Monday, August 27, 2012

NEW!! View Book Trailer for the FOUR books in the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series by Mona Hodgson, c2012

Yes! Come celebrate. The final book of this series is here! Close! October 2, 2012 marks the date of the unveiling of Twice a Bride by Mona Hodgson.
author, Mona Hodgson
Notice ~*~ Notice ~*~ Notice
The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series is complete!!
 View this video book trailer featuring the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek:
You will soon be able to get your very own copy of  Book 4, the final book in the series. Twice a Bride releases October 2, 2012 from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. This video was beautiful. Didn't you feel like you were there and could smell the fresh mountain air? I am eager to meet Willow in this final story.

You haven't read the first three books in this series by author Mona Hodgson?? Have you seen these covers?

Two Brides Too Many by HODGSON, MONA
Book 1 Kat and Nell Sinclair head west.

Too Rich for a Bride by HODGSON, MONA
Book 2 Ida Sinclair joins her sisters
Two sisters, two missing misters.
Ida wants a career, not a husband. Her sisters--and God have other plans.
The Bride Wore Blue by HODGSON, MONA
Book 3 Vivian the youngest sister arrives
Twice a Bride by HODGSON, MONA
Book 4 ??
Headed toward a fresh start but tethered by her past, Vivian longs to break free and find forgiveness and love.
You will want to come and meet these delightful sisters and find out what their dad has in store for him during his visit to Cripple Creek, Colorado. 
I know I am looking forward to finding out the conclusion of this story! Here is my overview of this series:

I really liked getting to meet these sisters. They were brave to set out on a plan not originally orchestrated by them, moving from Maine to Colorado to an unknown land. They each use what they see as their gifting to overcome obstacles and set their course. It sure works better when they adhere to Jeremiah 29:11!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I liked the spunk and character of each and their adjustments and readjustments. They have had a good upbringing and leaning toward each other. I know it will have a very satisfying ending. Not without trials, they overcome adversity and find their way.
"Oh give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain. Through God we will do valiantly, and it is He who shall tread down our adversaries." Psalm 108:12-13
I like their journey and what they learn along the way. There is wisdom for all of us to be gleaned and applied. 
Visit Mona at Thank you Mona Hodgson for a series I will want to pick up and read again. They are keepers, so you will want to put your name in them when you loan them out and ask that they be returned to you! Or better yet... give other copies as gifts. Christmas is coming soon. Just think. You can have a read-along while the game is on this holiday season! Enjoy!

~*~ Here's something you will want to know! ~*~
You can join Mona's celebration this week at Congratulations on completing this wonderful series, Mona!"

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cradle My Heart: Finding God's Love After Abortion by Kim Ketola, c2012

"Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." --Romans 6:4
Link to buy the book:

About the Book: 
Abortion continues to be a hot topic in politics, women’s rights, and medical practice. But for the eight to ten million American Christian women who have had one, abortion is a spiritual issue as well, raising questions of life and death, heaven and hell, grief and loss.

Writing from her own experience, Kim Ketola sheds light on one of the darkest and most neglected personal issues of our time: the widespread need for healing and spiritual recovery after abortion. “After abortion brought the worst trouble into my life I had ever known,” writes Ketola, “I just couldn’t see my way free to believe in God’s love.”

With a compassionate heart, Ketola offers ten true stories of healing promise from the Bible to help women answer the most common spiritual torments they face: Is abortion a sin? Does God hate me? Where can I turn in my shame and distress? How could I ever tell anyone the truth? And more.

Inspired by Romans 6:4--“just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life"--this is a definitive resource to help women see themselves and God anew and--finally--to find spiritual healing.

Information for Live Webcast Event | Cradle My Heart:
In coordination with the launch of their fall releases, Kregel will be hosting a live webcast event on September 20 at 8 PM EDT featuring authors Kim Ketola (Cradle My Heart), Teske Drake (Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow), and Dawn Scott Jones (When a Woman You Love Was Abused). The webcast will allow women to come together to share their struggles and fears in order to move toward healing and hope. Women will able to support one another and discuss shared experiences in a non-threatening, open and loving environment.

Cat Hoort of Kregel says, "We are seeking to provide safe means for Christian women to be vulnerable with each other, to seek help and guidance from authors and counselors, and to find encouragement from those who have shared similar experiences. Our hope is that the Women Redeemed webcast will become a forum for hurting women as well as for those who can help. Kim, Teske, and Dawn are all survivors and their stories will surely inspire and equip other women to move toward healing and hope."

To register for the event, just click here. {} 

Visit her website: or send an email to
Kim Ketola is a sought-after writer and motivational speaker with the Ruth Graham and Friends conference. After thirty years in the broadcasting industry, she founded a nonprofit organization through which she presents professionally  accredited conferences to equip counselors and help individuals recover from the emotional and spiritual wounds of abortion. Kim lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Help after abortion on Cradle My Heart Radio:
If you've had an abortion, where can you share your story with someone who will listen and understand, someone who will be a true friend in faith? Join us for Cradle My Heart Radio Sunday evenings at 8 starting September 9. Hosted by Kim Ketola author of Cradle My Heart, Finding God's Love After Abortion.

Litfuse Group Blog Tours:

My Review:
"Loving God and bowing to embrace his truth is meant to change us. It's meant to show us we had completely lost our way. Like someone lost in the woods, just wishing we had a different compass reading can never help us locate true north. Embracing reality and setting a new course is our only hope. Falling to the feet of Jesus, who can lead us home, is the only way. He is our guide, our spiritual compass, his kindness our door to God's presence and peace."
--Cradle My Heart, page 118
You will find this book freeing in sharing how God has set free the captive. Whether you have had an abortion, know someone who has, or you are counseling someone, being brought back into His presence is the answer to questions man cannot answer. How loving and direct is this book to touch your heart and open to hearing His voice. No sin is greater than His redeeming sacrifice for us. He loves us with an everlasting love. We are His.
"When we let Jesus lead us then through repentance, new emotions pour forth. Rejoicing replaces grieving and love replaces languishing in guilt, regret, and remorse. We become eager to clear ourselves, alarmed about our sin, determined to stop harming others, and poised to live a new life (2 Cor. 7:10-11)."
--Cradle My Heart, page 119
Biblical examples are given of those "who encountered Jesus and then fell, kneeled, or bowed down at His feet." (Ibid., p. 120.) How He loves us. There is a Reflect-Request-Respond at the end of each chapter.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
   and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
   he lifted them up and carried them
   all the days of old.
                                          Isaiah 63:9

Here are the Contents of Cradle My Heart:

      Foreward / Open Eyes and Hearts by Ruth Graham
      Introduction / At the Heart of Things

Part One: Your Heart
 1    An Examination / Do you want to get well?
 2    An Invitation / What are you thirsting for?
 3    An Open Conversation / Who are you listening to now?

Part Two: God's Heart
 4    A Demonstration / Do you believe your heart can change?
 5    A Realization / Can you believe this forgiveness?
 6    A Restoration / Can you love again?
 7    A Jubilation / Can you believe your baby is in heaven?

Part Three: The Whole Heart
 8    A Consolation / Where have you laid him?
 9    A Dedication / Will you rise again?
10   A Celebration / What would you give out of love?

