First Wildcard Tours presents Susanna’s Christmas Wish by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
Susanna’s Christmas Wish
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From the pen of bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, (more than 350,000 books sold), comes a truly delightful and inspiring Christmas novella. A perfect holiday delight for lovers of Amish fiction…and those who love a heartwarming and tender Christmas tale.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736951512

ISBN-13: 978-0736951517

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I really enjoyed this book my Jerry Eicher, but it was just too short. By the time I really got into the story, it was over! But I have to say that it is a really nice fast Christmas read, and it gives readers different views on how two Amish families celebrate Christmas. And as the story unfolds, the author shows readers a real deep love that grows between a couple when they trust the Lord and really try to make a lasting marriage.

 

I love Amish fiction, and a Christmas story about an Amish family is especially enjoyable. Their plain way of celebrating Christmas is overlooked and commendable when you read their love for each other as a family. And they truly have a wonderful and enjoyable time celebrating the birth of Jesus in their own unique way. Jerry Eicher does a wonderful job of taking this twisted family and their problems and demands, weaving them all together and coming up with a story that will leave you with that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling. I highly recommend this one for your Christmas enjoyment. Pick up your copy soon though, so you can read it before the Holidays!
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Susanna Wagler stood by the living room window watching Herman’s broad shoulders as he guided the team of horses into the field. Was he really her husband? The thought raced through her mind, and she pushed it away. These were not the thoughts a woman of God should have. Of course Herman was her husband. They had said the marriage vows in front of Bishop Jacob not three weeks ago. She could still hear Bishop Jacob’s voice intoning, “Do you, sister Susanna, believe Da Hah has given our brother Herman to you as your husband?”The words had hung in the air only for a moment before she whispered, “Yah.”

Herman was the husband Da Hah meant for her. She had been certain of it. As certain as she could be. He was a man deeply loved by the community for his honest ways, his open face, and his dedication to the faith of the fathers. This was why she had said yah to Herman’s first timid request when he’d asked her home from the hymn singing. And so far Herman Wagler hadn’t let her down. Not like someone else had…Susanna also pushed that thought away.

She had forgotten about him—shut his memory from her mind. But even now she shouldn’t think badly of Matthew Yoder, though he had broken her heart. The truth had come out, and it was better this way. How awful would it have been if the truth had waited to appear after they were married? That was what her sister Mary told her, and she was right. Mary was wise about Matthew, having married his brother Ernest. Even before Matthew had left, Mary had seemed unsure of his intent. Older sisters were good for something after all, it seemed.

Still, Susanna tried to give Matthew the benefit of the doubt. He must have had his reasons for leaving the community. Even though she couldn’t understand them…or follow him into the Englisha world. And his reasons were obviously greater than his love for her. That was what hurt the most when he’d informed her he didn’t plan to stay in the Amish community. He hadn’t been able to tell her before, he’d said, though he’d assured her he hadn’t been playing her along all those years.

But a man didn’t suddenly make up his mind to leave, she figured. Such a desire had to have been there for a long time. Matthew had known something, regardless of how much he insisted he hadn’t. If she had loved him enough, she would have gone with him, she supposed. But how could a woman love a man who loved the Englisha world more than he loved her? Still, she had wavered for weeks over the matter. Struggled with the agony of it. Was she at fault? Did love require the sacrifice of everything…of all she held dear? Things like this land of her people? These open fields she’d grown up in? This place where she’d been born?

Matthew seemed to have no problem leaving all of it, and he’d soon put his words into action, getting himself placed in the bann in the process. As if she could face something like that. The cutting off of all contact with her past. This couldn’t be love, she’d finally told herself. She could not choose this.

So Matthew was gone.

And slowly she had put the fragments of her heart back together. Finding a piece here and a piece there that fit. Herman, with his tenderness, had helped. And her heart had healed somewhat, hadn’t it? She wouldn’t have married Herman if it hadn’t, would she?

She loved Herman. She did. Herman was the kindest man around. She should be thankful he had even considered her. Especially after Matthew left and caused such a stir in the community. No Amish young man would have been blamed for avoiding her completely, like she was a second-rate, cast-off shirt. And yet Herman hadn’t thrown her away. He had asked her home from the hymn singing and eventually asked if she would be his frau. Someone to love and cherish forever while they lived on this earth. Herman had done that, and was that not love?

Susanna’s eyes lingered on Herman’s face as he turned the team of horses around. The prancing hooves left tracks in the light dusting of the overnight snow. For a moment Herman glanced toward the house, and she ducked behind the drapes. It wouldn’t be decent for him to see her staring at him from the window. Not yet. Even if he was her husband. They should learn to know each other better first.

When Susanna stole another look, Herman was headed out over the open fields, hanging on to the lines. He is a handsome man, she told herself. And one she was thankful to have as her husband.

There was at least one brokenhearted girl in the community that she knew of. Herman had left behind Ruth Byler. She sure hadn’t kept her desires to have Herman take her home from the hymn singing a secret. And if there was one who did so openly, there had to be others who had hid their feelings. Yet Herman had chosen her.

Susanna turned back to the kitchen with a sigh. This had to stop. This wondering and puzzling over things. She had expected it would be over after the wedding. In fact, there had been plenty of signs during the weeks before the wedding that her doubts had flown away. Now they apparently were back in force.

But they would live through this, Susanna told herself. Herman loved her and she loved him. He had made that plain enough in the days since the wedding. And she had no reason to complain. She was sure Herman was aware that her heart hadn’t totally healed from Matthew, but he was being kind and understanding. What woman wouldn’t love such a man?

Susanna ran hot water into the kitchen sink while she brought the last of the breakfast dishes to the counter. Herman’s plate was sopped clean—it looked almost washed, like it always did. Even though it had been a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, and home fries she’d fixed him. Herman would have made a gut bachelor, that was for sure. The way he kept everything tidy around himself. And yet he felt the need of her, felt it necessary to bring her into his life.

But why?

Because he loved her, of course, Susanna told herself. There didn’t need to be a reason beyond that. Perhaps it was the conversation at the breakfast table this morning that was bringing this indecision up again. Well, it was more of an argument, really. Their first timid disagreement. And she had been shocked at the feelings that rose up inside of her. The insistence that Herman see things her way. And she had even grown angry, though Herman hadn’t, even as he remained firm. There would be no celebration of Christmas in their new home. And they wouldn’t be going to her parents’ place to celebrate either. It was not the way of his family, and it would not be their way.

Susanna washed the dishes and stared out the window at the snow. Soon the snow would be falling in earnest, the flakes floating past this very window. The joy and hope of Christmas would be in the air. The celebration of the Christ child in the manger would be coming. Was this feeling just an Englisha thing, like Herman claimed? He said her family had given in to worldly influences and his family had not.

Yet how could this be true? Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas like the Englisha did, with their Christmas trees and lots of store-bought presents. Nee, their celebration was simple. They began by gathering on Christmas morning for breakfast. In his deep voice, Daett would read the story of the Christ child’s birth. Then the day would be spent together visiting, eating candy and goodies galore, and letting the children race around the house. Maybe that was a little like the Englisha, but she would be willing to adjust something, like leaving early, if that helped Herman get used to her family’s ways.

But Herman had said no. No hesitation, right out, flat no.

And she had gotten angry. Even her cheeks flushed and her fingers tingled. She had stood up from the table to get a drink at the sink even though her glass was still full of water. His eyes had followed her as he seemed to be waiting for harsh words from her.

But she had not spoken them. She knew that Herman, being her husband, was in the right. And she knew what he would say further on the matter—that she knew before the wedding what his feelings were. He had made no secret of them. And there had been the talk with his mamm. Herman’s mamm had made two or three special trips to the Keim farm before the wedding to visit Susanna. From that first visit, it seemed as if his mamm was sizing her up as a daughter-in-law. Would she be good enough for her Herman? That was her purpose in that first visit. She must have passed the test because there had been the second visit. That’s when Mrs. Wagler told Susanna what Herman’s favorite dishes were and how important it was to honor their family traditions. That was when she mentioned their longstanding abhorrence of the celebration of Christmas that had somehow infiltrated the community. Those visits had been uncomfortable enough, but then only two days after the wedding Herman’s mamm had showed up to help her organize her kitchen. Hadn’t it occurred to her that if Susanna needed such help she would have asked her own mamm?

Nee, she couldn’t say she  didn’t know how Herman and his family felt about Christmas, Susanna acknowledged. And now with their first Christmas together approaching, Susanna was realizing it would also be her first Christmas without the joy she had experienced at home. Nee, she would never get to be at Mamm and Daett’s for Christmas morning again.

Knowing about his objections beforehand wasn’t making it any easier, no matter how often she’d told herself it should be. She had thought maybe there was some sort of compromise possible. Surely there had to be. Susanna sighed. It was useless, really. She already knew that. Hermann was handsome and nice and calm, but he was “Amish stubborn.” That was just how it was. And she was his frau.

Well, she could imagine that Christmas was no big deal. Perhaps she was being silly about such a small matter. They would find something else to do on Christmas morning.

Susanna dried the plates and placed them in the cupboard above her. She would have to learn submission, that was the only answer. This was the first big test being placed before her by Da Hah, and she would have to pass somehow. Oh, if she only could. Who would have thought she would have trouble with being a gut frau? That had been the least of her expectations. A sloppy housekeeper, perhaps, or being unable to keep up with the sewing once she had a bunch of kiener. Those things had worried her, but letting her husband have his way about Christmas had not been on her list.

Susanna closed the cupboard door. She would learn this lesson by Christmas morning. She still had time. Thanksgiving was this week, and that left nearly a month until Christmas. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would set her whole heart to the task. This would be her gift of love to Herman. She would learn to keep her mouth shut, and even if she didn’t succeed right away, it would happen. She would apologize until it did happen. Surely by Christmas the task would be done. Herman would see on that morning how much progress she’d made in fitting herself into his family’s lifestyle.

By Christmas Day she would love him fully, with all of her heart. What better wish to aim for than to live in total harmony with your husband, she decided. And love would keep growing in her heart for him. Perhaps not exactly the love she used to feel for Matthew, but a better love. A higher love. One that would grow from suffering.

Hadn’t Matthew shown her how shallow their love used to be? He’d sure been able to cast it off as if it didn’t matter.

Running to the window again, Susanna peeked out. Herman was a dim figure now, almost lost from view in the distant field. He looked intent on his work, his head bent toward the ground as his plow turned up the black dirt. Susanna turned away. How like plowing her plan was. Turning her old life under like Herman was doing to the ground today. Preparing for the spring when things come alive again. She would do the same. Plow under her selfish desires to plant a future spiritual harvest. Here was the sign as to what she should do as plain as day and right before her eyes. How like Da Hah to show her so quickly that He liked her plan. He would surely be answering her wish soon.

Placebo By Steven James for Revell Books

Placebo By Steven James  for Revell Books

 

 

Book Blurb

While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons’ tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did.

Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.

 

My Thoughts On This Book

I think Placebo is much different that other books by Steven James, but I did enjoy this book because I enjoy medical fiction. But it did take me a number of chapters just to get into the story. And I really didn’t enjoy the beginning of the book where Jevin Banks’ van is found in the lake with his wife and their two boys in it, and word is that it is not an accident. The death of children is difficult to deal with, and it was a sad way to start a book, for me anyway.  

 

After the first several chapters, the story picks up and is more interesting. The characters were very unique, they were believable, and they play their part so well as the story unfolds. There is so much going on in this story, so many twists and turns that you will keep reading to the very end. So if you are looking for a thriller that is full of suspense, drama, tension, and a little romance to boot, then you will enjoy Steven James’ Placebo. I encourage you to pick up a copy for your own enjoyment and entertainment. You will be glad you did!

“Available November 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from the publisher Revell to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

About the Author

Critically acclaimed author Steven James has written more than thirty books, including Story, A Heart Exposed, and the bestselling Patrick Bowers thriller series. He is considered one of the nation’s most innovative storytellers and versatile authors, and is a contributing editor to Writer’s Digest. Steven lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.

 

 

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Robert Morgan
and the book:
All to Jesus
B&H Books (October 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert J. Morgan is a best-selling, Gold Medallion Award-winning author whose over twenty-five books include Then Sings My Soul, The Red Sea Rules, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart and The Children’s Daily Devotional Bible. A staff writer for Dr. David Jeremiah and Turning Points Magazine, he has also served as pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, for three decades. Morgan and his wife have three daughters and ten grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Cast all your cares on him.” “Love the Lord with all your heart.” “I can do all things . . . .” Most would be surprised at how often the word “all” appears in the Bible-literally thousands of times. And with each description of God’s comprehensive promises, each reminder of our complete blessing in Christ, each appeal for our full and total surrender, His reputation grows larger before our eyes. We see again what He can do. We see again who we can be.

Based on the Bible’s sizeable emphasis on this tiny yet powerful word “all,” best-selling author and pastor Robert J. Morgan has created a remarkable 365-day spiritual growth experience in his new devotional, All to Jesus: A Year of Devotions (B&H Books, October 2012). A choice sampling of the Bible’s most “all”-encompassing statements, All to Jesus will surround believers each day with inspiring stories, personal reflections and the encouraging assurance that they are cared for in ways they never imagined.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1433677865

ISBN-13: 978-1433677861

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

All to Jesus by Robert J Morgan is a 365 day devotional. This book doesn’t have dates, just days such as day 1, day 2, etc. so you can start your devotions any day of the year. And this devotional is beautiful, and very high quality.

But the special thing about this devotion is that you will see how much the word ‘all’ is in the Scripture. Each of the 365 verses have the word ‘all’ in them along with a devotion that will help you for the day. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of this devotion for your library. And I can’t forget that with this book, you will have access to more than 40 songs and other resources to go with the book.

