Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Christy Nockels live album ~ Let It Be Jesus, © 2015

Upbeat and joyful, you will want to join in with Christy Nockels' first live worship album
~* Let It Be Jesus *~

Let It Be Jesus

Album Release: April 28, 2015

Psalm 37:4-6  “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice (or vindication) of your cause like the noonday sun.”

So thrilled to reveal the cover of my upcoming live album "Let It Be Jesus," coming April 28th, 2015! I can't wait to release this offering and to share what a beautiful night this recording was as we gathered with dear friends and our Passion City Church family of "door holders" a.k.a volunteers. Something SO unforgettable happened as we worshipped Jesus together in wonder and remembrance. Thank you Leighton Ching & Mary Caroline Russell for capturing my heart and therefore this record, so incredibly well with this cover! Grateful and beside myself...
   --Christy Nockels

~* one giveaway offer of a digital copy of the whole album *~

comment below including your e-mail[at]contact[dot]com

drawing will be from release day April 28, 2015 commenters


album content ~ Let It Be Jesus
Freedom Song ~ 04:27
My Anchor ~ 04:35
Everything Is Mine In You ~ 07:08
The Wondrous Cross ~ 05:54
Let It Be Jesus ~ 05:32
Who Can Compare ~ 07:26
Jesus, Rock Of Ages ~ 04:13
If You Never ~ 04:09
Leaning On You, Jesus ~ 05:29
Find Me At The Feet Of Jesus ~ 05:27
Wonderful Name ~ 06:09
 ~ Total Time: 01:00:29
preview here 

As a worship leader for many years, Christy Nockels has been an integral part of Passion Conferences from its inception in 1997. She's seen first hand music sweep people into the presence of God in a powerful way. A pastor’s kid, who was born in Fort Worth and raised in Oklahoma, she grew up singing in church. She met her husband, Nathan, in 1993 at the Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Co. They recorded an independent record with fellow worship leader Charlie Hall under the name Sons & Daughters that led to an invitation from Louie Giglio to participate in the first Passion conference in Austin. Christy’s voice gained a national platform when she and Nathan formed the duo Watermark, recording four acclaimed albums before that musical season ended, paving the way for Christy’s solo career. In 2008, the couple moved to Atlanta to become part of Passion City Church where she serves on the worship team with sixstepsrecords labelmates Chris Tomlin and Kristian Stanfill. The following year, Nockels released her acclaimed solo debut, Life Light Up and spent much of the next two years touring with Tomlin and Passion.

***Thank you to Propeller for inviting me to be part of the music blog tour for Christy Nockels' Let It Be Jesus live album. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron, © 2015

A Hidden Masterpiece Novel, Book Two

Contemporary/Historical Fiction
Thomas Nelson 

The story centers around the children’s art of the Theresienstadt transport camp (also known as Terezín), the Nazis’ propaganda camp north of Prague.

My review:
A strong story of hope and encouragement in the face of despair. I really enjoy reading two time period novels. The stories are richly woven together. The happenings before us do affect today. Courageous actions on the part of those willing to take a risk to love will be an encouragement to those who follow. Kristy Cambron has written of an inner strength.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."   ––Joshua 1:9 NIV

Clock Prague Old Time Square

   Kája swallowed hard. "The last secretary quit after one day?"
   "Secretaries. And it was within a week." He grimaced. "But what does it matter? We have a copy-editor from Oxford here now. And given the fact that she's already had the grand tour and her desk is cleared off and everything..." He pulled out the wooden swivel chair and patted the back with his palms. "Why not give it a try? What's the worst that could happen?"
   --A Sparrow in Terezin, 47

Powerful. You walk every step with them.

I began reading mid-afternoon, with 87 pages remaining, so absorbing, I was unaware I had read that far. Kristy Cambron is a wordsmith bringing you visibly into their world and time. The story of the beloved clock from Kája's childhood brings hope alive amid the children's art at Terezin.
arrival of transport to Terezin

   "You are Kateřina Makovský from Prague?"
   She stood before the woman, nervous but head held high. If Liam was right and she was inordinately stubborn, Kája had an inkling it would be a necessary component to her survival in this place. She notched her chin and answered, "Yes. I am."
   The woman handed over a sheet of paper, a small rectangle, then answered, "You are to report to the ration line, then to the Jewish Council for medical inspection and work assignment. Memorize this number," she cautioned, though her voice was staunch and formulaic. "You must know this number. It is how you will be referred to from this point on. Do you understand?"
   Kája nodded. "Yes."
   "If you are asked, you must give this number immediately. At all times. There will be no opportunity for remembering."
   --Ibid., 221
The description of the Terezin concentration camp is so vivid. One detail, among many, that stood out to me was how being moved from a large central room to an attic room was worse because of the vermin and cracked window with winter approaching. Nearer to the school for children, the attic room was a place of refuge against the turmoil without, if even for a little while.   

Deportation Railway - Theresienstadt (Terezin) Ghetto, Feb. 2012    Bahnhofstrasse - Railway branch line built by the prisoners and first used in   June 1943. Near the Hamburg barracks from which the transports left for Auschwitz. Continuing from the story in the first book, this second book reflects Sophie's early childhood. Giving from an open heart, the present and past intersect in her later years. Present day, Sera James, receives what she needs to continue by the influences and sacrifices of those who risked their own lives for the children of Terezin.
For such a time as this; how important we each are in forthcoming generations.

Two women, one in the present day and one in 1942, each hope for a brighter future. But they'll both have to battle through their darkest days to reach it.
Today. With the grand opening of her new gallery and a fairytale wedding months away, Sera James appears to have a charmed life. But in an instant, the prospect of a devastating legal battle surrounding her fiancé threatens to tear her dreams apart. Sera and William rush to marry and are thrust into a world of doubt and fear as they defend charges that could separate them for life.
June 1942. After surviving the Blitz bombings that left many Londoners with shattered lives, Kája Makovsky prayed for the war to end so she could return home to Prague. But despite the horrors of war, the gifted journalist never expected to see a headline screaming the extermination of Jews in work camps. Half-Jewish with her family in danger, Kája has no choice but to risk everything to get her family out of Prague. But with the clutches of evil all around, her escape plan crumbles into deportation, and Kája finds herself in a new reality as the art teacher to the children of Terezin.
Bound by a story of hope and the survival of one little girl, both Sera and Kája will fight to protect all they hold dear.
Kristy Cambron brings you the continuation of Sera James' story and tells Kája Makovsky's story in, A Sparrow in Terezin, book two in the Hidden Masterpiece series. You can find book one, The Butterfly and the Violin, here.

