Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Duke's Promise ~ Book 3, A Forgotten Castles novel by Jamie Carie, ©2012

Award-winning writer Jamie Carie's trilogy comes to a close in this final novel in the Forgotten Castles series. It continues a love story filled with action-filled adventure, determining the trustworthiness of others met during their quest, and prominently, the importance of enduring faith to see them through.

“Revealing Secrets of the Kingdom one story at a time.”

From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen — Italy and the marble caves of Carrara — but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.
   Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other — a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.
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Following Books 1 and 2, The Guardian Duke and The Forgiven Duke, Book 3 continues the story of Alexandria and Gabriel as they now venture together to locate Alexandria's parents. A Duke's Promise may be read as a stand-alone novel, continuing their journey as newlyweds.

This fast-paced story takes you on a journey fraught with danger and excitement as this young couple set out together on their honeymoon. To any unsuspecting bystander, they appear just that. Excited to be together, exploring each day in their new surroundings. But it is further than that in their venture. More than one country is wanting the details of the findings of her parents' search for proof of Augusto de Carrara's manuscript, of value to each of them.

It is midsummer, 1819, as Alex and Gabriel leave London by ferry through the Strait of Dover, headed for Calais, France. After a scrimmage, they lose their guards and travel on by horseback to Paris. Their travel plans change as Madame Sophie Blanchard, a solo-flying balloonist, lands there. She agrees to fly them over the Swiss Alps to Italy, their destination in seeking Alex's parents. Arriving in Italy after being airborne, they are met once again by multiple seekers of this hoped for treasure for their country. It is necessary for Gabriel and Alex to learn to listen and work together, as they seek God's plan for them, individually and as a couple, for their journey.

***Thank you to author Jamie Carie for sending me a copy of A Duke's Promise to review in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell, ©2013

September 1910 ~*~ St. Louis, Missouri
Miss Lucy Kendall has just returned from traveling in Europe with her aunt and uncle. The Swiss Alps, Bavaria, Athens, Munich, Florence, ballrooms of Vienna, dressmakers in Paris ~ but her treasures she has brought back are Premium European Sweets! Her father owns City Confectionery, the makers of the famed Fancy Crush; that is after he has lost his original company, Standard Candy Manufacturing, and its prime recipe for Royal Taffy.

Mr. Charles Clarke recently has come through Union Station too. He is the son of the owner of Standard Manufacturing. Left by his father as a young boy, Charlie is now becoming reacquainted with the man who lives in luxury while he, his mother and sisters lived in Chicago's struggling South Side.
Your past is not as important as your future. Did you know that? Can't change anything about what you've been, but you can change who you'll become.
   --Unrivaled, 17
At a chance meeting, Lucy and Charlie bump into each other. Literally. They continue on, never forgetting each other. They have no idea they are "competitors." She trying to come up with a new candy to save her family's failing business. He to come to the recognition of his father; to succeed. They are thrown together in "polite society." As their hearts yearn for betterment, they yearn in earnest for each other.

Intricately, they try to outmaneuver each other. Yes, by now, they know their family distinctions. There were no business practices that were governed locally, as they try to outwit each other in keeping their candies before the public eye ~ or saliva-savoring candy wrapper images, that is!

This is a sweet tale of trust developing, overtaking the bitter pill of competition in staying on top and in the forefront. Soul-searching and finding all they need in the One who can give life to them, individually and together. Freely receiving God's gift of grace. Not one better or worse than another; His love freely available to receive. My paraphrase of Lamentations 2:14, "It is necessary for your iniquity to be exposed, so as to release you from captivity." So true. Unrivaled.

I read Unrivaled in one day. Such a good story. I liked the decision Alfred Arthur makes to stand for love. A seemingly sub-character frees others to go beyond appearances and be real. I liked reading about the homemade taffy-making in Lucy's home kitchen. When I was a little girl, the teens would come to our home and have a taffy-pull party. We saved the "Sunbeam Girl" 4-inch wrapper from the middle of the bread packaging. It was waxed on one side and just right to wrap the taffy pieces. Buttery and sticky, it was pulled until it was a light color. I sure enjoyed the melt in your mouth taffy!

Siri Mitchell, author of  She Walks in Beauty, A Heart Most Worthy, The Messenger

Product Details:
Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764207970
ISBN-13: 978-0764207976
Back Cover: Falling in Love could be a recipe for disaster ~
Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.
   Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget.

***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a copy of Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell to review in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Celebrate Unrivaled with Siri Mitchell by entering to win a Kindle Fire and joining her on April 18th for a Facebook Author Chat Party!

One "swooning" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Vintage Candy Kit
  • Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell (one for you and one for a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 17th. Winner will be announced at the "Unrivaled" Author Chat Facebook Party on 4/18. Connect with Siri, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books, vintage candy kits, and more!

So grab your copy of Unrivaled and join Siri on the evening of the April 18th for a chance to connect with Siri and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mountain Homecoming by Sandra Robbins, ©2013 Book 2, Smoky Mountain Dreams Series

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 (March 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen 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.


In the second book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins spins a tender tale of God's faithfulness throughout the generations.

Rani Martin, Simon and Anna's only daughter, is a beautiful and spirited young woman living deep in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. She has plenty of ideas about the man she'll marry someday, but none of them could have prepared her for the return of Matthew Jackson.

Matthew left Cades Cove as a child after his father's death. Now he's come back to build a new life for himself, and it's his dearest wish that Rani be a part of that life. But the people of the Cove won't let him forget the sins of his father, and Matthew can't forget the darkness of his own past.

Is there a place for Matthew in the Cove? And can the light of Rani's love overcome his pain?

I really enjoyed this book. I read it in one day. Simon and Anna Martin have twins, a son and daughter, approaching their 19th birthdays. Angel of the Cove is the first book in the series about Simon and Anna meeting. This book can be read as a stand-alone. Stephen is in college and his sister, Ranita, known as Rani, is at home with their parents. Simon is a preacher and Anna is a midwife, following in the footsteps of Granny, who now lives with them. She is delightful. Full of sage wisdom and matters of the heart. In fact, they are related by the heart, and not blood. Mountain Homecoming is aptly named. It is the story of coming home to the intent of the heart placed by God. Matthew Jackson has worked for the railroad, earning enough money to buy his homestead back in Cades Cove, Tennessee. It is June of 1914, as the story opens.

Matthew Jackson is welcomed by Rani's family and the neighbors come together to help him rebuild his home, long-standing unoccupied. Those who stand against him have unresolved sin and pain of their own. Yearning to be received, Matthew continues to build and reach out, until the confrontation with his father's past, and his own.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 
    -- Matthew 11:28-30

Product Details:
Mountain Homecoming
by Sandra Robbins
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948864
ISBN-13: 978-0736948869


