Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall, © 2016

The Everstone Chronicles, Book 4

No Picture

Things are changing at Everston in Northern Maine. The front desk clerk, Violet Hawthorne, has a new coiffure and the deportment of Estella Blakeley's brother, Vance Everstone, has changed, as well.

Shakespeare Chateau, one of the most beautiful homes in St. Joseph, Mo. Photo by: Patrick P. EvensonAn unexpected move with Estella and her family, Violet sees more of Vance and is in a quandary as to his intentions. Having grown up at Hawthorne House, she was accustomed to refinement. This stay in Boston with the exceptional staffing and culture of her new surroundings exceeds what she has known.

One wonderful opportunity is the availability to continue her children's books writings in the seclusion of her room. The gardens are such a beautiful fragrant place to rest. Safety is paramount as rumors of being sought by an acquaintance of her brother continues to be haunting. Is this the prime reason Vance Everstone is surrounding her, or does he actually have an interest in her?

Victorian Bedroom:
I liked how this story is written in first-person to have a first-hand impression of the character's thoughts... and motives. Violet has a pure heart and anyone would be drawn to her.

Bram Everstone is gracious in including her amid his children and their families, as he did with Amaryllis when he first met her early on in the series. He has allowed his children to be who they are and has endeared himself as the patriarch of this family.

*** Thank you author Dawn Crandall and to Whitaker House for sending an advance reader copy for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.*** 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher, © 2016

The Bishop's Family, Book 3

A quiet starry night as a faint breeze floated over the hillside at the Inn of Eagle Hill. On the way home, finished for the night, Ruthie Stolzfus encounters a man in need of rest. Decision-making when you are finished and ready to head home is a little out of the ordinary, especially with no reservation to prepare for a night guest.

Conversational, you will get to know the people at Stoney Ridge and the intent of their hearts.
   "It's a funny thing about time. There always seems to be enough of it for the things that really matter."
   --The Devoted, 150.
I liked that characters from previous stories were part of the conclusion of this series. Constant, continuing in their days, some with more gusto than others, doing what they "knew to do." A new arrival is Patrick Kelly from Canada, who is having an extended stay at the cottage at Rose King's inn across from Ruthie's family's home property.
   "People change," Patrick said. "You might try giving her a fresh start. People rise to our expectations for them."
   --Ibid., 179.
Ruthie feels she is insignificant, unaware of the people who look to her for support. Her willingness to help others is beneficial in finding her niche. I like how the showing more than telling, motivates others to reveal themselves. There are lessons to be learned; when to be quiet and when to speak. Another character who unknowingly is a strong encourager is Birdy. If you have yet to meet her, you will find her to be a joy in being aware of her surroundings and spreading happiness and a lift of cares when you are near her. What a jewel she is.

Psalm 139 fully is portrayed in this story beyond David Stolzfus' remembrance of being hemmed in, surrounded by the Lord's care ~ "Thou has beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me."

***Thank you to Suzanne Woods Fisher and to Revell Reads for sending me a copy of The Devoted for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy this excerpt from Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Devoted ~ Chapter 1


