Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection

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Blog Stops

November 1: Simple Harvest Reads
November 2: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
November 3: Bibliophile Reviews
November 3: Smiling Book Reviews
November 5: A Greater Yes
November 6: Artistic nobody
November 7: cherylbbookblog
November 8: Jeanette’s Thoughts
November 9: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner (Spotlight)
November 9: inklings and notions
November 10: Lighthouse Academy
November 11: The Scribbler
November 12: Karen’s Krayons
November 13: Daysong Reflections
November 14: Splashes of Joy
November 14: Blogging With Carol

About the Book

Blue Ribbon Brides
Click to purchase

Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man?
 1-Requilted With Love by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1889...North of Lansing, Michigan....Sarah Richmond is hopeful of winning a Blue Ribbon as she enters her quilt in the Michigan State Fair and knows exactly what she will do with the winnings—donating it for a chance at getting better medical care in her home town. Grant is a balloonist - dangerous work - and developing an engine to hopefully make them more steerable. He is more than willing to look after the lovely Miss Sarah and protect her from all the leering jerks at the fair, and also protect her from knowing the truth about his occupation. But what will happen when she discovers the truth? Will she be brave enough to face her fears? And will she win the blue ribbon (and prize money) for her quilt? Will Grant earn enough money selling balloon ride tickets to pay his bills? 

My thoughts: Requilted with Love is a cute story set around a quilt that took five years to make... I was a bit confused why she'd want to donate money to a facility that provided such shoddy care, I'd be more wanting to fire everyone and hire competent workers, but it was explained later in the book. Miss Sarah is still a much nicer person than me though in regards to that. She has the gift of mercy and service and is quick to step in. Grant is a dear hero, kind and considerate, though not weak, even when he gives in. I enjoyed getting to know both these characters. Enjoyed the historical information in the author's notes, and that a mutual friend of both Ms. Pagel and I shared was honored by having a character named after her. 

2-Seven Medals and a Bride by Angela Breidenbach
Fair in 1893...Bettina is a Chicago native with a degree in botany and she's interested in making contacts. Luke is a mine owner from Montana and all the ladies with him from Montana are searching for a bride for him. Bettina is their first choice. But she isn't even remotely interested in a miner. What is a man and matchmakers to do? 

My thoughts: This is a fun story that had some laugh-out-loud moments. I loved this story, and couldn't read it fast enough. It was fun reading about the world fair in Chicago and Luke's efforts to find Bettina after meeting her on the ferry. 

3-A Taste of Honey by Darlene Franklin
Spruce Hill, Vermont 1896...Edith Grace harvests honey from the bee hives in the meadow between her property and her neighbor, Mr. Oscar. She is experimenting with the honey in different recipes to come up with the perfect recipe hoping to win a blue ribbon at the upcoming state fair. However, Mr. Oscar's son, Grant has other ideas and they don't include Edith using “his” honey. He wants to plow the land under and use it for crops. Will they come up with a workable compromise?

My thoughts: This story was really cute and fast paced. I enjoyed getting to know Edie and Grant and their different personalities. I loved how things had been worked out between previous generations--and I won't say how so I won't give things away.  This story held my interest all the way through and I had to keep reading once I started it.  Parts seemed a little contrived, but it needed that to be able to work things out in fifty pages. A really good story. .  

4-Altered Hearts by Gina Welborn
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 1908 county fair...Reba has dreams of making beautiful hats and selling them in the city--where she wants to live. Levi loves horticulture, but has a sensible head and is committed to family. Reba is prepared to throw her family over to reach her dreams. 

My thoughts:  I love hats and always have. Remember going with my mom to a hat shop in St. Louis, though when I was a young girl hats weren't as showy as the ones in this story.  I admired Reba for following her dream but wish she wouldn't have crushed so many people in the process. Levi -- I get him. He's like my dad and my oldest son, slow to act but putting a lot of thought into their actions before they decide.  I really liked this story...  