Cades Cove, Tennessee
June, 1914

Rani Martin stared through the cabin window at the Smoky Mountains rising above the valley she loved. Usually the sight of the foggy mists curling around the hills made her happy. But try as she might, she couldn’t find anything to cheer her up today.
   There had to be something that would take away the misery gnawing in the pit of her stomach. Poppa always told her she could do anything she set her mind to, but she didn’t know how she could be happy about losing the best friend any girl could ever have.
   After today, there would be no reason for her to visit this cabin. Tomorrow Josie Ferguson and her husband, Ted, would load their belongings in their wagon, take their baby, and do what many of their friends and neighbors had already done—move out of Cades Cove. Josie, the one she’d shared secrets with all her life, would be gone, and Rani would be left behind with only memories of her best friend since childhood.
   She didn’t understand what any of the folks who’d left the Cove were thinking. How could they leave the most beautiful place on God’s good earth?
   It was springtime, the best time of year in the Cove. The winter snow had melted and the mountain laurel was in bloom. It wouldn’t be long before rhododendrons dotted the mountainsides and azaleas reappeared on Gregory’s Bald. This year, however, Josie wouldn’t be with her to share the wonder of the Cove coming back to life after a hard winter.
   To Rani the prospect of living anywhere except the mountain valley where she’d been born scared her. She’d had an opportunity to see what existed in the outside world when she spent a year attending school while living with Uncle Charles in Maryville. It had been enough to convince her that life wasn’t nearly as good anywhere else as it was in the Cove. But others didn’t share her thoughts, and they’d left. And now Josie was going too.
   With a sigh she turned back to the task she’d abandoned moments ago, helping pack up the kitchen utensils. Her throat constricted as she pulled the cake plate she and her mother had given Josie from the kitchen cupboard. She wrapped her fingers around the pierced handles and stared down at the hand-painted red and yellow roses on the delicate china dish. She’d thought it the most beautiful plate she’d ever seen when she first spied it at the store in Pigeon Forge.
   Tears filled her eyes, and she loosened her grip with one hand so she could trace the gold band on the fluted rim. “I can’t believe it’s been three years since your wedding.”
   Josie Ferguson bit down on her lip and nodded. “Ted’s always said this was his favorite of all our wedding gifts. It reminds him of the molasses cake your mother let him and his sister help make the day George was born.”
   “I’ve heard Mama tell that story so many times. But she has one about every baby she’s helped deliver.”
   “She’s been a blessing to the women she’s helped birth their babies. Everybody loves Anna Martin.” Josie’s eyes grew wide. “And of course your father too. I don’t think I can ever love another pastor like I do your pa. I’ve listened to him on Sundays ever since I can remember.”
   “But you won’t be there anymore.” Rani set the plate down on the table and glanced at the baskets and tubs scattered across the kitchen floor. Pots, pans, and cooking utensils protruded above their sides. The tears she’d been holding back poured down her face, and she covered her eyes with her fingers. “First my brother decides to spend the summer at Uncle Robert’s farm in Strawberry Plains instead of coming home from school, then my cousin Annie gets married and moves to Townsend. Now you’re going too. What will I do with all of you gone? I’m going to feel so alone.”
   “No, you won’t.”
   Rani dug her fists into her eyes to stop the tears and gritted her teeth. “Why couldn’t Stephen have come home when school was out at Milligan College instead of spending the summer on Uncle Robert’s farm?”
   Josie propped her hands on her hips and tilted her head to one side. “You know why.”
   “Yeah,” Rani sighed. “He didn’t want to hear Poppa talk to him all summer about following in his footsteps. I don’t know why Poppa can’t see that Stephen doesn’t feel led to preach even though he agreed to that year at Milligan College. He wants to go to medical school. Of course that’s what Mama wants too. I’m glad they don’t have that problem with me. I don’t want to live anywhere but right here in Cades Cove…even if I am going to be alone.”
   Josie rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Like I said, you won’t be alone. You’ll have your ma and pa, and Stephen will be here for a visit in July.” Josie wrapped her arms around Rani’s shoulders and hugged her close. “I’m the one who’s going to be alone. I won’t know anybody over at Townsend. You know Ted never has taken to farming, and there’s nothing else for him in the Cove. His new job pays real good. They’re going to furnish us a house too.”
   Rani drew back in shock and gaped at Josie. “House? Have you seen what that high and mighty Little River Logging Company calls houses? I went with Poppa to Townsend last month, and I couldn’t believe what the workers were living in. They call them setoff houses because they bring them in on railroad cars and set them off on the hillsides or even right next to the railroad. They’re nothing more than one-room shacks with tar paper roofs. When the lumber company gets through cutting all the trees in one place, they load the houses onto a train and ship them to the next spot for their workers.”
   Josie’s lip trembled, and her forehead wrinkled. “I know.” Her voice was almost a whisper. “But what can I do, Rani? Ted is my husband. We have to go where he can find work.”
   Rani gazed past Josie to the cradle in the next room. “I can’t stand to think about you living in one of those things, especially now since you have a baby. Can’t you convince Ted to stay in Cades Cove? This is the only life you know.”
   Josie pulled the corner of her apron up and wiped her eyes. She took a deep breath. “We’ll be fine. I’ll come back to visit, and you can come to Townsend to see me.”
   Rani snorted and shook her head. “No thanks. I have no desire to share a one-room setoff house with you and your husband, not to mention your baby. I can’t believe Ted would be so disloyal to the Cove to go work for a company that’s trying to destroy our mountains.”
   “Are you accusing my husband of turning his back on his friends?” Josie’s eyes flared and grew dark with anger.
   Rani had seen that look before and realized she’d gone too far. She really needed to follow her mother’s advice and not be so outspoken about the company she thought was using the Smokies as a quick way to make money. Her opinion of Little River Lumber differed from that of many who’d left to work for the logging company. Now she had sounded like she believed Ted to be a traitor to his friends.
   She reached out and grasped Josie’s arm. “I’m sorry, Josie. I didn’t mean to criticize Ted. It’s just that I’ve been so upset over what Little River’s doing to our mountains. Colonel Townsend has bought 86,000 acres of forest land all the way from Tuckaleechee to Clingman’s Dome. I don’t care if he does own the company, he’s a foolish man. They’re cutting every tree in their path. If somebody doesn’t stop them, the Smokies will end up as barren hillsides.”
   Josie waved her hand in dismissal. “As usual, you’re being overly dramatic. That’s not going to happen. Like I said before, they pay well, and we need the money. End of discussion.”
   Rani opened her mouth to respond, but the set of Josie’s jaw told her it would be useless. With a sigh, she picked up the cake plate from the table and handed it to Josie. “I hope you’ll think of me every time you use this.”
   Josie took the plate and clasped it in her hands like she held a priceless treasure. For the first time Rani caught a glimpse of fear in Josie’s eyes, and the truth struck her. Josie didn’t want to leave Cades Cove, but she had no choice.
   “I will,” Josie whispered. “I wanted this to be the last thing I packed. After all, you’re my best friend.”
   Rani burst into tears and threw her arms around Josie. “We’re more than best friends. I think of you as the sister I never had. ”
   “Me too.” Josie pulled back and wiped at the corner of her eyes. “But you know we could really be sisters.”
   Josie’s words shattered the mood of moments ago and swept all the sadness from Rani’s mind. She took a step backward and wagged her finger in Josie’s direction. “Oh no. Don’t start that again.”
   “Why not? George is crazy about you. All he talks about is how he wants to marry you, and you won’t give him any encouragement. If you married him, we’d be family. Sisters-in-law.”
   Rani couldn’t believe they were having this conversation again. “I’ve told you at least a hundred times that George is a good friend, but I don’t love him. Even if I did, I don’t think I’d marry him.”
   A skeptical expression crossed Josie’s face. “What’s the matter? Isn’t he good looking enough for you?”
   Rani’s mouth gaped open at the ridiculous suggestion. “Oh, Josie, you know I would never think that. The truth is George is the youngest child in his family, and he’s spoiled rotten. If he doesn’t get his way, he sulks for days. I wouldn’t want a husband that I have to coddle and give in to all the time.”
   Josie dropped her gaze to the cake plate she held and wrapped a burlap sack around it before she tucked it in the side of one of the baskets. “I have to admit you’re right. As a matter of fact, Ted told me George had an awful argument with his pa the other night. It seems he’s upset because he’s going to be left behind in the Cove after we leave.”
   Rani held up her hands in exasperation. “You see what I mean. George can only see what he wants. He doesn’t realize what a great opportunity he has to work with his father on one of the best farms in the Cove.”
   “But, Rani, you know he’s in love with you. That ought to be enough to make him a good husband.”
   “Maybe it would be for somebody else, but not for me. I’m just eighteen years old. I have plenty of time to think about getting married. When I do, it’s going to be because I love a man so much my heart aches when I’m away from him.”
   Josie turned to Rani and propped her hands on her hips. “Yeah, you’ve always had those romantic ideas. I think it must come from all those stories about how hard it was for your pa to get your mother to marry him.” She leaned closer to Rani. “Well, for those of us who don’t have a great love like that happen in our lives, we have to settle for the next best thing. It’s not like there’s a lot of men to choose from in the Cove. Being married to George is better than ending up an old maid.”
   Rani flinched at Josie’s words. She remembered how Josie had cried four years ago when Charlie Simmons left the Cove, bound for California. At the time she’d thought it was because he was Ted’s friend. Now she wasn’t so sure. “Is that what you did, Josie? You settled for the next best thing?”
   Josie’s face drained of color, and she put her hand to her throat. “Rani, I didn’t mean…”
   “What’s goin’ on in here?”
   At the sound of her husband’s voice at the back door Josie’s body stiffened, and she glanced over her shoulder. Rani’s heart lurched at the lack of expression on Josie’s face. She might very well have been looking at a stranger who’d come to her door instead of her husband. “I need to check on the baby,” she said, and hurried from the kitchen.
   Ted Ferguson frowned and gazed after his wife as she hurried into the next room. His eyes darkened, and the look in his eyes told Rani he longed for something he would never have from Josie. After a moment he took a deep breath and smiled at her. “You two havin’ another one of your friendly arguments?”
   Rani forced a laugh from her throat and wiped her eyes. “No argument. We’re just a little emotional over the two of you leaving the Cove. It seems all my friends are taking off for different places. My family may be the only one left before long.”
   Ted shook his head. “Naw, you won’t be. They’ll have to drag my pa out of the Cove to get him to leave. He says he intends to be buried at the church he’s gone to all his life.”
   “That’s what my pa says too.” Rani picked up the empty basket sitting on the table. “I left you some fried chicken and a fresh loaf of bread that Mama sent. She thought you might get hungry on your way to Townsend tomorrow.”
   “She always thinks about other folks. Tell her I’m mighty obliged, and I hope I see her soon.”
   “I will.”
   Ted followed Rani into the next room where Josie was holding her son. No one spoke for a moment, then Josie swallowed and handed the baby to Ted. “Take care of Jimmy a minute while I walk Rani out.”
   As Rani stepped onto the front porch, she glanced down at her dog lying next to the door. She snapped her fingers, and he jumped to his feet. He shook his shaggy body, wagged his tail, and awaited her command. It was so easy to communicate with animals. Give them love, feed them well, and reward them for good behavior, and they’d do anything you asked. Too bad people weren’t like that.
   Josie had a husband who did all that for her, but today Rani had discovered the secret Josie had kept so well hidden—she would never be able to return Ted’s love. Rani didn’t want to end up like that.
   With a sigh, she reached down and stroked her dog’s head. “Good boy, Scout. You did what I said. Now let’s go home.”
   With Scout at her heels, she and Josie walked to the road that ran in front of the cabin. As they neared the edge of the yard, Rani turned to Josie. “I’m going to miss you.”
   “I’m going to miss you too. We’re leaving early in the morning. So I guess I won’t see you again. I hope you will come visit me in Townsend. We’ll make room.”
   Rani nodded. “We’ll see. You take care of yourself. And Ted and little Jimmy too.”
   Josie smiled, but Rani could see the tears she was fighting to control. “Goodbye, Rani.”
   Rani started to speak, but the words froze in her throat. She pressed her lips together and hugged her friend before she turned and started the long walk home. Scout trotted along beside her, and she didn’t look back. She wanted to, but she didn’t think she could stand the sight of Josie watching her walk away.
   She glanced down at the dog and smiled. “Well, Scout, it’s a two-mile walk home. Do you think you can make it?”
   The dog stared up at her and yelped a reply without breaking his stride.
   “I think I can too.”
   She didn’t mind walking. It had always been her way of getting around the Cove, and it gave her time to think. Today she had a lot to mull over. Her discovery about Josie’s feelings that she had settled for the next best thing still bothered her. She’d never imagined that Josie might have been in love with someone else.
   Now that she thought back to four years ago, she remembered Josie seeming happy all summer. At the time, all she would say was that she’d had her first kiss and was in love. Rani thought it had to be Ted because he had been in love with Josie for years. But it must have been Charlie Simmons, and things hadn’t worked out. And soon after Charlie’s departure from the Cove, Josie had agreed to marry Ted after putting him off for so long.
   Today she had learned the truth. Josie had settled for something—someone—she didn’t want. How could she have done that? She must have thought she was doing the right thing, but she’d been wrong. And she was wrong about something else. Being an old maid wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to a woman. To Rani’s way of thinking, being married to someone you didn’t love was far worse.
   She squared her shoulders, clenched her fists at her side, and looked down at Scout. “I promise you, Scout, I will never settle for second best, even if it means I never get married.”