AND NOW…THE FIRST WEEK:

He is all in all to me,

And my song of songs shall be, Hallelujah, O My Savior,

I am trusting only Thee.Fanny Crosby

Introduction

One evening several years ago when troubled about a particular matter, I sat at the dining room table and picked up my Bible. I turned to a little book near the back and read through 1 Peter, thinking the old fisherman might have an encouraging word for me. When I got to the last chapter, I came across verse 7: “casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you.” It was a verse I knew well, indeed had memorized it; but now I saw something I’d never seen before. It said: “casting ALL your care upon Him.”
The Divine Author could easily have omitted the word all without hindering the flow or force of the text: casting your care upon Him. But the Lord deliberately dropped that little all into the sentence like a pearl in the pathway, and I had overlooked it for years.
But what a word! The “all” indicated this was an all- inclusive promise. Nothing is excluded from the invitation. No problem is too small for His notice, none too large for His power. He’s concerned about each and every problem I have or would ever have, public or personal, large or little. He can handle them, and I should give them all to Him in total trust.
Then a thought came to me. I wondered if there were other “alls”  in the Bible that I’d missed. Continuing my reading, I noticed three verses later that God is “the God of all grace.” Four verses later: “Peace to all of you.” Three verses down the column, in 2 Peter 1:3, I read, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us” (NKJV).
Looking up the word in a concordance, I was amazed to find 5,675 “alls” in the Bible. This word shows up in a remarkable number of verses, and it amplifies many of our greatest truths, commands, and promises:
•   “All things work together for the good of those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

•   “You have thrown all my sins behind Your back” (Isa. 38:17).

•   “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted” (Matt. 10:30).

•   “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37).

•   “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov.3:5–6).

•   “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened” (Matt. 11:28).

•   “Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6 NIV).

•   “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33).
The Lord doesn’t waste words in His Book. In the verses above, the alls could easily have been left out; yet there they are. Seems it’s one of God’s favorite words. He used it thousands of times, often in passages that would have read nicely without it; yet the all maximizes the meaning to the absolute. It’s the largest little word in the world, taking already strong statements and broadening their applications to virtual infinity, which, after all, is what one would expect from an omnipotent Father.
The frequency of this word in Scripture speaks to the all-sufficient grace of our Almighty Savior. It highlights the infinite omniqualities of God, and the complete devotion we should afford Him. He is the Lord of All, our All-in-All, our Almighty God, our All-Sufficient Savior from whom All blessings flow; and He is All we need.
Looking up all these alls was the simplest Bible study I’ve ever done, but one of the most bolstering to the soul, because all Scripture is given by inspiration of God—even the thousands of occurrences of this little monosyllabic term.
So for each day of the year, I’ve selected an “all” from Scripture—365 of them, all told.
The other 5,310 occurrences you’ll have to dig out for yourself.
Day 1  2 Corinthians 9:6–11
God is able to make all grace abound toward you;

that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things,

may abound to every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV)
Missionary Amy Carmichael attended a meeting featuring the renowned preacher Dr. Andrew Bonar. “He was very old and could not speak very plainly or strongly,” she recalled. “The hall was full, and I was near the back. I could not catch a single word he said, except this word all. He read 2 Corinthians 9:8 and he put every bit of strength he had into it, so that the one word rang out—all—always—all—all. I have forgotten thousands of great sermons, but that ‘all’ I have never forgotten, and it has helped me countless times.”
The context of this verse involves giving to the Lord’s work, yet the promise is larger than its context. The words God is able represent a recurring divine promise:
•   He is able to establish us (Rom. 16:25).

•   He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

•   He is able to keep what we have committed to Him (2 Tim. 1:12).

•   He is able to aid us in temptation (Heb. 2:18).

•   He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24).

•   He is able to deliver us (Dan. 3:17).

•   And He is able to make all grace abound to us in all ways at all times for all things.
Our God is able! He isn’t going to impart some grace or some sufficiency in some things for some good works. It’s all—all—all—all!
Day 2             Proverbs 3:1–5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5
Many times I’ve preached this verse to myself, repeating over and over: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . . Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . .” Recently I dug a little deeper into that word trust. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the original term here in Proverbs 3:5 is batucha, which literally means to “trust in, feel safe, be confident, careless.”
Careless—care-less, as in carefree.
The TWOT goes on to explain that this word expresses the sense of well-being and security that results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. The basic idea behind “trust” goes beyond intellectual belief; it emphasizes an attitude or emotion of feeling safe and secure, unconcerned—being confident to the point of being care-less or carefree.
That doesn’t preclude a healthy concern for things we’ve entrusted to the Lord. It does mean that the Proverbs 3:5 variety of trust liberates us from toxic anxiety, fear, worry, and crippling concern. The old French mystic, Jean Nicolas Grou, said, “Give yourself to Him, trust Him, fix your eye upon Him, listen to His voice, and then go on bravely and cheerfully.”
Don’t trust Him with some of your heart, which taps into some of His peace. Abide with total trust. That’s His desire and His command for you today: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

Day 3  Proverbs 3:5–10

Think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

Proverbs 3:6
One time I spoke to students of Bryan College in Tennessee about God’s guidance over matters large and small in our lives. Afterward I was bombarded with questions. Another speaker had suggested that God establishes certain parameters for our lives but doesn’t involve Himself in specifics, that He doesn’t specifically know or ordain our steps. But I believe God’s guidance is detailed, daily, personal, unfailing, and preplanned, as Psalm 139:16 says: “All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”
If He has planned all my days, I should acknowledge Him in all my ways. That means developing the habit of deliberately pausing to ask God’s will before making a purchase, giving an answer, writing a letter, making a decision, or taking an action. Acknowledge Him as Lord of that matter.
This was Nehemiah’s habit, as we see in chapter 2 of his book: “Then the king asked me, ‘What is your request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king.” In the royal palace in Susa that day, no one noticed the slight pause in the conversation. But during that strategic second of silence, Nehemiah shot an arrow of prayer heavenward and consulted God, quietly asking: “Lord, give me wisdom and grant me favor!”
Strategic pauses like that throughout the day would save us from many mistakes.

Day 4  John 21:15–19
Lord, You know all things.

John 21:17 (NKJV)
One day while perusing A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, I came across a peculiar idea. Tozer asserted that God has never learned anything. He cannot learn; it is impossible. Imagine the lifted eyebrows if a pastor started Sunday’s sermon with that declaration. But Tozer was right. Because God is omniscient, He possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn. There isn’t a scrap of information, a byte of data, or a spark of genius that He hasn’t known from eternity past. He compasses and surpasses all facts; He comprehends and transcends all reality; and in Him are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
That means all truth is God’s truth, and true science will never contradict the realities of Scripture. It means He knows the future as well as the past, and He is guiding His creation toward pre-appointed ends. Yet it means more. As Peter acknowledged in John 21, Jesus also knows the world within us.
He knows my strengths, so He can use me for His purpose. He knows my weaknesses, so He can perfect what concerns me. He knows my anxieties, so He can reassure me with His promises. He knows my hurts, so He can apply His salve. He knows my sins, so He can cleanse my soul. He knows my failures, so He can work all things for my good. He knows my past, so He can lead me toward maturity. And He knows my future, so He can lead me all the way.
All wise, all good, almighty Lord,

Jesus, by highest Heav’n adored.

—Charles Wesley, 1745

Day 5  Psalm 5
Let all who take refuge in You rejoice;

let them shout for joy forever.

Psalm 5:11
During two periods of my life I’ve suffered bouts of depression, so I know something of its perils. According to the World Health Organization, major depression is the fourth- leading cause of disability in the world, and it’s on its way to becoming the second leading cause, just behind heart disease.
It’s a complex illness, and I don’t want to oversimplify it. Yet our depression, anxiety, anger, or fear is often the by- product of discounting the unfailing promises of God. Israel’s King David suffered periodic depression, as revealed in some of his psalms. He often brought his heavy heart to the Lord and replenished his emotions in the endless reservoirs of God’s grace. In so doing, he developed this formula in Psalm 5:11—

Relying on the Lord – Rejoicing in the Lord.
That’s simple enough for a wall plaque, yet it’s one of the most profound equations for emotional health ever discovered: “Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You” (NKJV). The word all signifies that this truth is applicable to everyone on earth. We can all learn to rely, and thereby to rejoice.
My daughter Grace once gave me a figurine of a lazy frog with his hands behind his head, resting on a rock, legs folded leisurely. Knowing my penchant for worry, she thought it a good reminder of the acronym FROG: Fully Rely On God. It’s hard to be depressed when there’s a frog on your desk; and it’s hard not to rejoice when you’re fully relying on Him.

Day 6  Matthew 6:25–34
After all these things the Gentiles seek.

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,

and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:32–33 (NKJV)
England’s Queen Elizabeth I once asked a British merchant to undertake a mission for the crown. “But your Highness,” said the man, “such a long absence will be fatal to my business.” To which the queen replied: “You take care of my business, and I will take care of yours.” When the man returned, he found that the queen’s patronage had enlarged his company immeasurably.
Alice Taylor was a missionary to China whose four children were captured by the Japanese and interned in a concentration camp during World War II. Alice suffered galloping anxiety. But she recalled her pastor once putting Matthew 6:33 like this: “If you take care of the things that are dear to God, He will take care of the things that are dear to you.” Alice forced herself to focus on the Lord’s work while trusting Him with her cares. In time her children came home safely to the glory of God.
What’s our greatest need today? Whatever it is—financial, relational, physical, or emotional—it’s included in that universal all. Jesus said, “All these things . . . all these things

. . . all these things.”

Day 7  Genesis 6:13–22

Thus Noah did; according to all

that God commanded him, so he did.

Genesis 6:22 (NKJV)
Total trust results in total obedience. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, after being warned about what was not yet seen, in reverence built an ark.”
By faith Noah obeyed.
Some scholars believe no rain had fallen to Earth prior to that time. Genesis 1:7 speaks of the waters above the expanse of the sky, perhaps indicating that a vast thermal shield of vapor encased Earth and maintained a greenhouse effect. This blanket of moisture filtered the sun’s destructive rays and may have contributed to the long life spans listed in Genesis. When the vapor canopy collapsed, torrential rains lasted forty days and nights. So in an age in which people knew nothing of rain, God told Noah to build an enormous ship, and Noah obeyed completely, down to the last nail.
To measure your faith, pull out the dipstick of obedience. Does God tell us to build up others with our words? To be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another? To do the work of an evangelist? To avoid sexual immorality? To keep our eyes from vanity? To meditate on Scripture?
Scottish novelist George MacDonald said, “You  can begin at once to be a disciple of the Living One—by obeying Him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying Him. We must learn to obey Him in everything, and so must begin somewhere. Let it be at once, and in the very next thing that lies at the door of our conscience.”

The Oldest Enemy, by Michael J. Webb….Interview with Michael

Today I want to welcome Michael J. Webb to my blog. Join Michael as he talks about his new book

The Oldest Enemy.

Hello my favorite bloggers! Today I am featuring author Michael J. Webb and his new book The Oldest Enemy. This is my first read of Michael’s and I assure you, this is a book well worth reading. And if you enjoy Christian fiction thrillers, you will love, love Michael’s new book. It is one of those books that you can’t put down until you’ve read the last page! Now I am excited to let you in on an interview with Michael Webb to find out a little more about this great author and his writing.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved telling stories and writing was a natural outlet for that passion.  I’ve also read voraciously from elementary school on. I just love books, both fiction and non-fiction.  I like the feel of them, the smell of them, and the way they look stacked on the shelves.  I decided in college that I’d like to become a fiction writer at some point, but didn’t seriously start writing until my early thirties.  Now, I’m hooked.  I see and hear all of my novels first in my head as movies.  Had I not become a novel writer I might have written screenplays. And I might still.

Tell us about your mentors and how they have helped in your writing?

I have two categories of mentors.  Authors I read who inspire me, and a very good friend who writes best-selling novels in YA and has multi-millions of her books published.

I read ecclecticly, but mainly prefer thrillers. Whenever I read a novel, I not only read it for the plot and characters, but I’m also looking for ways I can improve my own writing.  I get lots of ideas on both content and style from other authors.  Some of my favorite authors are Daniel Silva, James Rollins, Dan Brown, Joel Rosenberg, Frank Peretti, and James Byron Huggins.  My all time favorite, however, is Lord of the Rings, which I read in Junior High.  That’s my ultimate standard and what I aspire to.

I met Lurlene McDaniel at a writer’s conference in FL in the ‘80’s where she was one of the featured speakers.  She saw something in my writing that she liked, took me under her wing, and taught me a great deal about the craft of writing.  Over the many years we have been friends she, more than anyone, has helped me become a much better writer.

What is the main thing you want readers to take away with them when reading your books?

First and foremost I want them to enjoy the story and become involved and engaged with the characters.  When they are finished reading, I hope they feel like they’ve just eaten a ten-course dinner—and can’t wait to see what the next meal has to offer.  I also want them to come away with a better understanding of the reality of the spirit realm, how it works, and how it impacts their lives on a daily basis.  I hope they also discover just how important it is to develop an intimate relationship with the God who knew us before the foundations of the world, has numbered the hairs on our heads, is not willing that any should perish, and sent His Son to redeem us with His death, burial, and resurrection.

I just have to chip in here and say, when you read The Oldest Enemy, you will for sure be full from that ten-course differ and will be eager to read more! And, your relationship with the Lord will be different, because you will see Him in a more personal way that before.

Tell us five interesting things about yourself that no one would ever guess? {I always love this question. It gives readers a unique insight of the author’s life.

My favorite food is Mexican. 

I speak enough Dutch to get the attention of native speakers. 

I used to ride barrel horses in high school, and my brother and I owned a Florida State Champion barrel horse named Socks.

I climbed mountains when I was younger and have climbed extensively in the Rockies, and the Alps.

I learned how to fly a Cessna 172 when I was in college.

Tell us a little bit about how this book idea came to you.

I was reading two very different books simultaneously—one about exorcism and the other about art and gold stolen from the Jews by Nazi’s during WWII.  One day a dramatic scene popped into my head.  I heard–and visualized–what eventually became the Prologue playing out in my head as if it was a movie.  Once I began to write, the other characters came to life and began to take over the story.  I just took dictation!

Again I have to chip in because this is always the question that I have about authors and their stories. I just find it so interesting to know just how the story came about, and how the author brainstorms their ideas!

Is there another book in the making? If so, can you tell us about it?

My agent, Don Maas, is shopping The Gathering Darkness, a thriller about the Anunnaki from Sumerian legends, also known as nephilim.  I’m just finishing up the sequel, The Devil’s Cauldron, and much of the action takes place in Antarctica.  I’m also reissuing my first three novels as E-books, Giants in the Earth, a trilogy spanning two millennia of history.