5-Better with Butter by Jennifer AlLee
Fallon, Nevada 1916... Ella and her father run a dairy and Ella's boyfriend Max used to work there but he sold over to a margarine company.  When they meet each other at the fair, sparks fly, especially when new-fangled meets old-fashioned. Will they find common ground? 

My thoughts:  A cute story. I liked it, I liked Max - and Ella, but I do not like margarine (but will admit it is easier to spread than butter) and I hated that that product threatened the dairy industry so badly. The story ended without closure which really annoyed me and left me confused. But up until then it was really good. .

6-Driven to Distraction by Becca Whitham
Western Washington Fair Puyallup Valley, Washington 1918...Tragedy struck both Jolene Caplan and Robert Montgomery's families a year earlier resulting in anger, bitterness and unforgiveness between the two families. But Robert is back from War and Jolene is being pressured to accept a proposal from a Frenchman. Will happen when Robert and Jolene meet again?

My thoughts: I'll be honest. Auto racing is not my cup of tea. I don't relate to a woman at home in an oil pit. Just me there. And the hatred and anger and fighting -- and Jolene's personality and ... well, this is not my favorite story. It was well-written. And this is all just me. I know other women will disagree.  Just as real life auto races give me a headache and make me feel sick, this story did the same.  Probably all psychological. And Jolene tends to be very rash and react without thinking...   

7-First Comes Pie by Niki Turner
Colorado 1920...Rifle's Apple Pie Days annual festival is coming and Lorelei Boyd plans on entering a contest-winning pie to save her family's sugar beet farm from ruin. Emmett Dewey caught her "stealing" apples but is attracted to the sweet pie-baker. But he hasn't time for a relationship -- he needs to fix up the property and sell it for a profit. Cute Miss Boyd isn't enough to make him stick around -- or is she?

My thoughts: This was a sweet story. Lorelei was a true heroine, kind, gentle and loving, and Emmett a hero- though a bit blundering. I  loved the sparks between them, and how Lorelei had the gift of mercy and a servant-ness to her so willing to go out of her way to help others. Lorelei is also really creative and that was fun.  I loved this story and it ended with a happy sigh. 

8-Front Page Love by Tiffany Amber Stockton
Douglas, Wyoming state fair...Paige Callhan arranges items to be judged in the Agriculture Hall. Paige meets Andrew Lawrence, a reporter from the Denver Post covering important aspects of the fair and sparks fly. 

My thoughts; This is a slower moving story, but I enjoyed getting to know Paige and Andy. It was fun the way they "met" the second time. Both main characters were very sweet and kind, and it was a lovely moment when Paige is surprised at the ribbon ceremony. I thought at first her boss didn't like her, but that didn't seem to be the case at the end.  Good read. 

9-Competing Hearts by Cynthia Hickey
1930 Arkansas...Annie Mae Thompkins enters a quilt and her childhood friend Jonathan Mercer enters his pig. Things don't go as planned....

My thoughts: This book wasn't as out-of-control as most of Ms. Hickey's stories I've read. This one almost seemed calm and quiet compared to her usual style. It didn't like the main characters very well and they weren't as fleshed out as other stories, Not one of the best stories in the book, but I did appreciate that it wasn't as over-the-top as I've come to expect from her. 

Over-all thoughts: First, the disclaimer. "I won a print copy of this book in a contest. I was not asked to review.. All opinions are my own." That done, A good collection with a wide assortment of really top-notch stories. I like these collections and am glad Barbour is doing them. Great cover, too.  4.16 stars for the collection. 

About the Authors

Jennifer AlLee believes the most important thing a woman can do is discover her identity in God—a theme that carries throughout her stories. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and RWA’s Faith, Hope and Love Chapter. When she’s not spinning tales, she enjoys board games with friends, movies, and breaking into song for no particular reason. Jennifer lives with her family in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, Nevada. Please visit her at

Angela Breidenbach is a bestselling author, host of Grace Under Pressure Radio, and the Christian Author Network’s president. And yes, she’s half of the fun fe-lion comedy duo, Muse and Writer, on social media.
Note from Angela: “I love hearing from readers and enjoy book club chats. To drop me a note or set up a book club chat, contact me at Let me know if you’d like me to post a quote from your review of this story. If you send me the link and your social media handle, I’ll post it to my social media with a word of gratitude including your name and/or social media handle, too!”
For more about Angela’s books (especially more Montana-inspired romances) and podcast, or to set up a book club chat, please visit her website:
Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram: @AngBreidenbach
Facebook Author Page:
Bestselling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online at
Cynthia Hickey grew up in a family of storytellers and moved around the country a lot as an army brat. Her desire is to write about real, but flawed characters in a wholesome way that her seven children and five grandchildren can all be proud of. She and her husband live in Arizona where Cynthia is a full-time writer.

