Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Leaving Oxford by Janet W. Ferguson

July 13, 2016 Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Janet Ferguson, romance 79

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about the book

Escaping home to Oxford, Mississippi, seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t.

A year after a tragic accident in Los Angeles flipped her world upside down, advertising guru Sarah Beth LeClair is still hiding away in her charming hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. And she may well be stuck there forever. Suffering from panic attacks, she prays for healing. Instead, her answer comes in the form of an arrogant football coach and an ugly puppy.

Former celebrity college quarterback Jess McCoy dreamed of playing pro football. One freak hit destroyed his chances. Although he enjoys his work as the university’s offensive coordinator, his aspirations have shifted to coaching at the highest level. His plans of moving up are finally coming together—until he falls for a woman who won’t leave town.

As the deadline for Jess’s decision on his dream career looms, the bars around Sarah Beth’s heart only grow stronger. But it’s time to make a decision about leaving Oxford.

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SERIES: Southern Hearts #1
GENRE: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
PUBLISHER: Southern Sun Press
RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2016
PAGES: 352

“When would she ever learn? Brain first. Then mouth.”

Janet Ferguson’s novel Leaving Oxford is sweetly southern with characters who feel like friends and a plot that immediately engages. As Sarah Beth’s story is revealed by layers, you not only see her; you also see the grace of God.

Leaving Oxford book reviewSarah Beth LeClair is honest and compelling but also just plain adorable. Jess McCoy is just plain hot. And Gingie the dog is an adorably hot mess. And I can’t forget to mention precocious little Katie with her sassy southern drawl. Or her hunky widowed dad Nick. Or Jill. Or a host of other characters that march through the story and leave you smiling in their wake. A few may leave you in tears, too.

Leaving Oxford is ultimately a story of prodigals – of those who’ve already come home, of those still on the journey back, and of those still far away.  They aren’t perfect people by any means, and even the reformed prodigals have pasts that could be full of regret if Jesus wasn’t all about redeeming us from shame.  There is joy in returning to Jesus and there is joy in meeting Jesus for the first time; Janet Ferguson captures these reactions beautifully in her characters and the plot.

Leaving Oxford is also a story for anyone who’s ever struggled with the disease of anxiety, especially those who feel like their faith should be enough to fix it. Because, sometimes you can do all the “right” things – pray enough, read your Bible enough, trust Jesus enough – and those pesky chemicals in your brain still don’t behave the way you want them to. Leaving Oxford reassures you that it’s okay, that there’s still hope (and help!), and that it doesn’t mean your faith in Jesus isn’t “enough”.  There are many avenues of treatment that can work hand in hand, helping the chemicals fall into place so your brain can do what it knows to do with the faith that you hold dear.

leaving oxford quoteBottom Line: Janet Ferguson creates a setting so vivid that you will feel the Mississippi humidity draping over you as you read, and even the staunchest Yankee may develop a bit of a southern drawl by the time you’ve finished Leaving Oxford. The romance between Jess and Sarah Beth is one of those delicious slow-burn kind that has you craving that first kiss almost as much as they do! Cute humor, sweet friendships, and a meaningful message elevate Leaving Oxford beyond a simple romance, and the characters guarantee that you go one-click the next book Going Up South as soon as you finish this one. (Side note: I thought, as I was reading Leaving Oxford, that I knew who Going Up South would be about. I was almost completely wrong LOL. But it turned out better than I anticipated, so I’m okay with that 🙂 ) There is a lot of “church speak”, which in the South is common vocabulary anyway lol – and some moments where I felt the story took a break for a sermon or two – but it didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!

KissingBook Level: 3.5 / May forget to breathe on occasion & might need a fan for more than just the Mississippi heat

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about the authorjanet ferguson

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.

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Other Books by Janet W. Ferguson

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Janet is offering one of my readers an ebook of Leaving Oxford!

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What about you? Southern drawl, northern twang, or something in between?

Carrie

79 Responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Leaving Oxford by Janet W. Ferguson”

  1. Donna B

    This sounds like a great one to add to my TBR stack. Someday I’ll get caught up.

  2. Michelle Connell

    Another new author for me to try! Thanks for letting us know about Janet.

  3. Janet Ferguson

    Carrie, What a sweet review! Thank you! I laughed at the sermon part. And my editor cut a GOOD BIT of that kind of stuff out. 🙂 Oh, mercy. It is the Southern way, and there is too much humidity here… I have a Southern drawl, but not near as much as some of my fellow Mississippians, LOL.

