Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West, ©2012

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:

OakTara (September 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Catherine West for sending me a review copy.***

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary.

Visit the author's website.


After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living.

Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price.

With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother. For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from.

But what if the woman who gave her life doesn’t want to be found?


Product Details:

List Price: $16.95
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: OakTara (September 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602903298
ISBN-13: 978-1602903296

Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West
* * *
 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
--PSALM 139: 13-16

Hidden in the Heart is a story of lost and found. Love lost, a love desired to be known. Hope lost; hope rekindled. The attitude of the heart revealed. A search necessary to very explicitly reveal truth. A hunger to be received ~ by self, by others. Closed off to emotion, Claire chances this drive within her to find her life. The desire of her heart to truly belong. From the death of her mother, to the miscarriage of her child, Claire leaves all she knows to seek her roots. The family missing her. In earnest she finds joy and acceptance in her seeking. She finds she was who she is all along. Loved. Loved by the Father who has been close and always will be. Revealed truth sets her free. Free to receive all that has been given to her and not restrained. She has tried to hide and be numbed by anxiety she thought was soothed by alcohol and drugs to avoid pain. Instead, she has been held captive. Captive to a lie that destroys. Come along on her journey to find she is fearfully and wonderfully made. Whole, and not deceptive thoughts controlling her. Free at last. Freedom coming from breaking through the barriers that hold her back from seeing and believing who she truly is. A child of the King. How He desires for each of us to rely on Him. His Word is true.
Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me. --JOHN 6: 37
Not partially found, but completely.
"You're going to have to face it at some point, whatever it is you're running from." He stood and paused a minute. "But nobody can make you quit. You have to decide for yourself that you're done, that you don't want to live this way anymore." --Hidden in the Heart, page 83
So much of what we don't know, we do. The void we have inside that needs to be filled. Emptiness that does not go away. Love comes to us as we open our hearts. Honesty and openness erases doubt and the fear of being dismissed... forever. Forgiveness is the open door to healing. We don't walk through the door alone.

♪♫•*The first time ever¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸
¸.•* I saw your face•*¨*•♫
I thought the sun rose♪ •♥•.¸
¸.•♥•.¸  in your eyes
¨*•♫♪And the moon and the stars •♥•.¸¸.•♥•.¸were gifts you gave•*¨*•♫♪ •♥•.¸
¸.•♥•.¸ to the dark and the endless skies...
What I especially liked about this book is the risks people took to come through the pain to the closure needed in aching hearts. Because they were able to hear each other, fear was removed. Love always wins. May we be reflective trusting transparency is the better way. It didn't come quickly, but their hearts were opened, and met. Forgiveness is key to acceptance. Gradual giving blooms to fragrance and unscathed roots.