      Appendix A / Helpful Resources
      Appendix B / Study and Discussion Questions

I received a copy of Cradle My Heart as part of the Litfuse Group Blog Tours in exchange for this review in my own words.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pre-order a GREAT book and be entered to win a $50 gift card for more books!

With Every Letter Midnight Madness 8/23-8/31! 
Sarah Sundin Preorder With Every LetterSarah Sundin's brand new book, With Every Letter, releases on September 1, 2012. To celebrate, Sarah is hosting the Midnight Madness Promotion!

Pre-order or purchase a copy of the book by midnight on August 31, 2012 and be one of the first to read Book One of her new Wings of the Nightingale series. AND as a Thank You for pre-ordering or purchasing With Every Letter you'll be entered to win a $50 gift card to, Barnes and Noble or (winner's choice!). 

All you have to do is pre-order or purchase With Every Letter and send an e-mail with the following information to sarah{at} :

1. Your Name

2. Where you ordered or purchased it from

3. Your email address.

That's it. Easy. 

Here are the pre-order links:

Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Legal Mumbo Jumbo:
**No Purchase Required** While I'd love for you to purchase the book, it's not necessary to enter the contest. Just send me an e-mail to be entered. Winners will be chosen at random from entries. E-mail me at sarah{at} to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/4/2012. Contest open to US residents only.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thomas Nelson: The Open Bible New King James Version Red Letter Edition: Read and Discover the Bible for Yourself

Opening this Signature Series NKJV Bible for the first time, I am thankful immediately to see these:

The section on How to Study the Bible has interesting ideas for having a family Bible study time. Here are a few mentioned suggestions that stood out to me:
* one brief chapter or several paragraphs a day
* have each member read a verse
* study Bible topics
* tell what the verse teaches
* what this verse means or how it can be applied to personal life
* make up Bible game questions
* study a Bible book together
These are reachable including all ages within a family.

My very first King James Bible from Royal Publishing had a Biblical Cyclopedic Index I used extensively, along with the Concordance in the back. This NKJV Open Bible has a 3-column 300-page Biblical Cyclopedic Index in the front! Another feature is the exact same as I received in a separate little book: Guide to Christian Workers. I am glad to see these included in this Bible.

The intent of this study Bible is to make the Scriptures open and rewarding for personal Bible study, giving an overview of the whole Bible message. The pages are set in two-column regular print with references placed within the column. Here is Esther 2:15-20:

Selection of Queen Esther
 15 Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 
 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
 17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal Rcrown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esth. 1:11
 18 Then the king Rmade a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the Tgenerosity of a king. Esth. 1:3 Lit. hand
 19 When virgins were gathered together a second time, Mordecai sat within the king’s gate.
 20 RNow Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her, for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by him. Esth. 2:10

Further references of The Christian's Guide to the New Life are placed at the bottom of a page to be used as a monthly, daily, or topical study.

About Thomas Nelson

Old Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson Bibles is one of the oldest Bible publishers in the world, and is the largest publisher of the King James Version. They are the proprietary publisher of the NKJV™, NCV™, and The Voice™ translations, and specialize in offering Bibles, reference, and curriculum products from today's great communicators. They pull from their long legacy of Bible publishing to offer quality products that speak to the heart of people by helping to meet their needs.

The vision of Thomas Nelson Bible Group is to be the world leader in Bible publishing - to honor God and inspire all people. They aim to accomplish this by delivering exceptional biblical content and tools that connect people with God's Word in new ways, while serving their partners and customers with passion and commitment.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for this hardback copy of The NKJV Open Bible in exchange for this review in my own words.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Know Your Ministry: Spiritual Gifts for Every Believer by Marilyn Hickey with Sarah Bowling, c2012

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:
Know Your Ministry:
Spiritual Gifts for Every Believer 
Whitaker House (June 26, 2012)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Encouraging, optimistic, upbeat and energetic are just a few of the words used to describe her, and at age 80, Marilyn Hickey is still going strong. In recent years, she's ministered in Sudan, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, India, China and Pakistan. She's been to 130 countries over the past 50 years and hopes to visit many more. She also speaks in cities across the U.S. for Bible Encounters and at miracle breakfasts. Founder and president of Marilyn Hickey Ministries, many have heard her on radio, seen her on TV, or read one of her many books, pamphlets, or Bible study guides over the years. Most recently she has released The Names of God, Spiritual Warfare, Total Healing, and Your Pathway to Miracles with Whitaker House. Marilyn and her husband, Wallace Hickey, are the founding pastors of Orchard Road Christian Center, Denver, Colorado. They have two grown children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Sarah Bowling is Wallace and Marilyn Hickey's daughter--her mission is to make a radical, eternal difference in today's world. She is a Bible teacher, international speaker, author, senior pastor and founder of Saving Moses, an organization dedicated to reducing infant mortality worldwide. Sarah serves as vice president of Marilyn Hickey Ministries and co-host with her mother on the TV show Today with Marilyn and Sarah which reaches 2.2 billion households worldwide. Sarah and husband Reece are senior pastors at Orchard Road Christian Center, Denver. Sarah has taught, traveled, and ministered in over 40 countries at Bible Encounters, healing meetings, and women's, pastors', and leaders conferences.

Visit the author website.

Know Your Ministry
In Know Your Ministry: Spiritual Gifts for Every Believer, renowned Bible teacher Marilyn Hickey with her daughter Sarah Bowling collaborate to present an enlightening overview of the seven foundational gifts of the Holy Spirit found in Romans 12. They demonstrate how the passage offers insights on discovering one s gifts and calling from God through personal examples, biblical illustrations, and practical application, and lead the reader to discover his or her primary gift. Once identified, the authors explain how one's core gift relates to and works in tandem with other gifts and how it fits into God's purposes in the wider Body of Christ. The authors offer direction and encouragement on how to apply and act in one's area of giftedness, how to renew enthusiasm for serving others, and how to be being fruitful while carrying out God's purpose in life.

Genre: Christian Living
Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (June 26, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603745025
ISBN-13: 978-1603745024


