Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection ~ Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, Heather Day Gilbert, Jocelyn Green, Maureen Lang, © 2017

Hope Reaches Across the Centuries in One Single Bottle, Inspiring Five Romances

My Review:
You are in for a treat when you begin reading the stories of hope traveling in the different time periods.

A sprinkling of hope that ignites hearts to believe again ~ beyond their limited scope. How narrowly do we keep our boundaries?
   A new voice seemed to penetrate his heart––a truthful voice that seemed older than time itself. The voice said only one word, but he heard it very clearly: hope.
   --The Distant Tide, 41.
1170: County Kerry, Ireland
Join Princess Britta as she finds a foe is a person who is not a threat to her ~ only to his memory of past confrontation with her kingdom home.

 Lucky white heather from Scotland
Long days have maneuvered between what was and what is today...
Duncan and MegAnd there--just in the very depths of her eyes––he saw it. A flicker of hope––distant and elusive as a will-o'-the-wisp light upon the loch. If she could dare to believe...
   --A Song in the Night, 115.
1715: Scotland and England
Could it be all that her heart desired? Meg MacNaughton sought a touch of home, strength enough to bolster courage. Longingly, the messenger.
"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search."
Psalm 77:6
Peace to renew strength.

Image result for pearl street NYC 1798
Miss Abigail Van de Klerk has been sent to the home of her friend by her father for the summer season to entertain proper decorum away from his medical practice.
"...Age is only important as it relates to experience."
   --The Forgotten Hope, 187.
1798: New York

It is so important to be who we are, and not to emulate another for societal expectations. Frivolity does not match solidity in character when misrepresented, especially on first impressions. For in being ourselves we find out who we truly are intended to be. Beloved.
IMG_3225.JPGMiss Cora Mae Stewart had a decision to make to be able to continue care for her mama: By settling for her pap's parting request, now including care for young June, herself needing a mama. Or... upturned by war, the dispatch of Union soldiers removing her from her Southern mill work drawing patterns for Confederate uniforms. This second decision wasn't hers to make.
Hearing her talk had been like looking at his own reflection, the recognition so complete, it was like coming home. The woman he captured just this morning was now seizing his heart instead.
   --A River between Us, 293-4.
1864: Roswell, Georgia
Following orders does not cover the courage of a longing to care for another protectively. Dreams, faith, and hope, not lost amid uncertain travel to destiny as it seemed.
Dare to imagine a different life than the one you got used to expecting.
   --Ibid., 296.
Is that beautiful, or what!
"Hope is on the inside. Even if the vessel is battered and scarred. Hope can still live within."
   --Ibid., 322.
You will indeed cry with this story!!

"I write things down that I mean not to forget. Notes for remembrance."
    --The Swelling Sea, 379.
1890: Coronado Island, California
Image result for hotel del coronado 1888
Rosie Graham meets Jonas McIntosh on the beach as he frees a bottle from the salt-laden sand near the edge of the water. Insistent that it is hers, she attempts to have it. A story of encouragement, understanding, and a hope without boundaries.

I know I will be starting back to the beginning as these stories are interwoven with a single word on a bottle that is cherished and sent forth to a further generation who will realize its message at just the right time.
Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:10
EnJ*O*Y this excerpt beginning in 834 AD Ireland ~ Prologue


