Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, NY by Amanda Barratt

My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, NYMy Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey

Author: Amanda Barratt

Series: My Heart Belongs

Publisher: Barbour

Published: January 1, 2018

Journey to Niagara Falls, New York, 1870

She avoids danger at all costs. He makes his living by rushing headlong into it.

Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband.

Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.

On a sightseeing trip to the Falls, Adele meets several eligible suitors. Incredibly wealthy and pompous, Franklin Conway takes an immediate fancy to her. But Adele would truly like to marry for love. When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is NOT looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

A story of faith and romance set among the pounding water of Niagara Falls delivers heartfelt lessons in award-winning author Amanda Barratt’s latest historical tale. Journey back to a time when class distinctions often inhibited the chasing of dreams and hard work wasn’t always rewarded–but when those barriers were broken, the results were all the sweeter.

My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York is a delightful story penned by an author whose love of history emanates through her words. Details of times gone by in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY paint pictures of the perks of high society and challenges of lower-class living that bring this story to life. From a flower-filled estate in England to refuse-filled Canal Street; from Adele Linley’s beautiful dresses to Drew Dawson’s sparse living accommodations and everything in between, I envisioned it all as I turned the pages of this entry into the My Heart Belongs series.

A small cast of characters fills the pages of this moderately paced story. Heroine Adele Linley and hero Drew Dawson come from opposing sides of life; however, their desires to protect the ones they love and their selflessness to do what they think will make their loved ones happy demonstrate that who people are has very little to do with material possessions. Of the two main characters, I identified with both but felt a much stronger connection with Drew. His compelling backstory and desire to take care of his disabled younger sister made for strong characterization. Adele’s story, while moving, didn’t impact me as much because I felt like a wall removed any sort of emotional connection I could have made with her. Supporting characters Hope and Delany endeared themselves to my heart by the end of the story. I’d love to see a sequel starring these two.

With a solid start to her full-length novel writing career, Amanda Barratt has penned a  romance colored with heartfelt truths–both in faith and in historical accuracy–brimming with details that readers who wish for times gone by will savor. I enjoyed My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls and hope to see another novel from this author very soon.

RATING: 3.5 stars


Amanda BarrattECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story – a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales – from the sweeping coastline of Newport, Rhode Island, to the rugged landscape of Central Texas. Her novella, The Truest Heart, was a finalist in the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England.

Contact Amanda: FACEBOOKTWITTERWEBSITE

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Book Review: To Die For by Sandra Byrd

To Die ForTo Die For: A Novel of Ann Boelyn (Ladies in Waiting #1)

Author: Sandra Byrd

Publisher: Howard Books

Published: August 9, 2011

award-todieforTo Die For is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.

Meg’s childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

Journey back to fifteenth century England in the first novel of the Ladies in Waiting series written by prolific author Sandra Byrd. Told from the perspective of Meg Wyatt, one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies in waiting and dear friends, To Die For is a story of enduring friendship, terrifying trial, and cutthroat determination set during a captivating time in England’s history.

As an avid Anglophile who is fascinated by the Tudor period, I could not contain my excitement when I discovered the Ladies in Waiting series. Many fiction and non-fiction books cover the various subjects within this time period, but Byrd’s series was the first of Christian fiction I found that set itself during the time of Henry VIII’s reign. Knowing I would experience the romance, horrors, societal commentary, and history of this time while still reading a story grounded within the expectations of Christian fiction gladdened my heart. For that alone, I thank Byrd as well as Howard Publishers for readers and lovers of the Tudor period this series.

To Die For is the perfect beginning to the Ladies in Waiting series as Anne Boleyn’s story is well known, well loved, and exceedingly emotional. While the stringent part of me would have liked to have Katherine of Aragon’s story told first (as Henry VIII’s first wife), undoubtedly Anne Boleyn’s tragic romance with the Tudor king made for the better beginning of the series. Byrd’s take on Anne’s is both heart-wrenching and fresh. As familiar as I was with the fate that befell this queen, while reading To Die For I turned the pages as if I didn’t know Anne would meet her death on the scaffold. I wanted a different outcome for her because through Byrd’s story I had a different perspective on the unique situation, extraordinary qualities, and ultimately heartbreaking ending of Queen Anne.