The Butterfly and the Violin, Kristy Cambron

Kristy CambronKristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather’s stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.
Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter  
***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson for this copy of Kristy Cambron's book two in the Hidden Masterpiece series, A Sparrow in Terezin, for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

 ‘A Sparrow in Terezin’ by Kristy Cambron | New Book Plus a Book-Inspired Giveaway

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection in Kristy Cambron's new book, A Sparrow in Terezin. Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Kristy is celebrating by giving away a basket filled with goodies inspired by her new book!

sparrow terezin - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A set of poppy notecards
  • A poppy pin
  • A copy of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
  • A copy of the Mrs. Miniver DVD
  • Literary tea bags
  • Tumbler
  • A copy of A Sparrow in Terezin
sparrow giveaway bastet 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 28th. Winner will be announced April 29th on Kristy's blog.

sparrow terezin-enterbanner


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Crossroads by Cathy Bryant, © 2015

A Miller's Creek Novel ~ Volume 6

and a giveaway contest to May 7, 2015, at goodreads for Crossroads ~ click here

   Yeah, she'd experienced rural Texas before, but it had been years, her childhood a murky fog that took up residence in the distant recesses of her mind. Had she blocked out painful memories by imprisoning that part of her life behind lock and key?
   --Crossroads, 2
Only the Lord can unveil the beauty in our lives; the deep love only He can give exactly as we need it revealing empty hidden places.

Go stand at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road.
Discover the right route for your souls.
~Jeremiah 6:16 (MSG)
A new business, a new community, a reoccurring illness, a disappearing peace; Mara Hedwig and her daughter Ashton belong in Miller's Creek, the small community with a heart. With disappointments behind, will Mara be able to receive the love offered to her by her new friends?

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

~Proverbs 3:5, 6 (MSG)

Love is not defined by man, it is defined by God who is Love. Watching as Mara becomes removed from who God isn't to Who He Is. He is not a God of thunderbolts and lightning, way off there somewhere. He is longing for a close relationship, to draw near only through Christ. Carter Callahan's intent is not for himself, but for what is awaiting Mara in returning to God in trust and hope for all He is.

Daily struggles do not define who we are but who God is; constant, ever ready to hold us amidst trials in our earthly life. In each stage of life ~ youth, teenage, adult, there will be needs of acceptance and understanding from others. Those in Miller's Creek are no exception. The community rallies around the central figures in the story, Carter and his teenage daughter, Chloe, and Mara and her young daughter, Ashton. Each one must come to their own realization and acceptance of the One we are known by best.

This is a story of struggles and overcoming; conversational, the characters learn to share their hearts as trust is built leaving the past behind to welcome a future and a hope given to us by God in all the Crossroads in our lives.

***Thank you to author Cathy Bryant and WordVessel Press for sending me a copy of Crossroads to read and review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy an excerpt of Crossroads by Cathy Bryant ~ Chapter 1

