Jeremy's Promise - Review

Jeremy's Promise (1)
Jeremy's Promise
Jeremy's Promise by A.R. Talley 

 The trip that was meant to save Annie and Jeremy’s marriage brought it to near ruin. Now Annie has returned home, frightened and confused. Jeremy, too, is frightened—and angry. What will it take to save their marriage? It’s clear. Jeremy needs to forgive—Annie needs to forget. A promise is made. A tragedy occurs. A second honeymoon is disrupted. A chance encounter brings David Andrews back into Annie’s life. Annie is determined to remain faithful. She’s made a promise she intends to keep—Jeremy’s Promise.


Sigh! I loved David's Song, the first book in this series. I loved the confusion over past love, the rekindling of feelings, the hard choices, and Annie's desire to do what was right. I loved David, a flawed, unhappy man who had it all. I felt bad for Jeremy, the second choice when they were dating who now had to feel like the second choice again. It was heartbreaking for all three of them.

Now time has passed and (SPOILER ALERT**STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW TOO MUCH) Jeremy has passed away.

Call me skeptical, but that just seemed way too convenient. They solid, decent but boring husband is conveniently out of the way so Annie can be a good, faithful wife while longing for David. Granted, she can't completely give herself over to him because she promised Jeremy, something we see in flashbacks to the time they saved their marriage. It just didn't feel believable to me and I hate that I felt that way because I liked David's song so much. Maybe I'd have felt differently if the book hadn't been about Annie and David's attraction. Perhaps a book devoted to Annie and Jeremy without any David at all would have been a good second book, so we as readers could fall in love with Jeremy. He feels like second choice in both books and no matter how the reader tries to rehabilitate him and their marriage in flashbacks, I still just felt like he was the poor, boring second choice and now Annie is having to give up her great love in order to be loyal to the second choice she married.

The writing is still good. It's still interesting and engaging and I wanted to know how it was going to end, but the saving of the marriage told the way it was and the death of Jeremy were just a little too convenient to be believable to me.

Praise for Jeremy's Promise A.R. Talley, gives you a believable look at the struggle of one couple to reconnect and heal their marriage, with dialog which sweeps you into the moment as if you were there with them, experiencing both their pain and recovery. Kudos to the author who has once again produced a book I couldn't put down, as well as one I felt compelled to read multiple times. ~Donna Dech Jeremy's Promise second book in a trilogy by A.R. Talley is an awesome, emotional, romantic, highly recommended, well written story with captivating and engaging characters. ~Debbie Ballard This is not a book I would have picked by myself! I loved it from start to finish! Eagerly waiting for the third book in the trilogy to come out!! I highly recommend this book! ~Goodreads
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Author A.R. Talley 
 A. R. Talley lives in Ohio with her husband Doug and the last of her seven children (the rest have flown the coup.) She loves to cook, read, write, watch movies, play piano, and laugh. Her second favorite vacation involves the British Isles and a small cafĂ© in Scotland.
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Yes, I put the title of this post in all caps with exclamation points because I'm yelling. I'm actually screaming. If you could see me, and if it would help, I'd be jumping up and down and waving my arms. And then I'd get right in your face. Like this [ ] close.

If you don't respond well to yelling, please don't tune me out because what I'm about to tell you is important. So important that hearts are on the line, self-worth is on the line, even lives are on the line.

The community I live in is in crisis. We have an epidemic of young people who, for whatever reason, are in such pain that they're thinking death is preferable to the pain they're enduring. Death! I know we're desensitized by the things we see and hear in movies and on the news, but do you understand what I'm saying? We have kids that are in such pain that they think removing themselves from this life--from their families, their friends, their potential, their future--is preferable. They're going to miss out on laughter, interesting classes, falling in love, holding their own baby, feeling the accomplishment of a good job, great concerts, exciting vacations, contented evenings at home, spiritual experiences, opportunities to serve and uplift others, and so much more.

I'm not privy to every detail about every one of these kids who have committed suicide or have attempted it. I personally know one sweet girl and one young man and I'm aware of their circumstances. I've heard of the circumstances of others, but some I have no idea. What I do know is that for at least some of them, they were the victims of unkindness at the hands of others, and in this digital age, some of that unkindness has been dealt out by their peers via social media. I'm going to share with you a couple of examples that I have first-hand knowledge of.

1. Earlier this year, my son was part of a group message with a bunch of his friends. My son was on his phone silently reading the texts from the group as they came through. Then he groaned.