What impact do you think readers have on your books when posting reviews on their blogs, Amazon, Goodreads and other places around the web?

The two most important things for those of us trying to establish a viable platform are great covers and word of mouth, especially strong and favorable reviews. Reviews are critical for unknown authors to get noticed. The more the merrier.  After that, it’s up to us.  It’s extremely important that we’ve written an entertaining story with memorable characters.  We also must make certain we’ve polished our story in every capacity so that readers will be drawn in and immersed in it and not distracted by poor execution, or poor editing.

One of my main reasons for my book review blog, and for reviewing books is to help Christian authors get the word out about their books. It is a ministry I really have a passion for.

Anything else you would like to share?

Writers write. We can’t help ourselves.  We have to write or we’ll explode.  If you have a story burning in you, put it down on paper.  If you decide it’s something others would enjoy, make certain you’ve done your very best to make it excellent.  Do’t be afraid to fail, and don’t wonder if you’ll ever become famous.  Just write–and repeat the process.  The rest is up to God.

And I for one thank you for writing. Where would we be without authors like you?

9. And, where can readers find out more about you, and get in touch with you?

My author website is www.michaeljwebbfiction.com , my FB Fan Page is www.michaeljwebbbooks.com , and my e-mail is michaeljwebbbooks@gmail.com.

I love hearing from readers and answer every email.

Wow, thank you Michael for answering all of these wonderful questions. I always enjoy getting to know authors better and I hope my bloggers will leave you some comments and encouragements.

So…how about it bloggers? Let Michael know that you have read his interview and leave him a little encouragement!

*****************

THE OLDEST ENEMY

  • Paperback:314 pages
  • Publisher:Risen Books (November 15, 2012)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1936835126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936835126

Book Blurb

David Lighthouse was once a hard-hitting investigative reporter for the Denver Post—back before he was accused of the brutal murder of his fiancée and his life unraveled. Now, six years later, he is the assistant pastor of a small church in Florida. Armed with faith, sobriety, and a resurrected sense of purpose, he’s putting together a new life. But when one of his young parishioners is murdered, David’s old instincts reemerge. Once again the prime suspect, he fights to clear his name even as disturbing clues at the crime scene reveal a haunting connection not only to his fiancée’s unsolved murder but to his estranged father’s secret past.

David suddenly finds himself the target of sinister, supernatural forces as he tracks down a conspiracy to release an ancient evil upon an unsuspecting world. Along with his father, the murdered girl’s sister, and a fierce Auschwitz survivor, David faces hell itself to prove his innocence and stop a reclusive German billionaire from unleashing a worldwide holocaust.

My Thoughts On This Book

The Oldest Enemy is a perfect title for this book because it is just that, about the oldest and absolute worst enemy we all face every day, and that enemy is satan and his demons. And in his new book, author Michael Webb pens a story that will grip your heart and mind in unique way and not let go until long after you finish reading.

I usually don’t read books that deal with supernatural events, but this one was really awesome, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast of characters are well created and developed, and really make you feel as though you are living the story with them. As I read the story, and the different characters and situations were introduced, I kept wondering how all of the event would work out in the end, but the author weaves everything together beautifully and awesome and creates and ending that is sure thrilling and will stick with you.

It is clear the knowledge Michael Webb has for WW II, Hitler and the Nazis, and the Bible because it is all woven together throughout this story in vivid details. I appreciate the way Michael weaves the characters together with living the Christian life in everyday situations, just as it should be.

I highly recommend The Oldest Enemy for another to read. If you are a Christian thriller buff, then you MUST read this book! And if the reviews of this book has peaked your interest, pick up a copy and see for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

A copy of this book was provided by the author, Michael J. Webb for me to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

Author Bio

Michael J. Webb graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida and obtained his J. D. from the same university.  Over the past forty years he has travelled the world in search of adventure.

He is a history buff, both ancient and modern, and is fascinated by the intersection of the scientific, supernatural, and Biblical world views, and has studied and taught from the Bible extensively for more than twenty-five years. He is also intrigued by recent discoveries in quantum physics that are now providing extraordinary insights into the reality of the spirit realm, especially as it relates to the study of Light.  He incorporates all of the above into his supernatural thrillers.

Michael and his wife make their home in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

 

Books by Michael:  The Master’s Quilt, The Nephilim Parchments (formerly Balaam’s Error), The Song of the Seraphim (Giants in the Earth trilogy), The Oldest Enemy, The Gathering Darkness (agented with Donald Maass at the Maass Agency).  He is currently working on The Devil’s Cauldron, the sequel to The Gathering Darkness.  He also authored a non-fiction work entitled In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul.

Real Dogs Don’t Whisper……Kelly Preston

Do you believe in second chances? Real Dogs Don’t Whisper book is about second chances and miracles. Read about four rescue dogs that were ready to be given up on because they have special needs; they teach their human about life, love, and hope.

 

Kelly Preston, co-author of a newly published book, “Real Dogs Don’t Whisper”. Her co-author is Mr. MaGoo; he is a larger than life dog and has a lot to say.

Meet her family like no other: Kelly, Mr. MaGoo, Buffy, Carla Mae, and Betty Boop. A girl, her two Lhasa Apsos, one Cocker Spaniel, and one adorable mutt – each with their own challenging set of difficulties to overcome. One puppy has serious neurological disorders and is blind. Two were severely abused. All are on a journey of discovery. Together, learning love and patience along the way, perhaps none so much as Kelly.

 

Real Dogs Don’t Whisper: Life Lessons from a Larger than Life Dog! (and his Owner), is the true story of a remarkable family as told in a unique way by both Kelly, the owner of the household, and her spunky, hilarious, nine-year old Lhasa Apso, Mr. MaGoo. The narrative is at times tear-jerking, at times hysterical, and always enthralling.

puppy has serious neurological disorders and is blind. Two were severely abused. All are on a journey of discovery. Together, learning love and patience along the way, they have grown and thrived. Perhaps none so much as me.

Real Dogs Don’t Whisper: Life Lessons from a Larger than Life Dog! (and his Owner), is the true story of a remarkable family as told in a unique way by both myself, the owner of the household, and my spunky, hilarious, nine-year old Lhasa Apso, Mr. MaGoo. The narrative is at times tear-jerking, at times hysterical, and always enthralling.

 

Site: www.realdogsdontwhisper.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/realdogsdontwhisper

Twitter: @KellynMrMaGoo

Google+: +RealDogsDontWhisperpuppy has serious neurological disorders and is blind. Two were severely abused. All are on a journey of discovery. Together, learning love and patience along the way, they have grown and thrived. Perhaps none so much as me.

Real Dogs Don’t Whisper: Life Lessons from a Larger than Life Dog! (and his Owner), is the true story of a remarkable family as told in a unique way by both myself, the owner of the household, and my spunky, hilarious, nine-year old Lhasa Apso, Mr. MaGoo. The narrative is at times tear-jerking, at times hysterical, and always enthralling.

 

 

 

Kelly and Mr. MaGoo will donate a portion of their proceeds from the sale of this book to FACE Foundation. Established in 2006, The Foundation for Animal Care and Education (FACE) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) public charity, whose mission is to enhance and preserve the quality of life of animals by providing access to necessary medical care and education. Based on established criteria, FACE provides financial grants to animal owners who are unable to partially or fully cover the cost of their pet’s emergency or critical care. Learn More: www.face4pets.org

 

Guest Post

 

We asked Kelly Preston what was the single most useful thing she had learned and how had it helped her as a writer.

 

Kelly:  Patience!  I had this idea that it would be an easy process; the writing would be easy peasy since it was my life and experiences that I was writing about, how difficult could it be?  I learned about two months in, wasn’t that easy after all, that I needed to step away a few times and refocus.  Through the writing process, I discovered that the less pressure I put on myself, the easier it became and to take my time.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Excerpt

Mr MaGoo’s excerpt:

It was at that very moment I realized Carla Mae was not just an angry, aggressive little cuss I taught to play and dance and cut loose. I saw Carla Mae for the first time as she really was—a scared puppy who learned to mistrust those around her and who learned self-preservation the only way she knew how—by biting first and asking questions later. She was a frightened little dog who eventually found a greater lesson in letting go and learning to laugh and play and yes, of course—dance. Carla Mae found unconditional love in our family and along the way, she learned to trust. Anyway, as for Dim-Bulb King, cooler heads prevailed that day and, lucky for him, his human finally dragged him away from us. But I sure learned something about my new sister that day.

Carla Mae turned out to be a competitive little tomboy and fair adversary. We love to play Kibble Attack—a game that involves her patiently planning preemptive Kibble invasions, only to be taken off guard by a MaGoo surprise maneuver, overrun and forever a close second only to me. She’s quite the copycat as well, often mimicking our moves. I’m not sure if she’s mocking us all, doing the “when in Rome thing”, or a little of both. What I do know is that I have learned to love Carla Mae and Carla Mae has learned to accept love and even try to nudge in on my petting time with the human and even with random human strangers in the house. She is loved and cared for and Carla Mae is no longer afraid… well, maybe a little afraid of King Crazy Dog, but who wouldn’t be? Other than me, of course.

 

 

 

 

CFBA Presents The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Breath of Dawn

Bethany House Publishers (November 1, 2012)

by

Kristen Heitzmann

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From the time my dad taught me to read at sit-on-the-floor school when I was four—launching me past kindergarten into 1st grade—I have loved learning and expressing what I know through art, music, and especially writing. Education came easily, and I grew accustomed to having my work read and displayed. But breaking out of the family mold, I left college to marry my husband Jim (celebrating our 29th this year.) Since then, life and all kinds of research have provided the grist for my stories. We have three awesome adult kids, and one incredible teenager. (You might think I’m biased, but ask anyone who knows them.)

While home schooling my four kids, I wrote my first novel. I pitched it for publication, and it became the first of a five book historical series. Since then, I have written three more historical novels and nine contemporaries. The Still of Night was nominated for the Colorado Book Award. The Tender Vine was a Christy Award finalist and Secrets won a Christy in 2005.

People often ask why I started writing, and I say to get the stories out of my head. Some say they’d like to write a book, but I say if you’re not wracked with labor pains, there are easier ways to express yourself. Being a writer is a solitary, eccentric, and often compulsive path. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kristen Heitzmann Delivers Powerful New Romantic Suspense

Morgan Spencer has had just about all he can take of life. Following the tragic death of his wife, Jill, he retreats to his brother’s Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his infant daughter, Olivia. Two years later, Morgan begins to make plans to return to his home in Santa Barbara to pick up the pieces of his life and career.

Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years. Standing up for the truth has forced her into a life of fear and isolation. After a “chance” first meeting and a Thanksgiving snowstorm, Quinn is drawn into the Spencer family’s warm and loving world, and she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship.

The man Quinn helped put behind bars has recently been released, however, and she fears her past will endanger the entire Spencer family. As the danger heightens, she determines to leave town for the sake of the people who have come to mean so much to her.

Fixing problems is what Morgan Spencer does best, and he is not willing to let Quinn run away, possibly into the clutches of a man bent on revenge. But Morgan’s solution sends him and Quinn on an unexpected path, with repercussions neither could have anticipated.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Breath of Dawn, go HERE.

FIRST Wildcard Tours presents It’s Just You And Me Lord…….by Marion Stroud

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Marion Stroud
and the book:
It’s Just You and Me, Lord : Prayers for a Women’s Life
Discovery House Pub (September 2012)
***Special thanks to Susan Otis, Creative Resources, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marion Stroud has been a bookworm since she memorized the rhyming couplets of the

Rupert Bear stories when she was three years old. Marion always wanted to be a writer but trained initially to be a physical therapist.

As soon as Marion “retired” from physiotherapy to have her first baby, she decided to fulfill two ambitions at once: to become a mother and a writer. She now has five adult children, seventeen grandchildren from ages eighteen months to nineteen years, and twenty-four published books to her name, many of which have been translated into up to fourteen different languages.

Living in Malaysia as a child gave Marion a heart for people from different nations. She works with Media Associates International to mentor and encourage writers in countries where little Christian literature is written or published.

Marion and her husband love entertaining, walking, reading, and traveling. They are activein the church they helped to found more than thirty years ago. They also lead a small groupwhere they offer pastoral support, and together learn more about living out their faith in daily life.”

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

As women journey through life a lot can be said about their relationships, responsibilities, and concerns. Often influenced by emotions and feelings, women are most likely to express their deepest thoughts to a trusted friend.

It’s Just You and Me, Lord offers heartfelt prayers to inspire and encourage women no matter where they are in life’s journey. Addressing common issues and providing practical prayers, Scripture, and quotes, author Marion Stroud encourages women to express honest and heartfelt communication with God.

From personal prayers to prayers about family, friends, and the world, this inspirational resource helps women of all ages to genuinely connect with God, talk with Him about their concerns, and build and maintain a strong prayer life. Discover how you can go to God in prayer and have confidence in knowing He is your trusted friend.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: Discovery House Pub (September 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1572935731

ISBN-13: 978-1572935730

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

It’s Just You And Me Lord is a collection of prayers by women throughout their lives, and just about any issue you can think of. Where I don’t usually read my prayers, I’d rather pray from my heart. But I also enjoy reading prayers like these, because reading these prayers gave me a new insight about praying. Even thought I know I can pray about anything, some of these prayers were so refreshing, and gave me ideas on how my prayer life can be different and better. And each prayer has verses to go with them too!

I like a statement made by the author in the beginning of the book which says. “Whatever words you use, you can approach Him{God}boldly, confident that as you honestly and openly share your joys, your pain and your perplexity with Him, you will come away from the encounter changed and strengthened.” This is what each of us need in our lives. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book to keep and use. I rec’d my copy from FIRST Wildcard Tours to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Introduction
One of my favorite ways of spending an evening is to share a meal with old friends. What we eat and drink is not particularly important—it’s the conversation that matters. We look back and laugh about our youthful escapades. We talk about the issues that confront us now and wrestle with questions of faith and family. Nothing is off-limits. We challenge each other’s presuppositions and get fresh glimpses of truth through the eyes of a trusted companion.

Prayer, at its best, is like sharing a meal with a loved and trusted friend. Jesus says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20 NLT).