Chapter One

Out of pure reflex, Mara stiffened her right leg and stomped the brake pedal to the floor, tires a-screech against the asphalt as the undeniable odor of burning rubber reached her nose. She gritted her teeth, her breath in rapid spurts, and yanked the steering wheel hard to the right. Her clenched jaw relaxed just enough to spout words that had conglomerated in her sour-tasting mouth. "Please don't let me run over this stupid animal."
   Just who did she think she was talking to? She shrugged. No one. Nothing. Thin air. Her salty lips had simply taken on a life of their own without permission. The new-to-her Cadillac Escalade finally bounced to a halt, and her body echoed the move.
   Once her brain stopped sloshing around in her skull, Mara jerked her head to the left to see the armadillo--almost the exact color of the pavement--waddle nonchalantly through the bar ditch and under a barbed-wire fence. The squatty body animal disappeared behind the thick growth of mesquite, cedar, live oak, and clumps of prickly pear cactus.
   She brought a trembling hand to her throat and willed her shallow breaths and racing heart to a slower pace. Yet another thing to adjust to in the small back-roads country town of Miller's Creek.
   She sniffed at the still form of a black and white pile of fur in the road next to her. The rancid smell of squished skunk--who hadn't fared as well as the armadillo--stung Mara's nostrils, bringing tears to her eyes and wrinkles to the bridge of her nose.
   Yeah, she'd experienced rural Texas before, but it had been years, her childhood a murky fog that took up residence in the distant recesses of her mind. Had she blocked out painful memories by imprisoning that part of her life behind lock and key?
   Her gaze flitted to the dashboard clock, and set her into instant motion. "Oh no. Please no." This couldn't be happening. Not on a day when she actually had a prospective customer to help pay her bills and feed her family. She quickly released the brake and pressed the accelerator, the horses beneath the hood rapidly roaring to life and charging down the road.
   Now she'd never make her four o'clock appointment with Carter Callahan. Of course it wasn't as though he'd given her ample time to find him a house. He'd called right before lunch and said he needed a house, and then promptly ended the call with some mumbled excuse about being on duty and without giving any details as to what kind of property he wanted. Fearful that as a policeman on duty he had more important matters to deal with, she'd opted not to call back. Instead she'd spent her afternoon viewing possible properties to show him.
   Mara quelled her anxious thoughts with a sip of warm and non-fizzy Diet Coke, the flat and tepid liquid leaving the after-taste of artificial sweetener on her tongue. She made a face and clunked the can into the console drink holder. Was this her third one today, or her fourth? She inched the accelerator closer to the floor.
   At five minutes after four, she pulled up outside the building she'd leased from Otis Thacker, more proof of the number one rule in real estate. Location, location, location. Nestled between recently-renovated turn-of-the-century buildings on the picturesque town square, and boasting creamy-white Austin stone, cinnamon-colored cedar posts, and rustic tin roof, the place screamed central Texas. The perfect store front for her new business, one that needed to turn a profit. And soon.
   The unlocked seat belt slipped from her fingers and clanked against the door as she scooped up her purse and manila file folders. She climbed from the SUV, glanced down the thick slab of elevated sidewalk, and slammed the door.
   No sign of Carter Callahan.
   Had he come and left already? More than a little disgruntled at the missed appointment and chance at a potential sale, she trudged to the door. At some point, she'd just have to bite the bullet and hire a receptionist for times like these, but with money so tight, it was hard to justify the expense.
   Mara moved across the large open space dotted with office furniture she'd purchased at a hotel sale, and into her office, where she plunked the folders atop the granite-looking counter top behind her desk. Next she slung her suit-case-sized purse--an ironic microcosm of her hectic life--onto the desk, contents spilling from inside. She snatched up her eBay iPhone, and fingers ablaze, punched in Carter's number, scrawled on a nearby pink sticky-note. The electronic beeps from her phone bounced off walls and oak floors.
   "Police department."
   A disgusted sigh whooshed from her lungs. Not exactly who she'd hoped for. "Ernie? Is that you?"
   "Yep. Mara?"
   "Yeah, it's me. Sorry to bother you. I'm trying to reach Carter Callahan. Is he there by any chance?"
   "Nope. Just left. Said he had a couple of errands to run."
   Hope ignited in her chest. Good. Hopefully he hadn't forgotten her. But how much longer would she have to wait? "Did he happen to say what errands?"
   "Something about paying the electric bill and stopping by the post office to mail a package."
   Her spirits instantly deflated. Okay, so maybe he had forgotten her. "If you happen to see him would you have him call me at the office?"
   "Okey-dokey." Ernie drawled out the words, Texas-style, right before the line went dead.
   Mara eyed the clock. How could he be so inconsiderate of her time? Yeah, she'd been late too, but she'd dropped other things to get there as soon as possible. As the second hand of the clock ticked off the ever-fleeting time, she ticked off her to-do list for the rest of the day. Pick up Ashton from the daycare by five. Cram down a few bites of leftover goulash before the Miller's Creek Talent Show rehearsal. Follow up on a few leads and hopefully line up showings for the next day. The rehearsal should be over by seven or seven-thirty, which would give them ample time for outdoor play, Kindergarten homework, and Ashton's nightly bath before story time and bed. Then...
   Her thoughts strayed to yet another evening by herself, and unexpected loneliness landed like a lead blanket. A solitary sigh escaped. She'd known being a single parent would be difficult. Had known moving to a new place to start a business would be challenging. But one thing she hadn't taken into consideration was the mind-numbing isolation of interminable nights.
   Mara gave her head a gentle shake, careful not to dislodge the rock hard hair-sprayed bun she'd crafted early that morning to keep her naturally curly hair in check.
   Snap out of it, Mara.
   Life in Miller's Creek was certainly better than living with the man who no longer loved her. She rubbed the bridge of her nose. No use dwelling on it. Giving in to the Black Abyss would be counter-productive and foolish. She had to find a way to distract herself from the depression that threatened to swallow her alive.
   From outside her office the front door bell buzzed, announcing a visitor. Carter hopefully?
   Mara stood, wiped sweaty palms against her polyester skirt, pasted on her most brilliant business smile, and moved to the main office, her high heels clicking against the wooden floors. She extended a hand toward the larger-than-life man silhouetted against the backdrop of front plate-glass windows. "Hi, Carter. I'm Mara Hedwig. So nice to finally meet you in person."
   He engulfed her hand with both his bear paws, an equally large grin splayed on his scruffy-but-handsome face. "Hey, Mara. Sorry I'm late. Blame it on my crazy life."
   His crazy life? He had no idea what crazy was until he'd experienced just a fraction of the la vida loca she lived. She bit back a retort. "Well, we'd best get a move on it if we're going to get to these houses I've lined up for us to see. Let me get my things." She clicked back to her office, sipped a quick drink of her fourth Diet Coke, and grabbed the folder with Carter's name scribbled on it, along with her purse and keys.
   A few minutes later they stood outside on the sidewalk in the humid-hot dog days of a sizzling Texas summer as Mara locked up the building and moved toward the driver's side of the Escalade.
 "We'll go in my car."
   Carter released a low whistle as he folded his over-sized frame into the leather passenger seat. "Business must be good."
   Not exactly. But definitely the impression she wanted to make, and the reason she'd purchased this way-too-expensive gas-guzzler. According to the latest real estate how-to book she'd read, potential clients were drawn to perceived success.
   Rather than responding to his comment, Mara smiled politely, clicked her seat belt into position, and cranked the engine to a gentle purr. Two minutes later they pulled up outside the first place, a tiny frame house within easy walking distance of the town square and Miller's Creek police department. She glanced at her expensive-looking knock-off wristwatch as she parked. If she could get him in and out of here in five to ten minutes, she might just be able to keep her five o'clock deadline. "Here's our first listing. A one-bedroom, one-bath, detached home with a carport."
   Carter's dark eyebrows met in the middle. Not a positive sign. "Don't think this one will be big enough for me and my daughter."
   "Daughter?" Mara's frozen smile melted from within, her stomach churning up bitter acid in response. "Sorry. You didn't really give me a chance in our phone conversation to find out what you were looking for. I assumed you wanted a place for just you."
   He shook his head. "No. My teenage daughter Chloe lives with me now. The apartment complex we're in isn't ideal, and we're beyond over-crowded." His gaze focused somewhere down the street. "Didn't know one teen-age girl came with so much paraphernalia."
