Theresa Linden, author of Anyone But Him, Interview #VBT

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Theresa Linden is the author of the New Christian Mystery, Anyone But Him.  Check out my previous blog post for my review and more information about this wonderful book!

Anyone but Him is told entirely from Caitlyn Summer’s perspective. What is Caitlyn like?

Caitlyn is one of the characters in my West Brothers young adult series, but she is all grown up in this new adult story. She is a faithful Christian who loves her life and her family, and she’s always been full of bubbly hope. She doesn’t swear, never did drugs, and she had always intended to save herself for marriage.

In this story, she wakes up in a nightmare situation, and she just can’t come to terms with it. She is miles from home and she is married to a boy she never even liked in high school. He’s vain and egocentric. And he’s always had drastically lower standards than her. And because she’s always romanticized her future, knowing what kind of man she would one day marry, she can’t believe this is her life.

Action scenes takes place in woods that seem unfamiliar to Caitlyn. And another scene takes place on the beach. What made you choose North Carolina for the location in this story?

For the story to work, I needed a location that was far away from where Caitlyn grew up, in South Dakota. As a young woman, I spent one summer in North Carolina with friends. I loved the beauty and diversity of the landscape, with forests and beaches and orange dirt. And I enjoyed the relaxed pace and listening to the southern accents. So North Carolina seemed like a perfect fit for this story!

What makes this mystery romance different?

Well, at first it doesn’t seem like this story will have a detective, but it does. And while all mysteries have elements which remain unknown or unexplained until the end, this story has more than a few elements. For one, Caitlyn wakes with amnesia. She has no idea what caused the amnesia and no one else seems to know either. The even bigger problem for her is this man she wakes up next to. He claims to be her husband, but she can’t imagine how she would’ve married a man like him. The stakes are raised when her husband’s younger brother arrives on the scene. She remembers being in love with him. Why hadn’t she married him? Throughout this story, while trying to solve these mysteries, Caitlyn finds herself evaluating her faith and her understanding of what marriage truly is.

While trying to understand how she ended up married to him, Caitlyn’s most important question becomes “Who changed?” Has she discarded the values she cherished or has her husband become the kind of man she dreamed of? What lesson is there for all of us in how we see each other, particularly those we’ve known a long time?

Sometimes it is easier to overlook faults in a stranger than in one who is close to us. It can be easier to offer kindness and mercy to a stranger as well. We see our loved ones’ strengths and weaknesses day after day. We expect them to act a certain way in various situations. So it can be difficult to recognize when someone we think we know so well has changed for the better. We too often jump to conclusions based on a person’s past behavior. I suppose this is because we have a vested interest in our family members. We feel responsible for them and want to help them become better people. But it’s important that we recognize the work of God in their lives as well.

What do you most want readers to take away from Anyone But Him?

We’ve all made mistakes and sometimes very big ones, but God is bigger than our mistakes and He can lift us up and set us on a new and beautiful path. I hope this story offers readers hope and encouragement that stays with them for a while.

You’ve written discussion guides for your other books. What extras do you have planned for this one?

This book will also have a book club discussion guide and discounts for bulk purchases. Visit my website for details. I also plan to share the recipes of the food that characters prepare throughout the story, including Chicken Florentine, apple crepes, and authentic Mexican tamales. I’ll share these recipes on my blog and website. Oh, and readers will finally get to find out what Jarret put in the eggs, as mentioned in chapter 3.

What is coming up next for you?

I am currently writing the next two books in the West Brothers series. The first one, Roland West, Outcast, is about a shy teen who fears speaking up, but when his best friend begs him to look into the vandalism of an outcast’s house, his detective skills may be the only way to find answers. The second one is a Confirmation story. I don’t have a working title or story blurb for that one yet, but I want it to really bring the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation to life through the West brothers.

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An Open Book – April 2018

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month!