The bad thing about Ruthie Stoltzfus’s job was that it barely paid minimum wage and she had no job security. She was only employed when someone from the Schrock family, who owned the Inn of Eagle Hill, was busy or unavailable, like now.
   The good thing about her job was that it was across the road from her home. She liked to think of the now-and-then job as a hotel concierge-in-training, minus the hotel. The Schrocks referred to the position as a filler.
   But as for what happened last evening . . . nothing ever— ever!—could have trained her for that. She was still shaky from the shock. The guests who had checked out of the inn yesterday had trashed the little cottage. Completely trashed it! Just as she was locking up after she had worked all day long to clean it up, she saw a man stagger over to her.
   “Is this a motel?”
   “Not really,” Ruthie said. “It’s a bed-and-breakfast.” And then she noticed the man had a cut on his forehead. “You’re bleeding.”
   He lifted a hand to his head as if startled by the thought. “It’s nothing. Look, I need a room for the night.”
   She looked back at the main house. The lights were out. It was late and they’d gone to bed. But the guest cottage was empty, and she knew Rose would appreciate the income. Still, this man seemed odd. Not in a dangerous way, but he seemed dazed, a little confused. Drunk, maybe? She should send him on his way. But then again, what would he do if she turned him away? He was miles from town. “You’ll have to pay cash, up front.”
   He reached behind him, then patted his pants, his shirt front, alarmed. “I don’t seem to have my wallet.” He reached into his pockets. “I’m good for the money. If you could just trust me. Just for tonight. In the morning, I’ll take care of everything. I promise.” His eyes pleaded with her.
   In the end, Ruthie ignored her usual overriding caution and let him stay. She walked him over to the guest cottage, showed him how to use the kerosene lights, and left him there. As she closed the cottage door behind her, she felt a hitch in her heart. Had she done the right thing? Or the wrong thing. Birdy, her father’s wife, often said that the Bible warned they might entertain angels as strangers in need. Nothing about this man seemed particularly angelic, but he definitely was a stranger in need.
   Ruthie crossed the road and turned around, walking backward, as she climbed the steep driveway to her family’s home. The light in the little cottage was already snuffed out. The man was probably in bed. She’d made her decision. She had to trust it was the right one, even if the stranger-in-need didn’t end up paying for the stay.
   She slept fitfully, tossing and turning. In the morning, she woke and dressed in a flash. She left a note for Birdy and her dad on the kitchen table, that she had to get to work early and would miss breakfast. She grabbed her shawl from the wall peg and rushed down the driveway. The cottage still looked as quiet as it did last night, though she wasn’t sure what she had expected to find. Burned down? Exploded ? Don’t be ridiculous, Ruthie, she told herself. You’re letting your imagination run away with you.
   Rose was already in the kitchen at the main house of Eagle Hill as Ruthie walked right in. She looked up at Ruthie in surprise. “You’re here early.”
   “There’s a guest in the cottage,” she said. “Late last night, as I was heading home—a man came and asked for a place to stay.”
   Rose straightened up. She looked out in the driveway. “Where’s his car?”
   “He didn’t have one.”
   Rose got that look on her face, the one that seemed as if she knew this story wasn’t going to end well.
   “I might have made a mistake, Rose. He seemed to be in some kind of trouble.”
   “Did he threaten you?”
   “No. Nothing like that. He was very polite.” She explained the whole story.
   Rose went to the window to peer at the cottage. “It’s early. Let’s wait another hour or so, then I’ll take him some coffee.”
   “Are you mad at me?”
   Rose swiveled around. “No. Not at all. Please don’t worry, even if the man doesn’t pay for the night. You were put in a tough spot and made a decision that felt right to you.” She turned back to peer out the window, looking at the cottage, crossing her arms against her chest. “But maybe I’ll have Galen take him the coffee.”
   An hour later, that’s just what she did. Galen King, Rose’s husband, a no-nonsense kind of man, took a pot of coffee over to the man in the cottage. Not two minutes later, he returned with the untouched coffee tray.
   “Is he all right?” Ruthie asked. “Should I call for a doctor?” Galen set the tray down and slumped into a chair at the kitchen table. “Not a doctor. He definitely doesn’t need a doctor.” He swallowed. “He needs . . . the county coroner.”
   And that’s why Ruthie couldn’t stop shaking. The coroner arrived, and after he saw the cut on the man’s forehead, his bleeding knuckles, and discovered there was no identification to be found, he called the Stoney Ridge Police Department. They dispatched their only two cars, sirens blaring, which alerted all kinds of townspeople to come out and see what on earth had happened at the Inn of Eagle Hill. A reporter from the Stoney Ridge Times said this was the biggest story to hit the town in two years, since someone had blown up Amish farmers’ mailboxes with cherry bombs.
   “Perhaps there’s a link,” the reporter said, sniffing for any clue he could find to flesh out his story. Hard news, in Stoney Ridge, was as scarce as hens’ teeth.
   “No link at all,” Luke Schrock said with certainty. Rose’s son, Luke, was Ruthie’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, depending on how much patience she had for him. Lately, it was off-again. Luke seemed almost amused by the activity that was quickly filling up the front yard of his family’s property.
   Ruthie found Luke’s attitude to be callous and would have told him so, but the reporter kept pestering her with questions. When the reporter overheard one policeman tell the other that Ruthie was the only one who had seen and spoken to the man, he cornered her. “What kind of weapon was used to murder him?”
   “Murder? Who said anything about a murder?” How awful. What horrible chain of events had Ruthie set into motion last night?
   “It’s obvious,” the reporter said. “The bedroom window was open. The man was found on the floor. It’s a cut-and-dry case, elementary crime solving. Someone came in through the open window, killed him, and left through the front door. And now”—the reporter muttered to himself, taking down notes—we’ve got ourselves a John Doe, right here in sleepy Stoney Ridge.”
   The policemen were unrolling yellow crime-scene caution tape over the front door of the guest cottage. Ruthie knew one of the officers, Matt Lehman. He was talking to Rose, so she started toward them, hearing him tell Rose to call tonight’s inn guests to explain that their reservation had to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Then he turned to Ruthie and told her, twice, that she wasn’t to talk to anyone about what she’d seen or done until she’d been questioned.
   “Right,” Ruthie said. “So don’t say anything about the blood.”
   Suddenly the Stoney Ridge Times reporter was by her side again. “What blood?”
   “The man’s forehead was bloody.”
   Matt Lehman scowled at the reporter, led Ruthie to the backseat of his police car, and told her to sit there, say nothing, do nothing.
   Luke Schrock watched Matt lead Ruthie to the car. “ Don’t say anything without a lawyer present, Ruthie! You have rights!”
   Matt turned to Luke with a sigh. He was well acquainted with him. “She’s not being arrested.”
   “Oh,” Luke said. He waved a hand in the air. “Well, then, carry on.”
   Ruthie sat in the police car, arms tightly folded a gainst her chest. Murder. She had let an injured man into the cottage, a criminal, probably, only to have him brutal ly killed in his sleep.
   What did I do? she thought miserably.
   A little later, Matt Lehman and the other policeman walked over to the police car to question Ruthie about everything she could remember from last night. It was surprising how many details her mind had taken in and filed away without realizing it. The stranger was surprised when she pointed out there was blood dripping down his forehead. He had seemed dazed and confused. Even still, he was very polite, very appreciative.
   “Why didn’t you ask for the man’s name?” Matt said. “Why didn’t you ask him for any information?”
   For that, she had no answer. It was a set of circumstances that had flustered her, made her feel as if she just wanted to get the man settled in so she could go home. The main house was dark, she was alone, the man seemed like he needed to rest. Looking back, she realized how many mistakes she had made. But the stranger hadn’t seemed dangerous.
   “Who might have broken into the cottage to murder him?” she asked Matt, and he looked at her strangely.
   “What makes you think he was killed?”
   “The reporter said so. He called it a homicide.”
   “Aw, no,” Matt said, turning to the other officer. “He’s gonna get everyone twitchy.”
   The officer frowned. “They’ll all be hearing things go thump in the night.”
   “But . . . was the man murdered?”
   The two police officers exchanged a look. “We aren’t sure of anything,” Matt said. “Not until we get the coroner’s report.”
   “What about the open window?”
   “The innkeeper said there’d been a group in there the other night who trashed the place.”
   “That was true, but I was the one who cleaned up the cottage yesterday and I didn’t notice an open window.”
   “Ruthie,” Matt said. “Are you positive? Absolutely positive?”
   “No. I guess not.” She wasn’t positive of anything anymore.
   “Can you think of anything else? Anything at all?”
   She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to make herself remember. Her cousin Gabby should have been the one here last night but had moved to Kentucky with her new husband, Dane. With Gabby’s unique attention to detail, she could’ve given the policemen a blow-by-blow detailed report.
   Her eyes popped open. “He had no wallet.” Something else tickled her memory. “When he reached for his wallet, he pulled out a ticket stub. It was to a Lancaster Barnstormer baseball game.” She recognized the logo because her brother Jesse often slipped off to go to home games. She was rather pleased with herself. Such recall!
   The officers were not as pleased. In fact, they seemed rather disappointed as they closed their notepads.
   Matt handed her a card. “If anything else comes to mind, give me a call.” A stain of pink started up the sides of his cheeks. “Or you could have your aunt track me down.”
   “My aunt?” Her aunts lived in Ohio.
   His cheeks went redder still. “The doctor.”
   Oh! That aunt. “You know Dok? How?”
   “I’ve bumped into her a few times at the hospital.” His face was now streaked with red blotches.
   Oh. Oh! Matt Lehman was sweet on her aunt! How curious.
   As soon as the policemen finished with their questions, Ruthie walked over to the porch of the farmhouse, where Rose King stood waiting for her.
   “Are you all right?” Rose asked.
   “I suppose so.” Ruthie looked at the cottage, at the ribbons of yellow caution tape covering the door. “I’m so sorry. I should never have let that man stay here last night.”
   Rose put an arm around her shoulders. “You did what you thought was best. Innkeeping is all about dealing with strangers. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I’d been in your shoes.”
   “But look at what it’s turned Eagle Hill into. A human zoo.”
   Rose’s gaze swept over the driveway to the cottage. A police car, a handful of horses and buggies, dozens of scooters, clumps of Amish men and women standing together, all curious onlookers. “Well, no doubt it’ll all blow over soon.”
   Ruthie hoped so, but something deep inside her felt this was just the beginning.

