Publisher: Ashberry Lane Publishing
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Number of pages: 279
Awards/Honors: RT Book Reviews (rare) 5 goldstar Top Pick, a Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee (of 5), and the December 2015 Seal of Excellence winner, which makes it a Book of the Year Nominee (1 of 12 out of thousands reviewed)
The Memoir of Johnny Devine (RT Book Reviews 4.5 GOLD Star Top Pick): In 1953, desperation forces young war widow Eliza Saunderson to take a job writing the memoir of ex-Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Devine. Rumor has it Johnny can seduce anything in a skirt quicker than he can hail a cab. But now the notorious womanizer claims he’s been born again. Eliza soon finds herself falling for the humble, grace-filled man John has become—a man who shows no sign of returning her feelings. No sign, that is, until she discovers something John never meant for her to see.
When Eliza’s articles on minority oppression land her on McCarthy’s Communist hit list, John and Eliza become entangled in an investigation that threatens both his book and her future. To clear her name, Eliza must solve a family mystery. Plus, she needs to convince John that real love—not the Hollywood illusion—can forgive a sordid past. Just when the hope of love becomes reality, a troubling discovery confirms Eliza’s worst fears. Like the happy façade many Americans cling to, had it all been empty lies? Is there a love she can truly believe in?
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“The Memoir of Johnny Devine” is a historical romance novel set in Hollywood in the 1950s. I can’t remember the last time I read something set in this time period, but I found the history and culture of the time to be fascinating. The story is told from the viewpoint of Eliza Saunderson, a talented but unknown writer who barely makes enough to survive and stay in her tiny, one-bedroom apartment, but who is spunky, likeable, and sympathetic from the very beginning. The other leading character is John Vincent, also known as Johnny Devine, a reformed heartthrob/ladies’ man/movie star with regrets and wounds much deeper than the shrapnel that crippled his leg during the war. While we don’t get to hear much from his point of view, the reader can’t help falling for the wounded, noble hero that we see through Eliza’s eyes. When hired to assist in writing his memoir, Eliza has no idea that her life (and his) will never be the same.
This book definitely falls under the inspirational/Christian fiction category because it is full of instances of redemption, grace, and forgiveness that were well-written without being too “preachy.” I really enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone with a love of Christian fiction and/or historical romance. 5 stars!
FTC Disclosure ex.: A review copy of this book was provided via SLB Tours.
I’ve been writing “stuff” all my life (plays, skits, short stories) but decided to get serious about writing a novel for publication in 2007 when a friend and I were discussing how the real-life, cross-continental romance between her sister and my brother would make a great novel. She twisted my arm, actually, and Like There’s No Tomorrow was conceived. From then on (or from 100 pages in when I discovered I had NO clue what I was doing), I dove headfirst into studying the craft of fiction and found that I possessed an inherent disease passion for it.
I’ve completed and published one Christmas novella (Savanna’s Gift - White Rose) and three full-length romantic dramas (Like There’s No Tomorrow, Like a Love Song, and The Memoir of Johnny Devine - Ashberry Lane). I am currently at work on my fourth novel while trying to catch up on the many highly recommended reads this year! I am always learning, a perpetual student of Story, and at peace with the reality that a good writer never truly “arrives.”
What is your favorite Bible verse?
As one who writes at length and in depth about Love, whether it be romantic, relational, or the love of God, it’s no surprise that Ephesians 3:16-19 resonates deeply with me:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
I think you’ll find this theme at the root of pretty much everything I write.
What have you read lately that you would recommend?
Okay, I have a note from my publisher excusing me on this. Since I released two books this year, which was exciting, my leisure reading has been a bit neglected. Now that my latest book has launched, I'm working my way through a long-neglected TBR pile, so I'm looking forward to a number of great reads I'm hearing raves about. I'm currently reading Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay, and Kiss of the Jewel Bird by longtime favorite author, Dale Cramer. I recently read a sassy little mystery novella by Rachel McMillan called A Singular and Whimsical Problem, a feminine Sherlockian type of tale which was fun and engaging.
When refreshing the "ink well," I sometimes revisit past favorites, the kinds of stories that have left me floored, the kind whose characters linger years after meeting them. One of the titles on my re-read list is River Rising by Athol Dickson. He writes sheer beauty. A few authors whose latest works I won’t rest until I’ve read are Becky Wade, Kristin Hannah, Lori Benton, and Susan Meissner.
What book are you featuring today?
The Memoir of Johnny Devine. This novel is a “classic” 1950s romance, a story within a story of a Hollywood bad boy reformed and a good girl needing reform. It’s a powerful tale of love, redemption, intrigue, and the miracle of God’s deliberate grace. One professional reviewer says of this story, “The romantic tension sizzles nearly from the beginning, and readers will often find themselves breathless from the sheer delight of it (Carrie Townsend).” It is a breathless (chaste) romance, but much, much more.
If you could tell people who are going to read/have read your books one thing, what would it be?
Fiction may be “make believe,” but as most storytellers will tell you, fiction and story come from the guts and glory of life and reality. My aim has always been to create very realistic, authentic characters with whom we can all connect in some way, whose stories resonate with our own through the sharing of pains and desires, hopes and dreams, trials and triumphs. The characters in my stories may be invented, but the faithful, awesome God they encounter on their journey is very real.
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