Claire Ferguson stood outside Baby Gap, unable to look away from the Christmas display. Red velvet dresses and miniature-sized plaid waistcoats. Tiny suede boots, tiny patent leather shoes, tiny colorful striped hats and scarves. Everything was tiny.
     Claire stared at a little red dress, her eyes filling as she imagined and wished for the impossible.
     People filed in and out of the store, smiling, laughing. Happy. An ordinary day filled with ordinary tasks and lists of things that must be accomplished. She had no such list—just an overwhelming need to pass time quickly on this day that was not so ordinary.
     Claire steadied herself and glanced at her watch. Late afternoon. Shoppers jostled by, oblivious to her pain, all in a hurry to get their purchases and conquer the next store in the mall.
     If only she had a reason to hurry.
     "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" crooned from the mall loudspeakers. Claire bit her lip and cursed Bing.
     Christmas would be merry when it was over.
     Claire tightened her grip around the numerous bags she carried and slowly moved forward. Her heel slipped on a slick patch of tile. She regained her balance before falling, but the effort shook her and sent her pulse racing.
     After walking a bit, her arms began to burn. Her overflowing shopping bags were heavy but gave a sense of accomplishment. She’d gotten out of bed and had the purchases to prove it.
     “Claire? Hey…yoo-hoo!” A woman’s greeting floated above the noise of the crowd.
     Claire lowered her head and rummaged through her purse. She popped a few breath mints into her mouth and chewed as she weighed her options.
     Pretend she didn’t hear. Pretend to be someone else. Or turn and face the owner of the vaguely familiar voice still calling out her name.
     Curiosity won out and Claire turned.
     “Hi, Claire! I thought that was you.” The woman waved and hurried over. Platinum blonde hair swooshed around her shoulders. “Long time no see. You do remember me, don’t you?”
     “Um…” No. Claire pushed through the tangled cobwebs in her brain. “Ashley…something? High school?” The woman’s Colgate-bright smile never faltered. She could have been on the cover of a magazine. Or a toothpaste commercial.
     “Amanda. Barrington.” Blue eyes twinkled as though she held some untold secret. “Gosh, it’s been a while. How are you? Have time for a coffee?”
     “Coffee?” Claire screwed up her nose. Vodka tonic would be more enticing, but whatever. She didn’t have anywhere to be. Not really. “Sure.”
     They settled around a table at Starbucks. Amanda insisted on buying, which was fine with Claire. A few minutes later she sipped an Espresso and managed a smile. “So, Amanda. What have you been up to since high school?”
     “Oh, not too much. Busy. You?”
     Claire nodded. “Same. Busy. Very busy.” Busy not answering the phone. Busy surfing channels. Busy ignoring the whole world.
     Amanda stirred another packet of sweetener into her Caffè Misto. “You got married a few years ago, didn’t you? You and James?”
     A bizarre image of Guy Smiley from Sesame Street flashed before her, and Claire wondered what she’d done to win a spot on This Is Your Life. She suppressed a giggle. That third drink at lunch probably hadn’t been such a great idea. “Yep. Me and James.”
     “Any kids?”
     As if on cue, a mother walked past them pushing a toddler in a stroller. The kid looked her way and released a blood-curdling wail. Claire let out her breath. “Didn’t you go to Vassar?”
     “Oh.” Amanda’s pretty smile petered out as she fiddled with the top of her cup. “Yes, but I dropped out. Had a breakdown of sorts.”
     “Of sorts?” Maybe that was the same as being a little bit pregnant. A ripple of anxiety washed over Amanda’s face, and Claire felt a pinch of guilt. “Hey, it’s cool. I’m the last person to be throwing judgment around.” She pulled at a loose thread on her sweater.
     Getting out of bed this morning had been tiresome enough; she hadn’t given much thought to her wardrobe. Just grabbed a pair of yoga pants and a long sweater that covered her butt and pushed her feet into a pair of Uggs. She took in Amanda’s pristine appearance, fumbled with her hair, and tried to remember whether she’d even brushed it. “Are you…okay now?” Stupid question. Of course she was.
     “Oh, yes,” Amanda answered too quickly. “Right as rain.”
     “Funny, that.” Claire couldn’t stop a grin. “Right as rain. People always complain when it rains, don’t they? I mean, what’s right about it, really?”
     Amanda didn’t hide surprise well. She opened her mouth, but no words came. She nibbled on a bran muffin and dabbed cherry lips with a paper napkin. “I heard your mother died. Last year, was it? I’m sorry.”
     Of course she was sorry. Everybody was sorry. God was probably even sorry.
     Claire studied her nails. The pink polish was chipped and faded, most of her nails worn down by her chewing on them. Another habit she couldn’t seem to break. “She had cancer. Only lived a few months after her diagnoses.”
     “I’m so sorry.”
     “Yup.” Claire nodded, still pondering Amanda’s mysterious breakdown. She really wanted to ask how the accommodations were at the funny farm, because if things got any worse she might just be heading there herself. “So, what are you doing now that you’re…okay?” Small talk seemed more appropriate.
     Amanda perked up at the change of subject. “Oh, a bit of this and that. I’m planning a wedding.  I got engaged a few months ago.” She waved a hand, a diamond the size of a small country in Africa almost blinding Claire. “When I saw you, I remembered. You were adopted too, right?”