Chapter 1
The Foundational Gifts
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
—Romans 12:4–5
Know Your Ministry: Spiritual Gifts for Every Believer will help you to discover your purpose and destiny. You may think that is a bold statement, and it is. But I can make it based on the Word of God and on my own experiences through the years, as I have applied this enlightening teaching about the foundational gifts to my own life and also taught others how to apply it to theirs. Likewise, I can make this statement with assurance: reading this book will be a very personal experience for you as you learn more about who God has marvelously created you to be.
Most people want to know their purpose. Nobody wants to just stumble around in life. At some point, we all wonder, “What am I meant to do on this earth? What direction am I supposed to take?” If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know when you get there, and your life will be out of sync.
       To answer the above questions, we must understand that we have a corporate purpose, as well as a personal one. As believers, we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5). God has called each of us to a special role in the body of Christ, for the mutual benefit of all. Confusion over their unique roles is a primary reason why people lack purpose.
Uncertainty About Our Callings
Many times, we try to operate in areas of ministry or vocation to which we have not been called. We may try to imitate ministries we admire because of our uncertainty about our own places in the body of Christ. The results can be devastating: we become frustrated and discouraged and do a disservice to the people to whom we are trying to minister.
For example, have you ever come across a particular ministry and decided, “I’m going to do exactly what they are doing”? Many years ago, my husband, Wally, and I were assistant pastors at a church in Amarillo, Texas. Every morning at 9:00 a.m., several of us met to pray. One woman in particular was a true intercessor. After an hour of prayer, the rest of us were ready to stop—but she was just warming up! I admired her so much that I—not God—decided that I had a similar calling on my life. One day, I said to her, “God has called me to be an intercessor—just like you.”
But, to my surprise, she replied, “No, He hasn’t. You respect me, so you’re trying to latch onto my position in the body. Marilyn, you need to pray and ask God what He has really called you to do.” That was very wise spiritual advice that I am glad I listened to.
At other times, we may try to compete with other Christians. Before Wally and I entered the ministry, I met a woman who was a great soulwinner. She would go to a hospital to minister and end up leading ten to fifteen souls to Christ. I thought, If she can do it, I can, too! She won fifteen souls to Christ, so I’ll win twenty! Was that desire spiritually motivated? No. Actually, it was “carnal”—I was thinking according to the fallen nature rather than according to the Spirit. (See, for example, Romans 8:5–10.) I was trying to compete with my sister in the Lord. Why did I do that? Because I didn’t know where I belonged in the body of Christ.
At still other times, we may wonder why we don’t feel comfortable in the roles others expect us to fill. Before I understood the foundational gifts, I felt out of place, trying to fulfill a role that was not in line with the gifting God had given me.
My husband and I had started a church in Denver, Colorado, and the congregation had certain expectations of me. People often assume that a pastor’s wife ought to carry out specific functions in the life of the local church, and, sometimes, that was troublesome for me. For instance, many pastors’ wives seem to be musical. I am not. I didn’t play the piano or the organ, and I didn’t sing well. But the people thought I should lead the worship. Well, if I had led the worship, nobody would have worshipped! In addition, I was called upon to lead the women’s missions projects, which involved rolling bandages, making certain items for people who had leprosy, and sewing blankets for infants and children. These activities involved a lot of sewing, and I couldn’t sew well. Frankly, even though I knew such projects were very worthwhile, I found them boring.
What did I like to do? I liked to teach the Bible. So, I taught an adult Sunday school class. I also led home Bible studies, giving women an opportunity to invite their neighbors who were not Christians to meet and study the Bible over a cup of coffee and a cookie—and people would get saved!
Even though I loved teaching, I felt out of sync because, again, my abilities weren’t in line with those of many other women who were married to pastors. I thought I wasn’t a good pastor’s wife, and I felt very unspiritual. Yet my life was totally turned around when I learned about the foundational gifts. I saw what my gift was and how satisfied I was when I was operating in it, and I didn’t try to function primarily in the other six gifts, even though I did learn to operate in them more as I grew in my faith. I thought, I see who I am in the body: I’m a teacher. There is nothing wrong with my wanting to teach the Bible. I was so happy to see that God had made me that way. Before the foundation of the world, He planned to give me certain talents and abilities to use for Him. (See, for example, Psalm 139:13–16.)
This knowledge gave me a confidence in what God had prepared for me to do, as well as an ability to trust in the grace He had given me to accomplish it. It also released the measure of faith that God had already placed within me to function in my gift of teaching the Bible. (See Romans 12:3.) I realized that I wasn’t out of place; I wasn’t some “crazy” pastor’s wife who was going to hurt her husband and his ministry. On the contrary, I was going to be a blessing to my husband and to the church.
Seven Blessings from God to the Church
In order to be effective as we minister to others, we must know where we truly belong in the body. When you understand your spiritual purpose and recognize the spiritual power contained in that purpose, life is just awesome. It is encouraging and comforting. Why? Because you don’t have to compare yourself to anybody else or try to be somebody you are not. You will become the person God created you to be.
In this book, we’re going to discover the seven wonderful “foundational gifts” God has given the church: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, organization, and mercy. Seven is the number of completion, and the Bible says that we are complete in Christ. (See Colossians 2:10.)
I’ve been able to apply the truths of these foundational gifts to my life in exciting ways, and I’m eager for you to apply them to yours, too. I know they will help you to discover your God-given purpose and direction in life, just as they did for me.
And, as you study the foundational gifts, you will not only be able to identify your own gifts, but you will also gain insight about and respect for other people in the body of Christ. You will see what motivates your brothers and sisters in the Lord, and you will clearly understand how much you need them. In fact, when you observe the seven gifts in operation throughout the body of Christ, you will see Jesus’ complete ministry. Sometimes, we want to be the “Lone Ranger”—we want to ride into the sunset, calling, “Hi-ho Silver, away!” In other words, we want to do it all. But we need each other; and, if every gift is not in operation, we miss the completeness of Christ.
You may be thinking, Is it possible for me to have more than one foundational gift? As you study the gifts described in the following chapters, you may—and probably will—recognize that certain traits of more than one gift are operational in your life. Most of us are used in a number of ways when we make ourselves available to Jesus for His purposes. But there will be one gift (possibly two) that you will identify with most closely and be most comfortable exercising, and through which you will obtain the most success in ministering to others. This gift is your greatest strength. Whether it is prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, organization, or mercy, it is your foundational gift.
At the end of this book, there is a gifts assessment test, entitled the “Foundational (Motivational) Gifts Evaluation,” which we have used successfully at Marilyn Hickey Ministries for many years. It will help you to confirm your primary foundational gift. It will also indicate your secondary gift—the one in which you are the next strongest.
When you see what your primary gifting is, you will begin to recognize and understand God’s purpose for your life. This is why knowing your gifting is vital. And, once you have identified your gift, you will notice how it flows through all your spiritual activity within the body. For example, if you counsel others, and your foundational gift is mercy, you will be a merciful counselor. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in this study of the foundational gifts. He will reveal your perfect position within the body of Christ.
Through the seven foundational gifts listed in Romans 12, God has shown us in a beautiful way that each of us does, indeed, have a divine purpose and destiny. What is your purpose? What is the power for living and for ministry that He has placed in your life? It is found in one of the foundational gifts explained in the following pages. I invite you to pray now that you will come to recognize your gift as you read Know Your Ministry: Spiritual Gifts for Every Believer.
Dear heavenly Father,
I thank You for giving me a unique foundational gift. I realize that it is not through my own works, but through Your grace, that I have received this gift. Father, I promise to be available to minister in my gift whenever You call me to do so. And I promise to keep my mind renewed to Your Word, so that I will know what Your perfect will is. Now, Father, as I study the various foundational gifts, I ask that Your Holy Spirit would reveal to me the identity of my unique, special gift. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Angel of the Cove by Sandra Robbins, c2012

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:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town in Tennessee where she grew up. They count their four children and five grandchildren as the greatest blessings in their lives. Her published books include stories in historical romance and romantic suspense. When not writing or spending time with her family, Sandra enjoys reading, collecting flow blue china, and playing the piano.

Visit the author's website.


Anna Prentiss wants to be a nurse, but first she has to spend a summer in Cades Cove apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself…but she never expected to fall in love with the Cove. Has God’s plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948848
ISBN-13: 978-0736948845

Anna Prentiss has aspirations of being a nurse in the big city. What will the fresh air and mountain valley folk do to change the dreams of her heart? Or exemplify them? Angel of the Cove is the first book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series.

Anna took a deep breath and inhaled the heavy, sweet smell that drifted from the forests on either side of the road. --page 6, Angel of the Cove

I am in! I am so in, being the visual person I am. Just close your eyes and visualize the cool air and breathe it in! For our vision is with all our senses beyond all we can know. A gift. Just for us. Can't you just see the deep, deep green of the forest around you!