"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I hate this group message thing."
"The guys are just bagging on each other."
"Really? What are they saying?"

He proceeded to read to me from the string of messages. It started out with boys debating the merits of the different sports they play. Hocky is preferable to soccer or basketball, etc. Then it escalated. Boys were calling each other names. Then a few of them decided to gang up on a boy that figure skates. When he said figure skating required many of the same skills as other sports, he was mocked. And I don't mean a gentle ribbing. I mean things that horrified me.

"Have you said anything?" I asked my son.
"No. I've just been reading them."
"You need to say something."
"I usually just stay out of it. Once in a while I tell everyone they need to stop ripping on each other, but I don't like getting involved. I wish I wasn't on the group message."
I appreciated that he recognized the awfulness of it, but at the moment, when one boy was being targeted in such a cruel way, that wasn't enough.
"Sometimes it's best to stay out of things," I said. "But sometimes you have to say something. You have to stand up for the one who's being bullied. It's what Jesus would do."

My son left the room for a few minutes and when he came back, he said, "Does this sound okay?" Then he read me his message. "Hey you guys, it's late and this has gotten out of control. _____ can play hockey _____ can play baseball, I can play basketball, and _____ can skate. Everyone can do what they like and what they're good at. It's their own choice and calling each other names is lame. It's late and everyone's saying things they probably wouldn't say to each other in person, so let's just turn off our phones and go to bed." Then he turned off his phone.

I cried. Because I'm a baby and I cry all the time and because I was so proud of my son. "Good job. That took courage."
"I prayed about what to say," he said.

2. I know of a girl. She's a talented, beautiful, funny girl. She has shiny, gorgeous hair and one of the prettiest smiles you've ever seen. There was a time in history, before we became completely obsessed with skin and bones, when she would have been called Rubenesque. (the definition of rubenesque is a woman who is full-figured, curvy and shapely. A plus-sized model with beautiful curves is an example of someone who would be described as rubenesque). This girl has a friend who is shaped similarly. A few days ago, she and her friend were devastated when, as they were hanging out with some friends, (she has a crush on one of them) and they got hold of a guy friend's phone (as kids regularly do) and read a text conversation (as kids regularly do). In the conversation, this boy and a couple of his friends (including the crush) were discussing the girls they know. The first line was a little thrilling. "_____ and _____ are cool girls." "Yeah, too bad they're chubby."

And then the conversation continued and two beautiful, talented, funny, clever girls were left feeling horrible about themselves. Incidentally, at least one of them started a diet the next day. This is a sixteen year old girl who should be thinking about dancing, not dieting. She should be laughing, not crying.

When was the last time we picked up our kids' phones and read through their text messages? When was the last time you looked at what they're posting on instagram or facebook or twitter? Don't give me any crap about privacy and trusting your kids. If you're not checking up on them, you can blame trust and privacy until you're blue in the face, but I know what it really is. You're lazy. It's a hassle to go through hundreds of text messages. It takes a lot of time. And then what? If you find something inappropriate, then you have to address it. It's just so much easier to convince yourself that your kids wouldn't do anything wrong. It's just simpler to assume your kids' social media presence is uplifting and above reproach.

But I have news for you. You took on the job of parenting your kids and you have a right to know what they're doing.

Forget rights. You have a freaking obligation. And then when you find something, you have the duty to do something about it. Teach them manners. Teach them kindness. Teach them sympathy and empathy. Teach the value of others.

I suppose it's possible that you never learned those lessons yourself. Maybe you're a rude, jerk who never learned tact and kindness. Maybe you're one of those people who mocks others for their appearance, for things over which they have no control. Maybe you're the kind of person who makes fun of handicaps and deformities. If you're a jerk who condones jerkish behavior, there might be no hope for your or your children.

BUT MOST OF US KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT AND WHAT'S WRONG. So please, please, I beg you, please, let's start paying attention. Let's start holding our kids (and ourselves) accountable. Let's stop being a source of pain for others and instead be a source of kindness and uplifting and good will.

I've spent the last several days mourning as one more boy--a beautiful boy with a world full of potential--chose to end his life. Would a kind word have changed things for him? Maybe.

Pay attention. Check up on your kids. Read their texts. Follow their social media. Make sure they're being kind and if they're not, love them enough to parent them, love them enough to teach them. Social media and cell phones aren't necessities. They're privileges. If they're being used in a cruel way, take them away. Love your kids enough to make them accountable for the privilege.