Carrie Fancett Pagels is a multi-published award-winning author of Christian historical romance. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! She resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which is perfect for her love of history. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time!

TIFFANY AMBER STOCKTON has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today she is an award-winning author, speaker, social media consultant, and a freelance website designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son and a vivacious Flat-coated retriever named Roxie. Her writing career began as a columnist for her high school and college newspapers. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Historical Romance Writers. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards, and in 2009, she was voted #1 favorite new author for the Heartsong Presents book club. You can read more about her at her website.

Niki Turner is a novelist, journalist, and blogger. Her first completed manuscript earned second place in the Touched By Love 2009 contemporary category romance contest. She writes for local newspapers and won second place for best agriculture story at the 2013 Colo­rado Press Association annual convention. She is a coblogger at Niki is the president of the Western Slope chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Connect with Niki on Facebook or Twitter, and visit her website for information on her other books:
ECPA- bestselling author Gina Welborn worked for a news radio station until she fell in love with writing romances. She serves on the American Christian Fiction Writers Foundation Board. Sharing her husband’s love for the premier American sportscar, she is a founding member of the Southwest Oklahoma Corvette Club and a lifetime member of the National Corvette Museum. Gina lives with her husband, three of their five Okie-Hokie children, two rabbits, two guinea pigs, and a dog that doesn’t realize rabbits and pigs are edible. Find her online at!
Becca Whitham (WIT-um) is a multi-published author who has always loved reading and writing stories. After raising two children, she and her husband faced the empty nest years by following their dreams: he joined the army as a chaplain, and she began her journey toward publication. Becca loves to tell stories marrying real historical events with modern-day applications to inspire readers to live Christ-reflecting lives. She’s traveled to almost every state in the U.S. for speaking and singing engagements and has lived in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Alaska.  She can be reached through her website at


To celebrate their tour, The Blue Ribbon Brides authors are giving away an award winning themed basket that included a quilt and an Amazon Kindle Fire!
Be sure to comment on this blog post below. If we have ten commentors (not including the authors), I will be picking one person to win a book!

Guest Post A

Welcome to the Celebrate Lit Blog Hop!!!
Carrie Fancett Pagels
Gina Welborn is the brainchild of this collection. The majority of the authors had participated in another collection with her and she got the notion of doing a fair-themed collection set at either state fairs or county fairs and the heroine going for the Blue Ribbon! We all agreed that it sounded like great fun! So Gina threw out the idea to us and we each picked the state we wanted and then the type of Blue Ribbon activity our heroines would have. Fortunately, we all chose different things!
Why I wrote “Requilted with Love” for the collection:
I am from Michigan, so I immediately thought of the Michigan State Fair. And when I go to the fair, I love to go to the Quilting Pavillions and my mother was an excellent quilter so I grew up sleeping under beautiful quilts and have many of my own that she made. For my novella, “Requilted with Love,” I got the idea of having a wedding quilt requilted with appliqués because my mother had made me a gorgeous wedding ring quilt for my first engagement. When we broke up, she held onto it. Later I told her, Mom, I’m not getting married – how about you just send it on to me, and she did. Then when Jeff and I got married, she made us a beautiful appliquéd quilt. I put those two together, so that my heroine, Sarah Richmond, whose first two fiancés died, has requilted atop the wedding ring quilt and is trying to win the Blue Ribbon as a vehicle to promote her wish for better medical care in upper Michigan, where she is from. Gina had suggested I include a balloonist, thinking that would be a fun addition at the fair. So Grant, my hero, is a balloonist who is also an engineer – but Sarah is confused by his uniform and thinks he is a state fair groundskeeper!