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Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden

Synopsis: A New Adult Mystery Romance   Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

My review:  I absolutely loved this book!  It pulled me in immediately and kept me enthralled until I finished it (yes, in one sitting!)  Anyone But Him is exactly what Catholic Fiction should be: enthralling, entertaining, believable and with a beautiful pro-life message. Highly recommend!  (Longer review coming soon!)

Eugenios

Eugenios by Julian Bauer

Synopsis: Eugenios is a novel for those interested in early Christianity and the environment in which it began. Most interesting is a tale of Christ’s burial shroud, how it came to be weaved and how it came to be used. The importance of this shroud is pointed out in the book’s epilogue: “The largest extant piece of textile that has come down to us from antiquity is the shroud of Turin, a linen cloth displaying a negative image of a crucified man bearing all the wounds corresponding in every respect with the gospel’s account of Christ’s wounds. Virtually no one believes that a Middle-Ages forger could have conceived of, much less designed and produced, such an image. It is a mystery. Is this evidence of His resurrection?”

My review:  I enjoyed this book, although it is very thick historically, with numerous historical facts and backstory.  However, it is written well and I learned a lot. 4 out of 5 stars. Recommend for those who enjoy historical/biblical fiction.

Paul's Prayers

Paul’s Prayers by Susan Anderson

Synopsis: Paul’s Prayers is the story of a moderately autistic young man navigating life with a spiritual intelligence that runs further than most people can walk. Written by Paul’s mother, this insightful memoir gives readers a unique look at the challenges and joys of raising her autistic son in a large Catholic family.

The first of six children, Paul’s early years were an exciting and confusing time for his parents. At the time, very little information on autism and its early signs was available, and the fact that the disorder is a spectrum ranging from mild to severe was not widely known.

Throughout this intimate memoir, every day is a challenge to be met with creative thinking, patience, and faith. Paul finds comfort in contemplative prayer and the support of his family when the world around him becomes too chaotic. As her son grows up, Susan Anderson learns how to cope with autism and embrace the importance of faith in the things unseen. Her family’s experience is a beacon of light for those who find themselves on a similar path.

My review: I enjoyed this sometimes heart-wrenching memoir of a mother with a son who has autism.  Some sections were enjoyable and others were difficult to read. Overall,  it is an interesting account of what it’s like to raise an autistic child.  Recommend.

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Taking Care of Your Family’s Health and Well-being, Saints to Turn to and the Catholic Faith by Cascia Talber

Synopsis: Combining healthy living and the Catholic faith in a book has never been done before until now.

Using diet recommendations for your age group, learning how to spot mental health issues, exercising your brain and body and praying to the saint or saints who are patrons for your health issue, can bring peace and possibly healing.

We are all on a journey to sainthood. We can use the examples of the saints to teach us how to better understand how to have a healthy mind, get proper nutrition, and get enough physical activity. They are also our friends and will intercede for us when we are troubled, in times of need or struggling with a health issue. This book introduces readers to special saints that can help us on our journey towards healthy living, happiness and eternal life in heaven.

My review: I enjoyed this book, which is more like a “How To” book on health and well being.  It is filled with recipes, exercises, saints’ stories and other helpful information on how to take care of yourself and your family.  Four out of five stars.

Justine

Newearth: Justine Awakens by A.K. Frailey

Synopsis: Found guilty of war crimes, Justine Santana, a Human-Android hybrid is shut down. Taug, an alien from Crestar, must eliminate his father’s mistake—a Human-Cresta crossbreed named Derik. When Taug awakens Justine and charges her with the assignment to kill Derik, he never suspects that she might discover the meaning of love and her intrinsic humanity. Her freedom hangs in the balance. Is she a woman—or a weapon?

My review:  In Justine Awakens, (Newearth #2), Cerulean, a character from Book 1, Last of Her Kind, aides Newearth in her first tottering steps toward freedom. The human android hybrid, Justine, is a multi-layered character. I enjoyed this book very much.  Frailey’s characters are well-defined and the continuing story in the Newearth world is a fascinating one.  Highly recommend both books in the series.