Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Simple Secrets by Nancy Mehl

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Simple Secrets
Barbour Books (June 1, 2010)

by

Nancy Mehl



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her son, Danny. She’s authored nine books and is currently at work on her newest series for Barbour Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

CREATING FICTION FULL OF FAITH, HOPE AND HEART…

Nancy Mehl is a mystery writer who loves to set her novels in her home state of Kansas. Her three-in-one book, COZY IN KANSAS, contains the first three Ivy Towers’s mysteries: IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, BYE BYE BERTIE, and FOR WHOM THE WEDDING BELL TOLLS which was nominated for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award in mystery.

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Graphic designer Gracie Temple wants it all: the big city lifestyle and a successful job in advertising. And it looks like her life is on the right track when she takes a job at a struggling, midsize firm in Wichita.

But Gracie Temple's uncle left her a house in a rural Mennonite community. She soon learns he secluded himself for years to protect a secret about her own father. Now it's up to Gracie to decide if she'll keep the secret or if she can afford to expose it.

Sam Goodrich loves his fruit farm in Harmony, Kansas. But when he meets city-girl Gracie, he begins to wonder if he could leave it behind for a woman who makes him feel things he's never felt before.

When someone tries to keep Gracie from discovering the truth behind the town's collection of secrets, will Sam and Gracie cling to their faith to help them decide what's most important...before it's too late?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Simple Secrets, go HERE.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I know right now I'm horribly behind in blogging. I know there were blog tours I should have posted for, books that I should have reviewed, competitions I should have judged, and things I should have done. I am very very sorry. Life right now is just going extremely crazy and nothing seems to be going right. I'm hoping that in the next week or so, things can settle down and I can get back to a regular schedule. Until then, please bear with me and I will be back soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review: "Caleb + Kate" by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Rich and pampered, Kate has everything. But when her family moves to the Pacific Northwest, her life changes completely. She meets rough Caleb, and even though they have nothing in common, she's attracted to him. When Caleb decides Kate has something he needs, can she prove that's not who she really is?

I will now declare that Cindy Martinusen-Coloma is one of my new favorite YA writers. Seriously, this lady knows how to write good YA. And it's not just Christian YA we're talking about. Her stuff is just as good as the general market YA offerings that are out there. This book sets itself apart from most Christian YA books. For starters, the cover is just wonderful. It doesn't look like stock photography and neither does it look like clip art put together hastily. The image portrays a wonderful clue to what the story is about.

Kate is one of the popular girls in the school while Caleb is the new kid who works for Kate's dad at their hotel. Their story revolves around Kate potentially losing her popularity and falling for the kid from the other end of the class spectrum. Martinusen-Coloma's writing is topical and relevant to teens who will be able to relate to the feelings both Kate and Caleb have in this book. The use of technology is frequent as characters text each other quite a bit but never annoying as teen speak is kept to a minimum. I would have loved to read a story about Kate's friends especially Oliver as I felt that his character has so much more to say.

I'm always on the lookout for multiculturalism in Christian books (sadly because of the lack of it in Christian fiction) and once again I find it in a YA book. Caleb is Hawaiian and is proud of his heritage. I was glad that while class issues are a focal part of the story, race issues are never a factor other than to point out obvious differences. While this book does mention God and the fact that both Caleb and Kate are Christians, it is never preachy and adds to the story instead of being a distraction.

The only minor quibble I had was that I felt that the disagreement that caused the feud between the two families wasn't expounded on enough. Basic details are told as well as hints given towards the true feelings of the two men, but I never felt as if the whole story was really told. I guess I felt that there had been a lot of build up throughout the whole story and nothing really came of it. Other than this, I really enjoyed this book. Finding your true love as a teenager is a popular subject but it's always downplayed in Christian fiction. I'm glad that instead of ignoring it and giving out the message that "you're too young" or "dating is wrong", Martinusen-Coloma embraces the fact that teens DO fall in love. It all comes down to whether or not they can handle the emotions and growth that come from it. Looking forward to her next releases as from her track record, I can predict it will be another winner. HIGHLY recommended.

Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma is published by Thomas Nelson (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Claim by Lisa Bergren

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:


and the book:


Claim: A Novel of Colorado (The Homeward Trilogy)

David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Lisa T. Bergren is a best-selling author who offers a wide array of reading opportunities ranging from children’s books (God Gave Us Love and God Found Us You) and women’s nonfiction (Life on Planet Mom) to suspense-filled intrigue (The Gifted Trilogy) and historical drama. With more than thirty titles among her published works and a deep faith that has weathered dramatic career and personal challenges, Bergren is excited to add the Homeward Trilogy to her resume as she follows God’s direction in her writing career. Bergren lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband Tim (a graphic design artist and musician) and their three children.

Visit the author's website.




AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

















1 August 1888

Gunnison, Colorado


“Keep doing that you’ll get yourself killed,” Nic said to the boy. Panting, Nic paused and wiped his forehead of sweat. For an hour now, as he moved sacks of grain from a wagon to a wheelbarrow and into the warehouse, he’d glimpsed the boy daring fate as he ran across the busy street, narrowly escaping horse hooves and wagon wheels.


“Where’s your mother?”


The brown-haired boy paused. “Don’t have a mother.”


“Well then, where’s your father?”


The boy cast him an impish grin and shrugged one shoulder.

“Around.”


“Is he coming back soon?” Nic persisted.


“Soon enough. You won’t tell ’im, will ya?”


“Tell him what?” Nic tossed back with a small smile. “Long as you stop doing whatever you’re not supposed to be doing.”


The boy wandered closer and climbed up to perch on the wagon’s edge, watching Nic with eyes that were as dark as his hair. Nic relaxed a bit, relieved that the kid wasn’t in imminent danger.


Nic hefted a sack onto his shoulder and carried it to the cart. It felt good to be working again. He liked this sort of heavy labor, the feel of muscles straining, the way he had to suck in his breath to heave a sack, then release it with a long whoosh. A full day of this sort of work allowed him to drop off into dreamless sleep—something he hungered for more than anything else these days.


The boy was silent, but Nic could feel him staring, watching his every move like an artist studying a subject he was about to paint. “How’d you get so strong?” the boy said at last.


“Always been pretty strong,” Nic said, pulling the next sack across the wooden planks of the wagon, positioning it. “How’d you get so fast?”


“Always been pretty fast,” said the boy, in the same measured tone Nic had used.


Nic smiled again, heaved the sack to his shoulder, hauled it five steps to the cart, and then dropped it.


“This your job?” the boy asked.


“For today,” Nic said.


Nic loaded another sack, and the boy was silent for a moment. “My dad’s looking for help. At our mine.”


“Hmm,” Nic said.


“Needs a partner to help haul rock. He’s been asking around here for days.”


“Miner, huh? I don’t care much for mining.”


“Why not? You could be rich.”


“More miners turn out dead than rich.” He winced inwardly, as a shadow crossed the boy’s face. It’d been a while since he’d been around a kid this age. He was maybe ten or eleven max, all wiry muscle and sinew. Reminded him of a boy he knew in Brazil.


Nic carried the next sack over to the wagon, remembering the heat there, so different from what Colorado’s summer held. Here it was bone dry. He was sweating now, after the morning’s work, but not a lot. In Brazil a man soaked his sheets as he slept.


“Listen, kid,” he said, turning back around to the wagon, intending to apologize for upsetting him. But the boy was gone.


Nic sighed and set to finishing his work. As the sun climbed high in the sky, he paused to take a drink from his canteen and eat a hunk of bread and cheese, watching the busy street at the end of the alleyway. He wondered if he’d see the boy again, back to his antics of racing teams of horses. The child was probably letting off steam, just as Nic had done all his life—he’d been about the child’s age when he’d first starting scrapping with others.


But that was in the past. Not since his voyage aboard the Mirabella had Nic indulged the need, succumbed to the desire to enter a fight. Several times now, he’d had the opportunity—and enough cause—to take another man down. But he had walked away. He knew, deep down he knew, that if he was ever to face his sisters, Odessa and Moira, again, if he was to come to them and admit he was penniless, everything would somehow be all right if he was settled inside. If he could come to a place of peace within, the kind of peace Manuel had known. It was the kind of thing that allowed a man to stand

up straight, shoulders back, the kind of thing that gave a man’s gut peace. Regardless of what he accomplished, or had in the past. Thing was, he hadn’t found that place of comfort inside, and he didn’t want what Manuel tried to sell him—God.


There had to be another way, another path. Something like this work. Hard manual labor. That might be what he needed most.


