Monday, January 31, 2011

A Long Walk Home - But a Short Hop to a Giveaway! - Updated with Winner!


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Timestamp: 2011-02-07 02:54:55 UTC

Congrats to Barbara H! I guess thought a Barbara should win the books written by a Barbara! Email me your address, and once UPS gets the books here (they got delayed by the snowstorms), I"ll have "my Barbara" autograph them and they'll be on their way to you!

If anyone is interested in ordering Barbara Andrews' first book A Walk in the Park directly from her rather than from the publisher, just email me!
* * * * *

2/1/2011 - Updated to add: It may be a little difficult to find the first of Barbara Andrews' books, A Walk in the Park, without ordering directly from the publisher. However, Barbara tells me she does still have a personal supply available for sale. If you live in the USA and are interested in purchasing one of these books, please let me know and I will take care of mailing it to you.

* * * * *

It's been a thrill to meet several authors in person. But even more exciting is having a friend I've known since my college days become a published author!

I first met Barbara Andrews before a few of you were even born a number of years ago when we were in college and singing in our church's college choir together. She married and moved to Ft. Worth while her husband attended seminary to become a music minister. Our paths crossed a few times when they returned to this area, and what a joy it was a little more than seven years ago when God led us to the church where they now serve.

One of the new things I discovered when we reconnected was that Barbara has a passion for writing within her! Long before I even dreamed I would blog or review books, I eagerly anticipated the complettion of her first novel, which was published early in 2007. The joy of its release was greatly diminished however, by a personal tragedy within Barbara's family, the sudden and tragic loss of her daughter and son-in-law, which occurred just weeks before the book's release.

That first book, A Walk in the Park is one of the most tender books I have read. It is a beautiful story of love and loss, and only God in His sovereignty knew the greater meaning the book would have on the heels of such unimaginable heartache. It is still available here.

As Barbara and her family walked the road of grief and healing--and I can unequivocally state that, though they still fiercely miss their beautiful girl, they are amazing testimonies to God's grace, strength, and comfort absolutely shining through them--she put down her pen for awhile. Eventually, with prodding and encouragement from family and friends, she wrote the second book in The Sand Dollar Series. A Long Walk Home has just been released and Barbara gave me a copy and asked if I would read it, give her my honest opinion, and review it on my blog. She didn't have to ask twice, but I secretly wondered if the second book would impact me as much as the first since it didn't have the emotional connection.

Well. Not to worry. I think I called Barbara when I was on page 30 or so to tell her how much I loved not only the story, but the way it was written. Barbara is a master with words. Like an artist holding a palette of simple reds and greens and blues, she takes very ordinary words, mixes them together, and with a skilled hand spreads them across the page until the scene is rich and vibrant without being overdone or exaggerated. And the story itself will tug at your heart. This would be a great book to share with an unbelieving friend, as Berdine is completely disinterested in anything remotely connected to church but finds herself increasingly dissatisfied with the emptiness within her. The gospel is clearly presented within this story, yet it is not heavy-handed or preachy.

You don't have to read the first book to enjoy the second one; A Long Walk Home is somewhat of a prequel as it portrays the early life of a secondary character in A Walk in the Park. But of course, I recommend that you read them both! I can't wait to see which direction the third novel takes.

Here is the summary of A Long Walk Home, a little bit more about Barbara, and a very special giveaway!

A Long Walk Home
Barbara Andrews
(Tate Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1616633479
November, 2010/252 pages/$15.99

Set in the idyllic 1950s, A Long Walk Home features Berdine Williams, a tomboy always ready for an adventure with her close friend Michael. As time passes, their differences pull them apart. Michael has a difficult home life and often gets into trouble. Berdine's family doesn't want her getting involved. As Berdine grows into a young woman, she becomes convinced that Michael is meant for her. But when Berdine stands up to a bully on Michael's behalf, Michael walks away without a word to her. And when she goes to his house to apologize, she learns that he's moved to the home of his aunt and drill sergeant uncle on Parris Island.

Author Barbara Andrews delves into the life of a younger Berdine, who is featured in Andrews's first novel, A Walk in the Park. As secrets unfold, Berdine closes herself off from her parents and sister, Kathryn, who don't understand her pain. Years later Michael and Berdine are brought together by a chance meeting, and Berdine sees a solemn recruit who gazes at her with coldness. Will time heal old wounds, or will past misunderstandings keep them apart? Follow the ups and downs of this tumultuous love as Berdine pursues her dreams and Michael takes A Long Walk Home.

Barbara Andrews works as an assistant to the discipleship pastor and youth pastor at a church in Austin, Texas, where she is also active in youth and music ministries. She and her husband, Damon, have a daughter, who is now with Jesus, and two sons. When not involved in writing or church activities, Barbara enjoys watching sports, especially when the sporting events involve one of her sons, Dustin or Parker.

If you live in central Texas, you can meet Barbara at a book-signing at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock in early March. Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the information.

I have purchased both of these books to give away right here to one of you, and Barbara has graciously agreed to autograph them before I mail them to you! To enter, leave a comment on this post no later than 8:00 pm CDT Sunday (2/6/11) and I will choose a winner using the random number generator. US Residents only, please, and you must include an email address if you don't have a blog. Receive additional entries by telling me you posted about the giveaway on your blog, FB, Twitter, or told a friend via email, and commenting with the link (or copying me on the email. My email address is in the sidebar just below my profile.)


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Author Leisha Kelly Passes Away

I received the following press release in my email this morning from Revell Publishing. Leisha Kelly most recent book was The House on Malcolm Street, which I reviewed here.

Author Leisha Kelly Passes Away

Grand Rapids, MI – Leisha Kelly, 47, was killed in car accident Tuesday night (January 25th) near Fowler, Illinois. Her son, 16-year-old Justice, was also killed in the crash. Kelly, a resident of nearby Clayton, Illinois, was the author of 11 books, among them a best-selling inspirational historical fiction series centered around the Wortham and Hammond families, set in Southern Illinois. Her most recent book, The House on Malcolm Street, was published by Revell in September 2010.

Kelly leaves behind her husband K.J. and a daughter, Hosanna. Kelly home-schooled her two children and served as a children’s ministry director and a youth minister at her family’s church. The couple had also recently become foster parents.