I loved seeing Anne’s story unfold through the eyes of Meg Wyatt. Not only did I learn of Tudor history–pertaining both to Anne and Henry’s romance but outside of the court as well–through the fictionalized story of an admirable woman, Meg’s steadfast friendship, bravery, challenges, and successes brought To Die For to life. I walked alongside this heroine through the hallways of Hampton Court, in the field of Hever Castle, and at the scaffold of the Tower of London. I watched Anne win Henry’s heart, travail through childbirths, and lose her life. Meg could not have been a better heroine to lead Queen Anne’s story.

The first in the Ladies in the Waiting will remain far from being so in the number of times I read this book. Fortunately, the other two books are already holding court on my bookshelf, waiting to be read.

4 stars


The Ladies in Waiting Series by Sandra Byrd

A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, the Ladies in Waiting series chronicles the glittering court lives of three Tudor Queens and the women chosen to be their closest friends and companions. Each book envelops the reader in sweeping romance, heartwarming and heartbreaking circumstances, and heroines who choose lives worth risking all for.

Ladies-In-Waiting


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandra ByrdBestselling author Sandra Byrd has published more than fifty books over an editing and writing career spanning twenty-five years.

Sandra’s series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, published in 2017 and was named by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction books of the year.

Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

Sandra is passionate about helping writers develop their talents and their work through coaching and developmental editing and has been a working editor for more than two decades. She mentored hundreds of writers through the Christian Writers Guild and continues to guide developing authors toward success each year as a writing coach and in-depth editor. For testimonials about her editing and coaching, please visit novelcoaching.com or visit sandrabyrd.com to learn more about her books.

Novel Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

NameUnknown_mck.inddA Name Unknown (Shadows Over England)

Author: Roseanna M. White

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: July 4, 2017

She’s out to steal his name.
Will he steal her heart instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary’s challenge of a lifetime comes when she’s assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown—so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth—about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

A Name Unknown is a book after my own heart for so many reasons. A writer hero; a librarian heroine; an English setting; a cover with books on the front; a wartime background; and two leading characters who are beautifully broken and redeemed by Christ’s love and each other. I could not have asked for a more perfect book, and once again Roseanna White has proven why her stories remain among my favorites.

White’s books are ones I read regardless of whether or not I know what the story will be about, but as I was familiar with the blurb for this story, I was called foremost to it because of its complexity. Each of the three previous stories I’ve read by this author were complex–one of the many reasons I enjoy her books so much–but A Name Unknown upped the ante in how White tied mystery, history, intrigue, romance, and faith into one plot so well. Every piece of backstory, every nuance described in the moment, every thought the characters had to themselves came together to show redemption, solve a mystery, and help the characters grow. I prefer novels that are longer and in-depth, so for A Name Unknown  to be a lengthier story for these reasons pleased me to no end.

My favorite aspect of A Name Unknown is the soft blending of history and romance. I’m an Anglophile, so I was thrilled to come across actual people and historical instances of British history in this book–especially in one scene where the Prince of Wales and hero Peter have a humorous moment with the heroine. I loved being immersed in the fiction world while experiencing through Peter and Rosemary what it must have been like to be in the throes of pre-World War One Britain. As for the romance, I’d yet to read a novel with such a slow burn of attraction and relationship-building until I read A Name Unknown. This romance was beautifully written, and oh how that build up in the scene where the characters experienced their first kiss. That was a perfect example of how a chaste relationship can still be full of attraction and how just a subtle nod to the physical can be satisfactory on the page or screen.

RATING: 4.5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roseanna WhiteRoseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna’s fiction ranges from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at at her website.

