FIRST WildCard Tours Presents A Cowboy at Heart by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

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:
Lori Copeland

and

Virginia Smith

and the book:
A Cowboy at Heart
Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen inspirational novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with ecclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


When an unscrupulous cattle baron tries to steal Amish land, a brave cowboy intervenes and is wounded. Lovely Katie Miller, the young healer in the district, attends to him while trying to guard her heart. Could there possibly be a future with Jesse Montgomery only God can bring about?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736953418

ISBN-13: 978-0736953412

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Apple Grove, Kansas

May 1886 The first fingers of sunlight danced across the tips of tender wheat plants that had poked through the rich Kansas soil only two weeks before. Jonas Switzer stood on the western border of the field, his face to the rising sun, and marveled once again at this evidence of the Almighty’s provision. Last fall he had sown this wheat into ground prepared to accept it, and throughout the long winter months it laid dormant with no visible sign of the planting. But now it rose from its earthy bed to bask in the warmth of the sun.

Jonas knelt to inspect a single plant barely taller than his finger. Though he was not normally given to poetic comparisons, something about the crisp morning air and the smell of the soil turned his thoughts toward symbolic expression. His life was much like the single grain of wheat from which this plant had sprung. How many times had he felt dried and shriveled, a tiny kernel buried in a barren field? When his beloved wife passed eighteen years ago, something died inside him. If not for the blessing of his daughters he would have sunk into the earth and disappeared forever, his life smothered by a grief he thought he might never throw off. But as they grew, the joy they gave him showered his parched world. He learned to trust that somewhere above the trench in which he was buried, sunshine warmed the earth and rains fell to nourish it.

Then they left the Amish. Jonas closed his eyes against a wave of sorrow. First his Emma and then his Rebecca had chosen to build their lives outside the faith in which they were raised.

It is their right. Their choice.

That he knew, but still his heart grieved that the children he loved had not found the same contentment in the Plain ways he clung to. That his grandchildren were being raised in a lifestyle foreign to his.

“Pride it is that makes you think yours is the only way. At least they are Christian. Gott sei Dank!”

His mother’s voice rang in his head, and a smile tugged at his lips. Her attitude toward the Plain way of life had been forever skewed by the few years she had spent with her Englisch husband. And yet he did thank Gott that his children and their husbands professed a Christian faith, though Bishop Miller would argue that their way was not enough because they did not separate themselves completely from a sinful world.

Jonas stood with a sigh. All he knew was that his daughters were happy and they lived their Englisch lives in service to the Almighty and to their families. They had showered his life once again with blessings, with fine, strong sons-in-law and happy, smiling grandchildren. With a full heart he formed a silent prayer of gratitude for Emma and Luke’s two, Lucas and Rachel, and for the baby Rebecca and Colin were expecting, who would be born before summer’s end.

His gaze swept the sun-bathed field. A breeze rustled the fledgling plants, creating waves that swept from one end of the field to another. He was but one small plant, but at least he had broken free of the soil and could feel the warmth of sunlight once again.

A movement in the distance caught his attention. Beyond the wheatfield he spied a pair of horses standing on the slight rise that separated this field from the wide creek that watered his small herd of cattle and goats. Wild horses, perhaps? Squinting, he stretched his gaze. Were those saddle pommels on their backs? Not wild, then. But where were their riders? With a glance toward the house in the opposite direction, where Mader no doubt waited for him with a hearty breakfast, he headed toward the horses.

When he was halfway around the wheatfield, something else came into focus. What was that post sticking up from the ground? Yesterday there had been no post. He scanned the area around his farm, alarm tickling his stomach when he realized there were many posts, strung out as far as he could see. And was that a wire strung between them? His eyes were not so good today. Sound drifted to him from the location of the horses. Men’s deep voices.

Slapping a hand on the top of his straw hat to keep it on his head, Jonas hurried toward the horses at a trot.

As he neared the rise, men came into view… Englisch men, four of them in their buttoned shirts and snug trousers held up by leather belts cinched around their waists. They worked at some activity. It took Jonas only a moment to identify what they were doing. Two of them were digging while the other two wrestled a large roll of barbed wire off a wagon. The wagon’s bed was filled with sturdy wooden posts.

He could hardly believe his eyes. These men were building a fence. On his property!

Jonas stood on the top of the rise, watching them work with his hands hanging uselessly at his sides. Someone had made a grave mistake, one that must be corrected.

One of the men with the wire caught sight of him and straightened. “Woodard, we got company.”

Woodard stopped digging and looked up. He planted his shovel in the soil and hooked a palm across the handle, staring at Jonas with a measuring look. “Howdy.”

The man managed to turn the word into a threat. Jonas kept his face impassive, but an alarm rang inside his ears. The four Englischers wore menacing scowls, and their rough appearance hinted at a familiarity with violence. An ugly scar ran down Woodard’s unshaven face from cheekbone to chin.

“Pardon me.” Jonas spoke in the same soft manner he would use to greet any stranger. “There has been a mistake. This fence is misplaced.”

Woodard held Jonas’s gaze while he turned his head to spit. “No mistake. This here fence belongs to Mr. Andrew Littlefield. Heard of him?”

The name meant nothing to Jonas. He shook his head.

“Whew, doggie,” said his digging partner. “Them Amish really are backward, ain’t they?”

The others chuckled. Jonas gave no outward sign that the insult had affected him, though inside his nerves stretched taut. A man who would insult another would be quick to injure as well.

A smirk twisted Woodard’s features. “Mr. Littlefield’s a powerful man in these parts. He’s your neighbor to the north. Moved up here from Texas to start him a ranch a while back. Gonna bring a herd of Texas Longhorns up from Amarillo.”

“We will make him welcome.”

“Welcome him, will you?” Woodard barked a harsh laugh, and the other men joined in. “Well, I’ll tell you right now that the best welcome you can offer him is to get your livestock off of his land.”

Jonas looked in the direction in which the man jerked his head. A little to the east, beyond the thorny hedge he’d planted to border the wheatfield, a few of his cattle were making their way toward the creek for a drink.

“Pardon, please, but it is my farm the cows are on.”

“Now, that’s where you’re wrong.” Woodard pushed his oblong Englisch hat back on his head with a finger. “See this fence?” He pointed out the length of wire that stretched to the west as far as Jonas could see. “This here’s Mr. Littlefield’s property. He’s filed a homestead claim to this land. The boys and me been working all night to get this fence in place.”

“But this is my farm, my home.” Jonas waved both hands to encompass the land that surrounded them.

“Yeah? I don’t see no sign.” He glanced at his companions. “You fellas see a sign?”

With their smirking gazes fixed on Jonas, they shook their heads. “Not a one.”

“Well, there you go.” Woodard’s smile did nothing to veil his scorn. “Looks to me like this fence is the only thing marking the boundary.” He waved to the area behind him, including the creek. “That means this part belongs to Mr. Littlefield. And that part,” he gestured toward the wheatfield and house behind Jonas, “must be yorn.”

A flicker erupted in the back of Jonas’s brain. Did they mean to take his farm, his home? The area on his side of the barbed wire was a fraction of his property. What, then, of the field beyond the creek, the one he and Big Ed had plowed only a few days ago in preparation for planting corn? What of the pasture where his cattle and goats grazed? Angry heat suffused his face, but he took care to pitch his voice so that none of the anger might escape.

“The land belongs to me. Almost twenty years have I lived here. A trench I dug all around, as I was told to do.”

Woodard’s eyes narrowed to mere slits. He tossed his shovel aside and closed the distance between them with a menacing stride, stopping only when he was close enough that Jonas could smell the rank odor of his breath. The others also moved. They went to the wagon and each picked up a rifle before coming to stand behind their leader.

“I don’t think you heard me, Amish man,” Woodard said, his voice as low as Jonas’s. “This property belongs to Mr. Andrew Littlefield. If you want to go on breathing, you’ll keep to your side of that fence.”

A cold lump of fear cooled Jonas’s burning anger. The message was clear. If he or his livestock crossed that fence, they would be shot.

Injustice churned like acid in his stomach. It was because he was Amish that these men did this. They knew he would not retaliate.

They are right.

Did Jesus not forbid His followers all revenge and resistance? He has thereby commanded them not to return evil for evil, nor railing for railing. The words rose from deep inside, placed there by years of repetition of the Confession that all Amish professed. Though his sinful self would love to rail against these rough men, he could not.

Maintaining his silence was the only way Jonas could keep his anger in check. Without a reply, he turned away from Woodard and began the trek around the wheatfield and back to his house. Behind him, derisive laughter rose from four throats into the morning sky. Jonas kept his head up, though his back burned from the weight of their scornful stares.

I will not rail against them. I will not dishonor the faith to which I have pledged my life.

The laughter stopped, and soon he heard the sound of shovels carving into fresh soil.

But neither will I give up my home. I will stand my ground, but peacefully, with my friends at my side.

He lengthened his stride, a sense of purpose giving him fresh energy. He would hook Big Ed up to the buggy and go to his Amish brothers for help.

“Ow, stop! It hurts, Katie.”

Katie Miller looked calmly into a pair of reproachful blue eyes belonging to her young sister-in-law. “The bandage must come off, Hannah, else how can I see if the wound is healing properly? Hold still. I will be gentle.”

Eight-year-old Hannah studied her with a measuring look, as though deciding whether or not to trust her. Finally, with a brief nod, she placed her bandaged hand again into Katie’s waiting one. She turned her head away, face screwed up and eyes shut tight, her muscles tense. Seated next to Hannah at the sturdy kitchen table, Ella Miller held her daughter’s uninjured hand, worry lines carving crevasses in the smooth forehead beneath her prayer kapp.