From the moment he rode into Cades Cove a peace like he hadn’t experienced in years came over Matthew Jackson. He pulled his horse to a stop and breathed in the sweet scent of mountain laurel drifting on the air. It smelled like home. He was back where his heart had remained.
   Had it really been twenty years since he left the Cove? He closed his eyes and tried to recall every memory of the days following the death of his drunkard father. Even now the thought of the life he, his mother, and his little brother had endured made the old anger he’d tried to bury resurface. With his father drunk most of the time, survival had been hard. But his mother had seen to it that there was always food on the table. Then their lives had taken a turn for the worse when a tavern brawl had ended with his father lying dead of a gunshot wound.
   Matthew had been almost ten years old at the time, but overnight he became the man of the family. He’d turned to a newcomer in the Cove, Anna Prentiss. Of course she was Anna Martin now. But to him she’d always be the angel who’d found a place for his family to live and had seen they were taken care of.
   He even remembered the last words he’d spoken to her the day they left the Cove. She stood beside the wagon loaded with his family’s few belongings, and he’d said, “I’ll be back here someday.” And now, thanks to the money he’d saved working for the Little River Company, he had returned with the deed to his old homestead in his pocket.
   But would the people of the Cove welcome the return of Luke Jackson’s son? His father had been a troublemaker and a bully, not to mention an abuser of his wife and children. The sturdy mountain folks didn’t have time for a man who didn’t take care of his family. As his mother used to say, people have long memories, and he was sure they could recall every one of his father’s misdeeds. Now he was about to see if those memories had labeled him a ne’er-do-well like his father.
   He could count on one hand the folks who would welcome him back. Simon and Anna Martin. Granny Lawson. They were the ones who made his childhood bearable, and he could hardly wait to see them. But first things first. He had to go to the place where he was born and fulfill a promise he’d made to his dying mother fifteen years ago.
   He’d leaned close to her frail, fever-ridden body to catch her last words spoken in that familiar mountain twang: “When you git back to the Cove, see if    ’n my mountain laurel bush is still there, the one yore pa planted for me when we was first married.”
   After all the heartache his father had put her through, she still held to the memory of the early days of her marriage when she’d been so happy. Even now the thought of how her eyes had sparkled for a moment, reliving a happier time, made him feel as if a hammer had crushed his heart. His mother and little Eli, his brother. Gone too soon.
   He cleared his throat and swiped at his eyes. No need to think about those things now. This was homecoming day, but it was different from what he’d dreamed about when he was a boy. He’d come back alone.
   Straightening in the saddle, he spurred the horse forward and concentrated on the road twisting through the valley he loved. All around him were the sights and sounds he’d longed for, but he focused on getting home and seeing the place he’d left twenty years ago.
   When he pulled the horse to a halt at what had once been the cabin where he’d lived, his heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. It was worse than he’d expected. The skeleton of a cabin sat near the tulip poplar tree he’d climbed as a boy—bigger now than he remembered. The house’s roof had long ago succumbed to the forces of nature and had caved in. A few timbers marked the spot where it had once been. Weeds grew across what had once been a yard.
   Even in its best days the cabin hadn’t been much, but it could have been if his father had concentrated on making a life for his family instead of spending his time in a drunken stupor. The old hatred welled up in his heart, and he whispered the plea he’d prayed every day since he could remember. “God, don’t let me be like him. Make me a better man.”
   The promise he’d made his mother flashed into his mind, and he climbed down from the horse and tied the reins to a sapling. Taking a deep breath to slow his racing heart, he headed around the side of the house. Had the mountain laurel plant survived the years?
   His gaze drifted to his feet, and a warning flickered in his head. The weeds along what used to be a path had been trampled. Someone else had passed this way not long ago.
   With hesitant steps, he inched forward. The knee-high weeds swished against his legs. He caught sight of his mother’s plant that now towered higher than his head, and he stopped in amazement. It wasn’t the bloom-covered bush that made his breath catch in his throat. It was a young woman who appeared unaware of his presence. With her arms outstretched and her face turned up to the sun, she whirled in circles in front of the mountain laurel bush while saying something in a language he didn’t understand.
   Her bare feet hammered the hardened earth around the plant in a pounding rhythm. Pink blooms from the mountain laurel bush ringed the top of her head and several more protruded from the mass of black hair that reached below her shoulders.
   She moved with the grace and elegance of a queen, and he thought he had never seen anyone more beautiful. He tried to speak, to alert her she wasn’t alone, but he felt as if he had come under her spell and had been forbidden to move.
   Suddenly the air crackled with frantic barking, and a dog emerged from the other side of the bush. His hackles raised, he positioned himself between Matthew and the girl. She jerked to a stop and stared at him, wide-eyed. The dog snarled and inched forward.
   Her dark eyes narrowed, and with one snap of her fingers she quieted the dog. She didn’t move, and her arched eyebrow told him his company wasn’t welcomed. “Stay back, mister, or I’ll sic my dog on you.”
   He glanced down at the dog, whose body still bristled as if he was ready to attack. “I don’t mean you any harm, miss.”
   “Then why did you sneak up on me?”
   He shook his head. “I didn’t. I stopped when I heard your voice. What were you saying?”
   “Just some words I learned from a Cherokee woman.” She frowned and glanced past him. “Are you alone?”
   “I am. I just rode into the Cove from Townsend.”
   Her body stiffened, and her lips curled into a sneer. “Townsend? Are you with the Little River Company?”
   “I have been.”
   “It figures.” She spit the words at him as if they were distasteful. “We get a lot of Little River workers checking out the Cove. You people are always searching for another stand of timber to cut down, aren’t you?” She bent down, grabbed her discarded shoes, and slipped them on her feet. Then with her arms rigid at her sides and her fists clenched, she took a step toward him. “Well, you can go back and tell your bosses we don’t sell our land and our trees to outsiders who want to clear cut their way through the Smokies.”
   The defiant look in her eyes shot daggers at him, and they felt as if they poked deep holes in his heart. This girl’s words echoed the fierce pride shared by all the Cove residents for this valley, his valley, the place he called home. He wanted to tell her he agreed with her, that all he wanted was to live again among the people he remembered. Instead, other words emerged from his lips. “I worked for their railroad, not the logging company.”
   She shook her head, and one of the blooms tumbled to the ground. Her eyes widened, and she glanced up as if she’d forgotten she wore a crown of flowers. A flush covered her cheeks, and she yanked the blossoms from her thick hair. “They’re the same to me. Maybe you didn’t cut our trees, but you carried them away.”
   Matthew swallowed hard. There was something so familiar about this girl. Her brown eyes, dark complexion, and the high cheekbones reminded him of someone. It wasn’t possible he could have met her before. She probably hadn’t even been born when he had left the Cove. But still, there was something. He took a step closer, and the dog growled. With a smile he stopped and held up his hands. “I’m not coming closer.”
   “Good.” She sniffed and snapped her fingers again. “Let’s go, Scout. It’s time we got home.”
   He didn’t move as she strode past him, her head held high and her dog at her side. He turned and watched her disappear around the side of what had once been his home. Her straight back and determined stride reminded him of the spirited mountain women he’d known. They attacked the harsh life in the Cove and planted the seed of unyielding loyalty to the land in their children. Just like his mother had done with him.
   Someone had instilled that same devotion in this girl. He hoped he’d get to meet the person who had done that, for he had just encountered the fierce mountain pride that had ruled his life. And it thrived in the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