   It was a beautiful July day. Life had its twists and turns, but right now, it was smooth sailing. David Stoltzfus had never felt more content, more optimistic about the future. He felt light as air.
   He gave the horse’s reins a shake to back up the buggy, eager to return home.
   Home. What a beautiful word.
   Home to Birdy. His wife.
   His wife. It still amazed him, to wake up each day beside this woman, whom he dearly loved and grew more attached to each day. It was a different kind of love he had for Birdy than for Anna, his first wife and the mother of his children. Different, but in a way, it was more precious. He knew how fleeting life could be, how quickly things could change.
   Yes, David thought, he had much to be thankful for: his calling to be bishop, his health, his friends, his family, and now his wife. Life had certainly thrown him some curves, and doubtless there would be further tests, trials, and tribulations. But just for now, on this beautiful summer day, it was to be enjoyed in all its fullness and with all its wonders.
   He thought back to this morning, to holding his beautiful little newborn grandson in the crook of his arms. The baby was mewling away when Katrina passed the bundle to David and his crying stopped immediately. He opened his dark blue eyes and peered at him, as if he knew he already had a place deep in his heart.
   A grandchild. His second. A boy! His first.
   For a long while, he studied this little baby who stared back at him. He lay still, silent, his fists closed tight , his wispy hair fine as silk. David kissed the baby’s forehead. He was sure no baby on earth held a candle to how beautiful his little grandchildren were at birth, not even his own six children. He watched the baby’s pulsing scalp, counted his tiny toes and fingers. So miniature, so perfect. A miracle.
   Too soon, Thelma Beiler, a beloved elderly woman with whom Katrina and her family lived at Moss Hill, insisted he relinquish the baby and return him to his mother. As he placed the baby in Katrina’s arms, Thelma gently scolded him like a mother hen, practically shooing him out of the house. “You’ve got bishop work to tend to.” And she was right. He had a full schedule and then some ahead of him.
   As David watched Katrina rest the baby against her shoulder, a wellspring of emotion emerged within him, a memory so powerful and vivid that it made his eyes sting and he had to turn away. She reminded him so much of Anna. Maybe that’s why people enthused about becoming grandparents: it brought up so many poignant memories, long buried.
   The horse nodded her big head, making the harness jingle, snapping his attention to the present. A police car, lights flashing, siren screeching, was flying down the road past Moss Hill’s turnoff. How odd. It was rare to see a police car over in this part of Stoney Ridge—it was made up almost entirely of Amish farms. And then his thoughts drifted to Luke Schrock and, perhaps unfairly, he automatically assumed the police visit had something to do with Luke. What might the boy have done now? Luke wasn’t a boy, David thought to himself. Nor was he a man. He was stuck somewhere in between.
   As he flicked the reins, clucking to the horse, Thistle, to turn left from the driveway onto the road, his mind traveled from Luke’s frequent brushes with the law to the farms he passed, all belonging to church members of Stoney Ridge, and settled on the church that bound them together. Two years ago, the little church had weathered a great wound and survived. More than survived. It was thriving. The baptism class this last spring was the largest one in years. No families had moved away for over two years. In fact, the church’s population had increased with new families moving in.
   He stopped the horse for a moment to watch the pumpjacks atop Moss Hill, bobbing their heads up and down as they pulled oil from deep inside the earth. Those oil pumps—they were a blessing to this community. It astonished him, and humbled him too, to think the oil had been there, all this time, waiting to be discovered. More Amish families had leased their land after having it surveyed for oil traps. Those oil leases had given Stoney Ridge a fresh wind. The church was able to pay off substantial bills, to build a reserve for future emergencies, and to offer aid to other churches.
   The role of bishop still felt new and a little uncomfortable to David, as if he were wearing a coat that was much too big for him. The previous bishop, Freeman Glick, a tall and broad man, had a powerful presence. Even his long beard, gray and flourishing, conferred considerable authority.
   David’s beard was the opposite of Freeman’s, short and trimmed, a little like his own presence, which was not at all authoritative. “Truth discovered is better than truth told” was his motto as a bishop, as a father. He believed in letting church members, including his own children, embark on their own journey to faith. The Lord God desired obedience, but only if it came from the heart.
   He felt an unexpected sense of peace and well-being on this beautiful summer morning. A rare day!
   Slapping the reins again to get Thistle trotting, he glanced in his rearview mirror and saw a tiny vehicle gain on him from behind his buggy. The driver extended his arm out the side, waving it like a flag. David slowed the horse to see if there was a problem.
   The arm belonged to Hank Lapp, driving up the road in a bright yellow golf cart. “HELLO THERE, DAVID!” he yelled in his everyday voice as he passed the horse and buggy. “Somethin’s brewing over at the Inn at Eagle Hill. I’m heading there now!”
   Hank drove on past him as if it was the most normal thing in the world for an Old Order Amish man to drive himself around in a golf cart.
Suzanne Woods Fisher, The Devoted Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce: Recipes & Ramblings from The Belle of All Things Southern ~ Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, © 2016

Okay, then! I know y'all are anxious to read this review! Let me wash my sticky fingers from that awesome photo on the front cover!


Are you ready?? This story-telling cookbook is the best! You know you will glean the recipes and read all the stories before you make it to the kitchen?! You will be amazed at some of the assistance ingredients, and you can truly say, "Yes, I made this."

Image result for 1950s mother daughter kitchen

This will be real food that you will have ingredients mostly at-the-ready for! Out of her Mama's older treasury cooking, friends and family recipes with neighbors stopping by with dessert, and... Shellie's recipe from her Kitchen Belleicious shown on this very cover.

Be ready for homemade spaghetti sauce, white sauce, BBQ sauce, comeback sauce, hot fudge sauce! Soups, dips, feed the sports crew appetizers. These recipes are close at hand with a taste of memories.
"Of course you were invited! You mean you didn't get your invitation?"
   --Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce, 135.
Cozy in and enJOY these gathering-in recipes for family and friends dropping by to watch the game during these crisp, Fall days.  These recipes will not keep you in the kitchen long, so you can entertain and be entertained by your friends, and most importantly, spending time together with Jesus. He will feed y'all long after you've put the dishes away!

It's here!!! Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce is on store shelves today! #aweebitexcited***Thank you to the Belle of All Things Southern! for this awesome copy for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received except for an, "Oh, this sounds good...!"