And well she might worry. The injury to Hannah’s hand had not been serious until infection set in. By the time they sent for Katie, it had swollen to twice normal size, and angry red lines stretched halfway up the child’s arm.

Katie unwound layers of cotton bandages, a half-formed prayer for the girl running through her mind. When she pulled the last strip gently away from the wound, she let out a pent-up breath.

“Das ist gut,” she told Mader Miller.

A relieved smile washed the worry from the woman’s face. “See you there, Hannah. The smelly salve that angered you so has worked.”

Katie pressed the skin around the wound with a gentle finger. Thank goodness the swelling was greatly reduced from two days ago, and the red lines had all but disappeared. “Wiggle your thumb and finger.”

The girl did, and Katie breathed a prayer of thanksgiving.

“By the good Lord’s grace, she will recover fully,” she announced, and then she turned a serious look on Hannah. “But you must be more careful when playing around your papa’s plow. You could have lost your hand, and then where would you be?”

A dimple appeared in one peachy cheek. “I would not have to milk cows.”

“Ach, what a girl!” Mader Miller swatted at Hannah with a tea towel. “Indeed you would, but twice as long it would take you. In fact, you can return to your chore tomorrow and see how you like working as a one-handed dairymaid.”

Scowling, Hannah slumped in her chair and remained silent while Katie cleaned the wound and slathered it with a layer of ointment. When a fresh bandage had been put in place, the little girl tested the tightness by gingerly clenching her hand into a loose fist.

Satisfied with the result, she bobbed her head. “Danki, Katie.” She looked shyly up. “Maybe if I hurt my other hand you will come more often. I miss you.”

The words twisted Katie’s heart. Since she’d returned to her parents’ home four months ago, she had only seen her family-by-marriage a few times outside of the district’s twice-monthly church services. But though she loved them, there were too many re-

minders here. She and Samuel had lived in this house during the five years of their marriage. At this very table they had sat side by side for meals with Hannah and Mader and Fader Miller. In the room at the top of the stairs, they had slept as husband and wife. A sense of grief threatened to overwhelm her.

She shook it off and tugged playfully at one of the laces dangling from Hannah’s kapp. “If you do, next time I shall make the ointment doubly smelly just to plague you.”

Hannah wrinkled her nose, and Katie tweaked it.

“Off with you, now.” Mader Miller snatched a basket off of the counter and pressed it into Hannah’s hands. “The hens have waited long enough for their breakfast, and the eggs need to be gathered.”

When the child had skipped out the door, the older woman set a mug of coffee on the table in front of Katie. “It is good to see you, daughter. Too long has it been since you visited.”

Unable to meet her mother-in-law’s eyes, Katie stared at the steam rising from the mug. “I know. I am sorry.”

Silence fell. Katie glanced up to see Mader Miller’s unfocused gaze fixed on something visible only to her. A sad smile tugged at one corner of her mouth. With a rush of guilt, Katie realized she wasn’t the only one whose memories of Samuel wedged like thorns in her heart.

She broke the silence with a whisper. “I miss him.”

Mader Miller nodded. “As do I.” Her eyes focused on the window. “And so does John.”

At the mention of Fader Miller, an uncomfortable knot formed in Katie’s stomach. Though she and Mader Miller had grieved Samuel’s passing as only a wife and mother could, their grief combined could not touch that of his father’s. In the span of a few months, Katie had watched the man go from mourning to near-obsession with his son’s death. A mournful cloud hovered over him, and instead of dispersing with time, it grew darker and denser and more distressful for those around him. Though he continued to administer his duties as bishop to the Amish community of Apple Grove, grief had made him rigid. Because he found no comfort for his pain, how could he give comfort to the families who looked to him for leadership? The community of Apple Grove sympathized with the devastating loss of a son, but they whispered that their bishop should attempt to put the tragedy behind him instead of wallowing in his grief. Thus would he advise others, but he seemed unable to heed his own advice. At home every conversation centered on Samuel until finally, unable to bear the constant reminder of her loss, Katie had moved back to her parents’ home. There she had been able to begin to let go of the pain of Samuel’s death, and more and more remembered the joy of his life.

Until today. Coming back here tinged all her memories with pain.

Mader Miller reached across the table and laid a hand on her arm. The touch was brief, only a moment, but Katie drew strength from the contact.

“Life is not meant to be lived in sorrow. You are young, daughter. One day the Lord will guide you into happier times.”

Katie looked up into eyes glazed with tears. Much time these past months had been spent asking the Lord what the future held in store for her. Surely love such as she and Samuel had shared came only once in a lifetime. Had the Lord not given her a task to occupy her lonely days? She had begun to learn the ways of doctoring and birthing, and through that had discovered the deep satisfaction of tending to those whose hurts were physical and therefore easier to heal. And yet…

She squeezed her eyes shut. Was she to always remain a widow, forever denied love and happiness until she quit this world for the next?

Mader Miller’s hand pulled away. Katie opened her eyes to see her staring through the window. “A visitor has come.”

“This early?” Katie twisted around to look through the glass. An Amish buggy approached, clouds of dust from the road rising beneath the wheels.

The buggy rolled past the house and continued toward the barn.

“That is Jonas Switzer.” The older woman rose. “I will put on more coffee and warm some rolls. Go, daughter, and invite him in when he has finished his business with the bishop.”

Obediently, Katie rose and headed toward the door.

The morning sun still hung low on the horizon, its brilliant rays shafting through the leaves of the apple trees that bordered the Millers’  yard. Mr. Switzer’s buggy had come to a stop, and Fader Miller emerged from the barn. He stood erect, waiting for Mr. Switzer to climb down from the bench and stand before him. Mr. Switzer began to talk, calmly at first. Then he waved his arms, churning the air around him. Clearly something had upset the normally unruffled man.

I hope Emma and Rebecca are well.

Jonas’s daughters had been Katie’s friends since childhood. Though she rarely saw them now that they had both left the Amish and lived almost two hours’ ride away, Katie stayed informed through their grandmother.

She slowed her approach, unwilling to eavesdrop on the men’s conversation. But Mr. Switzer was so upset that his voice rose and fell, and she couldn’t help but overhear a few snatches.

“…weapons…fence…shoot me on my own land!”

Oh, dear. Someone had shot at him?

Because Fader Miller faced her way, she heard his answer more clearly.

“You must go to this Mr. Littlefield and explain to him the mistake. Perhaps he will listen and respond honorably.”

Katie stopped several yards away and politely turned her back, though she could still hear.

“You will go with me? I fear to go alone will result in violence.”

A stern note crept into the bishop’s voice. “You threaten violence?”

“From me, no. From them? They are Englisch. Their honor is different from ours. If two of us go—”

“If two go, they will see a threat. If one man calls upon his neighbor to discuss a shared problem, it is a friendly visit. Have Marta bake a snitz pie.”

Jonas’s voice grew loud. “You would send me to the home of an Englisch man with rifles armed with a pie?”

Katie winced. Mr. Switzer must be distraught indeed to raise his voice to the bishop. She would never have the nerve.

Fader Miller’s reply was low, alarmingly so. She couldn’t make out the words, but the tone was one that would have set her knees to shaking if it had been directed at her. The sound of retreating footsteps followed.

Katie turned in time to see the bishop disappear into the barn, his back rigid. Mr. Switzer stared after him, shoulders slumped and arms hanging at his sides. Moving cautiously, she stepped toward him, and he turned at her approach. A struggle lay plain on his creased brow and troubled eyes.

She bobbed a quick curtsey. “Mader Miller says won’t you come in for coffee and warm rolls?”

For a moment she thought he must not have heard her. He stared at her without answering. Then he set his jaw.

“Danki, no. I must go.”

She stepped back and watched him climb into his buggy. Seated, he picked up the reins and then stopped. He looked at her as though seeing her for the first time. “Katie Miller. A favor you would do for me?”

“Ja. If I can.”

“Take a message to my house. Tell my mader I have gone to Rebecca and Emma, and will return after the noon meal.” He tossed a glance toward the barn, and his chin jutted forward. “I go to see my son-in-law, the Englisch sheriff.”

Without waiting for an answer, he flicked the reins. Katie stepped back as his buggy rolled forward. She almost called after him, “Give my greetings to Emma and Rebecca,” but somehow she doubted he would remember.

Under the Summer Sky by Lori Copeland

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:
Lori Copeland
and the book:
Under the Summer Sky
(The Dakota Diaries Book 2)
Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

After a man named Jones rescues Trinity Franklin from a river, they find their destination is the same: a small town in North Dakota. A seemingly coincidental beginning comes to a delightful and charming ending when orchestrated by the One who can put the pieces of any lost and broken life together.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736930205

ISBN-13: 978-0736930208

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Near Piedmont, South Dakota, 1893“Don’t put me in that barrel!”

“Do you want to die, woman?”

“No! That’s why you can’t put me in the barrel—I can’t swim!” She had gone to the river for a simple bucket of water when this beast had swept in and captured her. She loved the good Lord, but she wasn’t ready to meet Him face-to-face. The sound of rushing water overwhelmed her senses as iron hands gripped her waist. War whoops filled the air as three riders poured over the hillside. She pounded the solid wall of flesh that enveloped her. “Let me go!”

“I’m trying to save your life, lady.”

The stranger heaved her over to the barrel and unceremoniously dumped her inside, stuffing her head between her knees before he slammed the lid down on top.

“I can’t swim!” Her muffled voice echoed in her ears. Was he deaf    ? Mad? What kind of man would put a woman in a barrel and send her over the rapids when she couldn’t swim? She banged on the wooden sides. “Let me out!”