Some of the topics I have written about in these pages spring from my own experience, but many are rooted in the pain and challenges faced by others. In some cases the details of the situation have been changed to protect their privacy. But all these conversations with God spring from life as we experience it in the twenty-first century.

You may want to make my words your own, or simply use them as a prompt for your own communication with our loving heavenly Father. Whatever words you use, you can approach Him boldly, confident that as you honestly and openly share your joys, your pain, and your perplexity with Him, you will come away from the encounter changed and strengthened.

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.

Mahatma Ghandi

A Woman Within

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but only to pour them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

George Eliot

God loves me unconditionally. And He will love me into perfection. With Him I can be absolutely open, sharing the best and worst of my life, my joys and my sorrows, because He knows about every detail already. Nothing I can say or do will affect our relationship for good or for evil. I am His beloved child who delights His heart. He is the always available, unshockable friend, the relentless lover, and the hiding place in which I can rest safely, whatever storms may rock my world.

Summer Suns Are Glowing

Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,

and come with me.

See! The winter is past;

the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;

the season of singing has come.

Song of Solomon 2:10–12

Summertime,

and the livin’ is easy.

Fish are jumping,

and the cotton is high.

DuBose Heyward

#

The long dark days of winter are over, Lord,

and everything within me

wants to make the very best

of this bright time of year.

As I awaken to the song of birds,

cause me to add my song of praise

under my breath,

beneath the rattle

of the commuter train,

or ringing round the bathroom as I shower.

Thank you for opportunities to walk and talk with you

while, as the old song puts it,1

the dew is still on the roses,

and the earth

smells fresh and sweet.

Thank you for ripening fruit on trees,

fields of standing corn,

and farmers’ markets

overflowing

with fruit and vegetables of every hue.

Thank you for opportunities

to stop and stare, dear Lord.

For some there will be no vacations

in peaceful countryside or by the sea.

But all of us can pause for one brief moment

to smell a rose,

to watch a spider spin its web,

or simply be aware

of all the little things

that bring your joy into the present moment.

Thank you for the fun of outdoor eating.

The clink of ice in glass and fragrant smoke

from barbecue or campfire embers.

Help us to grasp the opportunity

to open up our hearts and home

to old and young,

inviting friend and stranger

to share in our enjoyment.

And as the evening darkens,

calm our hearts

to see the glory of the sunset,

and the bright twinkle of the stars

against the velvet darkness of the sky,

as treasures from your hand,

filling us

with reverence for the things you have made,

and thankfulness

for summertime.

You care for the land and water it . . .

You crown the year with your bounty,

and your carts overflow with abundance . . .

The meadows are covered with flocks

and the valleys are mantled with grain;

they shout for joy and sing.

Psalm 65:9–13

It’s Just You and Me, Lord: Prayers for a Woman’s Life

© 2012 by Marion Stroud

All rights reserved.

Discovery House is affiliated with RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Requests for permission to quote from this book should be directed to: Permissions Department, Discovery House Publishers, P.O. Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, or contact us by e-mail at permissionsdept@dhp.org

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com

Scripture quotations marked NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Published in association with the Books & Such Literary Agency, Mary Keeley, 52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170, Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5370. http://www.booksandsuch.biz

ISBN 978-1-57293-573-0

Printed in the United States of America

First printing in 2012

PUYB TOURS Presents ….Rosemary Opens Her Heart….By Noami King

 PUYB TOURS Presents 

Rosemary Opens Her Heart

By Noami King

Charlotte-HubbardABOUT NAOMI KING

 

I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.

Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my new Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.

Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my new Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.

I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.

To find out more about Naomi, please visit her at http://www.naomikingauthor.com/.

Visit her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/NaomiC.King

On Goodreads at:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5163868.Naomi_King

Rosemary Opens Her HeartABOUT ROSEMARY OPENS HER HEART

Another spring reminds the Amish of Cedar Creek, Missouri, that for everything there is a season.

Zanna Lambright is finally marrying Jonny Ropp, and friends and family have come from far and wide to celebrate. Among them is young widow Rosemary Yutzy, mother of toddler Katie, whose husband was tragically killed last fall. With a willing heart Rosemary has taken over care of her in-law’s family and continued to run a baked goods business from home, but privately she still mourns her lost Joe…and is unprepared for the changes that are coming…

Rosemary’s father-in-law wants to merge his lamb-raising business with Matt Lambright’s—a move that will require the Yutzys to relocate from their nearby town to Cedar Creek. Moreoever, it will bring Rosemary into constant contact with Matt, who is making no secret of his romantic interest in her. The challenges of contemplating a future unlike any she expected are overwhelming for Rosemary. And although Matt is strong and kind, his courtship is so persistent, she often wants to run the other way. As Rosemary struggles to see beyond her immediate joys and sorrows, will she embrace the outpouring of welcome and support from the people of Cedar Creek…and accept this new chance to open her heart to a more abundant life?

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Rosemary is still grieving losing her husband and is in no way wanting to check out other men. But Matt doesn’t mind showing his interest in Rosemary, despite what she tells him. And Rosemary seems to be content at wearing black and being stuck in her grieving process and taking care of her father-in-law and his family. But will Matt break though the wall Rosemary has built up around her? You will find out in this second Amish fiction in the series Home at Cedar Creek, by Naomi King.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet and heartwarming Amish story. I grew to love the believable characters and enjoyed getting to know them better as the story unfolds. The twists and turns and the tense moments make you want to keep reading until the story ends, cause you have to find out what happens next! Naomi King is a gifted storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her stories. I will also be watching for Book Three in this series too!

 

I encourage you to grab a copy of Rosemary Opens Her Heart to read for your enjoyment. And while you are at it, pick up Book One in this series, Abby Finds Her Calling to enjoy as well. You will not be disappointed!

 

A copy of this book was provided by PUYB Tours for me to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

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Litfuse Presents……..Courting Cate by Leslie Gould

Courting Cate

by Leslie Gould

About Courting Cate:
When This Couple Gets to Courting, Sparks Will Fly!
In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Her sweet and flirty sister, Betsy, on the other hand, seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!
But the sisters’ wealthy father has made one hard-and-fast rule: older Cate must marry first, before younger Betsy can even start courting. Unfortunately, untamable Cate has driven away every suitor-until Pete Treger comes to town, that is.
Prodded by the men of the area, Pete turns his attention to winning Cate’s hand. But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?
Book 1 in The Courtships of Lancaster County series.
Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/eSNfb
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Being twenty-three years old and not married is not normal in the Amish world. But that was the case for Cate. She felt ugly and didn’t feel like anyone wanted her for a wife, so she decided she would forever be single. That is until her dad decided that his oldest daughter had to get married first, which didn’t go over too well with Cate’s younger sister.

I enjoyed the realistic characters created by the author, and especially the way the story took a little different twist from most Amish books. Cate Miller was not your typical Amish young lady because she didn’t have the interest of most Amish lady’s such as cooking and canning and taking care of the home. She would rather be reading, and she sure didn’t mind speaking her peace, which is not what an Amish man would want for a wife!

Author Leslie Gould weaves a story together with characters that keep the story exciting and interesting. The book started off a little slow for me, but it soon became interesting, especially when the dad stepped in with his edict to stir things up a bit. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Courting Cate for you to read. And if you enjoy Amish fiction, you will especially enjoy this book!

This book was provided by LitFuse Publishing Group. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

About the Author

Meet Leslie:

 

Leslie Gould is the co-author, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. She is also the author of numerous novels, includingGarden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more at www.lesliegould.com.

 

 

 

FIRST Wildcard Tours presents SNOW…By: Kathryn Hewitt

**Author Kathryn Hewitt will be checking in on my blog throughout the day if you have any questions for her.

 

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Kathryn Hewitt
and the book:
Snow
WestBowPress (May 23, 2012)
***Special thanks to Kathryn Hewitt for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As a teenage mother, Kathryn Hewitt understands the consequential trials and sacrifices resulting from teen pregnancies. Leadership positions throughout high school, college, and church provided a forum for her activism in promoting premarital abstinence and accountability, and pro-life support.

Kathryn currently lives in Camden, South Carolina with her husband and four boys.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

How do you know, at 15, what love and affection really mean? Ruth learned all too soon that love is commitment and affection has a price. But who will ultimately make the commitment and who will pay the price?

At 15, Ruth thought she had her life planned out. That is until she met Luke, a charming new cadet from the local military school. After entering into a seemingly harmless teenage romance, Luke’s possessive attitude and subtle remarks begin to undermine Ruth’s confidence sending her into an emotional tailspin.

A beautiful young girl is suddenly lost in a grown up world trying desperately to hang on to a love she thought would last. Shattered dreams and hopeless tears become the bricks that formed walls around Ruth; yet just below her broken heart, a beautiful vessel was being formed.

Join Ruth on her wedding day, five years later, as Ruth’s childhood friend helps her journey back to face the demons of her past…

Product Details:

List Price: $22.95

Paperback: 308 pages

Publisher: WestBowPress (May 23, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1449749445

ISBN-13: 978-1449749446

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 16:25She stood at her vanity mirror and wished away the pimple beginning to rear its ugly head under the surface of her skin. She had such a clear complexion, she rarely got pimples. Irritated, she dabbed a little Neutrogena Spot On and began applying concealer.

Ruth never wore much make-up; sometimes foundation, but always mascara. Her mother would fuss when she put it on her long, dark lashes, but she didn’t care. Wearing little make-up elsewhere justified the dramatic look of her lashes, and it made her feel better. So on went the mascara and a touch of cherry lip gloss, and she was ready to go. She slid on her running shoes, took a quick turn around in the mirror, then hurried out the door.

It was early September, and she was excited to be going to church. After all, it was Wednesday Nite Live. Her youth group would gather in the Youth Activity Center, otherwise known as the YAC room, to hang out, sing worship songs, and have a Bible study. All of the teenagers would be there, herself included. She loved being in fellowship with her friends. She found great comfort in being with other believers.

Ruth hadn’t long been a true believer. She was raised in the church, but what Southern child isn’t? In the South people belonged to a church. It defined a person to a social circle. Few church goers were true believers, and she, for years, had been among the majority, the pew warmers, so to speak. But just two years ago she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and had taken on a new role in her life.

She prided herself in walking in faith and following the teachings of the Bible. She joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as soon as she entered high school and enjoyed talking with other believers in her school. She took a stance against common teenage behavior and shared her beliefs with as many people as she could. She was laughed at, challenged, and called names because of her beliefs, but she didn’t care.

Her passion, however, was teaching others to save themselves for marriage. She talked with her friends about not having sex until they got married and how much better they would feel emotionally and spiritually if they just waited. For this, she was laughed at the most. But it didn’t matter. She openly shared that she was a virgin and intended on staying one until she took a walk down the aisle.

So, this was why she enjoyed coming to church on Wednesday nights. She felt like this youth group was the only place she could be herself without the ridicule of other people. She was safe in a place where other people shared the same beliefs that she had.

Leigh had just called to say she wasn’t going to make it to church. Ruth was disappointed, since being with her best friend as much as possible was one of the main focuses in her fifteen-year-old life.

Leigh could always make her laugh no matter what the circumstances were. Her lively spirit brightened the atmosphere around her. People were drawn to her always perfect thick brown hair, her beautiful brown eyes, and a smile that could stop anyone in their tracks. Her slightly dingy, yet grounded personality always made Ruth light up. Leigh was full of wisdom beyond her years and was a solid rock in Ruth’s life.

They rarely saw each other during school, and their social lives were driving them in different directions, but something still held them together. Tonight, though, Ruth would have to go to church without her.

This particular night they were going to watch a video from the Back to School Retreat, which the youth group had gone on the weekend before. Over 85 youth and chaperones joined the fun for a weekend of interesting events at the White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro, SC.

The retreat was exactly as it says: a retreat, an escape from their parents, their chores, peer pressure, and the daily grind. It was a time when teenagers could be teenagers without an adult breathing down their necks.

Excitement was evident as the vans made their way from small town Westbrook to Winnsboro. The sounds of old friends reconnecting and new friendships beginning filled the air, interrupted every so often with a sudden outburst of singing silly songs like Grin Again Gang or Put Your Hand in the Fan. Once they got to the conference center there were no cliques; it was just them, the youth group fellowshipping together as one body of believers, celebrating their beliefs and just plain having fun.

The theme of the retreat was the Olympics. Each year everyone looked forward to gathering into groups led by their Juniors and Seniors and creating their own countries based on what piece of cloth they were handed. These cloths became their headbands, armbands, flags, or whatever else the youth could make out of them. They were the symbol of the team’s country and ultimately the inspiration of their country name.

This past year Ruth’s citizenship was to the Grand Republic of Deeresokvia, proudly bearing the John Deere tractor on their nation’s flag. They competed against other countries such as United Toilets, the country of Smurfland, and the mighty nation of Care Bear Union. The fierce competitions between these countries lasted throughout the weekend.

Games of Ultimate Frisbee, water balloon tosses, relay races, sack races, and other Olympic style games were played with determination to claim the gold medal at the end of the weekend and be deemed the dominate country of the world!

Making her entrance into the YAC room, Ruth scanned the place and spotted her friend Jenny sitting on a love seat next to a couch crammed with Institute for Military Guidance cadets.

She sighed when she saw them there. Part of her wished they wouldn’t come at all, but it was a ministry, she was told; as if coming to church could change the life of one of them. If this place was the only way they would ever hear about Jesus, then she guessed it was worth it for them all to come.

But not all of them did come. The IMG bus would drive the ones wanting to go on Wednesdays and Sundays, but other than that they were on their own. Seeing as how they weren’t allowed cars on campus, the cadets had to make friends with those old enough to drive so they could escape their military life on campus for a few hours of normality.

They were a nuisance to the girls, forever staring at them, undressing them with their eyes, but none were ever a threat. They were boys going to an all-boy school with no hope of seeing a female figure unless they came to church. So here they were.

Three of the cadets on the couch Ruth ventured to call friends, but the fourth she didn’t know. Assuming he was new to IMG, she walked cautiously by them, saying hello to the cadets she knew, ignoring the one she didn’t.

She rarely got respect from any of the cadets, and she figured he’d be the same as the rest. So she walked past, trying not to get too close, but the clumsiness in her came out full force as she tripped over the new cadet’s shiny black shoe.