One Glorious Ambition: The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix ~ A Novel by Jane Kirkpatrick, ©2013

It's time, it's time! A new novel by Jane Kirkpatrick! Historical Fiction is my very favorite genre. This book is about Dorothea Dix, best known for her care reform for mentally ill patients.

As ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
   --Matthew 25:40

I love the thoroughness of Jane Kirkpatrick's novels. I am eager to join in discovering the life of Dorothea Dix.

Dorothea Dix had a strong undertaking of freedom for others to the greatest of her ability. An advocate where others turned away.

My Review:
One Glorious Ambition begins sooner than she realizes. Dorothea Dix strives to find her place. She is compassionate and caring. She longs to shelter her brothers but finds that she must leave them with the knowledge of her love for them and her openness to receive them wherever she is. She was motivated in schooling young girls, to educate and train them in reaching their full potential in whatever chosen as their life goal. She wore herself to a frazzle with all of the classes she held and wanting the accomplishments for her students. In the late afternoons and evenings she opened her carriage house school where she taught those who could not pay for their education.
Give me to know that but one human being has been made better by my precepts, more virtuous by my example, and I shall possess a treasure that the world can never take from me.
   --Dorothea Dix, One Glorious Ambition, 88
As much as she struggled, she was often misunderstood in her striving to elevate others in preference to herself. She became quite ill and came under the care of William and Elizabeth Rathbone at their Greenbank estate home. Regaining her health, she sees modeled in those around her:
The people hovering around the central fires at Greenbank were interested in the world around them and active in their pursuit of ministry without being demanding of others. They paced themselves in their work and thus had much to draw on for the care of others. They gave their time, their strengths, as well as their money. God's love, that's what should burn the fire in the hearth of a home.
   --Ibid., 160
Places you have never imagined. Through turns of events, Dorothea is asked to take a Sunday school in an East Cambridge jail.