Guest Post B

From Gina Welborn:
Bravery God’s Way
Naturally brave people exist. I’m not one of them. And I think I’m all right with that. Or at least I used to think that I’m no brave. As I started writing “Altered Hearts” (Blue Ribbon Brides Collection, Barbour, 11/16), I finished reading Let’s Be Brave by Annie K. Downs. In it she writes:
To see yourself the way God sees you is the first step in being brave. If you are seeing yourself the way God sees you, then you can see your strengths and weaknesses. And you can see they are different from mine. You can see the unique ways you are wired and the rare combination of qualities and desires that make you uniquely you. And you, my friend, have a unique call to be brave.”
In the beginning of my Blue Ribbon Brides novella, my heroine’s father tells her, “You are braver than I have ever been.” She’s also brave than I have ever been. Then again, maybe we demonstrate our bravery differently. I can’t help but remember the day my oldest son’s choir teacher belittled him and his friends in front of the whole class. She said, “These are the failures in life.” I could have said nothing. I chose to be brave and have a talk with her. Not only did she apologize to my son (and he to her), she also apologized to the class.
For my son’s 18th birthday, he gave me a letter with 18 reasons why he loved me. One of those reasons—for standing up to his choir teacher and helping raise his grade from a C- to an A.
Bravery begins with seeing yourself for how God sees you.
According to Colossians 1:22, God sees me-you-us as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach.
That right there is enough to make us brave!

Guest Post C

By Jennifer AlLee
Have you ever done something for a really good reason, but when you looked back, you realized that may have been when your problems began? That’s pretty much what happens to Max and Ella, the main characters of “Better with Butter!” Ella dreamed of creating images in clay, stone, marble. Instead, she’s making butter sculptures all because of one crazy, well-intentioned idea to garner publicity for the family dairy. Max grew up on a farm, and after years of working at the dairy, he wanted out. So he left to work for the Joy Margarine Company. Trouble is, he didn’t just leave the dairy, he left Ella, a move he’s regretted ever since. When Max and Ella find themselves both pushing their products at the Nevada State Fair, sparks fly, in more ways than one. The attraction between them is definitely still there, but it’s buried under layers of hurt and mistrust. The decisions they make at the State Fair will be a lot bigger than winning a blue 4ibbon. They’ll change Max and Ella’s lives.

Guest Post D

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…
By Angela Breidenbach
In Seven Medals and a Bride, Bettina enjoys the new inventions on display at the Columbian Expedition. That’s the name of the World’s Fair in 1893. The entire fair grounds were built on a marsh in Chicago and never expected to last more than the six months of the event. All the buildings sparkled a brilliant white, and so it was dubbed The White City. Although the “city” wasn’t expected to last beyond that event, many of the inventions did—so much so that they became household staples. Do you know what some of those inventions are that you use regularly today?

  • Electricity! The White City was so bright it dazzled the world, but the massive building that powered the lights was plagued by noise and fires all that summer.
  • The telephone—people were able to place calls in booths inside The White City.
  • Shredded Wheat—you eat that, right? (Okay, I know it’s not your favorite cereal, but did you know cereal wasn’t common before it was introduced at the Columbian Expedition?)
  • Coca-cola—it was a huge hit! But back then it was also used as a medicinal in the syrup form. Did your grandmother give you a teaspoon or two for upset stomach? No? Mine did. Coca-cola syrup became a medicinal staple due to excellent marketing.
  • Cracker Jacks—the original form that debuted was pretty sticky. It wasn’t until a few years later that the company managed to bake the confection into a dryer, less sticky form in order to mass sell it nationwide. But Chicagoans could order it regularly from a little shop in the middle of town before the World’s Fair ever opened.

Little survives today of The White City splendor. A few buildings that have been refurbished and turned into museums stand as a memory. But flip on your lights, open your fridge for a soda, and check your cupboards for that caramel treat to take to the ball game and the spirit of the Columbian Expedition will live on… Psst, be sure to share a little Americana Past with your children.