All bedlam broke out, and even through the barrel Trinity could hear grunts, shouts, and the sound of bare fists meeting flesh. Her heart hammered in her chest. She willed herself to be still, but she could feel the barrel shifting underneath her, teetering at the water’s edge. “Don’t let me fall in, don’t let me fall in,” she whispered. A flour mill sat downstream, but if she reached it she would be too late. A few minutes in the turgid waters and she would drown.

Grunts. More fists.

Please, God. Please, God.

She swallowed back the urge to shout. Calling out would mean certain death. Her brother, Rob, had written tales of rebels, both Indian and white, banding together to plunder and commit unspeakable acts, but never in her wildest dreams would she have thought to encounter one of the lowlifes. A gunshot—then another. Trinity’s heart crowded her throat as the fighting grew fiercer. The barrel shifted again.

Don’t let me fall in. Don’t let me fall in.

A deep rumble. A shove. Trinity’s heart sputtered. She was close—too close. She could almost smell the cold, rushing water. She heard the shuffle of men’s boots—though now it sounded as though there were fewer of them. Maybe two? Against overwhelming odds, the stranger appeared to be winning.

Rapids rushed in the distance. Relax. That beast of a man is strong. He still faced formidable odds, but it sounded as if he were besting the enemy. Trinity felt the tension draining away from her. The ruckus would be over soon and he would release her from her wooden prison.

And then she would demand to know who he was and how he’d had the audacity to risk her life!

Locked in a duel, the men’s groans filled the air as they strained against one another. The sheer force in their tones made her cringe. Then—the unthinkable. A boot caught the edge of the barrel and sent it toppling into the churning water.

Trinity screamed as the current caught the barrel and bounced it downstream. Terror-stricken, she watched the water seeping through the cracks in the wood. The rapids were only two hundred yards downstream—she had to be getting close.

She was going to die. Rob had perished far too young, and now she was going to join him. And it was all her fault. She should never have left her nice, safe café job in Sioux City and come to this rugged land. She had refused to accompany Rob a year earlier when he’d pleaded with her to join him and help him settle Wilson’s Falls, the plot of land their family had owned for generations. She should have held to her belief that no good would come of her visiting this remote country for even a short time. No amount of money on earth could keep her safe now—not even the handsome sum the railroad was likely to offer for the family’s parcel of land.

The trip was supposed to be brief. Never once had she thought her journey would end at the Pearly Gates.

W

Jones whirled when he heard the barrel hit the water. The man locked in his grip took advantage of the distraction and landed a blow that took Jones to his knees. He swung wildly, landing a punch that momentarily staggered his opponent.

His eyes swung back to the barrel. Only a few moments before it went over the rapids. The other thug came at him and he managed a hard right and then his signature left, the knock-out blow. His opponent slumped to the ground and Jones took off running down the bank. His boots thrashed through a heavy thicket as his eyes followed the bobbing container. When he reached a wide spot, he dove in and surfaced just within reach of the barrel.

“Hold on! I’m here!” he yelled.

The girl’s reedy voice came back. “I can’t swim! Get me out of here!”

“I’m trying!” He lunged, his hand brushing the barrel in vain. Charging again, he only managed to hurry the barrel along. It flew over the rapids and he heard her screams until the roar of rushing water snatched them away.

Shoot. She was going to be mad as a wet hen.

“Are you still there? I can’t hear you!”

He couldn’t imagine why not. She was yelling loud enough for them to hear her all the way to Canada.

“I’m here! Just hang on!”

“I can’t swim!”

Like he hadn’t heard her the first eight times. Closing his eyes, he dove under the swift current.

W

The thin wood split as the water and rocks smashed the barrel into kindling. Trinity gasped for air, her breath lodged in her throat. The wind and water whipped wildly about her. Where was he?

Anger churned with panic as she bumped along. Objects blurred as she choked, struggling to right herself. She went down, down, down, thumping and bumping over rocks. This was it. This was the end. She’d never done anything worthwhile in her nineteen years. Nothing but wait tables and serve others—but that was good. To her knowledge she’d never caused anyone an ounce of trouble, so she could meet her Maker in good faith.

Now she would draw her last breath—gurgle it, more like—but…she broke the waterline, choking. A strong hand latched onto her hair as she went under again.

Pain blinded her—pain the likes of which she’d never experienced. Her very roots were being ripped out. She struggled to break the fierce hold, and did, momentarily, but then something snared her and yanked her back to the surface.

“Stop fighting me!” a male voice demanded.

She saw him then—the man who’d stuffed her in the barrel. At the moment it didn’t matter what he’d stuffed her in; he was an anchor in the storm. Her efforts ceased. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight.

He was a strong swimmer, but she was dead weight. Dragging her through the water, he reached a ledge and paused to catch his breath. Paralyzed with fear, her heart threatened to pound out of her chest, and for the first time in her life she couldn’t find the words she wanted. His arms around her were powerful, and the feel of his prickly dark beard against her cheek brought a blush to her face. She’d never been this close to a man before—except Rob, of course. When she poured coffee at the café she bent close, but never this close. She could smell him, hear his ragged breath in her ear.

“Sorry I scared you,” he said, swiping his face to clear the water out of his eyes. “I didn’t mean for the barrel to go over.”

She nodded, still not able to find her voice. She was in the middle of a rushing rapid, standing in the arms of a stranger, finding her brush with death very difficult to comprehend.

“Hold on.” He hitched her up and swam the remaining distance to shore. Throwing her on the bank like a landed carp, he crawled out and collapsed beside her. For a moment they lay in the warm sun, gasping for breath. In a novel the moment might have been romantic, Trinity thought. Instead it was wet and cold and ghastly.

“Who are you?” she asked, finally finding her breath. Since she could speak she should probably thank him—it was only polite—though at the moment she wanted to throttle him for putting her life in danger in the first place.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m just passing through.”

“What’s your name?” She had the right to know who’d almost killed her, didn’t she?

“Jones.”

“Jones what?”

“Just Jones.” Rolling to his back, he stuck out his hand. “Are you all right?”

Trinity stared at the proffered hand, stultified. “Why did you stick me in that barrel?”

“I saved your life.”

“You could easily have taken it. I don’t…”

“Swim. So you’ve said.” Struggling to his feet, he removed his left boot and dumped out a stream of water. “Sorry I upset you, but those men would have distressed you more.”

Her gaze fixed on the tall stranger. She knew she should feel nothing but gratitude, but he’d scared the wadding out of her. “Well, before you stick a lady in a barrel and send her downstream, you might want to make certain you can save her.”

Jones dumped the water out of his right boot. “Don’t figure there’s any reason for me to apologize for saving your neck.” He glanced up. “What are you doing out here alone, anyway?”

“I was doing my wash.” She pushed to her feet and brushed the wet hair out of her eyes.

“You live around here?”

“Not live. I’m staying here for a while. I’m in the process of selling my land, and once I do I’m going back to Sioux Falls.”

“Nice town.”

“You’ve been there?”

He nodded, shoving his foot, wet sock and all, back into his boot. “Couple of times. Do you want me to walk you back to your place?”

“No, thank you.” She’d had quite enough of him for one day.

Nodding, he set his Stetson on his head and adjusted the band. “You might want to keep a close eye out for the others. The men scattered, but they’ll meet up again.”

Trinity swallowed, trying to retain her composure. She’d get home, and then she wouldn’t rest until she’d sold the land and left this godforsaken place behind her forever. “Thank you. I’ll be careful.”

“You think you can handle these wilds?”

She lifted her chin. “Of course I can handle myself.” Granted, he had caught her in a bad circumstance, but chances were that the men were only passing through and she’d have no more trouble with them.

“Do you have a gun?”

“My brother left one.”

“Do you know how to use it?”

The chin rose higher. “I do—if necessary.”

He paused, a slow grin starting at the corners of his mouth. Dark curly hair, penetrating brown eyes, and skin browned by the long hours in the sun. He was handsome, no denying it, but Trinity had more important things on her mind. “I see you’ve got things well in hand.”

She nodded coolly. He had every right to suspect that she was one of those helpless simpering females, but she was far from vulnerable. She’d been on her own since Rob had left to work this land, and she’d learned to care for herself nicely.

He started off and then turned back. “By the way…”

She pushed another lock of soggy hair out of her eyes. “Yes?”

His gaze drifted down. “You lost your skirt in the water.”

Gasping, she looked down. She was wearing nothing but her bloomers! And he hadn’t said a word until now.

When she looked up, he was gone. Drawing herself up straight, she sniffed. And a good riddance it was.

First WildCard Tours….The Heart’s Frontier by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

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 authors are:
Lori Copelandand

Virginia Smith

and the book:
The Heart’s Frontier
Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.
Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen inspirational novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

An exciting new Amish-meets-Wild West adventure from bestselling authors Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith weaves an entertaining and romantic tale for devoted fans and new readers.

Kansas,1881—On a trip to visit relatives, Emma Switzer’s Amish family is robbed of all their possessions, leaving them destitute and stranded on the prairie. Walking into the nearest trading settlement, they pray to the Lord for someone to help. When a man lands in the dust at her feet, Emma looks down at him and thinks, The Lord might have cleaned him up first.

Luke Carson, heading up his first cattle drive, is not planning on being the answer to anyone’s prayers, but it looks as though God has something else in mind for this kind and gentle man. Plain and rugged—do the two mix? And what happens when a dedicated Amish woman and a stubborn trail boss prove to be each other’s match?