That's what it all boils down to. Love. The Savior taught love. We need to love enough that we rid our little corner of the world of cruelty and pain.

***To those of you who do monitor your children and take the opportunity to teach them, thank you.***

In the Words of the Pointer Sisters ...

I'm So Excited!

A really cool thing happened today and it's all thanks to you guys.

I was told by several people when I started The Husband Maker Series that I shouldn't be too discouraged if sales dropped significantly with each book. After all, unless it's a series like Twilight or Harry Potter that builds and builds and has all kinds of hyped media behind it, the numbers will probably drop with each one. But that's okay, because I might be able to generate more interest by running promotions and sales when they're all out, so i should keep my chin up.

It's good advice and definitely something I tried to be prepared for.

And then today I opened my preorder report to see how the numbers were comparing with the preorders on the second book (The Match Maker). And lo and behold, the preorders for The Wife Maker have exceeded the preorders for The Match Maker. AND THERE'S STILL A DAY AND A HALF LEFT!!!

This was surely unexpected. The reception to The Husband Maker (book 1) was mostly good, but many of you were annoyed with me for the cliffhanger. (A few of you may have even hated me.) I'm sorry about that. Sort of. I was super grateful when so many of you stuck with me for book 2 and even left it great reviews in spite of the second cliffhanger. And now so many of you are excited enough for book 3 to actually buy it in advance and I've had so many emails and messages from so many of you expressing your eagerness to see how things turn out for our unlucky-in-love Charlotte.

Thank you so much! and I hope you find it worth the wait. Thank you for those of you who have commented, left reviews, and messaged me. It's so much fun to hear from you and to hear that you care about Charlotte and Angus and their friends and family.

If you haven't already signed up for my newsletter, please click the newsletter tab above and sign up so you'll know about new releases (including novellas for Flynn and Aleena since I can't stand to leave them without their own happy ending). I plan on having some free content available to my newsletter subscribers sometime this year as my way of saying thank you.

Anyway, thank you! Thank you!

Thank You!!!

A few months ago, I ran a Kickstarter to help fund the production of The Match Maker for Audible. It's available on Audible now, in case you're interested. The Husband Maker is also available.

Thank you to all of you who contributed to the successful Kickstarter campaign. I appreciate your support so much. Thank you, Vea, Louise, Abi, Tawnie, Pam, Donna, Missy, Tracy (I think this is Julie), Mark (I think this is Sami), Dana, Katie, Sharon, Derek, Melissa, Tressa, Rachael, Arlene, Emily, Connie, and Karalee.

The Wife Maker! Available for Pre-order

It's almost February 14, which means Valentine's Day! It also means (dun, dun, dun!!!) . . .

The Wife Maker. 

Find out if Charlotte finally gets her happily ever after!

The Wife Maker is available for pre-order right now, so click  ***HERE*** to order your copy and it will magically appear in your e-reader on Saturday.

Thank you to so many of you who have sent your messages of encouragement and impatience as you've waited for me to finish writing Charlotte's story. I so appreciate it.

And please sign up ***HERE*** for my newsletter so you can be the first to know when I release Flynn and Aleena's novellas.

I hope you, my wonderful readers, have a fantastic Valentine's Day!


Goodbye 2014 & My Word of the Year for 2015

A Few Highlights (and lowlights) of 2014:

  • A trip to Maui with my husband.
  • A trip to San Francisco with my family. Sadly, this is both a highlight and a lowlight because of a big mistake I made. My husband had business in San Francisco and I wanted to do some research for The Husband Maker series, so the family took off by car. My oldest son couldn't miss a couple of days of classes, so we booked him a ticket on Priceline. It was cheaper for him to get a flight to Portland via San Francisco and then just not finish the trip, so that's what I booked. He rode the train from school to the airport and entered his ticket information in the kiosk. It wouldn't accept it so he got in line and told the agent that his ticket wasn't working. The very rude agent informed him (very rudely) that his ticket was for the following week. Priceline wouldn't work with us, so Bruce didn't get to join us. We still had fun, and Travis managed to arrange some work in Portland the next week and took part of the family to meet Bruce, who was now flying to Oregon for no other reason than to keep from totally wasting my mistakenly purchased ticket. They had a good time, but I cried bitter tears that he didn't get to join us in San Francisco and had to spend the weekend at home alone.
  • I published Lost and Found (part of the Ripple Effect Romance Series), Maggie's Song (found in the Timeless Romance Anthology - Love Letters), The Husband Maker and The Match Maker.
  • Bruce spent three months studying in China and traveling around Asia. It was fun for me, too, as he Facetimed with me from just about everywhere he went.
  • I was graced with kidney stones several times but none were large enough to need surgery!
  • Veronica came home from her successful and wonderful mission.
  • I attended two writer's conferences.
  • We had everyone home for Christmas for the first time since 2010.
  • Savannah got her driver's license and relieved me of some of the running around.
  • Joe made both the Lone Peak and CMBA basketball teams.
  • Savannah had a sledding accident and suffered a concussion and memory loss. It was really troubling and scary.
  • Bruce took his heaviest load at school yet and spent the entire semester sick.
  • Travis and I were the chairmen of our ward Christmas party.
  • We started eating differently which meant I did A LOT of cooking from scratch.
  • Veronica started working at Great Harvest again.
  • Joe passed all the girls in the family in height.