Vicki Crumpton, Executive Editor for Revell, who worked with Kelly since her first book, Julia’s Hope, was published in 2001 said, “I remember receiving Leisha’s first proposal in 2001. I read what her agent sent and called him that day to ask to read more of the manuscript. When I presented the proposal to our publishing committee, the team read the proposal and a few sample chapters. The first thing people asked was, “When can we read the rest?” And every time we received a new proposal from Leisha, people always asked, “When can I read more?” Leisha’s fans felt the same way. They always wanted to know when her next book would be out.”

“Leisha Kelly was an amazing talent. More than that, she was an amazing person, loved by family, friends, and her fans. Her unique writing voice will be greatly missed,” Crumpton said.

Twila Bennett, Senior Director of Marketing for Revell, remembers a story Kelly told her once. “She had a vivid memory of one of her first writing experiences that has stayed with me after all this time. She was young, it was the year that Mount Saint Helens erupted and she had heard the news stories about how the ashes might fall on other states. She felt a story burning in her and went out to her front porch and wrote and wrote. And then, the ashes from Mount Saint Helens really did indeed begin falling on her paper like snow.”

“I keep seeing that young Leisha now and look in wonderment at this girl, who overcame so much and gained the world on Tuesday with her son at her side,” Bennett said.

Please pray for God's grace and comfort to enfold Kelly's husband and daughter in the days ahead.


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A Special Giveaway

I have an extra-special giveaway, but my girl had a ridiculous English project that she and a friend were consumed with this weekend, and I haven't had a chance to get it done yet. Hopefully, I'll get to it a little later today!


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Sunday, January 30, 2011

When Stars Collide

Stars Collide
Janice Thompson
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3345-2
January, 2011/336 pages/$14.99

Her future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades.

Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy don't just play two people who are secretly in love on a television sitcom--they are actually head over heels for each other in real life. When the lines between reality and TV land blur, they hope they can keep their relationship under wraps. But when Kat's grandmother, an eccentric star from Hollywood's golden age, mistakes their on-screen wedding proposal for the real deal, things begin to spiral out of control. Will their secret be front-page news in the tabloids? And can their budding romance survive the onslaught of paparazzi, wedding preparations, and misinformed family members?

From the soundstage to a Beverly Hills mansion to the gleaming Pacific Ocean, Stars Collide takes you on a roller-coaster tour of Hollywood, packing both comedic punch and tender emotion.

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson affords an inside look at TV land, drawing on her experiences as a screenwriter. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and lives in Texas.

When I pick up a Janice Thompson book, I know I am in for a delightful time! After writing the charming Weddings by Bella series (which was set almost in my back yard, in Galveston, Texas), now Janice plops her readers down backstage at a refreshingly wholesome reality TV show. I loved this glimpse of Tinseltown, juxtaposing the contemporary world of Kat and Scott with the bygone era of Kat's grandmother. Thompson does a wonderful job of interweaving the many emotions experienced by those within this novel. Kat's frustration and exasperation with her grandmother's increasing dementia and obsession with the non-existent real-life wedding battles with her fierce love for the woman who raised her from the age of seven and her fears about her grandmother's future once her Alzheimer's worsens. Candy, the spoiled little brat diva whose stage mom makes everyone's life miserable, annoys Kat to no end until a glimpse at the hurting heart underneath reminds Kat of her own feelings of abandonment which resulted from her father's desertion. This is just the first book in this Backstage Pass series, and I look forward to going behind the scenes in the next novel as well!

And you can read "the story behind the story," the reason Janice Thompson wrote Stars Collide--and learn about the screenplay she wrote with her dad that starred Matt Dillon--on her blog.

Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

TSMSS - Oldies but Goodies

Oh. My. Talk about a blast from the past. While looking for a song to share this week, I stumbled across a husband and wife team from the 1970's that I had forgotten all about, and what a pleasure it was to be refreshed with their beautiful music once again! Mark & Diane Yasuhara, simply known as The Hawaiians, were both born and raised in Hawaii and recorded 14 albums, singing across the USA and throughout the world in individual concerts as well as with The Billy Graham crusades. The album pictured on this first song is the one I had. They both have such trememndous voices and beautiful harmony. I absolutely love both of these songs and couldn't decide which one to choose, so I'm sharing both! Down From His Glory just makes my heart feel like it's going to burst with joy! And the second song, while quieter, is just as meaningful. You can "meet" Mark & Diane and hear them sing the well-known Hawaiian Wedding Song on their website Aloha Forever Weddings, where engaged couples can arrange for Mark to perform their wedding ceremony or vow renewal and for Mark & Diane (or just Mark) to sing. (Just out of curiosity, I browsed around a bit and was stunned at how inexpensive their packages are! I would have easily expected to see another digit before the decimal!)

But I digress. Enjoy this peek back to the 1970's!


Oh, how I love Him, how I adore Him,
My breath, my sunshine, my all in all,
The Great Creator became my Savior,
And all God's fullness dwelleth in Him!

Down from His glory, ever living story,
My God and Savior came and Jesus was His name
Born in a manger, to His own a stranger,
A man of sorrow, tears and agony

Oh, how I love Him, how I adore Him,
My breath, my sunshine, my all in all
The Great Creator became my Savior,
And all God's fullness dwelleth in Him!

Lyrics Source:

Be sure to visit Amy's for more songs!


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashback Friday - Olympic Fanfare

Did you and your family watch the Olympics when you were growing up? Which was your overall favorite - summer or winter? Which individual events were your favorites? Since blogging is international, which country did you cheer for? Have you ever been to an Olympics or known anyone who competed? What are some of the hallmark memories of the Olympics that you remember? Did the Olympics ever inspire you to take a certain sport (or practice more!)? Do you prefer watching them the old way when everything was delayed in the days before 24-hour cable and internet? Do you watch them more or less today than you did when you were growing up? What about the Special Olympics? Have you ever had any involvement with them?