New things to learn and apply. Anna becomes an apprentice to Granny, the wise woman of the Cove, to match up to her name: A. Prentiss. Join in with her adventures as she finds the depths of her heart probed and stretched. Love hurts sometimes but grows us into who we are.

"God gives us lots of things we don't notice 'cause we're too busy lookin' in the wrong places. Sometimes He's got a blessing waitin' right under our noses."

It's 1894, and Anna Prentiss has never wanted to be anything but a nurse. But before she can start school in New York her brother sends her to Cades Cove, deep in the Smoky Mountains, to spend a summer apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself and then head to the big city.

But nothing could have prepared Anna for the beauty of the Cove, or the community and friendships she finds there. And she certainly wasn't prepared for Simon Martin, the handsome young minister, or the feelings he arouses in her. Has God's plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?

In the first book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins weaves a tale of love, loss, and God's faithfulness in every circumstance.


Mountain air was supposed to be cool. At least that’s what she’d always heard.

     Anna Prentiss couldn’t be sure because she’d never been this far into the mountains before. But if truth be told, they still had a fair piece to go before they reached the hills that rolled off into the distance.

     The narrow dirt road that led them closer to those hills twisted and bumped its way along. The June heat had dried out the winter mud in this part of Tennessee and produced a dust that threatened to choke her, roiling up and around the buggy. Anna covered her mouth with the lace handkerchief her mother had tucked in her dress pocket and sneezed. The smudge left on the cloth made her wonder what her face must look like.

    She glanced at Uncle Charles, her father’s brother, who sat beside her on the leather seat of the buggy. Perspiration had cut meandering, dusty trails down his cheeks, but he didn’t appear to notice. His attention was focused on trying to avoid the holes that dotted the road.

    She wiped at her face once more before stuffing the handkerchief back in her pocket. It really didn’t matter what she looked like. There was no one to see her. The only living creatures she’d seen all day were some white-tailed deer that had run across the road in front of them and a fox that had peered at her from his dusky hiding place beside the road. In front of them trees lined the long roadway that twisted and turned like a lazy snake slithering deeper into the mountain wilderness. She’d come a long way from the farm in Strawberry Plains.
     A twinge of homesickness washed over her. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. The uneasy feeling lingered a moment, but with a determination she’d only recently acquired, she banished thoughts of those she’d left behind to the spot in her heart where her grief lay buried.

     Just then the buggy hit a hole, and Anna grabbed the seat to keep from bouncing onto the floorboard. Uncle Charles flicked the reins across the horse’s back and glanced at her, his spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose. Wispy gray hair stuck out from underneath a black hat.
     “Hold on. These roads can be a little rough. We had a hard winter up here.”
     Anna nodded, straightening herself on the buggy seat and studying her uncle’s profile. How many times had he ridden this way to take care of the mountain people he loved? He looked every bit the country doctor. His smooth hands, so unlike her father’s work-roughened ones, gripped the reins tighter as he grinned at her.
     The corner of his mouth curled downward when he smiled, just as her father’s had always done. That was the only similarity she’d ever seen in them, though. Uncle Charles used to say he got the brains and Poppa got the brawn. When she was a little girl, she wondered what he meant. But she knew no matter what it implied, the two brothers shared a bond like few she’d ever seen. And they were the only ones who’d ever encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.
     Anna took a deep breath and inhaled the heavy, sweet smell that drifted from the forests on either side of the road. She turned to Uncle Charles. “I’ve been noticing those white flowers that look like shrubs growing along the road. What are they?”
     “Those are our mountain rhododendron,” said Uncle Charles. “There are also pink and purple ones. Sometimes in the summer you can stand on a ridge and look across the mountains at the rhododendrons blooming, and it looks like somebody took a paintbrush and colored the world. It’s a mighty beautiful sight.”
     Anna swiveled in her seat again and looked at Uncle Charles. “Thank you for working out this trip for me.”
     A grin tugged at his mouth. “How many times would you say you’ve thanked me today?”
     “Not enough yet.”
     A sudden breeze ruffled the straw hat her mother had given her, and Anna grabbed the wide brim. After a moment she released it and pulled the handkerchief from her pocket again. Grasping it with both hands, she twisted the cloth until it stretched taut between her fingers. “I hope I don’t disappoint Mrs. Lawson.”
     He didn’t take his eyes off the road but shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about that. She’s been delivering babies in Cades Cove for a long time, and she’s glad to have an extra pair of hands. It’ll be good experience before you leave for nursing school in the fall.”
     The old anger rose in Anna’s throat. “Only if Robert agrees.” She spit out the barbed words as if they pierced the inside of her mouth. “Why does he have to be so selfish?” She clenched her fists tight together. Ever since their father’s death Robert had assumed the role as head of the family, and he took his responsibilities seriously. Too seriously, if you asked Anna. He never missed an opportunity to tell her how their father wasn’t around anymore to cater to her every whim. The first time he’d said that she felt as if he’d shattered her heart. The pieces had never mended as far as her relationship with him was concerned. But if things went as planned, she would soon be free of his authority.
     “I don’t want you to be angry with your brother, Anna. You may not understand his reasons, but he’s trying his best to be the head of your family. He’s still young and has a lot to learn, but he loves you and wants what’s best for you.”
     Anna crossed her arms and scowled. “All he wants is for me to stay on the farm and marry somebody he thinks will make a good husband.” Anna shook her head. “Well, that’s not what I want. Poppa promised me I’d be able to go. Robert has no right to keep that money hostage.”
     “I know. Your father would have been so proud to know you’ve been accepted.” Uncle Charles’s shoulders drooped with the sigh that drifted from his mouth. “Try to see it from his perspective. You’ve led a sheltered life on the farm, and Robert feels like you aren’t ready for what you’ll see and have to deal with in a big hospital in New York. You think you’ll be able to assist injured and dying people, but it’s different when you’re right there with somebody’s life in your hands. If you find you can’t do it, then Robert is out the money for your tuition, not to mention travel and living expenses.” He cocked a bushy eyebrow at Anna. “And he doesn’t need to be wasting money that can be put to good use on the farm.”
     “I know. He’s told me often enough.” Anna smoothed out her skirt and straightened in her seat. “I’m just thankful you came up with a plan that Robert agreed to. Spending the summer with Mrs. Lawson ought to prove I have the grit to handle New York.”
     “Remember you’ll need a good report from Granny Lawson.”
     Anna smiled. “You don’t have to worry about that. I’m going to listen to her and do everything she tells me, no matter how distasteful I think the task is.” She clenched her fists in her lap. “When I board that train for New York in the fall, it will all be worth it.”
     Uncle Charles shook his head and chuckled. “I’ll leave New York and all its hustle and bustle to you. I prefer to spend my time right here in these mountains.”
     Anna let her gaze rove over the trees on either side of the road. “Still, maybe you’ll come visit me someday. I can show off the maternity ward!”
     He flicked the reins across the horse’s back. “I’ve read a lot about that ward. First one in the country. You’ll be fortunate to work there. But don’t forget you may see a lot of babies born this summer while you’re at Granny’s cabin. And there’s not a better place in the world to learn about nursing. She can teach you things you would never learn at Bellevue. Listen to her and do what she says and you’ll be fine.”
     Anna nodded. “I will.” Her hat slipped to the side, and she reached up and straightened it. “I really can’t thank you enough, Uncle Charles. Everything’s coming together just the way I planned it, and nothing—not even Robert—is going to stand in my way.”
     Uncle Charles sucked in his breath and directed a frown at her. “Nothing? We can only follow the plan God has for us, Anna.”
     She settled back on the seat and cast her eyes over the hazy hills in front of them. “But that is God’s plan for me.”
     “And how do you know?”
     “Because it’s what I’ve dreamed about all my life. God’s never tried to change my mind.”
     “Maybe you’ve never listened to Him.” Uncle Charles stared at her a moment. “Like I said, pay attention to what Granny says. She’ll teach you how God uses those He’s chosen to take care of the sick. It isn’t all done with medicine, Anna. A lot of my medical successes—and Granny’s as well—have come about after a lot of prayer.”
     The buggy hit another bump, and Anna bounced straight up. As far as she could see, the rippling Smoky Mountains stretched out toward the horizon. A plume of wispy fog hung over the valleys. A strange world awaited her out there.
     Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the inn where they’d stayed in Pigeon Forge last night, had taken great pleasure in warning her of what she might face in Cades Cove this summer. Anna clasped her hands in her lap and glanced at Uncle Charles. “Mrs. Johnson said the folks who live in Cades Cove don’t take to strangers.”  
     Uncle Charles nodded. “That doesn’t surprise me. What else did she say?”
     Anna took a deep breath and brushed at the new layer of dust on her skirt. “Oh, not much. Just that everybody knows it’s a closed society in the Cove, but it doesn’t matter because no sensible person would want to live there anyway. She called the people there a strange lot.”
     Uncle Charles cocked an eyebrow and chuckled. “Is that right? I hope you didn’t believe her. I know every family in the Cove, and some of them are my good friends.” He hesitated a moment. “Of course you’re going to find some who cause problems—just like you would anywhere else.”
     “Like the moonshiners?”
     He turned to stare at her with wide eyes. “What did Mrs. Johnson tell you about moonshiners?”