Nic heard a man calling, his voice a loud whisper, and his eyes narrowed as the man came limping around the corner, obviously in pain, his arm in a sling. “You, there!” he called to Nic. “Seen a boy around? About yea big?” he said, gesturing to about chest height.


“Yeah, he was here,” Nic called back. He set his canteen inside the empty wagon and walked to the end of the alleyway.


“Where’d he go?” the man said. Nic could see the same widow’s peak in the man’s brown hair that the boy had, the same curve of the eyes … the boy’s father, clearly.


“Not sure. One minute he was watching me at work, the next he was gone.”


“That’s my boy, all right.”


“I’ll help you find him.”


The man glanced back at him and then gave him a small smile. He stuck out his good arm and offered his hand. “I’d appreciate that. Name’s Vaughn. Peter Vaughn.”


“Dominic St. Clair,” he replied. “You can call me Nic.”


Peter smiled. His dimples were in the exact same spot as the boy’s. “Sure you can leave your work?”


“I’m nearly done. Let’s find your boy.”


“Go on,” Moira’s sister urged, gazing out the window. “He’s been waiting on you for a good bit now.”


“I don’t know what he sees in me,” Moira said, wrapping the veil around her head and across her shoulder again. It left most of her face visible but covered the burns at her neck, ear, and scalp. Did it cover them enough? She nervously patted it, making sure it was in place.


Odessa stepped away from washing dishes and joined her. “He might wonder what you see in him. Do you know what his story is? He seems wary.” Their eyes met and Odessa backtracked. “Daniel’s a

good man, Moira. I think highly of him. But I’d like to know what has burdened him so. Besides you.” She nudged her sister with her hip.


Moira wiped her hands on the dish towel and glanced out at him as he strode across the lawn with Bryce, Odessa’s husband. He was striking in profile, reminding her of the statues of Greek gods the French favored in their lovely tailored gardens. Far too handsome for her—since the fire, anyway. She shook her head a little.


“Moira.”


Irritated at being caught in thought, Moira looked at Odessa again.


“Trust him, Moira. He’s a good man. I can sense it.”


She nodded, but inwardly she sighed as she turned away and wrapped a scarf around her veiled head and shoulders. A good man. After Reid and Max and Gavin—could she really trust her choice in men? Odessa was fortunate to have fallen for her husband, Bryce, a good man through and through. Moira’s experiences with men had been less than successful. What made Odessa think this one was trustworthy?


But as Daniel ducked his head through the door and inclined it to one side in silent invitation to walk with him, Moira thought about how he had physically saved her more than once. And how his gentle pursuit both bewildered and calmed her. Daniel had done nothing to deserve her suspicions.


She moved over to the door. He glanced at her, and she noticed how his thick lashes made his brown eyes more pronounced. He shuffled his feet as if he were nervous. “You busy?” he asked.


“No.” Moira felt a nervous tension tighten her stomach muscles.


“Can we, uh …” His gaze shifted to Odessa, who quickly returned to her dishes. “Go for a walk?” he finally finished.


Moira smoothed her skirts and said, “I’d like that.” Then, meeting her sister’s surreptitious gaze, she followed him outside. It was a lovely day on the Circle M. The horses pranced in the distance. She could see her brother-in-law riding out with Tabito, the ranch’s foreman.


“So, you wanted to talk,” she ventured.


“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you, Moira,” he said.


She looked up at him and then, when she saw the ardor in his gaze, she turned with a sigh.


“Don’t look away,” he whispered gently, pulling her to face him. He reached to touch her veil, as if he longed to cradle her cheek instead.


“No, Daniel, don’t,” she said and ran a nervous hand over the cover. He was tall and broad, and she did not feel physically menaced—it was her heart that threatened to pound directly out of her chest. Perhaps she wasn’t ready for this … the intimacies that a courtship brought.


She’d been dreaming about what it would be like to be kissed by him, held by him, but he never made such advances before. Never took the opportunity, leaving her to think that he was repulsed by

her burns, her hair, singed to just a few inches long, her past relationship with Gavin, or her pregnancy—despite what he claimed. Her hand moved to the gentle roundness of her belly, still small yet making itself more and more prominent each day. “I … I’m not even certain why you pursue me at all. Why you consider me worthy. ”


He seemed stunned by her words. “Worthy?” he breathed. He let out a hollow, breathy laugh and then looked to the sky, running a hand through his hair. He shook his head and then slowly brought his brown eyes down to meet hers again. “Moira,” he said, lifting a hand to cradle her cheek and jaw, this time without hesitation. She froze, wondering if he intended to kiss her at last. “I only hesitate because I am afraid,” he whispered.


“Afraid? You think I am not? I come to you scarred in so many ways, when you, you, Daniel, deserve perfection.…”


“No,” he said, shaking his head too. “It is I who carry the scars. You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am. Who I once was. What I’ve done …”


“So tell me,” she pleaded. “Tell me.”


He stared at her a moment longer, as if wondering if she was ready, wondering if she could bear it, and Moira’s heart pounded again. Then, “No. I can’t,” he said with a small shake of his head. He sighed heavily and moved up the hill. “Not yet.”


An hour after they began their search for Everett Vaughn, Peter sat down on the edge of the boardwalk and looked up to the sky. His face was a mask of pain. “That boy was hard to track when I wasn’t hurt.”


“He’ll turn up,” Nic reassured.


Peter nodded and lifted his gaze to the street.


“What happened to you?” Nic said gently, sitting down beside the man. His eyes scanned the crowds for the boy even as he waited for Peter’s response.


“Cave-in, at my mine. That’s why I’m here. Looking for a good man to partner with me. I’m onto a nice vein, but I’m livin’ proof that a man’s a fool to mine alone.” He looked at Nic and waited until he met his gaze. “You lookin’ for work?” He cocked his head to the side. “I’m offering a handsome deal. Fifty fifty.”


Nic let a small smile tug at the corners of his mouth. He glanced at the man, who had to be about his own age. There was an easy way about him that drew Nic, despite the pain evident in the lines of his face. “That is a handsome offer.” He cocked his own head. “But I don’t see you doing half the work, laid up like you are.”


“No, not quite. But I’ve already put a lot of work into it in the past three years, and I’m still good for about a quarter of the labor. To say nothing of the fact that my name’s on the claim.”


Nic paused, thinking about it, feeling drawn to help this man, but then shook his head. “I’m not very fond of small dark spaces.”


“So … make it bigger. Light a lamp.”


Nic shook his head, more firmly this time. “No. I’d rather find another line of work.”


Just then he spotted the boy, running the street again. “There he is,” Nic said, nodding outward. The boy’s father followed his gaze and with a grimace, rose to his feet. As they watched, the boy ran under a wagon that had temporarily pulled to a stop. Then he jumped up on the back of another, riding it for about twenty feet until he was passing by them. His face was a mask of elation.


“Everett! Ev! Come on over here!”


Everett’s eyes widened in surprise. He jumped down and ran over to them, causing a man on horseback to pull back hard on his reins and swear.


“Sorry, friend,” Peter said, raising his good arm up to the rider. The horseman shook his head and then rode on.


Peter grabbed his son’s arm and, limping, hauled him over to the boardwalk. “I’ve told you to stay out of the street.”


“So did I,” Nic said, meeting the boy’s gaze. The child flushed red and glanced away.


“We’d best be on our way,” Peter said. “Thanks for helpin’ me find my boy.” He reached out a hand and Nic rose to shake it. Peter paused. “It’s not often a man has a chance at entering a claim agreement once a miner has found a vein that is guaranteed to pay.”


Nic hesitated as he dropped Peter’s hand. “I’ve narrowly escaped with my life on more than one occasion, friend. I’m aiming to look up my sisters, but not from a casket.”


Peter lifted his chin, but his eyes betrayed his weariness and disappointment. What would it mean for him? For his boy, not to find a willing partner? Would they have to give up the mine just as they were finally on the edge of success? And what of the boy’s mother? His unkempt, too-small clothes told him Everett had been without a mother for some time.


He hesitated again, feeling a pang of compassion for them both. “Should I change my mind … where would I find you?”


A glimmer of hope entered Peter’s eyes. “A couple miles out of St. Elmo. Just ask around for the Vaughn claim up in the Gulch and someone’ll point you in our direction.” He reached out a hand. “I’d be much obliged, Nic. And I’m not half bad at cookin’ either. I’d keep you in grub. Give it some thought. But don’t be too put out if you get there, and I’ve found someone else.”


“Understood,” Nic said with a smile. “Safe journey.”


“And to you.” He turned away, tugging at his boy’s shoulder, but the child looked back at Nic, all big pleading eyes.