Ruth turned around quickly to apologize, but nothing came out as she looked at him. He certainly was good looking, like God had painted a beautiful picture and set it on His mantle for all His guests to see. If only for a split second, it made Ruth second-guess her decision to stay single.

Embarrassed by the thought, she turned a pretty shade of pink as she apologized quickly and walked away. But as she passed she couldn’t help but look back over at him. There was something about him that sparked her curiosity, and it wasn’t just because he was a great piece of eye candy. It made her intrigued, yet uneasy at the same time.

He sat on the couch, slumped against the back with his arms crossed in front of his chest. His short, dark brown hair was spiked on the top of his head. He had olive skin, and his tan from the summer sun was still visible on his face. His eyes, the color of the ocean just as the sun begins to set, caught her stare and held it. Ruth couldn’t look away. He smiled a crooked grin and tilted his chin up at her.

Completely flustered and embarrassed that she had been staring, she turned away, scolding herself for being so silly. Whatever the reason for her intrigue of this new cadet, she ignored it and sat beside Jenny with a thump. She covered her face with her hands and shook her head.

Jenny’s petite stature, shoulder-length blonde hair, and perky little nose that gave a slight nasal sound to her voice made everyone immediately like her. Ruth hardly ever saw Jenny without a smile. Even when she cried, her eyes always had the look of laughter in them.

“Ruth, what is the matter?” Jenny whispered in her ear.

“See that new cadet sitting beside us?” Ruth mumbled through her fingers.

“Heck, yeah, I see him. He’s a looker.”

“Yes, well, after tripping over him, he caught me staring at him. I’m so embarrassed!”

Jenny burst out laughing. Raising her head to tell her to quiet down, Ruth looked just in time to see all four cadets on the couch looking at them. The new guy leaned forward, around everyone else, to get a better look.

“Great, Jenny. Thanks for all the attention!” she said, slamming the pictures down between them and sinking into the back of the loveseat, wishing it would swallow her.

After a few more seconds of Jenny’s uninterrupted laughter, she regained her composure and picked up the photos.

“Ruth, these pictures are great! I wish I was photogenic.”

Sitting up to look at them with her, Ruth began to regain her own composure. Her mother decided to try her hand at a little photography, so she grabbed the camera and Ruth, as the model, and began snapping away in their rock garden. Swinging on the wooden swing, sitting by the flower bed and reading on the deck; the pictures went on and on.

“Mom was holding the camera too close. I kept telling her they were going to come out blurry, but she didn’t listen.” Ruth shrugged, a little frustrated. They were great pictures, but she had been right and, when they came back from the photo lab slightly blurry, it had made her mad.

A young Hispanic girl with her sister walked by the couch, accidentally bumping into Ruth. Ruth said hello, and she responded shyly in broken English. They were part of a new Hispanic family who had just started attending the church and didn’t speak much English.

“Hola, Amiga!” Hurtz said as he snickered and punched Robins playfully in the arm.

Timothy Hurtz and Ken Robins were two of the four cadets sitting on the couch. They were living up to their IMG reputations by demonstrating typical cadet behavior, high fiving each other as if they had accomplished a huge task.

“Yeah! Coma Esta, Senorita?” the arrogant new guy chimed in, snickering along with Hurtz as the girls walked away.

“Guys, come on!” Ruth turned to them, giving them her most evil glare.

Hurtz and Robins tried to stifle their laughter. They both knew Ruth pretty well and were two of the few who actually respected her. They also knew how sensitive she was about how people are treated. So, they straightened up a little when she gave them the “look.”

The new guy just stared at her, so she took a stance against her belief in not making fun of others and was ready to defend it by all means necessary. Despite the growing color change in her face and the heat rising in her neck from the waves of those ocean blue eyes crashing into hers, she stared back.

“Ruth, we were just saying hello. We weren’t being mean!” Stopher Eddings, who had remained quiet until now, insisted with a smirk and a giggle. Ruth released her stare on the new guy.

“You keep it up and you know what’ll come next!” She squinted at them, and they laughed at her. She giggled back at them, knowing good and well she’d never do anything except fuss at their bad behavior. As she turned back to Jenny she overheard that new cadet.

“Is she some kind of royal you-know-what?” he asked Eddings.

Within a second Ruth was standing in front of him, staring down, arms folded across her chest. He looked up at her and smirked as if challenging her to do something other than speak.

That smirk was about to drive her crazy. At that moment all she wanted to do was slap it right off his face. Jenny joined her stance, though Ruth was sure she was unaware of what had just occurred. As they vacated the couch, Hurtz reached over and grabbed the pictures they had just abandoned. He and Robins began thumbing through them.

“Do you have a problem with me?” Ruth questioned the cadet.

“Hey, Ruth, come on, now. He was just joking,” Eddings offered. Her stare never wavered from the new guy.

“Yeah, Davis doesn’t know you. He was just kidding,” Robins said, passing a few of her pictures to him.

The new cadet finally took his eyes off her to look at the picture. He smiled, took one of her favorites, and put it into his pocket. Feeling a little flattered, Ruth backed off and sat on the arm of the couch.

“So what’s your name?” she asked him.

“It’s Davis,” he replied. She rolled her eyes and slid onto the couch, pushing Hurtz over to make room for herself.

“Yes, dear,” she said sarcastically, looking around Hurtz and Robins to see him. “But what’s your first name? You know, the one your mama calls you?”

“Luke,” he answered, not looking at her.

“Wow, aren’t you one for conversation?”

Luke Davis didn’t reply. He just leaned up, looked around Hurtz and Robins and gave her another crooked smile.

Ruth didn’t know what made her want to continue their conversation. There was something challenging about him. He had a way of saying, or not saying, just the right thing to make someone mad enough to keep pushing him. She thought he enjoyed taunting her and she, like a fish to a baited hook, bit right at it.

“Okay, Luke,” Ruth said, dragging out his name. “If you want to keep that picture of me, then you’re going to have to give me a little more conversation than one word answers.”

He huffed and sat back against the couch, his hand unconsciously resting over the pocket that held her picture. Something cool and mocking was in his eyes, and it sent a shiver up her spine.

Luckily, Joe, her Youth Minister, began gathering everyone together while trying to start the video. Attempting to talk over all the teenagers, intermittently turning back to slide the video in and find the right buttons while pushing up the glasses that kept sliding down to the end of his nose, he managed to get the video stuck and solicited some of the youth to rectify the situation. She laughed to herself. He never was good at multi-tasking. Distracted briefly by the comical display from Joe, she was able to collect her thoughts and address Luke.

“Why don’t you sit here with me?” she suggested, moving to the floor. “I’ll tell you what’s going on in the video.”

Surprisingly, Luke got off the couch and sat with her. The video started as she explained about the Back to School Retreat and all the events that went along with the weekend. She pointed herself out to him as the video showed her on her stomach attempting to retrieve a white lifesaver out of a pan of flour, using only her face and a toothpick in her mouth.

He laughed at her. Well, laughed with her because she was laughing at herself. From blowing ping-pong balls across the table at other people, with chewed up saltine crackers in their mouths, to sliding down a hill on refrigerator boxes, there was nothing else to do but laugh.

“So, you never told me your name.” Luke leaned into her and whispered in her ear.

Unable to shake the warmth of his breath on her neck she sat frozen and silent. She heard him laugh under his breath as he repositioned himself a comfortable distance from her.

“It’s Ruth. My name, that is,” she finally sputtered out, ashamed for losing control of her demeanor.

“Like Ruth from the Bible. Isn’t she the one who said, ‘Your people shall be my people and your God my God’?”

Taken aback by a cadet quoting scripture, she turned to him, clearly surprised.

“Don’t look so surprised, Ruth. I’m not the only person in the world who reads the Bible.” Luke laughed.

“I’m sorry; I just don’t know many cadets who do!”

“Well, now you’ve met one. So, back to your name. Is that where you get your name from or do you have some old great aunt you were named after?”

“No great aunts named Ruth. My sister’s name is Evelyn, but we call her Eve. She was the first born, so my mom decided to name her after the first woman.” Ruth shook her head, slightly ashamed of her name.

“Well, that doesn’t explain your name.”

“My mother’s name is Naomi. Didn’t you say you knew the story of Ruth in the Bible?”

Luke burst out laughing at the idea of her mother naming her Ruth because her name was Naomi.

“I guess Orpah was a little too strange for your mom then!”

Ruth began to laugh with him, and soon their conversation became easy, like they’d been friends for years. He was from Georgia, on the coast, where he learned to surf and sail at a young age. He had two sisters, a couple of dogs, and a green Jeep Cherokee that he missed very much, but not in that order.

Luke wasn’t a typical cadet. He was friendly and seemed genuine. He appeared to be a good Christian guy, and Ruth was grateful for his company. He made her have butterflies in her stomach, but she squashed them as soon as they began fluttering their wings.

She didn’t want a boyfriend. She sort of had one already. But he was away at boot camp, and she wasn’t entirely clear on the status of their relationship. She was waiting until Thanksgiving to see where they stood, but honestly she was happy being single.

Before they knew it, the IMG bus was honking its horn signaling the cadets to hustle to the bus. They stood slowly, neither wanting the conversation to end.

“Hey, Ruth. Look, I’m sorry about making cracks at those girls. I didn’t think it would offend anyone. You seem so sensitive about other people, and I like that about you.” Luke smiled at her.

It felt like he was looking right through her. Ruth averted her eyes, not trusting what he could read in them. They made their way outside where the crisp night air wrapped tightly around her. Fall was on its way, and the Southern heat was beginning to hibernate.

“I’m glad I got to meet such a wonderful girl,” he whispered to her, but this time not on her neck.

She shivered, but it wasn’t from the breeze. Ruth looked back at him and caught something in his eyes. For a moment she saw conceit. She saw an arrow and suddenly felt like a target. It flickered out almost as soon as it appeared. Uncomfortable, she began to fidget.

Ruth looked away again and heard him snicker under his breath. Something inside of her snapped and a piece of her old self began to rise. She smiled and sheepishly turned her big brown eyes up at him.

Oh my gosh, she thought, I’m flirting! I can’t believe I’m flirting with this guy.

She nervously laughed out loud at her behavior, but then decided a little flirting couldn’t hurt anyone. Luke tilted his head, and gave her a crooked smile. She didn’t look away this time, playing his game right along with him.

“I enjoyed talking with you tonight,” he continued. “Would it be okay if I called you sometime?”

“Sure,” she said, clearly speaking before thinking.

What am I doing? I just agreed to give him my number. Stupid is what stupid does, I guess! She laughed again, rolled her eyes, and wrote her number on the palm of his hand.

I’m going to regret this, she thought, knowing deep down that she really was going to regret this.

“Hey, guys! LOOK!” Luke started shouting to his friends on the bus. “I just got the number from the prettiest girl in Westbrook!”

Luke smiled at her, winked, and began to get on the bus. She wrapped her arms around her body, trying to chase away the goose bumps rising. The cadets began hollering and hanging out the bus windows. She rocked back on her heels as he started down the stairs.

“Don’t be jealous!” she shouted back, waving at the four cadets she called friends.

Back in the YAC room, Ruth was making her way to the pool tables to speak to her good friend Timothy.

Susanne, who was stretched out on the couch, chatting away, and eating Reese’s Pieces, grabbed Ruth’s arm and pulled her down beside the couch.

“Ruth,” she whispered behind her smirk, darting her eyes around to see if anyone was listening. “So, I saw you talking to that guy. Are you going to start dating him?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure if I even like him.”

“Well, if you don’t, then I’m going after him. Ruth, he’s hot!” Susanne and another other girl began to giggle, so Ruth just shrugged, got up, and kept walking.

She suddenly felt challenged. Luke had singled her out, or did she single him out? If she didn’t allow him to pursue her, then he’d find someone else. As good looking as he was, it wouldn’t take long for him to find a girl around here. Pride began to creep up her back, blinding her to the outcome. She’d be the most coveted girl in youth group if she dated him. The thought was pleasant.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the most eligible bachelor in youth group on her arm when Mark, her unqualified boyfriend, came back from boot camp? Maybe if Mark saw that she had moved on, then he’d realize what he was missing and want her back.

People always seem to want what they can’t have. If he was still unsure about “them” then, she’d show him that she wasn’t going to wait around. When he decided he wanted her, she’d drop Luke like a hot potato and let the next drooling girl have him.

“Hey, Ruth. What’s got you smiling over there?” Timothy asked from across the pool table. She hadn’t even realized she’d stopped walking.

“Oh, nothing. I was coming to talk to you, but there’s my mom. I’ll see you at school.” Giving a quick wave, she rushed past him.

All she wanted to do was get out of there. There were so many thoughts running through her head, questions that she already knew the answers to; questions that she didn’t know the answers, and feelings that she didn’t understand. She wanted to crawl into the bed, but she knew she’d never get to sleep tonight.

Alone in her room at home, Ruth sat on her bed and thought about Luke. She wasn’t interested in pursuing any type of relationship, so why did she feel like she was being pulled into this? Ruth was trying to manipulate a situation into her favor.

She wanted Mark to come home from boot camp and realize what he didn’t have. She thought she loved Mark. He was the first boy she ever kissed. He made her have butterflies, and she was convinced that she wanted to marry him. Ruth fell back onto her pillow and began to reminisce about the first time she saw him at band camp last year.

She missed the first few days of camp because she was in the hospital with Viral Meningitis. By the time she got to camp, everyone had already met. Since she was in Flag line, she was waiting in the front of the band room at Westbrook High School with the other girls.

Holding her equipment, she looked around as she waited for the band director to take his stand at the podium. The marching band members were mostly in their designated sections, but there were always the few who would play on the percussion equipment or chat away with their friends in another area.

Ruth was standing with one of her best friends, Abigail, when she saw him. He was in the back, leaning on a snare drum, when their eyes met. Had it been in the movies, the lights would have dimmed all around them, fireflies would have danced around the darkened room, and everyone else would have faded away. Neither of them could take their eyes off one another. They simply stared, mouths gaping open. Their momentary solitude was broken when someone punched him in the arm.

Ruth jumped at the opportunity to grab her friend and exclaim, “Abby, who is that?” From that moment on, they were inseparable.

Abigail knew him well and gave Ruth all the details. Mark was handsome and a perfect gentleman. He was a senior that year and had plans to join the National Guard. After Guard training, he’d be heading off to the Citadel in Charleston, SC. Neither he nor she had been in a serious relationship before. She had never even been out on a date.