Order your copy today!
It's more than a cookbook!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund, © 2016

Only God can change the intent of a heart yielded to Him. John Newton's direction is sporadic as he repeatedly tries to follow his inclinations that turn sour and not what he had envisioned happening. Setting out alone, he attempts to circumvent outcomes of peril. Swayed by brawn and exaggerated feats of time, Newton is dissuaded from finding an obstacle to his ventures. Always assuring himself that he will be taken out of his disaster, his vision is narrowed to see factual circumstances; a little bit better than it could be. He wants to do right, to regain the man he could be, but seemingly always faltering. How can an open heart be closed off by others? How can a building love be sequenced and locked away, but longing remain even stronger? To be free, to be truly free, unencumbered by chance.
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said,
“Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?
And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O Lord God!
1 Chronicles 17:16-17
Author Jody Hedlund has portrayed a man reaching to fulfill his soul's desire to be seen for who he is. Alive, worthy, protected. Never seeming to measure up, he stretches forward to an unknown newness waiting for him. Peace. Love. Honor. Bereft without God, longing for a turning point solacing a heart.

Amazing Grace
John Newton (1779)

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be for ever mine.

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

This story is very well written and demonstrates deep researching into lives that we may benefit from their example. In fact, in any generation could be viewed character building or degeneration by whom we choice to pattern our life after. An encouragement to go forward with God's amazing grace.

No 15  visit website and twitter
Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including Luther and Katharina, winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award. She received a bachelor’s from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work.
Jody enjoys bringing forgotten historic women to life. Her first novel, The Preacher's Bride, won the Reader's Choice Award with Romance Writers of America (RWA). She and her husband and their five children live in central Michigan.

***Thank you author Jody Hedlund for this novel of Amazing Grace! and to WaterBrook for sending me a review copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Love's Faithful Promise by Susan Anne Mason, © 2016

Courage to Dream series, Book 3

Love's Faithful Promise

The younger O'Leary children have grown up!

Deirdre O'Leary has completed nurses training and now is in medical studies at Boston University. Upon receiving a telegram that her mother has had a stroke leaving paralysis, she is on a train to New York. A month earlier she had been working at the same hospital in Manhattan. Now Mama is in a silent room.

Deirdre's father requests, with her medical understanding, that she travel to Canada to talk to a young doctor about coming to Irish Meadows to apply his experience with physical therapy to his wife's stricken limbs. Aiding injured soldiers in his practice on staff at the Toronto Military Hospital and personally attending his young daughter's delicate health following tuberculosis two years earlier, have been his immediate focus. With his wife, Priscilla, dying from the same disease, Dr. Matthew Clayborne is not prone to leave to manage a single patient in Long Island. A turn in young Phoebe's health demands that along with Phoebe's nanny, Miss Shearing, they begin their journey ~ for a month.

Horse Farm.Fresh air at Irish Meadows has begun to do wonders in strengthening Phoebe's body and outlook. So different from the confines of the city, she has gotten some color to her cheeks... and laughter so long ago heard.

The stable brings a few surprises as new employee "Jo/Joe" stands in for her newly hired brother ~ who is working in his father's place after an injury prevents him from beginning his new position! What a web is woven for Connor O'Leary to sift through.

As the seasons turn from one to another in the normal progression, hearts are turned from an expectation of just carrying on.
For I will restore health unto thee, and
I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the
Lord. Jeremiah 30:17
Merry Christmas
Summer winds bend to turning of leaves, to the bare limbs of winter. Within, limbs are being restored through exercise and Mrs. O'Leary is adding to the healing of a heart in Dr. Clayborne. A mother's touch to add a restoration to ungleaned memories left in the shade of days gone by.

The ending of this series brings the beginning of hope to those unfettered by disillusions never intended.