    • Carrie

      LOL! It is the Southern way indeed 😉 As a northerner who moved south several years ago, I don’t know what kind of accent I ended up with lol

  4. Andrea Stephens

    My accent is somewhere in between. When I am near, or speaking to someone with an accent, I will pick it up. It even happens when I’m reading accents. It’s very embarrassing sometimes. Other times it’s fun. One year in high school, I would get home with a British accent. After lunch, I had German class, my partner was from London, she was the only person I was allowed to speak to, other than the teacher. We also had last 2 classes of the day together, taught by British teachers. The kids I babysat for after school thought it was so funny.

  5. Janet Ferguson

    Hi, Andrea! I do pick up accents pretty easily, as well. I had a job with a brokerage firm when I was just out of college. I talked to brokers all over the country. It seemed like I had no accent at all when on the phone, sometimes because I got tired of people asking where I was from, LOL.
    Have you ever read a book, like with Scottish brogue, and caught yourself wanting to speak that? If no, me neither… 🙂

  6. Amanda J.

    Hi Carrie and Janet. I may be from Florida, which is really a giant melting pot, but I’m close enough to Georgia that I’ve definitely got a Southern accent and a repertoire of Southern sayings that randomly pop up. My accent’s not as thick as many of my friends but, from what I’m told, can be noticeable. My fingers are crossed for a win because this book sounds like a good one.

    • Janet Ferguson

      Hi, Amanda! Yes, Florida can be such a mix of accents depending on the area. A lot like Atlanta where I have family. I’m happy you have a tad of a Southern accent and some of our fun random sayings,ha! I was collecting those sayings for my 4th book in the series for one of my extremely Southern characters called Big Roy, and it was so much fun!
      Good luck on winning! 🙂

        • Janet Ferguson

          LOL! In the 4th book, we move to Mobile with Sam to Big Roy’s place. He was one of my favorite characters. (Roy not Sam, but Sam will grow on you in Book 4)

          • Carrie

            Yaaaay!!!! After reading the synopsis for book 3, I was happy that those two get a story but my first thought was “What about Sam?!?” Lol

  7. Pam K.

    I’m from the Midwest but have lived elsewhere. Every once in awhile a little bit of Texas creeps into my Kansas speech and I say “y’all”.

  8. Arletta

    Haven’t heard of this author before but will check out the book. Sounds like an interesting read.

  9. Emilee

    I’ve lived in the Deep South since I was 10 so I have a southern drawl.

  10. karen

    Thanks for the review, will have to put this one on my to read list. I have a northern accent.

  11. dianne casey

    I like the Southern drawl, even though sometimes I can’t understand what the person is saying. I’m from the Midwest and I don’t think I have a northern twang.

    • Janet Ferguson

      So funny! I’m deaf in one ear, and when I watch movies with actors with British accents, I have to turn on the subtitles. For some reason, I can’t quite catch what they’re saying even though I love how it sounds.

  12. Rebecca Maney

    Definitely Southern, not as “southern” as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, but “mountain southern” nonetheless. I worked in Michigan for a summer when I was in college and you can imagine how they “gave me grief”.

  13. Patty

    That’s a good question! With me, it probably depends on who you ask . I was born and raised in Michigan , and at the age of 19 moved to South Carolina . I’ve now lived in SC longer than I lived in MI, and while I don’t think I would be mistaken for a native Carolinian, at least I know longer get there “you’re not from around here are you ” ?

    • Carrie

      LOL Patty! You sound like me – raised in northern Illinois (almost Wisconsin) and moved to Kentucky during high school. I got that question SO MUCH when we first moved here haha! Along with, “Shew, girl. You’re gonna havta slow down if’n you want me to understand you.” 😉

    • Janet Ferguson

      Hi Patty, Glad you don’t get that “Not from around here” comment anymore, ha! South Carolina is a beautiful place!! Thanks for saying hi!

  14. JJ

    Hollywood really doesn’t understand that there are many different TX accents. They tend to paint us all with the southern drawl brush.

    • Janet Ferguson

      Hi, JJ! Yes, there are even very regional accents in different parts of our state. The coastal area residents of Mississippi sound much more like the New Orleans type of accent. With Texas being so large, I’d imagine, the accents really vary.

  15. Susan

    Hmmm….being a fellow Mississippian, it’s drawl all the way! LOL

  16. Kerri

    This looks like a great book that I can put in my reading queue.

  17. carylkane

    I’m a Native Texan. This books sounds awesome!

    Carrie, thank you for the wonderful review!

    Janet, I look forward to reading your stories.

  18. Jan Hall

    I have been told that I have a southern drawl. When I was in the army every one knew when I went home for the weekend just from my speech. Lol.

  19. Trish

    I’ve lived in Georgia all my life — so a Southern drawl, y’all! 🙂

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