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

The Heart’s Frontier  by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

 

This is a really fun story and a little different from most Amish books that I have read. After Luke Carson literally lands at Emma’s feet after being thrown out of a saloon. He’s after one of the men that is suppose to be helping with the cattle drive, but he can’t drive cattle while drunk. Emma and her family are on their way to Troyer Kansas to drop off Emma and her grandmother with other Amish family members when they were robbed of everything they had.

 

Luke can only do what is right and help the Switzer family since they think the Lord sent him in their path. This leads to an unforgettable journey of ups and downs, twists and turns that will keep you turning those pages until the very last word is read. I love the characters created by these authors, well most of them anyway. And I appreciate the strong sense of the Amish trusting the Lord instead of taking matters into their own hands.

 

You will cry a little and laugh a lot as you read this really great book by to wonderful authors. There is never a dull moment as you follow these characters to the end of their journey.

 

I rec’d this book from the publisher Harvest House 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: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736947523

ISBN-13: 978-0736947527

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Apple Grove, Kansas
July 1881
Nearly the entire Amish district of Apple Grove had turned out to help this morning, all twenty families. Or perhaps they were here merely to wish Emma Switzer well as she set off for her new home in Troyer, fifty miles away.
From her vantage point on the porch of the house, Emma’s grandmother kept watch over the loading of the gigantic buffet hutch onto the specially reinforced wagon. Her sharp voice sliced through the peaceful morning air.
“Forty years I’ve had that hutch from my dearly departed husband and not a scratch on it. Jonas, see that you use care!”
If Maummi’s expression weren’t so fierce, Emma would have laughed at the long-suffering look Papa turned toward his mother. But the force with which Maummi’s fingers dug into the flesh on Emma’s arm warned that a chuckle would be most ill-suited at the moment. Besides, the men straining to heft the heavy hutch from the front porch of their home into the wagon didn’t need further distractions. Their faces strained bright red above their beards, and more than one drop of sweat trickled from beneath the broad brim of their identical straw hats.
Emma glanced at the watchers lined up like sparrows on a fence post. She caught sight of her best friend, Katie Beachy, amid the sea of dark dresses and white kapps. Katie smiled and smoothed her skirt with a shy gesture. The black fabric looked a little darker and crisper than that of those standing around her, which meant she’d worn her new dress to bid Emma farewell, an honor usually reserved for singings or services or weddings. The garment looked well on her. Emma had helped sew the seams at their last frolic. Of course, Katie’s early morning appearance in a new dress probably had less to do with honoring Emma than with the presence of Samuel Miller, the handsome son of the district bishop. With a glance toward Samuel, whose arms bulged against the weight of holding up one end of the hutch, she returned Katie’s smile with a conspiratorial wink.
Emma’s gaze slid over other faces in the crowd and snagged on a pair of eyes fixed on her. Amos Beiler didn’t bother to turn away but kept his gaze boldly on her face. Nor did he bother to hide his expression, one of longing and lingering hurt. He held infant Joseph in his arms, and a young daughter clutched each of his trouser-clad legs. A wave of guilt washed through Emma, and she hastily turned back toward the wagon.
From his vantage point up in the wagon bed, Papa held one end of a thick rope looped around the top of the hutch, the other end held by John Yoder. The front edge of the heavy heirloom had been lifted into the wagon with much grunting and groaning, while the rear still rested on the smooth wooden planks of the porch. Two men steadied the oxen heads, and the rest, like Samuel, had gathered around the back end of the hutch. A protective layer of thick quilts lined the wagon bed.
Papa gave the word. “Lift!”
The men moved in silent unity. Bending their knees, their hands grasped for purchase around the bottom edges. As one they drew in a breath, and at Papa’s nod raised in unison. Emma’s own breath caught in her chest, her muscles straining in silent sympathy with the men. The hutch rose until its rear end was level with its front, and the men stepped forward. The thick quilts dangling beneath scooted onto the wagon as planned, a protective barrier from damage caused by wood against wood.
The hutch suddenly dipped and slid swiftly to the front. Emma gasped. Apparently the speed caught Papa and John Yoder by surprise too, for the rope around the top went slack. Papa lunged to reach for the nearest corner, and his foot slipped. The wagon creaked and sank lower on its wheels as the hutch settled into place. At the same moment Papa went down on one knee with a loud, “Ummph.”
“Papa!”
Ach! Maummi pulled away from Emma and rushed forward. Her heart pounding against her rib cage, Emma followed. Men were already checking on Papa, but Maummi leaped into the wagon bed with a jump that belied her sixty years, the strings of her kapp flying behind her. She applied bony elbows to push her way around the hutch to her son’s side.
She came to a halt above him, hands on her hips, and looked down. “Are you hurt?”
Emma reached the side of the wagon in time to see Papa wince and shake his head. “No. A bruise is all.”
“Good.” She left him lying there and turned worried eyes toward her beloved hutch. With a gentle touch, she ran loving fingers over the smooth surface and knelt to investigate the corners.
A mock-stern voice behind Emma held the hint of a chuckle. “Trappings only, Marta Switzer. Care you more for a scratch on wood than an injury to your son?”
Emma turned to see Bishop Miller approach. He spared a smile for her as he drew near enough to lean his arms across the wooden side of the wagon and watch the activity inside. Samuel helped Papa to his feet and handed him the broad-brimmed hat that had fallen off. Emma breathed a sigh of relief when he took a ginger step to try out his leg and smiled at the absence of pain.
“My son is fine.” Maummi waved a hand in his direction, as though in proof. “And so is my hutch. Though my heart may not say the same, such a fright I’ve had.” She placed the hand lightly on her chest, drew a shuddering breath, and wavered on her feet.
Concern for her grandmother propelled Emma toward the back of the wagon. As she climbed up, she called into the house, “Rebecca, bring a cool cloth for Maummi’s head.”
The men backed away while Katie and several other women converged on the wagon to help Emma lift Maummi down and over to the rocking chair that rested in the shade of the porch, ready to be loaded when the time came. Maummi allowed herself to be lowered onto the chair, and then she wilted against the back, her head lolling sideways and arms dangling. A disapproving buzz rumbled among the watching women, but Emma ignored them. Though she knew full well that most of the weakness was feigned for the sake of the bishop and other onlookers, she also knew Maummi’s heart tended to beat unevenly in her chest whenever she exerted herself. It was yet another reason why she ought to stay behind in Apple Grove, but Maummi insisted her place was with Emma, her oldest granddaughter. What she really meant was that she intended to inspect every eligible young Amish man in Troyer and handpick her future grandson-in-law.
Aunt Gerda had written to say she anticipated that her only daughter would marry soon, and she would appreciate having Emma come to help her around the house. She’d also mentioned the abundance of marriageable young men in Troyer, with a suggestion that twenty-year-old Emma was of an age that the news might be welcome. Rebecca had immediately volunteered to go in Emma’s place. Though Papa appeared to consider the idea, he decided to send Emma because she was the oldest and therefore would be in need of a husband soonest. Maummi insisted on going along in order to “Keep an eye on this hoard of men Gerda will parade before our Emma.”
As far as Emma was concerned, they should just send Maummi on alone and leave her in Apple Grove to wait for her future husband to be delivered to her doorstep.
Rebecca appeared from inside the house with a dripping cloth in hand. A strand of wavy dark hair had escaped its pins and fluttered freely beside the strings of her kapp. At barely thirteen, her rosy cheeks and smooth, high forehead reminded Emma so sharply of their mother that at times her heart ached.
Rebecca looked at Maummi’s dramatic posture and rolled her eyes. She had little patience with Maummi’s feigned heart episodes, and she was young enough that she had yet to learn proper restraint in concealing her emotions. Emma awarded her sister with a stern look and held out a hand for the cloth.
With a contrite bob of her head, Rebecca handed it over and dropped to her knees beside the rocking chair. “Are you all right, Maummi?”
Ach, I’m fine. I don’t think it’s my time. Yet.”
Emma wrung the excess water from the cloth before draping it across the back of Maummi’s neck.
Danki.” The elderly woman realized that the men had stopped working in order to watch her, and she waved her hand in a shooing motion. “Place those quilts over my hutch before you load anything else! Mind, Jonas, no scratches.”
Papa shook his head, though a smile tugged at his lips. “Ja, I remember.”
The gray head turned toward Emma. “Granddaughter, see they take proper care.”
“I will, Maummi.”
Katie joined Emma to oversee the wrapping of the hutch. When Samuel Miller offered a strong arm to help Katie up into the wagon, Emma hid a smile. No doubt she would receive a letter at her new home soon, informing her that a wedding date had been published. Because Samuel was the bishop’s son, there was no fear he would not receive the Zeungis, the letter of good standing. Rebecca would be thrilled at the news of a proper wedding in tiny Apple Grove.
But Emma would be far away in Troyer, and she would miss her friend’s big day.
Why must I live there when everything I love is here?
She draped a thick quilt over her end of the hutch and sidled away while Papa secured a rope around it. The faces of her friends and family looked on. They filled the area between the house and the barn. She loved every one in her own way. Yes, even Amos Beiler. She sought him out among the crowd and smiled at the two little girls who hovered near his side. Poor, lonely Amos. He was a good father to his motherless family. No doubt he’d make a fine husband, and if she married him she wouldn’t have to move to Troyer. The thought tempted her once again, as it often had over the past several weeks since Papa announced his decision that she would live with Aunt Gerda for a while.
But she knew that if she agreed to become Amos’s wife that she would be settling. True, she would gain a prosperous farm and a nice house and a trio of well-behaved children, with the promise of more to come. But the fact remained that though there was much to respect about Amos, she didn’t love him. The thought of seeing that moon-shaped face and slightly cross-eyed stare over the table for breakfast, dinner, and supper sent a shiver rippling across her shoulders. Not to mention sharing a marriage bed with him. It was enough to make her throw her apron over her face and run screaming across Papa’s cornfield.
He deserves a wife who loves him, she told herself for the hundredth time. Her conscience thus soothed, Emma turned away from his mournful stare.
“That trunk goes in the front,” Maummi shouted from her chair on the porch. “Emma, show them where.”
Emma shrank against the gigantic hutch to give the men room to settle the trunk containing all of her belongings. An oiled canvas tarp had been secured over the top to repel any rain they might meet over the next week. Inside, resting on her dresses, aprons, bonnets, and kapps, was a bundle more precious to her than anything else in the wagon: a quilt, expertly and lovingly stitched, nestled within a heavy canvas pouch. Mama had made it with her own hands for Emma’s hope chest. The last stitch was bitten off just hours before she closed her eyes and stepped into the arms of her Lord.
Oh, Mama, if you were here you could convince Papa to let me stay home. I know you could. And now, without you, what will happen to me?
Yet, even in the midst of the dreary thought, a spark of hope flickered in the darkness in Emma’s heart. The future yawned before her like the endless Kansas prairie. Wasn’t there beauty to be found in the tall, blowing grasses of the open plain? Weren’t there cool streams and shady trees to offer respite from the heat of the day? Maybe Troyer would turn out to be an oasis.
“Emma!”
Maummi’s sharp tone cut through her musing. She jerked upright. Her grandmother appeared to have recovered from her heart episode. From the vantage point of her chair, she oversaw every movement with a critical eye.
“Yes, ma’am?”
“Mind what I said about that loading, girl. The food carton goes on last. We won’t want to search for provisions when we stop at night on the trail.”
An approving murmur rose from the women at the wisdom of an organized wagon.
“Yes, ma’am.” Emma exchanged a quick grin with Katie and then directed the man carrying a carton of canned goods and trail provisions to set his burden aside for now.
A little while later, after everything had been loaded and secured under an oiled canvas, the men stood around to admire their handiwork. Samuel even crawled beneath the wagon to check the support struts, and he pronounced everything to be “in apple-pie order.”
Emma felt a pluck on her arm. She turned to find Katie at her elbow.
“This is a gift for you.” Her friend pushed a small package into her hands. “It’s only a soft cloth and some fancy-colored threads. I was fixing to stitch you a design, but you’re so much better at fine sewing than I am that I figured you could make something prettier by yourself.” She ducked her head. “Think kindly of me when you do.”
Warmed by her friend’s gesture, Emma pulled her into an embrace. “I will. And I expect a letter from you soon.” She let Katie see her glance slide over to Samuel and back with a grin. “Especially when you have something exciting to report.”
A becoming blush colored the girl’s cheeks. “I will.”
Emma was still going down the line, awarding each woman a farewell hug, when Bishop Miller stepped up to the front of the wagon and motioned for attention.
“It’s time now to bid Jonas Switzer Godspeed and fair weather for his travels.” A kind smile curved his lips when he looked to Maummi and then to Emma. “And our prayers go with our sisters Marta and Emma as they make a new home in Troyer.”
He bowed his head and closed his eyes, a sign for everyone in the Apple Grove district to follow suit. Emma obeyed, fixing her thoughts on the blue skies overhead and the Almighty’s throne beyond. Silence descended, interrupted only by the snorts of oxen and a happy bird in the tall, leafy tree that gave shade to the porch.
What will I find in Troyer? A new home, as the bishop says? A fine Amish husband, as Papa wishes? I pray it be so. And I pray he will be the second son of his father so that he will come home with me to Apple Grove and take over Papa’s farm when the time comes.
Afemale sniffled behind her. Not Katie, but Rebecca. A twist inside Emma’s rib cage nearly sent tears to her eyes. Oh, how she would miss her sister when Rebecca left Troyer to return home with Papa. She vowed to make the most of their time together on the trail between here and there.
Bishop Miller ended the prayer with a blessing in High German, his hand on the head of the closest oxen. When the last word fell on the quiet crowd, Maummi’s voice sliced through the cool morning air. “Now that we’re seen off proper, someone help me up. We’ll be gone before the sun moves another inch across the sky.”
Though she’d proved earlier that she could make the leap herself at need, Maummi allowed Papa and the bishop to lift her into the wagon. She took her seat in her rocking chair, which was wedged between the covered hutch and one high side of the wagon bed. With a protective pat on the hutch, she settled her sewing basket at her feet and pulled a piece of mending onto her lap. No idle hands for Maummi. By the time they made Troyer, she’d have all the mending done, and the darning too, and a good start on a new quilt.
Emma spared one more embrace for Katie, steadfastly ignored Amos’s mournful stare, and allowed the bishop to help her up onto the bench seat. She scooted over to the far end to make room for Papa, and then Rebecca was lifted up to sit on the other side of him. A snug fit, but they would be okay for the six-day journey to Troyer. Emma settled her black dress and smoothed her apron.
“Now, Jonas, mind you what I said.” Maummi’s voice from behind their heads sounded a bit shrill in the quiet morning. “You cut a wide path around Hays. I’ll not have my granddaughters witness the ufrooish of those wild Englischers.”
On the other side of Papa, Rebecca heaved a loud sigh. Emma hid her grin. No doubt Rebecca would love to witness the rowdy riots of wild cowboy Englischersin the infamous railroad town of Hays.
Papa mumbled something under his breath that sounded like “This will be the longest journey of my life,” but aloud he said, “Ja, Mader.
With a flick of the rope, he urged the oxen forward. The wagon creaked and pitched as it rolled on its gigantic wheels. Emma grabbed the side of the bench with one hand and lifted her other hand in a final farewell as her home fell away behind her.