Perhaps these women didn't know their purpose, hadn't been given the news that they were loved by one greater than all others, a love that could help them make a better life when they left this place.
   --Ibid., 184

Before leaving, Dorothea goes to the building across the way; the one she had been warned against.
If I am cold, they are cold; if I am weary,
they are distressed; if I am alone, they are
   --Dorothea Dix
In that moment, Dorothea knew: it was beyond them to change by themselves. They could not help it, might never change at all, but each of them deserved to be treated with kindness, care, hope. She could see that now. They needed others--they needed her.
   --Ibid., 191

It has always amazed me how the very small thing I was likely even unaware of, is what the Lord used in a larger way later in my life. Prepared in advance for what He had for me to do. Dorothea's life purpose is becoming very clear to her. What she avoided has now become her champion. She has discovered her place in His path before her.
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You
   --Mark Altrogge,
"One Pure and Holy Passion" 
In August [2012], after 150 years serving the North Carolina’s mentally ill, Dorothea Dix hospital closed its doors. Many of the patients were transferred to a hospital in Butner.
Here is a current history link: (Type in Dorothea Dix at the bottom search for several articles.)

One Glorious Ambition - Jane Kirkpatrick
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781400074310
Release: April 2, 2013
Fiction - Historical
One Glorious Ambition
by Jane Kirkpatrick

JANE KIRKPATRICK has authored more than twenty books, including The Daughter's Walk and Where Lilacs Still Bloom. A lively speaker, Jane is a frequent keynote presenter for conferences, women's retreats, fund-raisers, and workshops. Jane believes that our lives are the stories that others read first, and she encourages groups to discover the power of their own stories to divinely heal and transform. She lives with her husband., Jerry, in Central Oregon.
   Introducing Jane Kirkpatrick, a speaking sample ~ wouldn't it be fun to sit under Jane's tutelage?
   I so enjoy her blog posts. As an author, speaker, and mental health professional, she is well-versed. "To fit things into tight places." This part of the 8-minutes-only of her talk, caught my attention. This is what she has done! So many intricate, delicate words, woven into lives that thread into ours!
   Thank you, Jane Kirkpatrick, for your wonderful writing style expressed through life. Strength and flexibility.

Author, Jane Kirkpatrick,

Most of my novels are based on the lives of historical women and this woman, Dorothea Dix, engaged me as she was an early reformer for mental health, something I've been involved with myself for many, many years. This quote of Dorothea's is also an inspiring thought:
 "In a world where there is so much to be done. 
I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do." 
~Dorothea Dix 1802-1887.

Book Description:
One dedicated voice to the suffering of many
    Born to an unavailable mother and an abusive father, Dorothea Dix longs simply to protect and care for her younger brothers, Charles and Joseph. But at just fourteen, she is separated from them and sent to live with relatives to be raised properly. Lonely and uncertain, Dorothea discovers that she does not possess the ability to accept the social expectations imposed on her gender and she desires to accomplish something more than finding a suitable mate.
   Yearning to fulfill her God-given purpose, Dorothea finds she has a gift for teaching and writing. Her pupils become a kind of family, hearts to nurture, but long bouts of illness end her teaching and Dorothea is adrift again. It’s an unexpected visit to a prison housing the mentally ill that ignites an unending fire in Dorothea’s heart—and sets her on a journey that will take her across the nation, into the halls of the Capitol, befriending presidents and lawmakers, always fighting to relieve the suffering of what Scripture deems, the least of these.

***Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah blogging for Books for sending me an Advance Reading Copy of Jane Kirkpatrick's novel, One Glorious Ambition, in exchange for a review in my own words. This novel is available for pre-order and will be released on April 2, 2013.***

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Scent of Lilacs by Ann H. Gabhart, ©2013

Scent of Lilacs

"Scent of Lilacs was my first book published in the Christian market. The story set in my fictional little town of Hollyhill was picked as one of Booklist's Top Ten Christian Novels that year, but then the story went out of print. Well, now it's back with a brand new cover as Jocie and all the eccentric characters of Hollyhill are ready to hit the shelves again in March 2013 with a heart-tugging Small Town, America story that might make you smile or have you wiping away a tear. Booklist's reviewer said..."real drama emerges as Jocie explores her family's secrets in this universal tale of growing up."
   --Author Ann H. Gabhart

Book Overview:

After the summer of 1964, life for Jocie Brooke will never be the same.

Life-changing events rarely happen in quiet Hollyhill, Kentucky, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for young Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once during the humid summer of 1964. Though on the surface things are just fine, it seems like everyone in Jocie’s life has something they’re not saying, something they’re hiding from her--and from themselves. As Jocie digs into her family’s past, she stirs up a whirlwind of discoveries. Will she find the answers everyone so desperately needs? Or will her questions lead to truths better left hidden?
Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story from bestselling author Ann Gabhart explores the very essence of new life and love.

My Review:

Jocie is delightful and a fine friend. Feisty, exploratory, exempt from shyness, she becomes a Nancy Drew sleuth for her modern day. Do you find your name in her journaling?

I was not aware of Jocie's story's first release. I am glad she is back!

This is a story for any generation. Jocie is any little girl ~ well, maybe not all ~ but she is me! My mother died when I was five, a month before my sixth birthday. A girl from a farming community came and stayed with us during my first and second year of school when she was a junior and senior in high school. I had those clip on skates that I would rollerskate all over town. The parts of the sidewalks that weren't yet, that were sand, kind of clogged up my wheels. I kept going to the hardware store to have the man fix my skates because the screw on the bottom kept coming apart because my foot kept getting bigger! I knew which grandma baked pies. She was our little town's postmaster with curly white hair and twinkly blue eyes. Her granddaughter Susie visited from Milwaukee. She was a clean little girl. I always had grass-stains on my pant knees. So, as you can see I was ready for Jocie and her adventures. I had been on some of them too.

Jocie's daddy owns the newspaper in Hollyhill. She helps out a lot there. It is summertime. Jocie's mom and older sister leave in the night when Jocie is six. Now she is thirteen and they come home from evening church to find her sister Tabitha waiting on the front porch. She is here to stay from California. Kentucky is a long way off and she has taken buses to get here. Their Aunt Love keeps the home front together as much as she can remember. She walks off and leaves things browning on the stove sometimes. Their daddy, David Brooke, is an interim pastor, that is until he would accept their offer of full-time. You will love the characters you will meet in Hollyhill, Kentucky. This is a story to read and re-read. A story of any time, any place. A story of caring and love for one another. Lazy days of summer reveal a lot if you look for truth and find it in the right places.
The eternal God is thy refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms:
and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee;
and shall say, Destroy them.
   --Deuteronomy 33:27
Truth always prevails.

Author Ann H. Gabhart:
Author Photo by Portraits by Jenn Duvall

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several novels, including Angel Sister, Words Spoken True, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Find out more at

Thank you to Revell Blog Tour Network Historical Fiction for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Ann Gabhart's Scent of Lilacs. I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for my review in my own words. No other compensation was received.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Katie Ganshert's Wishing on Willows, ©2013

WoW preorder for website

Before anything else, you must go here and listen to Clair de Lune ~ my very favorite. My father played this on our Baby Grand when I was small and I have always loved it!

And... a snippet of recipes from Willow Tree Café is there as well!