   "Oh." Mara pursed her lips, her brain clicking through options like a line of people at a Six Flags turnstile. "Well, if this one's too small, we won't even bother with it." At least that would save some time. She opened his client folder and whisked through a few papers, quickly spotting the information she sought. "The next house I lined up is a two-bedroom, two-bath, probably more suited to what you're looking for."
   Carter grinned to reveal even white teeth that practically sparkled against his tanned skin. He scratched his chin whiskers. "Sounds more like it. Definitely don't enjoy sharing a bathroom with a teen-aged female. Don't get a whole lot of mirror time anymore."
   Mara laughed as she pulled away from the curb. Like he needed mirror time. "Just so you know, I'm pretty sure the teenage girl doesn't like sharing a bathroom anymore than you do."
   His charming smile and deep chuckle set off a strange twist in her stomach.
   Okay, back to business. Now would be a great time to ask a few questions. "Other than the two beds and two baths, is there anything else you're looking for?"
   "Not really. All comes down to space and budget."
   Mara released a semi-silent sigh of relief as she turned a corner. Good. He'd brought up the money issue first. "How much are you wanting to spend?"
   "I'd like to keep it close to what I'm paying for the apartment. Seven hundred a month."
   Quick calculations erupted in her head. Thirty year mortgage, twenty percent down. He'd be able to afford over a hundred thousand with no problem. A smile flickered inside and worked its way to her face. Which meant that after splitting realtor's fees with the listing agent she could plop at least three grand in her almost-depleted bank account. "I'm sure we can find you something very nice for that amount."
   Carter's eyes widened.
   "Really?" His tone held shocked surprise. "Really." Mara pulled up in front of house two and grimaced inwardly. Ugh. The old bungalow had definitely seen better days and was well under what he could afford. But this wasn't a good way to impress a new client. Oh well, at least she could see what he liked and disliked about the place, info that would make further research all the easier.
   They stepped from the vehicle at the same time and made their way down the narrow and crumbling sidewalk to a small stoop of a porch. Mara retrieved the key from the lock box with fumbling fingers, painfully aware that Carter used the time to scan the declining neighborhood. Rats! Yet another minus to add to his list of negatives about the place.
   He stepped up beside her. "Well-established neighborhood. I like that. We don't get too many calls from this part of town. I like that even better. Mostly older folks around here."
   Mara swung the front door open, filing his comments within compartments in her brain to add to her files later that night. "So you'd rather have friends for your daughter in the neighborhood?"
   Carter's face took on an indiscernible look. "Not really, but I guess it depends on the friends." His tone held a trace of sarcasm.
   Her eyebrows climbed despite her attempt to keep them down. Over-protective dad? Poor Chloe. Mara held one hand toward the tiny living space. "This, of course, would be your main living area, and it leads to an eat-in kitchen."
   Carter sauntered across the stained and tattered carpet to the kitchen, his eyes roving over every square inch. "More outdated than what we're used to, but it'll do."
   This time Mara locked her eyebrows in down position and forced her lips into a placid smile. Hello. Could he not see how horrible this kitchen was? No telling how many layers of grease coated the mustard-gold stove or what kind of creepy-crawlies lurked in darkened crevices. Not to mention the musty smell. Yeah, time to move on. "The bedrooms are this way." She took off down the hallway, then flattened herself against the wall to allow his brawny build to pass by. "The first doorway on the left is the second bedroom, and across the hall is a bath." If you could call the postage-stamp-sized bath a room.
   He poked his head around the door frame of the pink-tiled bathroom and grimaced. "It's a bit tight for me. And pink's definitely not my color." His gaze roved to the low shower head. "I'd have to chop myself off at the knees to fit under that thing."
   "This isn't the master bath. Maybe it's more your size."
   He scratched his head. "Maybe, but I'll probably give Chloe the master. Trust me, she'll need it for all her stuff."
   Mara traipsed to the master bedroom with the en suite bath. It wasn't much bigger than the first.
   Though Carter didn't speak, she could tell by the turn of his lips that it wasn't to his taste. "How big is the back yard?"
   "Fairly large, actually." She moved to a window and peered out the dust-covered blinds, then stepped aside for him to look. "It would give you plenty of space for entertaining."
   One side of his upper lip curled. "Yuck. Yard work. And just so you know, I'm not much into entertaining. Just need enough space for the dogs."
   She should've seen that one coming. He was definitely the dog type, which meant he definitely wasn't her type. Not that she was on the market anyway. "So you'd rather have a small yard?"
   "Definitely. Don't mind yard work, but my free time is next to nil."
   She nodded. "I totally understand." Understatement of the millennium. "Are you interested in this one at all?"
   "Maybe. How much?"
   "Well under budget at fifty-five."
   A puzzled expression clouded his face. "Fifty-five?"
   "Yes. Fifty-five thousand. Is that a problem? I'm sure you're pre-qualified for more than that." She hesitated. "Aren't you?"
   His chuckle broke lose along with a sheepish grin. "Uh, I'm looking for a place to rent. Not to buy."
   Steam built in her ears and threatened to explode out the top of her head. Well. He could've at least asked if there were rentals available when he called. All this time she'd assumed he was looking to buy. And she'd make next to nothing on finding him a rent house. Her smile slipped, but she ducked her head and headed to the front door without comment.
   Once she'd turned off the lights and secured the house, Mara hurried to the SUV with Carter right behind. She inched the speedometer needle a hair above the speed limit as they made their way to the final house for the day. What was the best way to broach this subject of rental houses? She cleared her throat and assumed her best business voice. "You should know that the next house I have lined up is also for sale. Sorry about the miscommunication, but my business revolves around sales. Since you didn't mention rent houses, I assumed you wanted to purchase a home."
   "You don't do rentals?"
   She sent an apologetic smile. "Not at this point. And quite honestly, I think you might have trouble locating a rent house in a place the size of Miller's Creek. Most people only rent when they become desperate and can't sell their house." She peered in the rear view mirror as she slowed to a stop at an intersection.
   A heavy sigh sounded from the other side of the car. "Problem is, I don't wanna buy. Chloe graduates next May, so I'll more than likely move to a bigger place where there's better pay. Need the extra income to send her to college."
   Mara pulled the SUV onto the shoulder of the road and braked to a stop, then turned to look at him squarely. Might as well end this now so she could get on with the next portion of her day's crazy agenda. "So you don't want to see the next house?" She sent a quick glance to the dashboard clock. Hopefully he'd take the hint. Already she was late in picking Ashton up from the daycare.
   "You need to be somewhere?" One dark eyebrow cocked upward, reminding her of the furry caterpillars that had already made their appearance in the trees outside her front door.
   "Not if you're interested in buying this house." Sometimes bluntness was the only thing that got through to this kind of guy. She bit back the urge to tell him how he'd wasted her time. Time she wanted--and needed--to spend with her daughter.
   He considered her words. "I have an idea. Let's swing through the Dairy Queen drive-thru so I can pick up a burger. I missed lunch, and my stomach thinks my throat's been cut. Then we'll hop on over to that other house. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and buy a house."
   His first words had generated an automated response of 'you've-got-to-be-kidding-me' in her brain. Had he not followed them with the hint of a possible purchase, she'd be dropping him off and pronto. She gulped deep breaths of air to squelch her growing frustration at his devil-may-care attitude. Okay, she could do this. After all, she was a mom, right? She'd grab some chicken nuggets for Ashton at the DQ to save time. Not the healthiest meal, but on their tight time frame it would have to work. Another plan hatched in her mind, and a triumphant grin landed on her lips. And the daycare was on the way to the next house, so she might as well pick Ashton up on the way.
   Ten minutes later, the SUV now flooded with the smell of fast food--Mara pulled back onto the highway as Carter noisily dug around in the bulging white paper sack. He pulled out a small white box with red lettering and sat it on the console between them. "Here's your chicken nuggets."
   "Oh, they're not for me. They're for my daughter. Her day care is on the way to the next house, so I'm going to pick her up. Do you mind?"