I've always loved the Olympics. We watched them when I was growing up, but it wasn't anything like the media overload it is today! With no cable, only B&W TV, and just the three network stations, the availability was pretty limited. But we always watched the figure skating in the winter and the gymnastics in the summer, and certain memories stand out:

1972 Summer Olympics - I vaguely remember Olga Korbut and her pigtails and her amazing feats in gymnastics. I also remember watching cheering for Cathy Rigby and then being embarrassed as a teen that she was the person who advertised Stay-free pads! I remember absolutely nothing about the Munich Massacre that occurred during the second week of the Olympics, mostly because if it had to do with news, I tuned it out when I was eleven years old!
Dorothy Hamill
(Google Images)
1976 Winter Olympics - Dorothy Hamill was the figure skating darling, and after she won the Gold Medal, every little girl (and some big ones!) wanted a wedge haircut just like hers!
1976 Summer Olympics - Nadia Comaneci scoring the first perfect 10 ever in gymnastics. She was such a little pixie!
1980 - I don't think I watched any of the Winter Games; I was a college freshman and lived in the dorm and I didn't have a TV in my room. And of course the 1980 Summer Olympics were boycotted.
1984 Winter Olympics - So many great skaters! The men had the fierce competition between Scott Hamilton and "the Brians" (Brian Boitano and Brian Orser). Katarina Witt from E. Germany won the Women's Gold. Kitty & Peter Carruthers from the US won silver in pairs, and then there were Torvill & Dean.
1984 Summer Olympics - OH.MY. I LOVED these! These were the ones in Los Angeles, so the time zone made them so much easier to watch. I had been out of college just over a year and was working as an RN on the night (11 PM - 7 AM) shift at the hospital. As soon as I got up in the afternoons, generally around 3:00-3:30, I would turn the TV on and watch until I had to go to work. Jim McKay and Al Michaels became the voices of the Olympics to me that year!  So many moments to remember. Carl Lewis in track. Greg Louganis diving. The debut of Synchronized Swimming, which gets lots of snickers but still fascinates me: how do they smile like that under water?! And then Gymnastics was an Olympics all its own! The men, led by Bart Connor, winning the team Gold. And of course, Mary Lou Retton, the first gymnast outside Eastern Europe to win the gymnastics all-around competition. Even without YouTube, her concentration as she ran approaching the vault and then her sunny smile as she stuck her landing, as well as Bela Karolyi's jubilation, are etched in my memories. But let's watch it again anyway!

Since I've been an adult there have been plenty more exciting and also heart-wrenching occurrences. Kristi Yamaguchi. The whole Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding debacle. Kerri Strug nad her fierce determination as she performed the vault in spite of excruciating pain. Shannon Miller, Shawn Johnson, and more. And it's been fun to watch it with my kids and see their interest in the various events.

What are your Olympic memories? Share them on your blog and link up here! And be sure to come back next week; I've already got a really fun Flashback Friday planned!


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The Inheritance of Beauty

The Inheritance of Beauty
Nicole Seitz
(Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1595545046
February, 2011/320 pages/$14.99

Beauty is sometimes found in the most unlikely places.

George Jacobs and his childhood sweetheart were just kids living in small-town Levy, SC, when the train brought the evil to town. Now eighty years later, George and Maggie are married, living out their remaining days in Harmony House where time moves slowly--Maggie can no longer communicate her love and George can hardly remember their past. But when a large package arrives and an old stranger moves into Harmony House, their past won't remain at bay any longer. Like it or not, George must now remember things from long ago in order to set himself--and his sweet wife--free. But George isn't sure how many lives were affected by the stranger in Levy . . . or why life must come full-circle now when he's running out of time.

The Inheritance of Beauty is an entrancing story about beauty and age, about the blessings and curses of each, and how the true beauty of a person never fades.

Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.

Southern novels have a certain feel that sets them apart from all others, and The Inheritance of Beauty exudes this from the very beginning. To an outsider, the lives of George and Maggie Jacobs may seem as slow and predictable as their rocking chairs on the porch of the assisted living facility in which they reside. But an undercurrent is about to bubble to the top, impacting not only their lives but the lives of those closest to them. Chapters alternate from George's perspective, Maggie's silent flashbacks, and musings of their caregiver, Miss Annie. In spite of the headings at the beginning of each chapter, it occasionally took me a few moments to orient myself to the viewpoint of the chapters, as some were written from the individual's perspective and some about the individual. But that is a minor distraction, and the charm of this book lies in the portrayal of love, friendship, and loyalty, and the reminder that what is hidden will eventually come to light.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flashback Friday Prompt - Five Rings

I'm always a little sad when it's an odd-numbered year because that means there will be no Olympics on TV. So let's have a few of our own!

Did you and your family watch the Olympics when you were growing up? Which was your overall favorite - summer or winter? Which individual events were your favorites? Since blogging is international, which country did you cheer for? Have you ever been to an Olympics or known anyone who competed? What are some of the hallmark memories of the Olympics that you remember? Did the Olympics ever inspire you to take a certain sport (or practice more!)? Do you prefer watching them the old way when everything was delayed in the days before 24-hour cable and internet? Do you watch them more or less today than you did when you were growing up? What about the Special Olympics? Have you ever had any involvement with them?

Share your memories tomorrow on your blog and come link up here!


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for another fun Hodgepodge, courtesy of Joyce From This Side of the Pond!

1. Will you watch the Super Bowl? If so who will you root for? If you are outside the USA what is the 'big deal sporting event' in your own country?

Nope. Our entire household is completely uninterested.

2. Is ignorance bliss?

I don't know.

And since I'm not blissfully happy, my guess is no.

3. Which of the seven dwarfs are you? (and just in case your Disney is a little bit rusty, here they are-Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy)

Sleepy. I hate winter.

4. When you are riding in the car with another couple how do you organize the seating? (Men up front? Women up front? Couples sit together?) And thanks to Lori at Mountain Woman at Heart for the question! Everyone go say hi to Lori.

Generally, the men are up front.

(The women are pretty honest, also. Ba-dum!)

5. What is beauty?

Beauty is the peace and radiance on the face of one who has walked with God through life's storms and His reflection you see in his or her eyes.

6. If someone asks you to bring an appetizer or a dessert to a party in their home, which would you choose?

Dessert, always dessert.

7. What is your crowd pleasing go-to appetizer?

Did I not just say I always take dessert? Why are you asking me about appetizers?! Besides, it should be obvious that in Texas we like good ol' chips, salsa, queso, and guacamole!

(Gee, I sound almost like Jill Boyd. What a proud moment!)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Just a bit of free advice: If you have a child who will be applying to colleges and hard copies of any documents must be sent (i.e., not submitted online), do not use the U.S. mail. Use Fed Ex, UPS (do they do envelopes?) or some other courier. Paying for delivery confirmation or even certified mail with the post office isn't worth diddly-squat. And they won't refund your money. Take it from the voice of experience.