CFBA Love Booms in Winter by Lori Copeland

CFBA Love Booms in Winter by Lori Copeland

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingLove Blooms in WinterHarvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)byLori CopelandABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. Lance and Lori have three sons, three daughter-in-laws, and six wonderful grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. Lance and Lori are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.

Lori began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that Lori began writing for the Christian book market. To date, she has had over 100 books published.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A romantic new book from bestselling author Lori Copeland that portrays God’s miraculous provision even when none seems possible.

1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Blooms in Winter, go HERE.

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

My Thoughts on this book

 

Love Blooms in Winter by Lori Copeland

 

I love Lori Copeland’s books and this one didn’t disappoint. Set in the small town of Dwadle, North Dakota in 1892 where Mae Wilkey has lived all of her life, we have an interesting story of Mae, who takes care of her little brother, an elderly neighbor Pauline and also runs the post office in town. Another interesting thing about Mae is that she has been waiting for six years for the man of her dreams to propose to her. Can you imagine that!!

 

When Mae decides she needs to find Pauline’s relatives to take care of her, all she could find was Tom, so she wrote to him, not knowing what to expect in return. But boy was she surprised with Tom shows up.

 

I love this neat little town with its quirky and loveable neighbors. You just have to fall in love with the characters created by the author. They are so extremely likeable and loveable that they will feel like part of your family by the time you finish the book. And the romance, well it is just the sweetest. But you will need to read the book to find out more, cause it is too special to give away.

 

You will not be disappointed with your copy of this book, so run out and grab a copy for yourself to read and enjoy. Or better yet, log on to your favorite online bookstore and you will save time and money on gas!!

 

 

This book was provided by CFBA for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

FIRST Wild Card Tour……Love Blooms in Winter (The Dakota Diaries)…….Lori Copeland

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:
Lori Copeland
and the book:
Love Blooms in Winter (The Dakota Diaries)

 

  • Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to
Karri | Marketing Assistant |Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.

1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.

Product Details:


    • List Price: $13.99
    • Paperback: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0736930191
    • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892
The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.
“Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.
“That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”
Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.
Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”
She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”
The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.
But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.
Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”
Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.
“Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”
“Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”
“Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.
“The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”
“Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s Café, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.
With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.
After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.
Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”
“How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”
Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.
How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.
“She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”
The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”
“Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.
Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”
Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.
The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.
Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.
She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.
Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.
Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.
Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.
In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.
Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”
Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.
A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.
Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”
The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.
“Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.
“Oh, Pauline!”

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

 

My Thoughts on this book

I am still in the process of reading this book, and will p0st a review as soon as I finish it, in a few days. Wonderful book so far for me!

CFBA Book Tour…..Lost Melody….by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

CFBA Book Tour…..Lost Melody….by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingLost MelodyZondervan (October 25, 2011)byLori Copeland and Virginia SmithABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. Lance and Lori have three sons, three daughter-in-laws, and six wonderful grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. Lance and Lori are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.

Lori began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that Lori began writing for the Christian book market. To date, she has had over 100 books published.

Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen Christian novels and over fifty articles and short stories. Her books have been named finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Award, and ACFW’s Carol Award.

A Certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church, Ginny’s messages are always well-received by a variety of audiences in conferences, retreats and churches across the country. When she isn’t writing or speaking, Ginny and her husband, Ted, enjoy exploring the extremes of nature – snow skiing in the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, motorcycle riding on the curvy roads in central Kentucky, and scuba diving in the warm waters of Mexico and the Caribbean.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The beautiful piano sitting in the corner of Jill King’s apartment begs to be played. For over a year, it has sat untouched, ever since a terrible accident shattered Jill’s ambition of becoming a concert pianist. The ragged scar on her left hand is a cruel and constant reminder of the death of her dream. But another dream is about to come to life—an unexpected, horrifying dream that will present Jill with a responsibility she never wanted. And choices she never wanted to make. Hundreds of lives depend on Jill’s willingness to warn her small, oceanside town in Nova Scotia of a nameless, looming disaster. But doing so could cost Jill her reputation, jeopardize the political career of the man she loves, and ruin their plans for a future together. The fate of an entire community hangs in the balance as Jill wrestles with the cost of heeding one still, small voice.