Enjoy this excerpt from Susan Anne Mason's Love's Faithful Promise ~ Chapter 1


September 1922
New York City

Deirdre O’Leary strode down the wide corridor on the second floor of Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, her stomach quivering with each step.
   How many times had she walked these halls? Hundreds? Thousands?
   Eagerly as a nursing student, and later with confident efficiency as a practicing nurse.
   But never with such dread.
   Barely a month had passed since she’d quit her position here, and now she was back for the worst possible reason.
   In the pocket of her linen jacket, Deirdre’s fingers closed around the slip of paper she’d read dozens of times on the train from Boston. Her father’s telegram.
   Your mother had stroke. Come quickly.
   As a nurse, Deirdre knew all too well the dangers and the complications that could arise. The odds were high that Mama would suffer a second and possibly fatal stroke. As soon as Deirdre had read her father’s message, she’d left her medical studies at Boston University and boarded the next train for New York.
   Now the heels of her shoes tapped a staccato rhythm that echoed off the sterile hospital walls. The familiar scents of antiseptic and pine cleanser brought her a small measure of assurance, reminding her of the healing that took place within these walls. She’d witnessed many miraculous recoveries during her time here as a nurse.
   She would expect no less for her mother.
   Deirdre passed the waiting room, surprised to see none of her brothers or sisters inside. She’d expected them all to be keeping vigil here. She slowed her pace as she came to the room number she’d been given and laid a hand on the doorframe while she paused to control her rapid breathing. For her family’s sake, she must appear calm and in control.
   No matter how badly her heart was shattering.
   She stepped through the doorway, and an unnatural hush met her ears. Right away her gaze flew to the metal bed that dominated the room. Her mother lay still beneath the bleached­ white sheets. Beside the bed, her father sat hunched over the rail.
   Deirdre’s lower lip quivered. Mama looked so weak, just as she had when they’d almost lost her to typhoid fever. Deirdre and her brother Connor had also contracted the disease and had bounced back quickly, but not Mama. The illness had taken its toll, sap­ ping much of her mother’s vitality. The same panic Deirdre had felt back then returned to create a vise grip around her lungs.
   She released a shaky breath and moved farther into the room. Against the far wall, her oldest sister, Colleen, sat with her head back, eyes closed. At least Daddy wasn’t alone.
   Her father looked up, the pinched lines in his forehead easing as he spotted her. “Dee. Thank heaven you’re here.”
   He rose to embrace her. The fragility in his blue eyes, a direct contrast to his strapping build, tore at Deirdre’s composure.
   She kissed his cheek. “How is she, Daddy?”
   “Stable for now. It’s been more than twenty-­four hours with no further episodes, which the doctor says is an encouraging sign.”
   “He’s right.” She lifted the chart from the end of the metal bed frame and scanned the notations. The word paralysis jumped off the page in several spots. She pressed her lips together. “Has the doctor said what treatment he recommends?”
   Daddy’s features hardened. He moved closer, his voice barely audible. “We’ll discuss that later. For now, your mother needs to regain her strength.”
   Across the room, Colleen roused from her slumber, stretching her arms over her head. “Dee! Thank goodness.” She pushed up from the chair, and Deirdre’s gaze fused to her swollen ab­domen. Another Montgomery baby on the way? How had she missed that piece of news?
   Colleen grabbed Deirdre in a vigorous hug. “Now that you’re here, we’ll all feel better. If anyone can help Mama, it’s our resident nurse.” She pulled back. “Or should I say doctor-in­-training?” Despite her obvious fatigue, a twinkle shone in her sister’s violet-­blue eyes.
   “I’ll do my best, no matter what title you give me.” Deirdre smiled. “You look wonderful. Why didn’t you tell me I’m going to be an aunt again?”
   Colleen rested a hand on her belly. “With the size of our brood, I figured it must be boring by now.”
   “Nonsense. It makes what you do all the more amazing. Running the orphanage with Rylan, adopting two children, having two of your own, plus another on the way . . .” She tilted her head to one side. “You make medical school look easy. Besides, babies are never boring. Are they, Daddy?”
   “Not my grandbabies.” He gave a weak attempt at a smile, his gaze straying to the bed as though he was worried Mama wouldn’t be able to enjoy the anticipated addition to the family.
   “Where is everyone?” Deirdre asked. “I expected the waiting room to be bursting with O’Learys.”
   Daddy resumed his place by the bed. “The others have been here and left. We’re setting up a schedule so your mother is never alone.”
   A shiver of alarm wound its way along Deirdre’s spine.
   Colleen laid a hand on Daddy’s shoulder. “Speaking of which, I need to get home before the children are out of school.” She kissed his cheek and embraced Deirdre once more. “We’ll talk soon.”
   As soon as Colleen left, Deirdre faced her father. “Have the doctors said if Mama’s out of danger yet?”
   He rose and motioned to the hallway. His tall frame seemed to eat up the space in the corridor. “The doctors won’t say much. Only that her condition hasn’t worsened.”
   Deirdre bit her lip. “Did they give any hope for recovering the use of her limbs?”
   A nerve twitched in Daddy’s jaw, a sure sign he was upset. He shook his head. “They say there’s nothing they can do. Told me to prepare for permanent paralysis.”
   “But surely there’s some type of therapy—”
   Daddy made way for an orderly to pass with a mop and bucket. “I have people looking into the best facilities in the country.”
   Deirdre’s throat seized, forcing her to swallow before she spoke. “Surely you’re not thinking of putting Mama in a facility?” Her desperate whisper echoed in the hall.
   “Of course not. I plan to bring in a specialist.”
   “Thank goodness.” Her shoulder muscles went lax with relief. For a moment, she’d worried her father had taken leave of his senses.
   Daddy draped an arm around her, and they started back toward Mama’s room. “Actually, your Uncle Victor has a doctor in mind. One who’s making remarkable advances with injured limbs up in Toronto. He’s going to speak to him and get back to me. In the meantime”—he turned to face her—“I need to know. Will you come home to look after your mother?” His expression became apologetic. “Brianna and Colleen have of­fered, but they both have young families. And you’re the most qualified.” A hint of pride sounded in his voice.
   Deirdre paused to savor his words. He’d been far from thrilled when she’d first told him of her desire to become a nurse. And even less so once she’d decided to study medicine.
   Visions of the campus at Boston’s medical school flashed through her mind. After only a few weeks in attendance, she’d barely gotten used to her classes. Her professors had assured her they understood why she had to leave, but how long would they hold her spot when so many students clamored to get in?
   Brighter, more promising students than she.
   Her thoughts turned to Jeffrey and how much she’d already sacrificed to pursue this career path.
   Yet one look at the pleading in her father’s eyes and every trace of doubt vanished. “Of course, Daddy. There’s nowhere else I’d be.”
   She only prayed that delaying her studies, even for a short while, wouldn’t permanently derail her dream of becoming a pediatrician.