I told my boy that when we drop him off at college in August that the jig I dance will not be because I won't miss him but because we will have successfully navigated this very aggravating process!


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Never Been Kissed

Never Been Kissed: A Novel
Melody Carlson
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3259-2
January, 2011/224 pages/$9.99

New School = New Chance for That First Kiss

Summer is ending, and for once that doesn't seem like such a bad thing to Elise. She's hoping that starting fresh at a new high school will turn her first-kiss prospects around. New guys, new friends, and a new lease on life.

What she wasn't counting on was all the new pressure--to hang with the right crowd, wear the right clothes, and date the right guy. Just when it seems she's on top of the world, everything comes crashing down. Could one bad choice derail her future?

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at

Melody Carlson has her finger on the pulse of modern-day teen issues, and this book should be required reading for every teenage girl. It deals realistically with a very real dilemma for so many: the desire to be accepted, the longing to have a boyfriend, the inability to see far-reaching consequences of seemingly innocuous actions. Elise has been a Christian since she was twelve, and she does have standards she sticks to, but naively doesn't realize how quickly life can be turned upside down by her actions and those she thought were her friends. I am absolutely passing this one on to my high school girl.

Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, January 24, 2011


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Barbour Publishing, Inc.(January 1, 2011)


Ronie Kendig

Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series began in July 2010 from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

This is the second book in the series.

Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

If you would like to read an excerpt of Digitalis, go HERE.

Ronie Kendig immediately became one of my top favorite authors with her debut novel, Dead Reckoning (reviewed here), and she only solidified that standing with the release of Nightshade (reviewed here). So it was with eager anticipation that I dove into the pages of Digitalis, and not surprisingly, she is three for three! The title is well-chosen, for the dried powdered leaf digitalis is used to increase the force of the heart's contraction. This is indeed heart-pounding fiction that takes you right to the precipice of danger, causing you to furiously turn pages until a resolution is reached. Pages fairly crackle with the tension between Cowboy and Piper and with the peril looming just a heartbeat away. These books are definitely going on my keeper shelves! And I can't wait for the next books, Wolfsbane and Firestorm!


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A Heart-Pounding Page-Turner

Fatal Judgment
Irene Hannon
ISBN: 978-0800734565
January, 2011/336 pages/$14.99

U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward the coldhearted workaholic haven't warmed in the five years since she drove her husband--and Jake's best friend--to despair . . . and possible suicide.

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, he's forced to revise his opinion of her. And when it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in danger.

Full of suspense and romance, Fatal Judgment is a thrilling story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

Irene Hannon is the author of more than 25 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.

For more information about Irene and her books, visit her website at

Irene Hannon is a masterful storyteller! Romantic suspense is an apt description for the genre of this book. Hannon oh-so-slowly escalates the attraction and interest between Judge Liz Michaels and Marshal Jake Taylor while simultaneously and deliberately intensifying the danger and suspense surrounding the threat to the judge's safety. She gives us just a glimpse of the perpetrator early in the book and then gradually provides a bigger picture of his warped sense of justice and evil intent. The result is a heart-pounding story that is virtually impossible to put down until the last sentence is completed. I eagerly await the next book in this Guardians of Justice series.

Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

TSMSS - A Look Back

I can't believe I didn't think to post this song yesterday for Flashback Friday's post about inventions and technology from my childhood! Although many of the items referred to are from the fifties, which was just before I was born, some lingered into the sixties and I do remember those things. One of those is pedal pushers; I never liked them and when capris first came into fashion a few years back, I vowed I would never wear them! I thought they were just pedal pushers renamed. I eventually softened, but there are still other things from the sixties that have come back that I didn't like the first time around and still don't care for it this time, either!

I've always thought this was one of the Statler Brothers' most fun songs.

As fun as it is to look back with nostalgia on toys and technology and other memorabilia, nothing compares with the precious memories of faith and family. The song Precious Memories itself is a precious memory from my childhood! Here is a beautiful version of this classic sung by Cynthia Clawson way back in the mid-eighties.

Be sure to visit Amy's for more songs!


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Friday, January 21, 2011

Flashback Friday - When Old Was New

What new inventions or technology came out when you were growing up that you remember being amazed at? Were your parents "early adopters"--did they get the "latest and greatest" pretty quickly or did they stick with the "tried and true"? What are some things that you remember being a big deal when your family got them? (These may be items like stereos or kitchen equipment or bigger things such as carpet.) Were your folks prone to updating their furniture periodically or did they keep their old furniture forever? How was the way they were raised impact the way you were raised? And how did your upbringing influence the way you are today?

Nothing makes me feel older than to think about the things that have been invented since I've been born! Anyone who lived during several decades of the twentieth century can likely attest to this as well. The generation of my parents and grandparents experienced some of the biggest leaps of technology that have occurred during a single century.

Life was so hard and primitive when I was a child. We could only watch TV in black & white; there were only three stations, and you had to get up and walk across the room to change the channel! And you had to turn on the TV five minutes before the program started so the TV could warm up. And when you turned it off it the picture disappeared into a little white dot that stayed in the middle of the screen for several minutes. I don't remember how old I was, but it was a big deal when we finally got a colored television.

One Christmas when I was about 8 or 10 we got a stereo! A Magnavox console almost identical to the one in this picture. It had the sliding doors on the top, and on the left side was the place where you stored the records. The right side had an AM/FM radio and a turntable. You could stack several records and it would automatically drop them one at a time and play them. That was such a luxury!

When I was growing up our house did not have carpet. My folks had built it in the 1950's and wood floors were common. They weren't nice hardwood floors like you see today. They were skinny strips of wood, all different lengths, and they weren't polished and smooth and shiny like today's floors. And they were COLD in the winter! What a delight it was when I was in high school and we built a new house and it had carpet! I thought we were living "high on the hog," so to speak. When folks started ripping out carpet to put in hardwood floors, I just didn't understand that. Like my dad and wallpaper, which I shared yesterday, I associated wood floors with not being able to afford carpet. What's funny is that the carpet I was so excited about getting was a mid-1970's avocado green shag carpet! Blech! At least it was the shorter shag, not the real long one. Now I would love to have hardwood floors! How perspectives change!

Another thing I wanted when I was little was a princess phone. I thought those were really neat. (I never got one.) We just had a a plain old black rotary phone. Again, when we moved and I was in high school, it was exciting to get a phoone with push buttons, although for years my dad wouldn't pay the extra for the touchtone dialing, so it didn't go through any faster than a rotary!