Hurriedly, Nic walked away in the opposite direction. He fought the desire to turn and call out to them. Wasn’t he looking for work? Something that would allow him to ride on to Bryce and Odessa’s ranch without his tail tucked between his legs? The man had said the mine was sure to pay.… I’m onto a nice vein.…


Was that a miner’s optimism or the truth?


Not yet?” Moira sputtered, following him. She frowned in confusion. He had been coaxing her forward, outward, steadily healing her with his kind attentions these last two months. But now it was as if they were at some strange impasse. What was he talking about? What had happened to him?


She hurried forward and grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop and turn again to face her. Her veil clung to her face in the early evening breeze. “Daniel.”


He slowly lifted his dark eyes to meet hers.


“This is about me, isn’t it?” she asked. “You attempt to spare my feelings but find me repulsive. I can hardly fault you, but—”


“No,” he said, with another hollow laugh. “Contrary to what you believe, Moira St. Clair, not everything boils down to you. You are braver than you think and more beautiful than you dare to believe. I believe we’re destined to be together.”


Moira held her breath. Then what—


“No,” he went on. “This is about something I need to resolve. Something that needs to be done, or at least settled in my mind, my heart, before I can properly court you.”


“What? What is it, Daniel?” she tried once more.


He only looked at her helplessly, mouth half open, but mute.


She crossed her arms and turned her back to him, staring out across the pristine valley, the land of the Circle M. It hurt her that he felt he couldn’t confide in her as she had with him. She stiffened when he laid his big hands on her shoulders. “I don’t need to be rescued, Daniel,” she said in a monotone. “God has seen me to this place, this time. He’ll see me through to the next … with or without you.”


“You don’t understand.”


“No. I don’t. We’ve been courting all summer, whether you realize it or not. And now you say that there is something else that needs to be resolved? You assume much, Daniel Adams. You think that I’ll wait forever?” She let out a scoffing laugh. “It’s clear you do not fear that any other man might pursue me. Not that I blame you …” She turned partly away and stared into the distance. “Please. Don’t let this linger on. I cannot bear it. Not if you do not intend to claim me as your own.”


He was silent for a long minute. Oh, that he would but turn her and meet her lips at last …


But he didn’t. “We both have a lot to think through, pray through, Moira,” he said quietly.


“Yes, well, let me know when that is accomplished,” she said over her shoulder, walking away as fast as she could, lest he see the tears that were already rolling down her cheeks.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Claim by Lisa Bergren. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spring Reading Thing Wrap Up

Well all good things must come to an end. And the Spring Reading Thing is now over. How'd I do? Well I finished the original list of my books way back in April, and then I just kept on reading. I read all the books (39) on my list PLUS 142 more for a grand total of 181 books in 3 months!!!!!

Here's the official list of books (click) I read for the challenge.

Here's a breakdown of the OTHER books that I read during the same time:



Christian Fiction

  • Where Do I Go? by Neta Jackson
  • The Promise of the Morning by Ann Shorey
  • Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson
  • Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl with April Henry
  • A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin
  • Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason
  • The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Pattillo
  • Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon by Miralee Ferrell
  • Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
  • The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo
  • Greater Love by Robert Whitlow
  • In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon
  • The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
  • Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman
  • Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray
  • A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell
  • The Long Trail Home by Stephen Bly
  • June Bug by Chris Fabry
  • It Had to Be You by Janice Thompson
  • Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
  • A Woman Called Sage by Diann Mills
  • This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson
  • The Telling by Beverly Lewis
  • Almost Forever by Deborah Raney
  • A Tailor Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  • The Power and the Glory by Clint Kelly
Chick Lit
  • My Own Personal Soap Opera by Libby Malin
  • According to Jane by Marilyn Brant
  • Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell
  • When Good Wishes Go Bad by Mindy Klasky
  • The Icing on the Cupcake by Jennifer Ross
  • The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen
YA
  • Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
  • Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd
  • Through Thick and Thin by Sandra Byrd
  • Magna by Nicole O'Dell
  • Making Waves by Nicole O'Dell
  • Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
  • Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
  • Wish by Alexandra Bullen
  • Goodbye Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
  • So Not Happening by Jenny B Jones
  • City of Angels by Zoey Dean
  • Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan
  • Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
  • Movers and Fakers by Lisi Harrison
  • Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold
  • The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
  • The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart
  • The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
  • Runaway by Meg Cabot
  • Brilliant by Rachel Vail
  • These Boots Were Made for Stalking by Lisi Harrison
  • Scandal by Kate Brian
  • 13 Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  • Violet by Design by Melissa Walker
  • Violet in Private by Melissa Walker
  • Tales of a Hollywood Gossip Queen by Mary Kennedy
  • Everyone Who's Anyone by Randi Reisfeld
  • A Summer Secret by Kathleen Fuller
  • Caleb and Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma
Middle Grade
  • Project: Ski Trip by Melody Carlson
  • Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum by RK Mortenson
  • The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin
Nancy Drew
  • Mystery of the Ski Jump by Carolyn Keene
  • The Clue of the Velvet Mask by Carolyn Keene
  • The Ringmaster's Secret by Carolyn Keene
  • The Scarlet Slipper Mystery by Carolyn Keene
  • The Witch Tree Symbol by Carolyn Keene
  • The Hidden Window Mystery by Carolyn Keene
  • The Haunted Showboat by Carolyn Keene
  • The Secret of the Golden Pavilion by Carolyn Keene
  • The Clue in the Old Stagecoach by Carolyn Keene
  • The Mystery of the Fire Dragon by Carolyn Keene
  • The Clue of the Dancing Puppet by Carolyn Keene
  • The Moonstone Castle Mystery by Carolyn Keene
  • The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes by Carolyn Keene
  • The Phantom of Pine Hill by Carolyn Keene
Cozy Mystery
  • Sprinkle With Murder by Jenn McKinlay
  • Stuck on Murder by Lucy Lawrence
  • Town in a Blueberry Jam by BB Haywood
  • Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck
  • A Peach of a Murder by Livia J. Washburn
  • Murder by the Slice by Livia J. Washburn
  • A Murderous Glaze by Melissa Glazer
  • Corpse Pose by Diana Killian
  • Dipped, Stripped and Dead by Elise Hyatt
  • Murder on Ice by Alina Adams
  • Faux Finish by Peg Marberg
  • On Thin Ice by Alina Adams
  • Axel of Evil by Alina Adams
  • The Christmas Cookie Killer by Livia J. Washburn
  • Killer Crab Cakes by Livia J. Washburn
  • Invitation to Murder by Elizabeth Bright
  • On the Slam by Honor Hartman
  • Hooked on a Murder by Betty Hechtman
  • Death by Sudoku by Kaye Morgan
  • Murder in Miniature by Margaret Grace
  • Death Drop by Alina Adams
  • State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
  • Death of a Tart by Kate Borden
  • The Cracked Pot by Melissa Glazer
  • Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells
  • Through a Glass, Deadly by Sarah Atwell
  • A Fatal Slip by Melissa Glazer
  • The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis
  • Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle
  • Cut to the Corpse by Lucy Lawrence
  • Sink Trap by Christy Evans
  • Bundle of Trouble by Diana Orgain
  • Dial Om for Murder by Diana Killian
  • Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley
  • Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum
  • Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
  • Mum's the Word by Kate Collins
  • Shop Til You Drop by Elaine Viets
  • Skate Crime by Alina Adams
  • Scent to Her Grave by India Ink
  • Sew Deadly by Elizabeth Lynn Casey
  • One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly
  • Tressed to Kill by Lila Dare
  • The Diva Takes the Cake by Krista Davis
  • Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton
  • Deadly Advice by Roberta Isleib
  • Tutu Deadly by Natalie M. Roberts
  • Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden
  • Motherhood is Murder by Diana Orgain
  • Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley
  • Death of a Turkey by Kate Borden
  • Pane of Death by Sarah Atwell
  • Lead Pipe Cinch by Christy Evans
  • Stamped Out by Terri Thayer
  • Crime Brulee by Nancy Fairbanks
Other Literature
  • Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
  • The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
  • The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser
  • Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
  • Stealing Lumby by Gail Fraser
  • Lumby's Bounty by Gail Fraser
  • The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
  • Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Non Fiction
  • Everything is Broken by Emma Larkin

What was the best book you read this fall? Too many good ones to choose from but I really did enjoy a bunch of the cozies I read and several of the YAs.

What book could you have done without? Faux Finished by Peg Margberg. Just took me forever to read that cozy. Not a good storyline at all.

Did you try out a new author this fall? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again? Oh gosh yes. I read TONS of new authors. Most of them I will be trying to find their backlist as well as all their new releases.