     Hot liquid sloshed out of the small hole in the plastic lid, and Claire put her cup down in a hurry. She dabbed at the mess and tried to think what an appropriate response would be. "None of your business" probably wouldn’t go over so well.
     “Too?” As Claire lifted the top off her paper cup to clean it, the lid on her memory slid off with it. “That’s right. You were the only other kid I knew who was adopted. Our mothers were friends for a while, weren’t they?”
     “When we were in eighth and ninth grade.” Amanda’s eyes got misty. “I used to love going over to your house; you were so much fun. But then we…drifted apart I guess. You ran with the cool kids. I was a geek.”
     “Oh.” Claire pushed down the lid of her cup and prayed she hadn’t been completely horrible to this poor girl who had apparently once been a friend.
     “Anyway, I found my birth mother.” Amanda sat back, a small smile set in place. “That’s what I wanted to tell you. I thought you…would understand.”
     “Your birth mother?” The words slammed into Claire, went straight for the gut, held tight, and twisted. “No kidding?” She took another sip and hoped Amanda wouldn’t notice the tremor in her hand. “How?”
     “It wasn’t that hard, really.” Amanda blinked and gazed across the crowded room. A bizarre heavy metal version of "Jingle Bells" blasted through the speakers and they shared a smile. “I suppose I just got tired of looking in the mirror and wondering. You know?”
     Boy, did she know. Claire shrugged. “When was this?”
     “Two years ago. I talked to my parents first, and they were okay with it. I wrote away for my non-identifying information and next thing I knew, Social Services was calling to put me in touch with her.”
     “How’d that go?” A slow pounding began in her temples, and Claire swallowed the urge to puke. There was something wrong about this—having this conversation—today, on the anniversary of her mother’s death. Amanda of course, couldn’t know that. Couldn’t know that Claire had, of late, thought of doing the very same thing.
     Searching for answers. Searching for truth. As if somehow knowing the truth would help her get her life back.
     Thoughts of whether or not to proceed had become an obsession.
     Maybe her best friend, Melanie, was right. “There are no coincidences, Claire. Only Godincidences.” Claire could hear Melanie now. “It’s a sign. You should do it.”
     The only sign Claire wanted to see was the one that said BAR.
     She turned her attention back to her long-lost friend and hoped she hadn’t missed anything earth-shattering.
     “We’re not that much alike, and after the first meeting…” Amanda prattled on. “But did you ever think about it? I mean, your mom’s gone now and…”
     “Me? Oh, no.” Claire checked her watch and frowned. She had to meet James for dinner. “Hey, this was great, but…my husband…we have plans.”
   “Yes, of course. Well…” Amanda foraged in her Marc Jacobs bag and came up with a gold-embossed business card. “Give me a call sometime, Claire. And if you change your mind, about searching, I’m here to help.”
     Thanks. It was great to see you.”
     “Merry Christmas.”
     “Sure. You have a good one.”
     Claire waded through the sea of shoppers until she reached the doors to the parking lot and stumbled outside. Cold air brought clarity, and she breathed deeply. She clasped her elbows and willed the trembling to stop, willed the world to stop spinning as she tried to get her bearings and headed in the general direction she hoped she’d parked.
     She needed to get out of here. But to what?
     Claire stopped walking and stared at the slush beneath her feet. The knot in her stomach pulled tight. James would be expecting her.
     He wanted to talk. Again.
     Claire had run out of words a long time ago.
     She turned and entered the warm building again, scanned the area, and spied a TGI Friday’s. It was a bit too early for food, but that didn’t matter. She wasn’t planning on eating.
     Two hours later, Claire peered at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Maybe she should call a cab. She splashed some water on her face, spritzed a little perfume on her neck, and picked up her bags.
     After waiting half an hour for a cab to come into sight, Claire’s feet were frozen. She gave up and headed back to her car. It would be fine. She hadn’t had that much to drink.
     She maneuvered her car down the back roads as carefully as she could. Snow started to fall and got heavier by the minute. Claire shook her head and cursed the snow. Cursed herself for being so stupid.
     Staying in bed would have been the more sensible solution.
     She’d been doing better. Almost convinced herself she could make it through the holidays. Now all she could think about was Mom, and that stupid conversation she’d had with Amanda.
     Pain rushed her with such force she considered pulling off the road to expel the liquid sloshing around in her stomach. She was re-living it all over again. That long, dark night when her world had shattered like a Christmas ornament dropped from the highest branches of the tree.
     “She’s gone, Claire…”
     They all thought death was something you could prepare for. Thought if you read up, prayed up, and clammed up, it would all be okay.
     Her father read books and retreated into silence.
     James went to church, put them all on the prayer chain, and talked to God.
     And Claire ignored it, hoping the day would never come.
     But it had, come and gone, and taken her mother with it.
     A blast of sirens jolted her back to the present. Her SUV swerved, and she slowed until the vehicle straightened. Obnoxious blue and red flashers intensified the pain in her head. Claire flicked on her turn signal and pulled over. Just what she needed to make a crappy day even crappier.