Book Review: Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Heart on the LineHeart on the Line (Ladies of Harper’s Station #2)

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: June 6, 2017

Witemeyer Returns with Her Trademark Blend of Adventure, Romance, and Humor

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


I absolutely loved Heart on the Line. I’ve enjoyed each of Witemeyer’s books I’ve read thus far, but this novel far exceeded my expectations so much so that I didn’t know what to do in regards to reading once I finished this story. My favorite novel of 2017, this book also has earned a spot on my “forever favorites” list. I felt an immediate connection with our heroine, Grace, and our hero, Amos–oh, how I wish more novels has heroes like this quirky, charming, academic, and brave man. Not only was the story filled with characters who are admirable, unique, funny, and original, Heart on the Line‘s plot is quirky and faith-filled just as is its hero. While historicals set in other genres tend to be my go-to books, novels like Heart on the Line continue to prove to me why reading outside our typical genres is one of the best things we can do. Witemeyer is the perfect example of how authors who are talented with their writing and creative with their stories open up new worlds for their readers.


karen-witemeyerChristy Award finalist and winner of the ACFW Carol Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

Book Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

High as the HeavensHigh as the Heavens

Author: Kate Breslin

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: June 6, 2017

About the Book

Page-Turning Intrigue and Romance from an Up-and-Coming Historical Romance Talent

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

Reading a book written by a beloved author and set during a favorite time period–a safe and pleasurable choice. Reading a book penned by a beloved author but set during a less familiar time period and written with skill comprised of plot twists and intricacies and talent with the written word–brave and dangerous rolled into one, for the reader is chancing to fall in love with everything that is both different and beautiful. As I finished High as the Heavens, I found myself firmly in the latter category because this novel is unlike anything I have read before (despite that I have read Breslin’s 2016 World War One novel Not by Sight). The differences between High as the Heavens and other works of Christian historical fiction and ABA (general market) fiction are precisely why I call this novel one of the best I have read; this book challenged me, taught me pieces of history I had not come across otherwise, and fully drew me into the horrors and beauty of wartime.

Breslin and Bethany House should be commended for High as the Heavens because this novel breaks the norm in three strong ways: the World War One time period, while becoming more popular in fiction, differentiates itself even further with a relatively untouched plot line; the Belgian setting takes readers out of the typical English location; and the hero and hero’s romance takes place primarily off the page due to wartime circumstances. I was immersed in High as the Heavens as Breslin brought me into a plot in which every time I thought I had figured out what was going to happen, I was wrong. I was drawn into High as the Heavens  as I yearned for Eve and Simon to overcome their personal challenges and find their way back to love. And I was captivated by High as the Heavens as I followed them both through the dangers of spies and secrets and bravery of wartime Belgium and France.

With her third novel, Breslin has confirmed her talent for writing deeply moving historical fiction that plunge the depths of human behavior. I cannot recommend High as the Heavens enough and am once again looking forward to reading more from this author.

RATING: 4.5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KATE BRESLINA Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives with her guitarist husband, John, and a spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. These days, when she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with her author friends, she’s reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following John’s musical career as his #1 fan. An avid  “tree-hugger” she often enjoys long walks in the forests or playing in the garden. Kate’s also a traveler–she and John have toured most of Washington state and many places in the U.S. And with her intrepid mom as traveling companion, Kate’s also been abroad–Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, even a day trip to Turkey. She’s always looking for the next story idea!

Book Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

The Reluctant Duchess

The Reluctant Duchess  (Ladies of the Manor #2)     

Author: Roseanna M. White

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: April 2016

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A RIVETING EDWARDIAN SERIES SET AMONG BRITAIN’S HIGH SOCIETY

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough–not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when Rowena’s father tries to trap Brice into marrying his daughter, Brice makes a surprising decision.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to marry a notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW:

Anyone who walks into a Barnes and Noble or surfs Amazon for more than a minute could state that there is no shortage of books in Western civilization. Whether in print or e-format, numerous genres and authors abound with stories fantastical and beautiful enough to whisk you into whatever world you wish to visit. Having many choices, however, requires readers to open new books with open minds. After all, a loaded to-be-read list often means favorites; and favorites, reader friends, equals favoritism.