If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it? There was one book that's not on the list that I didn't finish - Hallelujah by J. Scott Featherstone. It was 600 pages and I had interlibrary loaned it and it had to go back before I finished. It wasn't that good though.

Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones? Well to be honest, I barely remember anyone else's list since mine was already so big!

What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share! Well, first off I know I read a lot! Second, I've discovered that I REALLY like cozy mysteries! Also I had taken off reading for a few weeks due to personal issues but even with that I still read the most books in 3 months ever.

What was the best part of the Spring Reading Challenge? Being able to finish up some series that I knew I would put off if I hadn't put them on the list.

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall? Definitely. Will keep me straight on another library book pile. It's already starting to pile up again. Lol.

Any other thoughts, impressions, or comments. Thanks for hosting this Katrina!!!! Can't wait til fall!

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Maid to Match
Bethany House (June 1, 2010)


by
Deeanne Gist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her 2010 books, Beguiled and Maid To Match are now available for order.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-seven years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Falling in love could cost her everything.

From the day she arrived at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled, by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid, After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangles in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Maid to Match, go HERE.

Join this SPECIAL GETAWAY (Click on the Button):












Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Daycus

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:





and the book:



Ransome’s Crossing (The Ransome Trilogy)

Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)

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



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:






Kaye Dacus, author of Ransome’s Honor has a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in history, and a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction. Her love of the Regency era started with Jane Austen. Her passion for literature and for history come together to shape her creative, well-researched, and engaging writing.





Visit the author's website.












AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


















Portsmouth, England

August 17, 1814



Ned Cochrane, first lieutenant, HMS Alexandra, stepped out of the jolly boat onto the stone dock and glanced around at the early morning bustle of the dockyard crew. Only nine days remained to fill the crew roster and fit out the ship with the supplies needed for the first leg of a transatlantic voyage. With yesterday lost in celebrating Captain—no, Commodore Ransome’s wedding—and since the commodore’s attention would be necessarily split between distractions on land and his duties to his ship, Ned would shoulder the burden of preparing the ship and crew.



“Sir, look out! Lieutenant Cochrane!”



Ned spun—and fell back just in time to save himself from being swept off the quay by a net full of barrels swinging at the end of a crane. His hat wasn’t so fortunate.



The cargo swayed menacingly overhead. Ned scrambled backward, out of harm’s way. Once clear, he leapt to his feet. “You, there! Watch what you’re about. Secure that crane,” he yelled at the negligent dock crew.



“Are you all right, sir?”



The voice—an odd timbre in the chorus of tenor, baritone, and bass tones usually heard in the dockyard—matched the one which had called the warning. He turned.



A young man, not really more than a boy in a worn, ill-fitting midshipman’s uniform, stood holding Ned’s dripping hat. Sure enough, the lad’s right sleeve was wet to the shoulder.



“Nothing injured but my pride.” Ned took his hat and studied the midshipman. The boy’s tall, round hat concealed most of his dark hair, but…Ned squinted against the bright glare of the sun off the water and surrounding gray stone. “Do I know you, lad?”



The boy touched the brim of the shabby hat. “Charles Lott, sir. We spoke last week. You said there might be a place for me aboard your ship.”



“Ah, yes.” Ned now recalled meeting the midshipman, who’d answered Ned’s questions when the boy had first approached him about a position aboard Alexandra last week, even the question Ned had missed the first time he’d stood for his lieutenancy examination. “I’m sorry, but we have filled the positions on Alexandra.”



Shocked disappointment filled the boy’s elfin face.



“However, I have recommended you to the captain of Audacious.” Ned struggled to keep the smile from his face.



“Audacious? Captain Yates, then?”



Ned sighed. He liked Commodore Ransome’s friend extraordinarily and had looked forward to the fun to be had on Jamaica station with two such commanders. “Alas, I am afraid to say Captain Yates has resigned his commission. Captain Parker is taking command of Audacious.” Ned glanced around the quay. “There is his first officer. Come, I shall introduce you.”



“Thank you, sir.” Midshipman Lott straightened the white collar and cuffs of his too-large coat.



Ned caught his counterpart’s attention and met him near the steps to the upper rampart. He made the introduction and stood back as the first lieutenant of Audacious, Montgomery Howe, put a series of questions to the lad. Lott answered each quickly and with near textbook precision.



“Well done, Mr. Lott. You are ordered to present yourself day after tomorrow to begin your official duties.”



The boy’s face paled. “Sir, may I have until next Thursday?”



“The day before we sail?” Howe crossed his arms and glared at Ned and then at Lott.



Ned ground his teeth at the boy’s impertinence, which was casting him—Ned—in a bad light. He’d recommended the lad, after all.



“Yes, sir. I am aware it is an inconvenience, but my mother is a widow, and I must see that she is settled—that our business affairs are settled—before I could leave on such a long journey.”



“And it will take a sennight?” Ned asked.



“We live in the north part of the country, sir. ’Tis a three days’ journey by post, sir.” Lott spoke to the cobblestones below his feet.



Aye, well should he be ashamed to make such a request…though many years ago, a newly made captain had let a newly made lieutenant have four days to see to his own widowed mother and sister.



Apparently, from the expression that flickered across Howe’s face, he had also received a similar mercy some time earlier in his career. “Very well, then. You are to present yourself to me on deck of Audacious no later than seven bells in the morning watch Thursday next. If you are late, your spot will be given to someone else. Understand?”



“Aye, sir!” Lott touched the brim of his hat again. “Thank you, sir.”



“Dismissed—oh, and Mr. Lott?”



The boy, a few paces away already, halted and turned, at attention again. “Aye, sir?”



“Make yourself more presentable by next week if you can. You can find plenty of secondhand uniforms available in the shops in much better condition than yours. And get a haircut. I do not allow midshipmen to tuck their hair under their collars.”



Lott’s hand flew to the back of his neck, eyes wide. “Aye, aye, sir.”



“Dismissed.”



Ned moved to stand beside Howe as the boy ran down the quay. “Sorry for the inconvenience, Monty, but I have a feeling that boy will do well by you.”



“I’ve never heard a lad recite the answers so perfectly. He’s slight. Says he’s fifteen? Can’t be more than thirteen or fourteen.”



“Some boys don’t mature as quickly as others. You should remember that quite well.” Ned bumped his shoulder against his former berth mate’s.



Howe shoved him back. “Just because you gained height and a deeper voice before I did doesn’t mean you matured faster, Ned. In fact, you could probably learn manners in decorum and respect from little Charlie Lott.”



Ned guffawed and bade his friend farewell. He wasn’t certain if he could learn anything from the young midshipman, but he would certainly look out for him and do whatever he could to promote the boy’s interest. He had the feeling Charles Lott would make a good officer some day.





Charlotte Ransome dived behind a large shrub and held her breath. Footsteps crunched on the gravel garden path, coming toward her closer and closer.



Had he seen her?



Keep walking. Please, Lord, let him keep walking.



When he reached her shrub, Charlotte squeezed her eyes shut, fearful of blinking. If the gardener had seen and recognized her, he would report her to the Yateses, who would in turn report her to her mother and brother—and all would be lost.



A gust of wind rustled the verdure around her. Her heart thundered against her ribs, and she feared she might be sick.



But the gardener did not stop. Long after his footsteps faded, Charlotte kept to her hiding place. Quiet descended until only the noise of the streets and alleys beyond the garden walls filtered in around the enclosure behind the enormous townhouse.



Peeking around the shrub, she found the path clear once again.



Sneaking into the garden through the servants’ entrance in the rear had proven risky but successful. She hadn’t been sure she’d avoid being spotted by any of the servants, busy with their early morning duties, but Providence appeared to be with her.



She cautiously made her way across the garden to the back of the house. She peeked through the window of Collin Yates’s study and, finding it empty, slipped inside, relieved no one had discovered that she’d left it unlocked when she sneaked out of the house near dawn. She stuck her head out into the hallway, and, hearing no movement, made her way upstairs as quietly as she could. She paused on the landing and looked around the corner, down the hallway on which all of the bedrooms opened. No stirrings, no sounds. Heart pounding wildly and trying to keep her feet from touching the floor, she made her way along the thick carpet to the bedroom at the end of the hall and slipped inside, pushing the door closed with a soft click.



Movement across the room caught her eye. Turning to face the intruder, she found herself looking at a bedraggled boy in an oversized coat and britches, a tall, round hat jammed on his head almost down to his eyes.



She laughed, and the bedraggled midshipman in the mirror did likewise. Yes, her disguise was convincing enough to startle even herself. With a sigh she unbuttoned the coat and pulled it off, dropping it to the floor. When Lieutenant Cochrane had looked at her with recognition in his gray eyes, she was certain her entire plan would crash like a ship against a rocky shore. She sent up a quick prayer of thanks that he hadn’t connected her appearance as Charles Lott with her true identity.