     “She said all the men were moonshiners. Are they?”

     Uncle Charles threw back his head and laughed as if he’d just heard the funniest joke of his life. After a few seconds he shook his head. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There may be a few who give the Cove people a bad reputation, but most of the men work too hard to waste their time on such nonsense.” He reached over and patted her hand. “I wouldn’t leave you in a place where you weren’t safe. Mrs. Johnson may run a good inn, but she’s the worst gossip in these mountains.”

     Anna heaved a sigh of relief. “I guess I’m just a little nervous. I want everybody to like me.”

     “They will. Just be yourself and they’ll all love you.”

     Uncle Charles meant well, but doubt still lingered in her mind. Would the people of the Cove accept a stranger into their small community? And if they didn’t, what good could she possibly do in this place?

     She had to succeed. Her future depended on it. She squared her shoulders. There was no turning back.

     As the day wore on, they found themselves deeper in the hills. As they did, a slow awakening began to dawn in the deepest corner of her soul. She’d never seen anything as beautiful as the lush growth that covered the vast mountain range. The air now grew cooler, just as she’d expected it to be, and the sweet smell of mountain laurel mingled with the rhododendrons. As her uncle’s horse, Toby, plodded along the rocky trail that grew steeper with each step, she saw the world through new eyes and stared in awe at the wonders of nature unfolding before her.

     For the last hour she’d sat silent and watched the shallow river that flowed beside the road. The water bubbled over rocks like huge stepping-stones scattered across its bed, and the rippling sound had a lulling effect. She wished they could stop so she could pull off her shoes and wade in the cold mountain stream, but there was no time for such fun today. She turned her attention back to the steep hillside on the other side of the road.

     “It’s beautiful here.”

     Uncle Charles glanced at her. “We’re just about to Wear’s Valley. When we get there, we’ll be close to Cades Cove.”

     Anna wondered if Uncle Charles was tired of her questions about the Cove. She hoped not. She settled in her seat and said, “Tell me more about Cades Cove, Uncle Charles.”

     He pushed his hat back on his head and stared straight ahead. “Well, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been following that stream as the road’s climbed. Pretty soon now we’re gonna reach a place where we turn away from it and head into a flat valley right in the middle of the mountains. That’s Cades Cove. It’s almost like God just took His giant hand and tucked a little piece of heaven right down in the Smokies. The land’s fertile—not so many rocks you can’t farm—and completely surrounded by mountains. You’re gonna love it when you see it, Anna.”

     “How many people live there?”

     He pursed his lips and squinted into the distance. “I’d say there are about two hundred fifty scattered throughout the Cove nowadays. Some left for town life—better work there, you know—but they’ll never find a place that’s as beautiful as these mountains.”

     “How far is it from Mrs. Lawson’s house to where you live?”

     He thought for a moment. “It’s not that far as the crow flies, but it takes me almost three hours going around these roads.”

     A lump formed in her throat. Now that they were closer, she didn’t want him to leave. She scooted a little closer to him on the bench of the buggy. “Will you stay at Mrs. Lawson’s tonight?”

     He shook his head. “No, I’ll have enough daylight left to get home. But don’t worry, I’ll come to the Cove from time to time to check on you. Granny does a good job of taking care of the folks there, but she knows when it’s serious enough to send for me.”

     Anna clasped her hands in her lap to keep him from seeing them tremble. The time had come to begin the test. She couldn’t fail. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. She dredged up all the determination she could muster. No, she wouldn’t fail.

     “How long before we get there, Uncle Charles?”

     “Not much longer. The entrance is up ahead.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Healing Love: The Amish of Webster County--Book One by Laura V. Hilton, c2012

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:

Whitaker House (September 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author and book lover. She’s got a degree in business but her passion has long been the mission of Christian fiction. Her first series, The Amish of Seymour from Whitaker House (Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another) earned praise from critics and fans for originality and authenticity, thanks in part to Laura’s Amish grandmother who taught her Amish culture at a young age, and her husband Steve’s family ties to the Amish community in Webster County, Missouri, which has been helpful in her research. Laura is the author of two novels for Treble Heart Books and a contributor to Zondervan’s It’s The Year Life Verse Devotional. She’s a member of ACFW for whom she writes Amish reviews for the magazine, Afictionado, and a long time reviewer for the Christian Suspense Zone. Laura is a stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger who posts reviews at:
Visit the author's website.


Shane Zimmerman, a young veterinarian and widower, is the first person on the scene of a serious buggy accident in Webster County, Missouri. He rushes Amish midwife Kristi Lapp, who has been badly injured in the crash, to the nearest hospital. The two discover they’re next door neighbors and a friendship develops as Shane helps Kristi with her high-energy Siberian husky, Chinook, for whom she can’t properly care because of her leg injuries. Shane hopes to further develop their relationship, but Kristi is leery and discourages him at first -- Shane isn’t Amish (although his grandparents were) and Kristi’s father would prefer she marry any aged Amish widower rather than an Englischer – even one with ties to the community who is close to her age. Despite the forces that would keep them apart, the strong attraction Kristi and Shane have for one another grows stronger. As their on-again, off-again relationship persists, Shane must come to grips with his identity and reevaluates why he’s Englisch.