Two other new things we had in our new house in 1977 that we hadn't had in the old house were a garage door opener (and guess who had always been the one to get out of the car to close or open the old heavy garage door at the old house!) and central air. In our old house, we only had a single unit in the living room. You froze if you were in there and sweated everywhere else in the house!

Getting an air-conditioned car was a pretty big deal, too. My dad bought a used company car that had AC when I was about nine, but we only had it a few months before my brother took it. A 1972 Chevrolet Impala was the first new car with AC that we ever had. That was such a nice car! I think it was also our first car with a radio, which of course was just AM.

It's probably obvious that my parents were not ones to immediately get the newest thing, at least not in terms of big ticket items. They kept the old stuff until it was worn out and then some. Whether it was a piece of furniture or a tool, they used it until it practically fell apart. Some of the original "blonde" furniture of the 1950's was still in my parents' house when we moved my mom into assisted living in 2001.

I do remember how excited my mom was when cassette tape recorders came out. My brother had a reel-to-reel recorder that he used to record games off the radio and my mom would sometimes use that. She loved her cassette recorder and taped lots of sermons off the radio to listen to again and again.

I think we got a microwave pretty soon after we moved. It was huge. I remember the early ads in the late 60's for the brand-new Amana Radar Range! We also finally got a dishwasher when we moved as well, although my mom only used it when we had company.

I remember when the popcorn poppers came out that you flipped over and the top became the bowl. Those were amazing! And they were great to use in the dorm at college. Now my favorite way to fix popcorn is the old-fashioned way, on the stove. I don't like microwave popcorn at all.

So many other little things we take for granted now. My kids never had to deal with their lunch box thermos breaking. They've always taken sandwiches in baggies, not wrapped in wax paper. (Environmentalists are swinging the pendulum the other way; I recently heard that the Austin school district has banned plastic bags in lunches.) We even ate sandwiches on waxed paper at home during the summer instead of dirtying plates, because of course we didn't have a dishwasher. And my kids have never known the joy (ahem!) of trying to get ice out of a metal ice tray that's been filled too full!

They've also never picked up soda pop bottles and turned them in for the deposit. Or cut themselves on a pop top from a can; those have always been connected and pushed into the can since they've been alive. They've also never sprinkled clothes and rolled them up for ironing. They've never put a cartridge in a fountain pen, or had it leak all over their hands. They've never used a bathroom sink where the hot and cold water came out of two separate faucets. (I hated that at my grandmother's!) They've never seen a wringer washing machine. And they've never used a flash bulb on a camera. Such deprived lives they have led!

We had an old Underwood manual typewriter at home. (I remember if you accidentally hit two keys at once they'd get stuck/twisted together!) And my dad used a big (and heavy!) adding machine with the lever that he used to balance the books as church treasurer. I remember the wondrous experience of taking typing in ninth and tenth grade when the IBM Selectric typewriters came out with the interchangeable balls for the fonts. They were absolutely amazing. We couldn't imagine anything any more modern than that for typing!

Then there was the astonishing TI-30 calculator that came out when I was in high school! To have a calculator that wasn't plugged in and they let us use it sometimes in Trig and Pre-Calculus was beyond incredible. Mine had a nifty vinyl case that was a denim blue color. I used that calculator for years.

And then when I was in college and working during the summers, one summer a new-fangled machine was in the office called a facsimile machine. It was huge and slow and the quality wasn't very good, but the idea that you could send a document over the telephone line was mind-boggling!

When I was in upper elementary school and junior high school and my oldest sister was in college, she would come home with these strange rectangular cards with various numbers of rectangular holes in them. They were called punch cards, and she used them in a new class with computers. She talked about this computer language called Cobol. I didn't understand much about it, but I remember that my mom kept all the old cards and the backs of the ones that didn't have too many holes in them got used for grocery lists and scratch paper!

The first Atari came out when I was in high school and although my family never had one, someone in our church youth group did, and it was fascinating to play Pong. My freshman year in college, Pac-Man came out and I remember trying to eat up the dots before getting hit by the bad guy!

One of the funniest realizations of our age was years ago when my boy was in Cub Scouts. His den was meeting at our house, and my man was showing them some of his patches from when he was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout. One of the boys asked, "Did you go on trips like we do? Did you go to NASA/Space Center Houston?" Uh, no, there wasn't such a thing back then! That was pretty funny!

Enough already! I'm sure I could come up with plenty more, but I'm starting to feel pretty ancient and I'd rather hear about your memories! Share them on your blog and add your link here!


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Ahhh! Moment and Flashback Friday Prompt

Medical technology has come a long way just in the time since I graduated from nursing school 25+ years ago. LASIK and laparoscopic surgeries. Advances in treatment for cancer, AIDS, and other illnesses. Widespread availability of defibrillators. In-vitro fertilization. Highly specialized care of premature babies, resulting in the tiniest babies surviving even when born as early as 21 weeks gestation.

Yet as wonderful as all of these are, two much simpler things were the source of my gratitude yesterday during my procedure.

Medicines that put you to sleep.

And blankets straight from the warmer.

Some things just can't be improved upon!

And now for this week's Flashback Friday prompt:

What new inventions or technology came out when you were growing up that you remember being amazed at? Were your parents "early adopters"--did they get the "latest and greatest" pretty quickly or did they stick with the "tried and true"? What are some things that you remember being a big deal when your family got them? (These may be items like stereos or kitchen equipment or bigger things such as carpet.) Were your folks prone to updating their furniture periodically or did they keep their old furniture forever? How was the way they were raised impact the way you were raised? And how did your upbringing influence the way you are today?

Here's an example to help your wheels start turning:

I've mentioned in the past that my dad's family was very poor when he was growing up. They were sharecroppers and had next to nothing. My dad never had any toys and played with sticks and rocks. When he was growing up, poor people put paper (usually newspaper) on their walls to cover the holes and bad spots and keep out the cold wind because they couldn't afford to have nice finished walls with textured and painted sheetrock. Consequently, we never had a single piece of wallpaper in our house, because to him, wallpaper equaled poverty. It didn't matter that the wallpaper was nice with pretty designs; he wanted it to be evident that his walls were nicely finished out and painted and weren't made of shoddy material.

Post your memories tomorrow on your blog and come back here to link up!