     “Ya better watch out, ya better not cry…” The modern version of the classic blasted from the radio. “Ya better not pout, I’m tellin’ you why…” The Boss’s raspy voice belted out the warning.
     Claire almost grinned. Too late, Bruce. Already on the black list this year.
     Through the rearview mirror she watched the officer step out of his vehicle. He sloshed through gray snow, his burly frame shadowed in the setting sun, but she’d recognize that bear-like gait anywhere.
     Definitely not Santa Claus.
     Why did it have to be him?
     Claire shoved her hand in her purse, pulled out her breath mints, and put a few in her mouth, wishing she’d had a second cup of coffee. She chewed quickly and shoved another couple in just before he reached her car.
     Robert Ferguson tapped on her car window, a scowl set in place. His dark blue jacket was zipped halfway, his badge glinting. Claire returned the scowl and prayed for an apocalypse. He rapped again, and Claire knew she had no choice. She pressed the button and the window slid down.
     “Hello, Claire.” Her brother-in-law stepped back and folded his arms over his chest.
     A blast of cold air smacked her face as she shifted to face him, tightening her grip on the wheel. “Robert. What a pleasant surprise.” Not. She forced a smile and ignored the hammering of her heart.
     “You okay?” He studied her in silence, suspicion settling in his eyes.
     Okay? She had a wet butt from falling in the parking lot, lived through that strange conversation with Amanda, and had a case of major indigestion, but whatever. “Sure, I’m okay. Sweet of you to ask.” Her heart ratekicked up a notch as he let out a sigh.
     “Can you turn off the stereo, please?”
     “Sure.” Claire blinked at the dash and squinted. The silver buttons were so small and they all looked alike. “Ah. There. Better?”
     “Where’ve you been, Claire? You were driving a little erratically.”
     “Erratically?” She widened her eyes, surprised he knew such a big word. “Oh, back there, you mean? Yeah, black ice. Thought I was done for.”
     His scowl deepened, forming a crater above the bridge of his nose. “Black ice, huh? You were all over the road. Going too fast, then too slow…I’ve been following you about a quarter mile. I guess you didn’t notice.”
     “Seriously? Guess I didn’t. You know, female drivers. We never check the rearview mirror unless we’re putting on lipstick.” Her palms grew moist despite the cold air flooding her car.
     His bland expression told her he wasn’t buying it. “Have you been drinking?” Robert narrowed his eyes, leaning in a little closer.
     Claire shook her head and the interior of the car spun. She covered her mouth with one hand and took a minute. “Of course not. I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t do something like that.”
     “Claire,” he growled, placing his big hands on the ledge of the open window, “level with me.”
     There might have been a hint of compassion in his eyes, but it faded too soon. Claire stared at the falling snow and wondered what she’d look like in orange. “I…um…went out for lunch. I might have had a glass of wine. That’s all. Really. I’m fine.”
     “You don’t look fine.” He took a step back. “Want to get out of the car?”
     “No,” she squeaked. “Come on, Robby. I just told you, I’m okay. Thanks for checking up on me, though.” The back of her neck prickled. He couldn’t possibly be serious.
     Robert yanked the door open. “Get out.”
     “Please, Robert. I’m begging you. I’m not drunk. You can follow me home if you want to.”
     “Get out of the car, Claire.” Anger dripped off his tongue, and she knew she’d pushed his limit. Maybe if she pretended to pass out she’d wake up and find this was all some weird dream. Maybe she’d just pass out anyway.
     “Claire. Today. If you wouldn’t mind.”
     “I’m coming.” She struggled to stand, slipped on the slush beneath her, and he caught her elbow before she fell. The towering pines across the road blurred into one big green snowball, hurtling toward her. She steadied herself and tried to focus on Robert. This was a nightmare. It had to be.
     But no, she’d definitely had too much to drink, and now she was busted.
     Served her right. There was always a price to pay. But she wished Robert didn’t have to be the one to collect.
     He barked instructions at her, and Claire tried to follow what he was saying, but the buzzing in her ears made it hard to understand him. And she really had to pee.
     “You’re a mess,” he muttered, eyes blazing into her. “You’re going to blow over, you know that, right?”
     “Maybe we should skip it then.” Claire held out her wrists toward him and smiled.
     “Get in the patrol car. I’ll drive you home.”
     “What? You’re not going to arrest me? You’re actually going to give me a break?” Claire stared in disbelief. “That’s…so…unlike you, Robby.”
     He shifted and put his hands on his hips, his stance wide. “Claire, seriously? I’m trying to be nice here.”
     “Just spreading a little Christmas joy, huh?” Her eyes landed on the butt of his revolver, his hand dangerously close to it. Tears welled, and one rolled down her cheek into the corner of her mouth.
     “All right.” He zipped up his coat and propelled her toward the police car. “Let’s get you off the road before you kill somebody.”
     “I don’t need your help, Robert.” She tried to squirm out of his grip, but he was too strong.
     “Do you want me to bring you in, Claire? Honestly, it would be a real pleasure. I’m only giving you a break out of respect for my brother. If you want to throw your life away, fine, I really don’t care, but don’t take him down with you.”
     Claire whirled to face him. “Then arrest me! Go on. It’s what you’re supposed to do anyway, right?” The words flew out before she could stop them. She watched his mouth twitch.