Wishing on Willows
Wishing on Willows
Follow Robin as she learns how to love again. Holding on so tightly, her world begins to fall apart until she leans on the One who can hold it all together. Peace. My star?? Caleb.
She slipped off her shoes and climbed the stairs into the living room where Linda hung finger-painted pictures over the television and hummed backup to a bare-chested Caleb's enthusiastic yet off key rendition of "The Farmer and the Dell" [Who cares if it is Farmer in the dell!]. He sat on the sofa sans shirt, bouncing his legs and bobbing his head to the beat. As soon as she peeked over the banister, his face lit with a grin. It was the best kind of greeting.
   --Wishing on Willows, 75
Robin and Micah dreamed of having a café like the unexpected ones they sought out on their honeymoon. Lilting laughter, joy, completeness, dreams, children. Only Micah soon dies. Willow Tree Café is more than a dream. It is a combination of who they are, who they wanted to be. Bethany, Robin's sister-in-law, helps her make their dream come true as they put photos Micah took onto canvas and surround the walls with them ~ fresh pastries, breads, and coffees wafting out onto the sidewalk as music comes from within. The music of Robin's heart. Expecting their child, their dream is here. Healing, memories, hope. Now Caleb is almost four, and the music remains.
Ian took a deep breath and braced himself in the booth. This was it. Dad's company. People's jobs. Ian's reputation. All of it hinged upon today's meeting.
   --Ibid., 31
A large employer is expanding to their small town of Peaks, Iowa. Developers, McKay Development and Construction, have come in advance with plans for condominiums. Readying for the population boom that will boost the economy and tax revenue, keeping the workers downtown before they look elsewhere for housing.
The mayor stopped chewing, worry lines crowding around his eyes. "I do wish we could leave Willow Tree Café out of the mix. Robin makes a killer latte. She's a nice woman. Very passionate about what she does."
   --Ibid., 33
Willow Tree is in the south end buildings where the condos will fit perfectly. It sits between a jewelry store and an antique shop that also houses the ministry of One Life. Comfortable to come to, accessible, an outreach to those who would not come to a church building. Willow Tree is part of community gatherings, welcoming all those who need a shelter, a refreshment, a pause in their day.

Robin has the support of her family. Ian is trying to win the support of his. Will he leave his desires behind as he tries to find fulfillment in his search for peace?

This story is very full and answers are reflected in the every day living. So rich. It took until the middle of the book before Ian figured out what I already had in mind for them! Glad he caught up to me! Very enjoyable reading. I like the growth and character building as they learn to rely on the Lord for direction.
Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
***Thank you to author Katie Ganshert for having an Advance Reading Copy sent to me for this review. No other compensation was received. Wishing on Willows will be available at booksellers tomorrow, March 19, 2013.***
Join Author Katie Ganshert
for a Wishing on Willows
Facebook Launch Party Extravaganza!
Katie will be answering questions via live chat, offering up a slew of prizes, and giving you a behind-the-scenes look at her latest book. Becky Wade and Courtney Walsh will also be popping in to the celebration! We hope to see you there.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM (CST) on Katie’s Facebook page.
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307730409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307730404
About the Author: Katie Ganshert graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband and their young son. She is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows.
Wildflowers from WinterWishing on Willows
Katie Ganshert

Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings, ©2013

Love in the Balance opens with a morning church service in Prairie Lea, Texas, in the mild October of 1879. It is getting close to lunch on the grounds and prayer requests are getting a little close to home for our protagonist, Miss Molly Parmelia Lovelace. So much so, her father, Thomas Lovelace, decides it is time to move her on.
   "Remember," her father continued, "your stay in Lockhart is dependent on your finding a husband. If you aren't becoming acquainted with the right sort of gentlemen, you might as well come home. No sense spending all that money on gowns if no one appreciates them. Besides, unless the sawmill does better, there won't be any money for gowns."
For the past year, Molly has boarded in the next town for her job at the courthouse. Plenty of time to meet industrious investors.
   "If you want to help your father," her mother said, "go back to Lockhart and find a man with income."
   "And connections." Thomas said. "Someone with capital who's interested in investing."
   "And, of course, a society leader. We aren't completely merciless, Molly. There'd be something in it for you."
But there is Bailey, Molly's constant dream of a future. Bailey with no prospect of a future to help her father's vision of a son-in-law. Molly's family decides on a beau for her, but then she finds one on her own sure to please her father. But what about Molly?

My favorite is definitely rooting for Bailey. He is steadfast, open with God, and giving to others in his community. He tries first one job and then another, trying to find his niche. Finally, in helping a family in need, he finds his place.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I like the growth in the characters, and the wholesomeness of the story. Being open and led by God is the best way to find your way. I especially liked how the story ended, but don't go there first. Enjoy Love in the Balance all the way through, and the lessons to be learned. This quote from page 210 speaks volumes:
Odd how opinion was formed. Odd how people thought they could sum up a person's character by the news of the day.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey's poor prospects, she just can't fit the two dreams together.
   Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town--and her life--and for the first time Molly wonders if she's met the man who can give her everything. But he won't be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can't quite get Bailey out of her mind.
   What's a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?

Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon? How's a Girl to Choose?

Love in the Balance
Paperback, 368 pages
Publication: March 1, 2013 by Bethany House Publishers
ISBN 0764209914 (ISBN13: 9780764209918)
Edition language: English
Regina Jennings
author Regina Jennings

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

Remember this one??? You will want to be sure to read Love in the Balance ~ and... if you haven't read Sixty Acres and a Bride ~ what are you waiting for???

Tuesday, March 19th from 11am-1pm CST/12-2pm EST is Book Banter on Facebook. This will be a chance to chat live about Love in the Balance. It'll be held on the Bethany House Facebook page.

Thursday, April 4th is going to be another Facebook party hosted by LitFuse Publicity. They give away a lot of prizes at this party as well. Time hasn't been determined yet, but you can watch for details at

***Thank you to Litfuse Blog Tour for inviting me to be a part of the Bethany House Historical Fiction book tour and author Regina Jennings for sending me a copy of Love in the Balance in exchange for my review in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrate Worldwide QUILTING DAY ~*~ March 16, 2013

Look what I just found out. Tomorrow is Worldwide QUILTING DAY!

Every year, on the 3rd Saturday in March, quilters around the world set aside time to celebrate their love of fabric, sewing, and quilting. Originally started by the National Quilting Association, this artful day of appreciation highlights the inspirational, creative, and unique world of quilting.

The National Quilting Association Inc.So check your area tomorrow ~*~ for the love of quilting ~*~

Read this one today

Has listing of quilting store participants in your area.

Worldwide Quilting Day

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Greenwood and Archer: A Novel by Marlene Banks, ©2012

Greenwood and Archer

I have read the first two books by Marlene Banks, Ruth's Redemption and Son of a Preacherman, and have looked forward to reading this third book, Greenwood and Archer.

In late May and early June, 1921, a race riot erupted in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. An estimated three hundred men, women, and children lost their lives, and churches, schools, stores, movie theaters, a hospital, and libraries were among the six hundred businesses destroyed, besides over a thousand homes. These events were depicted in the author's Son of a Preacherman.
   The events in Greenwood and Archer take place after Son of a Preacherman, continuing the stories of members of the Matthias and Freeman families, as well as other Tulsa characters.
   --A Note to the Reader, author Marlene Banks

Destruction on every side, Billy Ray Matthias joins in rebuilding and encouragement of the people of Greenwood District together, following the riot and burning of the community. He is engaged to the daughter of rancher Earl Freeman. Benny and her brothers, Ethan and Cord, are very close. The two families join for Sunday dinners. Billy Ray's father is Reverend Roman Matthias. Greenwood and Archer is told through the story of these two families and others in the community as they strive to rebuild lives.

The upheavals bring others to add to the peril they are already overcoming. Benny, a school teacher, is visited by her former fiancé who has brought havoc to her life in the past. He is a musician and brings his band with him. One member and Billy Ray know each other. A woman is sent from NAACP, sharing the law office of Ethan, Benny's brother, and a struggle. A Chicago gangster and his mob move in to set up his plan of taking over and making a name for himself. All of them are interwoven into the life of each other through circumstances they are not fully aware of. Lawmen join together to combat what before had separated them. In looking for solutions when they are needing help, they pray and do not push God aside. Throughout it shows what God can do through one person as they are strengthened and gain direction by coming to Him. They do not give up at adversity as they help and support each other.