   "Not at all." He spoke the words through swollen cheeks, much like a squirrel during nut season, his voice muffled by the wad of burger in his mouth. As they pulled up outside the daycare, Carter stuffed in the last morsel of his double-patty burger with bacon and cheese and licked his fingers with a slurping sound.
   Mara ignored his caveman manners, put the vehicle in park, and killed the engine.
   Carter lifted his gaze. "Hey, this is Mama Beth's daycare."
   "Yes, it is."
   "Mind if I go in with you?"
   A wild chase of panic and frustration erupted inside. Would they ever get through this house showing? "Sure. Why not?" A dead-pan tone crept into her voice as she exited the Escalade and hurried to the front door to punch in her security code. A second later they entered the sprawling ranch house which had been converted to a daycare, each room set up for various activities especially geared to preschool-aged children.
   Dani Miller rounded the corner of the hallway, a baby on her right hip. "Hi, Mara." Then she looked past her to Carter. "Well, what are you doing here, big guy?" She eased around Mara to give him a sideways hug.
   Carter laughed, a rich melodious sound that echoed through the space. "Mara's showing me some houses, but wanted to stop and pick up her daughter. So I thought I'd come in and say hi."
   A strange calculating twinkle developed behind Dani's big blue eyes. "Ah, I see. Y'all follow me. The kids are outside."
   A minute later they stood in the fenced-in play yard beside Mama Beth, who looked out over the handful of children yet to be picked up. Ashton leaned against the elderly woman's right side.
   Mara knelt in front of her daughter and enveloped her in a hug. "Guess what I have waiting for you in the car?"
   Ashton smiled a tiny smile, the fatigue of the day resting in her eyes. "What?"
   "Chicken nuggets from Dairy Queen."
   Instead of being happy about the uncommon treat of fast food chicken nuggets, her daughter pointed to Carter. "Who's that?"
   Mara latched on to her daughter's finger and pulled downward, then rose to her feet. "Don't point, sweetie. It's impolite. I'm showing Mr. Callahan some properties."
   Mama Beth made eye contact. "Can I speak with you just a moment before you go?"
   Did these people not realize her stretched-to-the-max schedule? "Certainly. Go get your things together, Ashton. I'll be inside in a second."
   "I'll help." Carter winked at Ashton and elicited a contagious giggle from the little girl. The two headed inside where Dani still cared for the bed babies.
   Concern hovered in Mama Beth's blue eyes as she laced her fingers in front of her. "I don't mean to make you worry, Mara, but I'm a little concerned about Ashton."
   Mara's heart stopped momentarily, then resumed beating at a quicker pace. "Why?"
   "She's just been so tired when she gets off the school bus. Today she curled up in a corner and went to sleep, even with the other children playing and making noise."
   Mara kept a straight face. "Kindergarten's a big change for her. I'm sure that's all it is."
   "Well, you'd be the one to know." The woman didn't sound convinced. "I just wanted to make you aware."
   "Thank you." Mara laid a hand on Mama Beth's arm. "I appreciate you looking after her so well. I'll definitely keep an eye on her."
   This seemed to satisfy the older woman, so Mara said her good-byes and hurried inside.
   Carter and Ashton stood near the front door, unaware of her approach. With her typical child-like curiosity and grown-up demeanor, Ashton cocked her head to one side and looked up at Carter. "Are you going to be my new daddy?"
   "Ashton!" Mortified, Mara hurried down the hallway to her daughter's side, grabbed the heavy backpack from her arms, and took hold of her hand. "Sweetie, let's not ask people that question, okay?"
   "Why not?"
   Mara stepped outside to the vehicle, then opened the back door for Ashton to crawl in. "Because it's not polite or relevant." Once her daughter was securely buckled in, Mara slid into the front seat, unnervingly aware of Carter's amused gaze latched onto her every move. Without giving him the satisfaction of acknowledging his amusement, she handed the box of chicken nuggets to the back seat, started the car, and backed out of the parking lot.
   The car grew more quiet and awkward with each passing moment. And even worse, it was becoming all-too-apparent that she was hopelessly lost. On today, of all days. Had she missed a turn?
   "Where is this place anyway?" Carter whispered the words, almost as though afraid of igniting her already-short and frazzled fuse.
   Mara yanked the steering wheel sharply to the right, careened the car off into the grass at an intersection in the middle of nowhere, threw the gear shift into park, and reached for her county map. How could she have been so stupid not to get the location firmly fixed in her mind before bringing a client? "I think we're on the right road. And why are you whispering anyway?" The words belted out of her mouth as she slid her right index finger across the map to locate the road she needed.
   "Ashton's asleep." His voice still in whisper mode, he jerked his head and left thumb toward the back seat.
   She pulled down the rear view mirror. Sure enough, Ashton's head lolled to one side, eyes closed, the unopened box of chicken nuggets clutched in her hands.
   Alarms rang in Mara's head and heart, but she quickly pounded them into submissive silence. Nothing to be overly-concerned about at this point. She sent a weak smile Carter's way. "Must've had a busy day at school. Probably just missed her nap." Without waiting for his response, she turned her attention back to the map.
   "What road are you looking for? Maybe I can help."
   Mara checked the folder for the address. "Um...County Road 2142."
   A cheeky grin appeared on his face. "Other side of town." He pointed to the map. "We should've turned left instead of right."
   Ugh. Fifteen minutes in the wrong direction? Mara semi-folded the map and tossed it to the floorboard. "Sorry. I'm still learning these back roads." She adjusted the rearview mirror to check for traffic, put the car in gear, and whipped around to drive the other direction, still battling panic at the sight of her sleeping daughter's paler-than-normal face.
   "No prob. Maps can be confusing." Carter's sincere tone calmed her frayed nerves.
   Twenty quiet minutes later, they drove onto a dirt driveway of a small rock house. A quick glance in the mirror confirmed what Mara expected.
   Ashton was still asleep.
   Now what should she do? "Um, I can let you in the front door to look at the place while I stay outside with her."
   A frown pulled his dark brows together. "Why don't you just let me carry her? I don't mind."
   Mara nodded her okay and moved to the back door to release Ashton's seat belt. Carter leaned in from the other side, his broad shoulders filling the doorway. He easily lifted her little girl from the seat. Ashton stirred momentarily, then rested her head on Carter's thick shoulders, her strawberry blond waves bright against his dark shirt.
   Mara swallowed back a sudden onslaught of emotions and hurried up the front porch. Thankfully the lock box cooperated, and in a minute's time they entered the house, soft snores sounding from Ashton. The living room, though large, smelled of dust from months of disuse. Mara wrinkled her nose. "A little smelly."
   "Just needs to be aired out." Carter's dark eyes scanned the space as he carefully cradled her daughter in his arms. "Really hadn't thought about a house in the country, but I like the space. And the peace and quiet."
   "If your daughter drives, it would mean extra gas money each month." She clasped her hands in front of the electric blue business skirt she'd donned early that morning. The one she couldn't wait to exchange for a pair of sweat pants.
   He nodded. "Good point. But let's go ahead and check out the rest of the house while we're here."
   "Of course." Mara hurried him through the rest of the house, discreetly checking her watch as they entered the last bedroom. "You could use this for guests or a home office."
   "You need to be somewhere?"
   Man, nothing escaped this guy. He must have eyes in the back of his head. "We have an event this evening, but business comes first." She injected a happy sing-song to her words.
   Carter's jaw clenched and pulsed. "Uh, no. Your family comes first."
   "I know that, but this is more important than what we have scheduled for this evening." Sort of.
   Without another word, and with disapproval oozing from his face, Carter strode from the room and down the hallway toward the front door, the old floors squeaking beneath his weight.
   Questions rolled in her mind, but Mara followed and quickly locked up the house as she glanced over her shoulder toward the SUV.
   With a soft tenderness Mara hadn't expected from this over-sized, always-aware mixture of handsome jock and caveman, Carter gently set Ashton into the seat and secured her seat belt.
   Unwanted feelings unleashed inside, wreaking havoc with her stretched-out nerves. In many ways, Carter was exactly the kind of man Mara would've wished as a daddy to her little girl. Not that it mattered. Life had proved that road a dead-end.
   The trip back into Miller's Creek was even more quiet than the trip out, this time with the added burden of Carter's obvious disapproval sucking the oxygen from the vehicle. Anxiety-ridden thoughts pelted Mara's brain, not just about Ashton, but about Carter Callahan. Had she somehow offended him?
Cathy Bryant, Crossroads WordVessel Press, © 2015.