     “Get in the car.” His glare was enough to silence her into submission.
     Claire climbed into the back of the black and white patrol car. It reeked of sweat, cigarettes, and coffee. She leaned her head against the plastic-covered seat and waited. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him retrieve her purse from her vehicle while he talked on his cell phone. Her heart raced as she tried to second-guess him. He wasn’t going to arrest her. That was the good news.
     Maybe she could get home without her father or James finding out. She’d sleep it off and be fine in the morning.
     Done with his call, Robert tossed her purse onto the seat beside her and slammed the door. The car shook from side to side. Claire winced and closed her eyes. She pulled her knees up, resting her boots on the divider as he pulled back onto the road. “Excuse me?” She rapped on the plastic glass between them. “Can you maybe have my car taken home? There’s a lot of stuff in there. I just went shopping.”
     “Before or after you stopped at the bar?”
     “Relax, Claire.” He cracked his gum and sniffed. “There’s a tow-truck on the way. It’ll be impounded. You’ll get it back eventually.”
     “Stop kidding around. You can’t do this to me. Come on…”
     He slowed at a stoplight along Main. Claire inched down on the seat, searching the faces on the sidewalk. “Where are you taking me? The exit is the other way.”
     “I know where the exit is.”
     He hated her. He was going to arrest her after all.
     Claire swallowed back nausea and chewed on a torn fingernail. “So, um…how’s the family?”
     Robert’s shoulders stiffened, and he glanced back at her through the mirror. “Claire?”
     “Stop talking.”
     “Sorry.” Claire foraged through the jumbled mess of things inside her purse and came up with a lipstick. Didn’t bother checking the color. After applying a generous amount to her dry lips, she smacked them together. Bad idea. Her stomach rolled again, and she popped a couple more mints in her mouth.
     When he parked the car at the back of the precinct, Claire glared at the three-story gray building, crumbling in places. She swore it would fall down one of these days. With any luck Robert would be inside when it did.
     “You said you were going to take me home, Robert.” Claire stared at the back of his big head, watching a fly settle on the short dark hair. Maybe she could smack it for him.
     He cleared his throat and she pushed aside the idea.
     “You’re staying at your dad’s house now, right?” he asked.
     “That’s what I thought. That place is at least a half hour out on the other side of town. That would be going way beyond my family obligations. You can wait here until somebody comes for you.”
     “Who’s coming? Who did you call?” Claire pushed herself out of the car, but he ignored her and escorted her through the back doors. She walked slowly, determined not to slip. Or fall over. They passed a couple of officers in the hall. Claire saw some raised eyebrows, and one of the men let out a low whistle. Wonderful. She’d be the talk of small-town Connecticut within the hour.
     Robert stopped outside a small office at the far end of the corridor. He kicked the door with his black boot and it swung open. He walked in and checked out the room. “Take a seat. Nobody will bother you. Unless I tell them to.”
     Claire’s feet wouldn’t move. “Look, I can just call a cab. I…”
     “Nope. You’ll stay right here until you sober up.”
     She marched to the desk, threw her purse down, and turned on him. “You can’t just shove me in here, Robert! I know my rights! Which you haven’t even read me by the way, and…”
     “Claire.” He breathed out her name, sounding tired and beyond reasoning. “Sit down, and for the last time, shut up.” Fury ran across his face. “I told you, I’m not arresting you. But I should be. You should be thanking me, not yelling at me like you haven’t done anything wrong.” Robert stood near the door, his eyes softening. “You’ve got to start dealing with life, Claire. You can’t go on like this.”
     She pushed hair off her face and pinched her lips together. “Where do you get off telling me how to ‘deal with it’?” Familiar anger coiled inside her stomach and the dull ache returned. She sank into the chair behind the desk. “First my mother dies; then I have a miscarriage. Why does everybody expect me to 'forget' and 'get over it'?” Claire leaned back and closed her eyes.
     “That’s not what I meant. But it’d be nice if you started acting more like a mature adult instead of a spoiled, out-of-control teenager.”
     “Are you done?” She put her head in her hands.
     “I’ll be back in a while.”
     “Fine.” Claire gazed up at him, unsmiling. “Thank you.”
     “Sure. Whatever.” He slammed the door behind him. The noise reverberated around the small room and pierced through her skull.
     Claire rubbed her temples and wondered if she could down a couple of Tylenol without water. Robert was probably enjoying every minute of this. He’d hold court later at his favorite watering hole and regale his buddies of how he finally one-upped his wayward sister-in-law.
     It wasn't fair. Since Mom’s death, things just seemed to go from bad to worse. Her family, her husband, the whole world was against her. Every single day she had to endure some trial.
     She slumped down, put her head on the desk, and took a deep breath.
     Robert was right, though. This time.
     She was guilty. She should have known better than to drink and drive. But once she got started, it was so easy to keep them coming. She only wanted to get rid of the pain. But whatever the amount she’d consumed today, it wasn’t enough.
     It was never enough.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes, ©2012