Isaiah 26:3–4 (ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Marlene Banks lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with being a prolific writer, she has an Associate of Theology Degree from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, Virginia, and is currently studying to initiate a Christian counseling ministry. Marlene has worked thirty plus years in nursing and more than eight years in business. She considers her writing a means of evangelizing and relating Christian principles through fiction.

Ruth's Redemption: In 1820, Bodine Peace is given his freedom and a parcel of land following the Will instructions upon the death of his master. Other freed slaves live on Bo's land. As he can, he buys slaves to set them free after one year of servitude when they receive their freedom papers.


Son of a Preacherman: "A historical romance novel set in the 1920s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, depicting the segregated life of African Americans in Northern Tulsa and the tensions leading up to the Tulsa Race Riots."

Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book.

***Thank you to author Marlene Banks for providing me with a copy of Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot to read and review in my own words.***

Prologue and Chapter One, Greenwood and Archer


JUNE 3, 1921

The scent of smoke lingered in the air even two days after the horrendous riot. Dazed, many people still wandered around, trying to locate loved ones. It was a time of disbelief that such atrocities happened in their community. Being black in Tulsa had never meant first-class citizenship, but until now it never caused such violent victimization. Murder and mayhem had swept through the successful Negro community of Greenwood District with a deadly and destructive fury.
    “Why we gotta wear badges?” a black man protested.
    “Cause that’s the new law,” the irritated police officer snapped.
    “It ain’t right. After all we been through you is tellin’ us we gotta identify who we is? I always been a free, law-abiding citizen, but when they come in our neighborhood terrorizing us and now tell us we under martial law, it ain’t right!”
    “Go on and have your employer get you a badge or stay off the streets. That’s the new rule. Now go ahead, boy, before I throw you in jail!” “I ain’t no boy, I’m a man just like you,” he grumbled walking away.
~ ~ ~ ~

    New laws were being put into effect in Tulsa after the riot, not for protecting the victims but to subdue any thought of retaliation against white citizens.
    “Curfew! What gives them the right to issue a curfew only on Negroes?” Pastor Scoggins demanded from in front of the pulpit.
    “It’s not right!” Reverend Matthias agreed.
    “Is it just in the city, or does the county have a curfew too?” Reverend Metcalf asked, troubled.
    “They told me my taxis have to be off the street by eight at night,” L. D. Johnson said. “That shorts my money to make a decent living. I make a lot of my big fares after dark, and they know it.”
    “They don’t care about you making a living. They want us to all go broke,” H. T. Wilson declared.
    “What is the NAACP doing about this?” Reverend Matthias asked, turning to Ethan Freeman.
    “It’s just in the township limits so far, but I think they’ll soon change it to include the counties,” Ethan said.
    “This is the last straw,” Reverend R. A. Whitaker declared as he stood up. “I’m sick of them harassing us when we’re the injured party.” The preacher stepped out into the aisle. “They burned down Mt. Zion Baptist Church because we dared to prepare to protect ourselves and fight back. They murdered innocent human beings and destroyed blocks of valuable property. Then they try to blame us for the riot. I’m sick of their twisting the facts.”
    “Enough is enough,” Mr. French said from the rear of the church. The house was full for this covert meeting. The law was cracking down on every move made in Greenwood District. Police patrolled the area, stopping and questioning its citizens at random. What should have been police protection for the residents of Greenwood District became police persecution.
    “I can’t find my sister,” Georgia Logan said. “They took her out the house, I’m told, and then burned the house down. I can’t find where they took her. She’s sick and in a wheelchair.”
    “We’ll help search the hospital and the Red Cross with you,” an older woman volunteered.
    “I already did and she’s not there.” Tears pooled in Georgia’s eyes.
    “Maybe someone took her in,” Mrs. French suggested.
    “I need help feeding the survivors and finding them shelter,” Reverend Metcalf announced.
    You can use this church if you need to, Reverend,” Pastor Scoggins offered.
    Clara Hydecker started crying. “They murdered my poor Sam for nothing! What are we going to do? My husband is dead, we have no home and no food, and everything we owned was burned with our house. I have no money and I have four children to feed!”
    A young man called out, “Yeah, what are we going to do? The law isn’t on our side. What are we going to do?”
    Billy Ray Matthias stood up. “We’re going to find food and feed as many people as we can. Then we’ll set up temporary shelter as best we can, tents if we have to for the time being. Then we organize a rebuilding plan. What we don’t do is give up. We don’t accept defeat, because that is exactly what they want.”
    “Yeah, we can rebuild this neighborhood even better than before if we try,” Vic Brown shouted.
    “Easy for you to say since your house ain’t burned to the ground,” Manny Griswold muttered.
    Billy Ray walked to the front of the sanctuary his imposing figure matched only by what he said. “The people of Greenwood District cannot give up. We have to get to work helping each other and rebuilding what was destroyed, but before we worry about any of that . . . we need to pray.”



The race riot of May 31 and June 1, 1921, had turned a once thriving entrepreneurial community into a bloody battlefield. Hatred and terror reigned throughout the evening and into the wee hours of the night. To the beleaguered residents of Greenwood District, morning’s dawn unveiled the full horror of lost lives and property destruction.
    Thirteen months after the racially motivated riot, Greenwood District still evidenced the assault on its citizens and destruction to its infrastructure. The rebuilding process was under way but would never fully heal the scars of that fateful evening. Gradual development was being made to restore demolished businesses and homes. It was not an easy task, but one that would be completed. The spirit of Greenwood would not tolerate eradication by those consumed with violent intent.
    Prayers were continually being offered for the people and the neighborhood from Christ-loving citizens of Tulsa, black and white, and across the country as well. Greenwood District would not remain a hollowed-out shell of a community but be raised from the dead by the hand and will of God.