If you would like to read a chapter excerpt of Lost Melody, go HERE.

FIRST Wild Card Tour…The One Who Waits for Me….by Lori Copeland

FIRST Wild Card Tour…The One Who Waits for Me….by Lori Copeland

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:
Lori Copeland

and the book:

The One Who Waits for Me

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This new series from bestselling author Lori Copeland, set in North Carolina three months after the Civil War ends, illuminates the gift of hope even in chaos, as the lives of six engaging characters intersect and unfold with the possibility of faith, love, and God’s promise of a future.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736930183

ISBN-13: 978-0736930185

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

 

Joanie?”

Beth’s sister stirred, coughing.

Beth gently shook Joanie’s shoulder again, and the young woman opened her eyes, confusion shining in their depths.

“Pa?”

“He passed a few minutes ago. Trella will be waiting for us.”

Joanie lifted her wrist to her mouth and smothered sudden sobbing. “I’m scared, Beth.”

“So am I. Dress quickly.”

The young woman slid out of bed, her bare feet touching the dirt-packed floor. Outside, the familiar sound of pond frogs nearly drowned out soft movements, though there was no need to be silent any more. Ma had preceded Pa in death two days ago. Beth and Joanie had been waiting, praying for the hour of Pa’s death to come swiftly. Together, they lifted their father’s silent form and gently carried him out the front door. He was a slight man, easy to carry. Beth’s heart broke as they took him to the shallow grave they had dug the day before. Ma’s fever had taken her swiftly. Pa had held on for as long as he could. Beth could still hear his voice in her ear: “Take care of your sister, little Beth.” He didn’t have to remind her that there was no protection at all now to save either of them from Uncle Walt and his son, Bear. Beth had known all of her life that one day she and Joanie would have to escape this place—a place of misery.

It was her father’s stubborn act that started the situation Beth and Joanie were immersed in. Pa had hid the plantation deed from his brother and refused to tell him where it was. Their land had belonged to a Jornigan for two hundred years, but Walt claimed that because he was the older brother and allowed Pa to live on his land the deed belonged to him. Pa was a proud man and had no respect for his brother, though his family depended on Walt for a roof over their heads and food on their table. For meager wages they worked Walt’s fields, picked his cotton, and suffered his tyranny along with the other workers. Pa took the location of the hidden deed to his grave—almost. Walt probably figured Beth knew where it was because Pa always favored her. And she did, but she would die before she shared the location with her vile uncle.

By the light of the waning moon the women made short work of placing the corpse in the grave and then filling the hole with dirt. Finished, they stood back and Joanie bowed her head in prayer. “Dear Father, thank You for taking Ma and Pa away from this world. I know they’re with You now, and I promise we won’t cry.” Hot tears streaming down both women’s cheeks belied her words.

Returning to the shanty, Joanie removed her nightshirt and put on boy’s clothes. Dressed in similar denim trousers and a dark shirt, Beth turned and picked up the oil lamp and poured the liquid carefully around the one-room shanty. Yesterday she had packed Ma’s best dishes and quilts and dragged them to the root cellar. It was useless effort. She would never be back here, but she couldn’t bear the thought of fire consuming Ma’s few pretty things. She glanced over her shoulder when the stench of fuel heightened Joanie’s cough. The struggle to breathe had been a constant companion since her younger sister’s birth.

Many nights Beth lay tense and fearful, certain that come light Joanie would be gone. Now that Ma and Pa were dead, Joanie was the one thing left on this earth that held meaning for Beth. She put down the lamp on the table. Walking over to Joanie, she buttoned the last button on her sister’s shirt and tugged her hat brim lower.

“Do you have everything?”

“Yes.”

“Then go outside and wait.”

Nodding, Joanie paused briefly beside the bed where Pa’s tall frame had been earlier. She hesitantly reached out and touched the empty spot. “May you rest in peace, Pa.”

Moonlight shone through the one glass pane facing the south. Beth shook her head. “He was a good man. It’s hard to believe Uncle Walt had the same mother and father.”

Joanie’s breath caught. “Pa was so good and Walt is so…evil.”

“If it were up to me, he would be lying in that grave outside the window, not Pa.”

Beth tried to recall one single time in her life when Walt Jornigan had ever shown an ounce of mercy to anyone. Certainly not to his wife when she was alive. Certainly not to Beth or Joanie. If Joanie was right and there was a God, what would Walt say when he faced Him? She shook the thought aside. She had no compassion for the man or reverence for the God her sister believed in and worshipped.

“We have to go now, Joanie.”

“Yes.” She picked up her Bible from the little table beside the rocking chair and then followed Beth outside the shanty, her breath coming in ragged gasps. Pausing, Joanie bent and succumbed to a coughing spasm. Beth helplessly waited, hoping her sister could make the anticipated trip through the cotton fields. The women had planned for days now to escape if Ma and Pa both passed.

Beth asked gently, “Can you do this?”

Joanie held up a restraining hand. “Just need…a minute.”

Beth wasn’t certain that they could wait long; time was short. Dawn would be breaking soon, and then Walt would discover that Pa had died and the sisters were missing. But they had to leave. Joanie’s asthma was getting worse. Each gasping breath left her drained and hopeless, and Walt refused to let her see a doctor.

When Joanie had mentioned the notice in a discarded Savannah newspaper advertising a piece of land, Beth knew she had to buy the property and provide a home for Joanie. Pa had allowed her and Joanie to keep the wage Uncle Walt paid monthly. Over the years they had saved enough to survive, and the owner was practically giving the small acreage away. They wouldn’t be able to build a permanent structure on their land until she found work, but she and Joanie would own their own place where no one could control them. Beth planned to eventually buy a cow and a few setting hens. At first they could live in a tent—Beth’s eyes roamed the small shanty. It would be better than how they lived now.

Joanie’s spasm passed and she glanced up. “Okay. You…can do it now.”

Beth struck a match.

She glanced at Joanie. The young woman nodded and clutched her Bible to her chest. Beth had found it in one of the cotton picker’s beds after he had moved on and given it to Joanie. Her sister had kept the Bible hidden from sight for fear that Walt would spot it on one of his weekly visits. Beth had known, as Joanie had, that if their uncle had found it he’d have had extra reason to hand out his daily lashing. Joanie kept the deed to their new land between its pages.

After pitching the lighted match into the cabin, Beth quickly closed the heavy door. Stepping to the window, she watched the puddles of kerosene ignite one by one. In just minutes flames were licking the walls and gobbling up the dry tinder. A peculiar sense of relief came over her when she saw tendrils of fire racing through the room, latching onto the front curtain and encompassing the bed.

“Don’t watch.” Joanie slipped her hand into Beth’s. “We have to hurry before Uncle Walt spots the flames.”

Hand in hand, the sisters stepped off the porch, and Beth turned to the mounds of fresh dirt heaped not far from the shanty. Pausing before the fresh graves, she whispered. “I love you both. Rest in peace.”

Joanie had her own goodbyes for their mother. “We don’t want to leave you and Pa here alone, but I know you understand—”

As the flames licked higher, Beth said, “We have to go, Joanie. Don’t look back.”

“I won’t.” Her small hand quivered inside Beth’s. “God has something better for us.”

Beth didn’t answer. She didn’t know whether Ma and Pa were in a good place or not. She didn’t know anything about such things. She just knew they had to run.

The two women dressed in men’s clothing struck off across the cotton fields carrying everything they owned in a small bag. It wasn’t much. A dress for each, clean underclothes, and their nightshirts. Beth had a hairbrush one of the pickers had left behind. She’d kept the treasure well hidden so Walt wouldn’t see it. He’d have taken it from her. He didn’t hold with primping—said combing tangles from one’s hair was a vain act. Finger-picking river-washed hair was all a woman needed.

Fire now raced inside the cabin. By the time Uncle Walt noticed the smoke from the plantation house across the fields, the two sisters would be long gone. No longer would they be under the tyrannical thumb of Walt or Bear Jornigan.

Freedom.

Beth sniffed the night air, thinking she could smell the precious state. Never again would she or Joanie answer to any man. She would run hard and far and find help for Joanie so that she could finally breathe free. In her pocket she fingered the remaining bills she’d taken from the fruit jar in the cabinet. It was all the ready cash Pa and Ma had. They wouldn’t be needing money where they were.

Suddenly there was a sound of a large explosion. Heavy black smoke blanketed the night air. Then another blast.

Kerosene! She’d forgotten the small barrel sitting just outside the back porch.

It was the last sound Beth heard.

My Review

Sisters Beth and Joanie’s parents both passed away with a few days, leaving them with only their horrid uncle and cousin to take care of them. Wanting to forever leave their uncles hold on them, Beth decided to burn the house and run, getting as far as they could before the mean uncle found out. Well they didn’t get very far, and the uncle and cousin found them. But not before three soldiers happened by and found them first. Pierce, Preach and Gray Eagle were on their way to their homes after the war ended and really didn’t want this delay hindering them from the dreams of home. But what could they do, they couldn’t just leave the ladies unprotected so thus the story of these three ladies and three gentlemen begin. Join them on the journey of their life as they set out to survive. Oh and the third lady? Where did she come from? Well I didn’t want to tell so you would find out when reading the book!