Book 2 in The Daughters of Bainbridge House series ~ Filled with the mystique of London society and the charming beauty of the English countryside, A Flight of Fancy explores what it means to find the true source of happiness and love amid the distractions of life. Readers will love the next installment in this rousing Regency series from accomplished author Laurie Alice Eakes.

A Flight of Fancy

Date Released: 10/01/2012
Her head is in the clouds. His feet are planted firmly on the ground. Can love cover the distance?

Our story begins in August of 1812 in London, England. Cassandra Bainbridge may be a bit of a bluestocking ~ an educated, intellectual woman, but when Geoffrey Giles is near, love seems a fine alternative to passion for Greek and the physics of flight. With his dashing good looks and undying devotion to her, the earl of Whittaker sets Cassandra's heart racing with his very presence. It seems his only flaw is his distaste for ballooning, the obsession that consumes so much of her thoughts.

Cassandra has twice set aside her scholarly pursuits--once for the London Season and once for her wedding preparations. Love seems a wonderful alternative to study, until disaster strikes. When an accident brings an end to her betrothal, she heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. With time on her hands and good friends to help her, she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when Lord Whittaker slips back into her life, will she have to choose between him and her dream?

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. --Psalm 34:18

Are  Cassandra's good intentions marred by others around her? Is her father who he appears to be? Is Geoffrey free to live his honor or be blackmailed into the somber actions he would not choose?
Every kingdom divided against itself is ruined. A house divided against itself falls. --Luke 11:17b
Rawfolds Mill A page-turner to find out the turmoil brewing in these turbulent times erases any presumption on the part of the reader. A Flight of Fancy is deeper than the balloon sketching and math calculations to keep it afloat. Laurie Alice Eakes has a depth of discovery to be explored as this pair travels ~ separately, or together? And what of her younger sister who is waiting in the wings? Honore is watching and waiting... It is to be seen if she lives up to her name. Her story is next. But, before we go there, enjoy A Flight of Fancy as we continue from Book 1 to find out the happenings of The Daughters of Bainbridge House and their travels. Each book can be read as a "stand-alone" as the action within is enough to keep you busy connecting-the-dots. A family or two to be reckoned with. A tale of suspense and love tied into one in this Historical Fiction novel set in the times of upheaval for all, however hidden by their daily lives.

Choices of the Heart, Laurie Alice Eakes, 978-0-8007-1986-9
Laurie Alice Eakes
Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of The Midwives series: Lady in the Mist, Book 1,  Hearts Safe Passage, Book 2, and Book 3, Choices of the Heart, being released in January 2013; A Necessary Deception, and several other novels. Laurie Alice Eakes received a Bachelor of Arts in English and French from Asbury University and taught two years of high school English. She prefers, however, to teach adults to improve their writing craft, and in January of 2012, began the coursework to augment her Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction with a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats. A Flight of Fancy is Book 2 in The Daughters of Bainbridge House series. Book 1 is entitled, A Necessary Deception.
When young widow Lady Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreamed he would turn up in her parlor. But just as the London Season is getting under way, there he is, along with a few other questionable personages. While she should be focused on helping her headstrong younger sister prepare for her entrĂ© into London society, Lady Gale finds herself preoccupied with the mysterious Frenchman. Is he a spy or a suitor? Can she trust him? Or is she putting her family in danger?
   Readers will enjoy being drawn into this world of elegance and intrigue, balls and masquerades. Author Laurie Alice Eakes whisks readers through the drawing rooms of London amid the sound of rustling gowns on this exciting quest to let the past stay in the past and let love guide the future.

Honore, the third sister in the Daughters of Bainbridge series: Honore’s story, A Reluctant Courtship, will be released in the autumn of 2013.

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Thank you to Revell Blog Tour for inviting me to join the blog tour for Book 2 in the Daughters of Bainbridge House series, A Flight of Fancy. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my review in my own words. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, began over 125 years ago when D. L. Moody and his brother-in-law Fleming H. Revell saw the need for practical books that would help bring the Christian faith to everyday life. From there, Fleming H. Revell Publishing developed consistently solid lists which have enjoyed the presence of many notable Christian writers over the years. This same vision for books that are both inspirational and practical continues to motivate the Revell publishing group today. Whether publishing fiction, Christian living, self-help, marriage, family, or youth books, each Revell publication reflects relevance, integrity, and excellence. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

Enjoy Chapter 1
A Flight of Fancy
The Daughters of Bainbridge House Series- #2
By Laurie Alice Eakes