Mark showed her what a real gentleman was. He opened doors for her, held her hand, and never, not once, pressed her to do anything sexual with him. They dated for almost two months before they even had their first kiss.

However, as much ‘love’ that passed between them, her heart was determined to be broken. Ruth was terrified at the thought of being in love and fought with herself on the subject. She thought it best to end their relationship before it got too serious. After all, she was only just turning fifteen. The world told her she was too young to know what real love was. She was too young to be in a serious dating relationship, so she decided to end it all and for no reason other than her own insecurities.

She sat Mark down in band class one day and tried to explain how scared she was. She attempted to make him understand that she just might not be ready for a relationship as serious as this one was heading. She didn’t realize how sharply she was stabbing him in the heart.

How could she have known that secretly he was planning a future with her? Being four years older than Ruth and in more of a position to see his adult future, he felt she was “the one” and didn’t care it could be as much as eight years before they could start a life together.

That night, Ruth realized she’d made a terrible mistake and cried herself to sleep. The very next day she went to Mark and apologized. She told him how stupid she’d been for being afraid and that he was such a wonderful man she simply couldn’t ask for more. But her words did nothing to his broken heart. She had cut him deeply, and he left her alone to cry.

And cry she did, as much as a broken-hearted teenager would cry over their first love. For weeks she would cry at the sight of him. She couldn’t eat or sleep. All she thought of was the relationship she had just ruined. She tried everything she could think of to win his heart again, but with little feat.

She did all the right things and some stupid things. She even tried to make him jealous by kissing his best friend. That plan only made her feel terrible about herself. She found out later that Mark confronted his friend about it, and the conversation ended with Mark bloodying his friend’s nose.

She never did give up, though. That is, until one of her friends told her she was going with him to his Senior Prom. So much for being a friend. She knew how Ruth felt about him, but chose to date him anyway. She didn’t even ask if Ruth would be okay with it.

Ruth had to hear about it after the fact. Mark stabbed her in the back in the worst possible way she could imagine at that time in her life, and she lost a dear friend in the commotion of it all. Ruth spent the rest of her ninth grade year drowning in self-pity.

This past summer, Mark departed for Boot Camp. By that time, they were becoming friends again, and he even came to her job at Sonic to tell her goodbye. Luckily, the restaurant was busy, so she didn’t have time for tears. His dad snapped a picture of them and sent it to him a few weeks later. She tried not to cry as she watched him drive away. She was determined to write him any chance she got, and they’d been exchanging letters all summer long.

She tried loving him through her letters and for eight weeks watched him go through a roller coaster of emotions. During that time he led Ruth to believe that when he returned, they’d be together, just like old times.

It wasn’t until after he completed Boot Camp and moved on to training school that he told Ruth he’d also been writing the girl he took to prom. That broke her heart all over, but she still couldn’t let go. Ruth was determined to be the girl in his life when he returned home in November. He was her first love and the man she thought she wanted to be with.

So now, in September, she couldn’t get involved and risk the chance of losing him again. She had decided against getting involved with Luke. With the new-found revelation, she sat up, turned on her night light, and grabbed her journal.

Ruth’s journal was her refuge. She wrote everything she felt. She’d been writing in journals since elementary school, making note of every tear, smile, and thought that passed through her.

Tonight, she wrote about her continued love for Mark and her meeting the arrogant, yet intriguing cadet that night. She poured out herself onto those pages, filling the empty lines with words she’d later re-read for assurance. When she was finished, she laid back down and dreamed.

The next day, she tried to concentrate on her Algebra homework, but her mind was muddled.

Just that afternoon she’d received a letter from Mark telling her he’d be home a few days after Thanksgiving. He said he wanted to take her out for her birthday, which was only two days before the holiday. Ruth was excited, believing that he still cared about her, but confused at the tone of his letters.

She had been noticing how he didn’t write the same way as before. He wasn’t as sweet and romantic as he usually was. He was becoming harsh and short. The letters that once were six pages long were now only a few lines.

When he asked for nude pictures of her, describing in detail what he wanted them to look like, she was shocked and mortified. She didn’t even wear bikinis in public, so there was no way she was sending him nude pictures!

The request had greatly offended her, but it also burdened her heart. It seemed as if he was conforming to his egotistical surroundings, and it worried her. The man in the letters wasn’t the man she wanted to be with.

“Ruth!” her step-father called from inside the kitchen, which butted against her bedroom wall. “Phone for you.”

She hadn’t heard the phone ring. Normally she would have been the first to answer.

“Okay.” Leaning back in her desk chair, she stretched behind her and grabbed the phone from its cradle. As she lifted the phone, the wheels on her chair slipped from their precarious position, and she came crashing to the ground.

“Hello?” she said, after picking herself off the ground.

“Well, hello to you!” the mystery person replied.

“Who is this?” She didn’t recognize the voice, and the only person she could think of who would be calling her was Mark.

He usually called once every two weeks, and it was about time for him to call again. Ruth sat up, rubbing her elbow and inspecting the damage to her Algebra homework.

“It’s Davis. Don’t you remember me? We met at church last night.”

“Oh, Luke! I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize your voice.” she paused, standing the chair back into its upright position. “I didn’t think you’d be calling.”

“Why wouldn’t I call? I said I would, didn’t I?” His voice penetrated the phone with ice. It was sharp and irritated.

“Yes, well. I don’t believe what guys say to me, especially when they attend IMG. No offense, but you guys don’t have the best reputation for being honest and dependable!” She laughed but meant every word she said.

If this guy was really interested in pursuing her, he was going to have to take it when she dished it out. She wasn’t about to start sugar coating because he appeared to be a nice guy.

“I’m not like other guys, Ruth. You’ll see. I’m different. I think women should be treated like gold. I don’t go around hitting on girls and dating a bunch of people.” He paused, waiting for Ruth to respond.

She refused, rolling her eyes on the other end of the phone, and picking up her Algebra homework, she remained silent. So, he continued.

“I’m getting over an ex-girlfriend I left behind. I want to find the one who God has designed for me. I want to love her with my whole heart and do everything I can for her.”

Wow, like I’ve never heard that line used before! she thought, but quickly scolded herself for being rude and judgmental.

Trying to be nice, she cleared her throat and made small talk.

“What made you come to IMG? That would be the last school I would want to attend.” She changed the subject. The last thing she wanted to hear was him babbling about his past love life.

“Well, I’m interested in the military, and my parents wanted me to go to a private school. My ex and I researched a bunch of schools together and we liked this one best. I thought we were going to stay together while I came here, but she broke up with me a few weeks before I left. She’d been cheating on me. It broke my heart.”

This guy won’t shut up about this ex-girlfriend. Let’s see if he likes it when I talk about my ex-boyfriend!’

“Luke, I’m sorry that happened to you. I know how it feels though. I’m struggling with someone myself,” Ruth offered.

She waited, like he did with her, but was met with silence, so she continued.

“He started dating one of my friends, and now he can’t decide between me or her. I thought we’d get married someday, but apparently the military is changing his mind and views on God. It’s a little disappointing, you know?” she paused, waiting for his response. Once again it didn’t come. “Okay, well I guess you think I’m rambling. So, tell me a little about you.” she said, feeding his ego.

“I just moved here from a little town in Georgia. It’s near the coast, so I’m a beach buff. I love the ocean and sailing. I’d like to take you sailing one day. Maybe that could be our first date!”

“First date? I didn’t know we were dating now! I thought we were just talking on the phone!” It irritated Ruth that he assumed she wanted to date him. He really was as arrogant as she first thought he would be and was starting to get on her nerves. Maybe she should set him straight right off the bat.

“Listen, Luke. I’m not interested in— ”

“I’ll prove to you that I’m the best guy you’ll ever be with,” he interrupted. She heard someone yelling his name in the distance, so she didn’t respond.

“I’m sorry, Ruth, I have to go. We have to be back in the barracks by ten o’clock and Eddings just told me it’s two minutes till. Can I call you tomorrow sometime? I enjoyed talking to you, and I want to get to know you better.”

“Yeah, sure. If you want. Hey, you should join the Youth Choir. We meet on Sundays at five thirty.”

“That sounds good. I’ll see you Sunday morning, though.”

They said their goodbyes and hung up. She didn’t feel quite as uncomfortable as she had before, but there was still something strange and lingering about him. It was probably his arrogance grating against her nerves. But, whatever it was, she just shrugged it off, finished up her Algebra, and got ready for bed. This night, though, she dreamed about Luke.

 

**********************

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Snow is a very difficult and straightforward, but yet heartwarming story of how God changes a person’s life. Ruth made some difficult and bad choices in her young life. My heart broke for Ruth because she was in a relationship that she couldn’t get out of because of guilty accusations from the guy.

I appreciate Kathryn Hewitt being willing to tell her story in this fiction novel. If this book can help one teenage young lady in a situation like Kathryn was in, it is worth it. As I read Ruth’s story, I had to wonderful how many young girls feel the same pressures as Ruth. I praise Kathryn for writing this book, and for having the passion she has to help young ladies from making the same mistakes she did. It took a lot of guts for the author to speak of her own mistakes to the world, but my prayer is that the Lord will use her story to help many young girls make the right decisions. If you have teenage girls, you really need to pick up a copy of this book for you and your teenager to read. I could very well be a life changing event in your daughter’s life.

I just can’t way enough about this book, without giving it away, so grab your copy today to read for yourself!

This book was provided by the author, Kathryn Hewitt through FIRST WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

    

For More Information on SNOW and Kathryn Hewitt, and to purchase the book

http://www.kathrynhewittnovels.com/ordersnow.htm – Please let your readers know that they can purchase a persnoalized, autographed copy direct from me and use the coupon code SAVE20 to purchase it at a near amazon price.

PUYB Presents A Texan’s Choice….By: Shelley Gray

A Texan's Choice banner

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Shelley GrayABOUT SHELLEY GRAY

 

 

Shelley Gray’s first Amish novel, Hidden, was nominated for the Inspirational Readers Choice award. Her book Simple Gifts won the Reviewers Choice Award. Shelley’s novel, The Protector, recently made the New York Times bestseller list.  Her novels have won the prestigious HOLT Medallion Award, the Reviewers Choice Award, and been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She’s also been interviewed on NPR as well as numerous regional radio stations. In addition, her novels have made both the USA Today and New York Times Bestsellers lists.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degrees in educational administration. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time.

Her latest book is the Christian historical fiction, A Texan’s Choice.

You can visit Shelley’s website at www.shelleyshepardgray.com.

Connect with Shelley: Facebook | Goodreads

Purchase A Texan’s Choice: Amazon | Barnes & NobleChristianBook.com | Abingdon Press

 

A Texan's ChoiceABOUT A TEXAN’S CHOICE

When notorious outlaw Scout Proffitt wins a rundown ranch in west Texas, he expects to find the home he’s never had. Instead, he finds a run-down shack, a barn in dire straits…and a lovely woman who’s in no hurry to give up her ranch.

When Scout discovers that Rosemarie has nowhere else to go, he   reluctantly allows her to stay with him for two weeks until she can find another home. But soon the locals get involved and insist they marry.

Determined to do at least one thing right in his life, he marries Rose. Then people from his past come back and give him an offer he can’t refuse. If things go well, he can make a fresh start. If not, he’ll be even worse off than before.

Which was something he never thought possible…

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MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I have been waiting to read Scout Proffit’s story, even he was thought of as an evil man, you could still see the good in him. But I was a bit confused at first because it seemed like so much going on with some of the others Scout ran with, I wasn’t sure where the story was going. But then when they contacted Scout, it all made sense.

 

I enjoyed getting to know Rosemarie, and I really like her a lot. I really felt sorry for her because of the way she was mistreated by her family. And having to be at the mercy of a known killer because she had no place to stay, well that had to be scary for her. But she had nothing, she was use to having nothing, and she had no choice. And the way she and Scout treated each other was heartwarming, even though they were both not sure what the other had in mind.

 

Though I didn’t think this book was as good and as well written as the other two in the series, I was happy to get to know Scout and even meet some of his family. This book has twists and turns that will intrigue you and keep you interested enough to read to the very end. And that’s what makes for a good book!

 

I encourage you to pick up a copy of A Texan’s Choice to read for your enjoyment. And if you haven’t read the first two books in The Heart of A Hero Series, Pick up those too and read them first. They will be a very good, interesting historical fiction for you to enjoy.

 

This book was provided by the publisher, Abingdon Press through PUYB Tours. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

Litfuse Presents…Soul’s Gate…by: James L. Rubart

SOUL’S GATE

By: James Rubart

 

 

Book 1 in the Well Spring series.

“Every now and then we get a break from reality. A glimpse into the other world that is more real than the reality we live in 99 percent of our days. The Bible is about a world of demons and angels and great evil and even greater glory.”

What if you could travel inside another person’s soul? To battle for them. To be part of Jesus healing their deepest wounds. To help set them free to step boldly into their divinely designed future.

Thirty years ago that’s exactly what Reece Roth did. Until tragedy shattered his life and ripped away his future.

Now God has drawn Reece out of the shadows to fulfill a prophecy spoken over him three decades ago. A prophecy about four warriors with the potential to change the world . . . if Reece will face his deepest regret and teach them what he has learned.

They gather at a secluded and mysterious ranch deep in the mountains of Colorado, where they will learn to see the spiritual world around them with stunning clarity—and how to step into the supernatural.

Their training is only the beginning. The four have a destiny to pursue a freedom even Reece doesn’t fully fathom. But they have an enemy hell-bent on destroying them and he’ll stop at nothing to keep them from their quest for true freedom and the coming battle of souls.

Purchase a copy here.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

 

Wow this book is so good I don’t know where to start! Brandon, Marcus and Dana agree to go on a retreat with Reece on a mysterious ranch in Colorado. At this retreat, these four will learn what it really means to follow Christ in a way they never knew before. But can they really do it? And can they live without civilization, no communication with anyone, while at the retreat?