Product Details:
List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603745068
ISBN-13: 978-1603745062

Returning to Seymour, Missouri, we begin book one of The Amish of Webster County Series with the novel, Healing Love. Kristi Lapp is our heroine and her Englischer neighbor, Shane Zimmerman who is a veterinarian, is the first responder to her buggy accident. Her parents are visiting family in another state. As Shane is visiting her in the hospital, he is mistaken by the doctor as her husband. Mending becomes a complicated venture for Kristi as Shane comes to care for her animals during her recuperation. He finds he comes to care for Kristi too, but with the emotions of the heart.

Kristi's daed doesn't agree with the involvement after happening in on them in her hospital room. Saddened by his disapproval, Shane is only a friend, a next door neighbor friend, her heart says differently. What will life bring for her? She will need to wait and find out. And... dear reader, so will you! No spoilers here!

Welcome back to Laura Hilton's Seymour stories, matching her first journey to Webster County in The Amish of Seymour series; book 1, Patchwork Dreams, book 2, A Harvest of Hearts, and book 3, Promised to Another. Enjoy meeting others in their Amish community. You won't be disappointed!

Happy reading.

A Midwife with a Major Injury. Life gets a lot harder for Amish midwife Kristi Lapp when a buggy wreck lands her in the hospital and leaves her with a pronounced limp. Among her biggest concerns is the well-being of her dog, Chinook, as she is no longer able to keep up with the high-energy Siberian husky. Adding insult to injury, Kristi fears she'll never marry for love, for what man would willingly wed a woman who needs help with even the most basic of household tasks?

A Vet with a Void in His heart. Shane Zimmerman moved to Seymour for a fresh start. The veterinarian is still reeling from the loss of his wife and his unborn child. The coroner deemed aneurysm as the cause of death, but Shane still blames the midwife--specifically, the herbal remedies she prescribed.

A Difficult Decision to Make. Shane meets Kristi when he discovers her wrecked buggy and takes her to the hospital. Soon, what started as common courtesy turns into a strong mutual attraction. Yet the obstacles that bar a relationship between them are many. Will they find a way to stay together? Or will their differences prove too divisive to resolve?

Chapter 1


Kristi Lapp flicked the reins impatiently. “Kum on, Samson. ‘Slow’ isn’t the only speed you’re capable of, ain’t so?” She needed him to pick up the pace. Silas Troyer had banged on her door earlier to alert her that his frau, Susie, was going into labor, and then he’d raced down the lane in his horse-and-buggy to notify their family members of the imminent birth.

     Kristi was especially excited about this boppli. Susie had four girls, all of them a year apart, and she’d been expecting to have a boy this time, based on how different it had felt carrying him. Mamms usually sensed these things. And Kristi predicted she was right.

     Several deer stepped onto the road right in front of Kristi, none of them even glancing her way. Smiling, she pulled the reins slightly to the right to direct Samson away from them, over to the side of the road. A similarly sized herd had meandered its way through her family’s backyard the other day, and she’d always admired the animals for sticking together as they did.

     She tightened her grip on the reins and gave them another flick, hoping to encourage Samson to move more quickly.

     As the deer were crossing the center line into the other lane, the powerful roar of an engine broke the serenity of the setting. A red sports car crested the hill up ahead, barreling in Kristi’s direction at a speed she’d never witnessed on this road. She heaved a breath of exasperation. Any idiot would have noticed one of the several signs that read, “Watch for Buggies.” They were impossible to miss, and Kristi had passed four of them in the last mile alone.

     As the car whizzed toward her, the herd of deer scattered, darting in different directions. The driver swerved sharply into Kristi’s lane to avoid them, and she gasped, frantically trying to steer the buggy over toward the shoulder. A chill ran up her spine at the sight of the steep embankment and deep ditch below.

     One of the spooked deer pivoted. Made a mad dash straight toward her horse. Samson reared and immediately took off at a run, straight toward the ditch.

     “Whoa, Samson!” Kristi planted her feet against the front of the buggy and pulled back on the reins with all her might. Leave it to Samson to shift into high gear at the worst time.

     The car sped past, but Samson wouldn’t slow down. He was heading straight for the side of the road. Panic surged through Kristi, constricting her breath. Should she try to jump out? She dropped the reins and scooted to the edge of the seat.

     She was too late. The buggy lurched as Samson ran headlong over the embankment. As the vehicle tipped, she was propelled out the side. Hours seemed to pass before her body collided with the ground and pain engulfed her.

     Teetering on the edge of consciousness, she thought briefly of Susie. How desperately she wanted to be there to assist with the birth of her boppli! Especially considering the problems she’d had with her first delivery…. And then she blacked out.

     Shane Zimmerman flipped on his fog lights to illuminate the low-lying clouds, which created interesting shapes and shadows against the dark backdrop of woods lining the rural Missouri highway. He scanned the area for deer ousted from their natural habitats by hunters. Of course, rutting season also brought them out of hiding. Not that he hunted. He did treat many a pet that had been injured accidentally by a hunter, such as the Great Dane boarding at his clinic while she recovered from the surgical removal of an errant bullet.

     Shane reached inside the console for a CD—the latest release from LordSong—and slid it into the player. As the uplifting music filled the car, he flexed his shoulders in an effort to relieve the tension of the busy day behind him. He looked forward to getting home and kicking back to read his Bible and watch the evening news.

     As his Jeep crowned the hill, he tapped the brakes at the sight of a wrecked Amish buggy. He scanned the area, but there was no sign of horse or driver. The animal must have been released and carted home. Or put down, if its injuries had been severe enough.

     Returning his gaze to the highway, he slowed. A young buck lay on the road, still alive yet struggling.

     Shane pulled his Jeep to the shoulder, put it in park, and clicked on the hazard lights. Leaving the keys in the ignition, he got out, his heart pounding in time with the obnoxious dinging sound of the car. Cautiously, he approached the deer. Its brown eyes fixed on him, wild with fear. The animal lurched to a standing position for a second but quickly collapsed again on the hard pavement, where it remained. Its labored breaths intensified. Whoever had hit it had driven off, leaving it to die. Was the same person to blame for the buggy accident? He’d probably never know.

     “It’s okay,” Shane spoke softly.

     The deer flicked its ears and struggled to its feet again.

     “I’m here to help you.” Shane stepped closer, keeping a wary eye on the rack of antlers. It was hardly the biggest he’d seen, but even small antlers could do hefty damage.

     With another flick of its ears, the buck struggled to a semi-standing position and limped off to the edge of the road and into the forest. It would surely die, but Shane couldn’t do anything about that. He wasn’t about to chase an injured wild animal through the woods. He didn’t carry much medical gear in his Jeep, anyway, aside from a few larger tools used for treating farm animals.

     He started back toward his vehicle, but a glance at the buggy lying on its side gave him a strong urge to check it out. No point in hurrying. He rubbed his eyes, weary after a long day at the clinic, and surveyed the scene. The buggy appeared to be abandoned.

     Then, he moved to the edge of the embankment and gazed down the leaf-covered slope. Something caught his eye. A woman? Shane squinted. Sure enough, there was an Amish woman, wearing a maroon dress and a black apron. Gold hair peeked out from underneath her white prayer kapp, and a black bonnet hung loosely around her shoulders. “Hello?”