For the past few years, I've chosen a word to focus on during the year. This year, my word is inspired by the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I just finished reading it this month and it was excellent. I highly recommend it. My word this year is:


I want to eliminate nonessential things so I can give essential things the time and energy they deserve. A few of the things I want to eliminate are wasted time, clutter, unnecessary spending, and judging and unkindness.

To quote the book, I hope to "do less, but better."

Happy 2015!

Yes Friends! It's Time for a Giveaway!

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Review of Christopher Columbus: A Man Among the Gentiles by Clark B. Hinckley

It was my intention to have this read so I could review it on Columbus Day. As is the case with many intentions, I didn't get it done. Life got crazy and rather than just do a spotlight about the book, I decided to wait for my review until I'd had a chance to finish it. So here we are, more than a month late. Sorry.

I loved this book. This time in history is fascinating and there was so much to learn and discover. I enjoyed reading the ways that Columbus fulfilled prophesy and desired to serve God instead of all the negativity that has surrounded him in recent years. Some schools refused to celebrate Columbus for his accomplishments, instead calling him a murderer and crazy. Instead of celebrating Columbus's accomplishments, they decided to celebrate Indigenous People Day. While I have no problem with celebrating a day that honors Native Americans (Ronald Reagan declared such a day in California in 1968) I think it's wrong to refuse to celebrate Columbus Day because Columbus wasn't perfect. If we were going by that criteria, the only holidays we'd celebrate would be a very different version of Christmas and Easter. Gone would be Martin Luther King Day, President's Day or Veteran's Day. None of these people we celebrate are perfect.

As a society, it seems we're so willing to paint everyone with broad strokes--if there's any failing (or if it's a failing we particularly dislike), a person is bad and all their good is discounted. If we like where they stand on an issue or their personality, we ignore or excuse any failings they might have. This way of looking at things is wrong and causes us problems. Looking at people this way hurts us. On the one hand, it causes us to become too harsh in our judgments of people, refusing to see the good in them or acknowledge their accomplishments. On the other hand, giving someone a pass or whitewashing someone's sins because we like them, instead of seeing things clearly, causes us to lose our discernment, something desperately needed and in short supply in the world today.

Columbus was a man. Certainly not perfect, but with a strong feeling that he was to do something important in the service of God. What he did was important to the history of the world and the restoration of the gospel. It's important that we try to see his life and his contributions clearly and in the context of the time he lived instead of jumping on the popular bandwagon of demonizing him and judging him by our current politically correct climate.

Review: How Do I Know if I Know by John Bytheway

I cannot say enough about this book. Seriously I can't.

I read this book with my two teenagers. It was a really good experience as we were able to read and talk about testimony and how we know if we have one and how to recognize the parts of a testimony. There are so many easy-to-understand analogies that help make testimony an understandable thing instead of something abstract that we hear about but often can't define except in more abstracts.

I was also able to share a couple of things with my missionary daughter that are helpful to investigators who aren't sure where they're at on their road to conversion.

There is some humor and sarcasm, although it's a little cheesy, but that isn't what makes this book so readable. I love that it took abstract ideas and gave them concrete ways to understand them. A couple of my favorites involved the lights of a Christmas tree and a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. When you read the book, you'll see what I mean. LOVED those two analogies and they're so pertinent today.

This is a book I think every family with teenagers should read together. It opens up conversation about testimony and it's a great launching pad for more gospel study as each chapter ends with suggested reading that includes conference talks and excerpts from other books. I also think this would be a great book for anyone who is having doubts or questions about their faith and who wonder if they still have a testimony.

I really loved this book and recommend it as enthusiastically as possible.