 “That’s it, Fred. One more repetition and you can stop for today.” Matthew Clayborne guided the soldier’s shriveled leg to a forty-­five­-degree angle and counted as Fred held the position for a full minute.
   Sweat poured from the man’s brow. He grunted when his leg finally dropped. “If you’re trying to kill me, Doc, it’s working.”
   Doubts crept in as Matthew unstrapped the iron weight and removed it from Fred’s shin. Had he pushed the man too hard for his second round of therapy this week?
   Fred grinned, easing the lines of pain etched into his fore ­ head. “Relax, Doc. I’m joking.” He grabbed the crutch leaning against the wall next to him, pulled himself up, and hobbled over to his wheelchair. “Despite the pain, it actually felt good. Like the exercises are working.”
   A wave of relief rushed through Matthew’s chest. “Glad to hear it. With continued hard work, you should be out of that chair in six months or less.” Matthew turned to make a notation on the man’s file.
   Fred’s story was much the same as most of Matthew’s patients. Young and fit before he became injured in the war. Sent home a cripple.
   As Matthew almost was.
   Fred maneuvered his chair across the room. “See you next week, Doc. Unless a pretty girl makes me a better offer.” He chuckled while retrieving his hat from a low bookcase near the door.
   Rubbing the thigh of his own bad leg, Matthew marveled at Fred’s ability to keep such a cheerful attitude. At least Matthew could walk, albeit with a slight limp.
   “What’s this about a pretty girl?” Marjorie, Fred’s wife, ap­peared in the open doorway, holding a small boy’s hand.
   Fred’s whole face changed, and the ravages of the pain he’d endured gave way to a laugh. “I’m talking about you, of course, honey. You’re the only pretty girl in my life.”
   Marjorie’s simulated scowl changed to a blinding smile that radiated her obvious affection for her husband. “Good answer, Mr. Knox.” She bent to kiss him.
   Matthew turned away, unable to squash a flare of envy. Even if Fred never walked again, Matthew doubted it would affect Marjorie’s devotion. Did the man know how lucky he was? Unwelcome images of Priscilla wisped across Matthew’s mind. He would never forget her look of disgust upon seeing the ugly scar that traversed the length of his upper leg when he’d returned from overseas.
   Fred’s son, Harry, gave a loud whoop, snapping Matthew from his brooding. The child hopped onto Fred’s lap and flung his arms around his neck. “Daddy, can we go to the candy store now?” His exuberance pulsed through the room like a current of electricity.
   “That all depends, young man. Have you been good for your mama while you waited?” Fred regarded the boy who squirmed on his lap.
   “Mostly good. Mama only had to call me ‘Harrison’ once.”
   Fred’s lips twitched. “Well, I suppose that deserves some licorice and gumdrops. Don’t you agree, Mama?” He winked at his wife.
   Marjorie laughed. “As long as I get some as well.”
   The lad leapt up and raced across the room. Matthew contemplated the boy with bemused admiration, trying to imagine his frail Phoebe with so much unbridled energy.
   Marjorie turned to Matthew. “How did Fred do today, Dr. Clayborne?” The note of hope in her voice was unmistakable.
   Matthew gave a brief nod. “He’s doing very well. If he con­tinues to make progress, he might be out of that chair by late spring.” There, he’d given himself—and Fred—more time than expected.
   If Marjorie was at all dismayed by the length of time the therapy would entail, she hid it well. “I want to thank you again, Doctor, for everything you’re doing. When I think of the years Fred wasted because no one was willing to work with him . . .” She bit her lip and broke off. “I thank God every day that we found you.”
   At the sheen of emotion filming her blue eyes, Matthew took a step back, fearing she might try to hug him. “Your husband is doing the work. He deserves your praise, not me.”
   She laid a hand on her husband’s shoulder and smiled. “You both deserve credit. Good­bye, Doctor.”
   As soon as the young family left him in blessed solitude, a band of tension eased, allowing Matthew to breathe normally again. He moved to the counter and jotted a few more notes regarding the next therapy session. When he finished, he drew his watch from his vest pocket. Ten minutes until his next patient arrived. Unfortunately, Mr. Worthington was not nearly as receptive to treatment as Fred Knox.
   A quick knock sounded on the door. Matthew looked up to see the medical director, Dr. Victor Fullman, enter the room. Victor had been his boss ever since Matthew had joined the staff of the Toronto Military Hospital almost four years ago.
   “Good day, Matthew. Might I have a word with you?”
   Matthew worked to keep the surprise from his features. It was highly unusual for Victor to come down to the therapy room. Normally, he would send word for Matthew to come to his office. “Of course, Victor. Is anything wrong?”
   The big man crossed the floor. “I have a request I wanted to run by you as soon as possible.”
   From the hesitant look on Victor’s face, Matthew imagined he was not going to like it. He removed his reading glasses and set them carefully on the counter. “What type of request?”
   “I had a call from a good friend in New York.” Victor crossed his arms over his barrel of a chest. “His wife has suffered a stroke and is paralyzed down one side of her body.”
   “That’s unfortunate. I’m sorry.” Matthew rose from the stool he was sitting on.
   “The neurologist at Bellevue doesn’t offer much hope for recovering the use of her limbs. James, however, is a stubborn Irishman and refuses to accept the prognosis.” Victor smiled, creating fine wrinkles around his eyes.
   Matthew waited, still not understanding what this had to do with him.
   Victor straightened. “I’d like you to take on Mrs. O’Leary as a private patient. Consider it a personal favor to me.”
   Matthew frowned, the word private ringing all sorts of alarm bells. “Is Mr. O’Leary having his wife transferred here?”
   Victor regarded him steadily. “No. I want you to go to him. He lives on a large estate on Long Island, and there’d be—”
   “Absolutely not.” Matthew stalked to the small rectangular window high on the wall that looked out at street level. He stared at the feet walking past on the sidewalk, his heart pumping unevenly in his chest. How could Victor suggest such a thing? He knew how much helping the soldiers meant to Matthew. The slightest delay in their therapy could set their progress back by weeks, even months. “I can’t abandon my patients here.”
   “Dr. Marlboro can fill in until you return.”
   Matthew whirled. “Dr. Marlboro has no idea of the type of work I’m doing with these men.”
   Victor didn’t blink. “You could fill him in before you leave.”
   Matthew opened his mouth, prepared to list all the reasons why that would be impossible. At the steely look in Victor’s eyes, he stopped. No use wasting his breath on explanations when his boss would simply counter every one. “It’s out of the question, Victor. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to prepare for my next patient.”
   “Did you not mention just last week that the need for your services is dwindling? That you’re considering a new direction for your practice? This could be your chance to test your tech­niques on someone paralyzed by a stroke.”
   It was true. The number of his patients had lessened. Most had reached the maximum benefit possible, while several still relied on their sessions to keep their muscles from atrophying. For Matthew’s practice to remain vital, he would have to ex­pand his clientele. Yet the thought of such a drastic change, of possibly having to move to another facility, made him shudder.
   “I’m sorry, Victor. Perhaps if she were to come here, I would consider it, but I simply cannot leave the city right now.” Not with Phoebe in such a fragile state. Perspiration gathered under Matthew’s collar while he held Victor’s stare.
   At last, Victor inclined his head. “I understand this is a big decision. Especially given your personal circumstances. But I’m asking you to think it over. James O’Leary is like a brother to me. If I can do something to help him, I have to try.”
   Once the door closed, Matthew expelled a long breath. This was one battle his mentor wouldn’t win. No matter how indebted he was to the man, Matthew would never leave Toronto, never leave Phoebe, to cater to one rich, entitled woman.
   His daughter and his fellow soldiers needed him far too much for that.
Susan Anne Mason, Love's Faithful Promise Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016.

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***Thank you author Susan Anne Mason for a review copy through Bethany House Publishers of the third book in her Courage to Dream series surrounding Irish Meadows! This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Irish Meadows  A Worthy Heart  Love's Faithful Promise

Monday, September 19, 2016

This Road We Traveled by Jane Kirkpatrick, © 2016

Tabitha Moffat Brown traveled west from St. Charles, Missouri in 1846 to the new Oregon Territory. Fearing her son and daughter’s families would leave her behind, she funded her own wagon, convinced her 78 year old brother-in-law to go with her and hired a driver. She was 66 years old. Her story of survival while on an ill-fated cutoff into Oregon is legend in Oregon’s history.--author Jane Kirkpatrick
Cover Art
Virgilia had so little time to herself she wasn't sure she knew how to be frivolous, but she liked the idea of trying to find something that mattered that she could take. She'd be sure to take the pewter icing knife. Surely she'd be able to bake cakes.
   --This Road We Traveled, 66.
Going West from your Missouri home, how would you manage? Would you have a particular keepsake that is a part of you? As the deciding goes on, what would be left behind? A memory, a hope, a love not known?

Opening up the new country, Orus Brown returned to Missouri to encourage others to join the settlement he is now part of in Oregon. Engaging others in St. Charles to follow the wide open spaces of 640 acres granted ~ all those with exception of his mother, Tabitha (Tabby) Moffat Brown. What would be behind his refusal to take her along?

1846,  St. Charles, Missouri
Not to be detoured into sameness, Tabby goes to see her son, Manthano, as the youngest and separated part of her family a hundred miles away. Part of the deciding factor to travel to Oregon, she finds Orus has already been there to talk with him. The decision is hers to make now.Image result for the applegate trail

Eight months later, Oregon
Arriving finally at their destination, determined and agreeable to settle, Tabby begins anew the venture of her life. Where is she to choose to go? To nearer Salem, with her daughter Pherne and her family, or continuing on to the settlement of her son Orus? The arduous journey has brought changes and growth.