With that key word in mind, I opened The Reluctant Duchess knowing the second book in the Ladies of the Manor series had a tough predecessor to follow. You see, The Lost Heiress, book one of the Edwardian-set series, is my favorite book of all time (aside from Pride and Prejudice, of course). How could I possibly ensure that Roseanna White’s sophomore novel was given a fair chance as my new favorite book?

It turns out that I need not have worried myself about whether I could remain unbiased while reading The Reluctant Duchess. While The Lost Heiress still remains my favorite book, White’s first and sophomore novels in this series are so different that it’s impossible to compare them purely on the merits of enjoyment. I love both of these books and for vastly opposing reasons–and that, reader friends, is one of the many reasons this series is special.

The Ladies of the Manor series introduces readers to numerous characters and places throughout its novels. The idiosyncrasies and traits of both characters and settings offer unique perspectives on historical stories that open up the lives of people whose worlds are so different–but also so similar–to our own. The Reluctant Duchess is a story filled with the horror and pain of abuse; the steadfastness and protection of a relationship; and the faith and trust in something bigger than ourselves. Unlike the first book in the series, I found that White’s second novel moved slowly, much as the relationship between main characters Brice and Rowena evolved, letting me savor the processes both go through to become the Godly man and women each other deserve. (Take care to note that although I said the story moved slowly, that does mean the story read slowly–two very different things.)

With the steady pace of The Reluctant Duchess, I found I was better able to know Brice and Rowena. Whereas The Lost Heiress had me quickly turning pages to uncover the story, with The Reluctant Duchess I was much more invested in the unique outcomes for each character. This story was less driven by the plot of the Fire Eyes diamonds (although that plot still exists) and much more dependent upon what would happen with White’s hero and heroine.

I enjoyed The Reluctant Duchess very much and am so, so excited for White’s third book in the series. A Lady Unrivaled will be released this fall from Bethany House. September 13th can’t come soon enough!

Rating: 4.5 stars

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna WhiteRoseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Anchor in the Storm
Review: Anchor in the Storm 

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series: Waves of Freedom

Publisher: Revell

Publication: May 2016

About the book:

One plucky female pharmacist + one high-society naval officer = romance-and danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy—even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

Purchase a copy:http://bit.ly/1YFAtJ9

Review:
Like a fine wine ages beautifully over time, author Sarah Sundin’s sweeping World War II novels just keep getting better. I knew when the first book in her Waves of Freedom series ended that I wanted to read its successor; however, I had no idea how much I would enjoy Achor in the Storm. This book has been the highlight of my “read” list for 2016, and I’m almost certain it will take the spot of my most coveted book the year. Without a doubt, with its grace-filled romance, captivating historical backdrop, and suspense element,  Anchor in the Storm could be Sundin’s best book yet.

Main characters Lillian Avery and Archer Vandenburg are perfect foils for each other as they navigate the choppy waters of what it means to be loved for who they really are. While I admit both of their struggles are foreign to me, Sundin creatively played with unique challenges for these characters. I enjoyed not only stepping into Arch and Lillian’s shoes, but in doing so through circumstances affected both by history and by social stratus.

While romance was intricately weaved into Anchor in the Storm, it was the history and suspense elements that kept me turning the pages of novel. Before reading this story I never would have called myself a reader interested in suspense, but if Sundin continues combinding suspense with her history, I will most definitely join the bandwagon on this genre. The author’s experience and insight into the pharmaceutical industry, combined with her passion for World War II history, created a riveting storyline that fascinated me. In addition to the drug-ring storyline, sub-plots involving PTSD and naval history satiated my World War II history craving.

I absolutely love this novel and am already planning ahead for when I can re-read all of  Sundin’s books. I recommend this book not only for readers of World War II history, but readers of all fiction. It is that good!

Rating: 5 stars
*Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book exchange for an honest review. I not required to give a positive review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for Litfuse Publicity and Revell for my copy of Anchor in the Storm.

Giveaway:

Come back to my blog starting at 8am on May 23rd for the link to a giveaway for Anchor in the Storm and other nautical gifts from Sara!


About the author:
 

 
Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California.