Pre-order CROSSROADS here: http://bit.ly/CRKAA (You can also snag a free digital copy of TEXAS ROADS by subscribing to Cathy's monthly newsletter. Your e-mail will be kept confidential, and you can unsubscribe at any time.)



What: CROSSROADS Book Launch Party
Where: Facebook (from the comfort & convenience of your own home)
When: April 30, 2015 ~ 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Central time)
Why: To celebrate the book launch of CROSSROADS (a Miller's Creek novel and Christian Romance by Cathy Bryant)
LOTS of Fun, Games and Prizes!

Prizes Include: 
Miller's Creek pens, tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, digital books, autographed print books, Amazon gift cards, and an Amazon Kindle Fire HD6!

Click here to RSVP and enter the Kindle Fire drawing.

                              the story behind Crossroads ~ author Cathy Bryant

Join the Miller's Creek series ~

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Monday, April 20, 2015

A Lady's Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes, © 2014

A Cliffs of Cornwall Novel

Lady's Honor

England, 1811
A tarnished reputation. A distant home. A forced engagement to a dangerous man. When Elizabeth Trelawny flees London, she has more than one reason to run. And when her carriage, pursued by her would-be fiancé, is caught in a storm, she quickly accepts the help of a dark stranger. Anything to get back to Cornwall.
But Rowan Curnow is not exactly a stranger. He’s not quite a gentleman either. Class disparity once kept him from courting Elizabeth . . . even if it didn’t keep him from kissing her.
The couple elude their pursuers and reach Bastion Point, Elizabeth’s future inheritance and the one place she calls home. But in the very act of spiriting her to safety, Rowan has jeopardized Elizabeth’s inheritance—if her grandfather ever learns she spent the night, however innocently, in the company of a man.
When smugglers unite the pair in a reckless, flirtatious alliance—an alliance that both challenges the social norms Elizabeth has been raised to revere and rattles Rowan’s fledgling faith in God. Elizabeth must choose between the obedience of a child and the desires of a woman: cling to the safety of her home or follow the man she loves.

My Review:
               ~* wayfarers ~ just passing through *~
Image result for cornwall england 1811
Cornish Coastal Path
The speed of the horses in the dark of night did not shelter them from the torrent of the blowing rain soaking in and splattering against them. There would be safety ahead, with a far distance from the hoofbeats and rumble of carriage wheels of the repulsive Romsford and his men. Elizabeth Trelawny, or "Elys," as her "brother Drake's voice" calmed her, rode alongside unhampered.
    If only her family allowed her to do anything for herself, she might know how to make wiser choices.
   --A Lady's Honor, 16
I really like Elizabeth already... I like adventure and fun! Quickly scrambling behind a stack of barrels, sending vermin scurrying, clinging spiderwebs, and odors of spirits; I am hoping she doesn't sneeze. In the darkness of the inn, with flour dust flying, an escape is made out the back door and she is moving swiftly on horseback through the night; not alone, but accompanied by a man who first set eyes upon her ~ are you ready for this! ~ at the LIBRARY. Now then, wouldn't you say he has undeterminable value!

Everything is not as it seems; friend or foe? Heart's deceit or longing?

If you are ready for adventure and wondering who is the culprit, you will love this story along the Cornish coast path and caves at tide time.

What a delightful story ~ here is a snippet of beautiful writings
   "Treasures in life that are worth more than dowries and property and the amount of money deposited in The Funds." He squeezed her hand. "Perhaps you should read those journals. In reading about their lives, perhaps you can work out what was missing. I think you already knew at one time in your life. But no time for reading now. Your grandmama wishes for you to join her in the garden parlor."
   --Ibid., 144
May she realize The~Absolute~Treasure
   She slipped through a side door and into the garden. The fog lay so thickly over the ground she doubted anyone could see her from the house. Water dripped from tree branches and trellises in a rhythmic plop, plop, plop. Her kid slippers made no sound on the gravel path. When she opened the garden door to the cliff, even the sea sounded distant, its roar muted beneath the blanket of water. But she tasted salt spray on her lips and the tang of the water in her nostrils. The cold dampness awakened something deep inside her, a stirring need to run and shout and dive into the flattened waves.
   --Ibid., 155-156
I am eager to read the following book, A Stranger's Secret, as A Cliffs of Cornwall Novel continues...

Recipient of the National Readers Choice Award, Laurie Alice Eakes has nearly two dozen books in print. She is a writing teacher and speaker, and has her master’s degree in creative writing. She also writes articles on writing, including “Writing from the Heart While Writing for the Market” for The ACFW Journal. Visit her website Facebook Twitter

***Thank you to author Laurie Alice Eakes for sending me a copy of her Cliffs of Cornwall novel, A Lady's Honor, to read and review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy an excerpt from A Lady's Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes ~ Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Cornwall, England
April, 1811