Enjoy this excerpt from Jane Kirkpatrick's novel, This Road We Traveled ~


November 1846
Southern Oregon Trail

It was a land of timber, challenge, and trepidation, forcing struggles beyond any she had known, and she’d known many in her sixty-six years. But Tabitha Moffat Brown decided at that moment with wind and snow as companions in this dread that she would not let the last entry in her memoir read “Cold. Starving. Separated.” Instead she inhaled, patted her horse’s neck. The snow was as cold as a Vermont lake and threatening to cover them nearly as deep while she decided. She’d come this far, lived this long, surely this wasn’t the end God intended.
   Get John back up on his horse. If she couldn’t, they’d both perish.
   The elderly man in his threadbare coat and faded vest sank to his knees. At least he hadn’t wandered off when he’d slid from his horse. His white hair lay wet and coiled at his neck beneath a rain-drenched hat. His shoulder bones stuck out like a scarecrow’s, sticks from lack of food and lost hope.
   “You can’t stop, John. Not now. Not yet.” Wind whistled through the pines and her teeth chattered. “Captain!” She needed to sound harsh, but she nearly cried, his name stuck in the back of her throat. This good man, who these many months on the trail had become more than a brother-in-law, he had to live. He couldn’t die, not here, not now. “Captain! Get up. Save your ship.”
   He looked up at her, eyes filled with recognition and resignation. “Go, Tabby. Save yourself.”
   “Where would I go without you, John Brown? Fiddlesticks. You’re the captain. You can’t go down with your ship. I won’t allow it.”
   “Ship?” His eyes took on a glaze. “But the barn is so warm. Can’t you smell the hay?”
   Barn? Hay? Trees as high as heaven marked her view, shrubs thick and slowing as a nightmare clogged their path, and all she smelled was wet forest duff, starving horseflesh, and for the first time in her life that she could remember, fear.
   Getting upset with him wouldn’t help. She wished she had her walking stick to poke at him. Her hands ached from cold despite her leather gloves. She could still feel the reins. That was good. What a pair they were: he, old and bent and hallucinating; she, old and lame and bordering on defeat. Her steadfast question, what do I control here, came upon her like an unspoken prayer. Love and do good. She must get him warm or he’d die.
   With her skinny knees, she pushed her horse closer to where John slouched, all hope gone from him. Snow collected on his shoulders like moth-eaten epaulets. “John. Listen to me. Grab your cane. Pull yourself up. We’ll make camp. Over there, by that tree fall.” She pointed. “Come on now. Do it for the children. Do it for me.”
   “Where are the children?” He stared up at her. “They’re here?”
   She would have to slide off her horse and lead him to shelter herself. And if she failed, if her feet gave out, if she couldn’t bring him back from this tragic place with warmth and water and, yes, love, they’d both die and earn their wings in Oregon country. It was not what Tabitha Moffat Brown had in mind. And what she planned for, she could make happen. She always had . . . until now.

Part One

Tabby’s Plan

St. Charles, Missouri

Tabitha Moffat Brown read the words aloud to Sarelia Lucia to see if she’d captured the rhythm and flow. “Feet or wings: well, feet, of course. As a practical matter we’re born with limbs, so they have a decided advantage over the wistfulness of wings. Oh, we’ll get our wings one day, but not on this earth, though I’ve met a few people who I often wondered about their spirit’s ability to rise higher than the rest of us in their goodness, your grandfather being one of those, dear Sarelia. Feet hold us up, help us see the world from a vantage point that keeps us from becoming self- centered—one of my many challenges, that self-centered portion. I guess the holding up too. I’ve had to use a cane or walking stick since I was a girl.”
   “How did that happen, Gramo?” The nine-year-old child with the distinctive square jaw put the question to her.
   “I’ll tell you about the occasion that brought that cane into my life and of the biggest challenges of my days . . . but not in this section. I know that walking stick is a part of my feet, it seems, evidence that I was not born with wings.” She winked at her granddaughter.
   “When will you get to the good parts, where you tell of the greatest challenge of your life, Gramo? That’s what I want to hear.”
   “I think this is a good start, don’t you?”
   “Well . . .”
   “Just you wait.”
   Tabitha dipped her goose quill pen into the ink, then pierced the air with her weapon while she considered what to write next.
   “Write the trouble stories down, Gramo. So I have them to read when I’m growed up.”
   “When you’re grown up.”
   “Yes, then. And I’ll write my stories for you.” A smile that lifted to her dark eyes followed. “I want to know when trouble found you and how you got out of it. That’ll help me when I get into trouble.”
   “Will it? You won’t get into scrapes, will you?” Tabby grinned. “We’ll both sit and write for a bit.” The child agreed and followed her grandmother’s directions for paper and quill.
   The writing down of things, the goings-on of affairs in this year of 1845, kept Tabby’s mind occupied while she waited for the second half of her life to begin. Tabby’s boys deplored studious exploits, which had always bothered her, so she wanted to nurture this grandchild—and all children’s interest in writing, reading, and arithmetic. So far, the remembering of days gone by had served another function: a way of organizing what her life was really about. She was of an age for such reflection, or so she’d been told.
   Whenever her son Orus Brown returned from Oregon to their conclave in Missouri, she expected real ruminations about them all going west—or not. Perhaps in her pondering she’d discover whether she should go or stay, and more, why she was here on this earth at all, traveling roads from Connecticut southwest to Missouri and maybe all the way to the Pacific. Wasn’t wondering what purpose one had walking those roads of living a worthy pursuit? And there it was again: walking those roads. For her it always was a question of feet or wings.
   Sarelia had gone home long ago, but Tabby had kept writing. Daylight soon washed out the lamplight in her St. Charles, Missouri, home, and she paused to stare across the landscape of scrub oak and butternut. Once they’d lived in the country, but now the former capital of Missouri spread out along the river, and Tabby’s home edged both city and country. A fox trip-tripped across the yard. Still, Tabby scratched away, stopping only when she needed to add water to the powder to make more ink. She’d have to replace the pen soon, too, but she had a good supply of those. Orus, her firstborn, saw to that, making her several dozen before he left for Oregon almost two years ago now. He was a good son. She prayed for his welfare and wondered anew at Lavina’s stamina managing all their children while they waited. Well, so was Manthano a good son, though he’d let himself be whisked away by that woman he fell in love with and rarely came to visit. Still, he was a week’s ride away. Children. She shook her head in wistfulness. Pherne, on the other hand, lived just down a path. And it was Pherne, her one and only daughter, who also urged her to write her autobiography. “Your personal story, Mama. How you and Papa met, where you lived, even the wisdom you garnered.”
   Wisdom. She relied on memory to tell her story and memory proved a fickle thing. She supposed her daughter wanted her to write so she wouldn’t get into her daughter’s business. That happened with older folks sometimes when they lacked passions of their own. She wanted her daughter to know how much being with her and the children filled her days. Maybe not to let her know that despite her daughter’s stalwart efforts, she was lonely at times, muttering around in her cabin by herself, talking to Beatrice, her pet chicken, who followed her like a shadow. She was committed to not being a burden on her children. Oh, she helped a bit by teaching her grandchildren, but one couldn’t teach children all day long. Of course lessons commenced daily long, but the actual sitting on chairs, pens and ink in hand, minds and books open, that was education at its finest but couldn’t fill the day. The structure, the weaving of teacher and student so both discovered new things, that was the passion of her life, wasn’t it?
   Still, she was intrigued by the idea of recalling and writing down ordinary events that had helped define her. Could memory bring back the scent of Dear Clark’s hair tonic or the feel of the tweed vest he wore, or the sight of his blue eyes that sparkled when he teased and preached? She’d last seen those eyes in life twenty-eight years ago. She had thought she couldn’t go on a day without him, but she’d done it nearly thirty years. What had first attracted her to the man? And how did she end up from a life in Stonington, Connecticut, begun in 1780, to a widow in Maryland, looking after her children and her own mother, and then on to Missouri in 1824 and still there in winter 1845? Was this where she’d die?
   “‘A life that is worth writing at all, is worth writing minutely and truthfully.’ Longfellow.” She penned it in her memoir. This was a truth, but perhaps a little embellishment now and then wouldn’t hurt either. A story should be interesting after all.