I enjoyed this easy Summer read from Lori Copeland. Though the plot was easy to figure out, the characters were interesting and the different twist and turns in the story made it more likeable and made you want to read until the very last word! Beth’s spunky attitude was a bit much at times, she really have Pierce a difficult time, but in the end, he seemed to like it.

I thought it interesting because the story started in Roanoke, Va. Very near where I live. Not many books mention places close to where I live, so I liked that and much of the Civil War was fought in our area.

I would recommend this book to those liking Historical fiction and especially around Civil War times. I encourage you to go out a purchase a copy of this book and read it!

Thanks to the publisher Harvest House and F.I.R.S.T WildCard tours for a copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review of this book. The opinions in this book are mine only.

FIRSTWildCard Tour You Can Understand the Book of Revelation by Skip Heitzig

FIRSTWildCard Tour You Can Understand the Book of Revelation by Skip Heitzig
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:
Skip Heitzig

and the book:

You Can Understand the Book of Revelation

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Skip Heitzig is a popular speaker, author, and the senior pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque, ministering to more than 13,000 adults and families weekly. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from Trinity Seminary and has a popular multimedia teaching ministry, including a nationwide radio program, television broadcast, and podcast called The Connection. He is a sought-after speaker at events including the Franklin Graham Festivals and Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Revelation is often considered the most difficult book of the Bible to understand. But dynamic pastor and speaker Skip Heitzig brings refreshing clarity to the mystery of Revelation as he reveals the good news that many Christians miss and shares why this book is important, exciting, and relevant for today.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943315
ISBN-13: 978-0736943314

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

What Have We Got Here?

Revelation 1

Summary

While the book of Revelation is certainly a mysterious book full of curious symbols and imagery, the central theme of the book could not be clearer: Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, this book is all about Jesus and what He has done, is doing, and will do to bring about the eternal plan of His Father.

Related Scriptures for Study

Psalm 22:6; Isaiah 53:5; Daniel 7:13-14; 1 Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 21:6; 22:13

Through the centuries, the book of Revelation has sparked as much controversy and disagreement as it has fascination and awe. In the fourth century, Gregory of Nazianzus and other bishops argued against including it in the Bible because it presented so many problems with interpretation. Although the Council of Carthage in 397 fully accepted Revelation into the canon of Scripture, the Eastern Orthodox church still doesn’t include it among the church’s Divine Liturgy. Although the reformer John Calvin accepted Revelation as canonical, it’s the only New Testament book for which he did not write a commentary. And Martin Luther included it among the books he classified as “antilegomena”—books he considered of questionable use or origin.

Without question, the book is difficult to interpret. It is deeply mysterious. And yet God has given it to us not only to set our minds at ease about the future, but also to spur us on to “love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). So let’s briefly investigate why we have this book, why it is so different, who wrote it, and the identity of its main character.

A Quick Look at the Book

Back when we announced at our church that we were going to tackle the book of Revelation, you could hear a ripple skitter across the auditorium: “Wow, Revelation!” The congregation had mixed sentiments. I’m sure some thought, Hot diggety dog! I can’t wait to give Skip some tips. Others gasped, “Oh no! Not the book of Revelation! You’ve gotta stay out of that book—that’s one of those closed books. That’s a sealed-up book.”

Many folks no doubt got a surprise when they discovered that the word “revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, from which we get our word “apocalypse.” Most people who hear of an apocalypse think of a catastrophe or a cataclysm—but that’s not what the word means. In fact, it signifies an unveiling or a disclosure. It speaks of uncovering or revealing something that had been hidden. Imagine a new statue placed in front of city hall, covered with a sheet. At the dedication ceremony a band plays, the mayor gives a spiel, and finally the artist talks about his commissioning. At the precise appointed moment, the sheet comes off and the statue is apokalupsis—unveiled. What once was hidden now stands in the open.

In a similar way, the Holy Spirit draws back the curtains on the book of Revelation and reveals things to us. Remember that this book is a prophecy (v. 3). It’s not an allegory; it’s not mere symbols to be spiritualized however one may choose. It makes specific predictions about the future. Verse 1 speaks of things that Jesus “signified” by an angel “to His servant John.” The word “signify” means “to reveal through signs.”

The book of Revelation employs symbol after symbol, many of them deeply mysterious. The opening vision of Jesus, for example, portrays Him with white hair, fiery brass feet, and a sword flashing out of His mouth. Revelation also speaks of many “sevens”: seven lampstands, seven spirits before the throne of God, seven trumpets, seven seals, seven thunders. You might wonder, Why such an emphasis on the number seven? In the Bible, seven is the number of completeness. Even as seven days make a complete week, so the number seven denotes completeness—a complete revelation of God, a complete judgment, a complete church.

But why the symbols and weird language? Why didn’t God just say, “Point number one: This is the rapture of the church. Point number two: After the rapture, this will happen.” Why such an extensive use of symbols?

I can think of several reasons. First, the text of Revelation functioned like a spiritual code for the early church. The Roman government fiercely persecuted first-century Christians, carefully examining any documents they confiscated. A Roman official reading the book of Revelation would respond, “What’s up with this? This is weird.” But a New Testament Christian would grasp its meaning. It feels very Old Testament, and early Christians practically bathed in the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, out of 404 passages in Revelation, at least 360 quote or allude to the Old Testament. First-century believers understood apocalyptic literature from the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezekiel, so when they read this book, they got it.

Second, the passing of time does not weaken symbolism. Symbolism tends to transcend cultures, language groups, and people groups. It can bless all people of all times—and God inspired this book in order to bless all ages of the church.

Third, symbolism arouses strong emotions. Symbols create mental images that other forms of literature simply can’t duplicate. As my son was growing up, for example, we would read a Bible story, then act out the Bible story. We dressed up as certain characters and put on towels as headdresses and robes—he was always David and I always got the rock. And then afterward we would pray about the lesson. Our games gave my son a visual handle on the stories. He grasped as a child what it took me until my mid-twenties to understand. John uses a similar approach in Revelation by employing vivid images and potent symbolism.

Fourth, verse 1 speaks of the “things which must shortly take place.” My son once said to me, “Dad, this was written 2000 years ago—and John said it will ‘shortly take place.’ Wasn’t he wrong?” You might have the same question. Did John think the events he described in Revelation would happen during his lifetime? In fact, the word translated “shortly take place” comes from the Greek term en tachi, which means “swiftly.” From this term we get our word “tachometer,” a device that measures velocity. It means to unfold in a brief period of time. In other words, once these events start occurring, they will unfold swiftly until they reach their conclusion. A time will come when the machinery of world history will kick into high gear; and then, as suddenly as it began, it will all end.

A Look at the Biographer

The book of Revelation came from God the Father, to His Son Jesus Christ, to an angel, and then finally to the apostle John, who wrote it down. In his early years, John worked as a Galilean fisherman. His dad was Zebedee, his mom was Salome, his older brother was the martyr James (who had his head cut off; see Acts 12:2).

John became part of Jesus’ inner circle, along with James and Peter. This trio was privy to things from which the other disciples were excluded. When Jesus healed Jarius’s daughter in Capernaum, for example, the Lord took with Him Peter, James, and John. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus again took Peter, James, and John. In the Garden of Gethsemane, these three again accompanied Jesus further into the garden than the other disciples.

Beyond this, John apparently had a certain intimacy with Jesus Christ that the others lacked. In his Gospel, John repeatedly called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Jesus loved all His disciples, of course, but He felt a special bond with John. At the Last Supper, it was John who laid his head on the bosom of Jesus, hearing His heartbeat—as if to grasp every word from His master’s mouth. Among the disciples, only John stood at the foot of the cross as Jesus gave His life for the sins of the world. It was John to whom Jesus entrusted the care of His elderly mother. And it was John who ran to the tomb first and believed first.

John wrote this book on the island of Patmos, a Roman penal colony about twenty-five miles off the coast of Asia Minor. To this day, the island has no source of fresh water. In John’s day, Patmos was merely a barren rock jutting out of the Aegean Sea, a perfect place to isolate prisoners. John probably was in his nineties when he wrote this book—an old guy isolated and alone on a dreary, forsaken island. Tradition tells us he didn’t die there; rather, he returned to Ephesus, where he lived out his remaining days. A beautiful church tradition says that shortly before John died, fellow believers carried him in a chair to all the churches of Asia Minor. Wherever he would go, he’d raise his arms, smile, and say, “Little children, love one another!” His harsh experiences didn’t fill him with bitterness, but with the love of Jesus Christ. John wrote Revelation to suffering Christians in order to encourage them in their faith.

Could it be that you are one of those suffering Christians? Do you feel exiled on your own desolate Patmos? Do you feel imprisoned by life’s circumstances? Or perhaps you feel trapped by another person, or maybe your Patmos is a hospital bed. Regardless of your situation, the book of Revelation will encourage you. Remember that John received his greatest revelation from God in a place of extreme isolation.

If you feel exiled on your own personal Patmos, understand that God has brought you there in order to reveal Himself to you. While a little faith may bring your soul to heaven, a lot of faith—clinging to God despite your circumstances—will bring heaven to your soul.

A Look at the Benefits

Of all the books in the Bible, only Revelation offers a promise like the one in verse 3. Only this book opens by saying, in essence, “Read me and you’ll be blessed.”

To be blessed means “to get happy.” The more you read this book, the more you will understand Jesus Christ and His plan for your future—and the happier you will feel. The text says read it, hear it, and keep it. While you can read it for yourself and listen to others as they read it aloud to you, only you can keep it and apply these truths to your life.

As we move through this book, I encourage you to keep asking yourself, What did I learn that I can apply both today and tomorrow? The real joy, John said, comes when you do what the Bible says. Happiness comes when you apply God’s Word to your life.