Sinking into the chair at the dressing table, she yanked off the hat and pulled her long thick hair out from under the high collar of the uniform coat. She’d tried pinning it flat to her head, but the cumbersome length of it—past her waist when unbound—created too much bulk for even the oversized hat to conceal.



The small porcelain clock on the mantel chimed once. Half-past eight. Panic once again rising, Charlotte peeled out of the uniform—picked up for mere pennies the first time she’d been able to sneak away from her mother’s and Mrs. Yates’s chaperonage a few days ago—stuffed it in the bottom of her trunk, threw her sleeping gown over her head, and jumped into the bed, still trying to find the sleeves with her hands as the bedroom door swung quietly open.



At the thump of the water pitcher on the commode, Charlotte sat up as if awakened by the sound.



Her maid curtsied. “Good morning, miss. I brought you fresh water for washing.”



“Thank you.” Charlotte grabbed her dressing gown from the end of the bed and shrugged into it, and then she stepped behind the screen in the corner. The scent of lilacs drifted up from the warm water as she poured it into the porcelain basin in the top of the exquisite dark-wood cabinet.



After running most of the way back from the dockyard, the wet cloth felt good against her skin, especially on her neck and back where her thick braid had been pressed against her by her uniform coat.



With the maid’s assistance, she soon stood before the mirror where Midshipman Charles Lott had been reflected less than an hour ago, now looking upon a fashionable young lady. Fear that she wouldn’t be able to pull off her plan swirled in her stomach, but she pushed it aside.



“The irons are ready, miss.”



Charlotte sat at the dressing table, sipped the coffee which had been delivered while she dressed, and reviewed her plans for the next eight days as the maid twisted and twirled and pinned her hair.



Anticipation, anxiety, and excitement danced within her veins. In just over a week, she would leave Portsmouth on a grand adventure. A grand adventure that would culminate in arriving in Jamaica, being reunited with Henry Winchester, and marrying him.





“Your new rank suits you, Commodore Ransome.”



William met Julia’s green eyes in the mirror’s reflection. Sitting in the middle of the bed in her white sleeping gown, her coppery hair cascading in riotous curls around her shoulders and back, she looked as young as when he’d made the gut-wrenching decision to walk away from her twelve years ago.



Now she was his wife. His knees quaked at the thought.



He returned to the examination of his new uniform coat, delivered from the tailor just this morning. “I am indebted to your father for arranging the promotion. There are many officers more deserving. All will say I received special favor because I am now his son-in-law.”



“As you should know by now,” Julia said, climbing off the bed and crossing to her dressing table, “my father does nothing unless he thinks it best for the Royal Navy.” Drawing her hairbrush through her fountain of hair, she ambled across the colorful carpet toward him. “He secured your promotion before he knew of our engagement, so that did not have any bearing on his decision.” She pulled the mass of her hair over her left shoulder and continued pulling the soft bristles of the brush through it. “And when have you ever worried about rumors going around about your being favored by my father?” A mischievous grin quirked the corners of her full lips. “Isn’t worrying about rumors and gossip what got us here in the first place?”



The fact she’d forgiven him, that she could now joke about the past, both thrilled and humbled him. He did not deserve her.



She set the brush down and came to stand behind him, looking around him at the reflection. She ran her hand along his sleeve to the braid-laden cuff. His arm tingled in reaction. He did not want to respond to her like this—every time she spoke, moved, breathed, he lost track of everything but her. He had to conquer it; otherwise, her presence aboard ship would be detrimental to his command.



A knock on the door roused both of them. The maid Lady Dalrymple had assigned to Julia entered on Julia’s entreaty.



“I will leave you.” William inclined his head and made for the door, and then he stopped as soon as he reached it. He turned and smiled at her. “Do not be long.”



“I will join you for breakfast shortly.”



He stood in the hallway a few moments after the door closed, separating him from Julia for the first time since their wedding yesterday morning. Pleasure and regret battled within him. Marrying Julia Witherington had, in less than twenty-four hours, brought him more joy than he could ever have dreamed or deserved. Yet when he thought of his duty, of his commitment to the Royal Navy, to king and country, he couldn’t help but fear he’d made his life more difficult by marrying at such a time.



The east wing of the manor house at Brampton Park, home to Lady Dalrymple, rang with emptiness. While William appreciated the privacy afforded them by the dowager viscountess’s invitation to stay in the unused section for their wedding night—with hints she would like them to stay even longer—the grandeur of it made his skin crawl, and he could not wait until he could deposit Julia at her father’s house and return to his ship.



After two wrong turns, he managed to find the small breakfast room, unused for nearly a century according to Lady Dalrymple, since the new wing and the much larger dining room had been completed.



The small room, paneled with dark wood, set him somewhat more at ease. By ignoring the narrow, tall windows, he could almost imagine himself aboard a ship in this room.



He paced, waiting for Julia, pondering how he could recover his good sense around her. When she entered the room a little while later—queenly in a purple dress, her hair the only crown she would ever need—he realized the only way he would be able to regain control of his mind would be to limit his contact with her.



Trying not to watch her serve eggs, sausage, and toast onto her plate, nor admire the curve of her neck above the lace set into the neck of her gown, William piled food onto his own plate, held Julia’s chair for her, and then took his place at the head of the small table.



“I must return to my ship today.”



Julia stirred sugar into her coffee. “Of course. I knew you would need to spend your days preparing Alexandra for the voyage.”



He cleared his throat of the bite of egg that wished to lodge there. “What I mean is that I must return to reside aboard my ship.”



Julia’s spoon clanked against her cup. Her face paled, and the light which had danced in her eyes all morning vanished.



William’s innards clenched. Perhaps he should have eased into the idea instead of blurting it out. He blamed it on her. He could not think clearly in her presence.



“Have…have you received word from your crew that there is trouble?” Her voice quavered.



“No. It is nothing like that.” Unable to stop himself, he reached across the corner of the table and took her hand in his. “My duty is to my ship, to my crew. I am needed there. Here, my attentions and loyalty are divided.”



For a brief moment, Julia’s chin quivered. But she pressed her lips together and drew in a deep breath. “I understand. And I have no desire to draw you away from your duties. I have already created too much inconvenience and upheaval in your life. I do not wish to generate more. However, I have promised Lady Dalrymple we would join her tonight for her dinner and card party as her honored guests. If we were to abdicate from her hospitality today, how would that reflect on her?”



Though well masked, the pain in Julia’s expression made William want to retract his words, to promise her he would stay here with her the remainder of the time they had in England. Any other woman would have been offended by his blundering, unreasonable demand. Julia apologized for inconveniencing him.



He raised her hand and kissed the back of it. “Aye. We will stay one more night.” Then, giving in to impulse, he leaned over, cupped that quivering chin, and claimed her lips in a searing kiss. “And I will not have you thinking yourself an inconvenience to me.”



His action resulted in the desired effect—the spark rekindled in her green eyes. She ran her finger along his jaw. “You lie too well, Commodore Ransome.”



“You start off our marriage ill, Mrs. Ransome, if you believe I would ever lie to you.” He squeezed her hand and then tucked in to his breakfast.



“Conceal the hard truth, then,” she said, cocking her head and sending the spiral curls at her temples dancing, “for the last few days have not been a convenience to you.”



“An upheaval, certainly.” He feigned a close interest in the piece of sausage speared on his fork. “However, any inconvenience I have suffered has been more than adequately recompensed not just by gaining a wife, but by finally receiving the complete approbation of my admiral.”



Julia’s gasp preceded a gale of laughter.



A surge of contentment washed away the morning’s anxieties. Perhaps being married would not interfere with his duty to the navy as severely as he’d feared.

Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You In Golden, New Mexico
Summerside Press (May 1, 2010)

by

Lena Nelson Dooley



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For several years, Lena worked on the support staff of a church, but in November of 2002, God changed things so that she could stay home and write full-time. It has been the desire of her heart for a long time. In Proverbs 37:4, it says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” She believes that this blessing is a result of her delighting herself in Him, and she praises Him for the opportunity.

She have been a professional writer with a free-lance writing and editing business since 1984. In that time, she has written curriculum for public schools, private schools, and three different denominations. For one company, I managed a writing team that produced a two-year American History course for at-risk students. One of her clients was a Christian comedian for whom she wrote several routines. An airline training company had her edit and design International business reports for them.

Her first novel was published by Heartsong Presents in 1992. Since then Lena Nelson Dooley has written more than 25 works of fiction and nonfiction.