Review: Crucible of Doubt by Terryl and Fiona Givens

I must admit I'm really struggling with this review and even debated not doing a review at all, but I think it deals with an important subject and the book was full of good information, so I'm going to share it with you and hope I don't turn anyone away from the book that could use it.

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). I've had personal experiences that anchor me in the gospel and and make me a firm believer in Jesus Christ. I've experienced the joy that comes from sharing the good news of the gospel with others, both on my mission and in my regular life. I'm always so excited when I see someone have their life blessed and improved by gaining faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've also experienced the sadness and frustration that comes with people I care about leaving the church because their questions aren't answered in a way that satisfies them.

This book was written for those people who have questions that test their faith and for that, I applaud the authors. I found the way they addressed some of those questions fascinating. BUT maybe I'm just not as bright as I like to think I am, and maybe this book is written for people far more intellectual than I am, because I felt like it was hard to read. I found myself having to re-read things just to understand what the authors were saying. My fear is that it might be too difficult for many people to get through. On the other hand, it might be perfect for intellectual, deep thinkers, who pore over what they read in a different way than me. So maybe it's exactly what some questioners need. I just struggled.

I do feel there's a place for a book like this, I just wish it would have felt more accessible to little old me. In spite of that, I'd absolutely recommend it to my super-smart friends and family who struggle with faith. You know who you are.

Review: Focused by Noelle Pikus-Pace

I'm a huge fan of the Olympics. If you want to know where I am during the two+ weeks of both the summer and the winter games, you'll most likely find me in front of the television watching whatever I can. During the winter games, you'll find me rabidly caring about biathlon, cross-country skiing, figure skating, ski jumping, snowboarding, curling, and yes, skeleton.

I was thrilled this last winter to discover that one of our leading skeleton athletes was a bright, happy woman who's practically my neighbor. I'd have been cheering for her no matter what, but that fact made me even more excited. And then I saw her YW medallion and I was even more excited.

Noelle Pikus Pace didn't let us down in any regard. I cried as she climbed into the stands to celebrate her accomplishment with her family.

This book reads part memoir, part inspirational speaker, and all heart. I loved it. Really, really loved it. Each chapter was made up of lessons she learned and it read like an exciting novel. I have to admit, I cried again as I read and experienced vicariously her disappointments, her insecurities, her courage, and her successes.

This is great reading for anyone, but if you've got a daughter, especially a teenage daughter, I'd absolutely recommend this book.

What a blessing it is to have good, solid, strong, courageous, REAL women to look up to.

What Does This Mean?

Tonight I went to my friend's blog and found THIS POST.

In Missy's post she tells about her dissatisfaction with where the lived and how a turtle crossing the road made her happy and triggered renewed feelings of satisfaction with where she lived.

So here's my comparison for you.

Because of how vertical our house is (three floors with high ceilings makes for a lot of stairs), we spent most of the last year contemplating a move to something that would be a little easier on my knees. We found a few things we liked a lot, but even though we tried hard to get them, they slipped through our fingers.

I like where we live--beautiful views, mountains out my back door, nice neighbors and a location right between my two college students' universities--but because I was excited about a couple of the places we found and the prospect of less stairs, I was ready to move.

So when nothing worked out, I realized I had to adjust my thinking and learn to be satisfied with where we are, in spite of all the stairs. I had to give myself a pep talk to be okay with all the stairs I'll have to climb over the next few years. (We'd decided if nothing worked out this summer, we'd stay put for awhile because of the timing with kids and school.)

Well, Friday morning, as I left with Bruce and Mehmet to go visit my family, I saw something in the road.

"Did you guys see that?" I asked. Neither of them had seen it, so I turned the car around and we drove back to see this.
It's hard to see in this picture, but it was huge. Seriously big. Big enough that I saw it as I drove.

I'm not a fan of spiders of any kind, but one that's as big as my hand? Huh uh. No thank you.

Bruce and Mehmet got out and took a couple of pictures and then got back in the car. I was sort of afraid it might get squashed. I don't think I wanted that to happen since it was minding it's own business, but on the other hand... well... it's a big, freaking spider within easy walking distance of my house, so... I'm conflicted.

The spider was spared because a woman that might be part spider saint part crazy lunatic stopped in the middle of the road, hopped out and with just a thin napkin between her fingers and the tarantula, lifted it to safety. Good news for the spider.

But if a turtle made Missy happy to stay where she lives, how is a big, hairy, sickening spider supposed to make me feel?