August 1812

Crowds swarmed around and jostled against the Whittaker carriage, slowing its progress from a trot to a crawl. Thick, oily smoke from torches penetrated the interior. Velvet curtains and cushions reeking of pitch felt ready to smother Miss Cassandra Bainbridge, who was already hot on this August night.
   “I think we would be better off walking in the crowd than riding in here.” She clutched her rose satin reticule in one hand and gripped her fiance’s arm with the other, as though ready to spring from the vehicle at any moment, which she was. “Perhaps we could take refuge in someone’s drawing room until these bacchanalians go home.”
   Beside her, Lord Geoffrey Giles, Earl of Whittaker, chuckled and covered her hand with his. “Only you would use a word like bacchanalian to describe a crowd of drunken debauchery.”
   “It is the proper word for those who have celebrated too freely with drink.” She glared at him down her long Bainbridge nose, though she could see little of his face in the gloom inside the carriage. “What should I call them?”
   “The right word, of course.” Whittaker shrugged, then moved his hand from her gloved fingers to her nose, to the place where her mirror warned her a crease was already forming between her eyes. Not that what her mirror said mattered much to Cassandra. That crease came from hours of honest study. She gripped her reticule more tightly, as it held the efforts of her latest project—the design of a balloon—and leaned toward Whittaker’s hand. Since the renewal of their engagement in June, the slightest brush of his fingertips came close to distracting her from thoughts of ballooning and Greek translations, and most definitely from wild, celebratory crowds worked to a fever pitch over Wellington finally winning a decisive battle against Napoleon’s troops in Spain. If Whittaker moved his hand to her cheek—
   A throng of young men slammed against the side of the carriage, tilting it onto two wheels. The horses whinnied and the coachman shouted. Cassandra screamed, a short burst of a cry, and Whittaker wrapped his arms around her, upsetting her elaborate coiffure and sending her hair tumbling around her shoulders. Her hair and Whittaker’s shoulder shielded her face against his coat lapel.
   “Le’s ‘ave a tide,” the drunken youths shouted in speech so slurred as to be scarcely comprehensible. “Don’ be shelfish, arishtocrat.”
   “Lord Mayor’s already stingy with t’luminations.”
   “More light. More light.” The chant grew deafening.
   Cassandra shivered now despite the heat. The men sounded angry, not celebratory. “They’re angry over too few illuminations to celebrate the victory?”
   “C’mon, Whittaker, open up.” The rattle of the door handle accompanied the command. “We ‘card yer lady.”
   “They know your carriage.” Cassandra raised her head. “But why would they assault you over too few lanterns and torches and such?”
   “It’s not me personally. The celebration seems to have gotten a bit rough, is all.” Whittaker stroked her hair. “Hush now. The doors are locked, the coachman and footman are armed, and I have a brace of pistols here in the carriage.”
   Shots rang out at that moment, the crack of a pistol, the boom of a blunderbuss fired into the air. Whinnying again, the horses lurched forward. Without Whittaker’s arms around her, Cassandra would have slid to the floor. She grasped his shoulder with one hand and twisted her fingers through her reticule strings with the other.
   The jostling and demands ceased, though the crowd did not disperse.
   “Perhaps we should have gone home with Christien and Lydia,” Cassandra said, maintaining her hold on her fiance and folded plans. “Christien is a trained soldier, after all.”
   “But this was the first opportunity we’ve had to be alone together for a week.” Whittaker flashed her a smile, then kissed the crease between her brows. “This wedding is keeping you from me so much I think we should have eloped like your sister.”
   “They did not elope.” Cassandra rubbed her head against Whittaker’s shoulder. “They simply got married by special license. But this is my first marriage and Mama wants everything just so.” She shuddered. “] hate every dress fitting and shopping excursion as much as I dislike this crowd.”
   Her ears strained for signs of the rough youths returning. She could distinguish nothing of them over the general din of the throng.
   “Where will I wear all those gowns in Lancashire?” she added.
   “You will need them when Parliament is in session and we are in town.”
   “But that’s not until spring.”
   “With the Americans declaring war, it is going to be this autumn.”
   “But you promised.” She started to pull away.
   “I did not declare war.” Whittaker tightened his hold and kissed her cheek.
   “And all spring the Luddites kept you away.”
   “I did not go smashing up looms either.” He kissed her lips.
   She decided to stop arguing with him for the moment. She forgot about the rowdy revelers outside the carriage. This, after all, was why they had taken Whittaker’s equipage instead of sharing one with her elder sister and her new husband—to be alone with her fiance for a few minutes of tenderness, for some time of forgetting that Mama wanted her to buy one more fan or pair of gloves, that Whittaker’s mama needed to introduce her to half a dozen more relatives, that Cassandra herself wanted to talk to her fellow aeronaut enthusiasts about her design. She simply wanted to remember this man whose glance, whose smile, whose touch, turned her heart to tallow. She needed moments like this like she needed nourishment for strength and air for breath.
   Except he robbed her of breath.
   Gasping, laughing, she drew back from his embrace—and began to cough. Nearby, something larger than torches blazed, the smoke heavy and sharp, thick inside the carriage. Around them, laughter and cheers had turned to bellows and protests, commands and threats.
   Cold perspiration broke out beneath the sleeves of her pelisse and trickled down her spine. “Whittaker … what’s wrong?”