Lena has been married to her husband James since 1964. Theirs was one of those love-at-first-sight relationships. They were married three months and three days after they met. He truly was God’s gift to her. They are absolute opposites, but that means that his strengths are her weaknesses, and her strengths are his weaknesses. Together they make a more perfect whole. She believe that is what God intends for all of us.

They have two daughters. Marilyn Van Zant is married to Roger, and they have a son named Timothy. Tim is now in Tennessee at Ft. Campbell. His son Sebastian is almost 2 years old. Jennifer Waldron is married to Eric, and they have three children—Austin, Marissa, and Amanda. James and Lena love to spend time with their family, and they are blessed that both families live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, so they see them often.

ABOUT THE BOOK

All that glitters is not gold. It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah.

Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her character beyond redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You In Golden, New Mexico, go HERE.

"Love Finds You In Golden, New Mexico is a well-researched novel brimming With emotive conflict. Lena Nelson Dooley has crafted a historical romance that demonstrates that courage comes in many forms, but the courage to love is the most difficult of all.

─DiAnn Mills, author of Sworn to Protect and A Woman Called Sage

“Two strangers are presented with a ‘golden’ opportunity for love in this quintessential East meets West tale by well-loved author Lena Nelson Dooley. I found myself swept away by the beautiful writing and enmeshed in the lives of the players, who face many twists and turns in their journey toward the ultimate happily-ever-after. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico is truly one of the loveliest historical romances I’ve read in ages. Highly recommended.”

─Janice Hanna Thompson, author of Love Me Tender and Swinging on a Star

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James

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:





and the book:



Love on a Dime

Thomas Nelson (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Katie Bond of Thomas Nelson for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:






Cara Lynn James is a debut writer who has received numerous contest awards from Romance Writers of America chapters and the American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in northwest Florida with her husband Jim. They have two grown children, Justin and Alicia; a grandson, Damian; and Papillion named Sparky.





Visit the author's website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
















Prologue



N e w Y o r k C i t y , M ay 1 8 9 3



Jack slowed his pace, his courage once more waning at



the sight of the Westbrook home across the way. Anxiety



twisted his stomach in a knot. But in the dusky light,



Lilly’s glow of confidence reignited his own flame. She



understood her parents far better than he did. Since she believed her father



would agree to the marriage, why should he hesitate?



Arm-in-arm they strolled across the road. Among the row of



fine brick townhouses facing them, the Westbrook house stood



three stories tall like all the rest, with long, paned windows overlooking



Washington Park.



Mr. Ames, the ancient butler, opened the front door. Jack and



Lilly entered the dimly lit foyer.



“Where is my father this evening?” Lilly asked the butler.



“In the back parlor, miss.”



“Shall I go with you, Jack?”



“No,” he whispered, squeezing her hand, “I’d rather do this



on my own. Say a prayer all will go well.”



Jack strode toward the parlor, determined to plead his case.



Every nerve ending in his body fired with life—and more than



a few with apprehension. He’d calm himself and then ask Mr.



Westbrook for Lilly’s hand in a respectful tone, solicitous, but



not fawning. He’d restrain his usual brash attitude and hope Mr.



Westbrook would consent to a marriage most would deem unsuitable.



If he weighed the odds of success, he wouldn’t even try.



Jack inhaled a steadying breath and increased his pace down



the narrow hallway leading to the back of the house. Gas sconces



threw a pale light along the Persian runner that muffled his footsteps



to a soft shuffle. The house lay silent except for the noise of



a sledge hammer beating against his chest.



Lord, I need a large dose of Your strength. Don’t allow me to cower.



I’ve never been a quitter and I don’t want to start now.



He hadn’t asked God for much in the past, but this was too



important to rely on his own untested powers.



Jack paused before he came to the door of the back parlor,



straightened his bow tie, and squared his shoulders. Voices stopped



him before he moved forward. He recognized Mrs. Westbrook’s



high, girlish tone. He’d wait for a lull in the conversation, excuse



his entry, and then ask to speak to Mr. Westbrook. Jack waited for



several minutes before he heard his name.



“Thomas, I noticed Jackson Grail seems especially fond of



Lilly. You don’t suppose he wants to marry her, do you?”



Jack winced at the worry in her voice. With his back to the



wall he stepped closer to the parlor.



Mr. Westbrook chuckled. “No, my dear, he’s George ’s friend,



not Lilly’s. She ’s hardly more than a child.”



“For goodness’ sake. Lilly’s nineteen, certainly old enough to



catch the eye of a young man.”



“All right, she ’s not my little girl anymore. But ready for marriage?



No, Nessie, I don’t believe so. She has lots of time to choose



a mate. There ’s no rush.”



“Hmm. I wouldn’t want her to delay too long. I’ve given considerable



thought to her future.”



“I’m sure you have,” Mr. Westbrook murmured. Jack pictured



his wry smile.



“Well, it’s my duty as her mother to guide her. Oliver Cross



or Pelham Mills come to mind as possible suitors. Maybe Harlan



Santerre. He’s such a polite young man and his mother and I have



been friends since childhood. Yes, he’s most definitely my first



choice.”



Jack let out the breath he’d been holding, knowing he should



break away, cease his eavesdropping—



“They’re all acceptable to me. But what about young Grail?



You say he might be interested in her. He’s got a good head on his



shoulders.”



“But no money in his pocket. Need I say more?”



Jack frowned and tried to swallow, but his mouth was dry.



Mr. Westbrook sighed. “No, my dear. You’re absolutely right.



He’s not suitable, though I do like him.”



“I do as well. And now he’s as finely educated as our own



George. But he would have to strike it rich quickly in order to court



Lilly,” Mrs. Westbrook added. “And that’s highly unlikely.”



“Nearly impossible, I’m afraid. So I hope you’re wrong and



young Grail hasn’t set his heart on Lilly.” Her father sighed. “He’s



an intelligent boy. I’m sure he’d know better. Especially when she



has an ambitious mama anxious to make her the perfect match.”



Mrs. Westbrook laughed. “Thomas, do stop your teasing.”



Jack bumped his shoulder against the curlicues of a large gilt



picture frame. Turning to give it a hard shove, he stopped himself.



He wouldn’t let his temper get the better of him. Leaving the oil



painting crooked, he stumbled down the patterned runner, away



from the awful voices. When he came to the foyer he dropped into



a rosewood chair and ignored the curious stare from Mr. Ames.



Jack buried his head in his hands and tried to gather his wits



before he had to face Lilly. But the Westbrooks’ conversation



resounded through his mind. Poor. Unsuitable. Why had he ever



thought they’d accept him as a son-in-law? His love for Lilly had



banished all reason. He’d lived in a fog of hope these last several



months, but now it cleared.



At the sound of light footsteps he looked up. “What did Papa



say?” Lilly asked, grasping his hands.



He glanced at her without speaking and then saw his own



anguish reflected in her eyes. He so wished his answer could bring



her joy. She gently pulled him into the dimly lit sitting room. The



sheers and heavy velvet curtains blocked all but the final rays of



daylight from seeping through the windows overlooking the park.



They faced each other in front of the unlit marble fireplace, his arms



tight around her slim waist, her hands lightly touching his vest.



“Tell me,” she said in a rasping voice, barely audible.



“I never had the chance to ask, Lilly. When I got to the back



parlor your parents were already discussing appropriate husbands.



And my name wasn’t on the list.”



“That’s because they don’t know we love each other. Papa



has never refused me anything. It might take some persuasion, but



you can do it. We can approach him together.”



Lovely, pampered Lilly, who owned her father’s heart—



except when it came to marriage partners. And marriage among



the rich was certainly a business transaction. Their kind never



married Jack’s kind. He’d gone to St. Luke ’s and Yale with the



wealthy, but as a scholarship student, he didn’t belong to their set



no matter how hard he tried to fit in. Maybe he would’ve accepted



the impenetrable barrier if Lilly hadn’t swept into his life.



He gazed at her, drinking in her passion, memorizing her



large, expressive eyes and flawless skin, her tall, slender form and



thick brown hair framing her face.



Her eyes blazed like blue fire. “Come. We ’ll speak to Papa.



Right now.”



Jack caught her wrists. “No, I can’t. I’m so sorry. He won’t change



his mind. It’s pointless to even ask.” Save me the humiliation.



Her strangled cry pierced his heart. “You won’t even try? We



love each other. Isn’t that worth fighting for?” Lilly’s voice rose



with disbelief.



How could he explain he couldn’t abide her father’s rejection?