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Wounded Spirits

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:

Wounded Spirits

Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to April Gardner for sending me a review copy.***


April W Gardner is a military wife who has practiced the art of homemaking all over the world. She spends her mornings homeschooling her two darling children, and her afternoons inside the minds of her characters. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, traveling the nation in an RV, and learning Italian. April is involved in the music ministry of her church and volunteers in their library. She currently lives in the heart of ancient Creek Country—Middle Georgia.

This is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.


On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born; will she be strong enough to wait on God's provision?

A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate--and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.

Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission - he'll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can't see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him...or has He?

Their lives molded by the course of history, can these Wounded Spirits learn to rely on God's grace during one of the bloodiest conflicts in the South?

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981989616
ISBN-13: 978-0981989617


This is a solid debut novel. What a difficult time this was in our nation's early history as settlers and Native Americans warred with one another over property. It was a fearful, often bloody time. Yet beneath the rancor of both sides were individuals who were very much alike in many ways, seeking to do what they felt was best for their family and searching for meaning to life. Courage and determination mix with faith and love in this story based on actual people and circumstances.


McGirth Plantation, Tensaw Settlement

June 1813

Adela shifted her body to allow blood flow to her legs. The mossy ground had long grown hard against her tailbone, and the rough tree trunk dug into her back.

A refreshing breeze blew through the pines lining the northwestern border of her father’s land. It rustled the needles and created a comforting, familiar whistle.

A small meadow lay vacant before her. On the opposite side, the evening sun cast the last rays through the treetops. Squinting, she thought, for an instant, she saw the form of a man. No, it was just a bush moving with the current of the wind.

Surely, she had been waiting nigh on two hours. Her family would be worrying. Just north, civil war raged among the Creeks and threatened to involve the vulnerable Americans in the Tensaw and Bigby settlements. Her parents’ constant fear of danger was well placed.

Soon Mama would call Adela’s father in from the barn and send one of the servants looking for her. Worry was never good for Mama

Her attacks were rare these days, but she never knew what might set her to wheezing, then coughing.

Adela’s stomach twittered and flipped. She stood then rubbed her lower back. “Please, hurry, Phillip. Please,” she murmured, not sure she could stay much longer.

Unheeding, the sun’s beams continued down the length of the trees then dissolved, leaving only their orange and purple reflection in the sky.

Not wanting to create undue stress on her parents, she gave up waiting and set out toward home. She lifted her skirt to avoid the prickly blackberry bushes, and berated herself for not having thought to bring a lantern. How foolish of me!

“Adela…Adela…” Her name rode on the breeze.

Her heart seized, and then leapt as she recognized the voice. Haste sped her back through the underbrush.

“Phillip! I waited so long.” She panted.. He enveloped her in his work-hardened arms. Phillip was becoming more intimate with her. She wondered if it was too soon.

“I knew you’d wait.” Resting his hands on her shoulders, he stepped back where she could see him. “I couldn’t get away any sooner. Dixon had a list as long as my arm of things for me to do before I leave tomorrow. He hovered like a hawk to see I got them done.”

She pulled his hands from her shoulders and held them between her own instead. “You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”

“How will I ever last three months without you?”

“What kind of nonsense is that? You’ll do just fine. The adventure of your life is just around the corner. I hardly think you’ll be pining for boring old Tensaw. You just see Savannah treats you well while you’re busy getting your commission, Second Lieutenant Phillip Bailey.”

A stray lock of dark blond hair fell over his eye, and feeling bold, Adela brushed it away. He caught her hand and pulled it to his lips, his coffee brown eyes sparkling in the waning daylight. The warmth of his lips on her fingertips sent tingles of excitement rushing through her, but not without a warning.

I shouldn’t be encouraging him this way. Not while I’m still so unsure... She dropped her eyes, but he mistook her guilt for something else.

“That’s what I love about you, Adela. You’re all innocence and piety.”

He cradled the back of her neck with his hand, and her insides fluttered in a dangerous way. She knew she should move away, but she felt drawn to him, like a mouse to a trap.

Adela cleared her throat, “You speak of love when we’ve only been courting a month. And, I might add, quite unofficially.” His deep affection seemed premature.

“Maybe, but I’ve known I’d marry you from the day we met.”

She’d known him since she was just a girl. A grown woman now,ow had she not noticed he cared? She opened her mouth to ask, but he placed a finger on her lips.

“Are you sure you won’t come with me? It’s not too late. We can marry tomorrow, first thing and—”

“Marry? Tomorrow?You know I can’t. You haven’t spoken to my father about courting me, much less marriage. And there’s Ellie…did you forget? You know how she adores you.”

Phillip gave her a placating smile. “She might hurt for a while, but she’ll see reason. She’s not foolish, simply a bit of a romantic…albeit misplaced.”

Adela chuckled. “Elizabeth, romantic? Determined, more likely. She decided years ago to love you, and it would take a direct message from God to persuade her otherwise.” She propped her hands on her hips, barely noticing the first chirps of the crickets. “Did you know she just rejected an offer of marriage from Mr. Pierce?”

“The schoolteacher and Ellie? Married?”

“Well, he would have liked as much.”

Phillip tipped his square chin and laughed outright.

The sound brought a smile to Adela’s face, but she chided him nonetheless. “Come now, it was a perfectly decent offer.”

Phillip wiped his eyes. “But the man is twice her age, and desperate to be married. Have you seen his cabin? Chaos!”

Adela dismissed his objections with a wave of her hand. “All that aside, I am not prepared to be at odds with my sister. So, she must not find out about us…for the time being, anyway. We’ll address the issue when you return.”

“She has to find out eventually. Why not now?”Phillip crossed his arms and gave her the back of her shoulder. He’d never been one for patience and at the moment, he reminded Adela of a spoiled child denied a piece of pie. She chuckled.

“What are you laughing about?”

“Just now, you reminded me of Mrs. Haverty’s youngest.”

His eyes darkened as he took a step closer. His stiff form towered above her. “You’re comparing me to that little monster?”

Adela sobered at the intensity of his gaze. “It was a silly thought. Please forgive me.”

He studied her in silence.

Warning bells clanged in her mind. Just as another apology formed on her tongue, he let out a puff of air and relaxed his stance. “I just want to take care of you, Adela. I want to build a home for you and provide for you, give you beautiful things and walk with you through town on my arm. Let me talk to your father tonight.”