Guest Post E

First Comes Pie – History of Apple Pie Days
Niki Turner
In First Comes Pie, Lorelei Boyd is preparing to enter the Apple Pie Days Contest in Rifle, Colorado. Apple Pie Days began in 1908 in Rifle, predating the Garfield County Fair, which is still held in Rifle, even though it’s not the county seat. The first Apple Pie Days was a celebration of the construction of a bridge across the Colorado River in conjunction with the apple harvest. Someday I’ll find time to write about the woman who operated the ferry that hauled people back and forth across the Colorado River before that bridge was built! That’s the problem with historical research… the more research you do, the more story ideas you find!
The idea for First Comes Pie came from an interview I conducted with an elderly couple for a newspaper column. The couple shared their memories of the Colorado River valley being home to thousands of acres of orchards, farms, and agricultural production. Today most of those orchards are gone, and the sugar beet farms have been replaced with hay fields. Then I learned about Apple Pie Days, and the germ of an idea blossomed into a story.
Every year, each woman in the Rifle area was asked to bring six home-baked apple pies to town in September. Free coffee and pie were served to all in attendance. Thousands of pies and thousands of gallons of coffee were consumed, and as with most community events, activities began to be added. Eventually there was a parade, rodeo, dance, and plenty of excitement downtown.
Although I couldn’t find evidence that there was ever a contest for the best pie, the local museum has a framed picture of the first Apple Pie Queen on display. Miss Blanche Grace Goodrich was chosen as the first Apple Pie Queen in 1909. In 1910 she married the Texaco Oil Consignee in Rifle and, after his death, operated the oil company with her son Jack. She passed away at the age of 98. Her photo in the museum speaks a thousand words, in my opinion. I like to think Lorelei “inherited” a little bit of that attitude!

Tour Reminders

  • Post on Blog – Be sure to include book information, author information, giveaway, review, blog stops.
  • Be sure all pictures and links are active and working
  • Post on commercial sites (Amazon, Goodreads, Lifeway, CBD, etc)
  • Submit your review
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Tour Information

Link to purchase book:
Link for giveaway:
Giveaway code: a7ea


Caryl Kane said...

Excellent review! I ADORE these collections! I'm so excited for this release!

Deanne Patterson said...

This sounds like such a fun book. I love novellas. The author posts were great.

Trixi said...

Really nice review on each of the stories in this book! Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts and for participating in the blog hop.

This one is most definitely on my want-to-read list :-)

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thank you, Laura, for reading and reviewing the collection. I am not nearly so sweet as Sarah and I had to go back and edit out what I originally had when my critique partner (who is also an editor) told me I was being too harsh! I'd just had a horrid experience with an incompetent medical provider for a family member and I'm afraid grace was lacking in that situation.

Cheryl Baranski said...

Excellent blog post Laura.

Marilyn R. said...

Excellent review for The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection. I want to read this collection to see the prize groom each one won. Thank you for sharing.

Melissa Henderson said...

Thank you for the information about these stories. :-)

Lucy Reynolds said...

Great review. I loved this collection. Beautiful deckled pages.

Gina Welborn said...

Thank you, Laura, for the review! Even more so because you weren't asked. LOL It's nice and helpful to hear what a reader likes and didn't like about a story.

Moocho appreciation for your participation in this blog tour!

Lane Hill House said...

Laura, Thank you for your guest visits! I always like these collections that share authors perhaps for the first time for readers.
Thank you for your review posting and the listing of blog stops for the Blue Ribbon Brides Collection.
Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

Niki Turner said...

That you for being part of this blog hop, Laura, and thank you for your reviews!

Regina said...

A great review! These nine novellas were great!! Written by nine talented and amazing authors!!

Connie said...

Thanks for being on the tour. I enjoyed your review.

Donna Brookmyer said...

Thanks for these great reviews and giveaways. I love reading collections such as this! I can hardly wait to read these stories!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

CONNIE, thanks for coming by the blog hop! You are the winner on Laura's lovely post!!!