“FASTER. FASTER.” ELIZABETH TRELAWNY LEANED FORWARD on the edge of the carriage seat as though the angle of her body could bring the impossible out of the coach and four—more speed. “This pace will never do.”
   “It will g-get us all killed.” Her middle-aged companion, Miss Pross, stammered one more protest to the breakneck pace Elizabeth demanded of her coachman. “It’s d-dark out.”
   Indeed it was—too dark. The three-quarter moon Elizabeth counted on to guide her escape floated somewhere above a layer of black cloud rolling in from the English Channel and threatening rain at any moment.
   Rain would be her undoing, making narrow, winding roads too slick for speed.
   “But the marquess is right behind us.” He had been since he caught up with them at an inn outside Plymouth. Only the freshness of Elizabeth’s horses and the fatigue of the marquess’s, coupled with her coachman’s quick thinking, had gotten them way ahead of Elizabeth’s would-be fiancé. With the size of Romsford’s entourage and the ability to send men across Cornwall on horseback or to sail along the coast in a fishing boat, Elizabeth’s slight advantage wouldn’t last for long.
   “I must reach Bastion Point before he blocks our way in all directions.”
   Bastion Point, perched on the cliffs along the north coast of Cornwall and still twenty miles away, had represented safety for Trelawnys for the past one hundred and fifty years. Elizabeth Trelawny was one more generation seeking shelter behind its gray stone walls.
   “But this p-pace isn’t dece—ooph.”
   Brakes squealed. The carriage slewed sideways and jarred to a halt.
   “No.” Elizabeth shot up and rapped on the hatch. “Do not stop. Coachman—”
   Shouts and the sound of galloping hooves surrounded the vehicle. A shot roared like thunder for the approaching storm. A man yelled. Another one laughed.
   “Highwaymen,” Miss Pross cried.
   “Romsford.” Elizabeth nearly sank to her knees. If only she knew something more than the liturgical recitations she performed with the congregation at St. George’s Hanover Square every Sunday morning.
   “At least we’ve stopped.” Miss Pross sounded calm, her usual self-possessed person of governess turned companion. “You will see that the marquess will not harm you. His intentions are completely honorable.”
   “Then why does he seem incapable of listening when I say no?” Elizabeth knocked on the hatch again. “Coachman, stop this nonsense and get moving.”
   The hatch remained closed, the coachman silent, others unnaturally quiet, the hiss of their whispering voices not much louder than the sea a hundred yards away. Those murmurs rose and fell close to the carriage door, but not close enough for more than a word or two to penetrate the enameled panels as though the wind snatched a fragment of conversation here and there to throw it against the window.
   “. . . boat . . .”
   “. . . never do . . .”
   “. . . circle around . . .”
   Her heart beating hard enough to break through to her stomach, Elizabeth pressed her face to the glass. Despite her eyes adjusting to the darkness inside the carriage, she could see little beyond the window, as though a curtain had been drawn across the outside of the pane.
   Yet the subdued argument continued, and this time she heard her name. Her name. No highwayman would have her Christian name.
   She grasped the handle. “I’m going out there.”
   “You cannot.” Miss Pross grasped Elizabeth’s shoulder. “They could be—”
   The carriage door burst open. Strong hands grasped Elizabeth by the waist and swung her from the coach. A scream rose in her throat, but she choked it back. Souvenez qui vous etes, she recited the family motto in her head. Remember who you are.
   Trelawnys didn’t scream; they fought.
   She kicked the shin of the man who held her. Pain shot through her toes in their kid slippers. She sucked in her breath. The man merely laughed as he slung her over his shoulder and started carrying her away from her carriage.
   Miss Pross was screaming as she scrambled out behind them. She carried no family motto demanding a certain type of behavior. “You let my lady go, you brute, you beast.” She ran after them, brandishing her umbrella.
   The man ignored her and instead picked up his pace, striding forward as though Elizabeth weighed no more than her velvet cloak.
   That same velvet cloak imprisoned her arms so she couldn’t beat on his back, twisted around her knees so she couldn’t jab him in the middle. Her hood tumbled over her face, smothering her and muffling the sobs pressing at her lips.
   I’ll not cry. I’ll not cry. I. Will. Not—
   Tears burned in her eyes. She struggled in the man’s hold, trying to loosen it.
   He held on to her more tightly. “Stop it, Elys, you’re safe now.”
   She went limp over the man’s shoulder. Only four people in the world called her by her Cornish name. Grandpapa, Grandmama, Conan, her childhood friend, and—
   “Drake?” Her soft exclamation of her brother’s name became lost in Miss Pross’s shout of protest.
   “I’ll not go back to the carriage without my lady. You cannot make me.”
   Apparently they could. A door slammed and the protests grew muffled. A whip cracked. With a crunch of wheels on roadbed and the flicker of swaying carriage lamps, the coach began to move.
   The man holding Elizabeth, the brother she hadn’t seen in six years, set her atop a horse. “Grab the reins,” he commanded in an undertone, a gentle voice just above a murmur. “You can still ride astride?”
   “Yes, of course, but where—”
   “Later.” He released her.
   As bidden, she caught up the reins with one hand, then tried to smooth her skirts over her legs as far as possible with the other. Darkness, if not the fabric of her narrow skirt, preserved her modesty. As though allowing anyone to see her stocking-clad ankles mattered when Drake had not failed her after all but come to her rescue in the spectacular way she expected of her daredevil elder brother.
   She nearly laughed aloud.
   “Let’s ride.” Drake rode up beside her on another horse. “I’ve got a lead rope. You just stay in the saddle. We’re going to go fast to beat this rain.”
   He clicked his tongue at his mount, and both horses sprang into action, heading west toward the narrow track that led over the spine of Cornwall to Bastian Point. Elizabeth held on with hands and knees, bent low over the horse’s neck, her hair flying loose of the last of its pins. Behind them, the rumble of the carriage and other horses faded away to the east, back toward Falmouth. Romsford would catch up with Miss Pross, not Elizabeth.
   As long as his men hadn’t managed to ride cross-country or take a boat and get ahead of her.
   She was free, flying through the night toward Bastion Point, toward home at last.
   Except they continued west instead of taking the road—such as it was—north. Elizabeth smelled the sea on the rising wind before she heard the crash of waves against the rocky shore to her left instead of the quiet of the moorland at night.
   Nearly breathless, she tried to rein in. But Drake with the lead rope kept her mount going, galloping despite the darkness, despite the danger.
   “Wait.” She shouted above hoofbeats and surf. “This is wrong.”
   “No!” Drake’s shout sailed back to her on the wind. “This is best.”
   He must know what he was doing. He knew Cornwall better than she, having never left it save for his illegal forays to France for silk and tea. He knew more than she of why she should not allow their parents to force her to marry the Marquess of Romsford. After all it was Drake who had written to warn her against the nobleman even before his lordship’s behavior made his repulsiveness quite, quite clear to her.
   She shuddered, sick at the memory, and concentrated on maintaining her seat atop the galloping horse. She would be sore in the morning, but what matter as long as she suffered in her old room under her grandparents’ care?
   Laughter bubbled to her lips again, worry fleeing on the Channel gales.
   “Home. Home. Home,” she called out.
   Lightning forked across the obsidian sky. Her mount shied, then skidded to a halt just as the sky opened with a torrent of rain.
   “All right?” Drake dropped back beside her.
   “Yes.” Her legs ached from the unfamiliar position of gripping the horse with her knees, but it had saved her from sliding to the ground.
   Drake squeezed her arm. “Good girl. We’re almost there.”
   “Almost where?”
   He either did not hear or chose not to answer her. No matter. He’d suggested that he help her get home safely, escape the man their parents insisted she marry after her three—to her parents anyhow—unsuccessful seasons. They didn’t believe the rumors about the Marquess of Romsford. They saw his title and his ten thousand pounds of income a year income. Elizabeth saw the look in his one good eye when it fell upon her. A patch covered his other eye. A quantity of scent failed to cover up less pleasant odors on his person. His title and money didn’t stop him from attempting liberties no gentleman should take.
   She would endure a hundred miles in the driving rain to get away from him.
   She endured perhaps one, although it felt like a hundred with rain soaking through her cloak, sarcenet pelisse, and gown to pebble her skin with gooseflesh. She couldn’t feel her cold fingers inside her leather gloves. Presumably she still clutched the reins. She couldn’t tell until after Drake finally slowed them and led her mount into a cobbled yard, the horses’ shoes ringing on the stones. He dismounted to help her down.
   “Let go.” He tugged the reins from her frozen hands. “We’ll be inside in a moment.”
   “Inside w-what?”
   She sounded like Miss Pross with her chattering teeth.
   “The inn. Or what used to be an inn. No one comes here anymore except a few locals on Saturday nights. But there’s an old innkeeper here. He’ll give us shelter until the rain stops and we can take a boat around Land’s End to the Point.”
   “A fire?”
   Drake lifted her to the ground. “I expect so, but wait beneath the eaves until I am sure none of Romsford’s men have gotten ahead of us and sheltered here first.”
   Elizabeth started forward toward the dark bulk of the inn that couldn’t boast more than a common room and one or two rooms to let for wayfarers not wanting to stay in Falmouth five miles behind. Perhaps a fisherman or two.
   Above the roar of the rain and wind, the sea’s deep boom crashed against the rocky shore a hard stone’s throw away. The inn lay silent and dark. She hesitated beneath the eaves. They afforded little cover from wind and rain. Drake had said to wait there. But surely she would be all right to step over the threshold. If she was wrong and someone was inside, she could dash into the night again, hide . . . somewhere.
   She groped for the dagger she kept in her pocket. Drake had given it to her when she left for London at fifteen. A lady couldn’t be too careful.
   She lifted the handle and nudged open the door, then poised on the threshold. She’d never walked into an inn alone in her life. No matter that this one appeared deserted, a hollow blackness reeking of spilled ale and vinegar. Twenty-one years of training told her entering a common room on her own just would not do. Yet her hands, toes, lips, and chin had gone numb. She smelled no smoke to suggest the innkeeper was present and had built a fire. But at the same time, a roof, walls, and air warmer than what blew off the sea beckoned. And Drake would join her in a moment.
   In a flash of lightning through a window, she caught a glimpse of tables and chairs, black humps rising from the dark chasm of the floor. Nothing moved save for a piece of paper skittering off one of those tables and into a distant corner. Beyond the deserted chamber, most likely where the kitchen lay, a streak of light shone from beneath a door.
   Fire. Hot water. A cup of tea.
   Elizabeth started forward, her kid slippers a mere whisper on the dusty floorboards, her sodden skirt clinging to her legs. And then she stopped. She must appear disreputable, worse than something the cat would think to drag in, with her hair tumbling down her back as though she’d been swimming in the sea, and her clothes clinging to her in a most unsuitable fashion. Even if one or more of Romsford’s men hadn’t managed to get ahead of her and seek her in the first shelter the bleak coast offered . . .
   She finger combed her hair away from her face and twisted it into a knot at the base of her neck, where her hood held it in place. She could do nothing about her sodden clothing.
   Whether the enemy or an innkeeper, his wife, or his maiden aunt sat behind the door with the promising light, she couldn’t walk in there alone. The mahogany color of her hair and ice-blue eyes would give her away as a Trelawny. By morning her reputation would be in tatters. She must, at the least, be accompanied by her brother. Drake’s behavior wasn’t always the most respectable, but he was beloved in the county. If he told the innkeeper to remain silent about her presence, then the innkeeper would remain silent about her presence.
   Romsford’s men wouldn’t remain silent if it would serve their master’s purpose. The marquess was determined enough to wed the last female in London whose parents were desperate enough to be rid of their obstinate and unpopular daughter to accept his offer. Especially after that unfashionable daughter had been caught kissing a dance partner in one of the ballroom bowers. A stupid, schoolgirl stunt to play, but she had been so weary of society—and hoping to be returned to Cornwall once and for all—that a stupid action seemed the right course to take.
   She’d been hoisted in her own petard, giving her parents reason to marry her off as soon as possible.
   Of late, she’d made too many mistakes. She didn’t need to risk making one more.
   She remained where she was in the middle of the floor, motionless, listening. The wind was shifting, carrying the spring storm west to the Atlantic. Waves still slammed against the shore. Storm and surf blotted out all other sounds from outside or in, and Drake reappeared beside her with no more warning than the absence of cold air from the still-open door as it clicked shut.
   “You should have waited outside as I told you to.” Though he spoke in the undertone that suggested he didn’t want anyone to hear him more than a yard or two away, an edge of anger tinged his voice. “This innkeeper has always been a friend to . . . a Trelawny, but one never knows when someone with the marquess’s rank comes along.”
   “I know. I was thinking Romsford or his men could have come by sea and gotten ahead of me.” She held out her hand, still shaking from the cold and perhaps more, needing reassurance. “He couldn’t have, could he?”
   “I’d like to say no.” He took her hand and tucked it into the crook of his elbow. “I haven’t seen any sign of another boat or horses present, but we’ll proceed with caution. Shall we?” He led the way across the common room, his booted feet making less sound than her slippers and dragging gown.
   At the inner door, he released her and raised his hand to his neck. When he brought his fingers in front of him again, light flashed off the blade of a knife.
   Elizabeth raised her own knife and stepped back.
   “One can’t be too careful.” His teeth flashed in the faint light, and then he lifted the door latch with his free hand.
   Light flared from a single candle guttering on a deal table in the center of the kitchen. Cold air swirling around them suggested an open door beyond the stacks of barrels lining the walls and forming a divider against one end of the room. Despite the candle, the room appeared deserted.
   “Where’s the innkeeper?” Elizabeth asked.
   “I don’t know. I thought he would be in here by a fire.” He glided away from her, moving through the shadows cast by the flickering tallow dip on the table. “I’ll secure this back door and then build a fire.”
   Teeth clenched against their chattering, Elizabeth huddled by the door to the common room, her dagger drawn, her gaze fixed on her brother.
   He prowled around the periphery of the room, looking behind the stores too plentiful for an inn with little business, a clear sign of a man in league with smugglers. He moved with grace and stealth for such a big man. And a man he was now, not the youth of nineteen she’d left in Cornwall. He’d grown brawnier, seemed a bit taller. And he apparently cared little for the fashion of shorter hair; his own fell in loose waves around his ears and collar. Such pretty dark hair for a man to possess.
   Too pretty. Too dark.
   He glided out of the shadows behind a stack of barrels. The candlelight fell full on his face for the first time, and Elizabeth pressed a hand to her lips to stifle a scream, her heart battering against her ribs like the sea beating at the rocky shore outside. She managed to choke out, “You’re not my brother.”
Laurie Alice Eakes, A Lady's Honor Zondervan, © 2014.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Heart's Obsession by Colleen Coble, © 2015