“You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.”
Job 11:16 NIV

Ballyfír Monastery, the North of Ireland
834 AD

Flames lapped at the monk’s robes. He raced down corridors that crackled with the collision of dampness and heat, dodging fire-lit debris. So this was to be the end, then. The night the stones of Ballyfír Monastery would tell their last tale.
   Voices ricocheted. Quick into an alcove he pressed himself, wincing against the sharp, foreign echoes. One man barked out heavy words, only to be cut off by another. How many were there? Five in the cross path, by the sounds of it. Maybe more. Perhaps there was yet hope, if their number was small. Another, more distant voice summoned them away, and they thundered in the direction of the cellarium.
   Good, he thought. Let them take the food. If they will but leave the words. . .
   The monk released his breath then pulled in ash-thick air only to sputter it back out in a fit of coughing. Turning, he flung open the latched window and gasped for clean air. He was too far from the round tower where the finished manuscripts were stored, but he might reach the scriptorium before the fire did. The Living Word must endure.
   But as he filled his lungs afresh, he saw them: three ships curled against the night in stark silhouette, horrible dragon mouths agape upon each prow. Torchlights running to and fro on board, on the beach, winding their way up the hill to the monastery like one great serpent, ready to swallow them whole.
   “Please, Father.” His whispered prayer was raspy. “If we perish, may hope yet live.”
   Slipping into the empty corridor, the prayer released a thousand leaden weights that had anchored him: the sight of the abbot moments before, slain in the refectory; the desperation that washed over him at the thought of those confined to the infirmary, unable to escape; and the subsequent realization that none of his brothers could flee—not far enough, on this island. Tonight Ballyfír—the place of truth—would give its life for truth. For hope.
   Suddenly the yelling, the crashing debris, the pounding footsteps, and shrieks of a raid faded until all he could hear was his own heartbeat carrying him swiftly to what he sought. In the darkness of the scriptorium he grabbed for something—anything—to protect the words. He laid hold of a vessel, hand-forged by one of the metalworking brothers, its cold bronze inscribed with braided intricacies and a Latin word encircling its neck. He pitched the quills it held and capped it. The bottle was a messenger, now. A guardian.
   He gripped it and ran to snatch the parchments from the table. With full arms he lingered but a moment, torn: Should he flee back into the fiery mayhem, where destruction would surely consume the pages? The room seemed smaller and smaller, and so did he, until his eyes fell on the small wooden door in the corner—only waist-high, created to retrieve candles from the cupboard shared with the kitchen. He dashed to it, flung open the door, tossed the cupboard’s contents out, and burrowed through to the other side.
   A door scraped open behind him. They’d breached the scriptorium. Pulse rushing in his ears, he scrambled into the kitchen and through its door to the outside, where the night cloaked him long enough to reach the cliff-side tower. Wind lashed his face and plucked the parchment leaves from his arms until he held fast to what remained: one solitary sheet in a swirling dance of wind-borne pages. Despair threatened to cripple him, but truth was truth whether one page or fifty. The tower door creaked open to his push, and he took the steps up, up, up two at a time until he burst into the tower chamber—home to the perpetual flame that guided weary visitors to them. The monk shivered, realizing it was the work of his own hand that had guided the Vikings here—for he’d tended the flame just hours ago. Was it such a short time? It seemed an eternity, and now he stood on the brink of just that.
   With a mighty heave, he pushed open the window latch overlooking the surf. Time stood still as he rolled the solitary parchment up, glimpsing its ornately illuminated words as he did. He slipped the scroll inside the bottle. This, then, would be their legacy to the world. He would set it free to be carried somewhere, to safety if it pleased God.
   Windows in every direction, he turned to take in the sight of his earthly home one last time, clutching the vessel to his chest.
   Behind him, he glimpsed the far end of the monastery, where the open-air cloister walled in a handful of candles flickering amid the firestorm encroaching around them. Those who still lived must have gathered there. He could hear their harmonies rising on the wind, a haunting and sweeping steadiness carried with each interlaced note, wrapping him with the peace of his God. Peace that made no sense. Peace that could only be from its very Author.
   Beside him, the steady stream of torches grew closer.
   And before him, the midnight sea waited to swallow the precious words. Through cracked lips, the monk prayed the waves would not bury them, but carry them until they could speak life into another soul.
   Perhaps even the souls of their attackers.
   “Father, forgive them. . . .”
   He lifted the candle and dripped its wax around the bottle’s mouth to seal it before securing the lid. By the light of the single flame, he read the word etched 11 upon the bronze with such care: Spero.
   He stretched his arm out through the window and, gathering every bit of strength left within him, hurled it outward. It arced, briefly catching the moonlight, then dropped into the dark water below.
   It was finished.
   The monk dropped to his knees, hands clasped, and joined his voice with his brothers in a song of life, even as Viking shouts overpowered them.
   The stones of Ballyfír told their last tale that night. . .but it was just the beginning.

***Thank you lovely authors for gifting me with this beautiful volume. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Joanne Bischof

Amanda Dykes

Heather Day Gilbert
Jocelyn Green
Maureen Lang


  1. This is just beautiful, Kathleen! I enjoy these compilations and this one is a definite must read for me! {{hugs}}

    1. Each story is so interesting, as you read, you would like it expanded into a full-length novel! They flow so nicely as hope is offered in each setting. Blessings to you, Anne. Kathleen x