He could be quite persuasive.Still, she refused to allow him to push her into something for which she wasn’t fully prepared.

She gave a tentative shake of the head. True to form, her hesitance produced a huff of frustration. “If not now, then when? When will that dear sister of yours ever take the news well?”

“Why would I tell her something I’m uncertain of myself?”

He scowled then spoke as if she hadn’t mentioned her ambiguity. “You need to know the moment my feet touch Tensaw soil in August I plan on asking your father for permission to court you properly.” He grasped her chin in his hand and pressed a hard kiss to her lips. “So, you’d best prepare her.”

She took a step back and smoothed out her skirt.,. “Aren’t you the bold one tonight, Mr. Bailey.”

He merely grinned and removed the bear claw pendant that always hung around his neck. “Wear this to remember me by,” he said, holding it out.

“Phillip, it was your grandfathers! I can’t. It’s too important to you.”

“Of course you can. You’re to be my wife. It means what’s mine is yours. I love you, Adela McGirth, and there’s no one else I’d give it to.” His voice rang with longing as he ran his eyes over the length of her, pausing in all the wrong places.

She resisted the urge to cross her arms over her chest. At least the dark of the night covered the blush on her cheeks. Never had a man appreciated her body the way Phillip did, and never had one assumed so much. “You’re being a bit presumptuous. Aren’t you?”

“Not at all. I’m a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t stop until he gets it.” Playfulness tinged in his tone, but Adela heard the truth behind his words. “Take the pendant. If it helps, see it as a gift from a friend. Not as a token of betrothal.”

Seen in such a way, what could it hurt?

She slipped it about her neck then gasped as he pulled her into a fierce kiss. His moist lips moved confidently against hers. Warm hands stroked her back and almost melted her resolve to remain chaste.

“I love you,” he murmured against her mouth.

She knew he wanted a similar reply, but she couldn’t give it. The words caught in her throat, as if uncertainty itself held them from escaping.

She split apart from his searching mouth and sought retreat. “Please, be careful in Savannah,” she managed. “I have to go.” She dropped her arms and ran for home, the claw thumping against her chest.

* * *

Adela climbed the ladder to the loft careful not to wake her sisters. She hung her dress on a peg and slipped into her nightgown. Phillip’s bear claw thudded against her. She clutched it through her gown as panic seized her. Had she hid it from Mama? So intent on getting home, she hadn’t thought of it until now.

Her shoulders dropped when she realized Mama would have questioned her about it if she’d seen.

The wooden timbers of the bed squeaked as Adela climbed in next to Lillian. They had always shared a bed. Even when given the option of each having their own in their more spacious, newly built house, they had both refused, preferring the warmth and closeness the other afforded.

Although the two were completely opposite one another in every way, they held a special bond. Maybe it was Adela’s quiet dependence on God which supported the more flighty Lillian, or maybe it was Lillian’s carefree spirit which drew Adela to her sister’s side. Perhaps, it was the need for an ally against Ellie’s domineering onslaughts.

Regardless, with just a year separating them, she and Lillian understood each other, thrived on their friendship.

Lillian turned over to face her. “Where have you been?” she whispered, her anger barely concealed. “I’ve been worried sick. We all have.”

“Shh! You’ll wake Ellie.” Adela glanced at Elizabeth but their older sister’s breath remained deep and even.

“Well?” Lillian hissed.

“In the woods.”

“In the woods? That’s all you’re going to say? I hope Mama believed you more than I do.”

The fearful look on Mama’s face and the way she’d clung to Adela when she’d walked through the door flashed across her mind. She tasted guilt and couldn’t swallow. “Me too. But I didn’t lie, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Lillian practically snorted. “That would be something I would do. No, silence would be more your style.” She thumped Adela on the shoulder. “Am I not getting any more details, like where you got that—that—whatever it is hanging around your neck?”

Adela grasped the pendant. “You saw it?”

“Of course. When you got undressed, and if you don’t want anyone else to find out about it, you should be more careful. So, out with it. What have you got there?”

“It’s nothing. I shouldn’t have accepted it.”

“Nothing? I saw the way you were holding it,” she rasped.

“Shh! That’s not what I—” Would Lillian understand? “Oh, never mind.”

“Well, give me all the details. Who is he?”

“How did you know it was from a man?”

“Adela, Adela, ever so naive and oblivious. You and I don’t think the same at all. So, tell me already.”

“If I tell you, you have to promise to keep it to yourself! At least for a while. Promise?”

“Fine, I promise…just tell me.”

Adela took a deep breath, and said his name on less than a whisper.

“What? No! It’s—it’s not as if he has no reason to love you, but you? Lover of all things peaceable and non-confrontational, I never imagined you to be so audacious as to set your bonnet for Ellie’s man!”

“Shh! See why it’s a secret? No one would understand. Besides, he’s not Ellie’s man. And I’m not even sure I feel anything for him.”

“You’ve got to be half mad. You do realize Elizabeth will practically disown you?”

Adela lost the battle against her tears..

“Come on. Don’t cry. I exaggerated. It won’t be so bad. She’ll forgive you…eventually. She’s never really had a claim to him and will see it in time. But you have to tell her. You can’t keep it from her forever, and if she finds out from someone else, it’ll be worse.”

“Lilly, I’ve tried a dozen times to tell her, but I just can’t.”

Adela moaned and Lillian put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“It’ll humiliate her, if it doesn’t kill her first,” Adela said. “I should have put an end to it before he left, especially since I’m not sure I even love him. But he’s so…”

“Handsome? Daring? Everything a woman could want in a man?”

Adela sighed and fiddled with the claw strung about her neck. “Yes, he’s all that, but there’s something missing…or maybe it’s what he has too much of. A bit too brash, maybe? Too self-confident? He angers easily, and I don’t see much of the Lord in his life.”

“Is that what’s bothering you? Do yourself a favor and stop focusing on his faults. We all have them.” She propped herself up on an elbow then paused. After a moment of silence, soft snoring from the other side of the room confirmed Ellie still slept.

Moonlight from the small window washed Lillian’s face in its glow. Their Mama’s full Spanish blood showed itself most in Lillian. Even in the dim light, she was beautiful. “It’s simple,” she said. “You tell Ellie. She’s hurt. When Phillip proposes, you accept, and in time, Ellie recovers.”

Lillian tugged the pendant from Adela’s grasp. “This was his grandfather’s. I take it Phillip loves you.”