Journey of the Heart series

A Heart's Obsession 2 
Part 2 of 6 in the Journey of the Heart series ~ 
I've made some massive changes to them, and I hope you enjoy these new, updated stories. This installment begins to show what Sarah faces in winning Rand back again.
   --author Colleen Coble

My review:
This six-part novella series is a reissue of the Wyoming series, earlier works by Colleen Coble ~ Where Leads the Heart and continuing Plains of Promise, to be enjoyed by new readers and renewed by those who read them when they were first published almost a decade ago. The story continues as Sarah Montgomery travels through the American West with her brother, Jacob, and his wife, and their younger brother, Joel, to Fort Laramie, Wyoming.

Thinking her constant friend, Lieutenant Rand Campbell, will be so pleased to see her, Sarah finds she is mistaken as he has moved on without her. As the tribal chiefs near the fort have asked to have their children schooled, Sarah is requested to teach them English and reading and writing. She makes friends with two of the older teenagers, Morning Song and Ah-ho-appa.

Change enters into the lives of Morning Song, daughter of White Raven, and a Sioux chief's daughter, Ah-ho-appa; and those at the fort, Jessica and her mother, Letty, and Amelia. Being introduced to new characters, brings them into the story as we continue to learn of the new life before Sarah at Fort Laramie.

Trouble comes when Ben Croftner arrives and causes havoc. Will there be retaliation in the midst of winter, removing peace between the fort and the Indian encampment? (to be continued in next month's issue...)

Collen Coble's Blog http://colleencoble.com

These are the six serial parts published in short installments at regular intervals, as a novel appearing in successive issues of a magazine. The blog tour dates are:

Book One
 ~ A Heart's Disguise: March 10 - 31, 2015 ~ review content
Book Two
 ~ A Heart's Obsession: April 10 - 30, 2015 ~
Book Three
 ~ A Heart's Danger: May 11 - 31, 2015 ~
Book Four
 ~ A Heart's Betrayal: June 10 - 30, 2015 ~
Book Five
 ~ A Heart's Promise: July 10 - 31, 2015 ~
Book Six
 ~ A Heart's Home: August 10 - 31, 2015 ~

***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for inviting me to join the blog tours for the Journey of the Heart series by Colleen Coble, and to Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a copy of Book Two, A Heart's Obsession for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

A Heart's Disguise, Colleen Coble
Book 1
A Heart's Obsession, Colleen Coble
Book 2
A Heart's Danger, Colleen Coble
Book 3
A Heart’s Betrayal, Colleen Coble
Book 4
A Heart's Promise, Colleen Coble
Book 5
Image result for a heart's home by colleen coble
Book 6