   “I cannot be certain.” He leaned forward and lifted a corner of the window curtain. “A fire. That is obvious.” He sounded calm.
   Cassandra moved to the other side of the carriage so she could peek out the curtains too. Fire indeed. A carriage blazed in a side street. Men and women swirled around it, roaring incomprehensible but angry-sounding words, as though about to burn a body in effigy—or worse.
   “This was a celebration for Salamanca,” Cassandra protested. “Why the anger?”
   “Too many people and too much spirits combined can cause trouble.” He knelt before her and took her hands in his, letting the curtains fall over the window, leaving them in darkness—a private, sheltered cocoon despite the smoke. “We will be out of it soon and safely back to Bainbridge House.”
   “I was hoping we could go to the Chapter House. It’s perfectly respectable, and I have my plans to give—”
   “I am not taking you to a coffeehouse tonight. Your friends will have to wait for their balloon plans.” Beneath the tumult around the carriage, Cassandra thought he muttered, “Forever.”
   They had enjoyed such a pleasant evening with Lydia and her husband, she did not want to argue with Whittaker. He did not like her ballooning enthusiasm, but she would change his mind once they were married. Then she would have more freedom to move about, not constantly under her mother’s eye. Whittaker, not Father, would dictate her movements, and Whittaker was no dictator. Unless he did intend to stop her from pursuing aeronautics.
   She pursed her lips and squeezed his gloved fingers with her own, then released one of his hands to clutch at her precious reticule. “I think Lancashire will be perfect for ballooning once the harvest is in. All that flat land and the sea breezes.”
   “I think,” Whittaker said, “you will have no time for balloons once we are wed. Mother intends to leave the running of the house to you. She wants to travel, visit friends, but with the trouble with the Luddites, she has been afraid to do so.”
   “But—” Cassandra released his other hand. “I know little of household management. I thought she would be there, help me. Geoffrey, when were you going to tell me this?”
   “Mama was going to when she takes you to Gunter’s tomorrow.”
   “Oh, that.” Cassandra did not admit she had forgotten the engagement. “One of my ballooning friends—”
   “Enough about balloons. It is as much a passing fancy as was your translation of Homer.”
   “Homer was not a passing fancy at all.” Cassandra raised her chin. “I finished it. Then I saw the balloon and aeronautics—”
   He silenced her with another kiss.
   “What was that for?” she asked when she could catch her breath.
   “To ensure I am no passing fancy.”
   “You know you are not.” Because she had broken off their betrothal in the spring, she leaned forward this time and pressed her cheek to his, slipped her arms around his shoulders.
   He drew her off the seat so they squeezed into the footwell between the two benches. The cacophony of the crowd, the oiliness of smoke, and the jostling of the carriage ceased to matter, may as well have ceased to exist. Always he won her attention this way, sending the world packing, even her scholarly interests and now her enthusiasm for flight. If he was in the same room, she could not bear to be more than inches from him and felt as though a piece of her were missing every time he left.
   “I love you so much it scares me sometimes,” she murmured into his ear.
   A shudder ran through him. She understood why. He felt the same. Their profound attraction had gotten them reprimanded more than once, mostly by Cassandra’s sister Lydia. But now seven endless days stood between them and their wedding. She wished it were seven hours, or, better yet, seven minutes.
   They would reach Cavendish Square in little more than seven minutes unless more crowds stopped them. Chaperonage and separation. Annoying, dull dressmakers would crowd between them. Tea and cakes with his mother and embarrassing conversations with her own .. .
   Cassandra dropped her reticule so she could bury her fingers into Whittaker’s thick, dark hair. “Only a week,” she whispered.
   “Too long.” He drew her closer.
   Her hair tumbled over his hands. His cravat and her gown would be hopelessly crushed. Mama and her companion, Barbara, would lecture about proper conduct for a young lady. Her younger sister Honore would give her sly glances and giggle. Father would scowl at Whittaker and draw him aside for a “manly” conversation about propriety and dishonor. Cassandra did not care. Whittaker loved her despite her need to wear spectacles most of the time, despite her eccentric interest in Greek poets and flying machines. Surely once they were wed, he would understand she would die of boredom overseeing the household and stillroom and all those country housewife things, or, worse, being the London hostess for a member of the House of Lords. She accepted his proposal when he was plain Mr. Giles, a younger son. His becoming the earl due to an unfortunate accident to his elder brother did not change her. It certainly did not change his feelings for her. Alone in the carriage, every time they were alone, he made that amply clear. Marriage would be even better. So much—
   The carriage rocked again. More drunken voices shouted through the panels. The door handles rattled.
   Cassandra gasped. “Geoffrey.”
   “Stay down. I’ll fetch my pistols.” He started to rise. A strand of her hair caught on his cravat pin, halting him for a second.
   And in that moment, the window glass shattered.
   Cassandra screamed and ducked. Whittaker grabbed for his pistols. His feet tangled in Cassandra’s skirt, and they fell against the door—the door at which several revelers tugged. With their combined weight pushing and the bacchanalians pulling, the latch gave way. The door burst open.
   And Cassandra tumbled into the arms of a torchbearer.
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Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.