     No answer. His breath hitched. Had she hit the deer? Or had the deer hit her? He frowned. Accidents caused by deer affected more cars than buggies, by far. Where was the horse?

     Heart pounding, he scrambled down through the brush into the ditch. As he crouched beside the woman, his nose caught the metallic odor of blood. The brilliant red on her dress wasn’t part of the fabric. He lifted the hem just enough to spot the injury. Her left leg lay at a weird angle, with a bone protruding from the skin. Definitely broken.

     His heart sank. He couldn’t help her. His expertise was limited to animals.

     But he was the only one there. And she needed help—urgently.

     “Hey.” He touched her left hand. It felt warm. He noted the shallow rise and fall of her chest. His fingers moved down to her wrist, feeling for her pulse. Alive but unresponsive. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed 9-1-1. When the dispatcher answered, he said, “I’d like to report a buggy accident. We need an ambulance. The woman is unconscious and bleeding with a badly broken leg. Looks like a serious injury.” He added their approximate location.

     Glancing again at the bone sticking out of her skin, Shane shuddered. Animals, he could handle. Humans were too easy to identify with; their injuries hit too close to home. He leaned down and gently pushed her hair away from her neck. Her pulse was extremely rapid and weak. He breathed a prayer that help would arrive quickly.

     As he studied her face for the first time, recognition nearly knocked him off balance. This woman lived right next door to him. What were the odds of that? Her backyard was overrun with weeds, a stark contrast to her meticulously maintained garden in the side yard. He’d seen her working there many a time. She had the most beautiful dog he’d ever seen, a Siberian husky. And the thought had dawned on him, more than once, that the dog’s owner was more than usually beautiful, as well.

     She wasn’t married, as far as he knew. The only other people he’d spotted next door were an older couple, presumably her parents. Their last name was Lapp, if the stenciling on their mailbox was current.

     Shane would have to stop by the house to let her family know about the accident. They would probably be worried sick when she didn’t return.

     The young woman moaned, drawing Shane’s attention. He saw her eyelids flutter slightly, and then her eyes opened.

     “It’s okay,” he said, gazing as calmly as he could into her grayish-green eyes. “Help is coming.”

     “The pain…my head…my leg….” She winced as tears filled her eyes. “Who are you? I’ve seen you before.”

     “I’m Shane Zimmerman. Your next-door neighbor.” He reached for her hand, hesitated, then folded his fingers gently around hers. As their skin connected, he was startled by the jolt that shot through his fingertips and gained intensity as it traveled through his hand and up his arm. He had no explanation, other than his being overly tired. “You’ll be fine,” he assured her.

     She only moaned again and closed her eyes.

     Shane stared down at her bloodstained skirt and saw that the fabric was saturated. He grimaced. She needed help fast, or she’d bleed out. Animal or human, he didn’t want death on his hands tonight.

     God, help me. Shane let go of her hand and yanked his sweatshirt up and over her head. He lifted her skirt again and pressed the garment against her wound, knowing he could be introducing harmful germs. But there wasn’t a choice. He tried to make her as comfortable as he could without letting up the pressure. Even though she didn’t rouse again, he explained every measure he took, from applying pressure to strapping his belt as a tourniquet around her leg. Then, he sang a couple of Amish songs, the ones he remembered learning from his grandparents. His father had left the Amish as young man, choosing to marry Shane’s mom, who wasn’t Amish. But Shane had often spent entire summers with his grandparents.

     Time hung in the air as he waited for help to arrive.

     Finally, there was a screech of brakes and a rumble of gravel on the road above, followed by the sound of a vehicle door opening.

     “Down here!” Shane called.

     Seconds later, an EMT carrying a medical bag peeked over the embankment. “Ambulance is right behind me. You didn’t move her, did you?”

     “No. But she’s bleeding profusely. I did what I could to slow it down.”

     The man half climbed, half slid, down the slope toward Shane. “I’ve got some emergency flares in the back of my truck. Mind setting them out while I take a look at her?”

     “Not at all.”

     Shane did as he’d been asked, then walked over to the buggy to inspect it more closely. The leather harness straps dangled with frayed ends, indicating that the horse had broken free, possibly when the buggy tipped. He checked the immediate area and even wandered a ways into the woods for signs of a wounded animal, but no clues turned up. The roar of sirens in the distance beckoned him back to the site of the wreck.

     In his Jeep, he found a rag and wiped off his bloody hands while he thought out the statement he’d make to the police.

     An ambulance screeched to a stop beside the pickup, lights flashing, and a police cruiser pulled up alongside. It wasn’t long before the ambulance wailed away again, spiriting its nameless passenger toward the hospital in Springfield.

     After Shane had finished answering the police officer’s questions, he started the two-mile trip home, keeping his eyes peeled for an injured horse. He passed his own small plot of land without any sign of the animal.

     He pulled into the driveway next door, hurried up to the house, and pounded on the front door. No response. After several moments, he knocked again. He knew that the Amish generally kept their doors unlocked, but he didn’t feel comfortable opening the door and hollering into the hallway of a stranger’s house. He rapped one more time, just to be sure.


     Shane turned around and saw a man on the front porch of the house across the street.

     The man started down the steps. “Can I help you?”

     “I’m looking for Ms. Lapp’s family. She was in a buggy accident.”

     The man came closer. “She hurt bad?”

     Shane nodded. “Bad.” Would she survive the trip to the hospital? His heart clenched.

     “Donald Jackson. Me an’ the wife live here.”

     Shane stretched his mouth into a tight smile. “Shane Zimmerman. Neighbor on the other side.”

     “Oh, the new guy. Vet, right? Welcome to Seymour.”

     “Thanks.” It hardly seemed appropriate to exchange pleasantries when someone’s life was hanging in the balance. Shane shifted his weight. “Does she have any family?”

     Donald shrugged. “Everyone has some. See her parents and other people around from time to time. Sometimes lots of buggies over there. Besides, ain’t the Amish all related? Heard that somewhere.”

     “Seems that way sometimes.” Okay, this man was no help. A howl from the backyard reminded Shane about the Siberian husky. “I’m going to check on the dog.” He strode down the porch steps and made his way around the side of the house.

     Donald trailed him. “Barn’s always unlocked, I’m pretty sure, so you could get the dog’s food. I never see her lock it, anyway. But then, I don’t watch her twenty-four-seven or anything.”

     Shane raised an eyebrow. This Donald apparently watched her often enough to know about the barn door and the dog food. “Nice meeting you, Donald. I’ll just make sure the dog has fresh water, and then I’ll go.” He needed to find someone Amish to notify.

     Seeing the red and white Siberian husky in a large kennel in the backyard, Shane opened the gate and went in, shutting it behind him. The dog whined and jumped up, wrapping him in a sort of canine embrace. Shane hugged her back. This breed was so affectionate. He rubbed her neck, then stepped back, picked up her metal water dish, and headed for the outside spigot, which he’d spotted on his way to the backyard. The dog followed closely at his feet, growling in a friendly way, as if she carried on a one-sided conversation. At the spigot, Shane filled the dish with cold water, then checked the barn door. It was unlocked, as Donald had said it’d be.

     Shane stopped and scratched the dog behind her ears. “I’ll be back later to get you some food.” He hesitated. “No, I’ll do it now.” He turned back to the barn and slid both wobbly doors open, going into the darkness. He paused, wishing for his flashlight, then remembered that his Amish grandfather had always kept a lantern near the door. He turned back and groped along a shelf, finally feeling the familiar metal base of a lantern. Next to it was a book of matches, one of which he used to light the wick. It didn’t seem right, being in a stranger’s barn, but the dog would be hungry.