   His beard reached lower than his throat. Orus, Tabby’s oldest son, came to her cabin first. At least she assumed he had, as none of his children nor Pherne’s had rushed through the trees to tell her that he’d already been to Lavina’s or Virgil and Pherne’s place. It was midmorning, and her bleeding hearts drooped in the August heat.
   “I’m alive, Mother.” He removed his hat, and for a moment Tabby saw her deceased husband’s face pressed onto this younger version, the same height, nearly six feet tall, and the same dark hair, tender eyes.
   “So you are, praise God.” She searched his brown eyes for the sparkle she remembered, reached to touch his cheek, saw above his scruffy beard a red-raised scar. “And the worse for wear, I’d say.”
   “I’ll tell of all that later. I’m glad to see you among the living as well.”
   “Come in. Don’t stand there shy.”
   He laughed and entered, bending through her door. “Shyness is not something usually attached to my name.”
   “And how did you find Oregon? Let me fix you tea. Have you had breakfast?”
   “No time. And remarkable. Lush and verdant. The kind of place to lure a man’s soul and keep him bound forever. No to breakfast. I’ve much to do.”
   “So we’ll be heading west then?”
   For an instant his bright eyes flickered and he looked beyond her before he said, “Yes. I expect so.” He kissed her on her hair doily then, patted her back, and said he’d help her harness the buggy so she could join him at Lavina’s. “I’m anxious to spend time with my wife and children. Gather with us today.”
   “I can do the harnessing myself. No tea?”
   “Had some already. Just wanted the invite to come from me.”
   “An invite?”
   He nodded, put his floppy hat back on. “At our place. I’ve stories to tell.”
   “I imagine you do. Off with you, then. I’ll tend Beatrice and harness my Joey.”
   “That chicken hasn’t found the stew pot yet?”
   “Hush! She’ll hear you.” She pushed at him. “Take Lavina in your arms and thank her for the amazing job she’s done while you gallivanted around new country. I’ll say a prayer of thanksgiving that you’re back safely.”
   “See you in a few hours then.”
   “Oh, I’ll arrive before that. What do you take me for, an old woman?” Beatrice clucked. “Keep your opinions to yourself.”
   Orus laughed, picked his mother up in a bear hug, and set her down. “It’s good to see you, Marm. I thought of you often.” He held her eyes, started to speak. Instead he sped out the door, mounting his horse in one fluid movement, reminding her of his small-boy behavior of rarely sitting still, always in motion. Wonder where his pack string is? She scooped up Beatrice, buried her nose in her neck feathers, inhaling the scent that always brought comfort.
   But what was that wariness she’d witnessed in her son’s eyes when she suggested that they’d all head west? She guessed she’d find out soon enough.
Jane Kirkpatrick, This Road We Traveled Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016.
Image result for prairie schooner oregon trail

Jane Kirkpatrick takes us on a perilous factor of choices made by real people and their outcomes by stories passed on through faith and diligence. Part of the story I am saying, "No, don't go that way!" Have you been cautioned and chose your own way? We learn from the past, to go forward.

I always learn so much from her stories. Perseverance,  triumphs and failures, the drive to go ahead, mending of ways, a truth revealed. A time past applicable to today. For there is nothing new under the sun. Overcoming obstacles, encouraging others, an unexplored land, a dream. It is interesting that in the research other figures from previous stories written have met each other ~ crossing paths happened upon unsuspectingly until sought out.

Author Jane Kirkpatrick and her husband, Jerry, live in Central Oregon. Learn more at her website.

***Thank you to Revell Reads for inviting me to be part of the book tour for Jane Kirkpatrick's This Road We Traveled and for sending a review copy to me. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer, © 2016

This is a work of fiction. Apart from well-known people, events, and locales that figure into the narrative, all names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination and are used fictitiously.  --The publisher.

a historical mystery

I so enjoyed Thief of Glory written by this author, that I looked forward to reading this novel, Saffire. He writes with truisms ~ a self-evident, obvious truth. Truth evident in the ruins.

the east-west passage between two oceans 1909
Sigmund Brouwer
Photo © Reba Baskett
A simple helping someone becomes the focus of his character, James Holt. Drawn in simply to help ~ turns his life around beyond what he could have ever imagined his life would become.

The Panama Canal Mystery
"The Panama Canal Mystery"
I like how Sigmund Brouwer writes like he is divulging a secret to you as if you are sitting in a room of people silently and he has chosen you to share his confidences with. You are privy to information only shared by his antagonist in strictest confidence. Along with the three men in the closed room, chapter six will reveal an outline of intent that will change everything known. You look up and everyone else continues to expand their day, walking about, talking, so unaware of what is actually happening. For it is actual and the room closes back in as you listen.

You have one question in the back of your mind. Will Saffire still be hanging around waiting for James Holt's exit? For there is contact, lest the title be obscure ~ which you are certain it will not be. Saffire with no p and no h but just as brilliant and standing out without a word.
"Your secret is safe with me. I have no one to tell and I'll be gone tomorrow."
   --Saffire, 147.
Everyone came with the same intent ~ to fill their coffers. Everyone hoped to leave different than they came; possibly not within their own realm of expectation.

I liked the historical descriptions throughout ~ educational, along with the intrigue of the story.

***Thank you, Blogging for Books, for sending me a copy of Sigmund Brouwer's Saffire to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

                     Honoring and Promoting Excellence in Christian Fiction
2015 Book of the Year: Christy Awards
Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)