This is my first book by James Rubart, but it for sure will not be the last one! This book is amazing, the characters, the story the writing, all makes for a fantastic read! The more I read, the more I grew to love Brandon, Dana, Marcus and Reece. Like all of us, they had their doubts at what Reece was telling them, but they still wanted freedom in their life so much that they agreed to follow Reece. And when they followed, they experienced the most amazing situations I have never even through of. What an awesome way to describe satan’s attacks on Christians and how we need to fight against satan’s demons, as well as help those around us fight. You will just need to read the book, because there is no way I can explain it. I do know that God changed the way I think about a number of things while reading this book. And the characters are so realistic I found myself wanting to pray for them, and with them.

I think this is a must read for any Christian! You will be in awe of the contents of this book, the way James Rubart gives us an insight about demons in our lives, and a new insight on God, and the fact that He can do anything, because He is God. I strongly encourage you to pick up your copy to read for yourself. It will stay with you for a long time,

A  copy of this book was provided by LitFuse Publicity Group. I want to thank Amy for making sure I rec’d this book, even though the publisher didn’t send it in time for the tour. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

About the Author

James L. Rubart is a professional marketer, speaker, and writer. While being the owner of Barefoot Marketing certainly keeps him on his toes, his passion is writing fiction. Rubart is an ECPA best-selling author who has been positively reviewed by both Publisher’s Weekly and Romantic Times. His first novel, Rooms, won a Best Books 2011 award from USA Book News, as well as a Romantic Times Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. His debut release was followed by Book of Days and The Chair. Soul’s Gate is Rubart’s fourth release. In addition to being an author, Rubart is also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer and semi-pro magician. With all of this, he says that he barely sleeps. Rubart lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest. To keep up with James L. Rubart, visit http://www.jimrubart.com.

 

The first book in best-selling author Jim Rubart’s new series, Soul’s Gate, releases on November 6th! To celebrate, Jim has teamed up with his publisher, Thomas Nelson, for a virtual book tour, iPad Mini giveaway and a Live Video Author Chat {11/13}. Watch the video trailer for the book here.

One “soulful” winner will receive:

  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • Soul’s Gate by Jim Rubart {Be caught up in this captivating series.}

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 12th. Winner will be announced at the “Soul’s Gate Author Chat Party on 11/13. Connect with Jim for an evening of book chat, trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of Soul’s Gate and join Jim on the evening of the November 13th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 13th!

A Promise to Love……… By: Serena Miller

A Promise to Love……… By: Serena Miller

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Can a marriage of convenience ever become one of true love?

Ingrid Larsen arrives in Michigan in 1871 with little more than the clothes on her back and a determination to find her brother, who has disappeared into the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, the young Swedish immigrant crosses paths with Joshua Hunter, a newly widowed farmer with eyes the color of the ocean she had crossed and five rambunctious children to raise on his own.

Marriage would solve both of their problems, and Ingrid finds herself proposing in broken English to a man she barely knows. Many difficulties lie ahead–but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.

Endorsements

“Historical fiction at its finest! Serena Miller writes with an irresistible freshness and honesty, crafting compelling characters that leave you changed. I eagerly anticipate her next novel!”–Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning

“Serena Miller has done it again. With fascinating history and characters you can’t help but love, she’s written a story that pulls at your heartstrings and keeps you turning pages as fast as you can to see what happens next. And just when you think the story tension can’t get any higher, she turns up the excitement another notch. A story not to be missed!”–Ann H. Gabhart, author of Words Spoken True and The Gifted

“If you’re searching for novels with both heart and soul, you will love the thoughtful and richly satisfying works of Serena Miller. I do.”–Emilie Richards, author of Sunset Bridge and One Mountain Away

 

I love, love this sweet heartwarming historical romance. Ingrid Larsen is a real sweetheart, and I wanted to smack that mistress of hers for beating her with a whip. But Ingrid had enough backbone to walk out and leave, not knowing what would happen to her. On the other hand, Joshua Hunter just lost his wife, and is left with four girls and one infant son to take care of. Since his inlaws are blaming him for his wife’s death, the only thing that makes sense is to marry Ingrid to take care of his children. But taking care of his house and family is all that will ever be between them. And this is where the story gets interesting!

Serena Miller is a wonderful storyteller. I love the realistic and believable characters she created for A Promise to Love. They play the story out and make it seem so real that you feel a part of it. And the vivid detail of the historical events and setting takes you on a trip back in time that you will never forget. And to know that a lot of the events and settings in the story is taken from real life actions and places, for me it makes the story so much more special. Ms. Miller truly did her homework in researching the early 1800’s to tell her story, and you can feel the love and passion she has for this era and its people.

I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes Christian fiction, historical fiction and just a good clean read to enjoy. So pick up your copy today to read and enjoy.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group*

I received this book from Revell Publishers. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are my own.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Serena B. Miller is the author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman’s World, Guideposts, Reader’s Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.

Flight of Fancy….By: Laurie Alice Eakes

Flight of Fancy….

By: Laurie Alice Eakes

 

Book Blurb

Her head is in the clouds. His feet are planted firmly on the ground. Can love cover the distance?

Cassandra Bainbridge may be a bit of a bluestocking, but when Geoffrey Giles is near, love seems a fine alternative to passion for Greek and the physics of flight. With his dashing good looks and undying devotion to her, the earl of Whittaker sets Cassandra’s heart racing with his very presence. It seems his only flaw is his distaste for ballooning, the obsession that consumes so much of her thoughts.

When a terrible accident compels her to end her betrothal, Cassandra heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. With time on her hands and good friends to help her, she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when Lord Whittaker slips back into her life, will she have to choose between him and her dream?

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Set in Regency historical period of England in 1812, Flight of Fancy is book two in The Daughters of Bainbridge House Series. And for some reason it took me a while to really get into the story, but as I kept reading, the more interesting and intriguing the story became! I really enjoyed the ballooning and math formulas woven into the story as Cassandra pursues her dreams during her physical healing as well as healing her broken heart after her breakup with Lord Whittaker. It was a little different twist than I’ve read before, and it was nice. And then Lord Whittaker comes back into her life, and Cassandra has a big decision to make. Does she follow her dreams or does she follow Lord Whittaker?

 

If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy the journey to the early 1800’s England. With the vivid details of the historical England setting, you will feel as though you are there, in the story with the characters. Pick up your copy soon for an awesome read.

 

Set in Regency historical period of England in 1812, Flight of Fancy is book two in The Daughters of Bainbridge House Series. And for some reason it took me a while to really get into the story, but as I kept reading, the more interesting and intriguing the story became! I really enjoyed the ballooning and math formulas woven into the story as Cassandra pursues her dreams during her physical healing as well as healing her broken heart after her breakup with Lord Whittaker. It was a little different twist than I’ve read before, and it was nice. And then Lord Whittaker comes back into her life, and Cassandra has a big decision to make. Does she follow her dreams or does she follow Lord Whittaker?

 

If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy the journey to the early 1800’s England. With the vivid details of the historical England setting, you will feel as though you are there, in the story with the characters. Pick up your copy soon for an awesome read.

 

“Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

This book was provided by Revell Publishing. I was not required or expected to give a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of Lady in the Mist, Heart’s Safe Passage, A Necessary Deception, A Flight of Fancy, and several other novels. She won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian. Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.

FIRST Wildcard Tours presents Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Catherine West
and the book:
Hidden in the Heart
OakTara (September 15, 2012)
***Special thanks to Catherine West for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Everything Claire wants seems to be beyond her reach…

After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living. Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price.

With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother.

For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from.

But what if the woman who gave her life doesn’t want to be found?

For all those who have loved, experienced loss, and lived life’s roller-coaster.

 

MY THOUGHTS

Hidden In The Heart is an amazing story of love, forgiveness and acceptance. Claire’s life is so mixed up she is now dependant on pills and alcohol because she finds it difficult dealing with losing her mom and having a miscarriage. And having another baby is not an option because she feels genetic problems could be the reason for her miscarriage. So she goes on a mission to find her birth mom to find out who she is.

Claire is dealing with issues that a lot of people face today, maybe not the exact same thing, but related issues. And I loved James and the way he was with Claire, willing to support her and love her, even when he didn’t understand. Catherine West weaves a story of hurts, addiction, and uncertainty, and shows how our lives can change to love, forgiveness, courage and peace when we trust God with our lives.

I love this wonderful, sweet, heartwarming story dealing with adoption; it is one I read in one setting. And it is a story that will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend Hidden in the Heart for anyone to read, because it is a story that will be enjoyed by whoever reads it.

I rec’d this book from the publisher Oaktara through F.I.R.S.T. WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.95

Paperback: 248 pages

Publisher: OakTara (September 15, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1602903298

ISBN-13: 978-1602903296

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Claire Ferguson stood outside Baby Gap, unable to look away from the Christmas display. Red velvet dresses and miniature-sized plaid waistcoats. Tiny suede boots, tiny patent leather shoes, tiny colorful striped hats and scarves.Everything was tiny.

Claire stared at a little red dress, her eyes filling as she imagined and wished for the impossible.

People filed in and out of the store, smiling, laughing. Happy. An ordinary day filled with ordinary tasks and lists of things that must be accomplished. She had no such list—just an overwhelming need to pass time quickly on this day that was not so ordinary.

Claire steadied herself and glanced at her watch. Late afternoon. Shoppers jostled by, oblivious to her pain, all in a hurry to get their purchases and conquer the next store in the mall.

If only she had a reason to hurry.

‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ crooned from the mall loudspeakers. Claire bit her lip and cursed Bing.

Christmas would be merry when it was over.

Claire tightened her grip around the numerous bags she carried and slowly moved forward. Her heel slipped on a slick patch of tile. She regained her balance before falling, but the effort shook her and sent her pulse racing.

After walking a bit, her arms began to burn. Her overflowing shopping bags were heavy, but gave a sense of accomplishment. She’d gotten out of bed and had the purchases to prove it.

“Claire? Hey…yoo-hoo!” A woman’s greeting floated above the noise of the crowd.

Claire lowered her head and rummaged through her purse. She popped a few breath mints into her mouth and chewed as she weighed her options.

Pretend she didn’t hear. Pretend to be someone else. Or turn around and face the owner of the vaguely familiar voice still calling her name.

Curiosity won out and Claire turned.

“Hi, Claire! I thought that was you.” The woman waved and hurried over. Platinum blonde hair swooshed around her shoulders. “Long time no see. You do remember me, don’t you?”

“Um…” No. Claire pushed through the tangled cobwebs in her brain. “Ashley…right? High school?” The woman’s Colgate-bright smile never faltered. She could have been on the cover of a magazine. Or a toothpaste commercial.

“Amanda. Barrington.” Blue eyes twinkled as though she held some untold secret. “Gosh, it’s been a while. How are you? Have time for a coffee?”

“Coffee?” Claire screwed up her nose. Vodka tonic would be more enticing, but whatever. She didn’t have anywhere to be. Not really. “Sure.”

They settled around a table at Starbucks. Amanda insisted on buying, which was fine with Claire. A few minutes later she sipped an Espresso and managed a smile. “So. Amanda. What have you been up to since high school?”

“Oh, not too much, you know. Busy. You?”

Claire nodded. “Same. Busy. Very busy.” Busy not answering the phone. Busy surfing channels. Busy ignoring the whole world.

Amanda stirred another packet of sweetener into her Caffè Misto. “You got married a few years ago, didn’t you? You and James?”

A bizarre image of Guy Smiley from Sesame Street flashed before her and Claire wondered what she’d done to win a spot on This Is Your Life. She suppressed a giggle. That third drink at lunch probably hadn’t been such a great idea. “Yep. Me and James.”

“Any kids?”

As if on cue, a mother walked past them pushing a toddler. The kid looked her way and released a blood-curdling wail. Claire let out her breath. “Didn’t you go to Vassar?”

“Oh.” Amanda’s pretty smile petered out as she fiddled with the top of her cup. “Yes, but I dropped out. Had a breakdown of sorts.”

“Of sorts?” Maybe that was the same as being a little bit pregnant. A ripple of anxiety washed over Amanda’s face and Claire felt a pinch of guilt. “Hey, it’s cool. I’m the last person to be throwing judgment around.” She pulled at a loose thread on her sweater.

Getting out of bed this morning had been tiresome enough, she hadn’t given much thought to her wardrobe. Just grabbed a pair of yoga pants and a long sweater that covered her butt, and pushed her feet into a pair of Uggs. She took in Amanda’s pristine appearance, fumbled with her hair and tried to remember whether she’d even brushed it. “Are you…okay now?” Stupid question. Of course she was.

“Oh, yes.” Amanda answered too quickly. “Right as rain.”

“Funny, that.” Claire couldn’t stop a grin. “Right as rain. People always complain when it rains, don’t they? I mean, what’s right about it, really?”

Amanda didn’t hide surprise well. She opened her mouth but no words came. She nibbled on a bran muffin and dabbed cherry lips with a paper napkin. “Um. I heard your mother died. Last year, was it? I’m sorry.”

Of course she was sorry. Everybody was sorry. God was probably even sorry.

Claire studied her nails. The pink polish was chipped and faded, most of her nails worn down by her chewing on them. Another habit she couldn’t seem to break. “She had cancer. Only lived a few months after her diagnoses.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Yup.” Claire nodded, still pondering Amanda’s mysterious breakdown. She really wanted to ask how the accommodations were at the funny farm, because if things got any worse she might just be heading there herself. “So, what are you doing now, you know, now that you’re…okay?” Small talk seemed more appropriate.

Amanda perked up at the change of subject. “Oh, a bit of this and that. I’m planning a wedding, so you know how that goes. I got engaged a few months ago.” She waved a hand, a diamond the size of a small country in Africa almost blinding Claire. “You know, Claire…when I saw you, I remembered. You were adopted too, right?”

Hot liquid sloshed out of the small hole in the plastic lid and Claire put her cup down in a hurry. She dabbed at the mess and tried to think what an appropriate response would be. ‘None of your business’ probably wouldn’t go over so well.

“Too?” As Claire lifted the top off her paper cup to clean it, the lid on her memory slid off with it. “That’s right. You were the only other kid I knew who was adopted. Our mothers were friends for a while, weren’t they?”

“When we were in eighth and ninth grade.” Amanda’s eyes got misty. “I used to love going over to your house; you were so much fun. But then we…drifted apart I guess. You ran with the cool kids. I was a geek.”

“Oh.” Claire pushed down the lid of her cup and prayed she hadn’t been completely horrible to this poor girl who had apparently once been a friend.