“He claims he does.”

“And you saw him tonight to tell him goodbye?”

Adela bobbed her head.

“Your secret is safe with me, but my advice is sooner is always better than later.”

“I know. I know. I’m such a coward.”

“Hardly.” Lillian patted her hand.

It felt awkward to be the one consoled. The tables were usually turned.


“I didn’t plan for it to happen and now…I’m risking Ellie disowning me for a man.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard yet. Ellie isn’t that scary. Now why don’t you get some sleep, and we’ll talk about how to handle it tomorrow. I assume there will be a wedding when he returns. You can’t prepare for a home of your own and still keep it a secret. We’ll think of something.”

“Thanks, Lilly. Love you,” she said with a peck to her sister’s cheek.

Lillian flipped over,. Much later, her mind exhausted, she relaxed and followed her sister in sleep.

* * *

Kossati Village, Upper Creek Nation

The cabin door creaked as it opened. Nokos stepped inside careful not to wake the children. He left the door ajar allowing the moonlight to guide his steps. Its soft glow illuminated his little ones piled like counting sticks on the bearskin mat. Four sets of arms and legs were sprawled in every direction.

He brushed a kiss onto each warm forehead. The youngest stirred, flipped to his back, and wiped drool from his cheek.

He had missed them, but the reason for his early return lay in the bed on the far side of the room.

Having removed his weapons, he stretched his aching muscles and crept into bed next to his wife.

Just before leaving on his hunting trip one week earlier, he had revealed to Singing Grass his intentions to join the warring party. She wasn’t pleased.

Civil War had raged in the Creek Nation since the 1811 Grand Council. For over a year, he had publically remained neutral, along with Red Eagle.

Now, he found himself forced to choose sides. With the purpose of protecting their nation and keeping its traditions pure, the Red Sticks were executing those displaying American sympathies.

If the Long Knives were not stopped, the Muscogee would eventually be lead to starvation or worse…slavery. According to the Red Sticks, every American sympathizer must die.

Most in Kossati knew Nokos was partial to the Americans. Yes, their droves of cattle encroached on Creek land, and no, the farmers did not ask permission to run their iron plows through Creek soil. All that aside, he had found it difficult to justify fighting them.

They were powerful and well studied in war. Singing Grass was right…the Red Sticks would eventually be slaughtered.

But unless he pledged his allegiance to the Red Stick cause and soon, he would find himself taken unawares by a band of warriors.

Nokos let out his breath in a gust and sank onto the bearskin pallet.

Singing Grass stretched an arm across his chest, and propped her small pointed chin on his shoulder. “You are home early.” With familiar affection, she traced the lines and circles tattooed on his neck and awakened a hunger within him.

He sought her lips and kissed her deeply. “I did not mean to wake you. How are you feeling?”

“Hungry—all the time.” She hammered his chest with her forefinger. “You left the hunt early to ask me if I am well?”

“It’s no matter. There was no game to hunt.” He tried to keep the frustration from his voice. No need to worry her.

“Nothing? You caught nothing?”

“Three rabbits and a squirrel, as if I were just a boy. No one else had done any better when I left. I doubt one more day would have mattered much.” He pulled her closer. “I would rather be home with you than listening to their talk of war, death, and starv—” He cut his words short.

“You do not have to hide things from me. I’m pregnant--not blind and deaf. I know what is happening.”

“We’ll be fine.”

“You’re joining the Red Sticks. I hardly think it is fine. They will kill themselves in vain. Must you?”

“Yes, I must.” Should he reveal to her Gray Hawk’s warning to be quick in choosing sides? That his name had been whispered among those whose loyalty was in question?

“The prophets are insane! Surely you have not succumbed to their antics?”

“Of course not. I’m no fool.”

The sighting of a star with a fiery tail traveling across the sky a month after Tecumseh’s departure had frenzied the Creeks. It was the “sign”, they said. It was the “arm of fire” Tecumseh had claimed would prove his prophecies were from the Great Spirit. A strongly superstitious people, the sighting had driven the Creeks into the Red Stick faction by the thousands.

True to his word, Tecumseh had left several prophets to train the Creeks to lead their people in the war dances. In most every village, the rhythms and tunes became familiar. With devotion, men and women believed the tales told by new prophets.

“Look what madness has overcome our people,” Singing Grass said. “They are being led to the slaughter! We shame ourselves, and our children will pay. Pushmatahaw is a wise chief. He was right to force Tecumseh from his nation. Because he did, the Choctaw were spared this insanity. If only our chiefs had done the same…”

“Lower your voice,” Nokos cautioned. “Do you want the children to repeat what you say? We’re already at risk. Careless words could be our destruction.”

She sat up, and her single braid slipped from her shoulder and landed on his chest with a soft thud. “What do you mean we are already at risk?”

“My past will not be forgiven. I must clearly oppose the Americans.”

“And what of your past? Will you pretend it does not exist? Will you spit in the faces of those who love you?”

“Red Eagle has joined the war party,” Nokos said, preferring to ignore her difficult questions.

“You should go to Big Warrior, join his White ranks in Tuckabatchee. I hear all who desire peace with the Americans are flocking to his protection.”

“I agree with Big Warrior, but sooner or later, Tuckabatchee will be under siege and his White warriors will be forced to surrender to the Red Sticks. I either submit now or later.” Nokos shook his head. “No. No, I will do as I vowed and follow Red Eagle. He is a clever warrior, and will lead us well.”

The moment Nokos heard the half-Scottish, half-Creek chief had joined the Red Sticks, he knew what he must do. “If Red Eagle, as influential and powerful as he is, has been forced at the threat of his family’s life to join the Red Sticks, how will I avoid it?”

With his gaze, he caressed the mother of his children. She was so vulnerable. And the little ones. Who would protect them when he went away? If he died? At least now, he would not have to fear his own people turning against them. Most found it much easier to wish their enemy’s demise…not so with Nokos.

She brought his attention back to her by running her warm hand down his cheek. “Wipe the worry from your face, husband,” she said, resolve in her voice. She sniffed once then swallowed. “All will be well. Do what you must.” She dropped next to him and clung to his chest, her hair tickling the underside of his chin.

He hadn’t realized how much her approval meant to him until he obtained it. Resting a hand on the slight bulge of her belly, he prayed to whatever god would listen that this dear woman be spared the sufferings and hardships which were the sisters of war.


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