A Look at the Blessed One

John began by introducing us to the central character and capstone of the book of Revelation: Jesus Christ (vv. 4-8). The book explains who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. Jesus is the main thing, and John keeps Him the main thing throughout this book.

Notice that the book is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ—singular, not plural. It’s not the book of revelations, but the book of Revelation. It’s not a bunch of analogies or a collection of predictions regarding the future. Rather, it offers a revelation of a Person, Jesus Christ. The Savior takes center stage.

For that reason alone it could be that you desperately need this book. You require a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ. Maybe you have heard about Jesus, but you don’t yet know Him personally. To you, perhaps, He’s still a little baby in a Christmas manger. Revelation pictures Jesus as the ruling Lord of the earth. In fact, when John saw Jesus, he “fell at His feet as dead.” John said Jesus responded by laying “His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last’ ” (v. 17). John remembered Jesus in the flesh—the man with tattered robes and beat-up sandals, the carpenter from Nazareth—but now recognized Him as God in human flesh. He saw Jesus as a glorious, reigning King, ruling with an iron scepter over the whole world.

Jesus is the central character of the book of Revelation not merely because of His exalted status, but also because of what He has done for us: “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” (v. 5). Jesus has every right to rule your life because He’s done everything to redeem your life.

And of course, Jesus is coming to earth again (v. 7). This is the major theme of the book. Jesus Christ, the One who died and rose again, will return to this planet—and not as a common servant, but as an exalted King. He will rule! The theme of Revelation and of all history is simply this: Jesus wins.

A Startling Beginning

John tells us that he heard something, saw something, and did something. He heard a voice, he saw a vision, and he fell and worshiped. Then he wrote down what God directed him to record. In other words, this is not original material. John didn’t sit down and say, “Here I am on Patmos. I’ve got time to kill, so maybe I can write a best-seller.” No, he wrote down the heavenly message that Jesus Christ gave to him.

Because John’s account is utterly faithful to the vision he received from God, in verse 2 he calls what he sees “the word of God.” It’s the testimony of the Holy Spirit, supervised by Jesus Himself. As John finds himself catapulted into the future, he is given a preview of amazing events and records everything he sees and hears.

A Loud Voice Like a Trumpet

John heard a voice so loud that it sounded like a trumpet blast. This wasn’t some quiet whisper! Jesus spoke in a piercing, brassy voice that John compared to “the sound of many waters” (v. 15). John remembered the sound of Jesus’ mortal voice—but now it’s different, thunderous, and utterly unmistakable.

Did you realize that the voice of God changes depending on the circumstances? The prophet Elijah wanted it loud, and yet it came to him in a still, small voice. On Mount Sinai, by contrast, the great Lawgiver roared forth His Law, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Since John wasn’t used to such a roar coming from his Savior, the blaring voice of the mystery-revealing Jesus startled him. Today on the Isle of Patmos, guides direct you to the grotto of Saint John—a little cave with a church built up around it. Locals will point to a crack in the rock and tell you that’s where the trumpet voice came from; they claim the sound split the rock. While it may be a fanciful story, the voice certainly startled John.

Jesus loudly emphasized that He is God (vv. 8,11,17). Jesus Christ is deity in a body. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet; omega is the last. Any Jew would have replied, “Wait a minute! That’s a title reserved for God alone” (see Isaiah 41). So when Jesus reintroduces Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty, He plainly describes Himself as God.

And then Jesus speaks of His eternal nature: “I am…[the One] who is and who was and who is to come” (v. 8). When Moses first spoke with God at the burning bush, the Lord used this name to describe Himself: “I AM THAT I AM.” This special name in Hebrew means, “I was, I am, and I will be.” And here is Jesus, taking that eternal name upon Himself! The fact is, if you try to remove the deity of Christ from the person of Christ, Christianity collapses. It’s not optional. Jesus Christ is God. That’s the underlying fact of the New Testament.

A Captivating Vision

As soon as John heard the unearthly voice, he turned to see the face that went with it. Instantly he saw Jesus in all His glory, standing in the midst of some golden lampstands. A Jewish person reading about seven lampstands would think of the menorah, the seven-branch candlestick that stood in the holy place of the tabernacle. Verse 20 tells us this image refers to the church. What a fitting description! A lampstand is meant to give light, to dispel darkness, to show people the way out. Jesus not only claimed to be the light of the world (John 8:12), He also told His disciples that they were the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Jesus is like the sun, the source of our light. We are like the moon, reflecting His glory. And so Jesus stands in the midst of His church, the body He designed, to dispel darkness and show people the way out.

Verse 13 describes a garment that reaches to Jesus’ feet, speaking of His majesty and greatness. Verse 14 tells us, “His head and hair were white like wool.” How do you picture Jesus Christ? Maybe you see Him as a fair-skinned Anglo-Saxon, as in so many paintings. Since Jesus was Semitic, He probably had dark skin and dark hair; but when you see Him in His glory, He’s going to blow your mind. He’s not going to be what you pictured! This isn’t Jesus as John remembered Him. This Jesus had “eyes like a flame of fire.” Perhaps that refers to Jesus’ ability to see into everybody’s heart. I think the eyes of fire are related to His feet, “like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace” (v. 15). Whenever you read of brass in the Scriptures, think of judgment. John had never seen anything like this! But now he sees the holy Jesus of righteous judgment…a prelude to Revelation chapter 4, when a series of judgments begins.

In verse 16 we see Jesus holding seven stars in His right hand and a sharp, two-edged sword flashing out of His mouth. In the Bible, a person’s right hand represents power and authority. So in great power and authority, Jesus holds the stars, the messengers of the churches (v. 20). In response, John fell on his face not only because of Jesus’ majesty, but also because he recognized that God was speaking to him. When people in the Bible had a real encounter with God, they didn’t get puffed up about it. They didn’t say, “Hey, I’ve had a vision! I should write a book.” Instead, they became extremely self-conscious and meek. Far from exalting them, such an otherworldly experience humbled them.

I believe that the modern church desperately needs a new awareness of Jesus Christ. We need to see Him as high and lifted up and in total charge of His church. Too many Christians tend to think of Jesus as “my good old Buddy in the sky.” I believe we speak too much about standing on our own two feet when we ought to fall down at His feet. Have you prostrated yourself before Him in humility, worshiping Him? Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Why is it that some people are often in a place of worship and yet they are not holy? It is because they’ve neglected their prayer closets. They love wheat but they do not grind it. The water flows at their feet, but they do not stoop to drink of it.”1 Then he asked a penetrating, uncomfortable question:

Are we tired of God? If not, how is it that we do not walk with Him from day to day? Really, spiritual worship is not much cared for in these days, even by professing Christians. Many will go to a place of worship if they can be entertained with fine music or grand oratory; but if communion with God is the only attraction, they are not drawn thereby.2

By contrast, John immediately fell down on his face, recognizing that this Jesus he followed was God in the flesh. This awareness overwhelmed and humbled him, as it should us.

Obedient to a Vocation

Jesus instructed John to write what he saw to seven churches of Asia Minor (v. 19). This verse is the key to interpreting the book of Revelation, because in it Jesus gives John an outline of the whole book.

“John,” He said, “first write down the things that you have seen.” And what had John already seen? A vision of Jesus. “After that,” Jesus said, “write down the things that are.” Here Jesus points ahead to His words intended for the seven churches of Asia Minor (chapters 2–3). “Finally,” Jesus continued, “write down the things that will take place after this,” referring to the events detailed in chapters 4–22. And John faithfully obeyed what Jesus had commanded.

If you remember nothing else from the book of Revelation, remember this: When Jesus speaks, obey Him. John heard, John saw, and John obeyed. John understood that God had a call upon his life, and he pursued it faithfully.

God has a calling upon your life too. Because the Lord wants to minister to others through you, give fresh attention to His voice. Get a fresh perspective of Jesus Christ. Seek a fresh experience of worship. Surrender your life in total humility to God, and expect to hear His voice. When you do, obey what you hear. Follow whatever vocation He gives you, and do so with all of your heart.

Our Real Hope

One day a weary father returned home, exhausted after a long day at work. He couldn’t wait to hit his favorite chair, put up his feet, kick off his shoes, and read the newspaper. When he dragged himself through the door, he plopped down, opened the newspaper—and his five-year-old son launched himself into his lap.

“Daddy! Let’s play!” the little boy shouted. The father knew his son needed time with Daddy, but he thought, I have a greater need, for just a few minutes. I need time alone. He didn’t want to tell his excited son to bug off, so he mentally constructed a brilliant scheme. He noticed that one section of the newspaper featured a picture of the earth, taken from a moon probe. “Give me that section,” he instructed his son. Using some scissors, the father cut the picture into puzzle-shaped pieces, piled them up, then gave them to his son, along with some cellophane tape. “Put this puzzle together,” he said. “When you’re all done, bring it to me, and then we’ll play.”

The boy whizzed off and the father thought he had bought himself a chunk of time. But a few moments later, the boy returned with the picture of the earth, perfectly taped together.

“How did you do it so quickly?” the startled father asked.

“Dad,” the boy replied, “it was simple! On the back is a picture of a man, and when you put the man together, the world comes together.”

That little boy is on to something. The world will come together when Jesus Christ returns. Judgment will fall, Jesus will begin to reign, and God will create His perfect world order. But until that day, the Lord puts the world back together one person at a time. He rebuilds and reshapes and tapes each of us together until we start functioning in the way He designed us to operate.

Let God put you back together, and then start living as the Lord has always meant for you to live.

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