He refused to hear again that he wasn’t good enough to court



Lilly—once was enough. And he didn’t want her to elope with



him without her parents’ approval. Jack groaned. As much as he



adored Lilly, he wasn’t acceptable to the family. The daughter of



a prosperous banker, Lilly couldn’t marry a man without a family



fortune.



“We can marry without their consent. You’ll find a good job.



I know you will. Don’t you see, Jack, we don’t need my parents’



permission.”



“But I want their respect.” And he’d never gain their esteem



by stealing their daughter away. He turned from her, running a



hand through his hair. He ’d been fooling himself. How could



he provide for Lilly, care for her in a manner in which she was



accustomed? What could he promise her? A one room apartment



in a dingy part of town while he made his way in the world,



if he ever made it at all. How long before his beautiful, young



and idealistic bride would realize she ’d sacrificed too much for



an improbable dream? He ’d harm her if he stole her from her



family.



He glanced at her and could see in her face the stubborn, naïve



hope that lingered there. But he understood reality as she never



would. He ’d let his love blossom before he should have.



Jack slowly moved away, steeling himself for the hurt yet



to come. “Your parents are right. I’m in no position to marry. I



should never have proposed, because I have nothing to offer.”



Lilly rushed to him and flung her arms around his neck, tears



spilling down her cheeks. “What about our love? Why do you



need more than that?”



“Lilly, we can’t exist on dreams. I have to earn a living. And I



can’t support you on a clerk’s salary. You’d miss your old life.”



Her lovely, soft features hardened. “You must think my love



is too weak to withstand hardship. It’s strong enough to survive



anything. Why do you doubt me so?”



Jack shook his head. “I doubt myself, not you.” What if her



confidence in his abilities weren’t warranted? What if he never



rose above petty clerk, despite his fancy education? A girl from a



society family, proud and successful for generations, could never



be content washing laundry, cooking meals, and scrubbing floors



on her hands and knees. She ’d grow bitter and resentful.



“I can adapt to less. I don’t care about a beautiful home. I only



want you,” she said, her voice rising with frustration.



He wouldn’t argue about the effects of poverty and how it



wore on a person. She wouldn’t understand. “If we came from



the same background, I wouldn’t hesitate to speak to your father.



But we didn’t.”



“But you will. I know it. I’ll wait until you feel ready to marry



me. There’s no hurry. I’m patient. I can wait forever.” She pleaded



with beautiful eyes glistening with tears.



“No, please don’t wait for me.” Jack’s voice cracked like ice.



He wanted her to wait, but he couldn’t ruin her chances of



making a suitable, maybe even a happy marriage. The odds of



succeeding in the business world without connections were small.



If and when he’d proven himself, he’d return and hope she ’d still



want him. And forgive him. But he couldn’t ask her to wait.



He blotted her tears with his handkerchief, but they kept



streaming down her face. Her slender shoulders heaved with soft



sobs. He kissed her again gently and then retreated to his bedroom



before he was tempted to crush her in his arms and beg her to



elope. He’d planned to stay for the week as George ’s guest, but



now he needed to leave quickly.



Within ten minutes he was gone.



Jack’s heart slammed against his ribs. The past two weeks had



been a misery. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. Go back, go back!



his mind and heart screamed. You’ve made a terrible mistake!



His stomach roiling, Jack fought to keep a dignified pace and



not run all the way to Washington Square. At last, he stood before



the Westbrook home and tapped the front door knocker against



the heavy wood.



He’d explain he couldn’t manage without her and his infernal



pride had blocked his common sense and their tender love. Would



she accept his apology? They’d work something out. He didn’t



know how exactly, but they would. He knew their union was sanctioned,



indeed designed, by God.



Mr. Ames pulled the heavy door open. “May I help you, sir?”



“Yes. Is Miss Westbrook at home?”



The hunched-over butler shook his head. “They’ve all gone



abroad. They sailed yesterday.”



Jack’s cautious optimism collapsed in a heap of despair. “And



when will they return?”



“Next spring.”



Next spring. Jack groaned. “G-Good day,” he mumbled, turning



from the door.



I’m too late. I’ve lost her.





On e



N e w p o rt , R h o d e I s l a n d — J u ly 1 8 9 9



Six years later



With a deep sigh of satisfaction, Lilly Westbrook



whipped the last page of her manuscript out of



the Underwood typewriter. Carefully she shredded



the carbon and threw the messy strips into the wastebasket. No



meddlesome



maid could possibly reconstruct her work and tattle



to Mama.



For a moment, a wave of sadness overshadowed the pleasure



she felt at finishing another story. How she longed to share her



secret with her mother, but as much as Lilly hated deception, she



knew Mama would never understand. Mama was proud of her for



dabbling in poetry, but this?



No. It was best to stay behind closed doors to write her dime



novels.



Lilly shuddered to think of the disgrace she ’d bring upon herself



and, even worse, upon her family, if her secret was revealed.



The very notion of social ostracism weakened her knees and left



her legs wobbly. A twinge of guilt pinched her conscience as it



often did when she considered her concealment. Yet why look for



trouble when her work was progressing so well?





Lilly scrubbed her hands until all evidence of the carbon paper



and inky ribbon disappeared into the washbasin near her bed, then



covered the typewriter Mama had given her as a birthday gift a



few years before. Mama thought a typing machine unnecessary



for a poet, but she wasn’t one to begrudge her children anything



within reason.



Lilly withdrew a letter from her skirt pocket and smiled as she



re-read the last lines.



My dear Lilly,



I want to again express my thanks for all you’ve contributed to



the Christian Settlement House of New York. We so value the time



and effort you have devoted to assisting our young ladies with their



sundry life skills and English fluency. Your exceptional generosity



and financial support have enabled us to continue our work in accordance



with the Lord’s purposes.



Sincerely,



Phoebe Diller, Director



Miss Diller’s kind words sent a rush of warmth to Lilly’s heart



and strengthened her resolve to continue writing. For without the



profits from her novels, she couldn’t afford to donate more than



a few dollars to her favorite charity. How could she possibly quit



writing when her romance novels provided so many blessings to



others?



Lilly locked the final chapter in the rolltop desk by the bay



window and hid the key beneath the lining of her keepsake box.



Time for a well-deserved walk by the sea. She removed her reading



spectacles and placed her straw hat decorated with bright



poppies squarely on top of her upswept hair. After a last furtive



glance toward the desk, she left her bedroom to the morning sunshine



that splashed across the shiny oak floor and floral carpet.





All the way down the staircase she congratulated herself for



typing “The End” of her story, though it was only a few days



before deadline. That was much too close for comfort. She sighed.



Too many social events had disrupted her normal writing routine



this summer. But she had no choice but to force a smile and



attend the functions, even though most of them bored her to



distraction.



She wouldn’t think of that now. At least she’d finished the manuscript



before the deadline and for that she’d treat herself to a few



minutes out of her room. With a light heart, she strolled through



the deserted foyer, past Mr. Ames, the butler, and out the front



door. A beautiful day greeted her with its sun-blessed smile.



As she crossed the veranda, her sister-in-law Irene Westbrook,



seated at the end of the porch, peered over a small, familiar book.



The lurid cover of Lilly’s latest novel, Dorothea’s Dilemma,



popped out in garish color. Lilly stopped short and pressed her



palm over her gyrating heart.



“Oh my,” she murmured. She’d never expected to see one of



her novels in her own home, let alone in the hands of her brother’s



wife.



Irene smoothed her halo of silky blonde curls caught up in a



loose pompadour. She laid the slim paperback on her lap, her eyes



gleaming with curiosity. “Why hello, Lilly. Where have you been



on this beautiful afternoon? Cooped up in your bedroom again?



My goodness, what do you do in there all day?”



“Sometimes I enjoy a few hours of solitude.” Lilly’s nerves



seized control of her voice and it rose like the screech of a seagull.



“I’m sorry I interrupted your reading.” Heat crept into her skin as



Irene watched her, face aglow with interest.



“Do sit down, Lilly.”



She slipped into a wicker chair opposite Irene. A gust of



salty air, typical of Newport’s summer weather, blew in from the



Atlantic and brushed its cool breath across her cheeks. She prayed



it would fade the red splotches that came so easily when embarrassment



struck.



Irene cocked her head. “Is something wrong? You look positively



ill.”



“No, I’m fine.” Though every fiber of her body continued to



quiver, Lilly steadied her breathing. She folded her hands in the



lap of her charcoal-gray skirt and willed them not to shake.



“You aren’t shocked by my novel, are you?” Irene smirked.



“Of course not.” Lilly squirmed around on the soft chintz



cushion and avoided Irene ’s skeptical stare. “Why should I be



shocked?”