“Anyway. I found my birth mother.” Amanda sat back, a small smile set in place. “That’s what I wanted to tell you. I thought you…well…that you would understand.”

“Your birth mother?” The words slammed into Claire, went straight for the gut, held tight and twisted. “No kidding?” She took another sip and hoped Amanda wouldn’t notice the tremor in her hand. “How?”

“It wasn’t that hard, really.” Amanda blinked and gazed across the crowded room for a moment. A bizarre heavy metal version of Jingle Bells blasted through the speakers and they shared a smile. “I suppose I just got tired of looking in the mirror and wondering. You know?”

Boy, did she know. Claire shrugged. “When was this?”

“Two years ago. I talked to my parents first, and they were okay with it. I wrote away for my non-identifying information and next thing I knew, Social Services was calling to put me in touch with her.”

“How’d that go?” A slow pounding began in her temples and Claire swallowed down the urge to puke. There was something wrong about this—having this conversation—today, on the anniversary of her mother’s death. Amanda of course, couldn’t know that. Couldn’t know that Claire had, of late, thought of doing the very same thing.

Searching.

Searching for answers. Searching for truth. As if somehow knowing the circumstances concerning her birth would help her get her life back.

Thoughts of whether or not to proceed had become an obsession.

Maybe her best friend, Melanie, was right. “There are no coincidences, Claire. Only Godincidences.” Claire could hear her Melanie now. “It’s a sign. You should do it.”

The only sign Claire wanted to see was the one that said BAR.

She turned her attention back to her long lost friend and hoped she hadn’t missed anything earth shattering.

“We’re not that much alike, and after the first meeting…” Amanda prattled on. “But you know, did you ever think about it? I mean, your mom’s gone now and…”

“Me? Oh, no.” Claire checked her watch and frowned. She was supposed to meet James for dinner. “Hey, this was great, but…you know. My husband…we have plans.”

“Yes, of course. Well…” Amanda foraged in her Marc Jacobs bag and came up with a gold-embossed business card. “Give me a call sometime, Claire. And if you change your mind, you know, about searching, I’m here to help.”

“Thanks. It was great to see you.”

“Merry Christmas.”

“Sure. You have a good one.”

Claire waded through the sea of shoppers until she reached the doors to the parking lot, and stumbled outside. Cold air brought clarity and she breathed deeply. She clasped her elbows and willed the trembling to stop, willed the world to stop spinning as she tried to get her bearings and headed in the general direction she hoped she’d parked.

She needed to get out of here. But to what?

Claire stopped walking and stared at the slush beneath her feet. The knot in her stomach pulled tight. James would be expecting her.

He wanted to talk. Again.

Claire had run out of words a long time ago.

She turned toward the warm building again, scanned the area inside the doors and spied a TGI Friday’s. It was a bit too early for food, but that didn’t matter.

She wasn’t planning on eating.

Two hours later, Claire peered at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Maybe she should call a cab. She splashed some water on her face, spritzed a little perfume on her neck and picked up her bags.

After waiting half an hour for a cab to come into sight, Claire’s feet were frozen. She gave up and headed back to her car. It would be fine. She hadn’t had that much to drink.

She maneuvered her car down the back roads as carefully as she could. Snow started to fall and got heavier by the minute. Claire shook her head and cursed the snow. Cursed herself for being so stupid.

Staying in bed would have been the more sensible solution.

She’d been doing better. Almost convinced she could make it through the holidays. Now all she could think about was Mom, and that stupid conversation she’d had with Amanda.

Pain rushed her with such force she considered pulling off the road to expel the liquid sloshing around in her stomach. She was re-living it all over again. That long, dark night when her world had shattered like a Christmas ornament dropped from the highest branches of the tree.

“She’s gone, Claire…”

They all thought death was something you could prepare for. Thought if you read up, prayed up and clammed up, it would all be okay.

Her father read books and retreated into silence.

James went to church, put them all on the prayer chain and talked to God.

And Claire just ignored it and hoped the day would never come.

But it had, come and gone, and taken her mother with it.

A blast of sirens jolted her back to the present. Her SUV swerved and she pulled on the wheel, slowing until the vehicle straightened. Obnoxious blue and red flashers intensified the pain in her head. Claire swore, flicked on her turn signal and pulled over. Great. Just what she needed to make a crappy day even crappier.

“Ya better watch out, ya better not cry…” The modern version of the classic blasted from the radio. “Ya better not pout, I’m tellin’ you why…” The Boss’s raspy voice belted out the warning.

Claire almost grinned. Too late, Bruce. Already on the black list this year.

Through the rear-view mirror she watched the officer step out of his vehicle. He sloshed through gray snow, his burly frame shadowed in the setting sun, but she’d recognize that bear-like gait anywhere.

Definitely not Santa Claus.

Claire shook her head, her throat drying up. Why did it have to be him?

She shoved her hand in her purse, pulled out her breath mints and put a few in her mouth, wishing she’d had a second cup of coffee. She chewed quickly and shoved another couple in just before he reached her car.

Robert Ferguson tapped on her car window, a scowl set in place. His dark blue jacket was zipped halfway, his badge glinting. Claire returned the scowl and prayed for an apocalypse.  He rapped again and Claire knew she had no choice. She pressed the button and the window slid down.

“Hello, Claire.” Her brother-in-law stepped back and folded his arms over his chest.

A blast of cold air smacked her face as she shifted to face him, tightening her grip on the wheel. “Robert. What a pleasant surprise.” Not. She forced a smile and thought about sending up a quick prayer, but what would be the point?

God wasn’t listening. Not to her.

Not anymore.

“You okay?” He studied her in silence, suspicion settling in his eyes.

Okay? She had a wet butt from falling in the parking lot, lived through that strange conversation with Amanda and had a case of major indigestion, but whatever. “Sure, I’m okay. Sweet of you to ask.” Her heart rate jumped in time to the music as he let out a sigh.

“Can you turn off the stereo, please?”

“Sure.” Claire blinked at the dash and squinted. The silver buttons were so small and they all looked alike. “Ah. There. Better?”

“Where’ve you been, Claire? You were driving a little erratically.”

“Erratically?” She widened her eyes, surprised he knew such a big word. “Oh, back there, you mean? Yeah, black ice. Thought I was done for.”

His scowl deepened, forming a crater above the bridge of his nose. “Black ice, huh? You were all over the road. Going too fast, then too slow…I’ve been following you about a quarter mile. I guess you didn’t notice.”

“Seriously? Guess I didn’t. You know, female drivers. We never check the rear view mirror unless we’re putting on lipstick.” Her palms grew moist despite the cold air flooding her car.

His bland expression told her he wasn’t buying it. “Have you been drinking?” Robert narrowed his eyes, leaning in a little closer.

Claire shook her head and the interior of the car spun. She covered her mouth with one hand and took a minute. “Of course not. I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t do something like that.”

“Claire,” he growled, placing his big hands on the ledge of the open window, “level with me.”

There might have been a hint of compassion in his eyes but it faded too soon. Claire stared at the falling snow and wondered what she’d look like in orange. “I…um…went out for lunch. I might have had a glass of wine. That’s all. Really. I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine.” He took a step back. “Want to get out of the car?”

“No,” she squeaked. “Come on, Robby. I just told you, I’m okay. Thanks for checking up on me though.” The back of her neck prickled and her throat constricted. He couldn’t possibly be serious.

Robert yanked the door open. “Get out.”

“Please, Robert. I’m begging you. I’m not drunk. You can follow me home if you want to.”

“Get out of the car, Claire.” Anger dripped off his tongue and she knew she’d pushed his limit. Maybe if she pretended to pass out she’d wake up and find this was all some weird dream. Maybe she’d just pass out anyway.

“Claire. Today. If you wouldn’t mind.”

“I’m coming.” She struggled to stand, slipped on the slush beneath her and he caught her elbow before she fell. The towering pines across the road blurred into one big green snowball, hurtling toward her. She steadied herself and tried to focus on Robert. This was a nightmare. It had to be.

But no, she’d definitely had too much to drink and now she was busted.

Served her right.

There was always a price to pay.

She just wished Robert didn’t have to be the one to collect.

He barked instructions at her and Claire tried to follow what he was saying, but the buzzing in her ears made it hard to understand him. And she really had to pee.

“You’re a mess,” he muttered. He leaned forward, his eyes blazing into her. “You’re going to blow over, you know that, right?”

“Maybe we should just skip it then.” Claire held out her wrists toward him and smiled.

“Just get in the patrol car. I’ll drive you home.”

“What? You’re not going to arrest me? You’re actually going to give me a break?” Claire stared in disbelief. “That’s…so…unlike you, Robby.”

He shifted and put his hands on his hips, his stance wide. “Claire, seriously? I’m trying to be nice here.”

“Just spreading a little Christmas joy, huh?” Her eyes landed on the butt of his revolver, his hand dangerously close to it. Tears welled and one rolled down her cheek into the corner of her mouth.

“All right.” He zipped up his coat and propelled her toward the police car. “Let’s get you off the road before you kill somebody.”

“I don’t need your help, Robert.” She tried to squirm out of his grip but he was too strong.

“Do you want me to bring you in, Claire? Honestly, it would be a real pleasure. I’m only giving you a break out of respect for my brother. If you want to throw your life away, fine, I really don’t care, but don’t take him down with you.”

Claire whirled to face him. “Then arrest me! Go on. It’s what you’re supposed to do anyway, right?” The words flew out before she could stop them. She watched his mouth twitch.

“Get in the car.” His glare was enough to silence her into submission.

Claire climbed into the back of the black and white patrol car. It reeked of sweat, cigarettes and coffee. She leaned her head against the plastic-covered seat and waited. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him retrieve her purse from her vehicle while he talked on his cell phone. Her heart raced as she tried to second-guess him. He wasn’t going to arrest her. That was the good news.

Maybe she could get home without her father or James finding out. She’d sleep it off and be fine in the morning.

And never, ever, do anything so stupid again.

Done with his call, Robert tossed her purse onto the seat beside her and slammed the door. The car shook from side to side. Claire winced and closed her eyes. She pulled her knees up, resting her boots on the divider as he pulled back onto the road. “Excuse me?” She rapped on the plastic glass between them. “Can you maybe have my car taken home? There’s a lot of stuff in there. I just went shopping.”

“Before or after you stopped at the bar?”

“Robert!”

“Relax, Claire.” He cracked his gum and sniffed. “There’s a tow-truck on the way. It’ll be impounded. You’ll get it back eventually.”

“Stop kidding around. You can’t do this to me. Come on…”

He slowed at a stoplight along Main. Claire inched down on the seat, searching the faces on the sidewalk. “Where are you taking me? The exit is the other way.”

“I know where the exit is.”

He hated her. He was going to arrest her after all.

Claire swallowed back nausea and chewed on a torn fingernail. “So, um…how’s the family?”

Robert’s shoulders stiffened and he cleared his throat, glancing back at her through the mirror. “Claire?”

“Yes?”

“Stop talking.”

“Sorry.” Claire foraged through the jumbled mess of things inside her purse and came up with a lipstick. Didn’t bother checking the color. After applying a generous amount to her dry lips, she smacked them together. Bad idea. Her stomach rolled again and she popped a couple more mints in her mouth.

When he parked the car at the back of the precinct, Claire glared at the three-story gray building, crumbling in places. She swore it would fall down one of these days. With any luck Robert would be inside when it did.

“You said you were going to take me home.” Claire stared at the back of his big head, watching a fly settle on the short dark hair. Maybe she could smack it for him.

He cleared his throat and she pushed aside the idea.

“You’re staying at your dad’s house now, right?”

“Yes.”

“That’s what I thought. That place is at least a half hour out on the other side of town. That would be going way beyond my family obligations. You can wait here until somebody comes for you.”

“Who’s coming? Who did you call?” Claire pushed herself out of the car but he ignored her and escorted her through the back doors. She walked slowly, determined not to slip. Or fall over. They passed a couple of officers in the hall. Claire saw some raised eyebrows and one of the men let out a low whistle. Wonderful. She’d be the talk of small town Connecticut within the hour.

Robert stopped outside a small office at the far end of the corridor. He kicked the door with his black boot and it swung open. He walked in, checked out the room and glanced her way. “Take a seat. Nobody will bother you. Unless I tell them to.”

Claire’s feet wouldn’t move. “Look, I can just call a cab…I…”

“Nope. You’ll stay right here until you sober up.”

She marched to the desk, threw her purse down and turned on him. “You can’t just shove me in here, Robert! I know my rights! Which you haven’t even read me by the way, and…”

“Claire.” He breathed out her name, sounding tired and beyond reasoning. “Sit down, and for the last time, shut up.” Fury ran across his face. “I told you, I’m not arresting you. But I should be. You should be thanking me, not yelling at me like you haven’t done anything wrong.” Robert stood near the door, his eyes softening. “You’ve got to start dealing with life, Claire. You can’t go on like this.”

She pushed hair off her face and pinched her lips together. “Where do you get off telling me how to ‘deal with it’?” Familiar anger coiled inside her stomach and the dull ache returned. She sank into the chair behind the desk. “First my mother dies; then I have a miscarriage. Why does everybody expect me to just forget, just get over it?” Claire leaned back and closed her eyes.

“That’s not what I meant. But it’d be nice if you started acting more like a mature adult instead of a spoiled, out-of-control teenager.”

“Are you done?” She put her head in hands.

“I’ll be back in a while.”

“Fine.” Claire gazed up at him, unsmiling. “Thank you.”

“Sure. Whatever.” He turned and slammed the door behind him. The noise reverberated around the small room and pierced through her skull.

Claire rubbed her temples and wondered if she could down a couple of Tylenol without water. Robert was probably enjoying every minute of this. He’d hold court later at his favorite watering hole and regale his buddies with the story of how he finally one-upped his wayward sister-in-law.

Claire groaned at the thought. Since Mom’s death, things just seemed to go from bad to worse. Her family, her husband, the whole world was against her. Every single day she had to endure some trial.

She slumped down, put her head on the desk and took a deep breath.

Robert was right though. This time.

She was guilty. She should have known better than to drink and drive. But once she got started, it was so easy to keep them coming. She just wanted to get rid of the pain. But whatever the amount she’d consumed today, it wasn’t enough.

It was never enough.

 

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