    The county beyond the city limits had not suffered much of the murderous invasions and fiery attacks. Ranchers in Eagles Pointe were busier than ever employing people from Greenwood and providing for the many displaced city dwellers. The most disheartening factor was that after all the wreckage, things had not improved and Tulsa’s caste system was still firmly in place.
    Amos Grapnel’s beady eyes darted around Cordell Freeman’s ranch as he was leaning against the large weathered barn. Grapnel’s short stature and chubby frame sported a protruding belly and balding head. He sporadically rocked back on his heels to show off the fancy boots he’d recently purchased in Texas. Tom Eberly, a frail gray-haired man who accompanied him, stood slightly bent over leaning on his walking stick as he watched Cord lift a bale of hay. Grapnel pulled out a pipe. “You ought to give it some real thought, boy,” he said reaching for the tobacco pouch in his back pocket.
    “Told you, I’m not interested in sellin’,” Cord said, hauling the bale toward the barn.
    “Why not? Offering you more than twice what you paid. Can’t beat that for profit.”
    “Don’t care about profit. I’m doing good right here and I don’t wanna sell my place, Mr. Grapnel.”
    “Don’t be so quick to turn up your nose at a lot of money, boy. You could get another place if you want with what you’ll make, or . . . you could sit on your bank account and move back home with your folks.” Grapnel grinned slyly.
    “I done told you I’m not interested,” was Cord’s irritated response.
    “Plain pigheaded,” Grapnel grumbled, “just like your father.”
    “We might as well go,” Eberly said, shifting his weight impatiently.
    “Why are you so attached to this place anyway?” Grapnel continued. “It’s not your family’s land. You’re all alone out here except for those hired workers you got from town. Don’t have no family around here to keep you company. I’d think you’d be glad to be rid of this place seeing you lived here with that no-good wife that hung herself.”
    Cord’s head jerked up. Lightning fast he dropped the bail and charged. Before Grapnel could react Cord had him by throat. “I’ll kill you for talkin’ that way about my wife,” he shouted, clamping tightly on the man’s throat. Grapnel’s eyes bugged as he desperately groped at Cord’s hand to get free.
    Eberly straightened up as best he could hollering, “Let ’em go! You’ll choke the life outta him!” He whacked Cord across the back with his cane twice. “Turn him loose!”
    The blows didn’t faze Cord. He was crazed with fury. “You come on my land talkin’ against my wife, you lowdown snake! I’ll kill you, so help me, I’ll kill you!”
    Grapnel’s color was starting to drain. Eberly looked over at Grapnel’s car trying to gauge how fast he could make it to the vehicle and retrieve his friend’s pistol. The sound of fast-moving hooves drew his attention and he turned all the way around.
     “Cord, let him go,” a frantic female screamed from on top of an impressive palomino. “Let him go, Cord!”
     A large muscular man ahead of her had already dismounted from a huge brown stallion and was hurrying toward the choking man. Eberly stumbled backward seeing the powerfully built black male rushing toward them. “Stay out of this,” Cord yelled, trying to maintain his grip when the man grabbed his hands, prying them loose from Grapnel’s neck.
     “Cord, please let him go,” the woman pleaded, bolting toward him after she jumped down from her horse.
     “They’ll kill you for sure if you do this,” the man warned looking Cord in the eyes. “Is that what you want . . . to die for killing this devil?”
    Cord stopped applying pressure but he still had hold of Grapnel. “He should die - him and all his rotten kind. They killed those people in town and the law did nothin’ about it! Not one drop of justice to those murdering dogs. He was part of it, you said so yourself. He tried to kill you, didn’t he? So why shouldn’t he die?”
    “You’re right, he was part of it and the law did nothing to him or the rest of them but believe me the Lord will do something. He’ll have His justice for all the evil done in this world.”
    “Ain’t waitin’ on the Lord. This polecat needs dealing with now. He belittled my wife and I won’t put up with him or nobody else talkin’ like that about her.”
    “Make him turn Amos loose,” Eberly demanded raising his cane in the air again. “He gotta breathe.”
    Cord’s sister, Benny, reached her brother and gently put her hand on his shoulder. “Cord, please, please don’t do this. Let him go. Billy Ray’s right, Jesus will have justice for all the wrongs done to our people, but not this way. They will answer to God, and if we wait it out, justice will be done. There’s been too much killing already; please, no more.”
    “I oughta snap his nasty neck.”
    “Don’t let this man goad you into tangling with the law, ’cause you’ll lose. That’s all they need is for you to get arrested for killing him then they’ll gladly see you in the electric chair. I couldn’t stand losing my big brother and neither could Momma. Please, please let him go.” Tears filled her eyes.
    Cord released Grapnel, dumping him on the ground. Grapnel gasped for air, loudly coughing and holding his throat. Eberly limped over to his friend. Cord looked down at his foe with loathing. “I should finish you off,” he threatened. “I don’t care nothin’ ’bout dyin’ in no electric chair. I’d be with Savannah if I did.” He looked at his sister. “But for your sake, just for you and Momma, I won’t.”
    “Thank the Lord.” Benny sighed, laying her head on his shoulder. “We love you, Cord, and we need you here with us.” She resented her brother’s devotion to his deceased wife but had learned not to show it.
     Billy Ray put his hand on Cord’s back. “You made the right decision, the wise one.”
    “He ought to be jailed for attackin’ a white man,” Eberly insisted, pointing his stick at Cord.
    “Shut up, old man. Take your no ’count friend and get off my land!”
    “Won’t forget this, boy. You wait and see, the law’ll handle your crazy black hide.”
    Billy Ray lifted the still coughing victim off the ground. Grapnel couldn’t speak but his expression, a mix of fear and rage did. He jerked away. Billy Ray knew his hateful nemesis would never let this matter drop. Still, he tried to brush the dirt from Grapnel’s clothes as the incensed man rejected his assistance. “I’m trying to help clean you off,” Billy Ray pointed out.
    “Get your big black hands off me, boy,” Grapnel croaked snatching himself free, though barely able to stand. “I’d as soon see you dead than have you touch me, you big ape.” He walked shakily toward his vehicle with Eberly limping beside him.
    “Shoulda let me choke the life out him,” Cord grumbled squinting from the noonday sun.”
    “Don't think I didn't want to, but I couldn’t,” Billy Ray said, watching the ornery pair depart. Memories of the harrowing riot and his almost fatal encounter with Amos Grapnel and Moose Kegel came vividly back to his mind. He immediately prayed, Lord, heal my soul and fix my heart because if You don’t, what I do to that man won’t be pretty. Remove my hatred, Jesus.
    “Why was he here?” Benny asked.
    “Wants me to sell this place to Eberly.”
    “What for? Why does Eberly want this ranch at his age and in his condition?”
    “Same reason the rest of them wantin’ to buy up all of Greenwood, I reckon. Eberly said something about leavin’ an inheritance for his  grandkids.”
    “What did you tell him?” Billy Ray asked.
    “That I wouldn’t sell.”
    “I take it he got mad and said what?” Benny wanted to know.
    “Opened his foul mouth against Savannah, that’s what.” Cord's jaw tightened.
    Benny shot Billy Ray a telling look. “What does she have to do with you selling your ranch?”
    “Nothing, he was being nasty is all.”
    “You know he’s going to cause trouble over this,” Billy Ray predicted.
    “I’m telling Ethan in case you need his help,” Benny said.
    “I’ll tell him myself. He’s comin’ here later.” Cord walked over to the bale of hay he’d dropped. “What brought you two over?”
    “Divine intervention I’d say.” Billy Ray chuckled.
    “Momma's cooking steaks on the pit tomorrow. She wants you come by and eat with us.”
    “Tell her thanks for askin’, but I can’t.”
    “Why not? You love beef on the pit. You love Momma’s rhubarb apple pie, too.” Benny smiled.
    “Sounds good, but I got a lot to do around here.”
    “Stop making excuses and come over. You never accept our invites to visit. Why can’t you let bygones be bygones? Daddy’ll be so happy to see you.”
    “Did he say that?” Cord dropped the bale inside the barn door and headed for another. Billy Ray fell in step behind him.
    “Well, not in so many words but I know he misses you and ...”
    “Let it rest, Benny. It's all right; I’m doing fine here on my own. I don’t hold no ill feelings toward Dad anymore, but what happened can’t be undone. Truth of the matter is I don’t think it was all my fault. I feel bad about what I did, don’t get me wrong. I should have never disrespected him that way no matter what he said, but he’s never owned up to his wrong in the matter so that’s it. Leave it alone.”
    “You know how stubborn Daddy is.”
    “Yeah, well so am I.”
    “Daddy still loves you, Cord, and he wants you to be part of our family like always. He said so.”
    “You can’t go back, Benny. That’s the hard thing about making bad mistakes. You’re stuck with the consequences.”
    “God gave us the ability and right to repent for our mistakes. To turn away from our misdeeds and ask forgiveness and to forgive people who hurt us.”
    “I already asked Dad and God to forgive me, and I forgave Dad so let it go at that. Things may never be like they used to be between us. You need to accept that,” Cord said firmly.
    “But ...”
    “Benny, your brother said let it go so you should respect that,” Billy Ray advised.
    Benny sighed in frustration. “All right, I’ll leave it be.”