     He found the dog food and bent down to scoop some into the dish. Then, he straightened and looked around. This was an Amish farm. There’d be other animals to bed down. Cows. Chickens. Horses. He sighed.

     A nicker sounded, and Shane turned to the door. Ah, the prodigal buggy horse, dragging the frayed strands of a harness. Shane spoke softly to the animal as he grabbed hold of one of the harness straps, and then he led it back to an empty stall. The dog followed, whining all the way. Shane gave the sweaty horse a rubdown, checking it for injuries. Nothing seemed amiss, other than the wild look in its eyes and the way it kept tossing its head, probably responses to the trauma of the accident.

     When Shane had calmed the horse as best he could, he glanced around again. He knew the basics of managing an Amish farm, thanks to the years he’d spent helping his grandparents, but it was more than one person could handle alone. Another Amish family would probably take on the rest of the chores.

     Still, he wanted to go to the hospital to check on Ms. Lapp. Why did she still weigh so heavily on his mind? He’d done his duty to her, a stranger.

     His decision made, he returned the dog to her kennel. Before closing the door, he gave her another rub behind the ears. “I’ll be back.”

     The dog flopped down on the ground with a reproachful whimper, as if he were abandoning her in her time of greatest need.

     “Your master was in an accident, but she’ll be okay,” Shane explained. “I hope.” He crouched down to the dog’s level. “I’m going to the hospital right now to check on her.”

     With another whine, the dog lowered her head to rest on her front paws. Apparently, she had resigned herself to his departing.

     Shane drove home for a quick shower, then got back in his Jeep to head to the hospital. First, though, he stopped by the farm on the other side of his property. The mailbox there also said “Lapp,” and he figured the residents had to be relatives of the injured woman.

     Seconds after he pulled into the driveway, a man came out into the yard. Shane introduced himself and asked for confirmation that this family was related to the other Lapps, specifically the young woman with the Siberian husky.

     The man frowned. “Jah, we’re family. I’m Kristi’s onkel. Timothy. I’m caring for their livestock while her parents are visiting family in Sarasota. I was getting ready to head over there.”

     Shane proceeded to tell Timothy about the accident. For a relative of Kristi’s, he processed the information rather stoically, Shane thought.

     “Can I give you a lift to the hospital?”

     Timothy took a step back. “Nein, I’ll contact the bishop, and he’ll get the word out. And I’ll make a call down to Florida to tell her parents.”

     Timothy headed back to the barn, and Shane drove away, wondering why was he was taking the time to go to the hospital and check on a woman he didn’t even know. He probably wouldn’t find out anything, thanks to the strict privacy policy. But still, something drew him.

     At the hospital, Shane went directly to the emergency wing and approached the front desk. “Kristi Lapp, please.”

     The receptionist nodded and checked something on her computer. Then, she looked up with a sympathetic smile. “If you’ll take a seat in the waiting room, a doctor will be out to talk with you in just a few minutes.”

     She must be in more serious condition than he’d thought. Shane went down the hall to the waiting area, where he was relieved to find a coffeemaker. He poured himself a coffee and watched several minutes of the sitcom playing on the TV mounted on the wall overhead.

     As the only person in the room, he had his choice of seats. He selected a chair in a corner and picked up a magazine from the end table next to it. However, the contents didn’t appear to be any more interesting than the drama he was caught up in, so he put it back. Instead of reading, he prayed for Kristi and for the doctors working on her. It felt strange praying for a woman he didn’t know and waiting for an update from the doctor, as if she meant something special to him. But it seemed she did, even though he’d just met her. Did their brief interaction even count as a meeting? He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he hadn’t felt this strong a connection with a woman since Becca. Immediately he dismissed the thought.

     He was glad he’d found out her name. Calling her “Ms. Lapp” seemed so wrong. Plus, he probably wouldn’t have been permitted to see her if the hospital staff thought he was a stranger.

     Several people came into the waiting room and exited again during a period of time that felt like hours.

     At last, a doctor came into the room. “Family for Kristi Lapp.”

     Shane blew out a breath. Family he wasn’t, but he was the only person there for her. Hopefully, the doctor wouldn’t ask how he was related. He got up, feeling a twinge of guilt at his act of impersonation.

     The doctor led him into a private conference room and gestured for him to sit down. “She’s in recovery. We’ve given her a blood transfusion, and we’ll be monitoring her hemoglobin and hematocrit—that is, blood values. As soon as we’re sure they are in the normal range, she’ll be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for a procedure we abbreviate as ORIF: open reduction internal fixation.”

     Shane nodded. He was familiar with the procedure, but the doctor was probably accustomed to having to explain it, so he continued.

     “Open reduction—that’s how we put the bone back in the position it’s supposed to be. And internal fixation is how we stabilize it—with a rod down the center of the bone and plates on either side, to keep it in the position it’s supposed to be in until nature takes her course and it heals completely. The plates may be removed later, as long as the bone heals well. Also, her femoral artery was nicked, but she’ll be fine. Lost a lot of blood. We had to give her three units. She’s going to have substantial bruising and probably be in considerable pain.”

     “Has she regained consciousness?”

     “Not yet. But brain activity is normal, and we expect no complications.”

     “Thank you.” Shane stood up and started for the door.

     “If you want to wait, I’ll have a nurse come and show you to her room.”

     Shane stopped in the doorway. “I’ll come in tomorrow.”

     The doctor frowned. “I’m sure your wife will want to see you when she wakes up.”


     Kristi woke up in an unfamiliar room filled with odd beeping noises. Straight ahead, a television was mounted on the celery-green wall. To her right was a beige-colored curtain; to her left, a big, dark window. The hospital. How did she get here? Someone must have found her. What about Samson? What had happened to him?

     Had Susie birthed her boppli? Kristi groaned and shifted on the bed, noticing the bedside table with a plastic pitcher of water and an empty tumbler. And…flowers? She smiled at the vase holding six pink rosebuds, a cluster of baby’s breath, and some other greenery. Who would have sent a bouquet? Maybe the person who’d found her.

     With great effort, she reached with her right arm toward the table, pain washing over her anew. It seemed every part of her body ached. Despite the discomfort, she extended her arm just far enough to snatch the white envelope from the plastic forklike thing tucked into the bouquet.

     Her left hand had an IV needle stuck in it, taped down. She grimaced at the sight. She’d have a bruise there, probably, but that would be the least of her injuries. Even with her pain-blurred vision, which made it seem as if the room was spinning, she could tell from the shape of the blanket that covered her legs how swollen they were. Her left leg, in particular—that’s where most of the pain radiated from. Wincing with effort, she tore open the envelope and pulled out a plain white card. The message written inside was simple:

     You’re in my prayers.
          Shane Zimmerman

     Sweet, but it must have been intended for another patient. She didn’t know anybody by the name of Shane Zimmerman. Or did she? Her head pounded as she tried to figure it out. No one came to mind.

     Maybe this mystery man would come to the hospital to see her.

     She pressed the card to her chest and closed her eyes, imagining a tall, handsome Amish man. Hopefully, when she fell asleep, he would visit her in her dreams.