyman, he knows it’s the only way to be close to his niece. Tori is honoring her friend’s last wish by keeping Lily away from her father’s family. And once she learns who Reid truly is, she realizes there’s too much at stake—including custody of Lily—for her to fall for the former DEA agent. But in keeping a promise, is she losing out on her chance for a happily-ever-after? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin -- It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward. Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Ain’t Misbehaving by Marji Laine -- True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air-conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school daycare in the worst area of town. Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundation’s after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Finding Grace by Melanie D. Snitker -- Single dad Tyler Martin can't be more grateful to the woman who finds his missing daughter. Even though he feels a spark between them, falling in love is a risk he shouldn't take. Too bad chance encounters and his stubborn heart keep trying to convince him otherwise. After escaping a nightmarish relationship, Beth Davenport is content with her safe and blessedly normal life. Yet something about Tyler and his adorable daughter makes her wish for more. With the walls around her heart finally starting to crumble, she's afraid of a future she can't predict. Can they let go of their fear and trust God to lead them to the love they desperately need? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Marrying Mandy by Melanie D. Snitker -- Mandy Hudson swore she'd never marry. Abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandparents, she has a hard time trusting that real love will last. When her grandmother dies, Mandy's shocked to discover a stipulation in the will. Considering marriage to her best friend may be the only way to keep her family's beloved bed-and-breakfast. The loss of his job threatens Preston Yarrow's shaky financial stability. Besides, he can't watch his best friend give up the only real home she's ever known. Frustrated by Mandy's stubborn refusal to let him help, he's certain they are stronger together than they are apart. A marriage of convenience might be crazy... or an answer to both their prayers. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Historical:


Son of Promise by Caryl McAdoo -- Can a wife find the grace to forgive when her husband’s withheld the truth? Travis Buckmeyer has a secret son, and the morning’s come to tell his sweet wife. He hates breaking Emma Lee’s heart. She promised him one ten years ago, but hasn’t been blessed to carry a baby to term. Every miscarriage made the telling harder, but now his clock’s run out. He’s going for his son, praying he won’t lose her. Cody knows who his mother claims his father is, but he’s only interested in getting sprung from reform school then boosting enough from the do-gooder to bust out on his own. Can Travis find redemption, Emma Lee forgiveness, or Cody the love he’s been longing for? (Historical, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:


Hearts Entwined by Mary Connealy, Melissa Jagears, Regina Jennings, and Karen Witemeyer -- Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Love Knot," Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister's arrival by train. Mary Connealy's "The Tangled Ties That Bind" offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede. Regina Jennings offers "Bound and Determined," where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels? And Melissa Jagears' "Tied and True" entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

  A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Kathleen E. Kovach, Paula Moldenhauer, Suzanne Norquist, Donita Kathleen Paul, Donna Schlachter, and Pegg Thomas -- For seven bachelors, this bouquet of brides means a happily ever after. Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

 A Mother For His Family by Susanne Dietze -- Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for. All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

His Forgotten Fiancee by Evelyn M. Hill -- Liza Fitzpatrick is stunned when her fiancé finally arrives in Oregon City — with amnesia. Matthew Dean refuses to honor a marriage proposal he doesn’t recall making, but Liza needs his help now to bring in the harvest, and maybe she can help him remember… Matthew is attracted to the spirited Liza, and as she tries to help him regain his old memories, the new ones they’re creating together start to make him feel whole. Even as he falls for her again, though, someone’s determined to keep them apart. Will his memory return in time to save their future? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White -- Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I--to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales. Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe. But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Mystery:


Surgeon's Choice by Richard L. Mabry, MD -- Dr. Ben Merrick thought his biggest problem was getting his fiancé's divorced parents into the same room for the wedding--and then, people started dying. (Mystery, Independently Published through White Glove)


Romantic Suspense:


Innocent Lies by Robin Patchen -- Desperate to be safe from the man who held her captive and ruined her life, Kelsey must ensure her child is protected before she can take her enemy on. But a string of bad luck gets her arrested and lands her face-to-face with the only man she’s ever loved—the only man who can destroy all her plans. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Cold Truth by Susan Sleeman -- When research chemist Kiera Underwood receives the cryptic phone call about her twin brother, she tries to contact him to no avail. Her twin sense tingles, warning her that something is wrong. Kiera’s not prepared when an attempt is made on her life and Blackwell Tactical operative Cooper Ashcroft delivers her second shock of the day. Someone killed the supervisor at the research lab where her brother works and stole a deadly biotoxin. The main suspect? Her brother, and Blackwell Tactical has been hired to bring him in. If that wasn’t shocking enough, she’s suspected of colluding with him. Setting out to prove herself and her brother is innocent, she is almost abducted before Ashcroft rescues her. He’s faced with the reality that she’s telling the truth and someone has likely abducted her brother—perhaps killed him—and now Kiera’s very life is in danger, too. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)