Irene leaned forward. “Some people claim dime novels are



trash, and from your reaction I thought you might be one of those



faultfinders. Of course they’re wrong. These books are filled with



adventure and I love adventure.” She rolled the last word around



her tongue like a stream of honey.



Irene, the niece of Quentin Kirby, one of San Francisco’s



silver kings, fancied herself an adventuress, but Lilly inwardly



disagreed. Irene merely appreciated fun and frivolity more than



most. That hardly made her a woman like the heroines of Lilly’s



books. “I’m so sorry, Irene. I didn’t mean to criticize your choice



of books. I just wondered where you obtained your copy.”



“I discovered it in the kitchen while I was searching for a



blueberry tart.” Irene grinned as if Lilly ought to admire her



cleverness.



“One of the scullery maids must have left it there.”



“You took it without asking permission?” Lilly could scarcely



believe Irene had wandered downstairs to the basement kitchen,



the domain of servants who strongly disapproved of visitors,



even the family.



“Why yes. Well no, not exactly. I borrowed it. As soon as I finish



reading, I’ll give it back. Of course.”



Irene tapped the big, red letters spelling out the author’s name



across the cover. “Fannie Cole. She’s a splendid writer, the very



best. Have you ever read any of her books? I devour them like



chocolate.”



Lilly’s heart lurched. “Naturally I’ve heard of her. I believe



her stories are rather popular.”



“They’re enthralling.”



At the sound of the front door squeaking open, Lilly looked



away with relief.



Mama bustled onto the veranda, a frown knitting her eyebrows.



“What’s that about Fannie Cole? She’s quite infamous, I



hear.” Glancing from Lilly to Irene, Mama’s eyelashes fluttered, a



sure sign of agitation. “Oh, I see you have one of her books . . .”



Lilly knew her mother couldn’t let this breach of propriety



pass without comment. On the other hand, the kind and ever



tactful Vanessa Westbrook would hate to offend her new daughter-in-



law.



“Mama, Fannie Cole writes harmless fiction. You needn’t



worry.” Lilly smiled her assurance, hoping she’d veer off to



another topic.



Her mother sunk into a wicker chair beside Irene. “Perhaps,



my dear, but you must admit, there are so many more uplifting



novels.” She patted Irene ’s arm, which was robed in a cream silk



blouse that matched the lace of her skirt. “Lillian is a poet, you



know. Her work is delightful. You must read it. I’ll go fetch you



a copy.”



Lilly cringed. “No, Mama. I wrote those poems years ago. She



wouldn’t be interested in the meanderings of an eighteen-yearold



ninny. It’s sentimental tripe.”



“Nonsense, my dear. You’ve always been much too critical of



yourself.”



“Nevertheless, I’m sure Irene would prefer Fannie Cole.”



Who wouldn’t? Lilly thought. Still, she appreciated her mother’s



enthusiasm for her meager literary efforts.



Irene tossed her a wide, grateful smile. “There, that’s settled.”



Mama’s round, girlish face tightened with distaste. “I wish



you wouldn’t read dime novels because . . .” She looked toward



Lilly for support.



“Really, Mama.” Lilly softened her voice, not meaning to



scold. “While some of the dime novels are sensational, others are



written to help working girls avoid the pitfalls of city life. They’re



moralistic tales that encourage virtue. Nothing to be ashamed of



reading.” Or writing.



“Exactly.” Irene beamed. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.



Of course, I read for the story, not the moral lesson, but I’m sure



it’s beneficial for those who enjoy a good sermon.”



Lilly suppressed a sigh of resignation. “No doubt Miss Cole



hopes and prays her words touch the hearts of her readers and



bring them closer to the Lord.” Lilly looked at Mama and Irene,



hoping they’d somehow understand her purpose and approve.



But both looked puzzled over her words.



Irene ’s gaze narrowed. “An odd way to spread the gospel,



don’t you think?”



“Not at all. The Lord is more creative than we are.” Lilly



bristled and then glanced away when she found her mother and



sister-in-law still staring at her.



She’d spoken up much more forcefully than she intended.



With a sinking heart, Lilly realized Mama would never accept her



viewpoint; it flew in the face of beliefs and opinions ingrained



since childhood.



Irene picked up a sheet of paper resting on a small table between



two pots of ferns and waved it like a flag on the Fourth of July. Lilly



immediately recognized Talk of the Town, a gossip rag published



by that scandalmonger, Colonel MacIntyre, the bane of Newport



society. He shot fear into the hearts of all upstanding people and



others who weren’t quite so virtuous. Lilly swallowed hard.



Mama gasped. Her pale skin whitened. “Oh my dear, that’s



hardly appropriate for a respectable home.”



Irene shrugged. “Perhaps not. But if you don’t mind my saying



so, it’s great fun to read. I’m learning the crème de la crème



of Newport are up to all kinds of mischief.” She laughed with



pleasure.



“Listen to this.” Irene leaned forward. “One hears that Miss



Fannie Cole, author of wildly popular dime novels, has taken up residence



at one of the ocean villas for the season. The talk about town



claims this writer of sensational—some might even say salacious—



stories, belongs to the New York and Newport aristocracy. Which of our



fine debutantes or matrons writes under the nom de plume, Fannie Cole?



Speculation runs rampant. Would the talented but mysterious author of



Dorothea’s Dilemma, Hearts in Tune, and several other delectable



novels please come forward and identify herself for her public?”



Lilly’s throat closed. She clamped her hands down on her lap,



but they shook like a hummingbird’s wings. Had a maid or a footman



stumbled across her secret and sold the information? Colonel



Rufus MacIntyre of Talk of the Town paid handsomely for gossip.



No one was safe from his long, grasping tentacles, including some



of the most prominent people in society.



“The colonel has mentioned Miss Cole in his column for the



last two weeks, so I expect we’ll hear more about her during the



summer.” Irene grinned as she studied the sheet. “I wonder who



she is. I’d love to meet her.”



Mama’s mouth puckered into a small circle. “Undoubtedly



someone from the wrong side of the tracks. No one we’d know.”



She punctuated her words with a firm nod.



Irene persisted. “You must have an idea, Lilly. You seem to



know everything that’s going on in society.”



Lilly turned away, sure that a red stain had again spilled across



her pale skin. Her sister-in-law was right. She did listen to all the



tittle-tattle, but she prided herself on her discretion. The foibles



of her set provided grist for her novels, not for spreading rumors



and innuendo.



“You give me far too much credit, Irene.” She hated to dodge



questions to keep from lying, but what was her option short of



confessing? She twisted the cameo at the neck of her tailored



shirtwaist.



Mama wagged her finger. “Mark my words. By the end of



the summer someone will discover Fannie Cole’s true name and



announce it to the entire town. Oh, my. What humiliation she ’ll



bring upon her family. They’ll be mortified.”



“How delicious,” Irene murmured.



Lilly groaned inwardly. Her subterfuge gnawed at her conscience,



worsening day by day, but she couldn’t turn back the



clock and reconsider her decision to write in secret.



She rose. “Will you excuse me? I need to take my walk now.”



With her head held high and as much poise as she could muster,



Lilly descended the veranda’s shallow steps. She strode across



the wide, sloping lawn that surrounded Summerhill, the old



twenty-two-room mansion the Westbrooks rented for the season.



Once she reached the giant rocks that separated the grounds



from the ocean, she picked her way over to a smooth boulder that



doubled for a bench. As she ’d done every day since her arrival



three weeks ago, Lilly settled onto its cold surface. Instead of



watching the breakers pound against the coast and absorb the majesty



of nature ’s rhythm, she rested her head in her hands and let



the breeze brush against her face.



What would happen if her beau, Harlan Santerre, discovered



that she and Fannie Cole were the same person? The wealthy railroad



heir, a guest of the family for the eight weeks of summer,



miraculously seemed ripe to propose. Her mother kept reminding



her how grateful she should be that such a solid, upstanding man



as Harlan Santerre had shown interest in a twenty-five-year-old



spinster with no grand fortune and no great beauty. Mama and the



entire family would be humiliated if her writing became public



knowledge and Harlan turned his attention elsewhere.



Yet the Holy Ghost had urged her to compose her simple stories,



and as she wrote, her melancholy gradually faded. Her enthusiasm



never waned thanks to the joy she received from doing the Lord’s



work.



Why would He allow someone to ruin her and end the good



deeds she accomplished? He should smite her enemies instead. All



her life she ’d trusted the Lord to guide her and protect her, but



never had she needed His help more than now. But would He continue



to shield her?



Trembling, Lilly tossed a stone into the roiling surf and



watched it sink into the foamy white waves. What if the surge



of curiosity aroused by Colonel MacIntyre didn’t fade away and



everything she held dear was threatened?